Friday 4 November 2011

News, Views and Music Issue 120 (Intro)

November 4th:

Dear all, it’s been a bit of a nothing week as I try to recover from the huge workload of the last six weeks – and yes, my body is really feeling it now (Ow! And that’s not a Michael jackson type ‘ow!’ by the way) The only new to report is that our site has now passed 10,500 hits (that’s 200 visitors a week for the past fortnight!) Our Alan’s Album Archive Artists haven’t exactly been busy either after the onslaught of the past month: just one new item for you this week. (STOP PRESS: Blooming heck there’s five of them now, just a few hours after writing that sentence – how did that happen?!) We do, however, have part two of our – so far – well received list of YouTube rarities for you to enjoy. Nothing to say, but it’s OK.


Beatles News: Last minute news the new George Harrison doc Living In The Material World will receive its UK TV premiere in two parts, spread across Saturday and Sunday, Thursday 12th and 13th. Running marginally shorter than the DVD version, the two programmes are on at 9.45pm and 9pm respectively on BBC2. Currently Im halfway through the DVD version and its a curious mixture of genuinely insightful interviews and snippets of film clips along with an awful lot of Anthology soundbites. The home footage of the Beatles larking around on holiday are priceless though and the Harrison family have taken the time to do all sorts of things above and beyond the call of duty, such as cleaning up the Hamburg Star Club tapes which is a terrific find! I just wish it was longer and rare although I havent seen the solo years doc yet so that could all change! The book, by the way, really is wonderful, with lots of Georges pictures of the Beatle years and holidays, although the best pictures for me are the reproductions of Georges schoolbooks, full of doodling for guitar sets ups (including my mate Paul on stage!) next to his homework! There are two other Beatle related docs on as well that week: The first doc is on Saturday at 11.20pm and is a repeat of the Timewatch film about Beatlemania, which is scatterbrained and messy but well worth watching for the snatches of rare footage of the mop tops on tour. Meanwhile Sunday at 11.05pm sees a new documentary called The Beatles on Record, which hopefully isnt just a repeat of the doc included in the box sets with yet another new name and sets to analyse how The Beatles matured during their eight year recording career.

Nils Lofgren News: By a nice coincidence, which seems to be becoming a common occurrence here at the AAA, five minutes after finishing my Nils Lofgren review Ive learnt that Nils will be the special guest appearing on the woefully strung-out Radio 2 celebrations for the Old Grey Whistle Test. Quite why theyve decided to dedicate a series of radio programmes to a TV show and then got the guests who are still alive to re-record music for it is anyones guess, but hey Ill forgive anything to hear Nils on the radio again. Nils episode is on this Wednesday, at 10pm on Radio 2.  

Monkees News: The latest (fifth?) in a series of Monkees specials by Rhino handmade has just been announced and the selection of the unloved Instant Replay has caught everyone by surprise (albeit its not actually that bad see news and views 64 for more). Theres actually a lot of prime unreleased or at least rare Monkees from this period to add to this set but no, Rhino have gone back to their new tactic of giving us alternate mixes of stuff we know several times over already (do we really need four versions of Through The Looking Glass? To be honest one was pushing it a bit for what I needed!) There is the first official issue of the TV special 33 and 1/3rd Revolutions Per Monkees special on CD, true, but Naked Permisson and the minute-long String For My Kite aside, you dont really want that either (and why no release for the bluesy Im A Beliver duet with Kulie Driscoll or the 20-minute version of Listen To The Band?!) Also, the box for the new set  makes a big thing out of having Mike Nesmiths early Nashville sessions so why not a) add some of the ones that are still in the vaults (about a third as much again compared to what came out at the time and on the three Missing Links sets) and b) put them all together in one place, instead of spreading them across 3 CDs? Rhino Handmade excelled themselves with the Headquarters Sessions box set lovingly annotated, in strict chronological order and full of two and a half CDs of backing tapes, outtakes, studio chat and alternate takes. But ever since then theyve been scarping the barrel and Instant Replay was an album that was already scarping pretty near to the bottom of the barrel in 1969. Just like most fans did the first time round in 1969, give this one a miss.

Oasis News: Noel Gallaghers High Flying Birds are live in concert on Radio 2 this Thursday, November 3rd at 8pm for two whole hours Im pleased to say! This will be Noels first full length concert and fans are intrigued as to what Noel will perform to fill up the time (apparently he does some Oasis songs and not just the usual ones either expect a review next week!) The concert is also being broadcast on the red button various days this week and next week starting with 4am on Friday, November 4th.

The Who News: A little addition to last weeks Pete Townshend John Peel lecture for you: as well as the radio slot on BBC6 at 7pm on Tuesday, October 31st, Pete will also be on the BBC red button at the same time and it will be repeated various times across the next few days before the weekend!

ANNIVERSARIES: Birthday greetings to AAA members born between November 8th and 14th: Ian Craig Marsh (synthesiser with the Human League 1979-81) who turns 55 on November 11th and Neil Young who turns 66 on November 12th. Anniversaries of events include: The Rolling Stones break the record for the most money earned for a single concert (£108,000) after a gig in Los Angeles, beating the previous record: The Beatles at Shea Stadium (November 8th 1969); The Human League officially split into two – Phil Oakey keeps the band name and gains two cocktail waitress singers whilst synthesiser experts Ian Craig Marsh and Martin Ware form Heaven 17 (November 8th 1980); David Crosby officially leaves The Byrds, to be replaced for a matter of weeks by his old colleague Gene Clark and leaving Crosby free to form CSN (November 9th 1967); The Moody Blues release their seminal single ‘Nights In White Satin’ (November 10th 1967); The Human League make their live debut in their hometown of Sheffield (November 12th 1980); The Moody Blues release their ‘other’ big seller ‘Go Now’ (November 13th 1964); Brian Jones buys the House at Pooh Corners, aka AA Milne’s house Catchford Farm in Sussex where the guitarist will later drown (November 13th 1967); The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine film premieres in America (November 13th 1968) and finally, Cat Stevens releases his landmark album ‘Teaser and the Firecat’ and Pink Floyd release their landmark album ‘Meddle’ on the same day (November 13th 1971).

News, Views and Music Issue 120 (Top Twenty): AAA Youtube Clips #2

This week it’s the second of our three-part special delving into the magical world of YouTube. You may remember that we covered a top five YouTube clips on our site round about 100 issues ago. Well, since then I’ve discovered so much more (and users have posted so much more) so this week here’s an extended version of that original top 10 – to the extent that it’s now a top 60! Now it goes without saying that YouTube is endless and I dare say there are millions of things I’ve missed out – (so why not point them out on our forum?), but this is the best of what I’ver discovered so far. The only rules to be included on this list are that the videos have to be ‘exclusive’ to YouTube – ie not available officially in any form as of the time of writing (though a couple of Hollies clips only got in by the skin of their teeth – see above). The results below can be anything an AAA member has ever done, including TV appearances, music videos, chat show appearances, concerts (though they have to be rare performances or rare songs or we’d just be listing whole track listings for ‘Smile’), adverts, interviews, rare bits of audio accompanied by pictures, all sorts in fact. Some groups are here more than others of course – partly because some groups have released absolutely every shot of them ever taken already on DVD and there’s nothing there to find or perhaps partly because I haven’t found the right links to take me to them yet despite looking for every AAA member in turn every few months or so – perhaps we’ll be able to a ‘top 100’ list in another 100 issues time? To view these clips, click on the YouTube links we’ve included and they should take you straight there to the heart of the action (apologies to our readers in the future when some of these links may have been taken down, but as of October 2011 they are all present and correct). Look out for 21-1 as our countdown continues next week! Oh and while you’re about it, if you’re a fellow YouTube member why not add me as a ‘friend’ on YouTube and you can have a look through my ‘playlists’ to see what was still interesting but not good enough to make the grade? (I’m Alansarchives if you hadn’t guessed!):

40) Crosby, Stills and Nash – live versions of tracks from aborted ‘covers’ album, 2009-2011 (Uncle John’s Band) (How Have You Been?) (You Can Close Your Eyes)

Alas the better quality videos of the first two clips have been taken down since I added them to my ‘favourites’, but no matter...When I heard that the planned CSN/Rick Rubin album of covers was officially cancelled earlier this year it broke my heart. CSN so need to record an album in the style of Johnny Cash’s ‘American’ albums (which Rubin produced) to restore their fanbase and critical standing to past glories and the clips of these three songs tentatively pencilled in for recording seemed like a promising place to start. ‘Uncle John’s Band’ is a great choice, a Grateful Dead song that pays back the debt the Dead owed CSN for this whole style of singing on their two low-budget albums from 1970. ‘Ruby Tuesday’ worked less well I thought, with the chorus booming in from nowhere every time the trio sing it unlike the subtle Stones original but no matter – this is a live recording, they could easily have fixed it and it’s a song that suits their soaring parts well. Thirdly, the audio clip of the band singing Lovin’ Spoonful’s John Sebastian’s ‘How Have You Been?’ (oh so nearly the fourth member of the band instead of Neil Young) dates from much earlier (1970?!) but was rumoured to be revived for the project. If so, it would have been terrific and has been haunting me greatly in the year or so since first hearing it. Finally, James Taylor’s ‘You Can Close Your Eyes’ is one of Taylor’s better songs and a nice choice to cover, really benefitting from three-part harmonies even in this poor quality live reading. What a waste. What a let down. Get back into the studio and record these songs anyway CSN, please, even if you do never get a chance to release them!

39) Pink Floyd “The Final Cut Video EP” (1983) (The Gunner’s Dream/The Final Cut) (Not Now John/The Fletcher Memorial Home)

If you, like me, have dying to see the rare-as-a-Floyd-reunion videos for ‘The Final Cut’ then you’ll be cheering both BBC4 for adding the best of the quartet ‘The Fletcher Memorial Home’ to the recent Floyd Miscelleny comp and cheering on YouTube posters for adding the above videos (actually they’re all on YouTube several times over, with this the clearest of the lot that I could find). Still unavailable officially (word was the four videos here were all going to appear as extras on The Wall Film deluxe edition but never showed – so why aren’t they included with the new remastered album then?) and for the most part fabulous, these four videos make the album story clearer by juxtaposing WW2 footage with the then-contemporary Falklands War to damning effect. The Floyd pull of a coup too by using the same actor who played ‘The Teacher’ in ‘The Wall’, the four videos giving this insufferable bully last seen ridiculing Pink’s ‘poetry’ a proper back story that sees him risking his life and limb for his country in 1939-45 only to be betrayed by the promised ‘post-war dream’ of equality and humanity that never appeared. Roger Waters is the only Floyd musician appearing on screen in any of these videos (and even then in silhouette only on the title track) on four of the five best recordings from the album (why no ‘Paranoid Eyes’?!), but don’t let that put you off – Floyd concerts always did their best to hide the band behind thir light shows and videos onstage too. The best of the four is undoubtedly the hilarious ‘Fletcher Memorial Home’, named for Roger’s conscientious objector dad who died in the war anyway at Anzio in 1944, that has The Teacher setting off to kill the inhabitants of the local dictator’s rest home (featuring Hitler, Napolean, Mussolini and – in a very daring move considering she was pm at the time – Margaret Thatcher; no Stalin by the way, which is interesting) only to find out that without all that power behind them these politicians are all just a bunch of hopeless loonies ‘playing’ at being important. As for the other clips, the big-musical-number-in-a-nuclear-plant that is ‘Not Now John’ will haunt you to your dying day just for it’s sheer...oddness, whilst seeing Roger consulting his bitter ‘Teacher’ personality on the title track, even in silhouette, is moving indeed.

38) Grace Slick and Graham Nash “Panda” (1989)

I’ve been trying to track down Nash’s short stint as a chat-show host on American TV for years (‘The Ring’ it was called) – alas this is all I’ve been able to find to date, but the clip’s a good one. Grace Slick is a year away from retirement and is showcasing the last real ‘song’ of her career, released officially on the ill-fated Jefferson Airplane reunion record of the same year. On record ‘Panda’ is an all-too cute and tuneless song about ecology, the sort of which we’ve heard hundreds of times before. But here, with fellow ecologically minded Nash in support (mastermind of the ‘No Nukes’ benefit concerts of 1979, don’t forget) and freed of its 80s synth trappings this seems like a whole new song. Who’d have thought too, nearly 30 years after they first met, that we’d finally get to hear Grace and Graham sing together without David Crosby or Paul Kantner or someone getting in the way – and who’d have thought their voices would have blended in so well? If the whole of the series was like this (and it should be – David Crosby was the next guest after Grace!) then it’ll be an unforgettable treat if it ever does turn up on YouTube!

37) Neil Young and Bert Jansch “Ambulance Blues” (2006)

I love Neil Young, I badly miss the late great Bert Jansch already, I so applaud the Young-organised Bridge School Benefits Concerts for handicapped children (such a range of artists playing on each other’s sets with such a feeling of goodwill about the whole thing) and I love...wait a minute, actually I’m not that keen on ‘Ambulance Blues’ unlike 99% of Neil’s fanbase. But this duet version is a revelation in many ways, presenting the song as one of a long line of folk songs rather than a subdued end to the subdued ‘On The Beach’ album and, thanks to Jansch’s presence, repaying what Neil owes to Jansch’s ‘Needle Of Death’ which is very similar to this song. (I guess that makes me one of the critics with their ‘stomach-pumps and hook and ladder dreams’ then – well all I can say is I’m looking forward to getting together with Neil ‘for some scenes’). A great performance from two great storytellers, one recovering from a brain aneurism, the other battling cancer (‘I guess I’ll call it sickness gone’) – magic. How sad that Neil’s one great line of the song is true: an ambulance really can only go so fast. But how great too to see two performers together who never knew how to give less than their all.

36) Lindisfarne – music videos for ‘Run From Home’, ‘Jukebox Gypsy’, ‘Call Of The Wild’ and ‘Fog On The Tyne’ (1978/79):

OK the quality’s not great and two of the videos end prematurely, but these clips are so rare – the only time you ever see Lindisfarne on TV at all these days is with the original ‘Fog’ clip or (shudder) the one where the band back footballer Paul Gascoigne’s laughable attempts to sing – that it’s welcome to have them in any state at all. All these clips come from the late 70s (‘Fog’ is to promote the re-issue of the song in the same period) and feature the reunited line-up on good form, before the ‘issues’ of the late 80s. ‘Run For Home’ and the outrageously risqué ‘Jukebox Gypsy’ both take place in a Newcastle pub called ‘The Turk’s Head’ (no surprises there then!), with the latter juxtaposed against a clearly freezing model dancing on the beach in her underwear! (It’s that kind of song!) ‘Fog’ takes place at Newcastle harbour on a clearly very freezing day, accompanied by what sounds like the rare re-recording of the song from the ‘C’mon Everybody’ rock and roll album. Best of all is ‘Call Of The Wild’ which features the whole band naked in a cage – who the hell talked them into doing that one?! Alan Hull manages to cope with the situation with dignity, almost, turning in a stellar performance as ever while the rest of the band just look cold – they all look a lot happier by the time we go to the zoo in the second verse, although poor Hully looks very nervous on top of a travelling hay wagon at the song’s end! Four rare time capsules from a sadly forgotten series of albums well worth looking out for.

35)  David Crosby at the Brian Wilson Tribute (circa 1998)

I’ve seen most of this so-called ‘tribute’ show by now and it’s toe-curling: lots of people with no talent wanting to be on telly singing songs they haven’t a clue to appreciate. The cover of ‘Surf’s Up’, one of the best songs from ‘Smile’, doesn’t start off any better, with Vince Gill doing some cod-Roy Orbison vibrato and Jimmy Webb treating the song like a series of questions rather than a metaphorical narrative. Then in comes Byrd/CSN man David Crosby on the third verse with those classy harmonies and all is forgiven. The performance goes up another notch with the addition of Crosby singing the ‘Children’s song...’ passage added underneath the song a la the original recording circa 1966, the most moving moment from the most moving album it has ever been my privilege to hear. Sure Crosby’s throat is creaky in places and the backing band clearly don’t have the ability to get the full depth of ‘Surfin’ USA’ never mind one of Brian’s deeper numbers, but what the hell – for a minute there I reached Nirvana (and no I flaming don’t mean Kurt Cobain!) Nice to see lyricist Van Dyke Parks in the audience too.

34) The Searchers – TV clips (from ‘Shindig!’) for ‘He’s Got No Love’, ‘Bumble Bee’, ‘Love Potion no 9’ and ‘Needles and Pins’ (1965), plus ‘When I Get Home’ and ‘Take Me For What I’m Worth’ (1967) (‘He’s Got No Love’) (‘Love Potion no 9’/’Bumble Bee’) (‘Needles and Pins’) (‘When I Get Home’) (‘Take Me For What I’m Worth’)

Goodness knows it’s hard to find any clip of The Searchers that isn’t ‘Sweets For My Sweet’ or the tuneless NME pollwinners version of ‘Don’t Throw Your Love Away’, so imagine my delight to find no less than six slices of rare Searchers from Shindig! The first three clips are of a band in transition – Tony Jackson, lead vocalist on a majority of the early recordings, has just been pushed aside to make way for rhythm guitarist Mike Pender – but no one seems to have told the cameraman that and he seems convinced that the shy 18 year old Frank Allen on bass is the star and keeps putting him in shot. Those of you who’ve read my Searchers review will know that I consider the late-period (ie 1965-67) period of this band as one of the least recognised and under-appreciated canons in music- the early hits aren’t bad but the last two albums and assorted singles for Pye are among the best the 1960s had to offer – so imagine my even bigger delight that three poor-selling gems of the period are here: ‘When I Get Home’ ‘Take Me For What I’m Worth’ and the song that came first in our ‘early psychedelia’ poll a few issues back ‘He’s Got No Love’, perhaps the biggest milestone in 60s flower power that people haven’t acknowledged yet (it was recorded at the same time as ‘Help!’ for crying out loud!) At last, my search for The Searchers is at an end.

33) Crosby and Nash performing at the ‘vote Obama’ Rally 2009

A piece of history for you, as Crosby and Nash admit defeat in the election they stood for as joint candidates (hey, I’d have voted for them if they’d lived in my town) and put their weight of feeling behind Barack Obama, back then an unlikely looking second placed runner in the Democrat camp behind Hilary Clinton. I’ve heard better versions of ‘Teach Your Children’ over the years but few are as charged with hope and feeling as this one. As for the ‘longer’ version’s unique performance of ‘This Is My Country’, it’s a saccharine but sadly spot-on dissectment of war and greed which Nash (singing about his adopted home country, of course) clearly feels passionately about. Who’d have guessed that Obama would actually make it into the White House in 2009 with only a couple of hippies and a catchy ‘yes we can’ slogan for support? And leave the guy alone – at least he’s trying to bring money to the poor and staving off catastrophe instead of making things worse and siphoning off money from the needy like the Coalition does in this country...

32) The Kinks – rare music videos ‘Lost and Found’, ‘How Do I Get Close?’, ‘Down All The Days (Till 1992)’ and ‘Only A Dream’: (Lost and Found, 1986) (How Do I Get Close?, 1988) (Down All The Days, 1988) (Only A Dream, 1993)

Whilst every Kinks era up to the early 80s is well catered on CD and even DVD these days, there’s still a big hole on the shelf where the last three (and vastly under-rated) Kinks albums should be. Here are clips for possibly the four best tracks from the last three Kinks LPs (one from ‘Think Visual’, two from ‘UK Jive’ and one from ‘Phobia’), all of which I’d never seen before finding them on YouTube. All of them are pretty bizarre, even compared to the run of Kinks promos for ‘Predictable’ ‘Do It Again’ et al that made my head explode, but all have that typical Kinks oddball charm. ‘Lost’ features a conductor in charge of the band while a backdrop shows Ray as a highway robber (!) for no apparent reason. The ‘Close’ video features Dave Davies dressed as a ‘clown’(an in-joke based on his most famous song ‘Death Of A Clown’) and Ray as a butler (!) for no apparent reason. ‘Down All The Days’, a hopeful song about the UK joining the European Union shows lots of clips of ordinary people across Europe celebrating something – possibly how weird this video is although at least there is a reason for them to be there this time. Finally, ‘Only A Dream’ finds Ray and Dave wandering the streets of Paris in search of the ‘executive Goddess’ in the song, caught halfway between merriment and argument. Enjoy.

31) Alan Hull acts in the BBC play “Squire” (1975):

Alas there’s only a two minute extract of it, but Alan Hull is tremendous in this mid-70s version of ‘Shameless’. Lindisfarne’s lead songwriter was busy promoting his second solo album of the same name at the time and, after dabbling with politics as a backbench MP, turned to acting to fill in the gap between albums. His role here as a long-term unemployed man signing back on after moving to yet another district to look for work is hilarious and deeply believable – perhaps because Hull knew exactly where the character was coming from (most of the early Lindisfarne songs were written when Hull was unemployed for a long long time and even ‘Fog On The Tyne’ has a line about signing off the dole). Let’s hope the rest of this fascinating TV play comes to light sometime soon!

30) Jefferson Airplane “Mexico”, Jefferson Starship “St Charles” and “Count On Me” (acoustic version): (St Charles, 1976) (Count On Me, 1978)

Three terrific slices of the Jeffersons in different eras. ‘Mexico’ was a flop single right at the end of the Airplane’s run but its one of their best ever (if shortest) songs, damning Richard Nixon whose ‘come to call himself king’ by destroying the Mexican underground movement and putting his goons in charge of the drugs scene there whilst ‘taking action’ against Mexicans committing far smaller crimes. This was heady stuff in an era two years before Watergate when most people still ‘trusted’ politicians and the Airplane take no prisoners – there’s certainly no whitewash against this Whitehouse! Grace Slick is terrific on this live version and to boot its virtually the last time we get to see the ‘proper’ Airplane line-up together in one place till 1989. ‘St Charles’ is just the music set to video – but oh what music, this forgotten song from 1976’s Starship album ‘Spitfire’ is one of their very best and the band are on photogenic form as ever. The promo – the only one from the band’s ‘Jefferson Starship’ years with Marty Balin in the band – is rumoured to have been submitted to a ‘film festival’ where it sadly lost, but I have no more details about that I’m afraid! It certainly should have won something, as it’s an atmospheric moody piece very in keeping with the mid-70s with Marty especially on great form. Finally, ‘Count On Me’ is a charming relic from 1978 – the last year for Marty in the band and Grace’s last for several years, with the whole seven piece Starship gathered together round a couch and singing their heart out with just two acoustic guitars for accompaniment. Probably the best song from the album ‘Earth’, it really shows off just how great Marty’s voice still was at this stage and the intimacy between the band members. Three really nice finds.

29) David Crosby “Get Together”(1963):

Apparently this dead early David Crosby song taped in 1963 – two years before The Byrds and his earliest recording barring the Au Go Go Singers album (where he’s inaudible) – did make it out on one of the many re-issues of The Byrds’ ‘Preflyte’ tapes down the years. But I’ve never come across it and I’m willing to bet most of you haven’t either so I’m including it here. What’s fascinating is hearing Crosby’s voice in its early stages, when it’s much more folk-orientated than the later Beatles-inspired rock model. It’s also blooming lovely, with that familiar Crosby lilt and sunshine we’ll get to know so well a few years down the line. The song is important too – it’s one of several ‘old’ (ie pre WW2) songs Crosby ‘discovered’ (along with ‘Hey Joe’) which other artists copied from Crosby after seeing him do it in the folk clubs. Quicksilver Messenger Service and Jefferson Airplane do the better known versions of this song (in fact we discussed the latter version not long ago in newsletter 116) and its so flower power-era sounding its hard to believe it was already over a decade old when Crosby sang it here. Two years before he found fame and Crosby already sounds like one to watch.

28) Buffalo Springfield “Bluebird” (unedited version, 1967):

I’ve been dying to hear the full unedited version of one of the greatest Buffalo Springfield songs for years, ever since I heard that it ‘accidentally’ came out on a double-album compilation (simply titled ‘Buffalo Springfield’) in the 70s because the engineer ‘accidentally’ forgot to stop the tape at the right point (alas it never did make it to CD and has been long since deleted). I have to say this full nine minute jam isn’t what I expected – after the familiar slashing Stills guitar three minutes in we simply cut back to a noisy bluesy jam instead of the familiar ‘appalachian banjo’ coda that doesn’t owe that much to the beginning of the song till the end. ‘Bluebird’ somehow ends up into a version of the band’s first album song ‘Leave’ before somehow working its way back into the main riff for the last minute and a final repeat of the song’s chorus. Still, even if these extra few minutes aren’t up to the rest of the song – and the band were right to cut it down to size – it’s still great to hear Stills and Young playing off each other in the studio for pretty much the first time, long before their legendary CSNY guitar duels!

27) Dire Straits – the first demos 1977 (Sultans Of Swing) (Down To The Waterline) (Six-Blade Knife) (Southbound Again)

The first half dozen recordings by Dire Straits, a full year before their release on the first self-titled Dire Straits record. Mark Knopfler often sounds uncomfortable with the vocals, his guitar licks don’t quite have the confidence he will have in a year or so’s time and the usual glossy Dire Straits production is a long way away but even given such surroundings these six recordings are among the best things the band ever did. When the first Dire Straits record came out in 1978 it was such a breath of fresh air, retro rock with a then-contemporary twist that somehow managed to bypass the worst excesses of the period. Here, right in the middle of punk, these songs must have sounded even more excitingly original. ‘Setting Me Up’ is particularly different without the harmonies of the finished version and with a strangely downbeat feel, while ‘Sultans’ is special just to hear the band still getting up to speed on a new song Mark probably sings in his sleep these days. A wonderful find.

26) David Gilmour in ‘Joker’s Wild’ (1965) (Why Do Fools Fall In Love?/Walk Like A Man/Can I Get A Witness?) (Big Girls Don’t Cry/Beautiful Delilah)

Well, here’s one rare EP you can bet your life won’t be seeing an official release any time soon and it’s fascinating - blooming awful I admit -but fascinating all the same. When David Gilmour joined Pink Floyd as Syd Barrett’s replacement he spent his time trying to add a few West Coast harmonies to a band built on English reserve and mystery where they often didn’t fit (think ‘Crumbling Land’ or the recent ‘On An Island’ collaboration with Crosby and Nash), but it’s clearly always been Gilmour’s ‘calling’, much more than the band’s stock-in-trade of atmospheric neuroticism. Here he is with his first band, the marvellously titled Joker’s Wild, on a five-track EP that had a pressing run of just 50 or so copies in the mid-60s, adding some spry guitar licks to some distinctly Four Seasons-sounding songs which are dominated by falsetto harmonies to the point where you barely register the guitar. Only Gilmour’s sudden guitar break on ‘Delilah’ sounds anything like the Gilmour we will come to know and love and he’s all but inaudible here as a vocalist (except some sweet falsetto) but for fans this incredibly rare collection of songs is a wonderful stepping stone to understanding what was to come. Gilmour won’t work with his colleagues again until his first solo album in 1978, by which time the band sound like any other good AOR rock band, without a harmony in sight.

25) Mike Nesmith recordings pre-Monkees (1964-66): (Until It’s Time For You To Go) (Well Well Well) (I’ve Been Searchin’) (Don’t Call On Me)

Five early slices of Mike Nesmith back when he was still using his stage name ‘Michael Blessing’ and trying to make a career for himself as a folk singer. The first clip is from a TV appearance for Nes’ last single – a cover of a then-new Buffy St Marie song that’s become something of a standard since - before the Monkees came along and the star appeal is there already – all that Rafelson and Scheider seemed to add in 1966 was the woolhat. The other four songs are audio only I’m afraid but nonetheless fascinating. ‘Wanderin’ sounds very much like the songs the First and Second National Bands will go on to play on Nesmith’s early post-Monkees albums, ‘Well Well Well’ is a spoof folk tune (with a banjo lick not unlike what Peter Tork will go on to play) and lyrics about ‘Judy’ being ‘the ugliest cat in town’ which no doubt came as a shock to Mrs Judy Nesmith! ‘Searchin’ is an odd song, performed in a deeper register than the rest and much more Beatleised. Finally, ‘Don’t Call On Me’ is indeed the same song that appeared on The Monkees’ ‘Pisces Aquarius’ album two years early and its sung straight rather than as a folk-club pastiche. It’s also rather lovely and proof that Nesmith has the talent to make it even without joining The Monkees – leaving his comment on his Monkees’ audition that ‘up till now I’ve been a failure’ as a bit of a lie. There used to be a YouTube clip of ‘Mike, John and Bill’ (ie Papa Nez, bassist Kohn London and Monkee writer Bill Chadwick) singing Monkees track ‘All The King’s Horses’ on YouTube, but alas that’s gone. 

24) The Small Faces perform two unreleased songs “Get Ready” (BBC Session 1968) and “Jump Back” (live 1966):

Wow! Two new Marriott-Lane songs for us to enjoy! And ‘Ready’, the more polished of the two, is one of the better instrumentals of their later-period run, heard here in a performance taken from the Radio One show ‘Top Gear’. It’s similar in feel to the many instrumentals that did make it out on the album ‘Autumn Stone’, with Mac’s organ the dominant sound. ‘Jump Back’ is the earlier, noisier Small Faces with Jimmy Winstun on keyboards and vocals and the band on terrific form, especially Steve Marriott’s feedback drenched guitar. How these two tracks escaped the official CDs – and all of the many Small Faces bootlegs I’ve heard – I’ll never know. 

23) The Hollies on Noel Edmund’s House Party (1994)

Imagine the scene: you’re tired, you’ve just come home from work and there’s a bearded loon trying to talk to you when you come in, wittering on about your music tastes for no apparent reason (thank goodness he didn’t bring Mr Blobby with him). This being a Noel Edmonds programme I was expecting a sudden tank of gunge or a custard pie in the face at the very least (see Ray Davies above) but no – that really is The Hollies singing ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother’ in your back garden. How kind and how typical of The Hollies to give up their Boxing Day by standing in a freezing cold garden at the dead of night, waiting hours for th signal to perform (they’re all wearing coats – even Alan Coates Boom! Boom!) to honour one of their fans. The Hollies are a truly great and magnanimous band in any line-up (except perhaps the current Peter Howarth one – ‘woah-wa-oh’ to you too brother) and it’s wonderful to see just how much their presence means to the gentleman in question. What good taste you have, my friend!

22) The Hollies “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” (Live 1990)

I so wish the 1990-era of The Hollies had released a live album because then we fans could have had the definitive versions of ‘Soldier’s Song ‘Purple Rain’ and this track, made famous by Procul Harum, which sadly never appeared on record. It was part of a ‘60s memories’ concept the band were doing on this tour, asking their audiences for the songs that reminded them of the decade the most and they also did some other favourites such as The Beatles’ ‘Revolution’ and ‘Wheel’s On Fire’. This was the best and most surprising song, however; Clarkey’s voice is perfectly cast for the I-think-I-know-what-it-means-but-it-might-be-gibberish lines and Hicks’ decision to play the organ part on guitar is a masterstroke. ‘Whiter Shade Of Pale’ was my close friend Linda’s favourite song and The Hollies were one of her favourite bands – hearing the two put together all I can say is, wow what great taste she had.

21) The Monkees on the Johnny Cash show 1969:

Four musical legends for the price of one! This was more or less the first thing The Monkees did after Peter Tork left the band and it’s the best clip of them I’ve seen from a chat show (usually what happens is Davy charms, Mike broods and Micky talks. A lot. But not here). Cash, always open to his guests whatever genre and credibility they have or don’t have, is genuinely respectful without any of that awful ‘but you’re not really musicians!’ talk that ruined most interviews post 1967 and the band obviously like him too (‘I’ll go anywhere you wanna go Johnny!’ says Davy at one point), even though his choice of song ‘Everybody Loves A Nut’ is an odd one. (Never did like that jokey Johnny Cash album of the same name much). His take on ‘Clarksville’ is great though and a shame both that its not longer and that he never did it on record – it sounds pretty good when The Monkees sing it too (with Davy on bass!) So much for the song being ‘dusty’ after three years of singing it – The Monkees still do it now. It’s the near a capella version of Nesmith’s unreleased-till-his-solo-records ‘Nine Times Blue’ that’s the real treat though, with Micky Mike and Davy all singing together, something of a rare occurrence outside ‘Riu Chiu’ and ‘I Don’t Think You Know Me At All’ . The Monkees never did the song like this on record, despite announcing it’s from their ‘new’ one (though Nesmith did attempt it solo a number of times) and its one of the best examples of how uncanny the mix of talents in the band was and how remarkable it is that all four Monkees (with Peter!) had such a terrific blend together when they were picked randomly from different countries, backgrounds and musical interests. Why oh why wasn’t this lovely clip selected for the Johnny Cash Show DVD?!    

And that’s it for another week. Tune in next issue for YouTube clips #20-1! Who comes first? Will it be The Spice Girls?! (erm, probably not). Tune in next week to find out!

A NOW COMPLETE List Of Top Five/Top Ten/TOP TWENTY  Entries 2008-2019
1) Chronic Fatigue songs

2) Songs For The Face Of Bo

3) Credit Crunch Songs

4) Songs For The Autumn

5) National Wombat Week

6) AAA Box Sets

7) Virus Songs

8) Worst AAA-Related DVDs

9) Self-Punctuating Superstar Classics

10) Ways To Know You Have Turned Into A Collector

11) Political Songs

12) Totally Bonkers Concept Albums

13) Celebrating 40 Years Of The Beatles' White Album

14) Still Celebrating 40 Years Of The Beatles' White Album

15) AAA Existential Questions

16) Releases Of The Year 2008

17) Top AAA Xmas Songs

18) Notable AAA Gigs

19) All things '20' related for our 20th issue

20) Romantic odes for Valentine's Day

21) Hollies B sides

22) 'Other' BBC Session Albums

23) Beach Boys Rarities Still Not Available On CD

24) Songs John, Paul and George wrote for Ringo's solo albums

25) 5 of the Best Rock 'n' Roll Tracks From The Pre-Beatles Era

26) AAA Autobiographies

27) Rolling Stones B-sides

28) Beatles B-Sides

29) The lllloooonnngggeesssttt AAA songs of all time

30) Kinks B-Sides

31) Abandoned CSNY projects 'wasted on the way'

32) Best AAA Rarities and Outtakes Sets

33) News We've Missed While We've Been Away

34) Birthday Songs for our 1st Anniversary

35) Brightest Album Covers

36) Biggest Recorded Arguments

37) Songs About Superheroes

38) AAA TV Networks That Should Exist

39) AAA Woodtsock Moments

40) Top Moments Of The Past Year As Voted For By Readers

41) Music Segues

42) AAA Foreign Language Songs

43) 'Other' Groups In Need Of Re-Mastering

44) The Kinks Preservation Rock Opera - Was It Really About The Forthcoming UK General Election?

45) Mono and Stereo Mixes - Biggest Differences

46) Weirdest Things To Do When A Band Member Leaves

47) Video Clips Exclusive To Youtube (#1)

48) Top AAA Releases Of 2009

49) Songs About Trains

50) Songs about Winter

51) Songs about astrology plus horoscopes for selected AAA members

52) The Worst Five Groups Ever!

53) The Most Over-Rated AAA Albums

54) Top AAA Rarities Exclusive To EPs

55) Random Recent Purchases (#1)

56) AAA Party Political Slogans

57) Songs To Celebrate 'Rock Sunday'

58) Strange But True (?) AAA Ghost Stories

59) AAA Artists In Song

60) Songs About Dogs

61) Sunshiney Songs

62) The AAA Staff Play Their Own Version Of Monoploy/Mornington Crescent!

63) What 'Other' British Invasion DVDs We'd Like To See

64) What We Want To Place In Our AAA Time Capsule

65) AAA Conspiracy Theroies

66) Weirdest Things To Do Before - And After - Becoming A Star

67) Songs To Tweet To

68) Greatest Ever AAA Solos

69) John Lennon Musical Tributes

70) Songs For Halloween

71) Earliest Examples Of Psychedelia

72) Purely Instrumental Albums

73) AAA Utopias

74) AAA Imaginary Bands

75) Unexpected AAA Cover Versions

76) Top Releases of 2010

77) Songs About Snow

78) Predictions For 2011

79) AAA Fugitives

80) AAA Home Towns

81) The Biggest Non-Musical Influences On The 1960s

82) AAA Groups Covering Other AAA Groups

83) Strange Censorship Decisions

84) AAA Albums Still Unreleased on CD

85) Random Recent Purchases (#2)

86) Top AAA Music Videos

87) 30 Day Facebook Music Challenge

88) AAA Documentaries

89) Unfinished and 'Lost' AAA Albums

90) Strangest AAA Album Covers

91) AAA Performers Live From Mars (!)

92) Songs Including The Number '100' for our 100th Issue

93) Most Songs Recorded In A Single Day

94) Most Revealing AAA Interviews

95) Top 10 Pre-Fame Recordings

96) The Shortest And Longest AAA Albums

97) The AAA Allstars Ultimate Band Line-Up

98) Top Songs About Sports

99) AAA Conversations With God

100) AAA Managers: The Good, The Bad and the Financially Ugly

101) Unexpected AAA Cameos

102) AAA Words You can Type Into A Caluclator

103) AAA Court Cases

104) Postmodern Songs About Songwriting

105) Biggest Stylistic Leaps Between Albums

106) 20 Reasons Why Cameron Should Go!

107) The AAA Pun-Filled Cookbook

108) Classic Debut Releases

109) Five Uses Of Bird Sound Effects

110) AAA Classic Youtube Clips Part #1

111) Part #2

112) Part #3

113) AAA Facts You Might Not Know

114) The 20 Rarest AAA Records

115) AAA Instrumental Songs

116) Musical Tarot

117) Christmas Carols

118) Top AAA Releases Of 2011

119) AAA Bands In The Beano/The Dandy

120) Top 20 Guitarists #1

121) #2

122) 'Shorty' Nomination Award Questionairre

123) Top Best-Selling AAA Albums

124) AAA Songs Featuring Bagpipes

125) A (Hopefully) Complete List Of AAA Musicians On Twitter

126) Beatles Albums That Might Have Been 1970-74 and 1980

127) DVD/Computer Games We've Just Invented

128) The AAA Albums With The Most Weeks At #1 in the UK

129) The AAA Singles With The Most Weeks At #1 in the UK

130) Lyric Competition (Questions)

131) Top Crooning Classics

132) Funeral Songs

133) AAA Songs For When Your Phone Is On Hold

134) Random Recent Purchases (#3)

135) Lyric Competition (Answers)

136) Bee Gees Songs/AAA Goes Disco!

137) The Best AAA Sleevenotes (And Worst)

138) A Short Precise Of The Years 1962-70

139) More Wacky AAA-Related Films And Their Soundtracks

140) AAA Appearances On Desert Island Discs

141) Songs Exclusive To Live Albums

142) More AAA Songs About Armageddon

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Having a family does funny things to some musicians, as we’ve already seen in this week’s review (surely the only AAA album actually written around...

Some artists just have no idea what their best work really is. One thing that amazes me as a collector is how consistently excellent many of the...

159) A (Not That) Short Guide To The 15 Best Non-AAA Bands

160) The Greatest AAA Drum Solos (Or Near Solos!)

161) AAA Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame Acceptance Speeches

162) AAA Re-Recordings Of Past Songs

163) A Coalition Christmas (A Fairy Tale)

164) AAA Songs About Islands

165) The AAA Review Of The Year 2012

166) The Best AAA Concerts I Attended

167) Tributes To The 10 AAA Stars Who Died The Youngest

168) The First 10 AAA Songs Listed Alphabetically

171) The 10 Best Songs From The Psychedelia Box-Sets ‘Nuggets’ and ‘Nuggets Two’

172) The 20 Most Common Girl’s Names In AAA Song Titles (With Definitions) 

180) First Recordings By Future AAA Stars

185) A Tribute To Storm Thorgerson Via The Five AAA Bands He Worked With

188) Surprise! Celebrating 300 Album Reviews With The Biggest 'Surprises' Of The Past Five Years Of Alan's Album Archives!

190) Comparatively Obscure First Compositions By AAA Stars

193) Evolution Of A Band: Comparing First Lyric With Last Lyric:

200) The Monkees In Relation To Postmodernism (University Dissertation)

202) Carly Simon's 'You're So Vain': Was It About One Of The AAA Crew?

217) AAA 'Christmas Presents' we'd most like to have next year

221) Dr Who and the AAA (Five Musical Links)

222) Five Random Recent Purchases

223) AAA Grammy Nominees

224) Ten AAA songs that are better heard unedited and in full

225) The shortest gaps between AAA albums

226) The longest gaps between AAA albums

227) Top ten AAA drummers

228) Top Ten AAA Singles (In Terms of 'A' and 'B' Sides)

229) The Stories Behind Six AAA Logos

230) AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!! The Best Ten AAA Screams

231) An AAA Pack Of Horses

232) AAA Granamas - Sorry, Anagrams!

233) AAA Surnames and Their Meanings

234) 20 Erroneous AAA Album Titles

235) The Best AAA Orchestral Arrangements

236) Top 30 Hilariously Misheard Album Titles/Lyrics

237) Ten controversial AAA sackings - and whether they were right

238) A Critique On Critiquing - In Response To Brian Wilson

239) The Ten MusicianS Who've Played On The Most AAA Albums

240) Thoughts on #CameronMustGo

241) Random Recent Purchases (Kinks/Grateful Dead/Nils Lofgren/Rolling Stones/Hollies) 

242) AAA Christmas Number Ones 

243) AAA Review Of The Year 2014 (Top Releases/Re-issues/Documentaries/DVDs/Books/Songs/ Articles  plus worst releases of the year)

244) Me/CFS Awareness Week 2015

245) Why The Tory 2015 Victory Seems A Little...Suspicious

246) A Plea For Peace and Tolerance After The Attacks on Paris - and Syria

247) AAA Review Of The Year 2015

248) The Fifty Most Read AAA Articles (as of December 31st 2015)

249) The Revised AAA Crossword!

251) Half-A-Dozen Berries Plus One (An AAA Tribute To Chuck Berry)

252) Guest Post: ‘The Skids – Joy’ (1981) by Kenny Brown

254) Guest Post: ‘Supertramp – Some Things Never Change’ by Kenny Brown

255) AAA Review Of The Year 2018

256) AAA Review Of The Year 2019 plus Review Of The Decade 2010-2019

257) Tiermaker

258) #Coronastock

259) #Coronadocstock