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Collected Recordings 1983-1989
Collected Recordings 1983-1989
Price: £50.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Causing a commotion, 1 July 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Having had my interest in Lloyd Cole & The Commotions piqued by the recent 'Don't Look Back' budget compilation, I decided that this box set was a worthwhile investment. Featuring their three studio albums and two discs comprising of B-sides, remixes, outtakes, demo recordings and rarities, the combined playing time is 4 hours & 10 minutes. There's also a DVD (NTSC; Region 0; 66 minutes) featuring 10 promotional videos and eight BBC performances.

The remastering was overseen by Cole and it's been done very tastefully with no (dreaded) brick-walling. You notice the space and clarity between the instruments that you get when remastering is done properly, although Mainstream sounds more or less the same - Cole states that it just didn't need remastering - with only the volumes being slightly adjusted.

Housed in a very sturdy cardboard box with a lift off top there's a cut out hollow for the discs to sit in with a book sitting on top. The CDs and DVD are presented in (near) vinyl replica cardboard sleeves with another cardboard sleeve inside holding the CD (I don't know why they just didn't use gatefold sleeves).

The accompanying 48 page hard back book (the shape and size of it reminds me of those old Ladybird books!) features a lengthy and superbly written essay of the band's history including quotes from band members and associates who were interviewed by the writer, Pete Paphides. I was surprised to learn that when the band first got together they intended to be a soul/funk outfit but changed direction when Cole wrote some of the initial songs for 'Rattlesnakes'. The book also includes archive photographs and recording details. There are also three B&W postcards and a poster. Not sure they're entirely necessary - will anyone buying this really blu-tack the poster to their bedroom wall?!

The two extra discs contain 36 songs and here's a breakdown:

B-Sides, Remixes & Outtakes

1. The Sea and The Sand (B-side to Perfect Skin)
2. You Will Never Be No Good (B-side to Perfect Skin)
3. Andy's Babies (B-side to Forest Fire)
4. Glory (B-side to Forest Fire)
5. Sweetness (B-side to Rattlesnakes)
6. Perfect Blue (Hardiman Mix) (B-side to Jennifer She Said)
7. Jesus Said (B-side to My Bag)
8. Brand New Friend (1985 Wessex Studio recording. Previously unreleased)
9. From Grace (Unfinished 1985 Wessex Studio recording. Previously unreleased)
10. Her Last Fling (B-side to Brand New Friend)
11. Big World (B-side to Lost Weekend)
12. Nevers End (B-side to Lost Weekend)
13. Mystery Train (Live at The World, New York, 1986) (B-side to Jennifer She Said)
14. I Don't Believe You (Live at The World, New York, 1986) (B-side to Jennifer She Said)
15. Love Your Wife (B-side to From The Hip)
16. Lonely Mile (B-side to From The Hip)
17. Please (B-side to From The Hip)
18. My Bag (Dancing Mix) 12" single

Demo Recordings & Rarities (All previously unreleased except Tracks 2 & 6)

1. Down At The Mission
2. Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken? (Demo recording) (Previously on 'Rattlesnakes' Deluxe Edition)
3. Patience (Demo recording)
4. Eat My Words (Demo recording)
5. Forest Fire (Demo recording)
6. Perfect Skin (Demo recording) (Previously on 'Rattlesnakes' Deluxe Edition)
7. Poons (Demo recording)
8. Old Hats (Demo recording)
9. You Win (Demo recording)
10. Old Wants Never Gets (Demo recording)
11. Another Dry Day (Demo recording)
12. 29 (Demo recording)
13. Jennifer She Said (Demo recording)
14. Hey Rusty (Demo recording)
15. Everyone's Complaining
16. Mr Malcontent
17. Jennifer She Said (Polished Rough Mix)
18. Hey Rusty

There are some really interesting demos and alternate version that are significantly different (i.e. they're not just strum-along acoustic demos), both lyrically and in their arrangements, from what appeared on the albums (I've been caught out a couple of times when trying to sing along!). Their first (unreleased) A-Side 'Down at the Mission' is very soulful and funky with female soul singers on backing vocals and is an indication of the direction the band originally intended to take. They also recorded some quality B-sides. It's by no means an exhaustive collection with only one extended mix - My Bag (Dancing Mix) - included. I have read that Cole didn't want any other mixes included because they were only produced for the purpose of the 12" single format and are not representative of the band's overall sound.

Of the three studio albums, 'Rattlesnakes' is a classic debut and needs no introduction. I'm in agreement with Cole that 'Easy Pieces' is their weakest. It's by no means a bad album but in the eighties production was everything and the band had producers foisted on them by their record company. Because of this, I really do believe that if the band had started out 10 years later their career would have taken a completely different path. My favourite is Mainstream (I have so many memories tied up in it!) and as Cole admits, they needed to sell a million copies of it just to break even but, unfortunately, it sold nowhere near that many.

Watching the DVD is like being transported back to the eighties, particularly the three Top of the Pops performances. In all honesty, some of the videos are quite bad but it was the eighties and I suppose they didn't have Michael Jackson budgets.

Promotional Videos:

1. Perfect Skin
2. Forest Fire
3. Rattlesnakes
4. Brand New Friend
5. Lost Weekend
6. Cut Me Down
7. My Bag
8. Jennifer She Said
9. From The Hip
10. Mainstream

BBC Performances:

11. Perfect Skin (Top of the Pops, June 1984)
12. Rattlesnakes (The Old Grey Whistle Test, November 1984)
13. Speedboat (The Old Grey Whistle Test, November 1984)
14. Brand New Friend (Wogan, September 1985)
15. Brand New Friend (Top of the Pops, September 1985)
16. Lost Weekend (Top of the Pops, November 1985)
17. Mister Malcontent (The Old Grey Whistle Test) (Live at Ibrox Park, Glasgow, June 1986)
18. My Bag (Wogan, September 1987)

Watch out for the performance of 'My Bag' on Wogan. Cole starts the song wearing his glasses but after about 10 seconds takes them off and eventually puts them in his jacket pocket. I'm convinced that he meant to start the song without them on and intended to put them on when he sings the line "as my eyesight gets worse"!

In summary, I think Lloyd Cole & The Commotions are one of the most enduring bands of the eighties and this box set more than does justice to their legacy. If you're a fan, get it - you won't be disappointed.

7 Inch T716 Tablet PC, 16GB Multimedia, Multi-touch 1024 x 600 HD Display, A33 Quad Core, Google Android 4.4 KitKat, WLAN, Dual Camera, Wifi, Black
7 Inch T716 Tablet PC, 16GB Multimedia, Multi-touch 1024 x 600 HD Display, A33 Quad Core, Google Android 4.4 KitKat, WLAN, Dual Camera, Wifi, Black
Offered by AresparkDirect EU
Price: £100.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent value for money despite some limitations, 1 July 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a basic tablet but given the price, I wouldn't expect it not to be. However, it does represent excellent value for money for around £40 (at the time of writing). Running Android 4.4.2 (KitKat), the 16GB model has a generous 12GB of free space. Fortunately, there are no pre-loaded manufacturer apps (that you’ll never use!) that you get with the likes of Samsung. With a Quadcore 1.2Ghz processor and 512MB of RAM, it switches effortlessly between apps and you can have a lot going on but it copes with ease.

Given the price, there are some limitations. It does not have a GPS (but you can pinpoint your position using WiFi) or Bluetooth capability. The sound quality from the built-in speaker is limited and the option to use a Bluetooth speaker would have been useful. However, the sound quality when using headphones is very good and, despite what another reviewer has written, the sound does go VERY loud after you've acknowledged a (EU mandated!) safety warning.

The screen resolution is not brilliant but it’s more than acceptable when surfing the web and playing back downloaded iPlayer videos and watching videos on YouTube. I’ve fitted it with a 32GB MicroSD card but you cannot transfer apps to the card and, therefore, cannot save iPlayer videos to the MicroSD. However, given the amount of on-board storage you can download a lot of videos before space becomes an issue. The front and back cameras are low resolution (does anyone use tablets for taking HQ "keeper" photos?) but again, they’re acceptable for things like Skype. Quite often you have to double or treble swipe for a swipe to register which can be frustrating.

The build is very solid and comparable to the Hudl and Amazon Fire and it's light and comfortable to hold with well located buttons. With a full charge I've been averaging approximately 3½ hours of use when surfing the web whilst playing MP3s. It comes with a (non-USB) charging cable with a fitted plug, a USB to micro USB cable (again, despite what another reviewer has written, you can also charge it using this lead and a USB plug (which makes the supplied charger redundant)) and a USB adapter cable that allows you to connect an external hard drive or memory stick. I attached a 1TB hard drive and it recognised it and the MP3 files on it (and really makes we wish you could use it with a Bluetooth speaker).

Overall, this tablet is a bargain and it’s perfect for anyone who doesn't intend to spend hours online each day and also a great and affordable tablet for kids. I received my tablet from the supplier free of charge in return for this honest and unbiased review.

The Grandmaster Flash Collection
The Grandmaster Flash Collection
Price: £8.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Something for everybody, 27 Jun. 2015
Consisting of 55 chronologically ordered tracks across three CDs and a fourth disc featuring a 60 minute mix by Grandmaster, this collection represents excellent value for money and it's more or less a definitive history of hip-hop. Given that it's aimed at the mass market there are loads of mainstream crowd pleasers but there are also a lot of lesser known gems. The first disc is full of old school hip-hop classics (A Tribe Called Quest, N.W.A, Eric B & Rakim, etc.) and it’s the best here - the beats and the clever use of samples are at times jaw-dropping. Grandmaster's mix is nothing particularly special but for the money, you can't complain too much. Clocking in at a few minutes short of a mammoth 5 hours, it’s housed in a neat triple gatefold digipak. Existing hip-hop fans and newcomers will find much to enjoy.

Philips GC4521/87 Azur Performer Steam Iron - 200g Steam Boost, 2600 Watt
Philips GC4521/87 Azur Performer Steam Iron - 200g Steam Boost, 2600 Watt
Price: £49.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The next best thing to a steam generator iron, 22 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The is a big but by no means cumbersome iron that is probably the next best thing to a steam generator iron. It has a really big tank and even with the continious steam option on, it lasts a long time. You get a real blast of steam when you use the steam boost option that literally moves the iron independently across garments! The plate is big with a nice pointed tip for getting into those hard to reach areas. The calc function really does work - you can see the limescale it clears from the iron - and it also automatically switches off when not being used. All in all, this is a first class iron and a definite cheaper alternative to a steam generator iron.

Vision Media X 25 Single Clear CD Jewel Case
Vision Media X 25 Single Clear CD Jewel Case
Offered by Vision Media Store
Price: £10.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Very high quality cases, 19 Jun. 2015
These are very high quality, built to last CD cases and are exactly the same quality you get when you buy a new CD. I buy a lot of used CDs rated VG or VG+ from Amazon, Discogs and eBay. Most of the time the cases are either scuffed, cracked, have broken spindles or have old and grubby stickers that cannot be removed. Replace the case with one of these and it's as if I've bought a brand new CD. My order was despatched by Amazon and the cases were very well packaged and arrived with no breakages. Recommended.

Lost In Transmission
Lost In Transmission
Price: £10.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unlocking the vaults, 31 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Lost In Transmission (Audio CD)
This is the second Library compilation by Chichester Hospital Radio. Compiled by Steven Wills who produced a number of similar themed CDs for Winchester Hospital Radio, this release features a selection of familiar and not so familiar Library sounds that would, as explained in the sleeve notes, otherwise have remained "locked in the vaults".

Sourced from, amongst others, the archives of De Wolfe, JW Media, Studio G, Southern Music and Boosey & Hawkes, the music was used for UK radio and TV programmes, test card transmissions and radio intervals. The majority of the music is upbeat easy listening with plenty of jazzy and funky numbers, lush big band orchestrations, 80's synth music and the occasional trippy vibe. As with most Library music, the musicianship and arrangements are never less than exceptional, as is the sound quality. Where known, Wills has included details of where the the tracks were used.

Housed in a jewel case, the combined playing time of both CDs is a very generous 2½ hours and this is another essential purchase for anyone with an interest in Library music. I don't know how many copies of this CD have been printed but if the CDs Wills produced for WHR are anything to go by, it's probably a limited run (it's worth noting that some of the WHR CDs have been known to fetch three figure sums!). All proceeds received from the sale of this CD will be used to fund the daily radio service provided for patients by Chichester Hospital Radio.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 8, 2015 8:19 AM BST

HERE - Offline navigation, maps, traffic, public transport
HERE - Offline navigation, maps, traffic, public transport
Price: £0.00

5.0 out of 5 stars 100% accurate, works offline and easy to use, 20 May 2015
This is a superb free app from Nokia. Having seen it mentioned a few times, I installed the app and the UK map on my Android phone and it's been faultless. The best thing is that it works without an Internet connection; it uses your phone's GPS. It's exceptionally accurate and never misses a turn.

It works just like a satnav should and because of the voice guided navigation I never need to look at the live display on my phone screen. When I need to use it I just connect my smartphone to my car stereo via its 3.5" jack lead input, enter the location I'm headed for in the app, select a playlist from my phones's mp3 library and hit the road. When the voice guidance kicks in, my music is momentarily paused and I hear the voice guidance loud and clear over my car speakers.

When running it offline you don't receive traffic updates but you do get alerts for the majority of (but by no means all) speed cameras. It's intuitive to use and you can save routes, change the voice delivering the commands, etc. If you're planning on travelling further afield, it has maps for Europe, Africa, Asia, North & South America and Oceania. It also has specific city maps for most major cities.

All in all, it's a faultless app and best of all, it's free!

Silicon Power 1TB 2.5 inch USB 3.0/2.0 Rugged Armor A80 Military Grade Portable External Hard Drive - Blue
Silicon Power 1TB 2.5 inch USB 3.0/2.0 Rugged Armor A80 Military Grade Portable External Hard Drive - Blue
Price: £61.87

5.0 out of 5 stars Fast transfer rates and silent & cool, 20 May 2015
With a sturdy aluminium case with a metallic blue finish, this is a stylish looking drive from Silicon Power. It draws its power via the USB-USB (i.e. not USB-Micro USB) therefore there's no need for an extra power lead. Two thick, high quality USB cables are included - a very short one (ideal for use with a laptop) that can be stored in an ingress built into the side of the drive and another that's 30" long

The link to the 3 year warranty is on the drive and there's also a link to some rudimentary back up software should you need it. It comes formatted to FAT32 but before using it I reformatted it to NTFS (a quick 10 second Windows process).

Copying 300GB of data to it took around 95 minutes with a very impressive average transfer rate of 60MB/s. I use a USB 3.0 ExpressCard adapter so you should get even faster speeds with dedicated USB 3.0 ports. It's backwards compatible with USB 2.0 with average write speeds of 22MB/s.

I've had this drive connected to my router for the past three months and have it mapped onto a Windows Vista PC and a Windows 7 laptop. I also use it with my iPad for streaming music (using the useful free iOS app 'FileExplorer'). It copes with ease when being used on multiple devices, is silent in operation and always remains cool. I've literally forgotten about and just expect it to work effortlessly, which it does.

In summary, this is a high quality 1TB portable hard drive that's well worth the money and I definitely recommend it. I received this for free from the manufacturer in return for this honest review. Finally, if you want a truly portable 1TB USB 3.0 drive that I think can withstand knocks and bumps better than this one, I recommend the Silicon Power Rugged Armor A30 - it's slightly smaller than this model and feels like it's bullet proof.

Seagate Personal Cloud 4TB 2-bay (2x 2TB) Home Media Storage - NAS
Seagate Personal Cloud 4TB 2-bay (2x 2TB) Home Media Storage - NAS
Price: £219.84

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Potential but let down by very poor app, 16 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There's no manual with this NAS, just a quick set up guide. See comment below for a link to the pdf user manual.

Setup via my PC running Windows 7 was straightforward. Plug it in to your router, wait about 5-10 minutes and it will show up in Windows Computer:


Click on the 'Personal Cloud' Internet shortcut in the Public folder and this will open up the control panel in your browser.

I've got the 2 bay storage and it's defaulted to RAID (all your files are stored on one disk and automatically mirrored (backed up) on the second disk) but you can change it maximum capacity if you want to use both drives independently. Once you've selected which option you want, you can then setup your owner account and add accounts for other users.

All files you store in the aforementioned 'Public folder' can be accessed remotely by account holders and it also creates a Personal folder for account holders to store their private data that only they can access. Accessing the Public folder and Private folders on a PC is flawless and straightforward and you can play your music files (in the correct order) and videos in your media player of choice (I use MediaMonkey and VLC respectively). To access your files on a mobile device you need to install the SeagateMedia app. I've installed it on my iPad and Android phone and it's a flawed app because you can only access the Public folder, not your Personal folder.

Furthermore (and this is a shocker given that it's a media app) it does not playback tracks from ripped CDs in the correct order! You can sort tracks alphabetically, by date and size or type but even if you have the track number in file name and ID3 tag it does not have the option to play album tracks numerically and therefore in the correct order. It ludicrous and here's what Seagate posted about this issue on 15 May 2015:

"There will be an update to the Seagate Media App soon that will address this issue. We do not have an estimated date of release as of right now, but it will be released soon and then you will have the ability to sort by track instead of alphabetically".

In the meantime, I'm using the free version of the FileExplorer app on my iPad which plays back albums with the songs in their correct order

The app interface looks and feels clumsy and when using an iPad the app defaults to a landscape screen even if you have your screen locked to portrait mode. Very annoying.

Using the app with Google Chromecast is a breeze. Click on the Chromecast icon in the app and it casts to your TV. I've uploaded my ripped DVDs to the Public folder and it's great to be able view them on my TV. If you cast when playing music it displays the album art (provided you have it embedded in the MP3 file) and you can set up slideshows for photos.

You can set it up to backup selected data to an external drive and upload files to Google Drive or Drop Box (but not the other way around). As I have it setup to RAID I won't be backing up to an external drive. Although I have no need for it, I tested Google Drive and successfully backed up the selected files to my account.

There about 400MB of pre-installed data on it - mostly nature films and photos and some classic music MP3s. Why?!

Overall this is an OK home server but there are a number of flaws, primarily with the SeagateMedia app. The inability to play album tracks in the correct sequence in a media player app is the main offender. Until that issue is sorted along with inability to access to your Personal folder in the app, I rate this 3 stars. Finally, pay attention to the manual if you're inexperienced when it comes to home media storage and you want to use it to its full potential.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 16, 2015 3:30 PM BST

Blaxploitation: Six Classic Funk Soundtracks
Blaxploitation: Six Classic Funk Soundtracks
Price: £20.53

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Six Cool Blaxploitation Soundtracks, 14 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Comprising of six Blaxploitation soundtracks, this box set features 75 tracks with an overall playing time of just over 4 hours. The soundtracks featured are:

Up Tight (1969) - Booker T. & the M.G.'s (36:02)
Shaft (1971) - Isaac Hayes (69:33)
Trouble Man (1972) - Marvin Gaye (38:26)
Black Caesar (1973) - James Brown (36:42)
Coffy (1973) - Roy Ayers (36:49)
Shaft in Africa (1973) - Johnny Pate featuring The Four Tops (26:42)

Whilst some of the films associated with these soundtracks are long forgotten, the music continues to endure. Marvin Gaye's 'Trouble Man' is without doubt one of the best soundtracks of the genre and it features some killer moody jazz cuts and some of the best music Gaye ever recorded. 'Black Caesar' remains one of James Brown's finest studio albums with plenty of (unexpected!) funky grooves and he delivers some his most impassioned vocals on the album opener 'Down and Out in New York City' and 'Mama's Dead'.

The Four Tops lend support on Johnny Pate's 'Shaft in Africa' with the twice reprised 'Are You Man Enough?' and Roy Ayers' 'Coffy' soundtrack features a selection of vocal and instrumental cuts. It's all funky and soulful sounding. 'Shaft' is the best known album here and the title track is probably the most famous Blaxploitation song. It's the longest playing album here and it does occasionally meander. Booker T. & The M.G.'s 'Up Tight' is the least Blaxploitation sounding album here but it's a solid collection of slow-tempo burners and up-beat jams.

The CDs are in individual (near) replica gatefold mini LP sleeves and they're housed in a sturdy cardboard box. Spectrum have used the best masters currently available and the sound quality is perfect. Apart from CD track lists, there are no sleeves notes. Overall this is a cool box set and it makes a change from the myriad of cherry picking Blaxploitation compilations out there.

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