Friday, 23 May 2014

Book Review - A Casual Vacancy JK Rowling

I recently read and reviewed the first of the Robert Galbraith novels which is now JK Rowling's pseudonym for her thriller novel series.

A Casual Vacancy was her first modern novel and it appeared in my "Kindle offers for you" list, clever old Amazon target marketing.  It was cheap so I decided to give it a go, and I'm glad I did.  It's a good read.  Not a pleasant laugh a minute read this is actually a novel that deals with a variety of hard hitting modern life issues.

Set in a fictitious West Country village the title and plot is centred around "a casual vacancy" which is a vacancy created on a parish council when an incumbent councillor dies.  The vacancy caused by the sudden shocking death of an active councillor.  This brings to the fore long standing concerns over some boundary issues with the nearest large town.  There are factions that want the "problem area" an estate with considerable social deprivation, drug addiction and associate child care etc issues out of their ideal village and all the problems removed.

The various characters interweave their lives into this plot and much of the nastier side of people's personalities are shown - the barely concealed racism, the despising of those less fortunate without the knowledge of the issues they face etc. etc. Drug dependence prostitution, teenage sex and pregnancy are all dealt with in a hard hitting way.

It was not a jolly read but a good one and the ending whilst offering some hope wasn't the happiest of endings.  But I'll give it a definite one 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

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Some others tracks from Rochester Music Cafe

Firstly - Hey Jude.

I'd hoped to mix the Beatles and Wilson Pickett version - not sure we managed that but... hey ho..

At least I'm visible in this one LOL!

And a couple more I played on... Happy and Shackles.  I'm not visible thankfully some of you may say... but I'm there playing away.


Thursday, 15 May 2014

Rochester Music Cafe - Going Gospel

Ok I make no comment on the camera work... it isn't like I'd asked for anonymity or anything... LOL.

Anyway - one of the recent songs from a "Go Gospel" night at the Rochester Music Cafe.  The singer (Damien) threw a curved ball 4 days before the performance of "Hey let's do this one..."  So presented with not screwing up a Jeff Beck version of this!   I was quiet happy with the outcome, we could have done with a rhythm guitarist or a keyboard player but still wasn't bad.  Let me know what you think.

Once the others are up I'll post them too.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

10 Years

A bit of dual posting here... but since this blog has been a big part of my sobreity blogging I'll double up here and at my other blog.

Can you believe today marks my 10th sober anniversary? In someways it feels like more than that, a lifetime in fact in other ways it seems like only yesterday I finally said “I need help”.

10 years! I won’t repeat it all here read my drinking story on this blog or an updated drinking story and recovery story over at my other home if you want to.

What I would like to say the most huge thank you to the nurse who suggested rehab, the doctor who assessed me, all those that worked in the rehab, all the friends of Bill W who I have met and who have helped my journey and all those I’ve never met but whose spirit keeps me sober today. I love you all!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Strat influences...

If you have read this rambling tome of a blog for any length of time you'd know that electric guitarwise I'm more likely probably to pick up a guitar with humbuckers in it than a single coil.  A Gibson man more than a Fender man I suppose.  To this end the collection features my Gibson Les Paul and the Gordon Smith Graduate 60 that adorns the banner of the blog currently, my PRS CE22 (yes with all the switch options but still more Gibbo ...) and a Peter Cook Axis Custom all mahogany and humbuckers - more SG than anything Fullerton produced other than it's scale length.

But you'll also know that the longest serving guitar in the collection is my treasured Squier Strat.  Now those of you who may be scoffing out there as the Squier label let me tell you this is from the earliest batches of Squiers to reach the UK in the early 80s.  It has a JV serial number. Fender who was frankly falling fast in terms of quality from it's pedestal and the changes poorly implemented throughout the 70s had led to people seeking out mid and early 60s and 50s Strats in preference quoting lighter bodies, better necks, secure joints, snappier guitars, better curves... Fender were having to reduce US production a management buyout meant they needed to leave the Fullerton home to move to Corona and they knew they needed to improve and soon USA production was back on track.  But a cheaper alternative was need to tackle the Tokai's of the world who were stealing a large market share in the UK.  These Squiers were then made by Fender Japan and frankly is way better than the any 70s USA Strat I've ever picked up and as good in my humble opinion as many of the vintage USA reissues in the 80s.  You do still see these for about £600 - £800 on eBay from time to time - they are a bloody bargain at that price trust me!

So ever since I've played guitar a rosewood strat has been in my arsenal - originally a much abused Columbus copy and then the Squier which I've treated with more respect but it has had a lot of mods to it - new electrics, tuners etc.

Strats?  Who do you think of?  Hendrix... Clapton... Hank Marvin...   Here are two that in that late 70s early 80s did make me drool for a rosewood boarded strat so pretty much were the main reason the Squier has lived with me for the last 31 years...

Enjoy a couple of true greats of the Strat.
Robin Trower - I remember this performance. I dashed out and got the album that weekend. I can still be heard bashing out a version of this whenever I pick up the Strat!

Next the incomparable Rory Gallagher. This is a demonstration in how to whip up an audience - Rory was the showman given just his battered old Strat and a couple of amps driven within an inch of their lives. I stood for ages inches from this very guitar when it was on show in Harrods some years ago almost willing some of the man's talent to move from it to me!  Sadly Rory was one of the afflicted like myself and sadly died of complications and an infection following a liver transplant in 1995 - he was only 47 - tragic loss.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

50 years

It is 50 years ago that this amazing stuff was recorded.

Someone decided to invite some blues people over from the USA and record them in the rain on deserted station platform somewhere near Manchester...   I know and these people were the establishment at the time!

Anyway - I know that this was a big thing.  The Stones had rekindled public interest in the blues and the Animals, Fleetwood Mac and the Bluesbreakers were all just about to blow the whole 60s music scene with stuff that no doubt directly led to most of what we call rock, metal etc. today.

Feast your eyes and ears on these two great clips.

Loving Sister Rosetta's SG Les Paul Custom with sideways vibrato - classy guitar for a classy lady!