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Reviews Written by
Thespionic (West Country)
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The Pumpkin Eater (Penguin Modern Classics)
The Pumpkin Eater (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Penelope Mortimer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read and Nearly a Classic, 24 Nov. 2015
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The first three quarters of this book I absolutely adored. I t was a great story line with lots of biting female wit. It was definitely on for a five star review. However, the last quarter of the book became too heavy for me, too indulgent with self-analysis, phycology and bogged down personal feelings which made the tail end of this book hard going. Had the finale also been outstanding then this could have been a ‘brilliant’ read rather than just ‘very good.’
There are some great characters in here, even if Mrs Armitage was unbelievably naÔve and too much of an all- round martyr. Jake was the most underserving recipient of anyone’s sympathy that you’ve ever meet?
I enjoyed the realism of Bob Conway – just about the only normal one among them – at least he showed anger, a need for revenge and something resembling a normal attitude to his lot?
In the end, for me at least, the lead character fails because no one would put up with what she had to contend with – not even for love. The outrage you feel for her subsides as she fails to see the self-harm of her attachment.

The Lonely Londoners (Penguin Modern Classics)
The Lonely Londoners (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Samuel Selvon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3.0 out of 5 stars A Very Pleasant read but Hardly a Classic, 23 Nov. 2015
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The book captures the feel of mainly West Indian immigrants leaving their homes and coming to London for a new life in the 1950’s. ‘The Empire’ of course had made its mark on the ’WI’ but that was now on the wane. A lot of the islands at this point were much run down, poor and directionless. This offered a way out of poverty.
This read centres on the main storyteller – Moses; he introduces us to several of his friends and acquaintances. They have also travelled over and he has got to know them quite well over the years. He reminisces and recalls their times together, their characters and their stories at their weekly pow wows .
They are a very mixed bag but include: at worst, a jealous woman beater, a serial womaniser & various hustlers and drifters, some do well for themselves, others not quite so well. All are rather laid back and blasé about their life style and they fit typically into how the ‘black Caribbean’s were perceived at that time and perhaps sometime since?
Firstly I have to say that absolutely nothing happens of a dramatic fashion in this read. Much of it is very mundane and definitely nothing that you wouldn’t have read, or heard of, or come across before! Men chasing women, men going to dances – to get off with women, male camaraderie, West Indians liking their woman music & dope, their extremely laid back and a friendly nature!
It’s quite witty in places but goes where it feels like as it has no plot or storyline. It’s a bit of a ramble really. You just have to go with it. The fact that there are no chapters enhances the rather meandering direction of the book.
It’s simply a nice pleasant read and mildly atmospheric as it’s written in a Calypso lingo and reminisces about those places in London that we’ve all been to or been through on the underground.
To call this book a ‘modern classic’ is rather over-stating its importance IMHO.Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it.
I felt that the conditions that they lived under and suffered here – cramped housing, work problems, prejudice and racial isolation were rather secondary to the tale - though the narrator’s finale looks rather dejectedly at their present lot and their lack of achievement and their unpromising future ? Where they right to come to England and are they really any happier?

Are You Experienced?
Are You Experienced?
by William Sutcliffe
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars One For the Lads to Read, 17 Nov. 2015
This review is from: Are You Experienced? (Paperback)
I was nurtured on the wit, sarcasm and mild chauvinism of Guy Bellamy. William Sutcliffe’s style is so similar that it instantly suited what I enjoy to read. It was a great relief to know that this style of writing is still being produced as a comedic piece.
This is classic ‘blokey’ humour, unable to accept that the ladies are much more mature than we are, and then gloating when their theories occasionally go wrong. However, we do have a begrudging respect that they’re right 99% of the time. How infuriating is that lads! Yes, only our wit gets us through most of the time, but we all know when we’ve been rumbled!
Of course, this type of humour is very dated now, un-PC and the feminazi would have our guts for garters if they caught us reading ‘lads stuff’ like this, but it’s still great fun as a bloke to steal away and read it occasionally - nothing wrong with that girls, we know you talk about us in the ladies!
I really enjoyed this book, it has genuine wit and a very good and entertaining storyline to boot. Look, if you want something that will make you laugh and is very easy to read (the chapters are short and sharp), then this will do very nicely, but I think that it would help if you were brought up in the 60’s, 70’s & 80’s! I agree with other reviewers on here – none of the characters came across as particularly nice people. Dave comes across as rather inadequate but tries to hide it via his wit and sarcasm. He wants to be seen as bullish but the reality is that he’s a bit of a wimp!
If you want something other than a comedy, or you’re a bit ‘pc’ or a feminist, then I don’t think this’ll be for you.

Black Angel
Black Angel
Price: £11.41

3.0 out of 5 stars A Nice Listen Though Unexceptoional, 14 Nov. 2015
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This review is from: Black Angel (Audio CD)
There’s no doubt that Mica has a lovely smooth voice - perfect for soul and smooth jazz. There are certainly some very nice songs on here but some very ordinary ones too.
This was probably the start of Mica’s slide out of the charts – this album peaked at 59 in the UK. Three singles from this album failed to cause a stir in the singles charts, with ‘Stay’ best at number 40.
I enjoyed her voice but found the album unexceptional and rather ‘samey’ by its close, though it would certainly sound nice as background music when friends visit.
The insert to the cd is quite racey with one pic’ of Mica having a ‘Sharon Stone’ moment! Not sure what that’s all about! -She clearly wasn’t a feminist at that time was she?
A nice album to listen to but not a brilliant album. This one will probably stay in the rack now.

Everybody's Talkin'
Everybody's Talkin'
Price: £7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Over Indulgence but still Good!, 12 Nov. 2015
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This review is from: Everybody's Talkin' (Audio CD)
Firstly, let me say that I really like the blues / rock sound of this band. Susan’s sandpaper voice is just great. I really enjoyed the two classic covers – ‘Everybody’s Talkin’ & ‘Uptight.’ These are the two diamonds on here. I just love the added sound of a brass section, organ work and backing vocals – it’s all on here so I was very pleased to discover this band, which I found in the programme of the recent 02 Blues fest, having seen Van & Tom on the Sunday night.
However, the length of the album and particularly many of the songs is just way too long? Perhaps one track at 10 minutes or so is fine, but half a dozen and one at 15 minutes – just what were they thinking of? It was totally over - indulgent and made it far too easy to lose interest in some of the music.
Clearly the buying public felt the same. After the great success of ‘Revelator,’ which reached a heady 12 in the US charts and won them a Grammy, this, their second album, bombed! I can see why – it’s just not customer friendly is it, even though the music is excellent. Only a die -hard fan would truly lap this up.
Perhaps an abridged DVD would have been a better idea as ‘visually’ the band are good to look at, there’s always something going on. I would definitely go to see them live – then the length of the songs wouldn’t matter quite so much, though I still say that endless guitar solos eventually bore you silly… and this album does suffer from that? You shouldn’t feel that you are losing the will to live as the track goes on and on … and on!

Seductive Poison: A Jonestown Survivor's Story of Life and Death in the Peoples Temple
Seductive Poison: A Jonestown Survivor's Story of Life and Death in the Peoples Temple
by Deborah Layton
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars What Drove Jim James, 11 Nov. 2015
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Having read the ‘Manson’ story as an opener regarding cults, I was interested to take the cult phenomenon to the next stage.
For the likes of you and I it is almost impossible to comprehend how anyone with half a brain could get sucked into something like this. I think it is fair to say that only certain kinds of intellect are susceptible and vulnerable to this type of brainwashing – but they are out there if you look long and hard enough and know what you are looking for … and cult leaders do know!
This book is a fascinating and very worthwhile read, and of course it's a very tragic tale. Whilst we learn a lot about the ways and so called ideals of Jim Jones, you never really discover what motivates him? I t certainly wasn’t money, even though he had millions of dollars at his disposal. It wasn’t the good life or even a comfortable life – all against his socialist values of course, but he was a fake! Was it a power trip or were he simply delusional and an ace manipulator? There’s no doubt he was cunningly clever, he could mix above his station – all were taken in by him. Did he simply lose his way and become s dictator?
So why did it all turn so sour and why couldn’t he just build his lovely little ‘socialist’ haven and treat his congregation with respect – he seemed to have the money and the wherewithal to do exactly that. Perhaps these people defy logic and can't be worked out?
I can only suggest that you read it and see what you think?
My only complaint about his excellent book is that there are no pictures of the devastation and carnage that Jonestown became, though there are plenty on the net. I do feel the end of this awful tale should have been shown here – it really would have finished this read off perfectly and
emphasised the tragedy of it all. Some of the overhead shots of the aftermath will stay with me forever!

The Very Best Of
The Very Best Of
Price: £4.50

4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Good Listen, 10 Nov. 2015
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This review is from: The Very Best Of (Audio CD)
There are several really top songs on here – ‘I’m Gonna Be,’ is pretty much legendary now and ‘Sunshine on Leigh’ is truly beautiful. Two or three others are near to these. King of the Road is a nice version but not as good as Roger Miller’s version IMHO!
The rest are pleasant, nice on the ear, easy listening, sing-a-long, clever and catchy, though not particularly brilliant. I enjoyed the album but it didn’t knock me out. It’s a 7/10 for me. I’m sure some of the other songs will grow on me, so I’ll give it 4 * instead of my initial reaction of 3*!
The Proclaimers have been around a long time now and have had chart success with both their albums and singles in the past.
The Proclaimers are playing near to where I live tonight, but the album wasn’t quite good enough to make me want go a long and see them?

Summer Breeze - The Greatest Hits
Summer Breeze - The Greatest Hits
Offered by usnap
Price: £12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Blast from the Past, 3 Nov. 2015
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This album has some great music on it from the enduring Isleys. They’ve been on the go since 1954 and they are still at it! I wanted to find the best ‘greatest hits compilation’ and chose this based on all the reviews that I could find.
There are still three Isleys in the band whilst three have died along the way.
Here in the UK they came to prominence in the 60’s with ‘This Old Heart of Mine’ (3) & Behind the Painted Smile (5).’ They followed that with three more top 20 hits in the 70’s – ‘That Lady (14), ’Summer Breezes’ (16), & ‘Harvest for the World’ (10). All are on here. ‘The Love of You’ is possibly my favourite and a truly beautiful song but surprisingly it never charted here.
The Isleys had seven number ones in the R& B charts in the US.
Would I recommend this album as the one to buy for your collection – absolutely.

Slow Jamz
Slow Jamz
Offered by para-dise
Price: £12.68

3.0 out of 5 stars It's all a Matter of Taste, 27 Oct. 2015
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This review is from: Slow Jamz (Audio CD)
I was a child of the 60’s and 70’s and to me ‘Rhythm & Blues’ was a totally different sound to what is on here – of course I accept that things have changed and therefore the sound has changed.
Some of the songs on here are no more than pop ballads, whilst others move off into other directions like hip hop & dance.
There’s little to no brass (like traditional R& B) and most of the more modern stuff is simply backed by electronic wizardry with heavy drum beats?
I found most of the songs pretty average to be honest and much prefer the old R&B style which is totally different. I accept though that the younger set probably loved this – fine.
My advice to them – watch the films about Ray Charles ( Ray) and the more recent one about James Brown – it gives you their history and where R&B came from, as well as some absolutely brilliant music.

Angels/Late Lounge
Angels/Late Lounge
Offered by Hausmusik
Price: £30.49

3.0 out of 5 stars Just a Shade Disappointing, 26 Oct. 2015
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This review is from: Angels/Late Lounge (Audio CD)
There are 34 tracks on here so it’s very good value for starters. There are some very nice songs for sure but frankly far too many fall into the ‘average’ or ‘nothing exceptional’ range.
Even the songs from such highly regarded artistes as Winehouse, Stansfield, Cole and Texas are not in their ‘best songs’ range.
I accept that music, like all culture, is very subjective, but for me there aren't enough outstanding songs on here. Yes, there are some very good tracks but no real classics. There are also too many very average efforts. A lot of the songs, in places, just morph into one another without making you sit up and listen and say, “Wow, that’s nice!”
On the plus side I did enjoy, Angel by Sarah McLachlan, Call off the Search by Katie Melua, Holding Back the Years by Alyson Williams and best of all, Sorrento Moon by Tina Arena.
This is probably worth a listen for a lot of people, I bought it as I thought it would be nice to listen to the best of what the ‘ladies’ had to offer, but frankly there has to be better compilations than this show off their undoubted talents. This is 7/10 for me.

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