Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Music I've been listening to.

I stopped doing "reviews" on here a while back when I realised some of my top read posts were title "Album review of..." and realised that maybe people were reading these confused I was a real critic.  Problem is, I'm not, I'm a fan therefore my reviews are somewhat biased from the word go as I've already probably spent my own money on the album - also ashamedly a few promoters, indy labels actually emailed me asking me to review their artists - I thought then - Hang on I'm not a professional should I really be risking an artists reputation with my blathering on.

Anyway now we're going to have occasional - "What I've been listening to" posts.  This is one...

Big Big Train - English Electric.  I'll mention this as it came out as two separate CDs and I latched onto after both were out.  It was I think a Spotify recommendation and normally I click one track and move on but this captivated me.  Now I'm an old school prog rocker at heart, as well as liking many other genres but prog is where the heart is, where the heart is there is prog - and this is spot on for me.  If you like old Genesis, early Marillion, Yes, Barclay James Harvest etc. you'll probably like this.  I mention it as the band have announced releasing both as a double CD package with an additional EP of tracks recorded in the sessions.

Jon Gomm - Secrets Nobody Keeps - hang on you say, this isn't released yet?  True but I was a "pledger" who stumped up his money early to help pay for the production and got an MP3 download into the bargain before his promotional tour starts.  Some stuff is already known if you have followed Jon's EP releases over the last couple of years but many new tracks to.  Super super playing and heart rending vocals - if you like Passionflower just pre-order it now!!  Gig review will follow soon as we're off to see him on one of his tours early dates at the weekend.

The Civil Wars - the eponymous titled sophomore effort from this stunning Americana/Country duo.  What a record!  This is darker, harder edged than The Barton Hollow d├ębut.  The singing is no less impressive, indeed even more so in many places.  But... but... they have already broken up, well at least they are not even speaking to each other currently - no wonder there was so much pain on the album.  I do hope they bury the hatchet and can work together in the future as this is just too good to be let go.

Black Star Riders - All Hell Breaks Loose.  It's 1976 and Jailbreak hits the turntable of our old stereogram at home, my brother had bought the album by that band who'd done "Boys Are Back In Town" and we were both hooked.  This album propels me back there!  Thin Lizzy have toured without Phil Lynott for some years, I saw a version with John Sykes in some years back, but they never recorded again.  Scott Gorham revamped the band after John Sykes left and this new band started writing material.  After some thought they didn't want to taint the Lynott legacy and so here are Black Star Riders - but frankly this sounds so much like a 1970s Lizzy album why did they?  Even Mrs F spotted in the first three songs saying "Is this an old Thin Lizzy album you've bought"...  No but it is the nearest thing you'll ever get.

Black Sabbath 13 - a good album by the reunited trio (minus Bill Ward, there is mountains to read about that feud if you want to) and it is a good album.  Not brilliant, a long way from as good as Heaven and Hell's efforts with the late great Dio and at times you cringe as Ozzy doesn't quiet make it and some of Iommi's rifts sound slightly too familiar.  To be honest I'm not sure why this made number one in the charts and probably more down on it following that than I would be if it hadn't.  That also says too much about what is missing in new bands sadly - or more about people not comparing new bands on face value maybe?

Deep Purple - So What!?  Now here is an album by one of rocks legends that does deserve to climb the charts, whilst Sabbath claim all the headlines with the feud, Ozzy back drinking and first album together since Never Say Die the Purple have been knocking out albums since they reformed in the 80s.  Blackmore had to depart and now is playing medieval ditties with his new wife and sadly Jon Lord who left a few years ago has passed away.  This album is dedicated to him and I know he'd be proud of that.  It has a couple of slightly cheesy up tempo tracks but when Purple are on song on the longer more progressive tracks they are simply superb.  Don Aiery fills Lord's boots with fantastic Hammond Organ sounds and Steve Morse is a brilliant guitarist but it is the rhythm section of Glover and Paice that provide the Purple backdrop for Ian Gillan to rise above.  There is a man who has not lost his voice.  Check out Uncommon Man as one of the highlights - terrific album, possibly my favourite of the year so far.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Medical emergencies, bad light and football woes

That sort of sums up the Bank Holiday weekend.

Son-of-Furtheron and his girlfriend arrived at ours on Friday evening for a brief one day stop over as they were scheduled to fly out of Heathrow on Sunday morning to attend a PhD Summer School in Budapest.  Why it is in Budapest is a conundrum that will keep some of the most intellectual brains in the world occupied.  It is being organised by a prof from Sheffield, everyone attending is from the UK and all their host unis and funding councils have now had to pay for flights and hotel accommodation to/from/in Hungary.  Go figure, why not host it in Sheffield using empty student accom?  Whatever, maybe the fact the Prof arranging it is actually Hungarian may have had some bearing on it...  I'll leave you to consider.

So after getting drenched in the rain fall down on Saturday when I popped to the shops for something on the way to Mother-In-Laws we spent the afternoon there topped up on tea and biscuits watching the Rugby Challenge Cup Final - enthralling match even if not a great one.

Sunday morning up at 5:30am to run to Heathrow, now that is the time of day to drive around the M25 frankly, no holdups at all and I left there with the students through into departures.  I got a text later saying "We have landed" - I thought, funny I thought they'd be there earlier than that.  My son called later to explain that as they taxied out at Heathrow the guy sat next to them who had been chatting away suddenly slumped forward and couldn't speak.  There followed a few chaotic and tense mins with paramedics called to the plane on the apron.  The guy had a severe stroke - only in his 40s - I hope he is ok now and on the road to recovery, I guess we'll never know.  My son and his girlfriend were praised by the crew for helping and given free champagne.  I think they were ok about it - but it is a shock when something like that happens in front of you.

Later on Sunday I realised that the Ashes test was heading for a dramatic conclusion, I'd given up on it after Saturday's wash out expecting it to play to a boring draw but after watching the feast of motor racing on the TV turned on the radio commentary. Fair play to Australia in trying to win the match by declaring early, even better kudos for England matching the run rate needed and slogging it back at them in an attempt to beat them too.  Sadly the farce with the bad light decision at the end was a disgrace - why can't we have the old rule of just offering the light to the batsmen, if they say they are happy to play on.. then play on...   Would England have won?  Who knows but it was a shame that we were denied that chance to see - also cricket is again getting popular then they do that - what a PR disaster.  If it had been a draw because they run out of overs I doubt people would have complained and Australia had just got Bell out anyway so were working through the England batting order.

Monday we trooped off to see Daughter-of-Furtheron's boyfriend playing football - he has moved up to the men's league this season, a significant jump for him, he is still only 17 but now mixing it with the big boys in the Southern Counties East League.  Sadly not a game to remember, they had some good spells on the ball, esp in the 1st half but lacked decisive attacks, one chance fell to our favourite (he is the centre forward) but sadly he couldn't connect.  The defence however did look shaky and only by a couple of excellent saves did they get to the break still at 0-0.  Second half the manager decided to change it up front early on and our lad was substituted but it went down hill after that and the 4-0 defeat was a bitter pill to swallow esp as they'd given away 2 penalties, become a theme of the defence this season and of course once a team is known for it other teams will exploit it.

So that was the end of the summer - well felt like it walking to the station in a cold clammy mist this morning.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Fantasy Signature Guitar

I got this from IHeartGuitarBlog who got it from the Seymour Duncan User Group Forum

Here are a set of questions to answer about your own fantasy signature guitar...

Q1: Which company called you?
Q2: Which standard model in their product lineup do you base your sig off of?
Q3: What specs do you insist upon that make it uniquely yours?
Q4: What other customizations do you make to the guitar?
Q5: What special piece of “case candy” goes with it as a collector’s item?

Right here goes...

Q1: Which company called you?
Fender

Q2: Which standard model in their product lineup do you base your sig off of?
Strat.

Q3: What specs do you insist upon that make it uniquely yours?
Ash body, rosewood fingerboard 12" radius, large 70s style headstock but four bolt neck joint. Non trem! Twin humbuckers, with tone and vol each and coil taps on the tone controls.

Q4: What other customizations do you make to the guitar?
Locking machine heads - not really needed but make string changing quicker in a live environment.
Schaller locking guitar straps buttons.

Q5: What special piece of “case candy” goes with it as a collector’s item?
Ernie Ball strap - the cheap one!  Just like Jimmy Page uses for his hugely valuable guitars!!!

For those of you who know me... this sounds like my Nunostrat... my home built twin humbucker Strat.




Alternatively ...

Q1: Which company called you?
PRS

Q2: Which standard model in their product lineup do you base your sig off of?
The discontinued CE22

Q3: What specs do you insist upon that make it uniquely yours?
As original spec when made but the pickup selector whilst still the knob only has 3 settings as I only use three!! Bridge pickup, Outside coils in Parallel and neck pickup.

Q4: What other customizations do you make to the guitar?
Schaller guitar strap locks

Q5: What special piece of “case candy” goes with it as a collector’s item?
Cheap Ernie Ball strap with strap locks fitted.


I've included this one as frankly it is really frustrating that PRS discontinued the CE range some years ago - I love it!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

When will I learn to live life in the moment?

I had a revelation last night driving home from one of my regular meetings. I'd listened to a good friend talk about his experience on the road into drunkenness and back out of it on recovery. He is a man who enjoys his life, by his own admission his is a bit of a loner and is off on a motorcycle ride to Austria on his own in the next few days. Once there he will meet up with others from a club and lead them on a ride through Slovenia where he once nearly ended up in gaol through his drinking. How things change?

There was one person in the group in the middle of a major turmoil in their life, a marriage breaking down, violence, money worries etc. After talking to them and then driving home I suddenly thought - hang on that negative projection they showed - that is what you're doing currently. That reflection on past events similarly - that's what you're doing.

I'm still in transition - in limbo between the working full time as I was until a few weeks ago to working part time and studying part time - the studying doesn't start until September anyway. Already I'm considering the financial implications of my decision, i.e. I earn massively less than I have done in years. However I have money in the bank that is earning sod all in terms of interest now it's become apparent interest rates will take years to return to anything about a fraction of a percent. So why worry... because I'm thinking "but in 20 years time I might have nothing left" - but in 20 years time frankly I'll probably be dead (all my close male relatives Dad, Granddads on both sides, Uncles etc. have all died before getting to 60 so statistically that isn't too outrageous a thought). But the point is I will have money tomorrow and the next day, next week, next month, next year. I'm lucky to be in that position anyway! Do I show the gratitude I should? No!

Yesterday was a reflective day - it was the anniversary of Mrs F's father passing away. We went out for the day, just not to be moping about indoors with her thinking about it. We ended up close to my old company where I worked for 19 years. We drove past. Large chunks of buildings not 25 years old are being pulled down as no-one has been found to buy up the old place. It made me sad and reflective of old memories etc.

So as a friend once said eloquently to me - "One leg in the future, one leg in the past. All you do is piss all over today"... You know that is very true I need to be more cognitive of the now, now is ok it is good but I run a risk of pissing all over it if I don't make the most of it right now.


Saturday, 17 August 2013

Squier Strat birthday

It has been remiss of me to miss this auspicious occasion!

On 8th Aug this year my Squier Strat has been a member of my family for 30 years.

When I bought it it was harking back on a golden age of guitars i.e. It was modelled on a 1962 Strat and was part of the leave the awful 70s behind us movement of the early 80s. Now you see people paying daft money for 70s Strats many were awful and this Japanese new comer blew them away.  Just cos a guitar is old don't make it good!! It itself is now much older than the age it echoed when new. However still Fender make many classic guitars on a similar theme to this day - the latest from Mexico have period correct finishes which this didn't being a modern more robust type.

I'd have to be desperate in some way now for this to ever leave me.  It is such a part of me even if now I use a PRS more.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Way down in Alabam'

Another obtuse 1970's lyric reference... Ram Jam from "Black Betty" - which probably is a song that no self-respecting label would put out now given it's colour references.  Anyway - the line before the totally off topic title of this post is "She's from Birmingham".   Luckily it was via my interest in music that I learnt there are (at least) two Birminghams in the world - one in Alabam' (sic) and one in the West Midlands, which I knew about already, Jasper Carrot supported the football team there that didn't do as well as Aston Villa.  Funny to look back on stuff like that but frankly that was probably how I really did learn stuff like that in that way.

So why is that in my head today?  Because Son-of-Furtheron and his better half have moved to said fair city to start the next phase of their lives PhD studentships!  They are both starting PhDs in the next few weeks, S-o-F will be commuting to Leicester and doing something to do with the magnetosphere of Saturn and his girlfriend working at Birmingham on Helioseismology.  They collected the keys and moved in yesterday.

So what does this mean for yours truly?  Well firstly I'm off in a van tomorrow to deliver a flat load of various goods, clothes, books, kitchen utensils, guitars, amps, surround sound systems, TVs, Computers... you name it I'll have it in the van!

Secondly this is it.  This is really him moving out - before he's gone off to uni but always kept the main base as home.  For example the surround sound was something he got as a present maybe 10 years ago or so for games, films, playing music through.  It has always stayed at home until now and it was carefully disassembled the other night ready for the move.  He will no longer have the long holidays when he'll be "home", now he'll pop in when he is "visiting".  Time to get used to a step change in our lives, even though this year of course he was fully away up in the Arctic for nearly 6 months.

Tomorrow will also be AS results day for Daughter-of-Furtheron which will guide the decisions about A2s and what universities she'll be applying to later in the year.  This time next year I'll be blogging about her (fingers crossed) getting the place she wants and then a month or so later I'll be telling you about moving her into her first university accommodation etc.  Well that is the expected plan and hopefully it'll all come together well.  But then it'll be mostly just me and Mrs F at home for long chunks of time.  I think our 4 bedroom family house might start to feel a little big for just the two of us.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Man Inside Review

I got a great review off a site called Red Label Reviews.  I submitted my album a while back but you know it has sat in the queue waiting, part of me thought, "Oh they listened to it and binned it" that negative self-defeatist bit of me.  But not a bit of it ... it got a really good review.

Read it here...

But here is the verdict section...

"Graham Hunt’s music is different in a good way. He clearly has worked well to add his own creative edge to acoustic music, by incorporating many different styles and techniques from other genres, yet keeping a firm acoustic feel present. For that reason, I highly suggest you check this album and his other music works."

Not only was it a positive review the selection of tracks they talk about in detail they have clearly listened intently and picked up on things I know are there either intentionally or simply by happy accident etc.

So please go and read the review and if you want to listen / download the album then go to my Soundcloud area where the album is available to listen and download... https://soundcloud.com/grahamhunt-1/sets/man-inside

Through this I've had contact via Twitter with a local store of a national high street music retailer and they have expressed interest in stocking my album in physical CD form.  All needs clearance from their management but it is a hopeful sign as well.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Holiday

Well away for a couple of days. This summer has turned out quiet hectic with Son-Furtheron leaving uni and moving also Daughter-of-Furtheron is working in the swimming school so we didn't plan a holiday. Mother-in-law needs to go to hospital later this week so in the end we're off to Hastings for a couple of nights. Oh the glamour! ;-)

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Okay I'm maybe the only person who remembers this...

The song referred to in the last post is this...





And here is a photo of the old lads singing it on the tv - sadly I couldn't find the legendary performance I remember as a kid. 1970 eh where's it all gone!

England team 1970 singing Back Home