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Reviews Written by
Huck Flynn "huckleberry" (northern ireland)
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Deadwing
Deadwing

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars my favourite modern "prog" band, 25 Feb. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Deadwing (Audio CD)
whatever that means ! as a lifelong fan of yes, crimson, floyd, tull and latterly gentle giant i'd always been disappointed by the new wave of "proggers" - radiohead being OK but not in the same league. until Porcupine Tree and deadwing was the first i bought by them. a thing that struck me was the musicality and the original voice - down to Steve Wilson i presume but supported by other guys who are talented musicians and guests like adrian belew.
it's an album i listen to without thinking about indivdual tracks - they produce a soundscape (like the best proggers) that seems a single piece of work (concept isn't the right word) - they don't just rely on synthesised sounds and samples though (is that "ambience"?). great stuff, good serious music is alive and well.
PS - must be one of the least informative CD covers ever (even worse that OK Computer) - arty farty, style (dubious) over substance (lyrics, instrumentation etc)


The Great Siege: Malta, 1565
The Great Siege: Malta, 1565
by Ernle Dusgate Selby Bradford
Edition: Paperback

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars why hasn't hollywood bought the rights to this epic ???, 25 Feb. 2011
simply the best military history book i have ever read (several times) and great to see it available again
absolutely gripping, educating, inspiring account of the 1565 siege of Malta by the Turks. Larger than life true characters, relentless action, fascinating tactics, gory battle, heroic derring do
bluddy marvellous. oops excuse the language but buy it quick.


The Woman from Bratislava (Eurocrime)
The Woman from Bratislava (Eurocrime)
by Leif Davidsen
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and detailed but drags a bit, 25 Feb. 2011
3 and a half would be nearer the mark but can't go to 4 because i felt a bit let down at the end.
The WfB at times reads like a lesson in political history and this sometimes detracts from the pace of, what should be, a spy thriller. There is fairly detailed analysis of the political and cultural background of denmark, poland, east germany, russia, the baltic and balkan regions much of which proves to be filler. the focus is further lessened by there being three different viwpoints - Teddy, Per and Irma and a plot that unravels too conveniently at times. Teddy is the best character by miles, Toftlund doesn't really ring true and the other characters would be too light to make it into a Le Carre plot. The resolution is also rather less than satisfying leaving me (at least) with lots of questions and annoying loose ends. i really wanted to like it more. sorry.


Seeking Whom he may Devour
Seeking Whom he may Devour
by Fred Vargas
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Curse of the Were-Translator, 10 Jan. 2011
as a big fan of Vargas and Adamsberg this sadly disappointed me - where This Night's Cruel Work and others are the sublime bordering the ridiculous, this has crossed the border into ridiculous and outstayed its welcome. as others have suggested, the translator David Bellos must take a deal of the blame - his stilted and over literal interpretations are tedious and i suspect destroy much of the whimsical humour and dialogue - the title is the first example of this - grammatically correct but a bit formal.
Adamsberg doesn't really make a proper appearance in the plot until over half way through and while vargas other characters are quirky and entertaining the ludicrous werewolf hunt they are on rather takes any suspense out of the story. "Chilling and slick" it says on the cover - i think they left out the word "Not" from the Times quotation. Even the subplot is poorly handled and the book ends more in slapstick than cliffhanger. Readable but the worst in the Adamsberg canon.


Stone's Fall
Stone's Fall
by Iain Pears
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pears gets to the heart of Stone, 29 Dec. 2010
This review is from: Stone's Fall (Paperback)
Pears is a top writer and Stone's Fall, albeit a bit long, is pleasant reading. A top british industrialist and weapons manufacturer has died in suspicious circumstances falling out of a window and a young journalist is hired to trace a missing benefactor. The search becomes a detective story with spies, politics and economics, foreign travel (to France and Venice), romance, warfare and madness in a 3-part tale that works backwards to unravel the secrets of Stone, his career and his origins. Pears' characters are fascinating creations and speak with authentic and distinctive voices, so i followed the convoluted and a times bewildering plot with interest, although i did ignore much of the economic theory in part 2 as it was rather overdone. i didn't really care in the end that the whole creation was too fantastical for comfort - the story was satisfyingly complete and had been a thrilling journey.


Mark Hollis
Mark Hollis
Price: £5.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant In a Silent Way, 29 Dec. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Mark Hollis (Audio CD)
as other reviewers have mentioned, Hollis' solo album has a Miles Davis feeling of the purest expression uninhibited by compositional structures and barriers and limits - it's a soundscape of fragile beauty with every delicate sound adding to a sublime feeling of tranquility. Even Hollis' vocals are just distilled human noises, the words hardly audible but sonically profound. Without wishing to put prospective listeners off, it has strong jazz influences and instrumentation - martin ditcham's drumming is an exercise in subtle economy that is rarely found outside jazz. added to the minimalist masterpiece are a few tonal snippets of exquisite muted trumpet (henry lowther) harmonica (mark feltham) and mellow woodwinds - often just a couple of notes scattered in loose patterns, and some light acoustic guitar or piano. The result is fantastic music, not jazz, not pop, not classical, not self indulgent or impenetrable, just beautiful, just Hollis. True, it's not party music, but the perfect way to unwind or contemplate the more important things in life.


Just In Time
Just In Time
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £14.57

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just timeless, 29 Dec. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Just In Time (Audio CD)
Maura O'Connell has never surpassed this marvellous collection. Her voice, even way back, is perfect, assured and inspired, aided by her best choice of songs (although Helpless Heart comes close), fantastic arrangements and accompanying players.
O'Connell is one of those interpreters who makes the songs their own without taking liberties with the fundamental soul and mood of the song, and that is certainly the case with popular but not hackneyed choices eg Lennon McCartney's I Will, Paul Brady's Crazy Dreams, Thom Moore's Scholar or Charlie McGettigan's beautiful Feet of a Dancer.
The flawless unaccompanied (apart from her own harmonies) Water is Wide is perfectly understated, and other slower ballads like Isle of Malachy, If You Love Me and Love's Old Sweet Song are perfectly nuanced, the subtle inflections of her voice adding delicious variation. She also shows a touch for the jazzy note with New Orleans and Just in Time but it's just one gem after another. Plaudits to Bela Fleck, not only for some stellar banjo playing but for sympathetic arrangements and production that showcase Maura O'Connell's voice to its best advantage. Listening to this album and its successor it's hard not to feel with regret that O'Connell has never really achieved this level of perfection since.


Bleeding Heart Square
Bleeding Heart Square
by Andrew Taylor
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Extremely readable modern dickensian tale, 29 Dec. 2010
This review is from: Bleeding Heart Square (Paperback)
As with American Boy i found Taylor's writing style a pleasure if a little lacking in real menace, given the dark subject matter. he develops his main characters nicely and Lydia and Rory are both engaging if not particularly complex psychological studies. The plot is dickensian in its claustrophobic contrivances - the disappearance of a spinsterish aunt and how different characters unravel the complex threads of the mystery, set against a backdrop of the rise of fascism between the wars. The atmosphere, settings and dialogue are all fairly convincing and taylor moves the plot on from the varying viewpoints of each character very well. The finale was rather a surprise (to me) but the journey well worth it. Probably a 3 and a half star book but recommended for a nice blend of gothic horror, and period agatha christie-esque melodrama.


Fearless
Fearless
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £22.95

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fearfully good, 17 Nov. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Fearless (Audio CD)
Arguably the strongest family line-up and tragically short-lived, producing only one more album, the towering classic Bandstand. John Wetton on bass and a few vocals gave the group a more solid sound and the songwriting of chappo and charlie is as strong and adventurous as ever. Fearless features classic, "best of" selection tracks throughout - Between Blue and Me, Larf and Sing, Sat'dy Barfly, Spanish Tide, Take Your Partners, Burning Bridges - in a range of styles from acoustic ballad (Children), bar room honky tonk (Barfly), music hall (Larf and Sing), prog rock (Spanish Tide, Burning Bridges), blues rock (Take Partners) and jazz (Crinkly Grin - amazing). Whitney shows of his wide range of guitar styles, acoustic (superb on spanish tide) and electric (mandolin like on Bridges), chappo sings in mellow and demented styles and palmer is brilliant on keyboards and vibes. As you'd expect from Family their arrangements and ideas and overall musicality is incredible but never self indulgent, always accessible and focussed on making great music. Intelligence and ability far beyond most bands before, during or since. 5 stars. Not to mention some great bonus tracks including hit single In My Own Time and a few live ones.


Fearless
Fearless

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fearfully Good, 17 Nov. 2010
This review is from: Fearless (Audio CD)
Arguably the strongest family line-up and tragically short-lived, producing only one more album, the towering classic Bandstand. John Wetton on bass and a few vocals gave the group a more solid sound and the songwriting of chappo and charlie is as strong and adventurous as ever. Fearless features classic, "best of" selection tracks throughout - Between Blue and Me, Larf and Sing, Sat'dy Barfly, Spanish Tide, Take Your Partners, Burning Bridges - in a range of styles from acoustic ballad (Children), bar room honky tonk (Barfly), music hall (Larf and Sing), prog rock (Spanish Tide, Burning Bridges), blues rock (Take Partners) and jazz (Crinkly Grin - amazing). Whitney shows of his wide range of guitar styles, acoustic (superb on spanish tide) and electric (mandolin like on Bridges), chappo sings in mellow and demented styles and palmer is brilliant on keyboards and vibes. As you'd expect from Family their arrangements and ideas and overall musicality is incredible but never self indulgent, always accessible and focussed on making great music. Intelligence and ability far beyond most bands before, during or since. 5 stars.


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