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Reviews Written by
mattie2 "silkiemh" (Oxford, UK)

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A Fatal Glass of Beer
A Fatal Glass of Beer
by Stuart M. Kominsky
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Toby Peters triumphs again., 10 Jan. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: A Fatal Glass of Beer (Hardcover)
kaminsky's 'Toby Peters' series constitute my favourite series of private eye novels, standing up there with the best of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. This mystery involves W.C. Fields but if you want to know more please buy the book and read it asap. I suspect you'll get hooked on this series of Hollywood Golden age mysteries too. I've moved on to 'Mildred Pierced' involving Joan Crawford (as you might expect.) One day very soon I'll exhaust the series and won't that be a tragedy..........

Forgotten Songs and Unsung Heroes/My Sportin' Life
Forgotten Songs and Unsung Heroes/My Sportin' Life
Price: £11.08

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars worthy re-issue of 2 forgotten classics, 10 Jan. 2012
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When Steppenwolf disbanded in 1972 no-one really knew what to expect from the various members of the splintered band. However, as they all had excellent pedigrees playing in bands before the 'Wolf we had high hopes they would record new stuff without delay. John Kay, the lead singer, was quick off the mark with his first solo album 'Forgotten Songs and Unsung heroes' in which he sang in homage to his heroes from the time he played bars and clubs in Toronto and New York. He followed that up with a second solo album, 'My Sporting Life' which was another excellent but eclectic group of recordings. His voice is unique and so suited to the songs on both of these albums. Stand out tracks on both albums include 'Bold Marauder' (originally by the Farinas); 'Giles of the River' (a Steely Dan original; 'heroes and devils'; 'I'm Moving On'; 'Moonshine, friend of mine' and 'Drift Away'. Sadly John was pippped by Dobie Gray with Drift Away which Gray took into the UK charts. I prefer the John kay version. On both albums he was backed by very accomplished musicians. On 'Forgotten Songs' he was backed by the John kay solo band which toured as support to Steppenwolf during the R.I.P. tour of the Uk. They appeared on the Old Grey Whistle Test on the same edition as Steppenwolf who have been captured on the OGWT dvd playing Born to be wild. It would be great to think that the John Kay Band's performance also survived. On 'Sporting Life' John was backed by the premier US session musicians of the day. Two great albums well worth checking out on this package. Only slightly sour note - the liner notes are terrible and rehash more about Steppenwolf than John's solo career which produced another solo album 'All in Good time', 'John Kay and Company' and 'Heretics and privateers' a few years later. John Kay and Steppenwolf started re-touring in the late 80's until just a year ago. John's autobiography (and the new Steppenwolf website at [...]) prove there is enough material about him and his recording career to do a new and illuminating set of liner notes.

In The Bleak Mid Winter
In The Bleak Mid Winter

5.0 out of 5 stars Xmas classic, 10 Jan. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Such a great track - hail the great digital age when you can buy 1 or 2 track without all the other hackneyed Xmas turkeys.

The Jethro Tull Christmas Album/Jethro Tull Live-Christmas At St Bride's 2008
The Jethro Tull Christmas Album/Jethro Tull Live-Christmas At St Bride's 2008

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars tull or 'not tull' - no matter - it's Ian Anderson, 13 Dec. 2011
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having previously bought the original Christmas album by Tull I was bemused when this re-issue came out with the same first disc. Why re-cycle the same cd? I'd complained about John Kay and Steppenwolf recycling tracks on albums in the 1990's and here was my other favourite band doing the same.
Shame on you I thought and for the recycled disc I almost docked this cd a star. Then I thought, that would be churlish.
Then last weekend I was in the expensive seats (Xmas pressie) for 'Canterbury Rocks at Christmas 2011' and all became crystal clear. The Canterbury set list and the St Brides set list are not identical but they are similar enough to get a flavour of what Ian Anderson is trying to do within this church/ concert setting and Tull music just fits it to a T. The St Brides set includes songs, music, readings, banter, choirs, unexpected juxtapositions and special guests. You should buy this new package for any one of many reasons:-

1. You couldn't get a ticket for the sold-out 'Canterbury rocks 2011' and want to hear what the heart of these concerts sounds like - especially the Ian Anderson/Tull part.

2. You like Christmas whimsy with a rock flavour.

3. You like to hear rock songs performed with good heart and a sense of fun.

4. You think Ian Anderson is a genius in his chosen art form and deserves a knight hood.

5. You like to sit by the Xmas tree with a glass of wine on Xmas eve and enjoy a grand musician doing what he and his chums do best - entertain us.

Until Canterbury Cathedral manage to licence the performances from 2010 and 2011 (perhaps they were not recorded at the soundboard in good enough quality) this is the next best thing. When this cd was full price (£13) the recycled 1st disc seemed like a bit of a waste (except to give away to an unsuspecting friend). At this new price this is a bargain for the St Bride's experience and the ongoing story of Ian Anderson - minstrel and maestro.

p.s. justin Hayward was awesome at Canterbury 2011 as was Bruce Dickinson - just proves that rock voices and music were meant for the ultra grand cathedral/ church setting. If all of this was Ian's idea, then he is not only a genius but a 5* genius!!!

50 Words for Snow
50 Words for Snow
Price: £7.95

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars been a long time since I listened to kate, 6 Dec. 2011
This review is from: 50 Words for Snow (Audio CD)
...... and absence does make the heart grow fonder. I like this album, a lot, but when the special edition comes out, lose the Stephen Fry vocal and keep the backing track to this 'song'. That I like, a lot. Stephen's vocal noodlings add nothing except annoyance - but hey, it wouldn't be a Kate Bush creation from the heart if it pandered to our expectations. That's part of the joy. Even Sir Elton I can take, though can't help feeling there are better singers who could have sung this track with more sensuality and feeling. Overall though, bending towards the positive, it is a deep and obscure and intelligent and strangely melodic collection of music and song which demands and requires your attention. Don't expect to skip around the Xmas tree singing 'and here it is, merry Xmas'. Sit down with a big glass of wine under some soft lights instead. It was definitely worth waiting for. This album adds a depth to the Xmas playlist that the normal Xmas fare can't. Alongside 'Ancient and Modern' by Anne Dudley or a Loreena McKennit album it sounds very good indeed.

The Impossible Dead
The Impossible Dead
Price: £5.99

10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars marking time, 26 Oct. 2011
I wasn't sure about The Complaints and its characters but now I am. Rankin is marking time until Rebus can re-emerge from retirement and is treading in Val McDermid's footsteps by setting his latest novel firmly in Fife. By the time 'the Impossible dead' gets going it's clear that the author has exhausted the novelty value of Fox, "the anti-rebus". What starts off as a 'Complaints' case soon reverts to a CID investigation as Fox takes his attention away from the original plot catalyst and starts to investigate an old crime. At one point a character questions Fox's desire to return to CID. Don't bother asking a daft question - it's clear that both Fox and Rankin want to asap. The most endearing facet to this book is the setting in Kirkcaldy and that is because I grew up there. The detail is familiar and that always strikes a chord. Unfortunately, there are times when that detail tips over into travelogue territory and I can envisage groups of Rankin loving tourists plodding along with this book in hand visiting the geographical locations and reciting verbatim the history-light detail. References to 'Braveheart' and Scots warming to the film were simply irritating. Given that there was a very strange case of assassins discovered in Kirkcaldy just as Rankin describes (not two miles from my old family home) ought to have given this story a firm foundation - actually, it just feels contrived in this plot. Fox is a lightweight character, easily distracted and lacking in depth. The plot of the book - I won't spoil it but the discovery of 'Alice Watts' new identity was daft and just a wee bit too convenient. Not a convincing addition to Rankin's impressive stable. Let's face it - a grumpy old reprobate with an attitude problem and a feisty side-kick chasing down crooks is infinitely more interesting and arresting than the police investigating their own rotten apples.

Valhalla Rising [Blu-ray]
Valhalla Rising [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Mads Mikkelsen
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: £4.65

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars even yawning is effort wasted, 12 Jan. 2011
This is an outrageous piece of mis-marketing to appeal to an action flick audience who would buy this expecting 'Thor' meets 'battle scenes in lord of the Rings.' The label 'art-house' used by other reviewers might be the nearest but even that is not close to the mark. Some very good actors obviously signed up expecting theatre on film and as a stage play I could see this working with a very narrow focus on a small ensemble of actors. The depiction of a battle scene on the cover is a charade (verging on a con) and in any subsequent advertising of this film the cover should be changed to avoid mis-leading would-be purchasers. I won't fault the acting - the cast deliver a sparse script with the kind of brooding intensity the director probably asked for, but it is so plodding it is unbearable. At the end of it I had to watch the first 10 minutes again just in case I missed the exposition whilst pouring a beer. I missed nothing - and that holds true for the other 80 minutes. This product should carry a sanity warning on its Amazon listing.

Creative Zen MX 8GB MP3 and Video Player with SD Card Slot
Creative Zen MX 8GB MP3 and Video Player with SD Card Slot

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars lovely but flawed (but needs further comment), 26 Nov. 2010
I'd like to add a comment to my earlier review:
Firstly,my mistake - I have the 16GB version, not the 8GB.
Secondly, the review updated.
I did get a replacement - actually I bought another as I wasn't convinced it was faulty - just a bad design - so I took a second chance. Thankfully I have had a better (but not perfect) experience.

1. The new one does connect up and talk to the PC and laptop every time of asking.
2. I have been able to load up with nearly 16GB of songs
3. I have been able to add a 16GB SDHC card ('Kingston' make only appears to work without problems extending the player to 32 GB - card available via Amazon)
3. It easy to manipulate via Windows media Player
4. Sound quality is excellent.

For all of these I have awarded 2 more stars.
1. The on / off switch is inferior to the early version and it takes an age of pressing to turn it on.
2. The extended memory exists only in 2 partitions - you have to edit as 'core memory' and `the card' as a separate drive, even in Windows media Player. Is that my ignorance?.
3. On random play you have to be in either `core memory' or `card' - it does not randomise between and across the separate 2 partitions. (I have loaded all Xmas songs onto the card and my normal collection into core memory)
4. The player is forever locking itself and repeatedly I have to 'unlock player' before proceeding.)
5. The player lacks the ability to record via line in - that was a big advantage for Creative over the Ipod. I like to record a lot of internet radio programmes directly onto my wee 4GB Zen V and V-PLUS players and then listen on train journeys where the radio reception can be non-existent. I'll be distraught when they give up the ghost (they do with all the pressing on their touch pad buttons. I have 7 working and have 'lost' 4 others over the years.)
6. 100 MB of space must be kept free on the player to enable it to operate.

I still like the player - my original one has now died - anyone out there repair Creative Zens? My previous comments (below) re the 4 GB versions still hold.
Comments from someone at Creative Technical would be welcome............

Previous comments:
This is my second 16Gb Zen (the other is still going as are 3 other 4Gb ones). As if to prove I couldn't get lucky twice this one is dreadful. Won't hold a connection to the pc, won't allow access to the starter pack from the files; has to be restarted with a pin after every use. I dragged files onto it and the player won't recognise them; it lost synchronisation with Windows media player after transferring one song on 8 attempts. Then I got fed up. Obviously I hope for Zen this is a rogue MX and this one is going back but what a disappointment from something which is supposed to be a 'new version' of my older one.

Sweet Silver Blues (A Garrett, P.I., Novel)
Sweet Silver Blues (A Garrett, P.I., Novel)
by Glen Cook
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £5.58

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting idea but beyond that it's dubious, 15 Oct. 2010
Review written after reading the first 2 books in the series - The idea of putting a hard-boiled P.I. into a fantasy world was a good one and the author deserves praise for that. However, beyond that initial novelty value these books are fantasy lite and detective lite. The world in which Garrett lives is not particularly well drawn and could be any fantasy land(not as well drawn as the Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger series or Gordon R Dickson's "Dragon and Jim" series) . His supporting characters are fairly stock characters with a dark-elf side-kick providing some pretty predictable muscle power. I was into the second book when the alarm bells rang and without giving anything away half way through the book I thought I was reading a nero Wolfe/ Archie goodwin pastiche, with the "resident heavy weight brains" providing the impetus for Garrett to do the "Goodwin" leg work. I will read on through book 3 as i bought all 3 together to give the series a chance and perhaps developments will pick it up again.

Two Way Split
Two Way Split
by Allan Guthrie
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars split personality review, 27 Aug. 2010
This review is from: Two Way Split (Paperback)
I've read this book twice now - once just for pleasure and once in a 'professional' sense for a conference talk. I'm left with a mixed reaction. It is a cracking read and mines a different Edinburgh than the Edinburgh of Rebus as has been alluded to in other reviews. Pearce is an excellent character and displays the characteristics I'm looking for in so-called 'tartan noir'. He is tough, violent but with a very individualistic moral code which sees him empathising with the victims of his loan shark employer rather than just kicking out in violence. His dependence on his mother could have descended into bathos if it were not the case that quite often so called 'hard men' have a reverence for family which outweighs their love of violence. Away from the pace and description which I like there's a lingering doubt about the number of themes which complicate the lives of the trio who comprise the 'post office gang'. Drug problems, mental problems, inability to consummate a relationship physicaaly, an 'affair', predisposition to violence and finally split personality. The combination threatens to swamp those 3 characters. My problem with the split personality element (and no more can be said without giving it all away) is that some of the final action seems spatially out of kilter with one person / two personalities. It seems to me that for it all to work as described there actually does need to be two separate people. I'm sure it all looked fine in Allan Guthrie's mind as he was writing it. Besides that, I would recommend this book, 'Kill Clock' and 'Hard man' in which Pearce re-appears to telling effect.

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