My Favourite Albums of All Time… Well, today anyways!

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Firstly a proviso: This is my list, so it almost certainly won’t match with anyone else.

Secondly, I’m English so this maybe a bit Anglocentric, so apologies there too. Actually, looking at it again there’s only two British bands in my list, so not guilty!

I’m also no spring chicken, so my picks tend to fall in my formative years during the late 60s and 70s — when the music was better, right?

Coming in at number 5:Dark Side of the Moon‘ Pink Floyd – EMI 1973
This had to make my top 5. Everything from the concept, production, musicianship, lyrics… is top notch.

Coming in at number 4:Bridge Over Troubled Water‘ Simon & Garfunkel – Sony 1969. A wonderful collection of songs that have stood the test of the last 50 years.

Coming in at number 3:Aja‘ Steely Dan – MCA 1977. This is not actually my favourite album by this band now. This maybe partly due to the fact it got ‘played to death’ whilst I was at college. Nevertheless, head ruling heart, I have to acknowledge the sheer painstaking craftsmanship that has gone into this, producing something almost peerless; intellectual yet accessible; sophisticated but easy on the ear.

Coming in at number 2: Blue‘ Joni Mitchell – Reprise 1971. Again, this is probably not my favourite of Joni’s repertoire these days. But the songwriting is just wonderful, heart on sleeve stuff, so painful at times, but always simply beautiful. The best of a singer songwriter at their peak.

And finally, coming in at number 1:Revolver‘ The Beatles – EMI 1966. Ok, I know — what about ‘Sgt. Peppers..’? I just think this is better. So much variety in one album, fantastic songs which are very short and wonderfully produced. The Beatles at their peak in my opinion, at the turning point of their first era of predominantly love songs, looking towards the future of experimentation… and so influential: ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ anyone?

Copyright Francis Barker 2020

A New Study Assesses the Prehistoric Acoustics of Stonehenge. (Reblog)

Researchers created a 3D-printed scale model and broadcast ‘chirps’ at different frequencies When Stonehenge was intact, the acoustics were more like…

A New Study Assesses the Prehistoric Acoustics of Stonehenge.

Marmalade: A Very British Obsession (Reblog)

Captain Scott took jars to the Antarctic with him, and Edmund Hillary took one up Everest. Marmalade is part of the British national myth. Livvy …

Marmalade: A Very British Obsession

*There’s more than one way to make marmalade…

Mr. Blue Sky (Electric Light Orchestra) – Postmodern Jukebox ft. Allison… (Reblog)

Mr. Blue Sky (Electric Light Orchestra) – Postmodern Jukebox ft. Allison…

Reblogged by Francis Barker 2020

2020 ALBUM DRAFT- ROUND 8- PICK 4- BADFINGER20 SELECTS- THE KINKS- GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT — slicethelife (Reblog)

In 1981 I remember hearing Destroyer on the radio and was confused…Wait…is this a new version of All Day and All of the Night? I wanted that song so I bought the album. Give The People What They Want combines different styles. Punk, Rock, and a little New Wave was thrown in on a few […]

2020 ALBUM DRAFT- ROUND 8- PICK 4- BADFINGER20 SELECTS- THE KINKS- GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT — slicethelife

***Reblogged by Francis Barker 2020 Rock music

EVERY BILLBOARD HOT 100 SINGLE 1970: #433: ” LOLA”- THE KINKS — slicethelife (Reblog)

Every Billboard Hot 100 Single 1970: #433: “Lola”- The Kinks. August 29, 1970. Single:”Lola”- The Kinks Record Company- Reprise Genre: Rock Written by Ray Davies Time: 4:06 B-side:” Mindless Child Of Motherhood” Album-Lola versus The Powerman and the Moneygoround Part 1. Grade: A+ Peaked at #9 14 weeks in Billboard Hot 100. The Kinks- a […]

EVERY BILLBOARD HOT 100 SINGLE 1970: #433: ” LOLA”- THE KINKS — slicethelife

***Reblogged by Francis Barker 2020

Oh, no you won’t: A quick history of the British panto — Notes from the U.K. (Reblog)

Nothing except the curry is as British as the panto.  I’ve made that claim about a lot of things, and it’s true of every last one of them. And I didn’t even make up the comparison, so lots of people have made the claim about lots of things. Nothing is as unoriginal as comparing an […]

Oh, no you won’t: A quick history of the British panto — Notes from the U.K.

*Reblogged by Francis Barker 2020 — Creator: blogger, writer, poet, artist, astrologer

The Wonderful Mr Charles Dickens – Astrology Musings

After the mysterious William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens is probably ranked second in the all time greats of English writers — though to compare them is difficult as they lived more than two centuries apart and wrote in differing genres.

Neither is it possible to do a credible analysis of the Bard’s birth chart as we don’t know when exactly he was born, whereas we do know when Master Charles Dickens arrived in this troubled world.

Virgo Rising

It must have been pretty cold that late winter evening in 1812, in the famous port of Portsmouth on the south coast of England. At the time, the mutable earth sign of Virgo was rising on the eastern horizon. I think this pretty much correlates with a known part of the great Victorian writer’s character.

Virgo is always seen as analytical and critical, fussy and fastidious, with the keenest eye for detail and thereby a quick learner. The rising sign gives a good idea as to our approach to life, not necessarily revealing our inner nature.

As the young Charles grew up, this grasp of minutiae was serve him especially well, though this same quality might have led him along many different routes, not necessarily along a literary one. Virgo’s approach could be said to be scientific, though Charles basically lacked a full formal education of the time, for which we perhaps ought to be grateful; had he received one, he might well have chosen a different path and we might never have heard of him.

A Tale of Two Writers

Intriguingly, this may be one of two factors which the young Charles shared with Shakespeare of Stratford Upon Avon, who also appears to have not finished his own formal education. We do know that Dickens worked for a time in a law office in London, which some suspect the young Bard also did back in his day, when he too arrived in London during his so-called ‘missing years’. Dickens was a keen theatre goer too and may have grasped ideas of characterisation from that colourful arena. Virgo is a very keen observer indeed.

With Virgo rising, its ruler, Mercury, becomes the ruler of the chart. Interestingly, Hermes is placed in the cardinal earth sign of Capricorn in the 5th house. Mercury in Capricorn is practical, realistic, systematic and ambitious.

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A Serious Mind — With a ‘Twist’

But this Mercury is also in a positive aspect with Uranus, ‘the magician’ in the 3rd house, also associated with the mind. In other words, his mind was practically inventive — with a twist of genius, one would suspect.

Mercury in Capricorn denotes a mind which must see definite results from the considerable effort put in, mentally. The 5th house is the creative arena, where children of the mind are hewn, served by the brilliance of Uranus from the third house.

Saturn is also in its own sign of Capricorn in the same house. He is powerfully placed here, underlining the seriousness in which he applied himself to his creativity. At times it must have been a joyless experience — but he was determined to succeed.

Great Expectations

Here then is part of the root of his ambition as a writer; what he may have lacked in education, he made up with in sheer graft and more than a little invention. His prodigious output is testimony to that, with 15 novels, five novellas, hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles, as well as countless letters.

But this is only the beginning of the extent of what was a very well developed mind. If Mercury gives an indication of the general everyday quality of mind, then Jupiter reveals the more expansive and aspirational side.

Showman

Dickens’ Jupiter is found in the mutable air sign of Gemini, high up in the tenth house of goals and career. Here is great flexibility, plus a curiosity and restlessness, a quality which he could apply to his career as a journalist, writer, as well as a lecturer and performer. There was something of the showman about him.

The 3rd and 9th houses are also indicative of the quality of mind. A Scorpio 3rd house in the whole sign house division method, reveals a mental intensity and investigative quality, bolstered here, as I have already stated, by the presence of the eccentric Uranus.

A Well Developed Mind

What is more, the ruler of Scorpio, Mars, is found in fiery Aries in the 8th house. Here is a person of some energy and verve, even a quick temper, but who applies it in the area of shared security, deeper concerns, such as investigation. Had he pursued his early career as a journalist, he might well have reached great heights there too. But he had his own path to follow.

His 9th house (higher mind again) is Taurus, ruled by Venus, which is found in sensitive and sentimental Pisces in the 7th house, closely conjunct the then undiscovered Pluto. Venus in Pisces has strong feelings, an almost spiritual ability to empathise with others, especially so in the 7th house of relationships. He definitely had the ability to put himself in other people’s shoes.

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The Pursuit of Social Justice

Pluto here only deepens this tendency; this may well correlate with his lifelong pursuit of justice for the poor and particularly poor children, whose plight he described so movingly in many of works. To say this man had a social conscience would be an understatement.

Equally, we also know that Dickens’ was a very fine mimic, able to take on the persona of others that he came across; this also correlates with his Venus/Pluto conjunction in Pisces in the 7th house. There is little wonder that when it came to portraying characters in print, he was able to make them seem so realistic, his Virgo ascendant giving him the ability to fine tune those intrinsic qualities of character.

Detachment

I have said a lot already, but not yet mentioned the Sun or Moon, two of the key factors in a birth chart. His sun in Aquarius in the 6th house describes his basic inner nature. Here is a man, who despite his deeply felt compassion for others, could also detach himself if so wished and thereby do greater good. He identifies with work and service to others in this regard, too.

Aquarius is said to be unusual, but I think this has only grown over the past two centuries after an increasing number of astrologers have made Uranus the prime ruler of this sign. I think this is an error.

Emotionally Expressive and Sentimental

Aquarius is ruled by Saturn, but the side of Saturn which plans for the longer future, at a time of late winter in the north of the world when general preparations are made for the onset of spring. Aquarius is a carer too, but not in the same way as the deeply personal uniting principle of Venus in sensitive Pisces.

His Moon is in Sagittarius, very close to Neptune in the 4th house. So here is yet another facet of this multi-dimensional character. He can be emotionally expressive, sometimes overly so and gushing. He is also deeply sensitive and sentimental about issues regarding home, family, women and the past.

A Host of Characters

Here may lie another facet of his ability to write so convincingly about the lives of people in the mid 19th century, aided by several other sensitive areas of his chart I have alluded to above. He writes so well because he feels so strongly. Yet none of this may have been possible if he hadn’t got the ability to compartmentalise, using his considerable intellectual gifts to formally present us with those wonderful creations in print.

Charles Dickens, like all of us, was several characters rolled into one. But his particular chemistry was one which gave sublime literary expression to the troubles and the characters of his time — and for that we must all be eternally grateful.

Copyright Francis Barker 2020

‘One Pig More’ A Mike Malone Murder Mystery, by Milly Reynolds

This is the 18th ebook in the Mike Malone Murder Mystery Series.

DI Mike Malone and his trusted partner DS Alan Shepherd are faced with a tricky problem.

They are used to crimes which involve the theft of belongings, of animals so what do they do when the local farmers suddenly find that they are the victims of giving?

As they also have a local drugs operation to keep under surveillance and a friend to help, life is very busy – and interesting.

Copyright Francis Barker 2020

‘Beauty Sleep’ A Mike Malone Murder Mystery, by Milly Reynolds

In this, the fifteenth installment of the Mike Malone murder mystery series, Mike has two problems to solve.

He still needs to identify the Blob that keeps appearing on the riverbank in the midnight hours.

But a more serious concern is the disappearances of sixth-formers form the local Academy. Is there a serial killer at large?

Copyright Francis Barker 2020

Progressive Rock Favourites: Yes, ‘Survival’

Progressive rock, classic rock, art rock… whatever you want to call it, this is one of my favourite pieces from the early song catalogue of British band Yes — captured live from 1969.

This line up shows Peter Banks on guitar and vocals and Tony Kaye on keyboards, a year before they were replaced by Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman, forming what some still regard as the ‘classic’ Yes lineup — there have been many changes since.

Eclectic rock might be the better word for this style of music. Yes went on to be one of the very best exponents of this genre, in my opinion.

Copyright Francis Barker 2020