Thursday, 31 October 2013

September 2013 Playlist



How remiss of me! I forgot to post the playlist at the start of October!

Ahh well, in time for November, you not only get September, but also the October one as well.

Let's start with September, however. What you get in this month's playlist is:

  • A few songs in honour of the Australian federal election from the likes of Billy Bragg, Midnight Oil, Redgum, Reset and more
  • Classics from The Band, Pink Floyd, The Police, Motorhead, MC5, Infectious Grooves, Meat Loaf, Janis Joplin, Jerry Reed and more
  • Australian rock from Motorace, Master's Apprentices, INXS, Chain, Hunters and Collectors, Frente, The Dugites and more
  • New tunes from Arctic Monkeys, Diesel, Cactus Channel, Ice Sea Dead People, The Public Opinion Afro Band, Shat Shorts, Spiderbait and more
  • Oddness from The Dumb Earth, Captain Everything, Muhal Richard Abrams, Notorious Cherry Bombs, Yellow Scab, The Legendary Stardust Cowboy and heaps more.


ENJOY!!!

Johnny Moped

It's Halloween again. Only recently has it seemed to have taken off in Australia, with little kids walking around in supposedly creepy costumes knocking on doors going "Trick or Treat!"

Seriously, none of them are actually very macabre, or scary at all. I reckon if they knocked on the door of any given house an they were greeted with this, they'd shit themselves:



That's Pogues frontman Shane McGowan. With all the drink and drugs that guy has taken, it's no wonder he looks like that, but then it's a wonder he can still stand up. And it shows, especially when you see him interviewed in a new biopic on one of the man's heroes: Johnny Moped.

The band (and eponymously-named singer) Johnny Moped were a short-lived London punk phenomenon, playing the same haunts as The Pistols and the Clash. The band featured at various times Chrissy Hynde (The Pretenders) and Captain Sensible (ex-The Damned) in their ranks. Shane was one of the loyal fans who attended most (if not every) gig they played from 1977-78.

The documentary "Basically, Johnny Moped" has been filmed by Captain Sensible's son Fred. I won't give away the general plot of the story, but this is something I want to see. Basically Johnny's live shows would be so outrageous and so insane that you wouldn't know what you were going to get on any given night. They only made one LP ("Cycledelic") and a handful of singles before he dropped off the radar altogether.

Still, the first single "No One"/"Incendiary Device" is one hell of a record. With its slurred, growled and howled vocal line obscuring the words (and from I can make out that's probably a good thing) this still is a goosebump inducing track.

Have you seen "Basically, Johnny Moped"? Is it any good? Leave a comment below if you have. In the meantime, check out the movie trailer and a clip of "Incendiary Device".

"Basically, Johnny Moped" trailer:



Incendiary Device:

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Broken Bones

I was listening to this the other day and some young and impressionable tried to tell me this was "screamo". What the hell is Screamo anyway? Is that some kind of derogatory description of hard and fast music that they probably don't like?

Who cares anyway. There's nothing like a bit of vintage hardcore punk to remind you that you're alive. And what better than a band like Broken Bones to deliver it to you.

Enjoy!


Monday, 28 October 2013

Vale Lou Reed


Image Source

Singer for the Velvet Underground Lou Reed passed away in his native New York overnight. He was 71. Online there have been massive outpourings of grief in tribute to him, with many op-eds glowing in hyperbolic praise for his work.

I've never been a huge fan of his work, but I can appreciate a maverick when I see one. Lou Reed was definitely one of those. Lou followed his muse constantly, pushing himself, his critics and his audiences in new directions constantly throughout his career. He challenged and confused us music fans at every turn, and infuriated us on more than one occasion. I also believe he pushed the limits of rock music as an art-form in previously uncharted and, in some cases, very dangerous waters.

From the outset, as a member of the Andy Warhol-patronised Velvet Underground, his music pushed the boundaries of pop - it introduced avant garde elements such as drones, minimalism and noise, while Lou's lyrics dared to delve into areas and topics that were considered taboo.

Only Lou Reed could write a song about drugs that would dare to describe the time and place to make a drug deal, and the price, all in straigh-forward, to-the-point detail. And yet, as simple as he makes it sound, it does not sound appealing or attractive in the slightest, which is entirely the point.



Even songs that sound happy have deep dark undercurrents. While "Walk On The Wild Side" has a breezy, free-flowing feel, the lyrics about transvestites and gratuitous sex are anything but breezy.



And this is a common theme in his work, chronicalling the lives of the dispossessed and the marginalised in the seedy underbelly of major cities: the hustlers, junkies, pimp, prostitutes, drug dealers, the sexually experimental. He was never afraid to call it like he saw it, which often meant calling it for exactly what it was.



Even his collaboration with Metallica, the much-maligned and ill-conceived "Lulu", dealt with these dark issues, and again pushed audiences and critics to the limits of their sanity. It wasn't the first time he'd done that, mind you. He released the contractual-obligation LP "Metal Machine Music" in 1975, a wall-to-wall atonal noise-fest over 4 sides of a 65-minute double LP. While people like Lester Bangs reckoned it was the greatest record ever made, it annoyed the shit out of a hell of a lot of people. But this was purely his intention. He wanted to be confrontational to test the limits of an audience whom he percieved to be fleeting in their tastes.

The confrontational maverick type is all-but-gone these days, with only a few like Nick Cave still pushing the envelope. Lou was an original, to be sure. He will be missed. R.I.P.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Sunday Sessions: Webb Wilder



Webb Wilder is an artist who, for some strange reason, has slipped below the music radar for the better part of his career. Despite having a tough and gritty, yet accessible alt-country-rock sound, they barely sold a record in this country.

For Sunday Sessions this week, check out Webb Wilder. I've had the 7" single of "Hitting Where It Hurts" since I was in high school - I still own it and I still get goosebumps when that chorus kicks in. "Human Cannonball" has a hilariously clever lyric and a groove that is just infectious. Their LP "Hybrid Vigour" is probably the one that sold the most copies over here. It contain both these singles but it is so difficult to find. Should you see it, invest in it, and you won't be disappointed.

Enjoy your Sunday!

Hitting Where it Hurts


Human Cannonball

Friday, 25 October 2013

Stiff Little Fingers

Most writings about the late-1970s punk explosion seem to focus on only two epicentres: London and New York. These were probably the two biggest concentrated areas for punk rock scenes, but they are by no means the only two.

In my opinion, some far more potent and intense music came out of a few obscure areas where there was great social unrest and/or oppression of true artistic expression. Areas such as Brisbane in Australia, and Northern Ireland, specifically Belfast.

With Northern Ireland struggling with "The Troubles" during this time, young punks took to making music to express their frustration. One of the most potent blasts from this turbulent period was the first single by Stiff Little Fingers: "Suspect Device".

The band may be more renowned for their follow-up record "Alternative Ulster", largely because it is more musically accessible to the masses. Suspect Device is righteously angry, not discussing the actual devices used in the explosions of the times, but pointing out that sections of the general populace are way more of a danger to society if they're backed into a corner for long enough. Like an animal cornered, an explosion of rage is not only imminent, but somewhat guaranteed.

The first Stiff Little Fingers LP "Inflammable Material" is an essential in any punk record collection. From start to finish it is one angry, fiery explosion of rage. It makes the Sex Pistols look like rank amateurs.

Check out the first single from the first Stiff Little Fingers album, one of many potent statements on the Troubles they wrote: "Suspect Device".

Enjoy!

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Bernard Cribbins - "Right Said Fred"

The English have a grand tradition of the music-hall comedy song. They always seemed to produce such clever work. From George Formby to the Goons and beyond, their humour reaches me in a profound way.

Today's track is a piece by Bernard Cribbins, recorded in early 1962 at Abbey Road Studio 3 by none other than (soon to be forever known as the Beatles producer) George Martin. This was the same studio that the Fab Four recorded pretty much everything they committed to vinyl for the next 8 years starting in September of that year. (Bernard famously quipped in an article for The Guardian "we warmed the studio up for them!")

This record features some clever editing and dropping in of sound effects onto the original tape (something very tricky to do with the primitive technology of the day!)

We know George Martin as the man who helmed the Beatles records. Bernard, on the other hand, was a veteran of the British film industry, starring in some Carry-on films and some early Dr Who specials. He is extremely well known to people now as Wilfred Mott, father of Donna in the recent series' of Doctor Who. He also narrated the children's show "The Wombles" in the 1970s.

This song is brilliant inasmuch as it's the tale of a bunch of workmen trying to move something heavy into a flat in an apartment building. The efforts of our boys are, well, pretty crap, really. So they end up drinking a few cups of tea. In fact, they drink a hell of a lot of tea. In fact, if this song doesn't hold the record for the most cups of tea drunk in a two-and-a-half minute pop record, well then it bloody well should. Between the three blokes mentioned in the song, they drink no less than 16 cups of tea!

Anyways, the song is made all the funnier by the dubbed in sound effects and the cheeky brogue of Mr Cribbins. At 51 years old, this song is still a charmer and never fails to raise a smile.

Check it out below, with a cute little period clip of an amination made for television to support the song.

Monday, 21 October 2013

How to buy Indie label music




The independent record label is a curious beast. They can be both fun and troublesome in equal turns, both for fan and proprietor alike.

By fun, I mean that you can procure some of the most amazing music ever made that, in a lot of cases, has slipped under the radar. By troublesome, I mean you may have great trouble sourcing some of the most amazing music ever made that has slipped under the radar.

Most record labels that we now call "major" labels started out as simple businesses that grew to a monumental size. Some labels start up and are swallowed up by huge multinational companies. Others stay independent but secure deals with majors to press and distribute their product. But the one thing that often distinguishes the independent label from the major label is the fact that the people pressing the records believe in the talent they are supporting. It's not that major labels don't do that, but often the major label is focused more on sales and less about the music, while the ethos of the indie label is usually the other way around.

Indie label releases are usually fewer in number than that of a major label, and often pressed in smaller quantities. Distribution can be somewhat limited as well, meaning that upon original release a record may not have even made it to your local record store. Legendary U.S. indie label SST, home to Black Flag, Husker Du, Minutemen and the early Sonic Youth albums, had major distribution problems. So while critics in major magazines and trade publications were raving about albums like Husker Du's "Zen Arcade", it barely sold any copies because they had major problems getting the records into shops around America. Ditto legendary Memphis band Big Star - their first two records are mandatory listening for any music fan, but they sold poorly due to distribution problems.

In Australia, it was no different. We have had many brilliant labels that sprung up in the major cities; many of whom were also shop-fronts, stocking the records for retail sale and also stocking records by their local peers/competitors.

The roll call of awesome labels in the 1980s include:


Phantom
Red Eye
Citadel
Waterfront
Half a Cow
M-Squared
Aberrant
Hot
Missing Link
Au-go-go
Mushroom/White Label
Rubber
Cleopatra
Able
+1
Savage

among many others. The great thing about these labels is that they often supplied the world with amazingly great music that the major labels thought was uncommercial or that no-one in their right mind would touch. That's why The Saints released their first single independently, and why Radio Birdman formed their own label.

And the Indie label phenomenon hasn't stopped there. There's still plenty of great ones out there: Matador, Elephant Stone, Dischord, Inertia, and hundreds of others. The trick to buying music from an indie label is to try a sampler disc first, which is designed to introduce the listener to the bands and releases on the label. Failing that, take a plunge, buy a single and take a listen. Chances are if you like that one release, you'll love other releases on the same label.

I happened to chance upon a 10-inch EP on a Scandinavian label called Bad Afro about 10 years ago. The band was The Royal Beat Conspiracy. It took a few listens to get into it, but when I did, I loved it. I investigated the label catalog a bit deeper and discovered a heap of great bands on the label, many of whom released some killer 7-inch singles: bands like The Burnouts, The Maggots, Sweatmaster, The Rockets, The Dialtones. It's not that they necessarily sound identical to Royal Beat Conspiracy, but they are like-minded, inasmuch as they play hard-driving guitar-based garage rock.

It often pays to dig a little deeper and to find something unusual. You may find the next big thing, as tiny indie label SubPop found when they signed bands like Soundgarden, Band of Horses, and some bunch calling themselves Nirvana...

Have you ever uncovered a gem of a record on an indie label? What was it and what label was it on? Let us know in the comments below.

Enjoy!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Sunday Sessions: Notorious Cherry Bombs

We've all heard about the lists of crazy names of Country music songs. They always contain great song titles like "I Still Miss You Baby, But My Aim Is Getting Better". But, in most cases, those songs don't actually exist.

Believe me, I've tried looking.

In my view Country music has always benefited from a little bit of humour. I've often found it too one dimensional to be taken seriously anyway. The mainstream country brigade has done its best to enforce a strict code of conformity and it bores me shitless.

Enter the humourous country song...stage left.

The Notorious Cherry Bombs got their start as the backing band for Emmylou Harris in the early 1980s. The chronology of the band from that point forward is as confused as a redneck family tree, so I won't go into specifics. For trainspotters, the band consists mainly of Vince Gill and Rodney Crowell, who supply the songs and the lead vocals.

The song I'm going to feature today is a genuine song with a hilarious title, and it's the anomaly on their self titled album. It was also their biggest single, although it only charted at number 47 on the country chart because, as they mention in the lyrics:

"...it's alright if we say it,
'Cos the radio won't play it...
It's hard to kiss the lips at night that chew your ass out all day long..."

This track ironically pokes fun at the cliched country music breakup song, which no doubt Rodney and Vince have written a few of their own in their careers. This one nails it beautifully, with a very funny video to boot.

Take a listen to "It's Hard To Kiss The Lips At Night That Chew Your Ass Out All Day Long" by The Notorious Cherry Bombs.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Morrissey's Autobiography


Image Source: This Charming Charlie

The Guardian has been all afroth about the new Morrissey Autobiography.

One article went so far as claim that The Smiths were "a miracle". Now there's a textbook example of hyperbole if ever there was one.

I mean, I quite like the Smiths and a lot of Moz's solo work, but that's a bit much, really...

I'll probably get around to reading it one day. I'm not in a rush. But one of the funniest things about this supposed cultural event is that British comedian Peter Serafinowicz sings the words to the opening page of the book to the tune of The Smiths' "William, It Was Really Nothing", complete with facial expressions and overwrought emotive delivery. It's hilarious!

Enjoy the weekend, guys.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Review: "Crucible: The Songs of Hunters and Collectors"

Image source: The Music.com.au

This is the first tribute album dedicated to Hunters and Collectors, and the latest tribute album collecting a whole heap of hip young Australian indie bands.

As is par for the course, Tribute albums are hit-and-miss at the best of times. I really wanted to give this one my full attention and an open mind, but it's just so lackluster that I just can't help feeling disappointed with it.

The music of Hunters and Collectors is, by its very nature, emotional. "Soul" is probably not a word associated with the band, at least in the Motown sense of the word, but in a purely spiritual sense. It is music that expresses the purest of feeling, from the guts. It creates a space where deep-rooted longing, love and loss collide with a heady mix of bravado and sensitivity.

In short - it's music that breaks your heart while it's kicking your arse.

Each and every one of the bands on here (with the exception of three) reinvents the song in their own style, giving a modern sonic update of sorts. Full power to the bands for doing that. But, at the same time, they have stripped every ounce of soul, feeling and, in some cases, recognisable melody away from the songs, leaving them with all the excitement of a wet mop. If the originals had a power and drive like a Pilbara road train, these new versions have converted them into a 2-stroke lawnmower: Especially on songs like "The Slab", "Do You See What I See", "True Tears of Joy", "Still Hanging Around" and "Hear No Evil". On Husky's version of "Blind Eye", the find the emotion that was obscured in the original and bring it to the fore, exposing the depth of pain in the lyric.

The Panics have taken a difficult, angular original in the form of "Alligator Engine" and made it accessible, while the Living End and Something for Kate have kept the original power of their respective songs, largely because they play them note-for-note like the original versions. Ditto Eddie Vedder and Neil Finn, whose version of "Throw Your Arms Around Me" is pretty by-the-numbers as well.

On tribute albums you don't necessarily want to hear a band play the song in a carbon-copy of the original, but you also don't want to hear people take a t-bone steak and turn it into a tofu platter either. Unfortunately, on this album, you get both...although a lot more of the latter than of the former, admittedly.

Here's the album on Spotify below. It includes the originals from track 16 onwards. Make up your own mind.

Enjoy!



Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Peter Sellers: "I'm So Ashamed"

In discussing the Miley Cyrus pop debacle, I was reminded of this classic from Peter Sellers, released in 1958 and produced by George Martin, the man who helmed the Beatles recordings.

He laments life as a pop star: once hugely famous, then he releases a series of flops. So he changes styles and nothing seems to work. He worries about becoming irrelevant and, as such, not having a career in music for much longer.

"Please buy this record", he whines at the end.

It makes me think of all the X Factor/Idol winners and contestants, who have to go through the kind of rigmarole of singing all styles despite the fact they don't suit them. They have massive success to begin with, then shortly after, die the death.

This record as released 55 years ago. Have things really changed much?

You be the judge.

The Controversy of Miley

Image source: Cagel Cartoons

The Guardian has been actively discussing this Miley Cyrus thing for a while now and...

Yeah ok, I'll weigh into the debate. Previously I hadn't wanted to, however...

All this controversy over Miley Cyrus twerking, or twonking or whatever the hell it's called, is all a bunch of hot air. And there's too bloody much of it (cue the irony).

It's almost as if society, collectively, is shocked by all this gyrating and sexual innuendo. But here's the thing: it's not like it's a new phenomenon. From the outset, rock and roll has thrived on the relationship (either real or imagined) between music and sex. It's in the music's DNA.

Don't believe me? You can't tell me "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" is a song about the act of making and serving drinks in a milk bar.

In her younger years, Miley was a star custom made for television. Now, at the age of 20, she's far from burnt out, but is desperate to shake off her past as a squeaky clean, Disney-branded pop-idol. I totally understand why should would want to do that. If you're a creative artist you don't want any future work defined by what you did previously or, in her case, the character she was previously.


Image source: Cagel Cartoons

It's not as though she was the first young star to wantonly break free from the powers that defined her career until now. The Monkees (if you can remember back that far), The Sweet, Tiffany, Christina Aguilera and many others have branched out and had many arguments with the powers that be and/or done outrageous things in order to express themselves as they see fit. It's pretty much the nature of the creative beast.

Eventually, most musicians want to try something different because that's where the muse takes them. Sometimes it can be great, and quite successful (compare the 1960s Status Quo with the post-1969 Quo), sometimes it can be atrocious (Metallica's "Load" anyone?)

Her behaviour is somewhat unbecoming, and probably not something everybody wants to see, granted. Is it out of character for someone her age and in her position? No way. She's not the first woman to get all nekkid as a way to get attention to sell product and to draw a line in the sand between their past and the present: Kylie Minogue, Nikki Webster, Tiffany, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears and heaps more have all done it before her, and Miley won't be the last, either. Does that make it ok? Not really. But, would her latest record be sitting on top of the charts without this kind of (no pun intended) exposure? Personally, I doubt it.

Any publicity is good publicity. This twerking thing took place a few weeks ago. And look: we're still talking about it. The papers are still debating it. So, who wins out of this? Easy: Miley, and those who make money off her image and her music are the winners. Keep the name in the eye of the public because, as we all know, out of sight means out of mind.

It's sad, in my view, that it has come to this. It's always been said that "Sex sells", but it's depressing that the image is what sells the record, and not the music. The music should be doing the talking, not the associated controversy and all the other crap surrounding it. Have you noticed how the media are all in a fit about what Miley does in the video for her latest single, and not actually what the music sounds like?

And it seems to be only women who need to do that.

For some reason muso blokes don't need to get their gear off when they want to be controversial - not that I want them to any more than I want Miley to. But, men just seem to scream and swear a lot louder than before (see Eminem and Kanye West for example).

A lot of people seem to be worried about the impression our children are making of this. Well, where are their parents? The parents are the ones who should be guiding their kids, talking about these issues and explaining the right ways to behave and how to approach their self worth and image. When they see this kind of stuff, they cannot "un-see" it, so parental guidance is a must in this scenario.

Miley can do whatever the hell she wants, and probably will continue to. She doesn't give a crap what I think. Either way, none of this is going to make me want to buy her records...

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Remake/Remodel #5: ONJ's Physical

Now, how can anyone forget THAT video? Sooo 80s.

The absolute nadir of 80s pop. In hindsight we can look back and think "what the hell...???" but back then this thing was bigger than Texas. I wonder how many people were inspired to take out gym memberships because of this clip?

And don't let all the vibrating arse cheeks, leotards and legwarmers fool you: this is not a song about exercise. Well it is, kinda...if you count that sort of thing as exercise, which I guess you could. You know what I'm on about, surely.

Funnily enough, it's not often you hear a cover version of it. Much less by a band that takes its cues from a band like Pavement. However, Dollar Bar, indie rockers from Brisbane Australia have taken this synth-ey 80s come-on, seemingly stripped the glamour out of it and made it sound dangerous, dirty and, well, to some ears anyway, downright creepy! It's quite hard to describe Dale's vocal delivery on the Dollar Bar track, whether he's playing the desperate and socially inept nerd looking for an elusive bit of action, or whether he's dispiritedly and nonchalantly making a play without really expecting any positive result.

There's something strangely warm and attractive about our Livvy's delivery in the original, but it also kind of reeks of tacky, overpriced nightclubs where the beautiful people hang out (read: NOT ME!!!). Dollar Bar sounds like they're trying to pick up at a LAN-party hosted by Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory.

In my view, there's something oddly compelling about Dollar Bar's version that sets it above ONJ's version, but largely because I'm kinda over the cheesiness of the original...and I've personally heard it too many times in my lifetime to be truly objective. I approve of the redone treatment.

Take a listen to both below. Which do you prefer?

The original:


Dollar Bar's cover, from their Bandcamp page:

Sunday Sessions: Swamp Dogg



Swamp Dogg, aka Jerry Williams, is a funk and soul performer with a truly bizarre edge to his work. He cuts a unique figure on the musical landscape, somewhere between Frank Zappa and James Brown. He has always been a popular songwriter for other people, but his own work has been considered to left-field for general consumption. That's a real shame, considering just how damn good a lot of it is.

Considering the man was influenced in equal part by the aforementioned Soul Brother No. 1 AND Frank Zappa, you can expect what you'll get is both incredibly funky and also incredibly strange. Only Swamp Dogg would release funky soul tunes with titles like "The Love We Got Ain't Worth Two Dead Flies", "I Couldn't Pay For What I Got Last Night". "Santa's Just A Happy Fat Fart" and ""Choking To Death (From The Ties That Bind)". Usually his album artwork is pretty funky and odd too, but the music is killer.

With titles like the ones above, you can pretty much bet his music was all but doomed to fail. However the man is held in high esteem by almost everyone who has heard his music.

Here below is a scorching live version of one of his first soul hits under the Swamp Dogg moniker, "Total Destruction To Your Mind".

Check it.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Under Neath What



Whatever happened to Under Neath What? The London psych-rock band of the late 80s shine brightly for what seemed a few months and then sank without a trace.

They were a wild and out-there band. They had a great sound that still sounds awesome on vinyl, even now. They probably had their biggest success in Australia, where they were gifted with a great deal of TV coverage on Countdown Revolution and The Factory. Triple J radio backed them to the hilt.

But then...?

Unfortunately I cannot find their Countdown Revolution performance from 1989, where the band performed "Eggs Bacon Coffee and Suicide" and, in the breakdown section, guitarist Andy Berinyi goes apeshit and runs off the set around the back corridors of the ABC followed by a cameraman. As a 13-year old at the time, I thought it was the most outrageous thing I'd ever seen. I became a fan after that performance.

Still, we're blessed with some great music by the band.

Here's the band on the ABC TV show "The Factory" circa 1989 doing "Eggs Bacon Coffee and Suicide"



Here's the clip for "Straight Ahead Money"

The 1970 Isle of Wight Festival


Image source: Wikimedia.

The idealistic hippie dream of the 1960s I have always found to be a fascinating historical case study. Not having been a part of it (that was my parents' generation), I get to look back at it with fresh eyes, rather than the hazy, glazy, rose-coloured ones of those who were there.

Of course at the centre of it was the fantastic music, and that cannot be disputed. The cultural landmarks of this period are characterized by the major music festivals of the era - Monterey '67, Woodstock '69 and the two original Isle of Wight festivals (1969 and 1970).

The 1970 Isle of Wight festival, I believe, is the most interesting of the lot, especially because of the expertly filmed documentary by Murray Lerner, which is linked below. The festival was both a massive success (over 600,000 people attended the tiny island off the coast of England) and a massive flop (only a small percentage of those 600,000 people actually paid to get in).

This festival has a rich back story, which unfortunately is only hinted at in the film. Sure the music is largely great (although Hendrix and the Doors' performances are somewhat lacklustre). However the sheer weight of administering an event of this magnitude was this magnitude was lost of the organisers.

I find it ironic now that many members of the Baby Boomer generation (who were teenagers when the Hippie thing took off) have risen to the top of the corporate world and are living comfortably from the spoils of capitalism. And yet, as spotty teenagers and adolescents high on acid, they were hell bent on destroying capitalism as an economic model and replacing it with some kind of idealistic Communism/Socialism hybrid. The failure of the hippie movement only serves to confirm what a flawed ideology Communism actually is: it reads well on paper, as Karl Marx envisaged it, but in practice it simply doesn't work.

With this in mind, many people rocked up to the Isle of Wight Festival mistakenly thinking it was a free festival - an excuse to have some fun, hear some great music, trip out on drugs, get some free love and bliss out for three days. Well, yeah you could do that, but all patrons were charged £3 to get in. A lot of people refused, claiming "Woodstock was a free festival, maaaaaan!". The problem was Woodstock was NOT a free festival, but so many people turned up that they made it a free festival anyway out of goodwill. As a result, many of the musicians, for whom live performance was their livelihood, didn't get paid. The promoters simply didn't make enough cash to pay the bands, and the musos actually lost money as they had to ship their own gear in at their own cost and, in some cases, had to hire expensive charter transport to get in, as roads for miles were jammed.

At the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, many of the same performers from Woodstock appeared. Throughout the film there is an ongoing battle between the musicians and the promoters, who at one point hilariously claim that Tiny Tim's ukulele won't tune unless he's been paid (18:44). It's a long and protracted battle that ends up with malicious damage to the perimeter fencing and arrests involving police and their dog squads. In the end, it becomes a shambles.

If ever there was a school for budding rock promoters, this film would have to required core content of the syllabus. Rock festivals are heavily organised to prevent problems like this occurring again. Lesson learnt, obviously. MC Rikki was trying to reason with a massive crowd of people whacked out of their tiny scones on dope for the exchange of the price of a ticket. It was always going to be a losing battle.

All this aside, now onto the music. Hendrix and The Doors were so-so on the night. Some of the (then) newer acts were transcendent at the Festival. Rory Gallagher's band Taste were spectacular, as were Free and The Who. Ten Years After were blistering; Alvin Lee giving a good demonstration of his theatrical guitar abilities. Jethro Tull just lit the place up - their guitarist Martin Barre was absolutely on fire in their set. He's brilliant. Joni Mitchell had the misfortune of having some stoner interrupt her performance to make some sort of announcement. God knows why country singer Kris Kristofferson was there but he didn't go down well, remarking that he thought someone in the crowd would shoot him. Leonard Cohen looked like he was being held up wooden stakes at his back he was so stoned.

It is certainly a unique document, and very much worth the two hours it takes to watch it.

Enjoy!

Vale Philip Chevron of The Pogues

Irish folk-punks the Pogues are a unique band, if ever there was one. They're not all that far removed from other Irish folk groups like The Furies, The Dubliners or the Chieftains, except that the Pogues are wilder, faster and more in-your-face than any of those acts. They play traditional Irish folk music with all the grit, spit, and aggressive swagger of the English punks of the class of '77 (The Pistols, The Clash, The Damned, et al).

Reknowned for their alcohol intake and the slurring, toothless vocal delivery of their frontman Shane McGowan, the Pogues are endearing in their own rambunctious, shambolic, ragged fashion. Where the Furies are beloved of my parents generation, The Pogues are truly a GenX band.

It comes with some sadness the news that Pogues guitarist Philip Chevron passes away from cancer this morning after a long battle with cancer. It's even more shocking when you consider that he was given a clean bill of health in April 2012, but another tumour appeared in August that year.

Equally shocking, as i reflect on the band, is the fact that Shane McGowan is still alive and standing. Shane is a bloke who, to look at him, makes Keith Richard look like an alter boy. His reputation for beer drinking, drug taking and hell raising makes Pete Dogherty look like the rank amateur he really is. Based on this, I thought he'd be the first Pogues member to shuffle off the mortal coil, but alas...

So Rest in Peace, Philip.

Here's a Pogues classic in tribute: "If I Should Fall From Grace with God"

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

My Favourite Redheads...

...of the musical persuasion.

First of all, I'm not a redhead. But why are they so maligned?

One of Disney's latest heroines is a fiesty redhead, and she is a great role model, in my view. But she doesn't get it easy. Australia's first female Prime Minister was a ranga, and she copped all sorts of merry hell.

I decided to create this post in reference to a story I read where Ed Sheeran was told by an A&R guy in England to dye his hair, because he wouldn't succeed in music as a redhead.

Considering the millions of records he's sold, I guess he has the last laugh...



So here are a few of my favourite rangas (aussie slang for Redhead):

Ashley Naylor from Even:



The gloriously rich vocal stylings of Miss Neko Case, who also shares the limelight in the New Pornographers with another redhead, one Carl Newman...



Paul Brady, a singer/songwriter from Ireland whose solo work is really quite stunning. This track "Crazy Dreams" is from his first LP "Hard Station":



Sherry Rich, Australian Songstress and one half of The Grapes, with the aforementioned Ash Naylor:



So there is an inconclusive list of some awesomely talented redheads. Who are yours?

Enjoy!

Five Piece Redhead Pack:

Monday, 7 October 2013

The Lovetones


image source

This is just a quick post for tonight as I'm wrapping up from the long weekend ready to head back to work in the morning.

Sydney band The Lovetones provided this blog with its meta-song "The Sound and the Fury", from their 2003 debut album "Be What You Want".

Heads up for the last quarter of the year. Let's do it. Enjoy!

Friday, 4 October 2013

TSATF Recommends: Brad Holder

Brad Holder is a young 20-something musician hailing from Port Hedland, in the remote mining area of the Pilbara in north Western Australia.

He has spent a few years prior to now cutting his teeth in bands such as The Manilla Folders and Still Waiting, but recently he has broken out on his own.

This week sees the release of his first music video "Stay the Night". It's a cracking piece of power pop that serves as the perfect vehicle for his smooth vocal delivery, molded from all the exposure of the Pilbara sunshine with just a hint of the red earth to give that bit of extra grit.

It's an auspicious debut. The sky's the limit, Brad. Aim high. And I can't wait to see what else you have in store for us.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

My Guest Post (Director's Cut)

Last week I made a guest post on the 9999 Songs blog.

I settled on the track "Coppertone" by Fini Scad, but these were the other tracks in contention for the gig.

The brief was that I had to choose I song I liked from the year 1996. "Coppertone" may not have been my favourite of all of the songs of that year, but it's at least an interesting study.

Other ones that were on my list were:

Dodgy - "In A Room"

The Hollies meets the Who in a lost Britpop classic.



Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - "Chicken Dog"

A raw blues pastiche with a guest vocal from Rufus Thomas. Utter classic.



Allen Ginsburg (with Paul McCartney, Lenny Kaye, and Phillip Glass) - "The Ballad of the Skeletons"

Beat Poetry meets beat music, with fascionating results.



The Whitlams - "I Make Hamburgers"

A song about the two topics dearest to a man's heart: food and sex.