Thursday, November 5, 2015

Jolly Roger - Third Strike - #193

Jolly Roger - Third Strike

Between general lazyness and the fact that I switched from a Windows system to a Mac (and you all know what that implies), I'm forgiven for being late. Very late in fact! I got this CD back in March 2015 and it's been on my desk ever since, being played on the small stereo system I have at my computer working place at home.

There's some Jolly Roger in my collection, but what caught my ear with this release was the fact how Rockabilly the album is. Modern/classic Rockabilly, not the watered down version you hear nowadays every now and then and yet, not the barely dusted off stuff from yesteryear either (not that I have anything to say against a good 50's Rockabilly platter - in this case, a CD). And Tuomas is right about the sound, excellent. Not polished to death and then some, just excellent recording with a clean and crisp soud.

What do you get here? 12 original tracks and they're all keepers! And for the romantics out there, there's a ballad to be found here as well. While I write this, "For Now And Never Again" has just started and this is the one ... usually it's either Rockabilly or bust, but this is good enought to make the cut. Strange, the track makes me go and fetch a Port Charlotte Cask Strength Single Cask Malt Whisky. Bear with me, I'm back in a minute!

62.7 % of peat and smoke makes a grown man cry (of joy and happiness). In general, this disc goes for a very entertaining 36+ minutes of your valuable time and I can't single out certain tracks. Tuomas, who's not with the band anymore, has nevertheless taken the mike on three songs. However, not to prefer any singer over the other, K.T., Ande and Tuomas do their part on their respective tracks and this is very competent singing. In ancient times, K.T. Kotila was with Jolly B Good, hence maybe the wordplay. And another former member of the latter makes an appearance here, although "only" in the form of the song "Shame What You Do", where Teppo Nättilä has a composing co-credit.

If you're even remotely interested in today's Rockabilly scene and if you think, some of the best Rock music comes straight out of  Finland, then this here is for you. I can tell you one thing though, the CD is not going to show up in your local record shop (if you live outside Finland, that is). Try your luck with (this is the address that's printed in the booklet). I suppose you can work something out.

I'll follow this up with a more detailed review on my website. But at the rate I'm going right now, don't expect anything before 2016. In the meantime, I'll keep this slab of plastic ready to pop into the CD player whenever the urge hits me.



Saturday, September 19, 2015

Sven-Åke Johansson - Konzert für 12 Traktoren - #192

Sven-Åke Johansson - Konzert für 12 Traktoren

Here's one I recently discovered: Sven-Åke Johansson's "Konzert für 12 Traktoren" (Concert for 12 Tractors). Being the Avant-Garde buff that I am, this, of course, quite fascinated me (and I do have some strange records in my collection).

If you want to check it out, this masterpiece (no pun intended, seriously) can be heard here in all its glory

Available as a DL or on Vinyl.



Thursday, August 27, 2015

Hurma Band - Tahdon takaisin (7") - #191

Hurma Band - Tahdon takaisin (7")

Easily my most expensive 7" (by a long shot). Just had to have it, no questions asked. This single is for sale for up to EUR 500.00 on a good day. What you get here is Finnish proto Punk released in 1979, so it's a real item from the time when this genre was making waves. I was (and still am) quite interested in this scene, although I was never a Punk myself. The first such LP I bought was "London Calling" (Clash), which turned out to be anything but Punk, but a hell of a Rock album in it's own right.

This has led to a fair few 7"s, LPs and CDs in my collection and to this day, I'd argue you under the table regarding the worth of this kind of music. It's not one and the same bullshit and no, Sir/Madam, it doesn't sound all the same either. The imbeciles (Sid Vicious et al) trying to make a ruckus and proclaiming their "vision" were very few and far between. That's not to say they didn't have a voice, just that they didn't really matter in the big picture. No, friends and neighbours, even the Sex Pistols made a rather small dent in the history of Rock. If it was Rolling Stones or the Beatles, I was always on the Clash side.

I should think, that Punk was alive in Finland as much as in the rest of Europe. Now, crucify me, but Punk, at least to me, was a European thing. Of course I know the claims of mid-60's bands from the States being the Punk types, but frankly, they are Garage and nothing more. Just don't get me started on the subject, I've enough recordings in my collection to cover most angles there. I do like Garage, but don't fly a flag that's not yours. I wouldn't be too surprised if one day Elvis Presley would have the dubious honor, to be named the first Punk ... oh, wait, this has happened already.

Here are four tracks that sound like they were recorded when they were recorded. Typical songs, that seem, at least to me, a bit slow. They must have had someone stomping on the brakes all the time. I wish it would pick up every now and then. Still, if you're one of the folks thinking this is not worthwhile, I'm telling you, you are ... right! No, forget it, you're completely mistaken. This is a period piece and really, I've heard worse. My copy looks mint, but I guess, they've recorded this somewhere near the sea, with the studio doors wide open. The swooshing is like the tide swapping up on a beach. And to my ears, it sounds like the recording is not quite in balance. The drummer is a bit to prominent and the guitar player is to far set back.

Is this "Audiophile Today" or what? This is a bloody Punkrock review and certainly not about sonic qualities. What I'm hearing is like travelling back in time, 35 years in a flash and the soundtrack of some half forgotten era is here again. To me, this is well worth the cash spent, but you might think otherwise. A few years ago, I began to understand people who collect only original Vinyl (no 2nd pressings, reissues and the like), it's as much about owning such a period piece than the music itself.



Saturday, August 8, 2015

Rolling Stones - Sticky Fingers (Reissue 2015) - #190

Rolling Stones - Sticky Fingers (Reissue 2015)

Now that I read a ton of comments on the web about this reissue and actually having listened to my newly acquired double LP a couple of times, I have to say it out loud:


The nerve they have to issue such a substandard product is awesome. This is by far the worst "new" vinyl I bought, let me see, since ... well ... ever since I started buying LPs. I didn't believe it first, when I read other folks' opinions on this. The LP was sealed, just to put this straight, but then ... fingerprints all over the records itself, dirty like having been buried in a pig sty and forgotten for the last onethousand years and, oh, do not forget the scratches(!) all over the platters. This is supposed to be an item fresh from the factory?

Don't get me started on the way the "super" box set is done (CD only and then it cries cheapo all over). The single LP without the zipper and ... look Stolling Rones, you've proved yourself that you can milk your fans dry and that some blokes swimming in lots of money are in dire need to squeeze the last cash you can get out of your fan's wallets.

It's not youth rebelling here, it's the geriatric unit. Hope you're satisfied with your brilliant marketing ploy. I think I'm going to puke. And before I forget it, the sound is nothing to write home about either. Thin, lifeless, a complete waste of time and money.



Friday, March 13, 2015

John Coltrane - My Favorite Things (Audiophile Vinyl Reissue) - #189

John Coltrane - My Favorite Things (Audiophile Vinyl Reissue)

"My Favorite Things" is one of the best known albums with John Coltrane as the leader. I'd name another of his LPs for the top spot, but this one certainly isn't far off. I assume, everyone who is even a tiny bit interested in Mr. Coltrane's work, owns a copy of this release already, be it on Vinyl or on CD (or Tape and Reel to Reel). Every decent household owns one issue at least.

This here is a double LP (just the regular tracklisting, no bonus tracks) at 45RPM, with one track per side. It's a bit like playing 7"s, you're constantly on the move, changing sides. It does take away from the listening pleasure, but ... this is an audiophile pressing from an 1960/1961 album, that's worth the cash. At around EUR 70.00 not a cheapo, but money well spent. Just let me point out, pressed by Pallas Germany and mastered by Bernie Grundman from original analog tapes. I bet, there's not a single digital step in between. This should have you salivating right now.

I admit, buying such a top of the line product is not just about music, it's the whole package. And by package I don't mean fancy packaging with gimmicks galore. It's quality I want in such a case. So, what do you get? The full album, obviously, and it focuses on music and music alone. The gatefold cover is excellent, but there's no extra service points to be awarded.

The 2 LPs (or rather 12" platters) are pressed on 180g Vinyl (not that it matters much, wether 140g or 200g, this is all the same in terms of quality). 180g and 200g is a marketing tool with no real additional value. Nice to have, but that's about it. Both 12"s are flat as can be and the centre hole is not off to any side. You might laugh now, but the sad truth is, this happens quite often and I do understand folks who won't put up with subquality releases anymore.

These 1960 recordings (as mentioned above, released one year later) stem from different sessions and were not really audiophile material in the first place. It's this early 60's recording technique, which doesn't really let the music breathe. There's always a bit of a fog on the soundscape. Not that one is really concerned about it, but it can be heard. Certainly not 21st century HiFi. Where did Bernie Grundman head with this remaster? I don't really know, there's still a layer of grease and grime on the music (so to speak) and you do realise, that it's been recorded more than 50 years ago. The master and the cut has certainly been made to bring out the best in Vinyl and this is the real reason of existence for this LP.

The 12"s are quiet and there's no background noise to be heard and no clicks and pops either. Side 1 "My Favorite Things" (13:41), side 3 "Summertime" (11:31) and side 4 "But Not For Me" (9:35) leave you perfectly happy. Crisp bass, well defined piano and drums and a leader with a saxophone that let's it shine through, why John Coltrane is even today a name you have to check, when talking about Jazz in the latter half of the 20th century.

That's side one, three and four taken care of. Initially I thought there's something wrong with side 2. "Everytime We Say Goodbye" (5:39) seemed to have been plagued by distortion. Either a bad pressing or dust being dragged along by the needle. Of course, that was bullshit, since I had cleaned the needle, made sure there wasn't a speck of dust on the platter and yet, the piano and the bass both suffered. The piano and the bass sounded like they were badly tuned and the strings much to loose, resulting in a "dirty" overall reception to the ears. I mean, you'd have to be tonedeaf not to hear this. The drums fell out a bit as well, interference being the word of the day. The saxophone seemed o.k., more or less. Looked like I had bought a 25 % bad copy (which is deadly for an audiophile record).

I didn't think it was my set up (Ortofon OM 20, Technics SL-1210M3D, Denon PMA-1500R and Infinity RSM), especially since the equipment played 3 sides without a fault. However, I did remember that I have an old test record where my cartridge/tonearm combination barely made it through. Considering that this is the shortest track, I assume Bernie Grundman had the least worries cutting this side at extreme physical levels. I believe, my equipment was just shown its limits. So, you better make sure your HiFi is up to scratch when you decide to buy this legendary LP in this edition. Well worth every Euro.