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Dr J (Wiltshire, UK)

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Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime, 12 Sep 2013
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I genuinely think this is one of the greatest film soundtracks ever written, both in terms of its integral contribution to a superb film, and in its value as a stand-alone work. It is one of the most listened-to CDs in my bloated collection. A point that other reviewers fail to mention, that only makes this more impressive, is that the score was written by Tom Twyker, the film's director. It absolutely staggers me that such a feat can be accomplished by someone 'moonlighting' from their day job as a film director. A 'total' artist. If there have ever been more stunningly evocative musical moments written than the climaxes to 'The Perfume' and 'The Crowd Embrace', I've yet to hear them.


TP-Link TL-PA211KIT AV200 Nano 200Mbps Powerline Adapter - Twin Pack
TP-Link TL-PA211KIT AV200 Nano 200Mbps Powerline Adapter - Twin Pack
Offered by E W Link Co Ltd.
Price: 19.30

5.0 out of 5 stars Thats some magic trick!, 19 Oct 2011
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This is the coolest goddam gizmo since the ipod!

It's simple, its cheap, it works. Our multiply extended house has a studio room on a separate consumer circuit, geographically removed from the main building. Zero wireless signal from my router. Plug these babies in, and its like the router is stood next to the computer. Zero faff, zero issues, via a complicated mains circuit. Part of me doesn't quite believe it actually works, but it just plain does. And if it works in my higgledy piggledy, spaghetti-wired house, i imagine there are very few scenarios where it won't.

Voodoo magicky goodness! Unconditionally recommended. :)


Swing and Big Band Guitar [With CD]
Swing and Big Band Guitar [With CD]
by Charlton Johnson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 12.23

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ONLY text for big band jazz guitar worth buying, 26 Sep 2011
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To add my 10 pence worth - I fully agree with the other reviews here. If you are new to big band guitar, this book is absolutely THE required text. Other books will not get you half as far, and in some cases, just add confusion or misdirection to the learning jazz rhythm guitarist. How on earth did people pick up this style of guitar before 1998?!!

Charlton Johnson tells you everything you will really ever need to know to get performing big band jazz to a high standard, and it is all set out in a logical and inspiring framework, mixing the essential principles and practice routines to get them embedded, allowing you to get playing from the outset (enough to busk your way through most standards) and then taking the learner onto the next steps of creative chord reduction and expansion to reach a smooth and interesting comping style that has both consistency and variety. My own background was as an experienced (Grade 8) blues/rock/indie player, and yet even as such, my entry into the jazz rhythm style looked intimidating, and its very easy to head off down the wrong path in trying to interpret the complex looking charts of a big band. But its not as hard as it looks if you know and adopt the right basic principles. And being able to play this stuff can only increase all round musicianship - certainly my blues rhythm playing has come on in spades too as a result of an enhanced chord understanding and toolkit.

Buy it, woodshed it, never look back.


Blues Deluxe
Blues Deluxe
Price: 9.03

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pick of the bunch, 30 Mar 2010
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This review is from: Blues Deluxe (Audio CD)
i just wanted to say that, as a long-time fan of Joe's work, i've just been listening to his back catalogue again, in the light of his most recent release, Black Rock. And you know, i still think Blues Deluxe is his best album. I know Joe himself dislikes his earlier 'shouty' singing, and has taken great pains to work on a smoother, more tutored voice, but i rather like the rawness here, and the energy and exuberance of this album. For me it represents the apex of when his experience had started to really show, but everything still sounded really fresh and full of 'rising star' joy. Now Joe has hit the big time, everything is much more polished and glossy, but i think maybe some of that young vitality has been rubbed away and, dare i say, a certain sameness is creeping in. Blues Deluxe is a really mixed, hooky affair by comparison, lots of funky rhythms (which seem to have been ditched in favour of more straight-ahead rock rhythms these days) and up-front, twisty licks to die for, especially on the title track. It might be less polished, but maybe its got a bit more mojo? If i could only keep one of Joe's albums, this would still be the one.


The Lost Men: The Harrowing Story of Shackleton's Ross Sea Party
The Lost Men: The Harrowing Story of Shackleton's Ross Sea Party
by Kelly Tyler-Lewis
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly compelling and accomplished tale of astonishing endurance, 1 Mar 2010
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Another firm 5 stars for this book - an engrossing story told with narrative panache and wonderful attention to detail. I've now read most of the key texts about the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration (a recent weird obsession), and this was the real standout for me, documenting one of the most incredible stories, and in the most satisfying way. This despite being a 'sideline' to the previously far more well-documented expeditionary stories of Scott and Shackleton. Perhaps part of its initial charm lies in being an underdogs' tale from the outset. But I also found it to offer some of the most thought-provoking insights into the whole subject of early polar expeditions (more on this later...); in fact, one of the most thought-provoking studies of human grit and endurance in any field.

Piecing together such a coherent, balanced and detailed historical recollective from very old and far-flung sources, whilst making it read more like a novel than a thesis, is an exceptional literary feat. The author is not afraid to add her own interpretive insights when this brings an important guiding hand of balance, but the story always feels personal to the Ross Sea Party's experiences, rather than a distant historical record.

[mild spoiler alert from this point; hopefully not gratuitous!].

Pacing is excellent throughout, from the chaotic set-up to the adventure (Shackleton's chaos, not the author's!) all the way to the 'what happened to the key players afterwards?' epilogues; the latter are very poignant - you come to really care for individuals' fates and wish them a long, easy life afterwards - not all got one.

Despite the almost unbearable hardships detailed (the poor dogs' miserable existences especially are enough to move a grown man to tears) it is oddly digestible. So don't be put off by an anticipated gruelling read, as i nearly was. With the author's deft introductions, you quickly come to care deeply about these people, and feel compelled to follow as their story unfolds. This, and a constantly human touch, gets the reader through the more harrowing parts - it's a real page turner to very end. Unlike Scott's famous expeditionary journal, this story doesn't have an inescapable sense of melancholic, impending doom hanging over the whole narrative; there is tragedy here, but also triumph and redemption of sorts. This book also tempers the hard facts of the Antarctic slog with a more revealing window into the motivations, personalities and interactions (including hearteningly familiar squabbling) of the expeditionary members; much of this human detail was airbrushed out in the sanitized, politically-cautious records of Scott, Shackleton, Amundsen et al.

Whilst Shackleton only has a relatively minor direct role here, his reach from afar is palpable, shaping the story and, especially, informing the way the men responded when their expedition started to unravel. He must have been quite a man. But it also becomes clear from the unfolding evidence of his expeditionary preparations that he seems to have woefully underestimated the challenges of his proposed Antarctic crossing. This perhaps reflected the rushed timescales, as he was racing to get his expedition underway in the run up to seemingly inevitable war (which became WW1) before these events could sweep it aside. But never the less, he had made a number of almost laughably bad assumptions when planning the polar crossing, which seems bizarre given his two prior experiences on the continent (the first of which nearly killed him) and the cautionary tale of Scott just two years previously. There were just too many things that could go wrong and, yet again, absolutely no margin for error; even with everything else working in his favour, staying alive on the sledging diet was, alone, akin to Russian roulette, despite attempted improvements. Previously costly mistakes seem to have been destined to be repeated again and again (perhaps because there was simply no realistic way to respond otherwise to the challenges at the time, but perhaps not). The benefits of historical hindsight not withstanding, it seems particularly crazy to have intended to set out on a totally uncharted route to the pole whilst relying completely on the work of an inexperienced, poorly briefed and very under-resourced team coming towards him from the other side of the world (with whom he had no method of communicating, or knowing if they even arrived safely in Antarctica at all), to lay - in time and visibly - the depots upon which his subsequent survival would entirely depend. Neither was there time or a realistic contingency to allow retracing of steps. Even though the Ross Sea Party did succeed in fulfilling their support mission, in the face of incredible odds, from what i read in this book, it seems likely to me that, with all the other bad assumptions in the mix, had Shackleton actually initiated the crossing of the continent he would still have had a pretty small chance of succeeding. And considering that failure beyond a certain point of no return could only result in one thing, i now think it highly likely he would have died in the attempt, a grim repeat of Scott's Terra Nova polar expedition. And how differently he might have been remembered as a result. So in the end, perhaps his famous expeditionary misfortunes resulted in a doubly-lucky escape? This is not explicitly debated or concluded in the book, and so you might wonder why I am meandering into such speculation within a book review, but its relevant as I think the sheer precariousness of Shackleton's intended Antarctic crossing is a message that does emerge pretty strongly here, and not from other accounts; books covering the Weddell Sea Party's more famous tale don't cover this ground, because Shackleton's polar party didn't ever set foot on the continent; theoretical sledging logistics (and possible impending catastrophic failures of these), are therefore pushed aside.

In fact, after reading this book I wondered for the first time whether the whole concept of polar exploration, with the technological capabilities of the time, was actually just fundamentally foolhardy and idiotic, and not worth the extraordinary cost exacted on the supporting players (not least their poor, wretched beasts of burden). Perhaps they really should have left alone, or at least been much more cautious, tempering the astonishingly ambitious, grueling and primarily ego-driven, `record journey' attempts and concentrating on making steadier progress and pushing forward the scientific objectives. Although, as Shackleton himself noted, `without the Pole, there is no science' reflecting the realities of raising the necessary funds by promising expeditionary glories, set against more temperate and scholarly aims. But for the first time i feel like i have been given enough insight to make me ponder the reputation-making motives of the great polar explorers, and the ethics of their expeditions, a bit more soberly. Plenty of people voiced concerns in Shackleton's time, so perhaps this is not just retrospective judgement from the safety of comfortable modern armchair. The costs just seem to have been extraordinarily savage, and repeatedly, predictably so, in the face of ongoing questionable rewards.

I think there are deep truths and insights in all this too, equally applicable today, about the internal workings of the great risk-taking, charismatic entrepreneurs who are likely to find their way to the forefront of our species' ongoing great adventures, and what that might mean for the people who support and enable them. Challenging stuff then if you want to ruminate.

After reading this book, every time i think i'm having a bad time or facing tough challenges, i only need to cast my mind back to the vivid pictures painted about the Ross Sea Party's trials to very promptly re-evaluate my own easy existence and its minor irritations. Awesome, humbling stuff.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 19, 2012 3:33 PM BST


No Title Available

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars V2 SRM450 does not overheat like the V1s....., 27 Jan 2010
I mainly wanted to highlight somewhere visible that the review above mine refers to the ORIGINAL SRM450s, not the V2. This is noted in a response to a comment linked to the review, but its very buried. I think its an important distinction to make, as the item the review is linked to is the V2 version. Potential buyers could be left with a very misleading impression of this product: the V2 does NOT have the same overheat issues (Mackie sorted it!) and, for my money, these are the best PA speakers sensible money can buy. I play in a 10 piece band, and last Fri we played to 500 people in a large, civic-scale venue. Paired with the Mackie bass bins, these speakers gave us a fabulous, articulate, room filling sound. And yet you can (if you are so inclined....) hook them up to a karaoke machine in your front room, and they will still sound just fine at domestic volume. There aren't many other speakers that give you that kind of flexibility or quality. There IS a reason you see so many of these Mackies on the circuit. They are not totally bullet proof, and i would recommend using with a power conditioner/breaker if you don't want to pop something due to some venues' dodgy power supplies (we had a 160 driver repair on one unit as a result of such an incident) but treat them with respect and they will reward you. This goes for any professional gear of course...

Hope this is helpful clarification. j
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 21, 2011 10:49 PM BST


Bill Bailey's Remarkable Guide To The Orchestra [DVD]
Bill Bailey's Remarkable Guide To The Orchestra [DVD]
Dvd ~ Bill Bailey
Price: 7.00

8 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The tank is still on empty, 10 Jan 2010
As a long-time Bill Bailey fan, I found this pretty disappointing fare, and more worrying as it constitutes a second consecutive mediocre release from Bill, following on from the dire (one star effort) Tinselworm. I laughed at loud only two or three times, and i think one of those was a bit forced.. The concept here is sound, and some of the orchestral 'education' stuff was indeed interesting, but many of the 'comedy' examples used either felt half-realised or laboured a bit too far, and the integration of the orchestral concept with the gags was generally a bit too naff and cursory to give the show the gravitas it needed to justify the conceit of hiring a full orchestra and the Albert Hall. One notable exception; the cow-bell song was a really joyful act of physical comedy invention - 5 stars for those two minutes alone.

I agree with some of the more moderate other reviewers here that it was rather lazy to set the same old songs (Hats Off To The Zebra again? Really? It wasn't Bill's most inspired effort the first time round) to an orchestra backing to fill out the show rather than to take the concept its natural distance and write some new songs (even just one or two!) that better used the orchestra as something more integral than a posh backing band. After Tinselworm I'm not really surprised by this: that was a spectacularly tired release, which showed worrying signs that Bill's tank had run dry. This is a little better, but largely due to the more interesting angle applied to the usual schtick, eking out the last miles. I had hoped that Tinselworm would represent an uncharacteristic lapse in form, but it seems that, fundamentally, Bill is now running on fumes; his core act is really very old now, especially given how much his comedy contemporaries work to reinvent themselves, and it needs a really big injection of new material, rather than finding more and more unusual and lavish ways of repackaging the same old songs and gags. Yet another Chris De Burgh dig? Old, old, old. Chris De Burgh has long since ceased to have any cultural relevance. Bill risks going the same way if he doesn't update his references soon. It kind of takes the shine off the originally wonderful 'Beautiful Ladies in peril' to have it wheeled out yet again here as if something new and shiny.

I write this review as a huge fan of Bill's earlier work (I've seen him live twice), when the offering was much more fresh, incisively targeted (he took down Linda Barker at the height of her ubiquity with a sniper's efficiency) and less predictable than it has become. Will he now reinvent his act or fizzle out? I hope for the former, but sadly don't expect it now. Bewilderness and Part-Troll seem unlikely to be bettered, and these are the two mementos I will keep of the great live shows they captured. It seems there is now a new King of Surrealist, musical comedy, and that man is Tim Minchin. Compared side by side, Bill's fading star is sadly pretty obvious. Tim has taken the niche-y, edgy, musical comedy genre to new and extravagant heights, and is far more creatively prolific too.

I'm sure this review will get loads of negatives- there doesn't seem to be much appetite on Amazon for reviews that don't rave and gush about the product in hand, regardless of merit. Flame away then kids!

I also get the feeling that many of the more gushing reviewers and commentators here are new to Bill's body of work and don't realise (or care?) just how tired and recycled the core material here is. To someone coming to the material afresh, this release will represent a much more attractive proposition; they will be experiencing some of Bill's classics for the first time. However, I would still put it to them that `Dr Qui', `Insect Nation', `Terry Stole the Leg of Time' et al and all the intervening Nietzsche/'Av a banana'/Eastenders-theme-tune skits were all performed with more conviction and in sharper context within their original, less ostentatious shows; newbies who enjoyed this release are therefore highly advised to check out the two classic DVDs mentioned above; satisfaction guaranteed.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 27, 2014 7:48 PM BST


Callin' The Children Home
Callin' The Children Home
Price: 13.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure class, 2 Oct 2009
Denny Ilett is an as-yet undiscovered gem by the wider world, but those of us lucky enough to have crossed his path know better. He represents a fantastic package, with a smooth voice that conjures the feel of old blue eyes himself, a face that fits this mould too, and an absolutely wonderful guitar style. This man is a proper musician. He takes the best of a musically literate, well-honed jazz background and cuts out the self-indulgent and meandering fluff typical of the wider genre, focusing down on the more melodic and interesting components, harnessing them together with a lean, bluesy attitude. Then he adds some bite and a frequent, well-judged edge of overdrive, which immediately separates him from 95% of jazzier cats. The final key ingredient is an injection of a healthy dollop of funk, bringing real rhythmic sensibilities to his playing, and putting clear blue water between himself and the ephemeral widdling of many of his peers. Its a wonderfully compelling combination, and highly accessible and tuneful in the foot-tapping New Orleans style. If John Scofield wrote songs instead of instrumental jams, they might sound a bit like this!

The tunes are all superb, both the well-selected covers and the self-penned numbers. I particularly like the smoky, sleazy rendition of the classic Angel Eyes; the version is so authoritative that its hard to imagine that Mr Ilett didn't write it himself. Other outstanding tracks for this reviewer include the grungy stomp of 'My Babe', the dirty funk of 'Eyes in the Back of My Head', and the lovely direct jazz blues shuffles of 'Pretty Eyed Baby' and If i Had My Time Over Again', which both bring Denny's tasteful touch on the fretboard to the fore, unadorned and direct, and all the better for it.

Mr Ilett can be regularly found gigging hard in Bristol, and further afield as erstwhile musical foil for Lilian Boutte; get out and see 'em, a thoroughly enjoyable evening guaranteed! All round top bloke and unreservedly recommended to those who like their music intelligent, soulful, rooted and delivered with class.


Robert Calva: Texas Blues Guitar
Robert Calva: Texas Blues Guitar
by Robert Calva
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.94

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb introduction to proper electric blues playing, 11 May 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is an excellent book and CD. In 5 highly listenable-to and accessible tracks, Calva covers the key electric blues phrases and styles, at a range of tempos and rhythms, from slow BB-King-esque bendy blues to shuffles to driving, funky blues. It references all the greats, including BB (not texan, but his licks are in here!), Albert King, Albert Collins, Freddie King, Johnny Winter and SRV. For the player who has got a few minor pentatonic licks under their belt and wants to take this to the next level, its an unparalleled introduction, and serves as a compendium of key licks and phrases.

There is plenty to challenge, from some quick-fire licks to getting the slower, bend-based phrasing right (an essential skill), but none of it is out of reach of the 'improving' player. And unlike many books, it encourages the student to focus on the construction of the rhythm tracks too (which are also tabbed in full) in addition to the lead parts - an essential part of becoming a good player, and criminally neglected by most books!

The author also adds plenty of accompanying explanation, tips and comprehensive parting thoughts, without ever becoming tedious, and includes his 'essential albums' discography, which helped me out no end a few years back. I am now an experienced player and starting to teach too - of all the tuition books i have ever purchased, this is the one i have got the most mileage from, setting me on the right path as a blues player myself, and again for inspiration in teaching the blues to others (thanks, Robert, if you ever read this!).

Also check out Calva's other book- blues/rock guitar, also highly recommended, but only after you can nail the stuff in this book; the other one is rather more challenging throughout- lots of high tempo licks and longer, more complicated structures.


No Title Available

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb introduction to proper electric blues playing, 11 May 2009
This is an excellent book and CD. In 5 highly listenable-to and accessible tracks, Calva covers the key electric blues phrases and styles, at a range of tempos and rhythms, from slow BB-King-esque bendy blues to shuffles to driving, funky blues. It references all the greats, including BB (not texan, but his licks are in here!), Albert King, Albert Collins, Freddie King, Johnny Winter and SRV. For the player who has got a few minor pentatonic licks under their belt and wants to take this to the next level, its an unparalleled introduction, and serves as a compendium of key licks and phrases.

There is plenty to challenge, from some quick-fire licks to getting the slower, bend-based phrasing right (an essential skill), but none of it is out of reach of the 'improving' player. And unlike many books, it encourages the student to focus on the construction of the rhythm tracks too (which are also tabbed in full) in addition to the lead parts - an essential part of becoming a good player, and criminally neglected by most books!

The author also adds plenty of accompanying explanation, tips and comprehensive parting thoughts, without ever becoming tedious, and includes his 'essential albums' discography, which helped me out no end a few years back. I am now an experienced player and starting to teach too - of all the tuition books i have ever purchased, this is the one i have got the most mileage from, setting me on the right path as a blues player myself, and again for inspiration in teaching the blues to others (thanks, Robert, if you ever read this!).

Also check out Calva's other book- blues/rock guitar, also highly recommended, but only after you can nail the stuff in this book; the other one is rather more challenging throughout- lots of high tempo licks and longer, more complicated structures.


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