Friday, October 26, 2012

Song of the Week #218

There’s really so much I  could talk about this week. Elections and doping immediately come to mind. But I think I’ll focus more on some good things and some great tunes.

First up, our Friday night gig was a cracker. The band were on fire even if I was more nervous than usual. The new tremolo pedal provided pure pulsating pleasure. The show was so popular that we’ll do it again in a few weeks for folks that missed out. Can I just say that there isn’t anything more rock ‘n’ roll than turning up to the gig on a motorbike. Cheesy but true. Here’s a great song that features in the setlist. For listeners outside Australia, the song is about Ita Buttrose – an Australian journalist.

Cold Chisel – Ita -

Long time readers will remember that I completed an Ironman race in December 2010. Well, one of my friends is heading there pretty soon to have a crack at the event. I really think that it’s a great event in a fantastic location. The locals are fantastic and it might be the only time I’ve really enjoyed swimming in salt water! So, here’s a song for DJ NoMoreSpills:

Chumbawumba – Tubthumping -

DJ D-Mac and I went out to the Harley show and shine on Sunday. Wow! Wow! Wow! Harley’s are cool but these were insane. They were true works of art. Great to see DJ Doc out there playing some tunes with the Sly Dogs too. Rock on brother!

So, I saw my favourite artist on Tuesday night. Billy Bragg had come all the way from Barking, Essex, England to play just for me. Oh, and a theatre full of other people as well. Was I excited – you bet! In 1990 a friend gave me a couple of LPs and a bootleg cassette of Billy’s music and my life changed. I had someone to listen to who echoed so many of my thoughts, who played a loud guitar and who didn’t have a band! His combination of punk rock and folk music seemed perfect. Well, the show started well with Billy playing his Woody Guthrie tribute songs – I like them and I reckon Woody would approve of what Billy (and the band Wilco) did with the lyrics he left behind.

Billy Bragg – My Flying Saucer -

The second half of the show was Billy playing his own songs. And to be fair, that’s what I was there to see. Now, Billy was good – he always is. But I felt he really didn’t get out of second gear. Maybe it was the effects of a long tour, being on TV the night before or just a Tuesday night but he was a bit subdued in the main. I felt that the audience really wanted to be involved and apart from a couple of moments we never really got there. To be fair, an average Billy Bragg show is better than nearly any other show I would go to but...

Anyway, I listened to that influential bootleg the next day and I felt fine. Here’s Billy in full flight…

Billy Bragg – Accident Waiting to Happen (live) -

Like everyone else, Billy’s on Facebook. It’s not all bad – he directed me to this artist – very, cool indeed!

Karine Polwart – A New England -

I’ll do some investigation into Karine’s other work and report back. My early listening experiences are very positive so far!

I’m sure everyone reading has a connection to someone with cancer. The annual Pink Ribbon Ride is on Sunday here in Canberra. I’ll be heading out to support the National Breast Cancer Foundation. It’s the ideal tonic for anyone who is completely over Lance Armstrong. I’m sorry, his Livestrong organization is awesome but tainted because Lance lied and cheated. My money will go elsewhere.

The Hold Steady – Stay Positive -

Hopefully the message and the pun in the above song title are clear to some of you. If not, I hope you like the track. The Hold Steady are pretty cool but I struggle to listen to a whole album. I must check out their live stuff.

That should do for the week. I’m off to search low cholesterol recipes that aren’t boring, to play my guitar and to ride at least two of my bikes. Somewhere this weekend I better write an essay as well; oh joy! I’ll finish with a band I think are underrated by many, I was guilty of it in the past. Here’s a song that speaks to me…I’ll dedicate it to H, Chief, Macca, Duck, Chicken, the WMGS and Alison – thanks for your support guys – it’s been a tough few weeks!

Dixie Chicks – Not Ready To Make Nice -

New Neil Young next week with any luck!

DJ Rob

Friday, October 19, 2012

Song of the Week #217

Hi folks. Welcome back and thanks for tuning in.

Last weekend I rode in the 24hr mountain bike race here in Canberra. I can safely say that I have never ridden in so much mud in my life. There were parts of the track that were impassable and necessitated carrying the bike and running. Other than that it was a lot of fun. I got to camp with two of my good friends and we were well looked after by Team Crankensteins in the catering department!

While I was in the mud, Zoë was in Sydney getting ready for her trip to France. Although I think she might have liked the trip to Luna Park and the roller coaster a bit better! Not to mention all the cafes she went to with DJ Al-U-R-mySunshine.

Red Hot Chilli Peppers – Rollercoaster of Love -

I picked up the new Green Day album a week ago. Personally I like their stuff. They write great pop melodies and usually groovy lyrics. And they look like they’re having a great time live on stage – no eyes down at the floor looking dopey! This album has regular pop-punk mixed with some Clash-esque sounds. My only criticism is their never ending use of the ‘f-word’, it gets old really quickly in my opinion. It’s a more fun album than “American Idiot” or “21st Century Breakdown” (both of which I like a lot). If you liked their classic from 1994 “Dookie” then this should suit you down to the ground.

Green Day – Troublemaker -

DJ FatBoy turned 50 last week, that’s a milestone! We’ve been really good friends since being thrown together by the Army in 1994. He’s mellowed a lot I reckon. When the State of Origin Rugby League is on TV we can only hear him cheering from the next state these days rather than from overseas!

Brian May & Foo Fighters – Have A Cigar -

The search for a tremolo pedal for my guitar is over! Hoo-bloody-ray! After an aborted attempt to buy one locally I weakened and ordered via the internet. I ended up with one made in New Zealand by a company called Red Witch. It’s simple – two dials, one switch (on/off). Even groovier is that it runs from a lithium-ion battery (like your mobile phone) and only needs charged once in a while. Here’s two songs that make liberal use of a tremolo pedal/effect so that you know what it does. It gives the guitar that shimmering or pulsing feel.

The Smiths – How Soon Is Now? -

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Born On The Bayou -

The wait is almost over – Billy Bragg is in Australia! DJ SamSpam saw him last week in Wellington, NZ and his review makes the gig sound like a real cracker. I’ll be heading out on Tuesday with H and DJ Alee to see him. Apart from the drugs they gave me in hospital recently when I had kidney stones, the Bragg concert might be the closest thing to spiritual nirvana that I get all year.

Billy Bragg – Never Buy The Sun -

Alison reminded me of this song yesterday. I may have played it before but it’s worth another airing. I’m not a huge fan of Kris Kristofferson’s voice but for this track it is perfect. I think if I had to choose songs to sing myself  then this might be on the list…

Kris Kristofferson – Pilgrim’s Progress -

I’m feeling pretty lucky really, the band I play in has a small gig this evening. It’s a pearler of a setlist with H making some inspired and wide ranging choices. Here’s a couple of the tracks that will feature.

KT Tunstall – Tangled Up In Blue -

Roger Hodgson – Had A Dream –

To finish off let me congratulate DJ’s Duck & Chicken on the great news that they will become parents in March 2013. Just remember that no-one really knows what they’re doing the first time. It’s all about love, patience and dirty nappies.

Axiom - A Little Ray of Sunshine -

And all you Canberra folks – don’t forget to vote on Saturday!

DJ Rob

Thursday, October 18, 2012

above the sound of ideologies clashing...

This is NOT a song of the week entry. This is a note about politics from yours truly.

Before I start, let me put my cards on the table. I have a degree in Politics. It's old, out of date and there's a couple of grades in there I am not proud of but it proves my brain works! My political views are definitely towards the left side of the political spectrum. And I was like this before I became a Billy Bragg fan. I'm not a raving loonie left-wing hippie but I do believe that the rich shouldn't just get richer while the poor get the picture (thanks Midnight Oil).

The ACT (Australian Capital Territory - where I live) has an election this weekend. The ACT Government is a bit odd because it has to provide all the services of a normal state government as well as that of a large city council. So we get health, education and our bins emptied.

For the last few years we've had a minority Labor government. There's an agreement in place with the Greens Party.

Policies, promises and hot air aside my strong desire is that people of the ACT vote either Labor or Liberal this time. I don't really have that much against the Greens but I have no desire to see another minority government.

I really don't think that a Labor or Liberal government for us in the ACT will make a huge difference to anyone other than the politicians - it's all swings and roundabouts - but can we give either party a chance to actually get on with governing without being hamstrung?

Please don't take this as me being anti-Greens. I'm not. I'm just not at all convinced that their power sharing arrangement is the best thing for the ACT at the moment. Minority groups need to be heard but also need to understand that sometimes there are bigger issues.

My last point is about election promises. Does anyone really believe these any more? I understand that the parties in opposition need to make commitments to whatever they choose. But the current government, in this case the Labor Party, shouldn't make election promises at all. They've been in government for a while now and should be able to trot out programmes, policies and developments that are ongoing. If they make fantastic new promises one has to wonder what they've been doing for the past few years.

Anyway, make sure you vote.

Comrade Rob :-)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Song of the Week #216

Hi everyone. There's a whole heap of stuff I had planned for this week's episode but it will all have to wait until next week. I'm sure you'll understand.
Last weekend I was at the coast with Angus. We were staying with our close friends Macca and Marcus. Anyway, more about that visit another day. When I was there I got an email to tell me that a close friend who lived in London had died. This week's episode is all about, and dedicated to him.
My mate Garry, often referred in this rambling mess of words as DJ E17, died alone at 50. Our friendship was interesting. We 'met' in 1997 as we shared an interest in collecting GI Joe and Action Man figures. We also soon discovered similar obsessive tastes in music along with a keen interest in sport. I guess over the 15 years that I've known Garry we've corresponded, mainly via email, ten to fifteen times a week. Not bad for two blokes on opposite sides of the planet who never met.
I'm pretty sure I heard on the radio something about this being 'Mental Health Week'. This is fitting because Garry struggled with depression and anxiety later on in his life. He lost his job as an accountant which triggered many issues for him including an extended stay in hospital. But, recently he'd been working and enjoying life. We're both fans of Tom Petty and Garry went to see him recently in London sending me a tour t-shirt. What's so sad is that he saw Tom play about a week after losing his job. He wrote to me that he would never have bought the ticket if he had an inkling of his work drying up. After this his anxiety about how he would live combined with complications from diabetes meant he was back in hospital. I knew he was there and we exchanged a couple of text messages. Three weeks after coming home and even with health services visiting him two to three times a day he's dead. It's a devastating loss to me, one that has made me feel truly helpless. But this post is about Garry, not about me.
I thought the best thing I could do for my friend is to remember him with a few songs. We were the USB equivalent of "cassette tape traders" for years so I know pretty much the tunes he loved. I'll choose three. One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready...why the hell did you have to go?
Tom Petty – You Don't Know How It Feels -
Stevie Ray Vaughan – Little Wing -
Mott the Hoople – Rest In Peace -
That's all from me this week.
RIP Garry.
DJ Rob

Friday, October 5, 2012

Song of the Week #215

I've been on holidays this week and to be frank, a fair bit of it has sucked. But, I'm doing my best to be a 'glass half full' kind of guy so I'll tell you some of the good bits too.

Let's get the bad stuff cleared out first. Well, a stinking head cold and a visit to the hospital with kidney stones really wasn't how I planned to spend most of my first week off. Those things put a bit of a dent in my training schedule for mountain biking and learning new songs on the guitar! But really they didn't do my family any favours either. Alison spent the day at the hospital with me and then her and the kids have had to put up with my resulting grumpiness.

It was lucky that Alison stayed with me at the hospital though. With the drugs I was given I was on another planet and probably would've agreed to almost anything! I was rather amazed though when the Doctor told me about another condition I had and that I could go home and Google it.

If I never had another kidney stone it would be too soon. So I'm off for more poking and prodding to see if it can be averted. If I drink any more water I may drown.

Love/Hate - Why Do You Think They Call It Dope?

The other crappy news for me is that I've got really sore feet. So sore that I can't run and that is making me mad. It's probably some form of annoying overuse injury. I remarked to someone the other day that triathlon was great because you could train around whatever was injured. As a result I've been mountain biking up a storm. That includes getting lost at night and having to ride around and around until I worked out where I was. That's good for the cardiovascular system but not for my nerves!

Who? Where? Why? - Jesus Jones

One of the good things about having some time off, and even being sick, is that you can watch some TV and not feel you should be doing something else. Angus made me laugh today when I put Star Wars on and he asked if I was planning on a nap. I lasted 7 minutes apparently! But I did watch this the other day and it really is a great track I reckon...

U2 - Angel of Harlem (from Rattle and Hum)

The 24hr mountain bike race is in a week's time. Apart from the blip in my preparation (ie: a hospital visit) I'm feeling pretty good about it. I'm in a team of six with two guys I know really well and three strangers. It'll be a hoot. Riding around with a couple of thousand others all day and all night is great fun. Riding at night is the best really. It's just you, a bike and a light mounted on your helmet out there stomping on pedals at 2am! Sure, it's dangerous to a point but if you've had a few practice rides it's a doddle.

AC/DC - Danger

No-one got the link between last week's OMD tune and Zoë's trip to Rouen? Oh well. I'll leave it a while.

The guitar songs I've been learning have got me looking for a tremolo pedal. And the awesome thing about the internet is that loads of guitar pedal manufacturers have a plethora of videos to demonstrate their wares. I've watched a heap so far and haven't come to any sort of conclusion other than that I definitely need one! One of the demos played a riff that reminded me instantly of this song. I hadn't realised how much I liked it...

Gimme Shelter - The Rolling Stones

Without wanting to sound like a Denis Leary lyric, I'll admit that I like war films. I remember watching "Tora, Tora, Tora" as a kid when we still lived in Scotland. That and an unhealthy obsession with Action Man toys probably started me on that path! I also read the Victor comic (for boys!). These days the films serve to make me think about the abomination that war is and the men and women who bear scars physical and mental as a result. I watched Mel Gibson in "We Were Soldiers" this week. I hadn't seen it before. It's based on a true story of the first major US action in Vietnam. What I really liked about this particular film was that, like "Tora, Tora, Tora", it tells the story from both sides. I can watch Rambo blowing stuff up anytime - and enjoy a certain degree of escapism - but this was quite different. Give it a whirl. I laughed when the Sergeant Major in the film wouldn't use an M16 because it was plastic. When John Wayne made "The Green Berets" many of the M16s they used were Mattel toys. Plastic is in these days though.

Creedence Clearwater Revival - Fortunate Son

That's enough for another week. But because I can, I'll finish with Johnny Cash. You can work out why.

Johnny Cash - Ira Hayes

Be nice to's too short to be a grumpy bastard.

DJ Rob