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Classic Fm Music For Studying
Classic Fm Music For Studying
Offered by Music-Shop
Price: £10.88

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars More Marketing Stupidity..., 27 Dec. 2012
Listening to classical music is life enhancing and can be a profound experience, but most people either can't be bothered to put the effort in or are too stupid to make sense of it.

Let's face it, real classical music comes in long complicated movements, sometimes four of them to one symphony, with no pictures to keep people interested. For this reason, devious marketing men (and women) have been racking their brains for years trying to come up with ever-new and pathetic ways to sell this stuff to people who don't like it, by associating it with things that really have nothing to do with music or its appreciation i.e.studying; relaxation; meditation; chilling-out; sleeping...anything but actually listing to the damn music.

You see, the devious marketing men (and women) know all too well that you, the "common-man-in-the-street" and you too "Mr & Mrs ordinary" get all confused and bored and annoyed by classical music. BUT, wait! What if they tell you that you can DO THINGS to it and don't have to listen to it at all? All you need to do is put it on and ignore it...hey presto...you're an instant culture vulture. You must be,you bought this damn "classical" cd didn't you?

Well, here it is, another of those desperate attempts at conditioning malleable consumers into believing that classical music is something you put on in the background while you do other things. Pathetic? Yes!

I recommend you don't buy this cd but buy a good, complete version of Beethoven's 5th piano concerto instead. Then I recommend that you sit down and listen to it all the way through without interruption. Once you've done that, listen to it again and again and again until the veil falls from your eyes,the wax from your ears, and you finally comprehend what this "classical" music is really all about. "Classic FM Music For Studying" Dear God, are we really this gullible?
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 10, 2014 6:56 PM GMT


Excalibur [1981] [DVD]
Excalibur [1981] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Nigel Terry
Price: £8.03

1 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars An epic failure, 29 Oct. 2012
This review is from: Excalibur [1981] [DVD] (DVD)
I'm constantly amazed at the amount of praise heaped upon this hilariously botched attempt at movie making.

For the most part it is unintentionally hilarious but, conversely,the attempts at humour are cringe-worthy and totally out of character with Malory's telling of the tale. If you haven't read Malory, I urge you to do so, and make sure it's not a present-day English version.

But back to the movie; the acting, save that of, perhaps, Helen Mirren, is truly awful. The Irish accents don't help either. (If anything,shouldn't they be Welsh) Merlin reads his lines, and I emphasise 'reads', like a poor Shakespearian actor, putting emphasis on all the wrong words.

The movie has all the hallmarks of those dreadfully cheap and badly dubbed foreign movies that used to pop up on TV, which is strange since it's all in English.In fact, it reminds me of The Flashing Blade (who remembers that?) Indeed, the dubbing is so appallingly done that there are scenes where the actors are quite visibly *not* moving their mouths yet the director has gone ahead and dubbed dialog over the top.

At times it's hard to know if one is watching a failed comedy or a failed 'epic'. Personally, I go for 'epic failure'. Some scenes would not be out of place in Python's 'Holy Grail' - the crowd scenes, for instance "LET THE BOY DO IT". Hilarious!

As for the soundtrack; we get to hear badly edited snippets of Wagner and Orff that fade in and out at random. some of Sigfried's funeral march from Gotterdamerung gets a few airings and there's a snippet of the prelude from Tristan and Isolde, again used very ham-fistedly to show the attraction between Guenevere and Lancelot. Some of 'Parsifal' is also heard. In between the Wagner and Orff there's some other music I don't recognise. I presume it was written for the film. Whatever it is, it's not really in character with Wagner's music. All in all, it's one big mess of a movie. A real shocker!
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 25, 2014 1:34 AM GMT


Richard Wagner: The Man, His Mind and His Music
Richard Wagner: The Man, His Mind and His Music
by Robert W. Gutman
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Work of Fiction, 21 Jan. 2011
This book is filled with so much nonsense that it defies belief. Gutman mistakenly believed that Wagner was heavily influenced by the racial theorist Count Gobineau. There is no shred of evidence to support this notion but much evidence to disprove it.

The description of the homosexual subtexts that the author believes exists in 'Parsifal' and 'Tristan' and which he goes to great and absurd lengths to "expose" to us, never fails to make me laugh. Unfortunately, and somewhat disturbingly, this wretched book has been very influential in shaping a grossly distorted image of Wagner's music - an image that most people now hold to be the truth and nothing but the truth.

It's a great tragedy that, in this day and age, the database on Wagner doesn't seem to have been and updated, especially in the light of the publication of Cosima Wagner's diaries, and the recent scholarship on Wagner, which now show in no uncertain terms that Gutman's book is filled with unmitigated nonsense, as is Rauching's book which Gutman places such faith in. It's time this book was removed from that database or at least flagged with the header 'Caution; Work Of Fiction'.


The Beatles In Mono
The Beatles In Mono
Price: £122.78

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Whole again, 24 Dec. 2009
This review is from: The Beatles In Mono (Audio CD)
Being a child of the 60s, I grew up with the beatles music all around me. I knew all the songs without ever having listened to any of their albums. I even had a plastic beatles wig. (probably worth a fortune now) By the time I was a teenager in the 70s, I had completely forgotten about the Beatles. It wasn't until I was in my mid 30s that I decided to actually go and investigate their music. That's when I realised how much I actually loved it and how big an impression it had made on me all those years ago. So, in the 90s, I actually bought and listened to a few of their CDs for the first time. Primarily all of their releases after Rubber Soul. But I was very perplexed at what I heard. Why were the drums all crammed into one channel? Why were the vocals over on the other channel? Why is the whole balance disturbingly lopsided? Why does it sound like a science experiment that's gone horribly wrong? I had no idea. It must have been how they did things in the 60s. But that didn't make sense either. I own a few 60s albums, Jimmi Hendrix; The Nice; Yes; The Doors, none of these albums have off-putting, lopsided stereo positioning. I left it at that and questioned no more, content to enjoy the fantastic music and inventive arrangements, but I've never, ever felt comfortable with the stereo positioning on those Beatles cds. It's always sounded wrong and, quite frankly, inept to my ears.

You can imagine how astonished I was to hear, only a few months ago, that these albums where originally conceived and mixed to be listened to in mono, and that the stereo mixes of all but three were afterthoughts done for the American market, and that there was a box set available of all of the original mono mixes. At last, my skepticism of the quality of those stereo mixes had been vindicated. Naturally, I had to have this box set.

Well, now I've got it and am hard pressed to fault it. At last, Sgt Pepper; Revolver and Magical Mystery Tour sound whole, and no longer sound as though they've been mixed by a three year-old. The remastering sounds fine to me, especially considering that the oldest original master tape is almost 50 years-old and the newest, about 40. Bearing that in mind, these remasters sound remarkable and are fitting tributes to George Martin and the Engineers who worked on the originals. But the biggest plus factor is the fact that they are all in mono, and the overall mix no longer sounds horribly disembodied and sterile.

The other real bonus with this mono set is the packaging. The original album covers and artwork, inner sleeves etc, have all been reproduce in miniature, as only the Japanese can do. Even the way the sleeves are glued together is totally authentic, with the folding edges on the outside, as was the standard procedure in the 60s. The set is expensive. But, for me, worth it, as I never did like those damn stereo mixes.


Lost in Translation [DVD] [2004]
Lost in Translation [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Bill Murray
Price: £4.08

4 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Emperor isn't wearing any clothes, 23 Nov. 2009
This is a third-rate movie that treds desperately-worn ground i.e. old,lonely,world-weary man meets young,lonely,insecure girl.Ring any bells? There is practically no plot to speak of but there are long stretches of tedium that appear to be unscripted. When the script is in evidence, prepare yourself for infantile cliches such as: "I just don't know who I'm suppose to be" Oh,God!!! Did someone really write that while keeping a straight face? Then there's the brain-numbing scene set in a karaoke bar, at which we're meant to feel pangs of empathy (does empathy come in 'pangs? I don't know)with these two miserable souls who are making the most of their time together by getting drunk and singing in a Karaoke bar...Yes, I know, it sounds like a Christmas episode of Eastenders. If watching people performing in a Karaoke bar is your idea of 'art' then go for it. This is the movie for you. The acting is as good as can be expected from a film with such a dreadful, embarrassing script. All in all, this is a decidedly low-brow movie masquerading, unsuccessfully, as art. The strange thing is, the trailer for the move, which was shown on tv at the time of release, made the movie look almost like a cheap slap-stick comedy. The scrip (what there is of one)is certainly hilarious; though unintentionally so.


Frank Zappa - in Barcelona [DVD]
Frank Zappa - in Barcelona [DVD]
Dvd ~ Frank Zappa

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Chance To See The Best Band You've Never Seen In You Life, 11 Oct. 2008
This DVD doesn't appear to be an official Zappa Family Trust release, so I imagine someone is about to be issued with a law suit very soon. It's a miracle it's is so freely available. I've no idea who has the rights to it,who filmed it or why, but I'm very glad it exists. It is, as far as I know, the only professionally filmed release of a *complete* Zappa concert out there . Not even Zappa released videos or dvds of his entire shows. For this reason alone, it's worth having.

The concert was filmed in 1988 in Barcelona, Spain, and, apart from a very bad edit right in the middle of 'Packard Goose', it is a complete 2 hour + show ( including encores. ) and featuring the amazing ten-piece band that Zappa eventually disbanded due to internal conflicts between the bass player and just about everyone else in the band. The picture quality on the DVD isn't perfect but entirely watchable and the sound quality is ok - not audiophile standards by any means, but if you know not to expect perfect sound quality, you probably won't mind. There are several dropouts in sound throughout the dvd, (maybe about 15 in all) but they're very, very brief and don't really interfere with the flow of the music.

Highlights are: the amazing segue of Stravinsky's 'Little March' and Bartok's piano concerto, complete with mock ballet moves from Zappa; a fine version of 'Watermelon in Easter Hay'; ditto 'Black Napkins' and 'Torture never stops', plus a great version of Big Swifty, featuring a crazy improvised section in which Zappa plays the Synclavier whilst conducting the band. There's even a splendid reggae version of Ravel's Bolero. The show ends with a wonderful rendition of 'Strictly Genteel'.

All in all a very satisfying DVD, mainly because it's two hours of uninterrupted live footage of a compete show. And apart from the one edit mentioned above, there are no edits back and forth in time and no edits between different versions of the same tune, something Zappa was prone to do on cd and dvd. It's an untampered with performance, happening in real time. If you like the 88 band's take on things then buy this cd post haste because it might not be around for too long. Having said that, it's all up on Utube and torrent sites so you can always get it there.

1. THE BLACK PAGE
2. PACKARD GOOSE
3. SHARLEENA
4. BAMBOOZLED BY LOVE
5. BLACK NAPKINS
6. WHEN THE LIE'S SO BIG
7. PLANET OF THE BARITONE WOMEN
8. ANY KIND OF PAIN
9. JESUS THINKS YOU'RE A JERK
10. SOFA
11. FIND HER FINER
12. BIG SWIFTY
13. I AINT'GOT NO HEART
14. LOVE OF MY LIFE
15. THE TORTURE NEVER STOPS
16. BOLERO
17. WATERMELON IN EASTER HAY
18. WHIPPING POST
19. I AM THE WALRUS
20. THE ILLINOIS ENEMA BANDIT
21. STRICTLY GENTEEL


Symphonies Nos. 4 And 5 (Walter, Nypo, Halban)
Symphonies Nos. 4 And 5 (Walter, Nypo, Halban)

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A GREAT HISTORICAL DOCUMENT, 26 Sept. 2008
The music on this cd was recorded in the 1940s - the 4th, in 1945 at The Carnegie Hall, the 5th, in 1947 in Los Angeles, and was originally available on vinyl 78 rpm. This digital transfer was taken from the original lacquer masters. The sound is surprisingly good under the circumstances. The faint crackle of the old lacquer masters can still be heard, but this doesn't interfere with the music at all. Just don't expect an audiophile experience, and you won't be disappointed. As an historical document it is of great interest, as we can hear Walter conducting the New York Philharmonic at a time when it still contained some of the musicians that played under the direction Mahler when he was its principal conductor.

The timings are interesting: the 4th is about 50 minutes-long, and the 5th is 61 minutes-long. Even Boulez, a conductor known for his brisk tempi, brings the 4th home at 53 minutes, and the 5th at 72 mins - a whole 11 minutes longer than Walters rendition. Under Walter's baton the adagietto of the 5th lasts a brief 7 minutes. Compare that with Boulez's 11 minutes or Karajan's 11:50. I can't remember how long Bernstein takes with the adagietto - I dread to think. I suppose the title is a bit contradictory 'Adagietto sehr langsam'. If it's to be played 'very slow' why isn't it called an 'adagio'. In this case, most conductors seem to treat the term 'adagietto' as a diminutive - 'a little adagio'. Walter, on the other hand, seems to interpret it in its musical sense - 'a slightly faster adagio' despite the 'sehr langsam'.

If you're a Mahler and Walter enthusiast, this cd is essential. Then again, If you're a Mahler and Walter enthusiast, you probably have it already.


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