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Azz McMahon (NSW, Australia)

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Count Duckula - The Complete Collection [DVD] [1988]
Count Duckula - The Complete Collection [DVD] [1988]
Dvd ~ Mark Edward Hall
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £15.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Transylvanian Nostalgic Blues, 19 Aug. 2010
Ah... another 80's television classic - Count Duckula is still as spry and amusing as it was back when it was first broadcast.

Anyone who has a soft spot for Hammer Horror, or classic Gothic horror in general will have a love for this series - it takes a lot of the classic horror movie ingredients - a servant named Igor (incidentally, my favourite character, as I love his saturnine wit and his anguish at trying to return our vegetarian, comical hero Count Duckula to the traditional maiden biting ways of his forefathers), the intrepid (and incompetent, quite barking mad) vampire hunter in Dr. Von Goosewing, and of course there's the scared villagers at the bottom of the castle and the klutzy but definitely mother hen, Nanny.

The series has it's ups and downs, but there are still the laughs, the horrendously bad puns, and the classic horror trappings that make this show wonderful.

This show is for everyone to see, and as one fellow scribe has pointed out - David Jason - the voice of the Count himself, has rarely been better in his voice over work.

This show is immortal - much like the good count himself, and I still find myself even now singing along to the catchy theme tune every now and then...

A huge thank you to Cosgrove studios for making Count Duckula come to unlife - here's to it hopefully being relaunched in the future - but same style as the 80's stuff eh?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 27, 2011 5:41 PM BST

Trap Door Series 1 & 2 [DVD] [1984]
Trap Door Series 1 & 2 [DVD] [1984]
Dvd ~ William Rushton
Offered by Leisurezone
Price: £3.78

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 80's television classic, 19 Aug. 2010
The Trap Door is a series I fondly remember growing up with, and my younger siblings are also fans of the lovable blue blob Berk - master chef and all around slave of the Thing Upstairs, and his companions, the talking skull Boni (with his dry sense of humour), and the strange "pet" Drutt.

There is a trap door in their spooky old castle, which either gets opened by some plasticine Lovecraftian horror from below, or by Berk through boredom or accident and hilarity ensues.

This might be crude by today's animation, but the Trap Door really is classic children's television.

I hope to share this slice of my childhood with my nieces one day, and hopefully make them love the Trap Door as much as I do.

I'm surprised there hasn't been a techno remix of the theme tune either - as it was very synth-pop for the time (I guess I can be thankful for small mercies).

The disc is somewhat bereft of extras, but all the episodes are there, which is the main reason for purchase.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 13, 2010 4:43 PM GMT

Raw [DVD] [1987] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Raw [DVD] [1987] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ J.K.Rowling
Offered by AbundaTrade
Price: £2.48

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Raw Murphy, 19 Aug. 2010
Following on from Delirious, and successful films such as 48 Hours and Trading Places, Murphy returns to the stage to give us another dose of sex, coarse language, social satire and laughs.

As the title suggests, this isn't quite as accessible as Delirious, and is probably a little more offensive and cruder, but it's still funny.

Once again he rolls out the impersonations - Mr. T and Michael Jackson appear again - this time looking to beat him up for his jokes about them on Delirious, and he adds Bill Cosby chastising him for cursing and Richard Pryor as well - a not so tongue in cheek homage of two comedy legends who were an influence on him.

He discusses the dangers of AIDS in the 80's, women's viewpoints (in a decidedly camp voice - but he's having a ball out there and the ladies seem to agree with him from the roars of the audience), the reasons not to get married such as divorce, and talks about Italian/African American relations after seeing Rocky.

He also gives us another dose of his father, and a childhood memory of his mother making a burger for him - both hilarious stories.

Murphy touches a lot of things at home base, as Pryor and Cosby did before him, and it's a shame he decided to continue acting to some point - though he gave us many great films afterwards - and he left while he was on top.

Watch Delirious first, then if you liked that, you should enjoy Raw.

Viva la Murphy!

Eddie Murphy - Delirious [DVD]
Eddie Murphy - Delirious [DVD]
Dvd ~ Bruce Gowers
Offered by 247dvd
Price: £4.92

5.0 out of 5 stars Delirious, 19 Aug. 2010
During the early 80's, before Eddie Murphy became an international star, he cut his teeth as a stand up comedian - and this concert took stand up comedy to a whole new level.

A lot of people have commented on his elevation of the stand up comic to rock star status, and from the start of the film with his crew and arrival in Washington DC by plane, you can see why.

Once he starts, it's pretty much laugh after laugh - and although he is basically doing a Richard Pryor show (and Murphy is a renowned fan of Pryor's work), Eddie's charisma, and the addition of impressions of famous celebrities such as Mr. T, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley and James Brown, as well as his little hints of singing (I think he might have had a few hits if he'd chosen to sing - he certainly did a credible Michael Jackson and a sidesplitting Godfather of Soul).

His comedy will be offensive to some minorities (in particular homosexual people)- but it shows the 80's and the days when Political Correctness - the Big Brother of Censorship (and boredom!) wasn't watching, you could be controversial like this and most people would get over it.

His stories of the Ice Cream Van, family times such as Bath time and the annual 4th of July cookout are hilarious (and again, show a direct link to Richard Pryor's work, with a slight touch of Bill Cosby, though way more blue), and are both touching, and hilarious at the same time.

An essential comedy purchase in it's own right, and for those adults who have only seen Eddie in recent films (though I find that hard to believe), Delirious is Murphy at his prime, before the serious money and "serious" roles of an actor came in.

Chemical Wedding
Chemical Wedding
Offered by Musicland Ltd
Price: £7.93

5.0 out of 5 stars The Chemical Wedding, 19 Aug. 2010
This review is from: Chemical Wedding (Audio CD)
After a couple of experimental albums which were hit and miss and a return to metal via Accident of Birth, Bruce Dickinson seemed to be back on course for regaining his glory days again.

Add Adrian Smith to the already impressive talents of Roy Z and the Band of Gypsies, and the works of poet and artist William Blake, and perhaps some influences from Alistair Crowley, and they created the Chemical Wedding, an album which is not only in my opinion Bruce's finest solo work, but it's better than anything he's done since returning to Iron Maiden with Mr.Smith alongside.

This album is at times bone crushingly heavy with songs like King in Crimson (not about the prog band King Crimson), Killing Floor and Machine Men. At other times it's epic like The Chemical Wedding, The Gates of Urizen and the Alchemist, and it has the obligatory power ballad in the folk flavoured Jerusalem, which is based on Blake's poem The Songs of Experience, and uses verses from it as lyrics - brilliant stuff.

In short it's varied, with terrific musicianship from all involved, and whilst Bruce will not touch again the voice he had back in the 80's, even with the raspier, less operatic style he has now, he still delivers the goods.

And there's also narrative from Arthur Brown as well which adds an extra touch of class as well.

If you like intelligent, old school heavy metal, you can't really go wrong with this album.

Give it a listen and see what you think (and don't forget to bang that head!)


4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Forbidden, Not Forgotten, 18 Aug. 2010
This review is from: Forbidden (Audio CD)
After the Cross Purposes line up split up after the tour, it was a wonder that there was a Black Sabbath left to do anything.

After Cross Purposes Live was released, there didn't seem a reason to keep going - but with a couple of albums owing to IRS Records, Tony Iommi, Tony Martin and Geoff Nicholls were rejoined by Neil Murray and Cozy Powell to record the Forbidden album - one which took 9 days from start to finish - making it the fastest recorded Sabbath album since Paranoid.

An underrated album, very heavy, but lacking a bit of focus - made as a get out of contract record - but I've heard worse examples.

Cops a lot of flak for the mix - which is very murky, but it's closer to the Sabbath sound than it has been in years - the drum sound is appalling though, not having the classic Cozy Powell sound - which would have helped immeasurably here - and Neil Murray's bass and Geoff Nicholls' keys are horribly mixed.

A lot of people also don't like the fact that hip-hop legend Ice-T appears as a guest on the album; nor do they like that Ernie C - Body Count's guitarist was the producer. They were due only to appear on the first song of the album, but Iommi liked the vibe and ease of working with the duo and kept Ernie C on, with Ice T becoming the first guest vocalist on a Sabbath album.

Personally, I don't think Ernie C's done a bad job with the production, given it's short gestation time - and the sound is a lot rawer - probably the rawest since '83's Born Again album.

Allegedly, IRS executives wanted the band to sound more "Soundgarden" and may have tampered with the mix - but even if they had, they wouldn't have altered the sound too much.

Trackwise there are 10 songs on the album (11 if you have the Japanese pressing).

THE ILLUSION OF POWER - This song is definitely Sabbath - brooding, dark, heavy and slow. Tony Martin's vocals are unlike previous efforts - there are no multi layered vocals and his sound is a lot rawer and less polished - he wanted to capture the raw vibe of the music and it shows. Ice T raps on this song, and it fits quite well. The guitar is loud and in your face - in fact Tony's guitar sound is quite good on this album.

GET A GRIP - A simple repeated riff by Iommi here, but it works for me. He steps up the tempo with Murray and Powell towards the end, but he doesn't do a bad job. This is a song about the state of the world - interesting Martin writes "Will the Youth find the proof for a revolution?" eerily echoing sentiments on Children of the Grave, which also protests about the way things were in the early 70's, showing that nothing ever really changes.

CAN'T GET CLOSE ENOUGH - This one has an unusual riff to start with, but soon clicks into a classic Iommi riff - Martin croons one minute and then shouts the next in a song about troubles with relationships and is a solid rocker.

SHAKING OFF THE CHAINS - A more technical Sabbath track here, with Iommi and Powell locking into a 7/4 time signature riff - unfortunately, despite this experimental style, and the impressive uptempo riffage of Iommi later on, Tony Martin seems to fail to lock onto a melody to go across the song and sings basically the main riff in a dull monotonous way - and this is pretty much a dull and monotonous song.

I WON'T CRY FOR YOU - The ballad of the album, and despite the overtreated guitars and some watery bass, this song works well for what it is. Great vocals from Martin and some good work from Iommi during the solos. Again, this is a song about relationships - but it shows that Martin is over being used and refuses to show any misery over what has happened. Good song.

GUILTY AS HELL - Another standard Sabbath track - certainly not one that is spectacular, but Martin's vocals are good once again.

SICK AND TIRED - With a tried and tested Cozy Powell flurry to enter proceedings, the album adds a blues side to it. Trouble is, it's been done by practically every blues band on the planet - and Sabbath have done so as well during earlier albums. Some good work by all involved, but seriously mediocre and most likely you'll press the skip button unless blues is your thing.

RUSTY ANGELS - This one is a melodic number, and not bad at all - lyrically it's about war planes that are antiques and no longer used as war machines - during the solo riff though Iommi bombs out riff wise and in there is a riff that is very similar to Ugly Kid Joe's "Neighbor"s main one. Not a bad song though, but it doesn't raise to the heights it could have.

FORBIDDEN - This track isn't anything special lyrically, but it certainly is a catchy song with a good couple of riffs and a good solo. Nicholls adds some good counter harmony keys (and it's one of the few songs the keys are up in the mix for a change), and Powell does his typical hammerblow drumming.

KISS OF DEATH - This song is an absolute classic - easily the best song of the album, and almost the best of Tony Martin era Sabbath. 6 and a bit minutes of Black Sabbath at it's very best, and as the album fades to a ticking clock, so closes the underrated Martin era of the band.

LOSER GETS IT ALL - This song was tacked on the end of the Japanese pressing - something which should not have been done, as Kiss of Death should have been the closer - this song is a short hard rocker - personally I quite like it - good drums from Cozy on here, a solid riff from Iommi and good vocals from Martin. You can find this song on the Sabbath Stones compilation if you're interested in it.

I will say that if you liked the more polished Sabbath albums of the late 70's and 80's, you probably will not like this, as it's very different from albums like Heaven and Hell, The Eternal Idol, Headless Cross, etc.

This is a band going back to it's roots somewhat - but that's not always a bad thing.

I hate the artwork though - easily the worst Black Sabbath album cover - though I understand the band wanted to get away from the "doom and gloom" of Sabbath's image (should have changed the name from Black Sabbath then).

All in all, it's a mediocre Sabbath album, but it's nowhere near as bad as it's reputation would suggest.

Richard Pryor - Live in concert [DVD]
Richard Pryor - Live in concert [DVD]
Dvd ~ Richard Pryor
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £6.67

5.0 out of 5 stars Pryor on fire at Long Beach, 18 Aug. 2010
I was a fan of the collaborations he'd done with Gene Wilder, but had never really seen the real Richard Pryor experience and I was lucky enough to find this dvd at a market (albeit a different version without the extras).

I invited a couple of friends over for dinner and we sat down to watch - and between chokes (we should have known better really), the laughter seldom stopped.

Richard was absolutely on fire here - from talking about how he killed his car, to being attacked by his heart, his advice to "RUN!" from danger, anecdotes about being sexually molested by his pet monkey, hunting in the woodlands and tales about him and his family, to stuttering Chinese waiters and his career as a Golden Gloves boxer, Pryor showed why he is a comedy legend - and quite rightly so.

Looking at Eddie Murphy's standup comedy classics Delirious and Raw - you can see just how much of a homage it is to Richard - indeed Eddie has gone on record saying that this concert of Richard Pryor's, filmed at Long Beach, California, is the number one comedy film of all time - I'm not sure if that's the case depending on your taste of comedy, but few can argue of the quality of Richard's performance here.

He is manic one moment, uproariously uncouth (certainly for the 70's), and heartwarming the next. He performs skilled physical comedy, he makes amusing social satire of his audience, regardless of skin colour - and he will leave you in stitches.

If you must watch only one Richard Pryor stand up film in your life - make it this one.

Doctor Who: Dalek War (Frontier in Space / Planet of the Daleks) [DVD] [1973]
Doctor Who: Dalek War (Frontier in Space / Planet of the Daleks) [DVD] [1973]
Dvd ~ Jon Pertwee
Price: £13.20

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Draconians, Delgado and Daleks, 17 Aug. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The "epic" of the 10th anniversary season saw Frontier in Space shoehorned into Planet of the Daleks, and although it's not Doctor Who at it's prime, both stories have a lot to recommend for them.

Sure, they're padded, as any 6 parter are - and Frontier certainly loses it's way with the Doctor and Jo spending a lot of time incarcerated by practically everyone in the story and a rushed climax that doesn't give the Master the closing bow his original incarnation deserved.

Planet of the Daleks is basically the first Dalek story retold in colour - but with elements of all the other early Hartnell stories featured (as one fan quite rightly pointed out, Planet of the Daleks is the Greatest Hits package).

Frontier has matured with age - I remember not being so impressed by it on first viewing, but it has grown nicely as the relevance of some of the themes in it - such as the politics and anti-racist message still stand up even now.

Older and Wiser I guess. It is also poignant for me, being a fan of Roger Delgado as the Master - to this day there is no one who has touched his incarnation of the rogue Time Lord - and here he is at his most relaxed and playful, in his last adventure before his untimely death.

The Draconians, a superb alien race - are noble and intelligent - a strong contrast to the thuggish Ogron henchmen, and the humans are at turns taciturn, aggressive and charming depending on the characters. It's not often Who attempted space opera, but this has great model work, good characters - and although overlong, it's worth a look.

Planet of the Daleks is an explosion of colour, with a terrific jungle set made on the typical minimal Who budget. The Daleks themselves are well used, though I'd have thought that Terrance Dicks and Barry Letts might have vetoed one of the central plot lines concerning a certain number of Daleks to appear.

Old favourites Bernard Horsfall and Prentis Hancock turn up as the Thal heroes in the story, with quiet support from Tim Preece as the slightly sympathetic character Codal - and it's a very good story for Katy Manning as Jo Grant - she carries much of the first episode on her own, and is superb.

This is nothing more than a classic action-adventure serial told the Terry Nation way - and it's fun to see the Daleks acting 60's style in 70's Who.

Jon Pertwee is his usual bag of tricks, and is almost fatherly in this story - particularly towards the Thals and although writer Terry Nation provides a bit of hammy dialogue here and there - he mixes it with some great cheesy moments to make a fun slice of Who - and the Dalek Supreme (no, it's not a type of pizza) has to be seen to be believed.

The fact that episode 3 is finally recolourised for the first time since 1973 (it looks great too!) was definitely a purchase factor for me - I'd only seen it previously in black and white.

I enjoyed these stories again, seen for the first time in many years - and the commentaries are fun - Katy Manning in particular is a delight on both, with some fun anecdotes from Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks as well.

Frontier's extras also has a touching nod to the work of Roger Delgado with many people including his wife reminiscing on the life and times of one of Doctor Who's finest actors - and it speaks volumes to me that the Master is still around in the new series - though John Simms' version is but a pale imitation compared to the original.

Good fun on a 4 disc set - long live 70's Who!

The Final Frontier
The Final Frontier
Price: £12.99

10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Irons set sail for the Final Frontier, 13 Aug. 2010
This review is from: The Final Frontier (Audio CD)
It hardly seems like a decade or so since Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith rejoined Iron Maiden, but here we are, with this line-up's 4th studio effort.

This has been the first time since The X-Factor that I approached a Maiden album with an equal mix of anticipation and dread before hearing the Irons latest fruit of labour.

Happily for me at least, The Final Frontier is better than the dire A Matter of Life and Death, but it's still lacking in the quality of either Brave New World or Dance of Death.

To be fair to Maiden - they have gone for a more experimental approach on some tracks here - and this one may turn into a favourite in years to come. My review comes after a few listens, so it's subjective to the time.

There are hints of past Maiden here and there, but there is also new sounds to find - things that Maiden have added to keep themselves fresh (though we know 'Arry and the boys are evergreen).

Satellite 15... The Final Frontier is easily the most experimental track here, with a curious intro that I assume is bass and not bass synth which has guitar howls and screeches, and tribal drums from Nicko - it adds a very alien effect, and in tie with the cover artwork - which features what I call the Preddietor - is certainly a novelty for Maiden - and it fits very well - much like the Gregorian chants in Sign of the Cross usher in the bleak darkness of the X-Factor.

Halfway through it goes from this really unusual start to something a bit slower paced, but definitely more Iron Maiden in tone - Bruce is on fine form vocally, but I can't help feeling that they should have been a little more daring.

An unusual opener - but one to me at least, to be admired for it's sheer difference compared to anything Maiden has ever done before. even if it's a game of two halves.

El Dorado - This one took me a while to get to like to be honest - Steve Harris' bass is great though - I see this song sort of as a mix between something from Killers, with hints of Somewhere in Time, Fear of the Dark and Brave New World era Maiden - Bruce's lyrics about El Dorado being a state of mind where we all chase the rainbow for the gold to find nothing at the end is part cautionary tale, part social study - interesting song.

Mother of Mercy is similar to more recent Maiden tracks, and whilst nothing special to my ears, chugs along steadfastly enough.

Coming Home - the ballad of the album, feels more like a Bruce Dickinson solo effort than a Maiden song, and yet it is Maiden at the same time - It reminds me of songs like Tears of the Dragon, and Man of Sorrows tempo wise - but there is a harkening to songs like Children of the Damned and Still Life - it's faint, but it's there.

The Alchemist - A song about the infamous astrologer John Dee, brings in those famous Maiden harmonies like long lost friends - musically this isn't too far away from Fear of the Dark style Maiden - reminding me a little of Be Quick or Be Dead crossed with The Mercenary with a splash of Virus thrown in for good measure. A simpler song compared to much of what surrounds it, but a welcome breath of Maiden galloping in what is surely one of the more eclectic collections of Maiden tracks for some considerable time.

Isle of Avalon - A song which reminds me of the Seventh Son era - the intro reminds me a lot of the breakdown during Seventh Son of a Seventh Son itself - and the pagan flavoured lyrics (perhaps a continuation of the Wicker Man thematically) are wonderful. Unfortunately, the music fails to breathe life into this theme - maybe it's just me, but a song with Celtic inspired lyrics should have more of a Celtic feel - I guess I was hoping for a Blood Brothers or The Clansman style track - in return I am left disappointed by my expectations - a real case of a chance gone begging.

Starblind - Somewhere in Time meets Seventh Son meets Brave New World again here - and no bad thing at that. Some fine musicianship here raises Starblind to more than the sum of it's parts - here the more progressive style of the song aids it, rather than smothers it. Well worth a listen.

The Talisman - Janick is back in his nursery rhyme/lullaby style folk picking here - in fact, I could be critical and say the intro is a little too close to The Legacy for comfort, and then goes into a more familiar gallop - though hardly the full blooded thunder of days of yore. This song would be more at home on A Matter of Life and Death - it feels like it belongs there - but I'd be happy to have it there, as it's a lot better than 90% of the album. Janick also adds a hint of Bayley era guitar work as well.

The Man Who Would Be King - Dave Murray's sole writing contribution to the album has hints of Brave New World to it - lovely semi-acoustic intro which leads to a Maiden sound which is definitely more of the Maiden of the past decade. It has an interesting middle, then back to some glorious harmonies in a style that Maiden just make effortless. A terrific song.

When The Wild Wind Blows - As is befitting of the title, a synth created wind blows across the intro, and here is a song which harks with elements of much of Maiden's glorious history - it has the clean picked guitars of Strange World, the Celtic heartbeat of Blood Brothers (why wasn't this the melody for Isle of Avalon?, hints of the Wicker Man and These Colours Don't Run, moments of Rime of the Ancient Mariner - this one song has so many moments which brings you back in time to younger days and you can't help but smile at the memories - memories of your youth (unless you're a younger Maiden fan of course - older fans like I will know what I'm getting at) - not only the most epic song at over 11 minutes in an epic Maiden album - this song is not just the perfect closing song, it is the best song from my point of view on the album - it reminds me of why I love this band so much, even if I'm critical of them at times. This song deserves to be played as a closing track live, and I'm sure many a Maiden fan will be singing the main riff for decades to come as they have with so many others.

The Final Frontier isn't the easiest album to embrace compared to some of their classic moments such as Iron Maiden, Killers, The Number of the Beast or Powerslave, but no Maiden fan should ignore it - listen to it and see what you think.

Since you have to online to activate the bonus content, I don't think it's really worth it being on the special "Mission Edition" to be honest - a bonus dvd would have suited my tastes better, but I am still glad I took the time to purchase the latest Maiden album.


The Dio Years
The Dio Years
Price: £4.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Dio Years, 4 Jun. 2010
This review is from: The Dio Years (Audio CD)
This compilation seemed a little unnecessary given the amount of Sabbath greatest hits packages out there over the years - but this one had the interest of compiling solely Dio era material, with the added sweetener of 3 new songs from the Mob Rules/Dehumanizer era lineup (minus Geoff Nicholls on keys).

This is a strong retrospective - but it should have been a double disc set - and Dehumanizer is criminally underrepresented and Mob Rules criminally overrepresented.

Guess you can't please every fan though - of course, the new tracks are the main interest, and it shows that even another decade away from the band, Ronnie James Dio was definitely the right man to take duties of frontman after Ozzy Osbourne.

The Devil Cried is a heavy plodding number with a solid groove - not quite in the Dehumanizer vein, but along those lines - great lyrics from Ronnie too.

Shadow of the Wind is a masterpiece that should have been on The Mob Rules, and Ear in the Wall is a faster track that doesn't do anything for me and once more proved that the Dio era had chaff amongst the wheat of their genius.

However, it is worth a look for fans who just caught Sabbath as Heaven and Hell during their recent tours - and this led to that reunion happening for us all to see and enjoy - thank you the Dio years, and goodnight!

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