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

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