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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Frank Zappa's Wiki Jawaka - Hot Rats

There was a disc when in my teens which – really – blew my young mind, changing my life and not in better… this very music was so different from my mom beloved 45 rpm's... it was the music to be special to me, of course, BUT the cover and the pixies inside the cover really intrigued me… 

Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats was this marvelous wax… it was my first exposure to Capt. Beefheart’s voice and art… Willie the Pimp and The Captain with the Hoover in arms… and Frank Zappa with a bowler hat and those Winston fags… no need to ask that, when a smoker, my cigarettes of choice were red packet Winston’s.

Peaches and Regalia… Flo & Eddie… everything was carved in my mind, heart, DNA.

I still have and enjoy my Italian first pressing on Bizarre/Reprise and I’d never, ever change it for a promo, white label or a first U.S. pressing, like I did in a collector’s frenzy with many other discs.


Because every groove in the vinyl disc was sipped by me and enjoyed to be part on me, as well.

... so impossible to selle or give away.

So what?

Well, only few hours ago, on a local newspaper, I read a short article dedicated to… Christine Frka?!?!?

Christine… whoooo?!?!

Lady Christine Frka was a young, handsome, busty and hyper-hairy gal who slept in Zappas’ Gail and Frank basement and was - for a period of time - the nanny of the Z-couple’s kids, Moon Unit and Dweezil.

Then she got involved in Laurel Canyon’s freak scene and commune life and… fifes and drums, was part of the Girls Together Outrageusly  aka G.T.O., also part of the Bizarre/Zappa/Herb Cohen managed cohort…

… but… 

… why am I talking about the late, poor, cute and unknown Christine Frka?

On Hot Rats' cover there is an hairy head on the infrared picture coming out from an empty swimming pool… a crypt…

A very weird pix…


The hairy persona who I always, mean ALWAYS guessed to be Frank Zappa himself… was… YES! the above mentioned Christine Frka, of course…

Strange having the wrong belief for almost my whole life and discovering that wasn’t my Z-hero… but a groupie!

Music, like life, really is a never ending story… and worth going on, indeed.

BTW, folks: take you time to browse this incredible site devoted to Frank Zappa and related.

A masterpiece... like Hot Rats still is!

Frank Zappa forever!


Friday, April 3, 2015

R.I.P. Doug Sax

I played this afternoon one of Mr. Sax' mastered masterpieces... 

R.I.P. for the master of mastering.

"Whatever happened to Davey Graham" on BBC 6

Cool on-air appreciation to beloved, late Davey Graham... 29 days left to appreciate the one hour well informed peana.

Thanks to BBC.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

John Renbourn and Stefan Grossman - The Last Rehersal

The last rehearsal footage, thanking Stefan Grossman, with the late John Renbourn... lovely interweaving guitars and awesome Scottish pastoral view from the window...

Thanks again, dear John.

News from Japan via ETF 2014 - The Japanese Team Systems

Find herewith enclosed the report of Machida-san, Kiyohara-san and Moriyama-san's systems. 

Thanking Jean Hiraga for great pictures and report and my pal Diego for pointing it out.

Enjoy, as I did... but beware: 82 pages and a 10,7MB download!

Superb pixies and gears and systems, folks.

The Tzar DST cartridge, the Neumann DST replica from Russia

One more time, here is the unveiled icy beauty of new Neumann DST replica, from Moscow, Russia.

Thanking Robin Wyatt and Leonidas for sharing and wishing them the VERY best with this mighty design... maybe the MOST exotic and seldom seen cartridge ever made.


If the sound will be - say - 80% of my original, N.O.S. White Neumann DST's, they're in business... trusting the Tzar DST will be able to limit VTF at 3-3,5 grams.

Friday, March 27, 2015

John Renbourn passed away!

My heart is still bleeding, folks... John Renbourn has been my inspiration since early '70s, when I bought Pentangle's Reflection on Transatlantic with its folded cover so full of small and smaller and larger color pixies of John, Bert, Danny, Terry and Jacqui... a younger me was in awe, as while listening to, say, So Clear or Omie Wise, my fantasy was traveling to an exotic England, a dream I lived only a few years later... music, discs, concerts, guitars... an imaginary place I lived, day by day, from this cover artwork.

In 1976 I went to my first John's concert, in Bologna, Italy... he was playing his Guild D55 (coming in a blue Calton's guitar case), with Duck Baker and Stefan Grossman... I travelled by train and the concert was a blast for yours truly.

Not by chance I bought, owned and played a D-55, as well... down to Calton's case and peeling off the nitrocellulose lacquer and refinishing in French polish, exactly as John himself did on his Guild's.

... but back on the gig: I arrived early, so was able to have a chat with John and Stefan and Duck, as well...

I was in heaven.

The trains were stopping at night, so I was back home at 6 A.M.

I remember I stopped at a bakery and I was gifted of a fragrant, fresh baked bread.

It had the smell and flavor of freedom.

... a freedom I won on field of one of the first true concerts of many to come I attended worldwide, which still makes music my bread and butter and honey.

Never tired... hopelessly in love for the life.

I still have in my wallet a Ralph Bown card John gave to me after another concert, one of the fourteen  times I saw him alive... he wrote to me his Kingswear, Devon's address and blinked his eye.

"Come to visit... one day"

... and so I did, folks...

Next year I travelled to England with my wife and my flamenco guitar... it was same year - when in London - I called the late, missed Davey Graham and I arranged to spend three hours at his Camden Town apartment, taking a lesson but, much more, breathing the legend... and feeling so fine.

... music, again, you know...

I enjoyed Ivor Mairants and his Fylde's guitars and Denmark Street... I was in Toyland...

... and Collet's and Cecil Sharp House and Half Moon in Putney... and... and...

In a few days, heading to Devon, after Glastonbury and Stonehenge and Salisbury, I was ready - after a sort of "preparatory journey" - to reach John's house... near the sea, a tiny village... flowers and Vauxhall parked in the garden... an ancient, nice house, a cocker spaniel dog... I had some gift for John - fine wine from Italy - and the lady who hosted me and my wife was so kind... a tea, chatting... BUT John was touring Italy with Bert Jansch!!!

We spent hours at his house, chatting and visiting John's music room... the guitars hanging on the walls, piles and piles of hand-written sheet music...

I wasn't angry or deluged... the lady was so kind to let me to explore this goldmine.

... before leaving, we laughed as I taught to her vegetables names in Venetian dialect... so "eggplants" became "meansane"... "Courgettes" were "sucoi" and so on... my wife was blaming to me for my... rudeness, but John's lady was amused and we all enjoyed laughing.

... more and more times I saw John in concert, played his Bown guitar once... Stefan Grossman, in backstage, got angry with me, as he wasn't aware John himself allowed me to fingerpick his fine guitar... so we almost fucked off each other... too bad John timely arrived to explain.

I began playing John's music in mid seventies... had his "Pieces for Guitar" booklet, then all his following booklets and learned learned learned to play twenty or so of his great tunes... Luckett Sunday, Bicycle Tune, Anna Pavanna, Lady Nothynge, Bourree I & II...

The joy I still feel after decades playing John's music, the beauty of his fingerings and harmonic solutions gives to me shivers of pleasure.

John was The Hermit... his Hawick home was unique like him... unique, timeless, difficult and easy...

I have more thoughts, but everything is blurred... maybe it's far too early to express them in written form... maybe later, one day.

Only John's music has the healing power to soothe everyone who loved him and his art...

Words sounds redundant... lesser... poorer than also his tiniest trillo, vibrato or bending...

This early morning, after reading the sad news about John passing away, I was in tears, alone, in the silent house...

What I did was handling my Sovereign acoustic guitar... It was in standard tuning, so I down-tuned G to F sharp and played beloved "Bicycle Tune"... a complex tune, loop-like, yet so easy to the ears.

... and my eyes were wet, again...

John was a scholar, a teacher, a musician, an humble genius, a smiling bear, a collector, a mentor.

... and my friend, forever.

That's my humble words for him, honoring his art and uniqueness... others more clever than me wrote it better, yet I'll sincerely miss him the rest of my life, also if he'll live forever in his superb music.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Site of the Decade - Alan Lomax' Archives giveaway!

GREAT news for musicologists and music lovers...

To browse, endlessly.


Ralph Towner & Paolo Fresu - Sardinian wisdom

Cool video from Sardinia and wise, WISE words from maestro Ralph Towner.

Thanking my pal Daniele...

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cunningham CX-310

Just got this beauty from the USA... now my tubes warehouse happily counts three pairs of this INCREDIBLE, terrific triode...

Love this carton box which survived flawlessly for decades...


A time-capsule find for my mighty Thomas Mayer Line Stage pre-amp...

A soooo nice piece of gear guilty of the best sound I ever experienced in my system...

Thanking the great Ebayer for such a nicely preserved tube from 1929 and... feel jealous for his nice EICO tube-tester, as well!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Blog of the Month - Jason plays Music

Jason Mass sure knows and he's not fearful or afraid to share his tastes and knowledge.

Browse and enjoy, folks.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Italian Food by Elizabeth David - Penguin Book (1954)

This book, written by renowned writer Elizabeth David in early '50s, is an ode to Italy and - mostly - Sicily's food... this seminal book, illustrated by Renato Guttuso who painted the Vucciria market in Palermo (and made the book cover artwork), gave to a post-WWII Europe and namely England, a hinting of colors and happiness at table.

... and this book is as timeless as it can be today.

Worth reading and experimenting... in the kitchen, of course.

Yummi and... buon appetito!

John Renbourn's teachings - Rotosound B12 "Piano Strings" Super Bronze for acoustic guitar

Here is maestro Frank Ford of Gryphon guitars shop, the fretted instruments heaven, who gives a wise suggestion about "why" changing strings regularly...

I recently discovered, thanking John Renbourn's well informed hint, as well,  the superb Rotosound Super Bronze B12 "piano strings".

        "A while ago, trying out different bronze strings, I came across some old Rotosounds in black and red packets that I had somehow managed to hang on to for years. They sounded really good, bright and well balanced but with a rich tone. The company were amused to hear that anybody should still have strings going so far back but assured me that, several packet designs later, their new strings were still the same quality. Rotosound bass strings have a high profile world-wide which may have overshadowed  their guitar strings. James How, who founded the company in the fifties, engineered a new type of string-winding machine that was a step ahead of the industry and all the strings are produced to the same degree of precision.  In addition to the phospher-bronze  round wounds, Rotosound also make guitar strings in the piano string design. That is with the wrap wire stopping short of the ball end so that a section of the core wire is exposed and only the core wire comes into contact with the saddle.  These strings are called Super Bronze.   It is actually an old idea and I  have a feeling that the very first steel strings used on the guitar in the 1800’s were like that. The gauges for both types of string go from 060 to 018 covered, and 026 to 008 plain."

Amazing sound improvement on my Lowden  S-35 RIO, Martin 00-21 and Harmony Sovereign H-1260 (see above pix) acoustic guitars.

Do you notice something weird on this string?


Well, I do!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Partridge 300B monoblocks and Luxman AT-3000

After a lazy winter, when springtime comes again (... or so...) my energy greatly improves and I find the time and goodwill and strength to move things around like I used to do when younger...

After enjoying The Joke/RK-50 integrated amp, I put in place my old, trusty Partridge/300B mono blocks, here used with Luxman AT-3000 super-permalloy passive preamp.

I'm using these days the smaller system with Cabasse and Studer A-730 disk-player as I'm currently mostly into small scale acoustic music...

This afternoon I greatly enjoyed Current 93's "Honeysuckle Aeons", a superb, dark lucubration by David Tibet and his cohort, a true well kept secret as a 2D4 recording, as well.

The sound of the 300B, now wired to 8 ohm after many years at 16 ohm, is rounder and thicker when compared to the balance of The Joke, but the soundstage size and depth, dynamics and naturalness of voices and overall timbres are stunning.

... but, pals, let me dare... 300B is such an overrated triode: also if pleasant, I mean VERY pleasant... well...  reminding yesterday listening, The Joke and its humble PCL 82s (and Alps RK-50 pot) is truly coming from outer space!