Beach visitors in Southern California will no doubt have been livened up recently as the SCAMS campaign moved into Phase Four, intended to give the Carter administration a kick up the backside.
SCAMS, (Southern Californians Against Marijuana Spraying) was organised by Los Angeles rock station KMET with the intention of gaining over a million petition signatures from residents of Southern California in an attempt to stop the Carter administration from spraying Mexican dope-fields with deadly Paraquat. This virulent substance is likely to cause various kinds of cancer in unsuspecting dope-freaks, and is obviously a Bad Thing. And there's no way of telling. Reports from Mexico seem to indicate that much of the spraying is being carried out in a rather haphazard way, including spraying of small towns and food crops as well as the devil weed itself.
The final phase in the campaign involved setting up petition-signing stations on all the beaches from LA to San Diego to complete the million signatures before mid-May. Hopefully, they made it. Even more hopefully, the nasty sprays will cease in the near future. Good Luck! (Spirit of '67 Dept.)
London's Marquee Studios looks flashier by the minute, especially with the latest newie, an MCI Type 542 console complete with the now seemingly obligatory automation. The control room, too, has been tarted up, with improvements made generally to studio facilities.
First session with the automation was completed by Marquee engineer Geoff Calver in the remix suite while working on the new Pacific Eardrum album with co-producer Dave MacRae.
Evidence can be viewed at Marquee Studios, (Contact Details).
A fascinating new book by Donald Brosnac, The Electric Guitar, Its History And Construction, was published in the UK on June 22, and is well worth a look for anyone even remotely interested in the development of the electric guitar to its currently elevated popularity in contemporary music.
Perhaps the most interesting section for the student of guitar history is the well-illustrated Historically Significant Guitars chapter. Photographed and described are all the guitars you'd expect to find in a section thus named — your Rickenbacker Frying pans, Ovation innovations, Mosrite's first twin-neck, Les Pauls, Broadcasters and Telecasters. But also there are plenty of guitars you don't normally see listed or photographed — the 1947 Bigsby and Travis Solidbody, pre-dating the Broadcaster by a year and easily living up to Brosnac's claim of being 'the first modern electric guitar', is just one example.
Further into the book are sections on making a solid-body guitar or a hollow-body guitar (and in less than 357 parts), details of pickups, the fretboard (using patent Rickenbacker measurements), wiring circuits and amps.
Certainly The Electric Guitar is one of the more concise and factual books on the subject, and SI thoroughly recommend it. Publishers: UK: Book Sales Ltd, (Contact Details). Australia: Book Sales Pty Ltd, (Contact Details). West Germany: Music Sales GmbH, (Contact Details). UK price £2.50. ISBN 0 86001 491 6.
THOSE of us with good memories may remember such records as Convoy, which hit the market a couple of years ago. While US and other readers may have recognised the 'Rubber Duck' and '10-4' as examples of CB radio talk, British listeners may have been baffled.
CB stands for Citizen's Band: a set of radio channels allocated in many countries for use by small businesses and private individuals who want to talk to each other. CB really took off in the US as a result of the trucker's strike a few years back, when CB radios were extensively used to coordinate picketing and other industrial action. As a result, the band gained publicity it had never before received (it was allocated in 1949) and sales of equipment, often Japanese, rocketed. Today over one in four vehicles in the US are fitted with CB; some car manufacturers have announced their intention to fit the radios as standard.
One of the first uses for CB was on the freeways: truckers would inform others of approaching speed-traps, jams and detours. This annoyed the cops at first but they soon realised that all they had to do was to be seen, and traffic would keep to the 'double fives'. Many police departments in the US have now endorsed the lifesaving aspects of CB and actively encourage it. An extensive emergency network exists, monitoring Channel 9 almost everywhere in the States. Rigs in the US sell for as little as $40 for the full 40 channels, putting personal communication within everyone's reach.
Many other countries have CB as well, including Canada, Italy, Scandinavia, West Germany and Australia.
But CB is still almost unknown in the UK, despite a large number of articles praising its virtues. And the reason for this is typical: the Home Office refuses to give any hope of ever licencing a CB in this country. Yet its advantages are obvious. Just one example: imagine the number of lives that would have been saved in Scotland during the blizzards earlier this year when many people were trapped in their cars under snowdrifts. A quick blast on Channel 9 and help would have been on its way.
Home Office unwillingness to licence this logical extension of free speech, allowing the people of Britain to talk to one another, has resulted in a development that is not totally to be welcomed, that of the illegal use of the US band in this country. American and European CB rigs are freely available in the UK, for 'export only', and are being bought — although at extortionate prices. And with the advent of cheap travel to the US, many people are bringing rigs back, and using them.
All these rigs are on the same band, 27MHz, allocated as a CB in all the countries mentioned above, and this band is not the best for Britain, a better idea being a set of VHF channels or the old TV Band I, which is almost disused. 27MHz rigs are somewhat prone to cause interference on Band I, and there is the (remote) possibility of altering them to transmit on the 28MHz Amateur Band. Amateurs have fought hard over the years to use the few frequencies allocated to them, obtained against severe pressure from the communications industry, and intruding on their air-space is a particularly selfish activity, although it has not yet occurred in Britain. 27MHz also suffers from foreign interference when conditions are up, and there is a danger of tangling with radio control and paging systems that are currently allocated to the band in Britain. While the latter problem could be alleviated by limiting such systems to certain spot frequencies and allocating channels around them, as in the US, a far better solution would be the allocation of a more sensible band, of which there are several, including the band used by Lancaster bombers during the war.
At present there is a great likelihood of a repeat performance of the happenings in Australia, where so many thousands of people bought and used imported Japanese gear destined for the US that the government had to give CB'ers the band. There are already over 200 users in London alone, so it looks as if it may already be too late. Many operators are mobile and almost impossible to catch, and new stations are appearing at the rate of about half a dozen a week in London, and it's hardly surprising. Radio communication is merely another example of free speech, and a licenced CB would be well in line with the freedom that exists in other areas in Britain and other democratic countries. But until then, as one commentator has pointed out about American CB rigs: 'In this first year of cheap US travel... what better souvenir to bring back?...'
DIRE Straits are one of the more interesting bands to have acquired that elusive recording contract in the last year, having signed to the Vertigo label some seven or eight months back.
A single was released toward the end of May coupling the assured Sultans Of Swing with a straightahead live take of Eastbound Train. Sultans also appeared on the June-released Dire Straits album.
If you're in the London area early in July you can catch the band (Mark Knopfler — lead guitar, vocal; David Knopfler — rhythm guitar; John Illsley — bass; Pick Withers — drums) at the Marquee club on the 5th and 6th.
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