Waterfall in the Pyrennees

Some would say it was a cascade,
such was the forceful flow,
water falling over itself
to get to the bottom,
racing itself onto the rocks
below,

past my perch, halfway up the track
from where I watched the show,
waves did battle, tumbled, merging
then as one diverging
into smithereens on the rocks
below.

Cows in nearby fields ignored this,
Nature’s hypnotic show;
they’d followed me here, put now paused,
stood vacant, pondering
life, meandering as they watched
grass grow,

content, like me, to sit and stare,
to let this moment flow,
while still I heard the rapid swish
as the unforgiving
waterfall washed clean the rocks
below.

Classic Albums No. 8 – Cold Chisel (Cold Chisel)

Can you get a more quintessentially Aussie band than Cold Chisel? I don’t think so. Who are Cold Chisel? I hear some of you ask. And that in itself is a sad question. Cold Chisel did not make the same the impression overseas as some other bands, yet they were, and still are, a great rock / blues band that surfaced in the mid-seventies based in Sydney. They took pub rock and made into stadium rock. I don’t know why they didn’t conquer the world, but they have a collection songs that stand the test of time. The main songwriter is Don Walker (who wrote all of the songs on the album, except Juliet which he wrote with Jimmy Barnes. Don Walker plays keyboards. Jimmy Barnes is the lead vocalist, Ian Moss sang lead vocals too and plays guitar, Phil Small – Bass, and until recently the late Steve Prestwich (who also wrote his fair share of songs) played drums. There’s affair bit of Saxophone and Harmonica on here too. They are still playing and remain one of Australia’s favourite bands.

Cold Chisel was their debut album, released in 1978. Some prefer Breakfast at Sweethearts or East as the best Chisel album, but for me this ticks all the boxes (I’m a sucker for the raw debut album). The opening track Juliet is a hard rocking song that introduces Jimmy Barnes’ voice Then comes, perhaps one of the most iconic Aussie songs of the 70s – Khe Sanh – it uses keyboards as the major instrument. This is a story about Vietnam veterans and their struggles once they returned. It has been sometimes referred to as the Australian National Anthem. I can clearly remember it providing the background to my first attempt at horizontal bungee in a Sydney pub in 1993. This song was banned from radio for a while due to the lyrics – thankfully we have all moved on from those sorts of decisions.

Home and Broken Hearted follows – more gritty rock. Like Juliet this has the raw edge to it that characterises many songs on debut albums. One Long Day and Rosaline (both sung by Ian Moss rather than Jimmy Barnes)take on a more bluesy feel, adding depth to the album, distinguishing it from many one- dimensional rock albums, as well as showing Don Walker’s song-writing ability. He must be one of the premier Australian songwriters of the last 40 years in my opinion.

Northbound and Daskarzine are both blues-rock that mix great guitar work with the trademark keyboards and Barnes’ gritty voice. Then Just How Many Times finishes of the album with its laid back blues, showing how Jimmy Barnes can also slow it down for the blues.

The sequencing on this album also works really well. Juliet sets the mood, and then the songs vary in intensity, taking the listener up and down, before finishing with the reflective Just How Many Times easing the listener out. I wholeheartedly recommend that those who don’t know Cold Chisel, but like this album chase up their other albums. This album is the complete package, and an incredibly mature collection of songs that indicated that this band were here to stay.

 

You can listen to the full album here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzH7pVGgYbQ

Mush

Somewhere between Port Hedland and Carnarvon

my brains dissolved

dribbled out of my left ear.

 

They battled gamely but had no chance, you see,

against the road,

the landscape – monotony.

 

I drove for thirteen hours, the bitumen’s hiss

numbing all thought;

it was a malicious road

 

that took apart my head with vicious glee, a

surgeon’s knife, some

sort of forced lobotomy.

 

My mind is mush.

Five from Ian Dury

For those who don’t know Ian Dury & the Blockheads, here are five of my favourites…enjoy. Unfortunately Ian is no longer with us, but his legacy remains…

– I Wanna be Straight – a great song this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohf52vAPszM

– What a Waste – yet more quality from Mr Dury http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmopROxBnBU

– Razzle in my Pocket – some cheeky stuff here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxW10ygAs9M

– Reasons to be Cheerful (Part 3)  – an all time classic. Is there a better song than this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIMNXogXnvE

– Hit Me With Your Rythmn Stick – of course this one just has be on the five – Another all time classic http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WGVgfjnLqc

 

Tingle Trees

In among the Tingle trees
life seems somehow serene
their leaves whispering
short sentences
rustling up a bit of gossip
about the gusty wind above
dribbling on about the rain
pattering on the boardwalk
round which they cluster

In among the Red Tingles
we forget about the Jarrah,
the Karri, the Wandoo trees
and just ponder
the simplicity of a forest
the peace beneath the branches
that cocoon a gentle spirit
harking back to simpler days
– while still they whisper

Teapartium

After their success in discovering Dim Matter and its relationship with a new particle, the Positively Energized Moron, in their search for a relationship between dark matter and bureaucracy (http://www.thepoliticus.com/content/link-between-dark-matter-and-government), Professor Honor Bender and her student Grant Spender have now made another startling discovery. They have discovered a new element – Teapartium. They have summarized it in the following points:

  • Teapartium often appears out of nothing when too much Dim Matter accumulates in one area, and some of the Positively Energised Morons can become attracted to each other. The presence of further amounts of dim matter excites these morons, and they often go spinning off at random directions. When this happens, the morons will disperse, then attach themselves to other random molecules.
  • However, if this small group of positively energized morons manages to hold itself together, it then floats around and steals more morons from other collections of dim matter that it comes across until there are enough morons to form Teapartium.
  • Unlike conventional atoms that require a nucleus of neutrons and protons to hold it together and form stability, Teapartium is a lightweight element made up entirely of morons flying around a central vacuum. The faster these morons travel, the greater the vacuum becomes. This central vacuum is known as a farcicum.
  • When enough positively energized morons manage to coalesce,  the vacuum increases in power to the point where it becomes unstable and has the potential to collapse in on itself resulting in the formation of a super-dense entity known as a peculiarity (rather like a singularity, but without the gravity, mass, or substance).
  • This peculiarity is so dense that none of the positively energized morons can escape and they are forever trapped. This then becomes a new form of Teapartium, known as dementium. A peculiar property of dementium is that it repels all common sense.

Further work needs to be carried out on Teapartium, but for now Professor Bender and Grant Spender are convinced that it is a fairly random element that acts as a sanctuary for stray morons.

Classic Albums No. 7 – Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols

We travel back to 1977 for this one, and anybody who doesn’t know this album must have been living under a rock. What can I say about the Sex Pistols that hasn’t already been said? Not much. When you talk about influential albums, this is one of the best examples. Some say that the Pistols weren’t the first punk band, or that others were better, but stuff them. The Sex Pistols put together an album that stands the test of time. They successfully fused punk with radio friendly songs and had a charismatic and in your face frontman. Perhaps the Ramones came close (I really like their music), but there is nothing they produced that resonated so hugely. Punk was an underculture until the Pistols hit the scene and took it into the mainstream.

Never Mind the Bollocks starts with the sound of marching boots, steady drums, and some strong chords, before the real song starts with the guitar riff and the line ‘Cheap holidays in other people’s misery’. Johnny Rotten’s voice has a wailing, sneering arrogance. The tone of the album has been well and truly set as Holidays in the Sun cranks along. Next comes Bodies, an in-your-face song about abortion, followed by one of my favourites – No Feelings. My favourite line in the whole album is in this song. Who can go past I’m in love with myself, my beautiful self. The satire of many of the songs, it’s comment on society, and many others, can get lost in debates about the musical genres etc, but is to gloss over the thought that went into them.

Other highlights on this album are the classics God Save the Queen & Anarchy in the UK, and of course Pretty Vacant (this along, with No Feelings, is my favourite songs). Pretty Vacant is just an awesome pop song (more comment and satire in this one).

A scan of the rest of this completely solid album (Liar, Problems, Seventeen, Submission, New York, E.M.I.) reveals good quality punk songs, excellent musicianship, and an uncompromising approach.

Steve Jones is a perfect guitarist for the band, he also played bass on all but two songs (Sid Vicious played on Bodies and Glen Matlock on Anarchy in the UK), and Paul Cook’s drumming drives the whole machine. As I said earlier, Johnny Rotten’s voice wails over the top of this, which is what stiches it all together.

Richard Branson’s Virgin Records took the risk with the Sex Pistols when other majors were not interested, probably seeing the band as too controversial (a fact not lost on the band  – see last track E.M.I) and more power to him for doing that. He knew what he was doing. This is a defining and influential album, the sound of a generation of dissatisfied youth. It had energy, it had anger, and it had balls. They don’t make albums like this anymore. Pity.

Full album here. When you listen to it, turn it up LOUD! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bucVwI0RfEg

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