ray charles released an album in 1962 entitled modern sounds in country and western music, a collection of songs that, at the time, caused something of a stir amongst both ray charles fans and aficionados of country and western music. it seems that nobody wanted ray charles to be singing country songs apart from ray charles. or at least, that's what the music industry wanted us to think; in fact the album was purchased in such numbers that it became the singer's most successful album to date. released in the summer of '62, by autumn, ray charles was back in the studio recording volume two.
some fifty years later, producer larry klein proposed that he and jazz singer madeleine peyroux re-appraise both volumes of modern sounds in country and western music by incorporating several of the original songs, but augmented by others chosen by peyroux. as she herself stated "i have to have my own understanding of this. i can't just have larry's understanding; i have to have my own approach.". klein has his own favoured musicians that feature on a number of his production projects: double-bass player david piltch, drummer jay bellerose, keyboardist larry goldings and in the case of this most recent madeleine peyroux recording, guitarist dean parks.
the album is entitled the blue room.
it's a recording i've had on my ipod since the day it was released, partly because i appreciate peyroux and klein's sometimes unorthodox treatment of the songs, but in truth principally because i very much appreciate the skill and musicianship of those comprising the band. oddly, this is not due to any demonstrable virtuosity on their behalf, but very much for the opposite reason. not one of those mentioned above draws any unnecessary attention to themselves, playing precisely what each song requires and not one note more.
those involved in the making of music at a certain level will know exactly of which i speak, aware of the difficulty involved of playing in such minimal fashion. there is scarcely a drum fill from beginning to end. very impressive.
mrs washingmachinepost has no truck with any style of music that sits on my ipod. therefore, my principal listening auditorium is in our kitchen, with the ipod sat in a small but perfectly formed, sharp electronics dock. despite its diminutive size, it offers what i formerly regarded as reasonable fidelity and volume, though not quite enough to drown out a boiling kettle.
the very nice folks at london's imperial works were kind enough to send over a pair of their latest collaboration with danish hi-fi experts bang and olufsen, prompting my own re-appraisal of one or two albums (buddy rich sounds really, really good), including madeleine peyroux's the blue room. if i cite no criteria other than her recording of bye bye love (originally recorded by the everly brothers in 1957), it provides a salient lesson in just how good these headphones really are. though i have listened to this album on many an occasion, either via the dock in the kitchen, or those white bud earphones that come in an ipod box, not once in the past three years have i ever noticed that jay bellerose plays a shaker throughout the song. jay also plays brushes on this track, and those have always been perfectly audible. but the shaker...
it's possibly worth my mentioning that i don't actually like headphones. i don't like the sound isolation that is promoted as one of their principal benefits and i sure as heck wouldn't walk down the street wearing a pair; i am definitely not too cool for skool, if you catch my drift. however, this particular pair of b+o h6 headphones have definitely given cause for second thoughts.
they are remarkably comfortable to wear on ears and the top of the head. on my other ipod i have several jazz tunes on which it's possible to mute the drums; ideal for learning just how inept i am on the drumset by playing along. they do, however, offer sufficient external aural response that i can still hear my cymbal clatterings over a decent volume from the ipod. i agree that this is hardly a daily occurrence for the intent velocipedinist, but compare it with sitting in the team bus aprés race with all manner of despondent or victorious conversation taking place all around. though madeleine peyroux's might be the very sounds to which you'd like to relax, you'd scarcely want to miss out on heaped praise from one's peer group.
naturally enough, though rapha are keen to develop their brand over a wider range than simply jerseys and bibshorts, they are hardly the world's premier audio specialists. the h6 headphones are available from b+o dealers minus all the rapha detailing, the trade-off being that the black and pink edition costs no more than the standard editions (a rather eye-watering £329). however, the pink headphone cable, which can be plugged into either ear pad, and featuring a remote volume/on-off/track selector button and jersey clip, marks you out as a cyclist. well, amongst our own kind.
each earpad is also coloured pink internally, with a bold 'l' and 'r' to indicate which way round they ought to be worn. the external pad is covered with african sheep leather, the same material as used on rapha's gt gloves. rapha have also had a hand in the strikingly designed packaging, including two pink tabs that ease removal of the fitted inlay, allowing access to the accompanying carry pouch, cable and instruction manual.
whether you are a sufficiently obsessed audiophile to dispense with those white earbuds in favour of a rather expensive pair of quality headphones is a decision that rests between you and your bank manager. however, i am sorely tempted.
saturday 4 july 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................