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Sentinel (Essex)
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String Driven Thing
String Driven Thing
Offered by TwoRedSevens
Price: £8.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Addictive String Stuff, 5 Feb. 2016
This review is from: String Driven Thing (Audio CD)
Remember dancing in a bierkeller in Glasgow (on a table!) to this band about 1970. Subsequently bought both this album, and 'The Machine That Cried', which for my money is the better of the two overall, in terms of consistent quality. Both albums also have indifferent production, though the messy rawness of it does give a certain edge to the rockier pieces. This first album is without a drummer, only guitar, bass and percussion, plus some gloriously wicked, soaring and keening violin from Graeme Smith, one of this album's highlights; truly the sound is 'a string-driven thing'.
Despite my reservations over the uneven quality of the material, and dodgy production values, there are a few gems here which are well worth investigating. The outstanding song is 'Very Last Blue Yodel', where the band connect melodically and lyrically to superb effect: it is a song of regret, and a deep tender, yearning beauty 'the wind will invade me and cloud my soul', as the heartfelt lyrics pile memorable image upon memorable image. I'm shivering just recalling this! Other notable tracks include the powerful and strangely desperate 'Circus', with great driving violin work; 'Let me down' is a similar, more bluesy rocker, shared by the swaying refrain of 'Hooked on the road', while 'Easy to be free' and 'Fairground' are softer pieces, especially the latter which allows Pauline Adams wistful voice to cast its own spell.
Just remember, there are no drums here, but oh that violin really sings...


Doing Good Better: Effective Altruism and a Radical New Way to Make a Difference
Doing Good Better: Effective Altruism and a Radical New Way to Make a Difference
by William MacAskill
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.48

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better Ways of Giving?, 31 Dec. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Given the amount of money donated to charities which never reaches the intended recipients, this book is long overdue. MacAskill provides an analytic framework with which to assess the 'most effective' ways in which our money can work for us after donation.

His research base appears sound, while some of his discoveries are hair-raising about the way in which large amounts of money are wasted in apparently 'good' causes, for example 'Fairtrade', where almost all of the money is swallowed up by 'middlemen', while yet other 'obviously' better approaches to pumping water is also a huge waste of money, with the 'heart ruling the head'.

The framework MacAskill provides can be used to assess & identify charities & causes which are likely to have the most effective, efficient impact on people's lives, in many cases where relatively small amounts of money can have an impact far beyond what might be imagined.

If this still seems like too much hard work, MacAskill helps identify some current projects where donors can be assured their money will be effectively & efficiently used, and also the details of the regulatory body for charities which monitors the on-going effectiveness of these charities/projects, to ensure money donated can be wisely targeted in the future. There's also an interesting chapter on how to make a difference by your choice of career, and an exploration of ecosystem issues (& global warming), and the nature of poverty & 'sweatshops', revealing the latter to have a much more beneficial face than might be expected.

Fascinating & thought-provoking reading.


At Least For Now
At Least For Now
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Soaring Wonder, 31 Dec. 2015
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This review is from: At Least For Now (Audio CD)
This is an exciting new discovery for me. The astonishing range of Benjamin's voice, from deeply soulful to soaring wonder is mesmerising. His keyboard work can be repetitive (echoes of Glass or Einaudi perhaps?) & hypnotic, driving the song ominously along; yet at others, gentle & crystalline. The music embraces a richly melodic sound-world, and is also lyrically strong. Deeply-felt, committed performances ensures this is an album to touch both heart & soul. Outstanding.


Tokyo Adagio
Tokyo Adagio
Price: £12.85

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Sweet Legacy., 31 Dec. 2015
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This review is from: Tokyo Adagio (Audio CD)
This was a lovely discovery, and a fitting tribute to Charlie. The whole album has a calm, almost meditative quality, and the interplay between Gonzalo & Charlie seems almost telepathic. Most of the keyboard work is restrained, almost crystalline at times, while the bass has a warmth and lyrical quality throughout. Sound quality is so good, it almost comes as a shock to hear the audience applaud between numbers. Lovely stuff, and very modestly priced.


Three Novels: Molloy, Malone Dies, the Unnamable
Three Novels: Molloy, Malone Dies, the Unnamable
by Samuel Beckett
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond Waiting..., 8 Nov. 2015
For me, this trilogy moves beyond 'Waiting for Godot' and into an increasingly bleak/dark universe. Despite the growing harshness of their situations, his characters struggle hopefully onwards, aided by a very wry sense of humour about their unpromising prospects. Beckett's language increasingly reflects this sense of being 'stripped back', as each novel becomes more minimalist to reflect the character's narrowing room for manouvre.

Bleak as this all sounds (and is!), Beckett creates characters so determined to persevere, that the reader finds themselves rooting for them all the way, and celebrating their limited achievements. At the same time, the economy of the language, its minimalism & sly humour, adds a contradictory richness to the barren wastes of the setting, to which 'Waiting for Godot' might be seen as a 'golden age'.
An essential masterpiece of literature.


Under the Skin (2013)
Under the Skin (2013)
Dvd
Price: £2.49

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Recipe for Disaster., 18 Oct. 2015
A recipe for disaster: You take a dark & mesmerising novel (by Michel Faber), which grips throughout. You abandon most of the plot, the setting, and strip out the powerful contemporary references, and change the ending. You film much of it in dark or low-light conditions (another kind of 'dark', inferior to the book's inner darkness), add in a pretentious, impenetrable storyline. A major disappointment.
Without Scarlett Johansson's central role, I'd have given this a big zero.
Suggest you read the book, as the contrast could hardly be greater.


Music of Johann Schenk
Music of Johann Schenk
Price: £6.18

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richly Addictive Sounds., 21 Sept. 2015
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This review is from: Music of Johann Schenk (Audio CD)
This is a really lovely collection of Schenk's music, which I discovered first on a Naxos set 'Nymphs of the Rhine'. Although this also features a little from this collection, this album is a more comprehensive introduction to his work, and also includes guitar, lute & chitarrone in addition to the two viols used on the Naxos set. I love the deep, rich, earthy sound of viols, which I first discovered through Marin Marais' work, also on Naxos.
The music itself is quite wide-ranging, from courtly, formal dance suites, to more spritely virtuosic pieces. Happily, the way the music is presented leads the listener toward increasingly addictive pieces, with the distinctive 'earthy' character of the viols, allied to insistent rhythmns and seductive melodies. This culminates in the 'Scherzi Musicali', almost 17 minutes of gorgeously addictive playing from Hille Perl & her group. Sound quality is also very good, with a lovely, warm acoustic.


Bush B500DTRN Freeview +HD Smart Digital TV Recorder (224895022)
Bush B500DTRN Freeview +HD Smart Digital TV Recorder (224895022)

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Small & Simple to set-up & use., 21 Sept. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this to replace a Humax which had become increasingly unreliable, but was easy to programme & use. As a creature of habit, and a relative fear of unfamiliar technology, I was initially nervous about installing/using this new Bush model.

Happily, both the automatic install, and the ease with which I can record, have dispelled these fears. I know there are loads more functions, including downloads from things like BT iPlayer, if you add an internet connection, but for now I'm just happy to have a glitch-free recorder which is easy to use, once more. At first, there seemed to be a slight problem with synchronicity of sound & picture, but this now seems to have settled down fine. Only time will tell regarding longer-term reliability, so I'll try to update this in due course.


Humax Freeview playback Digital TV Recorder PVR-9150T 160GB Twin Tuner PVR
Humax Freeview playback Digital TV Recorder PVR-9150T 160GB Twin Tuner PVR

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Initially great, but increasingly unreliable., 18 Sept. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Good performance & quality, allowing you to record 2 programmes & watch another previous recording, so lots of versatility.
However, ours started showing problems before we'd had it 2 years. At first, there was only an occasional freezing/jumping on some playback pieces. As time passed though, 2-3 minutes could be lost, and sound/picture synchronization could also be lost.
So: good in the short term, but not a model with any long-term reliaibility. Reluctant ever to buy a Humax again.


Mens Maverick Flat Sandal 'A1103' - Grey - Size 8 UK
Mens Maverick Flat Sandal 'A1103' - Grey - Size 8 UK
Offered by Wow Shoes
Price: £19.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Light & Comfortable., 28 July 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
These are comfortable sandals to wear, and the velcro strap only takes a moment to fasten/unfasten, so you can get them on/off quickly.
My feet are slim, but broad, and I found the size 8 a little on the roomy side without socks (though fine with). Quality of finish was a little untidy inside (had to cut a small protruding piece off), but the sandals are very light to wear, and quite satisfactory overall.


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