Rodriguez Report

Look carefully - he's there! My favourite picture that I took of Rodriguez at the show.

Look carefully – he’s there! My favourite picture that I took of Rodriguez at the show.

Me before the gig

Me before the gig

I know every time I go and see a concert, I refer to its respective night as ‘one of the best nights of my life’. But Wednesday night genuinely was one of the best nights in my life. Why? I was lucky enough to see Sixto Rodriguez live! Rodriguez was my first big concert (I have, of course, seen many Beatles tributes before. And I’ve been to WOMAD and the Adelaide Fringe), and let me tell you now, it was a first concert to be very proud of! The atmosphere was amazing, and I swear the live versions of his songs are even better than the versions found on his albums, Cold Fact and Coming From Reality!

For those of you who don’t know who Rodriguez is, you may have heard of a documentary about him called Searching for Sugarman. Searching For Sugarman tells the incredible story of Rodriguez’s career. The basic story is that Rodriguez releases an album called Cold Fact in 1970. It sells something like six copies in the US. But somehow a bootleg of this album found itself in South Africa. Rodriguez quickly became ‘bigger than Elvis’ there, but nobody had a clue about who he really was. In fact, he was assumed to have committed suicide on stage in the 1970s. However, some South Africans found him anything but dead in his Detroit home, and ever since Rodriguez has been a cult hit across the world. But what Searching for Sugarman fails to show is that Rodriguez was also really popular here, in Australia! Not only did Cold Fact and Coming From Reality both make numbers 23 and 24 respectively on the Australian Albums chart on original release, Rodriguez also did two Australian tours in 1979 and 1981. Cold Fact reached number 11 on this year’s charts, too.

My mum and I became Rodriguez fans after our osteopath told us about Searching For Sugarman. Mum watched it (on a plane to Singapore in January) a few months before I did. I must have watched it in around March or April, and I was hooked! So as you will imagine, Mum and I got excited when — a couple of months ago — we discovered that Rodriguez was touring Australia this month…

…But we soon found that the tickets were nearly impossible to get! Scalpers had seemingly bought up big, and there had been no limit on presale tickets. And the ticketing website wouldn’t really work. So we nearly didn’t go. However — exactly two weeks before the concert — I found out that Mum had managed to get tickets! In Gold Reserve! Row M, to be exact. Perfect seats — we could see the stage really well. Rodriguez played the Adelaide Entertainment Centre, which is huge and — as my parents would describe it — ‘a big barn’, so these seats were really precious. Especially for last minute tickets.

Finally, we drove to the the Entertainment Centre. About 45 minutes after we first arrived through the gates (at just after 7:30 pm), the support act began her set. The support act was Jen Cloher, an Australian alt-folk muso who runs independent label Milk! Records with her partner, Courtney Barnett. I listen to a lot of alternative music and watch a music show called RocKwiz on which Cloher has been (and Milk! Records had been featured in an article in my favourite magazine, Frankie), so I had vaguely heard of her, though I assume most of the audience hadn’t. Cloher is in fact too from Adelaide (she now lives in Melbourne), and became a muso after moving to a suburb called Henley Beach when she was fourteen. Apparently she was also a major Doors fan during this period, but she also mentioned The Stones, Jimi Hendrix and a certain Liverpudlian foursome that completely and utterly changed the face of the world (hmm…we don’t know who they are, do we? 😉 ) as some of her favourite artists. I really, really enjoyed her set — almost as much as the actual gig! I liked her voice, probably ‘cos it reminded me a bit of mine — low and a bit different. And she played her acoustic-electric dead hard, which I thought was cool. I must buy some of her stuff at some point. She releases on vinyl, too, which I also think is cool.

There was half an hour between Jen Cloher and Rodriguez, so my parents and I sat ’round talking, and I may or may not have photobombed the person in front of us’s selfie, which may or may not have been found on Instagram the next morning… But then finally, the lights dimmed and Rodriguez’s band walked onstage. And I noticed something. A female bassist! It saddens me that one rarely sees female guitarists/bassists/drummers in the music industry, and as a female guitarist myself, the fact that a female bassist had been chosen for Rodriguez’s (Australian tour) band made me really happy. But not as happy as I was within a few minutes… Soon enough, the crowd went absolutely ballistic, and I could just see Rodriguez being led onstage (he now suffers from glaucoma). His management team (I assume) introduced him, and the crowd went nuts again. Rodriguez started playing a song — which I think is on his second album Coming From Reality (which I haven’t listened to in its entirety) — that I didn’t know. But I certainly knew the song he played third — ‘Only Good For Conversation’ (my favourite of his songs)! (He played ‘Crucify Your Mind’ second.) He obviously performed ‘Sugarman’ and ‘I Wonder’ (after which he said, ‘Well, I wonder — but I really don’t want to know.’), but he played so many other gems too. Other songs of his he performed included ‘Like Janis’ and ‘The Establishment Blues’, ‘Street Boy’ and ‘Forget It’, ‘I Think Of You’ and ‘Rich Folks’ Hoax’ — he even played a cover of ‘Blue Suede Shoes’! His voice sounds just as amazing as it does on record, and he played a really interesting technique of guitar. His actual instrument was interesting, too. The drummer and bassist were both fabulous, and I was particularly blown away by the dude who played lead guitar. He played an overdriven Fender the entire night (occasionally with a wah-wah pedal) and wow, was he good! He played a lead guitar line in place of the orchestrated bits on Rodriguez’s songs, which I think made the tunes sound even better than they do on record. My favourite example would have been the added solo in ‘Sugarman’. Flawlessly stunning work, in my opinion. I don’t think I stopped smiling and stomping my feet the entire night. And if I were to sum the night up in one word? Amazing. Completely, utterly, mind-blowing amazing. After about an hour of performing, Rodriguez was lead off-stage.

But there was an encore set! Rodriguez played ‘Can’t Get Away’ and some different (and better takes) of ‘Fever’ (not The Black Keys’ song!) and ‘I’m Gonna Live Till I Die’ (I usually dislike Frank Sinatra, but I liked this version very much). The crowd (including myself) all stood up and danced and sang. And then, somewhere between 10:30 and 11:00 pm, my amazing night was over. It was somewhat of a difficulty actually getting out of the Entertainment Centre (and through the post-gig traffic), but it was definitely worth it. I took plenty of pictures, so here they are:

Me before the show (again)

Me before the show (again)

The stage before the show

The stage before the show

Rodriguez!

Rodriguez!

Rodriguez again

Rodriguez again

And to conclude, my experience of seeing Rodriguez live was absolutely amazing. I don’t think I’ll ever forget my experiences that night. Thank you, Rodriguez, for providing me with a wonderful night out.

40th post! Hurrah! What a journey these past 5 months have been.. Stay tuned for a post on my favourite Beatles quotes and possibly a post on seeing A Hard Day’s Night at the cinema (only a week ’till I get to see it on the big screen!). Right now, I’m listening to the White Album. ‘Till next week, though, good day sunshine 🙂

My Beatles Record Collection Pt. 3 – ‘Beatles For Sale’

As pretty much everyone in Australia knows, The (Rolling) Stones played Adelaide Oval last night, so I will post this picture in commemoration. We were actually in the CBD last night to see a movie, and thanks to my dad driving past The Stones' venue, we got to hear them play 'Honky Tonk Women'. Not my favourite Stones song, but there's no denying it sounded good live.

As pretty much everyone in Australia knows, The (Rolling) Stones played Adelaide Oval last night, so I will post this picture. We were actually in the CBD last night to see a movie, and thanks to my dad driving past The Stones’ venue on the way home, we got to hear them play ‘Honky Tonk Women’! Not my favourite Stones song (by a long shot), but there’s no denying it sounded good live.

It’s that time of month again! Time for another installation of ‘My Beatles Record Collection’! And this month, it’s [insert signature Ringo drum fill]…Beatles For SaleBeatles For Sale was The Beatles’ fourth studio album, and was the last to comply by the covers/originals formula that also went for Please Please Me and With The Beatles (though both Help! and Let It Be included covers as well). It was also The Beatles’ first gatefold album (and must have been one of the earliest examples of such packaging), and is the first album on which one can really hear The Beatles start to mature. Bob Dylan’s influence on the group (especially John) is particularly evident, and the bulk of John’s first explorations of confessional lyricism (he was suffering from depression at the time) can be found on this album. The UK cover/back cover are actually two of my favourite pictures of the group (the latter can be found on my school book labels!), but sadly the cover butcherers also known as EMI Australia decided to ruin the cover here. Not many people rate this album particularly highly, but I beg to differ. Some of my favourite Beatles songs are on this album! But onto vinyl…

I have a couple of dream vinyl purchases. Y’know, a numbered White Album, that sort of thing. And one of the things on my dream list is a UK first-edition Beatles For Sale. But sadly, it is exactly what the list suggests — a dream (at the moment). My copy of Beatles For Sale is much like my A Hard Day’s Night — a ’70s “orange label” repressing. With the Australian cover (which means no gatefold). But oh well. I only got it for about 30 bucks (plus sale discount), and it was definitely 30 bucks well spent! The vinyl doesn’t play as well as some of my other records, but there are no skips and the crackle (most of which probably comes from our record player) is bearable. Here are some pictures:

beatles for sale one

Here is that dreadful Australian cover. Apparently the images are from one of the band’s Sydney concerts. On second thoughts, the cover isn’t that bad — it just looks quite ‘yick’ compared to the beautiful British one! It is pretty bad, though, as far as Beatles covers go. I can see why John complained to EMI. (Still better than any One Direction album cover! Hee hee!) My cover actually needs a glue job, ‘cos the original glue across the top edge has perished. A job for me at some point, I s’pose.

beatles for sale two

The back of the record. A similar kind of thing (the sleeve notes, the track listing, the title and the picture) appeared in black on the left side of the British gatefold sleeve. As you can see, there are no backflaps, and if you look carefully, you can see the record is in stereo (like all other Beatles re-releases of the time). The picture is actually quite outdated, if you think about it. It appears to be A Hard Day’s Night era, and The Beatles had ditched the suits and had grown their hair a bit since then. I quite like it, though.

beatles for sale three

Here’s the really interesting thing about the cover — not specific to the Australian version, but who cares. And what is that thing, you ask? Why, Derek Taylor’s sleeve notes! Especially this quote…

It isn’t all currency or current though. There’s a priceless history between these covers. None of us is getting any younger. When, in a generation or so, a radio-active, cigar-smoking child, picnicking on Saturn, asks you what the Beatle affair was all about – ‘Did you actually know them?’ – don’t try to explain all about the long hair and the screams! Just play the child a few tracks from this album and he’ll probably understand what it was all about. The kids of AD2000 will draw from the music much the same sense of well-being and warmth as we do today.

And Derek Taylor must be psychic! Well, he got the Saturn bit wrong (that’ll probably happen in AD3000!), but the bolded sentence is truer than ever. Yes, the kids of AD2000 do draw the same sense of well-being and warmth as they did in the ’60s. And not just 2000. The children of the 2010s do to. And I bet you that the cycle will continue on forever. ‘Cos that is the reality of priceless music.

beatles for sale four

Here’s a picture of the LP with the cover. As you can see, it’s an “orange label” version (most likely late ’70s), and like all Australian pressings (including firsts — I actually have a first-edition Australian), it comes in a plastic sleeve, as opposed to the paper ones found in UK pressings.

beatles for sale five

And here’s Side Two of the LP. Very good condition — not a scratch! It crackles a lot, though, ‘cos it’s so thin and our record player is about as old as The Beatles’ albums. I love our record player dearly, though. Probably my favourite piece of furniture (it’s a proper stereogram) in the house.

And there you go! ‘My Beatles Record Collection’ done for another month. Stay tuned in particular for the next four months, ‘cos many of my more interesting and rare and valuable pieces will feature.

Last night, I went to see a wonderful Spanish film called Living Is Easy (With Eyes Closed). The film (named after a line in ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ is about a Spanish teacher called Antonio who is an obsessive Beatles/John fan. When he hears that John is filming How I Won The War in Almeria, he makes a trip out there from his town. On the way, he picks up two teenage hitch-hikers, and the film is basically about their adventures and Antonio’s many plans for meeting John. As long as you don’t mind reading subtitles, I highly recommend it! Google it for more information.

AND IMPORTANT NEWS FOR AUSTRALIAN READERS: A HARD DAY’S NIGHT IS COMING TO AUSTRALIA! Yay! After I thought for so long that it wouldn’t. AHDN is screening in its beautiful remastered glory as a part of the British Film Festival. If you’re Adelaidean like me, it’ll be on at the Palace Nova Cinema on November 9th at 7:30pm. Check the Film Festival’s website if you live elsewhere. But anyway, we’ve already got tickets, and I’m really excited! If you’ve been reading since the beginning, you’ll know how much I wanted to see the film on the big screen, and now I have the chance! I’ll be sure to write all about it after I’ve seen it. I guess last night will go down in my mind as the night I saw a fabulous film, found out A Hard Day’s Night was coming to Australia and heard The Stones play live.

And this Wednesday is the Rodriguez concert! I, too, am really excited about that! My first big concert! Yay! I’ll write all about it next weekend. But for now, good day sunshine! 🙂

Beatles Song of the Post (and a few other tidbits)

I don't know if I've posted this image before (I think it's one of my headers), but I love these pictures so much! Reminds me of the album they are used to promote, '1' -- the first Fabs album I ever bought, and my key to the wonderful world of The Beatles...

I don’t know if I’ve posted this image before (I think it’s one of my headers), but I love these pictures so much! Reminds me of the album they are used to promote, ‘1’ — the first Fabs album I ever bought, and my key to the wonderful world of The Beatles…

Well, the final school term of 2014 has begun, and 7 weeks left of this school year! Yay! I have a really big History assignment impending, so I apologise if I don’t get to post as much as I’d like. I also have my Grade 3 violin exam coming in two weeks. These next couple of months are going to be very busy. But The Beatles (and this blog) will not be neglected! I also have another exciting event coming up in a couple of weeks, too, which I’ll write more about at the bottom of this post. The weather is really, really hot here in Adelaide today, but it’ll get to a good 15 or so degrees above this in January, so I guess I’d better get used to it. But to sum up this paragraph, everything finally seems peaceful and round in my mind, and to quote The Beatles, “It’s getting better all the time!” For once, my pessimistic nature seems to be taking a back seat… 😉

So today, I was going to do a relatively detailed post, but I’ve got some other stuff to write about too so I decided just to write about a featured Beatles song. And because it’s so hot today, I’ve decided to feature (drum roll please, Ringo)…’Rain’! (Yeah, I know — it is obviously not raining here, but there are lines in this song that refer to the sun…)

‘Rain’ isn’t even remotely well known, yet it’s still one of the most influential songs ever released (IMO). Only The Beatles could do that! It was, in fact, the B-side to ‘Paperback Writer’ (both gorgeous songs), though some say it was actually a double-A-sided single. It was (slightly obviously) written by John (HE’S SINGING IT), and he, er, rather obviously, is singing it. I read somewhere that he sang much of the backing vocals as well, though according to Wikipedia Paul and George also sang a track each. Apparently (again according to Wikipedia), it has been often hailed “The Beatles’ finest B-side”. Well, The Beatles’ B-sides are actually a lot of their best songs (‘This Boy’ is, in my opinion, a far superior song to ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’. I considerably prefer ‘You Can’t Do That’ to ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’. ‘Yes It Is’ is a B-side, and whilst I love ‘Ticket To Ride’ about equally to it, it is still absolutely exquisite. Not to even mention ‘I Am The Walrus’, ‘Revolution’, ‘Old Brown Shoe’….), so I really do not know how one could choose a finest B-side. So let’s just say its one of their finest…

Some claim that the song was about LSD, and others claim it is about the horrible weather that John saw when he was touring Australia. I — being Australian — obviously think it would be cool if one of my favourite songs is written about my country, but I honestly don’t care if it’s about acid or not. I guess we’ll never know what is the right story, as John never commented on what the song was about. But anyway… The song is notable for being the first exhibition of BACKMASKING! And I guarantee you that no satanic messages were involved 😉 … Both John and George Martin have claimed that they created it. John claims to have accidentally discovered it whilst listening to a tape of the song whilst he was “stoned out of his mind”, and George Martin also claims that he discovered it whilst playing around with the tapes and thinking it would be fun to do something with John’s voice. Geoff Emerick backs up John, but who knows? John played his 1965 Gretsch Nashville (rhythm) guitar, Paul used his Rickenbacker bass for the first time, George used his Gibson SG and Ringo played, well, his Ludwig drums. Talking of Ringo’s drumming, ‘Rain’ often cited as Ringo’s best drumming performance (including Ringo himself). Quote Ringo: “I think it’s the best out of all the records I’ve ever made. ‘Rain’ blows me away…I know me and I know my playing…and then there’s ‘Rain'” The song just has an amazing rhythm track, full stop. Be sure to listen to it with good-quality speakers and/or headphones!

This song was also one of the earliest examples of the music clip. As you may or may not remember from my earlier post Six Ways The Beatles Changed The World, The Beatles basically invented the music clip, and were using promo films as early as late 1965, but at that point were really just miming their stuff in black-and-white. Though you could technically say that ‘Penny Lane’/’Strawberry Fields Forever’ were the first true music videos (they are truly amazing — look them up), ‘Rain’ and ‘Paperback Writer’ were the first songs that had proper music clips. The Beatles are filmed wandering around the grounds of a British mansion called Chiswick House IN COLOUR, and yeah, they mime, but there you have it! To quote George, “So I suppose, in a way, we invented MTV.”

So there you have it — a profile of one of The Beatles’ finest songs, from my favourite Beatles era. (The music from that era is — excuse cliche — too completely and utterly beautiful for words.) Hope you learnt something!

And my news… I’M GOING TO SEE RODRIGUEZ LIVE IN TWO WEEKS! Some of you may have heard of a guy called Rodriguez (or Sixto Rodriguez) and/or a documentary called Searching For Sugarman. Story cut short, Rodriguez was an American folk singer (slightly Dylanesque) who sold about six records in the US, but was “bigger than Elvis” in South Africa. (He also sold quite well here.) He was actually thought dead by most of his fans until he was found by some South African fans in the ’90s. And next month he is touring Australia! We only managed to finally get tickets a couple of days ago, as most of them had been bought by stupid scalpers. But anyway, I’m really excited, and you’ll be sure to get a post on the gig! I’ll leave you with my favourite Rodriguez song now, so good day sunshine until next week! 🙂