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J. Ody (Swindon, UK)

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Merry Christmas, Alex Cross: (Alex Cross 19)
Merry Christmas, Alex Cross: (Alex Cross 19)
by James Patterson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

3.0 out of 5 stars How about quality rather than quantity?, 8 July 2014
There is no doubt that James Patterson always gives us a quick read and a real page turner, however it is a shame that his only solo effort now is the Alex Cross series, and this I’m afraid has slowly gone downhill. There can only be so much mileage that a writer can give to a super-human detective whose family hate the job that he does, before it becomes tiresome. If Alex Cross was a real person then he would now be the Head of something in a central location sending out some other young buck to get caught up in a series of near-death experiences, the fact that this isn’t the case gives a mild suggestion that Alex Cross is slightly egotistical, believing on some level that only he can ‘catch the bad-guy’. I can’t actually believe that after all that he has done, that he wouldn’t be entitled to early retirement.

So with slightly fewer-than-normal pages, we have two short stories for the price of one, and whilst they are entertaining, they could well have been conceived in a few minutes over a late night port, whilst JP counted out his millions. There is only so much artistic license that one can accept. Personally I think that the Alex Cross series has run its course. I won’t get into the debate of how much input Mr Patterson has in each book, but I also feel that the Woman’s Murder Club is showing signs of wrinkles and creaking-bones; but that said the Michael Bennett and Private books are very good, as are the majority of the stand-alone thrillers. This is not a revelation but Mr Patterson, how about quality instead of quantity?

Mardi Gras - Spring Break [DVD]
Mardi Gras - Spring Break [DVD]

3.0 out of 5 stars Solid but no brainer Groos-Out Movie, 21 Nov 2012
This review is from: Mardi Gras - Spring Break [DVD]
Hanging tightly on the coat-tails, that is barely still connected to the `Gross Out Comedy' bandwagon that rode high in the early nineties, Mardi Gras is a solid movie with a few good laughs. Heavily marketed with the appearance of Carmen Electra, and a multitude of bare breasts that may well (albeit tongue-firmly-in-cheek) be argued that is for true authenticity of a Mardi Gras Spring Break in New Orleans, this is Gross-Out comedy by numbers: Handsome guy, loud & crude guy and Nave virgin guy bumbling through an adventure of relationship and sexual awakenings that is wrapped in a thin storyline (at best).

The reason for the lads going to New Orleans seems a bit flimsy; the girlfriend's appearance seems at first a huge overreaction, and then a complete character change that just didn't add up. Josh Gad is either a comedic genius as the over-the-top chubby-crude pal called Bump, or he is blatantly ripping off Jonah Hill and Jack Black, pulling off facial expressions of the former with a voice like the latter.

The bottom line here is that this is an entertaining movie but you have to take it at what it is, and that is a light form of entertainment of guys doing silly things and women flashing breasts for no reason. It's not one of the worst teen movies, but it's not anywhere near American Pie, Road Trip, or even the more recent Sex Drive. Watch it, but just don't expect to have to think too much...

Ya Know
Ya Know
Price: 9.46

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hey Ho! Let's go! Classic Ramones!, 7 Jun 2012
This review is from: Ya Know (Audio CD)
There is no doubting that The Ramones remain an important part of Punk Rock history as well as being a visual and musical icon. Taking influences from 50's and 60's Rock, mixing up the hard riffs of The Kinks and The Stones with the sing-a-long harmonies from The Beach Boys, The Ramones had the ability of breaking music down into it's simplistic form. There is no messing around with layers upon layers of guitars, keyboards and orchestral arrangements, no, what we got was short sharp shots of Punk. Some criticized the band suggesting that there was a limit to the amount of two minute songs that featured only a handful of chords, but what we actually have is a musical grounding that influenced many bands in the future (including the likes of Green Day) and indeed most of the popular bands in the Pop/Punk explosion will cite this band of basin-hairdos, leather jackets and shouts of "Hey Ho, Let's go!" as a major influence. The only surprising thing is that whilst the band produced many great songs they enjoyed very few hits, and at times were overshadowed by sloppy on-stage performances and internal friction (indeed from the early 80's Joey and Johnny refused to speak to each other after the latter 'stole' the former's girlfriend). However although the band has since been entered in to the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame (2002), and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (2011), three of the original members have since died.

Joey Ramone was born Jeffry Hyman in 1951 (and died in 2001 having battled with lymphoma for 7 years), and despite being the singer of a band called Sniper, had played the drums since the age of 18, and in fact formed The Ramones as the band's drummer, before swapping places with Dee Dee Ramone and becoming the band's singer (Dee Dee became the bassist). So to this album, Ya Know?, Joey Ramone's second solo album full of unreleased tracks compiled by the late singer's brother Mickey Leigh and named after a phrase that was the staple of Joey's conversation. This album is packed with tunes that do bear a resemblance to The Ramones which is what we would expect.

There is the straight up Rock'n'Roll of I Couldn't Sleep which is musically Iggy Pop's version of Real Wild Child (I'm A Wild One), and the gentle acoustic introspective song Waiting For The Railroad, however it's the familiar sounding blasts of Punk that make you feel like you are seeing an old friend again. First song, Rock'n'Roll Is The Answer has the air guitar riff that will have you swinging your arm around like you are kicking out riffs to a packed club. We have a mix of what is best about Joey's distinctive vocals in New York City that speaks of his love for the city, one of which now bears the sign 'Joey Ramone Place' (one of the most stolen signs in the city!).

There was always something a little tongue-in-cheek about Joey and this is evident in the song, Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight), a touching holiday tune but with some underlining comedy about it. One of the highlights is the chugging Rock of 21st Century Girl featuring the great Joan Jett which is a nice head-nodder of a track and takes us nicely to the thought-provoking, There's Got To Be More To Life. Then we have the slightly more heavy, Cabin Fever which has more Metal drums and deeper guitars. We hark back to the 50's a little more with the heavy echo in the vocals of Party Line, deep saxophone, tapping symbols and female backing vocals. Other tracks like, What Did I Do To Deserve You?, and Eyes Of Green could have been lifted from a number of The Ramones back catalogue, however it's the last song, Life's A Gas that is memorable. It's a catchy acoustic number giving us an upbeat feel and lyrically fitting as the last song of an album from someone who enjoyed life, but is now moved on to another one. "Don't be sad / 'Cause I'll Be There" Joey sings, and this is of course true, within the 14 studio albums and two solo albums, there are enough songs to keep Joey's memory alive.

Covering Ground
Covering Ground
Offered by MEGA Media FBA
Price: 9.11

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another solid solo album!, 26 Oct 2011
This review is from: Covering Ground (Audio CD)
This is the third studio album from the raspy-voiced ex-lead singer of Hot Water Music. Chuck Ragan delivers an album that you feel is exactly what he is all about. His 2007 debut album, `Feast Or Famine' set the blueprint of what his solo career would be about, and there are definitely similarities to his solo music and his previous side project, Rumbleseat. 2009 saw the release of `Gold Country', and for me this was more slightly more Country, and whereas `Feast..' had you thinking of spit and sawdust bars, thick blue smoke and slightly inebriated women, `Gold...' set the scene more in desolate shacks on a prairie, swamps and banjos. `Covering Ground' seems to be the first album whereby Chuck has quit experimenting through a vast repertoire of Folk, Rock, Country and Bluegrass, and set the musical foundations to build on.

First song, `Nothing Left To Prove' suggests just that and sounds almost laid back as he sings over the acoustic guitar with strings and back up singers adding the depth, and putting the meat on the bones to a good song. Slightly more folky is the jolly jig of `Nomad By Fate', and then Chuck almost sings with his chest puffed out in `You Get What You Give'. The songs here are slightly more catchy than his previous offerings and the production is well polished and tight.

`Wish On The Moon' again has Mr Ragan full of optimism, and it's more out of a Happy-Go-Lucky acceptance, rather than brass foolhardiness, even borrowing a line from Elvis in, "Take my hand // Take my whole life too..." whilst changing a word, and for a second you could almost be listening to a that very song. Then there is a the Country influenced tune of `Come Around' showing that Chuck's voice can lend itself to Country as easily as Folk or Hard-Rock. There is a lovely thud of bass, slide guitars and deep background vocals, showing once again that each layer has been well planned. This can also be said of the harmonica-led, `Seems We're Okay', that is slow and thoughtful, before the tempo quickens and strings dance majestically in the background of, `Valentine'.

There is a slow almost old-fashioned 50's-esque Country feel to, `Right As Rain' that you almost feel guilty for enjoying so much. `Meet You In The Middle' is a nice foot-tapper, before the banjo-plucking of `Lost And Found' draws the album to a close. We do get the customary few minutes of random noise (we had the sound of waves lapping the shore in `Feast Or Famine') before there is a great untitled acoustic song.

Chuck Ragan has hit the right notes here, and whilst this type of music is never going to be hip, it is pure, honest and unlikely to age. I enjoyed `Feast Or Famine' (giving it 11/13), and was subsequently disappointed with `Gold Country', however this is by far his best solo album yet, and I can only imagine how good his current acoustic tour is with Brian Fallon (The Gaslight Anthem singer), Dan Andriano (The Alkaline Trio Bassist/singer) & Dave Hause (The Loved Ones singer)...enough said.

Price: 11.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartfelt Punk Rock from singer of The Loved Ones, 26 Oct 2011
This review is from: Resolutions (Audio CD)
Dave Hause is the Lead singer and Guitarist for The Loved Ones, - a band which in my humble opinion are underrated - and this is his first full solo album. Dave has currently been on the fabulous Revival Tour with the likes of Chuck Ragan (Hot Water Music), Dan Andriano (Alkaline Trio), and Brian Fallon (The Gaslight Anthem) which showcases each singer/guitarist/bassist in an acoustic arena on the back of albums released by all of them: Chuck Ragan's third solo studio album `Covering Ground'; Dan Andriano's album `Hurricane season' under the guise of Dan Adriano In The Emergency Room; and Brian Fallon with his Side-Project-Tom-Waits-esque band `The Horrible Crows'. Dave will be seen by many as the undercard on this bill, however this would be a big mistake...

In this solo album, `Resolutions', you possibly have as close to the singer's usual band's sound than any of the other aforementioned vocalists above. Whilst the band is stripped down with acoustic guitars for the most part, there is the odd big riff and songs here that still rock. The opening track, `Time Will Tell' is piano-led with that slow pace that coupled with Dave's deep-gravely voice sounds a little like a more accessible Chuck Ragan. Dave also shows that he has that great range when he belts out a high note perfectly. Then in the song, `Melanin' we have as close to The Loved Ones as you can get. It's funny how I never really appreciated Bruce Springsteen, however now loving bands like Gaslight Anthem and here with Dave Hause (or The Loved Ones), I can hear Springsteen re-ignited with extra oomph, and finally the penny-drops as too the fascination by the masses of `The Boss'.

`C'mon Kid' starts slow with keyboards before the big handbang riffs kick in with this stripped back Rock'n'Roll song, giving a taste of how good Dave is as a songwriter. Next we have slide guitar in the Country-influenced `Pray For Tuscon' that smells of oil and sawdust, before the foot-tapping Rock of the title track, `Resolutions'. By this time that strange facial feeling will be the cheesy and satisfied grin of what you are hearing. Don't worry, this is perfectly natural.

There is quite a nice diverse vein running through each song, and none more so than `Prague (Revive Me)' which sounds as though it may be influence by Eastern music (as the title suggests), as there are some jolly string plucks and symbol splashes that conjure strange dances with kicking feet and funny hats. The song itself still has the ability to make you lend an ear to the lyrics hanging on to every word. Then we have a two-minute quick acoustic strum of, `Heavy Heart' before the contemplative poetry of, `Years from Now'. `Rankers And Rotters' is a blast of Rock that almost has a bit of Foo Fighters about it before the album closer of, `Meet Me At The Lanes' which has marching band drums and sounds a little like The Gaslight Anthem.

Sometimes you cringe a little when the lead singers of bands decide to have a stab at a solo album and the thought of it proves to be a real anti-climax, as the musical wet-fish flaps around your ear-canal like tinnitus and has you clawing at the stop button for quick relief. This album is nothing like this and instead sits nicely alongside his band's album's. I must conclude that I am pleasantly surprised at how good this album is; it doesn't sound like a solo project that is a bunch of ideas thrown together like some sort of creative release, but a well-crafted bunch of songs beautifully worked to be a good album. This is well worth whatever price you pay for it. Get it now!

Union City Breath
Union City Breath
Price: 11.18

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Plymouth's finest rock!, 8 Oct 2011
This review is from: Union City Breath (Audio CD)
In 2009 Devon's Crazy Arm released their debut album 'Born To Ruin' and I for one was a fan. So now a couple of years later it is time for that 'awkward' second album, however Crazy Arm are a band that doesn't conform to the pressures put upon them by others. Even with the bands musical style you can tell that they play the type of music that they like, and not what they think people want to hear. 'Union City Breath' is not so awkward as awesome in the way that throughout each song you get another flash of a musical leaning that you would not expect...

For the most part Crazy Arm play Hard Rock but this has a roots-y undertone with more than a rebel yell of Punk to keep it interesting to many. The first released single on this album is 'Tribes' a song that is both The Loved Ones and Springsteen in equal parts, and this (as in the first album) is the underlining sound along with the likes of Gaslight Anthem, Hot Water Music and of course Chuck Ragan that can be heard throughout this offering. The song is a catchy mid-tempo tune that also has prominent keyboards and a tribal slash gospel backing singing at one point. This is after the opening track, 'Of The Tarantulas' has blasted out with it's locomotive chugging guitars and thumping drum beats, and the blast of Punk'n'Roll that is the fantastic 'Bandalito'.

The band aren't afraid to get political and this is evident in both the fast paced, ' The Right Wing Never Sleeps', and more prominently in the Pirate-Folk of, 'Song Of Choice' as they sing about the BNP being Neo-Nazi's. The maritime-influenced music can also be heard in 'The Endless Carriage' as the band can be a little (lyrically) like an English version of The Briggs, with the Punk ethos of the struggling working class on the docks, which Plymouth has in Davenport. Then we have a simple and hugely effective song like, 'Little Boats' that is as catchy as a radio jingle. Brilliant.

Elsewhere we have '200 Pints Of Blood' that sounds just like Billy Talent, and the big ballsy 70's rock of 'Meet The Marines' and 'City & Western', the latter being a smash and grab of chugging guitars, with a hint of slide guitar whilst the vocals have a great strong quality that is both whisky-Blues and fist-pumping Hard Rock. Then we have the gentle Folk of, 'Southway Drive' that is a mix of Chuck Ragan and Frank Turner, a song that builds up into a real foot-tapper. Then the more traditional Acoustic-Folk of, 'Charnel House Blues' - those without morbid tendencies may not know but a Charnel House is a place that either has human skeletal remains or a place associated with death - so this contrasts the beauty that this song beholds. The album finishes with 'White Canyon' that starts gently but builds up for the powerful chorus: "I wanted to leave // but I just couldn't leave // And I wanted to give // But they always wanted more..." we hear at one point.

Crazy Arm are a band that sit on their own, and whilst I have mentioned a whole host of other bands and singers, Crazy Arm remain unique. The songs are layered with love and care with a bit of this genre here, and a bit of another there, sown together to make a patchwork blanket of musical bliss that you can wrap around yourself and embrace bringing you comfort of what the horrible world may have to offer. The band's biggest problem is that people may not get them, and that would be a crying shame. Great debut album and great follow up album. Enough said.

American Tragedy [Deluxe Edition]
American Tragedy [Deluxe Edition]
Price: 7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A polished second helping!, 9 May 2011
It's easy to write off Hollywood Undead as a gimmick band who look like Slipknot and sound like D12, but actually there is a lot more behind the clever marketing of a bunch of mask-wearing ugly blokes who can put together a catchy tune. The band's first album 'Swan Songs' is a very good album, however it's only when you hear 'American Tragedy' that you realise just how disjointed the first album is, playing out with Metal tracks and Hip Hop tracks randomly thrown together. 'American Tragedy' blends together the elements that the band do well which is catchy hooks, harmonies and great rap lyrics.

There are still some heavy guitars here in tracks like the opener, 'Been To Hell', the slightly Papa Roach-esque 'Hear Me Now', the great sneer of 'Tendencies' and 'Le Deux', however it's the boy band catchiness of the monster hooks and choruses from the other songs that make this album so good. It's almost a guilty pleasure that you can like the tongue-in-cheek humour of 'Apologize' that sounds like it might be The Backstreet Boys gone x-rated. Some of the reasons for this sound is the change of lead singer from one of the founding members Deuce (real name Aron Erlichman) who had a voice that could sing harmonies and also Hardcore with ease, to Danny (Daniel Murillo) who was a contestant in the 9th season of American Idol.

We have the full out party songs like the drinking/chick anthem of 'Comin' In Hot', and 'Gangsta sexy', however for me it's the songs that have good flow in the rap verses and sing-a-long choruses that fail to leave your head, and that show how good the band are. The first being, 'My Town', another track that they show their love for LA, The twisted dark lyrics of, 'I Don't Wanna Die' ("I don't Wanna // So you're gonna have to // Blood is getting harder // Blood is getting colder // I told you once // I'm the only one who holds her"), the huge chorus of 'Lights Out' and the head nod of 'Pour Me'.

Elsewhere we have the great Hip Hop track of 'Coming Back Down' and a track that is probably the most surprising here and one that would never have appeared on the first album. 'Bullet' is a mid-tempo foot-tapper of an acoustic track telling the tale of somebodies failed attempt at suicide. It's simple, catchy and melodic whilst still being edgy with dark lyrics. "If I survive, then I'll see you tomorrow // I'll see you tomorrow" is sung at one point in the bridge to the chorus of, "My legs are dangling off the edge // The bottom of the bottle is my only friend // I think I'll slit my wrists again and I'm gone, gone, gone // My legs are dangling off the edge // A stomach full of pills didn't work again // I'll put a bullet in my head and I'm gone, gone, gone" even with sweet but slightly haunting addition of a small child at the end singing, "I wish that I could fly // way up in the sky // Like a bird so high // oh, I might just try // I wish that I could fly..." Pure brilliance.

Whilst there are similarities between the first and second albums, it's best to regard these separately. 'Swan Songs' was a mix of Linkin Park and Eminem leaning more towards the former and with explicit lyrics, however this time the production is slightly cleaner and the emphasis is definitely on hooks and choruses. The band looked to propel themselves more into the mainstream with this album and I think that is exactly what they have achieved. Whilst the concept of the band is not original, there is certainly not any bands that sound half as good with the cross-gender musical assault that Hollywood Undead achieve. The Deluxe Edition also features four slightly heavier tracks also making this a worth while album to add to your collection. Love it.

Land Of The Lost [DVD]
Land Of The Lost [DVD]
Dvd ~ Will Ferrell
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: 2.73

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars B-Movie tongue-in-cheek comedy, 26 Mar 2011
This review is from: Land Of The Lost [DVD] (DVD)
Land Of The Lost is a movie that, whilst is an adaptation of the old TV show, is more just a vehicle showcasing the thin line between genius and complete bonkers that is Will Ferrell. You could almost go down the list of things that make Will, er, Will. Singing - check, dancing - check, hapless `hero' - check, Dumb laughs - check and so on. I would imagine that the screen writers may very well have written the lines of the other actors, but Will's lines are pure Will Ferrell and it seems that he is given free reign on what he says and does. He is without doubt the best (and arguably the only good) bit of the movie...
Never has the line `so good, it's bad' been more applicable. Shot predominantly as a B-Movie feel (including using the Universal logo from the 1970's in the beginning credits), there is a deliberately amateurish way the dinosaur CGI overlaps that actors in places and the two seem not to interact as you would expect. The storyline is thin and full of assumptions, however there is something just so damn entertaining about it, and really that is the name of the game.
I'm not sure that this does a lot for Anna Friel's career, though perhaps the fact that she is overshadowed by Mr Ferrell could be the blessing. Danny McBride plays the same type of character that you would recognise if you have seen him in Hot Rod, Pineapple Express, Tropic Thunder & Drillbit Taylor, but this seems more of something that they had a laugh doing as opposed to work.
The bottom line is that if you don't like the comedy of Will Ferrell, or are bored of his type of humour then you will think that this is one of the worst movies ever made. However if you do like him and his humour then you will be entertained and there are moments of pure comedy (the scene with the fly is one of them). This is not up there with the likes of Anchorman, Old School, ELF, Kicking & Screaming, Blades Of Glory, Step-Brothers etc. but it is a nice tongue-in-cheek slice of B-movie-madness....

by Carlton Mellick III
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Explicit slasher-whorer, 2 Mar 2011
This review is from: Apeshit (Paperback)
Despite what the author may proclaim in the foreword of this book, Mr Mellick does like to shock. A writer that does not do this intentionally would not have a handful of characters with various strange interests, and with whom are willing participants in such depraved sexual acts. It is therefore these explicit and mind-raping details that will depend on whether or not you will enjoy this book.

As a storyline this is book is best described as a dark erotic-horror comic minus pictures. It grabs hold of slasher-movie clichés quite unapologetically and boasts ,"Bet they didn't go this far..." and of course no film would go as far as this author quite unashamedly does, for what it's worth. It is quick and tongue-in-cheek, and will leave your head spinning with the visuals described in the penultimate scene...

This is cult literature. It makes the likes of King, Koontz, Little, Nicholson, and Herbert seem like a bunch of prissy pansies and their work more likened to Blyton or Dahl. It's the mark of an author that sees the moral line and ejaculates over it whilst taking pictures of himself and self-harming. This stuff is really bad or really good, and I'm still none the wiser as to which I conclude it is. It is original and nothing like you will have ever read before, so if that is not worth the money then you can shoot me in the head and use the bullet hole as you see fit...

W. Axl Rose: The Unauthorized Biography
W. Axl Rose: The Unauthorized Biography
by Mick Wall
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good patchwork quilt of interviews, 31 Dec 2010
There are some fair points made by other reviewers in regards to the second hand stories that Mick has woven throughout the majority of this book, however what you do get is a great insight into a number of bands, and the whole music scene in and around LA between the mid 1980's and early 1990's. This is after all an `unauthorised biography', and therefore there is enough room for the odd things to be a little sketchy.

I agree that a lot of the flippant comments are meant to sound like Mick hung out with these guys all of the time, and not that they were well planned answers in many scheduled interviews. That said, Mick did live in LA and was living and breathing the LA scene. I found the book fascinating as it pulled together facts, stories, rumours and allegations that I had already read about in, `The Dirt - by Motley Crue (Neil Strauss)', `Tommyland by Tommy Lee (Anthony Bozza)', `Slash by Slash (Anthony Bozza)', `The Heroine Diaries by Nikki Sixx', and `Don't Try This At Home by Dave Navarro (Neil Strauss)'. Hearing similar stories from different people's point of view is hugely entertaining (like both sides of the Vince Neil & Axl Rose feud).

The disappointing side was that the details of Axl Rose's life from the late 1990's to 1997 (a time period rarely documented anywhere) is still very sparse predominantly built around the band's erratic live reviews. I remember a great interview back in 1998 with one of the (many) drummers that quit, citing the reason as frustration over having to play over 100 hundred instrumentals before Axl would bother to write any lyrics. However there was no mention of this (presumably because it was in Kerrang! At a time when Mick had left; or that the interview was not done with himself.). Then the book comes to an abrupt ending before `The Chinese Democracy' has been released. I was expecting album review quotes, and sales figures, fan reactions etc, however we never get this far. Presumably this will be added in a re-release in years to come, but this is why the book didn't get the whole five stars.

Mick Wall is a great journalist, and his writing is interesting and amusing. This book gives an insight to everyone's view on Axl without hardly speaking to the man himself. This is about as close as we will ever come to getting a biography, so for that reason alone this is worth getting. Great stuff.

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