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)

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