The Best Beatles Album? This was a response to the release of the Giles Martin remix of Revolver, and nearly every reviewer declared that Revolver was the greatest of all Beatles albums … whether they loved or hated what Giles Martin did with it. I thought about it, checked some of those ‘Greatest Albums of All Time’ lists and decided to argue about it. I might just be deliberately provocative so feel free to add to the comments box on the page itself.
Century 21 ran from 1965 to 67, issuing mini-albums and super-albums tied in to Gerry Anderson’s Thunderbirds TV series. This was posted before, but totally rewritten 14 November 2022
Released in January 1970, Gene Vincent’s penultimate album, I’m Back and I’m Proud had major session musicians and a state of the art studio, but sometimes you just can’t improve on an artist’s classic era. The article has a great deal on Gene Vincent in general.
John Peel and Clive Selwood’s short-lived 1969 to 1972 record label. John Peel was an icon at the time, but displayed a remarkable lack of acumen in choosing artists for his label. It’s quite a story, full of acerbic quotes from co-owner Clive Selwood on the artists.
This venerable jazz label ran from 1947 to the 1970s, releasing some of the best British andAmerican jazz. It was a survivor which carved outa niche. The music is not the currently fashionable end of jazz, but the 1950s and 1960s sleeve designs are of great interest.
Pye’s mid-price label. New albums sometimes went straight to Golden Guinea and there are some really fascinating releases (and a lot of dross, which the article ignores)
The Marble Arch budget label added to the Pye Group section under record labels. Though it was a budget label, the interest is the reissue schedule for The Kinks, Searchers, Donovan, Sandie shaw, often in new compilations.
The exploration of British independent record labels at AROUND AND AROUND continues with Saga and its various incarnations … Society, Eros, Pan, Fidelity, (linked). It has a dubious and decidedly dodgy aspect as it lurched from classical to folk to psych. “Fake” applied to many releases, though there was good folk within it. Some of its story is in the film Telstar.
The latest addition on Record Labels is to the Transatlantic Group. Bill Leader, engineer and producer of Topic and Transatlantic folk albums, started his own two parallel labels. They existed from 1969 to 1977, but were a fascinating excursion into traditional folk. The article has material on traditional folk in general.
John Patrick Byrne
Latest addition at AROUND AND AROUND, a section under “Art of the LP” devoted to John Patrick Byrne, (FOLLOW THE LINK) who did the sleeve art for some classic albums by Scots artistes. It’s almost entirely visual, but it is a visual treat. It’s the first of what will be a number of ‘single artist’ articles
New on AROUND AND AROUND, Transatlantic Records (click and follow this link), the story of Britain’s other early independent folk specialist label. Though it was more than “folk” and artists range from Ian Campbell Folk Group, The Dubliners, The Young Tradition, Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Pentangle, Ralph McTell, The Humblebums (and Gerry Rafferty and Billy Connolly solo).Add The Purple Gang (Granny takes A Trip), Mick Farren and The Deviants and many others ranging from sex education to comedy to poetry and spoken word. It was thoroughly eclectic. The article is as usual highly illustrated.
LP inner sleeves. This is a major new section on collecting and when the inner sleeve / bag from an LP matches the record on the outside. How important are they?
One Man Dog by James Taylor from late 1972 added to Reviled! The Albums Critics Loved To Hate. It only spawned one hit, Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight, and was considered an underwhelming album at the time, though astute commentators like Jon Landau and Peter Doggett rated it very highly. So how does it stand up? The Rolling Stone Record Guide rated it as a two star album , but decades later Record Collector rated it at 5 stars. Where does my rating lie? Read and see.
The Art of the LP sub-pages tidied up, and Le déjeuner sur l’herbe added with three LP sleeves all inspired by the same Manet painting.
Cartoonists is a new sub-page under the Art of LP. It’s focussed around the Private Eye / Punch cartoonists, working for BBC Records on the Goon Show series initially. Some great sleeve illustration.
Wednesday Morning 3 a.m. – Simon and Garfunkel. 1964. The Reviled series. Their first album wasn’t so much reviled as ignored. It wasn’t released as an LP in the UK until four years later, though there had been an LP with the four best tracks. The critics then and later were fond of calling their harmonies ‘syrupy’ and ‘sugary.’ I think the critics got it wrong. Much better than the critics said.
Topic Records are Britain’s oldest independent label in its 83rd year. It’s also higher profile with folk revival records than it’s ever been. It’s a long and fascinating tale through political songs, archival folk of the British Isles, then the major British folk singers. A great label.
A whole new section on demos and promos has been added. It also has six sub-pages:
Quadraphonic section updated with new pictures and added text.
Oak Records – OK, it was a folk label, but other than that was it really a source of 60s beat group acetates and demos. A fascinating one.
Blue Horizon Records added to Producer Record Labels section. It was founded by Mike Vernon, specialized in blues and released Fleetwood Mac and Chicken Shack among its 60 singles and 100 albums. It ran from 1968 to 1972. The article includes the collectable mail-order Blue Horizon which preceded it as well as Vernon’s Purdah label.
Postcard Records of Scotland is the first in a series of Indie labels- one of the most collected too.
A Girl on the Sleeve is the latest addition to “The Art of The LP”, this one a tribute to the designers and many, many models who ended up on LP sleeves. It was genre specific. Easy Listening, Stereo Samplers and Budget cover labels went for sticking pictures of girls on the covers. There are rock examples, but they’re fewer. It has to be gratuitous – nothing to do with the artist or the theme. Very heavily illustrated.
Ember Records: The latest label article on Around and Around is on the Ember label, which ran from 1960 to 1979. It was a serious attempt by Flamingo Club owner Jeffry Kruger to break the monopoly of the British Record Industry, shared by the “Big Five.” The adventure had varied and fascinating stops along the way from Onward Christian Soldiers for Christmas release through John Barry film themes to the Profumo Affair and Christine Keeler (allegedly) and Mandy Rice-Davies. On the label went, releasing Glen Campbell when EMI declined, some great soul records, rediscovered Jimi Hendrix rarities. Yes, there were some records with “misleading” artist attributions along the way. All part of the fun.
Middle Earth, one of the rarest UK record labels added to Record Labels.
Shakedown Street – The Grateful Dead. Yes, the “Disco Dead” album. probably the most justly reviled album in the whole “Reviled!” series. I usually find the good points, but this is mainly a stinker.
Ronnie Spector article added. RIP. It covers The Ronettes and Ronnie Spector’s solo career.
Let It Be, The Beatles from 1979 added to Reviled! It was my original choice, but I wanted to wait for Peter Jackson’s film and the 2021 box set before doing it. It’s long and detailed.
The London Chuck Berry Sessions from 1972 just added to Reviled! It was the third album in the London Sessions series from Chess (following Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters). Side one was indeed new material recorded in London. Side two was live, and was only “In London” if you think the Locarno Ballroom, Coventry is “in London.” It was much reviled in spite of being his biggest selling album and containing his only million selling single … My Ding-A-Ling.
Three additions to Reviled!
I Want You – Marvin Gaye
There’s One In Every Crowd – Eric Clapton
3614 Jackson Highway – Cher (plus the bonus tracks)
Neil Diamond’s second live double album. He got an unfair ride from rock snob critics overall. This review takes in Hot August Night, Beautiful Noise and his performance on The Band’s The Last Waltz. Both Beautiful Noise and Love At The Greek were produced by Robbie Robertson, and no one seems to point out the close chronological proximity between the two live shows, Love At The Greek and The Last waltz. I include musings on the point of live albums in general.
BBC might be the most eclectic label of all. Well worth a look for the sheer range of material and cover images. This is a major section on Around and Around.
Reviled! visits 1992 and Bruce Springsteen’s HUMAN TOUCH. This was voted Bruce’s weakest album in an online poll of fans. I agree. Usually, these albums get better as I listen and work on the article, but HUMAN TOUCH just got worse. One of the “justly reviled” category. The surprise was that until then The Boss had really done no wrong. With other artists, you expect the odd weaker album. With bruce it was a shock. I explore why.
The latest addition to the “Reviled! Albums Critics Love To Hate” series is ONE TRICK PONY by Paul Simon from 1980. I found I had to review the film at the same time. The album was always a favourite of mine, and the record was liked more in Europe than in the USA. The film was generally knocked by critics, and didn’t get a release in the UK. Critics who had not seen the film were more generous than those who had. In retrospect though, the film was wildly under-estimated … and politics of record labels had more to do with this than quality. It’s a fascinating tale.
FREEBIES & TIE-INS
This is a new category, which will have several sections. The First is ARTISTS’ FREE DISCS which includes all those Beatles Christmas flexi-discs and more.
John and Yoko. 1972. This was double album REALLY reviled with mentions of trite and banal political lyrics. Recorded with a third rate band, Elephant’s Memory too. Then they decided to add a free live double album that most would have filed inthe wastebin. But … I do find some virtues.
An article on the Top Rank record label added. The label existed for under four years but introduced several American classics to the UK, before being bought by EMI then melded into the Stateside label. The history of Top Rank’s move from British films to music is interesting in itself. These ‘record label’ pieces attract fewer readers than the rticles on albums, but have a look if only for the wealth of pictures.
The next one on Around and Around’s Reviled! The Albums Critics Love To Hate is Jefferson Album’s 1989 reunion aibum, after a seventeen year gap. This is a classic tale of in-fighting in a band and the lure of reunion of five of the original six. Then there was a late 80s sound imposed on them. It’s better than you might think, and the story behind getting it together is intriguing.
The latest on Around and Around in the Reviled! Albums Critics Love To Hate gets to Leonard Cohen and ‘Death of A Ladies’ Man’ from 1977. It was produced by Phil Spector with his full Wall of Sound, and Spector commandeered the tapes and mixed the album without Leonard Cohen’s permission or input. At the time, Leonard was incensed. Most (but not all) critics damned it. As time has passed it has emerged as a highly-rated and fascinating piece of work. Even more to the point, it has one helluva back story to it!
Art of the album … EPs
Two articles added:
The latest on AROUND AND AROUND’s “Reviled! The albums critics love to hate …” gets to Elvis Presley. What started out as an article on one album grew so it’s on “Speedway” (and Elvis Film Music). I had to choose one of a dozen 60s film albums, and went for the last of the all music ones from 1968. Lots of pictures, lots on Elvis and film soundtracks in general.
1972. It was sandwiched between two of The Beach Boys greatest albums, Surf’s Up and Holland. It did poorly, and the record label like it less than even the reviewers. It was a transition point, with new members Blondie Chaplin and Rick Fataar. They were squeezing the toothpaste tube dry to try and get songs out of Brian Wilson, and Carl Wilson was producing, but not writing. Still, it has its virtues.
1971 The latest in the Around and Around “Reviled!” series is The Byrds “Byrdmaniax.” 1971. The same year as ‘Cahoots’ but considerably less interesting. The band was winding down, this wasn’t quite the end of the road but pretty near. Some blame Terry Melcher’s bloated over-production, done without the band’s consent. More likely they were running out of ideas. It’s not like “Let It Be – Naked” – there isn’t a great album hidden behind those strings waiting to escape the overproduction.
1988. Even the participants don’t have a good word for it. The financially motivated reunion.
You can’t get more reviled than being sued by your record label for $3.3 million because they think the album is so bad that it’s regarded as a deliberate insult. That’s what happened to Neil Young with this 1983 release.
The REVILED! Series.
December 1964. No Beatles album is truly reviled, but this has often been cited as their weakest studio album. Is it? Do add comments.
The 1979 album joins the REVILED! series of album reviews.
The A side and the B side
One of the original “foundation” articles for this site. Now revised. Double A sides, Last Night A DJ Saved My Life, the Profitability of B sides. The “Killer Bs”
I’m working on EPs on Around & Around at the moment. Just added a highly illustrated article on generic EP sleeve designs, which is a feast of 1950s artwork. https://aroundandaroundcom.wordpress.com/early-eps-and…/
This project started many years ago, with Paul Newman. Some of the articles are inextricably mixed as Paul started them and I added to them. There are literally hundreds of label summaries, album and single reviews, artist retrospectives, concert reviews . The aim will be to put up some every week for a long time, with the latest ones highlighted here.
BOB DYLAN: 1970 50th Anniversary Collection
A detailed review of this “copyright” collection of Dylan outtakes from 1970, relating to New Morning, Self Portrait and Dylan (1973)
Pye label overview
The start of a long project to cover all the Pye group labels. A daunting task … and they were only the fourth biggest label group!±
On AROUND AND AROUND the latest articles are connected to the Pye Record label and its artists. It’s the first major label to be loaded onto the Around and Around blog and it’s taking time due to the number of illustrations. The link is to PYE LABEL OVERVIEW, but then take a look at Pye, Piccadilly and Pye Jazz … the last has some great sleeve designs. Them there are the odd labels like Pye Plus Nonesuch and the short lived Pye Zodiac (just twelve releases obviously). aroundandaroundcom.wordpress.com/pye-group-overview/
Greetings records from Elvis to Boone to Bygraves to Blur!
Added to Manager labels TRACK RECORD, the infamous label for The Who and Jimi Hendrix … and more.
EPs … the charts and Cliff Richard & The Shadows
EPs and genres
The latest on AROUND AND AROUND is in the EPs sections. EPs and Genres … kids, comedy, sound effects, spoken voice, education, holidays, stereo. There are some weird and wonderful EPs there, and illustration rules again.
Art of The LP – Sgt Pepper
The latest on Around and Around is The Art of the LP: Sgt Pepper, which covers not only Sgt Pepper, but the pastiches of it. https://aroundandaroundcom.wordpress.com/art-of-the-lp…/
Chi-Mai … the ultimate charity shop single
Here’s a mystery for you. On “Around and Around.” The most common 45 single in charity shops for a dozen years has been “Chi Mai” by Ennio Morricone, always in pristine condition. Why? I don’t know. See the article (and if you know fill in the comments box).aroundandaroundcom.wordpress.com/case-study-chi-mai/
Dance Craze records
The follow on from The Dancing Class is now on AROUND AND AROUND. A whole article on THE TWIST. Have a look. Next up will be the other Dance Crazes in general.aroundandaroundcom.wordpress.com/the-twist/
The Dancing Class
A nostalgia one on Around and Around … the 60s dancing class (and associated records. Anyone else go to ballroom dancing classes in their early teens?aroundandaroundcom.wordpress.com/the-dancing-class/
British cover versions
There’s a new section on Cover Versions at Around & around … still incomplete, but the linked one takes you to British Cover Versions of American hits (and vice versa). There are four more articles on types of cover as well.aroundandaroundcom.wordpress.com/british-cover-versions/
I’ve just added an article on AROUND AND AROUND on Big Daddy, the wonderful American covers band. They did hits of the 80s and 90s but in late 50s / early 60s style. It’s an expanded version of a Toppermost article … their “back story” explaining why they hadn’t heard any of the original songs, and only had the sheet music is very good … I’ve quoted it in the article. You may never have heard of them, but you should try them out. Their masterpiece is Sergeant Pepper’s … every track re-imagined in late 50s / early 60s styles.aroundandaroundcom.wordpress.com/big-daddy/
David Bowie: Pin-ups
The “Reviled! The Albums Critics Love To Hate” section at AROUND AND AROUND adds David Bowie’s 1973 covers album, Pinups. It was far more disliked by American critics than British ones, and for an album that critics knocked (two stars was Rolling Stone magazine’s rating), Bowie had the last laugh … seven weeks at number one in Britain.aroundandaroundcom.wordpress.com/pinups/
Wings: Wild Life
The most popular section on AROUND AND AROUND is ‘Reviled: The Albums The Critics Loved to Hate.” Do look further than that on the site, but today’s addition get us to Paul McCartney, and WILD LIFE by Wings. It was considered his weakest album in a rush of post-Beatles ire at Paul. It bears re-listening especially as later reissues added the singles Give Ireland Back to The Irish and Mary Had A Little Lamb.aroundandaroundcom.wordpress.com/wild-life/
Artist labels: Madness , LUCKY SEVEN
An addition to ARTIST LABELS, Madness’s 2006-2016 label Lucky Seven. It’s here on designs and their love of retro images. The music will come elsewhere and later, but Lucky Seven is one of the most fun record labels to look at … even better when you listen too.aroundandaroundcom.wordpress.com/lucky-seven-madness/
Lou Reed Berlin
The latest page on AROUND AND AROUND is in the “Reviled: The albums they love to hate” section,. and is Lou Reed’s 1973 album “Berlin” (LINKED) It’s a perfect example for Reviled in that the critics’ pens were dipped in vitriol back at the time of release. Now it’s considered a masterpiece. Read and see why. There are comments on “Metal Machine Music” too … and take a look at the other pages on Around and Around. There’s a LOT there apart from reviews.aroundandaroundcom.wordpress.com/berlin/