Thursday, 28 November 2013

Charity Single Release

Dear all readers...

It is nearly Christmas - must be I've seen reindeer at the shopping centre.  Now some people are not having a good time Kenward Trust helps alcoholics and addicts to begin and sustain their recovery - they helped over 150 people last year in their residential rehab in Kent.

So listen to my new Christmas Single "On Christmas Day" here - then go straight to JustGiving and donate £2 - just £2 please to go to this worthy charity

Thank You

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Out bid


I got right back into Jimi Hendrix after watching that documentary I blogged about the other week.  So I have a Strat (my venerable old 1962 JV series Squier which is over 30 years old now) but seeing Jimi at the Isle Of Wight with the Flying Vee got me slight Vee obsessed for a few days.

I ended up searching for a viable "copy" option.  I came across the Vintage V60 - which is an excellent take on the Vee but with an interesting twist.  See the photo below.  Note that the bottom bout is a bit shorter, similar to the Randy Rhodes signature model that has spawned many modern copies. Also note the little lump to help it stay on your leg - actually that reminds me a bit of the Burns Flyte.  However it still retains very classic hardware set up.  I've seen variants of this model (black V60) as low as £135 - which strikes me as a bargain real bargain. My Vintage acoustics are both super instruments.

However fatally whilst trawling on eBay I came across a Graham Oliver version (the photo below) which is more like a '67 than a '57 and has better woods used, i.e. all mahogany.  It had a little crack in the finish so was a second from the importers.  So I bid.  And to within about 5 mins I was the winning bid!  Luckily I was outbid - to be honest I DON'T need another guitar and it was a frivolous few minutes and a warning to you all be careful when you see a bargain and think "I'll stick in a silly bid"... you might just end up winning the thing!

Thursday, 21 November 2013

great albums

I've been thinking on GREAT ALBUMS recently.  This has been due to me pulling out of the CD cupboard Steve Earl Copperhead Road - now that is just a blinding album. no duff tracks, Steve at his best songwriting and singing and playing. 


Living Colour - Time's Up
Fleetwood Mac - Rumours
Paul Simon - Graceland
Supertramp - Crime of the Century
Rush - Moving Pictures
Joe Satriani - Flying with the Alien
UFO - Strangers in the Night
U2 - The Joshua Tree
John Martyn - Grace & Danger
Yes - Relayer
Marillion - Season's End

All these albums - there are more out there too, but these come to mind are ones that when I dropped then on the turntable for the first time (apart from Time's Up which arrived on CD probably... Season's End was a cassette as was Crime of the Century possibly) and they just blew me away and I had to put them back on straight away.

If you don't know these do yourself a favour and try them out... also what are your list of Great Albums.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Gordon Smith Volumax and Blacklab Booster

Found this on the Gordon Smith web site.

Not only do you get to hear the very brilliant Steve Fairclough play you get to see his absolutely gorgeous 1981 Gemini - which he has had recently upgraded with the latest gizmo from Gordon Smith.


Now I'm wondering about a retro fit to my Graduate!!!

Friday, 15 November 2013

Dario Franchitti forced to retire

I have more than a touch of admiration for Dario Franchitti.  He without a doubt in the top 5 drivers to come out of Britain since the likes of Damon Hill etc.  Probably in the top 3 actually.  Now it is difficult to do a straight comparison as the people I'd put him up there with are Lewis Hamilton (1 F1 world championship), Jenson Button (1 F1 world championship), Dan Wheldon RIP (1 IndyCar title, two Indy 500 wins) and Alan McNish (3 Le Mans 24 hours, 3 ALMS series championships).

Alan McNish had a brief F1 career with Toyota which whilst the biggest budget possibly in the paddock never seemed to have a car and engine that could be regular podium let alone winner material.  But you could say Lewis and Jenson are better than him as they succeeded where he didn't maybe.  Dan sadly never really got an F1 break and did turn down a chance to be a test driver however Dario's record arguably puts him ahead of Dan as they fought side by side in IndyCar for a while.

Dario failed to get to F1.  He had a chance with the Jaguar team which later mutated into the all conquering Red Bull that has dominated the last 5 years in F1 but politics played a big part in him not getting the drive, even with accusations that the test he had was hampered deliberately by people inside the team with their own agendas.  Shame I would have loved to see him in an F1 car.

Today in the UK this story isn't even making the main broadcast, the retirement of an Indian cricketer being deemed more newsworthy. Which is a real tragedy as the guy has a record that is mightily impressive.  Just look at some of the F1 refugees who've gone to Indycar and not shined like Barrichello for example - there was a guy who just missed out on a World Championship only a few years before and he was running around mid-field.  The front guys in Indycar are very much as good as the front half of the F1 field. I was privileged to be at Rockingham UK in 2002 when Dario won the CART race there through a great drive and brilliant pit strategy.

So Dario I salute you, you went to the USA and took them on and came out a hero.  It is such a shame that in the last two years we've lost the two best Brits in the series with Dan Wheldon's sad death and now this.  Justin Wilson is doing a fine job and I hope he can step up and start to win like Dan and Dario did before.

The BBC have reported his retirement today.

Here is the reason why he cannot continue - his legs just can't recover from this one.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Two Brothers - Ben Elton

I'm revisiting this book having finished reading it yesterday.

I was really, really impressed with it.  It is a super read, challenging at times and not a light hearted jovial read but I thoroughly recommend it.

The scenario is two boys born on the same day in 1920. The same day the Nazi party was founded.  One was born a jew, but his twin brother was still born.  The hospital ask the Jewish mother if she would raise the second boy who is an orphan his mother having died in childbirth.  Two boys, one Jewish, one not but both being brought up in a Jewish family in the 1920s and 30s in Berlin.  Some of the book is written as a retrospective from the point of view of one of the brothers, the one that survives WWII in 1956.

Cleverly written which plenty of twists, some of which I did suss out but the book is no worse for that.  However being put into the shoes of these boys and their family and friends during those times has brought alive to me some of the horrendous nature of that atrocity.  It is also a book about love, the sacrifices some will make for love and the manipulation others will carry out in the name or love.  It is also reflects on how do you deal with the pain of resentment that injustice can bring to you.

I'm very lucky.  I'm male, I'm white, I was born in England and have lived here all my life.  I take all the freedoms and benefits I have just through those three facts about me which are simply luck of the draw very much for granted.  This book reminded me that should remember that gratitude more often.

Ben Elton comes himself from Jewish stock that fled from Germany during the pogroms.  He has links to family there still - so some of this he has based loosely on family accounts - that makes it all the more compelling as well.

I do totally recommend it... anyone remember the old Furtheron Thumbs Up Book Review (FTUBR) scale?  No ... not surprised... anyway... this is a double thumbs up with a grin and a "read this it is really good" - the highest accolade on that scale I've ever given a book.  Only Stuart: A life Backwards by Alexander Masters has bettered that!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Steve Rothery Auction's off one of his Squier Strats.

Steve Rothery - guitarist with Marillion is auctioning off a Squier Strat to raise money for a friend who has a brain tumour.

NOT the very famous black SQ series one with the large headstock and Kahler trem as used for many many years up to around Anorak etc. but an E series model with some mods on it.  But it is one Steve has used as a backup on tours etc.

Here is a video of Steve Demoing it.  As I write this the bidding has got up to £1,120.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Jimi Hendrix on the BBC

There was quite a good Jimi Hendrix on the BBC the other night that I recorded and got around to watching.

It did a good job of showing a little bit behind the image - the flamboyant showman on stage grinding his guitar into the Marshall stack or smashing it up after setting fire to it.  The famous scene from Monterey where he did just that with his psychedelic painted Strat was shown again for the millionth time.  But one good thing was showing the reaction of some in the crowd - he really shocked a lot of Americans that day.  I suppose from England where The Who and others had made obliterating your gear a bit of a angry young man statement a few years before it wasn't so shocking, in mainstream America then I guess it was.

Like I say though a few glimpses of the shy quiet man behind the image.  Also some great bits with Eddie Kramer talking about some of the recordings he did with the man.  Of course the legend lives on due to his untimely death due to a mistake with some sleeping tablets - Hendrix was not killed by a drugs obsession like some others and as many I think mistakenly still think he did.

I dug out and dusted off my old VHS copy of "Hendrix live at The Isle of Wight" one of the last gigs he ever played, the last on UK soil anyway just 18 days before his death.  On late in the middle of the night, sound and tuning issues but some of that stuff is sublime and you can see he was still an artist with a huge amount ahead of him, we should be grateful for what we've got.   I can't find but somewhere on my old blog I had a photo of me holding the very black Flying Vee he played on Red House, Dolly Dagger and Freedom in that set - it is at the Hard Rock Cafe in London and I luckily got to hold it on a tour of their vault some years back.

That's made me look at the Vintage V60 as a very cheap flying Vee!   My daughter just said "Dad you aren't Hendrix"... she is soooooo correct!  haha