Monday, 30 May 2011

Marillion

Yes pop pickers it's been a busy year and this overdue part of the vinyl project is complete.
You see I original had these albums initially as I bought them for my brother but only got around to buying one for myself namely Misplaced Childhood back in the day as I had them copied to tape. Needless to say tape isn't in my current stereo system so I had to put matters aright and as they were intended for lp at the time I bought the UK first issue lps.

Formed in Aylesbury, England in 1979 they are a progressive rock band -aka Prog Rock - and as such hark back to style of song writing which scans more like prose with strong imagery and complex musical arrangements.

Script For A Jester's Tear EM I EMC 3429: Issued in 1983 and home of He Knows You Know and Garden Party which were hit 45's this was the first album and sounded the most like 70's Genesis.After two attempts I get a clean copy as the first had mould/mildew problems that made it noisy to play!
Fugazi EMC 24 0085-1: issued in early 1984 this was one album that really made me pay attention to what this new band had to offer featuring the hits single Assassing.
Real To Real: Issued late 1984 this is a live album part recorded in Canada and part in the UK that did feature their first single Market Square Heroes that wasn't issued on album.It took two gos to find a decent clean copy of the first pressing
Misplaced Childhood EMI MRL2 (EJ24 0340-1): One of the best selling albums of 1985 featuring the singles Lavender and Kayleigh that remain popular to the present day. On lp it sound a lot better than the UK cd version I have.
Clutching At Straws EMI EMD 1002: Issued in 1987 the album that is very much about the touring life it was the last studio album to feature vocalist Fish and the home of the singles Incommunicado and Sugar Mice

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Memories

Memories, eh?
Lots of of us have them form the time we were born to our current time not forgetting those memories from the past that are passed down through the generations but this whole subject has often intrigued me
For instance you may know of friends may be friends from your school days who when asked what they thought about those time might give you an account of how good they were or others who seem to have scarcely a good word to say about them but in each instance you feel a little uneasy.
Maybe that's because you remember stuff that happened that both of these two don't and when you add it to their accounts you might feel it alters the narrative you get from both regarding how they feel it shaped them.
Perhaps that's one function of memories. A Justification for who we are today?
But there's this other function we touched on, the passing down of factual knowledge about our pasts, that of our families, the communities and sometimes the countries they have lived in.
These maybe the order of family members -the "Family Tree", what they did and why as well as what happened where we lived and why it mattered. For instance a Saxon Cross near me was destroyed by people who thought it represented a form of Idol Worship and it's significance having been restored is to act as a reminder of the dangers of extreme ideology. Some counties such as the one I'm presently living in Great Britain havea lot of history -some of it bloody - and it doesn't take a lot of studying to see how that shaped their society.
So you see memories are important for us as people personally as well as societies but need to ensure they're as complete as possible to draw the best knowledge and wisdom from them.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Carrie-Anne!

















Not normally keen on box sets for reasons to do with space as often the less than clear reason behind their rational for existence, I did make a bit of an exception for this one released earlier this month by EMI UK.
Entitled The Hollies: The Clarke, Hicks & Nash years, it does for once what any box set should do mainly putting together every recording by an artist in a self-defined period for set set has every single Hollies track ever issued up to and including the point Graham Nash jumped the ship and teamed up with David Crosby and Neil Young including several foreign language recordings previously unissued on cd.
So we're treated to the singles (Ain't That) Just Like Me and it's b side to Listen To Me taking in 7 studio albums and some EP only tracks over 6 cds housed in a overfolded if that's the right word 'Fat box' twice the width of ordinary cds.
With only a handful of tracks freshly mastered the set draws upon the remasters done in the 1990's and 2003 by Peter Mew which is a bit of mixed blessing for while the set is cheap in part cos the lions share of the work was already done, his mastering does suffer from the tendency to 'clean up' tape hiss using noise reduction techniques that leave the music lacking a bit of' 'air' although there's aren't by any means the worst I've encountered for that.
For those reasons I would hold on to your copies of the out of print cd "All the hits and more", the still in print "20 Golden Greats" and the US Epic Anthology cd as they do sound that much better for the hits but the strength of this set is the ability to dip into albums such as 1967's Evolution and Butterfly which remain among the finest albums issued that year even though the difference between them and the singles like Carrie-Anne are telling and highlight the tension around the band balancing having smash hits and making creatively worthwhile music which lead Nash to leave in the end.
Recommended as for as little as the £12.97 I paid for mine it's a terrific bargain.

Elsewhere on this blog you'll find entries around the Hollies on cd if you click on the Music link on the Topic Index and look though the results.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Panther Pink Panther


















That's pretty much the size of it as I'm resting as my paws hurt (left is badly swollen) and I'm thinking about the stuff I liked as a kid to help deal with the pain.
He had a Saturday TV show "The Pink Panther Show" that featured animated shorts of his pinkness as well as another segment usually something like the Aardvark or the Inspector produced by the same studio,
It was so funny it it had me almost needing to go to the rest room!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Akwardness














It's funny isn't it every so often you'll bump into a similar situation to that that is illustrated whither or not it is so-called real life or in various boards or chat rooms.
Someone will stomp their feet and say "I was lied to" and not let up for ages making everyones life a misery and yet it may transpire they weren't really lied to so much as they swallowed uncritically a myth or someones joke as if it were for real even if it was kinda obvious it could never be so.
Equally others seem to take pleasure in accusing others of doing things they never did such as spreading rumours about them just because they're either feeling down in the dumps or lack self confidence and wish to pin it on something else.
It just leads to an awkwardness around a group that is just no fun to be with.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Piano Man

I've recently taken stock of a couple of specialty label cds from Mobile fidelity (Mofi) of Chicago, Ill. by the singer-songwriter Billy Joel whose songs were a part of my childhood growing up with on tape and on the radio.
In so far as most Britons are concerned he kinda came to notice during Elton (John's) unavailability late 77, Early '78 but actually Billy goes back much further than that to the outfit known as "The Hassels" in New Jersey who performed in a hard rock style but shortly afterward he left and took to playing bars and thru this, established a contract with Columbia Records (or CBS to Brits!) which led to his debut album album Cold Spring Harbour being issued.

Piano Man which remains one of the finest albums by a contemporary rock artist taking his observations on NJ life including the controversial Captain Jack that tackles drug abuse . As well it is worth noting it is clearly influenced by Elton's Tumbleweed Connection as well as having a Western theme running thru it.

Piano Man is a fictionalized account of his own story working the bars, trying earn a dollar.
Turnstiles was the next one up and was the second just issued by Mofi which features New York state of Mind in it's original mix rather than the remix used for all previous cd versions as well as Miami 2017 and the epic Say Goodbye To Hollywood.
These discs do sound quiet amazing with natural piano tone and wide dynamics.


Earlier on I did get the Audio Fidelity 2010 issue of Glass Houses as I only had the 1998 MiniDisc version as remastered by Ted Jensen that features the smash hit 'It's Still Rock and Roll (to me) '. This version has greater dynamics and a smoother, more detailed sound to it. I didn't like the AF 52nd Street - too muddy- electing to stay with my 1994 Sony Mastersounds disc.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Bamboo Blade



















I'm presently watching the shojo (girl's) sports series Bamboo Blade.
The story starts with perpetually broke part-time Muroe High School coach Toraji Ashida making a bet with an old school chum: if he can assemble a winning girl's kendo (Japanese fencing) team, then he'll get a year's free dinners at a sushi restaurant.As instructors go he's the laughing stock of all the others which is hardly inspiring.
Sounds corny but you have to hang the plot on something I guess! Ashida-sensei's motives may be less than altruistic, but he manages to recruit a few promising candidates. The wildcard in his hand is short of stature Tamaki Kawazoe, who's grown up in her family's dojo (training complex) and is a likely candidate for a national title. Tama-chan loves Super Sword Squadron Blade Bravers , a sci-fi anime spoof. By playing on her desire to emulate the champions of justice in the series, Ashida gets her to join the team, knowing her skill and speed will inspire the other girls to win.

Monday, 9 May 2011

R.I.P. The Family Album

While recovering from getting drenched this afternoon in the rain and lightning I did start thinking about something that's been on my mind ever since digital photography became mainstream.
In the past, we took pictures on film with most of us making up photo albums usually based on a theme such as "My hiking holiday 1996" or something a bit like that with perhaps the odd memento such as a rail ticket added to the package that we shared with friends or kept as a reminder of past events ourselves.
While looking in Smiths, I saw what are called "Digital photoframes" a display device usually with some memory to store pictures and this one had limited sound options so say with a picture of your children you could have say a sound file with them saying something.
I wonder how many people actually have these at home as I've never seen them whenever I've visited people on shelves or fireplaces where in the past people would put family pictures in their homes?
Is it that either people leave them on the digital cameras on computers or do they use image sharing sites to which they may post links to albums for family and friends?
Are we in danger of just being takers of images that never see light of day with the posibility of gaping holes in our family albums?
What do you think?

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Help!

There are somethings that may be hard to do because of understandable restrictions about what you can say publicly but some aspects about my work do give me an insight into what other people are going through.
From my vantage point I see people experiencing problems with debt which sadly is very common place in the UK presently.
Many people think it's just people living the dream beyond their means but in my experience and that of my colleagues, it's not.
Generally speaking most we encounter are people who do think about meeting the repayments before taking on such long term commitments but often what is the problem is a sudden unforeseeable change in circumstances such as losing your job, a reduction in take home pay for those who are paid hourly or discovering you're pregnant.
For some consumer based debt problems can come from errors and delays on the parts of others such as problems with benefit or tax credit payments that may take several months to resolve or a notification that say their tax was miscalculated and they want more money off of them.
Consumer debt problems can be very serious when they concern what are called Utilities such as gas, electricity and water or not paying your rent, rates to your Council or tv license and I cannot emphasize enough the importance in seeking help the minute you see you may not be able to meet the payments.
I had a client recently what had lost their job because their employer had gone into administration and whose partner to which they were due to marry also was likely to made redundant within the month. Fancy a situation where both of you are out of work? Serious stuff, eh?
Well one of things we do is give people advice about what money they should get from their employer when they leave and if they are allowed any time off to look for new work. We also look at their situation and the person concerned we suggested they made a claim for benefits for being out of work as they needed money to live off even though we'd all hope they were able to get new work soon and should their partner also be out of work then the calculation for what both could get would alter. As well by that point if they needed any help with debts then we'd offer that although at the moment that looked okay.
So you see it's a bit different than people may say at the bus stop or in the popular press.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Beethoven: Symphonies



















Collecting classical recordings often seems daunting with many hundreds of recordings being issued over the decades and made available in differing forms. Beethoven was an early passion of mine from hearing many of his works on the radio or through borrowed discs.
To me at least there is a difference between seeking out outstanding versions of individual symphonies and finding a set to live with, and while there are undoubtedly performances of single symphonies available which could compete with the best, it is as a coherent and aesthetically consistent survey that Cluytens accounts - available in this set - are best considered .
I feel there is a rightness to his judgement which proves enormously satisfying on repeated listenings and there is a special interest in hearing the fruits of a combination of several stellar talents: the virile, robust sound of the pre-Karajan Berlin Philharmonic, the production genius of Walter Legge working in a congenial recording acoustic, the Romantic but never indulgent interpretations of am under-rated conductor who died all too soon, and the especially fine vocal contributions from an unusual team of soloists and the wholly committed choir of St Hedwig's Cathedral - wrapped up in a set available cheaply from the likes of Amazon.

In my teens I became acquainted with Beethoven's symphonies through these performances when they were available as budget LP's on the EMI Classics for Pleasure label collecting the complete set and was worried that many years later my judgement would be clouded by sentimental attachment, however having listened intently to a good many other versions, I find that this set stands up remarkably well. The Pastoral (my favourite of the lot) and the Ninth have long been praised but you will find equally enthusiastic endorsements of every symphony here in one review or you'll be hard pressed to find a discouraging word. They are not the last word in individuality, nor do they bear the stamp of a particular approach, but Cluytens seems to understand and appreciate the spirit and heart of this music. Absolutely no-one captures the cat-like tread of the opening of the Fourth the way Cluytens does; rhythms and accents are beautifully sprung and he pays close attention to dynamics. I was also especially pleased to discover that Nicolai Gedda, was much more impressive than I remembered him in the Choral, and the soaring refulgence of Gre Brouwenstijn's soprano is a special treat.
Herbert von Karajans recordings with the Berlin Philharmonic are often interesting but to me he's never conducted an even as set as this Cluytens set with the same orchestra.

The remastered stereo sound is warm and spacious preserving a sense of being present at the session; excellent for recordings made between 1957 and 1959.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Soul Eater 4



















Eventually I got around to finishing off the Soul Eater series.
Background: Set in the Shinigami technical school for weapon meisters, the series revolves around 3 groups of each a weapon meister and a human weapon. Trying to make the latter a "Death Scythe" and thus fit for use by the Shinigami, they must collect the souls of 99 evil humans and 1 witch. Soul Eater is an anime that centres around meisters and their weapons and their mission to collect 99 evil souls and 1 witch soul. Upon doing that the meister's weapons will become a Deathscythe, which is the highest title for a weapon. Maka, Soul Eater, Black Star, Tsubaki, Death the Kid, and Patty and Liz Thompson are the characters Soul Eater revolves around. Besides taking the time to gather souls these students of Shibusen defend Death City from some of the most powerful of creatures while still attending school and trying to become stronger.

Volume four sees the DWMA forced into making a deal via Medusa offering Lord Death vital information about the Kishin in exchange for her safety. After she leaves, the increasingly crazed Stein wanders out after her with the manipulative witch Medusa (who is Crona's evil mother) for the location of the Kishin an Arachne's base of operations, Baba Yaga Castle. Meanwhile Doctor Stein loses himself to madness and Crona decides to take on some responsibility.

Soon everyone is preparing for their own missions: Black Star, Tsubaki, Soul Eater and Maka are going to join Death's armies, and attack Arachne and the Kishin; Death the Kid heads for a devastated city to retrieve the last magical item; and Crona and Marie set out to rescue Stein from Medusa. Both Kid and Maka are having doubts about whether they're doing the right thing, especially since Maka is worried about what will happen when Crona encounters his evil mother.

As we watch we see the main main characters maturing in their own ways. Maka and Death the Kid begin to doubt everything they've ever been taught, including their trust in Lord Death. Soul has to deal with his inner imp once and for all, and Crona desperately tries to atone for his sins against his friends as well as growing more confident in his body. Even Black Star is confronted by a rather sinister anecdote about his late father (who had a very similar personality), but refuses to give up.
It's been a inviting series that nevers lets up to the final end.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Here comes the bride!























Well I guess most of you didn't expect to see this posted but heck I just so enjoyed watching the Royal wedding on Friday that I just had to post one picture of Kate and William and I ain't no royalist.
One simple but elegant white dress and one uniform. Well we all love a Soldier, eh?

The "War on Terror" - has it ended?






















Today I woke up to the news this man, Osama Bin Laden had been killed in a US led military operation in Pakistan.
He headed an organization - al Qadea - that was responsible for the deaths of thousands and many more injured in bombing campaigns most noticeably in London (England), Madrid (Spain) and infamously at the Twin Towers in New York on September 11th 2001.
That day is one I'll never forget 'til I'm gone from the drama of spending several days waiting to hear if friends due to be in the building were alive or dead to the god awful images of flaming buildings and ash covered staff and rescuers at Ground Zero many who are seriously ill from that days operations.
Evil is an inadequate word to describe how I felt and still feel about what happened that day when countless Canadians, Americans, Brits and nationals of all races and colours perished.
Several friends were severally injured in the London bombings which just added to the stock of emotions so I don't make any apology for being pleased he has been captured and killed although a part of me wanted him put on trail for all this stuff.
Unlike some headline writers who said the "War on Terror" is now over I cannot agree that because his many had thousands of followers around the world trained to maim and kill so I'd say be glad he's gone.
All I can say to people is be vigilant in the days and months ahead as those who follow him will no doubt try to avenge Mr Bin Laden's death as it ain't over yet.

This has been one of the most emotional posts I've ever made so sorry for any grammar and spelling mistakes.