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Reviews Written by
Stuart Emmerson "ekow" (UK)

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War Room [DVD]
War Room [DVD]
Dvd ~ Priscilla C. Shirer
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant on every level., 1 Feb. 2016
This review is from: War Room [DVD] (DVD)
Absolutely brilliant. Engrossing from beginning to end. The plot is very similar to that of the 1943 musical "Cabin in the Sky", but whereas that was a light-hearted song-and-dance treatment this is a serious drama.

Very well acted and produced. Apparently it was top of the 2015 DVD sales in USA (beating "Straight Outta Compton" into second place).

Recommended without reservation for anyone but especially couples. Available in DVD and HD Blu-ray versions and for rent on line.


Cabin in The Sky
Cabin in The Sky
Price: £6.61

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent - bonus tracks well worth the purchase., 28 Jan. 2016
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This review is from: Cabin in The Sky (Audio CD)
Excellent. This CD is from the music track used for the soundtrack of the movie - and includes extra tracks of songs which did not make the final cut of the distributed film and extended version of others which did. These bonus tracks make the CD well worth having even if you have the movie on DVD.


The Final Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The Final Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
by Arthur Conan Doyle
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent. Cover not necessarily as illustrated., 28 Jan. 2016
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Excellent. Cover not necessarily as illustrated.


Cabin in the Sky [Region 2] [import]
Cabin in the Sky [Region 2] [import]
Dvd ~ Vincente Minnelli
Offered by ____THE_BEST_ON_DVD____
Price: £9.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent but B&W., 28 Jan. 2016
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Excellent. But despite the colourful illustration and DVD cover, this movie is NOT colourised but is in B&W (sepia). And beware a patronising and obsequious "disclaimer" before the film proper starts.


American Legends: The Life of Duke Ellington
American Legends: The Life of Duke Ellington
by Charles River Editors
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Great photos, but that's all this booklet has to commend it., 5 Oct. 2015
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The photos are excellent - but that's about all this pretentious booklet has to commend it. It really is a travesty. The opinionated author (who is anonymous - unless it be Charles River, the series editor himself) is highly selective, giving the trivial undue significance whilst ignoring the important and vital. His uncritical reliance on the flawed tome by A H Lawrence for facts and opinions may be to blame.
There are many good books on the life and works of Duke Ellington - don't waste your time and money on this one (unless it is for the excellent photos alone).


Shakespeare: The Tempest [Shakespeare's Globe on Screen] [DVD] [2014] [NTSC]
Shakespeare: The Tempest [Shakespeare's Globe on Screen] [DVD] [2014] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Roger Allam
Price: £19.94

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All regions / all standards DVD; disregard the "NTSC only" warning., 5 Oct. 2015
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NTSC?! Whilst that may be a pitch for the north American market, do not be put off by all the dire warnings about an NTSC-compatible DVD player and/or TV being required (this frightener must have lost Opus Arte a lot of UK sales).
I have an old single region (region 2 UK) DVD player (£20 when new years ago) and a big-box CRT TV (even older) and I decided to take a chance, because this is such a great performance. The DVD plays perfectly. So it's an All Regions and All Standards (NTSC, PAL, SECAM) disc, it seems.
Buy it with confidence.


Playing the Keyboard in Worship (The practical worship series)
Playing the Keyboard in Worship (The practical worship series)
by Stuart Townend
Edition: Pamphlet

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, 30 Sept. 2015
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Excellent book - recommended without reservation.


The Conny Plank Session
The Conny Plank Session
Price: £8.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Whilst the recording (and the remastering here) is excellent, the notes that accompany it are not., 30 Aug. 2015
This review is from: The Conny Plank Session (Audio CD)
Konrad (Conny) Plank was born in Germany in 1940 and died in 1987. He became a freelance producer of contemporary music and was known for his work with Kraftwerk.
On 9th July 1970, Duke Ellington took his orchestra into the Rhenus Studios in Köln (Cologne) with Conny Plank, to record three different takes of two titles he was working on.

After the recording, the tapes were put away and have only recently been brought out as a CD / CD-Rom, 45 years after they were recorded. Whilst the recording (and the remastering here) is excellent, the notes that accompany it on the CD-Rom (there are no printed sleeve notes) are deficient in both information and accuracy.

The personnel (inexplicably not given) is as follows:

Cat Anderson, Cootie Williams, Mercer Ellington, Nelson Williams ( trumpets)
Fred Stone (trumpet and flugelhorn),
Booty Wood, Malcolm Taylor (trombones)
Chuck Connors, ( bass trombone)
Norris Turney (alto sax and flute)
Russell Procope (alto sax)
Paul Gonsalves, Harold Ashby (tenor saxes)
Harry Carney, (baritone sax)
Duke Ellington (piano)
Wild Bill Davis, (organ)
Joe Benjamin (bass)
Rufus Jones (drums)
Lena Junoff (vocalise)

The first 3 tracks are versions of Alerado. Written by Wild Bill Davis, and named after the record producer Alexandre Rado who supervised the French RCA Integrale LP series of Ellington re-issues, the tune is based on an attractive chord progression, evoking the bridge of Rodgers and Hart’s “Blue Moon”.

Track 1 features Norris Turney on flute and Fred Stone on flugelhorn (not Cat Anderson as the CD-Rom notes incorrectly claim).
On track 2 Norris Turney is joined by Paul Gonsalves on tenor.
On track 3* Norris plays alto sax (Johnny Hodges had died earlier that year on May 11).

The last 3 tracks are versions of Afrique, which was later recorded as part of The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse suite in 1971. These three 1970 takes are markedly slower and seem more devoted to exploring the atmosphere established by Rufus Jones’s untiring drumming and Wild Bill Davis on organ. They are joined by the trombones and reeds.

On track 5* Paul Gonsalves plays tenor.

On the final track (track 6) Swedish singer Lena Junoff, who had been with the band on tour, adds a soaring vocalise. This track is perhaps the highlight of the CD, but it is fascinating to hear Ellington trying out new progressive ideas throughout.

The tracks on this rather short CD (less than 30 minutes total) are all different and enjoyable. However there are also lots of interesting Extras on the CD-Rom edition, including colour footage of Ellington doing his closing “finger-snapping, head-tilting” Love You Madly routine over Satin Doll, with which he memorably ended concerts in later years.

(The two tracks marked * have been issued elsewhere, though with apparently inferior remastering.)

Important note: My sincere thanks to earlier reviewers whose work provided a foundation for the research leading to this review.


Apollo Classics
Apollo Classics
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Best recording of the Elgar Cello Concerto - ever!, 29 Aug. 2015
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This review is from: Apollo Classics (Audio CD)
This recording of the Elgar Cello Concerto is far and away the best of the many I know (I've just bought a second copy in case something happens to my old one!) The cello's stereo image is boldly central and immediate - close your eyes and you feel you could reach out and touch the cellist. The soloist's performance is absolutely astounding. The LSO under "George Richter" is in fine form. The recording itself (ADD) is bright and clear with good dynamic and frequency range.

This is the fascinating back story (as I understand it). When this recording was made, it was common practice for budget record labels to hire an hour's studio time immediately after a well-known orchestra's. When the orchestra had finished recording some lesser-known work under a prominent (i.e. expensive) conductor who had by then left, the orchestra members would stay put, the recording levels in the box would remain untouched, and for a one-off cash payment to the orchestra players, they would then play through a well-known classical work they had played a hundred times before and for which they needed no rehearsal.
A member of the orchestra - or an aspiring young conductor from music college - would conduct. "George Richter" was an umbrella name of a whole host of conductors!
Occasionally an instrumentalist from within the orchestra - or a gifted young player from a music college - would be the soloist in the recording of a concerto. Who like that would pass up the opportunity to record as a soloist with a top orchestra (even for no money)?!
And so many a fine recording of a well-known well-loved classic played by a quality orchestra under a totally made-up name appeared on budget labels for a budget price!
However the LSO is unique in being a self-governing orchestra. So they alone did not need to hide behind a pseudonym.
I wish I knew who the cellist "Veronique Desbois" is. But she seized her unique moment to record as a solloist with the LSO with both hands. This chance would come her way once only - and she gives the performance of a lifetime. You can HEAR it in this amazing recording!
When Apollo Classics went out of business, this recording did not disappear with them. It was apparently sold on, and it can currrently be found on various "classics compilations", including "Classical Legends" and "Classical Spectacular", singly on "Spectacular Classics (CD33)", and for download for about £4.
Google "Elgar cello concerto Veronique Desbois LSO". Find it. Buy it. Love it. Keep it for ever!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 12, 2015 9:54 AM GMT


Duke Ellington and His World
Duke Ellington and His World
by A. H. Lawrence
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £80.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Save your money., 29 Aug. 2015
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Don't buy it until you have googled "depanorama stratemann lasker lawrence routledge" and read it thoroughly. I did and, though shocked, I still went ahead and bought it (for £1.60 plus p&p) for the excellent reproductions of the period photographs.


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