Friday 22 May 2009

News, Views and Music Issue 32 (Intro)

May 22:

Well another week has been and gone, without an AAA artist at number one (where is all this bad music coming from?!) – but fear not, dear readers, for your weekly escape-pod from modern life is here again with yet another issue packed full of pithy, practical and pulsating reviews to sink your reading glasses into. First up, it’s Eurovision week and I shall shock all of you by saying that I enjoyed this year. The less said about that awful Lloyd Webber ballad muck the better, but in Iceland and Estonia we had no less than two deserving songs to take the title (typically Eurovision, though, the title ended up going to some fairytale nonsense from Norway that only a grandmother could love). What else to tell you? Oh yes, sorry if you’re getting this issue and the next couple a bit late but the library is still closed and our resident IT expert Mike is unavailable for the next couple of weeks (and, unusually, it’s not because the ewok ninjas have got him). So this will all be belated news by the time you get it but no bother – it was current when I wrote it!

Beatles News: The only real news to tell you this week is that a previously unknown fan letter written by George Harrison has come to light (George has been having a busy month, what with last week’s unheard song and all). Alas the letter, which is due to be auctioned sometime soon, is not as revealing as most of the music press will have you know – the main theme of the letter is ‘we don’t like jelly babies when they’re being thrown at you en masse’ – something that every Beatle fan since 1964 surely knows already (not to mention anybody who has actually had jelly babies thrown at them while trying to sing Beatles songs – what a party that was!)

So, with nothing else to tell you, it’s on to our anniversaries column. Happy Birthday To You if your name is Paul Weller (mod god 1979-present), who turns 51 on May 25th, Ray Ennis (singer with the Swinging Blue Jeans) who turns 67 on May 26th, Pete Sears (bassist/keyboardist  with the Jefferson Starship/Starship 1973-86) who turns 61 on May 27th, Cilla Black (cloakroom singer turned blind date presenter) who was born on the very same day in the very same year and finally Ray Laidlaw (drummer with Lindisfarne 1970-72, 1978-2004 and with Jack The Lad 1973-76) who turns 61 on May 28th. Anniversaries of events include: amazingly, it’s 40 years since the release of the Who’s seminal album ‘Tommy’ on May 23rd 1969; just as amazingly it’s 45 years since the Beach Boys released their seminal single ‘I Get Around’ on May 23rd 1964; the Grateful Dead play their first ever British concert at Newcastle’s Hollywood Music Festival on May 23rd 1970; the Jefferson Starship are barred from playing a free concert at their homebase of Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, on May 23rd 1977 after a ban on electric instruments in the park (the band go on to write their best-seller ‘We Built This City’ about the incident nine years later); The Rolling Stones release ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ – a single generally referred to as their ‘comeback’ (comeback from what exactly?!) on May 24th 1968; Simon and Garfunkel replace themselves at the top of the album charts by releasing ‘Bookends’ straight after their soundtrack for the ‘Graduate’ – the first artists since the Beatles and the Monkees to secure this feat (May 25th 1968) and finally Ronnie Lane surprises everybody (including the group) by quitting The Faces to record with his own band Slim Chance (May 28th 1973).

News, Views and Music Issue 32 (Top Five): Kinks B-Sides

You can buy 'Maximum Consumption - The Alan's Album Archives Guide To The Music Of The Kinks' by clicking here!

And so to the final stop on our weekly world tour of AAA-ism. Yes, it’s the top five – this week, a handy computer screen-sized guide to the very best B-sides, Kinks-style (and where to find them!)

5) ‘I Need You’ (B-side to ‘Set Me Free’ 1965, available on CD as a bonus track on the album ‘Kinda Kinks’). This song is always forgotten when talking about the ‘classic’ Kinks riffs that run through ‘You Really Got Me’, ‘All Day And All Of The Night’ ‘Til’ The End Of the day’ et al. But as far as I’m concerned, it’s one of the very best, with Dave Davies’ fierce guitar licks right up there with the best of them. These early Kinks songs – in fact almost all of the 1964/65 output of British bands – is centred around addiction and desire (see ‘I Can’t Explain’ and ‘Satisfaction’ for more obvious examples) and this simple riff is perfectly suited to the simple lyrics. Even at his most basic and simple, big brother ray still excels himself in the lyrics department – this isn’t ‘I need you because moons need June’ but ‘I need you more than birds need the sky’. By early 1965 standards this is pioneering stuff! And when dave finally gets to let rip with his guitar solo, after containing his fury for most of the song, it might just be one of the most exhilarating things you’ve ever heard in your life, zipping through more chord changes than most guitarists manage in a whole career.    

4) ‘Where Have All The Good Times Gone?’ (B-side to ‘Til’ The End Of The Day’ 1965; available on CD as part of the album ‘The Kinks Kontroversy’). No wonder Ray Davies’ songs became terribly grumpy in the 80s and 90s – he was even moaning in the 60s when everything was perfect! (Well, so we’re always lead to believe by documentary makers anyway!) ‘…Good Times Gone’ is an extraordinary track for 1965 – most, in fact virtually all songs will still about fun sun surf and teenage girls, so to hear a 21-year-old Ray Davies spouting off about times gone by and how life will never be enjoyable again comes as quite a jolt, even within the Kinks canon which had already come the closest to touching on this sort of thing. Is it just me or is there a hint of autobiography in this song too – ‘daddy didn’t have no toys’ (it’s well known that the Davies family were far from rich), ‘Mommy didn’t need no boys’ (the two Davies brothers came after six – yes, six – elder sisters). Certainly, Ray gets heavily into confessional songwriting by the time of the next LP ‘Face To Face’ in 1966 (see review no 8), so it’s possible this is an early template. Either way, marry this song’s uniqueness with a pulsating chorus and one of the Kinks’ best group performances of the period and you come up with a B-side so well known everyone assumes it must have been an A-side (but wasn’t).

3) ‘Big Black Smoke’ (B-side to ‘Dead End Street’ 1966; available on CD as a bonus track on the ‘Face To face’ album). More classic storytelling mixed with a strong energetic riff and one of Ray’s best sympathetic vocals on this song about a teenage runaway that pre-empts The Beatles’ ‘She’s Leaving Home’ by a year (and Cat Stevens’ Father and Son’ by four years). A middle class girl from the country who to her parents seems to have everything up sticks out of boredom, desire for new things in the big city and love for her boy named Joe, only to find herself penniless, outcast and in misery by the end of it. A typically hard-hitting song from the Kinks in this period (just look at the stern-faced A-side with its spoof of a funeral march) and underlined here by the pioneering use of sound effects (which Ray wanted to use on everything in this period – see review no 8 again for more on this). ‘Big Black Smoke’ is dirty, smoggy and nasty in equal degrees, but it’s as mesmerising and captivating as it’s namesake city is painted to sound too. The icing on the cake is Dave Davies’ portrayal of a town crier on the fade.

2) ‘She’s Got Everything’ (B-side to ‘Days’ 1968; shockingly this track isn’t yet available on CD officially! – surely they could have found space on the 3CD ‘Village Green Preservation Society’ set for goodness sake!). This B-side always gets forgotten, both because it’s a throwback to an earlier Kinks age and because it was on the back of a relatively flop single and failed to be included on the relatively flop album that’s somehow become a landmark in 60s music during the 40 years since release. But ‘Everything’ is one of the happiest and energetic Kinks recordings of them all, with Ray celebrating everything he loves about his girl to the accompaniment of a great blues riff and some wonderful jazzy piano licks from Nicky Hopkins. If the song sounds ridiculously out of place in the midst of the Kinks’ gloomy and nostalgia-ridden material of the period, then that’s because it was actually recorded in Spring 1966 (during ‘Face To Face’) and only exhumed when the band needed a B-side at short notice. Even the band, then, don’t seem to like this one much (perhaps explaining why it’s not readily available on CD) but they should – the way the track slows down at the end for Ray to add some reflective verses about how he can never live if his love goes away and Dave simply swoops into the empty spaces of the record with a sizzling guitar part is Klassik kinks. This track has got everything, in fact.

1) ‘I’m Not Like Everybody Else’ (B-side to ‘Sunny Afternoon’ 1966; available on CD as a bonus track on the ‘Face To Face’ CD). The ultimate outsider anthem, distancing the narrator from every single scene and group in existence, this menacing, bluesy song is another one so well known that everybody assumes it must have been a single (in fact it never even made it onto an album!) Interestingly, Ray gives the song to Dave to sing, despite the fact that he sentiments sum up his feelings about the world just as well ad they do his brother’s, but the younger Kink delivers one of his best ever vocals here, growling rather than using the falsetto he’s better known for. His guitar part is even better, rising and falling with anger and pride as the Kinks burst forth for the killer chorus shouting about their individuality. Ray’s backing vocals are equally spot-on, showing off how different the two brothers are in their approach.

A suitable end to a five-part guide about a band quite unlike anybody else. Tune in next week for some more AAA-watching and, if I can persuade him to send it in, the first in a new part ‘Nelson’s Column’ feature about music past, present and future. See you next time!                    

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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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