Friday, February 25, 2011

Song of the Week #131

Welcome back to the sprawling stream of consciousness that “Song of the Week” has become.

You’d have to be seriously hiding under a rock not to realise that there are revolutions happening all over the world. In the dark ages I did a degree in Politics. One of the best and most interesting units I studied was the Politics of Revolutions. Given my interest in music with left leaning lyrics at the time it fitted nicely. I was very interested to see a few musicians chiming in with song recently in support of a few struggles around the world. Songs might not topple a regime, but if they get people thinking for themselves that’s a good thing.

Life’s a funny thing thought. In that unit one of the revolutions I studied was the “Velvet Revolution” of 1989 in Czechoslovakia. A playwright and dissident called Vaclav Havel became the president as a result. A few years later I was part of an honour guard for him here in Canberra. It was surreal to stand there on parade as he walked past. Of course, there was never any chance that I was going to be able to talk to him which was a shame.

There are a lot of songs about revolution. My favourites are from Steve Earle and Billy Bragg, but you’ve all heard them before! Here’s another that I haven’t heard for a while.

Tracy Chapman – Talkin’ Bout A Revolution

Checking out some protest songs lead me to Joan Baez. I’d also been reading about her and Bob Dylan during the week. For those of you paying attention you’ll know that I’m seriously trying to get into some Dylan tunes. But it isn’t working, not yet. However, I’d missed the connection between Joan and Heavy Metal. It’s her 1975 song, “Diamonds & Rust”. Also a staple of Judas Priest's live setlist. Both versions are excellent but we’ll go for the original this time.

Joan Baez – Diamonds and Rust

Thanks to the wonders of eBay I managed to pick up an album that has eluded me in the shops for ages. Thunder were a UK band in the late 80s and early 90s that played some pretty good blues based heavy rock. I have no idea why they weren’t more successful but I was glad to find their “Backstreet Symphony” album for only a few dollars. This next track is from a subsequent release but it rates a listen

Thunder – Low Life In High Places

If you’ve watched any of those dreadful “become a star” reality TV shows then you will have heard a multitude of singers destroying songs by this next artist. There’s a couple of reasons I like him. Firstly, his singing is seriously smooth – almost reminds me of Lionel Richie (and that’s good). And secondly because his guitar player has a seriously cool guitar. You don’t see too many Gibson SGs around just nowadays except in the hands of AC/DC’s Angus Young. They are fantastic guitars to play and a lot more versatile than many people expect.

John Legend – Wake Up Everybody

A conversation this week led me back to a few listens of some Carole King tunes. Watching some of her live performances should be essential and compulsory viewing for all fans of Glee. She’s a musician, performer and singer – all without autotune technology.

Carol King – I Feel The Earth Move (live)

Exciting news for me this week was Angus getting the cast removed from his arm. But it is good and bad news. The bad is that he can’t play any contact sport for two months or ride his bike for a while. He also got to keep the cast which he’d had signed by the whole Brumbies rugby team much to his delight. The good news is that his arm won’t take two hours to dry after washing!

Every year the Brumbies have a new “theme” song that is played when they run on to the ground. This year they’ve chosen a dreadful version of a great song. Why anyone felt the need to ruin this with “yo, yo” vocals over the top is beyond me. Here’s the original. Some songs should be left alone.

Led Zeppelin - Kashmir

Those that know, do. Those that understand, teach. (Aristotle)

Have a good weekend,

DJ Rob

Friday, February 18, 2011

Song of the Week #130

Last weekend I went and raced at Callala Beach which is near Nowra. What was meant to be a weekend at the coast with friends and family was altered by some fairly average weather, Angus being in a cast and the dog coughing. The family stayed at home but my friends came down.

On Friday it poured. On Saturday it was fairly average at best. AB and I had to wait until later in the afternoon to get out for a pre-race ride. We discovered that the road surface on the course was fairly dead and that there was a fair bit of climbing. At least we got a nice coffee in at Berry while we waited. DJ DoorE had an apparently awesome smoothie.

Joan Jett was programming a music TV show that I watched a few minutes of…had forgotten how good this was:

The Clash – Tommy Gun

Race day dawned with better weather, well, no rain at least! The 1km ocean swim was reasonable although I got seasick for a bit. The ride was pretty good (30km) and I quite enjoyed the 8km run. It was a well organised event so I reckon I’ll probably go again in the future. I still need more time swimming in the ocean to be comfortable in there but I’m sure that will come. Callala Beach is a really nice quiet spot – well worth a visit in the sunshine.

Sometimes, events happening around you just demand a song. Well, my Dad’s off today for a holiday….in Cambodia. Say no more!!

The Dead Kennedys – Holiday in Cambodia

I read this next artist’s name on the back of a magazine this morning and then checked out some tunes….wow!!

Rumer – Live at Bloomsbury Theatre – that’s a bit of a sampler. I’ll be checking out more from her.

This week Stryper released an album of cover songs. It had the potential to be a real stinker, cover/tribute albums often are. But, I’m telling you all, if you like rock ‘n’ roll then this is a must have. Fantastic versions of some classic tunes. Here’s a great version they’ve put together of a classic Deep Purple tune.

Stryper – Highway Star – harmonies, soaring guitars and a ton of energy. What more could you want?

But to finish, a track dragged out of my little used long term memory by DJ StaySee. If you were looking for a clip that matched the feel of a tune then this might just be the ticket. This song “feels” like it should be on a train. One I’d forgotten but I was happy to rediscover.

Bronski Beat – Smalltown Boy – and, yeah, I know what the lyrics are about. Get over it folks, it’s a great track.

Take my advice, listen to something new over the weekend…

DJ Rob

Friday, February 11, 2011

Song of the Week #129

Readers of my blog will be aware that Irish guitarist Gary Moore died last weekend. I was turned onto his music by a bandmate in the early 90s. It’s funny that the media is pushing the fact that he played for Thin Lizzy when in fact his solo work is better known.

Gary played hard rock early on and then moved into the blues. The discography he has left us showcases his virtuosity in both genres. His first blues album “Still Got The Blues” was a worldwide success and the first I really heard of him. Try this track:

Gary Moore – Walking By Myself – looks like one of The Proclaimers on the harmonica!

This next track is from an album I didn’t expect to like at all. Being pleasantly surprised is cool.

Fatboy Slim – That Old Pair Of Jeans

Can we dip back into the heavy stuff for a minute? It’s no secret that I was a HUGE fan of Canberra band Armoured Angel back in the 90s. I found this really good quality live clip on the web only the other day. I saw these guys play a number of times both here in Canberra as well as in Melbourne and Sydney. They always had something that other similar bands were missing. It wasn’t just about noise and aggression. I can’t put my finger on it but I still listen to their stuff today. Give it a spin.

Armoured Angel – Communion (live) – yep, the drummer is the singer. I think much admiration must go to a band who can use sanguineous in their lyrics and make it fit!

Shuffling music from my ever expanding collection is something I always enjoy. Not knowing quite what will come up next is a lot of fun. This next one came up yesterday. I absolutely love the guitar intro.

Tears for Fears – Everybody Wants To Rule The World – that’s from an album I have and play on vinyl. A remix, remaster, repackage isn’t always necessary.

And in pretty cool news, it has been reported that Neil Young will be inducting Tom Waits into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame.

Elton John has an album out with Leon Russell. And it is getting 5 star reviews all over the place. Listen for yourself, it’s worth it.

Elton John / Leon Russell – If It Wasn’t For Bad

Yeah, I know that Song of the Week has sort of morphed into songs but there’s so much good stuff out there!

I’ll finish this week with some cheesy rock from the 80s. I played the album that this song comes from on the way to swimming on Tuesday night and I’d forgotten just how much I liked it. Of course, your mileage may vary but it has everything. Loud guitars, long hair, fabulous outfits, cheesy lyrics and some great playing! Not everything has to be super serious.

Europe – Rock The Night – do you think the singer’s real name is Joey Tempest??!

I’m racing at Callala Beach this weekend so I hope the rain stops soon. Swimming and running are just fine but cycling in the wet can be a bit hairy.

Teach your children well,

DJ Rob

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Gary Moore - dead at 58

Gary Moore, a great rock and blues guitarist died over the weekend aged 58.

Gary was out of Belfast in Northern Ireland and played with Thin Lizzy as well as having a stellar solo career.

His "Still Got The Blues" album has a picture on it that was a huge influence on me as a young guitar player. I coveted his guitar, amp and the Marshal Guv'nor pedal. I only ever had the pedal but it's OK to dream.

Try this track on for size. Click here.

RIP Gary.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Song of the week #128

This week has been interesting. I’m back at work, I have a new office AND a new boss. All of these things are good. I reckon the day you stop enjoying your job is the day to look for a new one. I spent a long time in a previous job not really enjoying it and moving on was the best move, even if I had to be pushed a little!


There’s no rock music this week. I’d hate anyone out there to think I was one dimensional.


I guess the big news in our house is Angus’ broken arm. An argument during backyard tennis escalated from verbal taunts about cheating to the demanding of a hawkeye replay. This not being forthcoming the opponent whacked Angus’ elbow with his racquet. Pain resulted as did 5hrs for Angus and I at the hospital emergency department. We managed to watch the entire Australian Open Women’s’ Final between x-ray and seeing the doctor. The result…a fractured humerus. Needless to say, nobody is particularly impressed at this chain of events. And the scorching weather isn’t helping the young man in the cast. Or his Mum who has this week at home with him. Let’s move on before I get really cross and turn into The Hulk.


Today DJ McG gave me a few CDs to listen to. He always provides me with a cool range of tunes to check out. And I flicked through a few tracks. This got me to thinking about the way that we listen to albums today. In the pre-CD/MP3 days you were pretty much bound to listening to an album right through unless you had a cool mix tape or were a dab hand with the rewind button. I liked cassettes. They were robust, portable and you could use them over and over again. You could even unscrew them and replace the housing if you had to. And as long as you didn’t leave them in the glovebox they were the go anywhere, do anything medium of the music world. Not to mention playing with the speed or pitch when you were recording your garage band!


I think that the CD and the MP3 mean that we are really quick to judge a tune and move on. It is so easy to listen to the first few seconds of a track and decide you have to click through to the next one. I wonder if I can get an adaptor to play cassettes in the car!?


Being a wannabe DJ as a teenager, I was always recording and editing mix tapes. I don’t have many left for some reason but I still have all my other tapes. My parents have a few here and there that I made and I laugh at the song selection sometimes when I see them. So, my resolution is to let new songs have a bit more of an opportunity to get into my head rather than shaking the iPod and my head too!


There is one mix tape that I do have. It’s on an old orange and black BASF 60 minute cassette and it was made for me when we lived in Singapore. I had hair then. And a lot of freckles. And probably not a care in the world. It was before I started school! Here’s a couple of tracks from it…and from that era of my life. That’s the early 70s for all you young ‘uns.


The Bear Necessities – Jungle Book Soundtrack I’m not sure that a film soundtrack could be any better. I have a feeling that this was the first movie I was taken to. And it still stacks up.


I’m A Tiger - Lulu Music videos have come a long way. Another famous Scot.


Vincent – Don McLean A truly sublime tune.         


I have a terrible confession to make. I’ve gone to the Dark Side. Just call me Darth Woozle. Yep, I weakened and got an iPhone. It arrived on Weds evening. And despite the complete lack of any form of instructions from Telstra it is up and running. I’ll admit it, I’m a convert. It is super cool technology. That isn’t to say that other phone operating systems aren’t groovy as well (Alison’s HTC running Android is fab) but I am surprised how good the iPhone is. And I was a sceptic for so long. I think the only thing I don’t like is the clunky way you have to go about making a song a ringtone…boooooooring. Wasn’t long before Baba O’Reilly was ringing out however.


Star Wars LEGO has been something I’ve dabbled in for a number of years. I really liked the mini-kits that came out a few years and have a full collection in my office at work. Not to mention a few other pieces. But there was one I just couldn’t find in stores no matter how hard I tried. And so it was off to eBay. After a few weeks missing out by a dollar here and 50 cents there I jagged one at a good price. Now Luke’s Landspeeder complete with Obi-Wan and droids is on the way to Mos Eisley via my shelf! Too cool. What’s next?


While the Star Wars theme has to be one of the most famous of all time, I prefer this piece of music. Dark, sinister, brooding, perfect.


Imperial Death March


Did I mention the dog has lost his voice…’s oh so quiet….for a short while!


Go hard or go home.


DJ Rob