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S J Buck (Kent, UK)

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Jack Reacher [DVD]
Jack Reacher [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tom Cruise
Price: £5.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Better than I expected, 9 Aug 2014
This review is from: Jack Reacher [DVD] (DVD)
I struggled with this, as having read a couple of Lee Child's books I was aware that physically at least Tom Cruise is horribly miscast. But in the end this works. Its probably not 4 stars, but its better than 3. There is a nice, minor, but important role for Robert Duvall and some excellent action set pieces. Its an engaging story as well, that'll keep you guessing to the end.

Watching the limited extras (on the DVD) is worthwhile as they demonstrate how they went to a lot of effort to try and make the fight scenes realistic.

My opinion is that Lee Child wrote Jack Reacher, having seen a lot of Clint Eastwood movies! Even Clint wouldn't have been quite big enough in his prime, but he had the screen presence.... Having read two of the books I can hear Clint delivering some of Jack Reacher's terse dry lines. If only he'd written the books 35 years ago. Perhaps it would have been Jack Reacher and not Dirty Harry.....

Black Belt [DVD]
Black Belt [DVD]
Dvd ~ Akihito Yagi
Price: £7.22

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice to see no wires!, 3 Aug 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Black Belt [DVD] (DVD)
Using real Japanese black belts from the JKA as the leading actors, and without the use of wires and cgi, this is a simple story of three students and their differing attitudes to their Sensei's teaching.

As a (very average) Karateka myself I found it quite inspirational. The acting was pretty good and the story is about where you draw the line in the sand (having had it kicked in your face), if you study martial arts.

Arguments about the lineage this displays (as per the 2 star review) are in my view flawed. Karate as demonstrated in this well made movie has been around for more than 70 or 80 years. And lets not forget in the end its just a movie.... Does it entertain - answer yes.


Rachmaninoff: Prelude in C-Sharp Minor: Opus 3, No. 2 (Alfred Masterwork Editions)
Rachmaninoff: Prelude in C-Sharp Minor: Opus 3, No. 2 (Alfred Masterwork Editions)
by Sergei Rachmaninoff
Edition: Paperback
Price: £2.43

5.0 out of 5 stars Difficult but worth it, 19 Jun 2014
This is another well laid out piece of sheet music in the Alfred Masterworks series. Obviously its a very famous piece of music, and for an amateur the first page is at peast playable if you can work out what the chords are rather than relying on reading the multitude of black dots on the page. There are two versions of the first page, one for Pianos with a sostuneto pedal and one without. Don't worry about whether your Piano has or hasn't you will quickly realise that although with both versions you play the same notes, one is much easier to get your head around!

To play the first page well you probably need to be grade 7-8 standard though with persistance many others may well suceed. Be warned the rest of the prelude will take a lot of work and I suspect is post grade 8, perhaps the sort of piece you might play for a music diploma. Nevertheless this is a great piece of music that is worth the effort. I'm still working on it!

Elvis - That's The Way It Is
Elvis - That's The Way It Is
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb album, 19 Jun 2014
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I already own the concert DVD, but didn't realise that the album contained a lot of studio tracks. In fact only 4 of the tracks are form the concert.

This is Elvis at his mid period peak. In my opinion his voice in this era was better than than his 50s recordings, and if the album isn't as important as the Sun sessions, or quite as mesmerising as the the comeback and Memphis sessions this is next best thing for me.

Highlights are many, including the teriffic live versions of "Patch It Up" and even better the stunning "I've Lost You".

I only bought the CD recently and I haven't stopped listening to it. The King no doubt!

Earl Wild Plays his Transcriptions of Gershwin
Earl Wild Plays his Transcriptions of Gershwin
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £24.95

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, 29 May 2014
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This CD has Earl Wild plays his own arrangements of some of George Gershwins finest songs. I heard his version of "The Man I Love" on YouTube and was frankly stunned, at the combination of virtuosity and feeling he put into this.

Sadly he died in 2010, but this late 80s recording makes you realise what a great loss he was. Apparently Liszt was his major inspiration and you can hear a little of that in some of these arrangements.

My favourite CD this year, of any music genre, without a doubt.

No Title Available

5.0 out of 5 stars Best digital Piano I've ever owned, 29 May 2014
I bought the Mahagony version of the 535 (though not from the company advertising here), which looks superb. I've owned one previous CVP instrument and two Yamaha stage Pianos. All have been good quality instruments and for Pianos I've always stuck with Yamaha. This instrument is a brand new model as of April 2014.

The two main Grand Piano sounds are very good. Yamahas own and a Bosendorfer grand. There are another 6 basic Piano sounds all offering interesting variations in tonal quality. The 'Rock' Piano sound for example sounds like the sort of Piano sound that you might hear Elton John use.

The electric Piano sounds are equally good. My two favourites being "Phaser", which is the sort of sound you heard Richard Tee play on Paul Simon's solo albums in the 70s (i.e. at the beginning of "Still Crazy after....") and the vintage sound which I think is the classic Wurlitzer sound.

There are 34 sounds in all, including choirs, Harpischords etc. All of the voices can be edited, with such settings as string resonance being available. I haven't had time to experiment with all of these yet.

The feel of the keyboard is very good, though I admit my old ones were so knackered that any new keyboard would feel good now!

One of the best features of the Piano is the 50 recorded pieces in the memory, for which you also get the sheet music given to you. For me this book alone has enough good music to last me the rest of my life. It includes some difficult pieces! Chopins "Revolutionary" Etude for example being one.

It arrives in a very big box! The main unit is quite heavy, so its advisable (though I didn't) to have two people around to help put thing together, if you're doing it yourself.

Back to the playing!

The Billy Taylor Collection (Artists Piano Transcriptions)
The Billy Taylor Collection (Artists Piano Transcriptions)
by June Spot Publications
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.40

4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite what I wanted...., 24 April 2014
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I bought this as I have long been after a transcription of " I wish I knew...". Sadly the transcription here is not the famous version* used on the BBC film program for decades. Theres nothing wrong with the version here, but its different, and I can't find a recording on CD it.

However the rest of the book is good. A number of other interesting Billy Taylor originals as well as some standards. Its worth noting that he uses tenths quite a lot, so if you struggle beyond an octave with your left-hand you'll have to compromise somewhere.

The Book contains:
A Bientot
All the Things You are
For Undine
Gone with the wind
I Didn't Know What Time It was
I Wish I Knew How...
Make A Joyful Noise (suite of pieces)
A Tune for Howard to Improvise On
Uncle Bob

Most of these pieces are the versions from his solo Piano album "Billy Taylor: Solo", so you can hear what they should sound like.

In classical terms the pieces range in standard from grade 5 upwards, with the average probably being grade 7. Of course this is a book of jazz transcriptions so reading the notes won't make it sound right unless you have a feel for the music.

*Subsequently I found you can get the famous version of "I Wish I Knew...." from a number of digital sheet music sites, and I now have a copy.

Bach: Prelude in C Major: Concert Performer Series [With CD]
Bach: Prelude in C Major: Concert Performer Series [With CD]
by Johann Sebastian Bach
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.48

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Value, 24 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this for my Mum to try and tempt her back to Piano. This Bach prelude is the one easy one, being only about grade 4/5 standard. Given that you get a recording of the piece as well and its all very nicely packaged for the price I can't find fault with the product.

The alternative is to buy the first of Preludes and Fugues, but the other 23 in this series are all difficult. So if you only want the one easy piece of Bach this is it!

Gershwin: Complete Works for Solo Piano (Alfred's Masterwork Editions)
Gershwin: Complete Works for Solo Piano (Alfred's Masterwork Editions)
by George Gershwin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £17.18

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous music, 24 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've just received my copy of this today, and what a treat. For an average Pianist like myself (grade 6 classical a long time ago and basically a blues player now) the 136 pages here represent years of study. Some of it is frankly beyond me. I will never have the time learn the 20 pages of Rhapsody in Blue whilst I still have to work. This is a post grade 8 piece.

However some of the shorter pieces are more playable and the book contains "Three-Quarter Blues" apparently the easiest authentic original Gershwin piece. This is probably about grade 4 standard.

It has to be said though that these being authentic George Gershwin arrangements, the vast majority here are difficult (grade 7) or higher, so whilst you are purchasing some of the finest 20th century music, be aware that you will need to be a good reader or prepared to practice a lot!

Valkyrie [Blu-ray]
Valkyrie [Blu-ray]
Price: £9.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 28 Mar 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Valkyrie [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
This film tells the true story of the attempt to assassinate Hitler on July 20th 1944. I saw it at the cinema, have rented it more than once and ultimately bought the bluray, once I realised that this was more than just another Tom Cruise starring role vehicle. I'm not a fan of Cruise, but then again I'm not a Cruise hater like some who have reviewed the movie here. He has made some good movies in his time. In my view this is his best.

Tremendous efforts have been made for the film to be historically accurate, whilst keeping it entertainingly tense for the audience. Yes there are compromises, and little changes to make the film flow correctly, but nothing that detracts from the overall portrayal of an important historical event. If you listen to the commentary on the bluray with Tom Cruise, Bryan Singer (director) and Christopher McQuarrie (writer) most of these compromises are explained.

The film was largely shot in Germany, with an amazing cast of British and German actors, including the Grandson of Stauffenberg in a minor role. Many of the actors bare some resemblance to the characters they are portraying. The locations and cast are brilliantly used by Singer and his editor John Ottman.

The extras on the bluray are good with two commentary tracks, as well as the usual making of type film, and historical background documentaries.

As a companion piece I'd recommend the made for TV film "Conspiracy". Both films hold up to repeated viewings, and both are amongst my favourite, which seems an inappropriate word to use, war movies.

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