It was Chewy’s fault, I was looking for a CD after listening to some sound samples on iTunes. Holly had Disnae on the telly, Joycee was faffing around, but dammit there was something else going on.
I’m going “Can you hear that?” and getting very limited response. So I shushed everyone, paused the DVD (not popular) and commanded the troops to listen. They could here nothing.
There was voices, American voices, coming from the laptop. I peered into the webcam, no one there, I put my ear to the keyboard and it spoke. “Listen! There’s somebody there!
Joycee wandered off, but Holly was now interested and came over to see. She listened and looked at me like I was daft. “Wait… Listen again…” I got the wide eyes and open mouth – “There’s somone in the computer!”
Joycee wandered in with earphones “Here, you can keep the voices in your head to yourself now”. Sympathy as you slip into madness is a beautiful thing.
I plugged in and listened with the volume right up. Voices, music, all old, like a I was scanning through a radio from the past catching moments of this station and that. Some chunks were longer and soon I began to recognise some of it. Is this the DVD commentary from Dirty Dancing? I checked my disc tray – empty. A disc that’s never been in this laptop to my knowledge anyway.
I had a lot of windows open, I checked them all. iTunes had Coheed and Cambria on screen, nothing playing, I closed it. Easy listening jazz poured lazily into my earphones.
I closed my photies folders, my documents and was left with two internet tabs. One was here, have I been hacked again? I closed it, an Amercian actress continued to describe a director I’d never heard of and can’t remember now.
Only Amazon was left with The Hidden Hand’s CD’s listed on screen. I shut the tab. Silence. The voices had left me.
It was Amazon! It was Amazon! The girls vaguely acknowledged me and went about their business. I was slipping into madness and apparently the bigger danger was Belle not wanting to dine with The Beast.
I drank half my cuppa and opened Amazon again with one eye closed and my face away from the screen. Nothing. I relaxed, but I did get to wondering. Was it an odd glitch? Did I accidentally tune into the sample library or is it something more sinister? Are amazon trying to subliminally advertise or programme to you to purchase more stuff? I could believe that.
The bastards didn’t catch me though, I added some stuff to my watch list and shut the shop again. HMV store prices are matching Amazon these days, I’ll nip in during the week, Amazon can host my wants list at their expense all the want for trying to brainwash me.
Or is that what they want me to think?
Over to you Cyco Mico…
I hear voices when I’m all alone, Hearing voices but there’s nobody home, Hear the voices could it be they’re calling out to me? Hearing voices I look, why can’t I see? I hear voices, can’t stop those voices…
A Flying V acoustic. Oh yes.
I’ve been looking for one of these for ages, new they’re both rare and overpriced for what is essentially a pretty rubbish Made in China guitar. On ebay, while more reasonable, they tend to be posted out in cardboard boxes which is never good for a vulnerable acoustic guitar, however cheaply made.
However, this one appeared on Gumtree and was just a few miles down the road. For a sum less than the cost of a tank of diesel poured reluctantly into the hearse, it was mine in what was probably a very shady looking car park exchange.
I was already pleased, but soon I was more pleased when it turned out the thing was actually very playable with a little work. New strings, some lemon oil on the bone-dry fretboard, a small tweak of the truss rod and 2mm off the bridge saddle and I haven’t put it down in days.
It’s an electro-acoustic, meant for easy live use I’d imagine, with it’s shallow body which gives it a tight, almost mandolin-esque tone which I actually really like. Plugged in, it sounds surprisingly good with the onboard EQ having enough sweep in its sliders to give you a deep big-box dreanought facsimile and an ear tearing modern country trebly sprrannggg if you so desire.
I’ve been playing tunes from the Brave soundtrack on it, Holly runs away shouting Daaaaadd!
It’s light, it makes me smile, it’s a flying V. Alright!
I always wonder of folk outside of Glasgow get my misspelling of Disney? Anyway, were at Disney on Ice last night. Holly, her two pals, the three mums, Holly’s granny and er, me.
I didn’t know quite what to expect, other than the gauntlet of merchandising on the way to our seats, but it’s a brilliant show. It’s slick, pretty well performed my most and exceptionally performed by a few. Tinkerbell was excellent and a crowd favourite, but for me Captain Hook (photie stolen from the promoters website, I wish I’d taken my camera) stole the show. Whoever was in the costume was on top form with effortless skating which gave them time and space to properly bring life to the character with lovely movement and they even managed to articulate through a full-face mask so that they seemed to be actually speaking the pre-recorded words. Just fantastic, could have watching him or her for hours. Hey, there were lots of girls with stuck-on beards playing pirates, so who’s to say.
Lots of great props, a giant crocodile, a giant Ursula from The little Mermaid, flying characters, a spaceship with skating aliens and some poor sod skating on all fours as that warthog thing from the Lion King.
A highly recommended two hours of entertainment, being a dad certainly exposes you to the unexpected. Also, our tickets were £13 each and were in a great spot, pays to search for returned kids groups etc through agencies.
Collectability and rarity ruins everything. As I said to the folks in the shop when I had one of my old guitars in for a little bit of work last month “When I bought this it was second hand, now it’s vintage”. 20 years ago I threw myself into a drum kit wearing it (it sounded great), I might think twice about that now, or at least calculate how many mortgage payments I could make selling it before deciding if the amusement was worth it.
Below is a ’58 Flying V, super rare, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and leaning on a tree in my garden. Or not, it was £140 on ebay.
It’s an Epiphone reissue made in China to an average-to-reasonable standard, and as such is an “official” version of the ’58 V as original manufacturer Gibson is Epiphone’s parent company.
It’s been customised quite a bit, all the black plastic I had from another long broken V and it fitted just nice with a little trimming. The big V shaped tailpiece was in the wrong place so I moved it and routed the body underneath so the strings could still reach the ferrules at the back (the strings anchor on the back of the body), the truss rod cover is now the proper tw0-hole version and there’s a tacky plastic silver Gibson logo on the headstock, just like the original.
It probably looks more like the ’83 Heritage Reissue Gibson made when they first tried to make accurate reproductions of their classics, but what the hell, it’s a flying V in a tuxedo, what’s not to like?
It’s cheap, it’s a fake, so why bother? Because it’s a joy to play, that’s why. It hangs in perfect balance with the front strap button moved to the back, the neck is chunky but comfortable and the original pickups which I had been ready to ditch sound great, medium to hot output with a warm fuzziness and fat bottom that I’m sure most folk will hate. I’ve found myself taking this into the studio ahead of far “better” guitars for months now. It just makes me glad.
Price, brand, cache, age and origin, none of it really matters. If you like it you like it and don’t let anyone tell you can’t have fun because their thing has more zeros on its price tag.
And you know that’s not just guitars I’m talking about.
All my favourite stuff this week. It’s the US music paper advert for Sabbath’s Vol4 album (40 years old today), hence the Warner Bros logo rather than the Vertigo one.
It’s such an iconic image, even though it’s actually a bit strange. Ozzy had no upper jaw, it’s lower jaw then nose. It doesn’t even look like Ozzy if I’m honest, but what the hell, I love it.
I have so many t-shirts with this on it that when we were out the other day Joycee asked me “Have you got your pyjamas on?” To which my reply was “No, this is one of my daytime Vol4 shirts…” She went back about her business shaking her head.
…and then tomorrow’s dreams, become reality to me….
Holly demands to hear this when we’re in the motor and this live version is awesome. Play it loud whilst standing up.
Been a quiet week on here I see, but not in reality. I’m taking notes and I’ll catch up next week.
A Gibson magazine supplement cover from the early 70’s. This is the world I want to live in.
Live in again I should say, just not be five years old.
Actually I liked being five in the early 70’s, Dave Edmonds’ I Hear You Knockin’ was my favourite song and the telly was great, so if I can just visit now and again that would be fine thanks.
It’s anniversary reissue central right now. This is another cracker, Judas Priest’s best album Screaming for Vengeance. It’s 30 years since I bought my original vinyl of this album from John Menzies in the Clydebank Shopping Centre, complete with a fold out poster of the cover art, four times the size of the album, and a lyric inner sleeve which are the two things you always wanted from an album, stick a merchandise leaflet in there and it was Christmas come early.
There’s no messing with the original album here, the songs are the same as the remastered series from the 90’s, including the pointless, misplaced and shite extra song from the Turbo sessions that they tacked on at the same time. Bonus Track my arse.
It’s a brilliant album, and a constant on my iPod. The Hellion intro into Electric Eye has to be one of the best album openers ever, best live set opener too for that matter. The whole album rises and falls, changes mood and pace and is heavy metal to its core. Proper metal too, with invention, subtlety as well as ferocious delivery, not the one dimensional parody of spoofs and possibly even Priest themselves since Halfords return.
The extras are the reason I bought this album, once again. On the CD there’s a bunch of live tracks from ’82 which are decent enough. I saw Priest in ’81 and ’83 at the Glasgow Apollo and they were outstanding, any live stuff from this era is worth a listen. But the DVD is where it’s at, it’s the whole of Priest’s set from the US Festival in California in ’83. This festival was legendary, three days of music where the metal day in the middle had the biggest audience of something around 350,000. The bands on the day included Ozzy, Van Halen and the Scorpions. A good time for metal.
Priest look young and relaxed, sound good and play a blinder. The ’83 tour programme was full of photies taken from this gig and last night was the first time I’ve ever seen the whole gig. I’m pleased, it’s worth the price of this special edition.
The cover’s had a revamp to distinguish it from the original below which is a classic piece of airbrushed art from Doug Johnson, a man who has no website to link to which is frustrating given his body of work. It was bold having something so bright at the time I think, metal is supposed to be dark, but this cover was bright, bold and confident and that’s what metal was to be from then on as it rode a rising wave of popularity, Priest’s support band the next year were Quiet Riot who were #1 in the US charts with Metal Health.
Good days, happy memories and the soundtrack to my youth sounds as good to my weathered ears as it did back then.
We were out of time, I had four minutes to sing a six minute song so we skipped the intro and I went for a take. I screamed so hard on the third verse that everything went black and white and I got the loading screen in front of my eyes. The stars cleared enough for me me to get the last chorus before I sat down and bobbed gently on the tide.
We had an hour and fifteen minutes to record the whole song where we eventually went back and used take 1 on the drums and then I had to rattle out the rest of it one take straight after another. Four guitar tracks, one bass and one vocal. I was burst after it and I can’t remember doing any of it, I have no idea what it sounds like or what I played and I’m not sure I want to. Rarely have I felt so out of control while recording as I tried and failed to catch up with my grand and well rehearsed plans for the song.
Maybe there’s enough, maybe we can fix it in the mix, I just don’t know.
I’m never very sure about bands re-recording their own classic tunes. Live albums are great, but new studio versions are invariably soulless and mechanical, better modern production, slicker and more careful playing and a singer who is obviously much older. We originally heard youth, pressure, hunger and debt, we should leave it at that and hear something new.
KISS did an album of reversions and it’s rubbish, I Love it Loud played in a light hearted fashion? Gimme a break. However, with Destroyer what’s happened is a bit different, rather than redoing it, original producer Bob Ezrin’s gone back to the masters and had a second go at the album mixing and and the results are unexpected.
Destroyer is KISS’ best album, I’m taking no argument on that. Creatures of the Night is a belter, Alive! and Alive II are awesome, but in the studio KISS usually lacked, songs, ability and production. Destroyer was different, the songs were fantastic, wrestled into shape by Ezrin and the playing was also fantastic. It’s long been said that KISS don’t play much of the album but Ezrin says they do apart from the keyboards and piano which he did himself and some guitar from Dick Wagner. You can hear Wagner’s playing, especially obvious is the solo on Sweet Pain, he has a fantastic style, it’s all over Alice Cooper’s work up to 83’s DaDa and he was Ezrin’s go-to man when band’s weren’t making the the cut due to ability of drug abuse.
The production was slick, the album has a sound all of its own but also one that is unmistakably Ezrin, something you can hear in Alice Cooper’s early albums and on Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Their best album too. Oh yes. I wonder if KISS were too young to meet Ezrin halfway when they were recording the album? His influence shaped the album and KISS never sounded like that again, or indeed as good.
So what did Ezrin do with the masters? I think he made a KISS album out of it. I’ll explain that. You expect modern big budget production to be smooth, but what Ezrin has done is pull out the essence of the band from the ’76 production and let it shine brighter. The guitars have a rougher edge, a bit like you hear on the Alive albums and on Rock and Roll Over, the bass is up in the mix and edgy sounding and I swear Peter Criss is hitting the drums harder.
It’s a lovely job, it really is. The whole album sounds fresh, alive and even a bit louder. It’s not perfect though, the join between Detroit Rock City and King of the Night Time World is quite different and doesn’t sound quite right to me, it’s a mix of a car crash and guitars, but Ezrin explains why in the notes, the masters were 16 track and you can only separate those elements so far when working on it without having to make something new. To give you a clue about that, the songs you hear me doing on here have 48 or more tracks in the masters, how times change.
There’s a few big changes, one is the Dick Wagner solo in Sweet Pain, it’s still there, but the Ace Frehley solo and lead licks are there too in another version of the song. It’s rougher sounding, it’s played by a man full of vodka, but hearing it you wonder why Ezrin felt the need to use Wagner on it in the first place. Beth gets the whole original vocal from Peter Criss, it sounds different, it’s a drier production here and his voice has a lot of character in it which wasn’t so obvious before.
The other change is a mistake fix, maybe not a mistake as such, it was obviously a 50/50 call and over the years they’d wished they’d gone the other way. They hint at it in the liner notes but don’t give it away, I’m not giving it away either (partly in case I’m wrong), but if you know the album it’s really obvious. Check the vocals side one, track one. Or it could be the odd time skip in Flaming Youth. Hmm.
In short Destroyer Resurrected is brilliant, not better than the original, just different. It’s big sounding, it’s got more bottom end than the original and cuts deepr at the top too. The songs are breathing deep and shouting loud.
As a package it’s neat, a nice big booklet in the CD with the original unused artwork (above, original below) with the band wearing their costumes from the Alive! era where Ace’s face looks abit odd. The disc is printed like it’s Casablanca vinyl too, unnecessary but nice.
Okay, it is a glitch on Flaming Youth, don’y buy it until version 2.0 gets released. Universal are replacing discs already bought. Bummer.
We recorded this months ago, I’m bored out of my tits remixing it and I’m calling time: this as much work as it’s getting. I hope some of the subtle bits, aye subtle bits, really, are still visible to the ear.
It’s called I Can See You, it’s Craig on the drums and me on everything else. The bit in the middle should raise a smile for anyone who gets that far and my screaming on the last chorus nearly made me pass out on take 2. That’s rock n roll.
Should have put a tambourine on the outro dammit.
You know me, all things 70’s is where I’m at. So, when it came to thinking about live amplification for gigging again and I tried my Marshall JCM900 Dual Reverb from the early 90’s I was dismayed at the bright, thin, nasal whine that came out of it. I have moved both onwards and backwards from when that amp was tortured in half empty clubs on a regular basis.
I got to looking at where else to go. Modern stuff is all very nice and clever and good, but I just want a big loud clean amp that I can just plug into the front of and play, no fancy shite. I can get a modern boutique amp which will do that for me, but I’ll never be playing at the level to justify it financially.
So, I started looking at old gear, firstly thinking of replacing my much missed 70’s Marshall JMP100. A ’78 one went on ebay for £600, which is okay, the one-in one-out rule means that I could sell something musical to pay for that and in “real terms” it doesn’t cost me anything, but I hesitated on the bid button and wasn’t sorry when someone else got it. Time to look elsewhere.
I’ve always loved old Laney’s, very underrated and more than the Marshall clones they’ve often been accused of being. Laney Klipps kept coming up, an amp I remembered from a dingy studio one-up in a semi-derelict tenement on Glasgow’s Sauchielhall Street. It was super loud and clean with this wacky option to use the “Klipp” channel, which is probably the first ever separate drive channel on an amp. It wasn’t just an ordinary drive channel though, it was more of a fuzz tone sound, and exactly what you heard on Black Sabbath’s albums from ’71 to ”75.
I want that one.
The money for Klipps was looking silly, Americans are scooping them up and the 100watts were going for £600-£700 and even the 60watts were getting £400. But, there was a 100watt one on ebay with a low start price so I thought it was worth a shot. I stuck a bid on it and picked out a guitar for sacrifice if I won it.
Bloody hell, I won it and for a song too, it was looking like I could just sell a couple of pedals to get it. The bids were low because it looked a little shabby, it’s obviously been lying in a garage since 1979, and collectors could all see in one of the shots that one of the transformers wasn’t the original, not important to the sound as it was the mains tranny. But, collectors like all-original.
I was going to pick it up as it was only around 30 miles away, when I got the call. He’d tried it and it had gone on fire. My heart sank, the boy was no musician and I’ll bet it had been switched on at the mains and standby switches at the same time with no speakers connected and he’d fried it.
I did some digging about potential repairs to fore-arm myself and got as much info from the seller as I could, all the valves were still lit when he’d switched it back off, but there was an awful smell of burning. I made an offer, subtracting my likely repair costs from my winning ebay bid and the amp was mine. What’s life without a little gamble now and again?
I brought it home an opened it up, one of the transformers is cooked right enough, but everything else looks fine, the 40 year old electronics look retro but sound. The valves all look original and do all fire up, I tried it with power just long enough to see what was going to happen. I cleaned it up, took the photies and dropped it off at Flynn Amps in Glasgow to see if it can be saved.
Maybe I’ve wasted my money and I’ve bought a black tolex foot rest, maybe I’ll have a 100watt vintage fuzz machine of joy? The font they used to print KLIPP made it worth taking the chance all on its own.
I hope it does work out, I’ve managed to find replacement knobs for it. Turns out Laney shopped at Maplins for parts in the 70’s. More later.
Sitting down is good. I’ve spent so long on the back foot this past week that I’ve worn the sole out. My own fault as always, I’ve even left someone without heating for a week because I forgot all about them. Jesus.
However, by this time tomorrow I won’t be so worried as I’ll be watching the last of Gary Numan’s set at the ABC in Glasgow. Really looking forward to it as he’s playing songs I haven’t heard him play in 20 years or more. Aye, Gary Numan, I’m not all about metal. In fact you’re as likely to hear me listening to swing or big band music as you are metal. Benny Goodman rocks.
Since I got into music in the 70’s I still like almost eveything I ever got into, maybe only Father Abraham and the Smurfs doesn’t get as many plays as other stuff these days. And the Doctor Who sound effects record too, it’s a bit dusty.
I’m pretty sure I was the only person I knew who had a Tubeway Army patch sewn onto the denim cut-off I wore over my biker jacket. That’s something I was thinking about the other day, I’m pretty sure my cut-off is somewhere at my folks house, still covered in badges, patches and autographs. Tony Iommi is on there in black marker, and in a roundabout way that’s why that came to mind, Sabbath played in Birmingham the other day and I didn’t go. I saw the YouTube footage and I’m not sorry I missed it, three out of four original members isn’t Black Sabbath it’s, I dunno, a satanic Pacman? Think about that analogy…
This weather though, it’s kind a nice, what’s the chances of it sticking around I wonder. Thinks about tents ever so briefly and inappropriately given the current scheduling shambles.
Still had to time to fanny about with the blog style sheet though. Oh, the fonts I have in store for the logo.
Regular listeners may know that I have a thing for Flying V’s. Some may say it’s a middle age thing, fat bald man buying an Harley Davidson etc. I say it’s because they hang round my neck just right and they weigh half of what my Les Paul does.
My white one and brown sound very different, play very differently and both make me very glad. But, there’s always been a niggle. The electronics in both are completely different, the white one has Seymour Duncan pickups, a 59′ in the neck and a JB at the bridge, which it came with and I liked right away. A 59 in the neck is a no-brainer and the JB sounds different in this V, not as harshly bright to my ears as I’ve found it in other guitars. The brown one has Gibson 490r and 498t pickups which can sound like nails scraping a blackboard a lot of the time, but in here they sound bright and aggressive but with a lot of bottom end which all helps with my low B/C# tuning. The volume and tone pots, switches and jack socket are all the same.
On Princess I do this bit at the end where a hammer on three notes which ring out with a long delay and some chorus, for geeks, the effects come from my mid 80’s Boss pairing of a DD-2 Digital Delay and Dimension-C, both of which I got when they came out, are fantastic and are frighteningly collectible now. Now, these notes have a swell to them and the feedback comes out in all sorts of lovely overtones which makes it sound like there’s a harmony of sorts although it’s just a single guitar track. It’s just the way it happpened in the studio and I’ve found that nine times out of ten I can do they same again as long as I use the white flying V, other guitars can’t do it at all. The brown V is the one I play most now and it pissed me off that I can’t do the feedback thing as it’s the first song we play in the studio at every practice.
So, I gots to thinking and I decided that it was the Duncan’s in the white V, had to be, better quality pickups. So I took the scratchplates off both guitars and swapped them over, easy on a V, all the controls are mounted on the ‘plate. I took the brown V to rehearsal with the guts of the white one installed in it, and while I did indeed get all the nice overtones in the feedback the guitar sounded a little dull and I was a bit disappointed, I’d change it all back again.
While I was doing this I noticed something I’d overlooked, the capacitors on the tone pots were different. The brown V had the stock component (as seen below) and the white V had the nice Sprague orange drop capacitor I’d fitted when I’d rewired it not long after I’d got it. I had a spare orange drop, so I fitted it into the brown V and put the two guitars back together with all their own bits and pieces.
One week later, the end of the song came and the overtones came singing out, Craig grinned from behind the kit, it’s become a weekly thing, will I or won’t I get the overtones. But, it was more than that, I roll off the treble quite a lot in various songs and the whole tone of the guitar had changed. With the treble rolled off I was getting a deeper throaty growl rather than just a bit of muffling, which is nice too, but I did like the change. A few weeks on and the brown V hits the spot every time.
The moral of the story? Maybe it really is the little things that make the difference. Folk pissing and moaning about tone on guitar forums might actually have a point, it’s still all subjective, most folk will think my guitar sounds like a distorted muddy mess, and they’d be right, but it makes me glad.
£1.96 is what it costs for an orange drop cap in a shop and I can’t believe how much difference it’s made, it’s like the original component was sucking the life out of the guitar. Why the hell not fit better quality components in the factory, especially when they’re this cheap, imagine a box of orange drops at trade price? The one’s Gibson are fitting must be almost free.
Guitars, Corn Flakes, Tents, all it is is product. Never forget that.
I can’t see this new look lasting, “white writing on black hurts your eyes” my arse, this amount of white makes me feel like I’ve been staked out under a midday sun with my eyes superglued open.
I wish I hadn’t said that, it’s making me feel queasy.
Anyway, that fine motif with the robot lady below is the newish LP from The Atomic Bitchwax, The Local Fuzz it’s called. It’s a vinyl album in length at 42 minutes and it’s just one track, and an instrumental at that.
Some music I listen to and it takes me somewhere, fires an emotional response, sparks a memory or has me playing air guitar outside a tent at 1000m on a winter’s night. This album has me closing my eyes and wishing hard that I could be in the room playing with them while they were recording.
It’s everything I love all at the one time, fuzz-toned old school riffs and licks that could have been from Sabbath, Budgie, Rush, Canned Heat, ELP or Ted Nugent. The playing is brilliant, the song meanders from one place to another always with a hook to hold you until the next one comes along.
It has a groove, then a bounce then a swagger and time just flies by. I’ve found myself arriving at my destination in the hearse and waiting for the song to finish, for too long sometimes as well, folk start twitching their curtains at the shady man with a nodding head in the black motor.
I love when unexpected joy and inspiration lands out of the blue, this was from a distracted clicking of links from the familiar leading to the unfamiliar. Good to know there’s metal at the end of the random internet rainbow instead of just something with pop-ups wanting you play online poker or meet with rather scary looking “local” ladies.