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Brian V. Burford (UK)

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Band Of Brothers
Band Of Brothers
by Stephen E. Ambrose
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Lasting Testament, 5 Aug. 2009
This review is from: Band Of Brothers (Paperback)
The only reason I bought this book was because I live in the Aldbourne region where Easy Company was based before D-Day. I've heard so many stories from my parents about the activity round here that I've always been fascinated.

However, having read and was disappointed with Ambrose's Crazy Horse & Custer - where there were doubts, or gaps, Ambrose seemed to resort to fiction to keep the story flowing. And when his mammoth D-Day book was panned by so many, it was with some trepidation that I acquired Band of Brothers.

However, it was the stunning TV series of Band of Brothers that convinced me to sit down and read it properly - and what a great read it is. If you've seen the TV series, this won't detract from your enjoyment, in fact it could even enhance it because you can put faces to the names.

What Ambrose does so well here is that he tells the story of Easy Company and its heroes with style, not allowing himself to get bogged down in historical mud, and has successfully avoided the traditional, stuffy and boring historical book. This is a story about human beings, pitched into a horrific and powerful war, set against the backdrop of the biggest military day in the 20th Century.

Winters, Garnere, Lipton, Compton, Nixon, Spiers, they all come alive here and their story is the stuff of legend. I can highly recommend this title. The author states that he was "looking for a short book subject on World War II, that would have a connection with D-Day." He struck lucky.

Although I haven't read D-Day, it would appear that this book has overshadowed his ambitious book on the events of 6th June, and it seems likely that this title, and possibly Pegasus Bridge, will be a lasting testament to his writing abilities.

Pyromania (Deluxe Edition)
Pyromania (Deluxe Edition)
Price: £12.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic that was ahead of its time., 28 July 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I'm a big fan of rock music, so it would be hard for me to pick out one album as my favourite of all time. However, if I simply had to, I'd probably pick this one.

Like most Leppard fans, especially ones from their pre-Hysteria days, I was looking forward to the remastered version of this album. But for some reason, this just doesn't sound as good as it should do. Although it is an improvement on the previous CD release, they still haven't captured the epic feel that it had on vinyl. One review I read said that the sound had been 'compressed' and I've got to agree with that.

However, there isn't a bad track on here, this is classic Leppard, made all the better by the loose and often raw guitar playing from the late Steve Clark. This release is complimented by the live disc from the LA Forum in 1983, which has Clark in majestic and aggressive form. The song Wasted is the type of thing that the band haven't written for years.

I can well remember the Forum gig because it was a the ultimate climax for the band who had climbed the rock ladder in the US with overwhelming success. This show earned them the cover on Kerrang! magazine, including pics from the gig, which was quite an achievement at the time because Def Leppard were accussed of selling-out to the American market by British rock fans.

Nicely packaged that's pleasing on the eye, and some interesting and informative liner notes from David Fricke, Pyromania Remastered Deluxe Edition is a must for all Def Leppard fans. As an album it was ahead of its time, and even though the sound is still somewhat woolly, it stands the test of time and remains, in my opinion, superior to its successor, Hysteria.

Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £6.02

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A release for 40-something mums, 28 July 2009
This review is from: 11 (Audio CD)
After the energetic and enjoyable Room Service, this latest offering from Bryan Adams is very disappointing.

Although this isn't a bad album, there is very little on here to excite you. Each song barely gets out of second gear and some remain firmly in first. In short, this is a CD for 40-something mums who've come back from the school run and want to listen to something unobtrusive while they have their morning coffee.

This is all a far cry from his Reckless (1985) days, when Adams could rock out as well as sing a soulful ballad. Heaven, Summer of '69 and Run To You, are just some of the tracks from that album that you're likely to hear on prime time radio today. 11 will have a very short life and apart from specialists radio stations, it's likely not be heard again.

Having said that, Mysterious Ways is a good song and probably the only one that may have some longevity to it, but overall the album just lacks a spark of engery. These are all mid-tempo songs, mellow and dreamy. If you liked the On A Day Like Today album -which was far superior to this, but a bit too long - you'll enjoy this, if you didn't then avoid it.

As a live performer, Adams is worth every penny, but this studio release is a step back from the brilliant Room Service. It would seem that Mr Adams has forgotten that good rock songs were as much a reason for his global succcess as his often classy ballads. Hopefully, Bryan will return to form with his next album. In the meantime, don't miss a chance to see the man live.

American Outlaws [DVD] [2001]
American Outlaws [DVD] [2001]
Dvd ~ Kathy Bates
Offered by musicMagpie
Price: £5.71

3.0 out of 5 stars Jesse James for the 16-25 year olds, 10 May 2009
Yet another version of the Jesse James story and, quite frankly, one of the worst. I'm not really sure if this is a Western per se, or just an action film, but either way it sure isn't a classic.

Forget authenticity, this movie is all about entertainment, silly dialogue, pointless action sequences and Colin Farrell as the grinning Irish version of Jesse, is badly cast. This film is more like a cheesy, low budget Sunday afternoon TV western than a true representation of the exploits of the James-Younger gang.

Look out though for ex-James Bond Timothy Dalton as a Pinkerton detective who, once again, looks out of place but does put in an interesting performance behind his hairy face.

This film appears to be made for the 16-25 age group, a no brainer with little or no substance and everyone looks pretty. Brad Pitt's recent Jesse James offering is head and shoulders above this effort, but the best of all the James-Younger movie adaptations remains The Long Riders.

Serious students of the western genre should avoid this, but for something to slump in front of the TV for a couple of hours to recover from the night before, this just might, might, do the trick.

Defenders Of The Faith
Defenders Of The Faith
Price: £5.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic and dramatic, marks the end of an era, 11 April 2009
This review is from: Defenders Of The Faith (Audio CD)
On its first listen, Defenders of the Faith, despite some commercial leanings, doesn't possess a hit single - and it's all the better for that.

This album is epic and dramatic, Rob Halford's soaring and at times operatic vocals only gives this release a sense of granduer that the ambitious Nostradamus failed miserably to replicate. The production is intense, heavy and never again would Judas Priest appear this intense.

From the relentless pace of Freewheel Burning to the closer Heavy Duty/Defenders of the Faith, the intensity never lets up. The twin guitar work of the masters Downing and Tipton is class, and even Dave Holland's drum work - never a spectacular drummer - benefits from the production.

The band's performance is polished and shiny, as was illustrated on The Sentinel, but they also show a sadistic side with Love Bites and Eat Me Alive that whiplashes the listener with its sharp chords and razor-like delivery.

There isn't a duff track on this album and despite the classics before like British Steel and Screaming for Vengeance which will always be the albums that cemented their reputation, Defenders of the Faith represented a culmination of all these things, a perfect blend of rock, heavy metal and their sense of sinister, artistic muscle.

The weak Turbo (1986) followed and then the about face Ram it Down (1988). And although Painkiller (1990) restored their reputation as one of the world's best rock bands, its production didn't share Defenders class.

Therefore, Defenders of the Faith really was a watershed release for the band and while die hards will point to the previous releases of British Steel and Vengeance as being superior, I beg to differ. Never again would Priest sound this polished or intense, and if they're honest, both British Steel and Vengeance contain weak tracks that Defenders just doesn't. In short, 40 odd minutes of the best rock music ever produced by Judas Priest and arguably one of the best albums of 1984.

Crossfire Trail [DVD] [2001] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Crossfire Trail [DVD] [2001] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by M and N Media US
Price: £25.53

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but...., 6 Jan. 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I'm not certain how author Louis L'Amour is now looked upon by critics of the American West, but if this film version is anything to go by then it would appear that he never let accuracy get in the way of a story. For example, it's supposed to be 1880 and Red Cloud was already a reservation Indian and, therefore, not really a threat - he wasn't one of the leaders at the Battle of Little Big Horn. Furthermore, by this time, the Indian wars of the plains were over, the last major battles had occurred in 1877.

However, this is a very entertaining movie, but you never feel that Tom Selleck's character is under any real danger. You just know that he is going to get the girl in the end. Even though a sharp shooting Brad Johnson arrives to even up the odds, Selleck's character just isn't really troubled - he's too cool to be believable.

Of the three Westerns he has made of late, Monte Walsh (my favourite)and Last Stand at Saber River, this is somewhere in between the two of them. Mark Harmon's cheesy bad guy is a bit predictable too, although he seems to be having a lot of fun playing a hissing villain.

As other reviewers have noted, the scenary is stunning, shot in Canada, and Simon Wincer does a grand job by directing some zest into a well-worn storyline. Overall, good, but a bullet or two short of a six shooter.

Black Ice (Deluxe)
Black Ice (Deluxe)
Price: £9.69

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth the Wait, 23 Oct. 2008
This review is from: Black Ice (Deluxe) (Audio CD)
Eight years since Stiff Upper Lip, and AC/DC have made the best use of that time. Some critics are saying that this is the best AC/DC album since the classic, Back In Black (1980). I'd say that it's their best since 1983's underrated Flick of the Switch.

Personally, Stiff Upper Lip didn't really grab my attention like an AC/DC album usually does, and Ballbreaker was spoiled somewhat by Rik Rubin's production. But Black Ice is indeed a return to form.

I'm not going to bore you with a track by track review of this release, but there is some light and shade here and some catchy songs. The first single, Rock 'N' Roll Train is typical AC/DC, and the kind of song that was lacking from Stiff Upper Lip. But for me the two standout tracks are Anything Goes - their most commercial song since You Shook Me All Night Long - and Stormy May Day. The latter features some cool slide guitar that shows that the boys weren't afraid to experiment a little bit with their trademark style. Anything Goes is so catchy that you have to be pretty brain dead not to like it and it should be the next single.

If you like the Bon Scott era best of all, this album will remind you of the great man. The band have tried to incoporate all the elements that has made them so successful for so long. And, for the most part, they have succeeded. The only thing lacking from this CD is a Hells Bells or a Let There be Rock.

The packaging is like a small hardback book and is really nice. The theme on the front is continued throughout the product, with some slight variations. There are some nice photos at the front on quality paper and the lyrics are also included. The CD itself is inserted into a pocket at the back. You can't fault the packaging and if you're a big AC/DC fan, then this is the version to have.

Overall, the production is crisp, Brian Johnson's vocals haven't sounded this good for years and the guitars, well they are the stars. It's a vivid production sound, you can almost visualise Phil Rudd puffing away on his fag as he bangs out that familiar AC/DC beat. Full of little licks and surprises, this album is bright and breezy and will grow on you with each spin. Welcome back.

Two Great Scouts and Their Pawnee Battalion: The Experiences of Frank J. North and Luther H. North (Bison Book)
Two Great Scouts and Their Pawnee Battalion: The Experiences of Frank J. North and Luther H. North (Bison Book)
by George Bird Grinnell
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 25 Sept. 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a very interesting and informative book. It captures the flavour and the realism of the Indian wars very well indeed. There is much detail and a lot of information about this unique battalion. Scouts were very important in the winning of the Indian wars, their local knowledge combined with their hatred of a common enemy, made for an effective force.My only criticism is that the Pawnee come across as so superior fighters to the rest of the tribes that the Cheyenne and the Sioux come across as brave, but incompetent foes. We know that not to be true, as they drove out the Pawnee who sought protection from the whites. Other than that, a great book and essential reading for anyone interested in the American Indian wars and the Plains Indian.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 15, 2012 7:31 AM GMT

The Saint [DVD] [1997]
The Saint [DVD] [1997]
Dvd ~ Val Kilmer
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.34

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite Saintly, but close, 29 July 2008
This review is from: The Saint [DVD] [1997] (DVD)
Let's start at the beginning, if you're expecting a Roger Moore/Ian Ogilvy portrayal of Simon Templar then you're going to be disappointed. If you want James Bond with a halo, you're going to be disappointed. But having said that the movie is not disappointing, but very good.

The film just couldn't be like the old TV series, the world has moved on and the old style cannot be replicated if it wants to appeal to a new audience. Kilmer presents a very different Saint, one that is refreshing and you get the sense that Leslie Charteris' original basis for his hero was drawn upon. Kilmer's international master criminal, master of most, but not all disguises is very entertaining, if somewhat innocent.

Elisabeth Shue provides the love interest, and the two work well together. And the villain too is more fun than ruthless. It seems that they were hoping to kick-start a new franchise with this movie, but it didn't quite capture the public's imagination. And as much as I like Kilmer in the part, it seemed that the audience wasn't ready to accept an American playing a British character.

What let's the film down is that there are one or two set-pieces that are not really necessary. And Templar's recovery from almost freezing to death was a bit lame and silly. That aside, a much better film than the critics of the time would have you believe. Roll on the special edition DVD with the cut sequence of the chandeliar confrontation.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 4, 2013 10:04 AM BST

Down In The Valley [DVD]
Down In The Valley [DVD]
Dvd ~ Edward Norton
Price: £3.10

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A forgotten gem, 29 July 2008
This review is from: Down In The Valley [DVD] (DVD)
I came across this movie from a trailer on another DVD. A cowboy lost in the city scenario intrigued me. And I wasn't too disappointed.

Ed Norton is fantastic and the dreamer cowboy, who is a bit mixed up but bascially a good lad at heart. I won't spoil the plot for the reader, but it has some twists and turns and you just want it to turn out right for Norton's character.

Some great acting, and pathos and very enjoyable. It's definitley worth seeing and just the sort of laid-back type of film to see on a sunny evening with a beer.

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