Monday, 5 May 2014

Twenty Erroneous AAA Album Titles (News, Views and Music 243)

Ok, we'll admit it. We don't understand what the title 'Deceptive Bends' means either (see this week's 10cc review), even if it does give the band the opportunity to play around in skuba-diving gear. That's far from the weirdest or least suitable title AAA bands have come up with over the years though. In celebration (is that the right word?...) here are another 20 AAA album titles that are either similarly confusing, plain stupid or simply downright wrong. As ever this list is in chronological order. Happy reading!

1) "Jolly What! England's Greatest Recording Stars: The Beatles and Frank Ifield Live On Stage" (The Beatles, 1964)

Jolly, erm, what?! This American-only compilation album is wrong on so many levels. Full marks to record label Vee-Jay for agreeing to release the first two Beatles singles in the USA ('Love Me Do' and 'Please Please Me') before Capitol US realised they might be worth licensing properly. However minus several million marks for skimming just four short songs out to a whole LP. The mistakes in this title just keep on going: first of all, crooner Frank Ifield is Australian, not English. Secondly all of these recordings were made in the studio - none of them were live. Thirdly neither were exactly 'England Greatest Recording Stars' - The Beatles had only had one #1 hit with 'She Loves You' by the time this album came out. Finally - and most importantly - VeeJay had access to many far more suitabler acts to pair the Beatles with. What about Macca's idol Little Richard? Or the East coast Beach Boys 'The Four Seasons' (actually that's what Vee-Jay did when they tried the trick a second time with the slightly more suitable 'The Beatles vs The Four Seasons' - although quite why they're 'versus' each other is anybody's guess! 

2) "Sounds Like Searchers" (The Searchers, 1965)

Good - that's a relief. I mean imagine if you'd bought a Searchers record and they'd sounded like The Spice Girls?! A close cousin to fellow Northerners album title 'In The Hollies Style' (as opposed to whose style?...)

3) "Sounds Of Silence" (Simon and Garfunkel, 1966)

OK I get it - the hit electric version of 'The Sound Of Silence' is the big selling point of the duo's second album. But technically shouldn't 'The Sounds Of Silence' be a blank LP?! 

4) "Magic Bus - The Who On Tour!" (The Who, 1967)

Hello and welcome to 'Who Wants To Be A Record Millionaire?!' It's all come down to this final question. Is 'Magic Bus - The Who Live On Tour' A) an in concert recording? Or B) a cheap and tacky way of recycling a load of non-album B sides and EP tracks? Yes the word 'live' and the picture of the band fooling around on a tour bus do seem to offer a clue don't they? You're going for A for the chance of winning the priceless Beatles 'butcher' sleeve' with a copy of the White Album marked #000001 thrown in free? Ah sorry - the answer's B. You win a complete set of Spice Girls CDs instead (you can use them as frisbees you know!) 

5) "Friends" (Beach Boys, 1968)

'We've been friends now for so many years...' runs the title song. Which would be nice were it not for the fact that 1) Most of the band weren't speaking to each other during the making of this album (with Brian Wilson spending most of the sessions in bed) and 2) Technically only Al Jardine counts as a 'friend' - the other four are brothers and cousins.

6) "Unfinished Music II: Life With The Lions" (John Lennon and Yoko Ono, 1969)

The second of JohnandYoko's trio of avant garde albums references 'Life With The Lyons' an obscure radio soap opera that Lennon's Aunt Mimi liked to listen to, an even more everyday story of simple folk than 'The Archers'. A bare minimum of their rock audience would have understand the reference - and even less of their avant garde listeners. A poor pun on the word 'lion' is hardly up to Lennon's standards either. And why exactly is this music unfinished? Yes 'Two Virgins' ('Unfinished Music I') used that title as well but that made sense - the recording was interrupted so the pair could make love for the first time, as they state on the album sleeve. But 'Life with the Lions' was worked on for months and is hardly 'unfinished' - assuming that a collage of radio static, newspaper reports intoned like medieval chants and a loop of the pair's unborn baby's heartbeat was what John and Yoko were after in the first place...

7) "Instant Replay" (The Monkees, 1969)

Monkees album number seven is an 'Instant Replay' of what exactly? The songs sound nothing like earlier Monkee songs (even if a lot of them are outtakes - something the album's packaging and credits is at pains to keep quiet). And even if this album is a 'replay' what's 'instant' about it exactly? The album plays at 33 and a third revolutions per Monkee (sorry minute), just like everything else in 1969!

8) "AOXOMOXOA" (Grateful Dead, 1969)

The Dead love palindromes and wanted a phrase that would 'stack' on their album sleeve and read the same backwards and forwards. Well, they got the last bit right, but somehow the idea of 'stacking' the title never appeared on the artwork. And why not use a phrase that actually does work as a palindrome instead of making one up? Fans have been trying to work out what 'Aoxomoxoa' means ever since!

9) "Extra Texture (Read All About It!)" (George Harrison, 1974)

Erm, OK. I guess this hideously bright orange record sleeve has some bumps on it, but does that really count as 'extra texture'?! And you're on your own as to why George added the suffix 'read all about it' to his record. Also, if a record is so poor you have to advertise it by the extra bumps on the cover then something's gone very wrong...(as it happens that is pretty much the biggest selling point of this disappointing album...)

10) "15 Big Ones" (Beach Boys, 1976)

At long last, after three years away, the Beach Boys have a new record contract and a new album out! How to capitalise on this?... Mistake #1 Start a campiagn revealing that 'Brian is back' even though he's in no fit state to do anything except record a couple of awful cover songs?! Mistake #2 Pretend it's your 1th anniversary even though it's your 16th! Mistake #3 Release '15' songs to make a pun on the album title, even though all of them run to less than three minutes (and so are hardly 'big') and despite the fact that a good 12 of them should never, ever have been released. '15 damp squibs to celebrate our 16th year' would have made a more honest title!

11) "Who Are You?" (The Who, 1978)

A fair enough album title for a new band - but by now The Who are in their 13th year. Was there really anyone out there who hadn't heard of the band by 1978?!

12) "Knee Deep In The Hoopla" (Starship, 1986)

Technically we don't count 'Starship' as a 'proper' AAA band like we do their predecessors 'Jefferson Starship' - if the JS only soured to half the height of the 'Airplane' then pop monstrosities Starship never got off the ground. However we had to include the title of their debut (and best - marginal though it is) LP - because we haven't got the clue what the hell it means. 

13) "Sur La Mer" (Moody Blues, 1988)

Most Moodies album titles are really good: atmospheric poetic lines like 'ON The Threshold Of A Dream' and 'To Our Children's Children's Children;'. However things went badly wrong in the 1980s and 1990s, with this album the worst of the lot. 'Sur La Mer' is clearly meant to sound exotic and other-worldly; instead, as anyone with even my tiny amount of knowledge of French will tell you, this album title means 'in the river'. Why the hell are the Moodies 'in the river?' and why are they proudly telling us this fact in French?! Whatever's French for 'in a noisy hell with some synthesisers' might have been a better title...

14) "Amigoes" (Lindisfarne, 1989)

Like 'Friends', Lindisfarne didn't have choose the wrong moment to make an album with a title implying brotherly love. Founding member and lead singer Ray 'Jacka' Jackson is pushed out during the making of it and fellow founding member guitarist Si Cowe leaves soon after. Notably both band members have their pictures relegated to the 'back' cover, along with drummer Ray Laidlaw. Amigoes? More like bitter enemies...

15) "Built To Last" (Grateful Dead, 1989)

This album title would have been fine for any other previous Dead album, reflecting their stability and long career. However in typically Dead fashion 'Built To Last' became the title for what proved to be the Dead's last album, Jerry Garcia's death six years later proving that they weren't in fact built to last beyond 30 years.

16) "Chaos and Creation in the Back Yard" (Paul McCartney, 2003)

A candidate for the worst AAA album ever, there are so many things that annoy me about this poor McCartney release: the sappy songs, the pointless empty 'sequels' to great earlier songs, the insipid modern production and the hopelessly inadequate lyrics ('How twee! How me!') However one of the things that bugs me most is the album title, which is clearly designed to mean something, but clearly doesn't. 

17) "A Bigger Bang" (Rolling Stones, 2005)

Err, 'A Bigger Bang' than what guys? I remember reading a fascinating article on the 'making' of the album before it came out, deducing that the Stones must be referring to the 'big bang' that started off creation and mankind's small role in an unfolding evolving universe. Which turned out to be totally false when the album came out and was revealed to be more of the usual Stones stuff, with the title not referred to anywhere. Fans have assumed that the band must have been on drugs when they came up with it and have affectionately retitled this album 'A Bigger Bong'. 

18) "Chrome Dreams II" (Neil Young, 2006)

Only Neil Young would release a sequel to an album that he never released in the first place (the original - from 1977 - containing the best songs from future albums 'American Stars 'n' Bars' 'Comes A Time' and 'Rust Never Sleeps'). And only Neil Young would make no reference to that album whatsoever (yes it features many unreleased songs - but they all date from the 1980s and later, with none of them dating back to 1977). The album title was probably invented to match the album cover - an ugly monochrome close-up of an ornament hood on Neil Young's car (again, only Neil Young would do such a thing...) 

19) "Dig Out Your Soul" (Oasis, 2007)

'Soul' is the final and least distinguished Oasis album for a number of reasons. There's no inspiration in the songs, the videos, the cover artwork or the performances. There's none in the title either, which sounds just enough Oasis-esque to hide the fact that the title means even less than Oasis album titles normally do: why would you dig out your soul? Where do the band keep theirs? The garden?!?

20) "Greatest Hits" (Spice Girls, 2007)

We couldn't leave without having a dig at this album. Surely if this was really the 'Spice Girls Greatest Hits' it would include all their shortest songs (to get the album over with quicker?!) Or - better still - the silence between songs from all their LPs?!? 

And that's that - join us next issue for more news, views and music under a variety of similarly silly names!

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