♫ Hello and welcome to another new ‘News, Views and Music’, filled to the pixels with the latest, well, news views and music. There isn’t really much to add about what’s happening to our site since the last time we posted – we’re still getting to grips with Twitter and YouTube and next week should be when we hear about the future of our site. Just think – if you’re reading this at the current date (or thereabouts), you’ll be able to tell your great-grandkids that you were among the first to visit Alan’s Album Archives (and they’ll probably sigh and say ‘why is it boring old 2D format?, fancy having not invented holograms yet!’) In the meantime, it’s yet another trawl through the back pages of rock and roll, featuring some very wild tales indeed...
♫ Beatles News: Yoko Ono has confirmed that the eight ‘core’ Lennon solo albums will indeed be re-mastered and re-released for Lennon’s 70th birthday on October 9th this year (John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, Imagine, Sometime In New York City, Mind Games, Walls and Bridges, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Double Fantasy and the posthumous Milk and Honey, though sadly not outtakes set ‘Menlove Avenue’ which needs it the most). However, there’s still no news about what bonus tracks are being attached to each album – although the unofficial report is that ‘Double Fantasy’ for one will be completely transformed by the un-released material – or whether ‘NY City’ will be the old 2CD or the newer single CD version. Oh and Yoko’s just reached the twitter milestone of one million followers – and sadly that last one wasn’t me (I was 999, 990!) Yoko has also been on one of her regular trips to Liverpool and reportedly gazed in awe at Lennon’s bedroom in Mendips, which the National Trust bought up with her money and support. Yoko, of course, never saw the house her time with Lennon (the couple never got round to it before moving to America and by the time the pair met Aunt Mimi had moved to Wales where her nephew had bought her a bungalow).
Oh and in a bit of extra news, BBC6 are repeating their very listenable Badfinger documentary ‘Without You’ this Monday. While I’m at a loss to explain why such a fine and consistent group should be reduced to talking about one of their slowest and dreariest ballads (I’d take ‘Name Of The Game’ ‘Day After Day’ and ‘Baby Blue’ over ‘Without You’ any day), the story of the band is quite something for those who don’t know it, including discovery by the Beatles’ road manager Mal Evans and working with Paul; McCartney and George Harrison to horrendous royalty disputes and eventually the suicide of two members. Let’s hope the new Apple re-issues of the first four Badfinger releases in October does much to restore their reputation for making a series of great ballads, not just the one.
♫ Belle and Sebastian News: Our biggest congratulations to Rachael Neiman who scored an amazing 18 points during the first round of the latest Mastermind competition, with ‘Belle and Sebastian’ her chosen subject. I only got two questions right – they seemed blooming hard to me (we did a bit better on CSN a couple of series back before you think we’re totally hopeless!) I believe the show is still available from BBC i-player for a week, so I won’t spoil the ending for anybody who wants to see if she won the whole caboodle.
♫ Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young News: A bit of belated new from March for you here. You may remember that in one of our very earliest newsletters we found – almost by accident - that CSN were working with Johnny Cash’s producer Rick Rubin on an album of cover songs and that it should have been out long ago – so long ago that I was beginning to think I’d dreamt or imagine the whole thing (chronic fatigue can do that to you – I was convinced last week I’d found a rare abandoned Pink Floyd album in a charity shop in my sleep and it’s taken many discographies since then to prove me otherwise!)
Well, as you may have read last week, we’re only just getting the hang of twitter but one Beatles post that caught my eye had a link for a CSN story from March this year, about how the band were still going ahead with their ‘covers’ album and had already recorded or arranged covers of, among others, AAA songs The Beatles’ ‘Norwegian Wood’, The Rolling Stones’ ‘Ruby Tuesday’ (a regular part of their set-lists now) and the Grateful Dead’s ‘Uncle John’s Band’ (the album is, apparently, ‘one-third done’ and that was in March). Nash adds that the recording sessions are dragging on longer than any other CSN project (even longer than ‘Deja Vu’?!?) thanks to CSN’s heavy touring schedule which will see them out on the road somewhere around the world until October. It’s very unusual for CSN to work with any producer (not many have the stamina or the ego to stand up to these four!) and in the past they have either produced themselves or used some figure close to the group – the same background, in fact, as Johnny Cash before Rubin resurrected his career with the atmospheric and well received ‘America’ series the last few years before his death. So let’s hope CSN get the same honour and return to the spotlight with their new album. Nash claims that “It’s hard to tell CSN what to do in the studio after almost 40, 50 years, but it’s an interesting experience. We’re certainly opening to listening to him. He has good ideas, of course.” Nash adds: “We all want it to be right – Rick, too – so we’re taking our time to make sure it is.”
In other news, could be that we’re about to have the holy grail of CSNY collectors sometime next year? Apparently, 2011 will see the first legal release of recordings from CSNY’s legendary 1974 tour. The first (of many) CSNY reunions, this tour broke up in acrimony and bad blood when a tie-in album broke down partway through the recording – but those who there have always reckoned that these concerts are among the best the quartet ever did (something I concur with having seen the unfairly dismissed Wembley set that year, which broke the crowd attendance record held by the Beatles in Shea Stadium in 1965). Nash is the member of the band whose most objected to releasing tapes from this period, claiming the vocals are often way out of tune and can’t be heard against the loud guitar parts, but now even he says: “It’s very obvious when you play the tracks that we’re listening to each other, not stepping on each other’s toes, not over-blowing. It’s really, really good.” More news if and when we hear it.
♫ Janis Joplin News: Just when I was despairing of any programme celebrating the life of Janis in the 40th anniversary year of her death – look out for our tribute we’ve got vaguely sketched out somewhere around October 4th – comes the programme ‘Queens Of Heartache’, to be broadcast on Wednesday, September 8th on BBC 2. Janis isn’t the only figure of course though in our eyes she’s easily the most important, sharing screen time with the likes of powerful, charismatic but deeply unhappy singers like Judy Garland and Edith Piaf. We’ll let you know what the programme is like next issue...
♫ ANNIVERSARIES (September 6th-12th): Birthday greetings to the following AAA luminaries and visionaries: Roger Waters (bassist and so much more with Pink Floyd 1967-85) who turns 66 on September 6th, Ron ‘Pigpen’ McKernan (singer and keyboardist with the Grateful Dead 1965-72) who would have been 64 on September 8th and Otis Redding who would have been 69 on September 9th. Anniversaries of events include: the sad untimely death of record producer Tom Wilson, who gave Simon and Garfunkel their big break by overdubbing electric instruments on their flop single ‘The Sound Of Silence’ (September 6th 1978); the sad untimely death of the drummer we all thought was indestructible – The Who’s Keith Moon (September 7th 1978); the advert calling for ‘four insane boys’ for a new TV series about musicians, The Monkees, appears in Los Angeles’ Daily Variety magazine. Mike Nesmith and Davy Jones have already been cast, but Micky Dolenz auditions after seeing the advert and AAA member Stephen Stills applies, recommending his friend Peter Tork when he is rejected (September 8th 1965); The Moody Blues play to an almost-record 300, 000 fans in Paris, a city not traditionally all that excited about rock and roll (even The Beatles were booed on their first tour, September 8th 1968); John Lennon releases his biggest selling solo LP ‘Imagine’ (September 9th 1971); the first ever edition of 1970s programme ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test’ takes place, the source of much AAA archive material (September 9th 1972); The Rolling Stones, meanwhile, are making their famous TV appearance on a special edition of Ready Steady Go!, including a mimed version of Sonny and Cher’s hit ‘I Got You Babe’ (September 10th 1965); Barely a year after that first advert The Monkees release their first single ‘Last Train To Clarksville’ – a big hit two days before the TV series come along to plug it (September 10th 1966); A magical mystery tour coach leaves for location filming of a Beatles TV project (see if you can guess which one! September 11th 1967); The Beatles release the most recorded song in the world, ‘Yesterday’, as a single – but only in America where it becomes one of the band’s biggest sellers (September 12th 1965);The Monkees’ TV series debuts on American television (UK viewers get it six weeks or so later; September 12th 1966) and finally, after three girls, Paul and Linda have a son, James Lewis McCartney, born on September 12th 1977.