Friday, January 19, 2018

World Wide Woozle episode #434

Today I read a list of "The Top 10 Heavy Metal Albums for 1988". It was interesting. In 1988 I was in my final year of high school and Heavy Metal music was a rather large part of my life. As I read the list though I reflected that the albums that really mattered to me at that time were, not surprisingly, from the previous few years. Here are the ones that I played non-stop and a few comments. If you're not a metal fan then you may wish to skip forward - look for the ****.

Aerosmith - Permanent Vacation (1987)
I bought this album on the strength of the "Dude Looks Like A Lady" video clip which I guess I saw on MTV. I'd certainly not had any exposure to the band prior with the exception of their collaboration with Run DMC. "Permanent Vacation" is very much a comeback album for Aerosmith and plenty of fans and critics think that it is patchy. Personally I like it as a complete listen from start to finish. It flows well and I never thought that there were any dud tracks. It was an excellent introduction to the scratchy guitar style of Joe Perry. Track: Dude Looks Like A Ladyhttps://youtu.be/nf0oXY4nDxE

The Cult - Electric (1987)
I bought this album for two reasons. One was that I'd heard the "Love Removal Machine" single and the other was that the cover art was awesome! This is one of my favourite albums of all time. The Cult, produced by Rick Rubin, are a stripped down, AC/DC style version of themselves and it really resonated with me. We could've done without the dreadful guitar solo on their cover of "Born To Be Wild" but the rest of the album is strong. Of course, a more "Cult" sounding version has since appeared and it's almost as good. But the 1987 release of the album, to me, was about as honest as rock and roll could get without having Angus and Malcolm on guitar. Track: Wildflowerhttps://youtu.be/_NxrphVL7bQ

Def Leppard - Hysteria (1987)
I'll be honest here. This album did absolutely nothing for me to begin with. My taped copy sat on a shelf for quite a while until MTV came to the rescue - yes, video clips were important! After seeing "Animal" on the telly I returned to the album and it all clicked. I guess I wasn't used to their almost overproduced sound. These days "Hysteria" is an absolute classic having sold over 25 million copies and spawning 7 hit singles. Now I prefer earlier Def Leppard as it has a tougher sound but at the time, this was a killer album. Track: Armageddon It - https://youtu.be/YI6Ms0b4q-4

Guns n' Roses - Appetite for Destruction (1987)
This album isn't one I love. I bought the single for "Sweet Child of Mine" and the 12" of "Paradise City" and I almost wore them out. The rest of the album didn't do anything for me at all until a few years later when they released "Use Your Illusion" I and II. I thought that those were a bit ho-hum and as a result had a listen to "Appetite for Destruction" in a different frame of mind. I liked it but still wasn't a huge fan. That happened a couple of years ago. These days I think it is a stellar album and amazing for a debut. It has the swagger of Rose Tattoo and Thin Lizzy combined with the power of Iggy and the Stooges. Track: Welcome To The Jungle - https://youtu.be/o1tj2zJ2Wvg

KISS - Crazy Nights (1987)
Another album sale that the band owes to MTV. Gene Simmons' bass with the flame thrower attached was a winner. The title track is a great song full of energy and the "you're all part of this" vibe that KISS had. The rest of the songs are probably never going to set the world on fire (ha ha) but it's a solid group and they work well together. Bruce Kulick on lead guitar is awesome as well; shame he isn't still in the band. "Crazy Nights" is an unashamedly stadium rock album and it never fails to make me feel good. Track: Crazy Crazy Nights - https://youtu.be/8g4ygMGXU7Q

Manowar - Fighting The World (1987)
I wish I could remember who gave me this LP to make a cassette copy of because I'd thank them profusely. It's loud, it's fun and the vocals and guitar work are superb. The lyrics to "Blow Up Your Speakers" which are about radio and TV not playing good music made a lot of sense to me back in the the late 80s. We were lucky to have a community station that played a heap of good stuff though. MTV might only play one or two hard rock tracks a night. I've listened to a lot of other Manowar albums over the years and none affect me like this one. Track: Defender - https://youtu.be/-AMi-vCfAWw

Metallica - The $5.98 EP (1987)
The story goes that Metallica had just recruited Jason Newsted on bass and wanted to punch out some tracks with him prior to recording a full album. So, depending on who you believe they either built a small studio or rented one, and recorded an EP of cover songs. This was my first foray into Metallica's music and it's a lot of fun. Indeed, when "...And Justice For All" was released a year later I was a bit confused as it was nothing like this EP. It didn't cost $5.98 in Australia but it was still cheap. No doubt that appealed to the Scotsman in me as well! Track: Crash Course In Brain Surgery - https://youtu.be/xZcZ2ndsYI4

Motley Crue - Girls, Girls, Girls (1987)
"Theater of Pain" (1985) was probably my introduction (other than KISS) to the glam side of heavy metal and it's a great album. "Girls, Girls, Girls" is heavier and a bit tougher on the whole. The video clip for the title track was risque at the time and positively tame these days. Look; motorbikes, leather, girls, studs and guitars was an excellent combination. "Dr Feelgood" would follow this album and make the band huge stars but "Girls, Girls, Girls" is probably them at their best in my opinion. They aren't hungry for success the way they were on previous release but they aren't huge celebrities just yet. Track: Wild Side - https://youtu.be/6nm1BJPe-pg

Bon Jovi - Slippery When Wet (1988)
In my opinion, Bon Jovi are a completely different band these days and I don't like them. "Slippery When Wet", however, is a top notch hard rock album. It was the first one of theirs that I was aware of as well. A stream of hit singles ensured its success. I remember being so excited that I could play "Wanted Dead or Alive" on my acoustic guitar and it sounded right. Bon Jovi looked like a band having fun making good music. Springsteen-esque lyrics and melodic hard rock. Track: Wild In The Streets - https://youtu.be/LPa1HswSc2o 

Europe - The Final Countdown (1988)
I had this album on the other side of the cassette to "Slippery When Wet" and as such I always associate both bands with each other. Europe, their mega-hit notwithstanding, rocked hard and used cool video clips to ensure album sales. They're still around but never had the success of this album again. They keyboards on this album sound a bit dated and cheesy now but they worked well at a time when having them in a metal band could be tantamount to treason! Track: Rock The Night - https://youtu.be/ELtpTBf-pMU

Stryper - To Hell With The Devil (1988)
When I became a fan of Stryper I had access to copies of this album as well as their 1986 release, "Soldiers Under Command". These days I prefer "Soldiers" but "To Hell With The Devil" still has a place in my heart. I remember thinking that this was a metal band who could really sing! There were soaring guitars and harmonies as well. I wasn't in it for the religious message; I just liked the fact that these four guys in bumblebee suits rocked out. I'm still a fan of the band to this day. Track: Calling On You - https://youtu.be/qT-kYZWrHag

Van Halen - 5150 (1988)
The first album that Van Halen recorded with new vocalist Sammy Hagar is, for me, one of their best. I'd been a fan of their first album (self titled from 1978) for a little while due to a couple of friends playing it non-stop. But this was a different Van Halen. Maybe one that had grown from playing backyard parties to playing sold out stadiums. It's probably their only album that I still play from front to back without skipping anything and that says something. Track: Summer Nights - https://youtu.be/NqG7hXwXXv4

There you go. There were plenty of other releases in 87/88 that I grew to enjoy later on but those are the ones I listened to at the time.

****
For those of you waiting patiently to see/hear the new Junk Sculpture track you can rest assured that it's almost here. Final touches are being done to the audio mix and the clip so watch this space. George and the boys have more recording planned for 2018 and I'll keep you all in the loop.

Last week I played a track by Father John Misty. I've been listening to a lot of his stuff this week and I'm really impressed. It's like a most bodacious mix of Elton John and Bob Dylan. Highly recommended. This track is 13 minutes long - treat yourself.

Father John Misty - Leaving LA - https://youtu.be/WfnXM_DmEzo

Other than that I've been doing my best to immerse myself in the music of The Pogues and conduct an investigation into the Progressive Rock genre. The Prog stuff is taking a bit of work as it's a bit nebulous as to what actually is and isn't included. To me Pink Floyd were once an experimental noise band who became a rock band. But apparently they are Prog. Jethro Tull too. I thought they were folk rock. Bands like Dream Theater are as much metal to me as they are prog. The obvious ones like Yes, Rush and Camel challenge me mainly in a rhythmic sense and who knows how Frank Zappa fits in. I'll keep working on it.

The Pogues - Dirty Old Town - https://youtu.be/122isznJdto

Jethro Tull - North Sea Oil - https://youtu.be/jAgfxRQldAc

That'll do for now. Have a great weekend. Rock on brothers and sisters!

Rob


Saturday, January 13, 2018

World Wide Woozle episode #433

Lots and lots of music this week folks. The radio has provided a heap of inspiration.

You Am I have released a live album called, "All Onboard". It was recorded in 2017 and with sixteen tracks you get a fair swag of their material. I think it sounds good and the band is in fine form. That's in stark contrast to the last time I saw them in, ahem, 1994 at the Livid Festival in Brisbane. They really were terrible that day in my opinion but I guess everyone is entitled to a sub-par performance once in a while! I remember DJ Laff and I looking at each other, shaking our heads and heading over to another stage to get a good position to watch The Cruel Sea. They were magnificent that day by the way. Anyhoo, You Am I's live record is well worth a listen. If you want a physical copy then it's only available on vinyl via their website. You can get a download or listen via Spotify too.

You Am I - Rumble (live 2017) - https://youtu.be/SD6X-RMkqi4

Depending on when you read this, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club will or won't have released their new album, "Wrong Creatures". It's due to hit on 12 January. This is a band that wins my award for a moniker that makes no sense. Would you you expect moody, reverb drenched, spooky and beautiful music from a band with a name like that? No? Neither do I. This track is from their latest release and I've pretty much described it already. I like it. It's almost like a quiet version of the band Glasvegas.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Haunt - https://youtu.be/0CCxuxBQmpk

It's always cool for me to hear something new and then find out that the band is Australian. Tropical Zombie are a six-piece from the NSW north coast. They list one of their influences as The Sunnyboys. Mix in sounds from bands like The Radiators and maybe some Australian Crawl and you might see why they call their music "holiday rock". Great clip!!

Tropical Zombies - Call The Police - https://youtu.be/X2wJ74Tp32A

I'm happy to admit that when The Cranberries were making hits I didn't like them much at all. These days I'm not sure why that is. Maybe they were just too popular and I ignored them as a result. This track was on the radio today and caught my ear. What a great voice and a cool tune.

The Cranberries - Dreams - https://youtu.be/tONsedTRCD4

With the release of Judas Priest's fantastic new single, "Lightning Strike", I took stock of the hard rock and metal that I'd been listening to. And I realised that in the main I'd been sticking to my favourite artists as well as exploring some older bands like Diamond Head and Demon. This just won't do and I'm looking out for more newer groups. I watched a documentary about session musicians a few weeks ago which featured this next band. Add to that the recommendation that was sent to me as well and as a result I put the band "Five Finger Death Punch" into my Spotify search function and went from there. Not a great band name in my opinion but finding that it is inspired by a martial arts movie makes some sense I suppose. It's muscular hard rock with an insistent beat and great vocal delivery. The guitars are brutal without being detuned and sludgy. The other thing is that the band don't just pound ahead mindlessly. The lyrics are often well thought out and worth thinking about. They also understand how slower songs work and blend them well. Worth a shot I reckon.

Five Finger Death Punch - I Apologize - https://youtu.be/OzvasAJIHb4

Judas Priest - Lightning Strikes - https://youtu.be/CUzcxJNZKC4

In terms of sonic popular music perfection you'd have to look hard to go past Simon and Garfunkel. Check his out recorded live in 1966. One guitar, two voices, one microphone.

Simon and Garfunkel - I Am A Rock - https://youtu.be/ealhxti03pk

Yesterday I got home to find a 12" single on my doorstep. That kind of thing needs to happen everyday - so cool! DJ Steve had left me a copy of Gary Moore's 1983 single, "Hold Onto Love". It's classic heavy rock mode Gary before he went down the blues pathway.

Gary Moore - Hold Onto Love - https://youtu.be/7-Q04zfY_i4

Fast Eddie Clarke passed away yesterday. He's most famous for his time as the guitarist in Motorhead. He appears on their first six records (Motorhead, Overkill, Bomber, Ace of Spades, No Sleep 'til Hammersmith and Iron Fist).  Sadly, there are now no members of the classic Motorhead lineup alive as Lemmy and Philthy both died in 2015.  Fast Eddie Clarke also played in a band called Fastway who did the soundtrack for an 80s movie that I loved at the time called "Trick or Treat". RIP.

Motorhead - No Class (live 1981) - https://youtu.be/r2UT1sTCLJY

Fastway - Trick Or Treat - https://youtu.be/taV_qfVYnrg

The radio also threw this artist up during the week. The song played caught my interest because I was surprised that the station in question would be playing Elton John. I liked the tune a lot and after a quick glance at the radio's display found out that it was an artist called Father John Misty. I'll leave it to you to decide about the voice and the Elton influence but I think it's fairly clear. Josh Tillman (the singer's real name) was once in the Fleet Foxes as well. I think it's a safe bet that there will be a fair bit of his music on my playlist for a while.

Father John Misty - Total Entertainment Forever - https://youtu.be/VHCqS8X_-EY

Father John Misty - Only Son Of The Ladies Man - https://youtu.be/2PvcmhKRGeY

Have a great weekend.

Rob

Friday, January 5, 2018

World Wide Woozle episode #432

Happy New Year listeners! Things are definitely looking up for me in 2018 and I hope you're the same. You can't change the past anyway so either accept it, embrace it or draw a line under it and get on with living your life.

That might sound like a pithy, throwaway line from a self-help website but I mean it. Looking back over the last few years I am shocked at the number of people I know that have passed away; and not as a result of old age. The death, in late 2017, of my Aunt really hammered things home for me and I decided that life was too short to hang around waiting for tomorrow. Watch this space for some changes coming soon. And don't worry; I'm not about to stop washing, grow my hair and move to a commune. Probably because I don't have any hair and I like being clean.

Rollins Band - Do It - https://youtu.be/8xSFi-Tn2_g

Christmas disturbs me. More and more, it has become about excess, greed, gluttony and money. It's an opportunity for retailers to maximise profits. It's the time when we feel compelled to give gifts to people we hardly know who really don't need another box of chocolates or a book about how to survive the apocalypse armed with only sellotape, string, matches and a tin of baked beans. I like getting presents. I like giving them too but there's a limit. This year DJ Declutr and I set a quite modest limit for the gifts we would give each other. We both gave, and received cool things that are definitely NOT headed straight for landfill. I guess you could say that we became more mindful about the whole thing. We also agreed with some family members that, you know what, we really didn't need gifts from them any more. Instead, we'd maybe donate to a charity instead. Sounds simple I know but these aren't always the easiest conversations to have. And in a country with an obesity epidemic, the tradition of eating so much over the Christmas and New Year break that your belt and wallet hurt is simply disgusting. Enjoy your food, eat some treats but maybe you don't need to have a third helping just to finish off the plate of turkey and ham. So, "what is Christmas about Rob?" I hear you ask. Well, for me it's about the opportunity to spend some time with family, to take stock of the year and to enjoy the company of those you might not see that often. Some members of my family will recognise that I'm far from perfect here and that's OK. Maybe I'll get better at it.

Warren Zevon - Down In The Mall -  https://youtu.be/3XmfNyu1Hrw

The other day I took a deep breath and went into our garage. I then proceeded to fill the car full of books that I hadn't read in years but that I'd been holding onto. I kept a few for sentimental reasons (1982 World Cup Soccer Guide included) and took the rest to the Lifeline folks for their book fair. I did the same with my clothes and there's a very full charity bin out there now. It's amazing how much lighter you feel when you get rid of some clutter and also understand that it's got the potential to help someone else. I'd been holding onto the tons of cricket biographies and books I've had for over 30 years and I sincerely hope that a cricket tragic out there finds them at the book fair and enjoys them as much as I did all those years ago. What's interesting, and mildly frustrating, is that there is still a heap of stuff in that garage to be looked through. I'm sure that I want to keep my Scout shirt with all it's badges but other than looking at it once in a while I guess it lives in a box.

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

Scouting for Girls - It's Not About You - https://youtu.be/LRdI1azB6_M

On Wednesday, I stood, with my guitar, in the bush and mimed to a song we recorded later last year. The funniest thing was Dylan, cameraman extraordinaire, asking me to play the guitar solo bits so that he could film them. They were improvised when we made the recording so I had no idea of what to do. I hope it looks good in the end and I'll be sure to let you all know when the song/clip gets a release.

Hole - Celebrity Skin (live) - https://youtu.be/aJcHejLOmKI

DJ Zedboots is about to head back to university. That makes me sad, happy and immensely proud all at once. She's about to start six weeks of placement working in an ambulance which sounds rather exciting to me. I'm looking forward to hearing the sanitised version of events as I don't cope well with blood! Amusingly enough, as a result of how their training programme is scheduled, she can give you morphine but not put your arm in a sling!

AC/DC - If You Want Blood (You've Got It) - https://youtu.be/6EWqTym2cQU

Let's talk about Star Wars. I'm a huge fan; let's put that out there before I start. I really like the original trilogy, can't stand The Phantom Menace, despise Attack of the Clones and think that Revenge of the Sith is not too bad. I certainly enjoyed The Force Awakens and I thought that Rogue One was close to the best film in the entire collection - but not quite. So, given all that, you will understand why I was excited to go and see The Last Jedi. There's a spoiler in here so skip this paragraph if you need to. I avoided watching the trailer and reading any reviews or commentary about the film and I'm glad I did so. First things first - I enjoyed it, DJ ZedBoots enjoyed it and DJ Declutr enjoyed it too. We all had a fine time even though the cinema (hello Palace Electric) was freezing cold. Colder than Hoth during a cold snap. Apparently, if you believe rabid fans on internet forums, there are plot holes and problems galore with the film. It must be sad not to just be able to enjoy a film for what it is. It was a decent science fiction film that told a story over a couple of hours that kept me engaged. It's fun, it's Star Wars. I agree that killing off Luke seems kind of dumb at this point of the story and I didn't think Carrie Fisher acted all that well. R2D2, C3PO and Chewbacca look to be the only major characters now remaining from the 1977 film. After Empire Strikes Back and A New Hope, The Last Jedi would tie for third alongside Rogue One when it comes to rating my favourites.

The Divinyls - Science Fiction - https://youtu.be/AiCv9F_GRBA 

That'll do for now. Have a good weekend.

Rob


Friday, December 22, 2017

World Wide Woozle episode #431

Welcome back. Whilst I'm doing my level best not to be Scrooge or a Grinch, please don't expect a Christmas playlist this week. 

I'm still working on getting into the new Foo Fighters album, "Concrete and Gold". It's not bad and those who are already fans of the band should definitely enjoy it. Right at the end of the album is a track that is just fantastic and one that makes me think that Grohl and Co. are making music for themselves as much as for public consumption. Wearing your influences on your collective sleeves is more than appropriate when it's this good.

Foo Fighters - Concrete and Gold - https://youtu.be/VGLXH9wqID0

Josh Todd is the singer for the American hard rock band Buckcherry. They've been around for a while and play an honest, energetic style of rock that's guaranteed to get most fists pumping. Josh has just released an album called "Year of the tiger". I've only had a quick listen but it warrants more air time so I thought I'd plug a track here.

Josh Todd & The Conflict - Rain - https://youtu.be/MvdON8CcWbo

Long time readers may remember that I'm a bit of a fan of the "Wolfenstein" series of computer games. I have fond memories of using the 3D version released in 1992 to test PCs that I was building at work. The latest version, however, only runs on the newest XBOX or PlayStation. That's a shame as it's impossible to justify the cost of a new console simply to play one game.

Iron Maiden - Aces High - https://youtu.be/Xg9aQvjMS60

I've been making a concerted effort to get to my target distance for the year with my cycling. With significant time off in 2017 due to injury, illnesses and more rain than I remember, it's a bit of a struggle. However, I have just under 265km to go to reach the goal of 12,000km. I've ridden the last 16 days straight and that's 29 rides. It'll be 30 by the time I get home this evening. Next year looks like being very different for a number of reasons but I still plan to try and average 1,000km a month. Anything over the total of 12,000km is a complete bonus in my opinion. And why do I do it? Because it keeps me fit both physically and mentally.

John Lennon - Mind Games - https://youtu.be/zge6UEwUGn0

From a very early age I enjoyed LEGO and I still do. This year, DJ Declutr, surprised me with the LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar. It's been a hoot so far with a fairly groovy range of mini figures and small models to build on a daily basis. I do have rather a lot of Star Wars LEGO though and one day soon I'll need to think about moving it on. It's probably the same for the bulk of my other collectables. I've had a lot of fun with them but times change. For those that have been in my "studio", there's no need to worry; I'm not throwing it all out!

Jeff Lynne's ELO - When I Was A Boy - https://youtu.be/tM34A80RTv4

That'll do for this week. Thank you to all of you out there in internet-land who read this and a special "hats-off" to those who send me comments, suggestions and/or anecdotes. I'm always interested to hear about the effect that certain songs have on people. An FYI, Christmas Carols make me cringe. I don't know why, they just do. Tune in next time for what looks like being a bumper episode.

Mi wisim yufala evriwan wan gudfala Krismas!

Rob

Fine then...click here for a Christmas tune. It's worth it.


Saturday, December 16, 2017

World Wide Woozle episode #430

I was rather busy this week. It seems as if everyone is suddenly intent on ruling a line under everything they can before the end of the year. As such I didn't draft this week's ramble - sorry if it therefore appears to be disjointed. What I did do as the week progressed was to jot down a whole lot of music to play.

I've really been taking stock of my life lately and what kind of real impact I can have without grinding myself into the ground. I won't kid you, as a middle class, middle aged, white male sometimes it feels like it's so hard to avoid being seen as only doing something as tokenism. However, I've been participating in a gender equity and diversity committee at work. I was nervous at first but really pleased that my views were taken seriously and it was recognised that I was genuine. I hate the term social justice because large elements of a range of organisations, especially the Catholic Church, have bastardised it for their own purposes. But I am interested in helping to work towards a fair go for everyone in my own way. I don't feel discriminated against or marginalised (unless it's by bogans in utes yelling at me when I'm cycling) but I remain keen to doing what I can to improve the lives of those who are.

Dixie Chicks - Not Ready To Back Down (live) - https://youtu.be/pIw0JL-O6mo

I've been a bit on and off about The Hold Steady for years. I think I like them and then a whole album gets a bit tedious so I shelve the CD. Time for another go and this is a cracking song. They're a bit hard to describe but if you like Weezer & Springsteen you should be just fine.

The Hold Steady - Entitlement Crew - https://youtu.be/u2qnbkhH8DQ

Painters and Dockers were hugely influential to me as a teenager. Their live album, "Bucket" is a complete riot. Of course they had mainstream success with "Nude School" and "Safe Sex" from the "Kiss My Art" album in 1988 but I very much remember them as a sweaty pub band with lyrics worth a listen.

Painters and Dockers - Soul Child - https://youtu.be/Ys7TXrO7P5w

DJ BeeG put me onto this next artist. Sometimes Reignwolf is a one man band and sometimes not. My advice is to let this video play out and be amazed and the noise and groove that one man can make!

Reignwolf - Electric Love - https://youtu.be/ekq4ZMgMa1Q

Do you like soul? I do and that's mainly because of the way that vocalists in this genre manage to convey such deep emotion. Here's Charles Bradley making a Black Sabbath song very much his own.

Charles Bradley - Changes - https://youtu.be/S3YXIXp9zJs

Anthrax have a new live DVD coming out in 2018. The big news is that it was recorded in Scotland!! There doesn't seem to be any previews around just yet but I did stumble across this unusual and rather fine acoustic version of one of their classics. 

Anthrax - Antisocial (live acoustic) - https://youtu.be/UkfneY5nD_8

Speaking of live DVDs as we were; hang onto your hats as Ghost are releasing one in January next year. Personally I can't wait to see if they are actually any good live. Here's a preview...

Ghost - Absolution (live) - https://youtu.be/vQwIDYF35ao

Billy Corgan, leader of the Smashing Pumpkins, has recently teamed up with Electro-Harmonix (who make Big Muff guitar pedals) to work on a reissue of the pedal that he uses to make his rather distinctive guitar tone.Guitar heads can check it out here. Here's a classic track from the band. Interesting that I always thought they used an ADA MP-1 rackmount pre-amp but obviously I need to do more research.

Smashing Pumpkins - Cherub Rock - https://youtu.be/VbrfXDFuzu0

Dream Theater are a prog rock band who have moments of brilliance. There's no doubt that as musicians they are fantastic but the songwriting isn't always there in my opinion. Their former drummer (and one of the founders), Mike Portnoy, has a new band called Sons of Apollo. Their album, "Psychotic Symphony" has just been released. On the strength of the couple of singles I think it will be well worth a listen. It's a bit of a supergroup but I'll let you all spot them in the video.

Sons of Apollo - Coming Home - https://youtu.be/J_1N8kVYfkE

Finally, my Dad's en route to Antarctica at the moment. I'm not sure that I'd be keen to spend all of that time on a boat but getting to go to the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica would be cool (ha ha). I really hope that they see some penguins!

Midnight Oil - Antarctica - https://youtu.be/a8qzcOIMWQM

Next week I should have a tale to tell about appearing in a music video. I haven't done that since about 2002!

Cheers dears,
Rob

"...went into his room and smashed his Billy Bragg records...", The War's End, Rancid.

Friday, December 1, 2017

World Wide Woozle episode #429

Coming back to your regular life after a holiday is never easy. I've also discovered that the upset stomach side effect of the anti-malaria medication well and truly applies to me! As regular readers will know, I've struggled in the past with wanting to do too much for my families in Vanuatu. Finding the balance is a real challenge. Deep inside I've had a feeling for years now that I could do more with my life and it's much more evident at the moment. I recognise that I haven't exactly been sitting on my hands for the last 46 years but maybe it's time to do something a bit more long term. Of course, I have no idea what that is or how it might work so watch this space. What I do know is that there is a lot of the world that I haven't seen and that I could be useful in. I guess my experiences in Vanuatu have made me understand the benefit of moving out of my comfort zone and that even one person can make a positive impact. I've got itchy feet...

Battlefield Band - The Rovin' Dies Hard - https://youtu.be/9qZZ01RFf_Q

Let's talk about Christmas. What I want to think about for a few moments is the rampant consumerism and excess that has come to define celebrations at this time of the year. Maybe it's Alison's influence but more and more I think about the fact that we could live happily with less "stuff". Giving and receiving gifts is lovely but there's a limit. Recently we took boxes and boxes of books to a local charity who run a regular book fair. For years I'd held onto particular literary gems simply because they were gifts or they'd not been cheap. The ruthless cull and knowledge that someone else would enjoy them as well as the charity raising valuable funds made for a good feeling. I'm not advocating emptying the house out completely but there is a fair bit of stuff lying around that I'm unlikely to use again. Don't be a Scrooge though...Christmas presents, as well as family time, is important for kids!

One thing I do have a lot of is CDs, records and tapes. That's unlikely to change. Until I can carry them around on a device that doesn't require compromise in terms of sound quality I will remain a huge fan of physical audio media. I admit that I do buy less these days and Spotify is to 'blame' for that.

Cliff Richard - Wired For Sound - https://youtu.be/V57eqtN2K7E

Before the internet, shortwave (SW) radio was a very important part of many peoples' lives. It was a way to get up to date news from around the World for many of us. Shortwave broadcasts remain the only media link to the outside world that many people in developing nations or remote locations have. Radio Australia, for reasons best known to the ABC, don't broadcast SW any more into the Pacific or remote Australia. This is a crying shame. On Pentecost, with a cheap SW radio, I was able to listen to Radio NZ, Voice of America, Beijing Radio and a couple of others. Radio Australia used to be well listened to across the Pacific for news as well as emergency notices for things such as cyclones. I admit that I need a better receiver if I go anywhere else but it does irk me that the ABC have cut off what was a valuable service to the Pacific and remote Australia.

James Reyne and James Blundell - Way Out West - https://youtu.be/xB2fhqO2Mb4

John Bush sang for US thrash metal band Anthrax for a while replacing original vocalist Joey Belladonna. Joey's back these days and personally I wish Bush had been able to stay on. This week DJ NinjaRollins turned me onto John's original (and current) band Armored Saint. It's good. It's really, really good. He has to be one of the few metal vocalists around whose range and voice hold up after a number of years. Maybe he looked after it really well or perhaps he was just lucky. Here's John with Anthrax and then back with Armored Saint. Turn this up!

Anthrax - Cadillac Rock Box - https://youtu.be/hll2kQXloz4

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

The ABC, when they aren't mucking around with the shortwave broadcast, have a done a great job with the current two part biopic about The Easybeats. With the recent death of founder, guitarist and songwriter George Young awareness of the band is heightened of course. Episode one is on ABC iView for those of you in Australia who have missed it. I'd highly recommend it as a decent look at how rock and roll came of age here as well as an insight into a fantastic band. Let me also say that the actor portraying Stevie Wright has obviously studied loads of old footage as his moves are spot on.

The Easybeats - I'll Make You Happy - https://youtu.be/eS7uMy8z6i4?t=2m5s

News of impending torrential rains around the country has the media in a spin. Frankly I'll be happy to get home this evening without resorting to SCUBA gear or a canoe. Some places have forecasts of their monthly rainfall coming in just a couple of days. Most of Australia can always do with some rain but this much may simply be damaging. And in a moment of pure selfishness, it gets in the way of cycling. Even with significant time off the bike this year I am almost on target to hit 12,000km by the end of December. Let's hope that the rains don't do too much damage and that slightly obsessive cyclists everywhere can get their fix without packing a snorkel.

Dragon - Rain (live 1985) - https://youtu.be/P67qfkhBy1E?t=4m34s

Lastly; a sad moment. My Auntie Maureen passed away early this week. She wasn't old and she wasn't sick and that makes it hard for everyone. I guess it's just one of those things. My heart goes out to my Dad, her only sibling and to my cousin Graeme who is her only child. I haven't seen her since we left Scotland in the late 1970s and now I'm kicking myself that I haven't ever been back. I'm glad that Alison got to meet Mo a few years ago and that Zoe was there in 2015. When my Granny died a couple of years ago Mo told me not to be sad because she'd had a very full and meaningful life and the same applies now. At the moment I'm very much feeling the fact that life really is short.

Johnny Cash - We'll Meet Again - https://youtu.be/KodNFsP6r88

Stay dry folks,

Rob

"Well you ask me why I like to dance
And you ask me why I like to sing
And you ask me why I like to play
I got to get my kicks some way
And you ask me what I'm all about
Come and let me hear you shout..." - AC/DC, High Voltage, 1975.

Friday, November 24, 2017

World Wide Woozle episode #428

Hi everyone,

This episode is split into two different parts. Part 1 is about the last two weeks that DJ ZedBoots and I have just spent on Pentecost in Vanuatu. Part 2 is about music.

Part 1 - Pentecost

Pentecost is an amazing place. This was my third visit (and Zoe's fourth). To get there I flew from Canberra to Brisbane, Brisbane to Santo and then Santo to Pentecost. That last flight is in a rather small plane called a Twin Otter. We spent a week with our family at Level School and then another week with our other family at Lini Memorial College. And we brought the rain with us! They'd not had any for months and we most certainly changed that. At one stage my travel journal was about to be renamed to, "Rob and Zoe go to Pentecost and look at rain". We didn't let it get us down though and still managed visits to help in the gardens (where food is grown), tons of time with kids and family just talking and playing, attending a Class 5 end of year party, looking at a health clinic, checking out a very wide range of building works and just generally hanging out. Finger spinners and yo-yos turned out to be fantastic ice breakers with kids.

The money raised from my band payments and generous gig-time donations has assisted in paying for a double length classroom at Level and it's almost finished. Other fundraising has made it possible for a number of families to gain assistance to help pay for their kids' school term fees. Thanks so much to everyone that helped out.

It's hard to describe life in Pentecost. It's hard but peaceful. Family, church and community is everything. Without fail, people smile, shake hands and say hello. Most want to strike up a conversation and it's genuine. One of the things that the locals appreciate the most is time spent chatting; they call it telling stories. I did a lot of that. The rain meant that we got so much time to talk to people and for me to work on my language skills.

We were extremely lucky to be the first people to inhabit a new "house" built at Level. It is unique there in that it has a raised timber floor. In all the torrential rain there was only one tiny leak right at the door. The craftsmanship is just amazing. We also contended with chickens following us everywhere, cows in the station area and Nakamal (meeting house) and naughty escaping pigs!

About 18 months ago my cousin Iain in Scotland, after a visit from Zoe, organised the congregation at the church he attends to collect some books for Level. They ended up with a lot and a huge package (like a pallet load) headed by sea to Vanuatu. For any number of reasons they were delivered to the wrong island, lost, found, re-routed, lost again, found again and then sat in a warehouse for an age. Iain chased them, I chased them and my sister Nancy in Port Vila chased them. I really thought that we'd never see them so imagine my shock when I found out that they'd arrived at Level about two weeks before we did! Two schools on Pentecost now have an amazing range of books. The library shelving at Level is going up over the Christmas break. Thanks to Iain and all the folks at New Kilpatrick Church in Bearsden for their generosity and for never giving up!

At Level, Zoe and I put solar party lights up outside the Nakamal and it was extremely well received by everyone including the local men sitting under them to grind kava. Solar is king on Pentecost!

I read a difficult book (Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance). More about that another day! And I enjoyed quite a lot of doing not much. Having a clear head to think coupled with being off-grid is wonderful for your mental health.

Our time flew by and I'll admit to crying like a baby when I left Level. No-one can really tell though when you're behind sunglasses, under a hat and clinging for dear life to the tray of a 4WD!

There are almost three sides to Vanuatu. The two urban centres (Port Vila and Luganville), the resorts and the islands. I haven't been to a resort so I can't comment there. Port Vila and Luganville are fine to transit through but I wouldn't go there for any length of time unless I was working or staying with locals. The islands are the place to be. The lack of western amenities and services will be a barrier to many (they were to me before the whole Cyclone Pam thing) but washing in a bucket, the long drop toilet and the lack of internet  is easy to get used to and very much outweighed by everything else.

I'll definitely be going back but admit that I don't know when that will be. That's three visits in three years now and I'm keenly aware that there are other places I might like to experience. These trips have been amazing adventures to take with Zoe. I feel that I know her on such a deeper level and I imagine she knows way too much about me. But, we'll be back one day soon. 

Part 2 - Music

Malcolm Young from AC/DC died this week. He was 64 and had suffered from dementia for a few years time. This was the first piece of news I heard when I came off Pentecost and Angus (Marshall, not Young) was the one who told me. There's no doubt that Angus Young was the one to initially attract me to AC/DC; he's iconic for a reason. However, before long I realised the driving force was his brother Malcolm's rhythm guitar. When so many people were shredding a million notes all over the fretboard, Mal was playing big, loud open chords. "It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock & Roll)" is a simple but effective rhythm on an open A chord. Just add volume, drive and swagger. The classic opening to "Back In Black" is again open chords (E,D,A). Malcolm knew how to write what sounds like simple music that packed a punch, was catchy and had a distinctive sound and feel. When I started on the electric guitar I already knew the secret of those big open chords and I persevere with them today - that's his influence. Malcolm Young wasn't flashy, he preferred to be in the background just doing his thing and that's why I admired him so greatly as a musician.

AC/DC - Next To The Moon - https://youtu.be/oi5YGnr4VlI

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

Jason Isbell with his band, the 400 Unit, is coming to Australia in March 2018. After being unable to see him play during his last visit (and being intensely dissapointed) I'm happy to say that DJ Al-ee-sunshine has secured tickets for us both. Given the quality of the recent live performance he screened from the Ryman Auditorium, I am looking forward to an almost religious experience!

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit - Codeine (live 2017) - https://youtu.be/2m961waDa_8

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

I'm not up to date yet on any new releases so that'll have to wait for next time. DJ SlimHenry let me know that Sepultura are touring here next year supported by Death Angel. Neither Max or Igor Cavalera are in the band anymore so I'll have to check out some of their newer stuff before looking at dates and prices. Certainly the older stuff that I am familiar with is fantastic.

Sepultura - Troops of Doom (live 1991) - https://youtu.be/5-oz9leEoI0

Both places I stayed on Pentecost had an acoustic guitar so I actually got a lot of playing done. Calluses on my calluses! I really must remember to learn more Bob Marley songs before my next visit. There are only so many times that I can roll out "Buffalo Soldier", "Redemption Song" and half of "One Love" before I've had enough. No-one else was worried though. They also really liked this next tune....

Johnny Otis - Willie and the Hand Jive - https://youtu.be/J9oo1zVmxDg

Lastly, a very brief comment about our politicians who are currently leaving refugees to rot on Manus Island. It's a national disgrace and many members from both major parties should hang their heads in shame. Let's hope that some other countries have the guts to go around our government and help out.

Steve Earle - City of Immigrants (live 2013) - https://youtu.be/Mx-Ru2wQFNc

Have a great weekend,
Rob

"On an island in the sun
We'll be playin' and havin' fun
And it makes me feel so fine" - Weezer, Island In The Sun, 2001.