Friday 17 June 2011

News, Views and Music Issue 102 (Top Five): Notable AAA Interviews

Some musicians love giving interview so often we’ve heard about every single second of their life so far. Others don’t like giving them at all and have barely spoken more than a few grunts to interviewers with a microphone. In between, though, are those erudite artists with something genuine to say and an ability to say it well. This week we’re celebrating the top five revealing interviews, ones that really added to our knowledge of an artist’s inner thoughts and meant we never quite listened to their music in the same way again. Now, we’ve already covered several documentary programmes on our top five’s in the past (such as the Paul Simon Songbook, being repeated this week on BBC6) so see this instead as an additional list of did-they-really-just-say –that moments good and bad featuring five very different AAA legends:

5) Cat Stevens speaking to Mojo Music Magazine October 1995: This interview was unexpected to say the least – in 1995 Cat or Yusuf as he was now known had been away from the public eye for 17 years and his latest work of art, a series of Islam hymns, didn’t exactly put him back in the spotlight either. But some of his comments did. A decade before his comeback into music there he was telling us that according to the Qur’an spending your life listening to music was a waste of time when you could be putting your spiritual life in order and preparing for death. Yusuf seemed to forget that he himself had been doing exactly that, notably with his song ‘Miles From Nowhere’ from ‘Tea For The Tillerman’ and that art-forms are probably the best means of understanding your frailties and difficulties and coming to terms with spiritual blockage. The poor Mojo interviewer is unsurprisingly taken aback, asking Yusuf why he’s saying such things in a magazine dedicated to record collecting, alienating all his fans who might read the article at a stroke. Thankfully Cat’s changed his mind in the 16 years since that interview, returning to the guitar as a means of spreading a message of peace to the post-9/11 world and admitting that the Qur’an is ambiguous, to say the least, about whether true followers can be musicians too, but that doesn’t stop this short four-page interview being one of the stranger and more puzzling AAA interviews around.

4) “The Confessions Of A Coke Addict”: David Crosby talks to ‘People Magazine’ in April 1987 (re-printed in Dave Zimmer’s CSNy book ‘Four Way Street’): Many CSNY fans plump for the two alarming articles about Crosby in the months before his prison sentence for drug and weapon possession in 1985, one for Spin Magazine given the sensational title ‘The Death Of David Crosby’ and the other, ‘Long Time Gone’ for Rolling Stone magazine, given the subtitle ‘Rock’s favourite threat to society’. Neither is strictly true – Crosby, convinced that a direct conversation with a journalist would be the only way he could tell the ‘truth’ about his condition as he saw it, saw his plans backfire drastically as both pieces picture him as a drug-addled mess, un-capable of any future work and a sad shadow of his former self (the first memorably describes him as an ‘overweight pirate suffering from scurvy’). For me, though, the truly remarkable article is Crosby’s follow-up ‘The Confessions Of A Coke Addict’ where, just two years later and barely weeks out of prison Crosby is as eloquent, revealing, honest and downright brave as he ever was. “I thought I was going to die on drugs...and I’m surprised to be alive” he says at one point and unlike so many shallow out-of-rehab musicians you fully believe him. Crosby’s discussions of fellow rock stars, drugs (‘most people who go as far as I did with drug abuse are dead’) and the gradual loss of support among his closest friends speaks volumes, as does Crosby’s determination to turn his life around (which thankfully he did, thanks to CSNY and solo albums plus a revealing book also titled ‘Long Time Gone’). This article also includes one of the most-quoted Crosby philosophy pieces on the subject of hard drugs: ‘There are four ways you can go – you can go crazy, you can go to prison, you can die or you can kick. That’s it.’

3) Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey interviewed for the DVD “The Who: Tommy and Quadrophenia Live” (2003): I was put off getting this set for years as I’d heard so many bad things about it. There’s The Who playing their best known album ‘Tommy’, only instead of 1969 they’re playing it in 1989, with a whole band of extras making up for the loss of Keith Moon and some very 80s arrangements of some typically 60s songs. They also play ‘Quadrophenia’ four years later with Pete barely playing any electric guitar and Roger having a bad hair and a bad throat day. And I haven’t even mentioned the list of lame guest musicians, people like PJ Proby and Billy Idol who really should know better. But oh the extras! If you can bear it, play both the Who and Quadrophenia sets with the option for ‘The Who talking heads’ turned on. Roger is nicely witty, honest and touching, like Roger always is these days, a mixture of humility and confidence rare in rock circles. And Townshend? Well, when has Pete ever been more revealing than here? Tommy and Quadrophenia are both about childhood, his and others of his generation, with 60s flower children brought up on bombsites by parents too afraid to care, growing up with the certainty that they will never let there be such a gray and nasty world around them ever again. Both of these well loved, much discussed albums suddenly take on a whole new meaning, as anecdote after anecdote pass by and Pete seems to grow younger by the second, as his unfulfilled dreams and ideas suddenly blossom forth once again. Since hearing this DVD (you really don’t need to see it!) ‘Tommy’ has gone from being a lauded but actually quite ambiguous and strange rock opera that doesn’t quite come off to sounding like one of the best albums ever made. And ‘Quadrophenia’, already one of the best albums ever made, suddenly sounds like the most perfect concept album there ever was. Just what an interview should do in fact, changing our ideas about something we thought we knew back to front.

2) Janis Joplin interviewed by Dick Cavett: four interviews recorded for the Dick Cavett show in 1970 (although alas only three of them exist) available on the 3 DVD set ‘The Dick Cavett Show: Music Icons (along with other programmes featuring AAA stars Crosby and Stills, Jefferson Airplane, Rolling Stones, Paul Simon and George Harrison – the first of these nearly gets the show taken off air after insulting sponsors Shell and the third ditto for broadcasting the ‘f’ word during one of their songs – in 1969!): There are two factors that make the American Dick Cavett show a must-see for connoisseurs of 1960s music. The first is that you get to see guest combinations that are unthinkable on any other series – Janis alone ends up talking to Raquel Welch, Gloria Swanson and Margaret Kidder (Lois Lane) on her three shows. The second is that Cavett is a rare interviewer, one who openly admits he has little knowledge of his stars and his music and is both brazen enough to laugh at himself and his guests and give them the respect and openness to talk as equals (Janis legendarily loved the Cavett shows because she was treated as a ‘lady’ rather than a ‘freak’, although several of the questions point towards the latter). Of all the artists who appeared on his show between 1969 and 1974 , though, cavett is most linked with Janis, who loved appearing on his show (to the host’s amazement as he admits in an interview) and performs no less than six songs for his audience, four of them then-unreleased (they only came out posthumously on ‘Pearl’, see above). There are many interesting points Janis makes during the three existing shows she appeared on – just a handful are her awkward revelation to Raquel Welch that she didn’t understand her latest film and that she found it ‘choppy’ even if the star herself ‘looked great’ (would any other guest have made such an honest observation without starting a row?), calling Gloria Swanson a ‘silver tongued devil’ and joking with her about ‘giving head’, admitting she’d been asked to play a role but wouldn’t be a virgin because ‘my acting’s not that good!’ (to the shock of the audience and, most movingly, talking in her last show about going back to a high school reunion, an event that took place just weeks before her death and upset her greatly (some biographers think her schoolmates’ disdain for her life and career added to her death after Janis had waited 10 years for ‘revenge’ and grew depressed that they hated her as much as ever, despite her talent and fame). This long lists sounds like Janis is trying to be controversial, though it’s actually her fellow guests who get her into trouble, repeating something she said at a past meeting or in the ‘green room’; Janis herself is fragile but brave, insecure but confident, fearless but afraid. Janis’ image as such these days is that she was always going to die young and she was always the ballsy, uncaring desperado – but these three shows give us the chance to learn so much more. And who can help but sympathise with Cavett’s refusal to believe the news about her death just two months on from this last show because he had ‘never known anyone more alive!’ A fascinating set of documents with guest and interviewer at their best. And why people still watched the awfully staged Johnny Carson show over this one I’ll never know...

1) John Lennon talks to Rolling Stone Magazine in 1970 (published in book form as ‘Lennon Remembers’ in 1981): Jann Wenner knew it was a coup to get some words with John just weeks after the Beatles break-up had finally been announced. What he didn’t account for was that Lennon would be quite so controversial or so intense, with the small artcle planned turning into three lengthy pieces before coming out as a book after the great man’s death. Not that this interview reveals Lennon as such a great man – he talks about his frailties and insecurities (the interview took place during Lennon’s ‘primal scream therapy’ phase – see Review no 43 for more), his childhood (the place where all but the most fanatical followers heard about Aunt Mimi, Uncle George and mother Julia for the first time in-depth) and his fading relationships with the other Beatles (Paul, predictably, gets a bad time of it but so too does George Martin who Lennon sees as staking claim to their own talents). Never has a leading figure ‘dropped his trousers’ (to use Lennon’s phrase) more during the course of a single (lengthy) interview, with no subject off limits whether personal, political or social. We’d been used to flippant comments and some pretty subversive stuff from the Beatles during the 1960s but this was new ground altogether and The Beatles’ story was never quite the same agin following itg’s publication. Of course, typically Lennon, he wrote much of the interview off as him being in a ‘bad mood’ when asked about it years later and much of it we know he knew to be false even then (such as writing ‘70%’ of McCartney’s ‘Eleanor Rigby’, for which he contributed a single line). But somehow for all the mistakes and the ragged petty jealousies Lennon comes out of it much stronger and believable, a fragile legend who put his career on the line for the sake of truth and honesty – and largely for good reason.

Well, that’s it for another week. Join us next issue when we’ll be bringing you yet more news, views and music. Till then, happy listening!      

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

What difference does a name make? Arguably not much if you’re already a collector of a certain group, for whom the names on the album sleeves just...

This week’s top ten honours the humble motor car. The death trap on wheels, the metaphor for freedom, the put-down of capitalism, a source of...

This week we’re going to have a look at the 10 AAA singles that spent the most weeks at number on the American chart ‘Billboard’ – and it makes for...

Following on from last issue’s study of the American Billboard charts, here’s a look at which AAA albums spent the most weeks on the chart. The...

There are many dying arts in our modern world: incorruptible politicians, faith that things are going to get better and the ability to make decent...

This week we’ve decided to dedicate our top ten to those unsung heroes of music, the session musicians, whose playing often brings AAA artists (and...

Naturally we hold our AAA bands in high esteem in these articles: after all, without their good taste, intelligence and humanity we’d have nothing to...

What do you do when you’ve left a multi-million selling band and yet you still feel the pull of the road and the tours and the playing to audiences...

‘The ATOS Song’ (You’re Not Fit To Live)’ (Mini-Review) Dear readers, we don’t often feature reviews of singles over albums or musicians who aren’t...

In honour of this week’s review of an album released to cash in on a movie soundtrack (only one of these songs actually appears in ‘Easy Rider’...and...

Hic! Everyone raise a glass to the rock stars of the past and to this week’s feature...songs about alcolholic beverages! Yes that’s right, everything...

154) The human singing voice carries with it a vast array of emotions, thoughts that cannot be expressed in any other way except opening the lungs and...

Everyone has a spiritual home, even if they don’t actually live there. Mine is in a windy, rainy city where the weather is always awful but the...

Having a family does funny things to some musicians, as we’ve already seen in this week’s review (surely the only AAA album actually written around...

Some artists just have no idea what their best work really is. One thing that amazes me as a collector is how consistently excellent many of the...

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

No comments:

Post a Comment