Friday, 28 August 2009

Free Download Friday #24: Hot Leg

Love them or loath them, it can't be denied that The Darkness made an impact! Me? I really liked them. They were like a breath of fresh air in the British Music charts and it remains a great injustice that they didn't get the Christmas Number 1 in 2003.

Originally uploaded by dearbarbie
Perhaps they got too much too soon and they imploded spectacularly after only two albums. However, out of the ashes came both the Stone Gods and Hot Leg so I suppose it's an ill wind...

As yet, I've not found any free downloads for the Stone Gods but Hot Leg have three tracks available for download - see Hot Leg at Music Glue. The three tracks are:
  1. Heroes
  2. Trojan Guitar
  3. Take Take Take
My favourite is Trojan Guitar which is very much in the mould of The Darkness with fun lyrics, flashy guitars and falsetto vocals.

Let me know what you think of the mighty Leg.

P.S. The Music Glue site looks interesting. They seem to provide download and other web services for a variety of bands. There are loads of bands there - most of whom I've never heard of. They only other bands that I've discovered so far (that I've heard of!) are Marillion and Enter Shikari. Please let me know if you find anyone else on Music Glue that are worth checking out?

Wednesday, 26 August 2009


When I first heard about Chickenfoot, I didn't have high expectations. It sounded like a bunch of stars had decided to get together to have fun. I thought it might be a vanity project that would promise more than it delivered.

...And then I heard some of the tracks from their CD on Rock Radio. I revised my opinion immediately and every track I heard left me more impressed.

I just noticed the other day that Chickenfoot are offering a widget on their official site so that you can embed their latest video on your site. So here it is: {Update: The widget seemed to be causing me problems - slowing everything down as it loaded and starting to play straight away... so I decided to replace the widget with the YouTube video instead. :-) }

Visit for more info

They seem to be having a blast playing together. Hope you enjoy.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Free Download Friday #23: Mark Vidler

What does the word Mashup mean to you? The first time I encountered it was in relation to a mashup of different parts of Web 2.0 technology to create something greater than the whole of its parts. For example putting a Google Map with pictures from Flickr into a blog post about your walk along the West Highland Way. I heard mashup used as a musical term later but associated it more with dance music than with rock.

silver masher
Originally uploaded by emdot
However, some time ago, I read in Classic Rock Magazine about a chap called Mark Vidler who does mashups with rock tunes. In particular Classic Rock described a mashup involving AC/DC and Queen. If you are anything like me, you are probably screaming in horror at the thought and imagining a mutant child produced from the meeting of Jive Bunny and Kid Rock. Unbelievably though, it is actually very good.

There is a problem though. I started the Free Download Friday feature to highlight links to free, legal, music downloads but the legal status of most mashups is at best... doubtful.

My problem is, I was planning to do the Radiohead free download of These Are My Twisted Words but it since loads of people have already posted that, I decided I need a last minute replacement... all I could think of was the slightly dodgy mashup from Mark Vidler.

However, when I went to his site, I discovered he had produced an album of original material which he was giving away free. The album is called The Future, The Past & The Present Tension and is an interesting mix of styles and influences. Bits of Oasis, a touch of Tom Waits, some XTC and, somewhat bizarrely, a large helping of Ivor Cutler. So, that's my Free Download link for today.

Check it out and let me know what you think. And of course, I strongly advise that you don't scroll down a bit and look for the Rock In Black mashup of AC/DC and Queen because that might not be entirely legal.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Phil Lynott - Sadly Missed

Just read in the Classic Rock News site that today (20th August) would have been Phil Lynott's 6oth birthday.

I saw Thin Lizzy in concert at the Glasgow Apollo when I was a teenager. It was the Black Rosetour so it must have been 1979. Phil Lynott was a great bass player, a fantastic vocalist and an outstandingly good front man. It's hard to believe he died more than twenty years ago.

His early death was a tragedy but he left a musical legacy that still inspires and entertains.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Guitars, gadgets and great jobs

I wrote about the Gadget Show when I was considering what the best job in the world might be. (See my The best job in the world? post.) I suggested that, for me, the best job in the world might be to present on the Gadget Show - play with technology, mess about and occasionally blow things up. What more could a nerd ask for?

139/366: Three chords...
Originally uploaded by DavidDMuir
Gadget Show
I enjoyed the first couple of episodes in the new series but the one shown on Monday, convinced me that the Gadget Show was definitely the right choice for me. Why? Because the focus of this week's challenge was to learn a new skill online. Online learning! Now if that's not a Gadget Show topic for me, I don't know what is. And even better was the skill Ortis chose to learn because while Jason decided to learn to cook, Ortis wanted to learn the guitar! Again, suits me down to the ground. Online guitar tuition - been there, although as yet, not done that!

More on my attempts to learn guitar in a moment after a word about the challenge.

Gadget Show Challenge
Ortis won the challenge (his first win apparently) by playing with a Coldplay tribute band (called Coldplace) in front of thousands of people at a festival whereas Jason had to cook a meal for a top chef.

At first I wondered if the test was fair. Ortis only had to learn one tune; Jason had to learn to prepare seven dishes. However, the more I thought about it the more I decided Ortis was the worthy winner. Partly because Jason just couldn't do it - he even managed to use salt instead of sugar in his pudding! (Clearly he hadn't tasted it himself before serving. Tsk! Tsk!) Mainly though, I think Ortis deserved to win because he used the technology much more intelligently. When he was struggling with the chords for the song, he Skyped the guitarist from Coldplace who taught him how to use a capo. When Jason was struggling, he appeared to just keep following the same instructions to make the same mistake over and over again. Perhaps it was edited to make him look dafter but why didn't he go on a cooking forum to ask for help? Why didn't he send out a request to his personal learning network on Twitter? Why didn't he Skype his mum or someone else who could actually cook? In his favour he was using a outrageously desirable Modbook!

However, Ortis performed brilliantly. The expert criticised Ortis for being a bit static on stage but to be fair he was playing Coldplay not The Clash. :-) As I said, a worthy winner.

My own efforts
I have stated elsewhere my desire to learn the guitar using online lessons and have just started a semi-serious attempt to do so. I'm aiming for a minimum of ten to fifteen minutes a day with Garageband. I'll also dip into to some of the links from the Gadget Show lists as well as the excellent Guitar Savvy site which I recently discovered. To give you an idea of where I'm coming from, here's a link to a very embarassing video of me playing the guitar Daughter Number 2 built. She can play but refuses to play it in front of other people. Since someone had to try out this gorgeous guitar, I stepped in. Everyone else in the room was an experienced and talented guitarist (especially Mark Bailey the chap that ran the build your own guitar course) so my ineptitude was clear for all to see. In the video, you can almost hear the collective sigh of disappointment at how bad I was!

I will post another video around the middle of September to let you see how far I've got in a month. (Not very far I fear!) Will I reach the standard that Ortis managed? Only time will tell. :-)

Have you ever tried to learn something using only online resources? If so, what? Also, I'm still on the lookout for good online guitar tuition resources, so feel free to share those too.

It seemed appropriate to cross-post this to my education blog. Apologies for repeating myself if you follow both.

Monday, 17 August 2009

When musical worlds collide

An exchange on Twitter today got me thinking about odd musical crossovers. The message that started me off was:
jont: @morageyrie hayseed dixie are ace by contrast however this is awful
jontat least David Lee Roth has the decency to look embarrassed... as well as embarrassing. :-)

Before I go any further, it has to be said that in general I don't like the Whoever Philharmonic Orchestra plays The Beatles type albums, or the Famous Opera Singer Sings Pop Songs genre. It seems to me that classical music buffs like classical music and rock fans like rock, so I'm never sure what the market for that type of crossover is. However, I'm about to list some odd musical mixes that I like... Inconsistent? Moi? My defence is that these guys aren't taking themselves entirely seriously. They are seriously good musicians but they seem to be having fun - which as far as I'm concerned covers a multitude of musical sins!

Hayseed Dixie
I thought it only fair to start with the Hayseed Dixie track posted by
morageyrie. Hayseed Dixie started as an AC/DC tribute, but have branched out to cover other bands and have even released an album of all original music. This is an awesome cover of a Motörhead track:

Frenetic, fantastic and fun!

Vitamin String Quartet
Various musicians use the name Vitamin String Quartet to produce classical style covers of various popular/rock acts. I first heard them when Phil Jupitus did the breakfast show on 6 Music. He used their cover of Rush's The Treesas a bed for his talky bits.

Of the crossovers posted here, this is the one I'm least sure about because 1) the video is rubbish and 2) I'm not sure they're doing it for a laugh. What do you think? Do they deserve to be here?

Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain
What's not to like about the
Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain? Here is an outstandingly good live performance that shows what they're made of:

Their website links to some other great videos. Well worth seeing live I suspect.

Dread Zeppelin
Dread Zeppelin are a band that have to be seen to be believed! They are Robert Plant's favourite Zeppelin cover band (he says) and I think he's on record as saying Dread's cover of Your Time Is Gonna Come is better than the original. However, I can't find any evidence of this online so here's a slightly fuzzy video of it - you can make up your own mind:

I think it's magnificent!

What do you think?
What do you think of musical crossovers like this? What's your favourite of the ones shown here? Do you know of any other bizarre mixes that I've missed? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Free Download Friday #22: Black Crowes

I first came across the Black Crowes when a colleague at work gave me a copy of The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion. Somehow, he'd managed to get two copies of the CD and though I might like them. He was wrong. I didn't like them... I loved them! [See what I did there. :-) ]

Black Crowes 515
Originally uploaded by bog_king
I loved the music but I like the cover picture of The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion too. If you are not familiar with the cover, have a look at the big picture on Amazon - it's like the drummer is from a different band! I always imagine the conversation at the photo shoot going something like this:

Drummer: Well, nobody told me we were to dress like a hippy band from the Seventies.

Lead singer: Look around you. Everyone else got the memo!

However, this is Free Music Friday and the reason the Black Crowes feature is that they have made a track from from their upcoming album, Before the Frost/Until the Freezeavailable as a free download. Just go to their official site and follow the link to get I Ain't Hiding for free.

Don't be alarmed when you first listen to the track. The Black Crowes are known for playing Blues/Rock with a touch of Southern Boogie, so you might think you've downloaded a dance track by mistake. Stick with it though and I don't think you'll be disappointed. By about a minute in, especially when the vocals start, I was beginning to get it and was more or less sold at about the three minute mark... then the guitar solo started and I was convinced. Or at least, I was convinced enough to play it again... and again... and again... and...

It is definitely a grower, or at least it was for me. What do you think and who or what does it remind you of?

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Les Paul: 9 June 1915 - 13 August 2009

Many people more qualified than I will write about the life of Les Paul, so I thought I would simply mark his passing with a personal recollection...

78 RPM
Originally uploaded by bitzcelt
I first heard Les Paul on some of my dad's 78s. He tried to explain ovedubbing to me but I don't think I fully understood at the time. In particular I remember being obsessed with Tiger Ragwhich I loved. I played that particular 78 over and over again.

Unfortunately, I also remember destroying a number of these precious discs through a mixture of foolishness and carelessness. Some I stood on, some I just dropped, but Tiger Rag I wrecked by spinning it on the turntable while holding a sewing needle in the groove to see if I could feel the music. (I was about seven at the time - old enough to know better but young enough to not be fully aware of the consequences of my stupidity.) As far as I remember, my dad reacted fairly well to the destruction of his records - much more calmly than I suspect I would if my daughters ever did anything as daft!

Finally, some thoughts about the Gibson Les Paul. The Fender Stratocaster is an iconic rock guitar and was probably the first type of guitar I noticed and identified when I saw it played on Top Of The Pops etc. I also remember being stunned when I saw the Flying V (being played by Michael Schenker if I remember correctly). However, as I got older (and wiser?) it was the look and the sound of the Gibson Les Paul that grabbed my attention. When I won the chance to build my own guitar, the sample specification they sent me was for a Stratocaster-ish rock monster, but it didn't take me long to decide that I wanted something more like the Les Paul. :-)

Friday, 7 August 2009

Free Download Friday #21: Glasvegas

I heard a comedian having a go at the Mercury Prize so went to see who the nominees were and was pleased to see Glasvegas there.

Originally uploaded by princess toadie
I think the first time I heard their music was when Radio 1 gave away a session track for free on the run up to Christmas 2008. I liked what I heard and subsequently bought their début LP called Glasvegas.

It was a bit tricky finding legal Glasvegas downloads but the two on the RCRD LBL site look legit. You can download Geraldine (which is excellent) and a remix of Go Square Go (which is OK).

They are described as Indie Rock and they remind me a bit (although just a bit) of The Ramones. Usually, however, they are described as being like Jesus and Mary Chain. Their songs often have a strong, basic beat from the drums overlaid with distorted, incessant guitar noise with a vocalist that sings in pure Glaswegian. Brilliant!

Check them out and let me know what you think.

P.S. I also found a download on the Preveiw New Music site - a live version of Daddy's Gone. However, I couldn't find any information about the site so I'm not sure how legal it would be to download from there. Does anybody have information about this site and the legal status of the downloads it links to?

Free Downloads - What do you think?

This blog has a small but clearly intelligent readership. According to sitemeter it gets an average of 7 visits per day. However on Free Music Fridays, it often goes up to 15 visits or more. It seems that Free Music Friday posts are fairly popular.

However, with the honourable exception of Jeff, I get very little feedback on the Friday posts. So before posting this week's free download, I thought I'd do a bit of market research:
What has been your favourite download and why?

Or, if you've never downloaded any of the music, is there something that puts you off?
If adding a comment to this message is too tricky, why not at least vote in the polls on the right?