Monday, 25 September 2017

CD review - Black Country Communion - Four

Or BCCIV as it is billed on the cover which features a fiery phoenix rising from the flames - very apt.

A few years back it looked like that was it from BCC as they collapsed in a bunch of disgruntled tweets between band members.  Essentially Joe Bonamassa saw his solo career as his prime objective, Glenn Hughes saw it differently and when Joe declined to extensively tour the last BCC album that became an impasse.  Joe left, taking Derek Sherinan (keyboards) off into his solo band.  Glenn and drummer Jason Bonham briefly rekindled in a band called California Breed which Jason then similarly didn't tour the album off before that collapsed.

We move on... Glenn gets inducted into the Hall of Fame as part of Deep Purple (he was in the post Ian Gillan Mark 3 version of the band.  He was also in the short lived non-Blackmoore Mark 4 lineup).  Joe calls him up to congratulate him, they make a dinner date and shortly they are talking about a new BCC album and at Glenn's writing material.

So - internal wrangling and reconciliations out of the way.   What's the album like?

Flipping brilliant!  I'd pre-ordered a while ago and also shelled out over £100 a ticket to get tickets for one of only 2 (currently scheduled) live gigs.  I missed seeing them before, you only live once.. etc. etc.  I then read some reviews seeming to say it was an inconsistent album, patchy and not full of drive.  Well I'm here to openly disagree with all the above.  It kicks off with the first single release, Collide, totally BCC.  Booming rift, huge drums and Glenn's incredible vocals.  Whilst that might be BCC by filling in the numbers a bit it is still a terrific track.  Over My Head continues in great form.  Then to one of my favourite tracks the Joe Bonamassa lead vocal track Last Song for My Resting Place.  This kicks off with a strummed mandolin, features a fiddle player... "sorry was this a bluegrass album?" you might ask.  No, no, thrice No.  Actually this reminds me more of the folky Zep stuff and Tull etc. as other points, those UK bands that drew on folk themes into the rock genre.  For me a really stand out track.

Other stand outs you should jump over to Spotify and listen to include Wanderlust and the simply brilliant Love Remains a heartfelt song from Glenn dedicated to his sadly departed parents.  His vocals on this are just spine tingling and tear inducing.

For me ... possibly the best BCC album yet and that is high praise, I don't get the reports of inconsistency or patchy performance at all.

One ironic thing that raised my lips in a curl was that on the sleeve notes (that's one reason I still buy CDs guys... I know I'm sad) is where Derek Sherinan is now the one who clearly has another more vital agenda pushing his own new band Sons of Apollo who's debut album Psychotic Symphony hits the streets very soon.  I'm presuming the lack of touring is driven as much by his issue there as it is JB's continual solo work ethic.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Guitar work... and plans...

Long time no update... and I know hardly anyone reads this...

I got around to some guitar work recently.  I bought a Fret Levelling Beam recently (more about that in a mo) and used that on two Telecaster kits I built a while ago where there were some fret issues, largely no doubt to me bodging it before with a shorter file.  The Levelling Beam did seem to make it a lot easier to get something considerably better.

I also have been installing some shims on the necks of various guitars.  I know there is a lot said where people groan etc about them but if you've a bolt on neck it actually is one advantage that installing one is a non-destructive way to try and sort stuff out.  In particular, with my 12 string electric it helped me get a better action and massively improved overall intonation.  On one of the Telecasters it helped get a better angle over the brass bridge saddles.

Finally on the Squier that I rebuilt sometime ago it helped set a better working angle on the bridge again allowing palm muting to be much less of a painful hassle due to the adjustment screws.  To my ears I heard no discernible change in tone.  I did buy some thin maple veneer, about 1 mm thick so there is good wood to wood contact maintained, maybe plastic shims or cardboard (yes I've used that before!) are reasons why these get bad press.

Here's a quick photo of the Squier Strat in bits, the veneer is about to be cut to fit... It is by the pencil which I've just drawn around the heel of the neck onto it.

Note this is a typical sight - my tools etc. strewn across the dining room table.  Mrs F is incredibly tolerant and patient you know.  So to the plans....  

I'm planning to build a proper workbench at some point, either in the garage or the shed.  My shed is not looking great after 25 years, I think I need to replace it.  It is crooked and has leaks in the roof etc.  Anyway a bench is planned.  I've also bought a router and a sander since I've been inspired to move from building kits to actually trying to build a guitar!  Crimson guitars are the biggest inspiration on this.  I bought the levelling beam on discount as part of a competition to win a guitar built by Ben (the head honcho there) in 6 hours.  All of which you can watch, like I did, on Youtube.  So stay tuned as this will be a long project no doubt!  

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Leave Out All The Rest (Official Video) - Linkin Park

When my time comes
Forget the wrong that I've done
Help me leave behind some reasons to be missed
And don't resent me
And when you're feeling empty
Keep me in your memory
Leave out all the rest
Leave out all the rest

Saturday, 15 July 2017

A new track - Good Heavens!

Yes I've finally written something and recorded it.   Been ages I know.

So - this features my home built 12 string and my new octave mandolin....

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Great Kate Bush Cover...

Just plugging a friend of mine who contributed the vocals to this Kate Bush cover...

Saturday, 13 May 2017

CD Review. Big Big Train Grimspound

Seems hardly anytime when I waxing lyrical about thier last offering Folklore.

This is a highly credible effort, the growing membership bringing new talents notably the string work and arrangements via Rachel Hall have added greatly for me.

If you've heard Folklore this is very much part 2 and that very British prog rock with folk overtones runs through much.

Experimental Gentlemen is a favourite of mine but each of the 8 tracks is well written, constructed and performed. Meadowland has be lying in a field by a brook with swallows swooping overhead.... beautiful.  Dave Longton's vocals are brilliant throughout with that slight Genesis feel but then possibly that's the hole I think Big Big Train fill in the space a truly British old style prog rock band.

Highly recommended.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Ashbury Octave Mandolin

A frankly ludicrous and frivolous purchase!   Mrs F and I went to Canterbury for some shopping and I headed over to Hobgoblin Music, which is one of my favourite places to wonder about.  It covers from all rock guitars to banjos, keyboards, violins, recorders, then into more and more esoteric instruments you've never even heard off let alone expect to see in essentially a high street music store.

The manager said twice "Please try anything you like".   I bought some mandolin strings, my excuse for heading there in the first place.  Then lured towards the more obscure stringed instrument section I spotted an octave mandolin, which I've wondered about as an addition to the collection.  I picked up one in particular - walnut back and sides, spruce top, simple but reasonably well put together in what looks like a more hand then factory assembly hit and A chord and was like - "oh that sounds really nice"....   A little picking later Mrs F said the fatal thing "Go on ... treat yourself".  I did say "You shouldn't say that!"   A few mins later we're striking a deal that involved essentially a free set of strings for it and I'm lugging it out the shop!

Here's me trying it out as soon as I got it home - I've not taken the price tag off!

Impressions - It has a really nice open clean sound.  Being an octave down from a standard mandolin it probably better suits ears trained for decades on guitars.  As I say it's a simple instrument but well put together and particularly the tuners are really nice and smooth and reliable, i.e. no slip.

Just need to improve my mandolin playing now... of course now I'm looking at my original mandolin a budget Stagg model and thinking - I should upgrade from that now!  Never stops does it!