Saturday, August 30, 2014

Song of the Week #313

Reissues aren't particularly unusual these days. Once in a while they are even worth buying. But too often it just seems to be a case of "pump up the bass and overall volume and the punters will buy anything".

MARRS - Pump Up The Volume -

Then there's the conundrum that faces me quite regularly. How many versions of an album do I really need? If it was good the first time around then is an "upgrade" really necessary. And is it really an upgrade?

Some re-issue packages are lovingly packaged with a million extra versions of songs including demos, live versions and alternate takes. For the true fan that can be a lot of fun and can justify some of the price hikes. But the same album, with no extras with a digital remaster isn't really that exciting I don't think. As DJ Guz pointed out via an article he sent me, 70's recording engineers DID know what they were doing and the bands generally had to approve the mix prior to release. So if you're listening on vinyl why bother? I can understand that early CD releases weren't great in terms of quality but even then, for most people listening in the car, on headphones or their home theatre system they will hear precious little difference.

I hear you asking yourself, "what got him started on re-issues again?" Well, it's Iron Maiden. They are a great band that I love but they are huge fans of a re-release. The latest offering (coming in October) are vinyl re-issues of their 80's catalogue. We're talking about 8 albums and 19 7" singles. That's a lot. All on heavyweight 180g black vinyl and re-cut from the original analogue master tapes.

I have these albums. All on CD, some on tape, some on vinyl too. And in the case of some I have alternate vinyl versions too. So am I excited about this release? Yes, and I am a SUCKER. I won't buy the singles, even though the artwork makes it almost worth it, but if they've done a good job of transferring from master to vinyl then there's a couple I'm keen on. But wait, there's an impressive box to put them all in...oh dear, there goes my money!

Iron Maiden - The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner -

J Mascis released a solo album four days ago. Whether it's in the shops here yet remains to be seen. He has a seriously credible resume from being in Dinosaur Jr and this solo album seems to have polarised reviewers and listeners alike. The few tracks I've heard are really very good I think. J has a particular vocal sound that you're going to like or not (it reminds me of Cobain in quiet moments). If you're thinking that you like the overdriven whoosh guitar sounds of Dinosaur Jr then this might not be for you as it's mainly acoustic stuff. But I thought it sounded really fresh, light and very listenable. I'll buy it.

J Mascis - Wide Awake -

Staying with the acoustic theme for a minute, this is a very recent release as well. I'll be seriously impressed if anyone out there can let me know who did this song originally (without using a search engine or phoning a friend!) - any takers? This version is just stellar. The real accent, the relaxed instrumentation and just the groove.

Robyn Hitchcock - The Ghost In You -

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers have a new album, "Hypnotic Eye". My few spins of this LP indicate that, like all Tom's stuff, that you get quality, radio friendly rock full of hooks and a hint of glitter. "Forgotten Man" opens with a wonderfully shimmering electric guitar and whilst it doesn't sound particularly different to anything else he's put out the toe tapping and head nodding are almost impossible to avoid.

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Forgotten Man -

That's enough for another week. I've got a bike to ride. And a new one on order! Woo hoo!

DJ Rob

"...I'm on the hard grind..." - Rhinobucket (1994)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Song of the Week #312

This week the World Wide Woozle is coming to you live and not so exclusive from Surfers Paradise.  It's a paradise if you like rain. Foolishly I thought I could get all this done on the iPad without trialling it at home. Bear with me.

H sent me a link to an article about whether or not albums are dead. The upshot of that quick read was that the jury is out. In my opinion singles and compilation albums are a quick fix, a sugar hit, something without any lasting effect. Albums are something to immerse yourself in and to give time to grow. Singles and compiles are the equivalent of 20/20 cricket. The crowd loves it, TV adores it and people have a good time. But, the players (musicians) tolerate it and it has no real credibility or lasting effect. Singles are for the jukebox and maybe your workout iPod playlist but albums have substance. Well that's my opinion.

What I'll do this week is play 5 tracks from albums that I think are worthy of your listening time...start to finish, over and over. By the way, these don't have to be thematic long players rather a solid group of cohesive tracks.

First is Queensrÿche's "Operation : Mindcrime". This one does have a story all the way but other than that it is musically and lyrically strong and frankly it sounds great. Metal's magnum opus?

Queensrÿche' - I don't believe in love -

Staying with harder rock I really can't go past Ozzy's "Blizzard of Ozz". The full review I mentioned last week is still coming but the LP has fantastic guitar work and Ozzy singing up an energetic storm. No filler on this one.

Ozzy Osbourne - Steal Away The Night -

Jason Isbell is my new favourite songwriter. You may have noticed. His recent album "Southeastern" has catchy tunes with unexpectedly deep lyrical content and, my favourite, tasty guitars! The album works really well from front to back and I never want to skip a track or to press stop! It's one I'll be getting on vinyl.

Jason Isbell - Flying Over Water -

This may shock you if you're new to my ramblings but I'm a Kylie fan. Her "Impossible Princess" album sealed it for me. Sure she has some very, very catchy tunes but this record with its rock and pop sensibilities is a real treat.

Kylie - Some Kind Of Bliss -

Finally something a little older.  The artists originally known as Tom and Jerry had some great LPs but this one, which my parents had and I taped more than once, is brilliant. The voices, the clarity of sound and yeah, the songs. "Sounds of Silence" was their second LP.

Simon and Garfunkel  - I Am A Rock -

Sorry this is a bit brief. Next time I'll use a real keyboard. D'oh!

DJ Rob

"...another gig my ears bleed..."  - Motörhead - We Are The Road Crew -

Friday, August 15, 2014

Song of the Week #311

Well; as of a couple of hours ago I'm officially "between jobs"! I cycled down the hill away from work this afternoon looking forward to a new challenge but knowing that there are a lot of people I'll miss. I will admit that I won't regret not having to make the climb UP the hill to work each morning. No matter which way you go there's always a climb to Grammar!

Alice Cooper - School's Out (live 2014) -

I've got a few days before I start in my new job. I've been jokingly telling people that those days are for the "three c's"; cycling, coffee and corporate wardrobe. That's not far wrong. The weather looks like it might be against me in terms of getting a lot of kilometres in but we'll see...

The Kinks - Dedicated Follower Of Fashion -

Black Flag - Black Coffee -

I should have time to make serious inroads into replacing my bike as well. All I can say is watch this space!

Pink Floyd - Money -

Not much more to say this week as I must admit I'm a bit wiped out.

Here's three songs to listen to. They are all different and speak to me in different ways. Let me know sometime what you think.

Green Day - She's A Rebel -

Ike & Tina Turner - Baby Get It On -

The Pogues - Sally MacLennane -

Have a good weekend and cross your fingers that someone buys our house!

Oh, and look out on the blog during the week for a track by track commentary of one of my favourite albums of all time, "Blizzard of Ozz".

DJ Rob

"...when you really need it the most,
rock 'n' roll dreams come true..." - Jim Steinman

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Song of the Week #310

Tingha was cold but Canberra outdid itself this week with our coldest week in years. Being the stubborn cyclist that I am, I rode my bike to work all week. The coldest apparent temperature was -11 degrees. Brrrrrrrrrr! Fortunately I'll be spending a few days at the Gold Coast for work in a couple of weeks so I may thaw out at some point.

Simon & Garfunkel - A Hazy Shade of Winter -

On Thursday night DJ Al-knee-Sun and I ventured out to the wilds of the location referred to by DJ AB as "Wodor". We braved sub-zero temperatures and every Canberran with a dodgy knee, hip or sporting a walking stick to go and see Russell Morris play. Russell has been around for a very long time. I've been spinning his latest album "Van Diemen's Land" for quite a while and really I think it's worth 5 stars out of 5. That's high praise but it is truly a great listen. All of the songs have stories behind them and the musicians are tip top. But on to the gig review....

The room was large and sterile. The room was cold. The support act was, well, how can I put it? He needed work. It is possible these days to tune your guitar without the audience hearing it. I've no doubt that he could play and he could sing but doing both at once was a struggle for some reason. The sound guy also did him no favours with a harsh, tinny guitar sound.  Fortunately Russell (who looks amazingly fit and healthy for a  man well into his 60's) and his band were absolutely fantastic. They played plenty of songs from his latest two albums as well as delving back into his stuff from the 60's onwards. Russell himself played one of the small body Maton acoustic guitars which I've had my eye on for a while. The only downside was the horrendous buzzing, hum and interference from his guitar player. Seriously, if I was a professional musician I think I'd get that sorted out. If you get a chance to see Russell then grab it with both hands and take a friend. It was $37 very, very well spent.

Russell Morris & Melinda Schneider - Hush - 

Russell Morris - Dexter's Big Tin Can -

Righto, this is a bit of an interesting song. I've heard it playing twice on the radio in the car. Fortunately with digital radio the artist and song name come up on the screen. This is important as Double J seem to never have any announcers. That's not a problem in itself unless you want to know who's singing. The lack of inane radio banter is a joy to behold. But I digress. This song reminded me of another which I'll play in a minute. Regardless, I thought it was worth a second or third listen.

Jessica Lea Mayfield - I Wanna Love You -

The swirly guitars and the melody in that tune soon had me singing this in my head...

Blue Oyster Cult - Don't Fear The Reaper -

I forgot to add this earlier but it still fits here. Russell Morris ended his show with what he said would be the song to break him overseas...we waited in suspense and then laughed long and loud as his band ripped through this one...

The Beatles - Please Please Me -

Yeah, yeah, yeah, so everyone's heard it a million times. But what I found whilst looking for a good mono version to share with you all was tons of slightly obsessive conversations about different versions, mixes and recording sessions. And then an argument about why Lennon didn't play the harmonica live. It was a hoot.

Some songs (and bands) manage to sit in a groove which has me nodding my head and sitting hear with the headphones on sporting a huge cheesy grin. ZZ Top are one of those bands. This version of one of their classics is even better here as it is slightly slower than normal and has more guitars (and no synth). Pretty cool indeed.

Billy Gibbons and Daryl Hall - Sharp Dressed Man (live) -

That's from a show called "Daryl's House". Of course it's not on TV here but I'm sure I can locate bits and pieces via the internets.

My Mum is on holiday in Europe and the UK. She recently send me a pic of a newsletter from a small church in the Cotswolds where Robert Plant had shown up to play a charity gig. Here's some press coverage. This coincided interestingly enough with me spending some time listening to a fair bit of Led Zep. Their remasters got me interested and although I haven't purchased any (yet) I've been giving their earlier 4 disc set some regular air time.

Led Zeppelin - Nobody's Fault But Mine -

I'll wrap up now as the sun is out and as usual, I've probably said too much one week. It's always difficult to choose a tune to sign off with so I'll choose two instead. One I play a lot and I hope someone has listened to the whole thing (including thr 6m30s intro) and will understand why I choose it on such a regular basis. The other is just an energetic blast of rock.

Steve Earle - Jerusalem -

Dave Grohl and Paul McCartney's band - Band On The Run (live) -

Anyone want to buy our house?

DJ Rob

"Won't need no shadow man
Runnin' the government
Won't need no stinkin' WAR" - Neil Young, After The Garden

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Song of the Week #309

It's Sunday morning as I'm typing this. Yesterday was a whirlwind of inspiration and music. But at the moment I'm tired and worn out. 

Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson - Sunday Morning Coming Down -

Saturday saw the band playing the closing set at the Dirrum Dirrum conference here in Canberra. Earlier in the day George, Matt and I had been fortunate enough to share with the attendees a little about what our tour in particular as well as the work H does in Northern NSW means to us. The whole band played probably our most energetic set ever later that night and it was loads of fun. We had a very supportive and enthusiastic crowd made up of people of all ages. Many thanks to Rich and the Dirrum Dirrum team for having us along. And a special shout out to our sound and keyboards guru, DJ Guz, who worked hard all night helping the students with their sound requirements.

Simon & Garfunkel - The Sound of Silence -

That song was chosen carefully for Tim. He understands what the spaces between sounds are for and that's unusual in a sound guy.

Loads of people spoke at the conference about "being the change". There were global entrepreneurs, artists, thinkers, students, educators and of course musicians. What I took away from listening and participating was that I would much rather listen to people talking about the people they are helping than themselves. The speakers I admired the most were those standing for those who have no voice otherwise. Matt Pye from Crossing The Divide in Bundarra and Michael Weir from Queanbeyan really resonated with me as they are working in their own backyards. There is so much need in our own country even if it isn't as "glamorous" as volunteering in far flung locations all over the world. I agree that charity should begin at home but I think that we need to remember that for many people overseas that they don't have anyone locally to help them. The balance between addressing poverty and injustice and our country and helping overseas is a delicate one. Cutting the overseas aid budget and drowning Aussies in red tape to secure funding is not the answer.

Steve Earle - The Revolution Starts Now -

For a while now I've been enjoying the "gloom-pop" of English artist Laura Kidd. She goes by the name of She Makes War. It's moody, melodic, layered and fantastic. At the moment Laura is looking for support to fund her third full length album. I'll be kicking in a few dollars and if you like her music you should too. So many artists are using this method to get their music heard. Just because a record company isn't interested or because the artist wants to maintain creative control doesn't mean they are no good. Check out her Pledge Music page here and get involved:

She Makes War - Slow Puncture -

Once in a while I still hear something good on the radio. Sadly this doesn't happen nearly as often as I'd like. I don't think I'm more discerning than in the past, I blame the playlist managers. Even Double J is fairly average. But I digress! I heard this track from a band I know nothing about and it pressed all my buttons at the time. They seem to be referred to as "doom-metal" and I can hear why from the minor feel of the music. But whatever, I just liked it and I'll seek out more of their stuff.

Pallbearer - The Ghost I Used To Be -

If you're in a poppy, grungy, head nodding mood then you should be listening to The Pixies. This is their latest track and I think it's rather tasty. Ripping guitars, a good beat and energetic vocals. 

The Pixies - Blue Eyed Hexe -

I had a very sad moment on Friday morning. After having my rear bike wheel trued (it was a little bent out of shape after an altercation with a pothole) I went to put it back on my trusty Cervelo. And the rear derailleur just came off in my hand. After swear words and yes, I'll admit it, tears of frustration, I rode my mountain bike to work instead. Happily the best bike shop in the universe (Monkey Wrench at Hackett) have done repairs to get me back on the road. But the thing is that I probably need to admit that the bike is almost at the end. So much of it is worn out including bits of the frame. You have to understand that it's the only expensive bike I've ever had and I think it's a thing of speed and beauty. I've had it since the start of 2008 so it really owes me nothing but it's like an extension of my body these days. Maybe it would make a nice art installation in my studio one day in the future! I guess I'll need to start looking for a new ride.

Queen - You're My Best Friend -

Back to the band for a minute. When I was thinking about what to say at the conference yesterday I reflected on my Australian musical influences. Midnight Oil weren't the quintessential Aussie band for me growing up. I wasn't of the age to be interested in their political views until "Blue Sky Mining" was released really. Redgum were the sound of my Australia. Their lyrics were closer to my experience of growing up in the country and of the people there.

Redgum - The Long Run (live) -

Redgum - Friday Night -

Redgum - Where Ya Gonna Run To? -

Keep the faith Australia....

DJ Rob

"On the road again -
Just can't wait to get on the road again.
The life I love is making music with my friends" - Willie Nelson -