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)

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