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Colin Smith (England)
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Pampered Menial
Pampered Menial
Price: £12.17

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovingly remastered cult classic, 27 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Pampered Menial (Audio CD)
This review is for the Esoteric (2013) release.
The remastering has managed to highlight all the melange of musical instruments employed by this stellar band - soaring guitars, sweet acoustics, swirling percussion, delicate flute/violin, mellotron etc, as well as that otherworldly vocal range of David Surkamp.

Often filed under AOR/Prog Rock, PAVLOV'S DOG were formed in St. Louis in 1972, and this, the band's debut album was released in 1975. The most controversial (and polarising) aspect of the band is the trembling high-pitch vocals of guitarist David Surkamp. Oft compared to Geddy Lee (Rush) Surkamp's delivery is an unearthly way to express the emotions within the lyrics. Like a drowning man high on helium, the guy often sounds like he's on his knees, pleading desperately, almost tearful, as in the power ballad 'Julia' which I stumbled across in a compilation collection, and which was the only track I'd heard by the band prior to ordering this album, and is probably the most commercial-sounding track here (although I found the rest to be instantly accessible).

Surkamp is a classic 'Marmite' case - you'll either be enchanted or want to throttle him. Personally I was a little bemused when I first heard that voice but I've since become very fond of it. The musicianship itself is of a high standard - sometimes it's a bit Kansas with some of the dramatic sweep of Meat Loaf. A powerful but subtle blend of light and shade employing electric/acoustic guitars & delicate passages of piano/keyboards/violin/flute etc, along with a restless percussion which refuses to be repetitive. The band sound tight while maintaining a joyful spontaneity & hi-energy. My favourite track?..actually a difficult question to answer as I enjoy them all!

The included 14-page essay provides a potted history of the band, which the fates seemed to conspire against from the start. No doubt many found the caterwauling vocals of David Surkamp too much to cope with - a real pity. And very regrettable that this excellent band eventually drifted into relative obscurity, a band that managed to slip under my radar for many years - don't let the same happen to you.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 4, 2013 8:58 PM BST


The Bounder - The Complete Series [1982] [DVD]
The Bounder - The Complete Series [1982] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Peter Bowles
Price: £11.93

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not one of Eric Chappell's best, but still OK, 26 Mar 2013
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Eric Chappell was one of the most successful sitcom writers of the 70s/80s, with hit shows including RISING DAMP, ONLY WHEN I LAUGH, DUTY FREE and HOME TO ROOST. For those not in the know, THE BOUNDER was originally broadcast in 1982/83, with the series opening with Howard (Peter Bowles) taking up residence with his sister, Mary (Rosalind Ayres) and her estate agent hubby, Trevor (played by George Cole) after his release from prison after serving time for fraud.

Howard is your archetype cad/conman - a flamboyant individual who schemes and charms his way through life. Staid brother in-law Trevor is often bemused by Howard's antics. Laura (Isla Blair) is the attractive wealthy widow living next door who is frequently subjected to Howard's romantic overtures which usually go wrong....and that basically is that. Actually, for those familiar with Eric Chappell's 'Only When I Laugh', it's very noticeable that the Howard character borrows heavily from the upper-class Archie Glover (also played by Bowles).

What helped to make 'OWIL' so funny was the inclusion of the strong working-class character Roy Figgis (James Bolam)..an interfering busybody who provided the perfect foil for the pompous Glover, as the class war raged on the hospital ward. In 'The Bounder' however, the main characters are homogenous middle-class individuals, which I feel in this case has contributed to a lack of real diversity in the storylines. The humour is very gentle & cosy, which in itself is not an issue but many of the episodes do have a 'samey' feel, with Howard's continual pursuit of Laura, while Trevor is often required to be little more than a victim or innocent observer. The standout episode for me would have to be 'On Approval' in which Howard's efforts to impress Laura with an expensive present go disastrously wrong.

The cast is a great one, with Peter Bowles in particular managing to lift the series with an excellent performance in spite of some pretty static scripts, his character interacts nicely with George Cole's Trevor. There are plenty of scenes to raise a smile but only a few laugh out loud moments. A TV series featuring such a stellar cast deserves at least 3-stars though.

THE BOUNDER only ran for two series, with just fourteen, 25-minute episodes produced. The picture & sound quality on this Network release is generally good. There are no extras or subtitles.


Deadly Nightshade [DVD]
Deadly Nightshade [DVD]
Dvd ~ Emrys Jones
Price: £10.26

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent British crime drama, 25 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Deadly Nightshade [DVD] (DVD)
Firstly, the digitally remastered black & white picture and sound quality on this Strawberry Media (ITV Studios) all region release is very good, there are no extras or subtitles. Directed by Hammer stalwart John Gilling, this 1953 Kenilworth Films Production is tightly scripted throughout it's relatively short running time of only 59 minutes. In a crime drama involving a case of mistaken identity and Cold War espionage, Emrys Jones heads the cast in a dual-role, portraying artist Robert Matthews and escaped convict John Barlow.

Set within an isolated and windswept Cornish village, the surroundings add extra atmosphere to the story. The reliable Emrys Jones again manages to lend an air of calm yet strangely unsettling menace to his character (as in 'Serena') with solid support coming from John Horsley as the police inspector on the case. It's always a pleasure to come across Joan Hickson, here she shines in a typical cameo appearance, along with pretty Zena Marshall as the love interest. Character actors Marne Maitland and George Pastell also chip in with relatively brief but effective appearances. Gilling's direction is assured, along with the performances.

The doppelganger/mistaken ID premise in this Lawrence Huntington penned crime tale offers a few twists & turns along the way (check out the climax). Difficult to add any more without giving away a spoiler alert. An unspectacular but satisfying little movie which possesses all the requisite elements of the B-movie genre, fans of vintage British crime dramas will probably find it well worth a look.


Pure... Psychedelic Rock
Pure... Psychedelic Rock
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Up, Up and Away..., 20 Mar 2013
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With my love of psychedelia I was wide-eyed and drooling in anticipation, eagerly awaiting the delivery of my copy. With newly coiffered centre-parting & bedroom decked out in purple flock-wallpaper I hurriedly loaded a disc... The superb "In The Year 2525" was one of the main reasons I ordered this collection - bliss!! OK, the album title is taking a bit of a liberty, with "Psychedelic Rock" definitely used in it's broadest sense, along with "Pure"...huh?.... "Up, Up and Away" (In my beautiful balloon) next door to "Simon Says"...man that's too far out!.. OK, you get the odd clunker here and there, but you also get a fair smattering of big names & some very good stuff amongst this varied 60's/70's pick 'n' mix.

I have to get real here - 4 discs, 69 tracks for under £6 (at the moment). I managed to find more than enough orange cremes in this box of delights, so I reckon it all adds up to good value for money. These compilation releases are often a good introduction to some of the artists featured, with the potential knock-on effect of improved sales. Considering the age of some of the material, the sound quality is generally very good.... Now close the curtains, crack open a packet of Spangles, close your eyes & let the music take you wherever you wanna go baby.


Moonlight Feels Right / Rock 'N' Roll Rocket
Moonlight Feels Right / Rock 'N' Roll Rocket
Price: £10.41

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Starbuck - Quality 70s Pop, 15 Mar 2013
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I must admit that the only track I can recognise is the hit single from 1976 "Moonlight Feels Right"..and if that song is the only memory you have of Southern US band "Starbuck", then for the most part this collection sticks to the same formula - a bright and breezy mix of Pop/Soft Rock with a sunshine & summer sound that evokes images of driving along a deserted coastal road on a hot summer's day with the roof retracted & a cooling breeze in the face (memories of that long hot summer of '76 coming back!)

The album is a cheerful blend of keyboards/synth/guitar with some delightfully laid back vocals - smooth & polished stuff. My pick of the tracks?...well, like I've already mentioned, the album sticks mostly to it's winning formula, with "Moonlight Feels Right" (how many songs have a xylophone solo in the middle!) still sounding bright and fresh, while "I Got To Know" and "Drop A Little Rock" always manage to press the right buttons. My personal favourite would have to be the soft rockin' "Don't You Know How To Love A Lady" which features a pleasing little guitar solo.

Starbuck may not have managed to muscle their way past my Grateful Dead and Led Zep collection, but I'm a fairly eclectic guy & when the "Moonlight Feels Right" this album is a pleasant way to chill out. The audio quality on this release also sounds pretty good to my ears.


Seventh Sojourn
Seventh Sojourn
Price: £12.82

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An album of outstanding beauty, 13 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Seventh Sojourn (Audio CD)
Although I was old enough to know better (I was born in 1960) I grew up without ever bothering to give The Moody Blues a fair chance - a case of "pearls before swine" methinks!...until recently. Well, this is a beautiful album. High-quality musicianship with haunting, often ethereal vocals & harmonies. The music is not just a pleasurable attack on the eardrums but also a welcome assault on the heart and soul. I simply cannot find a weakness here - no arrow of criticism shall pierce it's armour.

Like many others I have my particular favourites, with "New Horizons" with it's beautifully emotive orchestral arrangements which emphasise the moving lyrics. With it's down to earth & often melancholy themes, the lyrics throughout the album are sheer poetry.
The four bonus tracks are excellent - the instrumental versions of "You and Me" & "Lost In A Lost World" while the rediscovered Justin Haywood song "Island" has been dusted down & remastered along with the rest of the album. The other bonus track is the 'original' version of "Isn't Life Strange" with it's omitted instrumental bridge fully restored, a moving embellishment on the previous release.

Is there a weak track here?..nope! Is this album worthy of 5-stars?..emphatically YES!! Once I didn't care for The Moody Blues, then I grew up. A short review but others say it so much better than I could. Now please do yourself a big favour and order your copy - I'm glad I did!


Case Logic Polypropylene Prosleeve CD Wallet for 48 CDs - Blue/Grey
Case Logic Polypropylene Prosleeve CD Wallet for 48 CDs - Blue/Grey

4.0 out of 5 stars Does the job, 11 Mar 2013
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I already own a couple of other Case Logic CD/DVD wallets, so I was pretty confident when ordering. Although the wallet casing has a fairly stiff & strong feel, there is no internal lining or outer padding. The strip on the top (spine) has a 'suede-ish' feel. As for the inside, we have the familiar plastic film/soft lined protective 'pages'...twelve in all, which are double-sided & hold 4 discs apiece, and have a fairly durable feel.

The discs are held snugly but not too tightly, which makes inserting & removal comfortable. Even at it's full 48-disc capacity, the case never feels jam-packed & the discs never feel squashed together. A pretty compact & smart looking way to file away 48 discs I reckon!


Listen To The Band
Listen To The Band
Price: £10.17

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A varied 'mixed' bag, 6 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Listen To The Band (Audio CD)
I love my nostalgia! - and I was a big fan of The Glitter Band in my early teens. I could only rarely afford LP's back then, so my only taste of the album came through "The Tears I Cried" & "People Like You and People Like Me" but I was kinda intrigued on learning that this 1975 release was a considerable diversion from the band's more familiar output - an attempt by the band to establish it's own identity.... Well, some fans were happy with the outcome, some less so (judging by the other reviews so far!)

Anyway, here's a random flick through some of the tracks: IMO the opening track "Where Have You Been" is the pick of the litter, with it's slow swirling build up to an infectious climax. There's only the occasional reminder of the 'Glitter' years, with " The Tears I Cried" mirroring the feel of the band's earlier big hit "Goodbye My Love", while amongst the bonus tracks "Don't Make Promises You Can't Keep" & "I Can Hear Music" are catchy enough.
Some of the music however, is a major detour, with "Let Me Love You" seeing a foray into Reggae, while "Makes You Blind" has a driving 'disco' beat....and as for "Tuna Biscuit" - I can only echo the words of another reviewer: "Average White Band" indeed.

While I will applaud the band for seeking out their own identity, apart from a number of exceptions, some of the album & bonus tracks just aren't my cup of tea I'm afraid, although admittedly there are some pleasantly melodic Pop/Rock/Ballad tunes sprinkled here & there, along with some pleasing harmonies. Perhaps I'm getting old (I'm pushing 53)...I've taken in so much stuff during the intervening years, and naturally some of the music that was great for me all those years ago no longer casts the same spell. For me, the first track is exceptional though, IMO one of the best (if not THE best) the band has ever produced. The album itself I would rate 7/10, but I feel that the many bonus tracks should also be taken into consideration, so I have given it 8/10.


Original Hits - 70s Pop
Original Hits - 70s Pop
Price: £11.60

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A list of all the titles...., 2 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Original Hits - 70s Pop (Audio CD)
Here's the full list of 120 tracks...

*DISC ONE:
1. Telegram Sam - T-Rex.
2. Love Is The Drug - Roxy Music.
3. Mr Soft - Cockney Rebel.
4. Touch Too Much - The Arrows.
5. Heart of Stone - Kenny.
6. A Glass of Champagne - Sailor.
7. Get It Right Next Time - Gerry Rafferty.
8. All The Young Dudes - Mott The Hoople.
9. January - Pilot.
10. Some Girls - Racey.
11. Living Next Door To Alice - Smokie.
12. If You Can't Give Me Love - Suzi Quatro.
13. I Hear You Knocking - Dave Edmunds.
14. She's A Wind Up - Dr Feelgood.
15. Roll Over Beethoven - Electric Light Orchestra.
16. Nutbush City Limits - Ike and Tina Turner.
17. 2-4-6-8 Motorway - The Tom Robinson Band.
18. Motor Bikin' - Chris Spedding.
19. Dyna-Mite - Mud.
20. Angel Fingers - Wizzard.

*DISC TWO:
1. September - Earth Wind & Fire.
2. Gotta Go Home - Boney M.
3. I Love To Love - Tina Charles.
4. You Little Trustmaker - The Tymes.
5. Moviestar - Harpo.
6. So You Win Again - Hot Chocolate.
7. Boogie Shoes - KC & The Sunshine Band.
8. Love Hit Me - Maxine Nightingale.
9. Love Really Hurts Without You - Billy Ocean.
10. Ring My Bell - Anita Ward.
11. Instant Replay - Dan Hartman.
12. On Fire - T-Connection.
13. It's Been So Long - George McCrae.
14. Boogie Nights - Heatwave.
15. I'm In The Mood For Dancing - The Nolans.
16. Mississippi - Pussycat.
17. Emotions - Samantha Sang.
18. Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel - Tavares.
19. Uptown Top Ranking - Althea & Donna.
20. There Are More Questions Than Answers - Johnny Nash.

*DISC THREE:
1. Denis - Blondie.
2. Forget About You - The Motors.
3. Something That I Said - The Ruts.
4. Working For The Yankee Dollar - Skids.
5. Five Minutes - The Stranglers.
6. Tokyo Joe - Bryan Ferry.
7. Nite Klub - The Specials (Featuring Rico).
8. On My Radio - The Selecter.
9. The Prince - Madness.
10. Ranking Full Stop - The Beat.
11. The Man In Black - Cozy Powell.
12. Good Girls Don't - The Knack.
13. I've Been Drinking - The Jeff Beck Group.
14. Don't Take No For An Answer - The Tom Robinson Band.
15. Outdoor Miner - Wire.
16. What Do I Get - Buzzcocks.
17. Darlin' - Frankie Miller.
18. Don't Let It Die - Hurricane Smith.
19. When I'm Dead And Gone - McGuinness Flint.
20. They Shoot Horses Don't They - Racing Cars.

*DISC FOUR:
1. Wuthering Heights - Kate Bush.
2. Vincent - Don McLean.
3. Hello Summertime - Bobby Goldsboro.
4. Seasons In The Sun - Terry Jacks.
5. Angie Baby - Helen Reddy.
6. Misty Blue - Dorothy Moore.
7. I Don't Wanna Lose You - Kandidate.
8. If Not You - Dr Hook.
9. Talking In Your Sleep - Crystal Gayle.
10. Honey, Come Back - Glen Campbell.
11. Blanket On The Ground - Billie Jo Spears.
12. Tom Tom Turnaround - New World.
13. If I Had Words - Scott Fitzgerald & Yvonne Keeley.
14. Rose Garden - Lynn Anderson.
15. Emma - Hot Chocolate.
16. Rock On - David Essex.
17. Pinball - Brian Protheroe.
18. Please Don't Go - KC & The Sunshine Band.
19. Dear Elaine - Roy Wood.
20. Dance Away - Roxy Music.

*DISC FIVE:
1. Little Willy - The Sweet.
2. Metal Guru - T-Rex.
3. Picture This - Blondie.
4. Hypnosis - Mud.
5. Daytona Demon - Suzi Quatro.
6. Bye Bye Baby - Bay City Rollers.
7. My Last Night With You - The Arrows.
8. Julie Ann - Kenny.
9. Kissin' In The Back Row of The Movies - The Drifters.
10. Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes - Edison Lighthouse.
11. Just A Smile - Pilot.
12. Judy Teen - Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel.
13. Chinatown - The Move.
14. Showdown - Electric Light Orchestra.
15. A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall - Bryan Ferry.
16. Airport - The Motors.
17. Rag Mama Rag - The Band.
18. Freedom Come, Freedom Go - The Fortunes.
19. I Can't Tell The Bottom From The Top - The Hollies.
20. Meet Me On The Corner - Lindisfarne.

*DISC SIX:
1. Oh Boy - Mud.
2. Under The Moon of Love - Showaddywaddy.
3. Here Comes The Sun - Steve Harley.
4. The 'In' Crowd - Bryan Ferry.
5. Hanging On The Telephone - Blondie.
6. Madness - Madness.
7. Too Much Pressure - Selecter.
8. Gangsters - The Special AKA.
9. Duchess - The Stranglers.
10. Isn't It Time - The Babys.
11. (Shake Shake Shake) Shake Your Booty - KC & The Sunshine Band.
12. Walking - C.C.S.
13. Got My Beer In The Sideboard Here - Chas & Dave.
14. I Am A Cider Drinker (Paloma Blanca) - The Wurzels.
15. Whodunit - Tavares.
16. Cotton Fields - The Beach Boys.
17. Storm In A Teacup - The Fortunes.
18. More Like The Movies - Dr Hook.
19. Brother Louie - Hot Chocolate.
20. Wow - Kate Bush.

Without knowing the full contents of this collection I took a gamble, as the price was under £9. I've enjoyed over half the stuff here, so I would consider it very good value for money. I was a teen for most of the 70s, so I was looking for a nostalgic dip into the past. The collection covers a fairly varied spectrum of tastes, with some hits sounding very familiar - some less so (which I personally welcome). I must confess that the only way I've heard most of these tracks down the years is via jukeboxes in raucous pubs or tinny radios, but the sound quality appears pretty decent to my untrained ear. This collection evoked some great memories for me..... Ah, those were the days!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 14, 2013 11:27 AM GMT


Skull [DVD] [1965] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Skull [DVD] [1965] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Patrick Wymark

3.0 out of 5 stars Not a classic but still good, 27 Feb 2013
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The garish artwork on the sleeve insert doesn't reflect the actual tone of the movie. The ingredients would appear to indicate a classic horror movie: those familiar Amicus stalwarts - Subotsky/Rosenberg, along with the adroit directing talents of Freddie Francis at the helm....a stellar cast - Cushing/Lee/Gough et al, so why the 3 stars?... Well, as some have already alluded to: the occasionally slow pace of the movie itself.

Although moody & atmospheric, the movie sometimes smoulders when it should spark into flame....it needs a certain something - an extra frisson. While the moody & atmospheric feel manages to elevate the story to the level of a decent horror yarn, the contribution from Messrs Cushing & Lee also brings enough gravitas to their respective characters, along with good performances from the rest of the cast which includes Jill Bennett & Patrick Wymark. The dialogue is solid, along with some evocative incidental music.

With it's good production values, the movie looks impressive & the tale, which is based on a short story by Robert Bloch, is an intriguing premise: Dr. Christopher Maitland (Peter Cushing) is a collector with a fascination with the occult. Maitland is presented with the opportunity to acquire the diminutive skull of the infamous Marquis de Sade - a macabre objet d'art which in sinister fashion, observes those in it's company through it's empty eye sockets. Ignoring the warnings from his friend, Matthew Phillips (Christopher Lee) the skull's previous owner, Maitland takes possession of it, which leaves him battling the murderous forces of evil within the skull.

The movie is probably best appreciated by settling down in your favourite armchair on a winter's night, rather than a way to round off a boozy friday night on the town. I've just watched it for the third time in a couple of years, so it must be handing me enough to keep me coming back - it's good but not a classic IMO.

This Legend Films Region 1 widescreen release has good picture & sound quality. The only extra is the movie's 2-minute trailer. There are no subtitles.


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