Merry Christmas everyone. I hope you survived the experience and it was meaningful to you in some way. I learned a life lesson a few years ago now that Christmas is what you want it to be. It needn't be massive and overblown either. This year I spent valuable time with family, gave and received some gifts and had some fantastic meals. We steadfastly refused to go to the Boxing Day sales and laughed at the dog and cat in their Christmas collars. Good times.
I've ridden my bike a lot so far these holidays (you can follow my progress on strava.com if you want). The nice thing is that I've ridden both by myself and with a range of people. Yesterday we rode from Tharwa and did the 9km climb up to what used to be the Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station. It was one of those rare climbs where everything just felt right. Of course, being (relatively suddenly) 10kg lighter probably means that it is a whole lot easier. If you're here in the nation's capital then it's a beautiful drive up there. The air is clear and the view down the valley is fantastic. If spaceships are your thing then take a look around where they were once tracked from.
On to some music. I've been looking through my record, cassette and CD collection for inspiration. This week you'll get some relatively obscure tracks but I hope you give them a chance. I was the DJ at my school radio station for 2.5 years. It was only a one hour weekly show but I loved it. When I started playing songs I liked rather than replicating the local commercial stations I loved it even more.
For many years, unless you lived in a capital city here in Australia, you were stuck with commercial AM radio and the dusty playlists that they had. We loved out of town and FM reception was patchy at best. If there was someone good on the community radio station you might jag a few good songs but you had to be lucky. "MTV" and more so ABC television's "rage" changed all that. Rage played bands I had never heard of if you were prepared to be up in the middle of the night. This is one track that came via late night TV. I did buy the album that it came from but really, the single is the only strong track in my opinion.
Metal Church – Badlands - http://youtu.be/—tlSW4BqAA
When I moved to Canberra at 17 I arrived with a cassette walkman, my precious cassettes and two 1 watt plug in speakers. Tinny would be a fair comment. Soon enough my Dad came to visit and took me out to buy a stereo. It's still pumping out tunes in the lounge room. My subsequent purchase of a CD player meant that I found Impact Records. It was a mecca for all types of music enthusiasts. Staffed by knowledgeable folks and with a huge range of vinyl, CD and cassettes. Impact is no longer here but I did my bit to keep them in business for years!
One day I heard this CD being played in the store and I bought a copy based on hearing two or three tracks. It was, and still is, fantastic. I remember feeling a little put out when a few months later success came to the band and they weren't just a secret that I'd shared with Alison and my band!
The Lemonheads – Confetti - http://youtu.be/SOMKe4uTALI
This next one isn't so obscure but I hasn't heard it for years. It's a track, and a band, that should be played a lot more. I love the jangling, crisp guitar in the verses. I'll have to track this one down on CD. I think the only copy I have is on a compilation cassette I made for DJ Al-Ee all those years ago.
Maybe Dolls – Nervous Kid - http://youtu.be/fb083cYZdMk
Years ago now, DJ SAB tried to get me into this band. It didn't really work. I liked a few of their songs but found much of their catalogue impenetrable. I know that they're a band with a large and devoted following but try as I did, I couldn't bring myself to be more than a casual listener. I dipped in and out of their work for years. And I realised recently that I still do. I guess that if I've been pulling out tracks for nearly 20 years I should count myself as a fan.
Sisters of Mercy – Dominion - http://youtu.be/qWvOHT0zfXY
Yesterday I had some time to myself. Christmas guests had departed, Angus was at work and Alison was out with friends. I took the opportunity to check out the Iron Maiden DVD I was given for Christmas. "En Vivo" is a lavish concert production with great sound. It certainly shows a band who have been around for a long time and who show no signs of slowing down. The more recent songs are just as well received as some of the classics. I was prepared to be disappointed or at least underwhelmed by this DVD but it really blew me away – UP THE IRONS!
I also began watching a movie about the life of legendary singer/guitarist Huddie Ledbetter (Lead Belly). Once I got past the fact that his character is being played by TC from Magnum PI the film looked OK. I'll finish it later on. Lead Belly is a huge influence on rock 'n' roll and blues. Listen to Creedence, Beach Boys, Johnny Cash and you'll figure it out.
Lead Belly – Rock Island Line - http://youtu.be/7iJEVOUqepo
Last week I wrote a full album review for a Brisbane band called "Thirteen Seventy". Thanks to DJ DaddyRollins for sending me the CD and putting me on to the band. It's a great rock record with moody lyrics. If you're interested in something new and independent then the review is here: http://robwoozle.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/album-review-thirteen-seventy-arrest.html
Here's a track from one of my favourite cassettes. It's by a guy called Mojo Nixon and it's a complete hoot. I think I bought the cassette because it was in a clearance bin – and now it's almost work out. See what you think...
Mojo Nixon – Don Henley Must Die - http://youtu.be/Wm-o7_VVAoU
To finish, here's a track from an Australian artist I've just discovered. You can bet he's listened to Lead Belly in the past. Oh my, this is just sublime!!
CW Stoneking – Jungle Lullaby - http://youtu.be/9Mclo3kYr9Y
Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a ukulele to learn some tunes on! I wonder how it will sound through my Marshall amp....