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Ian Wood, Author of 'Here's 2 Absent Fathers'

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Greatest Hits
Greatest Hits
Offered by westworld-
Price: 10.00

1 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars When It's Good It's Very Good..., 1 Aug 2008
This review is from: Greatest Hits (Audio CD)
Tom Petty first dragged his Heartbreakers into public view in England in 1977 where he managed to get away with passing off his traditional folk blues country inspired rock under the new wave banner by similarities with acts such as Nick Lowe and Graham Parker and a passing resemblance to some of the other last remnants of the pub rock trend. His debut album `Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' soon became a cult classic mainly due to the classic `American Girl'. Second album `You're Gonna Get It' treed water until third album `Damn the Torpedoes broke into the mainstream with the wonderful single `Even the Losers'.

The Heartbreakers career then followed a fairly static path in England until Tom made pay dirt by recording `Full Moon Fever' solo with Jeff Lynne with singles `I Won't Back down', `Runnin' Down a Dream' and the brilliant `Free Falling' building on the work they had undertaken as part of The Travelling Wilburys, a project which had re-vitalised the careers of everyone associated with it. The Production now seems a bit dated but the songs are fortunately strong enough to withstand it.

The album goes a bit flat after that and shows the downside of a chronological album, still at least it means we can turn it off after the fourteenth track and maybe dig out a George Harrison or Dylan album to listen to instead.

Mr. Laurel and Mr.Hardy
Mr. Laurel and Mr.Hardy
by John McCabe
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Being Blockheads., 1 Aug 2008
`Mr Laurel and Mr Hardy' is billed as an affectionate biography and so it is, it has no detail of the personnel life of the two stars, unsavoury or otherwise, and concentrates on a professional biography of the pairs film work with a brief pre-meeting biography. When the book gets going it is merely a summarisation of the films the pair were working on and a bit of background on some of the better known ones.

The book is a success because it brings to mind scenes from the films which then play out in the mind of the reader recapturing a sense of the hilarity when the films first were watched by the reader. In that this book is fantastic for anyone with a familiarity to the films of Laurel and Hardy but would bring nothing to a casual reader with only passing knowledge of there films.

Being fortunate enough to have a great wealth of knowledge of the films of messes Laurel and Hardy I enjoyed reminiscing with McCabe but wouldn't recommend this book to anyone wishing to discover the delight of these great comedies from new.

The Last Temptation of Chris
The Last Temptation of Chris
Offered by jim-exselecky
Price: 12.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tempted By the Fruit of Another., 31 July 2008
That an artist can write a set of great lyrics for a second solo album is quite an achievement, that an artist can write a set of great lyrics for a second solo album after writing over twelve full albums of lyrics for Squeeze, a handful of lyrics for Jools Holland and more for other artists is quite an achievement. That these lyrics are the greatest of his entire career is one hell of an achievement. But this is it. The lyrics here are not only the greatest of Chris Difford's career but the greatest of any career.
Some songs have lyrics that give you an insight or a feeling as to the subject matter but here Chris makes each song an entire narrative of a novel or play with prologue and epilogue. Songs such as `Battersea Boys', `On My Own I'm Never Bored', `The Other Man in my Life' and `My Mother's Handbag' tell not only there own story but also a universal truth that cannot be bettered. The expression `Kitchen Sink Drama' has dogged Chris Difford for thirty years but it is unbelievably accurate and these little sketches tell us more about the circus of life than any other writer alive can.

On Chris' previous solo album he seemed to be unsure of how to play without Glenn Tilbrook and took to hiding behind female backing vocalists, no such critism can be made here and the production crafted by Chris and writing partner Boo Hewerdine showcase not only the songs but also Chris' ability as a performer. The sort of album that makes me wish Squeeze weren't playing together again.

South East Side Story
South East Side Story
Price: 21.82

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Squeezing Out The Last Drops., 31 July 2008
This review is from: South East Side Story (Audio CD)
A very strange album in many respects, after being the lyricist, rhythm Guitarist, and second singer for Squeeze for over twenty five years that Chris Difford's second solo album should be a ten track reworking of some of the best known of Squeeze's singles is bizarre to say the least.

No doubt after finishing a tour to promote his first solo offering `I Didn't Get Where I Am' Chris wanted to record his new arrangements for these songs and put them out for a memento for those amongst his audience whom wanted it is perhaps understandable if a little strange. That even the title points to one of Squeeze's crowning achievements `East Side Story' is also very telling. In the interviews Chris gave at the time of release he was talking of closure on his Squeeze years and so it was intriguing that within a year Squeeze had reformed to promote the re-issue of their back catalogue.

An odd curiosity of an album and one that I'm proud to own but when I'm wanting to hear these songs I would still ignore it and put on a Squeeze album. Squeeze is dead, long live Squeeze.

I Didn't Get Where I Am
I Didn't Get Where I Am
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: 16.95

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No Show Jones Shows., 31 July 2008
This review is from: I Didn't Get Where I Am (Audio CD)
As a fan of Squeeze for a couple of decades and particularly the handful of songs that Chris Difford sang lead on (`Cool for Cats', `Slaughtered, Gutted and Heartbroken' being amongst my favourite Squeeze tracks), I was looking forward to this album being released. I imagined a Squeeze album with Chris singing lead, a consequently I was slightly disappointed.

Possibly moving on from the latter day acoustic Squeeze tours, Chris and producer Francis Dunnery have settled on a lightweight sound that doesn't do Chris' writing or indeed his voice any justice. Chris also seems to have very little confidence in his voice and has buried it behind a stream of harmony and backing singers.

That's not to say the songs are poor, Chris' lyrics are possibly not as great as they had been with Squeeze but they are still painting great stories particularly single `Cowboys Are My Weakness' and the Squeeze break up song `No Show Jones'. Not a great Squeeze album, but since it isn't a Squeeze album that should possibly have not being the surprise it was, but a promising opening to a solo career.

World Of His Own
World Of His Own
Offered by Japan-Select
Price: 15.62

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a Wonderful World., 31 July 2008
This review is from: World Of His Own (Audio CD)
`World of his Own' starts really badly with the funk by numbers `Architectural Number' which together with `Thursday' was far too modern for what I was expecting of the first recording Jools Holland made after leaving Squeeze, for the second time, and started touring with his little Big Band. However, once that is out of the way, this is an absolutely fantastic record.

`The Maiden's Lament' sets a 1774 folk song to a Boogie-Woogie riff which compliments the instrumental standard `Honey Dripper' and Holland's own `Biggy Wiggy'. Chris Difford, the lyrical wizard of Squeeze, supplies Jools with a wonderful duet to perform with Kim Lesley in `We're Through' whilst celebrity pal, Sting, supplies the most unusual lyric of his career for the brilliant `Grand Hotel'.

The pedigree for the rest of the record is Jools' performance on the songs of New Orleans legend Allen Toussaint's `Holy Cow', the godfather of soul Ray Charles' `In the Heat of the Night' and Percy Mayfield's `Danger Zone'.

This may be a world that is Jools' alone but it is a very nice place for the rest of us to visit.

The Full Complement
The Full Complement
Price: 19.03

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get Out of that Bed and Wash your Face and Hands., 31 July 2008
This review is from: The Full Complement (Audio CD)
Jools' previous album `World of his Own' was so good I imagined he would have struggled to produced a worthy successor but `The Full Complement' is just that and together they provide a perfect template for the then little Big Band whom eventually grew into the Rhythm and Blues Orchestra.

The band here is Squeeze sidemen Gilson Lavis and Keith Wilkinson as the energetic rhythm section with the wonderful blue guitar of Mark Flanagan with the Horns of Enormous Love. They play on the bulk these songs and give them a constancy that places this record above its predecessor.

The Holland compositions `Lost Chord' (used as the title music for the TV film of the same name), `Cacophony' and `D'Arcy's Farewell' are no more than intro/outros and he comes into his own writing the melody to Buchanan's brilliant lyric for `No-ones to Blame'. Squeeze lyricist Chris Difford supplies Jools with three lyrics here with `One More Time' being the most successfully used. The others `Lady Don't Fall Backwards' and `Blue Guitar' suffer from what is now rather dated production.

The album really comes together with the covers selected with the eye of a perfect Band leader. Buck Owens `Together Again' which showcases Sam Brown, Professor Longhair's `Baby Let me Hold your Hand', Hank Snow's `Movin' On' and Mac Rebbenack's `Me-U=Loneliness'. The highlight of the album is `Shake Rattle and Roll' which shows how Jools' has become the Count Bassie of his generation. Come out of that room and wash your face and hands...

The A-Z Geographer's Guide To The Piano
The A-Z Geographer's Guide To The Piano
Price: 6.72

1.0 out of 5 stars Road to Nowhere., 31 July 2008
Jools' two previous albums `World of his Own' and `The Full Complement' had become firm favourites and so where Jools released this I rushed out expecting a third volume of contemporary big band numbers mixing Jools melodies with that of the standards from his encyclopaedic knowledge of music. It was possibly the biggest disappointment of my record buying career.

All the tracks here are instrumentals composed by Jools but not to suit his percussive Boogie Woogie styling's; it sounds like incidental music to a film that was never made. I think it a shame the soundtrack was recorded. If you're looking at this but haven't heard either `World of his Own' or `The Full Complement' then I would strongly recommend you look them up rather than this.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 20, 2008 12:09 AM GMT

Solo Piano (1994)
Solo Piano (1994)

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Should've Known Better., 31 July 2008
This review is from: Solo Piano (1994) (Audio CD)
I don't really know why I bought this album, Jools' first two albums after leaving Squeeze for the second time, `World of his Own' and `The Full Complement', had become firm favourites and so when Jools released `The A to Z Geographers Guide to the Piano' I rushed out expecting a third volume of contemporary big band numbers mixing Jools melodies with that of the standards from his encyclopaedic knowledge of music. It was possibly the biggest disappointment of my record buying career, it was an album of Holland instrumentals performed by his band.

So why would I buy `Solo Piano' the title on its own very much describes this record entirely. It is indeed twelve instrumental Holland melodies (two traditional but with Holland arrangements) performed solo on the Piano. I put this on when I first got it with very low expectations and the first track lit up the room. `Bumble Boogie' is a fantastic piece of percussive piano playing which needs no accompaniment to fill out the sound, a classic in every possible way.

So I was wrong? Expecting a poor record I was surprised to hear a great one? Well, No. The rest of it has a tendency to drag, in fact thirty five minutes of solo piano is, in my opinion, half an hour too long. `Bumble Boogie' possibly stands head and shoulders above the rest of the album as Jools had been playing it since 1982 when he premiered it with his then band `Jools Holland and his Millionaires'.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 3, 2013 1:15 PM GMT

Live Performance
Live Performance
Price: 5.83

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Showcase., 31 July 2008
This review is from: Live Performance (Audio CD)
Live albums never capture the excitement of being at a concert and having seen Jools and his little big band twice in the early nineties I can confirm that this is the case here but it is a wonderful document of his then live revue.

It kicks off with Jools solo on the piano with `Bumble Boogie' the highlight from not only his album `Solo Piano' but also from his original solo band the Millionaires, which is improved on here with Gilson Lavis joining him on the drums. Then the remainder of the band join him for `Bad Luck Blues' and Holland's own `Skin the Cat' uncollected anywhere else. Next up is a brilliant performance of Dinah Washington's `Mean Old Man's World' and the brilliant Holland showcase from Squeeze's `Frank', `Dr Jazz'. The pace then slows with `High street' the highlight of Jools' 1992 album. Brother Christopher takes over vocal duties for a cover of Todd Rundgren's `I Saw the Light' which seems strangely out of place here.

What would have once being side two opens with what Jools tells us is his first ever song, the fabulous `Should've Know Better' (from his 1978 EP) which he follows up with further highlights of his song writing with the then unrecorded `Able Mable', `Maidens Lament' and `Biggie Wiggie' from `World of his own' and then the Chris Difford collaboration `May be I Need Her'. Jools then gives us the Ray Charles Classic `I Gotta Woman' before bringing it all home with `Smoking Shuffle' and `Hop, Skip and Jump' his contribution to the Squeeze album `Cool for Cats'.

Not quite the performance I was at but one I enjoy time and time again.

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