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mikemelmak

mikemelmak

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Snowed under with work but I hope to post something new as soon as I can organise some photos.

Reviews written

since 01/03/2014

22

Zoom 505 11/11/2017

Zoom 505 - The Most Successful Multi-Effects Unit Ever?

Zoom 505 The Zoom 505 ( II ) is a marvellously versatile multi-effects unit / pedal primarily for the electric guitar. It is a combination of numerous single effects, namely, compression, distortion, equalization, noise reduction, amp simulation and modulation & delay / reverberation. These sound effects are pre-programmed in 36 separate memory locations, sub-divided into 6 " Banks " for convenience. These sound samples or patches comprise a chain of these effects which can be individually tweaked, edited or turned off by adjusting the effect parameter settings. By pressing down on the pedal on the right you select the first patch in the first Bank and so on; by pressing the left pedal you go back to the previous patch. By pressing the + or - keys you switch directly to the next Bank ( designated A - F ) . A red LED displays the current patch e.g. A5, F3 etc. Select the effect to be edited by the rotary dial; press the + or - key to change the settings; press the STORE key to save. This is the essence of the editing process but consult your user manual for a fuller explanation. This compact unit is housed in tough plastic with a steel base plate and is exactly the size of a CD jewel case, with the depth less than 4 stacked cases. It can run on the mains via an adapter or by 4 AA penlight batteries ( about 28 hours usage with alkaline ). This marvel of electronic miniaturisation uses digital sound samples with an A / D 16 bit, 64 times oversampling converter and a D / A ...

Forever Changes - Love 07/06/2017

I Love Forever Changes - A New Experience in Groovy Sound

Forever Changes - Love With an imminent General Election, a thought crossed my mind - if a week is a long time in politics then 50 years is an eternity in the fast moving world of popular music. In 1967, Paul McCartney said that pop was the new classical music, and to back up his statement The Beatles released the most famous album of all, Sgt.Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band on June 1st that year. More politics anon. Your new Forever Changes CD is the 2001 Digitally Remastered Reissue and comes in a card slip-cover. Inside the 24 page cover booklet reproduces the original LP front and back covers, and contains a lengthy essay, rare period photos and full recording and musician credits, including all the session players. This " miniature " is worth the price alone and is in the same class as The Beach Boys Pet Sounds CD booklet, which is exemplary. The Original LP The LP was first released in Nov.1967 on the Elektra label in the U.S. in both mono and stereo ( EKL / EKS (7)4013 ) , with the U.K. release 3 months later. My used copy was bought from the Notting Hill Music Exchange for £5 and is an as new early 70s reissue on the Elektra Butterfly label ( K 42015 ) and is stamped " A1 " on the inner run-out groove i.e. it's a first pressing from the master stampers. Needless to add, the sound quality is indescribably good. *** This is a long review and to avoid eye strain if you do not require so much detail, please go straight to the Songs section, skip over what you want, and then the final ...

Levi's 511 Skinny Jeans Men 24/05/2017

Levi's 511 Denim Jeans - Elegance For Today's Trendsetters

Levi's 511 Skinny Jeans Men For the last in my mini series of Levi's reviews, I'll be focusing on the 511 Men's Denim Jeans. I recently bought a Levi's Trucker Denim Jacket in black and needed a new pair of matching Levi's Denim Jeans - but what to buy? I spent ages browsing the full product range on the levi.com website. Here is my summary to save you some time. Levi's Denim Jeans - Lot Numbers & Styles All available in black and most shades of blue from ice stonewash to dark indigo blue. Most priced between £85 - £125 and in waist sizes 30" - 44" and length 30" - 36". 501 - The original classic button fly jeans cut in a regular fit, straight leg and mid rise. I own 3 pairs of these and my favourite. 502 - As above with a tapered leg. 504 - Regular fit, straight leg, low rise with zip fly. For medium to athletic builds with more room in bottom and thigh. 505 - Slim fit. As above. 510 - Skinny fit, straight leg, low rise with zip fly. Tighter fit for the younger wearers. 511 - Slim fit, straight leg ( slight taper ), low rise with zip fly. For average builds. Waist sizes 27" - 40", length 30", 32", 34", 36". Prices :@ £85, £90, £95, £100, £105, £125 ( selvedge - premium heavyweight denim ). Also available in white and grey. Cut-off 511 Shorts @ £50. 512 - Slim fit, tapered leg, mid rise with zip fly. For slimmer builds. 514 - Slim fit, straight leg ( slight taper ), low rise with zip fly. I own 2 pairs and there isn't much difference from the 511 - perhaps slightly skinnier. £85. 517 - Regular fit, ...

Levi's Denim Jacket Men 27/04/2017

Levi's Denim Jacket - World's Finest Casual Wear

Levi's Denim Jacket Men My last review of the Levi's 501 Jeans was so well received that I'm encouraged to step outside of my comfort zone and into the exciting world of fashion once more. Spring is in the air and I've identified and budgeted for essential garments to add to my wardrobe. Foremost is the Levi's Trucker Denim Jacket to replace my old one. Hallmarks of the Levi's Trucker Denim Jacket The San Francisco based Levi Strauss & Co. are responsible for two of the most iconic and successful fashion garments of the 20th century - the Levi's 501 Jean ( 1890 ) and the Levi's Trucker Denim Jacket 557XX ( designed c. 1962 ). The first Levi's Denim Jacket was the 506XX in 1905, this was a blouson style with pleats, and over the years different designs and lot numbers were launched. The 557XX evolved into the 70503 ( with side pockets c.1985 ), 70505, 70518 and 71205. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and these are the distinctive features that you should look out for in a genuine Levi's Denim Jacket:- * Two front pointed breast pocket flaps with symmetrical V-shaped seams. * Fourteen riveted brass finish buttons inscribed LEVI STRAUSS & CO S.F. CAL. * Fold down pointed collar * Button up cuffs; button up waist straps * 100% heavy cotton denim; extensive double stitching * The light tan rectangular patch with the trademark " Two Horse Pull " logo inside * The trademark double sided Levi's Red Tab on the left pocket flap * Since 1985 side pockets and ample double inner pockets The ...

Levi's 501 Original Jeans Men 24/02/2017

Levi's 501 Jeans as American as Springsteen and Mom's Apple Pie.

Levi's 501 Original Jeans Men What better example of the American Dream than the story of a Bavarian immigrant who became the founder of a multi-billion dollar global clothing empire. Today Levi Strauss & Co. have over 37,000 employees in 111 locations and sales in the hundreds of millions. In addition they closely monitor every stage in the production from the harvesting of the cotton in the plantations to the weaving of the cotton twill in their textile mills. Beginnings In 1853 Levi Strauss opened his dry goods store in San Francisco to capitalise on the Californian goldrush of 1848-1855. In 1873 Strauss and his partner Jacob Davis, a tailor, took out a patent on a riveted denim waist overall for manual workers. When Strauss died in 1902, he was a multi-millionaire and left his business to his four nephews. Some History In 1960, Levi's dropped the waist overalls appellation and re-branded them jeans, after the popular teenage slang usage. The etymology derives from Middle English jean ( twilled cotton cloth ); Old French janne and Medieval Latin Janua ( Genoa - presumably a centre for the cotton industry ). Denim is a cotton twill fabric ( serge ) and comes from " serge de Nim " i.e. serge of Nimes in Southern France. An American Classic There is no secret to the phenomenal and enduring success of Levi's 501 jeans - they are simply the perfect combination of stylish design and practical, hard-wearing functionality. In the United States with its vast expanse of land, open plains, hills and deserts, ...

Wesc Conga TRUE RED 15/12/2016

WeSC Conga Headphones - From Abba to Zappa faithfully reproduced

Wesc Conga TRUE RED Hi-fi stereo headphones are 58 yrs old - they first appeared in 1958 and were made to be used with a record player. WeSC is a semi-acronym for WeAretheSuperlativeConspiracy, a Swedish fashion brand which launched their headphones division in 2007. The company ethos is explained in their statement on the packaging: - " WeSc brings the freshest headphones ever. All designed to fit the individual as much as the lifestyle. Feel at home grooving with us.Your ears have never looked sexier ". Your New Headphones The plastic earcups with their distinctive calligraphic logo are attached to the flexible headband by sliding wire connectors and can be tilted about 45 degrees inwards. The soft earpads are faux leather ( plastic ) and the cord is reinforced at the vulnerable cup end and is 0.5 m long with a gold plated 3.5mm jack plug. A 1.0 m extension lead is supplied for home use. These are full sized headphones in the sense that the earpads fully cover the ears and the back of the earcups are sealed, which provides some insulation from extraneous noise. Technical Details Sensitivity - 120dB. A measure of loudness - these are high sensitivity i.e. loud. If you plug into the amplifier of your home stereo system you will need a 3.5mm to 6.35mm ( 1/4 inch ) adapter. Caution is advised as the Conga is loud. Impedance - 32 ohms. These are low impedance headphones - the higher the impedance the more power it needs. Most headphones are so sensitive that they require very little electrical ...

Re:creation Stylophone - The Original Pocket Electronic Organ 07/12/2016

Stylophone - Well, If It's Good Enough For David Bowie...

Re:creation Stylophone - The Original Pocket Electronic Organ The Stylophone is a pocket-sized, battery operated monophonic electronic organ with an in-built speaker. The keyboard is a nickel plated printed circuit board and is played by a connected brass tipped stylus. The keys or contacts are tuned separately to a voltage controlled oscillator which synthesises the musical notes - it's effectively a synthesizer. History It was invented in 1967 by Brian Jarvis, who got the idea when he repaired his niece's toy piano by converting it into an electronic organ. The Stylophone was successfully launched in 1968 on prime time British television when the popular all-round entertainer Rolf Harris was signed up to endorse the product. David Bowie On Oct. 9th 1969, David Bowie played a Stylophone when he performed his big hit Space Oddity on Top of the Pops. This was seen by Burt Coleman, the managing director of Dubreq ( the manufacturer ) , who quickly contacted Bowie to arrange a promotional photo session. This was a major publicity coup for Dubreq because it gave the Stylophone musical credibility. Bowie, one of the greatest Rock stars of our time, said that Space Oddity was actually written on the Stylophone. He also said in 2003 that it was " The only instrument I take on holiday with me to compose on ". Made in Britain This British designed and built product was phenomenally successful and between 1968 - 1975 sold over 3 million units. Over 100 staff were employed at Dubreq's London HQ and factory at 120 - 132 Cricklewood Lane. There ...

Hohner Pro Harp C 19/11/2016

Hohner Pro Harp Perfect for Bob Dylan / Neil Young Wannabes

Hohner Pro Harp C Your new Pro Harp is a compact ( 10cm x 3 cm ) precision made instrument consisting of a row of metal reeds set back in air holes. Manufactured in Germany by Hohner, the pre-eminent name in harmonicas, by the 1920s they were making 20 million a year. The Pro Harp is a Diatonic ( a seven note scale with its octave ) 10 hole harmonica in the key of C. The notes are as follows:- Draw D G B D F A B D F A Blow C E G C E G C E G C 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ( Holes ) The notes C, E and G form the C Major Triad, so a C chord or inversion of it is easily sounded at any position along the comb or body of the harp. Any two note combination blown is either a Major or Minor Third or a Perfect Fourth - these intervals are pleasing to the ear and are Consonances. Similarly, when the harp is sucked ( inhaled or to " draw " ) the chords of G and D are easily sounded, and Consonances sounded for any two note chords except AB, which is a Major Second interval, a Dissonance. Music needs dissonance as well as consonance to give it vitality. Easy To Play Absolutely anyone can make pleasing harmonious and melodic combinations of sounds on the instrument because of the layout of the notes, but you can't play all the chords, as on a piano or guitar. Single notes are obtained by puckering the lips. Diatonic Harps are available in different keys with the most common being G, A ,E and C. " Learning to play the mouth organ isn't hard. Learning to play it well - now that's - hard ". Larry ...

Jim Morrison - Jim Morrison 26/10/2016

Jim Morrison The Lords and The New Creatures

Jim Morrison - Jim Morrison James Douglas Morrison was born in Melbourne, Florida on Dec. 8th 1943, the first child of Steve Morrison, a career Navy Officer, and Clara Clarke, the daughter of a Wisconsin lawyer who gave up the law to become an Alaskan carpenter. The unavoidable itinerant upbringing may have contributed to the rootlessness of the adult Morrison, who never owned a home. Film School In Feb. 1964, 20 yr old Jim Morrison transferred from Florida State University to the Theater Arts Department at UCLA. Amazingly, the faculty staff included Stanley Kramer, Jean Renoir and the German director Josef Von Sternberg ( his 1954 film Anatahan was a favourite of Jim's ). He graduated in June 1965 with a B.A. in Cinematography - among his notebooks was his thesis in film esthetics which formed the basis of The Lords - Notes on Vision. " Contrary to the Oliver Stone movie, Jim did not quit college. He received his Bachelor's degree and I received my Master's degree in June 1965 ". Ray Manzarek. The Venice Notebooks After graduation, Jim lived on an abandoned Venice Beach warehouse rooftop for several months, all the while writing and composing the songs that kept coming into his head. This incredible outpouring of creativity resulted in the notebooks which supplied most of the songs on the first two Doors albums and others used on subsequent releases. A chance encounter with his old UCLA buddy Ray Manzarek on the beach led to the instant decision to form a rock 'n roll band and " make a million ...

Tapestry - Carole King 28/07/2016

London Loves Carole King's Tapestry

Tapestry - Carole King Your new Tapestry CD was digitally remastered in 1999 from the original 2 Track analogue master tapes by top Sony audio engineer Vic Anesini who was also responsible for the Santana, Spirit and Simon & Garfunkel remasters, which are some of the best analogue transfers I've heard. The cover insert folds open into a mini poster / lyric sheet and includes a fond reminiscence by James Taylor. The 2009 reissue has a 16 page cover booklet with lyrics and photos and includes bonus live tracks of It's Too Late, You've Got A Friend and Natural Woman. It omits the Tapestry out-take Out In The Cold ( a pity as it's excellent ) and the live Smackwater Jack, which were on the 1999 issue. The Carnegie Hall Concert of June 18th 1971 ( 1996 ) included ten tracks from Tapestry. The Legendary Demos ( 2012 ) includes piano / vocal demonstration versions of six Tapestry songs recorded by Carole in 1970. Perhaps for the 50th Anniversary of Tapestry in 2021, Sony will gather all these rarities together for the Definitive Legacy Edition. The Making Of Tapestry Work began on Tapestry in Jan.1971 at the A & M Studios / HQ at 1416 North La Brea Avenue, Hollywood. The Carpenters were next door in Studio A making their 3rd album, while Joni Mitchell was making Blue in Studio C - there was magic in the air. The album was produced by Lou Adler ( The Mamas and The Papas, Spirit ), and was done very quickly in 3 weeks with a crack team of musicians, with all the backing tracks done live, with vocals ...

Spirit - Spirit 20/06/2016

Spirit - Spirit 1 Led Zeppelin 2

Spirit - Spirit Your new Spirit CD is the 1996 remaster which used the Sony Digital SBM ( Super Bit Mapping ) Process - 20 Bit Multiple Sampling for faithful crystal clear audio sound from the original 1/4" 2 Track Analogue Master Tapes. The original 2" 8 Track Session Tapes were also used, as by definition, you can't do a sound remix without them. Top Sony audio engineer Vic Anesini was responsible for the digital remix and remaster - his credits include the Carole King, Santana and Simon & Garfunkel remasters, some of the best transfers from analogue I've heard. The 12 page cover booklet includes liner notes from Randy California, period photos and recording information ( I can't comment on the booklet with the 2011 reissue ). The LP First U.S. release was on Jan. 22nd 1968 on ODE Records ( distributed by CBS ) in both mono Z12 44003 and stereo Z12 44004. The U.K. release was in June 1968 on CBS 63278. Spirit's debut album garnered word of mouth attention and FM radio airplay becoming an underground success. It cracked the Billboard Top 200 in April and by Sept. entered the Top 40, peaking at #31 - a very good placing in the absence of a hit single. Sales were in excess of 200,000 copies. The Making of Spirit The album was recorded in Nov.1967 in under two weeks and was most likely made at Sunset Sound, 6650 Sunset Boulevard, a studio they often used and popular with all the big L.A. groups. Producer Lou Adler is best known for his work with Carole King and The Mamas and the Papas. ...

After the Gold Rush - Neil Young 06/06/2016

Neil Young - The Goldrush Is On!

After the Gold Rush - Neil Young In 2009, the long overdue Neil Young Archives Vol. 1 finally appeared along with digitally remastered HDCD reissues of his first 4 albums - After The Goldrush is designated disc 3 in the " Official Release Series ", with many more to follow. HDCD or High Definition Compatible Digital, patented by Pacific Microsonics, Inc., is a digital process with high resolution 24 bit multiple sampling at a sound frequency of 176kHZ and mastered to 16bit and 44kHZ for CD. Digital tape recorders must be able to record frequencies far higher than the normal human hearing range i.e. 20 HZ to 20,000 HZ or 20kHZ. Or, simply put, the higher the numbers, the better. Neil Young has been a vocal critic of digital sound from its inception, and long delayed the remastering of his classic albums until improvements in the technology satisfied him. He is involved in the development of Pure Tone, which has resolutions of 192kHZ and eventually 384kHZ. The average audiophile recording is about 96kHZ. Your New CD Your CD will have the green sticker " Remastered From The Original Analog Master Tapes -Because Sound Matters " at the front. To double check, the back of the jewel box has a photo of the rear of Young's patched jeans - the earlier issue only has the printed song titles. Inside, the disc is a tan coloured replica of the old Reprise record label with the riverboat logo. The 20 page cover booklet is printed on fine grade paper and reproduces in facsimile the hand written song lyrics and the ...

Tea for the Tillerman (Digitally Remastered) - Cat Stevens 05/06/2016

Tea For The Tillerman - The Second Coming Of Cat Stevens.

Tea for the Tillerman (Digitally Remastered) - Cat Stevens You can buy Tea For The Tillerman in 3 formats - hybrid SACD, the Deluxe 2 CD set or the single disc version, the 2000 reissue digitally remastered from the original session analogue master tapes by Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound, New York, where the original LP was also mastered. The upgraded CD has the " island remasters " logo on the back and the original LP back cover passport size colour photo of Stevens amid the greenery of Hyde Park. The earlier, inferior issue just has the song titles in block letters on the back and is still on sale on-line at a low price. Your New CD The 12 page cover booklet reproduces the original album artwork from the self illustrated " Alice in Wonderlandish " tea party with children playing, to the back close up photo by Shep. The song lyrics are printed in facsimile of the original typography on the back of the LP cover. The inner gatefold colour photo of Stevens sitting cross-legged on the stairs in the dark illuminated only by a glowing circular object below is reproduced on the inner inlay in a cropped form. In the credits, the violinist Jack Rostein's name is misprinted as John Rostein. The disc itself is cream with royal blue and silver circumference and inner circle and printed in the same typography as the cover. ( For those who do not require so much detail, please go straight to The Songs section and summary ). The LP The LP vinyl record was first released in the U.K. by Island Records on 23rd November 1970 ( ILPS 9135 ) in a ...

Teaser and the Firecat (Digitally Remastered) - Cat Stevens 19/03/2016

Teaser and the Firecat - Cat Stevens' Endless Summer

Teaser and the Firecat (Digitally Remastered) - Cat Stevens Your new Teaser and the Firecat CD is the 2000 reissue digitally remastered from the original two-track analogue master tapes by Ted Jensen at Stirling Sound, New York. ( ( After mixing, the 16 or 24 track 2 inch studio tape is played back and recorded on 1 / 4 inch two-track tape, which is used for mastering i.e. an aluminium lacquer disc is " cut " from the master tape and nickel " stampers " made to literally press the vinyl records . In Digital mastering or transcription, the digital tape recorder stores the sound waves as binary coded magnetic pulses, which then have to be reconverted to analogue ). Your CD will have the " island remasters " logo and the original back cover artwork - the earlier, inferior issue only has the song titles printed. Your New CD The 12 page cover booklet reproduces the vinyl LP album artwork from the self-illustrated painting of Teaser sitting on the kerb beside his Firecat on a moonlit night, to the blown-up section of the same on the back. The song lyrics are printed in facsimile of the original typography on the inner gatefold as well as the David Bailey colour portrait of the artist. The disc itself is plain off-white with silver borders - it would have been nice if they could have copied the period Island record label ( the fluffy clouds and sun rays ). If you do not require so much detail, please go straight to the Songs section and summary - you can always come back if you are still unsure whether this music is for you. The LP The LP ...

Mona Bone Jakon (Digitally Remastered) - Cat Stevens 25/10/2015

Mona Bone Jakon - Cat Back With A Bang Not A Whimper.

Mona Bone Jakon (Digitally Remastered) - Cat Stevens In 2000 and 2001, Universal-Island Records reissued the entire Cat Stevens back catalogue in freshly upgraded sound - the 9 original albums were digitally mastered ( transcribed ) from the original session two track analogue master tapes by Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound, New York in Dec. 1999. This was long overdue and there was a marked improvement in sound quality from the earlier CDs, which had clearly been mastered from 2nd generation sources and sounded quite weedy. Your New CD The 12 page cover booklet reproduces the original LP cover artwork from the striking anthropomorphic " crying dustbin " self-illustration to the back cover colour portrait of a moody Cat Stevens crouching down among the leaves in a wet Hyde Park. I was trying to fight off the old image, if you like, and just put a garbage can on there and let people work it out for themselves Cat Stevens' handwritten song lyrics and line drawings are printed in facsimile plus the usual credits. The disc itself is sky blue with a silver border circumference printed with the same typography as the cover - this simple design is adopted for the rest of the series with differing colours and works well. ( For those who do not require so much detail, please go straight to The Songs section and summary ). The LP Record The LP vinyl record was first released in the U.K. by Island Records on 24th April 1970 ( ILPS 9118 ) . My copy was bought for £2 from the Notting Hill Music Exchange about 5 years ago. It is a first ...
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