Friday, 1 June 2018

Virtual Views of Colombo, Sri Lanka

This post is about my hometown Colombo, Sri Lanka which I love. I’m giving virtual views of
Colombo embedded via Google Street View. This is the second blog post of mine featuring Sri
Lankan Google Street Views. The previous post I wrote about the subject was “Showcasing Sri
Lanka from Google Street View”. In the Google Street View embeds, you have the ability to explore it
in this post. If any of the embedded content doesn’t load, you can click the “View on Google Maps”
button which will open it in a new window in a larger size. Let’s start.

Here’s a view of the road W.A.D. Ramanayake Mawatha.

Here’s a green area in Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte.

On a bridge in Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte.

Here’s another picture of a bridge and a lake. This time it’s in reverse to what was shown previously.
The previous image was taken from the bridge where the bridge was the main focus and the lake
being secondary. This image has the lake Beira Lake being the main focus and the bridge being
secondary. This bridge is a pedestrian bridge unlike the previous bridge.  

The very green Viharamahadevi Park.

This is the Lipton Circus roundabout with the ODEL logo as that business is in this area.

The road Police Park Avenue which offers a good Sri Lankan design.

Here’s the well known road Horton Place.

An interesting building on Marine Drive.

Bellanwila Park in Boralesgamuwa.

A view of Vidya Mawatha.

The approximately 20 metre wide road Elvitigala Mawatha.

Here’s MillenniumIT’s (a Sri Lankan based international IT company) Colombo office.

Here’s Lotus Road.

An interesting building.

The Hyde Park Grounds.

The road Barnes Place.

The Department of National Archives by the Torrington Walking Path.

Here’s a look at the Bambalapitiya Flats Grounds.

This is the well known road R.A. De Mel Mawatha with modern buildings on both sides.

I hope you enjoyed my selection of places in Colombo, Sri Lanka. One of the good features of
Colombo is how it mixes the contrasting elements of buildings and trees together in an identifiably
Sri Lankan way. I tried to showcase both buildings and green scenery. This is a visual reflection of
Colombo, a key city in South Asia.  

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

A Sri Lankan Classic Rock Station

As I’m from Sri Lanka and into classic rock music, I would like to see a Sri Lankan classic rock radio
station. Sri Lanka does not currently have one, but as radio stations playing retro music are popular
in Sri Lanka, I think it is a type of radio station which could work well. In this article, I’ll list my ideas
of how this Sri Lankan classic rock radio station could function. Let’s begin.

The music played would be focused on rock music from the 1970s and 1980s, as well as later work
by artists who began their careers in those periods. Here are some rock songs, some of which are
already popular in Sri Lanka which can be featured on this station:

“Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” by Jim Croce
“The Pretender” by Jackson Browne
“Hold The Line” by Toto
“What a Fool Believes” by The Doobie Brothers
“Lights” by Journey
“Lay Down Sally” by Eric Clapton
“Even Now” by Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band
“Healing Hands” by Elton John

This station would have the American influence that I like which is common among Sri Lankan radio
stations. There would be an American giving voice overs for some of the show ads and audio clips
about the station that are played between shows and during ad breaks.  

The presenters would offer their usual commentary on topics such as Sri Lankan & world affairs and
music. They would sometimes give information on what the artists featured on the station are
currently up to. They would offer interviews with important Sri Lankan personalities (including
musicians) as well as interviews with American and British rock musicians. The interviews with
western musicians would be with session musicians/sidemen (those who go on tour with or play on
recording sessions for the major acts) as well as some of the big name artists. As a Sri Lankan Bob
Seger fan, I would love to hear Bob Seger interviewed by a Sri Lankan radio station. This station
would also organise some concerts by classic rock acts in Sri Lanka.

This station would make a deal with a western company to get original recordings of songs and the
licensing rights to play it. There would be competitions to win original copies of iconic rock albums. It
could be a once a month competition. Here are some albums I really like which should be featured.
I’m listing studio albums, but greatest hits and live albums by big name acts should also be included.

“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” by Elton John
“Stranger in Town” by Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band (Note: My previous blog article was about
the album for its 40th Anniversary featuring contributions from those who worked on it)
“Toto IV” by Toto

So this is my idea of a Sri Lankan classic rock radio station. Hope you enjoyed it. If you’re someone
planning to create a new Sri Lankan radio station, I encourage you to create a Sri Lankan classic
rock radio station. It would bring diversity to the Sri Lankan radio line-up, and give a new spin on an
existing popular trend, that is the retro radio station. This type of radio station would be an
entertaining station giving a good form of English-speaking Sri Lankan culture.

Friday, 11 May 2018

The Making of Bob Seger's Stranger In Town - 40 Years On

This month marks the 40th anniversary of one of rock music’s iconic albums. The album is “Stranger
In Town” by Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band. This album was released 40 years ago on 5th May
1978. It was a huge success in the US where it got certified six times platinum 10 years ago when
the album was 30 years old. The album featured the hit songs “Old Time Rock & Roll”, “We’ve Got
Tonight”, “Hollywood Nights” and “Still The Same”. What made this album very special to me was its
strong melodies, powerful vocals by Bob Seger, the way it rocked, its very good production &
arrangements and its use of piano on all tracks giving that instrument a prominent place. I consider it
to be Bob Seger’s best album. This article is going to explore the making of the album in celebration
of its 40th anniversary featuring contributions from people who worked on it.  

I’ll start off dealing with the production of the album. The songs on this album were recorded in two
groups. One group was songs recorded with Bob’s own band the Silver Bullet Band and the other
group was songs recorded with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section (a group of session musicians
based in the town of Muscle Shoals, Alabama). The tracks on the album recorded with the Silver
Bullet Band were produced by Bob Seger & his manager Punch Andrews and the tracks recorded
with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section were produced by Bob Seger & the Muscle Shoals Rhythm

John Arrias, mixer and engineer on the album has this recollection of working on the song
“Hollywood Nights”: “One day while mixing songs at Cherokee Studios in Hollywood, Bob walked in
and said that he had sent for the Silver Bullet Band to come to the studio to record a new song he
had just written. The next day the band was in the studio, rehearsing. I was in the control room
mixing. Bob turned to me and said “Did you get that? No? Well you better get this one”. After
scrambling to set up mics and try and get a sound, I turned to the second engineer and said “Hit
Record”. The band played and I recorded the first take of “Hollywood Nights”. That was it. That’s the
take that was released. Bob then called fellow musician and member of the band Little Feat, Billy
Payne. That evening Billy came into Cherokee and put down his piano part. We mixed the song that
night, in 15 minutes.”

Bob Seger’s long-time engineer David Cole who first worked with him on the project has this to say
about Bob and his manager Punch’s collaboration as producers: “At the time, Bob’s manager,
Punch, was sharing production duties. They would often have opposing viewpoints on a song or a
take. Bob was the musician and performer and had his own vision for a recording. Punch had his
perspective as the super fan and had his own expectations. That lent itself to many “spirited
discussions”, to say the least. More than once, one of them would storm out of the control room
door.” John Arrias who shared mixing work with Bob and Punch describes the mixing process:
“Punch Andrews was the one we trusted to pick the best takes during the mixing of the album. Bob
and I would be at the console, mixing, and Punch would just stand there with his eyes closed and
grooving to the sounds. If he liked it he would turn to us and say. “That’s it”.”

David Hood, bassist of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section says the following about Bob’s production
and recording process: “Since the rhythm section was also co-producing the tracks, we spent extra
time helping Bob put the songs together. Even with that, we recorded the tracks very quickly,
sometimes five or six in a day. We would record all the songs that he had brought, then quite often
Bob would go back to Detroit and re-record the same songs with the Silver Bullet Band using the
arrangements we had worked out. Then he would pick the best version for the album. This meant
that both bands had probably played on all of the songs during the making of the album.”

Old Time Rock & Roll
The album features the hit “Old Time Rock & Roll” which ended up becoming one of Bob Seger’s
most famous songs. The song was written by George Jackson and Thomas Earl Jones. Bob re-
Roll” was recorded for our publishing company demo with the writer, George Jackson singing the
original version. George didn’t have a traditional “rock” voice so we overdubbed a young white singer
named Dennis Gulley on the track to give Bob the right idea about finishing the recording.”

Bob tried recording the song both with his band the Silver Bullet Band and with the Muscle Shoals
Rhythm Section, but it wasn’t working. Both David Hood and Forrest McDonald (guitarist on the
released version) pointed out that Bob was unable to re-create the same feel as the original demo.
As a result of this, he ended up using the demo of the song. The guitarist on the demo Forrest
McDonald who was not a member of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, describes his participation
in the song: “In the late 1970s, a young man, originally from Austin, Texas, walked into Muscle
Shoals Sound Studio and told president/producer/engineer Jimmy Johnson that he was a guitar
player and wanted to play on sessions. Johnson, on a lark, told him to go out to his car (in which his
father, a University of Alabama constitutional scholar, and his stepmother sat in the heat without an
air conditioner), get his guitar and show what he could do. At the time, Johnson was cutting a demo
of George Jackson’s “Old Time Rock and Roll” and allowed the young man to sit in play fills and
even doing a guitar solo.” Forrest McDonald did not get credited for his contribution to the song until
its release on the successful 1994 “Greatest Hits” compilation. He adds “The upshot was Seger
bought that demo and it was used as the master with his vocals added and released by Capitol as a
single.” A saxophone part was also overdubbed which was played by Alto Reed, saxophonist of the
Silver Bullet Band. The overdubbed parts likely weren’t recorded at Muscle Shoals as David Hood
says “We weren’t there when they recorded Bob’s voice and Alto’s sax.”

Bob Seger’s Working Approach
David Cole has the following to say about Bob Seger’s working approach, “Seger’s method of
tracking with the band was to sing along with the take, an old school approach. This would inspire
and guide the musicians but also sometimes yield an awesome vocal take. Many times, they would
pick the take based on the vocal, despite errors in the band tracks. They would do take after take,
even after they had a good one, often just to see if there was another ounce of magic to be had.
Sometimes they would do takes at a slightly different tempo or key.” John Arrias says “Bob Seger is
a true talent. One day he turned to me and said, “That’s the worst mix I have ever heard”. That’s
when I said “OK, let’s start over”. Bob is a real feel guy, he knows what he likes and it’s up to the
engineer and producer to be his tools. I totally trust him. It’s his vision.” The approach of recording
songs with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section as described by David Hood is “Bob would book the
rhythm section and the studio several weeks in advance, usually after he had written enough songs
to record for the next album. We would start around one in the afternoon, take a dinner break around
seven in the evening. My role, of course, was to play the bass guitar.”

Regarding outtakes from this album, John Arrias says “we had many outtakes. The album has the
best.” David Cole mentions the title track which ended up becoming an outtake saying “I remember
working on the song, “Stranger in Town” but that it didn’t make the cut. The A&R guy on the project,
Carter, suggested using the song name as the album title, which they did.”

Important Points
David Cole began his lifelong career with Bob Seger that continues to the present day with this
album. He says “I started at Capitol in ‘76, right out of college. I quickly found my way into the
position of assistant engineer and that’s the role I played on “Stranger in Town”. John Arrias was the
engineer, an independent who had major artist credits. My job was to support the session anyway
possible: setting up mics, plugging in outboard gear, taking food orders... “whatever it takes”. It was
an awesome experience to see a classic album made firsthand.” He adds “I was literally just
assigned to the session. From then on, they would request me for their sessions. When the first
engineer was sick one day, they asked me to take over, which I did. In time, I would do some of the
sessions without John and eventually, I became the engineer. Because of my creative contributions,
they gave me “Associate Producer” credit on the “Like a Rock” album.”

David Hood who earlier pointed out how Bob Seger recorded the same songs with both the Muscle
Shoals Rhythm Section and the Silver Bullet Band says that it was only “after the album was
released that we would know which version made it. I can remember having to read the liner notes
to know I was on the record.” John Arrias says of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section “I did not travel
with Bob to Muscle Shoals but to this day I love the recordings that came out of that great studio.
Great musicianship.” I’ll conclude with Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section bassist David Hood’s words
on working with Bob Seger: “We are very proud of the music that we made with Bob Seger and are
pleased that it still makes people happy!”

I hope you enjoyed this look into the making of “Stranger in Town”. I wish Bob Seger would record
another album like this again, that is a melodic rock album using a lot of piano. Thank you very much
to David Cole, John Arrias, Forrest McDonald and David Hood for your contributions to this article.
You provided a unique insight into the making of this album. I hope that some of the outtakes from
this album will get released for the fans to enjoy. May this album continue to connect over the next
40 years and beyond with more recognition, sales and new fans.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

The Sri Lanka I Dream of

In this article I am providing a list of good qualities I wish to see in Sri Lanka, as Sri Lanka being a
developing country unfortunately has many problems. The point of this list isn’t to be very
pessimistic, but to look forward with what could and should be the case for Sri Lanka with optimism.
Let’s begin.  

I dream of a Sri Lanka
  • Where we have a new political culture not known for bribery, corruption, nepotism, lies, etc but to serve the nation with honesty and integrity.
  • Where election related violence no longer occurs. 
  • Where we don’t have several issues of crime allowing citizens to relax for both serious and minor crimes.
  • Where the rule of law applies equally to all.
  • Where there’s a fast and efficient independent judiciary that doesn’t allow rich and/or influential people to tamper with the system.
  • Where the Government departments are fully digitised, thus giving an efficient way of operating.
  • Where citizens don’t face bribery in their dealings with the state and elsewhere.
  • Where the Government can implement projects and policies fast and effectively with most of what was promised delivered.
  • Where the attitude of doing something wrong is OK as long as you don’t get caught is replaced by a desire to do the right thing.
  • Where there aren’t serious issues regarding the cost of living.
  • Where there aren’t so many heavy protectionist taxes that cause difficulties for the citizens.
  • Where there is a balanced tax structure not focused heavily toward indirect taxes.
  • Where the average salary is significantly higher than what it currently is.
  • Where the tragic racist incidents stop occurring.
  • Where all citizens are treated equally.
  • Where our exports have been diversified into a much wider range of sectors.
  • Where we have a high flow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) coming in.  
  • Where the garbage management is effective. 
  • Where the country is clean.
  • Where the majority of citizens are law abiding.
  • Where the country is not on reactive mode (most noticeably seen regarding disasters), but on preventive mode instead.
  • Where services and support exist for people with special needs.
  • Where the road rules are enforced with the drivers obeying the rules.

I hope you enjoyed reading this list. I’m sure that others will have more issues of their own to add to

this list, so I invite others to share their own list of what they dream of for Sri Lanka. I am aware that
making these changes to Sri Lanka is a very difficult thing to do, but I’d like to point out that the
country does improve over time, comparing the country’s position with what it was ten years ago to
now. We’re in a better position now then we were then, as improvements include no longer facing a
civil war, the achievements in media freedom which include the ability to openly discuss and debate
Government policy, the Right to Information law that has been active since last year and the
improved tax structure under the new Inland Revenue Act that came into effect this month. It is likely
that improvements will continue, thus making us in a better off position ten years from now and going