Archive | August, 2013

Weekly Vinyl – Aretha Franklin

30 Aug

30 Greatest Hits
Aretha Franklin

I’m usually not a fan of “Greatest Hits” albums but how could any one resist this one. How could one resist this voice. The only thing that could hold one back is the fact that Aretha probably had more than 30 hits.
This is a double album and the double spread has a comprehensive biography of this singer and an incite into her music. The songs are arranged chronologically so it is easy to track the progression of her art and of popular music from the first hit on the album Never Loved A Man (The way I Love You), (released February 10, 1967) to the thirtieth, I’m in Love (released March 18m, 1974). The liner notes also list the highest position achieved on the charts — both the Pop and R&B or Soul charts. There are discoveries here, for me anyways. I had no idea that Franklin covered the Beatles’ Elenor Rigby or Bridge over Troubled Water by Paul Simon
But the historical titbits are just a minor distraction from the fantastic music that is found on this double album. And it is great.
As I’m listening to this you really appreciate what a great talent she is.
And if her voice doesn’t sway you then do the numbers. This album covers but 7 years of her musical output. And she had 30 hit songs in this period— all of them sounding just as good and fresh as they did nearly half a century ago.



Weekly Wine – Fuzion Rose

28 Aug

Fuzion RoseFuzion Shiraz Rose
13% ABV
$7.90 (LCBO)

Red Fuzion wine, reviewed April 24 in this blog, set the inexpensive wine world alight when it was introduced a few years back. Inexpensive wines became tolerated in rarefied circles. So will Fuzion’s entry into the Rose sphere do the same? (There is a white wine I think, but I have not gotten to it yet.)

There is a reason that Fuzion will not have the sane impact on the rose market as it had on the red wine market. Inexpensive and moderately priced wines dominate the rose market. At best this wine will make a ripple in the marketplace.

And to be fair, this wine is fair. It is a light rose that is refreshing and has no real nasty aftertastes. It is OK. It has to be said that I have never had an excellent rose. They have always been either good or bad. Off or on. No matter what the price point. I have had much worse rose wines that have cost twice the price of this on.

Fusion is a rose. It is a good rose. It is a good rose that is very inexpensive.

Doing dis and dat

26 Aug

At a reception a while back I could not help but overhear two women deep in discussion about the third most important subject in the world after the weather and house prices … health.

Well to be precise it was weight loss regimes.
It is no news to anybody that most people in North America need to loose some weight. Such are the temptations.
Now these women were comparing different strategies, foods and what not when one of them said, “I’m doing Jenny Craig.” This is a weight loss program designed by a real of fictitious person, I have obviously not bothered to research this. It is one of hundreds if not thousands.

What struck me was that if I was to mention that I was, “doing Jenny Craig,” to a male friend of mine the meaning would be much different.

Serenity … not

25 Aug


This is a sunset over Silver Lake. It looks bronze here — but nevertheless it is beautiful. What you don’t see in the picture is the Trans-Canada highway to the left. The trucks are shifting down to make the small rise in elevation. The noise goes on all the time – so much so you start to not notice it anymore.

Weekly Vinyl – Conga-Longa-Max

23 Aug

Viva! Conga-Longa-Max Vol.10
Max Bygraves
Like most people who own this album, I bought it for the cover. For the name. I had no idea what the music would be like. I suspected it would be cheesy.
Processed cheese. Cheese Whizzy. This is 1970s 1am hotel lounge music. The bar is closing, you are running out of cigarettes, there are no prospects on the horizon and all that is left is a fitful sleep in an uncomfortable bed. With this music careening inside your head.
The production is good. Bygraves’ has a good voice. The arrangements are spot on. Everything here is a meledy – a 1970s version of song mashups. For example — Side two, song 3 starts with a Wedding Samba, goes to a ditty called Brazil, then back to something called The Laughing Samba and finishes off on Hava Nagila. You don’t hear that kind of stuff much anymore.


Weekly Wine – 20 Bees

21 Aug

20bees20 Bees Baco Noir VQA
12.5% ABV
$9.95 (LCBO)

My dad, grandfather and uncle kept bees so I am genetically predisposed to this wine’s name and label. That said I am a little perplexed by the label’s image of grape harvesters, loaded with grapes, riding the flying bees over vineyards. It is a strange image, but it did not distract or discourage me from trying this wine from my home province.
This is VQA wine so you know that this is home grown wine. (Some Ontario wines use grapes grown in other areas.) This appellation signifies the best that the region just south of Toronto, albeit over the lake, can produce. It is an affordable wine that has a great flavour. It is light and rich at the same time with no harshness that I could taste. It is a very nice wine. Quite surprising that it is at this price as most VQA wines cost a fair bit more.

Weekly Vinyl – Zappa

16 Aug

Chunga’s Revenge
Frank Zappa

I’ve listened to this album three times in a row trying to get to terms with it.
Is it brilliant?
Is it horrible?
Is it just a preview of what is to come. This is noted on the album sleeve  — “All the vocals in this album are a preview of the story from 200 MOTELS. Coming soon.”
Perhaps not soon enough I think as I listen to some of these songs. There is a lot of extended guitar soloing. It sounds like a jam session. This is good.
But you have to be in the right mood to listen to this album. This is not an album that you can just throw on and have it play as you are trying to do something else. It will force you to listen. And if you do not listen to it — it will irritate you.
Perhaps this was Zappa’s goal.
If so … it is a brilliant album.

Weekly Wine – Gazela

14 Aug

GazelaSogrape Gazela Vinho Verde
9% ABV
$8.95 (LCBO)
A good friend introduced me to this wine and a good thing too. This is a great summer wine. Light and refreshing. It has a bit of fizz to it but not like sparkling wine, champagne or soda pop.
The carbonation is more like that of a beer that has had an in bottle second fermentation. Like those of some artisan breweries or home brews. The mild carbonation is a nice balance with the light flavour.
I will repeat that it is a refreshing sip of wine on a hot day. I’ve had it in winter and it only worked when I was hot because of the crush of people or because I was by a fireplace. It needs to be cold and drinker needs to be hot. I can’t really comment on the flavour because of the lightness of it. When drinking you know it is wine, you have a bit of fizz, and you are refreshed. What more do you want?

Big and ugly — but tasty

13 Aug

This is not the best summer for tomatoes. I rained like hell all of June. We never got the consistent heat and sun that is needed. Early blight set in.
The tomatoes that grow in my garden will never win a beauty prize. They are misshapen. They have blotches. They are big and heavy.
But they taste good.
SONY DSCIt says something about the food we eat. You get perfectly consistently shaped tomatoes, apples, oranges and other fruits and vegetables in the supermarket. They all look the same just like they came off a manufacturers’ assembly line. Yet for many of this produce the taste is lacking. The perfectly shaped Chilean grown tomato you can by in January will never taste as good as a home grown fresh tomato.
I recall perusing the farmers markets in post-Soviet Ukraine and seeing the miserable looking fruits and vegetables. They did not have the flair, polish and good looks of the food I was accustomed to in Canada and the US. But they tasted fantastic.
Although it is not the best summer for my vegetable garden, what I do get is excellent and I am very pleased.

Route 66

11 Aug

Narvik Bar

The wonderful view from the patio of my favourite bar in Narvik, Norway. You have a tank, bikes, a wizen tree and a panorama of the town and the surrounding hills. Called Route 66, you can meet bikers, sailors, soldiers and a host of interesting characters here north of the arctic circle.