Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Post Christmas edition

Well I'm feeling about talking around Christmas today.
Food is one thing I look forward to and I usually meet with family members on Christmas day for lunch as for one thing it saves cooking and for another it's a good deal more relaxing being waited upon so you're able to talk more. The Christmas pudding with Brandy sauce was nice.
Also I went to the works Christmas lunch before we broke up which this year was held near Oulton Park race track surround by the Forest which I look forward to as its a chance to speak to people I don't see too often otherwise being in the other office most days. The staff were really helpful escorting a visually impaired staff member in and finding them a spot well illuminated to eat by talking of which the food was well cooked. I don't like lukewarm carrots.
We had a quiz and my tables team won by half a point!
This christmas I had some money, a voucher for the Electronics store Maplins - whose customer service around these parts is something of a joke with staff that can't do math and so on, the latest Naruto dvd set, a new watch, a Beatle mug and lots of candy.
I've yet to go physical shopping because in my neighbourhood the public transportation is locked down until this morning when it resumes as a 'Saturday' service although I raided Amazon for some goodies like replacement cds yesterday.
My mailman has quite a backlog of stuff to get through!!!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Christmas Edition 2011

Well yes finally I've gotten around to doing this entry cos this time of year has some bad memories for me and I struggle to be motivated.
Still, not before time I've gotten all my Christmas cards written, gifts sorted and otherwise almost sorted which considering I've only bin on the case fro the last few days is a bit of a miracle. Someone was on TV yesterday saying it's all right to have an okay Christmas rather than getting caught up in delivering the most perfect one ever and it think its true. It's what you bring to the event that counts and that isn't in the shops!
Happy Christmas everyone.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Keeping the draughts out

Cold windy few days here so thoughts turned to this nice Thompson tartan scarf in 100% acrylic from BHS. A good Christmas stocking filler if ever I saw one as it would be most useful.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

RIP Suzy

My life with Caroline started in 1997 when I was found very young in her garden and she took me in. Shortly afterwards there was a big bulge in my tummy with everybody else saying it was food but she got it right . Actually I was pregnant not that I knew about safe sex and that so I gave birth to five kittens!
Caroline adopted two - Moomin and Will - and found good homes for the others not before she stopped me from having more.
I enjoyed mousing, chasing sticks and rolling about on the ground but I became unwell Saturday and I was really off Sunday.
At the Vets, Suzy was found to have a blood clot along her back,

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Peer influences

I was pondering the influence of others on what we do the other day while recovering from a periodic condition that flared up.
For instance there was a time when I'd allow what other people thought about my tastes in clothes dictate what I would choose by either colour or type - I loved knitted tank tops but my friends would say 'Nah' - and back it would to either the store or a used clothes selection.
Or someone would say "If you go there with him, I won't speak to you" and I thought this was okay at the time.
I noticed recently two little reminders of this type of thinking when reviewing my cd collection where a group of people sought to influence which copy of an album to have though peer pressure at a place where briefly I joined.
The first was the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever where I have a very nice lp copy but when in 1995 the cd was reissued onto a single disc compared to two i finally brought a copy which I thought was pretty good. This was a downfall as a lot of people there kept on saying how the older one was better with the vocals more upfront, having issues with process called UV22 used to master it to cd and I allowed them to influence me into getting this one and removing my more recent edition.
As well, I allowed them to talk me into replacing the remastered edition of Kiss's Love Gun to an West German original again because the view seemed to be the older the better.
Now as I think I wrote maybe three or four years ago because of the 'make everything darn loud' thing going on indeed some older cds are better but on these two this isn't the case.
Take Love Gun first, it has the same lack of upper high notes like on the percussion as the 1982 UK lp that I replaced in a matter of months with the US original even though I love that 'starburst' Casablanca label design so I ended rebuying the remastered copy which may be a just a tad louder but has a much fuller sound.
Saturday Night Fever was similar because although I like the emphasize on the mids, there's something quite wishy washy going on on the high notes sounding like a tape going up and down the tape heads on a tape recorder and being somewhat recessed too so I've just re-bought the 1995 edition.
I think the moral here is we own our own preferences, which isn't to say others can't offer their advice when asked, not being put off by peer pressure or the thought someone might think you're a bit funny for having your likes.
They may even be wrong.
Also we need to be on our guard for those that invade our head space making everything into it's me or him for no good reason. Boundaries exist for a good reason and they ought to be respected.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The Kinks are Well Respected Men!

Well it's almost an annual ritual here that every year as we approach the Christmas season, a expensive box set arrives for me to buy, starve the cat for a few weeks or something a bit like that and this year is no exception.
The Kinks are quite simply one of the most important British groups of the 60's who took R&B, created the heavy metal riff with You Really Got Me and pioneered social comment in popular music with albums like Face To Face as well as The Village Green Preservation Society exploring the British way of life and inspiring countless acts ever since.


















Entitled the Kinks In Mono, this set comprises of the seven UK albums of the period plus two discs of mono collectible versions plus a disc with four of their EP recordings on it, housed in a mini lp style sleeve, gatefolded with credits and fresh photographs on the inner folds.
The first three albums -Kinks, Kinda Kinks and The Kinks Kontroversy - are R&B albums with a high number of originals such as Stop Your Sobbing,Tired Of Waiting and Till The End Of The Day leading to the band being adopted by the 'Mods'.
From 1966's Face To Face onward Ray Davis's introspective song writing comes to the for with such classics as Dandy (a massive hit for Herman's Hermits in the States), Sunny Afternoon, David Watts as covered by The Jam, Death of a Clown, the impossibly perfect Waterloo Sunset, Starstruck (from Village Green Preservation Society) and Victoria from 'Arthur'.
The EP disc takes in four UK EP's (Kinksize session, Kinksize Hits, Kwyet Kinks and Dedicated Kinks) with Louie Louie, All Day and All Of The Night, A Well Respected Man, Dedicated Follower of Fashion and Set Me Free while the Mono Kollectables has singles mixes, b sides and the mono Lola and Apeman singles.
The mastering for is very good, a little louder than the early Kinks discs from mid 1980's but with plenty of contrast between the loudest and softest volumes and much improved on the 1998 re-issues with Village Green having a brand new mastering exclusive to this set.
For the money I think it's worth it, lacking a set of Kinks albums on cd.
At the bottom there are some picture one of the discs in the box and another of the book which is like the Pop Annuals Radio Luxembourg and Thank Your Lucky stars had out back then telling the Kinks story.
It's no weighty tomb of knowledge never mind a set of lyrics so you'll go whistle if that's what you want but as a slightly goofy period like introduction to the band it serves well being a fun read.



Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Winter Fashion 2011

Well after all that serious stuff a few weeks back and a musical interlude, I was considering what this post was going to be but as I'm a little cold that's kind of made it's mind up for me.
Winter you see is starting to make an appearance so for those of us brought up in cold climates thoughts turn to keeping warm and this by designer Louise Gray who lives in Hackney, London caught my eye.
She specializes in knitwear of the more traditional sort made in a textile mill in the Scottish Boarders but with a contemporary young feel.
The first item is a Beanie -very popular in the UK presently but using traditional patterns and then there's loose fitting jumper although I think the arms are a bit too long for the model.
The range also includes thick knee length socks and wrist warmers a kind of sleeve going from your wrist to your upper arms.


Wednesday, 9 November 2011

SMiLE



















Well after all the gloom of the last few weeks which is still rumbling around us, I felt like talking about something that would make some of us SMILE, Namely the fact this Beach Boys album or perhaps more accurately "The SMiLE Sessions" have after 44 years finally come out in an authorized form.
There's that much and sometimes one-sided stuff written about smile that I don't feel like going into it but in essence it was a projected follow up to the Pet Sounds album of 1966 involving collaboration between Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks dashing off fragments of music and lyric and stitching them together as a kind of audio collage a process that would involve many fragments per song.
The year 1966 it has to be remembered was one of the most important in popular music with many lyrical, musical and technological innovations all coming together revolutionizing what was thought of as low class transitory music for kids and making it into high art with such albums as Blonde on Blonde, Revolver, Paisley Sage Rosemary & Thyme and singles like Good Vibrations.
Good Vibrations really was the stating point for this album - listen closely and you'll here all the edits and overdubs - with Brian Wilson in the studio conducting session musicians making all the backing fragments ready for the beach Boys to return from touring to add their voices.
At the same time there was much interest in what was going on with even a news team filming Brian at work at Leonard Bernstein's bequest and yet these sessions never officially saw the light of day until now.
The first thing to say about the sessions and what has been issued is it's as far away from fun in the sun car and beach songs as you could ever get very few number lend themselves to the concerts you had back then with instrumentals like Holidays and even Wind Chimes as beautiful as they are to hear anew in their original form being too challenging for the concert audience of the day.
This lead to some friction between the touring band and Brian and was a bigger issue for Capitol Records who required a record to sell with potential big hits on it and Brian launched a royalties dispute with Capitol to upping the stakes.
Brian also had his demons - it's testimony to how he is today he's happy to even talk about this period - and the competition between him and the Beatles, the disagreements in the band over the session material, the fractiousness relationship with Capitol took a heavy toll on his nerviness and increasingly erratic state of mind and so the the project got put on the high shelf 90% completed with dozens of snippets left.
Parts were re-used, songs featured in other albums Surfs Up from the 1971 album of the same name, Cabin-Essense on 20/20 and re-recordings on that half hearted replacement Smily Smile like Vege-Tables and Wind Chimes and Heroes and Villains (a favourite).
I bought the two lp version with bonus tracks on side 4 because for me at least I don't have a use nay a need to be able to re-assemble any number of fragments to make my own version as Brian's version based on approximation of 2004 he did as a solo project is good enough for me.
It's also true I appreciate greatly the physical product so something as tactile as an lp sleeve with a beautiful colour art book and easy to read lyrics is appreciated and what's more this 180 gram lp pressed here in Europe sounds superb with no one click or pop.
I also find the small gap when you change discs over helps giving you time to take in the compositional delights.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

A Greek Tragedy?

Did I mention the great Euro Zone bail; out last week in passing?
Well I thought there were creaks in what had been agreed because it seemed short on firm detail such as where the much trumpeted One Trillion Euros to but aside for any contingencies not just this business with Greece going to come from as Germany had specifically refused to give a direct contribution from it's treasury for it?
Well it seems to little more than a target figure to go pay visits to countries with rich foreign reserves such as China and ask them -nay beg - for a loan.
China it seems feels the Euro Zone has to put its house in financial order and is in any event not really interested.
Yesterday though the Greek Premier announced that the people of Greece will have a referendum around January on conditions they agreed only the week before on the bail out.
Trouble is he never said this to the other European leaders present which looks very close to bad faith because it opens up the possibility that the voters may reject the deal. If he says "No I'll go with what we decided back in October" then the Greek electorate may well be very angry with him which would lead at the least to political instability.
The markets are scared, China by all accounts doesn't want to know about the bail out feeling it no longer counts for anything.
No where does leave the rest of us?

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Britain and Europe

There were potentially several things I felt like posting about this week but in the last few days it's become clear what the main topic at least will be.
The relationship between Great Britain and Europe is one that has always intrigued me from the old battles going back to the Middle Ages right up to her relationships political and otherwise today.
The observant or pernickety for that matter will pick on that phrase - One I sure use a lot "Great Britain and Europe"- and I'd hazard a guess most Brits use too because it sets out crystal clear that most see Europe as 'beyond these shores' rather than being an integral part of it.
This I would say is large bedrock of the ill kept secret of the British public general distrust for anything that is seen as telling them what to do from overseas.
The British, I feel have a very strong sense of national identity and interest seeing their history and global influence acquired through that as of supreme importance. It diplomatically speaking punches above its own weight and so takes strong exception to notions of their being a European Union Ambassador at the United Nations, of EU common diplomatic policy with embassies and departments.
It's also the case that through shared values and even history the English speaking democracies act in concert with aid programs as well as conflict resolution so understandably feel they have a lot to lose.
One reason put forward as I understand it for Britain's membership of what was the European Economic Community in 1973 was being off of the Mainland, there were more trading opportunities and so a 'common market' with the free passage of goods and labour without barriers was seen as a 'good thing'.
The way I see it is there was a opportunity cost - for that gained by access to European markets a tariff laden barrier was put up against others especially the of Commonwealth Counties most noticeably in foodstuffs that pushed up the cost of living and simultaneously required large subsidies that the UK is large provider of the funds of.
Plus other countries such as Norway managed to negotiate access to the same markets without this so I can't but wonder if perhaps given the general disinclination toward integration with mainland Europe politically, if this might of been worth exploring as a more palatable alternative.
It seems to me unfair on the existing members, for the UK have a membership with more opt outs than any other individual Country which with the move toward majority voting with no right of Veto, doesn't really sit well with it.
Which takes to that most obvious side of the EU of late the single currency - The Euro - that naturally the UK accepts but famously refused to join on the basis that "one size doesn't fit all", there were doubts of some countries even met qualifying conditions regarded by institutions here as being lax (some doubt if the figures given were even true) and to make it work the decision making powers of national treasuries and banks would have to go a central bank, The ECB.
Throw in the importance of the City of London and the realization a large chink of economic sovereignty would go, the reaction was predictable: A loud NO!
It's this currency and their inability to deal with huge pan national debt that currently occupies the thoughts of Britons this morning having contributed to loans to the IMF and others to bail out Greece and Ireland it looks likely requests will be made for more money even though the UK isn't a member of the Euro Zone and many are suffering sizable reductions in their own standards of living. If there is to be a two speed EU, the the UK may well be marginalized with major consequences on common policies.
Earlier this week a debate of sorts was held on EU membership in the lower legislature, the House of Commons and while for many contrary reasons most supported 'no change', the Government had a major party rebellion calling for a referendum on the issue.
Given the palpable hostility toward the EU in Great Britain today perhaps the only way through this is a fresh referendum on membership as one things for sure, the call is only getting louder by the day.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Go faster stripes edition


The end of the week and I'm already working on this blog? That's some improvement don't you think!
Anyway for one thing I've been signed off as competent by review and observation in a part of my work having really impressed the observer on interpersonal skills demonstrating an ability to build a excellent rapport the client and thoroughness in gathering all the information needed to do this element of our work.
The cold spell brought me thinking about comfort wear and pictured above is a a lovely polyester/cotton jumper from Moonsoon that's a good indication of what I mean and yes what I adore.
It's bright, it's the kind of thing that never really goes out of fashion which is as well as Monsoon's stuff sure isn't cheap and would match my trousers and skirts well colour-wise.
I don't really go for low necklines or 3/4 sleeves on jumpers myself and at least this is the full arm length.
P.s the Mk1 blog is no more pulled early as the traffic had stopped as I've been busy notifying all of the new version at the relevant sites so there was really no need to keep it online.


Saturday, 15 October 2011

Survival of the fittest























It's been commonly held that Graham Nash's exiting the Hollies was the step back from sophisticated pop but I'm less than convinced of it even if some of that studio trickery and backwards tapes era stopped. For one thing the unique vocal sound, a sound Terry Sylvester more than filled the missing Nash's shoes as part of, soared for much of the late sixties into the mid 70's on such classic records as The Air That I Breathe. For another sophistication lyrically wasn't a million miles removed from what Graham himself did as part of C,S,N & Young and for me nowhere is more evident than on the 1970 album Confessions of the Mind. Altered in that irritating America knows best level from this UK 13 track album to the 11 track Moving Finger it show their concern about relationships in such numbers as Little Girl dealing as it does with the impact of relationship breakdowns on children and the notion of having given something your all, in returning home, head held high for trying in Gasoline Alley Bred. Thankfully when making an excellent job of reissuing it in 1997 Sundaze reinstated the missing 2 tracks from the UK original and as with the other two discs Bob Irwin mastered it well from the UK tapes.
Catalogue number SC 6125






















Moving back a little to that mid sixties period, unfortunately there's not a really good cd of Would You Believe out there as it wasn't issued in the states as that and BGO in the UK have yet to issue the album with 8 of its songs "Beat Group" that was issued instead probably as there's not a studio album to match it up with in a 'twofer' package even though Sundaze have re-issued it in mono on lp.
That lp sounds wonderful. In the end I've decided to get the now deleted UK EMI 'ORIG' stereo&mono cd as this had less extra limiting applied to it than the later two on one by EMI in mono. This has the folk flavoured Fifi The Flea, a cover of Buddy Holly's Take Your Time, I'll Take What I Want and Hard Hard Year a song whose maturity was to show just where they were headed in a matter of months.
My modest hope is BGO will issue Beat Group on cd in mono with Imperial's 1967 release Greatest Hits and add Stewball together with I've Got A Way Of My Own as bonus tracks.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The Fall























One of the things I really enjoy doing is going for walks anywhere really from country parks to just a local section of footway or even sidewalks and in this area I'm kinda lucky to have access to open countryside.
Well the other day when I was about making my way toward the local canal (inland waterway) I cam through this area on the edge of modern housing development with an image that sums up 'The Fall' well so I grab my camera out from the jacket pocket and took this picture, with its rich colours.
There's been no manipulation applied to it with the colours being exactly as captured!

As you may of noticed as discussed last time there's been a few more alterations to this blog but we're pretty much at the end of it with adding a topic index to make it easier to find posts by subject and adding a whole batch of posts held on a previous blog.
The favourite sites has been moved to a page tab on the top left of the blog you just click on to access the links.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Hollies '67

Having completed my collection of the 2011 BGO discs my attention moved toward the last full year of the Nash era Hollies, a period of rapid change across the entire pop music scene and within the group itself.In essence Graham Nash wished for the group to expand musically and lyrically in the way such luminaries as the Byrds, Beatles and Beach Boys had upping the 'Oh Wow' feel rather than producing perfect two and half minute pop songs, feeling that with December 1966's For Certain Because album they'd shaken of the mantle of recording other peoples work.
What he could not of foreseen is the way the singles and albums buying public would divided into two camps and the attempt to main pop success by the old standard of hit singles would eventually lead to a situation that he'd leave the band as he felt increasingly he was writing songs that couldn't supply them with the hits they required.

Telling the first album Evolution, as issued in the UK had no lead single and announced to the World the Hollies had embraced psychedelia where as the issue by Epic Records who'd acquired North American rights from Imperial rejigged it to 10 tracks from 12 and made Carrie Anne a hit single the opening cut. This album and it's followup Butterfly were remastered in 1999 by Peter Mew for EMI and suffered as did the whole series from the misuse of noise reduction leaving it sounding dead and tonally grey.In the UK in 1989 BGO did issue on cd both albums in their UK form and in 1999 Sundazed did but based around their US configurations.
In the case of Evolution the tracks orphaned from the UK release are placed at end of the cd re-issue adding Open Up Your Eyes, Jennifer Eccles and Signs That Will Never Change at the end.
The Sundazed cd in STEREO SC 6122 does sound very good being mastered by Bob Irwin at Sony Music from the UK tapes.

In November 1967 the follow up album Butterfly was issued which in my opinion is a more cohesive set of tracks seeing the band sing about Astral Plains and seeing all the colours of the rainbow in Try It, invoking child like wonder on Pegasus and chord changes on Dear Eloise.
For all of that it's still a beat album by the Hollies although with the benefit of hindsight Elevation Observations amongst others sounds like a Crosby Stills and Nash song before they all hooked up.

The North American version was re-titled as Dear Eloise/King Midas In Reverse featuring these two US Singles cut to 11 tracks adding Leave Me from the UK Evolution album.
Thankfully when Sundazed re-issued it on cd as SC 6123 they reinstated the UK sequence adding the US only tracks immediately afterward and well as Do The Best You Can in stereo.
BGO issued it briefly on cd as CD BGO 79 and it's a close call between the two for sound (I just about prefer the Sundazed).
King Midas is the US mired in reverb squashed stereo where is the orchestration? version: The best sounding stereo one is on the 1991 Epic Anthology.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Staying connected

















For as long as I recall staying connected especially in cyber life has always been a tricky business as I'm sure many of you recall early cellphones were just that phones for use on the move and texting was seen as a near miraculous thing you could use to set up social meets with a written record of who was going where to met with who.
The modern smartphone does more such as offering the ability to view and listen to media and well as messaging or even Email.
As good as they are the one disadvantage is the small screen size an area Apple tackled with it's iPad silly name but essentially a biggish tablet that makes reading online media such as newspapers easier using touch screen technology and 'apps'.
These have been generally quite expensive for the facilities compared with a notebook or budget lap tops which are also kind of portable but overnight Amazon the world online supplier of books and so much more announced an number of new products such as it's latest Kindle Ebook reader.
The one 'wow' product was however the Amazon Fire a tablet a little smaller than Apple's but with a much much lower cost - $199 (UK £130) offering much of the functionality you would expect of a more expensive model.
With a 7 inch
two touch screen set in charcoal grey case it's big enough to read websites clearly at normal distances and allow easy following of chatroom sessions - something that can be hard going on a smartphone - and takes many Android apps.
Featured apps for Amazon’s Android Appstore such as Pandora, Twitter, Facebook, and, most notably, Netflix Kindle store, Amazon MP3, and Prime Instant Video. Nearly all of Amazon’s recent news, Amazon Cloud Player, Amazon Cloud Drive, Kindle Cloud Reader, the streaming deals with Fox and NBCUniversal in the states , were in preparation for the Fire.

It seems obvious Amazon are gunning for the iPad's experience although it lakes camera, mic and 3G although frankly most users would be likely to use the built in wifi for series streaming.
Personally I'm very interested having a use to read certain web sites and follow 2 hour chat sessions without wishing to fire up my main energy hungry PC and that price is a killer.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Barracuda!



Another release by Audio Fidelity another internet battle of the wills as mastering engineer Steve Hoffman who worked on this title recently gets arrowed online.
Frankly as someone who who just loves music and wants to hear it as good as possible I get sick and tired of this posturing which is why I left one site as the only thing that I'm bothered about is 'is it good' and 'is it worth my money'.
There have been many compilations by Heart issued by Epic/Sony covering the 70's and early 1980's and Capitol covering the more commercially successful period from 1985 onward but many of these coincided with the "Loudness Wars" where every new issue sounded louder and more like a wall of noise.
This disc is a remastering of a compilation put out originally in 1998 that featured one new track Strong, Strong Wind and a great selection of 16 outstanding cuts for their Epic/Portrait and Mushroom Records albums from 1976's Little Queen to 1983's Passionworks. an album reissued a few years back by England's BGO label that we talked about here.
Because of my negative experiences of albums such as Capitol's These Dreams -The Greatest Hits that only lived on my shelf for short period for the 'too loud sound' before it met the garbage can, I passed on the original and picked up the "Essential Heart" which sounds good and covers both eras instead figuring this was an album I didn't need.
This remastered version does generally speaking sounds pretty good although there are a some differences in the average levels between tracks where Mr Hoffman decided to leave alone rather than level them up, maybe adding a touch of compression too. Each to their own.
Personally I prefer this approach as it keeps the difference between the softest and loudest passages in the track intact although you may want to turn up the volume a little on the odd track.
The strong point to the sound on this release is the midband which does really enhance your appreciation of the Wilson Sisters vocal talents. This is one cd that does justice to them working well as a introduction to those early recording. For the £10 plus shipping I paid I considered it good value.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Cut some rug

You know one simple way to jazz up your living area and provide an instant conversation piece is through a Rug as not only can they help prolong the life of your carpet, many have interesting patterns.I noticed ths one at Kaleidoscope on special offer in hand crafted wool and viscose called the Oriental Blossom with delicate buds and blossom design.
Available in 60x120, 90x150,120x180 and 180x240 cm sizes.
I think it's lovely.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Candy-O

























It's been a long time in the making near enough 22 months since I ordered this cd when it's release was announced but on September 13th it finally comes out on gold mini lp style cd and 180 gram vinyl. I first remember buying this in 1979 being mightily impressed with the debut album released June 1978 and it's clutch of singles that charted well in the UK. The lead off single on this album was Let's Go a perky little 'new wave' number with It's all I Can Do being the second going from memory. I really like Mobile Fidelity, the Chicago based re-issue labels work which frequently sounds much better than the regular cd or lp issues and am really looking forward to hearing this remastered. In case any doesn't know the model in the body stocking is Candy Moore.The new issue to me has judged the sound of the percussion about right as one of the signature sounds of producer Roy Thomas Baker's work is the forward highly miked drum sound that is hard to pull off without sounding harsh .
The original cd a red coloured top one from the early 80's was generally a very pleasant sounding one easily one the best Cars cds of the time but suffered from quite a lot of his and also has a haze over the upper treble suggesting to me this was a few generations removed from the original master tape. In 1999 Joe Gaswirt remastered the first three albums using HDCD encoding in the United States and these were not made available in Europe.I like Joe's work a lot but while it's plain he had better tapes, his version of Candy-O sounds harsh with a funny splashiness effecting the percussion a lot so wasn't as enjoyable as it should of been even though the 'attack' was better.
I'd say this new version marries the better tapes and attack of the HDCD issue with the better rendering of the drums as well as that general listenable nature and certainly is the best cd version I've ever heard.
Strongly recommended.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Home Sweet Home edition

It's rare for me to say much about interior decor probably spending my formative years more on a make do and mend approach as we weren't made of money but one of things I always used to look forward to was jazzing cushions with newer covers and that was one of my 'chores' on a Sunday as a child. The results just seemed magical. Anyway here's some charming Champagne coloured cushion covers in a design called 'Lucia' that I like and are available from Debenhams.




Thursday, 1 September 2011

September musings

Wow! A warm dry late Summers day here that I spend a fair bit of my time out doors in due to my rotten internet service provider breaking up the broadband every 10 to 15 minutes and having momentary drop outs at all other times. England I'm sure must be home to some of the worst connections anywhere in the Western world so on top of everything else it sure doesn't surprise me some many do emigrate as the infrastructure is just so lousy here.

The major telephone provider is meant to moving toward high speed fibre broadband installation but I'll believe that'll come here when I see it!



You know I talked about the moral panic a few weeks back well we're at the start of another revolving around the case of an 16 year old boy who while left for a week to look after a four year old girl while his parents went away decide whilst leaving the four year old to her own devices to commit a bit of crime.

People are calling for the laws around the age children can be left on the own to changed and also the ages when older children can be left to look after younger siblings.

I really cannot understand this as the main thing is the person who is meant to look after the younger child has to be said to be mature (however we define that) which varies from child to child as well as tossing in the observation that in my experience some adults are insufficiently mature to be around children although they may give birth to them!

The benchmark is usually around from the age of 13 subject to your own assessment of your child which seems reasonable to me having looked after my older brother for periods when my folks weren't in.

This takes us to the universal requirement of children needing experience of handling responsibilities for themselves ready for when they become adults which as the adults we have to provide as we won't be around forever!!


Clearly this child has to reminded of the responsibility he undertook and how he let down his family, placing his young sibling in danger but I see little good from a Social Services investigation into the family.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Retro looks























Ever had that sense of deja vu? Well when I saw these just in at next that's exactly how I felt seeing these solid block heeled shoes as well with that combination of colours. So 70's, eh?
Some say with fashion if ya wait long enough it comes back in again and with these shoes it sure seems that way.
Price £36.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Stop! Stop! Stop! & Wednesday Week

Well apart from some bad rain Tuesday night, it hasn't been a bad ol' week at all as far as the weather goes having been out a bit. Indeed the sun is shining very brightly as I type this out.




















The Hollies:

Bus Stop c/w Stop! Stop! Stop!

The Sound: The most striking thing is the lack of grey harshness compared to my experience of the 6 CD box Clarke,Hicks and Nash set that is remarkable value for money in some ways (and no doubt the same on the individual stereo/mono cds) and a sense of more resolution that is most marked on Bus Stop. Stop Stop Stop is the re-titled US issue that is the same as the UK For Certain Because album which is a gem of the Hollies 60's output. For once I did feel like turn the volume right up and noticed the 'scale' increased sounding like you're surrounded by a beat group with real dynamics sound lacking the oppressive buzz of limited mastering. There's some good low end on this cd. To summarize, If you're looking for the best currently available For Certain Because on cd then this is it outperforming the UK EMI editions and Bus Stop as much as it is a hodge podge of tracks over two years does gel reasonably well giving you good versions of the songs from their respective UK tape sources.





















BGO also issued the first two US Hollies albums, Here I Go Again which comprises of a selection from their UK lp Stay with the Hollies with singles and b sides while Hear! Here! is essentially the same as the UK Hollies album of 1965 bar two tracks changed for I'm Alive and Look Through Any Window.
This disc is all mono which is as well as those early stereo mixes weren't to great as either stereo or punchy sounding.

As well I have some James Taylor discs coming in dribs and drabs and I'm hearing Mofi are going to be doing the ELO album Out Of The Blue the home of Sweet Talking Women and Mr Blue Sky soon as a sacd that'll play on regular cd players too that ought to sound really good.

Finally, I have actually joined a social networking site that meets my privacy and information sharing needs having fought off many attempts to get me to sign up to a leading one over the last few years.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Come fly with me

















Nothing to do with Sinatra not that there's anything wrong with his performances as you count me as a closet admirer, but one bonus of the recent good weather has been it's been nice to be able to stroll about and just admire mother nature herself unhurried.
Today I had to walk down to the local stores about a half mile as the crow flies where I notices several white butterflies in peoples gardens (those who still have gardens (sigh)) and also on a patch of open land which is allowed to grew a bit wild with wild flowers and hedgerows.
It was beautiful watching them flutter on the air currents from flower to flower.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Panic stations!

So far this week all I've been hearing is a sense of moral panic following last weeks disturbances, riots or whatever phrase you may care to deploy to describe what happened in England.

As I said last week here and in a few other places I have no intentions of getting into any kind of a political debate over this in part cos I know just how much exposure to our political points of view can cause irreparable damage to our friendships as well as being seriously hacked off about the rhetoric and posturing of all the major politicians over here over it.

Greed and a sense of 'got to have it all' have been raised by many commentators political, social and religious to explain in part the actions we saw.

Greed is by now means new in our society and it's history goes well back to the Bible.

It is used as a motivator for consumerism by commerce as we're encouraged to think the regular 1.6 four door automobile isn't good enough for us, we can do better and anyway don't we deserve this even if we don't really need it and sometimes there may be an opportunity cost to others, such as putting that second car on the road cos our garage isn't big enough?

Greed is not uncommon when quite literally our neighbours submit building plans that use part of OUR gardens for their OWN gain and lets not forget those politicians who took our money as tax payer for expenses that they had not in fact incurred.

It seems to me those out were little different morally in that regard.

That takes to the idea of looting and stealing as somehow shocking acts committed by the urban youth.

Let me make it clear I disagree theft and theft with any kind of menace actual or implied but in a society where others are seen to get away with it, the moral bar is lowered and in a year that has seen many powerful people caught out defrauding us and getting lenient sentences is it that surprising that such crimes do occur in the heat of disturbances?

And are these exactly new as I can't help but wonder if we hadn't had this in previous centuries and hadn't that led to the Riot Act?

While disagreeing the actions, I'm not so strongly persuaded all this can be blamed on mid twentieth century social values such as Liberalism or the Welfare State rather the disconnect between action and consequence which outside of last weeks actions has resulted in other issues across society. And often politicians fail to acknowledge themselves the connection between the actions and the consequences as much as they are entitled to make their arguments to favour of a policy. None of us can afford to just disregard each other as immaterial in the bigger plan.

The reaction to the Prison Minister's comments trying to categorize rape offences into minor and major is testimony to that.

I suppose my final musing form a moral stand point is one of disbelief that Politicians of all parties were trying to say how they had brought about decisive action who themselves were on vacation seemingly regarding the disturbances across the Capital, London, as being not sufficient reason to return while they were being dealt with by Police forces on the ground.

The perimeters are set by Parliament through with the Police fighting away through the often contradictory guidance and recommendations of previous inquiries into similar situations to keep the peace without direct political interference.If the politicians want to make life easier for policing these things, perhaps they'd care to reform the guidance using parliamentary time instead?

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Neko time


I suppose with all the trouble we've had in the last week over here, we could use a little luck so I thought I'd put up a picture from the stock of TokyoJazzPanda of a good luck cat I like. The Kanji on the coin reads "Peace" which is very apt.


Friday, 12 August 2011

Naruto Shippuden Vol.5 & 6

While some no doubt have been checking if they still have a neighbourhood after this weeks disturbances that I'll keep a dignified silence on least anyone get the wrong idea, apart from being pawley -again - which is why this entry is kinda short, I had a dvd come that I'd put off due to other much more expensive stuff I wanted to get a few months back.Such is life!
Naruto is a series I've enjoyed since starting the Shippendun series to which you'll find previous entries dotted about this blog, this volume No.5 which thankfully comes as 13 episodes on two discs in a single dvd case.
I really really dislike single volumes discs of the four episode types we used to get and some Japanese companies are forcing their overseas distributors to do as with Vampire knight and K-On!
This Volume 5 follows Naruto our ninja, who is troubled by nightmares after his second failed attempt to bring Sasuke home.
While recovering in the hospital Kakashi,, suggests a new training regime for Naruto that puts him in touch with his wind chakra nature.

Here we go to Volume 6 of this long running series. In the village Hidden in the Leaves, ninja reign supreme, and school is literally a battlefield. Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura are teenage classmates and ninja in training, working together -of sorts! - under the instruction of their teacher, Kakashi. Sasuke is training to win revenge...Sakura is training to win Sasuke...And Naruto, the class clown, insists that he ll become the greatest nija in the World! Nothing like self belief now is there?

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Otomen Volumes 8 to 10


Phew, doesn't time fly, eh. The last time I blogged about Otomen was way back in November  23rd 2010.
I don't feel like repeating myself on what is hot day here, but I've just finished reading Volume 10 and the last volume we talked about was 7 so be sure to dig out the relevant entries for the background but it's the high school set story of two lovers Asuka and Ryo neither of which conform to gender stereotypes and contradictory personal likes.
On the outset of Episode 8 we see Ryo leaving the Academy to look after her ill grandfather having had a farewell concert put on in her honour.
After a while Asuka and friends become concerned the burden of doing this on her own maybe too much so Asuka travels over seeing the clueless Ryo - domesticity never being her strong point- and takes over.
After a while Grandfather recovers and shocks the couple by revealing he too was an Otomen who had to keep his love of girly things a secret!
Anyhow he  returns to Tokyo with them.
Upon returning to the Academy something is very much afoot as cousin of Asuka called Kasuga transfers establishing the Morals Committee of the Student Body to suppress gender noncomformity. doing inspections, banning the gardening and flower clubs and even trying to hypnotize them. Perhaps this is a reaction to the shame he felt about Asuka's fathers situation (see Vol:1) so he's trying to prevent similar situations. Even the teaching staff are changed and a new female teacher is introduced to push girls away from sports and intellectual tasks to crafts and just being well obsessed with cuteness in the belief that's what boys really want.
For a while it seems to work but in the end the couple and their friends find it wears off as they cannot help being themselves not that it effected Asuka's ability to be the lead in the Kendo club defeating the new teacher at the sport.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Round and Round



















Well did someone mention music?

Well that's how a good many of us used to listen to music into the 80's and some still do if ya hadn't heard.
You take a record, give it a quick brush, put it on the turntable and drop that arm thing down on the right hand side and that's it until the end.
When it's at the end as pictured you lift the arm off, stop the turntable and start again on the second side.
It's easier than it seems even if some 'audiophile' types make a magical ritual around it and unlike memory sticks or home made is likely to remain playable for tens of years.afterward.


Funny time of year don't you think?
It has been very hot over the last four or say days over here so I haven't felt like doing very much at all really apart from regular stuff like going to work and getting up as the heat just lives ya whacked.
Still this new Month and the weather got me thinking about a few things I hadn't in years gotten around to fixing.
One was my copy of the Cars Drive 45 hadn't been replaced although it was scratched from back in the day so I was able to get a mint condition copy a day back that pleased me as this remains one of my favourite songs from 1984.
The other thing was as late I was to switching to cds I accidentally damaged my copy of Alexander O'Neal's 1987 album Hearsay that contained the hits Fake and Criticize in the mid 90's leaving it with one thick scratch that it wouldn't play properly through.
I'd applied a product called "CD Defender" to it - a kind of self adhesive see though skin some us for games cds - that meant on some players it could play but it was hit and miss.
Well I was able to get a new original made in Austria like my first copy was with immaculate surfaces as this cd is hard to get over here new and I'm just loving re-listening to it.




















Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The Norwegian tragedy July 22, 2011 (reflections)

It came to me as much as I guess anyone else to think a bright clear Friday morning was going to be linked forever with the deaths over 85 or so individuals in bomb blasts in Oslo and on a nearby island where a youth camp for Norway's Young Labour party members was taking place.
To say it's shaken me to the core perhaps is an understatement as someone who has had dealings with Norwegians over the years and to which I have had enormous respect for how they shaped their society.
As shocking as Anders B Breiviks actions were and are, that's not the only aspect that concerns me.
Because I imagine of the terrorist atrocities that occurred here in the UK and also in New York people have linked Islamist Extremism to this kind of act and by early Saturday morning, the mass media had already decided they were guilt with all the fear and yes prejudice that goes with it.
But it soon turned out the person responsible regard themselves as a Christian and a Freemason fighting some battle against his idea of a Moslem take over of Norway and the reminder of Europe, but at no point did the media apologize for getting it wrong.
In Norway as unlike for a period in the UK, immigration and assimilation have been able to be debated openly without fear that 'the ruling groups' would shut down the debate which as uncomfortable as it sometimes is nonetheless has to happen in a free and democratic society.
The other aspect is that no one has picked up on the fact many of these young people were the brightest members who would of entered the fields of law and politics contributing to the direction Norway's society would develop -the only right judgment in my opinion Mr Brevik made being why he targeted them - and as such this is a huge loss and not just in terms of loss of family members as tragic as those things always are.
It is good to see Norwegians of all races and religions coming together in torchlit processions to say this man and his ideas will not be allowed to tear apart everything they have worked on since WW2.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Beatles on Mini lp packaging

Great start to the week with a bit of chat room drama have to deal with but anyway here's another music related post for this week.
Back in 2008 I noticed some Beatles cds out usually from places in Eastern Europe that look very different presentation-wise to those we see in the stores.
They had almost exact replicas of the lp covers being printed on card with glossy fronts, paper inner sleeves and any insets that the original lps had and some of these comprised of titles that for reasons best kept to themselves Apple, the Beatles record company no longer want out.
So as I suspect they were unofficial but in terms of their presentation they were much better than the official ones as some of these albums at that term were not available officially I got a few and also noticed unlike most of these things the discs were not made on a computer but actually pressed just like a regular cd often with attractive replica labels.
In Japan many record companies do routinely issue classic albums in this form which is very popular with collectors and in 2009 the cds in The Beatles In Mono box were issued just like that.
It was however a pity they didn't issue the stereo versions in that form include the last three stereo only ones even if the folded digipaks were better than the old cd jewel boxed ones with minimal information.
This still left a number of albums no longer available on cd most notably the Hollywood Bowl live album that sold extremely well upon release in 1977 which was taken from their 1964 and 1965 US concerts in LA.
Recently I got an unofficial version out of curiosity, based upon the Canadian lp which I own and was very impressed with how it was done.
First off, they had a commercially printed gatefold sleeve replicating everything from the lp, they reproduced for the innersleeve to hold the cd the original North American concert picture inner (the UK album had pictures of the the current Beatles lps), a set of reproduction tickets for the concerts and a lyric sheet.
The cd sounded very good indeed - on a par with my lp - and had a invite style card with all the tracks on like the original lp and like the earlier discs I mentioned again was 'pressed' not burnt on a recordable cd.
All in all it was a very classy and professional job that can be hold its own against the official releases.
It amazes me that this album the only from official sources live album ever issued is off limits from official cd re-issue although one track from the sessions 'Baby's In Black' was issued as long ago as 1996 on a cd single and why the the stereo remasters that do sound very good haven't been issued in this packaging as these other people can still make a living from selling other versions in this form.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

First night of the Proms!


















Well it's summer and boy has it been hot of late although it was raining hard yesterday as I went out shopping but be that as it may, my attentions were drawn as they would at this time of year by this.
Its a black satin jewelled prom dress available from Tnt Bandicoot that although simple in some ways has a certain elegance about it with the figure enhancing corset that ties at the back.
The netting just adds abit of something too.

Note to the Kawaii fans, this seasons new Hello Kitty stationary range is out in Smiths.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Beach Boys Today! & Summer days!!!

















Well peoples the initiated do know I've always had a strong liking for the Beach Boys a band who notwithstanding being American -Californian to be exact - developed a strong following in the UK to the point that by the late 1960's they were more popular there than 'at home'!

I was raised on British versions of the "Best of the Beach Boys " compilations in their crazy mixture of mono, true stereo and Duophonic (fake) stereo from an early age and started slowly buying individual albums from my mid teens although at that time a Stones or Beatles album got the nod as I as low on my allowances back then.That had something to do with the patchy nature of some of these early beach boy albums some having obvious filler such as Denny's Drums from "Shut Down Vol:2", Our Favorite Recording Sessions on "All Summer Long" or "Bull session with Big Daddy" on this album, "Today!" but there are too many examples of their song writing abilities, harmonization and Brian Wilson's production abilities not to stay with a few hit bound compilations.In fact this album issued early 1965 is really at the point when the themes became more adult exploring much more about emotions and relationships than the previous album which was still teen fun in the sun songs with cars - a Californian necessity and obsession - and the complex arrangements that blossomed on Pet Sounds began (It has been said much of side two was the dummy run for that album).The hit 45's leap out at you and it's telling that they're all on side one, the cover of Do You Wanna Dance, When I Grow Up (to be a Man) which questions of the interests and obsessions of youth can be maintained in adult life and finally Dance Dance Dance which is as close to the older themes this album gets with its invocation of teen life, coming in from school and blasting out the radio flat out.Guess we've all done that, eh?Side two is where the fun starts, with Brian pouring his heart out writing very grown up songs about love such as "Please Let Me Wonder" and "She Knows Me Too Well".My previous exposure to this album in it's entirety was a UK Duophonic stereo version on album - I should note it was mixed to real stereo but seemingly Brian Wilson objected to this stereo re-mix and had it trashed oblivious to the fact it would be tricked into fake stereo anyway by Capitol sounding less good - and the mono cd which is part of a 2 lp on cd set with Summer Days neither issue of which is entirely satisfactory as sound quality goes.This was re-issued in mono in full by Capitol in the States in 2009 in the "From the vaults" lp re-issue series on 180 gram vinyl from higher than cd resolution files transferred from the analogue tapes and I was able to win a near mint copy very cheaply recently to add to my collection.In my opinion this album hasn't sounded better. Recommended.






















Capitol at the same time decided to re-issue this album, Today's follow up in it's "From the vaults" series but goofed with the front and rear jacket art as they used that from the Duophonic version whereas this lp is actually mono and many audio fans run a mile from any kind of fake stereo which is unfortunate cos they see the cover and it like 'Ugh!'
The usual opinion on this this album is it's a a step back from side two of Today returning more to the fun in the sun subject matter of girls, beaches, and summer but this is to ignore the sophistication in the arrangements most noticeably on California Girls, the instrumental Summer Means New Love, the heavy I'm Bugged At My ol' Man' and the acapella And Your Dream Comes True.
In reality Capitol wanted a album for Summer, the Beach boys needed a album to tour behind and Brian Wilson had to rustle up something so while it's true to say the spirit of this album is in the past most noticeably on Amusement Parks USA with the carnival barker interjecting in the song not unlike County Fair from Surfin' Safari, the quality of the arrangements and the playing more than make up for it.
The sound on this lp is probably the best I've heard it as there's plenty of bass and a tendency toward peakiness and over bright strings that can be heard in otherwise great copies such as the UK 1978 mono re-issue are well tamed , allowing the vocals to cut through.
The card insert has colour versions of the rear album photographs that I'm sure were not issued here in the UK at the time.
It just seems a pity care wasn't taken to issue the correct mono front and rear covers of thsi otherwise well worthwhile re-issue.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Music while you're about


















I think the late founder of Sony has a lot to answer for as he popularized the notion of going around with a small personal player loaded with your favourite tunes in the form of the Walkman back in late 1979.
Of course since then we've been through differing formats, cassette tape, cd, minidisc and solid state players as well as things that are multi-functional such as cellphones with music facilities or even the cult iPad.
I still prefer my MiniDisc player for sound as well as general convenience but sometimes the ability to load a file from the 'net straight and cheap download offers appeals so a solid -state player is handy.
Generally I've been more than satisfied with my Sensa Clip+ for the sound quality as well as its ability to accept full cd quality 'lossless' files which you can commonly get cheap from the likes Amazon and Walmart, which I feel is the biggest bargain out there for anyone not bothered about video or photo's.
If you are an avid iTunes user though one disadvantage of this player is short of getting a bit technical and changing it's software, it won't play files in Apples aac format which is the norm for iTunes and to be honest I feel aac and wma are better sounding formats than regular Mp3 if you need to 'compress' your music to load more of it on a player.
Sony do a inexpensive player that will accept acc and wma files which is worth considering and it is the NWZE458P.
It's capacity is 4GB although I think you can get a 8GB version and you just drag and drop files to it so you don't have to use itunes ior windows media play if you don't want to.
What's more it's available in pink!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

July round up

Hey folks it's sure shaping up to be a odd kind of a week here.First off the bat, I've finally gotten this monitor business sorted as I've taken stock of a newer LCD monitor as my old CRT one that was over 10 years old was starting to develop a fault on it making it very uncomfortable to read stuff from.This Dell one doesn't suffer from the pincushion distortion that made trying to align the display a pain in the proverbials.

Unfortunately Moomin's been poorly this week so I've had to spend some time looking after her although luckily it wasn't a vet job as the fees are really expensive. I think she's had a bit of a mini stroke that's left her a bit unco-ordinated but able to remember surroundings.

Also it was a shock to read of the suicide inquest report of the partner of one of my best friends following a period of mental illness which I used to spend a fair amount of my time visiting and generally keeping in touch with. Seemingly, she found him upon returning to the house with the children only to find him hanging on a wire suspended with on the ground a bottle of vodka and a note.I do really feel for her and the children.Having been through one painful suicide , that of my very best friend from high school sometime back from mental illness all I can say is if something is troubling you please do talk to others and get help.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Gladys Knight at Motown

Recently I've finally got around to collecting the five cd series issued by Motown UK in 2006 that features 10 albums by Gladys knight and the pips spread with two albums per cd.
I have a number of these albums some in mono as issued by Tamla-Motown in the UK and so the stereo is new to me although I'd of preferred to have mono for the earlier albums as it's that nothing in centre, with all else hard left and hard right stuff that is so distracting especially on headphones.

Following a period whilst signed to two labels releasing the 45's Letter Full Of Tears and Every Beat Of My Heart re-recorded for their Motown Greatest Hits album, they signed up in 1965 but its fair to say Berry Gordy didn't really know what to do with them.

Everybody Needs Love issued in 1967 was their first Motown album and is a mixture of songs written for them and covers showing from the get go the call and response Gospel infused style they were to become famous for.The Tittle track, Take Me In Your Arms (and love me) ans well as they take on I heard It Through The Grapevine. The first cd couples this with Feelin' Bluesy from 1968 which is all covers as Berry Gordy didn't want then muscling on the Supremes but this nonetheless proved to be great vehicle for displaying Gladys voice on tracks like It Should Of been Me (Yvonne Fair had a top 5 UK hits with this in 1976) and The End Of Our Road.

Disc two kicks of Silk 'N Soul issued in 1968 and is another covers but they were teamed with Norman Whitfield who just put another of a twist to enable the material to become theirs.with songs such as The Look Of Love, I Wish It Would Rain and Every little Bit Hurts.
1969 saw the issue of the second album on this cd, Nitty Gritty, a rousing piece of psychedelic Soul that contains not only the title track, a re-interpretation of Cloud Nine and Didn't You Know You have to Cry Sometime.

Disc three is a gem containing the If You Were My Woman and Standing Ovation albums from 1971.
The first album is a mixture of songs written for the group such as the title track and I don't Want To do Wrong as well as covers such as Let It Be and One Less Bell To Answer.
Standing Ovation was an album of covers -the group felt very much pushed back and were to leave for Buddah Records soon - but among the covers includes their sensual remake of Help Me Make It Through The Night and Make Me The Woman Go Home To written for by Clay McMurray