A riproaring rollercoaster of a journey through time, space and that side road just over there...

Category: "Music related"


Written by:Chris of Arabia
Published on January 11th, 2010 @ 00:01:41 , using 452 words,

Some days after the return to work and there seems to be a return to the position in which we found ourselves before I departed for the festivities. Things look much as they did before providing a sense of ambivalence - on the one hand things are no worse than when I left, on the other, neither have they improved. Hence the stasis.

I even looked the word up and found an slightly unexpected application for the word

Pathology Stoppage of the normal flow of a body substance, as of blood through an artery or of intestinal contents through the bowels.

I feel a desperate urge to share here, but in the interests of decorum, I shall instead just blame the meds...

Sleep since the return has been at a premium. 02:00 alarms for 03:00 taxis off the back of 30 minutes sleep do not make for good travel companions. When combined with 3 hour waits for aircraft that take-off late, barely getting to the connecting flight in time to wait on the tarmac for a further 3 hours whilst the aircraft sits in the anti-icing queue, you begin to understand the rather disjointed feeling AM and I had on finally making it to Riyadh. It was a kind of an odd weekend where sleep fell wherever it came. It's finally coming right, but the tiredness persists, compounded no doubt by the New Year imperative to exercise.

Reality is starting to kick in though, its inbox cleared of its assorted detritus and evidence of carefully laid plans discarded in absentia. Recalibration is being applied and asserted where needed, concerns assuaged and strategies reviewed. This too will come to pass...

Closer to home there are the inevitable piles of newly acquired gifts stacked on the dining table, the sense of not quite being home and the next escape to be planned. Calls to book flights already as strong as the northerly wind outside - OK, so it is in February, before when I need a new visa, a new driving licence and a new iqama (residents permit). Bureaucracy here is such that these things must align with the precision more commonly associated with a Cruise missile strike if I am to escape these parts in a little over 6 weeks time.

Before then there is the music PC to resurrect, whilst away, it died. It has been resuscitated, fitted with a pacemaker, has died again and must now face surgery. What I really need is for a Gregory House like figure to step into the breach and identify the true cause of the emergency before I undertake a wholly unnecessary (and expensive) procedure with limited hope of success. Time I think to contact 'GomezMan' - where are you Eddie?

Something From the Collection

Written by:Chris of Arabia
Published on December 5th, 2009 @ 23:34:00 , using 650 words,

For want of anything else to write about tonight, I thought I'd dip into the guitar collection and see if there weren't a few points of interest to share with you. Here then is my Yamaha SA2200, a quite stunning 6-string semi-acoustic I picked up a few years back.

Yamaha SA2200

Sometime back in 2000, not long after I came out to Saudi, I decided I need to bring a guitar with me to see if I couldn't improve my playing (a lot). At the time the only thing I had was another Yamaha, an MSG Standard. So I duly packed it up in its hard case and trundled myself off to the airport to come back here to Riyadh - I had a lot to learn I think about travelling with an instrument. It should come as no surprise then, that when I collected the guitar from the carousel, not all was well. I could see that the case was damaged, one of those little metal feet they put on cases was punched clean through the case, and I could also see that one of the catches was undone. An on the spot inspection confirmed my worst fears that the case had been dropped. What was worse, was that the MSG was now resting in the case with its headstock snapped off - all looked very terminal. To cut a long story short though, BA held its hands up to having responsibility for their lack of care and one £200 repair bill later, Sounds Great Music near Manchester did a sterling job of repairing it for me. It travels no longer.

Stuck once more for a guitar, I was left with a long stretch in Saudi until I could get home again and pick up something else. Fortune smiled on me and up popped an alpine white Gibson Les Paul Studio on one of the many notice boards - not a bad guitar at all in the circumstances. One short negotiation later and it was mine. It didn't take me long to realise that all was not entirely right with it though. Sharp fret ends protruding out from the edges of the fretboard told a rather unpleasant story. This guitar had not survived the ravages of the Arabian climate well and the lack of humidity had taken its toll, with the wood shrinking and so leaving the frets ends standing proud. At the time, I neither had the tools nor experience to sort it out, so I gradually grew to dislike it intensely - it just wasn't nice to play. But time passed and other acquisitions meant I could quietly forget about it.

So we get to around 5 years ago and in a speculative moment, I thought it might be worth bringing it back to the UK and seeing what it might be worth in part-exchange for something else. I'd had my eye on something in a local shop and thought the LP might well get me a good proportion of the way there, so back to the UK it came with me. A deal was struck and I found myself the rather pleased as punch owner of the the SA2200 you can see here.

The soundness of the deal was confirmed to me a few months later when I called into the shop again, only to see the LP hanging on the wall in a rather sorry looking state. Back in a country with moisture content in the atmosphere, the wood of the Gibson had started to absorb the humidity around it and expanded as wood does. It had the most amazing crackle glaze effect across the whole of the front of the body and did not look good.

The SA2200 is still with me, though at a distance. It plays wonderfully well and is a joy to hear. Only a couple of weeks till I'm back home again and I can give it another go.

Crash Call

Written by:Chris of Arabia
Published on November 29th, 2009 @ 23:47:00 , using 4 words,

And Now For a Little Music...

Written by:Chris of Arabia
Published on November 26th, 2009 @ 16:38:22 , using 589 words,
Posted in Music related

It's quiet here in Bahrain at the moment. AM is asleep on the bed - the consequence of an Imigran tablet a little earlier today. The light has subsided outside and what traffic there is on the corniche has slowed to a crawl. Not exactly fertile material to blog about. What then to offer you today?

How about if I give you some music to go take a listen to. I'll do five albums that I think are worth a place in anyone's collection:

  1. Pearl Jam - Ten: As debut albums go, this one is hard to follow. I'd go as far as to say this was their finest hour and something they've yet to match. For your consideration, I give you "Jeremy", a fine song regardless of the rather dark subject matter.
  2. Rush - Signals: Rush are a band whose early material I found a bit of a tough listen, primarily due to Geddy Lee's vocal style. It wasn't until I shared a room with a Rush fanatic, when in the RAF and I heard "Exit... Stage Left" that I caught onto their undoubtable musicianship, from where on in all else was history. I had the pleasure of seeing them live 3 times on their 30th Anniversary tour and would love the opportunity to see them again, should it arise. The song presented here tells of the pain of loss through the ageing process. It's not something they've ever performed live due to the need for Ben Mink's violin part - "Losing It".
  3. A Perfect Circle - Mer De Noms: When Maynard James Keenan decided to step outside the confines of Tool, he couldn't have done so in better company than with Billy Howerdel. The result was A Perfect Circle. APC are far from your standard rock act and should be required listening on anyone's' play list. Here is a track called "Breña". Enjoy!
  4. Smashing Pumpkins - Machina/The Machines of God: Smashing Pumpkins had their coming of age with Siamese Dream and a hard to beat high point with Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness, but here I've gone for one of their less well known albums with Machina, a piece of work that I suspect is badly underrated. This is my favourite track from it "Stand Inside Your Love", which always reminds me of AM.
  5. Biffy Clyro* - Puzzle: I know next to nothing about Biffy Clyro, except that they're from Ayeshire (there are worse places). Here I've picked "Folding Stars" for you to listen to, a truly beautiful love song that can easily bring a tear to the eye. Not sure who Eleanor is, but it sounds like she's worth writing songs about.

Perhaps nothing there that's too far from the mainstream, stuff you may well have heard of in all likelihood, but did you buy them (does anyone still do that? You should)? Give the links above a try and see what you think.

Postscript: Just been to the excellent Margarita Mexican at The Gulf hotel. It's a new undertaking for them, but on the strength of this evenings meal, they should be kept busy for some time to come. If you get there, the chocolate pudding is a must - chilli infused chocolate mousse, with a raspberry coulis and a little whipped cream to top it off; absolutely to die for.

* Talking over the subject of todays' post in the restaurant, AM enquired as to who "Billy Clitoris" was - kind of hard to explain that one really. You had to be there...

Down Time II

Written by:Chris of Arabia
Published on November 25th, 2009 @ 23:40:00 , using 463 words,
Posted in Music related

We are now in Bahrain, have been since 12:00 or so to be more accurate. Smooth passage across highway and causeway, can't complain really.

The day has been spent, as ever, browsing round the bookshop in Seef Mall, buying books, buying magazines, drinking coffee at Caribou, buying undies and skirts (latter not for me I should add). Heavy stuff, I think you'll agree. Aside from the traffic along the corniche, the day has been one of relaxation and idleness personified. The lounge has served us with a bevy of fines wines for an hour or two, after which it was on to the Fiddler's.

I have mentioned The Boxtones a couple of times (1, 2 & 3) now and they were on again tonight. Just for a change I was more than happy to see the band.

It's an odd thing you know, the difference between how the Boxtones come across on stage, and how we were beginning to look. Gary & co look absolutely effortless, whilst we were struggling to put single songs together in any sort of coherent manner. It really is a joy to see a band put heart and soul into something and all the while make it look effortless, like they've barely fallen out of bed and thought "I know, that's what we'll do today - for a bit of a crack and maybe some beer money", but it's what they seem to do. They've been out here, doing sets most nights, and still look fresh as a daisy and not a care in the world. Not too sure how it's done to be honest.

Tonight's set included, a Beatles medley, Jason Mraz (again), Lynryd Skynrd's "Sweet Home Alabama", Green Day's 'Basket Case', GNR's "Sweet Child of Mine", a Foo Fighters track the name of which escapes me right now, and others. What slightly threw me though was seeing them with an audience demanding an encore, something they duly obliged with a Rage Against the Machine track from their first album. Now it wasn't a piece of music I knew, but the sheer gusto that it was performed with and the reaction of their audience had me laughing, not from amusement, but with out and out enjoyment. To see both band and audience enjoying themselves so much was wonderful.

Talking with Gary afterwards, I gather they have now has their contract extended until next August they like them so much. I'm quite delighted at this news and hope to see them on more than one occasion between now and then. The only downside of this is that they are not allowed to have guests on the stage, much to my chagrin. You will not be seeing me on stage at the Diplomat any time soon - I will get my day though.

New World Man

Written by:Chris of Arabia
Published on November 21st, 2009 @ 23:02:00 , using 6 words,

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