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


Saturday, July 22, 2017

World Wide Woozle episode #420

I've just looked in my notebook at my list of music to listen to and consider for this week and I've only written two entries. I guess they'll get an airing then! Bear with me as the rest I'm just making up as I go along.

The radio was playing a feature all about the music of the band Queens of the Stone Age yesterday. I've never been a huge fan but what hit me was how many of the tracks I was very familiar with and how good they were. I really must spend some time with their back catalogue. I really liked, and still do, the band Kyuss who became QOTSA. I was lucky enough to see them opening for Metallica in Sydney in March 1993. I guess QOTSA are closer to a traditional rock band than Kyuss who had a very stoner, doom laden sound. Whatever the case, both are very worth considering as a listening project. Josh Homme has been in nearly as many awesome bands as Chris Slade or Dave Grohl!

Kyuss - Green Machine - https://youtu.be/R-MSfd2S7lo

Queens of the Stone Age - Misfit Love (live) - https://youtu.be/hH4Gt467T7E

I've been on the lookout for an octave pedal for my guitar rig for a little while. In essence what it does is add an extra layer of sound, either an octave up, or an octave down, to the sound. Hendrix is probably the most famous user of this effect but there are plenty of other examples. The search is proving interesting with way too many options to choose from and a huge price range to deal with from, "so cheap it must be dodgy", right up to, "goodness gracious, that costs more than all my other pedals combined". I'll find something one day but for now I'm watching and listening to way too many gear demonstrations on YouTube.

I wrote something earlier in the week about one of my favourite bands. Feel free to peruse my ramblings here. Here's a tune from the group in question.

Baby Animals - Early Warning (live) - https://youtu.be/FZKh8XXvTz4

The band is working up to a rather special live show. As a result I had some fun during the week just sitting with some band members and running through a few tunes. It's a good feeling to play tunes that have been absent from our repertoire for a while. And even more fun simply going through them at lounge room level volume. Playing with the dynamics of a song is great and I'm lucky to have talented and understanding co-collaborators. We hadn't played this one for a while and I really enjoyed it...

Jason Isbell - Cover Me Up (live) - https://youtu.be/NaUCDqWzy1k

This is just a cool song that I hadn't heard in a while. It's got something for everyone. Groovy vocals, great bass line, brass and a ripping guitar solo.

Blondie - Rapture - https://youtu.be/6FM9M2_WP8g

Angus was off in Sydney this week seeing a rapper with a funny name and questionable hair (his words, not mine). Rap got really dumb somewhere along the way. It used to be hard hitting and fun all at the same time. These days, much of it is like the reality TV version of the worst thing you can think of ; low rent and lower than the lowest common denominator. Let's remember the really good stuff and hope that more young MCs and rappers do as well.

Run DMC - My Adidas - https://youtu.be/JNua1lFDuDI

Ice-T - I'm Your Pusher - https://youtu.be/_nODi6OECzs

I read this week that there is a TV mini-series coming soon about the life and times of Australian rock legends, The Easybeats. As well as this is a national concert tour that seems to feature most of the same lineup that I saw paying tribute to The Beatles White Album. If you're not familiar with The Easybeats and their place in rock music history then I encourage you to have a listen to the following tracks. You won't be "sorry".

The Easybeats - I'll Make You Happy - https://youtu.be/2YM8qOKUmwA

A couple of weeks ago I played a song by Songhoy Blues, a group from Mali. Imagine my surprise when, at the record store I spotted their album! I couldn't wait to get home and have a listen and I wasn't disappointed. If you think you might fancy an insistent mix of desert reggae, Hendrix style guitars, brass and funk then you need this record. This is definitely one of the musical highlights of 2017 thus far in my opinion.

Songhoy Blues - Bamako - https://youtu.be/xBujXJVBxNU

Look, I understand a musician needing to make a living, but some of the use of classic tracks behind advertising is getting beyond a joke. Let's remember Ronnie James Dio for his great songs rather than for in an ad for cars.

Dio - Holy Diver (live) - https://youtu.be/dO7tBeNHXyE?t=1m4s

More guitar practice shall now occur....after a bike ride and a listen to Sgt Peppers in 5.1 surround sound; I will report back on if it's any good!

I'll leave you with something released 30 years ago this week. Rock on!

Guns N' Roses - Welcome to the Jungle - https://youtu.be/o1tj2zJ2Wvg

See you all later,
Rob

Some songs definitely sound better in German...like this

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Baby Animals fanboy...

It was the early 90's and I was in my first rock band. It was so much fun and the fact that people actually came to watch us play AND enjoyed it was a revelation. We played fairly standard rock and roll covers and that endeared us to a few venues around the place so we had fairly constant work.

Always on the listen for something new and cool to play, we were blown away when Baby Animals burst onto the Australian music scene. "Early Warning" was such an amazing song and, given that we had a female singer, we covered it. 

Why did I love the band? Well, it was the energy, the great vocal delivery and of course the guitars. David Leslie's swirling, overdriven sounds were, and still are, such a huge influence on me.

Seeing the Baby Animals play live was simply awesome. The first time for me was at the ANU bar in Canberra and either late 91 or 92. The crowd was heaving, the band rocked hard and the music was just first class. I have memories of them ripping into a cover of Hendrix's, "Fire". During the show, one of my friends got to the front only to have his dodgy knee give way. He remembers ending up lying on his back directly under vocalist Suze de Marchi as she was singing and apart from the pain it's a gig highlight for him! By the time the show was over Sutto's knee was stuffed, Alison (my future wife) had lost two buttons from her shirt and an earring, and I'd lost my watch somewhere in the crowd. It was one of the best shows I've ever been to!

And I still think that Baby Animals are right up there with the best live bands I've ever seen. I wore my "God Shave The Queen" tour t-shirt for years.

This week I realized that Mr Leslie is in a music gear Facebook group that I am a part of. That's just so cool. It's easier to have my fanboy moment from afar though. I'm sure I'd be tongue tied if I actually met him. But if I did, I'd want to thank him for the years of enjoyment and inspiration that his music has given me.

Rob

Saturday, July 15, 2017

World Wide Woozle episode #419

Winter....winter is everywhere! With temperatures due to head back down to -7 degrees over the weekend there's only one way to cope and that is to rug up and embrace it. We're very lucky here in Canberra that the sun is usually out even if it is freezing cold. And when it comes to cycling you just need the right gear and attitude.

By the time Monday rolls around I will have had two whole weeks with no cycling. I've been pretty unwell and I'm doing my best to behave and get properly well before I venture out again...but it's boring. The upside has been a few days on my motorbike. Very much colder than cycling but fun all the same. It's also a good way to avoid paying for parking at work as well as the great unwashed on the bus.

For all of you following Le Tour de France how good was it to see Fabio Aru move into the leader's jersey and the race actually become interesting? I was seriously worried that it was just going to be a Team Sky processional lap of the country. Nothing at all against Chris Froome, I just want to see an interesting competition which we may now be blessed with.

ABBA - The Winner Takes It All - https://youtu.be/92cwKCU8Z5c

Musically I discovered a singer/guitarist called Chuck Prophet this week (thank you Spotify algorithms). If you like Tom Petty, Elvis Costello, David Bowie and Bob Dylan then Chuck may just be for you. He's got around a dozen solo albums to choose from. I started with the newest one, "Bobby Fuller died for your sins", and I haven't looked back as it's a real treat. One or two of the songs could be a bit lost on a non-American audience but that's a very minor issue. There's plenty of twangy guitars as well and it's load of fun!

Chuck Prophet - Jesus Was A Social Drinker - https://youtu.be/TTiRNRvoG1s

Broken Social Scene are a band that Kelowna's own DJ Kel-C introduced me to a few years ago now. Their new release (their first in seven years) has been getting a massive push on national radio here this week and it's worth a spin. 

Broken Social Scene - Hug Of Thunder (live) - https://youtu.be/RhYqAfCn3SA

DJ SlimRollins clued me into this track from Gary Clark Jr. this week. Another artist for me to investigate and listen to. I really appreciate it when people take time to recommend tracks and/or artists. I'll spend some time with Gary's music and report back at a later date.

Gary Clark Jr. - Bright Lights (live) - https://youtu.be/x_ZeDn-hHGE

I was in a car with a colleague this week and they were super excited when one of their favourite TV theme songs came around on the stereo. Do you have a favourite? I can think of some rather cool ones that I regard as iconic...here are four that I really like:

Theme from CHiPs - https://youtu.be/FPJAwHQj8SI

Theme from Battlestar Galactica (the original one) - https://youtu.be/vzyHxYxc-Mo

Theme from Dr Who - https://youtu.be/XZ1kRxgKft4

Theme from M*A*S*H - https://youtu.be/4gO7uemm6Yo

As many of you cannot have failed to notice, Midnight Oil are on a rather large world tour. Whether they have rekindled passion to play music or were just low on funds is a moot point really as many, many fans all over the place are overjoyed at the chance to see them play again. I'm not going though and there are two reasons for that. One is that tickets were simply very difficult to get. And the other is that I've seen them before not to mention watching endless live footage trying to work out which bits I should play live when we did our run of Oils tribute shows. What I do think is cool is that they are significantly varying their setlists. Lots of other big acts seem to play almost the same set night after night but not the Oils. They had one show at which they played the entire Diesel & Dust album in the middle of the show and another where then let loose with the complete Species Deceases EP. That kind of surprise would be simply amazing for real fans. I'm not greedy though, I'd be happy to see them playing just this song...

Midnight Oil - Cold Cold Change - https://youtu.be/8rJLpYRwDs8

John Mellencamp has a new song from the soundtrack to the National Geographic film, "From The Ashes". It's an old Merle Travis classic and John does his best to sound like Tom Waits on this great version.

John Mellencamp - Dark As A Dungeon - https://youtu.be/NaBglElgQ5w

That'll do this week. Places to go, people to see, Adele songs to learn...

Rob

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

World Wide Woozle episode #418

Hello there rock and roll brothers and sisters, we're back and it's not even the end of a week. The truth is that I'm off sick and rather than waste my day on the lounge binge watching something on Netflix, I've decided to head to HQ World Wide Woozle (aka the garage studio) to recommend some tunes for you. Any weird or seemingly random suggestions could be due to the cold and flu medication or simply just a reflection of my listening tastes at the moment. Are you sitting comfortably?

I recommend this list of 25 albums from the last 25 years from NPR. Whilst there are a couple of obvious choices in there for me there is also a lot to explore. Working my way through it I can say that Bon Iver is NOT for me, Death Cab For Cutie is a great name for a band but I really did expect heavy metal and Liz Phair is always cool. I'm a bit stuck on Ray La Montagne. Lots of reviews compare him to people like Steven Stills and Van Morrison but initially I thought he was just a talented Ben Harper fan with a good folk music collection. But I persevered and this song might just be the turning point for me...

Ray La Montagne - How Come - https://youtu.be/a5KZrYSfgic

The next band turned up on Double J radio the other day and really made me stop and listen. They are from Mali and refugees within their own country as a result of Sharia Law being imposed in the north. This is a catchy and relentless tune which also features Iggy Pop on vocals. Put this band down as one to spend some time with.

Songhoy Blues - Sahara - https://youtu.be/VrTXSrGYL7U

I like electronic music in very small doses. One or two Kraftwerk songs a year is generally enough. Every now and then though I hear something that has just the right feel to it. Not too "doof-doof", not too atmospheric and not a Pet Shop Boys ripoff. The next group is from Melbourne. I know nothing about them other than that I really enjoyed the tune. I still have visions of turning up to a show and seeing them just plug in a laptop and that's it...

Black Cab - Senses Wild - https://youtu.be/RgCJdTbUoiA

George is still doing his best to open my eyes to prog rock. I dunno though, if you think all AC/DC sounds the same then listen to a few Dream Theater albums and you'll quite possibly feel the same. H did give me an album by a UK band called TIlt to listen to. I liked it a lot. So much so that it's still in my regular playlist a couple of months later. What Tilt seem to manage is a nice combination of prog and classic rock sounds whilst avoiding a lot of the cliched progressions that I hear from other bands of a similar ilk.

Tilt - Strontium Burning - https://youtu.be/-ZJJ7jtlMHc

One of the things I really enjoy about the internet is that it lets noobs like me publish whatever I like. Sometimes people even read it too! For musicians it really is amazing. If you're a guitarist then there are a bazillion videos and soundfiles out there of people playing all sorts of things. Recently I stumbled across a whole lot of band videos recorded by PhilX who is currently in Bon Jovi. Imagine being able to play this well and putting it out there just for people to enjoy. Fantastic!

PhilX & The Drills - Superstition - https://youtu.be/59m6BoEVkng

A long time ago I introduced some of you to Irish band, The Answer. They came to be in my playlist as a result of their very, very cool cover of Rose Tattoo's, "Rock 'n' Roll Outlaw" I think that they're a great rock and roll band (both of them!). The Answer warrant more attention from anyone partial to gangs of long haired rockers doing their thing.

The Answer - Raise A Little Hell - https://youtu.be/_NJK5oaAa6U

If you haven't listened to the new Jason Isbell album yet then, seriously, get on with it. I'm really glad to see that it is charting well because that means he might come back to Australia to play and can also release more stuff into the future. It's not a rock album and it's not a country album. It's solid mix of the two with well penned lyrics. Jimbo Hart's bass is one of the absolute highlights for me. He rarely plods along on the root note and always adds an extra push to the songs. Get a copy now.

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit - White Man's World - https://youtu.be/nu4dupoC7EE

Finally, a quick word about Wonder Woman. DJ ZedBoots and I went along to see it a couple of weeks ago. Look, it's a fun action movie but I'm not sure that it's the triumph for women's rights that some commentators have suggested. When Wonder Woman can battle the forces of evil without having to strip down to leather underwear then we might be really getting somewhere. I guess Superman has his undies on the outside so I could just be being a little harsh. See it yourselves, it's worth the price of admission.

Stay tuned for exciting guitar amplifier news in the next few weeks....

Rob


Friday, June 2, 2017

World Wide Woozle episode #417

Here we go again folks...another episode where too much music is never enough.

If you want to skip straight to the songs and avoid my rambling then scroll down quite a bit...

So, the band is playing tomorrow (Saturday night) at Vivaldi's here in Canberra. As you all know, this iconic venue is being bulldozed and not replaced. It's very sad but it's going to happen and all we can do is rock our little hearts out in tribute.

When we played there a couple of weeks ago George mentioned that I was giving all of my gig payments for both shows to aid in the construction of some classrooms at Level School in Vanuatu. What happened next was quite shocking in that kindhearted people in the crowd gave us more money to put towards the cause. It ended up being a lot of cash and the difference this will make is amazing. Classrooms that don't blow down in a cyclone and that provide shelter from the rain are a decided advantage! I've already sent the cash in anticipation of the gig payments as my sister, Nancy, from Port Vila, is off to visit Pentecost next week and will organise the purchases for us. I could've spent my pay on guitar gear or some cycling equipment but I'd rather be broke and happy in the knowledge that a whole community will benefit from our hard work on stage.

I've started my new job and it's great. I won't bore you all with details of what I do but I should say that my new team has reached the gold standard in organising my induction process and they are simply awesome. The work is challenging in the best way and my bike can live in my office! The university environment is very, very different to anywhere I've worked before but I feel like I fit in here. I also know that there is a group doing some research to do with Vanuatu. At some stage I'll introduce myself. Maybe they'd like to send me to Pentecost to do some research for them - ha ha! I can dream can't I?

I went out with some friends this week to see the movie, "Le Ride". It's about the Tour de France event from 1928 that featured a team from down under. The guys in the film tried their best to retrace the complete ride on period correct bikes. Seeing them climb through the Alps and Pyrenees on a heavy bike with only one gear made me happy that I have a nice carbon fibre steed! The film tries hard to capture how brutal the race was including 160 mile stages and midnight starts but unless you've done some long rides you might not quite get it. The pain and suffering that riders in multi stage endurance events in is simply amazing.

For my first couple of days in the new job I caught the bus. This was only because I wasn't setup for having clothes and shower gear at work. The time I spent not only on the bus, but walking over to work gave me a welcome opportunity to listen to some new tunes that were in my Spotify playlist. I must admit that I got stuck on two albums because they really resonated with me. I did try to listen to other stuff but I kept going back to The Muttonbirds and The Beatles.

It's 50 years since Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was released. I've never really liked it and I don't know why. The re-release seemed like as good a reason as any to try again. OK, I agree, it's a pretty good album. I'm still not convinced that it's the most important rock and roll album ever but I enjoyed it. The extra tracks are pretty cool as well. I enjoyed being able to hear some of the parts that might normally be a lot lower in the mix. I also understand that meditation and gurus were in vogue at the time but the Indian sounds on "Within You Without You" just leave me scratching my head.

The Beatles - Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (take 1) - https://youtu.be/2RoA0QTZ-bM

The Muttonbirds are from New Zealand and I have no idea why I haven't paid them much attention in the past. If you like bands like The Lemonheads coupled with a definite Byrds and 60s influence then these guys might be right up your street. It's fabulous indie-rock with lyrics worth a listen. I've only listened to a greatest hits collection I'll admit but I will remedy that over the next few weeks.

The Muttonbirds - Wellington - https://youtu.be/SiN0HsEI9TA

Chris Cornell died recently. He had one of the truly fantastic voices of rock and roll. And whilst it's unclear if he took his own life or not, there's a massive, gaping chasm left behind by his passing.

Soundgarden - Fell On Black Days (live) - https://youtu.be/mlPDRCRePbQ

Audioslave - Cochise - https://youtu.be/KDMvN45sjo4

I've been having another go at reading "Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance". Sometimes I think I've got a handle on this book and at others I'm completely lost. It feels like the right thing to do to persevere though. It hasn't made me want to ride my motorcycle more...I get enough bad weather on the pushbike!

I'm going to finish off this week with a couple of songs that I found whilst looking for something else. The truth is that I was checking out anything I could find by the Traveling Wilburys that might not be on regular release. George Harrison seems like an easy connection to make but I have no idea where the Smithereens came from. In the end it doesn't matter because I liked the tunes.

George Harrison - Cheer Down - https://youtu.be/VI4xzwvaTWU

The Smithereens - Wall of Sleep - https://youtu.be/02kvX8f0zgQ

And on that note, dear listener, I'll leave you for now. Bikes to ride, gigs to play and all that.

Cheers,
Rob

And in the end, the love you take Is equal to the love you make

Saturday, May 13, 2017

World Wide Woozle episode #416

I'm not even going to pretend that this blog will go back to being regular. For the time being I'm going to revel in being wildly unpredictable!

First up, I've got a new job. I'm finishing in my current position on Thursday and after a few short days I start something new on the 24th of May. I'm heading to the Australian National University in a Human Resources position. It sounds like a good challenge and I'm very excited to be going there. Choosing to leave "Soldier On" has been difficult. I aim to be what they call an 'active volunteer' when I'm needed. I won't lie to you, working for a charity is very challenging. I am well and truly sick of people demanding that we do everything for nothing. Working to assist veterans, first responders and their families has been massively rewarding in many ways and I'm glad I did it. For Canberra based people, there's a rather fine coffee shop about 100 metres from my new office so after I've settled in please come and visit!

Cycling. Where do I begin? Last time I blogged I was recovering from a crash. I was seriously worried that I wouldn't be able to ride in the Pollie Pedal. Luckily, my body and the physio worked in tandem to get me right just in time. We rode just over 1000km in 8 days and it was an amazing experience. I made what I imagine will be lifelong friendships with the other seven Veterans who we took with us. We pushed other riders up miles and miles of huge hills. We saw wild brumbies between Talbingo and Cooma. And we all had days when we wanted to get off the bike and get in the van....but we didn't. What we didn't really expect was how busy we'd be. With the number of riders up to 50 each day we were all talking non-stop about Soldier On as well as riding, attending public events, speaking at dinners and with the media. The only time we really had to ourselves was when we were asleep or when we managed to sneak some time alone climbing a hill on the bike! The biggest day was 160km but the hills from Talbingo to Cooma made for the most challenging time. The Southern Highlands, when we got there, were amazing. I can, however, guarantee you that I have no desire to ever ride through central Sydney again. My fitness was just fine but I certainly lacked some top end speed and that's down to recovery time needed from the crash. It's almost returned now.

In music news, the band has been working hard on the two shows we have coming up (May 20th and June 3rd) at Vivaldis. These are the final two shows for this iconic venue as it is being demolished. Come along and see our show, "Burning Down The House". We're playing a selection of tunes from the many and varied shows that the band has done here in the past. So if you like Oils, Elton, Oz Rock, Beatles, Springsteen and simply having a good time then you shouldn't be disappointed. My fingers are so sore from all of the practice and I'm sure that the neighbours have heard one or two certain tracks far too often!

Tropical Cyclone Donna reached Category 5 but seems to have avoided major dramas on most of Vanuatu. Some of the very northern islands seem to have sustained significant damage but there isn't a lot of new from there yet. We haven't heard from our families on Pentecost yet; it looks like they got some strong winds and rain but nothing like TC Pam. Watching all of this play out with real time weather feeds was very difficult. I'd almost rather have been there to help out. My ni-Van sister, Nancy, did end up coming to Sydney a little while ago and Alison and I were able to take her to dinner and spend some time chatting. I was so pleased that Alison could meet her, it really made my day. 

So, Angus bought a car. It was a bit of a shock for all of us, especially as he's off to Canada in November for 6 months (at least). It's a Subaru so I guess it's like father, like son for first cars. Now he just has to learn to operate the manual transmission! If anyone out there wants to buy a second car give me a yell as we've got one for sale.

I'm so proud of Zoe and not for the reasons you might think. Yeah, yeah, her studies are going well and she's all about injections, drugs, dead bodies and vital signs but it's not that. What made me so happy was a message from her complaining that it was raining so hard that she couldn't ride her bike....followed up by one a couple of days later that the big hill on the way to work (11% gradient) was hard work. Is it possible? Another cyclist in the family? Do I dare dream it! Ha ha!

Finally, a big shout out to DJ Beck who is cycling professionally in the USA at the moment. I'm so excited to see her doing well and winning races. The podium places go well with the world championships and recent medals. Beck told me that she had a whole lot of previous blog entries of mine saved up to read and she was finally getting through them. After being in a bit of a writing funk, she inspired me to get to the keyboard. Thanks Beck!

I guess you want some tunes. I know I do.

Jason Isbell has a new album coming soon and according to him it's quite energetic. Here's the first single....

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit - Hope The High Road - https://youtu.be/ci-6Au1Gnrs

Alice Cooper is coming to Australia but the $180 ticket price has put me off. Sorry Mr Furnier, I've seen you before and at this price I won't see you again it seems. America; you should've listened to him in this clip. Could a golf fanatic, born again shock rocker be any worse that his royal orangeness?

Alice Cooper - Elected (live) - https://youtu.be/YrJxyv41m1M

I recently discovered the most recent Def Leppard album and only because their old stuff isn't on Spotify (due to a long standing record company dispute). It's a really good listen if you like their style of heavy rock. I do.

Def Leppard - Let's Go - https://youtu.be/EB7BeKwoYAs

I'll admit that I do hang around record shops looking for a bargain. My Scottish Granny would be proud! A few weeks ago I picked up one of my favourite albums on vinyl for a song. It's one I've had on CD and probably cassette too but never on LP record. One of the best from Irish folk punks, The Pogues, "Rum, Sodomy and the lash". Produced by Elvis Costello!

The Pogues - Sally MacLennane (live) - https://youtu.be/sh5gtGk9XZ8

And for those of you who are criminally unfamiliar with Elvis Costello it really would be remiss of me not to play this for you...

Elvis Costello - Jimmie Standing In The Rain (detour) - https://youtu.be/UJbwM-F0Nk0

Oh dear, I wonder if anyone else remembers this one? It came up on my suggested songs on Spotify the other day. Tons of fun!

Nick Lowe - I Knew The Bride - https://youtu.be/Kn1CXbf2xF8

DJ Guzbox put me onto this next band. I've got a couple of their albums doing the loop on my playlist at the moment. Interesting. See what you think.

Snarky Puppy - What About Me? - https://youtu.be/fuhHU_BZXSk

And lastly in q whirlwind of tunes here's one from DJ ThinRollins. He suggested the latest tracks from prolific US guitarist, Buckethead. I didn't realise that he had released over 300 LPs. All whilst wearing a KFC bucket on his head and a white mask; I kid you not.

Buckethead - Glacier - https://youtu.be/oyatFpkDH6g

Righto, it's bedtime and that's enough. I'll try and be back in your inbox or blog feed sooner next time. Write back!

Hoo roo,
Rob

Sunday, March 12, 2017

World Wide Woozle episode #415

In only a few days the football season starts (real football; the Australian Football League). Hooray! Angus and I, along with some good friends, went to see the Giants put North Melbourne to the sword in one of the pre-season fixtures on a perfect Friday evening here in Canberra. Although the pre-season competition is not always a great indicator of fortunes for the upcoming season it's always a lot of fun to get a win. This next track and associated footage never gets old. It takes me back to my childhood in football mad country Victoria.

Little River Band - Playing To Win - https://youtu.be/GbtiUrHUhRw

Last weekend, in a pain relief medication induced haze, I went to watch the band I usually play in at a gig. It may have been a combination of the drugs and the pain but I can assure you that it was a surreal experience. There was also almost as many current and former band members in the audience as there was on stage. I'm glad that I'll be back on guitar next time the band plays; watch this space and the band Facebook page here for details of some very special upcoming shows.

Spy vs Spy - Don't Tear It Down - https://youtu.be/gOeJshHFpPI

After the disappointment of a cancelled trip last year, my "sister" Nancy from Vanuatu will now be in Australia in a couple of weeks. Sadly her training course has been shifted to Sydney but Alison and I will be heading up to see her anyway. On Saturday I spoke with my "brother", Michael, who lives at Level on Pentecost. Sadly, phone calls to Vanuatu have doubled in price so I don't get to talk to him all that often. However, he was in fine form and reported that all were well and happy in their part of the world. If anyone knows a generous philanthropist who would like to fund me to go there for an extended period of time then feel free to get in touch!

Eurogliders - Heaven (Must Be There) - https://youtu.be/WHLxW-n-WT4

Last night (Saturday) I went along to see John Schumann, of Redgum fame, play a show here in Canberra. I wasn't really sure what to expect. I remember moving to Australia in 1983 and taking an instant like to their classic single, "I Was Only 19", when it was on heavy radio rotation. After that Redgum was one of the few bands that everyone in my family agreed upon. I also have strong memories of listening to their live album, "Caught In The Act", non-stop on cassette in 2000 as I travelled across the Simpson Desert as part of a mountain bike race. The short version is that John Schumann is an excellent performer. His voice is as good as it was all those years ago if not better. He played a wide range of old and new tunes and he's an excellent storyteller both in song and in between! I dodn't expect a version of Cold Chisel's hit, "Khe Sanh", but when John explained his reasoning it fitted nicely. Thanks to Scot, Sascha, Isabella and Ike for having me along. It was a musical high point for me and having the chance to shake hands with one of my heroes was pretty special...even if he was slightly distracted looking for a beer. Have a listen to what John has to say about "Khe Sanh"...and the reworded first line.

John Schumann & Hugh McDonald - Khe Sanh (live) - https://youtu.be/H-1bdGIM7BU

Try this one as well. The story John told of him singing this song at the funeral of an Australia soldier was extremely moving.

John Schumann & The Vagabond Crew - The Glass On The Bar - https://youtu.be/oGNJYDgJHKY

Italian punk rock outfit Giuda have a new single from their "Speaks Evil" album. I've been really enjoying their music for a while now and their songs, along with their fashion sense, never fail to make me smile.

Giuda - Bad Days Are Back - https://youtu.be/RSl6XjeSWo0

My recovery from crashing my bicycle seems to be coming along nicely. After a couple of weeks of pain, walking with a cane and no cycling I'm steadily improving. Walking is still frustratingly uncomfortable but yesterday's cycling adventure was pretty good. The new helmet is comfy as well as being brighter than a bright thing. Not long now until I head off, with work, for 1000km of riding in eight days. Woo hoo!

The Soup Dragons - I'm Free - https://youtu.be/_SpA6jECLuU

Bye for now,
Rob

Sunday, February 26, 2017

World Wide Woozle episode #414

Well that was an interesting week.

On Sunday I went cycling with a new group. About 25km into a 125km ride I got a puncture. Boring but it happens. What I didn't expect was that both my replacement tubes would be useless - the valves came out! I was left sitting on the side of the road waiting for Angus to come and pick me up. When I got home another tube did the same. I then went to the bike shop, got new tubes (a different brand) and kept riding. That sucked a lot but it was a doddle compared to what was in store.

Robben Ford - Born Under A Bad Sign - https://youtu.be/Gx6ztc8wbWk

On Monday morning Mick and I headed out for a leisurely pre-work ride. All was going well until I mentioned that we should take the path to the right. My communication skills were lacking however as I meant the next right turn, not the one we were at. Mick turned and I didn't and as a result I hit the ground hard smashing my hip and head into the concrete. After losing sight for a minute I decided it was time to get up and get off the path at least. Unfortunately my legs didn't agree - I couldn't move them and so I was stuck. I could certainly feel them though so that was a plus! To cut a long story short, Mick was awesome and looked after me, organised an ambulance, called Alison and kept the morning joggers at bay. I had a ride in the ambulance, the green whistle, a million x-rays and great treatment at the hospital. Eventually it was decided that I had no broken bones and that I could leave if I could bear my own weight. Stupidly I gritted my teeth hard and shuffled a few steps. Getting back to the car was hilarious with me dressed in a hospital gown with blood on it, shuffling in agony through the premises. Alison is sure that people thought I was making an escape bid. Well that was Monday and I'm still walking with a cane on Sunday. My right leg seems to have recovered but the left will take longer. It's boring and I must apologise to my family. Hopefully I'll be back to riding sometime during the week but I'm doing my best to be sensible. Oh, and for those of you who don't wear bike helmets...you would've regretted it if you were me. Low speed crash on a bike path and I whacked my head really, really hard. I can't imagine the damage I could've done without the helmet.

Real Life - Catch Me I'm Falling - https://youtu.be/OeysVlyC_us

DJ Zed-boots is all setup and ready for classes to start. It won't be long until she graduates and is off into the wide blue yonder in an ambulance (for all the right reasons unlike her Father). I'm super-proud that she did so well in her year of Engineering even though it turned out to be not for her. Achieving great marks in something you really don't like all that much is amazing. Meanwhile, at home, debate rages about what we can repurpose her room as. Ha ha!

Jebediah - Leaving Home (live JJJ) - https://youtu.be/byYE_f_aFCc

The band (without me) is doing another run of the Billy Joel / Elton John show that sold out on New Year's Eve. If you're interested then it's on March 4th at Vivaldi's and should be a great show. I might pop in and annoy...er...help Tim with the sound if I can stand up for that long by the weekend.

Billy Joel - Prelude/Angry Young Man (live Shea Stadium) - https://youtu.be/gJf7_5vH1WE

It's funny you know, I have a huge number of CDs but I can happily walk around the music shop and I know what I don't have and I can also usually put my hands on what I'm looking for at home. Until last week I was in the mood for a certain album so I went to the CD shelves to pull it out and it wasn't there....huh? I looked everywhere. And then I looked again. And again. It still wasn't there. Oh dear, either my mind is going or I've actually loaned it out (which seems very unlikely). So I cued it up on Spotify and went to the internets to look for a copy. What I discovered was far too much information on which version or pressing or edition is the one to buy. Seriously, it's just a rock album. I may close my eyes and point at the screen to choose. Sometimes too much information is just that; too much.

Judas Priest - Delivering The Goods - https://youtu.be/yLCAH9ZEkYk

The next track is brand new; released on 23/2. Luke Yeoward was the singer for an amazing NZ/AUS band called King Cannons. I've no idea why they split up but it's a travesty. Anyway, Luke crowd funded his forthcoming album and here's the first single. He has a great voice and if this is half as good as King Cannons it will be amazing.

Luke Yeoward - Ghosts - https://youtu.be/RVXLM15KBl0

And now, it's time for more pain relief and a nap. Catch you all on the flipside. This is cool and sad all at once...see what you think. Click here

Rob



Saturday, February 18, 2017

World Wide Woozle episode #413

I've had a bit of writers' block lately. I've been listening more to old favourites as well rather than new stuff. There is, however, something to be said for just getting back on the horse so here we are folks.

Jason Isbell - Outfit - https://youtu.be/BqOCOEdZ0uo

That's an old clip from Jason. He's a lot healthier and slimmer these days but the voice and the passion remain. The song, "Outfit", is from his days playing with Drive-By Truckers and to me has a clear nod to lyricists like Springsteen (The River). This one should be a Southern blue collar anthem. 

Politics across the world is in a dreadful state and it's getting worse. One country has a leader who spends more time watching TV and on Twitter than he does actually thinking about the consequences of his actions. And then there's the spineless, self-serving political establishment who just don't get that their juvenile schoolyard behaviour impresses no-one. Top that off with ill informed racists, bigots and hooligans and it's enough to drive you insane.

Neil Young - After The Garden - https://youtu.be/_Wj9P4x2YIM

I spent some money recently on a new (second hand) amplifier, CD player and speakers. The amp from 1973 has finally given up the ghost. If you're in Canberra and looking for some decent stereo gear at a decent price then head to Duratone in Phillip. I'd avoided the place for years because it sells seriously high end stuff but that turned out to be a mistake. This track is what I tested the speakers out with.

Dire Straits - Telegraph Road - https://youtu.be/dd3btVhwr48

Hopefully you've all caught up with the news that Midnight Oil have reformed and are heading out on a world tour. Having spent years now learning, playing and thinking about their music I thought I wouldn't want to go if they played again. Again I was wrong. I can't wait to see them hit the stage. I think the last time I saw the Oils play was in Brisbane on a stinking hot evening (indoors) in about 1999. Power and passion is a good way to describe their show.

Midnight Oil - Armistice Day - https://youtu.be/OzNubP9QAZQ

Weezer have four self titled album. One is blue, one green, one red and the latest one is white. Funny guys. The blue one is the classic with the Buddy Holly song on it and after that I guess I stopped paying attention until quite recently. The white Weezer album just sounds fantastic. It's like Weezer made my dream Weezer LP. See what you think...

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

The Dropkick Murphys are an awesome, high energy, celtic punk band from Boston. And although I really like their stuff the shouted vocals sometimes grate. They have a recent release called, "11 Short Stories of Pain and Glory" and I highly recommend it. There's also a really good "acoustic" concert recently released here

Dropkick Murphys - Paying My Way - https://youtu.be/ljNegCM2LTY

Lookout reasonably soon for some original recordings from the band. We've pretty much finished one track and have another four getting ready. We've also been working up some new cover versions with the intent of playing some shows before too long. No-one should be shocked that the range of cover songs is rather wide!

DJ ZedBoots has exited stage left for the next phase on the never ending adventure that is her life - studying to become a Paramedic. One could never accuse her of standing still! She left on Thursday and I miss her a lot. I hope Queensland is ready for her.

Little River Band - Help Is On Its Way - https://youtu.be/iq2WJ2r0NkM

I'm sitting here in my "studio" just browsing through the CDs thinking of something to close the show. I haven't played you any Steve Earle for a while and this seems like a decent song to leave you with.

Steve Earle - City of Immigrants - https://youtu.be/Mx-Ru2wQFNc

Thanks everyone, I'll be back one day soon with more.

Rob