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To briefly sketch out the basics- Ebay is an auction site. You register to buy and sell, put photos and a description of your item on the site, wait for the bids to roll in- Ebay make their money from a cut of your final selling fee.
This stuff aside, over the past year or so, there has been a lot of change on Ebay which has caused many customers to question it's continuing validity.
Where the original purpose of the site was to encourage mutual trust and make a fair trading site for all, this has become increasingly biased in favour of the buyer, whilst fee's have continued to rise, making it less and less attractive for the former core users of Ebay- people clearing their houses of clutter.
The most recent change is the alteration of the feedback system, so now only buyers are allowed to leave negative feedback. Previously, at the end of each transaction, the buyer and seller both had the opportunity to rate their trading partner 'positive, neutral or negative'. Whilst it's hard for some people to shake the idea of 'customer is always right', Ebay was never about shop and customer- it was about mutual trust. Therefore if a buyer bid on an item with no intention of paying, they would receive a negative rating, other sellers would see this, and ban such flakes from bidding on their items.
Not any more- now it would be quite possible for someone to bid on an item, refuse to pay, and then leave a negative feedback for the seller, who then has to go to an extraordinary amount of effort to have it removed, and nine times out of ten, it ends up remaining, however unjust.
It has also become very possible for buyers to claim partial refunds on threat of negative feedback. The whole system of trust has been totally shattered.
Ebay's continuing association with it's evil offspring, Payal is another major cause for concern. I believe it is now compulsary for Paypal to be accepted as a method for paying for any auction. Firstly, unlike every other money transferral system, they take a percentage from the receiver of the money. 3.4%. Secondly, in the case of a lost package, Paypal will ALWAYS side with the buyer, unless there is proof of postage- so any seller accepting paypal is basically forced to pay for proof of postage.
On the surface, this sounds harsh, but vaguely fair- however Ebay has now introduced a 'maximum packaging charge'...
All of the above complications, plus a total inability of Ebay to supply any kind of customer sevices, amounts to a massive organisation, making huge amounts of money for basically annoying more than half it's customers
I truly hope some worthy alternatives crop up soon...
Listeners approaching this album knowing of Gene Clarks time in The Byrds would be advised to listen first- even by the standards set by his preceding albums, this is a huge stylistic leap!
That out of the way- for me, this is the high water mark of Americana/Alt Country/Country Rock. In addition to the IMMENSE soul of Gene Clarks singing and writing- rather than the coked up cockyness of, say the Eagles, Gram Parsons etc- we have on this album a truly ambitious production that still sounds like nothing else attempted before or since
Take the title track for example- in addition to the expected drums, guitar bass backing, there is a synth processed lead guitar, gospel backing vocals and a weirdly treated lead vocal- very out of the ordinary for the conservative country rock market- indeed, there is barely anything country about that track at all. Other songs, such as the beautiful 'silver raven' tread slightly more familiar paths stylistically, but again, with a unique production that lifts them above and beyond what you'd expect.
This album sank without trace upon release. After it's completion at a grand total of $100'000, Clark, frustrated with the lack of promotion, basically beat up his label boss in a restaurant, ensuring no more albums, and even less support. A real pity!
1) Favourite last dance smoochie
I don't really like dancing much, but that's not to say I don't like romantic music- probably something by Dennis Wilson, maybe 'end of the show'
2) Best cover version- You Showed Me by The Turtles- the original version of this by The Byrds is nothing more than a demo, but the imaginitive re-arrangement by The Turtles on their 1968 album 'battle of the bands' really makes the track special!
3) Worst cover version - there are so many to choose from! Didn't Will Young do light my fire or something? Basically any time a mindless chart pop act, someone off pop idol or something tackles a classic song, a little piece of me dies.
4) Best Male Vocal- a close tie for four people for me- Gene Clark, Dennis Wilson, Colin Blunstone and Scott Walker- Scott Walker is an ace storyteller- Dennis Wilson had that chain smoking croak down amazingly, with masses of soul, and Gene Clark and Colin Blunstone just have beautiful voices.
The thing I massively appreciate about ALL of them, is that they really make you believe what they are singing. Whatever they sing, they really convinvingly get across
5) Best Female Vocal- a harder question to answer than best male vocal, maybe because I'm a man, I can relate more to male singers- there are lots of female singers I like, mind- Gal Costa springs to mind...ace brazillian weirdness on her first album
6) Best Duo + / Group - Gotta be the Beach Boys. More talent in their drummers little finger than in most bands- lots of varied albums, and they probably made twenty or so GREAT ones before descending into sax drenched eighties production hell!
7) Most memorable Song- 'save my soul' by Wimple Winch...this song just hits you out of nowhere! One of the most exciting things I've ever heard
8) Your Song- Love in the City by The Turtles...a much underrated song by a band too often dismissed as a lightweight chart act. Their albums often contained really strong songs, and it is close to a war crime that this single didnt' chart.
9) Best Female Vocal Performance- makin' love to you by Princess Balou- this cheeky stripper created one of the first mashups by sorta grunting over a jazz funk instrumental. Never fails to get the dancefloor going!
10) Best Male Vocal Performance Thoughts of You by Dennis Wilson- this makes me cry
11) Most Poignant Song- See above
12) All Time Favourite Album. Impossible! Three possibilities are Scott four by Scott Walker, Pacific Ocean Blue by Dennis Wilson, and No Other by Gene Clark, though
13) Best Music Video - most of the music I'm into is so old it doesn't come with a video- but there is a terrific piece of footage of dutch indo rock act The Tielman Brothers doing 'rollin rock' on youtube, that melts my face every time I see it. Search for it!
14) Best Act Ever- still the Beach Boys
15) Best TV / Film musical piece- I like the soundtrack to Raumpatrouille- a german sci fi programme from the sixties. It's a brilliant mix of spacey affects and easy listening grooves
16) Best personal computer ( any ) music software- Protools ;)
Of all The Beach Boys albums, this more than any other is the album that should be stamped 'not safe for casual listeners'.
Recorded immediately after Brian Wilson chose to abandon their ambitious 'Smile' project, this record was recorded in his home studio in a couple of days, whilst smoking the $2000 worth of hash they'd bought, and it sounds like it.
Apart from the then recent singles 'good vibrations' and 'heroes and villains', which kicked off each side of the original vinyl lp, none of the tracks utilised the slick session men that had been such a big part of their studio sound- so the instrumentation is largely organ, bass guitar and bongo's- plus of course the 'instrument' that is The Beach Boys trademark harmony sound- which is fully present and correct here, albeit slightly marred by the amounts of dope they'd been imbibing- such as the burst of laughter just seconds into 'little pad' and Carl Wilsons spot of laryngitis in 'Wonderful'
That description aside- which should be enough to warn off fans of their surf sound- this is a WONDERFUL album, and a real treat for fans. The songwriting as ever, is superb, and more playful than on the preceding 'Pet Sounds'. I'm going to rate this album five stars- but rest assured, The Beach Boys as represented on this album were TOO STONED TO SURF!
And so- the most feted band of the sixties ends with a whimper, rather than a bang.
This album was largely recorded BEFORE Abbey Road, but kept in the can as it wasn't felt strong enough to release- and frankly, it still sounds patchy.
That's not to say ALL the songs are bad- Two of Us is a charming remniscence of a misspent youth, and 'long and winding road' is a lounge classic worthy of Sinatra.
However, too much of the rest of the record suffers from what is my main problem with most later period Beatles music- a shocking lack of sincerity, and the belief, still held by McCartney, that worthwhile music can be spontaneously knocked off in ten minutes. Well, sometimes it can, and sometimes it can't- songs like 'dig it', 'maggie mae', 'dig a pony' 'one after 909', may have been fun to play, but they have no place on a good record!
Something that is often criticised about this record, is the post production work added by Phil Spector- strings, choirs etcetera. Frankly, I think that largely holds the album together, and makes it sound much better than it actually is- however, nothing can compensate for quality songwriting, and this album only just about half provides that.
Having really enjoyed the crowd pleasing, swash buckling romp that was the first two parts of this trilogy, I was WILLING the concluding third to be equally as brilliant- it even took me three or four days after first seeing it, to even be able to admit to myself, that this movie is verging on being an appalling travesty of a conclusion.
Where the first two movies a firmly focussed on the character of Captain Jack Sparrow- played by Johnny Depp, his being eaten by a giant sea monster at the end of the previous movie means that a fair amount at the start of THIS film, is engaged with finding him. This really spells the kiss of death from the start. The character of Captain Jack is all charm, humour and wit- and without him, the remaining cast are revealed for the unlikeable, one dimensional characters that they have been all along.
Sure, Keira Knightlys character is a gutsy heroine by this point in the trilogy, but Orlando Bloom? His character seems to have one thing on his mind- and that is selling out anyone and everyone in a mad attempt to bring his cursed father back from the dead. Now in some ways, this might have been seen as admirable, but the screenwriters failed here to keep the audience empathising with him- and therefore almost had me shouting at the screen by the end. I could barely bring myself to watch the scene where Keira forgives him, and they live weirdly (i wont give away the ending TOO much) ever after
Overall I think this was a wasted opportunity. It could have and should have been SO much better, but simply fails to live up to the promise of the first two films in the series
Like many young teenagers, when I first started playing the guitar, I simultaneously became obsessed with Jimi Hendrix- therefore, i HAD to have a Fender Stratocaster, like he played.
It was only as I carried on learning, that I realised there was more to Fender guitars than a whammy bar, and a hell of a lot of distortion
Originally designed for, and prized by country players for their clean, bright tone, with a dry sustain, the first Fender guitars were born out of the lap steel electric tradition, rather than the archtop acoustic guitar tradition of their main competitor, Gibson, and surprisingly, they proved far more versatile as time and styles progressed- despite their almost total abandonment of 'traditional' guitarmaking woods such as mahogany, for alternative materials such as ash and alder!
If you are in the market for an electric guitar, you can't go TOO far wrong with a fender, in terms of versatility and future resale value.
From their beginnings as an american company, there are now fender factories in America, Mexico and Japan. A note of caution must therefore be applied. The American and Japanese guitars made today are of very good quality- the mexican guitars, far less so- I would be wary of buying a mexican fender online- but be sure to try one in person, rather than relying on my judgement- it may be, as is so often the case in the guitar world, that an individual guitar may just suit you.
One word on vintage Fenders- older strats and telecasters have been priced WAY out of reach of most mortal guitar players by the collectors market, yet there are still comparitively cheap older fenders to be had. Fender Musicmasters and Duo-Sonics, their student models were made from 1956 until the early eighties, and early examples can still be had for under a thousand pounds, in contrast to their more famous brethren, which regularly sell for over twenty times that amount, in clean shape!
These guitars STILL have the famous fender tone, and the cool aged look that is fashionable these days. Watch out for them!
I have to say, I'm a little amazed- nay SHOCKED that I am writing the first review for this album on this site.
How can this be? Sure, it's initial release was diluted somewhat by lead track 'Mrs Robinson' being shared with the soundtrack album of the same title- but given the forty years that have passed since then and now, this record should be firmly engrained in the public conciousness.
Now- as a long time record hunter, I know full well this is the album of theirs you see least- after the chart topping 'bridge over troubled water' and the earlier pop successes. However, on an artistic level, this is probably their peak. From the moody film noir cover, to the lush, phased production, this is Simon and Garfunkel as you had never, and would never hear them again.
The songs veer from the sinister intensity of 'save the life of my child' to the lightweight fun of 'punky's dilemma' and 'fakin it' via the classic songwriting of 'America'- and the downright odd 'voices of old people'- which is literally what it says on the tin- the recorded voices of old people talking'.
This is a great, varied album- listen to it- your ears will love it if you do.
If I won the lottery (assuming it was a sizable amount- lets say £2million+), I would basically spend it all on guitars and records.
Now, despite my love of possessions, I am a fairly frugal and canny man. I'm not interested in buying an ostentatious house, car, or going on lots of holidays- I would certainly BUY a house, but it would likely be somehwhere fairly spacious but cheap- which more or less rules out the south east of england, where I live at the moment. A house in my normal suburban street sold for half a million quid last year, so obviously, 2million wouldn't go terribly far without some thought.
No, I would buy a farmhouse somewhere in the European countryside...I like Brittany, so maybe there. This would set me back under £300 thousand pounds.
I would also invest in a couple of terraced houses, up north in a student town. The rent on these would provide SOME income, and if I bought wisely I would be able to sell them on at a profit at some point as well.
That out of the way- I think the interest on the remaining 1.4 million or so, would be more than enough to indulge my guitar and record collecting fantasies, and live a comfortable life.
My personal ambitions don't really extend to far beyond playing the guitar and listening to records, so if it turned out that there was some money left over, I would POSSIBLY donate some to charity- but I'm not going to lie to you. My first priority on winning the lottery would be sorting out a way that I'd never have to lift a finger to do anything I didn't want to do, ever again
Do I buy lottery tickets? No, I'm too stingy. ;)
This is the type of album that sounds very much like it burst, fully formed from its creators (shiny) head, with a totally pain free birth.
Having left Roxy Music the year before it's release- Eno was, at the time considered as much of a pop star as Bryan Ferry- and their quarrells,and Eno's subsequent departure from the band were very publically discussed. With that split- a large part of the early Roxy sound went with Eno- what remained was Bryan Ferry's ego, the suits, the lounge lizard, and what went with Eno was the maverick synth noises, incredible arrangements, and something no-one had expected from his Roxy days- a sterling songwriter, distinctive, enthusiastic singer, and all round GENIUS producer.
The songs on this record- in contrast to his later ambient records, are three minute pop songs, born out of a dream. Whimsical lyrics a la Syd Barrett, and singalong melodies are the order of the day, and with the retro/future production flourishes brought by the primitive synths he was so fond of, a distinctive sound is created that paved the way for many of todays synth pop acts.
In all- this is the type of record that has the capacity to appeal to both casual and geeky listener, and if you don't know it, and are at all interested in Roxy Music, or recent acts such as Broadcast and Ladytron, you should investigate
I recently got the chance to use one of these in a studio- having lusted after one on paper several years back, but eventually buying an original analogue 'MS-10'.
I'm really glad I went for the seventies synth. The microkorg falls somewhere between a casio keyboard and a digital synth- whilst it has been dressed up to look cute and analogue, it is actually a soul-less digital beast, with impenetrable controls, and an array of artifically reverbed sounds that just don't sound good to these ears.
Of course- the thing that will first attract people to this, is the nifty inbuilt vocoder, and that IS a nice thing to find on such a keyboard, but there are only so many times you can use that effect before the novelty wears off- such an instrument must rest on its inbuilt tones, and this machine simply doesn't deliver.
If you want something that looks cool and sounds decent- buy a casio keyboard and spice it up with some cheap guitar pedals. It would at least sound more unique than the generic, synth by numbers sounds this delivers.
When the original Burns company was set up 1960, out of the ashes of 'Burns/Weill', there were few if any decent quality mass produced electric guitars being made in the uk. Sure, there were other companies making guitars- Watkins and Dallas spring to mind, but they were invariably of low- middling quality.
The earliest guitars Burns put out set the quality level they were to be known for- the budget priced 'Sonic' model, and the more expensive Vibra Artiste. Both had two important factors in common- solid mahogany bodies, with glued in, heel-less necks, and powerful tri-sonic pickups, modelled on Henry Weill's pioneering devices that were fitted to the Burns Weill guitars, and his own Fenton-Weill guitars.
It is difficult to go far wrong with the combination of glued in necks, and all mahogany construction, and sure enough, these guitars soon found favour with players throughout the uk and beyond. Soon came a wider range- with more Fender influenced bolt on neck models, but one thing remained - the quality was always superb, having more in common with Gibson and Fender than to other English manufacturers (with the notable exception of the aforementioned Fenton-Weill, who had their moments as well)
Following a sale to the us organ company, Baldwin in the mid sixties, Jim Burns left the company, and it soon wound down, unable to function without his maverick touch.
Always better at guitar making than business, Burns had a couple of unsuccessful attempts at reviving the company in the late seventies and early eighties, but it was left until the late nineties when afficionado Barry Gibson took on the marque, and revived the company with some reissues of classic models (including the hank marvin signature model), and some new designs.
Whilst these are undoubtedly quality guitars, I personally feel they have strayed too far from the original designs, and apart from the custom manufactured high end models, few have the unique Burns spirit- although many of the guitars, in fairness feel better than the originals, few capture the sound.
This cd release is a prime example of where more is sometimes less- in this case, the bonus tracks here, whilst of a consistently high quality, equal to the original album actually detract from the listening experience, taking The Who's advertisting driven concept album from a snappy, easy to digest 37 minutes, to something approaching 70!
The opening track is one of the few occasions after their debut record where The Who relied on outside compositional help- and what a good move that was! 'Armenia City in the Sky' is a masterpiece...one minute into the album, and you're off to a flying start. Following swiftly after that- is an advert for baked beans, and you're wondering whether Heinz actually DID pay The Who for advertising their product!
That is pretty much the pattern of the record- a mix of great, high energy pop songs, and humourous advertising interludes. Therefore this album is EXACTLY what The Who did best- high energy fun- before Pete Townsend got ideas above his station, and decided to write meaningful rock operas!
Buy this album, programme your cd player to the original running order, and get to know it well. Only then, progress to the bonus tracks
Despite their near total lack of chart success at this stage in their career, the Kinks proved that they were here for the long haul with this classic 1968 release.
It is only recently that this record has started getting the kudos it deserves- but it is highly overdue. There is a general theme of longing for the recent past throughout the lyrics of the record- a hankering back to an idyllic country childhood that the Kinks, being london boys, never actually had...it makes for a strong listen, even for the casual lyric listener (which I am)
Stylistically, thankfully, the music stays well away from the annoying pastiches so favoured by some of their contemporaries when singing about the past (i'm looking at you, macca)- the sound, whilst modern for the period it was recorded in, is also stunningly original in places- a natural sounding enlish outgrowth of the blues sound they began with in places- last of the steam powered trains, for example, extensions of the power chord riffing they began with in 'johnny thunder' and a gentle, baroque acoustic sound on the title track, and picture book.
This is not an album that is choc full of hits, for the average kinks listener- not even close to a greatest hits collection- but it IS full of quality music. Avoid this at your peril!
This album represents a band falling apart- destroyed through TOTAL over confidence.
After the artistic and commercial triumph that was Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club band, The Beatles could do no wrong, and no one felt that more accutely than they! Hence, rather than the sound of a group trying their darndest to compete with their closest rivals- The Beach Boys, this is the sound of four men who felt that everything they touched would turn to gold. Hence, there are a lot of songs on this record that wouldn't have got anywhere near to being released by a lesser band- they are simply not good enough!
That's not to say ALL of this record is bad- it definitely has it's moments- George Harrison's- long long long is thoughtful and beautiful, as is 'while my guitar gently weeps', and Macca's 'helter skelter' is noisy fun- but too much of the rest is smug, self satisfied nonsense. No one should be forced to listen to the embarrassing 'obladi oblada' more than once, and throwaways like 'continuing story of bungalow bill', don't pass me by, and why don't we do it in the road, should have had just that done to them- and been thrown away.
I know a lot of people love this album, and I don't mean to offend anyone, but there are lots of reasons to fall in love with a record- but the only one this album has going for it, is that it slots into the giant myth that is The Beatles. Frankly, any true fan of this band should see this as a sad epitaph to the ambition they once had.