Friday, 30 July 2010
♫ Hello again all of you out there in non-AAA land. We so wish you could join us here in our world, full of lemonade lakes, Lucy in the sky with diamonds and one of the most surreal and pictorial albums of all: Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake. Yes that’s right, we’re looking for the other half of the moon this week – and this is your invitation to join us. All you have to do is scroll down the page to join in with this review (and yes, we have officially gone mad this week!) Meanwhile, what the heck’s going on – we’re just chock-a-block with news stories this week after waiting ages for any en masse at all. Could it be the summer sun has woken everyone up? (Well, everyone our end of the planet anyway). Oh and a big thankyou for all you visitors – we’ve now passed the 1600 point! Another milestone falls! At this rate we’ll be competing with Facebook and Google (well, perhaps not just yet...)
♫ Beach Boys News: Brian Wilson and George Gershwin don’t seem the most natural of bedfellows, but the elder Wilson brother often cites the American master as an influence. Whilst his brothers and cousin spent their time referencing Chuck Berry on mid-70s LPs, Brian’s gone the whole hog and recorded a complete CD full of Gershwin songs re-recorded in the Beach Boys/Brian Wilson style, titled ‘Brian Wilson Re-imagines Gershwin’. Most interesting for fans is the news that Brain has been working on two incomplete and unreleased Gershwin songs, donated to the project by the composer’s estate. Although other fans are probably more interested in Brian’s a capella take on ‘Rhapsody In Blue’ and the Beach Boys re-make of ‘I Got Rhythm’ which sounds like it was recorded in 1963.
♫ Beatles News: Whilst we’ve always got our ears out for conspiracy theories here at the AAA (well, you explain how on earth the likes of George Bush, Ronald Reagan and David Cameron got into power), there’s an old one from the 60s we never really got. You see, Paul McCartney is meant to have died in a 1966 car crash and been replaced by a body double named Billy Shears, a conspiracy that was ‘ousted’ by a bored DJ in 1969. Beatles fans know all about the ‘clues’, much as most of us try to avoid the subject, from the ‘Beetle’ on the front cover of Abbey Road which tells us the age Paul would have been...a year later in 1970! (something most fans miss and take at face value – Macca was 27 not 28 at the time of the cover shoot), the black carnation in Paul’s lapel in Magical Mystery Tour (which was either the caterer’s fault – or the Beatles’ for not realising the flower was out of season and thus rather rare during the time of shooting) and Lennon’s cryptic announcement at the end of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ (where Lennon’s seasonal muttering ‘Cranberry Sauce’ does sound a bit like ‘I buried Paul’).
The only convincing detail in any of this is the continuing insistence of the band that the ‘walrus’ was Paul (a word that means death in India, where the Beatles were about to travel in a few months spookily enough) and the ‘mafia’ sign of a death about to occur – the outstretched palm over Paul’s head on the Sgt Peppers cover, although strangely neither clue seems to get a mention. Well anyway, you can now buy a DVD to go with the books and websites on the subject (named ‘Paul Really Is Dead’), which adds the disturbing news that George Harrison revealed the conspiracy to be true on his deathbed (and sent a cassette of the confession to a Hollywood film maker, hence this film). It seems pretty unlikely that George of all people would keep anything quiet that long and the whole scheme is made even more unlikely when it is revealed that – wait for it – John Lennon wrote all the band’s songs post 1966 (as if! Lennon would have taken all the credit for them – and given himself the good songs). The other new revelation – that The Queen was behind the switch because she feared mass suicides from all of Paul’s fans – is even more ludicrous because even in 1966 the Royal Family had no power or sympathy with the young at all. Just thought you’d like to know it’s out, that’s all.
In other news, Paul’s faithful guitarist Rusty Anderson whose been playing in his band for – gulp – nine years now has released his first solo album, the curiously titled ‘Born On Earth’. The album sadly doesn’t feature any of the rest of Macca’s band (including the big man himself) but is nevertheless an interesting release, revealing very similar influences to the last cache of McCartney solos.
Oh and a bit more news about those re-mastered Lennons due for release on John’s 70th birthday in October. Whilst all the albums have new and unreleased material, Lennon’s comeback album ‘Double Fantasy’ is set to get a 2-disc makeover, with oodles of extras from the sessions featuring the songs in stripped back and bare form. Now, I’ve never been a big fan of that album (I see it as Lennon’s worst after ‘Imagine’), but I do really like the outtakes from the sessions as heard on ‘Anthology’ and ‘Acoustic’, so a back-to-basics version of the album can only be a good thing in my eyes. Oh and incidentally the album’s original producer Jack Douglas has been persuaded out of retirement to work on the tapes – spookily doing the post-production in the Sony office which used to be the New York recording plant for Geffen where the album was made (and which was the last room Lennon saw until dying in the street outside his house 20 minutes later).
♫ Belle and Sebastian News: The band seem to have got back together again and are headlining this year’s Latitude festival after several years of silence since 2005’s ‘The Life Pursuit’ and various spin-off solo albums, never a good sign for a healthy group. The band are also playing a short six-date tour of Britain and in true B and S style will be playing some of the smallest venues the United Kingdom has to offer, not the largest! Talking of solo albums, Isobel Campbell – who left the band in 2002 – is due to release ‘Hawk’ in August, the fourth album in her well-received series of duets with singer Mark Lanegan and the pair will be performing two gigs in September, one in London and another in Glasgow.
♫ The Kinks News: In a hilarious riposte to the sun-shiney delights of ‘High School Musical’ and ‘Glee’, Ray Davies has just announced he’s resurrecting his old war horse ‘Schoolboys in Disgrace’ , which is to be turned into a film due out on our screens in 2013. Like many a Ray Davies project, this one will probably fall by the wayside but should the high school monstrosities still be around in three years’ time it would be fantastic to see Ray’s story of love, betrayal, pregnancy and an uncaring school system who doesn’t understand it’s pupils show up what the ‘other’ films don’t tell you about school life. A whole new cast are said to be re-recording the album, replacing The Kinks’ work which was released in 1975. Dave Davies, meanwhile, has just released a fascinating DVD ‘Mystical Journey’ which, like many of Dave’s recent releases, has a paranormal theme. This extended interview with Dave fills us in a bit more about how Dave got interested in the subject (which he talks about briefly in his excellent autobiography ‘Kink’), the ‘visions’ Dave saw during his time with the band and the love-hate psychic relationship with brother Ray. As a bonus for Kinks fans there’s a 15-track CD full of snippets from Dave’s career including a new song and previously unreleased home footage of The Kinks.
♫ Moody Blues News: At long last the Moodies’ record label Threshold are re-issuing Ray Thomas’ two under-rated solo albums ‘From Mighty Oaks’ and ‘Hopes, Wishes and Dreams’ in a limited-edition two CD set. This will be the first time on CD for both albums which, like many a solo Moody effort are patchy but the highlights (‘Adam and I’ and ‘We Need Love’ respectively) are well up to the band’s best efforts. The set is due for release in late August and Ray will be signing copies at the Threshold shop sometime in September (see either the band’s website or Mike Pinder’s very classy website for more).
♫ Pink Floyd News: More on that Floyd reunion we mentioned last week. Dave Gilmour and Roger Waters were performing at a charity fundraiser for Palestinian children in Oxfordshire’s Kiddington Hall on July 10th this year. The two Floydians, both of whom are known for their extensive charity work though not usually together, played a four-song set made up of Floyd favourites Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2), Wish You Were Here and Comfortably Numb (almost the same as their Live 8 set, although interestingly there was nothing from Dark Side Of The Moon) plus a Floyd soundcheck favourite, a cover of The Teddy Bears’ ‘To Know Him Is To Love Him’ which the band have never played before an audience before. The duo, who both played on acoustic guitars for much of the gig, were joined by Gilmour’s sidemen bassist Guy Pratt, Waters’ sidemen guitarist Chester Kamen and keyboardist Jonjo Grisdale, session favourite Andy Newmark on drums and Roger’s son Harry on keyboards. Only 200 privileged people got to see the gig which the two musicians kept a well-kept secret and the reunion bodes well for another Floyd mini reunion sometime in the near future (especially as Roger will be touring with his live show re-creation of ‘The Wall’ sometime soon). In other news, there’s a new and as yet untitled book about Syd Barrett in the works, promising unseen photographs of the young Floyd at London’s UFO Club in 1967 plus many interviews with those close to Barrett and some of Syd’s paintings. More news if and when.
♫ Otis Redding News: Despite the poor spelling and its last-minute status instead of the cancelled ‘At The BBC’ set (see below), BBC6 are repeating the 1990s documentary ‘The Otis Redding Story’ in two parts this Monday and Tuesday night as part of their ‘midnight documentary’ hour. If I remember rightly this was a fine but flawed look at one of the world’s greatest singers, which didn’t have much new to offer (and mostly played the usual suspects) but did have some very illuminating interviews with members of Otis’ backing group Booker T and the MGs.
♫ Rolling Stones News: Bah! Humbug! Grr! Thanks BBC6 for cancelling the vast majority of the ‘At The BBC’ series we discussed last week. At the time of writing the two-part Beatles series is due to go ahead (this Saturday and Sunday) but sadly the Rolling Stones set due to be broadcast on Tuesday has been cancelled and replaced by something called ‘The Otis Reading Story’ (!) Assuming this is just a case of spellchecker-itis and they really mean Otis Redding I’m willing to forgive BBC6 for now (at least they’ve put something decent on) but after all the kind things we said last week they go and pull this stunt on us, huh!
There was some good news for Rolling Stones fans this week though as Tuesday also saw the broadcast of ‘Lies and Truths’ on the ‘Yesterday’ channel (formerly the History Channel – so presumably Today will be Yesterday, Tomorrow When It Comes).
ANNIVERSARIES (July 26-August 1st): Happy birthday to the following hip AAA cats: Mick Jagger (singer with The Rolling Stones 1962-present) turns 67 on July 26th, the much-missed Rick Wright (keyboardist with Pink Floyd 1967-80 and 1987-94) would have been 65 on July 28th and finally the equally-mourned Jerry Garcia (guitarist with the Grateful Dead 1965-95) would have been 68 on August 1st. Anniversaries of events include: The Rolling Stones’ ‘Beggars Banquet’ becomes the first AAA album to be cancelled because of a cover dispute – Decca object to the band’s idea, a toilet wall with the album tracks scrawled on as graffiti (July 26th 1968); George Harrison holds the press conference that heralds the ‘Bangladesh’ benefit concerts (July 27th 1971); meanwhile his sometime colleague John Lennon finally gets his ‘green card’ allowing him to stay in the States after four years of fighting (July 27th 1976); The film Ned Kelly starring Mick Jagger receives its premiere (and weirdly I only bought my copy of it the day before writing this!) (July 28th 1970); the world record for concert attendance – 600,000 – takes place at a little heralded concert at New York’s Watkins Glen arena, starring the Grateful Dead (July 28th 1973); The Beatles’ film ‘Help!’ receives its premiere at the London Pavilion (July 29th 1965); The Beatles close their ‘Apple Boutique’ shop, giving away their stock to delighted customers for free (July 30th 1968); The Rolling Stones play their shortest ever concert (12 minutes) after the stage gets invaded by rioters in Belfast (July 31st 1964); The Beach Boys spend their first week of many on the British charts with ‘Surfin’ USA’ (August 1st 1963) and finally, George Harrison’s first concert for Bangladesh (also starring Ringo and Badfinger) takes place at Madison Square Garden (August 1st 1971).
♫ We mentioned last week that the first ‘proper’ Small Faces DVD had finally been released by production company ‘Reelin’ In The Years’ as part of their ‘British Invasion’ series. Well, given that there seems to be no mention of when the second batch is coming out (the other early releases include non-AAA bands Gerry and the Pacemakers, Dusty Springfield and Herman’s Hermits), we thought we’d do their work for them and look at what other fascinating 60s footage there is for other AAA groups:
1) The Beatles: Alas Apple don’t like giving away their copyrights so don’t expect a Beatles set anytime soon. But if anyone was to get the rights what a cornucopia of great early footgae they’d have access to: the whole of the under-rated (if short) ‘Around The Beatles’ set including performances of all the 1962/63 singles and the curio one-performance-only ‘Shout!’; various Ready Steady Go!s (if someone was very nice to Dave Clark who bought up all the rights to this show...) including the fascinating footage of Paul telling us he sleeps with his eyes open and giving an award to the Peggy Lee-dancing girl who will later become the inspiration for ‘She’s Leaving Home’ (not that either of them knew it at the time), not to mention a fair few TOTPs and promo films (for Ticket To Ride, Paperback Writer, Rain and more), the David Frost TV version of ‘Hey Jude!’ and a cracking lot of newsreels which presumably are out of copyright (and have filled up many padded-out Beatles DVDs down the years), not to mention the odd European TV footage. Alas we’ll probably never get to see the fab four on ‘Juke Box Jury’, but there’s still plenty of room for a decent set here even without replicating the footage used in the ‘Anthology’ series.
2) The Rolling Stones: There’s a similarly varied selection for The Stones. ‘It’s All Over Now’ ‘Get Off My Cloud’ ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together’ and ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ are all regularly seen on TOTP2s, there’s great footage of the band playing a live version of ‘satisfaction’ and miming to Sonny and Cher’s ‘I Got You Babe’ from Ready Steady Go! plus various other newsreel and European performances from around Europe (although strangely the band never seemed to play for the most famous – and most complete – TV programme, Germany’s Beat! Beat! Beat!) which would make for another nice set.
3) The Hollies: There is a Hollies DVD out at present – ‘The Graham Nash Years’, but its an unofficial, poor-quality and repetitive set featuring no less than 4 versions of ‘Look Through Any Window’ in its hour. Goodness knows why because I know of a full 3 hours of footage over and above this set that exists and I bet there’s a lot more I don’t know about. Germany, a country far keener on holding onto their archives than the BBC and ITV, always liked The Hollies and there’s plenty of ‘Beat! Beat! Beat!’ and ‘Beat Club’ performances to draw from, spanning 1963 to Terry Sylvester’s first appearances with the band in 1969, not to mention two full 1980 and 1990s docs on the band which have never been screened in the UK. Add in a RSGo performance of ‘Here I Go Again’, many many many TOTPops (including a live version of ‘The Day That Crazy Billy...’ which is better than the record) and various promos that haven’t been seen for years (‘Dear Eloise’ filmed in the Abbey Road car park and a pioneering five-face version of ‘Do The Best You Can’) and you’d have one of the best music DVDs ever made.
4) The Kinks: There’s just as much footage for The Kinks, although unusually this material has been largely released noawadays. Thew problem is, its spread across a lot of very cheap sets featuring linking material by Dave Davies at the height of his illness and aren’t exactly made for easy viewing (great promos from the 60s and 70s although no sign of the infamous one for ‘Dead End Street’ alas, plus performances from Shindig in the 60s, TOTP in the 80s and extracts from a full half hour TV special in 1978). Add this together with new footage (the unscreened ‘A Soap Opera’ TV special which is stupendous and well overdue for release, a 1981 concert screened in Germany, extracts from the TV show ‘At The 11th Hour’ for which Ray Davies wrote nine exclusive songs of which only two have been officially released, Ray’s theme song for the ‘Ballad Of The Virgin Soldiers’ film, various Beat Club and Beat Beat Beat shows which The Kinks kept appearing on long after most 60s bands had stopped plus various TOTPs that are forever being repeated on TOTP2 and an early bluesy performance on Beat Room the week You Really Got Me first made #1) and you’d have another DVD right up there with the very best ever made.
5) The Who: Another plethora of unreleased treasures that still get shown on TV sometimes but have never yet been gathered together. There’s a whole nest of footage that still hasn’t been put onto DVD yet, despite there being two very very good DVDs available (the 1979 documentary film ‘The Kids Are Alright’ and the 1994 ’30 Years Of maximum R and B’). These include an explosive early version of ‘My Generation’ and the unreleased ‘Shout and Shimmy’ from Ready Steady Go, TOTP versions of ‘Substitute’ ,‘I Can’t Explain’ and ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’, ‘Pinball Wizard’ as featured on the Tom Jones Show in 1969, ‘Relay’ – a rare track plugged on the Old Grey Whistle Test and the band’s complete four song set from the Kampuchea benefit concerts (of which only one features in the ‘maximum r and b’ documentary). Add to that a few more Beat Beat Beat and Beat Club performances and the way is paved for a third excellent set of Who madness on DVD.
Goodbye for another week but, just before we go, time for an in-joke: ‘the aliens are fighting for control of the Concourse!’ (They can have it if you ask me!) happy rocking and see you next week!