23 March 2009

Springtime again!

2 Caitra - Year 1931

Happy Spring, all! Yep, the equinox happened and winter has ended once again. Pixie and I were out in the garden this weekend, cutting the grass and generally tidying up. We also went for a nice Indian meal at the local tandoori restaurant..yum yum! The weather was beautiful all weekend and it was good to be able to have the windows in the house opened. Now it's Monday, though, the wind and clouds have returned.

I've become fairly addicted to reading the posts (and comments) over at spEak You're bRanes, a site that weeds through various threads at the BBC's Have Your Say forum and other sites, and posts the most...erm...'delectable' comments. These comments are then ripped into with humourous barbs. It makes me laugh anyway--as well as feel somewhat pessimistic about human critters in general, like reading FreeRepublic, or 'Creation science' threads or watching Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends. I'm not sure how some of the HYS commenters actually managed to switch their computers on and log on to the interwebs--going by what they post. Thanks to David Mitchell's on-line Guardian column for hipping me to the site.

I checked in over at My Podcast to find that all of my episodes have disappeared! Apparently, the My Podcast admins did a server switcheroo (that's a techie term, by the way) and lots n' lots of critter's files were lost...including all of mine. Would've been nice to receive an e-mail stating as much. Aaaarrgh! Ah well, this just means a new beginning for the 'Stroboscope - not that it will be much different, mind. Sorry to anyone who wanted to head over there and listen - I shall try and have a brand-new episode done soon. If anyone down-loaded any of the old ones and wants to send me a disc with them on, I'll appreciate it and post the episodes back at My Podcast as soon as possible. 'Till then, dear friends...

18 March 2009

Record Fayre Round-Up #289

Solar Moon Day 12 - Year Of The Blue Electric Storm

It's been quite a while since I was down at the Oxford Town Hall for the monthly Record Fair. Pixie checked our finances and gave me the green-light for the March fair. Woo hoo!

I planned to meet Pixie's bro there and when I arrived at the Town Hall - I found I was a bit early, so I bought my ticket and had a quick look at the tables near the entrance. CD bootlegs and some vinyl were the order of the day at those. Some interesting stuff, but nothing really essential.

Pixie's bro finally showed up and we started making the rounds. I by-passed a lot of the boots at first, because I was hoping to pick up some good LPs. I found some excellent items: Van Der Graaf Generator's Aerosol Grey Machine (at £20!--oof) and Camel's Mirage (at £18--mmm, maybe another time). I was hoping to score Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here on LP (to replace my copy that I bought in the 80s, lent to someone and never saw again)--which I figured would be a relatively easy find. I checked all the tables and no luck. Maybe next time. I circled around the floor a few times, trying to make the crucial decisions. I found Ekseption's fifth album, startlingly titled "5". As I don't own any of their records and the LP was going for £8, I nabbed it. While the jacket isn't exactly in great condition, the disc itself is in pretty good shape, just a bit of dust in the grooves. The music seems decent - keyboard-led jazz-prog...if you like Hammonds and tricky time signatures, this'll be your bag. I didn't find "W.Y.W.H.", but I did find the EMI/Fame LP re-issue of Piper At The Gates Of Dawn going for £12. I figured, what the hell, I always wanted it on record too, and forked over the cash.

We were supposed to meet with Rich's wife and the neices for lunch - so I was told that time was running low. Aaaaaargh - I needed to get cracking on some purchases. I had another look at one of the LP tables and found VdGG's Pawn Hearts (at £10, too! No fabled lyric sheet, though - that would've been the find of the day if it had), Gryphon's first album (in good shape - well, a bit of wear & tear on the outer sleeve), Hawkwind's Warrior At The Edge Of Time (the edition with the fold-out Celtic shield inside the sleeve...nice!). The Hawkwind record still hasn't been officially released on CD. The folks at Atomhenge are supposedly in negotiation for the original tapes, but it may be a while. I haven't listened to it yet - I have heard a few of the tunes from a bootleg I've got, a show from Newcastle in December 1973. I also bought Richie Havens' Stonehenge, as a last-minute find. It's been out-of-print on CD for a while now, so it's nice to have a copy of it on LP, to make my own CD from.

I had a little dosh left, so I wandered over to a bootleg CD table. I tried avoiding buying from this seller. The last time I did, the King Crimson disc was an entirely different show from the one shown on the cover art (the artwork was for the "Cosmic Muir" Highland boot - which is allegedly from Portsmouth in December 1972, the show I actually bought was the Oxford concert in November 1972), the Amon Duul II boot was of really poor quality and the Steve Miller Band 2-disc'er had incorrect title info. on the tray liner. I managed to somewhat salvage the Amon Duul II show, though the quality has only slightly improved. I created all new artwork for the Steve Miller and Crimso boots. To be sorta fair, the VdGG 2-disc set and the Mars Volta set I bought from him are decent and the Steve Hackett 2-disc set only needed a bit of tweaking to make it sound a lot better. With that in mind, I had a quick look over his stock. A Steve Hilllage 2-CD show from the Rainbow Theatre, London in 1977 seemed really cool and I honestly couldn't pass it up. D'oh! I then spotted another VdGG set - this one from the Weeley Festival in 1971. Oh dear....I added that in as well. The final strike was a Yes boot, called Swirling Wind, from Maryland in 1972. Nooooooooooooo! Yep, I handed over the cash.

He done got me again - as the Yes show is definitely not from a 1972 tour, but is, as far as my t'internet research tells me, the Wembley show in 1978 (the giveaway is a couple of tracks off the Tormato album, released that year). Maybe the guy's stoned when he's printing the artwork off or something. I think I'll send this one to Singing Bear - if'n he wants it. I've got another copy of this show somewhere. Luckily, the Hillage boot seems pretty good to my ears - good sound quality and setlist and the VdGG seems O.K. as well, for a recording from an outdoor festival in 1971. I may tweak it a bit and then copy another one for the Bear! As for official discs - I did buy the 2-disc Dawn Anthology set - another of those progressive-rock label compilations. It doesn't seem to contain quite as many gems as the Decca ones, or the Harvest Breath Of Fresh Air comp., and as such is probably only for prog-rock completists.

A pretty good haul, I'd say. Now, I've gotta get round to listening to it all :)

02 March 2009

Home Alone

5 Rabi al-Awwal - Year 1430

Pixie's been in Amsterdam for the past week on a business trip and she's not back in England until Friday. She's enjoyed some of it, despised other bits. I'll let her post the details, if she wants to. It's been strange, staying in the house with no other critters about. I haven't lived alone for longer than a week since 2001. It's been a good exercise, having to cook meals, do the laundry, etc. When I was single, I mainly ate ready-meals for dinner and fast food for lunch--I know, not an exemplary diet. I wondered why I felt sluggish all the time. I feel much healthier now and hey, I've even heated up some fresh vegetables this week, which I bought myself. That seems like progress to me, in some sense. Now, if I can only learn to cook something from scratch--that'll be an accomplishment.

I watched Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain this week. I was able to choose one of 'my' films from the rental list in Pixie's absence. Originally released in 1973, it never achieved a proper showing, other than at a few film festivals. It was reissued on DVD in 2007, along with his other cult film El Topo--both distrubuted by Allen Klein's ABKCO label. It's mainly about the spiritual journey of a man only identified as "The Fool" or "The Thief". He looks a lot like the West's image of Jesus (or a typical hippie, circa 1973). You can read the plot summary on the Wiki page. Apparently, the film is partly based on Rene Daumal's Mount Analogue novel. The film is very much 'of it's time', especially the psychedelic colours and camera angles in the "Tower" scenes--but the quest it portrays certainly seems timeless to me, that for immortality and rising above the earthbound nature. It's not an easy viewing and if copious nudity, Peckinpah-like violence and little dialogue aren't your bag--you'll probably want to avoid it. There's also a bit where "The Alchemist" (played by Jodorowsky) transforms the Thief's...erm...excrement into gold. I happened to be eating crisps during that moment--luckily I've got a fairly strong stomach. Overall, I enjoyed the film and while maybe some of the symbolism was a bit obvious, "The Holy Mountain" still seems a unique experience and one that still has me thinking about it over a week later. The photography seems very visceral and Jodorwosky captures the dusty towns and windswept fields so well that you can almost smell the dirty streets and feel the tall grasses. They definitely don't make 'em like this anymore.

Esoteric Recordings are on a roll with great re-issues! Following on from their excellent Man and Supersister near-complete back-cat re-releases, they've gone and tackled Fruupp's 4 studio records. Previously only available on expensive Japanese import editions and a 2-disc anthology--these CDs are definitely welcome. Finally, all four separate albums have been given a domestic release. The booklets have detailed notes about the band's history and each album and the Prince Of Heaven's Eyes booklet includes the original story, by Paul Harvey, which the album was based on. The story booklet was only available with the first pressings of the LP when it was released in 1974. Esoteric have also announced that they'll be re-issuing The Deviants' 3 1960s records and lead singer/provocateur Mick Farren's Mona--The Carnivourous Circus (his debut solo album) next month. Those are definitely on the purchase list!

Anyway, I'm off to tidy up the house before Pixie gets home!