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Reviews Written by
Mr. M. A. Reed (Argleton, GB)
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Sick On You: The Disastrous Story of Britain's Great Lost Punk Band
Sick On You: The Disastrous Story of Britain's Great Lost Punk Band
by Andrew Matheson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.08

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Nearly Men, 29 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This almost fooled me into thinking it was real. Then I realised, it WAS real. Sitting in the same pre-Punk, Post-Ziggy world, it reminds me of the world of The Stooges, and the New York Dolls - similar bands who, despite being good - or not bad, depending upon your view - didn't quite make it. There's a grim air of nearly-thereness, a world they inhabited on the corner but never possessed, a slice of London and the Biz as it was and will never be again, an essential piece of history from recent ancient times.


The Sweetness of Life
The Sweetness of Life
by Françoise Héritier
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Too short... like life itself., 29 Jun. 2015
This review is from: The Sweetness of Life (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A slender and brief text, this is a whistlestop race through the need to take time. One can ask, quite rightly, why rush taking your time? It's a valid point. Without structure, as such, it's a meander, a somewhat unfocused walk, and focuses on a somewhat abstract (at times) list of things : there's little about the practicalities of enjoying the sweetness of life, the rush of wind in your hair (if you have any), the age of time, and the importance of tea. I was hoping this would.. expand my mind, but is too brief, too short, and too.. random, to really be able to apply as a regular text around how to enjoy the world we live in.


Philips BRT383/15 Bikini Trimmer
Philips BRT383/15 Bikini Trimmer
Price: £20.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Close, no cigar., 12 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Whats that? A man reviewing a Bikini hair trimmer? (Well, OK, open your mind, because guys need to shave too!). Useful for dry and wet applications, and shaving extremely close on occasion, this budget Trimmer provides a clean, even, and rash-free result, though it is noisy and loud (probably a result of the budget build) and effective.


Philips GC4520/30 Azur Performer Steam Iron - 190g Steam Boost, 2600 Watt
Philips GC4520/30 Azur Performer Steam Iron - 190g Steam Boost, 2600 Watt
Price: £54.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Does Exactly What I Want I To., 6 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Generally easy to use, lightweight and effective, though I must admit to struggling a little with the cable tie. It's effective, working first time, and requiring no rework. My ironing is, to be honest, not great to start with, and so, this works well for my limited ironing skills


Sol Invictus
Sol Invictus
Price: £7.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hail The Unconquered Sun. Stunning., 19 May 2015
This review is from: Sol Invictus (Audio CD)
All hail the Unconquered Sun!You can count on the fingers of one hand the bands who've made 'reunion' albums that sound as good as anything they've done before. Suede. Um, after that it gets kinda tricky.... not bad, just different, and sometimes growing in slightly different directions from us. Echo & The Bunnymen's slow slide into irrelevance is, after all, a lesson to be learnt in how to avoid growing old disgracefully. The risk is you can blow it. You can come back with a lacklusture or mediocre record, If you don't come back with a record that stands up to the rest, it's the end. It's a risky game. The material has to be great. Not just good. It has to match up with then, and in some way, to mark the progression since then. I'm interested in artists growing older, finding their position in the world, seeing where they are now, and not just where they once were, but also how they sit in relation to history : in short, I'm growing older, and my relation to the rest of the world is changing. I want the music I lover to be relevant to me now, and to honour the promise of the past. It's a tall order. Few bands try. Even fewer succeed.

In short, don't worry. Faith No More have got this. They've done their best album in two decades.

A powerful, articulate, and briliant tour-de-farce that stands up easily to the best of their original life. The bands lineup Mike Patton and Bordin, Roddy Bottum, Billy Gould and John Hudson on guitar step into their own, with six years on the road as a nostalgia act to hone and refine their live chops. They sound like the best of all things – like the Faith No More of 1992 carried on and lost none of their spark. Songs like “Seperation Anxiety” are the kind of claustrophobic, diverse godawful beautiful racket that made me love them then and now. There's a wonderful moment in most classic Faith No More songs, which sounds like a room growing ever closer in on you, where all the instruments combine to create a sense of enclosure, with no breathing space inside the sound, and it is here – on “Seperation Anxiety” specifically, but also “Superhero” - that the band show clearly, and without the slightest hesitation, that Faith No More in 2015 are as promising as they were in 1992, and whilst time may have changed our position in the world – as a band, as fans, as people - some things remain eternal and immortal, for me at least, my quest to understand the world, to find my place, and then to maintain it in an everchanging sea, and in the midst of it, are Faith No More, who haven't made a bad record yet, and in the case of “Sol Invictus” something that may very well be the second best record they've ever made. (Considering the best album they've made sits in the Top Ten Records I've Ever, EVER Heard, take that as a compliment.)

It starts slowly, unlike every other Faith No More album, with an ascending piano, and a curled vocal of promise – and then, BAM, it explodes. “Sol Invictus” translates as 'Unconquered Sun' – and yes, for me, this album is a world where the band are more than the sum of their parts, and one where the promise of future greatness is fulfilled. In retrospect, some comeback albums, Jane's Addiction's and The Pixies in particular, have aged poorly, and the shock of the new quickly becomes pale when the wrapping is removed, and at the heart of the new material is without substance. But this? This stands equal to their brief and majestic glory period, when they birthed the stunning “Angel Dust” and the under-rated “King For A Day”. You are an angel heading for a land of sunshine... and all hail the unconquered sun.


GPO Stylo 3 Speed Stand Alone Turntable with Built In Speakers - Black
GPO Stylo 3 Speed Stand Alone Turntable with Built In Speakers - Black
Price: £37.65

40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great basic portable set for the home - but with a tinny sound, not suited for 45rpm's., 10 May 2015
Generally very good, but this is obviously a budget workhorse designed for someone who uses vinyl as a music delivery system, and not as a fetished audiophile listening experience. However, as a self contained, and very portable, vinyl deck it is ideal, and I've already used it in the kitchen, and on the garden table outside, and it is extremely portable for moving from room to room in the house : the downside is it runs off the mains, so you can't take it into the park but use an extension cable connected to the mains if taking it anywhere - the included cable is quite short - less than six feet.

The big con here is the sound : the internal speakers are tinny, with very little warm bass and a lot of treble that is rough and probably the basis of an economy build. On the other hand, for the price, it is an absolute bargain and cheaper than an entry level set 30 years ago. The motor is somewhat loud adding an ambient hum, but then again, when the song itself starts it's inaudible. If you already know what the record sounds like - and my test pieces are Kraftwerk's "Electric Cafe" and Pink Floyd's "Obscured By Clouds" - it's a device for listening to music, and the sound quality simply does not have enough bass to be a great record player (and there's no tone options around resetting bass and treble). Surface noise is generally low apart from on heavily used vinyl.

Controls are also limited to 33/45/78, and an on/off for the spindle. The tonearm does not lift and move back to the holster at the end of a side either, so you have to live with the basic up/down and start/stop of an old, basic record player. But if you want an affordable, cheap, largely portable vinyl deck to move from room to room easily, this is ideal.

EDIT : On closer use, this tends to play 45's very poorly, with lots of skipping and jumping - especially on louder, more modern pressings. It plays 33rpm pressings fine, but 45rpm tend to jump and skip a lot, which is a failure of the player, as I also played the test 45's on a more expensive set that do not skip or jump at all.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 6, 2015 9:51 PM BST


The Magic Whip
The Magic Whip
Price: £3.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars May Grow Into Greatness?, 5 May 2015
This review is from: The Magic Whip (Audio CD)
Unexpectedly, Blur release their first album in twelve years and the first as a quartet since the last millenium. But one new album a decade is a decidedly passive workrate - and it can't help but feel that Blur have - audibly at least, become - like The Good, The Bad & The Queen, Gorillaz, and so forth - Albarn's plaything that comes out only when he feels like using the Coxon / James / Rowntree toys in his arsenal. A band sticks together in thick and thin, and isn't merely deployed at a whim. One could argue that, without a certain natural disaster causing the band to be stranded in Hong Kong for a week (a mere week! If that's all takes to make an album instead of 15 years), this record wouldn't exist. Records should be made because they need to be made. Not because of any other reason.

And so, "The Magic Whip"... maybe it's because it's been so long since there was a Blur album, this sounds like the lovechild of the odd Coxon-less "Think Tank", and "13", heavy on dubby rhythms and rotund basslines, a rigid, boxy drum motif from Human Drum Machine Dave Rowntree and the characteristic squall of noise from Coxon who is the band's secret weapon. It opens with the everspiky "Lonesome Street", proving that Albarn desperately needs someone who pushes back against him, a foil, an equal who causes friction : were this without Coxon, it would be a understated throbbing groove.

Over the 12 or so songs, what "The Magic Whip" does is.. refuse to sound essential. Every record up to, and including "13", had a hint of desperation, a sense that The Art Will Out, that this must be made, that it is a compulsion. In many ways, it's not really a continuation of the previous records, but a battle between Damon Albarn - who is now pretty much used to always getting his own way - and the rest of the group, and here Albarn raises his game. Some of the songs - "Mirrorball", "Ong Ong", and "There Are Too Many Of Us" suffer by being at the back end of the record coupled with an occasionally insubstantial track or two at the front end, and, after about a week of listening, there's nothing I can think of that touches the way that "The Ballad Of Yuko And Hiro" does. And there's nothing as obviously Pop, as the big singles on their previous albums - more a cohesive set of songs that kind of reflect what it's like to be Blur now. But what about the Blur of 1993? If they thought Modern Life Was Rubbish then, where's the songs that somehow could have been created to reflect this, most divisive of political eras? There's no commentary on this world, as such, but still a solid set of Blur songs. We change, bands change, and music changes, and, wouldn't it be unfair to think the Blur of 1995 are the same as the Blur of 2015? (They're hardly AC/DC and haven't been set in solid rock since birth). "The Magic Whip" is a record that may reward repeated exposure over time, and being the first Blur record in over a decade, perhaps there's a sense of importance it doesn't deserve. It's a good album, but not great. Time will tell. It's mile ahead of the understated "Everyday Robots", but I can't help but feel that Albarn is still drifting ever further into his own world, and sometimes, he might need to be brought back to earth.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 6, 2015 11:11 PM BST


MG
MG
Price: £8.07

11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hard work, but rewarding... eventually., 3 May 2015
This review is from: MG (Audio CD)
The popular cliché is that Alan Wilder was the talent in Depeche Mode. That Martin Gore merely wrote songs, Alan Wilder gave the band its sound, and when he left, they had to build a huge production team of hired help to impersonate Wilder's absent touch. Bunkum. A late period creative resurgence from Gore has seen three Depeche Mode albums and world tours, alongside two solo(ish) instrumental albums in the past decade, whereas many of his once-peers in their mid-fifties have slowed to a creative crawl.
“MG” follows on from 2012's VCMG, with fifteen instrumental throbs that clearly show that Gore's skill as a producer, and in reaching an atmosphere has been sorely under-valued. The evocation of sound and texture, which Depeche have relied on both in song and in the interstitial interludes that have become part of the bands body of work, is here in spades. Freed from the conventional song structure, Gore explores, and make no mistakes, this is not pop music. It's not built on structure, but on a feeling, an idea, a sound, and material like “Pinking”, “Swanning” and “Elk”, amongst many others, aren't cylical in nature, and the sound just swoops and pounds over you, in sometimes formless, often unpredictable waves. “Europa Hymn” is the nearest thing to a single, but that's still a far way behind an old Depeche Mode b-side in melody, instead, like the rest of the record, MG is a record you listen to, not a set of songs you follow, an experience you lose yourself into, the soundtrack to intense activity like programming, not a casual experience to sing to at the kitchen sink. Hard listening. Not easy.


Go-Cat Crunchy and Tender Kitten Dry Cat Food 800 g (Pack of 4)
Go-Cat Crunchy and Tender Kitten Dry Cat Food 800 g (Pack of 4)
Price: £8.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Paws Up!, 28 April 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My cat is super picky. Super super picky. Spoilt little princess, and she can't even talk. The nearest thing I ever get to affection is when she sticks her bum in my face. Now that we have the cat's opinion, well, she seems to like this. Not more - or less - than anything else, and thinly disguised contempt she has for the mere mortal human staff is unhidden. We feed her, she tolerate sour existence. She seems to eat it, and like it, and it doesn't make her too cranky - well, no more cranky than normal - so yes, it's paws up from her.


Winnie the Bold! (Winnie the Witch)
Winnie the Bold! (Winnie the Witch)
by Laura Owen
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Bold... and lots of fun., 28 April 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My son will only go to sleep if he is being read to : luckily, he prefers Mum to do it. Therefore, I have to take credit for not reading this book to him multiple times in short succession. Like all Winnie books, the plot is somewhat idiosyncratic, with the right amount of quirk and silly, and enough to keep him interested. It keeps him interested, and he enjoys it, and it's not mindnumbingly stupid - so the best kind of children's book. I've long thought childrens books come in two type - those made by parents, and those made by people who aren't, and absolutely hate parents. Luckily, this falls in the first category, so well done!


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