Thursday, April 30, 2009

My kind of junk

I’ve been preoccupied again this week and I thought I had better show you what has been keeping me busy.

As I said in my previous post, Mrs Darce is sunning herself in Turkey this week – and while the cat’s away….

I will quickly set the scene: filled with enthusiasm after a successful bit of digging at the weekend I decided to take a longer than usual lunch break on Monday and take a trip to another digging haunt. This place is basically a large shed full of second hand stuff sold by Joe Public with the ‘shed’ owners taking a commission. There aren’t many records there but you never know what you might find – for example this was where I found the George Freeman, Rufus, and Michael Franks albums I featured here earlier this year.

Anyway on this occasion I was initially disappointed because there ware hardly any records there – the smallest selection I have ever seen in fact. But next to where the records are stacked the shelves are taken up with radios, TVs, video recorders, and sometimes hi-fi equipment too. Well, on Monday there was some hi-fi equipment. Quite a lot of it, it was all together in one job lot, and I bought it!

I present, by way of a starter, Exhibit A (sorry flash didn't work too well on this one):

That’s a:
Denon TU-400L Tuner
Denon DCD-890 CD Player
Technics M17 Cassette Deck
Aiwa F770 Cassette Deck

There has been an FM aerial on our roof for years but somehow I never ever got round to buying a tuner. Of course now we have an excellent portable Pure DAB radio in the house so why would I want a tuner?

I have a perfectly good CD player so I don’t really need another one. Denon did have a good reputation back in the 80s though so maybe this one is better, but am I bothered?

I already have a cassette deck. Unfortunately it is too big to fit into the hi-fi cabinet (the cabinet was made to measure around my hi-fi kit of the time which included a smaller cassette deck – but that went bang and I couldn’t find a replacement that would fit). The Aiwa deck in the picture must predate my deck by about 10 years but it will fit in the hi-fi cabinet so that’s good. Then again I don’t know that I would ever play a cassette now (well maybe I can dig out some of old John Peel tapes).

Time for Exhibit B.

That’s a:
Dual 505-2 turntable
Denon PMA-300V amplifier

I already have a Dual 505 turntable, but this one is a Mark 2 and a slightly better model – nice solid wood plinth as opposed to the plastic one on my existing one. I think the Denon amp also offers a bit more than my existing Rotel amp specification wise, besides which the Rotel’s tone controls are becoming a bit temperamental. No startling improvements really but as you can see significant enough for these items to be already installed in the hi-fi cabinet.

So it seems I didn't really need any of this stuff. So why did I buy it all?

Exhibit C:

No, the Labi Siffre record was not included in the job lot, and is not the reason I bought all this stuff. It’s included in the picture primarily to give you an idea of the size of these speakers – they weigh 50lbs each! Also. Labi Siffre’s first LP was released in 1970, which I estimate is when these speakers were manufactured (possibly earlier). You are looking at a pair of B&W DM3s (here is some DM3 literature – I love this: “modest sized enclosure…. The elegant solid cabinet takes only a modest 2cu. ft. of room space”! How times have changed). And they are the reason I was drawn to this hi-fi job lot. As soon as I saw them I thought they were something special. I wanted to know how they sounded, and I thought I could maybe sell them on for a profit as I knew B&W (Bowers & Wilkins) are a well respected speaker manufacturer. Now I’ve done a bit more research I realise that these speakers were/are well revered in hi-fi circles, having a place in the pantheon of great British speaker design, so I am sure I could sell them on. But I have fallen in love with them and I want to keep them. They look great (in a retro way) – and, yes, they sound great!

In these days of Ipods and super miniaturisation all of this equipment has a distinctly vintage look – especially the speakers! – but it is all in perfect working order, testament to the build quality and to the previous owner who clearly looked after all of it very well. I felt a strong attraction to it as soon as I saw it and in buying it all (the whole lot cost £65) I’ve realised that I have a crossed a line and turned into a full blown nostalgia freak. I think there is no hope for me.

The problem is Mrs Darce will be back on Sunday and I know the first two things she will say when she claps eyes on this lot:
1 – “What have you bought all this junk for?”
2 – “Those speakers are horrible, you are not keeping them in this room!”
And so until Sunday at least I must listen to as much music as I can through my “job lot”, and think carefully about how to placate the Mrs!

I can’t leave you without some music so here is one of my finds from my successful digging trip last weekend. This is something Darryl Carter put out in 1972 in a brief sojourn away from Willie Mitchell’s Hi fold. Darryl was known more as a writer and producer than a singer. The year after this TTC release this song would also feature on O.V Wright's Memphis Unlimited album. It’s great, even though it’s a bit scratchy.

Darryl Carter – The Only Thing That Saved Me (Was The Love She Gave Me) (mp3) 1972

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Just checking in

I haven’t gone away, honest. It’s just I’m a bit busy – away with work again last week - then there have been all these fantastic football games to look forward to, watch, and then recover from - and of course the weather has encouraged me to get my gardening gloves on - and then there is always some crate digging to do (even though it is mostly of the virtual variety).

I should be back in the groove soon. STW (that’s Short Time Working) has given me Fridays off for a while so by rights I should have more time on my hands. But if the sun keeps shining… and then of course it is the business end of the football season so there are more crucial football matches to look forward to… and I might have tidied the garden up but I haven’t actually planted anything yet…. and Mrs Darce is off to Turkey with her bestest friend next week which means I will have to do household chores!….

I know, it’s all me me me.

Ronnie Jones – Me & Myself (mp3) 1978

A quick Google on Ronnie Jones turned up this. Previously knowing nothing about Ronnie, this record, nestling in my 12" collection, had always been shrouded in mystery. Isn't the Internet wonderful? (And this is not the Alexis Korner connection I keep promising you - just a coincidence).

Friday, April 10, 2009

Tapping My Feet #10

I haven’t gone away, it’s just all work AND all play at the moment and that’s leaving no time for bloggery. In my previous post I hinted that my next post would in some way follow on the Alexis Korner link. Well, I need more time to work on that so this is definitely not that post, as you can probably guess.

In times like these (i.e hectic) I slip you a 12” (so to speak!).

It’s that time of year again in the UK – the glut of Bank Holidays is upon us (I wonder will we want to continue to call our national holidays that now we have all fallen out of love with the banks?)

Here is a long Weekend for a long weekend.

Phreek – Weekend (mp3) 1978

It clocks in at 8:12 – those were the days.
A Patrick Adams production - Christine Wiltshire (also credited as Christie Shire) on vocals. Issy Sanchez is the uncredited mixer. Christine did another take on this track as Class Action in 1981 this time with Larry Levan in charge at the mixing desk.

Right, time to take off my disco shoes - now where are my walking boots?…