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Paul Johnson

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Not Too Late
Not Too Late
Price: £7.48

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better Than Before, 29 Jan 2007
This review is from: Not Too Late (Audio CD)
I've just got through my second listening of this album having bought it on release day. There are not many artists who I deem good enough to make me go out and purchase an album on release day, but Norah Jones is one of them after here excellent debut effort and, in my opinion, the even better and more eclectic 'Feels Like Home'.

Was it worth the effort to get straight away? Yes, I think it probably was. It is different from the first two in a way that I find difficult to define. It feels more laid back and sparse than previously, certainly than 'Feels Like Home'. It also comes across as more raw and unpolished, though that's probably more as a result of a change of producer than anything Jones has specifically done herself.

It's worth noting that all of the tracks on this CD have been written by her and she is clearly developing into a fine songwriter. Her voice continues to carry through even the weak tracks and the support musicians she uses are all on good form. You can appreciate more her skills as a muscian on this than on earlier releases which relied heavily on her voice and the 'novelty factor' of a new artist selling in a section of the market that was under supported in the past.

I can't really say what I regard as standout tracks from only two listens, though they will be there. This is a more complex album than she has released in the past and will take more effort to fully enjoy. Previous releases have been fine as background music, but I don't think you really gained a whole lot more by putting time aside and listening with no distractions. This is different in that it will, and is the better for it.

Highly recommended.

Price: £14.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Album, 25 Jan 2007
This review is from: Spiral (Audio CD)
This is a first class recording by someone who is clearly developing into a top standard jazz artist. I saw them play live a month or so ago and was impressed by the incredible amount of energy she put into the performance and that comes accross in this recording as well. The whole CD has an energy to it that makes you want to keep listening again and again.

The band she has put together are excellent, the drummer especially is very skilled (not to say the bass player is not) and the whole thing feels very 'tight'.

So, if it's that good, why not five stars? Well, I can't help but feel that she will continue to improve and will deliver even better on her next album, so I need some room for that eventuality when it is released! Also, and this is a minor point, it starts to feel a bit 'samey' in places. A bit more variation would have helped, but don't let that put you off.

Carnaval - Wynton Marsalis
Carnaval - Wynton Marsalis
Offered by Music-Club
Price: £23.85

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars First Class Technique, 6 Jan 2007
Marsalis is a trumpeter who really can do it all. I've never heard anyone so versatile before in that he really can play classical as well as jazz trumpet and here he demonstrates his skills on the cornet.

This is a collection of turn of the century classic wind band pieces by the likes of Arban and Herbert L. Clarke. Marsalis demonstrates an incredible range of skills from amazing circular breathing on Moto Perpetuo, to easily the finest demonstration of rapid precise double and triple tounging in The Carnaval of Venice. I've always been of the opinion that the real skill of a brass player is demonstrating control in quiet pieces and there is an excellent recording of 'Tis The Last Rose of Summer.

The wind ensemble accompanying him are excellent and well directed. The only criticism I have of this is that Marsalis frequently sounds too 'bright' for my liking. I'm sure he is playing cornet throughout, but some of the pieces sound more like it's a trumpet being played. That's for my ear though and I'm steeped in brass band music. Others would probably not mind.

iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon: Getting to the Core of Apple's Inventor
iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon: Getting to the Core of Apple's Inventor
by Steve Wozniak
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointing, 29 Dec 2006
From this book we are able to deduce three things:

1. Steve Wozniak is a brilliant engineer.

2. Steve Wozniak is a very decent chap.

3. Steve Wozniak is a poor author.

I have often been surprised by the number of autobiographies where the author does not seem to have an editor to ensure a good standard of English, and this seems to be the case again here. The editor is thanked at the end of the book, and it was supposedly written with the direct input of a journalist, but there seems to be little evidence of professionalism here. As a result, the book fails to flow especially well and I found it annoying to read in several places ("Do I sound like I'm showing off?" asks Steve, "Yes" I reply, and it's irritating).

Still, that's slightly unkind of me, especially given the successes Wozniak has had. This is an interesting account of his formative years and how Apple got underway and for Apple fans (I write this now on a MacBook) it will make interesting reading. For others, I would steer clear.

Computer World
Computer World
Offered by rbmbooks
Price: £23.96

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hugely Influential, 3 Dec 2006
This review is from: Computer World (Audio CD)
Kraftwerk are a band that we have all heard of, but mostly because of 'The Model' which is by some distance not what they are capable of, nor does it show how important they are. Computer World is Kraftwerk at their absolute best, basically inventing electronic music. Any band that have used synthesized music since 1980 onwards owes a huge debt of gratitude to this band and I would advise any student of music history to listen to this a great deal.

The key thing is this. Not only is it important due to it's musical influence, it's also stunningly entertaining and does not sound even slightly out of date.

It's great stuff.

The Chronicles Of A Bohemian Teenager
The Chronicles Of A Bohemian Teenager
Price: £7.41

10 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Keep Listening, 3 Dec 2006
This is a band that's going somewhere. I bought this CD because it just happened to be playing in the music shop in town. I'm something of an impulse shopper. With this CD I've really struck gold.

Style wise I would say it's close to a male version of KT Tunstall which is something of an advert in itself. It's acoustic guitar based music and is a refreshing change from the over stylised music that has been released of late. You can enjoy a group who really know their instruments and their style.

I strongly advise you buy this album and pay attention to this band. They sound like a band that will improve with age and having started strongly they will only get better.

Apple MacBook Pro MA092, Intel Core Duo 2.16GHz , 1GB, 120GB, 17" TFT, SD/AP/BT
Apple MacBook Pro MA092, Intel Core Duo 2.16GHz , 1GB, 120GB, 17" TFT, SD/AP/BT

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best laptop I've ever owned, 27 Nov 2006
I bought my first ever Mac (an iMac G5) last year and was delighted with it and when I saw the MacBook Pro I knew I had to have one. I now do (I'm writing this on it now!) and it is easily the best laptop I have ever owned.

Obviously one of it's key features is the fact that it runs Mac OS. Now I'm not a typical pro-Apple, anti-Microsoft Apple user, and still maintain that Windows is not that bad, but Mac OS is a joy to use. It's more stable than I could imagine (which I admit Windows is assuming you don't screw around with it too much) and seems to be able to handle incredible amounts of open applications at once.

Anyway, enough about the OS, what about the laptop. The first thing you note is that it looks stunning. I've never seen such a brilliant (and huge!) screen on a laptop and it makes the whole user experience way better. It looks stylish both open and closed and whilst I admit that is not important when it comes to choosing a computer, it is nice! The backlit keyboard is an excellent touch, especially if you fly lots and are likely to be working in a dim cabin, though the backlight is supposed to be driven by an ambient light sensor, the settings of which you can't change, and for my taste the sensor does not want the backlight on until it is too dark. Some third party software can sort that out for you.

The power cord is worth a mention - a brilliantly thought through magnetic affair which ensures if you trip over the cord it will come free of the Mac and not drag the thing off the table.

Wireless works well and I've had no bother connecting to any networks.

It is incredibly well geared for expandability with plenty of USB and Firewire ports.

The only negative I can find is that it does get surprisingly hot. I've read on the Apple website that this is normal and actually since upgrading to all the latest drivers it seems cooler, but that has cost it one star.

All in all, a great laptop. Costly, but worth it.

About Schmidt [DVD] [2003]
About Schmidt [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ Jack Nicholson|Hope Davis
Offered by gowingsstoreltd
Price: £3.10

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Movie, 8 Nov 2006
This review is from: About Schmidt [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
This is a movie that is hard to describe, mostly because it is so not what you expect from Jack Nicholson. Over the years we have been accustomed to expect a performance that steals the show and gives nobody a look in - the sort of larger than life performance of The Joker from Batman or of course McMurphy from One Flew Over The Cookoo's Nest (his best performance in my opinion) - but we don't get that here. In About Schmidt we see a far more thoughtful and balanced performance and it seems impossible to think that it is the same person.

The movie is based around a road trip where the lead character discovers themselves. This is something we have some to expect from young collage characters, not from a 66 year old who has recently seen his wife pass on. He is on the way to see his daughter marry someone he believes is beneath her.

I won't spoil things by letting you know how things turn out on the trip other than to say it is genuinely heartwarming and I defy anyone not to be impressed by Nicholson's performance.

Dyson DC14 Animal Upright Vacuum Cleaner Silver/Lavender
Dyson DC14 Animal Upright Vacuum Cleaner Silver/Lavender

22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It cleans my carpet, 12 Aug 2006
This is probably not as good as people seem to have becomed conditioned to think. Sure it's a good idea, no bag and no suction loss due to the design, but the recepticle needs to be emptied far more frequently than I would expect.

Oh yeah, the advertising also seems to suggest that it has some amazing suction, but I would argue that it's not that much better than many other cleaners. Emptying the recepticle is nicely executed, though whilst removing the thing cleanly from the main cleaner is great, actually emptying it when you get it to the bin is not as clear as it should be.

For me I think I may have made a mistake buying one of the 'upper' models of the cleaner and the entry level cleaner would probably have done (I have no pets, children etc. so create little mess).

For other people, you should not read this review and reject this vacuum, it is a good product, it's just not a great product in the way that the media would have you to believe.

It cleans your carpet.

Gaggia Classic RI8161 Coffee Machine with Professional Filter Holder - Stainless Steel Body
Gaggia Classic RI8161 Coffee Machine with Professional Filter Holder - Stainless Steel Body
Price: £260.64

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Spendid Piece Of Kit, 12 Aug 2006
I love a good cup of coffee and this thing makes it. I also love gadgets that look stylish in my kitchen and this thing does it! It is pretty simple to use, though I've had bother figuring out how to make decent foaming milk for cappuccino, but through various experiments I'm getting there (I've been surprised to find that skimmed milk seems to work best).

Now actually I don't really drink cappuccino, I'm more an expresso man and this thing really excels at making that. Good coffee is required and it has to be ground right, but assuming that is the case, it's simple to make a really good coffee. I love it.

The only thing that has cost it 5 stars is the instructions which are not really good enough. It's not a translation problem, though the translation is not perfect, more that they have not been written well enough in the first place. There is some of the maintainance that is not entirely clear from the instructions and whilst I found it simple enough to figure out what was needed, I'm an engineer and I'm mindful that others may not be so mechanically minded.

Other than that, it's great.

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