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Richard Gollin "ScottishRichard" (Scotland)
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Live At Sun
Live At Sun
Offered by raucous-records
Price: £10.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Top Artist., 17 Jun. 2016
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This review is from: Live At Sun (Audio CD)
I had the pleasure and privilege of seeing Paul Ansell live (in Beckenham of all places) last year. The simple fact is that he should be playing to packed audiences 3 nights in a row in the Albert Hall . An expert in writing and playing what might be called rock-a-billy or rock and roll but it is maybe this pigeonholing which means that only a minority have heard of him.

Someone like Emelda May could be more famous in this section of the market but, having seen them both, I can say that Paul Ansell's band is superior by far and up with such famous groups as the Hot Band for both individual playing and togetherness. Some of their output might be called cover versions but on songs from Sea of Heartbreak to King for Tonight they put entirely their own stamp on the music.

This is part album and part tribute to the Sun label and studios so important in the history of rock music. This particular pilgrimage results in ansell playing with the house band for Elvis and the others and he is not overshadowed at all.

Great album , well recorded ;get all his albums and head out to whatever dive he is appearing at and enjoy one of the world's top bands.


A Month in the Country (Penguin Modern Classics)
A Month in the Country (Penguin Modern Classics)
by J. L. Carr
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece, 17 Jun. 2016
EL Whistey used to say that, in art, a masterpiece is where the "Eyes follow you round the room". My own (equally feeble) definition in literature is that you care about the people in the book and may be bereft when the book ends and they 'leave' you.

I have read other Carr novels where you do not necessarily care for the main characters but , with J.L Carr, you may not be meant to. By all accounts an eccentric man who admitted to proof reading after publication and whose body of work includes widely different novels.The amazing thing about this book is that you care for almost everyone in the book including some of those who are less than pleasant. I have just read novels by such writers as Richard Flannagan and Peter May where you do not care about any of the characters at all. So I have no idea of the techniques or skill needed but I am thankful for the chance to read it.

In many ways this is a first world war book yet it is written 50 years later, well after the second war. Also a book about those damaged in any way and , without spoiling the slim plot, it is very emotionally draining and ends far too soon when you want more, more, more.Going to try the fillum next; it sort of got released without anyone noticing..


Research
Research
by Philip Kerr
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Great idea., 31 May 2016
This review is from: Research (Paperback)
What on earth is this book doing buried on page 2 or 3 of Mr Kerr's books?

The plot may creak a little in the second half especially near the end (can't tell you without spoiling the plot) but it is still a really great idea and the first half of the book is almost perfect. If the reviewers who want only Bernie from Mr Kerr do not watch out , the writer might bump off the old soldier!


The Other Side of Silence: Bernie Gunther Thriller 11 (Bernie Gunther Mystery 11)
The Other Side of Silence: Bernie Gunther Thriller 11 (Bernie Gunther Mystery 11)
by Philip Kerr
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.91

5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary!, 31 May 2016
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This is an extraordinary book. For a start it may not deserve 5 , or even 4, stars if you like being totally logical about the plot but it is a return to top form for war- (and-everything-else-) weary Bernie. Here is a German whose company we like and whose Berlin jokes are very funny. Whether Berliners are actually like that or not we will probably never know. I wonder what the sales and reviews are like in Germany. At least we do get a British tommy hitting Bernie hard in the face and saying "To think I am being paid for this. Hell, I would do it for free!".

Anyhoos, Bernie has abandoned his Agatha Christie 'locked rooms' plots (hope that McGhinty does too!) and is turning into a sort of Biggles. We have had Biggles (sorry- Bernie) in Switzerland and Croatia and now we get Bernie in France . And, as with Biggle in France, it is one of the best. It is really about British (sorry- Soviet) spies. Now you could argue that the section on British/Soviet espionage is handled too lightly and the section on the Russian occupation of East Prussia is also lighter than all the books I have read on that (for Germans) unmitigated disaster. But Bernie somehow stays aloof from the war, the Nazis, the French and the British. He survives nightmares with his humour. So we get a laugh , a thriller and lots of history all in one book.

Can't wait to see where Biggles goes next. We already know he had a spell in Russia....


Germany's V-2 Rocket (Schiffer Military History Book)
Germany's V-2 Rocket (Schiffer Military History Book)
by Gregory P. Kennedy
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £33.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Definitive Story., 31 May 2016
This is an outstanding book. About the 5th I have with the same title; maybe the first was by Dornberger himself...

There are so many pitfalls for any writer on the V2 or Von Braun. The latter was a professional chameleon who could charm anyone he wanted to. This means that you never meet an American who does not think that he was wonderful. This can result in books by the like of Ordway that verge on hero worship or the Script to the bio-pic 'I aim for the Stars' which aimed to get Von Braun accepted by the American people.

On the other hand you never meet a Brit who did not loathe and detest the man. My father both visited Dora and interrogated VB in 1945 and recommended that he should be tried as a war criminal and hung! Famed British film director J Lee Thompson was (mistakenly?) given the bio pic to direct and the result was a simple case of hate at first sight. Above all the French and the Poles would simply never let the history of Dora just go away the way the US government and NASA hoped it would. Despite all the rockets, ICBMs, satellites and the moon, these countries accounted for the most part of the 20,000 plus who died at Dora (the largest number of deaths in a non jewish camp).

The normally superb Frank Winter tries juggling the great and the awful in his VB biography and it seems it just can not be done.

Except, along comes Mr Kennedy with what might seem yet another book on the German rockets. I have a Globe Wernicke book case almost full of them.But Mr Kennedy's book is in many ways a masterpiece.

For a start he gets right into the technical development of the main parts of the V2, many of which had very little to do with VB. Amazingly rocket men in Germany, Russia and the UK all began by reading the published work of secretive American scientist Goddard who was rather ignored in the US. As liquid fuels were a new science there were a number of problems to be solved, some of the main ones being the fuel, the fuel pumps (only firefighting pumps could handle the sheer quantity), the combustion chamber, the guidance giros and the guidance vanes which ended up being made of graphite.Mr Kennedy goes through all these problems and more and makes clear that the weapon was way short of development time with tens of thousands of changes to the end.

Then Mr Kennedy painstakingly goes through the attitude of the Nazi leadership to the project. After the fall of Paris when the war was 'won', Hitler had no time or funds for new developments. This cost huge amounts of time for both aircraft and rockets. If Hitlers on-off-off-on support was vital in the history, so was the in fighting among the Nazi leaders. Himler really wanted to gain control of the rocket and eventually he did...

Then the book goes on with the development and production of the V2; Peenemunde , Blizna and....Dora. I know much was made of the intelligence which led to the bombing of Peenemunde and the gathering of parts and details later from senior German PoWs in the UK, at Blizna and in Sweden (a swap deal for Spitfires...) and I know that this is the basis of David Irving's excellent 'The Mares Nest'. But I wonder if this was not all cover for things they already knew from decoding messages at Bletchley.. Anyhow, Kennedy does not hide anything about Dora but makes sure we understand who was in charge of production at each stage; these were men who, despite the bombing, had made sure that production of planes, tanks, railway locomotives peaked in 1944. And at a time when all able bodied men were sucked into the Eastern front. These achievements were not made by the UK or American ways of employing women, music-while-you-work and a finished aircraft to walk past at the factory gates. The German business model was based on unfed slaves violently ruled by political prisoners (often ex communists which amused the Nazis). So Kennedy does not ignore Dora, or make excuses or particularly inform us that some of the main members of VBs team including his brother, were involved in production on a daily basis.

Then we get to the real meat of the book which was the operation of the missile. And this is just an amazing eye-opener. Firstly there is the Wagnerian idea of huge bomb proof concrete rocket launching centres. There is the repeated idea that Hitler continued with them after even he knew they would be useless as they diverted bombs from Germany. I do not quite buy that...

But one can not argue with the field methods for firing a hopelessly undeveloped and unreliable rocket. I had no idea that it took a team of hundreds of (supposedly) highly trained men to launch each and every rocket. And all to launch a pretty piddly warhead way smaller than the load carried by a decent Lancaster bomber every night! And with even less accuracy (if that were possible, and it was after the use of pathfinders came in) than Bomber Harris could manage with his heavy bombers. Admittedly , with its lack of warning and tremendous speed of impact, the V2 was a major fright. But there were simply not enough of them, they were nowhere near 'sorted' and took an army of men to service. This is the main tenet of the book and it is clearly and concisely explained. Pretty well what each man in a V2 team had to do.

I am glad that the author considers Antwerp in some detail. It was the major port for allied supplies and the major target for the V2 which hit the city thousands of times ...but without interrupting the use of the port.

The book very simply goes on to explain what happens to the main scientists after the war; with the help of excellent modern research into Russian rocket programmes, and the attempts by the US, England, France and Russia to fire left over V2s after the war. This did not turn out to be at all just a matter of standing up a rocket and firing it!

Do I have any quibbles? Well , I thought that the Operation Paperclip German scientists were housed in an atmosphere of factional hostility and even violence at the old boys school centre at Dayton USAF base. Last year I had a somewhat illicit wander around this vast base to pretty well find the area!This knowledge only came from Annie Jacobsen's book on the subject so I might be wrong.I would have liked more on the use of cottage industries in the Harz mountains to produce components locally..

I forgot to mention that this excellent book is superbly illustrated with photos to actually support the text. Can not wait to read the authors book on White Sands. I have not been there yet but I have been to Woomera which deserves an accurate history of its own.


Bobby Vee Meets The Crickets / I Remember Buddy Holly
Bobby Vee Meets The Crickets / I Remember Buddy Holly
Price: £15.06

4.0 out of 5 stars Massively under-rated singer., 31 Oct. 2015
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Highly recommended. Bobby Vee has been very under-rated in the history of pop music. These albums show how he put his own stamp on Buddy Holly songs , did not try to impersonate the star whose death led to his big chance.

If you (like myself) were a child in the early 60s then you already know that his massive hits like Rubber Ball , Take Good Care of My Baby, Walking with my Angel were outstanding. The best song writers wrote for him. He was probably Liberty's most reliable hit maker.

As I write this the singer is not well and has recently stopped touring after a superbly long career. A big highlight for us is that he winked at my wife while playing in Orlando about 25 years ago!


Autogiro: Rotary Wings Before the Helicopter
Autogiro: Rotary Wings Before the Helicopter
by Arthur W. J. G. Ord-Hume
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £49.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Pre History of the Helicopter. Terrific., 31 Oct. 2015
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It is clear that one reviewer takes major issue with this book. For all I know Or Hume does not know his swash plates or his thrust lines. But that is not at all the point of this book. In reality for anyone looking at the history of rotary flight before Sikorsky (and various 'bastard' projects afterwards) this provides a magnificent book. It covers the history from Da Vinci to the Fairy Rotordyne. The latter was a particular favourite of mine at Farnborough; as a child I especially liked the noise! It is very sad that there are just a few relics left of it down in Weston Supermare. But you can get a brilliant model from Helmet Models.

The book is as fully illustrated as possible and summarizes the various licenses which firms took out to make autogiros. Would have liked a picture of the Cierva post war helicopter which resolutely refused to leave the ground..but that's a helicopter!

In short, if you like helicopters (and who doesnt?) get this book to get the full back story. Highly recommended.


A Very Private Celebrity: The Nine Lives of John Freeman
A Very Private Celebrity: The Nine Lives of John Freeman
by Hugh Purcell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sorry,I'm on my own again. Absolutely awful!, 3 Oct. 2015
Sorry;I'm on my own again!

For the second time in a week I seem to be the only dissenter on a book with good reviews both in the press and on Amazon.

The first reason is the sheer boredom induced by the book. Freeman may have divided his life and wives into 10 year sections but most of the sections and wives are, in this account, downright boring. The last 40 or so years of Freeman's life, at LWT , then Davis University in California, then playing bowls in London while his 4th wife taught..just reading this must be sending you to sleep.

What about the more famous bits? The war hero ? On the staff, with medals because he actually could organise a piss-up in a brewery. The interview series comes across as very tame stuff. And it was not true that he was more famous than his subjects. Even the Gilbert Harding interview, not to say Hancock or Adam Faith, are remembered for the subject not the interviewer who wanted to remain in the shadows.

In private life there is no explanation of why he was a serial trouser swordsman with mistresses as well as 4 wives, some very dull indeed. Was it just a matter of opportunity or is the implication that he had no opinion of women true?

What is particularly disappointing is the writing by Hugh Purcell.There is no doubt that the Ken Burns series on the American Civil War was a masterpiece and Mr Purcell was involved with that. Also the author explains - ad nauseam- that Mr Freeman was addicted to secrecy and kept no records. Yet Freeman did make regular appearances at interviews even if he revealed nothing and some of his political and broadcasting jobs were high profile. Someone truly dedicated to privacy would not have appeared on Desert Island Discs and the very boring choice of music seems to support the idea that , being a hard worker and with charm and looks, life just opened up to him as did women he met.

The book pauses constantly for quotes which could well have been consigned to the notes at the back. Some of these are just totally irrelevant ; quotes from boys at Freeman's school after his time and at university but with hardly a connection to Freeman. All this prevents any free flow of the narrative. A lot of words to show very little.Very disjointed, very dull.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 11, 2015 10:56 AM GMT


Jeremy Hutchinson's Case Histories: From Lady Chatterley's Lover to Howard Marks
Jeremy Hutchinson's Case Histories: From Lady Chatterley's Lover to Howard Marks
by Thomas Grant
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

7 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Should NOT have been written by a barrister OR a friend., 3 Oct. 2015
Like my use of capitals? Well this book has had very good reviews both in the press and by Amazon readers. So I am sorry to ..er..spoil the parade but I thought this book was beyond awful and into the world of cringe-worthy.

Do not worry; if you like Rumpole and you think the law is one merry jape, you will love this book. Even the cover has its tongue firmly in it's cheek. But it's not the tongue of author Grant that I worry about ;it is his nose. Given that half of the book involves struggles against censorship it is ironic that this site has such stringent rules. So the best I can do is ask just how far the author's nose is up the anatomy of his subject. The book is so sycophantic that I can not remember one more adoring of its subject.

There are lots of mentions of wigs and learned judges but this is the law for TV, not for people ever involved. Funny that in real life you never meet anyone with similar experiences of Barristers or, worse still QCs. Along with judges and solicitors they are all part of a chummy, clubby group of people who work and socialise together and have no experience of ordinary life and no wish to experience it. My own favourite experience of the law was a lengthy planning public inquiry where one side employed no fewer than 8 barristers, all on the meter of a large company. The chairperson of the planning inquiry knew all these people, took her meals with them and refused to allow almost all the evidence of the handful of 'ordinary people' against them. In their interest they kept the public inquiry going for over 4 months and successfully blocked any attempt to actually visit the site involved. It was such a pleasure for us to win but they did not care as they all had 4 months with their snouts in the trough.

Mr Grant is unable to extract his nose to look at how the workings of the law go against almost all ideas of natural justice. If you read the excellent novels of Denise Mina you will find that a character goes to the small claims court for 6 months and never sees a single case decided. That is exactly my experience as well. The whole system could be replaced by the use of arbitrators working in a strict timescale; the cost would be a fraction of the present system. As would , of course, the abolition of the gap between solicitors and barristers,let alone QCs.

Worse still Mr Grant, who also obviously is paid by the day, pads out each story to interminable length. Typically turgid court room prose. The book is particularly useless on cases well covered elsewhere. Christine Keeler? Yawn! Lady Chatterly ? Please not again. Howard Marks ? Read his own version.

The book's main strength is in describing the attempts by government to misuse the Official Secrets acts in the 1970s. Now that is genuinely funny and worthy of the 2 stars. But even here it suits Mr Grant to be very coy eg on Jonathan Aitken's later life including conviction and prison. So he ended up a proven liar...

So, none of this is for me; far too heavy and eggy a pudding for my liking.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 5, 2015 9:16 PM GMT


Just Passin' Through by Tammy Fassaert (2007-12-25)
Just Passin' Through by Tammy Fassaert (2007-12-25)

5.0 out of 5 stars Just Outstanding, 2 Oct. 2015
Just Outstanding album; a great introduction to a singer and musician not that well known in Blighty. Lovely sad voice, brilliant arrangements , especially the use of the banjo. Contains the stand out song 'You never Said Goodbye'. Try this!


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