Wednesday, 25 January 2012

R.I.P Eastman Kodak

I didn't want to write this entry at all wishing circumstances would be better but they're not so here goes.
For me the sad news of Eastman Kodak's seeking bankruptcy protection is quite shocking having grown up in the film era where it's products were almost universally available on five continents.
I've always used them in differing forms and I guess the first starting points for me were acquiring a Kodak Brownie that run 120 spool film and having to go buy my own film at the age of 12 1/4 figuring out what what they called black and white film was and what speed I needed while on a school zoo trip. My classmates had Instamatic cartridge loading film cameras a Kodak invention that made changing film really easy and they had the same thing except most of them used colour!
Typically I got a Twin Lens Reflex camera from Pop in 1980 so I was still on Kodak roll films but by this point I'd caught up with colour having my 6x6 inch negatives printed out.
Then for some strange reason Pop bought me a instant camera - well I knew about them - and he had a Polaroid that you had to peel apart but a bit modern that I tried while hiking.
This was the Kodak sort that had a bit more control over exposures and a lot less messy to handle after taking the picture.
This I think when around the time Kodak seemed to lose it's way with technology as they lost a patents battle with Polariod and had to launch a replacement program as they were discontinued.
The replacement was the short lived Kodak Disc camera using film in form of a shutter protected disc that you inserted into a slim camera but the problem was it just wasn't as good as the now standard 35mm compact cameras also taking less pictures. I used mine to capture pictures of people I met on a training course in 1990.
I eventually moved up to 35mm single lens reflex cameras such as my Minolta XD7 and Olympus OM4 which was where I encountered their specialty film products.
It always used to bug me the difference between the pictures I'd get back from mainstream photo processors so I tried differing types of film of which the first was the sadly long unavailable Ektar 25 colour print film. The detail on this film with high quality fixed length lenses and secure mounting to a tripod was incredible as it could record the resolution I saw through the view finder coming very close to that of 6x6 professional roll film cameras.
The other area was slide films where I used exclusively Kodachrome until 2009 for landscapes loving the fine detail and clear natural colours from KR64 and KR200 for lower light work. These films have been known to keep their original colour balence longer than competing E6 standard colour slide films from the likes of Fuji.
With the exception of Reala, I found too many of Fuji's slide films too unnaturally vivid to be believable but the amateur market felt different and no doubt under pressure from digital for magazine work they left the marketplace missed by many of us.
I feel Kodak failed to make good in its digital expertise while marketing it's amateur products at the arts market as certainly people such as Lomo have made money selling unique 35mm film cameras that used what Kodak made.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Stay with the Hollies!

In what will probably be the last blog entry around the topic of the Hollies on cd I'll be commenting on three cds, two studio albums and a new compilation.
Kicking off I'll start with the first album ever issued by the Hollies 'Stay with the Hollies' that was a mixture of R&B covers such as 'Stay', Chuck Berry's Memphis and 'Talkin' 'Bout You' and a powerhouse rocker Nash& Clarke original called 'Little Lover' which was featured on an English EP record.
I picked up the old 1991 BGO cd cheaply which is in mono unlike the lp re-issue they did earlier and I'd have to say I feel the sound while being a breathing more than the late 90's EMI remasters , it lacks definition compared to the BGO cds that have Here I Go Again and Bus Stop albums on them. Actually Imperial records in the states did issue all these tracks but Mr Moonlight in somewhat pedestrian arrangement and You Better Move On were on the Beat Group album not available on cd.
I don't feel this disc is really necessary for anyone but the most completist Hollies fan as the majority of these tracks are available in better sound elsewhere.

Later in 1964 Parlophone issued a second album called 'In The Hollies Style' which was a more accomplished set though having no singles on it which was the British norm back then with a rousing version of 'Nitty Gritty', 'Baby That's All', 'Candy Man' and the Everly Bros song I Thought 'Of You Last Night'
I bought the 1991 BGO mono cd issue of this too but while there is room for improvement it is better than the current EMI version but this album was never issued by Imperial in the States although Three songs did come out scattered across the Beat Group and Bus Stop albums.
Interestingly the BGO lp was like the first album also stereo. What was that all about?

Buying Hollies compilations is a messy exercise as you're seldom told exactly what versions mono or stereo you're gonna get and some dedicated mono mixes seem missing in action such as that of Bus Stop although someone at Capitol in LA found a copy tape of it in 2002 for the Capitol cd "Classic Masters" one compilation I do like outside the earlier 20 Golden Greats and the now out of print All The Hits and More 2cd set that are mainly in superb sounding stereo.
Recently a compilation came out on Music Club that does have some interesting mono material scattered across two discs in pretty decent sound for once.
Entitled "The Very Best Of" it commits the cardinal sin of not putting the tracks in any logical order across two cds, sketchy notes that don't refer to Terry Sylvester era which brought about a number of big hits like "The Air That I Breathe" but for the modest price (Under GBP £5.00) is worth picking up.
Most Hollies compilations have tended to feature after the event stereo remixes rather than the dedicated mono originals issued on the 45's until 1970 where available that sometimes sound very different and some of album tracks here are also the less often heard mono ones which were the priority mixes of the day.
I'll list every known mono track on this disc:
(Ain't That) Just Like Me
Here I Go Again
Yes I Will
Look Thru Any Window
If I Needed Someone
The Very Last Day (From Hear Here (US)/ "Hollies" (UK 1965) )
Pay You Back With Interest
After The Fox (with Peter Sellars)
Stop Stop Stop
On A Carousel
Carry Anne
Dear Eloise
Clown (From Butterfly album)
Honey and Wine
Butterfly (From album of same name)
Listen To Me
Sorry Suzanne
He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother

Unlike most compilations it has three songs form the Hollies sing Dylan album of 1969 an album I feel was so out of date for the band as they had song writing talents with in it and access to top British songwriters more than prepared to write them fresh material.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Stay safe, stay comfortable

Well after last week where we had major storms that resulted in trees being blown down here, stuff from next door in your garden and even some roofs being blown off it's hardly surprising my mind goes to comfort mode.
Heck that stuff was scary feeling the upper level of my house vibrate badly.
Anyway over the last few years winter head ware fashions have changes with Inca styled woollen hats becoming most popular in a variety of different designs and colours beuing worn by all of either gender and most ages.
I really like this one is that is typical of the breed with tie ups to keep it tight so your ears don't get the cold which is something I really dislike about this time of year.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Crosby, Stills And Nash (AF)

This entry goes back a bit actually when I used to have a more complicated blog structure with a blog for old stuff but seeing there's a new bit it'll be retyped as one piece here.
The late 1960's and early 70's is a period where I do remember rather more than many of my contemparies do and I guess for me it involves numerous automotive journeys with the clunking of Pops in-car 8 track player and the sometimes downright screwed up track orders of the albums we played and given that is even know how they 'play' in my head, perhaps our generation ought to be compensated by Lear Jet for it!

Crosby Stills and Nash fit that era to a tee and recently Audio Fidelity a small Californian reissue outfit re-issued their first album freshly re-mastered by Steve Hoffman.
Songs like Wooden Ships, Marrekesh Express and Suite: Judy Blue Eyes were always on tape player plus the FM radio and what they've tried to do on this cd is to bring out a more natural bass quality and improve the clarity of the individual instruments on what has to be said is a so-so original recording. It works well even if ultimately this album is one you enjoy for the performances and songs some of which like the Graham Nash ones were originally intended for his 'old' group the Hollies during that period when he wanted to write songs with more meaning while the groups record company (EMI) just wanted simplistic pop songs to sell hit 45's instead. In Crosby's case he famously fell out with the Byrds as they didn't wish to issue his songs and so Graham Steven Stills and himself formed this 'supergroup'.
Shortly afterwards Neil Young a now celebrated Canadian singer-songwriter joined them for the Deja Vu album which was a good a distillation of the ethos of those 'Woodstock' days as any I can think of from the cover of the Joni Mitchell song of the same name to Almost Cut My Hair, Nash's Our House and my favourite Neil's Country Girl a seemless suite of three songs.
I owned this originally on 8 track and later the casette version during the 'Walkman era'.
Sometime in the mid 1990's ('94 I think) Joe Gastwirt remastered this and pretty much all the C,S,N &Y output for compact disc and these can be got cheaply with decent sound from the likes of Amazon. They are only just a little louder than a specialist remaster and I like his version of this a lot.
In the fall of 2013 Steve Hoffman tackled this, the 1977 album (aka "The Boat") for Audio Fidelity catalogue number AFZ 144, the home of Cathedral and several other fine compositions. Having heard a number on the 2013 reissued box set CSN, my interest was picqued so I bought it. The sound is really good on this issue maintaining its analogue warmth and can be recommended 

Sunday, 1 January 2012

2011 and all that!

Well here comes the End of the Year and I don't know quite how I'm gonna summarize it at That Boarding School Girl yet cos you see I write very much off the cuff with no plan and that.
Looking at events, well we've had highs the most obvious being the Royal Wedding and lows such as the wanton destruction that occurred in August where vast areas were destroyed most noticeably at Reeves Corner, Croydon whose flaming image I still find hard to get out of my mind as well as the senseless destruction of the Sony dvd and cd warehouse in London.
Internationally we've had change albeit incomplete in the Middle East, the removal of Saddam Hussein and Osmar Bin Laden and the recurring problem within the Euro Zone economies and it's currency.
I take no satisfaction at all for saying this but it appears at years end there's no fix to the debt problem currently existing with what appears to be more a kind of idea for fiscal rules in the future to be approved March 2012.

The EU leaders missed the bus and all we have is more embittered relations between the UK and the rest of the EU.
I only hope for the sake of Eurozone members their luck changes next year.
Things to look forward to next year include OUR Olympics that no matter how fragile our economy is here in the UK will be a great success as well as a mood lifter and the 60th anniversary of the present Queen of the UK, Canada and host of other places that will be marked with vists, events and no doubt street parties.
Talking about me though, I'd say that my health's been pretty constant although last years major Flu outbreak did leave me out of commission for a period leaving me with some permanent problems around my throat making it difficult to talk for long.
Regarding this blog, we are at a stable point in its continuing evolution having greatly simplified the structure, tidied up the links, made finding interesting entries easier and finally cracked what this blog is about (and what it's not). It has over 13,000 counted reads to date.
Looking back at some of my music projects I started and documented, I completed most of them and although changes to the importation rules on V.A.T taxation make importing some expensive to ship items like records difficult, I feel nonetheless I will be able to complete them.
I also have learned to be less concerned around the opinions of a vocal minority regarding what versions of a album to own and above all to enjoy the music as an end in itself not worrying unduly about what the waveform might look like or if the person who put this out is on a "approved" list of mastering engineers.
I intend to continue in making my own path involving you but notheless directed at what I find most satisfying be it music, fashion, anime or whatever.
I'll end by thanking the "G Plussers", the Angelic people, the regulars of the Audio Speakeasyand, Imwan plus Bone place, the crazy people of the Weird Persons Group(tm) at CR, Luna Rain and finally Muza_Chan for your contribution to my happiness this year.