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


Friday, January 13, 2017

World Wide Woozle episode #412

Welcome back to the WWW for episode #412. Please remember that if you get this the old school way, via email rather than via Facebook or straight to the website, that you can unsubscribe at any stage OK? Just let me know. I won't be offended, I'll just cry myself to sleep tonight on my huge pillow!

So I have survived a week away at Mollymook. Those that know me well will understand that I really don't like the beach at all. I never have and at my advancing age I can't see that changing. As a kid, the beach for me meant sticky black sand, hot car trips and being hosed off in the garden when you got home. However, Alison and I were very fortunate to have the run a friend's holiday house and it was super cool. We did very little and that was the whole point. Other than riding my bike up some rather large hills we read books, did a bit of walking and continued the search for decent cafes. I even walked on the beach a couple of times and it was quite pleasant (no wind makes a big difference). We also listened to a heap of music. I made a point of taking nothing new away with us, just the iPod loaded up with our entire collection to choose from. I spotted an old church for sale in Milton and as soon as we come up with the cash we're making a sneaky purchase and heading there to start a new life with our coffee, guitar and decluttering emporium...ha ha! I needed time away to relax and for the most part it was a big success. 

The Eagles - Peaceful Easy Feeling (live) - https://youtu.be/QHkU1obOWdY?t=3m32s

One of the books I read was about Father Bob Maguire. He's an interesting man no doubt and one who speaks his mind in a good way. If you have an interest, as I do, in why and how people do selfless things then have a read of this and you'll be exposed to a man who has made it his life's work. A very good read indeed. The book is simply called, "Father Bob". I particularly liked his philosophy on "BYO DIY religion".

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

One of the bonuses, or pitfalls depending on how you look at it, was that I had no phone/internet coverage whilst I was away. I could get a smattering of a signal if I went into town or up a big hill but that seemed to defeat the purpose of being on holiday. Other than wondering what my kids were up to I must admit that it was pretty good to be offline. I should do it more often. It does seem ludicrous though that 2 hours from the capital of the country and about the same from Sydney that I had no signal.

Travelling Wilburys - Not Alone Anymore - https://youtu.be/GKHqC9FnA-I

Cycling adventures at the coast are more suited to the mountain biking fraternity. Since I no longer have an offroad steed I packed the trusty Cervelo anyway armed with the advice of staying off the Princes Highway and being prepared for a lot of hills. And hills there were - in abundance! With no internet signal I was reduced to a real map to plan my rides. This was just as well as Google Maps has an annoying habit of drawing lines over the satellite image so that you have no idea if a road is sealed or not. I don't do off road on the Cervelo! My very average map reading skills did not cause any dramas though and somehow I managed to pick 50km of sealed back roads that were pretty quiet...other than the large number of other cyclists. I'm not sure I'd want to train on those roads all the time as there is very little flat riding to be had but I did enjoy the downhill sections quite a lot and my sore legs told me that the uphill bits were challenging enough. More hills required!

Bruce Springsteen - Stayin' Alive (live) - https://youtu.be/4n1GT-VjjVs

People die all the time; I may have said this before and it's a simple fact. But some make more of an impact than others. I could go on and on about those who have passed away recently but others more eloquent than I have probably done that a little bit too much. But I want to mention two. Firstly David Bowie. It's now a year since his light went out and for many it's still raw and very recent. If you haven't seen this entire concert then you must - it's your homework! In terms of live music concerts on film it's second only to Iron Maiden's "Live After Death" in my opinion.

David Bowie - Rebel Rebel (live) - https://youtu.be/eF551z9KlA8

The other person who went far to early was my mate Glenn. He left us on 14 Jan 2010 whilst out riding his bike. RIP mate; you're missed by so many.

Chris Cornell - Wave Goodbye - https://youtu.be/byKW7JWNg24

Back to work next week I guess. I think the only thing that I miss now about being a teacher are the holidays!

Hoo Roo,
Rob

Hmmm....what to leave here for those adventurous souls willing to click here.....try this. Someone out there will understand why.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

World Wide Woozle episode #411

Gud moning. Olsem wanem? (good morning, how's things?)

Yesterday I had a rather enjoyable trundle around the Cotter/Uriarra loop with Roger and Andy. That is until my gears stopped shifting properly. It's pretty hilly out there and I can't say that I enjoyed not having access to the easiest gear whilst climbing. Apparently bicycles are fairly simple mechanical pieces of equipment. Armed with YouTube tutorials, instructions, tools and a healthy dose of confidence I decided to adjust the gears myself last night. This morning my bike is at the shop for the professionals to deal with it. Will I ever learn? Probably not.

Luxembourg - Sick of DIY - https://youtu.be/IBScLoplDnw

Going back to work right at the start of January is always interesting. You'd think that there would be a little quiet time that could be used for planning, getting control of the inbox and generally setting up for the year ahead. Not so it seems. Week 1 of 2017 was as busy as usual. Luckily DJ Jewel-E sent me photos from her days at the cricket to make me smile.

Giuda - Working Class Man - https://youtu.be/zFmZnAFW2_c

The rock musical, "Rock of Ages", remains one of my favourite films. If you need a laugh and a good singalong then it's tops. There are quite a few cool cameos in it including Debbie Gibson, Nuno Bettencourt and Sebastian Bach. But there was one guy I kept seeing who I was sure I knew. After watching live footage of the stage show, as opposed to the film, I spotted him in there as well. Joel Hoekstra plays guitar in the stage show as well as with bands like Night Ranger and Trans Siberian Orchestra. He's the guy in the next clip with the Les Paul Goldtop guitar. How much fun would it be playing all those classic rock bits in "Rock of Ages"??!

Night Ranger - Knock Knock Never Stop - https://youtu.be/-QuwO05QABM

Cold Chisel recently released the third in a series of live recordings. This one is from 1980 at the Manly Vale Hotel. The sound is really good quality and Chisel were a great live band who usually avoid the three or four chord repetition that some pub rock relies on. There are some bum notes and rough bits but this is a warts and all live gig played by musicians on real instruments. No-one was turning up to see a guy and his laptop.

Cold Chisel - Home & Broken Hearted (live 1980) - https://youtu.be/_xtrTc-q14o

A few years ago we went to see Russell Morris play. His alsum, "Van Diemen's Land", was a recent release and it was a cracker (and well promoted). Anhyoo, the gig was fantastic and the album remains one of my firm favourites. I spotted the vinyl version on sale yesterday and just couldn't resist. Russell is a great story teller and lyricist and there's always something to think about or look into after listening to his songs.

Russell Morris - Van Diemen's Land - https://youtu.be/V2O8upNpo-0

I have to say that $40 for the latest Billy Bragg LP was a bit steep. It's still on the rack at the shop.

Sting has a new album. Well released in November last year so still pretty new. To tell the truth I'm not sure I even gave it half a moment's thought as I didn't really think I needed to listen to his more recent brand of relatively slow, bland, ethereal music. It's his thing and I get that but it's not for me. "57th & 9th" isn't like that. There are quieter songs sure but Sting lets it rip a few times in a way that really makes me tap my foot and remember his rock and roll pedigree. Lovely blue Telecaster in there as well....

Sting - I Can't Stop Thinking About You - https://youtu.be/ZtEIuz71tEk

I sold a guitar. Yeah, yeah, I know I said I wouldn't do it again but I did. The rather gorgeous Reverend V shaped guitar has gone. It has a new home in Geelong and the guy I sold it to, who it turned out that my Dad knew, is very happy with it. So, I've been saving hard as well and it's almost time to start looking for something else and I'm going to be super choosy as I'm in no rush. I love my black Stratocaster so much that it hurts. IT's the best electric guitar I've ever played and my other axes rarely get a look in. But I've always loved red guitars. SGs, 335s, Strats in red or cherry, they're the best. I'm going to hunt down a late 80s or early 90s red USA Stratocaster if I can; pretty much the doppelganger of my original electric guitar. It has to be special, it has to feel right and it has to sound, well, like a Strat should. Strats quack on the bridge pickup and have the famous "woman tone" at the neck with everything in between. Let the madness begin! If you want to know who to blame for this red obsession then watch some videos with Mark Knopfler, Gary Moore, Jimi Hendrix or Hank Marvin in them...

Dire Straits - Sultans of Swing (live 1979) - https://youtu.be/AaAE33rMTSk

Dire Straits & Hank Marvin - Going Home (live 1985) - https://youtu.be/SyyxOxjT4qQ

That's it for another episode. Keep smiling and rock on brothers and sisters!

Rob

Need more? Click this. One of the best versions of this song ever.


Monday, January 2, 2017

World Wide Woozle episode #410

2016 is gone and good riddance I say. On a personal level there hasn't been much more difficult during my 45 revolutions of the sun than the combined events of the last year. 

I was pretty chuffed to reach my target of averaging 1000km a month on the bike. In the end I made it to 12,178km which is a bit less than in some previous years but more than good enough considering I had 3 weeks overseas, some time off sick and it also rained an amazing amount for Canberra! My goal for 2017 is to keep up the distance whilst trying to ride more often with other people. In the last four years I've clocked up just over 50,000km and the majority of it has been by myself.

One of the things I enjoy most about time off work is the opportunity to read. Usually there is so much going on in my head that I can't read for enjoyment and instead throw on some headphones to listen and relax. The local library allows us to "borrow" books electronically so I've read a few ebooks as well as the real thing. At the moment I'm reading the fifth book in Spike Milligan's WWII collection after spotting it on a bookshelf at work. The first three deal with his time in uniform during the war in North Africa and Europe and are frankly hilarious. His descriptions and stories are just priceless. Book four remains a mystery to me as I've never seen it. Knowing Spike it doesn't really exist and this is a huge joke designed to keep me scouring second hand bookshops. The fifth book is about him travelling through parts of Europe immediately post WWII whilst appearing with a band. Probably not as side splittingy funny as the first three but it still has its moments.

I've just finished Duff McKagan's autobiography, "It's So Easy". Duff plays bass guitar for Guns N' Roses as well as Velvet Revolver and Loaded. I'm not a huge GnR fan but I thought I'd give the book a chance anyway and it turned out to be worthwhile. Along with the now seemingly standard 80s heavy rock band antics Duff writes well about his journey to sobriety, family and now success that he actually remembers and enjoys. The story of him destroying his body with drink and drugs and then finally turning all of that around through martial arts, mountain biking and education is pretty inspiring to tell the truth. If you're a Gunners fan then read the book for quite a deep insight into the machinations of the band. If you're just interested in people and the human experience then read it too. I think one of my favourite bits is Dave Dederer (the guitarist from Presidents of the USA - remember them?) helping Duff learn to write essays to get into college.

Presidents of the USA - Peaches - https://youtu.be/VvcohzJvviQ

Velvet Revolver - Fall To Pieces - https://youtu.be/9JhsUFuqbCM

Whilst I sat out the Billy Joel / Elton John show that the band put on for New Year's Eve, George made sure I had plenty of music to listen to. Knowing that I really don't have much time for Phil Collins, the second Genesis album, "Trespass" was included. I'm giving this one a long time to seep into my consciousness though. The few reviews I've read of it are quite divergent and this leads me to believe that it's definitely an LP worth persevering with. Watch this space I guess.

I was saddened by the death of actor William Christopher who was of course most famous as Father Mulcahy in the Korean War TV show M*A*S*H. People die all the time and remember folks, it's natural, but that doesn't mean it's not a downer. Christopher's portrayal of the padre who loved boxing and had a strong sense of what was right and wrong was very much an integral part of M*A*S*H. Whilst Hawkeye was often the outraged, outspoken and over the top anti-war crusader, Mulcahy was the quiet moral compass within us all.

Here's a quick movie review of Captain America: Civil War. In two words, "don't bother". What a waste of screen time and CGI. The film looks great but the storyline is dreadful. Compared to other Marvel films it is a stinker. I just got around to watching Ant-Man and it was a million times better.

I was very fortunate to receive an original vinyl copy of KISS' LP, "Hotter Than Hell", from DJ Al-ee-sunshine for Christmas. What's amazing is that although the cover shows the wear of about 30 years the record itself, seems almost unplayed. It's been played now and it sounds great all these years later. It was interesting to read that in all the cover photos of Ace Frehely his makeup is airbrushed on as he'd injured himself in a motor accident close to the photo shoot.

KISS - Hotter Than Hell (live 1975) - https://youtu.be/EQi0ilHkOMQ

Neil Finn & Paul Kelly got together a while ago for a live concert where they combined their talents. I was sceptical and I needn't have been. Whilst I understand that Paul's voice and Neil's Beatle-esque songs may not be for everyone, this is a well recorded and enjoyable live performance by a couple of bonafide legends obviously having a good time. The energy and enjoyment shine through in the delivery of the songs. I think there is a DVD of this as well so I might have to track it down. 

Neil Finn & Paul Kelly - Four Seasons In One Day - https://youtu.be/YTU5gkYa7_4

According to Jason Isbell, the previous song is about his Netflix viewing habits! The good news is that he's about to return to the recording studio to lay down a new album. Woo hoo!

Jason Isbell - Something More Than Free (Live at the Grand Ole Opry) - https://youtu.be/fVP4PqcfOck

Quite a few of my friends have written books and quite successfully at that. A couple of weeks ago I was trying out the ebook app from the library and ended up with. "The Best Music Writing Under The Australian Sun", edited by Christian Ryan as well as, "RockWiz Decades", by Toby Creswell. The collection edited by Ryan was very patchy but a particular piece about a man and his wife at a concert interstate during a family crisis caught my eye. The RockWiz book, however, is fantastic with short pieces about a whole heap of songs that mean something for a huge range of reasons. So I'm inspired and I figure if I put it out there in public that I might just get on and write something about music, gigs and guitars that have had an effect on me. In the end I know that very few people will read it but the fun is seeing if I can cobble something together that is coherent and even half interesting. After writing a few things down I've been fortunate enough to receive some constructive feedback and I'll take it onboard and keep on typing. I'm eternally grateful that, in 1985, my school was forward thinking enough to make us all learn to touch type!

Belle & Sebastian - Wrapped Up In Books - https://youtu.be/iBU-MxydbWQ

Finally, George Michael; dead at only 53. You may or may not agree with all of his life choices but there's no denying that he had an amazing voice. There are quite a few stories emerging about how he was, very quietly, a very generous man and that's something that really warms my heart at a time like this. RIP George.


And here's George with Queen from a while back. No-one else even comes close to Freddie Mercury but this is sublime.

George Michael and Queen - Somebody To Love - https://youtu.be/LjZ9Qny7Z28

Have a great 2017 folks.

Rob