Monday, 21 February 2011
Hello and welcome to a very special occasion for us at Alan’s Album Archives. David Cameron’s got the sack!!! Err, no sorry, we got a bit carried away there but it can only be a matter of time given his dodgy views about cuts, multi-culturalism and Egypt’s democracy this week – no we mean it’s our 200th article! Well, OK, I know what you’re thinking, it says ‘news and views no 92’ up there – but bear with us because we’ve had 101 reviews, five ‘specials’ reviewing new releases and two April Fool’s Day articles which by my reckoning makes this article 200! As a result, we’re looking back to both the distant past (as far as this site’s concerned anyway) and the future this week. 200 Issues eh? Who’d’ve thought it?! Well, us, actually, after all we really wanted to get as far with this project as we could – but I must admit the road ahead looks rocky and short rather than long and winding like we’d hoped. We only have two weeks’ worth of test trading now and we’ve not made anything like the amount of money we wanted to keep us afloat as a fully functioning viable business (please keep helping us out by buying from our Amazon links if you’re in a shopping mood!), but on the plus side we have a much bigger following now than before and hope to keep plugging away at this site for the foreseeable future. In the meantime we’re on 4700 odd hits, with Rolling Stones albums and Who albums still our most popular searches and have had around 200 hits for our YouTube videos. Oh and we’ve now lost our Sims disc, just as The Beatles were getting on quite well (we never did quite turn John Lennon into a five-star star but, never mind, did I ever tell you how well we’re doing on TV Tycoon with our Beatles and Monkees re-runs?!) It must be those CD pixies stealing my things again, only they’re branching out into CD-roms (weirdly enough, I’ve been reading a lot recently about invisible goblins who live only in my current home country of Lancashire and follow people around to steal things from them – if so, hoi! Stop it and give me my disc back! Well, you never know, there must be some reason why my things keep disappearing...) Alright, enough plugs for the ‘Haunted Liverpool’ books, on with the proper news now...
♫ Beatles News: Last issue we went to press a day too soon to tell you about the ITV programme ‘I Was There...When The Beatles Played The Cavern’ (broadcast last Wednesday, but probably available on some technological monstrosity out there somewhere on the internet for another month). It was the usual kind of thing but well put together, with contributions from Pete Best and the great merseybeat group Undertakers as well as some nice bits from the archives featuring those sadly no longer with us such as Alaistar Taylor, Bob Wooler and the Cavern doorman. The production team used more of the famous Beatles Cavern performance of ‘Some Other Guy’ from 1962 than we’ve seen in some years (though the superlative 1980s doc ‘The Early Beatles’ is still the only place where you can see the footage complete) as well as some great footage of Gerry and the Pacemakers and The Kinks playing their own sets at the Cavern. Well worth looking out for.
♫ Lindisfarne News: I’ve finally seen a copy of the Lindisfarne set ‘The Charisma Years’ which came out at the tail end of last year. It’s a four CD set containing the first three Studio Lindisfarne albums (before the 1972 break-up), the ‘Lindisfarne Live’ album and ‘Roll On Ruby’, the first album by Lindisfarne Mark II (although strangely the follow-up, the superior ‘Happy Daze’, is missing). Apart from the bonus of getting these albums – all of them quite rare nowadays, barring ‘Nicely Out Of Tune’ and ‘Fog On The Tyne’ – collectors get the bonus of a few extra bonus tracks on each album, including the 1970 outtake ‘My Window’ and a few alternate mixes of the ‘Ruby’ tracks, as well as the usual bonus tracks from the 1990s CD re-issues. All in all, a nice set if you don’t own these albums already (and if you have any interest in any of the artists on our site you should own it, the first three albums at least!)
ANNIVERSARIES: Happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear the-following-list-names, happy birthday to you all (February 16th-22nd): Yoko Ono who turns 78 on February 18th and Alan Hull (singer-songwriter with Lindisfarne 1970-74 and 1978-95) who would have been 66 on February 20th. Anniversaries of events include: The Beatles leave the cold winter weather of Britain to fly out to India to study transcendental meditation under the Maharishi (albeit only John, Cynthia, George and Patti fly out on this day, February 16th 1968); The Beatles release their first recordings after an unprecedented six-month gap, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ and ‘Penny Lane’ (February 17th 1967); Pink Floyd premiere their new live show ‘Eclipse: Songs for Assorted Lunatics’ which, after a few changes, becomes the album ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ (February 17th 1972); The Beach Boys release their last album for four years ‘Holland’ (February 17th 1972); John Lennon releases his last album before his four-year sabbatical, the covers album ‘Rock and Roll’ (February 17th 1975); The Who release their first single (under that name at least) ‘I Can’t Explain’ (February 18th 1965); David Gilmour officially joins Pink Floyd, appearing alongside an ailing Syd Barrett for a few shows before taking over the role completely (February 18th 1968); Lulu marries Bee Gee Maurice Gibb in a Buckinghamshire Church at the age of just 20! (February 18th 1969); Otis Redding releases his best-selling album ‘Otis Blue’ (AAA album no 4, remember!; February 19th 1966); Paul McCartney and Wings have their single ‘Give Ireland Back To The Irish’ banned by the BBC (February 19th 1972); George Harrison is found guilty of plagiarising The Chiffons’ ‘He’s So Fine’ on ‘My Sweet Lord’ in one of the silliest court cases that has ever been held (February 19th 1976); The Hollies release their ‘breakthrough’ hit ‘Just One Look’ (February 21st 1963); Simon and Garfunkel release their last album as a duo ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ (February 21st 1964); The Beatles start filming their second movie ‘Help!’ in London (February 22nd 1965); 10cc sign to their second label ‘Mercury’ after a two-album deal with the UK label (February 22nd 1975) and finally, John Lennon scores his last hit record for six years with ‘No 9 Dream’ (February 22nd 1975).
And so ends our 200th issue. Will we make it to a 1000? To 300? Or struggle to get to 210?! Who knows. Another thing we don’t know is whether the few remaining gems in the AAA canon yet to have a CD release will get one by the time we reach the end of our journey. I’ve been dying to review some of the rarer and greater albums out there but I’m aware that the reader will have trouble finding some of them (not that that’s stopped me on a couple of albums that are just too great not to tell you about!) So here are the five albums that we’d most like to see on CD as of 2011 and article 200 – we’ll update you nearer the end of our lifespan to tell you if we ever managed to achieve a release for these forgotten gems!
5) Davy Jones “Davy Jones” (1966): Before Davy was in The Monkees the Colgems subsidiary label released their own self-titled album of the Mancunian who they were already grooming for stardom. Without much publicity and a retro 1950s sound completely out of step with the middle of the 1960s, it bombed completely but the single I own is impressive in a kind of cutesy teenybopper kind of way and I’m sure there’d be enough of a Monkees following to pay back the costs of re-issuing this set. You can see the album cover in the Monkees TV episode ‘Monkees at the Movies’ where the quartet are trying to fool a film producer that Davy is a ‘star’ – no wonder the band manage to put a mock-up album together so fast, seeing as it was a year old at the time of shooting! The same goes for later Monkees releases such as, well, ‘Release’, Peter Tork’s post-Monkees band who recorded an album in the early 70s that never came out and Micky Dolenz’s few post-Monkees releases (especially his album of duets with his sister Coco, ‘Micky Dolenz Puts You To Sleep!’) Mike Nesmith’s ‘Tropical Campfires’ wasn’t exactly available for long either.
4) The Beatles “Live At The Hollywood Bowl” (recorded 1964 and 1965, released 1977): When I tell people that a top 10 Beatles album has still never appeared on CD they think I’m monkeynuts or lying – not true, even if this live concert amalgam isn’t exactly a Beatles-promoted release. EMI were quite desperate for money in the late 1970s – some things never change – and instructed George Martin to have a go at salvaging the only officially recorded Beatles concert. After years of telling a sceptical press ‘the recording was so bad we couldn’t possibly use it’, George Martin was forced to do just that, remixing the album to take out some of the louder screams and sticking two concerts haphazardly together (both shows sound much better when heard complete I have to say, especially the later 1965 one when Lennon especially is on cracking form). Amazingly, despite all the fuss we have every few Beatles when the band/label start on a re-issue frenzy (2009’s remastered set and rockband game, 2004’s ‘Love’ 1995-6’s ‘Anthology’ and 1993’s ‘Live At The BBC’) the only official Beatles concert still remains absent from our shelves. Strange, especially considering that it was John and George who objected to its release the first time around – and neither Beatle is around to protest anymore. It also makes far more sense as a marketing exercise than the whole Love re-mix project which I still don’t understand, especially now we know EMI were working on the re-mastered albums in their entirety for some time before commissioning that project.
3) Grace Slick “Dreams” (1980): You’d think that the lead singer of a best-selling band with a huge cult following would have all of her fairly strong-selling albums back on catalogue wouldn’t you? But no, the only one of Grace’s albums available is 1973’s ‘Manhole’ and even that disappeared a long time ago (I won’t go into the travesty that’s the Grace Slick compilation ‘Somebody To Love?’ here, which passes over so many great solo tracks for worn out Jefferson songs). 1981’s ‘Welcome To The Wrecking Ball’ and 1985’s ‘Software’ are both pretty rare these days, but rarest of all is possibly the best album Grace was ever on, the largely autobiographical ‘Dreams’. Recorded when Grace had been booted out of the band for her problems with alcoholism this is a mature, consistent and exceptional work (which we’ve already covered in full in ‘news and views’ 39) which deserves pride of place in every Jefferson Airplane/Starship fans’ catalogue. So where the hell is it?! (Starship’s last two albums ‘No Protection’ and ‘Love Among The Cannibals’ are missing on CD too, but we’re not so concerned with that!)
2) Hotlegs aka 10cc “Thinks...School Stinks” a.k.a. “You Didn’t Like It Because You Didn’t Think About It” (1970): The first time the four members of the original 10cc were together on record, this album should be big news – not least because it’s actually a good deal more enjoyable than at least half of the band’s proper releases. And yet ask even some of the band’s biggest fans about it today and they’ll scratch their heads in amazement. We last heard about this album back in 1974 when 10cc were at their sales peak with ‘I’m Not In Love’ – and its never been seen since, except at second hand record fairs and the odd charity shop. Fair enough that it hasn’t been released in some form up till now – the band reportedly aren’t that keen on it and Graham Gouldmann is more of a guest than a fulltime member here. But for goodness sake, this album spawned a #2 hit with ‘Neanderthal Man’ and could have earned its creators quite a few extra royalties at a time when they needed them most (I’m sure fans would rather have had this album on CD than either of the two reunion monstrosities, albums made for money not artistic worth). See ‘news and views no 36’ for more about why this album’s non-appearance is nothing short of a travesty!)
1) Neil Young “Time Fades Away” (1973): His Neilness infamously hated digital technology so much when it came out that he refused to let some of his favourite among his albums out in the new format (a point that’s hardly mentioned here – was he just getting his own back on Stephen Stills, again, the first musician ever to use the technology back in the late 70s?!) Anyway, there always used to be six important Neil Young records you still couldn’t buy till five or so years ago: ‘Journey Through The Past’ ‘On The Beach’ ‘American Stars ‘n’ Bars’ ‘Hawks and Doves’ and ‘Re-Actor’ and this one. The others have all appeared in dribs and drabs over the years since (though ‘Journey’ for one seems to have disappeared almost as soon as it came out), but ‘Time Fades Away’ is still notable by its absence, despite being one of the darker and more important milestones in Neil’s recording career. The first album in Neil’s ‘doom trilogy’, recorded in the aftermath of Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten’s overdose death, its also Neil’s first live album, albeit made up of a ragged version of all-new songs with Crosby and Nash singing the most out-of-tune harmonies of their careers. Any album containing Neil’s most revealing track ‘Don’t Be Denied’, the jagged hypnotic ‘Last Dance’ and a whole bunch of yearning piano ballads deserves to be better known, however.
Let’s hope all five of these albums – plus a few others we could name like Moody Blue John Lodge’s ‘Natural Avenue’, Byrd Gene Clark’s ‘Echoes’ and ‘Roadmaster’ and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters’ ‘The Body’ and Rick Wright’s ‘Wet Dream’ and ‘Zee’- all get CD re-issues before we write another 200 articles! See you on article 201!