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

5.0 out of 5 stars A Staggering Work of Heartbreaking Genius, 13 July 2015
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This review is from: Still (Deluxe Edition) (Audio CD)
It's hard to write a review when you're lost for words.
I admit to being a something of a RT enthusiast, but really, I mean, REALLY, this is just wonderful, miraculous, up-there-with-the-best, career highlight stuff.
The real test of Still is the quality of the songs on the bonus (an accurate description for once) disc, 'Variations'. Any one of those songs would sit perfectly well on the main disc; for my money 'Fork in the Road' is possibly the best track of the 17 gems on display (vying with No Peace No End - rubbing shoulders with 'Tear Stained Letter' in future encores?).
There is sublime guitar work on every track - wonderful, complex acoustic work and coruscating, sinuous, snarling electric breaks, but you sort of expect that. There's acerbic, insightful, intriguing lyrics, but there would be wouldn't there? There's a crystal clear production that brings every nuance and detail of musicality bursting out of the record, but that's not a first. There's song writing of the highest order, blending styles skilfully and seamlessly, with tunes that will be bouncing around inside your head after each listen, but we've all heard that before, haven't we?
So, what's new? Well, nothing really, it's just the sheer, consistent, relentless joy of it all, a master craftsman at the peak of his powers (and don't keep mentioning RT's age, it really shouldn't be an issue), working with a sympathetic, respectful but brilliantly subtle producer, all of this making for a sum-of-the-parts genuine masterpiece.
We can't keep expecting this, but RT keeps delivering, 'Still' and 'Electric' both deserve to be in RT's top 5 albums of his entire career, a career that's formed almost exclusively of highlights. The one thing that's missing from this story of late-career peaks is the seemingly unreachable goal of bringing RT's music to the masses. Here's a thought for the organisers of the Mercury Music Prize; instead of token Jazz artists or doomed to obscurity hip-hop acts or reheated Indie bands, why not use your Award to present RT to a mass audience off the back of a work that won't be bettered this year? I guess that's one from my own Dream Attic.
Anyway, for all those lucky enough to already know all about RT, you've probably decided to buy this anyway, but if you haven't, JDI. There are songs like 'She Never Could Resist a Winding Road', that stand up alongside 'Black Vincent' and 'Beeswing'; rolling acoustic beauties like 'Beatnik Walking'; bitter bluesy tracks like 'Patty Don't Put me Down'; twisted ballads like 'Broken Doll'; degenerate 21st Century folk like 'All Buttoned Up'; deceptively sweet madrigals like 'Josephine'; rollicking dispositions built around glittering guitar lines skewering (I think) the Banking fraternity like 'Long John Silver'; spiky, twisted traditional folk like 'Pony in the Stable'; noir-ish, bitter-sweet songs of bad love like 'Where's Your Heart?'; punky up-tempo floor-fillers(!) with a political edge and guitar lines to make you gasp like 'No Peace No End'; pleading, brooding pieces like 'Dungeons for Eyes'. All topped off with 7 1/2 minutes of fun and frivolity in the tour-de-force that is 'Guitar Heroes'.
I can't wait for the live shows, and I guarantee that no-one who's bought this wonderful work will be thinking 'hurry through the new stuff and get to the old favourites'.
I used a big word in the title to this review, but Genius is not hyperbolic, it's modestly descriptive; treasure this album and play it to everyone you know.


Mystery Glue
Mystery Glue
Price: £9.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OK, I give in - it's a 5, 12 Jun. 2015
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This review is from: Mystery Glue (Audio CD)
I think I can now, at last, pen a balanced review; always difficult with anything involving GP, what with my mild case of hero-worship.
In summary, I found scoring difficult and after repeated listens my heart said 5 stars, but my head went for 4 (where's that 'half star' when you need it?). So, I listened to the album again when writing this review and I enjoyed it so much I gave myself a kick in the head and went with the heart.
This, then, is a very good album, I have to admit though that I had difficulty getting past one or two minor issues which nearly led to a 4 star conclusion as explained below
.
First the good points.
One; in terms of song writing, and especially GP's lyrical mastery, this is top drawer, on-the-money, gold plated. There's some autobiographical musing on the past, laced with some edgy political points and a repeating theme about not playing by the rules and choosing your own path (Citizen Parker at 64!). All of this is leavened with crafty, artful playfulness wrapped up in some fine RnB/soul/reggae grooves and some quirky stuff that's hard to categorise.
Two; the band. On 'Three Chords' it felt a little like the Rumour had wandered into the studio, been handed some GP solo material and taken up the role of a very high quality pick up band. This time it sounds to me like at least some of the songs were written with the Rumour in mind, or maybe with their input, which raises the whole endeavour to another level. On occasions they hit a groove that really is reminiscent of the first 4 albums, i.e. truly magnificent. Bob Andrews in particular is an ever-present joy on every track, but the whole band reminds us just what we missed for all those years, funky, subtle, soulful and as tight as anything ever put into proverbial form.
Three; GP himself. Vocally a little less gravel than in days of yore, but as he doesn't seem to aspire to 'rock out' so much it works fine in more of a storytelling mode. What really shines through though is his innate warmth, wit and intelligence. How often can you say that about a modern artist?

Now for the not so good.
Some of the musical 'embellishments' just don't work for me. There are two instances of the kazoo (or perhaps just the humble paper and comb?) being used, I presume, in ironic counterpoint to the track. I'm a big fan of irony, but not when it gets in the way of the song. To me it just grates and if I could 'aural photoshop' those bits out I would. On top of this there are a couple of guitar fills which sound like samples from 1970s childrens' TV themes; the 'slidey' bit in Going There and the 'wah-wah' bit in Swing State being the prime examples. It's all consistent, I suppose, with the 'playful' edge to the album but it still falls on the wrong side of twee for me. I guess I must also confess to a slight disappointment that there isn't a track with a bit more of a hard, rocking edge. Had there been I could have overcome all my minor annoyances at the twee bits and avoided the heart/head battle. Perhaps next time GP could replace the kazoo with the Rumour Horns and give it a real blast?

So, a quick summary of the tracks;
Transit of Venus; Dylanesque opener about an aloof, unattainable woman, packed with celestial metaphors. Sweet song with subtle, sympathetic backing from the Rumour.
Going There; Light, bouncy, positive number with optimistic messages about moving on, and making it through. Just cut out the slidey guitar for me (and possibly the washboard and the bell from the No. 39 bus too).
Wall of Grace; Personal favourite track. Superb, upbeat, soulful stuff with the Rumour fully on board and seemingly having a ball. I genuinely believe that this could have stood its ground on any of the first 4 albums. Lyrically it seems to be about a slightly batty but beloved woman and her walls of photographs (including some of GP) documenting her life.
Swing State; Sneaky, edgy number that chugs along nicely (except for the aforementioned 'Grange Hill' guitar line) on top of a classic Andrews organ riff. GP seems to be expressing frustration with the confrontational 'left/right' politics of greed and Chairman Parker offers us the chance to join his party; I'll vote for that!
Slow News Day; A playful and humorous but deceptive little country stroll of a number which seems, lyrically, to touch on ennui, enduring love and intimations of mortality. Phew!
Railroad Spikes; A little cracker, a bit of RnB shuffle and a spot of rockabilly underwritten by rolling piano lines and twanging guitars. A blue collar lament for the passing of the Railway Age under the assault of those new fangled Crazy Horses.
Flying Into London; Another top notch track of real depth and, again, good enough to pass muster with the back catalogue (a counterpoint to 'Discovering Japan' perhaps?). Quite dark, bittersweet lyrics seemingly of regret. I can only imagine it's rooted in events around GP's triumphant return to the UK, but it seems to talk to some sense of personal failings and a troubled relationship left behind.
Pub Crawl; A bit of a nostalgia-fest wrapped in a jaunty, funky little soul number. It's been described by some as lightweight but I like it, especially the subtle referencing of the Pub-Rock scene (Silver Pistol, a fine Brinsley Schwartz album, being thrown over a wall and now recovered; even an 'I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass' reference in a Bob Andrews piano line). Seems like GP has revisited his roots and discovered he quite likes what he's found, although he still prefers being out there on the road, breaking the rules (again), to turning into a bar room-bore with his reminiscences. BTW - Kazoo warning!
I've Done Bad Things; Clever little song about not being a slave to the system and managing your regrets ending in a plea for decriminalisation. Real good, jaunty fun. I don't think GP's Bad Things are too bad, really. Unless...
Fast Crowd; Sinister, entertaining little cuckoo in the nest on this album. Highly unlikely to be autobiographical, I hope, with it's references to uber-violence, torture, electrocution and sacrifice. Unless these are the real Bad Things from the previous track? Anyway a sinuous, reggae-infused, track with a story line straight from Tarantino.
Long Shot; Breezy little tune, lyrically acerbic, seemingly about a somewhat untrustworthy, 'empty hearted' individual, being likened to a dodgy politician?
My Life in Movieland; GP on voice and kazoo (eek) with Bob backing him on honky-tonk piano. Fun and genuinely funny take on the realities of life for a failed movie star, almost certainly sparked off by the band's appearance in 'This is 40'.

Obviously Mystery Glue is unlikely to attract a host of new fans but it will generally delight the Faithful and, as other reviewers have said, it's still head and shoulders above most other recent releases (possible exceptions Future Islands, War on Drugs, Royal Blood). Ultimately a worthy addition to the catalogue.
If anyone gets the chance to hide GP's kazoo by the way....


Sony DSCWX350 Compact Digital Camera with Wi-Fi and NFC - Black (18.2MP, 20x Optical Zoom)
Sony DSCWX350 Compact Digital Camera with Wi-Fi and NFC - Black (18.2MP, 20x Optical Zoom)
Price: £139.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good compact camera, 26 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Very good little camera. Not for serious photography but for an ultra-portable 'point and shoot' with a few whistles and bells it's fine.


Eddy Finn Ukulele Stand - Folding Metal Stand with Foam Protection - Fits All Ukulele Sizes
Eddy Finn Ukulele Stand - Folding Metal Stand with Foam Protection - Fits All Ukulele Sizes

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 16 Dec. 2014
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Great little piece of kit. Functional and chep. Good padding - a bit like this review to get to a word count of twenty!


Ashbury Cases & Bags Standard Concert Ukulele Bag
Ashbury Cases & Bags Standard Concert Ukulele Bag
Offered by Hobgoblin Music
Price: £8.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb quality and great value for money, 27 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Wow, what great value. Well made, well padded, good size (ample for a concert uke), quick delivery, what else is there left to say? Faultless.


Peavey Composer Ukulele
Peavey Composer Ukulele

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great choice for an 'improver' uke, 27 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
OK, I picked this up on sale at £30, so that has to be slightly factored in to this enthusiastic review, but anyway.....
I started playing uke during convalescence from an achilles operation. Having played bad guitar for a long time (never seem to have the time for lessons or serious practice) I wanted something to act as a bit of a challenge while I was house-bound and to have an instrument I was able to take on holidays as a bit of fun (and to annoy my companions with). I bought a Kala Makala Dolphin soprano uke and have had great fun learning to play on it. It's really pretty good and great to learn on, but it does sound the tiniest bit 'tinny'. I started thinking whether I could justify a little 'upgrade' to a better uke, but the prices for decent Concert ukes were enough to dissuade me.
I was idly leafing through the latest Amazon 'offers' recently when I came across the Peavey. It looked good, had decent reviews, was a 'concert' model, was by a 'name' manufacturer (although that's no sort of guarantee) and was only 30 smackers. No brainer. Quck delivery, excellent packaging and what a little beauty!
It looks fantastic with a great finish, unusual design with teardrop soundhole and side 'vent' and much more of a 'guitar' look and feel than most soprano ukes. The wood is a little thin, but that helps keep it light and balanced and certainly doesn't seem to adversely affect sound quality. The tuning machines are absolutely top quality and very precise, the fretboard is smooth and the action excellent, straight out of the box - no buzzing - and playing barre chords is a joy compared to the Dolphin. As a plus it's equipped with great Aquila strings which stayed in tune from the off. The extra length and range of the fretboard certainly gives room for more experimentation, increased use of barre chords and soloing - blues uke lessons here I come.
The sound is a major step up from the Dolphin, more resonant, clearer, cleaner and decent volume and sustain; much more rewarding and 'professional' sounding. This improved sound quality is encouraging me to try to smarten up my technique to get the most out of it (good intentions anyway). As other reviewers have commented, you will need to buy a 'gig bag' but I found an excellent Ashbury one on Amazon for less than £9!
So, my conclusions; at £30 you would be mad not to try it as a step up for an intermediate player of a soprano uke. At £50 it's slightly less of a no brainer, obviously, but looking at prices of equivalent concert ukes I think it still represents good VFM. Warmly recommended.


Tiger Orchestral Sheet Music Stand with Height and Angle Adjustment
Tiger Orchestral Sheet Music Stand with Height and Angle Adjustment
Price: £19.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended, 8 Sept. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
What an excellent product. There are a number of variants on the theme of this music stand on Amazon and I suggest reading the reviews carefully. It's clear some are very cheap copies of more expensive stands that are visually convincing but flimsy of construction. This one is different. Whilst still 'inexpensive' the quality is very, very good and it's as sturdy as can be. I have a 'White Pages' guitar tab book that weighs approximately the same as a small family car. It brought about the collapse and demise of my old chrome folding music stand and nearly took out the dog with it. This stand didn't even flinch when confronted with the same tome and every point of adjustment (the 'weak spots' of these items) is solidly built and easy to tighten/untighten. If it could only improve my guitar playing at the same time it would be 6 stars. Highly recommended.


Citizen Eco-Drive Men's Watch with White Dial Chronograph Display and Black Leather Strap CA0361-04A
Citizen Eco-Drive Men's Watch with White Dial Chronograph Display and Black Leather Strap CA0361-04A

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Experience says; it's a great watch, 6 Sept. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've had this watch for well over 2 years now - so it's probably time for a review! Yes, I bought it at a Black Friday 'knock-down' price and for £90 it's a stone-cold bargain. It probably represents VFM at anything less than £150. So, after 2 years, what's the conclusion? It's a genuinely attractive timepiece, and has garnered wholly positive views from others. It actually looks like a £250 watch even if in absolute terms it probably doesn't stack up at that price point. It keeps excellent time and eco-drive works perfectly. The stop-watch function is neat and simple. The strap is fine - it may feeel a little flimsy but has stood up to almost daily wear over 30 months and still looks good - because it's actually good quality fine leather, rather than cheap thin leather. Yes I'd prefer a perpetual calendar, but that's hardly a big deal. It's rugged too - lots of knocks and bashes and it's completely unmarked. I have had a Citizen Aqualand divers' watch for over 10 years and it too is excellent if a little less attractive, so I would say that in my experience Citizen produce very good, practical watches at sensible prices and, importantly, they don't prevent sellers from discounting them like some other brands do, so bargains can be had. In conclusion, my absolute favourite watch for daily wear and one of the best bargains I've ever found on Amazon.


Simple Audio Go Premium Compact Portable Rechargeable Bluetooth Speaker
Simple Audio Go Premium Compact Portable Rechargeable Bluetooth Speaker

5.0 out of 5 stars A Bargain, 18 Aug. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Perfect connections easily made with all my devices, and with very good range; no evidence yet of any issues with drop-outs. Sound quality quite remarkable for price/size. This little unit stands comparison with Bose products costing £150 plus which I had the opportunity to listen to extensively recently. Very solid bass, tight upper registers and excellent, sibilence free vocals; it goes really loud without distortion. A true bargain. Highly recommended.


Going Back Home
Going Back Home
Price: £6.99

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent R&B, 13 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: Going Back Home (MP3 Download)
A confession - I've never been a big fan of Daltrey's voice. I admire him rather than love him and have always found his style a tad one dimensional compared to some of the other iconic rock vocalists (the ultimate perhaps being Mr Percy Plant). In this setting, though, it really works. Not quite the glorious menace of Mr Brilleaux, but still a gruff, raw R&B joy, Daltrey responding brilliantly to the backing of the indefatigable, inexhaustible, irresistible Wilko. The only thing that would top this is a Volume 2, recorded in about a year's time, with Wilco still going strong. And then a Volume 3, 4, 5........


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