Monday, April 24, 2017

Teen Beat: Joe Jackson Collected

Monday morning  and this weekend I've spent time with a three cd set I recently purchased.

Joe Jackson it has to be said was a guy who was very much on my radar growing up  simply for both a classically trained musician and vocalist of some considerable ability but also a signed up member of the awkward squad who neither follows trends nor feels the need to make the last album sound like it's the second volume of the previous one, exploring and mining a sound as it interests him.
This retrospective came out in October 2010 and isn't the only one but it has the merit of uniting his work from 1979 through 2003 across three labels and of offering a generous selection from each of his albums including his hits.
His work comes more in two phases, the earlier being very much of three minute new wave inspired numbers but with more sensitivity lyrically and concern about quality of playing than was normal back in the late 70's which includes such stand out tracks as "It's Different For Girls" from the classic  Look Sharp album.
Just as during the same era, other artists started exploring differing genres such as Elvis Costello's taking on country, Joe went back to his first love, Swing Jazz and cut an album of Swing classics but making them his own  before finding a way of mixing elements of this with rock on his Night and Day album which I feel is 'must hear at least once album' with hit 45's Stepping Out and Breaking Us in Two, the former having a video played a lot on Much Music and MTV in those early days of music television following it up with several acclaimed albums.
 I could make a decent argument for buying a handful of his albums  but this compilation does have a number of non album tracks such as his The Hard They Fall  single cover of the Jimmy Cliff reggae number and it's 'b' side and sensibly puts a good number of his live recordings such as a number from 1986's live "Big World" album on the third disc alone.
The point to say without getting super technical is the tapes these tracks were recording to have been extremely well transferred to cd bettering previous attempts and are quite simply stunning in preserving the full range of the recordings and the shimmer on the percussion instruments.
Although the packaging is bare bones, a two page mini biography and a list of songs and credits it's what's on the discs that counts.
One reason I bought this was to replace a few tapes I had of his and transfer them onto a card in full cd quality for my new mp3 player.
Given this can be had for just under £11 it is a considerable bargain.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Easter happenings

It's Friday and just what the heck is going on here?

Golly gosh Rory had gotten hold of my Egg  on Monday and wasn't for handing over so I fight him paw by paw to get it back. He can go get his own!

I prefer Thornton's chocolate to Cadbury's and this egg had nine individual chocolates with it too in separate box.
By Thursday this was the last piece remaining to nom having gotten my paws so sticky Mommy had to wipe them with a dishcloth otherwise I'd of  gotten caked in it and so would the door handles.
It's easy enough for me to get in trouble for leaving chocolate stains in the throw over covers on our furniture given everything goes flying when it's in my paws!
On Monday I watched a performance of Goldilocks and the Three Bears on CBeebies (a BBC TV children's channel) that was actually really good for having a fully integrated group of children including disabled children taking part in the story that also had dancing from members of the Northern Ballet.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter Monday edition

If you're like me you'll find trying to keep those items secure while looking out  and staying balanced  extremely difficult and need both hands for when walking as I need to hold on to things. That's the trouble when you have a physical disability like I do.
It is always more difficult if you are on uneven surfaces like our pavements here or when you are trying - I usually feel it's more struggling - to make you way around people when they're almost invisible to you and you have no idea where in that space your own body is in relation to anything never mind to try to get any one part of it to move at will purely from my mind. It's like control system for a car that's missing a  few connections.
Talking of connections the other day Marmalade got behind the dining room tv and pulled a few of them out so we were greeted by "No Signal" and the dvd play didn't work which involved a bit of bending to put everything back in again. He sure is curious!
But anyway it's the season of the Easter Bunny and Eggs so shortly I'll be nom'ing my way though them getting covered in chocolate

 This is one Mommy presented to me Sunday morning as that's Easter Sunday in the Anglican calendar for being good. I can see the dishcloth coming out if I get too stickified in chocolate!!!

Friday, April 14, 2017

The disabled week

It's two weeks this Friday so today I'm making a second day in the week post which is as well as I have been very busy this week.

One thing I have been doing is working on copying using the dbPoweramp program from Illustrate, a number  of cds to the micro sd cards used by new music player that I hadn't gotten around to so for example I have a complete set of Adele's cds and studio recordings by Genesis stored with a full set of original album art.
I think the bigger thing though is I have been getting more to grips with feeling at one with who I am, not least the way those disabilities make me and my life the way it is given much of the way encouraged when I was younger amounted to throwing a cloak over the myriad of ways everyday life is effected as if it was separate, embarrassing thing.
What passed as coping strategies encouraged amounted to an denial externally for the benefit of those who didn't want anything outside of a brave doing so well for all that girl script for me and internally not taking ownership of how my disabilities had left me and the things I need to do that are different  to manage them as part of living, part of the life skills that never happened.
Things such as reconciling the acceptance of how your life is impacted with the kind of attitude that makes a life even if it involves more support  and oversight being less of a daily chore and more about living.   Something then that's neither about denial or self limiting opportunities, having abilities mixed in that can be used while accepting the disabilities that cannot be ignored.
Much of that is something I've had to do as part of periodic reassessment of my Capability Of Work (WCA 50) for my Employment and Support Allowance income benefit claim answering a barrage of questions although last time they just saw my medical evidence and awarded it at top rate.
I'd like to end this entry by thanking my BFF Lucy for her support and encouragement over this period.

Monday, April 10, 2017


You didn't miss anything as there wasn't a post Friday so on to this weeks.

It's been around six whole years since the British acid/jazz group Jamiroquai last released an album at least in part with leader singer Jay Kay, becoming a Dad so understandably wanting to be involved in those early years. On March 31, they delivered the much anticipated Automaton.
In the twenty-three years since "When You Gonna Learn" the strongly environmentally conscious   first single for Sony, much has changed and this album reflects a part of that bringing in digital drumming but it retains that commitment to real playing using instruments, analogue synthesizers rather than computers, singling even with odd rap in an old school soul style as if we're in the 1970's. Telling it too was record mainly live to analogue tape so we have an update on that sound and if 1999's Synkronized was almost jazz funk by numbers, this is a return to the less formal looseness of the first two albums.
I bought this on lossless full cd quality download.

My original copies of Emergency on Planet  Earth, The Return Of The Space Cowboy, Travelling Without Moving and Synkronized were on 1990's MiniDiscs and while I did get the 2013 deluxe editions of the first three, I did find the sound a bit bloated in the bass and not properly expanding in an attempt to make it sound louder like so many current albums are so I tracked down original used cd copies to transfer for the Fiio music player.
They sounded much better.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Portable music redux

As mentioned Friday, something of mine did die on me a week ago that I  wrote about in January 2013 Here

This Sandisk Clip Zip  music player developed a couple of faults one being being unable to recharge the internal battery from a charger and the second being over 70% of the time it would not be recognized by my Windows Laptop so I could neither charge it from that nor add music to it. 😒
Bit of a problem, what?
I was looking at possible replacements as that manufacture has in many ways lost real interest in new players plus as no longer use exclusively Windows computers (Up with Linux!) something that doesn't reply on a Windows or Apple program to use it.
Recently the Chinese company Fiio discontinued its 2014 X1 player for the X1 Mark ii with blue tooth and a different round scrolling wheel which meant there were  number of the older players on the market both new and some used  and I was able to find one used in excellent condition  for little more than what I paid for the Clip Zip in late December 2012 which is quite a step up from that model.
Removed from its rubberized protective jacket, you can see a bigish 2.4 inch screen showing the menus you navigate using a scrolling wheel, an okay/confirm button in the centre and a back key on the top right. It may be a little old-fashioned in an age of touch screens but hey! it works and is easy to understand.
The bigger screen helps with album art often included in commercial downloads or those you might have on anything you've copied from cd yourself without the size and format restrictions that were trying.
Talking of formats without getting super technical, it'll play Mp3's from the likes of Amazon, AAC files as loved by iTunes and also used by 7digital and lossless "full cd quality" ones in Flac (Free Lossless Audio Codec) and Alac (the same thing but by Apple) other stores supply.
It also includes the ability to play 24 bit so-called High Resolution audio files some stores and artists offer should you have any which as it happens I do as they can sound better than regular cds even.
The headphone output is noticeably better, able to go louder easily when the music requires it without sounding strained and will drive most headphones very well as is.
The real beauty of this is by selecting it on the menu, it can output a very high quality 'line level output' to connect to a stereo system as if it was a audio component so you could use this like cd player except for playing your music files you might of bought from iTunes from instead without having your computer on.
On the right side of the case is a Micro SD card slot because this play has no internal memory but uses these popular and ever cheaper memory cards which means you can make a series of cards up by music types for example and just swap them over.
In Fiio's players you insert the card writing side toward the back of the player rather than the front. Presently it can take upto 128gb cards although cards over 32gb need to be 'formatted' using the formatting tool in the player before first using them to put your music on by just dragging and dropping the folders to the card.
Although it lacks a FM radio, something I do like for listening to shows like BBC Radio 4's "The World at One", this is a really good replacement for that no longer working Sandisk player.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Time together or Together alone?

Modern life is certainly very different  compared to that some of us can recall having had one form of entertainment cease to work properly and require replacement this week in this post done exclusively on the Chromebook.
I think one of the big factors has been that increasingly we are living separate lives even when we say we're living together say as partners  or with our families, often in isolation in not just our own mental space but actually increasingly our own physical ones.
It's by no means uncommon to hear of families may text members about either meal times although increasingly that's no longer shared or to have snacks fixed for them ready as they emerge briefly to return in minutes.
When I was growing up the television was seen by some as threat to their way of life, taking away from things people did together such as playing games or just talking to each other with us becoming just passive consumers of that coloured tube in the corner of the room.

People didn't anticipate we'd talk about what we were seeing to each other, on the subway or at school or work so in some way you can look at it as a 'golden era' like that family in the picture, that's how we lived including for some of us the wonders of NTSC colour that was like going to the movies, 'cept it came to you as huddled around it.
Today though we consume our YouTube, NetFlix an co wherever we happen to be and you may be watching that as someones chatting away or playing a game which is really cool but as people we need some US time as well as ME time to catch up with each other, talk about what we've seen and done, maybe gain some perspective too.
I think it matters for all of us to try to get our modern lives into some kind of balance, sharing time with each other as well as with watching or keeping up with our friends online. Don't you?