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Reviews Written by
Francis King "Frank King" (Calgary, AB, Canada)

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Price: £17.05

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb reissue of a hugely underrated recording, 25 Nov. 2011
This review is from: Flavours (Audio CD)
This 1974 recording was the Winnipeg band's first with guitarist Domenic Troiano (James Gang). It didn't sell or review well and, after one more CD (1975's Power in the Music), the band broke up.

But I've always loved this album and was thrilled to discover this wonderful, expanded reissue. The sound quality is great and the packaging is a serious bonus...there's an essay on the album, how Troiano came to join the Guess Who and a track-by-track commentary from keyboardist/vocalist/leader Burton Cummings, bassist Bill Wallace (who, all these years later, still doesn't like the album - he was shut out of the songwriting and had little input on his bass parts) and drummer Gary Peterson. Troiano died about six years ago.

The 4 bonus tracks are, indeed, a bonus. Most notable are two songs that later showed up on Burton Cummings solo albums - Your Back Yard and Roll With the Punches. It's very cool to compare the versions and hear the lyric changes. The only thing missing is commentary on these four songs.

In the end, this version of Flavours is a must for all serious Guess Who & Burton Cummings fans.

Live At The Royal Albert Hall
Live At The Royal Albert Hall
Offered by Rock Hopper Entertainment
Price: £9.95

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What's with those electronic drums, Carl?, 3 Mar. 2010
This could have been a great live album. Heck, it SHOULD have been. Even with Greg Lake's limited vocal range (hear how he tries, and fails, to reach the studio standard of Pirates). But then Carl Palmer starts bashing those awful, AWFUL electonic drums. And no matter how good the band as a whole sounds, I can't get past that.

In The Hot Seat
In The Hot Seat
Offered by uniqueplace-uk
Price: £12.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A truly sad recording, 3 Mar. 2010
This review is from: In The Hot Seat (Audio CD)
This was the second CD recorded by ELP after they reunited in the '90s. After a strong start with 1992's Black Moon, this was a HUGE step back. According to the book, Emerson, Lake & Palmer: The Show that Never Ends, Emerson was having hand problems before & during the recording of In the Hot Seat.
As well, the band's label, Victory, was in financial trouble 'cause two of their biggest acts, Yes & David Bowie's Tin Machine, delivered flop albums. So, the book recounts, the label put pressure on ELP to deliver a commercial success and brought in producer Keith Olsen (Whitesnake, Fleetwood Mac, Heart) to help. Talk about a bad choice.
The results, just about any true ELP fan can tell you, were DISASTROUS. This CD sounds like second rate Chicago...and not the good Chicago from the early 1970s, either. There's almost no progressive rock to be found, just one forgettable pop song after another.
Sure, there's a bonus song on this, a studio recording of the epic Pictures at An Exhibition, originally recorded for the ELP box set compilation. But even though the band apparently liked that recording (according to the ELP book), it is absolutely lifeless when compared to the previous live-in-concert versions.
Avoid this recording at all costs. It's far worse than ELP's often-slagged "Love Beach" recording from 1978. At least that album had a very interesting concept piece (Memoirs of an Officer and a Gentlemen). In the Hot Seat doesn't even have that.

The Collection - 50 Greatest Tracks
The Collection - 50 Greatest Tracks
Price: £10.85

11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This probably isn't from the group's Columbia/Sony classic albums, 30 Jan. 2010
The bulk of this iconic Irish folk group's greatest material was recorded during their decade with Columbia/CBS/Sony. That label has, for the most part, spit on the quartet's catalogue (the only exception: the FANTASTIC, hugely expanded re-release of 'In Person At Carnegie Hall'), so all the material on this compilation is almost certainly NOT from the Columbia recordings.
These songs are likely from their earlier recordings on the independant Tradition label -- and the group hadn't yet really found its sound on those albums. So consider yourself warned.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 6, 2015 5:33 PM BST

Playlist: The Very Best of the Clancy Brothers
Playlist: The Very Best of the Clancy Brothers
Price: £11.67

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Yet another cheap, quickie compilation of an iconic group, 30 Jan. 2010
The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem are arguably the greatest musical export ever to come from Ireland, at least when it comes to traditional Irish music. They spent the creative bulk of their dozen years together with the Sony label and, for the most part, Sony has spit on the group's catalogue.
I was hoping that would change with the release of the massively expanded, gloriously designed update to their classic 'In Person at Carnegie Hall' a year or so back. Unfortunately, there's been no followup. That means almost all their Sony catalogue has never come out on CD (and likely never will, now) and there has yet to be a decent, two-CD compilation.
This release, part of the Playlist series of compilations, does nothing to fix the problem. Clancy songs are short and one CD can easily hold 25, so this package falls far, far short of being even decent. Why why why?

Native Window
Native Window
Price: £7.58

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Competent, but unimaginative, 8 Dec. 2009
This review is from: Native Window (Audio CD)
Native Window is all the current members of prog rockers Kansas, minus keyboardist-singer Steve Walsh. Given their musical chops, I was hoping for some interesting arrangements and lyrics, with much better vocals (by bassist Billy Greer; Walsh's voice has been shot for years).

What we get instead is a well recorded, well performed series of pop rock songs. So far, I've heard nothing that's truly noteworthy -- no interesting arrangements or memorable melodies. You'd think with the looong time since Kansas' last recording (2000's fantastic Somewhere To Elsewhere), these guys would be bursting with creative ideas. Well, maybe if I keep playing it something will click.

In Person At Carnegie Hall: Complete
In Person At Carnegie Hall: Complete
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £16.15

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of the NEW, expanded CD package, 7 Dec. 2009
For serious fans of Irish folk music like me, who are incensed at how Sony has spit on its Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem's Columbia catalogue, the release of this hugely expanded version of one of the quartet's greatest live recordings is nothing short of an early Easter miracle.

It seems like everything is here -- all the songs (plus the two from the 1962 Carnegie Hall concert attached to the original 1963 release of this album), all the between-song dialogue, even the guitar/banjo tuning. Wait 'til you hear the fun, innocent references to John F. Kennedy (then the U.S. president and still 9 months from his assassination).

Without the visuals, you're not always sure what's going on with the banter, but it helps to know there were some people actually sitting *behind* the group during the St. Patrick's Day, 1963 concert. That fact isn't readily apparent in the miniscule version of this album released in '63.

Also, you quickly understand what Liam Clancy's referring to in his brilliant liner notes when he refers to audience participation. Again, not evident on the truncated original release, in this version you hear how boistrous the crowd is, shouting out songs it wants to hear to the point where Makem, amidst the competing requests, yells "shut up!" It's quite amusing.

Beyond this, the sound quality is excellent, the performances as energetic and feisty as the truncated original album suggested, and the CD packaging is excellent -- lots of never-before-seen pictures of the boys at the hall and an in-depth essay placing the boys in their time.

Absolutely worth buying!

The Invention of Lying [DVD]
The Invention of Lying [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ricky Gervais
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £1.26

12 of 75 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Well made, but sad and hopeless, 6 Dec. 2009
This review is from: The Invention of Lying [DVD] (DVD)
Is God just a desperate fib?

That's one of the main plot points in this movie, co-written and starring British actor/comedian Ricky Gervais.

The movie creates a world where everyone tells the truth - all the time, no matter what - with funny and often awkward results. Then Gervais' character stumbles upon telling the first fib.

After a few untruths, Gervais is confronted by his mother, dying in a hospital bed and full of fear for her future. In order to bring her some comfort, he drops what is presented to viewers as a big, fat, glow-in-the-dark lie: When her life on earth is done, his mother doesn't simply become nothing. She goes on to a happy existence living in a mansion and reuniting with all her already-dead loved ones.

Apparently, the world created by Gervais has no spiritual books such as a Bible, because this is amazing news to the hospital staff, who overhear the "lie" and demand to know more. Word spreads and soon, hundreds of people surround Gervais' house and he's forced to "create" a faith system with commandments (scrawled the back of pizza boxes) and a man in the sky dispensing favour and punishment.

One journalist, ignoring this very unfunny white elephant, wrote The Invention of Lying "recalls cinema classics like Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life - as much message as mirth." The message, according to this journalist, is lying isn't always a bad thing.

Unaware of Gervais' main plotline, my wife and I went to the theatre to watch this movie. When it finished, we walked out feeling sad.

For us, the message of The Invention of Lying is spirituality is a joke that exists only because we're all liars. And this is presented without a shred of evidence to back it up.

Where does the universe come from? The movie doesn't address this. What about a monumental figure like Jesus - his life and the revelations he told us about the nature of God? This is simply ignored. St. Paul, one of the writers of the Bible's New Testament, described how hundreds of people saw Jesus resurrected from the grave after his death on the cross. Apparently this doesn't matter, either.

How about the thousands of documented cases of near-death experiences that suggest an afterlife? They supposedly don't exist. A book like the Bible was written by more than 50 people over thousands of years; are they all liars? The casual, unspoken inference from Gervais is yes.

My wife's mother died not long ago and the hospital scene was a slap in the face for her (despite knowing the truth is quite different). Even for people who haven't lost a loved one recently, the message from Gervais is utter hopelessness. Unless we fool ourselves with a lie, all of us die and become nothing, he suggests. We'll never see loved ones again and we'll never meet God.

A classic along the lines of It's a Wonderful Life? Perhaps The Invention of Lying could have been that. But the former presented a compelling case for hope. The latter suggests only that we live for today and the person with the most toys when they die does, indeed, win. Win what, Ricky??
Comment Comments (18) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 20, 2011 8:03 PM BST

Capturing the Light: An Inspirational and Instructional Guide to Landscape Photography
Capturing the Light: An Inspirational and Instructional Guide to Landscape Photography
by Peter Watson
Edition: Hardcover

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as his previous book, 13 Jan. 2008
I bought Capturing The Light unseen because photographer/writer Peter Watson's previous book, Light In The Landscape, is one of the most comprehensive and inspiring landscape photography books every published for serious photographers.

Capturing The Light is aimed at the same audience, with large pictures on right pages and short essays on that shot on left pages. Unlike Light On The Land, the left pages also include smaller versions of the right pages pictures with lines and detailed notes on elements of the composition and colour.

It's a nice approach for anyone with serious interest in landscape photography.

So what's the problem? First off, the pictures simply aren't as breathtaking as we know Watson is capable of. Perhaps that's because he reanges further afield from his U.K. home base to include North America. Those shots aren't his best and his one Canadian composition is amazingly uninspired.

Secondly, too many pictures in Capturing The Light are printed too light. It's one of the most distracting things you can do to a photography book. So distrating, in my humble opinion, that I'd rather have pictures printed too dark.

All this said, there's still plenty to appreciate in Capturing The Light. But if you have a limited budget, I suggest buying Light In The Landscape.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 2, 2009 8:38 AM BST

Scotland's Coast: A Photographer's Journey
Scotland's Coast: A Photographer's Journey
by Joe Cornish
Edition: Hardcover

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great pictures, but..., 8 Jan. 2008
Joe Cornish is one of Britain's best landscape photographers and his talent has been recognized in many books. I have his 2002 publication, Light and the Art of Landscape Photography, and bought this one unseen because of that.

The pictures certainly live up to my expectations, with richly coloured, razor-sharp explorations of the amazing Scottish coast, complete with dramatic skies that shows he worked hard to get it right.

My only complaint it this book is not so much for serious photographers. Unlike Light and the Art of..., there are no detailed captions explaining how each picture was made. Sure, there are what Cornish calls "field notes" at the end, but they are far too brief and it's annoying to have to skip back and forth from picture to field note. Because of this, I would recommend Scotland's Coast for non-photographers only.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 14, 2011 8:43 AM BST

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