Wednesday, 15 January 2014

The Tea Party

Nostalgia time and here's a band that I saw live more than any other, and who have created music that still stirs emotions like no other: The Tea Party.

The Tea Party, one of many amazing bands out of Canada, have found a spiritual home in Australia as much as their rabid fanbase here have almost adopted them as our own.  Indiciatively I never saw the band in a major venue like The Hordern Pavillion. I always saw them in small venues like Leagues clubs and the like, because the band, when doing a major tour of large venues, would often venture off the beaten track to places like The Central Coast of NSW, or Newcastle, and play smaller shows to between 200 to 500 people. Indeed, some of these shows were among the wildest shows I've ever seen. From the crowds going nuts to long, extended versions of their songs, their live shows are some of my most treasured memories.

The band have taken a lot of flak for what critics perceive as their slavish copying of both Led Zeppelin and the Doors. But in fact they sound nothing like either of them, despite lead singer Jeff Martin having a haircut like Jim Morrison, and sometimes using a violin bow on his Les Paul.

The band split circa 2005 but reformed in 2012 for an Australian tour and a live album. The live album kicks some serious butt and is almost like being there, without the crowds...or the actual band being on stage in front of you. The only real issue I have is that the audience noise wasn't continuous throughout the entire record. Rather it is faded out to silence at the end of each track, but this is a minor quibble. The music is amazing.

Check it out below.

Monday, 13 January 2014

December 2013 Playlist

Happy New Year! I hope we all made it to the beginning of 2014 safely and without incident.

This is the last one of the year. Look out for a Best of 2013 playlist coming up in the not-too-distant future. For the moment, here's what you get:

Classics from REM, Bruce Springsteen, Janis Joplin, Frank Zappa, Manfred Mann's Earth Band, Bowling For Soup, Cracker, Bon Jovi and heaps more
Aussie Greats from Choirboys, Declan Kelly, Paul Kelly, Powderfinger, Moving Pictures, iOta, Icehouse, Architecture In Helsinki, The Jezabels, Lurch and Chief

and heaps heaps more.

Check it. Catch you again soon.

Friday, 10 January 2014

We need somebody to blame

I've had a number of discussions with people online lately that seem to put the blame of certain areas of society on some easily identifiable societal group. It always makes me step back, wonder and shake my head at bone-headed statements like "The biggest cost to this country is having 'illegal immigrants'..." and other things like that.

Here is not the place to debate such a point. But whenever things like this come up, I always think back to this anti-folk classic originally by Lee Goland, and since remade by many people, called "Teenage Immigrant Welfare Mothers on Drugs".

"Who's to blame for the potholes and flooding and drought?
Who's to blame for unemployment and all the things I'm pissed off about?"

Do some people just need a focal point to vent their frustration at?

In this song, the protagonist finds a convenient, if also fictitious minority group to take issue with. It's quite funny. Check it out.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Vale Phil Everly

The Everly Brothers need no introduction, so I'm not going to give them one. No disrespect, but they cast a shadow loud and long over popular music that it's pretty obvious to most people who they are.

Ditto their music. Just rattling off a list of their hits will instantly bring back memories for pretty much everybody.

It is with much sadness that 2014 starts off with the passing of the younger of the two brothers, Phil Everly, at age 74. Up until recently, The Everly Brothers were still doing gigs around the US, so this has come to a bit of a shock to a lot of people.

Their influence is incalculable. Any rock band from the 1960s and 1970s and beyond learned to sing harmonies from the Everlys: The Beatles, The Who, The Kinks, The Byrds, The Beach Boys, Big Star, Queen, The Ramones, Dave Edmunds and Rockpile, Nick Lowe and Brinsley Schwartz, Simon and Garfunkel, Green Day - you name it, they got it from Don and Phil.

Their career can be split into three distinct phases: The early Cadence label years from 1956 to 1959, the Warner Brothers years from 1960 until their breakup in 1973, and then the reunion years from 1984 onwards.

The Cadence era featured some gorgeous tunes but they were limited to rockabilly/country hybrids and torch ballads. There's some wonderful music within this era, but for my money the real gold is in the first few years of the the 1960s, where they were given almost free reign by Warner Brothers to write and record anything they felt like. Thus, this period is highly musically inventive and fascinating.

My father had a vinyl copy of the 1962 release "The Golden Hits of the Everly Brothers" and I grew up listening to this album regularly. In these 12 tracks the musical diversity is huge. From pure pop nuggets such as "That's Old Fashioned" and the classic first WB single release "Cathy's Clown" to sweet close harmony ballads like "So Sad" and "Crying In The Rain". From bitter hard rockers "How Can I Meet Her?" and "I'm Not Angry" to the jazzier chord phrasings of "Don't Blame Me". From the slight Middle-eastern leanings of "Temptation" to the country-pop of "Walk Right Back". From the pounding rhythm experiments of "Muskrat" to the overwrought emotions of the morbid plane-crash balled "Ebony Eyes". It's a riveting listen from start to finish.

The world is a better place for having the music of the Everly Brothers. Vale, Phil.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Sunday Sessions: Dread and the Baldhead

Hey all,

We're back in the saddle for 2014. And here, is the first Sunday Sessions for 2014

Down here in Australia, it is Summer. And it ain't summer in Australia without cricket. Currently, the old foes of the motherland (that is England) are down here defending their Ashes series victory from earlier in 2013 when they clean-sweeped Australia at home. Since they have arrived here at the end of last year, England have been white-washed by the Aussies 5-0 in the follow-up series on Australian Soil.

In short, we've smashed them!

Aside from the Ashes, there's been heaps of 20-20 cricket on as well. For those who don't know, the Big Bash league is a series that specialises in short games, of only about 3 hours, where each side faces 20 6-ball overs with big slogs required in order to get the best runs and provide the most entertainment for the punters. They are thrilling games and they have been a joy to watch.

In the commentary team of these Big Bash matches is one Sir Viv Richards, one of the members of the killer 1980s and 1990s West Indies cricket side. Aside for barracking for the Aussies, I always had a soft spot for the Windies and games where they faced off the Australians were always great fun. The Windies were a strong side that required the Aussies to work their butts off. It was great stuff to watch.

The other night on one of the Big Bash matches, Sir Viv mentioned to Mark Waugh that he plays in a calypso band from time to time with former Windies players Curtly Ambrose and Richie Richardson called Dread and the Baldhead. There's precious little tuneage around the internet of their works, largely because there was another band called Big Dread and the Bald Head who were more of a roots reggae band around some years before.

This particular band has some fine booty-shakin riddims (if I may appropriate the local terminology) with their track from around 2010 called "Back In Yuh Face" being a cracker of a tune.

It sure as hell puts their local cricket heroes' musical attempts to shame. The less said about the Lee Brothers' abysmal efforts "Six & Out" the better.