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