Monday, 13 April 2009

Questions and Answers #1

THERE’S TOO MUCH ON MY MIND….And now to our first ‘Questions and Answers’ spot where we do our best to answer all of the website and AAA-group related questions you might have. Most questions this week have come from the same source so please, people, send in any of those burning questions that have been keeping you up and night and we’ll do our best to answer them!

1) Why have you chosen to review only 101 albums in depth and how did you select them?

Well, in a nutshell, 101 seemed like a nice number to do (I was actually trying to write 100 but I could never decide which album on my shortlist to let go!) These 101 albums are a mixture of my favourite albums of all time whether everybody knows them inside out already (such as ‘Revolver’, ‘The Wall’ and ‘Smile’) and my favourite under-estimated albums, the ones that nobody seems to talk about anymore and are – unfairly in my view – always dismissed in the context of an artist’s discography (such as Paul Simon’s ‘One Trick Pony’ – which gets a grand total of a paragraph in most comprehensive Simon biographies despite taking five years to make, the Stones’ ‘Between The Buttons’ and ‘Satanic Majesties’ sets which even the band has done their best to disown over the years and non-charting albums by the Hollies, Beach Boys, Airplane/Starship and other groups that to my wonky ears are every bit as impressive as their more famous counterparts).

Basically I’ve tried to get a mixture on this website, so that those of you who know everything will be able to read about albums you can’t find discussed in such detail anywhere else and those of you who are just starting out their record collections and only own an album or two still find enough to read and, possibly, be inspired to go on to discover more. Eventually I hope all of the albums by all of the artists reviewed on this site and other artists of the same time period will be covered by these ‘news, views and music’ pages, but that will take an awful long time so I’m not sure how far I will get (especially if I keep buying new things all the time!)

2) Where can we send our feedback about albums we buy after seeing them reviewed on your website – and can we send you the bill if we don’t like them and want to send them back?!

Err, I’m not sure about the answer to the second question (we’ll need to be a bit bigger before we can afford to do that), but as to the first, either email us (, please mark it ‘album review’ or ‘stuff for your website’ or ‘oy mush, how dare you badmouth the spice girls’ or something so I don’t think it’s a spam email or something) or post something up on our guestbook (you’ll find it listed on our main index page) and we’ll gladly print whatever you think, whether we agree with it or not (just don’t start being nice to the Spice Girls, that’s all I ask!) Of course, you’re bound to love everything we’ve reviewed here anyway, err honest, so there’s no need for refunds!

3) I’ve just been listening to a string of albums from 1967, some of which are on your site. What the hell’s happened to music in the past 40 years?!?

Good question, I’ve been wondering that myself! I’m not sure if a long and rambling discussion is wanted, or even if that was more than a rhetorical question, but my view is that music pushed the boundaries just about as far as it could go in the psychedelic years and the 1968/69 period deliberately went backwards to a more basic beat with a more polished sound as an answer to that. Keith Richards puts it best when he said in an interview that music made in 1967 was too ‘intense’ and that if all the bands had continued that music style and lifestyle they’d all be dead by now and so might the fans eventually – music had to get more ‘laidback’ or be swallowed up by something else as rock stars burnt themselves out (witness the growth of country-rock and the rise of more traditional songs a la Pentangle at the end of the decade, as well as a return to ‘roots’ rock and roll’). Alas, even though more people have become ‘record collectors’ in recent years than ever existed in the 60s (particularly in the 80s and 90s for some reason) music has become much more split and divided and I don’t think in the foreseeable future there will ever be such a massive movement as there was in the Merseybeat-Psychedelia years, when the vast majority of the recording world headed in roughly the same direction and egged each other on to grater heights. Music is just too insular these days and fans tend to get behind one or two bands instead of enjoying whole movements (as a very wide generalisation, of course). Oasis is the closest I’ve seen in recent years to a group creating that same feeling of unity throughout the general public, in their early days at least, although even they didn’t come close to the following that most groups in the 60s had and it all seemed to go to their heads a bit by about 1996.    

4) How come there’s so many oddball listings on your site? There’s a handful of 1980s and 90s groups on there that don’t really fit with the other 60s groups.

The artists referred to are presumably the Human League, Oasis and Belle and Sebastian for those who haven’t yet looked – and no, they don’t obviously ‘fit’ with the other groups here. However, we haven’t actually specified anywhere that we are a specialist 60s or 70s site (well, we did so on our advert and a few link sites but only so 80s and 90s fans weren’t dead disappointed by what music we had). Secondly,  I see a lot of the 60s/70s elements in each of these bands and ‘connect’ with them in a way that I don’t with other bands of the same period such as Spandau Ballet (shudder!) or the Spice Girls (giggle!) or many others I could name. I’ve included these albums because it seems silly to edit the albums that moved me and made me fall in love with them just because they don’t ‘fit’ a self-made restrictive idea of what the website should be. Other people might well find that they like these albums the same as me (I have quite a few friends whose record collections are dominated by the 60s or 70s and still own a few Human League or Belle and Sebastian records) – and if not then there’s still 97 other albums on here to choose from!

5) In 1970 they said ‘music should be free’. Will you be charging for your website? And if so, why?

Ha what a loaded question, thank-you for that one. In an ideal world I would be making so much money from this site I wouldn’t be doing anything else. As it is, my illness means I can’t do anything else at the moment anyway so your bank balances are spared at the moment. I’d hate to charge for the site under any circumstances though – any money I do make will be through advertising if I ever do make any in the future, despite being rude about sponsorship deals and television adverts featuring AAA artists somewhere on this site. At the moment we’re simply not big enough to draw in any advertising revenue or make it worthwhile to charge for you reading these reviews so we haven’t. As for music being ‘free’, that would be lovely wouldn’t it? But I’d rather pay good money for good music than I would pay good money for poor food, bad healthcare, rubbish service, Spice Girls CDs, etc,– so I agree instead that music should be ‘reasonably charged’, not ‘excessive’ or ‘exploitative’ like many record labels seem to think. Now please don’t knock down my iron fence and start invading my Isle of Wight Festival. You are getting music review for free here.  

6) What’s up with your graphics?

Err, I don’t know is the answer to that one. I’ve tried making this site in HTML templates and website maker sites and it just looks horrible with at least half of the text going awol every time I try it, so you’ll have to put up with things like they are for the moment I’m afraid. Perhaps I just write too much – website templates weren’t really built for sites like this one hat go on for hours! Anyway, I’m quite taken with the graphics we do use – I like to think we’ve got the mix between pictures, font styles and colours about right – I’m so sick at looking at official sites that are all style and no substance!  

7) How come a youngster like you got so interested in a decade that existed 20 years before you were born?

Look around you. Where’s the drama, the romance or the pleasure in being born now into the late 20th/early 21st century when we can predict every major new movement before the group members have even been born? More importantly, where’s all the good music gone? Recycled boy bands, diluted girl power or toothless rock and roll is all we have to look forward to at the moment, repeating on a seemingly endless cycle of pop-to prog rock-to punk and everything in-between (hopefully better is to follow but don’t hold your breath, I’ve been saying that for 15 years now…) And why should any of us want to stay linked to just one generation anyway? Music is for everybody, not just the generation born into a particular period (witness: the 1963 Beatles Fan Club had members ranging from three weeks old to 93 years!) Most of the music on this website is timeless, in terms of emotions anyway – the only thing that really dates a record is production (and occasional lyrical references) – but just in case that isn’t true, I’ve included the albums on this site chronologically so you can see some sort of an arc building outwards for the early years. Oh and it’s not my fault that I feel I have more in connection with some wide-eyed naïve mod from 1963 than a modern hip hop giant from 2009 with more money than sense (and not much of either) – despite the fact that the record companies out there seem to make me want to feel guilty for that. 

8) Why do you have it in for the ‘spice girls’?!

Take a look at the promo for first single ‘Wannabe’. Before the band have even sung a note, never mind become global superstars, Mel B aims a kung-fu kick at a homeless tramp leaning against a club, while the others all laugh. This image sums up everything that was wrong about the 1990s and the Spice Girls’ music sums up everything that was wrong about it musically. Maybe we have been a bit too hard on them on this site, but I’ve found in my experience that music lovers – real music lovers – nearly all agree how manipulated they were and how poor their material is. I must admit I have a sneaking respect for the single ‘Goodbye’ though – if they’d have all been like that one then the Spice Girls would have been fine by me. But they weren’t – some of the Spice Girls’ music must count as the lowest form of record company manipulation that ever existed. Please, though, if you’re a spice girls fan add something to the site that’ll prove us wrong. Just don’t expect us to agree!          

9) Was your last issue really sent to you from 25 years in the future?!?

Of Course! I wouldn’t be able to make up words like ‘clandusprod’ if it didn’t exist now would I?!?           

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