Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It feels like nothing matters in our private universe (Crowded House)

Being a kiwi and being back in the Land Of The Long White Cloud (a.k.a God's own, a.k.a. Aotearoa, a.k.a. Nu Zild) makes me very nostalgic for kiwi music of my youth.

NZ is a long, long way from anything significant. Yes I know it's three hours flight time to Australia - I said 'significant'.

We are isolated and we have had to develop our own culture of films, TV and music. In short we've created our own private universe.

Some outrageously great bands and music have emerged in NZ and gone over the years. The biggies the world knows about - Split Enz and Crowded House in days gone by; Lawrence Arabia and The Phoenix Foundation are current critic faves in the UK.

A band of my youth that I love is Citizen Band. I recently found their song, My Pohutukawa, on a radio broadcast and linked it to my Facebook page. Old friends Kevy and GK wrote comments.

I reflected on this - namely that the song would mean something to only a very very few people in the world. It was an obscure B side to one of their songs and released, I think, only in NZ. Actually CB were an Auckland band and so even the rest of NZ wouldn't know about them much.

It's a great feeling knowing that KS GK and I share that experience and knowledge. It bonds us and I love that.

Citizen Band tried and failed to make it in Aussie and flamed out when original members started leaving.

My love for the band endures though and I hope Brent, Mike, Greg and Geoff dig that tex over Christmas.

Try the link and watch the boys do a note for note version of the old Larry's Rebels hit, I Feel Good.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

There's a splinter in your eye and it reads "react" (REM)

Today's workout culminated with REM's glorious Harborcoat.

This song always reminds me of living in New Plymouth, NZ, in the spring and summer of 1984. Jacky and I were newly married with a baby and Harborcoat formed the soundtrack of life at the pink house in List St.

I replayed the tune a few times after it came up on shuffle and tried to figure out the lyrics again. That's part of its charm - it's indecipherable. Michael Stipe sings great but the words are in a terrific murk. About the only bits I ever get is the line I used for the title and heaven only knows what it means.

I prefer to leave it that way as the Byrdsian guitars chime and roil. It all becomes this fab stew.

And a harborcoat? The imagination has to work hard.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Denial ain't just a river in Egypt (Mark Twain)

Sometimes uncool songs just stick in your brain all day long. They won't be denied.

The Scorpions is a heavy rock band from Germany (heavy metal? I don't think so but the distinctions are pretty pedantic ones) that is still going strong. Stronger than ever really. Sting in the Tail, supposedly their retirement album, is an awesome guitar rock album from a year or so ago.

The song that's got stuck in the membrane though is Wind Of Change. Their almost-but-not-quite big hair AOR radio bothering 1990 ballad. They've just done a 2011 version, pretty much a note for note copy but the guitaring sounds better, on their new album - Comeback. There goes the retirement then.

It has so many weird touches from the mannered vocal by Klaus Meine and the whistling to the Little Wing style guitar intro to the big rawk chorus. It all works though...somehow.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I'm gonna fight, in the metal night! (Dream Evil)

'Tis the season of bad Christmas muzak in all the malls, tinsel, fake Christmas trees, and lots of fake snow on the shoulders of the stores' mannequins that looks like dandruff.

My apologies to Denene if she's strayed onto the music blog by accident and that sounds vaguely baahumbugish, but it looks and feels fake. To be in the middle of a desert with the malls full of festive cheer is surreal and weird, but there you go.

'Tis also the season of Christmas music posts. The Seventies Blog asked readers for their favourite Christmas songs recently.

Here were my first equals, now and for always:

John Ono Lennon and Yoko Ono Lennon - Happy Christmas (War is over)


Darlene Love - Christmas (Baby please come home)

I was going to add a heavy metal Christmas song but a quick search revealed what the general public would already suspect - Heavy Metal + Christmas songs = complete disaster.

A case in point - Twisted Sister? Please!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Angular banjoes sound good to me (Steely Dan)

Aja is a weird song on a weird album (also called Aja) with a weird cover (right), by a weird group that isn’t really a group at all – it’s a duo comprising Walter Becker and Donald Fagen plus assorted genius session musicians.

It’s the longest song on the album and the title song so it’s important right?

Musically it’s as smooth as silk with a very jazzy feel from the sax solo, but the lyrics are just…weird.

Does it actually mean anything? Or is it just oblique for oblique’s sake?

Starts off and appears to be literally on solid ground – the hill. Maybe it’s metaphorical though. Maybe it’s Capitol Hill where People never stare, they just don’t care.

But then – whheeeeeeeeeeee – we’re off into Chinese music, banyan trees, double helix in the sky, the dude ranch and, of course, those angular banjoes.

What the hey?

A quick read on the interweb of various theories about the song shows that nobody knows anything!

So instead – kick back for 8 minutes and let your mind wander while your feet do the tapping.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Lily called another bet and drew up the Jack of Hearts (Bob Dylan)

I have been a big fan of Heather Browne's blog for a long time. It's called I Am Fuel, You Are Friends (check it on my blogroll). She often writes the kinds of posts where you think - I wish I'd said that (or heard that, or seen that). She's a joy to read and steal stuff from.

She recently posted on Adam Arcuragi. I'd never heard of him before - again the joy of discovering new things is just a visit to Heather's site away. She even added this clip.

I love the song and I love the video for a lot of reasons.

I love the way music can make you smile and make you warm. Clearly this is filmed somewhere cold but the music just seems to warm everybody up.

I love the almost guerrilla filming technique used. And it's a fresh idea - no hackneyed 'we'll film it on a roof like the Beatles and U2 did' Red Hot Chili Pepper rip off stuff here.

Don't forget to check out her blog - it's exceptional.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

I believe in what I'm doing (U2 from Celebration)

The last copy of Q that I read had U2 on the cover. In the inside story Bono claims that U2 are 'the most loved and the most hated band on Earth'.

Now I can't claim to speak for the world (unlike Bono) but U2 is certainly a band I have had a love/non love (why would you ever hate a band?) relationship with over the years.

I seem to prefer the less bombastic corners of their oeuvre as you can sense from my top five selections. I'm thinking of Pride, Bullet The Blue Sky and all of Rattle and Hum when I say bombastic.

Often those corners shelter the love songs and more tender slithers of Bono's soul. Not just romantic love (Wild Honey) but love for lost ones (One Tree Hill), love for his universal brothers and sisters (One), and love of God (Gloria)

Gloria (1981)

The first U2 song I heard, the first U2 single I bought, and the first U2 video I saw (nothing matches your first time). I love the way Bono is throwing his rock star shapes and The Edge just looks cool.

One Tree Hill (1987)

I was born in One Tree Hill in Auckland (in a US military base hospital left there after World War 2) and I grew up and played in the shadows of an area called One Tree Hill, also known as Cornwall Park or Maungakiekie. The song is about the death of a NZ friend of Bono's. The emotions surrounding that and the location make this a rare U2 song - one that I can connect to in a personal way.

It's appropriate, then, that the video uses stills from Nu Zild in general.

Wild Honey (2000)

Bless him - Bono couldn't write a straight love song if he tried - it wouldn't work. Instead we are lucky to have fantastic songs like Wild Honey in the U2 canon. This is an example of a light touch U2 song - they don't appear to be trying too hard (and boy are they capable of THAT). This one just swings along really easily.

One (1991)

The well known stand out song from the great great Achtung Baby album. I love the way The Lighthouse Family used a fragment from One in their song I Wish. I'm a sucker for that kind of homage - like when Hootie And The Blowfish sing a fragment from Dylan's mighty Idiot Wind in Only Wanna Be With You.

New Year's Day (1983)

The live version from Red Rocks is my favourite (on the Under A Blood Red Sky album). It is so atmospheric and seemingly pessimistic - torn in two and nothing changes on New Year's Day but I prefer the optimistic view - that we can break through...we can be one. I like the way that Bono's lyrics feed back and feed forward. Interesting that New Year's Day contains ideas that he explores elsewhere such as One and With Or Without You.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

She tries to understand the things that I do (Edgar Winter Group)

I really really love the shuffle mode on my ppod. It spins me off into many forgotten corners of my music collection.

I was doing a workout on The Beast yesterday (our cross trainer) and I love it when a song emerges from the shuffle which is perfect for a workout and reminds me of great times.

Round and Round by The Edgar Winter Group came on and I smiled and smiled.

It's a gem from the big selling They Only Come Out At Night album released during 1972 (the one with Frankenstein on it).

I played the song three times back to back and charged into my workout.

The song always has good connotations for me and it pops up in my life when I most need it.

During the second and third listens I began to listen to the lyrics more and I focused harder on various bits while bopping on The Beast.

I tried to love her but she changes everyday
Wouldn’t be much fun if she was any other way
One day she’s warm next day she’s cold
One day she’s young and then the next day she’s old
I puzzled over this and especially the last line of this opening verse. Okay I get that the lover he's talking about can be hot or cold, but young and old? Just a convenient rhyme or something deeper?

Then I remembered a section from Hermann Hesse's novel Siddhartha when Siddhartha is talking to his old friend Govinda about the potential hidden Buddha that lives in all of us.

The world, Govinda, is not imperfect or slowly evolving along a long path to perfection. No, it is perfect at every moment, every sin already carries grace within it, all small children are potentially old men, all sucklings have death within them, all dying people - eternal life.
Intentional or not, I read the song slightly differently at this point. The lover is whole, fully evolved with (maybe) a glimpse into something deeper.

Weird how a song can do that - shapeshift after many listens and in conjunction with other stimuli (Siddhartha) take on another life.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Waking state (Anouar Brahem)

I have gushed about the superb work of oud player extraordinaire Anouar Brahem before. But the music on The Astounding Eyes Of Rita is of another world.

When I make my list of the best things I've heard this year, this album will be there.

The music starts softly and slowly on the first track, The Lover Of Beirut, as if you are waking up from a dream, or just understanding that you are in a dream, or just beginning the slide into a dream.

I have no words to describe the beauty of the rest of this ethereal soulful music so I will let you in on the experience instead.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

You'll never change what's been and gone (Oasis)

I love reading Liam and Noel Gallagher interviews. They speak honestly and without their guard up as a whole. That is very refreshing in the world of modern entertainment.

I recently bought a book of their collected quotes called Mad For It (The wit and wisdom of the brothers Gallagher).

You'll recall I wrote about Liam's Beady Eye band a while back. Beady Eye being basically the Oasis band without the Chief.

Here's a Liam quote I love from 1994:

I tell you , when I read that
Oasis is Noel's band that
f****** sent's no one's band.
Take one away and there's nowt left.
Oh dear!

Here's one of my favourite Oasis songs to remind us about what the Gallaghers United football team is capable of.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

When you try your best but you don't succeed (Coldplay)

Two new albums under high rotate in Casa Wozza are new releases by Snow Patrol and Coldplay.

I have been a fan of both bands from release one and word "GO".

Each have managed to get themselves offside with the music press by selling gadzillions of units. Somehow that equates to mundane music in some people's eyes.

I must admit it took me a while to actually buy Parachutes, the first Coldplay album (and Songs For Polarbears, the first Snow Patrol album).

Parachutes was extremely popular and that always makes me a little suspicious - I don't like jumping on a bandwagon and I do have some aspects of the music snob - loving bands that no one else has heard of.

But I saw the first two Coldplay CDs in Tower Records in Bangkok and relaxed. I shouldn't have worried (or listened to the music snobs). Both albums are superb.

I also go against most critics position on X and Y - their third album. It's actually my favourite album of theirs and reminds me of driving around southern England in 2006.

The new one, Mylo Xyloto, has been on high rotate since I bought it. Purely because nothing seemed to stand out for ages. With repetition has come some clarity and some finer appreciation of the work, but it's not shaping up as their best work by a long chalk.

And what a crap cover. There is a strong self destructive streak in the band that emerges from time to time and never more obviously than with this shokingly pathetic cover. What the hell were they thinking?

Ditto x10 for the latest Snow Patrol album. It's okay and better than A Hundred Million Suns which was pretty dire. Looks increasingly like the band peaked with Final Straw and Eyes Open.

Gary Lightbody has a great voice but for some reason - too much success maybe - he doesn't seen willing or able to write those great melodies that were on those two albums. A case of McCartneyitis?

I've had Fallen Empires (how very apt) on rotate in the car and so far zilch. But I will persevere and I live in hope.

Meanwhile I was thrilled to find out in a Mojo interview that Chris Martin's favourite Coldplay song (more accurately he was asked for the song he'd written that he felt proudest of) is the same as mine from X and Y - Fix You.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Something's wrong (Madonna)

Dearest Madonna:

I need to send my heartfelt apologies to you, to the blogosphere's Madonna fans in general and to my favourite lead guitarist from Silent Alliance in particular for the shocking absence of Till Death Do Us Part from my list of your top five songs.

None of my vinyl has been transferred to my ipod and thereby lies the sin of omission. This is really one of my favourite songs of all time and I can't believe I left it off.

So very sorry. Hope the kids are well!

Love - Wozza

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I hear you call my name and it feels like... home (Madonna)

As promised in the previous post, here I am calling Madonna's name.

I've been a fan on and off of Madonna Louise Ciccone (born one year after me in August 1958) since she hit the world's stage (barnstormed it really) in 1983.

My first contact with Madonna was Live Aid and her strutting around doing Holiday. It was fantastic; like nothing I'd ever seen before.

She lost me after Like A Prayer, around Erotica time, and I came back on board for Bedtime Stories and onwards until I left again with Hard Candy.

Within that orbit I have enjoyed some wonderful songs and singalongs with Madge. Curiously I have never had the slightest inclination to be interested in her public/private life (where does she draw the distinction I wonder) like I have with Lennon, Harrison etc. It's her music and stellar writing that I love so much.

Here are my tight five:

1. Live to Tell (1986)

This was a watershed song (from True Blue). There was a new maturity to her voice and a change of tack from the tried and true (blue) with a less poppy bubblegum approach. The ballad format works too. She didn't really return to this voice until Bedtime Stories/Ray Of Light which was a shame I think.

2. Cherish (1989)

From the Like A Prayer album and we're in transition (she sings this one close to her helium mode). This is the end of the first Madonna period and before she set off on the sexually explicit stuff that isn't my preference.

My album copy is scented with patchouli oil (still - after all these years it still smells great) and this song is the aural equivalent. A fantastic little confection of a love song. There is an innocence present here that sounds genuine to me. Now that is remarkable given what we know of Madonna. Innocence and Madonna in the same sentence? Absurd right? But listen without prejudice and you'll catch the virginal.

Then you watch the video and that's all blown out of

3. Frozen 1998

Ray Of Light was such a great album - chockablock with cool sounds and a different approach. In many ways my favourite sequence of albums was this one, then Music and American Life and Confessions On A Dancefloor. Great music doesn't date. A lot of early 80's Madonna hasn't aged that well but those four albums will stand the test of time. She should be proud of herself. They are a remarkable achievement.

4. Papa Don't Preach 1986

This one was a bit weird. It came out during a video strike or something in the mid eighties in NZ. Suddenly you couldn't see any music videos on TV and this was death to an artist like Madonna. Her visual style has always been wound up in her music. Presentation has sometimes been at the expense of quality.

So I had to rely on a friend who owned a record shop for music videos. I remember playing this at Macleans College at lunchtime to students and it had a huge effect. The video is great and the song is so well constructed. A cautionary tale and so well captured in film.

5. Hung up 2005

2005 and me and some of my family are living in England and I was teaching in Benfleet. This song was our soundtrack in the car when I drove my daughters to school (we were all at the same place).

Every time I hear it I instantly recall the fun we had singing along!

Monday, November 14, 2011

I feel it in my leg I feel it in my shoe, tell me purty baby if you think you feel it too (Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs)

The latest Rolling Stone magazine with Steve Jobs on the cover had a number of rockers writing about their favourite playlists. Mick Jagger's top 10 on reggae, Gregg Allman's top ten on blues vocals, Billy Gibbons' top ten on blues guitar and so get the idea.

It was called The Playlist Special.

Magazines like to do this from time to time and I am an absolute stone cold rickem ruckem pass the ammunition all day SUCKAH for them.

Can't help it, the boy can't help it - I LOVE LISTS.

So armed with the excuse of  if-it's-good-enuf-for-Rolling-Stone-it's-certainly-okay-for-me, here is the first of my Playlist Specials (an occasional series).

Wozza's Top Five (it's a short party - my knees aren't what they used to be) Party Starters

My parties have always been of the jump and jive around the room to loud music variety. The next ten songs are guaranteed to get the leg twitching and then I'm motorvatin' to the centre of the lounge and doing moves that David Byrne would relate to (if not exactly envy).

1. Let's Have A Party Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs 1974

This was a B side to a great version of Over The Rainbow. Talk about slow and fast. The version of Let's Have A Party zings along at a million miles an hour. It bears all of Billy Thorpe trademarks - terrific impassioned vocal, guitars turned up to 11, a stellar group of okkers called The Aztecs (a bit of a revolving cast around the central figure of Billy). It's impossible to sit still!

Jump to 2.40 in the youtube link below for the skinny on Billy!

2. Highway Star Deep Purple 1972

The live version on Made In Japan trumps the studio one on Machine Head but only just. Mainly because it's longer. Ritchie Blackmore is the ultimate air guitar hero. When he and Jon Lord get together to duke it out, like they do here, there is no one to touch them.

3. Model Gary Myrick & The Figures 1980

This song pretty much sums up 1980 for me - being a student, living in my parents' basement, beautiful summer sun and bopping and a jiving to the first Gary Myrick album. Amazingly Model is one of about five songs in a row that maintain a relentless energy.

4. Save Us Dream Evil 2002

Just to prove that age shall not weary me - this track on the Evil's 2002 Dragon Slayer album is a keeper for the next party. I play it a lot in the car and it's able to propel the car forward on its very own.

5. I Don't Want To Spoil The Party The Beatles 1965 

Part of a party should be a good old fashioned singalong and wind down before it comes to its proper conclusion. If you haven't got The Beach Boys Party! album on hand then try this lung buster from the mighty Beatles.

When you get to this bit in particular John (and a bit of Paul) gives us 100% permission to sing along at the top of our lungs. Try it - it's very therapeutic!

Though tonight she's made me sad,
I still love her,
If I find her I'll be glad,
I still love her.

And then it's time to sit down, have a rest and dig out a chill out album!

P.S. I know what you're thinking - Holy Fulele Wozza - five bopping party songs and no Madonna?? How is that possible? To be honest I'm not quite sure myself so next list will be five of the best from The Divine Miss M (the younger).

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Which side are you on? (Billy Bragg)

I've posted before about my theories regarding The Beatles and The Velvet Underground being polar opposites. Musical tastes are derived from one or the other source (the Wozza theory).

The press often likes to play up a rivalry between bands.

The Beatles vs Stones line of thinking never gained much traction and was bogus anyway. Even though John and Paul gave them a really lame song to record (I Wanna Be Your Man) they still actually liked the Stones and weren't in competition with them. They were plowing different fields.

As are bands generally. They are all trying to carve out a niche for themselves.

From time to time competitions like the graphic below are set up to get music fans who are passionate about 'their band' to duke it out.

It's kinda fun if kinda pointless.

I tried the one above because it includes Nu Zild and aussie bands. It's a weird list that includes some classic bands like The Rolling Stones, Nirvana and Led Zeppelin but there are no Beatles, The Who, Oasis etc etc etc.

Anyway it pitches similar rock bands against each other. So suddenly it's Pink Floyd vs Deep Purple!! Soundgarden vs Smashing Pumpkins!! Tough calls.

In the end my quarter finalists for the above list were: Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, U2, Metallica, Tool, Bruce Springsteen, Smashing Pumpkins.

Semi finalists: Led Zep, Stones, Bruce and Tool.

Finalists: Led Zep vs Bruce.

Champ: Led Zeppelin

See - silly but fun. Give it a go.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thunder! Lightning! Fighting! Heavy metal in the night! (Dream Evil)

I really dislike pressure sales-people. But what I dislike even more is allowing myself to be pressured into buying something.

I allowed myself to be persuaded to buy a CD called Brush-Fires Of The Mind by a band called Sons Of Liberty. Dumb dumb dumb.

Why did I buy? Three reasons.

It was in the Mall of the Emirates Virgin Megastore, and the sales guy has recommended some good stuff to me before (Russell Allen's Atomic Soul and Stratovarius are two that come to mind). That's the first.

Second - Sons Of Liberty is a project by Jon Schaffer from Iced Earth. I really like Iced Earth - an American hybrid of Iron Maiden with lyrical stuff that is more philosophically interesting than the norm.

Third - The CD was in digipak form. Usually a good sign. I love Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson's stuff. He usually goes for the upmarket digipak format.

Stupidly I, therefore, made a tenuous link to Wilson and thought - solo, digipak, trustworthy sales guy.

Mr Schaffer in action
I did have a nagging, nagging thought it was a mistake  (the name and cover pic rang bells and I'd just finished a Lee Child book about the lunatic fringe militia groups in America). But 60 dirhams? What the hey, right?

Starts off fine - opening track Jekyll Island is like Iced Earth musically. That's a great thing. And to be fair, for the most part the music is excellent.

The bad stuff? It's a concept album. A heavy metal concept album...with a...message. Eeeeeeeiigggghhhhhhhh!!

Jon writes about the message inside the CD (damn you shrink wrap). I wish I'd seen this sentence before I parted with my cash:
It's crucial for all of us to learn the real history and the real agenda of the Federal Reserve System, the 3rd Central Bank of the United States.
I am not making this up!!

I've listened to the CD three times now - just to check out my initial thoughts and I know I will never listen to it ever again. Anybody want my copy?

I'm going to go back to Iced Earth and Dream Evil to try to wash the taste off.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Love, love will tear us apart again (Joy Division)

Songs about break ups have been around since Eve whistled a melancholy little tune as she exited Eden.

Teenagers love to wallow in self pity and I was no exception (even if I didn't have a break up to feel melancholy about) and I'm betting that you weren't either.

Everybody has experienced the pain of unrequited love at some stage, and many have loved and lost.

Songs about such things hit a universal chord (pun intentional). Everybody who wants to tap into the universal gestalt has a song about a break up in them.

Here are my top five break up songs of all time (with five it has to be all killer, no filler):

I've kicked off with a brilliant song from a great break up album, maybe the greatest of all time - Blood On The Tracks.

Bob Dylan's If You See Her, Say Hello is a thoughtful, poignant request of a song that means a painful parting has resulted in a reflective period and then acceptance that she will live forever in his heart. Not only that - she can always visit if she's got the time.

We had a falling out
like lovers often will
and to think of how she left that night
still gives me a chill

And though our separation
it pierced me to the heart
she'll always live inside of me
we've never been apart

Love Will Tear Us Apart (Joy Division) is another extra-ordinary break up song. It's of the raw and bleak type rather than the sappier melancholy school of break up songs - why is the bedroom so cold?

The first verse is remarkable for a pop song and I'm always a sucker for the simple overuse of a conjunction in poetry or prose.

When routine bites hard,
And ambitions are low,
And resentment rides high,
But emotions won't grow,
And we're changing our ways,
Taking different roads. (for JD)

One of the greatest ever I'm leaving you songs is Jimmy Webb's By The Time I Get To Phoenix. Doesn't matter which version you listen to as the story and the sentiment behind the song stand up time and time again. The version I've included here is by Glen Campbell but only because nearly 20 minutes of Isaac Hayes is probably too long on the blog but do yourself a favour and have a listen to it on the link if you get a chance. There is nothing to equal it in all of musicdom. (for IH)
At number four is the all class representative of the idea that love-stinks-and-I'm never-doing-that-again sub-genre that is I'll Never Fall In Love Again.  The kicker is always in the last verse in this type of song. Hal David's version is:
What do you get when you fall in love?
You only get lies and pain and sorrow
So for at least until tomorrow
I'll never fall in love again

Finally - the fifth song stands up (lies down?) for all those weepy pathetic excuses of songs that just simply feel sorry for themselves. Eric (All By Myself) Carmen is a masterful exponent of this type of break up song.
Boats Against The Current is also a great example of the not quite type of relationship. It hints at the desperate need to stay in a relationship long after it has become clear that each person is in a different boat rowing against the current.

Again the first verse sets the scene and largely sums up the song's intentions:
To say these songs are the tip of the break up iceberg is doing a huge disservice to icebergs but they do represent the key strands within the break up sub genre within the Love Song tradition.
I know it's over
You know it's over
We're just goin' through the motions
But we're sailin' separate oceans worlds apart
And you know it's breakin' my heart

The break up is a topic that never runs out of appeal and song writers will continue to exploit the need we have for them until the sun explodes. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I think I busted a button on my trousers, I hope they don't fall darn (Mick Jagger)

You find me knee deep in a mini Stones-a-thon. A recent visit to Al Jimi's Carrefour resulted in the purchases of two DVDs - Ladies And Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones and a documentary on the making of Exile On Main Street called Stones In Exile. This is easily my favourite period of the Stones - around the early 1970s.

Unlike my Beatles' collection, my Rolling Stones collection is respectable without being anything like completist.

I only have compilations of the early pre sixty-seven material: Flowers; England's Newest Hitmakers; Big Hits (High Tides and Green Grass); Hot Rocks 1964-71. That sort of stuff.

I don't own any of the studio albums prior to 1968 but from Beggars' Banquet on I have them all except for Black and Blue (The Ron Wood debut). Was put off that one by their videos at the time starring a pimped up Jagger badly lip synching to some boring shite like Hot Stuff. Tell me I'm wrong!

The early albums sound really thin to me without the genius combination of group + brilliant producer (such as George Martin). I love the singles and that's why the compilations. My favourite song of the early period is Get Off Of My Cloud. It sums up the sixties so well.

My top 5 Stones albums are easy to assemble and I suspect they are the same as a lotta people. Needless to say they all come well before the risable Hot Stuff!

What a sequence of records. Can anyone apart from the Beatles beat this five in a row? Beggars' Banquet; Let It Bleed; Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out; Stcky Fingers; Exile On Main Street.

Exile is the business though, isn't it! Dirty, rocking, bluesy, erzatz gospel, faux country, sloppy, all in all a kick ass/ mean it maan collection of songs that was their finest hour.

How will it end?  Can it be anything else but a whimper now? Keef will always be Keef but, by the same token, Jagger will never be pre Hot Stuff ever again.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Should I close my eyes and prophesize? (My Morning Jacket)

Being laid up sick at home for two days means some therapeutic music choices need to be made. A sinus headache means Mastodon's The Hunter CD is naturally replaced by somewhat more soothing sounds.

Yesterday was definitely more of a Simon and Garfunkel melancholy mood experience (the previous post) but today I felt marginally better. I tried some Return To Forever but that was too jarring. I found that some Wishbone Ash was okay in the afternoon, along with Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, Laura Marling and Feist.

But My Morning Jacket was right on the money all day long. The album is called Circuital. My knowledge of the band is very limited (I bought the CD after a glowing Mojo review).

The band appear to be big on group dynamics - the inner sleeve book is big on group rehearsal/recording long shots.

The music is eclectic and Fleet Foxy original (does that make sense?).

What I do know is that this wonderful album got me through a snotty mucus filled day!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I will ease your mind (Tom & Jerry)

I maligned Art Garfunkel's albums in the previous post but his singing can not be faulted.

My two favourite moments are the version he did with Simon and James Taylor of (What a) Wonderful World. The Sam Cooke/Satchmo versions are well known but this one shows off Arthur's beautiful harmony work. The blend with James and Paul's lower registers is fantastic.

The most sublime Art G moment is, of course, Bridge Over Troubled Water. Here are three live versions to choose from (or watch all three like I've just done). First from 1969. then from 1981 and finally a duet version with Paul from 2009. It's an amazing and immortal song and it is clear that Paul Simon's lyrics/music and Art Garfunkel's voice are gifts from above.

A lifetime is so short, a new one can't be bought (The Beatles)

The latest Mojo Magazine had a 'How to buy' guide on Simon and Garfunkel.

In the top 10 the readers had picked three S&G duo albums and the other seven were all Paul Simon solo albums. No solo Garfunkel which is understandable. He is a superb singer and harmony man but his solo albums stink as a rule.

I was pleased to see Hearts and Bones in the mix at number 9. It's a superb Carrie Fisher break up album. Simon tackles the subject in a self deprecating way which makes it all the more endearing. I read Carrie's blog from time to time and, she's great and all, but, whooah - she would be hard work.

I had no arguments with the number one vote - Bridge Over Troubled Water. A sublime collection.

But where oh where was There Goes Rhymin' Simon????? The best album of 1974 according to Mr Grammy. Nowhere to be seen. So Beautiful Or So What is rated better. So is Surprise.

This is a travesty, a mockery. A mockery of a travesty.

Here then is my little plug for one of the best albums of all time and the criminally insanely great 'American Tune'.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Down the street the dogs are barking (Blind Boy Grunt)

I've always been interested in the way Dylan's songs have morphed over the years, depending on his band, his voice, his circumstances, the way the world changes, whatever.

Dylan's song One Too Many Mornings was first released on his The Times They Are A-Changin' album. It that context it was a strange, wistful reflection about two people who have, seemingly, drifted apart over one too many mornings.

The first focus in the song is on the sounds of the dogs barking as night approaches. Dylan is standing at his doorway. He's either leaving or considering leaving. Why else would he call it a crossroads?

He turns from the doorway and looks into the empty room (the woman's presence in the room is described in the past tense), his gaze returns to the street and those lonesome dog sounds.

It seems Dylan's unease at the situation with his lover is reciprocated - she is also at a crossroads and has maybe already vamoosed - We're both just too many mornings, an' a thousand miles behind.

I've included a couple of versions here - the David Gray one sticks pretty closely to the Dylan template and is more melancholy in its approach. The Dylan and Johnny Cash countrified one is plain weird in a good way.

The version I love the most though, and unfortunately it is not available on youtube, is the one on Hard Rain from the Rolling Thunder Revue tour.

Dylan's visceral live version is stripped of any wistful, lingering heartfelt feelings and becomes a dark brooding cathartic outpouring of emotion following the departure of Sara. It's wonderful.

The dogs in this version are apocalyptic, snarling, feral monsters that threaten the night. I love it!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The only thing you done was yesterday, since you're gone you're just another day (Winston O'Boogie)

Imagine you had four sons. Imagine they were called (eldest to youngest): Richard, John, James and George.

Of course, you would love them all equally. But as they grew up they would develop distinctive personalities.

Richard would become Ritchie and, later, because he wore loads of rings he would get the nickname of Ringo. As the first and second children, Ringo and John would form a close bond.

James, as the third child would try to make his mark by being different to the other three (if they wore shoes on a hot day, he'll take his off sort of thing) and he'd eventually ask that you call him by his middle name - Paul. Paul would remain the precociously annoying third child for much of his life.

George as the youngest would take his time to carve out his niche.

You would love them all but at various times you would have your favourites.

I love all of the Beatles but John is number one. George is number two.

Paul? Never my favourite Beatle.

I can remember having big arguments at school with the Paul is better than John brigade. The guys were probably trying to wind me up. It worked. John ruled. Paul didn't.

With the benefit of hindsight I stick by my position.

Paul's career as a musician falls into four distinct, productive periods.

   Pre-Beatles 1957 to 1962 (5 years) - being a sponge and learning stuff so this doesn't really count.
1 Beatles - 1963 - 1969 (7 years)
2 Paul is solo part 1 - 1970 (1 year)
3 Wings - 1971 - 1979 (9 years)
4 Paul is solo part 2 - 1980 - 2011 (31 years)

If I was to rank these in quality it would be:

7 years as a Beatle in the sixties
9 years in Wings in the seventies
1 year solo in 1970
31 years solo since 1980

That's quite a decline!!

Basically since 1980 he has fallen comparatively short in the quality and consistency stakes.

How is it he could be unbelievably superb for 7 years, pretty damn good some of the time with Wings (although there are plenty of shonky Ebony and Ivory and Broad Street moments) but then consistently poor for 31 years.

The Fireman? Please.

The only bright spots in that 31 year lack lustre period are Tug of War (1980) Flowers in the Dirt (1989). And they are wildly inconsistent within themselves.


The answers according to me:

John Lennon (Macca's most successful partner post Lennon was Elvis Costello on Flowers in the Dirt);

youthful energy, ignorance (the freedom and bravery of youth);

George Martin (Tug Of war benefits from his expertise).

But yet...but yet...I still love Macca. He was a bloody Beatle when all is said and done.

Friday, October 14, 2011

I'm going off the rails on a crazy train (Ozzy Osbourne)

I am reading I Am Ozzy at the moment and how he is still alive is beyond me.

Actually how he and Keef could remember anything about their past life is also a puzzler. Praps they were hypnotised or something.

Anyway, I am enjoying the romp through his druggy, drunk, sexually promiscuous past.

Also makes me appreciate his music more, given the context it was created in.

For me, his best moment post Sabs was easily Crazy Train.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Beautiful Boys (Yoko Ono)

Today (October 9) is of course John and Sean Lennon's birthday.

John was born in 1940 so he would have been 71 today.

Sean was born in 1975 so that makes him 36. Hope it's a good one, Sean.

I'd give up all my life to be in the book of heavy metal (Dream Evil)

I had a look at the stats button of this blog and I was staggered to find out that the most popular blog post I'd done (and it wasn't even close) was one on DEEP PURPLE.

I checked out the post and it was a run down on my favourite Purple moments.

Coincidentally (part 1) GK's latest post was about the purps Smoke On The Water. Coincidentally (part 2) I am currently listening to Rapture Of The Deep (a DP album from 2005 I think). Coincidentally (part 3) the new Opeth album has moments that remind me more of DP than it does Opeth.

Their new album is called Heritage and is vying for first place in my affections with Damnation as my favourite Opeth album.

There are hints of DP as I said (the hammond organ/guitar mix), but there is also a return to that moody mellotron sound and the jazz/rock fusion of bands like Return to Forever. The over-riding feeling is that the erstwhile black metaller boys have clearly been listening to a lot of King Crimson lately.

It makes for a heady brew and the album is revealing more and more with each listen.

It is certainly a very different band sound compared to their metal classics like Blackwater Park, Watershed and Ghost Reveries.

Heavy Metal. Oh why do I love you so?

We've been in the middle eastern emirate of Abu Dhabi for about a year now and I've bought loads of CDs as is my vice.

Many of these fit within the broad expanses of the Heavy metal genre.

Joining my collection in New Zealand when we eventually return home will be albums by the following:

Russell Allen (of Symphony X)
Avenged Sevenfold
Black Mountain
Black Sabbath
Black Stone Cherry
Coheed and Cambria
Deep Purple
Def Leppard
Devin Townsend Project
The Gathering
Iced Earth
Iron Maiden
James LaBrie (of Dream Theater)
Lacona Coil
The Man Eating Tree
Steve Morse Band
Mostly Autumn
Ted Nugent
Queens of the Stone Age
Symphony X
Uriah Heep

That's quite a list for 12 months of off shore collecting.

The obsession with excessively amplified blues rock music began way back in the early seventies with Black Sabbath's Paranoid and Master Of Reality albums, Uriah Heep, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin.

Three of the four are represented in the list above!!

What do I still like about the genre 40 something years later?

Extended guitar and organ wig out duels, screaming banshee vocals, loud pounding drums, guitar riffs, and heads down boogie action ddoes it fer me.

By the way - the DP album Rapture Of The Deep is pretty good and a worthwhile addition on the whole. No Jon Lord so there is some synthesizer as well as the organ. Steve Morse's guitar is a little restrained than usual (no heroic guitar solos on this one), and Ian Gillan is quite mannered in his vocals these days - no screaming lung busters, but quite acceptable all the same. His main problem (and the band's) is his lyrics which, with a few exceptions on Machine Head, have always been either feeble, juvenile or both.

The strengths of the band are found in Ian Paice's drumming, Roger Glover's bass and the collective distinctive, DP sound. Still crazily good after all these years, even if a little diluted in 2005.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Many trains and many miles brought you to me (Laura Marling)

We had been in the Dubai Mall during my birthday last Saturday. I had bought three CDs from Virgin.

We had reached the car and I was asking Jacky which of the three she could bare to listen to on the way home (an hour and a half drive).

We have (I said) a melodic prog metal band (Stratovarius); a hard rock band (the Chickenfoot CD of the previous post); or a kind of folky female singer (Laura Marling). Pick one!

A no brainer for Jacky!

We listened in wonder to Laura's second album - I Speak Because I Can - about three times right through on the drive home.

It's a rare, rare piece of music that captures both of us. Bon Iver's first album is the only one that comes to mind immediately. So Laura is in very good company.

She is a real original. There are fragmented suggestions of iconoclasts like Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and Patti Smith at times and she is clearly linked to a long English folk song tradition but really this is a fully formed original and timeless new voice.

She has a new album out. Only 10 songs (I love the less is more stance). In an interview in Uncut she said there were three songs that she cut at the last minute because they didn't actually add anything new to the collection that wasn't present in the other 10 songs (something along those lines). Fantastic.

It's been added to the list (along with the first album).

Great (and scary) thing is that she is only 21 years old.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

You've seen all the heavy groups (Grace Slick at Woodstock)


Not an auspicious name is it. Why would someone think that's a great name for a rock band?

I picked up the CD about 5 times and put it back in the racks at the Virgin Megastore in the Dubai Mall before thinking - sod it - I like the individual members so why not.

Those members? Take two guys from Van Halen who are not named Van Halen. So that would be the bassist and lead singer, Michael Anthony and Sammy Hagar. Take the drummer from Red Hot Chili Peppers (Chad Smith) and add the guitar genius that is Joe Satriani and it couldn't fail right?

Well it could.

How many 'supergroups' have bitten the dust in a cloud of too many cooks disappointment over the years? Blind Faith, UK, Them Crooked Vultures, The Firm, Velvet Revolver, Audioslave, Heaven and Hell, Dead Weather, and The Highwaymen are some that have disappointed me in the past.

I haven’t heard Super Heavy yet (Jagger’s super thing) but I don’t hold out high hopes.

On the plus side - super groups have also worked a number of times for me too – Cream, ELP, CSN&Y, Golden Smog, Traveling Wilburys, Journey and Zwan (yes really) have spun my wheels over the years.
And so to Chickenfoot. You can see why I wavered. Would this be a kind of luke warm version of Van Halen? I love Sammy Hagar's vocals but his subject matter and lyrics can be pretty juvenile at times.
The clincher was the name of the fifth member of the band – producer Andy Johns. His track record is beyond dispute.
And woe – does he make a difference. This is one super recorded effort. Clarity and power. A lost art because when I heard this CD for the first time each instrument’s power is right in your face without any clutter. I realized how much I miss this sound. It's amazing.
The verdict is out – forget the stoopid name and treat yourself to some old fashioned rawk!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Every sha-la-la-la, every wo-wo-wo still shines (The Carpenters)

Greg's blog talked about the radio the other day and this got me thinking about great songs that are about the radio.

I love songs about the radio. Here are my top five:

1Yesterday Once More (The Carpenters)

(keep watching for an oldies medley)

2 Overnight Sensation (The Raspberries)

(beware the long title intro)

3 Caravan (Van Morrison)

4 Crusin' Music (The Raspberries)

5 On The Radio (Donna Summer) (it was a toss up for 5th place between this and Joni's You Turn Me On, I'm a Radio which is also great from the title on down but Donna's hystrionics won the day)
Surprised that my favourite is Yesterday Once More (The Carpenters)? I was a little bit too, because, really - the Carpenters?

Never cool, always the other side of twee thanks to Richard Carpenter's hair and shocking dress sense (and vocals!), and something of a guilty pleasure.

But they had a secret weapon. Karen Carpenter's voice. A thing of beauty it was to be sure.

The Raspberries were just a great Badfinger style Beatles influenced group (with a Who obsession as well). These two songs acknowledge how much they loved the radio and specifically how much they loved hearing themselves on the radio. I like this idea that they are also music fans (same with the Carpenter's song).

Same goes with Van the man. I love this ode to the radio - turn it up indeed!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Rocking the boat and unrolling the note (Roy Harper)

A work colleague asked me recently, when looking at my CD collection, what my current favourite was.

I couldn't think of any one fav at the time, maybe because I was trying to think of something current.

But then, when I thought about it afterwards, I realised that I have been playing two CDs pretty much every day since I got back from holiday.

Not only that but I've been listening to them on and off since I first heard them in the late 70s.

I'm talking about Roy Harper's Stormcock and Keith Jarrett's The Koln Concert.

I have old cassette tape copies of each one and I found CD versions of them in the UK and France on my recent holiday.

Each album has four tracks on it that link to each other thematically and musically. None of which will ever be played on the radio so they won't ever feature on Gregarious' blog of the seventies. The instrumentation is pretty sparse on each one. Jarrett is playing solo on his piano. Harper is largely singing and playing acoustic guitar. Curiously, it is the only album in their respective catalogues that does it for me too. I have tried but these two are special because they each reveal a degree of individual brilliance and passion and connectiveness that is missing in their other albums for me.

My cassette of Stormcock was recorded by me from a mate's album in the late 70s. He had a lot of Genesis and Harper albums that he wanted me to tape for him (no idea why) and of all the albums he gave me to record only Stormcock shone through with it's brilliance.

Roger Marbeck gave me a cassette recording of the Koln Concert. I never would have listened to it otherwise. Solo piano and a double album?? No way! I think it was part of a large number of cassettes he didn't want anymore. There was some good stuff in the pile but Jarrett's concert was the one that stuck.

With both albums it doesn't matter how many times I hear them, I always hear something new. I think this will continue to be the case.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Here's to the dawn of their days (Joan Baez)

I have spent a large portion of today trawling through my 6 CD box set of Woodstock (40th Anniversary version). It's a glorious way to spend the day (Fridays in the Middle East being a particular slow day and Ramadan means no cafes until 8pm) .

I managed to get the set from Fives in Leigh-on-Sea for a great price. I'd seen it at The Virgin Mega-store in the Mall of the Emirates (Dubai) for 700 dirhams (about $240NZ or 120 pounds) but that seemed a lot so I thought I'd wait and see if I could get it in the UK. It's not like it wouldn't be there when I returned from holiday at 700 dirhams right?

So - we went to London and then Paris and no one had it. Not Virgin, or HMV or FOPP. They all told me it would be tough to find as it came out in 2009. If I could find one, it was listed at 75 pounds - a lot cheaper than in Dubai, so I kept looking.

Until we went to Leigh-on-Sea for a day trip. Of course Fives had one. I gave a run down of my search in vain to the lady who owns and runs Fives and she said, "You mean like that one up there?", pointing to the collection of box sets on the wall!

My heart was beating fast as I asked her how much?

"52 pounds", she replied!

And it's fantastic. Tons of tracks not on any other version and some old favourites like Sweet Sir Galahad that appeared on the Woodstock 2 double album.

I love this song (a rare Joan Baez original) and I always think that line "but oh, was I born too late?" relates to me somehow, with my fascination for an event that took place when I was 11 in Nu Zild, a country so different to 1969 America that we might as well have lived on a different planet in a different solar system!

Joan Baez is an acquired taste and her warble can irrate me at times but her singing on this song is divine.

Go to you tube via the link for a Woodstock treat.

or else play this one from the Smother Brothers TV show:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The shadow play (Rory Gallagher)

A big celebration to note this week - the hurrah/ wahoo is for the release of Adam's new collection of music under his Bambino moniker. It's called Cold Wood Burn and you can download it here:

I urge you to take the trouble to download and listen. Here are some review comments from an unbiased source (i.e not me)

This new release pretty much refines the trademark ‘Bambino sound’ that was established on Monitors, covering some familiar ground while exploring some new directions as well.   

There is a good amount of variety in the tracks which makes for an interesting listen from start to finish. The range of vocal stylings (singing, rapping, speaking, sampled voice) give additional flavour to each track and deliver a sense of diversity that blurs the very definition of instrumental music where voice becomes simply another proponent of mood and/or melody. At first I thought this might make the changes between tracks seem a bit jarring but it’s all integrated quite seamlessly and bound together by the uniform production values. Overall there’s a lot of atmosphere, I like the deep reverbs and textures in parts. 

The speaking on ‘My Brother’ is really cool, normally I cringe a bit at spoken word in a New Zealand accent but this was perfect, intense but not over worked. I love the lyrics, made especially powerful by the dissonance of the (amplified/overdriven?) keys. Great track.Probably my favourite aspect of the album has been just putting it on and letting it run, there is a style and atmosphere to it which is not only enjoyable to listen to but above all, unique. 

There you have it - go take a listen!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What do you get when you fall in love? (Isaac Hayes)

I'm back in Al Ain with my horde of CDs from the trip to UK and France.

I've written already about the sad, and increasing, trend for CD stores to wither and die, but I did have success as well as the disappointment of finding favourite stores closed down.

I managed to knock a few titles off my wants list: Keith Jarrett's Koln Concert and Riverside (Virgin Megastore France); Josh T Pearson and the 6 CD Woodstock box set (Fives in Leigh-on-Sea); DJ Shadow (FOPP in London) and Symphony X (HMV in Oxford St) were some of the harder to find things. Other titles that I can't get in Dubai or Abu Dhabi like the latest from Bon Iver, Wild Beasts and Fleet Foxes were also in the haul.

I'm working through the purchases and so far only one dud to report - Billy Cobham's Shabazz. And even then - maybe not a dud. When I put it on Jacky hated it so I whipped it out of the machine to try in the car sometime when she's not around.

I was amazed to find a lot of live archival CDs by bands like Jefferson Airplane on my travels. [Maybe a niche to explore. I know there is a website that just has old convert tapes to download]. One of my favourite all time albums is their 30 Seconds Over Winterland. I found a double live CD by JA at Winterland in 1972 that I've had on repeat for days.

It's not brilliantly recorded but it does shine a light on some neglected back catalogue jems from Long John Silver and Bark. It's great to hear Paul Kantner and Grace Slick soar through songs like When The Earth Moves Again (from Bark). Their voices combine so well! Amazingly Jack Cassidy gets the biggest cheer from the fans!

I'm currently grooving to Black Moses by Isaac Hayes. Another great (under rated) vocalist. The dude could really sing!!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Well it's a brimful of Asha on the 45 (Cornershop)

I'm a tad depressed. I'm in London, having just been in Edinburgh. These should be the music capitals of the world right? Music stores all over the place filled with lashings of CDs and DVDs. Right? Because they always have been.

Sadly - they are not!!!

The Virgin Mega Stores are long gone. HMVs are closing down as I write - there is only one left on Oxford St. these days. The large FOPP in Edinburgh has been closed and a small one in Rose St. is a pale shadow of what it should be - mainly because FOPP has been taken over by HMV and it shows. The six Avalanche stores in Edinburgh have now become one store.

The situation is dire and will only get worse for music lovers like me who love browsing the bins.

Here's how dire: for the last two weeks, I have been looking for a new CD by Josh T Pearson that Mojo has reviewed with album-of-the-year style notices. I have also been looking for Keith Jarrett's Koln concert CD. It's a jazz landmark and I need to replace my old recorded cassette version.

I have tried everywhere - all the big and small HMVs, all the big and small FOPPs. Nada, zip, zilch, nuttin. There is only one thing I can do - go online.

And there you have the demise of record shops. Most people, these days, if they are going to buy a CD at all are going to maybe (big maybe) go to an HMV. One. Not there? Okay - let's try online. Done deal. All over rover.

Okay - enuf misery.  There have been some successes and I will be returning to the desert with a lot of great finds.

And the good thing is that vinyl is still around. Imagine my delight and surprise when I entered the FOPP near Tottenham Court Rd to find a 45 by Beady Eye. Fab - I snapped that up. Okay - only 2 tracks and it cost £4 but it had to be done.

In Keswick I stumbled on a vinyl treasure trove at a collectables' shop. Not only that but there was a large number of Zappa titles - including a mint copy of 200 Motels. I don't have it, it's managed to be elusive, so it was a £30 pound bargain in my eyes. Trouble is I have to wait until I return to my belongings in NZ at some point in the future to actually play them. Before that we'll need to buy a house to unpack it in - details, details.

Tomorrow we are off to Paris. I don't hold out much hope of adding to the collection there but I am forever optimistic.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

So pack your toys away...your 45s're moving out today (Carole Bayer Sager)

We are moving apartments in Al Ain. From one side of town to the other.

Why? Short version - we are the only people continuing on contract in our old apartment (called 'Gardens') so it's not being renewed by my company and we are being moved to a new building (called 'Yellow Jimi' coz it's in Al Jimi district and painted yellow).

It's great! I love the change of skins. It means re-evaluating my DVD and music collection that has built up since we arrived in Al Ain last November. Ultimately our stuff will need to be shipped back to Nu Zild next year so I only want to ship good stuff home.

I've decided to be tough on myself and sift out the non essentials, then bin them (this is the tough bit - I normally recycle unwanted CDs to second hand outlets but these don't exist in the UAE). I hate having to throw away CDs and books but it has to be done. The weeding out process means only the strong survive and my collection is all the better for it.

So far the list includes some Fiona Apple, Lady Gaga (her latest one stinks like yesterday's diapers), early Lacuna Coil, Drive By Truckers and others.

Inevitably there is always a 10CC album that gets binned. For some reason I buy 10CC albums at regular intervals, thinking I will love them but they turn into massive disappointments. I never learn. Mainly because I love about four of their songs (The Dean and I, Rubber Bullets and the two listed below) and I am forever optimistic that they will be able to sustain that kind of quality over an album.

Latest hopeful victim was The Original Soundtrack. Two great tracks, I'm Not In Love and Life Is A Minestrone and the rest - bleugh.

I'm not sure why. They had Graham Gouldman in the band and he'd written some staggering songs that the Yardbirds took control of - Heart Full Of Soul, For Your Love and he did quality stuff like Bus Stop and Look Through Any Window for the Hollies. Eric Stewart has a great voice and Creme and Godley are clever clogs. In the end - two clever by half (haha).

They shoulda/coulda/woulda but, for me, they did nae fulfil their potential.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hear yer head a-banging on the door (Oasis)

Liam and Noel Gallagher's band, Oasis, broke up their soap opera existence a while ago (2009) and the brothers now find themselves in opposing camps.

Liam is an iconoclastic front man (even though he sings with his hands behind his back and his head tilted up so that he's singing to the pigeons on the enormo-stadium roof) and Noel is the iconoclastic guitarist and songwriter (Liam's songs are pretty naff).

Now Liam fronts Oasis without Noel - same members but now called Beady Eye (a really naff band name) while Noel is going solo with an album coming out in October (why so long?). I bought the Beady Eye album like I've bought all the Oasis albums on release. I've only listened to it once right through so far. It's okay but the Mojo review was full of unjustified praise. It's an okay Oasis lite album (I'd slot it in about 9th equal place in my favourite Oasis album list with their last two studio albums).
  • (What's the Story) Morning Glory? (1995)
  • Heathen Chemistry (2002)
  • Be Here Now (1997)
  • Definitely Maybe (1994)
  • Masterplan (1998)
  • MTV Unplugged (Noel solo) (1996)
  • ...There and Then (1996)
  • Standing on the Shoulder of Giants (2000)
  • Beady Eye (2011)
  • Dig Out Your Soul (2008)
  • Don't Believe the Truth (2005)
As you can tell I am inclined towards the Noel camp, although both of them can be pretty obnoxious. However, anyone who writes songs like Wonderwall and Don't Look Back In Anger gets my vote. They both make good copy though and their interviews are always worth reading.

The sibling rivalry aspect is pretty interesting. At the end of the day blood is thicker than water but you wouldn't know it from the way brothers have tiffs in bands.

Dire Straits, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Kinks are three that immediately spring to mind. In each one a dominant song writing brother, who was the main singer (Mark Knopfler, John Fogerty, Ray Davies) outshone and clashed with the other guitarist brother (David Knopfler, Tom Fogerty, Dave Davies). Egos went into overdrive and being stuck together in a pressure cooker environment and having a baseline of sibling rivalry clearly added up to a potent brew.

In the Gallagher's case it turned ugly early on and ended in violence. Not a good recipe for sustained success.

I'm looking forward to Noel's solo album. In the meantime I'll have another listen to Beady Eye.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

You introduced me, to my mind (Black Sabbath)

Nothing sums up my naivety more than this track. Of course, it is obvious to me now that this song is celebrating Ozzie's love of marijuana but I was a naive young 13 year old guy when I bought the Master Of Reality album and gazed at the long haired heavy metaller young gods lounging around a tree!

The song itself was a revelation to me at that seminal time. I loved playing it loud and the guitar riff burrowed its way into my skull over repeat listenings. Perfect air guitar fodder.

I have two memories that (maybe) reveal the ignorance/naivety of my teachers and parents.

During the fifth form, I had to do a speech at school for English, and I chose to do it on my musical discoveries (by then I had a sizeable collection and it was an obvious choice of topic). I threaded up my dad's reel to reel and used Sweet Leaf as a key track. My teacher was impressed and asked me to repeat my speech - obviously he didn't get the real intent behind the lyrics either.

The other memory is of my parents dragging me out of my bedroom at 18 Korma Rd., during a party they were hosting, to play Sweet Leaf to their friends. I did so (at some volume). I guess everyone was suitably amused and I went back to my room armed with party food. My parents (and I) never indulged in drugs so this wasn't a knowing wink to anything!

The technology has moved on in the intervening years and now I can add the track to my blog. Live versions don't do it I'm afraid. Even the rough Live At Last version is a pale shadow of the behemoth that roared out of one my first (and best) ever purchases.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Rolling in the deep (Adele)

I am fascinated, obsessed, forever interested in the Woodstock festival of 1969.

It all began with the trailer before a movie I watched it 1970 when I was 13. I have no idea what the actual movie was that I saw because all I could think about was the incredible new world of long hair, hippie chicks, nudity and freaky music that I had just had a tantalisin glimpse of. BTW - said trailer is no where to be found on youtube - just a corporate sell for the Blu Ray edition. Sad.

I've recently read a couple of books on the festival, got Santana's full set on CD and bought the 4 DVD director's cut edition. Woodstock definitely has legs. I for one, can't get enough.

Speaking of youtube - it has some cool clips from performances that haven't made the triple vinyl soundtrack, the Woodstock II double vinyl soundtrack, the director's cut DVD or the compilation soundtrack CDs that have appeared over the years.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Scooter and the big man bust this city in half (Scooter)

1975, aged 18, in the sixth form at Mount Albert Grammar - I'm driving in my (mum's) car, I turn on the radio, I was riding alone through the drizzling rain, trying to look so hard, and a transistor blasts, I turn around the corner and things got real quiet real fast.

It's a wild song playing and I'm transfixed - turns out to be Born To Run by someone called Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

Aarrrgghhhh it's so good. The lyrics capture me, the driving drums get my body moving, the mid song count down hooks me, and the sax sound - always the sax sound. The Big Man on saxophone.

Clarence - you had a hold on me right from the start, a grip so tight I couldn't tear it apart.

Sadly the Big Man is no more than a plaintive saophone wail now, maybe that  one at the end of Jungleland. Who'll ease the sadness, who's gonna quiet the pain?

The answer is, of course, Clarence and the Boss will quiet the pain - with their song with the funky break.

It started here:

And it ends where it begins. Thanks Clarence and so long, sometimes you just gotta walk on, walk on.