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Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em - Series 1-3 + Christmas Specials [DVD] [1973]
Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em - Series 1-3 + Christmas Specials [DVD] [1973]
Dvd ~ Michael Crawford
Price: £12.00

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars At Its Best, A Truly Priceless Comedy, 25 Feb 2012
'Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em', certainly from the view of hindsight, with regard to much of what has constituted situation comedy in the last twenty or so years, is yet another marvellous example of a period when comedy writers and producers, truly had a firm handle on how to deliver the goods. The seventies was unquestionably some kind of golden era in comedy terms, before a cynical later attitude set in, and a more politically correct outlook also made its presence known, where seemingly everything, however innocently portrayed, somehow managed to be deemed offensive.

'Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em', at its best is one of the most hilariously funny sitcoms ever, and the ingenuity of choosing Michael Crawford initially as Frank Spencer, one of the greatest pieces of casting. Crawford certainly managed to make Frank a unique and unforgettable character in terms of his mannerisms, whether visual or in a vocal sense (which has resulted in him being the victim of a thousand impersonators!), and his daring stunt activities throughout the series, helped to make the show instantly memorable.

Many of the stories took on a similar theme, where Frank was being interviewed for a job, or visiting hospital, or participating in some social gathering, and everything seems to end in chaos due to his haphazard ways, driving those in a position of authority to despair. Of course his wife Betty was always on hand to offer her support (where she found the patience was a miracle in itself!).

Over the three series and three christmas specials (22 episodes), Frank pretty much managed to get himself in almost as many crazy situations as it is possible to think of. However, in a number of respects the series did actually change over time, and not necessarily for the better, and whereas the first two series (and two christmas specials) find Frank the eternally loveable fool, pretty much incapable of doing anything right, when the series returned after a three year break, arguably Frank was no longer so loveable, and the scripts pretty much becoming more and more just a basis for Crawford to display his talent for taking on ever more elaborate stunts. Much of the problem with the third series is Crawford's insistance that Frank becomes subtely more confident and assertive, in light of him taking on the responsibility of becoming a father. However, one gets the feeling the character of Frank had become that touch too arrogant, and the naivety and charm from those early days, which endeared him so much to the audience, had started to dwindle somewhat. Somehow the stunts, however elaborate and clever, started to become tiresome too, as they took up an ever increasing role within the show, at the cost of good solid scripts. However, the show still managed to pull in some excellent viewing figures, although it was probably wise that it never made it to a fourth series.

Overall this comedy has so many highlights, and especially during series one and two. A comedy classic, certainly of sorts, before becoming rather repetitive and tiresome towards the end. It is also rather disappointing that this DVD box set contains no extras.


Heaven
Heaven
Offered by mrtopseller
Price: £5.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Rebecca's Beautifully Revealing, And Heartfelt Debut., 27 Dec 2011
This review is from: Heaven (Audio CD)
Rebecca Ferguson certainly doesn't fail to impress on this, 'Heaven', her debut album. In fact, for much of the time, the songs subtle hooks, in addition to Rebecca's wonderfully soulful voice, is truly addictive over repeated listens, in a way that's truly hard to believe she could have anything remotely to do with a show like the X-Factor.

The songs are all soul based, and have a strong connection to 60s/70s soul, which was before the over emoting Whitney Houston/Mariah Carey sickly sugar coated approximation of soul became such a high profile, and ultimately such a gross marketing ploy in the 1980s, and beyond. That is pretty much where many of the more typical Cowell protegees are truly at, but thankfully, not Rebecca.

Many of these songs are incredibly strong, in terms of their composition, their instrumentation, and most strikingly Rebecca's wonderfully heartfelt vocals. Some of the songs are a little more contemporary sounding in some ways, in terms of their production, yet this never overwhelms the true nature of the emotions Rebecca is expressing. In fact, lyrically 'Heaven' is really rather striking because it goes so far against the grain of many of more obviously typical 'love' song cliches. There is a strong autobiographical flavour running throughout, which ties in nicely with the fact that Rebecca has had a hand in the writing of all these songs. In most of the songs, and including 'Glitter & Gold', 'Shoulder To Shoulder', 'Fighting Suspicions', and 'Teach Me How To Be Loved' there is a strong sense of Rebecca yearning to reach out and touch something a little more pure and genuine, often in the name of 'love', rather than the superficial, which is actually really rather moving. To Rebecca's credit, she never takes a false turn vocally, she never sounds contrived, like so many of her contempories, or tries to over elaborate by using vocal technicalities, or range. She is a breath of fresh air, and so pure and natural, and ultimately so believeable. Rebecca really does sound like she's living these songs, and listening to the album, one senses you are almost in touching distance to Rebecca, the person, and not just a more typical (plastic) pop star personna. This aspect of her is, perhaps, the area she shares most strongly with the late, great Amy Winehouse (apart from the obvious similar primary musical influences), and it's a very very rare talent, indeed, she has.

Perhaps not everything on 'Heaven' works so wonderfully well. I feel the final three tracks, 'Run Free', 'Diamond To Stone', and 'Too Good To Lose', find Rebecca recording songs that are perhaps not truly her forte. There is a lighter clubby feel to these songs that is a little more reminiscent of the Dina Carroll style of soul. Yes, they are successful, because Rebecca is such a wonderfully interpretive singer, and she can handle almost anything, yet these songs, i feel, aren't her true forte. They are perhaps a little more bland, and maybe a little too pedestrian, too. However, to put things in perspective, many of her contempories would simply die for these tracks/performances alone, such is the effectiveness of Rebecca's wonderfully effective vocal.

'Heaven' is a great album overall, wonderfully moving in a lyrical, and an emotional sense for much of the time. There is also a subtelty also to be found in terms of the way Rebecca sings these songs, in terms of her never cheapening her art by over emoting, and always remaining sincere, in a way that can really become profound, for the listener, over repeated listens. Honesty, and sincerity, is something that is so very hard to find in today's hyped up pop scene, where true talent just seems so incredibly rare. Rebecca, happily proves most convincingly and most conclusively, to be a rare exception to that rule. Top marks for herself vocally, and for much of the material. Only on three occasions do i question whether the effectiveness of the material truly matches up to her own greatness as a singer.


Lioness: Hidden Treasures
Lioness: Hidden Treasures
Price: £10.68

28 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Moments Of Genius Mixed With An Abundance Of Mediocrity, 5 Dec 2011
I don't think on hearing 'Lioness: Hidden Treasures' in full, one could ever mistake this for anything other than a posthumous release, because in many instances Amy's edgy rawness seems so explicitely smoothed and neutred, which is most unlike Amy's previous releases. To put it another way, had Amy lived, and she had managed to lay down enough tracks for a new album, i am quite sure they would have sounded nothing like this.

There are so many problems, i feel, in terms of the chronology of the songs, the added inappropriate production some of these tracks have been subjected to, in addition to an unnecessarily irritating rap section within one of the songs. Amy's original albums just seemed so wonderfully cohesive and complimentary within the consistency of their mood, by comparison, and even when Amy was in a little more laid back mood, there appeared a real vocal/lyrical sharpness and bite throughout.

However, that's not to say Amy is never effective within her vocal application here, quite the opposite. There are several songs that really do work extremely well for her. 'Our Day Will Come' a cover of a Ruby And The Romantics sixties song is really rather infectious, within its wonderfully bright and laid back sound. 'Half Time' also has a most beautiful and seductive feel, which sounds very reminscent of much of her jazzy sounds from her debut, 'Frank'. 'Tears Dry On Their Own', however, has to be arguably the highlight, where the song in its original ballad form, smoulders rather magnificently. I think this is perhaps up there with the very best things Amy has ever recorded, with wonderful, heartfelt vocals, and beautiful strings.

An alternative take of 'Valerie' is quite nice too, where this version seems to be much leaner and less produced than the single version. Two of the newer songs Amy was working on at the time of her death, are present here, too. 'Between The Sheets' and 'Like Smoke' are both quite promising, although in the form presented here, they don't really manage to catch fire fully. 'Like Smoke' has also been given a rap treatment in places via. the vocals of Nas, which i'm a little unsure of. One wonders if this was genuinely part of the grand scheme of things, had Amy lived. 'Body And Soul', Amy last officially recorded song with Tony Bennett, is included too, and is pretty impressive too.

However, the album's mis steps appear to be rather large. These tend to relate rather significantly to the inappropiate arrangements some of these songs are forced to endure. 'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?' seems to be completely spoilt by an overwrought arrangement, and Amy's beautful rendition of 'A Song For You' seems to be be drowned out by a desperately overproduced arrangement including a dreadfully annoying echo. These seem so much to go against the nature of the very tasteful arrangement/production of Amy's previous releases when she was fully involved in them. 'The Girl From Ipanema' seems pretty pointless too, because it isn't one of Amy's most memorable vocal performances. The backing doesn't seem especially complimentary, either.

Ultimately, because 'Lioness: Hidden Treasures' is derived from different periods in Amy's career, it tends to lack any type of cohesion. Amy, for the most part sings well, and her voice on most tracks never fails to impress, yet because many of these tracks were never meant for release, the songs, in addition to her voice, lacks urgency. This CD really isn't a fitting tribute to Amy's talent, and i find it very hard to believe that there aren't many much more impressive performances somewhere stashed away in the vaults. The positive, however, to be taken from this collection, is it does contain the odd true gem, which any genuine Amy fan wouldn't want to be without.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 12, 2011 9:31 AM GMT


On the Buses - The Complete Series [DVD]
On the Buses - The Complete Series [DVD]
Dvd ~ Reg Varney
Price: £29.20

5.0 out of 5 stars In Part, The Best Sitcom Has To Offer., 12 Oct 2011
It seems a pretty true statement to say that it's widely considered that the BBC has been primarily the broadcaster who has produced the much greater share of sitcom classics. Their interpretation of comedy often seemed that little more sophisticated, and perhaps more eloquently written, than their nearest rivals, ITV, yet there are occasional exceptions. LWTs 'On The Buses' isn't especially sophisticated, true, and it's fair to say the politically correct brigade may find a few things to disapprove of in terms of social attitude on show here, yet when the show was at its peak, it seriously took some beating, such was the effectiveness of its humour. Everything seemed to fit into place most perfectly, not forgetting also the most wonderful casting.

The lead character, Stan (Reg Varney), alongside his mate Jack (Bob Grant), was a middle aged man who's job it was to drive the local bus, isn't really too detached in attitude to a typical male stereotype - very much into girl chasing, and especially the 'clippies' where he worked, and pretty much trying to get by by doing as little work as he could get away with. I think most of us have come across the type at one time or another. Stan still lived at home with his mother, his sister, Olive, and her husband, so there is plenty of scope for domestic humour also to be found in this series. Olive, played by Anna Karen, especially, was made the butt of many a joke because of her rather plain appearance, and her ongoing marriage problems with Arthur (Michael Robbins) became a consistent thread running through many of the storylines. Arthur appeared very rude and also rather aloof for much of the time, with an element of snobbery running through his character, but why appears to be very much a mystery, as he never seemed to be doing any better than the rest of them. One wonders why he ever decided to marry Olive in the first place. However, the character who was really most central to much of the humour is Inspector Blake (Blakey), who, by the end of the show's run, would replace Stan as the show's central character.

The first five series (of the seven) are pretty flawless, where the writers, Ronald Wolfe and Ronald Chesney, effortlessly appeared to write brilliantly conceived situations, which in turn created many wonderfully memorable comedy moments. Incidents involving attempting to date clippies became a consistent theme for Stan, alongside many a domestic drama, involving a motor bike, a toilet, some do it yourself decorating, to name just a few. The humour is always very immediate, and laughs are plentiful. Wolfe and Chesney displayed a wonderfully light touch to their writing, where, whatever the circumstance, the show always maintained that wonderful feelgood factor. It was never really crude, or overtly sexual, unlike today. There was always a warmth, and a homeliness, whatever the situation. If anything, series three to five, shows the show at its absolute peak, which was around the time that Blakey's comedy credentials began to be utilised more fully. In many ways as Blakey actor Stephen Lewis grew into his part, and he became known for his many catchphrases ('i 'ate you Butler' being perhaps the most popular) and pained facial expressions, so he became the catalyst for so much of the show's greatest moments.

Towards the end of the fifth series changes were at hand, when the writers, Wolfe and Chesney, decided to relinquish their control of the writing of the scripts (to concentrate on one of the highly successful 'On The Buses' films). This gave amongst others, the opportunity for Bob Grant, who played the role of Jack, and Stephen Lewis (Blakey), to contribute scripts. In truth, and despite a number of really high quality episodes in the shows latter days, this marked the beginning of the end for the series. What seemed like a truly funny show in previous series' now began to seem all rather silly, where a truly farcical element began to dominate many of the storylines. The episodes began to rely a little too much on the character of Blakey, in all sorts of haphazard situations, while one or two of the main cast, including Reg Varney, had had enough and decided to quit. Those later shows really do seem rather thread bare compared with the show at its peak, as though outrage had replaced what was once a truly entertaining show, which was initially very high on comedic value.

This DVD release also includes a number of extras, including a couple of Reg Varney variety shows, and also the opening episode to the follow up series 'Don't Drink The Water' (starring Stephen Lewis' character Blakey), all of which perhaps have fairly limited appeal.

In retrospect, it is perhaps best when purchasing this boxset to concentrate on the first five series, and not take too much time pondering over the inadequaces of some the rest of what's on offer. It is those five series which show this sitcom at its very best. At that point it could pretty much hold its own with any other sitcom around, too, past or present. A mighty fine achievement, too, in my opinion.


Van Der Valk - Series 1-5 - Complete [DVD] [1972]
Van Der Valk - Series 1-5 - Complete [DVD] [1972]
Dvd ~ Barry Foster
Price: £33.80

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing, Well Written, And Underappreciated., 22 Sep 2011
Van Der Valk is first and foremost an absorbing, and on occasions truly great crime drama. True, in many ways it has maintained a low profile when compared with many of its seventies crime drama contemporaries, like The Sweeney and The Professionals (despite its theme tune 'Eye Level' making No1 in 1973), which is a shame, because it is equally as effective as those in terms of its scripts, acting etc., even though it is less physical in terms of its crime solving methods than those other series'.

The plots are ingeniously written, the acting consistently impressive, plus some unusual and impressive scenery, which of course is exclusive to this show, as it is set in Holland. The canals, trams, occasional windmills etc. certainly set the scene extremely well, as does the gritty realism involving the sometimes seedier side of Amsterdam (transvestism, prostitution, drug addictions etc.) in addition to the more mainstream crime themes (missing persons, murder etc.). It is certainly a long way from the very slick and glossy US crime dramas from the period. The late Barry Foster's portrayal of Van Der Valk is that of a no nonsense, rather brash and outspoken detective, although there are occasions when his wicked sense of humour comes to the fore. His wife, Arlette, is also a regular feature of the series. She's someone for whom he can share some of his grief, when a case gets a little too difficult.

This boxset consists of the five seasons that make up the series, stretching from the show's arrival in 1972, through to the feature length episodes from the early nineties. The seventies episodes consists of three seasons from 1972 (six episodes), 1973 (seven episodes) and 1977 (twelve episodes). The first two seasons are very impressive, although they perhaps are a little plodding in places. Van Der Valk here is well served by his sidekick, Kroon (Michael Latimer), who's relationship is a little reminiscent at times of the partnership between Karl Malden and Michael Douglas in the 'Streets Of San Fransisco'. Visually, the show was recorded on film for the outside locations, and video tape for the indoor studio based scenes which was common practice in the 70s. The third season from 1977, for me, is the best, where the show truly gathers pace. The show now has a more cohesive feel, as it was shot on location throughout, and the plots/storylines become ever sharper. This represents Van Der Valk at his peak.

Van Der Valk's return in the early nineties finds the show managing to maintain its hard edge, which to a degree feels fairly consistent with the seventies series. The plots are perhaps as strong too, although stretching the show's two seasons seven episodes to 90 minutes plus (instead of the show's previous 50 minutes), as was fashionable with more contemporary detectives such as Inspector Morse, Jack Frost etc. actually hurts the series a little. There seems too many distractions along the way with these stories, especially with regards to Van Der Valk's cop son, Wim, who also tends to have a hand in some of these cases, and also his wife, Arlette. Sometimes these stories, despite some very strong elements, can seem like too large an undertaking to fully enjoy at times.

Visually, the show perhaps could have done with re-mastering for this box set, as with some of the other more recent detective series' releases, but that's not really a very big issue for me. None of the shows look/sound especially bad quality wise in my opinion.

All in all, this box set is something i would highly recommend. (Look out also for some very famous faces in some of their early tv roles!)


Echoes
Echoes
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £2.69

7 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Will Re-establishes Himself Effectively In Part, 26 Aug 2011
This review is from: Echoes (Audio CD)
Will Young's 'Echoes' is the album i've most anticipated, eagerly perhaps, but also with a degree of trepidation, with regards to where his new direction would take him. Will is undoubtedly a great talent, whether within his vocal interpretation, or relating to the subject of his ever more personal themed songs. Will has certainly come a long way from his Pop Idol beginnings, where he's attained acclaim as a more serious musical artist. However, i have been less impressed with his material leading up to 'Echoes', namely the album 'Let It Go', and his last single 'Hopes And Fears'. I found his use of his upper range especially jarring, and rather forced within the context of more conventionally structured songs. However, Will's talent alone means that he has a great deal going for him, especially when compared, or contrasted, with many of his contempories. Sometimes, it's just a case of everything somehow falling into place.

The good thing about 'Echoes' is that the dancey, spacey and predominantly spare feel of much of the music (via the producion by Richard X) actually gives Will a little more room for his vocals to relax into the groove of the music without sounding forced, or at the very least not as forced as on the 'Let It Go' album, and not dissimilar in flavour to some of George Michael's output. To a degree the concept of this album fits Will relatively well at times. 'Lie Next To Me', 'Outsider' and a number of the other tracks are reasonably catchy, while the single 'Jealousy', and 'I Just Want A Lover' finds Will working in a more club orientated context, despite all these songs having the disadvantage of appearing extremely featherlight by nature. 'Jealousy' and 'I Just Want A Lover' are actually crying out for a meatier vocal from Will, but for whatever reason, he chooses to hold back. Most of these songs do tend to be a little too sticky and slickly produced to garner much reaction, than perhaps a feeling of boredom. The maturity, and more stylistically focused material found here, much in common with 'Let It Go', has actually stripped Will of the variety, and energy, and vitality, found within his first three album releases. The canvas he is working on now is actually much smaller than it used to be, although Will attempts to sound very earnest and sincere within his vocal application throughout, but an abundance in terms of personality is never forthcoming, and doesn't ever break through Will's serious, and extremely self consciously delivered tone. Certain fans of Will are bound to still like it, but for the more discerning listener, or less dedicated, it is more a case of being prepared to step into Will's exclusively snooze inducing world to be seduced, rather than appreciating something accessible with perhaps more mass appeal, and zest.

As i have earlier indicated, what perhaps i would have liked to have seen is a greater contrast between the songs, in terms of their character. Often the laid back mood can lead to a feeling of boredom. Maybe at times Will perhaps needs to open up a little more to a more diverse range of influences, instead of his seemingly slightly stilted musical and vocal detachment. Also, i'm hoping in future Will will be more forthcoming with regards to use of his lower range, and perhaps a much harder vocal edge, which a few of these songs are crying out for, which for me is one of his biggest strengths. All in all, 'Echoes' is a very slick and smooth collection of songs, bordering on extreme blandness in places (which happens to be much of the time). That said, the melancholic 'Hearts On Fire' actually works exceptionally well over repeated listens, almost hypnotically so, and proves that, given the less formulaic/pedestrian elements that appear predominantly on this album, Will could still at times prove effective within this musical genre.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 11, 2011 1:29 PM BST


The Rolling Stones: 1969-1974 The Mick Taylor Years [DVD] [2010] [NTSC]
The Rolling Stones: 1969-1974 The Mick Taylor Years [DVD] [2010] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Rolling Stones
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £10.86

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really Insightful Analysis, 4 July 2011
Like many of the other 'chrome dreams' related DVDs, 'The Mick Taylor Years' is an extremely effective documentary, charting the period when the Stones were arguably at their peak. The advantage of this DVD over the number which have been authorised by the group, is the fact that there is little pandering to the group, in terms of overwhelming praise etc, and irritating trivial small talk etc, and there is also a lack of gloss within the way the features contained on the disc have been arranged. It's pretty much a frank and substantial analysis, undercut with film clips of the Stones performing in concert from this period.

Musicians and journalists effectively review the Stones singles and album releases from the period when Mick Taylor first joined the group, to the time of his departure, and also the importance Mick Taylor had on their sound at this time. Taylor joined in the summer of 1969, but it was the previous year, around the period of 'Jumpin' Jack Flash', that this DVD properly takes up the story. It's a great time to start too, because 'Jumpin Jack Flash' marked a new era for the Stones within their rock/ blues sound, which would come fully to fruition once Mick Taylor arrived.

John Mayall, Nigel Williamson, Barney Hoskyns, Alan Clayson, and Robert Christgau, especially, give excellent commentaries on the various events that take place within the 1969-74 period. There is an element of huge praise for much of the Stones musical output during this time, yet they are not hesistant to vent their disapproval of elements of 'Goats Head Soup' and 'It's Only Rock 'N' Roll', as the quality of the Stones music begins to decline. The band's jet set lifestyle and drug habits are discussed quite comprehensively too, and are seen as the major cause of the Stones lack of inspiration.

As a behind the scenes look at the Stones, and as a critical, but fair review of their music, this DVD is pretty much indispensible. The fact that not all the critics agree with each other all the time, also tends to get the viewer thinking who's point of view they favour. John Mayall's contribution also marks a high point in giving details to the background to Mick Taylor's arrival on the scene. It's also great to see Taylor get the recognition he so richly deserves.


Stones In Exile [DVD] [2010] [NTSC]
Stones In Exile [DVD] [2010] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ The Rolling Stones
Offered by jim-exselecky
Price: £7.34

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, But Ultimately Not Particularly Satisfying, 4 July 2011
Of course it doesn't follow that a classic album should also spawn a documentary of a similar status, who's purpose is to uncover the background to the album. However, inevitably because of the greatness of 'Exile On Main Street', there is a hunger and an expectation that this DVD is going to deliver something equally rewarding. However, in a sense, this perhaps is a tall order, because the strength of 'Exile On Main Street' is actually within its music, and not within its storytelling. Needless to say, 'Stones In Exile' is nowhere near as satisfying a documentary, as 'Exile On Main Street' is an album.

There is a slickness, and an artiness within the way this documentary is directed, with its storytelling being overlayed with relevant photo's, and related video's, overlaying interviews by the members of the group and fans etc. which is informative to a degree, but the film fails to linger on what anyone has to say for very long. In a sense, style seems to dictate this documentary more than substance, although of course this film does touch on the basics, relating to the Stones becoming tax exiles and relocating to the south of France and recording in the basement of Keith's house, etc. The general mood of the times, and the almost communal living is also well explained, with interviews with the band themselves, as well as those associated with the group at the time, like Anita Pallenberg. The problem i have a little though is the fact that many of the guest interviewers who weren't around the Stones in this period tend to be geared up very much to talking about the myth surrounding the recording of the album, and the aura which has grown around this period in more recent decades, far more than any facts. They pretty much seem to be taken in solely with the legend of the Stones during the 'Exile' period. Conversely, the Stones themselves pretty much seem to be downplaying the period, and there's a strong sense that they aren't particularly interested in the nostalgia of it all. Maybe this in part is the reason that many important details relating to the recording are left out, especially that relating to the influence of Gram Parsons, and many of the sex and drugs revelations.

Those fellow artists interviewed, like Jack White, Sheryl Crow, and especially Will.i.am, in addition to the Stones current producer, Don Was, tend to trivialise things somewhat, and play too much on the 'coolness' of the Stones, and the 'evil' within their music, without really having anything interesting to say. They almost seem to represent the current celebrity obsessed culture, making the Stones perhaps appear more accessible in today's climate. There is a extras section dedicated to them, and it's pretty much the lowest point of this DVD. However, one of the features on the extras also provides the highlight - those of the extended interviews with members, and former members of the band. When Keith Richards, Mick Taylor, and Bill Wyman, are allowed to speak in extended form, without being woven into someone else's mold within the documentary, they are quite charming, and interesting, in a much more down to earth kind of way. Bill, especially, makes some quite amusing remarks about his fellow bandmates, Keith and Mick Taylor, and it's nice to escape the romantic, and iconic aura of 'Exile' for just a while. Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts also visit Olympic studios and Stargroves in an extended piece on one of the extras features, but this perhaps proves less satisfying, because their memories seem to be failing them somewhat! It is a fun piece though.

I think though, in retrospect, 'Exile On Main Street's music alone speaks for itself, without the need for this commercialised, and somewhat trivialised DVD release. The music influences within 'Exile' and the instrumentation etc. would have made for a much more interesting documentary. After all, 'Exile On Main Street', is primarily a great album, in a very non commercialised way.


Columbo Phile
Columbo Phile
by Mark Dawidziak
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Insight Into The Making Of Columbo, 30 Jun 2011
This review is from: Columbo Phile (Paperback)
So few books are dedicated to the Columbo tv show, at least in terms of getting the background information to the making of the series etc., so this book has especially a very special place within the hearts of many Columbo fans.

Writer, Mark Dawidziak, does a wonderful job in revealing many of the behind the scenes goings on, right from the time the Columbo creators came up with the original Columbo character (and even before), through to Peter Falk taking on the role, and beyond. Intelligently written, and concise, the great thing about this book is it doesn't overburden the reader with some over elaborate, long winded explanations, like some books tend to do, the style of writing is straight to the point.

The central theme, unsurprisingly, is Columbo actor Peter Falk. Not that the book's aim is to flatter Falk necessarily, because much of the information here relates to Falk's difficult side when working on the show. Ongoing battles with the tv executives over pay, Falk's insistence on numerous re-takes resulting in the show running well over budget, and also Falk's desire to have a greater role within the creativity of the series, is well documented. However, much deserved praise is also given to his portrayal, and the thought that perhaps he played a more than considerable part in the series' success. The claim is pretty much made that the show would never have been anywhere near as successful with anyone else, but Falk.

The series guide is also enlightening, as there is a detailed review of each storyline, and remarks by the author on the episode's effectiveness, and so on. Mark Dawidziak certainly knows his stuff, with regard to his analysis, because there is a strong sense of logic behind much of what he has to say. Not that i always agree with him, mind, there are occasions when i take the opposite view, but he always makes an extremely interesting case.

If there is a downside to this book it is that, being printed in 1989, there is no analysis on the later series, Columbo's return, so to speak. However, if you are like me, and feel that the original seventies series was Columbo at his peak, and the comeback series was always a very pale imitation, maybe the loss won't be felt too strongly. Having said that, it would be nice if Mark could perhaps come up with an updated version, because if anyone is qualified to do a follow up, he's your man. There are also times when perhaps he could go into greater depth into some of the things he only hints at here.

Being out of print, the price for this book does appear a little steep. However, if you truly love the series, i still wholeheartedly recommend it. You won't be disappointed.


Glamour, Greed & Glory: Dynasty
Glamour, Greed & Glory: Dynasty
by Judith A. Moose
Edition: Paperback
Price: £20.47

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could Have Been So Much More, 28 Jun 2011
Don't let the prospect of over 700 pages lull you into believing that this is a richly detailed book, which effectively brings you all the goings on behind the scenes in 'Dynasty'. Much of what's on offer is actually filled with trivia, which includes imaginary scenarios, like a long feature on the courtship of Blake and Krystle, pages and pages of photos taken from magazine covers and billboards of the cast of the series over the years, and a fashion item, with examples of the clothing worn, in relation to the merchandising of the series, when it was at its peak of popularity.

There are features which are a little more in tune with the background to the series, such as the way the characters were cast, an episode guide, and also a fan feature, where members of the public give their own reasons why 'Dynasty' holds such a great place in their hearts.

These features are actually quite relevant to a point, certainly from the perspective of a fan. However, much of the book seems less an authority on the series, than a collection of click and paste compilations by the writers, taken from fanzines, and internet forums, with no real overriding desire to ever scratch beneath the surface of the series to ever really reveal anything of substance. The photo's within the book also look as though they have been printed on incredibly cheap paper.

There is very little in terms of hard facts, or a detailed analysis, or any considerable research available by the writers into the background of the series, and any fan with perhaps a more inquisitive mind will perhaps find this book severely lacking. Any combined number of 'Dynasty' internet fanzine sites will perhaps serve the same purpose. All the writers appear to have done here is to arrange the information in some kind of an order, from the various sources.

If there is a redeeming feature, it is that this book is actually a lot of fun. It doesn't require a lot of concentration by the reader, and works reasonably well as a quick reference, especially if you are trying to keep up with the show's storylines. There is also a feature on the spin off series 'The Colby's', which pretty much serves the same purpose. However, ultimately, this book had the potential to promise so much more.


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