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L. C. Warne "cwarne_uk"
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His Dark Materials Slipcase: "Northern Lights", "The Subtle Knife", "The Amber Spyglass"
His Dark Materials Slipcase: "Northern Lights", "The Subtle Knife", "The Amber Spyglass"
by Philip Pullman
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Starts Brilliantly Then Gradually Collapses, 3 Jun 2011
Northern Lights is one of the finest books of the last 20 years. Well-paced, intelligent and with a fine heroine in Lyra. Sadly as a trilogy it is all downhill from there. By the final volume it seems Pullman was more concerned with his message against organised religion than mere storytelling. It marks a massive failure of nerve on Pullman's part to not trust his storytelling to get the message across on it's own, I largely share his views on religion, but I would have vastly preferred Pullman to show rather than tell. The worst victim is the character of Lyra, initially a sparky, fascinating young girl, by the end she, like all the other characters, has become a dull cypher for Pullman's opinions. All in all after a brilliant start this ends up being hugely disappointing.


The Party's Over
The Party's Over
Offered by Side Two
Price: 15.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Faltering First Step From A Band destined For Greatness, 31 May 2011
This review is from: The Party's Over (Audio CD)
The Talk Talk story really should begin with the underrated It's My Life, a good to great album that preceded a run of three masterpieces. Sadly it doesn't and instead we have somehow to deal with The Party's Over. Taken on it's own merits this is an OK early 80's pop album, it's relative lack of success down simply to the fact that it wasn't good enough at the time. It's by no means an embarrassment but it contains no visible signs of the greatness Talk Talk would achieve.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 13, 2012 11:11 AM GMT


Casio AD-12EL MAINS ADAPTOR
Casio AD-12EL MAINS ADAPTOR

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Somehow this product negates the need for batteries!, 13 April 2011
Reviewing what is basically a plug is a bit odd but here goes. When I plugged the socket with 3 prongs into the wall and then plugged the other socket into my keyboard I found I could use the keyboard without batteries. I do not understand the science behind this but am mightily impressed.


Deeper Understanding
Deeper Understanding
Price: 0.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 13 April 2011
Real grade - 7/10
As Kate Bush fans have never really heard her re-interpret any of her songs (pensioners may recall a tour where a band basically reproduced the records) hearing what she does to an old song was always likely to be an odd experience. DU 2011 is certainly that. Mostly gone are the Trio Bulgarka, and not before time to this listener. Also gone is the horrible drum sound that the original had. Not all the new additions work though. Vocoders and autotune may be in, but they should not be allowed within a mile of a Kate Bush record. The new lead vocal is the main attraction for me, Bush actually sounds quite ragged, and to this long time listener to Bob Dylan and Tom Waits that is a good thing. The long fade out with it's electronic trickery and harmonica has also won me over. A startlingly un-commercial single, this is no masterpiece, it is though an odd and at times wonderful song. If the forthcoming album is as headscratching as this it may take years to actually assess!


The King of Limbs
The King of Limbs
Price: 11.97

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One Half Poor. One Half Very Good To Great, 31 Mar 2011
This review is from: The King of Limbs (Audio CD)
Destined to be remembered more for it's release strategy than for it's music The King Of Limbs is Radiohead's least notable album since their debut. An album of two distinct halves; the first four tracks are shockingly poor. Bloom, Little By Little and Feral no more than uninteresting sketches (take away Thom Yorke's vocals and these could be any average electronica artist). Morning Mr Magpie has been hanging around for ages and it's appearance here is a mystery, as it is Radiohead-by-numbers like a bad imitation. Things pick up hugely for the second half. Lotus Flower, similar to the first four tracks, manages to integrate the band sound and electronics in a way that none of them do. Along with the closing Seperator it shows their is still a way for Radiohead to make good music within the sound they now seem to be trapped in. The two standout tracks though are Codex and Give Up The Ghost, the latter a Bon Iver like number and the former a beautiful piano ballad with some of Thom's finest ever singing. These two tracks seem to sound less beholden to current trends, less like Radiohead are trying to impress us with what records they have been listening to, is it any surprise they tower over the rest of the album.
The King Of Limbs is no disaster, the best music here is probably as good as any we will here this year. At times though it's hard to escape the feeling that they have subsumed their identity in trying to sound innovative (they don't anymore and are now chasing the kids - an always risky and possibly embarrassing spectacle).


The Hissing Of Summer Lawns
The Hissing Of Summer Lawns
Price: 4.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Rave Review From A Non-Fan, 26 Feb 2011
For many reasons I do not really like much of Joni Mitchell's music prior to this album. Confessional singer-songwriters, where the lyrics are analysed in terms of who they refer to backed by folk-pop is just not my thing - I should add that if it is your thing I think that it is quite clear that Joni is as good as it gets. This review is really aimed at letting people who think the same, just how great this particular record is. The move from folk influences towards jazz started on Court And Spark is here complete. The music is similar in some respects to Weather Report, but to these ears considerably more interesting. To suit these changes the songs are more open ended than before, shifting and changing as they progress. Combined with Joni's rich voice this makes for some gorgeous, adventurous music. Many of the tracks are highlights - In France, Edith And The Kingpin, The Hissing Of Summer Lawns and The Boho Dance. The absolute standout for me is the simply beautiful Shades Of Scarlett. Also of note is The Jungle Line, which with it's ethnic drums sounds at least 5 years ahead of it's time. Mitchell would follow this up with the almost as good Hejira (worth 5 stars though) but this sounds like a masterpiece.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 23, 2012 8:52 PM BST


Tidal
Tidal
Price: 6.67

4.0 out of 5 stars A Promising Debut, 26 Feb 2011
This review is from: Tidal (Audio CD)
This is the first Fiona Apple album I have ever heard. Very successful in America but nowhere near as well known in the UK this was a totally chance purchase. In my mind she was vaguely linked to Tori Amos, Sarah MacLachlan and what could be called Lilith Fair music. In fact that is quite a bit off the mark as the closest comparisons that come to mind are late 70's Joni Mitchell and in particular Laura Nyro, who also released her debut at 19. With a smoky voice and Jazz and show tunes as obvious influences, this is refreshingly different to most 90's female singer-songwriters. The best known track Criminal is the strongest, but several others are close to it. Overall the songwriting is what lets this album down, as some tracks pass by pleasantly without making much impact. On the whole this is a very good debut of the sort that invites you to explore the artist further.


Let England Shake
Let England Shake
Price: 7.99

80 of 90 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Album For This Or Any Year, 14 Feb 2011
This review is from: Let England Shake (Audio CD)
I've had my doubts about some of PJ Harvey's work since Is This Desire, although I have never doubted she had lost any of her immense talent. As if to confirm this Let England Shake is quite simply a great album by any standards. Most of the attention from reviewers has so far centred on the lyrical content and indeed this is most impressive. The twin themes of her ambivalent relationship with England and the destructive cost of war run and intertwine throughout the album. Apparently PJ did a great deal of research before writing these songs; in the very best way this is something that does not show, these are not intellectual or preachy songs. Instead we have a highly individual and considered response to important issues. By looking outwards she has written some of the most resonant and moving lyrics of her career.
Of course for all that PJ is not a poet and without music to match this would not be a great album. The music is actually quite difficult to describe as it sounds unlike anything she has recorded before and yet entirely like her. Looser than usual, it is more melodious than she has allowed herself to be in the past, and at times with it's strummed autoharp and guitars it could almost be described as folk-rock (at times the feel of this record is also similar to The Velvet's third album as a guide). PJ's voice retains much of the higher range debuted on White Chalk but is richer than on that record. There are no weak tracks here but the standout for me is the central section of All & Everyone, Battleship Hill and England, it is quite simply as beautiful a run of three songs as I can remember. Also immediately impressive are the title track, The Words That Maketh Murder and the apocalyptic Written On The Forehead (appropriately featuring a sample from that most apocalyptic genres reggae - Niney The Observer's Blood And Fire).
Overall as I started off saying this is a great album, perhaps the most musically inviting and lyrically deepest of her career. Now a veteran, it may even be the best album of PJ's career. I am loath to use the word masterpiece of any new record, but I think that if you were to ask me in a year that is exactly how I would describe this.


Ades: Violin Concerto
Ades: Violin Concerto
Price: 3.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Modern But Approachable, 6 Feb 2011
Thomas Ades is of course the golden boy of contemporary British music. A position that has seemingly led to more and more sniping over the years. From those on the new music vanguard his music is easily criticised simply because it is actually listenable. To conservatives of course it will still sound horribly modern, like everything since Brahms. The Violin Concerto is as good a place to enter his world as any. In three movements, the first is the harshest, the second mostly lyrical and the finale quite boisterous. The mood varies but overall the piece is quite mysterious and the slow movement is at times rapturously beautiful. The one criticism I would level is that despite repeated listenings the ending still seems abrupt to me, as if Ades had suddenly noted he was running out of sheet music! The performances are top quality and the soloist Anthony Marwood is fully in control all the way through and quite radiant. Overall this is an excellent piece of modern music that does not have to be approached with fear.


Third / Sister Lovers
Third / Sister Lovers

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Odd, Depressing, Unique, Beautiful, 6 Feb 2011
This review is from: Third / Sister Lovers (Audio CD)
In 1974 Alex Chilton's head was not in a good place, as even the most superficial listen to Sister Lovers will show. Commercial failure on top of "personal problems" led Chilton to push away even further from the mainstream than Radio City had (for all it's supposed power pop influence Radio City was only pop in some alternate universe). As he was still the golden boy of that weird Memphis scene centred around Ardent Studio he had pretty well carte blanche to do what he wanted. Obviously what he wanted to do was to further sever his links to his hit-making past and make a record that sounded like little else before. Although such wacko's as Syd Barrett and Skip Spence are often brought up as comparisons, Chilton had little in common with them. Despite all the rumours about drink and drugs it is quite clear that Chilton was no madman here, for all it's oddness this record is the sound of a skilled musical brain aiming for something, even if at times it is not clear exactly what that is. In fact the most apt comparison is Lou Reed's Berlin, the sound of which is echoed throughout this record. Indeed the sound here is full of spaces, some of which may be intentional and some of which may be due to simply being unfinished. The lyrics, such as they can be interpreted, are fragmentary hints at a deep malaise. Most of the tracks here have something to recommend them. O Dana, Nightime and Kangaroo are baffling songs full of beauty; Take Care, Stroke It Noel and Blue Moon are twisted baroque pop that look back to The Left Banke. The highlight for me always used to be the crepuscular reading of Femme Fatale with lovely guitar from Steve Cropper, with it's eventual appearance on disc (it was not on either of the two vinyl versions I own) it's place has been taken by Dream Lover, a tired but infinitely wonderful, archetypally Memphis song mixing Chilton's Anglophile tendency with subdued soul. Not everything is great, most of the rockers are simply sloppy (and not in a good way) and the much praised Holocaust crosses the line from depressed insight into juvenile angst. Overall though this is a totally unique record. It sounded like nothing else when it was recorded or when it was released in various forms in the late 70's. It still sounds unique today.
Chilton would never come close to making anything near as good as this again. Given the obvious cost to him involved in making this it would have been selfish to even hope for that.


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