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James Gimpeau (Phnom Penh)

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River Of Time
River Of Time
by Jon Swain
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite? Not this book., 15 Sep 2011
This review is from: River Of Time (Paperback)
A very disappointing read, full of all the usual pitfalls of the average hack's memoir about "Indochina".

- Opium smoking? Check.
- Opium smoking while lying in the lap of an "exqusite" local woman? Check.
- Misty-eyed reminiscences about how magical the place was (and how it no longer exists - so you can't go there, na-na-na-naah-na)? Check.

This really should have been quite different - Swain was there, he was extremely young at the time and didn't look like the back end of a bus. And yet he still comes across as a desperate old goat.

Suggested reading instead: All The Wrong Places by James Fenton. For a non-hack memoir, Red Lights And Green Lizards by Liz Anderson is an interesting snapshot of early 90s Cambodia.

YAMAHA HS50M (UNIT PRICE) Monitoring speakers Analog
YAMAHA HS50M (UNIT PRICE) Monitoring speakers Analog

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Transparently Perfect For Critical Listening, 22 Mar 2011
These monitors will prick up your ears - and raise your eyebrows. As a man I know who sets up radio studios for the BBC remarked, if you can get something sounding good on these Yamahas, it will sound good on anything.

That is not a criticism. These monitors are designed to bring out the detail in the audio - perfect if you are dealing with your own recordings, whether as a musician, broadcast journalist or film-maker.

If there is a problem with the source recording, you will hear it on these monitors. And if something sounds right, then that is because it is. They give you tremendous confidence in whatever it is that you are editing or mixing.

They can be used in a very simple set-up. In this case, external Edirol DAC straight to each separately-powered speaker. Set the gain at 12 o'clock on the monitors, and use the computer volume control to adjust. No mixers or other components necessary.

The HS-50m is designed for near-field use, so it is ideal perched on the same desktop as your computer - or on stands just behind.

As a bonus, recorded music sounds fantastic. As I write this, previously unheard details are flying out of the speakers as they play back Lewis Taylor's extremely dense Lewis II.

Wonderful for work and play.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 28, 2011 12:05 PM GMT

Anomie & Bonhomie
Anomie & Bonhomie
Offered by The Music Warehouse
Price: £5.52

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Umm... Stunning, 17 Sep 2010
This review is from: Anomie & Bonhomie (Audio CD)
Not so much genre-bending as genre-melding, Anomie and Bonhomie brings together just about everything that has ever influenced Green.

The hip hop elements are an integral part of the whole affair - not just a tacked-on afterthought. Hearing the slick interplay between Green, Mos Def, Lee Majors and Me'shell does more than raise the eyebrows - it moves feet and makes hearts soar.

As well as hip hop, Green shows he can take on power pop, balladry, lovers rock and hair metal - emerging triumphant on each occasion. Accomplices of the quality of Wendy Melvoin, Abe Laboriel jr and David Gamson never fail to rise to the challenge.

After all this time, tracks like Umm, Die Alone and Brushed With Oil, Dusted With Powder are not just among this writer's favourite Scritti Politti songs; they are right up there with the best pop music any artist has ever produced.

Set aside any preconceptions you may have about what a Scritti Politti record "should" sound like - and enjoy. Repeatedly, and at length.

Music In Colors
Music In Colors
Price: £16.21

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alchemy, 12 Mar 2009
This review is from: Music In Colors (Audio CD)
Stephen Duffy and Nigel Kennedy were both suffering from a public image problem at the time of this release. Duffy was that Tintin bloke who wanted you to kiss him, while the violinist was a virtuoso in the body of a scruffy berk. For the narrow of mind it obscured the fact that both men were touched with rare talent.

Duffy's sombre-yet-catchy folk-inflected songs reached a cult audience via his band the Lilac Time; the indifference of the wider public had left him on his own again. Kennedy was an elemental violinist, itching to experiment but boxed in by his reputation and major label deal.

Here, one of Duffy's finest collections of songs gives Kennedy the platform from which to soar. His violin is unleashed, drenched with wah-wah and distortion, but still informed by his classical background. The sometimes maligned "transitoires" are perfect bridges between the songs, and have the effect of making the whole album a coherent piece rather than just a series of tracks.

The result is an extremely moving musical experience which falls somewhere between Bruch and The Waterboys. It ranks among the best work that either artist has produced.

Shine A Light [DVD]
Shine A Light [DVD]
Dvd ~ Mick Jagger
Price: £5.61

18 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Shirt Sandwich (drop the 'r'), 15 Jan 2009
This review is from: Shine A Light [DVD] (DVD)
Proof, as if it were needed, that there is no longer any point to the Rolling Stones.

Mick Jagger turns in a kinetic performance, Charlie Watts puts in a decent shift behind his kit, and the hired hand on bass keeps it in the pocket. But Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood? Ay, caramba.

It wouldn't be so bad if they were self-indulgent; musicians are allowed to become lost in their work. But their playing is by turns lazy, sloppy, tuneless, inappropriate, cack-handed and juvenile. And that's being generous.

These two ale-lovers urinate from a great height over anything that has ever been good about the Stones. And they have the nerve to gurn, nudge and wink their way through their cacophonous parody of a performance. Even the Stones' notoriously wonky 1969 concert in Hyde Park was more coherent.

Imagine if a couple of your drunken uncles had joined the band at your sister's wedding to play a few Stones numbers. They'd still show more respect to one of pop's finest back catalogues than the cadaverous Keef'n'Ron.

They'd also pick more wisely from the canon. The bizarre omissions from the setlist, and equally weird inclusions, make it seem like Rafael Benitez was in charge of the selection.

It's all topped off by Martin Scorcese's cringe-worthy chanelling of Woody Allen in the opening and closing sequences. Either this man hasn't seen Spinal Tap, or he hasn't realised that the audience was laughing at, not with, Marty DiBergi.

Sadly, on this occasion none of the musicians explode.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 18, 2014 8:36 PM BST

Peel Sessions Plus
Peel Sessions Plus

5.0 out of 5 stars Tops Kilimanjaro, 7 July 2008
This review is from: Peel Sessions Plus (Audio CD)
In which the BBC producers prove rather better at bringing out the essence of Teardrop than Kilimanjaro's producers, Drummond and Balfe. This packs a real contemporary punch missing from the Teardrops' lovely but rather woolly debut elpee.

Cope's vocals are strong throughout, and his bass playing isn't bad either; the early tracks are surprisingly fruggable. If this were repackaged as the new offering from Franz Ferdinand or the Arctic Monkeys, a Mercury Prize would be assured.

Buy for the rarities if you must, but the versions of Ha-ha I'm Drowning and Went Crazy are the tracks destined for repeat play.

People Gonna Talk
People Gonna Talk
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £13.81

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haircut From Hell, Music From Heaven, 21 Jun 2008
This review is from: People Gonna Talk (Audio CD)
It's as if Sam Cooke, James Brown and Georgie Fame had come back from the dead - all in their peak 1960s form (apologies for prematurely burying Georgie).

Wonderful, classic, concise songwriting - and beautifully-measured playing. Hunter rarely lets rip on his Les Paul, but when he does he makes it count. And Liam "Toerag" Watson's transparent production will be a real eyebrow-raiser for those who only know him from his work with pickup-shredding Luddites like the White Stripes and Buff Medways.

This album stands proudly on its own merits and both demands and rewards repeated plays. Just avert your eyes from the horrendous cover photos while you listen.

THE Blokes Guide to Pregnancy
THE Blokes Guide to Pregnancy
by Jon Smith
Edition: Paperback

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Descent of Man, 10 Jun 2008
A missed opportunity. After a promising, empathetic start, Smith swiftly descends into a conspiratorial blokeishness that does no-one any favours.

The early pages may be useful in assisting the newly-"pregnant" man to get over the shock that can accompany a positive test, and to understand there is nothing out of the ordinary about having misgivings. But there is little here that will help a man to build a bond of understanding with his partner about the process of pregnancy, birth and parenthood.

Instead there are sniggering (or sneering) references to female body size, natural birth and the use (or non-use) of drugs in labour. Smith seems more interested in decorating a nursery and getting on with "men's work" than engaging with his partner.

A man seeking a book about pregnancy is, one would suspect, probably thinking beyond those sort of cliches, and will find this "guide" increasingly frustrating the more he reads.

Price: £7.92

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stately Progress Can Be Beautiful, 29 May 2008
This review is from: Third (Audio CD)
This is a real progression from an innovative collective. Listeners looking for bands which consistently remake their moments of glory are directed towards the new Coldplay elpee. Those with a more adventurous palate will find what they desire right here.

Most printed reviews of this album made it sound rather intimidating. At the very least it was billed as a difficult listen.

But while there is tension and, occasionally, intentional dissonance, there is also space and variety of texture.

"Silence" sets up the whole album beautifully with a rather funky rumble of drums broken by a forlorn vocal. "The Rip" is a trip from the garden to the autobahn. And playing "Machine Gun" at a dinner party should ensure the regurgitation of the canapes.

Mastering Mountain Bike Skills
Mastering Mountain Bike Skills
by Brian Lopes
Edition: Paperback

16 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dialing the wrong number, 5 May 2008
There are countless thousands of people with mountain bikes looking for a book to help them ride trails more skilfully. Sadly, this is not it.

At the outset the authors declare they want to write a step-by-step guide to mountain biking. They not only fail to do that, they do so in language which excludes newcomers while making asides which are only likely to put off inexperienced riders altogether.

There are a few good tips - drop offs, bunny hops and "manuals"/wheelies are all well and coherently covered. But there's no real sense of progress, and the authors give the impression they would rather be talking to fellow racers than taking time with beginners or recreational riders looking to add a few skills to their repertoire.

It is all written in irritating mountain bike magazine jargon which serves only to irritate and obscure rather than illuminate. Everything is "dialed". Of course. The overall tone is that of a 13-year-old boy pulling wheelies in front of his house.

One can only guess at the authors' motivation for going into details about death, paralysis and broken limbs on the trail or racecourse. Bravado has its place, but not in a training manual. Then again, the main theme of the book does seem to be "whatever you do, don't use the brakes".
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 19, 2012 6:10 PM GMT

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