Friday, 14 October 2011
Dear friends, good news! (at long last, some good news!) I now have broadband – just in time to see our stats counter move perilously near the magical 10,000 hits mark. Be sure to receive a ‘thankyou’ not when it does if you’re one of our regular members and have written into us or sent me your email address/twitter feed/facebook link etc– I can’t promise anything more than a clipart cake but, well, thankyou for your support all the same. Having the internet at home means no more trips to the library only to find the computer’s not working, furiously writing in order to make a deadline before they close and hopefully more time to sort out our ongoing technical problems. The site t35.com is back by the way – I’m in the process of transferring all my files across which hopefully means I won’t have to post all the links again (which took me flipping hours the last time they went wrong at Easter). I may have to revert back to making these newsletters fortnightly when my hideously long form comes but still, I’m a newsletter ahead of myself at the moment so that shouldn’t be so bad. They can’t keep us down, eh, no matter what they throw at us! Good music will always endure (heard any Spice Girls on the radio recently? Me neither!) And we’ll do our best to make sure that we endure, even if we have to go through as many variations and line-up changes as our featured band The Jefferson Airplane. First, though, the news...
♫ Grateful Dead News: The Grateful Dead Movie is coming to DVD! Well, eventually, apparently the DVD set has been delayed until 2012 already, but the blu-ray version of this concert film is hitting shops this week apparently. The film, which is largely made up of the Dead’s ‘farewell’ shows from 1974 (before their 18 month hiatus) has been out of print for years, ever since a video copy in the early 1990s, and also features footage of favourite band haunts and other fan friendly footage (such as the ‘Mars Hotel’ as featured on the ‘Mars Hotel’ cover getting knocked down!) The set also features five hours of extras! More news if and when...
♫ Pink Floyd News: Poor BBC6, they always arrive late to the party, even if they do often arrive with the greatest presents. Following on from a fortnight ago’s BBC4 Floyd Night (and to tie-in with the latest re-issues – and please have a look at some older issues if you want to know more because I’m sick of writing about them!) there’s a full 10 hours or so devoted to the band. The programmes start in the early hours of Friday, October 7th, skip a few hours till the evening and continue to the early hours of the following Saturday. They’re a mixture of the usual BBC repeats we see often on BBC6 (the Syd Barrett doc was only on again this Summer), some very old repeats we haven’t heard in ages (the ‘Record Producers’ doc) and some exciting looking news ones (A whole hour of Pink Floyd at the BBC, all of which is unavailable on CD (even though bits and pieces have been repeated)? Fantastic!) For the record here’s the full list of programmes:
12am and 3am ‘Wish You’d Been Here – The Story Of Pink Floyd’ (in two parts, first broadcast 2005 or there abouts)
7pm ‘Now Playing – A Pink Floyd Special’ (various Floyd records)
9pm ‘Record Producers – Pink Floyd’ (I never quite understood how the Floyd were ‘producers’, perhaps they’d been better off looking at Hurricane Smith, producer of the first album? Still an excellent series – I hope they repeat the 10cc one sometime soon too because that was fabulous!, circa 2007)
10.30pm ‘The Producer’s Playlist’ – yet more Floyd records, though with a more unusual slant: the producer’s favourite Floyd record is apparently ‘Fearless’ from 1972’s ‘Meddle’ LP, not a track you ever hear too often!
11pm ‘Floyd At The BBC’ – I can’t wait: Peel Sessions, In Concert recordings, all unreleased on CD and all unrepeated since first broadcast, barring two 15 min sessions that have been on BBC6 before
1am ‘Desert Island Discs – Roger Waters’ – the bassist’s surprisingly humble and chatty interview-with-music-choices programme from last year. Well worth hearing iof you haven’t already
3.30-5.30am ‘The Thing About Syd’ (in 2 parts, 2006): Another repeat for this bitty but entertaining doc broadcast soon after the madcap’s death. A fitting tribute, but not a patch on the TV version broadcast a couple of years before his death
Radio 2 are always late to every party and have a mixed record with documentaries: their new documentary ‘Days In The Life Of Pink Floyd’ is a diary-based version of the usual story and is broadcast on Monday, October 10th at 10pm.
ANNIVERSARIES: Happy birthday greetings to AAA members born between October 11th and 17th: Paul Simon who turns 70 on October 13th, Justin Hayward (guitarist with The Moody Blues 1967-present) who turns 65 on October 14th and Bob Weir (guitarist with The Grateful Dead 1965-95) who turns 64 on October 16th. Anniversaries of events include: The Beatles receive their first ever gold disc, for ‘She Loves You’ a year and a week after their first ‘proper’ release (October 11th 1963); The Beatles’ prestigious TV gig on ‘Saturday Night At The London Palladium’ (October 13th 1963); The Who release their milestone single ‘I Can See For Miles’ (October 13th 1967); Janis Joplin’s ashes are scattered off the coast of California after nearly a year of legal hold-ups (October 13th 1971); Grace Slick, then still with her first band The Great Society, makes her first on-stage appearance with the Jefferson Airplane after their singer Signe Anderson leaves to have a baby (October 14th 1966); Pink Floyd play their first major gig at the launch party for underground newspaper International Times (October 15th 1966); The Kinks release their all important follow-up to ‘You Really Got Me’, ‘All Day And All Of The Night’ (October 16th 1964) and finally, The Beatles make their first TV appearance, singing ‘Some Other Guy’ at the Cavern Club for TV show ‘People And Places’ (October 17th 1962) .
News, Views and Music Issue 116 (Top Five): AAA debut singles that sum up their whole ouevre first go!
Some groups spend years of apprenticeship, following a completely different path to the one that will eventually see them utilise their talents (The Moody Blues, originally an R and B combo rather than a psychedelic splendourasaurus, are the best AAA example, but did anyone else see the hard rocking Status Quo’s first flower power single on Sounds of the 60s the other week?!) Others know exactly what they want to say from the very beginning and spend the rest of their career developing the song that made them superstars. Others – like the Airplane – overwhelmed the ship that created them and made everything they did sound typical, but from their second single onwards. So this week here are our five biggest examples of dedbut singles that make perfect sense given what we know is to come in an artists’s canon:
1) The Who ‘I Can’t Explain’ (single, 1965): Every single Who song is about struggling to communicate something – be it love, anger, annoyance or just general frustration. Relevant enough to stay in the band’s sets right up to the present day – usually as the opening number for the band’s shows – ‘I Can’t Explain’ somehow manages to sound very 1965 (all power chords, riffs, angles and heavily based on The Kinks’ ‘You Really Got Me’) and very in keeping with other periods in the band’s life (‘Quadrophenia’s sulky mod teenager clearly loves the song in the film of the same name, whilst even the deeper numbers on ‘Who’s Next’ and ‘Who By Numbers’ are about struggling to get your thoughts together coherently and express your identity). Perhaps the biggest example of ‘developing’ this theme is ‘Tommy’: a deaf, dumb and blind kid who experiences life as a series of ‘vibrations’, not a million miles away from the overwhelmed, inarticulate narrator of this song.
2) The Monkees ‘Last Train To Clarksville’ (single, 1966): Why were writers Boyce and Hart never given full carte blanche to record ‘their’ band when their first two songs are The Monkees theme (which summed up the TV series superbly, long before any of it was written) and this first single, which saw the band make #1 on the American charts two whole months before the series aired (so much for The Monkees only getting by thanks to publicity!) ‘Clarksville’, based on the writer’s memory of Beatles single ‘Paperback Writer’ having heard the fade of the single on radio, is everything The Monkees were at the start of the project: wild-eyed, exciting, happy and upbeat with an edge. No wonder they used it so many times in the TV series: it just has the zany Monkees quality in spades. Needless to say, the band still do it in concert to this day and it was one of their biggest hits, outsold only by ‘I’m A Believer’.
3) Grateful Dead ‘The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)’ (single, 1966): Not a hit single so much as a message of intent, this was a terribly daring song for the day. A musical fusion of blues and psychedelia, it’s lyrics implore the audience to give up their ‘straight’ lives in favour of running off and ‘joining the circus, every day’. The way ahead for the hippie is bright, hopeful, peaceful and yet still quite ominous the way the Dead deliver it here. Another reason that makes this such a typical Dead song, despite the early vintage with lyrics by Jerry Gracia in the pre-Robert Hunter era, is the way the lyrics reference the band’s audience, talking about the different girls they see at concerts. If only all circuses had been like this one!
4) Oasis ‘Supersonic’ (single, 1994): Angry, passionate and already adept at making social statements, ‘Supersonic’ sounds like every other Oasis song in their early period. In fact, it arrived at the ‘Definitely Maybe’ sessions comparatively late but was seized on by the band as being a good choice for a debut single that they could then ‘develop’. A song about feeling high and elated and wanting to share the feeling with the world, it fitted many of the band’s bright and breezy early songs which caught the mood of the day in the post-Thatcher, post-recession days better than most artists around at the time. The gap between this debut single’s innocent flair and last single ‘Falling Down’s hopeless helplessness couldn’t be more pronounced.
5) Small Faces ‘What’cha Gonna Do ‘Bout It?’(single, 1966): Actually, I was struggling to find a fifth record for this list. After all, what Beatles fan would rate ‘Love Me Do’ as a summation of their pop career (good as it was for 1962), The Beach Boys’ ‘Surfin’ Safari’ (ditto 1961) or The Rolling Stones’ pale attack on Chuck Berry’s ‘Cmon’. Most fans would probably stick The Kinks in this list – but no, ‘You Really Got Me’ is actually the third single (the first was a raw and mangled cover of ‘Long Tall Sally, much against Ray Davies’ wishes). The closest I can manage is this raw and primitive Small faces single, one that’s short on the subtlety they bring to their later songs but still nevertheless features a distinctive and very Small faces-y power riff and their usual trick of featuring happy go lucky verses with gruff and angry choruses. Not as distinguished as later Small Faces songs, but every bit as reflective of its era and with Steve Marriott already the most charismatic singer in pop and rock, this single still manages to sum up the band’s mix of irreverent humour and deadly serious earnestness pretty darn well.
That’s it for another week. Remember, keep sending in your comments – we now have a ‘blog’ page so you can comment on individual posts – and remember, just because the Coalition try to take things away from you that doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to them. Let’s show them eh, my fellow rock and rollers?