Saturday, January 31, 2015

Song of the Week #334

Music means different things to everyone. Some people seem content to have mindless commercial radio playing in the background whilst others insist that only "credible" artists are worth their time. I think I'm in the middle somewhere. There's no doubt that I am passionate about what I choose to listen to but then I'm not overly discriminating. I can find merit and/or enjoyment in most recorded material. I also think that we're spoiled for choice. As a kid living in the country the radio had a very narrow focus. It wasn't until I discovered a community FM station and shortwave broadcasters that I heard much more than the same old playlists over and over. Of course we didn't have the internet bombarding us with new tunes every day. We relied on someone lending us an LP or taping a few songs for us. Today I can press a button and have a couple of albums downloaded instantly. I can click through the tracks if I don't instantly enjoy them. With tapes, LPs and the radio you were forced to listen longer. Limited finances and access to music meant that I knew my collection and every song in it back to front. For younger listeners today the experience is totally different. Not worse or better, just different.

I read in Keith Richards' book about him using a letterbox style record player for 45s in a car. Now THAT'S one way to mix it up. I wondered to myself, why doesn't the record just jump all over the place? YouTube to the rescue. Check this out!

Courtney Barnett has released her debut album. We saw her play last year supporting Billy Bragg. Personally I thought that her songs were quirky in a good way with unexpectedly personal lyrics. She makes a great racket on a guitar as well. I was appearing on video I'd have clean fingernails though. One live clip she has really turns my stomach!

Courtney Barnett - Pedestrian At Best -

Justin Townes Earle has a new album out as well. It's called "Absent Fathers".Last year he released one entitled "Single Mothers". Next year we can probably expect "Grandmas who bring up kids". Anyway, he's not a bad songwriter and always worth a listen. A quick read of his bio will reveal to you the fact that he has a heap of interesting life experiences to draw on. From being hooked on drugs at 12, playing and being kicked out of his Dad's band, to thirteen stints in rehab and now finally being sober. The album is a good mix of quiet songs, folky moments and bluesy tunes.

Justin Townes Earle - Round The Bend -

I've listened to a lot of Pink Floyd this week (thanks to my music pusher-man H). Floyd fans are a funny bunch. I think it really depends upon when you started listening to them as to your take on the band. My first album was the 1988 double LP "Delicate Sound of Thunder". As a result I'm pretty much at home with the much derided material that comes after that. Even "Dark Side of the Moon", a recognised classic, doesn't do that much for me. I like the big stadium rock Floyd sound on this live album. So sue me!

Pink Floyd - Learning To Fly (live) -

I haven't written too much about cycling lately. I've just been racking up the kilometres getting to and from work the long way. With a few longer rides thrown in, some rain and a lot of wind I found myself with one day left in the month. I also found myself reasonably close to my all time monthly record of 1289km. So, this morning I loaded up on breakfast and headed out for the 87km I needed to break that mark. My legs were tired, my mind wandered and I had to make sure I didn't ride anywhere near our house during the effort or I'm sure I would've given up. Madness prevailed and I made it. Ouch. That's a record that'll stand for a while. At least a month anyway as February is short!

Psychotherapy - The Ramones -

Yesterday, in a search for music to make me feel good I cued up Thin Lizzy's "Live and Dangerous". The swagger, twin guitar leads and vocal delivery never fail to get my toes tapping and my head nodding. Every time I listen to Thin Lizzy I like them even more. You should too.

Thin Lizzy - Are You Ready? (live) -

Thin Lizzy - Don't Believe A Word (live) -

No-one came to the party with an answer to last week's quiz question. The answer was that all the guitar players were playing V shaped guitars. You might see me playing one too in the near future. V's are fun to play and always guaranteed to turn a few heads!

Right then, almost at the end. As our political system descends into chaos and mayhem I watch in abject misery as we're forced to vote for the least worst candidate. It's just a joke folks. We need an alternative. A "common sense" party rather than the current mob of self serving egomaniacs.

Redgum - The Long Run -

Keep the faith brothers and sisters,


"I just wanna know, which way do I go to get to your America..." - Living Colour, Which Way To America (1988)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Song of the Week #333

As a kid I remember listening to Casey Kasem's "American Top 40" once in a while. It usually only happened when atmospheric conditions meant that I could pick up a station that was broadcasting his show. It wasn't so much about the music because, let's face it, in the 80s the Top 40 sucked in a major way. The show was all about Casey's voice. As a wannabe radio announcer I always thought he sounded cool. But it wasn't until I read an obituary for Casey this week (he died in June 2014) that I realised that he was also the voice of Shaggy on the Scooby Doo cartoons! 

MxPx - Scooby Doo Theme -

Zakk Wylde was Ozzy's guitar player for a number of years. These days he's out front of a very loud rock band called Black Label Society. For some reason I listened to some BLS a few years ago and instantly discounted it. This week I decided to revisit some of his tunes after seeing a snippet of a live show and also reading that Zakk will be releasing his own brand of guitars and amplifiers. What I found was music so much better than I remembered. There's some stupidly cliched stuff in older live shows but recently it looks like Zakk is just rocking out. I would say that if you like the band Alice in Chains or Jerry Cantrell's live stuff then BLS is for you. If you prefer a more "Southern" approach to your music then make sure you check out Zakk's first album, "Pride and Glory" from 1994; a good mix of banjos and loud guitars!

Black Label Society - Fire It Up -

During the week I listened as Double J played their first hour from 1975. This was part of the radio station's 40th anniversary. You can see the playlist for that hour here. It was a lot of fun and the song selection was first class. I think I'll play a couple. You have to remember that Double J played tunes that no-one else was airing on the radio and they continue to do so whether it's in the guise of the national youth station Triple J or the new one for us older fans of good music Double J. Here's two songs from that hour...

Skyhooks - You Just Like Me Coz I'm Good In Bed -

Paul McCartney & Wings - Junior's Farm -

Students of the public holiday calendar will realise that this is the Australia Day long weekend. One of my favourite photos shared on Facebook this week included the tag line, "Australia Day, not racist prick day." In my opinion, anyone is welcome, just leave your prejudice, intolerance and hatred at the door.

Warumpi Band - My Island Home -

This is a short episode...let me finish with a few songs. Let's see if anyone can spot the link...and it isn't because they are all live versions...

Michael Schenker - Rock Bottom (live) -

Albert King - Blues Power (live) -

Jet - Cold Hard Bitch (live) -

Rock on brothers and sisters,

Rob...make sure you click the link might end up with a big smile!

"Marconi plays the mamba, listen to the radio, don't you remember
We built this city, we built this city on rock an' roll" - We Built This City - Starship

Monday, January 19, 2015

Double J radio turns 40

On this day in 1975, Double J radio began. Over the years it morphed into Triple J and there is now a Double J on digital as well.

This morning they re-broadcast their first's the playlist...not bad! I'll add YouTube links later on.


You Just Like Me Coz I'm Good In Bed - Skyhooks
Sympathy for the Devil - Rolling Stones
Junior's Farm - Wings
Long Tall Glasses - Leo Sayer
All I Want To Do Is Rock - Mighty Kong
Rock and Roll Doctor - Little Feat
Dazed and Confused - Led Zeppelin
Stormbringer - Deep Purple
Rocksteady - Bad Company
Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds - Elton John
I Just Wanna Make Love To You - Foghat
Hernando's Hideaway - Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band
I'm A Woman - Maria Muldaur

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Song of the Week #332

This week it's a guitar fest on the World Wide Woozle. Some you may have heard before but I'll try to mix it up. Playing to a diverse audience, I always attempt to have a tune for everyone.

I've been reading Keith Richards' autobiography (you remember him right...from The Rolling Stones). It's not a bad read and Keith tells his story with a lot of humour and honesty as well. At the moment I'm still stuck in the early 60's with the Stones cutting their teeth covering American rock 'n' roll and blues. Reading about Keith and Mick's love for the music is a real treat as there's no doubt despite their rise to mega-fame, that they are fans. I could easily construct an essential listening episode just from the names that Keith drops. One of the guitar tunes that he made a name playing is this one...Keith goes into detail about learning the licks and how he still can't quite get it right!

Elvis Presley - I'm Right, You're Left, She's Gone -

Keith talks a lot about his influences and most of them are fairly obvious. He says that he has a notebook with "Chuck, Reed, Diddley" written in it. Chuck and Bo I know but I didn't know Jimmy Reed at all until now. Shame on me!

Jimmy Reed - Aw Shucks, Hush Your Mouth -

Tom Paxton is an American Folk Music icon. At age 77 he's just announced that he's giving up touring. Given that his music has been part of my life forever I'm rather hoping that he'll make it to Australia this year as he winds it up. I haven't seen him play live and I'd really like to. Years ago I copped a fair bit of abuse for singing this song in was worth it. You can relate the lyrics to any war you care to. 

Tom Paxton - Lyndon Johnson Told The Nation -

As an aside, there's a movement here in Australia to get Taylor Swift into the Triple J Hottest 100. Triple J is the national youth radio station. Personally I think it's a hoot and more power to all the TSwizzle fans. Triple J and its offshoot Double J may not appeal to one and all but they remain a great service in terms of promoting Australian music as well as anything that the commercial stations won't touch. How many other countries have a national, ad-free radio station playing a really wide range of tunes?

As for Taylor...try this track. Full of 80s goodness and today's production values. I love the cheesy drum machine and the lyric "I'm a nightmare dressed like a daydream".

Taylor Swift - Blank Space -

I really need to finish Keith Richards' book quick smart as the new biography of Randy Rhoads is en route via the Book Suppository. He's my favourite metal guitarist because he plays with fluidity, style and works within the song rather than over the top of it. Randy was a guy that could play vicious riffs, searing solos and then delicate, classically tinged pieces.

Ozzy Osbourne - Over The Mountain -

Cinderella were a mid 80s / early 90s hair metal band from Philadelphia. I guess they got their initial image cues from bands like Motley Crue. For the casual listener they are a solid and good fun metal band, But take a chance and delve a little deeper and there is some fantastic bluesy, country styled stuff to enjoy. These days their singer, Tom Keifer, is still plugging away. Last year sometime I got a copy of his solo album, "The Way Life Goes". It's fantastic. Tom's voice is great and he is a brilliant guitar picker. I'm bringing this episode full circle now as I imagine his influences aren't that different from Keith Richards'. Blues baby, blues. Try this track...

Tom Keifer - The Flower Song -

And for those who remember Cinderella, or need an introduction, here are two very different songs...

Cinderella - Shake Me (1986) -

Cinderella - Dead Man's Road (1990) -

It seems like the right time for some Joan Jett. Kim Fowley, original manager of The Runaways died this week. By all accounts he wasn't a very nice man but without him there'd be no Joan (or Lita Ford either of course).

Joan Jett - Cherry Bomb (live) -

Punk-pop faves of mine, The Dollyrots, have some fairly obvious Runaways / Joan Jett influences. They also used to be on Joan's "Blackheart Records" label.

The Dollyrots - Because I'm Awesome -

Enough already I hear you cry! Well this is the end anyway. Thanks for tuning in.

Rock on brothers and sisters,


" long as I've got rock 'n' roll, I'm forever young..." Cinderella, One For Rock 'n' Roll (1990)

Friday, January 9, 2015

Song of the Week #331

Hello there listeners, and a special shout out to those of you who are back at work this week. This is the first time since 2001 that I've been back at work this early (not a teacher anymore) and it's a bit odd. The long Summer holiday is the only thing I've missed so far.


In exactly one month from today Zoe will be winging her way to Vanuatu. She's got her village and school assigned as well as the buddy she'll go with. It's all VERY exciting and she'll be gone before we know it. I reckon it's a great way to leave home and infinitely more appealing than what I did at 17 which was joining the Army! Lots of people have asked when Zoe will be back and the truth is that we don't really know. We might see her in 6 months before she heads to the UK and Europe but we might not. She tells me that the Post Office is 9 hours away in Vanuatu. That's a long way to go for  stamp.


Joe Cocker – The Letter -

Rehearsals started this week for the band's next show. Coming up soon we'll be playing Jason Isbell's album "Southeastern" from start to finish. We need a drummer though so if you're in Canberra and keen to help out for a bit just drop me a line. Playing what are mainly acoustic songs is a great change up from the Oz Rock of the NYE show. We're also working on a setlist for two shows in May at Vivaldi's as well as working up some of H's original tunes to record. Watch this space as we'll have some more intimate lounge room, bookshop and café shows in the near future.


Motley Crue – Rock 'n' Roll Junkie -


A few years ago I read MOJO magazine almost religiously. It had (and still has) a good range of music reviews and articles and always comes with a cool sampler CD of new or re-imagined tunes. After a while I drifted away from the mad but sometime in 2014 I picked a copy up that had "The Best of Third Man Records" as the free CD. It sort of sat around for a while unplayed until fairly recently. Wow! Third Man is owned by Jack White (White Stripes) and publishes music mainly on vinyl. The majority of the content is bluesy, rootsy rock and roll and it sounds great. There are 14 tracks and I've found them all worth more than a few listens. Here's the one I liked the most...

The Raconteurs – Broken Boy Soldier –


This week I was turned onto a website/app called "Pocket" ( Essentially you can use Pocket like a scrapbook where you save online articles and posts to read later at your leisure. So, if someone sends you a link, or you see a story you want to read later you just "pocket" it. Given that I forget more stuff that I want to read than I ever remember it's a cool little programme. So far I have articles about Robert Plant, Learning Styles, The Clash, future of mobile phones and Rush saved in there to read late. Oh, you can then read the articles offline; that's cool.


I've written too many times about religious intolerance. It sucks. Seriously, if you think that pleasing your God means that you have to shoot people then I suggest that your spin on things is a little out of whack. Also, just because you might live somewhere that guarantees you freedom of expression doesn't mean that you need to be an arse about it.


Discharge - Free Speech For The Dumb -


In really cool news Jesus Jones are coming to Australia in March. I saw them here in Canberra at the ANU in 1991 (I think it was '91). At the time I just went because I thought it might be interesting; I knew nothing of the band. Well, I loved the show, the album and I wore the t-shirt until it was threadbare! Sadly they aren't coming to the national capital this time around but I'm still hoping to see them. For 90s Australian music fans; the support acts in 1991 were Caligula and The Pheromones.


Jesus Jones - Real, Real, Real -


I enjoyed the "outrage" from various keyboard commandos regarding Kanye West fans being unaware of who Paul McCartney is. For all you Beatles/Wings/McCartney fans just name three Kanye West songs…yeah, I thought not. If kids don't know who Paul McCartney is, or Buddy Holly, Del Shannon, Janis Joplin or Joan Jett then is it their fault? Step up parents.


Kanye West – Can't Tell Me Nothing -


Wings – Band On The Run -


H has convinced me that I should give the latest Robert Plant album a try. The reviews (which I have 'pocketed' for later) are pretty good. My personal opinion is that Mr Plant has more than paid his dues and can play and sing what he likes. But don't expect me to listen to monotonous wailing over a Moroccan backing track as, for me, it gets old very, very quickly. I don't want him to re-hash Led Zep (as Jimmy Page does) but I do want to hear him sing rather than chant. I always liked the lighter Led Zep stuff. It's my folk music heritage rearing its head…


Led Zeppelin – The Battle of Evermore (live unplugged) -


The final song this week is from Black Sabbath. The only reason I'm playing it is that I've had the riff in my head all week and I just can't shift it. This is probably my favourite song by Osborne, Iommi, Ward and Butler. The driving rhythm is relentless, the guitar is heavy without being sludgy and Ozzy is on song (ha ha).


Black Sabbath – Children of the Grave –


That's it folks, I've got a weekend of music, guitars and family coming up; that'll do me just fine.




"We can take our thoughts
So many ways
If your thoughts are different
Well, I think that's okay" – John Mellencamp, Freedom of Speech (2014)

Friday, January 2, 2015

Song of the Week #330

Happy New Year listeners and thanks for tuning in.

The band's NYE show was a lot of fun as well as being the first time I've been awake for the new year for quite a while! We had a full house of enthusiastic (mostly) punters who ate, drank, sang and danced the night away. Our three sets were 100% Australian music and chosen to make sure that people would know the tunes and that everyone would like something. Any hiccups were very minor and certainly didn't detract from the show. Hats off to the whole group for putting on a great show. My apologies to one and all for mixing up my Angels songs...oops!

The Angels - Take A Long Line -

For all you listeners overseas who like good rock and roll then click on the above link. The Angels were contemporaries of great Aussie bands such as AC/DC, Cold Chisel and Rose Tattoo. That song also has a really easy guitar solo which was fun for me!

Since we're on the Oz Rock bandwagon for a moment it seems remiss not to play this next song. I know that Crowded House are as much a New Zealand band as they are Australian but I'm happy to share. We played this song on Wednesday night and it was probably my favourite other than Midnight Oil's "Hercules". I remember when the gig that the next clip was from was televised nationally. I recorded it on VHS and watched it over and over!

Crowded House - Mean To Me (live 1996) -

The last thing I'll say about our show was that it marked the debut of a new(ish) guitar and amp combination for me. Regular readers will be aware of my frustration at getting the guitar sound in my head to come out of my gear. Well folks, it's taken many years of searching but sonic nirvana has been realised. I played my 1991 Fender Stratocaster Plus Deluxe model pretty much all night through a Jet City 20 watt valve amp. Only the really hard rockers needed a switch to the Gibson Les Paul. It really is amazing how much better I think I play, or how much better it feels at least, when you think you sound OK! There are a few guitarists who I base my sounds's one...

Spy Vs Spy - Clarity of Mind -

Today I spent some time cleaning up and reorganising the back of the garage where all my guitar gear lives. Being able to head out there, plug in and bash out a few tunes is a great tonic for "what ails you"! I also too the opportunity to listen to some Johnny Cash. The Man in Black has a gazillion albums and compilations and it's all good. Today's album of choice was "Orange Blossom Special" . It's Johnny's 21st album and was released in 1965. On the cover JC is pictured sitting on top of a railway carriage. Given that I'm reading about Woody Guthrie and Jack Kerouac the image of Johnny on the train fitted in nicely!

Johnny Cash - All God's Children Ain't Free -

I heard this next song when I obtained a recording of the Belle & Sebastian Xmas Peel Sessions set. It's by James Brown and I'm going to hit you with the original because it's super-fab and groovy. I like the message too. 

James Brown - Santa Claus, Go Straight To The Ghetto -

The fact that seven pasty Glaswegians covered that song just shows the universal appeal of a good James Brown groove.

It's 37 days now until Zoe heads off to Vanuatu for 6 months and it's feeling pretty real for all of us. She's been busy buying appropriate clothes and collecting yam recipes as that's the staple food! It's very hard to put into words how I feel about Zoe flying off into the distance. I'm so proud of what she's achieved and what she's going to do but I'm a sad Dad too.

Lenny Kravitz - Flowers for Zoe -

An album I've been revisiting recently is Stevie Ray Vaughan's 1989 release, "In Step". When I was a teenage metal-head another guitar player insisted that I try this album and I'm glad I did. Interestingly enough, if you believe what you read, this was the first album SRV recorded when he was clean and sober. I just love ther guitar tone on this next track and I've chosen a live version for you because watching Stevie play is as much a treat as listening.

Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble - Love Me Darlin' (live) -

H turned me onto the next band by pushing a live acoustic recording my way. I'm still to explore their plugged in stuff but the live set, recorded at the Ryman, is just sublime. This next track is recorded live by KEXP radio and it's beautiful heartache in a song.

Band of Horses - No-one's Gonna Love You -

I don't like New Year's resolutions. If you need to lose weight, gain weight, do exercise, work harder, work less, give to charity or whatever then just get on with it. What I'm getting on with is listening to more music I haven't heard before. Here's a probably fits nicely after Band of Horses but is a bit more psychedelic in a good way.

Cursive - The Recluse -

There you have it folks, the first episode for 2015. I hope you found something worth listening to. If you didn't then you are hard to please and need to send me something to try out.


"Nothing changes...." New Year's Day - U2