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 -

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) -

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 -

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) -

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 -

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 - 

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 -

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 -

Hoo roo,

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.


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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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) -

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 -

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 -

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) -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

Israel Nash Gripka -  Louisiana -

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 -

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,


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 -

Queens of the Stone Age - Misfit Love (live) -

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) -

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) -

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 -

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 -

Ice-T - I'm Your Pusher -

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 -

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 -

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) -

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 -

See you all later,

Some songs definitely sound better in 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.


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 -

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 -

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) -

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) -

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 are four that I really like:

Theme from CHiPs -

Theme from Battlestar Galactica (the original one) -

Theme from Dr Who -

Theme from M*A*S*H -

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 -

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 -

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


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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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....


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) -

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 -

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) -

Audioslave - Cochise -

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 -

The Smithereens - Wall of Sleep -

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


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 -

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) -

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 -

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) -

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) -

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 -

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? -

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 -

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,

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 -

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 -

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) -

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) -

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 -

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 -

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 -

Bye for now,

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 -

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 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 -

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) -

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 Tim with the sound if I can stand up for that long by the weekend.

Billy Joel - Prelude/Angry Young Man (live Shea Stadium) -

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 -

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 -

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


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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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


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) -

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 -

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 -

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) -

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) -

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 -

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,

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 -

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 -

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 -

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) -

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 -

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 -

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) -

Dire Straits & Hank Marvin - Going Home (live 1985) -

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


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 -

Velvet Revolver - Fall To Pieces -

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) -

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 -

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) -

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 -

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 -

Have a great 2017 folks.