Category: Music


Scent of Rain (music)

Here’s one for all you heartbroken lovers. Free stream/download/lyrics here. You can also listen via Soundcloud (below).

 

Tyrant QueenThe new track from Black Lotus, titled “Tyrant Queen (Whip of the Wind)”.

If you can’t handle Dave Mustaine’s early Megadeth vocals (or his later ones), this will be too much dirty rock power for you. But if you can, I hope you have fun with this.

Lyrics and free stream/download here.
You can also listen on Soundcloud or Youtube.

Tides of Death (music)

Tides of DeathNew song from my music project Black Lotus Cult, titled “Tides of Death“: now available for listening and free download. Fans of epic fantasy might enjoy this tale of woe and sacrilege. Lyrics for this track and others now available on the website (click the “More info . . .” link next to the track).

You can also listen to “Tides of Death” on Soundcloud (below) or Youtube. If you enjoy, feel free to share. Keep supporting underground music!

 

 

 

 

Last Times (music)

Latest offering from my musical project. Listen and/or download for free at blacklotuscult.com, or via Soundcloud (below).

Black Lotus Cult on Edge Radio

Thrilled that Black Lotus tracks “The Arrival” and “Horses of the Moonlight” have been picked up by Edge radio. Tune into 99.3 FM to support Tasmanian music, and great local radio. If you’re out of range you can listen online at http://edgeradio.org.au/. Tracks themselves available for download for free at http://www.blacklotuscult.com

edge-logo

Horses of the Moonlight (music)

“Horses of the Moonlight” (5.09): new track from my musical project, Black Lotus Cult. Free stream/download/lyrics here. You can also listen on Youtube or Soundcloud (below).

 

Blue Öyster Cult

Blue Öyster Cult

live in Sydney.

April 20, 2013, at the Hi-Fi.

Blue Oyster Cult, live in SydneyIn April of this year I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to see one of my very favorite bands, New York City’s veteran rockers Blue Öyster Cult, for the first time, on their first ever tour of Australia. I journeyed from Tasmania to Sydney to see them. Although it would have been closer, their Melbourne show wasn’t an option due to work commitments. Fortunately, the Sydney show allowed me to reunite with my younger brother (also a BOC fan) for the concert, making the experience even more memorable. In addition to such classic rock hits as “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” and “Burnin’ for You,” BOC are noted for their influence on heavy metal, for their obscure and often fantastical lyrics, and for the blistering lead-work of guitarist Buck Dharma. The band’s current line-up includes original members Eric Bloom (vocals and “stun guitar”) and Buck Dharma (lead guitar, vocals), as well as newer additions including bassist Kasim Sulton (Utopia, Joan Jett, Patti Smith), drummer Jules Radino, and guitarist Richie Castellano.

Eric BloomAlthough the band maintained a famously heavy touring schedule (especially in the US) since they burst on to the scene in the early 70s, Australia had always eluded them. Invited to the antipodes by Australian classic rockers Hoodoo Gurus for their “Dig it Up” festival event, BOC booked additional concerts in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide, playing these shows in their entirety without supports. Given the band wasn’t able to tour Australia during their most commercially successful years, it’s hardly an understatement to say that fans wouldn’t have dreamed of such a treat.

Many in attendance had been fans for forty years. Then there were those of us who suspect we were simply born too late to experience live the classic rock that undergirds and dominates so much of our musical taste. Particularly when we’re talking about BOC, who contributed their share to the classic rock canon, sure, but they don’t have the big touring power that comes with it. A group of impressive influence yet also a band who enjoyed their elusive imageultimately a cult band in name and nature. Yet here they were, rewarding their hard core on a strange shore, with a gig that was always going to have special and surreal resonance.

Blue Oyster CultAll expectations were delighted by a momentous and powerful performance. The band tore through mainstays of their 70s catalogue like “The Red and the Black,” “Godzilla” and the ever-spellbinding “Then Came the Last Days of May,” as well as flashing gems from other periods of their multifaceted career, including the wistful “Shooting Shark” (from 1983’s The Revolution by Night), “The Vigil” (from the underrated Mirrors from 1979), and the screaming “Black Blade” (from 1980’s Cultosaurus Erectus). Frontman Eric Bloom commanded the stage with a veteran swagger, while gratefully acknowledging the crowd’s enthusiasm. Somewhere else in Sydney, Aerosmith and Van Halen were playing a show, one that (Bloom must have suspected) could equally have snagged the attention of the vintage rock fans in attendance. Bloom: “Thanks for coming out! I know you’ve got a lot on tonight… I hope it rains on those motherfuckers.” Although a quick glance around this crowd of glee-faced veteran rockers, many clad in faded and obscure merch from the band’s long history, would have confirmed that being elsewhere on this rare night was unthinkable.

Buck DharmaBloom-helmed standouts included “Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll” and “Me262”; for the latter he brandished his guitar like a strafing cannon to “See these English planes go burn!” Bassist Kasim Sulton, a legendary classic rocker in his own right, spellbound the crowd with his stuff during an extended solo; and an interlude paid tribute to his storied career as the whole band launched into snippets of hits by Joan Jett, Todd Rundgren and Meatloaf. Guitarist Richie Castellano continues to prove what a valuable addition to the band he is with his joyous stage energy and intricate, gorgeously melodic and laser-precise guitar solos of the variety that make long-time guitarist Buck Dharma such a figure of admiration. Buck himself was in very fine form, weaving his rich improvisational magic into tracks like “Shooting Shark” (brief video below) and “Then Came the Last Days of May.” His silky vocals remain untrammeled by his 65 years, as blissful renditions of the above indicated, as did stellar performances of hits “Burnin’ for You” and (of course) “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper”.

In recognition of his role in bringing BOC to Australia, Brad Shepherd of Hoodoo Gurus joined the band on stage during “Last Days of May” and a cover of Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild.” During one or the other an ecstatic front-row fan managed to get Shepherd’s ear and impart his deep thanks. Shepherd (who claims to know how to play every BOC song from their first five albums) spread a Cheshire grin as he took position to play amongst his influencers: “I’m pretty happy about it myself!” Weren’t we all.

Brief fan-shot (by me) videos below of this fantastic and rare show. (Warning: the singing audible in the second video is largely my own.)

 

Cat Stevens’s “Father and Son”

cat stevens - tea for the tillerman (front)Everyone knows Cat Stevens’s “Father and Son,” perhaps the most celebrated track from his 1970 album Tea for the Tillerman. As its title suggests, the song takes the form of a conversation between a father and son: the former promotes security, normalcy, serenity in convention; the son yearns to venture out into the world, thereby finding his true self in a manner that recalls Robert Frost’s poem “Into My Own.” Although we note that much of the song’s sadness comes from the fact that generational difference serves as a barrier to true communication between the two; the son does not address the father directly (“How can I try to explain? / When I do he turns away again”). Cat Stevens performs the vocals for both father and son, slightly elevating his pitch to distinguish the son’s dialogue. At this point it may be worthwhile revisiting the song (youtube).

What I want to briefly suggest is that the song becomes more interesting and in many ways more poignant if we consider the possibility that both of these voices (both of which are sung by Stevens after all) belong to the father. In this interpretation the father’s mention of “going away” refers to his eventual death, and the endpoint of his strained communication with his son.

Cat StevensThe first lines of the song (unambiguously the father’s voice) clearly suggest a man with a rather sagely sense of himself; he addresses his son with a tenderness held in check by stereotypical paternal reserve: “It’s not time to make a change / Just relax, take it easy / You’re still young, that’s your fault / There’s so much you have to know . . .” In the conventional interpretation the son’s rebuttal follows, as he laments his inability to convince his father: “How can I try to explain? / When I do he turns away again . . .”

Yet if we do not at this point consciously attune ourselves to a rebuttal, decide to mark a transition—if we imagine the father’s voice simply continuing—then we hear an internal monologue that swells excruciatingly beyond the calm persona he has thus far projected for himself. “How can I try to explain? / when I do he turns away again” becomes the tragic lament of the father held at a distance, constrained by his own patient composure, by his insistence on maintaining his unapproachable and old-fashioned style of parenting.

Father and SonStevens continues: “From the moment I could talk, I was ordered to listen now / There’s a way, and I know, I have to go away.” In the usual interpretation these lines describe the son’s standard feelings of frustration and marginalization, his desire to free himself from the overbearing influence of family. More interesting however, is the idea that the first line is not the son’s recollection of his repressive upbringing, but the father’s. Reflecting on his own youth, the father recalls his routine subordination with a mixture of pride and regret: “From the moment I could talk, I was ordered to listen.” One might say that having been raised to accept an essentially passive role within a deeply codified society, the father in turn promotes this life to his son, encouraging him to embrace it as the norm.

Continuing this idea, after the song’s acoustic interlude the father’s internal voice diverges further from the placidity of the one the son actually hears. Here the song reaches its most tragic point. Beneath the father’s stoic paternalism, his fulfillment of his routine patriarchal role and patient observance of consensus, is a man utterly stifled: “All the times that I’ve cried / Keeping all the things I knew inside / it’s hard, but it’s harder to ignore it / If they were right, I’d agree / But it’s them they know, not me.” Even in the usual interpretation of this song, precisely who ‘they’ are here remains somewhat obscure—fathers? parents? (if he is referring to his father, why not “him?”—”he?”). Yet what if we take it as the abstract ‘they’ it appears to be? . . . An indeterminate, faceless but powerful They, a cultural chorus of consensus, propriety, dominant masculinity—whatever. At the same time as the father advocates convention, serenity, and the satisfaction of fulfilling predetermined roles, internally he veritably weeps for his own emotional repression.

Yusuf IslamNot every aspect of this explanation makes the kind of very straightforward logical sense of the dominant one, yet I feel this is also its virtue. If we see the song as illustrating tension between unexpressed internal desires and externally prescribed roles, the idea that aspects of that illustration remain incoherent, frustrated, uncertain, seems appropriate—even poignant.

“You will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not”: it is difficult to reconcile this line with the song’s conventional interpretation. The son is seeking to follow his dreams, so why would the father warn against their vanishing? We can of course draw the grimmer inference that the father is in fact encouraging his son to relinquish his dreams, as in:”If you live your life, according to the rules, your dreams will naturally dissipate.” This seems to make the most sense, although its expression is so unpersuasive (indeed, so grim) that it can only bespeak a deep and tragic bitterness within the father. Consequently, interpreting the the voice that immediately follows as the older man’s commentary on his own outwardly sensible yet deeply dissatisfying assurances seems especially fitting.