Tuesday 30 May 2017

John Noakes RIP

Blue Peter’s daredevil: John Noakes obituary
Children’s TV presenter whose can-do attitude marked him out from his more sensible Blue Peter co-hosts

Stuart Jeffries
The Guardian
Monday 29 May 2017

In 1977, the television presenter John Noakes, who has died aged 83, climbed Nelson’s Column without safety harness or insurance, for an episode of the BBC’s enduring children’s show Blue Peter. After shinning up one ladder, Noakes swung himself dauntlessly on to another, tilted 45 degrees from the vertical. “At this level,” said Noakes in a voiceover, “the plinth on which Nelson stands overhangs the column. I found myself literally hanging on from the ladder with nothing at all beneath me.” Nothing, that is, but a 52-metre drop to the slabs of Trafalgar Square. Truly, they don’t make television presenters like Noakes any more. “It’s a long way up, really,” he said as he stood on the plinth with Britain’s naval hero, a remark so refreshingly banal as to prove that Blue Peter was not always scripted.

During his 12 years as a Blue Peter presenter, Noakes often climbed things and, for a while, held the British civilian freefall parachuting record – 25,000 feet. Soon after Noakes joined Blue Peter in December 1965, his then co-presenter Christopher Trace, who had no head for heights, had baulked at taking part in an outside broadcast that included climbing to the top of a tower crane. The show’s producer Edward Barnes asked Noakes if he would do it instead: “Aye, all right, I’ll have a go.”

That daredevil can-do attitude stood him in good stead and marked him out from his more sensible co-presenters, such as Valerie Singleton, Peter Purves and Lesley Judd. There are some fans of the show who will always remember the moment that Noakes bared his bruised bottom after coming off his bobsleigh as he shot down the Cresta Run.

And then there were the animals. Initially, Noakes was charged with looking after Patch, puppy of the first Blue Peter dog Petra, before being given stewardship of Shep, a border collie, after Patch’s death in 1971. Shep remained proverbially beyond his control. As the pop parodists the Barron Knights put it in their 1978 novelty song Get Down, Shep, about Noakes’s relationship with the dog he called his “straight man”, “John could never be alone no matter where he went / Because Shep would always sniff around and soon pick up his scent.” Decades after he left the show, and long after the dog’s death in 1987, people would stop Noakes in the street and ask: “Where’s Shep?”

There was also that incident with Lulu the baby elephant visiting the Blue Peter set in 1969. When Lulu urinated and defecated on the studio floor, and her handler slipped over in the mess, but Noakes went with the madness of the moment, embracing the chaos that ensued. “Ow, he’s trod on my foot,” yelled Noakes, adding, as Singleton and Purves tried vainly to restore order, “Oh dear – I’ve trod right in it!”

It is hard to explain the significance of Blue Peter during the golden age in which Noakes was its lord of misrule. There were only three TV stations and no dedicated children’s network, so Blue Peter was culturally central to its viewers in a way no kids’ TV show could be now. At the peak of its popularity, eight million watched the show, savouring its time-honoured format: a live demonstration of an activity (usually involving making a model from plastic bottles held together with sticky-back plastic), and a music or dance performance, followed by an edifying filmed report with one of the presenters and some risky live turn with an animal. A thousand letters a day arrived from children keen to earn one of the coveted Blue Peter badges, which made them the envy of their classmates. “It was a bit like an overgrown schoolboy’s job,” Noakes told an interviewer many years later. “I was Peter Pan really. I sometimes think I still am.”

Noakes was born in the village of Shelf, between Bradford and Halifax, in West Yorkshire. He was an only child and loved playing by himself in the woods or in the rain. His mother, he once said, thought he was mad. His parents divorced when John was nine and he was sent as a boarder to Rishworth school, Sowerby Bridge, where he was the rebel of Remove B, the class for under-achievers.

Although he excelled in cross-country running and gymnastics, he left school without qualifications, as a result of which he was turned down as a pilot by the RAF. Instead he trained as an engine fitter for the RAF and the airline BOAC, before deciding he wanted to become an actor. He attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, financing the lessons by working as a liftboy in a hotel and doing early morning cleaning work. After graduation, he joined a touring repertory company and was spotted by Blue Peter’s editor, Biddy Baxter, in a production of Hobson’s Choice at the Phoenix theatre in Leicester, where he was playing Willie Mossop, the gormless hero of Harold Brighouse’s play.

Baxter, who was on the lookout for a third Blue Peter presenter to join Singleton and Trace as the programme went twice weekly, recalled that Noakes was “incredibly fresh faced – he looked about 14”. He was actually 29 at the time. His winning Yorkshire accent (refreshing at a time when received pronunciation was still de rigueur for TV presenters), smiling eyes and quizzical expression “all combined to make the most compelling personality and one we were sure would be right for Blue Peter even before we had seen him on camera,” said Baxter.

Noakes was later dismissive of those Peter Pan years, saying that playing Mossop on stage had given him more satisfaction than the entire Blue Peter experience. “Given my time again,” he told Radio Times in 1999, “I wouldn’t have done Blue Peter. I’d done theatre for six years and was tired. But the pressure was terrible. One year I did nine weeks with only one and a half days off. I collapsed and couldn’t go on. That’s the nearest I came to a breakdown.” Noakes even turned on the woman who had plucked him from obscurity. “Biddy Baxter was an awful woman. I don’t want to talk about her. It would upset my lunch.”

His falling out with Baxter revolved in part around Shep. On leaving Blue Peter in 1978, Noakes wanted to make money from adverts featuring him and the famous collie. “I think it would have been immoral,” Baxter told the Guardian. “How can you have a Blue Peter presenter on commercial television advertising dog food so children think ‘I must buy this’?”

But after Blue Peter, Noakes was not short of work. Since 1976, he had presented Go With Noakes, a BBC children’s show featuring him in various outdoor adventures, such as motor racing, rowing, aerobatics and painting, accompanied by Shep. It lasted for five series until 1980. In 1979 he published a book of stories for children, The Flight of the Magic Clog.

In 1982, with his wife, Vicky, Noakes set off for the Caribbean in his own boat, intending to live there. Sailing had become a passion ever since he bought a boat to use at weekends while he was working on Blue Peter. Somewhere along the voyage, however, the boat was hit by a 60ft wave; the couple were rescued by the crew of a passing tanker. Noakes broke two ribs and suffered a deep cut above one eye that left a permanent scar. The Caribbean plan was shelved and ultimately he and Vicky decided to settle in Majorca.

In 1983 he presented The Dinosaur Trail, a seven-part documentary for ITV. There followed a long period of estrangement from television. He was not invited to the 25th anniversary party of Blue Peter, it was said, because he had threatened to “knock the block off” one of the producers.

In 1998 he returned to Blue Peter for a programme celebrating 40 years of the show, and was back again in January 2000 when Singleton, Purves and Noakes dug up the Blue Peter time capsule they had buried in 1971. In 1999, he presented a LWT series, Mad About Pets, with a new sidekick, a Dalmatian called Sigh. He also made appearances on Pet Rescue (2003), Britain’s Worst Celebrity Drivers (2005) and, with Peter Purves, on the quiz show Pointless Celebrities (2013).

In later years, Noakes enjoyed tap dancing and gardening. He took up painting watercolours of the almond and carob trees near his Majorcan home. “I had one exhibition and made £150, so I was chuffed.”

“I still regret not carrying on as an actor,” Noakes told one interviewer. “It was a wonderful life – you get paid to become somebody else and live in a fantasy world.” But the truth is that he did get paid to become someone else in his TV career, an alter ego he once called Idiot Noakes. “Idiot Noakes has an extrovert personality, is light-hearted and jokey. A bit of a buffoon who would do anything for a laugh or a few pence.” In reality, Noakes claimed, he was nothing like the persona millions of Britons of a certain age admired. “I switch the personality on when I turn up to do the job, and off when I leave.”

He is survived by Vicky.

• John Noakes, television presenter, actor and writer, born 6 March 1934; died 28 May 2017

Friday 26 May 2017

The Beach Boys at The Sage, Gateshead, 2017 - review

Image result for the beach boys wild honey tour 2017
The Beach Boys: The Wild Honey Tour
The Sage, Gateshead
25 May 2017

Often depicted as the black sheep of the band, Mike Love brought the touring Beach Boys to The Sage last night and put on a superlative show. The naysayers will attempt to diminish his role in the band’s evolution. “He only did this…” or “He only did that…”, but the informed fan, regardless of what they may feel about some of his past pronouncements or decisions, knows this is the man who co-wrote many of the band’s early hits and that his voice is all over them, and is often, in fact, the, lead voice that Brian Wilson had in mind.

There is considerable difference amongst fans and scholars as to whether Love should be using the Beach Boys’ name (event though cousin Brian long-since signed off on this), but no-one can doubt the quality of this performance.

At 76, Love is one of THE key surviving figures from this era of music and while his speaking voice seemed rough last night, his lead and bass vocals were superb; in fact, there are those who would say he’s been in better form over recent years than he was in the 1980s. While he was the only original band member present, he was accompanied – as he has been for many years – by Bruce Johnston, a Beach Boy from 1965 -71 and from 1979 to the present; indeed, 1978's MIU is the only studio album from Summer Days (and Summer Nights!!) on which he doesn’t feature - and for that he must be eternally grateful.

They were backed by an incredibly tight band, under the direction of the inestimable Scott Totten and featuring, among others, Jeff Foskett, formerly of the Beach Boys’ touring band and latterly of Brian Wilson’s band, and a long-time Love-associate, the energetic John Cowsill, on drums, whose singing and playing on Wild Honey were beyond belief.
In just over two hours, the band tore through over 40 songs, many from pre-1966 albums, an era often dismissed as ‘formative’ – and yet how many of these are ingrained in our minds and how many were hits? The surf and car songs were performed with a punk rock-intensity; the ballads with sensitivity.

The highlights were many, including the beautiful a cappella Their Hearts Were Full of Spring, originally a Four Freshman song, sung by Love, Johnston, Totten and Brian Eichenberger, who had been a member of the latter day incarnation of the Freshmen; Kiss Me Baby and The Warmth of the Sun, two of Brian Wilson greatest pre-Pet Sounds songs; an outstanding cover of Why Do Fools in Love and, as ever, the wonderful Disney Girls, sung by its composer, Bruce Johnston.

My only real quibble was that although this was termed The Wild Honey Tour, they performed just three songs from that overlooked album. I have to admit, I was kind of hoping for more – particularly because of the imminent and eagerly anticipated release of a stereo version with numerous outtakes and live tracks from the period. See

The audience, from people in their late teens to people older than Love himself, were on their feet for most of the concert's second half and there was a real buzz around the place when the hall emptied out. If you dislike Love so much you’d refuse to see this tour and hear music performed by a great band and sung by two of the original vocalists, you really need to get over it…

Frank Black

Thursday 25 May 2017

Last night's set lists

At The Habit, York: -

Ron Elderly: -
Make You Feel My Love
Just My Imagination

Da Elderly: -
You've Got A Friend
Only Love Can Break Your Heart

The Elderly Brothers (1): -
Then I Kissed Her
Medley: Sweet Caroline/Hi Ho Silver Lining
I Saw Her Standing There

The Elderly Brothers (2): -
When Will I Be Loved
The Boxer

The bar was packed from the off on a lovely warm night in York. There were plenty of players too, including a young chap on banjo playing songs by Johnny Cash and The Rolling Stones. Just before my set, regular Chris the cabby asked if I would stay on and accompany him on his first song, which I did - Birds by Neil Young. There was time at the end for folks to get a second turn at the mic and The Elderly Brothers finished off the evening with a 2-song finale. After-show nonsense continued until about 1:30am - another enjoyable night at The Habit.

Wednesday 24 May 2017

Roger Moore RIP

Image result for roger moore the saint
Irreverent and knowing as James Bond: Sir Roger Moore obituary
Actor who brought humour, panache and suavity to his starring roles in The Saint, The Persuaders! and seven James Bond films

by Ryan Gilbey
The Guardian
23 May 2017

Sir Roger Moore, who has died aged 89, considered himself to be only the fourth best actor to have played Ian Fleming’s secret-service agent James Bond on screen: in his estimation, he came in behind Daniel Craig (whom he called “the Bond”), Sean Connery and George Lazenby. Though Moore was rarely regarded as the best or most definitive Bond, his inimitable humour and panache made him many viewers’ favourite. His tally of seven films – beginning with Live and Let Die (1973) and ending with A View to a Kill (1985) – equalled that of Connery, though Moore occupied the role for a longer consecutive period. He was eloquent on the distinction between their portrayals. “Sean played Bond as a killer and I played Bond as a lover,” he said. Only on Fridays did he resemble a cold-blooded mercenary: “That’s the day I received my paychecks.”

His casting was sometimes erroneously considered to be the catalyst for a new-found levity in the series; in fact, the two films prior to his arrival (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1969, and Diamonds Are Forever, 1971) had already tipped the tone towards silliness. What Moore did very cannily was to underline the absurdity of Bond himself. “My whole reaction was always – he is not a real spy,” he said. “You can’t be a real spy and have everybody in the world know who you are and what your drink is. That’s just hysterically funny.”
Irreverence and knowingness were integral to his interpretation. But he also seemed far more plausibly endangered as Bond than Connery had ever been. Part of the viewer’s affection and even concern for him could be attributed to his advanced age: Moore was already 45 when he was cast as Bond, whereas Connery made his debut at 32 and Craig was 37. This contributed to the sense that Moore’s wellbeing was actively at risk on screen. Subjected to punishing levels of G-force on a flight simulator in Moonraker (1979) or dismantling a bomb while dressed as a clown in Octopussy (1983), he looked uniquely vulnerable. Clambering up the Eiffel Tower and the Golden Gate Bridge in A View to a Kill seemed inadvisable behaviour for a man of 56.

His range was modest, as he was the first to admit. He credited his success to “99% luck”, and singled out the 1970 supernatural thriller The Man Who Haunted Himself, in which he played a businessman who appears to be living two lives, as “the only film I was allowed to act in”. Such self-deprecation only encouraged critics to contribute their own jibes: Anthony Lane of the New Yorkernsaid that Moore “needed a stunt double for his acting scenes” in the Bond films.

Moore became an object of mild mockery after the 1980s satirical TV show Spitting Image featured a puppet of him that expressed its emotions solely through its eyebrows. The joke proved robust, but not everyone realised that Moore had cracked it first. “The eyebrows thing was my own fault,” he said. “I was talking about how talentless I was and said I have three expressions: eyebrow up, eyebrow down and both of them at the same time. And they used it – very well, I must say.”

He was born in London, to Lily (nee Pope), a housewife, and George Moore, a police constable whose responsibilities included drawing accident scenes to be used in evidence in court. Roger himself had artistic ambitions early in life. He left school at 15 to accept a job as a trainee animator at Publicity Picture Productions, but was sacked a few months later when he neglected to collect a can of film.

Tagging along with friends in 1945 to auditions for film extras, Moore was picked to appear in a non-speaking role as a legionnaire in Caesar and Cleopatra, starring Vivien Leigh and Claude Rains. The film’s first assistant director, Brian Desmond Hurst, took Moore under his wing and encouraged him to audition for Rada. When Moore was accepted, Hurst paid his fees. He left at 18 to become a supporting player in the repertory company of the Arts theatre, Cambridge, before he was called up for military service. Posted to Germany, he succeeded in getting a transfer to the Combined Services Entertainment unit. In 1946, he had married Doorn Van Steyn, a fellow Rada student.

After three years in the army, Moore returned to acting, landing small roles in theatre and film, as well as appearing as a model for knitting patterns and in photo stories. He moved to New York City in 1953 with his second wife, the singer Dorothy Squires (Moore and Van Steyn had divorced earlier that year), and began getting acting work on US television. He signed a contract with MGM and was cast in a series of unmemorable films, including The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954) and Interrupted Melody (1955). Returning to Britain, he took the lead in a 1958 television adventure series adapted from Walter Scott’s novel Ivanhoe.

Other regular TV roles of increasing size followed, including two western series, The Alaskans and Maverick, before Moore finally became a bona fide star, playing the crime-fighter and playboy Simon Templar in the popular television crime series The Saint. Produced by Lew Grade, it ran from 1962 until 1969. Moore, who also directed nine episodes, brought a suavity to the part which makes it a clear precursor of his work as James Bond; even his habit in early episodes of looking directly at the camera prefigures the later Bonds, where he all but winks at the audience.

Two years after The Saint ended, Moore was cast once more as a playboy adventurer in another Grade TV series, The Persuaders!, in which he was teamed with Tony Curtis. The odd-couple pairing (Moore, as Lord Brett Sinclair, was dapper; Curtis, playing Danny Wilde, was a ruffian) and the action staged in glamorous locations made the series a hit. Moore also directed two episodes. During this period, he was appointed the head of Brut Films, an offshoot of the cologne manufacturer. He tried unsuccessfully to entice Cary Grant to make his acting comeback in a Brut production, but succeeded in recruiting him as one of the company’s advisers. Moore was also instrumental in the making of A Touch of Class, the 1973 romantic comedy for which Glenda Jackson won her second Oscar.

His brief tenure as a mogul was abbreviated when he signed a three-film contract to play James Bond, a part which demanded no adjustment to the persona he had already established. Live and Let Die, an attempt to modernise the series with gritty blaxploitation trappings, still had its share of daftness; in one scene, Bond escapes across water using a row of alligators as stepping stones. Moore’s performance here and in his second outing, The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), was cool and confident.

But it is his third Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), which is rightly considered his pinnacle. The writing, direction and production design were impressive, the action more than usually taut, and the balance of comedy and suspense acutely judged – as in the iconic opening sequence in which Bond escapes falling to his death by opening a parachute emblazoned with the Union Jack. (The film was released in the Queen’s silver jubilee year.) Moore appeared relaxed but never complacent. He even came up with some of the movie’s nicest touches, such as the moment when Bond, emerging from an underwater drive, deposits a small fish out of his car window.

In between the Bond films, Moore moonlighted in other roles, including Gold (1974), a mining adventure shot in Johannesburg, the romantic comedy That Lucky Touch (1975) and the war movie Shout at the Devil (1975), co-starring Lee Marvin. But nothing came close to eclipsing his day job.

Outside the Bond series, he rarely deviated from action, appearing in quick succession in Escape to Athena (1979), North Sea Hijack and The Sea Wolves (both 1980). The Wild Geese (1978), a clunky, crypto-racist thriller about ageing mercenaries, was unusual in showcasing a more brutal side to Moore. Though he was seen pushing villains to their deaths in The Spy Who Loved Me and For Your Eyes Only (1981), nothing compared to the opening scene of The Wild Geese, in which he kills a drug dealer by forcing him to ingest large quantities of cocaine at gunpoint.

Moonraker (1979), among the silliest of the Bond series, was rushed into production to capitalise on the Star Wars-inspired craze for all things space-related. Moore had a gas playing a mummy’s boy who believes himself to be Roger Moore in the US ensemble comedy The Cannonball Run (1981), before returning to Bond in the comparatively sober For Your Eyes Only and the positively quaint Octopussy. Moore bowed out, not before time, with A View to a Kill, where he looked understandably wary to be sharing the screen, not to mention a bed, with the ferocious Grace Jones.

Though the producer Albert R “Cubby” Broccoli suggested in his autobiography that Moore had refused to accept that his time in the role was over, the actor later denied this. Once free of Bondage, Moore lost his appetite for acting and took on only a handful of roles, few of them distinguished. He had been due to return to the stage in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Aspects of Love in 1989, but dropped out shortly before opening night, blaming inadequacies in his singing voice.

He joined his friend Michael Caine in Bullseye! (1990), a pitiful Michael Winner comedy in which they played two characters apiece. He also appeared in The Quest (1996), directed by its star, the action hero Jean-Claude Van Damme, and in the Spice Girls’ vehicle Spice World (1997). He had a supporting part in the two-hour pilot for a new series of The Saint (2013), but the show was not commissioned. In 2012, he undertook a highly successful UK stage tour of An Evening With Roger Moore, in which he reflected on his life and career.

Moore devoted much of his time to being a goodwill ambassador for Unicef; it was for this humanitarian work that he was knighted in 2003. He had left Britain in the late 1970s to avoid what he considered the prohibitive tax rate for high earners, and took homes in countries including Switzerland and Monaco. Money continued to be much on his mind: his 2008 autobiography, My Word Is My Bond, is peppered with variations on the line “a rather nice deal was agreed with my agent”.

Moore admitted to being a lifelong hypochondriac; among those to whom he expressed thanks in the acknowledgments of his autobiography are five GPs, four cardiologists, two dermatologists and a proctologist. He visibly enjoyed his time as Bond and expressed only occasional regrets about his career. “I spent my life playing heroes because I looked like one,” he said. “Practically everything I’ve been offered didn’t require much beyond looking like me. I would have loved to play a real baddie.”

He is survived by his fourth wife, Kristina Tholstrup, whom he married in 2002, and by three children – Deborah, Geoffrey and Christian – from his third marriage, to the actor Luisa Mattioli, which ended in divorce.

• Roger George Moore, actor, born 14 October 1927; died 23 May 2017


Tuesday 23 May 2017

The Beach Boys - Sunshine Tomorrow

The Beach Boys Open The Vaults For '1967 - Sunshine Tomorrow,' To Be Released Worldwide On June 30
New 2CD & Digital Collection Features New, First-Ever Stereo Mix of 'Wild Honey,' Plus 54 Previously Unreleased 1967 Studio Session Tracks & Live Recordings
New 'Wild Honey' Stereo Mix Also Debuts in 50th Anniversary 180-Gram Vinyl Edition

PR Newswire
23 May 2017

The Beach Boys have personally overseen the creative process for a new 2CD and digital collection, 1967 – Sunshine Tomorrow, to be released worldwide on June 30 by Capitol//UMe. 1967 – Sunshine Tomorrow features producers Mark Linett and Alan Boyd's new, first-ever stereo mix of The Beach Boys' 1967 Wild Honey album and throws open the legendary band's vault to debut 54 sought-after 1967 rarities, 50 years after they were put to tape. Previously unreleased highlights on the new collection include The Beach Boys' shelved "live" album, Lei'd in Hawaii, studio recordings from the Wild Honey and Smiley Smile album sessions, and several standout concert recordings spanning 1967 to 1970. Wild Honey's new stereo mix will also debut in a 180-gram vinyl 50th Anniversary Edition on June 30.

1967 – Sunshine Tomorrow dives into a fascinating and frenetic chapter in The Beach Boys' long, groundbreaking creative arc, exploring the band's dynamic year in the studio and on tour. The Beach Boys' final studio session for the shelved SMiLE album took place on May 18th, 1967, with Smiley Smile album sessions booked at Brian Wilson's new home studio from June 3rd through the end of July. The band's 12th and 13th studio albums were released exactly three months apart to cap the year's studio efforts: Smiley Smile on September 18th followed by Wild Honey on December 18th.

"I wanted to have a home environment trip where we could record at my house," recalls Brian Wilson in the liner notes for 1967 – Sunshine Tomorrow. "I wanted to try something different, something new. I produced Smiley Smile, but Mike inspired me. He said 'Brian, let's make a really good, easygoing album'. We had an engineer convert my den into a studio. We had my piano detuned to make it ring more."

"Just prior to that, Brian had built up this production peak and then just completely reversed field, and (for Smiley Smile) did something so light and airy, and y' know, easy," explains Mike Love. "That was an underground album, I figure, for us. It was completely out of the mainstream of what was going on at that time, which was all hard rock, psychedelic music, and here we come with a song called 'Wind Chimes.' It just didn't have anything to do with what was going on – and that was the idea."

"Times were changing," adds Al Jardine. "We were happy to put our musical skills to work. We didn't have to look at the clock; there was virtually 24-hour availability to experiment."

Related image
"Take away their sorrow / Give them sunshine tomorrow"

On August 25th and 26th, 1967, The Beach Boys (absent Bruce Johnston, but with Brian Wilson on organ in his first concert appearances with the band in more than two years) recorded two concerts and rehearsals in Honolulu for a prospective live album to be titled Lei'd In Hawaii, applying a new Smiley Smile-inspired aesthetic to the performances. Just over two weeks later, the band (with both Brian and Bruce participating) began re-recording the live set in-studio at Brian's house and at Wally Heider Recording in Hollywood, after theHonolulu concert tapes were deemed unusable. Although completed and mixed, the final planned audio element of a canned concert audience was not added and the Lei'd In Hawaii project was canceled. Those live, in-studio performances morphed into sessions for the Wild Honey album, primarily comprised of original Brian Wilson/Mike Love compositions.

In a 1976 look back at 1967's most heralded albums, Village Voice critic Robert Christgau praised Wild Honey with an "A+" review, writing, "It's perfect and full of pleasure; it does what it sets out to do almost without a bad second."

Bruce Johnston says that Wild Honey showcases a band devoid of pressure: "Here's the thing – the most important thing – you need to know about Wild Honey. It was just an album for us to exhale and do something real simple; but as it's Brian and Mike's music, it's still fabulous and not so simple. I love the album."

Two days after wrapping the Wild Honey sessions on November 15th, 1967, Mike Love, Carl and Dennis Wilson, Al Jardine, and Bruce Johnston returned to the road for The Beach Boys' Thanksgiving Tour, premiering several songs from the forthcoming album at their concerts.

Excerpted from the 1967 – Sunshine Tomorrow Producers Notes by Mark Linett and Alan Boyd:
After the decision was made to shelve the unfinished SMiLE album in early 1967, The Beach Boys opted to return to recording as a self-contained band, working mostly at Brian Wilson's home and using rented recording equipment. The two albums they released that year,Smiley Smile and Wild Honey, were both originally presented in mono only (with Capitol also issuing re-channeled "pseudo stereo" editions). Smiley Smile was remixed and released in stereo in 2012. Now, at last, The Beach Boys and Capitol present the first true stereo mix of Wild Honey, along with outtakes, session highlights, and selected backing tracks from both the Smiley Smile and Wild Honey sessions.

Note that the 8-track master for "Mama Says" could not be located, so that song is presented here in its original mono mix. In addition, the organ solo on "How She Boogalooed It" was actually overdubbed as the song was being mixed to mono (as was the organ on the rest of the song), so that section is also presented in mono.

The Beach Boys: 1967 – Sunshine Tomorrow [2CD, digital]

Disc 1
Image result for the beach boys wild honey  1967

Wild Honey Album (Stereo)
(New stereo mix, except as noted *. Recorded September 15 to November 15, 1967 at Brian Wilson's house and at Wally Heider Recording in Hollywood, California)
1. Wild Honey (2:45)
2. Aren't You Glad (2:16)
3. I Was Made To Love Her (2:07)
4. Country Air (2:21)
5. A Thing Or Two (2:42)
6. Darlin' (2:14)
7. I'd Love Just Once To See You (1:49)
8. Here Comes The Night (2:44)
9. Let The Wind Blow (2:23)
10. How She Boogalooed It (1:59)
11. Mama Says * (Original Mono Mix) (1:08)

Wild Honey Sessions: September - November 1967 (Previously Unreleased)

12. Lonely Days (Alternate Version) (1:45)
13. Cool Cool Water (Alternate Early Version) (2:08)
14. Time To Get Alone (Alternate Early Version) (3:08)
15. Can't Wait Too Long (Alternate Early Version) (2:49)
16. I'd Love Just Once To See You (Alternate Version) (2:22)
17. I Was Made To Love Her (Vocal Insert Session) (1:35)
18. I Was Made To Love Her (Long Version) (2:35)
19. Hide Go Seek (0:51)
20. Honey Get Home (1:22)
21. Wild Honey (Session Highlights) (5:39)
22. Aren't You Glad (Session Highlights) (4:21)
23. A Thing Or Two (Track And Backing Vocals) (1:01)
24. Darlin' (Session Highlights) (4:36)
25. Let The Wind Blow (Session Highlights) (4:14)

Wild Honey Live: 1967 - 1970 (Previously Unreleased)
26. Wild Honey (Live) (2:53) - recorded in Detroit, November 17, 1967
27. Country Air (Live) (2:20) - recorded in Detroit, November 17, 1967
28. Darlin' (Live) (2:25) - recorded in Pittsburgh, November 22, 1967
29. How She Boogalooed It (Live) (2:43) - recorded in Detroit, November 17, 1967
30. Aren't You Glad (Live) (3:12) - recorded in 1970, location unknown

31. Mama Says (Session Highlights) (3:08)
(Previously unreleased vocal session highlights. Recorded at Wally Heider Recording, November 1967)

Disc 2
Image result for the beach boys in hawaii 1967

Smiley Smile Sessions: June - July 1967 (Previously Unreleased)
(Recorded June and July 1967 at Brian Wilson's house, Western Recorders, SRS, and/or Columbia Studios, except as noted *)
1. Heroes And Villains (Single Version Backing Track) (3:38)
2. Vegetables (Long Version) (2:55)
3. Fall Breaks And Back To Winter (Alternate Mix) (2:28)
4. Wind Chimes (Alternate Tag Section) (0:48)
5. Wonderful (Backing Track) (2:23)
6. With Me Tonight (Alternate Version With Session Intro) (0:51)
7. Little Pad (Backing Track) (2:40)
8. All Day All Night (Whistle In) (Alternate Version 1) (1:04)
9. All Day All Night (Whistle In) (Alternate Version 2) (0:50)
10. Untitled (Redwood) * (0:35)
(Previously unreleased instrumental fragment. Studio and exact recording date unknown. Discovered in tape box labeled "Redwood")

Lei'd In Hawaii "Live" Album: September 1967 (Previously Unreleased)
(Recorded September 11, 1967 at Wally Heider Recording in Hollywood, CA, with additional recording September 29, 1967 (except as noted *). Original mono mixes from assembled master ½" reel, dated September 29, 1967, discovered in the Brother Records Archives.)
11. Fred Vail Intro (0:24)
12. The Letter (1:54)
13. You're So Good To Me (2:31)
14. Help Me, Rhonda (2:24)
15. California Girls (2:30)
16. Surfer Girl (2:17)
17. Sloop John B (2:50)
18. With A Little Help From My Friends * (2:21)
(Recorded at Brian Wilson's house, September 23, 1967)
19. Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring * (2:33)
(Recorded during rehearsal, August 26, 1967, Honolulu, Hawaii)
20. God Only Knows (2:45)
21. Good Vibrations (4:13)
22. Game Of Love (2:11)
23. The Letter (Alternate Take) (1:56)
24. With A Little Help From My Friends (Stereo Mix) (2:21)

Live In Hawaii: August 1967 (Previously Unreleased)
(The Beach Boys recorded two complete concerts and rehearsals in Honolulu on August 25 and 26, 1967. Brian Wilson rejoined the group onstage for these shows; Bruce Johnston was not present. The following tracks derive from the original 1" 8-track master reels discovered in the Brother Records Archives.)
25. Hawthorne Boulevard (1:05)
26. Surfin' (1:40)
27. Gettin' Hungry (3:19)
28. Hawaii (Rehearsal Take) (1:11)
29. Heroes And Villains (Rehearsal) (4:45)

Thanksgiving Tour 1967: Live In Washington, D.C. & Boston (Previously Unreleased)
(The touring Beach Boys - Mike, Carl, Dennis, Al, and Bruce – embarked on a Thanksgiving Tour immediately after delivering the finished Wild Honey album to Capitol Records. For this tour, the band was augmented by Ron Brown on bass and Daryl Dragon on keyboards.)
30. California Girls (Live) (2:32) - recorded in Washington, DC, November 19, 1967
31. Graduation Day (Live) (2:56) - recorded in Washington, DC, November 19, 1967
32. I Get Around (Live) (2:53) - recorded in Boston, November 23, 1967

Additional 1967 Studio Recordings (Previously Unreleased)
33. Surf's Up (1967 Version) (5:25)
(Recorded during the Wild Honey sessions in November 1967)
34. Surfer Girl (1967 A Capella Mix) (2:17)
(Previously unreleased mix of Lei'd In Hawaii take from the Wally Heider Recording sessions in September 1967)

Friday 19 May 2017

Dead Poets Society #39 Norman McCaig: Whales

Image result for norman maccaig

Whales by Norman MacCaig

I saw a live whale once
only, disporting itself with what seemed
ungainly playfulness in the cold
waters of the Minch.

Dead ones - they lay anchored
in Ardhasaig Bay,
skidded on by gulls, waiting
to be lugged by a fussy winch
on to the flensing platform.

What unimaginable leagues they had travelled,
shouldering aside great storms, sounding
to the dark stillness of the sea's foot,
absurd amongst the ice-floes.

Now, through the thickest fog of all,
they were starting on a new stage
of their journey - whose end would be
hairbrushes, margarine, oil,
fertiliser, perfume - a sad
transmigration of bodies
for that peaceful, clownish monster, bucking
in a ten thousand-mile carousel
round the Pole, a hundred-ton oildrop, sliding
through the harshest of waters and
tossing up over them
playful plumes.

Thursday 18 May 2017

Last night's set lists

At The Habit, York: -

Ron Elderly: -
Just My Imagination
He'll Have To Go

Da Elderly: -
I'm Just A Loser
In The Morning Light

The Elderly Brothers: -
Crying In The Rain
Love Hurts
The Boxer

The house was full from start to finish, as we were in the presence of scouts from "The Voice" (see photo) armed with a video camera and laptop. To accommodate everyone it was an early start too - 8:30-ish. Some brought backing tracks and one chap a keyboard, but mostly it was guitars to accompany the crooning. Some folks were clearly nervous as hell and others took it in their stride. We had everything from Rocket Man to Rap plus plenty of self-penned songs. The harmony duo who haven't been for a few weeks returned and wowed us with their beautiful blend of voices. Last act of the night was a lass called Rosie, backed by Spanish-guitarist extraordinaire Faried, who blew us away with an amazing Latin-tinged Summertime and, as a finale, Bob Marley's Jammin. A splendid time was guaranteed for all!

Wednesday 17 May 2017

Laurie Anderson on the Lou Reed Archive

Laurie Anderson on Lou Reed’s Love, Work and Retirement Plan

Ben Sisario
The New York Times
3 March 2017

Last week, I sat down with the artist Laurie Anderson at her office in TriBeCa for what I expected would be a fairly short interview to discuss the archive of her late husband, Lou Reed, who died in 2013. We wound up speaking for almost two hours; with Will, her latest dog, sitting next to me, I heard the little robotic voice on her laptop first announce “4 o’clock,” then “5 o’clock.”

She and Don Fleming, her archivist, explained the origins of the project and played clips from some of the more than 600 hours of audio from the archive. All of it is now being cataloged and digitized, and will eventually be available for anyone to listen to at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, at Lincoln Center.

Ms. Anderson also spoke about her hopes for the archive, the “art ranch” that she and Mr. Reed dreamed of starting in their retirement, and the parts of life that can’t be saved on a shelf. Here are edited excerpts from the conversation.

Origins of the Archive Project

Lou and I didn’t really talk about [his archive]. He fought for his life to the very last second.

We had this sort of retirement plan. It was the L&L Art Ranch. Lou always wanted to have a club where he could play every night, and musicians could drop by. We had the brand: it was an X with two L’s, like that. [Crosses fingers.] After he died, I went through a moment of like, “O.K., I’ll build it!” Julian Schnabel was helping design the L&L Art Ranch in Red Hook.

I was very happy that he trusted me to do this. I feel like it’s really what I wanted, that people will get to hear it and it wouldn’t be hidden away. That was my worst fear, that it goes into some cave. I have friends who that’s happened to. An artist, very well known, gave his work to Harvard, and then like a year later he needed one thing, and he said, Can I get that from the archive? And they said no.

I was not going to give this to a place that feels like that.

Lou Reed, Writer

Lou was a writer. He was a writer who sang his words. He was a character in his own universe, but it was not like reading other songwriters’ confessional songwriting.

When he wrote songs, he didn’t just write them. He would just get up in the morning and the song would be done. It was infuriating. He’d just type it out. There were not 20 versions of it. I’m watching this and going, “I’m writing 1,700 versions of every song, and I have notebooks on every lame attempt to write, all crossed out.”

He never did that. He wrote it in his head. I saw him do that over and over. And then I would see phrases that he had said six months ago, or see an object. The blue glass by the window in “Set the Twilight Reeling” — I’d remember, “Oh, he’s talking about when we put that vase there.”

Lovers and Teachers

We originally bonded over electronics. Going to A.E.S. [Audio Engineering Society] conferences, talking mics. As soon as we fell in love, we just fell in love. There was no in between.

He was really romantic. He was the sweetest, most tender person I’ve ever met. He was also incredibly fierce. He didn’t hide his emotions. He allowed himself to do the whole spectrum — he really wasn’t censoring it.

[In the archive] you see the love of his teachers, too. Teachers were incredibly important to Lou, starting with Warhol. Bob Wilson was another version of Andy for him: an impresario who told him what to do. “Lou, I want you to write 10 songs that are about this.” He liked being told what to write.

You’ll see what an incredibly hard worker he was. One of the visions of himself as this insouciant guy who didn’t care — it was a Lou Reed creation. You don’t do that many records, that many shows, that many photographs without an incredible amount of drive.

Hopes for an Archive

For young musicians, they’ll get to see somebody who created his own image, but also behind the scenes was doing a lot of work. It also gives a picture of somebody who didn’t always make fantastic things. I love having that available to people, because it gives people courage to see, wow, Lou Reed made that thing? That was horrible. This is great for all of us who know how hard it is to find a style, find a voice.

I think [the archive] is going to develop as the library decides how to present it. I hope that people would be encouraged to go into the collection in different ways, that the Performing Arts Library can give people some paths into it that are not so intimidating. That would be nice.

What Can’t Be Archived

This archive is a wonderful collection. It’s not Lou, of course. It’s not Lou at all. No archive is the person that was there — all of those things which are the texture and fabric of someone’s life that contains their sense of humor, the sound of their voice.

The one thing I really miss from this archive that was such a big part of Lou — and can’t really be archived — is his dedication to meditation. He made a very extensive study of the nature of mind, but there is no physical trace of it. He left no footprints.

And that’s kind of thrilling to me, that so much of life can’t be captured. It can’t live anywhere. It just lives in your mind, and dies with it. And it’s inspiring that you can’t hold on to a lot of things — you can’t hold on to the most important things.