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.