Saturday, November 22, 2014

Song of the Week #324

This week I could tell you about any of the following things that have made me feel good;
  • enjoying my work,
  • spending a few hours with my Dad,
  • Chief playing my Stratocaster and pronouncing it awesome,
  • finally taking delivery of my new bike,
  • reading some books,
  • Alison being on the mend after knee surgery,
  • Angus doing homework on a Friday night, or
  • meeting up with interstate friends...
...but I won't. What I will tell you about is that Zoë has finished high school. We both started school on the same day in 2002 and it seems fitting that we both finished about the same time. She's been an amazing student and I'm a proud old Dad. Not everyone has the kind of brain that allows then to write a novella and have it published and also have a true love of Science. Zoë's next adventure is volunteering in Vanuatu for 6 months, travelling in Europe and then coming home to go to university. Sounds pretty good to me.

Thomas Dolby - She Blinded Me With Science - http://youtu.be/1p6fTDGLHGQ

The next song was a huge hit in 1984. I think the singer has a great voice and I was surprised to read about how many artists have covered the tune. Look for the Alison Krauss version sometime. I'm playing the original though. The reason I remembered it this week was that I was in a taxi and the driver was singing along, at a decent volume with the track. It was hilarious. Usually I get in a cab and the driver turns off his music. Most times I tell them to turn it back on because anything is better than talk radio or silence. This song and his rendition was a real treat!

John Waite - Missing You - http://youtu.be/k9e157Ner90

Jason Isbell, whose work I rate very, very highly, just won song of the year for this next one at the Americana Music Awards. He also won album and artist of 2014! Keep a look out in 2015 as the three piece version of our band are planning to perform Jason's album, "Southeastern" cover to cover. I better buy a checked shirt.

Jason Isbell - Cover Me Up - http://youtu.be/fkHyP3hpB5c

During the week, H, via DJ Dylan sent me a link to the next video. They were both rather amused and I can't blame them. What follows is AC/DC's first single. It's pre Bon Scott. In fact the only band members in the video and on the recording that made it through to record the debut album are Malcolm and Angus Young. Malcolm's outfit is just beautiful I'm sure you'll all agree.

AC/DC - Can I Sit Next To You Girl (1974) - http://youtu.be/uRG1wPCWWw4

If you want a comparison to just a year later when Bon was singing, Phil was on drums and Mark on bass check this link. It's the same song but a much tougher and more polished sound.

AC/DC's new album is out in 6 days. I quite like the first single but I really do NOT like the video. Here it is with just the audio. The guitars sound great and the rhythm section are in the pocket as always. Brian's voice sounds pretty good for a 67 year old chain smoker.

AC/DC - Play Ball - http://youtu.be/cIE8F_OL_Ds

US pop-punk band The Dollyrots have been on tour in the UK with The Buzzcocks. Pretty cool! They've just released a new single and it's well worth a listen.

The Dollyrots - Get Weird - http://youtu.be/xZnfIrY2tGg

When I first became a Billy Bragg fan I didn't realise that "Ever Fallen In Love" wasn't one of his. It was obviously a good choice to cover! Here's the original.

The Buzzcocks - Ever Fallen In Love (live) - http://youtu.be/Bif2q_Zo3-4

While I'm in a punk rock mood I think that it's certainly the right thing to do to give this video an airing. I got such a shock as a young man the first time I heard this track. In the Army we'd marched to part of the tune and of course I knew the surf guitar track too but this was just uber cool. 

Radio Birdman - Aloha Steve and Danno - http://youtu.be/J5Jjg-5ouaI

If you watched "Happy Valley", the rather bleak English police drama then you will have heard this next song. It's the theme song. Thanks to DJ AngryPete for pushing the song my way. Jake Bugg isn't that old but he's obviously a Dylan devotee. The TV show is worth a look as well...but not if you're feeling down OK?

Jake Bugg - Trouble Town - http://youtu.be/WTM9rV8uKpI

I must say that I've really enjoyed the fact that Bob Geldof's efforts to record a single to raise money for the fight against Ebola have raised some eyebrows. Indeed, why should we listen to someone worth millions about giving to charity? I think that donating to a charity is great; they need the cash so choose a couple and dig deep. But always remember that giving something more than your money is what is actually needed to make real change. How you do this is up to you, not Sir Bob or even Bono for that matter.

Bad Time To Be Poor - Rheostatics - http://youtu.be/HjSx2YFMSpU

I'll finish with something a little different. This song was playing in the car today. I've always liked it because it has a bagpipe solo. But I remember how absolutely massive it was when first released. This was the kind of single that had teenage girls swooning and the rest of the country singing along. It seems a bit cliched these days and probably overplayed but I still like it.

John Farnham - You're The Voice - http://youtu.be/tbkOZTSvrHs

If you're in Australia don't forget to watch the Countdown retrospective at 7.40pm on Sunday. It's a bit of a rose coloured glasses view of things but it's entertaining nonetheless.

Rock on brothers and sisters,

Rob

"y'all don't know what it's like,
being male, middle class and white..." Ben Folds, Rockin' The Suburbs (2001)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Guitars...

This is the awful truth and only guitar lovers will really be interested.

At the end of 1987 I bought my first electric guitar with help from my Mum. It marked the start of a lifelong obsession and passion.

Below are some notes about all the electric guitars, amps and pedals I have owned. It's a bit scary looking back and I don't know all the dates but the chronological order is about right... (asterisked items are the ones I still have)

  • 1987 - first guitar; red "Applause" brand Stratocaster copy*. Purchased with my Mum at Northern Music Centre, Porirua, NZ.
    • this guitar has been rewired a number of times. For ages it had a Seymour Duncan Hot Rails pickup. Nowadays it houses genuine Fender Noiseless single coil pickups.
    • it's comfortable to play and seems bulletproof.
    • for a "cheap" guitar people are always surprised by how good it feels and sounds.
  • 1987 - first amplifier; Ross Fame 10 watt solid state. Purchased at Northern Music Centre, Porirua, NZ. Sold when I bought the Crate amp.
  • 1988 - first pedal; Boss OD-2 Turbo Overdrive*. Purchased with my Dad at Allan's Music in Melbourne CBD. Modded and upgraded in 2014 by JK Pedals.
  • 1988 - pedal; Rocktek Flanger.* Purchased by my Dad so that I could do spacey sounds for a school performance!
  • 1990 - pedal; Boss DSD-2-  Digital Sampler/Delay. Sold to Graeme from "The Entwined".
  • 1991 - amplifier; Crate G160XL solid state. Purchased at a guitar shop in Morwell, VIC. Traded.
  • 1991- guitar; Gibson SG 1976. Purchased with Sutto at Downtown Music, Annandale, NSW. Traded.
    • and herein begins my problems with these guitars. I'd love to have one but the necks are all too wide for my hands. Note that I don't give up on Gibson as time goes by.
  • 1991 - pedal; Marshall Guv'nor overdrive pedal. Purchased at Pro Audio, Canberra. Sold for peanuts. What a twit.
    • these days the Marshall Guv'nor pedal is very much sought after and expensive. I found the sound a bit harsh compared to the borrowed Boss Super Overdrive I was using at the time.
  • 1991 - reverb/delay unit; Yamaha R100*. Purchased at Pro Audio, Canberra.
  • 1993 - guitar; Washburn 335 copy; Purchased at Pro Audio, Canberra. Traded.
    • This guitar sounded great plugged in or not. Probably the best guitar I've ever owned for writing songs on for some reason.
  • 1993 - amplifier; Marshall Valvestate 8080, Purchased at Better Music, Canberra.Traded.
    • Great clean and crunch sounds but the lead channel never thrilled me.
  • 1994 - pedal; Morley Wah. Purchased at Better Music, Canberra. Sold to Ron from "The Sly Dogs".
  • guitar; Gibson SG 1972. Purchased at Better Music, Canberra. Sold to the band "78 SAAB".
    • another go with an SG but in the end the same neck problems got me.
  • 1994 - guitar; Fender USA Telecaster 1992. Purchased with Alison in Melbourne VIC. Sold.
    • I sold this because I wasn't playing much. It was a mistake as this Tele was a great guitar and fun to play.
  • guitar; Peavey Telecaster copy with two humbuckers. Purchased at Better Music, Canberra. Sold to B.
    • a fine rock and roll machine. Simple and effective.
  • pedal - Zoom. Purchased with Alison at Northern Music Centre, Poririua, NZ. I forget but I think I sold it.
    • I had a lot of fun with this and it was great for playing through headphones.
    • The Zoom lasted a couple of gigs with DVoB but I really only used the tremelo style sounds as the rest were tinny when volume was significant.
  • amplifier - Laney VC-30 valve amp with matching extension cabinet. Sold.
    • Laney's version of the classic VOX AC-30.
    • A big, fat sound. I could use one of these at the moment!
  • guitar - Samick TV-20. Purchased at Pro Audio, Canberra. Sold to G from DVoB.
    • an ugly guitar with a great sound.
    • you can probably pick these up for a song nowadays so I must look.
  • 1998 - guitar; Epiphone Korina Flying V. Purchased from Pro Audio, Canberra. Sold.
    • For years this was my main guitar. I upgraded the bridge pickup to a Gibson JB. The V always turned heads. More Gibson neck size issues finally forced my hand.
  • amplifier - Ampeg SuperJet 12R. Purchased from Pro Audio, Canberra. Traded.
    • this lasted a couple of rehearsals and one gig.
    • good little amp but little was the issue at the time.
  • 1998 - amplifier; Marshall JCM2000 50 watt valve head with 1936 2 x 12" cabinet. Purchased from Pro Audio, Canberra. Traded.
    • I had this amp for almost 15 years. It was loud, it never had any issues. But it weighed a ton and I got sick of lugging it around.
    • Sadly, the trading of this amp ended up costing me money as the two MESAs that I went to from here were awful.
  • pedal; Ibanez Tone Lok CF7 Chorus/Flanger. Purchased from Pro Audio, Canberra. Sold.
  • pedal; Ibanez Tone Lok DE7 Delay/Echo. Purchased from Pro Audio, Canberra. Sold.
  • guitar; Maton Mastersound MS500. Purchased from Better Music, Canberra. Sold.
    • A heavy beast of a guitar with a big fat sound. Sold after being repaired when a punter knocked it over.
  • 2006 - guitar; Fender Stratocaster "Classic Players Strat". Purchased from Pro Audio Canberra. Sold. Beautiful looking guitar but the neck was horrid.
    • The made in Mexico version. Thin reedy sound but a rough neck to play was the main issue.
  • 2006 - amplifier; Kustom practice amp. Sold.
  • guitar; Gibson Joan Jett signature Melody Maker. Purchased from Better Music, Canberra.
    • Didn't sound like Joan's guitar. Harsh pickup and the ubiquitous fat Gibson neck. Will I never learn?
  • 2010 - guitar; Burns Steer.* Purchased from NZ importer. 
    • Transported to me through the hands of family and friends in Auckland, Wellington and Geelong. 
    • It's not a signature guitar but it's one that Billy Bragg made famous.
    • In terms of versatility I think it could play any kind of music well.
    • This one is a keeper for a number of reasons.
  • 2012 - pedal; MXR Black Label Chorus*. eBay.
  • 2012 - guitar; Gibson Les Paul Deluxe.* Purchased from Davis Wheeler Music, Canberra. Bridge pickup swapped to a Gibson '57 Classic Plus in 2014 for a smoother sound.
    • Aha, I hear you say...another Gibson and what about the neck? Well folks, it's a different profile neck to any Gibson I've ever played and it's as comfy as a well worn in pair of shoes.
    • This guitar went on tour as my only electric and didn't miss a beat.
  • 2012 - pedal; original Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive*. eBay.
    • Finally bought an old one of these. I used a borrowed one in my first couple of bands and it was the only drive I needed at the time. Still sounds good.
  • 2013 - pedal; Redwitch Eve Tremelo*. Direct sale from manufacturer.
  • 2013 - pedal; Jim Dunlop Cry Baby Classic Wah. Purchased from Better Music, Canberra.
  • 2014 - amp; MESA Express 5:50. Purchased from Better Music. Traded. I hated the drive on this amp.
  • 2014 - pedal; Hotone EKO delay pedal. Purchased via eBay. Sold to J. Delay is not my thing.
  • 2014 - amp; MESA Lonestar. Purchased from Better Music.Swapped.
    • A seriously expensive amp that I toured with and just couldn't love. It always sounded harsh and/or messy to me.
  • 2014 - amplifier; Jet City JCA20HV valve amp with 2 x 12 cabinet*. The answer to all my tone issues. Purchased from Pro Audio, Canberra.
    • This is a very simple amp. It has one channel and no reverb. And it sounds great. Very much a rock and roll machine. Plug in, turn up, start playing.
    • Ideally I'd like a second one beside it for a cleaner tone but I can work with what I've got.
  • 2014 - guitar; Fender Stratocaster Plus Deluxe 1990 model*. Got this one in the swap for my amp.
    • This has upgraded pickups made by Suhr (maker of all things guitar for Mark Knopfler). They are quite full and fat sounding.
    • Although I hate the 60 cycle hum from a single coil pickup all you need to do is play with the switch at position 2 or 4 and the hum is cancelled pretty much,
    • This guitar is a keeper. The only slight temptation is to put the original pickups (which I have) back in one day. Not now though.
  • 2014 - pedal; Boss HM-2 Heavy Metal*. Purchased via internet forum. Always wanted one of these as a teen/young man. Now I have one. It rocks.

The future? Well there's no doubting that there are a couple of guitars I'd like to add one day. A nice Gretsch hollowbody and a Jackson Randy Rhoads V are the two that spring to mind. I am on the lookout for a decent amp head and small cabinet that I can use beside my Jet City rig for the clean sounds but that search may take a while. I don't plan to trade or sell any of the guitars I have now, or the amp. It's taken a long time to get something coming out of the speakers that approximates the sound I can hear in my head.

Oh, but if Gibson make an SG with the same neck as my current Les Paul I will be sorely tempted.

Rob

Friday, November 14, 2014

Song of the Week #323

Last week as I wrote I was about to head in to see The Mark of Cain play at the Metro in Sydney. DJ DJ, DJ Drooper and I got there in time to see King of the North play their set as the support act. I'm glad we did. They're a two piece act (guitars and drums) but with your eyes closed you'd swear it was a 'full' band. They have a massive sound thanks to powerhouse drumming and some very clever guitar work. I can't rave enough about these guys. If I had to describe their music it would be a cross between Chuck Berry, Kyuss, The Rolling Stones and Black Sabbath. I guess it's just heavy, energetic rock and roll. The vocals are great, the drums are fierce and the guitar is just...well...awesome. I picked up a t-shirt and CD after the show. Few bands completely blow me away in a live setting if I don't know any of their stuff. Henry Rollins and his band did it back in 1994 and I think this may be the first time since. Check them out, buy their stuff, like them on Facebook, go to their shows. It's absolutely worth it.

King of the North - It's Been Too Long - http://youtu.be/HrlVhmfvsfU

There's not much I can say about The Mark of Cain I haven't said before. They were, as always, a real treat to watch live and the mix of songs was a solid balance of old and new stuff. It's so unusual to see heavy bands sporting Rickenbacker guitars (especially since they are notorious for not staying in tune) but it's just one more thing that makes TMOC a little different. I couldn't get a good look at John Scott's pedal board but I did discover that he uses an old Boss Digital Metallizer pedal. These were around in the 80s and were far from popular. They had a nice fat analog drive in them along with a range of digital chorus effects. Hmmmm....I need another pedal.....

DJ DesperadoSkinflint gave me a loan of Paul Westerberg's 2002 double LP set "Stereo". The second disc is called "Mono". It's a good listen and reminds me of Tom Petty in a good way. I've thrown it on my iDevices to listen to and ordered my own copy. $10 on eBay....bargain!

Paul Westerberg - Let's Not Belong - http://youtu.be/JBRzHkt6jc4

When in Sydney, DJ DJ and I visited a couple of iconic record stores. Red Eye and Utopia are essential destinations for any music fan. There's nothing quite like the magnetic pull of the bargain CD and LP racks. And yes, bargains were had! I picked up a copy of my favourite Motorhead album; one which I only have on cassette, for a song, as well as some other treats I may or may not reveal over the coming weeks. During the previous week I'd been to BelAir in South Australia for a meeting. I couldn't get this next song out of my head all week!

Motorhead - Angel City - http://youtu.be/yW-D7An0dSA

Recently DJ K-Gee let on that she was a bit of a Lenny Kravitz fan. Sure, he's OK...and he was amusing starring in "The Hunger Games". If you like his music can I encourage you in the strongest possible terms to run, not walk, to your supplier of CDs (vinyl if you can) and get copies of "Let Love In" from 1989 as well as 1991s "Mama Said". There is no way that rock and roll fans should be disappointed with either album. Tasty guitars, a bit funky, cool lyrics and if you want to dance then you can. "Mama Said" was the best giveaway cassette I ever got. Listen to this next one through headphones - great guitars panned hard left and right.

Lenny Kravitz - Always On The Run - http://youtu.be/em8JuUW-OOE

Ambient background music isn't something I'm at all interested in. I like music to be something I listen to, engage with and as you might have guessed, think about. Which brings me to the new Pink Floyd long player. Yes, yes, I know that it's stuff they recorded a long time ago now that they've been working on and I know that some people are decribing it as little more than lounge music...I'm not sure. Let's all have a good listen to a track and mull it over. Personally, I'd listen to almost anything David Gilmour played on at least twice before even considering making negative comments.

Pink Floyd - Louder Than Words - http://youtu.be/Ezc4HdLGxg4

A few years ago I bought an album by a group called "TV on the Radio". I didn't think a lot of it and it has been quietly sitting in the rack probably feeling unloved. I admit that at the time I made the impulse purchase because I thought the band had a cool name. This week I found out they have a new album and I think the single is pretty good. If you liked the Aussie band "Regurgitator" you might like this. I do.

TV On The Radio - Happy Idiot - http://youtu.be/OaKVy-FlaUA

OK, that'll do this week. I have bleak, British television to watch. But can I say this. The only upside I've found related to spending a little time in airports and on planes for work is that I've read a few books. It's nice to have the headspace and opportunity to do this. All I need now is a Steinberger guitar to take with me and I'll make good use of hotel time!

Rock on brothers and sisters, Lest We Forget.

Rob

"You never planned on the bombs in the sand
or sleeping in your dress blues" - Jason Isbell, "Dress Blues".

Friday, November 7, 2014

Song of the Week #322

This week I've spent time in Adelaide and Sydney. Plenty of time in airports, hotels and aeroplanes means an opportunity to listen to some new tunes.

First up is a bit of a nice surprise. Taylor Swift has a new album. In the past most of her stuff has been relatively inoffensive, wholesome pop / country and she's been very, very successful with it. The new album, "1989", is a bit of a left field effort. There's drum sounds from the early 90's, some pumping bass lines and atmospherics that remind me of Lorde at times. I like it. And as DJ EmGee pointed out, she's done it all without the need to embarrass herself in a lewd manner on TV or on stage. ZBoots bought the album and I finally managed to wrest it away from her to throw onto our iTunes library before this little trip. I think I've listened three times straight through and it's still enjoyable.

Taylor Swift - Style - http://youtu.be/mST7sj1Lbzw

Tonight DJ DJ and I will be seeing "The Mark of Cain" play at the Metro. The last time I was at this venue was to the "Rollins Band" supported by "The Hard-Ons". That's a tough act to follow but I have nothing but confidence in TMOC. They were on the same flight from Adelaide as I was. There was an opportunity for a fanboy moment but I figured the last thing they needed was me hassling them.

The Mark of Cain - Pointman (live) - http://youtu.be/Kp0if5O19T4

Chief has sent in a request this week. If you've been following the news coming out of New Zealand over the last few days then his choice will make perfect sense...

AC/DC - Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap - http://youtu.be/yriW9uX1t0g

I spoke to someone yesterday who told me an interesting Rolling Stones story (the Stones are in the country at the moment if you didn't notice). The person in question was on a flight and had scored an upgrade to 1st Class. Also in the cabin was none other than Mick Jagger and some of his entourage. Mick kept to himself but at some late hour when the teller of the tale got up to stretch his legs he discovered Mick at the end of the cabin doing a series of exercises. Not even a plane flight can stop Mick's routine.

Mick Jagger - Sweet Thing - http://youtu.be/nXZUr3v6gNo

I was in a guitar shop today. But not for long. I lasted until I heard the owner advising someone that a guitar with humbucking pickups was only good for heavy metal music. Let's hope no-one has told BB King, Chuck Berry or Robbie Krieger. What a twit. Here's some humbucking goodness for you...beautiful smooth tone.

Robben Ford - Born Under A Bad Sign - http://youtu.be/Gx6ztc8wbWk

I hope many of you heard, saw or have read Noel Pearson's speech given at Gough Whitlam's funeral. There's certainly a lot of food for thought in there. Look it up.

Chief and I went to see the new film about Jimi Hendrix earlier this week. It's about his life from being discovered by Chas Chandler just up until he goes off to play Monterey. Jimi's estate didn't let the producers use any original music which is a shame. But it's probably to do with the warts and all portrayal of the guitar legend. I thought the movie was pretty good really. Andre Benjamin does a great job as Jimi and is convincing as a left handed guitar player. Kudos to him as well, he had to learn to play the "wrong" way round for the film. I was sad not to hear "Hey Joe" since Jimi didn't write it but there were a stack of other good moments. Can't say the film made me harbour any ambition at all to live in London however. This song featured a lot in the film and it was one of the first tunes Hendrix played that I connected with.

Jimi Hendrix - Killing Floor (live at Monterey) - http://youtu.be/YVUSiTfrty0

By now I'd expected to be riding a shiny new Cervelo bicycle. But it seems that it isn't to be. The dealership in Canberra has changed and they can't fill my order. Aaaarrrggghhh! So now I get to think long and hard about what to ride. I'd prefer to buy locally of course. My current, old, Cervelo is very cool I reckon and I'm not sure I want to change brands...or do I? Time to do some research but I need to get a move on as my bike is on its last legs.

In band news, if you're planning on coming to the New Year's Eve show then you need to reserve tickets ASAP. I hear that they are a hot item! Book now, they don't take your money until the gig. Seven courses and some rock and roll. What more could you want?

Here's a band I really don't like a lot but I have to admit that this is a great track. They can (or could) rock when they wanted to. The problem was that too often, they didn't!

Powderfinger - Stumblin' - http://youtu.be/h_5f8g9Pp54

Rock on brothers and sisters,

Rob

"Look out, Mama,
There's a white boat comin' up the river" - Neil Young, "Powderfinger" (1979)




Friday, October 31, 2014

Song of the Week #321

In times gone by people sent postcards so that their friends knew that they were having a good time on holidays. I suppose if it was a super long break then maybe even a letter. Of course in more recent times you knew when your friends were away from their either increased or non-existent Facebook posts. But now there's an even newer method of tracking your mates escapades... I was riding home last night and pulled up at the lights behind to other cyclists. One said to the other, "oh, I knew you were on holiday in Bali because all of your Strava runs kept popping up". So there you have it. Stalk your friends now by using their online fitness data! Well I thought it was amusing at least.

Barker - Heard So Much About You - http://youtu.be/cul1VVUBVhI

Speaking of fitness, the Noosa Triathlon Festival is on this weekend. Best of luck to all from WMGS Racing who are competing and also to Big Al who's having a dig as well.

Olivia Newton John - Physical - http://youtu.be/vWz9VN40nCA

My daughter got the sack from one of her casual jobs this week. She's been working at this particular establishment for over a year without an issue. As a result it was quite a shock. Now, I fully respect the right of any employer to hire and fire with due regard to their business. But to send a kid a text message during school time with that kind of news is just plain gutless. If anyone is looking for staff, with experience, to work in a cafe part time (especially over the holidays) please let me know. This setback has put a bit of a hole in Z's plans for 2015 and that's a shame. Especially when the first 6 months is all volunteer work and she's paying her own way. If you want to know which cafe to boycott get in contact with me.

Pink Floyd - The Show Must Go On (live) - http://youtu.be/idPfIIsB4Xk


On Tuesday night Angus and I had a little trip in an ambulance and then 7 hours at the hospital. He certainly enjoyed the morphine and the green whistle as various medical people attempted to work out what he'd done to his knee. Turns out it is a small tear in the meniscus and it won't need surgery. Our time at the hospital was a real eye-opener. We saw the best and worst of the human experience including a delusional man kicking and punching doctors and nurses while they tried to help him, a baby about to be taken away by Child Services, various foreign objects stuck in people's bodies (knives, glass) and a whole heap of bodily functions best left not described. Among all of this Angus (drugged to the eyeballs) dispensed fashion tips to one and all and dozed off at amusing moments mid-sentence.

David Bowie - Fashion (live) - http://youtu.be/KDrhwuaaG6Y

Love/Hate - Why Do You Think They Call It Dope? - http://youtu.be/HtAxLs7nmiU

Sad news this week was the death of blues musician Jack Bruce. Best known for his work with the legendary trio Cream along with Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton, Bruce, a Scotsman, was only 71. I like the fact that he was told to leave the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama when they found out he was playing jazz music as well as cello and music composition! Evil stuff that jazz.

Cream - White Room (live) - http://youtu.be/uKyGn_uxkPU

So how do you tell if a band is serious or not? A reasonable amount has been made for years and years about the links of various forms of music with the occult. Ozzy Osbourne has said in the past that the whole cross imagery on early Black Sabbath stuff was purely to get noticed. I guess we'll never know if Robert Johnson made a pact with the Devil either but the stories are out there. Lately, Swedish doom/pop/metal band Ghost have caused a bit of a stir with their lyrics and their outfits. It's hardly subtle but I've always been fairly sure that it's all a big joke to them. Yesterday when they announced a partnership with a watchmaker to produce a Ghost watch my thoughts were confirmed. It's all schtick. Lucky then can play. Check out the watches at http://www.vannenwatches.com/ if that's your thing.

Ghost - Year Zero (live) - http://youtu.be/d8RH8RO0eR0

To me Ghost are about equal parts KISS, ABBA and Mercyful Fate. Try these three tracks and see what you think.


ABBA - Does Your Mother Know - http://youtu.be/WkL7Fkigfn8

Mercyful Fate - Evil - http://youtu.be/nZ6s89QWYjc

I'm going to sign off with a couple of friends for my mate Garry. It's just over two years since he died and he's sorely missed. We played the first song in his honour at a gig not long after his death, I'm sure he's approve. And the second song is one from a band he insisted I listen to. RIP my friend.

Johnny Cash - I Won't Back Down - http://youtu.be/N8i5NLyXZdc

Dr Feelgood - Down At The Doctors - http://youtu.be/uvRNRiA_h34

Rock on brothers and sisters,

Rob

"10 million dollars on a losing campaign
20 million starving and writhing in pain
big strong people unwilling to give
small in vision and perspective
one in five kids below the poverty line
one population runnin' out of time" - Bad Religion, Punk Rock Song

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Song of the Week #320

STOP PRESS: I waited until after Friday night's gig by The Church to finalise this week's episode. That turned out to be an excellent decision. The gig report is first because, well, it was rather amazing.

The Church are an iconic band. They've been around for about 35 years and have a string of hits, excellent albums and what I would imagine is a decent following. As a result, what ensued last night on the first gig of their tour was probably a shock for most punters and the band too. 

The Church - Pride Before A Fall - http://youtu.be/tuq4KUWtjD4

It didn't start well. They were late, very late. During the gig we found out that the tour bus had broken down but whilst waiting around for over 90 minutes with nothing happening most people were less than happy. The crowd for The Church was hardly young, spry, keen to drink beers, listen to too loud music and wait. Finally the soundcheck was piped into the area we were waiting in...how exciting. And then there was the support band. I'm not old enough to know who Canberra band, The Young Doctors are or were (I do remember the TV show) and it doesn't really matter. They were dreadful. Bing and I weren't sure if they were joking or serious for the first few songs. The frontman (the rest of the band were seated and acoustic) was disinterested at best and read all his lyrics from sheets on the floor. He did sound like Dave Faulkner from Hoodoo Gurus though and that was the only good thing I have to say. Harsh perhaps but that's the way I read the performance. Uninspired.

The crowd was small which makes me wonder if the ANU (a standing only venue) was a good choice. I'm 43 years old and there weren't many people there younger than me. The band, including ex-Powderfinger guitarist Ian Haug played their new album in its entirety. The songs were good, the band were a bit loose (first show of the tour) but it wasn't terrible by any stretch of the imagination. Musically there was a lot going on. At one stage they had a false start for a song and the crowd was taught to count to 7 in order to help them out. 

Peter Koppes and Ian Haug both played an interesting range of guitars. Peter's Gretsch Malcolm Young Signature axe was my pick for the night. I had the chance to buy one years ago and baulked at the price. It would've been money well spent. In the press Steve Kilbey described Haug's guitar work as bringing "crunch and muscle" to the band's sound. I didn't hear that at all. What I heard was an awesome array of atmospheric tones and tasty lead work. Koppes was the crunchy one last night at least.

Which brings me to the setlist. Certainly it was no secret that The Church planned to play their brand new album. But I'm not sure that most of the crowd could believe that they did the whole thing start to finish and then ended the show. No hits, no back catalogue moments, nothing. As Kilbey introduced the penultimate song he apologised for being late. A punter shouted out that he should apologise, "for sucking". At this stage Koppes and Kilbey invited the young man to the front to voice his opinion; which he did. What happened next was poor. Experienced bands should have a thick skin and a couple of witty lines to deal with hecklers. But to invite the man to the front, give him his say and then call him "four-eyes", describe his girlfriend as "fat" and tell him to f-off was pretty awful. The band played the last song, came back for a one song encore and that was it.

I might purchase the new album. There were enough good moments last night to keep me interested. But there were also a lot of times when it felt like we were listening to U2 jamming on their newer stuff. Perhaps the edge to the songs (great pun eh?) wasn't quite there yet being early in the tour.

I read an interview with another band who admitted that trotting out their hits could be tedious every now and then. What they did realise however was the the punters usually only get to see the band on that one show and they're coming along on the strength of the songs they know. I liked the idea of hearing the whole new album in order, it's obviously a group of songs meant to intertwine. But seriously, apart from a few people who were a bit vocal, 99% of the crowd were into the music and probably deserved better than a tantrum and the lack of a decent encore.

Regurgitator - I Like Your Old Stuff Better Than Your New Stuff - http://youtu.be/Iun4shGD740

It's been a very, very frustrating week at World Wide Woozle Global HQ. After taking my new MESA guitar amplifier on tour and then spending ages and ages afterwards trying to get it to sound the way I wanted I have finally admitted defeat. With a heavy heart I threw some advertisements for it all over the Internets. After being targeted by the standard scammers and then by people too rude to let me know they weren't interested (after they asked a thousand questions) I finally got a buyer. Or so I thought. Although a fair price has been agreed upon I've been stood up more than once with regards to the actual payment of funds and therefore handing over of the amplifier. The jury is still out as to whether or not this guy will finally show up...but I'm not holding my breath. I think I'll just start collecting amplifiers. I've got a big garage after all! Of course, the funniest thing, or is it ironic, is that I had a jam with Chief last weekend and got the amp sounding quite reasonable. Aaaarrrggghhh!

If you're interested, this next track has the rhythm sound I'm looking for. The introduction has tasty guitars that growl without the icepick in the brain harsh edge.

Choirboys - Boys Will Be Boys - http://youtu.be/_jZdirBDAXE

You know, if that's the only thing worrying me then I'm OK I reckon.

I was reminded the other day about band logos. When I was a teenager all the best bands had cool album covers adorned with their name in a logo. AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Van Halen, KISS, Stryper, Motley Crue; all my favourites had a graphic design that kids everywhere drew all over schoolbags and exercise books. I was rather proficient at the Iron Maiden one which is quite amusing now as my drawing skills are fairly terrible.

Run DMC - Mary Mary - http://youtu.be/QgmyVLheqkQ

Do you know what a fuzz pedal is? No, it's not a hirsute hipster on a single speed bike, it's for a guitar. Probably the first kind of pedal ever made they are designed to mimic the sound of a torn speaker with a really loud tube amplifier going through it. Think The Kinks "You Really Got Me" and you're there. Hendrix used one, Dave Gilmour (Pink Floyd) does too and of course a thousand other players. You can use one to make your guitar sound harsh or to push the single note sound to a smooth almost violin-esque sound. I'm getting one. And there's not another like it. John from JK Pedals in Melbourne fixed up my old original Boss Turbo Overdrive pedal a while ago. My Dad and I bought that in early 1988 so it was probably due for some love. But John also build pedals so I put in an order for a "Luxe Lady" fuzz box. He did some tweaks for me to get the kind of sound I'm looking for. Well, the pedal is in the mail and I look forward to unleashing sonic nirvana next week. I'm going to use it mainly to thicken up my lead tone so you'll hear it in action if you come to the New Year's Eve show. Loud and proud.

Joe Bonamassa - Just Got Paid - http://youtu.be/wSQwj3s8Y4s

Speaking of the New Year's Eve show; all the details are on the band's Facebook page here. Funnily enough the show is 31st December and goes into the new year. You'll get 7 courses of food and a band rocking out three sets of all-Australian rock and roll. Who knows, I may have a new amp by then. Book early to avoid disappointment. I know one punter who has already taken 23 seats.

Powderfinger - Baby I've Got You (On My Mind) - http://youtu.be/nTFNm7StOR4

Lastly, I've been right into the first Van Halen album all week. Released in 1978 it's considered by fans and critics as a true classic. I was introduced the album by a friend who used to give me a ride to school once in a while in his old Ford Escort. Van Halen was always in the cassette deck. It's an album with everything really for a rock band. Peerless guitar work, vocals with attitude, a solid bass line and fantastic drumming. No-one else sounded like VH and no one ever has. Their career has been quite a train wreck but there's no doubting their musicianship and songwriting skills.

Van Halen - Runnin' With The Devil - http://youtu.be/cqoybLnrEjw

Van Halen - I'm The One - http://youtu.be/kzkXGIRaxcI

Have a good weekend folks. 

Rob

"I'm gonna be a rock 'n' roll star
Gotta groove from night to day
Gotta blow my honey jar, yeah
Gotta blow my blues away" - Diamond Head, It's Electric, 1980

Friday, October 17, 2014

Song of the Week #319

This week's episode is loud. Perhaps all of the tunes aren't loud in the sense of being recorded or requiring extreme volume, but they're loud to me.

Some weeks I just want to lose myself in music for even 5 minutes to drown out the outside world. To allow the sound of a wall of guitars to knock me over and then caress me lovingly with velvet fingers. To let the kick drum's punch get me right between the ribs; you feel it invading your chest cavity rather than hearing the sound. And for the singer to weave his or her way into my consciousness with lyrics that matter and delivery that is genuine and sincere. Do you feel it brothers and sisters?

Neil Young - Throw Your Hatred Down (live 1998) - http://youtu.be/fdOztNIYybE

There's probably something perverse about me writing about my love of a wall of guitars and then playing an acoustic track. But those machines have been killing fascists for a long time now.

Woody Guthrie - All You Fascists Bound To Lose - http://youtu.be/VwcKwGS7OSQ

BB King says in the film "Rattle & Hum" that Bono "writes mighty heavy lyrics for one so young". You can feel free to argue whether or not Bono thinks he is God but there's no doubting that this was a cracker of a song. Gifting it to BB King was inspired; he's the man who makes this track almost perfect.

U2 & BB King - When Love Comes To Town (live 1989 Australia) - http://youtu.be/eT3rXNPGFOM

If anyone has a lazy $4,000 I can have just click on this link and buy me one of BB's guitars. Beautiful, classic and totally cool.

James Osterberg Jr. has popped up on radio here in Australia (did you see what I did there?!) playing tunes and talking about them. For a man with a relatively light singing voice he surely has a deep drawling speaking voice. I guess he sings down low in "Candy" though. That's a great tune but it doesn't fit my theme this week. His shows are worth checking out online if you can access them. Try the Double J website as a starting point. Or just Google his John Peel lecture.

KISS - I Love It Loud - http://youtu.be/LMcDg2HwOnM

Often when people have a discussion with me about Heavy Metal music they start off with bands like Motorhead, Iron Maiden or Judas Priest. They're the big ones. Metallica too I guess. But these bands aren't really all that heavy. Sure, they're loud, but they're more an extension of rock 'n' roll with more volume and at times a faster tempo. Metal is splintered into any number of sub-genres and the heaviness is relative. Are de-tuned guitars, bass that'll make your insides gurgle and guttural vocals any heavier than Alice Cooper strutting his shock rock shtick covered in fake blood and wearing a straitjacket? Or are the primal rhythms of Sepultura heavier than the insanely dark metal that comes out of Scandanavia? It's all about perception. The dark metal from the North usually just makes me laugh, Alice is a hoot and the de-tuned gurgling wears thin after about one or two songs. Sepultura however mix a lot of it up in a blend of music that is heavy in more ways than one. See what you think...

Sepultura - Rattamahatta (live) - http://youtu.be/6jGiSyH1EeU

There are two shows I'll be checking out in the coming weeks. First is "The Church" here in Canberra next Friday and then not long after that I'm in Sydney with DJ DJ to see "The Mark of Cain". Both different, only one heavy. 

The Mark of Cain - Lockdown - http://youtu.be/iJVVm9OsiwU

Steve Earle sings really, really heavy tunes. "Jerusalem" and "Rich Man's War" almost always stop me dead in my tracks. He was heavily influenced by this next artist. I was in a record shop last wekend (one with records...real ones) and this was playing on the turntable...wow!

Townes Van Zandt - Cocaine Blues - http://youtu.be/hjJePtPVquM

That's the end this week. This music fan needs some sleep after a rather huge week. Kisses to you hop-along!

DJ Rob

"I'm a loadin', loadin' my war machine
I'm contributing to the system, the break down scheme
I'm a shuttin' down, I'm shuttin' down your greed for green baby" - Kyuss - Green Machine