Monday, 17 January 2011
News, Views and Music Issue 87 (Intro)
Hello and welcome to another issue of news, views, luried hues, igloos, paying dues, talking zoos, blue suede shoes, boys named sues and music. None of you have sent in anything relating to my competition yet so all I’ll say is have a read of last issue (no 86) and prove to me that someone out there is reading these things! What a week it’s been, dear readers: David Cameron has actually come out and told us to be nicer to bankers because the recession isn’t all their fault, honest (too right - the politicians share the blame as well) and added that the VAT rise is likely to be permanent. Everybody else in the media seems to be lapping that up but we’ll just point out one small problem – VAT won’t go down at all during our forthcoming ‘boom’ years and then after that in the next recession (which is inevitable under the capitalist system as it’s being run today) it’s likely to be raised permanently to 25%. And then 30%. And then 35%. And so on. By my calculations within another two centuries we will end up paying double the amount of tax than we do on a product itself – thank goodness that ‘News, Views and Music’ is free, eh? Other alarming news for the start of 2011 is that music sales around the world have fallen sharply for the 5th year in a row. Hmm, well, that makes sense actually – modern music is almost uniformly painful rubbish after all, so let’s hope somebody sensible does something soon and starts releasing more albums by AAA members. And then it might be a happy new years after all.
For those of you who care about these things (well, alright then, I’m writing this as a note to myself) the biggest clicks to our site in terms of numbers have been for ‘Beatles albums’ (28), ‘Rolling Stones albums’ (16) and ‘Pink Floyd albums’ (4). The greatest number of clicks percentage wise is overwhelmingly won by Yoko Ono albums (1.96%), followed by Small Faces albums (0.94%) and ‘Rolling Stones Reviews’ (0.59%). We’re also approaching the 4000 hits mark – an incredible axchievement for a site this young and with such a measly budget! So thanks to everyone for their support – just please keep those suggestions and comments coming so I know you’re not just tuning into this site to laugh at my graphics. (I do have it on authority, though, that we’re in the top 50% of websites in terms of looks – just, anyway, at 49%!) We’ve also made a grand total during the past nine weeks of, umm, £6.98! Perhaps we ought to become agents instead as our John Lennon and George Harrison sims are now both on 4.5 stars – just have a star to go until it’s Beatlemania all over again! The Spice Girls, I’m afraid to say, seem to have died after one band fight too many! I think we’d better move swiftly on...
♫ Beatles News: ...To our ‘news’ section, which is looking a bit depleted this week. Lizzie reminded me the other day that I didn’t mention the fact that Ringo’s childhood home in Liverpool has just been saved from demolition yet again by a local councillor. I think this is the third time Ringo’s house in Arnold Grove has been spared now and the plan is still, apparently, to raise enough revenue to move the site somewhere else and then treat it as a listed building, so send in your donations now if you want to go round it some time in the future. Even Ringo has been pretty damning about the project, though, saying that he has no real feelings about it and doesn’t particularly want to see his house spared! It would certainly be ironic if the same council who okayed the demolition of the Cavern Club 40 years earlier steps in to save a house even Beatles fans aren’t that bothered about!
♫ Rolling Stones News: I still haven’t finished Keith Richards’ autobiography ‘Life’ (it’s a big book!), but seeing as the new column is a bit low this week I just thought I’d add a bit to my thoughts from last issue. I still haven’t changed my mind much – Keith still doesn’t come over that nicely, although his writing style and his use of other people’s thoughts and explanations throughout the book is excellent. One thing I didn’t mention last week were the great photographs sprinkled throughout the book – most of these are unseen and Keith’s clearly had an archivist looking through his collection (perhaps he got the band’s own archivist Bill Wyman to go through them for him, although given the many sly put-downs about the bassist I doubt it somehow!) There are two generous sections of colour photographs as well as some fascinating black-and-white shots at the beginning of each section – the most moving of which is Keith, Brian and Anita sitting by a hotel pool the day before Keith runs off with his future wife from under Brian’s nose (although Keith’s comments that he was ‘rescuing’ rather than ‘stealing’ Anita from an abusive Brian alas ring rather true). Keith’s ability to sketch a situation or person in just a few lines is also impressive, even when it’s giving a very different spin on factors and figures Stones fans feel they know quite well (Andrew Loog Oldham and Allen Klein are spot on, while the story of what really did happen during the bust at Keith’s ‘Redlands’ house and the eventual court case are the most authorative telling yet, despite the 40 years of anecdotes from other biographers down the years and Bill’s own version in his book ‘Stone Alone’).
Alas the major part where this book falls down is, strangely, on the music – far from being a fly-on-the-wall when Keith and Mick are composing, performing or recording their greatest songs, Keith barely mentions his own songs, except to tell us how much they mean to him or how much hard work he put into making them happen. Albums like ‘Between The Buttons’ ‘Satanic Majesties’ and especially the 1980s-00s period albums are dismissed in less than a paragraph, as if Keith has forgotten what albums exactly they are. I’d be willing to think that Keith can’t remember – except that his telling of so many obscure events from the past is so detailed and exact that I can’t believe he genuinely doesn’t recognise one song from another. Keith also spends most of the book talking about drugs – when he was hooked, when he wasn’t, when he could have lived without them and when the drugs had finally taken him over. While drugs play a larger part in Keith’s life than perhaps any other AAA member and they certainly should be in the book, the sheer quantity of references to them – compared to the lack of details about the music – seems to me as if the guitarist’s priorities were badly misplaced, then and now. Still, this is by no means a bad book and will still tell you lots about the Stone. Like ‘Stone Alone’, ‘Life’ is a witty, readable, honest and likeable book - it’s just not really an informative one and even now that three of the band members have told the story there’s still a feeling that the ultimate Rolling Stones book has yet to be written.
♫ ANNIVERSARIES: Happy birthday to AAA members celebrating a year of being older and wiser this week (January 12-18th): Mick Taylor (guitarist with the Rolling Stones 1968-74) who turns 63 on January 17th. Anniversaries of events include: The Beatles release their first #1 (depending which record chart you use) ‘Please Please Me’ – the first #1 by any member of this entire site! (January 12th 1963); A huge change in Jefferson Starship is announced, with singers Marty Balin and Grace Slick and drummer Johnny Barbata making way for new singer Mickey Thomas and drummer Aynsley Dunbar (January 12th 1979); The Beach Boys and Starship (an even later version of Jefferson Airplane/Starship) headline at the second year of benefit concerts for Kampuchea (January 13th 1980); The Who release their debut single (under that name, anyway) ‘I Can’t Explain’ (January 15th 1965); The Rolling Stones are censored during their latest appearance on the Ed Sullivan show, forced to sing ‘Let’s Spend Some Time Together’ instead of ‘Night Together’ (January 15th 1967); The Cavern Club opens for the first time – but with Jazz not Rock musicians taking part (January 16th 1957); Paul McCartney is jailed for seven years for drugs possession after marijuana is found in his suitcase during a planned Wings tour in Japan – the first time a Beatle has ever been booked to play in the country (in the end Macca serves just seven days and Wings break up) (January 16th 1980); George Harrison breaks the record gap between American #1s after ‘Got My Mind Set On You’ tops the charts 24 years after ‘My Sweet Lord’ (January 16th 1988 – The Hollies break the UK record later the same year after a re-issue of ‘He Ain’t Heavy’ hits the top 23 years after ‘I’m Alive’); Paul Beaver – the moog synthesiser expert who becomes the first to play the instrument on record – The Monkees’ ‘Star Collector’ – dies (January 16th 1975); JohnandYoko open their ‘Bag One’ lithograph collection in the London Art Gallery (January 17th 1970); Dire Straits finally score a second successful single three years after ‘Sultans Of Swing’ when ‘Romeo and Juliet’ hits the chart (January 17th 1981) and finally, Pink Floyd officially wrap up sessions on their new record ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ (January 18th 1973).