Let me begin with an apology wrapped up in a public service announcement. This is a very long episode. You may need to take a break at some stage to avoid whatever the equivalent of bed sores are for blog readers. If you're listening through headphones or at high volume, remember to give your ears a break. After that, my advice is to fasten your seat-belt, ignore the person behind you and recline your seat, take a deep breath and join me on what Larry Mullen Jr. might describe as, "a musical journey".
Dixie Chicks - The Long Way Around - https://youtu.be/B1qgazBdKj8
I was fortunate enough recently to have the opportunity to listen to the remastered version of The Beatles' "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" in 5.1 surround sound. I'm happy for you to argue amongst yourselves about how The Beatles themselves intended the album to be heard. In the interest of balance, I will organise a mono copy to comment on sometime in the future. Very soon I will publish a track by track review of my thoughts for those of you masochistic enough to want to read that. Here today though I'll just make a few comments. The main one is that listening to a high quality audio source, through a great sound system is very much the way to experience this album in the 5.1 format. If you settle for even the high quality streaming option then you're missing out. I was unaware of how powerful the drum and bass work on the entire album is. If you'd told me previously that, "Being for the benefit of Mr Kite" was pushed hard by a pulsating and thunderous rhythm section I might've told you that you were dreaming. There's a wonderful clarity to the guitars on the title track that meant I heard nuances and even whole parts that I have never noticed before. The album seemingly gets louder as it goes on, almost like being at a really, really good live concert. If you want to feel as if you are actually standing in the middle of the studio as the Fab Four are playing these tracks then this is how to do it. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole album, even the sitar bits, and I will save my hard earned pennies to get the super-deluxe set that this is part of. Many thanks to Huitker Studios and also to the newly established 5.1 Appreciation Society for their part in making the review possible.
Billy Connolly - Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite - https://youtu.be/y02vRC0NZyg
I don't want to start an argument or offend anyone, but after Sgt Pepper's we listened to the surround mix of The Beach Boys', "Pet Sounds". Sure, it had some great moments but on the whole it was positively pedestrian in comparison to The Beatles. Not much tops this though...
Brian Wilson & Al Jardine - Sloop John B - https://youtu.be/eDZgl7H-coQ
Mick Jagger has two new tunes out. I quite like his solo stuff as a rule, it's generally more consistent than the Stones and also exposes more of his influences. The lyrics to these tracks are as important as his almost venomous delivery of them. Mick's quite adept at mixing up blues, disco and some drum 'n bass beats and it works.
Mick Jagger - England Lost - https://youtu.be/98gj0z0RkXE
I did a little bit of investigation into what critics and internet bores thought were really good pieces of music to listen to in 5.1 surround. I was surprised when the live AC/DC film, "Let There Be Rock; live in Paris" made one list. I've got it on DVD so I dragged it out for a look even though I don't have surround myself...yet. Apparently the band is pretty much in stereo and there are crowd noises etc. in the background. I guess that makes sense if the effect is to make you feel as if you are at the show. It's a good film but not a great concert. The guitars just don't sound right - a bit smooth and lacking AC/DC's bite. I'd recommend the film for fans but there are much more energetic and explosive performances on some of the live video box sets in production. You'd think that someone like Pink Floyd, Muse or even U2 would take full advantage of 5.1 surround in their live recordings....we'll see.
Pink Floyd - On The Turning Away (live) - https://youtu.be/GZLuDvN7W0c
Arcade Fire released a new album last week. I've not paid any attention to them in the past but for some reason I clicked a link and listened to this. I like it. It's fun, varied and if I was into dancing it would have me moving around easily. What's interesting is the very, very wide ranging reviews that it has garnered. They go all the way from those who love it to those who think that their ears will never recover from the distasteful experience. I'll have to listen to some of Arcade Fire's older stuff but, that notwithstanding, their most recent release, "Everything Now", is one I'll certainly check out again.
Arcade Fire - Everything Now - https://youtu.be/zC30BYR3CUk
I recently ordered some music to listen to and review. Imagine my surprise when I opened the package and among the CDs was a cassette. Yep, remember those? I blame the fact that I've been suffering with a dodgy sinus infection. Thankfully I do still have a rather nice cassette deck hooked up to the stereo out in the studio. The album in question is from Chuck Prophet who I played here a few weeks ago. I've been listening to and watching a whole lot of his stuff and it doesn't disappoint. I think he'd be really worthwhile seeing live although I imagine the chances of him coming to Australia are slim. For fans of Nick Lowe, Dylan and Elvis Costello.
Chuck Prophet - Post-War Cinematic Dead Man Blues - https://youtu.be/uDndukgT2t0
On Saturday night I'll play my last show with the band. Not because I'm leaving, but because it's the end for all of us. Plenty of other people have been in the group longer than me (I think I started in 2013) and as an entity it's more than 20 years old. All things must come to an end however and even though I'm sad about it I'll do my best to put on a stellar performance on Saturday night whilst enjoying myself. Touring up to Northern NSW, lounge room shows and of course rocking out at Vivaldi's are all highlights for me. The simple act of sitting in a lounge room or rehearsal space working on tunes can be stressful, exhilarating and fun all at once. It's why I like playing in a group so watch this space as I'll either find a new bunch of people to make noise with or shock you all with a solo release (it's coming along....). In my opinion you should always try and play with people who are musically more proficient than you. I've succeeded at that for years now and it motivates me to keep learning and practicing. If you're free on Saturday night you should come to the show. It's free and it'll be a lot of fun. Details on the band's Facebook page as always.
Warumpi Band/Midnight Oil - Blackfella Whitefella / The Dead Heart (live) - https://youtu.be/7N5ZsCGjUz0
I heard this next track during the week and it's a cracker. It's one I hadn't heard for ages and I'm not even sure that I ever knew who sang it. I've always thought that it sounded a bit like a cross between Weird Al, Tom Petty and Iggy Pop! I'm still not sure that I feel like an adult but....
The Pursuit of Happiness - I'm An Adult Now - https://youtu.be/PVL4GTeLN68
I've just taken delivery of Glen Campbell's final album, "Adios". As you probably all know if you've been paying attention in the past, Glen has Alzheimer's and no longer performs. There is an excellent film about his final recordings and tour which I have reflected on in the past. "Adios" is a good record, well worth a few dollars and it'll cause you to have a tear in your eye if you play it understanding the back story. But can I encourage you to look for Glen's album, "Ghost On The Canvas". It's the one that we all thought would be his last and to me anyway, it's far and away a better record than "Adios".
In this internet age we are very much spoiled with instant access to information, sounds and images. Sometimes though it is still a great feeling to indulge in a real book, LP or art display. AC/DC are releasing a coffee table book of photos from their most recent "Rock or Bust" world tour. I think I'll have to get my hands on a copy for the simple reason that Angus and I were there. I'm fairly sure it will have been their last outing and it'll be great to flick through. One of my prized possessions is the tour programme from The Razor's Edge World Tour which was the first time I saw them; load of cool photos and fun to look at every now and then. This book will make an ideal companion to that. By the way, the Dire Straits Brothers In Arms tour programme is sublime - thanks to DJ BeeDee for that one a long time ago!! Do bands still produce these? I don't know. I'm usually just focused on getting to my seat and remembering my hearing protection these days - ha ha!
AC/DC - Rock or Bust - https://youtu.be/_NdHySPJr8I
DJ GuzBox and I are waiting patiently to take delivery of my new guitar amplifier. You have to understand that it's being hand-made including custom coloured tolex and grille cloth so the wait will definitely be worth it. Tim knows his stuff in terms of sound so I'm hoping we can get together to record some sound clips of the glorious racket it makes for you all. For you guitar tech geeks out there, just put "VASE Tonesetter 18" into your favourite search engine.
Spinal Tap - The Majesty of Rock - https://youtu.be/RsOxgwF9LlM
Lots of TV shows use great music. I really like it when it's one you don't know that gets you foot tapping and head nodding. I had to track this tune down after hearing it playing during "The Blacklist" (Season 4 Ep 18). I hope you enjoy it. It's given me something else to explore and who knows where it might lead.
Fitz and The Tantrums - Dear Mr President - https://youtu.be/HrGq1Zmfnvc
Does anyone remember the British TV comedy, "It Ain't Half Hot Mum"? It probably can't be broadcast any more as a result of being quite politically incorrect. But if you're willing to accept that times have changed (mostly for the better), then there are some classic one liners and moments in the show that had me laughing a lot last weekend. Set in a British Army camp in India in WWII, it's essentially the story of a group of performers thrown together with an angry Royal Artillery Sergeant Major (is there any other type?) Look, it's better if you just watch a couple of short clips from a time when comedy wasn't all foul language and outrage.
Battery Sgt Major Williams - https://youtu.be/5y2WIOa7CEI
The Last Post - https://youtu.be/5tVQ6aSxr34
The advantage of using Spotify a lot is that their algorithms get better and better at recommending music based on my listening habits. That isn't to say that there aren't a few clangers but, to be fair, I rarely find myself having to skip tracks. These are a couple that popped up recently that I think are worthy of introducing you all to. Neither are artists that I know anything at all about, but both are very enjoyable. Probably more for listeners out there who like country or blues and roots music but I was listening to Slayer before these played and I didn't blink an eye.
Rodney Crowell - Nashville 1972 - https://youtu.be/vhZtiNXnCXE
Israel Nash Gripka - Louisiana - https://youtu.be/T-19bbgFn34
I used to write a lot about my family in this blog and it struck me that I've really been focused on the music recently. I'd hate you all to think that I was ignoring them or that they weren't important to me. The two young adults in my life are, in my opinion, very impressive. DJ ZedBoots is studying Paramedicine and regularly tells stomach churning stories involving IV drips, needles and gasses! She's also taken up karate, turned 21 and been on the TV. DJ Bogler is living the dream in terms of snow. He's working hard as a snowboarding instructor and then ripping up the slopes on his days off! It isn't long before he's off to Canada though for more of the same. Meanwhile he continues to love his Mum, his dog and his car. As for DJ Al-ee-sunshineofmylife; well she's started her own business, added some contracting work, can walk further than around the block and still loves kale. Good times.
The Ramones - We're A Happy Family - https://youtu.be/ZQlM59sDJVo
Finally, a shout out to DJ DJ. From all of the crew at HQ Woozle; we're very, very glad that you're OK my friend.