Friday, June 28, 2013

Song of the Week #252

This week I got to see Angus singing, dancing and generally having a ball in his school production of Grease. I have to say that it was one of the best high school productions I have seen in a very, very long time. They were blessed with kids who had strong voices, a great band and pretty good work by the sound crew too.

The other really great thing this week is that Canberra has had very little wind. This makes cycling a real treat. Crossing the bridge yesterday at about 1pm and seeing the lake looking like glass doesn't happen all that often. People from out of town often seem surprised at our weather here. Getting out and about in single digit temperatures is a lot different here as usually the sun is out during the day and the sky is clear. It's very different to a dark, damp winters day elsewhere.

It would be most unlike me not to talk about politics given the debacle that happened in the Australian Labor Party this week. I mean, who in their right mind would mount a leadership challenge on the night of State of Origin Rugby League?? All I'll say is that it's only a matter of how much the ALP loses the election by. It could be a large landslide or a massive one. Idiots. It seems to me that both sides of politics have forgotten that they are there to serve the country and the people, not themselves. As Billy says, " there more to a seat in parliament than sitting on your arse?"

Righto, let's talk about music before the ACCC speaks to me about "Song of the Week" not being about songs.

I had a good discussion this week with DJ DJ and DJ FatRollins about the merits of various Metallica albums. While we all have our favourites we agree on at least one thing and that is that no-one should be subjected to having to listen to the "St. Anger" LP ever again. Seriously though, the discussion was about audio quality and the dreadful mix of the classic 1988 release, "And Justice For All". The issues are well documented; a distinct lack of bass, terrible snare sound and a harsh mix. If ever an album was begging to be re-mixed (as opposed to re-mastered) then this is the one. What I did discover after reading a lot of really nerdy internet fora was that there is a Japanese version which is significantly different. Well, I like a challenge so I tracked it down and had a good listen on headphones, in the car and on the stereo. There is generally more definition in all of the sounds - it's the audio equivalent of looking at a sharpened photo. For fans, it's worth the effort to get a hold of.

Metallica - And Justice For All -

After reading far too much about Metallica I strayed in a couple of fora and read even more about audio mastering and different versions of a number of albums. It's safe to say that you vould go blind AND cross-eyed reading all that. If you really like an LP then maybe it's worth searching out some information but other than that, just listen and enjoy. Luckily DJ TimTheSoundMan was on hand to steer me in the right direction about all this before I was brainwashed into believing that a $3000 CD player was a good idea.

For those that read me writing about the band Ghost last week you may be interested to know that I picked up their album "Infestissumam" on red vinyl during the week. I really like LPs that come with a free download of the tracks as MP3s. It saves me either ripping them from the LP or finding them by some other means. And yep, the album sounds great.

With the band having a bit of a hiatus I've turned to playing a range of songs to see if I can manage them all by myself. I have my doubts but a couple of hours every now and then bashing away on the guitar in the spare room is fun. Here's a couple of tracks that I've been trying out...

Kris Kristofferson - If You Don't Like Hank Williams -

Billy Bragg - Levi Stubbs' Tears -

The other thing I've been doing is investigating a new guitar. After years of being disappointed with every Gibson I've bought I've decided to move on. The necks just don't suit my hands. Of course, the green Burns (as seen in the above Bragg clip) remains my firm favourite but, like bicycles, you can never have too many. My hands seem to feel at home on a Stratocaster so I'm looking at those. The issue is that there are just so many options. Do I save for a USA made one, compromise with one out of their excellent Mexican factory or look around for an 80s Japanese model. Aaarrrrgggh. In the end I'll probably lug my amplifier to the guitar shop next week and annoy them by playing everything in the shop before I choose! My first guitar was (is) a red Stratocaster copy. Why? Here's why...

Jimi Hendrix - Hey Joe (live at Winterland) -

Dire Straits - Sultans of Swing (live) -

In the mid 90s DJ SAB turned me on to a singer called Andy Prieboy and his album, "Upon My Wicked Son". Andy was in Wall of Voodoo if you've heard of them. The album is a great listen and is one that never gets old for me. You might have heard his song, "Tomorrow Wendy" which was also recorded by Concrete Blonde. Try this...

Andy Prieboy - Montezuma Was A Man Of Faith -

And while we're talking about Concrete Blonde (and not about Joey)...

Concrete Blonde - Bloodletting (The Vampire Song) -

It's not a far stretch from that song to the movie that Zoë recommended to me. Yesterday we sat down to watch "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters". Apart from my questioning why medieval witch hunters would drop the f-bomb all the time it wasn't a bad film. Amusing, plenty of action and blood and guts without being overly gory. I've seen much worse.

That's it for another week folks. Look out in the next few days as I've been working on a full review of Clutch's latest album, "Earth Rocker" which is a gem. Other than that, I better go and find my kilt as I'm going out tonight as DJ Al-E's handbag! Ha ha.

Andy Stewart - Donald Where's Your Troosers? -

Extra points if you can name the sci fi TV show that featured that song.

DJ Rob

Friday, June 21, 2013

Song of the Week #251

Seems like the Don McLean tune really struck a chord with a lot of people. It's a tune that I've known as long as I can remember. I've got the original LP from 1971 (a German pressing I believe since we lived there for a bit). And whilst it is a beautiful song it really isn't my favourite on the album. This one is...

Don McLean - Everybody Loves Me Baby -

I started learning to play the guitar in 1978. I was lucky in that my lessons were far from traditional. All that really happened was we sat around in a circle and played songs off a chart, learning a new chord or two every week. The teachers must've been pretty much a bunch of old hippies when I look back on the tunes! However, this one was one of the hardest for our group - too many chords!! But it's a great song and I still play it.

Roberta Flack - Killing Me Softly -

I sat down yesterday and played through a stack of old 45s. It was a lot of fun even if there were a few cringe-worthy moments. Vinyl certainly doesn't sound as crisp or clear as CD or a quality digital track but there's something warm and organic about letting the needle down on the plastic. This song gave me a laugh...

Timbuk3 - The Future's So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades -

That novelty hit made me think about this one...

The Timelords - Doctorin' The TARDIS -

Yesterday I watched an old Dr Who four part series. "The Face of Evil" is where Leela comes into the story as Tom Baker's companion. I've had the paperback and read it many times since I was a kid. The TV series was rather average - not one of the greatest! But it did have what I consider to be the best version of the theme track; this one...

Dr Who (Tom Baker era) Theme -

If the Dr Who theme is of interest to you then check out this video from the BBC about the making of it.

Queens of the Stone Age have a new album out. Normally this wouldn't even rate a raised eyebrow from me. I have a couple of their previous efforts and for some reason they just don't excite me in the slightest. I think it's all just far too similar sounding for my taste which is amusing given that I'm an AC/DC fan. However, I happened upon this little gem and it had me nodding in a rather goofy fashion in my headphones. If the new album is all this good it should be a cracker. This track really has a Roxy Music vibe going on.

QOTSA - Smooth Sailing -

Ghost's new album is out in stores now and the band is touring. Their schtick is hilarious. Fortunately their musicianship and singing is also really good. Again, you might not like their lyrics but the sound and groove is excellent. The album is called "Infestissumam" which is apparently Latin for "hostile". Someone please ask the Socceroos coach if he can confirm this. For a band that had problems getting their CD manufactured and distributed in the USA they're doing OK at #7 on the Billboard Hard Rock Chart. It went to #1 in their native Sweden. It's so refreshing for a heavy band not to scream, growl or bark.

Ghost - Secular Haze -

I found out today that there are some deluxe editions of Thin Lizzy albums doing the rounds. Normally this means a dodgy remaster and a couple of cheesy demo versions if you're lucky. We may be in luck however as the reviews I've read rate the remastering highly as well as the extra tracks. This version of "Cowboy Song" from a BBC session certainly sounds excellent. I'll shoot off an email to Henry Rollins, the expert in all things Thin Lizzy, for an opinion. This particular version has some great bluesy guitar at the start and then the classic Lizzy swagger.

Thin Lizzy - Cowboy Song (BBC session) -

I've finished watching Season 1 of Lilyhammer now. It's only 8 episodes and really, it may be the best thing I've watched in years. It's well written, quirky, amusing and thoroughly enjoyable. There wasn't a dud moment in any of it. Do yourself a favour and watch it now.

With weather being rather cold here in Canberra I've had to get creative to stay warm on my bicycle. Although I've had the luxury of riding in the middle of the day the temperature has still generally been in single figures. Whatever I've tried I just can't stop my left foot turning into a solid ice block after about 30 minutes. Now, short of riding intervals around my suburb and stopping for a foot spa every lap I needed a solution. Today I think I cracked it. 75km with feet that felt normal the whole way. What's the secret I hear you cry! Well, a plastic sandwich bag over my socks inside my shoe! Hilarious but it worked a treat. I advise not using bags that have contained sandwiches unless you want your feet to smell like cheese and salami.

I like hearing new bands. I like it even more if they are good! Here's a group that have been around a while but have just popped onto my radar. I don't know much about them yet other than the fact that they're from Maryland in the USA and they like beards. Zoë showed us the sign language for "my beard's on fire" which I imagine is very useful. But, this band has a song called "Burning Beard" which popped up on YouTube when I was searching for a video to see if Zoë was telling the truth or pulling my leg! Clutch are pretty heavy and to me sound like a cross between Rage Against The Machine, Soundgarden, Rollins and Black Sabbath. See what you think while I order one of their albums...

Clutch - Burning Beard -

Clutch - The Regulator -

OK, it's been a rather rock 'n' roll episode this week and I see no need to change that just yet. Here are a couple of tracks that you might be able to see and hear the link between. One is a classic and one is brand spanking new.

The Rolling Stones - Bitch (live 1972) -

Vintage Trouble - Pelvis Pusher -

I'm still enjoying the new Black Sabbath album. But, I grew up with Ozzy as a solo artist and even though it may be a form of blasphemy that's what I prefer. During the week I saw that he was a guest star on an episode of CSI - I need to go back and watch that. However, I jokingly wrote on Facebook, "will there be subtitles?" We all know that Ozzy is almost unintelligible these days whether it be as a result of drugs or just because he's contrary. Anyway, hats off to DJ Laff for his reply; "...of course there will be f&*^ing subtitles. Remember I'm the Prince of Darkness...Sharon?" Too funny. Here's Ozzy at his best.

Ozzy Osbourne - Rock 'n' Roll Rebel (live 1984) -

This song is a hoot and I'm playing it for a couple of reasons. One is that it makes me laugh, and the other is that Angus is performing in Grease next week - very cool indeed!

Less Than Jake - Greased Lightnin' -

And just before I call it quits have a listen to this.

Me First & The Gimme Gimmes - Somewhere Over The Rainbow -

Righto, that should be enough music to keep some of you going all week. If not, email me for more.

DJ Rob

Friday, June 14, 2013

Song of the Week #250

Hi everyone and welcome to this week's ramblings.

Last week I promised some reviews and while they may be brief, here we go!

Iggy Pop has been making great music for a long time. His first outing with The Stooges was in 1967 but of course "Raw Power" released in 1973 is their seminal work and a classic. There are a couple of different mixes of that album doing the rounds - one by Bowie and one by Iggy. However, the new album is what I'm here to talk about. They last made an album in 2007 and before that in 1973. For fans of the "Raw Power" album you won't be disappointed.  The music is loud, abrasive and appropriately sloppy. Iggy's voice sounds great - almost ageless. Personally I think that some of the lyrics, in fact a lot of them, are just plain dumb and crass but that's part of the band's schtick I suppose. Is this a good starting point if you haven't listened to the band before? Not really. Spend your money on "Raw Power" and then come back to this one. I'd give it 7 Iggys out of 10.

Iggy and The Stooges - Burn -

It's no secret that I think Baby Animals were one of the greatest Australian rock bands never to crack it really big. They had it all; great riffs, top tunes, great band, fantastic singer, good videos...but it didn't last for a number of reasons. They're back though, well 1/2 of them are. Suze De Marchi and David Leslie return on their LP, "This Is Not The End" with a new bassist and drummer. What ensues is a solid rock and roll album that isn't a far cry from their self-titled, magnificent, debut. I'm really hoping that this CD does well and a tour including Canberra appears. Suze's voice is still strong and Dave's swirling tasty guitars still float my boat. You should buy this album now.

Baby Animals - Bonfires (live) -

Finally Ozzy Osbourne has reunited with most of Black Sabbath (Bill Ward - drums is unwell and also there are arguments about contracts...) for a killer album. Ozzy last recorded with the Sabs in 1978 before getting the axe. Black Sabbath carried on with a variety of band members over the years and some is great but most was average. Ozzy carved himself a niche as a great solo heavy metal singer and put together some great live bands. His recorded output has been pretty good for the most part; especially for a guy that struggles to string two coherent words together. This album, with the same title as the latest release from Suicidal Tendencies (which confused my iPod) is classic Black Sabbath. In fact if you played any of the tracks in a 70's Sabbath mix perhaps only the recording quality would give them away as being new. But is there anything new? Not really. Does this matter? Not really. The album is as Sabbath fans would've hoped for; heavier than a heavy thing, doom laden and atmospheric. Standard lyrical themes abound and while it isn't a literary triumph, it's far from terrible. Black Sabbath are the original heavy metal band - the group that launched a thousand clones and influenced almost everyone in the hard rock and metal genres. The track I've chosen is very like Planet Caravan, not a bad thing at all. I love this album for its sonic boom, big bottom end, beautifully driven guitars, bodacious bass, sens of space and even the cheesy vocal effects. It's the soundtrack to the apocalypse. Get it now.

Black Sabbath - Zeitgeist -

Sticking with the heavier stuff for a moment, I went back in time and had a good listen to Megadeth's "Countdown To Extinction". Why? Why not. The truth is that other than their covers of "Paranoid" and "Anarchy In The UK" I'd really not listened to them at all. A while ago I was at Chez Laff watching "The Big 4" concert on Blu-ray and Megadeth were playing...I filed it away in my brain that they weren't nearly as horrid as I'd decided they were and vowed to have a better listen. And then I forgot all about it. That was until last week where a review of their new album popped up. The new single sounded OK but with the album unreleased (I think it's out now) I went looking for some good stuff. A quick fly through some reviews on Amazon led me to this album from 1992. Well, I was pretty impressed. The guitars are razor sharp rather than the throaty drive of say Metallica. The drumming is solid too. But the riffs are the real winners and make this a great LP. Lyrically, Dave Mustaine is pretty annoyed with almost everything. Add to that a voice that sounds like he sucks sour lemons while he records and it's a mean, angry record. And I liked it. Try this...

Megadeth - Symphony of Destruction -

I spoke about the TV show Lilyhammer last week. Well, thanks to MC Grandma the DVD is here. We've watched 4 episodes so far and once you get used to the dialogue going in and out of Norwegian and English it is a real hoot. Steve Van Zandt is awesome as a grumpy old gangster. I couldn't recommend the series more highly.

This song is especially for my little brother.

The Hooters - And We Danced -

Let's finish with something truly beautiful.

Don McLean - Vincent -

DJ Rob

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Song of the Week #249

Hi everyone,

I've had a big shock this week. On Wednesday I headed to the airport to
collect my Mum who was flying in for a visit. I think my jaw probably
hit the floor when it turned out that my brother arrived as well! It's
pretty cool having them both here. Alison is pretty good at keeping a
secret too!

Today H and Chief were fantastic and agreed to get together to play some
music for them. My Mum last saw me perform in 1985 so I've waited a long
time for an encore - ha ha! I always enjoy playing this song with the
band and it got an outing today. Thanks again boys, you really made my day.

Bruce Springsteen - Reason To Believe -

On to this week's tunes. I've adopted a clear thematic approach to their
selection. However, unless you are DJ FatBoy or H or you've been paying
really close attention to my writing for the past few weeks you probably
won't spot it. No matter - they are great songs regardless. If anyone
does spot the pattern feel free to let me know!! This should be a real
treat for classic rock fans.

First up is Rush from 1975. I've tried to get into this band a few times
and haven't quite succeeded. This track might just crack it though.

Rush - Anthem -

Next up is a classic Australian rock tune. Certainly not my favourite by
AC/DC by any means but it is one of the tracks that got me into the
band. Simple and effective rock and roll with the best front man ever to
grace a stage.


The lyrics for this next track really do nothing for me but the
insistent groove on the guitar and the layered vocals are a real treat.
Definitely one of those songs to play in the car with the windows down
on a warm day. Make sure you listen long enough for the great dirty
keyboard sound.

Boston - Smokin' -

I always thought that Journey and Boston were the same band. This song
is cool for the same reasons that the previous one is but it also has a
beat that keeps me interested more than the standard 4/4 rock and roll chug.

Journey - Keep On Runnin' -

Cheap Trick are a really cool band. Of course, the fact that Rick
Nielsen has the most amazing guitar collection AND can play really well
is a big bonus. Their Big Star cover version for the theme song of "That
70's Show" is also a lot of fun.

Cheap Trick - Big Eyes -

The last song in this little group comes from one of my all time
favourite bands - Thin Lizzy. For pure swagger, a twin guitar attack and
great songwriting they are right up there. I was introduced to them via
the album that the next song is on and expecially their song "Emerald" -
check it out some time. This track is fantastic as well - sit through
the brief intro and watch Thin Lizzy rock Sydney.

Thin Lizzy - Jailbreak -

Tune in next week for a review of the new Baby Animals LP, Iggy & The
Stooges latest outing, a re-visit of Megadeth's "Countdown To
Extinction" and with any luck "13" which is the new one from Black
Sabbath. It's their first album with Ozzy since 1978!

For you TV fanatics this looks like it might be worth checking out. A
series where a gangster from the USA goes to start a new life in
Lillehammer which is in Norway. Starring Steven Van Zandt from the
E-Street Band. This show is the reason that he didn't tour down here
with Springsteen earlier this year. I'll check it out and report back.

Lillyhammer trailer -

I'm going to finish with a band I expected to hate. I was really very,
very wrong. Heavy guitars, great drums, cool themes and finally a singer
that can sing.

Stone Sour - The House of Gold & Bones -

That's all folks. Be nice to your Mum!

DJ Rob

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Song of the Week #248

Saturday morning seems to have become the default timing for 'Song of
the Week'. Why? Well it's just that Fridays have been a little busy.
I'll get back on track next week folks, especially since my final essay
for university is done and dusted.

This song is on high rotation in my head courtesy of the band warming up
for last week's Oils show. This is a pretty neat version featuring Dave
Grohl playing with Rick Springfield...

Sound City Players - Jessie's Girl (live) -

Sound City is a film directed by Dave Grohl about a recording studio -
looks like something worth checking out.

DJ TC went to see this next artist play last week. While he relates that
it was a great show, he also commented about how hard it must be to have
Beatles fans making you constantly stand in the shadow of your Dad. I
guess it's a bit of a double edged sword. Would this guy have got a foot
in the door of the music industry without his heritage? I'd like to
think so as what I've listened to is pretty good.

James McCartney - Angel -

And in an interesting move he recorded this stellar version of a Stones
classic live and acoustic. There's no hiding when you play unplugged.

James McCartney- Gimme Shelter -

H, one of my musical pusher-men, passed on a DVD for me to watch a
couple of weeks ago. 'Searching for Sugar Man' is a documentary about an
American singer called Rodriguez who failed to chart in the USA but
unbeknownst to him, became a mega star in South Africa - as big as Dylan
or the Beatles. I won't spoil the rest of the film for you as it has a
couple of great twists. The music pretty cool as well and I was amazed
to see one of Rodriguez's albums in a shop here last week so I picked it
up. If you like 70s folk-rock/Dylan type music then this should be a hit
with you. Easier to listen to than Dylan in my opinion.

Rodriguez - Crucify Your Mind -
Rodriguez - I Wonder (live) -

This next song is for all the haters out there who think that way to
respond to the senseless killing of a British man is to hurl petrol
bombs into a mosque full of women and children and deface war memorials.
Fundamentalism is ugly regardless of the reason.

Billy Bragg & Wilco - All You Fascists -

For connoisseurs of rock music there are a couple of new releases worthy
of time in your listening budget. Airbourne are Australian and very much
influenced by AC/DC. There stuff is high energy rock for anyone who
dresses in black, has a mullet or just likes a good groove. The album is
called "Black Dog Barking" and it's a cliched, turbo-charged, rock 'n'
roll ripper! Surely these guys should play Summernats - something good
has to happen there.

Airbourne - Live It Up -

The other new album came out yesterday from Australia's "Baby Animals".
I thought they were long gone but they're back. For anyone that came in
late I'll play one of their classics before the new single. There was
such an amazing amount of hype around their first album in 1991 but for
a number of reasons their second album wasn't as strong and then the
group disbanded. It's a shame because singer Suze De Marchi has one of
the great rock voices of our time.

Baby Animals - One Word (1991) -
Baby Animals - Email (2013) -

i had a really, really long ride yesterday. 4 hours is quite a while
alone on a bike with your thoughts! Usually a couple of songs stick in
my head out on the road. These are the two that kept me going. That and
the funny comments from the General Store owner at Tharwa - he told me
that the hills get bigger as you get older! Luckily (?) for me there
were roadworks at the foot of the biggest hill so I had to avoid it!!

B-52's - Roam -
Foxy Shazam - I Wanna Be Yours -

Before I sign off, there's one chance left to see the band playing
Midnight Oil tunes. We're at Radford College on 6/6 starting at 6:30pm.
The gig is open to one and all and the price of entry (all of which goes
to charity) is "what you can afford to pay". We've been playing these
songs for a while now and this promises to be a great show. The band is
very fortunate that DJ GUZ has quickly become an integral part of our
group doing a stellar job with out sound production. In pretty cool
news, my Mum will be at the show! We worked out that the last time she
saw me live on stage was! After we do the gig I can safely
say that I won't be listening to Midnight Oil for a few weeks at least.
The band has a heap of other performances coming up with a range of
music so watch this space. Me, I better knuckle down and learn some new

Bryan Ferry - Casanova -

Maybe in about '81 or '82 I was part of a music festival where we sang
this next song. It's a cheesy one I know but it pretty much sums up how
I feel about the boys in the band that I'm playing with at the moment.
They've been kind enough to take a career rhythm guitarist and recognise
that if pushed a bit I could do more. My guitar work has improved as a
result of their patience as well as hours and hours of practice. Thanks

ABBA - Thank You For The Music -

DJ Rob