Sunday, 27 December 2009

End of year edition

Here we go again, eh?
Another 12 months in my life and the history of this blog, we've travelled through the highs and lows.

For instance music lovers have been treated to some great limited edition re-issues from MoFi and Audio Fidelity taking in artists such as The Cars, The Band, Rod Stewart and Joe Walsh etc.
On the other hand the AF issue of the Pretenders first album was a mess and that was even admitted by the Mastering Engineer responsible!!!
Apple/Capitol-EMI came up trumps in September with their stereo AND mono re-mastered Beatles albums exceeding all expectations for sound quality and packaging. Full review in September's 2009 entries here.
Also EMI made a great start on the Duran Duran deluxe re-masters starting with Rio - reviewed on the blog - and are scheduled to issue S/T and Seven and the Ragged Tiger on March 15 restoring never before available on cd material to the catalogue even adding valuable DVD's too.
'Bones' loved them all. (shh!)
Some great anime sets were issued last year such as Pretear, Spiral, Moon Phase and Clannad.
We were cordially invited to indulge at the Ouran High School Host Club where all 26 episodes were issued in two sets at a discounted price in a move that helped to keep piracy under control.
Crunchyroll having gotten legit on the internet streaming side got better with exciting titles like K-On! and Skip Beat and expanded the Asian Drama collection. They even made a start on J-Rock! Princess Nisa kept us entertained at the 'Weird Person" CR group too.
I got many otherwise unavailable in the West anime titles from these guys dvdanime Home Page who had all 51 episodes of series 1 & 2 of Shuga Chara as well as series 1&2 of Vampire Knight.
Amazon helped too with getting a DVD player that could be made to play 'all regions' and it was easy to order stuff from the States where the local distributor here hadn't gotten a license.
NEO never had a less than essential issue with loads of well written features on anime/manga and J Life.
UK television became multichannel as default as more areas include mine went digital only but the amount of anime shown dropped . We even lost the Anime Network on satellite so we are dependent on online streaming that brings issues of regional licensing/lock outs very much to the fore.
Personally Dani entered my life (Hello dear!) of whom it should be said is one the very few who really understand me from the inside out.
I'll stick a thank you at this point to the 'angelic place' for your support over the year, Linda at Imwan for the shoulder to cry on, the 'Skeleton crew' at CK Forum, The Crunchyroll folk and an other place for being around where a group of people tried to shut me down earlier in the year.
They didn't count on my strength with YOUR support to come back stronger than ever with this blog radically improved or stop me posting on site either!

Wishing everyone all the best for 2010

Friday, 18 December 2009

Decade Countdown

Wow! 10 more years have passed
As promised to a few friends at a certain forum here's a list of favourite albums from the naughties

Duffy - Rockferry
Corrine Bailey-Rae S/T
Supergrass - Life on other planets
Rush - Snakes and arrows
Duran Duran - Astronaut
Joss Stone - The soul sessions
Norah Jones - Never too late
Sandi Thom - Smile it confuses people
Lisa Stansfield - The moment
Beverley Knight - Affirmation

Single most significant political event:
Destruction of the Twin Towers, New York 9/11/01.
Everything changed after then.

Lonely This Christmas

This is a favourite of mine from the mid 1970's when we used to gather around the tv looking at what would be the seasonal hit of the year.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Office Dinner

I went out with colleagues this week of our Christmas lunch at the Fox and Barrel Mid Cheshire.
It is what we call a gastropub - a Public House that specializes in food.
It's quite a old building the sort you can imagine from the days of the stagecoach and so were greeted to a roaring log fire as we got our rounds in before it was time to take our places in the main eating area.
The menu had been pre-circulated with orders placed although any minor alterations like "No gravy" would be dealt with on the day.
There were options of two or three courses followed by complementary coffee served with Mince Pies. The options covered Vegan/Vegetarian food.
I opted for two courses as I tend to get a bit full otherwise.
I had roast Cheshire Turkey, served with Roast Potatoes, Parsnips and Carrots. I added cranberry sauce something I have recently grown to like and gravy.
For the dessert I had a Chocolate Orange pudding served with Ice Cream.
It was really enjoyable - everything was served on time at the right temperature plus I was also presented with a certificate for my five years with the organization.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Hitch-Hikers Guide To The Galaxy (DVD)

Now this sure brings back memories at back in the Winter of 1981 this tv adaptation of the Douglas Adams novels that had become an acclaimed radio series was put out by the BBC.
Back the we only had three tv channels!!!!
It was at the cutting edge the of robotics with Zaphod Beeblebrox's heads.
To summarize Arthur Dent (an ape-descendant whose anger at the apparently inexplicable destruction of his home planet Earth, situated in an obscure corner of the outer spiral arm of the galaxy, is expressed in frequent irritation at friendly automatic doors and vending machines) is joined by travelling companions, Ford Prefect (an itinerant towel-carrying hitch-hiker originally from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse), Zaphod Beeblebrox (the notorious ex-Galactic President and patron of Eccentrica Galumbits, the triple-breasted whore of Eroticon Six) and Marvin the Paranoid Android (who's still suffering from that terrible pain in all the diodes down his left side).
While some aspects may not work quite as well as the radio series it has a certain charm about it and the comparatively low budget effects help to keep your attention on the story allowing some classic one liners to hit you.

This is the 2002 BBC DVD PAL R2/4 box set with a extras disc.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Tsubasa Reservior Chronicles

I bought this 6 dvd set that includes all twenty-six episodes of the first season the `Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle' anime a while back but - as ever - have only just gotten around to opening it!

The series follows Sakura and Syaoran as they search for Sakura's memories which have been scattered across numerous parallel worlds in the form of feathers. Joining them on their journey are the warrior Kurogane, the mage Fai, or Fye, together with magical ball of fluff Mokona.
Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle's is highly enjoyable anime series that has some nice characters and an interesting plot. Regarding the English dub it is relatively good and the soundtrack is beautiful. The series does have a brief crossover with `xxxHolic', which was nice, and it is just a sad that the `xxxHolic' anime didn't follow suit.

Clamp fans will recognize Syaoran and Sakura from Cardcaptors (Disc three has the story of their childhood past) and indeed some might suggest this is a more shonen take on that story but whilst there is some truth in it this goes deeper into the characters.

Highly recommended

Here's a nice picture with Fai, Kurogane, Syaroan and Sakura from this CLAMP series

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Yes 90125

Recently Audio Fidelity released this remastered version of the 1983 Yes album 90125 so called after the original lp catalogue number.
It's a enjoyable album in the Yes collection featuring the hits Owner Of A Lonely Heart and Leave It rather than a must have so I thought I'd get this edition to see what the fuss was about.
The main difference between this and the original is the album is badly engineered with different tonal balances on each of the many tracks before mixdown and so an attempt was made to give it more gloss. Also it lacked punchiness so the difference between the loud and quiet parts was reduced and some extra bass added.
In it's own way this stripped down version works giving a bigger soundstage at times but it's not for everyone apart from the error of not having the fade in on Cinema.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Olympus OM4

This wasn't a good week for me.
Firstly the wet stormy weather lead to traffic delays getting into work so being late and I almost lost my hat when it blow into the road!
If that wasn't enough my analogue camera died!
Which leads us to this post.

Because my camera is in reality a body to which you attach separate lenses then it was more a case of getting a replacement body which wasn't going to be 'new' as well if ya hadn't noticed there are very few 35mm film cameras of any description made even though you can still get and have processed your film including having them digitized on a CD-rom ready to upload for websites and that.
As I use Olympus lens that only fit Olympus OM series camera bodies that narrowed the choice down a bit.
For the more photographically minded, I use Olympus fixed focal length lens for their high fine detail resolving properties rather than zoom lens in conjunction with a Tamron 90mm Macro lens that lets you photograph things like models at up to half-life sized (1:2) ratio.
In the end I got this:

It's a simple to use professional SLR with a top shutter speed of 1/2000 sec with a very elaborate built in spot meter you can use when taking a light reading from the main area of picture is likely to make it too dark or light.
You just point the camera so the spot area is over what you want it to expose right and it does it for you. It can add a number of such readings together for really tricky lighting.
There's even a button for making anything black jet black and whites Persil white too!!!

Best of all having cancelled that it goes back to regular centre-weighted metering which while as old as the hills is very easy to use and predict how your photo will come out.
That photo is of my actual body and you'll see it looks almost new with hardly a mark on it only just a few on the battery holder where you use a coin to change them. For the more knowledgeable of you it has the famed 'later circuits' fitted to reduce the amount of current drained while it's not taking pictures, something the first versions had a minor problem with.
I'm looking forward to using it.

Friday, 13 November 2009

November Anime Roundup

Well Crunchyroll people did you seriously think I'd stopped buying and for that matter viewing anime off site?

For one thing spotting a NEO article that referenced the 1998 girls baseball anime Princess Nine I managed to track down the complete R1 DVD out of print  series for about $15!

And finally those nice folk at MVM issued Slayers Try 3 this week for R2 Pal (UK and Europe).
If you hadn't all spotted my clue November 5th saw this months NEO magazine come out strongly recommended for manga, anime, Asian film and all things Far Eastern fans.

In other news I finally finished watching Chobits

Sunday, 1 November 2009


Yes at last here is my post about this much anticipated Studio Ghilbi movie Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea.
Unfortunately for those of us living in the UK Optimum Asia the UK distributor, isn't showing the theatrical release until February 12 2010 so the DVD/Blue Ray won't be out before then at least.
Of course as we're in 2009 not 1989 this doesn't mean we can't get to see it as having been shown in the Spring in Japan followed by Summer for North America - with Disney 'English' dub - the DVD and Blue Rays are out in East Asia already.
CD Japan and HMV Japan stocks the DVD (R2 NTSC) which will play native in European Players as it's the same region and most modern tv's handle PAL as well as NTSC while for North America it's not that hard to 'hack' your DVD player to play all regions! It took a minute to do mine!
From Hong Kong you can get the R3 DVD in NTSC and I got to see it.
Buying Asian means we lose the English dub but unless you've very young children it's really no loss and frankly I prefer to hear the original Japanese cast dialog with their intonations intact.

Pictured above is the two dvd edition issued June 7th 2010 in the UK which I own.

Let me start by saying it's very much a children's story with a good heart about acceptance of people for who and what they are are.
The animation is well up to Hayao Mayazaki's excellent standards being well drawn not being upon effects adding to the spoken narration.
I'd give this 9 out 10 as really enjoyed it.

Plot outline:
The plot centres on a fish-girl who lives in an aquarium in her father's underwater castle with numerous smaller sisters. When her father takes her and her siblings on an outing in his four-flippered submarine, she is driven by a desire to see even more of the world and swims away. She ends up stranded on the shore of a small fishing town, and is rescued by a boy named Sosuke. After taking a great liking to her, Sosuke names her Ponyo and promises to protect her forever.
Meanwhile, her father, Fujimoto, is looking for his daughter, upset that she ran away and believes the humans kidnapped her. He calls his wave spirits to return Ponyo to him. Sosuke is heartbroken by this, and goes home with his mother, Lisa (or "Risa" in some translations), who tries to cheer him up, but to no avail. Ponyo and her father have a confrontation, where Ponyo refuses to let her father call her "Brunhilda". She declares her name to be Ponyo, and voices her desire to become human because she has started to fall in love with Sosuke. Her father silences her with difficulty and goes to summon Ponyo's mother.
Meanwhile, Ponyo, with the help of her sisters, breaks away from her father, and uses his magic to make herself human. This causes an imbalance in the world, which in turn results in a huge storm. Riding on the waves of the storm, Ponyo goes back to visit Sosuke. Lisa, Sosuke, and Ponyo stay the night at Sosuke's house, hoping the storm will be over, whereupon Lisa leaves the house to check up on the residents of the nursing home where she works.
Granmamare, Ponyo's mother, arrives at Fujimoto's submarine. Fujimoto notices the moon has come out of its orbit and the satellites are falling like shooting stars. Granmamare declares that if Sosuke can pass a test, Ponyo can live as a human and the world order will be restored. If he fails, Ponyo will turn into sea foam.
Sosuke and Ponyo wake up to find that most of the land around where the house has been covered by the ocean.
Lisa has not retured home yet, so with the help of Ponyo's magic, they make Sosuke's toy boat life-size and set out to find Lisa. While travelling they see ancient extinct fish swimming, such as the Gogonasus and Licosus. After landing and finding Lisa's empty car, Ponyo and Sosuke go through a tunnel. There Ponyo loses her human form and resumes the form of a fish. Sosuke and Ponyo are taken by Fujimoto into the ocean and down to the protected nursing home where they're reunited with Lisa and meet Granmamare, both of whom had just had a long private conversation.
Granmamare asks Sosuke if he can love Ponyo even if she is a fish or human. Sosuke replies that he "loves all the Ponyos".
Granmamare then allows Ponyo to become human once Ponyo kisses Sosuke on the surface. The film ends with Ponyo jumping up and kissing Sosuke, turning while still in the air into a little girl.

Aww. That was cute!

The UK DVD comes out July 8th 2010 and I hope to get a copy.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

An American Tale

Following on from the last entry, I replaced my VHS tapes of Steve Spielberg's An American Tale series with the double pack 2 DVD sets. I have felt for along while this series starting from the mid 80's was well animated with a good storyline running through it

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Watership Down.

I recently replaced my ancient VHS tape of this by the DVD that has a making of featurette.
If you never read the novel by Richard Adams it is based upon it about a warren belonging to a community of rabbits is threatened, a brave group led by Fiver, Bigwig, Blackberry and Hazel leaving their homeland in a search of a safe new haven.
Although the animation as befits something getting on for 30 odd years is a little dated it is marvellous drawn at rabbit level.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Fall 2009

Being the fall, I recently went on a walk and took this photo of the nearby Inland Waterway and thought I'd share it here.I rested the camera on the nearby bridge to keep the camera shake down.

Here the berries are out ready for the birds and Mr Nutkins when he comes on over from the woodlands nearby.

It's that time of year again and I can't resist berries!
It's nice to relax out of doors after overdosing on those MopTops.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Slayers Try!

Another month a set of re-issues by those awfully nice folks at MVM as they tackle the entire Slayers franchise.
Volume One of this the third series came out in September and Two came out on October 5th.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Get The Knack!

Well did you get it? The Knack that is.
There was a time in the late 70's when they were 'IT'.
Brash with catchy Power Pop possessed of the catchy but sexist lyric where would we be without Good Girls Don't, Frustrated, It's You, Baby Talks Dirty and My Sharona?
Well I fell under their spell in 79/80, bought the 45's have the albums on cassette, 8 track and vinyl but this a UK cd on BGO - catalogue number BGOCD 248 - is the best of the lot sounding very free.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Heart Private Audition/Passionworks cd

Heart were a female fronted rock band I grew up with during the mid 70's and early 1980's whose music was on the radio and to which I had on tapes  so hearing these albums and songs literally takes me back to that time which was one reason I bought this.
This much needed re-issue of the long deleted Private Audition album came out recently on BGO Records in England and includes on a separate cd the Passionworks album from 1983. It was mastered for this issue at Sound Performance by Andrew Thompson who does a great job in helpinng it to sound the best it can.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Duran Duran Rio

Rio has been a part of my life ever since May of 1982 owning it on UK record, cassette, US cassette and 8 track plus a couple of European cds so you could say it's a obsession of mine.
We lived and breathed this album and the band back in high school catching them on Top of the Pops taking in a episode of Fame afterwards, talking about it the next day and spending the weekend spending our allowances on magazines and pictures. Come Monday morning we were exchanging the gossip!
Let's start off by saying thanks to the people responsible for the packaging. If you want people to buy physical product it makes sense to major on it and they've done that here.
It comes in the form of a book with textured card, many photographs complete with a excellent essay by Daryll Easlea who writes for Blues & Soul and Record Collector magazine setting the context of the album with accounts from band members about the making of it.
The two discs are in packets at the front and back. If you're not going to store them separately it makes sense to line with mylar sleeves as they come without any!
To the music. The standard cd version of Rio was 'band approved' in 1985 and roughly follows the UK mixes but with a few changes here and there having had two worldwide masterings (1985 and the 2001 ECD remaster).
This release marks the debut of the full UK album master and was freshly transferred at Abbey Road this year with full mastering credits to Steve Rooke.
Abbey Road has gotten a rough press in the recent past but like with those MopTops discs I was pleasantly surprised by this one.
If you're the kind of person who likes a full sound that allows the vocals to come through not so keen on the boom and tizz (smiley face) sound you'll love this.
I was able to play this quite loud without getting the urge to turn it down. When looking at the peak meters while dubbing to MD, I noticed there was quite a bit more movement in the peaks throughout the program than many contemporary releases. This hasn't been brickwalled.
I was not a fan of the ECD remaster finding it a bit bright and of two other pressings on CD I have I usually play the WG PolyGram for EMI European as it's easier on the ear.
It also was the first Cd I ever brought!

Tracks 10-14 (the Kershenbaum US album mixes) sounded as good as you can expect - on vinyl they never sounded great and compared favourably with my XDR cassette of the US album with the obvious benefits of the cd medium at the frequency extremes. A good job was made of transferring the program and I'm sure this will be appreciated by those brought up on this radically different version of Rio.
Disc two is interesting and here I will say to my ears the non album singles and extended versions do sound appreciably better than transfers for the 81-85 Singles box. Like An Angel has always been a favourite of mine and here it sounds less 'loud'.

Overall I'd say it doesn't replace the 'regular' cd version of Rio - I wouldn't bin that - but is well worth getting either for the bonus tracks or for anyone wishing to explore this album for the first time. It was certainly a great modern mastering.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Violin recording favourites featuring My recordings by Anne Sophie Mutter

It may surprise some folk but I do really love the sound of bowed catgut.
It many of the schools I attended we did listen to a lot of non electrical instruments both as recordings and also in live performances and by the age of 8 I'd gotten the catgut music bug having fallen in love with the solo violin part of Scheherazade and even bought a record of it with my allowance. I feel there is something very emotionally compelling in the way it is played that really tugs at your heart strings.

I had a home made stereo record player that while being not as good as my current stereo equipment did enable me to hear the notes reasonable well.
I like the Philharmonia Orchestra recording on Classics for Pleasure (EMI) with Hugh Bean on violin from the early 1960's for the playing and how the orchestral sound isn't manipulated which means it's sounds like you're sat about a third of the way of the front stalls.

If there is one contemporary violinist whose work I follow with interest, it is the German Annie-Sophie Mutter who I first encountered in the early 1980's and to whom I own a good many recordings of including her new recording of the Brahms Violin Sonatas.
I've always had a soft spot for this German female violinist and here is a list of her records that i own and to which I'll add to in time:

The Great Concertos Various 1986 DG box
(Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Bruch,Brahms)
Bach Violin Concertos EMI
Beethoven: Triple Concerto DG 1980 (1985 CD)
Berg Violin Concerto DG
Brahms Violin and Double Concerto DG (82/3)
Mozart Violin Concertos 3&5 (1978) DG
Vivaldi The Four Seasons 

Tchaikovsky Violin Concertos DG

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Introducing the Philips 3310/05

Just bought this DVD player from Philips for my Hi-Vi requirements that can be made multi-regional at the press of a few buttons on the handset.
1. Open the tray
2. Press "9879", followed by the desired region code ("0" for all regions/region-free/multi-region)
3. Press "OK"
It has progressive scan on the component outputs and a co-axial audio digital output for PCM or multichannel usage.The images are pin sharp with finely detailed colours.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Cardcaptor Sakura

I am currently enjoying this anime first show in a heavily westernized from as Cardcaptors on Children's ITV in 2002.
Sakura Kinomoto was an ordinary 4th grader until the day she opened a strange book and let dozens of powerful magic cards loose on the world. Keroberos, the Guardian of the Clow Cards, informs Sakura that it is now her responsibility to find and capture the freed cards. However, much to the reluctant Sakura's dismay, things aren't going to be easy for her; simply saying magic words and waving her wand around isn't good enough. Each card is a living, thinking, extremely powerful being. She'll have to learn to cope with her new responsibilities, as well as ordinary troubles like love, school, family, and friends. With the support of her friend Tomoyo and a young boy with powers of his own, she must learn how to use her newly awakened magical abilities to collect each card and prevent the disaster that will befall the world if she doesn't.

I was able to get this pack of two DVD's from Taiwan that has all 70 episodes on a total of 8 discs packaged in a fold out book manner with protective slip case. Although it has 8 or 9 episodes per disc the coding quality is actually very good - a par with many digital TV services - and has a excellent menu structure.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

At last here they are the Beatles re-mastered!

Finally after 22 years they are here.
I bought that Beatles in Mono box pictured above - the best part of GBP 199.98 - because it seemed to the only box of the two (there was a Stereo Box) that offered anything really essential and not otherwise available.

To start with the cds are all mono - the way many in the 1960's first heard them - and also the priority for mixing the separate tracks together by the record studios as most people bought mono records back then. Often the stereo versions had much less time spent on them so bits of the original mono mix just didn't make it into the stereo.
Most of these have been unavailable since the early 1980's (and then for a very limited time).

Then there's the packaging.
These cds have all been made in Japan with what is called a 'mini lp' form. That's to say they are made to resemble a miniature lp record sleeve using high quality card reproducing exactly the front and rear covers of the originals. There are replica inner sleeves with the designs used for each lp with the actual cd in a mylar wallet to keep it from getting scratched.
The individual cds have original period Parlophone, Capitol and Apple label designs featured for the centre labels of the lps.
The whole cd is then packed in archive quality acid free resealable see through envelope to protect it.

The box has been carefully designed to store the discs with a slide in disc storage compartment to make getting them out to play easy.

The Discs:
Please Please Me
With The Beatles
A Hard Day's Night
Beatles For Sale
Help! *
Rubber Soul *
Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
Magical Mystery Tour
The Beatles (Also known as the "White Album" )
Mono Masters - a compilation of singles and EP tracks issued in mono that were not on any UK studio album.

* = These have the original stereo versions also on the same disc NOT the remixes done for cd.
The transfer to cd is extremely good - something that was a problem with the original cds issued in 1987.

Stereo cds:
I mentioned the stereo box earlier on but all that gave you was a box and a DVD of mini Documentaries than were added on the CD's to play on your computer.
As it was cheaper to buy the discs separately I passed on that.
I bought the following titles
Please Please Me
With The Beatles

A Hard Day's Night
Beatles For Sale
Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heats Club Band
Magical Mystery Tour
The Beatles (aka "White Album")
Abbey Road
Let It Be
Past Masters - a compilation of mainly stereo mixes of tracks issued on 45's and EP's that didn't make the UK studio albums

The sound on these discs are much better than the previous (1987/8) editions with greater presence and low bass. This is help me renew my appreciation of John, Paul,George and Ringo.

These come in a folding cardboard package with a booklet about the album and pictures Unfortunately the discs aren't protected from the cardboard (grrr) but you can put them in mylar rounded bottom sleeves as they will fit in the slots where the discs are meant to go.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Wild flowers

I quite like looking at wild flowers and here's one I saw recently.

Monday, 24 August 2009

My Duran Duran DVD collection

Having seen my Duran Duran videotape collection here are the DVD's:
The first two exist for a reason, mainly that my precious Betamax originals taped on December 25 and 27th 1984 off air and the transferred on to VHS in the mid 80's died!

This has the whole of Arena - the Sci-Fi DD concert movie- plus the making of and is in 5.1 surround sound. This is PAL colour only.

Now this was the behind the scenes footage shot by Zenith Media for Central television in the English Midlands shown December 25th 1984. It is in a limited edition felt covered box with postcards and again is only in PAL colour.

This I believe was filmed by TDV and I'm not sure if it was previously issued on video but came out last week on Region 0 (zero) NTSC colour so will play in North America as well as Europe.
It's the Hammersmith Odeon, London concert from November 1982 and as a bonus has all the Rio era videos plus two UK Top of the Pops TV appearances.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Oh yes they're coming.....Fab news!!!!!

20 days to go and this is how the stereo discs will look. Notice the period label designs replicating that of the original records.
I have heard samples of the re-mastering for these albums and I have to say I am extremely impressed with the tonality - some might prefer slightly flatter treble - with very little signs of the misuse of noise reduction. Heck you can hear the tape hiss on When I'm Sixty-Four plus the bass on Come Together is incredible. The star of the re-mastering is in the presence region:frankly I have never heard it so clear almost as if you're in the session hearing John and Paul.
As for limiting if there is any, it is very little and seems to have been applied on a track by track basis so this is no 'horror story' unlike many modern re-mastering jobs that just have two volume settings - loud and off.
Whilst this project may not be what some might wish for one thing is plain, these compact discs are a genuine improvement on the originals from 1987/8 and are worth picking up come September 9th.

Past Masters: A while back I mentioned we were going to get the stereo From Me To You we used to have on lp and tape plus Thank You girl minus the echo on the Capitol record Second Album this time around.
Well I can confirm the German Language She Loves You and I Want To Hold Your Hand will be stereo too just as they were on the Capitol Something New and Rarities albums rather than the almost mono versions used back in 1988. Plus they've re-done the edits on She Loves You and cleaned up the transfer from 45 rpm record of the original single version of Love Me Do.

Friday, 14 August 2009


I was very fortunate to get the very recently released DVD of this acclaimed series that has only recently been show in Japan.

s story revolves around four Japanese high school girls who join their school's light music club to try to save it from being abolished. However, they are the only members of the club, and at first Yui Hirasawa has no experience of playing or reading music. Eventually, she learns how to be an excellent player of the guitar. The rest of the club helps her to buy a guitar, and they perform at the school festival. As you see from the above picture, this DVD has a extra - a attached CD of music from the series.

Main Characters:

Yui Hirasawa -Pictured above,A first year high school student, she plays a Les Gibson Heritage Cherry Sunburst electric guitar as well as being a vocalist for the group. Although when recruited she felt it was easy as she'd be playing the castanets but the group feels different! She is said to have perfect pitch but is known to forget lyrics in mid flow a symptom of her inability to concentrate on more than one thing at once!
Ritsu Tainaka: Drummer of the group
and President of the Light Music club
Mio Akiyama: Shy left handed Bass Guitarist
who while being a 'straight A's student can't handle macabre story telling. She is a friend of Ritsu.
Tsumugi Kotobuki: Keyboard player. a wealthy girl with a gentle and sweet personality she had been taking piano lessons from age 4 and won many piano contests.
Azusa Nakano: Guitarist. In same year and class as Ui, she is a self-proclaimed novice guitarist who has been playing the guitar since she was in the fourth grade. Her parents are working in a jazz band.Personality wise she's not comfortable with the socializing and cosplay aspects of the light music club.

One fan's shrine to the show!

Friday, 7 August 2009

The joys of the Summer

Taken recently from my garden I thought these flowers looked lovely.

Saturday, 1 August 2009


Sandpiper was spotted recently on one of less rainy days here in deepest Cheshire.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Aldo Nova

It was in 1982 that I first heard of this Montreal based artist through the hit singles Fantasy and Heart To Heart from his first album for Portrait/CBS. My CD is the 2004 Sony Legacy series remaster.
His was a mixture of blistering Heavy Metal coupled with catchy lyrics and the use of the synthesizer that make the sound as contemporary as A Flock of Seagulls back in the day.
He followed this up in 1983 with Subject - a futuristic album with instrumental links that featured Monkey On Your Back - a hard hitting anti heroin number (the video was strong for the day) and the guitar driven Hold Back The Night released in February 1984
The follow up Twitch from 1985 wasn't so good and he dropped out of music making for a while assisting other Canadian acts with lyrics.
I've always liked him - bought all the singles - and recently Wounded Bird (part of Sony Music) have re-issued Subject and Twitch on CD. The first two albums just fit onto a single MD at 80:36!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

July Anime Round up

Okie dokey, another month a few more episodes make their way to your ever expanding DVD collection.

First up is this Volume Three of Slayers Next that originates from 1996.
In this we treated - if that's the right word - to our heroine Lina and Amelia in cute dresses singing what is supposed to be a spell to get the Claire Bible (a book of vital spells) back. This is a sight to behold as it's well beneath her dignity!
Ad we encounter twin sisters Mimi and Nene who also badly want the Claire Bible!
The gags continue a plenty - Gourrey dressed as a girl is something else! - the Island where everyone is meant to be a Shrine Maiden is revealed to have many cross dressed males, never mind Amelia's annoying Sword of Justice fixation that drives Lina wild.
It's just one fun filled episode after another.

At long last the concluding episodes of the rather enjoyable Ghost Hunt series are here!
It's the story of Mai Taiyama's psychic powers that leads her to join the Shibuya Psychic Research team lead by Kazuya "Naru" Shibuya.
What's good about this isn't just the mystery of the hunt for peoples departed souls that are affecting others but the character development over the episodes.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Compact fashion


This is a lovely compact by The Color Institute that I own.
You can get this Argos in the UK for under £ 10 making a great starter kit to which you can add to later on.

    Set comprises the following:

    64 eye shadow pressings.

    32 lip gloss pots.

    2 face powder pressings.

    6 powder/blusher pressings.

    1 bronzer.

    3 pressed powders.

    1 shimmer.

    1 blusher brush.

    1 face sponge.

    3 sponge applicators.

    2 lip liner pencils.

    2 eye liner pencils.

    1 black mascara.

    3 brushes.

Pencil Skirt

A staple of my more formal wear is the Pencil Skirt of which this from Top Shop is good example. It is a knee length pencil skirt with back zip fastening. 75% Polyester,23% Viscose,2% Elastane.Machine washable.
Worn with a classic plain blouse, belt and tights, it has that business like feel but at the same time approachable.


Here's something I spotted at Topshop that took my fancy
It's Heart Print play suit an unusual choice of the name for a garment that otherwise comes under the heading of Tunic I feel but still.
Team with tights and a necklace it would look smart.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Susannah and Trinny time!

You've see the ladies on TV now buy Trinny and Susannah's Full Circle Skirt!
I like the way each panel gently flows with the net at the hem.
Ladies Denim Blue Full Circle Skirt. 76 polyester, 24 viscose. lining polyester. Hand wash only. Denim blue

Available at Additions

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Kiki's Delivery Service

At the instigation of a online friend from a forum I recently bought this title in the acclaimed Studio Ghibi collection.
Adapted by Hayao Miyazaki from the Japanese childrens book by Eiko Kadono, it is about Kiki - a thirteen-year-old witch, and daughter of a witch - who is eager to leave home and spend a year working away from home. Her only talent is flying on her broomstick, but she sets off with her black cat JiJi) and finds a big city by the sea that she decides to live in.
She makes a deal with the bread store owner to work for her board in store that soon transforms into a courier service delivering anything from pies to pets. In this activity she -a polite, cheerful if naive child - encounters the rudeness and spoilt behaviour of others especially of a girl of her own age.
She encounters a boy on a bicycle who becomes her friend but undergoes a crisis of confidence losing her ability to fly. Only by looking into herself can she regains her abilities saving the boy from a Zeppelin flight that goes disastrously wrong.
What I liked about was the attention to detail in the drawings coupled with the message of triumph over adversity it presents.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

The Undertones!

Recently Salvo Records a small independent company re-issued these two albums plus a Anthology appropriately titled The Undertones Anthology.
The Undertones were formed in Derry (or Londonderry) in the mid 1970's and came to prominence through the release on the Good Vibrations label of the Teenage Kicks EP which was picked up by the late John Peel for his BBC radio show.
This was followed by a contract with Sire Records of America home of the Talking Heads and the Ramones new wave bands.
Following the signing the single Get Over You was issued followed by Here Comes The Summer and an album prepared "The Undertones" which in its original form had 14 short tracks clocking in at under 30 minutes being everything a 'punk' album should be -full of short snappy songs with attitude.
It was issued in the Late Spring of 1979 selling very well.
This was repackaged in a new sleeve in the light of the bands increased success on the charts adding the singles to the line up but this altered the whole feel of the album.
This re-issue sets it right by keeping to the original version but tagging on no less than 21 bonus tracks and a video!
It remains a classic British album from the New wave era.
Its follow up Hypnotised released in the summer of 1980 keeps much of the feel but sees the band experimenting more with the likes of the plaintive Wednesday Week a number 11 single as well as being the home to the gem that is My Perfect Cousin referencing Subbuteo (a table top soccer game) and the New Romantic group the Human League!
Like the first album this re-issue sees bonus tracks 6 plus the video of My Perfect Cousin added to the end of the disc.
Mastering generally very good keeping the quiet and loud parts as they should be but with just a couple of tracks sounding a little brighter than the original vinyl issues.
Recommended for all who lived through the era and anyone who loves pop-punk.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya & Manga update

Well this was going to happen sooner but I got waylaid so here goes...

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.

I wanted this so much when it came out around November time last year but if ya hadn't noticed there's a recession on and one consequence of this was threat Beez's UK distributor went into receivership but I managed to get this reissue.

The story revolves around Haruhi Suzumiya, a high school girl obsessed with finding all forms of the extraordinary and supernatural, and Kyon, a cynical classmate who proclaims his non-belief in such matters and narrates the series. After being displeased with the mundane happenings at school and the lack of interesting after-school clubs, she forms her own, the SOS Brigade, to investigate any mysterious happenings, with Kyon forcibly drafted as its second member.

She drafts in additional members into the SOS club and in time they are revealed to be the extraordinary characters she is seeking (Yuki, an artificial human created by the extraterrestrial Integrated Data Entity; Mikuru, Time Traveller; and Itsuki, esper), sent by their various organizations to observe Haruhi. All see Haruhi as possessing a superhuman control over the universe, capable even of recreating the entire universe in a state of dissatisfaction and attempt to prevent this by keeping her entertained, holding her powers in check, and maintaining the illusion of a normal life.

The series became an Internet phenomenon and in the absence had to make do with a subbed import with so-so quality but have now gotten the UK R2 Re-issue 4 dvd set

Also on June 8th Slayers Next Vol 2 DVD arrived here - you wouldn't believe the trouble wanting Dragon dishes can cause! - and that was fun to watch.

I am presently reading Otomen 1 by Aya Kanno
The plot revolves around a conundrum.
Asuka Masamune loves girly things such as knitting, sewing making cute animals and reading shojo comics. Ryo Miyakozuka can't sow or bake cakes but is draw to Asuka!
Asuka inhabiting a world that calls upon boys such as him to act manly must hide his real identity in order to play the Jock which is what attracts Ryo as a girl.
Can they ever get it together? What really happened to Askura's father???
In many respects it's a story about sexual politics in Japan, the function of sexual identities in society and how that applies to those who don't fit in them.

I quite like shojo beats' titles and this published by Viz in the States is a great thought provoking manga.