In-depth reviews of classic or neglected albums, mainly from the 1960s and 70s, plus a weekly newsletter featuring all the latest news, views and music. Artists covered include Beach Boys, Beatles, Belle and Sebastian, Buffalo Springfield, Byrds, Crosby Stills and Nash, Dire Straits, Grateful Dead, Hollies, Jefferson Airplane/Starship, Kinks, Nils Lofgren, Monkees, Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, Searchers, Simon and Garfunkel, Small Faces, 10cc, The Who and Neil Young.
Happy new year! Yes it really is that time already when we get to look back on another year, prepare for another one, remember all those new year’s resolutions we promised ourselves so faithfully 12 months ago and get ready set go for another year full of news, views and music. If the world doesn’t blow itself up first of course – remember according to the Mayan calendar we have until December 21st to prepare for the threat. That still means we can fit in a quick 48 issues or so of news, views and music so and hopefully a future alien race will be able to revive the internet and find this site so all that work isn’t wasted. Perhaps it’ll be one of our friendly clanduspords from Zigorous 3 as mentioned in our april fool’s day editions?!
Having a quick look back at the first issue of 2011 (news and views no 86) I see that – against all odds – some of the things that we wanted to happen last year did indeed come true. Two whole black and white lost episodes of Dr Who were returned to the BBC last month, a tiny footage of TOTP was recovered (albeit not featuring any AAA artists), our stat counter really did bulge much more than we ever thought possible, there were indeed a few decent additions to the AAA canon (see our review of the year last issue) and thankfully the planned Spice Girls reunion never happened – meaning that, to all intents and purposes, the scary five did indeed retire! Wa-hoo! Alas a lot of our ‘worst fears’ from that issue seemed to happen too: David Cameron got ever nearer to world domination and undoing the few good things Labour ever actually managed to achieve, the highest profile AAA star of 2011 by far really was Lulu and only because of a reality TV show (though on Strictly Come Dancing rather than X factor as we predicted) and I very nearly did end up in the monkeynuts home for retired music reviewers several times over the course of the year after harassments from chronic fatigue, three computer breakdowns and continual harassment from the department of work and pensions. Worst of all, in 2011 we lost two AAA luminaries: Pentangle guitarist Bert Jansch and Monkees co-creator Bert Schneider, sad losses both that didn’t make anything like the splash in the newspapers that either man deserved.
So what are our hopes for this year?: Well, more music, more reviewing and a much bigger presence of AAA in all shapes and forms I reckon, a bit like 2011 but more so (remember that thrill when The Hollies made #1 in the Amazon box set best-seller lists? Or was that just me?!) Our fears for this year: more pointless and mismanaged Coalition cuts, more misunderstanding of our economic situation, an even greater cutback in our democratic values and humanitarian policies and a return to the dark class wars we thought were long behind us. The fact that the first AAA member to announce an album this year so far is Ringo (whose last album released less than a year ago was awfulness personified) doesn’t bode well for 2012, but then again things can only get better from here. Let’s hope 2012 finds a way to bridge that gap between poor and rich, war and peace, anger and kindness, trust and betrayal and The Beatles versus The Spice Girls.
In happier news, I’ve come across a terrific new gadget from the makers of Youtube that will enable you to convert all of their precious soundtracks into mp3 downloads for your i-pod/cd players: you can visit it yourselves at http://www.youtube-mp3.org/With it I’ve been able to track down many a rare and lost gem entirely legally (with the promise that I’d be first in the queue to buy this stuff were the artists to ever release things officially) – and you can too, without having to pay for any of those silly subscriptions or monthly charges over sites make. Remember, there’s a treasure trove of unavailable AAA rarities on Youtube, as listed on our very pages (see news and views 119-121) so if your xmas presents were disappointing and you still want to add something new to your listening devices for the new year, it’s not too late. I’m currently grooving to a whole batch of Hollies BBC sessions which, like most everything by The Hollies, are absolutely fantastic (get a move on and release them now, EMI!)
♫ Beatles News: Oh dear. There’s a new Ringo album out, ‘Ringo 2012’, in February and the signs aren’t good. For the record, I really admired the Ringo of the 1990s, who made two really good albums (‘Time Takes Time’ and ‘Vertical Man’) with people who really believed in his talent and got the best out of him – the fact that Ringo made both albums after overcoming so many personal problems and battles with alcohol and had the courage to write about his demons impressed me greatly. He re-learnt the knack of writing a clever tune, too.But since then Ringo’s dropped the people who cared for him to work with any old geezer whose ever wanted to know a Beatle and rushing his albums out in the space of a few weeks when they really do need time spent on them as before. Last year’s album ‘Y Not?’ may well be the nadir of my record collection: lots of angry shouting about nothing subjects that have obviously been rankling in Ringo’s mind for 50 odd years with only empty peace-and-love epithets to break up the mood. It was embarrassing, frankly, perhaps the first time since Lennon’s ‘lost weekend’ that a Beatle had something so serious to be embarrassed about. I don’t really think Ringo’s changed that much in just eight months, especially having read two new interviews with him where he’s still unusually spiky and defensive for no reason(he’s surprisedpeople still want to talk about his past? When he was in The Beatles?!And there are only two of them left?!?!), nor do I think the world needs another Ringo record so soon quite honestly. Things don’t bode well either because Ringo is following up his witty but quite frankly nasty song about his hometown ‘The Other Side Of Liverpool’ with a second song (‘In Liverpool’) about Ringo’s down-and-out teenage years when he hated the city even more. If Ringo had written these songs at the time he was suffering I’d have supported him, but banging on about your miserable childhood a half-century on while writing from a mansion in Monaco that your Liverpool fans helped pay for when no one else believed in you is quite another.If you’d have told any Beatles fan in the 1960s that in 50 years time Ringo is going to be making albums slagging off his birthplace and Paul was going to do a whole album of crooner cover versions I think they’d all have been bitterly disappointed. Let’s hope for better things from the fab two in 2012...
♫ Lulu News: ‘Champagne for Lulu!’ Local lass and Edge Hill graduate Jennifer Saunders’ comedy was back on over Christmas with two specials of her 1990s comedy ‘Absolutely Fabulous’. New Year’s Day’s episode saw a return of Lulu as a guest on the show sparring against – of all people – a spice girl! To be fair Emma ‘Baby’Bunton was a good sport, there was even a gag about being a ‘sort of’ singer, but Lulu seemed a bit out of sorts, being prevented from doing her trademark ‘Shout!’ mid-breath. The plot, generally irrelevant to the series, was about a famous fashion designer wanting to become singer but one who had no voice whatsoever that anybody could hear, hence the presence of the two ‘singers’ as ‘coaches’. The end result? A great postmodern joke when secretary Bubbles (played by Jane Horrocks) sang off-stage to great applause (she did a similar thing in the hit film ‘Little Voice’ a few years back). For my money, though, I don’t know why anyone else turns up to a show where the great Julia Swahala and Joanna Lumley upstage everybody every time, often without saying a word...
♫ Pentangle: BBC6 are repeating an ‘in session’ performance by Bert Jansch, in tribute to the guitarist who died last year. The session takes place on Thursday, January 5th at 4am as part of the ‘live music hour’, following a set from Pink Floyd collaborator Roy Harper.
ANNIVERSARIES: Birthday bonanzas for the busiest week of AAA musicians we’ve had for some time (between January 3rd and 9th): George Martin (producer of The Beatles 1962-69 and various solo albums) turns 86 on January 3rd, Van Dyke Parks (lyricist on The Beach Boys’ ‘Smile’) turns 71 on January 3rd, Stephen Stills (guitarist with Buffalo Springfield 1965-68 and Crosby, Stills and Nash 1969-present) turns 67 on January 3rd, Syd Barratt (guitarist and so much more with Pink Floyd 1967-68) who would be 66 on January 6th, Jerry Garcia (guitarist with the Grateful Dead 1965-95) who would be 69 on January 8th and Terry Sylvester (guitarist with The Hollies 1969-80) who turns 65 on January 8th. Anniversaries of events include: Beach Boy Carl Wilson refuses to join the Army ranks after being drafted (January 3rd 1967); JohnandYoko’s ‘Two Virgin’s record is released – in brown paper bags after distributors object to the ‘pornographic’ front sleeve (January 3rd 1969); The last ever Beatles recording – and even then minus John Lennon – takes place for the George Harrison song ‘I Me Mine’ which had just been added to edits of the ‘Let It Be’ film (January 4th 1970), Performance – the film that all but split the Stones after Mick Jagger was cast in the lead alongside first Brian Jones and then Keith Richards’ partner Anita Pallberg- is first shown (January 4th 1971); The release of The Beatles’ first record – well, sort of, the release is the German-only small label single ‘My Bonnie’ credited to Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers (January 5th 1962); The sad death of ‘fifth Beatle’ and unsung hero Mal Evans, who is shot by police in America after threatening suicide (January 5th 1976); The Rolling Stones headline their first tour with The Ronettes in support (January 6th 1964); The first new John Lennon song since his death in December 1980, ‘Nobody Told Me’, is released as a single (January 6th 1984); Max Yasgur is sued for $20,000 of damage to properties following the Woodstock concert the previous August (January 7th 1970) and finally, Crosby, Stills and Nash release their last (to date) platinum-selling album ‘Daylight Again’ (January 7th 1983).
It’s really hard trying to relax when you’re a monkeynuts album reviewer, dear readers – everywhere you look there seems to be a mention of an AAA group somewhere! This week there I was looking through some old (and I really do mean old) Beano and Dandy comic strips (kindly collected into some excellent reference books by publishers D C Thompson) and to my astonishment in the 1960s volume alone there are four references to The Beatles and one about The Beach Boys. Is it the fascinating music the cartoonists wish to pay worship to? The way these two bands shaped popular culture for the better? The wit, wisdowm and intelligence of their media coverage? Err, no, it’s usually the hair-styles that are being attacked...For the purposes of reading these comic strips and see what I’m writing about you need either a) the excellent ‘Classic Years’ book ‘Swinging Round The Sixties’ or b) a large pile of pristine comics from the years 1964-67. Alas comics famously never have page numbers, so I can’t point you to the pages directly, but nevertheless here for the collector who has to have everything are the top five Beano/Dandy AAA cartoon-music crossovers!
1)Korky The Cat from ‘The Dandy’ edition of February 1st 1964:
More than any other month, February 1964 was the one when the fab four were on everybody’s lips (and gramophones). The band still hold the record for the most TV viewers ever during their segment on ‘The Ed Sullivan’ show and had just released their third (or fourth depending which chart you use) number one with ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’. Even cartoonists knew The Beatles weren’t a phenomenon that was going to fade and make their strips incomprehensible to future readers and that must be why there are so many references to The Beatles that particular month. The first features perennial favourite Korky The Cat (bring him back, Dandy!) who is plagued, as ever, by the noisy mice that live in his bedroom. Fed up of listening to Korky’s tuneless guitar playing, the mice sneak up to his instrument and cut their own acoustic instruments out of it (not very likely, I know, but this is a cartoon remember – don’t try this at home because it won’t work and your guardians will be angry!) Next day Korky comes back from work (what work did he actually do by the way? He’s a cat!) and is surprised to find an awful noise coming from his windows and a load of swooning female mice outside his door. All becomes clear when he sees a sign saying ‘Beatle Mice’ and a small band singing that memorable hit ‘She loves cheese, yeah yeah yeah!’. I think I need a lie down now...
2) Dennis The Menace from ‘The Beano’ edition of February 22nd 1964:
Softy Walter’s a credit to his family. There he is, off to his music lessons with violin in hand (presumably grade eight knowing Walter) alongside his dad and who should they bump into than Mr Menace? (well, Dennis’ dad anyway – does he ever actually get a name in all the 60-odd years he’s been in the Beano?!) He sighs whilst listening to endless gossip about how well Walter’s doing – by comparison all Dennis has a talent for is ‘getting into trouble’ – and decides that he’d rather fight his son than risk another bout of crowing from Walter senior. Dennis, of course, isn’t buying the idea of becoming a musical genius, fixing his flute with peas to act like a ‘pea-shooter’ and when told to choose something else asks for a ‘cornet’ (because, naturally enough, he thinks its something to do with an ice cream – what a silly name for an instrument, no wonder he’s so confused). Along the way he picks up Walter’s violin and gives a quick rendition of ‘I’m a menace, yeah yeah yeah!’, complete with a Beatle wig he’s got from somewhere about his person (before The Beatles came along, Dennis must have had the longest hair of any person in Britain anyway, so I can’t say it makes all that much difference!) Of course, it all ends in tears with Dennis expelled from his music lesson and his dad using his behind as a drum-kit (about 90% of these cartoon strips seem to end in some form of corporal punishment – there must have been a Coalition Government in power back then too as ours are already talking of repealing that law!)
3)Korky The Cat from ‘The Dandy’ issue dated June 13th 1964:
If you’re of a nervous disposition, dear reader, look away now. Korky The Cat is being a barber this week (why?!) and thinks American style crew cuts are going to be the ‘new’ in-fashion to have. So he puts a board up outside his shop (where did he rent that from?!?) and encourages some long-haired mop topped Beatles fans in. There seems to be an awful lot of them around in Beanotown – more evidence that Beatlemania really did get everywhere! Korky then sticks a colander over his customer’s heads (where did a cat get a colander from?!?!? Oh, Never mind...), plays a scary movie on a projector (perhaps it was a music video of ‘The Mice Girls’ some thirty years early?) and when his ‘customers’ / ‘victims’ are sufficiently shocked cuts all the hair that sticks out through the holes. Ingenious, but not actually recommended, unless you want to have blotches of hair left behind (perhaps that’s what happened to The Human League’s Phil Oakey in the band’s early days and nobody told him?!)
4)Corporal Clott from ‘The Beano’ issue datedSeptember 5th 1964:
The bumbling Corporal Clott is clearly only three letters and not many genes away from Pink Floyd’s damning 1968 song ‘Corporal Clegg’ (a song that’s taken on a whole new life since Nick joined the coalition!) But this cartoon actually references The Beatles yet again in another of The Beano’s cartoons obsessed with hair. The Sergeant Major’s on the warpath once more, this time obsessed with his patrol’s moptop haircuts. Corporal Clott is ordered to wait in the barber’s shop with a pair of scissors (he should know not to put Clott in charge by now – surely the name gives it away as much as anything!) until the men come along peacefully. These being soldiers, of course, they fail to do anything peacefully and instead kick up a right fuss (involving ‘friendly fire’ somewhere we’ll bet). Trapping the platoon with the lure of, erm, cigarettes (times really have changed in the past 50 years haven’t they?!) Clott drops a wooden board with head-shaped holes over the men and starts hacking away. A second group of men are fooled by Clott in a lion suit who makes them run into some railings, leaving their heads stuck long enough for the lion to give them a quick back and sides (frankly they deserve it – The Beano’s always doing that gag and they should be used to it by now). A third group of men are lured by the promise of a super-duper hair cream that will give them all the ability to grow their hair super-quick and look just like The Beatles – only Clott is really handing them super-glue and is ‘forced’ to cut their hair off from the roots. Nice to know our armed forces are in such safe hands isn’t it? Mission accomplished, Clott feels rather pleased with himself, until an angry mob realise they’ve been fooled and stick a rather fetching Renaissance wig on his bonce, giving that timeless joke about it being a ‘permanent wave’ (see the Ringo Starr album ‘Old Wave’ and the Kinks song ‘Permanent Waves’). Oh, how we laughed. Some of us. When we were really really bored and we weren’t allowed to watch the telly and it was raining outside and you had your maths homework to do and oh you get the picture... (Quite honestly the Corporal Clott cartoons were the worst thing in the Beano, apart from the text stories – did anyone actually read those?! – and simply filled in room where my own favourites The Bash Street Kids, Little Plum or Minnie The Minx could have fitted).
5)Korky The Cat from ‘The Beano’ issue dated February 25th 1967:
Finally, Korky The Cat is at it again, starring in his strip with ‘The Bleach Boys’ this time (the illustrator clearly knew their music, because the haircuts are spot on!) Actually this cartoon strip is highly revealing, offering an insight into the up and down nature of the record industry in early 1967 and the fickleness of fame at a point in time when the public at large had assumed The Beach Boys were passe (ha! If only ‘Smile’ had come out at Xmas 1966 they’d have all been eating out of their hats!) Korky promises new-found success to the band if they follow his suggestions which include – you guessed it – a haircut, sending the band to sleep with sleeping pills and hacking all that hair off. Again. Left bald as a coot, each band member (for some reason they’re a trio – perhaps it’s just The Wilson brothers left in this era) is incandescent with rage until they realise that being bald is beautiful and begin a whole new career as ‘The Bawled Boys’ (yes, I know, it’s an awful pun isn’t it?! I’m surprising you’re still reading this article to be honest!) I’m impressed to say the compiler of these cartoons in book form about five years ago clearly knows his stuff, suggesting that this whole cartoon strip was an inspiration for The Beach Boys track ‘She’s Goin’ Bald’, released on ‘Smiley Smile’ late in 1967, the same year as this cartoon!
And that’s all for another issue – see you next time at Alan’s Album Archives!
A NOW COMPLETE List Of Top Five/Top Ten/TOP TWENTY Entries 2008-2019
233) AAA Surnames and Their Meanings http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/aaa-surnames-and-their-meanings-news.html
234) 20 Erroneous AAA Album Titles http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/twenty-erroneous-aaa-album-titles-news.html
235) The Best AAA Orchestral Arrangements http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/fifteen-great-aaa-string-parts-news.html
236) Top 30 Hilariously Misheard Album Titles/Lyrics http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/top-thirty-hilariously-misheard-aaa.html
237) Ten controversial AAA sackings - and whether they were right http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/ten-controversial-aaa-sackings-news.html
238) A Critique On Critiquing - In Response To Brian Wilson http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/a-critique-on-critiquing-in-response-to.html
239) The Ten MusicianS Who've Played On The Most AAA Albums http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/the-ten-musicians-whove-played-on-most.html
240) Thoughts on #CameronMustGo http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/thoughts-on-cameronmustgo.html
241) Random Recent Purchases (Kinks/Grateful Dead/Nils Lofgren/Rolling Stones/Hollies) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/six-random-recent-purchases-kinksg.html
242) AAA Christmas Number Ones http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/aaa-christmas-number-ones.html
243) AAA Review Of The Year 2014 (Top Releases/Re-issues/Documentaries/DVDs/Books/Songs/ Articlesplus worst releases of the year) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/aaa-review-of-year-2014.html