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M. Jones (Ireland)

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Awaydays [DVD]
Awaydays [DVD]
Dvd ~ Stephen Graham
Offered by MusicnMedia
Price: £2.94

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Boys don't cry, 20 Oct. 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Awaydays [DVD] (DVD)
An adaptation of the excellent Kevin Sampson novel.
What I immediately liked about Awaydays is that it alienates the Hoolie-film fans who are better served watching The Football Factory on repeat and fantasising about having mates like Danny Dyer and his ilk. This isn't a story about hooligans, nor is it a story about casuals.
Awaydays is a story of being at life's crossroads; choosing a path to follow and what to do when that path ends up at another crossroads. Intertwined within that scenario is a period snapshot of late 1970s North West England; The Wirral, Merseyside to be precise which is set against a backdrop of gloom and doom; and believe me it was gloom and doom back then, I grew up there as a teen during that era.
Paul Carty, the main character, is from a respectable middle class home, but is stagnating in a boring office job with his Uncle and is grieving from the recent loss of his mother. Desperate to inject some purpose into his life he begins to shed his skin and branch out for acceptance. Noticing a ruck at his local football ground (not named in the film, but it's Prenton Park, Tranmere in the book) he also notices that these young fellas (and one old enough to know better) are dressed up for the part; they're different, they seem almost glamorous to him. They are known locally as The Pack.
Later at a music venue, he meets Elvis, a face he remembers from the brawl at the game. A bond is formed and Carty hangs onto Elvis' coat tails.
In a world long before we had the "virtual friends" chatroom environment devoid of all physical contact that we have somehow been sucked into, football grounds and clubs were the meeting place for most young men. Carty is on the fringe of all this, and that just isn't enough; he is emotional support for his sister and a wedge of grief is beginning to separate him from his father. He sees The Pack as a way out of coming to terms with his loss, and he sees Elvis as a way in to a new life where he is less vulnerable.
Where the film excels here is not just in the recreation of the music and fashions, but that it recreates the mood of the era too; the disillusionment with the environment, disillusionment which would ultimately peak a couple of years later with the backlash from the riots in Liverpool. The whole feeling was that there really is something better out there. The North West, was on the cusp of being ravaged by the disease of long term unemployment and the increasing use of hard drugs and not just in the inner city. The only gap in the plot I found, and this is absent in the book as well, was the impact that the decline in the local ship building yard was having on the Birkenhead area - but it's only a small criticism. Similarly, no mention of their "scally" neighbours across the Mersey looking down with contempt at them keeping pace with the latest trends.
As Carty begins to yearn acceptance with The Pack, by dressing and acting the part, he sees his increasing friendship with Elvis (initially based on music and culture) as his ticket in. But Elvis only wants the friendship to be on his terms, and being in The Pack isn't part of the deal. Elvis tells it like it is, The Pack isn't glamorous, these lads are total nutcases and Carty is "too nice" to fall in with them. Carty fails to see this and decides that if it is so bad why is Elvis, his new mentor, part of them?
Carty has choices, he has a future; he follows a path to which the story unfolds, though it is clear that it is a very different path to the one which Elvis travels. And ultimately he fails to notice just why Elvis needs him to be outside of The Pack. Eventually Elvis concedes, but knows full well that his friend will have to learn the hard way.
The viewer should appreciate the period that this story is set, as some of the choices may seem alien to today's younger generation; these are not middle-class choices like "should I buy an i-Phone or a Blackberry"; "will I meet more friends on Facebook or Bebo"; "PS3 or Wii?". These are dark choices that the suburban dwelling Carty has to make; like whether to prove himself to his peers by slashing a rival supporter, prove his friendship by following Elvis to a darker side, and is this the life he really wants to create for himself. It is stark, bleak even, but it is believable, and its.....well, it's life as it was and one that maybe we are more accepting of these days.
When Carty does finally make the choice, you can see that it is probably too late by then.
Many reviewers will judge the film purely on the minutiae of the fight scenes, which I think should be viewed in the same vein as watching Carty going for a drink or going to work. It is just another activity that he does.
The director could have got away with implying that the fights took place, such is the irrelevance to the main plot. When Carty does feel that violence is justified, like the "rugger buggers" scene, he knows he can't do it without The Pack, and more importantly he can't do it without Elvis which frustrates him even more. The only other film which comes close for character development is Alan Clarke's excellent "The Firm" with Gary Oldman; which again relied more on plot than the visuals.

Overall, it's a good, though less specific, adaptation of the book; the characters are well portrayed and believable (I remember a good few "Babyface" types myself) and the era is very well recreated. Sure it's a bit of a nostalgia trip for men of a certain age, and if you enjoyed the music from that era then you'll get a buzz from that as well. The fashion speaks for itself and I couldn't help smiling about an incident as a kid when I turned up at a local youth club wearing a new pair of Adidas Kick only to get laughed out of the place by my Samba-decked mates. You couldn't whip out a superior mobile phone in those days to save face!

Definitely recommended.

Love 2
Love 2
Price: £8.39

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Air Creative Once Again, 20 Oct. 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Love 2 (Audio CD)
The last Air album which really did it for me was the much maligned and underrated "10 000Hz Legend"; since then Air have played it safe and became rather mainstream. "Love 2" is the first offering from their new studio and they have once more come up with something that can sit alongside their best work.
There is something for every Air fan on this, plenty of synth noodling, gorgeous melodies, radio friendly tracks, all done with their inimatable (OK much imitated) Gallic flair. No weak tracks, not sure why someone referred to "Night Hunter" as a weak track - it is classic old skool Air.
Whereas I was absolutely gobsmacked with horror at Zero 7's latest offering, I am delighted that Air have produced such a listenable and enjoyable experience. Moon Safari is what it is and I'm delighted they never went back to recreate it.

Live Magic
Live Magic
Offered by westworld-
Price: £20.00

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful...., 23 Sept. 2007
This review is from: Live Magic (Audio CD)
Kind of rushed out after that great Magic Tour of 1986; didn't like it in the good old vinyl days and now we have a better selection out there save your money and by the full concert on the Live at Wembley CD. A much more satisfactory souvenior of the occasion.

The Inner Mounting Flame
The Inner Mounting Flame
Price: £10.50

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible, 22 Sept. 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've always enjoyed listening to Jazz, and probably became interested in John McLaughlin through Miles Davis' work. I bought "Birds of Fire" and was immediately hooked, amazed by both the mystic slant of this type of jazz fusion and the amazing tight production.
I recently aquired Inner Mounting Flame and was just blown away by this album; it is far more adventurous than Birds of Fire and in many ways more enjoyable for it. Its a showcase for the talents of all four members and all the tracks are just incredible to listen to; check out the opening to the final track Awakening and you will see what I mean.
A worthy addition to any collection, whatever your tastes.

Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £33.19

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Todd Climbing the Horizon, 22 Sept. 2007
This review is from: Ra (Audio CD)
Picture Todd and his alterego supergroup Utopia (allegedly where no-one is the leader) dressed in pseusdo egyptian attire surrounded by pyramids and sphinxes and you have some idea of the concept of this amazing album. From the dramatic eerie synth lead-in to the 1st track "Overture/Communion with the Sun", to the last climactic chords of "Singring and the Glass Guitar" this is no ordinary prog rock album.
I first heard it 30 years ago and it still rates as one of my favourite albums. The production (like all Rundgren stuff) is spot on and the trademark guitar/synth solo tradeoffs are still in evidence almost as a carry over from his two debut Utopia albums.
What makes this album so special though are the wonderful melodies evident in each track, it doesn't quite flow as all good concept albums should, "Hiroshima" is a standout track but doesn't sit well next to "Glass Guitar" the magnus opus of the album.
Basically, your rock collection is not complete without this.

An Electric Storm
An Electric Storm
Offered by \/\/ WORLD WIDE MEDIA MARKET /\/\
Price: £20.78

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Electronica Milestone, 24 May 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: An Electric Storm (Audio CD)
Now I have to admit, as a young fella I always found electronic music a bit creepy and lads I knew who were listening to it at the time were always a bit odd; especially the ones who went to Woolies to buy BBC Sound Effects LPs (vinyl I mean) to listen to sounds such as "Man Having Head Chopped Off Into Basket".

From the same stable we had the BBC Radiophonic Workshop; famous mainly for making Daleks sound really angry, and providing endless noises for Dr Who's sonic screwdriver.

In an unexpected twist, BBCRW engineer Delia Derbyshire teamed up with American musician/electro-pioneer David Vorhaus and produced this one-off "psycho"delic noise fest under the White Noise banner.

In the 70s, the kind of buyers this attracted tended to live in black painted bedrooms, and I remember feeling quite unnerved during a few of the tracks on this album; especially "The Visitation" and of course everyone's favourite "listen in the dark" track "Black Mass: An Electric Storm in Hell" (the title kinda tells it all really). As I say, it was all very creepy in the way I found albums by Tangerine Dream and even Joe Meek creepy.

Three decades on and I bought this on CD after doing a double take on Amazon; and OK it's a little dated now, but it certainly brought back a few old memories and actually stands up as a remarkable benchmark for its time. Anyone who is interested in electronic music will find it intriguing, as I would imagine with all the tape splicing involved during its production that it took an age to record. As my resistance to electronic music softened largely helped by listening to Brian Eno during the 80s, I have trawled back through the decades to where it all started and now listen to gems such as this with new ears.

If you're looking for something different that isn't bankrolled by the major labels, definitely give it a whirl.

Send Away The Tigers
Send Away The Tigers
Offered by MasterDVD
Price: £3.83

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Send Away The Critics, 22 May 2007
This review is from: Send Away The Tigers (Audio CD)
This success of this release is important to the Manics; after pandering to the masses (not the ones against the classes, mind you) with Everything Must Go and This is My Truth... they began to look inwards once more with Know Your Enemy and Lifeblood, neither had huge commercial success but worthy of a listen.

Send Away The Tigers however is not so much a return to form (I hate that phrase, its meaningless) but more a statement of giving the people what they want. Blistering short songs, huge on melody, and big on content which should please both pre-Richey and post-Richey Manics fans.

Ten really good tracks, all with a familiar feel - this is the Manics in their comfort zone, which is not always a good thing for them. But one thing is for sure, I can't stop playing it.

Mention it in the same vein as Everything Must Go and This is my Truth if you must, but don't mention The Holy Bible - that was pure Richey Edwards and we won't be getting a sequel.

The Firm [DVD]
The Firm [DVD]
Dvd ~ Philip Davis
Offered by Qoolist
Price: £3.98

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best of the genre, 4 Jan. 2007
This review is from: The Firm [DVD] (DVD)
Compelling story of Yuppie hoolie Bex (a moustached Gary Oldman) and his battle with rival top boy Yeti (a pony-tailed Phil Davis) to lead England's firm at their next European awayday.

Directed by the much missed Alan Clarke, a specialist in gritty, hard hitting, realistic drama; this film (supported by the BBC) made headlines at the time for exposing the myth that all football hooligans postcarded their violent intentions by dressing like boot boys, scarves on wrists and all. The irony of the sight of lads fighting in the latest designer gear was completely lost on the majority of middle England at the time.

The main character Bex is a smart, intelligent, respectable married man in a good job who's pastime is leading a crew known as the ICC (sic ICF?) at the weekends; a true product of Thatcher's Britain.

His wife (Oldman's real wife back then, Lesley Manville) is semi-oblivious to his exploits, although he is ably egged on by his admiring working-class dad.

Various well-known faces past and present crop up throughout the film, and there's a bit of a soap theme as Corrie's Jim McDonald and EastEnders' Phil Mitchell join in for the rucks and a bit of cockney banter.

The characters are far more believable than those in the current crop of hoolie films, yes even more than "The Football Factory" so beloved of the Loaded/FHM brigade out there. The scene where Bex lays into one of his own new boys, when he doubts he has the stomach to stand and fight when it matters, is very difficult to watch; control through the threat of fear is the priority in the mind of the hardened thug.

People who complain the film isn't violent enough are completely missing the point, it doesn't need to be graphic, the film is portraying why this guy Bex chooses to be who he is. The most important thing in his life is being a top boy and the ability to walk tall on his own patch. He wants people to fear him, that's his escapism. Even his own wife fails to grasp the nettle as to why he does it; "I need the buzz" he explains to her, "Then buy a bloody beehive then", she retorts angrily.

Oldman excels in the lead role, and there are some excellent scenes of almost uncontrollable rage; whether it is having a private moment testing out his baton on an unsuspecting pillow, a surprise visit to a rivals boozer, or testing the bottle of a new boy.

Compelling; remember this character sells houses for a living, would you invite him around for a valuation on your gaff?

I like "The Football Factory" it has humour and they're all cheeky cockney Jack the Lads and all that, but "The Firm" for me is the better film, it tells it like it is, and there is nothing humorous about this dark tale. One scene nagged me afterwards though, did I really see Bex actually pay for his rail tickets? Any serious jibber would have had a good laugh at that one.

When Sex Leers Its Inquisitive Head
When Sex Leers Its Inquisitive Head
Price: £12.75

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grotesque, Unbelievable, Bizarre, Unprecedented, 24 May 2006
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this while I was in one of my "let's see what weirdo stuff I can find this week on Amazon" humours, and to be honest I didn't even know this existed.

The best way to describe this CD is that it could be the first "seduction concept album" ever recorded.

Imagine the scenario, have the champagne on ice:

It all starts off well enough, preparing the batchelor pad for action with candles and music, you invite your lady in, complement her on her fragrance, pop the bubbly, then relax up close on the bright orange sofa. All very civilised until track 3 starts and she spits her champers out with enough force to knock you clean off your Cuban heels, before high-tailing it home in a taxi before you even have chance to straighten your pink silk kipper tie.

To quote Woody Allen; "How did I mis-read those signs?"

Yep, it's that kind of impact. Having said that, at least you have the rest of the evening free to digest the rest of this extraordinary album.

Peter Wyngarde was a common sight in the 60s on TV (appearing in The Saint, The Avengers, and The Prisoner to name a few); but is much more popular for his superb pre-Austin Powers alter-ego Jason King from the 70s TV show of the same name, but he was much better as this incarnation in Department S. Over-the-top acting (I think it's called "camp" now) and an inability to fight (check out those karate chops, they wouldn't part your hair) coupled with a revolving door on his bedroom made him a hero to all pre-pubescent boys and lusted after by teenage girls. Now he would be parodied, but then he was the ultimate grrrrrr man. Up there with Curtis and Moore.

WSLIIH encapsulates this period, but with overtones of loneliness that only a devoted playboy poet/crime writer is going to experience as he jets off to solve another million pound jewel heist.

If you're from this era, you will know what I mean.

The Journey
The Journey
Offered by steelbreezeuk
Price: £25.93

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Honest Rock 'n' Roll, 4 April 2006
This review is from: The Journey (Audio CD)
One of the great mysteries of the last year is how "The Journey" isn't in everyone's collection. Songs like these are written only from years of experience, perseverance, and hindsight.
Ian Prowse, one of music's most honest heart-on-yer-sleeve individuals writes good old honest rock n roll tunes that belies his apparent lack of fame. Only those in the know, as they say, know.
Elvis Costello, Pete Wylie, Ian McNabb, they all know. John Peel, God Bless Him, he knew.
Formed from the roots of another Prowse creation, Pelé, Amsterdam take their no-nonsense stage act into the studio and produce a collection of highly listenable and very emotional songs all with a message to uplift you on those dark moments that only middle-age can bring you. Just put on "Nostalgia" then be snapped out of it and brought back down to earth.
Great songs, "Joe's Kiss", "Does this Train Stop on Merseyside", "You're a Phoney", actually they're all good. And if anyone doubts Ian Prowse's credentials, this is a guy who never sold out Mr Blair.
Good luck to them.

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