Friday, July 30, 2010

Song of the Week #101

Australia is in the grip of election fever! Well not really. The truth is that the gap between the two major parties is so slim that it is hard to tell the red from the blue. Really the only thing that I have found of any interest is the “Family First Party” (conservative Christian) calling up the “Sex Party” (you can work that out) in an attempt to do a preferences deal. I can’t imagine these two parties are anything other than the complete opposite of each other!

Personally I am totally disgusted at the amount of time a lot of the media and some of the politicians are spending on the private lives of the two leaders. For me, I would much rather we had a leader capable of the job and with some credibility rather than spending time worrying about whether they are married or not or if they have religion. Get a grip.

Here’s a tune from a few years back. And a local Canberra band to boot. The Falling Joys were indie pop darlings I guess back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Great voice, great song. If you liked The Clouds or Frente then this might float your boat.

The Falling Joys – Jennifer:

Quite a few songs have been totally murdered as cover versions. This is one of them. The original is so much better than the other couple I have heard recently.

Cyndi Lauper – True Colors:

Now, in 1994 I bought the album that this next song was on as a result of just hearing the single. Huge mistake. This is a fantastic song with so much going for it. The rest of the CD was dull in my opinion and that is me being generous.

Dave Graney & The Coral Snakes – I’m Gonna Release Your Soul:

A few years later I saw Dave as the support act for Billy Bragg here in Canberra. He spent so much time trying to look cool (and failing) that he put most of the crowd to sleep. He’s probably got a good fan base but seriously I am not sure why.

Time for a quick word from the Godfather of Soul….ladies and gentlemen, Mr JAMES BROWN!!

James Brown – Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag :

Check out those moves, that is totally awesome!

This week marks 30 years since the biggest rock album ever was released. AC/DC’s “Back in Black” was a tribute to dead singer Bon Scott. Almost 50 million copies have been sold and the only album with more is Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. Incidentally, “Thriller” has sold more than double the amount of “Back in Black”. Wow. And I don’t have a copy (of “Thriller” that is)!! I was hoping that AC/DC might release a special commemorative edition with some studio outtakes or demo versions but no. All there is available is a pack with a t-shirt, the CD and a beer glass. Whoopee. I am totally underwhelmed.

I like this next song for a couple of reasons. First of all, the way the lyrics are sung have an insistence that sounds cool to me. Also, I was a BIG radio fan when I was younger. I would stay up at night searching for different stations from interstate and overseas. I can’t wait until we finally get digital radio in the nation’s capital and there is hopefully something worth listening to!

The Sports – Who Listens To The Radio:

Time for a comedy spot. This is from Irish comedian Jimeoin. I always loved the escalator gag. Small things amuse small minds!

But I think I’ll finish off this week the way I started, with some indie pop. This is Liz Phair from 1994. Quite often her poppy music and voice belie the lyrical content. Sorry, she would drop the “f” word at about 1:26 but the censors got to her! Also, check out the HUGE line of guitar pedals in the clip!

Liz Phair – Supernova:


DJ Rob

Monday, July 26, 2010

What now?

Le Tour is over, the World Cup is over...does this mean we all get some sleep?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Song of the Week 100!

100 episodes. Who would have thought I could stick at this? I guess it is my stubborn streak showing through.

When I started Song of the Week it was a quick email to a few colleagues with an mp3 file attached. And it sort of grew from there. Now there is an internal email at work and an external one as well as the blog posting which also gets a promo every week on facebook. Friends and colleagues are forwarding the email to others as well as suggesting new people for me to add to the list. Some people even comment via email which I think is a real treat.

Before we start I HAVE to play you this song. Slayer is one of the most aggressive thrash metal bands ever. They have always stuck to their guns and they are great at what they do. But this is a cover of one of their best known songs. It was on a CD that came free with MOJO magazine and it has totally blown me away. I’d say it is almost the complete opposite of the original! If you only listen to one song in this week's episode then choose this. I'll list the original as well in case you need a comparison.

Hellsongs - Seasons In The Abyss:

Slayer - Seasons In The Abyss:

So, there are 100 unique songs that have been chosen as well as others that I thought might pique someone's interest. I've done my bet to avoid the most offensive tracks as well as those that might only appeal to a couple of people. Personally I like to think that I have a wide ranging musical palette but I understand the need to cater for a largish and diverse audience.

I wasn't really sure how to celebrate the 100th episode. Later on I will post a list of the 100 songs on the blog but that's probably not all that interesting! Then I thought I might go for a top 10 list but frankly that is impossible.

In the past I have detailed some songs that have been particularly influential for me in one way or another. I think that this seems like a reasonable theme this week.

But, before we get into that - why do I do this at all? Simple really, I love music. It has always been a huge part of my life whether it was listening, writing or performing. Music gets me through the day and I always find myself relating events to one song or another. I love to read about music and musicians and I am fascinated by the effect that music can have on people.

In 1986 I was lucky enough to get a week's worth of work experience at our local AM radio station. I loved every minute of it - especially working in the record library. I sat in with the DJs, went out selling advertising time and pretty much did everything. I'm not a huge fan of this next song, but for years after I reminded people that I had labelled the cartridge for this track!

America - Ventura Highway:

I always thought that was the Eagles – woops! Working at 3UL for a week prompted me to start a student radio station. I ran it by myself for two and a half years. Luckily there was a teacher who was pretty supportive. He was into amateur and shortwave radio and I got into that a bit as well. I was the master of my own playlist often ringing the local FM station, requesting songs and then recording them on tape so I could use them on the show. I was a bit of an Elvis fan back then and this track got a regular airing!

Elvis Presley - Burning Love:

I really, really like the bass line in that song. You might not hear it on your computer speakers. It is one of those songs best listened to on vinyl.

I've related previously the riff that really got me into electric guitars and rock music. It seems so clichéd now but really, it must rate as one of the best song intros of all times. Three big, open chords, E, D and A. The simple things in life and all that.

AC/DC - Back In Black:

Someone told me once that I'd leave school and at university I'd find people who had musical tastes like mine. I didn't. But I did get into my first band a learn a hell of a lot about playing in a group. Everyone else in the band was a much better musician than me and the result was a fairly steep learning curve. We played a lot of fun gigs and the money was pretty good all things considered. This was always our opening song. It was easy to play, and crowds seemed to love it without fail. Remember, it was featured in the movie "Cocktail" which was fairly recent back then!

Georgia Satellites - Hippy Hippy Shakes:

And this was always the last song of the evening. From what I consider to be one of Australia's two best ever rock bands:

Cold Chisel - Goodbye (Astrid Goodbye):

Recording with a number of bands was excellent fun and now great to listen back to. The first demo I did with Mr. Walker was as simple as recording on a boom box carefully positioned in the middle of the band. We then moved into 4-track recording and honestly, it was pretty successful. It was 4-track with my next band as well - and those recordings are some that I am most proud of. Of course, then it was into real studios and some digital recordings. And with technology ever improving, my last band was able to sit around in silence, with headphones on and jam and record with computer interfacing. Pretty damned cool. This next video features yours truly on the guitar. From what I remember, the sound (which is live) was cobbled together by Scot from whatever he managed to get on the camcorders. I think he did a pretty good job. This is an unashamedly anti-war song. You're entitled to your opinion too but I'm not posting this to get into a debate. Maybe another day. I just reckon it is a great version of a Neil Young song. As Scot says, not a cover, more like a sequel. I'm in the white t-shirt.

DVoB - Rocketing the Free World:

King of the bass guitar Chris saved my life at one time by insisting that I join him in a band for a musical production. Again, it was a steep learning curve. I was forced to use sheet music, learn songs I would never have considered and play with excellent musos. It made me rethink my gear setup as well - I needed to be a lot more versatile than I had been in the past. We did this next song and, while learning it drove me mad, it sounded great in the end.

Tina Turner - What You Get Is What You See:

Often I use music to put me in the mood for my triathlon training - especially on the way to swim training. We have riders in the bunch who have been known to burst into song which can be a lot of fun. The iPod has made all the running training easier but I'm always wary of traffic so I don't wear it on the bike. If I had to choose a song that psyches me up then this is one of the main ones. It is a cover of a Thin Lizzy song and it never fails to get me going.

Rollins Band - Are You Ready:

This next one Zoë loves and Angus thinks is annoying. There is a message in there but you have to listen to quite a lot of music to get it! One of my faves as a kid. The entire song is pretty long and this is just part of it from the movie of the same name. Arlo Guthrie is Woody’s boy.

Arlo Guthrie - Alice's Restuarant:

But my favourite songs are those with some kind of message. I like songs that mean something. I guess that is why artists like Billy Bragg, Johnny Cash & Steve Earle are among my favourites. Steve has two songs that never fail to put a lump in my throat. And Billy, well, I think I've said enough about him in the past but he is pretty much the complete artist to me. Billy was the feature song in my first ever installment. There probably isn’t a day goes past where I am not listening to a Bragg tune or one isn’t in the back of my mind. My favourite quote from Billy is, “if I only listened to ideologically sound pop music I’d pretty quickly get tired of the Red Army Choir”. My brother asked me to sing this next track at his wedding. To my eternal shame I wasn’t confident enough to do it. Sorry.

Billy Bragg – The Milkman of Human Kindness:

And Johnny…I love this one:

Johnny Cash – Cocaine Blues: – that makes any gangster rap sound like a nursery rhyme.

I’ll finish with Steve Earle. If I had to choose my one favourite song of all time this would be it.

Steve Earle – My Old Friend The Blues:

So. Thanks for reading this far if you made it. And thanks to everyone who has commented, emailed or spoken to me about the music. We’ll be back next week with more!

DJ Rob

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Well done ACT Government...

For building a new Women's and Children's Hospital. Does that mean the other hospital is now only for men? And, more importantly, where are we meant to park at the hospital if you keep building on the carparks?

Monday, July 19, 2010

My new theme song...

There's a much better version (a demo) on the new Kris Kristofferson release but you get the idea:

Friday, July 16, 2010

Song of the Week 99

It's the end of school holidays. Predictably the sun has come out. That doesn't mean it isn't cold though. There is a forecast for -4 degrees for tomorrow morning. I'm sure to enjoy cycling in that!

I love eBay. Seriously. I've made two purchases these holidays at amazing prices. The first is an old guitar pedal. When I played in my first band in Canberra, our bass player loaned me a beat up overdrive pedal that I used for the duration of that band. When the band ended I gave it back. And I missed it. A few years ago I tried out some new ones in a shop and they just weren't up to scratch. Every now and then I look on eBay for a good deal but until now my luck hasn't been good. So, the other day an 80's Boss SD-1 Overdrive pedal arrived. Great. Fabulous. An awesome tone. Gritty and honest without being fizzy, noisy or over the top. A warm analog sound.

The other deal was the Kristofferson CD I was looking for. Brand new for 99 cents. It came in the mail today and is playing now. Demo versions of his songs from 1968-72, all previously unreleased. One review said that if all he had ever written was "Me and Bobby McGee" then he would still be a bonafide star. Luckily for his fans there is so much more in his catalogue. And he keeps on recording. Here's a great version of his most famous songs with some pretty special friends:

I've given up watching Le Tour late at night. I need my beauty sleep - if only sleeping meant my hair would grow back ;-) But, Angus and I have been taping the stages and watching them over breakfast. It was sad to see Lance have a bad day but awesome to see him continue in support of his teammates. It was pretty heartbreaking to hear that Cadel had broken a bone in his arm but amazing to see him carry on. Same goes for Robbie McEwen, still riding hard and placing in the sprints despite his horror crash into a cameraman at the end of a stage a few days ago. As for Renshaw's disqualification from the whole race - that is really, really harsh. Certainly he deserved some sanctions, but the whole race? I don't think so.

SBS TV, who are Australia's broadcaster of Le Tour, are having some fun with the music they use to come back from the ad breaks. I heard this one the other day - a classic:

The scooter still remains in a rideable state but lacking a bit of glitz and glamour. Hopefully they will get all the parts soon. I'm sure that they are swimming to Korea to pick them up. But the shop won't get paid until the job is complete. So annoying.

Well that's it for episode 99. Don't forget to tune in next week for the 100th celebrations. Like Jumping Jack Flash it'll be a gas, gas, gas!

And to sign off, here's a song that Angus has been rocking out to on Guitar Hero. I love that game. Not because I think that guitars should be replaced with plastic toys, but because it brings ROCK music to the fore. And the track selection, being quite broad, is a rock lesson for many kids. Very cool indeed.

Duran Duran - Hungry Like The Wolf:

Eat more broccoli,
DJ Rob

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Fitness nerd geek cyber heaven...

Here's some pretty cool stuff straight from the Garmin 310XT.
Saturday's ride:
Sunday's run:

I think the plan now better include NOT spending all of my time looking at the watch whilst training. Seriously though - it is pretty amazing.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Song of the Week 98

Sports fans downunder are sleep deprived! With Wimbledon, World Cup Soccer and of course Le Tour it is hard work staying awake some days! Although it seemed like Wimbledon just sort of happened and few people really noticed apart from the marathon game in the mens' singles.

Today I've been working out how my latest gadget, er....toy, aid works. A Garmin 310XT. It is a GPS / Heart Rate Monitor / Stopwatch etc. designed for triathletes. So far all I've done is walk around the block with it but I can report that it works a treat. Tomorrow morning's ride will no doubt put it through its paces and then I can bore the pants off everyone with extraneous data! Thanks to the HB Running Emporium for a great deal.

Someone who shall remain nameless also maxxed out the monthly internet quota and it doesn't reset until tomorrow. Whilst we don't pay excess usage, the speed is slowed....booooring! That has made getting the YouTube links interesting so I hope they all work.

I bought an album on Wednesday by "Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders". Taylor Hawkins plays with the "Foo Fighters" normally. I made the purchase after reading a couple of reviews and I have not been disappointed. It has a very 70's rock vibe and is well worth a listen. Here's a track called "Not Bad Luck" from the album which is called "Red Light Fever".

Angus spent the week away at the snow learning to snowboard. He got back this morning. I think that if he describes everything as "awesome" then it was a success! Zoë is still in NZ with Grandma and if early reports are anything to go by all non-desexed cats should beware of the apprentice vet!!

I like being on holiday. Sleeping in, training, reading, listening to music and watching cycling. Bliss!!

Alison and I took a short trip to Newcastle last weekend. It rained. It rained a lot. But we did find some places that served good coffee and seeing whales in the wild was pretty neat. We also went to a second hand book and record place. The owner stank of cigarettes and was monosyllabic but I did get a good deal on a cool LP. Scottish music at its best all the way from Dunfermline. Well, I liked it back in the day. Check this track out:

Big Country - In A Big Country:

I've been trying to track down the "new" Kris Kristofferson album. But I can't get it an any record store I try and I can't even find a torrent for a pre-purchase listen. I guess I could go to iTunes but I like a CD in my hand rather than just a group of mp3 files. I'm sure it will turn up soon.

A quick word on Le Tour? Oh, ok, twist my arm! I'm loving it, but probably more than the riders. The early stages with the cobbles certainly sorted out a few riders (and I don't mean the crashes - they are never good to see). One of the commentators and more than one of the riders have commented that there is only one way to conquer this surface - you need to be powerful, fast and fearless. I hope all the doubters noted that Evans is the best placed GC rider as a result of his showing on the pave. Also, I'm not a huge fan of Contador, he strikes me as a prima donna, but you couldn't fault his effort either - most unexpected. Armstrong was unlucky with a puncture but is riding strongly. You'd be a mug to write him off. It is a great race and with still two weeks to go, anything can happen. Watch this space!

Just one more song before I sign off. This is an oldie but a goldie. From the Apollo 13 soundtrack straight into my consciousness. Apart from the lyrics, Barry's gruff voice is the main attraction in this song for me.

Barry McGuire - Eve of Destruction:

Don't forget to do the funky chicken...

DJ Rob

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Yell for Cadel!

Cadel Evans rockets over the cobblestones into 3rd place overall in Le Tour! Fantastic effort! Of course, I'm always happy to see a Cervelo rider take a stage.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Song of the Week 97

Today I've reached 97 episodes, not long until the mega exciting 100th. The ton, the century, whatever, it will be huge so don't go away or unsubscribe just yet!

This week I sat down with my coach and we mapped out the initial plan for my December assault on Ironman. I'm sure he'd be pleased to know that there weren't any surprises in the training plan. It was always going to be about getting to the end of the ride in a physical state where I am still able to function! Having said that, it was great to get it all on paper and get started. The last few months have been fun as I have worked on a strong aerobic base but it is time to get more specific. There will be a lot of cycling between now and the race.

What's pretty cool is that my coach is working on using an online training planner to help us out. It records a ton of data and allows monitoring of athletes as well as being a pretty good motivational tool. It is capable of gathering data from heart rate monitors and GPS trackers so I'm investigating a purchase. Nerds are us!

The only thing that I didn't expect in the Ironman plan was that Coach thinks I should use an aero helmet and get down low on the bike using some aero bars. I didn't think I would be fast enough for it to make a difference but I'm looking forward to trialling some bling!

Also, the cold has been a challenge this week in Canberra. Yesterday I headed out for a couple of hours on the bike. Being holidays I waited until the middle of the day hoping for some sunshine and a slight rise in the temperature. Well, I came home with feet like ice blocks!! No sun, but a pretty good ride nonetheless.

I'm going to leave the majority of the Ironman updates out from now on. They will be on the blog but not as part of Song of the Week. Don't want to bore anyone too much!

There is no political rant this week. The temptation to comment on General McChrystal's departure is tempting but I'll leave it for now. What I really want to know is if Mr Obama read anything else good in Rolling Stone? I used to have a subscription but let it lapse after 12 months. I found the publication was neither any good as a music nor a current affairs magazine. It failed on both accounts. I'll stick to MOJO for my music - it is an awesome magazine. As for current affairs, that is a lot harder. DJ AB got me hooked on iGoogle and setting up news feeds for topics that interest me. I choose feeds from a variety of sources in the hope of getting a range of biased viewpoints to investigate!

But there is a funny song about the Rolling Stone that I love. I first heard it on a cassette I found abandoned in a cupboard when I was at the Academy. Laugh along.

Time for a live show review. Last night Alison, myself and MC DeeMacD went to see a show at the Canberra Theatre called "The Man In Black". It was the story of Johnny Cash's life in words and music. And it was bloody fantastic. Tex Perkins (Beasts of Bourbon, The Cruel Sea, Tex Don and Charlie) had the lead role. More than one person has commented to me that they thought Nick Cave would've been a good choice as well. But, I tell you, when Tex hit those low notes I could have sworn that JR Cash was singing. A great range of songs, top shelf band and a great performance from Rachael Tidd as June Carter. And yes George, they played "Hurt".

Here's one of my favourites from Tex Perkins. There's a great line in this song..."and then I'm gonna get this tattoo changed to another girl's name..."'

The Cruel Sea - The Honeymoon is over:

I saw the Cruel Sea in '94 at the Livid Festival in Brisbane. It was a good lineup that day. The Mark Of Cain, You Am I, Jello Biafra, Rollins Band and a heap of others. Only Rollins could upstage Tex and The Cruel Sea. And only just.

Apart from the closing medley, this track was the best one in the whole show. Perfect. If ever a song summed up Johnny Cash this is it for me.

Johnny Cash - Man in Black:

And on to something completely different. I've been looking for tracks to load onto the iPod for training sessions. Obviously they need to be reasonably energetic. DJ Laff and I were throwing tracks back and forward and this artist appeared in the discussion. I'll admit I hadn't heard of Sammy Hagar before he was in Van Halen in the 80's. But this is one of his tracks, and, there is nothing else to say except that it ROCKS!

Van Halen - There's Only One Way To Rock:

Great hair, great guitars and the headset microphone before Garth Brooks!! That video is from the first music concert VHS I ever bought. "Live Without A Net".

I've chosen something older and Australian as this week's featured track. For no other reason than I heard it on the radio and almost had to pull the car over so I could tap my feet. What a great song. Joe Camilleri is Australian rock royalty and I'd heartily recommend any of his various guises!

Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons - Hit & Run:

Set your alarms as Le Tour de France starts this weekend. Yell for Cadel!!
DJ Rob