Thursday, 29 September 2011

Mono - It's the New Black

"Ooh, but it's a lot of money..."

That's what I kept telling myself (and what everyone online keeps moaning about) when weighing up whether to get this. But finally, two
years down the line I've gone and treated myself to the Beatles In Mono box set.

And I have to say, it's a lovely item - If aural fidelity isn't your thing, and if you don't care much for the physical presentation (and presence) of music then you might as well stop reading now. (oh, and if you don't like the Beatles too).

So what do you get for your money? Well, all the Beatles' original mono recordings for starters - most of which do sound MUCH better (really!) than the stereo version that we've been force fed on vinyl, CD and on the radio for the last 40+ years. If their music blew you away in stereo, wait 'til you hear some of this. For example, She's Leaving Home and Don't Pass Me By played at the original speed (that's right - the versions we've known over the years were mixed in stereo at the wrong speed), the original/correct vocal takes on If I Fell and Help!, and even the version of Eleanor Rigby without the mistake in it!! ("it had a mistake in it?" I hear you say). Oh, and Tomorrow Never Knows now sounds like the scariest piece of music EVER! Just like it used to. God know why this stuff has been unavailable and unheard my so many of us for so long.

The packaging is lovely too - minaiture replicas of the original LP sleeves/inner sleeves/lyric sheets/postcards etc and a booklet with loads of geeky information about the mono versions. Badly taken photos never do these things justice do they?

I'm going to go and throw away one of my speakers now - looks like I won't be needing it again.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

James Yorkston - Live at the Brudenell Social Club: 4 September 2011

"I have no plans for world domination...I have no plans for gig domination". And so begins a compelling solo set from James Yorkston at a sparsely attended Brudenell Social Club - more fool those who stayed away.

Spellbinding, shambolic (in a good way) and self depreciating - "I hope no one has come here to celebrate their 30th birthday" he said as he launched into another maudlin song - the set touched on various points of his career and included two "new" songs improvised on the spot: One was a tour diary summarising his day thus far, the other a dialogue between himself and his cat (his cat wants feeding, but James is too busy playing his new guitar and, "anyway" he says to the cat, "what about those cat biscuits strewn across the kitchen floor - you can't be THAT hungry"). It was a joy to be in the pleasure of such greatness.

I didn't take any footage of the gig so instead, here's my favourite James Yorkston album, produced by Kieran "Four Tet" Hebden:
Just Beyond The River

Support came from the Big Eyes Family Players - a bunch of multi instrumentalists previously seen collaborating with Mr Yorkston on the Folk Songs album of 2009 - played a set of folk covers and original compositions, their blend of traditional instruments reminding me of the mellower moments from Gorky Zygotic Mynci's Barafundle album.

Oh, and on an unrelated note, my friend Ron and I wore similar shoes that night - he suggested I took a photo so here it is...