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In the Interests of Safety: The absurd rules that blight our lives and how we can change them
In the Interests of Safety: The absurd rules that blight our lives and how we can change them
by Tracey Brown
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.39

2 of 47 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Have not read the book but heard the authors being ..., 10 July 2014
Have not read the book but heard the authors being interviewed. It doesn't appear this will contribute to a sensible debate on Health and Safety. Many health and safety laws and regulations governing the workplace are there because of historical accidents/deaths. The fact that there are no longer deaths and accidents in these areas are testament to rsik assessment working properly. These authors seem to display no understanding of this,
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 24, 2014 7:36 PM BST


Sing Your Song [DVD]
Sing Your Song [DVD]
Dvd ~ Harry Belafonte
Price: £4.50

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sing Your Song - Harry Belafonte, 24 Sep 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Sing Your Song [DVD] (DVD)
I have been fortunate to see this twice as a cinema this year. The first time at Hay on Wye this year when it was preceded by an interview with Harry Belafonte and followed by a Q & A with the great man. A remarkable account of not just Belafone as an artist but a man who used his art as a political and social activist. He did this during the time of the Civil Rights movement, he did it at the time of starvation in Africa, he did it at a time when his country was waging unjust wars. In his mid 1980s, he's still an activist and encouraging others to do the same. A remarkable man who is not immodest about his achievements but neither is he arrogant. An outstandind documentary about a brilliant human being.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 7, 2012 8:10 PM BST


We Can Make The World Stop
We Can Make The World Stop
Offered by slcmusic
Price: £8.68

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ALUN PARRY We Can Make The World Stop (Irregular Records Recordings), 31 May 2010
Radical singer songwriter Alun Parry hails from Liverpool. He joins a long line of eminent folk singers and songwriters who have emerged from a city that has witnessed bitter political and social struggles and persistent fights against injustice. Although this is not Alun's first release, it is his first on Robb Johnson's Irregular Records label. Alun has also been the driving force in establishing the Working Class Music Festival in Liverpool.

Judging by the high standard of this album, it's easy to see what all the fuss is about. The title track makes an immediate impact. `We Can Make The World Stop' is typical of Alun's thoughtful forthright lyrics where his politics come down firmly on the side of working people. It illustrates what we can achieve if we stand together in solidarity working for progressive causes. A couple of years ago this message may have been treated as old fashioned and naïve. Since the greedy bankers created the current economic crisis, the ideas of solidarity and social ownership have gained greater currency to counteract the wasteful excesses of corporate capitalism .

Football, latterly known as the beautiful game has been tarnished by many scandals. One that is often overlooked is the price construction workers pay to get new stadiums like Wembley finished. The building industry still has more fatalities than other sectors. `Run Patsy Run' tells the story of a Wembley building worker who never saw a ball kicked in anger at the new stadium as he was killed during its construction.

There are a number of tracks that commemorate unsung events and heroes. `The Limerick Soviet' was a little known uprising in 1919 against the British Army in Ireland but was suppressed after two weeks. `Take the Mother's Name' empathetically challenges patriarchal notions of female compliance while the final track, `All Hail To The Market', firmly nails the myth that free market economics is the most sensible way to organise society. There is an alternative.

It would be wrong to portray this album as political polemic. Alun Parry produces songs underpinned by intelligent poetical lyrics combined with tunes and melodies that easily attract and hold the listener. He intersperses the CD with songs of love, passion and family that reflect the warm character and flamboyant characters of Merseyside's rich -and sometimes tarnished - heritage. Make no mistake; Alun Parry is no lightweight performer. He is beginning to fulfil the potential that should see him follow in the illustrious footsteps of the likes of Roy Bailey and Dick Gaughan.


No Title Available

2.0 out of 5 stars Fridge and Freezer defroster, 21 May 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Wasn't greatly impressed. Admittedly our freezer had not been defrosted for some time and ice was quite thick, we had to turn freezer off and therefore it was difficult to ascertain how much the defrosting process was contributed to by the spray and what was due to normal thawing and chipping away at the ice.

I shall probably rely on the thaw method in future


American B Sides
American B Sides
Price: £20.90

4.0 out of 5 stars STEPHEN ASHBROOK - American B Sides, 10 May 2009
This review is from: American B Sides (Audio CD)
Stephen Ashbrook - an American artist based in Portland, Oregon - will be an unfamiliar name to British audiences. Ashbrook writes his own material and has been on the acoustic and rock scene since the early 1990s. In 2000 he was invited by The White to deliver a command performance for President Bill Clinton. He didn't get an invite to The White House from George W. Bush but that can only add to Ashbrook's credibility!

His 1998 release, Navigator, illustrated Ashbrook's acoustic side but, with the release of American B Sides, Ashbrook has put together an album with a full band sound that has veered towards rock folk. American B Sides is an impressive CD that takes us through the trials and tribulations of relationships - both good and bad - and life on and off the road. His songs are atypical, avoiding the use of clichéd lyrics but painting stories of small and mid size towns in South Western America. Nevertheless, his songs also reflect universal themes and emotions that most of us of will recognise and have been through.

Two of the stand out tracks are: the vividly entitled, "Scotch and a Handgun", and "Good Friend". The opening track, "Rock-n-Roll" tells of the up and down emotions of life in a rock band with the exasperation showing through in the lines:

"So excuse me if I'm angry/I don't wanna hear the way it was/And I don't need to be discovered man/ `cause I was never lost!"

The impossibility of a triangular relationship forms the story of "The Hard Part". The victim looks on helplessly and distraught outside a motel room as the one he loves makes out with his best friend. "Houston" is about another triangular relationship, highlighting the loneliness and inspiration that only driving along at 3 a.m., with only the car and a satellite for company, can evoke.

In American B Sides, Stephen Ashbrook has produced an enigmatic collection of songs, backed by a fine band of musicians who complement his rich expressive voice. Ashbrook is a songwriter who defies easy categorising and has a voice that is reminiscent of the great 1970s American folk troubadour, David Ackles, and uncompromising Canadian singer/songwriter, Bruce Cockburn. Like all the best songwriters, in his lyrics he paints extraordinary pictures from every day occurrences.


Chasin' Wild Trains
Chasin' Wild Trains
Price: £12.45

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars KIM CARNES Chasin' Wild Trains (Corazong 255082), 10 Aug 2008
This review is from: Chasin' Wild Trains (Audio CD)
Nashville based singer songwriter - and, incidentally, former New Christy Minstrel - Kim Carnes is a long established artist and songwriter. Although she signed her first solo record deal as far back as 1972, Carnes really shot to international prominence in 1981 when that great album 'Mistaken Identity' was released. The disc (or vinyl LP as it was in those days) spawned the massively popular single 'Bette Davis Eyes' and was followed by 5 commercially successful albums in seven years. Carnes changed her musical direction more firmly towards country music in the 1990s, cementing this transition in 1994 when she decided to move to Nashville. The move has paid off for her as she's rattled off a steady series of hits for country artists like Kenny Rogers, Reba McIntyre and Vince Gill, as well as developing writing collaborations with the likes of Kim Richey and Matraca Berg. In the intervening years, Carnes has released the odd vocal collaboration but this is her first original release since 1991.

The CD opens with the powerful ballad, 'One beat at a time', (co-written with Marc Jordan), scheduled for a November UK single release. Such is the strength of album that it's one of several songs that could have fitted the singles bill. Although my favourite track is undoubtedly 'Lucid Dreams' (those dreams so vivid that you wish they could continue when you wake up), including a line that imagines her 'riding bare backed across the sands/playing lead guitar in Bob Dylan's Band' but presumably not at the same! Another track, 'If I was an angel', is reminiscent in style and delivery of John Prine's wonderful 'Angel from Montgomery' but none the worse for the comparison.

Most have instantly catchy recognisable choruses and riffs, although there really should be a credit to Lennon and McCartney on the second track on the CD - 'Just to see you smile' - for the 'Penny Lane' inspired (dare I say copied?) guitar riff that normally accompanies 'there beneath the blue suburban skies etc.' There are other songs - 'Still warmed by the thrill' (a lyrical and vocal collaboration with Greg Barnhill) and 'Goodnight Angel' - that tend to tend to creep up on you more slowly and grap you pleasantly by surprise after several plays.

Chasin' Wild Trains has very few weak tracks and moves from strength to strength with each play. On this performance Carnes clearly belongs in the more thoughtful popular Americana camp of songwriting than the country and western mainstream, normally associated with old fashioned parts of Nashville's music industry. What Carnes hasn't lost is that rare ability to write quality songs and deliver them in her trademark raspy husky voice that makes her stand out from Nashville's (and for that matter America's) run of the mill women singers.


Mudshow
Mudshow
Price: £10.76

4.0 out of 5 stars KRISTA DETOR Mudshow (Corazong 255087), 10 Aug 2008
This review is from: Mudshow (Audio CD)
This is the second offering from Krista Detor and her first for this label. Detor began her singer songwriting career as a 16 year old in Los Angeles. Since then she has lived and travelled widely throughout the less salubrious places of America and parts of Asia. If some of these were scary at the time, they still retain that scariness in retrospect but no doubt the experiences have provided a rich source of material for her songs. More recently, she's settled in the sedate rolling green hills of Southern Indiana in the American mid west.

The climate seems to suit her songwriting and singing voice. Detor is clearly a poetic lyricist who has the knack of encasing life experiences and stories in captivating vignettes. Her perceptive observations and off beat tales, delivered with an absorbing musical intensity, have been favourably compared with the likes of Leonard Cohen and Laura Nyro, although her low profile vocal delivery is more akin to that of Lucinda Williams and Mary Chapin Carpenter.

This 13 track CD, including two bonus songs, is intriguing listening. All the tracks are written by Detor, apart from two that are collaborations with David Weber, who has done an excellent all round production job and provides mainstay background vocals and acoustic guitar. Her core of backing musicians provide sterling support with a range of acoustic stringed instruments and drums, while Detor accompanies herself primarily on piano. This is a nicely balanced collection put together with care (dark and light; pace and tempo). The title track is mesmerising, as are 'Abigail's song' and 'The Ghosts of Peach Street', while 'Steal me a car' shows the raunchier side of her nature.

Altogether, a fascinating lyricist who knows how to construct songs and grab the listener's attention. Undoubtedly destined for greater prominence and acclaim. Even though it makes for great material for her songs, let's hope her living and travelling situations are less precarious in future.


Doolally
Doolally
Price: £11.76

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars JEZ LOWE & THE BAD PENNIES Doolally (Tantobie TTRCD 105), 10 Aug 2008
This review is from: Doolally (Audio CD)
I was never quite sure about Jez Lowe's music. I liked some of his earlier material but didn't think I could tolerate a full CD. That view began to change when I saw him perform a couple of years back as part of the 'Songwriters in the Round' tour. I still, however, had a few toes in the doubting Thomas camp. Then I had the opportunity to hear his new release, Doolally, performed with the support of his Bad Pennies. I have now willingly jumped feet first into his fold of followers.

Doolally is Lowe's fourteenth album of original songs since his 1980 debut ' a remarkable achievement. The album features some outstanding singers and musicians, mainly in the form of his long time collaborators, The Bad Pennies. They have recently lost the considerable talents of Simon Haworth but show no signs of being the worse for wear. Kate Bramley provides sterling vocal support, taking the lead on 'Regina Inside' and her playing of the 5-string violin is a revelation. Andy May is a gifted musician contributing to great effect on smallpipes, whistle, piano and accordion and Sean Taylor supplements on vocals as well as playing a mean 5 string bass. Lowe was also lucky to have the undoubted talents of Bob Fox, a close friend of the band, and one who shares their northeast roots.

This is an album of remarkably fine quality and Lowe uses his well honed imaginative songwriting skills to draw upon the great musical, social and political heritage of his native northeast, tackling songs that range from the global to the colloquial, often pointing out that the space in between is never as far as we think.

He illustrates effectively how little has changed ' a number of themes like hatred, prejudice and immigration are not new but the lessons he draws are very different from much of the tabloid press. Fine examples of this are 'Donnini Doolally' the song from which the album title is taken. It's based on the true experiences of Dennis Donnini, the son of Italian immigrants, who fled fascist Italy to make a new life in the northeast. Dennis became the youngest British soldier to be (posthumously) awarded the Victoria Cross, while his father was interned on the Isle of Man. By contrast, 'Keep them Bairns away' shows how innocent adults can be the subject of witch hunts and malicious rumours amidst the moral panic over paedophilia.

There is an underlying quirkiness in Lowe's lyrics that is always likely to steer his songs off on an unusual course. 'Vikings' exemplifies this, as Jez ponders on what the invaders would make of Northumberland a thousand years after their first forage. He concludes through their eyes that something's haven't changed and waging war against the weak is one of them. The subject matter of 'Calico' takes us to the other side of the Atlantic, and was written after Jez visited a gold-mining museum and Wild West tourist town in Southern California. In the song the mannequins and dummies come to life and there's an underlying poignancy (underpinned by Kate's violin and Bob's vocals) as they are trapped in the same unrelenting, and mainly unrewarding, lifestyle of the miners who used to work the mines during the Gold Rush era.

The CD finishes with two outstanding songs. The beautiful 'Gull's Eye' is a tale of the coal collectors who combed the beaches of East Durham when the mines were thriving and there was plenty of coal to be found. The song is delivered with spine tingling harmony by the four unaccompanied voices of the band. It's a rendering that meets the Coope Boyes and Simpson standard and you can't heap higher praise than that! The finale is 'Bloodstained', a song that Jez first performed on the Songwriters tour. It amply illustrates how organised religion has been responsible for many of the conflicts on our planet that result in bloodstains. These conflicts, many in the name of religion, continue to blight the everyday lives of too many people.

This CD is a collection of subtly crafted songs using an imagination that rampages delightfully without running riot. Jez Lowe is a modern treasure of British folk music who is beginning to receive wider recognition in places like North America and Australia. This is a carefully nurtured and thoughtfully produced album that should be a must for all folk fans. One of the outstanding CDs for 2004.


Land Of Milk and Honey
Land Of Milk and Honey
Price: £12.71

5.0 out of 5 stars ELIZA GILKYSON Land of Milk and Honey (Red House Records RHR CD 174), 10 Aug 2008
This review is from: Land Of Milk and Honey (Audio CD)
It's not been an easy time to stick your head above the parapet and disagree with the right wing hysteria generated by George W and his cohorts in the USA. Eliza Gilkyson is one of a number of artists who have had the courage to express a different view. Not that Eliza is unused to this position. She's been putting forward radical views and supporting so called unpopular causes through her music and activism for many years. The clarion call for peace is growing louder and the hitherto unpopular stances gaining greater credence. Land of Milk and Honey is a personal and political statement illustrating how her core beliefs impact on all facets of her everyday life. At a time when George W is waging war on Iraq and boosting the campaign funds from the 'haves and the have mores' for his re-election, the Milk has gone sour and the Honey is no longer so sweet.

From the very first song, 'Hiway 9', which tackles the real reason behind Bush's invasion of Iraq - O.I.L. - Gilkyson nails her colours to a mast that still has Woody Guthrie's initials deeply carved on it. It's appropriate, therefore, that she has for the first time recorded one of Guthrie's lost songs, the wonderful 'Peace Call'. Written in the early 1950s, its message is timeless. Sharing vocal duties on this track are Mary Chapin Carpenter, Patty Griffin and Iris Dement ' worth the price of the album on its own.

As for the rest, there are songs of imperfect love and difficult relationships, like 'Wonderland' and the self explanatory torment of 'Separated'. Gilkyson has the knack of delivering her more personal songs with the careworn voice of someone who has been those people. There are some bleak yet uplifting songs of human experience ' the descent brought about by substance abuse is the theme of 'Dark Side of Town', while the 'Ballad of Yvonne Johnson' is a true-life story of human tragedy brought about by a litany family and cultural abuses ' hard to know how she survived. Incidentally, Johnson co-wrote the song.

Gilkyson is supported by a great bunch of musicians, including Mark Hallman, who has done a fine job of producing this brave and compelling album. It's an album that ventures into the territory of subject matter that is not only alarming and distressing but informative. Thank goodness there are artists like Eliza Gilkyson who have the courage to sing and write about these issues in an American climate where dissent is considered unpatriotic and the ghost of Senator Joe McCarthy looms large in Bush's fundamentalist Christian-dominated White House. This album may not be Fahrenheit 9/11 for beginners but it will challenge your assumptions and hopefully persuade you that Eliza Gilkyson is a powerful force with which to be reckoned.


At Least That Much Was True
At Least That Much Was True
Price: £13.41

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars JEFF TALMADGE At Least That Much Was True (Corazong 255 096), 10 Aug 2008
Although the title of this CD closely resembles a line from one of Spandau Ballet's greatest hits, that's where any resemblance sharply stops. It seems that Americana singer songwriter Jeff Tallmadge has reached his current occupation via a varied and circuitous route having had a number of highly varied and interesting position ranging from janitor and seminary student to Capitol Hill Congressional press secretary and associate major league baseball scout!

Talmadge falls most definitively into the mould of a singer songwriter who describes stories of people and places he's seen and visited, and many derived from his own personal experiences. On first listening this CD feels unremarkable but when you get below the surface of the poetic lyrics and intricate melodies, you appreciate how well crafted and emotive are this writer's words.

With the current obsession for single track downloads and shuffle plays, many people (including some artists) fail to remember that albums should be heard as a whole with tracks designed to be heard sequentially and interpedently, rather than a random listening experience. Even if an album does not have a theme, the tracks are usually designed to flow into one another to form a cohesive project that creates mood, balance and a varied tempo. Talmadge's CD definitively reinforces the ethos that albums should be heard rather than chopped into isolated independent tracks.

There isn't a bad song on the CD. Some however, gradually envelop the consciousness in an almost subliminal way. 'The Wrong Train' is based on Talmadge's experience of a train journey when gig touring in the northern part of the Netherlands, during which he ends up on the wrong train but nonetheless finds pleasure in the experience. He still arrives at his destination even if it wasn't by the route he intended. He recounts that: 'Sometimes in life we think we're headed in the wrong direction' only to find that 'we've chosen a different route to get to our destination'. One has the feeling that he may not have been so sanguine if his train journey had been on the West Coast mainline ' a journey that sometimes saps the will to live!

'Because of you' has a similar feel and quality to Richard Shindell, while 'So the Blues Would Stay' could easily have been written by the likes of Tom Russell or Dave Alvin. However, while Talmadge has clearly absorbed influences of fellow songwriters from Texas and the mid west, his style and delivery is very much his own.

All the songs ' bar two ' are self penned, apart from his version of Dylan's 'Girl from the North Country' that fits comfortably into the mood of the album, and 'The White Cross', co written with friend Claudia Russell. They came up with a similar idea for this song interpedently but around the same time. In parts of the UK people often leave flowers at the side of the road to mark the spot where a loved one has been called, in parts of Europe they build a small shrine and in parts of the USA they leave a white cross.

There are a plethora of singer songwriters in America who fall into the fairly amorphous category now referred to as Americana. Many have jumped on the bandwagon but are little more than average. In the case of Jeff Talmadge, he is a singer and lyricist who stands head and shoulders above the pack and has every right to be regarded in the same high esteem as the likes of those he sought to emulate.


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