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Hearts & Minds
Hearts & Minds
Offered by Direct Entertainment Supplies
Price: £4.74

4.0 out of 5 stars A more polished sound, 4 Oct. 2015
This review is from: Hearts & Minds (Audio CD)
Devon born folkie Seth Lakeman's fifth album 'Heart & Minds', released in 2010, was a commercial success, but it's one which seems to divide his fans. Some say that it is too overproduced, and the traditional sound is drowned out with the instruments. To a certain degree, I would agree with that, it's studio polished for sure, and notably different to previous releases which were reliant solely on Seth's passionate vocals and simple, but fantastic fiddle and guitar playing. Whilst I don't regard this album as one my favourites, I still enjoy it, and see this man as one of those rare people who is capable of bringing folk music up-to-date, and into the hands of a wider audience of mainstream music lovers.

Telling Stories
Telling Stories
by Tim Burgess
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly entertaining, 4 Oct. 2015
This review is from: Telling Stories (Paperback)
From the moment I picked up Tim Burgess' memoirs, I couldn't put it down. This was a very quick read for me, I managed to get through it all in just two nights, and was thoroughly entertained from start to finish.

The Charlatans' front man is no mean author in the traditional sense, but then again he's not a professional writer. What he is though, is a natural storyteller, and he has written his book in a chatty, conversational way, making it seem as though he is speaking directly to you. I really liked this style, it made 'Tellin' Stories' quite different to the average rock n rock autobiography on the shelves. Oodles of facts are scattered around it, but the text does follow a general chorological flow.

What comes across loud and clear is Tim's enthusiastic love for music, and he shares his encyclopaedia-like knowledge about the artists who have inspired him, he recommends so many songs for you to listen to, that you might just want to have a paper and pen handy to start a list.

It's all here in his book, the beginnings of The Charlatans in 'Madchester', their mainstream success, the music, frank confessions of his love for drugs, the armed robbery incident, smuggling, fraud, and all the highs and lows laid bare, including the unfortunate deaths of fellow band members. This is the story of survival, and Tim came across as a decent bloke, a good laugh, warm, witty, more than a little egotistical, and at times, selfish. However, he had to be the latter in order to keep the future and success of his band alive, and I admire him for it. Along the way, there are plenty of stories about his encounters with fellow musical icons, from the Gallagher brothers to Joe Strummer to Ronnie Wood, and they all make for good reading.

If you're a fan of Tim's band, 'Telling Stories' is a must read, if you're an inspiring musician, you'll find lots of inspiration, and if you're just looking for a good rock music memoir, you'll enjoy this particular ride. Illustrated throughout, and highly recommended!

The Hurdy Gurdy Man
The Hurdy Gurdy Man
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Another jewel in Donovan's crown, 3 Oct. 2015
This review is from: The Hurdy Gurdy Man (Audio CD)
Like all of the other re-issues of Donovan's albums that were released in 2005 to celebrate his 40 year anniversary, 'The Hurdy Gurdy Man' is given a great justice.

The sound quality is quite simply superb, the seven bonus tracks, including the interesting 1968 re-recorded versions of the hits 'Colours' and 'Catch the Wind', and the previously unreleased sexy duet with fellow scot Lulu (who was another recording artist who was being watched by Mickie Most at the time) 'What A Beautiful Creature You Are' complement the original track listing. The excellent booklet contains an in-depth essay by Lorne Murdoch, rare pictures, and memorabilia, and just by owning this superb edition of a classic album, produced by the legendary hit maker Mickie Most, makes you feel like a real collector.

The album contains much folk-pop treasure, including it's majestic opener 'Hurdy Gurdy Man', one of the Scottish troubadour's greatest songs with it's harder rock edge, and the enchanting 'Jennifer Juniper', both of which were wisely issued as singles. The jazzy 'As I Recall It', and the beautiful 'Hi It's Been A Long Time' have always been among my favourites which weren't released as singles.

'The Hurdy Gurdy Man' was the latest in what was a trio of seemingly endless classics from Donovan, released in 1968, following the excellent 'A Gift from a Flower to a Garden', 'Mellow Yellow', and 'Sunshine Superman'. Although his subsequent releases were good, I do think that this one marked his final five star album.

Donovan, the King of Flower Power gave us all some of the most superbly imaginative, highly influential, and timeless music of the '60s generation. Any self-respecting fan of the psychedelic-folk-rock scene needs a little bit of this man in their collection, and 'Hurdy Gurdy Man' is one of his essentials.

Kitty Jay
Kitty Jay
Price: £2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A rising star!, 3 Oct. 2015
This review is from: Kitty Jay (Audio CD)
Following the release of Seth Lakeman's second album 'Kitty Jay', it was shortlisted for the Mercury Music Prize for 2005. This is traditional folk music with a contemporary edge, and subsequent albums, in which he repeated the formula, have led to some much deserved mainstream success.

Let It Reign
Let It Reign
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Back to basics!, 3 Oct. 2015
This review is from: Let It Reign (Audio CD)
Carl Barāt is, in my eyes, an absolute legend. Although he has always been somewhat nudged into the shadows of the equally wonderful Pete Docherty, Carl has also made some excellent music away from The Libertines. His debut album with his band The Jackals, released earlier this year, marked a triumphant back-to-basics sound that is very reminiscent of the early Libs.

'Let it Reign' opens up with the anthem like 'Glory Days', which would probably have set the charts alight had it been released as a single in the mid noughties. Other great tracks include 'A Storm is Coming', 'Beginning to See', and 'March of the Idle', all of which have a glorious Britpop feel running through them. The album closes out with an irresistible guitar-driven ballad 'Let it Rain'.

This one will surely please fans of The Libertines, and in general, lovers of uplifting punchy punk music which is often aggressive, but always delivered by Carl with real authority and sincerity. If you like this cool man with his more than considerable guitar skills, you'll find lots to like about 'Let it Reign', which feels like an early prequel of sorts to the Libertines' long overdue comeback album 'Anthems For Doomed Youth'. Welcome back Carl, and lets have another one!

No Good Deed [DVD] [2014]
No Good Deed [DVD] [2014]
Dvd ~ Idris Elba
Price: £5.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Worth a watch!, 3 Oct. 2015
This review is from: No Good Deed [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
This home invasion movie succeeds in doing what it was supposed to do - it entertains.

Terry (Taraji P. Henson), an unsuspecting, but no shrinking violent woman, lets Colin (Idris Elba), a charming stranger into her home, on the pretence of him needing to use the phone. What she doesn't know is that he's unstable and dangerous, an escaped convict, and has chosen her house specifically with a reason. What follows is the terrorisation of herself, and her two young children.

With lots of back and fourth cat and mouse suspense, very strong acting from the two leads, and generally realistic in all areas, 'No Good Deed' is an enjoyable enough thriller which held my interest until the end. What was nice was to see that the 'victim', whilst portrayed as somewhat lonely and trusting, was ultimately very head strong and feisty. Terry was able to maintain her self control well, and if anything, it was Colin who was the weaker of two. For all of his amble charm and strength, he wasn't always the most quickest thinking of characters.

This is actor and director Sam Miller's first attempt at a widely distributed feature film, and a good mainstream debut. It brings nothing new to the genre, but is still worth a watch.

Lady of the Stars-Remast-
Lady of the Stars-Remast-
Price: £15.76

4.0 out of 5 stars Donovan: still making good records in the '80s, 30 Sept. 2015
Donovan's underlooked 1984 album has surfaced on CD many times over the years, but this one, digitally remastered and released in 2013, is the best edition available. As well as the crystal clear sound quality, it also uses the original LP cover for the CD as well, which is always something of a bonus for me, and all of the tracks are presented in the correct order.

By 1984, Donovan, the King of Flower Power in the '60s, had long since experienced a fall in popularity, his last notable hit was back in 1969. Because of this, it was decided that he should re-record two of his biggest hits to help the sales of 'Lady of the Stars'. Whilst the new versions of 'Seasons of the Witch' and 'Sunshine Superman' aren't a patch on the originals, it's still nice to hear these classics in another style as they were given a new lick of paint.

Donovan decided to re-record three more songs, the beautiful title track, dedicated to his wife Linda, which had originally appeared on his 'Donovan' album of 1977, along with 'Local Boy Chops Wood'. The other remake is 'Boy for Every Girl', an earlier song from the 1973 album 'Essence to Essence'.

The remaining five songs were brand new for this album, which had a more contemporary pop-rock sound that those glorious simple folk treasures that had made his name in the '60s, the world had simple moved on. My personal favourites of the new material are the last two cuts, the particularly lovely 'Living for the Love Light', which sounds as far away from the early Donovan as possible, and the upbeat 'Til I See You Again'.

Although a commercial failure, and far from Donovan's best album, there is plenty on 'Lady of the Stars' to satisfy the die-hard fans (of which I am certainly one of those), and maybe enough to win over a few listeners who didn't care for the vintage stuff. The packaging of this re-issue is fairly simple, with no booklet, just a two-sided insert with credits of the musicians on the reverse side, but it's the music that matters, and it's a pleasant one too listen to.

Track Listing

1. Lady of the Stars
2. I Love You Baby
3. Bye, Bye Girl
4. Every Reason
5. Season of the Witch
6. Boy for Every Girl
7. Local Boy Chops Wood
8. Sunshine Superman
9. Living for the Love Light
10. Till I See You Again

Carry On The Grudge
Carry On The Grudge
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £9.79

5.0 out of 5 stars Jamie's best album yet!, 30 Sept. 2015
This review is from: Carry On The Grudge (Audio CD)
I've been a fan of this brilliant artist since more or less the start of his recording career. I will have to hold my hands up in shame now when I say that I have only began to seriously listen to 'Carry On The Grudge', his third album, the first in five years and released last year, fairly recently. Whilst it still has all the elements which have always made Jamie T stand out as highly unique, this album shows an increased power in his range, and is without question, much more mature than his previous offerings. His song writing is considerably more intelligent, and the sound is more polished.

This engaging third album, focusing heavily on addiction, sees Jamie switch the bass for a guitar, and the master songwriter baring in his soul with lots of tender and dark songs, sounding at his most vulnerable, which is quite a contrast to the upbeat, immediately catchy tracks with their punchy, catchy choruses. Jamie has always shared a similar voice to that of Alex Turner, but this album has him sound more like the Arctic Monkeys than ever before, with tunes particularly similar to that band's 'AM' record.

Highlights include the gothic horror of 'Turn on the Light', the catchy punk-flavoured top 40 single 'Zombie', which is a nod to the sound of the younger Jamie, the very sweet and folksy 'Mary Lee', and 'Trouble', where you really could be forgiven for mistaking it for a new Arctic Monkeys' song on first hearing.

Five years is a very long time in the music business not to release an album, but Jamie T took his time to give us his best one to date. I'm glad it's been a hit, resting comfortably in the top 5 within the first week of it's release, because this lad deserves it. Welcome back Jamie!

Whispers II Limited Edition 2 CD Book
Whispers II Limited Edition 2 CD Book
Price: £13.11

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and simplistic!, 30 Sept. 2015
The sequel to Passenger's excellent 2014 album 'Whispers' does not disappoint, and if you enjoyed that predecessor, you won't be complaining when you hear 'Whispers II'. The only minor differences are that it is consistently quieter and more folk orientated, but like the one before it, the packaging is lovely (like the music) and unique, keeping in with the style of an old fashioned children's storybook, illustrated with pretty artwork and complete with a cool lyrics booklet.

I love music which tells a story, and Passenger's self-written songs always do just that, always with reflective and touching lyrics that will speak to a great number of people, dealing with the themes of heart-break, lost love, and general nostalgia. All of them are delivered in his soft and fragile, very distinctive vocals. His guitar style is very straight-forward, and this fits in perfectly with the simple and beautiful lyrics.

Although I have yet to have hear a Passenger song which I dislike, my hands down favourites on the album are 'Traveling Alone', 'Nothing's Changed', the more upbeat 'A Thousand Matches', and 'David', the moving story of a man who drank his life away, and now in his fifties, lives in a hostel.

Mike Rosenberg is a man who has a style, and he sticks too it, and why not? There will always be a market for traditional sounding, easy-listening folk tunes, and he excels at it. A genuine talent in every musical sense, be it singer, songwriter, musician, a breath of fresh air, and 'Whispers II', a great album as usual.

Summer Festival
Summer Festival
Offered by positivenoise
Price: £7.76

5.0 out of 5 stars Feel-good anthems!, 30 Sept. 2015
This review is from: Summer Festival (Audio CD)
In terms of uplifting indie music - this new compilation contains some of the very best. Staying true to it's name, 'Summer Festival' contains massive hits from star name artists who have played at countless festivals over the years. If you don't already own an indie playlist, then this is a particularly strong straight point, and is filled up with tunes that you are most likely to be already familiar with.

The recent 'Shut Up And Dance' single from the joyful band Walk the Moon opens the first disc, and what follows is an outstanding line-up of great artists who are massive on the indie scene at the moment, including Bastille, Peace, Foster The People, Kasabian, The 1975, Imagine Dragons, Bloc Party and The Vaccines.

Older material from The Kooks and Razorlight is also welcome on here, for although their songs can be found on countless other albums, it was great bands such as these who were fundamental in creating the sound at the start of modern indie-rock scene. Apart from the artists that I have already highlighted, I was also particularly glad to see Just Jack represented here with 'Starz in their Eyes', the song which made his name, and indietronica band Passion Pit with their infectious 'Sleepyhead'.

Here we have a have quality double compilation which avoids any filler. If it's great songs you're after - buy a copy of 'Summer Festival', and discover the talent that's out there. To quote a certain song which isn't on here: "It's indie rock and roll for me."

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