Thursday 12 May 2011

News, Views and Music Issue 99 (Top Ten): 'Live Earth' Concert Performances On Mars

Another report from Live Earth 1974: Peace brothers, sisters, belobrats and clandusprods! So what else could possibly follow the Grateful Dead playing the whole of their ‘Mars Hotel’ album at the Mars Hotel? Well, this lot actually: While struggling to get into my intergalactic hotel room on Mars, I came across the following AAA bands and musicians all checking in to play their own alien-themed sets (once the Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra, made up of various members of CSNY, the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane had finished playing their jam session there anyway!) All our AAA friends looked a bit lost and curious at first but all soon became clear when the proprietor of the Mars Hotel came along to tell us about the world’s first intergalactic benefit concert for the inhabitants of the Earth and had ‘beamed up’ some of our leading musicians to take part with some space-themed songs. And this is what they played...:

10) Neil Young “Lost in Space” (a track from the 1980 album ‘Hawks and Doves’): ‘Live with me’ starts this innocent-sounding ballad, one of the obscurer Neil Young tracks of the period. The song soon moves to some weird and wonderful places though with the arrival of the ‘Underwater Munchkins’ as they’re dubbed on the record, a group of high-pitched sped up Neil Youngs singing about their new home. Neil’s narrator, meanwhile, is ‘out of control, singing with too much soul’, alienated in his own little world ‘working for the Queen’. Along the way we get some ecology messages: ‘Don’t take out that magic pen, don’t draw on the infinity board’ that sounded to the audience on Mars like a message to mankind dabbling with things where nature knows best, before adding how we’d all do better to ‘start again on the ocean floor’. An uncomfortable, rambling, confusing song more like Dylan than Young, but nevertheless impressive enough to get the multi-limbed’ audiences 15 toes a tapping.

 9) The Beach Boys “Solar System” (a track from the 1977 album ‘The Beach Boys Love You’): Next came the Beach Boys who – after quick band bust-up – took off for Venus, leaving just Brain Wilson to sing a solo version of his pretty much soplo recording ‘Solar System’. A charming childlike track, dating from Brian’s in-bed period, it’s a tale of Brian looking through the telescope at all the planets in turn and wondering what it all means. You know what to expect really: ‘Neptune is God of the sea, Pluto is too far to see’, although there is a quick laugh from the inhabitants of the planet with the line ‘If Mars had life on it, I might find my wife on it’. Brian got a few marriage proposals that night I can tell you! There was a tense moment from the ambassador from planet Uranus, however, whose home planet was the only one in Earth’s solar system not actually mentioned by Brian in song.

8) Nils Lofgren “Trip To Mars” (a track from the 1995 album ‘Damaged Goods’): Next comes a home favourite , much loved by the citizens of Mars (who due to a biological quirk all wear bandanas like Nils’ and spend their days bouncing on trampolines) singing his best-known (on Mars) song ‘Trip To Mars’. It’s actually a schizophrenic song about the grown narrator feeling ‘violence’ inside and thinking ‘there must be more to living than this’ before remembering a happier childhood time when he didn’t have to keep face or stick to the rules and could dream of taking his friends ‘on a trip to mars’. There was even a multi-species choir, made up of beings from all over the galaxy joining in on the chorus: ‘Gotta get some dreams into my life, gotta get some life into my dreams’.

7) Oasis “D’yer Wanna Be A Spaceman?” ( B-side to the single ‘Shakermaker’ 1994): ‘Ere’ what’s going on?’ Noel Gallagher’s meant to have said when he was beamed up by the citizens of Mercury and found himself looking into some very familiar faces with shaggy eyebrows and deep thick hair. A stiff drink with a pangalactic gargleblaster later and Noel was ready to run, giving the crowd a brief sojourn of one of his earliest pre-Oasis songs, taking up Nils Lofgren’s themes about childhood dreams of trips into space.  Alas, though, the narrator in the song soon wakes up and finds himself an adult again, ruing all his missed opportunities along the way. Sniff, it brings a tear to your three eyes doesn’t it?

6) Paul McCartney and Wings “Venus and Mars” (title track of 1975 album ‘Venus and Mars’): At long last – the reunion of one of the Gamma Quadrant’s favourite bands! Yes, the middle line-up of Wings were back together again, if only briefly, with Jimmy McCulloch beamed back into life using the aliens’ ghost technology. Paul chose to do the two parts of his ‘Venus and Mars’ song as a medley, with a first verse about ‘sitting in the stands of the sports arena, waiting for the show to begin’ applauded by the crowd, before a friend searching the stars for the truth turns out to be on Venus and Mars looking back at the Earth on part two, in the hall of a ‘great cathedral’ waiting for the spaceship to take him home. Magical. The hosts even managed to provide proper 3D billiard balls representing the planets to re-create the album front cover for the backdrop – with Earth a kind of muddy gray. Paul was also delighted to introduce the next act, again rehabilitated by alien technology...

5) Yes it was his old sparring partner John Lennon, who had been invited to interrupt the music with a tale about what he had been doing in the afterlife and the first time he’d been visited by aliens. Unable to tell his fans and unwilling to put the thoughts into his music during a period when everyone thought he was mad, Lennon instead wrote the intriguing message ‘I saw a UFO October 1974’ on the inner sleeve of his ‘Walls and Bridges’ album. Lennon did too – it was his hosts from Mars trying to book him in for the gig early because they knew he’d be booked up for many decades to come!

4) Dave Davies “True Story” (a track from the 1983 album ‘Chosen People’): Next up is the only musician to have been visited by aliens and not kept quiet about them, the Kinks guitarist who revealed much about the aliens and their messages to him and to the planet in his illuminating autobiography ‘Kink’. His song ‘True Story’ from his overlooked third solo album ‘Chosen People’ is his most revealing song of many on the theme, with the aliens chanting in suitably alien voices: ‘We have a message for you...Your leaders will not listen...You can make them understand’, while Dave wails over the top ‘But what can I do? I’m just a poor boy and they won’t understand’. Why even the Earth ambassador Michael Jackson (you didn’t think he was human did you?!) cried during that performance!

3) The Byrds Medley: “Hungry Planet” into “Mr Spaceman” into “Space Odyssey” (tracks from the 1970 album ‘Untitled’, the 1966 album ‘5D (Fifth Dimension) and the 1968 album ‘Notorious Byrd Brothers’ respectively): ...And of course the great message given to Dave Davies was an ecological one about how humans were ruining their planet, so imagine their delight when Earthman Roger McGuinn revealed that he had had exactly the same concerns more than 40 years ago. ‘Hungry Planet’ is a driving rocker about how humans always want more from their planet’s natural resources and the narrator wants to get off, sick of all that greed, with the peculiar synthesiser effects of the original replaced by the Neptune Squirlygig machine, an update of the Earth mellotron. The song then moved onto the Byrds’ relative flop single ‘Mr Spaceman’, with the similar demands that passing aliens take the narrator up ‘for a ride’ because he’s the one who feels alien on Earth. It took a long time explaining to the varied audience what ‘toothpaste’ was but apart from that the lyrics went down a treat! The medley then ended with McGuinn’s ‘sea shanty in space’ with the human race venturing outside their boundaries in all senses of the word, seeing pyramids on other planets and yo-ho-hoing their way across the eternal wastes of space. The dates were a bit wrong (in ’93 and ’96 we ventured to the moon’ – strange because as all good solar system inhabitants apparently know, the moon is really a hollow spaceship left by a clumsy astronaut from Venus) but apart from that this early song about human pioneers went down well!

2) Pink Floyd Medley: “Astronomy Domine” into “Interstellar Overdrive” into “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun” (tracks from the 1967 album ‘Piper At The Gates Of Dawn” (tracks 1 and 2) and the 1968 album ‘Saucerful Of Secrets’ respectively): The concert was drawing to a close now and the three moons of Jupiter, just visible on Mars, were coming out into the night’s sky. But that didn’t seem to bother Pink Floyd , who were enjoying playing with their old line-up again (Syd and Rick back with Dave, Roger and Nick once again). The band’s opening track from their debut LP kicked things off, with its tale of ‘Neptune, Titan, Stars Can Frighten’ and a pulsating bass riff and powerful drums that the Iceman visitors from Pluto said reminded them of the great war of 44 Quabrahad BC. The medley then took a left turn into the driving madness of instrumental ‘Interstellar Overdrive’, a quite exhilarating ride, before finally ending with the moody eerie ‘Set The Controls...’, as Roger Waters’ made spaceman decides to commit suicide. The whole track ended in inspired madness as ‘little by little the night comes around’ and a nice touch was added when the Mars Hotel placed an oil-lamp against a back-drop of stars, really giving the audience the feel that they were back out in space. Alas all too soon the show came to a close leaving us with...

1) Jefferson Airplane and Starship Medley: “I Wanna See Another World” into “Alien” into “Have You Seen The Saucers?” and highlights from the “Blows Against The Empire” album (tracks from 1975’s ‘Red Octopus’, 1981’s ‘Modern Times’ and a 1969 single respectively, as well as the 1971 magnum opus by Grace Slick and Paul Kantner): At last, after several hybriddat hours of playing, the great benefit night was coming to an end with only one act left to play. But oh what a set they gave us, with the multi Airplane/Starship band all onstage for the first time giving us some of their career highlights. Kantner’s storming song of protest came first, with its lines about anger and confusion over Earth policies coming to a head now the narrator has children to take care of, with the whole audience joining in on the lines about ‘looking up to the sky’ for direction. The song then segues into the eerie, other-worldly and delightfully noisy ‘Alien’, in reality of course a song about alienation and paranoia, with Mickey Thomas and Grace Slick duetting on this Pete Sears song about not fitting in and a panicked Earth official asking for ‘details of birth’ while the whole multi-species crowd chanting ‘alien!’ The medley then hooks back to the familiar Jorma Kaukanen and Jack Casady criss-crossing lines as the band played ‘Have You Seen The Saucers?’, the first real rock song about how Governments are lying to us about the existence of aliens and how most humans would be too blind to see them anyway, on a planet with ‘no room left for brotherhood’. There was then an exhilarating final half-hour with selections from the Starship spin-off project ‘Blows Against The Empire’, dedicated by Marty Balin to ‘star children everywhere’ with ‘Let’s Go Together’ ‘A Child Is Coming’ ‘Sunrise’ (‘Surprise! Innocent man!’ cackles Grace through the song) ‘Hijack’ ‘Have You Seen The Stars Tonight?’ and ‘Starship’ itself bringing the concert to a close. And all together with the chorus now: ’30,000 light years from the planet of my birth, 3000 years to the future, poets of the Earth re-classify my birth to fit it with the planetary sculpture!’, a line that had every being in the audience in an uproar of delight. Those who had feet were on them, those who had limbs clapped them and those who could do nothing else simply flew around above their seats. Breathtaking – let’s hope the next Live Solar System benefit is every bit as good!

That’s all for another issue! We hope to be back with you next week – although I’ve just noticed that they’ve just dropped me off on the wrong planet! I don’t live on Theta Minor! Help! Nasa spend a spaceship! Mind you, what with the Coalition, I’ll think I’ll stay up here for a bit – it seems less alien to me somehow...

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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