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Showing posts from 2016

Book Reviews - Follow You Home - Mark Edwards, Whiteout - Ken Follett

Follow You Home - Mark Edwards I've read his two previous novels, both scary thrillers in the spooky sense.  Follow You Home is no different but is perhaps even darker than his previous books.  It starts a few years ago where we meet a couple on their grand backpacking tour of Europe and the fatal mistake of not paying extra for a sleeper compartment on a train travelling into Romania. Soon they meet an intriguing, if disturbing couple but then are kicked off the train by guards with no paperwork someone having stolen their passports.  What happens after they leave the train?  You don't know as both of them clearly have had to black out of their pasts what happened there.  Fastforward to the present day and they are struggling to get a normal life together.  Continually bad luck seems to dog them - or is it bad luck or is what happened to them after that train ride a curse that is following them around continually. I real page turner that you can't get away from.  The

Album Review - Wild Joanne Shaw Taylor. Fear - Marillion

Time for some album reviews. Fear - Marillion I've been putting off writing this review since I have to say.... for me this isn't a classic brilliant album.  It is very good but for me this isn't Marillion at their best.  Odd isn't it first time in thirty years they get back into the top 5 with a release and get rave reviews and I'm left a bit like... hmmm... it's really good but... but what? It is an epic work, there in lies some of it's problem, also reading how it was put together with the band working with long time collaborator Mike Hunter in the producers chair.  From my reading of the interviews it goes something like this.... the band jam on stuff for hours - Hunter captures is all then starts to construct the pieces with the band from that and then they add in the details etc.   For me it then means that these long pieces constructed in this way don't always for me as an entire "song" hang together.  Now Marillion have always ha

Bach to Beatles - concert review

Mrs F had bought us tickets to see Milos Karadaglic performing the opening night of his Back to Beatles concert with the English Chamber Orchestra a the Canterbury Festival last Friday. Sadly at the last minute - well with a week to go - Milos pulled out of the concert since he has suffered a recurring hand injury and the advice of all the medical professionals was to stop playing and get it sorted out finally. So in steps Craig Ogden. Remarkably he altered only two pieces from the original programme, one being that he inserted Asturias which as a core repertoire piece was simply replacing something with something he knew backwards. He dropped Whilst My Guitar Gently Weeps from the second half where most of the pieces were from Milos' latest album Blackbird . However this still meant him learning in a week 9 pieces and their unique arrangements and given three were with jazz bass accompaniment and others with the ECO as well. To say I was impressed is an understatement. I&

Recording some covers

I got a new Boss BR-600 (Digital recorder) to replace my one that's stopped working.  I got it second hand on eBay.  Under £80 which was a bargain. To try it out I recorded a couple of covers. Firstly this is my interpretation of Show of Hands song I Will Haunt You. This next one is one of the tunes that inspired me to be the guitarist I am now.  My first one to one guitar teacher was teaching me classically but knew my interests lay more broadly so introduced me to steel string fingestyle via this song.  This is my version of the Davy Graham classic Anji

Birthday Booty

Another year has passed and yesterday was my birthday. So what booty did I receive? Both my kids bought me a couple of Blu-Ray films.  Spotlight, Jurassic World, Our Kind of Traitor and Eye In the Sky.  All films I never went to see at the cinema, frankly it is so expensive these days to go I partly would rather wait for the Blu-Ray to come out. Mrs F got me a Miloš Karadaglić CD - Aranjuez which has the Rodrigo Concierto de Aranjuez on it - my (and many others I suspect) favourite guitar concerto.  Also a ticket to see him live this month at the Canterbury festival in an intimate venue with an orchestra.  Really looking forward to that! Oh and the most guitar related gift?  Big Bends Nut sauce.  Yes you read that right.  It is a lubricant for your nuts sir.  Guitar nuts.  Often considered for only vibrato guitars I suspect I'll actually like it more for some acoustic guitars where dropping in and out of altered tunings and then bends often lead to strings sticking in the n

Fan Fret Acoustics - Reach the masses!

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Last year I commented on Fan Fret acoustic guitars approaching the masses with some in the £1,200 range available in the UK. Well Ibanez have gone and smashed that with a new model retailing at under £500!

New track - Good Man

It has been ages since I posted anything new.  I've just not been avidly writing and not recording much.  My tinnitus/Ménière’s disease hasn't been helping, for long periods even contemplating playing the guitar isn't on my mind as it is likely to be too painful.  But in the last week my ear has been a lot better. I have few songs in development - this one was actually started a long while ago.  It was inspired when I got my mandolin.  After some noodling learning chords etc. this pattern emerged which I liked.  As ever it sat about without lyrics for a while then some inspiration struck.  Largely since this is dedicated from me to a dear friend who passed away last year.  One of the last times I remember being with him out somewhere we were watching a band play with a great mandolin player and he joking asked how my mandolin playing was coming along.  So it was fitting my first song inspired by mandolin playing should have lyrics inspired by him. Sadly however havi

Book Review - Death of Robin Hood Angus Donald

With this instalment we reach the end of Angus Donald's clever retelling of the Robin Hood story.  I've really enjoyed this series over the years I've been reading them.  It all started out with Alan Dale a young lad in Nottingham just to learn how to survive.  He was taken under the wing of a bunch of notorious outlaws around the Sherwood Forest and he has forever been one of Robin Hood's men.  We long ago learnt that Robin Hood is in fact a noble man and a Lord himself but he roguish nature always looking to profit for himself make him the outlaw we know.  The books have always been written from Alan's point of view as an old man recounting his youthful, and now not so youthful, adventures with his Lord. Obviously the main plot feature is given away in the title but the suspense of exactly how Robin dies if left to the very end of the book and is an emotionally engaging story in itself.  We join the action soon after the signing of the Magna Carta.  I was persona

Album Reviews - Jeff Beck - Loud Hailer, Biffy Clyro - Ellipsis, Big Big Train - Folklore, Milos - Blackbird

Time for another summer catch up. Jeff Beck - Loud Hailer. Jeff Beck is one of a very very rare breed of artist.  One who is pioneering not just when they come to prominence but throughout their lifetime and one who has remained relevant throughout.  Since his reinvention of how he played the guitar pioneered on the track Where were you off his guitar workshop album in the late 80s he has produced albums fused with Electronica aspects, with jazz and on his last work Emotion and Commotion with orchestra placing his playing in a concerto setting almost. However Loud Hailer is more rock n roll, more indy rock, more street, more punk frankly.  He has teamed up with Rosie Bones (Bill Oddy's daughter btw for those who do pub quizes) on vocals and Carmen Vandenburg on guitars from the band Bones produces a vocal based album for the first time in many many years from Mr Beck and gives the whole production a more rootsy, punky rocky vibe.  Jeff's playing is as stunning as ev

Book review catch up

Hello anyone still following.  I've been doing nothing frankly over the summer.  I had an operation in July and then took a time off to recover.  I realised I write a lot of my posts on my commute on my phone - or at least that's where they start to be finished off on one of my numerous occasional coffee breaks.  Anyhows- book review catch up time... Solomon Creed - Simon Toyne First here's a rant... what is it with the new trend in book publishing to have to add a tag line to the title of the book.  This book on Amazon is title "Solomon Creed: The only thriller you need to read this year".  It's tacky, I feel exploited ... so ... stop it.  I'll return to this theme later. Actually this is a pretty good story.  It is the first in a series to feature Solomon Creed - that is evident from all the blurb and I don't believe I'm laying any major spoilers out there.  We're introduced to Mr Creed as he come to consciousness running hell for leath

12 String Pickup upgrade

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Do you remember the 12string I made a while back? And here it is now.  What's the difference?  The pickups - my wife bought me some Wilkinson Hot Strat pickups.  I went for the hot more since they have flat pole pieces, not staggered as the vintage models do.  I just thought on a 12 string with the different gauges etc. that would be better for string balance. I'm really chuffed with the result.  A quick desolder and disassembly of the pickups that came on the kit supplied sratchplate and then re-solder in the new replacements.  They are a big big improvement over the originals.  The bridge in particular in quiet hot and very punchy, ok for emphasising arpeggio lines whilst the middle and neck are really excellent for strumming chords.  I retained the 7 way wiring, the bridge pickup is connected to the small switch, when that is on then the bridge pickup is always on whatever you set the 5 way selector to.  That allows you to have 2 extra sounds, Bridge and Neck together

About time - Pete Townshend Strat

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Apologies for the sparsity of posting on here recently.  The EU Referendum took too much of my energies away in social media land, that and end of year college work, health issues... blah blah... So back with some good news.  Pete Townshend has had a lot of custom signature guitars out before, Rickenback er,  Gibson - twice electric with an SG and Les Paul and one acoustic .  In the Schecter line up there is still a PT model based on another signature model.  The bizzarre thing being is whilst many of these have been introduced in recent years since the late 80s Pete has himself pretty much exclusively used a Fender Strat.  So finally we actually get a release from Fender that is the closest to the guitar Pete has used for the last 25 plus years. Based on the mark1 Eric Clapton strat it has Gold Lace Sensors that model featured but not seen on many Fenders for a number of years with Eric and others moving on to the Fender noiseless pickups.  It has the same soft v neck and the sa

CD Review - Gilded - Blair Dunlop and Live the Farewell Tour - Bellowhead

Gilded - Blair Dunlop I've enjoyed Blair's work since his first release Blight and Blossom.  Now I sit to write this I should actually play that back to back with House of Jacks (his sophomore effort) and Gilded, it'd be interesting to compare them as he has developed. Who is Blair?  Well his dad is Ashley Hutchings which if you know anything about British Folk Rock is something of a legend in that genre having been a key member of Fairport Convention, Steeley Span and the leader of The Albion Band for years.  Having his Dad's connections helps with people like Martin Simpson and Richard Thompson being amongst those who've tutored/mentored Blair.  Oh yes, if you are a film buff Blair played the young Willy Wonker in the Tim Burton remake of the Roald Dahl classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. What about this one then?  Well it is a move into more rockier less folk territory with more electric guitar, similar to the last Albion Band offering when Blair took

Book Reviews - Time after Time Ben Elton and The End Game Raymond Khoury

Time After Time - Ben Elton This is a really terrific book.  Here's the simple question you are posed with "If you could go back in time and change one thing what would it be?" Seems simple doesn't it.  However as ever total conjecture since time travel isn't available to us.  But... what if it were.  What if there was a place and point in time where you could go back?  This is the situation for our hero Hugh Stanton who is an ex-soldier and YouTube star of survival videos who is given the opportunity to do just that. The point of incredulity, scientifically and historically is that Sir Issac Newton figured out all of relativity before he died and way ahead of Einstein.  He determined that some time loops overlap in a small fragment of space and time.  Name in Istanbul in 2025 and 1914.  So you can go back to 1914.  And do what?  Stop the first world war?  Seems logical.  So that is what Hugh is tasked to do by a group of boffins who know of Newton's sec

CD Review - Joe Bonamassa Blues of Desperation and Jeff Healey - Heal my Soul

Joe Bonamassa - Blues of Desperation I ordered this a day or so before the gig previously reviewed.  It arrived a few days after.  So I'd heard some of the tunes at the gig before hearing them on the recorded version.  Overall a terrific album, possibly his best yet, in terms of performance, song writing, sound and energy.  The album kicks off with uptempo blues rocker This Train and then into one of the albums highlights the Zep like riff laden Mountain Climbing.  These set the scene for the early part of the album - tight superbly executed blues rock.  The tone of all instruments is to die for frankly Kevin Shirley is undoubtedly one of the best producers around in terms of getting a band to all individually sound superb. Drive the pre-release single is a slower more Chris Rea/Mark Knopfler sounding gentle sound with some great percussion playing.  No place for the lonely is another highlight tipping it's hat strongly in the direction of Gary Moore for me.   What I've

Gig Review - Joe Bonamassa Birmingham 19 Mar 2016

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I had a great weekend on a flying visit to my son in Birmingham.  The reason for this was to get to a gig by Joe Bonamassa who was playing a short tour of the UK, basically he needed to come back to fulfil a commitment on a gig cancelled on the last tour so added in a couple of other dates including Birmingham.  Firstly I've never been to the Barclaycard Arena - which was the old NIA but in the world of corporate sponsorship had a makeover a couple of years back and a name change.  Joe was quiet funny making reference to this during the gig ;-)  The venue was good though, efficient staff, clean, etc.  My son had been there for a Slipknot gig and was saying he was worried it would be too big for JB but said "The seating plan when I bough the tickets though indicated a completely different layout."  It was cleverly done.  They moved the stage to end so that essentially it was turned into a semi-circular amphitheatre of about 4,000 capacity.  It worked well for JB. To the

Gig Review - City And Colour Brighton 18th Feb 2016

Mrs F, Daughter-of-Furtheron and your truly went to see City and Colour down at the seaside last week.  This was mostly a Daughter-of-Furtheron driven gig as she's been a big Dallas Green fan since he set out on his solo material.  I remember sticking my head into her room some years back and said "Who is this?  I like it."  She explained who Dallas was, I knew of Alexisonfire and therefore I wasn't expecting this acoustic alt country/folk singer/songwriter stuff.  Since then we've both been fans.  Interestingly my daughter prefers his earlier stuff and I've been the one buying the last three recent albums.  As he has grown the City and Colour thing has become more a band setting live and in the studio and he has grown from the alt.country/folk roots to more alt.indy soft rock. So the band kicked off with Woman the opener from the latest album If I Should Go Before You.  Now there is a stunning opener - it builds and roars and soars and Dallas voice holds yo

Book Review - The King's Assassin Angus Donald

The latest instalment on the journey of Sir Alan Dale.  Angus has throughout this series clever woven the legend and myth that is Robin Hood and his merry men into the true events during the late 12th and early 13th century. In this latest instalment we find Sir Alan returned from the siege at Château Gaillard even more despondent with King John than ever.  He has good reason given what he witnessed in the previous instalment and of course with Sir Alan having been a one-time great friend and co-composer of legendary songs with King Richard the Lionheart King John will never meet up to his expectations.  But he returns to find his lands taxed beyond what he can afford and the latest Sheriff of Nottingham determined to extract as much from the area as possible. Against this background whilst supporting the King's latest attempts to reclaim lost territory in France which comes to eventual failure at the Battle of Bouvines Alan foolishly agrees to help some of the angry barons rid

NAMM 2016 - Vox Starstream

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I spent an evening or two looking over the various videos on Youtube from NAMM 2016 to see what new stuff had been launched.  Sadly to say that it was a lot of "same old, same old".  Fender have new Elite versions - which are a revamped deluxe... yes nice but... still a Strat still a Tele...  Gibson seem keen to go on about their heritage and all that... hmm whilst the new nut and tuners are about you'll see most models have two versions one with the new gizmos and one without and traditional nut and tuners etc.  Also the huge discounts I've seen on 2015 models online recently makes you think good old Orville and Co realised that they'd pushed the envelope a bit too far for many of their buyers. Yamaha - some new acoustics that are based on the old... etc. etc.  You get the picture. However here was the shining light frankly.  Vox have come and go in the guitar market since their pioneering 60s models.  I remember some in the 70s/80s with Dimarzio pickups.  Ab

And another one...

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I can't believe I'm back here posting about another loss but Jimmy Bain bass player with Rainbow, Wild Horses and Dio has sadly passed away aged 68.  Whilst never a household name Bain was in the original Rainbow line up, then formed Wild Horses with Brian Robertson following Robbos's dismissal from Thin Lizzy.  However when he reunited with Ronnie James Dio in his post Sabbath project his writing ability shone through with him credited with several co-writing credits on Dio's biggest hits whilst he also worked with Phil Lynott on his solo material even appearing on keyboards on some live gigs before Lynott's sad dimise. Here is one his best co-writing efforts with Dio ... Holy Diver...

The Crème de la crème

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Flipping heck.  St Peter must have some big shindig to organise clearly given the list of music stars who've recently been taken from us.  A set of people who've been there throughout most of my life providing music I listened to and was interested and inspired by. Of the three Lemmy from Motorhead was the biggest personal loss to me.  I've seen Motorhead live possibly more than any other band/artist I can think of... maybe Gary Moore (another one in St Pete's line up now) just shades it but it'll be close.  My funniest memory of them is at Hyde Park when they supported The Foo Fighters.  We were about half way back in the huge crowd that afternoon.  You'd see the roadies changing over the amps etc.  You'd see them trying stuff out but the piped interval music from the PA drowned out the stage volume where we were clearly... I mean we were further away than you'd be in any but the largest arenas... until the Motorhead crew began to soundcheck... yep th

My must have albums

I was thinking the other day about what are for me "must have albums".  By that I mean ones that I have always had close to any regular playlist.  I then thought about it and some shine out as I've bought them on multiple formats over the years.  Some were cassettes that got trashed so an LP was bought, or bought as vinyl to be replaced with a CD or even some direct as MP3 downloads.  This shows to me that they are my "must haves" due to my needing to maintain them in my listening format of choice. Steve Earle - Copperhead Road Weather Report - Heavy Weather Rush -   Moving Pictures Supertramp...  Crime of the century and Crisis? What Crisis! John Martyn. Solid air  and Grace and Danger Marillion. Season's End, Misplaced Childhood and Script for a Jester's Tear Thunder - Laughing on judgement day Joe Satriani -  Surfing with the alien Ufo - Strangers in the night So all of the above have been bought by me at least once on a replacement for

Book Review - The Gibson 335 - Its History and Its Players by Adrian Ingram

I've had this on my Amazon wishlist for a while now.  It's not a cheap book and in the end Mrs F perusing said list for inspiration for a Christmas present bought it for me. I have to say my knowledge of Gibson's ES-300 series isn't that good.  I can easily spot Les Paul's, SGs, Strats and Teles readily knowing the age (or increasingly the reissue basis) etc. quickly but other than telling an ES-335 from an ES-345 or ES-355 my knowledge lacked.  To that end this has been a really useful read.  I knew that through the 60s and 70s the ES-335 moved from dot finger board with a stop tail-piece to block inlays and a trapeze one but the other changes around particularly the internal construction and the move from "mickey mouse" ears etc. made this a good read. Also Adrian covers a lot of other models, notably the obvious sister Epiphone line with Sheratons, Casinos etc. which in the UK are possibly more sought after with their associations with Lennon, Welle

Ashes to Ashes - David Bowie

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A true legend RIP David Bowie. Writing this in my way to work as the news breaks. I'll simply share my favourite ever Bowie track, today some ironic with it's title ... and also one of the weirdest videos ever.

Book Review - The Vig by Amy Brook

This is a debut novel by Amy however it doesn't read like it at all. It is a crime drama set in Long Island in the 1980s. Our heroine, Angela,  is approaching her graduation from business school when through her boyfriend she meets a mob boss. He sees something in her and offers her a job helping with the books of his business. The business in question is loan sharking but it is the kind of job she wanted in terms of maintaining accounts etc and no body ever says no to her boss Dominic. Slowly she is drawn more into the grimey side of the business witnessing the violence that ensures compliance in the customers. However her life changes completely when she breaks off with her boyfriend and she becomes the centre of unwanted attention. Will she survive in the mob world? The portrayal of the gang members at work and not draws you in to feeling they're not all bad and there are twists and turns throughout which meant I was unable to predict the final climactic conclusion. Reall

CE24 Demo | PRS Guitars

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Any of you who've been around this blog a while will know that I own a PRS CE22 - 2001 model if memory serves that I bought second hand in about 2009.  It is simply the go to guitar for a jam session etc. as it can cover just about anything.  I always thought the removal of it from the catalogue a mistake. Many seemed to think it a "poor man's custom" but for me frankly it is an alternative.  The bolt on maple neck gives it more spank - think Fender spank but with some of the girth you get in a Gibson or PRS custom Mahogany  / Maple set up.  To me actually it is better at nailing the best of both worlds sounds than the custom which given I have a Gibson and a Gordon Smith and a Peter Cook is too similar to all of them.   Think a Fender Strat with a humbuckers in it along side single coils ... but the humbucker sounds much closer to a Gibson one thing a humbucker in a strat will never do to my ears. Well the super duper news is that PRS obviously see the error o

1001

Only when just checking my stats page on Blogger did I realise that my first post in 2016 was the 1000th post on this blog.  So this is the 1001st

New Year... Music Reviews...

Hello welcome to the first post of 2016. Sorry it has been so quiet on here but I was ill throughout December and frankly did very little! Quick update on some Music Reviews on the CDs, DVDs etc. I got for Christmas. Newton Faulkner - Human Love. Terrific album.  Newton has moved on and developed as an artist.  His first video release of a track from this album before it was released in November was  Get Free .  On this Newton sits in a chair singing whilst hacking off his famous dreadlocks with a pair of scissors.  He now has a new short dreads piled on top of his head look.  However this is a definitive metaphor about his moving forward as an artist. This new album has more electric guitar tones on it and a different more band orientated vibe.  However the second half is a selection of the tracks re-recorded as pure one man solo songs, no doubt so that he can show you that if you see him live he can still play these tracks in his one-man-show format.  For those that pigeon-ho