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Alan the Kaz (London, England)

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The Origins of the British: A Genetic Detective Story
The Origins of the British: A Genetic Detective Story
by Stephen Oppenheimer
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.09

60 of 60 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth struggling through, 27 Feb 2009
When I decided to purchase this book, I was mistakenly under the impression that it was going to be accessible to the layman with a curiosity in the subject matter. However, while it's not exactly a "stuffy textbook", it can get overly technical and difficult to digest. At times I felt like giving up, particularly around the middle which, featured almost nothing but heavy statistics and data. However, I persevered onwards, and I'm very glad that I did.

This book was an extremely fascinating read and one that has completely shattered many of the preconceived notions that I had of the English, the Celts, and "Britishness" as a whole. Yes, sometimes it did feel like you need a Ph.D. in History, Archaeology and Linguistics all in one to be able to follow it, but if you're interested enough in the subject to be willing to plough through all of that, then you'll find this a treasure trove worth of information.


Meetings with Morrissey
Meetings with Morrissey
by Len Brown
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting but slightly dull, 26 Nov 2008
Len Brown, the man who "has interviewed Morrissey more times than any other journalist", has intricately pieced together quotes and facts from all over in create this biography of Morrissey. As such, you don't really get anything here that you can't already find in other places, but you certainly are left with an interesting account of one of the most unique singers in the history of popular music.

Going by Morrissey's mantra that "everything's linked" in regards to himself and the artists he loves, Brown attempts to link Morrissey's words and songs with the idols of his youth and adulthood, particularly with Oscar Wilde. Until reading this book, I had never realised the extent to which these famous and cult faces (all "outsiders", as Brown notes, much like Morrissey himself) bore such relevance to the music of Morrissey and The Smiths. In fact, Brown seems to suggest that everything Morrissey has ever written has been inspired by these people in some way, and he makes some pretty convincing cases in the process. However, a lot of the time it also seems like he's trying too hard to find a link, and sometimes it can become quite boring to read because of this.

Brown definitely isn't "out to get" Morrissey, like so many British music journalists out there, and this biography is quite even-handed over all. But he is, by his own admission, a die-hard Morrissey fan. In fact, judging by some of the scenes he describes in this book of his meetings with Morrissey, it almost seems like the two of them are pretty close friends. The constant praise that he showers Morrissey with throughout the work (even if it's justifiable praise - he knows what aspects of Morrissey deserve praise and he isn't afraid to criticise) prevents it from being completely impartial. But, then, I don't think he ever wanted it to be that way. He's a fan writing about a singer who he loves.

Over all, this is definitely an interesting read. Morrissey's views on music and the world are worth reading and are often very funny, and his love of the idols of his past is almost contagious. However, reading all of these interviews compiled into one nice volume does unintentionally highlight Morrissey's sheer arrogance in certain respects (although, it's certainly arguable that that is part of his very unique appeal). Also, while it may be very a very interesting read over all, it does go on a bit, and it is quite boring at times. I think that you'd have to be a really, really big Morrissey fan to be able to truly appreciate this book. I'm a huge fan, but even I got a bit fed up at times.


Daredevil: Cruel And Unusual
Daredevil: Cruel And Unusual
by Ed Brubaker
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.26

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brubaker's Daredevil still goes strong, 11 Nov 2008
Fan-favourite writers, Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka, reunite to deliver a Daredevil story that focuses primarily on the often-neglected lawyer aspect of the character. This story takes place a month after the cataclysmic events of the previous arc, so the writers spend very little time with a depressed brooding Matt Murdock, instead throwing us straight into another satisfying Daredevil adventure. 'Cruel and Unusual' makes for a good solid follow-up to the excellent 'Hell to Pay' or an enjoyable, slightly different, standalone Daredevil tale.


Lipstick On Your Collar
Lipstick On Your Collar
Price: 8.86

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great budget compilation, 4 Oct 2008
This review is from: Lipstick On Your Collar (Audio CD)
Budget rock 'n' roll compilations are usually always either hit or miss, rarely anything in between. This one, however, is certainly a hit. All fifty songs on this double CD collection are anything between good and excellent; presenting a good range of well-known hits and lesser-known classics. EMI seem to have intentionally left out the really big names that are instantly recognisable with today's public (such as Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly) in favour of acts who were huge at the time and who's legacy lives on within the music industry; as well as a few names who weren't as big but probably deserved to be so. As well as the artists' original recordings, there are also a good amount of covers from the time included too.

These CDs contain a very good cross-section of rock 'n' roll from 1950s America and Great Britain, and makes for a good starting point for those who are just beginning to dip their feet into the early history of rock music (especially because of the informative booklet), as well as seasoned listeners looking for a new addition to the collection. However, it's not a perfect selection of tracks. There are a couple too many novelty songs thrown in that hamper the credibility of this collection, as well as a couple of other slightly odd inclusions, but despite that it's still great.


Miss Pearl
Miss Pearl
Offered by mrtopseller
Price: 4.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rockabilly the way it's meant to be, 2 Oct 2008
This review is from: Miss Pearl (Audio CD)
As soon as Boz Boorer lets out an energetic cry of "Miss Pearl!" in the opening track of this album, you know that you're in for a treat. Every single song on this disc sounds like authentic undiluted 1950s rock 'n' roll goodness. You would be forgiven for assuming that this is a remastered disc of an actual 1950s rockabilly recording. Everything about it is completely spot-on, and Boz Boorer takes the listener through one hell of a ride throughout.

A former member of The Polecats, a rockabilly revival group from the '70s and '80s, Boz Boorer is an incredibly talented and passionate old-school rocker from Middlesex. He is, however, most well-known for being the Johnny Marr of much of Morrissey's solo career since 1991. For the well-received '91 single, 'Pregnant for the Last Time', Boorer joined Morrissey's band during a somewhat troubling time during the singer's career. His authentic rockabilly sound is credited for helping to rejuvenate the career of the controversial music icon, and has since gone on to become a driving force in some of Morrissey's best albums.

Boorer has now taken some time out of his day job with Morrissey to create this fine album, which sounds like he loved every minute of making. With sixteen tracks, and just over forty minutes of running time, each of the songs flow very well and create a good feel of that rush and excitement that good 1950s rock 'n' roll albums usually always have. The album contains many covers of classic songs, as well as original recordings, and collaborations from the likes of Adam Ant and Steve Hooker, and it all goes together to make for a very enjoyable listening experience.


Vagabond 1 (Vagabond Vizbig Edition)
Vagabond 1 (Vagabond Vizbig Edition)
by Takehiko Inoue
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.09

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intense action that doesn't skip a beat, 28 Sep 2008
'Vagabond' is a critically praised comic from Japan that has been receiving strong attention, and a passionate following, all over the world since its Japanese debut in 1998. An adaptation of Eji Yoshikawa's classic novel, 'Musashi', 'Vagabond' is a part-biographical account of the life of the legendary samurai, Musashi Miyamoto, who is perhaps best known for authoring the prolific 'Book of Five Rings'.

This first oversized collection in the great "Vizbig Edition" line collects the first three volumes of the original 'Vagabond' TPBs. This specifically means that you're getting the whole of the first story arc, and the first half of the second story arc, in one attractive collection - and for little more than the cost of a single volume. As with all of the "Vizbig Edition" books, this presents excellent value for money, especially as nothing is lost in terms of quality. The paper its printed on is still very good, and those few pages that were originally in colour are still presented in all of their painted glory. The only real difference between this and the originals is the larger paper size and the few extras thrown in at the back.

This collection tells the story of Musashi Miyamoto's early days; when he was known as Takezo Shinmen, hated and despised by his local villagers, and why he was forced to leave and don a new identity. There is action aplenty from beginning to end, conveyed brilliantly by writer/artist Takehiko Inoue's beautifully distinct art style. Expect plenty of gritty violence that is not for the squeamish, as well as frequent instances of quirky Japanese humour thrown in for good measure.

While the story can feel a little cheesy and melodramatic at times, 'Vagabond' is nothing short of thrilling, with a plot is moved along by some of the best artwork I've ever seen in a comic. Though it's quite a quick read when considering the sheer size of the thing, there's no denying that this is a great bargain. 'Vagabond: Vizbig Edition' vol. 1 presents the first chapters of a story that looks set to go down as a classic, and is very much unmissable for anyone with even a passing interest in the genre.


Angles
Angles
Offered by MasterDVD
Price: 6.81

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Genuinely intelligent and insightfully different British Hip-Hop act, 1 Jun 2008
This review is from: Angles (Audio CD)
London-based duo Dan Le Sac and Scroobius Pip finally delivery their debut album, offering a much needed alternative to British Hip-Hop. Without wishing to undermine Dan Le Sac's excellent skill at providing sound effects and beats, there's no denying that the major draw to this combination is the incredibly talented bearded rapper, Scroobius Pip. Tackling subjects ranging from the state of UK Hip-Hop, to the concept of beauty, to depression and suicide, Scroobius Pip's lyrics are both very deep and often extremely clever.

The highlight of the album is "Letter From God to Man", an anti-war song that beautifully samples Radiohead's "Planet Telex" while brilliantly demonstrating the lyrically angry side of Scroobius Pip. Alternatively, the harrowing and deeply moving "Magician's Assistant" shows Pip's anguish and depression, "Tommy" develops on his humour and wit, while the closing chapter of "Waiting for the Beat to Kick In" showcases the beauty in his lyrics clearer than in any other track. At the same time, radio-friendly tracks such as "The Beat That My Heart Skipped" and the excellent "Thou Shalt Always Kill" show a completely different side to the bearded rapper.


Music For An Accelerated Culture
Music For An Accelerated Culture
Price: 16.23

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars After over a year of waiting, Hadouken! finally deliver their album debut, 17 May 2008
Hadouken! have been receiving enormous hype from the likes of NME and X-FM for a long time now and, after a string of highly praised singles, this album comes bundled with a host of high expectations. One year ago, the Hadouken! sound and flavour was exciting and original, but this far ahead it's become a bit less powerful. It's a shame, because if Hadouken! had released this album back then, instead of the gimmicky USB mix tape, this could have had a far bigger impact. But, despite that, `Music for an Accelerated Culture' is still a decent debut. The singles, while not necessarily as exciting as they once were, are still great. The new songs are hit-and-miss; some of them (such as `Game Over') are great, whereas some of the others are somewhat unmemorable. This album makes for good background noise to accompany an alcohol-fuelled night out more than anything else. Despite its shortcomings though, there is certainly enough here to warrant a purchase if you liked the singles.


Feline Groovy: 24 Purrfect Tracks For Kool Kats
Feline Groovy: 24 Purrfect Tracks For Kool Kats
Price: 11.36

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very unique, and funny, collection of songs about cats, 6 May 2008
Everything about this CD is sheer class. From the funny eye-catching cover and the great title to the well written and informative booklet and, of course, to the songs themselves, this is a fantastic and different compilation that feline fans will love. The music covers all sorts of ground, ranging from the `50s to the `60s, with a nice mix of different genres. This CD has everything from instant classics (such as `What's New, Pussycat?'), lesser-known classics (The Cat Came Back), completely random classics (The Siamese Cat Song), unknown classics (Cleo), and simply hilarious classics (Three Cool Cats). While there are a couple of songs that aren't anything special, the majority of the songs here are instantly memorable and the kinds of songs anybody with broad taste in music will be tapping their toes along to. The songs are all originals, and the recordings are all of a high standard. Throw in a great booklet that gives history to the tracks, as well as providing some great reference photos, and this makes for a great over all package.


Dororo Vol.1
Dororo Vol.1
by Osamu Tezuka
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic 1960s comic book series from the "god of manga", 4 May 2008
This review is from: Dororo Vol.1 (Paperback)
`Dororo' tells the story of Hyakkimaru, a traveller born with no body parts, and Dororo, a pesky child who he meets that follows him on his journeys. While essentially not much different from your typical manga series about travellers, the strengths here lie in its engaging characters and interesting back stories. On the art side, Osamu Tezuka's drawings are beautiful from beginning to end. The art is as imaginative and playful as anything else Tezuka has drawn, but at times is also incredibly strange and eerie. Overall, it's a solid and enjoyable read for fans of the classics.


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