Friday, 13 January 2012

News, Views and Music Issue 129 (Intro)

January 13th:

Hello readers! I’ve been having an interest debate with one of you about the links between music and politics and the amount that we seem to spend talking about both on this site with seemingly every artist we cover. Seeing as there isn’t much else to write about this week, I thought I’d start a little debate going and see what you think. Well, the way I see it, you can’t avoid politics – they affect everything around us and they’re inevitably going to find their way into the work of songwriters simply because they’re as much a part of life for writers as they are for the rest of us. In fact they’re in every song, except perhaps some of the pure love songs (and contrary to popular opinion, not every song is a love song – not even close). Tired of injustice? That’s a political song. Writing about those who have nothing – that’s political too. Want a better life and got the blues? Chances are it was a political and societal decision that put you in that position (unless it’s girlfriend trouble, of course, and even then it may have some basis in that too). Even Neil Young songs about history and Incas and ancient American flagwavers are all about politics too. Sure, not every group is as adamant about politics as CSNY (the cause of my reader’s tirade), but it’s there somewhere in every group we cover. The Beach Boys singing about American settlers and the ability to own hot rods? Political. 10cc’s sarcastic humour? Political. Pink Floyd’s alienation? Political. Simon and Garfunkel’s songs about class ignorance and societal hatred? Very political. Ray Davies attempts to address our lack of humanity? Political with a capital P. The Monkees singing about two kings making their subjects fight on their behalf for personal means? As political as ‘Newsnight’. The Who singing about the unsettledness and bitterness of society? Pete Townshend should have run for public office. David Crosby’s ‘Long Time Gone’? More relevant to any political discussion than anything David Cameron has ever said in his whole life.

Of course, the politics we talk about and – more usually – moan about on this site tends to be present-day. We do talk about relevant social and political events in reviews from time to time but that’s to put things in context, to let you know why a particular group or artist was angry at a particular time and that they didn’t have access to information about how Nixon was going to be booted out of office or how the Vietnam war was going to run and run, which was why they made songs about such subjects in the first place. At the present time, and at every time since starting this site five years ago, I don’t know how the story of what I’m writing is going to end, whether the Coalition will succeed in returning to the Victorian class structure they obviously seem to want or whether some bright spark will realise that humanitarian rights are there in our society for a reason and that they’d better not oppress the people who vote to keep them in power. I make no apologies for writing about our current state of affairs in these newsletters because that’s what these writers were always doing – using language and music to work out what was happening in any time, who would suffer because of it, what the hidden motives were and whether there was anything we could do about it. You don’t have to hear all songs that way and music is made to be enjoyed after all, but it’s also there to inform the listener about what’s really going on in the world. That’s why politics keeps cropping up on this site and that’s why we keep urging you to keep your eyes and ears open to the real truth, not the spoon-fed media-luvvy I’m-alright-Jack truth, because someone out there is suffering and music is the best communication tool, the best no-bullshit means of trying to put that right. Sure, a list of laws from 1970 about an age-old atrocity don’t appear to have anything in common with events in 2012, but the impact of such events (loss of faith and feelings of betrayal of high Government; a feeling that politicians don’t always get their calls right and the feeling of an us-and-them society) will always ripple on long after our beliefs in democracy and freedom have been drowned in the river of greed and tyranny. If you’ve just come to this site after watching scenes of a review of the year for 2011, with scene after scene of people watching their savings being taken off them, of losing loved ones in phony wars, of people tut-tutting over penniless rioters getting their own back on a corrupt system and still don’t see a connection between that and the songs on any of the AAA albums released during the past 12 months then, or of David Cameron smiling while talking about a law that’s going to cause devastation for families he’s never met and who he treats as a statistic then, well, you may be visiting the wrong site. Music helps brings out the humanity in all of us, by offering connections between people we otherwise wouldn’t know or care about, and as far as I’m concerned it’s the best media ever made for making us become better for the things it makes us think and the actions it makes us take.

Meanwhile, there isn’t much otherwise to write about this week – honestly, there’s not been one AAA news story at all - so thought I would go round the houses to fill you in on how well our site is doing in all of our many medias (hey, it might be important one day, if you want to use us as a subject on mastermind or write your phd about Alan’s Album Archives!) So far our site is on 12885 views (not bad for a site that hasn’t paid for any advertising since January last year!), our twitter followers now stand at 145 (including Jefferson Airplane legend Jorma Kaukanen, something which cheered me up no end!), Max’s Youtube videos have now had 562 views between them (mainly in the US, Canada and the UK, but with a surprisingly healthy amount statistically in New Zealand and Sweden) and our top 100 list at ‘best ever’ now has an average of 81/100 after 11 votes and lots of kind comments. Alas our other source of advertising – Amazon’s ‘Listmania’ lists – seems to have done away with their ‘viewing statistics’ so I can’t add anything more to those.

Oh and if you like what you’ve been reading and can’t find anything to buy on Amazon, then would you please be kind enough to vote for me in the ‘shorty’ awards. You need a twitter feed for it, sadly, but all you have to do is go to the link below, type in my name (‘alansarchives’) as the user and list in a few brief words why I should be nominated for an award (the music or fansite categories seem the best fit to me). I’ve just had the very alarming news that Justin Bieber is first in the music category so please keep voting, even if it’s for someone else entirely! Click here to go to the page: (you can visit it from the home-page of Alan’s Album Archives as well...) In the meantime, we return you to your regular topical newsletter...

ANNIVERSARIES: Sadly last week’s ridiculously long list of birthdays gives way to a big fat zero for AAA stars born between January 10th and 16th. There’s a bumper crop of event anniversaries, however, including: The Beatles release their first #1 (depending which record chart you use) ‘Please Please Me’ – the first #1 by any member of this entire site! (January 12th 1963); A huge change in Jefferson Starship is announced, with singers Marty Balin and Grace Slick and drummer Johnny Barbata making way for new singer Mickey Thomas and drummer Aynsley Dunbar (January 12th 1979); The Beach Boys and Starship (an even later version of Jefferson Airplane/Starship) headline at the second year of benefit concerts for Kampuchea (January 13th 1980); The Who release their debut single (under that name, anyway) ‘I Can’t Explain’ (January 15th 1965); The Rolling Stones are censored during their latest appearance on the Ed Sullivan show, forced to sing ‘Let’s Spend Some Time Together’ instead of ‘Night Together’ (January 15th 1967); The Cavern Club opens for the first time – but with Jazz not Rock musicians taking part (January 16th 1957); Paul McCartney is jailed for seven years for drugs possession after marijuana is found in his suitcase during a planned Wings tour in Japan – the first time a Beatle has ever been booked to play in the country (in the end Macca serves just seven days and Wings break up) (January 16th 1980); George Harrison breaks the record gap between American #1s after ‘Got My Mind Set On You’ tops the charts 24 years after ‘My Sweet Lord’ (January 16th 1988 – The Hollies break the UK record later the same year after a re-issue of ‘He Ain’t Heavy’ hits the top 23 years after ‘I’m Alive’) and finally, Paul Beaver – the moog synthesiser expert who becomes the first to play the instrument on record via The Monkees’ ‘Star Collector’ – dies (January 16th 1975).

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