There is nothing like a great rock anthem to make you feel energised. You know. The kind of songs that speak to a generation and stay in your head forever. There are many wonderful ukulele versions of rock anthems to be found on You Tube. Here are just a few.
The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain recently performed AC-DC‘s Highway to Hell that was released in 1979 with the great Bon Scott on vocals. A terrific version with Dave Suich channeling Angus.
Their recent version of David Bowie‘s Heroes is also outstanding (click here).
Another ukulele orchestra, The Unique Komedy Ukulele Orchestra has done a ukulele version of Australian singer John Farnham‘s 1986 hit song, You’re The Voice, which has become a famous rock anthem in our country. It is wonderful to hear a ukulele interpretation that does it justice.
In the 1990s the US band Nirvana wrote some powerful songs that became rock anthems to a generation. That Scottish one man band, Pockets, performs Nirvana’s Lithium on ukulele with the help of a bass guitar and some drums.
Pockets also does a ukulele version of Green Day‘s 1994 Basket Case (click here)
Finally from the Ukulele Turin Orchestra is Muse‘s 2009 driving rock anthem, Uprising.
Playing the ukulele needn’t be sedate. If you love rock and roll there is plenty of inspiration to be found in favourite rock anthems.
Kat, Bayside Ukes member.
A fun ukulele band from the UK is the League of Ukulele Gentlemen. They recently played in Austria with a great audience response. Here is their lively The Reel.
Here in Melbourne it is late autumn and the temperature has plummeted after a relatively warm start to the season. When the weather turns cold it is fun to play songs on your ukulele that remind you of summer and generate some heat. There are many terrific songs in this category that sound wonderful on the ukulele and the following is a small selection to inspire other ukulele players.
The Doors song Light My Fire just requires a simple rhythm and some soulful singing to take away the cold. The following performance by Jesus Pinedo and Chyrisse Tabone is a good example.
Bring back the memories of those hot summer nights with a lively rendition of The Loving Spoonful’s Summer in the City like in the following video.
A classic song about the hot days of summer is Heat Wave made famous by Marilyn Monroe in the film There’s No Business Like Show Business. Ukester Brown demonstrates how it is done on the ukulele during a very cold winter.
Of course there is that other famous Heat Wave song. The Ukelites do a very cool version.
Another fantastic song to get rid of the wintry chills is Elvis Presley’s Burning Love, here played by the Ukulele Turin Orchestra in a beautiful location.
The cold months are a good time to stay cosy and to play your ukulele. And if it is coming up to summer where you are, play your ukulele outside and enjoy the warmth while it lasts.
Kat, Bayside Ukes member
In Australia and New Zealand it is Anzac Day on 25 April and in 2018 we will be remembering the final year of WWI, as well as later conflicts. This year it is the one hundredth anniversary of the battle at Villers-Bretonneux where the Australians had a major victory after so much loss and there will be commemorations at the Australian National Memorial on that site in France on April 25. At these times singing songs is an appropriate way to remember such events. The following songs about war sound great on the ukulele, whether they are about the sad or happier times.
One of the most powerful war songs is The Band played Waltzing Matilda written by Scottish Aussie, Eric Bogle in 1971. It’s about the Gallipoli campaign of 1915 but could be about the horror of any war and that is why it has become so popular in other countries. Silly Dave does a good version. And by the way, matilda is the swag or the bed roll carried by a swagman on his journeys and not a woman.
A song that was popular with the troops in France during WWI was Mademoiselle from Armentieres. It is probably one of those songs where soldiers kept making up humorous verses to suit the occasion. Some were quite risqué and many were in protest to the awful conditions or the behaviour of superior officers. Here is an amusing example.
By WWII the radio played an important part in keeping up the soldiers’ morale. One of the happiest songs was Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy sung by the Andrews Sisters. The Rocky Mountain Ukulele Orchestra Trio did a lively version with nice harmonies in 2013.
During the Vietnam War there were many great songs written about war. One that captures the mood of the 60s is Eve of Destruction, performed by Barry McGuire in 1965. Sadly the words are still relevant today. Ken Middleton did a terrific version at Martha’s Vineyard Uke Fest in 2015.
There are many war songs from different periods to choose from if you want to have a sing-along on Anzac Day and this is just a selection.
Happy Anzac Day!
Kat, Bayside Ukes Member
The Ukulele Death Squad show their musical versatility performing a rip-roaring song with ukuleles, fiddle and flute. The festival crowd really seem to be enjoying themselves as they dance and sing along to the music.
Melbourne’s wonderful David Bowie Ukulele Tribute Band, The Thin White Ukes performed at the recent Port Fairy Folk Festival and have featured in a story on the ABC News with a great video of them doing Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes live. Here is the link.
A lot of beginners have trouble playing the E chord. Manitoba Hal Brolund shows the many ways to play this chord in his helpful video.