Friday, December 30, 2005

Definitely Not Was

A little old skool r'n'b to round out 2005. Ms Bettye LaVette has flown under my radar up to now, but suddenly the critters are all raptuous about this new album, I've Got My Own Hell To Raise (latest eg, cover of Dec Rhythms -- website weird). Comparisons can be made to the Solomon Burke "comeback" album Don't Give Up on Me -- not only is it a soul legend interpreting some of the great modern songwriters but they were both produced by Joe Henry.

Diversion: That Solomon album was fab, but the follow up Make Do With What You've Got lacked alot of the same spark. And why? Why, because instead of the subtle and sensitive Joe Henry it was "produced" (more like reduced) by hack of the century Don Was. Never did that man find a mood he couldn't squash, a theme he couldn't belabour, an album he couldn't totally ruin.

End diversion.

The angle with this album is that Bettye covers songs by female singer-songwriters: Lucinda Williams (Joy), Dolly Parton (Little Sparrow), Aimee Mann, Sinead O'Connor, Joan Armatrading, Roseanne Cash and others. Her voice is pure molten soul gold and the album is funky, rich and sexy as hell.

So you've made a big fan Bettye but for gods sakes whatever you do -- don't return Was' phone calls!!

Oh, and one more thing, Colombo-like. Dig is back on the radio, Saturday nights from 6.30pm.

Prayer for Relief

It seems the long running dispute over Townes Van Zandt royalties and management of his musical legacy may finally come to a head -- eventually, it has to go through the legal system first so ... let's not be holding any breaths. This 2002 article charts the background to the stoush, which essentially comes down to Jeanene Van Zandt and Townes' kids alleging Kevin Eggers of Tomato Records has been ripping them all off for decades. The long version is contained in the complaint lodged with a New York District Court, which I have a PDF version of if anyone wants to see it.

I hope his kids finally get what's theirs.

At Home with F.E.M

Friday night artless photo blogging.

Scenes from a kitchen:

More over the fold.

Front door, stealthily liberated from the front of a Strathfield newsagency:

Balcony door triptych:

Elsewhere, creepy jackalope eyes:

Rose, personally kissed by Solomon Burke at the metro, 2004:

Next Tuesday 3rd Jan
Coopers Arms Newtown
6 ish onwards

Post New Year chill out!

More Ways to Spend Money

Several visitors of note in the next couple of months.

January 19 and 20 Terrence Simian & the Zydeco Experience Accordian legend here for the Sydney Festival, at the Spirit of New Orleans night in the Domain and the the Hyde Park Barrcks for a measly $25.

February 4
Serena Ryder at The Vanguard Next big thing who I saw a bit of opening for Steve Earle last year, I'd like to see more.

February 16 Kathleen Edwards at @Newtown. Folky, alty, rocky, country Canandian chick. Only thirty some dollars, highly recommended.

February 18 and 19 Bonnie Prince Billy at @Newtown. I run a bit hot and meh on Will Oldham but I'll probably go.

Then of course there is the Easter pre- post - Byron onslaught but looking at the line up, I won't be forking out too much.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Calling Music Nerds!

My favouritest Californian-Australian gave me a $50 HMV voucher for Christmas. Since the coming of JB-Hi to the city centre, where the range much wider and the prices much cheaper, I have barely descended into HMV recently.

As this is a free shot, I would like to spend it on one or two things I might not otherwise check out and am soliciting recommendations. From you.

Does not have to be country, I listen to a good four or five different genres of music. ;-) The last CD I bought for myself was Bettye Lavette's I've Got My Own Hell to Raise, about which I will blog some time this week. That's old skool soul/r'n'b. I can rawk, when I set my mind to it. Doesn't have to be new, 1934, '55, '73, '04. I don't care.

Something under the radar-ish? Something criminally under rated? Something you just know I'll love? Something so beloved you drunkenly corner random folks at parties and rail at them about it for hours? It can't be just me that does that.

Go crazy.

Oh, and ... Please leave a comment, I don't mind not getting them but its a bit lame when you actively ask and get none. Take pity. Don't make me look like Floppy No Friends.

Update: John in comments points me to the superbly named Wrinkle Neck Mules out of Richmond, Virginia. You can listen to three songs on the website and I'm in love. HMV won't have 'em but bob bless Paypal.

Post Christmas Easing Back with Lazy Blogging Post

iTunes 20 17 about 9pm last night. Not bad, no embarrassing Rod Stewart to explain away this time.

Matchbox Blues Tab Benoit
Five Dollar Bill Corb Lund Band
Look The World Over Odetta
Black Dog Ray Wylie Hubbard
A Certain Girl Warren Zevon
Conversation With Death Hazel Dickens, David Patrick Kelly & Bobby McMillon
It's All In The Game Bobby Bare
We're Gonna Hold On George Jones and Tammy Wynette
Me And My Destiny Sir Douglas Qunitet
The Night Red Foley Passed Away Hank Snr
When I Loved Her Kris Kristofferson
Unravel Okkervil River
Trials & Troubles Old Crow Medicine Show
Put Me Out Of Your Memory Johnny Bush
Like A Coat From The Cold Guy Clark
Boom Boom The Yardbirds
PA Ryan Adams

Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas

Drive safe, eat alot and
share your toys with your little sister.

Thursday, December 22, 2005


Since the Toe Sucking Cowgirls are so unaccountably popular here ;-) I have posted their latest email over the fold. Including Tamworth gig details. They'll also be at Woodford.


It's almost that time again when we make our annual pilgrimage to the Capital of Country Music to catch up with old friends over a beer and to make new ones in the toilet queue. Amazing who you can meet in that narrow hallway... and the stories you hear! Look out for the book "Tales from a Tamworth Toilet" - a gutwrenching read.
But before we descend on that beloved city, it's off to wonderful Woodford for Australias largest festival. Six days and nights, mornings and afternoons of festivities: music and masked balls, film and forums, circus and comedy, poets and plenty of pints of BEER. Lead us to the Guinness bar!
Tickets for the festival are only available online and will sell out, so get them early. Check the GIGS page for our performance times.

Back to Tamworth gigs. This coming festival will be all over bar the shouting (your shout that is!) for us after the first weekend as we only have four shows.
We'll be kickstarting our festival at the Goonoo Goonoo Room at the Longyard on Saturday afternoon. Somewhere you can sit down and enjoy the show with a kick ass sound system and plenty of room to table dance if the urge takes you (not much room up front I'm afraid). Tickets $18 available at the door.

Then we're off to the Family Hotel on Saturday night where you'll have ample opportunity to kick up your heels and get showered in our sweat in the process. Thong slappers are most welcome! Bring along your best open footwear for a chance to win our fabulous Flip Flop Fashion Award. Get creative!(best bring those boring shoes as well in case dress regs don’t allow this classy footwear) There’ll be a few more surprises as well. It's only a small venue so best if pre sold ticket holders get there early so we can seat you first, then it’ll be whoever we can fit in after that. Tickets can be purchased from Tourism Tamworth on 02 67675300 or online at $10 pre-sale or $15 at the door.

Back to the Family on Sunday night for our showcase of Northern Territory talent, "Crocs and Cyclones". I'm sure you'll be blown away by the awesome Neil Murray, and the talented Tom Curtain will have you smiling like a snappy handbag! Other guests include Martin Oakes, Matt Scullion, 2005 Telstra road to Tamworth finalist Jessica Mauboy and 2006 Tamworth CMAA College Graduate Marcus Meier and of course the Cowgirls. Phew, what a night. Doors open at 7pm and the show starts at 7.30pm sharp, so get in and get your bums on seats early. Tickets $10 presale from Tourism Tamworth or $15 at the door.

A new one for us this year will be our "Cowgirls and Friends" night at the Tamworth City Bowlo on Monday night. We had a great show there last year and it was such a fantastic small intimate venue, we thought it would be ideal for an up close and personal kind of thing where we can invite all our musically talented friends up for a bit of a singalong (maybe even some talented in other areas as well?!). They were all in the audience last year so it makes sense to get them up and do something rather than just sitting on their bums heckling us! Come dressed as your favourite Cowgirl/boy, a great opportunity to dust off those sequined chaps and six shooters! Keep your eye on our gigs page for updates on who'll be there.

Aside from Woodford and Tamworth, we have a few more festivals over the coming months and hopefully we’ll be back to a few of our old haunts in between.
Thankyou to all of you who have been supporting us over the years by coming to our gigs, buying our CD (and beers for us) and playing our music. We love you all. Keep it up and we’ll be saying move over Dolly and Shania before you can say Toe Sucking Cowgirls Thirteen Thongs!!!
We hope you all have a fantastic Xmas and New Year and, fingers crossed, next year will bring peace and prosperity to everyone… or at least a few good parties!
Keep on sucking what you like best…BEER! See you at the bar!

Tracey and Gleny

Tues 27th - Woodford Folk Festival, Woodford QLD "The Club" 11.10pm
Wed 28th - Woodford Folk Festival "The Globe" 3pm
Thur 29th - Woodford Folk Festival "The Club" 10.20pm
Fri 30th - Woodford Folk Festival "Troubadour" 11.50pm
Sat 31st - Woodford Folk Festival "The Club" 3.50pm
Check for more details

Sun 1st - Woodford Folk Festival "The Bazaar" 2.55pm
Fri 20th - TBC, Tamworth NSW
Sat 21st - Goonoo Goonoo Room, Longyard Hotel, Tamworth NSW 3-6pm
Tickets $18 at the door
Sat 21st - Family Hotel, Tamworth NSW 8-11.30pm
Tickets $10 available thru Tourism Tamworth 02 67675300 or online at or $15 at the door
Sun 22nd - "Crocs and Cyclones" A Territory Showcase, Family Hotel, Tamworth NSW 7-10pm. Tickets $10 available thru Tourism Tamworth 02 67675300 or online at or $15 at the door
Mon 23rd – “ Cowgirls and Friends” Tamworth City Bowls Club, Tamworth NSW 8-11pm
Tickets $15 at the door

Sun 5th - Bungendore Country Music Muster, Bungendore NSW 2pm
Fri 24th to Sun 26th - Cobargo Folk Festival, Cobargo NSW
(Check Program for times)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Portrait of the Guitarist

Over a semi-boozy Sydney Blogger Meetup a few weeks back, I extracted a semi-promise from Shaun Cronin (his music and uh, other blogging interests) for a guest post here, something I'd been thinking of for a while. Despite a first love of AC/DC, Shaun spent a wild time in LA as a country guitarist and I'm pleased to have his recollections here ....

A three part series of the misadventures of a young country guitarist in Los Angeles back in 1996-97.

Episode 1: In which Shaun goes to LA, takes a musical change in direction, enters the LA country scene, learns the tricks of the trade, finds an interesting way to attract the interest of audience members and is summarily ejected from his first country band.

Some are born to play country music. Others have country music thrust upon them. As for me, it was all about the money as it was the best chance of getting paid gigs in Los Angeles during my time there in mid-90s.

Like many young lads and lasses you hit the streets of LA with stars in your eyes and the stuff of dreams in your heart. And then reality knocks the stuffing out of you unless you are one of the lucky ones. I was not one of the lucky ones (reality had it in for me I tell you) but I had one hell of a time as a guitar player in LA. But as this is to be posted on Flop Eared Mule I won’t regale you with all the tales of life in LA but stick to my experiences as a country gun for hire.

I went to LA to study at the Musician’s Institute back in 1995. Enrolling in GIT I spent the next year and a bit immersed in music. Almost everyday was spent with a guitar in hand. There were structured classes as well as live performance workshops (pick a style and then you got up on stage to play through a few songs) and rooms were you basically jammed with an instructor. All great fun. I was a dyed in the wool blues player when I set foot in LA. The trouble is I was one of many. So about half-way through GIT I started to listen to country. Of course I had access to some great country guitarists. Steve Trovato was an instructor at the time and Lisa Purcell, who became a good friend, were very helpful in getting my chops. And there was Pedro who often seemed amused by my playing (I still remember the expression ‘atonal blues experiment') but taught me a lot.

So it came time to graduate. I decided to hang around in LA and see what I could do with my skills. Thanks to Lisa I was soon gigging in a country band down south of LA. The leader was an ex-army guy what wanted to be the next Garth Brooks or someone of similar acclaim. Initially we hit it off and got a band together.

At that time there was quite a health country scene. An obvious influence was Dwight Yoakam as well as the usual Nashville types (this was around the time when Alan Jackson’s ‘Chatahoochie’ was a huge hit). So you got to play a mixture of old classics, hip new country sounds and absolute commercial dreck (oh how I hate Brooks and Dunn).

One of the first things I discovered was that country musicians can be very narrow minded in regards to what a country guitarists should be slinging. For instance I started gigging with one of these. One day while setting up the local country patriarch (every area has one. Usually some old guy with mysterious powers of influence that all the newcomers look up to. If he can actually play it is a miracle) came by and with barely disguised disdain asked “Can it twang?” “A Strat can do whatever you want it to do, mate” should have been my reply. But it would have been wasted on the ignorant. I eventually did graduate to a proper country guitar (which I still have) but the comment still rankles. Pissing off the patriarch is not a good start.

In a most bands the band members chat between sets. In this band the drummer rarely said anything to me. The bass player, singer (and leader) and I got along well enough. I thought this was strange. The drummer seemed to hold his own court with the others which I thought this was strange. Not to worry. You can’t please everyone and I’m sure that he would come around and we’ll be able to have a good chat.

In relation to the LA Country music scene we were on the outer rims, in the desolate lands of covers and disinterested audiences. The one time someone in the audience did show interest it was a drunken tirade directed at me for not playing the solo in ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ properly. As a guitarist, I’m happy to learn the chord progression and signature licks and riffs when playing covers. But be buggered if I was going to learn and play every solo as the recording. I ain’t no jukebox. The ego demanded a creative outlet and if I had the chance I was going to let rip in my own fashion (cue the Boatshed at Manly about 5 years when for some reason I found myself playing SHA again and let rip with a wildly inappropriate cascading, jazzy, chromatic run in the middle of the song that sounded quite cool. Take that drunken American audience guy!)

Still this was a great training ground. I learnt the arcane arts of playing songs I’ve never heard before, built up a repertoire of country standards, honed my licks and experienced being booted from the band.

In hindsight the omen the end was nigh was when the drummer started talking to me all friendly like at a gig one night. The next day I got a call from the singer saying thanks but they are going to experiment with another guitarist. Bastards. Could they not recognize raw Aussie talent? To be fair raw was the correct word as I was still finding my feet as a country guitarist. Not that I was playing crap as I did well at GIT – just inexperienced. And I have this habit of wanting to meld styles more than play a straight sound. But thems the breaks in the small country clubs south of LA. Not that the singer ever went anywhere from what I know.

So I bemoaned my fate a little bit and wondered what to do now without $50 a night from playing gigs. But thanks to Lisa another opportunity came my way and I was at it again.

Episode 2: In which Shaun joins another country band and moves one rung higher in the local scene, experiences the wondrous mysteries of an Elks lodge, is asked by cops whether he is carrying drugs or guns, sees one way to diffuse a fight and gains revenge by kicking the drummer out of the band.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

31 Sleeps

Thoughts turning to Tamworth --- and the holiday from work associated therewith. See artist's impression, right.


Booked train ticket up. Done!
Start hassling people to borrow tent.
Find passport so they'll let me into Wests Diggers.
Start planning the perfect 512MB worth of music to load on the iPod.
Locate Joe McGuire stubbie holder from last year.
Buy a goddamn portable fan!
Linedancing lessons
Think about applying for Golden Guitars media accreditation. Heh.
Resolve to be virtuous and only have the bacon and egg brekkie at the footy club four or five times a week.


Rage Page Helen is all over it as usual. Check out the schedules for most of the main venues.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Monday: Dylan group Christmas get together at The Abercrombie (formerly The Australia) cnr Abercrombie and George St. 7ish. Out the back in the beer garden. If you've never come along, or haven't in a while, do consider it. It's not as horribly geeky as it sounds. Drop me an email if you want further details.

Sat and Sun: Yesterday and Today sale.

Saturday 17th December
Hours: 7am - 4pm

Sunday 18th December
Hours: 9am - 2pm

This is all new stock, especially brought in for the sale. There will be mainly cds and dvds plus a few books. Lots of the very latest US releases with heaps of bluegrass, Americana, mainstream, honky tonk, box sets & much more. Most is not released locally. Prices start at $2....many cds at $10 each or 3 for $25.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Penultimate Post for This Week

Woke up in a cold sweat at 3am (dream: Oscars, Bob Dylan, somekind of research facility or university, Meg Ryan) and realised Dwight Yoakam's Blame the Vain unaccountably left off the Best Of list. Sorry. On the other hand, I heard Dwight's Come On Christmas yesterday and it's a bit dreadful.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

James Blunt R.I.P

From the blog a beautiful revolution. Found via the wonderful Bodhi at the wonderful blog by the wonderful The Other Andrew.

File Under: Nothing Surprises Me Anymore

For real?

Music icon Bob Dylan has signed on with XM Satellite Radio to host a weekly radio show beginning in March 2006, featuring songs hand-selected from Dylan's personal music collections, plus interviews, commentary and e-mails from fans.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Crossposted at HickoryWind.

When you go outside at 5am and immediately start to sweat you know it's almost Christmas. And Christmas means Best Of end of year lists. Instead of an albums list (which I may do too, eventually), here is Flop Eared Mule's Official Best Songs of 2005 list. For today.

The number one song is a definite lock in but the others are pretty even so I haven't ranked them. Not confined to an arbitrary number like 10 either. I decided on a more relevant system: the amount of music that fits on your average blank CD.

19 songs

Shelter from the Storm -- Rodney Crowell and Emmylou Harris from The Outsider
Those who know me know I'm fairly stingy in my praise for Dylan covers. But Shelter is a good candidate, Emmylou has a second to none track record and Crowell is a confirmed favourite so I was excited to hear this version. Lovely, and the lilting rhythm is orginal while also recalling the original.

Rhymer -- Mary Gauthier (... say "go-shay", y'all... ) from Mercy Now
I could have gone for the superlative I Drink (god, what a song), but since that was also of Mary's second album Drag Queens and Limousines, I picked this Harlan Howard cover for the heartachingly beautiful sadness she brings to it.

Long Time Comin' -- Bruce Springsteen from Devils & Dust
Ah, Boss. How many times is it you've saved rock and roll now? Four, five? In the recent Uncut cover story, coinciding with the Born to Run 30th anniversary reissue, Nick Hasted closes a otherwise good article with this wrong!wrong!wrong! observation: "In subsequent years, he would gradually abandon Born to Run's grand drive and romantic dreams, reducing himself to the resigned whispers of Nebraska and The Ghost of Tom Joad. His great songs would prove to be about compromise, ageing and defeat: the future he must has glimpsed for himself , without his breakthrough's roar of youthful release, 30 long years ago." But not so! Sure, Bruce's characters have had a parallel trajectory to his own, which means adding layers of experience and ambivalence but the original spirit of Born to Run has always been there. It's just that other things have been added, the Springsteen universe has expanded and nothing has been loss. Long Time Comin' is a wonderful melding of both things. A joyous spirit but obviously in the voice of man whose been around the block (ain't gonna fuck it up this time). He's still the best in the business. And what a lovely blessing this is:

Well if I had one wish in this god forsaken world, kids
It'd be that your mistakes would be your own
Yea your sins would be your own

I Had a Real Good Time -- Delbert McClinton from Cost of Living
For playing at my funeral. FYI.

Tell Ol'Bill -- Bob Dylan from the North Country Soundtrack
Honey, why'd you have to ask?

Beautiful Despair by Rodney Crowell from The Outsider
Rodney gets his second just for the opening lines:

Beautiful despair is hearing Dylan
when you're drunk at 3am
Knowing that, no matter what
The chances are you'll never write like him
Oh, brother.

All You Can Cheat -- Robbie Fulks from Georgia Hard
There a number of honourable mentions from this Robbie-Goes-Countrypolitan album. I chose this because cheesy wordplay has a rich history in country music and, despite giving cheap laughs to the terminally ignorant, should be celebrated.

oh no wait, I have to include this one too ....

If They Could Only See Me Now -- Robbie Fulks from Georgia Hard
A sort of parallel universe bastard stepson to Lefty Frizzell's Saginaw, Michigan I reckon. Poor boy makes good, er, bad. Classic murder ballad.

When My Love Crosses Over -- John Hiatt from Master of Disaster
Cold River -- John Hiatt from Master of Disaster
Another more than solid album from Hiatt. He has a bit of a thing for rivers and rain and water in general as a metaphor doesn't he? Low key and dreamy love and life songs.

Move Along Train -- Marty Stuart feat. Mavis Staples from Soul's Chapel
It's a bit wrong to only have one song from this album here. Any number of the track coulda made the list.

Clay Pigeons -- John Prine from Fair and Square
I like John Prine. I don't go wacky over him like some, but I'm glad there are people who go wacky over him. It says something exceedingly good about the world, I think.

Streets of Love -- The Rolling Stones from A Bigger Bang
Let Me Down Slow -- The Rolling Stones from A Bigger Bang
Enough of this sensitive singer-songwriter shit.

Grapevine -- Tom Russell from Hotwalker
Cali-Okie honky tonk. Dustbowl refugees and the runaway American dream.

Me and Bobby McGee-- Dolly Parton feat. Kris Kristofferson from Those Were the Days
Just a ripped up fun version, great harp from my man Kris.

Hard Way to Fall -- Ryan Adams and the Cardinals from Jacksonville City Nights
My, he's sounding all growed up isn't he? I love the pedal steel, Ryan. You should do that more often.

Captain of A Shipwreck -- Neil Diamond from 12 Songs
Neil must get a mention in this most remarkable of years for him. A pretty stunning comeback under production guru Rick Rubin and finally a bit of cred.

and the number one song of the year ...

Woodrow by Tom Russell from Hotwalker
The album splits people about right down the middle - I fall on the "crazy love it" side of the fence but even if you don't, you can't go past this angry and beautiful ode to Woody Guthrie. Tom gets a few of his pet political and social gripes in their too. Idionsyncratic and a bit strange. How can it possibly be topped next year?

Wonderful Trouble

Am about to put up my official end of year Best Of list and this bloke figures very highly. Tom Russell, he's got a snazzy new website and a road diary, which is not just a If This is Tuesday travelogue but a typically rich literary and musical journey.

I invited thirteen gorgeous rockabilly gals up on stage to sing “Mohammed Ali” in Malmo. The high point of the tour. On we went to Amsterdam and on into Belgium. Sang at the A.B. in Brussels where Iggy Pop made his recent amazing video. Some Cat with a house deep in the wild woods of Holland had 150 Bob Dylan bootlegs. He served us a gourmet meal and played French Bal Musette Music. On down the road to Amsterdam. It was raining on the canals and we filled the Paradisio small room and then took pictures in front of the neon hooker windows. An old friend of Bukowski's led me through the rainy Amsterdam night. It's all a blur, as it should be. A slow dream.
The tour ended up in Dover, in a water mill where some gentleman who used to play harmonica for the Yardbirds sat in on blues harp. The Bob Dylan movie played on the BBC the night we were at Dingwall's in London. I had to wait until I got back to El Paso to watch it. I was stunned. Moving, wonderful, apocalyptic. I was left with a feeling of awe and the sense that it was all done 40 years ago. All that remains is to define things in terms of your own personal ragged art, and struggle out on stage and stagger on through the night; away from anything trendy and programmed. Attempt something nova-honest and bone hard. Everything else is a lie....there is nothing new under the sun. What is this Americana Bullshit? No Depression? Alt Country? Alliances and networking? Art is as close, or as a deep, as the last chilling song you heard, and I ain't heard many. I need to write a few. Fuck it. Americana is Bob Dylan and Iggy Pop. Lucinda Williams. Hard Times in Babylon by Eliza.

Things I Won't Do #27

Drink skim milk.

There was some in the office fridge so I put it on my Weetbix. What a misery spawning product it is!

Weetbix + Skim Milk = Thin, tasteless, grey Dickensian gruel.

I refuse to start my day making like crippled Lil' Meg Crackleswaitingate about to set off at dawn to walk 25 miles to work at the match factory to save my ginsoaked parents and fifteen poorly siblings from the debtors' prison.

I just won't.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Rock? Definately.

Shaun, whom I was pleased to finally meet at the Sydney Blog pub thingo last week, has a new website: Rock 'n' Roll Damnation. Go say hello, flannos at the ready.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Rock? Not!

The email from his mother went:

The Boy [not real name] is big on viking lego but I was only able to get a couple of the smaller sets here. I also want to get him some music – he wants Queen but I was also thinking of green day – or is there some rocking-yet-inoffensive Australian band that I could support.

The annual working group on Chrissie presents for the kiddies. The Boy is an 11 year old who in few months between last two visits went from a crew cutted little one to a shaggy haired extra from The O.C. Now he wants Queen! Or Green Day! At least he still likes Lego.

Volunteering for the task of music wrangling, I hit the cheapo CD shops in the city yesterday.

The music young people are listening to these days is a great confusion to me. "Magic Dirt", I have heard your name. But what you do, or are, I simply cannot say. According to All Music you are a "fuzz-drenched noise unit from Geelong" which I'm afraid doesn't help. I didn't buy you. Sorry.

Good Charlotte I had the vague idea were some kind of baby punks and might fit the bill. On the cover they look identical to Green Day and in the liner notes they all shout out thanks to their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who gave them the talent and without whom they are nothing. Rocking yet inoffensive? I hope so.

From there I stuck with what I knew. Yes, Boy, you may listen to Green Day. But if that's your thing you will also be listening to The Clash and The Stooges. (UPDATE: Forgot, I also bought The Datsuns.)

As much as it pained me to do it, I also bought some Beatles for the lad. Please Please Me. Kids dig the Beatles. With Dylan you have to be a little more discerning lest you fry their tiny minds. Science has conclusively proven in clinical trials that not enough synapses are fused together in your brain at that age to process the infinite possibilities projected from the average Dylan studio album. The information builds up in there but has nowhere to go. It fries their brain!

But the Beatles are safe for painless tween consumption.

Of course I will make up a carefully selected personal Dylan compilation for The Boy too. Natch.

Finally, I purchased a 4 CD "Rock Box." On the cover a denimed leg and leather boot rest provocatively on a motorbike. Rock. The front cover promises:

Nazareth Anthrax * Elp
Asia * Yes * Thunder *The Stranglers
Alice Cooper * Deep Purple
Robert Palmer * And Many Others

Rock? More or less.

CD 1. Smoke on the Water! Uriah Heep! Rick Wakeman, "Paint it Black". I don't like the sound of that. Not at all. Is it with, like, bells? But, no, this is not for me. It's all about The Boy. He might like the bells. The Stranglers live!


CD 2. More of the same.


CD 3. Jean Michel Jarre "Oxygene Part 4" Not rock, BUT I recall loving it as a tyke. So OK. Smoke on the Water AGAIN! Rock! More random prog rock.


CD 4. Take That! Rock! .... uh, hold on. What? Take That? Backstreet Boys? Ace of Base? Boyzone? This sneaky fourth CD is called "Boys & Girls Vol. 1" and has a cover of green and yellow bubbles in contrast to the others which feature sombre tones, electric guitars, lightning strikes and, uh, kickboxers. (rock!)

Cornelia Grolimund doing "Das Puppenhaus (Radio Edit)"? Not Rock.

J'accuse Membran International GmbH of Kroonstucken of attempting to offload a warehouse full of crappy K-tel euro pop by slipping it in a product you are pleased to call a "Rock Box." Did you think we wouldn't notice? It wouldn't matter that we wanted Uriah Heep and got a swag of German techo acts so obscure I can't even find websites for them to link snarkily to????

Think again. We noticed.

Boy, did we notice.


New Mp3 blog devoted to ... twang.

By “twang,” we may mean anything from mainstream country (gasp!) to whatever passes for alternative country these days, from traditional/classic country and bluegrass to current and mostly unheard honky-tonk. And anything else we decide to define as twangy.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

It's Pronounced "Michael"

Mikal Gilmore was interviewed by Richard Wilkins on Today this morning, on the topic of John Lennon. Here is his new Rolling Stone tribute, a topic of great indifference to me personally but obviously I'm wrong about that.

The point is, Gilmore is one of my favourite writers on music. If various bloggers didn't exist he'd be further up the list. I've probably gone through all this on the blog before but he's worth recommending twice. There is one collection of articles, Night Beat. I can't locate my copy right now so I can't give you excerpts and the like. Trust me already.

His other book is a knockout. Shot in the Heart is a non fiction account of his childhood and youth, along with that of his rather more infamous brother, Gary Gilmore. He was executed by firing squad in Utah in 1977, raising more than the usual fuss by refusing all appeals on his behalf and declairing his desire to die. Amazing book. Tough, but amazing.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Well, Mr Dylan never ceases to surprise and delight.

Eat the Document is apparently being officially released.

Not content with this news alone, Amazon plays with our heads:

Availability: This title will be released on December 31, 1969. You may order it now and we will ship it to you when it arrives

Crazy, man.


FYI the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line will be released in Aust on February 2nd.

Also on the 2nd, North Country which features the new Dylan song Tell Ol' Bill on the soundtrack.

A few weeks later Capote which has no on topic link I can think of but I'm a bit of a Truman fan, and Philip Seymour Hoffman is supposed to be brilliant in it.

Fifty Million Beers
Sunday 11th Dec
Botany View Hotel Newtown 6pm

click on pic for larger version

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Debts, Musical and Otherwise

Crossposted at HickoryWind.

We're fortunate at the moment a couple of veteran country/roots rockers are enjoying a particularly rich patch. I'm thinking particularly of Tom Russell, Rodney Crowell and Marty Stuart who have all released CDs this year that make my personal top five or ten. In Marty's case, he's released two. One was the gospel Soul's Chapel, the second is Badlands, Ballads of the Lakota. I've looked forward to it not just because a new Marty Stuart is pretty special but also because its also an explicit follow up to one of my favourite albums, one of the most underrated ever : Johnny Cash's Bitter Tears.

Let's take a step back. Johnny Cash was always as much a folk singer as a country one, and the case of Bitter Tears is just one example of the spirit that makes him a revered figure like no other. A rare (indeed) popular music name who was also political but appeals equally to evangelicals and atheists, hawks, doves, you name it. It's only the indifferent who miss the train, I guess. Enraged by radio reluctance to play "The Ballad of Ira Hayes", Cash famously took out a full page ad in Billboard (as he would 30 years later, addressed to much the same people ....):

DJs, station managers, owners, etc., where are your guts? I'm not afraid to sing the hard bitter lines that the song of Oliver La Farge wrote ... Classify me, categorize me -- STIFLE me, but it won't work ... I am fighting no particular cause. If I did it would soon make me a sluggard. For as time changes, I change. You're right! Teenage girls and Beatle-record buyers don't want to hear the sad story of Ira Hayes -- but who cries more easily, and who always goes to sad movies to cry??? Teenage girls. Some of you "Top 40" DJs went all out for this at first. Thanks anyway. Maybe the program director or station manager will reconsider. This ad (go ahead and call it that) costs like hell. Would you, or those pulling the strings for you, go to the mike with a new approach? That is, listen to the record again?

Regardless of the trade charts -- the categorising, classifying and restrictions of airplay, this is not a country song, not as it is being sold. It is a fine reason for the gutless to give it the thumbs down. 'Ballad of Ira Hayes' is strong medicine. So is Rochester -- Harlem -- Birmingham and Vietnam ... I've blown my horn now; just this once, then no more. Since I've said these things now, I find myself not caring if the record is programmed or not. I won't ask you to cram it down their throats. But ... I had to fight back when I realised that so many stations are afraid of "The Ballad of Ira Hayes." Just one question: WHY????

(labouriously copied out from the recent Cash bio by Stephen Miller)

As it turned out Ira Hayes made number three on the country chart and the album too was a reasonable commercial success. Ira Hayes was written by Peter LaFarge whom I was glad to see get a namecheck as in No Direction Home, he's a whole post of his own for another day.

Forty one years later, we're pretty jaded about this stuff -- Live Aid/8, fugly white wristbands, forty odd years of social and musical revolution yadda yadda -- but Bitter Tears still hits home with its thematic starkness, uncompromising vision and, most unexpectedly, venom. Really, there's a lot of anger here. And that it was all done by a mainstream star in 1964 ... well, that still impresses me.

Bitter Tears retained the Cash signature boom chika beat in parts, and Badlands thankfully still has that rich Fabulous Superlatives' "hillbilly rock" sound. It's not just a homage by Marty Stuart to his mentor Cash. His interest in native American issues goes back a long way, he and Connie Smith were married on a reservation and he has studied at an Ogala college. I find the album mercifully free of stifling earnestness and airbrushing, the songs stack up by themselves and of course Marty's haunting velvety voice is in spine chilling form. Particularly on something like "Listen to the Children", where he goes all low and slow ... aiiiiiyyeeeeee.

On a few listenings the stand out tracks are the fierce rocking "Broken Promise Land" which certainly recalls Bitter Tears; the Presidents have changed, but the story remains the same. The trenchant "So You Want To Be an Indian" hits its mark against those who would idealise the lifestyle as a touchy feely new age paradise. "Casino" is like a reworked "Ballad of Ira Hayes," although the protagonist is a sadder one even than the Iwo Jima hero.

But as a concept album, the strength of Badlands is not really in individual songs (a brave move of itself in Era iPod) but the overall world created and reflected. I still place it a rung or so below the great Bitter Tears, but it's a fine successor and an adornment to the rapidly ending country music year.

Saturday, December 03, 2005


Next Tuesday 6th Dec
Coopers Arms Newtown
6 ish onwards for conviviality and trivia

Spread the word.

...i don't like to smoke afterwards...

Felling a little bluesy today. (in a good way)

Sat Night:

He Was a Friend of Mine -- Dave Van Ronk (2.4mb)
High Sheriff -- David Johansen and the Harry Smiths (3.3mb)
Joyride -- Ray Wylie Hubbard (2.4mb)
Blues Hangover -- Slim Harpo (5mb)

Sun Morn:

We Shall Overcome -- Odetta with the Boys Choir of Harlem (3.2mb)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Greil Marcus can annoy and I've no great desire to read any more of his sometimes insufferable books, but this essay on No Direction Home is almost coherent and likeable. I got sidetracked from the posts I was going to do on NDH but one would've been about what Scorsese brings to it as a film-maker (the film-maker), which Marcus touches on.