Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Seven days to go

Okay it's the four yearly pantomine season otherwise known as the General Election where people who generally speaking haven't done a real job proceed to tell everyone how they can so make everything better for those of us who have.
Thankfully we're not a republic and don't have an elected chamber of the second rate too otherwise we'd be having this carry on year after year at public expense and it does my head in as it is!
So why hasn't the major been the attack week in and out?
Simply because I've been looking at what everyone has been saying from the build up to the finally week, from the choreographed to the seriously off message for a reason to vote any of their representatives in this part of the Midlands  and how much I've seen of them in person.
To me the most focused Leader was Nicola Sturgeon but as her party, the Scottish Nationalists doesn't put up candidates in England I can't support her despite  my views on the European Union.
To me the face of the Tories is a smugness that's so obvious when the member for uptown Tatton grins just like a Cheshire Cat as the terminally ill under his government get found fit for work and die days later, whose response to the shorted of affordable housing is to sell off Social Housing to give the less well off (even in work) less of the chance of a decent affordable rent property and to be talking of cutting payments to disabled people and their carers. Times are difficult, we know money is tight but it wasn't the above who created the deficit  it was the previous government and the gamblers in the Banking sector.
Labour, the party of traditionally the downtrodden dare not even say they are for people on welfare even though that includes in work payments for fear of being linked in the right wing press to shirkers and want to just have a few less cuts from, yes the Tories.
The Liberal Democrats have some good ideas but their very pro-european union ideas just don't cut it in this area.
For me the United Kingdom Independence Party comes the nearest to ticking the boxes because I really think we need less government with more real focus on what and why it does what it does.
We need a party that unashamably for Britain and for all Britons regardless of race, religion, gender or disabilities and our interests that is prepared to spend more on our defence.
Many of us feel strongly we agree with co-operation with our European neighbours trading with them freely but do not wish for more governance at that level with all it's paperwork and blanket law making feeling those things are best decided and written by ourselves.
Ukip also came out strongly in favour of reforming the so-called welfare reforms that have impacted badly disabled people and the so-called bedroom tax as well as fuelling a negative anti disabled attitude amongst people at large.
The forging of some those shameful changes lies in Labour under Brown and Blair Premiership and their policy people so for me voting for them wouldn't alter that.
Ukip also oppose the HS2 rail proposal that is not really needed and where money would be well spent on the railways their are better options aiding the whole of the UK.
There is nothing wrong with immigration and indeed some of us were immigrants but it really needs to be managed so only those who can and are prepared to contribute to the UK are here and we are able to provide the facilities such medical care, health, education and housing that they need.
Accepting those who seek asylum is something as someone living here by choice I'm proud of but in doing so we need to ensure those people are prepared to integrate into our way of life like many of us did and we need to be careful not to allow those who would undermine our sense of security to come with them with their terrorist ideals.
I feel on balance Ukip are more honest about these needs than the three main UK wide parties.
I know where my cross is going next week.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Hermans Hermits are back

I'm not feeling to great at the moment due to a particularly severe Migraine  which has left  it hard for me to pull things together but recently I ordered a couple of double cds one of which has already arrived and another is due very soon here
Hermans Hermits  tend to be seen as also runs after the Beatles, Stones and the Who, not really troubling the world with their perfect boy next door delivered Pop such as A Must To Avoid but for a period were up with the Beatles in the States when it came to sales and personal following.
In 2014 BGO issued four UK albums freshly remastered by Andrew Thompson who did the Hollies twofers a few years back I liked.
While the first was a more a setlist cut in a few days, the others cover such songs My Reservation's Been Confirmed, Rattler and It's Nice To be Out In The Morning and for a period I had the third album There's A  Kind Of Hush loving the songs on the original UK Columbia lp.
The forth was soundtrack repeating two previous hits but has some excellent songs some of which are in stereo.

Earlier this year the Bear Family in Germany in association with Warners who have the right to parts of the EMI catalogue put out a two disc compilation that has a lot of previously un issued in stereo versions of songs carefully remixed by Ron Furmanack as much of their recordings were only mixed to mono back in the 60's.
Each disc is over 80 minutes and while I can't see it supplanting both volumes of the now deleted Best of EMI years cds from 1991/2 which remain the last word as compilations go for material and sound quality, it is a welcome set.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Are you blue? (Bluetones)

On a bright sunny and distraction free morning I felt like working on this weeks blog entry.
For me one of bright spots of the 90's was a whole raft of British rock bands which reenergized the music business, getting youngsters into stores buying albums and singles as well as attending concerts .
I was well placed to observe this first hand being in the UK at that time and near a university city with lots of music fans who I hung out during lunch breaks with although I was by this point working.
For me outside of Liverpool's Cast, Hounslow's Bluetones held more of a fascination for they played more bluesy rock with well drawn, sometimes quite cutting lyrics looking at people, personalities and relationships.
One their singles they issued often quiet experimental material that wasn't incorporated into their albums and this lead me to track down the deluxe edition of the 2006 A Rough Outline singles collection as it held all the a  and b sides of their singles during this period and even a number of the A sides never made it to albums issued at the time.
The deluxe edition contained an extra disc of b sides in a card slip around cover making this a 3 cd set.
Also recommended studio albums:
Expecting To Fly (1996) -own on lp
Return to the Last Chance Saloon (1998)- very much Tex-Mex influenced
Science and Nature (2000)
Luxembourg (2004) 

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Getting the best sound for the Dollar

If you hadn't noticed, things over the last 18 months have been changing when it comes to portable digital audio players (D.A.P's) with many people using that Swiss knife of a device, the Smartphone, to play music from while searching the mobile net and texting.
Thing is it's not really designed to get the best sound from your recordings even if an increasing number do better quality lossless files while at the other end of the scale people like Astell and Kern sell very high quality dedicated players from approx £700 upwards and players like the much talked about Pono somewhere in the middle.
Really cheap players are either very limited in terms of capacity and file types or are comprised by cheap electronics when it comes to the sound.
The enterprising Chinese company Fiio launched toward the end of last year a cheaper player from the much liked X3 (a newer version of which is out soon) for around $100 and recently I got one discounted to GBP89.00 (the UK is expensive for electronics).
The first shocking thing to say is it has no internal memory but as micro sd cards are so cheap at around £21 for 64Gb's and may have some from your older player, it's no problem and this play takes upto 128Gb cards which is quite something when it comes to capacity.
Unlike the original X3, this player uses a scroll wheel with a centre okay button for selecting things such as your music, formatting to FAT32 cards over 32Gb, engaging gapless playback for albums where tracks run seamlessly into each other and so on.
Unlike the X3, the player can't be used to output files directly via a computer to a stereo and the battery capacity is a bit less but is appreciably cheaper.
What it does do is play everyday 'lossy' downloads from the likes of Amazon, 7digital and iTunes Store as well as the higher quality lossless (Flac) ones INCLUDING 24 bit better than cd quality ones of which a increasing amount  of new and older recordings are being made available to buy.
Because this player has the option of either using its own high quality headphone circuit or a dedicated line output for a high quality stereo, such files can be fully enjoyed at home and on the move.
It takes around 2 hours to charge the battery using a 1 Amp or higher USB charger ready to set up ready for use from new using the supplied lead.
I find it an easy to use player use although you need to 'index' the card every time you change it for another to use things such as searching by artist, song or playlist.
While it's quality isn't quite as high as the X3 using headphones, it is a lot clearer with better fine details and dynamics  from anything around this price point bettering the various Sansa Clip models and smartphones.
If you're looking for a cheap upgrade for player with more potential for memory expansion, better sound and the ability to use higher quality downloads it can be recommended. 

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Easter greetings

Happy Easter folks!
Just eating a Easter cupcake with a chocolate top and two small chocolate eggs here from Cheshire's leading independent bakery no less.