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feline1 (Brighton, Sussex, UK)

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Price: 5.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Their best album, 21 April 2012
This review is from: Rubycon (Audio CD)
In my view, this was Tangerine Dream's finest album: before it, their music was a bit too clumsy and unstructured; after it, it was too clean and polished. Rubycon is the perfect midpoint: all their classic sonic techniques - analogue sequencer riffs, mellotrons, cavernous reverb, beautiful spacey synth soundeffects... but crafted into two excellent proper pieces of music, with a definite structure and progression.

However, never mind about that, everyone will have their own favourite Tangerine Dream album - what I want to mention specifically here is the 1995 'Definitive Edition' remaster by Simon Heyworth. I ripped WAVs off this disc and my original Virgin CD of the album (which is so old, it was the type with an opaque pastel blue coating on the non-playing side). Doing an A/B comparison in an audio editor, Heyworth's 1995 remaster is pretty unequivocably an improvement. There's no 'loudness wars' nonsense going on, the music is allowed to peter out into silence as per the original - just a cleaner, better quality transfer from the master tape, with extended high and bottom ends, and a modest volume increase (but no clipping or compression). Nothing radical, no huge sonic changes, but just noticeably better quality.

Solo [1974-1983] The Virgin Years
Solo [1974-1983] The Virgin Years
Price: 13.74

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Froestastic, 21 April 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Edgar Froese? A challenging name for most British folk to even pronounce, never mind listen to. However in 1973, Richard Branson had discovered to his surprise long complicated instrumental music could be sold by the millionfold to earnest young men up and down the country (see Mike Oldfield: Tubular Bells). And thus, Virgin Records' next signing was Tangerine Dream, German purveyors of extremely long and cosmic electronic instrumental epics. 1974 saw their 'Phaedra' album reach unlikely heights in the top 10, and Bransen saw fit to give T.Dream's main man, Herr Edgar Froese, free reign to release solo albums of long cosmic electronic instrumental music too! (Would such a thing ever happen today?!) Over the next decade he'd bring out half a dozen solo albums for Virgin, 5 of which are collected here.

AQUA (1974) is a seminal, genre-defining work. Deeply ambient watery electronic gurgles for 20 minutes! Tumbling endlessly repeating analogue sequencer riffs, skeins of moog and mellotron draped over them!

EPSILON IN MALAYSIAN PALE (1975) is my personal favourite album of all time. No other record has such consistent power to work as a mood altering substance! A veritable jungle of reverb-drenched mellotron and softly burbling analogue sequences - totally hypnogogic. David Bowie went public as a major fan (and not long after went to the same studio in Berlin, to record 'Low'...)

AGES (1977) is probably the most inappropriate double-album ever released during the punk rock era :) As with contempory Tangerine Dream recordings, it saw Froese move towards a cleaner, perkier, less cosmic sound, punctuated with real drums and the odd wigged-out guitar solo. Not without its moments.

STUNTMAN (1979) and PINNACLES (1983) continue in this vein - rather too anondyne and musical in places... perhaps it was the fault of "progress" in technology, but Froese's output sounded less like incredible evocative 'how does he do that?' soundscapes, and more like just some bloke playing a keyboard with his fingers. Still the odd good bit here and there though.

Plus points of this box set:
- the sound quality is good from a sensitive remastering (by Denis Blackham at Skye Mastering)
- the price makes it excellent value for money

Down side:
- the 5 albums are squished across 4 CDs, rather than each being given their own disc: so it doesn't make for very satisfying listening per disc (probably more aimed at people who rip CDs onto their computers)
- the excellent original 12" gatefold album artwork has been reduced to a 1" thumbnail of the front covers
- clumsy mislabelling of track names and other typos.

(the one labelled 'Epsilon in Malaysian Pale alternate version' is actually an edit of 'Tropic of Capricorn', and the one labelled 'Tropic of Capricorn alternate version' is actually 'AF 811' - from the Macula Transfer album, which is otherwise omitted from this set, as it wasn't released on Virgin).

Price: 5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simon Heyworth's 1995 Remaster really is very good, 21 April 2012
This review is from: Phaedra (Audio CD)
Phaedra is one of the seminal classic Tangerine Dream albums, and I'm sure if you're at all familiar with their music then you know what it sounds like, so I won't talk about the music itself here. Rather, this review is prompted by my getting the 'Virgin Years 1974-1978' box, which contains the 1995 'Definitive Edition' remaster of Phaedra. I already owned the 1985 Virgin CD edition, so I decided to rip the WAV files off each onto my PC and examine them in an audio editor, so see what the difference was. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the 1995 edition was pretty much unequivocably better. Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised, as it was mastered by Simon Heyworth, who is one of the most respected mastering engineers in the business, after all. First thing to reassure you about: it has NOT fallen victim to the loudness wars! The music on Phaedra literally peters out into silence in places, and it still does this on the remaster! However it is subtley and sensibly louder and clearer - there's a bit more top end, a bit more bottom end, more transients, and for instance you can hear the detail in the reverb trails more clearly. It simply is an improvement - not a radical difference, just a really good clean transfer from the original master tape. One bizarre thing about the original 1985 CD is that the waveform for Movements of a Visionary clips really badly about two-thirds of the way through! A howlingly bad mistake... goes off the scale for a couple of bars of the music, and you can hear nasty digital distortion! It most certain does not do that on Simon Heyworth's 1995 transfer! Good stuff.

Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals, 1e
Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals, 1e
by Robert Tisserand
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars best aromatherapy book I've ever read, 7 April 2012
I've been interested in aromatherapy for about 20 years now. I must've read over a dozen books on the subject. Sorry to say that a great many of them contain large amounts of what I can only call 'new age drivel. There is none of that in this book: it's the only one I've ever found that deals objectively with toxicology, biochemisty and giving a rigorous search of the medical literature. A proper book for scientists and health care professionals. If you prefer the new-age approach, you'll hate it :)

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy [Blu-ray] [US Import]
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy [Blu-ray] [US Import]
Dvd ~ Alec Guinness
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: 24.88

5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars abridged? unabridged? re-scanned from film? or just upscaled video?, 30 Mar 2012
I've been struggling to ascertain exactly what's on this BluRay.
The serial was originally broadcast on the BBC as a 7-part serial, and then shown in the USA on the PBS channel in abridged form... some online reviews have suggested that this BluRay is the abridged version, with the cut scenes available as extras.... however Acorn US's site states that 7 episodes are present, with "deleted scenes" as well.

As was typical for the BBC at the time, the serial was shot on 16mm colour film, which would be "tele-cined" and edited onto videotape for transmission on television. If the original film negatives are still available, and this BluRay was made by rescanning them, it could look markedly better than previous DVD releases. On the other hand, if it is simply an upscaled re-encoding of the same videotapes that were used to create previous DVDs, the benefit in having it on BluRay will be marginal. Online review sites have suggested the latter method was employed.

Until both these issues are clarified, I'll be holding back on ordering a copy of this. I have emailed Acorn Media US, and so far all they've confirmed is that their BluRay is Region Locked for North America.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 13, 2012 5:59 PM BST

The Stranglers, The: Song by Song
The Stranglers, The: Song by Song
by Hugh Cornwell
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant insight into the creative process, 14 Mar 2012
The problem with a lot of music journalism is that it is all about trousers, haircuts and politics - simply because music journalists often don't understand very much about the actual processes involved in writing and recording music. This of course fails the basic text of marxism, as it divorces the art from its material means of production. It also tends to tell you much more about the journalist than it does about the music.

This book, however, is a total breath of fresh air - Hugh Cornwell talks us through the entire Stranglers back catalogue, album by album, song by song, B-side by B-side. Don't mistake me: it's not all tedious practical details about what thickness of guitar strings he used and what type of Dubbly Stereo the engineer used. No - whilst these things are mentioned where they're relevant to how the results turned out, we also get a wealth of fascinating insight into the inspirations behind the songs, the (often volatile) interrelations between the band members, and events in their career in the often ludicrous world of the music biz. As you might expect from a band like the Stranglers, the sorts of things you'll be hearing about range from facepalmingly hilarious to flabberghastingly politically incorrect, heartwarmingly inspiring to really rather sad.

Cornwell is an articulate and cultured guy with a lot to say. Some of it magnanimous, some of it parsimonious.
Really, it's impossible for a book like this not to be somewhat biased towards Cornwell's personal views and recollections, because that's what it is. For instance, regarding 'Sometimes' (the first song on their first album), he opines that as he had already written the chord structure, Dave Greenfield's contribution was simply to 'fit in with what was already there'... I can imagine the latter taking exception to that, as from his point of view, he might feel he'd provided the main melody of the song!

As such, this book would've been even better if the other Stranglers had also contributed their own views - but they didn't, and I certainly wouldn't have wanted Cornwell to temper his in deference.
Essential reading for any Stranglers fan, or any music fan in general, I'd say.

Beasts - The Complete Series [DVD] [1976]
Beasts - The Complete Series [DVD] [1976]
Dvd ~ Pamela Moiseiwitsch
Price: 15.28

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Completely ahine!, 12 Mar 2012
Like nearly all Nigel Kneale productions, this series is essential viewing. That's not so much because it's perfect in its execution (it would be pushing things to say that it was), but rather because you are likely to sit there open-mouthed thinking "I can't believe they put this on television!?" And no, I don't mean that in the sense of "I can't believe they let something this bad on television" - it's more that it's just so damn ODD in places, yet everyone on screen is taking it all so immensely seriously... it's toying with madness right before your eyes.

For example, one story has Doyle out of The Professionals playing the owner of a p0rn cinema, trying to buy new premesis off some Arthur Daley character who is terrified by one of his ex-employees, namely a young lady who is possessed by the ghost of a dead dolphin. (No, really).
Now ask yourself, would such a storyline ever be broadcast on television today?! I doubt it. But in 1975 it was up there on ITV, with ad-breaks in the middle for Curly Wurlies and Readybrek. I defy anyone to watch something like this and not feel slightly 'altered' by it. It's a surrealist slap in the chops, TV to prod your mind and defamiliarise the mundane around you. Cos that girl on the bus or on the Tescos cheese counter *could* be possessed by the ghost of a dead dolphin, you know... Maybe...

Island of Lost Souls [Masters of Cinema] (Dual Format) [Blu-ray] [1932]
Island of Lost Souls [Masters of Cinema] (Dual Format) [Blu-ray] [1932]
Dvd ~ Charles Laughton
Offered by bestmediagroup
Price: 9.93

4 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Are we not men?, 3 Mar 2012
This is the film that the band DEVO based their entire career on! Are we not men? WE MUST REPEAT!

The Legend of Robin Hood [DVD]
The Legend of Robin Hood [DVD]
Dvd ~ Martin Potter
Offered by direct-2-u
Price: 28.65

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 3 Mar 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this DVD out of curiosity to see Paul Darrow's performance (he's better known as Avon from Blakes 7), as I'd often heard it cited to be "really good". I have to say I was surprised to find it considerably better that his Avon! Much nastier, grittier and more vicious. However standout performance must go, I think, to David Dixon as Prince John. Many viewers will know him better as Ford Prefect from HitchHikers Guide to the Galaxy.... he's outstanding in this: plays the whole thing as if dangerously intoxicated and utterly spoilt and incorrigable.... indeed pretty much all the cast give excellent turns - Tony Caunter as Friar Tuck...... King Richard is also superbly self-assured. The homoerotic tension between him and Robin Hood is very well played. Kevin Stoney also pops up (is there anything he wasn't in?)
The overall pace of the stories may seem a little slow by 21st century standards, but once you get into it, it's very absorbing.
Well recommended.

Collins Nicholson Inland Waterways Map of Great Britain (Collins/Nicholson Waterways Guides)
Collins Nicholson Inland Waterways Map of Great Britain (Collins/Nicholson Waterways Guides)
by Collins Maps
Edition: Map
Price: 5.59

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Updated to include the restored Droitwich Canals, 1 Mar 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This Nicholson map is probably the best (the only...?) all-on-one-page map of Great Britain's canal and river navigations. It's great for an at-a-glance view of the entire network (and all those other disconnected bits and pieces), although for detailed navigation on an actual cruise, you will want to refer to the appropriate of the Nicholson guide books.

This 2012 edition of the map has been updated to reflect the recent restoration of the Droitwich Canals to full navigable status, but apart from that I could spot any changes compared to the 2010 edition. Many more other restoration projects are optimistically marked on the map with dashed lines, although in the current economic climate I wouldn't expect too many of them to be shown as complete when the next edition is published! Still, we live in hope :)
I spotted a few restoration projects which are missing from the map (Louth Navigation, Buckingham Arm of the Grand Union, Sussex Ouse, Melton Mowbray...) but it will likely be many years before you can take a boat down any of these in any case...

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