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bunters (Norwich, UK)

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Watching - Series 1 -7 - Complete [DVD] [1987]
Watching - Series 1 -7 - Complete [DVD] [1987]
Dvd ~ Paul Bown
Price: £19.50

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sixteen year wait, but worth it .., 29 Dec 2009
Say what you will about "Gavin and Stacey" but Jim Hitchmough's "Watching" was in a different league. It's quietly addictive, it's superbly written and it's one of the most criminally ignored TV comedies of the 80s and 90s. I had seen it on and off from around Series 4 but was hooked after the brilliant, poignant 1991 Christmas special, "Slipping" (on Disc 6).

It wasn't until recently that I caught up with some early episodes (I bought Series 1 on DVD last year) and it's a treat to see the whole six year saga from start to finish at last. Paul Bown and Emma Wray (in her début role) are perfectly cast as the mismatched couple Malcolm and Brenda: their central performances and on-screen chemistry are unbeatable and the supporting cast is superb, with some great ensemble playing and character comedy, particularly from Patsy Byrne as Malcolm's mother, Elizabeth Spriggs as Aunty Peggy and not forgetting Liza Tarbuck's fine, versatile turn as the upwardly mobile Pamela. And it's a mystery to me why Perry Fenwick was voted 'Best TV Newcomer' in 2000 for EastEnders when ten years earlier he was playing a lead character - Terry - in his third consecutive series of "Watching"!

I've got one tiny issue about this box set - the sound quality. It's OK but the soundtrack is in mono and could be clearer in places. The sound mix on the original TV transmissions (many of which I still have recorded onto VHS) seems a lot crisper. Also in a very few scenes there's some clumsy overdubbing of new background music where a song on the soundtrack has had to be obscured for copyright reasons. Not only has the relevance of the original songs been lost (Hitchmough always chose his music tracks to comment subtly on the action) but the dubbed-on replacement tracks are just random 80s hits - fake cover versions too - and mixed so loud in places that you can barely hear the dialogue.

But that's only a minor quibble, and overall this is a hugely welcome and enjoyable DVD reissue. If you remember "Watching" with affection, buy this immediately, and wallow in nostalgia. If you've never heard of it before, buy it anyway and see how romantic comedy should be done properly. Excellent.

Get Yr Blood Sucked Out
Get Yr Blood Sucked Out
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.97

4.0 out of 5 stars More than just JMC clones, 11 Sep 2006
This review is from: Get Yr Blood Sucked Out (Audio CD)
I first ran across Viva Voce when a mobile phone company soundtracked a TV ad with their woozy, blissed out track "Lesson No. 1" from the previous album. Already a devotee of the OTHER obscure American husband and wife duo obsessed with 80s and 90s British indie guitar-noise bands (Joy Zipper, check 'em out), I thought I'd give Viva Voce's new effort a listen. Standout track is the lead single "From the Devil Himself" which skilfully hooks up the Mamas and the Papas with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - a neat trick if you can do it. Viva Voce (alias Anita and Kevin Robinson) have been touted as Portland's very own Jesus and Mary Chain appreciation society but there isn't too much of the Reid brother's influence apparent to me on this album, more a selection of different musical moods ranging from the hypnotic chain-gang chug of "Believer" to the dreamy Lesson No.1 retread "Drown Them Out" via the plaintive solo piano figure of "Bill Bixby" (he was the not-green bloke out of the Incredible Hulk, in case you'd forgotten). Unhinged guitar distortion is available if you want it (see So Many Miles) but repeated listening reveals more subtlety amid the racket than you might expect. Viva Voce turn out this stuff for fun at home (Full Time Hobby seems to be their philosophy as well as their label) so they might not be too bothered if you like this or not. But I like it a lot. Buy it now.

Out-Of-State Plates
Out-Of-State Plates

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fountains only intermittently sparkling, 17 July 2005
This review is from: Out-Of-State Plates (Audio CD)
Fountains of Wayne's gently mocking suburban power-pop is a thing to be cherished. Invidious comparisons with Weezer, Semisonic, Ben Folds (with or without his Five) and a raft of US geek-rock also-rans don't change a thing: for three albums Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger have tapped into a seemingly inexhaustible seam of three-minute guitar pop gold and left the opposition standing. These guys can't write a song without at least one irresistibly catchy guitar line, smart turn of phrase or thrilling harmony in it: their lyrics are miniature small-town soap operas with a trademark mordant wit and ingenuity which, to my mind, puts them up there with Ray Davies, Neil Finn and Difford and Tilbrook at their very best. So with this grab-bag of B-sides and rarities they have much to live up to.
It's not just Phill Jupitus who said it, it's been mentioned in just about every review of this I've seen that this band's outtakes are far better than stuff on most people's proper albums. That said, if you're expecting another Fountains of Wayne classic here, you'll be slightly disappointed. As with so many double albums, there is a great single album in here fighting to get out.
I've been a huge Fountains of Wayne fan from back in Radiation Vibe days, but a lot of this was new to me. There are some genuine gems: a new, archetypal, loser-strikes-lucky tale The Girl I Can't Forget, their cracking Oasis pastiche Elevator Up, the poignant song of love gone sour Kid Gloves and the Simon and Garfunkel-ish Places. Plus, if you're already looking forward to the festive season, skip their novelty hit I Want an Alien for Christmas (written for Hanson, who should really have taken it) and listen to the hilarious flipside The Man in the Santa Suit instead.
There are a few more top-notch tunes, then there's the rest. Even a half-decent Fountains of Wayne song is still a treat, but there's some quality control missing here. There are a few too many half-finished ideas knocked off between studio sessions, and most of the cover versions could have stayed in the vaults. Apart from a fine rendition of Aztec Camera's Killermont Street they're all pretty unremarkable, and I can't imagine how their plodding interpretation of Britney's ... Baby One More Time would have broadened their fanbase one iota had it been granted a single release in 1999 as intended. Travis did the song much better, and that was as a joke.
To sum up, it's still good, but not that good. If you only know Fountains of Wayne from Stacy's Mom, don't look on Out of State Plates as representative. If you want to find out what this great American pop band are truly capable of, go and buy a copy of Utopia Parkway and listen to it on repeat like I did. Then buy the other two albums. And only then go out and buy this.

Grey Will Fade
Grey Will Fade
Price: £7.24

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utter brilliance from the Ash guitar whizkid, 30 Aug 2004
This review is from: Grey Will Fade (Audio CD)
Girls with guitars are just the coolest thing. We know from her seven years as second guitarist with Ash that Charlotte Hatherley can knock out a mean guitar riff or two. We know she's got beauty and poise combined with a rock chick Kim Deal cool. But in Grey will Fade Charlotte has delivered a superb solo album that proves she's not only all of these things but a genius songwriter and a cracking singer, too.
An absolute joy, Grey Will Fade is a irresistible debut which fuses crunching, squalling Pixies guitars with life-affirming punk-pop melodies and the kind of gorgeous multi-layered girl-group harmonies Kirsty McColl would have been proud of.
This is easily my album of the year so far and hasn't been out of my CD player for a fortnight. Think the Bangles or the Go-Go's with a reflective, bittersweet edge, or a less grumpy Juliana Hatfield, or the Breeders with tunes you can hum. Taking on all the guitar and bass duties herself, Charlotte has harnessed the swirling keyboard work and production skills of one time Pixies collaborator Eric Drew Feldman and the drums of PJ Harvey stalwart Rob Ellis to give these songs a rock pedigree that lifts this fine album way above your usual run-of-the-mill side project.
The highlights are many. Twisting and turning all over the place, with more hooks than an anglers convention and more chord changes than many bands muster in whole careers, the opener and lead single Kim Wilde showcases the sweetness and purity of Charlotte's voice a treat - and yes, she does sound a lot like Kim on it.. Paragon is a thumping adrenaline rush, Summer and Why You Wanna are glorious and pop-perfect, the former featuring a rare sighting of the word "serotonin" in a song lyric. Best of all is Bastardo - a song about Charlotte's one-night-stand with a lowlife charmer who stole her prized guitar - boasting a kick-ass intro and a chorus so infectious you will be singing along to it in seconds. The slower songs add a more introspective mood - Down - neither plodding nor tepid to my ears, Mr. Amazon reviewer - is a poignant but ultimately optimistic delight, and the title track, starting off wistful and melancholic, soon succumbs to a surge of chiming guitars and wonderful harmonies which banish all traces of gloom from your mind.
So if you are having a tough time of it this summer - and why shouldn't you with the weather we've been having? - go out and buy this. I guarantee you'll feel a whole lot better very soon.

World in Motion
World in Motion
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £15.95

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some of the crowd are on the pitch �, 12 Jun 2002
This review is from: World in Motion (Audio CD)
Given the current crop of wannabes (anyone from Ant and Dec to that bloke out of Madness) hopping a ride on the capacious World Cup Anthem bus, it's a refreshing change to hear this classic again. After many years when the best we could hope for was a parade of plainly embarrassed young footie stars lurking behind Chas and Dave and/or miming to something unspeakable, "World in Motion" reinvented the genre for Italia 90 and showed us how it should be done. At last here was a PROPER football song by a PROPER band. Without this, remember, there would have been no Three Lions. And no Vindaloo either, but let that pass. The passage of time hasn't dulled its spanking melody, heartwarming nod to the famous 1966 World Cup commentary and a lyric (by Keith Allen) optimistic enough to make even an Argentinian stand up and cheer. And after twelve years even the harshest critic should be able to forgive John Barnes for THAT rap. Eminem he ain't ... but who cares?
This re-release also features New Order back in top form with their cracking new track "Such a Good Thing" which - in its instrumental guise - has made BBC Radio Five Live's World Cup trailers such a joy to listen to.

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