Trimming the playlist

I did something drastic yesterday- I removed the music collection from my computer.

I didn’t just delete it- I may want to dip into it later to pull out online purchases etc.- but I did cut it and paste it to a backup disk. It had reached over 16,000 tracks and was just too cumbersome. I didn’t know what I had and couldn’t shake the feeling that some of my music still hadn’t made it onto the pc. The sheer scale of the playlist was putting me off sitting down and listening as well.

So now I’m ripping my CDs as FLAC files using Winamp. The files are significantly fatter than the MP3s they’re replacing and it takes around an hour per album, but it’s going to be a more honest reflection of my music buying habits. It’s also going to be far better sounding when I get round to buying myself a DAC. And, because the current selection is limited, it’s making me go back to that ancient tradition of listening to whole albums rather than just hitting shuffle and hoping for some interesting juxtaposition.

I’m leaving my MP3s in my will

Bruce Willis is ‘considering iTunes legal action’ against Apple, so that he can own, and do as he wishes with, the content he’s paid them for.

The issue of ownership of digital products has been around for years, and iTunes’ licencing has long been contentious, but most of us have just carried blithely on buying songs and stuff and expecting to be able to keep them forever. I don’t think I’ve ever purchased anything from iTunes, so I’m safe from this particular problem.  My MP3 purchases have been from emusic and Amazon’s MP3 store, which I believe are more realistic about DRM and all the other stuff that makes life hard for customers.  Most of my music, however, has been ripped from CD, a process I’m about to start all over again as I convert them to the higher quality FLAC standard.

And life is grand….. 1

The world isn’t as shit as some people would like you to think. I just thought that needed saying. We are, whatever they tell you, in a better place now than we were in whatever Golden Age they claim we should return to.

People are living longer and more productive lives, child mortality rates are down and diseases which could in the past kill or cripple can now be treated effectively. Some of the worst diseases have been eradicated. Provided you don’t take up chainsaw juggling there’s every chance you’ll live longer than your grandparents. Long term the human race is evolving faster than ever as groups move around the world, intermarry and mix their genes in new and interesting ways.

Freedom is spreading too. More and more people have more and more rights and protections from discrimination. In Britain the Conservatives- once the party of nasty, and occasionally closeted, homophobia- have announced consultation on, and likely introduction of, gay marriage. Racism and sexism are less prevalent than they once were, despite some hold outs. Certainly, some countries have a long, long way to go, but we’re dragging them after us.

Technology is breaking down barriers and spreading information. It’s harder to get away with doing wrong and easier to bust a lie. I have my moments of Luddism, but I do believe that technology opens up so many possibilities it can only be used for good (on balance) in the long run.

And there’s more, but you get the picture.

Of course, we shouldn’t get complacent. We still run the risk of bringing the planet to a point of ecological collapse where it rejects us. There are people who would gladly reverse the positive changes we’ve made, who don’t want others to get the same rights they have. They’re in the minority, and mostly just obnoxious ranters, but they’re loud and some politicians are stupid enough to be scared of them. We need to keep the momentum of progress rolling forward.

This has turned out a simplified version of what I meant to say, but I think succinct is fine. And it’s all just an excuse to play you one of my all time favourite songs anyway-

And God Created Brixton 2

Far too much of what I know of London comes from Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine lyrics. It’s been odd listening to them and flicking over to Twitter to read of riots in the capital. I don’t know where all these places are, absolutely or in relation to each other, and, apart from Croydon, I haven’t been to any of them. So I don’t know how big the riots are and how dangerous they are.

Anyone I know in London- hell, anyone in London- I hope you’re safe.

I walked from my baby’s Brixton flat
Into a riot
I thought of maybe turning back
Till things were quiet
When all the buildings to be burned
Had been burned
And all the cars to overturn
Were overturned

Outside the prison they were screen testing the free
Open auditions for closed circuit T.V.
Your baby brother would be there outside the jail
Throwing bottles as the police sirens wailed
And a love song might not be suitable
But you look beautiful tonight

Death and disaster only make me love you more
The morning after the night that went before
When the brains of Brixton with conflicting points of views
Are outside The Ritzy on the local TV news

A love song might not be suitable
But you look beautiful tonight
And if you feel the same way as I feel
Everything will be alright

I was thinking,
Let’s forget about the car
And do some late night drinking
In a late night drinking bar
It isn’t far, well it’s my local anyway
I know the barman
And there’s a small vocal P.A.

Now the insurance man has left you with the news
That your third party fire and theft would be no use
And I know a love song isn’t suitable or right
But you look beautiful, beautiful tonight

And if you feel the same was as I feel
Everything will be alright

Tonight, Big Brother is watching you
And I am watching too
I will watch over you
Like a thunderbolt out of the blue
Something told me it was true
God created me and you
And God created Brixton too
Praise the Lord!
Tonight you can rest assured
The Father, Son, The Holy Ghost and I
Will love you more than most

Castaway Tunes

So the BBC is asking members of the public to nominate their own 8 choices for Desert Island Discs, no doubt so they can see how the tastes of we plebs differ from those of the celebrity guests. It seems like the perfect excuse to list my choices here as well. In no particular order beyond as I think of them, here are mine-

1. Echobelly – I Can’t Imagine The World Without Me

1994 belonged to Oasis but, though I do have a soft spot for the mono-browed brothers, it should have been Echobelly’s year. Better songs, more interesting sound and vastly more attractive and interesting singer. I Can’t Imagine The World Without Me is a perfect piece of ego and joy, it can’t fail to make me happy.

2. Inspiral Carpets – Saturn 5

I could have chosen the raw blast of Joe, my introduction to the band, or Sackville, which has the added interest of being about the street I used to study on. But there’s a power to this one. And apart from Sleeping Satellite, how many other pop songs have been about the lapsed glories of the space race?

Bonus Sackville and Joe videos-

3. Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine – Say It With Flowers

I used to have After The Watershed as my Carter song because I pulled to it once and there’s something so wrong about the juxtaposition of the song’s subject and memories of getting laid. And Only Living Boy In New Cross was one of the songs which kept me going in 2001. But Say It With Flowers gave me the title to Sounds of Soldiers, and every radio show needs a plug.

Bonus videos-

4. James – Sit Down

James made many damn fine records. But, really, there was only ever going to be one choice from them wasn’t there? It’s an anthem and it’s beautiful.

5. Camper Van Beethoven – Life Is Grand

Because it is. If I ever make a film I want this song over the closing credits.

6. 10cc – I’m Not In Love

It gives you shivers. Glorious.

7. The Wonder Stuff – Ruby Horse

Another song that gave me a book title (Ruby Red, I’m not mercenary, it really is an excellent song.

8. Frank Sinatra – New York, New York

Many many great nights have wound down to Ol’ Blue Eyes’ anthem. It seems appropriate for it to be the last song on the list.

Trying to get up that great big hill of hope

25 years of my life and still
I’m trying to get up that great big hill of hope
For a destination
I realized quickly when I knew I should
That the world was made up of this
Brotherhood of man
For whatever that means
So I cry somethimes when I’m lying in bed
To get it all out what’s in my head
Then I start feeling a little peculiar
So I wake in the morning and I step
Outside I take deep breath
I get real high
Then I scream from the top of my lungs
What’s goin’ on
And I say hey…
And I say hey what’s goin’ on
And I say hey…
I said hey what’s goin’ on
And I try, oh my God do I try
I try all the time
In this institution
And I pray, oh my God do I pray
I pray every single day
For a revolution
So I cry sometimes when I’m lying in my bed
To get it all out what’s in my head
Then I start feeling a little peculiar
So I wake in the morning and I step outside
I take a deep breaththen I get real high
Then I scream from the top of my lungs
What’s goin’ on
And I say hey…
And I say hey what’s goin’ on
And I say hey…
I said hey what’s goin’ on
And I say hey…
And I say hey what’s goin’ on
And I say hey…
I said hey what’s goin’ on
25 years of my life and still
I’m trying to get up that great big hill of hope
For a destination

What’s Up? – 4 Non Blondes

She said she said, “You don’t know shit, because you’ve never been there.”

She said she said, "You don’t know shit, because you’ve never been there.", originally uploaded by spinneyhead.

Turned around and took him by the hair. Throwing him about, laughing out, sat down for a drink in her father’s favourite chair.




Buy Bez’s taxi

For as little as £999 you can buy the pimped taxi which formerly belonged to Mr. Mark Berry, AKA Bez. It looks terrible, and only some of the elements are left over from the version that existed at the end of the Pimp My Ride episode that it was on. (You can watch the episode here. I’ve only managed little bits of it, I have a very low tolerance for Westwood.)

Today I shall be mostly playing with hifi equipment

Today I shall be mostly playing with hifi equipment, originally uploaded by spinneyhead.

TIBO AMP100 amplifier through Wharfedale Diamond 10.0 Speakers with a Denon ipod dock, £250ish. Onkyo iPod dock, Arcam rdac digital to analogue converter, Rotel amp and Bowers and Wilkins speakers, £1000ish. Linn Magic DSI and matched speakers (also connected to the Onkyo dock), just over £4000. This is the system which almost made me cry on Monday when I heard all the levels of bass in a FLAC version of White Lines, which mp3s and lesser speakers can’t begin to handle.

You can hear the difference the money buys, though with mp3s it’s most noticeable at the first jump, the Linn shows up the flaws in lower bitrate mp3s, but is excellent with FLAC and high bitrates.

Having said all that, the Tibo is excellent value. For an extra £50 you can get a cd player with it. I’m saving up to get one for my birthday, it’s the best value I’ll get on my budget. Only available from my employers, Superfi, as well.

I’m not even being a whore. I don’t stand to make any money from these recommendations, unless I can somehow link them to Amazon later. Some linkage found.

In the interest of good music listening

In the interest of good music listening, originally uploaded by spinneyhead.

For a man whose "real" job is selling hifi, I don’t get to listen to the systems all that often. This afternoon we shall be putting together, and listening to, systems at various different price points to get the best from iPods and iPhones.

I may finally get to listen to the Aktimate Maxis I’ve been coveting for so long.