For her – It is Valentine’s Day in less than a week and your bloke is, as we speak, preparing an amazing day which involves chocolates, flowers, a candlelit meal and chapter seven of Fifty Shades of Grey.
The last time this level of planning went into anything they called it D-Day. So shouldn’t you show him how much you love him? Forget the crap socks and that soppy card you were thinking about and get him what he really wants. Here are few ideas to help.
For him – Oops, you better get a move on, garage flowers won’t cut it again this year. Might be worth sticking this list in front of her – if you have been a good boy that is.
Vinyl to go for £50. This is a very small turntable, which as it doesn't have a large platter can be tucked away in bags etc. It has a built in speaker and can be powered by mains, battery or USB.
There’s some serious excitement at Brandish Towers this morning about the upcoming release of a new compilation of British 80s indie bands called Scared To Get Happy.
And it seems that the compilers at Cherry Red Records must have been working some serious over time for coming in June is a five CD boxed set which features pretty much anyone notable who twanged a guitar in the UK in the 80s. The full running list is below, but it really does sound like a ‘Nuggets’ for British 80s music.
The rules for the compilation is that the releases have to have been on British indie labels by UK bands. So no Go-Betweens (because they were Australian) or Echo And The Bunnymen (as they were on a major label). Pretty much everything else is here including some gems from not just the bigger labels like Creation Records, but also more eclectic ones like the brilliantly bonkers El Records.
And while it is wonderful to see so many of the era’s top bands getting the nod (Primal Scream, Primitives, House of Love etc) it is also great to see a few more obscure acts getting a belated bit of recognition. Step forward The Seers, whose driving psych pop was a big fave of mine at the end of the decade, Blow Up – a mod-style band from Brighton, and not forgetting The Claim, a much under rated Kinks-influenced band from Kent.
Cherry Red have also tried to include tracks that haven’t as yet made it on to other comps too.
So who is missing? Well there’s no Television Personalities or Felt as neither band wanted to to be on the comp. Also I’d loved to have seen Miles Over Matter and Boys Wonder, but neither band released a record on a British indie in the period.
Anyhow it sounds like a formidable collection and Cherry Red has promised it will be lavishly packaged with images, sleeve notes – the full whack. It should cost around £50.
1. THE WILD SWANS Revolutionary Spirit
2. GIRLS AT OUR BEST Getting Nowhere Fast
3. THE PALE FOUNTAINS (There’s Always) Something On My Mind
4. JOSEF K The Missionary
5. THE MONOCHROME SET Jet Set Junta
6. THE BLUE ORCHIDS Dumb Magician
7. THE MARINE GIRLS Don’t Come Back
8. THE FIRE ENGINES Candy Skin
9. DOLLY MIXTURE Everything And More
10. SCARS All About You
11. THE NIGHTINGALES Paraffin Brain
12. FARMERS BOYS I Think I Need Help
13. JANE It’s A Fine Day
14. PREFAB SPROUT Lions In My Own Garden (Exit Someone)
15. WEEKEND Summerdays
16. THE LINES Nerve Pylon
17. FANTASTIC SOMETHING If She Doesn’t Smile It’ll Rain
18. THE HIGSONS The Lost And The Lonely
19. EVERYTHING BUT THE GIRL Feeling Dizzy *
20. BLACK Human Features
21. STRAWBERRY SWITCHBLADE Trees And Flowers
22. THE DAINTEES Roll On Summertime
23. NICK NICELY 49 Cigars
24. TRIXIE’S BIG RED MOTORBIKE Norman And Narcissus
25. THE CHERRY BOYS Kardomah Café
26. AZTEC CAMERA Oblivious
1. HURRAH The Sun Shines Here
2. THE PASTELS I Wonder Why
3. PULP Everybody’s Problem
4. GRAB GRAB THE HADDOCK I’m Used Now
5. FRIENDS AGAIN Honey At The Core (Moonboot Version)
6. THE BLUEBELLS Callander Green
7. LLOYD COLE & THE COMMOTIONS Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken (Indie Version)
8. IN EMBRACE This Brilliant Evening
9. MICRODISNEY Dolly
10. THE WOODENTOPS Plenty
11. THE JAZZ BUTCHER Southern Mark Smith
12. THE JASMINE MINKS Where The Traffic Goes
13. THE JUNE BRIDES Every Conversation (Single Version)
14. THE REVOLVING PAINT DREAM In The Afternoon
15. THE SHOP ASSISTANTS All Day Long
16. BIFF BANG POW! The Chocolate Elephant Man
17. JAMES Hymn From A Village
18. THE JESUS & MARY CHAIN Just Like Honey (Demo Oct ‘84)
19. THE LOFT Up The Hill And Down The Slope
20. THAT PETROL EMOTION Keen
21. YEAH YEAH NOH Temple Of Convenience
22. THE WEDDING PRESENT Go Out And Get ‘Em Boy
23. THE BODINES God Bless
24. WE’VE GOT A FUZZBOX AND WE’RE GONNA USE IT XX Sex (Demo)
25. McCARTHY Red Sleeping Beauty
26. THE MIGHTY LEMON DROPS Something Happens
1. PRIMAL SCREAM Velocity Girl
2. THE PRIMITIVES Thru The Flowers
3. THE BMX BANDITS Sad
4. MIGHTY MIGHTY Is There Anyone Out There?
5. THE SOUP DRAGONS Fair’s Fair
6. THE WOLFHOUNDS Cut The Cake
7. THE CHESTERFIELDS Completely And Utterly
8. THE SERVANTS Transparent
9. THE CLOSE LOBSTERS What Is There To Smile About (Demo)
10. POP WILL EAT ITSELF Sick Little Girl
11. THE RAZORCUTS Big Pink Cake
12. THE WEATHER PROPHETS Almost Prayed
13. JAMIE WEDNESDAY Vote For Love
14. TALULAH GOSH Beatnik Boy
15. THE DENTISTS She Dazzled Me With Basil
16. THE RAILWAY CHILDREN A Gentle Sound
17. THE GROOVE FARM Baby Blue Marine
18. JESSE GARON & THE DESPERADOES The Rain Fell Down
19. ROSEMARY’S CHILDREN (Whatever Happened To) Alice?
20. THE WONDER STUFF A Wonderful Day
21. THIS POISON! Engine Failure
22. THE BRILLIANT CORNERS Delilah Sands
23. 14 ICED BEARS Balloon Song
24. THE HEART THROBS Toy
25. THE ROSEHIPS Room In Your Heart
26. KING OF LUXEMBOURG A Picture Of Dorian Gray
1. HOUSE OF LOVE Shine On
2. THE DARLING BUDS Shame On You (Native Single Version)
3. THE POOH STICKS Indiepop Ain’t Noise Pollution
4. THE BACHELOR PAD The Albums Of Jack
5. THE SHAMEN Something About You
6. GOL GAPPAS Albert Parker
7. HANGMAN’S BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS Love Is Blue
8. WHIRL Heaven Forbid
9. THE BOY HAIRDRESSERS Tidalwave
10. THE FLATMATES Shimmer
11. APPLE BOUTIQUE Love Resistance
12. LAUGH Take Your Time Yeah!
13. GROOVY LITTLE NUMBERS You Make My Head Explode
14. THE WALTONES She Looks Right Through Me
15. YEAH JAZZ Sharon
16. THE CLOUDS Tranquil
17. THE RAW HERBS She’s A Nurse But She’s Alright
18. THE SIDDELEYS My Favourite Wet Wednesday Afternoon
19. RODNEY ALLEN Circle Line
20. THE CORN DOLLIES Be Small Again
21. THE HEPBURNS The World Is
22. BUBBLEGUM SPLASH One Of Those Things
23. THE McTELLS Jesse Man Rae
24. THE CHARLOTTES Are You Happy Now?
25. ANOTHER SUNNY DAY I’m In Love With A Girl Who Doesn’t Know I Exist
26. THE LA’s Son Of A Gun (Demo)
1. THE STONE ROSES The Hardest Thing In The World
2. THE INSPIRAL CARPETS Keep The Circle Around
3. THE SEA URCHINS Solace
4. CUD Only (A Prawn In Whitby)
5. THE POPGUNS Landslide
6. EAST VILLAGE Strawberry Window
7. THE FANATICS Suburban Love Songs
8. THE MILLTOWN BROTHERS Roses
9. THE ORCHIDS I’ve Got A Habit
10. BRADFORD Skin Storm
11. THE CLAIM Picking Up The Bitter Little Pieces
12. THE POPPYHEADS Pictures You Weave
13. THE SUN AND THE MOON Adam’s Song (Pour Fenella)
14. THE DESERT WOLVES Speak To Me Rochelle
15. THE GOLDEN DAWN My Secret World
16. BLOW UP Forever Holiday
17. KOROVA MILK BAR Do It Again
18. AVO-8 Big Car
19. THE RAIN Dry The Rain
20. THE BOO RADLEYS Catweazle
21. THE SEERS Sun Is In The Sky
22. THE TELESCOPES Perfect Needle
23. THE VASELINES Jesus Don’t Want Me For A Sunbeam
Like most music obsessives from time to time I have wondered what it must have been like to be there at a pivotal moment in music history. You know, like avoiding the sweat dripping off the ceiling while the Fab Four hone their post-Hamburg rock and roll in The Cavern. Or watching the light show and Syd Barrett in psychedelic melt down mode at the UFO. Or even hanging with the art school punks at CBGBs as they watched as Blondie’s pop moves took New York’s indie screen global.
The nearest I ever got to a seismic pop moment was in a small and sweaty basement room bizarrely sited on Oxford Street by Tottenham Court Road tube. For there in 1991, the club, known as the Syndrome, became the meeting place for the main movers of the London wing of British indie, some of whom would go on to create some incredible music.
Energised by both the danceable grooves coming out of Manchester and the visceral punky thrills of grunge jetting in from America’s North West coast, the likes of Blur, Ride, Lush, Moose and many others began to fashion a musical response that kept the energy of punk but , how shall we put this, was a little more cerebral. And the music these middle class punks played (for many of the bands were from the posher parts of London and the South East) became known as shoegazing (after some of the musician’s habits of looking at their feet while messing with effects pedals).
As well as absorbing the primitive, yet arty sounds of bands like Dinosaur Junior and Sonic Youth, the Shoegazers were almost all highly influenced by the feedback drenched howl of My Bloody Valentine. Many bands also kept the melodic obsession of the C86 bands in creating sweet, often catchy tunes that they buried under howls of effects and white noise.
Shoegazing, just like The Syndrome, didn’t last too long, but for a couple of the bands it was a springboard to better things. Sadly though most of them didn’t see the musical tidal wave of Brit Pop coming and the music press quickly lost interest in shy, retiring musicians from Surrey and turned their attention to boisterous Beatles-obsessed northerners. In fact almost all of them were history by the mid -90. Except that is in the US where a couple of bands from a city on the nation’s West coast kept the genre alive.
So with My Bloody Valentine releasing their first album in twenty or so years there is no better time to go back and revisit some of the less well known protagonists of the Shoegazing (a term which not surprisingly almost all the bands associated with it hated) era. There are profiles of eight bands and you can hear them, along with some fellow travellers in the Spotify playlist.
One of the earliest shoegazey type bands The Charlottes were massively influenced by both My Bloody Valentine’s creative use of feedback and also the poppy melodies of C86-ers like The Primitives. The debut single Are You Happy Now is a classic of the genre with a female vocalist singing a sweet pop tune that they proceed to bury under an avalanche of guitars, effects and Who style drum fills.
They got even better too. Their 1991 album Things Come Apart, which has recently been reissued on vinyl by Optic Nerve Recordings, contains Liar, a glorious thrashy tune which was almost an underground hit in the US and See Me Feel - think The Ramones with effects pedals. Sadly the band split soon after with drummer Simon Scott defecting to Slowdive.
And yes that cover looks great too. The images were taken by ace photographer Dean Chalkley who has lots of images of contemporary mods (and a film too – see the bottom of the page) on his site here.
Anyway back to the book. There have been plenty of Mod books before, but this looks like being a fairly definitive one for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it looks like it is going to properly tackle Mod history and its greater influence on popular culture in a way that other books haven’t. It is a moot point, for example, whether the real inheritors of the Mod tradition in the 1980s were the Acid House mob at the end of the decade (they took pills and danced all night), the C86ers (they had the bowl cuts and loved the 60s music) or the Casuals (whose clothes were more in keeping with traditional sharp mod values and tended to be more working class like the original Mods).
Without pre-guessing what Weight is going to write in his book I think he will make the case that Mod influenced them all. And that’s a story that hasn’t really been written in any depth.
The second reason why the book looks great is that Richard Weight is a very accomplished author. I read his Patriots book over a decade ago, and although I don’t remember too much about it now, I recall being impressed by both the depth of his research, and also the way he wasn’t afraid to fire off his opinions. The book looks at national identity in Britain between 1940 and 2000 and the decline of British-ness in favour of stronger associations of being English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish. It really needs an update too and I’d be fascinated to read his views on the way that The Olympics, the popularity of The Monarchy and immigration have all fueled a revival of Britishness. Yet at the same time we could be just years away from Scotland leaving the Union.
In many ways too there hasn’t been a better time for the Mod book. Bradley Wiggins is still everywhere, heritage brands like Ben Sherman and Fred Perry are back in the limelight and there are plenty of bands who are creating music that has 60s influences at their heart.
The Who touring Quadrophenia a few months after the book launch should help too.
Anyhow, I am very excited by the book’s arrival and if you want to know more here’s the blurb from the publishers.
Welcome to the world of the sharp-suited ‘faces’. The Italianistas. The scooter-riding, all-night-dancing instigators of what became, from its myriad sources, a very British phenomenon.
Mod began life as the quintessential working-class movement of a newly affluent nation – a uniquely British amalgam of American music and European fashions that mixed modern jazz with modernist design in an attempt to escape the drab conformity, snobbery and prudery of life in 1950s Britain. But what started as a popular cult became a mainstream culture, and a style became a revolution.
In Mod, Richard Weight tells the story of Britain’s biggest and most influential youth cult. He charts the origins of Mod in the Soho jazz scene of the 1950s, set to the cool sounds of Charlie Parker and Miles Davis. He explores Mod’s heyday in Swinging London in the mid-60s – to a new soundtrack courtesy of the Small Faces, the Who and the Kinks. He takes us to the Mod-Rocker riots at Margate and Brighton, and into the world of fashion and design dominated by Twiggy, Mary Quant and Terence Conran.
But Mod did not end in the 1960s. Richard Weight not only brings us up to the cult’s revival in the late 70s – played out against its own soundtrack of Quadrophenia and the Jam – but reveals Mod to be the DNA of British youth culture, leaving its mark on glam and Northern Soul, punk and Two Tone, Britpop and rave.
This is the story of Britain’s biggest and brassiest youth movement – and of its legacy. Music, film, fashion, art, architecture and design – nothing was untouched by the eclectic, frenetic, irresistible energy of Mod.
In today’s most surprising tech news Apple have launched, wait for it, a new iPad. But before we all get too carried away there’s no new design or extra features to tell you about.
The new model, which is aimed at serious iPad users and businesses, comes with a whopping 128 Gigabytes of storage – that is twice the previous top amount for an iPad which was 64 Gigbaytes
So if you have a large collection of music and/or videos or you are a creative user that needs to store a lot of content on your iPad this is going to be a good bet.
The new 128GB iPad 4 is slated to hit stores on Tuesday 5 February, in black or white. It will cost £639 for the iPad with Wi-Fi model and £739 for the iPad with Wi-Fi + mobile phone data network-friendly model.
“It’s clear that customers around the world love their iPads, and everyday they are finding more great reasons to work, learn and play on their iPads rather than their old PCs,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing.
On February 17th 1995 police found Richey Edwards’ Vauxhall Cavalier abandoned at the Severn View service station. They reported that there was evidence that The Manic Street Preachers’ guitarist had been living in the car.
As for the car’s owner, well nothing has been heard from him since. There have been alleged sightings in Goa and Lanzarote, while there are those believe that he took his own life and jumped off the Severn Bridge. I guess we will never know.
Edwards, however, wasn’t the first rock star who decided that they had had enough of their old life and wanted to start anew. Various members of Fleetwood Mac disappeared in the late 60s and early 70s to be discovered in the cradle of slightly iffy religious groups.
There are others too and I have rounded up five stories of musicians who, for one reason or another, completely disappeared. Some, like Richey, are missing presumed dead, others are just keeping an incredibly low profile while working on that magical next album. Then there’s the tale of Rodriguez, a singer whose life was shrouded in mystery before a film was made retelling his amazing tale.
The other thing about all five is that each of them has created some wonderful music, which in four out of the five cases, deserves to be much better known.
Perhaps the most dramatic tale of a musician going AWOL ever the Jim Sullivan story still intrigues everyone who hears it. The story has an added poignancy as the album that Sullivan released in 1969, UFO, is a special one that has recently been championed by a new wave of folk stars like Laura Marling. Anyway back to the story. In the late 60s Sullivan was a talented singer songwriter in need of a break. He got one when an actor friend of his, Al Dobbs, decided to fund his album. That record, UFO is minor classic - a perfect mix of dusty folk and Gothic country, yet with some strong pop undertones. Dobbs had ensured that only top notch musicians played on the album including several of Phil Spector's legendary Wrecking Crew band of session hacks. It really is quite an astonishing listen. Take Rosey, a delicate, gently picked ballad taken to new heights by pizzicato and then soaring strings. It sounds like the sort of track Lee Hazlewood would have written on a very good day. Most intriguing of all is the title track UFO, where Sullivan shares his obsession with aliens in an eery way that some believe was a psychic prediction of the fate that was soon to befall him. Sadly the album stiffed - it has been reissued by Light In the Arric Records and these days is hailed as a classic of its genre - and Sullivan went back to playing bars and busking for a living. Then in 1975 he decided to leave his wife in California and head eastwards to start a new life a session musician in Nashville. He never got there. His car was found abandoned in the desert while all his possessions were left in his hotel room. The last time he was seen was on the ranch of a family with mafia connections. The case is still unsolved, but there are some folk who believe that the UFO watcher's dream finally came true and he was whisked away by aliens. Others take the view that he may have been murdered and the body never recovered. Either way Sullivan left behind one superb album and an enduring myth which one day really ought to be turned into a film.
It’s been five years since I last saw My Bloody Valentine live, and I’ve only just managed to recover the last fragments of earplug mined from my brain after surviving their sonic assault at Camden’s Roundhouse back in 2008.
Their 2013 return to the UK sees volume levels remain the same (watching MBV is like picking a fight with a 747 in a wind tunnel and losing, as I tweeted last night), but the setlist is a little different; there’s a new album on the way, more than 21 years since the launch of their seminal Loveless record. And tonight’s gig marks the debut of a few cuts from it.
Kevin Shields and co kick off with new number ‘Rough Song’, and for a band whose signature live attack is dished out with serrated guitars, the presence of a keyboard is a little unnerving. It’s a poppy number that recalls ‘When You Sleep’, suggesting the new album may have a fair whack of tunes as well as ethereal dreamscapes. It brings with it a tease from the usually-silent Shields, mumbling to a persistent heckler that the new album’s release could be as close as “two or three days”. What with Shields’ trademark tardy perfectionism, we wouldn’t start holding our breath just yet, but considering the album was apparently mastered back in December anything is possible.
Anything, that is, than being able to decipher a tune tonight. Even by MBV’s aggressive standards, something’s a bit off. The PA at Electric Brixton is overwhelmed by the band, with vocals (traditionally low in the mix for MBV by default) lost in the squall. You don’t expect subtlety from Shields’ screeching riffs and Debbie Googe’s bass pummelling, but even Shields finds it necessary to cut off ‘To Here Knows When’ halfway through.
At their most aurally-unapologetic however with ‘Feed Me With You Kiss’ and the closing 10 minute white noise endurance test of ‘You Made Me Realise’, the night hits a sadomasochistic state of nirvana, a blissful sonic-sucker punch to see the punters off into the night with a smile on their faces and bloody tissues in their ears.
Here’s a selection of choice Twitter commentary on the gig from last night:
Indie night out: J Mascis, Thurston Moore, @tim_burgess and Kinesthesia all at My Bloody Valentine Brixton gig
As everyone in the UK knows there was once a time when the Union Jack flew in many, many places across the world.
Now, a website about style, football and gadgets isn’t really a place for too many value judgements on the British Empire. Suffice to say that we did some good things, but we also inflicted an awful lot of damage too in subjugating, and occasionally wiping out indigenous communities. Also the repercussions of the lines on the map that Britons drew lingers on in The Middle East, South America, parts of Africa and closer to home in Ireland.
However one hugely astonishing thing about the British is the way in which people of this sea-faring nation have been just about everywhere in the globe.
It was a thought that last year inspired historian Stuart Laycock to pen a fascinating book called All the Countries We’ve Ever Invaded. It is safe to say that the list that hasn’t had any British influence is a pretty short one and includes The Vatican, Monaco, Chad, Mongolia and Paraguay among others. Britain has in fact invaded nearly 90% of the countries in the world, so it isn’t that surprising that in some parts of the world we don’t have the best of reputations.
Questions about the nature of British Imperialism aside the book does throw up some amazing anecdotes about places that have been influenced by the British that almost no one in this country has a clue about.
For example what about the US state that has a Union Jack as part of its flag? Or the German island which we ran as a major holiday destination for much of the nineteenth century? Or the Scandinavian country that we kind of ‘invaded’ so we could use one of its islands as a vegetable patch.
Here then are ten really great stories. Some are inspired by the book , which if you love history really is a must purchase. I have also done some of research of my own and of course there are a couple of nods to Wikipedia, from whence many of the images came.
An island in the middle of the North Sea that apparently is a bit like Scarborough! Doesn't make any sense does it, but until near the end of 19th century we used to own an island not far off the coast of Germany called Heligoland. Until 1807 it was owned by Denmark, but we decided it would make a good little naval base during the Napoleonic War era and so annexed it. When peace arrived we did the decent thing and turned the little island into a holiday centre where it attracted not just Brits but also German artists, politicians and also anarchists and revolutionaries. It remained under our control until the end of the nineteenth century when we traded it with Germany for the slightly larger land mass of Zanzibar. We returned during WW2 largely on bombing raids designed to hit German ships. After the war we turned the uninhabited part of the islands into a bombing range, something that not surprisingly still rankles with some of the locals.These days it has gone back to being a holiday resort. Visitors take the ferry from Hamburg and then chill out on the tiny island. There's no private cars, or even bikes, so to get around you have to walk or use a scooter. Sounds like a fascinating place.
In 2010 Dell released a new phone with a monster sized five inch screen called the Streak, and it went on to change the way we think about mobile phones. But not in the way that Dell had hoped.
The early models were filled with glitches and consumers didn’t really seem ready for a phone with a screen that large. Even Dell admitted defeat pulling the plug on the devices (it had also unveiled a 7 inch version) in 2011.
But a seed had been planted. Just as Dell was putting the Streak out to pasture Samsung surprised everyone by issuing its own huge screen phone – the Galaxy Note. It was a tentative launch too with Samsung stressing the handset’s stylus capabilities (it comes with a pen that lets you do many interesting arty things, hence the name the Note) as much as the five inch screen size.
At first reviews were a little lukewarm, but as time went by it was clear that there was a demand for a phone with a five inch screen and Samsung has gone onto sell millions of Notes. The big differences between the Note and the Streak is that the Note’s screen is much brighter, more vibrant and higher definition and its processor is so much quicker and better suited to web surfing and gaming. The fact that the Note was much skinnier than the Streak was also a key factor too.
A year and a few months on it is obvious that the Galaxy Note has had a huge impact on mobile design. For starters it has helped nudge the standard size screen for a mobile up a inch or two. Samsung’s own best selling Galaxy S3 has a screen of 4.8inches, and even Apple is rumoured to be working on a phone with a screen that is pushing five inches.
The Note also gave birth to a new mobile phone sector – the Phablet. It is is a moniker that many tech journalists, quite justifiably IMO, hate but it clearly describes a product that is a cross between a phone and tablet.
Here then is all you need to know about Phablets, from which you might consider buying one through to profiles of the seven models that are currently available (or at least coming in the next month or two).
What is a Phablet?
As the name implies it is a hybrid between a phone and a tablet. It can be used to make and receive calls, but its selling point is a big screen that makes it perfect for gaming, surfing the web and more. Wikipedia states that the size of the screen of a Phablet is normally between 5 and 7 inches. There are a cluster of phones that have screens not too shy of five inches – the 4.8inch screen on the Samsung Galaxy S3 being one – but these aren’t considered Phablets.
Why would I want one?
Personally I think that once you have used Phablet you can never go back to phone with a smaller screen. In particular phones with anything less than a four inch screen suddenly seem kind of ridiculous. Honestly. The large screen significantly enhances a person’s web surfing, gaming and ebook reading experience. It is tricky to read an ebook on a 3.5inch screen, not so on five inch one. As the phones are high -end models they tend to be stacked out the with the latest operating systems and fastest processors too. The phones currently all run the Android operating system and have access to apps via the Google Play store.
Why wouldn’t I want one?
Cue the Dom Jolly jokes. They are obviously larger than most smartphones. However even the Galaxy Note 2 with its 5.5inch screen fits comfortably in to a pocket of a pair of jeans. Their size also makes them slightly trickier to use than smaller handsets in that they are difficult to use one handed – to get the best out of them you need to keep a tight grip on the phone while operating the touch screen with the other. To be honest I think most Phablet owners wouldn’t consider these drawbacks at all.
Could I buy one instead of a tablet?
Personally I love my iPad, but it stays mainly in my home. In contrast my Galaxy Note travels with me everywhere. I appreciate the bigger screen of my ten inch iPad when it is nearby, but then again I often just reach for my Note. In theory then it does kind of double as a tablet but one that you take with you everywhere.
How big are they going to get?
Well the discontinued Dell Streak was available with a seven inch screen. Currently the biggest Phablet you can buy in the UK is the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 which has a 5.5inch screen. The Huawei Ascend Mate may follow soon and that has a 6inch screen. There are lots of rumours of even larger screens. Samsung are also reported to working on two new models – a 6.3-inch Galaxy Note 3 and even a 7.7-inch screen or 7.9inch depending on which rumour you want to believe . They will be most likely be unveiled at Mobile World Congress at Barcelona in February.
Maybe at some point in the future it will be commoun to carry round a seven inch Phablet which is hooked up to a smart watch and a headset. The Phablet will act as a hub connecting with the other devices using Bluetooth. You will use the watch to get social media updates and text messages and the headset to make and receive calls. When you want to play games, watch TV or get online you’ll get the Phablet out.
What about Apple, Nokia, BlackBerry? Are they working on Phablets?
There are already rumours of an Apple iPhablet (although CEO Tim Cook has denied this) and I’d be very surprised if Nokia didn’t unveil a Phablet that runs Windows in next month. I guess we will have to wait and see.
It wasn't the first Phablet - that accolade was arguably scooped by Dell and its Streak - but the Galaxy Note, which was unveiled in late 2011 and went on sale in numbers in the UK in early 2012, was the first big screen to go mainstream. At its launch Samsung focused as much as the stylus (and the creative opportunities that it offers) as much as the big screen. But it soon became clear that gamers, hardcore web surfers and ebook readers were drawn to its very impressive 5.3inch screen. The phone's eight mega pixel camera is excellent too. It has gone on to sell millions and spawn a host of imitators that appear on the following pages. If you want to buy one in the UK now is a good time. You can pick one up on contract for as little as £20 per month. They can often be found in second hand stores too as some original owners have upgraded to the second version. Prices start at just under £300.
So here we go again. The African Cup Of Nations kicks off this week to the delight of football fans everywhere and the chagrin of a small group of managers who lose key players for a few weeks.
Later this week we’ll asses which clubs are going to suffer the most during the month, but for now it is time to look back and salute some of the great Africans who played in the Premiership.
I have chosen 15 players who in one way or another all made their presence felt in the English league. Some, like Mido, only really shone for one season, others, like Lucas Radebe and Lauren had a huge impact over an extended period of time.
Anyhow here then are the 15. Tell us in the comments who we missed. And roll on South Africa v Cape Verde Islands.
Not too many Malians have made their mark in the Premiership - Liverpool's Mohamed Sissoko is another that springs to mind - and in many ways Kanoute's story is one of unfulfilled promise rather than total success. He had interesting years at both Spurs and West Ham, creating chances and scoring the odd goal for both teams. Spurs fans weren't however too fazed when he signed for Sevilla in 2005. They perhaps should have been for Kanoute became a huge star in Spain where his goal ratio - not too far shy of one per two games - thrust the team into the upper echelons of the Liga while propelling them to two consecutive UEFA Cups. In recognition he was named African Footballer Of the Year in 2007.
So CES, the world’s biggest consumer electronics show, has been and gone for another year. And what a blast it was too. In some respects it was the most interesting show in a while, largely because it saw a lot of new emerging technologies from smart watches through to high-end 4k TV sets.
Along with our pals at Tech Digest we have gone through the hundreds, make that thousands, of products and picked 12 that we think will be then ones that will shape 2013.
I don’t think any will have the impact of say the Apple iPad, Amazon Kindle or even Samsung’s early 3D TV sets, but they provide a template which a number of makers will take and refine to deliver the iconic gadgets of the future.
Without further ado then – here is our top twelve.
Sony used CES 2013 to highlight how it has re-invented an old friend. It is reviving the Walkman in the guise of the W273 - an MP3 player for active types. The lightweight player is waterproof too so you can take it swimming. It has 4 Gig of storage, works with iTunes and each battery charge gives you eight hours of power.
Ok, so it predicted snow and all London got was a very light dusting, but if the forecasters are right – and they are never wrong are they?! – there should be more snow on its way.
So now is the time to get yourself a sledge. If you order it now it ought to be delivered in plenty of time for when the real dollop of the white stuff happens later in the month (That is provided the postie can brave the snow to get through to drop it off .) Here then are five great sledges to choose from and The Beatles giving a masterclass in how to use them.
If you are feeling flash then this sledge is a Porsche. Yep it is designed by the same people who put the cars together and comes with a logo to prove it. It is made from very sturdy aluminum and has a fake leather seat. There are however two bits of bad news. One, it is priced like a Porsche and two, it is second hand only, they do pop up on ebay from time to time.
Aaah the tricky second album syndrome, it catches a lot of bands on the hop doesn’t it? After all you have a decade or so to piece together the tunes for your first album, while the second is often flung together in a heartbeat after months of touring.
If you are smart you have saved a few great songs from your early days to tide you over. If not then you better hope that the substance induced writers block disappears and fast.
The tricky part is deciding do you simply try and replicate that first album and risk accusations that you haven’t moved on? Or take the band in a different direction and then risk alienating the fans who loved your early stuff. Either route is fraught with danger.
Here then are twelve apocryphal tales of bands whose second albums were in one way or another disastrous. Some of them, in fact many of them, are actually pretty good, but, poor reviews, a lack of hit singles and a general falling from fashion meant that they stalled, and in some instances killed, a band’s career.
So have a look through the list and tell me which ones I have missed in the comments.
With So Much For The City, the Irish band patented the sound of 2003, all jangly guitars and west coast harmonies. Much was expected of its follow up Let's Bottle Bohemia, but in spite of the first two tracks - Tell Me Something I Don't Know and Whatever Happened to Corey Haim? - this was a lot lighter on hummable tunes and The Thrills' audience disappeared. It is actually quite a good album, but suffers quite badly when compared with that incendiary debut - a maxim that applies to a great many of the second album flops.
If you were to do a poll to find out who is the most popular player in the Premiership Robin Van Persie would probably win at canter given the billions of United fans across the globe who would vote for him.
But is he really the most popular player in the Premiership? Thought not. So I asked a highly cultured group of footy fans to name who their favourite Premiership players are, the catch being that they couldn’t nominate anyone from their own team – and naming a player from their rivals was positively encouraged.
So which players do you admire? Who do you like watching? Who do you respect? And who would you think would be top value if you went for a drink with them?
Here are the ten players we came up with. Tell us who we missed in the comments.
Ok, so I know some fans don't like him because he can be a bit un-necessary when tackling, but you have to admire the United midfielder for his talent, loyalty to the Reds and down to earth approach to life. How many other Premiership players would take the bus? The only other United players to get nods were Rooney and Michael Carrick. If Carrick could repeat his United form for England this year he'd probably get a few more.