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Christina Rossetti, a Biographical and Critical Study
Christina Rossetti, a Biographical and Critical Study
by Mackenzie Bell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.24

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Buyer Beware!, 14 Feb 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a digital on demand print of a critical study written in 1898 and is only printed because it is, of course, out of copyright so the publishers don't have to pay royalties.

It has no chapters and no index as such, and the punctuation is somewhat eccentric. These all make the book rather difficult to read and would be impossible to refer back to without a considerable amount of work by the reader leaving post it notes or similar throughout the book.

Not worth the effort and not worth the money.

Friday Night In San Francisco
Friday Night In San Francisco
Price: £6.83

5.0 out of 5 stars How I wish...., 19 Jan 2012
Every now and again you hear a recording of a concert and what you hear is so beautifully played and with such passion and expertise that you wish you'd actually been there. This is one such recording. Plenty has been said about the skill and artistry of these virtuoso musicians but what comes across more clearly to me than anything is the sheer enjoyment they had playing together - it really does come across in every note. This is one of those events at which egos appear to have been left at the door and instead of trying to impress each other and the audience with what they can do each of them is encouraging, cheering and sometimes teasing the others to even greater heights. This is an album you can play at any time of day or night (neighbours permitting) and the infectious joy seeps through with every note. I only wish I'd actually been there.......

1000 x C6 White Self-Seal Envelope
1000 x C6 White Self-Seal Envelope
Offered by FiveBoys Stationery Ltd
Price: £17.96

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What's not to like?, 19 Jan 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: 1000 x C6 White Self-Seal Envelope
Perfectly good quality at a cheaper price than any competitors I've come across. The paper might be a little lighter than some rivals (I suspect these are 80 or 90 gsm) but for what I need them for that doesn't matter in the slightest.

What's most impressive is that I ordered these on a sunday evening, they were despatched on the monday and arrived before 9am on the tuesday - I wish every affiliate of Amazon was as prompt and efficient!

Burn You Up, Burn You Down
Burn You Up, Burn You Down

2.0 out of 5 stars It's Gabriel, but not as we know it, 24 Sep 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
'Burn You Up' is one of PG's more recent releases (even though it was years ago - he doesn't release that much) and was used as a backing track for a computer game, so somewhere 'out there' (as the awful cliche has it) there is an 18 minute version which I'd be really interested in hearing, but this isn't it. This version is less than 4 minutes long and in my opinion too short at that. The track has a pounding, grinding beat which sucks the listener in and reminds you that PG can still rock with the best. It's interesting to read another reviewer's comment that PG played it on the 'Still Growing Up' tour but without much reaction from the audience. I saw that tour and would agree, but I think the problem is that a lot of people in the audience hadn't heard it before because Gabriel is spending too much time these days dabbling with other forms and working with other musicians on projects that often don't seem to reach fruition. This is fine for him, if it's what he wants to do, but it leaves the rest of us with little new to listen to. Another case in point is 'White Ashes', also played on the 'Stiil Growing Up' tour and introduced as a 'work in progress' but I for one haven't heard it anywhere else since. He really does need to stop messing about and get on with something concrete.

The second track on this disc is a case in point. A 14 minute remix by Engelspost (who he? - ed) of 'Darkness', the opening track from 'Up'. The best thing you can say about this is 'It's got a good beat' but really that's all it is: a thumping beat layered over the original track to the point where PG almost vanishes in the mix and what we're left with might well be 'cool' to some but to others is monotonous and unimaginative. The question is what is PG doing allowing his stuff to be butchered like this? Does he think it makes him seem cool to a younger generation? He ought to be past needing to be seen as such. Does it develop any of the ideas or themes within the lyrics or the original arrangement? Does it hell. This remix makes an interesting and sonically challenging track sound like just another soundtrack produced in a teenager's bedroom, with as much originality and musical merit as one would expect..

Time Out
Time Out
Price: £5.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You have got to have this album!, 16 Sep 2011
This review is from: Time Out (Audio CD)
This album is one of the great Jazz classics, and if you don't think you like Jazz then that's all the more reason to get it.

From the opening 'Blue Rondo a la Turk' right through to the last track, 'Pick Up Sticks', this is music played with rhythm, passion, integrity and the kind of excitement which can dispel any fears or prejudices you might have about 'Jazz'. Yes, this is 'cool' (whatever that means) and laid back, but above all it's FUN. As someone who can't play an instrument but who loves all kinds of music I find it simply thrilling to listen to four musicians play so well together. The arrangements are tight, and yet relaxed and at times sensual, each band member being allowed more than enough room to display their virtuosity with solos that don't feel like solos because they're such an integral part of the whole. I always feel a little uncomfortable about the kind of solo where someone steps forward and blasts something out which often has little to do with what has gone before or comes later, and then at the end there's that slight pause before the audience breaks into applause that either seems a little awkward and unsure or at other times seems to be a declaration along the lines of 'Yeah, man, I know what that's about - aren't I hip?' There's none of that here: there's not a redundant or out of place note in the whole album. The perfect example is the title track itself, which I would guess most people have heard somewhere, somehow, in some form. It's only when you actually sit down and listen to it that you realise that this cool, laid back and elegant track features - indeed is built around - what could easily be the greatest drum solo of all time.

At the price Amazon are flogging this you can't afford not to have it. Trust me: open a bottle of wine and sit back and listen. It will become part of your life.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 30, 2013 3:33 PM BST

Live in Buenos.. -Digi-
Live in Buenos.. -Digi-
Price: £17.43

15 of 52 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars So What?, 16 Sep 2011
This review is from: Live in Buenos.. -Digi- (Audio CD)
We already have 'PG Plays LIve' and CDs and DVDs of the Secret World Tour. Those of us who've been to PG gigs in the last ten years or so have also had the chance to buy official bootlegs of the performances, so why do we need a recording of a gig from 1988?

Following on from the dirge that is 'Scratch my Back' and the forthcoming 'New Blood', which sees his most popular tracks performed with orchestral instruments instead of drums and guitars, it really is beginning to look as if the great man has run out of ideas and is resting on his laurels. And that's the most positive interpretation one can give to this - there are some who would say that his loyal fan base is frankly being conned into buying something we don't need and already have, the technical phrase for which is 'being screwed'.

I honestly don't know which emotion I feel most strongly: disappointment at being treated rather shoddily or concern that this is all there is left of a once considerable artist whose work has been an essential part of my life for the last 40 years.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 10, 2011 9:59 PM BST

Price: £9.87

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary, 13 Sep 2011
This review is from: Isla (Audio CD)
I heard this group play a couple of tracks on Radio 3's 'In Tune' and was struck by the way in which they fuse Jazz with strands that are more immediately rhythmical and harmonic to produce a sound that really is extraordinary and unique. I ordered the album immediately and have not been disappointed. The unusual sound here is partly the result of the percussion instrument the 'Hang' but also owes much to the way in which the Alto sax is played - there's a breathless energy to this at times which teeters on the edge of chaos but never falls into it. Having said that there are also quieter passages of almost ethereal beauty and elegance, where everything is slowed down and the bass takes the centre stage in a very delicate and yet authoritative manner.

The whole album is obviously the work of a group of friends who like and understand each other both musically and personally - they apparently share a house and do much of the early stages of their recording in a shed at the bottom of the garden - and the whole is somehow greater than the sum of the very talented individual parts. I'm very much looking forward to the next album and just wish I lived close enough to be able to hear it in development!

Led Zeppelin IV
Led Zeppelin IV
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The First Real Zep Album?, 11 Sep 2011
This review is from: Led Zeppelin IV (Audio CD)
Zeps 1 2 and 3 were exciting, noisy, brash, and sometimes a little overblown ('Dazed and Confused' and the middle section of 'Whole Lotta Love' did go on a bit and get rather lost). There were gems in all three albums but as a whole they always seemed to me to be a little unformed, as if the band were so good at so much they didn't really know what they wanted to do.

But this is different. Zep 4 / Untitled / Zoso / call it what you will still has a wide range of styles but is more coherent and consistent. All eight tracks are great in their own right and the album as a whole towers not just over their first three albums but over pretty much everything else that had been done in the name of rock up until then. From the thrashing opening of 'Black Dog' and 'Rock and Roll' - both of which could teach Motorhead, Metallica et al a thing or two even now - to the more melodic 'Battle of Evermore' this is the sound of a band who had really found themselves. The biggest problem the album had in the days of vinyl was that a lot of people I knew would simply not bother to turn over to side two after 'Stairway to Heaven', being almost emotionally drained by the experience and unwilling to believe that anything could or should follow it. This is a shame, not least because 'When the Levee Breaks' shows what a stunning drummer John Bonham was and how they could really thrash out the blues. The Simpsons may make the odd snide remark about Zep having stolen from American culture but the fact is they could do it better than most american bands.

And what of 'Stairway to Heaven'? Is there anyone in the world who hasn't heard it? Is there anything about it that remains to be said? For me it achieves in 8 minutes what Wagner took an entire ring cycle to do. It's probably the greatest single piece of rock music in the world. Nuff sed.

Scratch My Back
Scratch My Back
Offered by inandout-distribution
Price: £13.69

8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Look at the Emperor!!!!!, 11 Sep 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Scratch My Back (Audio CD)
I have loved Peter Gabriel since I saw Genesis in 1972 at Lancaster University (and Phil Collins had hair down past his shoulders!). As a solo artist I've bought every one of his albums and seen him as often as I could - first with different girlfriends and last time with my daughter. I even got pneumonia standing in the snow at Milton Keynes for the Genesis reunion to bale out the first Womad festival - well done to whoever thought it was a good idea to do it in the open air in October. I have loved his work and I have admired what he has tried to do both musically and as a human being. Along with everyone else who loves him (and there are still a lot of us) I've put up with the incredibly slow rate of work being produced - after all, the man's a great artist and stuff takes time.

But this? The first time I listened to it I thought it was the kind of album only someone who loved him could warm to. The second time I listened to it I realised only someone who loved him would actually tell him this is utter rubbish and should never have been released. If you were struck by the way in which "Here Comes the Flood" has been changed from a thrashing, crashing apocalyptic finale to a sombre and rather dull opener you'll know what to expect here - but nothing will quite prepare you for how bad it is. Every track is a similarly mournful and intense arrangement featuring strings and PG at the piano. There is no let up. No respite. It is a dirge, from beginning to end. There used to be a busker in our town centre who had the amazing ability to make every song she sang sound exactly like every other - same three or four notes in her voice and same three or four chords on the guitar. She became a bit of a joke within our family and we used to plan shopping trips when we thought she wouldn't be playing, but believe me, she was better than this. And it didn't have to be bad: I've heard a bootleg of him singing 'Heard it through the Grapevine' live in Amsterdam on his first solo tour and it showed he can cover other people's work. For God's sake, even his cover of 'Strawberry Fields Forever' was better than this, but those of you who've heard his version of 'Summertime' can't say you haven't been warned!

The arrangements are actually quite unimaginative and clearly show the need of someone who has a better grasp of orchestration. The only lively moment is during 'Heroes' when the strings have a minimalist-like burst of chords which presumably was inspired by Philip Glass's arrangements for his 'Heroes' symphony, but it just sounds like someone trying to copy someone who has himself been accused of copying others from time to time. Worse still is PG's singing. I hate to say this but let's be frank: it's flat. Flat. Tuneless. Dull. Bad.

Those people who have given this album 4 or 5 star reviews are being sentimental and kidding themselves that this is a great work by a great artist and anyone who doesn't like it just doesn't 'get' it and has to try harder. Believe me, no-one has tried harder than I have. There is nothing to 'get'. It's awful. It has no virtue at all, no saving graces, not even one good track. He has actually managed to kill some really good songs here. What worries me is that in the whole of his huge empire there is not one of his people who had the courage to pull him to one side and tell him it's not a good idea, it doesn't sound good, it's not worth doing. I suppose they're afraid that if he did the obvious thing and quietly retired they'd be out of a job, but if they allow him to do another album like this they'll be out of a job anyway because everyone will start to realise that what made PG as great as he has been has gone for ever.

I really hope this is not the case. I really hope he can produce another decent proper PG album, but the signs aren't promising: the Big Blue Ball project was a self indulgent mish-mash which could only be done by someone with huge resources and space to indulge a load of fellow 'artists', and the show he did for the millennium dome was as flawed as the dome itself. It pains me to say this but I've reached the stage where I won't automatically buy a new PG album as soon as it's released, unheard, on the assumption it will be brilliant. Those days are gone. I don't know if he can bring them back.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 19, 2011 11:37 PM BST

Rapesco Diary Punch, Personal Organiser Punch
Rapesco Diary Punch, Personal Organiser Punch
Price: £15.13

21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars They're right, you know...., 8 Sep 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this to use with both personal and A5 size Filofaxes (why is my life so disorganised when I have two Filofaxes? Or did I just answer my own question? I digress..... )

It works fine with the personal size paper and it WILL work with A5, but there's a knack to it: There are two sets of three punches which are adjustable. You have to move one set of punches slightly inwards and have the other as close to the edge as it will go. (This will make sense if you have one and look at it, I promise!) Then you have to slide the A5 paper in along half its length so that you only punch three holes, and then flip the paper over and insert it again and punch the other three holes.

It's fiddly, but it works once you've got the spacing right. If you have a lot of paper to punch to fit into your A5 Filofax I would think it's probably not worth the hassle, but if you have just a few now and then this is cheaper than the Filofax own brand hole punch - which, to be fair, I haven't tried.

There is a Rapsco 6 hole punch which has a sliding plastic guide for the paper and swapping the paper over and doing three holes at a time is much easier on that, but I've lost mine and the product I'm reviewing here is not the same. To be fair I got an email from the company that sells this product warning that it was not suitable for A5. I replied that I was expecting to have to turn the paper over and punch it twice and asked them to let me know if it wasn't possible and they didn't, because it is - at a push.

I've given the product three stars because it's fine for what it does, but it really should be possible for a company like Rapesco to come up with something that does everything you'd want it to.

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