Friday 2 October 2009

News, Views and Music Issue 45 (Intro)

October 2:

Welcome back my fellow musically menaced menagerie. Many apologies for the delay getting this issue to you – yes, as some of you may have guessed, I have indeed been spending a lot of my time enjoying the Beatles re-issues and getting to know them well enough for a feature inside today’s issue. But I have also been away and accumulated enough viruses for both myself and my laptop to put us both out of commission for the last fortnight! Rest assured, things should be back to normal now (though we’ve said that on here too many times for comfort!) Keep sending in your emails and requests and we’ll do our best to cover as wide a range of AAA music as possible in the foreseeable future. Our other good news: we now have scored 150 hits on our new-look website to go with the 350 we recorded on the old one (till the stat counter stopped working) and so we’re looking at about 900 hits on average now. And that’s without our site appearing in Yahoo or Google yet – fantastic! In the meantime, please keep reading – and next stop, it’s the news...


Beatles News: It seems a long time ago already but the Beatles Mono and Stereo box sets were duly dispatched on September 9th and there were cries of ‘Please Mr Postman look in your bag and see if there’s a parcel for me’ as demand for the sets were so high the amount of stock sent to individual shops had to be restricted and the backlog for online shopping was quite high too (ours arrived nice and early, but then again we’d had it on order since the beginning of June!) Amazingly every single Beatles album charted somewhere in the top 100 that week (Peppers highest, Yellow Submarine lowest – no surprises there) and it was, temporaily, just like the 1960s all over again (though, sadly 1967 thanks to the anachronism of Vera Lynn making #1 rivalling the unexpected and seemingly never-ending #1 of Englebert Humperdinck). There’s more (much, much more) on the re-issues below (of course!) in our ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ review and we can’t wait to get our hands on the Beatles Rockband game that’s out too. (Thanks, Apple, all my money’s gone now!)

Meanwhile, two other Beatle bits of news came to light while we’ve been away. Firstly Beatle fans may well have known about Paul McCartney’s pride on coming first for an essay writing prize at the age of 11 (it was a piece written to mark the coronation of Queen Elizabeth and may explain just why the |Beatles got those MBEs so quickly!) Macca often used to jokingly give it as an answer to the oft-asked question ‘what is your biggest achievement?’ and is meant to still have his prize on his shelf somewhere (it was a book about the Kinks and Queens of England – and you thought your school prizes were terrible!) Well, a copy of that essay – long thought to be lost under 40 years of administration and homework – has turned up safe and a Liverpool library! It should be on show later in the year, possibly even this week although the news seems to have gone cold around this story recently.

On a sadder note Lucy O’Donnell has died at the unexpectedly early age of 46. Her name might not mean much to casual fans but her classmate at primary school was John Lennon’s son Julian and it was the five-year-old’s drawing of her (in a sky with some diamonds) that inspired one of Lennon’s better known songs.

CSN News: Stephen Stills has been unexpectedly busy this week with a new live CD and a new archive release both hitting the shops this month (albeit briefly, given that Amazon ran out of stock for the latter on the second day of release and still haven’t added it to the schedules again yet!) The latter, ‘Pieces’, is the long-awaited Manassas set but, instead of re-issuing the two existing Manassas CDs with bonus tracks as earlier presumed, the band have elected to release just the out-takes on a single CD budget-priced set. Most of the out-takes date from the time of second album ‘Down The Road’ and include many of the band-written songs squeezed off to make way for more Stills-written numbers (you may remember us discussing how it was that the band didn’t make it another double album after the strong sales of the first album). There are a generous 25 tracks in all, albeit about half are minute or 90-second long extracts or short takes rather than full performances and include such interesting titles as a third variant on ‘My Love Is A Gentle Thing’ and Stills’ own take at his highly revealing autobiographical song ‘The Witching Hour’ (which fellow Manassas member Chris Hillman covered for his ‘Slippin’ Away’ album of 1976).  The live CD is Stills at London’s Shepherd’s Bush and is a similarly eclectic release to 1976’s ‘Stills Live’ LP, containing rare live performances of songs like ‘Bluebird’, ‘Special Care’ and ‘Singin’ call’ rather than the more expected CSN/Y hits. All copies we’ve seen include a DVD of the full concert also – although whether this is a limited edition, like most bonus DVDs seem to be these days, is not yet known. Both sets are available now (although it might take you a while to find ‘Pieces’, as we say).

Yoko Ono News: Yoko’s new album ‘Between My Head And The Sky’ is out now and getting the best reviews of any Yoko album I’ve ever seen (could the world have caught up at last?!) Son Sean is said to be the driving force behind the album, just as he was with Yoko’s last ‘proper’ album ‘Rising’.        

Small Faces News: At last a DVD spanning the Small Faces’ TV career is out and includes many classic gigs such as the band’s debut at London’s Marquee Club and German show ‘Beatlcub’ (which is a true classic!) in 1966, a rehearsal for IBC Television Studios in 1967 and the Stanley Unwin-narrated ‘|Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake’ special on 1968’s gloriously named show ‘Colour Me Pop’. The set, titled ‘All Or Nothing 1965-68’, should be out soon and also acts as a history of the band by including 1980s interview clips with founding members Ronnie Lane and Steve Mariott.

The Who News: We asked recently what had happened to the ‘Orrible ‘Oo and after a few months delay we have the answer. Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend are currently working on a new album, only the second since the band split in 1983, and surprise, suprirse, it’s a concept album. More news if and when we hear it!

Neil Young News: Well, I’ve finally got to hear Neil Young’s mammoth ‘Archives’ box set and the verdict is...mixed. If you already own the  albums that cover the 1965-72 period (and as that includes ‘Deja Vu’, ‘Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere’ ‘After The Goldrush’ and ‘Harvest’ I presume that most of you reading this already will) then you don’t really need to fork out200-odd pounds for the privilege of hearing around 25 unissued tracks. But those that have been released are typically fascinating (albeit the early section borrows heavily from the Buffalo Springfield box set – if Neil had released his pet project when he first mentioned it circa the mid-80s it would have been far more exciting all round ). Most interesting tracks include the Squires’ Shadows-heavy single ‘Aurora/The Sultan’ (Neil’s first ever record release from – gulp – 1963! Albeit he plays guitar rather than sings), a glorious alternate take of ‘Birds’ from the ‘Neil Young’ 1969 sessions that’s even better than the finished take from ‘Goldrush’, an energetic ‘Dance Dance Dance’ that turned into several mini-Young classics over the years but sounds at its best here and a gorgeous ‘Bad Fog Of Loneliness’ from 1971 that eclipses almost everything else on the set. Having said that, though, the two new Buffalo Springfield tunes are terribly disappointing studio doodles, the non-Squires early tracks sound very samey and undistinguished and a countrified early version of the classic ‘Wonderin’ is one of the biggest let-downs of the whole set (I’d been looking forward to hearing that ever since I realised it meant I wouldn’t have to keep my copy of ‘Everybody’s Rokcin’ for that song any longer). A typically Neil Young like mixed-bag then – get it if you see it cheap, otherwise save your cash for the 1972-79 box set (which should have oodles more rarities alongside some harder-to-find albums, albeit at this rate it will be out in 2034!)


♫ A mammoth three-week long anniversary column for you this week. First up, September 19-25th: Happy birthdays go to Beatles manager Brian Epstein who would have been 75 on September 19th and Linda McCartney who would have been 68 on September 24th. Events that week included short-flighted Byrd Gram Parsons dying in the Joshua Desert in mysterious circumstances at the age of just 27(September 19th 1973), Simon and Garfunkel re-uniting on stage for the first time at New York’s Central Park (September 19th 1981), Paul McCartney is arrested for drug possession for the second time in his career after a passing sniffer dog uncovers cannabis plants in his Mull Of Kintyre greenhouse (September 20th 1972), the Rolling Stones score their last non-compilation number one with AAA review no 58 ‘Goats Head Soup’ (September 21st 1973), the Stones also become one of the first rock and roll groups ever to play at the Albert Hall (September 22nd 1966), John Lennon signs an ill-fated contract with new label Geffen Records just three months before his death (September 22nd 1980 – his ‘replacement’ Neil Young has a horrid time trying to live up to being Geffen’s ‘big star name’ and ends up being sued by his former manager David Geffen), Paul McCartney is dead – or so a writer for the Illinois University declares for the first time on September 23rd 1969 (the rumours continue to this day - you can see a three-hour documentary about it on Youtube!), 10cc chart for the first time (under that name, anyway) with the release of debut single ‘Donna’ (September 23rd 1972), ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother’ finally makes number one 29 years after its original release, giving The Hollies the then-record of biggest gap between number one UK records (September 24th 1988; their only other #1 is ‘I’m Alive’ in 1965) and finally, Wings get the European leg of their world tour off to a good start by playing a forgotten charity gig for the restoration of water-damaged art treasures in Venice, raising $50,000 along the way (September 25th 1976).  

Next, September 26-October 2nd: Happy Birthdays to Craig Chaquico (guitarist with Jefferson Starship/Starship 1973-88) who turns 55 on September 26th, Dewey Martin (drummer with the Buffalo Springfield 1965-68) who would have been 67 on September 30th  had he not died earlier in the year and Phil Oakey (lead singer with The Human League 1978-present) who turns 54 on October 2nd. Anniversaries of events include: 40 years since the last Beatles LP ‘Abbey Road’ (September 26th 1969), The Hollies release their groundbreaking single ‘King Midas In Reverse’ (September 27th 1967), A and M sue George Harrison for being late with delivery of his last album for the label (George is ill with hepatitis, delaying delivery of ‘33 and 1/3rd’ till later in the year), the Rolling Stones begin their first ‘proper’ tour – supporting Bo Diddley and the Everly Brothers across the UK (September 29th 1963), CSN go gold in America with their first self-titled album less than three months after its release in July (September 30th 1969), In contrast, it takes the Grateful Dead 22 years to earn their first platinum disc (for ‘In The Dark’, the same day in 1987) and finally, 63 Rolling Stones are arrested after failing to get in to see their band at a concert in Milan. 2000 fans are thought to have taken part in the riot after finding out the venue had been sold out by an overwhelming number (October 2nd 1970).

For October 3rd-8th: Happy Birthdays also to Kevin Godley (drummer with 10cc 1972-75) who turns 64 on October 7th. Anniversaries of events include: Brian Epstein co-writes what is probably the first ever book about the Beatles, his autobiography ‘A Cellarful Of Noise’ on October 4th 1964, Janis Joplin dies of a drugs overdose at the age of 27 (October 4th 1970), the Beatles release their first ever single, ‘Love Me Do’, 47 years ago this week (October 5th 1962), Art Garfunkel release his first post-Simon and Garfunkel record (‘All I Know’) a few months after his ex-colleague releases his first (‘Mother and Child Reunion’) on October 6th 1973, Ringo scores his only solo #1 with the George Harrison co-write ‘Photograph’ (October 6th 1973) and finally John Lennon wins his long-running fight against being deported from America on the grounds of his drugs convictions (October 7th 1975).      

And finally, for October 9-15th: It’s a busy week for AAA members with birthdays for John Lennon who would have been 69 on October 9th, John Entwistle (bassist with The Who 1965-83) who would have been 65 on the same day, Paul Simon who turns 68 on October 13th and Justin Hayward (guitarist with the Moody Blues 1967-present) who turns 63 on October 14th . Many happy returns of the day to all of the above. Anniversaries of events include: October 9th was an important day for John Lennon – on his 26th birthday he meets future wife Yoko Ono for the very first time at an exhibition of her work at Indica Art Gallery (1966), on his 35th birthday his son Sean Lennon is born (1975) and on his 40th birthday John’s ‘comeback’ single ‘(Just Like) Starting Over’ is released (1980). Meanwhile, on October 10th, the Beatles receive their first ever gold disc (for She Loves You in 1963), The Who begin their (first) ‘farewell’ tour at New York’s Shea Stadium and feature The Clash as their opening act (October 12th 1982), The Who release iconic single ‘I Can See For Miles’ (October 13th 1967), Janis Joplin’s ashes are scattered into the sea in California (October 13th 1970), Grace Slick makes her stage debut with the Jefferson Airplane, leaving her former band ‘The Great Society’ in the process (October 14th 1966) and finally Pink Floyd play their first ‘major’ gig at a launch show for Underground Newspaper the International Times (October 15th 1966).