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Alpha Mike Foxtrot: Rare Tracks 1994 - 2014
Alpha Mike Foxtrot: Rare Tracks 1994 - 2014
Price: £24.99

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wilco Loves You!, 4 Dec. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Although a popular band with a loyal fan base, Jeff Tweedy's Wilco have never really scaled the commercial heights that their music deserves. They've been one of my favourite bands since I first heard their second album 'Being There' in 1996 and this has been my most eagerly anticipated release of the year. Consisting of contributions to soundtracks and tribute albums, live songs, demos and alternate versions, all of the songs have been released in various guises (iTunes exclusives, soundtrack albums, bonus CDs, Wilco.net downloads, etc.) at some stage or other but most are, as the title implies, Rare Tracks.

The box set itself is beautiful. The outer slipcase is not much bigger than a DVD case and inside, side-by-side, are a 66 page colour booklet and a three-gatefold cardboard case that holds the four CDs. Simple, sturdy and effective, it doesn't suffer from over-engineering or flimsy design like so many box sets do nowadays. The booklet features loads of archive photos, anecdotes, some well written essays, recording and release details for all of the tracks and Jeff Tweedy gives his thoughts on many of the songs.

Chronologically ordered, the 77 songs clock in at 4 hours and 40 minutes and there's much to enjoy. The live version of 'Impossible Germany' is mind blowing with the Television style duelling guitars and Nels Cline's staggering extended guitar solo, it's better then the studio version. Most of the covers (Big Star, Steely Dan, Buffalo Springfield, etc.) remain faithful to the originals and their guitar heavy cover of the Gram Parsons written 'One Hundred Years from Now' is the best recording of the song I've heard. Full marks to Tweedy for his falsetto on the third verse of 'I Shall Be Released' (funny but cool!) and the memory of the late multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett lives on with many of his co-writes and playing featuring on Discs 2 & 3. The alternative versions though interesting are never better than the originals but what this collection does highlight, much like the 'Kicking in Television' live album, is what a well drilled and impressive live act Wilco are.

In summary, this is a box set befitting of one of the best and most consistent bands of the past 20 years. With a 2CD Best of also released on the same day, Tweedy's father/son album from a couple of months ago and no new Wilco album for over three years, it'll be interesting to see and hear what they do next. Hopefully they won't leave it too much longer...
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 31, 2014 10:50 AM GMT


Pinzon Egyptian Cotton Sateen, Taupe, King Fitted Sheet
Pinzon Egyptian Cotton Sateen, Taupe, King Fitted Sheet

5.0 out of 5 stars Quality fitted sheet, 4 Dec. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a really good fitted sheet that stays in place on our king-size mattress with no problems whatsoever. It's comfortable too and a nice tight fit but not so tight that the cotton stretches. Its colour is more greyish than the photographs here suggest.


The Spacey Bruce Lacey: Film Music And Improvisations- Volume 1 and 2
The Spacey Bruce Lacey: Film Music And Improvisations- Volume 1 and 2
Price: £11.76

3.0 out of 5 stars Spacey experimentation and improvisation, 1 Dec. 2014
Bruce Lacey is a man of many talents. Painter, actor, film maker, spiritualist, improvisation / performance artist, eccentric, musician - these are just a few of the talents he's known for (perhaps, even, unknown for). This compilation from Trunk could not have been released by any other label - it's almost as if Lacey saw into the future when he recorded this music and imagined it being released by Trunk years later.

Made using cheap home built synthesisers to accompany Lacey's films, art installations and performances, etc, a lot of the sounds heard are improvised and Spacey uses everything from bottle blowing to typewriter keys (and possibly even the kitchen sink) alongside his modified synths to create these sounds. There's very little in the way of melodies, just lots of weird and sometimes wonderful strange abstract sounds that are, at times, reminiscent of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Lacey experiments with voice synthesisation to good effect and some of the later drone tracks have a real ambient vibe to them and wouldn't have sounded out of place on last year's I Am The Center: Private Issue New Age In America compilation.

If you're a Trunk aficionado then you'll know what to expect and to be honest, this is not a record that'll be on heavy rotation. It's just something I'll put on when I'm in the mood to listen to something a bit "out there" or if I want to annoy my girlfriend. With an introduction by Jonny Trunk in the sleeve notes and a superb essay by William Fowler, the Curator of Artists' Moving Image at the BFI National Archive, this is another welcome release by Trunk. 3½ stars.


[PC Advisor Recommended] iClever® Bluetooth Speaker IC-BTS02 Enhanced Bass + Rechargeable Wireless Portable Bluetooth 4.0 Speaker with Super-Sized 5W Driver, Built-in Microphone, Powerful Sound for MP3 Players, Smart Phones, Pads, Laptops & Other Devices -[Zinc Alloy Shell]
[PC Advisor Recommended] iClever® Bluetooth Speaker IC-BTS02 Enhanced Bass + Rechargeable Wireless Portable Bluetooth 4.0 Speaker with Super-Sized 5W Driver, Built-in Microphone, Powerful Sound for MP3 Players, Smart Phones, Pads, Laptops & Other Devices -[Zinc Alloy Shell]
Offered by Elecsmart
Price: £21.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing sound & battery life with a classy design and extra features, 30 Nov. 2014
Weighing 260g and small enough to sit in the palm of my hand this is an extraordinarily small and VERY portable Bluetooth speaker that has features you don't expect at this price. The sound created is amazing for such a tiny speaker and the overall sound is well-balanced, clear with very good bass. With the volume on your device and the speaker at full volume, it goes very loud. It's not quite going to fill the room at a party and you don't get the depth of sound delivered by a twin drive speaker but for use around the home, it's perfect.

The build, design and and charcoal alloy finish and blue trim finish are exceptional. With the speaker on the top and the controls on the bottom and Bluetooth light on the front, it looks and feels classy.

It seamlessly paired with my iPad, Android phone and Windows 7 laptop and has connected first time, every time thereafter. If your device isn't Bluetooth compatible, you can connect it using the included 3.5mm audio cable. It's charged using a USB cable, also included.

The range of the Bluetooth is superb, way better than any Bluetooth speaker I've used before - it just refuses to drop out! The size makes it perfect for carrying around the house and this is where the extra features come in useful. It has three control buttons on the underside where you can adjust the volume Up and Down, skip backwards and forwards between tracks (even when streaming music via Amazon Cloud Player and Google Play Music), pause the music and, should you need it, there's a button on the front that allows you to use it as a speaker phone too.

The advertised battery life of 8-12 hours is accurate. With the volume set at medium on both my iPad and the speaker, I've had 11 hours of playback before it's dropped out.

In summary, this speaker is a bargain for the price it's going for at the time of writing. When taking the three main considerations when buying a Bluetooth speaker into account - cost, sound and Bluetooth range - it succeeds on every level. I was given this speaker by the manufacturer in return for a review but I honestly cannot find fault with it. Finally, it'll make an ideal gift - the high end design and build quality make it look much more expensive than it actually is.


Kingston Technology 16 GB microSDHC Class 10 Flash Card with SD card adapter
Kingston Technology 16 GB microSDHC Class 10 Flash Card with SD card adapter
Price: £4.74

5.0 out of 5 stars Very cheap storage, 27 Nov. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
With enough space to store approximately 100 CDs ripped to MP3 at 320kbps, the 16GB MicroSD is an absolute bargain. I bought two - one for my Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 and another for my Sandisk Sansa Clip MP3 player - and they both work perfectly. You get an adapter too.


Hi Records: The Soul Years
Hi Records: The Soul Years
Price: £8.34

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Memphis Soul goodness, 27 Nov. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a very welcome two disc budget release featuring 48 tracks recorded for Memphis' legendary Hi Records between 1965 and 1979. All of the big name are here - Al Green, Ann Peebles, Syl Johnson, Otis Clay, O.V. Wright and the man behind it all, label owner Willie Mitchell. CD 1 (79: 07) covers the period 1965-1974 with CD 2 (79:39) taking in the years 1974-1979. With a set-up similar to Motown - its own recording studio, in house band and staff songwriters with Mitchell presiding over it all Berry Gordy style - the music is 100% Memphis Soul.

Not dissimilar to Southern Soul but definitely more subtle, there are loads of blasting horns, funky percussion, superb backing vocals (sung almost exclusively by two white female country singers!) and plenty of quieter, more intimate moments. Quality songs, superb musicianship and some of the best soul voices of the era, I can't find anything to dislike about this compilation. The sound quality is great too - no suspect remastering. With well written liner notes and archive photos in the booklet, a playing time of 2 hours and 40 minutes and Amazon AutoRip too, this is essential listening for all soul fans.


Silicon Power 2.5 inch 1TB USB 3.0 SP Rugged Armor A30 Shockproof External Portable Hard Drive - Black
Silicon Power 2.5 inch 1TB USB 3.0 SP Rugged Armor A30 Shockproof External Portable Hard Drive - Black
Price: £59.02

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb drive with fast transfer rates and all the physical protection you'll need, 22 Nov. 2014
Despite the military-grade shockproof protection, this is a slim drive that's roughly the same size as any other 2.5" portable hard drive. After unboxing it I dropped it from above head height onto my lino covered wooden kitchen floor and it survived intact without any damage or marks left on the case and it worked when I connected to my laptop.

It draws its power via the included USB-USB (i.e. not USB-Micro USB) cable, therefore there's no need for an extra power lead. My Windows 7 laptop recognised it immediately and automatically installed a couple of drivers. It comes formatted to FAT32 but before using it I reformatted it to NTFS (a quick 10 second Windows process).

Copying 285GB of data to it took around 90 minutes with a very impressive average transfer rate of 61MB/s. I use a USB 3.0 ExpressCard adapter so you should get even faster speeds with built-in USB 3.0. It's backwards compatible with USB 2.0.

It looks modern and stylish (the high quality photos here don't really do it justice), with a black case made of very hard, reinforced plastic and six orange silicone shock absorbers. The shock absorbers - and I really do like this - double as the USB cable holder when it's in transit. It's silent in operation.

In summary, this is a high quality 1TB portable hard drive and its's now replaced my Seagate portable drive. With impressive transfer speeds and the peace of mind the shockproof protection offers, it's well worth the money and I definitely recommend it. It has a 3 year warranty. I received this for free from the manufacturer in return for this honest review.


The Silver Globe
The Silver Globe
Price: £7.99

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Weaving magic, 20 Nov. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Silver Globe (Audio CD)
With her last two albums Jane Weaver upped the ante but with this album she takes it to another level altogether. With David Holmes and Andy Votel helping out on production duties, this is a giant leap forward by Weaver. Cosmic, ethereal and motorik with cool electronic vibes it is at times drop dead gorgeous. Imagine Seventies electro Krautrockers mixing it in the studio with Sixties folkies with Portishead circa their 'Third' album at the controls overseeing it all - it's like an album of old songs given a contemporary 21st century makeover. The standard of the song writing is astonishing at times as is the musicianship (Weaver is credited in the sleevenotes with having played 10 different instruments), arrangements and Weaver's vocals. There's a real commercial sound to a few of the songs but the overall vibe and quality is never compromised. This is a beautiful album and it's currently in a dead heat with The Soundcarriers for my album of the year.


Vax U88-AM-Te Air Total Home Upright Vacuum
Vax U88-AM-Te Air Total Home Upright Vacuum
Price: £119.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Great suction and reach but difficult to manoeuvre, 19 Nov. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a good looking vacuum cleaner and despite its slender body, the bin is large. The suction is excellent and it easily matches my Dyson and it is surprisingly quiet. It comes with a whole host of useful attachments but unfortunately you can't store them all on the machine.

It's not perfect though. It's nowhere near as light as Vax claim it to be and I'd go as far to suggest the promotional image of a woman holding it with one finger is misleading. It's a beast to manoeuvre too. I'm no weakling but it takes considerable effort to move around and really puts your arm muscles to the test. Obviously you expect resistance due to the suction but it's just too excessive.

The reach is excellent. Using the extendable hose, handle and wand together I just about managed (on tip toes) to hoover up the cobwebs that had gathered at the top of the wall and ceiling above the stairs.

Top marks for suction and reach but I can't recommend this Vax because it's just too difficult to manoeuvre around.


TTfone Mercury 2 Big Button Basic Senior Unlocked Sim Free Mobile Phone with Dock - Black
TTfone Mercury 2 Big Button Basic Senior Unlocked Sim Free Mobile Phone with Dock - Black
Price: £27.95

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but flawed senior PAYG, 18 Nov. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this PAYG phone for my Dad who was struggling with a hand me down flip open Nokia phone with small buttons. It's not too big and it's lightweight, slim and works with his existing Orange PAYG SIM card. The screen is big and the backlit buttons are easy to see and press and you can set it up so that when typing in numbers a voice tells you which numbers you have pressed. The battery life is very good and it locks and the screen goes off after 30 seconds. You can add nine quick dial options that involve just pressing one pre-defined button for two seconds when making a call. There's a handy torch too (press the '0' button for 3 seconds to switch it on and likewise to switch if off).

It has extra features that I don't think most people using this phone will want or use (as my Dad said "I just want to make and receive calls"). You can add a MicroSD card and play MP3s or display photos on the screen. There's no headphone input and the sound quality from the inbuilt speaker is, expectedly, somewhat very limited and the radio can't pick up any stations whatsoever despite living in a built up area.

Finding numbers stored on the SIM card is straightforward but it has one baffling flaw. When selecting a number to dial from your list of contacts, you press the green button and instead of calling the number it comes up with two options on the screen to either 1. Add new contact or 2. Call. You have to press the down arrow key to select the 'Call' option and then press the green button again... Why it gives you the option to add a new contact when you're attempting to call an existing one is a mystery.

Ultimately this is a good phone and it's about half the price of similar ones my dad was thinking of buying from one of those catalogues you get pushed through the letter box. Overall rating: 3½ stars
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 27, 2015 11:11 PM BST


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