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Ground Of Its Own
Ground Of Its Own
Price: 8.29

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Guitars missing, 19 July 2012
This review is from: Ground Of Its Own (Audio CD)
So, what's the latest "enfant terrible" of the nu-folk scene got to offer us (after all that pre-publicity) then ? Well, putting aside any considerations of the virtues of song collection or the merits of re-interpreting the "tradition", and just simply listening to it as an album in its own right, it's sort of ... overwhelmingly alright. Actually it verges on the slightly boring at times and struggles to hold my attention at times. I'm afraid that for my punk-rock ears a whole album totally devoid of guitars and without much in the way of drums is a bit too much for me to take all in one go. (Don't be alarmed, punk & folk are two sides of the same coin I reckon). However, and let's concentrate on this, it does contain a couple of absolute gems.

The best is On Yonder Hill where the part of "lead guitar" is taken by "hunting horn". OK it's actually a trumpet but that's what it (deliberately) sounds like, brilliant, brilliant, absolute genius. The other gem is Goodbye My Darling, which (once it gets going) sounds like Outdoor Miner by Wire, yes, it really does. It's worth the price of admission just for these two tracks alone. Actually it would be worth it just for On Yonder Hill alone.

A word on the earlier review by Leonardo27 who has completely missed the point to an almost unbelievable degree. As Sam explained on a recent Mike Harding show, the song The Jew's Garden is there to demonstrate how the English can be shown in a bad-light regarding anti-semitism. So therefore, one could say that the presence of the song here is effectively anti-English rather than anti-semitic. Was Leonardo27 not aware that Sam is Jewish ? It seems to get mentioned in every interview he does and every article about him.

Dream Life
Dream Life
Price: 9.87

0 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Black doh !, 18 Jun 2012
This review is from: Dream Life (Audio CD)
Dull, dull, dull, dull, dull. The first three tracks are fine enough (although two of these were released quite a long time ago now, albeit in a different form), the rest is dull, boring and almost unlistenable. It sounds as if she has agonised over every note until the whole thing has disappeared up its own fundament. Especially awful when compared with the ground-breaking new EP by Lisa Knapp - may I recommed buying that instead.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 22, 2012 3:21 PM BST

Still Steaming - a Guide to Britain's Standard Gauge Steam Railways 2012-2013
Still Steaming - a Guide to Britain's Standard Gauge Steam Railways 2012-2013
by John Robinson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.46

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well done, underdog!, 10 Jun 2012
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As usual, John Robinson's annual three volume series of Still Steaming, Little Puffers and Tiny Trains delivers the goods in providing a fine overview of the heritage railway scene as it currently exists in Britain.

Each volume contains details of 90 railways, clearly split between standard gauge, below standard gauge but in excess of 7.25" gauge, and 7.25" gauge or smaller. This split produces some consequences that may send the railway purists reaching for the smelling-salts, such as the inclusion of the 8.25" gauge Bankside Miniature Railway alongside railways with gauges in excess of 2'6". However to my mind this system gives absolute clarity as to which book a railway should be in, rather than getting bogged down into deciding what constitutes a narrow gauge railaway as against a miniature railway. Such matters appear to cause confusion amongst railway-buffs, and I'm sure would not be a concern to the casual observer who simply wants to enjoy themselves by having a ride on a heritage railway.

This series of books usually seem to attract rather sniffy criticism when compared with Alan C Butcher's supposed "railway bible", the annual Railways Restored. Certainly these books are less "glossy" with black & white photos rather than colour, no stock lists, and slightly less detail about each line. However they have many facets which to my mind place them ahead of the so-called "bible".

Very usefully, each of these books has a map showing where the railways that are featured are located. This feature is absent from Alan C Butcher's latest edition, where it has contained several inaccuracies in recent years when it was present. Also, judging by review comments about Railways Restored, the stock lists therein are of limited use anyway, partly due to the movement of stock between locations, and partly due to some listed stock being in far from useable condition, to put it politely.

Another good thing about these three books is that they appear to take a 'zero-base' approach each year, which Railways Restored appears not to do. Consequently there are several entries in Railways Restored which have only a tenuous connection with heritage railways that have remained included therein year after year. I can understand why some of them were put there originally when there was less going on in the heritage railway scene, but their continual inclusion at the expense of what are now more significant items never ceases to baffle me. In a way, John Robinson's series has the opposite problem in that by limiting the number of railways in each book to 90, some have to be included one year and removed the next year even though they are still extant, and just as important as they were the previous year. Naturally, some then re-appear in the books in later years. Of course were these books to include all heritage railways, the books would no longer meet the 'glove-compartment' criteria which appears to be one of the creditable aims of this series.

These books provide enough information to plan for a day out at a heritage railway, and viewed together give a far more comprehensive overview of the entire heritage railway portfolio than the over-rated (to my mind) work of Alan C Butcher. That said, I would recommend buying Railways Restored alongside these three books, but the fuller overall picture is provided by the Still Steaming, Little Puffers and Tiny Trains series. Annual congratulations, Mr. Robinson!

Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 9.57

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Foxhall & I, 24 April 2012
This review is from: Skulk (Audio CD)
To my mind, what sets Jim Moray apart from other artists working in a similar field is that although he is predominantly dealing in traditional folk music, he has clearly heard and absorbed much from contemporary areas of music, most notably prog rock and punk/new wave, and he's not afraid to show it. Maybe it happens subconsciously sometimes too I think. He's even dabbled with hip-hop and grime in his past work.

Here is his 5th album proper (not counting the self-released I Am Jim Moray), and while it isn't as great as his self-titled second album (because nothing else is, by anybody), or his previous album In Modern History which had a greater variety of styles (and some fantastic drumming), it's still a masterpiece.

It comprises ten tracks without a duff one in sight. Some of the highlights include :

Lord Douglas, which was available in a seemingly unfinished version (then titled Earl Brand) on the collaborative Cecil Sharp Project album last year. Here is the finished version on which Jim really inhabits the song in a way that few other performers manage(June Tabor excepted). I imagine that he must be very proud of the way this one has worked out.

Horkstow Grange, with its multi-tracked vocal that initially sounds as if it was sung using a vocoder but nothing so easy for Jim. This one should really have the folk-purists running back to their Fairport albums in search of some safe shelter.

Hind Etin, a traditional tale of an abducting, flute playing, wood dweller, notable for the "soothing flute" being represented by a grungy noise that is about as far away from a flute as you could possibly get.

The absolute highlight has been left right to the end. This is Seven Long Years on which the prog influence really comes to the fore. This is arranged as a crescendo over its five minutes. My only criticism of this is that it is ten minutes too short !! It also sounds a bit like Are 'Friends' Electric? to my ears but I expect I'll be in a minority of one with that thought.

Also on the album is a version of Fleetwood Mac's Big Love which features Jim on banjo, and some blistering harp playing by Will Pound. It's good stuff, but I can actually take or leave this track. However, if it serves to act as a gateway to his other work for some people, then job done.

Ultimately this is probably Jim's most traditional album (by his standards that is), and it sits pretty much in the middle of his excellent body of work. It's a lot better than his third album Low Culture (although I know that many people regard Low Culture as being his best), which whilst also being a really good album did not feature such a strong set of songs, nor did it show such a powerful voice as he has demonstrated on everything else he's done.

Mention should also be made of the terrific sleeve featuring Jim in a clinch with a member of the cast of EastEnders, Sorrel take a bow.

Four months into the year and nothing has come close to touching this so far. Albums by John Wetton (Icon), Peter Hammill, Nanci Griffith, Killing Joke, Trembling Bells and Hush Arbors/Arbouretum are next, but a long way behind.

Railways Restored 2012
Railways Restored 2012
by Alan C. Butcher
Edition: Paperback
Price: 14.00

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Meat, meat, meat, 14 Mar 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Railways Restored 2012 (Paperback)
For the past three years I have reviewed the latest edition of this book here, and I notice that some of my previous concerns about it have been addressed in the 2012 edition.

The editor, Alan C. Butcher, no longer claims that the book is a 'guide to the "major" heritage railways, railway museums and preservation centres in the British Isles', but now simply says that it is simply a guide to "well over 200" such items. I feel that this description is more accurate, as many significant items below standard gauge continue to be omitted from the book. Consequently, I hope that the railway press and others will now stop referring to this as the "bible" of the railway preservation movement. The use of this term indicates an authoritative work which to my mind also implies completeness. This work is not a complete one, there are hundreds of items below standard gauge which are not included here, the "bible" has not yet been written, and probably never will be. Similarly, I always find the title of the book rather misleading as the book includes items which are nothing to do with "restoration" such as new-build lines running around garden centres.

I have complained previously about the inaccuracy of the location map in this book. Alan C. Butcher has prevented any such complaints this year by removing the map altogether ! (Wasn't it The Damned who said "No crime if there ain't no (sic) law"). Last year the timetable supplement disappeared (and hasn't re-appeared), and this year the location map has vanished too. I find this very disappointing.

On a more positive note, I am pleased to say that the book does now appear to include all standard gauge lines, even the Rushden, Higham and Wellingborough Railway has now been included after years of omission, albeit indicated as a demonstration line only, despite the fact that it does actually give passenger rides. I also note that the Telford Horsehay Steam Trust has re-appeared after inexplicably going missing last year.

As usual the main part of the book is a fine work with useful details on the items featured, clear and well laid out, with the titles better presented than last year (no odd hyphenating), and the vibrant photos are always a joy to look at.

However, poor attention to detail still rears its ugly head in several areas. The problems that there were with the map now seem to have moved to the index. Several items are shown with the wrong page numbers (Crich Tramway Village should be 45 not 35, Isle of Wight Steam Railway should be 78 not 87, Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway should be 62 not 82, National Coal Mining Museum should be 111 not 110). Several names used in the index are incorrect and do not tie up with those used in the main part of the book (examples include Tiverton Museum of Rural Life, Mangapps Farm Railway Museum, Prestongrange Industrial Heritage Museum, Summerlee Museum of Industrial Scottish Life, and there are others). Incidentally, in case anyone wonders why there are 170 England items in the main text, but 171 in the index, it is because North Tyneside Railway and Stephenson Railway Museum are split in the index but combined in the text. This last point isn't a criticism, merely an observation.

The section entitled 'Additional Corporate Members (of the Heritage Railway Association) not listed in the main part of the book' does include some items which appear in the main part of the book (including Shipley Glen Tramway and Steeple Grange Light Railway), although a similar error made in the last edition concerning the Threlkeld Quarry & Mining Museum has not been repeated.

The listing of members of Britain's Great Little Railways is out of date by the non-inclusion of four railways (Bure Valley Railway, Ferry Meadows Railway, Woking Miniature Railway (aka Mizens Railway in the main text), and Woodseaves Miniature Railway). I accept that this could be because of publishing deadlines as these lines are relatively new members of this group.

I was pleased to see that the book was published on time (unlike in some previous years), in fact I received my copy a day earlier than the declared publishing date of 15th March, although I wonder what is the point of the Main Event Diary section showing events taking place prior to this date.

My conclusion is the same as in previous years, this is a potentially excellent book which I would recommend to anyone with an interest in this aspect of railways, whether they are newcomers or old-hands. Alan C. Butcher serves up some prime quality meat in the main text, it's just a shame that the overall dish is yet again let down by indifferent trimmings.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 23, 2012 10:53 PM GMT

Still Steaming - A Guide to Britain's Standard Gauge Steam Railways 2011-2012
Still Steaming - A Guide to Britain's Standard Gauge Steam Railways 2011-2012
by John Robinson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.28

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Are you listening Alan C Butcher ?, 26 May 2011
Taken together, John Robinson's annual three book series of Still Steaming, Little Puffers and Tiny Trains presents a far more rounded guide to heritage railways in Britain than Alan C Butcher's fine but over-rated Railways Restored series does, to which I feel a comparison can be made. It should be pointed out that Railways Restored covers the British Isles, and so includes Southern Ireland, whereas John Robinson's series limits itself to Britain, thus excluding Southern Ireland.

This series makes no claims of covering 'the major heritage railways', unlike Railways Restored which ends up with some frankly bizarre inclusions and exclusions. Again, it is fair to point out that Railways Restored also covers 'railway museums and preservation centres' whereas John Robinson concentrates on actual railways.

Here, a personal choice of 90 railways is featured in each book, split simply between UK standard gauge, gauges in excess of 7.25 inches but less than UK standard gauge, and gauges of 7.25 inches and smaller. This categorisation by gauge may irk the purists, but to my mind gives absolute clarity as to which book a railway can be found in, rather than getting bogged down in technical definitions of exactly what constitites a miniature railway. With this in mind, it is a shame that the 10.25 inch gauge Sutton Hall Railway appears in both Little Puffers (correctly) and Tiny Trains (incorrectly). With space at a premium this is a poor mistake, but a rare one. On the positive side, the accompanying location map in each book manages to show exactly the same number of railways as featured in the text, apart from the Channel Islands item in Still Steaming. This simple matter seems to evade Alan C Butcher and his proof reader year in, year out.

There's certainly less information here than in Railways Restored. For example there are no lists of rolling stock, although I'm not sure how accurate/useful such lists can be anyway, given that items are often moved between locations. Also, these books are less 'flashy', for example with the photos inside being in black & white rather than the colour of Railways Restored. Nonetheless, the information given is quite sufficient for the purpose for which these books are intended. Indeed there are many, many railways not featured, but the books make no claim as to completeness. What they do manage to achieve is to present a good, balanced, flavour of what heritage railways of different gauges are out there.

In a way it would be nice to see the three books combined into one book with three sections, and expanded such that railways do not have to drop out (and sometimes re-appear in later years) due to size constraints. However, I appreciate that these books are specifically intended for the 'glove compartment', and that a larger book would rather destroy that aim.

So, here's to you Mr. Robinson. Are you listening Alan C Butcher ?

Railways Restored 2011
Railways Restored 2011
by Alan C. Butcher
Edition: Paperback
Price: 13.37

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars How hard can it be ?, 18 Mar 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Railways Restored 2011 (Paperback)
First the good news, this book has actually been published on time this year (see my review of the 2010 edition). Now the bad news, there is no timetable supplement included this time around. I have always found this part of the book to be very useful in previous years, and reasonably accurate despite circumstances beyond the editor's control which will obviously affect such information as the year goes on. I appreciate that publishing deadlines may have meant that some timetables were not ready in time, but a scan of the internet at the start of the year suggests that most were indeed available.

Now the usual complaint that a lack of attention to detail, and careless errors, serve to spoil a potentially excellent book. The main complaint again concerns the location map. There are 218 locations shown on the map, with 220 attractions listed in the main body of the book. So have 2 locations simply been omitted ? Oh no, nothing so simple. There are 4 locations listed in the book missing from the map (Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway, Tiverton Museum of Mid Devon Life, Barry Tourist Railway, Tralee & Blennerville Steam Railway), 1 location shown on the map but not in the text (Telford), and 1 location shown on the map twice in two different places (Rudyard). Several of these errors are repeated from 2010. Furthermore, 4 locations (Moseley, National Waterways, Coventry, Paignton & Dartmouth) are shown with these old names whereas the correct new names appear in the text. Why is this part of the book never done correctly ? I mean, just how hard can it be Mr. Editor ?

I suspect that the Telford Horsehay Steam Railway has been omitted from the main part of the book in error as it does still appear in the index. What appears to have happened is that a new item, Threlkeld Quarry & Mining Museum, has been inserted into the book where Telford has previously been, and that it has been 'overwritten' in some way. To further compound the confusion, the list of Additional Corporate Members on page 234 clearly states that Threlkeld does not appear in the main part of the book !

Other errors include old names sometimes being used in the index, even though these have been updated in the main part of the book, and a listing relating to the Furness Railway Trust appearing on page 135 which appears to have nothing to do with what proceeds it.

Also as usual, I wonder just how the items in the book are actually selected for inclusion. The editor's notes say that they are the 'major' items in the heritage railway field, but I find the definition of 'major' to be rather odd. For example, the standard gauge Rushden, Higham & Wellingborough Railway is still excluded from the main text, although its existence is acknowledged on page 233, whereas comparitively minor railways such as the Ashmanhaugh Light Railway are here, along with the usual items that have very tentative connections with railway heritage such as the Gloucester Waterways Museum and the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society. I also find the title of the book 'Railways Restored' to be somewhat misleading as there are many railways included here which have nothing whatsoever to do with restoration, for example the newly built lines running around garden centres.

I still recommend this book as there is a lot good about it. If only there wasn't so much bad about it as well. Maybe next year ....
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 9, 2011 2:23 PM BST

Railways Restored 2010
Railways Restored 2010
by Revised by: Alan Butcher
Edition: Paperback
Price: 12.93

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Still not quite on track, 1 April 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Railways Restored 2010 (Paperback)
Every year in early March the latest edition of Railways Restored is published. Or rather it is supposed to be. Every year the release date gets pushed back so that by the time it does eventually emerge, most of the timetable information for March which is included is completely useless. Why isn't an early April publishing date aimed for, without the redundant March information ?

As to the content of the book, there are improvements evident this year in attention to basic detail, although many of the problems noted in my review of the 2009 version continue to blight the book.

217 railways/museums are featured, leaving the punter probably unaware of the 900 or so similar attractions which have been omitted. To be fair, the editor has included most of the standard gauge railways, but for smaller gauges it seems to be a rather random selection. As usual some rather insignificant items in railway terms are included, and some significant ones such as the standard gauge Rushden, Higham and Wellingborough Railway are excluded. Perhaps a minimum gauge for inclusion should be set to make it clear what should be included here.

Also as usual, the map does not contain all of the locations listed in the book, 217 in book, 215 on map. This is poor Mr. Editor, very poor.

I am pleased to say that the list of BGLR members has been updated after remaining static for several years, and is now only one year out of date !

Strangely enough, the part of the book where I might have expected inaccuracies, namely the lists of rolling stock and the timetables themselves, I have always found to be reasonably accurate in the past, where I have had the opportunity to check them, even though this information is subject to change at short notice, and is clearly outside of the editor's control.

Whilst this publication has much to commend it, I feel that a better overall picture of the sector, albeit in less detail, is provided by the much derided Still Steaming/Little Puffers/Tiny Trains trilogy, or by their sister publications, the four volume Full Steam Ahead series.

As for Railways Restored, it's getting better but there's still a long way to go Mr. Editor.

Railways Restored 2009
Railways Restored 2009
by Alan C. Butcher
Edition: Paperback
Price: 12.81

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Schoolboy hobby, schoolboy errors, 1 April 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Railways Restored 2009 (Paperback)
Of all the publications detailing heritage railways, this annual work is consistently the best. However, I find myself wondering exactly what qualifies to be included here.

The editor's notes state that it is "a guide to the major heritage railways, railway museums and preservation centres in the British Isles", but give no indication of what is meant by major. It includes most (but not all) standard gauge heritage railways, together with a number of smaller gauge lines. However, it would be wrong for readers to get the impression that there are not hundreds of other such lines in the British Isles (including miniature railways, a few of which are included here) for which space does not permit inclusion. Perhaps a simple, but complete, list of these would enhance future editions.

Where space is restricted, and many worthy candidates are excluded, I do wonder why such things as Haig Colliery Mining Museum, National Waterways Museum and Paddle Steamer Preservation Society are deemed to be of major significance, whatever definition is used.

My main problem with the book though, is some lack of attention to detail in basic areas. It is surely not unreasonable to expect a book which details 208 attractions to have 208 locations shown on the map included therein, but no! Five locations have been omitted entirely, and one appears in Scotland that is not in the text at all.

The list of members of Britain's Great Little Railways is woefully out of date. Indeed, this list just seems to be reproduced each year without any attempt at updating. Furthermore, it cross references the Exmoor Steam Railway to the main section of the book, where it does not appear at all, owing to its temporary closure.

There is even a problem with the index of the book in that the main body of the book lists items by their up-to-date names, whereas the index still uses some names from previous years.

Yes, this is the best publication of its kind and I commend it to both heritage railway enthusiasts, and those with just a passing interest in the subject, alike. It is a shame though, that a book connected with an old traditional schoolboy hobby should include these schoolboy errors. Don't rest on your laurels Alan C Butcher, improvements can be made.

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