Jimi, who passed away half a century ago at the age of 27, was a hurricane. Cited by most as one of the best instrumentalists of his era and quite possibly of all time, few guitarists have managed to surpass the influence Jimi boasts: one which is arguably even stronger today than it was on this fateful day half a century ago. Anyone who’s ever picked up a guitar will be all too familiar with the magic of his playing, but in saying that, it’s fair to assume that everyone who’s never picked up a guitar will probably be just as acquainted with it as well.
On a personal note – and please, pardon me for getting so whimsical here – Hendrix is nothing but a hero to me. His cutting edge synthesis of sounds, his dynamo guitar playing, his impeccable dress sense and his wildly psychedelic iconography – everything about him still enchants me now just as much as it did when I was a gang ho 13 year old, fumbling through the riff to ‘Foxy Lady’.
Hendrix’s talent on the fretboard eclipsed that of anybody else who came before and after him. With a flipped Stratocaster slung around his shoulders, Hendrix wowed the world with his wildly adventurous acrobatics, often tearing out his gobsmacking guitar solos while striking the strings with his teeth or blindly behind his head. Even as a nameless session guitarist playing with the likes of Little Richard, Curtis Knight and The Isley Brothers, Hendrix was prone to stealing the limelight, and it was this showmanship that would make him a legend in the early days.
Tales of him forcing Eric Clapton, then considered the greatest guitarist who ever lived, offstage with his head hung in shame – at his own gig and before Hendrix had even released an album, nonetheless – with his uncanny talents are deemed as culture shifting moments within the annals of guitar history, and the reverence shown to him by future heroes like Stevie Ray Vaughan, John Frusciante and John Mayer simply speak for themselves.
It was on his debut Are You Experienced? where the true power of Hendrix’s mastery on the fretboard come to the forefront. Recorded alongside the talents of drummer Mitch Mitchell – one of rock’s most underrated drummers, and a monstrous jazz drummer in his own right – and bassist Noel Redding – a guitarist-turned-bassist who recognised Hendrix’s sheer talent and sought to support him in every way possible – the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s debut album is recognised as one of the greatest debuts in history, and you’d be hard pressed to find a flat moment across its runtime.
From the feedback-drenched intro of ‘Foxy Lady’ and the warbling 3/4 groove of ‘Manic Depression’ through to the smokey balladry of ‘The Wind Cries Mary’, Are You Experienced? is a classic through and through. Preceded by some Hendrix’s best known cuts – while appearing on subsequent reissues, ‘Hey Joe’ and ‘Purple Haze’ were initially released as singles – the album features fan favourites like the proto-punk leaning ‘Fire’, the noodling blues of ‘Red House’ and the sheer psychedelic bliss of ‘Third Stone From The Sun’. It goes without saying that the impact of Are You Experienced? was immediate: the world had never heard guitar played like this before, and it’s arguable that it never would ever again.
However, Hendrix wasn’t just a great guitarist – in fact, it’s arguable that his influence away from the guitar is just as important as it was on it. A sublimely adventurous poet of the psychedelic era, Jimi possessed a talent for songwriting that remains far superior to that of many of his contemporaries: the emotional potency of ‘Little Wing’, an epic guitar ballad penned in memory of his own mother, or the metaphoric might of ‘Castles Made Of Sand’ on his second album Axis: Bold As Love are prime examples of his penmanship.
It was on this sophomore effort where Hendrix began to truly solidify himself as a titan. Songs like ‘Spanish Castle Magic’ and ‘If 6 Were 9’ were about as progressive as 1967 ever got, while the casual jazzy textures of alien ballad ‘Up From The Skies’ and ‘One Rainy Wish’ showed a much more soulful side of Hendrix that he’d rarely let the world glimpse at before. As if to exemplify what was to come next, Axis: Bold As Love ends on a high with the one-two punch of ‘Little Miss Lover’ and ‘Bold As Love’: the former an oft-sampled psych-rock staple, the latter heralded as one of the most important engineering feats of its era, due to the genius phasing, panning and reverse guitar trickery exemplified by Hendrix and his engineer Eddie Kramer during its epic final half.
In an attempt to further his status beyond that of a guitar maestro, Hendrix also showed immense prowess as a producer – a tantalising talent that was sadly never fully realised beyond Electric Ladyland. With legendary engineer Eddie Kramer by his side, Hendrix toyed with a studio ethic that was rivalled by few – when recording his third record, he’d often host ludicrously extravagant parties in the recording studio, with the chemical-fulled sonic binges often kicking on long into the early hours of the morning – a schedule that’d soon see him fall out of favour with Noel Redding, who would depart the Experience during the Electric Ladyland sessions.
It was through these sessions where Jimi would give birth to now-legendary cuts like ‘Crosstown Traffic’, ‘Gypsy Eyes’ and ‘Voodoo Chile’, as well as two of Jimi’s most definitive songs of all time: ‘Voodoo Child (Slight Return)’, a wah-wah drenched reprise of of ‘Voodoo Child’ that was performed spontaneously for a film crew that walked into the studio, and ‘All Along The Watchtower’, a Bob Dylan cover that became so synonymous with Jimi’s name that Dylan himself would later attribute the song’s cultural significance to Hendrix’s own version. It’s this song that’s often said to be the most iconic in Jimi’s discography, and when you break the track down stem-by-stem, it’s difficult to disagree: if there’s any tune that exemplifies the instrumental and compositional talents of Hendrix best, it’s this one.
Around this time, Hendrix was also responsible for commissioning the construction of Electric Lady Studios, a cutting edge recording studio custom built to his own specifications that would later give birth to classic albums from the likes of Stevie Wonder, Patti Smith, D’Angelo, Daft Punk and Lorde. Although Hendrix would only use the studio a scant ten weeks himself before his passing, Electric Lady Studios has since been recognised as one of the best studios of the modern age, and it’s a given that its Hendrix-envisioned design is integral to its sonic success.
After the release of Electric Ladyland and an iconic appearance at Woodstock, Jimi would be forced into recording another album of original material at the tail-end of the ‘60s due to a long-standing legal dispute. Eschewing his tried-and-true chemistry with the Experience, Jimi would link up with two other African-American artists – his longtime military friend Buddy Box and the enigmatic singer/drummer Buddy Miles – for two performances at New York’s Filmore East that would later go down in history when released as Band Of Gypsys: undoubtedly Jimi’s most unique record, and possibly even the greatest live album of all time.
Band Of Gypsys is a notable outlier in Hendrix’s catalogue for many reasons. Firstly, it was his first recorded effort with an all Black ensemble – some even speculate Hendrix linked up with Cox and Miles for the album due to pressure from the Black Power movement of the era, and its influence shows. In contrast to the rock-inspired bass lines of Redding and the jazzy grooves of Mitch Mitchell, Cox and Miles brought a level of funk that, in 1969, the world had rarely seen beyond the likes of James Brown: ‘Who Knows’ and ‘Message to Love’ are both shining examples of funk rock in its earliest phases, while ‘Changes’ and ‘We Gotta Live Together’ demonstrate the soulful vocal chops of drummer Buddy Miles in a manner that still manages to captivate listeners to this day: for a drummer to possess such a powerful voice was simply unprecedented.
However, if there was any crowning achievement on Band Of Gypsys, it has to be ‘Machine Gun’. Inspired by the carnage of the Vietnam War, ‘Machine Gun’ is certainly Hendrix’s crowning achievement as a musician. With an opening triplet strum pattern that’s not dissimilar from the stuttering three round burst of an M16 – the US Military’s chosen weapon of carnage at the time – ‘Machine Gun’ is completely apocalyptic. Feeding his guitar through a whooshing Uni-Vibe effect, Hendrix rips one of the most punishing, tortured guitar solos of all time, whipping up a punishing portrait of wartime carnage through his uncanny command of guitar feedback and effects pedals. It’s a spine-chilling moment that ranks as one of the most captivating solos of all time – to this day, I’ve still heard nothing quite like it.
One of the most tantalising ‘what-ifs?’ in music history is the question of where Hendrix was going to take his career beyond 1970, and what he would have done if he’d had access to the pioneering musical inventions that would emerge throughout the decade. It’s all too easy to imagine him sharing a stage with Parliament-Funkadelic, or perhaps helping Herbie Hancock and his Headhunters usher in a new era of jazz-funk – at one point towards the end of his life, he was even planning to create a supergroup with Miles Davis and Paul McCartney. It’s a given that Jimi would have linked up in the studio with Prince and become enamoured with the arrival of the synthesiser, and I can only imagine his delight at the prospect of sampling and sequencing electronic grooves. Hell, he probably would have even had it cut out for himself as a rapper if he wanted to take to the mic and really show off his lyrical talents.
Of course, none of that happened, and instead, at the age of 27, Jimi died a rockstar. Perhaps it’s these ‘what-ifs?’ that make the Hendrix myth just as compelling now as it ever has been, but it’s also amazing to look back on what Hendrix managed to achieve in the short time he spent on Earth. Even the swathe of unpolished and often-unflattering posthumous releases from the vaults of his estate have failed to tarnish his titanium status, and it should come to no surprises that his records continue to sell more each year now than they ever did while he was alive – but of course, that’s no way to measure his success.
Jimi’s influence upon music – and not just guitar music – remains unprecedented, and even though the instrument’s pop cultural dominance has since been eclipsed by subsequent musical inventions, Jimi remains a hero in the eyes of all kinds of creators. He’s the one who reminds you to wave your freak flag high and never let your spirit be compromised; the one who encourages you to work a little harder at your craft; the one who’ll you never press skip on, knowing you’ll surely be treated to some mind-blowing moment of magic, beaming out from the fingers and onto the fretboard. Jimi was, is and will forever be the world’s greatest guitar hero. 50 years from today, I’m sure I’ll feel exactly the same way.
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Based on the brand’s classic OC-2 that was first introduced back in 1982, the OC-5 takes the blueprint of the original unit and up-skills it to suit the needs of the modern guitarist. In addition to featuring the monophonic mode of the original, the OC-5 makes use of a polyphonic mode to track full chords, making for rich harmonic textures and slippery solos alike.
With controls to blend two octaves down, octave down, octave up and dry tone, the OC-5 seeks to cover a tonne of sonic territory, and can even be toggled to suit bass or guitar frequencies. The pedal’s poly mode even features a low range setting to only emphasise the lowest note in your chord to create a thickened, White Stripes-esque accompaniment – hear it in action below.
Elsewhere in Boss land, there’s also the new Pocket GT, which crams over 100 amps, effects, educational and tone editing tools into one super compact package. As well as featuring a GT sound engine pulled from their GT Processor series, the Pocket GT features an integrated learning function to let you watch YouTube content via the Boss Tone Studio app and play along to your favourite song.
The unit also features a rechargeable battery with four hours of run-time, wireless Bluetooth and Aux in capabilities and an inbuilt tuner, while 99 memory presets let you store any amp or effects combinations you might cook up. There’s even a USB audio interface built in to let you record to your favourite DAW, as well as a whole bank of presets available to download from Boss Tone Central – in short, it’s fully stacked.
Check out both products in greater detail over at the Boss website today.
While Swayze’s progressive lyricism and the gridlock grooves of his bandmates are a force to be reckoned with on stage, any fan of punk can tell you that capturing that energy on record is a different story altogether. It’s all too easy for a band’s spirit to shrink the minute they’re forced into an acoustically-treated studio and told to play to a click, and there’s more than a few examples where the end results have turned out disastrous.
Choosing the smart route when it came to their debut, A. Swayze & The Ghosts decided not to bend to expectations, bunkering down in Northcote’s St. Charles Studios with producer Dean Tuza (Stella Donnelly, These New South Whales) to churn out their record in a matter of days. Opting for a minimalist approach to the record’s production, Tuza simply set up, pressed record and sat back and A. Swayze & The Ghosts do their thing: suffice to say, the results speak for themselves.
In a time where live shows are practically outlawed, Paid Salvation does a pretty mean job of bringing the sensation of spilt lager, sweat and smoking areas back to the forefront of your conscience. It’s a blistering record that very nearly encapsulates the essence of the band’s live performances, built on a bedrock of cranked amps, pure creative chemistry and a hell of a lot of conviction.
To find out more about the making of Paid Salvation, we pit the band’s drummer Zac Blain in conversation against the record’s producer Dean Tuza to deliver an unparalleled insight into how he and the band managed to capture the magic of A. Swayze & The Ghosts on tape.
How did you come across A. Swayze & The Ghosts, and what were your initial thoughts on the band?
I first heard A Swayze through Chris Wright (management). He hit me up because he liked some of the records I had worked on previously for artists such as Leroy Francis and Mossy. I Googled the band and saw pictures of Andrew Swayze hanging from the rafters at some outdoor festival in Sydney. I switched on the demos I was sent and just thought “Shiiiit, we have to capture this energy!”
When working with an artist, what’s the goal YOU are trying to achieve in the pre-production time?
When working with a guitar band, I feel pre-production is some of the most important time in the whole process. I am simultaneously trying to figure out band dynamics, arrangements, tempos, key signatures. Pretty much anything that might bite us in the butt when in the studio.
During pre-production in Hobart, we explored a lot of ideas for the record. Do you remember any major points of reference when developing ideas for the songs?
In my head I’m always thinking about four part harmony and how to lead the ‘voice’ (or whatever instrument is front and centre). My goal for producing this entire record was to be as transparent as possible. I didn’t want the listeners to feel the band had a producer’s grubby hands all over it. It just had to feel natural and as if we were recording in their basement rehearsal room in Tasmania.
Were you already formulating an approach to the tracking/recording during this time? What influences those decisions?
Definitely thinking of ways to approach recording from the very first listen. Where is the energy in the track? Are we going to be able to track live? Is there sections where it’s slowing and speeding up?
With tempo I’m listening to both lyrical articulation and narrative. How does it feel coming out of the singer? Is he rushing words? Can we follow the story? And also the kick and snare rudiments. Rhythms too fast or too slow can change the whole genre.
Key signatures are a big deal in terms of giving the song somewhere to go. A lot of the times I try and transpose the song to a key where it is pushing the vocalist in the choruses. The more we can get the voice to break the better. Key signatures can be a little tricky to navigate with guitars in strange tuning because the chords are so open. Sometimes there are only certain spots they can be played well.
Were there any recording techniques that you always wanted to try or experiment with, and got an opportunity to on the session?
We had access to one of the most equipped private studios in the country. Just to narrow down our choices, all of the recording equipment was made in the ’70s. Vintage mics and outboard, lots of Neumanns and APIs and AWAs. I did put a vintage Neumann u47 less than a foot away from an Ampeg SVT Classic bass amp turned up to ten…
Has there ever been a time where you haven’t been satisfied with a finished product that you’ve been a part of?
Nah… They are all special in their own ways. You just have to let it go.
Do you have some key gear/signal paths that ALWAYS make it in a session?
For some reason the vintage Sony 37a always makes an appearance. We ended up using that on Andrew’s voice. The instant he sang into it he wanted to use it on the whole record. He stood about 60cm back from the mic and had his hands touching the roof whilst blasting out the songs. His tone is incredible.
Through our many conversations over the last two years, you’ve always been looking for new innovations to make your work more and more enjoyable. Has anything got you really excited at the moment?
During the Covid lockdown I have switched from ProTools to Cubase. I read a book by Seth Godin about ‘Sunk Costs’ and decided that even though I have been with ProTools for 18 years (since Digi 001) it doesn’t keep up with my workflow anymore. So I switched to Cubase Pro. I could write a book on what Cubase does that ProTools can’t! I couldn’t be happier with my decision.
Do you listen to music for pleasure?
YES! I listen to tunes everyday! It is the single biggest thing that a producer should do (In my opinion)…. I have a list a mile long with stuff to listen to. Whether it’s references for artists / artists recommendations or blog premieres. But I’m always flicking to YouTube and checking out tunes to give my ears a rest whilst working on tunes.
Paid Salvation, the debut album from A. Swayze & The Ghosts, is out now on Ivy League Records.
Web series shows how Aussie music leaders dealt with COVID-19
A new three-part web series called Banding Together from the Australian Music Vault proves an interesting view, among other things, how 32 music leaders responded to the aptly ominous Friday 13 shutdown of the live sector in March, and the way they cope these days.
Michael Gudinski was frozen for a week, and then moved his staff and resources to live-streaming and putting Australian music in front of prime time TV.
The team worked without a break to get Music From The Homefront ready by the Anzac Day holiday. It drew one million viewers on Nine and great reviews. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews rang him the next morning to insist that the streaming series State Of Music they were discussing had to be up by end of the week, which meant another four days of no-sleep work.
APRA AMCOS, which normally works out live performance royalties from gig forms submitted by members, used calculations from 2019 to ensure they got paid this year.
Venue booker Emily Ulman used her credit card to launch live-streaming festival Isol-Aid, initially for a week or two, to give exposure to marginalised artists (74% of acts had a female-identifying member), musicians of colour or those with physical disabilities. It this week celebrated its 27th episode, a big success.
Artist manager John Watson (Missy Higgins, Cold Chisel, Midnight Oil), ever the strategist, went back to books written about the Great Depression and read that those who wee lacklustre about work “will be the first to get shaken out.”
Jimmy Barnes wakes up and works out the day’s biggest challenge and takes it on first.
Banding Together, which you can watch here, was produced by Australian Music Vault industry advisor and projects manager Carl Gardner and Vault advisory board member Marcus Knight.
The first episode (Sept 15) was about mentally dealing with the lock-ins. The second (Tues Sept 22) is about the dazzling innovation and creativity shown by the music industry to survive, and the third (Tues Sept 29) about how music is more than just entertainment or an artform “but an essential service”.
Good Day Sunshine, Remix Hotel show the future of Australian festivals
With COVID restrictions expected to stay with us for at least 12 months, Australian promoters are offering events that fit in with health department requirements and still maintain the crowd buzz.
WA’s Good Day Sunshine (October 31 in Barnard Park on the Busselton Foreshore) allow for its 5,000 attendance by splitting the site into four sections. Each will have its own entry and exit, bar and toilets. Teams of cleaners will be on hand and “a full-time medic in case anyone shows symptoms,” promoter Ross Macpherson of Fremantle-based Macro Music told us.
Macro Music opted for a round revolving stage, with huge screens which will constantly flash messages about washing hands. Backstage and side-stage social distancing will be practised. The bill is mostly solo acts like John Butler, Xavier Rudd, Josh Pyke which will make it easy for them to social distance while playing.
Over in Brisbane, Remix Hotel will be held October 9 to 11 at a transformed hotel Ovolo The Valley in Fortitude Valley. Hotel rooms are capped at six each, and patrons can watch EDM acts (headlined by Groove Armada) being streamlined. Those who want to go to the restaurant or poolside will have strict rules.
Michael Watt of XR Events said, “We’re so proud to be able to have some of the biggest names in clubland contributing to our event. Remix Hotel is a new concept that works within COVID-19 guidelines, it’s an entire weekend lifestyle experience like nothing that’s ever been done before.”
Robert Stigwood Fellowship opens
Applications opened for the sixth Robert Stigwood Fellowship Program in South Australia. Named after the expat who moved to the UK and ended up managing Cream and the Bee Gees and made films and musicals, the program will provide intensive mentoring and personalised professional development from Stu MacQueen and Dan Crannitch of Wonderlick Entertainment (Amy Shark, Japanese Wallpaper, Holy Holy and Montaigne).
There are two streams, one for industry entrepreneurs who’ll get career advice and a 12-month business plan and the other for artists who get mentoring in songwriting, production, business skills, marketing and public relations, and attendance at conferences and high-level industry meetings.
Apply to Music Development Office at https://mdo.sa.gov.au by Thursday 8 October at 11.59pm. Past Stigwood Fellows include Tkay Maidza, Bad//Dreems, George Alice, Stellie, Jess Day, Timberwolf, Electric Fields, West Thebarton and Heaps Good Friends.
Live-streams from TIDAL
Jay-Z’s high-fidelity audio streaming service TIDAL has partnered with Facebook’s virtual reality platform Oculus to deliver the most authentic sounding “live, immersive, and “intimate” music performances from “some of the biggest names in the world.”
These can be viewed via the Venues app on the Oculus Quest) and on TIDAL’s own platform.
This is the latest in tech and streaming convergence, with Amazon Music incorporating livestreaming platform Twitch in its app, and UK virtual reality firm MelodyVR buying Napster (the original digital music disruptor) for $70 million.
Spotify has also started listing virtual events listings on artist profiles and in the Concerts hub.
Loosening up NSW Stadiums, ACT bars
From October 1, NSW stadiums hosting one-off events can fill up to 50% rather than 25%. This means Bankwest Stadium can have 15,000 people, the SCG up to 23,000 and ANZ Stadium up to 40,000.
People must wear masks while entering and exiting the venue but not while they are seated. People who live together can sit together. Sports and entertainment fans will sit in small groups. The venues will be split into zones, and patrons have to stay in theirs.
In Canberra restrictions are starting to loosen for smaller venues. From September 18, cafes, bars and restaurants with a 25-capacity will no longer have to deal with the “one per person per four square metres of usable space.”
Support Act sets up dedicated First Nations helpline
Support Act set up a First Nations Dedicated Support Line for artists and arts workers 24/7 at 1800 861 085 to express feelings of anxiety, depression, substance use, finance issues, and any other worries they may have.
Its Nations Community Engagement / Social Worker Cerisa Grant pointed out, “The Indigenous suicide rate was double that of the general population in 2015. Indigenous suicide increased from 5% of Australia’s total suicide in 1991 to 50% in 2010.
Arts Law Centre warns about copyright changes
The Arts Law Centre of Australia is worried about the copyright updates to put them in context of fast-changing digital landscape be introduced by the Federal Government this year.
The proposed reforms would make it okay for copyright material to be used if its owner can’t be identified, exempt education and cultural bodies, and streamline the statutory licensing scheme.
Arts Law Centre said is “is concerned about any reform that strips artists and creators of their rights or de-values their work.”
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After releasing their eponymous debut album only four months prior, Black Sabbath wanted to capitalise on their recent creative streak. Their first album had been slammed by critics as being too raw-some even stating that they were a rip off of Cream.
Rightfully ignoring this, the band stuck to their guns and only honed their sound further, in turn producing the template for genres like heavy metal, grunge, thrash and stoner rock. Sabbath’s magnum opus is exhilarating and powerful: obliterating in every sense. An album for the everyday man, with songs about the working class struggles the band were only too familiar with seeing in their native Birmingham, as well as the problems of depression addiction in the years that followed the devastating effects of World War Two upon the UK. In every way possible, Paranoid is horrifically beautiful, realistically reflecting the ugliness of our world in eight magnificent songs.
Beginning with the wailing guitars of ‘War Pigs’ and a distant alarm that hauntingly cuts in through the mix, the opening track begins slowly, before being suddenly exploding into its pulverising guitar refrain, pacing hi-hats and Ozzy Osbourne’s hypnotising voice, bellowing out from below. Black Sabbath then begin to fully unleash, with the four members battling out to show off their inimitable chops.
Picking up in crescendo, Osborne narrates: ‘Politicians hide themselves away, they only start the war, why should they go out to fight? They leave that role for the poor’. One can see clearly from the beginning, that this Sabbath album was meant to be different. Politically charged, Tony Iommi showcases flashes of brilliance, using his famous ‘The Monkey’ Gibson SG, while Bill Ward works the kit with a ferocious edge, to say the least.
Like its namesake, the song ‘Paranoid’ is also the album’s most intense. Written originally as a filler song, Tony Iommi worked out the riff in half an hour while the rest of the boys went for last drinks at the pub. A remarkable feat, as the song instantly became Sabbath’s most well known, hitting the charts and even causing the name of the album to be changed from ‘War Pigs’ after its success further manifested – even though the cover art makes references to a soldier, it was a no brainer for Sabbath to make the change.
Ward’s bass drum takes an absolute beating through the track, while Iommi’s iconic riff, is backed up with even more sensational bass playing by Geezer Butler. Osbourne just rocks out, laying an upbeat vocal take over the heavy sound to act as a perfect metaphor for what this album is all about: finding joy in the evil in the world.
‘Planet Caravan’ begins in stark contrast. A hypnotising piece, the four-minute track, sends listeners into a soothing place. Ozzy’s vocals hypnotising, utilising a Leslie speaker to make listeners feel like they’re floating through space. Tom Allom, who engineered the song, features on piano. Ward calmly plays the congas, with a spluttering of Geezer’ Bass helping create the ethereal sound.
The atmospheric jangle of Iommi’s guitar then rides off till the end, producing one of the best guitar moments in all of rock. Geezer Butler stated in an interview: “We liked it, nice and relaxing… Good to get stoned to.’ Perfectly encapsulating the very essence of the four-minute track.
‘Iron Man’ is hellish and brutal. A fuzzy, electrifying guitar and bass plunge through, turning into one of metal’s most iconic riffs. Ozzy screams: ’Is he alive or dead? Has he thoughts within his head?’
The key to Sabbath’s heavy guitar playing was due to an accident Iommi had experienced during his adolescence. Working at a sheet metal factory, the budding guitarist lost the tips off two of his fingers, leaving him to get prosthetics so he could continue to play guitar. Ironically, this resulted in helping create the drudge and heaviness that has created Sabbath’s iconic sound.
The band finally end with one last uproar, with such speed and precision. Geezer, Ward and Iommi unite, sounding like they’re playing their last performance on Earth.
There are not many bands with the ability to make albums like Black Sabbath. Only given six days to record, it’s really a testament to their skill to pump out an album such as this. Compared to their one recording day, for their first album, the band felt like six was a walk in the park. An anthem for the apocalypse, ‘Electric Funeral’s’ wining riff makes the thought of living through a nuclear holocaust very real.
‘Hand of Doom’ on the other hand, lays deeply in Sabbath’s blue roots, before placing their own twist on the genre. The slow pace looms over before Sabbath rips in every now and then with bursts of ferociousness. The fierceness is carried on to ‘Rat Salad’, which begins like a distorted Jimi Hendrix Experience song, sees Ward’s drumming at its tightest, playing with his sticks the other way round to create a thicker sound. This album solidifies Bill as not only one of the best drummers of rock and roll, but in the upper echelon of drummers to ever exist.
The Prince of Darkness’ incantatory voice and melodic prowess takes a hold on all who listens. This is the case especially for ‘Fairies Wear Boots’. Geezers potent lyricism has often been met with Ozzy who quickly claims that he had written most of the bands lyrics. Butler replied in an interview: ‘Ozzy didn’t write nothing. He can’t even read, so how could he write a song?”
The fact is, that the pair with their own respected talents fed off each other, making a unique song writing team matched only by a few. On the finale, Sabbath carries on in their classic fashion. Geezer Butler who is formally a guitar player, only made the switch to bass because Tony Iommi insisted that he would not play with another guitar player. This took the band to new lengths, no more evident than on the closing track.
Paranoid is Black Sabbath’s best album. Not only for their outstanding music ability, but for the meaning behind each song. This was the time of the band where they lived what they had written in their songs. Each of its members faced the prospect of working in factory’s their whole lives in the industrial sector of Birmingham. Unnecessary wars had constantly been fought for their whole lives. Their generation’s only outlet was drugs and alcohol, which ultimately led to problems with addiction. Facing these things, the band made Paranoid, so the ordinary person could get by – 50 years on, it’s just as poignant as it ever was back then.
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Mildlife – Automatic
With their irresistible blend of groovy jazz-funk, spacey disco and psychedelia, Mildlife have emerged as one of the country’s premier festival acts, with their 2018 debut Phase proving to be the soundtrack to many a light night escapade upon release. On Automatic, the four-piece sharpen their instrumental talents and match them with laser accurate structuring and gridlock grooves, making for their most immersive listening experience to date. Automatic is equal parts Pink Floyd and Herbie Hancock: for all the shimmering guitar parts and warbling analogue synths that pepper the album, you can almost bet there’ll be some rubbery drum and bass parts holding in down in the background in a manner that’s certainly nostalgic, but definitely not derivative. The sprawling synth odyssey of the epic title track finale is a huge highlight, but keep an ear peeled for some amazing moments across tunes like ‘Downstream’ and ‘Memory Palace’ -we can’t wait to catch this one live some day soon.
A. Swayze & The Ghosts – Paid Salvation
On their debut album, Tasmania’s greatest musical export in recent years channel the restless energy of their live shows into a twelve track release that’s jagged, raw and all too fun. Recorded over a mere matter of days in a converted warehouse studio in Northcote, Paid Salvation carries all the energy of a band playing their hearts out in a packed room, with the witty lyricism and charisma of frontman Andrew Swayze proving to be the band’s cutthroat secret weapon. Album opener ‘It’s Not Alright’ gets things off to a riotous start with its angular disco-punk groove, while songs like ‘Cancer’ and the title track draw upon Krautrock and early post-punk to pull things across the line. The raw production quality of Paid Salvation, as well as the band’s tight songwriting and unmatchable energy, make this record a big tick in the books for us: these guys are the shit.
Yellow Days – A Day in a Yellow Beat
With the immense popularity of figures like Mac DeMarco and Tame Impala in music today, the world’s seen an influx of woozy, DIY indie artists – many of them varying drastically in quality and longevity. With his brash experimentalism, stoner ethos and a wonderful knowledge of neo-soul, funk, blues and psychedelia, Yellow Days represents the finer side of this new wave, and his new record A Day in a Yellow Beat delivers enough fodder to prove just why. A monstrous 23 track affair, A Day in a Yellow Beat is cluttered thematically yet sonically concise: Yellow Days is drawing from so much source material over its 77 minute run-time that it’s occasionally overwhelming, yet the production and quality of performances still makes it a killer listen. There’s some super funky grooves over this album, and it seems that Yellow Days has finally made his mark as an artist in this sphere when you listen to songs like ‘Open Your Eyes’ and ‘I Don’t Mind’ – even Mac DeMarco turns up himself to add his guitar chops to ‘The Curse’. A curious, indulgent offering that poises Yellow Days as the next big thing – if he’s not already.
Steve Arrington – Down To Lowest Terms: The Soul Sessions
You mightn’t recognise his name, but I can guarantee you’ve probably heard Steve Arrington’s voice: the man is an Ohio legend who’s been lending his talents to funk groups since the ’70s, and has been sampled on hit records from Jay-Z, NWA and Snoop Dogg. For the last decade, Arrington’s been associated with revered LA label Stones Throw, and it’s with these icons that he’s sharing his latest record Down To Lowest Terms: The Soul Sessions. Featuring production from some of the label’s best beatmakers, including Knxwledge, J Rocc and founder Peanut Butter Wolf, Down To Lowest Terms is a head-snapping contemporary funk odyssey that delivers everything you’d want from a Stones Throw release – there’s plenty of nasty Dilla-esque grooves, and Arrington’s might as a vocalist shines on each track to make for the perfect tape to smoke out to.
Peter Bibby – Marge
A Western Australian cult sensation from way back, Peter Bibby is a troubadour born from surf and sand, with his ramshackle brand of garage rock being beefed up by his penchant for dishing out little nuggets of wisdom that could’ve only been conceived in a beer garden. His new album, Marge, exemplifies everything that’s made him such a local hero in Fremantle: ‘Batteries’ starts as a folky sea shanty before descending into surf blues madness, ‘Stressed’ is a sub-minute punk freakout, ‘Your Mum’ a tenderly written acoustic track that’s certainly not as gruff as the title would imply. Bibby’s voice is as textbook an Australian snarl as you can get, and the blunt imagery of his lyricism works a treat over Marge – the legend lives on.
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