My favourite Dave Dobbyn song

I love New Zealand singer-songwriter Dave Dobbyn. He was big in the 80s with Th’Dudes and DD Smash, in New Zealand AND Australia, but I didn’t live in Australia until 1996 and I never heard of him until Neil Finn produced his solo album Twist in 1994. What a great album it is, too! Its follow-up was 1998’s The Islander and it quickly became my favourite, and still is to this day. I don’t know why I’d never covered any of his songs until now, at least not in recorded form, but this is my son Samuel and me playing “Beside You” from The Islander.

I’m just on rhythm guitar and lead vocals and random harmonies. but Samuel provided lead guitar, bass, drums and the more regular backing vocals. And I always love his playing but I think its particularly delectable here, especially his bass.

Newish album by Pesky Bones AKA Peter Farnan, feat. Paul Kelly, Rebecca Barnard & loads of other brilliant artists!

Pesky Bones is Peter Farnan… Plus

Wow. With all the distractions of the last little while I missed the fact that my Melbourne friend Peter Farnan, brilliant singer-songwriter-musician, member of esteemed Aussie rock hitmakers Boom Crash Opera, and all-round nice guy, has released Pesky Bones Vol. 1, an album featuring other artists singing his songs.
And not just any artists, but the crème de la crème of hip Antipodean artistry. How about this four, for a start…
See below for the complete list but I want to get a song in without you having to scroll down.

Paul Kelly & Rebecca Barnard

To draw you in, here’s an empty-nest song that a lot of us can relate to, with Paul Kelly & Rebecca Barnard in a captivating duet, here harmonizing, there weaving carefully around each other:

Pete in his studio

Nice, eh?  But I also want you to see this – Peter doing his own  energetic, stripped-down version of “Intuition”. At one point he sings into his electric guitar. And his faithful vintage Casio keyboard gets a spin too.

And I like the fact that his studio doesn’t look like a studio, and it hasn’t got a big mixing desk or, really, any visible fancy studio gear. And there are loads of books. And he uses an all-in-one guitar effects unit, not a carefully curated selection of arcane, boutique devices strung together in a big wooden box.

In other words, it’s like mine.

Who else is on it?


Pesky Bones is Peter Farnan with:
  • Rebecca Barnard – vocals
  • Ali Barter – vocals
  • Shannon Birchall – double bass
  • Simon Burke – vocals
  • Paul Capsis – vocals
  • Deborah Conway – vocals
  • Tony Floyd– drums
  • Charles Jenkins – vocals
  • Paul Kelly – vocals
  • Sean Kelly – vocals
  • Emily Lubitz – vocals
  • Peter Maslen – drums
  • Richard Pleasance – double bass
  • Tim Rogers – vocals
  • Dan Tobias – vocals
  • Sarah Ward – vocals
  • All other instruments and singing by Peter Farnan
So check it out on Bandcamp, and buy yourself a copy, or get it on  iTunes.  And say hi to Pete on Facebook.

Sam Phillips doesn’t blog often, which is a pity because…

My musical drug Sam Phillips doesn’t blog often, which is a pity, because not many musicians possess her wisdom, or, if they do, they’re not letting on.

In this latest one, I like the way she contrasts her station in life to that of heiresses and scientists.

“A young heiress thinks I’m poor, a scientist thinks I am wealthy and have an interesting life”

Read it here!

Sam Phillips Blog - click to read

Thought You’d Heard All Of The Basement Tapes? Think Again!

What an incredible body of work Dylan has put out, and he (or his record company) continues to do so at an ever-increasing rate, both new material and, with the Bootleg Series, a large archive of previously unreleased music. And for fans, almost all of it is precious in one way or another.

The Basement Tapes

Marjorie and I fell in love with the original Basement Tapes when we got the album way back just a few years after it was finally released on LP, a staggering eight years after it was recorded. I know, it doesn’t quite seem the eon that it did at the time. In 1975, 1967

Bob Dylan-basement-tapes-Bootleg-Series-Vol-11

seemed almost antediluvian!  And these recordings, made by Dylan and the band in the basement of their Woodstock abode, Big Pink, and in various other domiciles, had become the stuff of legend. Some of the tapes had been passed around as demo tapes for other artists to cover, and had found their way into the hands of collectors, eventually being released on what is considered the first ever bootleg, The Great White Wonder.

I’ve been listening to that original release again very recently and it’s still amazing. Sure, you have to have a certain appreciation of absurd humour to appreciate most of the original songs, seemingly composed on the spot in many cases. And it’s not glossy, it’s jammy, offhand playing, although it’s actually a lot more sophisticated than the home-recorded circumstances might have suggested.

The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11

So now we have SIX CDs of it to look forward to!

Newly discovered tapes have added to the archive, and the compilation has been overseen by Garth Hudson and Canadian music archivist and producer Jan Haust.

The original release focused on original songs, but this hugely expanded release ranges from traditional folk, country, blues and gospel to more recent and contemporary songwriters such as Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, even the likes of Bob Crewe and Curtis Mayfield.

I actually found out about this when I reloaded the fascinating and ground-breaking iPhone app: “Bob Dylan: The Bootleg Series“, which originally only dealt with the recent expanded Self Portrait release. The app takes the old art of liner notes to a new level, being an extensive compendium of photos and information about the music, and the ability to play the songs while reading about them.

Bob_Dylan_and_The_Band_-_The_Basement_Tapes

Cover of the original 1975 Basement Tapes album

Anyway, as I was saying, I went back to the app last night and discovered that there’s a new song on there! “Odds And Ends” from the upcoming expanded Basement Tapes! How cool!

There will also be a 2-CD condensation for the more casual listener: BOB DYLAN- THE BASEMENT TAPES RAW: THE BOOTLEG SERIES VOL. 11

Listen to the preview track, courtesy of Rolling Stone, at the link below from Dylan’s official website:

http://www.bobdylan.com/us/news/bob-dylans-basement-tapes-complete-bootleg-series-vol-11-set-november-4-release

And look at the mouthwatering track listing!

John Lennon at his most eloquent – enhanced!

To me, this is John Lennon at his most eloquent, his thoughts beautifully animated in this short film produced in 2008 by Jerry Levitan, who interviewed him as a 14-year old in 1969.

You should watch this if you’ve got five minutes, and even if you don’t agree with everything John says or the way it’s interpreted, you might agree that a masterful work of art has been built on his generous impromptu interview.

The film was directed by Josh Raskin and the illustrators, James Braithwaite and Alex Kurina, have beautifully enhanced and elevated an amateur “rock interview” with arguably the greatest rock star of them all.

I Met The Walrus - screenshot from video

Click on the screenshot to watch the video!

PS: John’s kindness to this kid, in contrast to the more acerbic (or worse) way he might often treat other people, reminds me of the scene in that Imagine film where the stoner guy comes to the door of his house, and Lennon really goes out of his way to spend time talking with him and try to help him. It conjures up in me an idea that he may well have been being similarly nice to Mark Chapman in his last moments.


Rod Cordner and Jean-Pierre Rudolph tour England, June 2014

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to see Cordner & Rudolph in England!

Exactly 26 years ago, on 7th May 1988, we left Northern Ireland, but for nearly 10 years before that we played all over the country with Rod Cordner and spent a huge amount of time with him, his wife Jennifer, and his whole family, to whom we are eternally thankful for their inspiration, friendship, prayers, love and kindness.

In those years we also became great friends with French virtuoso violinist Jean-Pierre Rudolph, who became Rodney’s musical partner when he toured all over Europe, which he did frequently. And, again, we have much to thank Jean-Pierre and his wife Anne for – we even managed to avail ourselves of their generosity when we were in their home town of Strasbourg, France and Anne put us up for a few days even though we’d never met her before!

We catch up with Rod and Jenny every time we’re back in Ireland, and their home is still the haven it always was for us when we visit Portadown, where we both grew up.

Sadly, I haven’t seen Jean-Pierre (or Paddy-John as we used to call him) since we both happened to be back in Ireland at the same time in 1996, and I would love to be able to see the two of them perform together again. But if you’re in England you have a chance to catch them on this short tour in June.

If you do make it along, say hi to Rod and Jean-Pierre for us. And if you can, grab a little bit of video on your mobile phone and share it with me, OK? 🙂

– DC
Rod-Cordner-Jean-Pierre Rudolph-tour-poster-2014

Here’s a photo that I took of them when they played at Greenbelt Festival in England in 1986.

Greenbelt-Jean-Pierre-Rudolph-Rod-Cordner-photo-by-DC-Cardwell

Tuesday 3rd June 2014
Bradford BBC Radio 106.6FM
Drive programme with John Hebden, 4-6 pm
www.bcbradio.co.uk
Listen LIVE HERE!

Friday 6th June 2014
Hartlepool TS24 0QJ
Contact David Taylor (see poster for phone no.)

Saturday 7th June 2014
Chapel A House Concerts
Leeds LS7 4LF
Contact Alan Gibson (see poster for phone no.)
www.chapelahouseconcerts.co.uk

Sunday 8th June 2014
Old Royal Oak
Knaresborough HG5 8AL
(see poster for phone no.)

Monday 9th June 2014
Bishop FM 105.9
The Folk Show with Terry Ferdinand 9-11 pm
Listen LIVE at www.bishopfm.com

Wed 11th June
Ravenscourt Arts
London W6 0UH
Contact Darren Hirst (see poster for phone no.)
www.wegottickets.com/event/271690

Ten Records That Changed My Life… REALLY changed my life.

Ten records that changed my life

Yesterday (8th Jan, 2014) a Facebook friend of mine, Bill Mallonee, posed the following question:

10 life changing records. (I know! It’s impossible!)
Take a deep breath & list ’em in less than 3 minutes.
Don’t over think it.

Well, you know what? I did over-think it. It’s pretty easy to reel off some of your favourite records, like I did here and here, but (being a pedantic git) I felt that if you’re going to describe something as life-changing it had better be something that really did have some particular concrete effect on your existence. So it took me longer than 3 minutes, but not much longer. Here’s a slightly edited and expanded version:

Ten Life Changing Records

Life changing? Life. Changing. Life changing. Records that really, really truly changed my life. Hmm. Not necessarily albums. Nor my favourite, nor the best, nor the coolest records.

1: Johnny Cash‘s first gospel LP (Hymns by Johnny Cash) – My parents had it it and it was probably the first record that felt blissful to me – that showed me how powerful music could be, even before I really became a “music fan”

2: Elton John‘s Crocodile Rock. For some strange reason hearing it on Top Of The Pops was a revelation to me that stupid, freakish, long-haired, ungodly, noisy rock’n’roll music was actually really great. [I know Crocodile Rock, while great, is not exactly the pinnacle of the form, but for me it was the key that unlocked the door.] It was the first record I ever bought and it instantly made me into a “music fan”.Ø

3-5: Larry Norman‘s three albums Upon This Rock, Only Visiting This Planet and Bootleg – My sister borrowed them and they taught me that rock’n’roll wasn’t evil and you could be funny, clever and talk about whatever you wanted [The Ku Klux Klan, Paul McCartney’s Hofner bass, venereal disease, Jesus]

6 – Neil Young‘s Zuma – I heard John Peel play the track Looking For A Love on the little transistor radio under my pillow one night in 1976. I’d never heard Neil Young before but I fell for the sound immediately. I went out and bought the album and it’s still, in my mind, the definitive “perfect electric guitar sound” that I basically strive for in my playing [much of the time, anyway].

7-9: Jonathan Richman & The Modern LoversRock’n’Roll With The Modern Lovers, Patrik Fitzgerald‘s Safety Pin Stuck In My Heart E.P.* & Wild Man Fischer‘s Wildmania!§ – the fact that Marjorie owned these three records that I also loved was a major factor in bringing us together at school in 1977, and we’re still married.

10 – Crowded House‘s Woodface – I’d gradually grown fond of them on the radio (They played Better Be Home Soon, Don’t Dream It’s Over, Fall At Your Feet, Sister Madly quite often on CFMI) when we lived in Vancouver, and finally bought the CD. Marjorie and I felt it was immediately fell for the album in a very, very deep way, particularly the first half, which seemed to representative another kind of perfect sound which we felt we’d been looking for all our lives. Marjorie loved them so much that (to cut a long story

11 – Some other Johnny Cash record – I was listening to him one day at work in the lab about ten years ago [I can’t remember which song but I think it was from his Sun years]

NOTES

Ø I subsequently bought the Daniel and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road 45s and was settling in for a lifetime of brilliant Elton John releases, but I wasn’t so sure about Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting (it was OK, but I could think of better things to spend my 45p on)  and never again bought another Elton John single, or, for that matter, a post-1973 album of his. This was my first lesson in pop disappointment.

* Patrik was the first “folk-punk” guy (to release a record) in the original UK punk scene of 1976-78. I’ve always thought that Marjorie and I don’t have an “our song” in the way that Americans talk about it, but I guess Patrik’s Safety Pin Stuck In My Heart was Our Song!

§ Wild Man’s first, and most famous album, was the double album An Evening With Wild Man Fischer, about eight years before Wildmania!. This was his “comeback album”. John Peel played a track every night and I taped the whole album. I used to go round school singing the songs from it (and to think I say I only became a singer about ten years ago!) and some of the songs became quite popular among my friends. (“My name is Larry, I have a canary”, “I went to a disco in San Francisco” – you can see why).

One day Marjorie told me she’d got the album. I actually thought she was only joking as it wasn’t the kind of thing you’d find in the records shops in Portadown. And I think she was disappointed but didn’t really impress the fact on me. But some time later, when we were closer friends, I found it in her record collection and nearly died! It turned out she’d ordered it from “overseas” (i.e. England) out of an ad in the NME.

I spent years wondering how I could get the first album and I eventually found it in a shop in London. But despite it being, by far, the most famous and well-regarded, it’s nowhere near as good as Wildmania!, which, in my opinion, is where his art all came together in its most cohesive and beautiful form; in short, his masterpiece.

New single by Mondo Quinn (produced by me!)

Mondo Quinn: Produced by DC Cardwell

My Tasmanian friend Mondo Quinn has a new double-A side single out. He recorded it at my studio a couple of weekends ago. Both songs have got his usual early-Beatles melodic verve: they’re what I believe the young people are calling “earworms“.

Mondo is on lead vocals and played all of the electric guitars. I think it’s his best vocal performance yet – I told him to sing more aggressively and do his best “John Lennon voice” and he came up with the goods admirably! We double-tracked them and that was it – no need for multiple takes and a lot of “comping”.

As well as producing it, I played everything else and helped a little bit with the arrangements. But Mondo writes such perfect little melodic songs that they don’t need much dressing up. I particularly love the clever, slightly “rushed” transitions into the different parts of “Love Is The Reason“. The whole thing moves along with a great sense of momentum, which is something I love in a song!

It’s up on Bandcamp on a “pay what you want” basis, in other words you can put in zero dollars and get it for free – Radiohead-style! The address is mondoquinn.bandcamp.com – that takes you to his main Bandcamp page.

~ DC

 

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George Harrison in Graphite and Vinyl – from Marjorie’s archives

Marjorie was a huge fan of George Harrison right from the beginning of his solo career (when she was a very little girl). Here’s a nice portrait she drew of George for her ‘O’ Level Art submission. I recall she left everything to the last minute and did a whole lot of drawings the night before she had to hand them in. We still have the sketch book and it largely consists of this picture of George, a quick self-portrait (also below) and various items around her, e.g. a cup, her hands, her glasses, her boot, a banana etc. They make quite a nice couple, don’t they?

She still has the singles/45’s/7 inches (or what you young hipsters sometimes call the “vinyls” – ugh) to prove that she was a fan when she was just a little girl! She was much more advanced musically than I was at the same age.

You can see the full size version of her George Harrison portrait on our Flickr site at http://www.flickr.com/photos/dc-cardwell/9381761109/.
I wish I had a video or recording of Marjorie singing one of George’s songs, but in the meantime, here’s me doing a ukulele & vocal version “Here Comes The Sun”, one of his two tracks which were major highlights of the Beatles final, iconic “Abbey Road” album.

Crowded House are the reason we’re in Australia

 

If it weren’t for Crowded House we wouldn’t be living in Australia. Kinda. Sorta. Pretty much.

Marjorie and I came to the band late, not long before Together Alone came out, when I picked up Woodface somewhere on CD and we instantly realised that tracks such as It’s Only Natural and Fall At Your Feet were a kind of music we’d been yearning for but had never really managed to find except in our own heads. We lived in Vancouver, Canada at the time and when we moved there in 1988 from Northern Ireland we were simultaneously perturbed by the prevailing poodle bands on the charts and heartened by the fact that every time we turned on CFMI classic rock radio while driving we heard the likes of Steely Dan, Van Morrison and other artists who seemed forgotten back home, swept away by the punk that we ourselves had loved and followed.

We were both “pop music literate” and knew that Neil had been in Split Enz. We loved I Got You when it was a hit in the UK. I’d heard Better Be Home Soon in the car on this “classic rock radio” which seemed unique to the New World, and been struck by its Beatlesque qualities. And we both knew Don’t Dream It’s Over, of course, and had admired it vaguely from a distance. And I recalled seeing them once on the MTV VMA awards (see video) and being astounded that they seemed to be a real band, playing real instruments and singing a real song. With a Hammond organ! In the 80s! Ever since then I’d made a mental note to buy one of their albums, but it simply didn’t happen until I picked up Woodface at a bargain price in 1993.

Live in Canada

Sadly, drummer Paul Hester had quit the band just two weeks before we first saw them in Vancouver and Seattle, but they were still a revelation live, a band who played smart, concise pop songs in the spirit of the “jam bands” – they never played a song the same way twice and you never knew what was going to happen at any moment. Neil Finn was edgy in the sense that at any moment he felt the freedom to do whichever option popped into his head, whether it was to morph into a random cover, play an extended free-form guitar solo, swap instruments with the drummer, write a song on the spot based on the support band’s setlist, have the band jam along to a demo CD that an aspiring musician threw onto the stage…

Crowded House backstage pass! Yeah! Wow! Cool!Crowded House backstage pass!

We managed to score backstage passes for their Seattle show. The show was great but being backstage afterwards wasn’t the most exciting of experiences. However, I guess there was a certain thrill of anticipation and the pass itself is quite nice!

I was hacking gently into the hospital computer system at my work and discovered that the network was hooked into a mysterious entity, The Internet, involving such things as “gophers”, a search engine named “Veronica” and something called “email”. Much to my surprise I found that there was an active group of Crowded House fans exchanging information, and that I was even able to set up an email account on my home computer using Vancouver’s Freenet text-based email service. Marjorie and I joined this community, known asTongue In The Mail, and in fact we’re still in it (although it’s been partly superseded by the Frenz forum, which I also use).

Trip to New Zealand

At one point in 1995 Crowded House were about to tour New Zealand and there was a vague feeling in the ranks that they might split up soon and this could be their last outing. I vividly recall saying to Marjorie, “You should

Marjorie's Ticket for the show in Palmerston North, New ZealandMarjorie’s Ticket for the show in Palmerston North, New Zealand

go and see them!” while realising that this was completely unfeasible. However, she took me at my word and three days later she was in New Zealand! She’d made arrangements to meet up with various people we’d met online, and she traipsed around after the band. Some of the people she met were close to the band and managed to get her backstage where she met, not only the Crowded House members and Tim, but Mr. and Mrs. Finn senior. This was, needless to say, quite a bit of fun. She had coffee with Mike Chunn (Split Enz bass player) and Dave Dobbyn and generally was made very welcome on the other side of the world. Even back then we felt really old and grown-up, having two children and being well settled down, so it seemed almost ridiculous that Marjorie should be on such an adventure. We’d sometimes play our own gigs at Vancouver’s rock clubs, look around and think “we’re old enough to be these people’s parents and I’m sure they think we’re like old fogies from another era!” Of course, looking back, we were only in our early 30s and nearly 20 years later we’re still running after bands and and still playing to people who now could practically be our grandchildren!

Marjorie's photo of Crowded House in New ZealandMarjorie’s photo of Crowded House in New Zealand

But that’s beside the point. Marjorie had a stopover in Melbourne on her way back to Canada. Neither of us had ever been to Australia before, but Marjorie simply fell in love with this city. Another internet friend took her round to see some of the Crowdie sites, such as Paul Hester’s café and Neil Finn’s old house where he wrote many of the Woodface songs.

When she returned to Vancouver, Marjorie simply said “We should move to Melbourne, it’s really nice!” Of course, this is easier said than done, especially when you have two small kids and an elderly mother-in-law (Marjorie’s mother) who lives with you. But we got the permanent residence visa application forms and had a look at them. We’d already emigrated once so the forms weren’t daunting in the least. We figured out that I, as a medical scientist, would have a reasonable chance of being accepted, but that if you were over 35 you had extra “points” taken off which would effectively scupper your chances of getting a visa.

Just up the road from where we lived in CanadaJust down the road from where we lived in Canada

And anyway, Vancouver is “really nice” too, to say the least! It consistently vies with Melbourne for the title of “The World’s Most Livable City” and it’s undeniably beautiful and comfortable. And we loved the Canadian people and had many close friends. So we filled out the forms but didn’t bother sending them.

However, two weeks before I turned 35, I mentioned that if we didn’t do it now we’d never get a visa. So we sent of the forms just so that we could say we’d had a go. Very shortly afterwards we got a letter saying that we’d been accepted into Australia! No interview or anything! And with that piece of paper in hand, we decided we may as well go and see what it’s like to live in Australia.

We moved in 1996, two boys and aging mother-in-law in tow (she’s still living with us 16 years later!) and have never regretted it, despite occasionally longing for real mountains, snow, the smell of cedar and the warm hospitality of Canadians… not that Australians aren’t hospitable, but they’re different.

Move to Australia

We stopped over in Auckland on our way to Australia, and were wined and dined very generously by ex-Split Enz members Paul Crowther and Mike Chunn. (We’d previously met Paul Crowther at a Mutton Birds show in Vancouver’s Railway Club when we popped in after our own gig over the road.)

One of our ENZSO ticketsOne of our ENZSO tickets

As soon as we arrived in Melbourne we heard that there was to be an ENZSO concert in the Rod Laver Arena. Exasperatingly, we couldn’t afford to go but I got a job after only two weeks and the first thing I did was buy tickets. Due to a slight misadventure we arrived slightly late and it was a very bizarre feeling to walk into a packed arena-sized venue and hear a full orchestra playing Six Months In A Leaky Boat with the audience lapping it up!

We’ve seen an amazing run of Finn-related events here in the hometown of Split Enz and Crowded House. The most memorable – sorry, unforgettable – were the warm-up shows for the Sydney Opera House Farewell To The World mega-show in which we got to see Crowded House with Paul Hester two nights in a row, up close, at the intimate Corner Hotel, thus more than making up for having missed out on seeing him with Crowded House before he quit them. It was very much a “who would have thunk?” experience for us.

We saw two more impromptu reunions of core members Finn, Seymour and Hester, one at “Hessie’s Shed” in the Espy Hotel, St Kilda and one at the TV recording of a Neil Finn solo show. And then, tragically, Paulo was gone, his life snuffed out by his own hand in this very city. But that awful incident doesn’t erase our memories of the sheer, joyful, uninhibited exuberance that he personified on stage.

Ticket for Corner Hotel warm-up show, 1996Ticket for Corner Hotel warm-up show, 1996

We got to see another Crowded House warm-up at the Corner Hotel, this time for their comeback tour. And it was surprisingly magnificent! Neither Marjorie nor I have warmed hugely to the two albums by the reunified band (save for about three great tracks on the first one which are up there with their greatest work), but the live shows have been almost as good as ever. And it’s typically admirable of Finn and Co. that they haven’t just done the get-together-and-play-the-old-hits-for-the-money-on-a-nostalgia-tour thing, but they’ve done it as a real band, written new material and simply carried on from where they left off. We may never get another Woodface, but on the other hand, perhaps we will!

~ DC Cardwell

 

NOTE: This is a quick, rough piece that I wrote as a comment on another blog, but it got too big so I posted it here instead. I may well come back to it , tidy it up and expand (or maybe contract) it later on. It’s also subject to revision by Marjorie if I’ve got some of the facts wrong!