Friday, February 26, 2010

Song of the Week - Episode 79

Oh my, what a week. Huge, unexpected and awesome news…there’s a new Johnny Cash album!! Well it was exciting to me. “American VI: Ain’t No Grave” is a collection of songs recorded not long before Cash’s death. That makes many of the tracks rather haunting and confronting. YouTube hasn’t caught up with the new album yet but I’ll be passing on a couple of tracks to you all as soon as they appear.

George Thorogood turned 60 on Thursday. A great guitarist and entertainer. One of the bands I was in played his song “If you don’t start drinking I’m gonna leave”. Apparently it got him in hot water with some politically correct folks but it was all tongue in cheek as is a lot of rock ‘n’ roll. This track coming up is my favourite from George and his band the Delaware Destroyers:

George Thorogood – Get A Haircut (and get a real job):

In the 90’s I really liked this next band. A fantastic fusion of colour, rock, soul and social conscience. Their song “Open Letter to a Landlord” addressed the issue of neigbourhoods being torn down and the effect it has on communities. The song I’ve chosen is a bit cheerier though, and I will admit it wasn’t until I read the tape cover that I realised they weren’t singing “Grammar Boys” – talk about misheard lyrics!

Living Color – Glamour Boys:

I might pause here and just say that the Winter Olympics have been almost totally ruined by our local broadcaster. What a joke. Repeat after repeat of the same thing, inane and ill-informed commentary and whole sections of the games ignored. I could get into whether or not Figure Skating is a sport but that seems secondary when the coverage of the whole event is so pitiful.

Earlier in the week I was very, very angry. The reasons are unimportant now but this song came around on the iPod and really gave me a kick in the pants. For fans of loud and aggressive music only perhaps. I reckon they were pretty cross when they wrote this one (the lyrics are on the right hand side in YouTube for this track):

Soulfly – Blood, Fire, War, Hate:

The reintroduction of fluorescent colours into fashion has made me chuckle. The Best Man at our wedding was such a big fan that people at work called him “Fluoro”. I guess the 80’s and 90’s are back. That might not all be good but I caught myself singing this track the other day and it fits right in with that period of time. A good time song from when I was a lot younger ;-) I love the funky wah-wah guitar and the string section. This really is a toe tapper.

Vic Reeves and The Wonderstuff – Dizzy:

Never give up….

DJ Rob

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Rob is cross...

What gets up your nose? Your index finger probably! But apart from that, everyone has pet hates. Usually they just bubble away under the surface - you live with them and get on with life, but sometimes, well, you can't hold them in any longer.

Xenophobia. I hate that. That's the fear of foreigners. It also mutates into intolerance, racism and bigotry. People who are immigrants are the natural target of the bigot. Do you really expect someone from another country to be exactly the same as you? If you are born somewhere else, speak a different language and have your own religious views then of course you might seem a little different to an outsider. Of course, I fully support the idea that if you want to live somewhere then you should make an effort to learn the language.

America, Australia, Canada and many other countries have original inhabitants that were there a long time before those countries were settled by immigrants. Did we stop speaking English? Did we ignore all the traditions and cultures of our original countries? Did we adopt new religions? I don't think so.

Let me say, however, that illegal immigration is a completely separate and complex topic. Maybe I'll rant about that one another day. The line between being a humanitarian and just throwing open the border gate is blurry at best.

Religion quite often gets right up my nose as well. I can make my own decision thanks very much. Don't knock on my door selling your particular brand of faith with your kids and parents in tow. I'll be polite because it is the right thing to do but really, that is something I find offensive. I have many friends who are religious and I respect that. They made their decision, and although I just don't get it, I'm happy for them to get on with it. I have some good friends who all have a strong faith. I can have rigorous discussion with them about religion and none of them see me as an outreach opportunity. I like that.

Lastly, on a slightly lighter note, "The Biggest Loser" really pushes my buttons. There is no way that any of them got that fat without significant effort. It takes a lot of TV, cakes and pies. So, why should we glorify them? I am always impressed when someone makes an effort to lose some weight or make their lifestyle more healthy - that's great. But making it into a TV event is just wrong. Anyone can lose weight if they train all day and are forced to eat the right things. But life isn't about that. For everyone else, being healthy is a choice and something that needs to become part of your daily routine, not a spectator sport. I like the Billy Connolly diet - so simple, but for most people, quite effective; "eat less, move more".

So, those are my views. Of course, yours could and probably should vary. As long as you had a bit of a think then that's cool. If you skipped to the end looking for a song that's fine as well. Self-censorship is an important part of living in the digital age.

It would be unlike me to leave you all without a piece of music. This track was one of the first of my songs of the week and is never deleted from the iPod. Listen to the lyrics, they have a LOT to say.

The Proclaimers - Scotland's Story (live) -

Lastly, if for some reason Craig and Charlie Reid (The Proclaimers) stumble across this post then it really is time for a live album - please??

That's it. Rant off.

Comrade Rob ;-)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Song of the Week - Episode 78

How are you? “We ain’t got no baseball, no baseball tonight. We ain’t got no football, they’re on strike. What we have got for you is a bit of what’s happening in London at the moment. So will you welcome, all the way from Ladbroke Grove, London W10, The Clash!”

That was, obviously, The Clash. Their song, Police and Thieves, Live at Shea Stadium. The first piece of text is the intro to the concert which is spoken by Kosmo Vinyl. I love it, an even better introduction than that which KISS always have; “You wanted the best, you got the best, the hottest band in the world, KISS!”.

I was really a very casual Clash fan until I heard that live album sometime last year. Superb, so much better live.

There have been songs written about the Police for a very long time. I’ll just play you a couple this week.

Back in my uni days I wrote and produced a radio documentary for an assignment. It was about music, geography, fear and America. This song made an appearance:

Public Enemy – 911’s A Joke:

I tried to meet Flavour Flav and Chuck D from Public Enemy in Brisbane years ago but crowds of young white boys pretending to be gangsters kept me at bay.

This next track is a plea to a policeman and the sound of someone hoping for a little good luck. Written by a guy who is a great storyteller. You can track down a great version by Steve Earle but this is the original. The story goes that Bruce recorded the whole album on a four track in a hotel room.

Bruce Springsteen - State Trooper:

Can I introduce something new here? Something off-topic? Well of course I can, it’s my blog! Julie Fowlis is a Scots singer from the Outer Hebrides. I heard about her yesterday and checked out some songs. She sings in Gaelic. Regardless of that, her voice is just great. I’ve chosen something from her today that is pretty accessible but if you like it then try some of the suggested links on YouTube.

Julie Fowlis – Blackbird (Beatles cover) -

Back to the Police, and songs about them. This is one of my absolute favourite songs of all time. It is tragic, funny, coarse, honest and thought provoking – at least to me. By the master himself.

Johnny Cash – Cocaine Blues:


DJ Rob

Friday, February 12, 2010

Song of the Week - Episode 77

G’day and a big GET STUFFED to all the Japanese Whalers reading this. Again, politicians; it is time to stand up and be counted!

While we’re on the subject of things that get up my nose, a big thank you to the bus driver who pulled out into my path and then felt the need to give me the finger. To all the good bus drivers – I’m sure this is just great for your public image.

There’s no theme this time, just a couple of tracks that I enjoyed this week.

I made an effort to listen to the radio and for once I wasn’t disappointed. While there was a fair bit of filler and inane disc jockeys, this track was a stand out. I was pleased that it was a new release from an Australian band – and one that I really didn’t like in the past. There is just the right blend of electronic cheese and rock attitude in this:

Operator Please – Logic:

Whilst running on Wednesday this next tune came around on the iPod. Again I had filled it up with a random selection and I didn’t even realise which band it was. Probably cringe worthy for all you classical music aficionados but a great tune to run to.

Bond – Explosive:

Again out on the trail, this song just made me laugh – memories from the 80’s!

Nik Kershaw – Wide Boy:

This week’s “chosen song” is especially for my mate Garry in E17 who is celebrating a birthday. I know he’d appreciate this song. And Garry, four chords is more than enough for rock ’n’ roll.

Tom Waits – Chocolate Jesus: – I love the way that clearing his throat is part of the tune!

That’s all folks.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Song of the Week - episode 76

I was pretty glad to get back into the classroom this week. These days I only teach one class but my students this week reminded me why I became a teacher. I remember being told that they should never know that I am enjoying myself but that doesn’t sit well with me. Teaching is hard work; you are on show every lesson with 20 or 30 people watching your every move. It certainly isn’t a career for everyone but the rewards transcend money and school holidays.

Perhaps foolishly I started reading “A Clockwork Orange” this week. I haven’t seen the film but will do so when I get through the book. It is a hard read to begin with as it has its own lexicon but you get used to it. My advice, however, to anyone who wants to check it out, is not to read any before bedtime.

I’m also reading the journals by Che Guevara that became the movie, “The Motorcycle Diaries”. A film I would highly recommend to anyone. The soundtrack is just fabulous as well with a melting pot of South American music and electric guitars.

Television programming from all six channels here (and their digital offshoots) has been pretty diabolical of late. Hence the reading. However, last night I caught the tail end of a program about rock music. I was amused to hear Stuart Copeland from “The Police” say that they “owned” America once. This week’s theme comes from a track on that show. See if you can figure it out before the end.

Firstly, a song from my youth when the Muppets ruled television hands down:

After that let’s try this one. New Order are (were) an English band that formed after Joy Division was no more. This was a big hit back in the day and although I am not a fan, New Order achieved what makes a band great – their own particular and instantly recognisable sound.

New Order – Blue Monday:

This next band was described on radio as Canada’s answer to Midnight Oil. Being an Oils fan I tracked down one of their CDs. The announcer must have been on drugs that day as they are NOTHING like Midnight Oil. Luckily they are a great band regardless. Country flavoured rock with a folky influence at times as well. Well worth 5 minutes of your precious time.

Blue Rodeo – Somebody Waits:

I couldn’t let an episode of Song of the Week go past without an entry from one of my guitar heroes (there are a few)! This week is Irish guitarist Gary Moore. He successfully reinvented himself as a bluesman after plenty of time playing hard rock. This is the title track from his “Still Got The Blue” album. Once I bought a guitar pedal purely because there was a picture of him using one on the cover. Somewhere in time I sold it and now they are worth a bomb – typical!

Gary Moore – Still Got The Blues:

One more before we get to this week’s headlining tune.

Do some songs ever remind you of times and places? Well this one reminds me of breakfast. And not just any breakfast but breakfast in our old house in New Zealand. It must’ve been on the radio a lot I imagine. For any radio connoisseurs out there it would’ve been Radio 2ZB! This is Neil Diamond. Interestingly he has recently recorded a couple of albums with Rick Rubin producing. Rick was responsible for the Johnny Cash American recordings that brought him to a new generation. Rick also produced bands like Slayer and the Beastie Boys. I always thought that this next song was about a priest who wore denim….the Reverend Blue Jeans!

Neil Diamond – Forever in Blue Jeans:

Well, there are a lot more songs on this theme, I hope you worked it out! But the last song was one I saw on last night’s show and also one of my favourites. Is it the political commentary? Is it the scorching, pleading slide guitar intro? It is all that and more. Personally I liked U2 back in the past. Anything that came after “Rattle and Hum” left me cold. I could understand their desire to move on musically but it just didn’t work for me. It worked for heaps of other people though as evidenced by their album and concert ticket sales! Their most recent album, “No Line On The Horizon” is pretty good though – a solid mix of old and new. Here’s U2 with what I reckon might be their second best song. If you haven’t seen the movie “Rattle and Hum” then put it on your list. It is amazing.

U2 – Bullet the Blue Sky:

See you all next time on The Muppet Show!