Sunday, 14 November 2010


Hmmm, not much going on here.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Spring Clean (Overdue)

I must do something about this page. It looks untidy and some of those links are out of date. Others need adding.

In the meantime, have a listen to this album. I'm really enjoying it at the moment (And you can listen to a not-as-good-as-the-CD quality version for free).
Rain - Cerulean Blue

When bagpuss goes to sleep . . .

. . . all his friends go to sleep . . .

.F. takes a nap.
Not posted here for ages, and I am too sleepy to do so at the moment. Which is twisted logic as I am doing just that. Back soon.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Spotify and other free music

Horrah! for Spotify, a great way to listen to loads of music whilst online. A simple search for artist, album or track does the trick, and double click to play. Lots of stuff on there as well. Although many of my more obscure tastes cannot be found, I have already played the likes of Abba, John Cage, Strawbs, Pet Shop Boys, Neu!, Handel, Ozric Tentacles, Nine Inch Nails, The Tiger Lillies and Renaissance, and that was just today. You do have to put up with the odd advert here and there (which is annoying when it happens between two continuous tracks) but hey! it's free (or you can pay to be advert free).

Talking of free, Free Albums Galore is a site dedicated to reviewing all those free downloads out there. Great to dip into.

Also Susan Matthews is putting a new track a day onto Myspace during March. (Note : Hopefully she will either host them elsewhere or release the lot on CD soon as I find Myspace annoying. Ages to load and then the tracks frequently don't play properly. And I've missed a few!) There have been some great moments in there, especially earlier tracks "hgfreak", "Broken" & "Babies In My Dream", which alas you can't hear any more.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Hunter Gatherer

Before I was interrupted by my images not displaying properly, I was going to mention how much the process of getting hold of music has changed over the years.

When I was a wee lad, it was into Boots, and down to the back of the store where the racks of records were stored. That's right, Boots used to sell music. Back then I was fascinated by the security cameras : black globes that hung from the ceiling with the lenses sticking out at all angles making them look like mechanical sea urchins, or the next alien foe to annoy Dr Who (Jon Pertwee in those days). If I saw one turning to follow me around the store, I gave it a cheery wave.

My first ever album was HOT HITS Vol. 19 (one of those compilation albums) which I bought with my first ever record token. It had the typical long leggy model on the front, posing with a croquet mallet which alarmed my Mum and it included that Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron song on it, which is why I bought it. This was followed up with The New Goodies LP. Surely there is no better version of "Wild Thing" than what The Goodies did, no sirree!

A couple of years later it was down to the shops again, this time the late Woolworths, for Abba LPs. Yep, I remember them the first time around. You can't beat a good old pop song. Not even with a large stick. Although if Pierce Brosnan was wielding the stick . . .

Thereafter I discovered that the only way to feel the noise is when it's good and loud, so Motorhead's "No Sleep Til Hammersmith" along with Deep Purple's "Made In Japan" found a home. Two great live albums. I've never heard anything better by either band since. Rock
'n' Roll!

University beckoned and with it, lots of other peoples music, a tape library (cassettes! remember them?) and a rapid interest in Genesis (before they went poppy) and Tangerine Dream (before they went poppy). My parents obviously noticed that I came home in between terms with one bag of smelly washing and another of LPs, and then spent ages on Dad's steam powered "stereo unit" recording those LPs onto cassettes to take and play the following term. Result - my own hi-fi tower for my 18th birthday. My decline into the endless sea of aural delights had begun.

By now I had access to two cities, Sheffield (university) and Birmingham (nearest to home) both with the larger record stores like HMW and Virgin. More artists and albums than I could shake a stick at, even if I drank loads of coffee and invented a multiple stick shaking machine. Soon I was expanding into the second hand market to find long deleted albums by bands and artists that I wanted to hear. The Plastic Factory in Birmingham had a cellar that was stuffed with cardboard boxes full of vinyl : piled on top of (and beneath) rickety tables were entire back catalogues of some of the more interesting record labels. I'm sure that the more obscure the material you bought, the more respect the staff gave you (I once bought a Kate Bush single and it was basically tossed across the counter at me before the assistant, without saying a word, held out his hand for my cash. On one of my last trips there in the early 90s I bought the Psilotripitaka CD box set by Nurse With Wound and I'm surprised that the assistant didn't don white gloves to serve me, such was the care he went through to check all the contents were there before delicately placing into it the plastic bag and genuflecting when receiving my cash.) By now, discovering new music was like a hunt, you did your research and found out about an album you had to hear, you checked out the larger record shops, then the smaller back street shops full of collectibles and second hand items. You went to record fairs and tried the avoid the overpriced goodies, and finally put wanted ads in magazines like Record Collector. Eventually the item was found, perhaps a few years of first hearing about it.

Then came CDs.

They had been around for a few years, overpriced and stuck in the corner of record shops. A limited selection unless you were into Michael Jackson, Queen and Mozart. But the square footage of shop space they occupied slowly increased and the price gap between vinyl and CDs slowly decreased. In January 1990 after buying a copy of Pierre Favre and Tamia's "De La Nuit...Le Jour" on vinyl from mail order specialists "Ultima Thule" (and they're still going, hi guys!) and finding that the delicate nature of the music (silence plays a part in the music) was somewhat spoilt by the endless snap, crackle and pop, I made a decision. I gave up eating rice crispies. And I bought a CD player. The Favre/Tamia Lp was exchanged for a CD copy, and I started exploring different parts of the various shops. About this time a lot of long deleted albums started emerging on CD, in fact within the next 10 years almost everything could be obtained on CD, the Japanese especially liked reissuing long forgotten albums on very nice CDs with reproduction packaging. My buying was still either shops or mail order, but with so much readily available the hunting days were over. Also buying a house caused a cash shortage, and with albums generally being between £10 - £15, few albums were actually bought.

Then came the Internet.

Around 1997 having gained access to the webby wide world, I found that you could get hold of CDs a lot cheaper from the US or Canada, even when postage was added on. Also eBay provided lots of cheap second hand albums (and they were cheap back then, before all the power sellers took over and the rest of the country logged on). A new job in 1999 bought a better cash flow and my collection exploded. Vast amounts of music information was readily available and the actual music easy to get hold of at a decent price. In some ways it was all too easy. Did I appreciate the music more if I spent time and effort hunting and travelling, obtaining the album with scuffed sleeve but still decent quality vinyl, and playing it praying that their wasn't going to be an enormous POP right in the best part of the album? Now I could read about a band I hadn't heard of before, click a button, and sometimes as fast as the following day a CD plopped onto my front door mat. I don't think it does matter as far as the music goes, but my collection of LPs is something of a nostalgia fest whenever I go through them. When you have trudged down a busy high street with a delicate piece of vinyl battling against the gale force wind that is blowing the bag into other peoples knees before enduring the hour long bus journey home, you tend to spend more time gazing at the art work, the lyrics, and as such I am far more likely to know what the tracks are called from my vinyl days. Nowadays I know that the fourth track is great, but not necessarily know what it is called and I am sure there are some CDs whose booklet has never left the jewel case.

And now we have MP3s for instant downloads. You can usually find out was a band sounds like for free, watch a live performance for free, and make your mind up before downloading what you want, NOW! The technology for creating recorded music is more accessible to all and as such anybody who wants to make an album can do so, put it on the 'net and let people hear it. There are so many sources of free music that I couldn't possibly listen to it all before I die.

I have the entire world of music at my fingertips, now what shall I listen to . . .

163 days of music?

I am still spotting some errors in Amazon's MP3 data. The "longest"
track I have found so far is the following.

That's over 163 days long! Not bad for 79p :)

Friday, 6 February 2009


I accidentally spoonerated the other day, and from now on a particular food stuff will always be called something else in our household.

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I introduce you to the delights of ...

Dalek Go Balls!

They exterminate your breath.