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R. Chidley (England)

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Cruel River
Cruel River
Price: £16.08

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The man is a genius, 1 Sept. 2008
This review is from: Cruel River (Audio CD)
This is a fantastic album. What Steve Knightley has created here is an album of superb songs that are appropriately and beautifully instrumented. The debate continues as to whether one labels Steve Knightley or Show of Hands as `folk', but it doesn't matter. He's doing what centuries of folksingers have done: singing about what they know with one eye on the song tradition and one eye on the pub.

He retains his prophetic edge by speaking into modern-day situations using modern-day references (Heroin, Afghanistan, London Eye, Hobbits) and expresses it all powerfully and majestically.

All wonderful.

Country Life
Country Life
Price: £9.81

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good SoH album, but not the best, 1 Sept. 2008
This review is from: Country Life (Audio CD)
This is a very good album. 'Country Life' is the title track and was clearly written to be an anthem for the rural poor, and a well-aimed arrow to pierce the consciences of Government - and it really works. It goes without saying that the musicianship is excellent and very powerful. `Drake', `Hard Shoulder', `I Promise You' and `Be Lucky' are powerful, beautiful and enduring, as are many of the tracks. Show of Hands are simply incredible. If they were not so strongly proud South Westerners, they'd deserve to be national treasures.

But there is a but. I couldn't quite go for five stars on Country Life because there are a couple of tracks which are off-target. I regularly skip them: `Red Diesel' and `Smile She Said'. They're not bad songs by any means. I just find them out of place and - in the case of Red Diesel - slightly contrived.

You see the trouble is that, when it comes to Show of Hands, I have become accustomed to the best of the best. I find myself turning to other albums ('As You Were', 'Witness', and increasingly the self-titled 'Show of Hands') for my fix of awesome-folkness.

Country Life has the tiniest edge of a slight disappointment, which prevents me giving it five stars. It is very good, but forgive me if this sounds like hollow praise... it isn't meant to be. Country Life is truly good, just not truly great.

Why Trust the Bible?: Answers to 10 Relevant Questions
Why Trust the Bible?: Answers to 10 Relevant Questions
by Amy Orr-Ewing
Edition: Paperback

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic way in for the Lay theologian, 18 Aug. 2008
I found this an excellent and inspiring read. Some sections were just astounding - particularly the section on the historical consistency of Scripture and the accuracy of copying and translation across the centuries (the book is more exciting than that sounds!).

I respect the comments of the amazon reviewer Oliver Lea regarding the depth of the book and I am not enough of a scholar to tackle his other points, but this book is (in my opinion) meant to be a nice slim volume to give the lay theologian a way into deeper issues of the Bible and not a universally exhaustive discussion. The book excels in that brief.

I gave it four stars instead of five because I felt the chapter on God-ordained war was uncharacteristically weak and there was some question-dodging going on.

Otherwise, a tremendously well-written book that tackles difficult questions with eloquence and rigour!

The Pirates! In An Adventure With Napoleon
The Pirates! In An Adventure With Napoleon
by Gideon Defoe
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Highly disappointing, 17 Aug. 2008
Having loved the other Pirates! books I bought this with great anticipation and excitement. Sadly, this one has made me question buying any further releases.

You can take this book two ways: either it is a clever post-modern antiplot with a unifying ironic joke on the nature of adventure stories & reader expectation; or it is quite boring and a bit of a let down.

Defoe makes a good start by playing with his well-loved formulaic opening, but afterwards the plot dissolves completely as he works to establish a setting that would make Father Ted's 'Craggy Island' look exciting. There's no roaring, no-one gets run-through, and honestly there isn't any kind of pirating at all. A far cry from the triumphs of '...Scientists' or '...Communists'. It's a sea-story set on land about pirates who do no pirating... then it ends.

This book is so disappointing precisely because we know how good Defoe is, and in this volume the gap is wide.

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