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not_a_real_folkie "not_a_real_folkie" (Farnham, Surrey, UK)
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Different Tracks: Music and Politics in 1970
Different Tracks: Music and Politics in 1970
by Steve Millward
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Only one year... but a lot of music and history to cram in, 26 Nov. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Steve Millward stakes out his territory well for the scope of this book - unlike Rob Young's "Electric Eden", this book is to consider all forms of popular music. Also, unlike Dominic Sandbrook's series that set wider musical and cultural changes within the context of contemporary British (and only British) politics, Millward aims to address worldwide political and historical events... but limits himself to one 'milestone' year, 1970.

The sheer amount of information contained in this book is impressive, but I found Millward's writing style slightly drier than either of the other authors mentioned above. On a factual level, much of the material is really interesting, but there are some awkward juxtapositions, such as a discussion of the tragic events in southern Asia lurching suddenly into a description of a guitarist's "incisive use of the wah-wah pedal" that (inadvertently) makes the output of that guitarist seem completely irrelevant.

This book is to be praised for its breadth, but readers may want to take it in small doses to avoid indigestion.


Zyliss E970027 Digital Multi-Timer, Red
Zyliss E970027 Digital Multi-Timer, Red
Offered by Nextday Catering Equipment Supplies
Price: £7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Does the job - just falls short of excellent on a couple of features, 18 Oct. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Zyliss timer has 4 independent timers, so is useful for complicated recipes or those juggling a meal with lots of things on the go at once.

In use I found it was OK, but the glaring omission (in my opinion) is that you can add minutes or seconds to a timer, but you can't subtract - so if you accidentally overshoot whilst setting 45 mins, for example, you've got no option but to clear the timer to zero and start again. A bit of a pain, and the old electronic timer on my cooker at least used to offer + and - buttons.

The display is nice and clear, and the end-of-countdown alarm is clearly audible without making you jump out of your skin or becoming stressful in a busy kitchen. Also, usefully, it tells you have much time has elapsed since the countdown finished.

The magnetic clip is, again, OK and fastened itself onto a metal fridge door like a limpet, but the timer wobbled whenever I pushed the buttons to set the timers, and a couple of times the wobble was enough to break the magnetic bond to the surface and it fell off. It will "free stand" on a worktop etc. as an alternative, but then you'd probably hold it in your hand to set the timer buttons.

Although this is badged "Zyliss Swiss Innovation", the thing is made in China (but what isn't?).

In summary it's OK, and does the job, but they could've made it better-than-OK with a little more thought.


Size 13 Girl's Snazzy Heelys Pink/white Two Wheel Canvas Shoes
Size 13 Girl's Snazzy Heelys Pink/white Two Wheel Canvas Shoes

5.0 out of 5 stars "They're great", 2 Aug. 2014
"You can walk on them.

You can run on them.

And it's fun to skate!"

- my daughter, aged 8.

Good quality, seem to be built to last, and a small person has had lots of fun with them.


Bass Guitar For Dummies
Bass Guitar For Dummies
by Patrick Pfeiffer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Down-to-earth written guide to the low notes in a band, 2 Aug. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The 'for Dummies' franchise is generally a good place to go in any subject, although I was slightly sceptical about how it would work with the rawk 'n' roll world of bass guitar. The answer is, surprisingly well.

The author (Patrick Pfeiffer) clearly knows his stuff, but is also skilled in communicating to those of us who may not have formal music qualifications. Having said that, if you are schooled in the Rudiments and Theory there is much here to get your teeth into - for example, he discusses the use of different modes in blues, rock, latin, jazz etc. and there are many, many examples written out in music stave notation as well as tab and the author's own 'fretboard diagrams' notation (like tab without the rhythm).

But in general Pfeiffer assumes a starting point of zero knowledge and takes the reader on from there.

The thing I really liked about this book was the author's conversational style of writing - it's almost like having a good-natured, experienced bassist in the room, taking you through different techniques and ideas. Amazingly, he manages to get the facts across without being stuffy or sounding like a schoolteacher. Directness and honesty are tempered with humour and a nice line in little asides:

for example, in his section on choosing a bass, he writes "If your're just starting out and aren't sure whether bass playing is for you - are you serious? Of course it's for you! - you can get package deals that include a bass guitar and an amp..."

Or, when discussing jamming: "Seems pretty complicated, doesn't it? Don't worry: if you're with the right group of musicians, jamming is really a blast! Just keep listening. Jamming is like a conversation - you have to hear what the others are saying to be able to join in with relevant ideas of your own.". Nailed it in one paragraph!

Personally I learnt quite a few things from this book. If you're a newbie then Pfeiffer is a wise but streetwise guide. If you've got a few twangs under the belt, the more 'advanced' material will stretch you. Most of us have some scope for improvement, after all. The online audio and video clips are excellent and help the printed material to come alive. You can see it written down on the page, then hear (and, on quite a few examples, see) someone playing it right.

Buy this, then "Go forth and make big notes"!


Dancing In The Dark
Dancing In The Dark
Price: £0.89

5.0 out of 5 stars If "Born in the USA" had been recorded in 1958..., 4 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Dancing In The Dark (MP3 Download)
Where Sir Bruce blustered, Big Daddy caress with a period rock 'n' roll (more doo-wop, perhaps) arrangement of the Boss's 1985 hit. Somehow the mood suits the lyrics perfects ("I ain't nothin' but tired..." the singer tells us, over a languid backbeat, upright bass and stroked piano chords). Maybe they were one-trick ponies, but the musicianship is superb and the idea of putting mid-eighties Bruce Springsteen into a time machine like this is an inspired one.


LEGO Juniors 10674: Pony Farm
LEGO Juniors 10674: Pony Farm
Offered by mausefant
Price: £29.95

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lego goes Playmobil - thumbs up all round, 4 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Road-tested by my 7 and 9-year old daughters, both horse mad. There was great delight upon opening the box, and the older girl was soon poring over the instructions and issuing orders - sorry, polite requests - to the younger. It kept them occupied for an hour or so in construction and roleplay with the assembled equine goodies, but they said they would come back to it again to make up something different.

It seemed closer in nature to Playmobil than my memories of Lego from childhood, but apparently I'm behind the times, and these pre-shaped lego sets are the in thing now. The lego pieces are all massively childproof and the storage box is great (although as shockingly pink as it looks in the picture!).

When I asked for a verdict for the purposes of this review, I got two smiles and two 'thumbs up' signs. The kids have spoken!


Ophthalmology at a Glance
Ophthalmology at a Glance
by Lorraine Cassidy
Edition: Paperback
Price: £27.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Simple overview with lots of helpful photos, 27 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book won't teach you all you need to know about ophthalmology, but it is a convenient reference source for quick overviews of clinical conditions. An especial strength is the quantity of decent-quality photographs that are worth a thousand words in helping to explain many ocular phenomena.

As with another brief guide I reviewed recently, it's unlikely you'll be reaching for this book if you are a specialist clinician but, for the rest of us, it distils a lot of knowledge in one place.


Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy For Dummies
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy For Dummies
by Patrizia Collard
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.59

3.0 out of 5 stars Mindfulness being the operative word, 27 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've been interested in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for a while, having known people who have benefitted from using it. CBT is sometimes prescribed by GPs for those with well-defined life goals that respond to its approach, and the effectiveness of CBT is supported by some research evidence.

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is not the same thing. In fact, since reading this book, I've seen "mindfulness" being discussed in many places, from groups of friends to the Daily Mail! The fundamental concept is to take certain meditative techniques from Buddhism and align them with certain elements of CBT. It's a heady mix, and not the same thing as mainstream CBT. However, many people testify to the way 'mindfulness' has helped them overcome anxiety and other challenges.

This book is typically clearly written, in the "Dummies" house style. It explains that using mindfulness techniques does not mean buying into the complete package of eastern mysticism, and I suspect these techniques can be helpful. At the same time I couldn't help being reminded of the "pick 'n' mix" approach to spirituality in the post-modern West. We choose the bits that suit us and leave out the uncomfortable aspects of - in this case - Buddhism.

Still, if it works, it works, and this book explains it with great clarity and simplicity.


FEMALE INTUITION 12 INCH (12" VINYL) UK VIRGIN 1986
FEMALE INTUITION 12 INCH (12" VINYL) UK VIRGIN 1986
Offered by 5records
Price: £7.29

3.0 out of 5 stars Decent song, with dated remixes, 7 May 2014
The basic song here is pretty good (it's on the B side of the 12-inch single), but the happening 1986 remixes have dated rather badly. The 'Intuition' mix features a man trying to sound outraged and saying "This is absolutely disgusting!" over a song which is very obviously not disgusting, along with some 'scratching' of the type that was in fashion in 1982. The Expanded Dance Mix is OK, with just a dated drum sound to spoil the fun. The song itself wasn't on their 1985 album 'History' (called 'Body and Soul' in Holland) so is a must-have for Mai Tai fans.


NOCO G7200UK Genius Smart Battery Charger
NOCO G7200UK Genius Smart Battery Charger
Price: £62.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Foolproof charger with some nice features, 18 April 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This battery charger is U.S. designed (made in China), so the packaging is covered with hyperbole: "Wicked smart features" etc., but the manufacturer has a point. The design is intended to minimize the kind of fatal error that used to fry battery chargers and batteries in the bad old days. It has reverse-polarity protection and reduces the charging current once it senses that the battery is nearly charged. Unlike my old charger, the reverse polarity protection doesn't involve replacing a fuse if you accidentally do wire the thing up the wrong way round - an orange warning LED lights up on the front panel, you just correct the error and the charger carries on as normal.

The charger will charge 12v or 24v batteries (or 2 x 12v batteries in series), and also boasts a "recovery" mode whereby it will attempt to revive sulphated batteries that have been neglected. It doesn't work in severe cases, and I haven't tried it, so can't vouch for its effectiveness in doing this.

One thing I do like is the 13.6v supply mode, which can be used to power a caravan or car in place of using its battery when mains power is available. Unfortunately you can't connect the charger in 13.6v mode to a battery, so it can't be used to prevent your car audio system losing its security code while you swap out an old battery... but the normal charging mode will do this.

The charger can cope with lead-acid batteries (open cell and maintenance-free) and also AGM ('spiral wound') and gel batteries. It will not charge NiCd, lithium ion or any other dry cell battery types.

If I had a minor gripe, it would be that the croc clips are connected to the charger via a proprietary plastic plug/socket halfway down the wires; I'm not sure of the purpose of this, and it looks like the sort of thing that would be a "special" (read "expensive") to replace if you - say - lost half of the lead in the shed. Of course, you could always chop the wire and connect it a different way, but this seems to be the only place the designers have taken their eye off the ball.

The charger comes with a printed guide that also doubles as a convenient eyesight test (i.e. it's very small!), with quite a lot of information in it. There is also an online manual, which I haven't needed to refer to yet.


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