Thursday, 4 August 2011
News, Views and Music Issue 108 (Intro)
So, we’ve lost yet another singer to the ‘27’ club, full of tormented singer songwriters like Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and Brian Jones who died at that age (OK, so the last one wasn’t a songwriter but you know what I mean...), when the first flush of fame had worn off. While Amy Winehouse was hardly in the same league as the above list, her passing is still a huge waste of talent. Where were the people protecting her from herself? Can a manager ever truly be ‘one of the band’, understanding everything they go through? Is the problem better or worse when your manager is a member of your own family? In our top ten this week we’ll be looking at a sample of AAA managers and asking whether they were a curse or a blessing for the band involved (as ever with these lists, the answer is both, often at the same time).
Oh and while I’m in a bad mood, does anyone else think finding 93% of incapacity benefit claimants fit for work is a little steep? I know we’ve got a brain-dead prime minister in Downing Street but there’s no excuse for that. Plus I want to see everyone responsible for the incapacity charade (with thousands missing out on benefits because of a mix up in the system, caused by sending too many people to back-to-work interviews they shouldn’t have) sacked and on unemployment benefit – and then perhaps they’d know how hard it is to live on such a paltry amount. Well, at least the time is ripe for a Cameron Kicking after Andy Coulsen and the News of the World scandal – let’s try and get the moron out by Christmas! Not that America’s doing much better at the moment. It’s been low down the news in the UK but no wonder Obama’s having a hard time trying to find a compromise to reduce the American deficit. Have you heard the Republican plans? Tax breaks for the rich and all benefits removed from the poor? For a financial crisis that still isn’t yet as bad as the 1990s, 1980s,1970s or 1950s recessions? So much for civilisations being judged over how they treat society’s most vulnerable – at this rate the 21st century is one step away from Medieval witch burnings...
In other news, our site has now passed the 7500 mark and continues to climb by around 15 hits a day (not bad considering I’ve fallen a bit behind in the publicity stakes the past few weeks). I am still struggling with my computer though – she may have to be sent away again soon in which case here comes more delays and a lot of trips to the library, full of squeaking people during the Summer Holidays (and I mean the parents and grandparents as much as I mean the children, by the way). Oh and I had to laugh at the charts this week – you know Adele is naming her albums after her age when she recorded them (so that this year’s album is ‘21’ and 2009’s epic was called ‘19’)? Well, Beyonce is doing the old Stephen Stills trick of naming her albums ‘1’ ‘2’ ‘3’ etc. So last week the charts read ‘Adele: 21, Beyonce: 4’. Sums Beyonce’s audience up quite well I think...Anyway, enough of this rambling, on with the news...
♫ Beatles News: Beatles drummer Pete Best might have been forced out of the band before their first single but he’s always been a big hit with fans in Merseyside (indeed, jealousy his popularity with the girls is often cited as reason why he got the push). So good on Liverpool and 10,000 fans on facebook who’ve supported a petition which finally awards Pete his own slice of Wirral immortality by naming a new street ‘Pete Best Drive’ in his honour. The new estate by Bellway Homes chose a site in West Derby for the new name, a highly suitable one for us Beatle fans seeing as Pete lived there for a time in the mid-60s and his mother Mona’s coffee house The Casbah (where the early Beatles used to perform) is right round the corner.
♫ Jefferson Airplane News: Grace Slick’s first solo album ‘Manhole’ has finally been re-released on CD after over a decade of being out of print. While far from a classic, ‘Manhole’ has gathered something of a reputation amongst collectors after following the all-out geniusness of her and Paul Kantner’s three albums together (including AAA review no 44 ‘Blows Against The Empire’) and features the same line-up of San Francisco luminaries (including Jerry Garcia and David Crosby, as well as Airplane and Starship bandmates Paul Kantner and David Freiberg).Weirdly, the latter even gets a song to himself with ‘It’s Only Music’, a song on which Grace doesn’t even appear (on her own solo album?!). Most critics have been praising the 17 minute epic title track and the wordless ‘Jay’ but, believe you me, these are terrible – the real weight of the record comes in Grace’s sarcastic ‘Come Again Toucan’ and the rousing finale ‘Rock Epic #38’, which has more false endings then the News of the World scandal. Now all we need is Grace’s superior follow-up LP ‘Dreams’ from 1980 out on CD and I’ll be happy, honest...
♫ Oasis News: There are indeed going to be not one but two Noel Gallagher albums in the shops before too long! ‘High Flying Birds’ is the more straightforward of the two sets, made up of newer material and unreleased Oasis goodies like ‘If I Had A Gun’ and ‘Stop The Clocks’ (but, alas, no ‘Living A Dream I My Record Machine’, the best unreleased Oasis song of all), due for release on October 17th this year. A second untitled LP, made with psychedelic remixers ‘Amorphous Androgynous’ (who remixed several of the songs from the last Oasis LP ‘Dig Out Your Soul’ as B-sides), is due early next year. To promote the two albums, Noel even edited Mojo magazine this month (as ‘September’s issue’, though why is anybody’s guess seeing it came out on July 20th!), with the best freebie CD the mag’s had for ages. Remember three issues back when we were comparing the early days of Noel and Lindisfarne’s Alan Hull and the similarities of the pair’s early material? Well, either Noel knew that already or he’s read our newsletter because there’s a rare 1975 live recording of Hull singing ‘We Can Swing Together’! Plus my favourite Buddy Holly song ‘Well...All Right’, which hardly anyone else rates and you can read about in our ‘top five pre-1960s songs’ in News and Views no 27 (I agree with Noel too – this is the sound of psychedelia eight years early!) As for articles, umm the only one worth reading was about Noel himself, with a pretty good article about what he’s been up to since Oasis’ split and his favourite books and DVDs (including Neil Young biography ‘Shakey’ and the Rutles ‘All You Need Is Cash’) plus favourite records including The Beatles ‘Ticket To Ride’, Neil Young’s ‘Hey Hey My My’ (as played by Oasis on their 2000 tour) and Wings’ ‘1985’.
ANNIVERSARIES: Happy birthday to all AAA men and women born between August 1st and 7th: so that’s Jerry Garcia (guitarist with the Grateful Dead 1965-95) who would have been 69 on August 1st, then. Anniversaries of events include: 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); The Beatles headline their first gig at Liverpool’s Cavern Club (August 2nd 1961); The Who rescue the film premises Shepperton Studios from demolition, buying the venue for use in their ‘Kids Are Alright’ documentary and ‘Quadrophenia’ film (they still own it too; August 2nd 1977); Just two years, one day and 293 appearances after their first headlining gig, the Beatles play their last show at The Cavern Club (August 3rd 1963); Beatles record are banned in South Africa following John Lennon’s statements about the band being ‘bigger than Jesus’ (August 3rd 1966) – a day later six South American states follow suit; Wings are officially formed on August 3rd 1971, with Dennys Laine and Seiwell as well as Paul and Linda McCartney; The Small Faces release perhaps their most famous single ‘Itchycoo Park’ (August 4th 1967); Pink Floyd stage The Wall for the first time at London’s Earl’s Court (due to costs they only ever stage the show four times – August 4th 1980); Two 1960s milestones are released on August 5th: The Beatles’ ‘Revolver’ in 1966 and Pink Floyd’s debut ‘Piper At The Gates Of Dawn’ in 1967; The Small Faces release their debut single, the wonderfully ungrammatical ‘What’cha Gonna Do ‘Bout It?’ (August 6th 1965); Pink Floyd’s film version of ‘The Wall’ premieres in America (August 6th 1982) and finally, Time Magazine becomes the first magazine to review the Beatles’ ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ released the previous month and – you’ve guessed it, they absolutely hate it, with a headline ‘avoid at all costs’! (August 7th 1964).