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J. Macdonald (York, UK)

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Days Distinctive
Days Distinctive
Price: £13.58

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The oud, the whole oud, and nothing but the oud, 2 April 2012
This review is from: Days Distinctive (Audio CD)
Listening to this excellent, firecracking oudist accompanied by his ensemble (Spanish guitar, cello, flute, double bass and hypnotic percussion)and you could be downtown in the spice market of your local bazaar, with its pungent and exotic smells, the sepulchral atmosphere and the profusion of rich colours. If only.


Stand Up
Stand Up
Price: £4.62

5.0 out of 5 stars Baroque and roll, 4 Jan. 2012
This review is from: Stand Up (Audio CD)
Fresh as a daisy after all this time, I still have my original vinyl copy, gatefold sleeve and all, and have been wearing it out even more since the recent acquisition of a decent turntable. The remastered CD (I've also got the cassette somewhere) sounds pretty good to me and at it's current price, it's a snip.

Every track is a winner, this record is imbued with jazzy undertones and a spontaneity that is absent from the later "concept" releases, and the kind baritone timbre of his voice not yet harshened by constant touring.

Martin Barre is not the most fluid and graceful of guitarists but is excellent with a riff and the wah-wah effect on Look Into The Sun and Reasons For Waiting is one of those hairs on the back of your neck Stand Up moments.

I've lived with this record for so long now I always get the feeling that it was recorded for my benefit only. Ridiculous I know, nevertheless I would like to thank the boys - Ian, Glenn, Clive and Martin - for providing me with so much musical pleasure these past 40 years or so. Living in the past some might say? Could be, but there isn't much happening on the music scene these days that blows my flute. Certainly nothing as enduring as this.

Kenwood CM021 kMix Coffee Maker - Raspberry Red
Kenwood CM021 kMix Coffee Maker - Raspberry Red
Price: £69.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A cup of cold coffee... (and a piece of cake), 1 Nov. 2011
I've had this machine for about 6 months now but lately the temperature of my morning coffee has become somewhat inconsistent. This morning it was barely lukewarm. The other day it was fairly hot. The lukewarm days are now outnumbering the hot days and I've had enough. It's going in the bin and I'm going back to tea.

Price: £11.41

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Far out, man., 20 Sept. 2011
This review is from: West (Audio CD)
If there were garages in outer space then this is what an intergalactic garage band would sound like. Recyled riffs from rocket propelled guitars, swirling nebulous organs, bleak characterless vocals, pulsating rhythms.

The first two reviewers have pretty well nailed down the obvious references with one glaring exception. Track 4 "Home" - a.k.a House of the Rising Sun. Neat.

Great played loud after you've had a few tequilas and are in an apocalyptic mood. Or if your girlfriend's just dumped you. Or both.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 26, 2011 12:05 PM BST

Play Piazzolla 13 Tangos for Guitar by Astor Piazzolla
Play Piazzolla 13 Tangos for Guitar by Astor Piazzolla
by Gary Ryan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.53

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tango Till They're Sore, 2 Aug. 2011
I sent off for this book because one of the arrangements ("Los Suenos") is on the syllabus for grade 6 classical guitar which I'm studying for. I'd not heard of Astor Piazolla before (to my shame) so in order to get a better feel for this piece I also got hold of a Piazolla compilation CD.

I am able to play "Los Suenos" from memory after 4 to 5 weeks constant practice and am almost there with "Vuelvo al Sur" & "El Viaje". Not being naturally gifted with talent (I need to practice a lot) I am glad I came across this book as it gives the intermediate player some fairly challenging pieces to study that once mastered sound really cool and are an alternative to the usual nylon stringed guitar repertoire.

Don't you just love finger-picking nylon? I could never go back to steel & plectrum again!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 17, 2011 4:41 AM GMT

Pint Of Blood
Pint Of Blood
Price: £8.90

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More donors needed, 27 July 2011
This review is from: Pint Of Blood (Audio CD)
Jolie Holland is clearly an acquired taste & judging from the small number of reviews on Amazon for her recordings these past 10 years, not a popular one. The way she wraps her mouth around the lyrics and bends those elongated Texan vowels, like a nightingale chirping into the wind perched on the branch of a very shaky tree, is quite singular and has got me completely captivated.

This album has an intimate sound driven predominantly by acoustic guitar, aided and tastefully abetted by an occasional flourish of electric guitar and with violin, organ, piano, bass & some natty understated drumming in supporting roles. Check out the joyously lilting version of "Littlest Birds", co-written with Samantha Parton and which first appeared on the Be Good Tanyas "Blue Train" as a more banjo/acoustic oriented arrangement. So let's raise a big cheer for the Grand Chandeliers - hooooo-ray!!

Considering that most of these songs are about failing relationships, betrayal, loss & yearning there's an element of jauntiness and insouciance to the whole that you won't find on any Lucinda Williams records with whom she has been compared. Any song that begins - "It brings a smile to my lips when I think of your fist narrowing in on & cracking his ribs - Can I stay here till dawn?" (track 2 - "Remember")is evidence enough of an artist who is not going to become too morose.

Price: £12.45

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dancing on the edge of a nightmare, 4 Jun. 2010
This review is from: Coconut (Audio CD)
After the apocalyptic opening 2 tracks - droning chainsaw guitars, whiplash inducing bass riffs, desperate vocals - this album settles into a slightly less manic but groove laden mix of high octane metal beat music. Think Tom Tom Club on steroids & coke, chuck in some Hawkwind & New Order and then pepper with Motorhead's Ace of Spades -pretty terrifying really but will doubtless keep you awake on a dark night at the zombie ball.

A Friend Of A Friend
A Friend Of A Friend
Price: £10.33

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars More than a little underwhelming, 30 Mar. 2010
This review is from: A Friend Of A Friend (Audio CD)
Unfortunately I go along with the other disappointed reviewers. Because of the connection with Gillian Welch (Time the Revelator is one of my favourite records) I was expecting a lot more from this release, perhaps a bit too much - especially in the light of a glowing review I'd seen in one of the Sunday broadsheets recently.

Mostly it is the sound of some good ol' folks enjoying a hoedown in the back-yard - fiddles, washboards and whiskey. Nothing wrong with that but not exactly original.

"Ruby" and "the Bells of Harlem" - the opening & closing tracks are pretty effective, as is "Method Acting" a gentle song that leads straight into a sparse arrangement of Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer" - that is certainly no better than the original.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 2, 2010 3:27 PM GMT

Beat The Devil's Tattoo
Beat The Devil's Tattoo
Price: £8.87

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 24 Mar. 2010
This review is from: Beat The Devil's Tattoo (Audio CD)
Maybe it's the new drummer they've got but this a very laboured and uninspired sounding effort. It feels like the drumming and bass parts have been worked out first, the guitars and vocals added as an after-thought. There's much Mountain of Doom drumming and the usual fuzzy bass riffing but it's not tuneful, unlike their previous albums where, apart from the odd filler, there were catchy songs & hooks a plenty.

This is more in the style of "White Palms" - the least effective track off the otherwise splendid first album.

Angels And Demons
Angels And Demons
by Dan Brown
Edition: Paperback

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Demonically awful, 22 Mar. 2010
This review is from: Angels And Demons (Paperback)
I knew this was going to be a turkey when I got to the third page. Robert Langdon is wandering barefoot through his deserted Massachusetts Victorian home nursing a mug of steaming cocoa whilst - "the April moon filtered through the bay windows and played on the oriental carpets."

Even worse - on the same page - "Although not overly handsome in a classical sense, the 45 year old Langdon had what his female colleagues referred to as an 'erudite' appeal....." .

And then on page 69 (after which I gave up) - the lithe & graceful Vittoria Vetra emerges - "not overly beautiful (sounds familiar)but possessing full earthy features that exude a raw the air currants buffeted her body, her clothes clung, accentuating her slender torso & small breasts."

A book stuffed with hackneyed drivel, it's worse than Mills & Boon or a 16 year old on a creative writing course.

Obviously for the less discerning reader yet it has sold millions. A literary snob? Damn right I am. There's enough junk in life these days as it is.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 2, 2011 9:00 PM GMT

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