Saturday, 17 December 2011
Hello and welcome to the AAA, the only newsletter run from AAA batteries! Christmas is coming, the bankers are getting fat, please don’t put any more in their big white hats...so much for them, we’ve still got our last ‘normal’ newsletter to go for 2011 – well, if you include a wacko review of a wacko album and a top five where your I-player tells you your fortune as normal...In the meantime: I still have no news about my assessment so still can’t tell you much about the future of this site as yet. I’m almost ready for xmas too (just as soon as Amazon get a move on with my last present) and have done most of my wrapping now (although that said most of the wrapping got stuck to various parts of my anatomy rather than the presents). With any luck that last piush of effort means that, once this week’s review is written, I can finally crash and catch up on all the hours of sleep I haven’t been getting for the last two months thanks to anti-Santa Atos and their unfriendly elves (see last few issues for more moaning on the subject). Assuming I wake up in time and don’t have anything nasty in the post to deal with, next week should see the – gulp – fourth of our regular Christmas issues. Sorry you can’t hang it under your tree (unless you;re reading this on a new phone) but just in case we get waylaid in the coming weeks we at the AAA just wanted to wish all you readers a very merry xmas and love and mercy to the world (barring David Cameron, naturally). Tune in soon too for our best releases of the year, which are as controversial as ever (well, I got two comments in my inbox about my decision last year anyway...)
♫ Beatles News: Ahh remember the days when yuletide meant a new Beatles album under the tree, an exclusive fanclub disc in the post and quite often a classic fab four ditty at the top of the charts? Me neither, alas, I’m too young – but compared to modern times when all your presents are downloads, the post includes bills and there’s some godawful girl band at #1 that makes The Spice Girls look good its easy to get nostalgic for a happier, more sensible time. Tuesday, December 27th at 11.30am has Alexiei Sayle presenting his own take on the links between The Beatles and Christmas, with discussions of those fanclub discs (reviewed last year in these very pages), ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ and, most intriguingly, the infamous Beatles panto that ran in London at the end of 1963. Beatles press officer Tony Barrow adds his input into the discussion too. Later the same day Yoko Ono will be guesting on ‘Food For Thought’ at 1.45pm also on radio four, discussing her Japanese heritage and her and John’s favourite American dishes. Alas that’s it for AAA stars over xmas in stark contrast to last year’s decidedly Kinksy Xmas, barring some long overdue tributes to the late great Jimmy Saville. Howsaboutthatthen?!
♫ Bee Gees News: Note – this moaning review contains spilers, so if you haven’t seen the programme yet look away now...OK, so they aren’t really an AAA group but I just had to moan about ITV’s belated follow up to their ‘top greatest Abba songs’ poll with a programme about the Brothers Gibb. First moan: why was this programme reduced to 20 songs? At least the Abba programme had more space for the lesser known (but better) moments in their canon. Second moan: why was there so much emphasis on the godawful songs from the 70s and 80s? ‘How Deep Is Your Love?’ at #1? You Win Again at #2? (at least Massuchessets made #3, I was getting worried it might not be on at all! Third moan: How come all time classic and one true masterpiece ‘To Love Somebody’ only made it as high as #13?! And where the heck was ‘New York Miningt Disaster’?! For the record my favourite Bee Gees songs is a fight between ‘Every Christian Lionhearted Man Will Show You’ and ‘I Can’ty See Nobody’ (both songs from their best album by far ‘1st’, which is actually their fourth – don’t worry about it, its too confusing to explain) but I’m not surprised they didn’t get any votes as so few fans even know about them! Let’s hope if ITV ever get round to giving an AAA band this treatment it’ll be a longer and better advertised programme...(Additional moan four: who says its a nationwide survey? I never heard about the programme in time to cast my vote and I run a music website for heaven’s sakes!) Nice interviews though, to be fair, and at least seeing The Bee Gees made a welcome break from the likes of tonight’s dreaded horror: a night in with Justin Bieber (kill me now...)Ah well, if nothing else its inspired me to get my old Bee Gees CDs out wich I haven’t played in ages, so expect a top five devoted to the Brothers Gibb sometime soon!
♫ The Who News: I’ve heard some mighty strange Radio 4 Plays in my time – Pete Townshend’s ‘Lifehouse’ near the top incidentally – but never have I heard a play quite as unusual as last week’s effort ‘Burning At Both Ends’. This latest play was narrated by the ghosts of Who drummer Keith Moon and Who film actor Oliver Reed, who met on the set of ‘Tommy’ and started a long and boozy relatiaonship filled with mayhem and destruction until the drummer’s death in 1978. The apri are still at it too according to the play – give it a listen on I-player and apologies for not noticing it sooner (I check lots of TV and radio listings on my set-top box regularly for this site, but strangely Inever thought of checking the Radio 4 Afternoon Play!)
ANNIVERSARIES: It’s that time of year again for bouncing AAA Birthday babies born between December 13th and 19th: Frank Allen (bassist with The Searchers 1965-present) who turns 68 on December 14th, Tony Hicks (guitarist with The Hollies 1963-present) who turns 68 on December 16th and Keith Richards (guitarist with The Rolling Stones 1962-present) turns 68 on December 18th. Anniversaries of events include: The Who perform ‘Tommy’ at the Coliseum Opera House in London (December 13th 1969); Paul Simon scores his first hit in seven years with ‘The Boy In The Bubble’ (December 13th 1969); Ringo takes a close-up look at the younger trendy pop sensations when he dons a camera for ‘Born To Boogie’, the Apple label’s documentary film about T Rex (December 14th 1972); Mick Taylor quits the Rolling Stones after just four albums with the band (December 14th 1974); John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band play the first solo gig of any Beatle at the Lyceum in London, weeks before the announcement of a split (December 15th 1969); George Harrison breaks up the Beatles when he is deported from Germany for being underage – thankfully for music as we know it the band decamp to Liverpool and reunite in the new year (December 16th 1961); The Who bow out for the first time after 17 years on the road, after a show at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens (December 17th 1982); JohnandYoko appear in a ‘bag’ to highlight racism classism and sexism during a memorable event during London’s ‘Alchemical Wedding’ Christmas celebration (December 18th 1968) and finally, Keith Moon collapses onstage for the first time of many during a Who gig at Windsor’s Ricky Tick Club (December 19th 1965).
Friday, 16 December 2011
Thanks for this issue’s top, erm, whatever must go to reader Lizzie Carnogan, who as well as asking me to call it the top, erm, whatever provided me with the link to the following set of questions and told me she wanted our site to ‘have a bit of that’. Erm, whatever. The idea of this fun-filled ‘game’ is that you have to answer a set of questions for all the important points in your life and you then have to put your MP3 player/Ipod/CD player/throw your collection of singles into the air/put onto shuffle and see what answers you get. Those answers can be profound, comical or just plain wrong (or a bit of all three as we’ll be seeing...) It’s like fortune telling or tarot, but using music as your spiritual guide – and a better spiritual guide than music I’ve yet to find. If you fancy having a go, please send in your own answers in to our forum so I can laugh at your answers as much as you’ll laugh at mine. And no cheating! Right, here goes...
1) A song that sums you up:
‘Barbara’ (The Beach Boys ‘Endless Harmony’ 1995): Hmm not a great one to start off with, a moody Beach Boys ballad about Dennis Wilson’s partner ‘shining with love’ – and no, I am not called Barbara at weekends. I’m going to scotch that rumour now!
2) Your birthday theme song:
‘No One Knows I’m Gone’ (Scarlett Johansson, ‘Anywhere I lay My Head’ 2008): Hmm this one is kind of profound – I hate parties, I’m not that keeen on celebrations and I was once typecast as Scrooge in a school-play, so I guess trying to leave my own birthday parties before people turn up isn’t as far off the beaten track as I’d like. And before anyone asks, no I didn’t buy this album just for the cover – there are three really good songs on miss Johnasson’s album and this one in particular is gold (its a pretty good musical metaphor for a bad chronic fatigue attack). There’s also the added bonus that I can listen to Tom Waits’ pretty nifty songs without actually having to put with Tom Waits singing them.
3) What other people think of you:
‘Last Train To Clarksville’ (The Monkees, ‘The Monkees’ 1966): Gee, thanks for that. So you’re leaving in the morning and won’t see me again eh? I’d rather interpret this choice as meaning ‘you’re a best-selling #1 on both sides of the Atlantic and we think you belong at the top of the charts!’ Either that or my MP3 player thinks I just monkee around all the time...
4) What you think of other people:
‘Wild Wood’ (Paul Weller, ‘Wild Wood’ 1994): Hmm another quite profound selection once you analyse it, a song about things never staying still and ‘never knowing just where you’re blowing, getting to where you should be going’. Oh and if I can stretch a point to include the Coalition in my opinions of others then, well, has there ever been a wilder wood than Downing Street ‘now there’s no justice, only yourself you can trust in?’
5) Your ‘party’ theme song:
‘Let It Shine’ (Brian Wilson, ‘Brian Wilson’ 1988): Not as bad as I first thought actually, as my player has chosen for me a song that celebrates the inner beauty of people and nature and celebrates the warm glow of their love. This is probably a lot closer to the truth than most ‘party’ songs, although I was longing for Lindisfarne’s ‘I Must Stop Going To Parties’.
6) What you want to say to your friends:
‘Won’t You Feel Good That Morning?’ (The Hollies, ‘Romany’ 1972): Yes!!!! Spot on! This is a song about overcoming obstacles and coming to terms with life’s problems with the hope of a brighter tomorrow ‘on that day hey hey’. Which is what I mean to say to most of my friends, even if all they actually get is me hiding their pillows or stabbing them in the back with energy blades while playing ‘Halo’.
7) What you want to say to your enemies:
‘What Are Their Names?’ (David Crosby, ‘If Only I Could Remember My Name’ 1971): Actually I’m quite spooked now. I couldn’t think of any better message to my enemies than this great fiery political rant one that asks who the faceless greedy leaders are and that I’d like to ride over this Afternoon and give them a piece of my mind about peace for mankind, instead of getting involved in yet another war with a country that never asked us to get involved. I’m genuinely scared now about this whole article and am beginning to think my machine really can see into my inner thoughts...
8) A song that sums up your best friend:
‘Dead End Street’ (The Kinks, single, 1966): Erm nothing personal here Face Of Bo but this song of quite desperation and working class despair does seem to sum us up quite well. And no that’s not just a refernce to the fact that we slept under a pair of curtains the other night because there was no money for the heating...
9) A song that sums up your pet (if you have one):
‘When Your Lonely Heart Breaks’ (Neil Young, ‘Life, 1987): For the purposes of this article my ‘pet’ is any one of the creatures you’ve already seen in our Youtube Alan’s Album Archives Videos (what do you mean you haven’t seen them? Run along to Youtube right now!) I presume that Max The Singing Dog must have a secret life I don’t know about with the choice of this track, a surprisingly sorrowful and slow Neil Young ballad. Hmm, perhaps that last video about a romance with Bella the Elephant wasn’t just acting after all...
10) A song that sums up your school days:
‘You Are The One’ (George Harrison, ‘Somewhere In England’ 1981): Err, if God does exist I seriously doubt he was around in my school days but that’s exactly what we’ve got here: the best of George’s many attempts to get the love for ‘God’ into a love song that works on multiple levels. I was hoping for ‘Another Brick In The Wall’ or The Kinks’ ‘Schoolboys In Disgrace’...
11) A song that sums up your high school graduation (that’s ‘turn up for a tatty certificate and tutting from the teachers who never thought you’d actually pass’ for our English readers):
‘Long Leather Coat’ (Paul McCartney, b-side to ‘Hope Of Deliverance’ 1993): I can’t tell – is this selection spot-on or is it just the daftness of this ‘quiz’ that’s getting to me? You decide – this is a song about a leather-wearing moron who tries to seduce a vegetarian at a school party, only to discover that she’s already been seduced and dumped by him before, so she locks him in her room and attacks his leather coat with paint. That never happened at my ‘graduation’ (such as it was) but I reserve the right to alter this article if I find out one day something went on like this that I never knew about...
12) A song for your college/university years (if you went!):
‘You’re Just A Baby’ (Belle and Sebastian, ‘Tigermilk’ 1995): Erm sorry Mongoose, this song about an infantile partner sounds spot on at first hearing, especially the lines about the emotional turmoil that makes the partner go ‘off your head’. Not sure about the love interest moments though and that there must be a reason for all the things we never said before...Funnily enough this is the first (and best) Belle and Sebastian album I ever heard and I borrowed it from carlisle Library when I really was at university!
13) A song that sums up your flatmates (if you have/had any!):
‘Louie Louie’ (The Kinks, ‘The Kinks’, 1964): As far as I know no one has ever successfully worked out what the hell is going on in this popular and much-covered 1950s rocker so I don’t think I’ve got a hope of interpreting it now. And no, sadly, I never had a flatmate called ‘Louie’ (perhaps this is a vision of the future instead?...)
14) A song that sums up your ‘soul mate’:
‘Life’s A Long Song’ (Jethro Tull, ‘Living In The Past’ compilation, 1970):
‘Don’t you fret, don’t you fear, I will give you good cheer, don’t you squeal as the heels grind you under the wheels’ – yep that sounds pretty good to me, whoever that soulmate may be, although I’m a bit alarmed by the theme of death that’s running through this track. Should I get worrying or just assume that my soulmate is working as an undertaker?...
15) A song that sums up your job:
I don’t believe I really got this: ‘One Man’s Ceiling Is Another Man’s Floor’ (Paul Simon, ‘There Goes Rhymin’ Simon’, 1972)! Wa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! This one had me on the floor with laughter, a song about how some people’s failures can do better than some people’s successes and the fickle ladder of fame that seems so uneven when you’re climbing it. Let me in on the next floor, it’s getting cramped down here!
16) A song for your wedding (whether or not you’re married):
‘Working Class Hero’ (John Lennon, ‘Lennon/Plastic Ono Band’ 1970): In nearly any other section this choice would have been profound, but I’m not sure even Lennon would call this song a good choice for a wedding. It must be a really working class one then, that’s all I’m saying. Although the line about ‘learning to smile while you kill’ certainly relates to some weddings I’ve been to!
17) A song that sums up your partner/girlfriend:
‘Little Wing’ (Neil Young, ‘Hawks and Doves’, 1980): I hope this is a nifty bit of fortune telling going on, just listen to these lines: ‘All her friends call her ‘Little Wing’, though she flies rings around them all, she comes to town when the children sing and leaves them feathers if they fall, Little Wing don’t fly away, when the Summer turns to Fall, don’t you know some people say Winter is the best time of them all?’ Profound. Or ridiculous. Only time will tell.
18) What your children will think of you:
‘A Century Of Fakers’ (Belle and Sebastian, ‘Push Barman To Heal Open Wounds’ 1997): I hope this choice is wrong, with a character whose making ‘blinkers fashionable’ and is actually the first sign of things going wrong in the Stuart Murdoch-Isobel Campbell soap opera that kept us fans entranced for a decade or so. I’d be quite pleased with the eulogy ‘they took your mould and burned it on the fires of history today’ though (I’m already assuming my children will look on me as a museum piece given that’s how even my older relatives view me most of the time).
19) A song that sums up your hero:
‘It Doesn’t Matter’ (Stephen Stills/Manassas, the same, 1972): Another oddball choice, I can’t really get anything out of this selection although its worth noting that both of this song’s writers, Stephen Stills and The Byrds’ Chris Hillman, are both heroes of mine. It’s nothing but dreaming anyhow...
20) A song that sums up what you think about David Cameron:
‘A Woman Left Lonely’ (Janis Joplin, ‘Pearl’ 1970): I was hoping for something a bit more vitriolic but at least this choice is pretty good on a comedic level! Actually it sounds more like Nick Clegg to me, a partner left knowing ‘things are coming to an end’ and ‘being taken for granted, because (s)he doesn’t understand’. Lizzie admits she added this and the next one to the original list of questions just to see my reaction by the way...
21) A song that sums up what you think about The Queen:
‘Maybe It’s Dawn’ (The Hollies, ‘5317704’, 1978): Wa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! Another spot on choice! It certainly is dawn for the most costly anchronism Great Britain still maintains (at a cost bigger than our nation’s schools or hospitals every year). Something gets into me, call it jealousy, when I’m so far away...
22) What people will say about you when you’re dead:
‘Love and Mercy’ (Brian Wilson, ‘Brian Wilson’ 1988): MY MP3 player really likes this album tonight considering this is the second song out of six I’ve added to my player out of a choice of around 2000 tracks! Another profound choice: I have indeed tried to live my life by love and mercy and the simplistic words here (‘All the loneliness in this world, well its just not fair!’) are as good a fit as any as how I lived my life. Whether I’ll be remembered for love and mercy or just for my awful puns and practical jokes remains to be seen...
23) A song that sums up how you lived your life:
‘The First National Rag’ (Mike Nesmith and the First National Band, ‘Magnetic South’ 1970): I was hoping for something a little more, erm, substantial than this I must admit! For those who don’t know it, this was the ‘linking’ song at the end of side one on the ex-Monkee’s first record and simply consists of the lines: ‘we’re going to take a short intermission my friends, but we’ll be back right after you’ve turned the record over’ while a pedal-steel country band attempt the Loony Tunes theme-tune behind him! Actually this song’s very brevity is in itself quite profound: does that mean that I’m only going to achieve my potential in my next reincarnation? Or has writing this quiz caused me to see too much in something that isn’t really there?!? It’s up to you, dear reader, to decide...Let me know if your selections are just as profound (or just as daft!)
Tune in for more musical mayhem next week, this time with a yuletide theme!