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Mr. D. K. Smith (South Wales, UK)
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Liverpool Quiz Book
Liverpool Quiz Book
Price: £1.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very decent quiz book, packed full of interesting trivia, 15 Nov 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Liverpool Quiz Book is not only a quiz book - as each correct answer has some fascinating nuggets of trivia which are interesting reads in their own right.

All aspects of the club are covered, both current and historical. Some of the 101 questions are fairly easy and some certainly aren't - so there should be something here to test everyone.

Although quite short, it's still a decent little book and would be a worthwhile purchase for any Liverpool fan.


Z Cars Collection 2 [DVD]
Z Cars Collection 2 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Gary Watson
Price: £15.00

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another solid collection of episodes from 1972, 29 July 2014
This review is from: Z Cars Collection 2 [DVD] (DVD)
Z Cars - Collection 2 contains six more episodes from the 1972 run of the series. These follow on from the ones released on the first DVD last year. Episode details are as follows -

1. Witness - Broadcast 25th September 1972
2. Takes all Sorts - Broadcast 2nd October 1972
3. Sins of the Father - Broadcast 9th October 1972
4. Damage - Broadcast 16th October 1972
5. Day Trip - Broadcast 23rd October 1972
6. Public Relations - Broadcast 30th October 1972

As with set one, the evidence of these episodes somewhat contradicts the received opinion from the last few decades that 70's Z Cars was a pale shadow of the 60's original. Instead, both the scripting and acting are still sharp - and at times the programme can be surprising.

Highlights of the release are the opening story, Witness and the first episode on disc 2, Damage. Damage was written by P.J. Hammond (creator of Sapphire and Steel) and is an extraordinary 50 minutes. Witness kicks off the set very well and sees Sgt Stone confront a unwelcome visitor from his past. Across all the episodes there are plenty of familiar faces guest-starring, such as Gareth Thomas (Blakes 7) and Elisabeth Sladen (Doctor Who).

Special features include interviews with Ian Cullen, Douglas Fielding, Geoffrey Hayes (yes, Geoffrey from Rainbow!) and Gary Watson as well as a tribute to the late James Ellis who played Sgt. Bert Lynch throughout the entire run of the series.

Whilst it would be nice to have more stories in this set (although Acorn have explained that licencing costs prevent them releasing more episodes in one go) I'm very happy with the six episodes here. If you enjoyed the first release, then this is a recommended purchase.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 13, 2014 9:00 PM BST


Eric Clapton & Friends: The Breeze - An Appreciation of JJ Cale
Eric Clapton & Friends: The Breeze - An Appreciation of JJ Cale
Price: £7.98

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clapton and friends shoot the breeze, 28 July 2014
"The Breeze, An Appreciation of J.J. Cale" is a heartfelt tribute from Eric Clapton and a number of superstar friends (including Mark Knopfler, Willie Nelson, Tom Petty and John Mayer). Cale's music has long had an influence over Clapton's career - witness his covers of songs such as "After Midnight" and "Cocaine". Clapton also maintained personal contact with Cale over the decades, something which only ended with Cale's death in 2013.

Vocal duties are traded on the sixteen tracks - Clapton has solo vocals on three songs, shares vocals on another eight, whilst the remaining five tracks see Mark Knopfler, Don White, John Mayer, Tom Petty and Willie Nelson all take solo vocals on one song each. Guitar wise, Clapton and friends provide tasteful licks throughout the album. There's no virtuoso performances - rightly so, because the songs are the most important thing - instead, there's decent, quality playing.

The album kicks off well with a good performance from Clapton on "They Call Me The Breeze", whilst "The Old Man and Me" and "I Got The Same Old Blues" are another couple of stand-out tracks. Both feature Tom Petty, who just seems to click with this sort of material. Another vocalist who fits the songs like a glove is Mark Knopfler, particularly on "Someday".

Elsewhere Willie Nelson is, for me, the least impressive performer, but overall the standard across the album is very high. And Clapton's decision to invite Cale's widow, Christine Lakeland, to provide backing vocals on the final song - "Crying Eyes" - is another nice touch and closes the album on a poignant note.

Whilst "The Breeze" will no doubt appeal to Clapton's core fan-base, it's hard to see it attracting a great deal of attention elsewhere. This is a pity as whilst there's nothing surprising or innovative here, it's still a well-crafted celebration of an underrated songwriter and is well worth your time.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 28, 2014 7:39 PM BST


The Courts of Babylon : Dispatches From The Golden Age of Tennis
The Courts of Babylon : Dispatches From The Golden Age of Tennis
Price: £2.72

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating journey through the first few decades of the Open era, 19 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Originally published in 1995, The Courts of Babylon describes both the players and the infrastructure of Tennis' Open era - from the late 1960's to the early 1990's.

By the time the book was published, Bodo had been writing about the game (in Tennis Magazine) for decades and had got to know the players well, counting some (like Evonne Goolagong Cawley) as personal friends. But Courts of Babylon isn't a straightforward celebration, as he increasingly came to believe that money and politics had corrupted the sport.

In the amateur days of the 1950's and 1960's, he maintained, players would call their own fouls and respect their opponents, something he saw less of as the 1970's progressed. Having said that though, this is by no means a diatribe or a series of character assisinations. There are some players (Borg, Navratilova, Billie Jean King) for whom he expresses somewhat jaundiced views - but even there he is able to find the positives about their play, even if he disliked some of their off-court activities.

Others, like Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe, who seemed at times to embody the unprofessional attitude he disapproved of, come off well, with their strengths and weaknesses well described. Elsewhere, some venues like Wimbledon and the U.S. Open come in for criticism and he is also particularly scathing about the rise of the professional Tennis parent who push their offspring too fast, too soon and then have to watch them burn-out.

This is well illustrated in the case of Jennifer Capriati as Bodo deftly recounts the teenager's well-publicised troubles. It's a shame that the book was never updated though, as that means we don't have the conclusion to the story - which saw Capriati return to the tour and eventually become a multiple Grand Slam champion.

As Bodo states in his introdution, this is an opinionated book and it's unlikely that everyone will agree with all he has to say. But there's enough interesting material here to make this a must-read for anybody interested in this era of the game.


Bowler Hats and Kinky Boots (The Avengers): The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to The Avengers
Bowler Hats and Kinky Boots (The Avengers): The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to The Avengers
Price: £4.99

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable and detailed Avengers resource, 5 July 2014
Although the front cover proclaims the book to be unoffical and unauthorised, don't be fooled into thinking that this is a quick cash in. Simply put, Bowler Hats and Kinky Boots is an immaculately researched resource, covering all the aspects of The Avengers - the original tv series, the South African radio series, The New Avengers and the feature film.

Drawing on interviews with key personnel, both in-front and behind the camera, as well as plentiful production paperwork, Richardson is able to tell the complete story. Although there have been several books on the show previously published, none have presented the history of the series in such detail. Therefore there should be plenty of new facts for people to discover, from the various unmade scripts to the backstage battles. To take one example, I never knew that Diana Rigg was reluctant to sign up for the colour series and only did so after a substantial payrise. Although the amount she received for each colour episode will come as a surprise to most, as it still seems incredibly low!

It's a very much a factual book, as Richardson steers clear of offering opinons on the stories, instead he delivers the production facts. If you've ever read anything by Andrew Pixley, then this is is written in a similar style. This may be too dry for some people's tastes, but if you're after facts rather than comment and speculation then this is the book for you. It's particularly fascinating to see the production details on all the later colour episodes and to discover how many days each one took to shoot and exactly what and where they recorded on any given day. This information may be of limited interest to some, but I'm glad it's been included.

This is an invaluable read for any Avengers fan.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 8, 2014 5:22 PM BST


Suzanne Vega: Solitude Standing [DVD] [2014]
Suzanne Vega: Solitude Standing [DVD] [2014]
Dvd ~ Vega Suzanne-Solitude Stand
Price: £5.75

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short but sweet, 5 July 2014
Given the small amount of live Suzanne Vega performances available on DVD this is a welcome release. Recorded in Rome in 2003, presumably for Italian television, the concert runs for about an hour and contains thirteen songs and four poems

At the beginning of the concert, Vega says that there will be roughly the same amount of poetry as there are songs. I assume that the bulk of the poetry was cut out, as it only takes up about ten minutes or so. Whether you consider this to be a good or bad thing depends on how much you appreciate Vega's poetry.

If some of the poetry was cut, maybe some songs were too - as it's odd to have a concert called Solitude Standing when the song isn't included in the setlist. There are a few songs from her (at the time) current album, Songs in Red and Gray, but the setlist is largely drawn from the familiar parts of her back catalogue - "Marlene on the Wall", "Small Blue Thing", "Left of Center", "The Queen and the Soldier", "Luka" and "Tom's Diner", for example.

Vega is backed by a single supporting musician on guitar - Mike Visceglia. Also on stage is Valerio Piccolo, who translates Vega's poetry readings and other musings.

There are two special features. The first is a twelve minute interview, which is worth a look as Vega is always an interesting interviewee but it's a pity it isn't longer. There's also a photo gallery of performance photos from the gig, set to the DNA remix of "Tom's Diner".

For the right price (I picked it up for around £5.00) this is worth a look, but Live At Montreux is the better DVD if you want one example of Suzanne Vega live.


Survivors: Series One Box Set
Survivors: Series One Box Set
by Matt Fitton
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £30.00

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's the end of the world as we know it, 28 Jun 2014
Running for three series on BBC1 in the mid 1970's, Survivors is a television drama that has lived long in the memories of both viewers and cast members. Big Finish's Series One boxset manages to perfectly capture the tone of the original series and is one of the best things they've done for some time.

The boxset contains four stories - Revelation, Exodus, Judges and Esther. The first two stories run parallel with the events seen in the first television episode, The Fourth Horseman and the final two stories are set after the twelfth television episode, Something of Value.

Revelation and Exodus spend most of their time introducing us to the new characters created by Big Finish. And it's obviously not unintentional that each CD doesn't have a cast list - instead there's only a single cast list for all four stories. As with the television series, there's no way to predict which characters will live and which will die - even after the virus has done its work the survivors find that the danger is far from over, and the greatest danger comes from each other.

There are plenty of fine performances, particularly Terry Molloy as John Redgrave, Chase Masterson as Maddie Price and Louise Jameson as Jackie Burchall. Jameson is heart-breaking in Exodus, an incredibly powerful performance.

Whilst the series could have continued with all-new characters, it's something of a coup that they were able to entice three key members of the television cast - Ian McCulloch as Greg Preston, Lucy Fleming as Jenny Richards and Carolyn Seymour as Abby Grant - to reprise their roles. Due to difficulties in locating Seymour, Abby only appears at the start of the third story and the conclusion of the fourth - but Greg and Jenny are central to the final two stories in the set, Judges and Esther.

These two episodes find Greg and Jenny encountering some of the survivors from Revelation and Exodus as they become unwilling guests in the community founded by James Gillison (another stand-out performance, this one from Adrian Lukis). The concept of a closed community headed by a controlling elite is something the television series covered - particularly in the second series episode The Chosen, but it also works well here and as events spiral out of control there's a feeling of dread that terrible things are about to happen.

With strong scripts, the return of the television regulars and fine performances from some Big Finish stalwarts, Survivors - Series One is an impressive listen. As the back of the packaging states though, it isn't for children - as the concepts and themes are, at times, dark and disturbing - particularly in the first two stories.

The series has already been well received and good sales have enabled the production of further stories to be stepped up. There are two series due to be released next year - series 2 in July 2015 and series 3 in November 2015. Although series 2 is a long way away at the moment, it will be a definite pre-order as there's plenty more stories to be told.

Warmly recommended.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 9, 2014 7:08 PM BST


Live At The Speakeasy
Live At The Speakeasy
Price: £10.37

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vega Unplugged, 23 Jun 2014
This review is from: Live At The Speakeasy (Audio CD)
Live at the Speakeasy is an interesting snapsnot of the young Suzanne Vega. Recorded in 1985, at the time her eponymous debut album was released, it's a stripped back solo performance - just vocals and guitar.

As her debut album was pretty musically sparse anyway, this isn't a problem - indeed the intimate nature of the performance is the perfect fit for this collection of tracks. During the gig she performed all ten songs from the Suzanne Vega album, as well as "Gypsy" and "Tom's Diner", both which would appear on her next album, Solitude Standing, released in 1987.

This concert comes to CD as a release on the "grey market" - so isn't authorised by Vega. The sound is a little muddy, but quite listenable, although not particularly better than the bootlegs which have been in circulation for some time.

For fans of early Suzanne Vega this is a good listen, although as the performances and arrangements are quite close to the album originals it's possible some might prefer to stick with the album. For the more casual listener who wants a single live Suzanne Vega performance, then Solitude Standing: Live at the Barbican 2012 is a recommended purchase.


More Modern Classics [3CD Deluxe]
More Modern Classics [3CD Deluxe]
Price: £23.53

16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More from Paul Weller, 15 Jun 2014
There's no denying that Paul Weller has had a cyclical career. From the highs of The Jam, he then found himself reaping diminishing returns, both commercially and critically, with The Style Council. So much so that by the end of the 1980's The Style Council were ignominiously dropped by Polydor which meant that Weller had to rebuild his career and reputation from scratch.

Most critics regarded him as a spent force by the early 1990's, but a run of solid albums - Wild Wood, Stanley Road and Heavy Soul - restored his critical and commercial fortunes, so that when his first solo compilation, Modern Classics, was released in 1998 it was able to boast a series of tracks that were very familiar to the record-buying public.

Since the late 1990's Weller has continued to tour and record regularly, but his profile has dropped again. So while this means that the track-listing of More Modern Classics might not contain too many songs that casual fans will instantly recognise, there's still considerable quality here.

"From The Floorboards Up", "Come On, Let's Go" and "Wake Up The Nation" are all flat-out Weller rockers that are typical of his Britpop peak in the mid 1990's. But as with his desire via The Style Council to move away from the straightjacket he found The Jam to be, there's plenty of other musical styles on offer here. "No Tears to Cry" is a little gem, a love-letter to the Northern Soul sound and "Sweet Pea, My Sweet Pea" is a delicate slice of acoustic folk, and like many songs on More Modern Classics has aged well.

The two newer tracks "Flame Out!" and "Brand New Toy" couldn't be more different. "Flame Out!" is a straightforward rock track, driven by a relentless guitar riff whilst "Brand New Toy" has a playful Kinks feel about it. It's a great song and shows that Weller can still produce the goods.

For the lapsed fan, More Modern Classics is well worth picking up. Paul Weller might not have troubled the top of the charts very often in the last fifteen years but he's continued to produce music of a high calibre. Warmly recommended.


Stockholm
Stockholm
Price: £7.00

23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The great Pretender, 9 Jun 2014
This review is from: Stockholm (Audio CD)
Stockholm is Chrissie Hynde's début solo album - and marks her return to the recording studio for the first time since her collaboration with JP Jones, Fidelity!, in 2010.

Whilst Fidelity! was notable due to the autobiographical nature of the songs and the story behind them, Stockholm is much more in the traditional Pretenders mould and sees Hynde plays to her strengths to craft a solid collection of eleven songs.

Björn Yttling of Peter, Björn and John produces the album. Hynde had never met Yttling prior to her management company suggesting he might be someone she could work with. After flying to Stockholm for a meeting they quickly hit it off and Yttling went on to have a major influence, not only producing but also co-writing nine of the tracks.

Neil Young guests on "Down the Wrong Way" and his chugging guitar helps to make this one of the album's highlights. Opening track "You or No One" is another strong song, with more than a touch of Phil Spector's famous "Wall of Sound". And the final track, "Adding the Blue" closes proceedings on a high note - it's a reflective ballad co-written with Joakim Ahlund, that can comfortably sit amongst the best from Hynde's back-catalogue

There are a few less memorable cuts, and at times Yttling's production does works against some of the songs - less studio gloss and a more basic, sparse sound would have benefited a few tracks - but overall Stockholm shows that at the age of 62, Chrissie Hynde still has something to say. Well worth picking up.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 23, 2014 1:59 PM BST


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