Friday, January 25, 2013

Song of the Week #231

This week I was going to tell you all of my clever clogs solutions to a number of burning international and domestic issues. I assume that when reveal them that a career as an international thinker (highly paid naturally) will follow. But, none of that matters today because Zoƫ is home!!!
We picked her up at the airport in Sydney rather early this morning after she flew in from Charles De Gaulle via Bangkok. That's about 21 hours on a plane. Ouch.
Yep, she was pretty excited to see us and we got a lot of amusing stories in the 3 hour drive back to Canberra. She's still awake but it can't last.
Diesel – Comin' Home -
I'm very happy that she had a great time and thankful that Alison and I were able to send her on such a wonderful journey.
My Girl – The Temptations -
Prince is back with a new album coming out soon. Here's the single which I really, really like. Even if he has recycled the keyboard bit from another one of his songs and his hair from some old carpet it's a cool track that grooves really well.
Prince – Rock and Roll Love Affair -
DJ Al-E and Angus finally saw the movie "Rock of Ages" this week. They agree with me that it is totally cheesy and a lot of fun. It's also the only thing I've ever seen Russell Brand do that is funny – and he is hilarious in the movie. It's also another big thumbs up for Tom Cruise.
Russell Brand / Catherine Zeta Jones – We Built This City/We're Not Gonna Take It -
Sometimes I hear a track and am amazed that I've missed it...this one's a classic that I really can't believe I hadn't heard until the movie. The original is cool...
Foreigner – Juke Box Hero -
My red guitar is back from the repair man. I've had it for 25 years now and I still love it. Hendrix, Knopfler and Marvin all played red Stratocasters so that's why I got one. Given that I was right into metal at the time I'm still amused by my choice.
Dire Straits – Lady Writer (live) -
It wasn't for a while that I worked out that Knopfler didn't use a guitar pick and that's one reason his guitar sound is so distinctive. I tried it but ended up with a bit of a hybrid approach.
Tomorrow is Australia Day. I'll talk another time about the calls to move the date and to make it more inclusive. Being an immigrant to this country I think I have something to offer to the conversation. But I'm not ranting here this week. You'll need to check me out on Facebook for that. Here's some clips that might make you think though...Australia is a complicated place.
Redgum – The Long Run - (thanks to my bro for tracking down a vinyl copy of this for me!)

George Smilovici – I'm Tuff -
Sam Kekovich 2013 – National Lambnesia Test -
Archie Roach – Took The Children Away (live) -
DJ Rob

Friday, January 18, 2013

Song of the Week #230

So here we are in the middle of the media feeding frenzy that's been created by Lance Armstrong and Oprah Winfrey. Seeing Lance admit cheating was like a massive kick in the guts. He doped, he admitted it and now he needs to go away. But forgiveness is a funny thing and people have done far worse and survived.
Let's concentrate on some good cycling news. My good friend DJ HB was selected for the Australian Track Cycling Team and is currently wearing the green and gold while racing in Mexico. This is just fabulous news for someone who has been working so hard to make it in the world of cycling.
I've spent a lot of time these school holidays on my bikes. Without wanting to blow my own trumpet too hard I've been training the house down and it's been great. Putting in some hours on the road bike certainly gives you time to think – that's when snakes don't try and cross the road in front of you. I've seen two now and that's two too many in my opinion.
Angus and I got out to the mountain biking Mecca that is Stromlo Forest Park during the week. After hitting the see-saws, roll overs and associated fun bits we climbed to the top before bombing it down the side of the mountain. It was heaps of fun and I was impressed at how easily Angus got up the climb.
Zoe is still in France – she's back in a week – and the real excitement recently has been snow! A bit different to today here where the temperature hit 40 degrees.
Let's have some music. No real theme this week, just some cool tracks.
DJ AB got me a rather fab CD by a band called the Red Hot Chilli Pipers (read the name carefully). It's a modern take on bagpipe music. Now, I'm not a bagpipe aficionado but I do have a couple of albums by some pipers who would be what I would describe as virtuosos. The Chilli Pipers don't quite make that grade but they are a LOT of fun. I think that where they would rule the roost would be in a live setting – this video proves it. Maybe they play better live?
Red Hot Chilli Pipers – Smoke On The Water / Thunderstruck -
David Bowie has a new single out. And while reviews are mixed I thought it wasn't too bad. I was in a record shop (I know this is a shock) and was looking through Bowie's back catalogue. It's huge and I didn't really know where to start. So, I've started a journey – all his studio albums in chronological order. It might take me a while but my good friends DJ Ducky and MC FatRollins are h-u-g-e Bowie fans and they have good taste in music. The first album is from 1966 – probably more a collection of singles – there's six of them. Interestingly the reviews on sites like Amazon were fairly scathing. I listened once and was instantly tapping my foot. It's certainly not classic Bowie but it's good stuff. And the recording engineer must've had good chops as the recordings (even though they've been cleaned up) sound pretty good. It's British pop that might tickle your fancy if you like the Austin Powers movies – that's what it made me think of.
David Bowie – Can't Help Thinking About Me -
Justin Townes Earle is a guy whose music I've been meaning to investigate. But every time I'm in a record shop I baulk at the price of his albums. So, I came home and did some listening online. I like it so far. I can see some of his stuff making its way into my collection before too long. I like this live version of his song "Harlem River Blues" as it's a little edgier than the album track. Of course, your mileage may vary. It's a bluesy, country, gospel tune about the happy topic of suicide.
Justin Townes Earle – Harlem River Blues -
There was a pretty good doco on TV this week about Queen. There's probably a lot of people out there who would rather never hear them again as many of their songs are dreadfully overplayed by commercial radio. Here's a couple you don't hear every day. First up is the track with the opening riff that made me really, really, really want an electric guitar. And it's so simple.
Queen – One Vision -
And another slab of guitar magic...
Queen – Brighton Rock -

Today, after what seems (and is) a very long time, my copy of the Tea Party Live in Australia album finally arrived. I've had the downloaded version (which I paid for) for a while now but it was cool to get the signed LPs. If you fast forward the opening banter on this track you'll be treated to a great song.
The Tea Party – Fire In The Head -
Bands having a bash with an orchestra is nothing new. Deep Purple, Metallica, Yngwie and KISS have all had decent attempts. But who would've thought that our Kylie would make it work? Not me. I was wrong.
Kylie – Spinning Around (live) -
This next band are in the country at the moment and all reports are glowing. Either the record store keeps selling out of their record or there's a distribution issue. I WANT THIS ONE!! Definitely a candidate to listen to on vinyl probably sandwiched between Otis Redding and the Black Crowes.
Alabama Shakes – Be Mine -
A band who just finished a very short (too short) tour down under are Sabaton. I hope that they can make it back for a full Australian tour as I reckon metal fans in their thousands would support it. Sabaton are a metal band that I don't tire of. They play well, their singer can sing, the seem to enjoy themselves on stage and they sing about real life. I'm sure I've played this before but it's a great video and song.
Sabaton – Uprising -
Let's finish with something different. A sea shanty. Yep – you heard right. This is probably my find of the week – the whole album is a hoot!
Shenandoah – Tom Waits / Keith Richards -
That's it.
DJ Rob

Friday, January 11, 2013

Song of the Week #229

It's hot. Summer has finally arrived in Australia after being suspiciously absent for a couple of years. Air conditioning is a blessing, bushfires are raging and we've been to the beach – pretty standard.
This week's episode will be short and sharp. Frankly, I've been to busy doing other stuff to write a long entry this week. I've been riding my bike (and my legs) into the ground while I wait for various medicos to work out what to do about my foot. The MRI results seem to confirm arthritis and other damage. We had to laugh when it was discovered that I have a broken toe and that it isn't causing any problems at all! I've been doing heaps of hill climbing which I love (being over 11kg lighter helps!) but I'll head out on Sunday for about 100km – a while since I've ridden that far and it's a good feeling to get it done.
DJ Al-E has been quite unwell with a very bad back. I'm sad that it's ruined her holidays and that there isn't much that Angus and I can do to help. We've tried to keep her mind off it though while the drugs and exercises do their thing. Al-E and I have started watching the US TV series "Once Upon A Time". I really thought it would suck and have been quite shocked at how cool it is. If you liked Shrek and maybe a good dose of crime fiction then you might enjoy it. After all the reports about "The Hobbit" at the movies we'll definitely be giving it a miss.
All the tracks this week come from music that I have purchased recently from two of my favourite places. First up is Landspeed Records in Garema Place – a great range of CDs and a smattering of vinyl too. This is the place to go if you fancy a good poke around, a bargain and good music on their shop system. Today they were playing Bowie's album "Hunky Dory" and I almost bought a copy as a result. The other place I went was Beyond Q Bookstore at the Curtin Shops. It's a bit of a Mecca for second hand books and they have a few records as well. I've heard that some good bands play there occasionally...
Here's the music.
Gov't Mule are an American band who to me sound like all the good bits from Hendrix, Cream and Led Zep with more of a blues bent as opposed to classic rock. I've found their stuff hard to buy anywhere here so I resorted to the internet to check them out. Very cool indeed. This one really hammers home the Led Zep influence in my opinion.
Gov't Mule – Lola Leave Your Light On -
I treated myself to two albums on vinyl this week – both second hand and in great condition. The sound is fantastic and I reckon different to CD – not better, not worse, just different. And there's something cool about the artwork, lyric sheets and all that. I picked up "Rattle and Hum" and "Live Under A Blood Red Sky" both from U2. The former is my favourite U2 record for a number of reasons. One being that I saw the movie in the cinema and was blown away by it. U2 have changed a lot now but this album stands up well. I got "Live Under A Blood Red Sky" because I think it's U2 at their best in a live situation – they are still raw, hungry and intense in all the right ways. Also, the re-mastered version which is all that is available now has had some stuff taken out.
U2 – I Will Follow (live at Red Rocks) -
U2 – Love Rescue Me (live) -
Skunk Anansie were pretty big in the 90's. I was unsure how to describe their music but a cursory glance through some search engine entries revealed this gem; "an amalgam of heavy metal and black feminist rage" ( ). Personally I think it's more punk than metal but it's pretty good stuff. I picked up their first album "Paranoid and Sunburnt" for $8 and it's a bargain!
Skunk Anansie – Intellectualise My Blackness -
I thought that The Black Crowes were an excellent band. Rambling blues with a nods to country and soul. Chris Robinson, the singer from the band, has a new group called the Chris Robinson Brotherhood. I took a chance on their album, "Big Moon Ritual", on the strength of a track on a sampler CD. Let's hope it was worth it. For fans of the Grateful Dead and Neil Young I reckon.
Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Rosalee -
The Gaslight Anthem are a band that have been on my radar for a while now and I've finally put my money across the counter to try an album after my YouTube research. They are described as a punk band with a New Jersey edge. In plain English that seems to mean that they are a louder, more raw version of Springsteen. I can hear bits of the Pogues, Dropkick Murphys and The Clash in there as well. I like it.
The Gaslight Anthem – The '59 Sound -
That's it folks. Watch out on the blog next week at as I'll finally review the Mark of Cain album as well as publish another instalment in my look at various musical genres.
DJ Rob

Friday, January 4, 2013

Song of the Week #228

During the week I wrote a rather long blog post about the Blues. It just sort of happened! I’ll follow it up in weeks to come with more about other musical genres but it’s here if you are interested.

Dear 2012, welcome to Dumpsville, population you! *

The new year always brings a couple of things. Usually some time to reflect as well as resolutions to break.

My resolution was made for me prior to new year. The diet that I have to be on is tough and I’m probably a lot harder on myself than I need to be. But in so many areas I’ve become a bit of an all or nothing kind of guy. I really feel that if I allow myself to deviate from the diet just once that I’ll fall off the wagon or at the very least end up being very grumpy. It’s much easier for me just to say no to a whole lot of stuff and get on with it. I’m lucky that my family understand that this is the way I am even though I know it makes their lives hard too. So, please don’t expect me to break my diet “just this once” or for a special occasion. It just isn’t going to happen.

I wasn’t always so single minded. Will power is something that I really had to work on. In retrospect I wish that I’d had some more of it when I was a young man struggling with an Army career. I do think though that if my training had been more about the Army and less about shouting, polishing, shouting, cleaning bathrooms, shouting and ironing that we would have all been more successful. I still wield a mean iron however and men who come for an interview without their shirt, belt and trousers in alignment have to work hard to get past that initial poor impression that they create. Never wear novelty socks or ties either - instant fail!

Just to clarify; I was far from a lazy slug in my Army time but I could’ve done better if I applied the same effort that I apply to family, work and training as I do now. But a lot of that has come with age and supposed maturity.

We’re on holiday this week having some time away and also avoiding the annual influx of pretend car lovers into Canberra that is Summernats. I feel sorry for real car enthusiasts who are tarred with the same brush as the beer swilling, lecherous, moronic folks who use the festival as an excuse to get blind drunk, leer at women and turn our suburb into a tip.

The Badloves - Lost

This morning I headed out on my bike with only a rough route sketched out. I really had no idea where I would end up and about an hour later I knew I was at a beach (as was evidenced by the sand and surfers) but with no idea really how to get back home. My trusty phone, even with the much maligned Apple maps app soon had me pointed in the right direction and even though I took a circuitous route on purpose I got home in good time. Considering that the majority of my ride was on fairly busy roads I was very impressed with the attitude of drivers here in Newcastle. Kudos to you folks and thank you.

Angus has been ripping up the surf with his Aunt. We gave them lessons as a Christmas present and from all reports they have been very successful. The pressure from Angus to visit the coast will no doubt continue to increase. How long until he can drive??

Wedding Cake Island - Midnight Oil

Credit where credit is due; if you’re in Newcastle head to Darby Street and go to the Glee Cafe for a coffee. Today I had one of the best short black coffees that I’ve had for a long time. Smooth and not bitter at all. Drinking black coffee is something that I have had to work on getting used to over the last couple of months and I’m almost there. My local cafes (Little Bean and Wilbur’s in Hackett) know now that I have some soy milk on the side but I only need it once in a while now.

Billy Bragg - The Milkman of Human Kindness

Apart from the obvious time to be with my family, ride my bike and listen to music, holidays are precious to me because I have time and more importantly, headspace to read books. This is something that I find very hard to do during the school term.

Joe Jackson - Sunday Papers

I finally finished off “Willie’s Bar And Grill” written by Midnight Oil drummer Rob Hirst about their tour in the USA post 9-11. It wasn’t a bad read. But you really felt that the whole band really had the wind taken out of their sails when Garrett said he was leaving.

I also read Bear Gryll’s autobiography which I got for Christmas from my step-brother and his family. I was surprised at how interesting it was and of all the things he managed to get up to. I also reflected that he was pretty lucky to be able to get into a position where he could just decide to choof off around the world adventuring and not really worry about money.

Dire Straits - Money For Nothing (live)

Yesterday DJ Al-E and I visited a fairly good second hand book shop. I picked up two of Henry Rollins earlier collections which I’ll read when I’m in the mood. My good friend H commented that Henry probably writes in CAPS LOCK and exclamation marks. His books, like his music, isn’t for the faint hearted. It’s confronting, often angry and if you’re in the right mental space a very rewarding read.

Rollins Band - Get Some, Go Again

Finally, Granma gave me a book about an Aussie who spent five years in the French Foreign Legion about the same time I was in the Army. Reading his account would really make you wonder why anyone would join up. If you expect professional soldiering then you’re very much mistaken it seems.

I’m still missing Zoe very much but since it’s obvious that she’s having such a good time in France that makes it easier. She was off to the Somme the other day and she’s been doing a whole lot of Christmas/New Year stuff with her extended French family. Tres Bien indeed. I chose this song as the album cover was what instantly came to mind when Zoe turned the Skype camera around out of her window. I’m sure France looks nothing like the Battersea Power Station but the mind is a funny thing. And I’ve discovered my favourite Pink Floyd album it seems...

Pink Floyd - Pigs On The Wing (Part 2)

I haven’t said a lot about music this week but I hope you’ve enjoyed the tracks I’ve slotted in. They are not background music - that’s just something I don’t do. I like to listen and pay attention regardless of what’s playing. And all of these songs have meaning to me at least that relates to what I’ve written.

Dixie Chicks - Not Ready To Make Nice

Anyway, I’m off for a swim at the beach tomorrow. And if you know me you’ll understand that this is something I don’t take lightly. I really dislike sand and surf. I like swimming though and the pool at Merewether looks pretty inviting. It looks like I can get all the benefits of the coast without the sand!

See you all next week. And thanks for reading this!

DJ Rob

* thanks Homer!