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Andy P, Broughton Astley "andyalfa156"

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The Stone Man - A Science Fiction Thriller
The Stone Man - A Science Fiction Thriller
Price: £2.32

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From the everyday to downright surreal in a few steps., 10 Jun. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Set in a familiar place (the Midlands) at a familiar time (as in now), the story starts with everyday life as we know it, but in a few short steps, turns into anything but. Not perhaps as surreal as the first novel (The Physics of the Dead, also set in the Coventry of today), but this story is gripping, relentless and (to coin a phrase) unputdownable. Hard to believe this is only the second novel by a talented young writer (though there are other works, all of which have recently found their way onto my Kindle), who seamlessly combines the everyday banality of life with the downright weird world of indestructible walking statues on a mission.

Highly recommended!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 5, 2016 5:55 PM GMT

Sweet Tea
Sweet Tea

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep Down and Dirty, 1 Dec. 2005
This review is from: Sweet Tea (Audio CD)
Of all the albums I have in my collection, this one that stands out as perhaps my favourite blues recording. It vies for top spot with Albert King and SRV's "In Session" though the two are totally different in style and character. "In session" is based around the familiar 12 bar blues, albeit featuring some of the best of the genre I have ever heard. Sweet Tea, on the other hand, couldn't be more different. It blows that tradition clean out of the water. This is the album that the phrase deep, down and dirty was invented for.
What Buddy has done, is to strip and disassemble the music down to its most basic ingredients in order to recapture the fundamental spirit underlying black music. The result is an album that taps down to the primordial blues core in us all. Sweet Tea actively engages you, taking you over, body and soul before lifting you to another dimension.
It is raw, uncompromising, distorted and totally over the top, yet somehow it hangs together, capturing the very essence of what blues is really about. It is often said that the blues is the Devil's music and if it's true, then ol' Lucifer can have my soul for nothing. I may end up in hell for saying it but all of my friends will be there and we'll have a ball listening to Sweet Tea in the elevator on the way down. Forget the overproduced albums of the 80's and 90's; this is the real thing.
"I Done Got Old" written by Junior Kimbrough, kicks the album off in a melancholy mood with Buddy reflecting on reaching the milestone of 65. Quiet, soulful and moving it may be, but when he says he "can't do the things I used to do", don't you believe it. From the moment "Baby Please Don't Leave Me" is counted in, the whole ambience changes from one man and his guitar to a dark and menacing electric blues with a bassline so powerful, intense and utterly dirty, my first reaction was check my lovely new speakers for damage.
Although the 12 bar song structure forms the basis for many of the tracks in the album, these tunes come across as anything but "standard". The rough, crude sound found on "Tramp" and "She's Got the Devil In Her" for instance, takes them far beyond what you may come to expect from mere mortals. However, for me, the best tracks are those offering freedom from the constraints of the I, VI, V progression giving a guitarist of Buddy's stature the flexibility to take the tunes beyond mere melody.
The best example is his interpretation of another Junior Kimbrough's track "I Gotta Try You Girl", which epitomises not only the dark and demonic feel of the music but positively crackles with sweaty energy. It not so much fades in, but emerges half formed from a primeval swamp, like a B movie horror monster crawling towards you. It holds you transfixed, unable to turn away from the sound that engulfs you. This is an unstoppable guitar mantra that throbs and pulsates over the course of the next 12 minutes, evolving into set of blues riffs that envelop and overwhelm the listener with the sheer power and majesty of the music.
Buddy Guy won a Grammy for this album, and I can't say I'm surprised. What he has done is produce the single most wonderful blues album of all time...probably. To coin a cliché, if Carlsberg made blues albums, this is it.

To Tulsa And Back
To Tulsa And Back

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The perfect antidote to modern living, 24 Nov. 2005
This review is from: To Tulsa And Back (Audio CD)
From the first beat of the opener “My Gal”, I found myself in familiar territory. A wonderful, laid-back JJ Cale world where the roads are empty, the beer is cold and life hums along to the lazy burble of a big V8. The problem is that the more I listened, the more I was convinced that it wasn’t quite firing on all cylinders. Not that the album is in any way poor, it’s just that I have one or two minor niggles about what could have been a really top-notch CD.
I like my blues to be played by real musicians not machines. Half of the songs on “To Tulsa and Back” feature a live band and the other half are solo efforts by Cale himself. This is a mix that he has used successfully since his 1972 debut “Naturally”. Thing is though, the unaccompanied tracks on this album are backed by the slightly synthetic sound of a drum machine. For the most part, this didn’t matter. “Stone River” in particular was well played and the essential feel of the music combined with Cale’s legendary gravelly voice meant that I barely noticed the band weren’t there anymore.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t to last. Things came to a head with “Rio”. I was on holiday at the time and every bar on the island featured a keyboard player belting out karaoke versions of old chart hits with a synthesised Latin beat and pre-programmed instruments. “Rio” was just like that, complete with manufactured “brass” section. The familiar cracked and croaking Cale vocals were there as usual, yet even this couldn’t disguise the fact that the music sounded not only false, but also out of place on what was for the most part a blues album. To me it just sounded wrong.
Luckily for me, I didn’t give up, because from Jim Karstein’s first live brush stroke on a real snare drum, “These Blues” got me right back in the groove. What a relief. After the temporary misfire, things smoothed out and just got better and better. “Motormouth” was excellent and when you listen to the words of “Blues for Mama”, you won’t fail to be moved. In the end, I was left feeling that the final banjo picking track “Another Song” came around way too soon.
Incidentally, has anyone else noticed the similarity in guitar and vocal styles between JJ Cale and Britain’s own Mark Knopfler? Take a listen and you’ll see what I mean.

Electric Mud
Electric Mud
Price: £6.21

32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Acid Rain makes Electric Mud, 24 Nov. 2005
This review is from: Electric Mud (Audio CD)
I’ve got a few recordings by the blues legend in my collection, but this is one I missed. In fact, it would have stayed missing had it not been for an episode of the excellent BBC4 series “The Blues”, featuring the story of the original Electric Mud and a modern re-make. Anyway, after watching the archive footage and listening to tracks from the original album, I decided to buy it the next day. Unfortunately, so did a fair few of the other viewers. Imagine now, a company that sells 30, maybe 40 copies of an old blues album a year, suddenly gets requests for thousands all on one day. Just a guess, but maybe that’s why it took over 2 months to arrive.
So when I got back off holiday, the first thing I did was start playing the eagerly awaited disc. On first play, I was a little disappointed. I was listening on headphones due to the lateness of the hour, which maybe didn’t help. Also, the quality of early stereo recordings leaves a bit to be desired and the ‘phones emphasised the left ear only, right ear only stereo effect. The choice of material was good though, and I thought it showed promise. The next day, after catching up on my sleep, I played it again, this time through speakers. Mmmm. Maybe something is stirring here. This is actually quite good. The mix sounded much better; the speakers smoothing out the apparent disjointed nature of the recording and making the vocals breathe more. By the end of the second play, I wanted to put it on repeat for the rest of the evening. I was hooked.
There are only a couple of self penned songs on the album, which consists mostly of well known, yet heavily reworked covers of material by Willie Dixon, Charles Williams and James Cotton. Also included, is a version of Jagger/Richards track “Let's Spend The Night Together”, perhaps as thanks for the Stones taking their name from one of his songs or maybe for covering many of his early hits, helping revive his own career when it was at a low ebb.
Stylistically, the music is very much of the period. Jimi Hendrix was recording Electric Ladyland and Miles Davis released the controversial electric jazz album Bitches Brew around this time and this record sounds very much like a blend of the two. Wailing guitars and funky bass licks provide the backing with Muddy’s monumental voice soaring over them, distorted and full of reverb. Spinetingling stuff now, imagine the impact in 1968.
Thing is, it’s not so much a Muddy Waters record, but a record featuring Muddy Waters, if you know what I mean. This is an album loathed and despised by many blues purists, but I’m not one of those. To me, music is music, and if you listen to this album with an open mind, then the marriage of late 60’s electric jazz and psychedelia with the one of the most distinctive blues voices of them all, produces something quite unique and extraordinary. Just give it the space it needs and enjoy.
Incidentally, the sleeve notes were pretty comprehensive and the pictures of Muddy at the hairdressers, complete with curlers and a hairnet were worth the price of the disk alone. All in all, a cracking album and well worth the paltry eight quid or so it costs.

Power of the Blues
Power of the Blues
Price: £11.78

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Raw Moore, 22 Nov. 2005
This review is from: Power of the Blues (Audio CD)
Those who are familiar with the work of guitarist extraordinaire Gary Moore usually have a fair idea what to expect from one of his albums. When the title of that album is “Power of the Blues”, any remaining doubts are dispelled. You know what you’re going to get, and you won’t be disappointed.
The title track kicks off the album much as it means to go on. Loud, snarling, nasty, distorted, unmistakably Gary Moore, and that is just his voice. The guitar playing is even more extreme. Add in the powerful, towering bass from Bob Daisley and thundering drums from former Primal Scream stick-man Darren Mooney and you have the perfect compliment for Moore’s wonderful balls out, blazing guitar style.
There are ten tracks in all, and apart from a couple of Willie Dixon and Percy Mayfield songs, they are mostly the work of Moore and his band. The quality of writing is such that you’d be hard to tell which are originals and which are covers. All of the songs are strong, even before they are given the full-blown Les Paul treatment, yet he proves time and time again that he can ease back on the throttle when he needs to. The words on the ballad “Torn Inside” in particular are moving and poignant. But when you buy a Gary Moore album, it’s the guitar that is the main attraction, and even on this song with it’s refined and melodic soloing, you can still feel the power.
It reminds me of a story I read about how Eric Clapton got his characteristic overdriven guitar sound on the Bluesbreakers album way back in 1966. It seems he wound it up to gig volume and simply moved it away from the mike. Moore seems to have adopted the same technique, or at least it sounds like he’s playing at full whack at the other end of a stadium.
Overall, the standard of playing on this album ranks along side his very best work. “Power of the Blues” helps bolster his already formidable reputation as one of the finest exponents of the electric guitar around today. If you like his style, you’ll love this album.

Blues Singer
Blues Singer
Price: £5.03

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ahh Condor, 22 Nov. 2005
This review is from: Blues Singer (Audio CD)
This may seem an odd start to an album review, but bear with me, it’s worth it. To folks of a certain age, the concept of the Condor Moment has a special meaning. Following on from the series of adverts for pipe tobacco in the 70’s, the phrase “Ahh, Condor” evokes images of a moment of sublime satisfaction after a stressful, turbulent day. It’s an image I like. They may be quite rare, but when they happen, there’s no mistaking them.
The reason I mention this, is that I recently had one. Imagine the situation. It was a typical English summer’s day. After 2 days of blazing sunshine, it was hot, humid and muggy. The sky was darkening with storm clouds and you’re lounging about, sweating and praying for rain. I’d just put Buddy Guy’s Grammy winning album Blues Singer on the CD player when it arrived. A flash of lightening, a roll of thunder and the first splatter of giant raindrops on the window coincided with the opening bars of track 2, a fantastic acoustic version of the John Lee Hooker classic Crawlin’ King Snake. Close your eyes and there you are. Sat in a rockin’ chair and the veranda of your wooden shack in Mississippi, whittling on a piece of wood and enjoying the cool relief as the storm sweeps by. “Ahh Condor”.
The longer the rain went on, the more I enjoyed the music. The whole album is an entirely acoustic diversion from the raw, heavy, electric sound heard on his 2001 offering Sweet Tea (if you haven’t got it, buy it. It’s brilliant). But don’t think for one minute that the man is mellowing in his old age. OK, so the soaring, strangled, distorted solos from Sweet Tea are missing, but this ain’t no gentle MTV unplugged meandering. This is real blues, played by a master guitarist with a cutting edge that only comes with age and experience. It is seriously good.
The essence of this album lies in the switch from his trademark Polkadot Strat (copies retailing at $799 on Buddy’s website, incidentally), to a more traditional guitar, which significantly alters the mood of his music. This album moves him from a Chicago blues sound (with which Buddy is synonymous) to the more relaxed approach of the delta, but it’s a delta style packed with power and passion which belie the simplified instrumentation.
Of course, stripped of amplification, lesser musicians may struggle. But when you have some of the world’s greatest talent like Eric Clapton and BB King plucking the strings, then the lack of electrical diversions allow the skill and dexterity of these superb guitarists to stand out.
And the motivation for this acoustic offering? On the inside of the back cover is a simple dedication. To the memory of John Lee Hooker. Nuff said.

In Session
In Session
Offered by westworld-
Price: £6.98

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate Blues Summit, 22 Nov. 2005
This review is from: In Session (Audio CD)
They say not to judge a book by it’s cover, but when it comes to this CD, one look and you can be pretty sure you know what you’re in for. Believe me, it does exactly what it says on the tin. I challenge you to check out the picture above and not smile in anticipation. In the red corner, armed with a Fender Stratocaster, Stevie Ray Vaughan, alias “The Young Pretender”, complete with hat, scarf and jeans. In the blue corner, packing a Gibson Flying V, the southpaw and reigning champion, Albert King sporting a 3 piece suit and a pipe. I’m grinning just writing this because I know what’s coming.
Yes folks, this is it. The only known recording featuring two of the greatest “git fiddlers” ever to play the blues. The concept behind the live album is a series of made for TV “In Session” concerts produced for Canadian TV back in the early 80’s. I don’t know who else appeared in the series, and frankly, I don’t care. This is the ultimate blues summit and all else pales into insignificance after just one listen.
Each instrument seems to suit their respective styles. The harsh, fast, loud sound of the Strat is ideal for Stevie’s no holds barred, balls out blues blasting. On the other hand, the slightly mellower, distorted tone of the Gibson suits King’s smoother, more fluid phrasing. All through the album, both of them turn in extraordinary solo’s, setting the strings alight with virtuosity of the highest order. Each takes what the other has done and builds on it, raising the standard until they are playing out of their skins. It’s an album that sends shivers down your spine.
Yet the true beauty of this album is not just the breathtaking guitar wizardry, but the verbal jousting and banter that goes on between the tracks. These two, though rivals, are clearly old friends who enjoy the cut and thrust of the duel. You can hear their mutual respect and the way they watch, listen and learn from each other. On “Blues Before Sunrise”, Albert “reaches down and gets something from the bottom”, jamming low down on the fretboard, effortlessly gliding over the thicker strings. Later in the song when it’s his turn, Stevie is copying his mentor. “I like that”, say’s Albert. “That sound familiar” he chuckles. Stevie laughs, and launches into a blistering solo of his own. It was a two way street, with Albert urging Stevie to “play it again”, so he could follow a particularly tricky passage.
What we have here is a truly great blues record, one of my top 2 favourites, a master class for aspiring blues guitarists everywhere. I recommend you buy this CD for what it is. A blues masterpiece that can sadly never be recreated.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 7, 2015 6:19 PM GMT

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