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Dempsey and Makepeace - Series 3 - Complete [DVD]
Dempsey and Makepeace - Series 3 - Complete [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michael Brandon

4.0 out of 5 stars The Third Series Of The Fun, 80's British Action-Drama Series, 16 Mar 2011
This excellent DVD box set collection of the cult-classic, British action-drama series, Dempsey And Makepeace, contains all of the third season. The series spanned three seasons, filmed between 1984-86. Anyone who enjoys a bit of nostalgia and classic 80's TV then this box set is most definitely for you, and for all fans of Dempsey And Makepeace, this is simply essential!

THE COMPLETE THIRD SERIES

DISC ONE:

Disc one, and series three, begins with a two part story, The Burning, two of my very favourite episodes of the series where Dempsey's New York past finally catches up with him and his life becomes under threat by an old enemy. The complex relationship between Dempsey and Makepeace is touchingly drawn upon. Then Jericho Scam is where Dempsey is framed for a robbery and goes on the run.

DISC TWO:

The Prize Fighter is fun as the dynamite duo find themselves exploring the perils of illegal bare-knuckle fighting while Extreme Prejudice is one of the weaker episodes in the series where Dempsey is thrust into a life and death situation. Then Bird Of Prey sees Dempsey and Makepeace face their old enemy, Joe Lymon, who they hesitantly call upon for help following the kidnapping of a young girl.

DISC THREE:

This last disc is consistently excellent and some of the best in the series, particularly Out Of Darkness, which is indeed darker than usual as Makepeace trys to catch a serial murderer while The Cortez Collection features the investigation of a South American drugs gang. Mantrap sees Dempsey and Makepeace on the trail of a criminal mastermind and then finally disc three ends, and the series itself, with Guardian Angel when after seeing Dempsey nearly murdered, Makepeace decides to quit the force and her strong personal feelings for Dempsey are soon discovered. This excellent last episode also saw Michael Brandon move into the director's chair.

Among the special features in this third box set are two episodes of Takes Of The Unexpected alternately starring Michael Brandon and Glynis Barber, plus a vintage interview with Glynis Barber from 1987.

More than anything the overall electric chemistry between Michael brandon and Glynis Barber completely shines through and it's their engaging performances that really carry the series. Unlike a lot of other cop shows of the time, a lot of the reason why people watched and loved Dempsey and Makepeace was the often explosive interaction between the two leads. Though some of the plots were pretty wafer-thin and the action laughably far-fetched, again this is always redeemed by the enjoyable performances from Brandon and Barber. This dvd box set is certainly excellent value for money, attractively packaged and boasting good picture and sound quality. A must-have for fans.

Ian Phillips
March 2011


Birds of a Feather: The Complete BBC Series 2 [DVD]
Birds of a Feather: The Complete BBC Series 2 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Linda Robson
Price: 17.47

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great To Have The Birds Back!!!, 1 Mar 2011
At long last, and after what literally seemed an eternity waiting, the entire series of the classic BBC sitcom Birds Of A Feather has been released on DVD. Running for nine years (1989-98) and spanning over 100 episodes, Birds Of A Feather remains a refreshingly funny show, containing an earthy quality that is positively timeless. The sparkling chemistry shared between Pauline Quirke and Linda Robson as two Essex girls, Sharon and Tracey, is totally natural, having been virtually life-long friends in real life. In that fact, it makes it easy to believe in their on-screen relationship as two close sisters.

Blending in beautifully, and arguably the icing on the cake, is the always impeccably-timed Lesley Joseph as the 'birds' nosy, man-mad neighbour Dorian Green. Much of the comedy between Sharon, Tracey and Dorian stems from the class difference between them with Dorian firmly seeing herself as infinitely superior to the two working-class sisters. Welcomingly, this second series finds the character of Dorian drawn upon a touch more than as in the first series. She comes into her own and often makes the perfect foil for Sharon and Traceys earthy, and often razor-sharp, wit.

This 3-disc collection comprises all fifteen episodes of the Series 2, originally screened on BBC.1 in a prime-time slot circa late 1990, plus the feature-length Christmas special of that year. On Disc One the second season surprisingly doesn't exactly kick off with a bang in 'Getting A Grip'. Tracey recieves several overdue bills, leaving her frantic with worry and when the heating system breaks down she's left on the brink of dispair. There are a few laughs but overall it's a bit of a limp start.

Thankfully the series gets back in full swing, and back to the high standard of the first series in 'Sweet Smell Of Success' where Tracey and Sharon try their hands at flogging cheap perfume. To help make ends meet following a serious cash-flow problem, Tracey reluctantly decides to sell Darryls beloved Jag - with disastorous consequences.

In 'Young Guns', Tracey questions Garths sexuality when he brings home an older boy to stay with him during the school holidays. In typical Dorian-style, she decides there's only one way to find out if the pair are actually gay! Then in 'Muesli', Darryl sinks into a deep depression when a fellow inmate is released. So Tracey decides to test her own resilience and in order to try and understand exactly how it feels for Darryl to be locked away in prison, she converts the box room into a cell. Sharon gets in on the act too, proving she has as much will-power as Tracey. The girls are locked away by Dorian, who delights in playing the warder. Meanwhile Darryl ironically ends up having a fun weekend thanks to the efforts of a sympathetic fellow inmate.

In 'Keep Off The Grass' Tracey and Sharon find themselves questioning whether or not they should turn in a local villian who had commited an armed robbery, during which a pensioner had been injured, while 'Mice' is one of my own personal favourites of this season. Tracey is horrified to discover the ghastly state of Sharons bedroom (including an uneaten kebab, left in a drawer to rot for several weeks!!) and is absolutley livid when she finds out her house is crawling with mice. Then in 'Brief Encounter', Sharon starts seeing an older man whom she had helped after he was mugged while Dorian feels humiliated by her new outer-London dialling code, insisting that it states the area she lives in will be perceived as "down market".

Moving onto Disc Two, 'You Pays Yer Money' sees Sharon in dismay when she can not vote for the by-election since she is not registered on the electorial roll. Darryl offers to sell his vote at 350 much to Sharons fury, but determined to raise the cash, she starts selling off some of the stolen goods that her old dodgy friend Fat Stan had been storing in her Edmonton flat.

in 'Trust', Tracey desperately trys in vein to quit smoking, leaving her nerves on the edge (and taking her moods out on Sharon) and feeling vulnreable she begins to fall in lust with her gentle, mild-mannered therapist. 'Thirty Something' is where Sharons 30 birthday looms closer and she finds herself reflecting on her life and all of the lost opportunities. She also considers buying her Edmonton flat as an investment and takes a less-than-impressed Dorian along to the property for some advice.

'Love On The Run' is another personal favourite of mine. During a stint in hospital, Darryl hatches a cunning plan to spend a night in a hotel with Tracey. Once at the hotel, Darryl contemplates going on the run. Meanwhile Sharon has a spot of fun of her own with Tracey safely out the way! 'Old Friends' is one of the weaker episodes of this series. An already insecure Sharon worries when Tracey renews her friendship with Trish, who was her best friend at school. It soon seems, though, that it's actually Sharon and Trish that have far more in common.

'Parting' is an episode which strikes a winning balance of comedy and drama, which is always what made Birds Of A Feather so great to watch. Sharon is refusing point blank to visit her husband Chris in prison and tells him outright that she plans to sell her wedding ring and forget they'd ever met. But she is forced to have second thoughts when Chris tells her is seriously ill.

'Jobs For The Girls' is good fun where Sharon sets up her own pet-sitting business and encounters a young rival determined to outdo her. Tracey is hired by Dorian to type up her new steamy, romantic novel but it becomes all too apparent that Dorian has resoted to plagiarism. In the last episode of Series 2, 'Someone Else's Baby', the formula reverts to the comedy-drama elements that had made the first series such an instant success, although, of course, there are still plenty of laughs to enjoy. The BBC Antiques Roadshow is coming to Chigwell and Sharon, Tracey and Dorian are all determined to make an appearance. When Sharon and Tracey start rummaging through all their old junk in the attic they discover an old writing box which contains a startling letter that opens up a can of worms. Had Sharon and Tracey been adopted and are they infact real sisters? It's up to their rather batty old Aunt Sylvie to set the record straight.

The 1990 Christmas Special 'Falling In Love Again' is a treat, clocking in at 80 minutes long. In the 1990's, Birds Of A Feather, as most will fondly remember, was a Christmas tv favourite. After Sharon wins a tv dating show, she and Tracey fly off to Berlin where Tracey finds herself falling in love with a dashing German mechanic, Manfred. Meanwhile Dorians husband Marcus is caught cheating on her so Dorian moves into Tracey's while she's away in Berlin. Over in Berlin Sharon tries to clear off some old debts to save her husband from the dreaded McCarthy brothers.

All told, this second series is a must-have for any fan of Birds Of A Feather. These episodes are over 20 years old but still flow remarkably well. The scripts are sharp and punchy, the stories and situations are fun, and most of all, the show brims with more than memroable comic performances by the three leading stars.

Ian Phillips
March 2011


Fresh Fields - Series 1 [DVD] [1984]
Fresh Fields - Series 1 [DVD] [1984]
Offered by signalboyblue
Price: 19.99

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cute, easy-viewing, classic ITV sitcom from the 1980's, 14 Feb 2011
I must admit I have quite a soft spot for Fresh Fields as I distinctly remember it being one of the very first sitcoms I watched and loved, having been around just 4 or 5 years old when it began. It's nice to see this old classic sitcom finally out on DVD after years of it seldom being screened. Considerably slipping into obscurity in more recent years is all the more surprising by the fact that in its day Fresh Fields was enormously popular, spanning four seasons between 1984-86, and an equally popular sequel French Fields (1989-1991). Instantly attracting big viewing figures it also found itself the recipitent of various awards including a BAFTA for the adorable Julia McKenzie and even an Emmy Award in the USA. After the series ended it faded from view but now with Julia McKenzie's profile high once again, playing amateur sleuth Miss Marple in the hit ITV series, Fresh Fields, for which she is arguably best known, has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity with the release of the DVD's.

Fresh Fields is most definitely what you call undemanding viewing - perfect, perhaps, for a rainy Sunday afternoon. It's not exactly a laugh out loud programme brimming with belly laughs, but does provide some fairly amusing moments that are bound to make you quietly chuckle to yourself. Very gentle in humour the show does flow quite well for its age and always exceedingly entertaining.

Created and written by John Chapman with production and direction courtesy of Peter Frazer-Jones, Fresh Fields is centered on William and Hester who have been happily married for over twenty years. Now their children have flown the nest, and William is working long hours as an accountant, Hester finds herself suffering a bit of a mid-life crisis. Determined to inject some spice back in her marriage and some much-needed excitement in her life Hester continually tries to find new hobbies, challenges and adventures to occupy her time, often met with a less than enthusiastic response from her mild-mannered husband. Such activities inevitably lead and end in disaster.

The undoubted star of the show is the delightful Julia McKenzie as the bubbly, ever-enthusiastic, well-meaning though slightly scatter-brained Hester Fields. Her sparkling presence is complimented by Anton Rodgers as her dry-witted husband William. McKenzie and Rodgers share an undeniable on-screen chemistry, sparking and bouncing off one another effortlessly.

Also in the fold is Ann Beach as the Fields somewhat nosy neighbour Sonia who has an annoying habit of turning up at the Fields home at the most inconvinient of times and always announcing as she enters through the backdoor (often uninvited) "It's only Sonia!" She provides good comic support as does Fanny Rowe playing Hesters prissy mother Nancy, who lives in a granny flat at the end of the Fields garden.

Episodes in this first series are 'Dish Of The Day', where Hester, already an accomplished cook, is delighted to get a part-time job at the local bistro...only there's very little in the way of customers! 'Middle Age Dread' sees Hester applying for a job in a trendy fashion store, only to be cruelly knocked back because of her age. So Hester, not one to be beaten, decides to prove that the old adage 'you're as young as you feel' is indeed true - and she succeeds.

'Hook, Line And Sink Her' sees the Fields and Hesters mother Nancy heading off on a fishing trip while 'The Naked Truth' is particularly funny where William has a client visiting from the Middle East and Hester is sent off to greet him at the airport. And it seems this client enjoys mixing business with pleasure which Hester is forced to endure.

'Des.Det.Res' finds William contemplating on selling their large home for a smaller property much to Hesters dismay and so she, Sonia and Nancy hatch up a cunning little plan. Finally 'Something In The Oven' closes the disc and William and Hester are thrilled to learn that their daughter Emma is pregnant, though are quickly appalled when they find out that Emma and her boyfriend Peter still have no plans to marry.

All very predictable and corny stuff but on the right day and in the right mood Fresh Fields remains a fun, enjoyable watch and is a fine example of pleasantly innocent, classic British comedy.

Ian Phillips
February 2011


Birds of a Feather: The Complete BBC Series 1 [DVD]
Birds of a Feather: The Complete BBC Series 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Linda Robson
Price: 5.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic, but often misreably underrated, BBC sitcom, 7 Feb 2011
Network have come up trumps yet again by delivering us this much-welcome DVD of the very first series of the much-loved (and sorely missed) Birds Of A Feather. This collects all of the first six episodes and the 1989 Christmas special. Watching this nicely presented DVD will be sure to remind you all exactly why Birds Of A Feather was one of the highest-rated British sitcoms of the 1990s.

Spanning nine successful seasons and over an impressive 100 episodes during its lengthy run between 1989-1998, its status as a comedy classic is firmly cemented. Yet time seems to have somewhat eclipsed its creditable achievements as one of the biggest TV comedy hits of its time. Seldom has it been re-run on terrestrial television in recent years and on occasions its been considerably over-looked and dismissed by some of the more snobbish television critics who seemingly didn't take to the three brash, bold and out-going female characters. However it's the audience that has the final say and Birds Of A Feather was a winner from the off, instantly attracting enormous viewing figures (as it did consistently throughout its entire run). If anyone was to ask why this series was so successful i'd easily answer that it was the strikingly stark contrast of the three lead characters: Sharon, Tracey and their nosy neighbour Dorian. The trio made for a dynamic
blend that seamlessly bounce off one another and thus making for some highly amusing and entertaining viewing.

Whereas the two sisters Sharon (Pauline Quirke) and Tracey (Linda Robson)are two working-class, street-wise, down-to-earth Essex girls, their rather snobbish, often selfish, occasionally pretentious and ever-interfering, man-mad neighbour Dorian Green (skilfully played by the always impeccably-timed Lesley Joseph) is the total opposite. Dorian tends to see herself as a cut above Sharon and Tracey but it becomes clear that her vivacious personality is merley a front. Underneath it all she's very vulnreable and lonely and constantly seeks solace and comfort in Sharon and Tracey. Touchingly as the series progresses, a genuine bond between the three emerges and though they often clash due to Dorians patronising and condescending attitude towards them, they genuinely love and support each other.

The scripts in this season are sharp and punchy, perfectly complemented by the earthy performances of Linda Robson and Pauline Quirke and the sparkling presence of Lesley Joseph. As funny as the first series is, it never once quite loses its grim on reality and there's often an edge of gritty realism and undertones of soap opear-like drama bubbling away due to the continuity of the central storyline that bound these three women together. Created and written by the genius duo Laurence Marks and Maurice Green (famous for other such gems as Shine On Harvey Moon in which both Robson and Quirke appeared, The New Statesman and Goodnight Sweetheart), Birds Of A Feather was, in its early years, aptly described as the female equivalent of Only Fools And Horses while another critic commented that the character of Sharon was Britains answer to Roseanne Barr. I certainly have to agree with both quotes as both were intended as complimentary.

The DVD kicks off with the very first episode, which premiered on BBC.1 in late 1989 (and swiftly receiving a number of complaints from some bemused viewers who said the language was too course for a pre-watershed time slot, though it's fair to say its very mild by todays standards - and even then there really was very little to quibble about!!!!). Episode one opens by shrewdly depicting the vastly different lifestyles the two sisters have been leading. Sharon is living in a run-down, high-rise council block in Edmonton with her no-hoper Greek husband Chris (David Cardy). Sharons almost given up on life with the years of poverty and struggling and a painfully unhappy and frustating marriage having weighed her down. Meanwhile Tracey has been living in wedded bliss with her husband Darryl (Alun Lewis) in a large swanky house that has its own swimming pool in upmarket Chigwell.

However things are abruptly ended upside down when an armed robbery carried out by Darryl and Chris ends in their arrest. Subsequently the two husbands are sentenced to twelve years inprisonment with no chance of parole for at least eight years. Previously oblivious to their spouses criminal activities, Sharon moves into Tracey's luxury home for companionship . While Tracey is totally distraught at being parted from her beloved husband, Sharon on the contrary couldn't be happier and sees this as a new beginning to a better life for herself.

In the second episode 'Just Visiting' Traceys faced with another emotional dilemma when her teenage son Garth returns home from boarding school, and is still unaware of his fathers inprisonment. However it's Sharon who ends up breaking the news to Garth which leaves him enraged.

Then in episode 3, entitled 'Shift', Tracey accuses Sharon of not paying her way so Sharon returns to her job at the supermarket, only to be paid off to leave as neither the staff or customers believe that Sharon knew nothing of her husbands criminal activities. So with all the money she's given Sharon goes and buys a whole new wardrobe and brimming with confidence and looking and feeling good for a change heads down to the local wine bar where she soon meets the eye of a telecom engineer by the name of Dave. Back at Traceys things are looking bleak as the police raid her home.

With series one now in full swing , the fourth episode 'Women's Troubles' sees a startling revelation for Sharon. Believing that she was unable to have children due to her dubious husbands lies and manipulations to cover up his own infertility, Sharon is shocked to discover she is pregnant by her new boyfriend Dave.

The next episode 'Cheat' is my personal favourite of series one. Relying on anti-depressants to get her through the day, Tracey is urged to reactivate her social life and goes to a social dinner with Dorian and Marcus, only Dorian sneaks off mid way through the evening for a spot of extra marital activity (nothing new there then!) whilst Marcus later makes a pass at Tracey which she then uses to her advantage.

Series One draws to a close with 'Substitute' where Sharon is considering divorcing Chris and Tracey embarks upon an affair with a celebrity footballer, introduced to her by her man-hungry neighbour Dorian. The disc then finishes with the fun Christmas special 'Sailing'. Tracey recieves a couple of tickets for a luxury cruise over the festive season which had been planned as a romantic surprise by Darryl before he was sent to prison. Determined not to go, feeling it would be wrong without Darryl, Sharon and Dorian relentlessly try to change her mind.

A deserved international success, this first series DVD was a taste of what was to follow over the next nine years. Any fan of classic British comedy will love it! At long, long last the full series will be on DVD - and not before time!!!

Ian Phillips
February 2011


Falcon Crest - Season One - 4-DVD Box Set ( Falcon Crest - Season 1 )
Falcon Crest - Season One - 4-DVD Box Set ( Falcon Crest - Season 1 )
Dvd ~ Jane Wyman
Offered by Den's DVDs
Price: 23.97

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In My Eyes, THE No.1 American Soap Of All Time!!!, 10 May 2010
Well, that famous old adage 'they don't make them like this anymore' applies accordingly to Falcon Crest. Yet after watching this very first season on DVD (years after watching the soap on TV when i was a very young kid) I realised that the series is, perhaps, even more fun and gloriously entertaining to watch because of that, having come from the 1980's - the era of greed, money and power; arguably the golden age of television. This belated release on DVD is way over-due! And I sure am absolutely delighted to learn that the entire series of Falcon Crest (spanning nine successful seasons and an impressive 227 episodes made between 1981-1990) will (deservedly) be (at long, long last!) released in the near future.

This super soap has often been sorely underated but too me, and many others i'm sure, Falcon Crest very easily scores well above its most obvious rivals like Dallas and Dynasty in that it retained a far earthier quality than those shows - and all the better for it. The characters, for instance, are certainly a lot more credible and beleavable with the heart of the soap centering on family values rather than the glitz and glamour of other US soaps. Saying that it's not all loving, happy families of course - far from it infact! And while many of the outlandish plots are, at times, wildly far-fetched and melodramatic it remains totally addictive, compulsive viewing throughout.

The now-classic soap, aptly described by one critic as 'The Godfather with grapes' owing to the Italian-American heritage of the central family (and its many underworld connections), is set in the heart of the fictional Tuscany Valley. These vinyards are owned and controlled by the ruthless and dangerous Angela Channing, played absolutely brilliantly by the late, great Jane Wyman (R.I.P). After the mysterious death of Angela's brother Jason, Chase Gioberti (Robert Foxworth), an airline pilot, re-locates from New York to move permanently into Falcon Crest with his loving wife Maggie (Susan Sullivan), a freelance writer and journalist, and their two teenage children, Cole (William R Moses) who's aspiring to be an archaeologist, and Vicky (Jamie Rose), who's ambition is to become an actress and dancer. The Gioberti's move to Falcon Crest is signalled by Chase inheriting part of the land from his father's will (much to Angela's annoyance). Jason's death had been accidentally caused by the somewhat mentally-challenged, niaeve but well-meaning Emma Channing (played beautifully by Margaret Ladd) and in a desperate bid to protect her emotionally fragile daughter (and no doubt the family name and her large inheritance - a clause in Jason and Angela's father's will, when he left them fifty per cent each of Falcon Crest, depicts that if either one of his children die in suspicious circumstances it automatically terminates either one of them inheriting the full land) Angela has his untimely death covered up.

After Chase's inheritance of part of Falcon Crest (which would be rightfully his if the real circumstances of Jason's death had been common knowledge), Angela relentlessly tries to gain back full control of all of Falcon Crest's land that she believes is rightfully hers, and the two feuding familes battle it out incessantly.

And so begins the fabulously fun first season as the story shrewdly unravels, with twists and turns all the way and the cunning, canniving Angela at the centre of the action. Startling and sordid family revelations and secrets, dodgy double-dealing's, blackmail and murder are just an ordinary, everyday occurence in Falcon Crest!

Jane Wyman is simply fantastic as nasty old Angela Channing, playing her with utter conviction and, endearingly, displaying a range of dimensions to the character that makes her endlessly entertaining to watch. Angela often looks as though butter wouldn't melt in her mouth but behind that warm, gracious smile lies a hard, cruel woman obsessed with money and power, controlling her family and their lives, as well as her beloved vinyards that goes back generations in her family.

Other major players in Season One includes the wonderful Abby Dalton as Angela's daughter, Julia Cumson, who is clearly becoming more and more frustated and repressed by her ever-domineering mother (there's some great storylines with her character in future seasons); the lovely Susan Sullivan as loveable and level-headed Maggie who is notably more down to earth in contrast to some of the other money-obsessed characters; Robert Foxworth as Chase who is constantly at loggerheads with his scheming, evil aunt, Angela; Lorenzo Lamas as the hunky but nasty, selfish and manipulative (no doubt traits he inherited from his grandmother Angela) Lance Cumson, Julia's playboy son; Jamie Rose as Vicky, the kind and sweet (if occasionally tempremental) daughter of Maggie and Chase; William R Moses as Cole (Chase and Maggie's son), a good-hearted young man but with a violent temper that occasionally surfaces (and escalates); Stephen Elliot as Angela's ex-husband Douglas Channing (though Douglas and Angela still share a close friendship); Nick Ramus as Guz Nunouz as one of Chase's loyal hard-workers at the vinyard (and from the outset is suspicious of Jason's death), and finally a marvelous turn from Margaret Ladd in a delightful performance as Angela's mentally-challenged daughter Emma Channing, whom Angela selfishly tries to hide away all the time, no doubt out of embarassment.

The last episode of Season One, where Chase finally learns the truth about how his father really died, leaves you utterly compelled to see what an earth is going to happen next. So roll on Season Two being released as I, for one, am thoroughly enjoying watching this cult-classic super US soap all over again. Though considerably dated now, boasting some fairly amusing 80's fashions, Falcon Crest on the whole still flows extremely well; the scripts sparkling, sharp and punchy. There's still a vast energy about it, not least down to Jane Wyman's always riveting performance. Also on this DVD look out for a guest-starring role from Hollywood legend Lana Turner, playing Chase's glamorous mother. Rumours circulated at the time that Jane Wyman and Lana Turner hated each other so much that they couldn't bare to be in the same room as one another and therefore their (very memroable) scenes together had to be filmed seperately. But then that could just be hearsay of course so who knows. Certainly remains a fun episode to watch!

It really is no overstatement to say Falcon Crest was and is one of the most consistently entertaining shows in TV history. This DVD box set of the first season is testament to that and will be sure to remind you why.

Ian Phillips
May 2010
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 15, 2010 9:06 AM BST


What's Going On
What's Going On
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 5.38

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No serious Soul music collection is complete without the presence of this album!, 28 April 2010
This review is from: What's Going On (Audio CD)
The utter genius and legendary Marvin Gaye, rightly hailed as the king of Motown, remains one of the most outstanding, influential and innovative artist's in Soul music - infact Popular music in general. His unparalled, undisputed talents set standards for generations. What's Going On is, arguably, his most ever-green work.

'What's Going On' nearly didn't happen. It seems so inconceivable now but Motown boss Berry Gordy didn't understand or appreciate the songs depth upon first hearing, adament that it wouldn't be a commercial success. Gordy initially even refused to release the single, convinced it would flop. In retaliation to this, Gaye refused to record any more material for Motown until Gordy finally (and reluctantly) relented and in January 1971, the single hit record stores. Well, Gaye's gut instinct proved to be spot on - the single flew up to No.2 on the US Pop Billboard Chart. Gaye then proceeded to record the remainder of the album of the same name, which was completed within ten days in March'71 and the release being in May of the same year. The album was quickly recognised and acknowledged as a universal masterpiece, swiftly dispelling any reservation Berry Gordy may have had.

Unlike before he recorded this project, Gaye was allowed the full artistic and creative freedom to write and produce material about issue's of the world he cared deeply about. His work on here came straight from the heart. Gaye meditated and reflected on the American dream of the past, conveying often poetic-like lyrics that related to the escalating urban decy, spiralling environmental problems, police brutality, poverty and unemployment - issue's that had touched Gaye's soul.

The majestic title track is a pure masterpiece and one of the upmost greatest Soul/Pop recordings ever made. A glorious backing arrangement, including a beautifully understated Saxophone interlude on the track's magical opening, intertwine effectively with Gaye's pure emotive and soulful performance. The lyrics are thought-provoking throughout; if you take a listen, the song is sadly just as relevant today as it was back in 1971.

The remainder of this project is sublime. The beautifully soulful, atmospheric mood are entwined with alternately warm, optimistic, angry and at time depressed vocals from this musical visionary. Without a doubt this is Gaye's all-time greatest work, among a long list of top-quality albums that he was to record following this.

'What's Happening Brother' continues in a similar vein to 'What's Going On', the tone and mood sombre and thoughtful. Erratic, divine sax interludes are encapsulated by thick, pulsating basslines and deep, relaxed grooves that becomes contagious. The song depicts the total despair of poverty and unemployment, complemented by Marvin's simply magnificent vocals.

'Flyin High (In The Friendly Sky)', dealing with environmental topics, is set to a smooth, slow beat, filled with bongo's against a gently pounding percussion. The devastatingly poignant 'Save The Children' is deeply profound, reflecting on our rapidly deterioating climate and desperate, abandoned children in the world.

The spiritual 'God Is Love' is an effective forerunner to one of Gaye's definitive classics, the compelling 'Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)' capturing an inspired performance from Gaye while the 8-minute epic of 'Right On', with a winding arrangement, highlighted by repetitive precussion, a sensual piano backdrop, tinkling flutes and conga's, is another outstanding masterpiece that once more explores relevant political issue's.

'Whole Holy' is even more dreamy and mellow flowing seamlessly with a striking blend of instruments. Gaye's relaxed yet strongly emotive vocals enhance the beautifully sparse production. This steadily leads up to the final track and another of Gaye's essential classics, 'Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)' which is utterly captivating. Gaye's unique, distinct voice surfs along the sweeping musical landscapes and just listen to the delightful sounds of Motown's hero's The Funk Brother's (Motown's in-house muscians) masterful, well-crafted, dynamic playing in what has to be one of their most startling and memroable sessions.

What's Going On' was Marvin Gaye's haunting, heartfelt and beautiful, profound expressions of hope, anger and concern. This has stood the time impeccably well, remaining one of the very best, most stylish, accomplished and thought-provoking Soul albums of all time - if not THE best! Essential to any record collection.

Ian Phillips
April 2010
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 20, 2010 9:49 PM BST


Made in Britain (Special Edition) [DVD]
Made in Britain (Special Edition) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tim Roth
Price: 5.39

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Cracking, Hard-Hitting Drama By Alan Clarke, 27 April 2010
The raw, razor-sharp Made In Britain exploded onto television screens in early 1983, as part of ITV's Tales Out Of School series. As well as remaining an important landmark in television drama, it also sealed the reputation of its key creators. Due its violent, uncompromising nature and explicit language it premiered in a late-night slot which certainly didn't hamper high viewing ratings, as anticipated. Though it garnered some controversy, it was generally acclaimed by critics for its powerhouse quality. It is also rightly recognised and acknowledged as one one of the upmost memroable feature-length TV drama's of the 1980's.

Made In Britain is actually a partically fact-based drama with screenwriter David Leland drawing on many of his own personal experiences. The whole social commentary is interesting within itself, capturing this bleak period in British cultural history astutely well. This was the Thatcher-led Britain and the era of punk rockers, skinheads, brutal racism and fascism. Master film maker Alan Clarke was the perfect choice of director for this stark production.
Trevor (Tim Roth) is a hard, violent and racist 16 year old skinhead. Trevor had been caught smashing the windows of an Asian-owned shop in a vicious racial attack. He'd already gathered a lengthy list of offences to his name and this incident had proved to be the final straw. He had long since been disowned by his parents who couldn't cope with his increasingly psychopathic behavious. Following the racist attack Trevor is sent to an assessment centre by his now frustated social worker Harry (Eric Richard) who was nearing the end of his tether with him where every bit of advice he attempts to give to Trevor just falls on deaf ears.

Upon arriving at the assessment centre Trevor is soon discovered to be highly articulate and intelligent. This is made patently clear from Trevor's quick and sharp-witted responses to the understanding supervisors who all try in vain to rehabilitate and nurture him. Trevor refuses to budge, standing his ground. He incessantly pushes the workers patience to their maximum limit. In one memroable scene, Trevor is given permission to go down the local job centre to look for work but once again his impatience gets the better of him and ends up throwing a large brick through the window. It's not long before Trevor is out stealing cars and when returning to the assessment centre, ends up beating up the canteen guy for not serving him lunch (even though he wasnt even hungry and had just ate) and for this is restrained and incarcerated. Even this fails to calm the angry young man down. Another memroable sequence is where he walks through the tunnel looking for trouble.
I wont reveal the ending as to not spoil it for those that have yet to view Made In Britain but can reveal it does prove compelling, climaxing with a powerful, shocking scene.

Tim Roth is utterly superb and incredibly powerful as Trevor, biting into the character with stark conviction. It's a literally electrifying performance and simply outstanding. This was Roth's first-ever role; and what an impressive start to his now, long, illustrious film career. Again Roth drew on some of his own experiences when preparing for the role; he was never a skinhead himself but reveals in the interview on this DVD that he had been on the receiving end of some at one point!
The excellent supporting cast are all extremely effective; most notably Bill Stewart as Peter, the dejected supervisor of the juvenile centre; Eric Richard (more familiar now for his long-ruuning role in The Bill) as the dedicated and determined social worker, Harry; Geoffrey Hutchings as the understanding police superintendent; David Baldwin as Leroy, Trevor's room mate who ventures out with him on a car-stealing spree and smashing the windows of an Asian neighbourhood; Terry Richards as Errol; Alistair Bain as Hopkins and Sean Chapman as Barry Giller, who is all but ready to give up on Trevor, seeing that nothing will get through to him.

The dialogue in the film flows naturastically as do all the tremendous performances, not least by the strong, gritty turn from Tim Roth.
Included on this DVD are enjoyable, interesting and indepth interviews with Tim Roth and screenwriter David Leland.

Ian Phillips
April 2010


The Doors [Expanded] [40th Anniversary Mixes]
The Doors [Expanded] [40th Anniversary Mixes]
Offered by zoverstocks
Price: 4.36

5.0 out of 5 stars The Doors Masterpiece Debut Album, 26 April 2010
This classic, totally outstanding album, first released in 1967 on the Elektra label is, undoubtedly, one of the upmost impressive, compelling recordings in rock music history. It is also most certainly one of the very best first-outings by a rock group.

Indeed The Doors were one of the most exciting, influential and controversial rock bands of the swinging sixties with the legendary genius Jim Morrison as The Doors lead singer, Ray Manzarek controlling the spiralling electric organ, John Denmore on drums and Robby Krieger on guirtar. The Doors never actually recruited a bass player so the sound was, endearingly, highlighted by Ray Manzarek's predominant electric organ, providing a hypnotic backdrop for Jim Morrison's captivating vocals, who rides through the inventive musical landscapes with finesse.
The Doors (1967) album introduced the world to their adventurous, startling fusion of rock, blues, classical and jazz. These diverse blend of styles intertwine beautifully with the poetic, often thought-provoking lyrics, making for an incredibly powerful, innovative album that has set standard's for generations.

The albums opener is the belting and thoroughly infectious 'Break On Through (To The Other Side)', one of my personal favourite's. 'Break On Through' was also The Doors debut single release. The propulsive rhythm flows gloriously with notably nifty guirtar work courtesy of Robby Krieger, entwined with Ray Manzarek's bewitching, ever-effective electric organ interludes and incessant, pounding drum beats from John Denmore, not to mention Jim Morrison's rocketing vocals. An extremely credible start to the album and the single deserved far much more commercial recognition than it initially received at the time.
The stomping, thunderous rock of 'Soul Kitchen' is a cracking affair, complemented by Morrison's mesmerising vocal delivery while the beguiling Oriental mystery of 'The Crystal Ship' is a pure masterpiece (as is the entire album), mellowing the mood somewhat.

Beginning with a magical guirtar riff, blended with the customary electric organ, this leads us into another compelling, stomping rock number 'Twentieth Century Fox', while the fun 'Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)' making for an immediately striking and rather diverting experiment. Morrison's deep, sonorous voice pulsates seamlessly through all the enchanting ebbs and flows.
'Light My Fire' is an out and out classic and one of The Doors major landmarks. Hauntingly atmospheric with its funeral-like electric organ backdrop and Morrison's stirring delivery. They enjoyed their first real taste of significant commercial success and acceptance with 'Light My Fire', swiftly topping the US Billboard Chart (though barely dented the UK Top 50 on its original release; upon its re-issue in the summer of 1991 it flew up into the Top 10). The full severn-minute version is a pure sonic masterpiece, allowing us to enjoy the groups ever-dynamic playing. Another utterly mesmerising and hypnotic afair.

The mid-tempo rock number 'Back Door Man' capture's yet more powerful, expert playing, hosting a rich and deep performance from Morrison who also enhances the tremendous and startling production of 'I Looked At You'.
The dreamy, mysterious 'End Of The Night' highlights the groups remarkable affinity for shrewd, poetic, profound lyrics. Beautiful. 'Take It As It Comes' kicks up the tempo again and this held ample commercial potential (as did practically every track on here), while the tinkling 11-minute oedipal drama 'The End' is literally spine-tingling and has to be one of The Doors most daring, compulsive outings that is completely haunting with its non-stop melodicism, dynamic tension and sombre, dreamy tone.

This album is a pure masterpiece, ranking (in my opinion) among their very best, most innovative work. Excellence all the way. It also became a major seller and spending over two years on the US Billboard chart.This remastered and expanded edition is essential boasting excellent sound quality and brilliant alternate mixes of some of the best tracks of the album.

Ian Phillips


The Doors
The Doors
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: 4.97

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Doors Masterpiece Debut Album, 26 April 2010
This review is from: The Doors (Audio CD)
This classic, totally outstanding album, first released in 1967 on the Elektra label is, undoubtedly, one of the upmost impressive, compelling recordings in rock music history. It is also most certainly one of the very best first-outings by a rock group.

Indeed The Doors were one of the most exciting, influential and controversial rock bands of the swinging sixties with the legendary genius Jim Morrison as The Doors lead singer, Ray Manzarek controlling the spiralling electric organ, John Denmore on drums and Robby Krieger on guirtar. The Doors never actually recruited a bass player so the sound was, endearingly, highlighted by Ray Manzarek's predominant electric organ, providing a hypnotic backdrop for Jim Morrison's captivating vocals, who rides through the inventive musical landscapes with finesse.
The Doors (1967) album introduced the world to their adventurous, startling fusion of rock, blues, classical and jazz. These diverse blend of styles intertwine beautifully with the poetic, often thought-provoking lyrics, making for an incredibly powerful, innovative album that has set standard's for generations.

The albums opener is the belting and thoroughly infectious 'Break On Through (To The Other Side)', one of my personal favourite's. 'Break On Through' was also The Doors debut single release. The propulsive rhythm flows gloriously with notably nifty guirtar work courtesy of Robby Krieger, entwined with Ray Manzarek's bewitching, ever-effective electric organ interludes and incessant, pounding drum beats from John Denmore, not to mention Jim Morrison's rocketing vocals. An extremely credible start to the album and the single deserved far much more commercial recognition than it initially received at the time.
The stomping, thunderous rock of 'Soul Kitchen' is a cracking affair, complemented by Morrison's mesmerising vocal delivery while the beguiling Oriental mystery of 'The Crystal Ship' is a pure masterpiece (as is the entire album), mellowing the mood somewhat.

Beginning with a magical guirtar riff, blended with the customary electric organ, this leads us into another compelling, stomping rock number 'Twentieth Century Fox', while the fun 'Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)' making for an immediately striking and rather diverting experiment. Morrison's deep, sonorous voice pulsates seamlessly through all the enchanting ebbs and flows.
'Light My Fire' is an out and out classic and one of The Doors major landmarks. Hauntingly atmospheric with its funeral-like electric organ backdrop and Morrison's stirring delivery. They enjoyed their first real taste of significant commercial success and acceptance with 'Light My Fire', swiftly topping the US Billboard Chart (though barely dented the UK Top 50 on its original release; upon its re-issue in the summer of 1991 it flew up into the Top 10). The full severn-minute version is a pure sonic masterpiece, allowing us to enjoy the groups ever-dynamic playing. Another utterly mesmerising and hypnotic afair.

The mid-tempo rock number 'Back Door Man' capture's yet more powerful, expert playing, hosting a rich and deep performance from Morrison who also enhances the tremendous and startling production of 'I Looked At You'.
The dreamy, mysterious 'End Of The Night' highlights the groups remarkable affinity for shrewd, poetic, profound lyrics. Beautiful. 'Take It As It Comes' kicks up the tempo again and this held ample commercial potential (as did practically every track on here), while the tinkling 11-minute oedipal drama 'The End' is literally spine-tingling and has to be one of The Doors most daring, compulsive outings that is completely haunting with its non-stop melodicism, dynamic tension and sombre, dreamy tone.

This album is a pure masterpiece, ranking (in my opinion) among their very best, most innovative work. Excellence all the way. It also became a major seller and spending over two years on the US Billboard chart. Essential!

Ian Phillips
April 2010


Meantime - Special Edition [1983] [DVD]
Meantime - Special Edition [1983] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Marion Bailey
Price: 4.20

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mike Leigh's Very Best Film, 23 April 2010
The raw, hard-hitting Meantime (1983), exploring strong social and political issues of the day (mainly the high unemployment level), evokes the deep working-class despair of "Thatcher's Britain" in the early 1980's. Powerful and gritty in content, Meantime shrewdly captures that era in British cultural history impeccably well. Although the film has its moments of humour, Meantime is overly razor-sharp and (in my opinion) ranks as Mike Leigh's very best film ever!

This is also largely due to the impressive, stellar cast line-up, boasting the outstanding talents of the ever-dynamic Phil Daniels, Tim Roth, Gary Oldman, Pam Ferris, Marion Bailey, Alfred Molina and Jeff Robert, who all possess the skill and talent of being able to improvise their scenes, proving to be highly effective in Meantime. The cast are all utterly perfect in their naturalistic style of acting and carefully prepared, astutely observed and expertly structured characterisations.

Meantime follows the working-class Pollack family, headed by Mavis (Pam Ferris) and Frank (Jeff Robert) who seemingly have little time for their sons, the mentally-challenged Colin (Tim Roth) and ever-sarcastic Mark (Phil Daniels). The Pollack family live in a bleak, run-down council tower block on a rough estate, having to survive on unemployment benefits. All the long, frustating years of poverty and incessant struggling had virtually made the family give up on life. They have no dreams or ambitions to speak of, all content on just plodding through life in the only way they know how.

Tim Roth is totally superb as Colin. Colin hadn't had much of a chance or start in life, having had little encouragement given to him other than by his loving Aunty Barbara. Colin had been bulllied and taken the mickey out of all his life. He is not retarded, though, as Tim Roth pointed out on the interview for this special edition DVD. Rather it's a case of him being severly psychologically damaged from all the years of bullying and being ordered around by others so doesn't know how to think for himself and gradually over the years had sank deeper and deeper into himself. It must be said that the genuine humanity of the family becomes patently clear near the ending - they all love one another, just all the long ,hard years of struggling and living in the grim block of flats had obviously taken its toll, grinding all of them down.

Colin practically follows his older brother Mark (Phil Daniels) around like a loyal puppy, looking up to him and desperately wanting his friendship, love, respect and acceptance. Mark, though, sees Colin as a muppet, makes fun out of him and orders him around, belittling him at every turn yet loves and protects him at the same time. Eventually Colin befriends one of Marks mates Coxy (Gary Oldman), an even more mentally-challenged lad on the estate who is a skinhead, racist and thug.

Phil Daniels is, as always, brilliant in his role. In the first scene at Aunty Barbara's house, he appears arrogant and far from likeable . Somehow, as the film progresses, you begin to warm to the character, not least down to Phil's excellent performance. You do feel hints of Marks frustation of him being unemployed and its like there's something in him that indeed does want to better himself in some way and find a way out of the dead end lifestyle he'd been living, but sadly not really knowing quite how.

Mark has an answer for everything, sarcastic to the end, almost compulsively defying and going against anything anyone tells him, conveys a cutting sense of humour (memroable one-liners from Mark includes when Mavis shouts at him, saying "I'm eating!" to which he quickly replies "I know...I can hear you!") but is definitely much more intelligent than he apparently makes out; there's a lot more to him than meets the eye. There is a particularly amusing scene with Mark in the unemployement office as he sarcastically cuts down the officious clerk verbally. There's also a restrained air of sexual chemistry between Mark and Aunty Barbara which is hinted at when Mark, clearly, feels a bit put out when she asks Colin to do a decorating job for her (seeing it as helping Colin in her eyes) instead of him. Mark turns up at her house and talks Colin out of doing the job, purely as a matter of principal.

Pam Ferris is absolutely excellent as the hard-faced Mavis, though is almost unrecognisable - a far cry from the usual kind, friendly role's she generally plays. The years had obviously not been kind to Mavis. The only highlight of her life is going to bingo (yet she always claims she's always too busy to visit her own mother). Marion Bailey, too, is fantastic as the warm, well-meaning Aunty Barbara, though slightly patronising and condesending to her family without realising it. She tries in vain to encourage her nephew's to want more for themselves and is frustated by her sisters lack of motivation and passion for life.

Gary Oldman is also superb as the mentally-challenged and seemingly deranged skinhead Coxy, who Colin mistakenly looks up to. There's a rather off-beat scene where Coxy tales Colin along to visit his girlfriend at her flat where his behaviour becomes more unhinged than ever. There's actually very little of Alfred Molina here, who is in a less interesting role as the patronising, two-timing John. His character has little time or affection for his increasingly frustated and supressed wife Barbara.

The most touching (and my favourite) scenes are at the end of the film where Colin returns home to the flat after running out of Barbara's, wearing his parka jacket with the hood up; his parents shout at him and Mavis goes to clout him round the ear but Mark intervenes and protects him. Then much to all of their shock, Colin, uncharacteristically, stands up for himself, shouting back at them. From that point on a mutual respect and a deeper bond between Mark and Colin emerges, and they have a heart to heart while Mavis listens from outside the bedroom door and afterwards she (inadvertently) shows she does have feelings. The next morning Mark discovers Colin's skinhead (hence why he slept all night in his parka jacket with the hood up) and jokingly nicknames him Kojak - but this time, and unlike before, he's laughing with him not at him.

The special features on this DVD are endearing, featuring indepth interviews with Tim Roth, Marion Bailey and Mike Leigh.

Meantime is a true British classic and an interesting social document of its time. Utterly compelling from start to finish, not letting your attention lapse until the credits roll, this is a thoroughly absorbing, gritty drama with a top-notch, impressive cast. A pure masterpiece!

Ian Phillips
April 2010


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