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A Taste of the Unexpected
A Taste of the Unexpected
by Mark Diacono,
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Food for thought, 13 Mar 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have around 30 gardening books I've picked up over the years. Maybe 5 or so regularly come off the shelf. Another 9 or 10 will make an occasional contribution and the rest are rarely consulted, except on occasion for inspiration. Gardening being a slow process it'll be a while before I can tell which category this one will fall into but probably the intermediate one is favourite.
The author attempts to combine the gardening fork with the culinary one and that's been done before by the likes of Monty Don and Bob Flowerdew . This contribution is decidedly aimed at the upmarket gardener with a strong interest in cooking, or perhaps the the upmarket cook with a mild interest in gardening.
The author makes a fair point in that many of us fall into the trap of growing the same vegetables every year and there must be more than me who have carefully nurtured a cauliflower to deliver it proudly to the kitchen only for it to have a brief visit to the fridge before being returned to the compost heap. He strongly argues for growing only produce that's expensive to buy. (I suspect it may also be expensive to grow too. We are given websites but little indication of the cost of Egyptian walking onions and the like.)
The recipes look like all recipes to me. Very nicely presented, (I'm getting hungry just writing this) and completely beyond my skill base, although to be fair that's pretty low. There is an attempt to convey the gardening basics in the form of a page on sowing, composting etc, but this is primarily a cooking book, e.g. there is no mention of crop rotation.
Overall it's a beautifully presented book which may well inspire me to have a go at new crops. A beginner gardener will need more than this and don't give it to anyone with kids, they'll never have the time. It could be a result for Mother's day though.

Bob Dylan by Greil Marcus
Bob Dylan by Greil Marcus
by Greil Marcus
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fasten your seat belts its a bumpy ride, 9 Mar 2011
This a collection of reviews, articles, lecture notes etc. that Marcus has published, mainly regarding Dylan, but also stretching to other related topics, especially the 1950s collection of American traditional songs published by Harry Smith.
Marcus puts his credentials as a Dylan fan right out front in the prologue, "Where I came in". At a 1963 Joan Baez concert he is smitten with the Dylan bug early. Even more impressively he catches Dylan having a fag by a nearby tent. "You were terrific ", he says,( well you would). "I was shit, just shit" says Bob. Well again he would.
This is pretty much the layout for the rest of the book, except its Marcus telling us what's shit and what isn't, starting of course with the famous review of Self Portait in 1970. Actually his review of the album isn't the diatribe one would expect from its title, "What is this shit? He finds more positive things in it than I could but the importance is in the surface tabloid headline style of response that pretty much sets the tone for the rest of collection. Marcus either hates something so much he'll dismiss it entirely as drivel, e.g. the Hard Rain 76 album, or he likes it so much he'll write an impenetrable book about it ,(see Like a Rolling Stone, or worse still the Basement tapes/Invisible Republic).
All this reminds me of gloriously drunk Dylan arguments at University. I had a mate once (yes Ross it's you) who would drop a bomb of a statement in an argument just to liven things up. One of several explosion moments here is Marcus' assertion that `You're gonna make me lonesome when you go, (Blood on the tracks) is a certified stinker'. Whaaat?
There is also almost a total ignoring of the Rolling Thunder tours, where were you Griel? I could go on but unlike Marcus in his obsession with all things about the Harry Smith collection, I won't. To be fair and to return to the prologue Marcus states illuminatingly, ".....I stand by everything that's here, even when its wrong -in the midst of a conversation.....the heat can't always be separated from the light. "
There is much to enjoy of both here and overall the reviews are mainly positive, often surprising and nearly always entertaining. It only looses a star as there are several moments when the digression from the main subject becomes rather verbose. Well worth it for the committed fan.

A. Enlightenment B. Endarkenment
A. Enlightenment B. Endarkenment
Price: 11.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars God minus sense of humour = disappointment, 16 Feb 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I'm always wary to throw even a little cold water on a such warm reviews but I'm still slightly disappointed with this after several listens. This is surprising on several counts. Firstly its my fourth RWH album and I rate the guy very highly (see other reviews), he is certainly on my must see live list.
Secondly it takes off very well, nothing wrong with the title track and things get even better with Drunken poet's dream, although co-writer Hayes Caryll's version is even better. Down home country blues is one of the best I've heard from him and 3 tracks in I would have bet money I'd be saying the same thing about the album as a whole.
Unfortunately although the change of pace on the next track, wasps nest, is ok, for me at least it signals a dip into the ordinary from which the rest of the cd struggles to recover. Pots and pans is again ok but its a simple blues stomp that goes on a bit without much respite from the 'repeat 3 lines and add a slightly different one'-apart from some rather fake moaning.
Tornado rise starts with a slow slide where Ray falls into his habit of practically talking the lyrics, it gradually takes off into a churning slow blues guitar before sinking back into the slow paced narrative. Again this is ordinary by the man's high standards.
Whoop and holler picks up the pace with rough hewn but still happy clappy gospel.I know Ray's swapped the bottle for the bible but usually the quality of the music is enough for us atheists to tolerate the preaching -see later- Black wings and 'loose' approach usual form and with a strong finish it could still have come in with 5 stars. Unfortunately the last 3 tracks "Every day is the day of the dead", "Opium" and "The four horsemen of the apocalypse" quickly dive into dirge territory again. Its an anti- climax of an ending with Ray returning to the bible for his material in a similar fashion to Dylan in the early 80s.
Phew-sorry to go on-I really like this guy and wouldn't want newcomers to be put off. If that's the case with you go for "Growl" or "Dangerous spirits" before you take on this one.

Hard Luck Guy
Hard Luck Guy

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard luck is right, 15 Feb 2011
This review is from: Hard Luck Guy (Audio CD)
I've just been giving my Eddie Hinton albums their first listen in a while in the wake of the Drive by truckers tribute to him on their latest album. This is a very fine Alabama soul album. It rivals my other favourites, Letters from Mississippi,and Very extremely dangerous, as the best from this overlooked genius. It may even have the edge, a little bluesier in places, e.g. watchdog, but mainly stunning country soul (without any wimpy strings, we're talking Muscle Shoals horns here)-a great cast of musicians, Spooner Oldham, Dann Penn, Donnie Fritts, Johnny Sandlin and of course Patterson's old man on bass. A great contribution from this great artist.

Go-Go Boots (Digipack)
Go-Go Boots (Digipack)
Price: 4.99

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Go go get it, 14 Feb 2011
This review is from: Go-Go Boots (Digipack) (Audio CD)
Once again the Drive by Truckers deliver an excellent album. This is a lot closer to the Muscle Shoals roots of Patterson Hood than some of the previous albums. Hood's father David played bass on many sessions, as did Eddie Hinton, who is surely one of the great hidden gems of American white country soul-check out the Testifying/country soul compilations of a few years back to get more of this kind of music. One of the two Hinton tracks, Where's Eddie? covered here (sung by Shonna Tucker)is present in a great version on Vol 1 by Bonnie Bramlet. If you are taken with the fantastic "Everybody needs love" then you have to check out the original in Eddie's magic: "Letters from Mississippi" album-see separate review.
Back to DBT-I have nearly all the albums now and continue to be stunned by their songwriting skills. The standout originals here have to be "Used to be a cop"-a brooding moody guitar track over yet another engaging narrative- Ray's automatic weapon-more PTSD fall out-with Vietnam vets instead of cops.I think Cooley's numbers are a little behind Patterson's on this one, but its all relative and there isn't a bad track in sight-better still I know from experience it will continue to grow on me as all the other have.
Incidentally if you were lucky enough to catch the free gig in London last week and get the extra disc you'll know they are equally adept at playing acoustic guitars to a tiny audience as they are at lifting the roof off to a large one. Thanks lads.

Letters from Mississippi [VINYL]
Letters from Mississippi [VINYL]
Price: 10.50

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everybody needs this one-especially Drive by Truckers fans, 13 Feb 2011
If your tentatively browsing Eddie's albums after being impressed by the two songs included on the Drive by truckers latest album this is the place to start. Its a wonderful collection of songs from two sessions recorded in Muscle Shoals/Alabama back in the mid-80s. David Hood (Patterson's dad) plays bass on one of the sessions and other stalwarts such as Jimmy Johnson also appear to great effect. The standout tracks are the first 4-My searching is over, Everybody needs love, Letters from Mississippi and Everybody meets Mr. Blue. I bought it on a whim years ago and I was totally amazed by the raw soul and feeling of Hinton's voice. The band(s) are also top notch and most of the other tracks while not quite as brilliant are still consistent enough to make this an easy 5 stars.I have 4 of Eddie's albums including the well thought of Very extremely dangerous but this remains my favourite.

Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 5.81

4 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Trouble listening to it all the way through, 23 Jan 2011
This review is from: Trouble (Audio CD)
Firstly people new to this guy would do well to ignore all the above references to Dylan, Springsteen and Van Morrison -(James Morrison more like and not the dead one)
-this isn't terrible but it is what used to be filed as "easy listening"-nothing wrong with that if that's your bag. There are weepy strings on nearly every track-just this side of James Blunt -and there are times when you could be fooled, if you had just entered the room, into thinking this is an alternative country album, no doubt the production making its mark, and with the only uptempo track-"How Come" you get a blast of early Steven Stills-like Buffalo Springfield-but God even this goes killing man,killing man, then its right back to the Chris Rea/Colin Blundstone band. Don't let the producer credit fool you, you'll run a mile if you are a Ryan Adams/Kings of Leon fan and you buy this. Mine will be on sale again very soon.....
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 5, 2013 1:13 PM BST

Chuck Berry: The Autobiography
Chuck Berry: The Autobiography
by Chuck Berry
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Stick to the day job, 22 Jan 2011
Published in 1988 this is the story of the highly influential Berry told very much by the man himself. Unfortunately Chuck's insistence on going on his own with the book is a mixed blessing. Apparently he began it in 1959 only for other priorities to get in the way and resumed writing during a short prison stretch for tax evasion in 1979. You can't help wondering why the second delay, search for a publisher to put up with him perhaps?
In any case its a patchy effort. Much of it is written in the style of an earnest 16 year old. I've no doubt Chuck had other priorities at the time than English composition but if his proficiency as a guitarist/song writer/performer was at the same level we would never have heard of him.

The first half is by far the the best. He is genuinely engaging in his description of adolescence, early trouble with the law, (armed robbery no less, albeit with fake gun.), unrequited love, early sexual experience etc. Unfortunately he seems to have assumed his continued pursuit of such habits of peeping at unclothed ladies to be of more interest to us than his music. Once we get past his first hit: Maybellene -there is precious little insight into his music career. Instead we got told about his business interests, tax problems etc, and always there is his strange attitude towards sex. He devotes at least three complete chapters to various women and while he is largely coy about his 'relations', with them, he does provide several clear contenders for the worst sex writing prize,
e.g."Only the voluptouesness I had anticipated over the months I had known her mattered in those minutes. Little was heard except the sound of human pleasures passing."
Worse still are the incessant poems he keeps dropping in:
"But from all the women I've been with
The beautiful thing I cite
is the pleasure that I've found
In the yellow and brown
Is equal to that of the white."(final verse of 10.....)

At one point Chuck is proud to tell us that he has never been divorced, this seems down to the tolerance of Mrs. Berry to me. He also promises us a further book devoted to his sexual appetites (My ding a ling perhaps) -----although won't divulge why he has a fantasy of himself as a negro houseboy in plantation me there Chuck.
There are of course points of interest along the way. Its just that Chuck doesn't seem too interested himself, eventually listing his likes and dislikes as if he was being interviewed for a teen magazine in the 60s.
Overall this is tedious and strays into the embarrassing far too often.

The War [DVD][2007]
The War [DVD][2007]
Dvd ~ Ken Burns
Offered by adfilms
Price: 33.70

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First degree Burns, 19 Jan 2011
This review is from: The War [DVD][2007] (DVD)
Ken Burns presents a 5 disc, 14 episode account of America's experience of WWII. A 6th disc of extras consists of a War information film about one of the towns featured, Mobile, plus examples of deleted interviews, and perhaps of most interest,a 30 minute "making of the film " feature. I don't usually watch those but in this case its very worthwhile and puts some of the problems of the project in context and may even be worth watching before the main event.
The first difficulty is clearly the volume of the footage to deal with, another is the scale of the carnage and a third our own familiarity with this material. Its part of the human condition that we are shocked when we see the violence of a road accident at close quarters yet we can let the enormous suffering of hundreds of thousands pass by on screen with scarcely a flicker. Burns wisely tries to concentrate his focus by choosing 4 towns, Sacramento, Mobile, Waterbury and Laverne. We are introduced to a core group of survivors of the time and so trace their experiences from Pearl Harbour to VJ day.
The combat footage required careful matching of authentic sounds to silent films, and though this is done masterfully the problem of war documentary fatigue remains. Burns employs his trademark techniques of using extensive stills,often gradually zooming in so we can take in the details, together with evocative music of the time, plus specially commissioned contributions in the jazz style from Wynton Marsalis. This approach will be familiar to those who have seen the marvelous Civil War documentary from the same director. It doesn't work quite as brilliantly here, partly as much of the jazz score is quite jaunty and this makes an awkward juxtaposition with the tragic material. In addition many of the Civil War stills were clearly posed for and carefully composed, given the rarity of photographs at the time. The old stills themselves are presented as valuable survivors while once again the impact of the 40s photos is diluted with familiarity.
This is still a sensitive, intelligent and beautiful film. I was prompted by it to watch the earlier series once again and was struck by the irony of the treatment of the black population in the army and the home front which remained in WWII. Also the fact that the last civil war veteran, died in 1959, together with 1939 footage of veterans meeting the president links the two films. I'm sure Burns didn't intend it to be Americans at War pt II but it is interesting to compare the two projects and view it in this light.
Finally there is always a guilt factor involved in watching real people experience real horrors but Burns and his team show exemplary restraint in this project and are to be congratulated once again.

Rough Mix
Rough Mix

4 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ronnie Jekyll meets Pete Hyde, 29 Dec 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Rough Mix (Audio CD)
Recorded in 76/77 I expect Townsend's stock was doing a little better than Ronnie's at the time. One of the great under rated uk artists of the 70s teams up with with one of the most over rated. It shouldn't take long for those coming new to this album to work out which is which.
Lane split with his band early in the decade to form Slim Chance and go on a ramshackle tour around the U.K. A kind of English Rolling Thunder, maybe they should have called it the Spitting Rain tour. Somehow along the way he managed to produce some absolute classic music, closer to roots than pop. His original albums are all worth seeking out, all flawed but still beautiful.
Which brings me to this one. Lane fans wil not be disappointed with his contribution. There are 5 songs attributed to him, all worth having. My NME book of rock (1972) described his post Faces music as; "countrified, spirited and utterly without pretension", that's what he brings to the party here, but he must have just partied when Townsend showed up with his stuff.
Its the opposite of the above, contrived, sterile and totally pretentious. He just about gets away with a couple of half decent pop songs, a couple of instrumentals with the help of Clapton on guitar, but then comes up with a totally unlistenable, "Street in the city". Not content in rhyming 'paper' and 'Cambridge raper', he throws in; "What a shame, who's to blame? for the pain." All wrapped up with a horrible orchestral arrangement this comes in at 6 minutes and is followed by an overblown 'Heart to hang on to' which is only slightly less painful.
Make sure you have a skip function on your CD.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 26, 2013 5:40 AM GMT

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