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P. J. T. Brown "edmo" (Palmers Green)
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Sea Eagle - Werke für Horn
Sea Eagle - Werke für Horn
Price: £13.43

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When you eventually glimpse a Sea Eagle it is a thing of beauty., 23 April 2015
This probably will not come up as a 'verified purchase' as I pre-ordered my copy from NMC. I've listened to this CD several times because it is so enjoyable. In essence I'm responding to the previous review of 'too modern' for that listener's tastes. Fair enough, but don't be put off - this is not atonal, serial or abstract, and some of the pieces are immediately accessible - and all will grow the more you listen.

Gerald Barry's 'Jabberwocky' from 'Through the looking glass' is a great favourite of mine, so catchy, and interesting for its vocal first in French and then in German. The Matthews Brothers, Colin & David give us individually composed works, 'Three of a kind' from Colin, and David's Quintet for Horn and Strings - the final dash of the 2nd. movement quite brimming with colour.

Huw Watkins 'Trio' is also very accessible from the off - a quite beautiful piece. Mark-Antony Turnage's melancholy 'Prayer for a great man' with perhaps just a two note nod to Vaughan Williams's 'The lark ascending', with the piece ending in mystery.

The CD demonstrates the skill of Richard Watkins's horn playing - and the first track does just that with the technically very difficult 'Sea Eagle' by Maxwell Davies - listen and be amazed!


Snake Hunting on the Devil's Highway
Snake Hunting on the Devil's Highway
Price: £1.55

4.0 out of 5 stars Daily encounters with death, all with a joke and a laugh., 29 Dec. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Anything, or almost anything, about man's encounters with snakes fascinates me - and the more danger the better.

Richard Lapidus, and his friend Buz, collect specimens of snakes, lizards, toads from the southern States, particularly Arizona. The style is folksy, laid back, and in the initial chapters it is the local police who pose the greatest danger, lying in wait to catch any infringement of collecting, speeding, and possible drug running.

They clearly know exactly what they are doing, and are very well informed about the habits and dangers of the snakes, and the collecting needs of various universities and museums. To a degree the tone belies their expertise.

For a while I missed the thrill of imminent death, a staple of many similar tomes, but the book ratchets up the adrenalin in the final chapters - a worthwhile addition to the literature.

I read the kindle edition, short punchy chapters in the main, with a dozen or so black and white illustrations.


Bialetti: 6 Cup Aeternum Allegra Espresso Coffee Maker in Silver - Sleeved
Bialetti: 6 Cup Aeternum Allegra Espresso Coffee Maker in Silver - Sleeved
Offered by Kitchen Essence
Price: £22.46

5.0 out of 5 stars New and improved seal., 22 Sept. 2014
I've been using various size Bialetti for several years and have had problems from time to time with the vacuum sealing sufficiently to transform water into coffee smoothly, particularly when replacing the seal. I saw this, to me new range, at a country market in Brittany. I immediately checked out the vacuum which has been very slightly modified, and improved. Been using it for a week now with 100% success! percolates in about 3 mins, the whole process from cold being roughly 10 minutes.


Casio F-91W-1YER Men's Resin Digital Watch
Casio F-91W-1YER Men's Resin Digital Watch
Price: £8.97

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the 7 wonders of the world, 17 Jan. 2014
The cheapest, smartest, functional watch on the market. Easy to set up and you can see the time in the dark. Discreet and light - a good fit - why would you need anything else?


Cambridge Audio MINX GO Bluetooth Active
Cambridge Audio MINX GO Bluetooth Active

5.0 out of 5 stars Very easy to set up, 8 Aug. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I never look forward to setting up new computer equipment - but this took a couple of minutes. (Coincidentally I was amazed to find that my Amazon Cloud player had automatically added most of the albums I've bought over the last few years - so now I don't have to go through my wife's studio/car to find the CDs.)

Having had Cambridge Audio products before I thought it would be good - and it is outstanding - a great enhancement for my Dell laptop (Inspiron N5040).


Beethoven: Piano Trios Op.1 no.1 & Op.97
Beethoven: Piano Trios Op.1 no.1 & Op.97
Price: £15.98

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Track listings incorrect, 25 Mar. 2013
This is not a review - ah just like the previous non-review - but to point out that the track listings above are wrong - no 1st piano concerto, just the two piano trios:

Piano Trio in E flat major, Op.1, No.1

+

Piano Trio in B flat major, Op.97, "Archduke Trio"

My rating merely parrots BBC Music Magazine (April 2012) with Michael Tanner favouring the Op. 1, No.1. He also writes: 'The recording is super-rich'.


The Error World
The Error World
by Simon Garfield
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The errors of our ways, 20 Nov. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Error World (Paperback)
I purchased Simon Garfield's memoir after reading an interview with him - something chimed, an addiction to collecting, in his case primarily stamps - in mine - books. Some reviewers point to the book's preoccupation with stamps, and although this is the unifying theme there's also a lot else - as is not always the case with experts - the writing is always interesting, even though I've little interest in stamps, beyond having also collected as a child - my grandmother's bulldog savaged the collection, thereafter I lost interest.

For me the book's primary themes are his exploration of the links between collecting and grief - and the meltdown of his marriage. Garfield's specialization is stamp 'errors' and the way in which they are a manifestation of his own pathologies, an area (partially) explored with their marriage guidance counsellor. Garfield doesn't join up all the dots - he leaves an open field as much for himself as for the reader - and as with any counselling / analysis this is as it should be - he has the rest of his life to work this out - at the least he now has the map(s).

Many other people appear - David Hockney, Will Self (they used to walk to school together) - a host of eccentric collectors, as well as various personalities he has interviewed in his career as a journalist. He is also interesting on the world of auction houses, as well as buying and selling in general.

Did it help with my own addiction? It's clarified the need to focus my collecting - so armfuls of books are now on their way to the charity shop, and I've just ordered another of his books...

4.5 stars


December Carols
December Carols
Offered by marvelio-uk
Price: £8.89

5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning!, 12 Feb. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: December Carols (Audio CD)
These stunning arrangements by Alison Beck are not pieces you are going to get out just at Christmas to accompany your annual sentimentality - the carol 'element' really has to be listened for. It is the range of styles from Tango 'in the style of Piazzolla' through a rondo on French Carols with Dvorak's Slavonic dances, to a grand finale of 'We three kings of orient' are with Debussy's "La Puerta del Vino" '.

Alison Beck (piano), Elizabeth Beck (violin) play with an intensity that drives each track with a magnificence that has real emotional power. Musically you can't ascribe each piece to quite like anything you've heard before, yet you have heard it - an exercise that if trivialised as pastiche would not do them justice - but it's not pastiche - a genuine originality runs through all 10 tracks - that brings the listener back again and again - and they work at any time of the year.

Buy it for your self - or that music buff friend who seems to have everything.

As for the Beck sisters - well I'd marry both of them just to have the pleasure of a live performance night after night - but as I'm already married this excellent recording will be just fine!


Ian Dury: The Definitive Biography
Ian Dury: The Definitive Biography
by Will Birch
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.99

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This review is too long - but what the hell!, 23 Jan. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
'Hallo sausages...' were the only two words that Ian Dury managed of his autobiography, understandable as he was exhausted and enduring the final stages of the cancer that would kill him a few weeks later. Will Birch's remarkable biography let's Dury speak for himself utilising the author's interviews with him, his family, and the many people who met and worked with Dury. Birch has a secure grip on London's post flower power/hippie scene as it fractures and partially morphs via pub rock into punk,as well as developments on the fringes of reggae and rap. If you enjoyed Mat Whitecross's biopic 'Sex And Drugs And Rock And Roll' (2009) - with Andy Serkis's stunning portrayal of Dury primarily as a singer, Birch's wider lens records Dury's considerable talents in a variety of fields including his appalling behaviour to others whether family, friends, lovers or colleagues.

Dury did not commit to a career as singer until he was thirty - until then artist and painter seemed a more likely career, having trained at Walthamstow College of Art and the Royal College of Art and been taught by, among others, Peter Blake. On his marriage to the artist Elizabeth Rothmell, he described himself on the marriage licence as a `painter and freelance illustrator', he was at the time working for the Sunday Times. Over the last four decades of the Twentieth Century he would also be a photographer (under the pseudonym `Duncan Poundcake'), actor - both on stage and in films (with Polanski directing), raconteur, interviewer and teacher and charity worker - a role he relished towards the end of his life.

Ten years after his death he is primarily remembered as a singer - with his group the Blockheads - a name devised from the uniform head shot image cricket fans present: `whose "shapeless haircuts" failed to enhance their "ghastly patterned shirts"'. The other abiding memory appears to be `that he wasn't a very nice man' - the most common response I received when people noted that I was reading his biography. My old man says that he was known in certain London art circles as `Injury' and said he was often to be seen around the capital with a teenage girl on his arm. How did this middle class grammar schoolboy from Bucks become `Old Mr. Shagnasty' a single minded charismatic raspberry ripple who reflected in his musical style the working class demotic of London's East End - and catalyst for punk and rap?

Pat Few, an early girlfriend wrote:

`I was a little Cockney girl, and Ian was posh. I became posh later, and he became a Cockney!'

One of his students describes him thus:

`An intriguing kind of Cockney, who was not only very bright but veered giddily between middle class and working class.'

Dury said of his own lifestyle: `We were living a sort of flat-cap, Brideshead life.'

Even though he realised he was a `crap singer', performing gave him the adrenalin and power that he required to make the hugely desired impact of his personality. Dury's abilities in the music industry were a combination of perseverance, business sense, talented partners and more importantly his skill in penning great lyrics. `I consummated Linda, on a bench in Tufnell Park' doesn't sound very promising, but as Will Birch points out even at this early stage it has the key elements, a psychosexual geography of place, that comprise a Dury lyric, sexual conquest, everyday object and local geography.

Dury was also influenced by the post-war American scene - and particularly the poets. Ginsberg, Corso, Ferlinghetti, the Beats, he also attended the renowned Poets of the World festival at the Albert Hall (1965). He utilised William Burroughs's cut-up technique for lyrics, as had Mick Jagger in the early seventies when completing some of the lyrics for `Exile on Main Street'.

Dury's hit band `Kilburn and the High Roads' were described as an `eclectic mix of rock `n roll, reggae & calypso' and they established a small following of loyal supporters via the `pub rock' movement. This grass-roots approach appealing to Dury's working class solidarity persona. They gained more national exposure when they made appeared as the warm up act for groups such as Thunderclap Newman and The Who, though the former was only a college gig.

Birch's biography details nearly 60 years of Dury's antics - a gradual progression towards megalomania and almost psychopathic behaviour as the fame, the money, the drugs and the alcohol took hold. He was addicted to drugs (particularly sleeping pills, rejecting cocaine on the grounds that it was a posh drug) and alcohol for much of his adult life, yet his inner demons growl for more. Some of Dury's victims, often close friends responded by walking away for years, and one previous girlfriend, identified only as `The overcoat', declines to be named, gives a detailed account of his controlling and demeaning behaviour. Martin Rhys Jones says `Ian's attitude towards women was extreme in both his contempt and his adoration'.

Dury's fractured vision of childhood was a consequence of a number of traumas: the disappearance of his father in 1943 when one year old, contracting Polio from which he was not expected to survive, being sent away to boarding school where he was bullied by staff and older boys as well as being sexually abused, `I saw some heavy duty sadism a couple of times with a bloke hitting a kid with a stick, kids who were small and disabled and mentally not on the case'. No restoration or repair beyond the partial catharsis driving his own artistic vision:

In the deserts of Sudan
And the Gardens, of Japan
From Milan, to Yucatan,
Every woman's every man,
Hit me with your rhythm stick
Hit me! Hit me!
Je t'adore, ich liebe dich
Hit me! Hit me! Hit me!
Hit me with your rhythm stick
Hit me slowly, hit me quick
Hit me! Hit me! Hit me!

Acknowledgement must also be given to a number of other writers and musicians with whom Dury worked, particularly Chaz Jankel who was so key to Dury's success, and Russell Hardy. It was the Jankel and Ed Speight who helped him with his utterly original song to commemorate the International Year of the Disabled - `Spasticus Autisticus':

I'm Spasticus! I'm Spasticus!
I'm Spasticus Autisticus!!
I widdle when I piddle
`Cos my middle is a riddle

According to Birch he wrote it to be an `anti-charity song' - to celebrate his love of the film `Spartacus' starring Kirk Douglas - and to get it banned by the BBC - which it was.

His influence on Punk Rock comes from Malcolm McLaren's advice to John Lydon (Johnny Rotten) `to study the Dury stage persona "and learn" '. Dury initially dismissive of the Clash - calling them public school punks - quite! `Reasons to be Cheerful (Part Three)' has been credited as the first Rap record. He also assisted in the propagation of `Essex Man' with `Billericay Dickey' - post-modern music hall - influenced by such figures as Max Wall and Lenny Bruce. He was also a major influence on `Madness'.

Will Birch's biography is a thorough portrait of the life and times of Ian Dury as East End troubadour & rock icon. The book appears to have had little coverage and fewer reviews - attention being focused primarily on Mat Whitecross's film. This is a pity - maybe he wasn't `a very nice man' but his style has left a unique impression and this book should be read if you want to know what was going down on the London Music scene in the seventies and eighties.


Much Ado about (Practically) Nothing: A History of the Noble Gases
Much Ado about (Practically) Nothing: A History of the Noble Gases
by David E. Fisher
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A noble read, 23 Jan. 2011
Despite my ignoble scientific background (failed 'O' levels in biology, chemistry and physics - but a maths pass - third time around) I found David Fisher's book fascinating. The title, though playful, doesn't really hint that this book is essentially about how scientists have engaged with the problem of establishing how old our planet is. He combines an historical approach, usually via each of the Noble Gasses, with his own researches over the last fifty years. Many lively stories are told around the various peccadilloes of the good and the great.

There is plenty of science too - calculating the age/depletion rate of K/Ar, searching for the remains of meteorites and speculating on the development of the universe since the Big Bang. His ability to put over the concepts so that a lay person understands (well almost) are genuinely exciting - the concept is understood - even if my maths is a tad lacking!

One chapter should be read by all those who believe in intelligent design/creationism - particularly those scientists who believe - we are told by Christine O'Donnell there are hundreds! 'Interlude: Helium, Argon and creationism' describes the author's lively public debate with Henry M Morris, regarded as the founder of the modern creationist movement, with some interesting observations about the audience provided by his wife. Naturally the perception of the many fundamentalists/believers present was that he lost the debate because 'you can't argue with the Bible as the living word of God', but the author may have sown some seeds of knowledge and method.

David Fisher was nearing eighty, and recently retired, when he wrote this book - but the style is one of palpable excitement and seemingly of a far younger man.


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