Showing posts from 2015

Review of the Year

Time for the annual Furtheron review of the year....  drum roll please (hope I read off the card correctly ;-)) Gig of the Year Now last year Show of Hands won this - and they are high in the running this year with their superb show in Canterbury.  This year though from a small selection of gigs I've been to the winners are  The Shires.   For such a young band they were professional, note perfect, humble, talented and fun.  I hope they continue to garner more success in the coming years. CD of the year .  Rock - Iron Maiden get a worthy mention but the winners are Revolution Saints .  I know it was a put together line-up by Frontier Records but I hope not the last as this first album was stunning!  Very Journey in it's style and sound (not surprising) it was a tour de force with great rockers, ballads etc. Folk - Last year I stated the False Lights with Salvor would have this sewn up.  In the end they do win it for their innovative folk rock injection into a brilliant

Rush - Losing It

There is plenty of news around the web today that Neil Peart of Rush has hung up his drumsticks for the last time.  Anyone who has followed my blog at all will know that two bands stand out in my life - Marillion and Rush.  Both I've followed for years and years since the 70s/80s and I've never tired of their output and seen them both a fair few times live. Marillion famously lost their front man and charismatic singer Fish to find only the more eclectic Steve H who in my opinion has driven them to their greatest creative heights - btw I've already paid for their next album due next year, like I did with Anoraknophophia when the whole idea of fans funding an as yet unwritten and recorded album via a web site was frankly considered nuts. But to Rush - I recently saw a post about stable line ups of bands.  No contest in my view - I instantly answered with Rush.  Neil was the last to join after the first album was already out and the band on the way up the ladder in the

Big Big Train performing Judas Unrepentant

Big Big Train are one of my favourite groups of recent years.  They to me define current British Prog Rock - steeped in the 70s - much of this songs rhythm and style remind me of Gentle Giant - anyone remember them? This is my favourite song of theirs which has as it's lyrical inspiration the definitely off beat topic of an art forger - Tom Keating actually who was able to churn out a number of "great masters" that fooled many of the art world.  Anyhow this is a very rare live outing for the band earlier this year... enjoy

Book Review - Where my Heart Used to Beat by Sebastian Faulks

I've really enjoyed Sebastian Faulk's books in the past.  Engleby is actually somewhere up there on my "everyone should read this book list" without any doubt.  I'll cut to the chase Where My Heart Used to Beat is potentially in the running for that list too. As with many of his works it is a study of life, love, the meaning of being but more importantly about love and how some people experience a really stunning moment of love in their lives - although it may be all too brief.  In this way it follows on from the theme in his last work - A Possible Life - where he covered love in a series of short stories.  Here we have a single hero character - a psychiatrist.  Someone who has worked his life to understand mental illness and how to help those with it to a better life.  Dr Robert Hendricks lost his father to WWI and himself fought in WWII.  Set initially in the early 80s we find a 60 something Hendricks reviewing his life - aided by some others who somewhat set

Book Review - Career of Evil Robert Galbraith

Despite it is all long out in the open about Ms Rowling's alter ego she continues to write as Robert Galbraith in the latest instalment in Cormoran Strikes life.  I'd really enjoyed the first two books in the series and looked forward to this one.  On completing it I have to say - I'm a little deflated and disappointed. Whilst the continuing character exposure of the two main characters in the book, namely Strike himself and Robin his enthusiastic assistant continues I feel that in some ways the main plot line was purely a complete vehicle for that exposure.  In the first two books it was clear there was a deep, dark secret in Robin's past in this book that is pushed firmly into the open.  That is the major reveal of the book but is somewhat too early in the narrative since after that we're playing out the rest of this plot that you feel was mostly there to simply reveal that secret.  The frisson within Strike and Robin's relationship continues with her contin

The End of the Strat Upgrade Project

No sooner is it started but it's finished! The strat upgrade is done! Some pics to run through the work.  We'd left it last time with all the components fitted onto the scratchplate but nothing wired up.  It is half term week from my course giving me a couple of days where weather and waiting in for a heating engineer meant I had a clear few hours on the bench (i.e. dining room table suitably covered with rugs, old t-shirts, etc.) Here is the start of the wiring - some of the wiring for the pots and switches done. Here with the pickups connected up - There is actually a simple but major error on here that I spotted later... Here she is naked - stripped of all the hardware I was replacing, i.e. bridge saddles, tuners, strap buttons, scratchplate and backplate. Dignity being restored with tuners, saddles and strap locks installed. A close up of the saddles.  I can't say how much if at all they improved the sound as clearly in this rebuild I ca

The start of the Strat upgrade project

I have another guitar project underway.  Using some money I got for my birthday I bought a cheap second hand Squier Strat off a local instrument sell/swap noticeboard on Facebook. Here is the guitar I got - an affinity Squier strat.  Nice colour I thought and very clean.  Previous owner had it as a spare to a "real one" as he called it and wasn't using it much.  I negotiated a cash purchase and a little discount from his asking price.  All cool.  The plan all along was one I've had in my head for a while to buy a cheap but reasonable Strat copy and upgrade it a bit... well a lot actually. So the plan is to replace all the electrics in it.  I wanted a sort of Dave Murray Strat like idea with strat sized humbuckers in it.  However Dave's guitar if you buy his latest Fender signature offering is north of £700 (which is good value actually given the hardware you get on it) but also a bit of a no-no for me features a Floyd Rose vibrato.  I'm not a lover

CD Reviews - Iron Maiden, Show of Hands, City and Colour

Without a doubt this little album review shows my eclectic music tastes.  I find it funny how even more so these days stuff is labelled this of that, Folk, Alt-Country, Metal, Speedmetal, Deathmetal... blah blah blah.  Do I like it?  That should be the only question to ask yourself really.  But the marketeers esp in this online age try to pigeon-hole us so they can then push "targetted" ads into our facebook feed, spotify suggestions list etc.  Frankly just suggest random stuff - in my humble opinion they'd sell more.  Say I'm a young person who's been brought up on modern R&B and that's what I listen to - then Spotify throws some Country my way and I like it - but I've never listened to or downloaded country - am I more likely to go off and seek out more of this new interest?    Well that's my thoughts but then ... I don't run a music company or streaming service or get paid oodles of cash to advise advertising campaigns. Iron Maiden - Book

Gig Review - Show of Hands Canterbury Marlow Theatre

One of Mrs F's presents to me for my birthday was tickets to see Show of Hands.  The Marlow Theatre in Canterbury was back and Mrs F had excelled herself with tickets in the third row :-) Show of Hands have over the last three years or so become one of my favourite folk acts.  There is something just so unpretentious about them, a working class ethic within many of their lyrics and performance I really like.  They are stunning musicians to boot.  Now mostly they perform as a trio the original duo of Steve Knightley and Phil Beer augmented by Miranda Sykes on double bass and vocals.  Three musicians only, acoustic instruments but what a sound they can produce.  Phil is a master multi-instrumentalist on fiddle, guitar, mandolin etc. and both him and Steve have incredible voices that work so well alone or together.  Miranda adds terrific bass playing and singing to the mix to.  Hats off to the sound engineer again - this is the second time I've seen them live and both times blow

Gig Review - The Shires Folkestone Leas Cliff Hall

Mrs F, Daughter-of-Futheron and I had a night out in Folkestone last week to go see The Shires.  Firstly it very nearly didn't happen, at least for me.  I left work a little early to give plenty of time to get home, changed, have something quick to eat and plenty of time to drive down to the coast.  I get the the station and... no trains running due to some incident.  Quick decision to catch the tube over London to another station.  I get there and get on a new train so now running about 30 mins late.  Not too much of a bother should still have time ... might not get changed.   Then that train is cancelled as someone was taken ill on it just as it was about to leave.  Paramedics etc. So that was it I thought.  I found another train, a slow one that didn't get all the way home and got on that.  I was now telling Mrs F to go without me and have a good time I'd figure out how to get home at some point.  But Mrs F was adamant we'd all go together so she drove to meet me at

https availability on this blog

Whilst this might seem to be a few years late I've just enabled https support on this blog.   This means if any of you so desire you can read this blog via now meaning it will be encrypted and provides you the following benefits... "HTTPS is a cornerstone of internet security as it provides several important benefits: it makes it harder for bad actors to steal information or track the activities of blog authors and visitors, it helps check that visitors open the correct website and aren’t being redirected to a malicious location, and it helps detect if a bad actor tries to change any data sent from Blogger to a blog visitor." from h ttp://

Price of books on Kindle

So ... a little rant. I've had a Kindle for about 4 or 5 years now.  I like the convenience of it.  I can carry a whole bookshelf of books around with me, it's easy to read where ever etc.  My son uses one too - for him, he has dyslexia, the best thing is being able to alter fonts and spacing as it really helps him read.   Good old Amazon lured us all in and we shelled out for these things.  I've actually been considering an update to a newer one as I've not get a paper white etc. I've one of the original ones with the darker unlit screen.  But probably no more. Increasingly I've noticed that prices of, particularly first edition hardbacks are increasing.  Now I accept some of that, access to it early etc.  But recently a new phenomenon ... Look at Bernard Cornwell's new Hardback, Warriors of the Storm, or Robert Galbraith's (JK Rowling) next book.  Yes... both are MORE expensive on Kindle.   But I'm not buying the book, only a licence to access

Book Reviews

Some latest book reviews... The Girl In the Spider's Web - David Lagercrantz Part four in the Millenium series which started with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  Of course the biggest issue here is that Stieg Larsson who wrote the original trilogy died in 2004.  So David Lagercrantz has been drafted in by the Larsson estate to write the new edition.  Firstly, a more interesting book may actually be the machinations between Stieg's partner, Eva Gabrielsson, and his family over what he had planned for the rest of the series and also where his inheritance should have gone.  Eva and Stieg were not married and there was no witnessed will leaving her anything so it went to his brother and father.   Enough of the soap opera in the background though...  the book? Well... sadly it is long long way from as well written as Larsson's books.  Much of the background is given through long sections of dialogue and it is just stilted and not as "on the edge of your seat" a

Intonating an A Style Mandolin

Any long term readers will remember I acquired via the lovely Mrs F a mandolin a Christmas or so back. Now I get the thing out from time to time to play along on.  But I noticed that it wasn't brilliantly in tune as you moved up the neck.  A quick check showed it was not intonated at the 12th fret. I checked it out using a decent tuner (my Boss TU-15) I figured out that the fretted notes were about 3-4 cents too sharp.  Meaning the bridge needed moving back away from the nut end.  Now an A style mandolin has a floating bridge - see the picture.  So moving it should be possible but how to do this? Here is the method I used. 1. Mark the location of the front of the bridge on treble and bass sides with masking tape.  I put two bits of tape up against the bridge so I knew where it had sat originally. 2. Remove all the strings. 3. The bridge can now be moved/removed.  I tried to polish up the top as there has been some colour staining/marking from where the bridge was - I had

This is one of the many reasons why I'm glad we have the NHS

I remember being in the USA when the Obamacare debates all kicked off.  I remember listening aghast as some commentator on some show made the outrageous and completely incorrect statement that if the USA was to go with Obamacare then a UK NHS style system would surely follow.  He then stated that women were giving birth on the sidewalks because the UK system was in such a mess.  Lies.  I can't argue our NHS needs improvements, more funding etc. but it sure ain't like that. Today though this story has been getting a lot of airplay on newsites etc.  To quickly summarise.  A USA pharamaceutical company with the rights to a drug originally discovered by Burroughs Wellcome which became eventually part of the now GSK empire was recently taken over but a new company led by an ex hedge fund manager.  The drug is used to treat HIV patients (and others) and is acknowledged by the World Health Organisation as one it's "essential medicines".  The new company saw a ma

CD Review - Joe Satriani Shockwave Supernova

I forgot to include this one in my recent round-up of latest CD purchases.... Whilst there are a plethora of hugely talented guitarists out there who produce great instrumental music there are few that break through from just a niche market dominated by other guitarists who are there to be dazzled by the skill rather than the tunes and fewer still who maintain a long term career from it.   Jeff Beck is one obvious example who has continued to forge a path where each release seems to get more plaudits than the last.  Steve Vai - maybe is in this illustrious group with Al Di Meola in there too maybe.   But without a doubt one for who there is no argument is Joe Satriani - since his sophomore release of Surfing with the Alien in the 80s Joe has continued to produce great albums.  I'll be honest for me he did lose his way - or at least not go in a direction I totally bought into for a while but his last 5 releases since 2006's Super Colossal have placed Joe firmly at the top of t

CD Reviews - Joanne Shaw Taylor, Steven Wilson and Thunder

Ok - so after a brief delve into the very murky waters of politics... anyone still here who is interested in music? A quick round up of recent CDs I've bought. Joanne Shaw Taylor - The Dirty Truth Just to set the record straight in case the politician posts are still causing the mud rakers to sling insults at any of my posts - I used to work with her Dad.  Not closely but we were in the same company for a few months together and discussed music, work and football in the Directors suite at Arsenal's ground on some company do once I remember. This is a terrific album.  I've been listening to Joanne for ages on Spotify and had her CDs on my wish list but never got around to buying one.  This was just there screaming at me when I was in an old fashioned record shop in Maidstone.  If you've never listened this is as good a place to start as any - I'd say she is the best blues/rock singer guitarist in the UK at the moment... of either gender.  She has a terrific J

Politics stops being the same old same old for once

Here I go committing blog suicide no doubt.  Farewell to my loyal reader(s) this post will no doubt lead to a storm of complaint, abuse, spamming, outrage etc.   I'm going to talk politics!!! Anyone with a pulse who has reasonably functioning cognitive abilities alive in the UK today can't have failed to have noticed that something happened over the weekend.  A middle aged white man was elected as the leader of the Labour party.  You'd have thought though that something way off the Richter scale had actually happened given the coverage of it so far.  Let us state my position before I get going... I come from a Labour background, my Dad wouldn't consider voting anything else, was a union man throughout his working life and argued always that Labour was the only party you could hope to trust to help the working man.  His Dad (my Grandfather) was a Labour councillor and sat on a union executive in the 1930s at the height of the movement establishing itself in the UK

Pedal Board Update

I've updated my pedal board. Here is what it was like when I first finished it last year. However since then Mrs F bought me an Electro Harmonix Nano Big Muff Π.  Also I dug out an old Marshall Guvnor pedal I've had for ages.  I used to use it with a Carslbro Rebel amp I had that frankly had the less than best overdriven sound.  Having moved from that through a Boss rack processor, Line6 Pod and then back to an amp in the guise of my Hughes and Kettner Statesman Dual 6L6 I'd sort of got into the mode of only using amp distortion.   But I found the Guvnor and plugged it in - wicked sound!  I then looked on eBay and these Mark 1's are going for stupid money so it seemed too good to not push into use in some way.  The Big Muff was me trying to get back to teenage sounds when I used an old Little Muff.  Also something about David Glimour... loads of reverb and a Big Muff... you get the idea. So I pulled off some of the pedals in plan to add these two.

Book Reviews

Just to catch up on my summer reads.... Sharp Objects - Gillian Flynn If you are looking for a happy, carefree read... avoid this at all costs.  Gillian Flynn is now famous due to the huge success of Gone Girl - a book I liked a lot.  This earlier effort is well written but frankly beyond dark it is as black as black can be.  A reporter returns to her family town to write a story on two young girls who've been found murdered.  Not only is there the darkness around the murders but there is a lot of history in her own past and her families that is extremely dark...   And it doesn't stop there...   It is a good thriller, with some very disturbing themes and issues within including self harming, infanticide, drug taking, underage sex, rape to name a few.  A recommended read but I can't warn you enough, this is a very black book. Two thumbs up on the FTUBRS* Jackdaws - Ken Follett I seem to often come back to Mr Follett's books when looking for something - he has

Hughes & Kettner Triamp 3

Now if only I could afford one of these.   Hughes and Kettner have updated their flagship guitar amp the Triamp now in it's Mark 3 version.   One thing I've notice, Alex Lifeson who I'm a bit obsessed about you may have noticed has had the H&K backline obvious in live videos of the R40 tour I've looked at online - there are some where he has a wall of Marshalls which looks like him and Geddy trying to portray the look from the bands early 70s days.  But interestingly to me they all look somewhat not plugged in where as the ones with the Triamps they are glowing away with the characteristic blue H&K glow.   Seems like Lerx has returned to these as his go to amp - he has a signature model around. Anyway back to the new one.   Let's try to get our heads around this.  You essentially have three dual channel amps in one here.  Each with independent eq.  As you work from 1 thru 2 to 3 the level of dirt goes up, so channel 1a and b are more clean/minor crunch ...

Go set a Watchman - Harper Lee (Book Review)

This has to be one of the most long awaited follow ups in the history of publishing.  I can't understand why it was never published back in the day.  Harper Lee did enough to be put on the highest rung of any literary ladder with To Kill A Mockingbird.  Especially when you consider that novel was published in 1960.  It is hard today to put that novel into the context that was the USA civil rights movement at that time for most of us who weren't even alive when it first hit the bookshelves.  Go Set A Watchman was the original title for the original manuscript that eventually became To Kill a Mockingbird.  There is much controversy about the release now of this work.  Some claiming it is simply the original draft for the first novel - having read it that makes no sense to me, others that no Ms Lee is old and infirm she has been coerced into releasing it and others even questioning the validity of it's authorship. I've read that there was speculation at a trilogy with

The Epiphone Ltd. Ed. Tony Iommi Signature SG

Well it looks like a Tony Iommi and sounds like a Tony Iommi... have to say this new signature Epiphone is worth some investigation.  I love the inclusion of many of the features from his original Jaydee Old Boy - 24 frets, the high output humbuckers and even the little feature of the side not front fitted jack socket. Love this!

CD Reviews

I went mad and bought a bunch of CDs over the weekend. Muse - Drones I've liked Muse since Absolution.   I did delve back into their back catalogue too but the first two didn't quiet tick the boxes with me.  The last effort 2nd Law was ok but I felt a move away from the "Muse" sound they'd defined up until then.  I remember commenting at the time that it sounded a bit like Porcupine Tree - which wasn't a criticism but simply an observation that it didn't sound really like a Muse record to me.   Drones is much more on song for me.  Heavier, the distorted bass riffs are there, Bellamy's soaring guitar sounds heavily over effected too and his voice is right on song.   I heard a review on Jo Whiley's Radio2 show about this in which the guest reviewer went on about how hilarious Muse were with the bombastic instrumentation, hand built guitars etc.  He seemed to think they are a parody of themselves.  I completely disagree but then I get the feeling

YesSongs #7: YES - Roundabout

Sadly today Chris Squire is laid to rest. In memory of one of the greatest bass players ever I offer this great version of Roundabout from 1973. RIP Chris.

Formula E - season finale review

Mrs F and I went to the very last Formula E race in Battersea Park on Sunday. Formula E is a totally electronic racing car series.  This has been its inaugural year.  There is some interesting banter going on around it involving such lumineries as Christian Horner the main man at Red Bull Formula 1.  The fact that he is having to make derogatory comments about it as a series, trying to compare it to a lower formula than F1 shows it has made some sort of significant mark in its first year.  A quick summary from my point of view about Formula E... The good.... The season runs Oct to Jun so means some of the races are over the "winter" period when most other series like F1, Indy Racing League etc. are not running. The promotion and development of electric vehicle technology can only be good. The races run in city locations - for many who are not die hard fans of motorsport going to a city and taking in the race as well as other attractions is a new approach to traipsin

Rush - Losing It (HD) :: Live in Toronto June 2015

One of my favourite Rush songs ever - finally played live.  Terrific!!!  Look at that Zemetis bass too - is that an original?

Gear Review - Cheap Mandolin Pickup

I've had a mandolin about 18 months now - frankly I can strum a few chords on it that is about all.  But it's a fun addition to the Furtheron music family.  I had thought about if I wanted to ever use it live or easy recording, i.e. without miking up etc. and did a search on eBay for mandolin pickups. One of these popped up. It was madly only £6.35 ($10.00) including postage from China.  I mean - you can't lose can you.  How can they make this stuff and ship it at that price?  I know people moan about putting local firms out of business but simply that is too good a bargain to resist.  If I'd seen this in a local shop at say £15 I'd have thought twice, £20 I wouldn't have considered it.  You get my point. Simple to install.  I placed the pickup centrally behind the bridge using the adhesive pad already on it.  You get one more spare in the pack too.  That has a cable to a small jack you plug into a passive vol and tone unit.  You can see I've clipp

Alex Lifeson R40 Les Paul

Not the first Alex Lifeson Les Paul Axcess signature model but I think the best looking in terms of colour and the look of the maple used for the top. The Axcess main feature is the re-shaping of the neck joint, so whilst it is a traditional glued mortice joint it has the feel of a neck thru body.  Added to that the Axcess is subtly thinner and has a "belly scarf" - like the back contour on a strat body.  Whilst you can get the Axcess with a standard Les Paul stopbar they are most often seen sporting a Floyd Rose locking trem adding dive bomb whammy option to your Les Paul crunch. The electrics are actually the biggest departure for the Alex Lifeson signature model from the standard Axcess.  It is fitted with a Piezo powered bridge allowing you to get an acoustic like sound from it too.  This can be routed via a dedicated output jack to go to a separate amp or the PA whilst the magnetic pickups feed through the standard jack to your amp, or if you insert one cable into t