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 - https://youtu.be/9qZZ01RFf_Q

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 - https://youtu.be/V57eqtN2K7E

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 - https://youtu.be/xB2fhqO2Mb4

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 - https://youtu.be/hll2kQXloz4

Armored Saint - Win Hands Down - https://youtu.be/MA-C8_zgLXo

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 - https://youtu.be/eS7uMy8z6i4?t=2m5s

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) - https://youtu.be/P67qfkhBy1E?t=4m34s

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 - https://youtu.be/KodNFsP6r88

Stay dry folks,

Rob

"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 - https://youtu.be/oi5YGnr4VlI

AC/DC - Meanstreak - https://youtu.be/85XOuzSk9dY

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) - https://youtu.be/2m961waDa_8

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

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) - https://youtu.be/5-oz9leEoI0

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 - https://youtu.be/J9oo1zVmxDg

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) - https://youtu.be/Mx-Ru2wQFNc

Have a great weekend,
Rob

"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 - https://youtu.be/aUB1VPjLGvk

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 - https://youtu.be/o5PDIAvDY_I

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, "Live...in 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 - https://youtu.be/-VvfAfwS9k8

W.A.S.P. - Inside The Electric Circus (live) - https://youtu.be/NddMWTWoQ2Q

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) - https://youtu.be/iU9f_MUBCSs

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 - https://youtu.be/GTjcQQFZVSU

See you next time,
Rob


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

This space intentionally blank.

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