Sweet Soul: Ken Parker - True True True

Sometimes referred to as the 'Jamaican Sam Cooke', Ken Parker was born around 1948 (there is some confusion as to his birth year) and grew up in Savannah-La-Mar in the Westmoreland Parrish area of Jamaica, where his father was a preacher. Parker was exposed early to the effects of gospel music, and he drew on gospel inflections in his vocals throughout his whole career. Working with some of the biggest producers of the time including the legendary Clement Coxone Dodd, this track entitled 'True True True' is taken from his 1974 LP 'Jimmy Brown' released on Trojan Records. One of my favourite reggae artists of all time, an incredible soulful reggae talent. For a good retrospective of some of Ken Parker's best, pick up a copy of 'Ken Parker - The Best Of - Groovin' In Style (1967 - 1973)' (Amazon Link Below)

Ken Parker - The Best of Groovin' in Style (1967-1973) - Amazon

Hangover Cure: Dioralyte

Although I am not a fan medication and this is certainly not new or ground breaking, Dioralyte is definitely one of the most useful and reliable solutions to the age old problem of the hang over I have ever come across. Before you start rubbing cod liver oil on your ears or jumping in an icy cold bath I would definitely suggest trying this stuff out. As the name suggests it is actually a treatment for Diarrhoea, and works by replacing lost water and body salts, effectively also providing a solution to the cause of a hangover. After a big night out, one sachet dissolved in water before bed and one in the morning if necessary and you will be feeling fresh as a daisy. Available at most chemists/pharmacies in the UK, also available internationally. Click the link below for an interesting article in the Daily Mail which gives more details about Dioralyte and other recommended hangover cures.

DailyMail - What Your GP Takes For A Hangover

Sneak Peek: Supra Perf

While Supra have have made a habit of veering towards the more controversial colour palettes, starting off with the infamous Gold Muska Sky Tops some of their latest colourways have a slightly more subtle edge to them. A tidy white perforated upper will feature on 4 of their most popular models from the upcoming Spring '09 collection. First up, the Vaider Tufs (shown above) get the treatment in a stylish check perf pattern. They also feature a sliding metal supra logo on the tongue and matching metal accents. Click the link for more pics and info.

The Cuban's also follow suit, this time with an all over perf pattern, sett off again with a metal chain accent.

The Erik Ellington Pro gets a similar job, with the side panels and heal in clean white.

Finally my favourites, the Sky Top lows. These are all available now from the stockists listed below and all good skate/street stores.

Urban Industry (UK)
The Consortium (UK)
Zappos (US)

Tech Check: Viliv S5

With the ultraportable computing revolution in full swing its seems almost every manufacturer under the sun is pushing a netbook, mobile internet device (MID) or UMPC (Ultra Portable Mobile Personal Computer) onto the market. However very few of them have been ticking all the boxes. Korean company Viliv however appear to have a winner on their hands with the S5. Running off of Intel's much reveered 'Atom' Platform the S5 runs a 1.3Ghz Silverthrone Atom CPU and sports a ludicrously high 1024x600 resolution 4.3 inch touch screen display. Chuck in 30/60GB hard drive storage options, Wifi b/g, Bluetooth 2.0 plus GPS and optional 3G configurations and you have a seriously well considered bundle.

As if that wasn't enough...the S5 is said to chug along happily for a surprisingly long 6.5hrs without needing a re-charge (with Wifi on) and also comes with Viliv's own UI software and haptic feedback to enhance the limted touchscreen support of Windows XP Professional. The icing on the cake comes in the form of 720p HD video playback support. All this does come at a price however. Expected to be avilable in Europe through importers at the end of March/early April, the damage will be around the 650/700 Euro mark. A small price to pay however for a pocket full of cutting edge ultra portable computing. Click the link for a video of the S5 in action plus additional links to more pics and info.

Viliv S5 - UMPC Portal Page
Viliv S5 - UMPC Portal 1st Impressions

The Crates: Floyd Lawson & The Hearts Of Stone - Only Takes A Minute

Floyd Lawson & The Hearts Of Stone were essentially unknown when they signed to Motown's VIP label in 1970. Despite other far more established artists not being honoured with an album release they received one which was was eventually produced by Henry Cosby. After achieving limited success with the release entitled, Stop The World: We Wanna Get Off they soon parted company with Motown. This Track is taken from a far more obscure 2nd album called 'Coming Out', which was originally released as a limited press of only 1000, but fortunately has only recently seen a re-release on Afro Kats records.

The record has a much grittier rawer funk sound as compared to the 50's/60's r&b/soul feel of the first album. Entitled 'Only Takes A Minute' the track was written and produced by 70's production team Lambert and Potter, and the original was a top ten hit on the billboard 100 singles chart in the US for Tavares, peaking at number ten, as well as reaching number one on the US R&B Chart. It would also rather unusually go on to be covered by British boy band Take That in 1992 and featured on their debut album 'Take That & Party'. It recently saw a 7 inch re-release on K-Gee records along with another track from the album entitled 'Air I Breathe'. Click To Listen, or follow the link for more info.

Fresh Out The Frying Pan: Mayer Hawthorne

Growing up in Ann Arbor, Michigan just outside of Detroit, Hawthorne lists a host of soul greats including Smokey Robinson, Barry White, Isaac Hayes & Leroy Hutson as some of his main influences. After signing to Stonesthrow Records last year the 29 year olds' debut single 'Just Ain't Gonna Work Out' soon came to the attention of a number of well known dj's and producers. Making it's UK radio debut on Gilles Peterson best of 2008 show Hawthorne's soaring falsetto has also been receiving a lot of support and radio play from the likes of Mark Ronson and BBC 1Xtra's Benj B. It must also be noted that the multi instrumentalist plays a number of the instruments used on his records and while opinion amongst certain purists is divided, in my opinion he does seem to capture some of the essence of that classic sweet soul sound. Click below to listen or head on over to his Myspace Page for more tracks (watch out for his cover of the 'The New Holidays - Maybe So, Maybe No'). If you are in London you can also catch Mayer performing at Cargo on March 7th 2009.

Sneak Peek: Adidas Oregon Ultra LE

Since it's original launch in 1982 the Adidas Oregon had been one of Adidas' stable models, generating a continuous and substantial income for the company over it's 27 years in production and it's numerous incarnations. I particularly like this updated version of the original which I believe first appeared in the late 90's and is called the Oregon Ultra LE. It features completely reconfigured uppers and toe box yet in my opinion still retains the charm of the original. This clean black/white/grey colourway shown above I believe formed part of Adidas's 2008 spring/summer Originals Consortium - AZX Project collection with the colours themselves put together by clothing and apparel retailer and designers UNDFTED (Undefeated). Although currently unavailable in most stores a quick eBay search revealed a few sizes of this crispy colourway still floating about. Click the link to see some other interesting Oregon colourways.

Daps Of The Apps: UX Theme Multi-Patcher

Strictly speaking this is not an application rather a patch, but useful nonetheless. UX Theme Multi-Patcher is patch that is applied to the uxtheme.dll file in your Windows XP system which controls the themes located in the appearance tab of Display Properties, allowing the user to use any 3rd party MSS style. In normal English this means you can alter the appearance of the navigation bars and windows, giving your windows a whole new look/style/colour/feel etc. There are thousands of user made themes available (link shown below) in a multitude of styles, Including other popular operating systems (Vista, Apple OSX, Linux etc)

You can get applications that do this but by directly patching the windows system file it means you will not have to run any external applications (such as Windows Blinds) to implement such changes. Please be aware you alter your system files at your own
risk. Microsoft has in the past provided a couple of themes of it's own that do not require this patch such as the Zune theme, however these are not far different from the default Windows XP theme. After the patch is applied you simply click the msstyles file in your downloaded theme and you are good to go! Click the link for screen shots, additional info and downloads.

Other free utilities that are often used in conjunction with windows themes are Styler (which alters windows navigation buttons and bars) and Icon Tweaker (which changes your default icons). Again packs of icons and toolbars are widely available. Hit the Links for more info and downloads

UX Theme Multi-Patcher - Windows XP Sp2
UX Theme Multi-Patcher - Windows XP Sp3
Deviant Art - Windows Visual Styles

Tech Check: Palm Pre

Although Palm is nowadays not frequently sighted as a major force in the mobile tech industry, it has not always been the case. During the 1990's and early 2000's Palm PDA's were frequently sighted as some of the most innovative and forward thinking devices on the market, with many attributing some of the design concepts, included in their original Operating systems as providing a blueprint for many of today's most cutting edge smart phones and portable communications devices.

However after a series of poor business decisions and accusations of a decline in innovation and their forward thinking approach to tech design they had become famed for, the company eventually came close to bankruptcy. However, in January of this year at the consumer electronics trade show in Las Vegas Palm introduced a product which many are saying may well propel them back to the peak of the industry and pose a real threat to other revered products such as Apple's iPhone. A smart phone called the Palm Pre. Click the Link for more pics and info.

The phone itself incorporates many cutting edge technologies and is built on a completely new platform which palm are calling 'WebOS' which has been inspired by a deck of cards, with different applications and functions appearing as scrollable cards on the desktop. The device incorporates similar multi touch screen technology as included in the iPhone as well as a whole host of other new features. Using a new CPU from Texas Instruments called the Omap 3 the Pre is also set to be the most powerful smart phones on the market. We also find a gesture bar situated below the screen for gesture based input as well as a hard slide out keyboard.

Other ideas and functionality Incorporated into the device include 'wireless charging', and all the usual functions and applications you would find on cutting edge smart phones such as Wifi, b/g Bluetooth 2.0 (including A2DP for device tethering), 3G , google maps and an online application store in the pipeline. Palm have also introduced a number of features unavailable on the iPhone such as copy and paste MMS. Not to mention something that Palm calls Synergy, which allows you to pull together contacts and calendars from lots of different sources, but without altering or merging that data. For example Synergy will grab the same contact from Facebook, Gmail, and Outlook, then combine those into a "stack" of info for that person on your phone.

Scheduled for release in the first half of 2009, if the preliminary reports are to be believed Palm's Pre is set to become one of the most anticipated hand sets of all time and may well indicate a return to form for the struggling company. Click the link for indepth info, photo galleries and videos.

Engadget - Palm Pre Indepth

Art: Brad Downey - 'An Honest Thief'

Brad Downey (born 1980 in Louisville, Kentucky) is an American artist. He uses film, sculpture, painting and drawing to reflect on concepts about the establishment Vs the audience. Currently living in Berlin, many of Downey's pieces are focused around the street and it's various obstacles. With his subtle manipulation of objects, street signs and markings we often taken take for granted in the public sphere, Downey attempts to highlight awareness of these social controls, and hopes the public, will gain a greater understanding of his own urban and social situation. 'An Honest Thief' is an installation exhibition that will be taking place from January 29th to February 8th, 2009 at infamous street artist D*faces Stolen Space Gallery in Shoreditch, London. Downey will also be signing copies of his book from 1pm-3pm on Saturday the 31st. Click the 'Read Full Post' link for photos, links and full exhibit and book info.

Brad Downey - Official Website
Stolen Space Gallery - Brad Downey Exhibit Info
Adventures Of Darius & Downey Book - Amazon

Big In The Game: Jackie Opel

Born Dalton Sinclair Bishop in 1938 in Barbados 'Jackie Opel' was a Bajan soul singer, composer, arranger and instrumentalist. Although Opels' Career was tragically cut short at the young age of 32 he was the composer of 700 known songs, an innovator in musical styles & an arranger who helped create the early ska sound. He frequently played and also toured with Jamaican Reggae/Ska Legends Alton Ellis & The Skatalites. Unlike many of the Jamaican singers and musicians of the time he never came to England which some feel has meant his genius has never been widely acknowledged outside of his homeland or in the historical context of Jamaican music. This track is a cover of Jackie Wilson's 'Higher and Higher' and featured on a collection of songs entitled ‘The Memorable Jackie Opel’, which unfortunately is out of print. An incredible voice who, like many, deserves the titles of 'genius 'and 'soul legend' despite his obscurity. For more info about Jackie Opel please read this great article linked below. I have also included a link to where to buy Jackie Opel recordings.

Sneak Peek: Adidas ZX500

With the explosion of sneaker culture over the last few years, it seems that companies are releasing so called 'limited' and collabo kicks so regularly it is impossible to keep up. The 'Limited Edition' sneaker has in many ways become so common that the original statement has almost become a paradox in itself. It has also often occurred to me how many of these 'limited' releases are made with exactly the same build quality and often also with similar materials to general release shoes. The only difference comes in the form of the inflated price tags and unnecessary secondary branding. Click the link for pictures and more info.

With every tom, dick and harry collaborating with the manufacturers you also find many of these shoes to be completely devoid of any subtlety, attention to detail or design integrity...as pretty much anything goes these days. This has lead me to look more closely at some of the GR (general release) kicks which may be overlooked by collectors due to their 'common' nature. A nice example are this pair of Adidas ZX500's. A classic design combined with a refined Sand / Legacy / Violet colour palette and stitched accents. Nothing too controversial but in my opinion simplicity should always prevail.

Available here in the UK at the following stores:

Main Source - ZX500
End Clothing - ZX500

Sweet Soul: Bill Withers - Ruby Lee

In my honest opinion Bill Withers is one of (if not) the greatest, song writers of all time as well as one of my favourite artists of all time. The thing I love most about Withers is I can relate to so much of what he is saying in his records, more so than almost any artist I have ever come across. Even artists closer to home or closer to my own age can't seem to speak to me like Bill can. His ability to capture and translate raw human emotion and put it on record is unbelievable. No ego, no gimmicks, no computers, no MTV, no cameras, no smoke, no mirrors. The man has got so much soul that if you look up soul in the dictionary I reckon you should just find a picture of Bill's face instead.

As well as his back catalogue of timeless classics I would recommend checking out some of his lesser known recordings. This tune entitled 'Ruby Lee' is taken from his 3rd studio album, Justments from 1974. This along with the song 'Can We Pretend' which features Jose Felliciano on Guitar are two of my favourite songs from the album. Be sure to also check out his live album 'Live At Carnegie Hall' too, one of the best live albums I have ever heard. Click the link to find out more about the Genius.

Daps Of The Apps: Soulseek

Although still popular this peer to peer (P2P) file sharing application is not quite as well known as some others big name applications such as Limewire, Kazaa & Bit Torrent. Although it is possible to share all sorts of file types using this application it's principle focus is on music. Created in 2006 by a former Napster programmer, Soulseek was originally a source for sharing underground electronic music or music created by the users themselves. To this day it remains a source for avant garde and underground independent music, offering users access to an ever changing archive of often obscure and lesser known tunes unavailable on many other file sharing applications/servers. Click the 'Read Full Post' for more info and free download links.

Over the years it has grown to encompass a multitude of genres and as a peer to peer (P2P) file sharing program, the accessible content is determined by the users of the Soulseek client, and what files they choose to share. The network has historically had a diverse mix of music, including underground and independent artists, unreleased music such as demos and mixtapes, bootlegs, live tracks, and live DJ sets. In addition, unlike many other file sharing applications, which have become littered with rogue files, viruses and malicious code, Soulseek only lists files shared by registered users and also allows users full access to other users shared folders , giving users a better insight into the source thus minimising the risk of infection. From my experience it is a great tool, and is a good source for finding new, unreleased, rare and slightly more obscure material.

For iPhone owners using jailbroken iPhones, there is also a new soul seek client for iPhone in development called 'Mew Seek' (formerly iSlsk). Visit the developers site for more info >>> www.errrick.com.ar. And remember kiddies, distribution/sharing of copyrighted material is illegal, so use wisely and always support the artists. Click the following link to download Soulseek for PC free. Please note: this program may require a little patience but is well worth it, also think about setting up port forwarding (info: http://portforward.com/default.htm) if you experience slow searches and download speeds.

Soulseek - Download

Tech Check: Cowon S9

A few monthes back you might recall that I reported on a new portable media device called the P5 from South Korean Company Cowon. It seems Cowon have been at it again, this time with a brand new even more compact portable device claiming to be one of the best sounding portable audio devices ever made. Big talk, but considering Cowon's glittering reputation particularly in the sonics department it seems perfectly plausible that the S9 may very well live up to the claims... Click the 'Read Full Post' link for more info, pics and videos.

On first impression the S9 is certainly a looker (Click images to enlarge). Clean lines and an elegant looking touch screen is complimented nicely with chrome accents. The question is what distinguishes this device from others on the market? Well when we get into the technical side of things it soon becomes abundantly clear that Cowon really means business and has gone out of it's way to really distinguish this device from the competition. Starting with the display...

Cowon have decided to use a 3.3 inch 480x272 resolution AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode) capacitive touch screen display. For the less technical among us lets just say this was a very wise move. Unlike traditional LCD panels AMOLED's do not require back lighting as the pixels themselves illuminate when activated by an electric current. This means that they consume significantly less power than traditional LCD panels yet are still ultra bright, are capapable of producing ultra sharp images and have great viewing angles. The use of such a display has meant that Cowon are claiming class leading battery performance of 55hrs for audio and 11 hrs for video on a single charge, which is certainly impressive. The use of a capacitive touch panel also means the display should be highly responsive to touch unlike the less responsive resistive panels used in many mobile phones and other touch based media devices.

They haven't scrimped on any of the essentials either. As well as support for some of the most popular audio compression formats such as mp3, wma & ogg, they have also included support for loseless flac, ape and wav formats too. Video support is also decent with wmv, xvid and divx on board. Early reports have also indicated that while Cowon recommend re-encoding video to the player's native screen resolution of 480x272, certain higher res files do play smoothly. xvid and divx video support is said to be particularly good with certain reviews suggesting smooth playback up to DVD resolution (720x480) @ 30 frames per second, although wmv is said not to perform as well.

On top of this you also get a whole host of other features. Bluetooth 2.0 with A2dp is supported meaning unrestricted file transfer between Bluetooth capable devices and wireless Bluetooth headphone tethering is possible. You also get a text reader, photo viewer (jpeg format), FM radio and TV -Out functionality for hooking your device up to a television (cable must be brought separately however). Not to mention Cowons supposedly exceptional Custom EQ and sound enhancement technology known as BBE, said to significantly improve the listening experience. In addition you also get zooming functionality on the touch based interface for increasing the size of whatever is being displayed as well as album art support and a cover browsing system similar to Apples 'Cover Flow'.

The only real down sides are the price and capacity options. With the 8GB model retailing for a hefty £169 and the 16GB model coming in at £199 here in the UK, the S9 is certainly not cheap. Apparently a 32GB version will also be available in the future. I personally would have also liked to have seen an SD card slot included, as found on their older D2 model. In addition, it has been almost a year and a half and still no other company has built a sub 3.5 inch screened device with a web browser to rival that of the iPod touch. Not essential but would have been a great addition.

Here is an in depth 3 part review of the Cowon S9 from portable audio device website, 'anythingbutipod.com' (also available in HD).

To buy an S9 or for more info please visit:

Advanced Mp3 Players - Web shop

Iaudiophile.net - Cowon Fan Forum

Sneak Peek: Fresh For '09

With the new year fast approaching, we have already started to see a whole load of preview pics of upcoming styles and colourways slipping out onto the blogs. 2009 is already looking like it's going to be a pretty live year for retro kicks. Click the 'Read Full Post' link for a choice selection of what the new year has in store.

Reebok Court Pump Victory - Michael Chang: Any body who remembers the tennis court stylings of the great Michal Chang, may also remember his signature shoe. Along with Andre Agassi's Nike Air Tech Challenge line these have to be some of the most striking court trainers to emerge from tennis' golden era. Great to see Reebok resurrecting more 90's heat.

Reebok Sk700 - Kidz In The Hall: Definitely Not every ones cup of tea but the Sk700 cuts a nice profile IMO. These colourways put together buy hip hop duo 'Kidz In The Hall' will form part of Reebok's Classic Re-Mix collection. These are scheduled for a March 2009 Foot Locker release. Not convinced by the colourways myself but perhaps we will see some more in due course.

Nike Air Pegasus '89: Definitely one of the most anticipated retro releases of next year. 20 Years after it's initial debut Nike are bringing back this revered runner. Pre-release shots seem to show they have stayed pretty faithful to the original silhouette. These will definitely be taking their spot in my collection.

Nike Air Max BW - JD Sports Exclusive: JD have been know every now and then to drop some tasty colourways and this BW is looking pretty fresh to me. It is a slight variation of the original Persian violet colourway (shown below) which will also be seeing a first quarter '09 re-release.

Nike Air Max 1 - Safari: Seems like Nikes humble safari print has come a long way over the last few years. This tidy little print seems to have shown up on just about everything from retro runners, SB windbreaker jackets, mutant hybrids and even new skool basketball kicks. The Grey variation Premium SP edition shown in the first photo down are actually already available from Proper in the US. The other colourways are scheduled for release sometime during spring/summer of '09.

Nike Air Digs: Now here's a long lost gem I never would have seen Nike resurrecting in a million years. The Air Digs as it is known is actually a Women's volleyball shoe which originally made it's debut in 1991. Teal/Pink colourways and gum soles are always welcome, definitely one for the 80's kids. On my hit list for sure.

Nike Air Structure - New Colourways: Since it's coveted return this year Nike has released a steady stream of original, retro inspired and new colourways of this 90's classic. It seems the fiends can't get enough and 2009 will see a raft of new colours emerging, starting with these four. As with the Air Max 1 Safari Premiums, the first two colourways shown below are already available at Proper in the US.

For more Sneaker news & Info visit these useful spots: