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Thespionic (West Country)
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The Informer
The Informer
Offered by Side Two
Price: £8.79

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Album but the Ladies Steal the Show, 26 Aug. 2015
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This review is from: The Informer (Audio CD)
This is more or less another ‘Jools with Friends!’ Jools gives Ruby Turner as good as her own album with a total of eleven tracks. There are also telling contributions from Beverley Knight, and ‘one day a star to be,’ Louise Marshall – listen to: ‘I Went By,’ ‘Waterloo Bridge’ & ‘Seven Acts of Mercy.’
We also have a couple of ‘cabaret’ pieces from Rico Rodriguez – actually quite pleasant if you’ve had a drink!
Jools sings on 5 songs but has no real voice of any note, the album badly needs other vocalists, he’s always known that and he’s a great collaborator in that way. Jools has such a ‘giving’ personality but is no fool either, in knowing what’s best in terms of sound?
Disc two with its’ live’ feel, saves this album from being average to good and lifts it to ‘good’ overall. Disc one was more or less the Jools we’ve heard a million times over?
The best track on here is actually from the combined talents of Wells & Rochester choral society – ‘Up & Above My Head,’ which is a stunning track. Again, you have to admire the generosity of Jools to put this on the album.


Tom Jones & Jools Holland
Tom Jones & Jools Holland
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £4.71

3.0 out of 5 stars Not a Particularly Exceptional Album, 25 Aug. 2015
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Having recently listened to Tom Jones ‘Reload’ and ‘Praise & Blame’ which were undeniably excellent albums, I thought I would extend it to ‘Tom & Jools.’
On first impressions I am a bit underwhelmed by it. Yes, there are some nice songs on it, reasonably catchy, with typical Jools’ piano and big band backing. Tom’s voice as ever is in very good nick.
However, at no stage, with this selection of mainly rather ordinary & unexceptional songs does he need to extend himself. After a while some of the tracks tend to morph into one another? Some of course we've heard on Jools' TV show but even 'St James Infirmary' failed to lift me to a higher plain!
Many are rather short ditties; the whole album of 19 tracks is no longer than an hour, with 7 of the tracks in the two minute or so category. This is not a problem or a criticism, just a fact.
The album is decent enough on the ear, the songs and arrangements are nicely put together, as you would expect from a master like Jools, though I can’t honestly say that there was one track that made me sit up with the ‘wow’ factor? The whole album is a bit ordinary in that way - as far as I am concerned. Yes, worth a listen for sure, but not one for me, that I’ll be playing over and over. There are better albums for Tom Jones fans and probably better albums for Jools fans too?


Praise & Blame
Praise & Blame
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Spiritual Tom - A 5 Star Performance, 21 Aug. 2015
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This review is from: Praise & Blame (Audio CD)
This is a top notch album, featuring gospel, blues and even country - It’s all very ‘spiritual.’ The best track by a long way is ‘Lord Help’ which features Tom at his very best; fronting a driving blues backing – great stuff!
I also thought ‘Didn’t it Rain’ a top quality song – one of four songs that Tom co-wrote with Ethan Jones, who played on and produced this album for Tom. There are also songs from Dylan, John Lee Hooker and Billy Joe Shaver – what an amazing name that is! ‘Don’t knock’ is a great little song and shows once again just how versatile Tom is?
‘Praise & Blame’ reached number 2 in the UK charts in 2010; this equalled ‘This is Tom Jones,’ which reached number 2 in 1969. These two being his highest placed albums, apart from his two number ones - ‘Delilah,’ and then more recently ‘Reload.’
This is a lovely album, Jones at his very best and 5 stars all the way


Reload (Re-issue)
Reload (Re-issue)
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Brassy & Sassy Tom, 20 Aug. 2015
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This review is from: Reload (Re-issue) (Audio CD)
Brassy & Sassy Tom
*****
This is Tom at his absolute best, forget all that” Why, Why, Why Delilah” stuff from the 60’s. This album is deliberately loud with literally lots of brass! Tom is dominating and taking centre stage – make no mistake about that. You have the feeling that this is what Tom has always wanted to do.
Tom has always had bags of soul, blues, funk rock & jazz in his veins - he just needed the right vehicle to transmit it. It is very interesting that Tom was happy to use his guests’ own studios and let their own producers oversee the finished article. How interesting that all of those different producers felt that Tom needed a loud, almost live sounding backing, with a driving drum beat and crashing symbols, stinging jazz guitar, with plenty of brass for a really jazzy, funky feel. They even used a lovely and impressive big band backing on “It’s Cold Outside.” Of course they all put Tom’s voice right out there up front.
There are a couple of tracks that I could take or leave but all the rest are just great.
‘Reload’ has put Tom back on top again and he’s bigger now than he’s ever been. He really should have done this years ago, as he’s so good at it.
This album was his first number one for 31 years, Delilah being the previous number one in 1968! ‘Reload’ has now sold 6 million copies worldwide! Long may it continue Thomas.
I recently rated Van Morrison’s new duets album, which I was very impressed with. This I feel is even better.


Far From The Madding Crowd *Digitally Restored [DVD] [1967]
Far From The Madding Crowd *Digitally Restored [DVD] [1967]
Dvd ~ Julie Christie
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A Great British Rustic Costume Drama, 20 Aug. 2015
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I live about an hour from where most of this was filmed. Weymouth is my favourite local resort and so I really appreciated the scenes of rural splendour that our counties here in England’s ‘Deep South’ have to offer. The scenic cinematography is quite stunning; if not quite as crystal clear as watching a David Attenborough documentary! I just loved the ‘extras,’ which included these locations & that of Wiltshire’s Devizes.
This is of course not dissimilar to the ‘Mayor of Casterbridge’ and that story’s settings. They are both essentially ‘country tales about living off of the land, the harvests, markets, the poverty, Lords of the Manor and such like – taking us through the Georgian influence and Victorian eras. This film however is a lot more ‘quirky’ than the aforementioned Hardy classic? I have enjoyed both films immensely.
I thought Peter Finch was by far the most convincing actor of the 3 main leads but all did a great job, even if three men falling instantly in love with the same woman (without even sharing a pork pie) is stretching the storyline a bit far? Nevertheless, a great overall tale, first class acting, a beautifully shot, a great costume & period piece - and as I’ve said, how lucky are we to have such a stunning countryside to enjoy?
These old rustic costume dramas are just wonderful aren’t they? The scene of those ‘bathing machines’ on Weymouth beach is absolutely stunning and a highlight of the cinematography for me personally. Of course, nowadays that scene would be done by computer imagery?


Other People's Lives
Other People's Lives
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £7.37

3.0 out of 5 stars Worth a Listen But Not Outstanding, 14 Aug. 2015
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This review is from: Other People's Lives (Audio CD)
I have seen Ray Davis a couple of times, the latest, a few weeks ago. His Kinks' backlog is awesome and in my view much better than the early poppy / chorus driven Beatles stuff.
Nothing touches ‘Waterloo Sunset’ during this period. It remains one of the most charismatic songs ever?
Ray hasn’t written that much since the Kinks disbanded – just 5 albums in nearly 30 years and none made the top 30! This did the best of all – to date.
How could you possibly compare to the success of the Kinks, who ruled for 30 years themselves?
This album is what I would recall ‘interesting!’ Davis’s lyrics are as always worth a listen and very ‘in the moment.’ or ‘in vogue.’
However, apart from ‘The Tourist,’ which in its self could have been a massive hit single if arranged appropriately, the rest are not quite in that league and frankly quite average? The album overall did little for me? Nice, interesting, mostly pleasant on the ear BUT unexceptional? Ray is in his 70’s now and so to expect him to produce another ‘Lola’ is frankly unrealistic. Having said that, he is definitely one of our best ever song writers, with great longevity, even if is later stuff is good but not great?


New York New York [DVD]
New York New York [DVD]
Dvd ~ Liza Minnelli
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £4.71

3.0 out of 5 stars Worth a Watch - It's Entertaining, 7 Aug. 2015
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This review is from: New York New York [DVD] (DVD)
Liza Minnelli is synonymous with the word ' entertainment' and she doesn't disappoint here.
Rotten Tomatoes, IMDb & ME all gave this film approximately 3 stars and I’m quite happy to go along with that! It was well worth a watch and quite entertaining. Minnelli plays her typical role, as in her Cabaret and Stepping Out. I thought she and De Nero were excellent as leads.
DeNiro did learn a bit of saxophone prior to this film but didn’t actually play on the film - it was dubbed in. He didn’t totally convince me as a musician I have to say? Minnelli only sang one song live on set; the others were recordings, though I have to say that ‘The Man I Love’ & ‘New York, New York’ were absolutely fabulous.
The film was not a great success and just about broke even. The one thing I did take away from the film was the lovely wardrobes and the jazzy venues and music. The film was nice on the eye and the music was very good. The film I watched was 2 hours 36 minutes, which did seem a little long at times but the actual film quality was very good.


The Definitive Collection
The Definitive Collection
Price: £7.15

5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Classy Sassy, 2 Aug. 2015
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The Definitive Collection – Sarah Vaughan
*****
I first came across Sarah Vaughan when I got into ‘The Great American Songbook.’ I loved her version of ‘Stormy Weather,’ every bit the equal of Billy Holiday’s version, which for me is the best of the lot.
She is always being compared with two other female, iconic, black American singers – Holiday and Fitzgerald – they were all born within 11 years of each other! I have listened to Billy Holiday’s ‘best of’ and those of Ella Fitzgerald too.
On listening to this collection of songs it was clear that she deserves a status as an equal to the above pairing. I took to her voice and style immediately.
There are many great songs on here and she clearly loved Gershwin best of all as his songs figure heavily on these 3 discs, which cover a bumper 75 tracks and 3 hours of easy listening!
I could list my favourites but there’s so many outstanding standards on here that it would be a bit futile to be honest.

As mentioned previously, and I endorse this, the packaging is very nice, with just enough info to keep one satisfied. More importantly the voice and orchestrations are of a very high calibre and so the music sounds superb.
I’m keeping one disc in the car, one in my computer and the other in the music centre in the lounge - and I think that just about says it all!


Cocktail Party Jazz
Cocktail Party Jazz
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £9.14

3.0 out of 5 stars A Cosy Experience but Not Life Changing For Me, 1 Aug. 2015
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This review is from: Cocktail Party Jazz (Audio CD)
Cocktail Party Jazz
***
Firstly, and in all honesty, I do not profess to be a jazz buff in the slightest way.
I do know though what I like. Some genres of Jazz I can take to whilst others do little for me. I have listened to about 10 of the ‘Smooth jazz ‘range which I have really enjoyed. ‘101 Eastbound’ just edges the others IMHO, though they are all good and excellent VFM to boot! These led me to this album!
The title of this album describes it perfectly well. You can just imagine being sat in some small club with the quartet playing quietly away in the corner whilst the punters are doing their own thing. This of course is excellent background music should one be hosting. It’s inoffensive, unobtrusive and rambles pleasantly on for approximately an hour. It’s music that you can hold a conversation to!
Having played it two or three times now, I found it nice, pleasant, and easy on the ear – yes, all those things. This probably is a buffs’ album if you want to appreciate it properly, but it was not really for me. It didn’t excite me or particularly lift me in any sense. There was no 'wow' factor as far as I was concerned, though I may put it on when the 'appropriate' guests come around. it’s not one that I’ll be playing over and over. For me, it’s just OK and no more than that. On the plus side it did introduce me to Beegie Adair, so it’s never too late to learn or appreciate something or someone.


The Very Best of Smooth Jazz - Vol.2
The Very Best of Smooth Jazz - Vol.2
Price: £56.29

5.0 out of 5 stars So Much Quality and Such Value Too, 1 Aug. 2015
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This is yet another top compilation from the ‘Smoothers’ collection. This series provides great value (35 tracks) and wonderful music from a whole array of musicians & bands and from several jazz genres.
This particular CD , produced from ‘jazz FM’ favourites gives you some great tracks from the 70’s & e 80’s on disc one, whilst on disc 2 we have the more modern jazz fusion, mainly from 2000. The album is a mixture of jazz, soul & fusion and all of it sounds just great. This is a top notch album – in fact the whole ‘smooth jazz’ series is excellent.
I now have about 10 of these albums, all different in their own way of course, and purchased some for as little as 1p + postage! It’s like going to heaven, and I’m not a ‘die hard’ jazz fan at all – but I know what I like!


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