Profile for Gavin Wilson > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Gavin Wilson
Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,562,815
Helpful Votes: 44

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Gavin Wilson

Page: 1 | 2
Offered by The Source
Price: 8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Brown's masterpiece, 20 Jun 2012
This review is from: Journey (Audio CD)
This is an extraordinary album, given the dire 'Kingdom Come' and the groove-less 'Galactic Zoo Dossier' that preceded it. Even the 'Crazy World of Arthur Brown' sounds relatively worthless, once you exclude the magnificent 'Fire' and Vincent Crane's 'Rest Cure' composition.

This is a drummer-less masterpiece -- one of the first LPs I know of that used the Bentley Drum Machine. It's relentlessly heavy and groove-driven. The space sounds provided by Victor Peraino on theremin seem appropriate to the Apollo-obsessed era. Listening to it again almost 40 years on -- Kingdom Come performed this album at my school back in 1973 -- I can't help but feel that Brown was an undercover evangelist. The single, 'Spirit of Joy', and the stand-out track, 'Come Alive', lyrically suggest some latent religiosity. But it can easily be ignored. If it is christianity, there are no threats; it is a purely positive vibes message.

Snap this album up while it is still available.

A Very Peculiar Practice - The Complete BBC Series - [Network] - [DVD] [1986]
A Very Peculiar Practice - The Complete BBC Series - [Network] - [DVD] [1986]
Dvd ~ Peter Davison
Price: 13.25

5 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No wonder Davies stopped after the second series, 20 Jun 2012
'Very Peculiar Practice' is one of those programmes which achieved almost mythical status for those of us who enjoyed series one immensely but then missed all or part of series two. The problem was that, although the BBC repeated series one, it never showed series two again. Why was this? Had series two somehow been erased in the Beeb's ill-judged videotape reclaim campaign of the 1970s? Clearly not, as 'Peculiar' originated in the late 80s.

But seen now, at last, the reason is obvious. Series two is rubbish. Every character has become a hackneyed caricature of their series one persona. There is nothing new to discover about each of the established characters, unless Bob's latent homosexuality comes as a surprise to you. The over-acting is tedious: the Polish art lecturer is especially over the top, Barbara Flynn's scheming becomes wearing, and even Bob's naked capitalism was well past its sell-by date. The American vice-chancellor is also utterly unbelievable, as are the plot extremes, in which Lowlands University discards all students and departments that do not aid its military research endeavours.

However the general ethos of series two -- of students under financial pressure and universities trying to extract more money from them -- is still relevant. It's interesting that one example that was designed to shock in 1988 -- that of a student having to work eight hours a week stacking shelves to make ends meet -- is now a commonplace.

Series one remains amusing and enjoyable. The 'Polish Practice' DVD might pass the time if you are bored, but it is quickly forgettable.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 25, 2012 5:32 AM BST

Dear John - Series 2 [DVD]
Dear John - Series 2 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ralph Bates
Price: 11.00

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The concept falls apart as the plot is driven by the actors, 26 Sep 2010
This review is from: Dear John - Series 2 [DVD] (DVD)
One can imagine writer John Sullivan being buffeted by the demands of the key actors: Belinda Lang had become so one-dimensional as the frigid 'Tiger' that she half-leaves the series (supposedly in Greece) for a better project elsewhere. Ralph Bates presumably had demanded to be a slightly less pathetic character by achieving some success with the women, but now that the character who was going to complete this arc (Kate/'Tiger') is disappearing, Sullivan suddenly needed to create an attractive new character for 'John' to get his leg over with. Peter Blake as Kirk St Moritz also wanted to be less one-dimensional, so Sullivan allows him to disclose some feelings of affection towards Tiger, which are even reciprocated to a minor extent. Only the magnificent Peter Denyer as Ralph Dring keeps his character on a steady path.

Ricky Fortune only appears in one episode, and the woman at the back of the class who never said much anyway leaves for Newcastle at the end of the same episode.

The series descends into comic-book fantasy when the Kirk St Moritz persona is brought back to beat up a gang of Hells Angels in an unseen pub fight that leaves his hair and 'Saturday Night Fever' suit untarnished.

The only credible real-life character in the whole series is John himself; everyone else is comic-book and a poor advert for the writer's craft. The most touching and even believable scene comes at the end of the Christmas episode when he has the choice of spending the holiday with his still-quite-sexy ex-wife or having dinner with the crabby Mrs Lermanski.

Chance In A Million Series 1 [DVD] [1984]
Chance In A Million Series 1 [DVD] [1984]
Dvd ~ Simon Callow
Price: 12.67

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pure Sitcom, 31 Aug 2010
I watched this series DVD back-to-back with series one of 'Dear John', which was of much the same period, and it was a useful contrast. Despite the presence of two heavyweight actors -- Callow and Blethyn -- I felt that their characters were pure cartoons. There was no pathos to either, and I just couldn't warm to them. In contrast, the two lead characters in 'Dear John' are very believable, but not so funny in themselves.

I may be completely wrong but, in terms of the writers' priorities in 'Chance in a Million', it feels like the situations came first, and the characters were developed as an after-thought. (Blethyn, though revealing herself on several occasions to be a voluptuous woman, gave Alison a voice that I found particularly annoying.) It was if the writers dreamt up a series of crazy situations, and then concocted a pair of general-purpose silly characters to be faced by those situations.

I also thought the interior sets very 'stagey' -- rooms far bigger than a usual living room, and often split-level.

Note also a very rare TV drama appearance in Episode Six by Mandy Rice Davies -- yes, she of the Profumo Affair!

Fegen and Norris went on to write 'The Brittas Empire' where the balance between situation, cartoon characters and sympathetic characters was much improved.

Dear John - Series 1 [DVD]
Dear John - Series 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ralph Bates
Price: 11.50

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as I remembered..., 28 Aug 2010
This review is from: Dear John - Series 1 [DVD] (DVD)
This is another of those delayed releases which got better and better in the memory simply because you couldn't get it. Now it's finally available, I have to say that the whole thing looks a bit thin. The late Ralph Bates provides very few laughs, but then he was more of a Hammer film actor than a comedian, and it was his character's job to be poignant and sympathetic. I believe this was Belinda Lang's first major TV role, and again she doesn't have many funny lines, except the put-downs she delivers towards Kirk St Moritz. It was her job basically to be stunningly beautiful, thereby posing the inevitable two questions "How on earth could she be frigid?" and "When is she going to go out with John?".

To my mind, the only reason this series has legs are the great two characterisations of Ralph and Kirk. I hate to think how many times, in the 25 years since this series was first shown, have I used his inappropriate punch-line "That's the kind of guy I am".

It's probably fitting that these DVDs are released so soon after the death of the underrated Peter Denyer, who plays Ralph. He was fantastic as Dennis in 'Please Sir' and 'The Fenn Street Gang', he was good in 'Agony', and he was superb as the bespectacled Ralph in 'Dear John'.

But I have to say that having watched Series 1, I'm in two minds about buying Series 2. The thinness of the material provides a good argument for the team-writing ethos used in US sitcoms such as friends. But John Sullivan was clearly highly rated at the BBC at the time, not too long after his success with 'Citizen Smith', and they even let him write the theme tune, which frankly, though memorable, is also a bit thin.

Asus Eee (7 inch) Netbook 900MHz 512MB 4GB Linux (White)
Asus Eee (7 inch) Netbook 900MHz 512MB 4GB Linux (White)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How now?, 8 Aug 2010
The Eee was, and to some extent still is, a wonderful device. It is light and much smaller than most devices that today claim to be a 'netbook'. The Linux version boots up so quickly, that it puts Microsoft to shame. It is very chea.

But, a couple of years on, there are some problems.

For a start, there's the limited page width. To see the right-hand side of any Firefox page, you have to move the on-screen slider across. To connect to any secured Wi-fi modem, you have to key in the access code every time, unless you have switched across to the advanced mode of the operating system. Both of these limitations cast a bit of a downer on a machine that is primarily for connecting to the Web.

Installing new software is not at all user-friendly compared to Windows. Even upgrading a software version requires you to go out to the Internet to look for help to find the precise statements you need to use. And most users will now be in that boat, because there's a new version of Firefox out there, and every time you use the new Windows Live Hotmail you get a warning that you need to upgrade your browser. If you don't, Hotmail misbehaves.

I have both the Linux and XP versions of the 701, as well as a Linux version of the 1000H. I would NOT recommend putting XP on the 701. It runs like a dog. Each Wednesday is particularly bad, assuming Microsoft has been following its 'Patch Tuesday' policy and releasing all sorts of mandatory XP updates. 512MB is not sufficient for XP these days. With this processor, you cannot really do two jobs concurrently on XP.

Do not get me wrong. The 701 was the first product I bought from Asus, and I think they build great products. I can't wait for their tablet Eee. The Linux-based 701 could have destroyed much of Microsoft's laptop business, but it was let down by either Asus's choice of Linux or the Linux community. I don't know enough about Linux to say. If there is a Linux which enables you to upgrade and install software with the push-button ease of Windows, that is what is needed for the Eee.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 21, 2011 3:57 PM BST

Tutti Frutti [DVD]
Tutti Frutti [DVD]
Dvd ~ Robbie Coltrane
Price: 7.86

1 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A production of its time and place, 31 July 2010
This review is from: Tutti Frutti [DVD] (DVD)
Like some other reviewers, I was disappointed by this series. I admit I am a southerner, and I found the dialogue very difficult to follow for long periods. The sound is poorly recorded (mono) by today's standards, and several of the characters fail to pronounce consonants clearly. The only actors I could always understand were Richard Wilson and the non-Scottish one, i.e. Emma Thompson.

Another aspect I found annoying was the constant aggression and needling between the characters. If this is at all representative of the prevailing Scottish attitude today, I am not surprised that life expectancy is among the lowest in the UK. Lighten up, guys! Try being nice to each other!

And Robbie Coltrane may be able to dance, of sorts, but his mimed singing and keyboards playing are poorly concealed.

There have been plenty of comedies about 'crap bands on the road' since this one, and most of them are better, in my opinion.

What I most enjoyed about this DVD was the closing credits for each episode. And without Tutti Frutti, arguably we might not have seen 'Absolutely' or 'Rab C Nesbitt'.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 21, 2012 11:06 AM BST

Revolutions: The Very Best Of Steve Winwood
Revolutions: The Very Best Of Steve Winwood

19 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shame about the absent tracks..., 4 May 2010
It's bad enough that this 4CD compilation excludes Winwood's magnificent organ on Hendrix's 'Voodoo Chile'. But it's absolutely unforgivable that 'Dream Gerrard', one of prog-rock's really outstanding tracks, should be left out. Even the previous 4CD Winwood compilation -- 1995's 'The Finer Things -- included that opus.

And watch out for some of the later Traffic tracks on CD#2. Hopefully they are the live versions from the excellent 'On the Road'; the studio album versions are, without exception, inferior.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 20, 2010 11:11 AM BST

Brideshead Revisited [DVD] [2008]
Brideshead Revisited [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Emma Thompson
Price: 4.97

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Biggleswade Reshafted, 19 April 2010
There is plenty here to infuriate Brideshead fans, a group of which I count myself a member. And yet I don't begrudge the two hours I spent watching this DVD last night. On reflection, I enjoyed spotting as many of the deviations from the novel as I could. And I spotted an homage to 'Don't Look Now' in one of the nocturnal canal scenes in Venice, so I wonder if there are others.

As others have noted, the biggest sin committed by this screenplay is the role of Julia. In the novel, Sebastian goes downhill as a by-product of the pernicious cycle of his increased drinking and escapism causing his mother to track his movements more intensely, which leads to more drinking etc. In this movie, Julia goes to Venice with Charles and Sebastian -- I don't recall that in the novel -- and it is Sebastian catching a snatched kiss between Charles and Julia which drives him to solitude and heavier drinking. In the novel Julia doesn't become the 'love of Charles's life' until his marriage to Celia deteriorates; this movie suggests that Charles knows she is the one as soon as he lights a cigarette for her in the car journey from the station.

So many great cameo performances from the TV series have been omitted from this movie. Anthony Blanche barely gets a look-in, disabled German Kurt gets 10 seconds, and the fellow student that John Gielgud pretended was an American at dinner -- definitely the funniest moment of the TV series and audio CD -- has vanished.

You must, must, must buy the TV series DVD first, before this. This is the remixed pop video version -- equally sumptuous, but with the plot very changed and abridged. I would also recommend the audio CD narrated by Jeremy Irons -- he does the voices, particularly of Charles's father -- so well.

Reich: Music for 18 Musicians
Reich: Music for 18 Musicians
Price: 12.07

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding -- the definitive five-star album, 10 April 2010
There was something about the later phase of the 1970s that encouraged the creation of three progressive masterpieces consisting of at most two tracks: Tangerine Dream's RICOCHET, Steve Reich's MUSIC FOR 18 MUSICIANS, and Keith Jarrett's SURVIVORS SUITE. I own over 2,000 CDs, and I would unreservedly place all three of the albums in my Top 10.

I cannot add much to what other reviewers here have written about '18'. It is the most hypnotic piece of music I know. Despite its age, this is much the best recording. The audio separation of the instruments -- particularly the bass woodwind and the piano -- is distinctly superior to the Nonesuch version, for which I had such high hopes, only to be dashed by the slurry that emerged.

That ECM have produced it as a single track may infuriate MP3 rippers and home movie producers wishing to use an extract as a backing track for their video. And I have some sympathy for the view that listening to the whole lot in one sitting can prove wearing. You'll just have to work around this limitation. '18' is a brilliant album in so many contexts: listen to it in the car, or while you're working, or even to drive your parents away -- it's now 32 years since my Mum first complained about this repetitive music I was playing in my bedroom; and it still makes her mad!

You have to get this particular CD. No serious modern music collection can be without it.

Page: 1 | 2