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Blue Collar's Odds N Sods
By Mick Polich - 03/24/2010 - 10:32 AM EDT

As I wait to get back into the studio to record so we can continue our “Microphones And Recording” column, I thought I would throw some random thoughts, or ‘odds n’ sods’, to borrow from the Who, at ‘cha……..

New Music Releases For April Dept. – wow, I look down my wish list, and there’s a slew of new music releases next month. 3/20 brings the new Jeff Beck CD, ”Emotions And Commotions”. Jeffery is in his mid -sixties, and man, the guy can still pour it on with the guitar workouts - definitely my favorite living guitarist. That one will be cool, as well as new stuff from Shelby Lynne, Merle Haggard, and the Sony/Legacy deluxe package of Iggy Pop and the Stooges “Raw Power”. If you want to see, and hear, the prototype for the blueprint of punk rock, look no further than the Iggster – here’s hoping that the mix gets cleaned up quite a bit from the 1997 remix by Iggy (digital distortion – not cool). May looks like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have a new one out called “Mojo”, and the Stones do the box set/deluxe multi packaging for “Exile On Main Street”. Speaking of Keef, has anybody heard any more on the documentary that Johnny Depp is filming on Mr. Richards? Wonder if that will done this year, along with Keith’s long-awaited memoirs?

Just finished reading “Tammy Wynette: Tragic Country Queen”, by Jimmy McDonough, who also wrote the excellent bio on Neil Young, ”Shakey”. Talk about the TRUE tragic country song lived out – I mean, living with George “The Possum” Jones sounded like no picnic, but the rest of her life was a fascinating train wreck as well. Well worth the time for ANY music fan……..

Back to the Sony/Legacy stuff: 3/9 brought a lot of the Jimi Hendrix CD catalog out from Sony, repackaged with DVD’s on the ‘making of’ each disc, and some nice additional footage of the Woodstock concert. If you play your cards right, you could probably get all the re-releases and the Woodstock DVD for $70 to $80, which is a steal. All the mixes on “Are You Experienced?”, “Axis: Bold As Love”, “Electric Ladyland”, “Smash Hits”, “First Rays Of The New Rising Sun”, and the new “Valleys Of Neptune” are the best ever for clarity, tone, and separation ( and I was skeptical, because I’ve been getting suckered into theCD re-mastering biz for awhile). Especially “Ladyland”, which I always thought suffered from a bad mix/re-mix anyway. As for “Neptune”, most of the stuff I’ve heard thru bootlegs over the years, and one can only speculate on what Jimi could have added to those songs had he lived, but nonetheless, these are good aural sketches of what Hendrix was working on over a 2 year period. The Hendrix group says there is more stuff slated for release this year, plus well into this decade. I’m hoping that some of the songs that were criminally re-recorded with a new rhythm section on the early posthumous Alan Douglas mixes can be salvaged ( the song “Trash man”, for starters).

Cool Gear Alert: the new 50th Anniversary Fender Jazz Bass looks every bit the winner it should be. Also, the slew of low wattage tube amps that have been flooding the market for awhile look tasty. A peek into this months’ Guitar Player magazine reveals some ultra cool tube amps from Vintage 47, a northern California company. The VA – 167 Chicago Blues Tone Twin is to drool over – yowsah!

I got a chance to crack open a 30 watt amp from K and M Amplifiers in California, on my service bench a few weeks ago – GREAT craftsmanship and wiring, premium parts, even the point-to-point circuit boards look stellar. Good job, guys! Plus, the guys at tech support were a pleasure to deal with.

One last note on gear – I’ve been working with Mercury Magnetics, doing transformer upgrades on a few amps (thanks for the work, Phil A. – Houston ROCKS, bro!). I can honestly say, after years of working on the 5150 series amps from Peavey, with an adjustable bias circuit mod, installing a filter choke on the B plus line, and new transformers, those amps can sound better than ever. This isn’t blowing smoke up the wahzoo – I have always known upgraded transformers can make or break an amp, and Mercury, along with other companies, have led the charge. But so far, the results are stunning (plus, more biz for the ol’ Mickster, too).

O.k. kids, a brief one this time (and golly, less than 10 columns away from Number 100), but hopefully there’s some fun stuff here for you tone addicts, gear geeks, and audiophiles. Until next time…..”Oooh, Cisco!”, “Ooohh, Pancho!”….adios!!!!

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