Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Vale WEG- Melbourne Cartooning Icon

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Vale WEG
Melbourne Cartooning Icon

William Ellis Green passed away on Monday 29th December 2008, he was 85.

With his passing he has left a legacy that reminds us why he was considered a living national treasure.


WEG’s clear crisp lines and pen work were part of my life as his single panel cartoons appeared each day on the front page of the (now defunct) Melbourne afternoon paper The Herald. He was the polar opposite of The Heralds sister paper The Sun’s Jeff Hook,
who tended to more cluttered scenes and shading and Melbourne landmarks featured more
prominently.

Both artists were the influence of a whole generation of cartoonists.

WEG will be remembered in history’s pages if not for anything but his Grand Final posters which have symbolized the VFL/AFL premiership winners for over 50 years and can be found in nearly every Victorian home. 90,000 were sold just for this years winner (Hawthorn) alone. While these iconic images are extremely popular WEG never made a cent on them instead donating all profits to the Royal Children’s Hospital Good FridayAppeal.

It has been that the tradition will continue in his honour.

I’ve met both Geoff (Jeff) Hook and William Green in my life time and can say both were charming and talented men who though retired still loved to pull out their weapon of choice (a thick black marker with butchers paper) and so portraits for people.

I was lucky enough to have my portrait done on my 40th birthday.




He will be sadly missed and condolences to his family.

Here are some links to honor his memory including one fascinating account of his assistance to catch a house burglar by giving Police a caricatured drawing which let to his recognition and arrest.

WEG Robber assistance

Herald Sun Obit

ABC News Obit

ABC Net Obit

The Age Obit

WEGS WORLD

Good Friday Appeal site




Monday, 15 December 2008

Lyrics & their meanings Part 19- Stairway to Heaven

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We tackle the big ones: What the hell is it all about?
PART 19
Stairway To Heaven (1971) Led Zeppelin


Led Zeppelin’s fourth album was released untitled in November 1971 with the only mention of the band being on the spine of the cover so much was their popularity at the time. Side One track four was the song Stairway to Heaven. A song though never released as a single went onto being arguably the most popular song of all time, winning countless polls over the last 30 years and voted for by people who actually care about this sort of thing.
An early review by the Connecticut Gold Coast Review said the song ‘builds gracefully from a beautiful acoustic backing to a fast moving electric finish. With each change you wait for the explosion and it very gratifyingly comes….Stairway to Heaven is the best musical representation of an orgasm I have ever heard.’
This author is prophetically announcing the wankery that the song was going to inspire through to the present.
The most played track in radio history, it began like most Zeppelin classics on a tape from guitarist/co-songwriter Jimmy Page’s home studio. Recording at Headley Grange in England, Page first played the track to Bassist John Paul Jones where both worked on the arrangement. During this, Singer/Lyricist Robert Plant sat down and proceeded to write 80% of the words on the spot. Plant concurs: Yeah, I just sat next to Pagey while he was playing it through. It was done very quickly. It took a little working out, but it was very fluid, unnaturally easy track. There was something pushing it, saying “you guys are okay, but if you want to do something timeless, here’s a wedding song for you.” ‘
In a Cream Magazine Interview Page said the song came so naturally in the studio it took Plant and himself half an hour to get the whole song constructed, which begs the question of how could something so spontaneous have so much meaning
Never once were the lyrics of the 8-minute opus actually explained by Robert Plant, odd due to the fact he has given detailed accounts in interviews for most other songs on the album. Going to California and Misty Mountain Hop were about Plants experiences from his first visit to San Francisco. Battle of Evermore was a period piece in the vein of Steel Eye Span, which is why Sandy Denny was asked to accompany. Rock ‘n’ Roll and When the Levee Breaks are what Led Zeppelin do best great blues based jams. Black Dog was a great riff with ad lib words named after a mongrel hanging around the studio.
It’s widely held that Plant now loathes Stairway to Heaven, though presumably he doesn’t mind the royalties, the sheet music alone selling in excess of one million copies the highest in Rock history. According to author Charley Cross in his Zeppelin bio, ‘Led Zeppelin: Heaven and Hell,’ Plant baulked at the thought of playing the anthem at the Atlantic Records Anniversary Concert in 1988. Corporate push came to shove, however, and Plant capitulated. It has been suggested that one of the reasons he shied away from the Zeppelin reunion was the spectre of doing a fifty-city tour in which he’d be forced to sing what he now termed ’that bloody wedding song’ fifty times.
But what does it all mean? Many fans try to break it into stanzas to the point it’s worked like one of Nostradamus’ Quatrains. Some think it’s just a general poetic ramble about hope in dark times. Others an excuse for Plant to distance himself from Pages Devil Worshipping rumours that plagued the band all through its existence. But the truly confused go to great lengths to voice their opinion. For example this very short extract by Dr Robert Walser, Professor of Musicology, Dartmouth College from his book Running with the Devil: Power Gender and Madness in Heavy Metal Music.
We might better understand the associate powers of the lyrics by breaking them into categories. We are presented with a number of mysterious figures: a lady, the piper, the May Queen. Images of nature abound: brooks, a songbird, rings of smoke through the trees, a hedgerow, wind. We find a set of concepts (that pretty much sums up the central concerns of all philosophy): signs, a road, meanings, thoughts, feelings, spirit, reason, wonder, soul, and the idea that “all is one and one is all”. We find a set of vaguely but powerfully evocative symbols: gold the West, the tune, white light, shadows, paths, a road, and the Stairway to heaven itself. At the very end, we find some paradoxical self- referentiality: “ To be a rock and not to roll”.The words provide a very often text, they invite endless interpretation. Yet they are resonant, requiring no rigorous study in order to become meaningful.
In other words I don’t know figure it out yourself. Chuck Eddy author of Stairway to Hell: The 500 best Heavy Metal Albums in the Universe sums it up better but using a lot less words.
Stairway to heaven is tremendous. Also proof that words don’t have to mean anything to be meaningful. I mean, what’s this “if there’s a bustle in your hedgerow don’t be alarmed now? If I found anything bustling in my hedgerow, I’d get out my shotgun.

And the last word is left to an article written in Esquire for the songs 20th Anniversary in 1991.
The Lyrics to “Stairway to Heaven” are horrible, nothing more than nonsense words enlivened by cliché. If I ever wrote, “There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold,” my editor would cancel my contract.





(c)2000 shidot Prod

Monday, 8 December 2008

Rock Lyrics and their Meaning Bibliography

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Bibliography
These works are all my own doing and I don't care who I upset with my opinions. I have tried to keep the information as factual as possible and believe most of it to be accurate. Some parts may be proven wrong for that I apologise in advance. In most cases people who can't accept the truth will scream blue murder that their heroes have been slighted. This book was created especially written for you.
Danny Nolan
The references I used are listed herewith, if a source is quoted during an article chances are it wasn’t listed below.
Bibliography:
Books
A Day In The Life- The music & artistry of the Beatles Mark Hertsgaard (McMillan) 1995
No Direction Home-The life & times of Bob Dylan Robert Sheldon (Penguin) 1987
JAGGER-Unauthorised Christopher Anderson (Simon & Schuster)1993
Bob Dylan Behind The Shades Clinton Heylon (Summit) 1991
Nirvana & The Sound of Seattle Brad Morrell (Omnibus) 1993
Rock 'N' Roll Babylon Gary Hermon (Plexus) 1982
Stairway To Heaven-Led Zeppelin Uncensored Cole & Trubo (Harper Collins) 1992
Rock-The rough guide Various (Rough Guide) 1999
Encyclopedia of Rock Hardy/Lang (McDonald & Co) 1987
Encyclopedia of Rock, Pop & Soul Irwin/ Stambler (McMillan) 1974
Springsteen Point Blank Christopher Sandford (Warner) 1999
The ultimate biography of the Bee Gees Bilyen,Cook,Hughes,Brennan & Crohan(Omnibus)2000
Magazines
Rolling Stone - Ben Gerson 22/6/72
Playboy October 1972
Trouser Press October 1972
And countless Websites to mention ...sorry

I was in a band once....

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*Part 6- Growing up.*


After that last attempt I sort of lost the spark , I had a full time girlfriend who frowned on the time dedicated to silly pursuits, even though Jim and I would sometimes ambush a party when I would grab the guitar out of the car and do a couple of numbers.
Kashmir went from strength to strength and were actually recording demos for working in the pubs when James decided he had had enough and disappeared down the coast, without James support Russell chucked it in to.
The band split up.
Roger and Chris formed a three piece with one of Rogers’s school friends Michael on drums and asked me to play keyboards at their first gig. It was fun but I didn’t do it again and actually lost contact with Roger for a while.
The band didn’t last either and Michael committed suicide.
I don’t think the events were related.
James actually sang all over the place with anyone who would jam and both he and I busked in Kings Cross one night on a tour up the coast to visit family.
Russell and Jim never played in another band again.
Jessy went onto play cabaret and earned a good living.
I met up with Roger about a two years later he had finished his course and was now an accountant and met a girl who sang and they were in a pub band together. He invited me to come watch. I
did; the Bar Tender and me one Sunday night in a pub in Doncaster some where.
Roger eventually married this girl and I was groomsman at his wedding.
Jim went onto be a school teacher teaching English.
Al went onto be a General Manager of an Electrical Engineering firm.
Roger was also a General Manager of a large Company but gave it up to be a teacher at an alternative education School.
It was a good experience and it only happened over the course of 2 or 3 years but a lot of lessons were learnt, a lot of life long friendships made and memories to cherish.
If I had my time to do it all again?
Shit yeah
but I’d probably take singing lessons.

*Epilogue*

When we started back in 1979 in our flannel shirts and runners with our cheap instruments, proudly wearing our influences of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Neil Young and the Sex Pistols on our sleeves. Who would of thought we would pre date Grunge by a good 10 years in attitude if not style. I believe that is why, even at the age of 30, I felt an attachment of sorts, a kindred spirit you could say with Kurt Cobain.

This is something I wrote in another journal about him:

I was sitting watching some kids show nursing my new born baby daughter when a video clip for Nirvana came on. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” It was like hearing Time & Pretty Vacant all over again. The power, the anger, the cheeky smirk. This is magic, like punk but not as primitive, I couldn’t wait to hear more . I rang up my mate Russell who I played with years ago and he had heard it to and was equally charged.
Everyone wanted to pick up their instruments and play again.
I still remember the day I heard that Kurt Cobain had topped himself and feeling a great sense of loss.
I must admit the whole grunge thing was a momentary relief, our wives let us make some noise for a while but parenting, breadwinner duties took over again.

Even at 45 his still my Elvis , my John Lennon, silly poor bugger, he had everything why did he have to blow it all away.
Go Figure.

Thank you everyone who got this far and wallowed in my indulgence.
Danny

Monday, 1 December 2008

I was in a band once....

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*Part 5- One last shot (with a big gun.)*



Though I had no involvement in Kashmir anymore the loss of Jessy as drummer would have implications resulting in me starting another band.
Roger was keen to keep the band going so he advertised for a drummer in the local papers.
One of the people who missed the cut was Andrew a pseudo punk and a neighbour of Tony the disappearing ex Kashmir singer.
He had a brother who was in an up and coming band who were being courted by Record Labels. (this never happened as they were in a car accident just before they signed and it all collapsed) and I think he was somehow destined to live in his shadow.
Kashmir eventually found a drummer in John , though nowhere as good as Jessy he was competent and did what he was told. Like all good drummers should.
One thing I reckon that Roger never really latched on to during this period was how instrumental James was to the continuation of the band.
James was a hugely popular guy and with Russell had a large network of friends through their ability to find a party in anything. James actually held band practise at his flat that was more of a drop in party centre than home.
This network supplied parties and ultimately work.
During this time as mentioned earlier Jim was back hanging around and both he and myself would constantly be bagging Kashmir on how serious they had become. I suppose I must single out how serious Roger and Chris had become because James was often more times than not in for as much as he could get out of it. With Roger there was always an emphasis on what the crowd wanted and which songs were for dancing and which songs were for quiet times, bullshit really, so Jim and I decided to put a band together to do it how it was meant to be: Simple, stupid and fun.
We hatched a plan. Kashmir’s first gig with John was going to be held at the old Youth Club a venue that had been unavailable for some time due to renovations. We enlisted the services of Andrew the reject drummer from Kashmir and named our selves I.Q =O pronounced eye kew equals zero. And we would crash the Kashmir gig as the support. We made no secret of our playing we informed Roger that the Youth club had accepted us.
We just wouldn’t tell him what we were playing or how we were playing.
This drove Roger nuts, Russell and James thought it funny. We even put up posters everywhere saying things like IQ=O in Sydney soon coming to Chadstone, or Kashmir & I.Q=0 in London coming soon to your town. Anything to bump up the numbers. We rehearsed the week before the gig using acoustic guitars and a drum pad, why we didn’t do things this way in the beginning is beyond me, it was so easy and quick. Jim and I decided to do all our songs Kashmir were still doing in their set and change the words on others. Because Andrew was such a pain in the arse we decided to only use him on 5 of the songs. The plan was to start off as a folksy acoustic duo and finish as a hard-core punk band in the course of 8 songs. When the night came Roger kept asking what we were doing we didn’t let anyone know, but we made sure we did a sound check before hand. Al rocked up early and we asked him to control the levels of the mixer for us, he said he’d be honoured and to his credit did a sterling job. The crowd was one of biggest yet at the hall, I don’t know if they were expecting something special or it was the usual nothing to do on a Sunday night in Chadstone thing.
Jim and I jumped on stage early and the crowd weren’t expecting us because all the hall lights were still on.
We started with Leprosy and then moved onto a rendition of Hey ,Hey My, My by Neil Young (since it was his idea we stole the soft to Ultra heavy theme from) We renamed it Ho, Ho Hee, Hee Jim playing the worst harmonica he could. By this time I think the audience were starting to get the picture as we went in our version of Knockin’ On Heavens Door. We then introduced Andrew to a sort of Middle of the road ballad called YUK from our Metal Magistrate set. I used nice clean guitar sounds at this stage Jim was winning everyone over with his ad-lib and happy banter.
Then we turned on the overdrive.
The crowd probably thought we were one of those bands that play in coffee houses up until that moment. Because we had no bass player we had miked up Andrew’s bass drum for bottom end attack. The crowd loved it and were jumping up and down we were as sloppy as shit but they loved it even though we wrote the song Circus the night before. Then we ripped into our new version of Adolescence . By this time Roger and Co had realised we were doing songs from their set and were screaming out rip off. Jim quickly reminded the audience
” the song done by the originals is always better, remember that later on tonight folks”,
and the classic
“We used to members of the next band but we all got kicked out, probably too higher standard “
We finished with our version of Advance Australia Fair morphing into Wild Thing something we did in Metal Magistrate and another part of the Kashmir show that they used as a highlight. When we had finished the crowd screamed for encores and Jim yelling back “ We don’t know anymore songs” So like in the Metal Magistrate gig we just played a couple of songs again.
To Kashmir’s credit they played a good set, even though we reminded them that we warmed up the crowd for them.
We had a ball and did exactly the same thing again a couple of months later at the next Kashmir gig, the highlight would have to be accused of ripping off material, even though we wrote it . We decided to end it there mainly because Andrew was an annoying a person that ever could be put on this earth.
I think we needed to do that to get it out of our system and say at least we did it.

Monday, 24 November 2008

I was in a band once....

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For the next six weeks from 3/11/08 I will updating weekly.
My career (?) in music
A six part confession of how I never made it.
In e-book form to download and read at your pleasure

*Part 4- The move sideways off the ladder.*


Roger’s brother’s 21st was coming up and he wanted a band for the party, Roger would have had the ready made answer except that he no longer had a singer and his guitarist (Russell) was in Bali with his Family. Guess who came knocking on my door?
Roger wanted to know if I wanted to put a combo together for the occasion, also asking what Jim was up to. I told him I was good for it but Jim wouldn’t sing because of his preoccupation with his new girl friend. That and the fact he wouldn’t sing in any band Roger was in unless Rogers head was on a spike out the front.
I made the mention of James and how we’d been jamming together with his dog, and I could see Rogers brain ticking over.
All right I’ll ask him I said.
James had a good voice and could play a little guitar so he was interested; he even contributed a couple of songs. Jessy was more than happy to join in there was only one catch, he couldn’t use his Mega kit, amazingly enough he agreed and used a standard Bass, snare, tom and high hat ensemble.
We put together a basic collection of Stones and Kashmir standards. Roger who had been learning guitar and stockpiling songs, played half the set and I played bass on those numbers. We went over well and had a good night. Of course any chance of starting something with James got squashed when I had found out that during our practises Roger had been working on James to join Kashmir.
Roger told him that he had just got another guitarist- Singer to play along side Russell and they were going to start lining up work. The new member was a guy called Chris who was the bigger brother of Rogers best mate at school. He was a nice enough guy but most importantly he was a Roger clone.
I was getting used to being Rogers band pimp by now, every time he run out of singers or players I’d get him a new one.
It was my own dumb fault really they were still mates.
Then it happened again soon after.
Jessy’s big brother had gone to Sri Lanka and came back with a wife, Jessy said the band would play at the wedding celebration.
Chris wasn’t ready and Russell had only just got back so I played the first set instead of Chris.













It really wasn’t the sort of gig the band were suited to and no one danced until the band stopped and they started playing records.
That’s where me and Kashmir parted ways, with most of our friends turning 18 or 21 there seemed to be plenty of work for the band and they were actually getting better.
Roger was no doubt in control and Chris was his right hand man, both non smokers and not much for the drink. James and Russell were as thick as thieves and were huge fans
of getting totally wasted at every single opportunity.
Jessy didn’t socialise with the band and only saw them at practise when necessary or at a gig.
During this time I was a regular at their gigs, lets face it most gigs were at a party. Jim had come back on the scene after breaking up with his girlfriend on the other side of town and would often be out with James and Russell and others getting bent. Things were going along quite well for the band who were now even getting paid for their efforts.




Then Jessy dropped a big bomb on Roger.
Jessy was a talented drummer actually a few members of his family were talented musicians including his younger brother who was becoming an excellent bass player. The Sri Lankan community in Melbourne has always been quite large and close-knit so when Jessy and his brother were approached to join a professional Ceylonese cover band they didn’t need to be asked twice. Jessy really only joined the band because he was my next door neighbour and a friend he didn’t even like the music. Most of the songs he didn’t even know the names to. So the band often practised in set list order to avoid trying to tell him what song was next.
Roger no longer had a drummer,
The band couldn’t work.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

I was in a band once......

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*Part 3- You’re in, you’re out!*


My second gig in my newly named band was embarrassing. Al’s band RACK were heaps tighter and actually played songs people knew.
Jim had gotten us in trouble because he was pissed and threw up in the car park.
He was having girl friend problems.
There was never a chance of getting groupies if we continued to play like this.
We needed a new strategy.

In the short time since the band had started Rogers playing had improved, (my own was progressing slowly) he had also taken to searching out new songs (that mainly suited his tastes) and painted banners to place behind the band for live performances, which he kept in his garage.
We all made a conscious effort to practice more as we were clearly not ready the last time we played.
I was now working in as a factory hand so I had cash coming in and bought my first electric guitar a Maton Telecaster copy.
Lovely to play but a bit tinny, thank goodness for fuzz boxes.
Jim was missing more practises due to his working in the city and Roger was usually organising them at times that were inconvenient for Jim to attend. Jim who at the time was obsessing about his ex girlfriend was constantly drunk or whining about her. This culminated in Jim being sacked by the band, something I was not really big on but it was a band decision, this was my first experience in band manipulation and should have payed more attention, because I would be next.
I met a guy called Tony prior to starting work at a drop in centre I went to near home, he had great parties and I introduced him to Jim’s ex girlfriend, he said he always wanted to sing in a band so I offered him the job.
He turned up at the next practise much to the other guys surprise and announced he was the new singer, we tried a few songs , he could sing , he got the job.
The hard part was telling Jim who was still a good mate that we had anew singer and by the way he was dating your ex. Stressed times in deed. It was easier to get drunk and listen to mournful songs. I’d written a few songs with Tony and the band was still doing a 50-50 mix of originals and covers.
I was starting to miss practises as I was the only one working (the others were still at school or college) and I couldn’t be shagged running home and missing dinner.
I was also spending more time with Jim as we had more in common and also Al who had been kicked out of his own band about the same time as Jim got the boot.
Al said he got the boot because he went to the wrong school. The real reason was the other guys had a mate they liked better they wanted to join.
Al had gotten himself a girlfriend he met at a party who lived on the other side of town and Jim hooked up with one her friends, I tagged along because they were nice people who had great parties. It was during one of these sojourns that I missed that one too many practises and was informed by phone that my services were no longer required.
I called them a pack of cunts and told them they can’t do that.
I was wrong and totally deluded if I thought they couldn’t.
A revenge band of Jim, Al and me was out of the question.
Al had sold his guitar and both Jim and him were spending a lot more time on the other side of town.
It was getting tedious and quite frankly the girls weren’t that hot so I tended to stay on my own side town and go back to my old crowd, in the process nicking Tony’s girlfriend for myself.
Now this girl’s best friend was Mandy who sung back up at the Kashmir gig, and her big brother was a great guy who had only just started going to the local youth club.
James was a big Teddy bear with a great sense of humour and a bigger personality, he is still my best friend to this day and we both were groomsmen at each others weddings. I was drawn to James as many people were as he was fun to be with and life was never boring with him around.
James was a Rolling Stones fanatic and we would sit for hours rediscovering the entire Stones back catalogue. He had a trick where he would play his harmonica and make his dog howl along. I use to take my guitar around and jam. Me ,James and the dog.
Meanwhile Roger and the band had managed to secure a gig at his High School as part of an “Express Yourself “ week or something like that and they needed some one to mix the sound.
So he asked me. I had realised long ago with Roger that he some how had a distinct separation of friendship and band matters and he asked because no one else knew what how to do it , that and the bastards were playing half a set of my songs.
The gig was quite a good performance and they carried it off well, it did get a bit grating when Tony kept referring to myself as our mixer and writer of our next song several times. Hell it was good to get credit, because I knew we weren’t getting paid.
Tony celebrated the end of the gig by announcing he was leaving the band.
Thank you and good bye. I don’t think they ever saw him again.

Monday, 10 November 2008

I was in a band once....

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For the next six weeks from 3/11/08 I will updating weekly.
My career (?) in music
A six part confession of how I never made it.
In e-book form to download and read at your pleasure

*Part 2 – Not what I expected.*


One thing was painfully obvious after the first gig. Groupies were a myth.
Not one girl even came up to make an enquiry. I would have been happy with a simple “You were shit”
Sadly it was a trend that would haunt our careers. But as for the band; we were all bitten by the bug, even Jessy.
But Al was bitten hardest, he wanted to form his own band with other guys from his school.
In one foul swoop we lost our equipment, transport and our practice room.
As well as having no lead guitarist, Jim had managed to get off the dole and find work, so practice was often held without Jim.
Roger at this stage had stepped up a notch, his ambition to play had turned into obsession and he bought himself a bass guitar out of the “Trading Post” and practice was now held in his garage.
There was no way I could carry the guitar role off by myself , so Roger asked his old band member.
Russell who had moved out of the area a year earlier was eager to play with his old mate . How anything was achieved during this period is still amazing with Russell living so far away and no body having a licence to drive. It was usually a patient brother or sister who dropped everyone off at practice and picked them up again especially Jessy with his huge drum kit.

With Russell in the band they and with practice they were able to play more complicated pieces, though they had to knock back Russell’s suggestions of Jimi Hendrix material.
Much like Metal Magistrate we still liked to play our own material,. I had taken up writing simple tunes and covering them up with an overdrive pedal. To my surprise the others like them. Mainly because they were easier to learn and you didn’t have the problem we had with covers. People saying it didn’t sound anything like the record.
One thing that probably has to be noted at this point was we were either at school or on the dole so the only thing that actually kept us excited was the band, and it was contagious. In the space of 3 weeks after the Metal Magistrate gig 2 more bands were in the process of practising and using the Youth Club as their venue.
Even though Jim was unable to make it to a lot of practices we were confident we were making an improvement on our original gig.

We called ourselves KASHMIR which was chosen by Rogers older brother (the same one who became a monk) because Metal Magistrate was too pretentious (?).

When Al ‘s band RACK announced their first gig at the local youth club, Kashmir was asked to support.

On the day of the gig Al informed us that his band had hired a public address system for night and hit us for part of the costs then set themselves up first making it difficult for Jessy to construct his ever growing drum kit
We eventually pushed all their gear to the back and hoped for the best.
When the crowd rolled in the fear factor rose some what ,even more people than the last gig had turned up, of course the Youth club increased the price, none of which we saw.
Then the next piece of an already compelling farce came through the door, It was Jim and he was pissed.
It was the first time our band had used a P.A and Al’s band let Roger and Me plug into their amps.
The gig was a shambles ,
Kashmir weren’t rehearsed enough, (Duhhh)
My guitar broke on the first note of the first song, at first I thought I broke a string but discovered the who machine head had fell apart. ,
Mandy Brown (a late addition as a back up singer ) as well as Jim couldn’t hear what they were singing.
None of the Band could hear what they were playing due to no foldbacks and the mixer sat in front of the speakers. So all the audience – which was close to 150 – heard was a mess.
Russell was told by the mixer to keep turning his amp up because his speaker was actually behind the mixing desk. (the mixer by the way had a graphic equalizer on his stereo, that’s how he got the job)
Roger actually sang one song because Jim didn’t know it.
Kashmir were blown off stage by RACK who were smart enough to fix all the problems before they went on stage. Important lessons were learnt, the support act are scum and always do a sound check.
We were shaken but not knocked down.

Monday, 3 November 2008

I was in a band once......

0 comments
For the next six weeks from 3/11/08 I will updating weekly.
My career (?) in music
A six part confession of how I never made it.
In e-book form to download and read at your pleasure

Part 1- The very beginning.

I love music I think I’ve established that, but I’m not that great a guitarist , after 30 years you’d think I’d improve but alas I will admit I’m average, I know this because when I get drunk and try to play it comes out a horrible mess, terrible and not even close to what I think I’m playing. On this basis I conclude I could never make it as a rock star. It is a well established fact only the best can played stoned, pissed, ripped or hung out. How many times have you read or heard of Hendrix, Cobain, Townshend, Clapton, Page or Slash (all Heroin addicts) playing or for that matter not remembering playing because they were off their tits.
And because of this I think I never progressed because I don’t like drugs much and quite frankly I’m scared of needles.
But really that’s irrelevant I just don’t think I had what it took.
Oh, and as my kids keep telling me, I’m a crap singer.

Back in the late 1970’s I teamed up with some guys who shared similar tastes in music , similar being a very broad term.
We’d do the usual thing hang around and amaze ourselves with our latest discovery or get drunk and sing along at loud volumes at parties or each other’s houses.

Jim and Al were private school boys, Jim had one of those embarrassment proof personalities and fancied himself a great singer (particularly when he was drunk)
Al was a gentle giant who always seemed excited about one thing or another .
He and I shared a love of guitar, which neither of us could barely play.
Al and I would try and teach each other riffs and licks we would get off other people on our acoustics. Then one day Al come in with a brand new electric guitar, some no name band Les Paul copy, I was in love it was a shiny piece of magic, I’d only held an electric in a music shop, never played though because it was embarrassing being up staged by 12 year olds playing Dire Straits riffs.

Roger was a guy whose brother had joined a monastery and left Roger with the coolest record collection I’d ever seen and he secretly harboured a desire to be a rock star. He’d tried being a singer in the early years of High School and still had the microphone he’d bought.
Not long before Al bought his electric Roger had gone down to Tasmania to visit relatives and teamed up with a cousin who played guitar . Roger and he jammed together with Roger playing cardboard drums. When Roger came back to Melbourne he had tapes and couldn’t stop talking about his jams.
Roger’s brother in Law heard these stories and brought round an old SG copy he had in his shed from years ago to see if he could use it.

What this culminated in was me with this shitty SG copy with an action almost an inch high at the 12th fret, Roger on cardboard and pizza trays and Jim singing to Led Zeppelin bootlegs one Saturday night when we decided we should form a band. Normally these things disappear the next morning when everyone has sobered up but that next night at the youth club the excitement was fever pitch.
We threw the idea at Al who almost had a seizure.

He could get us a place to practice with amps and a drum kit. This was the ultimate wet dream and to top it off Al had just got his licence and was going to drive us everywhere. Roger was a bit coy, he knew that real drums and cardboard drums tend to have a bit of a difference in application, But this was taken care of too. The practice hall had a bass guitar as well.
Our drummer and only really talented member came in the guise of one Jessy - my Sri Lankan neighbour who was naturally talented musician who had a passion for Elvis but no one to play with.
Problem solved.
Then Jim sideled up to the guys running the youth club and advised they were having a band night in 3 weeks, the band was free.

In the course of 1 week we had a band a place to practice and a venue to play. Now we needed some songs. Honest it happened that fast.

We made a pact the songs had to be heavy and easy to play, Jessy had no say he didn’t like our music anyway , he just wanted to play. Al took care of this pretty much as well , He had written 3 tunes all re-workings of Bachman Turner Overdrive riffs we knew, I added Wild Thing by the Troggs and Communication Breakdown by Led Zeppelin .
Jim added some lyrics to two of Al’s tunes one about being on the dole (which we were) and picking up the wrong girl at a party (a common occurrence for Jim) while Jim and myself penned the words to Adolescence in my backyard. Our first practice was a mess due to Jessy’s insistence of bringing his whole kit rather than using the crappy one at the practice venue.

Jessy loved his drums and had two kits and a bongo set up that had morphed into one mega kit. It took forever to pack transport and set up, but boy could he play. Much of the first practise was getting Jessy to calm down, Me to try and learn bar chords and teaching Roger the basic fundamentals of Bass Guitar. Somehow just the power to make such noise was a rush and all other annoying aspects forgotten.
We would practice every Saturday morning and Wednesday night trying to pad out the gig so it would last at least half an hour.

Word was spreading that a band was playing on Sunday Night at the Youth club with a minimal door charge, and with being 1970,s Melbourne this was about as exciting as it got on a Sunday, the pubs still weren’t open on Sundays yet.
We named the band Metal Magistrate and painted two faux gothic M’s on the front of Jessy’s bass drum.

The name was a settlement of an argument Jim wanted Metal cigarette case and I wanted Mental Magistrate, so we compromised.
On the night we begged if we could use the practice venue gear and Al managed to get them all to the gig, we set up in the afternoon. We performed on a high stage in a school hall. I played out of a 15 Watt amp on one side Al with his 20 Watt amp on the other and Jim and Roger both plugged into a 30 Watt bass amp. Jessy wasn’t miked at all that would have been a big mistake. Our biggest worry was hoping we could play over him.

As the time approached the crowd grew and grew till there was 10 times the normal attendance, we freaked , even Jim was having second thoughts. It almost come to a head when some door nazi said we had to pay to get in and play and we were thinking of using this as an excuse not to play. To pad the show out we had got Jim to do a monologue with my guitar and tried a version of We Will Rock You by Queen. Due to the primitive equipment and nervous people on stage they sound was muddy but we made it through at one stage Jim being mobbed on stage when he invited others to sing the chorus of Wild Thing with him. After we finished to modest applause and disbelief, some of the crowd jokingly shouted encore, so we played 3 songs again and Jessy did a drum solo. The didn’t yell encore again.
All up it went well with most people who came thought we were a comedy act.
But we were bitten, we were going pro. Or so we believed.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Lyrics & their meanings Part 18- American Pie

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We tackle the big ones: What the hell is it all about?



PART 18
American Pie (1971) Don McLean




Don McLean released the American Pie Album in 1971, the same year as Led Zeppelins Stairway to Heaven and everyone’s had an opinion on what the hell they were about ever since.
American Pie was released in 1971 as a single from the album of the same name and reached Top 5 on the US, UK and Oz charts. Almost straight away it became sport to decipher the cryptic lyrics.



The only explanation the tunes songwriter; Don Mclean offered, was that he dedicated the album as a whole to Buddy Holly. (The Rock ‘N’ Roll idol of his youth).
He also admitted to the Holly reference in the opening stanzas.

In McLean’s own words “ I have never discussed the lyrics. You will find many ‘interpretations’ of my lyrics but none of them by me. Isn’t this fun?”

You think this would be enough for most people, but for some it has become an obsession.
In the majority of cases it has been assumed that the song is a running commentary of the history of rock since the death of Buddy Holly through the eyes of its creator. This would be fine if it was in some kind of chronological order and wasn’t so obtuse.

The most popular method is to break up every line from each verse and translate it into what they believe it be, with lots of little explanatory notes attached.

A good examples of this can been seen at http://www.urbanlegends.com/

Here’s a sample:

(Verse 5)
And there we were all in one place.
Woodstock

A generation lost in space
Some people think this is a reference to the US space program, which it might be; but that seems a bit literal. Perhaps this is a reference to hippies, who were sometime known as the ‘lost generation’, partially because of their particularly acute alienation from their parents, and partially because of their presumed preoccupation with drugs. It could also be a reference to the awful T.V show” Lost in Space….”

Either Don McLean is master of the ambiguous or these guys haven’t got a clue. I’ll go for the latter.

The most hotly disputed part of the song seems to be the Chorus. No one can come to terms why anyone would drive a Chevy to the Levy if it were dry? Who the good Ol’ Boys are and most importantly what’s an American Pie?

Two explanations commonly used have never been confirmed or proven. That McLean once dated a Miss American candidate (I believe McLean started this rumour himself) and the plane that carried Buddy Holly to his death was called ‘America Pie’.

Hopefully one day they’ll figure that out and the rest will follow, but don’t hold your breath.
Could it be McLean had a catchy tune some snappy lines thrown together to sound good? It’s an established fact McLean was a popular folk singer before the release of the album and the majority of his audience were hippie’s, maybe he was throwing them a bone?

A lot of the lines from the song are borrowed from the period it was written.
I.E; Lost in Space, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, I met a girl who sang the blues, Do you believe in Rock ‘N’ Roll , ..a pink carnation and a pick up truck, Helter Skelter and so on. I wonder what Procol Harum lead loony Keith Reid thought when he heard …caught the last train to the coast. A line he found in his pyjamas one night when he wrote the words to A Whiter Shade of Pale but that’s another story.

Maybe the song was never meant to mean anything and we should just stop analysing it, Don McLean apologised years ago to Chicago newspaper columnist Cecil Adams in a letter stating that he was sorry to lead every one on, but realised he should make a statement and move on, maintaining a dignified silence. The trouble was everyone else couldn’t shut up about it.
As an endnote Don McLean even though he denies it probably does have the best explanation of the story. When ask what American Pie means he replied:

“ It means I never have to work again if I don’t want to”.



(c) 2002 shidot

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Lyrics & their meanings Part 15 -Ca plane pour moi

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This continuing story of song lyrics and their meaning in some of the worlds best loved songs.


PART 15
CA PLANE POUR MOI (1977) PLASTIC BERTRAND



Plastic Bertrand was the name adopted by Belgian Roger Jouret.
Part of a musical family, Jouret made his first record in 1966 as part of a band named The Bisons in which he played drums; he was eight years old at the time. When things returned to normal again he settled down to classical studies and when finished school trained as a stage manager.
In 1975 Jouret formed Hubble Bubble the first Belgian Punk band and released one non- memorable album. During this period Jouret met producer Lou de Pryck and together they created the persona Plastic Bertrand, a satire on the safety- pin image of punk. (The name was derived from a punk journalist and singer popular in the Belgian music underground)
With Jouret’s good looks, ruffled hair and bright coloured pseudo punk clothes they had a huge hit in 1977 with “Ca Plane Pour Moi”. They did what many had failed to do by making Punk rock palatable to the unconverted.
With its big production, buzz saw guitars and frantic drumming it was perfect plastic pop. Having the song sung in French just added to the novelty value, (which is what this song was intended to be, a money making novelty song.) In actual fact Punks critics complained that the words sung by Johnny Rotten, Joe Strummer, Dave Vallum et al were unintelligible at the best of times.
The song itself translates very badly into English, which is understandable, as it has been described as nonsensical in French.
The title has been translated as meaning This life’s for me, All wells for Me and Come glide on Me but after my own investigations I believe it to be This Planes for Me. To see the English version of the lyrics is not a pretty sight and defiantly deserves to be sung in French much the same as Ninas 1980 hit 99 luft balloons sounded better sung in German.



A quick snippet of the words are as follows:



Go hop! The chick



What a Panard(?) What a vibration



To be sent, On the door mat



Filed, ruined, emptied, filled



“You are the king of the couch”



That she says to me in passing



Oooh-weee-ooh



I am the king of the couch



Contrary to rumours when it was realeased it is not a Belgian version of Elton Mortello’s UK hit “Jet Boy Jet Girl”. Mortello incidentally was a session player on the Bertrand Album.
Noted rock writer writes on the Trouser Press web site: “Ca Plane Pour Moi” is truly great dumbness – Bertrand singing verbose, seemingly nonsensical French lyrics over a classic three chord Ramones roar with Spectorish saxes and a winning falsetto “ oooh-weee-oooh” on toe chorus. It must have been truly inspiring dumbness because years later the Ramones did work with Phil Spector to record The End Of The Century album in 1980.
Described by one Pop music Encyclopaedia as “the laughing stock of the worlds Punk scene” (a tough ask that one.) The song ended up in Rolling Stone Magazines top 100 rock songs of all time.
As for Plastic Bertrand, he had minor hits in his native Belgium and Canada
In 1987 he was the Belgian entrant in the Eurovision Song Contest where he came second last.



© 2004 Shidot Prod.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Lyrics & their meaning Part 17- AHard Rain's A-gonna Fall

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They sell by their millions, they become that special song for some people for the rest of their lives, and others are totally consumed by them; finding meanings and purpose that was never intentional. They are the Rock lyrics that accompany some of the biggest selling and best-known songs from the last three generations.



PART 17
A Hard Rains A-Gonna Fall (1963)




When Bob Dylan released The Free Wheelin’ Bob Dylan hot on the heels of the success of Peter, Paul & Mary’s huge selling version of his Blowin’ in the wind Everybody wanted a piece of Dylan, the new prophet of protest. Even though Dylan mixed his repertoire with country blues, folk as well as his so called protest songs.
Because A Hard Rains A -Gonna Fall was on an album which contained such hard hitting songs as Blowin’ In the Wind, Masters of War, Talkin’ World War III Blues and Oxford Town It was automatically considered a song full of visions of the coming atomic apocalypse


Comparisons were made that the song was a literal version of such great war paintings and sketches by the likes of Goya and Picasso. Most of these were made due to the song following hot on the heels of the Cuban missile crises and the implications if things had of turned out different.
Dylan himself is quoted as saying the imagery came so fast that “every line in it is actually the start of a whole song. I thought I wouldn’t have time alive to write all those songs so I put all I could into this one”. So did Dylan just have a lot of good lines to make a song? It wouldn’t be the first or last time he would fill a song with this Dada kind of nonsense. When asked if it was about nuclear fallout Dylan replied, “ It’s not atomic rain, it’s not fallout rain… I mean some sort of end that’s gonna happen” And later: “ It was a song of terror. Line after line after line, trying to capture the feeling of nothingness.’ Could it be Dylan was the Jerry Seinfeld of his time?
The songs simple construction but haunting drone like melody has lent itself to many interpretations, notably by Bryan Ferry and Leon Russel. Both whom have kept the basic structure of the song but discarded large chunks of the lyrics, which is strange considering Dylan’s early work relied heavily on his lyrics due to his simple arrangements and very ordinary voice. No one really knows and Dylan would be the last person to ask. On a depressing note, this song is responsible for Canadian Poet/Singer/Songwriter Leonard Cohen to take up writing songs.



© 2004 Shidot Prod.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Lyrics & their meaning Part 16- Riders of the storm

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Ever wondered what your favorite song was about? Probably not, which is good because a nice melody and tune are far more enticing than words. Church hymns have truly inspiring lyrics and meaningful messages but don’t really jump out of the record stores. At last a biased attempt is being made to determine what some of the best-loved tunes are really about. We will have a look at the background of these songs and see if history can tell us if any light can be shed on these cryptic verses, poignant prose or just Grade Two poetry.



PART 16
Riders On The Storm (1971) The Doors



The Doors and in particular Jim Morrison have for unknown reasons established Godhead status in some quarters, but since the majority of these people still think it’s the sixties explains a good chunk of that reasoning.
Riders on the storm was the second single lifted from the L.A Woman album in 1971.It was the last studio album the band would record together prior to Morrison’s death in Paris in July 1971.
Riders of the Storm is also believed to be the last song recorded by Morrison.
Riders on the Storm is a moody piece of music with sinister overtones mixed with thunderclaps and heavy reverb guitar passages. Then the cabaret brooding of Morrison with his inane lyrics add a touch of stupidity to an atmosphere that begs something dire.
 ‘There’s a killer on the road, his mind is squirming like a toad’.
It’s almost as if the band thought of a good line to start the song  and then totally lost interest.
There doesn’t seem to be anyone game enough of Morrisons fan base to stop praising his so called genius and explain what the hell he was singing about.
In fairness to Morrison, the song was created as a group composition and compared to the way Morrison was writing, it would be probably more apt to lay the blame on Robby Krieger, the one who stated the song was originally inspired by Ghost Riders in the Sky.
If we compare lyrics from the Doors first single from 1967 Light my Fire from their debut album The Doors with lyrics from “Riders”:

Light My Fire
You know that it would be untrue,
You that I would be a liar,
 If I were to say to you,
Girl we couldn’t get much higher.

Riders Of The Storm
Riders on the Storm, Riders on the Storm,
Into this house we’re born, Into this world we’re thrown,
Like a dog without a bone an actor out on loan ,
Riders on the storm

Typical Moon, Spoon, June drivel Kreiger had written before.

By the time LA Women was released Jim had had enough of the adulation of fans and being hassled by authorities he had moved to Paris to be in an artistic environment, not realising they all left decades ago.

Morrison’s early death made him a mythical figure as stories got twisted and the need for the devoted to keep the memory of their hero alive. The rumours that Morrison hadn’t died but had gone into hiding to concentrate on his art started before he was cold on the slab.

Thus starting a Morrison sighting spree that predated Elvis by 6 years. (One wonders if these people would spend as much time searching for their Nanna if they didn’t see her in the coffin) This in turn created a demand for more Morrison scribbles and the search for meaning in words that added up to nothing. Morrison was a good looking, passable singer with great charisma who believed his own publicity and it killed him. At the end of his career he was reduced to flashing his dick and ruining performances for the band. He wasn’t a mad genius he was just mad at the end and it reflects in his words, even the ones he probably didn't write..
© 2004 Shidot Prod.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Cartoon Band update - Dethklok

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Dethklok from the series Metalocalypse are another addition to the top 5 all time great cartoon bands.


In the Metalocalypse series, Dethklok is depicted as an extremely popular and successful death metal band, described by their adversaries, the Tribunal, as the "world's greatest cultural force." The band's fan base includes thousands of metal fanatics, who frequently endanger themselves to watch the band perform live. With their widespread commercial success and lucrative sponsorship contracts, Dethklok is ranked as the world's twelfth largest economy in the series.
In addition to their uncanny ability to command worldwide attention and effortlessly persuade masses of people, the band members indirectly cause death and bad luck to those near them. It is hinted that this is related to an as-of-yet unexplained curse beyond the members' awareness or control. They also frequently summon natural disasters, severe weather phenomena, and paranormal anomalies through the live performance of their music. As a result of this, the band's concerts are notoriously violent, often resulting in the physical injury and fatality of many or all of the crowd. Even their attempts at charity result in tens of thousands of deaths, such as when a laser light show, which was actually a Soviet laser-based weapon, butchered the entire London Philharmonic Orchestra during a benefit concert, and an attack on an entire island population by "wayward kitties."
The members of Dethklok are often portrayed as incompetent at almost everything not related to their profession. The band struggles to perform everyday tasks, including shopping for groceries, preparing food, and maintaining proper social relationships. They are often assisted by their manager and lawyer, Charles Ofdensen, who frequently attempts to prevent the band from making poor decisions. The band's actions, including the bad luck situations which comprise many plots, have caught the attention of an Illuminati-style council, known as The Tribunal. The Council is portrayed as Dethklok's antagonist throughout the series, and secretly monitor their actions in almost every episode.

Nathan Explosion
Nathan Explosion (voiced by Brendon Small) is the frontman, lead vocalist and "lyrical visionary" of Dethklok. Portrayed as a tall figure, with long black hair and black fingernails, Nathan always speaks in a deep, gravelly voice, even when not singing. He is apparently the lead songwriting force in Dethklok, and uses violent imagery or plot elements when writing and composing song material.
Small described Nathan as a "quarterback", and based his character on Cannibal Corpse vocalist George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher.
Skwisgaar Skwigelf
Skwisgaar Skwigelf (voiced by Brendon Small) is Dethklok's lead guitarist. He is described as, "a handsome guy who thinks he's the greatest thing in the world, with a little bit of Yngwie Malmsteen in his attitude." He plays a Gibson Explorer, which he often carries even when not playing. Hailing from Sweden, Skwisgaar possesses a heavy Swedish accent. He is responsible for the majority of the arrangement of Dethklok's songs, writing both the guitar lines as well as Murderface's bass lines.
Toki Wartooth
Toki Wartooth (voiced by Tommy Blacha) is Dethklok's rhythm guitarist. He typically plays a Gibson Flying V. A native of Norway, he has a distinct whisker-like style of mustache known as the Fu Manchu, long brown hair and very pale blue eyes. Small explained Toki's relationship with Skwisgaar thusly: "Toki is Norwegian to Skwisgaar's Swedish, pompous attitude. And, again, a second-class citizen in the same band."
Pickles
Pickles (voiced by Brendon Small) is Dethklok's drummer. He was raised in Tomahawk, Wisconsin and speaks with a Yooper dialect. He refers to himself as "very Irish American" and has red hair, styled into dreadlocks and a comb-over skullet. He is depicted as having an average build with a slight beer belly. According to Brendon Small, Pickles was originally conceived as "the jerk of the group."Describing the character, Small said, "I thought the drummer should be able to do a bunch of stuff, like Roger Taylor in Queen. Even though it's not based on his personality, it's what he can do in the band and what parts of the songs he does contribute to."
William Murderface
William Murderface (voiced by Tommy Blacha) is Dethklok's bassist. He plays a Gibson Thunderbird Studio 5-string. He has brown hair, lime green eyes, a heavy lateral lisp and a diastema. Murderface's father killed his wife with a chainsaw before turning it upon himself in a grisly murder-suicide. Murderface is "a self-hating bass player who's always trying to act like he's more important than he is," in part because his bass playing is usually mixed out completely. Brendon Small describes Murderface as "thin-skinned and incredibly sensitive and just wants to be accepted constantly but can’t get that because he’s such a dick and pushes people away"
Source: Wikipedia

Here are some highlights.





Monday, 11 August 2008

Dead Rock Stars

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I collect dead rock stars.

No, not their ashes or body bits but their dolls.

Yes. In short I collect dolls.


I have provided a link to witty and concise collection of Rock Star deaths by the brilliant Jack Marx

JACK MARX & DEAD ROCK STARS




This is a peek at my collection, I have included some of my wishlist items as well.








Morrison............... Elvis............ ..................Randy Rhodes ..............Sid




Sid..................... Johnny Cash......... Hendrix .......Joplin






Kurt Cobain ........Dimebag ..Harrison ............Garcia ............Lennon
Joey Ramone........................... Freddy......... Buddy........... Elvis















Zappa ................Eric Carr