Friday, 28 May 2010

News, Views and Music Issue 62 (Intro)

♫ Hello. This is the Alan Archives Computer. I’m tired of having ham-fisted amateurs poking at my keys so this week - in celebration of the top five focussing on all musical things that go bump in the night – I thought I’d talk to you directly instead. Well, what a week it’s been readers – there I was hoping for a rest when suddenly – whoosh – another programme to do with the AAA appears on the schedules. It’s enough to give me battery ache, especially with all the Youtubing and Facebooking I’ve been doing the rest of the week (it really says something when the Alan’s Album Archive Avatar has a better life than the person does). So without further ado here’s all the work that I’ve been doing this week, let’s hope you lap(top) it up like we did.


♫ Beatles News: There are two John Lennon projects in the works beside the Liam Gallagher-based film we mentioned last month. The first is a radio play scheduled for Monday, May 24th about Lennon’s life on radio 4 – though how they’ll fit 40 years into 45 minutes is anybody’s guess! The second is a TV-film based on the end of the Beatles and the beginning of Lennon’s solo career (focusing on the ‘Primal scream’ Plastic Ono band record) starring Dr Who no 9 Christopher Eccleston, who against all the odds looks scarily like Lennon from the clips we’ve seen (although hearing that strong Mancunian accent playing a scouser might still be a shock!) Despite the rather hideous title, ‘Lennon Naked’ is due to be screened in primetime on BBC 1 sometime in June. More news if and when.

This week also sees the end of an 18-month long series of projects celebrating 40 years since Let It Be, with an understandable interruption in September last year for the 40th anniversary of Abbey Road. The length of time is, of course, because of this album’s troubled history – recorded for the most part in January 1969, the album only saw the light of day in April 1970 when the tie-in film came out and the Beatles just had to do something with the hundreds of hours of material in their vaults (although giving the tapes to Phil Spector to finish probably wasn’t the wisest move – listen into Radio 2 on Tuesday night 10pm for more).

♫ Hollies News: Wowowowowow. For the first time in my lifetime the third best selling act of the sixties (or the second if you live in Germany) finally have a documentary programme all to themselves. For the next two Wednesday nights at 10pm on Radio 2 Brian Matthew attempts to distill 47 years’ worth of music into two hours. Let’s just hope the awful title – ‘They Aren’t Heavy, They’re The Hollies’ – isn’t a precursor of things to come. More news next issue.

♫ Oasis News: One of the weirdest compilation releases we’ve had yet in the lifetime of the AAA is due for release next month. ‘Time Flies 1994-2009’ is a double-CD set containing of every A-side Oasis ever released in their lifetime and is curious for four reasons. 1) We had an Oasis compilation three years ago which already contained a good two-thirds of the songs here (although we said at the time it was odd that the band only had one comp to their name some 13 years into their career). 2) Of these 27 tracks only two are exclusive to the original singles and now this set – 1995’s ‘Whatever’ getting its fair due at last and last year’s download-only ‘Lord Don’t Slow Me Down’ which if I remember rightly from the concert film is a very un-Oasis like mix of crashing heavy metal guitars and blues. The other 25 tracks are all available on album, some more than one. 3) If Big Brother – who took up the rights to the band’s material after original label Creation folded in 1999 – really are so desperate as to milk the Oasis cow after death while the milk’s still fresh, why the hell haven’t they released a follow-up or three to the ‘Masterplan’ comp of B-sides. There’s still a good 30 under-rated songs ripe for renewal out there. And 4) The 2000 single ‘Sunday Morning Call’ is a lovely Noel Gallagher ballad, among the very best this great and still under-rated band ever made and whilst not the band’s best-selling single it did pretty respectively. So why is it a hidden bonus track at the end and not a song in its own right?! Not that the Gallaghers probably care that much at the moment, busy as they are with other projects – Noel’s still talking about a concert tour and a ‘psychedelic acoustic’ album and Liam is busy working on his Beatles film project (see the last two ‘news and views’).  

♫ Rolling Stones: Further to our lengthy discussion of ‘Exile On Main Street’ last issue there’s yet another project related to the CD-re release. ‘Stones In Exile’ is a DVD full of fascinating sounding clips from two shelved projects fans have been dying to see for ages – the infamous ‘Cocksucker Blues’ and the only slightly more professional ‘Ladies and Gentlemen – The Rolling Stones’. And in other exile news – fantastic, the Stones have broken the record for chart performance of an album re-issue, making #1 this week with the CD (all the more remarkable given that the old issue has been available on CD uninterrupted for the past 18 years!) And those programmes we discussed last week: a thumbs up for the radio documentary which featured a very revealing interview with Mick Jagger and a rather drunken one with Keith Richards; a cautious thumbs-up for the TV ‘Exile’ documentary, which tried too hard to be arty with black-and-white shots of the band as they are now but plus points for adding interviews with Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts and lots of priceless footage from the unreleased ‘Cocksucker Blues’ documentary, including a fascinating shot of Mick jagger writing out the phrases for what become ‘Ventilator Blues’ on separate pieces of paper and then trying to join them up into a song; but a massive thumbs-down for the ‘Bigger Bang’ concert, which contained precisely two songs from ‘Exile’ amongst all the usual suspects and an unwanted return of the rape story ‘Midnight Rambler’ to the set-lists and having just spent an hour in the company of the 1972 model there’s no mistaking how old and tired the contemporary Stones now look.


♫ ANNIVERSARIES: Happy bopping birthdays to the following AAA names (May 31st-June 6th): Ronnie Wood (guitarist with the Rolling Stones 1975-date) who turns 63 on June 1st, Charlie Watts (drummer with the Rolling Stones 1962-date) who turns 69 on June 2nd and Michael Clarke (drummer with The Byrds 1965-68) who would have been 66 on June 3rd. Anniversaries of events include: John and Yoko record their first single ‘Give Peace A Chance’ during their second bed-in at a Montreal Hotel (May 31st 1969); The Who break the record for the loudest ever concert at a show at Charlton Athletic’s Football Ground using a 76,000-watt ampage system (May 31st 1976); The Rolling Stones land at JFK airport for the first time, kick-starting a 45-year love affair with the United States (June 1st 1964); The Beatles release ‘Sgt Peppers’ (June 1st 1967); Ronnie Wood plays his first gig with the Rolling Stones on his 28th birthday after jamming with them the previous year (June 1st 1975); The Rolling Stones make their first V appearance in America – being laughed at by host Dean Martin for their long hair, ho ho they got the last laugh by finishing off his career! (June 3rd 1964); Ringo Starr collapses with tonsillitis, forcing the other Beatles to tour with last-minute replacement and ‘week-long Beatle’ Jimmy Nichol (June 3rd 1964); The Searchers release their debut LP ‘Sweets For My Sweet’ (June 4th 1963); Murray Wilson, manager and father to 3/5ths of The Beach Boys dies of a heart attack, accelerating the decline of elder son Brian (June 4th 1973); The Hollies – with Graham Nash back in the ranks for the first time since 1968 – score their first hit in nearly a decade with ‘Stop! In The Name Of Love’ (June 4th 1983); Copyright laws in Russia are relaxed, leading to Western groups getting royalties for the first time – the Rolling Stones are the earliest group to benefit under the new law (June 5th 1976); The Silver Beatles and The Pacemakers, the two leading groups in Liverpool along with The Searchers, share their first gig together at the Grosvenor Ballroom (June 6th 1960); The Beatles have their first session at Abbey Road Studios – band, manager and critics still disagree other whether this second meeting between the fab four and George Martin is a recording date or an audition (June 6th 1962) and finally, John and Yoko team up with Frank Zappa for a gig at the Fillmore East, later released by both partnerships under separate names (June 6th 1971).

And happy hopping birthdays to these old friends (June 7th-13th): Clarence White (guitarist with The Byrds 1969-72) who would have been 66 on June 7th and Billy Kreutzmann (drummer with The Grateful Dead 1965-95) who turns 64 on June 7th. Anniversaries of events include: The Rolling Stones release their debut single ‘C’mon’ and make their first British TV appearance on Thank Your Lucky Stars on the same day (June 7th 1963); John and Yoko appear on David Frost’s TV show (June 7th 1969); Brian Jones officially leaves The Rolling Stones less than a month before his death (June 8th 1969); Oz Magazine release their ‘school kids’ magazine and get charged under obscenity laws – John Lennon is among celebrities who help out with the fine (June 8th 1969); The Beatles’ legend reaches a new level when the band play their first post-Hamburg gig in Liverpool – just weeks before the band looked finished with three of the four members deported from Germany (and amazingly John Lennon is the one who stayed legal!; June 9th 1962); The Rolling Stones visit Chess Records where many of their favourite blues records were made – they add to the long list of hits with ‘It’s All Over Now’ (recorded June 10th 1964); The Beatles release a single and an LP with the same name – A Hard Day’s Night – and both make #1 (June 10th 1964); Janis Joplin plays her first gig with Big Brother and the Holding Company (June 10th 1966); The Rolling Stones, taking a break from recording ‘Beggars Banquet’ at London’s Olympic Studios, return to find the building on fire! (June 11th 1968); The Beatles receive their MBEs from the Queen at her ‘keen pad’ Buckingham Palace (June 12th 1965) and finally, Mick Taylor officially joins the Rolling Stones (June 13th 1969).         

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