Monday, 26 January 2009

News, Views and Music Issue 19 (Intro)

January 26:

Hello again my menagerie of musical mates old and new. A couple of bits of AAA website news for you this week. Firstly, we now have a guestbook that you can sign in addition to the forum that’s been up for a while now – please drop us a line if there’s anything you want to say, anything you want to ask or if you simply want to say ‘hello’ (‘Hello’ back by the way if I don’t get round to replying!) (If anybody would like a guestbook for their own site you can get one for free by visiting **** by the way). Secondly, our site has been added to a plethora of search engines this week in addition to last month’s entry into Yahoo and Google, so we look forward to meeting many new friends soon.

Apart from interviewing Lulubelle (the cow on the front of Pink Floyd’s ‘Atom Heart Mother’ record – see last newsletter), this week has been most noticeable for our resident computer expert Mike letting me play on his ‘Rockband’ game. For anyone who doesn’t yet know it, the idea of the game is to play along to a famous track by pressing certain buttons on your guitar/drum/ keypad when a particular colour comes up on screen or singing the words into a microphone (which is a particular challenge during the gabbling required of ‘China Cat Sunflower’ and the shrieks involved in ‘Gimme Shelter’ – I came close to losing my voice this week so goodness knows how Jerry Gracia and Mick Jagger managed three hour plus sets of this stuff). We both loved the game’s rival ‘Guitar Hero’ last year so this new ‘Rockband’ game that came out at Christmas is right up our street, especially given how much choice for extra songs there is (you have to pay extra to download them, mind).

AAA songs available for download into the game include The Grateful Dead (Casey Jones/ China Cat Sunflower/ Sugar Magnolia and Truckin’), The Monkees (a cover of ‘Last Train To Clarksville’), Oasis (Don’t Look Back In Anger, Live Forever and Wonderwall, while ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’ is included in the game when you buy it), The Rolling Stones (‘Gimme Shelter’ is included in the game when you buy it) and The Who (Amazing Journey - shorn of it’s ‘Sparks’ section though sadly! - Baba O’Riley, My Generation, Sea and Sand, Who Are You and Young Man Blues). (Word of warning on the last batch of songs – if you’re on the drums then try them on the slow speed because there’s no way you can keep up with Keith Moon without falling over after five minutes!) Incidentally, a special Beatles spin-off version of the game is due in the Summer too, so get saving now! If anybody out there has the game too then let us know how you’re getting on and we’ll stick our high scores up on a future newsletter and compare notes!        

Beatles news: Two bits of news for you all. First of all, look out tomorrow for an hour documentary about the Beatles’ ‘rooftop’ performance which took place 40 years ago this week (it was January 30th for those you who want to celebrate by climbing up onto your roof and listening to ‘Let It Be’ up there. Take your laptop with you so you can email me to phone the fire brigade to get you down sometime on January 31st!) The last ever performance given by the Beatles – and their first live concert of any kind in two and a half years – it remains one of the band’s most memorable images (although did you know that before they hit on this brainwave the band the band wanted to perform the concert while travelling on a boat sailing down the Congo?! That would have been even better!) If you want to know more about how the Beatles provided the best lunchtime entertainment available in London in 1969, listen to Radio Two from 10.30-11.30pm on Tuesday 27th January and curse the fact that Wings/ McCartney and co have never repeated the idea!

A mention too of the recent story ‘broken’ by the Daily Mirror that Paul McCartney has announced that he will be getting married soon in the foreseeable future – but unlike his relationship with Heather Mills he has asked for his children’s blessing first. If the story is true (and like much of the Daily Mirror’s output, there’s no reason to think it is) expect lots of Macca love songs on his next solo album.  

CSNY news: ‘We’re now going to bring in the elephant, the oil and the butter!’ Two bits of Crosby-Nash info for you this week. As part of their ‘American legends’ series BBC4 will be re-showing the half-hour ‘Crosby-Nash In Concert’ gig first broadcast on BBC 2 in November 1970 this Tuesday, January 27th at 1.40am. For those who haven’t seen it on any of its recent BBC4 repeats yet this year, it’s well worth seeking out. Originally planned as a solo Crosby concert recorded in the wake of the 1970 CSNY split, the BBC were delighted to find out that Crosby had decided to keep recording material and gigging with his old partner (who, interestingly, kicks off the concert with a solo song, despite this date being planned as a Crosby gig!) This is pretty much the first time the duo performed a concert with just the two of them and the pair mix some old friends with future classics from their forthcoming  solo albums ‘If Only I Could Remember My Name’ and ‘Songs For Beginners’ (classics both - see reviews 45 and 46 for more!) and is, in my humble opinion, vastly superior to the only Crosby-Nash gig officially available (‘Another Stoney Evening’ from a few months later – although that one’s still pretty good!) The full set-list: Simple Man (heard in concert but not then released on record!)/ Marrakesh Express/ Guinnevere/Song For No Words (when it was unheard and brand new!)/ Teach Your Children/ The Lee Shore and closes with a startling haunting version of Traction In The Rain (when it too was unheard and brand new!) However, even better than the songs is the stage banter – puns, songwriting discussions, stoned ramblings, good natured jibes, it’s all here (no wonder the pair described their joint concerts as ‘the loosest concerts on earth!’)

Zoom forward by 38 years and Crosby-Nash’s American concerts from the end of 2008 are now available from their official website on i-pod bracelets! Interesting idea this – every concert from their last show was recorded for release this way, enabling the fans who were there to re-live their memories and those who weren’t to pick and choose their most interesting set-lists without the pair having to liaise with a ‘proper’ record company or distributor (as CSN still don’t have a regular record contract since leaving Atlantic in the mid-1990s). Unfortunately the price of each bracelet is blooming expensive ($50 each – I’m not sure what that is in pounds but it’s certainly not loose change, even at current currency rates!) and you’d have to be blooming rich to collect them all. Having seen an on-form Crosby-Nash at Manchester a couple of years ago, though, the price is probably still worth it!

Human League news: Well, technically this is ‘Heaven 17’ news, as the League spin-off band have just released their latest album ‘Naked As Advertised’, their first studio release for some time. The band – whose member Martyn Ware is now the only the former League man still with the trio – have re-recorded two AAA League favourites, ‘Empire State Human’ (from first league album ‘Reproduction’) and the single ‘Being Boiled’ (see review no 89 for why this song is a classic!)

  10cc news: The band are now back on tour with a long list of UK gigs during March and April this year - ** look up whose in the group!!** The shows follow a decade or so of silence from the band name, although Kevin Godley and Graham Gouldmann did team up for some gigs a couple of years ago.

Anniversaries this week: Yes, they’re gonna have a party, party – happy birthdays this week go to Nick Mason (drummer with Pink Floyd 1966-94) who turns 64 on January 27th, Marty Balin (singer with Jefferson Airplane/Starship 1965-69 and 1972-78) who turns 67 on January 30th and Steve Marriott (Small Faces 1965-69) who would have been 62 on the same day. Events this week include: John Lennon recording ‘Instant Karma’ after writing it the night before (January 26th 1970), The Who being booted off an American flight for, quote, ‘making an air hostess cry’ (January 28th 1968), Henry McCullough officially joining the second line-up of Wings (January 29th 1972) and Beatles music publisher Dick James dying this week in 1986 (February 1st).      


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