Friday, December 23, 2016

World Wide Woozle episode #409

It's absolutely no secret that I am not a fan of Christmas music. This year, whilst doing some family sanctioned decluttering I did my best to rid us of some Christmas music CDs but was thwarted in my attempt! I'm not fussed about the sentiment behind the song, religious or not, it's just the appalling tunes often murdered by contemporary musicians and singers. If we could just have the Elvis Christmas album all would be right in the world. 

Elvis Presley - I'll Be Home For Christmas -

I'm almost there in terms of my cycling goal for 2016. Just a couple of hundred km left and with relatively good weather forecast for a while I should romp it in. And then I'll clean my bike which is desperately in need of some love! If I can get myself motivated it might get a tub tomorrow. I'm sure to be aided and abetted by the dog. 

If you didn't listen to Giuda from last week's blog entry and watch the video I still think you're missing out. Worth it for the boots and the stomping of said footwear. Noddy Holder would be proud.

Slade - Get Down & Get With It (live) -

I may have played this track already but I really don't care. It rolls around with alarming regularity on my listening devices and never fails to make me tap my foot or hum along. It's a great version of a Springsteen classic.

The Beat Farmers - Reason to Believe -

After last week's comments I had an (unrelated) conversation with someone about their love for Bon Jovi. To be fair, she'd been a fan since the first album came out in 1984. She's still very much worshipping at the altar of Jon Bon and his buddies so more power to her. I remember "Slippery When Wet" being released and playing the cassette over and over (Europe's "Final Countdown" was on the other side!). They wrote some great songs without a doubt.

Bon Jovi - Raise Your Hands -

Everyone has guilty listening pleasures, the bands that you might be a little bit sheepish about listening to but in the car, on your own, you sing along knowing every word. Here are a couple of mine...

REO Speedwagon - Can't Fight This Feeling -

Poison - Look What The Cat Dragged In -

Feargal Sharkey - You Little Thief -

We went along to see the new Star Wars film this week. I won't post any spoilers for those yet to see it. In my opinion it is running very close to being the best Star Wars film ever. Big call I hear you say! Well that's my opinion. Rogue One is fun, fast and true to the Star Wars universe, look and feel. After the three prequels, which I have little love for and then The Force Awakens being pretty good I didn't know what to expect. If Angus, who is not a Star Wars fan by any stretch of the imagination, liked it a lot then that should give you an indication of how good the film it. Fans, you'll love it and how it links perfectly to the start of Episode IV. For everyone else, it stands alone really well and if this is the first Star Wars movie you see then it's a great place to start.

To my American friends; you voted Mr Trump in, now you have to get on with it. Let's not have 4 years of bitching and moaning about how you did or didn't vote for him; it's a moot point now. We had enough whinging about who did and didn't vote for President Obama and it didn't help anyone. You live in a deeply divided nation that wields a lot of power. You've also got a lot of changes coming that I'm sure will impact the rest of the world too. Play nice and good luck.

Here's two Christmas songs. See, I'm not The Grinch!

Stryper - Winter Wonderland (live) -

Chuck Berry - Run Rudolph Run -

Bye for now and thanks for reading,


Friday, December 16, 2016

World Wide Woozle episode #408

As many of you will have read, my family created a space especially for me to play my guitars, to listen to anti social rock music, to display some of my bits and pieces, to read and to sit and think. It's taken me a while to get used to the idea that I can disappear to what they call my "studio" and just chill out. But as other parts of my life seem to get more complex this space of my own has become more and more important. This evening I'm listening to tracks for this episode. My prized Ozzy Osbourne and AC/DC box sets are on the desk in front of me - constant inspiration. There's some Grateful Dead and Beatles branded toy cars, five of my favourite LP covers on the wall and a Star Wars poster that's almost as tall as me. Some of my favourite old Action Man and GI Joe figures are here as well as a heap of books, posters, LPs and CDs. The old 70s stereo that's been in my family since I was very little is cranking out a new album via Spotify through a repurposed old netbook. And there's a guitar on a stand ready to be picked up anytime. Are you getting the picture? This small space is a bit cluttered but it's somewhere I belong. If only the cat would keep off the groovy chair...but then I suppose I can share with her just a little as long as no-one else realises. Especially not the dog.

How long has it been since you listened to an album from start to finish without skipping a track or losing interest? And by listening I mean really listening - not just having it playing along in the background? I'll admit that it's been a while for me. Time is precious and the opportunity to find 45 minutes or so uninterrupted is a rarity. Today I had to drive back from Sydney after conducting some interviews. It was raining and grey and thoroughly miserable travelling weather. After a while the radio faded out so I pulled over and chose something new to listen to. Last week, after hearing one track from a band called Giuda I saved their album to my long list of stuff to listen to. I should point out that this album is new to me but is actually 12 months old. Anyway, I'm labouring the point here....I love this record. It rocks, it rolls, it really speaks to me. Initially I thought Giuda, who are from Rome, Italy, were going to be a ripoff of AC/DC circa 1976. Think the Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap album and you'll be halfway there. The pounding bass and kick drum drive fat overdriven guitars that sound just like a Gibson straight into a loud amplifier with only a cable in between. It's a very organic sound. After the first few songs I found myself thinking about what their influences would be. To my ears, Giuda are channelling a healthy mix of Slade, Status Quo, AC/DC, Thin Lizzy, Sweet and Mott the Hoople. Of the 10 tracks there was only one that didn't grab me. They've got a couple of earlier releases that I'll be checking out soon. 

Giuda - Roll The Balls -

I've been listening to a bit of Jimi Hendrix lately. I love his work but it's not everyday fare for me. When I was in high school the local record shop had a copy of the LP "Jimi Hendrix - Smash Hits". My music buying funds were sorely limited, as you'd expect for a kid, but I really wanted this album. I think I must've looked at the sleeve at least once every couple of weeks for maybe three of four months until I had the cash. Yeah....ok all you purists, it's a greatest hits album of sorts but at the time I only had one Hendrix record (Live at Winterland) and it was bang for buck in my opinion. Also the cover photo was, and remains, super cool AND it was released when he was alive (1968) There are tracks on the album that might not necessarily make a top 10 list these days but it was a good selection. What this record did for me was make me understand Hendrix much better than the live LP did. If I could play one Hendrix song perfectly (or even halfway close) it'd be this one....

Jimi Hendrix - Voodoo Child (Slight Return) -

I made a big mistake earlier in the week and sampled some tracks fro the new Bon Jovi album. Good grief, don't waste your time. It's well produced ultra-bland pedestrian pseudo country rock at best. Interestingly enough, the recent Keith Urban concert here in Canberra got a similar review. It sells I guess but not to me.

After what shall be referred to hereafter as the "2016 Bon Jovi debacle" I was in urgent need of something with a beat to cheer me up. At this point I glanced through the list of stuff I still hadn't got to and saw the most recent Stryper album. I did have a very cursory spin of it a while ago and I do remember not being all that excited. Remember that I really, really like the band.... So, I hit play again and listened with intent. I wasn't disappointed in the least. Stryper rocked hard and had brought their trademark harmonies, soaring guitars and 80s metal sensibilities with them. The album, "Fallen", will remain on my playlist for a while and I liked it enough to order a physical copy. At this point I realised that Michael Sweet (vocals/guitar) had very recently released a new solo album. Well hello sailor.....cue it up! I guess it's not all that different to Stryper and if you like one then you'll enjoy the other. It's heavier than the recent Stryper LP and the guitars sound amazing. Definitely one for fans of heavier melodic rock.

Michael Sweet - One Sided War -

As a result of the course I took about music, art and literature of the American South I've been listening to a heap of old recordings. Every now and then someone does a cover version that really shows that they "get" the original. This is one such effort....

John Mellencamp - Do, Re, Mi -

That'll do....the cat's hassling me for her place on the chair.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

World Wide Woozle episode #407

I'm keenly aware that it has been just over a month since the last instalment in this never ending series of blog entries. Sorry. I'm sure I can make up for it. Are you sitting comfortably? Good; then let's begin.

The first track this week is from Margo Price. I heard it on the radio this week and the groove hooked me in almost instantly. Margo is being touted as the next big thing, and be that as it may, this is a great track. The rest of the album is more traditional than what seems to pass for country music today and that sits well with me. I guess if you were a fan of Dolly, Loretta or Tammy then you might enjoy the LP. If you like good music in general then you should get a kick out of this...

Margo Price - Four Years of Chances -

The Rolling Stones have a new album of blues out. Hooray. I'm sure it's awesome as well as being a testament for their life long love of the music that influenced them. Much more interesting to me was the release of a whole lot of mono original Stones stuff. Clocking in with 186 tracks this collection is aimed squarely at the serious fan. I noticed it when a track popped up on the "Discover" list that the Spotify algorithms put together for me. Mono is a funny beast - with all the fascination surrounding different mixes (did you see what I did there?) sometimes the old one speaker is a lot more powerful. For many people it's how they remember hearing music in the era of AM radio or portable turntables. I haven't got past the first few tracks of this compilation. Even taking account that I'm streaming them in high quality they still sound great.

The Rolling Stones - Carol -

Ryan Adams (not Bryan) is one of those guys who I think I should be a fan of but I'm not. And I don't know why. Something just hasn't happened between us as yet! Having said that, his new song, which could really be a Bryan Adams tune, is pretty good. Ryan sings with feeling and he's got the swirly organ background noise that I really like. This is the single from an upcoming album and if he can back this up with a few rockers and the band sounding this good then I'll buy it.

Ryan Adams - Do You Still Love Me? -

I haven't sent through anything since Rod, Scot and I had our little pilgrimage to Sydney to see The Cult. The short version is that is was awesome. The longer version includes me being deaf in one ear, traffic jams, a youth hostel and a first class gig. There may have been snoring as well despite assurances that there would be none. The Cult have been around since the early 80s and the three of us (who used to play together in The Dark Violence of Beauty) have been fans forever. The support band, "The Art", weren't half bad as support acts go. They would've benefited from a better mix and maybe from the male singer either not singing or not playing the guitar. He was competent alright but it just muddied the sound too much. Their drummer was a dead ringer for a younger Henry Rollins and he probably had as much energy as well. Just tone it down once in a while champ! The winners were the lead guitarist whose sinuous, delay laden work made things interesting and the bass player/singer who had a great Pat Benetar-esque voice. I've seen support bands get a horrible reception and it didn't happen for these guys.

The Cult....what can I say. They surpassed all expectations in a live setting. We'd heard rumours that Ian's voice was shot. It was not! They were loud, they had a great time, Billy had his famous Gretsch guitars out and the keyboard player looked like an unearthly mashup of Bill Bailey and Billy Connolly. The Cult played their hits as well as a good chunk of the latest long player, "Hidden City". The Enmore Theatre was pretty much full and the large crowd had a great time. Well worth the price of admission.

The Cult - Sweet Soul Sister (live Sydney 2016) -

And for those of you not keen on fanshot video -

Metallica have a new album and I've tried hard to love it but I don't. It's not dreadful, far from it, but it's nothing special. Every band with more than one album progresses and changes in some way and Metallica is no different. To all those people who will only listen to the first three or four albums I say "bah humbug". There's good tracks on every album they've released....even St Anger. Well, maybe not St Anger. The new LP, " self destruct" has all the elements of a great Metallica record. It's got good some good riffs, Jaymz can still sing, Kirk can still wail on the guitar, Lars pounds the tubs into submission and Rob is magic on the bass. What's lacking is the songwriting and some of the production. It doesn't sound 'huge' in the way I expect a Metallica album to. The guitars fizz instead of roar and the drums are a bit tinny. And whilst there are some good riffs it seems that in terms of writing songs the band is stuck in a rut. It's Metallica but it's almost by the numbers. I'd rate this one as "for fans only". If you're interested in the band and need an introduction then start somewhere else. Try this...

Metallica - Cyanide -

I've had a bit of a break from playing the guitar recently. There's just been too much other stuff going on. Fear not though, I began the revival of my aural assault on the neighbours yesterday. Admittedly all I did was run through a few favourites that we play in the band, but it was good to feel the music in my veins. This is a not so obvious, and not very happy, track got an airing. 

Jason Isbell - Yvette -

I think I'll finish with the Grateful Dead this week. That's a bit how I feel. I've been sick enough to keep me off my bicycle for three days. Unheard of! Fingers crossed I'll be back tomorrow for the final push towards my yearly distance target. It's suffered a bit with an overseas trip and then a wet winter but I'll do my best.

Grateful Dead - Mama Tried -