Saturday, August 31, 2013

Song of the Week #261

This week's episode is dedicated to the memory of Jeane. Jeane passed away on Friday morning at 7.45am at the grand age of 90.

This song is difficult. It sounds beautiful from the periphery but if you listen then you'll find it's tortured and tangled. Jeane was my good friend H's Mum. And whilst you most certainly should not read anything into their relationship from this song, what it reminds me of is the influence that parents have both good and bad.

Pink Floyd - Mother -

On Friday I spent most of the day outside supervising a student mountain biking team. It was a lot of fun even if the wind was Wellington-esque. Something I saw out there made me stop and smile. It's a little moment for all you GenY and GenZ haters who've forgotten what it was like to be a kid. As the riders, and there were a few hundred, came through the timing point there was cones and fencing to slow them down. At one stage one of the officials was handing out freebies to everyone who rode through. I stood and watched maybe 40 kids ride through, collect some cool bike gear and without fail say thankyou and smile. Little things like that give me hope for the human race.

The Who - Kids Are Alright -

August finished today which means that Spring begins tomorrow - hooray! It also means that DJ SamSpam has a birthday to celebrate. He's still got a couple to go before he hits the big four-oh. Here's one from his "Desert Island Disc"...

Cab Calloway - Minnie the Moocher -

On Thursday Zoë installed a media player on her laptop. There's nothing exciting about that except that after she did, the laptop wouldn't function anymore. After a total of maybe 5 hours I managed to fix the thing without wiping the drive or introducing it to the windows environment by throwing it out of one. I guess all those years in tech support paid off.

Peter Gabriel - Sledgehammer -

After an awesome ride in the stillness of a cool Canberra morning with the WMGS Patron I looked back at my cycling for the month and the year so far. For August I managed to clock up 1194km to give me a total of 8902km so far this year. I think that's a reasonable effort. I'm planning to look into some racing soon because all those kilometres in my legs might mean that I can keep up with a few other old blokes. And anyway, it might just be fun.

John Lee Hooker - Father Was A Jockey -

Sadly one of my favourite bands have decided to call it a day. King Cannons emailed through during the week that it was over. This is a real shame as they were an excellent live act and their EP and album were well worth listening to. It looks like we might see some of them in a different guise before too long so fingers crossed. DJ AB and I were lucky enough to see them play live three times.

King Cannons - Too Young -

Recently I saw a book titled, "Why AC/DC Matters". I haven't read the book yet but the title caught my eye. Why does AC/DC or any band matter at all? After pondering this whilst cycling (my best thinking time), I've come up with a few thoughts. Firstly, not all bands do matter. You can be in a great band but, in my opinion, unless you are breaking new ground or have something important to say then you won't forge that connection with an audience that lasts. AC/DC took basic rock 'n' roll and turned it up. Angus Young says that they are like Chuck Berry only louder! But the rhythm, feel, image and lyrics have all combined to take them from a bar room band to world bestsellers. It's just the way that they do it. There are many, many soundalike bands (Rhinobucket is a solid example) who play just as well but are missing that critical spark.

AC/DC - Rock 'n' Roll Singer -

A band such as Midnight Oil matters probably for similar reasons to Bruce Springsteen. They sing about real issues and have a distinctive sound which they may alter but not too much.

Bruce Springsteen - The River -

Midnight Oil - Truganini -

Van Halen matters. Why? Well not only because Eddie is a virtuoso and a pioneer. But because they write rock music that appeals to a certain demographic. It's music for playing loud in the car when you really need to wash away your cares. It's escapism with volume, long hair and a harmony.

Van Halen - Summer Nights -

Billy Bragg and Steve Earle matter to me. They write from the heart about real people. I might not always agree with their views but you know that they aren't just singing, "she loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah".

Billy Bragg - She's Got A New Spell -

Steve Earle - Jerusalem (live in Sydney at The Factory) -

Which brings me to the Beatles. Yes, of course they matter. They are pioneers. And they weren't scared to try something new. Some bands make the same album for 20 years, the Beatles evolved and made it OK to be a bit different.

The Beatles - Revolution -

It's not fair for me to write about bands that "don't matter" because it's very much a personal thing. But I'm sure you all have albums on the shelf that you thought were OK when you got them but you'd never listen to. Good music, nothing special. I've got plenty of those!

Righto, that's enough. This episode was very late as a result of VLC player and Windows 7 not getting along.

DJ Rob

Friday, August 23, 2013

Song of the Week 260

Last week I wrote about academic qualifications. This prompted an interesting discussion with DJ DJ. As a result of chatting to him on the telephone I discovered that he has a certain notoriety related to an expensive piece of scientific equipment that no longer works. Even though the incident was many years ago now, some people have a long memory! What this reminded me of was tennis coaching. When I was in high school I was reasonable at the sport and so, along with my brother, I went to some professional coaching. I didn't like the coach and I'm fairly sure he didn't like me. But to be fair to him, my volley improved out of sight. He certainly didn't like me at all when I shoved a tennis ball back down the nozzle of the ball cannon to see what would happen. The machine was never the same and I didn't go back! Tennis is a great sport to play, just don't make me watch it too often.

It's hard keeping up with all the celebrity rock 'n' roll news but a couple that certainly rate a mention are the passing of JJ Cale and Alvin Lee. I became aware of JJ Cale when I was running the school "radio station" in the mid-80s. A friend gave me a cassette and said I'd like it. All that was on the tape was the song "Cocaine". Subject matter aside it's a fantastic track. Laid back guitars with great licks in the background, vocals to match and it's super catchy. Of course Eric Clapton covered it and did a great job but this will always be the ultimate version for me.

JJ Cale – Cocaine –

Last night, in a moment of madness, I headed out for a ride at about 6pm. It was dark, and cold and there was a definite chance of rain. But you know, I really felt like a ride and I hadn't been that day. Fast forward to about the 20km mark and the rain came down. I was wet and I was cold. Suddenly it was no fun whatsoever! But, given that I had ridden that far, it was the same distance home so I just got on with it. Normally I don't mind rain but last night was miserable. I think that I really like rain…when I'm inside. I'm sure I'll make that mistake again one day. The upside was…actually, I'm not sure there was one!

Eddie Rabbit – I Love A Rainy Night –

A few weeks ago I told you about a band called Stone Sour. Well, now I've had a few listens to one of their albums (House of Gold & Bones part 1) and I think I'm hooked. They are really for fans of heavier music but there's plenty of melody and musicianship to keep casual rock fans interested. The bottom end thumps nicely, the singer can sing and the guitar player absolutely nails it. Interestingly, although not in the touring band, Rachel Bolan from Skid Row played bass on the LP. There IS a House of Gold & Bones part 2 but I haven't listened to it yet. Maybe in a few weeks.

Stone Sour –  Absolute Zero -

Avril Lavigne has a new video and record out. I'll admit that I've always had a soft spot for some of her tunes. It is hardly challenging listening but as Malcolm Young from AC/DC is reported to have said, if fans want deep lyrics then they should listen to REM! Avril's video is a bit out there but cool nonetheless. Be warned, there's a couple of swear words in there…

Avril Lavigne – Rock 'n' Roll -

In what seems like an attempt to set a world record for the most official bootleg releases, Bob Dylan has another one coming out. Called, "Another Self Portrait (1969-71)", this is volume 10 in his bootleg series. It's not out for a few more days but there are plenty of reviews out there to read. It's more alternate takes, outtakes and unreleased tunes for the aficionado rather than the casual listener I imagine. However, there's something about this release that has me interested. Maybe it's that the original "Self Portrait" album was slammed at the time by critics or maybe it's the rumble about the tracks and their production holding up well. We'll see.

Bob Dylan – Take A Message To Mary -
Re-issues and box sets are all well and good but some of them seriously under-deliver. Nirvana's last album, 1993s "In Utero" is getting the treatment as a result of its 20th anniversary. The extended version of 1991s "Nevermind" is a real  treat with a great list of different versions and tunes. Having taken a look at the list you get 43 tracks, a live concert DVD (17 tracks) and 12 more bonus tracks too not to mention a CD of the concert. That's listed on Amazon for a cool $150 and is released on September 24th. For vinyl lovers there is a 3 LP version as well. It's still a lot of money…

Nirvana – Heart Shaped Box -

Bruce Springsteen is back in Australia in March next year. I imagine the 3 tickets available to the general public for $300 each have already been sold. I'm sure it'll be a great show and I hope that some real fans get so see it rather than folks getting free tickets from radio stations or through their credit card loyalty programmes. As I grow to enjoy his music more and more I'm sure that it'd be worth the money but…

Bruce Springsteen -  No Surrender -

Canberra fans of Iron Maiden should take note that the band Live Evil are doing another Maiden Oz tribute gig at the ANU Bar on November 23rd. Tickets are $20 presale and if you're a Maiden fan (and I am) I can assure you that this is the next best thing to seeing the band themselves (which I have). So, get your tickets from Ticketek, look out your best black t-shirt and come along for a great night.

Iron Maiden –  Women In Uniform -

I've never really spent much time listening to Charlie Sexton. I always thought him and Charlie Sheen were the same person. Or was that Johnny Depp? But DJ Dr recommended his work to me. This week I've listened to a few tracks and it isn't half bad. In a coincidence he's also been a regular in Bob Dylan's band for a few years. I'll soldier on with some more tunes but my main issue is that I'm starting to think that I need a listening strategy. The dietitian gave me a good plan and an egg quota, surely someone can do the same to sort out my listening needs!

Charlie Sexton –  Beat's So Lonely -

I'll finish with one of the songs from my Desert Island list. Another couple of people have sent theirs in so look out for tracks over the next few weeks. It's not too late to play – email me a list of up to 12 essential tunes. This one is from Izzy Stradlin. Izzy was the rhythm guitarist for Guns 'n' Roses from '85-'91. On leaving he wrote some tunes and recorded an album with a band he called the Ju Ju Hounds. It's a great record and Rick from the Georgia Satellites is on it as well. If you like Stones-esque music then it's an album for you. This is my favourite track from the record. It's one that never gets boring. I love the grove, the vocal delivery and the guitars. Have a great weekend everyone!

Izzy Stradlin & The Ju Ju Hounds – Shuffle It All –

DJ Rob

Friday, August 16, 2013

Song of the Week 259

Are qualifications important? Is where they come from important? Are they worth the fees, or even the paper they are printed on. Today's news about the ranking of Australian (and other) universities got me thinking.

In Australia, tertiary education was free until 1989. Coincidentally that was the year that I started university. I was fortunate enough to have the Army pay for my initial degree while many others, statistically women especially, are still paying off their debt. Today a masters level postgraduate degree will set you back at least $20,000.

As of recently I have three tertiary qualifications as well as a computing certificate. They are from three very different universities, but they are universities nonetheless.

There is a lot of snobbery that relates to where a degree comes from and I think it is ill-founded. 

While it is all well and good to aspire to a degree from a sandstone institution the fact is that for any number of reasons other than intellect,  it is beyond the majority of the population. My latest qualification is from a university that is ranked towards the middle of the field and I can tell you that I had to study just as hard for it as for my degree from a more prestigious seat of learning. 

Can I say though that none of the qualifications I have studied for and attained have been worth the money that they have cost. The administration and teaching has been average at best in many cases although there have been a couple of fantastic exceptions (that's you Paul Tranter and Ian McAllister both of UNSW@ADFA). For a user pays system there is a lot of paying for not much.

As someone who looks at resumes all the time with a view to employing people I think that it is important to look past the institution and see what has actually been studied and how those subjects have been used. For so many people, the closest university is their only option.

DJ Al-Ee-NeverBuyTheSun had a birthday this week. I know she's had a fairly torrid week so I hope that our love and gifts made her feel wanted. I was also really proud of both of our kids who made the leap to organizing presents without me! I don't feel redundant….much.

Here's a track from a new release CD that Angus got for Al-Ee…I think it sounds just like one of my favourite bands, Winterpills, so it's a winner.

Josh Pyke – The Beginning And The End Of Everything -


Winterpills – Broken Arm -

DJ H passed on some early Rolling Stones CDs to me on the weekend. I swear he's working very, very hard to convert me! However, whilst I enjoy the music I just don't get why they are so huge. This next song is on one of their albums. This is the original I believe and it's fantastic. I first heard it via the fantastic Australian blues band, The Bondi Cigars.

Solomon Burke – Cry To Me -

DJ Dr and I corresponded about these next two artists this week. He alerted me to this really cool live track where they play together. Well worth 5 minutes of your time.

Howard Jones & Nik Kershaw - Wouldn't It Be Good -

Howard and Nik took me back to the 80's. I remember the Thompson Twins, Corey Hart and then this gem popped into my mind. I'm sure it wouldn't get an airing these days.

Mel Brooks - To Be Or Not To Be -

Whats' that? You want more 80's? Well you have to remember that I was a teenage metal head but some other music did seep into my consciousness now and then, more than I care to admit. 

This was a great track...

Thompson Twins - Doctor Doctor -

And just in case you think I've gone soft...

Manowar - Carry On -

In one of my news feeds today was the headline, "Clapton's favourite guitar solo". I was interested so I clicked the link. It turns out that "God" likes listening to this one. Not bad, not bad at all!

Wilson Pickett (with Duane Allman) - Hey Jude -

I find it far too hard to pick a single guitar solo that I'd call my favourite but this one's up there in my list.

Eric Clapton - Layla (acoustic) -

That's enough for one week. Some "Desert Island Discs" next time.

DJ "my legs are worn out" Rob

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Song of the Week #258

How many of you out there remember your first road trip as a driver? Zoë is about to have one. To be fair it's only a 45 minute drive out to her Youth Group Camp but I can assure you it's exciting for her.

My first long drive was a bit more extreme. I headed home from Canberra to Victoria. It was a bit of a hike, 600km, that included a short patch of unsealed road as well! Anyway, Zoë has proved herself to be a most capable driver in the last couple of weeks so I'm sure I have nothing to worry about. (Saturday morning update - she's there without any dramas - hardly surprising!)

Some of you may remember me writing about Glen Campbell's album, "Ghost On The Canvas". It's a fantastic record in my opinion and so very poignant in many places given that Glen has Alzheimer's Disease. Well blow me down, he's managed another. Glen is 77 now and although much of this was recorded in 2011 I can't wait to get my hands on a copy. The last album made me teary so who knows what this one will do!? Here's a fairly recent live track that shows that the voice is still there.

Glen Campbell – Wichita Lineman (live) -

It was seriously cold here on Friday morning. I rolled out of the garage at about 6.30am on my trusty bicycle and headed up the highway. My plan was a quick 25km before riding to work. Certainly I had so much gear on that I felt like the Michelin Man. About 6 km into the ride I entered some fog, well more like pea soup! I'm not sure I've ever been in it so thick. I have a reserve red flashing light on the back of my helmet and this morning I turned it on as well as the one under my saddle. Although the shoulder is nice and wide out there on the highway it pays to play it safe. By the time the ride was over and I got to work I was very cold and wet as well. But really, there's nothing quite like it to set you up for the day! Mad? Probably.

Little River Band – Cool Change (live) -

If LRB had played that song on one of today's TV "talent" shows we wouldn't have heard anything after the first few notes as the crowd screamed. Seriously people, have a good listen before you drown out the performers.

It was a bit of a sad day for me this week when I sold my beautiful time-trial bike. For the uninitiated, TT bikes are the funny looking ones that cyclists and triathletes use to battle against the clock. You almost lie down on them to ride. Whilst mine was a thing of beauty, my foot injury means no running and therefore no triathlon. As a result I couldn't bear to look at the bike doing nothing in the garage. "The Burglar" has found a new home and some potential racing which is great. And I have a few dollars in my pocket…hmm…time for a cool commuting bike perhaps??

AC/DC - Ride On -

A couple of weeks I emailed a few people to see if they could help me out here with some "Desert Island Discs". You know the concept, choose a dozen songs that might be the only ones you could take with you if you were marooned. Well the responses have been very, very interesting. So much so that I'm rethinking how to use them. If you'd like to join in then feel free to email me your list. My brother sent me a real classic, one that I'd forgotten all about…what I hadn't realised is how many versions there are of it. Of course this first one is most likely the best known, but hang around and listen to the second...and third!

Paul Young – Love of the Common People -

Bruce Springsteen – Love of the Common People –

Nicky Thomas - Love of the Common People -

I wouldn't think that Bruce would lead me to reggae that often but today he has. And reggae leads to ska and on through to punk rock. It's not rocket science but it's a fairly obvious pathway.

Desmond Dekker - Rude Boy Train -

The Ruts – Babylon's Burning (live) -

The Specials – Too Much Too Young -

Rancid – Ruby Soho -

In sad news, medicos have apparently told Lemmy from Motorhead that he needs to slow down or cease touring. Whilst Lemmy isn't a young man I'm not sure that he can imagine a life without rock 'n'roll. Here's hoping that it can all be sorted out. After all, Keith Richards still manages to wheel himself out all the time and surely that's against the laws of nature.

Motorhead – Rock 'n' Roll Music -

A friend of mine did a great cover of this next song sitting in front of his webcam. To be truthful I had no idea that it was a Joan Baez song. She'll be in Australia touring soon. Anyway, this is a great version...

Judas Priest – Diamonds and Rust (acoustic) -

Next up is a band I know nothing about. I saw a photo of their singer playing a FLying V guitar like the one I used to have and clicked on a link. For those of you who liked the few tunes I played from "City and Colour" a while back you might also like this. It's fairly laid back stuff but what I like the most apart from the singer's voice is the little guitar runs in the background. See what you think.

My Morning Jacket - Wordless Chorus -

I went to see Zoë's orchestra play during the week. It was cool. But conducting one of the other ensembles was a good friend of mine. He's an ace trumpeter and a fantastic conductor. Sitting with him later on he told me that he'd bought a guitar as he needed some music "to himself". What a brilliant idea. I'm hoping that after he's put a few chords together that we can get together and bash out a few tunes. I can picture him playing this one...keep on rocking Greg.

Neil Young - Old Man (live) -

Just before I finish I must reveal that I got the shock of my life to see Lionel Richie advertising beer recently. He appears singing "Hello" as some guy opens the fridge. Really Lionel? Did you need the money? If you did then OK but otherwise stay out of the fridge. It's such a shame because it's such a fantastic song. Years ago DJ W-Dee gave me a couple of Lionel's LPs. They remain firm favourites.

Lionel Richie - All Night Long (live) -

At the start I mentioned Glen Campbell. His voice seems pretty much as strong now as it does on his early recordings. Not many artists can make that claim. But John Fogerty can - he still sounds great. Let's finish with a couple from him.

John Fogerty with Dawes - Someday Never Comes -

John Fogerty and The Boss -Fortunate Son -

John Fogerty and Kid Rock - Born On The Bayou -

Bye y'all,

DJ Rob

Friday, August 2, 2013

Song of the Week #257

I had an interesting experience this morning. About 3/4 of the way through my ride some young guys thought it would be really funny to see if they could knock me with their car door. After realising what they were attempting I had enough time to ease back they drove on by. I really wonder what deep dark recess of the lowest parts of the gene pool these guys crawled out of. However, not much earlier I'd watched in dismay as a cyclist shot by me and through a red light. Roads are all about respect for whomever is using them.

The Staple Singers - Respect Yourself -

Today is "Jeans for Genes" Day here in Australia. Simple concept really; wear your jeans to work/school and donate a few bucks to aid gene research. This, coupled with another event this week got me thinking about medical research. Doesn't it well and truly suck that the only way that much research is funded is through charity? Our Government announced huge tax increases in the price of cigarettes this week; it'd be really good if this stopped people smoking but also if a fair portion of the money raised went into cancer research.

Spinal Tap - Gimme Some Money -

DJ DJ sent me a photo advertising an interview with Queensryche this week. The band and their singer are still embroiled in a foul legal slanging match. DJ DJ did assure me though that this too shall pass. What I'm really hoping for is that, before too long, either incarnation of the band, or a new one, will produce something worth listening to. Something on a par with this would do...

Queensryche - I Don't Believe In Love -

DJ M-Dubya-M sent me a note about this next artist. Mainly because he'd spotted her with an interesting guitar but also because she's from Scotland. I've listened to a number of tracks now and I think I'll invest in an album. Most of the stuff I've heard is quiet and acoustic but this track isn't. It reminds me of Elvis Costello. And there is something truly awesome about a woman playing a Bo Diddley Gretsch guitar - woooah!!

KT Tunstall - I Don' Want You Now -

As Tom Petty says, "Elvis may be the King, but Diddley is Daddy!"

Bo Diddley - Bo Diddley -

Tom Petty / Bo Diddley - Mona -

During the week I carried out my version of "Renovation Rescue". This entailed heading over to H's house and rescuing some very, very cool vinyl records and a record player that were to be got rid of in his house remodeling. Wow, I came away with a huge pile of awesome LPs! I've only had time to listen to a few but Graceland, Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Marillion and Supertramp on vinyl is a real treat. I'm looking forward to a LOT more listening. Here's a couple of tracks from the selection...

Marillion - Lothian -

Dragon - Rain -

Ringo Starr - Back Off Boogaloo -

I've loved The Proclaimers for a long time now, they've got 9 albums. They write fantastic lyrics about things that matter and there's an honesty to their music that so many bands never manage to achieve. They've got a new tune out and it's a cracker.

The Proclaimers - Not Cynical -

Recently I bought a new pair of motorcycle boots. One of the issues riding a cruiser style bike is that the wind goes straight up your leg and freezes your shins and calves! When it's below zero in the morning this really isn't a great way to start the day. But my issue is do I wear these long boots inside or outside my riding pants? First world problems right?! Opinion seems divided but one guy did point out that he wears them under his jeans so that he doesn't look like a cowboy. But hey, if I wear them outside I can sing the lyrics in the next song....

Bon Jovi - Dead or Alive (live) -

Richie Sambora certainly knows how to do a quick guitar change!

I really can't remember if I've played this track before but certainly not in the last few weeks. This is from a band that have gone from nothing to touring with The Who, Queen and Bon Jovi in a short time. The reason for this is that they play high energy rhythm and blues in a way that is so old fashioned yet so refreshing. I think they are fantastic and I hope you give this a spin and then run out to buy their album. There's a live DVD now (recorded in Scotland) which I'll be getting shortly.

Vintage Trouble - Pelvis Pusher -

And just to for DJ FatRollins who spent the day in the hospital rather than going to work. Get well soon my friend.

Dire Straits - Brothers In Arms -

And on that note, goodbye!

DJ Rob