Friday 1 April 2016

April Fool's Day 2016 - The Pixie Drainpipe Story

Now available to buy as part of 'A Scrapbook Of Madness - The Alan's Album Archives Guide To...Alan's Album Archives' in e-book format by clicking here

Dear readers, I'm taking a break from my usual role of promoting time travel technology (my hobby alongside such other interests as walking, hang-gliding and tickling pet argibraffes) to offer the following explanation of what you're about to read. Your usual editor since 2025 Max The Singing Dog' (recently upgraded to a level nine android dog) is a bit busy this week testing out one of my newest inventions so he won't be giving you his usual introduction (which, to be honest, doesn't seem to have changed much in 5000 years). No don't worry, it won't create a rupture through space or time or anything like that (not like the other year, ho ho, sorry about that!) - he'll be along in a minute. You see, me and my boffins at Bo Face Technology have been working hard on a 'parallel universe nexus machine' which we think will do wonders for the future development of man and dog and clandusprod-kind, enabling us to work out statistically how our future lies might pan out. We thought it only fair given our close ties to Alan's Album Archives to let editor Max have the first go (besides, it helps pay off part of the community service from our last calamity - we only have another four millennia to go, which was a bit harsh after all; I mean we really enjoyed all of time turning up at once and only David Cameron and his previous lives, a traitor wanted for crimes in all of them, had any bad experiences). Anyway Max naturally enough wanted to know how a music career might have turned out if he'd had the musical talent of one of the AAA bands. Unfortunately while he was inside the machine and still trying to decide who to pick, his friend Bingo turned up after a drinking session down the pub and thought he was being 'helpful' by nominating every AAA band and jumping into the machine himself. Bingo, as you may well know after sitting through several hundred AAA Youtube adverts, has something of a split personality and there ended up being eight members of him in the band at one point, even with a couple of teddy bear session musicians. As a result this week's article is a little more, erm, muddled than it was meant to be (it's not my fault this time honest!) with Max and Bingo's alternative career and discography looking a little, well, familiar to those of you who know a thing or twenty about our AAA bands (see how many you can spot before we give the, err, 'similarities'). Oh dear. It looks like we may be adding a few extra millennia onto our ASBOs again this year, but at least you're all still in the correct time-streams this year so consider this a bonus...

This seems like a good opportunity to point out the good that our time and space experiments have been doing throughout the Western spiral galaxy however (where Alan's Album Archives is now the 8,719,463rd most read website - figures from Megaalien Marketing Ltd). You can now take a special AAA holiday of a lifetime which will include stop-off points at the Cavern Club to watch The Beatles in 1960, The Monkees TV series being filmed in 1966, lots of bands playing at Woodstock in 1969 and the overthrow of the evil Conservative rulers in 2017 (with free rotten fruit to throw at Ian Duncan Smith, revealed as a Doosbury Giant alien intent on world destruction at last!) Due to the recent financial crash these holidays now cost only £9,999,999,999,999 Belobrat dollars or threepence in Clandusprod currency or you could just enter our competition to win the prize. All you have to do to enter is give the ending to the following statement: 'A Belobrat, a Human, a Clandusprod and a Zigorosian walked into a bar...' Please note that we won't be accepting the following answers on the grounds that they're too obvious: '....and said 'ouch!' 'We don't serve crabs but in your case I'll make an exception' 'Don't shout or everyone will want one' or 'the nexus point of the interstellar polarity neutron flow dissolved due to the interstitial existential symbiotic thickness of the auxillary engines'. Just send your entries into the following u-mail (Universal mail): Remember time-travelling is cooler than a Clandusprod at Christmas and it's your support and contributions and lack of law suits that make what we do possible. Thanks again!

Yours from Belobrat Prison

Dr Zeus (No relation!)

Well, that was an interesting experience, dear readers. Although I was told later I was only in the machine for a fraction of a second it seemed to last a whole career to me, full of ups and downs, highs and lows, chart-toppers and band rows. I must admit I was rather shocked to end up in a band with eight Bingos, all of which began to have 'musical disagreements' with each other left right and centre and especially with me (most of them becoming drunk in the process). However I like to think we made some great music despite our differences and taught the world to be a better, kinder place - our world, obviously, not yours as you've still got David Cameron in power. In 'our' world band members came and went ('Baby Spice' even joined the Spice Dogs - ouch!) so they didn't all appear on all our 29 albums. However this was the line-up we started with: quite a handsome band I'm sure you'll agree - especially the canine at the end!

Here, then, is our story. Imagine my shock when we found that Dr Zeus' infernal machine had sent us back to childhood, my memory of my life back in 'your' time wiped! There I was, a young puppy once again with a top hat several sizes too big for me forced to go back to school! Luckily I met the first of many Bingos while performing in a production of 'Alice In Wonderland' - unluckily for me, I was the Cheshire Cat, a role I hated (1) Music was my first love in any dimension so I spent my spare time learning how to play every instrument I could get my hands on. My biggest discovery was when I was learning to play guitar in my kennel with a very low roof and got a bit carried away showing off to my puppy friends 'windmilling'. Of course, I nonchalantly pretended that I'd pretended to do that all along. It got very wet after that whenever it rained, but at least I'd found a new part of my act! (2) In time I managed to meet multiple seven of the Bingos out there (he was part of a very big litter in our world, all of them lunatics!), but we only really started playing together after seeing his band The Moondogs play at the Woollyton Sheep Village Fete. Meeting up with him after the show (where else but a damp and dark cellar known as 'The Cavern'?) we accidentally got trapped down there a dark and damp cellar. 'Help!' me and the seven Bingos shouted until we decided that as we were a band we ought to be singing rather than shouting and had a go at performing 'Help!' instead. Luckily another of Bingo's selves, Murray Loog-Epstein, heard our shouts and decided to put us on the stage instead, turning the cellar into a nightclub - where we were so awful we were promptly sacked (3). Of course, we told our later biographers a more romantic story about meeting at a party and singing in perfect harmony to the song 'You Do Have To Cry, The Conservatives Are In Power' - but we could never remember if our story was meeting in Moni Jitchell's living room or Cama Mass' kitchen (4). We finally met our final members, Bertie and Barty Bear, during a jobcentre course in Glasgow where we were actually meant to be studying Business studies. Luckily for us one of our term projects was selling something in a unique way so we hastily invented the internet and - after downloading Lucy's Longplayer Library (no AAA in our universe!) - set about recording our first album (5).

Of course, first we needed a name. It came to me in a vision when a man on a flaming hot pie came to me and told me 'you are Pixie Drainpipe with a Z', so we were (6). It was a name that said exactly what we were: small, desperate and downright bonkers. Of course that story wasn't very romantic either so we told the press that we'd stolen the name from the license plates of two steamrollers we'd passed while in a traffic jam and trying to flag down a hearse driving in the opposite direction. However nobody seemed to notice that they'd never actually seen companies named 'Pixie' or 'Drainpipe'. Yeah right, next you'll be telling me there's a group called 'Buffalo Springfield'! (7) Our career really took off when we moved out from the Cavern Cellar to a nearby club - 'The Iron Bone' - where we proceeded to play every R and B (Rhythm and Bones) song of the day (8). Our audience hated it, one of them telling us off backstage for playing so badly and telling us 'I like to take my missus out every Friday to give her a treat and someone ought to tell you - you're awful and you'd better Go Now'. Under Bingo Murray Loog-Epstein's watchful eye, we decided to change our R and B set (Rhythm and Bones) and make a concept album about the days of the week instead: Bingo, naturally, called it 'Days Of Future Pissed' (9).

Next up we went on a tour of...Britain's university campuses, where nobody had ever heard of our new band and we got paid 50p at the door whenever the student's union bar decided to let us in (10). Undeterred we got a record contract with the hottest record label in town: an amalgamation of 'Apple' and 'Pye' (mmm, apple pie!) It was for them we recorded our first album at home in our kitchen in a single hour long take for £100 and all the bones we could eat (11). Suddenly things were taking off for us and we even had a flying pig appear with us on the cover of our first release - for a time he was even in the band! Sadly he flew away somewhere over Battersea Dogs Home Power Station (12). That was just the start of it too - in time we built up a massive hippie following known as 'The Boneheads' who turned out to as many gigs as they could across a span of thirty years as they listened to us improvise for hours on end (13). We even had our own prime-time TV series where we all lived in the same house and ended up escaping from mad professors and incompetent spies in between colourful 'romps' where we played our hit songs. Given that there were still seven Bingos in the band back then, it was absolute mayhem (14). The biggest hit single of our career came next, but it was a real pain to record. There we were, going 'aaah' into a synthesiser all day on different notes so we could have a full choir of 'Pixies'; the resulting record 'I'm Not In Love, I've Just Got Indigestion' was a smash (literally when Bingo dropped our only copy) (15). After this we were natural choices to represent the canine community for the all-species world satellite special where we recorded a special version of our other big hit 'All You Need Are Bones' (16).

Sadly, after that it all started to go wrong. Murray Loog-Epstein, our manager for so many years, suddenly revealed to us both that he was really our father and that he hadn't got a clue how to work the mixing board, so we reluctantly let him go during sessions to record our new single 'Help Me, Bingo' (17). We got a bit too pretentious for our own good and decided to release a record with a 'cardboard sleeve' as a comment on how colourful and expensive everybody else's records were getting - in truth it just looked a bit tatty (18). For a time I removed my top hat and reverted to a headband in the hope that fans wouldn't recognise me (19). We decided as a band to make a home-made TV special to be broadcast on Boxer Dog Day which would feature our adventures in a magical train - however we never actually got round to writing it and improvised it instead, confusing most of our fanbase (20). In the end I had a big party where I got out of my fur on cracked canes and was discovered by police with a local poodle named Marianne Furfull dressed only in a fur rug. I ended up being sentenced to prison, but only ended up spending one night inside before a national outcry in all the papers and evidence that I had my canes on prescription saw me released ('Who breaks a dog in a top hat on a wheel?' read one headline). It was obvious though - the establishment was out to get us (21).

It all got too much for me. I fell dangerously ill after partying too hard and ended up taking a holiday at the seaside where I drifted out to sea and the current was too strong for me to get back to shore (I was only doing doggy paddle at the time). In the end I had a religious crisis and converted to Caninetholicism, which was the moment a massive tidal wave came along and took me back to shore (22). I released my first solo album then, a concept album about a bunch of hippie dogs stealing a starship intended to spread capitalism and cats across the world but which was used to spread peace and love and dogs instead. The recording also saw the launching of my new-look band 'Pixie Starship' (23). Meanwhile Pixie Drainpipe recorded their last project together - a surreal film about the band escaping from being trapped in a black kennel which didn't even mention the band name in our publicity. None of our fans understood it at the time but in time it became heralded as a cult postmodern classic. We called it 'Head-ache', because that's what you got after you watched it (24). We eventually played our last gig on top of our kennel - which was very difficult with the sloping roof (25). The last split came when I made the reasonable suggestion of wanting to advertise my new top hat business in our tour programme - and Bingo threw a satsuma at me (26). I later sent him a telegram reading 'Funny how some things that start off spontaneously end that way. eat a peach - or a bone! Love, Max' (27). In reply they took my face and name off the record we were partway through making, re-recorded some of my songs without asking and replaced me on the cover with a picture of a horse! (28)

In the end both our groups continued, at first splitting into two: The Pixie Faces and The Humble Drainpipes (29). The Pixie Faces, for instance, brought in a singer from Sweden who had a great baritone voice (I was very jealous!) but barely knew any English which made recording sessions a bit tricky (30). As for me I recorded a few more pop albums as 'Pixie Starship' and then just 'Starship' before forming my new band under a new alias: Booker T Dog and the MGs (the MGs stood for 'Mountain Gorillas') (31) Later I formed a new supergroup under the name The Traveling Bilburys with such canine superstars as Dogtanion, Sweep from the Sooty Show, the Blue Peter dog Shep and Lassie (32). Thankfully, just as I was on the verge of retirement and contemplating the cabaret scene, I woke up and ended up back here in 'your' world, with no time passing at all, though I could remember almost all of my 'other' life. In the end it was an exhilarating life I wouldn't have changed for anything and we came up with quite a large discography between us. Scroll down to see it - after a few 'answers' of course!

(1) - In reality where Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel first met; Arty was the Cheshire Cat and Paul the White Rabbit

(2) This really happened to Pete Townshend of The Who, but on stage one night obviously not in a kennel (he's a bit tall for that!)

(3) This isn't strictly what happened to The Beatles and involves breaking certain linear barriers of time and space, but heck you all know the real story far too well by now!

(4) Crosby, Stills and Nash have similar memory losses apparently, though the Conservatives were a long way away from Laurel Canyon.

(5) Which is, astonishingly, how Belle and Sebastian were formed. The lecturers, who hardly ever turned up, were astonished that a course that was only meant to keep the unemployed off the streets actually made something worthwhile, despite all the obstacles they tries to put in the way.

(6) John Lennon had something similar to say to 'Beatcomber', a column in Merseybeat magazine, in 1960.

(7) This unlikely tale is actually true, though Buffalo Springfield got permission from their company who parked a steamroller outside their house. This is also the story of how they met (or rather re-met given that four of the band were mutual friends), with Neil the owner of the distinctive looking hearse, useful for lugging instruments and equipment around.

(8) The Searchers were the true stars of 'The Iron Door Club', the other side of Liverpool to The Cavern

(9) The Moody Blues were slightly more sober when they switched from R and B to making 'Days Of Future Passed' in 1967. The insult really did happen the year before and was the biggest catalyst in their change of style, fortune and band members.

(10) A risky strategy that only worked for Wings because their band included an 'ex-Beatle' - all we had to offer was a 'now-Bingo'

(11) Pentangle guitarist Bert Jansch did this in 1965 - minus the bit about bones obviously, he got paid in beer knowing Bert - which given the amount of people who cite his debut as an influence must make it one of the best £100s ever spent in the history of music

(12) Pink Floyd's of course, was inflatable - or at least, that's what they tell us. I like to think he was a real pig by the name of Charlie who helped out with the lyrics when Roger Waters wasn't looking.

(13) The Grateful Dead 'Deadheads' of course. Bonus marks if you spotted the Oasis reference by the way.

(14) The Monkees did something similar I hear, though Mike Nesmith had a 'wool-hat' not a 'top hat' like me.

(15) 10cc did quite well with their version too, though without any tummy troubles.

(16) The Beatles sang 'All You Need Is Love' while representing Britain during the world's first satellite link-up. Just how much more fun it would have been with different species taking part though!

(17) The Beach Boys of course knew that their manager was their father/uncle (as if they needed reminding!), but he was pretty clueless at mixing their records - the engineer used to give him his own 'dummy board' so none of his changes would affect the final mix!

(18) Lindisfarne's 'difficult third album' Dingly Dell suffered this problem too.

(19) This is, I repeat, not why Mark Knopfler wore one in Dire Straits but I had to shoe-horn the group in here somehow!

(20) Our equivalent of The Beatles' 'Magical Mystery Tour. The walrus was Bingo by the way. As was the pig, rabbit and parrot. I was the dog. Typecasting at its finest.

(21) The Rolling Stones - or at least Mick Jagger and Keith Richards - were in a similar predicament in 1967 and their drugs really were prescription ones! (What would the police have done if they'd discovered what they were really taking?!)

(22) All of this did happen to Cat Stevens, but not all at the same time - even his life wasn't quite that eventful!

(23) Jefferson Airplane's Paul Kantner did the same. Though without the cats and dogs.

(24) We hasten to add that it's only Pixie Drainpipe's film that's a 'headache'. The Monkees' 'Head' is actually the pinnacle of 1960s film-making. Or so says the AAA anyway.

(25) The Beatles had a much easier time of it when they played their last gig on top of their Apple headquarters in Savile Row. At least we didn't play our gig in a freezing cold January though - that's just silly!

(26) What with Apple Records, I keep meaning to sit down and write an essay on the role of fruit in AAA band break-ups. This really happened to Oasis, though, when Liam Gallagher insisted on promoting his clothing company 'Pretty Green' - as far as I know he's never worn a top hat though I bet he'd look good in one! - and Noel chucked a satsuma at him.

(27) Which is a little cruel I admit (have you tried being in the same band as eight Bingos for 30 odd years?!), but not as cruel and unexpected as the telegram Neil Young sent Stephen Stills to end their 1976 collaboration!

(28) As unlikely as it sounds this was the rather strange 'punishment' handed out to David Crosby on his being sacked from The Byrds. Opinions differ as to whether the horse picture was a deliberate insult, a joke, or an accident. As for me, I got replaced by a donkey! (See below)

(29) The Small Faces later split and became The Faces on one side and Humble Pie on the other.

(30) The Hollies did the same when Allan Clarke left the band in 1972, bringing in Swedish singer Mickael Rickfors. I don't think he was an Afghan Hound like 'our' version though.

(31) Actually MGs stood for the 'Memphis Group', which was what people were always calling Otis Redding's backing band. Our group really were Mountain Gorillas from Memphis though - I never did learn their names, I just called them all 'sir'!

(32) Which is actually a whole lot more likely than the five superstars who became The Traveling Wilburys getting together in one band!

Last week we'd left Nelson in the back of a car being driven down a Los Angeles Highway followed by a steamroller and a hearse in 1960s music's equivalent of the Wacky Races. From there Nelson, currently in his fortieth regeneration, finds himself whisked off into time again and inside a lovely old house in Muswell Hill where he appears to be in one of his most outrageous costume changes yet...

'Gee, I wish Neil was here - that guy's never around when you want him!' the driver of the rather battered car was saying to his friend in the front seat. 'Or one of the Byrds - they're pretty great man, even that egotistical one in the cape has got quite a voice on him! Oh yeah and did I ever play you this album by a fun little band from way out in Manchester? I'd love to work with them - not that they'd ever come way out here! Or Judy Collins. Actually I'd settle for her over anyone to be honest - even you!'

'I just blooming wish anyone was here - I can't believe you told me you had a band all ready to go and made me travel hundreds of miles across America only for me to find out that that band consisted solely of you!' his companion spluttered.

'Hey Richie I keep telling you - the three of us could be a band, we just need to carry on looking for Neil that's all'.

'And I keep telling you, Steve, America's a big place. And Neil's flipping Canadian! What if he's gone back home? Or been deported more than likely, I mean the guy's weird - he even drives a hearse, it wouldn't take much to get the immigration official's backs up, a long haired guitarist with a weird voice and a hearse! Plus we'd still need a bass player and a drummer!'

'Well, maybe Neil's band has a few going spare he doesn't need. Anyway I knew Neil for a whole week longer than you did and I can tell you categorically that Neil would never ever quit a band he was in, he's just not that sort of guy! His band have got to be touring round here somewhere. The Sultans they were last I heard, there just has to be a poster of them at one of these coffee houses...'

Wearily I manoeuvred myself into a sitting position from the uncomfortable back seat of their tiny car and peered in the rear view mirror to see what I was wearing. Typical! The AAA wardrobe team really need to get their dates right - what was I doing dressed as an Indian?!

'Oh, hey, another fan!' Richie Furay wearily comments to Stephen Stills. 'Nice threads Montezuma!'

'Oh brother - I suppose we have to back across town to take him home again do we? I don't suppose you can play an instrument? Bass? Drums?'

'Please say you're not another guitarist, we don't need another...' starts Richie.

Wondering why nobody in these time trips ever seemed surprised by my presence I toyed with breaking all interstitial laws of time by joining a rock and roll band a hundred years before I was born (whose to say I wasn't really Neil Young?!) but common presence prevailed and I shook my head.

'I just, umm, fell asleep in the back of your car...'

'Throw him out Richie!'
'No, no, wait a minute!' I yell, hastily trying to remember my AAA history. 'For what it's worth I'm an, um, old friend of Neil Young's and I think he's driving this way to come and see you'

'What's your name?' Stephen demands.
'Clancy' I say, thinking on my feet. 'I'm the guy Neil was singing about on 'Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing. Because I can't sing...' I add hopelessly. 'Some people call me 'Mr Soul'' I add, wanting an extra touch of mystery...

'Ha!' laughs Stills, 'I have nicknames for all my girlfriends too - they're all named after types of birds. Wait a minute...'

'Hey I know that song!' says both men in unison, before looking at each other funnily.

'I thought only me and Neil knew that song...' muttered Stills.

'It sounded better with me singing lead anyway...' murmurs Furay.

'Neil thinks you guys would sound great singing it' I lie through my teeth, knowing that Neil won't be at all happy that 'other' people might want to sing his songs. 'He's coming to find you right now with a bass player friend so you can start a group together!'

'Yeah right - after we've spent all this time looking for him! I suppose he's just going to appear out of the blue in this traffic jam is he? Yeah right - and I'm a Monkees uncle!'

'Actually you're going to be a Monkees auditionee' I mutter under my breath...

'Right and one day I'm going to be a vicar!' says Richie, making some unholy swigs from a beer can.

'Erm, funny you should say that...' I hint, as vaguely as I can.

'I suppose we'd better turn round and send you home' says Stills morosely. 'Hang on what's the hold up out there?...'

'Erm, I'd have a look out the window if I were you' I exclaim.

'Looks like a steamroller causing a big traffic jam...' Stills mutters, 'One of those makes with the funny name, Water Buffalo Dusty Springfield or something...'
'Cool name' Richie concurs. 'Hey hang on a minute, you remember that hearse Neil drives? Well there's one in the traffic heading the other way...With Canadian license plates too, that's a bit weird...'

I figure this is my cue to go. Suddenly.... AAAAGH! I felt that old familiar feeling again as I prepared to go 'out of time'. Where was my monkeynuts editor sending me on this occasion? I just hoped it was somewhere quieter (those Buffalo Springfielders were really loud, you know, even with just the two of them in the band!)

Oh no. Oh no oh no oh no. I have had some costume changes in this time-travelling series before now, but never had I been dressed quite like this before. For, looking in a handily situated mirror, I spot that I have been given a full make-over as a granny! And not some rock and roll 'Grace Slick' kind of granny either, but a proper authentic world-war-two-grey granny.

Cursing my wardrobe editor yet again I walk to where I can hear an unholy racket going on in what appears to be the front room of a small but rather packed terrace house.

'Ullo' says a cheery kid with dirty knees running up to me. 'You must be another of those Great Aunties I haven't met yet. From Uncle Arthur's side of the family I bet! Have you come to hear us play?'

I nod and let myself be taken over to the piano where this livewire of a boy pulls me over and find that the piano is occupied by another boy, ever so slightly older. He freezes when he senses my presence and shyly turns back over to me.

'Keep playing Ray! At least I know you're not going to be rude to me when you're making up music...' says the younger boy.

'Erm, think I've got some homework Dave' says Ray, not wanting to interact with anyone more than he has to. 'I'm trying to get into art college you see' he says to me apologetically, looking at the floor. 'Though I'd rather be in music college! Or a long-distance runner'

'What, with your bad back? Plus he's proper rubbish at drawing!' says Dave. 'But he's almost ok at making music. Hey, want to see my guitar?!'

Suddenly I'm being bustled out into the corridor while Ray stares warily outside the door to make sure we've gone before starting up his piano piece. It sounds familiar...'

'There's this girl at my school I really fancy!' says Dave, talking umpteen to the dozen. 'Well, you know, not soppily or anything like that - I just like her. Her name's Susannah, but Sue for short. I'm saving up to buy her a scarf! I hate school though, I wish I could leave early! My mate Pete's leaving school soon - he's in Ray's year. We're in a band together! 'The Dave Davies Quartet! At least...' he lowers his voice 'That's what I've been calling it - don't listen to anything Ray tells you about it being The Ray Davies Quartet, everybody calls it Dave's round here, honest they do! And I'm going to be a model later when the music runs out - a right proper dandy! And when I grow up I'm going to go for lots of drinks at the Archway tavern down the road, just like my dad. He's around somewhere, he's getting ready to on a drive with Ray. He's always going on drives with Ray, all day and all of the night! I hope when I go out on one of these drives I get to see a UFO! Have you heard of UFOs? I think they're neat, I hope I get a visit from them one day...'

Dave cut himself off as he ran across his room to hold aloft a fairly new looking guitar, which is clearly his pride and joy. 'Hey' said Dave 'I've just thought of something. Can I borrow a knitting needle? Great aunts and Grannys always knit' he said, eyeing me suspiciously. 'Which of my relatives are you again? You must be the one who gave Ray his genes, he never talks either...' I reach into my pocket and find to my relief that the wardrobe team have thought to supply me with a knitting needle.

'Here you go, dear' I say quickly in a squeaky voice I think has just the right shade of 'granny' in it before the quick-thinking Dave could ask any more questions. 'How nice' I think to myself 'that the younger generation are interested in taking up knitting', before ticking myself off for getting too caught up in my character.

'Cheers!' shouts Dave as he runs towards a green amplifier and starts stabbing away at the cone inside the speaker cabinet. 'Not enough!' he yells as he scampers out of the door towards the bathroom. 'Hey dad, can I borrow your razor? No it's not for shaving...'

I wonder back to the front room where Ray is now lost in thought and away in his music, pounding out the familiar riff that I slowly realise is an early bluesy version of 'You Really Got Me'.

'I'm not very good yet' he declares sheepishly, not meeting my eyes. 'It's this piano. We're meant to be getting a new one. I'm so tired of waiting for it...' He pauses, a frown showing on his forehead. 'You know, one day I think I'm really going to look back fondly on these days, with the family all around me, as annoying as they are - especially him (nodding towards the door where Dave had been).

'I wish I could take the front room with me when I go to college, I feel kind of safe here, as if it's somehow slightly magical. And I feel as if something big is about to happen, something made up of ever so many gigantic ups and downs, and I'm not sure if I really want it or whether I'll always remember this as being happier, here and now, in this front room. I don't really want to grow up and be like everybody else...'

'That's the most I've ever heard you speak in one go, brother. Wait till you get a load of this!' chortles Dave as he bursts back into the room, his amplifier in hand, as he laces it up to the only spare electric socket in the room. 'How did that riff you were playing go again?'

Duh-der-der-doo-der. play both boys in unison. Duh-der-der-doo-der. Duh-der-der-doo-der. Duh-der-der-doo-der. Over and over and over, in a horrible-yet-blooming-fantastic raucous, distorted tone that's guttural, raw and untamed. It seems so incongruous in this nice 1950s front room. The brothers carry on until the neighbours start banging on the wall and threatening to call the police. It seems that this is a regular occurrence when the brothers get together.

'I'll get that!' yells Dave, opening the front door and shouting widely to everyone gathered outside. 'Never mind a little bit of noise - we're making history in here!'

And I afford myself a little smile, realising that in fact they are. And with Ray turned back towards his music, distracted, I find myself slipping away to who knows where, my latest task in deciding the fate of popular music over with once more...


- Pete Townshend and Rudolf Nuryev (Decca-Dent)

Well, it had to happen didn't it? The Who's rock opera from 1973, 'Quadrophenia', is pretty darn wonderful but after the film (1979), 'classical' version with Alfie Boe (2015), the stage show (2020), the cartoon series (2027), the rap remix (2092), the circus show (3576) and 'Quadrophenia On Ice' (the last ice age) Jimmy the mod's story has now ended up as interpretative dance. 'Can you see the real me?' an android hologram of Roger Daltrey hollers as a bunch of dancers hired from Pangalactic People (the international dance troupe from Mrasianarts) prance about the stage, their seven limbs flying. 'The Punk and the Godfather' becomes a showdown between an Elder (from Zigorous Three) and a kitling (from Belobrat Minor). 'Helpless Dancer' sees the revived form of Nuryev taking to the stage to the bittersweet lyrics 'You...stop...dancing!!!' All of act one passes by quite well actually - and if you don't like it you can go to Hellosphere, where the audio-visual mp-90 release is said to be selling quite well. Act Two, however, seems just a little bit awkward and silly. '5.15' turns from being a snarling rocker into a bunch of dancers pretending to be a train, while a Mick Jagger-esque dance to 'Bell Boy' misses the subtlety of the work. The whole audience then gets drenched with water to the sound of 'Love Reign O'er Me' which went down well during the premiere on Aquatticus Seven (where most inhabitants are ducks) but left me feeling the work was a little, well, wet. It's still preferable to the Alfie Boe version (what isn't?!), but isn't it about time The Who realised that their original version of their masterpiece was already perfection itself? Personally I'm hoping The Who return to their abandoned project of 2050: a concept album based on the lives and personalities of characters as featured in a popular board game (known to fans as 'Guess Who's Next?!')

Really Good Times:

- The Monkees (Silver Rhino)

The most unexpected AAA release since, well, 2016's 'Good Times', this album covers similar ground by having Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork (along with a cameos by Mike Nesmith and Davy Jones' android double) cover songs but current writers, the way The Monkees did when they started. And what a mixed bunch they are: 'Last Spaceship To Clarksville' starts the album on a high and the long-awaited finally-completed collaboration between Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller (it only took them five centuries!) is a must-hear, before a cover of The Rolling Stones' cheeky Monkee Man' rather misses the point and the cover of the Banana Splits theme tune has too many sitars and wearble-flutes. And do we really need a third version of 'Circle Sky?' (especially now Earth's is shaped like a triangle due to global warming). Like the last time, though, it's nice to have The Monkees back in some form...I think... even if it wasn't the form I was expecting. If only they could write more songs themselves and quite the covers Monkee business - their own work being vastly superior - the universe might yet party again like it was 1966. Or 2172 when the band broke big in Zigorat.

Got 'Live' Whether You Want It Or Not!:

- The Rolling Stones (Decca-thlon)

Another year, another live Stones album, this time recorded on Alpha Centauri (where the acoustic are great!) While pretty good within itself (the band are really cooking now Keith Richards is 1112 and has evolved a third arm), the band have been releasing live albums steadily down the years (they'd released 21 of the flipping things during their first 54 years together alone, dated up to 2016) and there isn't much more to say. This latest release features a disc of the usual hits that have been featured 100 times or more and a second disc of 'rarities' that the band have released less than 50 times. 'Get Off My Cloud' sung from the actual clouds above the planet sounds particularly strong though, as does '2000 Light Years From Home' played, erm, 2000 light years from home.

We Are All One Galaxy And We're Only Five Thousand Light Years Apart:

- The Earth vs The Zigorous 3 All-Stars (Universal/Intergalactic)

The remix of this classic charity single is currently hiding high in the charts in the recently discovered (at least to us - the inhabitants knew it was there!) South-Eastern part of the galaxy. Our new friends in Miggabonk, Gruffidity and Dilurian Major are really into the music of the Western galaxy and we're very pleased to have so many new readers along as subscribers (hope the new infra-red hologram edition we've created especially for our new friends is working this week!) Older readers of course won't need an introduction to the single which was written to commemorate the decision by the Zigorous 3 leaders not to destroy the Earth due to Donald Trump and William G Bush's war tactics in the 21st century but to instead embrace and encourage mankind's creative and peaceful side. The AAA, of course, played no small part in saving the earth from destruction as it was the first site side-loaded by our near-neighbours, as established in our second April 1st edition sent backwards in time (although interestingly the Clandusprods from that planet have recently made us aware that they first contacted the Earth in 1969 by playing the Apollo 12 astronauts a few bars of their current number one during the moon landings from the dark side of the moon - look it up if you don't believe me!) The single was co written by Crosby Stills Nash and Young (elected as Earth representatives after a poll by AAA readers for who would be best suited to promoting the greatness, honesty, commitment, musicality and hope inherent in human nature; something we regretted once they arrived in the recording studio on Zigorous 3 and started fighting!) and our new friends' local group Clandusprod, Stillurian, Nasholumper and Young. The B-side, 'Find The Cost Of Zigorous Three-Dom' is, in our opinion, even better.

Kataara - The Last Spice Bender

- The Spice Girls

Well, it had to happen. After 'Spice Girls - The Opera' 'The Musical' 'Spice Girl Babies' and the Zombie Spice Girls reunion ('If you wanna be my lover you gotta kill all my friends - will this franchise never end?!') here is The Spice Girls in Manga book form. It's a spin-off of the once superlative, now rather desperate 'Avatar - The Last Airbender' series. Things went wrong last year when the four elements that have stood the series in such good stead for a thousand years got altered to 'Water' 'Fire' Earth' Air'...and 'Spice'. We were counting the minutes till The Spice Girls arrives to be honest, which they did in typical form - summing up past avatars and 'praising' them for their 'grrrrl power' (even though they showed far more knowledge of feminism than the marketed-by-middle-aged-men Spice Girls ever did) before Kung-Fu kicking Prince 'Zig-a-Zig-Ah-Zucko' for no reason. We are, at least, rather pleased that the greatest character in the series - The Cabbage Merchant - has been given so much screen time at long last; he's also rather handsome and the character everyone wants to be compared to on 'Avatar' quizzes. The Spice Girls, of course, are terrible as always and look deeply uncomfortable being shoe-horned into another franchise they really don't understand. For instance, I hear that the editor is still trying to explain to Posh Spice how to read the book from right to left a year after publication! Give it a miss.

Regular readers of our April Fool's columns will know that in the future - and the past - maybe even the present? - the AAA has been a long-term sponsor of TV series Dr Who, a show that's been running almost as long as we have. And we have a sneak preview of this year's 709th Christmas special 'Rest, Recuperation and Rudolph' (from an unproduced storyline by Douglas Adams - probably without the reindeer). For those of you who've been lost down a tunnel in Zigorous 3 for the past millennia (welcome back guys - hope the reception's good again now!) the Doctor is now in his 36th regeneration after the tense regeneration scene of last series (when Anthony Hopkins finally left the part after 36 series and several Tommy Cooper impressions). As the doctor happened to be in the 'Great Bear' constellation when he regenerated (a part of the universe that has magical ionisation properties) he is now part timelord, part bear. And a bit grumpy. He's had enough of saving the universe and wants to take it easy for a bit, taking the chance to fill in the rest of his 500-year diary...

The aliens of the universe aren't so happy though - they've conquered it three times each and are getting a little bit bored. So they call round to plead with the Dr to come back. First up are the daleks - but the doctor says no...

Next up are the 'Cyber-Pillows' (which, as I'm sure you'll remember from last year's series 3033, have been 'upgraded' for extra comfort for the Cyber Leader to lean on). Still the Doctor says no...

Next up is that favourite monster of series 2511 - Pugar Suff and his threatening posse of cereal bowls. But the doctor says he's no cereal killer in this regeneration.

However, while the doctor is distracted a mysterious figure with antlers creeps in and takes the doctor over with the use of a mysterious red bauble...It's the Master in a new regeneration (he was in the constellation of the Great Deer the last time they met and is now part timelord, part deer!) 'How did you escape from Castrovalva II?' the doctor asks but before he can get any further he's been taken over by the mysterious force...

Suddenly the doctor has sprouted antlers and the Master is laughing that evil laugh that he has the doctor in his power at last...

However the Daleks haven't given up on their goal of taking over the universe and exterminate the Master - who turns into a frog. The Daleks are now the masters of the universe...

Extermin----wait! What's happening?!?!?

With the HADS (Hostile Action Displacement System) kicking in and a fiddle of his sonic honey-jar (well, it's better than the sonic sunglasses!) the Doctor is now wide awake and has caused time to stop and turn inside out (yes he can do that, he's part God as well as revealed in series 1786 - the one Andrew Cartmel came back to script-edit!) Suddenly instead of being the 'boss' dalek the dalek is now an 'embossed' dalek!

The doctor decides that, as it's Christmas (well actually it's leap year but we have to get these hats in somehow and this is meant to be a preview after all...) he'll let the dalek off after all and replaces him within the space-time co-ordinates. With a difference. The dalek is now wearing a Christmas hat!

The doctor admits that he was lonely too without the universe to save so he invites all his alien friends and fiends back for Christmas party truce, on the understanding that he'll be back to saving the universe from them again come Boxing Day. The doctor then turns to the camera and says 'incidentally, a happy Christmas to all of you at home... no, whoops, I got into trouble for saying that last time didn't I?!' and zaps the screen with his sonic screwdriver so we forget about the episode too...

The 9,746, 343rd edition of our weekly 'Top' column features a look back at the lowlights of Alan's Album Archives over the past three thousand years of newsing, viewsing and music-ing. Not everything we think of can be great after all - and there's been quite a lot of articles to cover in all that time! Here are Max's nominations:

1) Writing a special review of 'Dark Side Of The Moon' from the dark side of the moon - and finding the inter-galaxy web signal was so poor I couldn't send a copy until I got back home!

2) Travelling back in time to the Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus in 1968 and dressing up as fire-eaters. The set had to be evacuated when I set my top-hat alight!

3) A special interview edition! Getting CSNY, Simon and Garfunkel, Ray and Dave Davies and Brian Wilson and Mike Love all together was a huge mistake though - nobody agreed on anything, for 18 hours, and the article had to be scrapped!

4) Accidentally crashing half the internet when Alan's Album Archives published it's zillionth article!

5) Appearing as a judge on 'The X-terminate Factor' and swivelling my chair round to find I'd nominated...The Spice Girls! Ouch! (I should have guessed at the first zig-a-zig-ah!)

Still feeling slightly sane? We can fix that! More April Fool's Day columns from the past (or is it the future?!) available here:

A complete collection of April Fool’s Day Columns (Plus Other Bits and Pieces):

#1 (published 2009, set in 2034):

#4 ('Swedish Elizabethan' edition, published 2012, set in a timeless universe):

#5 ('Max's Space Museum' edition, published 2013, set in 7114):

#6 (Max's Scrapbook' edition, published 2014 set in 2099): and

#7 ('Multiverse with famous authors writing for the AAA' edition, published and set in 2015)

#8 ('The Story and Discography of Pixie Drainpipe', published 2016, set in 5838)

#9 (‘All Hail President Bingo!’, published 2017, set in 2020)

#10 (‘Spice Up Your Life!!!’,  published and set in 2018)

#11 (‘Brexit Maxit and Farewell’, published 2019, set in 2029)

Every Single AAA Studio and Solo Release in Chronological Order: