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Og Oggilby "Og Oggilby" (North London)
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Original Album Series
Original Album Series
Price: £12.08

4.0 out of 5 stars Five Slabs of Lou Reed At A Reasonable Price..., 16 Oct 2014
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This review is from: Original Album Series (Audio CD)
One of the best ways of collecting a chunk of any given artist's recorded works under a cardboard slipcase, the Warners 'Original Album Series' is frequently a happy marriage of great music and affordability. At least four of the albums here (the exception being 'Set The Twilight Reeling') are amongst Lou Reed's finest ever recordings. At the time, 'New York' (released early 1988) was regarded as his best solo album - it's certainly one of the most consistently-rewarding listens, and to me much better than the often throwaway 'Transformer'. Songs like 'Halloween Parade' - which eulogises victims of AIDS is one of his most eloquent and touchingly personal songs, whilst other ruminations like 'Beginning of a Great Adventure' are thoughtful and even humorous. 'Songs For Drella', which reunited him with John Cale concerns Andy Warhol, and brings out the best in both artists. 'Magic And Loss' is a conceptual affair, around the deaths of two individuals to whom he was close to - the songwriter Doc Pomus, and a Factory scenemaker, It also contains some lovely songs; 'Set The Twilight' is a lesser work, whilst 'Ecstacy' features some savage stuff, which showed that Reed, though middle-aged by then, had lost none of his cutting edge. My only complaint is the loss of sleeve art and lyric sheets that reducing the albums to a simple cardboard miniaturised reproduction brings. I suppose, though, it's the music that counts, and this much good stuff, under one roof and at a reasonable price is a difficult proposition to turn down!


Gardening Myths and Misconceptions (Wise Words)
Gardening Myths and Misconceptions (Wise Words)
by Charles Dowding
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars with no photos but many sweet illustrations, would be an ideal gift to a ..., 16 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This rather neat little tome, presented in a retro style, with no photos but many sweet illustrations, would be an ideal gift to a would-be gardener, or indeed a more experienced horticulturalist. Charles Dowding writes in a clear prose style, and in his direct, but fluid way, sets about debunking those kind of myths and misconceptions of the gardening arts in a very readable and entertaining way. He'll take a gardening adage - like 'You can't grow tomatoes and cucumbers together', and then answer 'true', 'untrue', or 'partly true', and go on to explain why. It's not 'David Copperfield', but it's not meant to be; but for anyone who fancies gardening, has an allotment, or tunes in to 'Gardeners Question Time' on BBC Radio 4, it's a useful little accompaniment...


Bad Vibes: Britpop and my part in its downfall
Bad Vibes: Britpop and my part in its downfall
by Luke Haines
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

4.0 out of 5 stars His Aim Is True..., 14 Oct 2014
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'Bad Vibes' is Luke Haines at times brilliantly jaundiced, hopelessly partisan memoir on his 'career' in music in the 1990s. As has been noted elsewhere, Haines is determinedly outsiderist when it comes to his relations with the Music Business, and in 'Bad Vibes' he casts a bleary bloodshot eye over the Brit Pop circus that is going on around him, and it is entertaining stuff indeed. My main criticism, (and hence the docking of a star), is that it runs out of steam a little in the final thirty pages or so; I guess it's hard to maintain the level of bile and scabrous invective so masterfully manicured earlier on in the tome. Although I doubt very much whether Haines cares a jot whether you like him or not after having read the book, in the end, Haines comes across more as as a misanthropically disappointed individual than as a whingeing has-been that never quite was in the first place. He carefully describes the torturous treadmill of album recording / touring / promoting rigmarole, the often at times dire lot of the support band, bloated egos of some artists, daft decisions and awesome fickleness of fate. He also acknowledges his own failings (although not too often), but it's clear that Haines delights in being against just about everything, and if you read carefully, what he leaves out is the sense of what he is actually 'for'. A great book, with none of the kind of 'needless to say, I had the last laugh' tone of Alan Partridge's autobiography. I was never a fan of Britpop; reading this book reminds me why that was, and still is, the case!


Live 1961-2000: Thirty-Nine Years Of Great Concert Performances
Live 1961-2000: Thirty-Nine Years Of Great Concert Performances
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £30.81

4.0 out of 5 stars Like Dylan, it's all over the place - but in a good way!, 13 Oct 2014
Live albums are often a mixed bag - contract fulfilment, souvenirs of a successful tour - sometimes an excuse just to put something out. This single-disc, Japanese-only compilation of odds 'n' ends of live performances follows no kind of orthodox theme or pattern, nor is it. for that matter, even in any kind of chronological order. Doesn't stop it being in the main really rather excellent, and to my old lug 'oles a fine showcase of the majesty of Dylan, in a variety of live contexts - be it with a band, solo, or else with just a basic line-up. You can hear how progressively ragged his voice gets as he gets older, and the earlier stuff, such as a gentle strumalong version of 'Handsome Molly' and the 'Don't Look Back' era 'To Ramona', where Dylan really sounds like a supremely confident performer who knows he's getting good, and inhabits the song in magisterial style, contrasts nicely with the Older Dylan. Plus, the audience is clearly in utter thrall to his Bobness - he's got 'em in the palm of his hand, playing them like his harmonica. This set offers up a pleasing variety of songs and eras, and although I could not, especially given it's rather steep import price, recommend it to a casual browser, Dylan diehards should make it their own. The great 'electric tour' version of 'I Don't Believe You' is clearly where The Faces nicked the tune of 'Cindy Incidentally' from, by the way. An excellent set, and one I know that I will return to often. great stuff!


Original Album Series
Original Album Series
Price: £10.36

4.0 out of 5 stars Mersey-doats and Dozy-doats, 13 Oct 2014
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This review is from: Original Album Series (Audio CD)
In the wake of the unprecedented success of The Beatles, record labels made a mad dash to Liverpool to hoover up as many acts as possible to capitalise on what turned out to be a short-lived Pop phenomenon - Merseybeat. The Fabs didn't hang about to see their own obsolescence, moving on from 'yeah yeah yeahs' and hand-holding to something more substantial in a couple of years. However, EMI, having bagged the Mersey Big Beasts, then nipped in sharpish and signed up the likes of the acts featured here, on this neat, inexpensive little five album set, such as Gerry & The Pacemakers, The Fournost, Swinging Blues Jeans and Billy J Kramer & The Dakotas, amongst others. With the exception of The Fourmost, they were gifted a decent Producer in the shape of 'The Fifth Beatle', George Martin, and although these albums may rank low in terms of artistry, they come packed with an appealingly gormless charm, nasal vocal harmonies and a willingness to please that has real charm. I wouldn't have thought that they took much time to record - the song choices are pretty standard Beat fare, but it's fun, unpretentious music and makes a change from the over-produced pap of the present day. 'I Lie It', as Gerry & The Pacemakers once said...


Outsider / In - The Collection
Outsider / In - The Collection
Price: £6.46

4.0 out of 5 stars Luke Back In Anger..., 13 Oct 2014
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This gets four stars, not the five it deserves, because, being an inveterate LH fan, I really think you need to get his recorded works - be they Auteurs, solo, Baader-Meinhoff or Black Box Recorder - in their entirety. However, if you're looking for a suitably point of entry for his considerable body of work, this does do just fine, and it's modest price tag should be a good clincher on the deal. As the title suggests, Haines has always, defiantly, been a refusenik, a compulsive contrarian, and a resolute decliner of any rock and roll club that would have him as a member. This double CD compilation contains the would-be Auteirs hits - such as the utterly smashing 'Lenny Valentino', in it's 'single mix' incarnation, and the lovely 'Unsolved Child Murder' (I'd love to see an 'X-Factor' wannabe sing that), as well as a couple of tracks from the frankly disposable u-ziq dance remix set, and even those (somewhat duff) efforts, are not without a bit of 90's charm. The lyrical biliousness is tempered by some fabulous tunes and attractive arrangements, and then there are the musically more grumpy and angular experiments that add different dimensions...I could go on, but the music speaks far more eloquently...uneasy listening at its most magnificent.


Sound + Vision
Sound + Vision
Price: £17.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The Incredible Shrinking Box Set..., 13 Oct 2014
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This review is from: Sound + Vision (Audio CD)
Having been on the Bowie bus since 1972, and although not what I would call a 'nutty collector', I purchased this 2014 reissue of the Sound + Vision 4CD set because it is, frankly, a superb encapsulation of his nigh-on half a century of recording. As others have said, it's not a 'Greatest Hits', as other comps do that job more than adequately (and there's shortly to be yet another multi-format set, Nothing Has Changed), but rather a brave attempt to provide a panoramic sweep of his artistic achievements, beyond just the world of chart listings and platinum disc awards. It's essentially the EMI Sound + Vision box set of 2003, but reduced to the size of a CD. There are hits such as 'Sorrow', 'Boys Keep Swinging', 'Drive In Saturday', for example, but there are live tracks, outtakes and even some Tin Machine stuff for all you Bowie masochists out there, but even those tracks, taken in the context of a still-unfolding career (at something much slower than the glory years, of course) enrich and add more contrast to the fine musical fare within. retailing at just over fifteen pounds, it's a good investment for those who'd like to dig deeper in the Bowieverse.


Ultrasport Women's Nelli Running Shirt - Black, Large
Ultrasport Women's Nelli Running Shirt - Black, Large
Price: £29.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Stylish, smart and practical - a fine sports shirt, 9 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I acquired this garment via the Amazon Vine programme for my missus. She is very impressed with the running shirt; on the one hand, it works extremely well as a sports garment, being breathable, lightweight, and stretchy (it's of a 90% polyester / 10% spandex fabric), has useful features like a zip pocket (useful for keys or a mobile phone), reflective trims and details, but is actually smart enough to wear as a casual garment. On the other hand, we live close to the seaside, and having two dogs, it's a neat garment to wear to layer up when exercising the mutts on the beach, or when riding a bike. Retailing on Amazon at a shade under £30, it's good value, and highly recommended indeed.


Now I'm A Cowboy - Expanded Edition
Now I'm A Cowboy - Expanded Edition
Price: £14.58

5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Indie-Rock Album of the mid-1990s!, 2 Oct 2014
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The Auteurs debut album, 'New Wave', was an excellent record, not without its faults, and in Luke Haines, there had emerged a truly gifted singer-songwriter. The use of cello gave a different kind of grain and texture to the band sound, and Haines had that happy knack of being able to marry the right kind of . to match his excellent, intelligent lyrics. After such a fine debut, any band might find the follow-up a difficult hurdle to negotiate. No such difficulties here, though; 'Now I'm A Cowboy' is utterly superb. The album bursts vividly into life with the would-be Hit SIngle, 'Lenny Valentino', a driving, intense rocker full of controlled rage. However, the album is not just defined by splenetic rage; there's moments of real beauty - 'A Sister Like You' being a prime example. Even what sounds like a comparative throwaway - the original album closer, 'Daughter of A Child' with successive plays has an insidious beauty and charm. This expanded edition adds more lustre to the original album, and the bonus tracks are all worth having. Luke Haines was, and is, if not a Great Lost Talent, then certainly an unrewarded one. He seems to have become a kind of arch, acerbic commentator on the Britpop era via his caustic memoir, 'Bad Vibes', and his literary exploits are certainly savagely amusing and readable - but don't forget that, most of all, he is a supremely talent songwriter - and if you want evidence, look no further than 'Now I'm A Cowboy'.


Now I'm A Cowboy - Expanded Edition
Now I'm A Cowboy - Expanded Edition
Price: £14.58

5.0 out of 5 stars Just Buy It, OK?, 2 Oct 2014
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The old adage about 'difficult second album syndrome' is comprehensively blown out of the water by this, The Auteurs second album. After their 'New Wave' debut, this perhaps comes across on first hearing as being a little 'heavier', certainly in terms of the sometimes monumental chunks of hard rock guitar that pierce the audio fabric of the album. However, after a couple of plays, the subtle beauty of songs such as 'A Sister Like You' - a distant cousin of The Kinks' (a major influence on Auteurs main man Luke Haines) 'Two Sisters' work a real musical charm. even the album's original closing track, 'Daughter of a Child', which Haines has dismissed as something of a throwaway, is a gem of uncluttered and subtle song craft. This is one of the finest albums of the nineties, and in this incarnation, with a disc of extra material, as well as 'B' sides, radio sessions, etc, offers conclusive proof that Luke Haines is one of British Music's most gifted of singer-songwriters. Highly, highly recommended indeed...


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