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Ben (UK)

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Cambridgeshire and the Fens (Pathfinder Guide)
Cambridgeshire and the Fens (Pathfinder Guide)
by Brian Conduit
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent way to get out walking in the region..., 20 Feb. 2008
Unlike the reviewer above I've been thoroughly chuffed with this books since I ordered it. There are 25 walks, between 4 to 11 miles, spread out across the Cambridgeshire area. As the maps are all Ordnance Survey they are clear and easy to follow, and the written guide that accompanies them is equally straightforward.

I'd accept that the odd route puzzles me a little - particularly the inclusion of a walk round Grafham Water. Whilst it is indeed a site worth visiting, the route merely follows the perscribed footpath round the lake - so hardly seems terribly original.

However, the other longer routes I've done around Wicken Fen, Linton, Ely, Offord Cluny and Lolworth and Boxworth have all been very enjoyable. The landscape in Cambridgeshire and the Fens is what it is - pretty flat! Still, there's plenty of attractive sites to admire and I think the writer has done well.

Comments made about the significance, or history, of local landmarks on the routes are indeed kept relatively sparse - so if you want more of that sort of thing you might well be disappointed, but aside from that this book is simple to use and a very good investment.

B. B. King Live In Cook County Jail
B. B. King Live In Cook County Jail
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £6.33

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars BB King live, and on impressive form..., 19 Feb. 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Read any article or book about blues music, and mention will quickly be made to what's considered the finest live blues album around - namely, BB King's "Live At The Regal". I'd say it's a fair comment, but the impact of that album is that I think it now slightly overshadows this one; and if you've not heard "Live in Cook County Jail" before then I recommend you do - as it's a fine record.

You've only got to look at Johnny Cash to know how live albums recorded in prisons can somehow bring out the best in a musician, and with BB it's no different. Perhaps it's the thought of playing to a group of prisoners, but he pulls out all the stops on this album. The guitar playing is exemplary of course (his licks here have a real sting in the tail) but it's BB King acting as his own compere that really shines.

Vocally he's on fine form, but there's a lot of humour on this record that I'd not heard before. He's skits during "Worry Worry" are worth the cost of the album alone - and the charm in which he chats to the audience about songs he's selected. Which is to say nothing of the wonderfully funky version of "The Thrill Is Gone" (which, without the string section sounds brilliant) or the blistering "Every Day I Have The Blues", which opens his set.

If I would be allowed one complaint, it's that it's perhaps not long enough!

This is a wonderfully raw and impassioned BB performance - so you can easily buy with confidence.

Rory: Wheels Within Wheels
Rory: Wheels Within Wheels
Price: £5.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the finest Gallagher albums around..., 5 Feb. 2008
Posthumous releases aren't normally regarded in a particularly favourable light. The argument often being that maybe the artist wouldn't have wanted it released in such a way during their life time. As such they end up being either a grab-bag of tunes recorded over a long period, rough sketches, very badly produced - or, at worse, all three! Without being a fully realised musical 'statement', endorsed and crafted by the artist themselves, invariably accusations are levelled that it's more a greedy record company cashing in on the devotion of fans, keen to hear more from their much-missed heros.

Perhaps you could argue "Wheels Within Wheels" flirts with all of the accusations above, but I feel its strengths as an album rises above any accusations - with the result being it is probably one of Rory Gallagher's most diverse and interesting releases.

Regardless of whether an album such as this would have seen the light of day had Rory been around today is probably a moot point. His brother Donal, who has done a sterling job on the wave of Rory reissues, clearly saw there was scope to release a collection of Rory's more eclectic, acoustic moments. I'm glad he did.

As much as I love Rory's records, from around-about 1979 onwards I felt his albums became increasingly straight-up "rock" affairs. That probably suited a lot of fans, but I felt the blues, jazz and numerous other influences of his early work were replaced with more direct, louder, driving blues/rock riffs. Okay - granted, there are exceptions on each album - but a record made of his more delicate folk based acoustic work? Sadly one never happened, but this release does a great job of filling the gap.

This record is an interesting blend of superb acoustic songs (the title track, The Cuckoo), pretty and diverse instrumentals (Flight to Paradise) and finally a collection of rousing folk-infused live songs towards the end. There's no mistaking this is very much a collection (the sound quality of the live tracks, for example, aren't quite as strong as the songs on the first half of the album), but it's Rory passion (for both his instrument and the music he loved to play) and his considerable energy that really shines through.

Basically, this is a great Rory album. A fine, fitting release - buy with confidence!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 2, 2015 3:22 AM BST

i-nique Tuff-Luv Twin Skin Combo Silicone Skin Case + Belt Clip For Sony Walkman - NIGHT STALKER - Black/Red (NWZ-S515 / NWZ-S615 series)
i-nique Tuff-Luv Twin Skin Combo Silicone Skin Case + Belt Clip For Sony Walkman - NIGHT STALKER - Black/Red (NWZ-S515 / NWZ-S615 series)

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent enough cover, however..., 4 Jan. 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this for my girlfriend's new Sony MP3 player. It's a strong, well made rubber "shell" and has an array of different clips which are all easy to apply and seem nice and secure.

However, I would just mention that the cover doesn't go as far as protecting the screen. So, if you're the kind of person who always sticks their MP3 player in your pocket then be warned - this product won't stop your screen from getting scratched.

Bad Luck And Trouble: (Jack Reacher 11)
Bad Luck And Trouble: (Jack Reacher 11)
by Lee Child
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourites from the series..., 15 Nov. 2007
Now having fought, plotted and cooly calculated his way through 11 always-enjoyable books, still carrying little more than pocket change and a toothbrush, it's not unreasonable to start looking for signs of cracks in the Jack Reacher series. After being slightly disappointed with "The Hard Way" I did start to wonder whether Child was running out of exciting situations in which to throw Reacher in at the deep end.

Whilst I see there are a few middling reviews here, I found "Bad Luck and Trouble" one of the most entertaining Reacher novels. It's tightly plotted, wonderfully tense and frequently very exciting.

Whilst I'd be disappointed if it became a habit, having Reacher working as part of a team on this occasion is a clever plot device implemented by Child. It does a handy job of reminding us just how much of an outsider Reacher is. He thinks a great deal in the novel as to whether his minimalstic lifestyle is really the right choice, with his old friends round him who seem comfortable in their relative wealth and materialism. But of course it's really a devise used to make sure we all get a timely remember just what it is about Reacher we loved in the first place.

Child is still my favourite thriller writer, and this is a cracking read. Highly recommended.

Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten [DVD]
Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten [DVD]
Dvd ~ Julien Temple
Price: £4.00

7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Little Film, 5 Oct. 2007
A fan of Strummer? This is worth watching. Points knocked off for not naming any of the people being interviewed though...that was quite frustrating.

Personally, I prefered "Let's Rock Again!". Although that was a documentary following Joe on tour with The Mescaleros, I felt it provided a better insight for me in to his character.

Sound Of Silver
Sound Of Silver
Price: £5.23

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, A Great Record, 17 Aug. 2007
This review is from: Sound Of Silver (Audio CD)
LCD Soundsystem's second album scores highly on three fronts for me: it takes great dance beats and marries them to songs that actually have pathos beyond some sampled voice wailing "I want to take you higher" for five minutes; secondly the songs are arranged in such a way that the overall collection hangs together brilliantly, so just as a proper album should it leads you through some kind of structured, emotional narrative, and finally James Murphy is clever enough to consciously sound like a number of other musicians, without seeming to be either derivative or making his music sound like a pastiche.

This is a brilliant album, with two excellent singles ("North American Scum" and "All My Friends") that despite being quite far apart in terms of meaning and the feeling you're meant to get when hearing them, they fit perfectly in to this record.

A proper five star album. Superb.

Icky Thump
Icky Thump
Offered by Squirrelsounds
Price: £4.50

5 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Uneven...and not a patch on "Elephant", 16 Aug. 2007
This review is from: Icky Thump (Audio CD)
If there is one skill The White Stripes appear to be honing on this record, it's recording songs which somewhat outstay their welcome. A song starts, and with Jack White's unarguable knack with a good melody or hook, familiarity is pretty instantaneous; but then after two minutes things sound like they have run their course, and all the cards have been dealt. But then there's a sudden lurch and we have the whole thing cycled through again for another couple of minutes. Added to which there's the now trademark Jack White guitar solo - with his particular squealing style imprinted on the first 3 songs they become rather tedious in their regularity.

For me there's an overwhelming sense that this record is a grab-bag of different styles that simply don't sit together very well. As an album it's also horribly uneven; a number of songs here could have been intentionally included to grate on the nerves. Does the introduction to "Conquest" honestly encourage anyone to listen to it further? Does the painfully scripted "Rag and Bone" even make you listen to the whole thing once? What's the point of Meg White reading out a poem?

After the brilliant "Elephant", the follow up of "Get Behind Me Satan" was the sound of a band getting a bit tired of itself. I thought "Icky Thump" would be the glorious revival - but it isn't, it's a sound that reminds me Jack White should really considering sticking with the much superior Raconteurs.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 5, 2008 2:46 PM GMT

Sky Blue Sky
Sky Blue Sky
Price: £13.66

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great songs - but a great album?, 13 July 2007
This review is from: Sky Blue Sky (Audio CD)
Is the new Wilco album a step forward, back or sideways? Whichever way, there are definitely grounds for the argument that after the mind-melting space rock jams of live album "Kicking Television", the release of "Sky Blue Sky" can seem a bit of a miss-step.

Lyrics about lawn mowing and ironing shirts, and an overall vibe and genteel sound that draws comparisons to Bread albums from the 70's; it's not quite what people expected - but does that make it a bad record?

I think history will judge this record a little kinder than it has been. Just because you don't deliver what people want shouldn't undervalue the quality of the release (ask Radiohead when "Kid A" came out), and there is definitely some great stuff on here. Yet I still don't particularly want to champion this record too much, as it isn't perhaps as engaging as either "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" or "A Ghost Is Born". Caught listening at the wrong time and you might cast this aside for being twee, but there are subtle tricks at play here - abstract guitar solos thrown in at unsuspected times, sudden shifts in tone and attack.

Underlining all this however is still the same sense you get from most of Wilcos albums; namely of talented musicians skilfully playing very accomplished songs.

Does that sound safe? Or perhaps a bit boring? It shouldn't, but I can accept how it probably does. Jeff Tweedy isn't taking medication or checking in to rehab anymore, the band line up has settled - all these issues run in parallel with the music on this album, rather than against it - and Wilco were known for creating great music in fractious circumstances.

Perhaps where the band stumbled is that as a collective whole this album lacks a decent sense of either dynamics or variety - it too easily floats by and lacks sharp shocks or peaks and troughs. But yet this is a band that are confident enough to put the song likely to become the uplifting staple of their live set, "What Light", tucked away at the end of the album. That's confidence for you. In fact almost any song, removed from the context of the album, has something about it to stand back and really admire.

Neon Bible
Neon Bible
Price: £5.99

5 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Falls Wide Of The Mark..., 11 July 2007
This review is from: Neon Bible (Audio CD)
On their debut, Arcade Fire were the indie band writing ambitious and epic anthems only constrained by limited studio budgets and production know-how. Now on second album "Neon Bible" these issues are no longer a problem. The band have also sold enough records, and been bolstered by enough plaudits, to ensure the follow up is not reined in by any similar limitations.

But does it work? Not completely. "Neon Bible" is occasionally a very good album, but it is strangely weighed down by the band having had better opportunities available to them. "Neon Bible" shows a band no longer needing to keep its more bombastic tendencies in check; and suffering as a result. Everything is so grandiose and immediate that, after just a few months, it already sounds a little tired. In songs such as the preening, school boy angst of "My Body Is A Cage", they also come quite close to what you imagine an Arcade Fire parody would sound like.

The other noticeable issue are the lyrics. Too many of the songs are littered with some incredibly poor lines. "Black Mirror" has the band foolishly bellowing "Mirror mirror on the wall, show me where them bombs will fall", and the hideously titled "(Antichrist Television Blues)" has "I don't wanna work in a building downtown...Cause the planes keep crashing always two by two". This might be trying to make a political point, but is doing so in the crassest way possible.

With their art house leanings but consciously "big" sound, Arcade Fire were always a 'Stadium Band'; probably willing to go head-to-head with the likes of U2, but in doing so on "Neon Bible" they've whittled away what made them great. Only when they hold back, on the title track and "Ocean of Noise", do they make an effective statement.

The appeal for me in Arcade Fire was they were a big band struggling in a small box; now they've been set free I can't help but feel they've lost their edge.

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