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Reviews Written by
Dun Ravin' (Bath, UK)

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Santana
Santana
Price: £7.12

5.0 out of 5 stars A fine album, 17 July 2014
This review is from: Santana (Audio CD)
Sometimes you find an album gathering dust, and then wonder why you haven't played it for such a long time. On the face of it, this should deserve to be left on a back shelf. The tracks are a series of the sort of instrumental jams beloved of 60s groups finding their way, sprinkled with a few pop songs with trite lyrics. What lifts the album beyond the titles list is the band itself. Greg Rolie is much more than a supporting sideman, filling out the band's sound with well structured solos. In David Brown the band had a solid bassman with an unfussy rhythmic style more like Motown or Stax than a "psychedelic" band. Mike Shrieve was a determined and hard working drummer, working well with the two percussionists to make up a polyrhythmic sound that was new to most of its listeners. Finally, the band had Mr Santana himself. He sounds (to me - you guitar experts can correct me) less technically adept than some contemporary guitar heroes, but unlike many of them he has the confidence to intersperse softer melodic passages with all the pyrotechnical stuff. As a result, his solos remain interesting structured pieces, not just attempts to show how clever, intense or soulful he was. All but one of the tracks from the original album are at the least enjoyable. That leaves the last one, Soul Sacrifice. - a glorious celebration of youth, optimism, energy, courage and life - in fact all the things that were good about the 60s. That's the studio version. By comparison, the live track from Woodstock sounds a little ragged and over long.That's unless you watch the visuals from the Woodstock movie at the same time, when it becomes, well, overwhelming and hypnotic. How do you follow a number like that? I think it took at least 10 years for Western popular music to manage to do so.


Shakuhachi music on the edge of Silence
Shakuhachi music on the edge of Silence

4.0 out of 5 stars It's not Chuck Berry, 14 July 2014
This is music for meditation (I don't know whether for the listener or the player). There is no rhythm as such, but a series of clear notes to listen to and enjoy, providing you have the time and inclination to concentrate on their quality. If you're not up to that, you might get bored quite quickly! If you're in sunny Devon, try to catch one of Aidrian's "gigs" at the Forge Yoga Centre, Totnes -. mesmerising.


St. Vincent [Digipak]
St. Vincent [Digipak]
Offered by rocknsoul2013
Price: £3.74

4.0 out of 5 stars Nearly as good as the hype suggested, 8 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: St. Vincent [Digipak] (Audio CD)
I bought this a little while back, and I've waited until I've played it a few times before trying to review it. As others have mentioned, at times you can hear a David Byrne/ Talking Heads influence - nothing wrong with that. More surprisingly, there are also pieces that reminded me of Annie Lennox and Eurythmics (nothing wrong with that, either), so there's a slight 80s feel about the album which I wasn't expecting. Altogether, it's a good listen, particularly Prince Johnny and Digital Witness, but I thought the album would have been better if a few of the tracks had been pruned - Psychopath and Severed Crossed Fingers for example. I know you can skip tracks you don't like, but I like to listen to an album as a complete entity, and sometimes less is more (pardon the cliche). Whilst I'm whingeing, there didn't seem to be much of her much vaunted guitar work. But overall, a good little album, with some brilliant lyrics.


Walking in the Caucasus, Georgia
Walking in the Caucasus, Georgia
by Peter Nasmyth
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A useful guide full of character, 3 Jun. 2014
Hikers in Georgia aren't going to find nice wooden sign posts with little acorns on them, and that's how Peter Nasmyth likes it. When he's not fording rivers, rebuilding bridges and evading fierce dogs he's embroiled in heroic drinking bouts with local villagers. His ideal reader would share the same tastes - certainly he expects his readers to have commonsense, flexibility and the gumption to be able to arrange local transport where necessary. So, it's not for complete beginners, and some of the walks are quite tough. There are 53 of them, in 12 different regions. We're in our mid-60s and found enough to keep us entertained - someone younger and fitter would have a great time. The best thing is the author's contagious enthusiasm for Georgia and its people, followed by the excellent photos and the helpful short notes on birds, animals and plants (much, much better than in the Bradt guide). There's lots of useful information about the country, so that it would be worth the price even if you only did one of the walks.


The History of Britain Revealed: The Shocking Truth About the English Language
The History of Britain Revealed: The Shocking Truth About the English Language
by M. J. Harper
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Book of Revelation, or just some bloke banging on about something?, 26 April 2014
I still can't make up my mind whether this is intended to be an iconoclastic book, or a parody of one.
If it's a parody, it gets 5 stars. The tone is authentically paranoid, and dismissive (to the point of rudeness) of established opinion, whilst the style fluctuates between matey informality and terse bullet points. Robust commonsense always trumps research. What seems a reasonable assumption is made, and then with relentless logic we are drawn to increasingly bizarre conclusions. I was disappointed that Atlantis didn't make an appearance, but it may be there waiting in the wings. There's no doubt the author is both intelligent and witty, and if he's written this as a parody, then it's brilliant.
However, I'm not so sure that's what he intended. If it's a straightforward attempt at iconoclasm it only gets 3 stars. This is a pity, as M J Harper raises some interesting anomalies, some of which I intend to research myself. The problem is that his arguments just didn't convince me. I'm not an expert in any of the subjects he savages, it just all comes across as wild and woolly. He rightly points out some of the failings of academic research, but that doesn't mean that doesn't prove it's all rubbish. Etymology is kebabed and discarded in 2 pages, a complete reassessment of both language development across Europe and prehistoric migration, taking in a passing side swipe at evolution, a breath-taking 185. Mr Harper achieves this with the help of his 2 trusty tools of logic, Occam's razor and “what is is what was unless there's unequivocal evidence that it wasn't.” These are, of course, not irrefutable arguments, but at best useful rules of thumb. At worst, like the “don't fix it unless it's broke” axiom, they're just a justification to refuse to take seriously ideas which you don't like the look of. Mr Harper's obviously clever and original. If you're reading this, Mr H, please rewrite it a little bit at a time, in more detail, and quoting sources – unless of course your book was meant to be satirical.


Time Off
Time Off
Offered by beaches_music_canada
Price: £7.63

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I'd never heard of him until he played at our local Arts Centre, 27 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Time Off (Audio CD)
Steve Gunn is a talented musician who doesn't feel the need for flashy showmanship. Instead you have an album of carefully worked music, dominated by Steve's guitar, which stretches out in long breaks that eventually produce an almost hypnotic effect. As the other reviewers have said, you can identify all sorts of influences and inspirations in his work - some may just be coincidental, but a serious musician such as Steve must have heard Bert Jansch (and maybe soukous, which also uses repeated guitar phrases to build up a hypnotic atmosphere).
Some grumbles. The mixing places Steve's voice and the bass & drums too far back to be heard easily. And it's a shame there's not more variety in tempo. Overall, though, an interesting and rewarding album.


Revel Chrome Wet' N Dry Grinder
Revel Chrome Wet' N Dry Grinder
Price: £32.34

4.0 out of 5 stars Be patient with this gadget, 18 Dec. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a useful piece of kitchen equipment if, and only if, you treat it gently. It can be used for herbs as well as spices, and the powerful motor makes short work of nuts and seeds. However, don't let that fool you into thinking it's indestructible. The top of the grinder warns you to use it for no longer than 5 second bursts, but what it doesn't tell you is that if you fill it to the top with hard material there's likely to be irreparable damage and a strong smell of burnt plastic. Large chunks of hard material in particular are more than it can cope with - I've now wrecked 3 grinders trying to grind chunks of stale bread into crumbs. Take it easy, and it can cope, but when you're hungry that's not so easy!


Northeast India Handbook: Including the Andaman Islands (Footprint Handbooks)
Northeast India Handbook: Including the Andaman Islands (Footprint Handbooks)
by David Stott
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sturdy and practical guide, 24 Nov. 2013
Unlike the previous reviewer, I did take this guide to India, and it survived 4 weeks bumping around in my day sack totally undamaged. It's a useful little book, and I found the comments and advice relevant and helpful for the places we visited - and the restrained writing style helped when there were decisions about what to visit and what to miss. It's harder to do that with a guide that gives opinions about places as well as facts (and the cheery enthusiasm of Lonely Planet guides can get just a little tiresome.) It could do with more maps and fuller details of some of the towns, and some of the general details in the back and front of the book look as if they've been borrowed from a guide to the whole of India, so it gets 4 stars not 5. And like all guide books it was out of date before it was printed. But overall we were very glad to have it along to help us, and would recommend it.


Experience Yoga Nidra: Guided Deep Relaxation (Remastered)
Experience Yoga Nidra: Guided Deep Relaxation (Remastered)
by Swami Janakananda Saraswati
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £15.00

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The jury's still out on this one, 20 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As I'm as supple as the average ironing board, I've been going regularly to yoga classes for several years now. I'd unreservedly recommend yoga (properly taught) to anyone, in particular because of the calmness and peace that is experienced during the final relaxation pose. This will sound pretentious if you haven't done yoga, but I'll bet everyone who's looking at Yoga Nidra CDs knows what I mean. I bought this CD to try to to recreate that calm peaceful stste at home whenever I wanted it.

As the product description and other reviewers have explained, there's a short and a long exercise. The short one is fine - not as good as Savasana guided by a teacher you trust and respect, but definitely relaxing, and something I'm going to continue with. The longer one's more problematical. To begin with, I've sometimes got cramp just from staying in the same position for a long time. Secondly, as I'm not a Hindhu, and I'm unaware of any empirical evidence of the physiological existence of Chakra, I find it hard to remain relaxed during the long period in which they are discussed. It's childish I know, but I find myself wanting to argue with the Swami. Finally, part of the exercise is to visualise being in a forest, seeing the sunshine dappling through the trees etc etc, until you reach a part of the journey where you're meant to visualise meeting a bear. If I ever did meet a bear in a forest, the adrenalin tap would open at full flow and I'd post my fastest half-marathon time for a couple of decades. Again, not that conducive to relaxation. No doubt people more spiritual and emotionally mature won't be distracted in the same way, but perhaps it's worth remembering that what one person accepts, another may not, and something may be acceptable when said by a familiar and trusted teacher but not by a voice on a CD. So, I'll persevere with the longer, deeper exercise and hope these irritations cease to distract.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 16, 2013 5:36 PM BST


Satie: Gnossiennes, Gymnopédies, Piano Works [Virgo]
Satie: Gnossiennes, Gymnopédies, Piano Works [Virgo]
Price: £6.62

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Accessible collection of Satie's piano music., 20 Mar. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I was introduced to Satie's piano music by my wife, who played me a scratched LP by Ciccolini when we were first going out in the late seventies. I had never heard music like it. A series of short piano pieces, some poignant, some witty, all deceptively simple but difficult to tire of. It was very different to the reggae that made up most of my listening at that time, and helped me re-assess what I valued and enjoyed in music. When our turntable was so worn it had to go to the great disco in the sky, I looked for a CD to replace the now very battered LP. I bought "The Magic of Satie" by Jean-Yves Thibaudet first. I liked his playing, but it didn't contain some of my favourite tracks, but had instead a number of lesser-known Satie compositions which I didn't think worked as well as his more famous ones. Now I've bought this CD to supplement it. The selection of tracks is excellent for someone who has no ambition to become a Satie expert, but who enjoys his unique style of composition. I feel the piano playing isn't quite as good as Ciccolini's, but maybe that's just nostalgia. Of the tracks common to this and the Thibaudet album I generally prefer Thibaudet's, but I don't know enough about piano playing to analyse why. What I would say is for the price of a couple of coffees you can buy 70 minutes of wonderful music, more than adequately played, which you will be enjoying for decades to come.


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