Monday 20 April 2009

News, Views and Music Issue 28 (Intro)

Welcome fellow archive alumni to issue 28 of ‘news, views and music’. What a hilarious piece of witty banter poking fun at all the moral holes in modern society we had planned for you this issue…before we decided we’d better log off from ‘spice girls’ official site and start writing about Alan’s Album Archives legends instead. In terms of website news…well, there isn’t really anything of note happening there. I’ve exhausted my first batch of link posting and I’m waiting for some results to filter through before I start on batch two. I’ve noticed an alarming drop off in the amount of visitors we’ve had recently too – come on guys and visit us; now that half of the interesting videos have been deleted from ‘youtube’ and ‘facebook’ has been ‘developed’ to the point of extinction there really aren’t many other places to go (though CSNY forum ‘4waysite’ is still worth a look). Oh and before I move on to the ‘news’ section, I must say a special big HELLO to Linda and lots of hugs to her now that she’s out of hospital – all the album archives have been missing you!

Beatles News: First up are two Beatle bulletins. Firstly the long-awaited Beatles ‘Rock Band’ game has now officially been given a release date of September 9th and the game on its own will cost £40. In line with other ‘rockband’ spin-offs, however, there will be a limited edition set of Beatle instruments to play along with including Ringo’s ‘Beatles’ drum kit and a McCartney-ish Hoffner bass! This deluxe set is set to retail at £190 so we’re told, so better get saving now! (That’s ridiculous - I could build my own yellow submarine with that much money!)

Also, Macca celebrated the 11th anniversary of first wife Linda’s death from breast cancer by playing a special set at the Coachela Music Festival in California on Saturday. Macca played a two-and-a-half-hour set to 75,000 music fans who had turned out for the multi-day event and dedicated the songs ‘My Love’ and ‘Long and Winding Road’ to Linda.   

Paul Simon News: A bit of belated news this week, but the second series of Sesame Street that was released in the UK at the end of March (‘Old School Volume Two 1974-79’) includes a hilarious two-minute bit of footage of Paul from 1976. Performing ‘Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard’, Paul is completely upstaged by the eight-year-old girl sitting next to him who starts improvising her own lyrics to the song (some of which are better than the original, actually!) Where is that girl now? Did they ever work together again?! Why on earth did Paul choose to re-record one of his most risqué lyrics for a programme dedicated to the under-fives?!? And why isn’t the legendary footage of Paul singing ‘St Judy’s Comet’ from the same season not included in the DVD?!? (Let’s hope the mid-80s set includes the footage of Paul performing the alphabet with Ladysmith Black Mambazo that seemed to on each episode without fail when I was young; thanks for teaching me my ABC’s Paul Simon - this site is now officially your fault!). This latest Sesame set is still worth getting though despite my gripe – where else you can find footage of Helen Reddy, Victor Borge, the catchiest game of pinball in history set to mathematics and a lot of cute furry monsters in one place?)

Anniversaries: Many happy returns of the boomerang to AAA artists and associates Jack Nitzsche (Neil Young producer and briefly a member of Crazy Horse) who turns 72 on April 22 and Pete Ham (of Badfinger) would have been 62 on April 26th. Anniversaries of events this week include: the legendary first  meeting between the Beatles (who were riding high with ‘She Loves You’) and the Rolling Stones (whose career had temporarily stalled after first single ‘Come On’) at London’s Crawdaddy Club on April 21st 1963; Janis Joplin performs in England for the first time with a fondly remembered set at the Royal Albert Hall (April 21 1969); the official dissolution of Wings 18 months after their last recordings (April 25th 1981); the Rolling Stones release their first LP imaginatively titled ‘Rolling Stones’ (April 26th 1964) and finally Ringo Starr performs in the memorable but rarely seen TV special ‘Ognir Rrats’, with a plot based on the tale of the ‘Prince and the Pauper and songs taken from the drummer’s then-current LP ‘Bad Boy’ (April 26th 1978; if you’re wondering about the weird title try spelling it backwards!)

News, Views and Music Issue 28 (Top Five): AAA Autobiographies

♫ And the latest in our series of top fives – this week, the five best AAA-related autobiographies. Now given what a literary and demonstrative (not to say occasionally egotistical) bunch of people are represented by this site, I thought there’d be millions of these books till I actually came to write this piece. As it turns out, there are only five official AAA-related autobiographies anyway (discounting the Barry Norman/Paul McCartney tome ‘Many Years From Now’, which is a collaboration only in the sense that Norman held a tape recorder for Macca to talk into), and annoyingly two of them are by members of the same band. Expect a top five biographies section coming your way on a future newsletter – there’s lots more to choose from there!

5) ‘I Me Mine’ (George Harrison, 1979). Most Beatles fans don’t even know this book exists, probably because it isn’t really a properly thought out ‘book’ at all, just an excuse for George to see how his words, song lyrics and photographs would look when collected together by an expensive publishing company he admired. The book is one of Derek Taylor’s last official Beatle commissions and he interviewed George on all manner of things (the book, originally sold with a limited edition CD of B-sides and outtakes most of which have since been re-issued, retailed at a mind-boggling £175 originally, but was re-issued in a much cheaper format in tribute to Derek and George after their deaths close together at the start of the millennium). The book is a lovely collector’s item, full of lots of unseen photographs and their insight into George’s creative instincts (most of the song lyrics are shown here in their original, unedited state – many scribbled on the backs of envelopes or tatty A4 notebooks, interestingly). However, this book is marred by two things. One) George sounds far more at home talking about his guitars, his garden or his admiration of formula one drivers than he does discussing his time as a Beatle. And Two) he never got round to writing a second edition, so the story breaks off rather suddenly in 1979 and the ‘George Harrison’ album (we reviewed this album as no 74 on our list and this book’s publication seems to tie in nicely with the idea of George mending his Beatle bridges and feeling at peace with himself for the first time in years). Most memorable moment: it speaks volumes that the most memorable passage in this book is a description of George’s house and garden at Friar Park.

4) ‘X-Ray’ (Ray Davies, 1992). What a mind-bogglingly weird book this is. This ‘unauthorised autobiography’ (!) is, contrary to most reviews, written entirely in the first-person. Unfortunately, Ray isn’t the narrator – instead it’s an unknown cub reporter sometime in the future, trying to get a scoop on one of the ‘old musicians’ who used to rock the establishment before the corporations won and brainwashed people against Raymond Douglas’ music. Ray is in the book, as the subject of the reporter’s questions, but he paints a very odd and exaggerated version of himself  – part media-shy recluse, part brainwashing madman, part dirty old git, part heartbroken cynic. Much as I admire what Ray did with this book (and we never thought for a minute that he’d ever write a ‘straight’ book!), it desperately needs a companion volume to set the record straight, as its just so hard to tell what’s fiction and what’s fantasy (very Ray Davies that, drawing the reader to reflect on the matter of ‘truth’ just as in all the Klassik Kinks songs; is this just fantasy or the real reality?) Ray also points a very un-likeable version of his future self, although the reporter is, in many ways, the ‘60s version of himself as he might have ended up in the future if he’d taken another job (as you can tell from that sentence, this is a very confusing book…) far better are the songs it inspired – look out for Ray’s ‘Storyteller’ CD if you can as, besides extracts of the author reading the more straightforward sections of the book, Ray plays several new songs inspired by it including two of his best for many years – ‘X Ray’ and ‘The Ballad of Julie Finkle’. A follow-up book, ‘Waterloo Sunset’, was even weirder, featuring characters loosely inspired by the characters in some of Ray’s most obscure songs (half of which hadn’t actually been recorded until after the book’s publication and half of which didn’t seem to tally at all with my interpretation of the songs, although the short story ‘Rock and Roll Fantasy’ is a classic and still haunts me a decade after reading it…) Most memorable moment: the death of Ray’s sister Rene from heart failure, weeks after buying her brother his first guitar.

3) ‘Long Time Gone’ (David Crosby with Carl Gottileb, 1989). Please re-issue this book – I’ve been after a copy of it for years (although I’ve requested it from the library lots of times over the years – indeed, it’s always been my first ‘test’ of a library’s services every time I move house!) David Crosby was used to being a pioneer and this book caught the beginning opf a wave of ex-hippies putting their thoughts to paper. It’s still the best of this ilk that I’ve read too: the ascent into Byrdom and CSN-dom and the descent into addiction and a prison sentence is one of the most gripping and moving stories of them all. Cros has a good memory too and a good eye for the world around him (as anyone who knows his songs as well as I do will tell you), although I was slightly frustrated at the lack of details about Cros’ songs (by the standards of, say, Neil Young there aren’t many Crosby songs to talk about either, so it would have been nice to hear a bit more insight into ‘Guinnevere’, ‘Long Time Gone’, ‘Delta’ et al besides the usual stories). A fascinating read and a good complement to an evening of CSN CDs. A follow-up book (of sorts) came out in 2000 called ‘Stand And Be Counted’, although this is actually a potted biography of the movers and shakers of the protest movement, with lots of Crosby’s memories of his own involvement in Woodstock, No Nukes and Live Aid thrown in too. Most memorable moment: when Crosby finds his songwriting skills are returning him a few months into an 18-month prison sentence for drug and weapon offences.

2) ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice?’ (Brian Wilson, 1992). Not many people actually get to ‘disown’ their autobiographies, but Brian has. His family challenged his harrowing views of his abusive childhood. His brothers, friends and cousins for the most part hated the way they came out in the book (Al Jardine even sued his old school chum over a few things said in this book). His therapist Eugene Landy, who at the time this book was written was living in Brian’s pocket and had persuaded him to give him a percentage of his royalties, was later said to have written the whole thing in Brian’s name. But if that’s true (Brian’s never really told us either way) then Dr Landy should have become a writer, not a slightly dodgy therapist – Brian’s fragile-but-tough personality shines through every page and there are so many believable (and backed up) insights into how Brian wrote some of his best songs that I can’t believe Brian didn’t have at least a majority input into this project. Brian’s tale really is unique in music circles – the abusive dad who saw in his son all the talents he wanted for himself, the ungrateful band who wanted him to stick to formulas and forget such things as ‘Pet Sounds’ and ‘Smile, the decades of staying in bed and being afraid of doing anything. Best of all, this story has a happy ending – you feel it when you come to the last few pages of the book and, for the most part, Brian’s story really has been happy ever since (or, at least, having countless standing ovations from idolatory crowds whilst being backed by a sympathetic and talented band really does seem to have been what the doctor ordered). One of the most moving books you will ever read, be it fact or fiction. Most memorable moment: Brian leaning his head out of his bedroom window during a thunderstorm, desperate to commit suicide and with the lyrics to ‘Til’ I Die’ pounding through his ears. He closes the window in the next chapter with the terrific line ‘there was something very wrong with death – it had no music’.

1) ‘Kink’ (Dave Davies, 1993). This book came out hot on the heels of his brothers’ (not that the two ever admitted to each other that they were working on a book – it came as news to both of them) and is far more accessible, ebing everything you’d ever want an autobiography to be. Dave comes over as very honest and very likeable, two character traits that are usually diametrically opposed in books such as these so its to his credit that his occasional rants against other people (usually his brother) are backed up by his insights into people’s strengths and reflections of his own weaknesses. The most controversial section of this book is Dave’s tale of being visited by alien intelligences in a hotel room in 1982 – and his frustrations afterwards at how his friends and associates think he’s mad or having a nervous breakdown (he gets equally frustrated earlier on in the book when he really does feel like he’s having a nervous breakdown and nobody wants to know). Like the rest of the book, Dave is more than convincing enough in his tale (indeed, the aliens seem more believable than such larger-than-life characters as early managers Robert and Granville). Most memorable moment: Dave’s teenage romance with girlfriend Sue haunts Dave like a ghost throughout the book (both parents try to separate the two after she becomes pregnant at the age of 15 and tell the other that they never want to see each other again; unbeknown to the two love birds who hold a candle for the other for the next three decades). Dave’s story goes on to inspire the Kinks’ ‘Schoolboys in Disgrace’ album.         

Well, that’s it for another week. Just a closing word from our friend Philosophy Phil – ‘I am the eggman, goo goo ga joob’. Whatever that means. See you next week!

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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In honour of this week’s review of an album released to cash in on a movie soundtrack (only one of these songs actually appears in ‘Easy Rider’...and...

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154) The human singing voice carries with it a vast array of emotions, thoughts that cannot be expressed in any other way except opening the lungs and...

Everyone has a spiritual home, even if they don’t actually live there. Mine is in a windy, rainy city where the weather is always awful but the...

Having a family does funny things to some musicians, as we’ve already seen in this week’s review (surely the only AAA album actually written around...

Some artists just have no idea what their best work really is. One thing that amazes me as a collector is how consistently excellent many of the...

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