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Reviews Written by
Timothy Hooper

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Life in Cartoon Motion
Life in Cartoon Motion
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £3.50

13 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Cynically Manufactured, 24 April 2007
This review is from: Life in Cartoon Motion (Audio CD)
No doubting the young man's energy and ambition but that's all there is on this chemistry set of an album. Every song has been clinically manufactured to press all the right buttons for the Guilty Pleasures market. A perfect concoction of Queen, Elton John, Jonathan King and 10CC, plus recent kitcsh champions Scissor Sisters. An album not so much written as plotted - and the formula works, but like all processed food the taste soon palls and you're left with a distinctly hollow feeling shortly afterwards.

Offered by Side Two
Price: £5.90

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A nocturnal stroll through Robyn Hitchock's wonderful mind, 15 Dec. 2005
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This review is from: Spooked (Audio CD)
Robyn Hitchcock seems to have been around, in one form or another, for so long that it requires some effort to extract his recordings from the myth of the man. A psychedelic enthusiast with his first band The Soft Boys and sometime lyricist with Capt. Sensible, Hitchcock is one of those artists who is more often to be seen namechecked by adoring fellow musicians (R.E.M.) than appearing in the best sellers charts, and thus to the wider public he remains little more than an exotic footnote on the periphery of the music scene. This is a shame, as the man produces beautiful, accessible and loveable music by the bucket load. He inhabits a lyrical world of his own, which features a whole universe of birds, sea creatures, unusual girls and other natural wonders.
Enthralled to the great American pop tradition, he blends the Byrds, Beach Boys, country and Surf music with the Beatles, Syd Barrett and English Folk - it's extraordinary and wonderful.
So, to 'Spooked'. As an introduction to the wonderful world of Hitchcock, you could do no worse than starting here – a superior collection of gentle, nocturnal ballads and the odd quirky observation-based jaunty folk tune.
Aided by the angelic tones of Gillian Welch, this Nashville recorded set is as coherent and approachable as he gets. A highly recommended CD and one to which you will give of yourself completely.

The Time Traveler's Wife
The Time Traveler's Wife
by Audrey Niffenegger
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Life Changing Read, 17 Nov. 2005
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I am a 43 year old male reader and I cried like a baby at the end of this book. It is an astonishing examination of love, loss and desire that is quite unlike anything I have ever read. By turns humourous, terrifying, poignant and warm. It is never less than absorbing, brilliantly constructed and beautifully written. The chararcters are vibrant and fully realised; they quickly become part of your extended family. After finishing the book, I felt changed and befreft, such are the implications of the plot and the way the story ends. Unsurpassed.

City of the Beasts
City of the Beasts
by Isabel Allende
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Mind Bending Amazonian Fantasy, 17 Oct. 2005
This review is from: City of the Beasts (Paperback)
Firstly, this is a children's book but none the less appealing for adults. Fans of Allendes's 'adult' writing will be surprised at the terseness of the porose style - nothing is allowed to get in the way of the plot, which rips along at a breathtaking pace. However, there are interludes of pure magical invention which trip the reader up and invert all your pre-conceptions. The characters are vividly drawn and likeable; and with a clever twist at the end of the story, it's a perfect book to fill the gap for 14 - 16 year olds. Plus you can borrow it after them!

Leaders Of The Free World
Leaders Of The Free World
Price: £3.98

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Let's keep this simple, 23 Sept. 2005
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If you know and love Elbow's first two CD's then rest assured that this one is even better. No reason not to buy it.

Offered by westworld-
Price: £10.14

11 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars They're More Machine Than Man..., 18 April 2005
This review is from: Untilted (Audio CD)
Undoubtedly groundbreaking in their heyday, Autechre have produced some engaging, beautiful and challenging work in the past. 'Amber' and 'Inculabula' represent their more readily accessible releases and are certainly worth owning but from 'Tri Repetea' onwards, it all starts to get a bit academic. It's neither experimental (i.e. no one is shocked or surprised by what can be achieved with software - the world is awash with laptop glitch artistes these days) or danceable (unless you redefine dancing as a series of unconnected twitches and fidgits).
Autechre's genius was to make the extreme left of the electronic market enjoyable and thought provoking, but with 'Untilted' there are no surprises and there is no beauty either.
The fate of the pioneer is that sometimes you leave yourself nowhere to go and sadly Autechre have reached that point.

Equally Cursed and Blessed
Equally Cursed and Blessed
Price: £1.26

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Lost Gem, 7 Dec. 2004
Cataonia's third album must go down in musical history as one of the most maligned releases of all time. Following on the back of their hugely successful 'International Velvet' (an album that was far from perfect itself) expectations were running unbearably high. The band, instead of trying to match 'Velvet's' Britpop thrash and bluster wisely chose melodic introspection and wider, more thoughtful palette of topics.
Sure, the big pop songs were there with 'Londinium', 'She's A Millionaire', 'Karaoke Queen' all crammed with more hooks than a fisherman's kit bag. But it was the the sheer beauty of songs like 'Bulimic Beats' (admittedly a terrible title that did the song no favours), 'Dead From The Waist Down' and 'Nothing Hurts' that melt the heart. 'Valerian' is one of their most lovely melodies set to a gently pulsing beat that showcases Cerys Matthews' vocals perfectly.
The only weak song is the rather formless 'Post Script', but again, it's only because it is set amongst such quality. Maybe it was the unweildy album title or the horrible artwork, but the commonly held view that this is a clunker is woefully wrong.
It's time for a reassessment of a lost gem

Britten: War Requiem
Britten: War Requiem
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.99

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Worthy Recording of Britten's Masterpiece, 3 Dec. 2004
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Britten: War Requiem (Audio CD)
This is an exceptionally fine recording of Britten's great humanitarian masterpiece at a ludicrously low price. Fine performances all round and a luminous sound quality that allows the singers room to breathe. The boys choir could do to be a tad better defined in the sound picture but for the price this is an unbeatable recording that deserves a place in your collection.

Never Trust A Hippy
Never Trust A Hippy
Offered by Global_Deals
Price: £12.75

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointing, 19 July 2004
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This review is from: Never Trust A Hippy (Audio CD)
Sherwood's reputation as a producer is remarkable. Through the work of others he has forged a unique sound and his impact of modern dance is immense. It's sad then that his first solo album is such a pale, unfocused thing. I was expecting Sherwood to give full reign to his kaleidoscopic armoury of beats, bub and samples, but no. there are a few flashes but generally this is as bland as a mid-period Afro Celt Sound System LP. Even Peter gabriel couldn't be this dull with such a mix of sources!

Night Ride Home
Night Ride Home
Price: £4.99

35 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, the worthy successor to 'Hejira', 19 July 2004
This review is from: Night Ride Home (Audio CD)
For some, Joni Mitchell lost the plot with 'The Hissing of Summer Lawns', when she moved decisively from first-person folk to narrating third-person tales in jazz and rock idioms. However, the change brought along a whole world of wonders, from the cool urban tales of life in the well heeled suburbs of L.A. on 'Hissing' through 'Hejira's' dreamscape of travel and escape and 'Don Juan' and 'Mingus'' deep explorations of jazz.
Then , in the 80s it all went terribly wrong. Joni released a succession of bland, poorly conceived albums seemingly aimed squarely at getting her a hit. 'Chalk Mark in a Rainstorm', 'Dog eat dog', 'Wild Things Run Fast' - each has its occasional flashes of brilliance but all were mired in squealing rock guitars, ill-judged cameo appearances from the likes of Billy Idol and Thomas Dolby and a general lack of warmth and sincerity.
All of a sudden , in 1991, she released 'Night Ride Home' and it was a revelation. The melody was there, the lyrical genius had returned and best of all, the rich subtlety of the arrangements was back. Much of this was probably due to the influence of her then husband Larry Klein, who seems to have helped Mitchell find her muse again.
There are no duff tracks, and indeed most are creative peaks, but to highlight a few, 'Cherokee Louise' is a heartbreaking tale of child abuse and runaways in a frighteningly adult city set to the most lilting and seductive melody Mitchell had written for years. 'Two Grey Rooms' is a cool, delicately orchestrated study of obsessional love. 'Ray's Dad's Cadillac' is a simply delightful evocation of 1950s teenage love and 'The Only Joy In Town' is a sunlit dance through Rome in pursuit of an idealised love. The highlight though has to be Mitchell's setting of W B Yeats 'Slouching Towards Bethlehem'. The Irish mystic's apocalyptic retelling of the second coming is well served by Joni's arrangement and dark, mysterious melody.
Since 'Night Ride Home' Joni has regained her confidence and has continued to release a string of quality albums, but this one remains her late peak and is an essential purchase.

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