Friday 30 December 2011

News, Views and Music Issue 127 (Top Five) Best Albums/Songs/DVDs/Documentaries of the year

What a year it’s been dear readers. If 2010 was 1964 all over again (what with all the fuss about the Lennon box set and anniversary competing against Keith Richard’s autoniography) then 2011 was 1965 all over again, with the ‘second tier’ of musicians like The Beach Boys, The Who, The Kinks, The Hollies and Pink Floyd all releasing special records. We were a bit spoiled for choice for this year’s article (the new Human League, Pink Floyd re-issues and even the growing-on-me Paul Simon album were all competing for the coveted spot #5), but nit’s notable again how many of the albums on our lost are re-issues not new releases. Get writing you musicians! As we said earlier, whether you agree or disagree, own or want to own these albums, use our forum to spread your voice about what you thought about these releases – and what made your own personal top five!

5) Paul McCartney “Paul McCartney II” (Deluxe Edition)

(first reviewed in full as news and views no 106)

I can’t tell you how long I’ve been waiting to hear the originally intended double album version of perhaps Paul’s most under-rated album officially for the first time. Heard as a single album in 1980 ‘McCartney II’ was an oddball collection of classy singles, crazy instrumentals and improvised doodles. Heard as a double album, with a properly thought out running order, it sounds like carefully controlled chaos, as brave and as pioneering as anything Macca ever did, with the perfect one-two punch of ‘Coming Up’ and ‘waterfalls’ at the end to calm things down. Alas this hideously pricey set (£50?! It would be expensive at half that price!) doesn’t give you the proper running order so you have to compile it yourself – that said EMI do have the sense to include no less than five unreleased McCartney songs of varying quality and a never before heard (even by bootleggers) attempt to turn bluesy synth instrumental ‘Blue Sway’ into a proper song (from the aborted ‘Cold Cuts’ project). ‘Blue Sway’ is a hypnotically lovely churning mass of notes, just about similar enough to surf music for Macca to hire a ‘surf’ director to make a special film of this song for the DVD. However the vocal version (actually recorded shortly after the Macca II sessions and originally intended for outtakes set ‘Cold Cuts’) makes it sound like a ‘proper’ song and one of Paul’s best in this period to boot. Like the earlier set ‘Band On The Run’ the accompnaying hardback book is gorgeous, full of glossy unseen photographs and an intriguing interview with Macca who never really got the chance to talk about this album much before first his Tokyo prison spell and later Lennon’s death got in the way of promotion. However this time around the DVD is the weakest not the best disc, featuring a plainly bored Macca and an in-awe Tim Rice clearly getting on each other’s nerves and a very grumpy Wings rehearsal for a concert tour that never happened. Still, I’ve always been impressed by the sheer wilful determination of the original ‘McCartney II’ and the fact that in ‘Waterfalls’ and ‘Coming Up’ it contains two of Macca’s greatest recordings ever. The fact that the unreleased songs and extended running times of certain songs (good new for minor gems likie ‘DarkRoom’, bad news for horrendous inanities like ‘Bogey Music’) by and large improve on the original album makes this a must-have set for Beatles fans, even more than the similar ‘Band On The Run’ and ‘McCartney’ sets (which have less rarities all round).

Highlights to download: ‘Coming Up’ (unedited), ‘Waterfalls’ ‘Secret Friend’ ‘Blue Sway’

4) The Who “Quadrophenia” (Deluxe Edition)

(original album reviewed as review no 60)

I must confess I don’t yet own the new fancy four disc deluxe version of this set (though I hope to soon!), the long-awaited deluxed edition of my second favourite album in the world, ever. But then again I don’t need to: the main talking point of this set, along with the exquisite packaging, is the 25 Pete Townshend demos included on discs 3 and 4. Alas most of these have already been released on Pete’s three very informative demo series ‘Scoops 1-3’ and the few that aren’t have been around on Youtube for years. The bad news is that the demos don’t really add anything to the album. It’s not that they are badly played or badly recorded or anything – quite the opposite in fact, as Pete has gone to such trouble overdubbing bass, drums and pianos that the effect is like hearing a fully fledged alternative album recorded at a slightly ploddier tempo with a slightly more wobbly singer. That said of the 17 out of 25 demos I own there are two worth their weight in gold. On the album ‘The Real Me’ is a storming angry rocker in primal Who mode, a scary rant spitting at everything in the Mod character Jimmy’s life. But on the demo its a much weightier song, played at walking pace and sung, at least in part, from the ‘Godfather’ (ie old rocker’s) point of view. There’s even an extra unused verse, one about how rock ‘did me an evil wrong’, that makes much more sense of the album’s plot. The other delight is ‘Joker James’ – a limp two minute throaway about a teenager into practical jokes, it wasn’t released until the film version of ‘Quadrophenia’ in 1979 – but heard here as a four minute epic and given so much depth that you really do care for Jimmy despite his ability to get on people’s nerves. Alas that’s about it really if you own the Scoop demos already (and if you don’t you’re not missing all that much – not £70-odd’s worth anyway!) And the set loses points for not including either of its ‘famous’ outtakes: the album’s ‘inpsiration’ song ‘Long Live Rock’ and the sverely under-rated ‘We Close Tonight’, both available on the ‘Odds and Sods’ collection but which would have been nice to add here. Still, the music on the original album is so superb this set makes the list just by courtesy of Pete Townshend’s brilliant score!

Highlights to download: ‘I Am One’ ‘Punk And The Godfather’ ‘Is It In My Head?’ ‘Love Reign O’er Me’ ‘Joker James’ (Demo)

3) Beady Eye “Different Gear, Still Speeding”

(first reviewed in full as news and views 93)

For the life of me I’ll never understand why so many reviewers and fans went cock-a-hoop for the Noel Gallagher album, seeing it as the best Oasis-related album since the glory days of ‘Definitely Maybe’ and ‘Morning Glory’. By and large I hated it, with only the four Oasis-era songs of any value (and all four of those botched by comparison to the outtakes). No the real gem in the Oasis catlogiue this years was Liam’s badly received effort, one that managed to build on the old Oasis roar and added some interesting new touches, like psychedelia and folk (mmm, what a good idea!) Not everything on this debut album worked but the few songs that didn’t were interestingly the songs that sounded like the ‘old’ Oasis – the new ‘Beady Eye’ are a real band to watch. We’ll go on to comment about the fantastic ‘Wigawam’ later on in this article but other strong tracks include the stomping ‘Three Ring Circus’ (the best put-down since its likely inspirer, MCCartney’s ‘Three Legs’), the beuatifulo ballad ‘Keep The Dream Alive’ and the wordy folk tune ‘Millionaire’. Beady Eye have done everything I hoped Noel would do with his album – they’ve stretched their formula without forgetting what made them great in the first place and even if no one else seemed to like it I shall be awaiting Beady Eye’s second album with great anticipation. More, please!

Highlights to download: ‘Wigwam’ ‘3 Ring Circus’ ‘Kill For A Dream’ ‘Millionaire’

2) The Beach Boys “Smile – Sessions”

(original album reviewed as review no 101)

As those of you who read this site regularly will know, ‘Smile’ is perhaps the greatest album of all time, full of such pathos, wit and beauty that it’s hard to put into moves how extraordinary this album would have been in 1966 – and how wonderfully, delightfully, unbelivably brave it still sounds all these years later. Now, again I must admit that I don’t know this album yet per se (the £110 price tag is putting me off!) and again I hope to hear it sometime soon, but you won’t be at all surprised to learn that I do kow a good percentage of the original Beach Boys Smile sessions and they’re brilliant (when I got a single CD of the4 sessions ten years ago I played nothing else for six months – something no other album has ever made me do, although others have come close). So why isn’t this set number one (and why haven’t I bought it yet?!) Well,for one thing the track listing is a joke. Bearing in mind what’s in the archive a full disc of ‘Good Vibrations’ sessions (of which about an hour’s worth is available on other albums) is a waste (although pencilled in for ‘Smile’, it dates from sessions held months earlier than the other material here) and the addition of so many ‘speaking parts’ that just aren’t funny are a poor substitute for the tracking sessions of songs like ‘Child Is The Father Of The Man’ ‘Cabieneseence’ ‘Surf’s Up’ and ‘Fire’. I really don’t like ‘Pet Sounds’ as an album that much, but at least when Capitol revisited it as a box set they did the senisble thing and released all the right tracks in the right order, with very little left behind in the vaults that deserved to be released. But this ‘Smile’ set seems to have been arranged by a compiler with a dartboard, randomly selecting the strangest things from the archives. Incidentally, the two disc version looks better but even that seems like a bit of a scattershot approach and doesn’t give a real flavour of what this album was really ‘about’. The definitive ‘Smile’ box set is yet to come, I think.

Highlights to download: ‘Do You Like Worms?’ ‘Cabinessence’ ‘Surf’s Up’ ‘Child Is The Father Of The Man’ ‘Mrs O’Leary’s Cow’ ‘He Gives Speeches’ (outtake) ‘Heroes and Villains’ (10 minute version)

1)    The Hollies “The Clarke-Hicks-Nash Years”

(first reviewed as part of news and views no 100)

It might surprise you that my favourite purchase of the whole year is a box-set consisting of mainly previously released material, but this Hollies set is exactly what we’ve been asking EMI for several times in my website and is a good example of how wonderful compilations can be when everyone involved get things right. The set includes every single released recording by the band with Graham Nash in the line up (ie 1963 through to late 1968) all in the order they were recorded (as Abbey Road, where the band worked, kept wonderfully detailed documentation of it all). As a result we get every single A side, B side, album track, EP track and all of the many myriad rarities that have dripped out on other compilations over the years. After over 100 compilations of the same olf boring tracks (or the same old tracks and some truly left-field choices that get in the way) I can’t believe that EMI finally managed to get things right, releasing this six CD set for the marvellously cheap price of £15! (the price I used to pay for some of my single Hollies CDs!) I’ve fallen in love with The Hollies all over again thanks to this set and its a marvellous tribute to their consistency (matches only by The Beatles) that nearly every track here is an old friend, all spruced up and sounding better than ever. There are even a handful of never before heard recoprdings to enjoy, including a full 20 minute concert from 1968, five foreign language recordings (and not just the expected hits either), an earlier and bouncier ‘Taste Of Honey’ than the one on the ‘other’ Hollies box set ‘The Long Road Home’ and the long-lost b-side of ‘Non Prego Per Me’, the Hollies failed entry into the San Remo ssong contest! Superb – and as we said in our original review, please EMI, keep up the good work and release a ‘Clarke-Hicks-Sylvester’ box set next, using this same winning formula!

Highlights to download: ‘So Lonely’ ‘Honey and Wine’ ‘Nobody’ ‘I Can’t Let Go!’ ‘Oriental Sadness’ ‘Rain On My Window’ ‘King Midas In Reverse’ ‘Elevated Observations?’ ‘Wings’ ‘Tomorrow When It Comes’

3) Simon and Garfunkel “The Harmony Game” (Indepndent – included as bonus disc on ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ deluxe DVD and broadcast on BBC1)

(first reviewed as part of news and views no 106)

There’s a lot of curious things about this documentary. #1 – why was it released with no fanfare on a CD/DVD nobody bought (despite being great value for money) and then hailed as a triumph of the age when shown on BBC1 #2 Why was said documentary topped and tailed with an Alan Yentob introduction and billed as part of the ‘Imagine’ series, despite being a completely independent production? #3 why oh why did this CD/DVD set come out not on the 40th but on the 41st anniversary of the album?! And #4 Why has no one made it until now? Whilst ‘Bridge’ is probably my least favourite of the five albums Simon and Garfunkel made there are some great stories to be told and – thanks to the sterling but little seen ‘Voices of America’ TV special from 1970 (also on the CD/DVD and terrific in its own liberal political way) there’s a tonne of footage of S&G at work recording the album. Revealing interviews with Simon and Garfunkel and ‘third member’ Roy Halee are welcome too, far less bitter than on past S&G docs and suggesting that, at last, the duo have come to accept their place in the world. Alas there’s still not much screen time for possibly the best unreleased S&G song (‘Cuba Si, Nixon No’) but otherwise this is a moving, detailed and entertaining documentary, well thought out and made with care. 

2) Dave Davies “Till Kinkdom Come” (BBC4)

(first reviewed as –amazingly enough - part of the same issue, news and views no 106)

Dave Davies used to be the key figure in The Kinks, the cocky lead vocalist on many of the early recordings and the guitarist that everybody of a certain age longed to be. A documentary (actually more of a rambling interview) with Dave is long overdue and this one didn’t disappoint (although feedback suggests you had to be a ‘fan’ to get most of the in-jokes and comments!) Ray got his own programme too (technically last year as it was transmitted New Year’s Eve 2010) by the same production team (the Yentob mob again) and the two showcase the differences betweedn the two brothers: Ray was an eccentric old man hiding away from the camera, letting us in on titbits of his life like little secrets and shot walking down Waterloo Bridge singing to himself, safe in anonymity; Dave was the life and soul of the party, like a drunken uncle telling his life-story over a glass of something strong at the Christmas party. Both documentaries, in their own highliy distinctive ways, were superb and it was lovely to see Dave looking comparatively fit and well after the stroke he suffered a few years ago. A lovely surprise from BBC4.

1) Pink Floyd “The Producers” (BBC6, part of ‘Pink Floyd night’)

(first reviewed as part of news and views no 118)

Now for radio’s turn. I have to say I’ve simply adored BBC6’s output this year. What had been till 2010 the real runt of the BBC’s digital output has finally got their act together and rummaged through the Beeb’s magnificent (if sadly incomplete) archives and repeated rare documentaries on, among others, Brian Wilson, Dennis Wilson, The Beatles (collectively and apart – including the 1st ever repeat for the excellent ‘McCartney and On McCartney’ from 1988), CSN (their 1st ‘classic album’), Dire Straits’ BBC sessions, Janis Joplin, The Monkees, numerous Oasis concerts, documentaries and interviews, a whole Pink Floyd night with six hours of programmes, dozens of Rolling Stones docs and interviews, The Paul Simon Story (an absolute milestone of how documentaries should be made!), The Small Faces (Ogden’s as a ‘classic album’),10cc’s ‘The Producers’, Pete Townshend’s Peel Lecture and Keith Moon’s stint filling in for John Peel in 1975. Even with the odd cancelled programme and some tortuous months dedicated to punk and soul I have to take my hat off to BBC6 for a great year. So it makes sense that I should give the coveted AAA documentary award to this station, for their ‘new’ documentary broadcast as part of Pink Floyd night, as part of the excellent ‘Producers’ series. Alongside excellent interviews with Waterrs, Gilmour and Mason some experts went back to the master-tapes of key Floyd songs to see what was there and found multiple examples of abandoned takes, mis-starts, ‘dropped in’ edits and abandoned overdubs. It all made for enticing, enertaining listening and I’ve listened to this programme many a time since it aired (hmm, I might even give it a listen tonight actually if I can’t sleep again...) In short, wonderful and let’s hope there’s plenty more documentaries about AAA musicians to be had in this series (so far only 10cc have shared this accolade – and that programme was even better than this one!)

3) John Lennon “Sometime In New York City”

(first reviewed as part of, erm, well I’m struggling to find it to be honest but I think it was late last year)

First shown as a throwaway late at night on BBC One and strangely ignored by the Beatles world, on the surface this documentary didn’t have much going for it – the ‘American’ theme restricts Lennon’s life to the years 1972-1980 (the period of some rather dodgy albums) and has already been covered by the excellent ‘Lennon Vs America’ documentary a few years back. However, this little known documentary is actually superior in every way, featuring strong powerful interviews with the people that matter, came with Yoko Ono’s full support (contrary to popular opinion I’ve always maintained that she’s supported Lennon’s legacy well after his death, however you consider her behaviour in their lifetime) and best of all features audio clips and studio speech so rare even the Lost Lennon radio series missed them! The choice of concentrating on the Lennon story from ‘Sometime In New York City’ onwards is also a clever one, dispensing with the overused stories about the Beatle days and the ‘white piano’ Imagine period in favour of discussions of Lennon’s political anarchist side, his struggles to fight deportation from America, the Lennon-Ono’s desperate search for Yoko’s daughter Kyoko (‘kidnapped’ by her father) and Lennon’s retirement and house-husband stage. Even though I’ve known the end of Lennon’s story all my life (he died some 18 months before I was born) and even though I’ve seen countless documentaries Lennon’s sudden death still comes as a shock, treated well by the film-makers because it comes just at the point where everything seems to be going right and you least expect it. Few documentaries make this battle-hardened writer cry but this one did. A programme that deserved greater respect from Beatles fans. 

2) George Harrison “Living In The Material World”

(first reviewed as part of news and viewses 120 and 121)

Despite the Lennon documentary and the McCartney deluxe re-issues 2011 belonged to just one Beatle: George Harrison. Ten years on from his sad death and with backing from widow Olivia and son Dhani, film director Martin Scorcese helped put a photo-book and film together celebrating the Beatle’s lifetime, too long overshadowed by John and Paul (and even Ringo!) Both the book and the DVD were a tale of two halves – the Beatles side of things seemed tortuous and slow, sloppy editing meant one song crashed into another and the same old stories were trotted out over and over, even with some rare photos taken by and of George to look at. But oh the second half – despite what I said above this is the second time all year a documentary made me cry! Olivia has never spoken at length about her husband before (and didn’t want to much for this film!) but she and son Dhani were the stars of this film, talking about George the gardener and husband and father, the side of him we never knew and revealing the same magical, spiritual and humble man we all suspected was there. The other star is George’s Friar Park house, built by an eccentric Victorian and left in ruins till George came to the rescue, it was a dream come true for many fans to be able to ‘look’ round this famous house (and garden) at last. Sensitive interviews with Eric Clapton, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin, Jackie Stewart and a moved Paul and bored Ringo drew out other sides of this complex and contradictory character too, whilst there’s enough rare footage of George the musician to excite fans (the best shot is George watching back his younger self from 1963 and shaking his head, clearly disbelieving it was really him). Like the Lennon doc, though, its the sad bits you remember: the intruder who broke into Friar Park and punctured Harrison’s lung, intent on killing him and all of George’s friends and family still struggling to adjust to a world without George in it. Sure this film isn’t perfect – everyone really needed to re-think their approach to ‘part one’, the join between the two is intrusive (The Beatles end 10 minutes into part 2 – why?!) and as many fans have pointed out there’s no ‘talking heads’ from George’s brothers or sisters and first wife Patti Boyd gets such short shrift she needn’t really have turned up for filming. But for all its faults ‘Material World’ does George’s legacy proud and if you have the patience to sit through the lesser moments it is a worthy addition to our ever-growing Beatles DVD shelves. 

1) The Hollies “British Invasion: Look Through Any Window”

(first reviewed as news and views no 123)

More than any other band, 2011 was the year of The Hollies. Forget what you’ve read about Lady Gaga and Justin Beaver-face, to true music fans one of our finest bands finally got the recognition they deserved. As well as that excellent Clarke-Hicks-Nash box we got the first ever TV documentary (albeit straight to DVD) on the band (the first one not in German anyway), just two years after the UK’s first ever documentary on the band (On Radio 2). Overlooked for far too many years, it’s a huge pleasure to me to see my ‘first’ proper band getting something approaching the recognition they deserve. This DVD is the long-awaited follow up to the first batch of ‘British Invasion’ sets by ‘Reelin’ In The Years’ and like our past favourite ‘The Small Faces: All Or Nothing’ it features a superb array of vintage TV footage of the band from around the world and some sensitive modern-day interviews in-between. Graham Nash seems happier with his past in his first band than ever before, Allan Clarke is seen for the first time in years, Tony Hicks gets to doodle on his guitar and Bobby Elliott shows off an amazing memory that enables to recall everything (no wonder many consider him the band’s archivist!) And oh the footage: a pre-Elliott Hollies taping ‘Little Lover’ for a ‘video jukebox’ (remember those?!) in the middle of a shopping centre while some very 1950s looking people walk past with their noses in the air; the band at their rockiest at the NME Pollwinners Concert of 1964, classy promos for ‘King Mida’ ‘Dear Eloise’ ‘Listen To Me’ and even ‘Wings’ that I had never ever seen before and some classic ‘Beatgroup/Beatroom’ performances that show just what a great act The Hollies were live. Best of all though is a five minute film of the band recording ‘On A Carousel’ at Abbey Road Studios – watching those harmonies come together as the band stand round the same mike in the studio where they recorded 90% of their whole output is – yes alright then – enough to make you cry (that’s three times this year then, this is costing me a fortune in handkerchiefs!) I’d love to have seen more of The Hollies’ later years (especially the Mickael Rickfors ones) and there’s still more than enough footage available for a volume 2 and even 3 one day (if the rights are still available for some clips) but all in all this is a beautiful tribute to a band that deserve nothing but the best.  

3) “Dazzling Blue” – Paul Simon ‘So Beautiful, Or So What?’

(first reviewed as part of news and views 107)

Most of Paul Simon’s new record is, unfortunately, ‘so what?’ rather than so beautiful, but the one true addition to his remarkable back catlogue is this tender love song for new wife Eddie and it ranks among his greatest achievements. Like many of the songs on this album, it mixes a ‘world music’ backing with lyrics debating death and the afterlife, though it makes a rather better first at summing up how and why we life our lives on Earth the way we do than the other, more eccentric tracks. After several songs about the randomness of life and how there probably isn’t a God or deity in charge of such confusion and strife, it’s doubly gratifying to hear about a love that seemed like ‘destiny’  where a ‘cat’s scan eyes’ sees all the hidden beauty in a partner that no one else does. Paul sounds young again for the space of this song and manages to mix the best of all eras of his work: the harmonies of Simon and Grafunkel, the guitar work of his 1970s ‘classic period’, the backing of ‘Gracelabnd’ with the drummers from ‘Rhythm Of The Saints’ and the chattier, more conversational style of the last few albums. A truly beautiful song, that’s as deep or as simple as you want to make it, this is a classy triumph up there with the best records he’s ever made.

2) “Stop The Clocks” – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

(first reviewed in full as part of news and views no 119)

As discussed, I was bitterly disappointed by the elder Gallagher’s first release post-Oasis, whose new songs continue the lethargy of the past few band albums (where Liam and bassist Andy Bell were writing all the best material) and Noel ended up going back to four songs that, in a parallel universe somewhere, make some of the lesser Oasis CDs sound magnificent. The best and most welcome of these four songs is the oldest, ‘Stop The Clocks’, one of Noel’s all-time best songs first heard as long ago as 1999 (if the title sounds familiar that’s because Big Brother wanted Oasis to add a few outtakes to their Oasis compilation before Noel realised he wanted this song for his own project one day). One of the best songs about death ever written, this is Noel imagining himself in the future on his death bed, wondering which breath will be his last and whether he’ll actually ever know when the end does come. The one big fear his narrator has about death in this song is that death will be one long silence – a horrible thought for any musician – so he attempts to fill his last moments with a tension-releasing guitar solo, all chaos and angst, to drive the demons away. Along with ‘The Masterplan’, this is Noel at his best, writing about deeper subjects most songwriters refuse to touch. It’s just a shame that it’s very quality shows up what a sorry mess the six new tracks on this album are...

1) “Wigwam” – Beady Eye, ‘Different Gear, Still Speeding’

(first reviewed in full as part of news and views no 93)

However the greatest addition to the AAA canon, in my opinion, is possibly the least known song from a not very highly regarded album by brother Liam and friends. ‘Wigwam’ is nothing like any Oasis song, starting off as an angry, depressed song about fighting a losing battle against obstacles that never end and having to say sorry for things you aren’t sorry for simply because it makes it easier to get on with the people you live with. We’ve never had such realism from Oasis before and only rarely, as on ‘Little By Little’, have we had such pessimism, but the song’s not over yet. After a wonderful little interlude the whole song kind of ‘shimmers’, moves up a gear (and a key change) and announces ‘I’m coming up!’, spiralling that phrase out again and again and again until it sounds like salvation for all our ills is at hand. Like ‘Hey Jude’ and the song it ‘steals’ from (‘Coming Up’ – see McCartney II above!), it manages to be genuinely moving and conciliatory even though it doesn’t appear to make any sense. Liam Gallagher has never ever been better than this (‘Slide Away’ is the only close competitor, his vocal is that good), Beady Eye have more fire and energy and sound more like a band than at any time on the past three Oasis albums and the end result is a song that I’ve played and re-played endlessly throughout this year. More gems like this one in 2012 please, chaps!

Think we’ve missed out a classic? Thought Brian Wilson’s album of Disney songs was the best thing you heard all year? Wondered why we hated the Noel Gallagher album so? Waited in vain for us to review a solo spice girls spin-off? If so, what’s wrong with you?! Err no, we mean why not write in and tell us at or leave a message on our forum!

And that ends this article, this issue and indeed this year’s newsing viewsing and music-ing. We hope you’ve enjoyed revisiting old friends and getting to know new ones with us this year – we’ve certainly enjoyed having you along for the ride. See you in 2012! Till then, keep rocking, keep listening and keep going. See You soon! 

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

What difference does a name make? Arguably not much if you’re already a collector of a certain group, for whom the names on the album sleeves just...

This week’s top ten honours the humble motor car. The death trap on wheels, the metaphor for freedom, the put-down of capitalism, a source of...

This week we’re going to have a look at the 10 AAA singles that spent the most weeks at number on the American chart ‘Billboard’ – and it makes for...

Following on from last issue’s study of the American Billboard charts, here’s a look at which AAA albums spent the most weeks on the chart. The...

There are many dying arts in our modern world: incorruptible politicians, faith that things are going to get better and the ability to make decent...

This week we’ve decided to dedicate our top ten to those unsung heroes of music, the session musicians, whose playing often brings AAA artists (and...

Naturally we hold our AAA bands in high esteem in these articles: after all, without their good taste, intelligence and humanity we’d have nothing to...

What do you do when you’ve left a multi-million selling band and yet you still feel the pull of the road and the tours and the playing to audiences...

‘The ATOS Song’ (You’re Not Fit To Live)’ (Mini-Review) Dear readers, we don’t often feature reviews of singles over albums or musicians who aren’t...

In honour of this week’s review of an album released to cash in on a movie soundtrack (only one of these songs actually appears in ‘Easy Rider’...and...

Hic! Everyone raise a glass to the rock stars of the past and to this week’s feature...songs about alcolholic beverages! Yes that’s right, everything...

154) The human singing voice carries with it a vast array of emotions, thoughts that cannot be expressed in any other way except opening the lungs and...

Everyone has a spiritual home, even if they don’t actually live there. Mine is in a windy, rainy city where the weather is always awful but the...

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