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J. A. Harvey (Lincolnshire, UK)

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Pink Moon
Pink Moon
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £8.47

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The last feat of magic, then he was gone, 15 July 2011
This review is from: Pink Moon (Audio CD)
The third and last of Nick's lifetime trilogy marks the point at which those steering his career, and to some extent the artist himself, had sort of accepted that he was not going to be the English Leonard Cohen any time soon, and perhaps his success was not the foregone conclusion Manager Joe Boyd had once thought it might have been. The layers of orchestrated strings, wind instruments and occasional backing singers were gone forever, and all that remained was all that was really needed, Nick's vocals, guitar, and the odd bit of piano, and of course more of his beautiful songs.

He apparently handed the acetate for PINK MOON to Island boss Chris Wright and simply informed Wright that it was his new album. It is often claimed that the title track, which was used in a car commercial in 2000, was what brought Nick to the attention of the masses 26 years after his death ironically at age 26. This is probably true, but the earliest mainstream use of a Nick Drake song was BLACK EYED DOG which was used in 1998's PRACTICAL MAGIC with Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. It featured in a scene with a black dog, although rather strangely, you don't actually hear Nick's weary vocal, just that distinctive bottleneck blues guitar riff at the start of the song. (Definitely the high point of the movie)

But it would not be Hollywood that would (postumously) break Nick as an artist and the title track of Pink Moon, although by no means one of his best, was good enough to appeal to a new generation of consumers. The previous albums FIVE LEAVES LEFT and BRYTER LAYTER had been filled with morose classics that many of us will forever regard as the work of a true national treasure, but on this album the strain had become evident in his vocals more than before. It has been said that he could no longer face long recording sessions, and you get the feeling that he believed any chance of achieving the success he so richly deserved had slipped away. Nevertheless, to my ears, the mood of the albums just enhances the beauty of the music, and this album is full of Drake classics like FREE RIDE, FROM THE MORNING and the wonderful THINGS BEHIND THE SUN, one of my favourite four Nick Drake songs.

The guitar playing on this album is exquisite, the songwriting inspired, albeit by nothing more than apathy. But hey, don't knock apathy, it is the ingredient that fueled the best work of my other favourite artist, Joe Jackson. Pink Moon is not the magnum opus that was FIVE LEAVES LEFT (nothing is or ever will be) but it is the best of the rest, and without doubt the true essence of the artist.

The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy [Blu-ray]
The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Elijah Wood
Offered by Magic Movies Ltd
Price: £13.02

5 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Better than sleeping tablets, 8 Feb. 2011
I shouldn't be reviewing these movies because I've never managed to get all the way through any one of them without falling into a deep blissful sleep. In fact my only memory of the films is of a bunch of trees with deep voices transporting a group of small men with permed hair to god knows where. I gave up after that.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 1, 2011 5:24 AM BST

Come and Get It
Come and Get It

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sort it out Amazon!, 4 Oct. 2010
This review is from: Come and Get It (Audio CD)
As other reviews have pointed out, this is not a compilation of Badfinger originals, so why for the love of Pete Ham are Amazon using this album as a track sampler? Surely it would be better to use THE VERY BEST OF BADFINGER which does contain the originals. Nevertheless, a tragic, but magnificent British band.

Signature Box
Signature Box
Price: £80.84

4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars NO, 4 Oct. 2010
This review is from: Signature Box (Audio CD)
Having previously praised the value of the newly remastered hits collection and albums, which at just £1.00 more than the originals represent good value, I am dissapointed at the rather high price of this package. (Doesn't Yoko know we're all being squeezed by the son of Tricky Dicky at the moment?)

Personally, I don't need the pretty packaging or gimicky inclusions, but even if I did I still think 130 quid is a bit steep. Having said that I'll be buying the albums seperately if the remastering process is good enough and I'll be saving around £30 in the process. Still, peace and love to the old soldier, but no money this time.

Power to the People - the Hits (Remastered)
Power to the People - the Hits (Remastered)
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £11.65

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars YES, 4 Oct. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
You may well say that the world needs another John Lennon collection about as much as it needs another Neil Diamond collection, yet unlike all the ones that have gone before, this, (with the exception of GIMME SOME TRUTH) is exclusively a collection of John's singles. Now you may also say that Lennon as a solo artist cannot be defined by his single releases because some of his best songs, like WORKING CLASS HERO and GOD, were not released as singles. Yet like most of the other inclusions in this remastering project, at nine quid this is certainly not overpriced as other recent remastering packages have been, and it's got to be worth buying if only to sample the quality of the remastering process that has been applied. If it's an improvement on the previous sound of the Lennon songs, I for one will take a closer look at the other albums Yoko has had remastered, and I may say yes to those also.

For those young enough to be relatively new to the music of the great man, this has three of his best songs in GIMME SOME TRUTH, WATCHING THE WHEELS and JEALOUS GUY, and a whole lot of popular classics like IMAGINE and HAPPY CHRISTMAS WAR IS OVER, and though every person on earth over 50 has them on previous compilations, and some of us have the original albums, this will still sell by the truckload, and rightly so for the reasons I have expressed.

UPDATE: I've heard it now, and to say I'm impressed is an understatement. Most remastering procedures include cranking up the recorded loudness, giving the impression you're actually hearing more of the music, when in reality you're hearing a 'clipped' version of the music. (See YouTube) This is what spoilt 2007's Led Zeppelin remasters and I would strongly suggest Jimmy Page consults Yoko's team. No such problem with this though, Lennon's songs have been treated with great love and respect. The sound has been cleaned but not sanitised, putting space around the voclas and instruments; the bass in particular now has much better definition without sounding boomy. My only slight reservation is that in some cases, like WATCHING THE WHEELS, there has been some tinkering with the recording itself, and although this has been done to mask distortion in the original recording, it does take something away. Nevertheless, a triumph, and I will now buy the remastered albums individually.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 5, 2010 6:55 PM BST

Sony Bravia KDL26EX302U 26-Inch Widescreen HD Ready LCD TV with Freeview
Sony Bravia KDL26EX302U 26-Inch Widescreen HD Ready LCD TV with Freeview

33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A fat lot of good to Sweeney fans, 3 Sept. 2010
Having spent the past month looking at virtually every 26 inch TV on the market, I have come to regard this Sony as having more or less the best picture quality overall, and good sound to boot. The problem is that unlike the other sets you cannot change the aspect ratio from 16:9 (wide) to 4:3 through an HDMI connection. (Notably Sky) Fine if you only want to watch the modern stuff and HD that's all made in widescreen, but if like me you also like classic drama series like Upstairs Downstairs or the Sweeney that go out on ITV2, 3, & 4, and other channels showing classic TV programmes like Fawlty Towers and Red Dwarf, this TV will only show it in widescreen through HDMI, so you'll have to put up with Regan and Carter looking like a couple of sumo wrestlers, or fit a scart lead and change the AV setting from HDMI to scart every time there's a 4:3 transmission.

I called Sony about this and I couldn't get much sense out of them. When I eventually got to speak to a supposed technician all he would say was "HDMI will only support 16:9". Maybe, but the fact is every other TV allows you to override the 16:9 or widescreen setting in HDMI. I spoke to a few Hi-Fi/TV dealerships and the ones that knew their stuff accepted that it was an oversight on Sony's part that affects all Sony TV's. My advice is to give serious consideration to the Samsung LE26C450. It's got a very tidy picture, it's a great looker, and it allows you to change the aspect ratio from 16:9 to 4:3 in HDMI with one button (P-Size) so you don't even have to go into the menu. Furthermore, you'll get a good chunk of change from £300 at the moment.

UPDATE JANUARY 2011: Since I wrote this reveiw ITV 2,3, and 4 have become available on Sky HD in addition to standard def, so if you have a Sky HD box these channels are now presented with black side panels when showing old broadcasts, which is fantastic news. I'm hoping DAVE, WATCH, GOLD, YESTERDAY, and all the other channels showing classic TV will soon follow suit.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 10, 2011 10:32 PM BST

Sony Ericsson Elm - SIM FREE - Black
Sony Ericsson Elm - SIM FREE - Black

13 of 26 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The mobile phone equivalent of an energy efficient light-bulb, 9 July 2010
It (may) be environmentally friendly but it certainly isn't user friendly. Bells should have begun ringing at the alarming lack of protective box inserts they send the phone with, and there's no manual or instructions; things which may spare the manufacturer a tongue lashing from Sting, but it's a wonder the phone arrives in one piece, and it's a weekend project learning how to use the damn thing. Furthermore, if you want a PC connector and all the usual gubbins you'll have to buy seperately. Just like an energy saving light bulb it can sometimes flicker when you first turn on or come out of locked mode, and worst of all, even on full brighness setting it's too dim to see anything in bright daylight. And don't buy into the idea that it has any genuine ecological values; the battery does not last long between charges so you end up using more electricity.

The 5 megapixel camera is okay if a little lacking in brightness; you can zoom and crop to good reproducible standards, but don't use it indoors, the flash is about as useful as a damp match. Oh and if you're used to locking with the top right button before the star, you may hit the web option a few times before you get the knack; that'll cost 50p a time on contract, and much more on PAYG. Give this phone a miss, it even costs more than an equivalent conventional alternative whereas your electricity provider will send those irritating (similarly dim) light bulbs free in the post.

UPDATE SEPT 10: I live near fields surrounded by woods. Lately I have been fighting an irresitable urge to hurl this contraption into the leafy pastures of its spiritual home; the reception is abysmal! Can I remove the lone star I gave this product?

David Bowie
David Bowie
Price: £12.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Karma Man than he later became, 6 Jun. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: David Bowie (Audio CD)
Bowie called this his Anthony Newley period, many have said he sounds more like Tommy Steele (Tommy Steele from Mars) but unlike the songs of Newley or Steele many of Bowie's songs from this period had dark undertones and they contained the future gene. FLASH BANG WALLOP or HALF A SIXPENCE they most certainly are not. David's pre 1969 period is one of music's best kept secrets; you won't find any of these sometimes zany sometimes magnificent songs on any of the later compilations, but there are several that cover this elusive little pocket of his career. This album is now the gold standard; it contains everything he did during this period now remastered again.

I fisrt heard these songs in the mid seventies on his original compilation double IMAGES and I wouldn't have given them a chance to get into my head if they were not the work of a contemporary artist like Bowie. Sure there are happy chappy things like THE LAUGHING GNOME (a re-released hit in the seventies) childhood memories like the magical THERE IS A HAPPY LAND and blokish stuff like LONDON BOYS and THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO TONY DAY. The Newley inspired WHEN I LIVE MY DREAM belongs in one of those British sixties musicals, and it makes you wonder how his career would have developed had the film industry come calling at that time. It's all rather quaint but the songs are strong, this is not a case of a new artist cutting his teeth with mediocre material. The tune of SHE'S GOT MEDALS may be jolly but the words are about a shady young woman who fakes her gender to join the regular army ("Don't ask me how it's done") then fakes her own death in the aftermath of a bomb explosion ("She got pretty tierd of picking up girls"). Androgynous misfits in apocalyptic situations; Now where do you suppose he was going with that?

But it is the musically more innovative songs here that are the true promise of things to come. Notably LET ME SLEEP BESIDE YOU and the incredible KARMA MAN which remains one of his best songs. It's subject matter is way of the Richter for its time, and musically it was a delightful fusion of past and future. Both songs appeared first on 1970's THE WORLD OF DAVID BOWIE as previously unreleased material. Most of the other songs here made his eponymous debut released in 1967, and all were combined on IMAGES a few years later. I think my heart would have broken if I'd watched stuff like that drift by unoticed, but perhaps the mainstream wasn't ready for the likes of Karma Man at the time, but in just a few years his look and music would inspire a generation that had just missed out on the Beatles and the Stones.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 11, 2011 9:24 PM BST

Led Zeppelin III
Led Zeppelin III
Offered by Riley3014
Price: £9.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Debunking the ultimate Zeppelin myth, 26 May 2010
This review is from: Led Zeppelin III (Audio CD)
They said that Jimmy Page had been listening to too much Crosby Stills and Nash and Robert Plant too much Joni Mitchell, and as a consequence ZEPPELIN III ended up sounding like west coast inspired soft folk, so initially the critics all turned their noses up and sales were [relatively] poor. Everyone knows Zeppelin were into traditional folk and the popular American folk revival of the mid to late sixties, but they were also into English stuff like Fairport Convention and Pentagon, and to my ears the accoustic aspects of this album owe more to Bert Jansch than Stephen Stills.

Most of the first half of the album is gut wrenching hard rock as only these guys could do it. It kicks off with Robert Plant's Viking fantasy THE IMMIGRANT SONG. Never mind the power chords, Percy's battle cry alone would have given David Crosby a heart attack. On SINCE I'VE BEEN LOVING YOU Robert lets rip in the high registers like never before; this is the best song of the first three albums. Why did he stop doing that when he went solo? In 2008 Rolling Stone magazine said of the Zeppelin singer, "Countless rock singers would shred their vocal chords searching for notes that Plant gained by birthright". Hmm, in 1970 the magazine's writers wouldn't have given tuppence for him.

Tracks six to ten would have been side two of the original record and this is where most of the accoustic based stuff can be found. GALLOWS POLE and the beautiful TANGERINE are the high points. BRON Y AUR STOMP could have been a Donovan song and HATS OFF TO (ROY) HARPER is pure old style blues. The song sounds like imitation, which is not what Led Zeppelin was about. Nevertheless the album overall is one of the band's best. It has gained more respect over the years, as one by one the old myths die off. The Banshee from Brum's finest hour. Page would have his with PHYSICAL GRAFITTI.

Bryter Layter
Bryter Layter
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £7.20

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A spell for Life, 26 May 2010
This review is from: Bryter Layter (Audio CD)
Of the three albums he made in his short life there has always been debate among fans about which is the better, this, or the debut FIVE LEAVES LEFT. As English folk songstress Linda Thompson put it, "Received wisdom is that that BRYTER LAYTER is Nick's best record but Five Leaves Left is equally fantastic". Personally I'm a Five Leaves man, but then I regard that as the best album ever made, and one of life's rarest of things, a straight ten. I often wonder if I would have been so spellbound by his music and the dark mysteries that come with it if he had only made Bryter Layter and PINK MOON. I prefer to think I would, they are still remarkable albums.

You get the feeling from listening to this that the people around Nick were so surprised at the failure of the debut that they decided to put some weight behind the follow up. Manager Joe Boyd once said he didn't have a plan B in the event that Five Leaves didn't break Nick as an artist. The twin plan B strategy they did eventually come up with for this though was brass and backing singers, at least on a couple of the tracks. There is still a mainstay of orchestrated strings and Nick's guitar and voice, and though I prefer the other two albums, it's still completely Nick Drake, and the songs are still earthmoving, and it contains some of his best songs like FLY and NORTHERN SKY.

The Drake trilogy of albums were recorded and released between 1969 and 1971, and then within a few years he was gone. None of the records sold more than 5000 copies apiece during his lifetime. In the generations that followed, millions of us would gradually discover his music and wonder how the hell we had come so far in our own lives without stumbling over it sooner, and why this enigmatic genius had not known success in life. I admit to being forever under his spell, but of all the spells that may possess you, there are none that you would be so blessed to be held captive by as the music of Nick Drake.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 24, 2010 8:22 AM BST

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