Thursday, 14 April 2011

News, Views and Music Issue 95 (Intro)

April 14:

Hello one and all. We’re here, back again, with a proper ‘vintage’ album review here for you. Now I’m intrigued to know what fans think of this week’s chosen album ‘Changes’ – despite owning lots of material about The Monkees I’ve never yet read a review of this album (even the superlative ‘Only Solitaire’ site stops after ‘Monkees Present’). Which, of course, is what we’re all about – bringing you titbits about albums you never read about anywhere else. Another thing we’re all about is laughing at the Coalition party. So David Cameron’s apologised for us having an empire has he? Hmm, that’ll be nice to look back on in a few hundred year’s time when we’re busy apologising to Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. Oh and what’s with cutting out the great poet Benjamin Zephaniah’s face from their voting slips down South because the ‘white middle class won’t know who he is’ (its sentences like that which reveal why ‘multiculturalism isn’t working’, you middle class white Etonion you). Even the traditionally Tory papers seem fed up with him now. And what a nerve sending me a leaflet full of lies about how the alternative voting system will never work – it’s not for getting for your favourite Governments in, it’s a way of keeping your most feared Governments out, something that seems to frighten Cameron an awful lot. He’s back to doing what he does best this week too – making an ass of himself, picking on the unemployed and disabled (so we’re going to have to fill in another lot of forms and have another lot of check-ups from a doctor less qualified than the specialists we’ve seen about our illnesses already are we? That’ll be nice – what work can you do? How about the prime minister’s job? I can’t mess it up any more than he has already. And thanks to their illegal policy extension we now have to face four more years of this torture?...) Thank God for the music, that’s what I say...On with the news!


Oasis/Beady Eye News: Liam Gallaghers new group made a second TV appearance on Jools Hollands Later... programme this week(on Tuesdays, BBC2 with an extended version on Fridays if you want to find it on I-player). To be frank, their appearance wasnt as great as their Abbey Road TV gig last month, owing to a combination of strange song choices (the wordy Millionaire isnt a patch on the magnificent Kill For A Dream or Wigwam, however good it is), bodged production (Liams vocals were mixed so low you couldnt hear them) and Jools Hollands increasingly annoying hammy introductions. I used to look at Ed Sullivans role as a show compere and cringe now hes beginning to look quite good against Jools ridiculous interviews (How is your boogie arm today Liam? Erm, pardon?)

More fitting to Beady Eyes triumph of a debut album is the news that the band joined forces with Paul Weller to create a benefit gig for those hit by the Japanese earthquake in March. This is the first real test for Beady Eye as a live band (although their real live debut was a home gig at Manchesters 02 Arena that received mixed reviews) and seems to have gone down well, with the band releasing a special charity single a cover of The Beatles own charity contribution Across The Universe to raise money in addition to ticket sales. The band had much to do with this gig, being the driving forces behind it apparently, which is interesting given that Noel always had the reputation for charity gigs during the Oasis years interesting too that Liam should have rung one of Noels best mates, Mr Weller, for help with the gig. More news if and when we hear it... 

Rolling Stones News: BBC6 did finally repeat their Insight: The Rolling Stones On Tour radio programme from 1975 (see last week for the false starts and broken promises). Only trouble was, it turned out to be a slightly different name for exactly the same programme that was on last November listed as The Rolling Stones Story. Still, its well worth hearing if you get a chance to get hold of it on some I-player type thingy as it features the Stones on their first tour with Ronnie Wood (who still thinks of himself as a special guest at this point, on loan from The Faces) and has lots of interviews with the Stones backstage at Staffords Bingley Hall, plus some interesting statistics for road managers and caterers about the costs and work involved in setting up a tour of such size. The only thing really missing is what the audience thought of it all and whether they got satisfaction or not!

ANNIVERSARIES: Birthday wishes to all AAA members born this week (April 16th-22nd): Billy Kreutzmann (drummer with the Grateful Dead 1965-93) turns 65 on April 17th. Anniversaries of events include: British viewers get to see the very weird TV special ‘James Paul McCartney’ on April 16th 1973– screened as part of a deal with publisher Lew Grade to drop a publishing dispute arguing that Paul’s wife Linda couldn’t possibly have had a hand in writing some of the ex-Beatles’ biggest songs; Janis Joplin’s posthumous album ‘Pearl’ becomes a runaway success in the charts after its release on April 17th 1971; The Cavern Club is sold on April 18th 1966 after gradually falling revenue; The first meeting between the Beatles and the Stones during the latter’s gig on home soil at London’s Crawdaddy Club. Despite what you may have read in biogs and press releases of the time the band gets on very well indeed and become firm friends over the next decade (April 21st 1963); Janis Joplin wows the crowds at London’s Royal Albert Hall during her first – and as it turned out only – European tour (April 21st 1969); as part of the conditions of not giving Keith Richards a life sentence for drugs possession, the Stones perform the first of two shows for the blind in Toronto – rumour has it a blind fan Keith had looked after on each of the Stones’ Canadian tours wrote to the judge telling him how kind the guitarist had been to her hence the rather odd court condition (April 22nd 1979) and finally, John Winston Lennon changing his middle name to Ono ‘because she changed her surname and my name now has more O’s in it which is considered lucky’ or something like that; April 22nd 1969).

News, Views and Music Issue 95 (Top Thirty!): 30 Day Facebook Challenge

There I was, completely stuck for an idea for this week’s top five when one of my dear readers e-mailed in asking if I’d seen the Facebook ’30 day song challenge’ and wondered what my answers would be. For those who don’t know, you search for the link ’30 day song challenge’, get a list of the questions and then post a YouTube link of each song to bore your friends to tears with. Me being me, you’re going to get a long and boring explanation to go with each selection too, you lucky things. Anyway, email in our post on our forum what your own selections would be – they don’t have to be linked to AAA songs (but full marks if you do!) Oh and the gobbledegook you see listed below each song title is the relevant link to YouTube so you go and see for yourself how wonderful (or not) some of these selections are!:

day 01 - your favourite song – “Laughing” (David Crosby 1971, from the album ‘If Only I Could Remember My name’)

This song says it all – life’s mysterious devolve back into a scene of a child laughing in the sun. Ex-Byrd and Crosby Stills and Nash man David Crosby at his peak.

day 02 - your least favourite song – Earth Song (Michael Jackson 1995ish, God knows what album it was on I’m never likely to own it!)

This song says absolutely nothing – ‘what about us?’ What about us flipping Michael Jackson Millionaire. And the scenes of him acting as a messiah are so distasteful I can’t believe so many people were fooled into buying this empty ecological mess. I still reckon he’s alive and 2009 was all a publicity stunt for a new CD...

day 03 - a song that makes you happy – Coming Up (Paul McCartney, 1980, from the album ‘McCartney II’ and all good compilations!)

Not many songs make me happy – they all sound empty and shallow. But this classic Paul McCartney single is the real deal and makes you think that happiness is just around the corner. Classy video too by the way – why wasn’t your favourite video or album cover on the 30 day song challenge then?!

day 04 - a song that makes you sad – Celluloid Heroes (The Kinks, 1972, from the album ‘Everybody’s In Showebiz’)

Klassik Kinks song about failure and rejection that is guaranteed to make you cry, especially the ending.

day 05 - a song that reminds you of someone – Zor and Zam (The Monkees, 1968, from the album ‘The Birds, The Bees and The Monkees’) 

This one’s for Mike – two Royal brothers fighting call on their citizens to fight a war in their name – only to find that nobody comes (and nobody dies!) Quite right too.

day 06 – a song that reminds you of somewhere – Terrapin Station (Grateful Dead, 1977, from the album of the same name)

One of only two songs in my collection to mention my adopted homecity of Carlisle (the other is Paul McCartney’s ‘Helen Wheels’). This is an old 12th century folk song adopted by the Grateful Dead into a 15 minute epic of overcoming trials and tribulations. All I’ll say is – never a dull moment! (in-joke there)

day 07 - a song that reminds you of a certain event – Rain On My Window (by The Hollies, 1967, from the album ‘Evolution’)

Hollies song, one of my earliest favourite songs, perfect summation of changing relationships, ‘nuff said.

day 08 - a song that you know all the words to – Word Game (by Stephen Stills, 1971, from the album ‘Stephen Stills II’)

Me being me, if I’ve owned a song I like long enough I’ll know the words to anything, but I had to get this classic Stephen Stills rant against racism into my list somehow and yes I do know all the words (I think).

day 09 - a song that you can dance to – Dance Dance Dance (The Beach Boys, 1965, from the album ‘Today!’)

Well, dancing might be putting it a bit strongly – this early Beach Boys single might not mean much but it has a great rhythm, perfect for falling over to (which is about as close as I come to dancing these days).  

day 10 - a song that makes you fall asleep – The Perfect Fool part ii: Dance Of The Spirits Of Water (Gustav Holst, 1923)

That’s falling asleep in a good way right? Otherwise I’d be nominating the Spice Girls again or something modern and toothless. Best piece of classical music ever written by our most severely under-rated composer Gustav Holst. Shockingly this piece is so rare the opera/ballet hybrid it comes from has never been staged anywhere since the 1920s!

day 11 - a song from your favourite band – Another Sleep Song (Graham Nash, 1973, from the album ‘Wild Tales’)

Well I’ve covered Crosby and Stills so here’s a Nash song, his greatest song by the world’s greatest band and most important band that ever lived (even if they were only together 18 months first time round). Gorgeous song, said everything even in the days before I had chronic fatigue!

day 12 - a song from a band you hate – Wannabe (The Spice OAPS, sorry Girls, not sure what album it’s on – they all sound the same!)

My regular readers will be in no doubt who the band I hate most is! Urrgggh! The Spice Girls! From the opening shot of their first music video – five bratty made-up music industry puppets kung fu kicking a tramp for no apparent reason – I’ve always hated this group. How the hell did such a faceless band of misfits sell that many records? Give me Janis Joplin or Grace Slick for girl power anyday!

day 13 - a song that is a guilty pleasure – I’m A Tiger (Lulu, 1967, from the compilation ‘To Sir With Love – The Mickie Most Recordings)

Don’t know why I love this Lulu song so much but I do, perhaps because it’s just knowing enough without being too twee. She’s a tiger you know. Living in a big man’s world. You won’t cage me in, etc.

day 14 - a song that no one would expect you to love – Headshrinker (Oasis, 1995, from the B-side compilation album ‘The Masterplan’)

OK so most people probably do know my love for Oasis – but less so my adoration for this extremely noisy rocker, only a B-side would you believe but still one of the best rock songs ever written.

day 15 - a song that describes you – Blue, Red and Grey (The Who, 1975, from the album ‘Who By Numbers’)

The Who only did a handful of ballads but they’re all drop-dead gorgeous. This obscure song with just Pete Townshend on ukulele is perfection in song – and yes I really do love every minute of the day. Sometimes. Except Thursdays. I never could get the hang of Thursdays...

day 16 - a song that you used to love but now hate – Mr Tambourine Man (The Byrds, 1965, from the album of the same name)

What an impossible answer to give! As if I’d hate anything I once loved – once you’ve made it to one of my mp3 players you’re a track in my collection for life! I’ve heard this song a few too many times recently though and it’s not up there with The Byrds’ best work I don’t think (still love it when I haven’t heard it for a while mind!)

day 17 - a song that you hear often on the radio –Lady Eleanor (Lindisfarne, 1970, from the album ‘Nicely Out Of Tune’)

Well, not as often as I used to admittedly, but I’ll squeeze Lindisfarne into this list if it kills me! ‘Lady Eleanor’ is the perfect pop single – timeless, different and still utterly unique. If only it was on the radio even more!

day 18 - a song that you wish you heard on the radio – Rockin’ Chair (Jack The Lad, 1975, from the album ‘Rough Diamonds’)

Alas, Lindisfarne spin-off group (see yesterday’s entry) Jack The Lad aren’t anything like as well known but they should be: ‘Rockin’ Chair’ is a brilliant song about living your life the way everyone else wants you to – and then regretting it afterwards.

day 19 - a song from your favourite album – Cabinessence (The Beach Boys, 1966, ‘Smile’/’20/20’)

Mmm The Beach Boys’ ‘Smile’. An album so far ahead of it’s time that, despite being begun in 1966 and only being finished in 2003, the rest of popular music still hasn’t caught it up yet. Now I was taught that you can never have such a thing as a fast waltz – listen to Brian Wilson do six impossible things before breakfast in the opening minute alone. This is the Beach Boys’ original, by the way, which never strictly came out though Brian did re-record it later so it still counts! The rest of Smile is just as good by the way with ‘Good Vibrations’ the most conservative and most boring track on the album it’s that good!

day 20 - a song that you listen to when you’re angry – Ohio (Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, 1970, single – the box set Crosby Stills and Nash is your best bet at owning it on CD)

Crosby Stills Nash and Young again, a most magnificent song about the betrayal of president Nixon in 1970, sending state troopers out to shoot protesting students and forevermore ruining the trust we have in the state. This song was written, recorded and released within the week of the Kent State Massacre – no other band would have dared to even approach the subject but that’s CSNY’s greatness for you. How? Why? How many more? Are you listening David Cameron?!? No probably not, he’s not listened to me about anything else...

day 21 - a song that you listen to when you’re happy – Fat Old Sun (Pink Floyd, 1970, from the album ‘Atom Heart Mother’)

More contented than happy I suppose – this Pink Floyd song isn’t dancing-in-your-face happy but does have a lovely lilting feel and a message about being one in the world. And it even has a cow on the front cover of the record for no reason at all – now that’s casual cool for you.

day 22 - a song that you listen to when you’re sad – Too Young To Be Married (The Hollies, 1970, from the album ‘Confessions Of The Mind’)

So many songs to choose from but none come much sadder than this one from The Hollies. Why it wasn’t a single I’ll never know. But what could they do? Gasoline Alley Bred is kind of the part two sequel to this song.

day 23 - a song that you want to play at your wedding – For My Lady (The Moody Blues, 1972, from the album ‘Seventh Sojourn’)

I don’t think there’ll be a wedding anytime soon but this forgotten Moody Blues gem is the best love song ever written, end of story.

day 24 - a song that you want to play at your funeral – After The Storm (the original is by Crosby, Stills and Nash, 1994, from the album of the same name)

Another CSN song that’ll make you cry, but in a nice way honest. How come I have to explain? Music/people/life is worth all the pain. And I just want to see the love in your eyes after the storm has passed you and gone. Shockingly, though, YouTube doesn’t have a video using the original. Bah! Humbug! This cover version’s quite nice though so I’ll let it pass...

day 25 - a song that makes you laugh – Life Is A Minestrone (10cc, 1976, from the album ‘The Original Soundtrack’)

Does laughter belong in comedy? It does in 10cc’s hands! After all, what is this thing we call life if not a minestrone, served up with parmesan cheese?

day 26 - a song that you can play on an instrument –Maybe I’m Amazed (Paul McCartney, 1970, from the album ‘McCartney and all good compilations!)

Well, I must admit I haven’t played this on the piano for years and only ever had a borrowed version of the sheet-music, but what the heck I did learn to play this beautiful McCartney ballad so it’s going on the list!

day 27 - a song that you wish you could play – A Man Needs A Maid/Heart Of Gold (Neil Young, from the album Live At Massey Hall, recorded 1972 released 2004)

This is the live version of Neil Young’s song from the Massey Hall concert that’s out officially now but I’ve known for years. There’s nothing particularly complex or flashy here but then I hate music that’s flashy and complex just for the sake of it. What I admire about Neil’s piano playing is the emotion and vulnerability. That and the fact that his piano is actually in tune, unlike mine...

day 28 - a song that makes you feel guilty – Kite Song (Yoko Ono, 1972, from the ‘OnoBox’ Box Set)

Hmm, guilt’s a hard choice – I can’t say any song really makes me feel guilty. I did wonder about coming out with some great postmodernist choice like The Kinks B-side ‘Guilty’ but, what the heck, I’ve plumped for a little known Yoko Ono song about letting go of your childhood dreams and the importance of remembering who you are. That should make me nice and guilty by the time my site makes a million...

day 29 - a song from your childhood – Long Long Long (The Beatles, 1968, ‘The White Album’)

The soundtrack to my childhood was The Beatles so here is my favourite song by the fab four which virtually no one else seems to know. It’s a George Harrison composition and like many of his best songs is a spot-on discussion of death and afterlife. The unplanned ending – when a wine bottle left on top of Paul Mccartney’s keyboard begins to howl and shake with the reverberations in the room – is a typically Beatlesy magical accident that fits the song beautifully.

day 30 - your favourite song at this time last year – Sun/C79 (Cat Stevens, 1974, from the album ‘Buddha And The Chocolate Box’)

At last, our 30 day voyage is at an end. And what a confusing question to end on: all my favourite songs from past years are my favourite songs now too, it’s just that the pile’s getting bigger each year too! I haven’t added any Cat Stevens songs to the list though and I played a lot of him last year so here’s my favourite and little-known Catty track

Hmm some interesting questions there. Some that might be asked in a ‘song challenge II’ are best male vocal performance (Steve Marriott on the great Small Faces song ‘Tin Soldier’), best female vocal performance (Janis Joplin on the mind-blowing ‘Work Me Lord’), best guitar solo (Neil Young and Crazy Horse on ‘Cinammon Girl’), biggest trip (Jefferson Starship’s ‘Blows Against The Empire’ LP) most outrageous epic (Pink Floyd’s 23 minute ‘Echoes’), best song from a musical (‘By My Side’ from ‘Godspell’) and best album cover artwork (The Hollies for the psychedelic ‘Evolution’). Well, that’s it from me – thanks for reading!