Saturday 11 February 2012

News, Views and Music Issue 133 (Intro)

February 11th:

Before I get any further, a big thanks to the two readers who asked me how I was following last week’s outburst. Yes, I’m feeling a bit better this week, mainly courtesy of my new toy, Phillip the 4th, my latest MP3 player which is now filled with lots of talking books and spoken word goodies to help me get off to sleep (mainly dr whos, hancock’s half hour and the excellent Clive Merrison Sherlock Holmes series). I’m still suffering badly but have recovered enough to carry on with the website this week. And what a newsletter we have for you, dear readers, full of thrills, spills, chills and, err, bapipe drills.

Right with that out the way here’s a question for you readers. What the hell drugs were Hanna-Barbera thinking when they commissioned ‘The Banana Splits’? For thoiise who don’t know, this series features four men (three of them brothers, so I’ve read) dressed in costumes and playing in a band: Fleegle the Beagle (who sounds mighty like Disney’s Tigger, unsurprisingly given that he shares the same voice artist) and just as bossy as Mike Nesmith, Bingo the Gorilla (who looks very much like Micky Dolenz), Drooper (the peace-and-love Peter Tork of the band)and Snork, an elephant whose mute (erm, he’s not really much like Davy Jones but that’s what I’m forced to conclude). All four animals are out-of-work musicians and live in a crazy, very 60s pad – notice any similarities? I found a copy of the first series in a secondhand shop the other day and bought it to see whether my memories of it as the most surreal thing I’d ever seen were true. After all, I first got into the Monkees at the same time it was on and there are undoubtedly similarities, plus the fact that our resident drunken dog Bingo may or may not have been named after the seven foot grinning orange gorilla from this series (he may also have been named after the dog in ‘Rupert’ – its not only Paul McCartney whose a fan you know!) I’ve seen the first six episodes now and I’m gobsmacked, both at the fact that I actually made it to the end of six episodes and that this surreal headache-inducing plotless cacophony ever made it to television in 1968 (not to mention the fact that it was repeated at least once during my childhood in the 1980s). Despite all that, though, my inner five-year-old is enjoying it very much and at least I know now why I took to the Monkees’ equally surreal ‘Head’ movie so well (you can track a clear line between my university dissertation on that film in relation to postmodernism and my childhood viewing...) God the songs are bad, though (in Banana Splits I mean, not ‘Head’, that’s a classic). Do any of you readers have similar childhood experiences to recount? Why not add them to our forum?

Finally, my other news is my latest wonderful discovery on Youtube: no less than 20 minutes’ worth of the Monkees audition tapes! We already know the Mike and Davy clips, of course (they were tagged onto the end of the 1966 TV pilot episode) but I’ve never seen the bits featuring Micky and Peter – very like their characters Peter barely says a word, speaking with his guitar, and Micky doesn’t shut up and let the others in his audition group get a word in edgeways (he’s also hedged his bets by wearing an odd pair odd shoes, unsure what the producers want – a trait that would get him fired straight away from most jobs but fitted neatly into the Monkees concept). Even better there are two sequences using the four Monkees with four people who didn’t get the job who attempt the ‘emotional’ scene from ‘The Royal Flush’ and an unused audition piece involving a father trying to buy a record or his teenage daughter. Aside from seeing The Monkees that could have been (and presumably exist in a parallel universe), its interesting to see that producers Rafleson and Schneider clearly had the four ‘characters’ in mind from the beginning and are trying all the actors in different roles for size (so we get the very odd glimpses of Peter Tork being bossy and Mike Nesmith playing the dummy!) The link is here if you want to have a look for yourselves:

Finally, our site visitors have now reached a staggering 13841 – thanks to everyone whose visited us and we hope you come back soon! Meantime, here’s our latest haul of news stories...


Moody Blues News: Many thanks to Ms Carnogan who pointed out to me that last weeks documentary Vox Pop: How Dartford Powered The British Beat Boom wasnt just a contender for the oddest title of a music documentary but featured an interview with Justin Hayward among others. Justin even gets to play six notes worth of his solo from Lovely To See You, although frankly we could have done with more.  Dartford the swinging in place that singlehandedly created a revolution? I dont think so, but having caught up with a copy of this documentary it was sweet to see so many old rockers going gooey-eyed over amplifiers. Look out for footage of the Beatles and local lads The Rolling Stones too.

John Lodge, meanwhile, cropped up on the second part of the surprisingly excellent BBC4 series about the British Invasion, titled Go West (and available on I-player for a while yet). Poor John didnt get much airtime but he did get to deliver the classic Moodies story of how they had their own personal jet, complete with fireplace, at the height of their fame. Elsewhere Paul McCartney popped up again near the end to talk about Wings and we saw footage of the Stones, The Who and Neil Young (quite why we saw Neil Young, seeing as hes Canadian, rather passed me by though!) All in all much better than expected, although I dont hold out too many hopes for more AAA bands in part three next Friday, seeing as we;re onto the hateful eighties...

Oasis News: Another unfair blow to Beady Eye (against all odds the talented half of the old ban for most of last year) was Liam Gallagher being presented a villain of the year award at the 2012 NME bash. Just to rub it in Noel got presented with a hero of the year award, despite his very disappointing debut album. Is there no justice? (not with a coalition Government in charge, no).

ANNIVERSARIES: Birthday greetings to our latest crop of AAA musicians born between February 7th and 13th: Peter Tork (bassist and keyboardist with The Monkees 1966-68 and various reunions) who turns 66 on February 13th. Anniversaries of events include: The Beatles arrive in America for the first time, to be greeted by hoards of fans at JFK airport (February 7th 1964); The Kinks make their first TV appearance, miming to ‘Long Tall Sally’ on ‘Ready Steady Go!’ (February 7th 1964); Ringo has his tonsils removed, interrupting a Beatles tour of Australia (February 7th 1965); Stephen Stills becomes the first musician to ever make a digital recording, although alas the results still aren’t released even now (February 7th 1979); Pink Floyd play the first of just four ‘Wall’ shows (February 7th 1980); two years on from The Beatles’ demise, when it seems clear they aren’t getting back together, their fan club officially closes its books, having hit a peak of membership in 1965 that’s never been equalled by another fan club in any media since (February 8th 1972); The Beatles’ historic first appearance on the Ed Sullivan TV show, still the highest-rated music-linked programme in history (February 9th 1964); Wings play their first ever gig, after randomly turning up at Nottingham University and asking if they can play(February 9th 1972); A sign of the times when the American office of the Beatles fan club closes its doors two years before the UK fan-base officially folds (February 10th 1968); the infamous 10 hour Beatles recording session at Abbey Road for the ‘Please Please Me’ album that sees 10 tracks recorded and ends with a blistering ‘Twist and Shout’ (February 11th 1963); Two days after their appearance on ‘Ed Sullivan’, the Beatles play their first live gig in America at Washington’s Coliseum (February 11th 1964); Ringo Starr becomes the third Beatle to get hitched when he marries his first wife Maureen Cox (February 11th 1965); Graham Gouldmann releases his first solo single ‘Bus Stop’ – although it won’t be a hit until The Hollies cover it later on in the year (February 11th 1966); Ringo’s first non-Beatles film ‘The Magic Christian’ premieres in New York with a theme song featuring Apple band Badfinger singing a Paul McCartney song (February 11th 1970); The infamous raid on Keith Richards’ house Redlands takes place and will dominate Rolling Stones proceedings for the rest of the year (February 12th 1967) and finally, Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ beats the record for longest run in Billboard’s top 200 when it logs up its 402nd week (February 13th 1982).

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