Friday, 23 September 2005

Tom Waits is da man

Many people who know me well know that I am a huge Tom Waits fan. Anyway, this post is not about his music (although I could dedicate many large posts to that topic).

The guy is simply a legend. Not only is he a brilliantly unique musician and songwriter, he's also incredibly witty (you only have to hear his live album Nighthawks at the diner to see this side of his personality). He has also dabbled in acting as well, with roles in the Jim Jarmusch movies Down By Law and Coffee & Cigarettes as well as countless others. I have yet to see Down By Law, but his role in Coffee & Cigarettes (where he chats with Iggy Pop) is simply brilliant.

Despite his obvious talent, it's this article which I read this morning which really sums up the guy. He absolutely, positively, without a doubt refuses to sell out. But it's the way that he chases after and beats the bad guys who try to tarnish his name that elevates him to the epitome of cool.

I think I'll go listen to Rain dogs now.

Monday, 12 September 2005

Glenn Tilbrook gig [10th September 2005 @ The Espy]

After RocKwiz on Tuesday night, Dean and Pete were each given double passes to see Glenn Tilbrook at the Espy on Saturday night. They kindly asked Andy, Geraldine and myself to attend. For those who are unfamiliar, he was the lead singer of classic 80's new wave UK outfit Squeeze.

It was a very enjoyable gig, albeit a very long and tiring one. He was supported by Marcel Borrack and Ashley Naylor (the lead singer of Melbourne band Even).

Glenn was a very likeable character, chatting to the crowd constantly. He didn't have a setlist, instead taking requests from the crowd. He was generally happy to oblige, but he refused to play the Squeeze classic Cool for cats, claiming that he had tried it twice in the past and failed (fellow Squeeze member Chris Difford actually sang lead on this song). I went up to the front and asked if he could play From a whisper to a scream, which is an Elvis Costello song from his brilliant album Trust which Glenn dueted on. I couldn't hear him properly, but his response was either "I can play a bit of it" or "I can play it a bit later". Either way, he didn't end up playing it. I don't seem to have much luck with getting my requests played. Not happy Jan!

Highlights of the night included Glenn getting up on the bar in the Gershwin room to sing a song, doing a great cover of Voodoo chile (together with some amazing Jimi Hendrix guitar moves) and Andy buying a copy of Ashley Naylor's solo album which was signed "love Ash". How sweet!

Overall, an entertaining gig that was probably about 30 minutes too long (it finished at about 1:30am).

Thursday, 8 September 2005

The Beatles

I have always considered Revolver and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band to be the most overrated of all Beatles albums. I guess I can't appreciate what kind of impact these albums had, because they were released in 1966 and 1967, and I was born in 1979. Revolver is constantly topping polls as being not only the greatest Beatles album of all time, but the greatest album of all time. And Sgt. Pepper's is always just falling behind.

I have always considered this double album, released in 1968, to be the Beatles' masterpiece. There's a certain degree of irony here, because The Beatles were hardly a collaborative unit by this stage. John was getting confused because he was growing hair in all sorts of unusual places. Paul was jealous that his facial hair never quite looked as good as John's. George was taking this whole Indian thing way too far. And Ringo, well you can't blame the guy for just being himself.

Yes somehow, with all the fighting and copious amounts of drug taking, these four lads from Liverpool released this work of utter genius. The plain white cover does no justice for the beauty that lies within this 90 minutes of music. Many bands find it hard to sustain perfection over an entire album. The Beatles managed to sustain it over a double album of 30 songs.

I could do a track-by-track review of these 30 songs, but not even that would give this album justice. Buy it, listen to it, and be blown away. This is complete aural brilliance.

Wednesday, 7 September 2005

Dean & Pete on RocKwiz!

Dean and Pete (known as Wally Raffles and nomeatpete around the blog circuit) did us all proud last night when they both made it on to the debut of Season 2 of the RocKwiz on SBS. They also did table 6 proud when they represented us, cutting through the fierce competition in the auditions, each making it on to the 2nd episode that was filmed.

Dean ended up in a team with Linda Bull, a member of the Black Sorrows and Vika & Linda, where she performs with her sister. Pete had Glenn Tilbrook of classic UK new-wave outfit Squeeze on his team.

It was a great game, with Dean and Pete both doing extremely well for their teams, but in the end Dean's team took home the trophy. Congratulations to both of you! Co-host Brian Nankervis kindly informed us that the episode will be shown in late-November on TV.

Chris Bailey of classic Aussie punk rockers The Saints played in the first game we saw, and he seemed to be off his face. Most likely on alcohol, because he was sipping a red wine throughout the whole game. He came up with some "interesting" one-liners, some of which may be considered inappropriate for television, so how much of the episode makes it to air is yet to be determined. But it's SBS, so I guess anything is possible :-)

All in all, a very enjoyable night!

Tuesday, 6 September 2005

Alex Chilton is found

Yes, he has been found alive and well. Here's an article about it.

This is really good news.

Saturday, 3 September 2005

Alex Chilton is lost

The devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans is truly tragic.

Today, I was very saddened to hear that a few musicians are lost, including R&B legend Fats Domino and Big Star leader Alex Chilton.

Here's an article about it.

Being a Big Star fan, this is very sad news. My thoughts are with his family and friends. Let's hope that he shows up soon.

Friday, 2 September 2005

Teenage Fanclub gig [19th August 2005 @ Hi-Fi Bar]

[Photo courtesy of user rich45 on]

I'll try to make this a shorter post than my review of the Go-Betweens gig, not because I am considerate of my readers, but because I'm a lazy coont. I'll glass ya laddie! Okay, that's gotten the Glaswegian blood in me boiling, so now I'm in the zone to write this review.

I'll start with a quick comment -- if you haven't heard of the Fannies and you are into indie music, go hang your head in shame. Go on, pick up Grand Prix right now.

The Hi-Fi Bar is not one of my favourite venues. It's smoky, gets very hot, it doesn't have the magic of a lot of other venues like The Forum. And I'd be lying if I said that I felt comfortable at any gigs I had been to at the Hi-Fi Bar. The last one, Pete kindly informed me, was The Doves back in 2002 (I think?). Great gig, and we were right up front so at least the issue of some drunken lout obscuring our view wasn't there. Not that Pete would know what that feels like, being the tall lad he is.

After support from The Pictures, the Fannies opened with Near you from their 2000 album Howdy!, which is one of the few Fannies albums I don't have. They followed with The cabbage from their most critically panned album Thirteen which is another album I don't have. Considering I didn't know the first two songs, I guess you could say it was a disappointing start. Not much to say about these songs, I can't really remember them now.

They followed with the first song of the night which I did know, and that was the Grand Prix opener About you. It was also the first Ray McGinley sung song of the night. It was good to hear something familiar, even if it isn't one of my favourite Fannies tracks, but I know Pete disagrees with me on this point.

Time for a [small] amount of background information about The Fannies. There are three core members of the band - rhythm guitarist Norman Blake, bass player Gerald Love and lead guitarist Ray McGinley. Other members have come and gone in this time, but these guys have been in for the long haul. They share songwriting and vocal duties, generally singing the songs they have written. And their albums since Grand Prix have generally been very democratic, with each member contributing a fairly equal share to each album. A bit like the Go-Betweens really. A lot of Fannies fans tend to see Ray McGinley as the lesser songwriter to his peers, and I agree with this. He has written some wonderful songs (Only with you from their latest album Man-made is one of my favourite cuts on the album), but his songs definitely feel much more simplistic compared to the Norman and Gerald numbers.

Anyway, back to the review. After Grand Prix opener About you, we followed with a couple more album openers. There was the Gerry-led I need direction from Howdy!, and the Norman-led Start again from their low-key but excellent 1997 effort Songs From Northern Britain. A very nice run of songs.

We followed with the first new song of the night, Feel from Man-made which sounded really nice live. It's another Ray cut which I'm quite a fan of. Take the long way round, another nice Songs From Northern Britain cut, followed this. Now we came to one of the absolute highlights of the gig, the classic Grand Prix number Neil Jung. This is not only one of my favourite Fannies cuts, but one of my favourite cuts of all time. It's just a superb guitar-driven pop classic. Great melody, great vocals, great guitar solo. Perfect song.

Following this great cut was one of Nick Hornby's favourite songs of all time, Your love is the place where I come from. I know he likes this song because it was included in his book 31 songs where he talks about the songs that have changed his life. It's another Ray song, and it's a beautiful number. Wait a second, didn't I say before that I wasn't a Ray fan? Maybe I need to re-evaluate that theory. It was a great live number!

Did I say followed, which was another track I don't know since it was a new track tacked on to the recent best-of release Four Thousand Seven Hundred And Sixty-Six Seconds so that existing diehard fans would have to buy it. Bloody record companies. A couple more Man-made tracks followed, the beautiful Gerald Love number Time stops and the overrated Norman Blake opener It's all in my mind. Next we got a track which many diehard Fannies fans consider to be one of the weaker in their catalogue, Verisimilitude. And yes, it's a Ray number. It's quite unlike any other song they have released, even the other Ray ones. It's got a certain novelty aspect to it, and it's got a melody which can really get under your skin. But you could say it has a sorta cult following.

Next we got the earliest song of the night, Star sign from their critically acclaimed Bandwagonesque album. While I'm definitely more of a Grand Prix fan, many diehards consider this to be their best album. Spin magazine in the US actually named this the best album of 1991, quite an amazing feat considering that Nevermind and Blue Lines were released in the same year. It's a decent album, with a lot of fantastic cuts, but it has dated a lot.

A couple more brilliant Songs From Northern Britain cuts followed, the classic I don't want control of you and sublime Byrds-esque Ain't that enough. A couple of my favourite Fannies cuts right there. A highlight from Man-made followed, the previously-mentioned Only with you.

And now we come to the wham-bam-thank-you-Mam killer highlight of the gig. There were a few killer cuts that the fans were practically gagging for at this stage of the gig, and out they came.

She wears denim wherever she goes
Says she's gonna get some records by the Status Quo
Oh yeah... Oh yeah...

Seriously, one of the greatest opening lines from a song ever. It's from The concept which is the opening cut from Bandwagonesque. Hearing this was a truly sublime gig moment. Sure to get a mention in Pete's upcoming Top Gig Moments post in this very blog!* Just when the gig couldn't get any better, we get a song I'd been hanging out for the whole night. Sparky's dream from Grand Prix. I can't throw enough adjectives at this song - it's absolutely brilliant! And hearing it after The concept was a truly amazing gig moment.

Wisely, the Fannies decided to end the first set here. They went off stage, the fans chanted, yadda yadda yadda. No need to go into the cliched encore routine here. They came back on stage to another one of my favourite Fannies numbers - Don't look back from Grand Prix. I told you how much I love this album, didn't I? But those 3 songs added up to a classic gig trilogy. The concept, Sparky's dream and Don't look back. All in a row, albeit separated by a dodgy encore. Despite my discomfort at this stage of the gig (it was already getting close to 1:00am), this was truly a superb moment.

Slow fade from the new album followed, and then a Ray number which I'm not a big fan of - Can't feel my soul from Songs From Northern Britain. They ended the 2nd set with Everything flows, which was their first single from their debut album A Catholic Education. A song I didn't actually know prior to the gig, but a song which instantly became a classic from hearing it once live. It has the kind of melody that you feel like you've known your whole life. Just goes to show what great songwriters these guys are.

After another encore, they came back for a final number -- a cover of He'd Be A Diamond from neo-psychedelic British band The Bevis Frond. Can't say I knew this song, and can't say I even remember it now. Interesting way to close out the gig.

Despite the discomfort factor (sore back, smoky venue, etc.) this was a very enjoyable gig!

* I can't guarantee if and when this will ever be posted.

Thursday, 1 September 2005

(What's The Story) Morning Glory?

Disclaimer: This is a review I wrote a while ago, and I'm just importing it into this blog to keep the action going (read: I'm lazy). I'll try to find time to write some new posts.

Yes, I know the Gallagher's are arrogant bastards. I even saw them in concert and discovered that they have the combined personality of a dead goldfish. But with music like this, who cares?

It's pretty popular in this day and age to dislike Oasis. Robbie Williams has turned it into an art form. But there's no denying that Noel Gallagher can write a tune like no other. And Liam turns his big brother's songs into instant classics. Bonehead, Guigsy and Whitey add their own touches, but when it comes down to it, Oasis is a family business.

This album runs like a greatest hits album. Every song is an instant classic. First there's the hits (count them, all six of them). Wonderwall, Don't look back in anger, Morning glory, Champagne supernova, Roll with it, Some might say. All classic singalongs - all pub jukebox staples. This leaves only six tracks. There's two unnamed instrumentals, just so we don't overdose on the brilliant vocals. The remaining songs Hello, Hey now!, Cast no shadow and She's electric could very easily be hits, if Oasis chose to release them.

It's only been downhill for Oasis since this album. Their arrogance reached an all-time high after this album (and its singles) became chart successes. Noel wished AIDS upon Damon Albarn from Blur. Critics ripped through their followup overlong (and underrated) album Be here now. They released their worst album Standing on the shoulder of giants. Heathen chemistry was a return to form only relative to the 2 albums before it, but it was still in a different ballpark to their first 2 albums.

This album remains a testimony to the great band that Oasis were, and may never be again.