Sunday, 27 May 2012

Passing through

While continuing  with this walking thing and enjoying the sunny weather over here, I saw this so took a photo.
The narrow boat on the right was just coming in as I stood holding the shutter ready for 'the moment. With my old analogue SLR it was always screwed down tight to a tripod and pre-framed focussed by hand.
I've left the exposure as is as I can't see any need to tweak this.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

It's a bright May afternoon

I had a totally different idea for this entry yesterday but my ISP for the 700th time went down for several hours so I thought better of it. As soon as BT Fibre up this area I'll switch to them even if it needs a wifi add on for this PC  and some work in the hallway to fit the gear. I've had enough of my current provider. (rant)
I've spent part of the week listening to the classical composer Britten specifically his Spring symphony, Five Flowers Songs and the War Requiem  in performances conducted by John Elliot Gardener following a discussion in a classical music thread elsewhere. Britten never did the most commercial thing  with much of his output being as far removed from so-called 'Pastoral' English music following Vaughan Williams and Walton.
Although they are 'challenging' structurally I enjoyed the experience of hearing them for the first time.
Also Phil Collin's But Seriously gold AF cd came this week and it sounds great well worth the $16 plus shipping I paid for it.
I've also been walking rather a lot  not just cos the weather's been better but also I felt a bit stiff getting into a vicious circle of to hard to move so don't move, so even harder to move.
I'm purposely not setting targets, creating schedules or anything that may make it seem like a chore or worse still, remind of you school PT instructors barking instead I'm incorporating walks into everyday activities by extend the stroll to the corner store or just taking off any old how  for a mile or two whenever  I get a 'wanna be outside running around' feeling.
So far in I've lost five pounds without making any diet changes and more importantly can do a mile without feeling tired.
Now to root out my Roxette cds and set controls to 11!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Whisper in your ear!

This entry is having to be prepared in Notepad(tm) as throughout today my internet has been flipping itself off just at the moment when you've typed a well thought out comment and hit 'submit'.  Most frustrating.
Frustrating also is when HMRC decides to apply VAT on a item posted in the European Union  which realy isn't ment to happen however I feel they often make up the 'rules' as they go along.
Anyway to business and matters soulful.
In 2002 apart from the Shalamar reissues I once talked about Sanctuary who own the UK rights to the SOLAR back catalogue decided to start a complete Whispers reissue campaign which got me interested as someone who did like this soul groups music having bought both the 1994 30th Anniversary set and 1999's And The Beat Goes On 2 cd compilation albums.
For reasons that I honestly can't remember, this 8 cd series laid incomplete in my collection as I think I'd started at the end(!) probably because my original cd of 1987's Just Gets Better In Time had gone all sticky in the way many cds made by Nimbus in the UK during that period were prone to and I was thinking more about getting a  replacement.
In time I did get "The Whispers" famed for the smash hit And The Beat Goes On as well as My Girl coupled with 1987's seasonal album Happy Holidays and Imagination from 1981 with its smash It's A Love Thing coupled with This Kind Of Loving from the same year that suffered from the same fate as other albums on SOLAR at this period little promotion as the distribution deal was changing. A few years later I found the second disc in the series Bingo-The Janus Years which as the name suggests covered all the material recorded for Janus Records  a division of Chess featuring the Bingo album and a favourite song  by them of mine Mother For My Children from 1974 but that was it.
Recently I've finally get around to completing it aided by something I didn't have back then - Amazon - although quite a number of these discs are discontinued with single cds versions still available new from Unidisc of Canada.
The Whispers story on album begins around 1969/70 and the Soul clock label so I picked up 'Planets Of Life the Soul Clock recordings' because apart from that album you do get the other non album 45's which set the scene for the moved to Janus from 1972 through 1974. A word of warning the Canadian cd doesn't have the title track and the German is poorly copied from a lp with lots of filtering to hide crackles etc.
From Janus they moved in 1975 to Soul Train a label created by the people behind the legendary Soul Train black music tv show releasing One For The Money (also a 45) and Open Up Your Love from 1975 and 1976 respectively.
1979 saw the release of the acclaimed Headlights abum a favourite of mine a with it's singles (Olivia) Lost and Turned Out and the 'quiet storm' Lets Go All The Way which in this series is coupled Whisper In Your Ear featuring the single Can't Do Without Your Love. These were the first albums they issued on the SOLAR imprint.
Finally we get to 1981's Love Is where You Find It featuring In The Raw as well as Emergency, one of the first albums to have a uptempo dancing and slow romancing side configurations which for this series is coupled with 1983's Love Is Love released during a period of very rapid change in R&B  music as electro and rap was making its way into the mainstream.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Down with Austerity!

Okay, I could easily write about other stuff here in this Blog, really I could and I have something altogether different in mind for next week but it seemed when I woke up this morning to make more sense to continue with  what we were talking about last week.
Well, Austerity it would appear isn't terribly popular with the voters when one looks at the results of elections either here in the UK, France or Greece although apathy was the biggest winner of all underlining that disconnect between politicians and people.
In the UK some but not all Council elections place and the governing parties (Tory and Liberal Democrat) lost over 800 seats with most areas offered Elected Mayors rejecting the offer outright in referendums with the opposition Labour Party being the big winner.
Depressingly so much of the talk was less about local politics but more on National issues which local councils have little or no say over, so much so that in some respects it was more like an opinion poll on that rather than the proper business of what and how the Council should be doing for its citizens.
To that extent, we can say most appear to disagree with at least how the "Austerity" is being implemented with a strong feeling some are more in this together compared to others (The rich, bankers, corporate chair people etc.).
People see pay cuts, job loses, increasing prices, reduced public services and others doing well thank you from it and say NO!
The anti European Union party UKIP doubled its vote underlining this countries schism with Europe I wrote about over a year ago and probably not helped being asked to pay for another currency blocs mistakes when your own are experiencing sharp cuts in the standard of living.
People here expect it it's a matter of time before the Euro implodes.
The French had a Presidential election resulting in Mr Hollande the socialist winning on a rewrite the Euro stability agreement ticket which didn't go unnoticed by the Gerrman Chancellor Mrs Merkel who has issued a warning shot already of this although he's a clear mandate to seek it.
The Greeks bless 'em had a General Election that saw the Socialists and Conservatives lose to more left wing and even Fascist parties but with a twist. They as of now can't appear to form a coalition and any coalition is very likely to reject the terms of the next financial bailout because that was the overriding message of the voters.
The result genuinely shocked the financial institutions who didn't realize how unpopular the measures agreed between Greece and the reminder of the Euro zone really were on the ground.
It would be inconceivable any new Greek government would cave into to demands  to honour it so it looks likely Greece will default and at some point have to exit the Euro adopting a new currency which may not be a bad thing for Greece but as the Euro was at least as much about politics - one bloc united by a common currency and economies - it's the one thing others especially Germany not would wish for because it would leave the door open for Spain, Italy and even Ireland to follow suit.
The patient indeed doesn't like and refuses to take the medicine prescribed.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Political reflections

I've been spending the last few weeks watching a series on England's BBC2 tv channel about the 1970's after which there has been a series called sounds of the 70's 2 of half hour programs looking at one type of 70's music.
In some respects the present time reminds me of the 70's as for one thing we seem to be stuck  in a stagflation (rising prices and diminished economic growth), we have  Queens Jubilee like we did back in '77 and government is making all manner of cuts (and then panicking when some unfortold event happens because of them).
The one thing I say was different though was the contempt people hold politicians and the political system in is at a record high something not helped by the intermeshing uncovered between the two main parties and News International the global media concern that owns a large chunk of the UK newspaper market and the popular pay tv service BskyB.
Effectively News International was allowed to get way with phone hacking and widescale breeches of UK law because the political parties owed so much to them they didn't wish to upset them.
Then there's Jeremy Hunt MP who thought it was perfectly in order while sitting in a quesi-legal way over allowing News International to buy a majority shareholding in BskyB to argue in News Internationals favour, receive lavish hospitality, give one sided advice to them.
That was never right as anyone who has had to carry such task knows and a clear breach of the Ministerial code he'd agreed to and yet the Prime Minister gets into a right hissy fit in parliament when the opposition make the point.
This Thursdays local elections may prove most interesting....