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Peter Wade (Colchester England)
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Lonely Avenue: The Unlikely Life and Times of Doc Pomus
Lonely Avenue: The Unlikely Life and Times of Doc Pomus
by Alex Halberstadt
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Can't Get used to losing You, 31 July 2011
Can't get used to losing you
Before the Beatles turned up songs were created by a group of pop composers who sold their songs to record producers who then produced demos to sell to the performers of the day. We used to have music as a class once a week and the teacher would play us a piece of classical music. It was like a general study as there was no exam in it. One lesson in about 1964 stuck with me when the teacher was discussing pop music. He said most pop music was produced by Jews and one kid in the class said that Ringo was of Jewish origin.
It was a revelation to me as all I knew about Jews is that they lived in Israel, I had never met one.
The teacher was right most of the pop music of the 50s and early sixties was produced by usually writing teams of two. After the Beatles first album they wrote all their own material. The Rolling Stones followed suite and Bob Dylan was credited with bringing down the Brill Building. This was where all the famous writing teams worked.
Pomus Shuman were second only to Lieber and Stoller for the number of hits they produced in the 50s and early 60s.
The story is amazing that a crippled Jewish bloke could first become a blues singer and then had a sparkling career as a song writer. He had his most successful time whilst he was with Mort Shuman but he went to Europe where he was feted and had great success.I learnt that he had a big French hit that I had not heard before Le Lac Majeur and with the beauty of Youtube I was able to listen to it and the French were right it is a great song that I missed.
Similarly when I was young in 1956 we did not have any Ray Charles in our house so I was able to catch up on Lonely Avenue another great song. John Lennon claimed it was the first song that the Beatles rehearsed
If you are a fan of fifties and sixties pop this is the book for you. I was impossible at the time to get any information on these subjects. It wasn't regarded as a suitable subject for television or the more serious newspapers. I only knew their names from reading writing credits on records
It has all changed now as television,radio and newspapers will tell you the ins and outs of every obscure self proclaimed genius in the pop industry. They will regale you with their inspirations their working method and what they have for breakfast. I want to hear about Lennon and McCartney, Pomus Shuman, Lieber and Stoller, Greenwich Barry,Goffin and King and Weil and Mann. These people were geniuses not some dopey bugger who has a couple hits and disappears.
It is as though the media is trying to make up for ignoring the greats and now want to find a genius under every stone so that they can say they saw them first.
Obviously I can't check the truth of anything that has been written but when a howler turns up such as calling the Dagenham Girl Pipers a group from Scotland page 164 but I suppose we can let him off as I assume he is an American.
There is only one Andy Williams song I really like and it was written by Pomus Shuman Can't Get used to losing you. It also seems that Andy Williams doesn't like it.
Great book for pop fans. I am moving on to Lieber and Stoller.


The War That Never Was
The War That Never Was
by Duff Hart-Davis
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great revelations on a little known war, 26 July 2011
This review is from: The War That Never Was (Hardcover)
Great revelations on a little known war
I was and am a reader of all the books about the post war period about conflicts that Britain was involved in. I was in Singapore when the Borneo confrontation started so I became interested in Aden but I was not aware of the complexities of the Egyptian invasion of the Yemen.
I did not hold out much hope that this would be an interesting or very revealing book. Some of them take the opportunity of retelling army myths as though they really did happen. This book is a great story and I learnt a lot of things I had not known before.
The only criticism is that he was writing it like a novel which is fine but then you must try and draw the characters like the characters in a novel so that you can remember them. I could have kept referring back to the dramatis personae but that would have slowed down the action.
During the sixties the British government used to deny a lot of things but we now know they were lying through their teeth. It was interesting the the US backed Nasser so they got that completely wrong. I always think you have to really rethink your options if the US is on your side you may end up fighting the war on your own or being dumped when you really need help, remember the scenes of the the fall of Saigon. We are supposed to be the US' closest ally and they are not always on our side when we need them.
It sounds like a completely different age that a small group of amateurs could run a war without the whole world knowing
It was also a period when a war in an Arab country was something exotic but now we have had out fill of fighting Muslims. The sixties was mainly a period of colonial wars in Africa mainly against communist inspired groups but this was a war against Nasser who was backed by the US. We appear to have got rid of the communists without fighting them but we have not run out of enemies.
The most amazing revelation was that the royalists for whom the mercenaries were fighting received aid from Israel. It goes to show a shared enemy can have you forming alliances with the most unlikely people. The trouble is once that enemy is eliminated your former ally has become stronger and is in a position to fight you which is what has happened in Afghanistan.
If you are an armchair warrior or nowadays a keyboard warrior this is the book for you


43 Mistakes Businesses Make...and How to Avoid Them: Your Expert Guide to Better Business
43 Mistakes Businesses Make...and How to Avoid Them: Your Expert Guide to Better Business
by Duncan Bannatyne
Edition: Paperback
Price: 13.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mistakes- I've made them all, 23 July 2011
Duncan Bannatyne 43 Mistakes Business make and how to avoid them
I have read all of Duncan Bannatynes books. I am sure he does not write them but he has a very good ghost writer who knows how to tap into what Bannatyne is good at which is giving advice on businesses.
It is an easy book to read at 225 pages.The best one is mistake 2 failure to take responsibility
I have been in business a few years and I have made every mistake in the book but it has always been my fault fir the wrong decisions. I have colleagues who confidently tell me the reasons why they are doing so badly is because of the competition. It is never because they are disorganised or lazy it is always someone's else fault.
The other main mistake is not understanding cashflow ( Mistake 20) It happens all the time n Dragons Den they talk in huge figures of what they might earn but not when the money might turn up. Without cashflow you are dead whether or not you have big contracts or not.
Mistake 39 Thinking markets will never change. I watch restaurant inspector and usually they have had a god business but it goes away because the market has changed. You should be thinking about your market on a daily basis and trying to evolve to survive
If your business is failing there are a range or reasons and a range tactics will get you out of it. This book is a great starting point all the answers are in it.
Dragons Den starts again this week and I will be watching all the episodes. It amazes me how many people are so fundamentally deludes into thinking that just because they have invested something that the world will beat a path to their door and all they need is the Dragons money to build it.


Secrets, Loves and Lip Gloss
Secrets, Loves and Lip Gloss
by James Harman
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great singer-sadly missed, 10 July 2011
Great singer- sadly missed
A few months ago I thought about Kathy Kirby who I had not heard of for a long time. She was an amazing singer between 1963-65. I had seen her on the Wheeltappers etc but she had then disappeared from the scene. I loved her version of Secret Love as she had such a strong effortless voice.
I was surprised to see she was still alive but was living the life of a recluse. She had been ridiculously famous in the early sixties and was reputedly the highest paid girl singer of the time.
I looked her up and it gave a resume as to why she had been dropped. It suggested that her lover/ manager Ambrose had become jealous when she had an affair with Bruce Forsyth.
In the sixties there were always stories about drink and being unreliable.
I always assume that if someone has been very famous and talented and then drops like a stone then they have upset someone and you learn in the biography that is what she did in spades.
The beauty of Youtube is that you can see her great performances and see again why she was so famous.
It is an easy book to read and I read it very quickly as I wanted to know as much as possible. Unfortunately the pictures are badly reproduced as though they are photocopies and the book has no great depth as though it was entirely made up of anecdotes by the author and the research was done only in the archives of newspapers. The author has done us a favour by preserving all this information. I am sure one day there will be a more literary biography but it is still a great read about a very interesting life.
Now with her recent death we will never see her comeback.


P'tang, Yang Kipperbang [DVD]
P'tang, Yang Kipperbang [DVD]
Dvd ~ John Albasiny
Price: 5.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Great evocation of 1940s Britain and first love, 24 April 2011
I have liked all of Jack Roesenthal's plays. For some reason I have only just got round to watching this film even though it has been around snce the 1980s.

I had no preconceptions so I was very pleased with it. It is an evocation of 1940s Britain along side a coming of age comedy. It took me a while to realise that the title and the catchphrase is just completely made up and is meaningless. The idea of the John Arlott voiceover reporting on his sucess and failures is very clever. John Arlott had a great voice.

Alison Steadman was very good as the teacher who is having an affair with the school caretaker who is not all that he makes out to be.

It reminded me of the well crafted Plays for Today and the Wednesday Plays that I used to watch in the and sities seventies

So unlike U S teen movies this was the real thing.


Carry On Girls [DVD] [1973]
Carry On Girls [DVD] [1973]
Dvd ~ Sidney James
Price: 5.50

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the best carry on but as good as any, 23 April 2011
This review is from: Carry On Girls [DVD] [1973] (DVD)
Not the best of the carry on films as this was definitely their later period.

Some of the stalwarts are not there with no Kenneth Williams, Hattie Jacques or Charles Hatrey but Sid Jmmes,Barabra Windsor and Bernard Breslaw make up for this.

The storlyline as usual is supposed to be suacy but the only thing unusual about a beauty contest in 1970s Britain would be that anyone would bother holding one. This of course created the comic potential of it being opposed by the women's liberation movememt. ( what happened to them?)

It is of course an excuse to have a lot of the women in bikinis or just their underwear.

In these days of rampart pornography you get to see more on the average pop video.

It looked like the end of an era of that type of humour it is in reality a period piece. They were harmless comedies and apart from making fun of the pompous the humour was fairly mild.

Again if you like British comedy this is one of the classics. Not the best but entertaining enough


Are You Being Served? [DVD]
Are You Being Served? [DVD]
Dvd ~ Mollie Sugden
Price: 8.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Innuendo at is best, 23 April 2011
This review is from: Are You Being Served? [DVD] (DVD)
The Sunday Times called this film "feeble"

I was never an avid fan of Are You Being Served? as it did of course rely on all the steretypes tat we are not supposed tolaugh at any more. If you have forgotten what they were I will list them for you homophobic jokes, misogny, foreigners, sexual innuendo. It was an easy form of comedy and people loved it for many years.

We are not of course far too sopisticated to laugh at such stuff we now need graphic details of peoples' toilet and sexual habits with a large serving of eff and c words. This is how comedy had moved on. I am no prude you can eff and blind as much as you like but it has to be funny.

Sunday Times readers may be sniffy about this type of humour but it has lasted the test of time and still works. It is all very preditable but harmless. Frankie Boyle may not base his act on it but at least they did not laugh as disabled children

Good family fun worth a watch if you are a British comedy fan.


From dictatorship to democracy: A conceptual framework for liberation
From dictatorship to democracy: A conceptual framework for liberation
by Gene Sharp
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars This book brings down governments, 22 Mar 2011
This book brings down governments

I remember that Woody Guthrie had written on his guitar "This machine kills fascists" Perhaps this book should have the sign This brook brings down dictators.

I have to confess that I was completely ignorant of this book/booklet until I read a couple of articles about it in the press. I am surprised that I had not come across it before as I am an avid reader of books on insurgency and counter insurgency..
This is of course not a military book so that is maybe why I missed it even though it has been around since 1993.

The articles claimed that his works which were originally written for the Burmese has been copied and read by other groups around the world. As a result he is touted as being the person who created the wherewithal for the various freedom groups to take on the dictatorships in the Middle East and North Africa. As a result just this year Tunisia has fallen to a fairly peaceful revolutiion Egypt happened quickly and had a few casualties and as I write the coalition is attacking Gaddaffi in Libya.
There are rumblings in Yemen , Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. If what they say it true this is a very powerful book indeed. The Iranian government has denounced him as a CIA agent. I would like to write something half as powerful . It is interesting that these dictatorships seems to be more afraid of words rather than military power.

The book is 93 pages long and the first 78 pages is a discussion of his theories, The most important is his theory that violence doesn't work.

In a way he is right as you cannot take on the dictatorship upon their own terms. They have military force and that is a way they maintain their power.

In the past Che Guevara and Mao would advocate military force which might work against weak regimes but not against hard line ones.

He covers the dangers of negotiation which is another way that freedom fighters think they are going to take on the dictatorship. How can you negotiate effectively with a regime that has all the cards.

You have to attack the dictatorship at its weak points which you do through non violent struggle.

The nub of the book is the list of 198 methods of non violent protest and persuasion.

It is a like a book on non violent marketing methods.

A must read for both real and armchair revolutionaries


From Dictatorship to Democracy
From Dictatorship to Democracy

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book brings down governments, 22 Mar 2011
This book brings down governments

I remember that Woody Guthrie had written on his guitar "This machine kills fascists" Perhaps this book should have the sign This brook brings down dictators.

I have to confess that I was completely ignorant of this book/booklet until I read a couple of articles about it in the press. I am surprised that I had not come across it before as I am an avid reader of books on insurgency and counter insurgency..
This is of course not a military book so that is maybe why I missed it even though it has been around since 1993.

The articles claimed that his works which were originally written for the Burmese has been copied and read by other groups around the world. As a result he is touted as being the person who created the wherewithal for the various freedom groups to take on the dictatorships in the Middle East and North Africa. As a result just this year Tunisia has fallen to a fairly peaceful revolutiion Egypt happened quickly and had a few casualties and as I write the coalition is attacking Gaddaffi in Libya.
There are rumblings in Yemen , Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. If what they say it true this is a very powerful book indeed. The Iranian government has denounced him as a CIA agent. I would like to write something half as powerful . It is interesting that these dictatorships seems to be more afraid of words rather than military power.

The book is 93 pages long and the first 78 pages is a discussion of his theories, The most important is his theory that violence doesn't work.

In a way he is right as you cannot take on the dictatorship upon their own terms. They have military force and that is a way they maintain their power.

In the past Che Guevara and Mao would advocate military force which might work against weak regimes but not against hard line ones.

He covers the dangers of negotiation which is another way that freedom fighters think they are going to take on the dictatorship. How can you negotiate effectively with a regime that has all the cards.

You have to attack the dictatorship at its weak points which you do through non violent struggle.

The nub of the book is the list of 198 methods of non violent protest and persuasion.

It is a like a book on non violent marketing methods.

A must read for both real and armchair revolutionaries


George Formby: A Troubled Genius
George Formby: A Troubled Genius
by David Bret
Edition: Paperback

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Turned out nice again, 20 Mar 2011
George Formby A troubled genius

Turned out nice again

A few years ago I was in Egypt and we were trekking around a ruined temple and the sun was beating down. We were standing in the shade of the air conditioned bus which we were desperate to get back into.

Another Briton came round the corner and was sweating like me. He said

Turned out nice again. That was very funny and he was right. It was of course one of George Formby's famous catch phrases.

I seem always to have known his music even though being a southern I had not seen his films.

His most famous songs are standards like Leaning on the lamp post and When I'm Cleaning Windows are known by all. We are very lucky these days as we can watch all his performances on YouTube. Recently they were discussing on the radio as to why George Formby is still so popular since his death now 50 years ago whereas some of his contemporaries like Max Miller are not fairing so well. The answer is that his music can still be heard and his films are all still available and they still show them on the television.

I recently recorded and watched a couple of times Bell Bottomed George.

To me apart form the music he is as famous as Norman wisdom who only just died in his 90s and also had a large body of films that we can keep rewatching. It is like the Marx Brothers they still have all their films that we can see

George Formby is an unlikely hero as he was so gawky and he always got the girls in the film much like Norman Wisdom but he was also a great performer as a singer and player of the ukulele.

I realise as I get older and read about the music hall stars and comedians of the past where certain expression came from. My parents would come out with catch phrases or parts of catch phrases such as I'm coughing better tonight and that was George Formby Snr's catch phrase and people thought it was very funny even though the comedian was terminally ill.

The interesting part of the story is how his wife Beryl Formby became his manager and ran his career. It could be argued that without her he would not have been as famous as he was. She dealt with all the business end and he did the singing and acting.

She was fanatical about him not having liaisons with other women and in his film Boots Boots he chatted to a young actress Betty Driver who is still in Coronation Street. Beryl was jealous even though the actress was only 12 at the time. She did the same with all the other leading ladies.

She would approach song writers and insist on George being given a share of the writing credits in exchange for George singing the song. Generally she would buy the copyright outright. This was very acute but just goes to show how cut throat show business has always been. The theory is that it is a recent phemonon whereas it has been round since time immemorial.

Today people complain that celebrities are manufactured but it has always been so. George was part of the fraud and would claim that he had wirtten the songs when he knew he hadn't

Beryl would dominate but the thoery is he liked it. She would demanded the highest fees argue over contractual details which swelled the Formby coffers beyond even her expectations. He was the highest paid performer in Britain but was allowed five shillings pocket money a day.

The saddest part of the story is that his family squabbled over his will that cut them out and left everything his fiancee after Beryl had died before him. He had nothing to do with his family but they expected him to leave his money to them and is was not settled for years after his death.

If you are a George Formby fan this book is a must read and gives you an insight into his life. We have all his films and music so we can revisit his genius anyday we like He was a great performer even into the late 1950s when you would have thoguht his humour and act was old hat but the public loved him up to the end.

If you don't believe me look him up on Youtube and you will have to agree he was a great artist.
His films are reshown on television and I for one will be watching them all. Turned out nice again.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 31, 2011 12:03 AM BST


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