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AlanMusicMan (North Cornwall)
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The Spark of Life: Electricity in the Human Body
The Spark of Life: Electricity in the Human Body
by Frances M. Ashcroft
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Read!, 23 Aug 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
After years of messing around with electronics, computers and circuitry I have to stand back in awe at the electrical system upon which my whole body depends. When you think that it's only a sub-system of the entire body, it's even more remarkable. This book takes you through the intricate electrical processes which animate and control yours and my body. It looks at the role that electrical subsystem plays in feelings such as pain, pleasure, discomfort, sensing, feeling, hearing and seeing. It's an amazing tour and even more remarkable when you reflect that - as the author points out - we are only part way to understanding how this aspect of "us" works - and when it comes to understanding the complexities of how the brain processes and generates all this electrical information and control, we have a very long way to go.

It certainly made me think of me in a rather different way. Highly recommended.


The Making of Modern London
The Making of Modern London
by Gavin Weightman
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars But what about the TV Series?, 18 Aug 2012
This book was - and is - superb. It tells the story of how London transitioned from being a large town with an aglomeration of villages around it to be a cohesive - if disparate - whole. The world's first super-city.

It's all here. The building of the railways, paving over the rivers, untrammelled speculative building, dealing with the slums, London at war, the underground, how the Victorian, Edwardian and 20th century suburbs were built. It's a great read for anyone who has ever wondered how it all came to be or those who (like me) feel at once impressed and repelled by the idea of so many millions people in such a comparatively small area.

It was, of course, accompanied in the mid 1980s by a Thames TV series of the same name (possibly that even came first) - which was truly excellent and of which I still have one episode (captured at the time on VHS and later transferred to DVD in all its wobbly glory!). That show still fascinates me and I get it out to watch every now and again, my copy may be poor quality technically, but it's documentary making par excellence. Its a absolute crime that the series has never been reissued. I think Freemantle media now owns the Thames library - so how about it guys?


Draper 59824 20 mm Brad Nail
Draper 59824 20 mm Brad Nail
Price: £10.26

1.0 out of 5 stars Bad Selling. Product Unknown., 24 Jun 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
What a shame there is no other way to let the vendor know that this listing is worse than useless. It doesn't say what quantity of nails this pack contains and it doesn't give a hardness rating. I bet there have not been many sold..... deservedly so.

There are actually 5000 in this pack - which is a real bargain as compared to DIY store prices for these things, but how would you know from this listing? I had to go and look it up on Toolstop.

ADDENDUM:

Well, that was a bad buy! These brads don't fit in my Stanley staple/nail gun. They're too big. 8-(


Arrival - Complete Collection
Arrival - Complete Collection
Price: £12.63

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great Art - Bad Tech, 13 May 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Arrival's work deserves a much better revival than this. As other reviewers have noted, the technical quality of this CD is poor. I think these are cleaned up transcriptions from original Vinyl - not at all done from masters - and not done all that well, either.

Give or take a few clicks and pops, my original single of "I Will Survive" sounds marginally better than the muddy version on offer from this CD, as does my single of "Friends". Listen to the section of "I will Survive" after the second chorus - leading into the instrumental bridge - if you want to hear it at its worst. Given the care and love that have so obviously gone into the liner notes and artwork, you have to wonder if the original master tapes are lost now, or perhaps the Decca archive refused access to them?

However, if you don't already have Arrival music in original format then do buy this CD. The art transcends the technical problems and this is GOOD music. It's just that the technical side of things should have been so very much better.

Oh, and "Friends" is the album version - not the Mono single version which, as somebody has already said, ended with a massive elongated piano chord, not the repeat fade out offered here: This reinforces the suspicion that these are just LP transcriptions. Also a bit odd that this discrepancy is not mentioned or explained in the liner notes (so far as I could find anyway!).

P.S> For anyone wondering if "I Will Survive" is the same song that Gloria Gaynor made famous, no it's not. Her song is about surviving relationship break ups. This song is about surviving more general kinds of oppressions.


A Night to Remember
A Night to Remember
by Walter Lord
Edition: Audio CD

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Direct Connections., 4 May 2012
This review is from: A Night to Remember (Audio CD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I had not realised that what is still my favourite Titanic movie "A Night to Remember" starring Kenneth More (which despite being made in 1958 and in black and white, still packs a bit of a punch at the crucial moments) was based largely on the contents of a book of the same name. Here, Martin Jarvis (professional as ever) reads every bit of that book. It's about a five hour programme in all.

Over many years, American author Walter Lord seems to have created the definitive resource for information about the Titanic and her icy end. he worked on the book for many years, leading up to publication in 1955: He interviewed 63 survivors of the disaster, he trawled through official records, personal diaries and memoirs (many unpublished) and he used the best available scientific advice and evidence available at that time to put together an account of the disaster that ranged from the personal, through the professional and technical, to the philosophical. There is an amazing amount of detail, some trivial, some crucial.

I have to say that it seems to me that almost all of the Titanic TV documentaries, films and dramas ever made owe Mr Lord an enormous debt. By comparison with what he created, many later efforts are just superficial regurgitations of his work and add nothing new.

Mr Lord's is the definitive voice on the subject of the Titanic: This was largely due to timing (he had access to many living memory sources that time denied to later researchers) but he seems to have treated the subject more holistically than many of his successors have done - looking at it in more depth (no pun intended) from each viewpoint than many have seem prepared to do since - not just focussing on the sensationalist angles.

Highly recommended.
Alan T


Nero 11 Multimedia Suite (PC)
Nero 11 Multimedia Suite (PC)

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent suite of stuff: First Impressions, excellent., 4 May 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've got loads of mediaprep tools, tools for video editing and transcoding, audio editing and transcoding, image editing and rendering - it sometimes seems like there's nothing that cannot be done. However, many of these tools are spread across several different packages and you have to laboriously crank up each one in turn as part of a workflow. That's the main reason why this product should do well.

I'll write a more detailed review when I have used it for longer, since I strongly feel that it is only by using something as wide ranging and multifaceted as this that you really get to discover its benefits and pitfalls. First impressions are that's it's very good.


The Goon Show: v. 29 (Radio Collection)
The Goon Show: v. 29 (Radio Collection)
by Spike Milligan
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £11.09

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not only, but Also!, 4 May 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Four more episodes of the comedy show that fathered so many comedy careers and shaped our comedy preferences for the 30 years that followed. Until the "Comedy of Observation and Anger" took over in the late 1980s, the comedy of madness and surrealism ruled supreme and it was mainly due to the Goons.

These four episodes are typical of the series, though I personally don't think they are among the best of the series, they are still very listenable: Irreverent and surreal they each have a loose plot inside which the show's regular characters catchphrases and features are showcased. Of these, my favourite is "The Collapse of the British Railway Sandwich System" in which Neddy Seagoon tries to find out the reason for a national shortage of mustard and cress to go into British Railway sandwiches. A crisis indeed!

The technical quality of these is very good considering the vintage.


That's Why God Made The Radio
That's Why God Made The Radio

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Talk About Your Moments of Magic!, 30 April 2012
Strange how apparently random things come together to make a moment of pure spine tingling magic: I write this, fresh from such a moment!

Just by Google-chance this morning I discovered that Radio Caroline (arguably the Pirate Radio station that made the UK 60s pop scene and everything that flowed from it, possible) is still on air! I also discovered that you can stream Caroline's output from their site!

Now, I am utterly sick of UK music radio where the presenters all want to be chat show hosts and the music is subordinated to filling in between long boring chat breaks (the clue's in the title guys: "music" radio!!!) and the most common word you'll hear is "er...".

So, I thought I would stream Caroline instead of playing stuff from my large but over-familiar music library. The second song that came down was this one! A brand new song about the magic of music on the radio, one of my all-time favourite bands returning to form with a bang and their new song streaming from a pirate radio boat in the north sea! The hairs on the back of my neck must have made me look like a porcupine!

The song is a celebration of how magical radio can be when it's done right by people who have a genuine excitement about the music and the medium, like it used to be before it became a refuge for TV wannabes and has-beens.

It's the song the Beach Boys would have loved to have done in 1965, but didn't have the technology, the maturity or the power of nostalgia to fuel it. Apart from the much better sound quality, it could have been cut in the same session as "In my Room" or "Your Summer Dream". Well, now they've done it and I think it will play forever, or at least whilst there are still people who know what good music radio should be.

Alan T
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 11, 2013 11:15 PM GMT


Tilt
Tilt
Price: £8.37

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unrelievedly Bleak and Downbeat., 7 April 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Tilt (Audio CD)
Although one can sense a serious and perhaps worthy intent, to me this is a very bleak and unlovable outing.

Although of course, the Walker Brother's hits were all pretty downbeat, they did have superb melodic themes, ideas and arrangements underpinning them. Scott's earlier solo work also had a wide degree of mood and style variation in it.

"Tilt" seems to me a deliberately discordant and unrelentingly bleak morass - like he is flipping the finger at the accessibility and musicality of his better known earlier work, This seems to me a misguided attempt to shed his former skin and make audiences believe he's not the "Make it Easy On Yourself" man any more.

Not for me at all. I bet these sessions were no fun at all to work on.

Alan T


The People's Post
The People's Post
by Dominic Sandbrook
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £13.17

5.0 out of 5 stars From Mounted Messagers to Postman Pat in 2 hours flat (First Class)., 6 April 2012
This review is from: The People's Post (Audio CD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Because we all grew up in a society with a mature, fully functioning postal system we don't value it as much as we probably should.

Of course, for many in the younger generations, the post is just that service that delivers things you ordered on-line; It's not a means you would ever even consider for sending messages to your friends or family (except perhaps a thank-you letter to grandparents after Christmas!).

As this series sombrely concludes, the future of our universal postal delivery service is far from certain. Many voices seem to be saying that, in this age of multi-method instant communication, the need for flat-fee postal deliveries to every location in the UK, every day, has passed - and it IS getting notoriously difficult to make it pay.

However, it turns out that it always was difficult to make money from postal deliveries; it was just that, before it was split up in the 1990s, The Post Office cross subsidised its different activities to make an overall profit. The postal delivery arm, Royal Mail, drew the short financial straw when Tony Blair's government split the Post Office three ways. Post Office Counters and Parcel Force do okay, most of the time.

This series traces the origins of the postal service. It begins with a relay system of horse mounted messengers. These carried the King Henry VIII's mail (thus Royal Mail) to and from the south coast ports from London, keeping the King in touch with his political interests on the continent. Eventually, the King was persuaded that these messengers should also carry communications from other people - at a price. Gradually the system was expanded to provide communication to other larger towns across the country, but remained very expensive to use. Because the system remained under direct crown control, it was seen as legitimate to open letters being carried for non-Royal users, in case any seditious or illegal intent was afoot! Many actual, or supposed, plots against the crown seem to have been discovered in this way.

By Regency and early Victorian times, entrepreneurial efforts had expanded the ever-busier system to the point where it became necessary to use stage coaches to transport the mails and these coaches also began to carry passengers, the first real network of public transport in the world. Still, the post (and the travel) was very expensive and well outside the reach of most working people. When the railways were built (from the mid 1830s onward) they quickly became the carrier of choice for the mails. Then, in mid Victorian times, came Rowland Hill with his "penny post" concept. Despite much vocal opposition (examples of which now sound like outbreaks of extreme paranoia!) the idea went ahead: The postal system, as we have known it our lifetimes, was born.

The bones of the story of the postal system, as I have just recounted them above, do not do justice to the richness and detail that this series delivers. You'll hear readings: Everything from letters sent in the 1600s through to letters from scared and homesick Tommies in the trenches of WW1. You'll hear from conspirators and officials; you'll hear how the proposals and implementation of the modern postal system was so vehemently opposed by those who thought it would be destabilize society: You'll hear how, ultimately the postal system came to be a unifying and empowering force that it's possible to say, without exaggeration, made viable the very notion of a "United Kingdom".

A fascinating series: It has musical interludes and links (though these are a little over repeated when you listen to this at one sitting, rather than episodically, which was the original way you would have heard them) and it has a nice structure and pace. Dominic Sandbrook is a very good presenter, with a nice sense of humour and an infectious enthusiasm for the subject.

Highly recommended.

Alan T


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