Monday 29 September 2008

News, Views and Music Issue 6 (Intro)

September 29:   

It’s been another week of watching things slowly travel towards fruition, here at the AAA. After having studied even more web hosts than there are classic psychedelic albums for the best part of two weeks, we’re still not totally convinced about where best to place our site. It’s been a bit like that in other AAA areas too: the new Oasis album ’Dig Out Your Soul’ is out soon but not quite yet, as are a new as-yet-to-be-titled Kinks box-set and the much-delayed CSNY tour-come-Bush-baiting documentary Déjà vu Revisited. There’s only one new AAA release to tell you about this week: yet another paving slab-sized John Lennon biography, ’The Life’. Good news: its by Phillip Norman, the ‘first’ Beatle biographer whose book ’Shout!’ is said by many to have kick-started the whole rock journalism movement and even when heavily censored by Brian Epstein and full of interviews of notably bored and jet-lagged Beatles was always engaging. Bad news: this longer, less censored, better researched book simply isn’t as good, as least to judge by the three scathing reviews of it I’ve seen.

There isn’t much to find out about Lennon and despite the promises on the back cover Norman’s only uncovered snippets rather than view-changing material. Oh and while I’m busy ranting please, biographers, if you do write about ex-Beatles, make it a mix of the good, the bad and the ugly, like all good comprehensive biographies should be. The only books I’ve seen about the Beatles this century nearly all want to make the Beatles out to be either saints or devils incarnate, depending on their view. The truth, surely, is somewhere in-between—but since an impressive run in the late 1990s, all books about the Beatles seem to want to make them or break them. Odd.      

Pink Floyd news: By far the highlight of the week was David Gilmour’s appearance on ‘Later with Jools Holland’. The band, with sorely missed member Rick Wright, had been booked on the show eons ago to promote Gilmour’s new live CD/ DVD ‘live at Gdnask’, with the Poland city the last farewell stop on Gilmour’s mighty world(ish) tour of 2006-07.  But after Rick’s unexpected death a fortnight back, Gilmour surprised us all by performing a tribute to his old friend, Wright’s rare ‘Remember A Day’ from the ‘Saucerful Of Secrets’ album, a track which hardly anyone seems to know and as far as I recall has never graced the live-set of any Floyd line-up and/or spin-off. But the song has always been one of my Floyd favourites—we’d already plugged it mercilessly on this site before Rick’s death and its at #3 in our Rick Wright song tribute above—so to see Gilmour’s sensitive arrangement and interpretation of a song recorded before Dave had even joined the Floyd was marvelous indeed.

Anniversaries this week: Phil Oakey (frontman for the Human League) turns 53 on October 2nd.  Events of the week: The Beatles’ first single ’Love Me Do’ entered the charts on October 5th, 1962 and the first CSN LP, released in June 1969, turned gold on September 30th that year.       

News, Views and Music Issue 6 (Top Five): Box Sets

And this week’s top five: in honour of the forth-coming Kinks box-set (due for release in either late October or early November 2008, depending on what you read), we highlight five of the best box-sets available featuring AAA groups: (continued next page...)

5) ‘Lennon Anthology’ (1999). Unissued tracks: a whopping 94 (although many were featured on the radio series ‘lost lennon tapes’, so strictly speaking only about half of these are ‘unheard’). Dismissed at the time as a cash-in on the Beatles’ Anthology, I actually prefer this 4CD set to the Beatles’ six-CD one—there’s less of the important stuff missing and what’s there hasn’t been messed around with by editing out-takes together to create 1990s hybrids of session tapes etc (why EMI/Apple, why?!?) There are perhaps too many spoken-word dialogue-only tracks here (about 15 or so, some barely 10 seconds long) and another 20 tracks are Lennon demos which peter out after only 30 seconds or so, but the bulk of this set includes such delights as rough-hewn demos from the Plastic Ono Band + Walls and Bridges albums, plus most of the songs from the Double Fantasy and Milk and Honey albums, which sound really good without the excessive overdubs and polish those albums came with. As for the packaging, this set features one of the most moving (and longest!) essays Yoko has written to date about her late husband and 20 pages of Lennon song lyrics, some thing that’s always good to have. Highlight: Cheap Trick’s pounding version of ’I’m Losing You’, with Lennon at the end of his life sounding 20 years younger—why on earth did they nix this superior take for the comparatively laidback groove of the finished product? (allegedly, Yoko wasn’t too keen on it at the time…which is ironic given how Yoko-sponsored this set is!)

4) Grateful Dead “The Golden Road” (1999). Unreleased tracks: 39. In what was a good year for box-sets came a collection of the first 10 Grateful Dead albums from 1965-72(plus a 2CD compilation of pre-Warner Brothers live and studio recordings); with many of these re-mastered LPs double or triple albums originally and practically all of them ridiculously hard to get on CD in the UK (’Amnerican Beauty’ is the only one I’ve actually seen rather than read about). Even ignoring the albums themselves, there’s still an awful lot of unreleased bonus material to wallow in— four hours’ worth by my reckoning, mainly live recordings but with a few single mixes/un-issued studio tracks/radio spots/demos thrown into the mix too. Highlight: Pigpen’s moving ‘farewell’ song  ‘Two Souls In Communion’, the keyboardist’s last song before his death (that we ever got to hear anyway— there are reportedly later songs on bootlegs), recorded live on the European tour his doctors tried to ban him from taking. OK, this set is a lot of money and only really worth it if you’re missing most or all of these classic albums on CD, but the packaging (detailed essays and lengthy discography, plus rambling booklets with every individual CD) might just be impressive enough to swing it for you anyway.

3) ‘Buffalo Springfield’ (2000). Unreleased tracks: I lost count past 50! (there’s lots of rare mixes on offer here, even on the songs that aren’t listed as being different to the ones we know and love!) For a band who only made three (very short) albums, there’s an almighty range of rarities, out-takes and demos in this fine set. Only the 4th CD of this four CD set includes previously released material—the rest is equally divided between Stephen Stills, Neil Young and Richie Furay taking turns in the spotlight, starting with the Springfield’s poppy wannabe beginnings of 1965 and ending with elaborate, discarded takes from 1968 when band members left with such regularity nobody was quite sure who was in the Springfield at any given time. The packaging could have been better and the absence of under-rated final album ‘Last Time Around’ from the re-mastered CD at the end is curious indeed, but the music itself is just fine. Highlight: a tired and slurry-sounding Stephen Stills sits at the piano, asks for the lights to be turned down and turns in a spine-chilling off-the-cuff version of his little heard draft-dodging ballad ‘Four Days Gone’. Jaw dropping stuff indeed.

2) Beach Boys “30 Years Of Good Vibrations” (1993). Unreleased tracks: depends whether you have the ‘bonus’ 6th CD or not, but even without that hard-to-find extra the total comes to an impressive 55 unreleased tracks. The box-set to end all box-sets, this takes us from the Beach Boys’ living-room recordings of 1961 up to the 1980s and impressively—given what a warring, court-case friendly band the Beach Boys had become by the 1990s — the balance between old and new, rare and loved, finished and work-in-progress is absolutely spot-on. Admittedly, a good third of the unreleased stuff is peculiar vocal/ instrumental split mixes nobody really needs, but there are still lots of classy unreleased songs here (highlights: Brian Wilson’s charming late 60s ’comedy’ songs ’HELP! Is On The Way’ and ’I Just Got My Pay’, plus his moving mid-70s where-did-it-all-go-wrong narrative ’Still I Dream Of It’, which if you’re a true Beach Boys fan who knows their troubled history inside-out is guaranteed to make you cry) and its still the best place to look for Beach Boys-era Smile recordings. As anyone who has read my gushing review of that album (101) will know, this expensive set is still worth the price for that selection of 1966 recordings songs alone. The packaging is impressive too, although the brown ‘surfboard’ cover is curiously dull for such a colourful compilation. Still, that’s no matter really—remember, as Brian tells us in an unreleased gem here, ‘love creates trust which manifests peace’. So there.

1) “CSN” (1991). Unreleased tracks: 25. This set does exactly what it says on the box by including the very best tracks by every single branch of the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young family up to the early 90s (CSNY/ CSN/ C S or N solo, Crosby-Nash, Manassas, etc) and Nash’s democratic track listing divides up the spoils equally between the trio and a good 95% of the selections are spot-on. No bland live recordings, interviews or pointless remixes for this set (well, not barring three curios anyway)—instead just oodles of lengthy alternate versions and unreleased classics, including a seven-minute ’Suite: Judy Blues’ that rivals the finished take, a glorious CSNY version of Crosby-Nash’s popular ‘Homeward Through The Haze’ and a full un-edited nine-minute version of ’Almost Cut My Hair’ trimmed down to 4:19 by some record company man who obviously never heard this electrifying cut or he’d have included it all. The packaging includes a CSN family tree, CSN/Y views on every song included here and some rare photos. Still the best place to start any self-respecting CSN collection, this is a great set for CSN beginners and survivors alike. 

A NOW COMPLETE List Of Top Five/Top Ten/TOP TWENTY  Entries 2008-2019
1) Chronic Fatigue songs

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

225) The shortest gaps between AAA albums

226) The longest gaps between AAA albums

227) Top ten AAA drummers

228) Top Ten AAA Singles (In Terms of 'A' and 'B' Sides)

229) The Stories Behind Six AAA Logos

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

231) An AAA Pack Of Horses

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