Friday, 30 September 2011
News, Views and Music Issue 114 (Intro)
Hello once again for a surprisingly sombre News, Views and Music. We’ve death, illness, recuperation and incompetence for you this issue – no guessing which category our latest (and extended) ‘top five’ political debate comes under! First up, I have to re-apply for my incapacity benefit (for those of you who don’t know even though I mention it every few issues I’ve been writing this site while suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and looking for something actually worth getting up for every day), even though a) I’d only just received the old one b) I should be exempt because I’m running my own business with job centre help (ie this site) and c) the new hoops they’ve added to new claimants under the Coalition Government are outrageous, unfair and – till the law was changed this year – illegal. Even I win I shall have to attend monthly work trial sessions miles away from my house that will make me more and more tired and make my illness worse – and if I lose (which seems likely with only a 10% success rate) I shall end up back at the jobcentre, with an illness that will cause me to collapse looking for jobs that don’t exist. All this is being done to save the Government a few measly pounds – despite the fact that the new system costs bucket-loads and they haven’t exactly made it easy for claimants left in great pain and misery, what with cutting your benefits while you’re being ‘assessed’, making you fill in massive forms (with no space for either ‘pain’ or ‘tiredness’ (which is a crazy state of affairs because who wants an employee who falls asleep at their desk everyday and keeps saying ‘ow’ every few minutes whenever he moves) and sending you to doctors with a total of six week’s training who think they know more than the specialist you’ve been seeing for years. All this means that I shall have less time (and less energy) to devote to this site, even though it’s my best means to recovery and my best chance of ever getting a job when I am well enough to work. The whole system is a mess and I resent being one of the early guinea pigs testing it, not to mention losing three weeks of my life hand-writing a form that I could have typed up online in a couple of days, packing it full of detail that backs up my case that no one will ever read (because this Government simply assumes that if you’re not one of the rich, you must be guilty of something). For more angry protest see our top five below and open your eyes to what’s really going on...
All that’s a shame because the last week has seen some great steps forward for our site. You may have noticed a ‘blog’ page has been to our site – there’s nothing in there our regulars won’t already know but I have included all of our best ‘top fives’ for newcomers to read before actually clicking on each article and will continue to add each week’s closing column here. By the wonders of modern technology (which still seem like magic to me, but there we are) I’ve been able to set up an account that enables me to update my twitter feed and various other programmes every time I post one of these (so sorry to my followers who have seen me add about a hundred articles in the past week!) It seems to be working – in the past two days we’ve had 200 hits alone which is a big increase on the 40 we were having every day, so let me take the time to say ‘hello’ for any readers who are reading this as their first article, forgive the ranting it doesn’t happen often (well...OK, it does) and I hope you have a long and pleasant journey with us. If I ever actually have the energy, time and run of good health to keep Alan’s Album Archives going. Anyway, enough doom and gloom, on with the news...
♫ Because of the ‘split’ nature of the new this week, we’ve decided to give you details of the week’s events (mostly repeats) in group order:
First up, BBC6 are repeating the first two series of their ‘Classic Albums’ series from the early 1990s in their ‘documentary’ slot at 3am each night. They repeated the first series (featuring Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys and a different Small Faces) not so long ago but their second (featuring CSN and the first Small Faces album for Immediate) is a nice surprise, long overdue for a repeat. For the record the dates are as follows (curiously, the two series have had their running orders jumbled together) and are all at 3am on the mornings listed:
♫ Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ this Tuesday, September 27th
♫ Crosby, Stills and Nash ‘Crosby, Stills and Nash’ this Thursday, September 29th (the best of the series and unrepeated since around 1991 and featuring new interviews with the great comedy double act that is Crosby-Nash and a separate one with Stills: listen out for the anecdote about the band being asked to re-shoot the cover only to find the run-down house they used had been knocked down!) See our review no 29)
♫ Beach Boys ‘Pet Sounds’ this Friday, September 30th
♫ The Who ‘Who’s Next’ this Saturday, October 1st (see news and views 14 and 81)
♫ Rolling Stones ‘Beggar’s Banquet’ next Wednesday, October 5th (see review no 26)
♫ Small Faces ‘The Small Faces’ (on its first repeat in 20 years) next Thursday, October 6th (see review no 12)
♫ And more on that ‘Spirit of the 60s’ series we told you about last week. How wonderful to see the 10 ‘Sounds of the 60s’ compilations (also from 1991 spookily enough) again, even if they did cut out some of the captions at the end and a few other edits I noticed to squeeze them into the running slot. For the record here’s what they did show:
Beatles ‘She Loves You’ (TOTP 1964) (1st episode)
Byrds ‘All I Really Wanna Do’ (TOTP 1965) (2nd episode)
Grateful Dead ‘The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)’ (Haight-Ashbury promo clip, 1967) (8th episode)
Hollies ‘Just One Look’ (TOTP 1963, 3rd episode) and ‘Sorry Suzanne’ (TOTP 1969, 6th episode)
Kinks ‘You Really Got Me’ (TOTP 1964, 3rd episode) and ‘Days’ (‘Pop Go The 60s, New Year’s Eve 1969 – weirdly this whole show was shown on the same day so this little seen clip was on twice in three hours!, 5th episode)
Moody Blues ‘Ride My See-Saw’ (Colour Me Pop 1968, 8th episode)
Pink Floyd ‘Flaming’ and ‘Astronomy Domine’ (Look Hear – the one with the really smug presenter who hates them because they are ‘too loud’ and ‘do not play like a string quartet’!, 8th episode) and ‘Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun’ (‘All MY Loving’, a programme shown in full later the same night again!, episode 10)
Rolling Stones ‘It’s All Over Now’ (TOTP 1964, 1st episode) ‘Get Off Cloud’ (TOTP 1965, 3rd episode) and ‘Honky Tonk Woman’ (TOTP 1969, 6th episode)
Small Faces ‘Song Of A Baker’ (Colour Me Pop 1968, 9th episode)
The Who ‘I Can See For Miles (TOTP 1967, 8th episode) and ‘My Generation’ (live, ‘All My Loving’ 1968, 10th episode)
There were also the additional programmes: ‘Magical Mystery Tour Memories’ with Victor Spinetti that was basically a loud of proud locals reminiscing about the days when the Beatles’ film crew passed through the village, although there were two interesting radio clips with an on-form George and an ever-grumpy Ringo. Basically it was disappointing – and I noticed it had a ‘2007’ production credit, as if Yesterday were too afraid to show it the first time around because it wasn’t good enough to stand on its own. To be honest the biggest fact we learnt was that a 27 year old Ringo Starr had a 32” waist in 1967 and paid 19 shillings for his funky trousers!
Monkee documentary ‘Hey Hey We Are The Monkees’ has been shown once before, despite the bally hoo about this being it’s UK premiere (it isn’t). Another slightly disappointing doc, it’s no substitute for the superior ‘Making of The Monkees’ doc from a few years earlier but does have some rare footage and interesting interviews with all the members of the cast (even Mike Nesmith, which was quite a coup at the time!)
There was also the rare addition of Tony Palmer’s 1968 documentary ‘All My Loving’ (the sequel to his ‘All You Need Is Love’ series. Featuring interviews with Paul McCartney, Pete Townshend and a hilarious Frank Zappa, it also included rare clips of Pink Floyd (‘Set The Controls’ as shown above – how weird that both have been unseen for two decades on terrestrial TV and crop up on the very same day!), The Who (ditto clips of My Generation and a snippet of ‘Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand’), Cream and Jimi Hendrix. The best parts though are the pompous attempts of the ‘older’ generation to explain away ‘pop’ music as a cathartic release or a poor substitute for classical music (which is next to ‘Godliness’ in stark contrast to ‘pop’ according to writer Anthony Burgess who has clearly never heard Beach Boys or CSN harmonies in his life!)
Keep an eye out for repeats as the Yesterday channel do tend to repeat their programmes ad infinitum (how many times have they shown ‘Hitler’s Bodyguards’ for instance?!)
♫ Also celebrating a television retrospective was The Old Grey Whistle Test, which has now reached the middle age of 40 (actually, didn’t it always seem middle aged?) A fine retrospective and a so-so documentary on BBC4 were joined by a much-more-us 40 minute compilation of songs from 1973. For the record the AAA performances were:
Lindisfarne ‘Fog On The Tyne’ (1972, as included in the ‘70s Gold’ compilation)
The Who ‘Relay’ (1973, as included in the ‘OGWT Years’ compilation)
Sadly there were no repeats for the exclusive John Lennon ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’ footage or the great Nils Lofgren footage from 1976 this time around (unlike the 30th anniversary specials) – perhaps the 50th anniversary will have even more?!
♫ Beatles News: We sadly have to report the death of Beatles photographer par excellence Robert Whittaker. It’s probably fair to say that Robert was the band’s photographer of choice during their crucial 1965-66 phase, taking the band out of their ‘moptop’ image and into something a little deeper. This worked wonderfully well on occasions, creating some of the most enduring images of the band (ie the shots of sun-glasses wearing Beatles in 1966) and left fans scratching their heads on others (the infamous ‘butcher’ cover, which was probably a social comment too far for 1966 America). He was 73.
♫ Beatles/CSN News: The November issue of Mojo (why – it’s still blooming September!) has just been issued and includes a lengthy discussion of George Harrison’s life and music as its main feature. The text is awful and the record reviews are worse (only three stars for ‘Wonderwall’ and ‘George Harrison’?! Only two for ‘Gone Troppo’ and ‘Brainwashed’ and yet four for the horrible mess that was ‘Cloud Nine’?! I don’t think so!) but the pictures taken from the new Olivia Harrison book ‘Living In The Material World’ bode well. There’s some fascinating pics both by and of George, including a pensive Macca on an early Beatles flight and George on holiday by the Taj Mahal. The CSN bit of new concerns the cover CD, which features 15 varying covers of George Harrison songs. No other than Graham Nash pops up on harmonies for Jonathon Wilson’s exclusive take on ‘Isn’t It A Pity?’ and it’s about the highlight of the set even though there isn’t that much of him – by contrast ‘Lanterns On The Lake’ completely murder ‘Long Long Long’ (George’s greatest Beatle song) and there’s no sign of ‘Beware Of darkness’ (his greatest solo song).
♫ Hollies News: Have you been watching BBC4’s recent repeats of TOTP from 1976? Me neither – I tend to fast-forward them just to check if there’s any good stuff but can’t take the glam versus punk battles going on in that era (both are dire). There have been a couple of surprises in the last two weeks though: not The Hollies or even their singer Allan Clarke but two songs that I only know from his solo albums. Two drippy females wailed their way through ‘Sideshow’ a couple of weeks ago, soon after Clarke released a storming version of the same song on his 1976 LP ‘I’ve Got Time’. More of a surprise was the Manfred Mann’s Earth Band version of ‘Blinded By The Light’ – the story goes that Clarke discovered this early Bruce Springsteen song and was convinced it should be a single m- till the record company told him in no uncertain terms that it probably wouldn’t sell. A passing Manfredd Mann (Clarke’s neighbour of the time) called in one day and asked if he had any songs spare – Clarke told him his dilemma and the Earth Band recorded this rather low-key folky version of the song, reaching the top 10 of the charts and proving Clarkey’s hit instincts right yet again. I much prefer Clarkey’s full on rocky version of the song, by the way! STOP PRESS: Having never heard this version of the song ever in my life, I have just heard it for the third time in three weeks as part of the BBC’s excellent coverage of formula one qualifying for the Singapore GP. Yet another astonishing website coincidence!
♫ Pink Floyd News: What was the recent Pink Floyd re-issue bonanza missing to make it seem like the old days? A barmy publicity stunt, that’s what! Yes its the flying pig over Battersea Power Station story again, as the band release news that they wanted to fly their old pig (carefully stored in their archives) again unexpectedly – only to discover she’d developed a hole after 34 years! The band are still planning to build a new one by the way at exorbitant costs, even though it will be too late by then to serve as a proper advertisement because the albums will have been out several weeks already. Hmm, pigs might fly...
ANNIVERSARIES: Happy birthdays once again to AAA members born between September 27th and October 3rd: Dewey Martin (drummer with the Buffalo Springfield 1965-68) who would have been 69 on September 30th and Phil Oakey (lead singer with The Human League 1978-present) who turns 56 on October 2nd. Anniversaries of events include: The Hollies release their groundbreaking single ‘King Midas In Reverse’ (September 27th 1967), A and M sue George Harrison for being late with delivery of his last album for the label (George is ill with hepatitis, delaying delivery of ‘33 and 1/3rd’ till later in the year), the Rolling Stones begin their first ‘proper’ tour – supporting Bo Diddley and the Everly Brothers across the UK (September 29th 1963), CSN go gold in America with their first self-titled album less than three months after its release in July (September 30th 1969), In contrast, it takes the Grateful Dead 22 years to earn their first platinum disc (for ‘In The Dark’, the same day in 1987) and finally, 63 Rolling Stones are arrested after failing to get in to see their band at a concert in Milan. 2000 fans are thought to have taken part in the riot after finding out the venue had been sold out by an overwhelming number (October 2nd 1970).