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Big Si (England)

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Spectre
Spectre
Price: £4.99

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Another disappointment......., 27 Oct. 2015
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This review is from: Spectre (Audio CD)
It was with dismay that I heard that Thomas Newman had been rehired to score this latest Bond film. His newest effort confirms that whilst he is a very talented man, he is simply the wrong choice of composer to score a Bond film. The problem is that Newman is a composer of mood music, whereas John Barry was more thematic and melodious in his approach.
Now shouldn’t we move on from these arguments – Barry died four years ago and last scored a Bond movie in 1987? But such was Barry’s indelible mark on this series that for me his scores are an absolutely pivotal element of the 007 DNA and it is the job of any new Bond composer to replicate that sound. Newman not so much replicates John Barry but replicates his previous Bond score, ‘Skyfall’, to the extent they’re practically indistinguishable. Barry reused his ‘007’ theme in five different films but his supreme gift was his brilliant arrangement of music: five times he used that ‘007’ theme and five times he made it sound different. Just think back to any one of his scores: the capsule in space from ‘You Only Live Twice’, the journey to Piz Gloria from ‘OHMSS’: a world away from the over-produced ambient noise on offer here.
Sam Smith’s song is not featured on this album. The melody itself is enhanced by a great orchestral accompaniment but I am of the view that a different vocal style would have enhanced the song.
So, where next? Well in my option I think the producers could do a lot worse than hire Alexandre Desplat or Michael Giacchino; two composers who are capable of writing great melodies in the Barry style. If they are looking for somebody closer to home, why not try Daniel Pemberton, who recently scored ‘The Man From UNCLE’ and who wrote a terrific Barryesque score in the style of ‘The Ipcress File’ for the TV series ‘The Game’?
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 2, 2016 12:11 AM GMT


The Betsy (OST)
The Betsy (OST)
Price: £26.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A welcome re-recording, 26 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: The Betsy (OST) (Audio CD)
Whenever I think of John Barry I always think of those incredible Bond soundtracks and those Oscar-winning scores. This is always tinged with regret: I wish he had scored more movies in the 2000s; I wish he had done one more Bond score; I wish he had won one more Oscar. And since the composer’s death in 2011, that feeling of sadness has increased because there will never be another John Barry score. Following Barry’s death there was an initial influx of re-releases but these have been very thin on the ground of late. Therefore, this re-recording by the City of Prague Philharmonic of ‘The Betsy’, under the baton of Nic Raine, is very welcome indeed. Granted, these aren’t the original recordings. This isn’t even one of the composer’s best scores. In fact I’d go as far as to say there isn’t anything here that’s startlingly original. However, on hearing this score there were simply little moments and phrases which instantly evoked works such as ‘Walkabout’, ‘Mary Queen of Scots’, ‘King Kong’, ‘Americans’, ‘The Cotton Club’, ‘Until September’ and many others. Just those little touches in the orchestration and melody that immediately signifies that unmistakeable John Barry sound. And as such, I would recommend this soundtrack to anybody interested in John Barry’s scores – for me, it was like saying hello to an old friend.......


Skyfall
Skyfall
Price: £7.99

45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The lost art of film composing......., 29 Oct. 2012
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This review is from: Skyfall (Audio CD)
Bringing in a new composer to score a Bond film is invariably risky. Such was John Barry's indelible mark on the series that each new composer, from George Martin to David Arnold, has pretty much been in a 'no win' situation. Make it sound too much like Barry and you're not doing anything original, stray too far from Barry's style and you're not staying true to the musical heritage. My view - one I know won't be shared with everybody - is that the music should sound as close to John Barry as possible; the sound of Bond is as much part of the Bond formula as the pre-title sequence, the exotic locations and the fabulous sets.

So now we have Thomas Newman's score to 'Skyfall'. Firstly, the score DOES work in the context of the movie, in the sense that having seen the film, the score doesn't sound intrusive or out-of-place in the way Eric Serra's music from 'GoldenEye' was. Listening to this album, there are some tracks, invariably those from the Shanghai section of the movie, that are moody and atmospheric. Newman's theme for Severine is also really very Barryesque.

Unfortunately, Newman doesn't bring anything new to the table as regards his approach to the action music, which is pretty similar to David Arnold's method in my view. This is where John Barry tended to excel; just a quick look back at the soundtracks of his Bond scores and one can see track after track where Barry would write melodic and memorable action music: 'A Drop In The Ocean' from 'You Only Live Twice' and 'He's Dangerous' from 'A View To A Kill' are just two (of many) examples. Barry's approach was, in my opinion, much more thematic: one would hear themes repeated and built up over the course of the movie, so that they became memorable.

What we have in 'Skyfall' - and the track 'The Bloody Shot' is a prime example - is just incidental music which one would find in everything from Bourne to The Dark Knight. Although the Bond theme is interpolated into the score well, the rest of the action music (and there's a lot of it) just doesn't do anything. It doesn't go anywhere. And this is a criticism I'd level at Arnold as much as Newman. Perhaps my complaint is as much levelled at most of cinema music today, which tends to be over-produced and generic. Perhaps the era of artists like John Barry has gone forever?

One further thing: the song, performed by Adele, is very good indeed - the strongest opener for years - so why isn't it on this album? Full marks to Newman for incorporating part of it into the score but I wish he had been able to do this more often. Remember, the way the title song used to be woven into the score was a further feature of the early Bond soundtracks in which Barry excelled.

So, to close, this is not a disaster. Some of the tracks - the slower pieces in particular - work very well. And, crucially, it works for the film (by the way, the movie itself is a belter and the best since `OHMSS'). But perhaps a different composer could have a go next time though? For my money, I'd give the gig to Alexandre Desplat. Time will tell....
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 1, 2013 12:18 PM BST


Harry H. Corbett: The Front Legs of the Cow
Harry H. Corbett: The Front Legs of the Cow
by Susannah Corbett
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.99

50 of 54 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sets the record straight......., 18 Mar. 2012
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In recent years it has become fashionable to have a pop at Harry H Corbett: both a recent documentary and TV drama suggesting that he hated his Steptoe and Son co-star Wilfrid Brambell and that he was a serious, straight actor frustrated having to play situation comedy. Given that the aforementioned documentary stated that Corbett died in 1985 when it was actually 1982 (unbelievable that this is now 30 years ago), that the TV drama cast an actor wearing brown contact lenses when in fact Corbett's eyes were blue, and that I distinctly recall Brambell being very upset on TV's Nationwide on the day that Corbett died, I have always felt that the true story of Harry H Corbett and Steptoe and Son had not yet been told.
Happily this book, written by Corbett's daughter, herself an established writer and actor, puts the record straight. Whilst it's clear that Corbett and Brambell were never bosom buddies (Corbett was heterosexual, a socialist and a method actor, Brambell was homosexual, a Tory and an actor of the `old school') there was never the sort of blind hatred between the pair that the recent documentary and TV drama would have us believe. Rather, Corbett emerges as a remarkably un-cynical and self-effacing individual: serious about his profession but content to take what life throws at him.
This long-overdue book is a highly readable account of one of Britain's much-loved and now largely-forgotten actors; an actor who, had he lived, would probably have slipped back into serious roles in the 1990s (like David Jason eventually did). Whilst the book is prone to some extraneous detail (the plot synopses of Steptoe episodes drag a little) this should not detract from its overall impact. One senses that the author is attempting to set the record straight: in this she succeeds admirably. Forget what you have been told about Harry H Corbett over the last 10 years or so; you've been misinformed. A highly recommended book.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 20, 2012 10:12 AM BST


Best Of James Bond
Best Of James Bond
Offered by mrtopseller
Price: £6.00

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag, 28 Jun. 2010
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This review is from: Best Of James Bond (Audio CD)
A mixed bag. Some of the arrangements work - Goldfinger, The Man With The Golden Gun, You Only Live Twice, Licence to Kill - and especially those performed by the female vocalist. Some arrangements are just bizarre - 'A View To A Kill', for example, is simply surreal. The male vocalist is, I'm afraid, horribly miscast - he's completely out of his depth with this material and it sounds just awful. Given the title is 'The Best of Bond' I can't imagine why we've got 'Ride to Atlantis' presented here; it's pleasant enough but what about 'Space March' or '007' or '007 and Counting'? And, unforgivably, there's no 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service' either. What were they thinking? I know Carl Davis has worked with the RPO on this material over several albums but one is left with the feeling that the originals carry more verve and power. Take 'The James Bond Theme' - it just sounds anaemic and limp on this collection. Compare this version with David Arnold's on the 'Casino Royale' soundtrack and you'll know what I mean. The Bond Theme must be one of the most covered tunes of all time but rarely can anyone do it justice. It's usually ruined by inappropriate drumming in the middle or it's either too shrill or too slow. Just buy the originals!!!


Whatshisname: The Life and Death of Charles Hawtrey
Whatshisname: The Life and Death of Charles Hawtrey
by Wes Butters
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good...but overrated, 12 Jun. 2010
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On the plus side this book has been attractively produced and comes with a wonderful selection of photographs. Another plus is that it is so much better than Roger Lewis' atrocious 2001 'biography' which was nothing more than a disgraceful ego trip for the author himself. Butters' attempt is a significant improvement; he treats the subject-matter with respect and has done his homework (over many years) through trying to get to know what made Hawtrey tick. On this point, I don't think he has quite succeeded - perhaps this is because Hawtrey himself was so enigmatic and quirky and it has proved difficult to really get to know the subject-matter? For me, though, the book's style quickly became off-putting. The book consists of too many quotations and anecdotes, which makes the whole thing very bland and surface-level. I was left with the feeling that a better writer - Robert Ross perhaps or definitely Graham McCann - would have been able to weave a more convincing narrative. Read McCann's books on Frankie Howerd and Terry-Thomas; these are much better-crafted and really give you a flavour of the real men behind the public facade. I can't knock Butters for this book though as it really is a labour of love. He deserves many congratualtions for having written it. In my view, though, the 'definitive' story of Hawtrey's life has still not been told.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 1, 2012 10:03 AM BST


Haven For Sale / St Elmo's Fire
Haven For Sale / St Elmo's Fire
Offered by jim-exselecky
Price: £4.85

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly stunning, 25 Mar. 2010
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I was attracted to this CD through my interest in John Barry (Alan Haven played on The Knack...and How To Get It, The Chase, plus several Bond movies). This is well worth the money. I can't stop playing this CD. The organ has never sounded so lush and slinky. Do yourself a favour and buy this one as Haven must be the UK's best organist by a country mile. Pour yourself a large G&T, then lie back and think of England. You're in for a wonderful treat. Astoundingly good.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 15, 2013 3:29 PM BST


Doctor Who Hornets' Nest 1: The Stuff Of Nightmares (BBC Audio)
Doctor Who Hornets' Nest 1: The Stuff Of Nightmares (BBC Audio)
by Paul Magrs
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £9.98

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good to hear Tom but....., 10 Sept. 2009
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Oh dear, what a disappointment. Firstly, the major problem is that we were promised a full-cast audio and what we have here is really a 'two-handed' talking book with some music, sound effects and a couple of small, additional performances. Compounding the problem is the structure of the play. The first third is taken up with the tale being told by Richard Franklin, then a long section of the story being relayed by Tom, then a final third with the two main performers together. Not only is this structure off-putting it also seriously derails any suspense and drama. There are passages conveyed here that would have been really tense and exciting if they had unfolded in the manner of a 'Big Finish' audio. Magrs' story is actually a very strong and clever one but its execution is flat and feeble. Then there's Tom himself. This is difficult to put into words but I was always conscious whilst listening to this that I was listening to Tom Baker rather than the Fourth Doctor. I certainly disagree with other reviewers' comments that he sounds stale and tired; in fact he really throws his heart into the proceedings. But it feels as though the story was structured to accomodate the off-the-wall persona of Tom Baker rather than the fourth incarnation of the Doctor. There are some moments here where Magrs has the Fourth Doctor behaving in a manner that would have been inconceivable on TV. However, it IS possible to envisage Tom Baker behaving in this way. I'm really not sure whether I'll buy the other CDs in this series. Whilst it's a pleasure to have Tom back, one wishes he had participated with 'Big Finish'....
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 23, 2009 1:13 PM BST


Philips Nivea HS8020 Rechargeable Shaving System
Philips Nivea HS8020 Rechargeable Shaving System

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My objective opinion, 19 Aug. 2008
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Comments from other reviewers appear to be rather polarised, with many praising this as the best shaver ever, with others apparantly being less than impressed. My objective view is that this shaver falls between both stools. Firstly, this gives a very good shave indeed - there's no skin irritation and the product is really simple and easy to use. I would take issue with some of the comments suggesting that this gives as close a shave as a wet shave; it doesn't. However, I would also refute comments made by others that this product is over-rated; it isn't. You'll come away with a good shave and I'm finding that I'm using a wet razor every third day rather than every other day. In all, this is well worth the money (particularly as the RRP is actually 70 quid) and I would say this is a very good product indeed. Recommended!


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