None More Black - first look at the new Pure EVOKE-1S Marshall radio
I have a Les Paul under my bed and a Stratocaster in the cupboard at the top of the stairs. Who better, then, to accept Pure's invitation to the launch of the new Evoke 1S Marshall Edition, a revamp of their earlier and very successful Marshall-branded Evoke 1xt, replete with Marshall logo, Marshall carrying handle, goes-up-to-11 volume knob and a station list seemingly stuck on Planet Rock?
Appetite For Construction
More of the radio later, but as a guitarist with more-than-is-strictly-healthy Whitesnake in my record collection, my excitement owed much to the launch location - the spiritual home of rock itself, the Marshall Amplification factory.
Accompanied by a slightly younger (and by inference more 4x12-ambivalent) Stuff gadgescamp, our hosts – Marshall's charming and avuncular Phil Webb, and Pure's equally charming though less avuncular (in that I never had uncles like them) Vicky and Jenny – took us on a bit of an eye-opening tour round The Mecca Of Rock.
I had always imagined that in this day and age, even bedrocks of Britishness like Marshall (they won the Queen's Award for Export in 1984) would have shipped much of their manufacturing to the Far East to cut costs.
Not at all – while the company have a range of cheaper non-valve and hybrid amps which are sourced from India and the Far East, all the valve amps are still built entirely in-house, from the plywood cabinets to injection-moulded gold-tipped knobs.
The Stacks' Story
Phil - a 33-year factory veteran - was a font of knowledge, particularly when it came to the value of the £50k 1968 head that I tripped over in the museum at one point, and is currently embarking on a project to document every single amplifier they've ever built. A project which will, he claims, take him another fifteen years to complete.
We had the opportunity to sample some of the company's latest wares (and that wasn't just the pasties) courtesy of local outfit-come-house band Monkey Lord, but strenuous efforts on my part to get up and "do some Lizzy with the boys" were thwarted by the Pure PR team, who clearly knew better than to let the hoi polloi loose on the sumptuous array of hand-made guitars on display.
The Spirit of DAB Radio
As for the radio itself, it's a subtle update, adding FM, the ability to take a ChargePak battery, better connectivity and an improved (OLED) display, but if the samples strategically placed round the factory – all tuned to Planet Rock, naturally – are anything to go by, this particular Marshall is just as robust-sounding as its bigger brethren.
I blagged a sample for the review team to put through its paces, which should be with you soon, though presumably the dial will be stuck straight onto Alice Cooper's Breakfast Show, unlike this peculiarly off-message sample spotted post-launch...