Sunday, May 8, 2016

Why Stuff Matters To Me #001

After 400 weekly blog installments I was tired of the whole thing. It was becoming obvious that a lot of readers were ignoring what I wrote or skipping all of the songs and to me, that defeated the purpose of what I was doing. I've always had a lot to say and I wanted to continue writing. Not in an academic or scholarly sense, but as an outlet. In 2015 I spied a book in a bookshop (remember those?) called "Why AC/DC Matters". I don't need anyone to tell me why but the title got me thinking. Why does stuff matter to me? And by stuff I don't mean material possessions. My blog had been an attempt to share my passion for a wide range of music, why I wanted to listen to it and to encourage others to open their ears as well. Although it mutated into a diary, training log and personal expose at times, music was the glue holding it all together. The upshot is that I am starting a new series. Some of the topics have been in my head for ages and some are brand new. With a nod to the author of the above book, which I will read at some stage, welcome to my thoughts about why stuff matters to me. My closest adviser recommends that I keep each piece of writing under 500 words; let's see how I go!

A quick tune before I start…

Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd St Rhythm Band - Express Yourself - https://youtu.be/jW4VZ5J0fNQ

The first thing that matters to me is being yourself. Or more specifically, being myself. It's often a throwaway line for self-help types and I intensely dislike that. To be yourself is difficult. Even though no-one else is like you most of us spend quite a lot of time trying to be something we're not. I always find it incredibly harsh when children are advised "just to be themselves" as they really haven't had time to work it out yet and they need to be allowed a chance to try on a few different skins. Something else to remember is that who you are should continue to develop over time. You shouldn't be afraid to listen to those who might recognise that your current self is worn out. It doesn't have to be anything huge; going bald meant I that I started shaving my head and it feels good not to worry about the shiny patch on the back of my head. I feel like a new person every time I finish with the clippers! Big changes are OK as well. In 2014 when the band went to Gamilaraay Country to play music I knew that I needed to do something better with my life; something with meaning rather than just having a job. Then when Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu and I visited afterwards this cemented my desire to do something different. I was fortunate enough to find a new job with a charity that allows me to work with people to put their lives back on track. As was pointed out to me on Tuesday night, helping is the wrong word but my liberation is caught up in theirs and I'm a much better person for it.

Rollins Band - Illumination - https://youtu.be/n7MZwH24CI8

Saturday, April 30, 2016

World Wide Woozle #400 - so long folks.

Welcome to episode 400. People better at mental arithmetic than me will be able to work out in their heads that I've been writing this blog on a weekly basis for just over 7.5 years. I've decided that now is the time to take a break. For a long time I wrote as a way to mitigate the fact that there was a lot in my work life that I didn't really like. It isn't that I was bad at my job, but spending all day every day working to help people with grievances, personal issues and the like certainly took its toll. It used to be easy to disappear into my writing for a while if work was no fun at all. I'm living outside The Wall now though and it's a good thing.

I think the best way to sign off for a while is with songs that really mean something to me. I doubt there's anything here that I haven't played before but hey, it's my party....

I'll start with the first song I pushed out on an unsuspecting small email group in episode #1. One of my all time favourite performers. In 1991 someone loaned me two LPs by this guy and it changed my way of thinking about music aand life in general overnight. Mixing pop and politics indeed...

Billy Bragg - Walk Away Renee (version) - https://youtu.be/Am9s85pfH8I

In about 1986 a friend recorded two songs from his LPs for me onto cassette. It was before the days of "cassingles" but the tape was one that was used to demonstrate hi-fi gear in shops. One song on each side....these two. And this is still my favourite band.


AC/DC - Back In Black - https://youtu.be/pAgnJDJN4VA

I remember trying to explain once to my Mum why I played heavy music like AC/DC, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. The band that took me from Top 40 tunes to hard rock was Queen. And this is how they did it...always at their best rocking out in full flight.

Queen - Tie Your Mother Down - https://youtu.be/LvB2MnIIdMw

Here's a tune that you might not see coming. Lots of heavy music has that low down "chugging" rhythm guitar sound. I love playing that kind of stuff. Here's where I got my inspiration for it from...check out the start of the song.

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

The first really big concert I saw was Motorhead. DJ DJ and I went along to the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney to see them struggle with technical issues but still put on a show. I also learned the value of earplugs at that gig. It wasn't just the show that was important although the raw power of Motorhead was mindblowing. It was the whole thing; the road trip, the laughs and a weekend away from the everyday.

Motorhead - Angel City - https://youtu.be/K5wmVXQ3V9s

A few years ago I decided to give country music a second chance. I'd become a Johnny Cash devotee and it seemed like a good idea to expand my listening. Sugar coated pseudo country was never going to be my thing so I grabbed a couple pf live DVDs from the specials bin at the record store. As a result I became a fan of both Steve Earle and the Dixie Chicks. Whilst they're both quite different, what I like is that they don't really conform to stereotypes. Both are willing to go their own way. 

Dixie Chicks - Am I The Only One - https://youtu.be/jbwFf-U3l_U

Steve Earle - My Old Friend The Blues - https://youtu.be/HdTvDQnCqrg

I didn't understand this next band when their best album was released. It wasn't until a few years later as my tastes developed that it all made sense to me. I got into them about the same time as Billy Bragg. If you listen to lyrics then it may make sense on some level.

Queensryche - Revolution Calling - https://youtu.be/CNdOsL4Xe7Q

Unless you've been ignoring me for 12 months or have lost the ability to read then you'll understand that I'm a huge Jason Isbell fan. It's great to know that he's having major success now. As a songwriter and a live performer he's really at the top of the tree. It was also pretty cool to watch an hour long video of him talking all about his guitars, amps and associated gear. He does a lot more than walk onto stage and get handed a six-string.

Jason Isbell - Palmetto Rose - https://youtu.be/p63Ylg2kTww

We're almost there folks, only two songs to go. 

Henry Rollins;  power, muscle, music, intellect. The modern day road warrior with a microphone in one hand and a pen in the other. You should read his books, listen to his radio show and check out his music. Movies too these days. Under work ethic in the dictionary it says Henry Rollins.

Rollins Band - Civilized (live) - https://youtu.be/EF5qnwtPKMQ

Lastly, a band that I can't play enough. If one more person realises as a result of my writing that The Proclaimers are so much more than 500 miles I'll be happy. This song never fails to send a shiver down my spine. As our government continues to avoid any semblance of humanity towards refugees this song hits home. We're all immigrants of one kind or another.

The Proclaimers - Scotland's Story - https://youtu.be/K_ekIS9QWSA

That's all folks. Thanks for listening and reading. See you another day.

Rob
Time for one more? Maybe this?


Saturday, April 23, 2016

World Wide Woozle #399

Prince is gone. There's not much else to say. If you've never watched the movie, "Purple Rain" then do yourself a favour and do it now. Lots of media outlets are going on and on about how Prince was a very underrated guitarist. What a load of nonsense. He was celebrated as a six string genius along with his many other talents. The difference with Prince was that he knew when to play his heart out and when to put the guitar down. Check out the ripping guitar solo in this track.

Prince - Bambi (1979) - https://youtu.be/mY1OnKfDJPE

These guys were in town during the week but another rather important event meant that I couldn't attend. I'm glad to hear that my brother got to go last night though. 

The Proclaimers - You Built Me Up - https://youtu.be/l_2g652mAWA

I hear you ask, "what would stop Rob from going to The Proclaimers concert"? The answer is not much, but when it's your son's 18th birthday party on the same night what's a music fan to do? We all survived the party...just.

Beastie Boys - (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party) - https://youtu.be/eBShN8qT4lk

Please don't forget that the band is playing on Tuesday May 3rd at 6pm. This is part of the launch of George's book, "Big Life". You can find out more details about the book here. The show is at Radford College and is open to all. We'll be playing a very loud and energetic set so don't miss out on our first show for 2016! Guitar nerds please feel free to gaze in wonder at the latest addition to my pedal board as detailed last week!

Midnight Oil - Put Down That Weapon (live) - https://youtu.be/Wdf9D_aA77s

For years I've really quite disliked US metal band, Megadeth. I probably can't put my finger on why but as a result I haven't paid much attention to them for the last 15 years. For a number of reasons a few of their tunes slipped onto some of my playlists and I began to listen to them. Right up front I'll tell you that Mustaine's vocal delivery is patchy. Some songs sound great where others sound like he's suffering an intense bout of stomach pain. The guitars are always good however and the rhythms grow on you. I've got a couple of albums here and it's time to delve into their back catalogue I think.

Megadeth - A Tout Le Monde - https://youtu.be/32T882AJHek

It's ANZAC Day on Monday. Time to remember and reflect, not to celebrate. Whilst we remember those who went before us and gave their lives don't forget those who served and are still suffering. Here's a track from last year with the amazing video created by my good friend and former bandmate, DJ SAB.

John Schumann - On Every ANZAC Day - https://youtu.be/bXLL42oCFPI

Finally, a shout out to DJ JD-Bilby who is recovering after a really mountain biking nasty crash. Get well soon!

Have a great weekend and prepare for a big episode next week....#400.

Rob

Guitars are dangerous objects.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

World Wide Woozle #398

Sorry everyone....first up is a potentially boring guitar gear story. Feel free to skip it and go to the music.

In the early 90s I played in my first band here in Canberra. We were called "Mr Walker" and to be frank, it was more fun that almost anything. We played fairly standard bar room rock and roll and had a blast doing it. Looking back now on what we achieved with limited and basic equipment just reminds me that it was all about the music. At the time I read guitar magazines cover to cover as well as repeatedly! They weren't cheap either so you had to make the most of them. Of course, it was the advertising as much as anything else that kept us interested. I was playing my original red Stratocaster copy at the time through a very heavy solid state Crate 160 watt amp. Getting a decent rock and roll sound was a challenge and for a long time I was lucky to have the use of a relatively old Boss overdrive pedal. Then one day I saw a pedal made by British amplifier company Marshall in a guitar shop. It was a no brainer to buy it. I couldn't afford an amplifier with my name on it but the pedal was within my grasp. I didn't like it much sadly and after struggling with it for a few months I sold it for a song. Those pedals in good condition are now pretty expensive and sought after. They also came to prominence as Gary Moore famously used one on his "Still Got The Blues" album (it's pictured clearly on the cover). I got to thinking about the pedal and why I didn't like it at the time. The answer is clear...solid state amplifiers sound a certain way and valve (or tube) amps sound another. Most rock guitarists favour the more organic sound of an overdriven valve amp...me too. I've been playing valve amps for years. It's very common to use an overdrive or distortion pedal to push the amp a little harder to make it sing. That's what the Marshall Guv'nor pedal does best. So a few years ago I started looking around for one at a good price. Impossible. Even old crappy, beaten up ones that may or may not work were going for over $250. Finally, last week, one popped up on an internet forum for a good price. I jumped on it and it's now here....later on today I'll find out how it sounds pushing my tube amplifiers...fingers crossed. And by the way; I had two holy grails of pedals on my list and I've managed to get them both for less than the price that many people are selling one for. Now I can move on to Telecasters! Ha ha!

Gary Moore - Oh Pretty Woman (live 1990) - https://youtu.be/5-WaylsOtDg

DJ Al-eeSun and I were chilling in front of the TV last night when this next song was used in the show we were watching. I haven't played it for a while but it's got that hit quality of being instantly recognisable. The lyrics are fantastic as well.

First Aid Kit - Emmylou (live 2015) - https://youtu.be/Y3TzP-o4vhs

Angus is 18 next week. Where did that time go? 

Chris Cheyney - Birthday (live Beatles cover) - https://youtu.be/K9Pyzo8Hgrk

And for those of you unaware of who Chris Cheyney is well here he is with his regular band The Living End. He's a fantastic rockabilly and punk guitarist and writes songs with a killer hook.

The Living End - All Torn Down (live) - https://youtu.be/GbiCO1y7p7c

I noticed that there's a big Pink Floyd show coming to the Canberra Theatre in June. Given that there's no chance of ever seeing the real thing in the flesh I think that this show may warrant further investigation. Depending on some reviews I could be tempted to go. It's billed as "Pulse" which is one of Floyd's live albums...

Pink Floyd - Learning To Fly (live 1994) - https://youtu.be/bgKYMK0iRnc

This week I've been listening to The Screaming Jets 1992 album Tear of Thought. There are 16 tracks on it and not a dud in there. It's the band's second album and whilst maybe not quite as raw as their first it's proof that playing lots and lots of shows has the potential to make a band grow musically. I'll finish off this week with a few choice cuts from it...

The Screaming Jets - Dream On - https://youtu.be/q17gv8-R2aU

The Screaming Jets - Think - https://youtu.be/xY3sMotit_I

The Screaming Jets - Hard Drugs - https://youtu.be/GZH1Fsyw12o

I've got 10 days to get my Midnight Oil guitar parts all sorted out. I'd say I'm at about 85% at the moment so a few more hours in the garage making a racket should sort it out. There's a lot worse ways to spend your time than playing music.

Def Leppard - Let's Get Rocked - https://youtu.be/BO1Nae_EBvQ

Oh look...the sun has just come out. And there I was thinking that I'd have to ride on wet roads today. It seems not. Goodbye.

Rob

You know you can't resist clicking here...

Saturday, April 9, 2016

World Wide Woozle #397

Episode 397...soon it'll be time to change things up around here...watch this space in a few weeks. Until then stay tuned for the standard range of blethering from yours truly.

Tropical Cyclone Zena passed through the northern parts of Vanuatu this week. Northern Pentecost, where one of our families lives, was hit quite hard; worse than they were impacted by TC Pam. My brother Godden reports that everyone is ok and they have a lot of cleaning up to do now. It's heartbreaking to be sitting at home hearing this.

In other sad news, Merle Haggard died this week at age 79. The story goes that he got into playing music seriously as a prison inmate after seeing Johnny Cash perform at San Quentin Prison in 1958. He went on to be a true superstar with his rough around the edges delivery and songs in contrast to much of the polished and corporate country and western fare.

Merle Haggard - Working Man Blues (live) - https://youtu.be/fbEstJ98TcM

A while ago I stumbled across UK band Lux Lisbon. Like quite a lot of artists these days they are totally self-funded and independent. When they mentioned that they would put their latest release out on vinyl if enough people committed to buying a copy I jumped on board. The record arrived last week and it's great! You can get digital versions too here. If you like bands like The Killers, Duran Duran, Big Country or Florence & The Machine then this should be on your playlist. This one reminds me of King Cannons a bit...

Lux Lisbon - Show The Money - https://youtu.be/769pUebPW2E

Digital radio wins again this week. I head the next song and instantly wrote it's title and artist down in my notebook so that I wouldn't forget it. I think that she sings a little like Chrissie Hynde from The Pretenders but the musical style is different. This track is a bit indie-pop and a bit Sheryl Crow. The bass bubbles along nicely and I like the melody. If anyone out there has any pointers in terms of things from Aimee that I should listen to please feel free to let me know.

Aimee Mann - Freeway - https://youtu.be/TQF5CXV9cos

The band is playing on Tuesday May 3rd to help launch George's new book, "Big Life". As a result I've been rehearsing a few Midnight Oil songs that I haven't played in a while. Absence certainly does make the heart grow fonder. I've been a bit of a guitar rut for a while but running through the set we'll be rocking out with on the night made me feel really good. It's a free show with loads of other cool stuff going on. Rumours that I am on the cover of the book may or may not be true so come along and find out! And yeah....we're still sorry.

Midnight Oil - Best of Both Worlds (live 2009)  - https://youtu.be/YSagT7MLqSU

Apparently the Rolling Stones have recorded some of a new album...interesting...

There you go. Short and to the point.

Rock on,
Rob




Saturday, April 2, 2016

World Wide Woozle #396

Plenty of music this week. Fasten your seatbelt and make sure your speakers or headphones are set to stun.

The Byron Bay Bluesfest is on soon and that means a whole swag of artists are playing shows around the country. Jason Isbell, Vintage Trouble, UB40, City & Colour, Archie Roach, Backsliders, Joe Bonamassa, Shooglenifty and Taj Mahal just to name a select few.

Joe Bonamassa has more live albums that I've had hot breakfasts. There's a ton of studio stuff as well; he's prolific and very successful. Joe is a master technician on the guitar. It always sounds good, he always hits the right notes and the production is first rate. But I've always found it a little restrained and slightly formulaic perhaps. Joe has a new album out called "Blues of Desperation". I had a quick listen because his guitar tone is always so good and I think this is a much, much stronger recording than anything I've heard in the past. This is one of the more energetic tracks...

Joe Bonamassa - Mountain Climbing - https://youtu.be/3qJ8bT3W1D0

Shoogle-who? I hear you say! Shooglenifty probably qualify as Celtic-fusion-electronic-indie-funk and something else too. They've been making good music for just over 25 years out of Edinburgh. More fun that you can poke a haggis at...

Shooglenifty - The Eccentric (live) - https://youtu.be/bkuFaXOKi1o

I've played some Taj Mahal before for you but it never gets old. This is the track that made me search out his music. Anyone who writes a song called "Big Legged Mamas Are Back In Style" has to be worth a listen!

Taj Mahal - Bourgeois Blues - https://youtu.be/-VvfAfwS9k8

Everyone no doubt knows that Ronnie Corbett died during the week. It's amazing how many people watched the show all over the world and enjoyed it's gentle brand of humour. I always thought my Grandma had stolen Ronnie Barker's glasses as they looked the same to me. Hey, I was only a wee boy!

The Two Ronnies - Opening Sketch - https://youtu.be/g5t2A1cfu9E

The Bionic Woman aka DJ Al-ee-sunshineofmylife has come home from hospital. She leaves behind over sharing cleaning staff, hearing aid hiding inmates...er...patients and of course everyone's favourite, Bob the geriatric nudist. It's good to have her home. Click here for an appropriate tune. Or perhaps here.

And for all of you who suffered yesterday from a range of April Fool's pranks here's a slab of classic rock.

Def Leppard - Foolin' - https://youtu.be/jACrmwTsi08

And now I'm retreating to the lounge for a post-ride snooze. It's a hard life.

Rob



Friday, March 25, 2016

World Wide Woozle #395

The fact that I'm typing this blog entry should be proof enough that I survived last Sunday's hell-ride. DJ Hamertime did as well. It was the hardest ride I think I've ever done. 70km downhill and then 100km up and into the wind. There were a couple of moments around the 130km mark where I thought my body was going to give up but I managed to push through.

DJ Al-ee-sunshine-of-my-life is still hanging out in the hospital after getting a new hip to match her titanium knee. Thankfully the drug induced haze of the last few days seems to have passed and she's up to things like constructing full sentences. We're hoping that she'll be home early next week and that the mobility continues to improve.

Johnny Diesel & The Injectors - Comin' Home - https://youtu.be/E9wn7AmCgR4

I ended up not staying up all night to order some vinyl from American stoner band Ancient Warlocks. The pricing was OK but the ripoff that is international postage was just too much to stomach. Thankfully the band has the LP hosted on bandcamp.com and I can purchase a digital version. I know it's not the same as having the record but it's good enough for now. Have a listen to the whole thing if you like here - very cool indeed.

Here's a song from Savatage. They've been around since the late 70s but their most successful period was about 87-93. There's the precursor of symphonic metal in their sound as well as a heavy bottom end in the recordings that would suggest that they were ahead of their time in that respect. For fans of Queensryche, Dream Theater and Dio I think. 

Savatage - Edge of Thorns - https://youtu.be/4VOzdcCy1Vg

I mentioned Iggy Pop's new album "Post Pop Depression" recently. I've now listened to the whole thing through a few times and I'm hooked. It's Iggy at his best doing almost Leonard Cohen-esque delivery in places with a great backing band courtesy of Josh Homme and friends. If you wanted another "Raw Power" or even an obvious follow up to his last album then you'll be disappointed. If you're prepared to open your ears and actually listen then you're in for a real treat. 

Rumours abound that Axl Rose from Guns n' Roses will sing live for AC/DC. Please.....NO! Watch some live footage of Axl singing any time in the last few years and you'll understand why. Here's an alternative pick for a singer to finish the tour....

Airbourne - Back In The Game - https://youtu.be/FlPalDkWsuA

This week the long awaited live CD/DVD from US pop-punksters The Dollyrots arrived. This was a release that was crowdfunded and I paid my money up front to help them along. The DVD is tons of fun and it looks like a great night was had by all at the show. Three people make a helluva racket! Check out Luis on the Joan Jett guitar...just like the one I used to have!

The Dollyrots - Come And Get It (live) - https://youtu.be/pCUbtpWlelY

Jason Isbell is about to be in the country and sadly I won't get to see him play. No matter as I'm sure he'll be back. If you are in a position to get to one of his shows then do everything you can to get there. I really hope that there's a live album coming before too long. It's great to watch all the footage of him playing to be reminded that he and his band put on great shows.

Jason Isbell - Something More Than Free (live) - https://youtu.be/i_L2sXQYSkc

That'll do....I've got to get back to the rehab ward. Thanks to DJ DJ for providing me with some challenging listening. I'll report back from the wastelands of experimental rock!

Rob

Here's one that GnR stole from the Tatts...we're stealing it back...click here