Friday 8 May 2009

News, Views and Music Issue 30 (Intro)

May 8:

Welcome, dear readers, to another fun filled fanfest of fantastic music. If you’ve been looking through the past darkly and windows of darkness are all you can see through, then you’ve come to the right place. And what a week its been my friends – we’ve had the Kinks howling the blues on BBC4, Johnny Cash howling country on BBC2, 10cc howling on the radio and the ex-Cat Stevens busy plugging his record just about everywhere. Now a word or sixteen about how things are here at the AAA – this might be the last you hear from us in a while, owing to the fact that the local library is being refurbished and Mike’s computer has been having problems accepting pen drives. I hope it isn’t because otherwise you might not hear from us again till the end of June, but fear not – I shall be writing, reviewing and accruing new music all the time so get ready for a large collection of issues when the time comes (unless of course the computer magically fixes itself like it did last week – ah the wondrous properties of music and its ability to fix all ills!) And now, on with the news…

CSN News: More on that CSN DVD we tried to tell you about last week (only for the computer to go haywire instead). It will be part of the ‘classic artists’ series that’s just begun (well done for making CSN top of the list, guys!) and will include lots of documentary footage along with some unseen extras of CSN at work, rest and play. It will be out at the end of June – more news nearer the time (but you can pre-order it on Amazon if you wish).

  Kinks News: The band were back on television – albeit in their early years 1964 incarnation, with a storming live version of ‘Got Love If You Want It’ getting its second airing on BBC4 as part of their ‘Blues at the BBC’ evening. The extract was from the BBC’s ‘Beatroom’ programme and originally broadcast on October 5th 1964.

Cat Stevens News: Yusuf’s new album ‘Roadsinger’ came out this Monday in both CD and CD/DVD formats – expect a special ‘bonus’ review sometime this week!  

♫ Anniversaries this extended week (May 4th-15th): Lots of Birthday cake wishes this time around to Derek Taylor (Beatles press officer throughout the 1960s) who would have been 67 on May 7th; Pete Wingfield (‘6th Hollie’ throughout the 1970s) who turns 61 also on May 7th; Graham Gouldmann (bassist with 10cc 1972-83 plus re-unions) who turns 63 on May 10th and Ian McLagan (keyboardist with the Small Faces 1966-68) who turns 64 on May 12th. Anniversaries of events this week: happy birthday recorded music! Yes it was this week in 1886 (May 4th to be exact!) that a patent was awarded to Chichester Bell and Charles Sumner Tainter for their invention of the gramophone; and Happy 45th Birthday Moody Blues, who were formed a mere 78 years after the gramophone on May 4th 1964; the Buffalo Springfield disband on May 5th 1968 after four glorious but frustrated years with a final show at Long Beach, California (please release the soundtrack of this show, Atlantic!); Mick Jagger and Keith Richards buy a new fuzz-box for their guitar and, duly inspired, end up writing their key song ‘Satisfaction’ the same day (May 6th 1965); Paul Simon sets out on his first solo tour three years after the break-up of Simon and Garfunkel (May 6th 1973); An unbeaten record on May 8th 1965 – no less than nine record in the American top 10 are British (the Beatles’ ‘Ticket To Ride’ and the Stones’ ‘The Last Time’ among them); the Beatles officially sign their contract with EMI and become recording artists, although they won’t actually release anything until October (May 9th 1962); a year later on the same day, Paul McCartney meets long-term girlfriend Jane Asher for the first time following a prestigious gig for the band at the Albert Hall; The Rolling Stones record debut single ‘C’mon’ (May 10th 1963); the Beatles officially dissolve Apple Records after eight years (May 10th 1975); the famous London ‘Games For May’ concert at which Pink Floyd played, among others, debuting their top five single ‘See Emily Play’ (May 12th 1967); the first ‘new’ Beatles release in seven years – ‘Live at the Hollywood Bowl’ – is released (May 13th 1977); the Byrds release their first ever single (under that name, anyway!) ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ (May 15th 1965) and finally, Pink Floyd perform their legendary outdoor concert at London’s Crystal Palace, complete with a 50foot blow-up octopus for reasons best known to the band. The sound system used by the band is so loud that they accidentally kill most of the fish in the nearby lake and are subsequently banned from playing there again! (May 15th 1970).

News, Views and Music Issue 30 (Top Five): Beatles B-Sides

And now for the latest in our series of top fives – the best Beatles B-sides (not counting tracks also released on album!):

5) Thankyou Girl (B-side of ‘From Me To You’ 1963; available on ‘Past Masters Volume One’). Oh oh oh you’ve been good to me little B-side, made me glad when I was blue. And eternally I’m always going to be in love with you. So there. We’ve mentioned it a few times on this website already, but one of the reasons for the Beatles’ key success was their close relationship with their fans (along with talent, hard work and good timing of course). Every Christmas until their demise members of the Beatles’ fan club would get an exclusive bright shiny disc in the post to play over their Christmas Day lunch and the sheer amount of ‘exclusives’ in the very-little-profit Beatles Book show just what a lot of helpful and pleasant guys the fab four were despite all the fame going to their heads at times. This B-side, recorded at a time when the Beatles had become about the biggest thing in Britain though not yet the planet, is a knowing nod to all their early fans for getting them this far, couched in the terms of a love song. We never actually do find out in the song what the girl is being thanked for (other than for ‘loving me the way that you do’) – but for Beatles fans the message was clear – this was the nicest and friendliest group on the planet at their nicest and friendliest best. And the melody’s good too.

4) Don’t Let Me Down (B-side of ‘Get Back’ 1969; available on ‘Past Masters Volume Two) Beatles fans seem to forget nowadays just how long the gap was between the enthusiastic reception of the single of ‘Get Back’ and the rather muted reception delivered to final Beatles album ‘Let It be’. Sometime in-between the whole polished ‘Abbey Road’ project had come and gone and yet fans were still clamouring for the delightful ‘back to basics’ sound they’d heard on both sides of one of the band’s more popular late-period releases. What a disappointment the album must have been, with both of the album’s best tracks already released on this single – and how annoyed Lennon must have been to have one of his better compositions booted off the album to maintain the Beatles’ ‘no B-sides on an album’ policy. ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ is, you see, one of the few genuine love songs Lennon wrote for Yoko in his Beatles period and is one of the most impressively constructed too (songs like ‘Happiness Is A warm Gun’ and ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’ are equally impressive but more about addiction than love). You really feel for Lennon when he howls the chorus over and over again, even if you also feel for first wife Cynthia after Lennon’s dismissive line ‘I’m in love for the first time – don’t you know it’s going to last’).

3) Yes It Is (B-side of ‘Ticket To Ride’ 1965; available on ‘Past Masters Volume One). This introverted harmony-based ballad is an obvious nod back to the 1964 B-side ‘This Boy’ but it’s oh so superior in every single way. Lennon’s really showing his true colours in this period, inspired by drugs and Dylan in equal measure, and a lot more of his heart comes pouring out on this song than on the rather formulaic predecessor. The girl of the narrator’s dreams comes painfully close to reminding him of a former girlfriend, one who either died or broke up painfully with him in the past. The painful reminders (which some commentators say refers to former Beatle and close Lennon friend Stuart Sutcliffe who died aged 21 just as the Beatles were on the verge of reaching stardom and who was certainly on Lennon’s mind a lot in the ‘Help!”’ and ‘Rubber Soul’ period given the amount of songs of death and betrayal) are developed very carefully here, being triggered off by nothing more than the colour of the dress the new girlfriend wears (this song is a little bit like 1964’s ‘Baby’s In Black’ too, but superior to that track too). George Harrison continues his short-lived 1965 love of the pedal steel guitar, gently enhancing the mode by having his instrument sound like the tears the wasted-lennon vocal is too tired to cry (it’s all over ‘Help!’ but will be replaced by the sitar come ‘Rubber Soul’ time). An interesting experiment that cuts far deeper than virtually everything else in the pop market in 1965 (except, perhaps, the A side). 

2) The Inner Light (B-side of ‘Lady Madonna’ 1968; available on ‘Past masters Volume Two’). George Harrison at his poetic best – and amazingly this is his first songwriting appearance on either side of as Beatles single! The basic track was recorded in India during George’s solo sessions for the soundtrack of the ‘Wonderwall’ film – an underrated, mainly instrumental project that’s almost all up to this kind of standard. The lyrics come from a book that George was given during his early days of friendship with the ‘hare Krishna’ movement and, despite being added later, fit the backing track like a glove. ‘The further one travels the less one knows’ is something of a Harrison mantra in this period, pre-cursing many of the lyrics for solo LPs ‘All Things Must Pass’ and especially ‘Living In the Material World’. No other Beatles appear on the track, barring the final line which is sung by George in harmony with John and Paul and was most likely taped during sessions for the A-side. Much as I enjoy the catchy groove of the A-side, this B-side (which is catchy and deep) is vastly superior in every way.

1) Rain (B-side of ‘Paperback Writer’ 1966; available on ‘Past Masters Volume Two). The prototype sound for much that’s aboput to arrive on ‘Revolver’ and ‘Sgt Pepers’, this song about how different people perciev their surriundings differently to one another would have been a fine song in its own right – but it’s as a recording that it becomes the 100% classic that fans know and love. The whole backing track was recorded at a very very fast tempo and then slowed down to give it that shuddering thunder-in-the-air heavy feeling. The Beatles weren’t playing all-at-the-same-time that often by the 1966 period, but they turn in one of their greatest group performances for this track – Ringo, especially, gives the performance of his live, with some amazing drum rolls that are even more staggering when you consider how slowed down the tape must have been (why oh why didn’t Anthology issue this track at the proper speed? What a waste of six CDs!) The vocal effects are magic too – Lennon finally finds the proper medium for the ‘tired old man’ voice he’s been trying to get on tape since ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ (the answer, play the tape back through a revolving speaker housed in a leslie organ, giving it that muffled and resonance free sound that will dominate the Beatles’ sound for the next two years) and the reverse-tape ending ‘nnnaaaiirrrrrrrrrr’ is still extraordinary now, never mind back in the Summer of 1966. It’s much more than just a gimmick here too – hearing Lennon singing something that sounds familiar but is just out of our comprehension beautifully fits this song about how for some people the rain of life can be so much better for us than the sun because of what it tells us about ourselves. A masterpiece then now and always.

Well, that’s it for another week my fellow musical mates. Join us next week (if the computer works!) for more Alan’s Album Archiving! Bye till then!             

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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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)

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165) The AAA Review Of The Year 2012

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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

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227) Top ten AAA drummers

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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

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259) #Coronadocstock