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AGC2070 (Ashford, Kent, UK)

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Cats in the Cradle
Cats in the Cradle
Offered by digitalmediadistribution
Price: £6.89

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great A side; shame about the rest, 30 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Cats in the Cradle (Audio CD)
Great version of a poignant song, turning Harry Chapin's original into a rock classic. However the B sides are in a much heavier and less melodic style, so if you bought it for the A side you probably won't like the B sides.


Muswell Hillbillies
Muswell Hillbillies
Price: £5.89

5.0 out of 5 stars Englishness at its paranoid best!, 16 May 2015
This review is from: Muswell Hillbillies (Audio CD)
The Kinks were on fine form again with this album, following a slew of under-appreciated classics (Village Green, Arthur, Lola v Powerman). This album reminds me of Travis's first album (Good Feeling) in that at the beginning of each song I tend to think 'This isn't going to be much,' before it soars off to melodic and rousing heights. I can't believe that none of the first half a dozen songs became singles hits, but I guess Benny Hill and Clive Dunn were the nation's chart luminaries around this time.

Firstly, I love the way the first track begins as a downtrodden mumble and builds up to a defiant shout of 'This is the twentieth century, I don't wanna die here.' Thankfully for Ray Davies, he won't.

Much of the first half is like an 'A to Z' of mental disorders: anxiety, alcoholism, anorexia - and that's just the As - but always delivered in a humorous, sing-along way so that it never gets depressing, but rather that you can celebrate that we are not like the cloned 'people in grey,' perfectly adjusted to modern life.

My personal favourite is Have a Cuppa Tea which would be a far better national anthem for the UK than God Save the Queen. Imagine that belting out while the latest Formula 1 champ stands astride the Grand Prix podium!

Following this one, 'Everybody's in Showbiz' is well worth a stab, as are 'Soap Opera' and 'Schoolboys in Disgrace,' although the 'Preservation Act' discs never quite grabbed me in the same way. Perhaps this is my loss.


Ham Street and Orlestone - A Photographic History: To Celebrate 2000 AD
Ham Street and Orlestone - A Photographic History: To Celebrate 2000 AD
by Barbara Joan Ware
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Nostalgia: ancient and modern, 11 May 2015
Brilliant book illustrating all areas of life in this Kentish village using black and white photographs spanning over 100 years and covering all the areas of the village that existed at the turn of the millennium, even the far reaches of the parish. It provides a glimpse of the thriving trade and community spirit of the past, which those who love the village hope can adapt to modern times and continue. There are some modern pictures to illustrate more recent changes too. Well worth a purchase for anybody familiar with the village, which has changed considerably even since publication. Who could imagine that the year 2000 is now considered nostalgia too?


Welcome to Paradise
Welcome to Paradise
by Simon Crow
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Hidden depths, 21 April 2015
This review is from: Welcome to Paradise (Paperback)
This is another book by Norfolk's own 'master of horrors' that will not appeal to nuns or the squeamish, but it does have hidden depths. Just as his first book began as a prison drama and ended as a cloning nightmare, this book starts out as a Western but shifts gear half way through when the plot suddenly becomes much more surreal, almost like Alice falling down the rabbit hole. One or two bits were a little too grisly for me, but I think he may be pushing these aspects to the limit, almost satirising the genre. Underneath all the madness there seems to be a subtle critique on religion and power going on and the ending was a total surprise which had me laughing out loud. Dark, weird, disturbing and funny. I understand that Mr Crow has a third book in the pipeline which could prove to be his most experimental offering yet.


THE MAN & THE JOURNEY (Live) (UK Import)
THE MAN & THE JOURNEY (Live) (UK Import)

5.0 out of 5 stars Crying out for an official release, 30 Mar. 2015
It beggars belief that the Floyd have released loads of inferior demo versions of tracks from The Wall but this remains unreleased and extremely hard to obtain, unless you want to remortgage your house to pay for it! The concepts are simply excellent, with The Man representing 24 hours in somebody's life, including Work (where I believe members even sawed up pieces of wood on stage) to Teatime (literally a tea-break in the middle of the gig - note this version omits this section) to Doing It (a drum solo with a recording of what sounds like John Lennon speaking) and the return of a ticking clock and birdsong following the eerie 'Nightmare' conclusion to Cymbaline.

Yes, you are going to hear live versions of some of the More tracks incorporated into the concepts, but they are simply amazing to hear in this format. My only criticism is the split second pauses between the tracks which slightly interrupt the continuity in my version.

The Journey includes the often bootlegged Behold the Temple of Light which uses 4 chords from the transition between parts 2 and 3 of Ummagumma's The Narrow Way to dramatic effect with huge percussive gong sounds.

Gilmour's vocal on The Narrow Way is a little wafty, but the rousing finale (actually the conclusion to A Saucerful of Secrets) may even rival the blistering live version on Ummagumma. The atmosphere from the audience is captured here too and adds to the charm of this recording IMO.

It's such a shame that fans are virtually criminalised for listening to music they clearly want to hear, so come on guys, let's have a mainstream release, or do we forever have to scrabble about on YouTube to hear gems like this live set, Vegetable Man, Scream thy last Scream, Embryo, King Bee, Lucy Leave. . . ? I could go on!


Hozier
Hozier
Price: £3.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enigmatic debut, 27 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Hozier (Audio CD)
It's the album that everyone wants to review, so here's mine.

Personally I think Hozier is at his best when playing a lone acoustic guitar. The singing and playing on Like Real People Do and Cherry Wine is nothing short of exquisite. The picking reminds me of Paul Simon's acoustic style in the late sixties.

The majority of the tracks have a bluesy sound, not too dissimilar to the Black Keys, and like Lana Del Rey's debut, this is an impressive and often dark collection from somebody so young. The singer also shares her lyrical fixation with death (Bob Dylan appeared to have this same youthful fascination when he started out).

When I first heard Take me to the Church I thought 'Oh no, not another sycophantic love song,' but it's a powerful melody and when analysed in the anti-homophobia context of the video, the message can be taken in on several levels.

To my mind, Cherry Wine should be the closing track (as it is on the non-deluxe album). At first it sounds sweet, but is he really romanticising having a violent partner? Or is he just using closed fists and blood as metaphors for the more difficult parts of a relationship? Either way, the character sounds content in his blindness and the song leaves the analytical listener with some uncomfortable thoughts, especially as he sings it so earnestly. The gentle harmony he sings on the album's duet is another high point for me.


Ups-a-Daisy
Ups-a-Daisy
Price: £1.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fresh as a daisy!, 12 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Ups-a-Daisy (Kindle Edition)
I am not usually a reader of this particular genre but curiosity prompted me to download a chapter as a friend of mine knows the author. I can say that is well written and should appeal to those who empathise with the central character's concerns. A wife of another friend showed me a sample from 'Fifty Shades of Grey' a few years ago and I can honestly say that this is written is a far more fluent and engaging style, and unlike EL James' style of 'Chick Lit,' you won't have to hide the book from the children. Relax. Enjoy.


Black Mirror - Series 1-2 and Special [DVD]
Black Mirror - Series 1-2 and Special [DVD]
Dvd ~ Rory Kinnear
Price: £15.00

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Any Colour You Like..., 6 Feb. 2015
I'd give the box set 4.5 stars, but am tipped towards five for the simple fact that this is the darkest thing to hit our screens since the golden era of Chris Morris, and much needed in a culture where thinking is so unfashionable. The notion of a tragic/sad ending had almost disappeared from Western culture until this series (save for Lars von Trier, who is name-checked in series 1). Of course the big money is in giving the people what they believe they want, so a million more episodes of X Factor it is. This whole situation was brilliantly satirised in the second episode of series 1, which has added poignancy when the central female character was earnestly singing about real feelings, before being coerced into taking a job in pornography. This is my favourite individual episode and a parable for our materialistic age.

I was not so keen on the politician/pig episode which I found rather coarse in spite of its valid point, although the 'redo' episode adroitly confronts the concerns that many of us have about Google glasses and the like.

So what of series 2? I found episode 1 quite similar to the Kubrick/Spielberg film A.I. which pretty much had the subject sewn up IMO, but it was nice to see Beachy Head as a backdrop. By the way, it is true that there is an undercover counselling team stationed at the nearby pub there.

Episode 2 reminded me of the Derren Brown episode where a guy is put into a real-life simulation of a zombie computer game. Maybe this even inspired it, but this particular tale has a brilliant twist which points the gun squarely back at modern society and its 'everything is entertainment' attitude. Jeremy Kyle, anyone?

And finally, the third episode actually had me laughing out loud for the first time in Black Mirror. It was therefore no surprise to see Chris Morris's name in the credits. Does a 'punk' attitude connect more with people than 'politics?' I guess the answer is 'yes'. This seems strangely prophetic now that Russell Brand is speaking out for the common man on shows like Question Time. And fair play to him, politicians aren't speaking for us, right?

As for White Christmas, I think this is the best Christmas special for a long time, making a few nods to festivity without compromising the unrelenting darkness of the series. The master stroke was the ironic use of Wizard's perennial Christmas hit at the end, which left me thinking about the programme for days after viewing. Great sci-fi questions are raised such as, 'do we have a moral obligation to artificial intelligence - digital clones of ourselves?'

Perhaps the ultimate fear is being trapped in a state of altered perception or isolation for eternity (a theme I explored myself in Seven Dreams of Reality and The Kent-erbury Tales). Here it is taken to its extreme, but before you get to that there are 3 stories all with their own twists - voyeuristic dating advice, a blue-tooth 'you' and real-life 'blocks' from contact. This is perhaps the ultimate proof that horror can have far more impact without the gore and even a bit of dark humour. Roll on series three.


Black Mirror: White Christmas [DVD]
Black Mirror: White Christmas [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jon Hamm
Price: £8.00

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Darkest Christmas special ever!, 23 Dec. 2014
Personally I think this is the best Christmas special for a long time, making a few nods to festivity without compromising the unrelenting darkness of the series. The master stroke was the ironic use of Wizard's perennial Christmas hit at the end, which left me thinking about the programme for days after viewing.

Great sci-fi questions are raised such as, do we have a moral obligation to artificial intelligence - digital clones of ourselves?

Perhaps the ultimate fear is being trapped in a state of altered perception or isolation for eternity (a theme I explored myself in Seven Dreams of Reality and The Kent-erbury Tales). Here it is taken to its extreme, but before you get to that there are 3 stories all with their own twists - voyeuristic dating advice, a blue-tooth 'you' and real-life blocking from contact.

This is perhaps the ultimate proof that horror can have far more impact without the gore and even a bit of dark humour. Roll on series three.


The Endless River
The Endless River
Offered by streetsahead
Price: £8.09

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bleached Floyd?, 14 Nov. 2014
This review is from: The Endless River (Audio CD)
It's that album everybody wants to review, so what the hell, I thought I'd have a go too.

Firstly I have no doubt as to the integrity of Gilmour and Mason in wishing to pay homage to Wright with this album. I think Gilmour may have deliberately toned down his usual style to put Rick's keyboard playing centre-stage. Listen to the blistering guitar on the Division Bell's 'What do you want from me?' and you'll see there's really no comparison when it comes to guitar.

I like the idea of four long, mainly instrumental and ambient tracks too. Atom heart mother was mostly instrumental too, remember?

However I think that the closer artists are to madness the more poignant their works are. Nothing here will make your spine tingle or your eyes water like many tracks on Dark Side or The Wall. Compare this with the sheer power of The Great Gig in the Sky and you can see that it's not just about the lack of lyrics either.

All in all it's a noble effort to visit the psychedelic sounds of the past, but listen to the live tracks on Ummagumma and it's as though the hard edges have been knocked off, with the sound somewhat bleached by what Roger may have called 'soft middle age.' To illustrate how the comfort that everybody deserves can have this effect, compare Lennon's Double Fantasy with Plastic Ono Band, the Chili's Stadium Arcadium with One Hot Minute or even the Kings of Leon's later albums with their first three.

The album starts off well and even sounds a bit 'Aphex Twin' at the beginning, but it's a long wait until the welcome bit of rock on Nervana, which would have been better incorporated into one of the four main pieces to pep things up a bit. The other two deluxe edition extra audio tracks would have been better omitted IMO.

'The man and the journey' must surely be aching for an official release, as is the John Peel session containing lengthy versions of Fat Old Sun and Embryo. Also I see no shame in releasing early Syd-era stuff like Lucy Leave and Vegetable Man. In my opinion all would be a far more edifying addition to the Floyd canon. I hope this album grows on me, but after three listens it's taking its time for a Floyd album. I will update this review should I reach that Eureka moment.

I'm not 'dissing it' (there's a good old 90s word), but IMO the best post-Wall era Floyd album is Waters' solo album, 'Amused to Death.'


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