Monday, 10 December 2012

AAA Songs About Islands (News, Views and Music Issue 174 Top 5)

We all need to escape. Bosses, jobcentres, families, friends, pets – the world we live in means we get more and more squashed together with people who, in the nicest possible way, drive us crazy. There simply isn’t the release there used to be when we worked on fields and lived in caves (not that we ever did, except in times of past nuclear holocaust, but that’s another point for another week’s top ten...) Sometimes we just need to escape to somewhere where we’ll never be found. AAA musicians have been escaping with the best of them, particularly when it comes to writing songs about desert islands in the middle of nowhere. Here, then, is a chronological look at five of those songs...

The Kinks “I’m On An Island” (‘The Kink Kontroversy’ 1965)

An intriguing bit of calypso, this was perhaps the first evidence that there was more to The Kinks than Beatlesish pop and Stones ish riffing. There are so many songs about escaping in Ray Davies back catalogue that we could write a top 100, but this is one of his earliest and clearly rings true, even with its hummable chorus. The singer is on a symbolic island of his own making, cut off from the girl he loves, before adding that hard as it is struggling to survive ‘there’s nowhere else on Earth I’d rather be’ than if his loved one was back there with him. Ray veers between heartfelt sincerity and knowing mocking throughout the song, singing in a curious clipped vocal way (his impression of idol Harry Belafonte, perhaps? Harry’s ‘The Banana Boat Song’ has been sung at more Kinks concerts than almost all his own songs!) Kinks Kontroversy sleeve writer Michael Aldred is so confused by the new style that, in his list of vocalists across the album, he adds awkwardly ‘I think its Ray?’

Jefferson Airplane “Rock and Roll Island” (‘Bark’ 1971)

Before the Airplane took off on a Starship and spread a new human species of ‘free love, free dope, free music’ across the galaxy they escaped to an island. Paul Kantner’s song implores the listener to escape to a ‘rock and roll island in the middle of the time seas’, far away from the Western capitalist society. In this land ‘you are the laws’ and here even the laws of physics are different with the classic singalong line ‘sonar laser quasar pulsar bombarded with argon’. Written a couple of years after Kantner wrote ‘Wooden Ships’ with David Crosby and Stephen Stills, this song sounds like a sequel, the happy pay-off after the atomic war leaves all the hippies sailing away in their boats and starting a new life. ‘We’ve only begun to grow you know, we are the seedlings of the sun...’ Curiously structured, with one line running into the next like an essay rather than a song, and curiously mixed so you can barely hear anything, this song divides fans like no other, either gloriously free or tremendously naive depending on your point of view. Me? I’ve already booked my seat...

The Moody Blues “Island” (unreleased song later released on deluxe edition of ‘Seventh Sojourn’ 1973)

No man is an island – unless he’s in a Moody Blues song. Reflecting on how this band of brothers had stopped being as close as they were inspired this lovely Justin Hayward ballad, the only song properly recorded for the band’s projected 8th LP. Like many a Moodies outtake, it’s as strong as anything they released, with a beautiful but threadbare arrangement that’s powerful indeed. Lyrically, the narrator is stuck on an island with no way off ‘as the tide rolls into view’. Waiting to be drowned or cut off from civilisation he imagines himself growing wings that will let him soar away before realising that ‘freedom is all in your head’ and he doesn’t physically need to escape. Mike Pinder’s mellotron playing – almost his last performance with the band seeing as he only half-heartedly took part in reunion album ‘Octave’ – is a masterpiece of timing, surging ahead with sterile emptiness and hurt. The band really should have released it, even if it was only as a farewell single.

The Hollies “My Island” (‘Write On’ 1976)

A bit of harmony pop from The Hollies that flies into this list like a warm breeze. This really is about an island as a form of escapism, Allan Clarke’s song about how ‘my life will be mine once again’ now that he’s returned to sanity and escaped from the hustle and bustle of everyday life is one of his best and was a welcome addition to the Hollies’ live setlist. However, there’s a slight problem in the second verse, as the narrator was so desperate to escape he left without warning, and ‘couldn’t say goodbye to my loved ones’, promising that ‘once I get home I’ll tell you’. Another song with a slight Hawaiian, calypso feel, it’s highlighted by the pristine Clarke-Sylvester-Hicks harmonies that cover the song in warmed-up bliss.

Graham Nash “Out On The Island” (‘Earth and Sky’ 1979)

The sky was full of diamonds on this song from Graham’s third solo album on an edgy, eerie track that really sticks out like a sore thumb on an album otherwise full of ecological statements and love songs to Nash’s new wife Susan. This island is one from our ancestral past, possibly the one island where all human life originated from. In this vision ‘no one’s saying nothing – and I pretend that I can’t hear’, but the damage is done and the narrator’s presence is sensed, shocking him back into the present. Throughout the song the vision of the island stays clear, hypnotically calling the narrator (and the listener) back with an alluring, mysterious melody that keeps announcing ‘there’s only one place to be...’ A fascinating song with which to end our list.

That’s that for another week – whether you’re on a desert island, on a farm or in a busy block of flats join us for more news, views, music and mayhem next week!

A NOW COMPLETE List Of Top Five/Top Ten/TOP TWENTY  Entries 2008-2019
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2) Songs For The Face Of Bo

3) Credit Crunch Songs

4) Songs For The Autumn

5) National Wombat Week

6) AAA Box Sets

7) Virus Songs

8) Worst AAA-Related DVDs

9) Self-Punctuating Superstar Classics

10) Ways To Know You Have Turned Into A Collector

11) Political Songs

12) Totally Bonkers Concept Albums

13) Celebrating 40 Years Of The Beatles' White Album

14) Still Celebrating 40 Years Of The Beatles' White Album

15) AAA Existential Questions

16) Releases Of The Year 2008

17) Top AAA Xmas Songs

18) Notable AAA Gigs

19) All things '20' related for our 20th issue

20) Romantic odes for Valentine's Day

21) Hollies B sides

22) 'Other' BBC Session Albums

23) Beach Boys Rarities Still Not Available On CD

24) Songs John, Paul and George wrote for Ringo's solo albums

25) 5 of the Best Rock 'n' Roll Tracks From The Pre-Beatles Era

26) AAA Autobiographies

27) Rolling Stones B-sides

28) Beatles B-Sides

29) The lllloooonnngggeesssttt AAA songs of all time

30) Kinks B-Sides

31) Abandoned CSNY projects 'wasted on the way'

32) Best AAA Rarities and Outtakes Sets

33) News We've Missed While We've Been Away

34) Birthday Songs for our 1st Anniversary

35) Brightest Album Covers

36) Biggest Recorded Arguments

37) Songs About Superheroes

38) AAA TV Networks That Should Exist

39) AAA Woodtsock Moments

40) Top Moments Of The Past Year As Voted For By Readers

41) Music Segues

42) AAA Foreign Language Songs

43) 'Other' Groups In Need Of Re-Mastering

44) The Kinks Preservation Rock Opera - Was It Really About The Forthcoming UK General Election?

45) Mono and Stereo Mixes - Biggest Differences

46) Weirdest Things To Do When A Band Member Leaves

47) Video Clips Exclusive To Youtube (#1)

48) Top AAA Releases Of 2009

49) Songs About Trains

50) Songs about Winter

51) Songs about astrology plus horoscopes for selected AAA members

52) The Worst Five Groups Ever!

53) The Most Over-Rated AAA Albums

54) Top AAA Rarities Exclusive To EPs

55) Random Recent Purchases (#1)

56) AAA Party Political Slogans

57) Songs To Celebrate 'Rock Sunday'

58) Strange But True (?) AAA Ghost Stories

59) AAA Artists In Song

60) Songs About Dogs

61) Sunshiney Songs

62) The AAA Staff Play Their Own Version Of Monoploy/Mornington Crescent!

63) What 'Other' British Invasion DVDs We'd Like To See

64) What We Want To Place In Our AAA Time Capsule

65) AAA Conspiracy Theroies

66) Weirdest Things To Do Before - And After - Becoming A Star

67) Songs To Tweet To

68) Greatest Ever AAA Solos

69) John Lennon Musical Tributes

70) Songs For Halloween

71) Earliest Examples Of Psychedelia

72) Purely Instrumental Albums

73) AAA Utopias

74) AAA Imaginary Bands

75) Unexpected AAA Cover Versions

76) Top Releases of 2010

77) Songs About Snow

78) Predictions For 2011

79) AAA Fugitives

80) AAA Home Towns

81) The Biggest Non-Musical Influences On The 1960s

82) AAA Groups Covering Other AAA Groups

83) Strange Censorship Decisions

84) AAA Albums Still Unreleased on CD

85) Random Recent Purchases (#2)

86) Top AAA Music Videos

87) 30 Day Facebook Music Challenge

88) AAA Documentaries

89) Unfinished and 'Lost' AAA Albums

90) Strangest AAA Album Covers

91) AAA Performers Live From Mars (!)

92) Songs Including The Number '100' for our 100th Issue

93) Most Songs Recorded In A Single Day

94) Most Revealing AAA Interviews

95) Top 10 Pre-Fame Recordings

96) The Shortest And Longest AAA Albums

97) The AAA Allstars Ultimate Band Line-Up

98) Top Songs About Sports

99) AAA Conversations With God

100) AAA Managers: The Good, The Bad and the Financially Ugly

101) Unexpected AAA Cameos

102) AAA Words You can Type Into A Caluclator

103) AAA Court Cases

104) Postmodern Songs About Songwriting

105) Biggest Stylistic Leaps Between Albums

106) 20 Reasons Why Cameron Should Go!

107) The AAA Pun-Filled Cookbook

108) Classic Debut Releases

109) Five Uses Of Bird Sound Effects

110) AAA Classic Youtube Clips Part #1

111) Part #2

112) Part #3

113) AAA Facts You Might Not Know

114) The 20 Rarest AAA Records

115) AAA Instrumental Songs

116) Musical Tarot

117) Christmas Carols

118) Top AAA Releases Of 2011

119) AAA Bands In The Beano/The Dandy

120) Top 20 Guitarists #1

121) #2

122) 'Shorty' Nomination Award Questionairre

123) Top Best-Selling AAA Albums

124) AAA Songs Featuring Bagpipes

125) A (Hopefully) Complete List Of AAA Musicians On Twitter

126) Beatles Albums That Might Have Been 1970-74 and 1980

127) DVD/Computer Games We've Just Invented

128) The AAA Albums With The Most Weeks At #1 in the UK

129) The AAA Singles With The Most Weeks At #1 in the UK

130) Lyric Competition (Questions)

131) Top Crooning Classics

132) Funeral Songs

133) AAA Songs For When Your Phone Is On Hold

134) Random Recent Purchases (#3)

135) Lyric Competition (Answers)

136) Bee Gees Songs/AAA Goes Disco!

137) The Best AAA Sleevenotes (And Worst)

138) A Short Precise Of The Years 1962-70

139) More Wacky AAA-Related Films And Their Soundtracks

140) AAA Appearances On Desert Island Discs

141) Songs Exclusive To Live Albums

142) More AAA Songs About Armageddon

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159) A (Not That) Short Guide To The 15 Best Non-AAA Bands

160) The Greatest AAA Drum Solos (Or Near Solos!)

161) AAA Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame Acceptance Speeches

162) AAA Re-Recordings Of Past Songs

163) A Coalition Christmas (A Fairy Tale)

164) AAA Songs About Islands

165) The AAA Review Of The Year 2012

166) The Best AAA Concerts I Attended

167) Tributes To The 10 AAA Stars Who Died The Youngest

168) The First 10 AAA Songs Listed Alphabetically

171) The 10 Best Songs From The Psychedelia Box-Sets ‘Nuggets’ and ‘Nuggets Two’

172) The 20 Most Common Girl’s Names In AAA Song Titles (With Definitions) 

180) First Recordings By Future AAA Stars

185) A Tribute To Storm Thorgerson Via The Five AAA Bands He Worked With

188) Surprise! Celebrating 300 Album Reviews With The Biggest 'Surprises' Of The Past Five Years Of Alan's Album Archives!

190) Comparatively Obscure First Compositions By AAA Stars

193) Evolution Of A Band: Comparing First Lyric With Last Lyric:

200) The Monkees In Relation To Postmodernism (University Dissertation)

202) Carly Simon's 'You're So Vain': Was It About One Of The AAA Crew?

217) AAA 'Christmas Presents' we'd most like to have next year

221) Dr Who and the AAA (Five Musical Links)

222) Five Random Recent Purchases

223) AAA Grammy Nominees

224) Ten AAA songs that are better heard unedited and in full

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227) Top ten AAA drummers

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230) AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!! The Best Ten AAA Screams

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232) AAA Granamas - Sorry, Anagrams!

233) AAA Surnames and Their Meanings

234) 20 Erroneous AAA Album Titles

235) The Best AAA Orchestral Arrangements

236) Top 30 Hilariously Misheard Album Titles/Lyrics

237) Ten controversial AAA sackings - and whether they were right

238) A Critique On Critiquing - In Response To Brian Wilson

239) The Ten MusicianS Who've Played On The Most AAA Albums

240) Thoughts on #CameronMustGo

241) Random Recent Purchases (Kinks/Grateful Dead/Nils Lofgren/Rolling Stones/Hollies) 

242) AAA Christmas Number Ones 

243) AAA Review Of The Year 2014 (Top Releases/Re-issues/Documentaries/DVDs/Books/Songs/ Articles  plus worst releases of the year)

244) Me/CFS Awareness Week 2015

245) Why The Tory 2015 Victory Seems A Little...Suspicious

246) A Plea For Peace and Tolerance After The Attacks on Paris - and Syria

247) AAA Review Of The Year 2015

248) The Fifty Most Read AAA Articles (as of December 31st 2015)

249) The Revised AAA Crossword!

251) Half-A-Dozen Berries Plus One (An AAA Tribute To Chuck Berry)

252) Guest Post: ‘The Skids – Joy’ (1981) by Kenny Brown

254) Guest Post: ‘Supertramp – Some Things Never Change’ by Kenny Brown

255) AAA Review Of The Year 2018

256) AAA Review Of The Year 2019 plus Review Of The Decade 2010-2019

257) Tiermaker

258) #Coronastock

259) #Coronadocstock

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