Charlie Chan: Blog en-us (C) Charlie Chan (Charlie Chan) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:09:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:09:00 GMT Charlie Chan: Blog 89 120 Hi-Fi Review - TRON Antares Headphone Amplifier Antares – “The Chief of all the Stars”


TRON Antares L1004973TRON Antares L1004973TRON Antares


Antares is the fiery red star in the Constellation of Scorpius – a supergiant destined for nirvana as a supernova. She shines brightly in that vast firmament we call space.


Our ears place voices and instruments in space, as they blend to give us the music we enjoy. Whilst loudspeakers recreate that wall of sound, there are times when a more intimate experience is called for. Moments of isolation from the outside world - aural solitude.


Shrinking a wide acoustic vista into a microcosm is the hallmark of a great set of headphones. But exploiting this to its maximum potential requires not only excellent headphone design but also high quality dedicated electronics. In recent years, there has been an explosion in the number of headphone amplifiers, some tiny and portable, some less so.


The TRON Antares is Graham Tricker’s first headphone amplifier design. It has been almost two years in the making. This is no lightweight machine. The Antares is a full size unit and tips the scales at a massive 21 lbs. This is a hand made bespoke item. The attention to detail extends even to the “shipping carton”. It comes in no ordinary cardboard box. Instead it is supplied in a custom flight case, the choice of professional musicians and sound engineers.


Visually, the amplifier is dominated by the thick finned top plate. The TRON logo and cooling vents are CNC machined into aircraft grade aluminium. The top plate acts as a massive heatsink, vital for cooling this pure Class A unit. The appearance reminds me of one of my previous amplifiers, the sweet sounding, but ultimately fragile, 1980s vintage Musical Fidelity A1.


This new headphone amplifier is constructed upside down, with the custom circuit boards mounted directly underneath the top plate. The circuit is solid state single-ended Class A using the smallest number of components & high quality discrete transistors with the shortest signal path. This runs warm, like any true Class A amplifier.


On the front panel, there is a gain control or volume knob, sockets for up to three pairs of headphones (2 x 1/4 inch jacks, 2 x 3 pin XLRs and a 4 pin XLR) and a large on/off button backlit suitably with a red LED. The Antares will drive 2 pairs of headphones at once and can also drive a small pair of bookshelf loudspeakers.


On the back panel, there are two pairs of RCA phono sockets, one pair for source input and one pair for line out. In between the input phonos, there is a small switch to adjust the input level either to 0 dB or to minus 6 dB; this allows fine-tuning to get the best range on the volume control. Next to the IEC power socket, there is a separate audio earth lift switch, just in case you need to isolate a stubborn earth loop.


It comes in two forms, the standard Antares (£3000) reviewed here and the Antares Reference (£5000). The Reference model is distinguished visually by the silver top plate and black fascia and sides, whilst the standard version has a black top plate and sides with a silver front. Internally the Reference uses pure silver wiring throughout with a better 48 position stepped attenuator and even higher specification matched internal components.


I spent a fortnight with the Antares. Initially I wondered how I might best listen to a headphone amplifier with Sennheiser HD800S headphones and a more modest pair of AKG K550. As high quality headphones give you an experience matched only by high end amplifier and loudspeaker systems, I decided to go for the most revealing source available.


No, that does not mean a Hi-Res digital source or even my high end Platine Verdier turntable. This review was done listening to reel to reel tape. My Studer A807/II and Sony APR 5003 studio R2R machines were my chosen hardware. Software came in the form of 15 IPS 2 track ¼ inch tapes; some are original record company distribution masters, some are Tape Project releases and some are safety masters.


TRON Antares L1004970TRON Antares L1004970TRON Antares and Sony APR5003


Both of the R2R machines used for this review have been calibrated and are cleaned & demagnetised regularly. The Studer A807/II cost USD12,500 in 1981 and the Sony APR5003 was the same price in 1988. Allowing for inflation and the fall in the value of Sterling, the Studer would now cost £36,000 new and the Sony over £25,000. The electronics on these professional studio mastering machines still stand up to modern day standards.


For listening purposes, I decided to compare the Antares to the direct output headphone output from the two professional R2R machines.


First up was Miles Davis Kind of Blue. My R2R tape is a safety master from the stereo Columbia CS 8163 1959 release. I play this album regularly, but perhaps not every day like Quincy Jones. I started to listen first on the direct headphone output from the Studer. The sound was easy to listen to – fat, seductive and tonally rich. Paul Chambers’ bass lines drive the music along with James Cobb’s drums. Bill Evans’ exquisite piano lines fill in between Miles’ virtuoso trumpet playing and the two sax lines from Julian Adderly and John Coltrane. Jazz heaven!


Switching to the Sony direct output changed things considerably. It sounded as if a veil had been lifted. In the “Flamenco Sketches” on side 2, it was difficult to separate all the instrumental parts on the Studer. With the Sony, suddenly I could hear the separate parts much more clearly. In addition to the more open sound, there was greater attack and more control with the Sony. The bass notes sounded overhanging and ill defined with the Studer, but the plucked bass was tighter and more dynamic with the APR5003. The Sony has a reputation for being one of the cleanest sounding R2R machines.


Moving from the Sony to the Antares, I heard a greater delicacy with the Antares. James Cobbs’ deft brush work and hi-hats in “Flamenco Sketches” were more easily heard. There was more subtlety and improved microdynamics. Although the illusion of space is different with headphones to loudspeakers, the different instruments were spread out just a bit better with the Antares.


As the Studer headphone output was markedly inferior to the Sony, the rest of the listening compared the Sony to the Antares.


Next up was an original distribution master of the seminal Jesus and Mary Chain Psychocandy album from 1985 (LP version Blanco Y Negro 240790-1). I have seen and photographed the Mary Chain on a number of occasions recently as they celebrated their 30th anniversary. “Just Like Honey” is Jim Reid’s Beach Boys pop song wrapped up in older brother William’s Velvet Underground feedback – just a fabulous song and best turned up loud.


The Jesus and Mary Chain - PsychocandyThe Jesus and Mary Chain - Psychocandy


The direct output from the Sony was very good, as you might expect. Switching to the Antares made it noticeably better. There was more immediacy. The bass line on the introduction was tight, William’s guitar melody was easier to hear and there was more air around Jim’s voice. The feedback wall of sound was multi-layered with the Antares and more homogeneous with the APR5003 direct output.


Billy Joel’s 1980 live album, Songs in the Attic (LP version CBS 85273) was next. I particularly like his early songs before the success of The Stranger. “The Ballad of Billy the Kid” is one of my favourites. After that, a radio distribution tape of Pink Floyd’s “Echoes” went onto the tape deck and then the Tape Project mono release of Sonny Rollins Saxophone Colossus.


Billy Joel-8650387Billy Joel-8650387


Just as before, listening direct to the Sony was truly excellent. Unless you switched to the Antares, you would be very happy with the sound through the HD800s. But the Antares just lifts it to a different level. There is more attack in Billy Joel’s piano (after all the piano is technically a percussion instrument with hammers hitting the strings) and sense of space in the wonderful Pink Floyd track from the album Meddle. 


Fat Old Sun L1026144Fat Old Sun L1026144David Gilmour at the Royal Albert Hall


On Sonny Rollins’ 1956 masterpiece (LP version Prestige LP779), his tenor sax is frighteningly real. Listening to the jazz samba classic, Getz/Gilberto (LP version Verve V6-8545), Stan Getz’s tenor saxophone is noticeably better on the Antares. On direct listening, his sax sounded slightly harsh and glassy, whereas the TRON gave it a fuller, warmer timbre without glare.


Changing musical genres produced the same results. Dame Janet Baker sang Elgar’s Sea Pictures on the 1965 EMI LP (LP version ASD 655) paired with one of Jacqueline Du Pre’s classic Elgar Cello Concerto performances. The direct output from the tape had great presence in this classic recording. The strings sound lush and Dame Janet’s voice is fabulous. Listening to the Antares separated the orchestra out, so that each of the sections could be heard separately with just a bit more air. Dame Janet’s singing stood out instead of being instead of being just part of a big broad sound. Lots of little things just made listening to the Antares noticeably better.


The Antares added directness and extra vitality to the music, even though the direct output sounded excellent. There was a subtle veil of mush from the direct output, which was imperceptible until using the separate headphone amplifier. There was an immediacy, just like live music.


The TRON Antares allowed me to hear new layers of music, which were submerged in the direct output. There was a greater sense of space, which made me want to carry on listening. I didn’t want to stop and often carried on late after midnight. Listening to the Antares was addictive and there is no better compliment than that.


The onboard electronics on the Sony APR5003 are very special. Personally I prefer the sound of the Sony to the stalwart Studer A80. The Studer A807/II is also very good, but you would not appreciate how much better the Sony is, until you make a direct comparison.


Reviewers always say that the very best transducers (headphones and loudspeakers) can be utterly revealing of poor quality recordings, source equipment and amplifiers. Using 15 IPS ¼ inch tape is the best source material, short of acquiring the original 30 IPS ½ inch stereo mix down master. Comparing a studio R2R to vinyl or digital replay is a real eye opener. Every audio enthusiast should hear high quality tape once.


So, is this something for you? Well, if you are serious about headphones and you have a high quality system, do audition it. £3000 for a headphone amplifier is a significant amount of money, but less than the cost of a top class amplifier and pair of loudspeakers. The Antares raises the level of headphone listening to a new level.


This is a unit for the head-fi addict, who is happy to indulge for hours in the quest for musical happiness. The build quality is exquisite. The sound quality of the TRON is palpably better than even the top class onboard electronics of the Sony studio tape deck.


As the Maoris say, Antares is the Chief of All the Stars. If you want to touch headphone stardom, just reach out and grasp it. You’ll like it, as it will make your music twinkle.



Power output: - 2.6w + 2.6w into 8 ohms load (Class A).

Power output: - 0.85w + 0.85w into 25 ohms load (Class A).

Power output: - 0.65w + 0.65w into 32 ohms load (Class A).

Frequency response: - 20Hz - 20kHz +/- 0.5dB.

Input impedance: - 12K ohms (0dB), 20K ohms (-6dB)

Output impedance: - < 2.6 Ohms.

Input connections: - 1 x line input (via RCAs).

Output connections front: - 2 x ¼” jacks, 2 x 3 pin XLRs (L + R), 1 x 4 pin XLR.

Output connections rear: - 1 x line output (via RCAs).

Size: - 40cm (w) x 25cm (d) x 10.5cm (h)

Weight: - 9.5kgs (21 lbs)

Mains supply: - 115-230 Volts AC.

Power Consumption: - 120VA.


Other equipment used for this review

Sennheiser HD800s headphones

AKG K550 headphones

Studer A807/II ¼ inch 2 track Reel to Reel tape deck

Sony APR5003 ¼ inch 2 track Reel to Reel tape deck

]]> (Charlie Chan) Amplifier Antares Headphone Hi-Fi Recorder Reel to Reel Review TRON Tape Tue, 11 Oct 2016 19:45:32 GMT
Cracking Sunday with the Happy Mondays Wind and rain - it felt just like Manchester. But with Bez dancing at the front, everyone lit up at Sportbeat Festival on sunday night. Madchester had just come to Gloucester. The place went electric as Bez, Shaun Ryder and Rowetta came on stage, as they reeled off hit after hit from their great albums, Bummed and Piils'n'Thrills and Bellyaches. Wind back almost 30 years and you could be with the 24 Hour Party People.


Happy Mondays @ Sportbeat 2016Happy Mondays @ Sportbeat 2016Happy Mondays @ Sportbeat 2016


Back together again with Paul Ryder, Gary Whelan and Mark Day, this was classic Mondays. The band was tight, Rowetta's vocals soaring, Bez was manic and Shaun was well, just himself. You can see why playing this great music was much more preferable to signing on at the dole queue in the 1980s. Some of the audience weren't even born, when the Mondays were here first time round - including the promoter's daughters. The crowd were dancing all night to Kinky Afro, Dennis and Lois. Finishing with Step On, the sunday night crowd would certainly look forward to another Happy Monday.


Happy Mondays @ Sportbeat 2016Happy Mondays @ Sportbeat 2016Happy Mondays @ Sportbeat 2016

]]> (Charlie Chan) Alternative Bez Festival Gloucester Happy Mondays Indie Madchester Manchester Music Paul Ryder Rock Roweta Shaun Ryder Sportbeat Tue, 23 Aug 2016 13:15:03 GMT
The Who's Secret Weapon launched at The Half Moon... Simon Townshend @ The Half MoonSimon Townshend @ The Half MoonSimon Townshend @ The Half Moon

STIR Records launched at The Half Moon in Putney, the launchpad for the Rolling Stones, The Who, John Mayall and Kate Bush. Out of the shadow of The Who comes Simon Townshend, playing his own songs with a new band - Tony Lowe (lead guitar), Phil Spaulding (bass) and Mark Brzezicki (drums). A big change from his own "One Man and a Guitar" acoustic shows, which he has performed in between The Who concerts with his big brother, Pete, and Roger Daltrey.

With only one days rehearsal time and a packed house, he and his band rocked. With that little time together, you could forgive the one or two aborted intros, but when it got going, it got hot. Wonderfully crafted songs, ranging from the tender to the visceral - from "Forever and a Day" to "Mother", "Looking Out Looking In", "Bed of Roses" and many more . Powerful vocals and great stage presence, hewn from years of touring with one of the greatest rock bands around. The audience were wowed from the first song, including the brunette at the front of the stage. Simon said that he "was going to give her a cuddle" at the end.

Simon Townshend @ The Half MoonSimon Townshend @ The Half MoonSimon Townshend @ The Half Moon

He's off now to the USA to join The Who on the rest of their WHO Hits 50 Tour. In between, he has a number of intimate acoustic gigs. He'll be back and you'll want to see him!

Simon Townshend @ The Half MoonSimon Townshend @ The Half MoonSimon Townshend @ The Half Moon

For more pictures, please view my gallery

]]> (Charlie Chan) Guitarist Music Rock Simon Townshend Singer Songwriter The Who Sun, 31 Jan 2016 21:07:45 GMT
"I'm just parachuting back to life...." Wilko Johnson Emmanuel Huguet & Charlie ChanWilko Johnson Emmanuel Huguet & Charlie ChanAt the Cheltenham Science Festival


..said Wilko Johnson at the Cheltenham Science Festival yesterday. Recounting his extraordinary story with Emmanuel Huguet and Charlie Chan, he spoke about the incredible year following his diagnosis of terminal pancreatic cancer. A Farewell Tour, a visit to Japan and a swan song album with the WHO's Roger Daltrey. At a farewell concert in Kyoto, he glanced back at the hordes of japanese fans in tears. His first thought was not of his impending mortality, but how that was an amazing showbiz moment. His stance of ignoring his fatal illness brought him accolades, turning him from a bad boy of rock n'roll into a national treasure.


During that year of 2013, he felt so alive. Commenting on how most people think of their mortality in the indefinite future, he was staring death right in his face. When asked about his spirituality, he confirmed that he was a staunch atheist. As he said appropriately at a Science Festival, the Big Bang occurred 10 billion years ago. Then in 1947, along popped up this insignificant speck in the Cosmos. He laughingly mentioned that, as he had been already dead for 10 billion years before his birth, he knew exactly how death would be in the near future.


Yet now, he was not facing imminent mortality. After the amazing turnaround in fortune and a 10 hour operation by Cambridge surgeon, Emmanuel Huguet, he now found himself alive and still kickin'. Lying in his hospital bed with tubes out of almost every orifice, he found that death had been snatched away from him. After many months away from his guitar, he never thought that he would play on a stage again. But now, his memory of the wonderful year of 2013 is becoming a distant dream. Adjusting to life after imminent death, he feels as if he is parachuting back to life.

]]> (Charlie Chan) Addenbrooke's Cambridge Charlie Chan Cheltenham Science Festival Dr Feelgood Emmanuel Huguet Wilko Johnson cancer pancreatic surgeon Mon, 08 Jun 2015 21:43:41 GMT
2 Tone Madness Madness - Grandslam TourMadness - Grandslam Tour


Madness in 2 Tone Black and White - that's how they were in the late 70s and early 80s, when I grew up. One Step Beyond and back to a time when the fans were either skinheads or came in sharp suits, trilby hats and fezzes. There was simmering unrest back then with high unemployment and the impending Miners Strike. Life was different then and so was the music - Punk, New Wave, Disco or the Ska revival were your choices then. No X Factor manufactured drivel. Nearly 40 years on, the Madness boat goes cruising on.


So here were the men from the House of Fun, sadly minus Chas Smash moving his feet to the rock steady beat - six out of the original seven. The Camden Nutty Boys still looking sharp in their immaculate suits, hats and shades, albeit with different hairlines.  Soaking it all up - a party atmosphere with 11,000 people at the home of Gloucester Rugby, dressed in 2 Tone and festooned with cheap hats and fezzes. The merchandisers thought Christmas had come early.


Madness - Grandslam TourMadness - Grandslam Tour


Driven on my Lee Thompson's honking sax, the crowd started skanking all night long, as the band went through songs old and new. All the old favourites were on show from Night Boat to Cairo, Baggy Trousers, Our House & Madness. Suggs, Mike Barson and the boys put on a great show, a true nostalgia trip. Thousands of people with fez hats (also the headwear of the Saracens Rugby fans) dancing on the turf of Gloucester Rugby - ironic perhaps, given Saracen's victory at the Twickenham showpiece final only a few hours earlier. 


The summer of 1977 was a scorcher. Suggs joined the band in that year. Hopefully this summer will be heatwave too, so that you can enjoy that infectious beat that is Madness at one of the other 16 gigs on the tour.


For more pics, look here




]]> (Charlie Chan) Sun, 31 May 2015 09:54:37 GMT
Hi- Fi review - TRON Convergence Phono Stage TRON Convergence Phono Stage


Atom - the smallest unit of any chemical element, consisting of a positive nucleus surrounded by negative electrons.


Hi Fi with new TRON Convergence-1005710Hi Fi with new TRON Convergence-1005710


This new phono stage from TRON is one Mighty Atom. A new circuit from designer, Graham Tricker, with an ultra short signal pathway to rival masters of electronic solid state miniaturization, such as Devialet.


In his new design, every component in the signal pathway (even the RCA sockets) is mounted directly onto one custom board. Short signal pathways help reduce circuit noise and may help in creating a more dynamic sound. The circuit is based around two low noise 12AX7 double triodes with a single 12AU7/5814 driver valve. An earth lift switch is located inside on the board, to help those systems with potential earth loop problems. High quality film capacitors, resistors and SUTs (MC Option) are neatly placed with TRON’s usual impeccable build quality.


The power supply is mounted in the same chassis, separated from the signal boards by a metal shield. No nasty wall wart for this high-end unit at a budget price. The rear plate holds two pairs of high quality gold plated phono sockets, a milled tonearm earth post and a standard IEC power socket. The unit is dual voltage and rated at 240V 50Hz and 120V 60Hz.


Everything is encased in a smart black and silver case with aluminum top and bottom plates. The case looks every bit as well made as the top of the range Syren II with security torx screws in countersunk holes. It smacks of real attention to detail.


If you are used to the normal TRON full width chassis, then you will be pleasantly surprised at the compact size. It is 170mm wide x 100mm high x 335mm deep – i.e. about a third of the width of the normal TRON Syren II and Seven units. But even though it’s compact, this is no lightweight – it weighs 3.2kgs, thanks to the high quality power supply transformer and beautiful casework.


That’s the boring bit over, now for the listening. I plugged in my Allaerts MC1B moving coil into the back of the TRON Convergence. The MC1B is mounted on my Schröder Model 2 tonearm, which resides on my Platine Verdier turntable, powered by a GT Audio Battery PSU.


Hi Fi with new TRON Convergence-1005714Hi Fi with new TRON Convergence-1005714


The TRON Convergence was fed into a line socket on my 10 year-old TRON Meteor pre-amp, which also has its own on board MC phono input board for comparison. Power amplification comes from the 6W/Ch TRON Voyager SET, using a pair of EML 20B Triodes. The loud bits come from my Avantgarde DUO horns with the 225 Subs. Cabling is PHY-HP. The watts were supplied by a Power Inspired AG1500 mains regenerator.


First up, Gregory Porter’s “Be Good” LP (Motema 233796). I played this one first, as I know Gregory and his voice very well. We meet every year at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, where he was first championed by Jamie Cullum. We chat about music, cameras and his family. I have heard him live on many occasions in large venues and in small intimate private parties.


Gregory Porter @ Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2014 L1011879Gregory Porter @ Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2014 L1011879


This LP is well recorded. More often than not, I listen to this with the other tonearm/cartridge on my Platine Verdier – a Decca FFSS MkIV C4E and Hadcock 228. At home, my Decca is fed into a one year-old bespoke TRON Seven Reference MM phono stage built specially to match my Decca.


The Decca has such dynamism, which is apparent when listening to the percussion, played by Emanuel Harrold, and the piano, courtesy of Chip Crawford. Convincing piano and percussion are probably the two most difficult instruments to emulate on any audio system. We have a Steinway Model B piano at home along with a vast array of percussion, courtesy of my wife, Sue, and my daughter.


Using the 10 year-old onboard MC phono stage of my TRON Meteor, the Allaerts MC has always lagged slightly behind the Decca/TRON Seven Reference in its ability to deliver convincing rimshots, cymbals and piano. But with the new TRON Convergence, the Allaerts MC1B suddenly comes to life. There is a real sense of verve to the music. The TRON Convergence has suddenly “Decca-rised” the Allaerts into a thing with real zing, without the harshness, which some say is a trait of Deccas. OK, the Allaerts/TRON Convergence isn’t quite as dynamic as the Decca/TRON Seven Reference, but the TRON Convergence is a big step up from the 10 year-old design of the onboard MC phono stage of the TRON Meteor.


Allied to this new vitality is real width and depth to the soundstage, which the Allaerts MC cartridges are famed for. There is a delicacy to the vocals, and a tonal richness, which improved on the presentation fed through the older onboard phono section of the TRON Meteor. All of this is set against a completely silent background. There is no hiss or circuit noise, even with the volume turned up – an amazing feat when you realise that the Avantgarde Duo horns reveal any noise with their 104 dB/W sensitivity.


Up next was Wilko Johnson’s collaboration with Roger Daltrey – Going Back Home – his award winning swansong album, reviving the famous Chess label (CRL2014). This album has real drive, spontaneity all through the tracks. Recorded in only 8 days, it is the antithesis to a Brian Wilson album, genius that the Beach Boys guru is. It is Roger Daltrey’s best album since the heyday of the Who.


Wilko Johnson & Roger DaltreyWilko Johnson & Roger Daltrey


With the TRON Convergence, you can hear Norman Watt-Roy’s funky bass lines driving the beat and Steve “West” Weston’s blues harmonica playing sounds right there in front of you. To top it all, Wilko’s choppy Telecaster and Roger’s vocals sound just as they should.


Finally, I put on Stephen Bishop-Kovacevich’s 1971 performance of the Greig Piano Concerto in A Minor, Opus 16 (Philips 412 923-1 with Sir Colin Davis conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra). This is a beautifully recorded LP and worthy winner of a Rosette in the Penguin Classical Music Guide 30 years ago. The strings sound lush in the great Adagio, particularly the cellos. Set against this is SBK’s wonderful dramatic piano interpretation. With the TRON Convergence, the piano sounds convincing, more so than with the onboard TRON Meteor phono stage. OK, the piano was not as convincing as with the Decca C4E playing through the much more expensive TRON Seven Reference phono stage, but few cartridges reproduce piano as well as a Decca.


I only had a few hours with the new TRON Convergence. But, boy is it good! You would think that not much has changed in phono pre-amplifier design in ten years. Well maybe, for many, it hasn’t. But the TRON Convergence was palpably better than the ten year-old design on my TRON Meteor pre-amp. So what, you may say. But the TRON Meteor was a £7k item ten years ago, with the phono stage accounting for at least £3k of its new value.


It isn’t quite as good as my newer £4.5k TRON Seven Reference, missing a little delicacy and air between the instruments. The dynamics are almost, but not quite as good on the TRON Convergence as its more expensive brother. But at only £1000 for the MC version and £900 for the MM, the TRON Convergence is a steal. Unless your system is ruthlessly revealing, you might not notice the difference between the £1k TRON Convergence and the £4.5k TRON Seven Reference.


Hi Fi with new TRON Convergence-1005726Hi Fi with new TRON Convergence-1005726


So there you have it. The TRON Convergence is like an Ariel Atom – small, stripped out, lean, bare, visceral. That’s what music is meant to do to you – make you feel raw with the emotion. Just like the Ariel Atom, the TRON Convergence gives you stellar performance at a surprisingly small and affordable price. Take a TRON Convergence for test drive in your system, and I promise you will be grinning from ear to ear!



]]> (Charlie Chan) Hi-Fi LP Phono Records Replay Turntable Vinyl Sat, 04 Apr 2015 10:12:34 GMT
"It feels like the last 12 months haven't happened. It feels just like normal..." Wilko Johnson - Still Kickin'Wilko Johnson - Still Kickin'


..said Wilko Johnson last night, when we spoke backstage. He was back in Cambridge at the Junction to perform his comeback gig, in aid of Addenbrooke's Hospital. It felt just like old times, he said, as he was about to step out to play with his old friends, Norman Watt Roy and Dylan Howe.


Guest of honour was Emmanuel Huguet, the surgeon, who saved his life with a 10 hour operation 10 months ago. 850 lucky people packed the sold out venue for the gig. In support were Eight Rounds Rapid, who were there 2 years ago, when they started his farewell tour. His son, Simon, the lead guitarist for Eight Rounds Rapid, must have felt that he might never open for his father again. There was happiness for Wilko's redemption, gratitude from the great man himself and respect for everyone, who looked after him last year.


A classic Wilko set list greeted the fans, who came from all over the world. All the songs you would want to hear from Roxette. The more I give, Johnny Be Good and more. Wilko no longer needed to rock his vintage Telecaster over his 3 kg tumour, as he played. This was the real thing, the chattering red and black guitar firing staccato machine gun riffs over Norm's relentless funky bass line. The staring, glaring eyes were there. This was a performance with real attitude - the sort that laughs in the face of death.


So if you're coming to his Still Kickin' tour, I have a Sneakin' Suspicion that you'll come out with a beaming smile. This a real Good News Story and I am very happy.


For more pics, please look here


Wilko Johnson - Still Kickin'Wilko Johnson - Still Kickin'



]]> (Charlie Chan) Sat, 07 Mar 2015 19:53:01 GMT
If you like your music raw, bleeding raw.... The Jesus and Mary Chain - PsychocandyThe Jesus and Mary Chain - Psychocandy


... then your heroes have been resurrected. The Jesus and Mary Chain are back! A huge wall of distorted noise from William Reid's guitar drowning out brother Jim's vocals set against a sea of psychedelic bright lights with images of poverty in 1980s Britain. Forget the Gallagher brothers - the Reid brothers invented raw, angry music ten years earlier.

The brothers from Glasgow have returned to packed audiences. But there are no riots now when they play. Perhaps Britain has mellowed in the 30 years since their ground breaking LP, Psychocandy. We may have got older, but the Jesus and Mary Chain is still here - fresh, edgy, visceral. If you have just missed them, they'll be back. The USA beckons now before they return to the UK. Maybe now they will get the recognition they truly deserve.


The Jesus and Mary Chain - PsychocandyThe Jesus and Mary Chain - Psychocandy


]]> (Charlie Chan) Alternative Indie Jesus and Mary Chain Jim Reid Music Psychocandy Rock William Reid Sat, 28 Feb 2015 20:58:18 GMT
Cloudscapes White clouds bob-bobbing atop the sea waves, like cloudbergs in the sky. Such beauty at 10,000 feet, unknown to mankind a century ago. How we take this for granted, as we now travel routinely by air. Today I was journeying back from the Isle of Man across the Irish Sea - a short visit to a seriously ill family member. As I looked out of my window, I saw the radiance of the sun glancing off the fluffy white peaks. Perhaps this is Elysium, as the Ancient Romans would say. Cloudscape II - L1016499Cloudscape II - L1016499

]]> (Charlie Chan) Sun, 01 Feb 2015 21:57:40 GMT
WHO Hits 50! The WHO Hits 50 @ Birmingham NIA L1004635The WHO Hits 50 @ Birmingham NIA L1004635


That's me, I'm 50!

Enjoying a different anniversary are two slightly older guys, aged 70 and 69. Roger Daltrey & Pete Townsend partnered in soul by Keith Moon and John Entwhistle. Haunting to see footage and the voices of Keith and John entwined seamlessly into the music and show. Maybe a bit like one of Keith's famous trips!

For everyone there in Birmingham last week, this was a real trip - back to when Britain was Great - with Union Jacks, RAF Roundels, Routemaster buses and 60s backdrops - MOD heaven. You just needed some Vespas and Lambrettas on stage, a Parka jacket and a girl in a Biba dress. The Place was really swinging.

As Pete said, he wondered how they ever made the sound with only 4 guys in the Band. Well, they're still going and it's bloody good. See them here in the UK or go to the USA in the Spring. Sell a kidney or whatever it takes (sorry if that's a bit unethical) to get a ticket. You only live once.


The WHO Hits 50 @ Birmingham NIA L1004695The WHO Hits 50 @ Birmingham NIA L1004695

]]> (Charlie Chan) Sun, 14 Dec 2014 22:09:26 GMT
"Goddess of Soul" sings Songs of Praise Dona Oxford at the Half MoonDona Oxford at the Half MoonDona Oxford at the Half Moon

Daughter of an Episcopal Priest, Dona Oxford, is the self proclaimed "Goddess of Soul". A New Yorker by birth, she is fast becoming America's Queen of Boogie-Woogie. No longer satisfied with playing with the likes of Keith Richards and Buddy Guy, she has been touring with her own 6 piece band in the UK.


Whilst playing in Manchester, she was interviewed for the BBC's Songs of Praise on Sunday 23rd November. Talking about her Christian upbringing and how her faith channels energy into her playing and songwriting. Her Father, who died when she was only 15 months old, would have been very proud. She will return to the UK in the New Year. Watch out!


Dona Oxford at the Half MoonDona Oxford at the Half MoonDona Oxford at the Half Moon

]]> (Charlie Chan) Boogie Woogie Dona Oxford Goddess of Soul Music Piano Singer Songwriter Soul Mon, 24 Nov 2014 00:17:30 GMT
The Second Coming.. The Jesus and Mary Chain @ The TroskyThe Jesus and Mary Chain @ The TroskyThe Jesus and Mary Chain @ The Trosky

The Jesus and Mary Chain are back! Ear-splitting, intense, uncompromising. Psychocandy in all its glory.  Brothers Jim and William Reid delivered in spades. Reunited with their original manager, Alan McGee, who took charge of the sound desk, to create the wall of sound again.


The Trosky was a perfect stage. An Art Deco oasis amidst the seediness of Tower Hamlets - the perfect reflection of the mismatch of grandeur amongst social deprivation and poverty. No riot in the packed house last night, but there's another date on Monday!


The Jesus and Mary Chain @ The TroskyThe Jesus and Mary Chain @ The TroskyThe Jesus and Mary Chain @ The Trosky

]]> (Charlie Chan) Alan McGee Indie Jim Reid Music Psychocandy Rock The Jesus and Mary Chain William Reid Thu, 20 Nov 2014 21:23:36 GMT
Wilko is back! Wilko is back!Wilko is back!Wilko Johnson is back - Shepherds Bush Empire


Thanks to my great friend, Emmanuel Huguet at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge. Wilko Johnson has been pulled back from the abyss. 9 hours of surgery and several weeks in hospital. At last, Wilko was back on stage, helping to celebrate the WHO's 50th Anniversary at a special fund raising concert for Teenage Cancer Trust on Armistice Day.


Like all the other musicians, who have given their services for free, Wilko played just one song with the great young R&B band, The Strypes. After the show, Wilko was glad to show off Emmanuel's handiwork. It has been an unbelievable journey for him over the last 18 months.  Thank you especially to all who supported him, particularly his family, former manager, Lisa Climie, Roger Daltrey, his fellow band mates, Norman Watt-Roy & Dylan Howe and his best friends, Mike Fawcett and Yuriko Daikoku. You'll see far more of him soon, according to Alan McGee, his new manager. Watch this space!

]]> (Charlie Chan) Blockheads Cancer Dr Feelgood Music Operation Pancreatic The WHO Wilko Johnson Sat, 15 Nov 2014 13:50:30 GMT
Do doctors in the real world offer innovative treatments? Lord Saatchi @ Cheltenham Science FestivalLord Saatchi @ Cheltenham Science Festival


Yesterday 100 senior doctors sent an open letter to the Times (13th November 2014), saying "that they neither want nor need" the Medical Innovation Bill, sponsored by Lord Saatchi. They argue that medical innovation is not hindered by the threat of medical litigation, and that innovation is best carried out within the discipline of clinical trials. These specialists said that “The current law already allows us to use off label drugs and to try new treatments when they are in patients’ best interests.”


Last night, as President of the Gloucestershire Division of the BMA, I hosted Lord Saatchi at a meeting  of GPs and Consultants from Gloucestershire and Worcestershire, who work in the real world, not in Ivory Towers. There was a healthy debate, both with doctors who support the Bill, and those who don't. The audience commented on the constant fear of medical litigation, and how that sits uneasily on doctors' shoulders every day.


Some suggested that the new Bill would encourage irresponsible innovation, which might produce only "anecdotal evidence". But Lord Saatchi has already addressed this by negotiating a new database for every patient having an innovative treatment, hosted by the Clinical Trials Unit at the University of Oxford. Every "anecdote" becomes a learning experience for the whole of mankind, so that results from innovative treatments can be collated and reviewed quickly. Promising new treatments can be rapidly highlighted for inclusion into new clinical trials. This is particularly important for rare conditions.


In between Lord Saatchi's speech and the questions, I posed this to my medical colleagues -


How many of the doctors in the audience have offered and given a patient a truly novel treatment option (as opposed to a clinical trial or a drug commonly given off licence) in the last 10 years ?


87% voted to say that they had not given an innovative treatment to a single patient in the last 10 years, with only 13% saying that they had. That is the reality.

]]> (Charlie Chan) Cancer Disease Innovation Lord Saatchi Medical Innovation Bill Medicine Novel Treatments Fri, 14 Nov 2014 11:30:43 GMT
Notes from an ex-Chorister Parent After three wonderful years, our youngest son, Eddie, has now left the Choir at Gloucester Cathedral. It has been a huge privilege to be with him and the other choristers under the watchful eye of Adrian Partington, the Director of Music. Choral Evensong is a wonderful English tradition - probably the most beautiful of all church services.

Sue and I have been Eddie's Roadies for the last three years. Being a chorister, singing at least 6 days out of 7, is just like being a professional musician. 1000 different pieces of music sung each year in Gloucester. That's why Gloucester has one of the very best Cathedral Choirs in Britain. Very few other choirs have their boys singing with such regularity.

So now, we are all looking forward to a short break before he returns to the Cathedral Youth Choir with his new manly voice.

Gloucester Cathedral ChoirGloucester Cathedral Choir

]]> (Charlie Chan) Cathedral Choir Chorister Gloucester Music Mon, 27 Oct 2014 00:10:54 GMT
Wilko Johnson 'cured of cancer' I am so pleased that my friend, Wilko Johnson, the guitarist form Dr Feelgood, is now free from his pancreatic tumour. He has been an inspiration to many cancer sufferers across the world, with his indomitable spirit. He has just collected his award from Q magazine for the "Icon of the Year". Like many of his fans, I am just looking forward to the day, when he picks up his Telecaster for his fans across the world.

Wilko Johnson @ Koko 13.10.2013Wilko Johnson @ Koko 13.10.2013



]]> (Charlie Chan) Dr Feelgood Guitarist Music Pub R&B Rock Wilko Johnson Wed, 22 Oct 2014 23:20:40 GMT
The war to end all wars Lest we forget...

The war to end wars - futile to its bitter end. Millions sacrificed in a war, started by the assassination of an unknown Prince in Sarajevo, the scene of further bloodshed many years later. In four long years, the flower of young men was cut down on barbed wire, in shell holes and trenches - a hell like no other.

Gloucester Cathedral WW1 Commemoration ServiceGloucester Cathedral WW1 Commemoration ServiceGloucester Cathedral WW1 Commemoration Service

So, 100 years later, we remember. They may be gone, but their memory lives on. Our freedom is their legacy to us. In our little way, we honour those who fell, and those whose lives were changed forever by an horrific war.

In Gloucester Cathedral today, the names of every fallen soldier were presented by people from their own Parishes. There is no central register of the Fallen in the Great War from Gloucestershire. So, each Parish collected the names of the Fallen from their own War Memorials. A sheet of closely typed names of every man, who gave the ultimate sacrifice from this part of a Green and Pleasant Land. In the morning, their names will be read out one by one.

We will remember them.

Gloucester Cathedral WW1 Commemoration ServiceGloucester Cathedral WW1 Commemoration ServiceGloucester Cathedral WW1 Commemoration Service

]]> (Charlie Chan) Centenary Gloucester Cathedral Great War Remembrance World War One Sun, 03 Aug 2014 23:13:19 GMT