Thursday, 18 August 2011
Dear readers, as the eagle-eyed among you may have noticed we’ve been posting our review online quicker and quicker the past few weeks and actually had one in hand for late week – which is just as well seeing as a bad cold, a fever, two unexpected trips into Liverpool (not for the riots I hasten to add!) and continuing aches and pains from chronic fatigue have meant we’ve had to cut this week’s edition down a bit in size and we weren’t able to write the last issue as planned at all! Never mind, we’re back where we started now, ready to forge ahead with yet more news, views and music, starting with an excellent album too long forgotten (even by Hollies standards, which is saying something) and a top five that I calculate will be talked about for weeks to come. Or laughed at, depending on your way of thinking.
I can’t go any further, however, without commenting on the horrors of the riots we had in the UK last week. Now, that’s horrors as a double-edged sword – yes indeed I’m worried that relatively peaceful neighbourhoods can so quickly turn into ghettos and war-zones and that innocent people have lost homes and businesses, but I’m also worried about the fact that the causes of this whole situation haven’t yet been told in the media and that the damnation from the world’s press running riot in response will actually do more harm in the long term. The whole shenanigan started, without question, because of the police’s actions – whether or not the murder of Mark Duggan was a necessary evil or simply the police taking the easy way out, the police could have avoided it all had they come clean with his family and friends from the beginning about what had happened, whoever came out of it looking better or worse. We have to have trust in our police forces in order to live under society’s rules – if the police can’t be bothered to follow the law then I’m not surprised that so many other people, already fed up of being harassed in their daily life, shot back. The mocking behaviour of the police during the candlelight vigil for Duggan was vile, every bit as vile as the scenes of the fire-bombed houses and crushed streets but so far they seem to have been let off scot free by the nation’s press. After all, let’s not forget that most of the looting and rioting that has taken place has been caused by people who feel let down and ostracised from the system, that after decades of abuse and violence from the police and cold, harsh indifference from politicians it’s no surprise that youngsters without job prospects, who’ll be forced to work long past pension age with no chance of stepping up the income ladder are going to fight back with similar violence against the police and indifference to the warnings of politicians.
It shouldn’t be like this – no one innocent should be at the risk of losing their house or business because of the dis-illusioned fringes of society, but then neither should there be fringes of society at all – the Government should be helping us all, not just the people it picks and chooses to support. The juxtaposition of new stories about poor Cameron having to cut short slightly his third expensive holiday this year (yes, I am counting!) against people risking life and limb and a prison sentence because they have no bright future to look forward to thanks to bankers and politicians wasting chances speaks volumes – the media have got their priorities all wrong. The story here isn’t the fact that people are fighting back – it’s why they feel the need to do so, why they feel their futures are so empty and hideous to contemplate that prison and fines can’t make a bad situation any worse. In short, the Government has failed – something we’ve made out so many times here in the past – and David Cameron is playing a dangerous game by dividing the country further instead of trying to understand the messages he is being given. I’d never agree with the rioters and looters enough to join them – but they have my sympathy far more than a pig headed oaf in office who asks others to sacrifice money for a mistake that was none of their making and has done nothing to help himself and a police force who seem to think they have the right to be above the law instead of keeping it.
We’ve strayed badly off subject in this introduction again, as I seem to have done so many times in the past year, but that’s because as fellow music lovers (and lovers of the best, most compassionate and eye-opening music there is) you too I hope have an open mind enough to recognise the harm that is being done. I’m always shattered when people talk about the UK as being a civilised and fair society – we are those things only on the surface if you don’t look too hard and are every bit as undemocratic and chaotic as the countries our media sneers over every week like Libya, Syria and Iraq; we should always judge our ‘civilised’ nations by how the worst-off inhabitants are treated, not how the millionaires live and the protection, support and encouragement we give to our worst off is atrocious, with worse to follow with yet more unnecessary and needlessly provocative cuts. In the words of our album review’s opening track (another creation of recessions gone by that were handled so much better than this one) ‘The image and the empire may be falling apart, the money has gotten scarce, no man’s words hold the country together, the truth is getting fierce’. Shame on you Cameron, truly shame on you for the hurt and divisions you cause for no good reason, get out now and save us the trouble of forcing you out.
Normal service will now be resumed...
♫ Monkees News: Well, normal service will almost be resumed. You see, there’s been yet another riot that hasn’t really been talked about in the press – namely that the three Monkees currently touring have broken up, citing ‘business differences’. It’s been well documented that Davy Jones has been the least eager of the three to tour – he gave some damning comments about the others in a radio documentary last Christmas – and it was a surprise at all that he had decided to tour again with Peter Tork and Micky Dolenz, especially given that their last three-way tour in 2002 was a commercial and critical disaster. However, this latest tour had proved to be a big success during its early days, with critics finally understanding the band’s multimedia format and applauding the little-heard song set from the Monkees film ‘Head’ made up of songs which had never been performed live before. The suddenness of the news has come as a real shock to Monkees fans, with slightly under half of the European dates still to be filled – is this really the last time the Monkees share a stage together? More news if and when we hear it!
♫ Rolling Stones: Even more surprising is the news that Mick Jagger has just kick-started his flagging solo career by fronting a supergroup, given the delightfully silly name of ‘Superheavy’. Far from being a heavy metal or pure rock band, it features Mick fronting such pop stalwarts as Eurythmic Dave Stewart and singer-songwriter Joss Stone and features Mick wearing the sort of outlandish clothes he used to wear in the early 70s which the other Stones don’t let him wear anymore! It’s not known whether this will be a temporary or permanent band, although there is talk of an album tentatively scheduled for September 19th - presumably the band have already made some recordings as the date isn’t that far away. This rather puts paid to Keith Richards’ hints at a Stones reunion in 2012 (their 50th anniversary year) but does explain why Mick has been allowing Keith to dominate Stones matters over the past 12 months if he had a whole new project up and nearly ready to roll(I’m still recovering from the fact that Keef got a prime-time show on boxing day last year, with ‘Jagger’s Jukebox’ relegated to the early hours of December 27th – something Mick would never have stood for before!) More news if and when...
ANNIVERSARIES: Birthday greetings to AAA musicians born between August 15th and 21st: Carl Wayne (vocalist with The Hollies from 1999 to his death in 2003) who would have been 67 on August 18th. Anniversaries of events include: The Beatles play their record-breaking show at New York’s Shea Stadium, with 56,000 screaming fans –an attendance record that won’t be beaten until CSNY in 1974 (August 15th 1965); the first day of Woodstock, an anniversary we covered in detail a year ago in these very pages (August 15th 1969); George Harrison publishes the closest we’ve yet had to a Beatle autobiography, the frustratingly short and originally expensive ‘I Me Mine’ (August 15th 1980); Paul Simon plays to his biggest crowd for his ‘Concert In Central Park’ (August 15th 1991); The Beatles’ still mysterious sacking of their most popular member Pete Best and replacing him with...Ringo (think about that for a minute) who plays his first gig with the band two days later (August 16th 1962); The Beatles’ first performance in Hamburg at the Indra Club (August 17th 1960); The second of two records featuring Jagger, Richards, Lennon and McCartney from the summer of love is released – the Stones’ best single (as far as my tastes are concerned) ‘We Love You’ (August 18th 1967 – the other record is the Beatles’ ‘All You Need Is Love’); Mick Jagger accidentally hurts his hand in a pistol fight staged for the seemingly cursed movie ‘Ned Kelly’ (August 18th 1969); The Moody Blues begin their highest grossing UK tour, some nine years after their original split (August 18th 1981); The Beatles begin their first American tour, playing to much bigger crowds than they are used to in England (August 19th 1964); American radio station KNOW ban all Beatles tracks from the air after hearing that the ‘Sgt Peppers’ LP may contain drugs references – thankfully most of the other stations simply ban that LP (August 19th 1967); The Rolling Stones release one of their most famous songs ‘Satisfaction’ (August 20th 1965); Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham creates Immediate Records with The Small Faces, lured from Decca, one of their first signings (August 20th 1965) and finally, The Rolling Stones and 10cc co-headline a prestigious gig at London’s Knebworth (August 21st 1976).
Whoever came up with the Hollies’ calculator-advertising campaign deserves a medal. I mean how few other phrases can you actually spell on a calculator (don’t bother to count, we’ve done that for you: the answer is seven; B, E, H, I, L, O and S or numbers 9, 3, 4, 1, 7, 0 and 5 depending which way you up you have your machine – by an interesting co-incidence these letters happen to spell ‘bolshie’, which is a good description of all the calculators I’ve ever known!) And it’s blooming difficult trying to come up with any other words using those letters that make sense. As you’ll see in this week’s top five: words associated with AAA groups that can be typed in on a calculator! (This must count as one of the weirdest we’ve ever done...)Word of caution: please do not try this at home if you only own a calculator on your PC – turning it upside down is not advisable! (All our essays might fall out of the internet if you do that and I’m not writing them all again!)
1) ‘345’ aka ‘SHE’: a song by The Monkees as featured on their 1967 album ‘More Of The Monkees’
2) ‘5317’ aka ‘LIES’: a song by Stephen Stills’ Manassas as featured on their 1973 album ‘Down The Road’
3) ‘35007’ aka ‘LOOSE’: an album title by Crazy Horse 1974:
4) ‘53177197714’ aka ‘HILLBILLIES’, as in ‘Muswell Hillbillies’, an album and track title by The Kinks 1970
5) ‘53045’ aks ‘SHOES’, as in ‘New Holes In Old....’, a song by Nils Lofgren from the 1984 album ‘Flip!’ (well, we were getting desprerate!!)
That’s all for another issue! I will have to get my computer fixed next week so apologies if there’s another delay – hopefully there won’t be but, either way, see you soon for some more newsing, viewsing and listening to musicing!