Thursday 26 May 2011

News, Views and Music Issue 101 (Top Five): The most AAA songs recorded in a single session!

Modern performers have it easy. Nowadays in 2011 if a rock star releases more than two albums a decade critics think they’re ‘spreading themselves too thinly’, so that Lady Gaga can get away with having her reputation rest on only two albums and singers like Adele can quite happily sit back and chart every other year of her life (we’ve had ‘19’ and now ‘21’ so ‘23’ must be next). Even AAA artists aren’t immune - why EMI even told Paul McCartney he could have 1996 off because after the Beatles Anthology project the year before the record label didn’t ‘need’ any new product from him for a while. But it never used to be like this. Back in the early to mid 1960s rock and roll was still seen as a fad that had to be captured and released quickly before the fickle audience disappeared to something else. Of course now, nearly 50 years after some of these albums were released, we know this music is never going to fade away or die – but the record executives who’d seen skiffle and jugband music come and go couldn’t possibly have forseen websites like this one discussing the work made in a three hour sessions as some sort of high art. So this week we look at the most productive days in AAA musical history, with the most released-in-the-band’s-lifetime songs recorded in a single day... (alas not every record label kept full documentation so we’ve had to exclude some vague recording dates from this list – see The Rolling Stones, for whom little recording info is known at all!)    

5) Six songs recorded by The Hollies on the 29th October 1963: Like many albums on this list, this productive day was during sessions for what became the Hollies’ debut album, ‘Stay With The Hollies’ released in January 1964. The sessions kicked off with a driving cover of Chuck Berry’s ‘Memphis Tennessee’, which was the best version around till ‘Beatles at the BBC’ came out. The band then moved on to a song made famous by Chuck ‘Talkin’ Bout You’, best heard in extended form on the ‘EP Collection’ (and one of the few missing tracks not included on the ‘Clarke-Hicks-Nash Years’ box set). A slight detour into the Conway Twitty ballad ‘It’s Only Make Believe’ came next, with Clarke and Nash’s harmonies clearly showing the strain of several hours of recording. Next it was on with a rather wet cover of Little Richard’s ‘Lucille’, with block harmonies substituting for Richard Penniman’s rock and roll yell. The fifth track to be recorded was the slightly curious choice of ‘Baby Don’t Cry’, a rather drab novelty number that’s one of the few misfires on the early Hollies LPs. The band then finished with the slightly hysterical cover of the Gordy Junior hit ‘Do You Love Me?’, better known from a later Brian Poole and the Tremeloes cover. It’s another oddball choice for The Hollies that I can’t imagine appearing on any other AAA band’s discography, but the arrangement is impressive with Allan Clarke’s vocals a neat mix of innocence and the rawness that only comes after a long recording day. Amazingly, unlike many other AAA stars who go on to set their own rules and conditions, the Hollies will record five songs on a single day during sessions for next LP ‘In The Hollies Style’ (on the 27th April 1964) and a further four on the 15th December 1964.

4) Nine songs recorded by The Kinks on the 15th February 1965: Sessionography lists for Pye bands like The Kinks and The Searchers are a bit vague to say the least, but we do know that the band were holed up in London’s Pye Studios to make as many tracks as possible for their second album ‘Kinda Kinks’ on this day and all 12 tracks for the album had been finished by no later than February 17th (barring an A and B side and a resurrected outtake in ‘Don’t Ever Change’ recorded two months previously). Ray Davies is scathing about both Pye and this album in his ‘unauthorised autobiography’, remembering that he’d been pulled, jetlagged, off a plane in order to go record these songs while suffering from a nasty insect bite that had to be treated by doctors and was ‘pulled from the arms’ of his teenage bride and first baby. What a glamorous life rock stars lived in the 1960s! Certainly the recordings are rougher than any other Kinks album – even their first – and you can trace Ray Davies’ disappearing voice across the album, even if we don’t know which tracks were recorded first and last (my guess is that ‘Nothin’ In The World’ and ‘So Long’ came early on and the frantic ‘Look For Me Baby’ and ‘Dancing In The Street’ came near the end). Times did change for the band by the time of third album ‘The Kinks Kontroversy’ when Pye allowed the band the luxury of recording all 12 songs in – gosh – a whole week!

3) Ten songs recorded by The Beach Boys on the 16th of July 1963: We mentioned on our review for debut album ‘Surfin’ Safari’ (seed ‘news and views no 28) how lucky the Beach Boys were compared to their English counterparts by being given sessions spread over a few months to hone their style and get used to the recording studio. That had long passed by the time Capitol realised just how much product they were selling and by the time of this third album the band were back in a hot studio in July recording every single track but one for the album at the same session (all except the title track – recorded the month before – and ‘Little Deuce Coupe’, recorded a full 24 hours earlier!) The songs include such well loved fan favourites as ‘Catch A Wave’ ‘In My Room’ and ‘Our Car Club’ (indeed, many fans regard this album as the best of their pre-‘Pet Sounds’ recordings), which makes for a very successful day’s work indeed. Amazingly, too, you can’t really hear the band decline across this album as you can some of the others on this list – which is quite staggering given that a) the band had just come off a lengthy tour and b) even more than the other groups on this list The Beach Boys arrangements’ were so harmony driven. Things do let up slightly for the band – the bulk of follow up ‘Little Deuce Coupe’ was recorded in two separate sessions! No wonder Brian Wilson had a nervous breakdown just a year or so later...

2) Ten songs recorded by The Beatles on the 11th of February 1963: The famous one of course, that every fan knows, when every single track for debut ‘Please Please Me’ was recorded, barring the two A and B sides (‘Love Me Do’ ‘PS I Love You’ ‘Ask Me Why’ and ‘Please Please Me’ itself) was recorded in one hurried eight hour rush (see ‘news and views no 92 for more!) Thanks to the hard work of the Abbey Road Studio boffins we can even tell you what order they were recorded in – There’s A Place, I Saw Her Standing There, A Taste Of Honey, Do You Want To Know A Secret?, Misery, an abandoned attempt at ‘Hold Me Tight’ not counted for the sake of this article, Anna (Go To Him), Boys, Chains, Baby It’s You (where Lennon’s vocals are already becoming ragged) and of course Twist And Shout, recorded in one take only because the band had time to spare and wanted their Cavern crowd-pleaser on the record. No wonder Lennon’s vocals sound so ragged (he spent the half hour before the take drinking hot milk, while the band perfomed stripped to the waist under the hot studio lights, with the Abbey Road staff egging them on as per a live gig) – and no wonder the band were sent home after attempting a second take, with Lennon’s vocals shot to pieces. The amazing thing really is that such an inexperienced band who’d been working all day could pull off a masterpiece without a proper rehearsal – or that Lennon was ever able to talk, let alone sing, ever again. Even without ‘Twist and Shout’ in the mix this is an incredibly varied bunch, though, for one studio session. Thankfully things got easier during sessions for follow-up LP ‘With The Beatles’, although the bulk of this album was recorded in just three days spread out over a period of three months!

1) Eleven songs recorded by The Searchers sometime in 1963!: For years I’ve been reading about how the Searchers outdid The Beatles by recording every song  on their debut album ‘Meet The Searchers’ except for the single ‘Sweets For My Sweet’. Unfortunately, nobody seems to know which day the band achieved this grand feat on – the CD sleevenotes tell me it was ‘within a day’, Frank Allen doesn’t know in his autobiography ‘Travelling Man’ because he hadn’t joined the band yet and no amount of research will reveal to me which date it was. Alas The Searchers were another band on Pye, who kept rough records of all recordings rather than fanatical notes like the EMI mob and so we only have the very vaguest of ideas. No matter though – people do seem to be agreed that the Searchers did record 11 songs on a single day and that’s good enough for me. Perhaps that fact explains why this album is so underwhelming compared to all four other masterpieces the Searchers released – the energy that’s the hallmark of the earlier recordings is missing for the most part (the band sound half asleep at times – though who can blame them cramming this lot into five or six hours?) and the sophistication that creeps in from 1964 hasn’t been discovered yet. As a result, only the hilarious ‘Love Potion no 9’ and the gorgeous ‘Since You Broke My Heart’ really shine through. It’s hard to hear any real strain on the band’s voice either – surprising given that in this era bassist Tony Jackson was doing the lion’s share of the singing – although ‘Farmer John’ does sound a bit scrappy and a likely candidate for being recorded at the end of the day.  

Well, that’s it from us again. See you again next issue – assuming, of course, that our IT problems don’t come back to haunt us...

A NOW COMPLETE List Of Top Five/Top Ten/TOP TWENTY  Entries 2008-2019
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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

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

225) The shortest gaps between AAA albums

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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

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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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