Monday, 21 February 2011

News, Views and Music Issue 92 (Top Five): AAA albums still waiting to be released on CD

And so ends our 200th issue. Will we make it to a 1000? To 300? Or struggle to get to 210?! Who knows. Another thing we don’t know is whether the few remaining gems in the AAA canon yet to have a CD release will get one by the time we reach the end of our journey. I’ve been dying to review some of the rarer and greater albums out there but I’m aware that the reader will have trouble finding some of them (not that that’s stopped me on a couple of albums that are just too great not to tell you about!) So here are the five albums that we’d most like to see on CD as of 2011 and article 200 – we’ll update you nearer the end of our lifespan to tell you if we ever managed to achieve a release for these forgotten gems!

5) Davy Jones “Davy Jones” (1966): Before Davy was in The Monkees the Colgems subsidiary label released their own self-titled album of the Mancunian who they were already grooming for stardom. Without much publicity and a retro 1950s sound completely out of step with the middle of the 1960s, it bombed completely but the single I own is impressive in a kind of cutesy teenybopper kind of way and I’m sure there’d be enough of a Monkees following to pay back the costs of re-issuing this set. You can see the album cover in the Monkees TV episode ‘Monkees at the Movies’ where the quartet are trying to fool a film producer that Davy is a ‘star’ – no wonder the band manage to put a mock-up album together so fast, seeing as it was a year old at the time of shooting! The same goes for later Monkees releases such as, well, ‘Release’, Peter Tork’s post-Monkees band who recorded an album in the early 70s that never came out and Micky Dolenz’s few post-Monkees releases (especially his album of duets with his sister Coco, ‘Micky Dolenz Puts You To Sleep!’) Mike Nesmith’s ‘Tropical Campfires’ wasn’t exactly available for long either.

4) The Beatles “Live At The Hollywood Bowl” (recorded 1964 and 1965, released 1977): When I tell people that a top 10 Beatles album has still never appeared on CD they think I’m monkeynuts or lying – not true, even if this live concert amalgam isn’t exactly a Beatles-promoted release. EMI were quite desperate for money in the late 1970s – some things never change – and instructed George Martin to have a go at salvaging the only officially recorded Beatles concert. After years of telling a sceptical press ‘the recording was so bad we couldn’t possibly use it’, George Martin was forced to do just that, remixing the album to take out some of the louder screams and sticking two concerts haphazardly together (both shows sound much better when heard complete I have to say, especially the later 1965 one when Lennon especially is on cracking form). Amazingly, despite all the fuss we have every few Beatles when the band/label start on a re-issue frenzy (2009’s remastered set and rockband game, 2004’s ‘Love’ 1995-6’s ‘Anthology’ and 1993’s ‘Live At The BBC’) the only official Beatles concert still remains absent from our shelves. Strange, especially considering that it was John and George who objected to its release the first time around – and neither Beatle is around to protest anymore. It also makes far more sense as a marketing exercise than the whole Love re-mix project which I still don’t understand, especially now we know EMI were working on the re-mastered albums in their entirety for some time before commissioning that project.

3) Grace Slick “Dreams” (1980): You’d think that the lead singer of a best-selling band with a huge cult following would have all of her fairly strong-selling albums back on catalogue wouldn’t you? But no, the only one of Grace’s albums available is 1973’s ‘Manhole’ and even that disappeared a long time ago (I won’t go into the travesty that’s the Grace Slick compilation ‘Somebody To Love?’ here, which passes over so many great solo tracks for worn out Jefferson songs). 1981’s ‘Welcome To The Wrecking Ball’ and 1985’s ‘Software’ are both pretty rare these days, but rarest of all is possibly the best album Grace was ever on, the largely autobiographical ‘Dreams’. Recorded when Grace had been booted out of the band for her problems with alcoholism this is a mature, consistent and exceptional work (which we’ve already covered in full in ‘news and views’ 39) which deserves pride of place in every Jefferson Airplane/Starship fans’ catalogue. So where the hell is it?! (Starship’s last two albums ‘No Protection’ and ‘Love Among The Cannibals’ are missing on CD too, but we’re not so concerned with that!)

2) Hotlegs aka 10cc “Thinks...School Stinks” a.k.a. “You Didn’t Like It Because You Didn’t Think About It” (1970): The first time the four members of the original 10cc were together on record, this album should be big news – not least because it’s actually a good deal more enjoyable than at least half of the band’s proper releases. And yet ask even some of the band’s biggest fans about it today and they’ll scratch their heads in amazement. We last heard about this album back in 1974 when 10cc were at their sales peak with ‘I’m Not In Love’ – and its never been seen since, except at second hand record fairs and the odd charity shop. Fair enough that it hasn’t been released in some form up till now – the band reportedly aren’t that keen on it and Graham Gouldmann is more of a guest than a fulltime member here. But for goodness sake, this album spawned a #2 hit with ‘Neanderthal Man’ and could have earned its creators quite a few extra royalties at a time when they needed them most (I’m sure fans would rather have had this album on CD than either of the two reunion monstrosities, albums made for money not artistic worth). See ‘news and views no 36’ for more about why this album’s non-appearance is nothing short of a travesty!)

1) Neil Young “Time Fades Away” (1973): His Neilness infamously hated digital technology so much when it came out that he refused to let some of his favourite among his albums out in the new format (a point that’s hardly mentioned here – was he just getting his own back on Stephen Stills, again, the first musician ever to use the technology back in the late 70s?!) Anyway, there always used to be six important Neil Young records you still couldn’t buy till five or so years ago: ‘Journey Through The Past’ ‘On The Beach’ ‘American Stars ‘n’ Bars’ ‘Hawks and Doves’ and ‘Re-Actor’ and this one. The others have all appeared in dribs and drabs over the years since (though ‘Journey’ for one seems to have disappeared almost as soon as it came out), but ‘Time Fades Away’ is still notable by its absence, despite being one of the darker and more important milestones in Neil’s recording career. The first album in Neil’s ‘doom trilogy’, recorded in the aftermath of Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten’s overdose death, its also Neil’s first live album, albeit made up of a ragged version of all-new songs with Crosby and Nash singing the most out-of-tune harmonies of their careers. Any album containing Neil’s most revealing track ‘Don’t Be Denied’, the jagged hypnotic ‘Last Dance’ and a whole bunch of yearning piano ballads deserves to be better known, however.

Let’s hope all five of these albums – plus a few others we could name like Moody Blue John Lodge’s ‘Natural Avenue’, Byrd Gene Clark’s ‘Echoes’ and ‘Roadmaster’ and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters’ ‘The Body’ and Rick Wright’s ‘Wet Dream’ and ‘Zee’- all get CD re-issues before we write another 200 articles! See you on article 201!

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