Friday, September 28, 2012

Song of the Week #214

For a few weeks now my weekly ramblings have been about music and pretty much not much else. Sorry, not this time.
I've come out of a fug of training, work and blissful family life to have a look around and I seriously wish I hadn't. It's depressing.
Why? Well, America has two political parties almost as useless as each other. I really feel for US voters who have to make a difficult choice that has such a huge effect on the whole world. In my opinion (and it's just mine and you can disagree), Romney is a bumbling fool. Regardless of any policies that he may have, can anyone seriously think that he can effectively represent the most powerful nation on earth on the world stage? The fact that the Republicans and Democrats are so polarised on a number of issues looks to me as an outsider that there isn't a lot of room for compromise. Life isn't so black and white. But then our political parties in Australia are so similar that we have a minority government with all the problems that this brings.
The Staples Singers – Respect Yourself -
Another reason? War. It just goes on. I saw a video this week where a young person said that we were very lucky to live in a time where there aren't any wars. While I was glad for her that life seemed good I did wonder if we had become so desensitised to conflict that we didn't notice anymore? You have to realise that many, many service personnel are conflicted. They train really hard for combat and operations and there is a very strong pull to actually use the skills you've worked so hard to hone. But then there's the cold hard facts of war. It's death, maiming and destruction. Support the troops, oppose the war. If you think this next song is anti-American then you're wrong. Hang around for the last verse.
Steve Earle – Rich Man's War (acoustic and live) -
One more? Idiots everywhere who think that a moronic film means that the whole western world is anti-Islam. Newsflash – we're not. Most people (if not all) that I know find the idea of ridiculing or denigrating someone's religion to be extremely offensive. Don't use a dumb movie as an excuse for violence. Islamic leaders tell us that their religion is about peace – I'm sure that Christianity is too. So let's be friends, commit to respecting difference on both sides and get on with what's important.
Elvis Costello – What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love and Understanding? (live with a pretty funny intro) -
This week I had to deal with people who have deeply held religious beliefs that I find out of step with the reality of their lives. I had a choice; I could have offended them and told them what I thought and the effect it was having or I could have tried to understand and work out a solution that might just fit in. I really wanted to tell them what I thought as I was pretty upset by the whole thing but I took a deep breath and tried to work within the parameters of their lives. The outcome is better than expected. A lesson learned by me and maybe a good result for all involved? We'll see. Fingers crossed.
Johnny Cash & Joe Strummer – Redemption Song -
OK then  - some happier news. It has been revealed that Zoe will be going to Rouen when she heads to France later on in the year. She's "met" her host sister online today and it's all rather exciting! Tres bien! Bonus points if you can spot the relevance of this song (other than Joan being French).
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Maid of Orleans -
I'm on a bit of a break from work now. Of course it poured today but I'm hoping I can get some more kilometres in my legs prior to the 24hr mountain bike race. I've got some songs to learn and apparently the requirement to deliver Zoe to the movie theatre at one point. Bliss? The dog will be spoiled with loads of walk and love. And if I'm lucky DJ Ali-HereComesTheSun will have time to have a coffee with me.
Roy Orbison – Working For The Man -
Let's finish up with a band that I love, just because it's my blog and I can! This next one caused a stir when I was at school...funny now.
Painters & Dockers – Nude School -
And here's another from the same guys. If you want to hear more then track down their classic live album "Bucket". If you can't then drop me a line.
Painters & Dockers – Die Yuppie Die -
Hoo Roo,
DJ Rob

Friday, September 21, 2012

Song of the Week #213

On Sunday night I headed out with H and some others to see Mia Dyson (from Torquay) play here in Canberra. It was the first time I'd been to "The Abbey" and it is a wonderful venue. The crowd was a bit quiet (it was Sunday after all) but the show was first class. Gutsy, rootsy, bluesy guitar with a great band and heartfelt honest vocals. And I solved the mystery of what kind of guitar Billy Bragg has been playing for a while. It was the same as Mia's....made by her Dad!
Mia Dyson – When The Moment Comes -
The Abbey has some fine gigs coming up including Johnny Diesel, Pseudo Echo and The Black Sorrows. Actually, Pseudo Echo may have already been but you get the idea. We'll be heading out to see The Black Sorrows later in the year. It should be a real treat. One band I was on had a couple of their songs in the setlist; but not this one which is a travesty! Great slid intro.
The Black Sorrows – Come On, Come On -
Here's a song that DJ Chicken and I listened to this week. I've got the album that this one is on (on vinyl naturally – it was the 80s folks). A covers band with an ever changing roster of Australian rock royalty. And one Englishman on bass. Great rock and roll.
The Party Boys – Hold Your Head Up -
It's football finals time down under. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Australian Football is the best footy for spectators. Here's a great track and some footy highlights. GO PIES!
Little River Band – Playing To Win -
The Tea Party were in the country earlier in the year. They came out of retirement and recorded a live album. The difference was that it was funded by fans, me included. It's now mixed and available for download (it's downloading right now) and I'll get a double vinyl LP in the post before too long. It's pretty cool to have played a small part in making this record happen. Here's a track from their visit down under. DJ DJ was able to meet the band and watch a full show from backstage – now THAT'S cool. Many people compare The Tea Party to Led Zep; fair enough but then everyone has to have influences! I've chosen a quieter tune on purpose.
The Tea Party – The Messenger -
DJ Al-E-SunshineOfMyLove and I have finished watching the BBC TV series 'Life on Mars'. If you haven't watched it then do yourself a favour – it's great. And the 70's soundtrack is pretty good as well. Here's one that features in Season 2. I really have to get pants like these ones....
Slade – Coz I Luv You -
Now, Neil Young has a new album coming out soon. Apparently it's going to be psychedelic. I've got a horrible vision of Neil playing "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" with a grungy guitar. Not good. Fingers crossed it's completely NOT that. Here's a really, really good Neil Young track. I'm never sure how this one would go down with a live audience...but then maybe Neil has experience in this area and believes it to be true...
Neil Young – Welfare Mothers -
I'm signing off now. I've got football to watch, cycling to do, an essay to write and the new Bob Dylan album to listen to...I've listened once and it sounds pretty good.
Here's some awesome live Bowie...just because....
David Bowie – The Jean Genie (live 1973) -
That's all folks...
DJ Rob

Friday, September 14, 2012

Song of the Week #212 - The Best Cover Versions

This week’s episode has been a long while in the making. I had almost 100 cover versions in the end to choose from! Some were great and there were a couple I couldn’t face listening to for very long! I also realised how many songs were actually cover versions that I didn’t know about.

What I’ll do here is present the 5 covers that I liked the best. Really it’s just my opinion and I’d love you to let me know why you agree or disagree. I’ll also publish the complete list of suggestions on the blog in case anyone is interested. If you bear with me I’ll provide links to all of them as well as the original versions.


When I went through all these tracks I was looking for sounds and renditions that weren’t just straight re-workings of the originals, there needed to be something that made the song stand out. Amusing versions were good. Humour most certainly does belong in music Mr. Zappa.


And here’s a quick pet hate…I really dislike it when bands do a cover that is simply a slow acoustic version. Rarely is it any good.


Here we go, in no particular order.


Track 1 – Nature by The Mutton Birds –

This track was a #1 hit in 1969 for a New Zealand band called Fourmyula. Interestingly, after listening to the Mutton Birds version I discovered that it was voted NZ’s greatest pop song ever. My ‘little’ brother recommended this track even though it wasn’t his top pick in the songs he gave me to listen to. Even without listening to the original I reckon this is a top selection. It’s moody, reverent and all in all a good listen. I get a bit of a Byrds vibe out of the backing vocals and that’s cool.


Track 2 – Hurt by Johnny Cash –

Originally by Nine Inch Nails, this is an amazing version. If I was counting votes from my listeners then this would be number 1 by a landslide. It’s a haunting tune that works just as well for NIN as it does for Johnny Cash – I guess it’s a question of perspective. I’m a big Johnny Cash fan and whilst this isn’t my favourite cover that he’s done it’s definitely the one with the most impact.


Track 3 - U2 – Helter Skelter -

Written and recorded by The Beatles for the White album, this song has an interesting history involving Charles Manson. If you’ve seen the U2 documentary “Rattle and Hum” you’ll know that Bono famously said, “this is a song that Charles Manson stole from The Beatles, we’re stealing it back!” There is a really, really good version by Motley Crue as well but the U2 version hits the spot for me. Granted, it isn’t all that different from the original but it’s a version with an amazing amount of feeling. I really like the video too – it’s from when Bono and the boys were real rock stars instead of media personalities.


Track 4 - Reel Big Fish – Take On Me -

This was a pretty cool song to start with but very, very poppy. Reel Big Fish and the horn section have turned it into a real party tune. I’ve seen local band Los Capitanes play it this way as well and it’s a hoot. This is the ‘get up and dance’ (or skank) tune of the collection.


Track 5 - Nina Simone – Mr Bojangles -

This is the only cover of the five I’ve chosen that I’d never heard before. And I’ve been listening to it over and over. If YouTube was vinyl the grooves would be wearing out. What a voice! I like a song with a story in the lyrics – they are the kind I can’t write no matter how hard I try. This was the first song I’ve listened to in a while that gave me shivers down my spine.


There you have it. Not a bad quintet I hope. As I said I’ll post the entire list of suggestions plus the originals in the next few days – watch the blog ( for all that.


Let me finish with two of my personal favourite cover versions.


Johnny Cash – I Won’t Back Down -

The story goes that Tom Petty just walked in, recorded some backing vocals and walked back out. How cool. This is a song I play almost every time I have an acoustic guitar in my hand. It would be number 1 on my desert island mix tape if I had to compile one. Cash has sung and played better and Tom Petty has probably written better tunes. But this particular combination struck a chord for me the first time I heard it on a $9.99 clearance bin cassette and it still does.


Metallica – Stone Cold Crazy -

This is a Queen song. The Queen version is pure rock ‘n’ roll heaven much in the same way that ‘Tie Your Mother Down Is’ – almost the perfect rock song. Metallica’s version is heavy like you’d expect but true enough to the original to be respectful. (they drop the f-bomb once or twice, you’ve been warned). Metallica has played this live with Brian May – that’s a solid vote of approval.


Brothers and sisters, thanks for listening and a huge thanks to the folks who sent me so many suggestions, my ears were well and truly opened.


Original versions for your listening pleasure:


Nature – Fourmyula -

Hurt – Nine Inch Nails -

Helter Skelter – The Beatles -

Take On Me – A-Ha -

Mr Bojangles – Jeffrey Jeff Walker -

I Won’t Back Down – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers -

Stone Cold Crazy – Queen -



DJ Rob

(if anyone really wants to unsubscribe after all the work I put into this then you have no soul!)



This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom it is addressed. Any unauthorised use of the content of this email is expressly prohibited. If you have received this email in error, please advise us by email or telephone immediately, delete this email and destroy any printed copies.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Song of the Week #211

OK folks – you can stop sending me your favourite cover versions now. I still have a heap (like 40) to go through before I can finalise the Song of the Week special episode.

Last night DJ PainterMan and I headed out to one of Canberra’s smallest venues to see a fantastic up and coming band. King Cannons are from New Zealand via Melbourne and played a fantastic show. Their debut album, “The Brightest Light” is essential listening. Imagine that you put The Clash, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Marley and Chuck Berry in a blender…and you’re almost there. The band are really good at interacting with their fans via Facebook and Twitter as well. I’m sure I’ve asked way too many questions but they always answer. We’ve seen them three times now and would go again in a heartbeat.

King Cannons – Too Young -

On Tuesday night H and Chief put the band back together and we started working on some tunes for a new gig. I can’t emphasise how lucky I am to be playing with these guys; great musicians and always a good laugh. Here’s one of the tracks we’re working on. A definite Shadows / Ventures / Atlantics vibe shining through. Playing this song means I’ll be in the market for a tremolo pedal to get that surf twang sorted out. Look out eBay! Do you need a special guitar for surf music as well?? J

Midnight Oil – Wedding Cake Island -

Zoe has now had three shifts at the McRestaurant…she seems to enjoy it although she was relieved to work the front counter last night instead of cooking fries! I’m very, very proud of the way that she just got on with getting a job, going to the training and then working. She’s so much more confident than me! In interesting news, Angus has also signed up. He was going to referee some Futsal but when the training and uniform were going to cost him around $200 he baulked – I would have as well.

I am wondering if the injection of a McRestaurant right next to our suburb will have a negative health effect on the residents. It is certainly already having a noticeable effect in terms of rubbish.

Weird Al Yankovic – Fat -

Some of my American friends seem to agree with me that it doesn’t matter who they vote for, they’ll be stuffed (that’s the technical term). It’s looking more and more the same here as well. I guess it would be really easy to disengage from the whole process but that’s no better than sticking your head in the sand. Even if we have to pick the least bad of a bad bunch it’s a choice that needs to be made. Sometimes I wonder how difficult it would be to get into politics but I have the feeling that bureaucracy would be pretty disheartening very quickly.

This next band were one of the support acts last night. They are from England and I’d never heard of them before. I was pretty impressed when in the middle of one of their songs they segued into the guitar solo from a track by The Cult and then back into their own tune. I dunno about wearing your sunglasses at night though, Corey Hart made that old. They are English I guess…maybe it’s a cultural thing! I thought they had a definite Oasis vibe in a good way.

All The Young – Quiet Night In -

During the week I heard a band doing quite a good cover of an Adele song. I am not a fan of Adele. So I asked some of the very excited crowd what was so good about her. It seems that her voice is thought of as being strong, soulful and conveying emotion. Maybe. If you want a voice that does that then maybe give this a try…bluesy, folky – great tune, great guitar, great voice.

Gillian Welch – Scarlet Town -

Bob Dylan has a new album, “Tempest” that you can legally listen to online. He’s got a very similar song called “Scarlet Town”… This is Bob’s 35th studio album!

There is a rumour that DJ Fabio is back in the country after his annual sun-tanning sojourn to Europe. Here’s a track for him..

One of Australia’s best bands are from Adelaide. They are called “The Mark of Cain” and they’ve been around for ages. I saw them in Adelaide back in the early 90’s with DJ DJ. They played after silverchair and completely wiped the stage with them. After that I also saw them with DJ FatRollins at the Livid Festival in Brisbane – he became a convert that day. Fans of the band have been patiently waiting for a new album, since 2001. There’s been delay after delay after delay but it looks like we have a November release date. The band released a single a while back and they’ve just put another one out. I seriously wonder if it’s a record company decision to do this – fans of heavy music aren’t really known for buying singles. I’m undecided about the new single so I won’t play it here. However, here’s a cracker of a track from their back catalogue. I’ve just discovered that this is a cover version…wow…it’s a good one too! (minor language warning for this one – censor your own listening)

The Mark of Cain – Degenerate Boy -

Well, tonight is rather exciting. I’m off with The Chief and some other bods to see RockWiz. If you don’t know the TV show then crawl out from under that rock and have a look on SBS or online. It’s a fun show of music and music trivia. And it’s hosted by one of the women in my top 5 – Julia Zemiro. I’m still embarrassed that when DJ Al-E-HereComesTheSun introduced me to Julia that I was tongue tied. They have some awesome guest on the show and some unexpectedly good duets. Here’s one I really like…

Dan Sultan / Ella Hooper – With A Little Help From My Friends -

Here’s a cover version that is excellent but ineligible for the super-duper covers episode. It’s  ineligible because it is on a tribute album.

Country superstar agreed to do this next song but only if KISS would back him. They did and it’s pretty cool.

Garth Brooks – Hard Luck Woman - (KISS cover)

But I’m in a rock’n’roll mood with the anticipation of tonight’s Rockwiz show…so here’s a great rock tune from the show. One of my absolute favourites:

Chris Cheyney & Chrissy Amphlett – Stray Cat Blues -

Rock on brothers and sisters,

DJ Rob