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Philips Style Xpert BT5260/33 Precision Beard Trimmer
Philips Style Xpert BT5260/33 Precision Beard Trimmer
Price: £59.90

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent trimmer with a very impressive battery life, 18 Sep 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a well made and ergononically sound trimmer. It has 17 settings and it's a doddle to switch between them using the rotating adjuster on the handle (although it looks like a digital display, it's not). I use it without any of the attachments and it leaves me with about 2-3 days worth of stubble. I have quite an aggressive stubble but this cuts through 2-3 weeks' worth of growth with ease and gives an even shave. The head is rotatable and when rotated there's a smaller head for refined trimming purposes. It takes about 90 minutes to charge from empty and the battery life is extremely impressive and lasts long enough for six complete trims.

For the past 18 months I've been using a BaByliss trimmer that cost £25 and it cuts no better or worse than this one. However, the BaByliss trimmer needs recharging after each trim and the build quality is inferior to this - I'm quite confident that this trimmer can withstand plenty more wear and tear.

In short, there are cheaper alternatives but if you value an effortless cut, a very long lasting battery and a superior build quality, then this is the beard trimmer to get.

Elvis At Stax (Deluxe Edition)
Elvis At Stax (Deluxe Edition)
Price: £20.41

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime Elvis at Stax recordings, 19 Aug 2013
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This is a superb collection of music that Elvis recorded during two sessions at Stax Studios in July and December 1973. It's a delicious melting pot of soulful country, R'n'B, ballads and pop. Elvis is (unsurprisingly) in fine voice and he highlights that nobody before or since sings a ballad quite like him. He's backed by some of the best musicians in the business and during the outtakes you get a sense of just how much fun Elvis had recording these tracks. The sound quality is crystal clear and it's just an out and out joy to listen to.

***If you buy the single CD edition of this album DIRECT from Amazon, in addition to the CD you get all the 55 tracks that comprise the Deluxe Edition immediately auto-ripped to your Amazon Cloud Player that you can then listen to or download at no extra cost!***
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 10, 2014 10:11 AM BST

Looking Good - 75 Femme Mod Soul Nuggets
Looking Good - 75 Femme Mod Soul Nuggets
Price: £19.91

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent collection of Sixties Femme soul and pop, 17 Aug 2013
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Spread across three CDs, this box set consists of 3 hours and 5 minutes of mid-sixties solo female and girl group sounds. The "Mod" in the title is largely irrelevant and I'm not sure why Millie Small of 'My Boy Lollipop' fame features on the cover - as cute as she looks, she does not feature and her style of music is inconsistent with the music here. Nonetheless, these are minor issues and the 75 songs that cover a range of styles from soul and groovy hipshakers to doo-wop and Northern Soul to straight-up pop and are almost exclusively about broken hearts, unrequited love and longed-for romances, are what matters.

Unsurprisingly the overall sound of a lot of of the songs mimics that of Motown and Phil Spector's of the same era and some of the songs are making their first apperance on CD. As expected with these sorts of collections, there are fillers but they're outnumbered by some top drawer gems with The Yum Yums addictive Northern Soul classic ''Gonna Be A Big Thing' being the best song here.

The CDs are housed in individual cardboard sleeves and these in turn are housed in a sturdy flip-top carboard box alongside an extensive booklet that features notes on all of the artists and songs. Featuring plenty of rarities and a couple of previously unreleased songs, this is a worthwhile and welcome collection. 3½ stars.

Black Emanuelle Collection
Black Emanuelle Collection
Price: £119.51

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nico Fidenco: Emanuelle Nera Collection, 10 Aug 2013
This box set gathers together six soundtracks recorded by Italian composer Nico Fidenco for the 'Black Emanuelle' Italian sexploitation films of the 1970s.

Disc 1: Black Emanuelle (75:18)
Disc 2: Emanuelle in America (66:12)
Disc 3: Black Emanuelle Goes East (49:43)
Disc 4: Emanuelle Around the World (76:54)
Disc 5: Emanuelle E Gli Ultimi Cannibali (59:46)
Disc 6: La Via Della Prostituzione (58:40)

Taking the name Emanuelle (note the spelling only has one 'm' to avoid any legal disputes) to cash in on the success of the Sylvia Kristel fronted Emmanuelle films, the Black Emanuelle (Italian: Emanuelle Nera) series starred the exotic and beautiful Laura Gemser.

All of these CDs were individually released in numbered limited editions of 1,000 by Italy's Beat Records in 2010 and they are joined here by a DVD with the title 'Music For The Black Queen'. All six CDs and the DVD are housed in individual digipak cases and the CD cases have fold out liner notes in Italian and English that feature photographs of archive stills and promotional posters. All are individually sticker numbered and are housed together in a basic cardboard slipcase. Of the 159 tracks, there's an overload of previously unreleased extra passages, cues and alternate versions. The combined playing time is 6 hours and 27 minutes.

Anyone familiar with Italian soundtrack music of the Seventies will have an idea of what to expect. Featuring elements of easy listening and Bossa Nova, orchestral passages, wordless vocals, occasional suspense and psychedelic vibes, it also features proto-disco and plenty of indigenous instrumentation, particularly the percussion, of the various countries featured in the films. Some of it does sound dated, but overall it's quality music

The (low budget) DVD has four featurettes consisting of interviews with director Joe D'Amato, Laura Gemser, Nico Fidenco and Fidenco's musical arranger, Giacomo Dell'Orso. The interview with Laura Gesmer is a sound only recording but is accompanied by lots of archive footage and photos of Gesmer. Fidenco and Dell'Orso both go into detail of how they went about recording the music. The DVD has just about adequate English subtitles and clocks in at 93 minutes.

This box set is a welcome release from Beat Records. It's not cheap (I bought my copy from Movie Grooves for £79.99), but it should appreciate in value given that it's a limited edition release. If you already own the individual CDs, the DVD can be bought direct from the Beat Records website and it comes with the outer cardboard slipcase to house the collection.

Bose ® SoundLink ® Mini Bluetooth Speaker
Bose ® SoundLink ® Mini Bluetooth Speaker
Price: £169.95

16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Takes portable Bluetooth speakers to the next level, 10 Aug 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a very stylish compact portable speaker that's heavier than it looks (in a reassuring kind of way). The control buttons are conveniently located on top of the speaker and it has a firm rubber base that keeps it stable. Connection via Bluetooth was very straightforward with my Android MP3 player, iPad and laptop and when switched on it starts playing the sound from my iPad within a second. The Bluetooth range is good around the house and it reaches upstairs. It can be connected using a 3.5mm cable (not included) to non-Bluetooth enabled devices. It takes 2 hours to charge from empty, can be used when it's charging and I've been getting an average playback time of 6½ hours.

The quality of sound delivered by this speaker takes it to an altogether different level - it has to be heard to be believed. The depth of the bass is extraordinary and it sounds so natural and unforced and the overall sound is so clear and precise. The volume goes VERY loud and it fills every corner of the room and despite it being a single speaker, you get a sound similar to that of two stereo speakers spaced apart. It only starts to distort when turned up to the absolute max on both the speaker and my iPad. It's seriously impressive, exceeds all expectations for such a small speaker and it more than justifies its price tag.

On the downside, it does not sit perfectly on the charging cradle and no matter how carefully I place it, it wobbles ever so slightly. But the cradle serves no real purpose - you can plug the charging cable straight into the speaker and I think Bose should have bundled this with a protective cover (that they're currently selling for over £20) instead. Additionally, it would have been handy if it was charged via a mini-USB socket instead of a 3-point plug cable, thereby allowing it to be charged using a car lighter USB charger when on the move. It does have a mini-USB port but it's for firmware updates only (none are available at the time of writing).

Notwithstanding the couple of relatively minor issues, if you're in the market for a Bluetooth speaker within the price range of this one, look no further because nothing currently matches it for the most important consideration when buying a speaker - the quality of sound. It really is in a league of its own.

Quality of sound 5+ stars; overall 4½ stars.

Don & Stevie
Don & Stevie
Price: £12.87

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Previously unreleased 60's acid folk and acoustic pop sees the light of day, 25 July 2013
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This review is from: Don & Stevie (Audio CD)
Clocking in at a brief 31 minutes, this compilaion gathers together 11 songs recorded by husband and wife duo Don & Stevie Gere in the shadow of the Hollywood Hills in the late Sixties. Recorded and pressed on acetate at walk in studios in LA, they've lain unreleased and unplayed in the Gere household for over 40 years and they're now finally seeing the light of day thanks to Finders Keepers Records.

A blend of acid folk and acoustic pop, there is a certain charm and innocence to much of the music and they were clearly head over heels in love with each other. Don Gere takes care of the most of the lead vocals with Stevie adding her high pitched vocals when required. A couple of the tracks rock out - there's some cool fuzz guitar on 'Keep An Eye On You' - but it mostly an acoustic affair that brings to mind Pentangle, Donavan and even Love at times.

Given that these recordings were made with limited resources on an equally limited budget, the songs do, unsurprisingly, sound like demos but I suppose it adds to the overall charm. As good as this is, I wouldn't consider it to be a lost "classic" but if you have an interest in Sixties folk, it's certainly worthy of further investigation.

The Complete Lhi Recordings
The Complete Lhi Recordings
Price: £7.49

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Harmony-drenched Sunshine Pop, 20 July 2013
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Originally from Detroit and going under the name of Mama Cats, the members of this four-piece female vocal group travelled to LA in 1968, signed with Lee Hazelwood Industries and were renamed Honey Ltd. Commercially the group failed and this collection gathers together everything they recorded during their brief lifespan - the eight songs that comprised their eponymous album, a couple of b-sides and three previously unreleased songs - and it's some of the finest Sunshine Pop ever recorded.

Featuring gorgeous female vocals, the music is a blend of pop-soul-psych-baroque and many of the musical and vocal arrangements are complex and there's plenty of brass and orchestrations in addition to the drums, bass and guitar (courtesy of the legendary Wrecking Crew session musicians). However, the highlight of Honey Ltd's sound is their spectacular sun-kissed vocal harmonies that elevate this music to another level.

The songs are predominately originals and there's a reworking of 'Louie, Louie' and also a cover of Laura Nyro's 'Eli's Coming'. Album opener 'The Warrior' is an anti-Vietnam war song with caustic "We must kill more people; strong men are what we need" lyrics. Overall the sound is mostly upbeat with songs about love lost and won with some mellow moments and there's not a single bad song to be found here.

Following the departure of one of the members, the remaining trio released an album under the name of 'Eve' on the LHI label in 1970 and again it was a failure. Reduced to a footnote in pop history, this fine compilation should go some way to re-addressing the balance and will hopefully introduce the music of Honey Ltd to a new audience. 4½ stars and recommended.

Sony SRSBTX300 Portable Wireless Speaker - White
Sony SRSBTX300 Portable Wireless Speaker - White
Offered by Superbargainuk
Price: £110.00

37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars With MASSIVE sound capability, this looks and sounds the part, 18 July 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Weighing just over 1½ Kg and with dimensions of Length: 34cm; Height: 11cm; Depth: 6cm this is, size wise, at the upper-end of the portable Bluetooth speaker range. It's smart and stylish with a high end finish and it looks the part. It's not free standing - a kick stand that covers some of the controls has to be opened to support it and it has to remain open for it to work. The Bluetooth paired seamlessly with my iPad, the range is good within the house and my iPad now recognises the speaker every time I switch it on. The volume and speaker phone buttons are conventionally situated on top of the speaker.

Powered by 2 channel speakers with a combined output of 20W, the sound delivered is MASSIVE. The volume goes up, up & up and the quality of the sound is excellent. It's rich and detailed and, most importantly (and where some Bluetooth speakers fall down), the bass is near perfect - it doesn't get lost in the mix and it doesn't have an unnatural forced sound either. There are three sound modes - Standard, Megabass and Megabass & Surround. I have it defaulted to Megabass & Surround but if the truth be told, there's no real noticeable difference between the three. Nonetheless, as the product information states, the sound really does fill every corner of the room.

Portability wise, this is perfect for the home and garden. However, given its size and weight, high end finish and the fact that you have to open the kick stand to use it, this is not the sort of speaker you'd want to take camping or down to the beach. Also, the battery life is limited compared to some of the competition - I've been getting between 7 and 7½ hours of playback. If you're after a truly portable speaker, then I'd recommend the Braven 650. Although it doesn't go as loud as this, the quality of the sound is just as good, it's much more compact and lighter, will not mark or scratch as easily, delivers approximately 16 hours of playback and you can switch between tracks (a function that this speaker doesn't have). It is, at the time of writing, in the same price range. But, if you're just after a speaker for the home then this speaker is the better option.

A full charge takes about three hours and you can use it whilst its charging. There's no indication that the battery is running low - it just powers off. It also has some added features - you can charge a mobile device from it, it doubles as a speaker phone and it is Near Field Communication (NFC) compatible. Download an NFC app for Android devices and by touching the speaker with your device it connects the two. However, it will work with any Bluetooth enabled device - NFC is an optional extra function. It also comes with a handy carry case.

In summary, if you're after a portable or dedicated speaker for the home or workplace, this is the one to get. Sound wise it's astonishing and it's the next best thing to a stereo system setup and for the price it represents EXCELLENT value for money. However, if you're after a truly portable speaker for outside of the home then consider the Braven 650 instead.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 30, 2013 10:41 AM BST

Everything's Gonna Be Alright: The American Singles 1967-1976
Everything's Gonna Be Alright: The American Singles 1967-1976
Price: £7.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A & B Sides 1967-76, 13 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Following his much publicised artistic renaissance over the past few years, this is a welcome Bobby Womack compilation. Featuring every A & B side that he released on the Minit, Liberty & United Artists labels in America between 1967 and 1976, the quality of the music across the 50 tracks is at times outstanding. Presented in chronological order with each A-side followed by the B-side, it's a selection of original compositions, covers and a few live recordings and Womack retains his own unique sound throughout. A talented guitarist and vocalist he is, despite the covers versions, also a very talented songwriter.

Highlights include much of his early work where the sound is predominately of the Southern Soul variety and showcases his guitar playing skills. His interpretations of 'Californian Dreamin'' and 'I Left My Heart In San Francisco' are superb with the former being stripped back in comparison to the original but still very funky. 'Across 110th Street' is a master class in song writing and with Womack's rich vocals it is the defining sound of Blaxploitation. Things get seriously smooth at times on the second disc and you do wonder how '(If You Don't Want My Love) Give It Back' was deemed only worthy of being a B-side. Given that this collection includes flip sides there are naturally a few fillers but, on the whole, the standard rarely falters.

Whether you're a newcomer to Womack's music or a long standing fan, there's something to enjoy for everyone on this collection. Clocking in at a generous 2 hours and 35 minutes, the two discs are housed inside a book style digipak with well written liner notes that feature brief individual notes on most of the 50 songs.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 19, 2013 12:26 PM BST

Price: £13.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Heavy Psych Classic, 11 July 2013
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This review is from: Morgen (Audio CD)
There have been a few unauthorised / bootleg CD releases of this 1969 album (I also own the World Psychedelia 2005 release) over the past few years but this reissue from Sunbeam Records has had the full involvement of the band's leader - Steve Morgen - and it's a legitimate release.

This album is a true HEAVY psych classic and Morgen's one and only album. Due to contractual issues it was released some 12 months after it was recorded and by then the band were drifting apart and it ultimately never received the success it deserved. Songwriter Steve Morgen's guitar playing is extraordinary and along with the heavy and sometimes almost tribal percussion and thundering bass, the musicianship is astonishing, as is the quality of the songwriting. With plenty of reverb, fuzz guitar and trippy vibes (check out the cool spaced-out female vocals on Of Dreams), this is essential listening for anyone with an interest in Sixties psychedelia and hot-wired garage.

On the downside, it's in desperate need of a decent remix. Steve Morgan takes care of most of the vocals and he is not the strongest of singers and on some of the tracks his vocals are too high in the mix and in places they almost overwhelm the music. A decent mix and a re-master from the master tapes would make this album five star worthy. Most new mixes and remasters are overrated but in the case of this album it would be a worthwhile exercise. The lasting impression is that if Steve Morgen's vocal talent had matched that of his guitar playing and the album had been mixed better (and released on time), it would be regarded as one the classic albums of the sixties. It is in a way, but you do wonder what could have been.

Alongside the original album, this reissue includes eight bonus tracks - the edited versions of 'Of Dreams' and 'She's The Nitetime' that comprised the A & B sides respectively of their sole 7" release and some home recordings by Steve Morgen from the early Seventies. The home recordings have a Stones' vibe to them and although competent, they're not particularly noteworthy. The sleeve notes consist of an extensive Q&A with Steve Morgen and some archive press cuttings and photos. The track list:

Original Album (38:49):

1. Welcome To The Void
2. Of Dreams
3. Begging Your Pardon (Miss Joan)
4. Eternity In Between
5. Purple
6. She's The Nitetime
7. Love

Bonus Tracks (34:17):

8. Of Dreams (45 Version)
9. She's The Nitetime (45 Version)
10. Street Walker
11. Lady
12. Too Many Americas
13. Don't You Tell Me
14. Maryjane
15. Alpha Omega

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