Monday, September 26, 2016

World Wide Woozle #402

I'm still here. Turn this up.

Soundgarden - Been Away Too Long -

Billy Bragg has a new album called "Shine A Light". The songs are those of the American railroad. A couple of listens in and I'm thinking it's a bit sedate but it may yet grow on me. The concept is good and the songs well chosen so maybe it just needs a little time. They couldn't top this effort though....

Emmylou Harris - Hobo's Lullaby -

Hellsingland Underground are a Swedish rock band I know absolutely nothing about other than I heard one song and had to hear more. If you like The Black Crowes, Little Feat or Lynyrd Skynyrd then this is worth a listen. Great guitars. What IS going on in Sweden??

Hellsingland Underground - As Dreams Go By -

Unlike the UK we'll stay in Europe for a few minutes longer. In Denmark to be precise where we find a rather fine band by the name of Volbeat. Their music mixes up classic rock, metal, rockabilly and probably some Elvis as well. From what I've read it seems that their music has become slightly more commercial as they've developed. I'm jumping in with the latest album and therefore no emotional baggage related to their previous releases. I like it because the singer can really sing, the beat is good and the guitars are crunchier than a Granola suite. From an album with the great title "Seal the deal and let's boogie"...

Volbeat - The Bliss -

Why not pause here for a quick trip back to Sweden and one of the greatest cover versions I've ever heard. Here's Ghost (or Ghost BC depending on where you live) from their brand new EP, "Popestar" with a spooky version of a Eurythmics classic. This was released just over a week ago and is simply brilliant. Someone who knows how music actually works will be able to explain how they've used minor keys and what I imagine are flatted 5ths to make this sound evil and spooky. I've probably got that wrong but I heard Kerry King from Slayer talking about it once.

Ghost BC - Missionary Man -

Last week we had The Beatles. This week it's Elvis. I've been listening to the recently released CD set, "Way Down In The Jungle Room". This is two CDs worth of material recorded by The King at his home. There are a range of outtakes, demos and fully fledged tracks and it's quite diverse. I noticed today in the record shop that the Elvis Presley estate has been busy with legacy releases. More for me to check out. Long live The King!

Elvis Presley - Way Down (take 2) -

I saw Iggy Pop's latest album, "Post Pop Depression" selling for only $10 today in the store. In my opinion this is a really strong album and the band he has behind him is basically Queens of The Stone Age. I guess they were either overstocked or the rest of the music buying public doesn't agree with me. I now realise that I didn't go back and pick it up after I was finished looking for other stuff (that I couldn't find). I really need a better record store. The independent one I usually frequent has stopped answering emails so I can't be bothered with them if they are lazy. I can get my fix via eBay and Spotify but flicking through racks of CDs and records is a lot of fun.

Roxette are a great band. I've seen them live and it remains one of the best shows I've ever been too. Per Gessle has a million classic guitars and he can play them to boot. One of his signature sounds involves a shimmering, slightly overdriven guitar and that's one of the reasons I love my tremolo pedal. Here's an alternate version of a song that should've got a lot more radio play.

Roxette - Cinnamon Street -

Lastly this week, something that shocked me. It's rare that I hear an album for the first time and find myself completely blown away. I can list the records that have had that effect on me on just one hand. If you're interested then here they are linked to a track from each one:

The album that seriously turned my head this week is the 1988 self-titled debut release from Danzig. Singer (and songwriter) Glenn Danzig was in the horror punk band The Misfits. Although they are well regarded and an important group in the story of music in general, they never really caught my ear. As a result I suppose I let Danzig (the band) just go through to the goalkeeper without so much as a second thought. Even when Metallica covered a few Misfits tunes quite well I still wasn't interested. Last week the great musical oracle called Spotify that keeps insisting that I should listen to Phil Collins (not happening) popped Danzig up on the "Discovery" playlist. Not even realising what was playing I found my toes tapping and my head nodding. To be quite honest, I thought I was listening to an outtake from The Cult's "Electric" album. When I found out that the track was from Danzig I cued up the entire set and the rest is history. It's no coincidence that "Danzig" the album is produced by Rick Rubin. So is "Electric" and the Johnny Cash LP referenced above. This one has the dry AC/DC guitar/drum sound which, when coupled with Glenn Danzig's vocal delivery style (Morrison meets Presley meets Astbury) and a rhythm section that understands the middle ground between Sabbath and bluesy swagger rock, is simply a rock and roll treat.

Danzig - Twist of Cain -

How's that for a week of music? Thanks for the few 'welcome back' notes that were sent through; I really do appreciate them. Tune in next time for more ramblings and hopefully a tune that'll make you sit up and take notice.


I like songs about real life. Like this.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

World Wide Woozle episode #401 (Return of the Woozle)

I'm back. Apologies in advance!

Addiction is a difficult thing. Drugs, drink, reality TV, KFC...they all contain some kind of chemical that makes you crave them fortnightly or even more often. My addictions are different in that from the outside anyway they seem healthy. Guitars, music and bikes; what could possibly go wrong?

A while ago now I stopped my weekly blog. 400 episodes was enough. The pressure I felt to have something to say and tunes to share meant that it was no longer fun. In the last few days I've got the itch to write again. Maybe it's the fact that there are so many new pieces of music that I'm enjoying? Maybe it's that I'm enthused by having a new shiny piece of technology to type on rather than the steam powered devices I've been curating for a while now? Then there's always the chance that I just have a big mouth and instead of posting random things on Facebook and Twitter I can get them down in a more detailed manner here. The reality is that it's a mix of all of these reasons and more.

Let's start where it all began for a lot of people and that's with The Beatles. Their only official live album "The Beatles at The Hollywood Bowl" was released in 1977 from concert recordings made in '65 and '66. This album has been remixed, remastered, repackaged and probably other things beginning with 're' as well. It sounds amazing and comes at the same time as the Ron Howard film about the band's touring years. It was only released a few days ago so I've only listened using Spotify but it's a lot of fun. Beatles fans should lap it up as the clarity is so much better than the '77 version and there are extra tracks as well. I'm not a hardcore Beatles nut but it's hard to fault this offering. Here's some footage released as a promo...

The Beatles - Boys (live) - 

Concert ticket prices continue to climb here. I was excited at the thought of seeing almost all of the classic Guns 'n' Roses lineup in concert in Sydney next year. $173 for quite average seats turned me right off the idea though. I'm sure they'll be good but for that money I just can't justify it. Let's just hope they don't keep punters waiting for hours and hours before they hit the stage. 

Just as I was feeling a bit low about the Gunners ticket prices along came a band that I like a lot more with an unexpected tour and a price that is just manageable. The Cult. Woo hoo! Their '86 album, "Electric", is one of my all time favourites and so, in November I'll be heading to see them with a couple of former bandmates who are probably even bigger fans of the band than me! The Cult have a new album, "Hidden City" for me to listen to as well. I bought this next track when I was 16 on a 45 single on the strength of the cover art and was an instant convert. 

The Cult - Love Removal Machine - 

Amanda Shires is an American musician and singer. I was introduced to her music as she is married to Jason Isbell and plays and sings with him. Amanda also has a succesful solo career and a new album, "My Piece of Land". I imagine that if you like artists such as Emmylou Harris that this might be for you but it's much more and it's all Amanda's. The cover photo is superb as well; a simple, almost candid, portrait sans makeup.

Amanda Shires - Slippin' - 

Sabaton are from Sweden and are one of the best power-metal bands around. From the footage I've viewed they really know how to put on a live show. Musically it's heavy but not growl and detune rather a melodic and energetic version of heavy rock. DJ McG showed me the way to Sabaton a few years ago and I've gone on to purchase quite a few of their albums. If you like fist pumping metal then this is for you. Their new album is called, "The Last Stand".

Sabaton - Sparta -

The Ruts (or Ruts DC) have been around since 1977 playing their own style of punk rock. They have an obvious reggae influence which is often present in punk but The Ruts always had a swing and swagger that set them apart in my opinion. Well, they're back with a new album, "Music Must Destroy", and a couple of singles one of which features Henry Rollins. Here's one of their old songs and one of the new ones as well. Definitely an album I plan to purchase.

The Ruts - Something That I Said -

Ruts DC - Psychic Attack - 

Last night I played a gig with the band that signals the end of an era. We billed the gig as, "Last Chance for Oils" as it was to be our last show doing the Midnight Oil tribute. New songs were added to the setlist and the pressure to get them right was on! Indeed Tim and I spent Friday night in my garage sorting out last minute bits and pieces for a number of tunes. After years of working to get it right I think that I can stop looking for guitar pedals. The combination of the old Marshall Guv'nor pedal and an even older Ibanez Chorus was, and will remain the mainstay of my sound along with the trusty Strat. The rest is window dressing. Anyway, the gig was fantastic, the crowd as they say "went off" and we were left completely worn out in the best possible way. It's been a fun ride playing such great music for a few years and even though we've played other stuff along the way the Oils music has been a defining part of us for quite a while. Who knows what's coming next?

Midnight Oil - Truganini - 

That's probably enough for this instalment. I've got more to say but I'll leave something fermenting in the tank for next time. I haven't told you about Zoe and I returning to Vanuatu, new employment in my family, I haven't said anything vaguely political and there's a heap more including other music that I'm enjoying. I'm not promising a weekly missive but I have a feeling that I'm back.

Let me know if you want off the train and I'll quietly remove you from the mailing list.


Should we still have a final track? Why not. Here it is.

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 -

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 -

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) -

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 -

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 -

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? -

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 -

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 -

Steve Earle - My Old Friend The Blues -

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 -

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 -

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) -

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 -

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

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) -

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 -

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) -

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) -

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 -

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 -

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.


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 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) -

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) -

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

Chris Cheyney - Birthday (live Beatles cover) -

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) -

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) -

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 -

The Screaming Jets - Think -

The Screaming Jets - Hard Drugs -

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 -

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.


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 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) -

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 -

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 -

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)  -

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

There you go. Short and to the point.

Rock on,