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Reviews Written by
Thespionic (West Country)
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

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Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: The Best of Dinah Washington
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: The Best of Dinah Washington
Price: £6.79

3.0 out of 5 stars Very Nice but Inferrior Sound Quality, 8 Feb. 2016
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Having recently listened to Dinah’s album – ‘Mad about the Boy,’ I hurriedly purchased this one as I was instantly hooked.
However, the former was ‘digitally enhanced’ and the difference in sound quality is quite apparent.
The latter without the enhancement sounds very dated with both Dinah’s voice and the musical accompaniment much less full and less sharper to listen to. The former album is far, far, superior.
Many of her best known tracks are on the former, 17 in all, but it’s the only album I’ll be playing of the two, from here on in.

Heart & Soul
Heart & Soul
Price: £10.69

3.0 out of 5 stars Definitely Worth a Listen but not an Outstanding Album, 6 Feb. 2016
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This review is from: Heart & Soul (Audio CD)
This was Joe’s 19th album. I was very surprised to learn that he only had two top ten albums, (excluding compilations), this one didn’t even chart in the UK. Joe will go down as one of our greatest ever Brit’ singers. Here he sings ‘others’ classics from over the years, from some of the very best songwriters.
The backing and musicianship is top class as you’d expect with the likes Beck, Clapton & Botti included.
I really like some of the songs on here, whilst others I can take or leave. Of course he makes a decent job of all of the songs as you’d expect, though overall for me, this is a goodish album but not a great one. I did enjoy listening to Joe rasping out these lovely songs - He was a quality performer of that there’s no doubt.

This is London: Life and Death in the World City
This is London: Life and Death in the World City
by Ben Judah
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.91

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Compulsive Read For those That Love Our Capital, 5 Feb. 2016
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I have always lived in the West Country, but from a boy to a man; I have always had a fascination with London. From a paperboy saving his hard earned money, to catch the train up to London to watch the football all over the capital, to visiting London to see the sights or going to the West End to watch a show. I’ve always loved the likes of Covent Garden and Craven Cottage.
I had to read this book … and I loved it. This is what the likes of the day tripper never sees, though we do of course read snatches of it in the papers. This book is much, much more than that. A hundred barrel loads more than that.
It is broken down into 25 London areas; here he discusses the lives of the various immigrant populations, their ways, and their work. The book throws in many eye-watering stats about the disappearing ‘white Brit’ in London and the various migrants that now call Britain their home. Many are here as part of our previous ‘Empire’ but there are now close on 1,000,000 here illegally!
Beautifully written, you find yourself connecting easily with the multitude of interviewees he eases his notes from. The book has a lovely warm, genuine feel. For those who have a very ‘one dimensional attitude’ towards immigrants, you should read every page of this … it will change your view and give you a much more rounded view of their lives, especially their hopes, fears, prejudices… just how bad a lot of their lives really are and how many were conned here by the traffickers?
I found the read absolutely fascinating and absorbing, it is easy to get drawn in by their tales. You feel their warmth, honesty, pain, their apprehension, their battle to simply survive. Yes, there is crime; there are definitely issues by having them here for sure. However, make no mistake, this book implores you look at the bigger picture – would we put up with the life that many of them have to contend with?
Here we read about so many of the races that make up ‘multicultural’ London. We meet: The Roma, a Nigerian Policeman, rich Arabs & Russians, an illegal immigrant from Afghanistan, we meet a multitude of cleaners, Filipino maids, prostitutes, care workers from Africa and a Muslim working in the local morgue to name just a few of quite wonderful characters. We visit the underpasses, the mansions, we ride London buses, meet the cleaners on the underground, there is wealth but plenty of abject poverty too. We visit the bookies and the regular losers, the illegals queueing for building work at dawn outside the builder’s merchants … and all around London, rich and poor, the drugs, drugs, and evermore drugs! Everyone seems to be on drugs and the likes of the Vietnamese skunk dealers are getting very rich.
This book is interesting and diverse, but mostly for me … when you meet some of these characters ... very, very heart-warming and connecting and I loved it. It has given me so much more awareness of how the parts of London that I'm not familiar with function in the twenty first century.

Mad About The Boy, The Best Of Dinah Washington
Mad About The Boy, The Best Of Dinah Washington
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely One of The Very Best Female Warblers, 4 Feb. 2016
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For several years now I’ve been trying to find an American female vocalist, singing ‘The Great American Songbook,’ that really knocks me out. A voice as good and as powerful as say our Shirley Bassey, a voice that makes you sit up and really listen.
I’ve got plenty of Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Susan Vaughan and Julie London.
All are all lovely to listen to of course, but I yearned for a voice with a bit more growl, oomph, and a voice that would rattle your eardrums a bit more, I wanted an Etta James does the ‘GAS’ if you like.
The minute I heard the first track on here I knew that I had found her! I instantly ordered another of her albums.
Dinah, like so many singers, died very young, at the age of 39! She left a very telling legacy in that period. She had 10 top 30 hits in the US, (most are on here), and was unbelievably successful in the US R&B charts, where she had 5 number ones. In the UK charts she was less well known, with just two top 50 successes.

Peaky Blinders - Series 1-2 [Blu-ray] [2013]
Peaky Blinders - Series 1-2 [Blu-ray] [2013]
Dvd ~ Cillian Murphy
Price: £17.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Superb in Every Aspect, 27 Jan. 2016
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This is a wonderful, wonderful, drama series, only ‘Roots’ has hit me as hard as this in my total appreciation and admiration for a drama. I watched the whole 12 episodes in about 3 days!
Absolutely superb: storylines, acting, cinematography, and all so very atmospheric too. I loved the post war / jazz age but still engrained Victorian flavours to this era. The costumes and sets were absolutely marvellous.
All those fantastic images: The flappers in the clubs, the wonderful attire & style of the revellers and the workers’ of that era, the old motors, freight by barge, sparks a flying from the smelting works onto the terraces, great British pubs, plumes of smoke from Craven A, pints of mild and latterly, wonderful country mansions and of course the Epsom Derby ... where did their horse finish by the way?
It truly was a privilege to watch it. Every single episode was excellent. Even the finale was very satisfying. There was plenty of sex and violence but this simply added to its authenticity and watch ability.
You really could not put a cigarette paper between the performances of Tommy (Cillian Murphy), Major Campbell (Sam Neil), Arthur (Paul Anderson) & Polly – Helen Mc Crory.
If I could have given this 10 stars then I would have.

Let's Get Lost: The Best Of Chet Baker Sings
Let's Get Lost: The Best Of Chet Baker Sings
Price: £3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Background and Mood Music, But Much, Much, More Than That., 23 Jan. 2016
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This music is so soft and laidback that you could play it in a library and no one would notice!
There are lots of classics from the pre - 50’s, era, all beautifully delivered by the singer and his backing musicians / quartet.
Baker has in many ways such an unusual voice ( almost feminine sounding) and yet it works just perfectly on every one of these tunes.
The production on this album is wonderfully sharp and clear, with its tinkling piano, bumbling, subtle bass throb and the brushing and gentle clipping of the drums. The trumpet accompaniments are crisp and clear, without once being overdone.
In short this album is an absolute delight and worth its place in any collection. Some of the best background music you’re ever likely to play.
Some may pass this over as just pleasant background music and nothing more, but you'd be missing the point of he overall quality of the music, and especially the wonderful lyrics of the compositions, written by the outstanding composers of the day?

Lyrics for Like Someone in Love
I find myself out gazing at stars
Hearing guitars
Like someone in love
Sometimes the things I do astound me
Mostly whenever you're around me
I seem to walk as though I have wings
Bump into things
Like someone in love
Each time I look at you I'm limp as a glove
And feeling like someone in love


This Is My Life: The Greatest Hits
This Is My Life: The Greatest Hits
Price: £4.88

5.0 out of 5 stars Still Number One for Me, 18 Jan. 2016
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Our Shirley has now been having hits for over 50 years! She has had 11 top ten hits singles, all are on here, except her first top ten chart entry – ‘The Banana Boat Song … that’s probably a good decision!
On the album front, she has released over 50 albums. This one reached only as high as number 54 in the year 2000, however, it eventually went ‘Gold’ (100,000 sales), the seventh time that she has acquired this feat. There is so much quality on this album. My favourite track is ‘ History Repeating’ which went to number 1 in the UK Dance Charts!
What else is there to say!

The Performance
The Performance
Price: £4.52

3.0 out of 5 stars Nice but not Great and not a Patch on 'Get the Party Started.', 17 Jan. 2016
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This review is from: The Performance (Audio CD)
The Performance
It’s nice to hear our Shirley singing some fresh material and of course she sounds as good as ever. Unfortunately, for me most of these songs are pretty average at best, they are all 3 star IMHO. The exception is ‘The Apartment,’ which does sound really fresh, backed by some lovely acoustic guitar. Perhaps the rest of the album would have benefited from moving away from the orchestrated backing which Bassey is famous for. One song does tend to morph into another which is surprising with so many different composers. For me only Rufus Wainwright comes up trumps.
This is a nice, but not great album. I could quite happily put this on as background music and that’s the best I can come up with.
Don’t get me wrong, I love our Shirley – and what a stunning photo of her on the inside cover of the insert.
If you want a more modern Bassey with some great songs then buy her 'Get the Party Started,’ which was made a couple of years before this. It is far, far, superior to this and has much more oomph to it.

The Help [DVD]
The Help [DVD]
Dvd ~ Emma Stone
Price: £3.00

4.0 out of 5 stars A Thoroughly Entertaining Film, 17 Jan. 2016
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This review is from: The Help [DVD] (DVD)
As there are 700 reviews on here already I don’t intend to over-elaborate about the plot.
I saw the film when it came out in 2011 and I was sufficiently impressed to want to view it again on DVD.
I always enjoy films about the ‘Deep South’ as I love its countryside, antebellum architecture and the whole history of that period - even if some of it is very distasteful, but then, so are large parts of our ‘ British Empire,’ but it is history nonetheless.
The filming around Mississippi is just lovely, aided of course by the fact that he director, Tate Taylor,
(also Get on Up / James Brown fame) comes from that particular state. All the filming was done there, at Jackson, Clarksdale & Greenwood. You can’t get more authentic than that!
I really enjoyed this film, though on the second viewing, I did find it a little overly sentimental, which didn’t hit me the first time around – can’t really explain that one!
The film is not trying to be another ‘12 Years a Slave’ or ‘Django,’ or even a ‘Roots and so shouldn’t be judged as such.’
I found the all-round acting first class, though quite how Brice Dallas Howard - the despicable Hilly Holbrook, didn’t get an AA nom’ for ‘best supporting actress’ as well, is quite beyond me. The ‘cast’ did win ‘Best Ensemble’ from several award groups which does make me feel somewhat better.
This is an excellent watch IMHO - the critics and public thought so too. It turned in a profit of nearly 200 million $ and was nominated for over 100 awards, winning 40.

Get The Party Started
Get The Party Started
Offered by Clearance Game Deals
Price: £4.00

5.0 out of 5 stars 21st Century Bassey is Better Than Ever, 16 Jan. 2016
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This review is from: Get The Party Started (Audio CD)
Come on … we all love classy, sassy, Shirley Bassey! She must rank as the best voice this country has ever produced. Yes, even better than Tom Jones! She is a jewel in our Blighty crown.
Up until this point she has more or less kept her albums to the full orchestra and the classical style that she is famous for – No one does it like Bassey.
This album moves her into a more modern genre of music with a little help from the remixing department, this puts a little more drive into the percussion as well as adding a few electronic additions which all the stars of today seem to use. One thing is for sure – has her voice ever sounded better than this?
I saw her at the 2007 Glastonbury festival singing some of these songs and meant to buy this album but never did get around to it.
The first time I heard this album I just loved it. The song selection is just wonderful and there’s not a duff track on here, it’s almost like they’ve reinvented Bassey again – and she’s even better! Even our Shirley has to move into the 21st century?
The album is a mixture of her old hits and her new take on old classic from the likes of Pink, Gloria Gaynor, Lionel Ritchie, Grace Jones & Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway. Living Tree is new but oh so Bassey!
The album reached number 6 in the charts, which was her second highest entry after ‘Something’ in 1970 – result! It sold 60,000 copies and went ‘silver.’
I have a lot of albums by the ladies and this one ranks as good as any of them. No one sings with the panache, power and feeling of Shirley Bassey.

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