Friday, February 27, 2015

Song of the Week #338

Happy 2nd Birthday for next week to DJ Duckling!

I love being sent recommendations of bands and tunes. I can assure you that if you send a track or two my way that I will take the time to listen to.

This week DJ MellowBud all the way on the other side of the world in Tennessee sent me a whole swag of links. There were so many that I threw together a quick playlist and let them just sink in over the day. The result is that I've already ordered a copy of the debut album from the band you're about to listen to. And listen you will...I implore you. This is a band I have never heard of and admit that I'm well and truly hooked. I've chosen a live track because I have a feeling that it's where St Paul & The Broken Bones will make the best impression. Let me know what you think. For the information of music tragics like me...the guitarist here was in of Jason Isbell's group The 400 Unit. He has a great sound and is playing a Reverend guitar...I've got one of those!!

St Paul & The Broken Bones - Like A Mighty River -

Stay tuned over the next few weeks for more tunes courtesy of DJ MellowBud. We seem to deal in the same kind of music...the good kind.

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds have a new LP out. I didn't mind the last effort at all. Noel has nothing to prove and I like the fact that he wears his influences on his (anorak) sleeve. This song seems like a logical extension of his work. It's modern, with a nod to the past (his included). I've got a growing list of albums to save up for and this will be included.

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - Ballad Of The Mighty I -

Remember me writing that February was a short month and I wasn't sure that I could nail 1000km on the bike. Well I made it with a day to spare. The weather has been excellent here so it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it might be. The "new" Cervelo is getting a much needed service next week. Let's see what March holds!

Hoodoo Gurus - 1000 Miles Away -

Absolutely massive news this week was my good friend DJ HB earning a new DJ moniker. She's moved on to DJ Champ. Beck won the World Championship in the 3000m Individual Pursuit on the cycling track in Paris. I don't think it gets much more awesome that that. It's been so cool to see her win celebrated online and in the media. We were fortunate enough to see her win live on TV. While she was waiting to do a radio interview DJ Champ took time out to answer the most important question...what was she listening to just prior to the race (the TV footage shows her with the headphones on deep in thought). Here's the track...

The Script - Hall of Fame -

Check out the end of the ride here:

Don't forget that the band has a gig on March 15th at 3pm...all the details are here. The show is free, the music is good and the venue promises to be very special. I hope some of you can make it. As always, loads of work goes into playing a show. We love it and hope someone will come along!

A conversation this week with DJ HammerTime reminded me how good a live band Pearl Jam are. He told a cool story about going to a show where the band were worn out from touring and a really energetic crowd picked them up. Here's a good reason to listen to more...even the really well known bands still rate a listen - ha ha!

Pearl Jam - Spin The Black Circle (live in Melbourne) -

Here's with another band from Alabama. I've got their first album on vinyl and I can't wait to hear the new one...there's something in the water down South!

Alabama Shakes - Don't Wanna Fight -

Finally, let me do public shout out to DJ Al-ee-sun. She's off to get a new knee next week. It'll be a while before she's back to doing the Tango. A couple of videos/tracks that might appeal....

Matthew Wilder - Break My Stride -

And then there's this....

See y'all later. Thanks Dad :-)


"...for a couple of bucks you get a weird haircut
and waste your life away...
...around the World or around the block,
everywhere I go the kids wanna rock!" - Bryan Adams - Kids Wanna Rock

Friday, February 20, 2015

Song of the Week #337

Welcome back friends, listeners, readers and stalkers.

To follow up briefly from last week let me point out that news in from the Van Halen camp is that Dave's vocals will not be overdubbed or cleaned up on the live recording. This could be a good or a bad thing. Also, many thanks to DJ WotsOn for letting me know that one of his friends, a member of TISM indeed passed away a few years ago; very sad. I did enjoy the line in the obituary though that Jock didn't follow football or cricket, he supported Eric Clapton!

Cream - White Room (live) -

You may or may not have head of a MOOC (massive open online course). Many universities are offering courses for anyone who'd like to sign up and study them online. For free. I decided to try one out when I realised that to study a Masters degree was going to cost a minimum of $20,000. Really I was looking for something interesting and a bit different. There's a few versions of MOOCs around and I simply looked around until I found a course that grabbed my interest. So, now I'm working my way through lectures from the University of North Carolina about the music, stories and art of the USA's southern states. It's pretty good so far. The lecturer (Bill Ferris) has had people such as BB King come and present to his real world (as opposed to online) students; wow!

BB King - How Blue Can You Get? -

New music (well new to me at least) is Black Joe Lewis. Joe is from Austin, Texas and plays energetic rock music heavily influenced by garage punk, blues and Motown. I saw him play a couple of songs on a TV show this week and decided to investigate further. It was very worthwhile. Sometimes he gets a little bit shouty for my liking but it's a tiny little criticism. Check him out...

Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears - Sugarfoot -

Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters) can't seem take a trick. I was a bit dismayed to see criticism of him being made Record Store Day Ambassador because he is a white male. Wow, I just thought he was a rock star. I agree that when you look at the list of past ambassadors then there is a definite trend towards white males but that's not the end of the world. Dave rocks hard, is passionate about his music and is seen playing with anyone and everyone. He's a great ambassador for rock music regardless of his genetic makeup.I agree that they could share the job around a bit better but I think Dave is a solid choice. Bear in mind that I am NOT a Foo Fighters fan.

Dave Grohl and John Fogerty - Fortunate Son (live) -

Sad news today from Iron Maiden with it being revealed that singer, Bruce Dickinson, will undergo treatment for cancer on his tongue. Ouch. Fingers crossed for a speedy recovery. Who could be a stand in do you think if they needed one for a while? Not Dave Grohl, he's too busy. Not Jack Black, he's too busy pretending to be Ronnie James Dio! I know that DJ DucklingsDad would suggest John Bush...and I'd back him on that one. John sings again with Armored Saint after the band went on hiatus during his time with Anthrax.

Armored Saint - Aftermath -

Most people have songs from their teenage years that mean a lot to them. I may have more than most but that's just the way my mind works! In 1988 I bought a copy (on vinyl) of an EP that Metallica released. It was billed as being them recording some songs in a garage. That's mostly true. What was unexpected is that the record would become a classic and the vinyl version a collectors item. I still have my copy and listening to it this week took me back to some good memories. At the time I bought it I knew none of the songs and it didn't really matter. I'm not sure in 1988 that I realised they were are cover versions! DJ DJ has the very collectible CD version. It was re-released with the Garage Inc. album but there are some rather obvious glitches in the songs so that you can tell you're not listening to the original.

Metallica - The $5.98 EP Garage Days Re-Revisited (the full EP) -

You don't need to be a genius to work out why this song gets an airing this week. But in case you haven't been paying attention, it's the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima. This song is about one of the men who was there. Johnny Cash's voice and delivery just cut you to the quick in this track.

Johnny Cash - The Ballad of Ira Hayes -

Finally, some rap. I was listening to some mash-ups recently and this band featured heavily. Even if rap or hip-hop isn't your thing the energy and all around awesomeness of Run DMC is hard to deny.

Run DMC - It's Like That -

That's it for this week.


"...if it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all..." Born Under A Bad Sign, Albert King, 1967.
PS: I always preferred this version.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Song of the Week #336

I was tempted to write something about the Grammy Awards this week. On reflection, however, I won't bother. There's nothing worth talking about other than perhaps AC/DC opening the evening. Even then they were rather pedestrian. Maybe they were underwhelmed by the whole thing too.

During the week I watched the second "Hunger Games" film. I'd read the book a while ago but not seen this. Look, it's not high drama or a screen epic but it's a good movie. It's derivative (Running Man meets Survivor meets teen angst) but not in a bad way. And whilst it lacks pretty much any kind of originality I found it enjoyable. Donald Sutherland is well cast as the evil dictator. Woody Harrelson, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Stanley Tucci also put in memorable performances even if Woody's character is too clean cut in the movie as opposed to the books. Extra points if anyone picks the actor in the movie who also appeared in "So I Married An Axe Murderer"...well played DJ Al-ee-sun!

Interesting rock and roll news is that Van Halen are going to release a live album. It'll be their first one ever with David Lee Roth. There's one with Sammy Hagar as well as a live concert movie. I'm worried folks. Watching bits and pieces of live footage from recent tours it's fairly obvious that Diamond Dave's vocals are ragged at best. He spends so much time being a showman that he rarely sings a whole line. Of course, there's always the overdub route. Watch out at the end of March for the release.

Van Halen - And The Cradle Will Rock -

Steve Earle has a new album in the can and ready for release ("Terraplane" on 17 Feb). There are a couple of songs on official pre-release and it's sounding good so far. 

Steve Earle - The Usual Time -

Music can be uncomfortable. At this point I'm not referring to that genre you don't like but the lyrics. Songwriters, well good ones at least, often lay their souls bare or explore issues we'd rather not think about. Sometimes it works and sometimes it sounds trite and fake. Gangster rap works both ways. Years ago I did some research that involved listening to a fair bit of this music and examining lyrics. For me there turned out to be two quite obvious camps. First we have the clones who want to tell you how much money, women, guns and homeboys they have. That gets old really, really quickly and whilst I understand why they do it, it's boring. Much more interesting is the harder edged social commentary. Whether you or I agree with the lyrical content is a moot point here. It's another form of protest music. I guess the most famous track here would be Public Enemy's "911's a joke". You don't need a degree to work out what they are rapping about or why. At the time I was listening to artists such as NWA, Ice-T and others an album was released that really got my attention. "Body Count" came out in 1992 and featured vocals and lyrics by Ice-T with a hard rock band backing him. Looking back I'm saddened to read that three of the original members are deceased (two from cancer and one in a shooting). The album is raw, aggresive and takes no prisoners. It also rocks in the best possible way. You may or may not agree with Ice-T's lyrics and message but making up your own mind is part of what I'm writing this for. Open your ears and your minds folks. 

There's a strong language warning on this track.

Body Count - Body Count -

It would be remiss of me not to pass some kind of comment this week about Eurovision. More specifically Australia and Eurovision. Apparently we're European now, at least for a year. Given that there hasn't been a decent winner since ABBA (1974) it behooves us as nation to send our very, very best to show Europe how it's done. Here's my shortlist. 

AC/DC; why not? They're Australian and they rock. Kylie Minogue; probably more Eurovision style and likely to garner votes from the British countries at least. TISM; no longer active but a reunion for the contest would be a real treat. If Lordi can win because they are outrageous then TISM have it in the bag. Most likely though we'll get some Top 40 wannabe - I hope not. No-one is to tell John Farnham.

TISM - He'll Never Be An Old Man River -

You all know by now that I love a good cover version. Even more fun is discovering the original version I've never heard. This is a cracker whether it's these guys, Bowie or The Merseys.

The McCoys - Sorrow -

Here's another. 80s pop music fans may have been fooled by The Communards, but....

The Blue Notes - Don't Leave Me This Way -

Being a fairly simple, straight ahead rock guitarist I have trouble counting in a rhythm that isn't based on four beats. I can do three if I think of school dancing class and the waltz but the other time signatures do my head in and I get flashbacks to the horrible PE uniform. Accordingly this great version of a Stones classic has me very confused. 

Devo - Satisfaction -

All the best to DJ HB over there in Paris representing Australia at the World Track Cycling Champs. You go girl!

Judas Priest - Freewheel Burning -

That'll do. Stay tuned next week for a gig announcement...the final details are just being bashed into place.


"But you know it ain't all about wealth.
As long as you make a note yourself" - NWA, Express Yourself (1988)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Dear President Obama...

Dear Barack,

Rob here all the way around the world in Australia. You remember us? You cancelled a couple of visits.

At the Grammy awards you reminded musicians that they have power to increase awareness about a range of issues. Hats off to you for promoting an end to violence against women and girls, I couldn't agree more.

In a country where there is significant poverty the money spent on Presidential campaigns is nothing short of obscene. That's money that your country could make a lot better use of. Some of it could even be used to work on the problem of domestic violence.

Here's a song for you.

Bad Religion - Punk Rock Song -

Resepctfully yours,


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Crazy Train book review

A quick review. Joel McIver's book "Crazy Train: The High Life and Tragic Death of Randy Rhoads" is a pretty good read for guitar fans.

I ordered my copy via The Book Suppository when I couldn't find it in a couple of book shops here. As always, it arrived quickly.

The book makes a good fist of chronicling Randy's life as well as giving a decent insight into the other personalities at play in Ozzy's revolving door band.

I enjoyed the fact that there was a decent amount of technical information about his playing as well as his gear. Probably nothing that isn't out in internet-land if you spend some time searching but to have it all compiled and well curated is worth the price of the book alone.

It's obvious that Randy was a genuinely gentle soul who just lived and breathed music. His quiet nature seems almost the yin to Ozzy's yang.

There is no doubting the influence of Randy Rhoads on modern hard rock and metal guitarists. It's just such a shame that he only managed two albums with Ozzy before his untimely death and that he wasn't really happy with either.

If you're interested in the development of rock guitar or just an Ozzy fan then this book is for you.

Ozzy Osbourne - Crazy Train (live) -

Ozzy Osbourne - Over The Mountain -

Quiet Riot - Slick Black Cadillac -

Randy Rhoads - Dee (studio outtakes) -

Rock on Brothers and Sisters,


Friday, February 6, 2015

Song of the Week #335

Lately I've had a bit of a crisis of faith in terms of this weekly blog thing that I write. I was concerned that my musical choices had become a bit limited and the conversation rather stale. You may or may not agree.

I do most of my thinking when I'm riding my bike and this week was no different. Although this has been an easy phase in terms of cycling distance the slightly extended commute still gives me plenty of time to ponder. I even took the cruiser to work on Monday and Tuesday; that was a lot of fun (note to self: plan cycling so that you can ride your motorbike sometimes).

The result of my reflection, navel gazing and sweating on the issues is that I think I'll write a bit more. Not necessarily in this weekly entry, but on and off when something interests me. More often than not it's going to be a song that pops into my head that can't wait until Friday. I'll also limit my soapbox moments about anything and everything to there as well. The blog is always open for comment at so I'll just use it more. I like writing, I like sharing and I like comments! You can 'follow' the blog if you have an insatiable desire to be notified when I post something. Or not.

As for the musical spread. If you don't like rock, metal, blues, folk, country or a touch of jazz, rap, techno, prog or classical then this isn't the blog for you. I think it's wide ranging enough. Hey, at least I've stopped playing Billy Bragg and/or Steve Earle every week!

After last week's entry I bought a physical copy of Justin Townes Earle's album "Absent Fathers". I like it a lot. His voice isn't all that different to the early releases by his Dad maybe with a bit of Neil Young mixed in. I'm encouraged to go back and listen to some earlier albums of his that I have. Simple instrumentation and heartfelt vocals are a winner here. Definitely one for fans of Steve Earle, Mia Dyson, Gillian Welch and probably any Americana/alt-country stuff. What's alt-country I hear you's the indie-rock version of country music. The cliched "my wife ran off with the dog and the washing machine repair man" lyric and sound isn't there.It's more earthy and real-world I guess.

Justin Townes Earle - Round The Bend -

After years of resistance we have finally caved in and subscribed to pay TV. Overseas readers should realise that market penetration of what you might call "cable TV" is fairly limited down here. Most of that is due to the price. But with the major player in the market slashing their cost by 50% to compete with online offerings as well as me hanging out for a free installation deal it was affordable. The truth is that we got it for the sport. If I could've paid for ONLY the sports channels I would have been happy with that. As it stands the only other things I've watched is an old episode of Father Ted (what a hoot!), the cycling from Dubai and a whole lot of music television. Here's a clip that I'm not sure I'd ever seen before. DJ Al-ee-sun and I were laughing for ages. Can I get one of those pink Dean guitars?

John Cougar - Hurts So Good -

Last year when the band went up north I made some good friends. DJ Terrific was one; she looked after all of us so well. In a week or so I felt like I'd known her forever! The wonderful thing about the internet is that friendships are easy to keep going. She's even dialled into a couple of band rehearsals to see where we are up to on some tunes. So I asked her if she'd like to make a request for this week...the word has come through for something happy. Fair enough. Here we go...for everyone who needs a feel-good song today...

Kermit The Frog / Debbie Harry - The Rainbow Connection -

If the Muppets can't make you smile you need help.

Just back to the music television for a minute. Last night I saw clips from ABBA as well as Robert Palmer. Both featured dodgy looking blokes and gorgeous women. Probably the blokes still look the same in clips today but I bet none of those naturally beautiful women would get a look in. It's such a shame that we have to digitally and cosmetically manipulate women for them to appear in the media. Real people look good too and beauty is far more than skin deep.

ABBA - Mamma Mia -

Later on in the year we're heading to the Hunter Valley to see Choirboys, The Angels, Cheap Trick and Billy Idol. How's that for a flashback! Billy I can take or leave really but I just checked and Steve Stevens is still playing guitar for him. Steve is an awesome player and showman. That'll make Billy's sneer and limited vocal talents a lot more bearable. You can guarantee that I'll be fist pumping and sporting a huge grin when he plays White Wedding or Rebel Yell though - cheesy is OK by me.

Steve Stevens - Atomic Playboys -

Cheap Trick - Out In The Street -

The Angels - Fashion & Fame -

Choirboys - James Dale -

Band rehearsals for the "Southeastern" shows continued this week. With Drummer Joel unavailable due to being a very busy boy we've drafted in someone else to pound the tubs. We had our first hit out with Hayden on Tuesday evening. There's something ultra cool about his small Gretsch kit but even cooler is the way he plays. It was very much like slipping into an old pair of comfy boots for us. Playing with Hayden is going to be a real treat. It won't be long before we get out there and play "Southeastern". It is literally one of the best albums from front to back that I've ever heard. If you're thinking of coming then you can rely on the fact that we're awesome and you like new music or you could have a sneaky listen to the original. Go on, you know you want to!

Jason Isbell - Stockholm (live and solo) - 

The best singers (and guitarists) not only have technical skill and an innate 'feel' for their craft but a sense of individualism. For example, there's never any doubt when it's Mark Knopfler playing the guitar. He could be bashing away on a cheap acoustic to a heavy metal melody and he still sounds like Mark Knopfler. Sting has an instantly recognisable voice but also a pattern of note selection when singing that is all his own. Today I listened to tracks from the latest album by Icelandic songstress Bjork. I've never been a huge fan of her kooky brand of music but there's no doubt that she's fabulously talented. There's a delicacy and strength in this track that also highlights her particular favourite vocal style and range. Someone who knows more about music theory can probably tell me the correct term for what I'm trying to describe. If it was a blues guitarist I might say that they regularly use a particular version of a pentatonic scale or something like that. But I could be wrong!

Bjork - Stonemilker -

Long time readers will be aware that I have a couple of friends who died well before their time. It's funny how they creep into my thoughts every now and then. It's certainly not in the gut-wrenching way that it used to occur thankfully. These days it's a line from an email or a comment that I remember fondly. Not long before he died, my mate Garry went to the Royal Albert Hall in the UK to see Tom Petty play. I remember waking up to quite a few excited emails and texts that he'd sent during the gig. It was probably the last time he was happy before he passed away. I remembered his happiness at just how good the show was and on hearing Tom play this week I thought that at least Garry's last live show was a cracker.

Tom Petty - Jammin' Me -

Finally, it's here...Zoe leaves on Monday morning at some ungodly hour. I've been OK with the whole thing (usually) up until now but today I'm a bit blue. Going to miss my girl. I know she sometimes reads this so I won't be too soppy I promise! As I've said, I'm so proud of her that I could burst. Let's leave it at that safe in the knowledge that she's been counting down until this moment and I'll be counting down until she comes back (even if it is only for a few days). 

Rod Stewart - Forever Young -

That's it. Watch the blog for more.


"I believe, If you give
A little bit of love to those you live with
A little bit of love...
Has gotta come your way." - Little Bit of Love, Free (1972)