Friday 21 August 2009

News, Views and Music Issue 41 (Intro)

August 21:

Welcome everybody to our 41st issue – the last ever newsletter of our first year. Expect lots of celebratory moments next week, but in the meantime we celebrate the spectacle that was Woodstock, a few years further back than that. Sadly now that the TV and Radio anniversaries of the event seem to have passed we’re back to having nothing to watch and very few news stories again (‘remember, on the BBC you’re never more than 72 minutes away from a repeat of ‘Coast’)


Beatles News: Two small curios to let you know about this week. The first is that Cynthia Lennon’s planned exhibition of her husband John’s artefacts at Liverpool’s Beatles Museum gets ever nearer and made the news this week thanks to an unknown Lennon poem/lyric discovered in her possession. The untitled piece dates from 1967 – the year when Lennon’s prolific writing was beginning to run dry – and is a rare love song, possibly his earliest for Yoko Ono who he had just met at that stage in his life. The poem will be on display later in the year.

The other news from Liverpool is that a rare picture of a schoolboy-age Paul McCartney has been discovered. The shot, taken of boys from     ***School, features the young Paul reading a comic (magneto and Titanium Man perhaps?!)


♫ Anniversaries (August 21st-27th): They AA its your birthday if your name is Keith Moon (drummer with The Who 1964-78) who would have been 63 on August 23rd; Paul McCartney collaborator Elvis Costello turns 55 on August 25th; Chris Curtis (drummer and singer with The Searchers 1963-66) would have been 68 on August 26th and Dennis Wilson and occasional Beach Boys collaborator Daryl Dragon turns 67 on August 27th. Anniversaries of events include: the American premiere of Beatles film ‘Help!’ (August 22nd 1965); John Lennon marries art student Cynthia Powell at a Liverpool registry office on August 23rd 1962 – Brian Epstein is best man and Paul and George attend but Ringo is such a new member of the group he isn’t even told about the wedding till afterwards; Security guards outside a Manchester TV studio are so worried about the antics of Rolling Stones fans waiting to see their idols that they end up throwing water at them – an event that further increases the band’s notoriety (August 23rd 1965); The first album by Crosby, Stills and Nash makes its rather delayed debut on the British charts 40 years ago this week (August 23rd 1969); Patti Harrison drags her husband George along to a lecture given by the Maharishi in London – an event that will have repercussions on his musical heritage right to the end (August 24th 1967); Mark David Chapman finally receives a life sentence for killing John Lennon some eight months after his death (August 24th 1981); Brian Wilson appears on stage with the Beach Boys for the first time in two years during a show in Hawaii – it’s also his last stage appearance till the mid-70s (August 25th 1967); Guitarist Henry McCullough becomes the first of many members to leave Paul McCartney’s band Wings over it’s seven-year history (August 25th 1973); inspired by the London lecture, George persuades the other Beatles to see the Maharishi in Bangor, North Wales (August 26th 1967); 10cc give their first ever live appearance on August 26th 1973 in the most prestigious of areas – the Isle of Man!; the Beatles meet Elvis at the latter’s Beverly Hills home on August 27th 1965; two years later on the same day Beatles manager Brian Epstein is found dead in his department, just two months after the band’s biggest album success with ‘Sgt Peppers’ and finally, a year later in 1968, the Beatles’ Apple label is officially launched with Mary Hopkins’ ‘Those Were The Days’ and their own ‘Hey Jude’ single securing the label top spot on the charts for the next seven weeks.

News, Views and Music Issue 41 (Top Five): AAA Bands At Woodstock

Woodstock. What a name for us collectors. The moment in time where, more than any bother, we went from being a fringe society of musical monkeynuts collectors to being at the very heart and soul of mainstream life. Three days of peace and music. Three days of proving that there really were this many people who loved feedback-hugging guitars and silly costumes. OK, so I wasn’t actually there – I was minus 13 at the time or I would have gone, no question – but luckily for me and thousands like me somebody had the sense to film it (well, eventually they had the sense – the film part was decided a bit late in the day according to all the documentaries). So, seeing as there were five AAA members who played at woodstock it seemed natural to include them in this week’s top five, the best AAA Woodtsock performances and which of the three DVD packages (Woodstock Director’s Cut, the new 4-disc Collector’s Edition and the old three-part Woodstock Diaries) you can find them on.

1) Crosby, Stills and Nash. You can see ‘Suite:Judy Blue Eyes’ in both versions of the film, hear rare remixes of the studio tracks ‘Long Time Gone’ and ‘Wooden Ships’ while the stage is being built at the beginning of the film and see ‘Blackbird’ on ‘Woodstock Diaries’.  Famously, Neil Young hated Woodstock and everything to do with it and refused to appear in the film so what we get here is a compromise – two songs from CSN acoustic and a hapless announcement that ends in mid-sentence (‘Crosby, Stills, Nash...’). The only way late-comers would know about Neil’s performance is if they heard the soundtrack album – and the storming version of the unreleased ‘Sea Of Madness’ on Volume One doesn’t actually come from Woodstock. So far, so confusing. What is made absolutely clear at the start of the trio’s performance is that this is the band’s second-ever gig – and that’s no exaggeration either. Given that fact, it’s understandable that CSN’s performance is as ragged and raw as they ever were and its a crying shame that only Stills gets an original song recorded for posterity. But ‘Suite:Judy Blues’ is still magic, the trio’s harmonies are so good and the song so epic and unlike anything else played at the festival that it’s easy to see why the newspaper’s that week practically all proclaimed that Woodstock was ‘CSN’s festival’. If only the band would release more material we might be able to understand why even more. Overall rating: 7/10.

2) Grateful Dead. You can see a 35-minute (yes that’s not a mis-print!) version of ‘Turn On Your Lovelight’ and a more compact ‘Mama Tried’ on the 4-disc collector’s edition DVD of Woodstock. (Note – the whole of the Dead’s Woodstock appearance came out as part of their hundred-fold fan re-issue series, but I couldn’t find it while researching!) By their own admission, the Dead hate playing big crowds and felt that this set and their all-but-forgotten one at Monterey were among the worst they ever played. Sadly, given what DVD footage we have, they were right: the Dead merely amble their way through ‘Love Light’ at half speed and aren’t helped by the politically-minded announcer who seems to have decided the Dead are his back-up band, much to Pigpen’s chagrin. ‘Mama Tried’ is much better, up to ‘Skulls and Roses’ standards in fact, but this Merle Haggard cover about a guilt-ridden gangster who wants to do good is a strange choice to sing to a crowd of rebels and it would have been far better to have had a Dead original in the set to savour. Garcia doesn’t get to sing either, which is a pity, although Pigpen and particularly Bob Weir do their best to make up for it. Overall rating: 3/10.

3) Jefferson Airplane. You can see ‘Won’t You Try/Saturday Afternoon’ and ‘Uncle Sam Blues’ on the director’s cut of the film, ‘Somebody To Love’ and ‘White Rabbit’ on ‘Woodtsock Diaries’ and ‘3/5ths Of A Mile In 10 Seconds’ and ‘Volunteers’ on ‘The Collector’s Edition’. We’ve had six songs from the Airplane’s Woodstock appearance released in the past 15 years and they’ve all been gems. The band were in a strange place in 1969, with the band reduced to appearing together on record as little as possible and left with their old 1967 material to prop up their set rather than new songs. But you can’t tell that by their 1969 set – ‘Won’t You Try’ is revelatory, merging from tentative and ragged to soaringly united as Kantner, Slick and Balin forge their own way through the song before meeting at the end. ‘Uncle Sam’s Blues’ is probably the only song played at Woodtsock that was never recorded or released on anything else – it’s not one of Jorma Kaukanen’s best, but its anti-Vietnam parable is a perfect for the love-in crowd and its title line ‘Uncle Sam ain’t no woman but he sure can take your man’ is one of the best of the Jefferson’s career. ‘Somebody To Love’ is nicely updated for the 1969 crowds and has a jazzy opening that goes in hundreds of directions before finding the familiar riff. ‘Rabbit’ ‘3/5s’ and a striding ‘Volunteers’ are closer to the records, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Overall rating: 9/10.    

4) Janis Joplin. You can see the superb ‘Work Me, Lord’ on the director’s cut of the film (strangely it wasn’t in the original, given that it might well be the highlight of the whole bang lot for me) and the evergreen ‘Ball and Chain’ plus ‘Try’ on ‘Woodstock Diaries. (Note – the Woodstock version of ‘Ball and Chain’ plus the otherwise unissued ‘Piece Of MY Heart’ are both available on the CD re-issue of Janis’ ‘I Got Dem Ole Kozmik Blues Again Mama’). Janis played her set with the under-rated Kozmik Blues Band and was mainly plugging her ‘Kozmik Blues’ album from that year – and a shock it must have been at the time, too, for the audience was more used to seeing Janis with Big Brother and the Holding Company. Not everything in Janis’ spirited set quite comes off – with ‘Work Me, Lord’ the highlight by a long margin – but even though the horns sound out of place the vocals were not and Janis seemed to be having fun. Alas she died in between the film being recorded and screened, in early 1970 (so it’s doubly weird that she wasn’t in it until the 1990s director’s cut came out) and its one of the last performances of her we have (although not the last – there are a couple of Dick Cavett Show appearances after this). Overall rating: 7/10, mainly for ‘Work Me, Lord’.

5) The Who. You can see ‘See Me, Feel Me’ and ‘Summertime Blues’ in both versions of the film, plus ‘My Generation’ on ‘Woodstock Diaries’, ‘The Collector’s Edition’ and The Who’s own ‘Maximum R and B’ DVD, plus ‘Sparks’ and the complete unedited ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ on ‘The Collector’s Edition’. The Who were on cracking form in August 1969 and enjoying the new life that their recent ‘Tommy’ had given the band. In fact, so on form that it’s hard to remember that very few Americans in the audience wqould have known who The Who were – they never really broke that big in the USA until their smashing (in both senses of the word) Monterey appearance in 1967 and 1968 had been an awful year for them sales-wise in just about every country (‘Magic Bus’ was their biggest hit – and that only reached #32). This is The Who reclaiming their legacy, with Daltrey fresh from his new hairdo (letting it grow naturally long and curly instead of treating it with hair gel as all good mods were meant to do) and going bare-chested for almost the first time, Townshend and Moon at their over-the-top best and Entwistle keeping the whole thing together and barely blinking at the mania going on around him. The moment everybody talks about is the un-choreographed end to the set where the sun comes up during ‘See Me Feel Me’, the end of ‘Tommy’. It’s pretty stunning in the film, even if the music’s got a bit disjointed by then (the band are much tighter on the other songs in the set), but the musical highlight is ‘Sparks’, the death-defying tightrope walk of skill, which makes you wonder a) where the tapes of the song’s other half – Amazing Journey – is and b) why Warner Brothers waited 40 years to release it. Overall rating: 8/10.

Well, that’s it from us for another week – we’ll see you on August 28th for our 1st birthday issue!

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