Profile for Murray > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Murray
Top Reviewer Ranking: 12,442
Helpful Votes: 700

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Murray "Murray Ewing" (West Sussex, UK)

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9
pixel
BestDealUK Retractable Hi-Fi Stereo Earphones For Apple Ipod, Mp3 Players, Psp, Laptops, Walkmans And Portable Cd/Dvd Players
BestDealUK Retractable Hi-Fi Stereo Earphones For Apple Ipod, Mp3 Players, Psp, Laptops, Walkmans And Portable Cd/Dvd Players
Offered by Happy Sales UK
Price: 2.91

3.0 out of 5 stars Neat but tinny, 10 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought these headphones to provide a neater alternative to the standard white earbuds that came with my ipod. The first thing to say is they weren't white, as pictured, but I could live with that. The retracting mechanism worked well enough — you pull both ends of the earphone cable to extend, and it has certain positions where it clicks and stays. Then you pull both again and it retracts. All good. The disappointment came when I used the earphones. Much less bass response than the ipod earphones — too much for me to enjoy listening to them, unfortunately. But they are a very low price, so maybe that's just to be expected.


Levi's Cable Men's Cardigan
Levi's Cable Men's Cardigan
Price: 28.50 - 48.14

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely autumnal cardigan, 30 Jun 2013
A lovely cardigan made up of a nice variety of autumnal colours. It's not quite as bright as the main product picture made me think, the colours being somewhat paler, but I still like the mix of reds, yellows, & browns. The cardigan is very thick & warm. The sleeves are a snug fit, which is a pity as I prefer a loose fit for a top like this, but generally the quality & design of the whole is excellent. One small niggle was that the care label, which is in several languages, is quite large, with three strips to it (each four inches long), almost like a mini-booklet sewn into the seam. I cut it out as I knew it would only get irritating after a while. And it basically just says this is hand-wash only.


Shazam! - 50 Guitar Busting Instrumentals
Shazam! - 50 Guitar Busting Instrumentals
Price: 4.49

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good budget selection with one let-down, 12 Dec 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I was born a little over two decades after these guitar instrumentals from the late 1950s and early 1960s were recorded, but as a guitar player, I love this type of music. There's a good selection here, with some I know (such as those by The Shadows and Duane Eddy, and of course Tequila by The Champs), some I didn't know I knew (the wonderful Hawaiian guitar of Sleep Walk by Santo & Johnny, Hit and Miss by The John Barry Seven), and others I hadn't heard before. There's a few gimmicky tunes (Rockin' Goose, with its goose-sounding keyboard), but at least they always have tunes. (And Green Jeans is a rock'n'roll take on Greensleeves!)

One disappointment was track 30, Jefferies Rock (not by Various Artists, as Amazon list it, but The Intruders), which seems to have been taken off a wobbly record. The pitch varies noticeably, and it sounds awful! I found a YouTube upload of the original single, which sounded much better, so replaced the download version with that. This seems to be the only track with this problem, though. Pity, as it mars an otherwise good budget collection.


Simulacrum
Simulacrum
Price: 0.77

5.0 out of 5 stars "There is evil in the world, and it can take many forms.", 5 Dec 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Simulacrum (Kindle Edition)
"For it has always been my earnest belief that even what seems utterly reliable and mundane - an ordinary woman's love for her good-looking husband and her child, for example - cannot be relied on. Nothing is ever what it seems. Some rot gnaws away at the fabric of the universe." This is the conviction of Ignatius Flood, Jesuit novitiate and "Soldier of Christ", sent to an out-of-the-way farm in rural Ireland to investigate what may have been a miracle, but could be a hint of something far darker. Falling for the beautiful Eileen, Flood becomes convinced she is a simulacrum -- "something that resembled a woman, but without a soul, though it lived and breathed and stared at me with dark, frightened eyes... created only to cast her spell over every man who clapped eyes on her." Torn between his religious duty and his own feelings, Flood must plumb the mystery of what is going on at the farm, see through its apparent normality to the weird secret beneath. The story of an unworldly man thrown into a world that forces him to face his own darker self, Fallon's novel keeps up the suspense right to the end.


The Inner Man: The Life of J.G. Ballard
The Inner Man: The Life of J.G. Ballard
by John Baxter
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 9.17

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A four-dimensional man, 12 Sep 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The title of this biography is, surely, not the biographer's statement of an intent to plumb the "inner man" that was J G Ballard, as Ballard himself did that at such length and in such detail that no single book could measure up to the task. Rather, I take it as a description of Ballard himself -- he was, like a character from one of his own stories ("The Subliminal Man" or "The Overloaded Man"), "The Inner Man", whose inner, imaginative life was (in the latter half, at least) far richer than his outer -- which may explain why Ballard was happy to write from a point of view always five minutes in the future while living in an old-fashioned, dusty suburban house, with a couple of old manual carpet cleaners and a rather conservative car (not to mention a decades-old desiccated lemon on the mantelpiece). Such an inward-directed life might present something of a problem for a biographer. Another, of course, is that the subject of John Baxter's book has been there first, and if you've read Ballard's own autobiographical writings, both fictional and non (Empire of the Sun, The Kindness of Women, Miracles of Life) you won't find any major surprises here. Even the odd attempt at sensationalism (such as the assertion near the beginning that Ballard had "a violent streak", which lead me to expect tales of literary fistfights which never came about) isn't going to surprise anyone who has read much of Ballard's fiction, any more than the fact he once crashed his car. The real surprise is he didn't crash it more often.

But there is a reason to read this biography, even if you've read Ballard's own accounts of his life. Baxter's book really comes into its own when dealing with the latter part of Ballard's life, once he was an established writer, which is something Ballard himself didn't write much about -- presumably because, as far as he was concerned, the interesting stuff at that point was the novels he was writing, which speak for themselves. What of the life he was living while doing the writing? In a sense, the strength of Baxter's book is not its attempt to describe the "Inner Man", but his accounts of the outer one, the man who lived while the writer was writing. Admittedly, this does mean that what the book has to offer in terms of new things to say comes down to scraps, gossip and anecdotes, but as someone who has read most of Ballard's novels and stories, not to mention a good deal of his interviews, I found these scraps, gossip and anecdotes well worth the read. (The whole book may have been worth the read for the little tale of J G Ballard buying The Who's "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere", and preferring how it sounded at 33rpm!) Of course, if all you've read is Empire of the Sun or some of Ballard's latest novels and are curious to learn more about this odd chap who revelled in car crashes, then this is a good introduction to the man's life, though Ballard's own Miracles of Life is, I think, a far more moving an account, even if less objective.

A note on the Kindle edition (which is how I read the book). Quotes and facts aren't footnoted, though there is a long, undigested list of sources at the end, which is totally impractical to use on the Kindle. (The print edition may be better.) This inability to quickly check where Baxter is getting his information, combined with at least one comment I've read on the web by a friend of Ballard who felt something he said was used out of context, meant I tended to read the biography's more sensationalist claims (not that there are many) with a sceptical eye. Doubly so when Baxter occasionally allows himself to make an unconvincing wild surmise (such as that the Ballards can't have had a happy marriage because Ballard never represented one in his fiction -- I've read the same thing said of Shakespeare -- and you might as well use the same reasoning to say P G Wodehouse's stories were all written by his butler), so I can't say I was always convinced by what Baxter said, though I must say that, more often than not, he does provide interesting insights into both Ballard the man and his fiction. It all adds to the overall picture of a very interesting writer.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 24, 2011 12:22 AM BST


Studying Pan's Labyrinth (Studying Films)
Studying Pan's Labyrinth (Studying Films)
by Tanya Jones
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.99

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A book for film students, 23 Aug 2011
Pan's Labyrinth is one of my favourite films, and I was hoping Studying Pan's Labyrinth would be something along the lines of those little BFI books about individual films (which this one somewhat resembles), but that isn't quite what the Studying series is about.

Each chapter starts with a general discussion of a specific aspect of film-making -- there are chapters on Narrative, Genre, Messages and Values, Film Language, Characterisation, and Institutions (which basically covers the promotion and release of the film) -- along with some basic examples of how filmic techniques can be used to achieve certain effects or communicate certain meanings, for instance how camera angles affect your perception of a character's emotional state, and so on.

I think I wasn't quite the audience the book was written for. It's aimed, I'd say, more at a film studies student at A-level or thereabouts, rather than (what I am) a general reader interested in deepening my appreciation of a favourite film. As a result, I found it a bit text-booky and limited in its approach. Had I been a film student (I can imagine this being a set text, or an excellent way of supplementing a film studies course by applying what you'd learned to a favourite film), I'm sure I'd have been giving this book more stars.


Classic Queen Guitar Recorded Version Gtr Tab Book
Classic Queen Guitar Recorded Version Gtr Tab Book
by VARIOUS
Edition: Paperback
Price: 16.74

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Half a great book of guitar TAB - or, You (Brian) May be disappointed, 1 May 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've been searching around trying to find a good book of Queen guitar transcriptions, and this had some of the songs I wanted, so I went with it. The tracks included are: A Kind of Magic, Bohemian Rhapsody (of course!), Under Pressure, Hammer to Fall, Stone Cold Crazy, One Year of Love, Radio Ga Ga, I'm Going Slightly Mad, I Want it All, Tie Your Mother Down, The Miracle, These Are the Days of Our Lives, One Vision, Keep Yourself Alive, Headlong, Who Wants to Live Forever, The Show Must Go On.

The TAB is very accurate and detailed, which is good. And there are often piano & synth parts transcribed for guitar, particularly when there isn't a guitar part playing -- the "Bohemian Rhapsody" transcription is magnificent, full of (probably unplayable, but nice to have it anyway) piano-for-guitar TAB. I do have a few quibbles, though. One is that (as often happens in TAB books), the transcribers have chosen the single version of "Hammer to Fall" (which annoyed me, because it was one of the main songs I wanted to learn), which cuts out quite a bit of good guitar stuff from the full album version of the song. Yet they've included the album version of "One Vision" -- why one and not the other?

But the real disappointment of this book is that some of the song choices are totally bizarre. I love all of Queen's music, but when I buy a guitar TAB book I really expect the more guitar-oriented songs, and Queen certainly have a lot of them. "One Year of Love" is not one -- it has NO GUITAR in it! So we get synth transcribed for guitar, and then the sax solo transcribed for guitar. Why? Was it bought as part of a job lot??? And there are a fair few of the songs included here basically because there's a good solo, but no real guitar involvement in the rest of the song, which seems a waste of pages in a guitar book. There are other books of Brian May solos, why not include some better full-guitar songs here? I can think of plenty.

Oh well, I'm just glad I have "Hammer to Fall", "One Vision", "Keep Yourself Alive", "Stone Cold Crazy" and "Tie Your Mother Down" -- worth the price of this book on their own. Just a pity so many of the other song choices are so off the mark.


Yes -- Guitar Anthology: Authentic Guitar TAB
Yes -- Guitar Anthology: Authentic Guitar TAB
by Yes
Edition: Sheet music
Price: 14.54

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So that's Howe they do it..., 3 April 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The songs included in this book: Clap, Hold On, I've Seen All Good People (both parts), Long Distance Runaround, Money, Montreux's Theme, Mood for a Day, Owner of a Lonely Heart, Roundabout, Tempus Fugit.

A band like Yes really deserves a series of TAB books, so a slim volume like this (124 pages) can't really hope to satisfy your Yes-enthusiast guitarist. But still, "Money"? And "Montreux's Theme"? Presumably they were picked because they're more guitar-oriented than other Yes tracks, but I can think of many more I'd have preferred to see transcribed here. (And another slight niggle -- the cover of this book shows the Big Generator album cover. Why? Because the contents lists "Hold On" as being on Big Generator. But it was on 90125!)

The TAB seems pretty accurate, and nicely detailed (as musical transcriptions of Yes songs would have to be!). I've seen a few transcriptions of Clap, and watched how Steve Howe plays it, and I have to say that, although they've got the notes right here, the actual position Howe plays part of the opening riff is different (he plays it one string down). (It's always worth trying to find a few live videos on YouTube to back up a transcription when learning it, I find.) It's still playable as written, though. The first part of "I've Seen All Good People" has the lute parts arranged for guitar, and "Long Distance Runaround" has the keyboard of the opening section arranged for guitar, too.

Overall, it's great to have some Yes transcriptions, I just wish there were more! (Or better selections. I'd love to have had "Don't Kill the Whale" or the whole of "Gates of Delirium"(!) -- both very guitar oriented.) So, excellent music, just a few odd choices.

(And a note on the Kindle version: I bought a physical copy of this book because the Kindle sample proved to be nigh-on unreadable. Perhaps it's okay if you're reading it on an iPad or something, but certainly not on a Kindle!)


Jethro Tull Guitar Anthology (Tab)
Jethro Tull Guitar Anthology (Tab)
by Hal Leonard Publishing Corporation
Edition: Paperback
Price: 13.66

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One day I'll be a minstrel in the gallery... just not yet, 3 April 2011
Nineteen Tull songs transcribed in TAB & musical notation for guitar. The contents are: Aqualung, Bungle in the Jungle, Cross-Eyed Mary, Life is a Long Song, Living in the Past, Locomotive Breath, Minstrel in the Gallery, New Day Yesterday, Nothing is Easy, Passion Play Edit#8, Skating Away (On the Thin Ice of a New Day), Sossity You're a Woman, Sweet Dream, Teacher, Thick as a Brick, To Cry You A Song, Too Old to Rock'n'Roll, The Whistler, and The Witch's Promise.

The TAB seems accurate, and you get the occasional flute part transcribed for guitar (not always though, which can be annoying) -- plus the bass intro for "Living in the Past". With an anthology like this, there will always be songs you wish were included, and some where you wonder why they were included, but at least with this number of songs, you're sure to find enough of your favourites to make up for those you're not interested in.

My one main criticism, though, is that the transcribers have been a bit selective with which versions they've transcribed. The main victim is "Minstrel in the Gallery," which not only lacks the acoustic intro, but the electric intro, too, so it starts straight in with the riff. Apparently this is a version from a Best of compilation, but seriously, guitarists buying this book aren't going to be doing so just because they've got one Best Of, are they? I was quite disappointed with that. But at least the TAB of the songs they've transcribed is accurate and detailed. (And of course the music itself is five stars.) "Thick as a Brick" is an edit, too, but I at least expected that.


Among Others
Among Others
by Jo Walton
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Between Worlds, 6 Feb 2011
This review is from: Among Others (Hardcover)
Among Others is one of those books that, in capturing the magic of its narrator's inner world, becomes itself magical. Told in the form of the diary of fifteen-year-old Mor, it begins in the aftermath of a terrible event we only slowly, throughout the novel, come to understand. Mor's (literally magical) childhood was shared with her twin sister, but her twin is now dead, Mor herself is left with a painful and perhaps permanent leg-injury, and she has run away from her mother, who is a witch and perhaps insane, and who was the cause of it all.

Despite this dramatic, fantastical background, the novel itself is quite low key. Its magic is subtle. Mor continues to see fairies (which Walton has imagined in an entirely convincing and, to me at least, new way), and to do a little magic on her own (though this is something she has increasingly worrisome moral doubts about -- she doesn't want to turn into a dark witch like her mother); but, just as much, she lives an ordinary teenage life, complete with trying to make friends at her new school, and adjusting to the new half of her family she's been thrust upon (in running from her mother, she's been placed in the hands of her estranged father, and his stiflingly conventional family). Mor is also an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy, and a good deal of the fun of this novel is in following her reading, and finding out what she thinks of what she reads. (The novel takes place between 1979 and 1980, so the books she reads are of that time.)

But this is one of those novels that no plot summary can adequately describe. It is Mor's inner life, her struggles with the delicacies and difficulties of both fairy magic and human friends and family, that make it what it is. Walton sidesteps the obvious move of equating the fantastic and magical with childhood, and so the necessary loss of both in adolescence. Instead, the ending is wonderfully affirmative, and, for me at least, spot-on in combining the necessity of facing up to reality while retaining that vital magic and imagination.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9