Monday 13 December 2010

News, Views and Music Issue 83 (Top Five) Weird AAA Cover Versions

In the annals of the Alans Archive member groups there are some truly weird and wonderful sounds. Weve already covered most of these elsewhere on the site in our psychedelia and experimental sections (take a bow John Lennon sound collages, Brian Wilson chopping up wood for a Beach Boys backing track and Pink Floyd songs about roadies cooking breakfast!), but this week were looking at the more mainstream oddities, pieces of music so clearly identified with another artist or another era so completely you wonder how on earth they ever got suggested in the first place:

5) Paul McCartney and Wings Crossroads (from Venus and Mars, 1976): For instance, what on earth possessed the ex-Beatle to re-record a minute long theme from a soap opera by the prolific Tony Hatch on an album that was intended to be Maccas big return to the spotlight following the success of Band On The Run? Well, officially its meant to be a bit of a pun, hidden away at the end of the album a la Her Majesty on the Beatles Abbey Road and following a track called Lonely Old People (because, thought Macca, lonely old people liked to watch Crossroads and sat in front of the telly to take away the pain of being old if you listen to the lyrics of the song I wonder how Macca feels about it now that hes 68?!) Yep, I can just imagine how that band meeting went: So, guys, I love the heavy adult feel of this album but it would be great if we could end it with a snatch of a soap opera tune that only people of a certain age will recognise in years to come...

4) Neil Young Oh! Lonesome Me! (from After The Goldrush, 1970): I actually really like this cover, which is usually held up by critics and fans to be the one mistake on Neils breakthrough LP. But it is truly truly weird this happy poppy country song, overplayed from millions of cover versions by Johnny Cash and Nancy Sinatra among others, is slowed down to a crawl with Neils mouthorgan overpowering us with emotion after practically every line. But the sentiments of the song how the narrators girl is out having fun after they split but all he can do is think about her and mope is far more in keeping with Neils revisitation than the faux optimism of the original and most covers. The restrictive and bare-bones accompaniment put the emphasis on Neils vocal rather than his guitar or piano playing for perhaps the only time in his prolific career and its one of his best, full of pathos and barely concealed hurt. Despite being at the peak of his career in sales terms, Neil was deeply unhappy in this period, splitting from his first wife shortly before the Goldrush sessions and no song sums up his lost dazed state more than this quietly impressive cover.

3) Ray Davies That Old Black Magic (from The Storyteller, 1998): When the elder Kinks brother started touring a part-monologue, part-musical show based around his unofficial autobiography X-Ray (alright, Ill use that joke just one last time!) fans were expecting lots of unusual developments. They got them too songs about Rays childhood worries of becoming disabled following a football accident, songs about Rays first hopeless attempts at chatting up the girls at his art school and most movingly a song about an early fan who kept cropping up at early gigs. But the biggest surprise was this revival of a hoary old mainstream classic, remembered from Rays childhood as a song his sisters would play regularly on the radio and delivered pretty much straight (well, until the innuendo at the end of the song anyway). The shock of hearing one of rocks biggest rebels and outsiders treating song from the era before his birth with such awe makes for the most bizarre experiences in Kinks record collecting, give or take a phenomenal cat or two.

2) Hollies Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah (an outtake from The Hollies sessions 1965, first issues on a music for pleasure compilation also titled The Hollies from 1984 and currently available on The Hollies At Abbey Road Volume One): An outtake from the album reviewed above, this is also one of the strangest experiences a collector can have. A classic Disney song from the now sadly forgotten part-animation part-live action film Song Of The South, the Hollies dispense with the laidback arrangement of the original in favour of a raucous and rocky reading of a bright and bubbly song perfectly in keeping with The Hollies of 1963 and 1964 (although it just sounds wrong when heard amongst their more troubled 1965 recordings). In their early days The Hollies were energy and enthusiasm set against The Beatles professionalism, The Searchers primitivism and The Stones air of uncaring naughtiness and so whilst Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah would be a mistake in anybody elses hands it suits The Hollies just fine and you can almost see those bluebirds on your shoulder when you play it (quit chirping so loud, guys, Im trying to listen!)

1) Byrds Well Meet Again (from Mr Tambourine Man, 1965): The weirdest AAA cover of all, though, has to be the famous Vera Lynn war anthem heard re-done in a folk rock format in a surprisingly reverential version by the early Byrds. All of the first few Byrds albums end with some weird musical statement (follow-up Turn!Turn!Turn! ends with a banjo-led Oh! Susannah!(!)) but this one takes the biscuit Vera Lynn is replaced by an earnest sounding Roger McGuinn and a barely-keeping-off-the-hysterics David Crosby who treat the song to some typical Byrds-ish Rickenbacker guitar and some, erm, interesting American pronounciations of the words (till we meet again some sunny day-e-ay, yay yay yay). Its been said, though, that this version of the song is less about seeing sweethearts after the patriotic World War Two than seeing sweethearts after draft-dodging the rather less patriotic and more confused moral ground of Vietnam, a war just beginning to make the headlines when the band recorded this. If the 1960s were a renunciation of everything the previous war-focussed generation had been through (as some of this website has been arguing), then this faithful adaptation is a true oddity, a song originally bought by the parents of the teenyboppers who bought the early Byrds albums and meaning something quite different to both generations, an astonishing time capsule of changing eras and beliefs. Although, having said that, McGuinn for one has said he just considered Well Meet Again to be a good tune.

Well, thats it for another issue. Im not sure whats happening next week but if we are free we shall be bringing you what will be our third Christmas special, looking at the best releases of the year. See you then!    

A NOW COMPLETE List Of Top Five/Top Ten/TOP TWENTY  Entries 2008-2019
1) Chronic Fatigue songs

2) Songs For The Face Of Bo

3) Credit Crunch Songs

4) Songs For The Autumn

5) National Wombat Week

6) AAA Box Sets

7) Virus Songs

8) Worst AAA-Related DVDs

9) Self-Punctuating Superstar Classics

10) Ways To Know You Have Turned Into A Collector

11) Political Songs

12) Totally Bonkers Concept Albums

13) Celebrating 40 Years Of The Beatles' White Album

14) Still Celebrating 40 Years Of The Beatles' White Album

15) AAA Existential Questions

16) Releases Of The Year 2008

17) Top AAA Xmas Songs

18) Notable AAA Gigs

19) All things '20' related for our 20th issue

20) Romantic odes for Valentine's Day

21) Hollies B sides

22) 'Other' BBC Session Albums

23) Beach Boys Rarities Still Not Available On CD

24) Songs John, Paul and George wrote for Ringo's solo albums

25) 5 of the Best Rock 'n' Roll Tracks From The Pre-Beatles Era

26) AAA Autobiographies

27) Rolling Stones B-sides

28) Beatles B-Sides

29) The lllloooonnngggeesssttt AAA songs of all time

30) Kinks B-Sides

31) Abandoned CSNY projects 'wasted on the way'

32) Best AAA Rarities and Outtakes Sets

33) News We've Missed While We've Been Away

34) Birthday Songs for our 1st Anniversary

35) Brightest Album Covers

36) Biggest Recorded Arguments

37) Songs About Superheroes

38) AAA TV Networks That Should Exist

39) AAA Woodtsock Moments

40) Top Moments Of The Past Year As Voted For By Readers

41) Music Segues

42) AAA Foreign Language Songs

43) 'Other' Groups In Need Of Re-Mastering

44) The Kinks Preservation Rock Opera - Was It Really About The Forthcoming UK General Election?

45) Mono and Stereo Mixes - Biggest Differences

46) Weirdest Things To Do When A Band Member Leaves

47) Video Clips Exclusive To Youtube (#1)

48) Top AAA Releases Of 2009

49) Songs About Trains

50) Songs about Winter

51) Songs about astrology plus horoscopes for selected AAA members

52) The Worst Five Groups Ever!

53) The Most Over-Rated AAA Albums

54) Top AAA Rarities Exclusive To EPs

55) Random Recent Purchases (#1)

56) AAA Party Political Slogans

57) Songs To Celebrate 'Rock Sunday'

58) Strange But True (?) AAA Ghost Stories

59) AAA Artists In Song

60) Songs About Dogs

61) Sunshiney Songs

62) The AAA Staff Play Their Own Version Of Monoploy/Mornington Crescent!

63) What 'Other' British Invasion DVDs We'd Like To See

64) What We Want To Place In Our AAA Time Capsule

65) AAA Conspiracy Theroies

66) Weirdest Things To Do Before - And After - Becoming A Star

67) Songs To Tweet To

68) Greatest Ever AAA Solos

69) John Lennon Musical Tributes

70) Songs For Halloween

71) Earliest Examples Of Psychedelia

72) Purely Instrumental Albums

73) AAA Utopias

74) AAA Imaginary Bands

75) Unexpected AAA Cover Versions

76) Top Releases of 2010

77) Songs About Snow

78) Predictions For 2011

79) AAA Fugitives

80) AAA Home Towns

81) The Biggest Non-Musical Influences On The 1960s

82) AAA Groups Covering Other AAA Groups

83) Strange Censorship Decisions

84) AAA Albums Still Unreleased on CD

85) Random Recent Purchases (#2)

86) Top AAA Music Videos

87) 30 Day Facebook Music Challenge

88) AAA Documentaries

89) Unfinished and 'Lost' AAA Albums

90) Strangest AAA Album Covers

91) AAA Performers Live From Mars (!)

92) Songs Including The Number '100' for our 100th Issue

93) Most Songs Recorded In A Single Day

94) Most Revealing AAA Interviews

95) Top 10 Pre-Fame Recordings

96) The Shortest And Longest AAA Albums

97) The AAA Allstars Ultimate Band Line-Up

98) Top Songs About Sports

99) AAA Conversations With God

100) AAA Managers: The Good, The Bad and the Financially Ugly

101) Unexpected AAA Cameos

102) AAA Words You can Type Into A Caluclator

103) AAA Court Cases

104) Postmodern Songs About Songwriting

105) Biggest Stylistic Leaps Between Albums

106) 20 Reasons Why Cameron Should Go!

107) The AAA Pun-Filled Cookbook

108) Classic Debut Releases

109) Five Uses Of Bird Sound Effects

110) AAA Classic Youtube Clips Part #1

111) Part #2

112) Part #3

113) AAA Facts You Might Not Know

114) The 20 Rarest AAA Records

115) AAA Instrumental Songs

116) Musical Tarot

117) Christmas Carols

118) Top AAA Releases Of 2011

119) AAA Bands In The Beano/The Dandy

120) Top 20 Guitarists #1

121) #2

122) 'Shorty' Nomination Award Questionairre

123) Top Best-Selling AAA Albums

124) AAA Songs Featuring Bagpipes

125) A (Hopefully) Complete List Of AAA Musicians On Twitter

126) Beatles Albums That Might Have Been 1970-74 and 1980

127) DVD/Computer Games We've Just Invented

128) The AAA Albums With The Most Weeks At #1 in the UK

129) The AAA Singles With The Most Weeks At #1 in the UK

130) Lyric Competition (Questions)

131) Top Crooning Classics

132) Funeral Songs

133) AAA Songs For When Your Phone Is On Hold

134) Random Recent Purchases (#3)

135) Lyric Competition (Answers)

136) Bee Gees Songs/AAA Goes Disco!

137) The Best AAA Sleevenotes (And Worst)

138) A Short Precise Of The Years 1962-70

139) More Wacky AAA-Related Films And Their Soundtracks

140) AAA Appearances On Desert Island Discs

141) Songs Exclusive To Live Albums

142) More AAA Songs About Armageddon

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159) A (Not That) Short Guide To The 15 Best Non-AAA Bands

160) The Greatest AAA Drum Solos (Or Near Solos!)

161) AAA Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame Acceptance Speeches

162) AAA Re-Recordings Of Past Songs

163) A Coalition Christmas (A Fairy Tale)

164) AAA Songs About Islands

165) The AAA Review Of The Year 2012

166) The Best AAA Concerts I Attended

167) Tributes To The 10 AAA Stars Who Died The Youngest

168) The First 10 AAA Songs Listed Alphabetically

171) The 10 Best Songs From The Psychedelia Box-Sets ‘Nuggets’ and ‘Nuggets Two’

172) The 20 Most Common Girl’s Names In AAA Song Titles (With Definitions) 

180) First Recordings By Future AAA Stars

185) A Tribute To Storm Thorgerson Via The Five AAA Bands He Worked With

188) Surprise! Celebrating 300 Album Reviews With The Biggest 'Surprises' Of The Past Five Years Of Alan's Album Archives!

190) Comparatively Obscure First Compositions By AAA Stars

193) Evolution Of A Band: Comparing First Lyric With Last Lyric:

200) The Monkees In Relation To Postmodernism (University Dissertation)

202) Carly Simon's 'You're So Vain': Was It About One Of The AAA Crew?

217) AAA 'Christmas Presents' we'd most like to have next year

221) Dr Who and the AAA (Five Musical Links)

222) Five Random Recent Purchases

223) AAA Grammy Nominees

224) Ten AAA songs that are better heard unedited and in full

225) The shortest gaps between AAA albums

226) The longest gaps between AAA albums

227) Top ten AAA drummers

228) Top Ten AAA Singles (In Terms of 'A' and 'B' Sides)

229) The Stories Behind Six AAA Logos

230) AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!! The Best Ten AAA Screams

231) An AAA Pack Of Horses

232) AAA Granamas - Sorry, Anagrams!

233) AAA Surnames and Their Meanings

234) 20 Erroneous AAA Album Titles

235) The Best AAA Orchestral Arrangements

236) Top 30 Hilariously Misheard Album Titles/Lyrics

237) Ten controversial AAA sackings - and whether they were right

238) A Critique On Critiquing - In Response To Brian Wilson

239) The Ten MusicianS Who've Played On The Most AAA Albums

240) Thoughts on #CameronMustGo

241) Random Recent Purchases (Kinks/Grateful Dead/Nils Lofgren/Rolling Stones/Hollies) 

242) AAA Christmas Number Ones 

243) AAA Review Of The Year 2014 (Top Releases/Re-issues/Documentaries/DVDs/Books/Songs/ Articles  plus worst releases of the year)

244) Me/CFS Awareness Week 2015

245) Why The Tory 2015 Victory Seems A Little...Suspicious

246) A Plea For Peace and Tolerance After The Attacks on Paris - and Syria

247) AAA Review Of The Year 2015

248) The Fifty Most Read AAA Articles (as of December 31st 2015)

249) The Revised AAA Crossword!

251) Half-A-Dozen Berries Plus One (An AAA Tribute To Chuck Berry)

252) Guest Post: ‘The Skids – Joy’ (1981) by Kenny Brown

254) Guest Post: ‘Supertramp – Some Things Never Change’ by Kenny Brown

255) AAA Review Of The Year 2018

256) AAA Review Of The Year 2019 plus Review Of The Decade 2010-2019

257) Tiermaker

258) #Coronastock

259) #Coronadocstock

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