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David P. Weber (North Fremantle)

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Golden Boy: Kim Hughes and the Bad Old Days of Australian Cricket
Golden Boy: Kim Hughes and the Bad Old Days of Australian Cricket
by Christian Ryan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SIMPLY BRILLIANT, 25 Jan. 2012
This is one of the best available books on the world cricket scene.

The subject matter is Kim Hughes, one of the truly excellent natural players that Australia has produced.

It focuses on how the performance of a national sports team can be affected by certain archaic belief systems... and cruelled by Australia's tall poppy syndrome (fuelled by jealousy and personal prejudices).

It's well researched, with all of the major figures approached, and most of them interviewed. The emergence of World Series Cricket is dealt with expertly.

The author exhibits a remarkable turn of phrase and writing is always lively. Even the accounts of Hughes' matches as a youngster drive you to the edge of your seat!

I bought this book in Australia and have found it so satisfying that I wanted to tell the world! Well, the Amazon world, anyway...

Low Budget
Low Budget

3.0 out of 5 stars ONE OF THEIR BIGGEST, 6 Dec. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Low Budget (Audio CD)
This ended up being quite a healthy seller for The Kinks as they cracked The United States.

Ray's lyrics are top-notch, with some great little turns, and there's more of the Dave Davies riff here than at any time since the very early days.

This was meant to be played in stadiums and the sound is big and ballsy.

It remains a crucial part of The Kinks' story, and completists need this LP.

But if you're after something more satisfying from this period, and don't want to go the whole distance, pick up SLEEPWALKER or MISFITS instead.

Preservation Act 2
Preservation Act 2
Price: £7.30

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars THREE STARS IF YOU'RE A SERIOUS KINKS FAN, 6 Dec. 2011
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This review is from: Preservation Act 2 (Audio CD)
This is a hit-and-miss affair. Ray was getting too ambitious in what he perceived a rock band could actually achieve. The backstory to this whole project is interesting in itself. Yet the resultant music fails to make for compelling listening.

There's little doubt that the best songs from this and the preceding PRESERVATION would've made an awesome single Kinks LP... one can only imagine what contemporary fans at the time were taking from the listening experience when this actually came out. The reviews were pretty bad, that's for sure.

So three stars for the bits that are good, which were fuelled by high expectations.

But if you're not a Kinks fan, consider the rating to be ONE star.

When The Eagle Flies [Us Import]
When The Eagle Flies [Us Import]
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £8.47

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars MYSTERIOUS CODA TO A GREAT GROUP, 1 Nov. 2011
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Traffic are one of those Seventies bands that no-one has copied. In this sense, the group stands in the esteemed company of Steely Dan, 10cc and Supertramp.

This is a little-recognized album which doesn't gain the garlands of Traffic's earlier work. The band was winding down and there's that certain vibe in the music. There's a feeling of pulling away. Winwood sounds almost distracted on occasion. While this hardly makes for what you would describe as 'powerful' or even 'inventive' music, the uncertainty feeds into a distinctive sound infused with pastoral textures.

Newcomers should start with the first two albums, or if you wanna give their psych period a miss, jump on with John Barleycorn. Obviously, it's a must for those who've taken the Traffic journey through the other LPs.

The sound is up to the standard of the other Traffic remasters.

Crimea (Allen Lane History)
Crimea (Allen Lane History)
by Orlando Figes
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HIGH QUALITY-- BUT A FEW QUIBBLES, 10 Oct. 2011
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There is no better modern work on The Crimean War.

I think Figes could have spent less time on the lead-up to the conflict, even though it is all quite interesting, as it concerns names and places unfamiliar to the lay Western reader (or Australian reader).. the author himself admits that it is almost superfluous-- he virtually encourages readers interested in the conflict itself to skip the first part of the book!

And The Charge Of The Light Brigade is given short shrift. Yes, I understand that its legend as the war's most terrible, useless and costly British blunder is undeserved and overstated (mainly due to very inaccurate press accounts at the time). As a military failure, it didn't compare with the British mix-ups in the latter part of the siege of Sevastopol.

But the Light Brigade charge is inextricably linked to The Crimean War, in the same way as the persona of Florence Nightingale and the Russian adherence to the heroes of the Sevastopol siege.

Figes' work on the legacy of the war, in the final part of the book, is first class. It surely would have been worthwhile to closely compare the truth with the myth of The Charge Of the Light Brigade (there I am giving it capitalization, such is its power!)..

Nevertheless, the book is still one of the best war histories to be released in recent times.

Made In Heaven (2011 Remaster: Deluxe Edition)
Made In Heaven (2011 Remaster: Deluxe Edition)
Price: £7.80

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars THE LAST AND THE LEAST, 2 Oct. 2011
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This is the Queen album in least need of remastering, as it originally came out in the mid-1990s. There are some of us who wish it didn't come out in the first place.

Queen famously never left much on the cutting room floor. There's unlikely to ever be a Queen Bootleg Series, or if there is, it won't throw up much that we haven't heard before in some shape or form. So when the prospect of 'Made In Heaven' was raised in the wake of Freddie's death, Queen fans hoped this meant there was a full LP's worth of songs that the irreplaceable lead singer had laid down.

Far from it. This album consists of a couple of newish songs, revamped solo songs, renewed Cross songs, and reheated rehearsal work. And there's a macabre, loose theme, which concerns nothing less than birth, life and death. 'I Was Born To Love You', 'Let Me Live', 'Too Much Love Will Kill You', 'My Life Has Been Saved', 'Heaven For Everyone', 'Made In Heaven' and 'A Winter's Tale'.

They all date from across the previous 15 years and are good songs, given the full Queen treatment. 'Let Me Live' is notable for being one of the very few Queen songs which feature all three lead vocalists singing their own parts (the others are 'March Of The Black Queen', 'Rock It (Prime Jive)' and-- if you include Roger's scream-- 'I Go Crazy').

May's guitar is very prominent throughout, and this is a good thing. He soars in the clouds during the reprise of 'It's A Beautiful Day'. The best track on the album, however, is 'Mother Love'. It's simply awesome, and it's given added weight as reportedly being the last vocal Freddie recorded.

The final ambient piece simply can't be described or explained. It's worth the price of admission alone.

On the other hand, 'You Don't Fool Me' has shades of what they were doing in 1982 and while it isn't bad, the song doesn't really fit with the life-death-love theme.

The annoying thing is how bits of old Queen songs keep popping up.

The reprise of 'It's A Beautiful Day' is probably an appropriate place to drop in parts of 'Seven Seas Of Rhye' and whatever else. But all over the album, we hear samples of 'A Kind Of Magic', the live version of 'One Vision', and 'Goin' Back', for heaven's sake. Maybe Queen were saying, hey, everyone's sampling everyone else (and us), so we'll just sample ourselves.

The thing is that we KNEW it was the last we'd hear from the classic lineup of Queen, so why lay it on? They should've finished with 'Innuendo' (one of their best), and then put out a rarities album.

Perhaps the original release really needs to be seen in the context of money-making exercises like 'Live Magic', the 'Rocks' CD of 1997, the musical, and recent developments which may lead to a series of official Queen cover bands.

The extras include the original 'Miracle' era b-side version of 'My Life Has Been Saved', which was an arresting song the first time around. The vocal & piano version of 'Born To Love You' appears to be the earliest recording of what was an original Freddie solo song, yet this isn't made entirely clear. 'Rock In Rio Blues' is thoroughly useless, and is little more than a 'had to be there' moment.

It still gets three stars, though, because for all the moments of bad taste, it's very rewarding listening overall. And-- at this point-- it's still Queen.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 5, 2011 3:26 PM BST

The Miracle (2011 Remaster: Deluxe Edition)
The Miracle (2011 Remaster: Deluxe Edition)
Price: £9.45

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ALMOST THEIR LAST, 2 Oct. 2011
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Queen hadn't put out new material for years. The 'Kind Of Magic' album had an epic, dark sound but was a bit confusing as its songs were tied to films. Then there was the heavily edited 'Live Magic' LP.

'The Miracle' was the first full album since 'The Works' which showed a unified commitment to new songs in their own right (if you forget that 'Keep Passing The Open Windows' was also written for a film).

Queen were said to have returned to heavy rock and the strong lead single 'I Want It All' really sounded like it. Yet the album went on to exhibit the band's devotion to exploring synthesizers.

The album cover is utterly fabulous; kitsch and cool at the same time, which is what this band were all about.

The opening song sounds like Freddie's voice exercises being tracked closely together. 'Khashoggi's Ship' is BARELY a song-- Brian May finds a new sound on his guitar and milks it while Freddie ad libs about an imaginary (or not) party on a boat owned by a notorious arms dealer.

The title track is pretty cheezy but serves up the triple vocals we know and love. 'The Invisible Man' was a surprise when it was heard on the original release date-- and 'Breakthru' provides Disney-like harmonies over a cool, washy set of chords. 'Scandal' sports a wailing riff, which is unfortunately underscored by needless electronics.

When this album was released, thecloser 'Was It All Worth It' sounded like a kiss off to the industry. What we didn't know then was that Mercury was HIV positive, and the band thought this LP could very well have been their last.

Of the extras, 'Hang On In There' is better than some songs which made the album proper. The heavy instrumental 'Chinese Torture' is too short!

Then there's the b-side, 'Stealin''. It's absolutely brilliant from beginning to end. Where else can you hear Freddie conjuring up his best Delta blues voice to exclaim "Baby, let it bleed"...? Sometimes the best Queen tracks ('I Go Crazy') were relegated to b-sides.

The same can't be said for 'Hijack My Heart', which was notable in '89 for hosting the first Taylor lead vocal for several years. It's one of the worst tracks Queen did, and is essential listening for that reason alone.

We get the highly synthesized 12 of 'Invisible Man', but not the long version of 'Breakthru', which is surely lurking out there somewhere. Are May and Taylor hanging onto a few 12 inch versions for a separate release?

The album's not as good as 'The Works' or 'Innuendo'. But it's better than 'Hot Space', and more wholesome than 'A Kind Of Magic'.

So why four stars?

Because the remaster is pretty great. And after all, it's Queen.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 21, 2012 11:43 PM BST

Price: £7.74

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars MUSIC GREAT, REPRODUCTION POOR, 13 Sept. 2011
This review is from: Gold (Audio CD)
The music is fantastic and the selection virtually flawless.

But the songs on this double sound like mp3s.

The production on the original Traffic albums was very good.

Go and get the remasters from the late 1990s and early 2000s and you'll hear the difference.

This is a good primer for Traffic, but little else and it's not a good substitute for what's available in better formats.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 11, 2012 7:57 PM BST

Price: £15.47

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars FOR FANS OF A CERTAIN KIND OF YES, 7 Sept. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Talk (Audio CD)
Warning-- I got this thinking it was a 2009 version. Aside, from what Amazon says in the product details, there's nothing to suggest it has any relationship to that year. The dates on the case and disc are 1994, and 2002. It's crisp and clear-sounding, but it ain't no 2009 remaster.

Amazon should remove the '2009' because it is misleading.

Anyway, if you're a fan of the '90125' era of Yes, then you can plonk down for this without fear. It's Yes West, the band that pulled together in the early 1980s and released two excellent LPs under the auspices of Trevor Rabin.

Many fans of the earlier Yes don't ackowledge this version of the band, despite the presence of three founding members (Anderson, Kaye and Squire), and Alan White from the so-called Classic Lineup.

Sure, the sound is markedly different. But what would've happened to Yes if they'd gone into the 1980s relatively intact? Would they have sounded this good in the mid-1990s?

This is a matter for debate, and perhaps it is time to start a university course on this. If anyone out there is interested, and is prepared to offer enough financial reward, I would gladly offer my services to argue the 'pro' case.

Primary Colours
Primary Colours
Price: £7.22

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars ONCE UPON A TIME..., 5 Sept. 2011
This review is from: Primary Colours (Audio CD)
...There was a band called The Psychedelic Furs.

They did this first, and best.

The Horrors are fine with what they're doing but if you've heard it all before, why bother?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 12, 2014 12:22 PM GMT

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