Monday, 24 January 2011
Well here we are again, ain’t been round since you know when – last issue in fact. To fill you in on our latest news – we’re now cruising past 4000 hits (as of this morning we were on 4119) and our Beatle Sims are still doing well (George Harrison is now a proper five-star celebrity, the highest you can achieve! Well, he was anyway, of course, but now he is all over again – viva 2011 Beatlemania!) We have, however, had a surprising bit of negative feedback from our last few postings on other sites which has surprised me – is our site really so hard to navigate? (It can’t be that bad or you wouldn’t be reading this now!) And is it really so bad for such a low budget site (readers get their reviews for free after all – not for us the big advertising budgets of lesser sites that are all surface and no substance!) Keep sending in your comments to us – good and bad, it all gets noted, although there honestly isn’t anything I can do to make the site more navigatable – and let us know what you think. Do our postings make you feel so high you touch the sky? Or is our writer just Thick As A Brick?! In the meantime, there’s a nice lot of news this week so let’s move on...
♫ Beach Boys News: There’s a new semi-official DVD out about Brian Wilson out this month, titled ‘Songwriter 1962-69’ and analysing Brian’s magnificent pop creations from the band’s ‘Capitol’ era. Brian himself isn’t speaking in the doc but an impressive number of his friends and colleagues are, including fellow band members David Marks (who got the push in 1964) and Bruce Johnston (who became Brian’s tour replacement in 1965 and has stayed with the band intermittently thereafter). Backing musicians Carol Kaye and Hal Blaine, who played on all the band’s recordings from 1965-68, are in there somewhere too and always make for good interviewees. The DVD also promises a great deal of unseen home movie footage and rarely seen TV clips – although whether its the usual shots from Leonard Bernstein’s show and the band’s tour of Europe in 1968 or something rarer I’m not yet sure. More news if and when.
♫ CSN News: Alas the Rick-Rubin produced CSN album, which has been talked about since 2009 and discussed at length on these pages, doesn’t look like it’s going to happen now. The facts are still unclear but it looks as if CSN have got tired waiting for Rubin to finish his other projects – including working with Kid Rock who are OK but hardly in the trio’s league you have to say and Metallica, who are laughable – and have decided to walk out of the project. Alas it looks as if 2000’s ‘Looking Forward’ will remain the last time CSN/Y will be together in the studio at the time of writing and that’s such a loss not just to fans but to music lovers at large. The archive 1974 Wembley Stadium concert recording is still being planned for release, however, so all might not be lost for CSN fans in 2011, though the loss of the Rubin project – for which the band signed a much-needed seven-figure sum of money – is a huge blow for a band that’s been without a major label deal for 17 years now. For goodness sake, if the Spice Girls can get a recording contract with no hassle, surely the world’s greatest band can too?!
♫ Human League News: The band’s first album for nine years, titled ‘Credo’, is finally out next month – only the 10th studio release of the band’s 32-year career! Personally I really liked the poorly-received ‘Secrets’ of 2001 – or bits of it at least - so I‘m willing to take the uniformly bad reviews for this new album with a pinch of salt. More news when the record is finally out.
♫ Monkees News: An extended version of Eric Lefcowitz’s good but ridiculously short biography ‘The Monkees’ has just been released, now titled ‘Monkee Buisness: The Revolutionary Made-For-TV Band’. The original, which ended with the 1980s three-way reunion, has been expanded to take the story up to the present day (not that a lot has happened with the band since 1997 to be honest) and gone into greater detail than before. A good introduction to Monkees newbies, but personally if you’re a Monkeephile I’d recommend any of Andrew Sandoval’s books on the band.
♫ Oasis News: ‘Beady Eye’, Liam Gallagher’s new band with fellow latter-day band members Gem Archer and Andy Bell, are due to release their new album ‘Different Gear, Still Speeding’ in February. This will be the first release by any of the band since their split in the Summer of 2009, although rumours are that Noel Gallagher has been sitting on his first solo album for a while (but wanted to take time off to look after his new-born child and doesn’t want to compete directly with Liam’s band). Beady Eye already have a single available to download from their website, as mentioned here a few issues back, ‘Bring The Light’, backed by a cover of World Of Twist’s song ‘Sons Of The Stage’.
♫ Rolling Stones News: There’s been an unusual Rolling Stones reunion last month, with three members of the band from different eras uniting in a benefit concert for London’s ‘100 Club’ where members of the band and several others played in their early 1960s beginnings. Dick Taylor (one of the founding Stones who left to join The Pretty Things in 1962), Mick Taylor (guitarist with the band between 1969 and 1974) and his replacement Ronnie Wood (guitarist 1976-present) joined forces to raise money to keep the club open. Owners say that a recent hike in rent means that the club – which had been running under its present name since 1964, which must surely be some sort of record – will have to either charge double the current amount to get in or close for good. The target to raise is £500,000 and £150,000 has been made so far.
♫ The Who News: We mentioned on these pages a while back that a planned deluxe re-issue of ‘Quadrophenia’ had been cancelled – well, it’s back on the schedules for release this Summer to coincide with a new tour of the rock opera by the two-man Who, last performed complete in 1996. Which comes as surprising news to us, seeing as they’d all but announced their split the last time the band were on our news page! More news if and when...
♫ Neil Young News: We don’t often plug other publications on these pages, but the Feb 2011 issue of Mojo has a rather interesting Neil Young issue this month, with various artists discussing his best work – including AAA members David Crosby, Nils Lofgren and Paul McCartney (two of which think ‘Old Man’ is Neil’s greatest song, interestingly!) Nils also writes an interesting article on meeting the Neilster, although as ever the cover CD – made up of covers of Neil’s worst-album-of-the-70s ‘Harvest’ by people I’ve never heard of plus ‘I Can’t Let Go’ writer Chip Taylor – is mind-numbingly awful. Apologies for the late posting – my copy of the magazine went missing and/or is heavily delayed by the snow so I’ve only just managed to buy a new copy! STOP PRESS: owing to the idiosyncrasies of the postal department this Winter I have just received my subscription copy of Mojo and now have an issue going spare if any like-minded Neil Young wants a copy? Just email me your address (to firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll email it to you in return for a comment on our forum or two...
ANNIVERSARIES: Happy birthday to the following AAA superstars (January 19-25th): Janis Joplin, who would have turned 68 on January 19th and Eric Stewart (guitarist, keyboardist and engineer with 10cc 1972-83, 1992 and 1995) who turns 66 on January 22nd. Anniversaries of events include: The Beatles are offered $30 million to reform by promoter Bill Seregant – a ridiculous amount for a one-off gig at the time and one that Lennon and McCartney at least seriously considered before saying no (January 19th 1976); The Beatles’ first proper American LP ‘Meet The Beatles’ is released, combining tracks from the first two UK releases (January 20th 1964); George Harrison becomes the second Beatle to get hitched, marrying Patti Boyd at Epsom Registry Office after a courtship involving filming on ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ (January 21st 1965); John Lennon’s first posthumous single – the unfinished ‘Nobody Told Me’ – hits the American charts (January 21st 1984); Those bad boys The Rolling Stones are at it again – this time getting into trouble for refusing to join the other guests at the finale of ‘Sunday Night At The London Palladium’ (January 22nd 1967); Brian Epstein officially becomes The Beatles’ manager after signing a contract to that effect, surprisingly late after meeting him 18 months earlier (January 24th 1962); Brian Wilson divorces first wife Marilyn after 15 years – the pair met at an early Beach Boys gig when Brian accidentally knocked hot chocolate down her dress and she goes on to be the Beach Boys’ greatest muse during the 1960s, inspiring many songs (January 24th 1979) and finally, JohnandYoko celebrate the start of a new decade in style, declaring 1970 to be ‘year one’ and shaving off their hair for charity (January 25th 1970).
Lindisfarne’s song about their home town ‘doon the Tyne’ set me thinking – how many other AAA bands have written about their home town – or adopted home town – in song? Now, this is a pretty big subject and takes in all corners of the globe (though no prizes for guessing that the UK and USA dominate the list as we have it here) so I’ll bet I’ve missed some AAA songs out along the way – let me know on the forum if you can think of any. For now, though, here, in order, of popularity is this week’s top five of the most mentioned home towns in AAA music (and I’ll be dead impressed if you guess which city/town/region/state comes first – I didn’t see that coming!):
5) London (four mentions): Homeland of The Kinks and The Rolling Stones, although surprisingly perhaps only the former have mentioned it in song. ‘Waterloo Sunset’ is the track that everybody knows, an eerie atmospheric ballad about two lovers that – as Ray admitted on the Imagine documentary over Christmas – was a private song he nearly didn’t release because he didn’t think anybody else would relate to it (the actual inspiration comes from a childhood illness that saw Ray in hospital, with a large window looking out onto the bridge his only companion for several days). There are two other Kinks-related song dedicated to London – ‘Muswell Hillbillies’ a countryish account of the district where the Davies brothers grew up (the band even appear in their local Muswell Hill pub on the cover) and ‘London Song’, Ray’s eccentric rock song about what it means to be a Londoner, born in the ‘cold, dark, mysterious place’ ‘between the four bells’ which can be heard in two very different arrangements on his live album ‘The Storyteller’. Paul McCartney and Wings, meanwhile, dedicate both a song and an album to ‘London Town’ (where ‘silver rain was falling down’) – something that must have come as a bit of a shock to his record company, as the album was recorded for the most part on two boats in the Bahamas!
4) California (four mentions): Homeland of The Beach Boys, who have of course mentioned it several times in song. ‘California Girls’ is the most famous, a song full of tribute to how the local girls are the prettiest anywhere in the world and a cover of close friends The Mamas and The Papas’ ‘California Dreamin’ is just as well known if not in this version (look out for the Beach Boys comp ‘Summer Dreams’ if you don’t already own it). However, a mention too for the band’s last great paen to their homeland – the three-part ‘California Saga’ from the album named, erm, ‘Holland’ of all things, which is dedicated to the multi-century history of the American state and how it was formed ‘from the beaks of eagles’ (or something like that – Mike Love’s monologue in the middle section usually puts me to sleep!) Finally, Brian Wilson has returned at last to the ‘California’ theme for his last album of original material ‘That Lucky Old Sun’ with a moving ‘Southern California’ ending his most autobiographical album to date with an emotional tale of getting back to your roots.
3) New York (four mentions): The adopted homeland of Simon and Garfunkel, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, among others. The latter pair even made an album called ‘Sometime In New York City’, but for the purposes of this review we’re sticking to just the songs. ‘Midsummer New York’ is a little-heard Yoko rocker about the town she moved to in her late teens, long before she met Lennon, and is filled with a raw edgyness and angst that works well with the retro backing. Simon and Garfunkel, meanwhile, made two songs about their nearest home town as well as two famous concerts in Central Park, announced as a ‘neighbourhood concert’ by the singers on stage. ‘The Only Living Boy In New York’ is Paul Simon alone, tying up the loose ends on the final S+G album ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ and wondering where his partner has gone (he’s actually filming for the movie ‘Catch 22’), bemoaning the fact he has no one to relate to and is now ‘The Only Living Boy In New York’ (before you ask, Art is ‘Tom’ in the song – the pseudonym Garfunkel used in the pair’s earliest days as ‘Tom and Jerry’). Art solo, meanwhile, covered the Gallagher and Lyle song ‘A Heart In New York’ (on the album ‘Scissors Cut’ , 1981), a song of awe about the narrator’s surroundings on his first visit to the city. For a different view of New York, see 10cc’s pairing Godley and Creme lampooning what they see as the falseness and artificiality of the place on ‘An Englishman In New York’, where a tourist is badly out of his depth in a world of kitsch and people trying to pinch his money. I’m still waiting for a reply to this song spoofing 10cc’s home town: ‘An American in Stockport’! And remember, those ‘I Love NY’ t-shirts you keep saying are really worn by AAA fans declaring their love for Neil Young!
2) Liverpool (four mentions): Home town to the Beatles, obviously, as well as The Searchers, with mentions in song by three separate Beatles plus a song by our old friends Lindisfarne about the town they christened their ‘second favourite’ after Newcastle! The obvious Beatles song is, of course, ‘Penny Lane’, a typical McCartney song that might have a story in there somewhere but probably doesn’t, all held together with a wonderfully nostalgic tune that keeps walking it’s owner straight back to the starting point. John Lennon, meanwhile added Liverpool to his song for Yoko ‘You Are Here’ from the ‘Mind Games’ album, with the lovely line about how far the pair have come ‘From Liverpool to Tokyo – what a way to go!’ Ringo, meanwhile, is downright grumpy on his song ‘The Other Side Of Liverpool’ from 2010’s ‘Y Not?’, putting the backs of the people of his home town up yet again with the line ‘Liverpool is cold and damp – the only way out of there, drums, guitar and amp’ (I live near Liverpool and the animosity towards Ringo’s last two albums in the shops for his comments – where I was actually growled at by one shop assistant for daring to buy this album – is huge and fierce still). Lindisfarne’s mournful ‘100 Miles To Liverpool’ from their otherwise disastrous ‘Dance Your Life Away’ album, meanwhile, finds a tired and bored band embarking on a bus for their latest gig – only to meet with two Scouse long-term fans along the way and feeling inspired all over again. Aah.
1) Los Angeles (five mentions): Surprisingly Los Angeles (or L.A. as its most commonly referred to in song) wins by a nose – even though none of the AAA bands actually come from there! First up is The Beach Boys’ ‘LA Light Album’ (where light refers to ‘the awareness and presence of God, here in this world, as an ongoing, loving reality’ according to the sleeve-notes in case you were wondering!) Next is Art Garfunkel’s second song of Americana balladry ’99 Miles From L.A.’ (from our AAA classic album ‘Breakaway’ 1975), with the narrator desperate to get home. The Grateful Dead, meanwhile – the closest to an AAA band from LA although in truth they’re scattered from all over the place – went for the eerie ‘West L.A. Fadeaway’ on their 1987 ‘comeback’ ‘In The Dark’, with Jerry Garcia’s narrator looking for his hotel room and realising they all look the same. 10cc have plumped for hilarity again, sending up a town, on ‘L.A. Inflatable’ (from the album ‘Look, Hear’) where nothing is as it seems and everything is false. Finally, ending this list is Neil Young’s song from ‘Time Fades Away’, simply titled ‘L.A.’, which has veers from being eerie to being the sweetest song on a troubled album – ‘don’t you wish that you could be here too?’ indeed.
Towns and cities just bubbling under include: Paris (The Grateful Dead visit it, Stephen Stills spends midnight there and 10cc the whole of ‘eun nuit’) Mexico (Jefferson Airplane enjoy the ‘smoke’ during a drugs raid and Beach Boy Dennis Wilson names a breezy instrumental after the country), Cambridge (various Pink Floyd songs about Grantchester Meadows and Fat Old Suns), Kansas (as in Beatles cover ‘Kansas City’ and Cat Stevens’ Kanasas City Nightmare’), Amsterdam/ Holland (The Beach Boys name an album after the former and Jack The Lad a song after the latter), Tokyo (10cc sing it’s praises and Denny Laine the bad luck there when colleague Paul McCartney suffers a drugs bust there), there’s three visits to Hollywood with The Byrds (when Mae Jean goes to visit, whoever she may be), The Monkees (who simply name a song ‘Hollywood’ for no good reason) and 10cc (who are there ‘somewhere’!) and finally, how we could go without mentioning Cleveland just once? (The sheer hatred of the place from various Jefferson Starship songs – and as the possible inspiration for The Kinks’ ‘Welcome To Sleazy Town’ – makes me determined never to set foot there!)
Well, that’s it for another issue – wherever you live, wherever you’re reading this, we’ll see you next time!