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doublegone (scotland)
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..It's Too Late To Stop Now...Vol. 2, 3, 4
..It's Too Late To Stop Now...Vol. 2, 3, 4
Price: £29.99

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extensive quality leftovers from one of the greatest live albums in history., 17 Jun. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
In 1973 Van Morrison was touring with the Caledonia Soul Orchestra - surely one of the finest enembles to perform popular song in the history of the music business. Extensive recording was done and in 1974 a double live album called Too Late to Stop Now was released to great aclaim. It is widely regarded as one of the finest live albums ever. It is certainly one of my favourite albums period.

A great many more performances were committed to tape at the time. but largely have not seen the light of day until now. Here they are spread out across three CDs with a DVD thrown in for good measure.

VOLUME II (Recorded live at The Troubadour, Los Angeles, May 23, 1973)
VOLUME III (Recorded live at the Santa Monica Civic, California, June 29. 1973)
VOLUME IV (Recorded live at The Rainbow, London, July 23 & 24, 1973)
DVD (Recorded live at The Rainbow, London, July 24, 1973)

The first thing to say is that this set does not repeat any of the performances contained in the original 1974 release. It contains alternate versions of many songs and versions of songs that did not appear the first time round. New songs here include Hank Williams's Hey Good Looking, Snow in San Anselmo, Brown Eyed Girl, Being Green, and Moonshine Whiskey. (Although I think Brown Eyed Girl was a bonus track added to the original album from 2008 onwards)

Be aware that there are multiple versions of many songs. Leaving aside the DVD for now, there are 2 Dominos, two Cyprus Avenues, 2 Being Greens, 2 I Just Want to Make Love To You, 2 Caravans, 2 I Believe to My Souls, and 2 Listen to the Lions on the CDs. A surprising omission is St Dominic's Preview which was one of the absolute highlights of the original album.

Most of the material and performances are excellent, barring one very unfortunate harmonica intervention from Van. Being Green and Buona Sera I could live without, but other than that you can see that whoever programmed the original release must have had a tough job deciding what to leave off. But after a few listens its clear they did a pretty good job. None of the performances are quite as good as the ones that made the original cut. They are however still pretty damned fine.

This group really was a marvel - the typical guitar/bass/drums/keyboard rock outfit of the day augmented with horn and string sections. They managed to pull off a wonderful balancing act producing complex and lush arrangements whilst maintaining the limber sure-footedness and immediacy of a tight little band. Gritty R&B passages often open out into lush string cushioned beauty. Was a string section ever better deployed in rock or pop? I doubt it.

I found it interesting to watch the DVD. I have been listening to volume I for years with no clue as to how this ensemble looked. It was kinda weird to match up the music to the visuals after all this time. What must be said about the DVD is that the picture quality is pretty awful, even though its professionally shot and was broadcast by the BBC at the time. In additon the band were really crammed together for this performance. They can't move around and you can't see everyone. John Platania the superb guitar player spends the whole gig hidden behind someone else's music stand. Both the DVD and CD IV were recorded at London's Rainbow, but feature different performances.

I would have thought a release like this might have warranted a high quality booklet of text essays and photos. There is none. It is also let down by the quality of the packaging. The printing on the cover is well dodgy looking, like a pirate copy from some backstreet market stall. I find this inexcusable at the price being asked.

The music though is largely fabulous. Does it demand the attention of the casual Van Morrison fan? I suspect not. Its probably only for the absolutely most obsessive. But i am one of those and am thoroughly enjoying this music. For many people though, Volume I will probably be enough.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 18, 2016 12:15 AM BST

3M LX550 Vertical Adjustable Laptop Riser
3M LX550 Vertical Adjustable Laptop Riser
Price: £28.84

3.0 out of 5 stars Expensive and kinda no better than....., 17 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Thank goodness I have finally found a way to hold a laptop at the right height while using it with a proper keyboard.

The journey was long and arduous but I am so grateful I finally discovered.....a pile of books.

Yes thats right, they are looking for you to buy this gadget which delivers the same service as a pile of books. A pile of books is fully adjustable (take away or add books) and also doubles up as a handy book storage solution :)

Seriously though, its a neat and useful thing if a little cheap feeling and too expensive.

Please note they sent me the LX500 and not the LX550 as shown in the picture.

The Ghosts of Highway 20
The Ghosts of Highway 20
Price: £9.99

3.0 out of 5 stars My least favourite of Lucinda's albums, 22 May 2016
Lucinda Williams is one of my favourite artists. While this release is fine in many ways I feel it just does not stand up to the rest of her output. The second disc works better but overall this is a bit of a dud release in my opinion. Folks giving this five stars must have painted on ears.

The main problem is that everything is too samey. Everything seems to proceed at the same mid pace. Where her band usually has a real lightness of touch here they plod. That great mythic sweep effect they go for is repeated too often so that it just begins to sound dull. The record is crying out for more light and shade.

There are no standout songs where usually there are two or three crackers in each Lu record.

And finally, Lucinda seems to have pushed the slurring elements of vocal delivery so far that they have become parody.

If you don't have any Lucinda Williams albums already this is not the one to start with.

The Nordic Kitchen: One year of family cooking
The Nordic Kitchen: One year of family cooking
by Claus Meyer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £22.95

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I found a few things I liked the look of but I am still far from ..., 13 May 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This review might be regarded as being as much my opinion on Scandinavian cuisine as on this book.

I found a few things I liked the look of but I am still far from totally convinced it is for me.

I probably should confess that I am one of those UK cooks for whom food like this is still something of a culture shock. France and Italy are where most of my cooking derives from, along with a strong line in curries. So for a cook book to be almost entirely devoid of tomatoes is not something I am comfortable with. And I don't like dill! As a Scot I should relate naturally to this northern fare, but I don't. I suppose its a reflection of our imperial past that we are relaxed about flavours from around the globe, yet the food of our near neighbours can seem exotic and alien.

The bits I liked best were the foraging sections - using wild garlic and dandelion leaves for example. I made a few soups which were good although are not going to bump any other recipes out of my regular repertoire. I look forward to being challenged and sprung from my rut in future as I dip into the book again. I can't see it making a regular contribution to my diet though.

The book is laid out seasonally which I always like to see. Its home cooking by a very high order restaurant chef. That can often lead to over elaborate dishes just not practical for the home cook. But Mr Meyer does a fine job of keeping things simple and practical.

If you are a fan of this food then you will find this book an excellent investment I am sure. Personally I am not fully converted yet.

Mindfulness Made Easy: Teach Yourself: Be more mindful in your daily life
Mindfulness Made Easy: Teach Yourself: Be more mindful in your daily life
by Martha Langley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.68

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best guides I have found., 19 April 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Mindfulness is best explored with a knowledgeable teacher. If you don't have one then I reckon this book is the next best thing. It is highly practical and free of waffle. Step by step instructions and useful exercises throughout.

It is well laid out and is an accessible overview for the beginner.

I cannot emphasise enough how much useful practical stuff is included in this small book. She really has made it easy. You may well find your life changed for the better by this no-nonsense little book.

OXO Good Grips 11151300UK Hand Held Spiralizer - Green
OXO Good Grips 11151300UK Hand Held Spiralizer - Green
Price: £13.73

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Straightforward to use and lovely results., 18 April 2016
There are more elaborate spiralizers which will no doubt cut harder vegetables and offer you a choice of cutting various sizes of spaghetti and ribbons. Personally though, all I wanted to be able to do is cut courgette or carrot into spaghetti. That is what it does - easily and without fuss. No great pressure required - just a gentle twist. There are no moving parts and its easy to clean.

I really didn't want another gadget that would take up room in the back of the cupboard. This is the size of a small coffee mug. Perfect.

Modern Drama: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
Modern Drama: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
by Kirsten Shepherd-Barr
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Bargain!, 10 April 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book does exactly what the title claims. It gives you a short but broad overview of its subject.

The story starts in 1880 and proceeds at two decades per chapter. Key dramatists and notable productions get a mention. It really puts in context how we arrived at the theatre of today.

The author is Professor of English and Theatre Studies at St Catherine's College Oxford. Now sometimes people like that can have difficulty talking about their subject to a non-academic audience, but that is not the case here. The book is full of expertise but not jargon. I found it very accessible.

Boston Duvet & Pillow Company Essentials 10.5 Tog Hollowfibre  Duvet, Double, White
Boston Duvet & Pillow Company Essentials 10.5 Tog Hollowfibre Duvet, Double, White
Price: £15.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent duvet at a laughably low price., 22 Mar. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There is absolutely nothing not to like about this duvet - and its at a bargain price.

Well constructed. A medium weight. I would say its perfect for spring and autumn use especially. Bit too warm for me in summer. Not quite warm enough in winter. At this price you could have two though!

Machine washable too. All polyester, with excellent stitching.

How to Write a Brilliant Cv (Brilliant Business)
How to Write a Brilliant Cv (Brilliant Business)
by Jim Bright
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Pretty ho-hum effort., 18 Mar. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I was hoping this book would give my CV a bit of a lift but did not find it all that useful.

It spends most of its time stating the bleeding obvious in the most longwinded fashion.

Better more to the point advice is available online I am sure. But as far as the authors of this book are concerned, we thank you for getting in touch but regret to inform you.....

Philip's Navigator Britain
Philip's Navigator Britain
Price: £19.98

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Old Skool but still very useful, 15 Mar. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The road atlas, which used to find a place in the door pocket or under the seat in most of our cars, is one of those items whose job is more and more being taken over by the internet. There is still a place for the old skool paper atlas though and this must surely be one of the best ones available.

The first thing you notice is that this is a heavy item - something well in excess of an old phonebook.

One of the benefits of online mapping is of course the ability to zoom in and out to the level of detail you require. The map you need to get from Liverpool to Glasgow is a very different one to the map you need to find a particular street in Glasgow. The atlas attempts to address that challenge by providing maps at different levels. There are six pages of "route planner" maps at 1:1000,000 for the big overview. The middle two of these covers Nottingham up to Edinburgh. These are practical and useful. The bulk of the book is taken up with 1:100,000 maps the like of which you will have seen in countless road atlases over the years. Again - practical and useful. Then there are a dozen - "approach maps" to major cities - Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield. These are very useful and will ease your way to finding particular districts and suburbs. Finally there are town plans going down to places the size of Kendal, Stirling or Torquay. This is where I knock a star off. In some instances there are nine of these to a page. They are just not very legible at that size so finding a particular street is not a practical proposition. The double page map for London is OK but most of the other maps in this section are too small to be of use (with my eyesight at least.)

Data is licensed from the Ordnance Survey so you can rely on the accuracy.

Britain means England, Scotland and Wales with their respective islands. Northern Ireland is not included although Belfast makes a tantalising appearance on the edge of the route planner pages.

An odd addition (I thought) was a little feature on mobile takeaway "butty vans" found in laybyes. Eight such vans are reviewed and we are directed to a mobile phone app called Butty Van Finder. A harmless enough couple of pages but fairly superfluous I think.

This is probably the best map of its kind in hard copy, but it cannot compete with the flexibility, updateability and searchability of electronic maps. And if you are lost it cannot immediately plant a little marker pin to show you where you are. It can do no harm to have it tucked under your seat though - particularly if you are still wedded to the printed page.

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