Friday, October 6, 2017

World Wide Woozle episode #426

Anyone whose read this blog for a while would hardly be surprised that I'm going to write about Tom Petty. His death this week has hit me hard but maybe not for reasons that are immediately obvious.

There is no doubting Tom's place as a legendary rock 'n' roll artist. Album sales and public profile point clearly to these facts. From hit records with his band The Heartbreakers, a stint with them as Bob Dylan's live backing band, solo success, some amazing collaborations and an extensive discography you could pretty much say that he did it all.

I got interested in Tom Petty initially as a result of the Travelling Wilburys so I guess I was a bit late to the party. In 1988 I was in my final year at High School and the Wilburys were huge everywhere but especially in Australia. Their first album went to 11 in the UK and 14 in the USA but was number 1 on the charts here. It was an album that had something for everyone. Tom for the rock fans, Dylan for the folkies, Roy Orbison for those stuck in the 60s, Jeff Lynne for lovers of amazing melody and sunglasses and of course George Harrison. 

The Travelling Wilburys - Last Night - https://youtu.be/lX4JXUNbXZs

Tom followed this up with the sublime Full Moon Fever LP which my Dad bought for me on the strength of the Wilburys. There's a bit of solo rhythm guitar in Free Fallin' that may just be the best guitar tone ever This has always been a record that makes me feel good.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (live 1991) - Love Is A Long Road - https://youtu.be/qOpuB5aSVF4

I guess I was pretty happy with these two albums for a few years and then, in 1997, I met my mate Garry Douglas. Garry was a huge Tom Petty fan and over the period of a few years got me right into his earlier stuff as well as more recent solo releases. We talked about Tom's music via email for years. If you've been reading my blog for a few years you'll know that Garry sadly died a while ago. One of the last things he did was to see Tom Petty live in London, email me a few pictures and send me a tour t-shirt. Not long later he was dead. I had a gig with George and Chris very soon after this and we played this song as my tribute to Garry. It's cliched but I love it and it became a staple in our live set. Who's that on drums in the video even though he didn't actually play on the record? And surely you can spot a couple of Wilburys as well.

Tom Petty - I Won't Back Down - https://youtu.be/nvlTJrNJ5lA

Garry didn't get me into that song though, Johnny Cash did. It's on his album from 2000 called "American III : Solitary Man". Tom's on the track singing backing vox. Petty and The Heartbreakers were the backing band for Cash's previous release, "Unchained" in 1996. It's my opinion that this next song is quite possibly the best cover version of all time. It also started an obsession for me with the music of Johnny Cash.

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

In 2005 I had a rough time and music helped me through in many ways. I spent a lot of time watching live concert DVDs and Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers live at the Fillmore was right at the top of my list (along with Steve Earle, The Dixie Chicks and Iron Maiden). The first song on the DVD is so punchy, so energetic and played with such vigour that it draws you in for the whole show. If you could wear out a DVD then this one would be long gone. I'm just sorry that I can't find the video footage online to share with you. Come and visit sometime and we can watch it over and over!

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers (live 1997) - Jammin' Me - https://youtu.be/juY2DAL-UGE

Whether it's old or new stuff, solo or with the Heartbreakers or the Wilburys there's no doubt to me that Tom was amazing. He had a knack of wearing his influences on his sleeve without simply copying them (unless he wanted to). Watch some live footage and you'll see a guy who genuinely loved playing his music right up until the end. 

There is a veritable goldmine in the Tom Petty discography so get out there and discover it for yourself.

Tom Petty - Saving Grace (2006) - https://youtu.be/YtJ8PFMEQjo

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers - Red River (2014)  - https://youtu.be/Qv3oaDX9ikY

I'm going to finish with the last two songs that Tom played live. It was on September 25th this year and he finished his show at the Hollywood Bowl with a to song encore. You can find footage of the actual show online if you like but I'm really not sure I'm ready for it.

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers - You Wreck Me (live) - https://youtu.be/e25p0Y3Vd38

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers - American Girl (live 1978) - https://youtu.be/YS3xOmI1Plk

Thanks Tom, your music meant a lot to me and it always will.

Rob

Sunday, September 24, 2017

World Wide Woozle episode #425

Long weekend - woo hoo!

Here's a little piece of advice. If and when you change jobs, do your level best to include a little break between your exit and start dates. For reasons unclear to me, this was not possible for me in May and I've suffered a bit as a result. A couple of days simply wasn't enough.

I was listening to Motley Crue this week and got to thinking about their change of vocalist and the effect it had on the band. Vince Neil sang with them from 1980-92 and again from 1997 until the band called it a day at the end of 2015. For reasons that are unimportant here, Vince was replaced by John Corabi and sang on one album; 1994's self-titled record. It's a very, very good heavy rock/metal album without necessarily sounding like too much like any of the Crue's previous five outings. Corabi had (and still has) a tougher, deeper voice and the band worked well to come up with songs that suited him. Perhaps the change of frontman as well as the sound was a bit too much and the album didn't do all that well. Corabi in fact suggested that the band go back to Vince Neil and eventually they did. My opinion is that Vince has rarely been able to sing well in a live situation. However, his studio work is really good and is undoubtedly a huge part of the band. Corabi performs these days with The Dead Daisies (I've played them before). Were the Crue good before Corabi? Absolutely. Any of the first five albums (Too Fast For Love, Shout At The Devil, Theater of Pain, Girls Girls Girls, Dr Feelgood) are essential listening for metalheads. Were they any good when Vince returned? Maybe. Patchy might be a fair description. Their final LP, Saints of Los Angeles, is a ripper. Don't listen to any later live recordings though - Vince's voice was well and truly shot.

Here's Motley Crue with John Corabi wearing their Beatles and Zeppelin influences on their collective sleeves:

Motley Crue - Misunderstood - https://youtu.be/gASy4hRFJkA

And again with Corabi; showing the muscular, heavy rock that Motley Crue rarely achieved with Vince Neil. A different beast.

Motley Crue - Power to the Music - https://youtu.be/ZMQJIJXEq5k

WIth the end of the band I used to play in, I've moved on to learning a few songs that I love but have never got around to playing properly. Whilst I've been struggling with the tone of my new amp - we're still breaking in the speaker - one of my mates loaned me a USA made amplifier by a company called Krank. I remember Diamond Darrell from Pantera endorsing them a while ago now and I always assumed that they were just aimed at heavy metal players. Wrong, wrong, wrong! This particular model is called a Chadwick and it's a 50 watt rock and roll machine - wow! We plugged it in, turned it up and it's pure rock and roll from AC/DC all the way to Metallica with a massive bottom end. It's inspired me to start working on this track...

Rainbow - Man On The Silver Mountain - https://youtu.be/p9nfVrusSMg

The Foo Fighters have a new album out called Concrete and Gold. I am not a fan of the band by any means. Other than writing one of the best rock songs ever, Monkey Wrench, the rest of their stuff just fails to hold my interest. However, as it took me so long to "get" Sgt Pepper's I will let the Foo Fighters be a slow burn. I've checked out a few of the tracks from Concrete and Gold and I haven't fallen asleep yet so maybe there is hope. Who knows. I liked this one quite a lot....

Foo Fighters - The Sky Is A Neigborhood - https://youtu.be/TRqiFPpw2fY

Sadly, American soul singer, Charles Bradley has passed away. He came to prominence later in his life with a powerful voice and energetic stage show. I missed seeing him here in Canberra as a result of foul weather and dreadful administration by the gig organisers and I'm still sad about it.

Charles Bradley - Ain't It A Sin - https://youtu.be/UD1eaRDY-q4

Thanks to DJ DJ for alerting me to the fact that the first three Proclaimers LPs are to be re-released on vinyl. For those who came in late, there are 10 studio albums to be had and all are worthy of your attention. The ones to be re-released are, This Is The Story, Sunshine On Leith and Hit The Highway. I've got two of these on vinyl already so I'll wait for a review of the new versions to decide if they are worth it or not.  Here's one from their first album all about being yourself regardless of what others think.

The Proclaimers - Throw the R away - https://youtu.be/5Tffp64Lu10

DJ ZedBoots and I are in the process of planning a return visit to see our families in Pentecost, Vanuatu. It's not all that easy to keep in contact with them but I do my best. I'm very much looking forward to simply spending time with people who are amazingly kind and accepting of me. People in Vanuatu have very much adopted this song and it fits rather well.

Warumpi Band - My Island Home - https://youtu.be/yZEodxUx2ME

I guess the biggest news here is that DJ Bogus is off to Canada to live for about 6 months. He's secured a job as a lift operator and snowboard instructor. Pretty neat huh? Let's just hope that there are no cyclones to contend with in his time there.

That'll do folks. For those in Canberra, enjoy your long weekend. For the rest of you...ha ha!

Rob

Friday, September 1, 2017

World Wide Woozle episode #424

Last week, the band I used to play in (now defunct), released its one and only recorded song. I'm not going to review it because that'd be rather odd I think. Putting out a song and getting positive feedback that includes things such as, "will there be more?", has proved difficult for me to cope with and I felt for a while that I was going backwards in terms of my well-being. The band was far from perfect and plenty of aspects of it were frustrating without a doubt but I felt part of something and I don't anymore. George may or may not finish recording some of the other tracks that we'd started.

Please listen to the song. George has poured his heart and soul into the lyrics and music. It's a tune that we performed at our last show and, even though it may be slow and laid back in feel, my opinion is that it is much more powerful played live. Junk Sculpture was a very, very energetic band so to hear us like this might shock a few but let me assure you, the power and the passion are there if you take the time for more than a casual listen.

Interestingly enough, I don't visualise Myall Creek when I play this song or listen to it. The song transports me back to a cool evening at the playground across the road from the cafe in Tingha. We were pushing some local kids on the swings whilst we waited around until it was gig time. I often reflect about what their lives are like, the opportunities denied them and a country that will soon spend $122m on a non-binding postal vote at the same time that kids like these aren't getting proper food, healthcare or much of a chance to break the cycle that they were born into.

George Huitker & Junk Sculpture - Near Myall Creek (2017) - https://vimeo.com/231041657

For those who are interested, the song was recorded over quite a few sessions in George's lounge room. It was engineered, by Tim, one instrument at a time (with a guide track) so we all got to come in and take our turn at playing it over and over until we got it right! There's not a lot of guitar in this one but if you listen carefully you can hear me attempting to add some ambience in places!

Onwards!!! Taylor Swift has a new song. You'd have to have been living under a rock not to have noticed as its been all over the news and the 'net breaking streaming and download records left, right and centre. Let's put it out there that I'm a fan. I like what she does musically in that she plays instruments, writes songs and is involved in everything to do with her career. Sure, she's got more than enough money to do whatever she likes but she's still come up with something new. For all the talk of her "dissing" people like Kanye and Kimmy, it remains to me a decent attempt at a new sound for Taylor that isn't going to alienate too many of her fans. Try it a couple of times...

Taylor Swift - Look What You Made Me Do (2017) - https://youtu.be/3tmd-ClpJxA

Up next in the new release category is one of New Zealand's favourite sons. Neil Finn's solo work has been patchy in my opinion. To be fair, he's written a heap of great songs as a member of Split Enz and Crowded House and so is probably allowed a little latitude! This song is a cracker though. Initially I thought it was going to be something new by Fleetwood Mac with a bit of electronica thrown in but then Neil's voice, which is very recognisable, came through. If this track is an indication of what we can expect from the forthcoming album then we may just be in for a real treat.

Neil Finn - Second Nature (2017) - https://youtu.be/WW3pb77HL0Q

Before the band Ghost, we had groups like Mercyful Fate doing the whole painted face, shock lyrics, metal type of thing. If KISS were the Saturday morning cartoon version and Alice Cooper the rock pantomime then Mercyful Fate were the R rated horrors... Many people became aware of the band when Metallica did a medley of some of their tunes on their "Garage Inc." album. James Hetfield growling, "I was born in the cemetery, under the sign of the moon..." was particularly sublime. The original stuff takes a bit of getting used to, especially lead vocalist King Diamond's falsetto moments. For metal fans this is essential listening. For the rest of you maybe it's for interest only. I like the band in small doses and just wish that there was some decent live footage of them from back in the day as, lyrics and screaming notwithstanding, there is some fantastic guitar work to enjoy.

Mercyful Fate - Curse of the Pharaohs (1983) - https://youtu.be/ld3PWrd8sbE

Metallica - Mercyful Fate (1998)  - https://youtu.be/QpUlRbCDLvA

I'm throwing this one up here as a teaser really. I've heard the song only a few times and had two listens to the associated album. I need to do some reading about the artist and his famous Dad as well. For this week though, have a listen to this and tell me what you think. It's growing on me.

AJ Croce - Name Of The Game (2017) - https://youtu.be/6IOwFZK3ycc

We'll finish this week with one of the masters. I chose this song after seeing a photo of a statue of SRV surrounded by floodwaters in Texas. It just makes sense.

Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble - Texas Flood (live 1991) - https://youtu.be/KC5H9P4F5Uk

I've made the effort to publish this earlier in the hope it doesn't get lost in the haze of excitement that is the weekend.

Happy Birthday to my "little" brother. Get well DJ FoghornLeghorn! And welcome back to Australia DJ HB.

Rock on brothers and sisters.

Rob

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Saturday, August 26, 2017

World Wide Woozle episode #423

There's so much I could write about this week; statues, marriage equality, citizenship, idiots without bike lights...the list goes on. But, like me, I imagine that most of you are completely bored with the majority of those topics so I will be brief and then get to the music.

Statues - oh good grief. When does it end? What's the limit? How bad do you have to be to have your statue ripped down? I did enjoy hearing the question posed about what was to happen to a statue dedicated to African American soldiers who had, among other things, been involved in slaughtering Native Americans. 

Marriage equality - I'm sure that no-one's view was changed by adding a rainbow to your Facebook profile picture or by whatever the opposite is. Do your thing and vote. If it's a big majority either way then all we can do is hope that our dysfunctional parliament actually takes notice. I could do a lot better with $122m than a non-binding postal vote. However, please vote and remember that there is a lot of emotion about this issue on both sides. Let's do better than belittling the point of view that we don't agree with.

Citizenship - what a debacle. Seriously, let's do two things. Put the Government in caretaker mode until the High Court can get off their rear ends and determine who should still be our elected representatives. And, then sort out the Constitution so that this is no longer a problem. (I am a dual citizen just to be completely transparent about it. Paying the UK government to renounce my citizenship there will not change my allegiance to Australia, which should be without question given that I once signed the blank cheque to defend it with my life if required.)

Idiots without bike lights - moronic? And people refer to motorcyclists as "temporary citizens"!

Righto; time for some tunes.

I'm playing this one for the simple reason that I heard it on the radio this week and I liked it. It's not a track that I remember having ever heard but it's really good.

Nancy Sinatra - Bang, Bang - https://youtu.be/qgDrpWWxuto

Weezer's latest album, self-titled with the white cover (I say that as they have other self-titled albums with differently coloured covers!) has been getting lots of listening time. It's really very, very good in my opinion. The best way that I can think of to describe it is a glorious combination of indie-rock and the Beach Boys. I haven't been enthused by Weezer since the blue album in 1994 but this one has definitely made me sit up and take notice.

Weezer - California Kids - https://youtu.be/GMeu0ZubufU

Weezer also have a new single from the forthcoming "Pacific Dream" album. Check it here if you like...great title!

John Lee Hooker is a classic. If blues music interests you at all then you need to listen to him for a while. I found his take on the genre a little challenging at first as the chord changes are almost at random intervals. Here's one of the best with a classic lyric to boot, "I heard Poppa say to Momma, let that child boogie-woogie!"

John Lee Hooker - Boogie Chillun - https://youtu.be/G4pp02_GN9A

Record Store Day releases are often very limited and hard to come by. This one was. Six songs by Jason Isbell and his band recorded live to vinyl was going for upwards of $100 on evilBay. Patience and a trip to the Discogs website saved the day though and I snagged a copy (all the way from Germany) for much less. The fact that this is recorded live, with no chance of overdubs or any studio trickery just shows the level of musical talent that Jason and his band have. Their version of The Stones', "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" is splendid. However, the only track on YouTube is one I've already played so you'll have to make do with this...

Jason Isbell - Codeine (live) - https://youtu.be/2m961waDa_8

Ghost have a new single and it's pretty good. The video is a fairly obvious commentary on certain facets of organised religion and worth a look. Some of the "magic" of the band has now been destroyed with musicians, once masked and unknown, taking legal action against the singer/band leader. Let's hope that the band carries on as, musically they are fantastic and we need people willing to make comment about the state of the world. It's just another type of protest music. This vide was released only a couple of days ago.


I read too much this week about good quality surround sound recordings and I didn't expect this next band to feature I will admit. I think that Bon Jovi's "New Jersey" is a great album but I'd not considered that it would merit the 5.1 treatment.  However, $40 is a lot to pay for an album I already have in at least two other formats so I'll stick to the stereo mix. If "Slippery When Wet" is their breakthrough album, then "New Jersey" is the product of that success and very much tailored to big venues, sound systems and crowds...and fun! Rock on.

Bon Jovi - Born To Be My Baby - https://youtu.be/Ahf2B_eZUc4

Have a great weekend folks!

Rob

One more...this is simply amazing and comes with the World Wide Woozle guarantee of quality!

Friday, August 11, 2017

World Wide Woozle episode #422

I've finally completed my longish review of the 5.1 surround version of The Beatles' , Sgt Pepper's album. You can read it here if you like.

Glen Campbell died this week. This is the last song he ever recorded and I think it says it all.

Glen Campbell - I'm Not Gonna Miss You - https://youtu.be/U8TsAh-zYFI

The passing of Glen made me rather pensive for a while. This next song always comes to mind if I'm feeling down or melancholy. My sadness wasn't infinite thankfully. There's beauty in solitude and serenity at times and that's what this track reminds me of.

Crowded House - Private Universe (live) - https://youtu.be/aGwGi49Lvh0

And now for something completely different. Years ago, a student gave me a CD to listen to. I dug it, played it a few times and then forgot about it....until last week. Thinking about musicians that use recording and soundscapes as an instrument must've lit up some weird neural pathway because it led me to this...and to a guy who I had no idea had been the singer for the Steve Vai band years ago! If you like bands such as Pink Floyd, Dream Theater or Queensryche then you should enjoy this.

Devin Townsend Project - Stormbending - https://youtu.be/YhcoLO8vZZU

DJ ZedBoots recommended this next one to me. I was a bit unsure as I really quite dislike very obviously auto-tuned vocals which the female singer in this song has. Not to judge a band by one song, I sought out some live tracks and an acoustic performance. Lo and behold, she can sing. Ditch the auto-tune ma'am, your voice is just fine. I'll play the acoustic version as I quite like it but if you want to rock out then it's here.

Skillet - Feel Invincible (live/acoustic) - https://youtu.be/C_lgkYynZcE

Choosing a band name is always a challenge and can lead to many fallings out and some disasters! When the members of Death Cab For Cutie chose their moniker from a song by the Bonzo Do Doo-dah Band I wonder if they thought that it sounded like something that a really, really heavy metal band might select? For years I've not listened to this band as I thought that they were in the screamo metal genre. Wrong, wrong, wrong. But the story gets more amusing. I heard a band called Panic At The Disco covering a song and I thought to myself, that guy can really sing. Later in the week I transposed band names and ended up listening to Death Cab For Cutie and here I am loving their work! They are not at all metal or anything like that. I'd imagine that they are influenced by artists such as Daniel Johnston, Wilco, Weezer, The Decemberists, Neil Young and maybe even one of my faves, Winterpills. Today I was at home recovering from a stubborn cold and sinus infection so I listened to three or four of their albums. You should too. 

Death Cab For Cutie - Marching Bands of Manhattan - https://youtu.be/be2LvYXOcSI

DJ Guz has been working at getting me interested in some electronic music as well as some more esoteric stuff. His recommendation of the band Snarky Puppy was excellent. I'm returning the favour this week with a brand new release that I heard on Double J radio and quite enjoyed. This has that thick, fuzzy synth and bass combination that really works with a sub-woofer.

Goldfrapp - Systemagic - https://youtu.be/YGdMxxpeljU 

Righto, so it looks like we Australians might soon have the option to vote yes or no in a non-binding postal vote that our elected representatives may choose to simply ignore. Surely $122m can be better spent somewhere else? However, if we must vote then let's embrace democracy and send the politicians our views. I genuinely hope that the opinion of the majority populace, which is apparently quite clear, is then acted upon appropriately. Peace, love, understanding and all that really does matter. And it goes both ways (thank you Nerida!). 

Rollins Band - Do It - https://youtu.be/AJvFM0NVZnE?t=4m22s

So, we played our last gig and it was loud, energetic and very sweaty. That seemed like a fitting finale. There's a few photos on the band Farcebook page if you fancy a look. It's been a real trip being in a band that played with such passion. I really thought that our penultimate show at Vivaldi's was hard to top but last Saturday night, although only one set, was definitely a high point. Look out for more music from me before too long.

Bryan Adams - Kids Wanna Rock - https://youtu.be/oYi2lqG2u9I?t=29s

Hoo roo,
Rob 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Sgt Pepper's in 5.1 surround...any good?

The short version:
  • It's great,
  • There's a ton of stuff you've probably never noticed before,
  • I enjoyed it a LOT, and
  • If you like the Beatles at all it's worth it, even if you have to go to someone else's house to listen.
The long version (and it's definitely long):

5.1 surround sound has never interested me in terms of listening to music. Movies are a completely different kettle of fish in my opinion. For me, a band has always been about what you can see and hear coming from in front of you and many live gigs are mixed in mono anyway. Upfront I'll say that this experience hasn't changed my thoughts about surround music. Clarity is one thing and an immersive surround audio experience is something else.

The gear
For those that care, we listened on H's rather amazing 5.1 system which was professionally installed by the good folks at Duratone in Phillip. They know their stuff and spent ages at H's house making sure that it was all setup to perfection. It's an Advanced AL24 Processing Denon amp with two Dynaudio speakers at the front, two PSB speakers at the back, a Jamie speaker at the front centre and an REL subwoofer too. 

Mix choices
The media is the 5.1 surround mix supplied on BluRay in the Sgt Pepper's Super-Deluxe Box Set. It comes in high resolution 96 kHz, 24-bit DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD. There's a stereo mix too which we didn't listen to as it wasn't really the point. We tried both 5.1 options and the fact is that there are subtle differences. At times one was more crisp than the other which had a smooth warmth. At other times there was better clarity that I noticed especially with some guitar parts. The truth is that both DTS and Dolby sound different and it's going to be very much a personal preference.

Track by track
I'm not commenting (much) on the merits of the songwriting or musicianship. What these notes contain is what I heard and felt.

Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band: this sounded like a live rock band to me. The stereo separation, as is evident in the whole album, meant that there were snippets of instrumentation, especially guitar lines that I'd never heard before. I guess that being a guitar player that stood out for me. I wanted to hear this track over and over it was that good. 

With A Little Help From My Friends: clarity aside, the big thing for me in this track was that the backing vocals sounded completely different to what I had remembered. There was simply more of them, more depth and whilst it didn't surround you, it felt as if it was all over me in an almost liquid effect.

Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds - There is guitar doubling that made me stand up and take notice and the vocals in the chorus seem much stronger. In the past when the lyric went to, "taxis appear on the shore", I always felt as if something was ever so slightly out of sync. This was no longer an issue.

Getting Better - in this track, which I've always enjoyed, the vocals were spacious and perhaps that's a function of some very subtle use of the entire 5.1 spectrum. The stand out was that the guitars were so clear that I felt that I'd have a good chance of identifying the type of instrument being played - it was that clear.

Fixing A Hole - this is the first song in which I really noticed the prominence of the bass and drums in the mix. Other than that it felt like almost like being at a soundcheck at the opera.

She's Leaving Home - I really enjoyed the orchestral bits and where each instrument was located in the mix as they were absolutely everywhere.

Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite - I think that this was the biggest revelation for me on the album. Who knew that it was propelled so hard by drum and bass? There's a wonderful madness to this track that I'd never heard before; not even a hint. 

Within You Without You - like almost everything this sounds superb and the way that you want music to feel as well - like you're in the room with the band. I just don't like the song.

When I'm 64 - would this even get a spot on a rock album today? It's a moot point really as it did back in the day. What is revealed in this release is that it is pushed so hard by Paul and Ringo. Add to that the sublime clarinets and it's a hit! There's also a previously unnoticed guitar track panned hard left which is a real treat.

Lovely Rita - oh wow, this one was like the best garage band you've ever heard with a top shelf backing vocal group added.

Good Morning Good Morning - the low point for me if there has to be one. It lacked the dynamic range of previous tracks. Maybe it was all pushed a little too hard? It is, however, truly chaotic and as a low point it really isn't all that low.

Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise) - my favourite song on the album previously and nothing has changed. There's a piano hard left which sounds just brilliant and the drumming is just so much more in your face.

Overall, this was like being at a live gig where the sound gets fuller and louder as the show goes on. I found the 5.1 surround effect to be subtle in most places, very subtle. Once in a while something would pop up behind you in the listening vantage point but it didn't make a huge difference. What's good about this version of a classic album is that the clarity, across the whole frequency range, is just fabulous. If you've only ever been a casual Beatles listener then I'd recommend this thoroughly. For fans and tragics it is a must.

Going forwards I'm very keen to hear the mono mix. Why? Well because depending on who you believe, that's how the Beatles wanted it. Couple that with the fact that most people were listening on mono radios or portable, one speaker, turntables and it may just be a more authentic experience. When I know, I'll report back.

Rob



Friday, August 4, 2017

World Wide Woozle episode #421

Let me begin with an apology wrapped up in a public service announcement. This is a very long episode. You may need to take a break at some stage to avoid whatever the equivalent of bed sores are for blog readers. If you're listening through headphones or at high volume, remember to give your ears a break. After that, my advice is to fasten your seat-belt, ignore the person behind you and recline your seat, take a deep breath and join me on what Larry Mullen Jr. might describe as, "a musical journey".

Dixie Chicks - The Long Way Around - https://youtu.be/B1qgazBdKj8

I was fortunate enough recently to have the opportunity to listen to the remastered version of The Beatles' "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" in 5.1 surround sound. I'm happy for you to argue amongst yourselves about how The Beatles themselves intended the album to be heard. In the interest of balance, I will organise a mono copy to comment on sometime in the future. Very soon I will publish a track by track review of my thoughts for those of you masochistic enough to want to read that. Here today though I'll just make a few comments. The main one is that listening to a high quality audio source, through a great sound system is very much the way to experience this album in the 5.1 format. If you settle for even the high quality streaming option then you're missing out. I was unaware of how powerful the drum and bass work on the entire album is. If you'd told me previously that, "Being for the benefit of Mr Kite" was pushed hard by a pulsating and thunderous rhythm section I might've told you that you were dreaming. There's a wonderful clarity to the guitars on the title track that meant I heard nuances and even whole parts that I have never noticed before. The album seemingly gets louder as it goes on, almost like being at a really, really good live concert. If you want to feel as if you are actually standing in the middle of the studio as the Fab Four are playing these tracks then this is how to do it. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole album, even the sitar bits, and I will save my hard earned pennies to get the super-deluxe set that this is part of. Many thanks to Huitker Studios and also to the newly established 5.1 Appreciation Society for their part in making the review possible.

Billy Connolly - Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite - https://youtu.be/y02vRC0NZyg

I don't want to start an argument or offend anyone, but after Sgt Pepper's we listened to the surround mix of The Beach Boys', "Pet Sounds". Sure, it had some great moments but on the whole it was positively pedestrian in comparison to The Beatles. Not much tops this though...

Brian Wilson & Al Jardine - Sloop John B - https://youtu.be/eDZgl7H-coQ

Mick Jagger has two new tunes out. I quite like his solo stuff as a rule, it's generally more consistent than the Stones and also exposes more of his influences. The lyrics to these tracks are as important as his almost venomous delivery of them. Mick's quite adept at mixing up blues, disco and some drum 'n bass beats and it works.

Mick Jagger - England Lost - https://youtu.be/98gj0z0RkXE

I did a little bit of investigation into what critics and internet bores thought were really good pieces of music to listen to in 5.1 surround. I was surprised when the live AC/DC film, "Let There Be Rock; live in Paris" made one list. I've got it on DVD so I dragged it out for a look even though I don't have surround myself...yet. Apparently the band is pretty much in stereo and there are crowd noises etc. in the background. I guess that makes sense if the effect is to make you feel as if you are at the show. It's a good film but not a great concert. The guitars just don't sound right - a bit smooth and lacking AC/DC's bite. I'd recommend the film for fans but there are much more energetic and explosive performances on some of the live video box sets in production. You'd think that someone like Pink Floyd, Muse or even U2 would take full advantage of 5.1 surround in their live recordings....we'll see.

Pink Floyd - On The Turning Away (live) - https://youtu.be/GZLuDvN7W0c

Arcade Fire released a new album last week. I've not paid any attention to them in the past but for some reason I clicked a link and listened to this. I like it. It's fun, varied and if I was into dancing it would have me moving around easily. What's interesting is the very, very wide ranging reviews that it has garnered. They go all the way from those who love it to those who think that their ears will never recover from the distasteful experience. I'll have to listen to some of Arcade Fire's older stuff but, that notwithstanding, their most recent release, "Everything Now", is one I'll certainly check out again.

Arcade Fire - Everything Now - https://youtu.be/zC30BYR3CUk

I recently ordered some music to listen to and review. Imagine my surprise when I opened the package and among the CDs was a cassette. Yep, remember those? I blame the fact that I've been suffering with a dodgy sinus infection. Thankfully I do still have a rather nice cassette deck hooked up to the stereo out in the studio. The album in question is from Chuck Prophet who I played here a few weeks ago. I've been listening to and watching a whole lot of his stuff and it doesn't disappoint. I think he'd be really worthwhile seeing live although I imagine the chances of him coming to Australia are slim. For fans of Nick Lowe, Dylan and Elvis Costello.

Chuck Prophet - Post-War Cinematic Dead Man Blues - https://youtu.be/uDndukgT2t0

On Saturday night I'll play my last show with the band. Not because I'm leaving, but because it's the end for all of us. Plenty of other people have been in the group longer than me (I think I started in 2013) and as an entity it's more than 20 years old. All things must come to an end however and even though I'm sad about it I'll do my best to put on a stellar performance on Saturday night whilst enjoying myself. Touring up to Northern NSW, lounge room shows and of course rocking out at Vivaldi's are all highlights for me. The simple act of sitting in a lounge room or rehearsal space working on tunes can be stressful, exhilarating and fun all at once. It's why I like playing in a group so watch this space as I'll either find a new bunch of people to make noise with or shock you all with a solo release (it's coming along....). In my opinion you should always try and play with people who are musically more proficient than you. I've succeeded at that for years now and it motivates me to keep learning and practicing. If you're free on Saturday night you should come to the show. It's free and it'll be a lot of fun. Details on the band's Facebook page as always.

Warumpi Band/Midnight Oil - Blackfella Whitefella / The Dead Heart (live) - https://youtu.be/7N5ZsCGjUz0

I heard this next track during the week and it's a cracker. It's one I hadn't heard for ages and I'm not even sure that I ever knew who sang it. I've always thought that it sounded a bit like a cross between Weird Al, Tom Petty and Iggy Pop! I'm still not sure that I feel like an adult but....

The Pursuit of Happiness - I'm An Adult Now - https://youtu.be/PVL4GTeLN68

I've just taken delivery of Glen Campbell's final album, "Adios". As you probably all know if you've been paying attention in the past, Glen has Alzheimer's and no longer performs. There is an excellent film about his final recordings and tour which I have reflected on in the past. "Adios" is a good record, well worth a few dollars and it'll cause you to have a tear in your eye if you play it understanding the back story. But can I encourage you to look for Glen's album, "Ghost On The Canvas". It's the one that we all thought would be his last and to me anyway, it's far and away a better record than "Adios".

Glen Campbell - A Better Place - https://youtu.be/PVL4GTeLN68https://youtu.be/JMh78jF-fMQ

In this internet age we are very much spoiled with instant access to information, sounds and images. Sometimes though it is still a great feeling to indulge in a real book, LP or art display. AC/DC are releasing a coffee table book of photos from their most recent "Rock or Bust" world tour. I think I'll have to get my hands on a copy for the simple reason that Angus and I were there. I'm fairly sure it will have been their last outing and it'll be great to flick through. One of my prized possessions is the tour programme from The Razor's Edge World Tour which was the first time I saw them; load of cool photos and fun to look at every now and then. This book will make an ideal companion to that. By the way, the Dire Straits Brothers In Arms tour programme is sublime - thanks to DJ BeeDee for that one a long time ago!! Do bands still produce these? I don't know. I'm usually just focused on getting to my seat and remembering my hearing protection these days - ha ha!

AC/DC - Rock or Bust - https://youtu.be/_NdHySPJr8I

DJ GuzBox and I are waiting patiently to take delivery of my new guitar amplifier. You have to understand that it's being hand-made including custom coloured tolex and grille cloth so the wait will definitely be worth it. Tim knows his stuff in terms of sound so I'm hoping we can get together to record some sound clips of the glorious racket it makes for you all. For you guitar tech geeks out there, just put "VASE Tonesetter 18" into your favourite search engine.

Spinal Tap - The Majesty of Rock - https://youtu.be/RsOxgwF9LlM

Lots of TV shows use great music. I really like it when it's one you don't know that gets you foot tapping and head nodding. I had to track this tune down after hearing it playing during "The Blacklist" (Season 4 Ep 18). I hope you enjoy it. It's given me something else to explore and who knows where it might lead.

Fitz and The Tantrums - Dear Mr President - https://youtu.be/HrGq1Zmfnvc

Does anyone remember the British TV comedy, "It Ain't Half Hot Mum"? It probably can't be broadcast any more as a result of being quite politically incorrect. But if you're willing to accept that times have changed (mostly for the better), then there are some classic one liners and moments in the show that had me laughing a lot last weekend. Set in a British Army camp in India in WWII, it's essentially the story of a group of performers thrown together with an angry Royal Artillery Sergeant Major (is there any other type?) Look, it's better if you just watch a couple of short clips from a time when comedy wasn't all foul language and outrage.

Battery Sgt Major Williams - https://youtu.be/5y2WIOa7CEI


The advantage of using Spotify a lot is that their algorithms get better and better at recommending music based on my listening habits. That isn't to say that there aren't a few clangers but, to be fair, I rarely find myself having to skip tracks. These are a couple that popped up recently that I think are worthy of introducing you all to. Neither are artists that I know anything at all about, but both are very enjoyable. Probably more for listeners out there who like country or blues and roots music but I was listening to Slayer before these played and I didn't blink an eye.

Rodney Crowell -  Nashville 1972 - https://youtu.be/vhZtiNXnCXE

Israel Nash Gripka -  Louisiana - https://youtu.be/T-19bbgFn34

I used to write a lot about my family in this blog and it struck me that I've really been focused on the music recently. I'd hate you all to think that I was ignoring them or that they weren't important to me. The two young adults in my life are, in my opinion, very impressive. DJ ZedBoots is studying Paramedicine and regularly tells stomach churning stories involving IV drips, needles and gasses! She's also taken up karate, turned 21 and been on the TV. DJ Bogler is living the dream in terms of snow. He's working hard as a snowboarding instructor and then ripping up the slopes on his days off! It isn't long before he's off to Canada though for more of the same. Meanwhile he continues to love his Mum, his dog and his car. As for DJ Al-ee-sunshineofmylife; well she's started her own business, added some contracting work, can walk further than around the block and still loves kale. Good times.

The Ramones - We're A Happy Family - https://youtu.be/ZQlM59sDJVo

Finally, a shout out to DJ DJ. From all of the crew at HQ Woozle; we're very, very glad that you're OK my friend.

Lukim yu,

Rob