Sunday, 31 March 2013

Sunday Sessions: Header



Here's a great song from a now-obscure Perth band who shone brightly and briefly in 1996.

They left behind one great LP "On High Street" and a couple of great singles, of which this is one.

Stylistically they had a retro yet modern grunge sound with heaps of melody attached. They sounded a little bit like Bob Mould, a little bit like Teenage Fanclub and, I didn't realise it until I saw the video for the first time the other night, they looked one hell of a lot like Oasis. I was pretty horrified to see that actually - the clip looked like a recreation of the "Definitely Maybe" LP cover.

Still, despite the fact they folded in 1997, this song still rocks. Enjoy today's Sunday Session: "Restoration" by Header.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Pollyanna's "Lemonsuck"

I've been listening to a heap of the new Australian digital radio stations recently. We don't get digital radio in this area mind you, but you can listen to them all via the interwebs.

One station that has caught my ear is a Melbourne station called Aussie Digital. You can listen to it here. They play all Australian music all the time. You can't really go wrong with idea, I reckon. I turned it on this morning and the one song that jumped out of the speakers at me was this one: Lemonsuck by Pollyanna.

I'll talk more about Pollyanna on here in a later post. For now, I wanted to share the music with you. Enjoy!

Friday, 29 March 2013

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Remake/Remodel #1: Manfred Mann does Springsteen

This is the first of a new ongoing series of posts about covers - remakes, or remodels of songs first written and/or performed by other artists.

First off the bat is South-African born keyboard player Manfred Mann.

Manfred Mann started making a name for himself in the London Jazz scene in the early 1960s, but he formed a pop group and was swept up in the whole British Invasion of the 1960s.

That was all good except, as a jazz performer, he was more used to improvising, or spontaneously creating his music, not actually consciously composing it. The Beatles changed the game and wrote their own hits. Other groups were soon expected to do the same.

Manfred's band did a lot of covers. They were probably most famous for doing Bob Dylan covers, and over the last 50 years of music recordings, he's recorded stacks of Dylan songs. Indeed, Mr Dylan himself has said (in the 1960s sometime) that of all the bands that have recorded his songs, he likes Manfred Mann's the best.

The original pop band went through two incarnations before folding in late 1968. He then formed an avant garde jazz rock band called Manfred Mann Chapter Three for two low selling LPs of original material, before reincarnating once again in a more streamlined Jazz/Progressive Rock quartet called Manfred Mann's Earth Band in 1971. Earth Band is arguably Manfred's most successful incarnation and musically the most satisfying, in my view. They again recorded many Dylan tunes, scattered throughout their voluminous discography.

However, in 1976 they raised the ire of Springsteen fans when they had a hit with "Blinded By The Light". Bruce Springsteen had had a major hit the year before with "Born To Run", but there were a number of fans who were there from the get-go, with some treasuring the first Springsteen album with almost God-like renown. Those who love the "Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J." album hated Earth Band's cover with a passion.

It would probably disturb them to know that the Earth Band actually recorded three of the nine tracks on Bruce's debut. Only "Blinded By The Light" was a hit, and it was a radical recasting of the original to the point where the two versions hardly resemble each other.

The other tracks they attempted were "Spirits in the Night", which they did twice with two different vocalists (the first version with Mick Rogers singing was better) and "For You". The two versions of "Spirits" are identical except for the vocal track and they are very similar to the original. However, it was more rhythmically regimented and lacked the boozy swing of the original.

"For You", on the other hand, slows down the tempo and tightens the arrangement significantly, making more powerful and forceful than the original. Bruce's version, to my ears, sounds like a band playing too fast for its own abilities and that they are falling over themselves trying to keep up. Earth Band's version focuses on the power of the lyric and backs it up with a crunching rhythm that is goose-bump-inducing.

See for yourself and tell me which one you prefer. Here below is the original of "For You" by Bruce Springsteen, and the Earth Band remake.

For me, as much as I liked the original, the remake is my favourite.



Wednesday, 27 March 2013

TSATF Recommdends: Melbourne Ska Orchestra


image source: themusic.com.au


Judging by the picture, you'd assume this is a band that believes in the dictum "the more, the merrier". Judging by the amazingly euphoric, joyous and happy sound they make, the assumption is totally correct.

The band is called the Melbourne Ska Orchestra. They're not exactly about to win the award for the "Most Creative Band Name". Then again, they do what it says on the package: There's anywhere between 25 and 30 members (that qualifies as a bit more than just a band to me), they play ska (well, duh!) and they're from...

...wait for it...

...Melbourne!!!

I discovered this album by means of a happy accident. I was browsing through a Spotify playlist I'd subscribed to and the MSO was on this list, so I checked them out on a whim. The first track was a stellar funky interpretation of the "Get Smart" theme and that was it for me - I knew I had to play the entire record cover to cover.

If fun and joy could be tangibly correlated, it would sound like MSO. Their tight, sharp, bouncy arrangements leave plenty of room to breathe. 30 musicians can make for some very crowded music at times, but this is one act that avoids that problem. The music is executed with a lack of pretense. It is music created by a group of like-minded people for the fun of it, as opposed to self-inflating their egos.

No matter what is happening, you just can't help but smile while you're listening to this music. The Sound and the Fury Podcast heartily recommends the Melbourne Ska Orchestra.

Below is their brand new self-titled debut album. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Novel Playlist #3: Steven Tyler


Image source: Entertainment Weekly.

Vocalist for Aerosmith and American Idol judge Steven Tyler has a birthday today (26th March). So it is timely that I present to you the soundtrack to his autobiographical memoir "Does the Noise In My Head Bother You?"

This playlist contains 138 songs named in the book, including many songs that Aerosmith made famous, tracks from his previous band Chain Reaction, and many of the songs he grew up listening to.

You do not have to have read the book to enjoy the music. However this playlist provides a fascinating insight into the man, his music and his influences.

Enjoy!

Monday, 25 March 2013

Robbie Williams, Suede and Britpop

Robbie Williams has made a name in the music press again recently, allegedly slagging off most of the Britpop bands that emerged around the same time his solo career took off.

He was responding to comments made by Suede singer Brett Anderson, a vocalist with a similar loose tongue when speaking to the press. Robbie listed by name most of the British bands who created vital and amazing music during the 1990s. He seems to forget that they were (and still are) his peers who, with the help of the music press, created a scene that allowed him a place to exist in, and afforded him some credibility that otherwise would not have been afforded to him.

He writes, and I quote:

"ANY QUARTER-DECENT 3 CHORD KNOBHEADS COULD AND DID GET A DEAL IN THE 90'S …"


...and as if your music is soooo much more listenable than that of, say, Kula Shaker and Sleeper, Mr Williams?

Not casting aspersions on the man or his work, but Britpop was a scene that was sorely needed in the 1990s, by all accounts. According to BBC6Music's documentary "Don't Look Back In Anger - The Story of Britpop", in the wake of grunge a wave of pensive, moody adolescent melancholy from America descended over the music world and most Britons just didn't relate to that (ironic given the depressing weather over there). But, at the same time, there seemed to be no vibrant new British music to combat this. The Stone Roses has disappeared, The Happy Mondays were becoming a self-parody, the Rave scene was drying up by the end of 1992 and there seemed to be little more on the horizon.

Enter Robbie Williams and his vapid boy-band Take That. There was a dearth of these awful bands at the time, and they had no credibility in music circles. I Think their lack of cred was due to the manufactured, "designed for mass consumption and to sell millions of copies" appearance they had. Some people like that sort of thing, and that's OK. I, for one, find that music that is calculated for mass success often leaves me feeling cold and empty (more on that in a later post).

Once Robbie was sacked from Take That, he created his own solo career out of some classy and well polished grown-up pop music. It seemed to slot in with the other Britpop bands, and it certainly was marketed as such with other bands of that nature in places outside of Britain. The UK music press actually reviewed his albums favourably and they sold in massive quantities. He was held in similar esteem for a time as his more lauded-indie peers. His performances on stage were stellar, so I'm told. Although, according to CDNow.com he "he invests each track with an energy many of them don't deserve." And quite often, the drug use and his sometimes-delusional egotism seep through in his work.

He seems to forget that the Britpop scene reignited a passion for British music, both at home and around the world. Stacks of amazing records were made; some were rightly celebrated, some were cruelly ignored. Robbie's albums received plenty of respect when they may not have always deserved to. His comments on his blog sound like, to me, as if he is placing himself above others who had worked hard not only to get where they were, but to make British music respectable again. Most of the bands he named did so without an eye on the money, but in the name of creating great music - the money and fame was a bonus. Those bands well and truly achieved their aim with the purest of intentions. What was your motivation, Mr Williams, the money or the music?

In my opinion, I think it was the former. Whatever his reasoning, he needs to remember that Britpop really did him and his solo career a favour. Publicly dissing it in the fashion that he has, he has demonstrated that he really is biting the hand that feeds him.

Further reading:

Brett Anderson from Suede and his original comments that Robbie reacted to

Britpop Band Menswear react to Robbie's criticism

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Sunday Sessions: Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon



This week, for Sunday Sessions, I have decided to mark the 40th anniversary of the release of Pink Floyd's most successful album "The Dark Side of the Moon", which occurs today.

Like The Beatles' "Sgt Pepper..." there's not a lot one can write objectively about this album.  It's already been said, or anything else is tainted with rose-coloured bias.  As user comusduke wrote in their review of the album on RateYourMusic.com any new writing about the album generally falls into one of two categories: either anecdotes or personal reflections.  

So I ask this question instead: Where were you when you first heard "Dark Side of the Moon"? Maybe you've never heard it?  Maybe you've been curious about listening and want to know more.

In this writer's opinion, it is definitely worth hearing at least once, from start to finish, in a comfy chair, and with a decent pair of headphones preferrably.  

That's how I heard it at 14, in 1990 when I purchased a second hand vinyl copy for $1 at a neighbour's garage sale.  At the end of the entire 40 minute experience, suffice to say: Little. Teenage. Mind. Blown.  This album is not only on my shortlist of the 100 albums that changed my life, it's probably a contender for a spot in the top 10.

Until that point, I'd played the album a couple of times.  I heard it in year 6, age 11, in my uncles' tape collection.  Aside from the track "Money", I hated it.  On tape, you can't see when the tracks are, so I couldn't work out where the songs began and ended (they're all joined together with no silence between them).  With an ear to the local FM radio stations while in high school, I'd heard bits and pieces of the record.  I knew it was on the LP charts in the US for an unbroken 741 week run, but it didn't make sense until I listened to it on vinyl, holding the LP cover in my hands following the lyrics, hearing the sounds swirling around my head.  For some reason, musical ruminations on death, greed and lunacy all make much more sense when you're a disaffected 14 year old...

One of the funniest stories about this album is how it supposedly syncs up with The Wizard of Oz.  I'd heard that story years ago but I'd never been able to test the theory.  Thanks to the technology age and YouTube, now we all can.  Below is the full Dark Side of Oz, with The Wizard of Oz film footage synched with The Dark Side of the Moon.  To find out all the synch points, look here and in the notes of the original video upload on YouTube.

Enjoy!




And here's the original LP for you to listen unfettered by conspiracies about being in sync with yellow brick roads and the like.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Novel Playlist #2: Queen - "As It Began"



This playlist is the soundtrack to "Queen - As It Began", written by Queen fan-club presidents Jacky Gunn and Jim Jenkins.  In my view, it is still the definitive biography of the band, despite it being published in 1993.  To my knowledge, it has not been revised, updated or reprinted.  It is a brilliant summation of the bands career with a short chapter on each of the founding members that leads into how they all crossed paths and formed Queen.

This playlist features 148 songs listed by name in the book, as well as a couple of key artist tracks as bonuses.  Thus, it takes in Queen classics, hit singles, BBC Sessions, Demos, B-Sides and live tracks, plus a few pre-Queen tracks when Roger and Brian were known as Smile.  As well as records that were influential in the formative stages of the band member's lives, it also includes some solo work by the band members, (not all of the band's solo work is available on Spotify, so I've included all I could find), and a good selection of the guest appearances the band made for other artists.

As with all these biography playlists, it is not essential to have read the book to enjoy the music.  However, when reading the book it is a lot of fun to listen to the songs that are referenced in the text, as it adds more context to the narrative.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Novel Playlist #1: Jools Holland's "Barefaced Lies..." Soundtrack




This is the soundtrack to Jools Holland's autobiography "Barefaced Lies and Boogie-Woogie Boasts". This playlist contains 75 of the songs named by Jools in his book. This list contains some of his most treasured favourites as well as his contributions to the work of others, along with favourites from his tenure in Squeeze and his own R'n'B orchestras and ensembles.

Take a listen, and I hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Paul Kelly and Neil Finn Live

On Monday 18th of March Neil Finn and Paul Kelly played the final show of a short tour together, at the Sydney Opera House.  It was streamed live on YouTube.

The set list was a nice mix of old and new with the song choices split roughly 50-50 between the two songwriters.  Neil cherry-picked songs from a number of his former projects - Split Enz, Crowded House, The Finn Brothers and his solo records.  They ended with two covers: Buddy Holly's "Words of Love" and the standard "Moon River".

It was one of those shows that featured a set list where most music fans could sing along to most, if not all of the songs.  It was an event where both lead singers showed tangible mutual respect for each other and each other's artistry.

One particular highlight was when both singers elected a song from the other singer's back catalog and took lead vocal on it.  Paul chose "Into Temptation", a moody offering from the second Crowded House LP.  Neil chose the more obscure song "You Can Leave Your Shoes Under My Bed", and he sang it beautifully.

The two performers were embellished by a number of additional musicians: Paul's nephew Dan on lead guitar, Neil's son Elroy on drums and Zoe Hauptmann on Bass.  As a unit they were tight and managed to pull off the diverse range of material well.  They knew when to rock out ("Deeper Water") and when to empty out an arrangement for effect ("Private Universe").  In fact, on "Private Universe" it was a real treat to hear both Paul and Neil taking turns at singing vocal lines all through the verses.

The acoustics in the concert hall at the Opera House have never been the best and they have never been fixed, so as to what it actually sounded like in the venue is another story.  On YouTube it was professionally filmed and the sound quality was crisp, clean and well balanced.  I'd love to see this released on DVD one day.

Here's some of the promo clips for the show, with Paul singing Neil's "Into Temptation" and the pair of them doing Paul's "Leaps and Bounds".  Enjoy!





The full show can be watched at this YouTube link

Monday, 18 March 2013

The Stone Roses



Manchester's The Stone Roses recently played here in Sydney, ironically at a festival called the "Future Music Festival". Ironic in the sense that the band had their biggest flush of fame in 1989.

The band had a long, slow gestation before hitting it big time in 1989 with their first, self-titled LP. They survived massive amounts of hype from the press in the UK and sold huge amounts of records. In Australia, they didn't fare too well, with only "Fools Gold" selling enough to land it in the top 20.

Musically they were an interesting mix of Beatle-esque jangly guitars, moody introspection a la fellow Mancs The Smiths, coupled with some dance beats from the emerging rave/house music scene. The sweet sounding melodies from vocalist Ian Brown often belied some dark and political lyrics, especially on tracks like "(Song for my) Sugar Spun Sister" and "I Am The Resurrection".

The band fell into legal disputes for a number of years which prevented the follow-up album "Second Coming" from being released until 1994. By then, the band had evolved and changed, but the album was panned by the press at the time because it didn't sound like "Stone Roses Part 2". There were a lot more trad-rock elements in the mix, such as some heavy slide-guitar on "Love Spreads".

The band imploded in 1996 leaving behind a massively convoluted discography. They only made two official albums, but they issued many non-LP singles on small labels, plus heaps of singles in conjunction with their albums that also had essential B-Sides on them. They have been collected on various albums such as "The Complete Stone Roses" but even then, well known versions of songs were substituted for demo versions or the tracks were heavily edited. As it stands, the first period of the band's work on small indie label Silvertone, has been recycled many many times, but the band's second LP has been given short shrift, with no comprehensive reissue or wrap-up of that period available.

The "Second Coming" LP is also a great listen, but be warned: as great as it is, if you compare it to the first record, it sounds disappointing. It is an album that stands on its own merits, but it is quite different from the work the band created before.

If you're a fan, you probably already have all the music as well as the 3 CD collectors reissue of the band's first LP. The Collectors version is on Spotify and it is essential listening throughout, as it pairs up the full original album, plus all the singles and B-Sides as well, in their full unedited versions.

If you've never heard the band before, it's often hard to know where to start. I'd suggest starting here, with The Very Best Of The Stone Roses, which couples the best of the singles and key album tracks from both albums. It's all killer and no filler - it's all essential listening.

Enjoy!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Sunday Sessions: Neil Young and Pearl Jam


In 1993, at the height of the grunge era, the MTV Video Music awards happened and, as expected, a whole heap of alternative rock bands scooped the pool of awards. Pearl Jam don't usually turn up for awards shows, but I'm glad they did this time. They went on stage and performed a song that hadn't been released as of yet, and then, they introduced a special guest...

Once upon a time, Pearl Jam could be intense and fiery, as well as pensive and angsty. In 1993, they were full of sprite and energy. The track they played at the 1993 VMAs was "Animal" which was to appear on their forthcoming second LP "VS". They plowed through the song with their usual fervor, and then they welcome Neil Young to the stage to jam with them. They play Neil's social justice anthem "Rockin' In The Free World", a song from his 1989 LP "Freedom".

It seems like an odd pairing, but in retrospect, Neil had been working semi-regularly with a very grunge-y styled band for about 20 years (by that point) called Crazy Horse. Crazy Horse specialised in massive volume, feedback squalls, long jams and ragged but tight playing. The bands of the 90s grunge movement considered him "The Godfather of Grunge". In this performance, Neil out-grunges Pearl Jam with more noise and feedback than they ever did. The band turned in a solid, thumping performance of the song before Neil puts on a masterclass in amplifier torture that would have made Kurt Cobain jealous. Here's an old troubadour showing the young-uns how it was done, and they loved it.

This pairing was both timely and poignant, as less than 12 months later, the self-deprecating leader of the grunge movement, Kurt Cobain, was quoting lyrics from one of Neil Young's heaviest, grungiest songs ("Hey Hey My My (Into The Black)" from the "Rust Never Sleeps" LP) in his suicide note...

This match-up of young (no pun intended) and old led to a full scale collaboration LP in 1995 called "Mirror Ball" which featured 11 new Neil Young tunes played by Pearl Jam as a backing band. It's too bad that the new material Neil supplied for the album wasn't as strong as "Rockin' In The Free World".

This is Pearl Jam in their prime, playing with a passion that has all but dissipated from the band, both on record and on stage. It's thrilling to watch (it's too bad they didn't play with anywhere near this much energy when I saw them in Sydney in 1998). And then, to see ol' Neil come on and play one of his greatest songs with the band is a real treat. Pearl Jam regularly use this song to close the encore of their stage show. Take a look below.

NOTE: apologies for the poor audio fidelity. The uploader transferred this clip from an old VHS cassette.

Enjoy!

100 LPs Shortlist #31: Noiseworks - "Noiseworks"

Noiseworks - Noiseworks

Noiseworks' first LP was an immediate hit upon its release in 1987. The Sydney based band (with a New Zealand ex-pat vocalist Jon Stevens) had launched onto the scene earlier with a couple of catchy lead-off singles in the form of "No Lies" and "Take Me Back" but had built up a reputation as a solid live band in the pub scene of Sydney.

I thrashed this album when it first came out. The five singles released from the album are still great due to their vibrancy and the quality of the songs. Listening to the record now, it hasn't aged well. It is very 80s in terms of sound and production. While side one of the album is pretty flawless in terms of song choices, there's a couple of flat spots on side two ("Only Loving You", "Edge of Darkness"), and the production is thick and cloudy in parts, and that hampers the power of the songs.

Even by looking at the stark black and white cover, you get the sense that the band have an obsession with one of the biggest and most ubiquitous bands of the time (and who remain so to this day).  When you hear the intro to "Take Me Back", the deal is sealed.  The band's sound is obsessed with the Eno-esque synth-washed and over-processed guitar sound of U2.

The guitarists sound like they have been slavishly copying The Edge's guitar sound by rote for years, and that's not necessarily a good thing. It detracts from their identity, in my view, because the last thing the world needed in 1987, and even now, is another U2. That sound carried over into their second LP "Touch", but by the third album they had moved on and had started to carve a fresh sound for themselves. However, soon after the band imploded, and by 1993 it was all over.

This album was one of the "transition" albums in my collection. After listening to it for years, I appreciate the place it has in my musical development. It has no street cred, it's not regarded in the "cool" category of Australian bands like The Triffids or The Birthday Party, and that's because they made a concerted push to be accessible and not self-consciously "arty". However, it lead me into believing that Australian music is some of the best in the world and that our local scene is worth exploring deeply.

Take a listen for yourselves.

NB: Jon Stevens still has a great voice and he used it for great effect as one of the replacement vocalists for INXS. If INXS had to replace Michael Hutchence, and he did leave huge shoes to fill, in my view Jon could have and should have been the man to do it. He was not quite up there with Michael, but he was pretty close. C'est la vie, I guess...

Friday, 15 March 2013

TSATF Recommends: The Delta Riggs

The Delta Riggs are a great garage rock band out of Melbourne, Australia.  Their debut LP is due in April this year and I can't wait to hear it.

The first single from the forthcoming album is an absolute cracker (even if the video is a little bit suspect!!!).  It's full of stomping riffs and thumping beats.  It's called "Rah Rah Radio" and it comes highly recommended from us here at The Sound and the Fury Podcast.

Check it out below!

Enjoy!

NB: For those at work or those who have sensitive ears, turn the sound down for approx. one second at 1:35 to avoid the "F" bomb.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

R.I.P. Clive Burr


Image Source: parying-mantis.com

Today brings us the news that former Iron Maiden drummer Clive Burr has shuffled off the mortal coil. Not being a big Iron Maiden fan, and only being into a few key tracks, I still took a minute to reflect on his work. He played in Samson before leaving to join Iron Maiden, in which he played on their first three LPs (Iron Maiden, Killers, The Number of the Beast) and then left, for reasons my research has not been able to provide me with.

His passing was due to Multiple Sclerosis, or MS for short. By all accounts, the final stages of MS are horrific and I am glad to say that despite this Clive, by all accounts, kept his spirits up and his humour and battled hard until the end. While knowledge of MS is common, it is still misunderstood, so a small positive of this is that Clive's untimely passing will raise some attention towards the plight of MS sufferers.

He was a great drummer, there's no question of that. Check out his work on a Maiden classic, from 1982: Run To The Hills.

Vale Clive.


Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Reforms of the Australian Media

This week in Parliament, Senator Stephen Conroy is debating reforms to the Australian Media sector. There has been significant debate around the internet and in the media on a number of key platforms in the Senator's legislation, in particular ownership of media outlets, concentration and reach of media outlets, and local content quotas. Now he seems hell bent on declaring ultimatums to Parliament: accept these reforms verbatim or they'll be dumped.

All of these issues have been something I have been passionate about for some time. I have been a passionate advocate of the media and of media diversity, but I have seen TV and Radio in Australia become completely homogenised and cheapened by tabloid fodder and brainless celebrity-based reality stunts. Local content on TV of any quality has been diminishing in both quality and in volume. Commercial radio objects to being forced to play Australian Music. They also believe their content is king, but the vacuous nature of their so-called "content" is a poor second or third priority to advertising revenue and ratings.

I don't begrudge the media outlets their profits. They need to be making money otherwise they will not survive. But when you see major profits in the hundreds of millions, and sometimes billions, of dollars being reported, it's hard to feel sorry for them. Are they reinvesting that money into local talent or just buying cheap imported product in order to keep the money rolling in? I'd suggest the latter.

It's the job of a government department to ensure that media outlets don't just trample over the competition and that they keep standards of broadcasting and content control intact. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has been charged with the job of regulating the industry but it is more like a toothless tiger when it comes to enforcing the rules. If the Senator's reforms give ACMA more power, that will be a bonus.

Media ownership has been the subject of much here-say and conjecture for a long time. The media outlets claim laws preventing them from concentrating ownership as akin to "censorship". I call "bullshit" on that premise. When you have companies like News Limited who have an obvious right-wing-conservative bias, owning more than one media outlet in a market, you run the risk of having a limiting of opinion and bias in reporting. You need to have a diversity of voices in the media, otherwise people run the risk of assuming what they hear is correct and true, when in fact it may be the opposite.

The relaxing of Australian content quotas in the media is particularly worrying. Australian content provides many people with their livelihood, not to mention the fact that there are so many Australian musicians out there that can't get their music played on commercial radio...or on any radio station for that matter.

Commercial radio has been complaining for years that local content quotas are unfair. Indeed, it was Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) CEO Joan Warner who claims that "Australian's don't make 25% of all the music being released, so why would you want to hear 1 in 4 Australian songs on the radio?" Why? Because once upon a time, radio played music on air. And, as we have a vibrant local music scene in this country, why wouldn't you play something locally produced? To say that Australians don't make that much music, then how do you explain the 31,000+ artists who have voluntarily submitted their music on the Triple J Unearthed website? For starters, they're just the bands who think they're Triple J worthy. I'm sure there are heaps who may not have bothered because they play styles of music that are more mainstream. For Joan to say "we can't find 1 in 4 Australian songs" is both ignorant and stupid, not to mention ill-informed. Joan's comments are the exact reason why the quotas are in place to begin with: because commercial radio won't play locally produced music. End of story.

I read recently that certain people in the radio industry actually believe that it is not their job to play Australian music, or to play music in general. They begrudge it because they think that Australian record labels and bands have gotten free publicity for too long and that they now should be paying to have their music played. A comment posted on this Radiotoday.com.au story ("Burned you black" by Dan Bradley) says this:

"Anyone in a record compnay ever think they might do what everyone else does and actually buy some radio advertising to sell thier product." (sic)

This maybe a blatant troll. Let's assume it's not for a minute. Without music on radio, what you have? Gratuitous amounts of ranting and raving old farts being abusive to people in between celebrity interviews and constant advertising and product promotions. Even without that, what are you left with? Yep, that's right: advertising. Who in their right mind is going to listen to a station full of ads?

Then Dan Bradley has the gall to claim that "Radio has the responsibility to support Australian music when it suits the format and where the quality is good enough..." Are you serious? There's more good Australian music out there than there is imported stuff. Major commercial stations just can't be bothered to find it and play it. There is a hell of a lot of crap that is imported and flogged on Commercial radio where an Australian song would be 100 times better than it. Like, hello 2Day-FM! Nicki Minaj and Chris Brown is NOT good music! There's a thousand Aussie musicians who can outclass their crap, but instead the vacuous sensationalist stuff gets flogged to death instead of anything of substance.

Sure there's a disproportionate amount of overseas releases compared to local ones, but how about getting radio programmers to look at the local ones first? Would that kill them? Surely, unless local product falls straight into their lap, they won't go and look for it. And it's not like the radio DJs have a hand in playing and breaking new records anymore. They're just the people who get to talk after the song has finished and push a button here and there. No, all music has to be researched by focus groups and the like, so that it all sounds the same.

The amount of product placement on commercial radio is crazy too. Even the Triple M sports broadcasts are unlistenable due to the amount of advertising played mid-stream. Just listen to the football on the weekend to hear the odds from Tom Waterhouse, the Brand W pitch report, the Brand X sideline report, the Brand Y scoreboard, the Brand Z stats, all within seconds of each other. They're all advertisements and they roll off the commentators tongues that fast they hope that the listener both hears it and doesn't get bored of it too. It's completely unnecessary and ridiculous.

The alternatives, thankfully are vibrant. Community radio is thriving with great stations around the country that anyone can listen to via Tunein.comFBI and 2SER in Sydney, 3PBS-FM and 3RRR in Melbourne, 4ZZZ in Brisbane, 6RTR-FM in Perth are all amazing radio stations that are all flying the flag for an alternative voice and great new music that is off the radar. However, with the digital switchover imminent, Community stations just don't have the financial resources to invest in new equipment and new transmission gear. Their future is undetermined at this time and I implore the government, whether the current Labor government or whoever is elected in September 2013 to ensure that all community stations in the country get to switch over to digital with the financial assistance they require.

I just hope that there can be a regulatory body that can deal with offensive idiots like Alan Jones, Vile Kyle and Ray Hadley when they cross the line. I just hope that diversity of voices can continue. I hope that future governments keep their hands off the ABC, steer clear of meddling with its editorial charter, and never ever dream of privatising it. I hope that digital multi-channels on both radio and TV formats cease to be a dumping ground of second-rate material and re-runs shown ad nauseum.

And I hope Australian content is finally given an arena to shine in the mainstream through Australian media outlets.

Further reading:

The Cheaper Than Rubies story on local music quotas.

CRA fighting local music quotas on FasterLouder.com

Let the arguments begin.

Melissa Etheridge - Live

OK look, I don't care who you are or what you think of Melissa Etheridge. This is absolutely brilliant.

This is Melissa, and her band playing "Like The Way I Do" at the Pinkpop festival in Germany in 1990. I really wanted to get the live version from the Deluxe reissue of her first LP (Live at the Roxy in LA in 1987) but it's not on YouTube. The Roxy version is 10 full minutes long and she almost lifts the roof off the venue in the finale of the song. This version is 11 minutes long and almost as intense, and very much worth your time.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Michael Finnissy - Solo Piano



It fascinates me no end how certain music makes people respond. Depending on what it is, some people cry, some smile, some dance, some reflect. Some styles of music inspire tangible feelings of discomfort, and in some, a strong urge to punch someone or something.

Michael Finnissy's 1990 album "English Country Tunes for Solo Piano" is a record that is both amazing and frustrating all at once. Music, for the most part, has rules, constructs and syntax like any other artform. This is music that takes the rulebook, but it doesn't throw it out the window - it covers it in petrol and puts a match to it.

This is where it gets tricky for some. Most people who have heard a lot of music are used to the conventional rules of music, even if they are oblivious to what they are. We like harmony, melody, rhythm - most songs create unity through repetition, and thus the constant repeating of rhythms of phrases makes us feel comfortable. Finnissy's album rejects all of these, or at least plays the opposite of all of them.

This is semi-improvised music that lacks melody or harmony in the traditional sense. For that reason alone, it is enough to drive some people to distraction. However, I believe that is exactly the reason why this music is so amazing. Jazz primarily is a style of music where a melody is taken in it's pure form, and then manipulated into something new, fresh and exciting. This music is old English folk tunes that have been stretched, contorted, fed through a paper shredder and then randomly re-glued back together to make new music.

Some music leads some people to imagine scenes or colours when they hear it. Some pop music may conjure up thoughts of sunshine or long hot summer days. Other tunes may conjure up thoughts of rain or grey, overcast weather. Finnissy's music is at times dark and pensive, and then on a whim can turn absolutely kaleidoscopic. Sometimes both are running at the same time. Over the length of the album it can get quite a tiresome listen.

"So," I hear you ask, "if this music is so divisive and so uncomfortable, why should we listen to it?"

Good question. Herein lies the key: this is music that has turned accepted musical convention on its head. This is music devoid of the rules that constrain certain styles of music. In an age where everything feels cookie-cutter perfect and lacking in soul, this is music that is truly free and creative in ways beyond what most can imagine. The freedom employed in this music makes it a liberating listen. This is the purest expression of the composer's soul: forget the rules, this is pure and unadulterated, unrestricted creativity. It is truly liberating to listen to. Lie on the floor and close your eyes and listen - the colours that are conjured in the mind are amazing.

But it is a tiring exercise: This is not music that will lull a listener to sleep or put one in a trance-like state. This is music that, by design, requires the listeners undivided attention from the outset until it's finished. It grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go for the entire 50+ minutes. You have to pay attention. This is not background music. This is music for close listening, and if you're game, you will be rewarded for your efforts.

One cannot help but become a more perceptive listener and and broadened horizons after hearing this album, and that is nothing but a good thing.

Give it a shot, but give it more than 30 seconds. You won't be disappointed.

Enjoy!

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Sunday Sessions: Andrew Ridgeley

Wham! were inescapable if you grew up in the 1980s. Those hit singles of theirs were everywhere. The band mainly consisted of two blokes: George Michael, and Andrew Ridgeley.

We've all heard of George Michael: he's had considerable success both in and out of the music biz, but what about the other guy?

Well, after Wham split in 1986, George was quick to get his solo career started with the million selling LP "Faith" in 1987. Andrew? Well he took his sweet time with his music career, and after Wham he tried his hand at Formula Three car racing in Monaco. When that failed, he tried as an actor in Hollywood and then moved back to the UK in 1990.

He then made a rock album by the name of "Son Of Albert", which was released in 1990. It didn't set the world alight - I think that was because he always took a back seat to George in Wham, thus making him less visible. He also left it too late to get his career going: upon it's release, a lot of people would have been thinking "Andrew who?"

He made aforementioned LP, which bombed in the UK, as did all the singles from the album. Although the lead single "Shake" made the top 20 in Australia in 1990 despite only making no.58 in the UK. After the album's failure in the UK, his record label CBS/Columbia opted not to commission a second LP from him...

I think "Shake" is still a brilliant song, even if the rest of "Son Of Albert" is quite insipid. It was designed to be a flat-out rock record, but someone decided to add all this precision-pop production to the songs and they diluted the music's power. Still, "Shake" has a massive drum sound that still sounds amazing today. But he has a tiny voice that really needs some serious beefing up with backing vocals to make it sound convincing. On this track, George Michael himself sings backing and the double tracked-lead vocals, and this gives the vocal line some more "oomph".

Enjoy!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

100 LPs Shortlist #30: Guns n' Roses - "Use Your Illusion 1 & 2"



...continued from previous:

In September 1991 the new Gunner's album was released.  In fact, it was not one album, but two.  A double album? Ahh, no.  Two separate albums.  Both of them titled Use Your Illusion. 1 and 2, for good measure.

Herein lies the issue.  These were apparently never designed to be a double album.  But, the band created so much music that it felt it had to be released.  To confuse the issue further, they were named the same, and had the same artwork on the cover, albeit colour shaded differently to highlight the difference.  Another spanner in the works came from the fact that, while on CD both albums were single discs, on vinyl (the format this writer purchased them on) they were both two vinyl records each!

Steven Thomas Erlwhine, in the AllMusic Guide writes (rather accurately in this writer's opinion):

"The "difficult second album" is one of the perennial rock & roll clich├ęs, but few second albums ever were as difficult as Use Your Illusion. Not really conceived as a double album but impossible to separate as individual works, Use Your Illusion is a shining example of a suddenly successful band getting it all wrong and letting its ambitions run wild."

And here's the funny thing.  On the previous release, "G'n'R Lies", singer Axl Rose had made a notorious name for himself as a homophobic xenophobe on the scurrilous song "One in a Million".  And yet, his ambitions led him to think he could create music based on the grandeur of Queen or "Yellow Brick Road"-era Elton John.  While there are moments here where the band sound as raw and as dangerous as The Clash, then on the next song they churn out an epic not unlike Elton's "Madman Across The Water".  It was all conflicted, confused and contradictory.  Clearly the band threw everything they had at this project and emerged with one hell of a mess.

The three songs that most people had heard prior to the release of the albums were all on Use Your Illusion 11 , so although both records technically topped the charts simultaneously, II sold more initially, and therefore was printed as the chart topper for the week.  However Use Your Illusion 1 stayed on the charts much much longer.

To say that the band got their ambitions mixed up with their capabilities is an understatement.  However, this writer does not begrudge them of it.  They tried hard, and while parts of it are now quite embarrassing, there is a lot of value in here.  30 songs in over 150 minutes is a lot to digest in one sitting, and with no less than 6 tracks clocking in at over 7 minutes, it can feel like tough going.  But there's plenty of chunky guitar riffs, complex arrangements and, of course, great songs.  Let's pick the highlights:

If you want to bang your head and mosh, try "Right Next Door To Hell", "Perfect Crime", "Garden of Eden", "Don't Damn Me", "Shotgun Blues", "Pretty Tied Up", "Locomotive" and "You Could Be Mine"

If you want introspection, play "Estranged", "Yesterdays", "14 Years", "Dead Horse",

If you want dark and moody, you want "The Garden", "So Fine", "Bad Obsession", "Double Talking Jive"

If you want tearjerkers, "Don't Cry (Original), "November Rain", "Knocking on Heaven's Door".

If you want epic, take "Coma", and "Civil War" for a start.

Use Your Illusion 1 starts off formidably with a thumping rocker.  Indeed, the faster, heavier numbers are largely constrained to this album, with only two massive epics padding it out - the psychotic 10-minute "Coma" and the epic ballad "November Rain", which clocks out just shy of 9 minutes.  Slash is all over these two albums with his heavy crunching riffs and wild solos, but his flamenco outro on "Double Talkin' Jive" rates a special mention.

The band get's even grander and stranger on Use Your Illusion II.  They overextends themselves on "Breakdown" - it's a muddy concept for a song that makes little sense and drags on for a full 7 minutes.  Dylan's once subtle and humble meeting with the grim reaper "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" becomes a terrace chant (and not for the better, either).  "Get In The Ring" is inexcusable, naming, shaming and threatening journalists because they wrote bad reviews or tabloid stories about the band.  "Civil War" is confused - the song is about war in general, not a civil war as such.  "Don't Cry" is a gorgeous song, in it's original form.  Maybe they were running out of material by the end of side 4 of Use Your Illusion II , because they included another version of the song with alternate lyrics - they really didn't need to.

To this day, this writer still doesn't know what the hell "My World" is all about.  It feels like a concrete example of just how far Axl has disappeared up his own arsehole.  Thank goodness it only lasts for 80 seconds.

The band milked this album for all it was worth, and then some.  They toured behind it for almost two years, released and re-released singles from it until 1994 - all 10 of them.  I still rate both these albums quite highly and I still enjoy them, but they are symptomatic of the excess of the era.  If you really need a reason as to why we needed the Grunge explosion of 1992, look no further than Use Your Illusion.

Enjoy.




Guns 'n' Roses Use their Illusion Pt. 1



Guns 'n' Roses have never been a band to do things by halves...well, at least that's been their intention.  They always wanted to be bigger, better and badder than the rest, and for a period they'd achieved that.  When they released their first LP in 1987, "Appetite For Destruction", it sold slowly at first, and then it sold more than any other rock act well into 1988.  Then, they drank more, took more drugs and were more debauched than any other band around at the time.  Pretty soon they were every mother's worst nightmare.

The follow-up to that LP was barely an album.  "G'n'R Lies" was more like a double EP.  It was a reissue of their first (fake) live EP "Live @#$% Like a Suicide" with 4 bonus acoustic tracks.  This was designed as a stop-gap before the real new album was released.

It wasn't much of a stop-gap - the gap blew out to four years, and that was a ridiculous timeframe between albums in the 1990s.  That should have been enough to kill the momentum of their career, but a strange and curious phenomenon happened...at least in my sphere of influence.

Two opposing tribes - the Westies, who listened to hard rock and metal and wore jeans and flannel shirts, and the Weeds: the surfies who listened to Midnight Oil and INXS - started to associate more positively for a change.  Once, they'd beat the crap out of each other.  But soon, the weeds were listening to Metallica, Sepultura, Iron Maiden and, of course, Guns n' Roses.  They'd devoured all of the back catalogs of these bands, so when Metallica released their self-titled LP in 1991, it went straight to number one.  It was almost dead certain that this new Gunners record would do the same, in whatever shape it would take.

And no one really knew what to expect.  There were little bits of information being leaked to the press as to what was happening, but no release date.  There were stories of 12 minute ballads called "November Rain", experiments with Sitars and Banjos, 8-minute epic anti-war songs, as well as talk of a Bob Dylan cover version.  It was even suggested it may be a double album!

To add fuel to the fire, they released their version of Dylan's "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" in 1990, on the "Days of Thunder" soundtrack.  They issued another song, launched simultaneously with the film it was featured in: Terminator 2: Judgement Day.  The song was released as a single ahead of the album: "You Could Be Mine" backed with "Civil War", the aforementioned anti-war epic.

In September 1991, the new Gunner's record finally landed...

...To be continued.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The Double Album



Are double, or multiple disc, albums a necessary artistic endeavour? Or an exercise in self indulgence?

We're not talking about compilation albums or live albums here. We're talking albums of all new material from working musicians.

Some of popular music's most highly regarded albums were double albums in their original configurations: Bob Dylan's "Blonde on Blonde", The Clash's "London Calling", Frank Zappa's "Freak Out", Jimi Hendrix's "Electric Ladyland", The Beatles' "White Album" et al. But did they all really need to be doubles? Was every song that great that it needed to be released then and there?

Sure, some albums could really use some judicious editing. I've always felt that Dylan's "Blonde on Blonde" had at least three songs that should have been cut in half. Or if not, side 4 was too short at only one song, 11 minutes long. They could have added some recent non-LP singles to fill up the rest...

Some of these albums achieve greatness through their epic sprawl. The Beatles' 1968 self titled album (otherwise known as "The White Album") probably didn't need to be a double. George Martin begged them to drop some songs from the album. The band were at each other's throats in disagreement during recording. and about the only thing they agreed on was not to edit the album.

Jimi Hendrix's 1968 epic "Electric Ladyland" was the result was an ever creative, ever restless soul who was overflowing with new music. Cream's "Wheels of Fire" LP was also released the same year. It was half studio album, half live album. This would have been great had the live tracks not been so long and tedious.

George Harrison's first post-Beatles solo album was a triple LP entitled "All Things Must Pass" and it was a clearing house full of great songs that he didn't get to record in his day job. There were four sides of great songs but then he goes and spoils it with two further sides of pointless instrumental blues jams. This is one example where a triple album would make a great double.

The Clash were the first punk band to try their hand at the double album with "London Calling". Over the course of 19 songs, not all of them are great, but it's better than their next effort, the triple album "Sandinista!". Only around half the album is worth keeping. It makes up a decent extended length single or even double LP if one was to edit it. Indeed, it was released as a double LP in some locations, but I feel that was because of the manufacturing costs of pressing 3 LPs, and the fact that CBS would have had to have cut their profit on the record in order to release it at a price that people could actually afford.

This was also a problem with Chicago, a larger than life jazz rock band who liked long jams and complex extended suites on their LPs (before they sold out and became a dodgy AM radio pop band). Their first three albums were both doubles, and the band agreed to a royalty cut in order to avoid editing them down to single LPs.

Due to the limitations of the original LP format, multiple discs were necessary as the most you could get on an LP was around 45 minutes. If you wanted more, you could squeeze it out to around 53 minutes, or you could make a double LP. This practice was quite common in Classical and Jazz circles, but then fans of this music were often older and more affluent people who could afford the extra money for the extra packaging. However, it was less common in rock circles as record labels though that Rock was only purchased in small quantities on LP and large volumes on singles.

In the age of the CD, it made it easier to make longer albums without having to include a second CD. The original length for a CD was 74 minutes, although this has been revised and now it is 79:57. This meant that many older double albums could now comfortably fit on one CD (although some were still placed on two CDs for the sake of continuity if they are too long, or at least for the purpose of raking in extra cash). This also meant that many bands took to the longer running time by inflating their albums, in some cases unnecessarily.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers among the first to start the trend in 1991 with "Blood Sugar Sex Magik", a 73-minute album on 1 CD and 2 LPs. Each subsequent LP has been a single CD of no less than 55 minutes, but a double LP in each case. Their 2006 LP "Stadium Arcadium" was a 2CD/4LP set, clocking in at 28 tracks. But it could have easily been an excellent 12 or 13 song single LP with some editing...

It's interesting that certain record labels have made double vinyl LPs out of albums that could have been singles: The first two Oasis LPs were pressed on double vinyl, despite the fact that the longest of them is only 52 minutes. Probably in the interests of preserving audio fidelity, they were pressed up in this fashion, and there was a bonus track on each thrown in for good measure.

The curious phenomenon within this is when a band releases two albums either simultaneously, or in quick succession, that were never intended to be a double/triple album, but are conceptually and graphically linked to each other. Metallica intended for "Load" and "Reload" to be a double album, but the two discs were released 12 months apart. Guns 'n' Roses' "Use Your Illusions I & II" were never intended to be a double album, but are so intertwined with their sound, style and artwork that it is impossible to evaluate (or even listen to) one without the other. Green Day's latest three volume work "Uno! Dos! Tre!" was never intended to be a triple album, but again, each album was released two months apart from each other with similar artwork linking them.

In most of these cases, it is my view that a lot of them could be edited to make them more succinct. Some of them achieve their greatness through their epic sprawl. Although it's hard to imagine The Who's "Quadrophenia" or "The Wall" by Pink Floyd as a single record.

Of course they all could be streamlined into single albums, but then that wouldn't be any fun now, would it? It's easy to go back and revise history, but then it's sometimes better to take the good with the bad. Sometimes ambition outweighs ability resulting in some spectacular disasters, but it's still fun to watch.

Further reading:

"The Indulgent Theoretical Double-album-as-single Fantasy List" by Bonzoboots on Rateyourmusic.com

"The Double Album Diet Plan" by user:Finulanu on Rateyourmusic.com

Monday, 4 March 2013

100 LPs Shortlist #29b: Easy Star All-Stars "Sgt Pepper..."



What would you think if Sgt Pepper went Dub Reggae?

Think about that for a moment. The Beatles a la reggae. In theory, that should be dreadful (no pun intended). In the hands of the Easy Star All-stars, it's anything but.

Easy Star All-Stars had previously made a name for themselves with other Dub Reggae interpretations of Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" and Radiohead's "Ok Computer". "Dark Side of the Moon" Easy-Star style was done brilliantly. I was less enamoured with "Radiodread", their interpretation of "Ok Computer", and I held some trepidation as they released a version of "Sgt Pepper". I shouldn't have worried - they treat the music with the respect it deserves and bring out the flavour and groove of reggae at the same time. The whole experience for some reason, feels so natural...

...well, for me at least. In some respects, this album is the culmination of something I had always wanted to do. You see, around the time I was 16, the reggae bug bit. Like the Funk bug that caught me at age 18, it bit hard. For a few months, everything I played on my guitar had that "skank" rhythm to it. Whether it was the hymns in music class at school, or Beatles songs, I played them all with that staccato, clipped, choppy, on-the-off-beat rhythm. I had even worked out my own reggae arrangements of "Day Tripper" and "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". I played them once for my then-girlfriend's father (the Kinks fan in 100 LPs #24) - he thought I was being sacriligious.

However, Easy Star have worked out something that I felt all along - that not only are the rhythms of reggae incredibly infectious, and also that The Beatles' songs were so well written that you can apply a reggae arrangment, or almost any arrangement, to them and they still sound good. Master songwriters can only achieve that.

So here for your listening pleasure is Easy Star All-stars doing the complete album of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, eloquently renamed "Easy Star's Lonely Hearts Dub Band":

Enjoy!

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Sunday Sessions: Outline and Concrete Blonde

Thanks to my old mate Kirsty at My Home Truths I've decided to do the Sunday Sessions linkup. I mean, why not? It could be fun!

Outline - "The Cicada that ate Five Dock"

This is a hilarious, although fictional, story about a lazy Sunday in the inner west suburbs of Sydney, but the serenity is broken when, quite simply, all hell breaks loose.

This one is quite the rarity. Outline released this as a single in 1981 and then one LP called "Maybe It's A Game" shortly after. They were a kind of Frank Zappa and the Mothers-esque band with a similar warped sense of humour. Copies of Outline's original records just do not turn up for sale anywhere, and nor are there videos common on the web. Enjoy this one, have a laugh, and hope for a reissue of their back catalogue.



Concrete Blonde - "Heal it up"

I'm not old enough to be a "senior", but I had a seniors moment of sorts the other day when I thought of this song being a modest hit in 1993, and thus it's 10 years old this year. Then it dawned on me that it is actually 2013 now and therefore it's 20 years old. Where did the time go? Psychological evaluation must be waiting for me around the corner...

Anyway, Concrete Blonde were a three-piece with a sensational bass-playing lead singer named Johnette Napolitano. In this track she starts off singing in a really low register in the verses, before rising slightly in the pre-chorus and then erupts in a high pitched wail that is purely goose-bump inducing.

Be ready for your hair to stand on end, people. This is pure gold.



Enjoy, and I'll see you next time.

Friday, 1 March 2013

February 2013 Playlist

Well it's the start of another month and therefore the end of another one. That means it's time to share with you the latest Spotify playlist of our musical travels here at The Sound and the Fury Podcast Blog.

What can you expect this month? Well, about 12 hours of great music for a start. Including:

Tunes from new releases by Johnny Marr, Tomahawk, Arbouretum, Parquet Courts, The Delta Riggs and Local Natives
Tunes from The Troggs (Reg Presley), Mindy Mcready and Tony Sheridan in memorium
Classics from Donovan, Faces, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Muse, Prince, The Motels
A beautiful laid back jam from Buckethead and Travis Dickerson which has to be heard to be believed.

and heaps, heaps more.

Put it on random, crank it up and discover your new favourite song!

Enjoy.


Status Quid?

Probably one of the most annoying advertising campaigns in Australia recently was the Coles one, where they asked Status Quo to re-record "Down Down" to advertise their grocery price cuts. You know the one, with the giant red hands? And the guitars shaped like giant red hands?



Within no time at all it has seemingly annoyed everybody in earshot of it. The thing is, as great as the original version was, it still sounds like bloody Status Quo!

In Latin, status quo means "the current state of affairs". To upset the status quo means to change things. The band Status Quo have been mining that four-on-the-floor boogie (duh-na-DUH-NA-duh-na-DUH-NA) and the boogie shuffle (duh---na-na---na-nah---na-nah---na-nah) since 1970. It's almost become a cliche - the name of the band being apposite for the music they create, i.e. the bloody same, album after album. It's fair enough to say that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". And let's face it - a hell of a lot of people like what they do. The period of the band's music from 1970 up until 1980 is heaps of fun, but really, how long can you recycle the same grooves for? A long time, apparently - almost half a century!

While this recent Coles campaign presents the band almost as a parody of themselves, the HeeBeeGeeBees absolutely nailed a parody of Quo in 1981 as "Status Quid".

Angus Deayton and a couple of Oxford University mates formed a parody band called the HeeBeeGeeBees, initially to parody the Bee Gees (which they did magnificently, by the way) but also they diversified and skewered their barbs into David Bowie (as David Bowwow), Bob Dylan (as Bob Vylan), Kenny Rodgers (as Kenny Rodgered), Prince (as Ponce), Human League (as Human Leak) and many more. Sometimes they miss the mark, but some are dead on, and they are hilarious. The back catalog of HeeBeeGeeBees can be found on Spotify.

To milk a bit of mirth from the once-mighty Status Quo, here's Status Quid, aka the HeeBeeGeeBees, live on the Don Lane show in Australia in 1981 doing "Boring Song".

Enjoy!