Friday, April 29, 2011

You're a bad dog baby (Gilbert O'Sullivan)

My friend Gregarious recently posted on Leo Sayer on his seventies blog (link on the left column) and it reminded me of the deep dislike I have always had for Leo Sayer. It also reminded me of my soft spot for Gilbert O'Sullivan.

Eh? I hear you say. But they are peas in a pod. How can you love one and dislike the other?

Seventies singer-songwriters with naff names (Gilbert? Leo?), big Richard Simmons hair, a penchant for cringe inducing songs (Oh wakka doo wakka day anyone?) and very non rock n roll images (Leo's suspenders and Gilberts sweaters with a big G on them - I rest my case).

But to me - one was cooler (Gilbert) than the other. Why? One reason really.

Get down.

Get Down is so stoopid and prescient it's almost early punk/ early Norwegian death metal.

Who am I trying to kid! It's a guilty pleasure (it turns up on Vol 2 after all) shared by a few saddos like me who bought the Guilty Pleasures albums).

But it's really infectious and it stays on my ipod because I feel good whenever I hear it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Yellow River is in my blood, it's the place I love (Christie)

This is the first song I really, really fell in love with. This and San Bernadino.

The video is a classic - clearly they had a sense of humour filming this on the muddy old Thames when they had 3 mins spare while on tour.And check out those mutton chops!

Yellow River's lyrics are all about the hook - which for me was this magical name/place Yellow River. Those two words in conjunction sound great. My mind was free to conjure up a town and place that this guy was trying to get back to after a war (Vietnam was topical but this harks back to an earlier conflict like the American Civil War with its allusion to 'cannon fire').

At the time (1970) I had yet to develop my cultural love affair with all things American. Maybe this, and San Bernadino, started that mythic journey into American culture for me. I developed in the seventies a fascination for what was happening in Vietnam; American films (westerns when I was growing up like Villa Rides, Eldorado and The Scalphunters); poetry (Robert Bly, Allen Ginsberg and Walt Whitman); and music (Woodstock sent me off into a delirium that still has hold of me).

I'm well and truely over the love affair with American culture now (blame Gangsta Rap, vacuous celebrities, and an endless parade of musical dross over the last two decades).

Yellow River has all the right ingrediants for me - simple story, guitars, it's short , has enough variety in it's structure, and it has a hook. Call it power pop!


I have very few OH MY GOD moments these days, but I've JUST had one!

I went to wikipedia to find out more about Christie and was blown away. For the last 43 years I've thought they were an American band - had to be - civil war, Yellow River is an American place name - gotta be!

Nope! They were from England!! Not only that - but Jeff Christie was from bloody LEEDS. A Yorkshireman! Holy heck fire!

I'm stunned. Thanks wikipedia.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I got my own world to look through and I ain't gonna copy you (Jimi Hendrix)

The guy described by Tom Moon in that last posting was, of course - James Marshall Hendrix.

Jimi is still everywhere. New product keeps on coming from Janie Hendrix and the Hendrix estate at regular intervals. His image is still everywhere - T shirts and such.

And his influence is everywhere too. When I listen to anything with an electric guitar doing somersaults I hear  echoes of Jimi.

I bought the new Mojo in Dubai on the weekend and Bootsy Collins is interviewed to support his new album. Bootsy's all time top 5 leads off with the great If 6Was 9 and his new album even has a Hendrix spoken word sample on it!

My Hendrix experience began when I was about 13 with a single (Stone Free backed with If 6 Was 9) and the Live At The Isle Of Wight single vinyl album. This was music from another place. I gazed at the cover forever and made a huge poster of Hendrix based on the Filmore East cover. It was a forever part of my teenage bedroom in white NZ suburbia.

Forty years later and I'm still buying his work (the teenage bedroom posters are long, long gone).

I recently bought a Hendrix DVD - his appearances on The Dick Cavett Show - and he is sick and tired and absolutely electrifying!

I also recently bought another of the Hendrix's-final-studio-album-as-he-intended-it CDs. I've lost count of how many of these have come out but Valleys Of Neptune is as fraudulent as the others (I still love my Cry Of Love vunyl album though).

Valleys Of Neptune even contains versions of Stone Free, Hear My Train A Comin' and Red House. Although they are great their inclusion is disingenious (at best). And would Jimi have really included a version of Sunshine Of Your Love on a new studio album? I think not!

Let's call it what it is - a cash in and be up front. It STILL contains some great music, by the way. No one ever has or will match his guitar sound.

Friday, April 15, 2011

I'm goin' way down south, way down to Mexico way (The Leaves)

I'm reading a collection of mini essays by Tom Moon at the moment. The writing is collected in a volume called, 1000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die. A cheery title - part of the series of 1000 things to do etc that are currently in vogue. I can recommend this one though. Tom baby writes really well.

Check this out for a description:

Inside his playing is a concentrated expression of abandon, freedom seeking, the embodiment of every psychedelic desire.

Who's he talking about do you think?

A clue is hidden in the title above.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The joint is jumpin' all around me (Rory Gallagher)

My friend GK asked on his blog (seventies music) about first concert experiences and I posted a reply along the lines of - I'm more a listening guy than a watching guy. That is I prefer recorded sounds to the live concert experience. One of my earlier posts listed my favourite live albums.

I don't actually remember the first gig that I attended but I do have some that remain in my consciousness.

Hands down favourite gig for me is always going to be Rory Gallagher at the Auckland Town Hall in 1980. Even then I was a long term Rory fan (Irish Tour has always been a firm favourite) and he did not disappoint. He was touring behind his latest album - Top Priority and I'd been thrashing it to death throughout 1979 so I knew the songs and I knew the back catalogue. I was in a balcony seat and the whole place was jumping with excitement. An amazing show from a guitar genius who, you could tell, just lived and breathed music. The subsequent live album from that tour, 1980's Stage Struck, was a faithful reproduction of how exciting he was in concert.

The best of the rest:

Another top guitarist - George Thorogood - with the Delaware Destroyers. Also at the Town Hall. Same fever pitch feeling of connection with what was happening on stage.

Streettalk/ Split Enz at the old His Majesty's Theatre in the company of GK and his brother - Mike. Hammond Gamble played a fantastic version of the Rory song - A Million Miles Away and I was sold! The Enz did a terrific show as well with all the audience singing along. My memory has lumped this into one concert (with Golden Harvest) but maybe it was a series of events at the Theatre. Not sure.

Sonny Terry/Brownie McGhee at Nambassa - I was in the front few rows - close enough to see these guys sweat. Sonny and Brownie were old and gnarled (I remember them both being supported onto the stage) but they played a terrific set.

After hours/Waves - at The Old Maidment (Auckland University). GK and I went to this. An abiding memory is the pungent dope spell before we went in. It was a great concert and we were especially taken by After Hours with Geoff Chunn before Citizen Band days.

I have mixed memories of concerts at Western Springs. Pink Floyd (with Jacky) were good to great,and Rolling Stones (with friends Roger and Deirdre Marbeck) were past their peak but still sprightly enough during the Voodoo Lounge era. These were the pick of them at this venue.

Friday, April 8, 2011

We left town with the rock show (Lady Gaga)

One of my old friends has started a blog on the music he loves - all from the age of his adolescence. In his case the seventies.

This is as it should be, of course. Because due to an freakish accident of birth we all have a narrow period when music of a certain type seeps into our soul and there's no shifting it. Lennon's period was 50's rockers like Elvis BTA (before the army) and Jerry Lee Lewis (for Lennon no one ever improved on Whole Lotta Shakin Goin' On). My wife is a generation younger than me and her musical connection is to the 80's (Duran Duran; Human League).

Mine is late 60's and 70's (Beatles - my earliest musical memory is watching them on the Ed Sullivan Show when it screened in NZ; Woodstock; Black Sabbath; Led Zep; Deep Purple; Rory Gallagher; Zappa; and all the other bands and soloists pictured down the left of this blog).

We all continue to love various songs and acts throughout the subsequent years, but it is those adolescent songs that act like barbs under the skin, that we can't shake - nor do we want to shake them because they rekindle some important formative memories when we hear them again years later.

Greg's seventies blog is right down my alley then and is hugely recommended. The link is in my blogroll.

My children also have their periods of musical connection. For Keegan (born 1984 so we're talking 90's) it will probably be Rammestein, Cannibal Corpse, Moby and for Adam (also 90's) the Wu Tang Clan will definitely be in the mix somewhere (even though I played him Beach Boys records when he was in the womb). Not so sure about Samantha (born 1989 so 2000's) and Jade (born 1991 so also the noughties). These latter times are download eras so everything is up for grabs. Jade is currently listening to Sinatra a lot so go figure.

Adam has put out another CD of his original music recently and it's damned good if I may add a completely impartial, objective opinion. If you are keen to sample - his nom de music is Bambino and the album is called Monitors.

Love and peace - Wozza

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Over the bridge of sighs to rest my eyes in shades of green (Small Faces)

Well well well - what's this then? Wozza learning the guitar? Well yes - I believe it is!

Based on the theory that it's never too late to learn (rather than the maxim that you can't teach an old dog new tricks) I recently bought a guitar from a music shop in Dubai, with my son Adam's help. It was the music shop in the Dubai Mall. Sadek Music I think it's called.

It's just a basic classic guitar. I also bought, on a subsequent visit, a nifty little tuning device that I can use and an Idiot's Guide to Playing The Guitar book from the music section in that huge bookshop in the Dubai Mall.

Now the tricky bit - learning to play it!!

So far I'm doing the warm up exercises and trying to get my fingers used to where the frets are and where the strings are! It's tricky but the Eddy Ate Dynamite, Good Bye Eddie little memory device tells me where the strings are (EADGBE) from top to bottom.

I'll keep you posted on my progress via the blog - that way I have incentive to keep progressing.

Love and peace - Wozza