Saturday, November 28, 2015

Song of the Week #379

A short episode this week. You'll survive. Some of you may even thank me for the lack of waffling.

The gig last Sunday was great; many thanks to all that came along to listen. It's an intimate venue and to debut four original songs was good fun. You can check out "Near Myall Creek" on the band's Facebook page here.

In other news, and the reason that I've not written this earlier, I received a promotion at work. That's pretty exciting given that I only started there in September. It's going to be a busy job with quite a few challenges. Good! I was glad to make it to home time on Friday though....just!

Faith No More - Falling to Pieces -

The cyclone surviving, Bislama messenging, Granny visiting, Euro-traveller will be home very late on Monday night. Not long now folks! It's better than Christmas.

Simon & Garfunkel - Homeward Bound -

In order to clear my head I had a rather long ride this morning. It lasted into the afternoon! 126km is my longest ride since December 2010 when I competed at Ironman Western Australia. And it felt good! There's usually a point nearing 100km where I've had enough but today it didn't happen and I just rolled on. My plan is to do a 180km ride before the end of the year for no reason other than I can.

The Living End - Roll On -

On Wednesday I had the good fortune to be invited to a guitar session as part of my work. Sitting with some Veterans playing folk songs was a lot of fun and a bit of a humbling experience. Hopefully I'll be invited back.

Emmylou Harris - Wayfaring Stranger -

The other thing of note that happened this week was our 22nd wedding anniversary. I'm a lucky man. I've now been married to Alison for exactly half my life.

The Proclaimers - Let's Get Married (live 2015) -

Rock on Brothers and Sisters,


"This is my music,
it makes me proud,
these are my people
and this is my crowd" - Crazy Nights, KISS, 1987.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Song of the Week #378

It's been very much a rock and roll've been warned.

Before I get right into it however, if you're in Canberra and at a loose end on Sunday then come along and see me playing the guitar whilst the rest of the band do their level best to drown out my mistakes! Ha ha! We're playing at 5pm at Beyond Q in Curtin. You'll hear Isbell's Southeastern played by us from cover to cover and then a few originals which will be recorded in 2016. It's free...please come. Sometimes at gigs we pass the hat around and the money goes to a charity. Any money that comes my way will go straight to helping out in Vanuatu. We play because we like to...helping people out is an added bonus.

Jason Isbell - Flying Over Water (live) -

Recently I sold one of my guitars. After four different Gibsons I think I should get the message that they just don't agree with me. It's like a battle to play them whereas my Fender and Burns are like old armchairs! I took the money and purchased an acoustic guitar. I've wanted one that I could plug in for gigs for a long time and taking the ancient Eko that I have always worries me; it's a great guitar but best played at home these days. I always play the first bit of the verse from this song when I try out acoustic guitars...nice ringing chords.

That's Bruce Kulick on lead guitar with KISS. Tommy Thayer does a great job these days but Bruce really knew how to shred as well. Check out the Crazy Nights album sometime for excellent guitar work...and dubious lyrical content!

I have no idea what the next band are singing about but I'll find out later. They are from Argentina and are called Eruca Sativa. Musically they remind me very much of Skunk Anansie. It's energetic, relentless and sounds pretty angry. The stabby guitar sounds towards the start are what drew me in initially.

Eruca Sativa - Fuera o Más Allá -

It's been a very long time since I played any music from Roky Erickson. I really liked his album that included random beeping and white noise...he said he included it because after electro-shock therapy it's what he hears in his head.

Roky Erickson - Two Headed Dog -

Rock and roll is as much a state of mind as a musical genre. Take this next tune for example. Other than the fact I thought Russell Morris was back with more great roots music, it's toe tapping and a lot of fun. It might be a little too country for some of you but rock music doesn't have to be all black t-shirts and electric guitars...

Drake White - It Feels Good -

It turns out that Russell DOES have a new album...another one to add to the list for a listen!

Russell Morris - The Lonesome Road -

I'll finish on a sad note. Chris Paine who played for the fantastic Australian band Killing Time died last week. I was fortunate enough to see the band play a few times before it went pear shaped and they were no more. If you like psychedelic rock with attitude then give me a shout and I'll point you at some of their good stuff. Killing Time changed their name to Mantissa to avoid legal issues in the USA. It's the same band.

Mantissa - Dream Alone -

Mantissa - Mary Mary -

That's it...Zoë's home in a few days but I really haven't started a countdown....really I haven't!


"...I don't remember being taught how to hate in Sunday School..." - Jerusalem, Steve Earle, 2002

Friday, November 13, 2015

Song of the Week #374

A sad note to begin this week's episode; former Motorhead drummer Phil "Philthy" Taylor passed away yesterday at only 61 years of age. Philthy was in the classic lineup with Lemmy and "Fast" Eddie Clarke who recorded classic albums such as "Ace of Spades", "Overkill", "Bomber" as well as the seminal live LP, "No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith". I was fortunate enough to see Philthy in action at the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney in 1991. DJ DJ was there with me and the next day we were almost thrown out of a guitar shop for turning an amp up far too loud to test what would become my new guitar. Motorhead had made us deaf! RIP Philthy.

Motorhead - Bomber (live Hammersmith) -

Strangely enough I have been watching the biopic "Lemmy" this week. You may have guessed that it's all about Lemmy...if not, wake up! It's not a bad film with some interesting bits and pieces but unless you're a Motorhead fan or into hard rock it probably isn't for you. Australian readers - it's on ABC iView.

Hawkwind - Silver Machine -

I haven't listened to any Queen for ages. I like them a lot but perhaps I overdosed a few years ago. Nevertheless, I heard this live concert (Budapest 1986) for the first time this week and it's great. The footage I've seen on the 'net shows the band in full flight and the sound and mix are well put together. This song includes one of the best rock guitar riffs ever written.

Queen - Now I'm Here (live) -

As you all know, Vanuatu is a huge part of our family's life these days. We've achieved a lot since the cyclone to assist people there. We've spent all the money we had from donations (and more) now on a number of things that have already been shipped or paid for. At the moment we have a huge stack of school supplies ready to ship out. If you've got a few dollars that you could spare to help us supply Level School then please let me know...anything will help! Since Zoe and I returned from Vanuatu we've managed to help with sports uniforms, books, money to install power in classrooms, a video camera and now school supplies. It's work that we'll keep doing and Zoe and I plan to be back in Pentecost in the middle of next year. I will admit that sometimes it is very hard not to be able to do more for such wonderful, kind and caring people.

Ziggy Marley - Love Is My Religion -

Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top has a new album. It's his debut solo outing and he's 65; not a bad effort! Blues fans will like some of it but there's definite reggae and African beat influences in there as well. "Perfectamundo" is well worth your time.

Billy Gibbons - Quiero Mas Dinero -

DJ SlimChicken asked me this week what I thought of the band Pantera. I am NOT a fan by any stretch. I saw them live years ago and they really, really, really sucked. But I'm open minded and DJ SlimChicken very rarely recommends anything bad so I cued up their well known album from 1990, "Cowboys from Hell". Guess's not half bad. I'm yet to move onto their subsequent albums but it doesn't matter; this one rocks! I was also surprised by how much vocalist Phil Anselmo sounds like Skid Row's Sebastian Bach in places! 

Pantera - Cowboys From Hell -

Cover version time....this is a pretty good cover of a Kylie classic by Tame Impala. Other than the spacy, ethereal quality of this version which really appeals, check out the guitar player's TWO pedal boards...that's give me an idea!

Tame Impala - Confide In Me -

A while ago I mentioned ELO's new album. Here's the single from it that was released a couple of weeks ago. There's no doubt that Jeff Lynne is a Beatles fan but this is a good listen.

ELO - When I Was A Boy -

I know nothing about Mark Kozelek except that he plays good music and that it's strangely compelling. One for listeners who like moody, acoustic stuff, Bonnie Prince Billy, Wilco and the like.

Mark Kozelek - Down In The Willow Garden -

Let's go out with a bang. Tom Waits' music is quiet, raucous, smooth, harsh, violent, drunk, mellow and just about everything else. Whilst his voice is an acquired taste, it's worth the effort.

Tom Waits - God's Away On Business -

That's it. Hug'll do you good.


"I got the shakes in my kneebone...", Johnny Kidd & The Pirates, Shakin' All Over, 1960.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Song of the Week #373

First up this week are my thoughts on the AC/DC show that Angus and I went to see last night at Sydney Olympic Park. I need to preface my comments by saying that all in all, it was a great show. They played all the songs you'd expect, brought the whole stage show and worked the crowd into a frenzy. AC/DC are a class act, they know how to entertain and they most certainly give each performance their all.

When it comes to live shows I'm picky about a couple of things. Firstly; is the band actually interested in being there? AC/DC had no problems in that area. Secondly; can they play their songs live? Again, a tick in the box. Thirdly: does the sound crew know what they're doing? Herein lies the problem 50,000 fans faced last average mix at best. This has nothing to do with the fact that Brian Johnson's voice is spent, we knew that before we went. The crowd sings all the words anyway. My problem is a sound crew taking a legendary band with quality equipment and making them sound dreadful. Both Angus and Stevie's guitars were almost unbearably harsh for the first three or four songs. Brian's vocals went from inaudible to loud and then back again. Was Cliff playing the bass? And there is much more to a drumkit than a kick drum and cymbals....where was the snare? I understand that this was an outdoor venue but this isn't your local pub rock band with a hired PA system. This is one of the biggest rock bands in the World. Perhaps it's time to engage a sound engineer who actually has some of the high range of his hearing left to ensure that we get a balanced mix. Volume doesn't make up for a bad mix. That was the only really bad point and it did improve slightly as the gig wore on.

I've loved AC/DC since I was about 15 and I always will. When Malcolm Young had to retire due to ill health it was a kick in the guts for the band and all of their fans. Seeing Stevie Young (nephew of Angus and Malcolm) playing Malcolm's original Gretsch guitar last night was a fitting tribute to the man. I'm unsure if he's playing it all tour or if it's just a special thing for Sydney since Mal lives here but it was a nice touch.

Sometimes the simplest songs say it all...

AC/DC - High Voltage (live) -

After watching the show I have my doubts that AC/DC will tour again. None of them are young men and it isn't as if they just pop out for a few gigs. This is a nine month tour. It's been a long way to the top. I think that their latest album, "Rock or Bust", is the best they've done in years so do we dare hope for another?

Let's move on.

As the band I play in moves towards playing some more original music we have the chance to be a lot more choosy about the covers we play - there will be fewer! If you're interested in hearing us try out some of George's tunes we'll give them a public airing at Beyond Q on November 22nd. We'll also run through Isbell's "Southeastern" album again. It's too good not to play!

And just in case you've somehow missed out on my love of "Southeastern"...a difficult but beautiful song...

Jason Isbell - Elephant (live) -

See what you think of this. I think it's a rather good interpretation of a great song. For what it's worth, it's also a very difficult song to get right!

Cowboy Junkies - Thunder Road -

Drive-By Truckers have just released a live album recorded at the famous Fillmore. My spider-sense tingled when I heard about this as a result of Jason Isbell having been in the band and some of my favourite live shows being recorded at that venue (especially Tom Petty). After only one listen it definitely rates a purchase...maybe even vinyl!

Drive-By Truckers - Birthday Boy -

I'm not a fan of driving. Sydney might be a fairly easy 3 hours or so but....blech!

Toots and the Maytals - Country Roads -

I need a sleep. Old men like me getting home late from rock concerts don't recover the way we used to! I'll try and do better next week.


"'ve got a hubcap diamond star halo...", Get It On, T-Rex, 1971.