Friday 27 January 2012

News, Viedws and Music Issue 131 (Intro)

January 27:

Here we are back again, ain’t been round since you know when (last week, actually). I’m actually feeling quite pleased this week so won’t have the chance to moan as much as usual (who cheered?!), thanks to a combination of being nominated by so many lovely people for a ‘Shorty’ award (see our top five, below), our site increasing to 80 visitors a day from an average of 30 and the Coalition’s planned reforms for yet more needless and cruel welfare reforms being defeated easily in the House of Lords. Ah-ha-ha. Hopefully the planned unworkable proposals to destroy half the internet are about to fall the same way (ask me and its clear that these policies were never going to work in a month of sundays, so either we have an even more incompetent bunch of politicians at work than I thought or perhaps this is a smokescreen for something worse; incidentally, notice how this story started taking off the minute footage of US soldiers striking and defacing Iraqi citizens were released, not that I’m cynical or anything *cough* *Watergate*).  Look hard at this failure Cameron and learn from it, because you’re going to be facing lots more failure in the months to come! There now, I’d promised myself I’d go a whole issue without getting into a rant but, well, there’s too much to draw your attention to week after week. Back to the good news, I even found a rare Mark Knopfler CD going for £3 in a second-hand shop so, yes, in all, not a bad week. Shame my chronic fatigue is still so bad this month but, hey, you can’t have everything can you? We have now reached a staggering 13410 visitors by the way – hello to you all! Hmm perhaps I can get through the next issue without mentioning Cameron or cronies?...


Paul Simon News: Ive just been watching the unexpected treat that was BBC4s Paul Simon Night and, whilst the night represented slim pickings for the collector it still made for a riveting four hours of viewing (or seven if you stayed up and watch the repeats like I did when I couldnt sleep). First up, the one new offering was an hours highlight of a concert from Webster Hall in October of last year. Like the 2006 tour but more so, this one features an eclectic band made up of all sorts of different races, colours, ages and backgrounds but having travelled round the world twice now they are an even tighter and better band than before. The set list too was superb, passing over some of the more obvious Paul Simon songs in favour of some of favourites that havent had a look in for years: Mother and Child Reunion (not heard since 1974) The Obvious Child (not heard since 1991) and a sprightly That Was Your Mother (not heard since 1986) which knocked spots off the studio original. Paul even chose three of my four favourite songs from his last LP So Beautiful Or So What? (see review no 107) (Dazzling Blue ReWrite and the title track), thankfully leaving the lesser songs from that disappointing album untouched. As we said in our album review, though, Paul is noticeably happier and at peace with himself this year after his last marriage, with this concert being a joyous and bouncy affair for the most part, despite containing two of his most depressing songs in the setlist (Hearts and Bones and Slip Sliding Away, both the highlights along with an excellent Sounds Of Silence). Overall there was no definitive re-working as there was with the best ever version of The Boxer from 2006, but even if it wasnt all beautiful, it very nearly was and for the rest, so what? For the record there was an exclusive cover of Mystery Train too=, heard in a medley with Hearts and Bones of all songs (yes the old Elvis song, also covered by AAA star Neil Young in 1983).

As for everything else, the BBC Session advertised as coming from last year was actually just a repeat of the 2006 edition (the one with the excellent Boxer) which contained more of the songs youd probably expect to hear but the band clearly isnt quite as tight just yet. There were also repeats for the documentary Harmony Game and 1969 TV Special Songs Of America, both released as part of the 41st anniversary set (!) for Bridge Over Troubled Water last year. The documentary has its moments but its the controversial TV special, receiving its first ever screening in this country, thats the one youll want to watch. Simon and Garfunkels then-new songs from Bridge are heard to the accompaniment of a variety of political news footage from the day, from protestors claiming that Americas will never be free or democratic while children starve and shots of Bridge accompanying the funeral trains of JFK and Martin Luther King. You can clearly see the parallels with our own uncertain times with this documentary, which remains among Simon and Garfunkels greatest achievements even if it gave them so many headaches at the time it probably contributed quite heavily to their split the following year. Overall, a shame there wasnt room for repeats of the excellent Concert In Central Park from 1991 or the rare film and minor masterpiece One Trick Pony but this night was still a definitive success! Incidentally, the theme next Friday night on BBC 4 (January 27th) is The British Invasion, with a new documentary about The Beatles et al and repeats of the odd BBC documentary How The Beatles Rocked The Kremlin from 2007 and the rather better The Beatles first US visit compiled from footage shot in 1964. 

ANNIVERSARIES: Birthday greetings to AAA musicians born between January 24th and 30th: Nick Mason (drummer with Pink Floyd 1967-94) turns 67 on January 27th, Marty Balin (singer with Jefferson Airplane/Starship 1965-70 and 1974-78) turns 70 on January 30th and Steve Marriott (guitarist with The Small Faces 1965-68) would have been 65 on the same day, January 30th. Anniversaries of events include: Brian Epstein officially becomes The Beatles’ manager after signing a contract to that effect, surprisingly late after meeting him 18 months earlier (January 24th 1962); Brian Wilson divorces first wife Marilyn after 15 years – the pair met at an early Beach Boys gig when Brian accidentally knocked hot chocolate down her dress and she goes on to be the Beach Boys’ greatest muse during the 1960s, inspiring many songs (January 24th 1979); JohnandYoko celebrate the start of a new decade in style, declaring 1970 to be ‘year one’ and shaving off their hair for charity (January 25th 1970); Otis Redding charts with his ‘breakthrough’ UK hit ‘Try A Little Tenderness’ (January 26th 1967); John Lennon writes and records ‘Instant Karma’ during a 24 hour period (January 26th 1970); The Who make the first of many appearances during ‘their’ TV show ‘Ready Steady Go!’ (January 28th 1965); The Who are temporarily banned from touring America after a slight fracas involving Keith Moon, several bottles of spirits and a sobbing waitress (January 28th 1968); A tribute concert for Brian Epstein is held at London’s Marquee Club, including a performance by The Who (January 29th 1968); Guitarist Henry McCullough officially joins Wings after leaving Joe Cocker’s Grease Band (January 29th 1972) and finally – and we really do mean finally - The Beatles’ last ever performance takes place, on top of the roof of their Apple building (January 30th 1969).

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