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The Films of Danny Dyer
The Films of Danny Dyer
by Jonathan Sothcott
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent hand-book for Danny Dyer film fans, 2 Mar. 2015
As the title clearly states, this is not a biography of Danny Dyer, it's all about his movies. As it was only published in late 2013, it covers most of his titles, the good, the awful, and the sometimes excellent. Danny isn't the most versatile actor in Britain, but the characters he can play, he plays them well. I'll hold my hands up, he's one of my man crushes.

Authors Jonathan Sothcott and James Mullinger have done a great job in putting together what really is a definitive guide to Danny's film career. Danny himself contributed to the book, which is packed full of fascinating information and anecdotes from his co-stars and colleagues. Each film is dealt with in-depth, there's the basic information such as director, producer and cast, the plot, and also the critic's opinions, Danny's opinion, and a wealth of behind-the-scenes information such as how he got the part in the first place. From 'Public Traffic' (1999) to 'Vendetta' (2013), there all here.

The result is a very interesting read, and an insight into the British film industry in general. I have always enjoyed Danny's wit, and many of his quotes in here are priceless. If you're a fan of Danny Dyer the actor, and want to find out more about his films, this is the only book you'll ever need. 'The Films of Danny Dyer' is illustrated throughout with black and white photographs.

Shallow Grave
Shallow Grave
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £18.26

4.0 out of 5 stars Soundtrack to an indie classic, 1 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Shallow Grave (Audio CD)
Danny Boyle's 1994 black comedy 'Shallow Grave' is one of my all-time favourite British movies, it starred Ewan McGregor and Christopher Eccleston as the male leads, and it's soundtrack is also worth checking out. Leftfield provide the haunting title theme, Simon Boswell provides atmospheric music, often mixing in sound bytes from the characters in the film, as well as golden oldies by Andy Williams and Nina Simone.

Track listing

1. Leftfield - Shallow Grave
2. Simon Boswell - Shallow Grave Theme
3. Nina Simone - My Baby Just Cares For Me
4. Simon Boswell - Laugh Riot
5. Leftfield - Release The Dubs
6. John Camichael Band - Strip The Willow
7. Simon Boswell - Loft Conversion
8. Simon Boswell - A Spade, We Need A Spade
9. Simon Boswell - Shallow Grave, Deep Depression
10. Simon Boswell - Hugo's Last Trip
11. Andy Williams - Happy Heart

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden: A Short Guide to Modern Politics, the Coalition and the General Election
I Never Promised You a Rose Garden: A Short Guide to Modern Politics, the Coalition and the General Election
by John Crace
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.39

5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book, 1 Mar. 2015
I was once quite passionate about politics, but now my interest is nowhere near as keen as it used to be. Personally, I don't like any of the mayor party leaders at the moment, and for the first time, I don't know who the hell I'm going to vote for in May, although I imagine in the end I'll stick to principles and vote for the party I've always supported, even if I don't rate the man at all. Nevertheless, this wonderful book by John Crace really entertained me, even if it just reminded me why I dislike Cameron, Clegg and Miliband so much, especially the first two.

Before the Poison
Before the Poison
Price: £10.31

5.0 out of 5 stars Marianne the great!, 1 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Before the Poison (Audio CD)
How many times can you be amazed? It seems that you can purchase any album by Marianne Faithfull and you can guarantee that you are going to be in for a treat. I have quite a few, but not all of them, and even though some are weaker than others, at her worst, she still merits a four star release, from the albums I have anyway. 'Before the Poison', her 17th, released in 2005 is one of my all-time favourites.

The album boasts a string of high-profile collaborators, including PJ Harvey, Nick Cave and Damon Albarn, a great favourite of mine. Marianne's raw, powerful 'lived in' voice really is superb and the material is very strong. 'Before the Poison' is a beautiful dark masterpiece, and although, like so much good music, it went largely unheard in the UK, an album of this standard was too good to be sandwiched between the trashy pop-albums from lesser female 'talents' that the public were helping hit the charts anyway.

Vagabond Ways
Vagabond Ways
Price: £8.02

5.0 out of 5 stars Marianne's last album of the nineties, and it was a masterpeace, 1 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Vagabond Ways (Audio CD)
I can't understand how Marianne Faithfull, with her iconic status can allude chart success in Britain time and time again. Perhaps it's because people still associate her with her 'past' and problems, and maybe that has in someway overshadowed her expectational talents, but oh I hope not. This album, her last in the nineties didn't given grace the top 75, but 'Vagabond Ways' is a masterpiece, and would serve as a good introduction to her music.

Released in 1999, the album has moments that must be semi-autobiographical, the overall theme is very dark, and the songs, five of which she co-wrote, are mostly very interesting, delivered in that incredibly emotional and expressive voice. Some of the tunes here are reminisant of those on her first masterpiece 'Broken English' (which she has never bettered despite the stacks of great albums that have followed), like the stunning title track, and 'Incarceration of a Flower Child', a song written with by Pink Floyd's Roger Waters that tells the story of a poignant morning after. Speaking of song writing, Elton John and Bernie Taupin wrote 'For Wanting You', and Leonard Cohen penned 'Tower of Song'.

It troubles me that the likes of Britney Spears were storming the charts at the time, whereas this legend was being largely ignored, still whereas Marianne Faithful's chart days were well behind her, she was still making amazing, critically-acclaimed music that would put the cheesy 'pop singers' to shame. She obviously had much more life experience, and boy does it shows in the music, thank you Marianne for being so open about your past, and turning heartbreak into singing/song writing success. Buy 'Vagabond Ways' today, you won't regret it.

It's all over now, Baby Blue
It's all over now, Baby Blue
Offered by soulsearchingplus
Price: £7.95

4.0 out of 5 stars An alternative Marianne collection, 1 Mar. 2015
Despite the rather cheap looking cover, this compilation is a grab bag of rare goodies for those who are only familiar with Marianne's '60s work as a folk/pop singer and the late 70s and onwards, as it covers the 'middle ground'. It milk together tracks from two rare albums that are rather pricey at the moment: all but four songs from 'Dreamin' My Dreams', a completely country and western flavoured album that was re-issued as 'Faithfull', but was originally released in 1976, and every track from 'Rich Kid Blues' which is a collection of acoustic songs recorded in 1971, that finally saw the light of day in 1985.

The difference in Marianne's voice in both albums is striking. Before the excessive drink and drug taking, she maintained that beautiful, (but notably lower in comparison to her very first records) voice and 'Rich Kid Blues' sports lovely cover versions of Cat Steven's 'Sad Lisa', Bob Dylan's 'It's All Over Now Baby Blue', and Johnny Cash's 'Long Black Veil'. This was a good LP of very pleasant music and delivery that is all to often overlooked.

With the tracks from 'Dreamin' My Dream', we hear that impressive yet withered, passionate voice that would blow us away on 'Broken English'. In fact, this LP, released one year before 'English', was intended as her 'comeback' album, but although she wasn't far away from achieving this, the album here flopped and went largely unheard. If you are a fan of country music, you'll love these tracks, which include the energetic 'All I Wanna Do In Life' and the sorrowful 'I'm Not Lisa' (which I first came across on a Tanya Tucker compilation) and Jackie DeShannon's 'Vanilla Ollay' (a song I heard originally on Twiggy's debut LP).

This is a most welcome compilation, showcasing Marianne's talents as a fine interpreter of country music, and offers casual fans the chance to hear something different from her. Fans at the time must have had a hell of shock when she returned one year after 'Dreamin' My Dreams' with the very different 'Broken English', her masterpiece, and although none of the tracks here rank as her best work, there is a plenty of wonderful music to discover from the legendary Ms. Faithfull.

Russell Howard's Good News: Best Of Series 1 [DVD]
Russell Howard's Good News: Best Of Series 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Russell Howard
Price: £6.09

5.0 out of 5 stars A compilation of a 'feel-good' show, 1 Mar. 2015
I have been a fan of TV's 'Russell Howard's Good News' from the start, and this excellent DVD compiles some of the best bits of the first series, and it's a really good compilation.

If you aren't familiar with the format, comedian Russell Howard takes a humorous look at the stories that have been featured in the newspapers over the past week, as well as the more quirky, less-reported incidents that might only be on YouTube for example, sometimes Russell invites the people involved to appear on the show. Essentially, the show is a platform for this great young talent to make often hilarious and sarcastic comments, but the scope of news includes everything from society, sports, celebrity, crime and politics.

This is such a quirky, 'feel-good' show and this DVD never fails to make me smile, often at his expressions and mannerisms as much as the news stories. Russell is so likeable and down-to-earth and if you like what you see here, I can only urge you to watch his stand-up. This DVD boasts a generous serving of special features, including the unaired pilot and some unseen bits and pieces.

Chris Addison Live [DVD]
Chris Addison Live [DVD]
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: £2.65

4.0 out of 5 stars A very funny man, 1 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Chris Addison Live [DVD] (DVD)
I was familiar with Chris Addison for his acting in comedy series like 'Skins' and 'The Thick of It', but I had never seen his stand-up. Recorded live at London's Bloomsbury Theatre, his act is that of a heavily scripted, conversational 'lecture' style, and it really works.

Although he appears to be considerably nervous on the stage, assumingly he's more at home in front of a camera, and he does swear a lot it would seem to get the occasional extra laugh, I thought his unique style of telling jokes was excellent, and this is a very funny show. Topics he brings up includes his views on students and universities, the pope (and I admit during this bit I cringed when he tells a cheap joke about Hillsborough, which I really don't think that was called for), fat people, his hatred for ugg boots and this very website and it's 'Amazon Recommends' feature.

I wouldn't say it was among the best stand-up I've seen, but it was still very enjoyable. I prefer him as a TV comedy actor, but he is a considerable comedian. 'Chris Addison Live' contains two special features: behind-the-scenes footage and a Question and Answers session with the audience.

Bad Education - Series 1 [DVD]
Bad Education - Series 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jack Whitehall
Price: £6.20

5.0 out of 5 stars Great British banter!, 1 Mar. 2015
I am a great fan of Jack Whitehall, and in 'Bad Education', he stars as Alfie Wickers, a young history teacher who wears the unenviable tag around his neck of 'the worst teacher ever to grace the British education system', and he's undoubtedly a much bigger child than those 15 year olds he teaches in his class. The group of school kids are diverse, albeit stereotypical, lovable and generally very easy to relate. There's the teacher's pet, the tough guy, the flirty girl, the homosexual lad, the lass with a temper, etc, etc.

Alfie constantly tries to impress his first crush, the bisexual science teacher Rosie Gulliver (Sarah Solemani) by attempting to appear 'cool', but failing miserably. He has at least however found ways of dealing with the school's eccentric headmaster Shaquille Fra$er (portrayed by the brilliant Matthew Horne), who constantly embarrasses his staff and is generally unsuitable for his high profession in just about every way. With a great cast of comedy talent, hilarious scripts by Jack and two other writers, plenty of charm and more than a little crudeness, 'Bad Education' is just an instantly likeable show. I was a fan within the first five minutes of episode one.

BBC Three don't have the best track record in the world of giving their viewers a great sitcom, but 'Bad Education' is one of those exceptions. A must see for Jack Whitehall fans, or any fan of modern British comedy. The DVD includes extras like video diaries and a 'making of'.

Broken English
Broken English
Price: £6.05

5.0 out of 5 stars Marianne's Masterpiece, 28 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Broken English (Audio CD)
Marianne Faithfull has recorded a stack of excellent albums (and one or two of lesser quality) since the 1960s, but when she referred to her 'comeback' album 'Broken English' as ''the masterpiece'', I doubt that many people will disagree with her. If you only own one of her studio albums - make sure it's this one.

Many music lovers had given up on Marianne long before 1979. She had been a hit-making folk-pop singer with beautiful good looks and an angelic singing voice, who had quickly become a wash-up junkie. All the years of heavy drinking, smoking and drug taking had taken their toll on her voice, but this was to come as a great advantage. Her voice was now very different, but it was far stronger, dirtier, worldly, and she was now able to express words of anger so brilliantly in the songs of this remarkable album, which won her masses of critical acclaim, and a minor hit single in the UK.

The hit was 'The Ballad of Lucy Jordon', the story of a middle-aged woman's mental breakdown, and a cover of a song which Dr Hook had recorded first, and Marianne's version, very different to Hook's, is simply haunting. It has become one of her most famous songs, as indeed has the furious title track, and her stunning, sneering cover of John Lennon's anthem 'Working Class Hero'. Every song here stands out in it's own right, there are simply no fillers, and I've always adored 'Why'd Ya Do It', which sees Marianne playing a bitter harpy who is delivering a fierce, graphic rant to her husband's infidelities, with lyrics far to rude for radio.

People must have got one hell of shock when Marianne released this album, especially fans of her early clean music, it was almost like the work of a completely different artist. This is not music you will want too listen to if you're feeling depressed, but if you're on your way up, or recovering after a row or something, play it loud. I own many albums by female artists, but this is among the greatest I own. This recent re-issue offers brilliant remastering and a good booklet, filled with sexy pictures and interesting information. 'Broken English' really is the definitive Marianne Faithfull album, and indeed, 'the masterpiece'.

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