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SL-N/1973 (UK)

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You'd Like To Admit It
You'd Like To Admit It
Price: £0.79

1.0 out of 5 stars Poor quality., 20 Aug. 2014
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It's hard to find Rodriguez tracks which aren't on his two albums or the soundtrack Searching For Sugar Man, so I was glad to find this. Sadly the sound quality is atrocious. Strangely, the music is not so fuzzy and muddy, but the vocal sounds like it was done on a dodgy tape and copied to the tenth generation. Very poor.

The Forsaken: From the Great Depression to the Gulags: Hope and Betrayal in Stalin's Russia
The Forsaken: From the Great Depression to the Gulags: Hope and Betrayal in Stalin's Russia
by Tim Tzouliadis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.79

5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely jaw-dropping., 9 Mar. 2014
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If this was fiction, it'd be roundly condemned by the left as a right-wing exercise in demonising (even further) the Stalin years. But it actually happened, and is all the more stunning for it. I was gripped from the first page, not just by the shocking historical aspect and the resilience of human nature, but by the way a certain kind of people don't change. Apologists, bad diplomats, and hand-wringers from the capitalist Western countries appear every now and then in Stalin's elite social circles, completely out of their depth, thoroughly blinkered and trying hard to give credibility on an international platform to his psychotic regime. That reminded me of Blair cosy-ing up to Ghadaffi, or Galloway sucking up to Saddam Hussein and Castro, and a lot of politicians or 'celebs' over the decades who've done similar acts (dictators throughout Africa line them up). It's a list which goes on and on, and I add FIFA to that list as well (read up on Argentina 1978 and the vile regime back then). Evil people come and go, but books like this add new stories which need telling and will hopefully be in print for many years.

The Abbey Road Sessions
The Abbey Road Sessions
Offered by MediaMine
Price: £4.29

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Vanessa Paradis did it better, 16 Feb. 2014
This review is from: The Abbey Road Sessions (Audio CD)
It's an okay album overall, but it's blatantly following in the footsteps of Vanessa Paradis' well received (in France, anyway) highly credible album (and dvd) Une Nuit A Versailles from a couple of years previously. VP rearranged her career-spanning hits and some album tracks into acoustic, occasionally jazzy pieces, varied the tempo of most and then toured with a small, superb band. And she did it in black and white with just the occasional hint of colour. Does that remind you of anything?
So no doubt Kylie's management team saw this and thought the venture was worth emulating, and here we are. I wonder who's going to do it next? Probably Celine Dion, unless Madonna gets there first.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 7, 2014 8:46 PM GMT

Far Cry 3 (PS3)
Far Cry 3 (PS3)
Offered by Fame_Game
Price: £14.45

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good graphics, utterly rubbish storyline., 15 Dec. 2013
This review is from: Far Cry 3 (PS3) (Video Game)
Having enjoyed Far Cry 2 and judged all other stealthy adventures against it, I was very very keen to get this long awaited game. Turned out to be a disappointment. The look of the game was very good for the most part, although there were glitches throughout. For example, ammunition bundles floating in mid air, animals and enemy troops getting stuck in flickering loops, grass panels floating above the land, and rocks being in the way one moment, and then flickering out of the way upon contact. But other than those the rest was good PS3 stuff except for the repetition of the cut-scenes and the lack of 'Skip Scene' facility, which quickly became annoying.
What really frustrated me was that it became obvious very early on that this is one of those games where the bad guys come and go once they've entertained you for the required amount of the plot to have developed. So the heavily promoted, genuinely scary psycho from the front cover, Vaas, is causing big trouble to start with - and then gone before you know it in a massive anti-climax of a tussle. The replacement bad guys don't stick around either. The missions come and go, even on the toughest 'Master' level, and the blend of drugged-out jungle foolery, poor plot and militia-base assaults felt held together with string.
And that brings me to the story. Take a bunch of useless, over-sincere spoilt 90210 types without a brain between them and put them in peril. Throw in a bad guy running a drugs operation and his countless minions (cannon-fodder troops), plus a mysterious, downtrodden tribe and some genuinely awful, toe-curling dialogue, and you have this. Our hero is a dimwit city boy, a victim of bad writing who even talks to himself in order to explain what's going on.
And then it was all over, ending with a 'stay' or 'go' dilemma. Was it worth all the effort? No. Am I going to play it again, like I did with Far Cry 2? No. Is it being traded in tomorrow? Yes.
Another reviewer said it was as if the B Team had worked on this, and that sums up Far Cry 3 perfectly.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 30, 2014 9:03 PM BST

Magic Time
Magic Time
Offered by Quality Media Supplies Ltd.
Price: £23.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Laid back and very classy., 6 Nov. 2013
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This review is from: Magic Time (Audio CD)
I heard Stranded and Celtic New Year (from this album) on a Van Morrison Best Of double cd and really liked them so I tracked down the parent cd they came from - but then I read some negative reviews and comments on Amazon. But never one to be swayed by a rant I still went ahead and bought it. And I'm glad I did, it's in my top 3 of Van Morrison albums. I've played it a lot in the month since it arrived and so far it just gets better. Very laid back, largely jazzy and bluesy with a hint of folk thrown in here and there, and has a definite live feel to it as if the musicians were recording some tracks in one take (after a few rehearsals). This cd ticks all the right boxes for me and I'd recommend it to anyone who even vaguely likes Van Morrison.

Live At The Sydney Opera House
Live At The Sydney Opera House
Price: £7.58

3.0 out of 5 stars Too many medleys., 4 Sept. 2013
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I've seen Burt Bacharach live and it was my absolute favourite concert, and the show was around two and a half hours long. In that time he did include two or three medleys because he has such a tremendous back catalogue to cover, and therefore keep his audience very happy indeed by referencing so many hits. And in the context of a full 150minute show, the medleys are perfectly okay. But in a live cd, which has to be trimmed down to an hour, the medleys here are given too much prominence and dominate to the extent that it sounds like a "Greatest Snippets" show. There's at least three medleys, cranking out a minute or so (sometimes less) of many songs we all know so well. I find this very frustrating. I wouldn't mind one medley or at a push two, fitted into the time available on a single cd, but there's just too many here. Look at the times on the mp3 downloads and decide for yourself. I'd prefer the other songs of the set which were played in full to be given a proper airing rather than being left out completely. So I give this cd 3 stars, but I give the concert which I attended around a billion!

Remember the Seventies
Remember the Seventies
Price: £11.09

2.0 out of 5 stars Remember The 70s? They forgot 98% of it!, 2 Sept. 2013
This review is from: Remember the Seventies (Hardcover)
As a child of the 70s I was drawn to this, having read some very wordy political volumes on the decade recently. The problem as always with these pictorial nostalgia books is not so much what is included, but what's left out. In this fairly random skip through the decade there are (strangely) plenty of issues regarding terrorism, Israel, and plenty of African coups, French presidents, the IRA and Jimmy Carter. As for sport there is one World Cup (four pages given to the 1974 final?), Chris Evert is the one female tennis player at Wimbledon (gets pictured twice), Bjorn Borg and Jimmy Connors appear once. Punk is worshipped as always, Mrs Thatcher appears three or four times, and half a dozen films ranging from the box-office turkeys to successes earn a photo each. So a lot is missing.
In politics, there is no mention at all of Wilson, Callaghan or Castle, Ted Heath is only there in passing, Dennis Healey is totally overlooked, as are the trade unions' endless strikes, the powercuts, the militant destruction of the decade and the resultant winter of discontent. Not a single picture, for some reason.
In sport there's a real lack of everything - no mention of the 1970 or 78 World Cups, no FA Cups or league, no European adventures, no Formula One, no cricket, no Grand Nationals, no golf, no boxing (other than Ali/Foreman), very little tennis, no inexplicably popular wrestling, you get the idea. TV shows are criminally overlooked as well. No 70s classics, not even Tiswas!

I do appreciate that a book would need to be the size of a truck to include a decade's worth of news and pictures, and therefore that's where a bit of planning would have come in useful by the publisher. The compilers could have covered so much if each year was given a proper format which could be followed again and again as the decade passes. It could have started in 1970 with the year's hit films, tv shows, main sporting events, best selling albums and singles, the year's main political moves at home and abroad, and technology. That would stop the randomness and undue emphasise given to certain areas while ignoring others.

As for the dvd, don't be taken in by such a badly produced gimmick - it has a total running time of 31 minutes and is bizarre in its article choices. It contains from one to four very brief news articles randomly plucked from each year, many with the voice-over removed and replaced by either tacky music or just the original background sound from wherever it was filmed. Some of the pieces are simply hand held camera footage which would have gone nowhere near a news broadcast, eg Jimmy Carter's brief soundbite on winning the presidency. Some articles last less than 30 seconds, the rest are either one or (just under) two minutes long. The whole decade is crammed, year by year, into a dvd which lasts only half an hour which therefore allows three minutes per year - so why spend so long on the Bloody Sunday riot and subsequent shooting and funerals? It gets vastly more attention than anything else, and devours the available time. And for the record, mine froze on the 1975 title page when I tried going through this individually, rather than 'Play All'. You're far better off looking up each year on YouTube.

If you can buy this very cheaply, and you're in the mood for a haphazard collection of snaps, it is interesting in places. But not that many.

Mandela: A Biography
Mandela: A Biography
by Martin Meredith
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.81

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Covers much ground, some a bit too lightly., 16 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: Mandela: A Biography (Paperback)
This is a pretty good biography, the latest one in a series of politicians I've been reading lately ranging from Stalin to Mrs Thatcher. It's certainly worth reading, and does cover a lot of ground in a very engaging manner.
My reason for not giving it four stars or more is that it doesn't give enough information about the reasons why the South African government kept introducing the extremist rules and regulations in the decades leading up to the late 1950s in particular. These were the very important pre-aparteid and early-aparteid years which saw the most jaw-dropping repression, exclusion and segregationism come into being, but at no stage did the author convey to me what the SA government was responding to. It seems, as I approached page 100, that I was reading one severe law being passed after another as if each draconian rule was plucked out of thin air by an extremist band of largely nameless politicians. I was hoping to find out what the politicians were responding to, what led to the mindset of those in charge for decade after decade, and how such harsh laws and social restrictions were ever justified through their parliamentary process.

Also, I would like to have had some statements expanded upon. For example, in the late 1940s when Mandela was in his formative ANC years I read that the sizeable Indian community had a similar disdain for the African community as the whites did, and there were times when many communities, be they Afrikaner, Black, Coloured and so on, had to be kept seperate. How come? And then it became law in the 1950s to keep them apart. I assume there must be some kind of history of conflict or whatever there, but it's not really expanded upon. So there was a lot of racist legislation spewing forth from the SA parliament in the first 100 pages, there was a lot of tensions between all parts of the society to deal with, but very little as to the initial causes, which frustrated me. It was a case of hearing of the laws arriving for page after page as responses but very little (if anything) of the causes.

The terrorist atrocities of the ANC in the late 70s and much of the 80s are hardly mentioned. I was dumbstruck and thoroughly cross at what was left out. Did Mandela know what his own organisation was up to? Of course he did, after all as the 80s went by he was the one the South African government still treated as its leader, the international community was already deifying him as such, and he was a very, very long way from being a 'forgotten' prisoner. He refused to call an end to the violence in the 70s and repeatedly in the 80s but the author here avoids pointing out the consequences of his refusal. Even Mandela himself acknowledges the death certificates he effectively signed by doing so. But here, nothing happened which is worthy of more than a scant line of reference if it even gets mentioned at all. Take a look on the internet, the pictures are horrific.

Another area which is not explored is the personal wealth and where it all came from (besides the autobiography sales). When he and Winnie divorced in 94 she demanded about 6million dollars, which at the time was around half of his fortune. That figure doesn't get a mention, and the divorce itself is quickly dealt with. Most of the ANC corruption, which is legendary and a standard part of any book on South Africa and its leaders, does get raised near the end but more 'in passing' than in detail. Rather like Winnie Mandella's countless misdemeanours, which are worthy of a book of their own!

But other than that, it's a book worth reading which is written in a very fluent, engaging manner. It's okay, despite the pot holes.

The Treasures of the World Cup
The Treasures of the World Cup
by Keir Radnedge
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely superb, it's essential for fans!, 4 Aug. 2013
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This book is what you get when football devotees and a brave publisher join forces to produce something for fans of the game. It is absolutely stunning! Each World Cup is given four to eight pages for all the background, who the main players were, the stadiums, the results and either controversies or triumphs.
But the real joy is in the extras. For each tournament we're given the most faithfully reproduced souvenir items I have ever seen, carefully held in place either as a pocket (expenively done) within the page or as a greaseproof sleeve or of-the-time envelope. For some tournaments there are repro Panini stickers of players and teams, some are match tickets done so well they look real, many have full prints of the referee's typed match reports, others show fascinating first-day covers, and for Mexico 70 there's an actual-size four page newspaper fold out. And the best news of all is that all these items are printed to look as authentic as possible, whether it's the sketches on brown paper from Uruguay 1930 or the battered envelope holding the tickets for a final. And you get both sides of the item, so if you were to look at Spain 82's half a dozen stadium cards, you flip them over and there's the match figures. And that's the case for every single World Cup - the extra items look real, both sides of the paper or card are printed on (which made a Panini obsessed lad like I was, very happy indeed!) and made my mind boggle at the obsessive attention to detail shown by the designers and publisher. I think, dare I say it, there are people out there who respect the game and the fans! If only the same could be said of the World Cup dvd's, but that's another matter.
I'm not sure how long this book will be availabe, so I would implore any football fan to bite the bullet and add it to your shelves. It pleased me like a kid on Xmas morning, and I 100% promise you won't be disappointed. I only stumbled across this on Amazon out of desperation having bought a couple of utterly dire books recently, and abysmally poor dvd's of the 1982 and 1974 World Cup final matches. Suddenly I'm one very happy fan!

Angels At My Shoulder
Angels At My Shoulder
Price: £9.49

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hmm., 4 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: Angels At My Shoulder (Audio CD)
It's a good, crisp sounding performance and the musicians are on form behind Leonard Cohen of course. The audience does sound like a dozen people who happened to be there, which struck me as odd, and the occasional intrusive added voice-over to tell me it's a live recording being broadcast on Radio-whatever-its-name-is was entirely unnecessary. It appears (for example) at the end of a very good rendition of Dance Me To The End Of Love, and completely spoils the preceding six minutes of gentle, melodic joy. Overall it's worth having because ultimately the voice is good, the band are excellent and the songs work well, but there are far better live ones out there. Ones without someone telling me what radio station it was on!!

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