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Mark J. Nicholls "rock_connoisseur" (Edinburgh, Scotland)

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Zoo Time
Zoo Time
by Howard Jacobson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.04

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top Notch Satire, 22 Oct. 2012
This review is from: Zoo Time (Hardcover)
Just adding a few words in praise of this wildly funny novel. If you like literary satires like Amis's "The Information" or Sorrentino's "Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things," this novel will make you titter and haw the night away. The audience for this book, possibly, is more writers than readers, but anyone after a dark guffaw at the state of contemporary publishing should give it a read. IMO, this is the funniest, most engaging Jacobson I've read.

Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire)
Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire)
by Christopher Allen
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.18

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gore Vidal for the Beyoncé Generation, 14 Sept. 2012
I am a friend of the author, but that doesn't stop this book from being so funny your kidneys will haemorrhage, your spleen will combust and your auriculoventricular apparatus will send a thousand bloody laughs straight to your heart that will kill you and resurrect you with pump after pump of hilarity, wit and sheer screaming satirical brilliance. The fact I know the author simply means I was able, in my lifetime, to appreciate this fabulous laugh-a-word satire, written with such painstaking attention-to-detail for the mot drôle and such love of language, wordplay and comedy catchphrases, fans of Daniel Handler, Flann O'Brien, Lucy Ellmann and Gore Vidal should come, with outstretched arms, to read this delightful novel. If this were the 1950s and publishers still took risks with humorous fiction, Allen would be up there with your Kingsley Amises and Richard Brautigans (the Beyoncé references might not fly with a 50s audience), but sadly the publishing world squeezes out the surreal and satirical today. A terrific volley against at the gay clichés that seep into our culture and scramble our identities, our sense of ourselves as individuals removed from our sexual preferences. A book that makes you laugh then check yourself for laughing--to be read for deeper meaning and deeper laughs.

Inish (John F. Byrne Irish Literature)
Inish (John F. Byrne Irish Literature)
by Bernard Share
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.41

5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, 3 Dec. 2010
Ignore the other reviewer: this is insanely good. Cleverly written and absurdly funny comedic novel in a category of its own.

The Muffs
The Muffs
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £13.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Essence of Indie, 8 May 2010
This review is from: The Muffs (Audio CD)
I love the Muffs. Their music is far more intelligent and adventurous than any detached, ironic, indie twerp gives them credit for.

Their debut album is ambitious, overlong and messy but is bumper-packed with top-notch material.

"Lucky Guy" demonstrates the band's heavy metal roots with a dense snarl, while "Saying Goodbye" captures the true pop essence of the group. Most of the songs here have dynamite hooks, bags of attitude and clout.

"Everywhere I Go" is the song Juliana Hatfield spent her career writing and "Baby Go Round" captures that twee indieness that 90s American bands did so well.


Happy Birthday to Me
Happy Birthday to Me
Price: £20.07

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mufftastic, 8 May 2010
This review is from: Happy Birthday to Me (Audio CD)
The Muffs are a highly loveable three-piece band with an ear for timeless punky hooks and songs to be spun again and again and again.

This album is uniformly excellent. "Outer Space" and "All Blue Baby" are bona fide classics in the alt-rock genre, and the other tunes are head-banging nuggets of excellence, my faves being "That Awful Man" and "Honeymoon" (and the rest).

The second half struggles to maintain the punchy splendour of the first, but keeps rocking harder than most contemporary snot-punk bands. Lead singer Kim Shattuck has a gravelly punk voice which alternates between ear-bleeding scream and snotty tenderness (exemplified perfectly on "Keep Holding Me").

Yes. Get this before it goes out of print.

Smith & Blaney
Smith & Blaney
Offered by lbabes
Price: £4.67

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars An Aural Abomination, 15 Dec. 2009
This review is from: Smith & Blaney (Audio CD)
Dearest Fall Fan:

This is not the rollicking collaboration between two old sparring partners you are hoping for.

If you want to avoid devastating disappointment, and let's face it, as a Fall fan, you have endured enough of this in your lifetime, then step away from this product right now.

Ed Blaney writes the music: barely sketched instrumental twonk not even fit enough for a Cerebral Caustic B-side. Mark E. Smith appears on under a third of the tracks, his contributions little more than the mumblings of a 51-year-old man having a lively dream.

The packaging is shoddy. The music even shoddier. Two versions of "Ludite" (misspelled) are included, both identical.

There is no reason for this album to exist, except to let Blaney get music that might have been used for Are You Are Missing Winner B-sides out of his house. Smith, presumably, enjoyed the cheque.

And they murder "Real Good Time Together." MURDER.

If On A Winter's Night A Traveller (Vintage Classics)
If On A Winter's Night A Traveller (Vintage Classics)
by Italo Calvino
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mark Nicholls's review of Italo Calvino's cult postmodern classic "If on a Winter's Night a Traveller", 21 Nov. 2009
You are about to read Mark Nicholls's review of Italo Calvino's postmodern classic If on a Winter's Night a Traveller. You might want to position yourself in a comfortable chair before you begin, or place a cushion behind your back, as we know how arduous it can be to read things off the internet. You might also care to prepare a coffee, a light snack, or to switch a light on before beginning.

You might be thinking that this blog post is not going to interest you, since book reviews on books you haven't read can often be frustrating. For starters, the writer delves into details about the plot which spoil the surprises a blind reading of the book might create, and likewise you are unable to form an opinion yourself and share your thoughts on the text in question.

Conversely, you might have read the text and are familiar with the second person narration that addresses the reader directly and places them as a protagonist in the book. You might think this review an obvious imitation of Calvino's unique style, and become irate as you read on, wondering when the reviewer is going to get around to summarising the plot.

In fact, you become so irate, you search for the book on Goodreads, but are incandescent when you notice each review is also written in the same imitative style, and the gimmick becomes so irritating you have to leave the room for a moment to calm yourself down.

As you leave the room, someone knocks on the door. It is a door-to-door salesman offering copies of Italo Calvino's novel If on a Winter's Night a Traveller at a reduced price. He begins his sale by saying: "You are wondering whether or not this novel is for you, or whether you might find a novel with the beginnings of ten separate novels included as part of the plot somewhat bemusing or distracting. You are unsure whether to slam the door in my face, or to go get your credit card."

You slam the door in his face. As you return to the living room, you notice that Mark Nicholls has broken into your house and is sitting naked on the couch reading Italo Calvino's novel If on a Winter's Night a Traveller. You are very confused and frightened. Feelings of arousal and apoplexy stir up inside you. You decide to call the police, but Mark Nicholls springs up from the chair as you move towards the phone.

"You are wondering whether to phone the police to remove Mark Nicholls from your house. You are deeply confused as to why this blogger whose opinions you find facile and banal is suddenly sitting naked on your couch reading the very book you were reading about," he says. You look for a blunt instrument to hit him with, but can find only a cup. You throw the cup, but he ducks and it breaks against the wall.

You start to sob. That was your best cup, and there is coffee over the walls and carpet. Furthermore, Mark Nicholls appears to be swinging his penis at you, performing an embarrassing 360° swingaround which slowly hypnotises you into a deep deep sleep.

When you wake up, you are at your desk. Mark Nicholls and the coffee stain has gone. You wonder why there is a grapefruit in your left hand and an antelope on your sofa. Those of you who read only the opening sentence and skipped to the end get a strange feeling of anticlimax.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 5, 2014 9:43 PM GMT

To Bring You My Love
To Bring You My Love
Price: £5.90

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harveylicious, 2 July 2009
This review is from: To Bring You My Love (Audio CD)
I'm bored, so I'm pleased to present the tersest review on this album imaginable.

The opening (and title) track is rootsy blues re-imagined by Chrissie Hynde. Staggering sonics and moody brooding noises.

"Meet Ze Monsta" is the first (of many) Captain Beefheart echoes in this album. Lyrically this borrows from "Tropical Hot Dog Night" and switches gender roles once more.

Other tracks are sensual, stomping killer. "Waiting For The Man" only works on headphones and is sexier than seven seconds with Helen Mirren. "C'mon Billy" is single territory and has Nick Cave echoes (pardon my laziness).

Other fun songs include "Long Snake Moan" which once again metaphorizes the phallus in confrontational ways, and "Down By The Water" is sublimely sensual.

"I Think I'm A Mother" borrows lyrics from Captain Beefheart's "Dropout Boogie" but the songs couldn't be more different.

"The Dancer" is a dramatical Spanish denouement.

Get it. Love.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 3, 2010 4:52 PM GMT


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Aaah! I'm Unavailable!, 22 April 2009
This review is from: Levitate (Audio CD)
You are looking at this page because you are a frustrated Fall collector unable to attain this out-of-print album elsewhere on the cheap. I feel your pain, sister.

"Levitate" is a frustrating weirdo of an album. The production is TERRIBLE (courtesy of Mark E. Smith at the height of drunken nutter era) but the songs are interesting.

This is basically the Fall's "jungle" album. Tracks like "Ten Houses of Eve" and "4 1/2 Inch" abound with overlapped vocals and bouncy jungle beats, making for an entertaingly murky mess.

This is either your aural cup of tea or not. Personally, the album sounds rather flat and lifeless for me (Smith's vocals are particularly incoherent throughout) and only a few gems like "The Quartet of Doc Shanley", the rampaging cover of "I'm A Mummy" and the spooky and fast-paced "Ol' Gang" save the album from the doldrums.

The meandering Smithisms of "Hurricane Edward" and "Everybody But Myself" are less enjoyable upon repeated listens. The unusual covering of "I Come and Stand at Your Door" (made famous by This Mortal Coil) is quite spooky and Smith sounds miserable enough to do it justice.

Fall fans should definately pick this one up and form their own opinion. It's probably the most controversial record (in that it's a love-it hate-it one) so deserves a listen.

Everyone else, start with "Hex".

Doc At The Radar Station
Doc At The Radar Station
Offered by zoreno-uk
Price: £4.67

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What's Up, Don?, 20 April 2009
The best Beefheart "comeback" album after his mid-70s slump is "Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller)" (to my ears at least).

This one is a guitar-only affair, stripped of the pretty aural baubles of the previous album, which did actually lend Beefheart a touch of mad avuncular charm.

This one is more direct. The songs are no less enjoyable, from the bouncing alliteration of "Hot Head" to the shouty nod to Van Vliet's future career "Run Paint Run Run."

Other tracks are in the challengingly unmelodious "Trout Mask Replica" mould, such as the ear-bleeding five-minute aural assault "Best Batch Yet" or the whopping migraine of the brilliant "Sheriff of Hong Kong."

Other tracks teeter-totter on melody and audience enjoyment such as the hilarious "Ashtray Heart" (where Beefheart shows his age, losing the gusto behind his growl) and the patchwork madness of the impressively weird "Sue Egypt" (my favorite track).

Instrumentals are surprisingly touching for Beefheart, and returning band member John French lends a great contribution.

The last track "Making Love to a Vampire With a Monkey on My Knee" is riddled with expletives, which seems a little gimmicky, but Beefheart gets away with it because he gets away with everything.

Recommended for Beefheart fans only.

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