Friday, November 22, 2013

Song of the Week #273

Some people have way too much time on their hands, or maybe they just prioritise differently. I’m sure that plenty of people out there would think that spending 12 hours a week cycling is a bit excessive. I can tell you that now and then it feels that way but not often! But what I’m referring to in the clumsy beginning to this week’s ramble is the following website:

Whilst trying to gain a better appreciation for Bob Dylan I stumbled across this site. As a result I’ve organised a mono copy of “Highway 61 Revisited” to check out. I’ve been listening to the stereo mix this week but I’ll let it stew in my brain a while longer before reporting back.

The exciting news this week is that H found his Desert Island Discs list (the one that I lost in a fit of laptop rebuilding). Now, H couldn’t survive with just a CD of his favourite tunes so he delivered a list of essential albums! Fair enough, I can work with that. After all, with today’s MP3 technology you could fit them all on one CD anyway. So here we go, 10 albums.

Glenn Campbell – Ghost on the Canvas. I couldn’t agree more. I read about this album and just had to buy it. When it arrived I was astounded at how good his voice sounded as well as at the poignancy of the tunes given his Alzheimer’s. Even if you’re not a country music fan it would be hard not to be both impressed and moved by this album. This next track is right up there for me with Johnny Cash’s version of “Hurt”.

Glen Campbell – A Better Place (2011) -

Johnny Marr – The Messenger. Many of you will know Johnny from his rather famous band, “The Smiths”. I don’t like them. But I do like the work he did with Billy Bragg. The Messenger is his first solo album and all the reviews I have read are quite positive. I’ve played one of his tracks before on the show here and I’ll go back and listen to the whole album before too long. Here’s some guitar Brit-Pop for you all…

Johnny Marr – Upstarts (2013) -

Peter Hammill – Fireships. Peter should be familiar to any prog-rock fans out there as a member of Van Der Graaf Generator. Given that I know next to nothing about his work I’ll defer to the internets for my research. He’s certainly prolific with 35 studio album from 1971 till the present. Check out a track with me and see what you think…

Peter Hammill – I Will Find You (1992) -

Hole – Celebrity Skin. Courtney Love does write a good tune and she isn’t scared of a little publicity. This track has a great rock and roll guitar sound as well as a healthy dose of attitude. Joining the writing team of  Love along with her guitarist Erik Erlandson is the Smashing Pumpkin’s Billy Corgan.

Hole – Celebrity Skin (1998) -

Ronnie Wood – Got My Own Album To Do. Ronnie has been a Rolling Stone since 1975 and he’ll be here in Australia touring with them in 2014. As I’ve mentioned before one of their more recent DVDs has either a very strange mix and video timeline or there is someone else out the back playing the guitar that we can’t see. Would I go and see them? Probably not. Should Stones fans go? Absolutely. Mick is 70 so you have to wonder how long they can keep it going. But, back to Ronnie. This album is his first solo outing and being from 1974 it is pre-Stones. Some great musicians appear on it including Keith Richards, Ian McLagan, George Harrison and David Bowie. Jagger’s on there too as is Rod Stewart.

Ron Wood – Far East Man (1974) -

Verbow – White Out. H introduced me to Verbow earlier this year. Jason Narducy who plays in the band also plays with Bob Mould so that’s the link used to get me listening! If you like Sugar, The Lemonheads  or cellos then this should be on your list.

Verbow – New History (2000) -

Foxy Shazam – Welcome To The Church of Rock n Roll. This one is my fault. I gave H the CD and I’m really glad he liked it. I’ve featured Foxy Shazam before and no doubt I will again. It’s a wonderfully fun blend of Queen, The Darkness, Elton John, KISS, Iggy Pop and Meatloaf. The only thing that annoys me about it is the cigarette on the album cover. Rock on.

Foxy Shazam – I Like It (2012) -

Cheap Trick – Rockford. This is a 2006 outing from Cheap Trick named after their hometown in Illinois. H reckons it is arguably their best album. I’ve always thought that Cheap Trick were pretty cool. They have tons of groovy guitars and they write a good rock ‘n’ roll song. When I was younger I used to mix up Robin Zander and Tom Petty though. And whilst it’s cheesy I’ve always been a big fan of their cover of Elvis’ “Don’t Be Cruel”. This is the single from “Rockford”..

Cheap Trick – Welcome to the World (live)(2010) -

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Push The Sky Away. Yeah, I really don’t know about this one. I like Nick and his schtick but this album left me feeling a little, well, blah. Maybe it’s one I need to spend more time with. If H likes it then it’s worth another try without a doubt. Certainly a quick read of snippets from reviews reveals that “it is not a work to  be appreciated casually” (Randall Roberts in the LA Times). Time for a serious listen…soon. This song is dark and brooding but there’s a light touch in the instrumentation which resonates with me.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Jubilee Street (2013) -

So there you have it, an eclectic mix for a desert island from my good friend H. I’m looking forward to discussing some of these in person with him as well as playing a few in the band….you never know!

To finish up, it’s a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my Dad. He’s my major musical influence so I better play a tune just for him.

Tom Paxton with Pete Seeger – Ramblin’ Boy (1965) -

DJ Rob

Friday, November 15, 2013

Song of the Week #272

This week I read a few articles on the NPR website ( National Public Radio out of the USA is a pretty good source for music news and also for getting exposure to a wide range of artists. They stream and podcast a lot of stuff as well which is cool. When you add a pretty good Twitter feed to that then it’s a bit of a one stop shop for music.

Recently they posted a list of “most loved” albums (  I shared this list with a range of friends who I know have good musical taste but also different opinions. Reactions ranged from “I don’t like lists” and “proof that most over-rated band of all times is… The Beatles”, to discussions about what albums we’d choose. “Most loved” is different to “best”. I think that “Powerage” is the best AC/DC album ever because it has great songs, riffs and attitude but I’m sure that “Back In Black” would the most loved one if you polled a reasonable sample of people.

AC/DC – Cold Hearted Man (1978) -

As H pointed out, lists can start conversations and that’s what I like about them. NPR’s list has Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue” at number 4. My good mate Glen was a big fan of this. When he died I got myself a copy to play to remind me of him. I don’t like it much but I did discover “Sketches of Spain” as a result.

Miles Davis – Concierto De Aranjuez (Adagio) (1960) -

Another friend and I decided that there was a big hole in the list that needed to be filled by the Rolling Stones. But then we agreed that they really never made a great album. “Exile” and “Sticky Fingers” probably come close but there are duds on each. Here’s one from “Sticky Fingers” which was released in April 1971…just like me!

The Rolling Stones – Bitch (1971) -

I’m assuming that greatest hits albums were excluded from the most loved list because it’s unusual to go to someone’s house and not see a copy of ABBA’s Greatest Hits Volume 2 (the one with the silver cover) there. It’s the omnipresent LP. I wonder if there’s a volume 1? Here’s my favourite ABBA track perhaps with the exception of “Waterloo”. This one really rocks.

ABBA – Does Your Mother Know (1979) -

DJ NotSoFatRollins asked me what my 5 most loved albums were. He thought it was a fair challenge that would have me in agony. He was wrong. I bashed out this list in about 2 minutes and I still stand by it a couple of days later. These are all records that work as a cohesive collection of songs in my opinion and that’s what an album should be about.
  • The Wall – Pink Floyd
  • If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It) – AC/DC
  • Weight – Rollins Band
  • Mama Said – Lenny Kravitz
  • Comes A Time – Neil Young 

Lenny Kravitz – Always On The Run (1991) - 

I’d swap AC/DC’s “Powerage” in at number 2 if live albums weren't allowed.

Angus has been on work experience this week at RMC Duntroon. That’s where the Australian Army trains all of its officers. To be fair to Defence Recruiting, they’ve put together a fantastic array of activities for the 35 or so kids that attended. They’ve handled weapons, been on obstacle courses, had tons of lectures and done more PT than is probably recommended! Who knows what this will lead to as Angus is only 15 but I will admit that I’ve found it difficult to deal with at times. My time in the Army was OK in the end but, in retrospect, it really wasn’t the best career choice I could have made.

The Clash – Career Opportunities (1977) -

There’s a copy of John Lennon’s “Double Fantasy” LP in my office at the moment. It’s a bit hard to get it home on the bicycle so it might sit here for a while. What’s interesting is the fact that it’s been a bit of a conversation starter. Yesterday a colleague looked at it, told me he’d never heard any of the songs but assumed they were all about love. Since the cover has a picture of John and Yoko kissing I suppose that’s a fair assumption. It’s a good album, well, the Lennon songs are, and lyrically I really like it. It’s his last one before he was murdered and it was released only three weeks prior.

John Lennon – Watching The Wheels (1981) -

So, at the end of NPR’s blog post that we started with is a list of the top 10 least loved albums. Interesting. I agree that we can do without Lil’ Wayne, BeyoncĂ©, Usher and probably most of Whitney Houston’s recorded output. There are, however, a couple of entries that I certainly do not agree with. Let’s examine a couple.

Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation 1814” is in there. Interestingly it’s apparently a concept album about social justice issues. There were 8 singles released from it with 7 of them ending up inside the US top 5. Regardless of what you think about music charts that’s not a bad effort. I’ll admit that it’s a long time since I listened to the album all the way through but I know I didn’t hate it. It had one of the best rock singles of 1990 on it along with a killer video clip…

Janet Jackson – Black Cat (1990) -

The other album in the least loved list is Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet”. Wow. I remember when this hit the airwaves in 1986. It was a cassette I played non-stop. Although there are a couple of slower tracks on the LP it really is 42 minutes of solid gold rock and roll. Bon Jovi’s biggest hits are all here; “You Give Love A Bad Name”, “Livin’ On A Prayer” and “Wanted Dead or Alive”. It’s an album that is all killer and no filler.

Bon Jovi – Wild In The Streets (1986) -

Right at the bottom of NPR’s blog post is a list of the 10 least heard albums that apparently everyone should listen to. Here’s Isaac Hayes from “Hot Buttered Soul”…

Isaac Hayes – By The Time I Get To Phoenix (1969) -

Today I was lucky enough to play the guitar behind a group of really good singers here at work. Playing to almost 1000 people is a real treat and a privilege too. Thankfully I was well away from all the vocal microphones. Every time I’m asked to perform and it might involve singing I think of this track.

Billy Bragg and Wilco – Way Over Yonder In The Minor Key (1998) -

You’ll note that I haven’t commented on Australia’s 44th Federal Parliament which has just commenced. I think I’ll keep it that way to preserve my sanity.

Cold Chisel – Goodbye (Astrid Goodbye)(1980) -

Have a good weekend.

DJ Rob

Friday, November 8, 2013

Song of the Week #271

If Saturday night’s alright for fighting then Friday night is definitely good for collapsing on the lounge with a book, some good music and/or a movie that isn’t too mentally taxing! But I guess that wouldn’t make a good song title.

Last week I mentioned The Cult and their album “Electric”. I was pretty excited to get the vinyl version (including the unreleased original recordings) at Landspeed Records here in Canberra on Saturday. It was also a relief to buy a record that hadn’t been shrink wrapped and therefore warped in the process when the cellophane is too tight. Another album that I took delivery of the week came with a download card so that you can bung the MP3s on your iDevice. Now THAT’s the way to sell music. Give me the security blanket and warmth of the vinyl but also the on the move version – great!

Cliff Richard - Wired For Sound -

I played Cliff as much for the Walkman he's wearing as for the song.

I think I’ll give up on Bob Dylan. I’ve tried and tried but he just bores me to tears. There are, of course, moments of brilliance, but a whole album is a bridge too far. My latest attempt was the remastered “Self Portrait” album and the demos and outtakes that go along with it. On the original it’s almost impossible to get past the grinding drudgery of the opening track. Yuk. I’ll admit defeat safe in the knowledge that Bob won’t mind! At least he was good in this one…

Traveling Wilburys – Tweeter & The Monkey Man -

Super heroes are all the rage at the moment. It’s almost as if someone decided that it was okay to be a little bit nerdy and admit that Superman or the Green Lantern is cool. There was a time when there certainly wasn’t such a broad appeal. I’ve been meaning to watch the new “Man of Steel” cinema extravaganza but it’s quite long and I don’t want to fall asleep during it. Falling asleep in the movies is bad whereas on the lounge at home is just amusing. There are a couple of great songs about super heroes though that come to mind…

Spin Doctors – Jimmy Olsen’s Blues (1991) -

3 Doors Down – Kryptonite (2000) -

3 Doors Down are from a town in  Mississippi called Escatawpa. Why am I telling you that? Well because I think it sounds cool; wrap your lips around Escatawpa a few times!

I think that the lack of a live action Wonder Woman movie is a travesty. That was an awesome TV show. I do realise that a pilot was made for a new TV series but apparently it was so bad that it was shelved.

Wonder Woman Theme (1978) -

I did venture back to criterium racing this week. And I did a lot better than last time. Hanging onto the bunch for the whole race was an achievement. The average speed for the race of about 35 minutes was 41 km/h – that’s not slow for an early middle-aged bloke like me. I imagine I’ll go back for another go before too long. I was thankful for DJ AB and DJ HamerTime looking out for me.

Usually by Friday I need some louder and faster music to get me through but today is a bit different. I doubt that I’m mellowing with age, I think I’m just tired. So let’s have a few laid back tunes.

I’ve listed to some Bryan Ferry recently after rediscovering the “Country Life” album by Roxy Music. I got an old copy on vinyl a few years ago and it is very, very cool. I know this isn’t on that album but it’s a great song.

Bryan Ferry (live 2012) – Song To The Siren  -

Ever since I saw a live Sheryl Crow DVD I’ve been a fan. Some of her album tracks are a little bland for me but in general they are a good listen. Playing live though is where she shines. 

Sheryl Crow (live 2013) – Easy -

Wynton Marsalis is an amazing musician. This isn’t the most laid back track I suppose but the smoooooth playing is worth a few minutes in your busy day.

Wynton Marsalis – Carnival of Venice (1984) -

As a result of my musical background I’ve always listened to acoustic music, folk music and some bluegrass too. A few years ago these guys appeared and they are firm favourites. Not only do they do great tongue in cheek versions of so many rocking tunes, they are great musicians.

Hayseed Dixie - War Pigs (live 2006) -

This week we'll finish with The Saw Doctors. Back in the day when Triple J radio played a wide range of good music I heard this. I've got the album somewhere on cassette. Excuse me now as I'm off to eBay to find it on CD. This is the biggest selling single in Ireland of all time if you believe the internets. Enjoy!

The Saw Doctors - I Useta Love Her (1990) -

DJ Rob

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Song of the Week #270

Hello out there all you radio fans! Radio Woozle is coming to you again from the nation’s capital via bike paths, roads, the shower and all locations in between. If thinking about music was a sport then I’d easily have my 10,000 hours in to be considered elite.

RIP Lou Reed. Another legend gone. I'll freely admit that I'm not a massive fan but his "New York" album is one that I listen to a lot. You have to hand it to Lou; he never really cared what others thought about his music and he kept churning out albums. I'm still not sold on his work with Metallica but then he made music for himself!

Lou Reed -  Dirty Boulevard (live) -

As I mentioned last week, DJ H sent me a list of 12 albums rather than 12 songs. Obviously he’s got more room in his life raft than most people but I’m sure I can play along! The sad fact is that when I had to rebuild the World Wide Woozle laptop most of my personal email files were lost and H's list was amongst those. I've been in contact with him via the rock 'n' roll grapevine and I'm sure he'll be a lot better organised than me and will resend the list.

This week my good mate DJ BluesManDubya sent me his list. To tell the full story, he did send me a list earlier but I asked him to be more ruthless and cut it down a bit. The BluesMan and I go back to 2005 when we were both new to a teaching at a school. On the first day we connected as a result of guitar playing and never looked back. I have him to thank for reminding me that Cold Chisel was a good band and should not simply be the property of beer swilling, flag wrapped bogans. He also turned me on to a whole lot of cool blues that I hadn’t paid much attention to. It was a bit like having a decent tourist roadmap where you can avoid the rubbish and the toursist hotspots to ensure you see the really cool stuff. A couple of years ago now DJ Al-ee-Sun and I went to his wedding. It was great, his wife DJ JacEe is awesome and now they have a healthy bouncing boy to keep their hands full and to indoctrinate into the world of rock ‘n’ roll. DJ BluesManDubya chose songs by artists including Cold Chisel, Don Walker, The Offspring, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Norah Jones. Here’s couple off his list that I think you’ll enjoy. 

Del Shannon – Runaway (live) –

The Descendents – Silly Girl –

Don Walker - The Good Book -

Don Walker is an interesting guy. Watch that video, perhaps listen to a few more of his tunes and then remember that he's the guy that wrote "Khe Sanh". I've seen him live here in Canberra playing with Tex Perkins and Charlie Owens (DJ BluesManDubya took me) and he's great!

I had an interesting time with a company called Wahoo Fitness over the last couple of weeks. Wahoo make products that can link your iPhone into heart rate monitors, cycle computers, home trainers and the like; it’s good gear. What they had was a product on Kickstarter that used Bluetooth to link heart rate strap, cadence sensor and other stuff straight into your iPhone. To cut a long story short, I ordered the product and after it had been funded and released I read on another website that it would only work with new iPhones. So, I emailed them and asked what they could do. Wahoo were fabulous and offered me my money back or their entire suite of gear made for my iPhone. So I’ll report back when that package arrives. It’s so refreshing to get good customer service these days!

Back to the music and one of my favourite bands, The Cult. They're an English group who morphed from goth music to a more straight ahead rock band with some goth influences. The first album I had of theirs was "Electric" which came out in 1987. It's a stripped back affair that sounds not unlike a raw AC/DC album. What I didn't know at the time was that they had made the album with one producer and not liked it. At this point they brought in Rick Rubin (you know him from production stints with Beastie Boys, Slayer and Johnny Cash). Rick threw out all their reverb processors, guitar effects and wind tunnels and made them record the album as a rock band. The results were great and it was a huge success that really made the band a big name. Fast forward to this week and I found out about the unreleased version of "Electric" which is called "Peace". The band have finally made it available and I had a listen this morning. Wow! The sound is massive and the songs still stand up. I'll be tracking down a copy on vinyl to add to my collection. For your listening pleasure here is the original and unreleased version of Love Removal Machine followed up with the version I've loved for years. Different but both pretty cool! You can hear the riffs and flourishes that they saved up from the original version in later albums like Sonic Temple.

The Cult - Love Removal Machine (Peace version) -

The Cult - Love Removal Machine (Electric version) -

In TV watching news we’ve started at the beginning with the X-Files. As soon as I can stop falling asleep at 8.45pm we might get to watch a few. The stories still stand up, the acting is good and the fashions are amusing. It does seem a little slow paced though compared to current shows. Episode 1 which is the pilot doesn't have the iconic theme music. It's amazing how many memories a TV show and its music can bring back. Listen to this and see if you're transported back in time...

The X Files Theme -

The next tune follows on from the Blues Brothers number that I played last week. I'll admit that I've had "Made In America" playing very regularly all week. I know that the songs are all cover versions but the Blues Brothers band is just on fire! This is track 2 on the album but I'll play the original version rather than Jake and Elwood. If the song was any funkier...well I just don't know how to describe what might happen. Listen carefully to the bass line and the cool guitar work.

Johnny Taylor - Who's Making Love? -

Johnny Taylor put that tune out in 1968. In 1984 we saw this next song in the movie "Purple Rain" (one that everyone should watch at least once). The musical link and influence is clear to me.

The Time - Jungle Love -

My sister in EnZed alerted me to the fact that Eminem and Rihanna had released a single. To be totally honest I'd be unlikely to listen to either of them. But, I did listen to the song. It's not bad but I don't think it's anything special. You can make up your own mind. It's called The Monster. But here's a tune that DJ MadCatLover should enjoy...

The Fauves - Dogs Are The Best People -

Halloween has been and gone. Whether or not you think it's a good thing or not I have to admit I've seen some pretty cool costumes out there. Seems like mostly harmless fun to me so I think some people need to lighten up. The recent media beat up that we shouldn't celebrate Halloween because it is an American tradition is a joke. Shall we also ignore Mothers' Day and Christmas? I'm not sure either of those originated down under. If there's a Halloween version of The Grinch then they've been out in force lately - booooo!

I'll finish with some Halloween themed songs. The first is from a rather good B-grade teen/horror/rock movie from 1986. "Trick or Treat" was a lot of fun and had a cool soundtrack. If you liked the whole "coming of age teenage angst" genre but also enjoyed films like "The Toxic Avenger" then this movie might be for you.

Fastway - Trick or Treat -

Then of course there's this classic...

Bobby Pickett and The Cryptkickers - Monster Mash -

MJ is too obvious but it's a cool clip.

Michael Jackson - Thriller -

But what would Halloween be without the Prince of Darkness himself...

Ozzy Osbourne - Bark at the Moon -

And finally, my favourite ghoulish track...

Alice Cooper - Teenage Frankenstein -

DJ Rob