Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Book Review - The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

What a terrific read!  A stunning first novel from Paula Hawkins.  Written as though sort of diary entries from a series of women mostly our heroine Rachel it describes the events before, during and after the disappearance of a young wife one Saturday night.  Rachel is the central character who used to live in the same street as the woman who disappeared and has come to "know" her through seeing her from the train every morning as she passes by on her way to London.  When the woman disappears Rachel becomes embroiled in trying to identify the person who has abducted her.  A really good page turning thriller that introduces the characters and events via some time hopping and perspective changes and continues in the early part to make you continually want to find out what fills in the full picture.

I'd totally recommend this book.  It is very close to my top accolade on the FTUBRS* (i.e. with a grin) and only just misses out as just towards the end I'd pretty much figured out the reveal of the killer.  If that had been a surprise it would certainly have got it.   It also gets a huge recommendation from me as poor Rachel is divorced, jobless and unable to tell her flatmate she has lost her job so commutes to London still each day to look normal.  Rachel is also an alcoholic (not something I knew before selecting to read the book I saw it had some good recommendations and was compared to Gone Girl so decided to try it).  This is in my humble opinion the best characterisation of an alcoholic I've ever read other than when billed as a self-penned memoir.  It so brilliantly describes the battle, the fear the blackouts etc.  Superbly researched and written.  So, only because of the ending, a clear and huge Two Thumbs up on the FTUBRS* - actually with half a grin... (my scale my rules... I can break them).  If you have an Easter break planned and want some reading material - pick this up as you leave you'll not be disappointed.

I also recently read John le Carre's Our Kind of Traitor.  OK not one of his best, but an interesting yarn with some good characterisation but the ending was a little flat.  It seemed to end all to suddenly and with something that was a bit predictable a bit before hand.  It centres on an academic and his girlfriend who go on a tennis break at a resort in the Caribbean and there meet a larger than life Russian character with his large extended family.  Soon he ropes them into a spy woven intrigue tale which you see largely through their eyes and their feelings and thoughts.  Worth a read.   A two thumbs horizonal on the FTUBRS*

* Furtheron Thumbs Up Book Review Scale - 
lowest is both thumbs down with a frown
two thumbs down, 
one thumb horizontal,
two thumbs horizontal, 
one thumb up, 
two thumbs up 
two thumbs up with a grin - very rarely awarded

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Brits 2015

I'll be honest I gave up having any interest in the Brits years ago.  The whole thing is a rubbish excuse for a load of people to trot out the same gushing acceptance speech or one of the enfant terrible of the day (Oasis, Arctic Monkeys) to dismiss the award (which they are still there picking up you notice...) and then ruining a perfectly good Shure mic by throwing it to the floor in an act of rebellion (emphasis on the act) that a 60s Townshend or 70s Vicious would wet themselves laughing at.

Today this article from the Guardian appeared in my news feed.  If you can't be bothered to read it it is titled.
"If James Bay is getting a Brit award, is it time for us to shout ‘not in my name’? "

The author claims " I’ve never met anyone – anyone – who has ever said they liked James Bay." Well I think he is ok - quite good actually so I'll go into the bracket that likes him. Then they go on about Adele, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith being "The New Boring".  Ok they may not be driving musical frontiers forward but then when did Robbie Williams ever do that?  He holds the most Brits ever I believe.  Oasis who in my humble opinion never wrote an original tune in their career everything sounding like something I'd heard before often swaggered up in the old days to stick two fingers up (not really) at the industry that gave them luxury houses and cars and a bar bill to envy Oliver Read.  Is the point of The Brits to showcase new avant garde genres?  I've never seen that before - I think the first ever Brits single of the year was Gerry Rafferty's Baker Street - good song, blinding guitar and sax solo but really... not exactly ground breaking other than many subsequent hits in the following few years gave good session fees to Alto Sax players.

I listen to Ed Sheeran and Adele, less Sam Smith but I can't deny in an industry where just making a living is getting harder for performers these people still "shift units".  Sam Smith is the only artist who in 2014 sold a million units of his album in both the UK and USA.  It may not be new or clever but if he is the only one to have done that it does tell you that it is popular.

So I'm confused as to what the point of the article is about.  The Brits never were this radical entrepreneurial showcase that the author seems to aspire to.  To be honest if you listen to the early evening Radio 2 slots - Blues, Folk, Jazz I'd wager you'd hear more originality in those "old genres" than an entire day of listen to Radio 1 - which I can't do any more if I'm honest I just have to turn off before long.  I'll point any readers to False Lights a new folk rock band who use samples in a new and innovative way for that style.  But... I can't see them ever being in a hundred miles of a Brit award ceremony...   But they may well get a "Furtheron" in 2015 for their efforts.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Let there be ROCK!!!

To be honest for sometime I've been stuck in a bit of a rut musically speaking.  I've not written anything new for an age.  I've some ideas that have been bobbling but unable to get solidified.  I did some gigs at the back end of 2014 and whilst ok they weren't a stellar success with legions of new fans flocking to join my barmy army of fans.

To put it in the vernacular - "My mojo ain't working."

What to do about it?  In the end I've gone back to something I've not done in a long time.  I'm learning on in many cases relearning a bunch of rock songs on electric guitar.  Thin Lizzy seem high on the list - Emerald, The Rocker, Whiskey In the Jar.  Robin Trower - Victims of the Fury... UFO Doctor Doctor.  Marillion Kayleigh

and you know what?  I'm loving it.  I'm enjoying picking up the guitars and plugging them in.  I'm bending to my pedal board and fiddling to try and get the delay just right.  Seeing if I prefer the compressor/sustainer to be used as a drive pedal to push the amp a bit harder for the saturated sound vs a drive pedal.

No idea where this will end up - or whether six months from now I'll regret losing all my solo acoustic pieces out my brain like I've lost many of these ones that I used to know well but whatever... I at least have enjoyment back in the music room and that is all that matters at the moment.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Joe Cocker Now That The Magic Has Gone

I was thinking about Joe Cocker - sad sad loss a while back....   Then found this.  It features one of my great unsung heroes - John Miles - of Music will be my first love fame in the 70s.  John actually wrote this song.   Here he adds some of the best guitar work you'll see anywhere to Joe's incomparable vocals...  just a magic performance all round.  Enjoy...

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Revolution Saints - Turn Back Time (Official / 2015 / Deen Castronovo, J...

I have to admit that when a teenager whilst I could just about admit to my secret pleasure of Yes, Genesis etc. and Rush were acceptable to many I had to hide my liking of Boston, Journey etc. That was "that rubbish American AOR" in most of my friends eyes as we lived the the NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal - Iron Maiden, Diamond Head, Saxon et al.)

Whitesnake were seen as one of the great bands then with their bombastic blues rock before they went all hair metal in the 80s. Whitesnake have been revitalised over the last two albums largely by Dough Aldich on lead guitar and main writing duties. Sadly he decided to leave the band last year due to other commitments. Here is one of them the initial cut from the pending Revolution Saints album... and my AOR love is back to the fore... this is a great track - enjoy

BeatBuddy.... Initital thoughts

I've seen a bit of a buzz about this new pedal recently. I like the concept - if you are a solo or duo musician I think it may be a great answer to controllable good quality drums on stage - with some flexibility if you want to improvise - maybe make a solo longer etc. The video is the demo by the creator of it.

Impressive ...  Nice guitar Dave too!  ;-)

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Gary Moore

Do you know it is just over 4 years ago since Gary departed....

Here is one of his last performances and his most well know song just blown away....