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biltmans "biltmans" (UK)

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Like A Fire
Like A Fire
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £9.54

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another outing to Burke's country., 4 July 2008
This review is from: Like A Fire (Audio CD)
Solomon Burke's latest CD is a personal and understated if not sparse affair. For most of his career the man from Philadelphia has been switching between country and soul, often choosing songs from the (white) country tradition but singing them with (black) preacher type phrasing. Until recently Burke's accompaniment also stuck to traditional soul patterns. Nothing wrong with that! Now, once again, there is not a sax or trumpet in sight. If anything this CD is even more introspective than its predecessor. Is it good? Yes, but I'm beginning to believe it's not as good as the three preceding ones, Don't give up on Me, Make do with what you've got and Nashville. My ideal verdict would be three and a half stars but that is not possible.
The two collaborations with Eric Clapton are the highlights of the album.
Like a Fire, the album's opener and title track is a brooding song. I do wonder though whether perhaps Burke should have taken more time before finally recording it. I have now heard three versions of this song. At the Glastonbury festival on June 29 the big man seemed to have difficulty remembering the lyrics, four days later at London's Barbican he gave a superb impassioned rendition of the song, obviously having familiarised himself with it in the mean time. The Barbican version was in my opinion superior to the one on this CD.
Thank you, co-written with Clapton is upbeat and light of touch with one of those lovely down home spoken bits in the middle of a song, Burke can do so well.
Other highlights are We don't need it, a tale of a man who loses his job and A Minute to Rest, although I could have done without the heavenly choir at the start there!
The final track, If I give my Heart to You seems to indicate a possible new avenue : Lounge Music, and I do not mean that in a negative sense! Listening to his phrasing here and the wonderful way in which he modulates his voice, I wondered if perhaps an album of standards such as Nat King Cole's Let there be Love or Howard Keel's Oh what a beautiful Morning might not be a good step forward.

Berlin: Portrait of a City
Berlin: Portrait of a City
by Hans Christian Adam
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £29.24

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book as grand as the city itself, 27 Dec 2007
What European city has more history than Berlin? Taschen's lavish photographic extravaganza shows us the Berlin of Frederick the Great, of Kaiser Bill, of Marlene Dietrich of Isherwood. It shows us the Berlin of Hitler and Speer of course, who tried to build a thousand year empire that lasted barely 12. It shows us the Berlin of Rudi Dutschke, Bertolt Brecht, Willy Brandt and of Erich Honecker who built a wall, which divided the city for some 28 years.
Above all this book shows the Berlin of the people, of children walking to school, satchels on their back, of housewives selecting bricks for reuse from the city's ruins after 1945, of DDR citizens in their Trabbis crossing into the West in 1989, of Turkish "guest workers" of gay pride on show during the "Love Parade".
After the 2nd world war they thought there was no Berlin anymore. In the sixties, seventies and eighties we all thought there would for ever be two Berlins. Now, united once again, the city takes pride in challenging architecture and exciting events such as the world cup Football tournament of 2006.
What can be better than this wonderful book with its 700 glorious pages of fine photography? I tell you what! Its subject : the city itself.!

Atlas Maior of 1665: Anglia,Scotia et Hibernia
Atlas Maior of 1665: Anglia,Scotia et Hibernia
by Joan Blaeu
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £42.86

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tiny complaint but still .............. 5 stars, 26 Mar 2007
I was amongst those who raved about the one volume larger format edition of this same atlas, the fascimile of an 11 volume atlas encompassing the whole known world as seen by Johan Blaeu in 1665.

As I said of that tome, if you like travel, history and maps this is for you. If you like Michelin and Ordnance Survey but would like to know about Mercator and Speed, this is for you.

That one volume edition monumental though it was, was obviously a taster for the various separate editions of which this is one. If you are a completist you may therefore be a tiny bit annoyed at the folks at Taschen, the publishers. Why fork out for a one volume incomplete edition if you can have all those separate atlases to salivate over?

Looking at this volume though, your annoyance will vanish quickly. Yes, some of the introductory material is identical to that in the one volume edition and will be identical to material in other volumes, but look at that colour, look at those details and consider what a ridiculously low price Taschen is charging for this.

I'll probaly end up buying all those separate volumes one after another!

Thank you Mr. van de Krogt and Thank you Taschen Verlag for giving us so much pleasure.

Price: £9.80

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true departure., 13 Oct 2006
This review is from: Nashville (Audio CD)
Solomon Burke's venture into country music, Nashville, is a true departure. We all know how the singer was interested in Gene Autry and Roy Rogers from an early age. Still, "Just out of Reach", was a country song adapted to the soul idiom.

On this album however, Burke surrounds himself with country musicians and immerses himself fully in the country idiom, and it works!

Then there is the intimacy of the affair. The album was recorded in Buddy Miller's home and wouldn't I have loved to have been a fly on the wall during those sessions.

"That's How I Got To Memphis", the first track, is just Solomon's voice with guitar and bass. Burke's voice and phrasing here is commandeering and conspiratorial at the same time.

"Seems Like You're Gonna Take Me Back" and the Springsteen written "Ain't Got You" are treated as jolly hoedowns. At the end of the latter song Burke is heard wondering whether his fellow musicians "have got religion. Hilarity ensues.

Of the duets, the one with Dolly Parton works least but "Valley of Tears" with Gilian Welch is a gem. At the end Burke just cannot bring himself to part with his listeners, repeating the main phrase over and over again until he finally just whispers it to himself. As I said : Intimacy!

The phrasing in "Honey Where's The Money Gone" hints at disappointment and resignation. It's a sad story but as the accompaniment gently swings along you can't help smiling. "Atta Way To Go", which follows it, is another song of lost love, but what a contrast! Here, bitterness if not anger set the scene.

Amongst the other tracks two more duets stand out. "You're The Kind Of Trouble" featuring Patty Loveless is joyful and even suggestive at times. Which brings me to my favourite track, "We're Gonna Hold On", a duet with Emmy Lou Harris. Burke and Harris sing along as if they have known one another all their lives. Comfortable like your favourite pair of jeans, fullblooded and warm like a second glass of wine from the best bottle of red wine you ever tasted. Those comparisons were originally just meant for the Burke Harris duet. They apply even more to this album as a whole and to Solomon Burke as a singer.

Listen to Nashville and let the big man from Philadephia be your friend!

The Proposition
The Proposition
Price: £7.29

5 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The film might be great but the soundtrack?, 29 Aug 2006
This review is from: The Proposition (Audio CD)
Nick Cave is of course a singer - auteur of genius, and should be allowed a few diversions. This austere and strange CD seems to be that; it's interesting rather than captivating. It will probably be a good souvenir for those who have seen the film. (I haven't seen it yet!) On its own though it simply is not good enough.

If you want an introduction to Nick Cave's work get The Best of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. If, having listened to and marvelled at that, you want more, buy Abattoir Blues / The Lyre of Orpheus. That last double CD is really value for money!

Let's hope Cave will soon come out with a "proper" new album.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 21, 2011 4:42 PM GMT

Maxwell: The Outsider
Maxwell: The Outsider
by Tom Bower
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still the best Robert Maxwell biography there is., 24 Aug 2006
This review is from: Maxwell: The Outsider (Paperback)
I bought this book immediately on publication in 1988, then bought a new edition after the death of its subject. Tom Bower's audacity, detailed research, and sheer dogged mindedness cannot be faulted. After all, when the first edition of this title came out Maxwell was at the height of his powers and seemingly had defeated those who thought he was unfit to direct a publicly listed company.

A criminal Maxwell certainly was and his death (I do believe it weas suicide!) offered no solace to the pensioners he swindled.

Maxwell certainly did intrigue. Emerging from the depth of Ruthenia to inexplicably be encharged of granting permits to publish to German citizen in the immediate post war period in Berlin, he laid the basis of a publishing company. It is my conviction that currency swindle and providing information to the British secret service were in fact his main concerns at that time.

Bower's research concentrates on Maxwell's later years. As this book is now out of print and Robert Maxwell recedes into the mists of history, it is unlikely that the man's earlier years will ever be properly investigated. That's a pity.

As said, Bower's book cannot be faulted. No other Maxwell biographer during his life time had as much courage and stamina.

How about a Maxwell biopic directed by Oliver Stone on the basis of Bower's work? James Gandolfini, provided he can do a good accent, is my tip for the title role!

Shadow Of The Giant: Book 4 of the Shadow Saga
Shadow Of The Giant: Book 4 of the Shadow Saga
by Orson Scott Card
Edition: Paperback

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Something new now please Mr. Card!, 16 Aug 2006
I bought this latest (and last?) volume in the Ender related Bean saga in the hope that I would enjoy it more than the preceding volume. I did not. Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead were amongst the most enjoyable books I ever did read. The first volume in the Bean Series was very good as well. As the volumes went on though plots became more and more convoluted, global politics too much of a feature and I enjoyed the tales less an less.

I hope Orson Scott Card will return to form soon. It's science fiction rather than political fiction I would like to see and more personal stories.

American V: A Hundred Highways
American V: A Hundred Highways
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £10.63

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is this the last we'll hear from Johnny ??, 14 Aug 2006
Though American V's quality shines through on first hearing, no trouble, it is only after repeated listening that it's stark beauty becomes fully apparent.
Only a strong man would be able to sing about failure, heartache and suffering the way Johnny does. Only Johnny Cash was able to take an "ordinary" songs such as Legend in my Time and make it say more than the original writer can ever have intended.
I would hope That Rick Rubin will be able to extract more gems from what is left in the vaults at the House of Cash. I would hope that Benmont Tench, Smokey Hornel and such musicians will once again be involved. In short I hope Johnny's last farewell, if there is to be one, will be handled in the same tasteful way as "Cash Unearthed".
One bit of very minor criticism : Rubin's liner notes were, I thought a bit on the self indulgent side. I would have preferred a few photographs of Johnny with his June.
What a mountain of a man Johnny was !!

Atlas Maior of 1665
Atlas Maior of 1665
by Joan Blaeu
Edition: Hardcover

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a treasure, a goldmine, a gem !!, 17 Feb 2006
This review is from: Atlas Maior of 1665 (Hardcover)
I you like travel, history and maps this is for you. If you like Michelin and Ordnance Survey but would like to know about Mercator and Speed, this is for you.
Look at maps of areas you know and wonder how things have changed, be intrigued at the detail, learn from the detailed introduction, salivate at the vivid colours. The book already has given me many happy hour and is bound to give me much more pleasure in future.

Chronicles: Volume One
Chronicles: Volume One
by Bob Dylan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

8 of 38 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars cantankerous and spiteful !!, 5 Feb 2006
This review is from: Chronicles: Volume One (Paperback)
Anybody with an interest in 20th century popular music will of course be interested in this volume. So was I. After all I own 15 Bob Dylan albums! Sadly interest soon gave way to irritation.
I particularly got wound up by Dylan's mendacious story about the Billy Bragg - Woody Guthrie controversy. You may remember that 2-3 years ago Billy Bragg together with the group Wilco recorded two fine albums of songs by Woody Guthrie or rather they set a number of Woody Guthrie's texts to music. These lyrics were found amongst Guthrie's possessions, after his death, then passed to Bragg by Guthrie's daughter Nora.
Dylan now tells the story how he visited Guthrie on his deathbed where the great man told him he had this box of lyrics which needed music set to them. "Go to my home, talk to my wife, pick up the box and do whatever you want with it" Guthrie said according to Dylan. Dylan said he did indeed do that but only found 10 year old Arlo Guthrie at home so returned without the box with lyrics.
"Forty years later these lyrics would fall into the hands of Billy Bragg and the group Wilco ........."
Fall into the hands? Dylan makes it sound as if Bragg was a thief and had no right to do what he did. In fact, Nora Guthrie had every intention to pass the lyrics to Dylan but felt so disgusted by D's performance in front of the pope some 10-12 years ago, she decided not to let him have the lyrics.
I can well believe this last story and am convinced the cantankerous old bastard, sorry bard, made up the story after he heard the lyrics were passed to Bragg.
The book has a number of other instances where Dylan sounds patronising to fellow folkies from the olden days. Finally I do not understand why somebody who wrote great socially relevant material has to maintain he has nothing to do with politics as he is a "mere entertainer".
Yes the man made some great music but I feel almost guilty that I bought this book!
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 16, 2012 3:59 PM GMT

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