Archive for the ‘features’ Category

features, music

10 reasons why The Beatles were better than The Stones

By Stefano on May 3rd, 2013

1 Without The Beatles The Stones would still be playing in back street pubs in Kent

The Fabs even gifted The Stones their first hit single

2 The Beatles had an amazingly consistent run of brilliant albums



The Stones’ 60s albums were a bit hit and miss. There is a reason why they got a reputation as a singles band

3 Mick’s crimes against fashion


And it got worse

4 The Beatles were the innovators

The Beatles went psychedelic with Revolver. It too nearly two years for The Stones to catch up

5 The Stones in the 80s


Jarvis has a point. Some terrible albums

6 The Beatles invented the pop video

Again The Stones copied them, but not for a few years

7 The Beatles just had better songs

There’s a lot of fodder on The Stones’ albums

8 The Beatles released the best album of all time


And the second best one too

9 There are hundreds of amazing Beatles cover versions

Not so many good Stones ones

10 This

Not convinced? You’d probably prefer this.

features, music

10 reasons why The Rolling Stones are better than The Beatles

By Stefano on May 2nd, 2013

1 They have the coolest member of both bands


Brian Jones or Ringo? There’s no contest there.

2 The Stones had an edgy dark side.


The Beatles would never have released an album called Their Satanic Majesties would they? The Beatles dabbled with the counter culture in the 60s. The Stones were the counter culture

3 The Beatles gave up at the end of the 60s.

3some girls

Lightweights. The Stones made some of their best albums in the 70s and beyond.

4 The Beatles gave up touring. The Stones are the greatest live act the world have ever known


So a few screaming girls stopped The Beatles from touring. Have you seen the violence at the early Stones gigs? Yet they went on to become the best live band ever.

5 The Stones were much better musicians.


Keith is the Human Riff, Charlie Watts is an amazing drummer, Brian Jones could play anything with strings. The Beatles were great songwriters, but only average musicians.

6 The bands that followed The Stones were cool.

6 Pretty Things SB 65_1

In the wake of The Stones we got the dirty punk R&B of The Pretty Things. The Beatles gifted us Gerry and The Pacemakers and Cilla Black!

7 Gimme Shelter has the best intro to a pop song ever.

7 gimmeshelter

Though Paint It Black runs it close

8 The Beatles’ solo stuff is mostly pretty poor.

8 Frog-Chorus-660-80

Ok I’ll give you Imagine and Ram, but there’s also Double Fantasy and this gem. The Stones (oh, apart from Bill) never bothered too much with indulgent solo stuff.

9 Who would you rather go and see today. The Stones or Macca?

9 today

Well if the Olympics is anything to go by the Scouse fella can’t really sing any more.

10 Without The Stones there would be no Brian Jonestown Massacre, the best psych band of the last two decades.


And the world would be a much poorer place

features, Football

Henry? Laudrup? Klopp? Who will be the next Arsenal manager?

By Stefano on April 30th, 2013

Ok, so he might not go this summer (but then he might) but Arsene Wenger can’t go on forever and Arsenal will soon have to address the issue of finding a new manager.

On one level Arsenal are still a pretty attractive club to manage – nice stadium, stable-ish board, probability of Champions League football – they tick a lot of boxes.

But the last couple of season have seem them slip down the list of Europe’s elite clubs and they can’t be quite as picky as they once were.

The manager that the fans dreamt of, Pep Guardiola, will soon be ensconced in Bayern Munich snapping up players like Gotze who Wenger would have loved to have bought. And as for Jose, the bonkers Portuguese genius is probably on his way back to Chelsea.

So with a lot of the big names out of the frame who else is there who could take over at The Emirates if Wenger does take the Eurostar and exit this (or next) summer.

1 David Moyes - The Scotsman would be an obvious contender. He is ready to make the move to a bigger club and might not get a better opportunity than Arsenal. He has worked wonders in creating teams for next to no cash- something that will appeal to the Arsenal board – and tactically he is very sound. He is not the dream manager that some of the fans want, but he could become an Arsenal legend (the new George Graham) if things go well. If things go badly though he could find himself as the new Bruce Rioch- out on his ear after a year.

2 Michael Laudrup – In my book the Dane could well be favourite. He might have committed to Swansea, but I think if the job were offered him (with Champions League football if Arsenal qualify) he would take it. He would be a hit with the fans and the type of football his team play is fairly similar to Arsenal. He also has the advantage of possibly bringing his captain Ashley Williams and star striker Michu with him.

3 Jürgen Klopp - Klopp may decide that in taking Dortmund to a Champions League final he has gone as far as he can. He has already lost Gotze to Bayern and several other star Dortmund players could be heading for the exit too. Arsenal would a be a real challenge for the young, ambitious and articulate German. Again he could bring some prize assets with him too – Lewandowski?

4 Joachim Löw – The current German manager might fancy a return to club football and Arsenal would be a good fit for a boss whose teams play fast attacking, fluid football.

5 Thierry Henry – The very long shot. But the fans would welcome his return, he is very popular with the players and he loves both London and Arsenal. He has some pretty amazing contacts too. Maybe the club could appoint a director of football to work with him in the short term too. Stranger things have happened.

Cycling, features

A2B announces 6 new Electric Bikes

By shinychris on April 12th, 2013

A2B Hybrid24

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Unless you are a big aficionado of electric bikes, A2B is probably not a brand you’ve ever heard of. But they actually launched one of the first electric bikes, or e-bikes, nearly four years ago. Dubbed the A2B Metro it was quite well received at the time but at £2500 was quite pricey as well as fairly bulky, tipping the scales at a hefty 37Kg (about twice the weight of a conventional bike). Since then the company has gone through a number of changes, including new ownership (it is now owned by Indian scooter firm, Hero-Electric), a complete re-branding, and a shift towards manufacturing its top end bikes in Germany.

Still available, the A2B Metro has been renamed the Octave and there’s also a foldable electric bike, the Kuo, which at 19Kg is the lightest in the range. At London’s South Bank, A2B also announced six new models ranging in price from £1400 to a very pricey £2699. Included in the line up is the stylish retro looking Galvani (see Tech Digest review here) and the superfast 28mph Shima.

New models:

Shima (£2,450 – Spring 2013)
Galvani – Male and Female (£1,450 – Spring 2013)
Ferber (£1400 – Spring 2013)
Entz (from £2699 – Autumn 2013)
Ørsted (£1899 – Autumn 2013)
Obree (£2199 – Autumn 2013)

For more information on the range head to A2B’s website
To find out more about the e-bike market head here.

features, Gallery, music

Ten great vinyl only albums – The Beatles, Velvet Underground, The Cleaners From Venus and more

By Stefano on April 5th, 2013

Not long to wait now. Record Store Day is coming a week on Saturday and I’ll be spending that day hunting down  obscure 80s indie singles and long lost psych albums.

And to celebrate – well we have got in a tad early – here is a list of ten of the greatest albums that have are vinyl only and have never had a CD reissue.

Except a few of them have – but either on dodgy low quality bootlegs or in legit reissues that have never ever turned up in the UK.

Anyhow, the best way to hear them is buying the vinyl. Here’s our list. What have we missed?

Lee Hazlewood - Forty £25

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In his packed 70 years cosmic cowboy Lee Hazlewood recorded a string of wonderful albums many of which were on obscure labels. Thanks to the sterling work of labels like Light In The Attic many have now been reissued. Not Forty though. Clearly the runt of the Hazlewood litter Forty, recorded when the maestro celebrated that milestone birthday, is low on Hazlewood originals and high on sugary covers of standards like September Song and It Was A Very Good Year which don’t really suit the fella’s gruff voice. There are some stellar tunes here though most notably The Bed, which starts as a depressing country-esque lament before strings, brass and a female vocal kick in to turn into a jaunty pop tune, and the rather miserable but nevertheless marvelous The Night Before.

features, music

The Stones at Glasto. The Roses on tour. Is rock and roll now an old man’s game?

By Stefano on March 28th, 2013


Well it wasn’t me who said it. The words actually came from the lips of one Robyn Hitchcock. But then again he has a new album to promote – which is very, very good – and it is his 60th birthday.

But it does strike me that there might be a grain of truth in his words, what with those hip young gunslingers The Rolling Stones headlining Glastonbury and the summer full of reunions of 80s and 90s bands hoping for one last big pay day.

And this week I had a bit of an epiphany in comparing the latest releases from NME’s flavour of the month Peace and the new album from 80s indie rock legends The House Of Love.

The Peace album has its moments, but it clearly isn’t anywhere near as good as the hyped review from the NME and others makes it out to be. It sounds like B list Brit Pop – and not in a good way.

As for The House of Love’s She Paints Words In Red, it boasts lots of crafted tunes, inspired guitar and intelligent lyrics. It lacks a little of the oomph of the band in its heyday – especially on their epic pair of first two albums, but it is way better than the Peace album.

It also strikes me that the latest crop of hyped bands – like Peace, the Palma Violets etc aren’t that great. Last year’s mob – Jake Bugg, Toy, Temples etc were a lot more interesting.

However before you write me off as an ageing curmudgeon with a Suede fetish, I actually listen to more new music than at any point in my life courtesy of the wonder that is Spotify.

What is wrong with British music fans?

My theory is that rock music has become an old man’s game – but only in the UK and that is because of the weird legacy of the old music press and the way it shaped how we saw new bands.

In the UK we are still suckers for the concept of the package – the band with the personalities, clothes, images and haircuts – as much as the music. Trouble is they don’t come along very often. The last band to perfectly fit the bill were The Strokes (who took off in the UK long before they mean anything in the US) and they made, well one great album and one good one, and the new one is horrendous. Maybe The Arctic Monkeys too, though before Alexa rocked up they looked like a few northern plumbers on a Thursday night pub crawl. It is why we are still obsessed with The Libertines too, who were a great soap opera, but musically nowhere near as good as their heroes.

So the great stars of yesterday – who had the image and the music and something to say too – the Stones, Roses, Bowie etc still fit the bill of what we except from our rock stars.

It feels like the rest of the world doesn’t share our obsession with the package. Tame Impala are a huge global band now and they are clearly way more passionate about their music than they are about their trousers. As are countless of other American, Australian and European bands.

So maybe it is time us Brits stopped fretting about outdated notions of what rock stars should and shouldn’t be. It really is all about the music now. And until we embrace that hundreds of really great British bands and artists like The Horrors, Ulysses, The Clientele, Magic Theatre, The Real Tuesday Weld, Darren Hayman and The Soundcarriers to name but a few, aren’t going to get the attention their superb music truly deserves.

features, music

Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon – masterpiece or over-rated prog rock noodlings?

By Stefano on March 26th, 2013

Pink_Floyd_Large_1233758930_crop_500x338Simon Poulter of What Would David Bowie Do puts the case for the Floyd album which is 40 years old this week.

Along with the ubiquity of fast food drive-throughs, questionable road surfaces and sparring with trucks large enough to have their own electorate, the essence of the American road trip lies in wading through the alphabet soup of radio stations that blanket the country.

As you cruise along at genteel, radar-enforced speeds, you dial through the stations like a master safe cracker, frantically trying not to get stuck on a frequency offering country music, hellfire-and-damnation religion, or whack jobs spewing forth on the right to use uranium-tipped bullets when hunting small animals.

Eventually in this megahertz miasma you will come across something as familiar as your own face, and indeed as old as your face. It will be a riff, a chorus or a solo. You have found a classic rock station.

We Brits may have developed an awkwardness towards our own musical legacy, but Americans positively embrace those who led the British invasion of the 1960s and 70s. The likes of Led Zeppelin, The Who, Cream, the Stones and even The Beatles are often considered their own, part of the fabric that built the modern American culture. It is no accident that Tony Soprano, that icon of the American dream, drove – and frequently crashed – to the sound of New York’s WAXQ, being of the generation of Americans who hold due reverence for the music that defined the rock era.

In the UK, classic rock artists – while still celebrated (as we saw during last summer’s Olympic entertainment) – have been consigned to darkening corners of the radio spectrum. Although Stairway To Heaven was never released as a single, the idea of playing it in daylight hours is akin to walking naked down Oxford Street playing the German national anthem on a kazoo – somewhere between unfashionable, eccentric and arrestable.

But find yourself within 100 miles of any American conurbation between sea and shining sea and you will never be more than 20 minutes away from a station playing a track from Rumours or Frampton Comes Alive. Or a track from one of the most revered albums ever made, one that continues to draw superlative regard as it enters its fifth decade, and which, this week, celebrates its 40th anniversary: Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon.

Their masterpiece

With more than 50 million copies in circulation in the world and a cover that even those who’ve never listened to the record will recognise, Dark Side Of The Moon was a landmark record, full of landmarks. Musically, it is the definitive Pink Floyd album (although the surviving Floyd members still dispute this – Roger Waters citing The Wall, David Gilmour favouring Wish You Were Here).

It is also as musically accessible as anything in the Floyd canon. Breathe, the album’s first musical track, is seemingly built out of an extended bluesy jams that were the band’s hallmark in their early days in London’s underground club scene, the only notable shift being Richard Wright’s Miles Davis-influenced chord changes on the piano.

flord-sdrak side

In principle, however, DSOTM is a concept album, lyrically owing much to bassist and lead writer Roger Waters’ perennial obsessions with distance, separation (the loss of Syd Barrett) and death (the loss of his father at Anzio during World War II), and a growing cynicism towards the modern world.

Not that Dark Side Of The Moon is so starkly contrived. Like so many albums of its time, it’s as much a collection of happy accidents as a narrative of conscious statements on these topics: death is covered more or less melodically by The Great Gig In The Sky, with Clare Torry’s lyric-free, lung-rattling one-take vocal (for which she received the princely fee of £30 – later successfully contested in court), built over Wright’s mournful piano. Happy it may not be, but by its end, few listeners have ever been anything other than exhilarated by one of the most memorable vocal performance in music history.

Sixth form poetry?

Lyrically DSOTM engenders some reasonable criticism. Even Waters himself has described lines like those on Breathe as “a bit Lower Sixth” (‘Breathe, breathe in the air. Don’t be afraid to care. Leave, don’t leave me. Look around and choose your own ground), but such lack of erudition can be easily glossed over by the mammoth impact of the album’s music.

Like most episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, the social commentary of Money, is dating, especially if you regard new cars and caviar the height of extravagance. Still, as prescient as references to LearJets and buying football teams may have been, reflecting Waters’ underlying socialist bent, they’re hardly in the same league of rock star awkwardness as We Didn’t Start The Fire or Sting singing about the plight of Russian children.

While Money afforded a generation of gauche adolescents the opportunity to let rip with the “goody-good bullshit” line, it also became the first Floyd song to be a commercial hit. One of the most unlikely aspects of this is one of the song’s least obvious aspects – its obscure 7/4 time signature providing the 1-2-3-4-1-2-3 cyclical bass figure, a walking blues with its roots in Booker T & The MGs’ Green Onions. And, of course, it features that looped sound effect of a cash register and the splash of coins being thrown by Waters into one of his wife’s pottery creations, with the loop then spliced into seven pieces and hooked around upturned chair legs to keep with the 7/4 time.

Money isn’t the album’s only taste of sound effects, of course: the ticking and ringing alarm clocks of Time and the pulsing heartbeat that heralds the opening track, Speak To Me and the album’s first words: “I’ve been mad for fucking years, absolutely years, been over the edge for yonks”. This and other excerpts of spoken voice throughout the album was the result of Waters using cue cards to ask stock questions to various hangers-on around Abbey Road Studios including (but never used) Paul McCartney, road manager Peter Watts (father of actress Naomi) and the cheerful studio doorman Gerry O’Driscoll (“I’m not afraid of dying. Any time will do”).

And there’s the mournful Us and Them, a song loosely about depression (another Waters theme), and built on a Rick Wright composition originally written for the 1970 film Zabriskie Point by Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni (and featuring a brief appearance by Harrison Ford, trivia fans). In place of a traditional middle eight, it features roadie Roger ‘The Hat’ Manifold, airing his wisdom on a road rage perpetrator.

I mean, they’re not gonna kill ya. If you give ‘em a quick short, sharp, shock, they won’t do it again. Dig it? I mean he got off lightly, ’cause I would’ve given him a thrashing – I only hit him once! It was only a difference of opinion, but really…I mean good manners don’t cost nothing do they, eh?

Impact on punk?

Dark Side Of The Moon has been hailed greatly and derided selectively. To the punk movement it was a convenient target, hippies going mad amid a barrage of bloated excess and overwrought self-examination that famously remained on the Billboard Hot 100 for decades after its release. Along with Emerson & Palmer’s invention of the behemoth stadium tour, DSOTM is frequently suggested as one of the seeds of punk. It isn’t, and shouldn’t, and in some respects Money even predicts the coke-shoveling, overblown state that rock music found itself in during the mid-1970s, giving punk a platform to rail against.

At just over 42 minutes’ long – constrained, of course, by the capacity of vinyl – DSOTM is short by comparison with some of the opuses of the day. And while it may well, as Waters ascertains, been the beginning of the end for Pink Floyd (or at least the album on which the creative tensions between Waters and Gilmour began to turn more dysfunctional), it is still, 40 years on, a remarkable record.

On March 24, 1973, when Dark Side Of The Moon was released, the concept album wasn’t anything new. Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper, even Who’s Next had all attempted some sort of narrative, musical theatre of the mind. But unlike Waters’ deliberately more theatrical effort with The Wall, DSOTM presents a more subtle collage, the central theme being modern life and how rubbish it really is.

Gloriously melancholy, in a way only an English songwriter could write. Perfect, then, for driving on American roads.

Article originally published here.

features, Gallery, knitwear

The return of the Stripey Jumper – and our favourites

By Stefano on March 25th, 2013

Ben Shermans Retro Stripe - £60

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Astral blue 60’s Breton inspired stripe from BEN SHERMAN. Ribbed crew neck and hem, finished with a Indie colour pop cuff trim. Ben Sherman signature tab to left sleeve. Atom Retro

It’s usually around this time of year when we see the high street desperately trying to shift from gloomy winter warmers, to a lighter and brighter spring look. And typically this is usually cue for the humble stripe to make an entrance, often manifesting itself in the form of the classic nautical stripe, and not-forgetting the obligatory Breton stripy jumper – a familiar sight spotted at Saturday farmers market everywhere…

But, good news for lovers of this hooped pattern variety – the stripe is back BIG time this season, and in more elaborate guises from: Humbug to contrasting colour block stripes. Check out our selection of striped jumpers ready for the picking.

features, photography

Fantastic images from the golden age of Airships – graceful, modern and doomed

By Stefano on March 21st, 2013


These days we associate Airships with football matches as the smooth flight of the ship enables camera crews to take long and steady overhead shots of stadiums.

But there was a time in the 1930s when they were state of the art travel ships. If you wanted to get from Europe to the Americas you could either get a boat or go there twice as fast cruising in on a liner-esque Zeppelin.

Sadly, the Airship’s stint as the poster boys of inter continental travel didn’t last very long. The Hindenburg disaster put the public off travelling in the skies and then WW2 came and any remaining ships were put to good use chasing U-Boats.

For me though there is something wonderfully romantic and beautiful about the airships. They were the Art Deco fleet of the skies -  graceful, modern and, like many things from that era – doomed.

Here then are  a series of stunning images from the Airship’s golden age, along with a story or two about how they came to be.

Incidentally if you want to travel by Airship, you still can here.

USS Akron over Manhattan

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One of the most dramatic (and IMO beautiful) pics of an airship ever, this features the US flagship USS Akron over Manhattan in the early 30s. Akron was only in service for eighteen months, but in that time had a career as an aircraft carrier - launching F9C Sparrowhawk biplane fighters - as well as a surveillance ship. Unfortunately the Helium filled ship (which was unusual as the German ships of the time mainly used Hydrogen) was also extraordinarily accident prone. It had a trio of accidents - one of which saw crew members falling to their deaths - before finally going down in the Atlantic in April 1933. The accident left 73 dead, and only three survivors.


Exhibitions, features, Gallery, music

Review: David Bowie is, Victoria and Albert Museum (March 23rd to August 11 2013)

By shinychris on March 21st, 2013

David Bowie is - Victoria and Albert Museum

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Album cover shoot for Aladdin Sane, 1973. Design by Brian Duffy and Celia Philo, make up by Pierre La Roche

I’ve always loved David Bowie. From Ziggy Stardust via the Thin White Duke to the smartly dressed Hamlet-inspired creations of the Serious Moonlight Tour. Even the movie roles in The Man Who Fell To Earth and (very differently), Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence.  These ‘characters’ shaped the style and attitude of my teenage years, while Bowie’s music of the period touched me like it did all angst-ridden teenagers all over the world with its predominant themes of alienation/otherwordliness/isolation (delete as appropriate). And although my love of Bowie has waxed and waned since the 1990s, I was still like an excited kid in a sweet shop to get a preview invite to the Victoria and Albert Museum for the David Bowie Is retrospective – along with thousands of other mostly 40 and 50 somethings.

What’s striking about the exhibition is that it’s not just about Bowie, but very much about the world that shaped him and consequently us all. So for example we see his early influences such as artists Gilbert and George singing ‘Underneath the Arches’, mime artist Lindsay Kemp who Bowie was a student of during the 1960s and several films of the ’70s, particularly Stanley Kubrick’s epic 2001: Space Odyssey and his extremely disturbing Clockwork Orange. If this gives the impression of Bowie as a cultural magpie who borrowed from here, there, everywhere that’s probably because he was – and is. That’s not to say there isn’t a focus on his own work too. There are his own child-like sketches of the dystopic ‘Hunger City’ which was the inspiration for the Diamond Dogs tour of 1974, handwritten lyrics from many of his biggest hits as well as iconic photographs of Bowie from the period, taken by celebrity photographersbowie_stripped_bodysuit like Terry O’Neill and Brian Duffy (most famous for the iconic Aladdin Sane cover).

There are also interviews with those who have worked with Bowie over the years, perhaps most notably record producer Tony Visconti who talks about the work process with Bowie and basically how easy he is to get along with. There’s even a section on ‘The Verbasiser’, a computer program that Bowie helped develop which randomly chops up words from various stories to make the process of song writing simpler. “It’s like the storylines you get from dreams without the boredom of having to sleep,” explains Bowie.

Then of course there are the stage costumes – around 60 of them in total. While some of these are magnificent, particularly the Union Jack coat designed by Bowie along with Alexander McQueen for the cover of 1997 album Earthling as well as Yamamoto’s Striped Bodysuit from Aladdin Sane (see pic), others – like those from the Serious Moonlight tour and the jumpsuit from the famous Top of the Pops Starman appearance – look disappointingly washed out. Time may not have diminished Bowie as an artist with The Next Day being (nearly) as good as anything since 1983′s Let’s Dance, but it seems to have taken its toll on just about everything else. As Bowie himself once sang: “Time – He’s waiting in the wings, He speaks of senseless things, His script is you and me boys.”

Brandish was a guest of Sennheiser who provide the GuidePort sound system for the Bowie is exhibition which runs at the Victoria and Albert Museum from March 23rd to August 11th. Tickets cost £15.40 (concessions available).

Related posts:

David Bowie’s The Next Day – The Best Comeback Album Ever
Sennheiser launches Momentum limited edition headphones inspired by David Bowie 



features, music

Early demos from The Smiths show up on YouTube

By Stefano on March 20th, 2013


Now this is amazing. Some early demo tapes of The Smiths, noted by Slicing Up Eyeballs, have just popped up on YouTube. They are called “The Pablo Cuckoo Tape” run for forty minutes and feature work in progress versions of songs that would eventually grace the band’s first album and early singles.

The track to listen to first is Reel Around The Fountain which has a fuzz guitar sound in places that didn’t make the cut for the version that appeared on Hatful of Hollow (and The Smiths). Accept Yourself sounds great, while These Things Take Time is a bit of pain in the ear with Morrissey struggling to hit the high notes.

The quality of the cassette is rough bit it is fascinating nevertheless.

It has caught the attention of Smiths’ drummer Mike Joyce who tweeted today, “A fan of The Smiths? An early recording you’ve probably never heard before. An early recording you’ve probably never heard before.”

The uploader’s explanation of the tape’s origins:

In May 1983 (exact date unknown), while preparing to record their debut album, The band ran through & recorded a selection of songs at a rehearsal in band manager Joe Moss’ jeans warehouse (Crazy Face). The cassette tape was recorded for Troy Tate in order to give him something to work with before going into the studio. It’s pretty rough, but considering it was recorded on cassette with a stereo Mic pointing into the room, the quality isn’t too bad. Morrissey’s vocals are a bit distorted – maybe singing too close to the mic or maybe the cassette Mic was too close to the PA but everything else is surprisingly clear. There is some tape flutter at various points. I was lent the master cassette by a source close to the band who made the recording, let’s call him Pablo Cuckoo, in 1997 with a view of trying to put it out as a semi-official release. As it was recorded before the band had signed to Rough Trade, technically he had the rights to the recording. But a combination of poor sound quality & threats from Warner Bros. meant that the idea was shelved.

features, Gadgets

Why the Samsung Galaxy S 4 leaves the Apple iPhone 5 eating dust?

By Stefano on March 14th, 2013

galaxy-s4-launch-topIt is a huge night for Samsung as the Korean maker has unveiled what it hopes will become the hottest phone on the planet  - the Galaxy S4.

The last few years have been an incredible ride for Samsung. It was one of the first makers to respond to the seismic sea change in the industry caused by the arrival of the iPhone and since then it has continued to deliver phones that have been almost the equal of its Apple rival.

All that changed in Spring last year when Samsung took the wraps off the Samsung Galaxy S III a phone that in some tech pundits minds has put some clear water between the flagship handsets of the two companies.

In particular Samsung seemed to have worked out that the way to take on Apple was to offer a larger screen and punters who seem to spend more time now using their smartphones for surfing the web and reading ebooks, loved its 4.8inch display. It made the iPhone 5′s 4.0inch display seem titchy.

But then the Samsung phone also had a great camera, some interesting features like Smart Stay and a very fast processor.

And now Samsung is set to move the goal posts again by launching the Galaxy S4. So which areas does the S4 score significantly over the iPhone 5? Well the bad news for Apple fans is that it is a superior phone is almost every department.

Take the screen – the S4 has a five inch screen – much larger than the iPhone 5′s 4.inch one. The S4′s resolution of 1920×1080 – or around 440 pixels per inch (PPI) – is also significantly superior to the Retina display technology of the iPhone 5.

Or the processor – The S4 features Samsung’s new Exynos 5 eight core processor – the 1.6GHz Exynos 5410. It will be accompanied by a PowerVR SGX 544MP3 graphics chip, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. On almost every level that is significantly better than the iPhone 5.

Or the camera – The iPhone 5′s camera is a stunner, but in terms of sheer resolution its eight mega pixel images can’t match the 13 mega pixel ones captured by the S4.

Where the iPhone 5 still has the edge is that gorgeous aluminium finish. It is way classier than the plastic of the Samsung phone. It may have the edge on apps too, but then again so many are available via the Google Play store now that the difference is becoming negligible.

So today was not a good day to be an Apple fanboy or girl. Sure Apple has the next iteration of the iPhone the 5S coming soon. But its screen is likely to be the same as the 5 and there will be many areas in which Samsung still had the lead. Perhaps the big battle for the future of mobile will be between the Galaxy S5 and the iPhone 6.

There’s more on the S 4 here.

Cars, features, Gadgets

Airships, Hovercraft, Amphibious Caravans, Batmobiles – the weirdest vehicles for sale

By Stefano on March 14th, 2013

There is a fantastic story that dates from the turn of the century. Back then aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont would parade his new fangled Airship by hovering at roof level along the boulevards of Paris.

Then when he’d utterly freaked the passing Parisians out he would tie the ship up and pop into his favourite restaurant for lunch.

Hopefully one day we will all be floating roof level above the streets of cities in our personal airships. Until then though here is a selection of various other modes of transport – most of which are for sale – which are utterly bizarre, but would be huge amounts of fun.

Hoverwing £150,000

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Firebox bills Hoverwing as the lovechild of every amazing vehicle, ever designed by mankind. And they are bang on too. This amazing err thing, can hover like a Hovercraft and works on both water and land. But the best bit is that the engine is so powerful that it can push the Hoverwing, which also sports a pair of wings, six feet above the ground or the water. And you don't even need a licence to fly it. It's capable of carrying up to 540kg and reaching speeds of nearly 126km/h, so it is fair to say you could cause some serious damage using it. Hoverwing

features, music

The 10 best psych pop albums of 2013 (and a couple from last year)

By Stefano on March 7th, 2013

It might only be March, but already it has been a vintage year for lovers of wonky sixties influenced pop aka psych.

Last year’s great hope, Jacco Gardner, has already treated us to a very fine album that delivers on the promise of his exceptional early singles. While Robyn Hitchcock, the spiritual godfather of British psych has turned out an album that rivals the best music he has ever made.

And then there’s an American band Foxygen, who might just be the best 60s influenced band that country has produced since The Strokes and The White Stripes.

Here then are 10, ok 8, great albums from this year plus a couple from the tail end of last year. Spotify new Psych playlist – which features many of the bands – below the pics.

If you want more then here are the top 15 Psych albums from last year

The Moons - Fables of History

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This album actually hails from the end of last year, but it is so good it really deserves yet another plug. The Moons are a London-based (via The Midlands) band whose debut album Life On Earth was a sprightly mix of all things 60s. Fables is a huge leap on with tunes that don't just pay homage to the band's 60s heroes, at times they rival them. Jennifer Sits Alone is a wistfully acoustic strum with hints of The Kinks/Hollies while Habit Of A Lifetime is perky Merseybeat given a contemporary spin with a killer chorus. Revolutionary Lovers sounds like a long forgotten 60s hit single. It is beautifully arranged too. Every song seems to have an off the wall - but perfectly crafted middle eight. Imagine listening to an episode of R2's Sounds Of The 60s featuring loads of great tunes that you have never heard before. Well Fables Of History is just like that.

Accessories, features, Gallery, Style, Style Safari

Dress like Steve McQueen – Barbour unveils new range

By Stefano on March 6th, 2013

It is incredible to think that almost 35 years after his sad and premature death that Steve McQueen remains one of the most recognisable and iconic Hollywood stars.

Barbour certainly thinks McQueen is a legend. The British brand has been adding to its McQueen inspired range.

In keeping with McQueen’s on (and off) screen persona it is tough clothing that you’d expect to wear as you hare round the Mojave desert on a bike.

How this translate to waiting at a bus stop in Romford remains to be seen, but hey we can all aspire.

It is, as you’d expect from Barbour, high quality clobber made from tough durable materials. Some of the items are distressed to accentuate that tough guy look. You can make your own minds up about these.

There are however a few less expensive items that might appeal to film buffs. Here’s a selection,but you can see whole load more here.

Sunblast Jacket £329.95

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This is A7 motorcycle jacket which according to Barbour has the dried out appearance of being in the intense heat of the Mojave Desert.

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