Saturday, June 28, 2014

Song of the Week #304

Some of you may have taken the absence of my golden tones on the internet this week as a sign that I'm washed up. The truth is that I've been busy. I've been getting the Ugandan Navy into shape.** Anyway, I'm here now so on with the show.

I was in Brisbane this week for a meeting. The day went like this; wait for a plane, fly to Brisbane, wait for the meeting (at the airport), attend the meeting, wait for a plane and then fly home. Sanity was maintained with some tunes from Russell Morris as well as by watching some of the latest INXS biopic on the plane. Sadly the plane back home to Canberra was the budget model with no screen! And if you thought flying into Wellington airport in NZ (which is built on a windswept isthmus) was diabolical then Canberra topped it. Wow. The two women sitting next to me talking about barfing on planes really didn't help me much on the white knuckle descent.

Motorhead - Going To Brazil -

Speaking of Brazil; there's a small football tournament going on there at the moment I hear. I was watching bits and pieces but when Greece advanced to the next round as the result of an obvious dive I really lost interest. Diving is for goalkeepers and swimming pools.

DJ DJ sent me a link to the next band. Depending on who you believe they are the saviours of rock music or just another Led Zep ripoff. I like to make up my own mind. After all, I'm happy to listen to a mix tape with Kylie, Slayer and Billy Bragg on it. So I listened. And I'm still listening. The Led Zep influence is obvious but it's not just a ripoff. If you like classic bluesy rock then this is worth a click.

Rival Sons - Open My Eyes -

Well it's just 12 days now until the band hits the road. Make sure you check out our Facebook presence here. Although I've been practicing the songs for the tour I think I'd like to play this at least once. It doesn't matter that it's American.

Taj Mahal - Six Days On The Road -

I know that there are a thousand different versions of that song including really good ones by Steve Earle and George Thorogood but Taj really gets my toes tapping.

I read this morning that Eric Clapton is giving up touring. I guess that at age 69 with a hugely successful career he can do what he likes. I must say that what I like about Eric more recently is watching him play with other guitar players. He genuinely knows when to step back and when to turn up. In 2010 he put out an album with BB King (thanks Dad!) and it is just sublime. If you're not a guitar head like me then when you listen to this track the snappy guitar is Eric and more muffled lead sound is BB. Great track. And yes, I know it's a John Hiatt tune.

Eric Clapton and BB King - Riding With The King -

To finish off this week a couple of INXS tracks. You can argue all you like about whether or not they are the biggest Australian band of all time but there is no denying that they were fantastic. 

INXS - Don't Change -

INXS - Need You Tonight (live) -

That's all folks!

DJ Rob

"Who am I?
Where am I?
And why do I feel this way" - Jesus Jones (1991)

** paraphrased from John Bird as Idi Amin. You may find this amusing but only if you know something about the former African dictator.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Song of the Week #303

For the last couple of weeks I've been playing a few guitar solos over and over (and over). The band has added a set of Oz rock classics to its repertoire and we're working hard learning them. For some reason I can't explain I learned one song in the wrong key. And for a particularly easy song I really butchered it when I was made aware of my error. Needless to say I've ripped through it a number of times with the right start note to make sure I have it sorted out. One of the solos I get to play is pretty simple but it sounds excellent. Also there's some cool harmonics and incidental bits to keep things interesting. Probably a song I would never have considered playing but it really works (there's a good pun).

Noiseworks - Touch - 

There's a lot to be said for a video clip with a roaring fire in the background. It worked a treat for Barnesy in my opinion!

Jimmy Barnes - Working Class Man -

DJ K-Star made me listen to this next band - he was fairly insistent! It's great no nonsense rock and roll and the perfect antidote for a blue mood. The guitar sound in the opening riff is pretty much what I've been working towards and what the new MESA amp delivers to perfection. A well focused drive with bottom end and no fizz.

Thunder - Amy's On The Run -

You know, I've sat through four seasons of the TV show "The Walking Dead" trying to work out who the character Michonne reminded me of. Finally, this week it hit me...

Tracy Chapman - Talkin' Bout A Revolution -

This week I read the there are to be even more Beatles re-releases. You could be forgiven for seeing this as a cash grab aimed at Beatles fans with more money than sense...and I wouldn't blame you. But consider that the albums in question (9 original albums plus some compilations) have been reproduced with only analog technology and are presented on vinyl in the way that arguably The Beatles wanted them heard back in the day. I baulked at the remastered CDs (stereo and/or mono) a few years ago but these releases, coming in September, are much more interesting. This next song will be included as it was on their last mono LP. And I'll be seeing this version up close and personal thanks to DJ Chief in just over a month!

Chris Cheney - While My Guitar Gently Weeps -

It's been a very rock 'n' roll show so far. I can fix that. See what you think of this hauntingly beautiful tune...

Clannad - Theme From Harry's Game -

Last weekend H and I played some songs at a party. As usual, it was a riot with songs coming thick and fast in a range of mystery keys. I kept up almost all of the time. Someone yelled out that they wanted us to play a Charley Pride song. They didn't quite get their request but given that I only know one of his songs and H knew none that wasn't a shock. This is the one I know and I've loved it for years and years. It was a big AM radio hit in NZ when I was a kid. It's a real toe tapper.

Charley Pride - Mountain of Love -

If you're in Canberra then you may have read that the Australian National University's School of Music want to allow a local pub to relocate inside their premises. A pub in a university? Who woulda thunk it?! Anyway, it's caused a bit of a ruckus. But here's my outside looking in opinion for what it's worth. The number of people I know who enjoy classical music, are not music teachers, and are younger than me is about zero. If a pub, and it's not your sticky carpet VB, Cold Chisel type of establishment, attracts a few people and they end up being exposed to some new music then how can that be a bad thing? Imagine if the, how can I put this, "older" patrons of the concert series got to enjoy a range of locally produced beverages rather than the standard chardonnay. Wow, something new for everyone. Even as a non-drinker I like the idea. People might even talk to each other.

Bad News - Drink Till I Die - (listen for the Brian May guitar line, you can't miss it)

A while ago I played a tune by the Supersuckers. It was far from serious but the lack of comments received made me think that either no-one listened to it, was offended, or had made it that far in the episode. So, if you're paying attention then this is seriously funny. From the man that brought us "Don Henley Must Die" and "I Wanna Ride In A Bigfoot Truck"...

Mojo Nixon - Debbie Gibson Is Pregnant With My Two Headed Love Child -

Well that's it for this week Nothing much happened around here other than us buying a new house.

DJ Rob

"Everybody needs a little place they can hide
Somewhere to call their own
Don't let nobody inside
Every now and then we all need to let go
For some it's a doctor, for me it's rock and roll" - Cinderella - Shelter Me (1990)

PS: If anyone can pick the link between The Angels and While My Guitar Gently Weeps I'll be seriously impressed.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Song of the Week #302

Author's note - this entry is about version 5. I wrote quite a few rather boring and uninspired slabs of text before settling on this. That's why it's late, and for some of you, no longer Friday the 13th!

<cue spooky music, maybe the Twilight Zone or X-Files theme tunes>
It's Friday the 13th! Is there a better way to celebrate nonsensical superstitious claptrap than with some carefully chosen tunes?

It would be so easy just to play a whole episode of early Black Sabbath but that's too easy and predictable. Try this version of one of their classics - well worth a listen in my opinion.

White Zombie - Children of the Grave -

The whole album that the previous track comes from is great if you're a fan of Sabbath or heavy tunes. Ugly Kid Joe put in a stellar version of N.I.B. Thanks to DJ Evil Rob all those years ago for slipping me a copy.

And now for something completely different...

The Psychedelic Furs - Ghost -

I think I hear elements of the melody of that song in much of Ron Sexsmith's work. I wonder if they are an influence of his?

When I was in a band with DJ SAB he made me listen to a lot of cool stuff. Concrete Blonde were one band he like a fair bit. I soon realised that there was more to them than "Joey" This track has a great swirly guitar sound.

Concrete Blonde - Bloodletting -

That's enough Friday the 13th stuff.

Last week the death of Doc Neeson was a very sad moment. This week we bow our heads in memory of Masters Apprentice's legendary frontman Jim Keays.

The Masters Apprentices - Because I Love You -

Earlier I mentioned Ron Sexsmith. And a few weeks ago you might remember that I'd been out to see Dragon play. Well I was quite shocked when they covered one of Ron's tunes as well as having a whole swag of his stuff playing through the PA between sets. Whilst Dragon played "Gold In Them Hills" I've chosen something different as I've played that one in the past.

Ron Sexsmith - Words We Never Use -

Earlier in the year you may remember that I replaced my much loved Marshall guitar amplifier with something different from MESA/Boogie. I'd been playing the old one for nearly 14 years. In the last month I admitted to myself that the new MESA really wasn't up to much. For a clean sound it was great but for the classic rock sound I wanted it wasn't there. Matt from Better Music who took it upon himself to solve my problem described the sound as messy. He was right. So, after trying 6 new amplifiers and having one on loan for a few days I have a replacement. It's a very different MESA called a Lonestar. It's much more classic fat rock and roll in character. And it will have wheels as it weighs a metric ton! I shall call it, "FAT BASTARD". I'm now broke but hey, it's only money. Huge thanks to Matt for his patience, advice and in the end, a good deal.

Spinal Tap (Nigel Tufnel) - These Amps go to 11 -

Time for one more song? OK then. For a few weeks now I've been listening to more and more classic ZZ Top. As much as for the tasty guitar tones as anything else. Even when ZZ Top dabbled in synthesized beats and backing the guitars and vibe were uber cool. None of their music is complicated or challenging but that's the point.

ZZ Top - Waitin' For The Bus / Jesus Just Left Chicago -

ZZ Top - My Head's In Mississippi -

ZZ Top - I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide -

Football time. Come on Australia!

DJ Rob

"Don't waste your time always searching for those wasted years" - Iron Maiden, Wasted Years, 1986 (try this version)

Friday, June 6, 2014

Song of the Week #301

After scoring the triple century, raising my metaphorical bat and kissing the Australian Coat of Arms on my hat it's time to take a new guard, adjust the box and soldier on. All that I don't even like cricket that much!

Last weekend I wrote a review of the movie "Sunshine on Leith". Click here if you want to read it.

It's the Queen's Birthday long weekend here. I'm not a fan of the monarchy and all it stands for but a day off is a bit of a welcome relief. Time to ride my bike in the sunshine, play my guitar and maybe spend some time with the family if any of us are actually at home at the same time. I've played this next song before but it's worth a second airing for the video clip alone!

Motorhead - God Save The Queen -

I heard this week that John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) had been cast as King Herod in a stage version of Jesus Christ Superstar. Sadly the whole tour has been cancelled without explanation. Whilst discussing this with DJ McG he pointed out that Lydon's recorded works are so much more than the Sex Pistols. He's right of course so listen to this...

Public Image Limited - Rise -

H has steadily been attempting to get me to worship at the altar of all things Bob Mould. He took me along to an awesome live show and then casually passed some albums my way. Until this week I've liked his stuff but not loved it. This next track is just fantastic though. There's less fuzz, less pop punk and more moody moments. It's almost like Bob doing a song by The Cult and you should listen to it now.

Bob Mould - Poison Years -

I've agonised about whether I should play this song or not. The subject matter is deeply personal for a great many people and that includes some who I know read my ramblings. But it's such a well written and delivered tune that I'm taking the plunge. Rarely does a song evoke such an emotional response with me that shivers run down my spine. Although this CD had been playing in the car for a while I hadn't tuned in to the lyrics. In my opinion it's one of the angriest and saddest songs I've ever heard. It's a beautiful song, angry doesn't mean I'm going all heavy metal with you. Give it a chance. Oh, and if you're listening with children in the room be aware that the "F" bomb is dropped near the start of the song. It made me wince but I'm sure it's meant to.

Jason Isbell - Elephant -

I like songs with a story. Steve Earle writes them, so does Billy Bragg. I was in a coffee shop with DJ Al-ee-Sun last weekend when a guy started playing this one. He did a good job. This version has Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings & Johnny Cash singing. The instrumentation is just a little bit too slick for me but it's still fantastic. The link is for a whole concert but the first tune is the one I'm recommending.

The Highwaymen - Highwayman -

Here's a bit of a flashback. This band played in Melbourne when I was in High School and I remember a couple of friends telling me how blown away they had been by the live show. Great track.

Eurythmics - Would I Lie To You (live 1987 Sydney) -

I guess in rock music terms everything this week faded into the background when it was announced that Doc Neeson from The Angels had died. I was fortunate enough to have seen him play live. There's no doubting the fact that Doc and his band are absolute legends. There's not much I can write that hasn't already be said. This is a huge loss so I'll just list a few tracks for you to listen to. RIP Doc.

The Angels - Marseilles (live) -

The Angels - After The Rain (live) -

The Angels - Dogs Are Talking (live) -

If you haven't seen the episode of ABC TV's Australian Story that profiles Doc then seek it out. It's on iView and probably on the YouTubes as well. It aired not that long ago.

As more than one person has said of Doc, I guess we're never going to see his face again. Sad.

DJ Rob

"I'm the one who knows what scares you,
I'm the one that loves you best,
I'm the thirteenth at the table,
I'm the uninvited guest..." - Marillion, The Uninvited Guest, 1989

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Review: Sunshine on Leith - the movie

Before I begin let's put a few facts on the table.

1. I think The Proclaimers are a fantastic band. I have many of their
albums and listen to them a lot. 2001s "Persevere" is a particular
favourite. If you've only heard them singing about walking a long way
then look further afield.

2. My parents are Scots. My brother and I were born there. I think it's
fair to say that we are all proud of our heritage.

3. I was very, very much looking forward to this film.

4. "Sunshine on Leith" is doing quite well here in cinemas.

5. If you're going to watch the film consider that what I'm about to
write may contain spoilers.

Where should I begin? The movie makes Edinburgh look fantastic. Too many
people think of Scotland as being dark, grey and dreary all the time.
While the producers may have had to wait a while for a sunny day they
certainly got some cracking weather to show off the city. As a visual
spectacle the film is a triumph. Watch it and you want to visit.

There's a cameo from Craig & Charlie Reid (The Proclaimers) at the start
which is funny. Check out some more recent footage of the band on
YouTube sometime - it looks to me like Craig (the twin who doesn't play
the guitar) moves more and more like Joe Cocker every day!

The opening scene inside the Army vehicle is very well done. While it
was predictable I thought it set the film up to be excellent. on.

The story: it's superficial, often depressing and what seem to be
significant parts are introduced and then not

The singing: if I was casting a movie where all the main characters have
to sing then I think the ability to put in a solid vocal performance
would be on my list of must-haves. They can all sing in tune...but
there's very little quality or depth in any of them. Let me clarify, I
certainly did not expect the cast to sound like The Proclaimers, just to
have good voices.

Reality: it's all rather airbrushed. We meet two ex-soldiers returning
from war as main characters. Not a swear word to be heard. No smoking.
Even the scenes in the bars (filmed in two Glasgow pubs) are sterile. I
didn't expect it to be like a scene from Taggart but it's a bit too
light and fluffy for me.

I was surprised to read that there is very, very little of Leith in the

The soundtrack: delivered without conviction. "Letter from America"
could've been a huge moment in the film but it was so lacking in emotion
that I nearly stopped watching.

To sum up then; if you want a very light, fluffy cinema experience with
some average singing then you should go. If you want to see how truly
beautiful parts of Edinburgh are then you should go. If you were
expecting a good story with awesome versions of some classic Proclaimers
tunes then you may be disappointed.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the translation from stage to screen
for this production hasn't really worked.

That's just my 2c of course. Feel free to disagree, politely.