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Reg Utterley-Boaring "obdewlla-x"

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The Silmarillion Part 1: Audio Cassette
The Silmarillion Part 1: Audio Cassette
by J. R. R. Tolkien
Edition: Audio Cassette

6 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Of the classic book and the awful narrator, 2 Jun 2006
Enough has been said elsewhere about "The Silmarillion" as a work of literature. But what of the audio recording?

How to make a classic book sound boring - get Martin Shaw to read it.

He might have the kind of "authorative" upper-class bass voice that befits a work of biblical pretensions - but it invites you NOT to pay attention. He sounds disconnected from the text. Dialog, reported dialog, narration, description, poetry, philosophising and prophecizing - all are spoken in the same flat uninflected tone, devoid of dynamism and animation.

In three words: don't buy it.


Serious Moonlight [DVD] [2006]
Serious Moonlight [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ David Bowie
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £8.57

24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An accurate document of Bowie's difficult years, 25 April 2006
The `Let's Dance' album may have been partly motivated by Bowie's desire to prove himself to his new label by delivering hit records, but the subsequent tour was - Bowie has admitted - designed to introduce him to the kind of conservative ultra-mainstream audience that had previously regarded him with suspicion. It was also designed as his "pension plan" - at the back of his mind, he says, he was planning to "get rich quick" and then retire.

So here we have a hits-heavy setlist in which almost all the songs are subjected to arrangements that suck all the menace, all the subversive experimentation out of them. Lots of loungey saxophone charts, lots of primitive-sounding synthesizer. Without its attendant guitar feedback and harmonica, "Cracked Actor"'s innuendo could easily pass by the listener. "Rebel Rebel" and "Fashion" are abbreviated in order to fit into medleys. "What In The World", "Look Back In Anger" and "Scary Monsters" are conspicuously lacking in dissonance and vocal/guitar extremities. When Bowie (and Earl Slick) tackle Lou Reed's "White Light White Heat" they proceed from the `Rock 'n Roll Animal' arrangement (not a good idea). "Station to Station" survives the sanitisation process - and then only to find itself cut short by the film editor! Elsewhere, play-it-safe renditions of Life On Mars, Sorrow, China Girl etc.

With all this, a stage set that looks like it was designed for Kid Creole and the rather silly choreography of the Simms Brothers - it's unlikely to be a satisfactory viewing/listening experience for hardcore Bowie-ologists. Anyone who prefers Outside to Hours, Lodger to Young Americans, can afford to leave this alone.

And now that I've told you what this DVD is - let me tell you what it isn't: a comprehensive document of the live video adventures of Mr Bowie circa 1983.

Restoring the Ricochet documentary to the catalogue, and extending it, is laudable - but in their failure to restore the interviews that were appended to the original two-volume VHS release of the concert (as if determined to make life difficult for Bowie-ologists hoping to streamline their collections) EMI has once again shown its inability to understand its obligations to the music consuming public. Somebody should tell them, "it's not your job to rewrite history, but to preserve it, right?!!"


Before the Moon: Live in Denver 1974
Before the Moon: Live in Denver 1974
Offered by rbmbooks
Price: £14.59

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the greatest FC live disc, 15 April 2006
The first set is pretty terrific. Trevor amuses with a brief explanation of Matty Groves - although this is one of those slow-paced versions with over-emotive vocals, never exactly been favorites of Fairportologists. Rising For The Moon and One More Chance appear as works in progress, and the latter is already shaping up to be an epic. The Sloth that follows (two slow-paced guitar monsters in succession!) is pretty savory, especially for fans of Dave's wah-wah bass solos (we do exist!)
The highlight of the entire package is actually in the second set - after Trevor has failed to explain the meaning of the song, Bring 'Em Down becomes the third monster song of the night - Swarb spending almost ten minutes wringing everything he can out of the echo chamber and the wah-wah pedal.
The embarrassing moments - discounting the spoken introductions - are the second takes of Solo and (especially) Down In The Flood and the subsequent versions of John The Gun and Sir B MacKenzie. From the start, Sandy sounds uncomfortable with the keyboards, but as the second show progresses her vocals become increasingly sloppy and out-of-tune. For obvious reasons - the whole band sound drunk by the end of the show!


Gottle 'o Geer
Gottle 'o Geer
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £17.95

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A half-baked half-hour, 15 April 2006
This review is from: Gottle 'o Geer (Audio CD)
Short on running time, short of quality material.

As a planned Dave Swarbrick solo album that was hastily redesigned as a Fairport album to close a contract, with a motley crew of guest musicians drafted in to cover for the current lack of a working band...it was never going to be great.

But it's still a shock to hear how weak Swarb's self-penned songs are. In particular, he's no lyricist - the uncorrected errors allied to song-concepts that were shopworn anyway would shame the Bee Gees...and this from the brains behind the Babbacombe Lee album? Nearest thing to a good original song here is Limey's Lament - a Subterranean-Homesick-Blues-style chanted list of, well, "things to blame on America" - and even this goes on too long and repeats itself.

The band sounds anonymous - arrangements are nothing to write home about, and if Martin Carthy, Roger Burridge and Simon Nicol (then an ex-Fairport) are on this album, you'd never guess.

On the credit side - the two traditional numbers are charming enough, and Cropredy Capers is an unusual jamming number that takes Swarb into the world of funk, filtering his characteristic celtic fiddle licks through a wah-wah pedal over a Gumbo-Variations-type groove. (Influence on late-'90s Eliza Carthy perhaps?) There's also a Gallagher & Lyle song with the composers themselves on backing vox, and - more importantly - Sandy's Song (aka Take Away The Load), written by the late great Ms Denny herself though she never properly recorded it.

But this adds up to a little over a quarter of an hour of worthwhile music - and that probably won't justify the asking price.


The Day Today : Complete BBC Series (2 Disc Set) [1994] [DVD]
The Day Today : Complete BBC Series (2 Disc Set) [1994] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Steve Coogan
Price: £5.80

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is THIS cool!, 21 May 2005
The only things that date `The Day Today' are its running jokes about John-Major-era conservative politicians. Its meticulously observed satires of television genres (not just news programmes) haven't aged an hour - I recommend the Open University "po-faced analysis" section on Disc Two for a reminder of just how much detail they crammed into these sketches.
Television news hasn't improved - the famous `War' episode (parodying Iraq War I reportage) could just as easily have been prompted by Iraq War II (after all, they still talk in journalistic nonsense, such as "the air is thick with what they call here `the electric cornflakes'"!) The `reality' documentary was a novel concept then - now it's an established genre, making these documentary sketches seem prophetic, especially in the carefully-engineered humiliation of their subjects (never mind the crippled Gordon-Heron-esque nightwatchman, remember poor John and Christine in the Office sketch!).
Enough has been said already of the insanely brilliant word-play that is the key to the success of the whole enterprise (never mind the preposterous headlines and self-promotional slogans, remember the gobbledegook spouted by Collaterlie Sisters and by Alan Partridge in his horse-racing commentaries).
NOTE: There are more easter-egg extras than you think, and most of them are audio only.


Walk a Mile in My Shoes
Walk a Mile in My Shoes

6 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A test of strength for fans, 5 Feb 2005
This review is from: Walk a Mile in My Shoes (Audio CD)
...and only the true Elvis-ologist will be able to endure every minute of it. (Note: I'm writing this at the end of a working week in which I committed myself to playing a disc per day).
At first it was only his interpretation that had obviously declined since the early '60s - as a fellow musician once remarked, it was now "all power, not enough sensitivity". But by 1975 he sounded ready for retirement - over-dramatised versions of "Hurt" and "Unchained Melody" can't conceal the loss of pitch-accuracy.
Another problem is his choice of material - it may have been more "personal" to him than before, but does that make it any more attractive to the rest of us? Each disc is overburdened with self-pitying country ballads - and how many tear-in-my-beer songs does the average person need to hear?
Even the live disc is marred by goofy, off-the-cuff versions of early hits and rehearsal jams that are only slightly more competent than "the Beatles at Twickenham". This sort of material is best left for the TODAY TOMORROW FOREVER-style packages: ephemera for the scholarly obsessive.
So, in spite of what some reviewers would suggest, this box really doesn't succeed in making a case for Elvis's last seven years' work as the equal of his first.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 16, 2010 9:10 PM GMT


Lifelines
Lifelines
Price: £6.93

3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what we expected, 9 Jan 2005
This review is from: Lifelines (Audio CD)
I'm clearly in the minority here, but I don't consider this a worthy successor to `Minor Earth Major Sky'. The latter was, for me anyway, their best album - but then I'm one of those people (miserable so-and-sos) who incline towards the more solemn and introspective side of any musician. In A-ha's case, a "dark" album like MEMS enables the listener to overlook the bland/awkward second-language lyrics and just appreciate the music. The generally upbeat, pure-pop, radio-friendly style of this album came as a bit of a disappointment - not only have they not "gone goth" after all (!) but those upbeat radio-friendly tracks turn out to be the best-executed on the album. The slow tracks tend to be half-baked, melodically unengaging and lyrically weak - the lowpoints being "Dragonfly" and "Turn the Lights Down"...first the live version of "Crying In The Rain", and now this! That's two duets with Anneli Drecker that have been ballsed-up in some way...


Frank Zappa: A Biography
Frank Zappa: A Biography
by Barry Miles
Edition: Hardcover

35 of 41 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Major disappointment, 6 Nov 2004
For someone who was a member of the Zappa clique (however briefly), Mr Miles seems surpisingly misinformed as to Zappa's artistic motives/intentions.
That's right, folks: another biography that covers the first half of Zappa's life in great detail, and skims over the second half. "And as if that weren't enough", another that spends a lot of time upbraiding Zappa for his `juvenile'/`sexist' humour; and, in doing so, displaying a lack of textual analysis skill, omitting to investigate the Zappa folklore that would explain some of those lyrics, failing to distingish reportage from critical comment etc etc.
Michael Gray's much-maligned Zappa book at least had some intriguing biographical trivia to balance all the above - this one tells us almost nothing we don't know.
Those who haven't yet become Zappa obsessives would be better off reading either "The Dangerous Kitchen" (Kevin Courier) or, if they have the strength, "The Negative Dialectics..." (Ben Watson). This book does few favours to Zappa or the reader.


Join the Dots: B-Sides..
Join the Dots: B-Sides..
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £36.95

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential resource for Cure fans, 19 Aug 2004
This is really a response to previous reviews.
First of all, I must defend the post-1990 b-sides. As the Cure's music - intentionally or otherwise - became more `commercial' after 1986, it follows that the function of the b-side should change. Whereas up to and including `The Head On The Door', the b-sides were used to accommodate their most experimental material which (metaphorically) would not `fit' onto the LPs, from 1986 onwards the b-sides were simply a vehicle for leftover songs that literally didn't fit. The `Kiss'-era b-sides are very much in keeping with that album's prevalent `theme' of studio jams dressed up as songs; the `Disintegration' b-sides are the less-accessible products of that album's half-melancholy-half-weird formula. Interestingly, from the `Wish' era onwards the songs diverted to b-sides are better, or at least more classically Cure-like, than many of the songs on their parent albums. If these 1992-2001 `rarities' had been released on a freestanding compilation, the resulting album would not only be one of the Cure's finest, but one that could be recommended to any non-fan.
Note: `Sugar Girl' is based on the same chord-sequence as `Refugees' (the Van Der Graaf Generator song). You may recall another VDGG song which repeats the phrase "my body's rejecting the cure". Perhaps Robert Smith was more heavily influenced by those (excellent) prog-rockers than he cares to admit.


Heaven in Decline
Heaven in Decline

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unfulfilled potential, 10 May 2004
This review is from: Heaven in Decline (Audio CD)
As the only fully conceived Die Laughing album to date (and I suspect they may have split now), the album is essential...but it's also frustrating and disappointing.
The disappointment being the same-ness of the material. Like Inkubus Sukkubus, they tend to recycle the same old chord pattern over and over again until you're sick of it. This album has a `core' of six very similar souding tracks - five of them uptempo. Consequently it's difficult to listen to and difficult to take seriously, especially when the chords in question had already formed the basis of those acknowledged classics `Firedance' and `Glamour and Suicide' (as well as `Heaven' and the early obscurity `Amy').
The frustration is that this band had so much going for them - a two-guitar team with an unusual, different sound - one that stood out from the trad-goth flange-and-chorus merchants and from the neo-metal noodlers that were showing up in the '90s; an ability to use synthesizers tastefully (without adopting the worst habits of dance and industrial musicians)...and Rachel, whose vocals deserve every last plaudit they've received on these and other pages. So much talent and so little idea of how to use it!
Nevertheless, a fistful of great tracks make this album essential.
`Malediction' is the strongest of those soundalike tracks, with its appropriately threatening lyric, and one of the most memorable introductions in all of goth. `Evergreen' manages to be melodically memorable whilst taking a few liberties with the song-structure. Although those chords will have started to pall by the time you reach `Shades of Darkness', the song turns out to be a great seven-minute wallow in misery. `Garden of Thorns' and `Love Amongst the Ruins' (an early song re-recorded)have enough neat musical twists (and romantic angst) to maintain interest. And in a way `Safe Little World' is also a standout - for its messy and disjointed lyric that only begins to make some kind of sense when the middle-eight arrives.
And when they break out of the harmonic straitjacket, they remind us how great they really were! `Cascades' - with startling modulations to and from the middle-eights and guitar breaks - and `Ghosts' - far and away their best, most adventurous ballad - are arguably the two greatest songs in the Die Laughing canon.


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