Monday 8 December 2008

News, Views and Music Issue 15 (Intro)

December 8

Welcome to the latest issue of the AAA, a special wow-we’ve-had-50-views-even-though-at-least-30-of-them-were-me-checking-on-the-site edition. As a result, we’ve been getting philosophical about life and so – as a special treat (for those of you with insomnia) - we will be discussing where the human species is going and where it came from later on in this issue (ha, bet the spice girls have never even given the matter any thought!) We’re still waiting for our site to turn up in some search engines too – maybe after Christmas our site will be famous (or infamous!) and people might actually know what you are talking about when you log on. Like most people/events/new releases just before Christmas, there isn’t much to tell you about this week in terms of AAA groups – perhaps they’re all gearing up for their Christmas parties and haven’t got time to appear in the news. Anyway, here’s a quick (if short) round-up of what there is…

Beatle news: …Err, one item only this week I’m afraid. Despite an announcement last Christmas that the complete Beatles 1960s catalogue would be available for download from I-tunes sometime in 2008, it doesn’t look like its going to happen between now and the new year, thanks to a dispute between I-tunes and the two Beatles’ record labels, Apple and EMI. Apple, of course, is the label started up by the band in 1968 (who released all Beatles goodies and solo records from 1968-74), but even these albums were distributed by EMI who can lay some claim to ‘owning’ the copyright too. The Beatles remain pretty much the only ‘important’ ie major-selling group not to be legally available for downloading somewhere on the net – but I think I’m right in saying that the proposed Beatle I-tunes deal (where all of the Beatles’ works are available for download sale from the site) would be a first, although its not clear whether the ‘Anthology’ , ‘Love’ and ‘Beatles at the BBC’ projects would be included in the downloads. Roll on 2009, that’s what we say – although true Beatlenuts might want to hang on to their Christmas money to buy the Beatles CD re-issues due in batches of four next year (with ‘Please Please Me’ through to ‘Beatles For Sale’ available as soon as Easter, possibly).  

Moving swiftly on, here are this week’s anniversaries of all things bright and beautiful from yesteryear. Happy birthdays this week go to Bobby Elliott (drummer with the Hollies from 1964 right up to the present day), who turns 66 on December 8 and Frank Allen, bass player with The Searchers (also from 1964 to the present interestingly enough) who turns 65 on December 14th. Anniversaries of events this week: the sad and untimely deaths of two quite different AAA giants – John Lennon on December 8th 1980 and Otis Redding on December 10th 1967, tragedies both. On a happier note, this week also saw the first ever release of a Beach Boys single, Surfin’, on December 8th 1961 (it did well locally in California but never made the American charts as a whole); Pink Floyd play what is generally regarded as their first ‘proper’ concert – an Oxfam charity gig at the Royal Albert Hall on December 12th 1966; the infamous and unscreened (for 33 years at least) Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus is filmed during one huge 20-hour marathon at Wembley TV studios, a show also featuring The Who, Jethro Tull and John Lennon taking part in a one-off all-star performance (mainly recorded on December 12th 1968); exactly a year later Lennon’s hastily convened Plastic Ono Band play their first gig at the Toronto Peace Festival and finally The Who become the first rock and pop act ever to perform at an opera house, suitably performing their ‘rock opera’ Tommy during a well-received gig at the London Colosseum Opera House on December 13th 1969.

News, Views and Music Issue 15 (Top Five): Why Are We Here? Where Are We Going? And How Come We Never Get There At All?

And just in case you thought that review was long-winded, it doesn’t have anything on this next section….yes, we’ve gone all out in our latest ‘top five’ this issue, planning to put to rights nothing less than the questions that have been perplexing mankind for centuries, with the aid of just a typewriter and a CD player. No, the question isn’t ‘when could anybody possibly think that the spice girls were a good idea?’, we mean the the other big question. So here it is – our guide to understanding the ideas ‘Why are we here?’, ‘Where are we going?’ and ‘Why do we never seem to get there at all?’ In short, here are five arguments put forward on AAA albums for the origins of our species….maybe. If nothing else, music is here to raise discussion points so even if you don’t agree with any of the five arguments raised here (and to be honest there’s no reason why you should as they all could be right…and they all could be wrong), take them with a large dash of salt and (Sgt) pepper. After all, we will never know the answers, but thinking about the question is arguably about the most important thing we could be doing – depending, of course, on what the answer actually is. 

5) We have all been here before. At least, that’s the view of David Crosby on the seminal Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young album ‘De Ja Vu’ (see review no 34) which is – among other things - a study of how mankind repeats his mistakes in cycles (just check out that cover, where the quartet are dressed in garb from the American Civil War era, even though one of them is Canadian and another comes from Blackpool). Mankind isn’t ‘evolving’, if you like, just chasing its own tail through crisis after crisis. The title track goes even further, being a Crosby epic about re-incarnation and the idea that our souls are returned to different bodies time and time again down the generations until we get it right. According to Cros’ autobiography, David dallied with the idea of past lives very early in his life when, still a toddler, he found he instinctively knew how to sing harmony notes along with his parents and brothers’ singing and when – at the tender age of 11 – he appeared to know the uses of every sail and mast when taken out sailing one day, despite having never been on a boat before. This ‘déjà vu’ theory would also explain the feelings of many of us that we have been to certain places and done certain things already even though, in our current lives at least, we’ve never been anywhere near. I can’t remember the exact figure, but an overwhelming number of us feel this at some point in our lives, so there. We reckon the Spice Girls have been here at least a hundred times before and they still haven’t got it right.

4) We have all been here before – and we messed it up big time. At least, that’s the view of Paul Kantner during all of his songs for the Jefferson Starship’s 1984 album ‘Nuclear Furniture’ (see review no 87) – we’re not sure if he ever told the rest of the band what he was doing, but their songs seem to fit the overall concept somehow too. The idea is this – picture a George Bush figure ruling over some past highpoint of civilisation, his finger poised on the nuclear device ready to send us to oblivion. Only, in our past life, this figure actually presses the button (no democratic victories for Bracak Obama in this timeline) and suddenly thousands of centuries of human civilisation are knocked out in a stroke. There are huge hints out there that our ancient past was as great technologically if not greater than our own (the true dating of the Sphinx and the earliest pyramids for starters – ie they are still here 4000 years, possibly 7000 years on when most of our buildings from only a century back are in severe disrepair). There are huge hints too at some cataclysmic accident, whether natural or manmade or caused by Bush’s ancestors, that wiped out our species to its very dregs and caused us to start again. Could our mythology be telling us a garbled version of our true past, like some generations-long version of ‘chinese whispers’, dating from a time when mankind had to start all over again and lost the ability to write things down? It’s no surprise that the ‘Nuclear Furniture’ album is also full of (then) topical songs about 1980s culture when it seemed mankind was showing its violent side again (Cold War, violence on television, money-loving yuppies, etc), juxtaposed against protest songs telling us that one day we might be back to the very beginning, ‘huddled in their caves like animals, not human’. This was the period when, just like the aftermath of 9/11, we genuinely feared we might wake up one day to find half the world missing, maybe even the side we were living on. There is a happy ending on the ending, though, thanks to Rose, the charismatic leader, who puts mankind back on their feet again in a much more peaceful, positive manner than the society they left behind so that – in another 7000 years – mankind is still at peace.

3) We haven’t been here before and our past has been leading us up to this point in time. Ah yes, Darwin’s theory of human evolution and the origin of the species which, by it’s author’s own admission, was as full of holes as a Swiss cheese – although still more accurate than any theory up to that time. Let’s look at this theory in greater depth – if survival of the species continues to this day, then where on earth did George Bush and the Spice Girls come from? Anyway, whatever the side effects, it seems to make sense that mankind would learn something from his past, although strangely there were less musical candidates for this commonly-held theory of the origins of humans adapting and learning how to cope with life than you might think. After toying with various Monkees-growing-into-men concepts we’ve plumped for the Moody Blues album ‘To Our Children’s Children’s Children’ LP, one which dates back to the tail-end of the 1960s (the last point in time when you could argue that the human race was moving forward at any speed). As the album puts it, ‘we go higher and higher now we’ve learned to play with fire’, with mankind a species determined to master everything in his power even if it leaves him isolated and confused (is a bigger brain really better in evolutionary terms? Are we the only species that has suicides, needs psychiatrists or cries buckets of tears on a regular basis? And no lemmings don’t count – all that cliff-jumping is a myth I’m afraid). And yet there’s also something deeply uplifting about a good half of this album, with mankind ever looking forward to the next big project. That next big leap for mankind that might – just might – unite us all in delight at our bravery and daring and truly bring the human race up to an evolutionary peak. Now that would be nice wouldn’t it, but somehow this theory seems the least believable of all the five put forward here!  

2) It’s not what we were before but what we grow into during our life on this planet that matters and our soul will live on after our death, depending what we did with it on Earth. The ‘death’ issue of this argument was dealt with by Hari Krishna convert George Harrison on his seminal album ‘All Things Must Pass’ (see review no 42). Often overlooked is his follow-up album ‘Living In The Material World’ (1971) which carries on this story, telling us what happens after we die and what we should have done during our life. This album has taken plenty of stick in the past (mainly from me) over its desire to lecture and convert us all to Hari Krishna far less subtlety or movingly than its predecessor did, but this album is also full of glorious songs about how our spiritual side should be nurtured and cared for at the expense of the ‘material world’, which is surely something that many an AAA reader wishes (anyone with an over-riding interest in music seems to share these views to some extent, however lightly or strongly, so it seems). The title track for one contrasts the messy business dealings of the end of the Beatle days with the ‘spiritual sky’ Harrison felt at the beginning of his solo career and is probably the best AAA evidence out there to becoming small and humble against the sheer magnitude of the world and how determined we should be to follow ‘the right path’ for others as well as for ourselves.

1) We weren’t here before and we’re only here thanks to some helpful aliens carrying out genetic experiments. When younger Kinks brother Dave Davies released his album ‘Chosen People’ in 1983 fans gasped. Well the couple of hundred who bought the album did anyway, because record label Warner Brothers seemed determined to bury the thing (to date, less than half the tracks have appeared on CD and then only the less controversial ones). You see, according to Dave’s brave and revealing autobiog ‘Kink’, he was visited by aliens telepathically during the early 1980s – a time when he was fed up and quite badly depressed over all sorts of things in his personal and musical life. The aliens, who mentioned that they had been looking after us for some time and even stored a data bank full of the actions of all of us during our lives, said that they had tried to talk to our world leaders to steer us a path for the greater good but had failed (seeing as Reagan and Thatcher were both in power at the time, that’s probably no surprise). Instead, they were communicating with certain artists, ones whose message could be heard by anyone should they choose to listen to their music, read their books or study their paintings. Most usefully, the aliens also told Dave that humans had failed to awaken their spiritual side and showed what that 70% of the brain we don’t use is for – telepathic abilities that allowed Dave and his partner of the time to dispel clouds of negative energy from those around them, making them feel happier about life (nearly all the concerts where Dave used this trick have gone down in history as the Kinks’ best shows – well those since 1982 anyway). Unfortunately, the aliens could do nothing about Warner Brothers record executives who buried the thing stone dead (the ‘Dave Davies Anthology: Unfinished Business’ is your best bet for listening to most of these tracks – although sadly you won’t find the album’s lynchpin ‘True Story’, a song where Dave recounts his strange tale before shaking his head and asking why the aliens should talk to him because ‘I’m just a poor boy’). Read the book and hear the album and the whole thing seems unnervingly plausible. Err, don’t look now but does that moon look red to you?

Don’t have nightmares though, stick on a soothing AAA record instead and, until next week, keep rocking! See you for issue 16 – on which we’ll be celebrating the best releases of the past year.

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