Saturday, 26 May 2012
News, Views and Music Issue 145 (Intro)
Dear friends – get this for how out of touch our beloved Prime Minister is. David Cameron used a speech last week to praise the modern UK record industry for their innovation and inspiration. He’s clearly talking out of his top hat again because even modern music fans agree that the current music scene in B retain is stagnant and repetitive. Cameron clearly offered the praise because the record industry grew infinitesimally in 2011 according to new figures – what the Camermoron forgot to check was that a) that growth was all because of Adele’s ‘21’ record (the biggest seller in Britain since last week’s review album ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ and b) the UK had its worse year by some margin in 2010 and things really could only have got better. This raises a whole debate of course – is an industry successful simply because it makes money or is it something bigger? After all, the Spice Girls were prime leaders in the huge record sales in Britain in the mid 90s, even outselling Oasis, and yet not even their biggest fans would claim the Old Spices had any claim to music making talent. What we dearly need is a new sound from a new band with a new direction, one that’s able to write about a pretty grim time in our history without shirking away from it or simply offering ‘escapism’ (though there’s a place for that too). Talking of ‘Dark Side’, when put on the spot Cameron named this as his ‘favourite album’ and yet when asked to comment about his favourite tracks went ‘umm err umm’ and went on to the next question (is it just me or is the UK’s most famous and best known albums simply a safe option?) Assuming for the moment that Cameron wasn’t lying (erm, it wouldn’t be the first time) let’s hope Cameron digs out his old album and listens to the track ‘Us and Them’ next time he wants to criticise disenfranchised youth who’ve been left with nothing (‘With, without...and after all, isn’t that what the fighting’s all about?’) As I’m writing this news is breaking that culture secretary Jeremy Hunt really has been a naughty boy re donations from media moguls and yet still Cameron is sticking by him (I have no evidence whatsoever to support this but doesn’t that seem a bit, well, strange to you? Is there another bigger scandal Cameron doesn’t want getting out?!...)
In other news, I’ve just heard our Eurovision entry for this year – and we’re going to get hammered. I’m all in favour of the complaints of the British press that our last few entries have been trying too hard to go for the youth vote – but surely getting in the 75-year-old crooner Englebert Humperdinck in to sing is going too far the other way? AAA fans know him best as the man who stopped The Beatles getting a record breaking 20-odd run of unbroken #1 singles, but the real reason to hate him is his music (‘Release Me’ and ‘The Last Waltz’ are two of the worst – certainly the slowest – songs to come out of the 60s. The fact that the former song is the best selling song from the whole of 1967 is a depressing statistic that I’ve pondered on many a time). Bring back Frances Rufelle or Lulu, that’s what I say...
Alas other breaking news is that Bee Gee Robin Gibb has died at the age of 62, shortly after being released home from hospital, leaving Barry as the only surviving Gibb brother (4th son Andy often gets forgotten but not by me – or anyone else who knows of his sterling work on Stephen Stills’ under-rated ‘Thoroughfare Gap’ album). Robin was a true pioneer who never got the credit he deserved, either for his amazing voice or his ability to write heartbreaking timeless songs that voices what so many people are thinking. He will be truly missed and there might well be a Bee Gees top five coming your way sometime soon...
In the meantime, it’s on with the news...
♫ CSN News: There’s yet another new CSN-related DVD out, this time featuring all three of the trio (we reviewed last year’s Crosby-Nash In Concert’ in last issue’s top five). There still isn’t a title for the set yet and not much news but we do know that it’s been recorded on the band’s current (ie 2012) tour and will feature at least three news songs (in addition, perhaps, to the two that appeared on the C-N DVD). The trio still don’t have a record contract so it’s frustrating to hear so many songs of such quality thrown away amongst ‘hits’ set like these – please, somebody reading this, CSN are too important and too good to have to reduce their talent this way, hire them now!!! By the way, the set also comes with a double CD of the audio soundtrack and new interviews with David, Stephen and Graham. More news if and when!
♫ Pentangle News: Following on from the recent flurry of Bert Jansch BBC sessions, BBC6 are now repeating a set by his Pentangle colleague John Renbourn. The show will be part of the ‘Live Music Hour’ slot on Thursday, May 24th at 3am and was originally recorded at the Paris Theatre in London in 1980.
♫ Pink Floyd News: Dear readers, you may have heard me point to some sort of strange synergy before on this site that leads documentary makers to start or broadcast projects mere weeks after I’ve reviewed an album at random. Well, despite the fact that the re-issue came out nearly a year ago BBC4 are only now showing their documentary behind the making of Pink Floyd album ‘Wish You Were Here’ (one of the three box sets we reviewed last week!) The programme will be shown at 8pm on Friday, May 25th and again at 1am that night and will be followed by a repeat of the excellent ‘Floyd Miscellany’ collection of music videos compiled to celebrate the re-release of ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ last Easter.
♫ Otis Redding News: We’re sad to report the news that Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn, the bassist with Booker T and the M Gs has died at the age of 70. The bassist – who played on all of Otis’ six records and backed him in concert – also played with AAA star Neil Young when the MGs backed him in concert in the 1990s. Dunn had been ill health for some time but his death in his sleep from unknown causes was unexpected (he played a gig in Tokyo just hours before his death). A cancer scare led to the cancellation of a planned collaboration with Young, although bootlegs of the concerts still exist and may well be issued in the future as part of the ‘Young Archives’ series. It’s for his work with the STAX label, though, and especially his recordings with Otis than the bassist will be forever remembered. His death is a sad loss to music lovers all over the world. More news if and when we hear it.
♫ Rolling Stones News: The event in Stones history nicknamed ‘World War 3’ by fans only ever had an uneasy truce, with Mick and Keef’s arguments over solo records versus commitment to the band still festering today if interviews and autobiographies are to be believed. Fan hopes were high that the Stones might still patch up their differences for a conciliatory tour in this, their 50th anniversary year, but alas the omens don’t look good. Mick Jagger’s been promoting his recent flop ‘supergroup’ with Bob Marley’s son and the Eurhythmic’s Dave Stewart a lot recently and booked an appearance on the acerbic American skit show ‘Saturday Night Live’. The Stones often appeared on the show as both guests and hosts in the 1970s and 80s and hopes were high that this might be the case again when Keef revealed he wanted to appear alongside his old partner. Alas, his appearance has been axed and Mick will be going solo – a fact that might well have repercussions for some time to come. More news if and when we hear it...
♫ The Who News: Finally, another BBC6 repeat which was on last Saturday, May 19th) in the Live Music Hour slot (and still available on I-player). It lasted for all of nine minutes but what we had was amazing: four songs from The Who at the very beginnings of their career and playing songs like ‘Good Lovin’ (which they never played on record – the Grateful Dead also did this one) and ‘Just You and Me’ (unreleased till the 1990s) plus the rather more obvious ‘Anyway Anyhow Anywhere’ and ‘Leaving Here’. Well worth a listen.
ANNIVERSARIES: Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear AAA members born between May 23rd and 29th (Pete Sears (bassist/keyboardist with the Jefferson Starship/Starship 1973-86) who turns 64 on May 27th; Papa John Creach (violinist with Jefferson Airplane/Starship 1970-75) would have been 95 on May 28th and Ray Laidlaw (drummer with Lindisfarne 1970-72 and 1978-2002, plus drummer with Jack The Lad 1973-78) turns 64 on May 28th), happy birthday to you. Happy 30th birthday also to Rob Jones, Who Stones and Small Faces collector and all round top guy. Anniversaries of events include: The Beach Boys release their ‘response’ to Beatlemania with ‘I Get Around’ (May 23rd 1964); Another legendary release – The Who’s double album ‘Tommy’ turns 41 on May 23rd; The Beatles’ posthumous album Let It Be’ sets a then-record amount for pre-order sales (3.7 million – May 23rd 1970); the Grateful Dead play their first ever date in the UK in Newcastle some five years after their debut despite their cult following in Britain (May 23rd 1970); Jefferson Starship find that their planned free concert in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park – a venue they made their own 10 years before – has now been outlawed after authorities ban the use of electronic instruments at outdoor events. The ban inspires the #1 Starship hit ‘We Built This City’ some eight years later (May 23rd 1977); milestone ‘comeback’ single ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash restores the Rolling Stones to the top of the charts for the first time in three years (May 24th 1968); Simon and Garfunkel become the first artist since The Beatles to replace themselves at the top of the album charts when ‘Bookends’ replaces ‘The Graduate Soundtrack’ (May 25th 1968); The Who perform a secret gig to a handful of fans to end the rockumentary film ‘The Kids Are Alright’ - it will be the last time Keith Moon plays with the band (May 25th 1978), John and Yoko begin their second bed-in at a hotel in Montreal (May 26th 1970), Ronnie Lane becomes the first member to leave The Faces to form his own band ‘Slim Chance’ (May 28th 1973) and finally, Roger McGuinn plays his first solo gig after the break-up of The Byrds (May 29th 1973).