Friday, December 1, 2017

World Wide Woozle episode #429

Coming back to your regular life after a holiday is never easy. I've also discovered that the upset stomach side effect of the anti-malaria medication well and truly applies to me! As regular readers will know, I've struggled in the past with wanting to do too much for my families in Vanuatu. Finding the balance is a real challenge. Deep inside I've had a feeling for years now that I could do more with my life and it's much more evident at the moment. I recognise that I haven't exactly been sitting on my hands for the last 46 years but maybe it's time to do something a bit more long term. Of course, I have no idea what that is or how it might work so watch this space. What I do know is that there is a lot of the world that I haven't seen and that I could be useful in. I guess my experiences in Vanuatu have made me understand the benefit of moving out of my comfort zone and that even one person can make a positive impact. I've got itchy feet...

Battlefield Band - The Rovin' Dies Hard -

Let's talk about Christmas. What I want to think about for a few moments is the rampant consumerism and excess that has come to define celebrations at this time of the year. Maybe it's Alison's influence but more and more I think about the fact that we could live happily with less "stuff". Giving and receiving gifts is lovely but there's a limit. Recently we took boxes and boxes of books to a local charity who run a regular book fair. For years I'd held onto particular literary gems simply because they were gifts or they'd not been cheap. The ruthless cull and knowledge that someone else would enjoy them as well as the charity raising valuable funds made for a good feeling. I'm not advocating emptying the house out completely but there is a fair bit of stuff lying around that I'm unlikely to use again. Don't be a Scrooge though...Christmas presents, as well as family time, is important for kids!

One thing I do have a lot of is CDs, records and tapes. That's unlikely to change. Until I can carry them around on a device that doesn't require compromise in terms of sound quality I will remain a huge fan of physical audio media. I admit that I do buy less these days and Spotify is to 'blame' for that.

Cliff Richard - Wired For Sound -

Before the internet, shortwave (SW) radio was a very important part of many peoples' lives. It was a way to get up to date news from around the World for many of us. Shortwave broadcasts remain the only media link to the outside world that many people in developing nations or remote locations have. Radio Australia, for reasons best known to the ABC, don't broadcast SW any more into the Pacific or remote Australia. This is a crying shame. On Pentecost, with a cheap SW radio, I was able to listen to Radio NZ, Voice of America, Beijing Radio and a couple of others. Radio Australia used to be well listened to across the Pacific for news as well as emergency notices for things such as cyclones. I admit that I need a better receiver if I go anywhere else but it does irk me that the ABC have cut off what was a valuable service to the Pacific and remote Australia.

James Reyne and James Blundell - Way Out West -

John Bush sang for US thrash metal band Anthrax for a while replacing original vocalist Joey Belladonna. Joey's back these days and personally I wish Bush had been able to stay on. This week DJ NinjaRollins turned me onto John's original (and current) band Armored Saint. It's good. It's really, really good. He has to be one of the few metal vocalists around whose range and voice hold up after a number of years. Maybe he looked after it really well or perhaps he was just lucky. Here's John with Anthrax and then back with Armored Saint. Turn this up!

Anthrax - Cadillac Rock Box -

Armored Saint - Win Hands Down -

The ABC, when they aren't mucking around with the shortwave broadcast, have a done a great job with the current two part biopic about The Easybeats. With the recent death of founder, guitarist and songwriter George Young awareness of the band is heightened of course. Episode one is on ABC iView for those of you in Australia who have missed it. I'd highly recommend it as a decent look at how rock and roll came of age here as well as an insight into a fantastic band. Let me also say that the actor portraying Stevie Wright has obviously studied loads of old footage as his moves are spot on.

The Easybeats - I'll Make You Happy -

News of impending torrential rains around the country has the media in a spin. Frankly I'll be happy to get home this evening without resorting to SCUBA gear or a canoe. Some places have forecasts of their monthly rainfall coming in just a couple of days. Most of Australia can always do with some rain but this much may simply be damaging. And in a moment of pure selfishness, it gets in the way of cycling. Even with significant time off the bike this year I am almost on target to hit 12,000km by the end of December. Let's hope that the rains don't do too much damage and that slightly obsessive cyclists everywhere can get their fix without packing a snorkel.

Dragon - Rain (live 1985) -

Lastly; a sad moment. My Auntie Maureen passed away early this week. She wasn't old and she wasn't sick and that makes it hard for everyone. I guess it's just one of those things. My heart goes out to my Dad, her only sibling and to my cousin Graeme who is her only child. I haven't seen her since we left Scotland in the late 1970s and now I'm kicking myself that I haven't ever been back. I'm glad that Alison got to meet Mo a few years ago and that Zoe was there in 2015. When my Granny died a couple of years ago Mo told me not to be sad because she'd had a very full and meaningful life and the same applies now. At the moment I'm very much feeling the fact that life really is short.

Johnny Cash - We'll Meet Again -

Stay dry folks,


"Well you ask me why I like to dance
And you ask me why I like to sing
And you ask me why I like to play
I got to get my kicks some way
And you ask me what I'm all about
Come and let me hear you shout..." - AC/DC, High Voltage, 1975.

Friday, November 24, 2017

World Wide Woozle episode #428

Hi everyone,

This episode is split into two different parts. Part 1 is about the last two weeks that DJ ZedBoots and I have just spent on Pentecost in Vanuatu. Part 2 is about music.

Part 1 - Pentecost

Pentecost is an amazing place. This was my third visit (and Zoe's fourth). To get there I flew from Canberra to Brisbane, Brisbane to Santo and then Santo to Pentecost. That last flight is in a rather small plane called a Twin Otter. We spent a week with our family at Level School and then another week with our other family at Lini Memorial College. And we brought the rain with us! They'd not had any for months and we most certainly changed that. At one stage my travel journal was about to be renamed to, "Rob and Zoe go to Pentecost and look at rain". We didn't let it get us down though and still managed visits to help in the gardens (where food is grown), tons of time with kids and family just talking and playing, attending a Class 5 end of year party, looking at a health clinic, checking out a very wide range of building works and just generally hanging out. Finger spinners and yo-yos turned out to be fantastic ice breakers with kids.

The money raised from my band payments and generous gig-time donations has assisted in paying for a double length classroom at Level and it's almost finished. Other fundraising has made it possible for a number of families to gain assistance to help pay for their kids' school term fees. Thanks so much to everyone that helped out.

It's hard to describe life in Pentecost. It's hard but peaceful. Family, church and community is everything. Without fail, people smile, shake hands and say hello. Most want to strike up a conversation and it's genuine. One of the things that the locals appreciate the most is time spent chatting; they call it telling stories. I did a lot of that. The rain meant that we got so much time to talk to people and for me to work on my language skills.

We were extremely lucky to be the first people to inhabit a new "house" built at Level. It is unique there in that it has a raised timber floor. In all the torrential rain there was only one tiny leak right at the door. The craftsmanship is just amazing. We also contended with chickens following us everywhere, cows in the station area and Nakamal (meeting house) and naughty escaping pigs!

About 18 months ago my cousin Iain in Scotland, after a visit from Zoe, organised the congregation at the church he attends to collect some books for Level. They ended up with a lot and a huge package (like a pallet load) headed by sea to Vanuatu. For any number of reasons they were delivered to the wrong island, lost, found, re-routed, lost again, found again and then sat in a warehouse for an age. Iain chased them, I chased them and my sister Nancy in Port Vila chased them. I really thought that we'd never see them so imagine my shock when I found out that they'd arrived at Level about two weeks before we did! Two schools on Pentecost now have an amazing range of books. The library shelving at Level is going up over the Christmas break. Thanks to Iain and all the folks at New Kilpatrick Church in Bearsden for their generosity and for never giving up!

At Level, Zoe and I put solar party lights up outside the Nakamal and it was extremely well received by everyone including the local men sitting under them to grind kava. Solar is king on Pentecost!

I read a difficult book (Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance). More about that another day! And I enjoyed quite a lot of doing not much. Having a clear head to think coupled with being off-grid is wonderful for your mental health.

Our time flew by and I'll admit to crying like a baby when I left Level. No-one can really tell though when you're behind sunglasses, under a hat and clinging for dear life to the tray of a 4WD!

There are almost three sides to Vanuatu. The two urban centres (Port Vila and Luganville), the resorts and the islands. I haven't been to a resort so I can't comment there. Port Vila and Luganville are fine to transit through but I wouldn't go there for any length of time unless I was working or staying with locals. The islands are the place to be. The lack of western amenities and services will be a barrier to many (they were to me before the whole Cyclone Pam thing) but washing in a bucket, the long drop toilet and the lack of internet  is easy to get used to and very much outweighed by everything else.

I'll definitely be going back but admit that I don't know when that will be. That's three visits in three years now and I'm keenly aware that there are other places I might like to experience. These trips have been amazing adventures to take with Zoe. I feel that I know her on such a deeper level and I imagine she knows way too much about me. But, we'll be back one day soon. 

Part 2 - Music

Malcolm Young from AC/DC died this week. He was 64 and had suffered from dementia for a few years time. This was the first piece of news I heard when I came off Pentecost and Angus (Marshall, not Young) was the one who told me. There's no doubt that Angus Young was the one to initially attract me to AC/DC; he's iconic for a reason. However, before long I realised the driving force was his brother Malcolm's rhythm guitar. When so many people were shredding a million notes all over the fretboard, Mal was playing big, loud open chords. "It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock & Roll)" is a simple but effective rhythm on an open A chord. Just add volume, drive and swagger. The classic opening to "Back In Black" is again open chords (E,D,A). Malcolm knew how to write what sounds like simple music that packed a punch, was catchy and had a distinctive sound and feel. When I started on the electric guitar I already knew the secret of those big open chords and I persevere with them today - that's his influence. Malcolm Young wasn't flashy, he preferred to be in the background just doing his thing and that's why I admired him so greatly as a musician.

AC/DC - Next To The Moon -

AC/DC - Meanstreak -

Jason Isbell with his band, the 400 Unit, is coming to Australia in March 2018. After being unable to see him play during his last visit (and being intensely dissapointed) I'm happy to say that DJ Al-ee-sunshine has secured tickets for us both. Given the quality of the recent live performance he screened from the Ryman Auditorium, I am looking forward to an almost religious experience!

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit - Codeine (live 2017) -

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit - White Man's World -

I'm not up to date yet on any new releases so that'll have to wait for next time. DJ SlimHenry let me know that Sepultura are touring here next year supported by Death Angel. Neither Max or Igor Cavalera are in the band anymore so I'll have to check out some of their newer stuff before looking at dates and prices. Certainly the older stuff that I am familiar with is fantastic.

Sepultura - Troops of Doom (live 1991) -

Both places I stayed on Pentecost had an acoustic guitar so I actually got a lot of playing done. Calluses on my calluses! I really must remember to learn more Bob Marley songs before my next visit. There are only so many times that I can roll out "Buffalo Soldier", "Redemption Song" and half of "One Love" before I've had enough. No-one else was worried though. They also really liked this next tune....

Johnny Otis - Willie and the Hand Jive -

Lastly, a very brief comment about our politicians who are currently leaving refugees to rot on Manus Island. It's a national disgrace and many members from both major parties should hang their heads in shame. Let's hope that some other countries have the guts to go around our government and help out.

Steve Earle - City of Immigrants (live 2013) -

Have a great weekend,

"On an island in the sun
We'll be playin' and havin' fun
And it makes me feel so fine" - Weezer, Island In The Sun, 2001.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

World Wide Woozle episode #427

This time next week I will be almost packed and ready to return to Pentecost, Vanuatu with Zoe. We were last there in the middle of last year but it feels like longer. People often ask me what I'll do there when I explain that there is no power, running water, internet or TV. The answer is simple; I'll be with my family. We'll spend time in the gardens where they grow their food, we'll sit around and talk (a LOT) and we'll do a fair bit of playing games with all the kids. We might walk to the "bank" and that could take half a day all up. The pace of life there is different and that's one of the attractions. In the past I've taken some books that I have had trouble reading as I find that the fact that my brain is allowed to slow down means that I can lose myself in some quality writing. Reading is also a good break from having to do my best to keep up in another language for the majority of the time. That really tires you for the first couple of days out but it's worth it in so many ways. Most of my Ni-Van family members will speak four languages fluently (two local ones, the Vanuatu national language of Bislama and either French or English) so working on my second one seems only fair. I know that the education system has changed recently so that the youngest children are taught in their local language rather than in English. I'm hoping to learn a few words and phrases but if I am in their classroom it may cause too much distraction so I may sneak up and sit outside so that I can listen in and learn!

In other news, Angus has left home for seven months and is now in Canada about to start work as a lift operator and snowboard instructor at a ski resort. It's been an emotional week for Alison and I since he left. The good thing is that he has somewhere to live, doesn't seem to be starving and is in regular contact with us! I'm not sure that I'm that keen on a visit (especially in winter) but when Zoe left for Vanuatu in 2015 there was no way I wanted to go there....times change. Fingers crossed that there are no cyclones in Vancouver.

Some of you will be aware that I have started doing some recording. I'm hoping to release a six song EP on whomever is silly enough to want a copy before too long. It's a challenge as I don't have a very good singing voice but I'm determined to get it done. So far I have recorded three songs and two of them will be on the EP. One is OK but not up to the standard that I would subject you to. So far it is simply guitar and voice but I might get some keyboards on a song in the future. Choosing songs is the real challenge as, whilst I can play most things, I can't sing them! For the technically minded, my recording setup is simple. I use the Reaper recording software (because Garageband kept crashing), a couple of old microphones and an ageing Roland Edirol UA-25 which connects the mics into my Macbook Air. That's it. Other than that it's my guitars, amps and voice. I'm happy to share the early versions of some of the tracks; just let me know if you're interested.

Don't think that I haven't been listening to music; I've been doing that a lot! Other than trying to find songs that I can sing there has been quite a varied selection rolling around in my playlist for the last couple of weeks. Of course there's a fair bit of Tom Petty but none of you are surprised by that.

I guess that most people will be aware that George Young died recently. He's famous as an Easybeat and also as the producer of many great Australian bands such as AC/DC, Rose Tattoo and The Angels. George is arguably one of the pioneers of what we might refer to as the Aussie Pub Rock sound. Here's George with his partner in crime Harry Vanda...

Flash and the Pan - Waiting for a train -

The Night Flight Orchestra are Swedish. They have released three albums and...and...that's all I know about that. I heard them for the first time this week and I've since been working my way through their recordings. Given that they are signed to Nuclear Blast Records I was expecting metal but they are more melodic hard rock. I certainly have liked what I've heard so far.

The Night Flight Orchestra - West Ruth Avenue -

Do you have albums that you just keep coming back to? I have a couple that are never far from hand. One is the compilation, "Folkways: A Vision Shared" which is a tribute to Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly. The other is W.A.S.P.'s live album which is imaginatively titled, " the raw". I'm not sure that you could get two albums further apart in almost all ways but I'm happy playing them one after the other. The Folkways LP has some wonderful versions of old songs and the W.A.S.P. one is just a rock and roll band playing loud and proud whilst putting on a great show. Many of you won't like both and that's OK!

Taj Mahal - The Bourgeois Blues -

W.A.S.P. - Inside The Electric Circus (live) -

For those unfamiliar with Taj Mahal, a good place to start is his album from 1968, "The Natch'l Blues".

Rock and roll legend Fats Domino left us this week at the age of 89. He was the man that Elvis Presely referred to as the King and that says it all.

Fats Domino - I Hear You Knocking (live) -

Finally this week, I've been listening to an old cassette that one of my Auntie's sent me years and years ago. It's by a German band called Helloween and really, I reckon I listened to it once or twice in the early 90s and never again until recently. That's a shame because, apart from the dodgy album title and even worse cover photo, it's a great power metal style record. Listening to it has mad me go back and check out more by the band and they are still around. If you like your metal with melody and a bit of cheese too then this is for you.

Helloween - Kid of the Century -

See you next time,

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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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) -

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers - Red River (2014)  -

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) -

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers - American Girl (live 1978) -

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


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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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!


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) -

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) -

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) -

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) -

Metallica - Mercyful Fate (1998)  -

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) -

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) -

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.


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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 -

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 -

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 -

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) -

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 -

Have a great weekend folks!


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