Monday, 13 April 2009

News, Views and Music Issue 27 (Intro)

April 13:

Dear all, welcome to another trawl around the half-price bargain bins of musical discussion that is ‘News, Views and Music’. As some of you may have noticed, we’re a teensy weensy bit late this week – sorry about that, it’s that darned cfs getting in my way again! To make up for it, we have for you this issue the first of a new semi-regular section of questions and answers, ready to help with all those musical queries that keep pressing on your mind. We’re hoping to make this a feature every 10 newsletters or so, depending on how many interesting questions you email in with (you can post them up on our guestbook, our forum or email them in to either or Oh and other new for you, I’ve just been informed that the local library is closing down for refurbishment at the end of the month (I didn’t think I’d made that much mess!) so the date of publication might have to change (I can still get things posted up when I visit out IT technician Mike at the weekend…) And now, on with the news…

Beatles News: Paul and Ringo really did perform together at the New York David Lynch Charity show on April 4th, as reported in an earlier issue – the first time the two Beatles have played together since the George Harrison tribute concert in 2002. Macca played a full set of his own material (including his Lennon tribute ‘Here Today’ – how come he ignored this lovely song for 20 years and now seems to like it so much he’s played it endlessly since its 2002 revival?!) Ringo then joined Paul for the last song of the concert – a performance of ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’. Ahh!

Anniversaries #1: Happy Ba-ba-ba-birthdays this week go to Spencer Dryden (drummer with the Jefferson Airplane 1966-70) who would have been 71 on April 7th, Julian Lennon (John Lennon’s eldest) who turns 46 on April 8th and Gene Parsons (multi-instrumentalist with The Byrds 1968-72) who turns 65 on April 9th . Events this week include: the official first day in the office at the Beatles’ ‘Apple’ headquarters in London (April 6th 1968), the date in 1962 when two r and b loving teenagers called Mick Jagger and Keith Richards first meet Brian Jones in his guise as bluesman ‘Elmo Lewis’ and agree to form a band (April 8th), the premier of Neil Young’s ‘shakey’ film ‘Journey Through The Past’ (April 8th 1973), the death of ‘fifth Beatle’ Stuart Sutcliffe after suffering a brain haemorrhage aged 21 – an event that had huge ramifications for the bands’ music (April 10th 1962) and eight years later McCartney announces that the Beatles are to break up (well that’s what’s gone down in history anyway, he actually says that he can’t see a time in the near future when the four will play together again as part of a questionnaire released with copies of his first album ‘McCartney’ out on April 10th 1970) and finally April 12th saw the premier of the film ‘That’ll Be The Day’ starring Ringo as a teddy boy and various members of the Who backing Billy Fury (1973).

Anniversaries #2: Sorry for having to add another week on here, but anyway here it is – hoppy easter bunny birthdays this week  go to AAA luminaries and visionaries Jack Casady (bassist with Jefferson Airplane 1965-72) who turns 65 on April 13th and Billy Kreutzmann (drummer with the Grateful Dead 1965-93) who turns 63 on April 17th . Anniversaries of events this week include: The Beatles record Help! on April 13th 1965, Pete Townshend performs his first ever solo concert at London’s Roundhouse on April 14th 1974, the Rolling Stones release two different LPs on April 15th ten years apart in 1966 and 1976 – ‘Aftermath’ and ‘Black and Blue’ respectively, British viewers get to see the very weird TV special ‘James Paul McCartney’ on April 16th 1973– screened as part of a deal with publisher Lew Grade to drop a publishing dispute arguing that Paul’s wife Linda couldn’t possibly have had a hand in writing some of the ex-Beatles’ biggest songs, Janis Joplin’s posthumous album ‘Pearl’ becomes a runaway success in the charts after its release on April 17th 1971 and finally The Cavern Club is sold on April 18th 1966 after gradually falling revenue.

News, Views and Music Issue 27 (Top Five): Best Pre-Beatles Songs

♫ And now the latest in our top fives – the five best pre-Beatles/Beach Boys rock and roll songs and which AAA artists covered them.

5) Well…Alright (originally by Buddy Holly; covered by – gasp – no one!) Why did no one cover this forgotten gem of a song, which shows the roots of Merseybeat era pop far more successfully than more famous Buddy Holly classics like ‘Peggy Sue’ and ‘That’ll Be The Day’? Amazingly the Hollies left it off their whole album of Holly covers both obvious and unusual (‘Hollies Sing Holly’, 1980) despite the factthat it would have fitted their style quite nicely. Stripping the crickets down to a trio, Buddy turns in a deeper and more serious vocal than usual, adding his menacing vocal to one of the first true rock and roll (as opposed to ‘skiffle’) songs recorded with acoustic rather than electric guitars. The addition of a cowbell every half beat in the bar makes the whole thing sound like the missing link between thye sounds of the 50s and 60s, a sound aped by several Buddy Holly fans including Lennon and McCartney, The Hollies and The Kinks. 

4) Louie Louie (originally by the Kingsmen; covered by The Beach Boys – ‘Shut Down Volume Two’ and The Kinks – ‘Kinksize Sessions EP’, available on CD as bonus track on ‘The Kinks’). This track used to be one of the most famous rock and roll records of all time, played by every band starting out in honour of its rebellious drawl and simple chugging chords. But where did all those people go? Nobody seems to remember this song anymore, possibly because – shamefully – of these two rather poor AAA cover versions  which are now far more famous than the real thing. The Beach Boys version features a promising arrangement caught adrift on a sea of tiredness (this was the period when the fivesome were making five albums a year – and it shows on ‘Shut Down’ more than most of their mid-60s LPs) and the curious idea that listeners might actually want to hear the words loud and clear. The Kinks go back to re-creating this song’s slightly-out-of-earshot leering mode, but do it courtesy of some of the worst attempts at double-tracking in recorded history (it took a good couple of years for Ray Davies to learn the knack of doubling his parts successfully). Neither version quite recaptures the menace of the Kingsmen’s original, whose sneer and insistent beat inspired everything from Merseybeat to punk (it was even banned for ‘suggestive lyrics’ in some states of America, even though a study of these same lyrics reveals it all to be just gibberish).

3) Fortune Teller (written by Benny Spellman; covered by The Rolling Stones – ‘Got Live! If You Want It’, The Hollies – ‘The Hollies’ and The Who – Live At Leeds’ (deluxe edition) ). History has forgotten who Benny Spellmen as the original version of this song has practically disappeared without trace, but it became a staple of many bands’ line-ups during the 60s. A comedy tale of a teenager looking for his perfect partner who in desperation goes to see a fortune teller – only to realise later that it’s the very fortune teller who makes hi heart a flutter, this is one of the first genuinely funny rock and roll songs (apart from those written by Chuck Berry, anyway). It’s not just the lyrics that make this song the enjoyable little escapade it is, however – the rhythmic see-sawing melody line and mixture of on and off beats made it one of those songs that bands could take in pretty much any direction. And they did. The Stones version – for some reason abandoned as their second single, left in a vault for two years and then overdubbed with crowd noises so it could appear ‘live’ – is one of the bands’ best early covers, menacing and ungrammatical in true Stones style (‘I’m not passion with the girls I know’; generally speaking they’re better at doing blues covers than rock and roll in their early days, although their Bo Diddley songs are an exception to that). The Hollies coat the song in blissful harmonies and take the song at a rattling pace while letting drummer Bobby Elliott work his way up and down his kit, exploring every avenue while looking for love. The Who go in quite a different way, slowing the song down to a crawl for the first half of the song before letting it erupt into a fire of self-pity and anger over the narrator’s love life. All three versions are superb, showing what a great and adaptable little song this is.   

2) Shakin’ All Over (originally by Johnny Kidd and the Pirates; covered by the Swinging Blue Jeans and The Who – ‘Live At Leeds’). One of the noisiest of all 19560s songs, this was the British song that broke the dichotomy of the American rock and rollers and showed that England wasn’t all clean-cut Cliff Richards and Tommy Steeles With pklenty of space for rhythm guitar riffing, electric guitar soloing, drum breaks and bubbling bass lines, this is another song that marked the way forward for bands of the early 60s. The Who turn in a typically energetic and fierce version on their superlative Live At Leeds album, but it’s the largely forgotten group the Swinging Blue Jeans who made perhaps the definitive 60s version of this track. Crystal-clear production, relentless drumming, classic vocals – this version has it all.   

1) Too Much Monkey Business (originally by Chuck Berry; covered by the Beatles – ‘At The BBC’, The Kinks – ‘The Kinks’ and The Hollies – studio version ‘The Hollies’/ live version ‘Long Road Home’ box set). ‘Same thing every day, get up go to school, no need for arguing my objections over-ruled, ahh!’ This is just one of six verses hollered at a break neck speed on perhaps the ultimate pre-Beatles rebel song, one of the best Chuck Berry records around. Hemmed in at school, at work, at home, in the army, life for the teenage rebel in the song is hard – but he finds a certain kind of satisfaction in being kicked out of every one in turn for monkeying around. The Hollies sweetened their version with stunning harmonies but made the rhythm section pounce even morer than on the original, while swapping lead vocals between their three singers Clarke, Hicks and Nash. (Check out the live version, not available until the 2003 box set, which demonstrates the universality of this song by suddenly leaping sideways into lots of other songs, including the Beatles’ ‘I Feel Fine’ and the Lovin’ Spoonful’s ‘Daydream’). The Beatles choose to speed up the tempo, with Lennon delivering one of his best ever lead vocals on a version that remains one of the fab four’s most potent (and forgotten) rockers. Whichever way you do it, this song is a classic!

Well that’s nearly it for another week. Just one final word before we go, a though from Philosophy Phil – ‘the best cure for insomnia is…a good night’s sleep’. Yes, thankyou for that wonderful thought, we’ll see you next week! Keep rocking!

The Mamas and Papas "If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears" (1966) (News, Views and Music 27)

“Got a feelin’ that you’re playing some games with me babe, got a feelin’ that you been untrue…”

The Mamas And Papas “If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears”

There’s a certain kind of bittersweet melancholy that’s the sweetest sound you’ve ever heard. Ray Davies swore by it, Brian Wilson has had it for most of his working life, the Beatles leaned on it heavily throughout the 60s and even the most unlikely bands like the Who and Rolling Stones gave us the melancholia of ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ and ‘Lady Jane’ from time to time. John Phillips though, the man whose composer’s instincts dominate this record, was a living breathing testament to how to make bittersweet melancholy sound fabulous and there’s a rarely a song of his that isn’t bittersweet and gorgeous. Even the band’s best known songs, ‘Monday Monday’ and ‘California Dreamin’- which are incidentally both from this album - are lyrically depressing cries from the heart stuck together with power pop hooks and harmonies that suggest that somehow despite the problems the world’s going to be just fine anyway.

In a (very) wide generalisation, most debut albums are happy, energetic, eager-to-please collections of danceable grooves that make you feel good – despite the rush you get when the harmonies kick in, the Mamas and Papas’ debut is one of the most melancholy ever made. And, curiously, it’s still by far and away their happiest album despite the obvious sadness oozing at the seams. That curious dichotomy is all over this album - one minute the band is all agreed that ‘to go where you want to go’ is the best way for happy healthy human beings to be – the next we’re being urged ‘you don’t understand’. One minute Mama Cass is telling us she’s part of ‘the in crowd’ – the next she’s modulating into a minor key to tell us that ‘you ain’t been nowhere till you’ve been in the in crowd’, making us wonder if her character actually sounds more desperate than victorious. We’re California Dreamin’ on this album alright, thanks to some of the most glorious harmonic outbursts on record – but on such a cold and biting winter’s day.  

Maybe all that melancholy explains why this hippiest of bands wasn’t the happiest of bands, despite the wholesome image they always liked to project. Just like CSNY the Mamas and Papas spoke out about love and harmony and peace in the world in every note and phrase of their music and it wasn’t a ‘front either’ – both bands believed in a hippy utopia with every pore in their bodies (even if none of them were too sure how to get there). And, just like CSNY, all four then bickered endlessly between themselves about how best to show that utopia on record, causing ructions that killed off the band completely in just three short years and to these ears diluted their delightfully happy harmonies as early as the second album. Records two to four all have their shining moments (Phillips’ tale of betrayal ‘No Salt On Her Tail’ and his glorious tale of peace ‘Through My Window’ both deserve better recognition, being among the best songs the Mamas and Papas ever did) but this album’s mix of shimmering fragile sadness and aggressive fully-powered harmonies is the most consistent and pioneering of the quartet’s full albums. It’s also the only one where you can tell the whole band really are enjoying each other’s company – for the record, love triangles don’t get any more confusing than the one in this band and its all going to kick off sometime around 1967, shortly after this record (John had married Michelle who fell in love with Denny, only to find a rival for his affections in Mama Cass, etc…what is this, Creeque Alley Coronation Street?!)

Onto the music. I’d love to be different to very other reviewer under the planet and focus on a different ‘best song’ than ‘California Dreamin’ but, well, every time I try and write about some other song I feel this majestic single pounding at my ear-drums so I’m going to have to admit defeat and write about it.  ‘California Dreamin’ is a perfectly written, perfectly sung representative of everything the Mamas and Papas were about. The words are quite genuine (the Phillips’ really were getting fed up with their self-imposed exile on the Virgin Islands when they wrote this song together and the ‘church’ the homesick pair step inside is actually St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, a journey they took because – being California citrizens – they hadn’t quite realised how cold it got in other parts of America), but they’re dressed up to mean something to all of us. It’s Homeward Bound, basically, but with the song’s narrators even further off the beaten track than Paul Simon stuck at Widnes railway station, lost in a fog of their own making. The dry repetitive rhythms crackle like the Winter air, the unusual but highly effective choice of a flute solo highlights the icicles hanging in the air and there, just about audible in the background, are those gorgeous sunny harmonies that are close enough to believe in but too far away to embrace. By the end of the song, we’ve all got our bags packed for our own sunny tranquillity of California. In short, this is catchy but deep pop at it’s best and the best Califorbnia-related song that Brian Wilson didn’t write.  

‘Monday, Monday’ is the other well known song here, the follow up single that again becomes all things to all men and is equally full of clever lyrical rhymes and glowing harmonies, with all four band members on form. We haven’t said much about Michelle or Denny yet so here goes – Michelle’s little girl innocence riding over the top of John Phillips’ melancholy wave is extraordinary, as is Denny Docherty’s three dimensional vocal of heartbreak going on over the top of it. Personally, though, I always get a bit lost in this song – one minute the narrator’s girl is there and he’s happy (‘…that Monday evening you would still be here with me’) and the next he’s down in the dumps. Well, that’s the trouble with melancholy pop I suppose – even the writer gets so lost in his own music that he can’t decide what to write any more. Whatever the real message of the song, it’s the production that makes this song work so well, with the singers soaring off into infinity – and the near-end section where the band go into those silky four-part harmonies only to drop back down to the cold, dry hard bed of the verse melody is a jaw-dropping lesson in contrasts.

‘Straight Shooter’ is the band’s best rocker, so good in fact that it was needlessly recycled for the far inferior ‘Somebody Groovy’ on this same album (only the lyrics differ – the melody is identical!) In truth, the lyrics of neither song have much to tell us; John Phillips seems to be convinced that he’s telling us about a straightforward sort of character who speaks the truth at all costs – but we already know (and learn further during the complex melodies intertwined throughout this song) what a deep and multi-layered character John Phillips was so the effect doesn’t quite work, even in Denny’s capable hands. The riff is classic though, sounding like something Roger McGuinn would have earned a lifetime of kudos for writing, and the band’s harmonies over the top are some of their best on record.

Best of all for me, though, is the gossamer light ballad ‘Got A Feelin’, the first song of many built on the theme of betrayal (irony of ironies – this is John Phillips raising his first doubts about wife Michelle’s relationship with Denny, a theme that’s going to dominate the next two Mamas and Papas records, and giving it to Michelle and Denny to sing, now wonder ‘the joke’s on you’). This song is one long sigh, building up from nothing to the point where it becomes overpowering – and the masterpiece of all is that this ever-moving dance between the two singers is set to the beat of a ticking clock, marking down the time for a showdown between the three. The tune to this song is simply one of the best written by anybody anywhere, soaring into the ether before bumping back to Earth. In typical Mamas and Papas contrasts both singers sound so sweet and innocent on this, with some of their best ever harmony work, but what they’re saying is actually quite nasty and challenging. The dream-like state of the production is another touch of class, with everything in this song not quite right, adding to the confused state of the narrator’s mind.         

On the down side, John Phillips isn’t quite up to writing everything himself yet – despite the general public idea of Phillips as the ‘domineering one’ he never does quite manage to write a whole album himself till his one and only solo LP. And, to be frank, none of the other writers chosen for this record is quite up his standard – at least, not the way the Mamas and papas do them. Even the Beatles’ ‘I Call Your Name’ sounds like the filler it is in this rendition, being one of Lennon’s earliest songs hauled out of the writing dustbin to fill up the ‘Long Tall Sally’ EP. The Beatles got away with the faults in the song by giving it such a sterling arrangement – a touch of reggae, a hint of rock and otherwise pop bliss. The Mamas and Papas want the song to sound like vaudeville. Slowing the tempo merely shows how poor the melody is. Getting Mama Cass to waste her delightful vocals on this song more or less solo at the beginning merely shows up how poor the words are. Only for the chorus does the band wake up but, alas, its for just a few seconds at a time before we’re back to the snail’s pace again.

‘Do You Wanna Dance?’ is another curio, an energetic early 60s standard that has little about it to recommend except it’s energy, slowed down to another crawl. The Beach Boys didn’t seem to comprehend this song’s confusing lyrics either when they recorded it for ‘Beach Boys Today’, but at least they turned in a powerful performance that leapt from the speakers. I really hate these old standard vaudevillian arrangements the Mamas and Papas kept insisting on doing (it gets worse on later LPs, what with Shirley Temple and Rodgers and Hart covers and all), as they use none of the band’s strengths and show up lots of weaknesses that just aren’t there on Phillips’ own songs.   

‘The In Crowd’ is another curious cover choice, although at least the arrangement works well on this one, with Michelle dominating the background harmonies and Cass going at the song for all she’s worth. No, the fault is with the song itself – too many awkward lyrical phrases that don’t quite fit the melody and so have to get changed tin order to scan (‘the share is always the biggest a-m-o-unt’). And what is with the moral of this song? ‘You ain’t been nowhere until you’ve fit in the ‘in crowd?’ Well, hang on a minute, the song doesn’t actually give me any reason to want to join any ‘in’ crowd – other than the fact that I’ll feel left out of it if I don’t join. Phillips is notable by his absence from his one – a solitary outsider spirit if ever there was one and somehow, despite the other three’s best attempts, this song falls flat without his input. Far from being ‘special’ joining the ‘in’ crowd seems to rob you of originality if this song is anything to go by. A rotten misfire on an otherwise superlative record. Your best bet is to skip it and go back to Phillips’ material – now there’s a sound for sore ears. Overall rating: ♫♫♫♫♫♫♫ (7/10).

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?!?