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Graham Hawker

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Wilder Mind
Wilder Mind
Price: £10.78

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Undistiquised, 7 May 2015
This review is from: Wilder Mind (Audio CD)
I read a quote from the band saying this was a development. Mumford certainly needed to develop their sound but this isn't a development. It's a clear change of direction into another undistinguished and undistinguishable guitar trashing, bish bosh drumming band. There are some moments which work better, usually when there's no trashing guitar or drums, and a couple of decent songs, such as Believe and Wilder Mind. Overall the songs are weaker than previous albums. Perhaps they don't have much left. The only thing really left over is the voice.

This is not a development it is a departure and comparisons to Snow Patrol or Coldplay are not unreasonable. Not so much as wilder mind but wooly minded thinking.


Space Ritual Live 2014 (Deluxe Ed with DVD)
Space Ritual Live 2014 (Deluxe Ed with DVD)
Price: £12.98

8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is why we were born to be Hawkwind fans, 14 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I don't dole out five stars to my favourite band unless they really deserve it. I usually witter away describing each track but we should know what to expect here. Sometimes in the past we've never been quite sure how they would treat their old material but I have noticed a recent tendency to capture the true essence of the tracks. And here they do that in spades. Not a attempt to reply them exactly, which would be a bit silly, but to capture the things that made Space Ritual so special. The key thing is that the band are in fine form and seem to be having a blast. Richard Chadwick especially does a splendid job of being the fine drummer he is as well as doing a fine Simon King impression when it really matters.

They remember to do the chants when it matters which means they have remembered that it does matter. I think I'll cite Brainstorm as to why this is so good. I have an opinion which probably doesn't fit with many other fans. It was only really good once and that was on the original Space Ritual. But now it's really good twice. Sonic Attack with Brain Blessed's voice is enormous fun. Now there's a sentence I never expected to write. I always thought Time We Left was the weak point of the original. Good riff but then very messy. What I like here is that after the messy instrumental section they just cut if short as if to say that's enough of that. If there's anything dodgy about the whole thing it's the first instrumental section of Orgone Accumulator but that's me being very picky.

So i watched the DVD and picked up my guitar to play along and I picked up my banjo and played along and then I thought Space Ritual on the banjo. Then I realised I was getting carried away. But it's stuff to get carried away with. The CD sounds just as good.

There is another CD of course of the first set they played that day with a mix of recent and old songs and music and that's fine as well. I imagine we're all buying it for Space Ritual though. And we shouldn't be disappointed with that unless we're so stuck in the past that if it's not actually 1973 it's no good.


Luna Guitars ART CRAFTSMAN Artist Crafts Man Acoustic Electric Guitar
Luna Guitars ART CRAFTSMAN Artist Crafts Man Acoustic Electric Guitar
Price: £551.90

5.0 out of 5 stars Good craft and sound from the Craftsman, 12 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this guitar when it was on the Amazon Outlet for less than half the full price. At that price I'm not going to complain much about any solid top, solid back and sides guitar. It looks very nice but a bit darker than the pictures suggest. There were no problems with the workmanship, finish or action. A guitar called Craftsman is indeed well crafted. It sounds quite mellow, which I guess is expected with a solid cedar top, and well balanced and certainly a richer sound than the cheaper solid top guitars I've owned. My other decent steel string acoustic has a solid spruce top and laminate koa back and sides and that sounds brighter. I prefer things on the mellow side as a rule. The video on the Luna site/YouTube where it is recorded with an microphone gives a reasonable impression of the sound.

That video also has the sound from the pickup/pre amp which doesn't sound great to me. I find it's much better than that. Peizo pickups always seem to be a bit of a compromise though even with a decent pre amp. That's true of many mid priced electro acoustics.

So should you buy? There's a lot of competition in this price range but far more spruce tops than cedar. If you want a bright sound perhaps not. If you want a nicely rounded slightly mellow good sounding and very good looking guitar this is well worth considering. At £400 it would be a bargain and £500 would be reasonable price. I paid less than £300. Bear in mind the USA list price is $599. There might be be competition but this is one of the competitors.

I can't really fault it and I like it a lot so it has to be 5 stars especially at the price I paid. I'd say £400 or less it's five stars and at £500 or more it would be 4 stars.


Under Wraps
Under Wraps
Price: £9.44

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No need to keep this album under wraps, 29 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: Under Wraps (Audio CD)
This is interesting. The things that strike me are that in most ways it sticks with typical Tull/Anderson arrangements with the interplay between guitar, flute and keyboards, the keyboards are mainly synths and there's nothing wrong with that and there's a drum machine which doesn't work so well. There's a aprticulalry ruinous use of the bass drum on Saboteur which is otherwise a decent track. Some of those "modern" effects don't always work (the vocooder on Later That Same Evening for instance) but then it's the weakest track from the original album. The synths are as we know quite prominent but I'm fine with that.

So to the songs. The weakest are the additions not on the original vinyl Astronomy, Tundra, Automotive Engineering and General Crossing the last two being clear cases of bonuses which deserved to left out. The first two aren't too bad though.The first three are fabulous. A decent pop song Lap of Luxury, an absolute classic typical Tull arrangement with Under Wraps and European Legacy which probably has Anderson's greatest flute riff. There's stuff to like in most of the rest of the tracks. Radio Free Moscow, Nobodys Car, Heat, Under Wraps 2, Paparazzi and Apogee are all very decent. Apogee is almost the stand out track on the whole album.

The thing I find is that however the Tull sound changes it's still the same because Anderson never forgets to do what he's always done well. And that's to be found in profusion here.


Censored
Censored
Price: £11.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Saved by the Well, 22 Oct. 2014
This review is from: Censored (Audio CD)
The previous album Dream was really very good. This feels like a step backwards and rarely does it reach those standards. Only with the Well of Forever do we really get to that level. It's the penultimate track and it's worth waiting for. The synth bass echoes some Hawkwind stuff (Virgin of the World and Who's Gonna Win the War). Great melodic lead guitar and synth and then into some great ailed on rock with chant like vocals. Superb.

Unfortunately for much of the rest of the album the band struggle to reach such heights. Sate of Emergency and Damned feature pedestrian over familiar riffs and pedestrian songs. The strong point of Dream was the arrangements and the prominent role of Harvey's synths and keyboards. Here he's reduced to typical space rock bleeps and swirls. Damned does pick up quite a lot in the middle though and by the end it's sounding quite good.

Forever is more like it. The synths are present in force and the acoustic guitar gets a run. The song isn't bad but I do think it could do with a bit more work. So into Induction with 6 minutes of synth texture and a long spoken poem. Not sure really. Sonic Seven Kiss perhaps is symptomatic of the album. It sounds OK, has some nice ideas but it just feels it needs some more work on the song. Starstruck starts with acoustic picking and Ron Tree sounds so much better here and there's some good synth work. It's not quite Dream but it's close. Back to rock with It's What You Wanted. This is probably the strongest straight rock track on the album. Much more like it.

Soma is a synth textures filler which sounds quite nice. Catwalk Chic is back to pedestrian riffing and this reminds me ID Man from Dream which I classed as a throw away hark back to the seventies and this is the same. Upside Down Man is another symptomatic track that needs more work and a stronger song. Then it's the fabulous Well of Forever. We finish with You What with various vocal samples mixed with drum fills and laid back bluesy guitar and synths. I guess it qualifies as a quite interesting filler.

So not entirely saved by The Well of Forever but, besides that, none of the better tracks compete with those on Dream.

I don't really want to compare it to Hawkwind or the original Hawklords but others have said how it sounds like these. This is just not correct. It sounds like Hawklords now but not Hawklords now at their best. I happened to listen to this on Spotify and some 1979 Hawklords tracks got mixed in. Different class, different sound. But that's not the way to judge this album. Different band, different era. If you want to make comparisons then the closest comparisons are with some tracks when Tree and Richards were in Hawkwind.

Compared to The Hawklords it's better than We Are One but not close to Dream. The Well of Forever though now that's a different story.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 29, 2014 9:44 PM GMT


Luna Muse Series Nylon Strung Electro Acoustic Guitar
Luna Muse Series Nylon Strung Electro Acoustic Guitar
Price: £325.00

5.0 out of 5 stars No Blues for the Muse, 13 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is my second foray into Luna nylon folk guitars. While I liked the Heartsong that had some problems and I will compare the two here. The Muse Nylon had none of the problems of the Heartsong and while I liked the sound of the Heartsong I love the sound of the Muse. I also had none of the problems with Muse described in that long review on Amazon.com. The action is good - exactly what I would expect, higher than a steel string but lower that a classical. Perhaps I would prefer it a tiny bit lower but that's more personal taste. In comparison to the Heartsong the nut was cut perfectly and the frets are properly finished.

It is more expensive than the Heartsong and has a solid spruce top although I nabbed an incredible bargain from Amazon Warehouse. Pre-used but nothing particularity noticeable it the way of marks. The body is slightly less deep than the Heartsong ranging from 79mm to 95mm. The nut width is 1 7/8th inches and not 1 13/16ths as described on Amazon.

The sound is great. It's tricky to describe but in comparison to the Heartsong I'd say it's bolder, richer and a bit louder and while the thinner body tones down the bass in comparison to a classical guitar, it still has a decent bass response which is overall well balanced. The supplied D'Addario strings work really well here. The Heartsong sounds a bit thin in comparison. It has a nice satin finish and nice rosette and fret marker inlays. If there's anything I'm less keen about it's the gold coloured engraved tuners which look a bit blingy in comparison to the rest of the guitar. They work well though. The B Band electronics work and sound fine as well. Besides a standard jack there's also and xlr output.

So a very decent, very good sounding folk nylon in my opinion and certainly better than the laminate topped Heartsong. There aren't many solid top nylon folk guitars in this price range so it's tricky to comment on the full price (currently £375) and whether it's worth it. I'd say that if it was £300, for what you get, it would be a good price.


Ashbury AB-65 5 String Banjo
Ashbury AB-65 5 String Banjo
Price: £245.08

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A decent cheaper intermediate resonator banjo, 29 Aug. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This banjo is at the cheaper end of intermediate banjos and I did get it at a ridiculous price to match or beat those really cheap and fairly nasty thin rimmed or aluminum pot resonator banjos.

At the full rrp (£299-349) there's some competition around. As I write it's £179 which is an absolute bargain and I paid much less. £250-£280 would be a fair price but there might be some others worth checking out. The pros are considerable. A 7/16ths inch rim, a decent tailpiece which seems to be some crossover between presto and straightline tailpieces, quite nice geared guitar style tuners, a flange and unusually, instead of the usual 5th string nut, a railroad spike and another spike at the seventh fret. It also has a basic brass tone ring. The strings are 0.10 gauge mediums and so I thought this might be the first time I wouldn't have to replace the lights usually supplied on banjos. However I wasn't convinced by their quality and replacing them with some D'Addarios was a distinct improvement.

It also looks nice and fairly well made. After some investigation the rim, which is made of 8 plys although the outer and inner plys are just very thin maple venner coverings and similar or the same as some other cheaper maple banjos. It's certainly better than some cheaper banjos or even more expensive banjos which use more very thin plys. It has a single, but sturdy, co-ordinating rod plus a secondary neck connection rather than dual co-ordinating rods.

I tend to go for mellow openback banjos. Without the resonator and flange it sounds good as an openback. However I fancied having a resonator especially at the price I paid. Resonators are usually for Scruggs style bluegrass. Although this is not what I'm using it for it's probably OK as a starter for this style and way better than the cheaper stuff. It's bright but not harsh (especially after replacing the strings) and while it lacks the zing of better bluegrass banjos with their better rims and heavier tone rings it's not at all disappointing.

It came without any setup problems, besides the usual need to tighten a few of the tension hooks, and a good action. The bridge needs to put on as well which is not unusual unless your buying from a proper banjo shop. I did use a wider bridge which I had lying around rather than the standard supplied bridge for a slightly mellower tone.

Overall very happy especially at the price paid.


Ortega R131SN-WR Classical Guitar (Slim Neck) - Wine Red
Ortega R131SN-WR Classical Guitar (Slim Neck) - Wine Red
Price: £196.80

4.0 out of 5 stars Slim and Solid, 24 Aug. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this from the Amazon Warehouse for less than £100 and it appeared to be unused so as long as it's reasonably decent I'm going to be happy. This was an experiment back into the nylon strung guitar world and it was a success. I wanted a slim neck for my smallish hands and this works well. Although it says the nut width is 48mm, at the top it's more like 46mm and the string spacing is typical of a 46mm nut (1.5 inches from E to E). This is a bonus which makes playing more comfortable than expected. With its solid cedar top it sounds very nice as well. I can't really comment on how this might compare to other guitars of a similar or higher price but I guess for the price I paid it's pretty hard to beat. The more typical £200 price would seem to be about right although you do get a really decent gig bag adding quite a lot to the value. I would say that having seen the natural finish version that one does look much nicer than the wine red.


Luna Guitars SONG NYLON Satin Heartsong Nylon Folk Acoustic Electric Guitar
Luna Guitars SONG NYLON Satin Heartsong Nylon Folk Acoustic Electric Guitar
Price: £289.25

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A decent guitar dragged down by some spoilers., 22 Aug. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I was looking for a thin necked nylon string folk guitar for mellow strumming and picking. I guess the reduced price of £160 was too tempting so I went for this.

On the Luna website it says it has a 1 11/16th inch nut width (43mm) which is really narrow for a nylon guitar. On reflection perhaps unlikely. In fact the nut with 1 7/8th inches (47.6mm) so that was disappointing (I emailed Luna about this and soon after all their full sized nylon guitars changed specs to 1 7/8th inches). Body depth is just what I want ranging from 3.25 inches to 3.75 inches (83mm to 95mm). It lacks the bass response of a typical nylon classical guitar but the sound is just about right for my needs. So that's a positive.

There are other negatives though. One of the impressions you get about Luna is they put much more into the decoration than the guitar itself. This example has quite a lot of rough ended frets. It's also the first guitar I've bought which had fret buzz - on the A and E strings around the first, second and third frets. Undeterred I cured this by loosening the truss rod a bit and putting on some higher tension strings. The next problem might have been a reason to return it. The string spacing was uneven specifically the gap between both the E strings and the adjacent strings was wider than the gap between the other strings due to a poorly cut nut (it's a nubone nut). I decided to fix this myself and now it's OK. Overall though it does suggest that Luna need to pay more attention to finishing the guitar and quality control. Edit: although better it was still clear that there was other unevenness with string spacing. I replaced the nut with a slightly shorter TUSQ nut which also had the benefit of reducing overall spacing to a more comfortable 1.5 inches.

I haven't tried the USB output but the normal output and B Band electronics sound fine to me.

If you get a good one I'd say it's a £200 guitar, like the Ibanez AEG10NII for instance. I get the impression that with Luna the decoration adds quite a bit to the price (a good example being the price of £150 specced banjo) although the main problem seems to be a considerably larger UK price compared to the US price. A good way to tell if the price is good is to see how it compares to a direct conversion from dollars, this one being £299. A good one will sound good, have a decent preamp, have a nubone nut and saddle, have what seem to be nice tuners and will look nice Judging by the strings that were on the guitar to start with the tuning is reasonably stable for a nylon sting guitar. The action is low and the neck is thin - thinner than thin necked classical guitars. It has a laminate spruce top but there are lot's of pros if you get a good one at a good price. It just might not be entirely as described by Luna. A good one would deserve four stars but as it came it only gets three.


Space Gypsy
Space Gypsy
Price: £7.49

5 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Early promise fades into poor songs, 31 Oct. 2013
This review is from: Space Gypsy (MP3 Download)
At the time of release there is a clear split between the anti and pro Turner and anti and pro Hawkwind review brigade which makes it trickier to spot the sensible reviews. I'm not going for that and my two stars is based entirely on the music before us.

And so to the album. Fallen Angel is by far the best thing on the album. It certainly trying to recreate some elements of Hawkwind circa 1972 and even the guitar solo echoes Dave Brock's simple and effective style. The weak point is when Nik starts plying the sax by alternating between screech and foghorn but it doesn't last long.

Joker's Song seems to use the Flying Doctor riff (Hawklords 25 Years On). The vocal line follows the riff and Nik seems like he's going to play Brainstorm for a moment. The sax sounds good except when he does the screech/foghorn thing. I'm not sure why he got into this habit but it doesn't do his sax playing any favours.

Time Crypt sounds familiar. I know it's the Flying Doctor riff again and the vocal line is following it again. Simon House gets to play violin but I'm not sure he's really being used very well. It's a decent enough track though and the second best thing here.

Galaxy Rise has seagulls, acoustic guitar and floaty flute. I've always liked Niks floaty flute. The song it weak though and the music deserves better. I also notice the Hawkwind like synths and sweeps seem to be there for being there's sake and without judgement. In the end it sounds like filler.

Coming of the Maya also has Simon House and used to better effect. The vocals are spoken and there's a riff going which I've heard before. It's a mix of a slowed down Brainstorm and Set the Control for the Heart of the Sun. In it's 8 plus minutes the violin and flute are the only saving graces.

We Ride the Winds is back to fast pace rock. It's all a bit monotone or two tone. After a good guitar solo Nik is off screech/foghorn. It sounds terrible. There is a riff in here which is played on sax and sounds good on guitar. But it gets lost in what is a weak track.

Eternity starts with nice acoustic guitar. But the song is weak again and the vocals aren't particularly wonderful either. The guitar and flute is trying to save the day but they need to be saving the day for a better song. The synths are sweeping and bleeping again with little purpose.

Anti Matter has Mr House and Steve Hillage and drums pounding away and there definitely a good idea here. There's some spoken vocal getting in the way and I'm not sure that in the end a lot has been achieved.

The Visitor starts with acoustic strumming and flute and is definitely sounding rather good but the song is weak again.

The bonus track of Somethings Not Right sounds OK musically but the song is poor again. The sax is really good here though.

Mmmm....looking back at that there's a couple of decent tracks and some fairly decent music at times but the song ideas are often just not up to it. I think a whole album of Nik singing is just too much and as it progressed I became far less enamoured by the vocals. Perhaps I prefer smaller slices of Nik singing. After all D Rider remains one of my all time favourites. The bleepy sweeping synths aren't used to great effect but at least Nik only occasionally got carried away on the sax. So it's Fallen Angel and Time Crypt for me and the rest are unlikely to get an airing again.


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