Monday 23 March 2009

News, Views and Music Issue 26 (Intro)

March 23:

Hello and welcome to all our friends, fiends and family members old and new out there in the happy worlds of hyperspace (can spaces really get hyper? Sorry I digress…) There’s a whole bunch of news to deliver this week so let’s update you quicker than a Neil Young discography needs to be updated and get on with things. First up, welcome to all of you who are joining us after seeing our advert in the April 2009 edition of ‘Record Collector’ magazine (on page 127 to be exact). Have a good look around, make yourself feel at home and give us all the feedback you like (where would rock and roll be without feedback, eh?!?) I’ve been an avid reader of Record Collector magazine since before I was born (no hang on, that sounds wrong …I’ve been reading it as long as I can remember and own back issues that date back to years before I was born, there that sounds better) and I’ve always wanted to advertise something in it without having to sell half my collection for the privilege. And before anyone starts asking, no we don’t have any connections at all with the ‘Alan’s Record Shop’ who are listed in the classifieds above us, that’s just a sweet coincidence, so please don’t start e-mailing in and asking us to sell you records (we’ll only have to point you in their direction if you do).

Secondly, there’s a temporal anomaly stasis flow in the air which can only mean one thing – our long awaited April fools’ day edition is here! (See ‘news, views and music’ no 1255, which should be listed somewhere below this current one). Seeing as I’m away next week and won’t be able to add another ‘proper’ issue to the site for a fortnight, my future self in 2034 contacted me via a hyperspatial tele-tranpsorter link and sent me the missing newsletter by time machine. So here as an exclusive: a unique chance to peek at the future and see what all your favourite AAA artists (and some new ones) will be up to in 25 years’ time. I can’t understand much of it myself – there seems to be something about ‘clandusprods’ which means nothing to me - but it obviously means something in the year 2034 so read on and hope all will be revealed when the time comes! Meanwhile, back in 2009, here is our latest round-up of all newsworthy AAA-things this week… 

Beatles news: More on that edition of ‘Beatles – Rock Band’ game we spoke about a couple of newsletters back. Dhani Harrison, George’s son, has delivered a press release about the game and promises that it will include UNRELEASED BEATLES RECORDINGS!!! Naturally enough, Apple don’t want him to say anything more until things are finalised so we don’t yet know if this means something dreary like alternate mixes a la the “Love” album, alternate versions of previously issued recordings a la the better parts of ‘Anthology’ or completely unknown songs (not that there are many of those still unreleased in the Beatles’ archives, but hey we can dream…and if all this hoo-hah means the band are finally releasing Macca’s apparently weird tape-loop filled ‘Carnival Of Light’ which has been much-talked about in recent months then how the hell are we gamers meant to play along with that?!?) The game is still due for release in September and will include ‘at least’ 100 Beatles tracks to play along with, according to the European Gamer site. For those who don’t know, ‘Rock Band’ is a game for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Wii (though I have it on good authority that you really really really won’t want to buy the last-named console as its the Spice Girls of the gaming world, without substance overblown and hyped…) where you try to follow a coloured-note sequence for either a guitar, bass, drum or microphone part. How the makers of the game are going to include the orchestra-based ‘Yesterday’, ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and the middle section of ‘A Day In the Life’ is anybody’s guess – but, suffice to say, the makers of this site are all very excited by the prospect of becoming ‘the fifth Beatle’ and playing along to some old friends!

Secondly, a DVD entitled ‘Composing The Beatles Songbook: Lennon and McCartney 1966-70’ is out this month featuring interviews with Beatles associates Klaus Voorman (the band’s ‘Hamburg’ friend and bassist on many Beatles solo records), Barry Miles (Macca biographer and manager of Apple Record spin-off ‘Zapple’), Peter Doggett (ex-Record Collector editor and one of the best music journalists around), Johnny Rogan (Beatles and CSNY biographer), Paul Gambacini (1960s expert whose had a hand in pretty much everything) and Maureen Cleave (friend of Lennon’s and the journalist whose interview with Lennon led to the ‘bigger than Jesus’ misquote). Expect detailed analysis of several Beatles tracks!      

Thirdly, there’s yet another Beatles book out in April – and its one of the largest yet! Barry Miles’ ‘The Beatles Phenomenon: A Celebration in Words, Pictures and Music’ just about gets away with the title via the ingenious device of including sheet music of several Beatles songs alongside copious words and pictures (many of them new, so I hear). Extensive appendixes include such common ground as a list of every Beatles and Quarryman gig, recording sessions at Abbey Road and TV appearances, although an interview with a cleaning lady at the Hamburg club where the pre-fame Beatles played is a new one on me! Whether all this is enough for the collector to put up with the price-tag remains to be seen – perhaps it would make a decent birthday present for some of you instead?

Also, I’m not entirely sure where to put this piece of news, but The Beat Goes On are issuing the first two Denny Laine 1970s solo LPs on a single CD for the first time and both of them include contributions from his then-current writing partner Paul McCartney. Both 1973’s ‘Aah…Laine’ and 1977’s ‘Hollydays’ are routinely re-issued and quickly deleted again, passing nearly all of his possible fans by. Well, this time Beat Goes On are sticking the two albums out together, a trick first tried in 2007. Both albums include large cameos for various members of Wings; the former with the early Henry Mccullough-era band and the latter album – recorded at the end of Wings’ ‘London Town’ sessions - is a particular rarity; it’s the only record barring the classic ‘Band On The Run’ that includes Paul, Linda and Denny playing everything between them! The first album features several Denny Laine originals including Wings out-takes and the second features several covers selected from Buddy Holly’s back catalogue (the publishing rights of which had just been bought by Paul McCartney, not co-incidentally)  Both albums are flawed masterpieces which sold fairly poorly at the time despite the presence of an ex-Beatles but, to these ears at least, Denny Laine is a deeply under-rated writer and vocalist and the re-issue of these two albums for the first time in decades is highly welcome.

Belle and Sebastian News:  The good news is that main-man Stuart Murdoch has broken the rather uncharacteristically long gap between Belle and Sebastian records by announcing that he is busy recording a new album, due for release in June. The bad news is that it’s a solo record not recorded with the band (who have gone very quiet since Isobel Campbell left in 2006). The album will feature three guest vocalists (all unknowns chosen after an online singing competition; very Belle and Sebastian that) and has a working title of ‘God help The Girl’. More news if and when we hear it!

Byrds News: Under-rated latter-day member Gene Parsons’ under-rated early 70s solo album ‘Kindling’ was re-issued on CD on March 10th. Tracks include Gene’s re-recording of a Little Feat cover (‘Willin’) heard on the expanded CD re-issue of the Byrds’ ‘Untitled’ CD and 10 Gene Parsons originals, but no bonus tracks by the looks of things!  

Jefferson Airplane News: Guitarist Jorma Kaukanen has released his first solo album in a while, ‘River Of Time’, which includes 13 new songs. Ok, so that was as brief a bit of news as I’ve ever written for this site but hardly anybody takes any notice of Airplane/ Starship releases these days, never mind spin-off solo CDs so I haven’t ot any more to tell you, sorry!

Lindisfarne News: Typical – you write a review of the top five AAA-related BBC session albums and then EMI go and release another promising-looking set which might force me to re-write the list! Yes, as that sentence implies, EMI are at long last re-releasing ‘Lindisfarne: At The BBC, The Charisma Years 1971-73’ on April 6th (An earlier CD release covering the years 1971-75 came out in 2000 and disappeared so quickly I didn’t even get to see what the cover looked like!) There are a massive 36 tracks on the double-CD including all the usual suspects (4 versions of ‘Lady Eleanor’, 3 versions of ‘Fog On The Tyne’) plus some unusual songs (a version of obscure early B-side ‘Knacker’s Yard Blues’, plus a lot of tracks from Alan Hull’s first solo ‘Pipedream’ as played by the mark 2 line-up of the band).While you’re digesting that piece of news, here is a final reminder, too, for the long awaited CD re-issue of Jack The Lad’s fourth album ‘Jackpot’ on Monday! 

Otis Redding News: Otis is having a rather busy month considering that he died 41 years ago – with a live CD and live DVD both due for release in March/the beginning of April. The former, ‘Live in London and Paris’ features 19 tracks from two separate concerts and has been available in Australia since February. Many of the songs are taken from our own AAA classic album ‘Otis Blue’ (see review no 4), along with Otis’ explosive cover of The Beatles’ ‘Day Tripper’.  The latter release, a live DVD entitled ‘Respect! Otis Live’ contains archive footage from 1966-1967 including the Monterey Pop Festival and Otis’ ‘Stax Volt Tour’.  

Small Faces News: A new Steve Marriott DVD, ‘All Or Nothing - Live From London’, recorded in 1985, is due in the shops on March 30th. If my copies of the 1980s ‘pub tours’ are anything to go by Steve really wasn’t in good form by this period but, heck, this is a rare example of Marriott on film in his post-Small Faces/ Humble Pie days and worth a quick re-issue for that alone. The concert was recorded live in London’s Camden Palace Theatre and features an hour of Marriott material from all stages of his career (including my favourite Small Faces song ‘Tin Soldier’ I’m pleased to say!)

Also, there’s been yet another DVD release (I make this the 4th  to date, plus at least 3 VHS versions) of the Bo Diddley tribute concert of 1985. Several AAA artists are involved in the set, including Beach Boy Carl Wilson, Moody Blue John Lodge and the Small Faces’ Ronnie Lane in one of the bassist’s last concert appearances before his MS-related death in 1991. On the positive side, this set is dirt cheap – but be warned, you don’t actually get much of a chance to see anyone in great detail apart from Bo Diddley!  

10cc News: Eric Stewart’s pre-10cc band ‘Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders’ finally get a decent CD-sized best-of – the first in 13 years! Quite alarming when you consider how many hits they had (and how many infuriatingly poor Hollies and Searchers best-ofs are on the market!) Despite the billing, the set includes several post-Fontana Stewart-sung recordings (including the band’s biggest hits ‘A Groovy Kind Of Love’ and ‘The Letter’) so is compelling hearing for all curious 10cc fans. Most interesting of all to the 10cc collector, however, is an Eric Stewart-led cover of Graham Gouldmann’s classic cheeky psychedelia song ‘Schoolgirl’, a song well known to Hollies collectors after their cover appeared on ‘Abbey Road Volume Two’. This is, as far as I know, the first time the Mockingbird and the Mindbender worked together and pre-dates 10cc by quite a long time.

The Who News: At last, the band’s best ever DVD ’30 Years Of Maximum R and B’ gets a re-issue – it comes out today in fact! – and now includes a full second disc’s worth of extras, running to an impressive 7 hours 50 minutes! For those who don’t know, ‘R and B’ is one of the best career retrospectives of any AAA artist out there, covering the band from 1964 right up to their dissolution in 1982 with plenty of famous career landmarks from Woodstock and The Isle of Wight plus rare TV appearances and filmed-from-the-audience footage. The extras added to this disc include a full concert – alas one dating from 1981 without Moony when The Who were slightly past their peak.     

Neil Young News: Those Neil Young CDs just keep on coming! Just in the six months this site has been up and running we’ve already had a live CSNY CD, a Young-directed CSNY documentary, an archive concert from 1968, an abandoned archive box-set and now a new album. ‘Fork In The Road’ is yet another of those modern quirky Young albums with a concept – all about a car. A bit like the last album, 2007’s ‘Chrome Dreams II’ only the car is one of Neil’s own-designed electronically powered vehicles and inspires several ecologically-based pleas (a bit like ‘Greendale’ then possibly. Oh no). The CD is released on April 6th and a limited edition contains a bonus DVD though I’m not too sure what that will contain as yet. More news when we have it!

Anniversaries: Happy Birthday To You if your name happens to be Susanne Sulley (vocalist with The Human League 1981-present). Anniversaries of events this week include: that momentous day in the Beatles’ professional life – the day they first wore gray collarless suits! (at a gig in Barnston, March 23rd 1962), the publication of ‘In His Own Write’, Lennon’s surreal mix of childlike drawings and adult humour which became a best-seller in 1964 (March 23rd), the release of Pink Floyd’s mega-selling ‘Dark Side Of the Moon’ (March 24th 1973), the premiere of Who film ‘Tommy’ (March 26th 1975) and the opening of the Royal Albert Hall by Queen Victoria, site of many a classic AAA live album and features on the cover of Pentangle LP ‘Basket Of Light’ (March 29th 1871).

And for next week (while we’re away): the Birthday Bumps go to Graeme Edge (drummer with The Moody Blues 1965-present) who turns 67 on March 30th, Ronnie Lane (bassist with the Small Faces 1965-68) who would have been 63 on April 1st, Simon Cowe (guitarist with Lindisfarne 1969-93) who turns 61 on the same day and Jeff Barry (Monkees producer/ composer) who turns 70 on April 3rd. Anniversaries of events include: the ‘first’ Mods vs Rockers clash which took place at Clacton on March 30th 1964 (that’s ‘first’ as in the first one big enough to make the local papers!), Pink Floyd release their first single ‘Arnold Layne’ (March 30th 1967), The Who break the record for concert sales at Madison Square Gardens -  all 80,000 seats are sold out in just 60 hours (April 1 1974), the two seminal Beatles compilations ‘red’ (1962-66) and ‘blue’ (1967-70) are released in the UK on April 3rd 1973 and finally the Beatles occupy all five places on the top five American singles chart, a feat never equalled before or since (April 4th 1964: Can’t Buy Me Love/ Twist and Shout/ She Loves You/ I Want To Hold Your Hand/ Please Please Me – a further seven Beatles singles are also registered in the top 100 for that week!)    

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