Tuesday, 28 October 2008

News, Views and Music Issue 10 (Intro)

October 28th 2008:

Welcome one and all, be your collections big or small, (is anyone out there at all?!?), to the latest issue of the AAA (also known as the Album Alcoholics Anonymous). This looks like being the first issue of our ‘news and views’-letter since arriving at our new home at t35.net and what a home it is too. Unlike certain other free web hosts I could mention (that either crashed, logged me out permanently one review from the end or filled the site with bewildering adverts for prunes), this one seems like home sweet home. So come join our housewarming party, put your feet up, stick your headphones on and get reading the latest miraculous happenings in the world of our Album Archive groups...

First up is our now traditional slot for Beatles news. Paul McCartney’s new album is now out under his pseudonym of ’The Fireman’ (shush, we’re not meant to know it’s him!) and is entitled ‘Electric Arguments’. Like ‘Strawberries, Ships, Ocean, Forest’ and ‘Liverpool Collage’, its another joint work with Martin Glover (of the band ‘Youth’), although this time around the long and spacey ambience instrumentals are meant to be sandwiched between some Macca Vocals (unlike the last album which simply featured Macca and Super Furry Animals eating vegetables). The album’s been causing a small bit of fuss in the music world recently, due to the track ‘Nothing Too Much, Just Out Of Sight’, which is alleged to be the first official dig at Heather Mills’ fixation with Macca’s money. It’s also caused more than one reviewer to comment that Macca should give up his reguylar albums and work on albums like this one full time—nearly everybody seems to have preferred this record to his last two sets.

In other Beatles news, there’s a surprisingly timed release this week. When Cirque De Soleil produced their Beatles-inspired dance piece ‘Love’ in 2006, their own show understandably got rather overshadowed by the release of a soundtrack album, complete with re-mixed Beatles tracks stuck together wildly like fillings in a (yellow) submarine sandwich. As the show a) cost a fortune and b) never really made it to these shores for very long (did it even make it all? I heard a rumour of a London premiere but that was about it), the only clue most British Beatlefans got to its content was a documentary shown by the BBC the Christmas before last. Curiously that rockumentary, now dubbed ’All Together Now’, has just been granted it’s first DVD release this week. Alas, it looks like there are no extras, although I did notice that the disc has a longer running time than the original programme (don’t get your hopes up—it might be a mis-print, that’s happened to me before, folks!) Triple alas, it looks like this is the only new Beatles release from Apple this Christmas, after a mighty fine run over the previous few years (Anthology docs/ videos/ dvds/ book/ ‘Love’ CD/ George Harrison goodies/ etc). Perhaps they’re kindly allowing us Beatlenuts to save our money up for the big Beatles CD re-issue bonanza promised next year?!? (see ‘news and views’ issue 1 for more on that story).


CSN/Y news: I never dreamed for a minute when I started this site that the likes of Crosby, Stills and Nash were going to dominate the news section, but here they are again with another interesting titbit. Not many fans of either artist seem to know much about Stephen Stills’ work with Jimi Hendrix, but in actual fact the two guitar legends were ‘soul brothers’ who played together in bands as early as 1965, before either man was famous. So far the only release featuring the two of them has been the track ’Old Times, Good Times’ from the acclaimed ‘Stephen Stills’ album of 1970, the last professional recording that Hendrix ever made and which was released barely a fortnight after his sad death. However, bootleg wise, we’ve always known that there were more recordings out there from these 1970 sessions and at last, 38 years after Jimi’s death, the Hendrix estate has expressed an interest in releasing them soon. Information about the record is still sketchy, but it is set to include the famous Stills/ Hendrix out-take ’White Nigger’, the jokey twin sister of Stephen’s anti-racism classic ‘Word Game’, a song partly inspired by the racist injustice Stills felt on Jimi’s behalf in Southern America. The other musicians taking part in the jamathon include Hendrix’s ’Electric Ladyland’ regulars Mitch Mitchell and Rocky Dijon, plus Stills’ friends and allies Calvin ’Fuzzy’ Samuels (who later joined Stills’ Manassas Band) and Conrad Isodor.


Kinks news: While release date and track listing have still to be released, we do know a bit more about the forthcoming Kinks box-set this week. It’s to be called ‘Music Box’, will span six CDs and will feature unreleased recordings in between previously released singles, album tracks and BBC recordings. The highlight of the set is said to be the earliest known recording of the band when they were still known as ‘The Ravens’. In other Kinks news, we’ve been here before (the past five or so years in fact) but talk of a Kinks reunion is surfacing yet again. To recap on the past 15 years of the Kinks history: both Davies brothers unofficially called a halt on the band in 1993 after poor sales of last album ’Phobia’. The two Davies brothers then started slagging each other in their autobiographies, both released weeks apart by different publishers out of pure co-incidence (neither brother knew the other one was writing a book!) Both ex-Kinks forged successful solo careers but began to talk warmly about each other again in the late 1990s (well, warmly for the Davies brothers anyway!) Alas, just as a Kinks reunion seems to be on the cards, Dave Davies suffered a stroke in 2004 and the reunion got placed on hold. Rumours of a Kinks reunion never quite went away though, with Ray mentioning on stage in his 2006 tour how sure he was that the band would get together soon. However, in a typically Davies brothers’ type move, no one seems to have asked Dave about the reunion back then and its his health that might prevent the Kinks appearing live again (a new single might not be too unlikely though!) The two other original members, bassist Pete Quaife and drummer Mick Avory, are up for the idea too apparently, even though Avory hasn’t played much since leaving the band in 1985 and Avory hasn’t performed professionally since becoming a graphic artist in the late 60s.

Grateful Dead news: A new photo-book on the band is due out some time this month, the latest in the ‘365 days’ series by publisher Abrams which takes a cultural icon and studies their history in pictures.

Moody Blues News: A couple of years back, when Polydor re-issued deluxe sets of the first seven ‘proper’ (ie pre-break up) albums, I spent half my time jumping up and down at the fact these records were being properly re-mixed for the first time (and very delicious they sound too) and half my time banging on crossly about how these albums were on their fourth re-issue when certain other Moodies albums hadn’t even gained a first CD release. Well, now my prayers have been answered. Deluxe re-issues of the albums ‘Octave’ (1978), ‘Long Distance Voyager’ (1981) and ‘The Present’ (1983) are all due for release this month in digi-paks similar to those of the first seven albums and are each set to contain a handful of rarities. Alas, the only ’rarity’ actually mentioned in the publicity for them is the 12” version of ’Sitting At The Wheel’, which isn’t an auspicious start given that the song is generally reckoned to be one of the worst Moodies records ever made and the 12” isn’t particularly different, it just (rather annoyingly) runs for longer! Still, it’s great to have these under-rated albums back out on our shelves in any form and all three are worthy purchases for all my fellow Moody people.

All three albums will no doubt be reviewed here in more detail when they finally come out, but for now: ‘Octave’ is the last album to feature the Moodies’ traditional sound of Mellotron, the last to feature original member Mike Pinder and is chock-full of glorious ballads. It’s not quite up to the standard of the ‘original’ seven classics and lacks variety, but it’s an under-rated gem nevertheless with all five Moodies offering up at least one impressive song. Classic hits: Justin Hayward’s dreamy ballad ‘Driftwood’ and John Lodge’s noisy ‘Steppin’ In A Slide Zone’. Forgotten highlight: Graeme Edge’s troubled warning of life’s pitfalls written for his newly-born children, ‘I’ll Be Level With You’. ‘Long Distance Voyager’ was the Moodies’ best-selling comeback album, courtesy of a suddenly very 1980s-sound and a surprise hit single in the repetitive but ear-catching ’Gemini Dream’. It’s probably the weakest of these three sets, but welcome nonetheless. Forgotten highlight: Hayward’s ‘In My World’, one of the prettiest love songs in the Moodies’ catalogue. ‘The Present’ is one of the most unfairly forgotten Moody albums and is a patchy but generally impressive set that marks the stepping stone between the dreamy, spacey sounds of the past and the cluttered, electronic sounds of the future. Classic hit: Hayward’s pounding pop-rocker ‘Blue World’. Forgotten gem: the Hayward/ Lodge collaboration ’Meet Me Halfway’, one of the catchiest songs of the re-union line-up’s oeuvre. More news on all of these albums when these sets arrive.

Oasis news: Whoops, we forgot to mention last week that Oasis were appearing at the grand finale of the BBC’s ‘Electric Proms’ on October 26th, but then again the site wasn’t up then so you couldn’t have read about it anyway! Mighty fine it was too, as Oasis delved back into their past for some surprise new versions of old songs. ‘Morning Glory’, not heard since 1996, was easily the highlight of the set for me, although a fine acoustic version of ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ ran it close. Even the tracks selected from the new LP (‘Dig Out Your Soul’) were the ones we raved about in our review and sounded pretty nifty live (‘Shock Of the Lightning’, ‘I’m Outta Time’ and ‘Falling Down’). Did we really need yet another version of ‘I Am The Walrus’ though?! (What happened to the fine cover of ‘Helter Skelter’ the band were doing a few years back? That song was much more their style than ‘Walrus’!)

Rolling Stones news: Martin Scorcese’s film of the Rolling Stones’ 2006-07 tour, ‘Shine A Light’, is now out on DVD. The 90-minute film includes lots of backstage footage and vintage interviews in-between the 18-song set, which includes such (fairly) rare live tracks as the title song, ‘Loving Cup’ and ‘Faraway Eyes’, as well as the usual Stones hits.  

Anniversaries: Happy Birthdays this week include Denny Laine (Moody Blues 1964-66 and Wings 1972-80) who turns 64 on October 29th, plus Bert Jansch (Pentangle 1968-73 and most 1980s albums) and Lulu, folk rock luminaries who were both born on the same day (November 3rd) and turn 65 and 60 this week respectively. Important musical milestones this week include the famous day that a record-buyer called Raymond Jones walks into Brian Epstein’s NEMS record shop in Liverpool and asked him if he had the new German single by an unknown band called the Beatles, kick-starting a discussion that changed the face of popular music forever (October 28th 1961); The Who release classic single ‘My Generation’ in 1965 (also October 28th); the beginnings of what will become 10cc make their first live appearance as the trio ‘Hotlegs’, supporting the Moody Blues at the Royal Festival Hall (1970); and George Harrison becomes the first Beatle to issue a solo LP with the soundtrack album ‘Wonderwall’, released this week in 1968 (November 1).


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