Thursday, May 21, 2009

Technics vs. Rega, Round 15

Now that i've been getting into vinyl again, it seems that in audiophile circles the "Frazier vs. Ali" fight of the century is the Technics Sl-1200 Mk. 2 against the Rega P3. Both are turntables and they are at opposite sides of the spectrum with regards to engineering, cult following, and audiophile acceptance. Belt drive versus direct. Straight tonearm vs. S-shaped. And on and on. If you happen to read any of the columns of the "Vinyl Anachronist", this Mark Philips dude, you realize that this is quite a heated debate, and it seems that if you are a "true" audiophile you will hate the Technics and love the Rega. Now, audiophiles are not the most scientific bunch. Mark Philips has offered to have a 'sound-off" between the two tables however won't agree to a blind test. Which scientifically invalidates the whole exercise. If he is pre-disposed to hate the Technics, he will. And sure enough, he does. But he's probably one of those dudes who can hear the difference using a green magic marker on the edge of a CD. It seems that the more scientific audiophile, the ones who are into specs and measurements, like the Technics. Specs don't lie. For the most part, I happen to agree more with the latter group. It has gotten to the point that I bet some guys are "afraid" to admit they like the Technics when in the presence of the audio elite who feel that direct drive tables are as good as dog shit.

Now, I happen to OWN both of thest turntables. Which makes it easy for me to make an objective comparison. And i'm not one of those brand loyal audiophiles.
Here's the deal. The Technics is a better built, more refined table. It weighs a ton and is acoustically dead. The Rega is a piece of MDF that a motor is attached to. Pretty sparse. The Rega tonearm is supposedly a "classic" and does indeed seem well engineered. Then again, so does the Technics arm, and it has adjustable VTA, too. So on mere quality of materials and build aesthetics, the Technics wins.

But it's the sound, you say. Which one SOUNDS better?? And the answer is....Fuck if I know!!! I've listened to loud rock and roll for 30 years and my ears are essentially FRIED. I have a different cartridge in each, so right there is a huge variable. Both tables sound good to me. The Rega has the edge most likely due to the top of the line Shure V15 cartridge in there. But I sure do prefer the build quality of the Technics, the damn thing is like a tank.

So what is the verdict of all this hoopla?? Get whatever table you want. It's your money. Just spin the black circle, baby.

I will admit that the table I am using, however, is the Rega. I'm just too scared that a real audiophile will make fun of me if I use the Technics.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Frozen Pizza Blues

Let's face it, a big staple of my diet is frozen pizza. Fresh pizza is the other main staple. But in a pinch, it's nice to just pop in a few slices in the toaster oven and enjoy a snack.

Now what bothers me is the frozen pizza's of today are just NOT AS GOOD as the ones from 20, 30 years ago. Why is that??

There were 3 frozen pizzas that I used to get in the 70's and 80's.....ELLIOS, BUITONI, and ROMAN. Of course you can still buy Ellios, but as everyone knows, another company bought the name and the pizza AINT THE SAME. Just the box is. Buitoni used to be my favorite. It was a square pie and the sauce and cheese were awesome. The Roman pizza was round, single serving size but they were damn good. All of them were good.

Now, i've done some research. It seems that the original Ellios formula can now be found in BETZIOS pizza. Look it up. Now BETZIOS is hard to find, however, we are in luck, as the company makes a load of "store brand" pizzas that are the same thing. Lo and behold, the "ACME" frozen pizza is actually Betzios, which is actually the original Ellios. Got it??

I found some Betzios and tried it. It's close to the original Ellios, but not quite the same. But as close as you'll get. Way closer to the original Ellios than the current Ellios.

Why McCain changed the Ellios formula is a mystery to me. That's like new Coke or something.

Now, as Buitoni and Roman are mere tasty memories, what is around now to take their place??

We have Stouffers French Bread Pizza, not bad. It seems like the cheeze never melts on these things (the cheeze gets dehydrated, or "freezer burnt" too fast).
You have Tombstone, Tonys, Celeste, DiGiorno, Freschetta, and Red Baron. I've tried them all. The Red Baron Deep Dish are not bad. Tonys you can get at WalMart for a buck. Freschetta and DiGiorno are too expensive, hell, for $7 i'll get a goddam fresh pie!!

None of them are as good as Buitoni and Roman used to be. Why is that??

I guess i'll be heading to Acme to get some REAL Ellios pizza. Acme Brand.

Jim Dandy to the Rescue!!!

One of my favorite live albums of long ago, and it still ranks right up there, is Black Oak Arkansas' "Raunch and Roll Live". You knew it had to be good just from the picture of Jim Dandy on the back cover. Wanna know where David Lee Roth got his ideas?? Look no further. Hey, he even admits it. The highlight of the Black Oak live show was when Jim Dandy got out his scrubboard and they smashed the guitars right after Brother Tommy Aldridge's drum solo in the song "Up". Yeah, they rocked.

Now I see, as part of Rhino Records hugely over-priced "Rhino homemade" series, a double "Raunch and Roll" containing two entire shows, songs from each making up the original album. So you get other cuts like "Uncle Elijah" that didn't make the first cut, you get the entire original version of "Raunch and ROll", and you get alternate versions of the same songs. Now my friends, is it worth it?? Don't ask me, I haven't bought it. Too pricey for me. But i'd really like to hear it.

Another over-priced goodie on the Rhino "homemade" thing is the Cactus "Fully Unleashed: live gigs vol. 2". Now, I actually popped for the Volume 1 of this and I must say it was worth it. Primo smoking boogie with the original line-up of Rusty Day on vox, Jim McCarty (Ted Nugents #1 influence!!) on axe, Bogart and Appice. This one is one whole concert in it's entirety with all the big hits like Token Choken, Oleo, and Evil.
And i'm really, really itching to pop for Vol. 2 however, jesus, there's no way i'm paying $50 for this.

I have picked up some other stuff like:

Chicago at Carnegie Hall: Don't laugh. Terry Kath-era Chicago rocked!! Listen to the 15 minute guitar jams on this one and you'd think it was the Allman Bros. with a horn section!!

Leaf Hound-Unleashed. Now this was a bit of a disappointment. Expecting Zep-like blues boogie, I was a bit let down to hear Bad Company sounding mid tempo hard rock. Not bad, but not good. Features ex-Cactus vocalist Peter French.