Friday, May 22, 2015

Song of the Week #350

Listeners, this is going to be a relatively short episode. I've got a stinker of a cold and I have to work all weekend as well!

With the aid of DJ DJ and DJ Dr I have begun an excellent adventure. It's a bodacious quest to uncover new and exciting rock music. I'm not talking about new albums from bands that have been around for agers, but new(ish) stuff that hasn't hit a mass audience yet. Watch this space as we play air guitar, tell bad jokes and rock out.

Here are two bands worth a look. Firstly Vintage Trouble. Currently on tour across Europe with AC/DC, this US blues/rock/soul outfit have a fantastic debut album available (The Bomb Shelter Sessions) and a new one ready to go soon. It's like Ike and Tina crossed with Stevie Ray Vaughan and a barrel of monkeys.

Vintage Trouble - Pelvis Pusher -

Second cab off the rank are Kingswood. They hail from Australia and did rather well recently in online polls and the ARIA Awards. They're probably not as heavy as I expected but if you like Queens of the Stone Age or Pearl Jam then this might be your kind of thing.

Kingswood - I Can Feel That You Don't Love Me -

Rehearsals are all but over for our May 30th show. Thank you to all those who have already bought tickets. I'm not yet a Bob Dylan convert but he does have a few good moments!

Bob Dylan - Mr Tambourine Man (live) -

As part of our excellent rock and roll adventure we will investigate what we're calling the "Dolly's Effect". This is a theory postulating that most bands go downhill after their fourth album. There's more to it than that but we'll explore this over the next few months. Feel free to contribute to the discussion if you like. Dolly's was a food van; the post-gig bacon and egg roll with BBQ sauce was a thing of legends.

On Saturday Night DJ Al-ee-sunshine, DJ DJ and I went to see "Hell Ain't a Bad Place To Be" which is a look at the life and times of Bon Scott. It was a show in the same mould as Looking Through A Glass Onion in that the songs were interspersed with anecdotes about Bon's life. Nick Barker (one of my favourite artists) was in charge and he had a smoking hot band playing along. The range of songs chosen from AC/DC, Fraternity, The Spektors and The Valentines were well selected. In my opinion the band absolutely nailed the "Let There Be Rock" era AC/DC sound. 

The Valentines - My Old Man's A Groovy Old Man -

AC/DC - Riff Raff -

Nick Barker - Time Bomb -

See you all next week...

DJ Rob

"...they don't have lightswitches in trouser pockets!", Spike Milligan, Badjelly The Witch.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Song of the Week #349

It's hard to know what to write about BB King. 89 years is more than a decent innings but I'm still sad. For me, his music isn't so much about the songs, it's about his guitar tone and his attitude. Even from the point of view of a fan who never even sat in the same room as BB, it's obvious that he was a true gentleman. My Friend DJ BudE did indeed meet Mr King twice and said that, "you could tell that he took the time with people no matter their age or status".

BB King - You're Gonna Miss Me -

U2's Rattle and Hum film and double LP marked a resurgence in interest in BB Kin'g music. It's probably my favourite "rockumentary". There are three pivotal moments in the movie for me. First is when the picture moves from black and white into stunning technicolour during "Where The Streets Have No Name". That bit is wasted on a small screen, you have to see it at the cinema to understand. The second bit is The Edge playing a Rickenbacker at Sun Studios during the recording of "Angel of Harlem"; it's almost the perfect sound. And then there's the footage with BB King which is sublime.

BB King and U2 - When Love Comes To Town (Rattle and Hum excerpt) -

Freddie King, Albert King and BB King are all gone now but the Blues lives on. "We Three Kings" indeed...

I've got nothing else this week. Buy yourself a ticket to see us play on May 30th, it's a great show.

DJ Rob

"The sky is cryin', look at the tears rolling down the street...", Elmore James, The Sky Is Crying, 1959.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Song of the Week #348

Spotify playlist for most of this week's tunes (and extras):

This week at rehearsal, after the tunes for the upcoming gig were duly rehearsed and pronounced to be "well on the way" something interesting happened. George and Chief began playing Bob Dylan songs. They kept going, and going, and on, and so forth, into the night. These were songs I didn't know. I've never been able to crack the whole Bob Dylan thing despite giving it a red hot go a couple of times. Seriously I don't get it. He chooses a chord progression and plays it ad infinitum. The lyrics are usually pretty cool but the repetition is just too much for me. The Bob songs chosen for our show are crackers, but I don't know how anyone listens to a whole album or concert. Musically there isn't enough going on for me. I guess I'm off a few Christmas card lists now. I take it everyone has heard the story about Jimi Hendrix being unwilling to sing on his first album and being told that if Dylan can do it anyone can!

Jimi Hendrix - Like A Rolling Stone -

The gig is still on May 30th so book now (at Vivaldis) and come along for an evening of carefully chosen tracks by Dylan, Lennon, Neil Young and Jason Isbell.

The new Isbell album is to be released very soon. The first track is available online now for a listen. See what you think.

I've bitten the bullet and booked my tickets to visit Zoë at Atavtabanga, Pentecost, Vanuatu. It's a bit of a challenge getting there including three flights on planes of decreasing size and then a ride in the back of a truck. It'll be an adventure if nothing else and I can't wait to see my girl and meet the people she's living with as well as her students. The countdown is on. 24 sleeps to go.

BB King is unwell. Very unwell. Having "hospice care" doesn't sound great although I am sure he is being well looked after. It's sad to hear that his children, lawyers and doctors are squabbling in the media. Stay classy folks.

BB King with Eric Clapton - Riding With The King -

A few years ago a limited edition Thin Lizzy 6 CD set was released. It contains live recordings made by them at the BBC. It's tough to get hold of and the only one I can find for sale is over $300. Ouch. Amazingly, the whole thing is on Spotify so I've been able to well and truly overdose on the swagger and power of Phil Lynott and the group. There's nary a dud moment in the whole collection which I must say, is pretty impressive. Thin Lizzy are still playing in one form or another. I listened to some newer stuff with an open mind and it's not half bad.

Thin Lizzy - The Warrior (Peel Session 1976) -

Natural disasters, riots, wars, poverty, injustice and any number of related events have the potential to really give you the blues. It's often difficult not to feel either helpless or persecuted depending on what's going on. We all get overloaded at times by the news and often the way it's presented. I'm no expert but I do know from experience the feeling of complete helplessness and despair and it's horrid. People turn to many different things to get through, some healthy and some destructive. My advice, for what it's worth, is not to try and change the whole world. Choose a part, do your bit and live your life. Surround yourself with positive people and, after due consideration, ditch the naysayers. I did enjoy a quote that I read this week, "whatever the question, music is the answer". If you're down in the dumps choose music that lifts you up. It's different for everyone. Here's a few tunes that always bring a smile to my dial...

John Denver - Annie's Song -

AC/DC - Ain't No Fun (Waitin' 'Round To Be A Millionaire) -

Billy Bragg - She's Got A New Spell -

Journey - Don't Stop Believin' -

That's all for this week folks. I've got a couple of cold hours to spend on the side of a football field and some Bislama revision to be getting on with.

Lukum yu!


"One heart, one love..." , Bob Marley, One Love, 1977.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Song of the Week #347

Spotify playlist for most of this week's tunes (and a couple of extras) -

This week I listened to a rather eclectic range of music. Some of this will feature below. I really do encourage you to listen to all the tracks, they are chosen carefully and I put a lot of thought into which ones I think might interest listeners the most.

I have the new Steve Earle album, "Terraplane". There's almost a Chicago Blues feel to some songs and a folky, country tinge to others. It's bluesy too. But it's not rock and roll as some of his previous work has been, not that you'd expect it to be. If you want to see Steve at his most energetic then it's on stage where this happens and he could be playing almost anything. Steve has continued his work with "The Mastersons" on this long player and their guitar and violin work is tasteful and fits in really well. "Terraplane" is probably a bit more old fashioned sounding album than his last release, "The Low Highway" but it should appeal to established fans as well as those with a non-yeehaw country/blues/folk bent. I've had a soft spot for Steve's music since the mid-2000s (I was late to the party), here's an older track.

Steve Earle - Someday -

...and one from the new album...

Steve Earle & The Dukes - Go Go Boots Are Back -

Yesterday Zoë and I headed off to the music store to organise a replacement ukulele for her to take to Vanuatu (she leaves on Sunday). The one she took previously had to be left behind. We have it on good authority that her family are making very good use of it though. Whilst Zoë dealt with another 15 minutes of fame I tried out a few ukes myself. I also had a bit of a bash on a ukulele-banjo and it was a lot of fun. Imagine a ukulele but with the body being like a miniature banjo. I'm saving all my pennies to pay for my flights to Vanuatu otherwise I might have been tempted to make a purchase! I grew up listening to this next artist, probably the best known exponent of this instrument. 

George Formby - When I'm Cleaning Windows -

This morning DJ HamerTime and I were cycling along the lake after devouring a world record stack of pancakes and we heard the unmistakable sound of bagpipes. I do understand that they are a rather polarising instrument but I've always liked them when they are played well. This morning there was a band playing at some kind of ceremony. We stopped to hear the band for a few moments. When I was in the Army all of that marching up and down (aka drill) was quite hard work but I still enjoyed it. The one time I got to be on parade with a pipe band was a definite highlight; you could see everyone's performance step up a notch.

Edinburgh Tattoo 2013 - Massed Pipes & Drums -

Do you have songs, albums or even a particular artist that you listen to when you're in a particular mood? Sometimes there's nothing better than your favourite tunes turned up loud to improve your outlook. Today I've had some classic rock playing in the background but yesterday was more challenging. Challenging enough for 7 Slayer studio albums in a row (chronologically of course, from "Show No Mercy" through to "Divine Intervention". I think it helped my productivity and the progression of the band was interesting to listen to as well. I'm a fan but I hadn't really spent any time with their first release. I was surprised at how much I actually liked it. It's more punk influenced than some of their later stuff. Don't get me wrong, it's still loud, fast and heavy but "Show No Mercy" has a different edge to it than the rest of their releases. Yes, I know that there are 11 studio albums as well as some live stuff but there are only so many hours in a day. I think I'll stick with the early stuff for a while and I've just realised that I don't have "Show No Mercy" on CD or LP. It must be on a cassette somewhere. That can go on my list to look out for another day. This next track is from 1990.

Slayer - War Ensemble -

Yes, I mentioned classic rock. I understand that it's often cheesy and really not all challenging listening but there's a time and place for most musical styles in my listening habits. 

Foreigner - Jukebox Hero -

DJ DJ is either still in Washington DC or on a plane jetting his way home. As a result of listening to far too much Henry Rollins as well as reading his books I've been exposed to a fair amount of music that came out of DC. If you have time to explore and listen there's some excellent punk, hardcore, funk and go-go music to get into. The really interesting thing is reading about and listening to some of these bands and discovering the links between the genres. The fact that Bad Brains started out as a Mahavishnu Orchestra type group is entertaining!

Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers - If It Ain't Funky -

Bad Brains - Banned In DC -

Just a quick reminder that tickets for our May 30th gig at Vivaldi's at the ANU here in Canberra are selling like ice creams on a hot day. Get yours now and enjoy a good meal and some tunes by Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Neil Young & Jason Isbell all played with love, energy and enthusiasm. We've been rehearsing too so they should also sound good! You don't have to come for the meal, there is an option just to see the show - just talk to the friendly staff at Vivaldi's. Yep, this is a paying gig for us. Any money that I get will go towards helping in Vanuatu.

It makes me sad and angry to see rioting in Baltimore this week. I feel as though I have a bit of a personal connection as a longtime online friend of mine works in law enforcement there. He's been on the streets trying to keep people safe whilst angry mobs have looted and destroyed property. Looting, robbery and violence are crimes, it's not protesting. No-one is saying that the Police are perfect but this is hardly a constructive approach to take. I think it's time I played this song again...

Elvis Costello - What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love & Understanding? -

It's the 1st of May. That's "May Day" or "International Workers Day" depending on who you are. Most of us are workers of one form or another and lucky enough to live where we can work without oppression. You don't need to be a left wing unionist to support workers' rights. It wasn't hard to choose an artist to close the show on such a day as this...

Billy Bragg - The Internationale -

Have a great weekend everyone.


"I'll tell you once more before I get off the floor,
don't bring me down..." - Don't Bring Me Down, ELO, 1979

Friday, April 24, 2015

Song of the Week #346

Spotify link for some of the songs in this episode (not all available on that service) as well as a few related extras:

It's ANZAC Day tomorrow (25th April). I choose to capitalise ANZAC as it is an acronym. A little research has revealed that no-one can really make up their minds about this and either ANZAC and Anzac are permissible. To me, not capitalising NZ just seems disrespectful.

The commercialisation of ANZAC Day is annoying and inconsistent. It seems OK for a range of organisations to make a profit using the term ANZAC but not for others. The recent supermarket advertising debacle might not have been the most tasteful but is it any worse than the marketing of sports events or beverages using the same gist? I have no doubt that there is a certain amount of reverence involved in each campaign but I am sure that a profit is being made.

Whilst our politicians and media are telling us all about the 100th Anniversary of the Gallipoli landings and campaign let's take a moment to remember those who have served in areas of conflict that don't get as much coverage as well as those who did their time, served their country and were fortunate enough not to see active service.

DJ SAB has been working hard with Australian music legends John Schumann, Shane Howard, Rob Hirst and Hugh McDonald on an ANZAC Day tune. Commissioned by LTGEN Morrison, the Chief of Army, it's about the experience of indigenous service personnel. I highly recommend you give it a look. The song is touching and Scot has done a great job on the clip. Please note the the official clip won't be released until May. This is a placeholder version. I've seen the rough cuts of what's coming and it's fantastic. You'll see it here when it gets the green light.

John Schumann - Every ANZAC Day -

Twisted Sister drummer AJ Pero passed away recently and the band is now on a farewell tour. The interesting part is their choice to hit the skins; Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater). I wonder how he'll cope with the 4/4 beat and the tinny (and iconic) snare drum sound!

Dream Theater - Hollow Years (live) -

Twisted Sister - I Wanna Rock (live) -

English band Lux Lisbon contacted me via Twitter this week. It's a good marketing ploy and after checking that I wasn't being spammed I replied and Stu sent me a link to their latest EP which streams online. Rarely does a band make me want to stop and listen on the first run through but Lux Lisbon managed it. They describe their music as being influenced by such artists as Fleetwood Mac, The Killers, Springsteen and Bloc Party. I can definitely hear all of those and more rolling around in their songs. After only a couple of listens I was positive that I needed to include them here for all of you to check out. I like the fact that the instrumentation and vocals are recorded and produced so that you can hear all of them. The vocals cut through rather well and are easy to understand; no need for a lyric sheet. I'd love to see them live!

You can preview (and order) the Lux Lisbon EP, "Get Some Scars" at this link:

silverchair have released the 20th Anniversary version of their debut album, "Frogstomp". I was lucky enough to get a copy for my birthday. I'm really not sure if I ever owned the original, surely I had a cassette somewhere, but this is a great repackaging. The album sounds powerful and the live tracks and DVD included have been well selected. I'm happy to say that I saw silverchair live before they were absolutely massive; just before Frogstomp came out. Although The Mark of Cain blew everyone away that night there was no doubting that silverchair were going to be masters of riff rock; and for a while they were. This is a decent anniversary edition well worth your money.

silverchair - Israel's Son -

Alabama Shakes have a new release called "Sound and Color". Buy it now. If you're a lover of vinyl then spend the money on that. I bought their previous LP after hearing one tune and I still think it's fabulous. It's Southern rootsy, bluesy soul rock but without the hard edge. If you like Janis Joplin try it out...

Alabama Shakes - Don't Wanna Fight (live)  -

Canberra sludge, doom, metal and volume dealers Witchskull have been in the studio. Their debut album should be out soon. As a teaser they've released a 3 song demo CD (and online tracks) to get your head nodding. Having seen them play live twice now I can attest that the live energy and aural assault is well captured on tape. I've ponied up a few dollars to support them and should have the physical copy of the CD soon. For now, life is online. Witchskull is a three piece band from Canberra and with any luck the Australian and worldwide metal community will get behind them. Horns up folks! Get their stuff here:

Witchskull - Vast Electric Dark -

We've known for ages now that there will be a new Star Wars film at the end of the year. It's set 30 years after Return of the Jedi. I guess that means that they won't need to try and make any of the original actors appearing in it look younger! I've been totally underwhelmed by the whole thing for a while now...from the announcement to the actual film is a very, very long time. However, the second trailer was released recently and I begrudgingly devoted 1 minute and 49 seconds to watching it. Then I watched it again, and again. Suddenly I felt like a kid again instead of the grumbling yet windswept and interesting blogger that you all know and love. It's good...I'm more than excited should watch it.

Star Wars - The Force Awakens trailer #2 -

Big news this week was Angus' birthday. 17! I must say I'm impressed as well; he got his driving license right on time without any major hiccups. DJ Al-ee-sun now has three chauffeurs!

The Radiators - 17 -

As many of you know, I put my Fender Stratocaster guitar up for sale to help out with aid in Vanuatu. Sadly (or not) it didn't sell. A few people have emailed me asking about it. I guess if someone offered me the amount I was looking then of course I would hand it over. Thankfully, due to the generosity of quite a few people out there we ended up raising enough money for Zoë's aid helicopter and some left over to help out on the ground. The band has a few gigs coming up this year, so what I'll do is put any money that I get from those towards Vanuatu. That way if I keep the guitar I can play it without feeling guilty!

Frank Zappa - Shut Up And Play Yer Guitar -

Lest We Forget,


" they gave me a tin hat,
and they gave me a gun,
and they sent me away to the war...", And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda, Eric Bogle, 1971.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Song of the Week #345

As of tomorrow I will have travelled around the sun 44 times. Good grief, how did the number get so high? Lately I've been feeling my age (which is unusual). I put it down to far too much stress in the last year. Hopefully I can go back to feeling what passes for normal before too long!

Last week I wrote a little bit about Spotify. This week I think I've spent far too much time on it exploring artists that I enjoy whose albums aren't always that easy to find. Some of them will get played this week. I think the only thing that I haven't liked is that the comedy "radio" channel that they have is almost exclusively American comedians that I've a) never heard of and. b) aren't funny. Shouting and swearing a lot gets boring really, really quickly.

It's rare for any record stores around here to have much by American bluesman, Taj Mahal. This is a real shame because it's not your regular twelve bar stuff. I was first exposed to Taj singing LeadBelly's "Bourgeois Blues" on the Folkways tribute album. That's an album any music fan should have in their collection. It might be "old" music but it remains "good" music. Kurt Cobain was a LeadBelly fan.

Taj Mahal - Divin' Duck Blues -

Lead Belly - The Gallows Pole -

Nirvana - Where Did You Sleep Last Night -

Canberra music fans can either rejoice or stay away...we've got a gig coming up! Join the band at Vivaldi's on the evening of May 30th as we run through a range of songs by Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Neil Young and Jason Isbell. It's a slightly more laid back setlist musically but there will still be plenty to get your feet tapping. This will be the four piece version of the band with George singing and playing keys, Brownie on bass and vocals, Hayden on the drums and singing as well and of course me making up the numbers on guitar and un-mic'd vocals! There are other different shows coming so watch this space and the Facebook page for details in the not too distant future. You won't hear this song but I'm going to play it because I think it's a great version...

The "survivor of cyclones" is heading back to Vanuatu in a couple of weeks. Zoë is off to a different village but she's still going to be on Pentecost. Atavtabanga is about 5hrs walk further North than she was. It's also significantly closer to the airstrip they use to get there. I'm hoping to be able to visit her there at the end of her placement. There's a lot of ducks to line up to make that happen but I'll do my best. I better keep working on my Bislama as I'd like to be able to speak to the people there at least some of the time in their language. Speaking of languages, how backwards do I feel? Most Australians speak English only. In Zoë's village many of the people speak English, Bislama, their local language and French!

I'm wary of many remastered albums as you may be aware. All they do is pump up the bass and kick drum and make everything louder. But sometimes hearing a different mix of a song or the demo versions makes the purchase worthwhile. Here's a couple that you might enjoy. Firstly Led Zep and the alternate Stairway to Heaven mix. You can decide for yourself if you can hear the difference. And after that is one of the demos from Pink Floyd's The Wall...interesting!

Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven (Sunset Sound Mix) -

Pink Floyd - Have A Cigar (alternate version) -

Tony Joe White has been around for a very long time. Legend is that he would play so hard that his amplifiers would give up! If you like swampy blues then he's the king. Even without the awesome guitar he certainly has the right kind of voice!

Tony Joe White - Holed Up -

I'll close off this week with a few of my all time favourite songs. 

DJ ZedBoots was watching a movie the other day and I noticed that one of the characters was wearing a Stryper t-shirt. I've always admired them for their melodic approach to metal and the fact that they sing what they like regardless of what people think.

Stryper - Co'mon Rock -

Beach Boys - I Can Hear Music - This is a cover version of a Ronnettes tune for those that didn't know.

Sammy Hagar - There's Only One Way To Rock -

That'll do for now. Rock on Brothers and Sisters! Hello Tingha!


"Time, time, time, see what's become of me...." not the version you'd here

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Song of the Week #344

Finally....AC/DC have announced Australian tour dates for the end of 2015. Personally, I can't wait. I haven't seen them live since the "Stiff Upper Lip" tour. If you think you'd like to come to the Sydney show then talk to me before tickets go on sale on April 20th. Angus and I will hopefully be heading there on a rock and roll pilgrimage!

AC/DC - Are You Ready? -

Discovering a "new" band that I actually want to listen to is a treat. Bishop Allen is such a band. They're not really new as they have releases dating back over 10 years but they are new to me. I've heard a couple of tracks from their 2014 LP "Lights Out" and I'll organise a physical copy of the album soon. If you like The Cars or Crowded House then this band might be something worth a listen

Bishop Allen - Why I Had To Go -

I find myself drawn more and more to what genre classifiers might call alt-country. That's pretty much country music without the yee-haw element. Looking back through our music collection the indicators of this progression have been there for a while. 15 years ago this next band was recommended to me. Blue Rodeo are Canadian and, "The Days In Between", the album I have, has remained a firm favourite. 

Blue Rodeo - Begging You To Let Me In -

King Creosote is the stage name of singer/songwriter Kenny Anderson. He's from Fife in Scotland which is where my Mum comes from too. I was attracted to his music as a result of his album cover which is an old beach postcard with the title, "From Scotland With Love". Anderson is another vocalist who isn't afraid to sing in his own accent and that's something I always like. People from Scotland don't have Nashville accents.

King Creosote - For One Night Only -

Did you read about Don McLean selling the original lyrics for American Pie? I'm sure he didn't really need the US$1.2m but good luck to him anyway. This is very much a song of my childhood. The vinyl LP which my parents had was played a lot and I'm sure we could all sing most of the lyrics for every song. Just quietly I've got that LP here and playing it is something that always makes me feel good. I always wondered if KISS had been influenced by the album cover...

Don McLean - Everybody Loves Me -

After last week's episode, DJ UncleSam asked me if I'd consider sharing the week's songs via a Spotify playlist. The reason was that the YouTube app on an iDevice doesn't play in the background so he couldn't read my nonsense and listen at the same time. That sounded like a fair request. Spotify is an interesting beast and you can have as much free music as you could ever want. If you're using a computer to listen then you can choose individual songs and playlists. If you're using the iDevice app however you get random "suggested" songs popping up and you can only listen to a playlist in a random order. But for $12 a month (and less if you know a current subscriber) there's a lot of mileage in it. The link for most of this week's tunes as a playlist is at the end. Not all bands allow their music on various streaming services for a variety of reasons. 

One band that I did use Spotify to catch up on were another Scottish fave of mine, Del Amitri. I was unaware that they had released a live album recently and it sounds really good. You'll need to use the Spotify link for a listen as I can't find any of the new release on YouTube. In case you're ideologically opposed to Spotify or can't be bothered clicking the link at the bottom then here's a cracker of a Del Amitri song...

Del Amitri - Be My Downfall -

Last night I saw a band play an interesting cover of Paul Simon's "Diamonds on the soles of her shoes". It's a good song and the version played was a lot of fun. The Graceland album always brings me back to this song and I hope you'll take the time to have a good listen to it. I started learning the lyrics recently (it's not hard). This version is from the "Invictus" movie soundtrack and I'm using it as it has the words for you but for a real treat look for the one from the Ipi Ntombi soundtrack.

Have a great week folks. Rock on.


"...maybe Vader someday later no he's just a small fry..." - Weird Al Yankovic, The Saga Begins, 1999.