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John David Charles Hilton "Creative spark...." (Redcliffe, Bristol United Kingdom)

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Kill Uncle
Kill Uncle
Price: £7.01

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Let down once more, 18 Oct. 2009
This review is from: Kill Uncle (Audio CD)
Kill Uncle is not Morrissey's finest album. The musical settings lack the punch and textures of his finest work and, short though the album is, it sounds padded.
Just as Johnny Marr let him down badly on Strangeways, here Nevin and Langer simply fail to understand or supply the sort of backing that Morrissey thrives on.
Sing Your Life, King Lear and The End of the Family Line all sound to me as if they could have been great songs, but aren't, with Morrissey singing over what are at best generic pop-light backings that rather than supporting the voice, leave it foundering over the top.
For all that, it is a pleasant listen. But we expect more than 'pleasant' from Steven Patrick.
It's the weakest of his solo albums, but not quite as horrid as Strangeways.

Price: £10.68

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quiet, understated, melodic and achingly beautiful., 20 Aug. 2009
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This review is from: Song (Audio CD)
If they're remembered at all, it's for the one-off hit "Driving Away From Home" which, somewhat unfairly, was seen as a novelty record. But the following album showed the bands depth and skill as both lyricists and composers.
Song, when it eventually emerged, sank without trace. Which is a pity, since it is such a wonderfully beautiful record. Life's Hard... was good, very good, but Song is nothing less than magnificent.
Sparse, evocative, melodic, understated and suffused with a very English sense of despair and resignation. But it isn't a depressing album, there's a (suitably) quiet faith that underlies the whole thing.
Of the two bonus tracks, The River is good, but wasn't quite good enough to get onto the album, and Faith is basically Heaven Knows in a different key and tempo with a completely different chorus. Both add value to the collection.
Mostly, however, it is just so good to see this quiet masterpiece back in the catalogue.
I'm buying the reissue even though I have both the original album and the CD single that the bonus tracks come from.

1985-2001 (Ltd)
1985-2001 (Ltd)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Small package, big ideas..., 16 Aug. 2009
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This review is from: 1985-2001 (Ltd) (Audio CD)
The first thing you notice is the distinctive packaging, a trio of three inch CDs in a digi-pack style book/box, all black and white with a surealist photo and the artist's name and the dates 1985-2001 on the front cover, and a brief description with a photo and barcode on the back. Fittingly, it looks like a baby box-set.
Wonderful, but soon overshadowed by the music. In the 64 minutes that the set spans, we're taken through just about every style of evocative sound painting, from Morricone to Moby and even early Tangerine Dream. But those are no more than reference points, the music is very much Stephen Jones. Tuneful, wonderfully arranged and very pithy.
Maybe, as suggested in another review, it would have been nice for him to have allowed a few of the pieces to stretch out for more breathing room, but then again it works so well as it is.
Maybe not quite as essential as The Original Lo-Fi box set, but damn fine music for an evening in, either alone or with intimate company.

Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £37.95

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wondrous collection., 29 July 2009
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This review is from: Coatings (Audio CD)
A lovely 13 track selection of rare, mostly unreleased alternative versions. Includes the 3 track Peel session from early '88 that is worth the price of admission on its own.

The studio of Ambulance Chasers is even better than the live version on TIC, IMHO.

Best of all are the alternative versions of Ambitious and Kidney Bingos. The out-takes from Manscape are good, but probably the weakest part of the set.

Basically this is 70 minutes of prime 80s Wire.

It is important to note that the second CD is NOT included. It was available only via mail-order. I am checking out if it can still be obtained. If I find out, I shall let you know either way by ammending this review.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 11, 2009 5:14 PM BST

Complete Poems
Complete Poems
by Basil Bunting
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.95

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent selection, 30 Jun. 2009
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This review is from: Complete Poems (Paperback)
Well, first things first, this is one book that does not do what it says on the tin. This isn't, by any stretch of the imagination, a 'complete' volume. At most it's a collected. Bunting was a notoriously harsh critic of his own work. Whilst this volume is significantly larger than the 'complete' that Bunting edited, it is still only 244 pages.

So, having got that out of the way, why five stars?

Because BB was one of the most interesting, rewarding, funny, poignant, cutting, accessible and all round enjoyable poets to emerge from the ferment of the 1930s.

Yes, of course Briggflatts is here, and it is magnificent. But there is a lot else which lies in its shadow. Try "What the Chairman Told Tom" which is just very, very funny, or the beauty of "I Am Agog for Foam".

There is so much to savour in this volume.

But that still doesn't make it complete.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 25, 2014 10:46 AM GMT

Sibelius: The 7 Symphonies, Finlandia, Kullervo, Vase Triste & More
Sibelius: The 7 Symphonies, Finlandia, Kullervo, Vase Triste & More
Offered by In Tune UK
Price: £55.75

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb performances and even better value., 11 Jun. 2009
Recorded at various locations between 1992 and 1998 this is one of the finest sets of Sibelius' orchestral music available, and probably the best bargain set of his music right now too.
Colin Davis is one of the greatest living interpreters of the Finnish master's music, and this set demontrates his love of, and dedication to, Sibelius' varied and yet so recognisable sound-world.
Davis manages to bring out the sense of space at the heart of the symphonies, leaving out no detail or nuance, but still keeping a grip on the architecture that is so important to these works, particularly from the fourth onwards.
The music is by turns epic, brittle, warm, massive and intimate, and Davis brings all this out with a sure hand, teasing out some of the finest LSO performances in years. He has been associated with the LSO for a long time now, and it shows in the pointed rhythms and delightful balances of the various orchestral sections.
If there is a fault, it's that Kullervo, that early symphony-in-all-but-name, seems to drift a bit in places, but this is as much due to weaknesses in the score as to any lack on Davis' part. I've heard better though, Berglund's take on EMI is tighter in this regard and somewhat more convincing.
But this is a personal thing, and, like the generous filling of other orchestral works in this set, more than worthwhile performances. The Lemminkainen suite is particularly nicely paced.
The sound is excellent throughout, with just the right touch of reverb without over-warming the sound.
The booklet is informative, helpful and well written, with the English text spanning 20 pages. It lacks, however, a translation of the Kullervo text.
In summary, as stated elsewhere, this is an excellent set to start your Sibelius collection with, and indeed it is a good set to build it around.
It is also pretty much an essential purchase for those Sibelius die-hards who didn't purchase the individual CDs.

Mahler-Symphony No. 2 / Kindertotenlieder/Des Knaben Wunderhorn
Mahler-Symphony No. 2 / Kindertotenlieder/Des Knaben Wunderhorn
Price: £10.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An essential document, but not pleasant listening, 16 April 2009
An essential document, but buyer beware

If you're looking for a way to begin exploring Mahler's sound world then this set is not for you.

Make no mistake that these recordings are of great historic importance, mostly due to being the oldest extant recordings of his music.

They are 'acoustic' recordings and that method simply was not up to recording large scale orchestral works. Thus what was recorded here is a 'cut down' version of the score, with greatly reduced forces, little percussion and compromises such as tubas supplementing the double basses. Further more, the movements had to recorded in bits and while the Naxos engineers have done their best to tape the sections together (9 sections in the case of the 33 minute finale), they cannot hide the bitty nature of the recordings.

So, bearing in mind the terrible sound (and it really is awful, for all the engineers' efforts), compromised arrangements and jigsaw construction, who is this set for?

Well, Mahler completists, basically. Hidden underneath all the surface noise are some remarkable performances, though the symphony in particular descends a bit too far into sentimentality at times. But if you want a picture of early Mahler performances, then this set is pretty much essential.

And be aware that if the proposed changes to copyright law come into force, and that is extremely likely, then much of the Naxos Historical Series will have to be withdrawn.

Bantock: Orchestral Music
Bantock: Orchestral Music
Price: £32.68

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another English composer awaiting an audience..., 23 Jan. 2009
Granville Bartock is a sadly overlooked composer, one of too many British composers in that position. And yet his music is extremely accessible without being in any way light weight. Just listen to the beauties of any of the symphonies and you cannot mistake a master craftsman's work, with his passions, musical imagination and sheer talent soaring from every bar. The six, generously filled CDs that make up this set make for much more than just an introduction to this over-looked master of the English orchestral scene of the first half of the twentieth century.
Like Malcolm Arnold, Robert Simpson and, to a lesser extent, Arnold Bax, he lies hidden by the huge shadows cast by Vaughan Williams and Edward Elgar, but, as with the other two, he deserves to be heard much more often than he has for the last fifty years or so.
And the performances are superb, as you'd expect from that much missed champion of the English Symphony, Vernon Handley. He brings out the passion, the soaring beauty and the fire in these works and never loses sight of where the works are heading.
The recorded sound is excellent, clear, full bodied and atmospheric with just the right amount of warmth.
The booklet is detailed, informative and well written.
The only flaw is that track listings are, for some unknown reason, not given for all the works. For the record, here are the details for the two works that lack track listings, for which I feel the details are required. (As far as I am aware, the sections that make up 'A Hebridean Symphony' and 'Overture to a Greek Tragedy' carry no markings).

A Celtic Symphony
Part 1: Lento sostenuto [3'30]
Part 2: Allegro con fuoco [7'10]
Part 3: Andante con tenerezza [4'54]
Part 4: Port-a-Bial. Allegro con spirito [1'28]
Part 5: Largamente maestoso [2'59]

Pagan Symphony
Section 1: Tranquillo molto lento sostenuto [6'11]
Section 2: Allegro con spirito [9'36]
Section 3: Scherzo. Dance of Satyrs [2'58]
Section 4: Fanfare. Allegretto con moto [6'07]
Section 5: Molto lento, sostenuto e rubato [2'49]
Section 6: Allegro molto e con fuoco [8'01]

All in all a wonderful box that should be snapped up by all lovers of English symphonic music.

Arnold - The Malcolm Arnold Edition - The Eleven Symphonies
Arnold - The Malcolm Arnold Edition - The Eleven Symphonies

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real gem, 23 Jan. 2009
O why can't we British look after our geniuses properly? Malcolm Arnold was one our great symphonists, up there, IMHO, with Vaughan Williams and Bax. But, as with Robert Simpson, his works appear in the catalogue only grudgingly and sparingly. It appears that this set, as with the similar Naxos set (which, fine though it is, is bettered by this one) has slipped out of the catalogue, which is very sad.
As with the three other composers mentioned, Handley's cycle is the one to go for, as he really gets inside this music and the recorded sound is superb. The booklet notes are a bit brief, but well written and imformative all the same.
This serves as a monument to the memories of both the composer and the conductor.
If you can find it at a sensible price, then snap it up.

Complete Piano Music
Complete Piano Music

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent complete cycle., 28 Dec. 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Complete Piano Music (Audio CD)
This survey of Shostakovich's music for solo piano is exhaustive and as complete as you're going to get on CD. All of the works are played with commitment and skill and, in the case of the major works, no little insight. The first piano sonata is particularly effective.
Central to this, as any collection of DS's piano works, is the Twenty Four Preludes and Fugues Opus 87. One of the most monumental keyboard works ever written, it's difficult to think of any work other than Bach's '48' (which were an obvious source of inspiration for this cycle) that can rival it for breathtaking scope, depth and ambition. Despite the huge variety of of tone and expression in the work it it remains one huge monument that resists attempts to break it up into easily digested chunks.
Tatiana Nikolaeva's 1987 recording will probably always remain the bench-mark for this work and this version does not threaten it's pre-eminence. But Boris' presentation of the work is one of the finest available, on a par at least with Ashkenazy's lyrical take or Scherbakov's more measured approach.
The documentation is well written, detailed and insightful. The sound is very good to excellent.
All in all this is an excellent set and, whilst there appear to be some distribution problems with the set, it is well worth its price, though it is higher than might be expected.

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