Saturday, April 28, 2012

Song of the Week #192

A warm and hearty welcome to you all. I don't feel like DJ Rob this week, I feel like taxi driver and driving instructor Rob!
Yep, I took Zoë to the Motor Registry and after filling out forms, standing in lines and avoiding the Group W bench we left after an hour with her licence. So far I've taken her out driving three times and really, she's not bad. I'm a little surprised at how calm I have been (at least inwardly). I will freely admit that I hated learning to drive. I only got around to it when I was in my first band here in Canberra and decided I needed some wheels!
This week has also marked Angus ensuring that any company making rugby gear for boys will remain in business. Who would've have thought that a simple sport needed so much gear? I shouldn't really complain though, he wears all the protective gear without complaint and that is something to be thankful for. Given that Angus weighs about 40kg if he has rocks in his pockets it is probably natural for Alison and I to be concerned about the 14 year old forwards who weigh in excess of 80kg!! Lucky he's fearless.
Ralph McTell is an English singer-songwriter who is in the country at the moment. I'm guessing that even if you don't know his name that you know one of his songs – "Streets of London". You can jump on YouTube and see him performing it on Top of the Pops! However, give this a spin...
During the week I picked up a copy of a magazine called "Classic Rock". It wasn't bad with a reasonable balance between old bands and new ones in the old style! Joe Bonamassa was on the cover. He's a blues guitarist that I've always avoided for some reason. Any review I've read has said something like, "yeah, well, um, good guitarist but no soul". With the magazine was a free CD of his best work. Apart from the fact that only half the tracks would actually play I was pleasantly surprised. He plays very well and does a wide range of tunes. On the strength of the sampler CD I could see myself purchasing one of his LPs. That's if they weren't quite so expensive here. Here's Joe with his band.
I'd seen pictures of this next band and made an assumption that, combined with their name, that were a pretend Goth/trash/noise band. So I ignored them. That was silly. To quote one of the most important philosophers of modern times, "D'oh!!" Then I read a few articles that kept dropping their name in here and there so I steeled myself and checked out some tunes. Well, they're more New Order than Neubaten. Very 80's influenced and worth a listen.
DJ FatBoy put me onto a TV show called "In Gordon Street Tonight". It's a chat show I guess. I think it's a bit lightweight at times and tries too hard to be funny but there have been some good moments. This week Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) was on. He's here in Australia for a while and there's also a stage show called "Moonshadow" featuring his songs. What impressed me about him was that he spoke about optimism in music and in life. Often I think that optimism (especially at work) is my fatal flaw. But seriously, wouldn't you rather think the best of people than being negative the whole time?
When I sat down to write this episode I had considered just including one song – the next one. I discovered it during the week and I've been playing it (and the album) over and over. I think the track is great and the video clip is a helluva lot of fun. I've listened to a few tracks from these guys in the past and they were pretty good but this is taking things to another level. The musicianship, the songwriting and the production are just stellar. I wonder how they'll go pulling this one off live? And do you reckon the drummer is trying to look like Johnny Depp in the Pirates films?? 
See you all next week when I'm back at work counting down until the next holidays
DJ Rob

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Song of the Week #191

It's a laid back Song of the Week this time – I've been on school holidays for a few days. That might explain why it's late as well!
We've had a couple of birthdays with me being older and Angus being 14. On top of that Zoë has passed the theory test and will get her learner drivers licence on Thursday. Pretty cool huh?
Last Sunday I ran the Canberra Half Marathon. It was pretty cool to turn up to a race and not have to worry about a bike, helmet, run shoes, swim gear etcetera, etcetera! I had a few friends running – DJ COJ and MC JoJo who both did excellent times. I knew they'd be faster than me so I let them be! However Big Al said he'd like to run for me for a while at least. My plan was to stick with him for a couple of kilometres and then see how I felt. It turned out pretty well as we settled into a cruisy pace of 5.30 per km and sat there the whole way. Usually I find running with other people for any distance very difficult but we just chatted the whole way and the time passed pretty quickly. 21km was enough though – not really keen on a full marathon any time soon.
The half-marathon brings my season to an end. I'm pretty happy with it really – there was a good variety of races and I enjoyed myself. Now I need to plan for winter and look further ahead as well. The 24hr Mountain Bike Race in October might be on the cards as well as attending to unfinished business in the Triple Tri later on. We'll see.
Just another word on Angus' birthday. He wanted a particular skateboard which he designed himself on the internet. After weeks of his agonising and changing the design a link to the website and the specifications appeared on a note stuck to the fridge! He was pretty chuffed to actually get it. But, he bashed the side of his foot today teaching his sister how to skate! I'm wondering how long it can be before he gets into skater music...
Henry Rollins is in the country! Woo hoo! Alison and I will be seeing him in a couple of weeks. He was on TV on a talk show not too long ago. I'm not sure that he thought much of the other guests including Bindi Irwin, perhaps we'll hear all about it at his show. Here's a fairly good clip of Henry explaining himself...
Sheesh, Suicidal Tendencies and Rollins....hardly laid back are we! As I see there's no going back so brace yourselves!
I've watched a few movies this week as well. Here are two that you should avoid, "Age of Heroes" (about British Commando's in WWII Norway) and "The Eagle" (about the Romans/Hadrian's Wall and Scotland). Both of these are almost complete drivel. Glad I only paid $2 each to rent them. However, it's not all bad. I also watched a very black comedy which is based on a true story. "Burke and Hare" is a film about two Irishmen in 1800's Edinburgh who earn a living providing cadavers for medical research. It's funny and a bit gross but well worth a look. If you liked "Sean of the Dead" or "The Two Ronnies" there is something here for you (except Isla Fisher's appalling attempt at a Scots accent).
ANZAC Day is coming up. It makes me mad that the shops close on Good Friday and Christmas Day but open on ANZAC Day. Grrrrrrrr. But anyway, just remember it's about honouring those who served and who still do. It isn't about who is right or wrong – that's for politicians.
Last week I played a tune by a band called Alabama Shakes. And I think I'll play another. It's a while since I've heard a relatively new band making sounds that I find exciting. Maybe King Cannons were the last ones. Anyway, I've now noticed that Triple J radio is playing the single for Alabama Shakes so here's hoping that they are successful! This is such an antidote to the perfectly processed and manicured pop bands that we are assaulted with. That and the hip hop artists who think they are the greatest. Get a life.
Levon Helm (from The Band) died during the week. Very sad indeed – cancer again. Here he is with Sheryl Crow. The song seems appropriate.
After last week, DJ Doc told me that he thought most folks were either Stones fans or Beatles fans. I probably sit slightly further into the Beatles camp. That isn't to say that I worship blindly at the altar o the Fab Four – they have some truly dreadful recorded moments in my opinion (most of the Magical Mystery Tour album) but they are more consistent, in my opinion, than the Stones ever were or have been. I know it isn't at all politically correct but one of my favourite song lines of all time is from the Rolling Stones classic "Brown Sugar". "I bet your momma was a tent show queen..." just struts off the record – rock and roll perfection.
Even when the Beatles are at their coolest, they're no where near Mick Jagger.
And if you don't think this next mega-successful band aren't a Stones tribute band in disguise.....
I clearly remember fronting up the cash for the Aerosmith album that the previous song comes from. They'd reformed and the promo videos piqued my interest. "Permanent Vacation" is a great album although I suspect it isn't a classic because it's too rock and roll. They graduated to schmaltzy ballads after that. What a shame.
Last year I got right into an album by Roky Erickson. The band he chose to play on the record with him were this next lot. This tune is one of the top 100 for 2011 on which surprised me. I was looking at the list hoping to find something cool. I guess I did. This really is a band I have to listen to more of. I've taken to writing a list in the Notes section on my phone...but it's quite long!
Quite often it seems the best songs are inspired by tradgedy or horrific events. But this one snuck up on me. It's a song I've always thought is pretty cool and along with Elvis Costello's "Welcome To The Working Week" starts a Monday off fairly well. But what I didn't know is that this next song is about a woman who shot from her window into a school yard in 1979. She killed two people and wounded nine and is still in prison. At her trial she is reported to have said she did the crime because  "I don't like Mondays". Bob Geldof wrote a classic song about it.
That's a bit of a dreary note to end on but there you have it!
See you all next week.
DJ Rob

Friday, April 13, 2012

Song of the Week #190

Hooray! That’s Term 1 for 2012 done and dusted. Two weeks now until we carry on where we left off as educators.

What to do with those precious two weeks is the big question! Well, Zoë will be at camp and then three days of Road Ready training so that she can get her learners’ permit. OH MY GOODNESS! Alison has a real job so she’ll be busy. That leaves Angus and I to cause mayhem. Maybe we’ll head to some mountain biking trails with the helmet camera and see what we can do.

Earlier in the week I felt that I had a lot to say that wasn’t necessarily aimed at all my Song of the Week readers. If you’re interested in some of my more serious thoughts on illness and death then it’s all here:

Can I just say that if I had to choose a muscle strain to give to my worst enemy then I reckon a glute would be right up there on the list. It hurts and takes ages to get better. And it’s a pain in the a**e (or a** for my American readers).

The weekend in Melbourne to watch Australian football was a blast. Seeing two games in a day certainly tired us out but not too much to strut around the Tan the next morning for a run and a coffee. Here’s a track for DJ’s COJ and AB.

We followed up that night by sitting up to watch Paris-Roubaix cycling. It was a pretty amazing performance by Tom Boonen to go out by himself with 55km to go. Personally I think he’s not been good for cycling with his party and drug taking antics, but, if he can keep his social life under control and ride like this it could be an exciting season.

For Brisbane based readers get along to Hannigan’s on Apr 15th at 1pm to see DJ Ducky singing. She’s got a great voice. If you like sultry jazz and blues then you won’t be disappointed.

And for Canberra readers, get to PJ O’Reilly’s in Tuggeranong on April 28th to see DJ AK and his band The Experience tear the place up with 60’s and 70’s classic rock.

I heard this next tune being played here at school this week. The guy who played it did a good job so I went back to the original for a listen. Great track.

I had to laugh during the week when I read that Lenny Kravitz is apparently a rock legend. Hello!!?? I don’t think so. He’s a star I suppose but legend is a real stretch. That isn’t to say that he hasn’t had a couple of good songs. This is his best in my opinion.

With the fact that there is basically nothing at all broadcast on the TV worth watching we’ve been searching for other stuff to watch. Yep, it’s true – I don’t blog, listen to music or train 24/7. At the moment we’re almost through the first season of the US TV drama, “Sons of Anarchy”. It’s a look inside a fistitious motorcycle club but some of it seems just a bit real. I know that the characters and language are cleaned up a bit for the tube but it’s still pretty disturbing. Not disturbing like the prison drama, Oz, but still it has the potential to give you some weird dreams. It has some well known cast members, notably Ron Perlman (Tom Waits’ uglier twin!) and Katy Sagal (Married With Children, Futurama). Worth watching? Sure.

Here’s a new track which I heard for the first time today. I noticed this band because their name is cool – see if DOES matter! Wow, this is just great!

The Rolling Stones are not a band that I am a huge fan of. For the most part I find their work sloppy and patchy with glimmers of brilliance. I picked up a CD that covers their Sticky Fingers album really not expecting to be anything but underwhelmed but I was wrong. Try this on for size…

There is one Rolling Stones song that I really like however. And the cover on the CD is great too. I’ll finish with them – both worth a few minutes of your time.

That’s all folks. No unsubscribe message this week – just let me know…if you dare!

DJ Rob

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Illness, death and tattoos

When I was a boy, a long time ago now, tattoos were for sailors and bikers. These days it seems like every second person is sporting some body art. Some is tasteful, some amusing, some cultural and then there is the career ending type on your neck or face (don't do it kids - seriously).

I remember vividly as a kid being shown pictures of what happened when tattoos had to be removed - back in those days it was belt sanders and skin grafts pretty much. Not nice.

I was tattooed in 2011 - it's the Ironman logo and it's on my ankle for all to see. I'm damned proud of being an Ironman and getting the ink done for me was part of the whole experience. It hurt a lot more than I really care to remember - certainly more than the 13.5 hrs that the race took me.

I was looking through my Ironman photos and there are a couple that really got me thinking. Before I raced I got out the permanent marker and wrote in big black letters on both forearms. On one side I wrote "AZA" for Alison, Zoë and Angus. They weren't with me in Western Australia for the race but their love and support had got me that far and I had a feeling I'd need it that day as well. On the other side I wrote "GJI". Those are the initials of one of my best friends who had died in January 2010. In December it was still a raw wound and in 2012 it still is. I felt that I wanted Glenn with me as well - we'd talked about this race a fair bit. The Ironman and the achievement of finishing is history now but the pictures resonated today.

I have a couple of friends who are very ill at the moment. For both of them the prognosis isn't fantastic. One is stuck in a hospital where he has to be in a sterile environment, the other is fortunate enough to be able to be at home with his family.

The problem is that as a friend there's nothing much I can do to help these guys and I feel useless. Sure, I can talk to them, email them and channel every positive vibe I can muster their way but it just doesn't seem enough.

I could wallow in self-pity but that isn't helping anyone - and it's them that are sick rather than me. I'm healthy, my family loves me and I have a good job. So, what to do?

Well, there are a couple of things that define who I am. I'm a husband, not always a great one but I think a lot better than I was a few years ago. I'm a father as well. Again, I'm not perfect but there isn't a moment that I don't love my kids and want the best for them. I'm a son as well and I've done some pretty bad stuff to both my parents. Luckily these are things that we've worked through. And I'm a brother and an uncle. Probably not as close as I'd like to be but the tyranny of distance is a killer. There are two other things that I think also define me as a person -  music and sport. The balance isn't always right between these and the previous things I mentioned but they feature greatly in my life.

When Glenn died I tried to put how I felt to music. But I'd get ideas down and then find them to be too close to other songs or just really naff. In the past I've written what I consider to be some good songs but almost two years after his death it's something I can't get to click. 

My chosen sports are triathlon and mountain biking. I like the feeling of being fit and healthy and the social aspect as well. I'm not blessed with any particularly amazing natural ability and I have to work hard to be at all competitive. But the journey is what's important to me. It's mental as well as physical.

I've got my last race of the season this Sunday. It's the Canberra Half-Marathon (21km run). I'll be racing with more permanent marker initials drawn on my arms. It isn't much but for me it's a tribute to those that I am thinking of. I'm not running for them, I'm running for me - but I do want them along for the journey in one way or another.

Tattoos tell stories for most people that have them - mine certainly does. I'm not at all interested in going back for more ink at the moment but if a few words in black marker on my arm help me deal with pain, anguish and a feeling of helplessness then that'll work for me.

Thanks for reading this,
DJ Rob

Friday, April 6, 2012

Song of the Week #189

One sleep until I'm off to Melbourne to see the Mighty Collingwood Magpies play! Can't wait. From the itinerary and associated documentation provided by DJs COJ and AB it looks like we'll have a blast! Look out for us cutting a hot lap of The Tan on Sunday morning.
Speaking of running, I've got the Canberra 1/2 Marathon next weekend (13miles/21km). It's a long, long time since I've done a running race without a swim and a ride prior! I had my last long run today. 14km from our place down to Lake Burley Griffin where Alison was kind enough to pick me up. It was a glorious day here in the National Capital – sunny and a light breeze. I've invested in "quad guards" to try and keep my ITB in check. Basically they are compression sleeves that you wear on your quads. Who knows why they work but if today's run and last night's mountain biking escapades are anything to go by then they were worth the expense.
Jim Marshall died yesterday (not a relative). He was the founder of Marshall Amplification and possibly one of the most influential people in music in the last 50 years. I got my first Marshall amp in about 1995 and a bigger one a few years later. I always thought it was kind of cool to have my name on my gear! RIP Jim.
Here's a couple of clips featuring Jim's iconic amplifiers.
While we're on Marshall amps, how's this for a home entertainment system? It belongs to Lita Ford (ex-Runaways). Might talk to Alison about re-modelling our lounge room.

Lita who I hear you say. Check this out all you closet metal fans.

Lita Ford – Dancing On The Edge(live)

One of my favourite bands is in Canberra this weekend. Of course I'll be in Melbourne! Such is life. I was introduced to Battlefield Band in 1988 and I've been listening to them ever since. They have an ever changing lineup but the tunes are always fantastic. This is a personal favourite of mine. If you only listened to one song this week then choose this – and wait for the bagpipes to kick in as it's a real treat.

Battlefield Band – The Rovin' Dies Hard

Angus' passion is rugby – that's not news! In the last few weeks he's played in a couple of tournaments as well as two practice matches. And on Wednesday he spent the whole day refereeing at a primary schools carnival. That's not a bad effort when the season hasn't started yet. The primary school carnival is named after one of Australia's best ever players, Matt Giteau. Angus has a signed life size poster of Matt on his wall. When I mentioned on Twitter that Angus had reffed all day Matt Giteau sent him a note of thanks – that gave Angus a massive smile I can tell you.

DJ H has been trying to see if he can guess any of the tunes I might play each week. I don't try to be deliberately obtuse but there's usually no rhyme or reason to the selection other than they pop into my head during the week. I reckon he might have suspected that this next one might get an airing though!!

Marillion – Easter

This week I was introduced to the band Sabaton by MC McG. They are a Swedish band who sing mostly about war from a historical perspective. Makes a change from dragons, wenches, beer and fast cars I guess. They are very much in the melodic power metal genre which is OK in limited doses. They sing in English and I've been playing their latest album all week at work – not bad at all. You can see for yourself. It's an expensive looking music video too so I reckon their record company has faith in them to continue to do well.

Sabaton – Screaming Eagles

I'm going to finish up with a song for my young niece Meg this week. She fell through a glass door recently (apparently the result of being in a bad mood). She's OK luckily but I reckon it would've been pretty scary for all involved. Get well soon Meg.

Simple Minds – Alive And Kicking

Peace, love, understanding and a Collingwood win,

DJ Rob