Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Since I mentioned Rosanne Cash on Sunday. If your not familiar (and even if you are) this article is good place for people to start. Her conflict over Walk the Line is very moving and intelligently expressed I think.

Pay The Devil (To Sit Through It)

Crossposted at HickoryWind.

Pay the Devil
Van Morrison
Lost Highway

The second time I listened to this album I didn't hate it quite as much as the first time. Who knows, if I gave it a few more spins I might make it to "indifference."

Van Morrison. Really great songs. Bombproof songs, really. A band with the necessary chops on paper. Why is this album so boring, and sometimes a baffling mess?

The band has a thin, tinny sound. The Nashville Sound strings and backing singers are generally heavy handed and weirdly placed. There are some instrumental breaks that actually sound like they are played by a human being but they're rare and only draw attention to the Casio Keyboard Backing Track Number 6 quality of the rest of it.

But these are good players so I guess we have to blame the producer who is listed as ... Van Morrison. Ahem.

Van himself is uneven and sounds unsure where to go on alot of the songs. He’s good on “What Am I Living For” and “Till I Gain Control”, OK on some others and terrible on “Once A Day.” A really, truly terrible performance. That’s particularly disappointing since it’s one of my very favourite classic country numbers, but he rushes it out like he’s following a bouncing ball. What's going on? Weird, I tell ya. It's all just weird.

I’d like to hear some live renditions of these songs before I completely write off the idea, the pieces are all there. Live maybe the band gets to break loose, and Van wakes up.

And maybe we've just been spoiled over the years by the rush of musicians paying homage to their influences. We've just accepted that a great artist with a great bunch of covers is going to deliver an album of rootsy magnificence. I like to think Van still can, but not with this disappointing mess.

Monday, February 27, 2006


If there is one thing guaranteed to get a Monday off to a scowling start, it is the frakin' words "internet presales."

These words are EVIL!

This concept is EVIL!

If you can't be bothered to camp out for your tickets then bad frigging luck for poor pathetic you. Go away. You are not worthy. You are a joke. I spit on your grandmother. Buy your tickets online, great. In between online sudoko and What Hello Kitty Character Are You? quizzes, bully for frigging you. You get to sit in a different postcode, OK? You do not get to be in the same local government area as your chosen rock stars, whom you like but not enough shift the cat from your lap to get tickets.

That. is. what. you. deserve.

When I am God-Emperor I swear I'll ... well, let's just say watch your back Dainty.


Sunday, February 26, 2006


J.R Cash

February 26 1932 --- September 11 2003

I cannot move a mountain now
I can no longer run
I cannot be who I was was then
In a way, I never was.

"September When It Comes"
Rosanne Cash and Johnny Cash duet.
From Rosanne Cash's Rules of Travel (2003)

I should've quoted that song in my Cash review, more appropriate for that, but I'm sure Johnny would want me to give Rosanne a plug. She's a wonderful, steel strong artist in her own right and has a new album out.

Friday, February 24, 2006

One Question #2

Info about this here.

Thanks this week to Francis Xavier Holden, keeper of all things righteous in the Oz blogosphere. Find him at LAN Downunder. It's like 6 questions, but it's FXH so he gets a pass. Also, those of us born the year Elvis died do not say "nearly 30 years" we say "almost less than 29 years". For future reference. Thanks.

FX's question:

Mr Presley. It's been nearly 30 years since you died. Have there been any
songs you've heard that were written since your death you'd be keen to do
live? For your own pleasure. Any song since then you found yourself
humming? Anyone since then you'd like to duet with? Any bands you like to
do a few gigs with? Thank you.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Friday, February 17, 2006

One Question #1

See the post immediately below for details. Thanks to Shaun Cronin for agreeing to be the first to come up with a question. Shaun blogs at Rock'n'Roll Damnation and Larvatus Prodeo, and sometimes at Flop Eared Mule.

Here's Shaun:

As the first questioner I was tempted to ponder philosophical with some of the great names of music. Oh what wonderful questions I could ask of a Dylan, a Springsteen, a Richards, a Starr or a Lee Roth. As for a Bono we all know what he thinks so what would be the point?

But simple is best.

I would choose Angus Young of AC/DC and my question would be "Can a band call themselves a rock'n'roll band if they have never heard of Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Muddy Waters and Elvis Presley?"

What Was It You Wanted?

A new Friday event. I was looking through a Rolling Stones message board and one of the threads was "One Question for Keith Richards" as in, if you could ask one question, what would it be? Most of the answers (questions) are lame-o but I thought it was a neat-o idea. So every week (hopefully) I'll be inviting someone to pose a question to the musical identity of their choice.

Some loose guidelines:

Doesn't have to be a country/blues/rock person. Whoever you want. Although if you choose a shadowy Dresden-based psytrance jungles beatz impresario, you might find the conversation a bit light on.

You can ask whatever you want but I'd probably discourage things like "Can I have your autograph?" (see KR thread above) since, like, hello? Boring. Cheap, and boring. Also, nowhere for it to go conversation wise. Nobody here but us music geeks.

You can speculate about an answer if you wish. Commentators encouraged to also.

Of course if most of us met our heroes we would be slack jawed and bumbling. We could not form questions. I couldn't anyway. For this exercise, assume you are perfectly lucid and relaxed.

Also, assume you could get a straight answer. Even Dylan wilts into transperancy under your probing.

Here's your chance to get the great musical questions of our age answered! (sort of)

If any commenters or anyone else wants to have a stab (if you have a blog, you're probably already on my list. Prepare for a tap ont he shoulder), email me.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Find of the year thus far.

Vault Radio is a stream of live shows recorded by legendary promoter Bill Graham.

Now Playing:
The Grateful Dead
Turn On Your Love Light
08/05/1967 O'Keefe Center

Bruce Springsteen
Thunder Road
12/15/1978 Winterland


One of these ...

(ended up being : Cream Tales of Brave Ulysses 03/10/1968 Winterland)

Lovely photo of Earl Scruggs and his wife Louise, who died recently. Stolen from Jon Weisberger's obituary of Mrs Scruggs in the Nashville Scene. A remarkable woman, the grossly under-appreciated role of Earl and his sons in the development of the country rock phenom is one I keep meaning to highlight. Louise has a big role in that, and in his earlier career. His earlier career of course being "inventing bluegrass."

Monday, February 13, 2006

Canadian singer Kathleen Edwards is on @ Newtown this Thursday night. Also, Friday:

The Chicken in Black. The song is from an early 80s session with Billy Sherrill which remains unreleased. Probably not a bad thing.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Update: Shaun has some picks of his own.
Time's a wastin' and this is how I'm wasting it today. Discovered
YouTube, like Flickr but for sharing video. A search for Bob Dylan brings up much goodness.

The excellent video for Jokerman.
Watch Bruce Springsteen and Eric Clapton manfully try to sing harmony with him.
Several duets with Johnny Cash, including a relaxed One Too
Many Mornings
. Then watch Bobby do Train of Love at the
Johnny Cash tribute in 1999. People can upload personal vids too,
like this five year old recreating the Subterranean Homesick
Blues film
A few others I've been watching:
A 14yo old Hank Jr on Ed Sullivan.
Hank Snr with Anita Carter, intro'd by June
Cash goes Celtic, 40 Shades of Green
Son House -- Death Letter Blues
Flying Burrito Bros -- Older Guys The boys go wacky on a boat
This is great. Johnny Cash and Emmylou Harris. Marty Stuart on
mandolin, his jacket compliments his mullet perfectly.
Aretha -- I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You
Waylon and Willie -- Good Hearted Woman Is that Emmylou there too? Up the back with the bad perm?
Lucinda Williams -- World Without Tears
Gillian Welch and David Rawlings
R.E.M. & Bruce Springsteen - Man on the Moon
Earl Scruggs with Dylan

Friday, February 10, 2006

John Corbett and Me: A Love Story

Back in the early 90s Northern Exposure was my favourite show and my sister and I bonded in mutual appreciation of DJ Chris Stevens, as portrayed by John Corbett. And then, the show was axed and he disappeared.

Then he reappeared in my life via that Wedding movie and Sex and the City, and I thought, "My God. You are such a wuss. What on earth was I thinking???"

And now Act III:

Actor-turned-singer John Corbett is thrilled to have finally ditched his acting career, insisting he only ever accepted roles in a bid to raise money for his country music calling. The star is currently wowing audiences with his special brand of "country rock with a little bit of roll" and has vowed to stay away from the screen for as long as possible.

The music seems to be passable anthemic country rock, could be fun. He also says country music was always his first love. On the down side, the photo below is totally Spinal Tap and he called his record label "Fun Bone."

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Useless and Pointless Knowledge #65906

Walk the Line is number one at the Aust box office this week with $2,079,378, and also the 9th highest February opening week ever. The press has been great here, even without any of the stars doing the rounds in person, will be interesting to see how it fares after the first week.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Rancho Deluxe

Crossposted at HickoryWind.

It's summer, you're out in the country and you've found yourself some shade and a beer. What do you want to listen to? If you're like me, the self titled debut album from Rancho Deluxe. Of course I'm now back in my inner-city flat on a working day with a Diet Coke, but it still sounds just as sweet.

The band, from LA, is a regular three piece -- singer Mark Adams, guitarist and bassist Jesse and Graham Harris -- and on the album are joined by a swag of hot players, one name jumping out for the Dylan freak that is me. Don Heffington on drums, and if you have anything to do with "Brownsville Girl" you may count on my reverence forever. Also sitting in is pedal steel player JayDee Maness (Sweetheart of the Rodeo among many others), so the music is all there.

The guitar nerds will find plenty to attract their interest, me I home in on the memorable melodies, sweet harmonies and relatable lyrics. Mark Adams' vocals can glide along with the cruisy West Coast vibe but also has an attractive edge. Rock Bottom opens the album on a crowd pleasing, toe tapping note and impressive songs follow one after the other. It's the whole sound of the thing which keeps me coming back though, a very satisfying trip back to the roots of Californian country.

Monday, February 06, 2006


Tamworth 2006 January 19th-January 27th. All music, all the time.

It's longish and there are photos. There are many more and much better photos at the Tamworth Rage Page. You can click on any of the pics for bigger versions.

Camping at North Tamworth Bears rugby league ground (Group 4 Premiers 2005). Go the Bears.

This is Camp FEM. My little tent is not as big and impressive as some others but I won't hear a word against her. When the inevitable storm hit town, I sat in Joe Maguires Pub, watched the horizontal rain and whipping wind blow the umbrellas clear across the beer garden and all I could do was ... hope. Turned out, where others had fallen the little tent remains and inside was not a drop. Bone dry. Go little tent!

The first night I arrived was the night before the official kick off but the lead up to Tamworth started weeks ago. At the revamped Diggers club I had dinner at Pablo's Mexican Restairant, where the food is fresh out of the Old El Paso box. A few steps away in the beer garden, Johnny Green's Blues Cowboys were clearing the cobwebs . I took photos, they suck. Go here.

Recollection of chronology breaking down at this point.

The one and only Wanita down on Peel St. Wanita and her Honky Tonk Bar Dwellers were all over Tamworth which is only a good thing.

TRP has some good pics too of Wanita with Danny Mack at the Albert (fmr. City Tavern). I heard Danny's name spoken from various people and I was not disappointed when I first got to see him at The Pub during one of Bill Chambers' showcases. A Canadian singer-songwriter, awesome voice, a good bloke, tremendous covers and a swag of great originals. I've got the CDs right here. He was rather the talk of the festival in my circle. He and his lovely wife Bonnie have moved out here permanently now (Canberra, but nobody's perfect) and I'm sure you'll be hearing more about him on these pages. I got some decent snaps when he sat in with my Sydney favourites Rob Luckey and the Lucky Bastards with Gleny on fiddle:

With Smithy on bull fiddle.

In fact, the joint was rather awash with Canadians this year, including the lovely Mad Violet who played every Midday at the Albert. Happily the Albert is halfway from the campsite to the Peel St mall, so it was a nice way to break up the arduous 15 minute walk.

Speaking of Bill Chambers, his Pub Sessions are always packed but must-see at least once. Kasey Chambers got up and did a few numbers with new hubby Shane Nicholson, with adorable son Talon in tow. See the Rage Page again for brilliant pictures. Kasey and Shane married recently and according to the Daily Telegraph, the bride was wearing "jeans and a Bob Dylan t-shirt." Which immediately begs the question, which Bob Dylan t-shirt? I know my readers expect nothing less so I made someone else go and try to find out. Nothing was delivered.

The buskers are always fun and in my definition of fun I include the concept "sometimes excrutiating." But I admire them all greatly. In the local papers the local council honchos were making noises about this being "a music festival, not just a country music festival." Good luck, crazy people.

I call this next picture: Rack off back to Byron, hippies!

These band of wandering Peruvian troubadours always pulled a crowd. I didn't mind them so much. They can stay.

One of the best going around is Mark Lucas and the Dead Setters. Not you average country music -- although you know I love that -- and knockout original songs. The refurbished Joe Macguire's was an atrocious venue, acoustics were shocking but I hope at some point people actually got to listen properly to the words and music because they deserve it. TRP pictures.

Gleny Rae is a Tamworth favourite as part of the Toe Sucking Cowgirls and this year fronted her own band the Tamworth Playboys. As the name suggests, western swing. Yay! Here they are at the Southgate Inn with Rob Luckey guesting and below the band does some showboating. (more pictures)

Brisbane rockabilly boys the Chrome Daddies rocked out at usual.

Mrs Wainwright are a terrific newish Melbourne folky outfit who I was disappointed to miss in Sydney recently, so made sure I caught up with them. Check out the website linked, listen to some tracks and get along if they're in your neighbourhood.

I went to the Golden Guitar. It was bad. Would Slim approve of $3.50 cappucino in a styrofoam cup? I think we all know the answer to that.

Wax Smoky:

The Tex Morton travelling museum rocks however! Go Tex.

The Red Hot Poker Dots pleasing crowds at Joe Maguires. L'il Odette.

Joe's had a few probs from the inside, but outside was pretty cool. The view from the hill.

Finally getting my Tamworth post together, what I can remember of it anyways. In the meantime, enjoy an artistic presentation I like to call : Foodblogging, Tamworth Style.

Sausage sanger at The Pub watching Bill Chambers.

Mmmmm yellow meat. Really, $7.95 fillet meal at the Tudor. Men have been killed for less.

By me. Note hat.

Possibly the same meal as above, on a different day.

Australia Day 2006. Bangkok restaurant, North Tamworth.

I was going to do a whole Foodblogging: Tamworth Style extravaganza. But I got bored.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

More info on the new Van Morrison album mentioned below. Can't link directly which is stupid but go here then News then 'press release' and 'new biography.'

On Pay The Devil, Morrison explores his inner cowboy more than ever before ... Through it all, Morrison proves to be one hell of a fine, subtle straight-ahead country singer in the grand tradition of George Jones.

We shall see.

Comrade Rockstar

Back in the day, I was doing my bit to help Our Russian Friends take their full place in today's global economy by drilling the past participles, showing them how to stick their tongues out to pronounce "th" and extensive in-class use of find-a-words.

One day we were killing time consolidating new structures by asking and answering "Who's/what's/where's the [superlative] ...?" questions, one of which was "Who's the most famous person you've met?" One middle aged studentka, let's call her Olga, if for no other reason than that was actually her name, replied brightly:


D ..... ?

Din Rid!

.... ?

Diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiid!

Dean Reed, it turns out. The Red Elvis. The most famous American in the USSR. The man who took rock and roll behind the iron curtain. Friend to Phil Everly and assorted dictators, and maybe murdered by the Stasi. Well, maybe not. I recently read the very engaging Comrade Rockstar: In Search of Dean Reed by Reggie Nadelson.

Music, politics, showbiz, dreams fulfilled and dreams devastated. What's not to like?

Picture this. All American boy nicknamed Slim from Wheat Ridge Colorado sets out for Hollywood in the late '50s and somewhere along the way picks up a ragged looking hitchhiker. Bum says, hey, I've got contacts in the music biz out there. You give me a new pair of trousers and money for a hotel room and I'll pass on your name. Yeah, sure but Dean helps him out anyway. Turns out the guy knows Voyle Gilmore, primo producer at Capitol and suddenly Dean has a contract. Classic showbiz story, or what? The rest is hardly less remarkable. Off to South America to capitalise on a small pop hit he discovers two things: leftist politics and how he loves to be adored by a crowd. The Communist Johnny Cash is born.

Nadelson recounts her story of researching a BBC docudrama on Reed (which never happened) but the search becomes more personal as she seeks to untangle the contradictions across three countries. It's not a straight biography in that way, which is good and Nadelson's observations of Reed, his various women, fans, friends, assorted Communist Bloc hucksters are rather astute and often amusing. Her take on the politics is totally unsentimental thank god and since her journey covers the ten years up to and just after the fall of the Berlin Wall there's atmosphere to burn.

It's easy to be cynical about Reed. I mean, you've got a choice be a bit player on the Warners lot or feted as a god by half the world. Talk about selling out for success. I've got a Dean Reed CD and its competant, sometimes pleasant, soft rock. Even an Aussie connection with a cover of 'Rock & Roll I Gave You the Best Years of my Life' (but the Beatles medley is atrocious). He's got a nice voice, a nice face (if you like that square jawed Troy McLure thing) and wore cowboy boots, so exotic they may have seduced the Soviet Union all by themselves. But he could probably only be a star in that place and that time.

Still, being arrested a couple of times singing Victor Jara songs on the streets of Santiago is hardly the work of a complete opportunist.

Reed died "in mysterious circumstances" in the lake behind his home in East Berlin in 1986. Many are (were) convinced it was the work of the Stasi. Or the KGB. Or the CIA. Or all three. Or someone else. Anything but an accident or self-inflicted. Phil Everly dismisses the idea of suicide since "men who laugh like that don't kill themselves." Well, yeah Phil, they do. The real reason people can't accept it is that for such an extraordinary life, it is such an ordinary end.

Right: Dean Reed, not just a pretty face.

If you don't know about DR already, you may soon since Tom Hanks bought the rights to this book. He's slated to play the lead but he's getting a bit long in the tooth and is anyway not the square jawed All American type you'd require. Me, I reckon there is only one candidate: TV's Ronn Moss.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Walk the Line is about as good a biopic as you could reasonably expect. Its textbook narrative structure (challenge-failure-triumph) has limitations, but it's exciting and entertaining to watch. I don't quibble much about the lost nuance, the conflations or the hmm-not-so-sure-about-that moments because they are unavoidable and sometimes desirable when you're juggling infinite possibility with finite resources.

So Johnny reworked a Gordon Jenkins song into Folsom Prison Blues and June co-wrote Ring of Fire with Merle Kilgore, in the film the tormented artist labours in solitude to paint their masterpieces -- as it should be for the fable to make any sense. Vivian Liberto Cash possibly gets short shrift but she's not the shrew I was expecting from reading many reviews, Johnny treats her like a bastard and when she packs up the kids and splits the audience is most likely thinking, "about bloody time!" She's a cipher but J.R's corruption needs to be absolute, and in 25 Words or Less. His dad Ray comes off far worse which suprised me, but under the influence of Johnny and June's love which makes all things new, even he finds a place. Actually, my major reservation was that the Johnny in the film lacks some of the gravitas(not.the.right.word) synonomous with him, an uncommitted viewer might be left thinking, "so he's cool, but what's the big deal with this bloke?" If they're worthy of the knowledge, they'll find out I guess.

My personal preference is for a film like Derek Jarman's Wittgenstein or the upcoming Todd Haynes film about Bob Dylan, which give up the pretense that a life can be properly captured as a series of "and then this happened" scenes. But in a big movie that's just not going to happen. Deal. Move on, and judge the film on its own terms.

Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon are freaking amazing and the musical scenes (several songs in their entirety) will knock you off your feet. There are some nice payoffs for fans too: the Elvis bit, the Jerry Lee bits, the Waylon bit, the Dylan mentions. The scene where Johnny with Luther Perkins and Marshall Grant("a couple of mechanics who can't even play") audition for Sam Phillips is epic. In Phoenix's introduction of Folsom Prison Blues, the boy J.R grows into the man Johnny Cash in front of your eyes.

So that's the film. The definitive, or even an adequate , Flop Eared Mule post on Johnny Cash won't ever be written, at least not by me. It's far beyond my powers to articulate, even to myself and until the launch of Google Soul which allows users a direct link into my emotional mainframe (I shudder to think what the carefully targeted ads would be), you won't ever know it. I've found my level being a gushy fangirl and I don't mind wallowing in banality even over Dylan, who holds up the other half of the sky, but not Cash.