Friday, 17 June 2011

News, Views and Music Issue 102 (Intro)

June 17th:

Welcome all to the latest issue of News, Views and Music (free to all, OAPs half price if accompanied by their parents). Well, that was a bit of a gap wasn’t it?! Sorry about that dear readers – it looks like the Human League Review curse (see last issue) hit yet another computer of mine! Ah well, DellBoy seems to be back to normal, all well and restored after her enforced absence and we can get back to doing what we do best – wittering on about forgotten albums from the past. Seeing as we had a couple of weeks on our hands we’ve been busy re-doing our website homepage at the library. What do all you readers think? I’ve been meaning to re-do the first page for ages – partly to make the site easier on the eye and partly because I was running out of space to list all of the reviews we’ve covered to date! – and it was a good chance to slightly alter the other pages too. Oh and have a go at the poll too so you can let us know what artists you want us to cover more often. I know we’d already got a poll on our survey, but many of you have told me that your ‘pop-up blocker’ has, well, blocked it each time you visit the site, so this is another opportunity for you to get involved! Oh yes and while we were away I see that we’ve arrived on Google now – hello all you new readers! – and have passed another milestone of 6500 hits and are already well on our way to 7000!

What else did we learn this week? Oh yes, did you know that the word ‘Tory’ is derived from an ancient word for ‘bandit’? (Which makes David Cameron’s speech about the thought of prisoners getting the vote ‘making him sick’ even sillier– surely that should be the other way round? If it’s good enough for the rest of Europe it’s good enough for us too – and the vote should be a necessity of a democracy, not a luxury to be taken away on a whim!) Or that the Royal Family are really German? (Well, OK, that’s not really a hidden fact any more). Or that the Spice Girls actually thought the ‘Spice World’ film was a good idea? Yes it’s amazing what you can learn these days isn’t it? Which is why we’ve decided to spend this week looking at the top five most revealing AAA interviews. Starring in both our review and top five is Janis Joplin, a singer who would have been 68 this year would you believe – a singer so alive compared to today’s bands it’s surely not possible she should have died so young. 

Talking of Young, I'm sure its the real CSNY I've got in my sims game at the moment. Neil's quit!!! What did I do dear readers? He had everything: his room full of guitars, visiting celebrities all trying to et Crosby's autographs, Nash tidying up after him (he is quite messy!) a great job as a piano tuner on minimum wage...And then he leaves me! Huh! At least he sent Stills a telegram when he did that - all I got was an in-game message! It hasn't stopped Crosby though - if anything the extra attention seems to have helped now. I just wish he'd do a bit less sleeping and a bit more rehearsing. Stills, meanwhile, has taken over Neil's guitar (that didn't take long!) and what with that and the easel set is spending so much time there I can't get him to eat, sleep, shower. Oh Judy Collins, how I sympathise! Nash, meanwhile, has stopped being the nice one talking to the others and putting them in a good mood and keeps having strops every time I ask him to put the rubbish out. Oh dear what next?....Meantime, it’s on with a surprisingly heavy news section this week (apologies for the few we missed telling you about while we were away !)...


Beach Boys News: We dont often plug other publications on this website, but we do when theyre unusual or revolutionary. Mojos latest 1960s special Smile The Full Story promises to do both, being the first of their magazines that Ive heard of with affront cover all about an album. The magazine is of course due to tie-in with the eagerly awaited Beach Boys Smile session tapes box set still no news there Im afraid and includes an interesting free gift in the shape of a 7 vinyl single containing the original recordings of Cabinessence and Wonderful. Very wonderful they are too having heard the originals (albeit Cabinessence is only a crotchets difference away from the overdubbed version released on the 20/20 album in 1969). Thats not the whole magazine of course though goodness know enough books have been written about the Smile saga by now as there are also articles on the Beatles And Stones in 1966 among others (thats Revolver and Aftermath period to jog your memories!) Still, welcome as the news is, I must admit that Im getting a bit alarmed that the official CD set of Smile Sessions doesnt seem to be in the pipeline yet we were promised this set sometime in June and its not even made it to Amazon as yet (after all, lets not forget it took three or four attempts and two years to get the Pet Sounds box ready before release).

In other Beach Boys news, have a look out for gosh the third decent AAA documentary repeat in a row when Bob Harris millennium-era series The Beach Boys Story is repeated on BBC6 in the 3am documentary slot. The six part series starts this Saturday, June 18th and lasts until Friday, June 23rd taking in Sun, Surf, Smile and the Seventies along the way.

Beatles News: Back in News and Views no 72 we looked at the top five AAA conspiracy theories and naturally enough the much discussed Paul Is Dead rumour was in there somewhere too. Well now the story, which has been laying dormant among most fans since the early 1970s, has taken another weird twist. You see theres a new DVD out, again called Paul Is Dead like the last DVD we reported on these pages, which allegedly uses quotes from George Harrisons last recorded message to the world, where he finally comes clean about Paul being replaced by Billy Shears in 1966 and the worldwide cover-up to stop fans committing sucicide when they learnt their idol was dead. Im surprised it hasnt caused more fuss among Beatleologists actually because it does sound like George and his voice is very hard to replicate, with his the one voice the Beatles Cartoons/Yellow Submarine voice artists never got quite right. Most likely though its yet another hoax in this long running rumour, made up from a mash-up of already existing interview tapes.

Beatles/CSNY/Simon and Garfunkel News: What do these three very different artists have in common, apart from being AAA artists? They all split up in 1970, during a very strange and peculiar period in music that caused all sorts of established bands to go a bit haywire.  All three bands, along with James Taylor, are discussed in Fire and Rain, a new book by David Browne which tells the story of the death of the 60s by tracing each groups problems during that year.

Beatles/Oasis News: More on the Liam Gallagher-produced Beatles film based on Richard Di Lellos book about Apple The Longest Cocktail Party In The World. Liam has just announced that the script is ready to be filmed and hes busy casting and plans to get Oasis old friend Johnny Depp in to play Beatles publicist Derek Taylor. What casting that would be no wonder Liam called both men dudes in his latest interview for the BBC! Depp met the Gallaghers during his first career as a session musician, playing some nicely spiky guitar on the 1997 track Fade In-Out from oasis album Be Here Now and has kept in touch ever since, so its not as unlikely as it would seem. Meanwhile, Keith Richards is set to play Captain Sparrows dad yet again in the latest Pirates of the Carribean film out this week alongside Johnny Depp. Still no sign of a DVD release of Dead Man, though, the other Depp film with AAA connotations (ie a soundtrack score by Neil Young).  

  Monkees News: Its Monkeemania yet again as three of the band (sans Nesmith) tour the UK for their 45th anniversary where the band are playing all the music from their film Head for the first time. Peter and Micky popped up unannounced on Jools Hollands Later... programme last week (still available on I-player dontcahknow) with one of their best interviews for some time, wacky and zany like the best Monkees interviews should be. Micky even got to sing a bluesy version of Im A Believer as Jools co-erced Peter into playing the piano intro (it says volumes that Peters unrehearsed playing was still more convincing than Jools block chord performance!) Davy, meanwhile, was heard late at night on R4s World Service, claiming he had a better voice than Elton John and was in better shape than Paul McCartney. Yep, its just like 1966 all over again in more ways than one...

In other Monkee news, to celebrate the bands reunion and anniversary theres yet another Monkee compilation out in the shops. To be fair the new 2CD set Monkeemania is better than most, being a better introduction to the band than the single disc Greatest Hits sets and less pricey than the four disc box sets, with 57 tracks by my reckoning taking up half of the back catalogue released in their lifetime. Theres nothing new for collectors, though, barring two alternative stereo mixes of Head tracks Porpoise Song and Circle Sky, although word of mouth has it theyre not very exciting or different.  

Oasis (Beady Eye) News: Liam Gallghers new band are set to play their British festival with an appearance at the Isle of Wight next week which, strangely, they arent actually headlining (surely the bands debut album didnt sell that badly?!) We would talk about all the other acts on the show but, to be honest, Ive not heard about most of them and wouldnt know what to tell you about the others. And Noel Gallagher? Rumours are big on the web that the elder Oasis sibling is busy filming the promo video for his first single, due for release in the second half of the year.

Pink Floyd News: To capitalise on both the recent Floyd reunion and the new Roger Waters tour of The Wall, here comes a more deluxe DVD treatment for Rogers charity concert of the show at the actual Berlin Wall in 1990, months after the wall had come down for real. The show, which has already been out last decade as a single disc no-frills set, includes performances from guests like Sinead OConnor, Van Morrison, Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Joni Mitchell and, erm, flautist James Galway as well as Roger himself. Extras this time around include a lengthy documentary about the staging of the show, including the fascinating news that the chosen venue had to be swept for mines before the audience turned up! 

In other news, there were no less than two Floyd-related programmes on radio four during the week we were away. First up, Roger Waters was the first AAA star since Yoko Ono to feature on Desert Island Discs and delivered what has generally been taken as a sweet and highly revealing programme. Roger spoke about the death of his conscious objector dad Eric during World War Two, the illness of Syd Barrett and its impact on him as a close friend and Rogers happiness that the Floyd managed to get back together for Live 8 before the death of founding member Rick Wright. Rogers choice of music was similarly eclectic, with a pretty equal mix of rock and classical (well he did write an opera after all!), starting with a fellow AAA song, CSNYs Helpless. And we thought it was David Gilmour adding all those West Coast influences to Floyd songs over the years! Anyway, have a look out on I-player for the programme if you didnt get to hear it as if nothing else it marks only the third time weve had an AAA member on the programme (after Yoko and Paul McCartney).

The other programme was The Twilight World Of Syd Barrett, commemorating the fifth anniversary since the founding Floyds death. Despite being the usual talking heads style documentary about Syds decline, covering much the same ground and using a lot of old sound-bites, this was another excellent doc that chimed in well with what we were saying about Syd in our review last issue. Another one well worth looking out for on I-player!  

Otis Redding News: Following on from last weeks superlative seven part Paul Simon Songbook comes the second straight AAA documentary in a row on BBC6, yet another repeat of the so-called Otis Reading Story [SIC]. First heard in 2002, weve reviewed this two part special on our site already suffice to say it does a fair job at condensing just four years of musical activity into two hours. The two parts are repeated this Thursday and Friday, June 16-17th in the 3am documentary slot.

Rolling Stones News: Keith Richards was interviewed this week and let two rather interesting lion-sized cats out of the bag. The first is that the Stones might be touring again next year to celebrate their 50th anniversary, with a special gig in London in June 2012 a half-century to the day since their first gig. The second is that Mick Jagger was genuinely hurt by some of the things Keef said about the singer in his book Life, published last year and out in paperback as of next month, and that it nearly broke the Stones up for good. To be fair, Keef is surprisingly complimentary about Mick in the bands early years but does savage him past about 1972, claiming he changed completely and started hanging around with establishment figures (to be fair again, Keef by his own admission was hanging out with some very unsavoury figures at the time). It sounds like the burnt bridges have been rebuilt even before we heard about it though and the Stones juggernaut will keep rolling on into their sixth decade unchartered territory for a rock and roll band without any proper break-ups or reunions! 

In other news, look out for a live session from the Stones in the live music hour slot on BBC6 this Thursday, June 16th at 4am. Alas no more details are available at the time of going to press so we dont know what era Stones it is, but we do know the Stones share the show with Thin Lizzy and Bolt Thrower.

10cc News: We at the AAA were sad to hear the news that Graham Gouldmanns partner in his spin-off band Wax, Andrew Gold, died last week at the age of 59. The singer and multi-instrumentalist, best known for his solo single Lonely Boy, did much to help resuscitate the older Gouldmanns flagging career in Wax during the 1980s and early 1990s, bringing out both mens commercial instincts after the last few poor-selling and increasingly serious-sounding 10cc discs and seeing the 10cc man back in the charts for the first time in almost a decade. We havent covered either of the Wax albums on this site (the excellent Magnetic Heaven, 1986) and slightly less special American English, 1992) but both are well worth seeking out for fans of simple, melodic pop (indeed Marie Claire, from the former album, may be one of the best songs Gouldmann ever had a hand in).

Neil Young News: The Neil Young Archive releases have been a bit quite since the 20-years-in-the-works Anthology set finally made its way into the shops in 2009. But now at last comes the fifth release in the series: a compilation of gigs played by Neil with the International Harvesters band in 1984 and 1985. The set, titled A Treasure, is becoming quite a talking point because it features the first legitimate release of no less than five unreleased songs of mixed quality (which have been around on bootleg for yonks): Soul Of A Woman ( a rather drab Motown-Soul hybrid with some excruciating lyrics), Let Your Fingers Do The Walking (another of Neils occasional chauvinistic songs), Amber Jean (a quite lovely ballad about Neils then new-born daughter, now aged 27!, similar to the track Already One but better), Nothing Is Perfect (an excruciating country song also heard at the Live Aid concert) and Grey Riders (no classic, but at least this sounds like Neil, complete with scratchy guitar riff and very like Johnny Cashs Ghost Riders Ive always thought). As you can probably tell, this isnt really my favourite period for Neil the album hes plugging at the time is his all-out country set Old Ways, a quite yucky collection of faux country that was a horribly nasty surprise after the sublime Trans, but to be fair that albums songs do sound better live. Theres a couple of surprises in the rest of the concerts track selection too a quite exquisite Flying On The Ground Is Wrong, last played by Neil on the first Buffalo Springfield album in 1966, and a much better version of Shots than the noisy electrified version on Re*Ac*Tor. Still, the quicker the Neil Young Archives series gives us sets by the Transband, the Tonights The Night band or more Crazy Horse the better.

ANNIVERSARIES: First up, Birthday greetings to the AAA legends born between June 4th and 10th: two very different legends born on the same day of June 7th - Clarence White (guitarist with The Byrds 1969-72) who would have been 67 and Billy Kreutzmann (drummer with The Grateful Dead 1965-95) who turns 65. Anniversaries of events include: 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); 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); 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) and finally,  Janis Joplin plays her first gig with Big Brother and the Holding Company (June 10th 1966).

Now for the weeks we missed – June 11th to 18th: Paul McCartney (do I really need to tell you who he is?!) turns 69 on June 18th (the same day as Nick Drake, interestingly). Anniversaries of events include: The Rolling Stones, taking a break from recording ‘Beggars Banquet’ at London’s Olympic Studios, return to find the building on fire, nearly losing all their hard-earned work to the flames! (June 11th 1968); The Beatles receive their MBEs from the Queen at her ‘keen pad’ Buckingham Palace (June 12th 1965); Mick Taylor officially joins the Rolling Stones (June 13th 1969);  The Graham Nash-organized ‘No Nukes’ concert campaigning for nuclear disarmament, featuring the first CSN reunion since 1977 takes place (June 14th 1981); Some interesting tour dynamics next – the Rolling Stones fly back to the UK partway through their first American tour to honour a commitment to Oxford’s Magdelen College for a fee of £50 (30 times less than the cost of the flight for band and crew!) (June 16th 1964); The Monterey Pop festival takes place featuring AAA bands Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Otis Redding and Simon and Garfunkel (June 16-18th 1967); The Byrds’ first week on the UK charts, with ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ on its way to #1 (June 17th 1965); On the same day The Kinks start their first American tour – and after certain shenanigans on the plane on the way over, their last till the 1970s (June 17th 1965) and finally, The Beatles’ ‘Butcher sleeve’ is released on the cover of American album ‘Yesterday and Today’ – and is recalled in its thousands after horrified fans complain about the slabs of meat on the cover (June 17th 1966).

Finally, June 19-25th: Brian Wilson (bassist, songwriter, singer and so much with The Beach Boys 1962-1988) turns 69 on June 20th, Ray Davies (lead singer, rhythm guitarist and songwriter with The Kinks 1963-93) turns 67 on June 21st and Clint Warwick (bassist with the original Moody Blues 1964-66) would have been 62 on June 25th. Anniversaries of events include: The first recording by 10cc – sort of – is released on its way to #2, ‘Neanderthal Man’ by ‘Hotlegs’ (as a trio before Graham Gouldmann joined) (June 19th 1970; The Prince’s Trust benefit concert of 1986 takes place in London’s Wembley Arena with Paul McCartney and Dire Straits among those taking part (June 20th 1986); The rather grandly named Celebration of Light Festival takes place featuring AAA bands enjoying their time back in the spotlight after their respective ‘wilderness years’: The Beach Boys and Pink Floyd (June 21st 1971); Mick Taylor releases his first (and only true) solo record five years after leaving The Rolling Stones (June 22nd 1979); Mark Chapman pleads guilty to murdering John Lennon the previous year (June 22nd 1981); John Entwistle marries Alison Wise during time off between Who tours (June 23rd 1967); Ringo travels to Nashville to record his second and decidedly country-orientated album ‘Beaucoups Of Blues’ (June 23rd 1970); A good fortnight for ex-Beatles as George Harrison’s second album ‘Living In The Material World’ dislodges Paul McCartney’s fourth album ‘Red Rose Speedway’ at the top of the US album charts (June 23rd 1973) – the same day 10cc score their first #1 UK single with ‘Rubber Bullets’; John Lennon publishes his second book ‘A Spaniard In the Works’ (it was the usual rubbish, but it didn’t cost much according to the rear sleeve) (June 24th 1965); Jefferson Airplane score their biggest hit for the next 20 years when ‘White Rabbit’ is released in America (June 24th 1967); It’s the start of an era with the first really big rock show on America’s West Coast at the Hollywood Bowl. AAA stars taking part include The Beach Boys and The Byrds (June 25th 1966); The Beatles take part in the ‘One World’ satellite link-up – the first time ever that Britain had seen live footage of different countries in their living rooms. The fab four, representing the UK,  wrote their latest single ‘All You Need Is Love’ specially for the event (June 25th 1967) and finally, The Rolling Stones play their first gig with Mick Taylor in Rome, just eight days before his predecessor Brian Jones drowns (June 25th 1969).

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