Sunday, 23 March 2014

Walter Trout needs a new liver

I’m combining for once guitars and alcoholism on here.

Walter Trout the renowned blues guitarist is currently in UCLA hospital in desperate need of a liver transplant.  He stated when news of the illness broke in the Blues Magazine that “It seems my early years of debauchery, lechery and partying has finally caught up with me.”  The latest statement says “Walter’s condition has rapidly deteriorated. His surgeon and team of doctors say it is a matter of him getting a liver transplant within the next 90 days or he will die.”

Now look at this picture… yes that is before and after and before Walter deteriorated to his current condition.

There is a campaign to raise money for his health bills and to support his family in this time.
I saw him once when with the Blues Breakers and have dipped into his music at times.  He is a great guitarist.  But this post is about what drinking can and will do to you if you don’t get sober and stay sober the statements above and the photos above say it all.   I wish Walter the best for the future.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Cover it better

Very often these days I'll hear something the radio or the TV and when my daughter says "I really like this" I'll say "You should listen to the original" and then dig it out of either my collection, Spotify, YouTube etc. to show her the difference between a performance with the passion of the writer often in it vs one just cleverly produced by the pop music factories that churn these things out constantly these days.

However the other day I was listening to a cover of Dear Prudence by folk band Lau.  Now I really like Lau but this one didn't cut the mustard as a cover for me.  However one did in the past so I wondered about my top list of covers, where I feel the cover is better in some way...

Here it is...

Starting with - Dear Prudence by Siouxsie And the Banshees.  I just love the guitar sound on this her vocal this really works so much better than any other version for me. 

Next - Mr Jimi Hendrix.  Ok I struggled and gave up - dear Jimi is to gets two entries. 
First up the song he burst on the scene with ... Hey Joe.  This is so far moved on from Tim Rose's original it is difficult to remember they are the same song and Jimi pours so much into the playing and the vocal...  "messing round, messing round town.  Give me a gun. I shot her"...

But we can't ignore his stunningly brilliant cover of Dylan's All Along The Watchtower - again... just stonking.  This doesn't sound out of date even today to me...

Now - the tears flow.  John Martyn - somewhere over the rainbow - just listen to his couple of opening lines.  He just blows this song to Mars and back - I love this, love him...

June Tabor and Oysterband - Love will tear us apart. Now the Joy Division original is something to behold from the start so therefore for this to blow me away so much says something - but it just does. Such a unique reworking and again - tears well when I listen to this. Just beautiful

Now lastly and extremely cheekily.  A couple of years ago an email dropped into my inbox from Nic Evennett who is another Kent based Singer-Songwriter.  Nic had heard one of my songs Golden Moments and done me the stunning honour of covering it - not only that... her version is just absolutely lovely and brilliant and golden where mine is tarnished brass in comparison.

Go here to listen to it... please and leave her comments about how brilliant she is.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Young gun guitarists mixing it with the elder statesmen

A couple of new tunes/videos from bands with new young guitarists.

First up Asia, who lost Steve Howe sadly last year after he admitted being in both Yes and Asia was too much for him - which was fair enough but odd give Geoff Downs had rejoined Yes and they were both in both bands seemingly I'd have thought that easier to arrange commitments - still.

Here is Valkyrie featuring new guitarist Sam Coulson a mere slip of a lad at 27 who was spotted on YouTube apparently.

Not bad similar to some of the recent Asia fair and a nice flutey sustained solo by Sam... but ... but... just not Steve Howe who is one of those people who is just for me special

Next ... well a new band called California Breed.  However you could say this is Black Country Communion minus Joe Bonamassa after is public bust up with Glen Hughes over not putting enough effort into touring and promoting BCC.  Derek Sherinian (keyboards) has gone as well being now a regular feature in Joe's recent touring band. This rocking trio features another young newcomer guitarist Andrew Watt (23 - bloody hell same age as my son!) who on the evidence of this first release, Sweet Tea, knows how to wring a classical rock sound and solo out of a P90 armed SG!  Small little bass amp set up for Mr Hughes there as well ;-)   Love his voice by the way one of the greatest rock voices of all time I think.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Book Review - The Farm by Tom Rob Smith

I've really enjoyed some of Tom Rob Smiths Previous books particularly Child 44.

This time he has moved on from Leo Demidov and the Russian setting of that trilogy.  This book is split between London and Sweden.  It is a very dark novel focused on themes such as death, lies and deceit within families, incest, child sexual exploitation and mental health problems. Not a jolly laugh a minute read then clearly.  However what it lacks in jollity it more than makes up for in terms of the way you are drawn into the tale.  Essentially you hear a story of a woman's concern for a young girl who is missing.  The lady has moved to a farm in Sweden only recently having sold up her business.  She is talking to her son after she flees from a mental institution that her husband has tried to have her committed to.  She has come back to London to her son who she believes is the only person who'll believe her.  She believes her husband to be complicit in the sexual abuse of young girls like the missing adopted daughter of a neighbour.

As I say it is very dark - if subjects like those I've mentioned are things you aren't comfortable reading or hearing about I'd avoid this book.  But as I say the story is well crafted with twists and intrigue all over the place and it was very difficult to put down, I was even reading it walking in the street at one point I wanted to know the next plot twist so much.  The climax is not actually what I expected or predicted either and is darker than I'd imagined or perhaps that was hoped I suppose.  A double thumbs up on the FTUBRS*

Also a  quick review of a very short little novelette by Syd Moore - "If on a Winter's Night a Traveller Passes By" - very short but well written this is a great scary little ghost story if you like that kind of thing.  Too short is my only complaint it'll take less then 30mins to read it cover to cover.  A one thumb up on 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 - I believe only yet awarded once!

Thursday, 6 March 2014

A lesson in many things!

Stupidity!  Don't be hasty.  Leave it to someone who knows... etc.

Ok My Gibson Les Paul Custom, which used to on the old blog at least and maybe here for a while be my banner at the top, has had to go to the menders.

Why?  Cos I was daft that is why.  I've filed a few nuts in my time, normally on my cheaper guitars or on the kit build etc. and in those cases all has been fine, a success.  I took my time, carefully noting what I was doing.  So one day a little while back I thought may be if I lower the nut slots on the Gibson some of the intonation issues on the lower frets will be fixed.  Good idea I thought.  I remember laying it down and thinking "This is a pretty pricey guitar do you want to do this?"  I went at it.  Stupidly I went just one or two strokes too far on the low E string.  It buzzed it rattled.  I was mortified, how stupid.  I did a temp fix with superglue and some dust off a spare nut blank but frankly what a numpty.

Nevermind I thought.  Buy a new nut blank.  I ordered one made with Tusq XL - which is a great material for nuts and saddles, my home build strat has it fitted for example.  I liked that idea since another of the Gibbo's quirks was that due to the angle of the strings through and over the nut the G string had a habit of sticking sharp after bending... Friday night comic's paradise this - "Hey Mrs does your G string stick after bending? Eh? Nudge nudge".    Tusq XL has some clever material in it that is all self lubricating (PTFE - I looked it up) ... queue the cheesy comic again...

The new nut duly arrived and I was going to fit it.  Then I realised that Gibson don't make it easy to say the least.  The nut is in a deep groove and they have finished over the top of it.  I took a couple of looks at it and thought "Don't screw this up".  I called DW Guitars of Maidstone, little dusty workshop tucked away in a back street in town.  I explained my issue and Dave there was more than happy to fit the Tusq one I had bought for £20 - £30 depending on how difficult getting the old one out was.  Given I had all the strings already off it and the frets needed a polish I asked him to do a quick set up as well and all told it came to £60, which in this day and age is value for money frankly.  He's done a really good job, admitting to me that getting the old one out was a real pain requiring him to actually break it and then machine out the remnants.  How glad I was now that I'd got a pro to do it I could have really bodged this one up completely.

So - great job as I say. Intonation spot on at the 12th fret and better than before on the lower frets although the G string is still a very small touch sharp on the first couple, but it is liveable and no worse than other guitars in my stable.  Also the Tusq is very impressive over the standard Gibson melamine one.  Less sticking, better tuning stability and I can't determine any noticeable change in tone.

Here it is back where it belongs...

Here is a couple of close ups of the new nut

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Off the peg .... or not...

I was doing my usual wandering around sites related to guitars on the web today.

Now let me be honest - Gibson, Fender, PRS, Ibanez and many other names will make people think that these are the pinnacle of guitar building skills etc.  And let us be honest they are great but they are pretty much all churned out by the dozen, hundred, thousand from factories with much of the work computerised etc. and you're buying the same as the next guy into the shop.

Let us take a Gibson Les Paul - the iconic Standard.  Today they are often more than £2000 a pop for essentially a bulk standard Standard - good guitars but £2000 a pop.  I came across this on Feline Guitars site.

Yes a custom hand made LP a like from a custom builder here in the UK.  Look at the neck joint - terrific. Crimson Guitars in Somerset recently featured them working on a LP standard where they were dropping in a tremolo and doing a neck mod like this - the picture below shows a hole they found you could lose more than one plectrum in!

So hang on... yes the guy had a £2000 guitar (maybe second hand etc. I'll accept) and then had all this done to it. But Crimson or another could have built from scratch - up to him but...

Seriously - looking at that Feline Lion I'm half tempted to sell my LP Custom and buy something like this - this one being already built not a custom order is only £1995.  Yes I know a lot of money but really compare that to Gibson and others prices for factory fodder...   hmm...

Crimson has this tasty custom Sigil on their site for £1975...  Different original UNIQUE! etc.

Entry Island - Peter May

I really enjoyed Peter May's Lewis Island trilogy.  His latest book has some links - a murder on a small remote island and a link to the Hebrides.  However the murder is on Entry Island which is a small island in the Gulf of St Lawrence in Canada.  Oddly Entry Island is the only English speaking island in the Magdalen Islands, the rest being French speaking.  When a murder occurs Sime Mackenzie is called in to help as he is an English speaking detective and he journeys out from Quebec to help interrogate the suspect(s).

Here is where the odd bit of the novel kicks in.  Firstly there is the thriller element of the murder investigation and the direct and side story issues with that.  But secondly this novel has a time slip element to it as Sime begins to recall some diaries read to him by his grandmother when he was a child about an ancestor of his who travelled to Canada after being evicted in a clearance on a Hebridean island in the 19th Century.  Now Sime firmly believes some form of connection between him, his ancestor and the prime suspect in the murder.

The unfurling of the murder investigation - where everyone believe the wife did it and don't really look for any other motives other than she was a woman recently scorned by her husband and the life story of Sime's ancestor is really intriguing.  Well written - I didn't get who the real murderer was until the final reveal or the reason.

Really good book - definite 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 - I believe only yet awarded once!