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Black Masquerade
Black Masquerade
Price: £12.99

16 of 24 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not a bad performance, but weak release, 29 Aug. 2013
This review is from: Black Masquerade (Audio CD)
Cool setlist, Blackmore is on form, and Doogie White sounds much better live than Turner ever did (though a far cry from the heights of Dio). On its own, this would be a three star release. A good curio for any Rainbow fan....


This release is exactly the same as the bootleg that's been around for years. The way to tell is on Spotlight Kid. The bootleg, about half way through, has some woman singing in the background (no, not Candice) from another TV show on another channel. This is a defect from when the original bootleg recording was made. It sounds like something from World War II, and is ammusing, but most intrusive. What this indicates is that the people releasing this album HAVE NOT gone back to the original multi-track masters. They've just taken the bootleg that already exists for free and are now charging for it. There is no difference in quality between this and the bootleg, bar this is a bit louder due to the mastering.

Avoid, until someone releases the proper version of this actually quite good show.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 24, 2013 1:23 AM BST

Motorheadphones Overkill In-Ear Headphones with In-Line Mic and Remote - Black
Motorheadphones Overkill In-Ear Headphones with In-Line Mic and Remote - Black
Price: £23.96

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars dissapointing, 23 May 2013
On the back of the Motorizer headphones which I had bought a month previous, I decided to compliment with a set of earphones by the same brand. The Motorizer headphones had set an incredibly high benchmark for sound, which I imagined would be matched here.

Quality earphones are hard to come by. Frequently they suffer an excess of treble, and lack of clarity to the instruments. I had previously had a pair of Creative noise isolating earphones, which had incredible bass and audio clarity. I thought these Motorbeauties would at least be able to match that. standard.

Initially I was impressed. Very robust design, no horrible plastic cables. The earphones give an impression of `we are going to last long', which would be all well and good if the sound quality wasn't so awful. Trebly as hell. If you listen to folk, then maybe, but listen to anything symphonic or anything within the realm of extreme metal and you're going to have a hard time. I tried listening to Dimmu Borgir's `In Sorte Diaboli' and couldn't hear a single blast beat. Not acceptable. Bare in mind this is using the same mp3 player as I had been using my old creative earphones with.

I am very disappointed with the audio quality here. You're paying for the name and nothing else. Considering how good the headphones are, the brand would be well advised to ditch the earphones all together as they do not represent them well at all. One star for build quality only.

Nightmare Movies: Horror on Screen Since the 1960s
Nightmare Movies: Horror on Screen Since the 1960s
by Kim Newman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £26.95

12 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Average but ammusing criticism, 12 Oct. 2011
There's lots of things to dispute in this book, one of the things you can't dispute however is the fun nature of Newman's writing. He's really into his material, and that goes a long way towards the positive response many exhibit to what is, ultimately, a poor piece of research and/or criticism.

Split into two halves, the first being the original Nightmare Movies, the second, New Nightmares, picks up where the original left off. This latter part is the better.

Chiefly, Nightmare Movies is less a piece of criticism than a list of 'films I've watched'. Newman basically breaks the genre down by genre, then lists films according to theme. So we get 'theme X can appear in films Y,Z' etc. A quick but of research however reveals most of the films Newman mentions aren't very good. He lists them purely on thematic grounds, with no care for if they're well constructed or scary. Indeed he doesn't seem to be aware of what makes films scary at all. His insights are all intellect, no emotion. And what use of intellect he does show is poorly appropriated. Unlike, say, Lovecraft's essay 'Supernatural Horror in Literature', or even some of the brief articles by M.R. James, Newman never builds his viewing list into any kind of cohesive theory of horror.

Further to that, whilst he's watched widely, he's guilty of a disturbing amount of anglo-centric imperialism. The Asian territories barely get a mention, save for in one of the latter chapters (which mentions no horror from the 40s, 50s, 60s really). For one so well regarded in horror criticism, this shows very poor research, especially when the quality of Asian horror is so vastly superior to most of the rubbish he mentions elsewhere in the book.

It's basically entertaining fanboyism, worth reading for the occasional rare gem you will find (and there are a few). But in order to get through these you have to wade through endless referencing to inferior films. Newman does little in the way of guiding us towards the gems, rather he lets us hat-pick at them. This makes him a rather futile and poor critic.

The Best Ghost Stories
The Best Ghost Stories
by Sheridan Le Fanu
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.49

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As fine a collection of ghost stories as thy pound could possibly buy, 23 May 2009
This review is from: The Best Ghost Stories (Paperback)
To my reckoning, only M.R. James can rightfully claim the share the thrown held by Sheridan Le Fanu for pure chilling of the spine across such a prolonged period. Many a ghostly inclined author has their odd classic, but James and Le Fanu scare consistently and to maximum effect. For my money though, Le Fanu has the edge...

Including all the ghost stories (but not the adventure story) from 'In a Glass Darkly', this volume also adds most of the best stories from 'Madam Crowls Ghost and Other Stories'. There is a lot of variation here. Le Fanu isn't concerned so much with haunted houses, but haunted people and the effect that being haunted has on a person. The tales are often strange, making great use of folklore which is never explained, so there's a lot of reading in between the lines that you have to do, and it's from there that the scares frequently occur.

The best story of the lot is Schalken The Painter, which tells of a painter whose love, Rose Velderkaust, is wedded to some evil chappy by her Uncle for money. She escapes, and finds her way home in a state of hysteria and rambling about the dead not being one. Notable is that her bride's limbs were seemingly `guided and directed by a spirit unused to the management of bodily machinery'. Where she vanishes to, why, and what exactly is the significance of the rippling water is never explained. It's the not knowing that makes these tales so frightening. There's a lot of psycho-sexual stuff going on in the ghost story genre, but what raises Le Fanu above his peers, including M.R. James, is that he seems to be totally in command of it. He knew EXACTLY what he was on about when he wrote lesbian vampire romp Carmilla, and it's his accute awareness and mastery of his material that makes him a true genius.

Of course, mastery of plot and subtext would be far less interesting without Le Fanu's mastery of prose. For atmosphere, he is a sheer craftsman, but he doesn't spend pages lingering on surroundings like Radcliffe. His wording is a joy to read, devoid of the disgusting monosyllablism that constitutes most modern literature and he doesn't patronise you with annoyingly short sentences either. He represents all the heights of Victorian literature without any of the sentimentalist shortcomings.

The illustrations are an added bonus, but even without them I'd have no reservation in commending the book as one of my favourite reads. If you buy this and M.R. James' 'Collected Ghost Stories', you have the best that the horror genre has to offer.

Black Seas of Infinity: The Best of H.P. Lovecraft
Black Seas of Infinity: The Best of H.P. Lovecraft
by H. P. Lovecraft
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Good single-volume collection, 2 Mar. 2009
Though not as expansive as the recent 'Necronomicon', this was for a few years the best single-volume collection of Lovecraft's works available.

It's printed on quite thin paper (which the yanks seem to prefer for reasons that elude me), but it's not as obtrusive as in some other books you can find on the market. Generally the presentation is quite good, and it doesn't take up too much space on your shelf.

As for the tales themselves, I actually prefer this to 'Necronomicon', simply because it cuts out a lot of the filler. And H.P. Lovecraft wrote a lot of filler. At his best, he took the ideas of Arthur Machen and Algernon Blackwood to heights never before dreamed, but at his worst he writes banal pulp of the worst variety. Even the best of his works lack the subtlety of true masters of the genre like Sheridan Le Fanu or M.R. James, but for easy-reading 'people turn into monsters' type horror, he's pretty much unbeatable.

Most of the usual suspects are here, including his much celebrated 'Call Of Cthulu', which may be the most influential horror story of the 20th century. All in all, whilst he may be vastly over-rated, Lovecraft rightly deserves a place in the same rankings as Walter De La Mare and Robert Aickman as one of the 20th century's most important horror writers. If you're after a single edition of his works, but don't wanna go for the 800 page 'Necronomicon', this is quite a handsome buy.

The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton (Tales of Mystery & The Supernatural)
The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton (Tales of Mystery & The Supernatural)
by Edith Wharton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £2.99

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great stories by a great writer, 25 Jan. 2009
To my knowledge, this is the first complete paperback collection of Edith Wharton's ghost stories, and a solid collection it is too. There are the famed chillers 'Afterwards' and 'The Triumph Of Night', but even the weaker tales have their merits, which is what raises Wharton above many of the other authors who wrote horror in the style of Henry James (by whom the tales in this volume are very clearly influenced).

Her stories are completely devoid of antiquarians and scholars, as in the modern ghost story tradition, being concerned instead with inter-personal relationships and the way the supernatural impinges on them. The deconstruction of the husband-wife relationship in 'Pomegranate Seed' is a good example of this, in its examination of the wife's fear of the-other-woman. Wharton is at her best when she's at her most under-stated, whereas her weakest work is when she merely recycles gothic staples. 'The Eyes' for example, with it's looming evil eyes that appear by a bed, isn't sufficiently chilling for a modern reader.

The prose is surprisingly accessible. You don't need a humanities degree to enjoy Edith Wharton's stories, so if you're new to ghost stories I think you'll find her work more easy going than some of the other NAME writers. There's a nice balance of description and dialogue and the issues she addresses, for these are stories about people first and ghosts second, are universal. She doesn't have command of the chilling structure of Le Fanu, but her endings are always enjoyable and give you a good sense of the "ah, so that's it", which any good short must do.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable book. Great for a rainy Saturday afternoon and I'd say it's an obligatory purchase for anyone who likes a good ghost story. Of the few truly great American ghost story writers, Edith Wharton is very, very near the top.

Couching at the Door (Wordsworth Mystery & Supernatural) (Tales of Mystery & the Supernatural)
Couching at the Door (Wordsworth Mystery & Supernatural) (Tales of Mystery & the Supernatural)
by D. K. Broster
Edition: Paperback

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vastly under-rated writer of the macabre..., 25 Jan. 2009
The lack of high regard for D.K. Broster's supernatural writings is an enigma. I suppose during the hey-dey of the ghost story, many women writers were overlooked due to the politics of the time. Whilst today women writers in this tradition are only celebrated if their stories ramble on about how oppressed women are for 30 pages (again, politics of the time). More's the pity, for their is some truly great material here.

D.K. Broster's supernatural tales are very eclectic in style. The title story, about an artist who's suffering demonic visitations by some slug-like creature recalls some of Sheridan Le Fanu's finest works, especially 'Green Tea' and 'The Familiar'. 'From The Abyss' on the other hand, is a very subtle tale of doubling, which has strong shades of Henry James about it. There's a good balance between the traditional and the psychological in this book, all of which make for great winter reading (preferably, of course, by a roaring fire).

Broster's prose is void of the banal simplicity of most 20th century fiction and her sentences are a joy to read. Her style feels much closer to that of the Victorian period that typical post-war literature, making it all the more enjoyable. Some of her stories have quite clear points to them, others are far more ambiguous and uncertain, which means 'Couching At The Door' has a wide range of appeal.

All in all, I'd say D.K. Broster is one of the greatest rare gems. Her stories linger in your mind for a long-time afterward due to the unanswered questions they pose, and their psychological intrigue. For £2.99 you can't go wrong with this.

The Complete Wandering Ghosts
The Complete Wandering Ghosts
by F. Marion Crawford
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic of supernatural fiction, 28 Dec. 2008
F. Marion Crawford's short ghost stories were written, essentially, to earn him some extra cash whilst he worked full-time on his novels. Like many of the best horror writers of the 19th century, Crawford was a story-teller first, horror expert second. Such is always the best approach.

The two frequently anthologised tales here 'The Upper Berth' and 'The Screaming Skull' need little introduction. M.R. James held high opinion of them, indeed you can see a lot of Jamesian ideas in most of Crawford's work. The way he subtly introduces the horror gradually, and often does it with implication rather than graphic description. 'Man Overboard', a brilliant over-looked tale if ever there was one, does this exquisitely, as it details a haunting taking place on board a ship. Who or what is it that walks the deck at night? And why does it apparently have a red face? Questions raised, answers vaguely given, chills delivered aplenty. 'By The Waters Of Paradise' is also worth a mention, and is delightfully subtle in how it weaves the supernatural into what is essentially a love story. 'The Dead Smile' on the other hand is uber-Gothic, almost Radcliffian, demonstrating the diversity of Crawford's tastes and abilities.

Such a shame there's only eight tales here, for Crawford, alas, wrote no more. He'll never be ranked alongside masters like Walter De La Mare, J. Sheridan Le Fanu, or M.R. James, but he's at least as good as many second-tier writers like Vernon Lee, E.F. Benson, and Bernard Capes. Most importantly, he really knows how to creep you out with absolute minimalism. One of the best collections of Victorian horror that money can buy...

Madam Crowl's Ghost & Other Stories (Tales of Mystery & The Supernatural)
Madam Crowl's Ghost & Other Stories (Tales of Mystery & The Supernatural)
by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
Edition: Paperback
Price: £2.99

10 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Le Fanu = God. It's that simple., 6 Nov. 2008
Above James, above Onions, above Aickman, above anyone, Le Fany is the master. The escalation of his tales to the point of crescendo marks the work of a true genious who never ruined his tales by explaining what was going on in them. This collection of tales, handpicked by fellow ghost story maestro M.R. James, features some of his finest stories. Particularly chilling was 'Sir Dominick's Bargain', which has a brilliant and chilling twist that sets the hairs on my back up straight just by thinking of it. Almost 150 years after he's died, no one has yet done the ghost story genre better than J. Sheridan Le Fany. Essential reading.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 29, 2009 12:00 PM GMT

Rhoda Broughton's Ghost Stories and Other Tales of Mystery and Suspense
Rhoda Broughton's Ghost Stories and Other Tales of Mystery and Suspense
by Rhoda Broughton
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rhoda Broughton does her uncle Le Fanu proud!!!, 6 Nov. 2008
Rhoda Broughton, neice to J. Sheridan Le Fanu, is a veritable 'exhibit A' in any arguement suggesting that talent is down to genealogy.

These twelve tales, two of which are mysteries rather than ghost stories, are some of the best I've read of her era. Comparable in many ways to J.H. Riddell, in that Broughton rarely explains why the events in her story are occuring, she's an expert at making the spine chill and few of her stories are predictable.

Apart from her obsession with insisting the events depicted in her tales are true, she's extremely readable, with a sense of prose that always invites intrigue. Particularly I enjoyed 'The Man with the Nose', which has a great many similarities with her uncle's masterpiece 'Schalken the Painter'. This is a great collection of very folkloric feeling ghost stories. If you see it going anywhere second hand, it's an essential purchase.
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