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Tom Hughes "tomhughes2005" (Baldock Herts)

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The Very Best Of Electric Light Orchestra, Volume Two
The Very Best Of Electric Light Orchestra, Volume Two

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The forgotten side of ELO, but every bit as strong as the first Volume, 5 Oct 2009
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This is a brilliant compilation and places ELO as only the fourth band that has legitimately produced a good second greatest hits. Quite a lot of this stuff is less dance orientated that the first collection and as a result the brilliant "last train to London" seems to have been included as they forgot it from the first one!

The more laid-back songs sound very Queen-esque with Out of my head, Latitude north and starlight providing an errie calm. Twilight, it's over and heaven only knows are amongst the more uptempo tracks.

To be honest this is an absolute must buy for anyone, I was no big ELO fan and had owned the first collection for ages thinking that all the bases were covered. This was a mistake as this collection is very much progressive and deserves to be considered a classic collection.

Gary The Tennis Coach [DVD]
Gary The Tennis Coach [DVD]
Dvd ~ Randy Quaid
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: 3.95

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The worst film I have ever seen in my life but it could have been great!, 17 May 2009
This review is from: Gary The Tennis Coach [DVD] (DVD)
As a huge tennis fan and Sean William Scott fan I felt that this film could not fail to raise a few laughs. The fact that such a strong premise manages to create one of the most boring and poorly delivered films I have ever seen shows how bad this is.

It has no jokes, just crude one-liners and tired stereotypes. Gary is an obnoxious character with not an ounce of the joy generated by Stifler from the Pie films. SWC creates a character who goes from down-on his luck bore early on, to turning into Stifler for the last half hour in a desperate bid to inject some entertainment to the film. It fails to work as he is playing off a lifeless support cast and the token appearance of a stripper looks like a desperate attempt to generate excitement.

Tennis is the theme, but has no significance in the film,as a result it all seems so pointless. The rivalry with other tennis teams is not explored until the end and the match sequences, which could be a great source of jokes, are played totally straight, with no drama or pranks. Worse still, the standard of the tennis on display is just bad, not so bad its funny, just tedious.

The love interests are also strange, as he hangs around with the daughter of the deceased ex-coach only to get fired for being caught with her. So he moves on to the Spanish tutor! Their only contribution is as a platform for sexist comments and lewd Stifler style propositions.

It is simply an unfunny, turgid mess that felt like it ran on for hours. It makes Will Ferrel's Kicking and Screaming look like citizen kane. Do not waste your time watching this.

Price: 20.32

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Prince blooms with the set of a lifetime, but Bria Valente dissapoints, 13 May 2009
This review is from: Lotusflow3r (Audio CD)
The two prince cd's are without a doubt his finest work since the 80s. While there are no radio friendly hits, this album is so beautifully crafted and written, you are in no doubt that Prince is an artist at the very top of his game.

Lotus Flower sounds to me like an extended Jam session that works as a single piece of music. I find it hard to enjoy individual tracks as it is structured and paced like a musical journey, one that you never want to end and can become utterly absorbed in. It has some of his more sensual lyrics and I think this is truly a 'sexy' album. No swearing, no crude dialogue, just plenty of sensual imagery created through the environment that Prince envelopes around the listener. The first three tracks are quite laid back funk, with the middle section of 4ever to Beverly Park having a really smooth disco feel. I am so pleased he is still trying new things, some of the string arrangments on the middle tracks are fantastic.

MPLsound is typical of recent Prince offerings and is in the R&B style of Planet Earth and 3121. U're Gonna C Me is the initial stand out track but what gives this album such longevity is Prince's trademark charisma. His personality shines through on this set, with plenty of his trademark dry wit and humour. Ol' skool company is a great example with Prince damning the current state of the world and saying hey, sometimes you need to get in touch with an old friend to feel fresh positive vibes.

Hearing these two albums endorses such a notion and it is simply a must buy for Prince fans, or anyone else who cares about good music. I would give it five stars, except the third disc, an album by another Prince protege, Bria Valente is perhaps the most boring I have ever heard in my life. I was waiting for a good track, but it is just so bland there is simply nothing to say. If Prince had sung some of these tracks then they would be given so much more energy, but Bria just sucks any life out of them. So for me it is a classic, 2 disc Prince album with a free drinks coaster!

News of the World?: Fake Sheikhs and Royal Trappings
News of the World?: Fake Sheikhs and Royal Trappings
by Peter Burden
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 9.18

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Extremely well researched and written, if slightly too self-important and opinionated, 29 Mar 2009
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This book impresses with the quality of research and the depth of insight into many of the stories that are celebrated as huge scoops for the News of The World. It tries to illustrate that many of the shocking exposes run by the News of the World and some other tabloids are often distorted views of reality, serving to only damage the reputation of their targets in the name of shifting more copy.

A major target of this accusation is "fake sheik" Mazher Mahmood, who in a perverse role-reversal happens to be the subject of an act of reputation bashing on behalf of the author. He claims that Mahmood was fired from The Sunday Times after trying to change information on the paper's mainframe to save face. True or not, it is hardly the major issue that is portrayed and underplays the fact that journalism, particularly tabloid,is about finding stories that interest the public.

He does acknowledge that Mahmood has had some major coups in bringing down major criminals, but reckons that he has lost his touch and has not had a significant story in years. This is rather harsh, given that Mahmood himself admits that he cannot keep carrying off the fake sheik guise due to familiarity.

The rest of the book feels like it was written by a man on the outside looking in, which is fair enough, as the author is indeed by his own admission, not a journalist. Some of his arguments make for strong opinion, but opinion is a weaker weapon than hard fact and that makes it unconvincing in places. In particular, his personal link to Guy Pelly via his daughter, is written from the angle that he is a nice young man who got coaxed into a sleazy nightclub by a naughty tabloid. He claims there was no public interest, although in my opinion, having read the events, I would take issue with our second-in-line hanging around with someone who even in this flattering portrait, seems a bit of a lounge lizard.

The early chapters still keep this in good read territory, if by virtue that they are concise and fairly entertaining profiles of how the News of the World functions. It takes issue at the "dark-arts" and many of the examples exposed are very well explained. The Lawrence Dallagio sting and other drug related exposes give an angle to the stories that has never been debated, in that many rely on entrapment. The use of drugs to snare celebs is a theme running through many of the stings and is one of the more convincing arguments for evidence of foul play within the book.

I feel sorry for the celebs rather more after reading this book, but to be fair many of the celebs who claim to have been unfairly stung can only have themselves to blame for their actions and to morally slam tabloids for coercing the scoop due to their impulses is a feeble criticism.

If we had a press as desired by the author of this book, all kinds of sleaze would go undetected within society. This point is overlooked to argue of tabloids with too slack a leash. Do I agree with this, but I do feel it makes a fair stab at it and it is very well written.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 26, 2011 1:23 PM BST

JCVD [2008] [DVD]
JCVD [2008] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jean-Claude Van Damme
Price: 2.58

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A five star film for fans and a performance to match from Van Damme, marred by poor support and suspicions of ego-mania, 8 Feb 2009
This review is from: JCVD [2008] [DVD] (DVD)
For fans of Van Damme this film is an absolute must buy and for me, it is his finest all round film since Legionnaire in 1997. It offers a genuinely fascinating insight into a very complex actor and man, captured with some of the finest cinematography ever displayed in any of his previous films. If this film proves anything, it is that with the right director and resources, Jean Claude can still deliver truly highly entertaining films.

The problem is, that while this is a personal triumph for Van Damme against his critics, his audience is left rather short changed. If you are a fan, you will be buying it for action and his martial arts ability. Van Damme always pushed the limits of these stunts, even right upto The Order in 2001. It is totally marketed around the expectation of excitement, "a man on the edge" is the tagline, surrounded by apocalyptic scenarios that we have loved to see him tackle with an array of breathtaking set pieces.

Fans are left with a soul searching drama, that is well done but lacks any real urgency. Jean-Claude saves this film, because thankfully he gives a truly fabulous performance that could have dragged this film into becoming an hilarious melodrama. He cross the line at one point though, his moving speech on his loves when his life appears in danger is marred by his truly naff "If I die in the post office tonight..." line that moved me from tears of empathy to laughter. It is incredible how Van Damme manages to make such a self indulgent idea so compelling for so much of the running time, but he does and it is a real tribute to an acting ability that has elevated him above his peers.

Non-fans will not buy into any of this and will probably view it as Van Damme enjoying an EU-funded love-in with his belgian chums. This view is sadly endorsed by the woeful special features that see him tootling round Brussels in Bono-a-like shades and waving regally at his fans, while giving an Alan-Partridge style commentary from a car into a hotel about, all the people who have wronged him over the past 10 years!

The script is totally fine, really tight and easy to follow but the whole heist is ruined by some really poor supporting actors. They are b-rate Tarantino-esque baddies without the wit or menace and are probably best suited to panto. Were they really meant to be this camp?

Bottom line is, Van Damme is truly superb, the direction is magnificent but the whole thing is dragged down by the poor support acting and total lack of action. If you care for Van Damme, buy it, if not and you want a good bit of drama then season four of desperate housewives is probably better and has hotter females!

Confessions of a Fake Sheik: 'The King of the Sting' Reveals All
Confessions of a Fake Sheik: 'The King of the Sting' Reveals All
by Mazher Mahmood
Edition: Hardcover

11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning celebration of how the Sheik sheiks the celebs!, 23 Oct 2008
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This book is perhaps one of the most insightful, yet accessable books on journalism ever written. While many journalists write self-celebratory career reflectives that focus on their own record of sacrifice and devotion, Mazher Mahmood focuses on the fact that journalism is ultimately about people. We do get personal insights but these are lightly sprinkled with a relevancy to each story.

It is effectively a "greatest hits" compilation that deals with all of his most high profile cases including Sven, The Beckhams, Britney Spears and Sophie Anderton amongst others. However, as he explains, it isn't all glitz and Mr Mahmood has helped to nab a whole rogues gallery of crooks, including the shocking tale of the woman who tried to sell her young daughter's virginity to the highest bidder. In fact, to date, over 230 criminals have been brought to justice because of his work and it is this fact that elevates this book from being not just great fun but "Exhibit A" into the importance of journalism today.

Mr Mahmood writes in a very engaging way that covers all the stings without delivering rehashed versions of the News of the World stories. He expands upon them by giving un-expected anicdotes at the point of scene with a particularly explosive insight into his expose upon chat-show legend Jerry Springer. Generally, we all know what happend, but Mr Mahmood makes the book engaging by telling the reader how it happend, why it happend and what happend next.

It all works on so many levels, it is great fun to read for celeb fans but for journos it does deliver a timely reminder that journalism is no "pen and paper" trade. The Sheik delves into this to excite and entertain with the public interest at heart. It is this attitude that has helped save lives and bring down the corrupt.

Off With Their Heads
Off With Their Heads
Price: 3.72

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Chiefs are back as potent as ever but Ronson spoils the broth!, 23 Oct 2008
This review is from: Off With Their Heads (Audio CD)
I bought this album the day after an awesome album launch gig at London's Forum. The new material sounded awesome live and I had hoped that the raucious magic that had filled the previous two albums was present here.

It is..for the first half but then things go completely askew with "Tomatoes in the rain" with a series of songs that are overproduced and frankly ponderous. Unsurprisingly none of these songs made appearances at that gig, but at least the songs pre "tomatoes" are really good.

"Never Miss a Beat" is a true classic and was one of the earliest songs on the album, produced before Mark Ronson could get his meddling paws on the album. Spanish Metal is a good opener with a strong rift and "Good Days, Bad days" which was particularly awesome live, has that Kaiser trademark of being a great chanting anthem.

I hope this album is a grower, but other than that increasingly forlorn hope, I have to say I think the problem lies with Mark Ronson and "too many cooks" syndrome. So many tracks sound the same and are fussily produced with excessive layers of sound, lacking the simple hooks of previous albums. The Kaisers are the ultimate University band for chanting on a sports social and I thought "Yours Truly Angry Mob" was the ultimate "terrace" album. Mark Ronson is a brill DJ but his production is very limited. His influence stretches to the addition of Trumpets, strings, violins and Ago-go bells for crying out loud!

This isn't the Royal Symphony Orchestra, this is the Kaiser Chiefs! Such a blamcamage of sound is like too many toppings on a pizza, the good ingredients are still there but they lack the fusion of flavour that makes the sensation truly satisfying. That probably explains why these songs will sound great live, but struggle to have an impact on this album.

21 Nights
21 Nights
by Prince
Edition: Hardcover

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So very glam, so very prince, an indulgent pleasure!, 7 Oct 2008
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This review is from: 21 Nights (Hardcover)
Firstly this book is perhaps one of the most opulent, self-indulgent books I have ever purchased, but when it is the finest artist of his generation responsible for such extravagance how can you say no? Every photo appears to have been staged and feels more like a photoshoot than the intimate behind-the-scenes insight the book first appears. It features little in the way of photos from the shows and that is perhaps the biggest dissapointment. Especially as the Indigo o2 is not represented at all in the photography, a shame as I have great memories from seeing prince there and the CD is from his aftershow set there.

What makes this book special is the presentation, the quality of the paper and overall packaging is truly first rate, capturing the quest for perfection that prince has strived for in his performances. It is hard to knock such a well rounded product at such a fair price. It may be self-indulgent, but Prince is no egoist- he really loves to indulge his fans too and that is what we get in this lavashly presented book.

The CD is pure gold, you know why you want this, it is for the music and all that can be said is that it truly delivers. Okay Misty Blue and Alphabet Street do drag on a bit, but this is a wonderful exhibit to his musical genius. His live band sounded great in the indigo 02 and the sound quality of this live release is probably the best I have heard taken from such an intimate venue. It would be wrong for me to pick highlights as this is a largely flawless performance that is worth every penny, just wish the photos had a bit more soul to them.

Said And Done
Said And Done
by Roger McGough
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.63

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant book that kept me gripped from start to finish, 3 Oct 2008
This review is from: Said And Done (Paperback)
Roger McGough is not particularly well-known by people who are not interested in poetry, or were not alive when the 1960s boom of mersey-sound took the world by storm. Roger McGough was a major cultural influence in shaping this with the scaffold and in his poetry. This book acts as a great historical document towards growing up in post-war Liverpool (well, Crosby anyway) and how his upbringing shaped his poems.

I am far too young to remember any of this, but Mr McGough engages with the reader and writes in a way, that typically for a poet is fascinatingly visceral. For that reason, I was hooked and can now appreciate his poetry in a new light. The anicdotes of growing up and going to a restrictive catholic grammar school, show that writing was one of the few ways that Mr McGough could express himself unrestrictively.

Fans will appreciate all the banter and his creative partnership with Mike McCartney but for those of us who read autobiographies to hear a good story, few are told quite a eloquently as this.

Ferrari Challenge: Trofeo Pirelli (Wii)
Ferrari Challenge: Trofeo Pirelli (Wii)

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dull, poor graphics and lacks immersive wow factor, 21 Sep 2008
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
This game is the biggest dissapointment to have ever graced the wii. I love realistic racing games and ferrari F355 challenge is one of my all time favourites. Trouble is, 9 years on system 3 have decided to make their own worse version on Wii. The only good thing about this game is the sense of speed, eveything else is a tedium fest. Oh alright, I suppose Tiff Needell is pretty good as is the music!

First off, it looks utterly awful, far worse than F355 challenge on the dreamcast that came out in 2000! The trees look like direct descendants from those seen on F1 world Grand Prix on the Nintendo 64 and the cars are so low res that the ones seen on Sega Saturn Sega Rally now appear sharp fifteen years on!

The menu system is fiddly and the technical changes to the cars can never be made subtly...they make a massive difference! The races are also deeply boring and have little option to increase the fun. F355 challenge only offered a few laps on shortish circuits but every circuit on here is nicked either from the F1 calendar or is designed for faster or less endurance focused racing. Hence every race either sees you miles in front or behind.

Such a missed opportunity and it only gets 2 stars because believe it or not I have actually played worse racing games on the wii!

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