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

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Living In The Past
Living In The Past
Price: £6.33

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great but inconsistent collection, 14 Sept. 2009
This review is from: Living In The Past (Audio CD)
There are several manifestations of this album - the cheapest omitting several tracks from the original vinyl version - notably Bouree (unforgiveable) and Teacher. The album was a godsend to those of us in the early 70s who missed or wore out Tull singles Living in the Past, Witches Promise/Teacher, Love Story and best of all the 5 tracks that made up the Life is a Long Song EP (fantastic). Wondering Again is a lovely new version of Wond'ring Aloud from Aqualung. The live "side" features 2 extended tracks - the Dharma drum solo and a John Evan solo piano classical/jazz piece - both quite good but not particularly representative - i think i'd have preferred a few more tracks from This Was, Stand Up and Benefit. The original vinyl version is good but could have been better - large glossy photos of the band (although unfortunately no lyrics). Not a best of but a good round up of singles material, unreleased bonuses and old favourites.

The Last Record Album
The Last Record Album
Offered by FREETIME
Price: £5.98

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finger clickin' good, 10 Sept. 2009
This review is from: The Last Record Album (Audio CD)
Despite the brilliance of Dixie Chicken and Feats Don't Fail Me Now, this remains my favourite Feat album - Lowell George is still a big influence, writing, singing and playing to the fore with his gritty rocky style, but the songs have a growing complexity and fusion of southern boogie, funk, soul, latin jazz and blues influences - Skynyrd, Steely Dan, Doobies, Crusaders, Zappa and beyond - that makes it such a wonderful experience. Bill Payne's keyboards are a dominating force in many of the songs and the twin guitars provide a strong but complementary contrast, Barrere's subtle funk and George's scintillating slide. The rhythm section is immense too, not an easy task following the complex and subtle shifts in some of the songs. The material is uniformly excellent and the mix lets all the great musicians standout and captures the raw energy and emotion of a top live band, even in the studio setting. George's voice is superb as ever, rough edged on the funkier stuff, smooth and seductive on the slower ballads like "Long Distance Love".
At only about 32 minutes long it is quite short but the intensity is relentless and there are a few bonus live tracks although not up to the standard of the rest of the original album. Little Feat at their hottest.

Last Rites
Last Rites
by Neil White
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Reasonable page turner but a bit humdrum, 9 Sept. 2009
This review is from: Last Rites (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There are some interesting elements to White's Last Rites - the witchcraft theme being the chief one, but it fails to deliver on many levels -
- the procedural detail is patchy
- some of the characters are weakly drawn or lack credibility - eg Carson and Kate
- some characters are introduced but largely unnecessary eg Rod
- the detective work is shoddy and incomplete with clues and trails not being followed up (eg the coven, the lodger)
- the psychological motivation of the baddies is not particlarly credible and rather confused (eg why the heartbeat soundtrack, the letters ???)
- there is too much time spent on sarah's plight
- the ending is drawn out and a bit silly because much of the tension is lost
White is only an average prose writer and his characterisation wasn't strong enough to engage me enough throughout and so, just 2 days after finishing the book, i've forgotten if i enjoyed it and won't be looking out for any more by the same author or featuring Jack Garrett. Having just finished re-reading a Ross MacDonald, there's just no comparison.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 18, 2009 11:59 PM BST

Mere Anarchy
Mere Anarchy
by Woody Allen
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Play It Again Woody, 2 Sept. 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Mere Anarchy (Paperback)
I didn't expect to be criticising a Woody Allen book but Mere Anarchy seldom reaches the heights of any of his previous trilogy, nor does it really stray from the same themes and situations. In fact, there were a number of weak formulaic stories that hardly raised a chuckle, never mind the involuntary guffaw common to the 5 star Getting Even, Side Affects and Without Feathers. Woody's strong and frequent New York, Jewish dialect and references also make comprehension a bit difficult at times and obscure some of the undoubtedly brilliant metaphors, but i suppose that's my problem as an English speaker ;-)
However, even if the story ideas aren't as strong as previous collections there is a wealth of small detail to delight in the dialogue, rhetoric and idiom on every page. The names of characters are great too - Flanders Mealworm, Pontius Perry, Max Endorphine, Reg Millipede, Murray Pepkin, Velveeta Belknap - reminiscent of PG Wodehouse.
The stories commonly follow the downward spiralling fortunes of the subject, with the comically self-deprecating hero involved in absurd deals and transactions with showbiz promoters, agents, building contractors, patients and doctors - Allen employing bathos (and other classic comic elements) to ridicule all kinds of artistic pretension - eg a Broadway play about the invention and manufacture of the adjustable showerhead, or the songwriting titles and lyrics of undiscovered genius Pepkin eg "A Side Order of Heartache, Please" and "Embrace me, disgrace me, just don't erase me from your rolodex". Unfortunately it's often the same joke dressed in different, if admittedly witty, words.
My favourite stories were Below the Box Springs and Pinchuck's Law - right at the end - which i felt were consistently funny - too many of the others felt a bit like rejects or unedited drafts from his earlier books.
In spite of all these reservations it is an extremely funny book in Allen's unique style. I suppose you'll either love or hate it then. I suspect it may seem a bit male chauvinist (is that the Jewish influence?) to some sensitive souls. I look forward to reading it again with a New York Dictionary.

One Size Fits All
One Size Fits All
Offered by themusicmerchant
Price: £13.07

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warning: Not for PoJama People !, 28 Aug. 2009
This review is from: One Size Fits All (Audio CD)
"He lives in Mojave in a winnebago
His name is Bobby he looks like a potato"
I agree with many of the reviewers - FZ's masterpiece - in that it is consistently BRILLIANT; many of his other albums have sublime moments by One Size is inspired from the first chord to closing bar. Inca Roads, the opener, is also the standout musical work, a showcase of amazing guitar playing, crazy rhythmic variations, silly lyrics and great ensemble arrangements. Like the other tracks it's unclassifiable, just certifiable. The album is almost a pastiche of every style of rock (and jazz) known to man featuring superb and creative musicians all on the same lunatic wavelength. Don't let that, or the word "jazz" put you off - One Size is an incredibly accessible album - once you abandon your pre-conceptions of what constitutes serious rock music. Can't Afford No Shoes, San Berdino, and Andy all flirt with orthodox guitar and piano-led rock n roll but you'd better hold on tight because they twist and bend through wonderful variations and provide a superb platform for some of Zappa's tastiest lead guitar work eg PoJama People. Then, out of left field come Evelyn the Dog - a minute long piece of Zappa silliness with just piano and voice that you can't help smiling at, and Sofa No2, a parody opera piece about, well, sofas, their furnishing and the things that get lost down the back of them, in mock German. You've got to hear these to believe them. Don't be fooled by the silly, rude, puerile humour and surrealism of the lyrics and themes; this IS serious and compelling music that rewards, nay demands, many replays. You'd be insane not to buy it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 13, 2010 4:53 PM BST

The Wycherly Woman (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
The Wycherly Woman (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
by Ross Macdonald
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterclass in noir crime fiction, 27 Aug. 2009
Such a refreshing and rewarding delight to return to this classic detective yarn (for the third time in 30 years). Lew Archer on top form here unravelling a tangled web of family breakdowns, small town crooks, blackmailers and a few murders. Archer's job here is simply to find and bring back Homer Wycherly's student daughter Phoebe who has been missing for two months. 3 bodies later and that's not as simple as it first appeared. With MacDonald there's no preamble - we don't have to learn the intimate details and history of the hero, there are no gimmicks and the reader doesn't have to trudge through a ton of well researched but ultimately boring technical and procedural detail.
As with all MacDonald's Archer series this is quality literature with strong, classic "noir" themes - damaged and weak human beings teetering towards self destruction and tragedy. Even the "baddies" are portrayed as victims - driven by need or greed to make mistakes or take shortcuts that escalate into violence and murder. Violence is not glamorized or glorified, every death is unnecessary and deplorable. Archer is a knight in rusty armour, driven to pursue justice and fair play but in hardboiled tradition he fights his own demons and the temptations of money and flesh in his crusade through the sleazy, corrupt landscape of Southern California. He's a believeable and admirable gumshoed hero - up there with Spade and Marlowe and a precursor to Connelly's Harry Bosch (among others), treating everyone with the same respect and dignity, at the same time being able to handle himself and indulge in some Chandleresque verbal sparring with crooks, obstructive policemen, awkward clients and flirtatious witnesses. He's world weary but not completely disillusioned (yet). The narrative is first person so we only see the story unfold from Archer's point of view in a realistic, linear plot unlike much crime fiction that jumps between time zones, locations and points of view, but Wycherly Women shows the benefit of this by being complex without ever losing credibility or focus. The motivation of the characters is realistic and consistent and the story resolves itself cleanly without triteness, coincidence or annoying loose ends. It is brilliant, well paced, serious literary work - one of many first class stories in the Lew Archer series that haven't aged in the 50 years or so since they were written.
I'd strongly recommend all of the series - there are common repeated themes - the missing, wild child being a common autobiographical one - but the author always has a fresh unexpected twist. He's in the very top rank of American crime fiction writers - Hammett, Chandler, Connelly, Ellroy and deserves a wider modern readership. Here's a list in chronological order although they can be hard to get and don't need to be read in this sequence:
The Moving Target - 1949 (filmed with Paul Newman as Harper, 1966)
The Drowning Pool - 1950 (also filmed with Paul Newman as "Lew Harper", 1976)
The Way Some People Die - 1951
The Ivory Grin - 1952
Find a Victim - 1954
The Barbarous Coast - 1956
The Doomsters - 1958
The Galton Case - 1959
The Wycherly Woman - 1961
The Zebra-Striped Hearse - 1962
The Chill - 1964
The Far Side of the Dollar - 1965
Black Money - 1966
The Instant Enemy - 1968
The Goodbye Look - 1969
The Underground Man - 1971
Sleeping Beauty - 1973
The Blue Hammer - 1976

Sun And Shadow
Sun And Shadow
by Laurie Thompson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Snow and gloom, 24 Aug. 2009
This review is from: Sun And Shadow (Paperback)
The more i read of this book the more it annoyed me. The chapters are broken up into lots a short snippets separated by asterisks - otherwise you'd never know that the subject of the storyline had changed to a different character - the technique can work in a well written book but not here. This may in part be down to a dreadful translation - appallingly mystifying metaphors, stilted expressions and dialogue and poor grammar. I agree totally that the first quarter of the book in Spain is a complete waste of time - can someone explain its purpose (or deeper significance - is this the "Sun" part and if so how does it relate to the rest of the plot). There are enough irrelevant incidental scenes painting the Swedish milennium celebrations and routine police patrol work to frustrate the reader. Winter and some of his colleagues are quite interestingly characterised but the author never really makes them fully fleshed - possibly because for most of (the rest of) the book they are suspects but,as with most of the plot, details are obscured eg crime scenes and there is too much irrelevance - "death metal music", the caretaker's office, patrik and maria, "manhattan", the victims' relationship and most importantly the motivation and gruesome (but somwehat unlikely) methods of the killer. The author is trying to be subtle and clever in implying what happened during the murders but it is not well done and simply detracts from the horrific effect on the reader. The ending isn't really a resolution, the book just ends, any tension dissipating harmlessly. I'm not sure i care enough about Erik Winter or his pregnant girlfriend (or his extended family circle and their christmas) despite all the valuable pages Edwardson lavishes on their lives. Perhaps, just as important, we never get under the skin of the murderer, he's therefore not real and the thrill of "the chase" is spoiled. I hope the publishers haven't started scraping the bottom of the barrel of trendy baltic crime writing ! It will take a lot to convince me to read another of his books.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 9, 2014 8:38 PM BST

Good Summer Rain
Good Summer Rain
Price: £22.53

3.0 out of 5 stars 3 and a half - a touch bland by erica's standards, 13 Aug. 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Good Summer Rain (Audio CD)
i'm a big wheeler fan and it hurts me to give her less than 4 stars but this doesn't have the spark of Harvest (5 stars) or Three Wishes. erica seems to have mellowed (or fallen in love perhaps) but some of the themes and moods on the album are a bit sentimental. maybe it fits with the environmental, ecological, save the planet, heritage theme (and possibly sponsorship) that the material seems sincere and worthy but perhaps a bit lacking in humour, light and shade. certainly there are few really memorable tracks. That said there'a a lot of good music, poetic lyrics and a few new stylistic directions. Crow Flies, title track and Apache Hotel start the album off well enough - featuring some fair mandola/bouzouki accompaniment and dobro - they are catchy pleasant melodies. Then it gets bogged down in some slower, rather tuneless tracks that sound unfinished or like inferior versions of songs from previous albums. Wheeler's phrasing is quite distinctive - this is often a strength but there is a danger of these signatures becoming repetitive and over-used sometimes. Lucky in Love has a nice laid back, soul vibe and First Sunset is a touching ballad but the album finishes on a rather bland and downbeat note too reminiscent of the cd in general. The musicianship is sympathetic but not inspired, and the production tasteful at all times but rarely sparks the way that Laurie Lewis's arrangements energized "Harvest". It is Wheeler playing too safe or within a tight budget which is a pity. I hope she can still write more songs like Arrowheads, Spirit Lake, The Mystery or Sober Harley Guys. Come on Erica, getter angry, get bitter, don't mature so gracefully!

Rising Damp - Complete Collection [DVD]
Rising Damp - Complete Collection [DVD]
Dvd ~ Leonard Rossiter
Price: £8.98

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rossiter's Finest Hour(s), 12 Aug. 2009
One of the lowest rent sitcoms ever produced but it works so well because of the performance of Leonard Rossiter (RIP). The man was a comedy genius and Rising Damp's focal point - it is just impossible to take your eyes off him, the expressions and actions and lines so perfectly performed. He IS Rigsby, the scheming, sly, cheapskate landlord but so transparent and gullible that he can be a ludicrous fall guy and still retain our undying affection. His mostly unrequited courtship of Miss Jones (Frances De La Tour) is the central plot and it is the ridiculous lengths that our budding Rudolph Valentino goes to win her affection, the rivals he fights off (literally at times) while keeping tight control of his purse strings provides most of the comic momentum. Rigsby's prejudices also get a humorous airing in his confrontations with lodgers Don Warrington (black) and Richard Beckinsale (student) who constantly get the better of him but none can steal Rossiter's limelight. There were more lavish, dramatic and revolutionary comedy series but few as consistently funny or heartwarming. Rossiter would go on to at times equal this manic intensity with Reggie Perrin but never better this model character acting performance. Very few can match his charisma - perhaps Tony Hancock, Basil Fawlty, Richard Wilson's Foot in the Grave, Atkinson's Blackadder or The Office's David Brent. Amazing value for the 4 great TV series and an OK film spin off. The perfect cosy entertainment for those long damp winter nights.

Veedon Fleece
Veedon Fleece

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Master remastered, 11 Aug. 2009
This review is from: Veedon Fleece (Audio CD)
Pity that Van the Man seems to have disowned Veedon Fleece because to my mind it is even better than the seminal classic Astral Weeks. It's a loose relaxed and meditative album generally with piano, acoustic guitar and double bass driving the arrangements and Van's unique voice in its most soulful mood. Fair Play and You Don't Pull No Punches are rambling epics, in Streets of Arklow Van explores his irish "roots" with tin whistle accompanying acoustic guitar. The only up tempo R&B number is Bulbs, the rest of the album has a contemplative homogenous feel. Subtle woodwinds and violin replace brass as melodic accompaniment. Linden Arden is a stand out track - only Van could ever produce stuff like this and on Masked Man he produces an amazing falsetto vocal performance. Lyrics as unfathomable as ever. Van is one of the few artistes who can challenge Dylan with his body and quality of work (although he has also tailed off markedly in the last 20 years) - he has been hugely influential to so many others. It has less obvious "hits" than some of his other albums but deserves and repays many a careful listen. Note: I believe the cover photo was taken in the grounds of the Culloden Hotel (between Holywood and Bangor). Don't know the names of the Irish wolfhounds :-)

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