Friday, 25 November 2011

News, Views and Music Issue 123 (Intro)

November 25th:

Well, that was an interesting week. I’ve never felt as ‘ahead’ of myself as I have with last week’s newsletter (which seemed to arrive out of nowhere before I’d quite planned to write it!) and after filling in a load of heavy benefit forms was looking forward to some much-delayed rest and recuperation for my chronic fatigue and a chance to gte cracking on the next one. Only - no – two days after sending in my forms (three weeks early) I’ve already been given the date for a medical (‘because we need more information’ - oh the irony of that sentence after writing 14,000 words on my illness, longer than some novels!) and its not easy preparing for it given all the ways they try to ‘trip you up’ and make assumptions you don’[t get a chance to correct. To boot, I’ve also had two unexpected additional forms to fill in all in the same space of time and asking for virtually the same information and including a long list of hideous consequences if I don’t get it back to them ‘in a few days’ – why can’t these departments talk to each other?! And why should I bust my poorly body pushing it past its limits because they can’t be arsed to do their job? Surely its easier for them to log onto one computer in the same building than it is for poorly me to look up all this info again and write it? And why should it be any of their business if  - as on one question - I’ve been abroad or not since starting my claim – luckily I haven’t, but why should they care?I’d have thought ill people were more likely to need holidays than anyone else and are more likely to be looked after if travelling with people who have time off work to look after them. Thank goodness I’m used to writing long realms of information (see below and every other issue on this website!) otherwise I’d go mad. Perhaps I am already? What would anyone in power actually care about what their forms do to me?

Just to add to my grievances I also temporarily lost my password to my nice new site at Windows Live (where all these articles are stored) and couldn’t get them to send me a new one - thankfully I got it sorted (by adding another account and sending myself a ‘friend request’ under the old system which took an age to be accepted which was quite funny – honestly, if you can’t be friends with yourself, who can you be friends with?!).

Now that I’ve got most things cleared I feel too fired up to rest, like everyone who knows anything about this illness tell me I should be doing, so here’s another newsletter earlier than anticipated in the hope that next week might be calmer. I mkight well be delayed writing the next one, so please bear with me and rest assured I will be back writing some time, even if its not for a few weeks. In the meantime, I’m glad to hear from some of you that you’re enjoying both my own composed music (even if it is a decade old now – oh hang on, that still makes it quite modern for this site, ahem!) and posting your top album links on ‘Best Ever Albums’ (please keep emailing your posts to me at or adding your links to our forum, even if they’re nothing like the reviews we post I always find my readers’ thoughts fascinating!) Perhaps one day, if I get enough entries, I’ll give you a top five all of your own! We’ve also hit 11,000 views earlier than expected too – this looked like it was going to be a good week till I got that phone-call and all hell broke loose...


Beatles News: Maccas honeymoon has taken him to Abu Dhabi, where Macca performed a free concert on the Sunday and attended his first ever formula one grand prix on the Saturday! An emotional Macca spoke to the BBC f1 team about how it felt really strange to be in a grand prix on (give or take a week) the tenth anniversary of George Harrisons death, enjoying for the first time something his friend and colleague had enjoyed all his life. Former team boss Eddie Jordan added a rare anecdote about George attending the grand prix in disguise as a mechanic during Damon Hills two years at the team (for those who dont know, George funded Damons career at a time when dad Grahams death in an microlight accident held the family up in litigation for years and they had no money coming in George paid for Damon to get into f1 on the basis that he never revealed who his mystery benefactor was till after his death, something an emotional Damon did in 2002).  

In other Macca news, theres a new DVD out to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 concerts he helped organised. The documentary, titled The Love We Make after a line from the Beatles Abbey Road medley, will be released on November 28th and features clips from the show as well as unseen backstage footage.

In other Beatles news whats all this about yet another Lennon documentary, released in October, titled Lennon NYC? I havent read a thing about it anywhere (the music mags are all full of George this month so it seems a strange time to put it out) but I presume its a belated release for the TV version of a similar name that was on earlier in the year. This DVD looks at Lennons life 1972-1980, when he first moved to America in the wake of the Imagine album and takes in the green card scandal, Lennons house-husband phase and his sudden death. The audio soundtrack features rare outtakes, some of which have been heard officially but some only on bootlegs and features interviews with a better class of subject than most similar docs. Alas there are no extras on the DVD, although if you havent seen it the 90 minute playing time is pretty generous. 

Finally, look out for a repeat of Michael Palins sensitive tribute to George Harrison, What Is Life? (which dates back to 2003 or so) which is repeated on BBC6 on Tuesday, November 29th at 3am (as part of the documentary slot). Its not up to the new George Harrison film (well, the second part at least) but covers a lot of ground well within the hour playing time and Palin makes for a good mix of good friend and dispassionate observer.

CSN News: Word has it that Graham Nash is busy working on the long awaited third installment of his CSN box sets dedicated to his longtime partner Stephen Stills. Despite the hefty prices both the David Crosby set Voyage and Nashs own set Reflections (see news and views no 22) were superb, full of unreleased gems from the vaults, stunning booklets full of photos and backgrounds to each and every song and a pretty fair pick of recordings. Lets hope the Stills set is just as fine it certainly sounds that way as Nash has admitted he has so much more material to cover than in the other two sets, especially given Stills reputation for abandoning tracks and sometimes whole albums unfinished. The set, as yet untitled, is tentatively due for early next year (two years on from the Nash set) but seeing as weve already had so many CSN projects postponed or cancelled in the past two years anything could happen (and knowing CSN probably will...)

Hollies News: At last my copy of the new Hollies documentary Look Through Any Window has arrived the first real documentary the Hollies have ever been given outside Germany. And generally speaking its fabulous, even if it doesnt quite match up to Reelin In The Years earlier Small Faces set (still one of the best DVDs in my collection). New interviews with Clarke, Hicks, Eliott and an especially chatty Nash are interspersed with some fabulously rare footage and there are some tales to tell we havent heard before (eg Jennifer Clarke and Rose Nash nee Eccles didnt just inspire Jennifer Eccles, they helped write it; Bobby Elliott came up with the double-time ending of Im Alive, etc). Weve mentioned some of the vintage performances on our recent Youtube top 60, little knowing these clips were about to get their first official releases but its fantastic to see properly: Little Lover where the band look about 12 and a lot of middle-aged shoppers look down on the band disdainfully while they play; an especially rocking Rockin Robin from a 1964 NME pollwinners concert that knocks spots off The Hollies studio version; a fascinating promo for King Midas where Nash writes on a tree and the band stage a swordfight using flowers (well, it was 1967!), a rare promo for Wings that I never knew existed and a concert from Yugoslavia right near the end of Nashs time in the band with the group on cracking witty form. To be fair this DVD is still missing a lot (especially given that we took the liberty of compiling a Hollies listing ourserlves way back on news and views 69) such as a classy live reading of Curly Billy on a 1972 TOTP, a 1970 mimed TOTP Gasoline Alley Bred, Tony Hicks appearance on Blue Peter advertising a new wireless guitar, a Croatia and a BBC concert both from 1969, anything from the two German-only docs we never got to see in the 80s and 90s and, most puzzling of all because I think I read that it was being included, the clip of the band playing Nows The Time in the middle of Willie Rushton film Its All About Town for no apparent reason! What we get is, by and large, just the Hollies hits over and over again and whilst thats not a bad thing this set could have been perfection with just another hours worth of material added (and we know the makers got the rights to some TOTP and BBC clips at least as two are on this release). Still, £11 for two hours worth of previously unreleased or at least rare material is still very very good lets hope the British Invasion series copies our other four suggestions for DVDs (The Beatles, Stones, Kinks and Who) and I shall be one happy reviewer!

Oasis News: Just as I was dispairing of the inanities on the latest series of Later...With Jools Holland along comes Noel Gallaghers High Flying Birds to brighten up the last episode, shown on Tuesday, November 22nd at 10pm and given an extended repeat (Its a live programme for goodness sake!) on Friday, November 25th at 11.50pm, BBC One. To be honest Noel will be lucky to get one song in given the amount of stars stuffed into this show (did Jools expect half of them to cancel?!)

Rolling Stones News: BBC6 have a repeat of last Decembers R2 Altamont documentary, about the Stones/CSN/Airplane/Dead/Flying Burritos gig that went badly wrong when a) the Airplanes Marty Balin got beaten up by Hells Angels security men after telling them to cool it  b) The Dead refused to play and fled the scene in terror and c) infamously that audience member Meredith Hunter was stabbed to death while the Stones played Under My Thumb. The documentary was fascinating, albeit less interesting than the Gimme Shelter film the Stones bravely released in 1971 and given the unfortunate and needlessly provocative title Shedding Hippie Blood. You can hear it on BBC6 this Friday (November 18th) at 3am. Another Stones repeat the following week is 2009s In Exile, a slightly disappointing doc that came out to publicise the re-issue of Exile On Main Street that year. Now that we know the new songs well from the record (and surprisngly good they are too, some better than the album highlights) we really dont need this doc so badly.   

The Who News: BBC6 are repeating two Keith Moon items this coming week. First up, theres a repeat for Radio 2s delightfully titled two-part biography Im Keith Moon Whats Your Excuse? this Tuesday and Wednesday, November 22nd and 23rd at midnight. One of the highlights of that documentary, presented by Phil Daniels (Jimmy from The Who film Quadrophenia) was a rare outing for Keith Moons short-lived radio show Life With The Moons (which ran for a week in 1976 when John Peel was on holiday). A cross between the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah band and Kenny Everett, its a bizarre surreal take on what Keiths life is really like and twice as weird as you think even if you know what Keith Moon really was like and try to think really really hard what a bizarre programme would sound like. Parts of it were released on the otherwise disappointing Who box 30 Years Of Maximum R and B, but otherwise you never get to hear it until now, when BBC6 have put together an hours compilation for broadcast on Wednesday, November 23rd at 3am.

ANNIVERSARIES: Birthday parties are in order for this week’s crop of AAA anniversaries (those born between November 29th and December 5th): Gilbert O’Sullivan who turns 65 on December 1st and Chris Hillman (bassist with The Byrds 1965-68) who turns 69 on December 4th. Anniversaries of events include: Lennon is busted for possession of cannabis on the same day he and Yoko release their experimental LP ‘Two Virgins’ (November 29th 1968); The Beatles top the NME ‘favourite group’ poll for the first time – with the exception of 1966 when The Beach Boys win it, The Beatles will hold the title right up until their dissolution in 1970 (November 30th 1963); Wings release their second band single which is, incidentally, their second banned single – the controversial drug taking ode ‘Hi Hi Hi’ (most fans will probably know the B-side ‘C Moon’ better) (November 30th 1972); John Lennon and Yoko Ono release ‘Happy Xmas’ (War Is Over) on December 1st 1971, a date so close to Christmas that the single flops badly on first release before becoming a mainstay of the charts in the festive season of 1972; The Monkees score a record that has still to be broken when fourth album ‘Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones’ becomes their fourth non-compilation #1 record of 1967 (December 2nd); The Moody Blues release the last of their ‘original’ pre-split albums ‘Seventh Sojourn’ (December 2nd 1972); Members of The Who and associates are jailed overnight for causing $6000 of damage to a hotel in Montreal. John Entwistle is not amused – he slept through all the destruction and has no idea why there are policemen knocking on his door! (December 2nd 1973); Pink Floyd’s inflatable pig flying over Battersea Power Station (as seen on the front cover of the band’s 1977 LP ‘Animals’) breaks free from its moorings and disrupts airspace for a good few hours, confusing several pilots and getting the band a great deal of free publicity (December 3rd 1976); Eleven audience members are killed and dozens are hurt during a rush for seats to see The Who in Cincinatti on December 3rd 1979, an event that contributes to the band’s eventual split in 1982 and finally, The Rolling Stones publicise their new album with a fondly remembered ‘Beggar’s Banquet’ with the world’s music press which degenerates into a food fight! (December 5th 1968).

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