Vinyl Lockdown

 As the UK's second COVID-19 lockdown started on 5th November 2020, I thought I would take the opportunity of listening to my collection of LPs, mainly from the 1970s, in its entirety. By listening I do mean sitting down in a comfortable seat in front of the speakers and enjoying the music without any distractions. Today, everyone seems to listen to music either on the move or as incidental background noise whereas I prefer to spend time appreciating the music, albeit occasionally spoiling the ambience by joining in when I can remember the words!!

Many of the LP records would have been played on a Garrard SP25 MkIII turntable, Amstrad 8000 amplifier and original Wharfedale Denton speakers - a not atypical set-up for a student in the early 1970s. The turntable was upgraded (1977??) to a Lenco L830 DD and I'm pretty sure I upgraded the amp at the same time but to what I cannot recall. The Denton speakers continued to give sterling service for many years.

My current set-up is an audio-technica AT-LP120 turntable, Denon M38 amp and a pair of Wharfedale Denton II speakers as homage to my long departed originals.

Music playlist (in order played):

Bob Marley and the WailersLegend, the best of Bob Marley and the Wailers - a recent acquisition and not sure why I never bought any originals. Compilation of his best known work

Barclay James HarvestEarly Morning Onwards  - first saw in concert while at university (UEA) in Norwich in the early 1970s. Bought the LP but do not have the t-shirt. We had an excellent Student Union Social Secretary at UEA who overspent her budget considerably to get bands on campus. There were also a couple of music venues in Norwich (e.g. St Andrews Hall) plus the local teacher training college. BJH originated in Oldham not far from my home town, Eccles. Started in 1966 and still going albeit as two separate bands, each containing one original member! Wiki describes as 'progressive rock' but to me they were modern folk rock with orchestral overtones

Amazing BlondelFantasia Lindum - another band we saw in concert in Norwich & bought the LP. Difficult to categorize their music - acoustic renaissance folk is probably the best I can do. I still remember their description of the sound of a crumhorn as 'a well-tuned fart'. Surprisingly popular in mainland Europe depite their very 'Englishness'. Played a wide range of instruments including lute, theorbo, cittern, recorders, flute, crumhorn, glockenspiel, dulcimer, tabor, harpischord, mellotron and more. One of the best things to come out of Scunthorpe - no longer active

Bonzo Dog Doo Dah BandThe History of the Bonzos  (double album) - first saw in the surreal 1960s' TV comedy show 'Do Not Adjust Your Set' - a trailblazer for Monty Python's Flying Circus. Cannot better Wiki's description "combining elements of music halltrad jazz and psychedelic pop with surreal humour and avant-garde art". Had a top 5 hit with "I'm the Urban Spaceman" in 1968; co-produced by Paul McCartney

Barclay James Harvest, Barclay James Harvest and other short stories see above

Bob Dylan/The BandBefore the Flood (Live) (double album) - one of the great songwriters and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016. Funny how two of the best singer-songwriters in the past 60 years (Dylan and Leonard Cohen) might have difficulty getting jobs as singers! Born Robert Allen Zimmerman in 1941, Dylan will be 80 in 2021 and still performing/producing. Famously 'disowned' by his 'fans' when he moved from acoustic to amplified/electric guitar. One of the many protest singers in 60s America, he went on to sell over 100 million records. You do need to sit down and listen to Dylan.

Duran Duran, Notorious - Absolutely no idea how this got into my LP collection as I'm not a fan. Pleasant enough as background but not something I'd sit down to listen to. There is a sticker on the cover that says ' British Red Cross' and '£1' which doesn't ring a bell so may have been picked up third-hand at a bazaar or fete. This an example of the 'New Wave' or 'New Romantic' in the 1980s. Interestingly, the album was made/produced in Bulgaria which explains the Cyrillic language/script on the record label/sticker.

Cat Stevens, Foreigner - From my wife's LP collection, I suspect, but one we both like. Before he became Yusuf Islam.

Captain Beefheart, The Spotlight Kid - Had a cult following without real commercial success. This album is one of his more commercial offerings. Collaborated a lot with Frank Zappa. Appeared in concert at UEA during my student days. Renowned for having a 5-octave voice range.

Carole King, Rhymes & Reasons -  One of the most successful female songwriters in the second half of the 20th Century; she wrote 61 hits that charted in the UK.  Born 1942, she is still working. Beautifully crafted songs.

I'll update the post as I work my way through the collection...

Asparagus Ferns in Autumn

We have a small plot, about 1 square meter, that was planted up with 5 asparagus crowns (Eclipse) some 3 to 4 years ago. This year was their first productive crop and we enjoyed fresh asparagus from mid-April to the end of May.  I'm guessing a yield  of about 2 kg over the 6-week harvesting period; sufficient for the two of us to enjoy twice a week.

At the end of May, no more spears were cut and the ferns were allowed to develop in order to build up the crowns ready for cropping in 2021.

It is now the beginning of November and the ferns have taken on their autumnal hue. In the next week or so I shall cut back the ferns to a couple of inches, remove any weeds, feed the soil with homemade garden compost and await next year's crop.

Modern asparagus varieties are much easier to grow and do not require the specially-prepared raised bed systems of the past. A sunny level bed with good drainage is fine. A little patience is needed because it takes 3 years or so for the plants to establish themselves before you get your first crop. On the plus side your asparagus bed could be productive for the next 20 years!

In the background, you can see the sign for William Earp & Son discovered in our cellar. William Earp was a local nurseryman in the 1890s who went bankrupt. Apart from the fact our garden was once part of his nursery, we know very little else about him.

Popular Posts