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Mr. M. A. Reed (Argleton, GB)

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La Petite Mort
La Petite Mort
Price: £9.00

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The little death.. the big life. James as good as ever., 16 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: La Petite Mort (Audio CD)
What is music? What is the point of new music? Music reflects us now, and then. The journey between the last record and the next. Bands change, evolve. Life is an arrow, and it goes one way. Ever forward. Ever onward. Some bands stay forever, frozen in formaldehyde, never moving. Never changing. Others have nothing left to say, but say it anyway. The best? They reflect the things happening in our life, as we change, we grow, we become older, wiser, fatter, balder, we lose our parents, we no longer can change the world – only our world – and we make little victories in something as small and beautiful as a well made cake, or a perfectly crafted sentence.

We change. We become people and creatures we never thought we would be when we started. How could one think the band that James were in 1984 – a spiky four piece on Factory – would become what they are in 2014? Recognisably the same, yet utterly different, now a deluxe seven piece band with a sound as wide as an ocean. This, “La Petite Mort”, is their first full length album in six years, albeit interrupted by two mini albums in 2010. The sound is the same, holding steady, consistently made of intimate epics, of songs that start small, and end in huge dramatic proclamations of life, and love. From the opening moments of “Walk Like You”, to the closing “All I'm Saying”, it;s an album made by people who should do, who need to, who want to, and there is never a second wasted, never a note unneccessary, and every song on there deserves to be, such as the beautiful and uplifting “Moving On”, and the instant classic of “Gone, Baby Gone.” What drips through this record, flows through it like water, is that it is about the core things we have in life : love, life, loss, of lovers, of friends, of parents. And what is life if it is not full of things worth keeping? Why live if not to enjoy the experience? La Petite Mort may be the little death, but also the big life.

Out of The Furnace [DVD] [2013]
Out of The Furnace [DVD] [2013]
Dvd ~ Christian Bale
Price: £6.50

3.0 out of 5 stars .... And Into The Fire, 12 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A promising cast - Bale, Harrelson, and so forth - clearly do their gritty urban flick to appear edgy and arty and keeping it real. Now, I may sound cynical, but with no experience of living in a dying American industrial wasteland, I can't really connect to this film the way I probably should. The cast all bring their A-Game, but the source material is slighter than the cast, it moves slowly and with no great plot and less hope, being a relentlessly grim and hopeless story of depravation and despair. If you want to watch the cinematic equivalent of being punched in the face by misery for a couple of hours, this is exactly what you need.

Wahl Limited Edition Design Hair Clipper and Trimmer Gift Set
Wahl Limited Edition Design Hair Clipper and Trimmer Gift Set
Price: £34.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good Solid Build and Cut, 12 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
As someone who has had a very short haircut for something like 16 years now, I would always prefer a durable and quick workhorse that can remove every last shred of hair quickly and easily. This hair clipper and trimmer is designed for people that do not shave their head, but have it quite short - and, as long as you don't mind looking like Ewan McGregor's buzzcut from "Trainspotting" - you'll do fine. The machine is powerful, but somewhat limited : the cable is quite short but the build quality, power, and strength are durable and solid.

The gift set is presentable - a metal case with a London theme and iconic images, but really, it's a shaver, so I don't see any point in that. It's like covering your microwave with a picture of Paris. The box isn't ideal for travelling, it's simply too big and too bulky.

Ghost Stories
Ghost Stories
Price: £7.00

4 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Passionless and repetitive., 20 May 2014
This review is from: Ghost Stories (Audio CD)
Six albums. Eighteen years. At this point, the bands I grew up with had gone much further. U2 were at the height of their stadium madness with their 9th record – the bonkers “Pop”. REM were on the slow decline their 11th record, “Reveal”, Coldplay meanwhile are merely very very sorry. This record is a limp apology, Chris Martin on his knees begging the universe to forgive him for the sin of breathing.

Sure, some of you will think that Coldplay have crafted a record of great beauty, or something. But that's not what I hear : it's lacking in intensity, lacking in commitment, and makes Damon Albarn's “Everyday Robots” sound like Slayer. There's nothing wrong with a band that makes music that is not a sonic assault – but it has to have purpose, passion, a reason to exist : Elbow, who may very well be a somewhat laidback band, at least have moments of light and shade, harnessed power and tenderness, ebbs and flows. This record - “Ghost Stories” - is just nothing but ebbs. The guitars, bass, and the appallingly absent drums sound like apologies, mumbled whispers, a half-hearted and utterly tedious wimp. “Oh, I'm Sorry, Mr Bully, Did My Face Hurt Your Shoe?”

I always thought Liam Gallagher was being harsh when he called them bed-wetter music, but I think he's got a point here. At their best, Coldplay – in 2002 - were a great live band, with passion power and perception. Here, this record is passionless. It might be that Martin has been hollowed out by his record 'conscious uncoupling', the kind of evasive management speak of passive-notaggressive tofu eaters. It's embarrassing to me that Martin is not just prematurely middle-aged, but embracing mediocrity and apathy so willingly. This isn't the sound of a broken heart, but of a willing surrender, a man sleepwalking to his own artistic grave. Even “Magic” is built on a hesitant drum sound, a barely-there vocal, a staggering lack of compulsion. He sounds bored. He sounds as if he's making music through habit. I've seen more excitement and more fire on a production line in a bottle factory by people twice his age. The most lively thing on this record is “A Sky Full Of Stars”, because it sounds like it was made with a genuine human being playing drums and not an ancient drum machine taken from a 1992 handheld Nintendo cartridge. This record is a snivelling apology. The Ghost here is the band itself, who whilst they may be present, in terms of vague sound and appearance, appear to have – when you touch them – no substance, no presence, no inner material.

This record is boring. It is an anaemic sound ; diluted. The music – all of it – is slow paced, built on a barely-present, limp production. The drums sounds like apologies. The lyrics and performances are simply anodyne, at best, and at worst, wilfully underachieving. Coldplay are better of so so much more than this.

Unplugged 1991/2001: The Complete Sessions
Unplugged 1991/2001: The Complete Sessions
Price: £11.96

7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Close, but no DVD?, 19 May 2014
Now in their third year of retirement, and six years since their last live show, R.E.M. As was, are slowly moving from a band that was real to a band that isn't. All that remains are the recordings, the films, the vinyl, the memories. For a band that, in the 90's, took two extended gaps from touring (of six years and four years, respectively), R.E.M. Seemed to wear themselves out after a frantic decade of 1999-2008 that saw them traverse the planet five times and play every year in support of four albums. Though this – their third official live album, alongside the nine concert DVD's and the limited edition “Live '92” cassette – sees the beginning of saturation coverage of their on stage personality, unlike other records of theirs, “Unplugged” sees the release for the first time, the bands full acoustic MTV sessions from 1991 and 2001. Two lineups, two bands, one name. With barely one song repeated across the sets ; “Losing My Religion”, this features the band at two points : one on the cusp of enormity, a band taking a step back from the glare of attention and scrutiny, and the other in 2001, the R.E.M. trio with two extra guitarists and a new drummer. 2001 R.E.M sees the band as a post-fame entity, existing the rarified atmosphere of megasuccess with only a handful of contemporaries at that time, beyond such trivial concerns as money, hits, success, able to exist as a self-contained artistic entity capable of working entirely in their own world. Not that this necessarily shows ; audibly, there is little difference between the two bands, though Stipe's voice has aged mildly, all other things seem untouched. Both bands and both sets dip deep into the bands body of work, pulling out deep album cuts from across their history ; 2001's set particularly interests, seeing the somewhat anodyne and limp cuts from the “Reveal” album as acoustic gems when stripped of their electronic bleepybloop and lifeless death-by-1,000-mixes studio incarnations. Both sets lack a sense of shape, for example, the 1991 set finishes with “World Leader Pretend”, whilst 2001 climaxes – though that is not the word – on five then-very-recent album tracks, including as the last song, the adequate “Sad Professor”. In their acoustic forms, these newer songs sparkle in a way their studio counterparts often don't, but 14 years after the event with no reason for their release, “Unplugged” is a good but pointless R.E.M release.

Forget Strategy. Get Results.: Radical Management Attitudes That Will Deliver Outstanding Success
Forget Strategy. Get Results.: Radical Management Attitudes That Will Deliver Outstanding Success
by Mike Tobin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.88

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Game and how to play it, 15 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
An interesting overview of the world of work, and in this day and sage strategy simply isn't enough : you need to be adept, play the game, understand the world and the word and how to play it. This is an aid to that, and teaches you think that often only experience makes you learn. Useful, not essential.

Price: £11.00

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Short, but very very sweet : The best Jacko album in 18 years, 15 May 2014
This review is from: Xscape (Audio CD)
Well, who would have thought it? Jackson has never released so much material in his life.. oh, wait. Xscape may be a bit bizarre in execution, but there's no doubt that's its a far superior record to the limp and final “Invincible” and 2010's underwhelming hodgepodge that was “Michael”. Instead of a barely reheated selection of material spread across 25 years that sounded like the selection of forgotten songs chosen at random that "Michael" undoubtedly was, “Xscape” is easily the best Jackson album there's been in nearly 20 years. Admittedly, that doesn't say much. But, on the other hand, “Xscape” is a Jackson record not only worth buying but listening to. Taking the previous 90%-finished songs, and adding a modern day splash of magic, are some of the biggest names there are. In the album booklet, this process is describing as 'contemporising', but really, this approach is taking Jackson's unfinished material and making it sound like a cohesive, and enjoyable album. Stuff from 1983 (such as Love Never Felt So Good”) and 1999's fabulous “Blue Gangsta” and making them both sound that they were made last week is a rare achievement, but the Jackson estate has finally realised that nobody really wants to buy a record made of a random assortment of old leftovers, but treated with care and thought, and the large selection of unreleased Jackson material – there are at least 8 full finished songs in circulation and a total of 4 albums planned after this – and there is plenty of promise.

Whilst the original and finished “Xscape” is a slender feast of 8 songs and 34 minutes 4 seconds, the deluxe edition that comes with a DVD also features 9 extra audio tracks, the original non-contemporised versions of the songs from 1983-1999 and a Justin Timberlake version of “Love Never Felt So Good.” adding an extra 40 minutes of unreleased Jackson music, and a 40+ minute documentary DVD that details the construction of the record (that I haven't had time to watch yet). It's fascinating to hear what they did to the songs in their released forms and to hear the final versions Jackson left nearly-completed before his death ; they also become, in effect, a set of bonus tracks for the original records as well, being removed from the final album running orders often very late in the process.

“Xscape” is a small meal, but it's great to hear again another example of what could have been, another interpretation of the world Jackson was always working, and to have an album that stands alongside the others. Aside from the cover art (which on the inside jacket reflects the 1988-Jackson that had ceased to exist by the time of his death), you could easily be forgiven for thinking that “Xscape” is a genuine but belated followup to 2001's “Invincible.” In retrospect this is a grand achievement, taking songs that are over 30 years old in some cases, and making them of the here and now.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 17, 2014 9:34 PM BST

Someday World
Someday World
Offered by inandout-distribution
Price: £26.19

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New And Old, 15 May 2014
This review is from: Someday World (Audio CD)
As is often the way, the more diverse an artists work becomes the more diluted the idea of identity is. After umpteen years in Underworld, Hyde took his first solo steps last year with “Edgeland” and now, his second album is a full on colloboration with Brian Eno called “Someday World”. I speak of this as a fan of Underworld, and a casual admirer of Eno, and to be frank, the lines are blurred here. Clearly, there's lashings of the man who used to sing in Underworld here, with the familiar vocal styles, the soundscapes, and as the album progresses, the material steps into its own with “Witness” and “Strip It Down” being far more accessable and immediate than Hyde's first album, the stuttery “Edgeland”.
As the record progresses, the material becomes ever more effective, and whilst never at the heart-in-mouth tempo or grandeur of latter day modern Underworld material, the songs and music are a more gentle, more considered, dare I say it mature, approach, replete with Hyde's soaring vocals, nonsense profound lyrics, and general touch, which makes this sound exactly like what would happen if Eno made an album with Karl Hyde (which is exactly what this is, of course). It's mostly a success, but “When I built This World” is utter b-side fodder that cannot end fast enough with atonal string lines and a incoherent arrangement. The album picks up on the expanded second disc with the 'deluxe' edition, (which is now shorthand for where songs that used to be b-sides now live), with “Celebration” being a exciting and vibrant track, possibly the most fun thing from the album. Overall though, “Someday World” is Hyde taking a step up from his somewhat anaemic debut, meeting a collaborator at least his equal, and creating a new and intruiging new direction.

AmazonBasics DSLR and Laptop Rucksack with Grey Interior
AmazonBasics DSLR and Laptop Rucksack with Grey Interior
Price: £36.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Basic and Affordable, 12 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A basic, good value bag that can be set up for either dedicated camera use with an SLR or a laptop. It is fairly hefty, and well padded, but the material is somewhat cheap and the bag is deep : I'm not sure if you were buying an SLR why you would skimp on the bag, but so be it. On the other hand as a laptop rucksack it is fairly big as well, so it would handle a 17" laptop, and quite a bit of extra detritus as well. Depends if you travel light or not. It is, by any standard, a basic, affordable, basic laptop rucksack that will easily do the job, in a no frills fashion.

Case Logic Griffith Park Backpack for 15 inch Laptop - Black
Case Logic Griffith Park Backpack for 15 inch Laptop - Black
Price: £50.35

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Premium and useful backpack, 12 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Brilliant and compact, as well as elegantly designed, this is probably the best laptop backpack I have had in the last 20 years, including my huge number of standard corporate issue backpacks. Nonetheless, it is well designed and padded, ideal for both 15" laptop and second corporate laptop or iPad, as well as plenty of zippable pockets and space for power cables, dingles, USB attachments, and, if you're like me, a good book. The only - and it is very minor - issue is that the side pockets aren't big enough for a 375ml water bottle. It is strongly made, durable, lightweight, well designed for modern living, and whilst it may not be waterproof (I haven't had the chance to test it but I imagine it is), is a well designed and useful product. It's probably a bit big for anyone who isn't an average adult male, though.

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