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AGC2070 (Ashford, Kent, UK)

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Flickering Flame - The Solo Years Volume 1
Flickering Flame - The Solo Years Volume 1
Offered by Great Price Media EU
Price: £6.58

3.0 out of 5 stars Good title for a mixed bag, 27 April 2016
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Like many reviewers, I'm unsure of the function of this album. It's certainly not a 'greatest hits' package to lure in those unfamiliar with Waters' solo work (no Sexual Revolution?), but it's not an 'anomalies' album to augment the studio albums either. For the ultimate anomalies I'd go for 'Is it the Fifth?' (not even on general release).

This selection starts well - Knocking of Heaven's Door is a nice cover. We Shall Overcome (not released at the time of this compilation) is nicer still and could yet surface on Volume 2).
Then why do we have the Radio KAOS version of The Tide is Turning, when the Live in Berlin version has ten times the emotional resonance?
Also the finished version of Lost Boys Calling is far superior to the demo here, with a better vocal and a nicer arrangement.
Each Small Candle has a very dark feel to it. The message is good, in line with Waters' human rights interests, and there is some nice guitar, but sadly the melody doesn't grab me.
Flickering Flame (The title track) reminds me of some of Paul Heaton's vocals with the Beautiful South, but changes key so many times that again I lose the melody.
Roger has taken us to some bold places before (The Body for example) and I've been 100% along for the ride, but sadly this assortment seems neither bold or catchy.
As far as I'm concerned Amused to Death remains Waters' solo masterwork, quite rightly mentioned in the same breath as Dark Side and The Wall. The man is undoubtedly a genius but the title pretty much sums up what we have here IMO.

Metal Machine Music
Metal Machine Music
Price: £3.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Don't listen to it; laugh at it!, 21 April 2016
This review is from: Metal Machine Music (Audio CD)
Perhaps the boldest amusical statement ever made - not just a single length album of 'sheer racket' but a double - yet somehow you still feel that you have to own it just for the fun of bewildering your friends and then showing them that it is a real album and not some kind of joke. Or was it? The components list inside is an absolute hoot, as well as Lou's hilarious attempts to validate it artistically - sympathomimetic dextrorotary synthesis indeed! I have listened to all of tracks 1 and 2. I even subjected a friend to track 1 in total darkness with a flashing strobe lamp going for effect. In hindsight, it was probably the experience one gets in an interrogation chamber. Believe me, I like ambient and I like experimental, from Revolution 9 to Ummagumma, but this sounds like an hour of tape hiss with a speeded up ice cream van jingle looped endlessly. The two stars are just for the sheer brass neck of it. For classic Lou, skip forward to Street Hassle.

The Casual Vacancy
The Casual Vacancy
by J.K. Rowling
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Goodfellas meets Last of the Summer Wine, 19 Jan. 2016
This review is from: The Casual Vacancy (Paperback)
It was with some relish that I learned that J K Rowling has written a satire on parish councils and small town (or large village) life. Having wrote an allegorical short story about such matters in my own book Seven Dreams of Reality, I thought I had stuck a necessary boot into the pomposity and self interest disguised as 'concern' experienced in many villages. However, J K has pushed the envelope still further in this acerbic and satirical tale.

Firstly, there are several connected stories taking place simultaneously (like the two interwoven threads that eventually link in Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code, except here there are around half a dozen strands). I personally had to write down the characters' names in order to remember who was who, but this multi-faceted approach does keep the book interesting throughout its 560+ pages, and after having read the first volume of Proust before this, The Casual Vacancy was a positive breeze.

I must admit I found the colourful language and sexual references a bit too 'Goodfellas meets Last of the Summer Wine.' You can expect plenty of four and seven-letter profanity from the two teenage boys, Krystal Weedon's clan and a family-beating Neanderthal named Simon. Some may find this off-putting and consequently find themselves sent scuttling back to their Harry Potter books. Sadly this may discourage the readers who perhaps need this book's message the most:

Those we judge as undesirable can exhibit positive qualities, whilst those who society reveres can often be power hungry sociopaths.

In this harshly judgemental age this could be the sobering message that we need. I love the English countryside and its villages, but full marks to J K for exposing their dark side. File next to that DVD of Dogville.

Dogville [DVD] [2004]
Dogville [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Nicole Kidman
Offered by Jasuli
Price: £7.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Von Trier's Philosophy Masterclass, 12 Nov. 2015
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This review is from: Dogville [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
This film is a brilliant study on the darker side of human nature. Most films have clearly defined 'good guys' and 'bad guys' but as we know circumstances can bring out the worst in good people (and vice versa). In Dogville, even the most phosophical character proves to be a coward in the name of self-preservation and Grace, the film's victim, finally snaps, providing a shocking conclusion (similar to the central character in Von Trier's Europa) when lured by power.

It is the more subtle touches that stick in my mind, such as the Latin inscription above the mine (no sooner said than done) and the references to changes in light - the inexplicable way situations in life can change for no apparent reason. I also think it's a good analogy of village life - nice on the surface, but a whole lot of venom awaits anybody who challenges the status quo.

Like many of Von Trier's films the pace builds to a nightmarish crescendo. A whole book could be written analysing this film's message and one of the characters was even attempting to do this. Self referencing, tragic, in fact all the director's traits that you know and love.

Little Innocents
Little Innocents
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vin's boldest statement, 10 Aug. 2015
This review is from: Little Innocents (MP3 Download)
I can't believe this is the first review of this classic album of Vin's. I have had a vinyl copy for many years but this digital version really brings the songs to life, with crisp differentiation of the instruments giving the whole album a more folky feel than the vinyl, allowing the lyrics and messages of the songs to shine through.

This particular album raised controversy at the time with Vin firmly nailing his beliefs to the mast about the subject of abortion, first quite subtly in Linda and then more directly in Little Innocents, Vin's longest ever song, clocking in at over ten minutes.

Wherever you stand on the issue you can't help but admire Vin's passionate delivery and general thirst for a fairer world where we don't repeat the same mistakes ad infinitum.

Two of the songs cover the issue of alcoholism, and you can't help but feel sorrow for the woman wondering how her husband has turned into a violent alcoholic in Callum More.

Other songs reflect the decline in industry and rise of unemployment that took place in the 80s. Meanwhile, Vin's 'vocals only' rendering of Kipling's 'If' provides a silver lining amid the angst.

All in all, in a world where compassion seems to be a dirty word and the vulnerable provide a handy scapegoat for all society's ills, Vin's altruistic conscience-prodding style is surely needed more than ever.

Sunrise In The Third System: The Pink Years Anthology 1970-1973
Sunrise In The Third System: The Pink Years Anthology 1970-1973
Price: £14.74

4.0 out of 5 stars Mindfulness from Mars, 7 Aug. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The first TD track I heard was Birth of Liquid Plejades. My initial reaction was, "What the. . . ?" but something about the sheer boldness of this minimalist epic made me want to check out an album by the group and this compilation from the early years is the perfect introduction.

You could say that Pink Floyd were the cutting edge of 'ambient' with tracks like A Saucerful of Secrets, and even the unreleased 9-minute version of The Beatles' Flying shows some early origins of the genre, but it was in 1970 that TD seemed to take it to another level.

The rockier tracks (like Ultima Thule) remind me of Hawkwind, and in spite of being a keyboard-based group, the guitar makes a welcome appearance on the early tracks and again in Green Desert, which is the album's most serendipitous find, with its Floydian solo, hypnotic steadily rising drums and a single pulsing chord held for the entire duration showing that some of what was left in the cans until an eighties revamp should have been released much earlier (a bit like that extended Beatles' track I mentioned).

The highlight for me is the opening of Atem, with its pounding tom toms and choral effect bringing to mind the sun breaking through gaps in a huge cavern at dawn. The 'space travel' scene in '2001' came to my mind too on several tracks. The only track I found a bit bland was Zeit, which maybe needs listening to in the context of the original album. The final track is also a bit Jarre-esque.

All in all, this music is great for relaxation when driving and this album has cost me more than expected as I have since ordered four early TD albums. Maybe you will too.

The Uplift Mofo Party Plan
The Uplift Mofo Party Plan
Price: £4.99

3.0 out of 5 stars The Chillis' crazy punk zenith, 30 May 2015
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The Chillis' career has been a fascinating progression from jazzy funk to punk funk to rock funk to metal funk to no funk, and I would say that all the albums up to and including Californication are worth a stab.

This album is the zenith of their punk era. Having given us their 'love it or hate it' take on The Beatles' Abbey Road album cover, they released this, perhaps their least compromising work.

It all begins well with four great tracks with loads of energy and funkiness. Next up, Skinny Sweaty Man is harmless daftness and a little Zappa-ish in feel. You also get a reworked homage to Dylan, whilst Behind the Sun is the album's only ballad.

Conceived as a party album (the uplift mofo party plan is referred to in several different songs), I guess you're not supposed to analyse the lyrics too closely. However, the Special Secret Track and The Love Trilogy let the side down for me with some embarrassingly bad adolescent lyrics a la Sex Rap on Freaky Styley and Sir Psycho Sexy on BSSM. All in all, a mixed bag.

Schoolboys In Disgrace
Schoolboys In Disgrace
Price: £3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Another Kinks (head) master work!, 30 May 2015
This review is from: Schoolboys In Disgrace (Audio CD)
The Kinks mix old and new styles on this showcase for Ray's songwriting and Dave's guitar work. Both brothers shine on this album which makes it one of the Kinks' best albums from the later years.

Dave is given the chance to show his adept soloing skills perhaps for the first time since the brilliant Arthur album. No doubt the biographical subject matter would have inspired the impassioned playing.

'Jack, the idiot dunce' always makes me smile with the schoolboyish volley of 'he's a jerk, he's an ass' etc. Many songs start as a gentle ballad and then rock out, 'I'm in Disgrace' being a perfect example with its satisfying guitar stabs. The vocal on 'The first time we fall in love' is another high point when it morphs from 50s pastiche into an angsty cry for help.

The poignancy is reserved for 'No more looking back.' Great advice as school is pretty traumatic for the majority of us and analysis makes little sense of human behaviour in pupils, teachers or even ourselves. Sometimes the style reminds me of Supertramp, another great British band who have occasionally mused on school days themselves. Gold star and ten house points from me!

Swallowed [CD 1]
Swallowed [CD 1]
Offered by CD-Blitzversand
Price: £9.90

5.0 out of 5 stars Best possible intro to Bush, 30 May 2015
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This review is from: Swallowed [CD 1] (Audio CD)
This four-track maxi single provides a great intro to anybody not familiar with the Shepherds "Bush" band. Swallowed was a grungy hit in the 90s but on Glycerine you hear the band at their most atmospheric with good use of strings. Track two is a fairly typical rock workout, while track four is atmospheric and brooding. Glycerine also namechecks Strawberry Fields, so that's got to be good!

Up (Adventures)
Up (Adventures)
by Gary Homewood
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating reading, 30 May 2015
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This review is from: Up (Adventures) (Paperback)
The book has a Kafka-esque premise of something random and unexplainable happening, and rather than analyse the reasons for it, the reactions of those witnessing the phenomenon are the focus.

The characters and dialogue are well written, from the lusty teenagers to the egotistical hospital staff. Imagine a volatile rock band running a hospital and you'll get the idea.

I was expecting the conclusion to sum the whole affair up by drawing out a moral of some kind. For me the nearest thing to a moral can be deduced from the behaviour of the characters and whether or not they seem happy in life. From the moment the body starts to rise you'll be hooked. I hope Gary writes more.

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