Sunday, 22 April 2012

News, Views and Music Issue 141 (Intro)

April 22nd:

Well, here we are again after our time away and we’re back with a ‘normal’ issue of everyone’s favourite monkeynuts newsletter for you (well, if you can call a review of an album of easy listening songs by one of our foremost rock and roll singers and a similar top 10 in any way ‘normal’). Did you miss us?! We really didn’t mean to leave such a break but I came to find not only my next medical questionnaire waiting for me (a full six weeks early because – and I quote – ‘the department want to keep on top of things’. This from the same company who have an 18 month delay in hearing appeals and complain that they make so many mistakes because they are understaffed!), but a request for my last four months of earnings (and while I’m digging out the figures for that I thought I might as well go ahead and complete my second tax return...) Hence the extra week’s absence, sorry. The good news about being away, though, is that I have a bucket-load of AAA music with me that I’ve been waiting to review properly for some time – so expect review of the latest Art Garfunkel and Nils Lofgren albums that I never got a chance to buy in the past few months and reviews of last year’s box sets dedicated to The Beach Boys’ ‘Smile’, The Who’s ‘Quadrophenia’ and Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ ‘Wish You Were Here’ and ‘The Wall’ (perhaps as a three-way review,I’m not sure yet).

Meanwhile, the world seems to have gone mad. Someone is suing the Government – but not the Coalition who deserve it but the past Labour Government (this will start a trend...), there was a protest at the annual British Boat Race about ‘elitism’ by a protestor who was neither unemployed or particularly poor (what a waste that protest could have been...), the new Titanic nearly came to blows on the 100th anniversary of her doomed voyage (what a shame I missed Radio 2’s unprecedented eight hours of coverage based on news reports of events happening 100 years past – and they’d better do the same for the 100th anniversary of Monterey and Woodstock!), the Minister for Water got into trouble for breaking his own announcement of a hosepipe ban and through it all David Cameron sickly grinned and explained how we really are in it together, all of us except for politicians and millionaires who did rather well out of the budget this year (can it be right that the Lord of a house pays less tax than his cleaner?! Hmm...) Worst of all, Britain’s 2012 Eurovision entry has been announced and, lordy, it’s a strange choice; I take back everything rude I ever said about Jedward representing Ireland because we’ve got...Englebert Humperdinck. Yes that’s right, the same man who stopped The Beatles getting a near-clean run of #1 singles. And believe me, age hasn’t suited him, he looked (and sounded) middle aged in the 60s but now...(something tells me we aren’t going for the youth vote this year). And why on earth aren’t we allowed to pick the songs anymore?...

One other thing I’ve purchased this month is the DVD of ‘The Three Cabelleros’, the Disney film that always gets forgotten nowadays, possibly because its release during WW2 meant less people than normal got to see it. Despite the time-period it’s clearly psychedelic in both colour and sound (and weirdness come to that!). I’m willing to bet that more than a few of the AAA crowd saw it in childhood and thought ‘I’ll have a bit of that...’ (you could make a similar claim for parts of ‘Fantasia’, in fact I feel an AAA cartoon-driven top five coming on...) Anyway, if surrealism-filled brightly-coloured anarchy is your thing, I urge you to see it (if it isn’t then go see ‘Bambi’ or ‘Dumbo’, two other classics unfairly dropping off the Disney radar these days, or if imaginary green dragons keen on huming is more your thing then see ‘Pete’s Dragon’, the main theme ‘Candle On The Water’ is by far the best song to appear in a Disney film and the fact that at long last we have a decent vocalist for it (Helen Reddy) is the icing on the cake). By the way, have you ever been to Baia? No me neither, let’s go... (you might need to be a Disney fan to get that reference!)

Right that’s enough moaning (till the next issue!)  It’s on with the news...


Beatles News: We mentioned last issue that Ram was set to be the fourth release in the Macca Deluxe series and with a due release date of the end of May. We can now tell you that theres a release date of May 22nd and that the contents look more exciting than they did for two of the past releases McCartney and Band On the Run. Like all the other releases Ram will be available in a variety of releases including a remastered single disc, 2 disc set with bonus tracks and the full whammy with hard-back book and DVD. Unusually, though, this album will be made available in mono and stereo quite why a mono mix was made as late as 1971 though is  not explained (the last previous Beatles-related album to come out in mono was The White Album back in 1968)  Bonus tracks include the single Another Day and B-side Oh Woman Oh Why, plus period B-side Little Woman Love, two popular refugees from the Cold Cuts rarities album, the superb A Love For You (still not officially released) and Hey Diddle (not released till 1990 as the B-side of Put It There), two outtakes from the Rupert Bear film started after Ram and back when it was still intended as a long-running film not a short cartoon (The Great Cock and Seagull Race and Sunshine Sometime, although sadly the best Rupert outtake track Sea-Storm-Cornish Wafer is not included!) and the noisy jam Rode All Night. Theres also a re-release for the rare Thrillington album made up of crooner easy listening instrumental arrangements of the Ram album, released by McCartney under a pseudonym in 1978! (See, what we tell you below about Macca always threatening to make albums like this really is true!) The DVD looks better than the others in this set too, containing a documentary on the making of the album (frankly, something the other three sets badly needed for the money involved), promos for 3 Legs (rare) and Heart Of The Country (common as cow muck), Macca working on Hey Diddle and a rare clip op of the first line-up of Wings on tour playing Eat At Home. Best of all might well be the menus, featuring clips from the top-10-Beatles-rarities promotional disc for Ram Brung To Ewe (Macca makes up[ his own songs and jingles and everything!) And the music itself is of course superb for the most part (I still dont get the fuss over Uncle Albert, one of Maccas most ordinary songs) Ram is one of only four Macca albums to make our classic albums list (see review no 47) and features some of the most unfairly overlooked songs in the solo Beatles canon. We await the chance to get re-acquainted with this album with baited breath.

In other words, Paul was at Liverpools Cavern Club some 49 years after he last played there as part of the Beatles (alright clever clogs he was back there in 1999 as well), this time to be there for son James who was making one of his rare appearances on these shores to promote his debut album. James has a particularly nice cover of Neil Youngs Old Man in his set, as can be seen on Youtube!

Hollies News: More news on the Radio Fun 2 CD set of BBC sessions we mentioned last issue. The full tracklisting has been revealed, alongside a rather lovely six minute preview on Youtube (visit to hear extracts from seven of the songs). They are: Here I Go Again, Jennifer Eccles, Bus Stop, Ive Got A Way Of My Own, Wings, Step Inside, Wishyouawish, Shake (never released on album!), Put Yourself In My Place, Ride Your Pony (never released on album!), I Take What I Want, Little Bitty Pretty One, Away Away Away, Charlie and Fred, I cant Let Go, Hard Hard Year, If I Needed Someone, Thats How Strong My Love Is, To You MY Love, So Lonely, Nobody, Set Me Free, She Said Yeah!, You Must Believe Me, Lawdy Miss Clawdy, Too Many People, Look Through Any Window, Too Young To Be Married, Im Alive, The Games We Play, He Aint Heavy Hes My Brother. Av salivating list of tracks Im sure youll agree, especially the ones from AAA classic Butterfly heard on normal instruments and the version of Wings as heard on the Youtube preview even includes a missing verse cut from the final version! (Not that many people know even that version...) Hopefully all the chat and interviews between songs will be intact too (at least, thats what we heard when this project was announced a few months ago). Two points though: where are possibly the two best Hollies BBC songs Ive heard, Nitty Gritty (from The Beatles Ticket To Ride special 1965) and Pegasus?   Incidentally, did you know that the Hollies once covered Let It Be in concert? No I didnt either before it ended up on Youtube! The album is due for release on May 7th, expect a review sometime then!

Pentangle News: We just missed including it in our last issue but last Monday (April 16th) saw the broadcast of a rare BBC set from the short-lived group The Bert Jansch Conundrum in 1980. Running to about 25 minutes, it was the main feature of that day’s ‘Live Music Hour’ slot on BBC6 and featured a rare chance to hear Bert’s guitar backing and harmonies wrapped around not his own or Jacqui McShee’s voice but that of his bandmates.

ANNIVERSARIES: Happy birthday to the AAA clan who share a birthday in the weeks since our last issue. First up, April 4th-10th: Spencer Dryden (drummer with the Jefferson Airplane 1966-70) who would have been 73 on April 7th and Gene Parsons (multi-instrumentalist with The Byrds 1968-72) who turns 67 on April 9th. Anniversaries of events include: The Beatles occupy all five places on the top five American singles chart, a feat never equalled before or since (April 4th 1964: Can’t Buy Me Love/ Twist and Shout/ She Loves You/ I Want To Hold Your Hand/ Please Please Me – a further seven Beatles singles are also registered in the top 100 for that week!); The official first day in the office at the Beatles’ ‘Apple’ headquarters in London (April 6th 1968), the date in 1962 when two r and b loving teenagers called Mick Jagger and Keith Richards first meet Brian Jones in his guise as bluesman ‘Elmo Lewis’ and agree to form a band (April 8th), the premier of Neil Young’s ‘shakey’ film ‘Journey Through The Past’ (April 8th 1973), the death of ‘fifth Beatle’ Stuart Sutcliffe after suffering a brain haemorrhage aged 21 – an event that had huge ramifications for the bands’ music (April 10th 1962) and finally, eight years later McCartney announces that the Beatles are to break up (well that’s what’s gone down in history anyway, he actually says that he can’t see a time in the near future when the four will play together again as part of a questionnaire released with copies of his first album ‘McCartney’ out on April 10th 1970).

Next AAA birthdays and anniversaries between April 11th and 17th: Jack Casady (bassist with Jefferson Airplane 1965-72) who turns 67 on April 13th and Billy Kreutzmann (drummer with the Grateful Dead 1965-93) who turns 66 on April 17th. Anniversaries of events include: April 12th saw the premier of the film ‘That’ll Be The Day’ starring Ringo as a teddy boy and various members of the Who backing Billy Fury (1973); The Beatles record Help! on April 13th 1965, Pete Townshend performs his first ever solo concert at London’s Roundhouse on April 14th 1974, the Rolling Stones release two very different LPs on April 15th ten years apart in 1966 and 1976 – ‘Aftermath’ and ‘Black and Blue’ respectively, British viewers get to see the very weird TV special ‘James Paul McCartney’ on April 16th 1973– screened as part of a deal with publisher Lew Grade to drop a publishing dispute arguing that Paul’s wife Linda couldn’t possibly have had a hand in writing some of the ex-Beatles’ biggest songs and finally, Janis Joplin’s posthumous album ‘Pearl’ becomes a runaway success in the charts after its release on April 17th 1971.

Finally, AAA birthdays between April 18th and 24th: Erm, there aren’t any. Sorry about that. Moving on, anniversaries include: The Cavern Club is sold on April 18th 1966 after gradually falling revenue; The first meeting between the Beatles and the Stones during the latter’s gig on home soil at London’s Crawdaddy Club. Despite what you may have read in biogs and press releases of the time the band gets on very well indeed and become firm friends over the next decade (April 21st 1963); Janis Joplin wows the crowds at London’s Royal Albert Hall during her first – and as it turned out only – European tour (April 21st 1969); as part of the conditions of not giving Keith Richards a life sentence for drugs possession, the Stones perform the first of two shows for the blind in Toronto – rumour has it a blind fan Keith had looked after on each of the Stones’ Canadian tours wrote to the judge telling him how kind the guitarist had been to her hence the rather odd court condition (April 22nd 1979) and finally, John Winston Lennon changing his middle name to Ono ‘because she changed her surname and my name now has more O’s in it which is considered lucky’ or something like that; April 22nd 1969).

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