Tuesday, 18 November 2014

CD Reviews - Uriah Heep - The Outsider and Blair Dunlop - House of Jacks

Uriah Heep - The Outsider. 

 I've passed by Uriah Heep over the years. I remember really liking Conquest back about 1980 and there last album had some good stuff on it but... The Outsider the first one they've done since long standing bass player Trevor Bolder. I gave it a listen on Spotify - I found myself repeatedly playing it so when my sister gave me an Amazon voucher for my birthday I bought the CD... I'm an old Luddite and still love to have the CD in my grubby mits!

 Just brilliant - great searing vocals, stomping drums and bass, super riffing guitar work and above it all a throbbing Hammond Organ! Yes part of the "Heep sound" since Ken Hensley was in the band and still brilliantly there front and centre. You can do what you like with synth patches and what have you but in great rock a Hammond just has such a great warm sound. The Opener Speed of Sound is a punchy jump to your feet rocker and that mode continues throughout. Is Anybody Gonna Help Me, Jessie and Kiss the Rainbow are other favourites of mine but there is no dud track on this album at all... buy it and ROCK!

 Blair Dunlop - House of Jacks. 

 Blair is Ashley Hutchings son. Who? Well if you are into English Folk Rock Ashley has been a legend for years with stints in The Albion Band, Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span. I love his last album and this is better! Great songs, well written. His guitar playing and singing are top notch throughout. Some of the songs deal with difficult issues like the albums first track and initial single release - Somethings Gonna Give Way - which is about a young lad persecuted at school, a traveller who ends up resorting to violence to make his mark. Dark stuff but well exectued. You can listen to the album on Soundcloud via Blair's site.  I urge you to.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Cover tunes.

Now if you're going to do a cover, make it your own.  I was thinking this when I remember this stunning song I first heard on Unleashed in the East and bought my leather wrist band and headbanged along with the faithful at Hammersmith.

Somewhat different from the original...

That's how to do a cover... :-)

Friday, 7 November 2014

What is sounds like

Here is the first appearance of the 12 string anywhere!

Really I was just trying it out after a bit of fiddling with the nut etc.

So - you'll hear all 7 sounds on a little motif from one of my songs (On Christmas Day) starting from bridge, then bridge and middle, middle, middle and neck, neck, neck and Bridge and all three on together.   Then a little noodle with me just playing about - middle position I think which I really like.  Direct into my little Boss BR-600 with a Roland JC clean amp patch.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Final Assembly

I've completed the final assembly on the 12 string.

First the string ferrules at the back.

Then the Tuners... so many tuners!

One minor mod, like all my electric guitars I've fitted this with Schaller strap locks - I've used these on everything for so many years now it is just a default for me.

Final wiring up.

Waiting for stringing.

Fitting the string tree and getting it strung up was one of the most challenging and stressful bits of the build!

Finally all strung up.  It plays!  The wiring mods all work.  It needs a lot of set up work, the g pair in particular are way out in intonation initially.  I need to look at the intonation, action, nut depths and adjust the pickups.   I'll let is settle for a day or so then have a slow look, might take one or two stabs I think.  Also I will finally restring with some better strings - those on it now came with the kit but I've bought some Ernie Balls which I'll use in the final set up.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Book Review - Ken Follett - Edge of Eternity

The last installment in Ken Follett's "Century Trilogy".  This whole series has been about showing the history of the 20th Century through the lives of intertwined families in the UK, USA, Germany and Russia.  The story shows the rising of the Berlin Wall and the descent of the Iron Curtain and how that broke up families in Berlin.  A Kremlin insider who manages to maintain his career from Khrushchev to Gorbachev provides great insight into the workings of the Kremlin.

This is a well researched and written book that covers the later part of the 20th century history expertly.  There is less emphasis on the UK this time around but no doubt due to the bigger story being the oppressive Soviet administration continuing to maintain its grip on power and the civil rights movement in the USA, the separation of Germany etc.  However that does miss a trick in telling the building of modern Britain with the NHS, university education opened for all in short the building of the welfare state which is to me a great triumph of post-war Britain.

The use of people's lives and how they interlace is a great technique to embroil you in the story so that when the Berlin Wall was finally let down you join in the excitement of the reunification of a country through a family.  That is where the book ends in Nov 1989 with the opening of the crossings in Berlin allowing free flow from East to West Germany.  However there is one epilogue into the 21st Century which reflects on the USA struggle with civil rights.

Frankly a good book if you like reading about people's lives and a great way to teach modern history - I recommend all three in the series for that from the class struggles of the early 20th Century in the UK through the slaughter of the first world war the inter-war years and and the rise of fascism the atrocities of the second world war, particularly the final days in Berlin and then on through the brink of nuclear war in the month I was born (Oct 62) to the dismantling of the Soviet Bloc.   Great read

The whole series is a two thumbs up 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

Gigs are like buses...

... they come along in packs.

I was asked back to play at the Coach & Horses in Strood at the last minute this weekend.  Really nice to be asked even if it was because a scheduled act pulled out a the last minute.  But I got a longer set time on this occasion.  I must have had a premonition as only a couple of days earlier I'd restrung the 12 string acoustic so was ready to use that and the Yamaha for a full set.  It was quieter this time around, no doubt due to it being the predominant "fireworks night" of the year so I expect a lot of people were at events as we would have been if I hadn't had the call Friday night asking me to play. 

I've also got a gig lined up early in December in Faversham supporting Wax Collector.  Looking forward to that one too.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Body finished

I've finished the body.  A quick rub down with 0000 wire wool and then a polish with my old beeswax finishing wax.

I've just test fitted the neck in these photos.  I'm going to leave it a few days for the finish to harden before starting to add hardware etc.

Really pleased with how it is looking.

One thing this kit (for the 12 string) was only available with a basswood body.  In retrospect I should have sanded it more with 250 grade paper prior to starting finishing maybe, or it maybe basswood is less "grainy".  Personally I'd prefer Ash which has a better grain pattern for me.  Pleased with the colour though