Monday, 31 January 2011
News, Views and Music Issue 89 (Intro)
Gosh, issue 89 already and still so much music to cover, still so much to say. Our random-ometer has been going a bit haywire recently, with two top five albums reviewed for you, so we thought we’d go back to basics this week and give you one of the obscurer AAA albums to ponder – an album that should have come out in 1974 but is only available as part of a 1998 box-set (and one that sold fairly badly at that). Meanwhile, we’re up to 4291 hits, seem to have stalled at £7 revenue and have had an interesting week with the Beatle family on our Sims game (George is still a five star celebrity and the ‘boys’ have moved into a luxurious mansion – only for Lennon to fall out with his ‘agency’ and McCartney to suddenly up sticks from his paperclip company after only a week as a director to become – wait for it – a football team mascot (?!)) That’s about all you really need to know – if, indeed, you even needed to know that much – so on with the news...
♫ CSN News: No more news since last week, really, but I’m still struggling to take it in. Metallica? Why?! No record contract? No zillions of sales? No rebirth of the magic sound fans know and love with a master of keeping things real at the helm? What a waste! I despair of being a collector sometimes I really do...For those who haven’t read last week’s issue yet and having got a clue what I’m on about, the two year on-and-off project of a CSN covers album, with Johnny Cash producer Rick Rubin at the helm, is at an end because Rubin is spending too much time with his other acts and can’t dedicate his full attention to CSN. And those acts more important than the greatest band in the universe include...erm, Metallica, who the bearded one is working with as we speak. So that’s put an end to the seven-figure salary CSN were promised in a two album deal, an end to years’ worth of speculation about what covers would have been on the album (The Dead’s ‘Uncle John’s Band’ and The Stones’ ‘Ruby Tuesday’ among them), an end to the trio’s best chance at regaining their lost audience since the early 80s and the end of the universe as we know it. Why?! Why?!? Why?!?!? OK, sorry about that, I’m better now, honest. Oh alright then, one last one. Why?!?!?!?!?!?
♫ Monkees News: Music impressario Don Kirshner, ‘the man with the golden ear’, has died of heart failure at the age of 76. Kirshner, pretty much the last of the tin pan alley music publishers who sought to find the right songs for the right singers, was at one stage of his career so successful that he ‘owned’ three different recoprd companies at once, scoring many hits with a wide range of artists including Bobby Darin and Carol King as well as ‘discovering’ the group Kansas. However, it’s Kirshner’s work with The Monkees that brought him the greatest successes of his long career, with three massive hits in ‘Last Train To Clarksville’ ‘I’m A Believer’ and ‘Little Bit Me, Little Bit You’. Kirshner’s hands-on, I-know-best role with the band also gave him his biggest headaches, however. There are two schools of thought among Monkees collectors about Don’s role in the band. To many fans and much of the band he was a controlling figure who gave the four Monkees no room to breathe and an interfering impresario who considered the TV series to be just a chance to plug some songs rather than the reason deitre of the project. But to others he was the whole reason the project existed in the first place, honing the band’s musical direction into something much more palatable for daytime television, discovering songwriters like Neil Diamond and Jeff Barry along the way and making sure The Monkees recorded only the best material. Certainly, their records never sold as well without Kirshner on board, although to be fair that probably owed more to the shock-horror with which the music press learnt that The Monkees didn’t always play on their own recordings (as if they would, what with recording 32 episodes a year of a TV series as well!) Don was famously sacked by the band and creators Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider after releasing the all-important third single ‘A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You’ after being promising to give the band more input into their records and not even telling the band about its release. A similar tale relates to second album ‘More Of The Monkees’, which the band actually had to buy from a record store in order to hear - and Kirshner’s music choices often owed more to the writers he was ‘friends’ with rather than a reflection of each song’s merits. But it’s probably fair to say that had Kirshner not been there at the start of The Monkees project, it might not have happened at all – the band needed his reputation as a music maker to interest the TV schedulers in the project and, even if he did make his fair share of mistakes, it’s generally agreed that Kirshner’s choice of A-side material was spot-on. After Kirshner was unceremoniously booted off the show he went on to found the animated group The Archies - parts really played by a group of anonymous session musicians who could easily be replaced if they started getting as stroppy as The Monkees had done – and present his own music television show in America, Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert which ran for a year in 1972. His last achievement before his death was to co-launch the company RockRena, dedicated to finding new musical talent among online bands, which reached the net just a few days before Don’s death. He had two sons, five grandchildren and is survived by his wife of 50 years Sheila.
♫ Gilbert O’Sullivan News: Gilbert never used to be that prolific an artists – he only released four albums during the 1970s and three each during the 1980s and 1990s. But the news is that, after only three years away, Gilbert is back with a new record entitled ‘Gilbertville’. The record was partly recorded in Nashville, a first for Gilbert, and the biggest talking point among fans is the surprisingly dark final track ‘Talking Of Murder’, with musing about violence in the modern world and how everyone has the potential to be a killer!
♫ Pink Floyd News: Surprising news this: not only have the band ended their multi-year battle with record label EMI over making songs from their back catalogue available rather than simply as albums, as the band have requested, but they have now re-signed with the struggling label for a full five years! The band’s other biggest non-Beatles artists – like Radiohead and Queen – jumped ship last year, but the Floyd seem to have stuck it out with their old pals at EMI.
♫ Paul Simon News: At last, after five years of waiting, Paul Simon has announced that a new album is due for release. ‘So Beautiful Or So What?’ is due for releaswe in April and looks set to be Paul Simon’s biggest debate about life, death and the universe since ‘Parsley, Sage Rosemary and Thyme’ right back in 1966! One sad thing about the album, though, is that it ends a good few years’ worth of speculation about a sixth Simon and Garfunkel album, following the duo’s successful tours a few years back - although the pair seem to have gone their separate ways again. More news if and when we hear it!
ANNIVERSARIES: Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday dear AAA stars born between January 26th-February 1st, happy birthday to you!: Nick Mason (drummer with Pink Floyd 1967-94) turns 66 on January 27th, Marty Balin (singer with Jefferson Airplane/Starship 1965-70 and 1974-78) turns 69 on January 30th and Steve Marriott (guitarist with The Small Faces 1965-68) would have been 64 on January 30th. Anniversaries of events include: Otis Redding charts with his ‘breakthrough’ UK hit ‘Try A Little Tenderness’ (January 26th 1967); John Lennon writes and records ‘Instant Karma’ during a 24 hour period (January 26th 1970); The Who make the first of many appearances during ‘their’ TV show ‘Ready Steady Go!’ (January 28th 1965); The Who are temporarily banned from touring America after a slight fracas involving Keith Moon, several bottles of spirits and a sobbing waitress (January 28th 1968); A tribute concert for Brian Epstein is held at London’s Marquee Club, including a performance by The Who (January 29th 1968); Guitarist Henry McCullough officially joins Wings after leaving Joe Cocker’s Grease Band (January 29th 1972); The Beatles’ last ever performance takes place, on top of the roof of their Apple building (January 30th 1969); The Beatles abandon their intended eighth album project of childhood songs and start recording what will become the title track of ‘Sgt Peppers’ (February 1st 1967) and finally, Beatles music publisher Dick James dies (February 1st 1986).