Monday 27 December 2010

News, Views and Music Issue 85 (Intro)

In This issue...Crimble Maybe? The Beatle’s Christmas Fanclub discs are analysed, there’s yet another coalition diatribe and our top five is suitably festivised
December 27:

Hello and welcome to the last issue of your favourite Monkeynuts newsletter for 2010. What a year it’s been, dear readers – 12 months ago all of John Lennon’s CDs risked going off catalogue, the Spice Girls looked set for a reunion which thankfully came to naught and Nick Clegg and David Cameron were still vaguely popular! How times change. In other news, I’m very proud of my new website widget (found on our forum page) which allows you to hear a 30-second burst of each of our ‘gold song award’ tracks (as mentioned a couple of newsletters ago). We’re hoping to add a lot more of these in the new year, linking to each week’s review and top five so look out for those sometime soon! And we end the year with our biggest rise in website hits to date: a massive 72 people visited the site yesterday alone and we are now hovering around the 3400 mark! Yes we’ve said it before, we’ll probably say it again several times in 2011, but things are really taking off here at the AAA!


Beatles News: Well, it wasnt quite the Beatles bonanza we expected a few weeks ago but two Beatles singles did indeed make it into the top 40 last week (depending what chart you use) thanks to the recent deal allowing the fab fours songs to be downloaded legally for the first time. Depending which chart you believe more, Let It Be got to #38 and Hey Jude #40, or Let It Be, only, got to #40.

In other words, Paul McCartney has played a special one-off Christmas show to his smallest audience for a decade or so (300-500 people, depending which report you read!) The Club 100 is due to close for good sometime soon but Macca put in a special plea during his set to save it, because in his words there arent many intimate venues like this one left.

Pink Floyd News: You may have read that Charlie Gilmour, David’s adopted son, got into a bit of trouble for taking part in the student riots and hanging from a first world war memorial. Our old friends The Daily Mail have got themselves into a bit of a hoo-hah about all this, saying that someone as supposedly ‘rich’ and ‘privileged’ should know better. So let’s put this in context shall we?: Pink Floyd made their names fighting inconceivably stupid injustices such as, well, expecting innocent students to fork out a record amount for cut services, as passed last week by the Mail’s beloved coalition government (and no, spell check, I don’t want to give Government a capital ‘G’ in this case – this minor cabinet doesn’t deserve one). Add in the fact that the first world war was fought to protect our citizens from corrupt governments making dodgy alliances with one another (though to be fair he’d have more of a point hanging from a second world war memorial), the fact that no damage was done and suddenly Gilmour junior’s actions don’t look that bad do they? Whereas the coalition government’s, on the other hand, look obscene...


News, Views and Music Issue 85 (Top Five): Songs About Snow

As most of our UK readers will have noticed, our old friend the snow is now back again (deep and crisp and crispy as John Lennon puts it on the first Christmas flexi-disc) and most of the country has lurched to a halt (hence, probably, the fact that we got a record number of hits this week!) making it all the more likely that it will be another white Christmas this year. One of the many good things about running this website is that we arent tied to the weather and can still, just about write (although next year getting a longer lead for the laptop so that I can be vaguely in the same area as the gas fire is a top priority!) So we thought wed celebrate the snowfall this week and give readers a rather apt top five that they can sing whilst clearing the snow from their doors and cars....

5) The Snows (by Pentangle, a track from their 1972 album Solomons Seal):The first of two Pentangle recordings on this top five, this is a fittingly wintry song from one of the best wintry-feeling bands of them all. Goodness only knows why John Renbourns sitar part fits so well (it is, after all, an Eastern instrument where the sun shines most of the year round), but it does, adding to the air of mystery and melancholy of this Bert Jansch song. Best of all, Danny Coxs chaotic drumming in stark contrast to the quiet timbre of the other instruments sounds like the calm-on-the-surface, struggling-below-it narrator is always falling over his own feet in the snow. The swallows may fly away for the winter, but the narrators love for his partner will remain forever even after theyve rowed and parted, with the girls heart as hard to melt as the snow on a winters day.

4) Listen The Snow Is Falling (by Yoko Ono, the B-side of John Lennons 1971 single Happy Xmas (War Is Over)): Never has the sound of crunching snow been more effectively realised on record than on this sweet little B-side, the perfect complement to the more famous A-side as both records share a childish delight and optimism in the world at large Yoko in the present, John in the new year. Yoko uses an extraordinary array of backing instruments on this song, from tin whistles to mellotron to a triangle and Klaus Voormanns bleating bass. In Yokos vision snow is falling over Christmas the whole world over, giving the world a re-birth of white to begin all over again that is strangely moving (this was, after all, JohnandYokos year of white as a symbol of peace, what with Lennons Imagine piano and all, although Johns Christmas single came out too late for the festive market that year and only became a hit in 1972).

3) Fox In The Snow (by Belle and Sebastian, a track from their 1996 album If Youre Feeling Sinister):We covered this song very recently on news and views 82 so apologies if writing about this very evocative and atmospheric track was so convincing it brought about the real thing! One of Stuart Murdochs most popular songs with fans, this oh so sad and mournful track finds first a fox and then a human athlete both out, cold, in the snow, wondering what on earth they are doing but determined enough to keep going all the same. Never have a string arrangement been more effectively used to invoke sympathy and Murdoch is on top vocal form, his shy and weary lead a delight.

2) Cold Rain and Snow (covered by the Grateful Dead on their first album Grateful Dead, 1966 and by Pentangle on their 1971 album Reflections): One of the better songs of the pre-war era done in two very different ways by two very different groups. Like all tracks on the first Dead album, theirs is a speedy and rather hyper version of this song about a lover being kicked out in the cold rain and snow. One of Jerry Garcias earliest vocals is a chuckling masterpiece, finding the funny side in the affairs and turning in a dazzling guitar solo that sounds like the narrator banging his heart against his lovers door to try and get back inside to her warmth. Good as this studio version is, however, its the live version from the Monterey Pop Festival the following year which fans really need to seek out to hear their arrangement at its best. Pentangle are far more serious with their version, as befits a group concerned with picking out obscure songs from our heritage and delivering them as close to the spirit of the original as possible and its one of Jacqui McShees best vocal showpieces, with this slower version channelling all of the misery of the hapless narrator. Interesting, too, that giving this song to Jacqui to sing changes things around so that its the girl not the boy whose out in the cold, although her vocal is surrounded by one of the better examples of Pentangle harmonies.That sitar is back in play again too again, strangely fitting despite the very English Winter-type backing, although this time its Danny Thompsons bubbling bass thats the star of this recording.

1) Footprints (by Paul McCartney, a track from his 1986 album Press To Play): Im still chuntering over the fact that I couldnt find this, my McCartney solo gold song choice award, to download from Amazon and add to my mp3 widget for you (Im shocked that whilst even the likes of my Searchers and Pentangle gold song choices are there the latter on three different albums yet I cant find a song by an ex-Beatle! Similarly, I had a hard time tracking down my favourite Hollies song) But again on this website, why oh why is the glorious Press To Play album overlooked in Maccas canon? (See review no 88 for why every Beatles fan ought to own this LP) Especially as it means this most glorious opf tracks goes unrecognised. For those who havent read my album review, Footprints is a sort-of follow up to Eleanor Rigby the only sequel to that song McCartney has written so far, although hes done lots of re-writes of Blackbird recently which sees an elderly widow peering from his window and vainly looking to see if theres any sign of his loved one walking in the snow coming back to him. The song, like many on the album, is a co-write with 10ccs Eric Stewart, although theres less goonish 10cc humour going on in this track than on others from the same album and its more likely to make you cry than laugh. For once, Pauls love of 1980s production splendour is spot on, wrapping this simple song up with an ear-catching rhythm (played by Paul and Eric on duelling acoustic guitars), a Spanish guitar part, an intriguing synthesiser part that really does wound wintery and cold and one of the subtlest of all of McCartneys string arrangements.

And so ends this newsletter and 2010. Thanks for being with us for all the highs and lows of the past year and well see you next time for some more musical rocking in 2011!

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