Bruce's Blog

a handful of dimes and a jukebox

Desmond with friend
Listening to Miles Davis’ classic album Steamin’ makes me glad that Bruce Pea became a Jazz fan, because I’m sure he designed the Desmonds to make music like this record sound this amazing. You know, I love those Desmonds more each time I listen to them. I think you’re right, Bruce, they do take a long time to break in, but they just keep breaking in, getting so much better all the time.

Bruce Pea, aka Ars Harmonia, is a friend from high school and of late, Facebook and also a very patient man. I’ve been promising for something like 3 months now to post an article about his great speakers that he builds and calls “Desmond“.

My Desmond speakers now live in what we refer to as “the guitar room”. It’s not a big room, 9×12-ish, so I’ve set them up for “near field” listening, with the Desmonds along the long wall, opposite the Beatles wall, and the speakers about five feet in front of me.

Just got a new belt for the turntable, so it’s a good excuse to fire it up.  Nice stuff. These things really image beautifully. All the galaxies that exist and some that don’t are pouring out of John Coltrane’s horn. Tasty drum solo from Philly Joe Jones. These Rudy Van Gelder recordings are really so amazing, so natural.

Hmm, sadly this belt doesn’t play well with my turnable. It keeps working itself off, like Casper, our new cat, and cat collars. Casper was our neighbor’s cat, but sadly they are moving and won’t be able to take Casper, so we’ve inherited him, which is fine because he usually hung out in our back yard anyway. Casper won’t keep on a collar even though he is an outdoor cat. Nothing to be done about it. Casper is a master hunter. I won’t depress you by telling you what he’s doing to the bird population in our backyard. Even hummingbirds! Casper will stay our outside cat, though. Anna, our inside cat, is 17 and not up to that kind of a change.

Casper and D in the garden

Casper and D in the garden

So now I’m listening through my iPhone for a while. Still sounds great. David Crosby’s album “If I Could Only Remember My Name” resonates and permeates. And “Cowboy Movie (1971)” does sound quite a bit like Neil Young’s “Down By The River (1969)”, don’t you think? But no complaints, it’s a great album, recorded extremely well, and sounds really fantastic on the Desmonds. They have a way of making music sound organic.

Evie Sands

I’ve been really getting into Evie Sand’s great song “Take Me For A Little While” lately. There are some really clever songwriting bits in it. This isn’t a record you listen to for great sonics, though, especially my original single on Blue Cat, which has been played a lot. But it has great sincerity. 😉 I just noticed that “Wake Me Pet Me, Poppa” is written on the sleeve, which is actually a Rosemary Clooney song. And an odd coincidence, considering the record is on Blue Cat.

Jackie DeShannon’s great song “When You Walk In The Room”, on the other hand, benefits from a big productions. Her voice kills me, and it’s so focused on the Desmonds.

I follow Dave Mason on Facebook. Dave was one of the founders of Traffic with Steve Winwood and writer of “Feeling Alright”. I was pleased to hear Dave say that Joe Cocker’s version is the definitive version, which I guess is kind of inarguable. I remember getting a gig once after playing only one song at an audition. They were a bit younger than me (who isn’t these days?) and played a lot of 80’s tunes that I wasn’t very familiar with, but they mentioned “Feeling Alright”. I broke into the piano riff that opens Cocker’s version and they hired me on the spot. The congas are well represented by the Desmonds, very powerful and full.

Middle Eastern Rock

There’s a fairly obscure record that I really like: John Berberian and the Rock East Ensemble doing “Middle Eastern Rock”. Very groovy stuff from 1969, I assure you. Not a sonically brilliant recording, but very satisfying on the Desmonds.

That’s the thing you have to know about listening on good equipment. You might find out that an album you’ve always loved actually sounds like, well, crap. 😉 Sorry, but there it is.

I was playing Creeque Alley today on the old 12 string, and it sounds very pretty on the Desmonds. They handle vocals very nicely indeed. “McGuinn and McGuire still a-gettin’ higher, in LA, you know where that’s at”.

And so from partly sunny LA, that’s it for now. Tune in next time for another episode of “Life with Desmond”!

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