Friday, February 24, 2012

Song of the Week #183

Hi everyone,
Finally at nearly 10:30 on Friday night I've got time to get some thoughts down this week. This is in stark contrast to last week's episode which was written over the whole 7 days!
Back to last Sunday...I raced the Long Course Triathlon at Huskisson on the NSW South Coast – it's a great spot. The race went pretty well for me. The 2km swim and the 83km bike ride both went past without incident and in good time. Even the first 10km of the 20km run was good. But at about the 13km mark my ITB started to play up – something that hasn't been an issue for two years really. To cut a long story short, I swore, I stretched, I walked and I jogged all the way to the end. My run time was pretty average but I was still 18 minutes under my target of 6hrs for the whole day. I'm taking an extended break from longer triathlons now – after a half-Ironman, a full Ironman and this I think I've proved to myself that I can do it. I enjoy the longer training sessions though so I'll train long and race short(er).
After last week's episode, MC Doc contacted me to complain that with all that talk of KISS he was disappointed that the band themselves weren't featured. Well fair enough, I can't disappoint loyal listeners and I always consider requests. But here's a twist for y'all. The best tribute album ever in my opinion is called "KISS my ass". And this is my favourite track from it.
Only KISS could get away with playing on their own tribute album.
Along with a lot of other people I've watched on in disbelief as the Australian Labor Party has imploded over the last few days. After that performance they don't deserve to be in power. I am amazed that any of our politicians could possibly think that their very public infighting and mud slinging could endear them to the voting public. As Billy Connolly would say, "it's a good kick in the arse they're needing!"
I've always thought that our system of compulsory voting was a good thing. And from my first experience of voting at 18 I've been a supporter of the slightly more left side of Australian politics. Now for the first time in my life I can't see any of those idiots in the major parties looking like they're worth my scrawl on the ballot paper.
Ages ago I mentioned the Human Time Project to you dear reader. The idea was that if you bought a watch from them they also donated one to medical teams in Africa so that people didn't die from getting their medication at the wrong time and things like that. Well...I ordered in October. And I waited. And I waited some more. And then some more again. Then I emailed. Then I ranted on their Facebook page. And the watch arrived today. It is very cool. It's a great idea but their communication with me left a lot to be desired.
There's a few pivotal songs that have influenced my musical tastes and also the sounds I search for on my guitars. This is one of them and I'll admit that I'm never really sure whether to play it or not. Or I was until I found this version. Classic!
I really, really like Queen when they are in full flight. This is their best song in my opinion. I clearly remember learning the guitar riffs for this one. They are an excellent alternative to Stairway to Heaven in any guitar shop. Everyone knows what you're playing and just smiles.
I've had the album that this next song is on playing on the record player this week. It seems like a good one to share – I think my family has had enough of it for a while though!
Last week I mentioned Ice-T. You all know him from Law and Order but to me he was one of the few rap artists I could ever be bothered listening to. His lyrics and vocal delivery just always sounded and felt very authentic to me. Disturbing too.
With Alison away for a few days I've cranked up the stereo and put on some hard rock and metal albums that I haven't listened to for a while. It isn't that she objects to the music but maybe to the piles of old cassettes in the lounge room! Some of these older albums are so good that I better get a list together and get them on CD. Or vinyl maybe. There are some seriously worn out cassettes in the pile!
Sometimes the cheesiest bands surprise me when I go back and recognise that despite all the hairspray and makeup they really could play.
The last band this week is one I was introduced to by the lead guitarist in the first band I ever played in. He thought was was Stevie Ray Vaughan reincarnated and he wasn't far wrong at times. I learned a lot from him and the rest of the band about how to play in a group. Of course I got my first taste of band politics as well when they dropped me and the singer so that they could form a blues trio! The Black Crowes were the band he turned me onto. They were pretty new at the time and their cover of Otis Redding's "Hard to Handle" was in the charts. We played it and I loved it. I still do. You can groove on the B chord for the whole verse just adding little bits here and there. And Jason could play the scorching guitar solo as well. I'll finish with two tracks from the Black Crowes, the Otis cover and then my favourite song of theirs – it's a quiet one.'s late and even the dog is snoring. Goodnight.
DH Rob

Friday, February 17, 2012

Song of the Week #182

I've set myself a challenge this week; and that's to have a good look through my CD collection for songs and bands that aren't regular listens for me but that deserve an airing. Hopefully you'll hear something you like that you haven't heard before. Let me know if anything in particular tickles your fancy as I'm always interested to hear why people do and don't like particular tunes.

But before I begin a quick gig review. Should I be reviewing a show I played in? Why not? "H" recorded the gig on his iPhone and was kind enough to give me a CD to listen to. Firstly, can I say two thumbs up to Apple - as the voice memo function and microphone on the iPhone do a pretty damned good job. There's a much wider frequency range on the recording than I expected and nothing sounds brittle or harsh.

I'm sure that it won't be long until some clever spark builds a multi-track recorder app for the iPhone - in fact it's probably already done! An adaptor for maybe 4 microphones and some faders would just rock!

The show was particularly well attended with the crowd spilling out of the cafe and into the attached book shop. I didn't realise this until about 5 songs in when I began to relax. It was my first gig in about 5 years and I was pretty nervous to start with.

Playing the old Eko acoustic through my 1 watt valve amp plugged into the 2x12" Marshall speaker box was a great sound. Big, full and bright without being overpowering. I can't rave enough about how awesome the 1 watt Blackstar amplifier is. Even on its own through its little 8" speaker it packs a punch. Amplifying an acoustic guitar and having it not sound tinny is a challenge even for pro musicians (and something that Bon Jovi can't seem to get right) and I think I've hit on a pretty good combination. My few solo notes at the end of "Thunder Road “pleased me no end. (After we were done with the Nebraska album we played Thunder Road, Wreck on the Highway and Ramrod).

I enjoyed the show and the audience reaction was very positive - and given the fairly dark nature of the album we were covering that was pretty pleasing.

"H" and "Chief" are just excellent to play with. They coped admirably with my few bum notes and constant worry about what key each song was in. I DID have it written down but I'm a worrier and I can't transpose in my head on the fly! I should point out that "Chief" had taught himself the harmonica from scratch in about 2 weeks for this show awesome effort. I'm off to see them with their full "E-Street" band playing a big Springsteen show here in Canberra. If you like good music then this gig on 3/3 won't disappoint. I'm hoping that the seat I got is in a good location so that I can try recording a track or two on my iPhone!

Before I get into the tracks you may not have heard I'll play one last Springsteen track. I really didn't like this one after listening to it on the CD but our version is a bit more upbeat. Blind faith isn’t always the answer.

OK then. Here we go.

First up is a feel good track that is really VERY derivative but maddeningly catchy. I'm not sure that the band has had any other success but I remember Alison and I getting the album years ago on the strength of the single. I couldn't even name another track from the CD! But this one is fun and the intro clearly identifies the band as KISS fans - don't let that put you off if you aren't a card carrying member of the KISS Army!

Rhino Bucket are a band that sound so much like AC/DC that sometimes you'd swear they were a tribute band. Last year I happened across some acoustic versions of their songs and I was surprised at how well they managed to carry it off. Instead of being a full ahead rocker the blues influence comes out in this track.

Funk isn't really a musical genre that I delve into that often. I do, however, have Sly & The Family Stone on vinyl which is a real treat. Last year I bought a James Brown live CD from iTunes but the production values totally sucked and when our laptop was stolen I lost those tracks. One day I'll do some research and find a live slab from the Godfather of Soul that doesn't sound like it was recorded inside a shortbread tin lined with tin foil! But with the Grammys being on this week I heard of a guy called Syl Johnson (via ) and checked out some tracks. They were pretty good but the search led me to this next artist. Again, a new discovery for me and I can guarantee I'll be looking for some CDs to purchase. Wow!!

The 90s were a pretty good time for guitar music, especially when you consider some of the worst that the 80s had to offer! A band that I really got into was Soul Asylum. Their combination of gritty guitar, solid melody and interesting lyrics had me hooked for a while. And there's just something about a Telecaster that screams credibility if you're a singer. Maybe it's all because of Joe Strummer. Anyway, this isn't their big hit (Runaway Train) which everyone has probably heard but a better song. I’ve only got this album on cassette so I better hit eBay later on!

Let's go back to worship at the altar of KISS for a minute and throw in a heavy Beatles influence. Does that sound weird? Well then, if it sounds OK then dropping the needle on a platter from this next band might just be worth your time. I bought their EP back in 1994 one week with my last few dollars when I was living in Melbourne doing a computer course with the Army. I also bought Ice-T's "Gotta Lotta Love" single that day but the radio or album version wasn't on it and it turned out to be a disappointment. I love the hairstyles and moves in this clip...

Can I stay with the Beatles just for a minute? This next band take everything good that the Fab Four did and mix it up with classic Metallica tunes, lyrics and sounds.

I really didn't think it would work but if you are a fan of both bands then it'll give you a laugh. There are obviously serious musicians in this group with a great sense of humour. And as most of the comments on YouTube say, the singer sounds more like Metallica's James Hetfield than he does himself these days.

When it comes to interesting band names, Toad the Wet Sprocket almost takes the cake. They are a band I only know from their appearance on a tribute album and I played that track somewhere in the first 10 installments of Song of the Week. Somehow I doubt anyone will remember it since we're nearly at episode 200! Try this track on for size - if you like your music with a strong melody and not too loud then this is for you...

And yes, I know that the band name is a Monty Python reference but that really doesn’t impress me.

How are you travelling? I hope that some readers make it this far as there are only three tracks left and I promise that they are all killer, no filler! I might just duck off to make a coffee so listen to this…

In the 90's I was fortunate enough to make friends with DJ Sutto. He shared my passion for the heavier side of music and unlike a lot of metal fans he had more than a few brain cells to rub together! He got me into Queensryche in a big way and that's music I'm still listening to. In a roundabout way he got me into the next band as we crashed at the house of one of the members in Sydney after seeing Motorhead. It wasn't a band that lasted all that long but their show and CD were bloody good. I don't know why they broke up in 1999 but it's a shame.

And now, dear friends, we're at the end. When I played the guitar for The Dark Violence of Beauty this next band got a very regular airing from some of the boys in the group. I liked quite a few songs but the live and bootleg recordings I heard were dreadful. These are two of my favourite songs and I'm glad that someone found quality live versions to share. I was unsure which track to play so you can have both. If you like covers, Dolly Parton and wearing black then the first one is for you. If you prefer Lewis Carol, spidery guitar lines and wearing black then perhaps the second one!

In the words of Austin Powers, "...and I'm spent...!"

See you next week for the Huski Long Course Tri race report and more tunes!

DJ Rob
(to unsubscribe just email me with details of what KISS' Gene Simmons studied at University)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Song of the Week #181

Well the first teaching week of the year is almost over. I’ve been pretty lucky with my group of students it seems. They are pretty chatty but they are getting through the coursework at an amazing rate of knots! And that’s cool.


Of course my kids have started back as well. Funny to think that my little girl is in her final year of High School – and she’s pretty bloody pleased at being one of the “big kids”. Angus is taking Outdoor Ed as one of his subjects. It sounds like they get to do team building, mountain biking, hiking, camping, snorkeling and caving all in a semester – wow! Why didn’t I train to teach all that!


Congratulations this week to DJ AB who got himself on the podium riding crits. Not a bad turn of speed for a guy training for an Ironman. And good luck to MC Dongles who is off to Geelong to race.


I guess the big news in triathlon this week is that Lance Armstrong has finally announced a swag of half-ironman and ironman races that he is going to compete in. It will be very interesting to see how he goes. He does have a background in triathlon as a junior to draw on as well as some very solid training partners and mentors. And we all know he doesn’t like to lose! I’ll go out on a limb and bet that he goes top 10 at Kona. Yep, I’m a fan. An integral part of his campaign is to raise $1m for cancer research.


I put new strings on my oldest guitar the other night – the guitar that’s older than me that has been handed down from my Dad. DJ E17 remarked that with the guitar being so heavy that I was relaxing and weightlifting all at once! But the new strings sound a treat – bright and bold. It’s looking good for the Nebraska shows.


DJ E17 gets two mentions this week as he sent ma a double DVD which is pretty much everything Joan Jett has done including some interview footage. I’d forgotten this track even though I have it on a cassingle somewhere. It’s not too bad…


Joan Jett – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap


This next song is one that’s been on rotation during some of my long run recently. It’s a band that some of my school friends were into. I’ve got one or two albums and while it isn’t a band I’d listen to very regularly they had their moments.


Petra – Beat The System


Personally, if I’m looking for motivation, encouragement or just a good kick in the pants then I’ll go for this next track every time:


Rollins Band - Shine


After a quick conversation about punk, MC McG arrived at my desk with two slabs of vinyl. One is an early compilation and the other a blue vinyl LP of UK Subs greatest hits. Foolishly I always thought UK Subs was something to do with being underwater while it turns out that they were originally called UK Subversives. Here’s a song from the compilation that made me laugh. Don’t take life too seriously folks, it’ll grind you down.


The Business – Harry May


I think I shocked H this week when I revealed my love of almost all things Kylie. Seriously, for a girl who really couldn’t sing she’s done OK. Kylie understands the need to put on a good live show.


Kylie – Some Kind Of Bliss


So, with Huski Long Course Triathlon just over a week away I’ve got an easier week coming up. I’ll get a  longish ride in tomorrow and maybe a swim. Add to that a run on Sunday and then I’ll be taking the week relatively easy ahead of my anticipated approximately 6 hours of racing. Racing really is the wrong word…as long as I’m moving forward it’ll be all good!


Right then, I’m off to get ready for tonight’s show…it’ll take me ages to do my hair!


Stevie Wright – Evie




DJ Rob

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Friday, February 3, 2012

Song of the Week #180

Anyone who thinks that Australia is a sunburnt country obviously hasn’t been to Canberra this Summer. Really, it has been very, very average. The garden likes it but running this morning at 6am in cold and rain was far from pleasant. Any more of this and I’ll be looking at getting a treadmill!

I haven’t listened to too much new music this week as I’m concentrating on the Springsteen songs. The show is coming together pretty well. Remember 4pm, 12 Feb at Beyond Q in Curtin. It’s free but the venue isn’t massive.

But I did manage to tear myself away from my 47th listening of Nebraska to check out just a few tunes for your listening pleasure.

Rage Against The Machine were a rather loud politically charged band. I wasn’t a huge fan but they had a few good tracks. RATM guitarist Tom Morello went out on his own with an interesting mix  of folk and rock. He calls himself The Nightwatchman and the tracks I’ve heard certainly rate further investigation. This one stands out, not necessarily as a result of the lyrics but because of the staccato nature of the way Tom spits out the chorus – it just sounds great.

Vincent Furnier has a new album and I’m excited. He just keeps on truckin’ and his live show is a real treat. The album is a follow up to his big seller Welcome To My Nightmare from 1975. The new stuff is cool but this must be the definitive version of the title track of the first album in 1975…

I’m particularly excited that the Super Rugby season starts in about 3 weeks. After a rather average summer of cricket I’m hoping for some good games. We’ve stumped up the cash to be Brumbies members so they’d better deliver!

In the last week of the holidays I bought a music magazine with the obligatory free sampler CD. This disc has turned out to be quite a hoot. Apart from having The Damned on it as well as Joe Strummer there are a whole lot of bands that are new to me. The song selection is great but sometimes the band name means that you know you just have to listen to their track. This is one of those. Very, very funny. The song I wanted to play I cannot find but this will give you a good idea of what they are like. Probably for fans of Stray Cats, Living End, Peaches, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, White Stripes or Petula Clark.

Yesterday I had to take the scooter in for a service. They loaned me a new one to get to work on. It was the most dreadful shade of light pastel blue and hopefully no-one recognized me riding it! But on the way down the road a car passed me and this song was blaring out of the window. It stuck in my head and I reckon it should stick in your too.

So cheesy, so good!

Later y’all, I’ve got a bus to catch. I wonder if Elvis will be on it like he was earlier in the week?
DJ Rob