Monday, 27 August 2012

Rod The Mod

If you were around in the 70's you could not of escaped Rod Stewart, the UK singer-songwriter responsible for many of decades top selling records but where do you start if you're not a rabid fan of his given many compilations have been issued in the passing decades most of which had cd re-issues?
I did have the 2004 Changing Faces set but it was mastered rather loud and my copy wasn't playing to well for some reason so a while back I did some investigations on what to replace it with.
At the risk of sounding like a boring old fart, I feel his best solo material was recorded for Mercury between 1969 and 1974 taking in such gems as You Wear it Well, Gasoline Alley, Reason To Believe and unforgettably, Maggie Mae.
While some of these albums have been re-issued by specialty labels such as Audio Fidelity and Mobile Fidelity, these discs will be dear to track down regardless of sonic merit  so I'd suggest most would be better of getting new a 3 cd set called "Reason To Believe -The complete Mercury studio recordings " having all the albums and some bonus tracks in a single inexpensive set.
For an overview of his career from the mid 60's to 1990 I feel there's one which is a complete no-brainer  and that's "Storyteller" as it does just that telling the story of Rod's music career over 4 cds that originally came out in 1990 costing a small fortune.
It was recently repackaged but keeping the notes and can be got from Amazon UK for £7.99 shipped. Although a few tracks from the mid 60's were sourced from records, most of this set sounds really good.
I would put this now above "The Story So Far - the best of" a 2 cd set issued by Warners in the UK in 2003 as Storyteller has more 'classic' Rod while all The Story So Far adds is some remakes and less essential tracks he did with Helicopter Girl even though I bought "Story So Far" on release.
Finally, Rod was an essential part of the Faces who emerged from the Small Faces and you simply have to have a selection of their rootsy bar music that included tracks like Stay With Me and Cindy Incidentally. Although there's a new double cd set due out in October which I hope to get, One that can be got cheaply and is very good is The Best of the Faces (Good boys ...while they're asleep).
Currently available on Rhino and priced at £2.99 on Amazon UK you really cannot go wrong with this single cd retrospective..

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Turn, turn, turn

Anyone who knows anything at all about me knows I've always loved the Byrds one of the most important American rock groups of the 60's and beyond not just for the individual talents within  the group in its differing lineups but the fact they got to what was new and hip before anyone else did, pioneering whole new musical genres such as Country-Rock that lead us to The Eagles and Poco.
I grew up on the UK import History of the Byrds double compilation lp which for its time give a well rounded assessment of their abilities and not a few hard to find vital 45's such as Lady Friend although in time I bought a number of studio albums plus the good if slightly flawed Original singles masters lps issued in the UK in 1980 and 1982 respectively supply all the singles with matching b sides. People remarked on the music I played at high school during that period as it was so different than anything they were familiar with.
Anyway in 1990 I was based in Surrey, just outside of London, when the news broke that a new box set of their work freshly remastered and even remixed in parts was coming out October 19th on CBS over here (the US edition was on Columbia)  which appealed not least because some of the  early Byrds cds although having the original mixes didn't sound so hot in this new format.
The set also content 6 new recordings made that year showcasing their talent even now.
 I remember saving up for it, intending to buy it in a store in Kingston Upon Thames only to find some so and so had stolen all my money so as I was short on funds for meeting my other obligations, I never got around to getting it.
I bought all the remastered individual cds from 1996 and 1997 that were issued  featuring many bonus tracks but still hankered for this attractively packaged set
Each disc is titled with its own cover art and there remains a good number of alternate mixes and material not carried over to the "There Is a Season" box set of a few years ago.
Fortunately I was able to track down an as new US copy used for a cheap price from a Amazon vendor which should be here in a minute.
I'm really looking forward to finally getting it.

We Have Ignition
1. Mr Tambourine Man
2. I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better
3. Chimes Of Freedom
4. She Has A Way
5. All I Really Want To Do
6. Spanish Harlem Incident
7. The Bells Of Rhymney
8. It's All Over Now, Baby Blue
9. She Don't Care About Time
10. Turn Turn Turn
11. It Won't Be Wrong
12. Lay Down Your Weary Tune
13. He Was A Friend Of Mine
14. The World Turns All Around Her
15. The Day Walk (Never Before)
16. The Times They Are A-Changin'
17. 5D (Fifth Dimension)
18. I Know My Rider
19. Eight Miles High
20. Why
21. Psychodrama city
22. I See You
23. Hey Joe

Cruising Altitude
24. Mr Spaceman
25. John Riley
26. Roll Over Beethoven
27. So You Want To Be A Rock 'N' Roll Star
28. Have You Seen Her Face
29. My Back Pages
30 Tim Between
31. It Happens Each Day
32. Renaissance Fair
33. Everybody's Been Burned
34. The Girl With No Name
35. Triad
36. Lady Friend
37. Old John Robertson
38. Goin' Back
39. Draft Morning
40. Wasn't Born To Follow
41. Dolphin's Smile
42. Reputation
43. You Ain't Going Nowhere
44. The Christian Life
45. I Am A Pilgrim
46. Pretty Boy Floyd
47. You Don't Miss Your Water

Full Throttle:
48. Hickory Wind
49. Nothing Was Delivered
50. One Hundred Years From Now
51. Pretty Polly
52. Lazy Days
53. This Wheels On Fire
54. Nashville West
55. Old Blue
56. Drug Store Truck Drivin' Man
57. Bad Night At The Whiskey
58. Lay Lady Lay
59. Mae Jean Goes To Hollywood
60. Ballad Of Easy Rider
61. Oil In My Lamp
62. Jesus Is Just Alright
63. Way Beyond The Sun
64. Tulsa County
65. Deportee
66. Lover Of The Bayou
67. Willin'
68. Black Mountain Rag
69. Positively 4th Street

Final Approach:
70. Chestnut Mare
71. Just A Season
72. Kathleen's Song
73. Truck Stop Girl
74. Just Like A Woman
75. Stanley's Song
76. Glory Glory
77. I Trust
78. I Wanna Grow Up To Be A Politician
79. Green Apple Quick Step
80. Tiffany Queen
81. Bugler
82. Lazy Waters
83. Farther Along
84. White's Lightning

From The 1990 Roy Orbison Tribute:
85. Turn Turn Turn
86. Mr Tambourine Man

The Nashville Session: New 1990 Recordings:
87. He Was A Friend Of Mine
88. Paths Of Victory
89. From A Distance
90. Love That Never Dies

A link is on the Favourites tab for Tom's Gene Clark blog (The Clarkophile) that I feel is one of the best music blogs out there.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Tv or not tv as we know it?

Isn't modern life surprising,eh?
Take Tv for instance in the UK we had four followed by Five free to air tv channels available by an antenna in the 1990's.
If you wanted more channels you'd either get cable which Cranford Central sure isn't an option or you'd subscribe to Sky TV a subscription based satellite service that provides packages which I had for several years changing from analogue to digital over that time.
The service wasn't bad, but it was expensive and you have to take all the subscription regular channels to get either sports or film channels. I wasn't in much to take full use of it.
I tried ONdigital which reception issues aside (believe you me I had to have the biggest most sensitive antenna fixed in the whole neighbourhood to get this part subscription digital tv via the antenna service with reasonable reception out here) wasn't bad as it gave most of the stuff I wanted at a reasonable price only to have it go in administration.
When the digital tv over the antenna service was reconfigured in 2002 to a very wide choice of free to watch channels from the likes of the BBC, ITV, Channels 4 and five, I stuck with that, just keeping the old sky box for a select few satellite only free channels I  watch downstairs.
Imagine my surprise then to find it was possible to subscribe to the sports channel British Eurosport which I missed entirely online in HD widescreen for a mere £2.99 per month and having now gotten decent fibre broadband I had a fast clean connection to make it work.
Plus connection permitting I can use it on a tablet PC via Wifi anywhere!
With that I updated the M$Silverlight to the latest version on the laptop having deleted the old one and immediately set up an account paying via PayPal cos I don't like handing my card details out if I can help it.
It really works so with a combination of two British Europsport channels (with extra one offs) streamed HD anime from CR and my free to air tv channels I'm getting just the kind of tv I like at a price I feel is reasonable.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

MPs need to grow up!

While most of the UK basks in its very impressive standings in the 2012 London Olympics being currently 3rd on the medal table, a different kind of a game is being played out by the politicians on the streets  of London.
There are two piece of legislation that the two parties in the Coalition want and each has something to gain from one but there's a problem with how it can be delivered.
The Tories want to reduce the number of Members of Parliament probably a good thing given how much is done in Europe and the Devolved assemblies of of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland but by changing the constituencies in way that generally favours them.
The Liberal Democrats want to 'reform' the second chamber - the House of Lords - by having nearly all the Lords elected for 15 year period because they believe that gives them a ' democratic mandate' to act.
The problem with this is simple: Ever since the 1909 Peoples Budget and the constitutional clash between the Lords and The Commoners, the Commons had the final say and the Lords was a revising Chamber where members with experience and no party system to make them vote along those lines examined and suggested improvements to bills and could introduce new bils but they had to go the the Commons for approval.
It worked well in practise even if the Lords weren't elected and some who were entitled to attend didn't  but Tony Blair MP as Prime Minister half reformed it, removing some lords and putting political appointees in living it in limbo and creating a Supreme Court usurping some of the Lords former powers.
Now the one thing Commoners do not is a House of Lords that says "We represent the people" and start to challenge directly them so many Tories and a good many others who aren't Liberal Democrats have made it plain they won't vote for this.
In a pique of childish  behaviour, the Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister has decided to block the changes in the number of MPs championed by the Prime Minister, Tory David Cameron.
To some as one who will admit to voting LD in the elections over here I find this stupid simple because of all the many pressing issues in modern Britain there's next to no interest by the public at large in changing how the House of Lords works. Actually outside of the Liberal Democrat supporters most would say they like it how it is.
If the Liberal Democrats had concerns about how the new seats proposed to reduce the number of MP's (and I can think of some affecting people near here ), then they should oppose them for those reasons alone, not childish tit for tac revenge.
Is there a grown up in the House of Commons?

Wednesday, 1 August 2012


HP wireless Lan on, that's a good start to blog I think sat in front of the laptop today.
Well, over here we're in awe of the Olympics with some events taking place in nearby Manchester despite all that London 2012 stuff, it's much wider than that and I'm thinking back to the first Olympics I recall watching, the '76 ones in Montreal, QE.
That takes me back to an artist who was jam hot back then, Diana Ross and specifically the 'Black Album' that helped rise the bar of  emergent disco with the classic Love Hangover seguing from soft soul to full on disco as well as tracks such as Do You Know Where You're Going To? and her cover of the Charles Chaplin song, Smile. Well recently the specialty arm of Univerrsal, Hip-O reissued it with alternative mixes and previously unreleased songs all freshly re-mastered on 2 cds.
That's no bad thing as a number of those early Motown cds do sound at best mediocre and some downright edgy and for years they've been the only ones on the market. This double issue of Diana Ross (1976) is a big improvement on the old 80's American cd and comes close to my original UK Tamla_Motown lp with more transparency and presence.
I also got a number of other titles issued over the years in this series by Hip-O although one - the Expanded edition of Last Time I Saw Him - is out of print on cd so I went to my favourite download store, 7Digital and bought a 320Kbps download of it. You don't have install any fancy software on your computer as you can get the 'Zip file' download option, and using the extraction tool built into Windows, extract to the Music library to ply or share with your digital music player.
I'll proceed to annoy the audio purists by saying in my opinion, the download did sound really good being better than a number of cds I've bought new!
The titles so far In I have are, Diana aka Ain't No Mountain High Enough, Everything Is Everything, Surrender including the UK#1 I'm Still Waiting, Touch Me In The Morning, Last Time I Saw Him (Her country flavoured set) and Diana Ross. I hope they tackle Baby It's Me as my old cd suffers from 'sticky top syndrome' being made by Nimbus here in the UK when this accident was common in the late 80's and I'd love to replace it.