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Mr. D. M. Pugh (Wales, UK)

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The Journey 1978 - 2009
The Journey 1978 - 2009
Price: £6.88

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Chris Rea compilation out there (so far...), 29 May 2012
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This review is from: The Journey 1978 - 2009 (Audio CD)
There are plenty of Chris Rea compilations - although if you tend to shop on iTunes you might find that hard to believe (why does he only have about two albums on there? Not even his two number one albums) but take a quick look through Amazon's Chris Rea search results and you'll find a lot of choice - but this, in my opinion, is the best.

First off the sound quality is the best I've heard - even if you compare this with "Still So Far To Go", the more commercially successful collection released just two years earlier, it sounds that bit fuller and crisper.

But also the song selection is excellent for a 2-disc set, including all his hits and most of his popular singles, and more. The best version of 'I Can Hear Your Heartbeat', great samples of his later career like 'Come So Far, Yet Still So Far To Go' and 'Blue Street', and the superior original versions of 'Stainsby Girls' and 'Josephine' (though I'm not sure why the latter is listed as being the 'French Edit' - it sounds identical to the original album version to me).

There's no such thing as a perfect Chris Rea compilation yet - there's plenty of songs that I think should been included, but on the other hand Chris doesn't really have a bad song in his entire back catalog - way too many worthy contenders for inclusion. And also, if like me you own many of his albums, then this is a great place to go for a whistle-stop tour of most of his highlights, whilst still having all his material to hand. If you don't own any of his albums, don't stop at this collection - Chris is one of those singers who, if you like his music, you will find a wealth of gems to be discovered. At the time of writing I own everything from 'Water Sign' (1983) to 'Espresso Logic' (1993) (and his live album from 2006), and all are worth listening to from beginning to end - not that each one is a stand-out track, but neither is there a bad song either.

There is of course the complete absurdity of including "On The Beach (Summer '88)" which is a shame. What possessed the compilers to put two versions of the same song on a 2-disc compilation, from a man who has hundreds of excellent songs to choose from, is beyond me.

But all minor niggles aside, this is a great sounding, comprehensive career overview, and also the packaging is the nicest to ever encase a Chris Rea compilation - exquisite.

The Essential Highwaymen
The Essential Highwaymen

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant and comprehensive compilation, 3 Mar 2011
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'The Essential Highwaymen' is a momentous release, gathering together a vast array of material from a quartet of American music's finest - Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson & Kris Kristofferson - as well as celebrating the 25th anniversary of the country supergroup's debut in 1985. The American import edition also includes a fascinating booklet written by Rich Kienzle, documenting how the four came together and made what they made over the decades, through various collaborations, including and outside of their Highwaymen recordings.

This is country music at it's finest. Both the words and the sound (vocal and instrumental) are deep and spine-tingling. Almost all of the songs include at least two of the Highwaymen. The 2 CDs are divided as follows: 12 official Highwaymen songs featuring all four, 15 duets, and 9 solo recordings:

The Highwaymen songs boast fantastic musical production values and are some of the best sounding songs here - the opening two numbers, 'Highwayman' and 'Silver Stallion' are powerful and atmospheric, as is the closing song 'Live Forever'. The sound of all four, very distinct, voices singing at once meld together so perfectly. All but one of the 12 are taken from one of the 3 Highwaymen studio albums - the one that isn't, 'Desperados Waiting For A Train', is worthy of special note, as it is the only song in the album which is previously unreleased, a live version of the song performed at the 1993 Farm Aid Concert in Iowa. The duets are taken from a variety of sources. Most of Johnny and Waylon's are from Cash's albums, as well as two great songs from their 1986 release, 'Heroes'. There are a few by Willie and Kris, two from the soundtrack of their 1983 film 'SongWriter'. The rest are from Willie and Waylon, and are some of my favourites - 'Take It To The Limit', 'Just To Satisfy You' and 'Luckenbach, Texas' are absolute belters. The solo songs maybe aren't all the big hits you'd first think to include if you were going to represent them, but they were chosen specifically because of their link with other members of the group - 'Help Me Make It Through The Night', 'The Taker', 'Moment of Forever' and 'Sunday Morning Coming Down' were all penned by Kristofferson, as was 'Me and Bobby McGee', performed here by the writer himself, but has also been recorded and released by Jennings, Nelson and Cash individually over the years, and 'The Pilgrim: Chapter 33' is a song Kris wrote about his country heroes, including Johnny Cash, who also later performed it on his TV show. 'A Backstage Pass', a relatively unknown Johnny Cash song, is chosen because he mentions the other three Highwaymen in it, and finally the other 2 solos hark back to their shared roots in the music of Hank Williams, as does Johnny and Waylon's 'The Night Hank Williams Came To Town'.

Prior to buying this, I already owned half the songs, in the 3 Highwayman albums and an extensive Johnny Cash collection, but there's so much variety here, and I believe care put into the compiling and ordering of these 36 songs, that it's more than worth the purchase. It's a very minor niggle, but one song I would've liked to have seen on the album to make it even more 'Essential', and think would have suited the feel of it very well, is the brilliant 'American Remains' from 'Highwayman 2'.

This then is a highly recommended celebration of country music's finest - a very well though out collection. In a sense, what you have here is something not dissimilar in its structure and layout to one of their live tours, such as the 'Highwaymen Live!' DVD, where they would perform a mixture of their Highwayman and duet/solo songs - only, instead of them all being played with the same backing instruments and sound, or being the 100th and 1 performance, these are the pure, genuine, chart-hitting originals, taken from decades of different albums and contexts.

1. Highwayman
2. Silver Stallion
3. The Greatest Cowboy Of Them All (Johnny & Waylon)
4. Take It To The Limit (Waylon & Willie)
5. Help Me Make It Through The Night (Willie Nelson)
6. The Taker (Waylon Jennings)
7. Just To Satisfy You (Waylon & Willie)
8. Moment Of Forever (Willie Nelson)
9. Eye Of The Storm (Kris & Willie)
10. The Pilgrim: Chapter 33 (Kris Kristofferson)
11. Sunday Morning Coming Down (Live) (Johnny Cash)
12. Casey's Last Ride (Kris & Willie)
13. Born And Raised In Black And White
14. The Devil's Right Hand
15. There Ain't No Good Chain Gang (Johnny & Waylon)
16. The Road Goes On Forever
17. I Wish I Was Crazy Again (Johnny & Waylon)
18. Desperados Waiting For A Train (Live) (Previously Unreleased)

1. Good Hearted Woman (Live) (Waylon & Willie)
2. A Backstage Pass (Live) (Johnny Cash)
3. How Do You Feel About Foolin' Around (Willie & Kris)
4. Luckenbach, Texas (Back To The Basics Of Love) (Waylon with Willie)
5. The Night Hank Williams Came To Town (Johnny with Waylon)
6. If You Don't Like Hank Williams (Kris Kristofferson)
7. Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way (Waylon Jennings)
8. Big River
9. Deportee (Plane Wreck At Los Gatos) (Johnny & Willie with Johnny Rodriguez)
10. Me And Bobby McGee (Kris Kristofferson)
11. The Last Cowboy Song
12. Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys (Waylon & Willie)
13. Even Cowgirls Get The Blues (Johnny & Waylon)
14. Nowhere Road (Waylon & Willie)
15. It Is What It Is
16. Living Legend
17. Love Is The Way (Johnny & Waylon)
18. Live Forever
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 22, 2013 3:12 PM GMT

Due South: The Complete Series Boxset (Repackaging) [DVD]
Due South: The Complete Series Boxset (Repackaging) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Paul Gross
Price: £46.75

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent repackaging of a masterclass series, 2 Mar 2011
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Due South just about beats off the competition to being my all-time favourite TV series - Ray Vecchio (David Marciano) is my joint-favourite fictional character next to Columbo. Naturally, as a guy, the whole 'Fraser's so hot' and 'it's so cute how he gets embarrassed around women!' thing, which provides a big part of the show's appeal to its large female fan base, does nothing for me. It's neither here nor there - it doesn't detract or add much apart from the occasional laugh and an extra dimension to Fraser's (Paul Gross) character. But there's plenty here that places it as nothing short of outstanding in my view. It manages to pull together so many different elements and dimensions (comedy/drama/quirkiness/style) and interweave them masterfully - sometimes very funny, sometimes full of deep and often gritty drama, sometimes very quirky and light-hearted, going for full-blown comedy, not taking itself too seriously, and even then somehow does it with panache, as well as always, like the icing on a cake, topping it off with great music that gives it that final polished touch.

The great thing about Due South is apart from the core aspects such as characters, setting, basic premise, there's no clear formula - each episode is so different in its structure, feel, tone and plot that you can't really make a qualified judgement on the series, in my opinion, until you've seen a good many episodes, if not the whole thing. To illustrate this point, my introduction to the series was watching only one or two random episodes when my brother and his friend happened to be watching them, and I thought it was decent enough, and I got the general gist of the Mountie and his wolf and his detective pal, but that was it, nothing overtly special. But now I've seen the whole series through, twice over the course of a a few years, and it's been cemented as the top dog of TV in my mind. Some series are formulaic, and as a result pretty tedious after so many episodes (an exception to this rule is the excellent 'Columbo', which uses its formula superbly), then there are series that aren't formulaic, and have more variety in its scripts, but often at a compromise to its quality ie. some stories work better than others. But Due South not only is extremely variable, but in whatever setting or context it's put it still manages to maintain consistent quality and style throughout all 3 series, in every single episode, mixing gritty drama with an overall feel-good quality.

The fish-out-of-water scenario is one that works really well and that I am particularly fond of. Not only does it provide plenty of laughs, but the polite hardy mountaineer in a location that is as far removed from his natural environment as is possible, brings with it a fantastically unique premise. The way Fraser tracks criminals, solves cases and helps out the citizens of Chicago who are in need, using snowy mountain wilderness techniques in this concrete bustling metropolis, with the aid of rough and ready city methods from Ray, brings the whole 'urban wilderness' theme to life and really draws you in, especially with the inclusion of Fraser's other sidekick, his equally hardy and out-of-place pet wolf, Diefenbaker. There are some great moments in the first series particularly, where Fraser's father's voice (Gordon Pinsent) is heard as Fraser reads his diaries' accounts of tracking and arresting criminals in the Yukon wilderness, and it's overlaid on shots of the rough and busy night-time Chicago scene, or in Fraser's dilapidated downtown flat, as Fraser seeks to apply his father's knowledge and experience to his own situation or police case. It's a blend of two contrasting situations that works beautifully.

The main theme in Due South, though, is friendship. The chemistry between particularly Fraser and Ray Vecchio in Series 1 and 2, but also Fraser and Ray Kowalski (Callum Keith Rennie) in Series 3, is why I really love this series. The replacement of David Marciano with Callum Keith Rennie in Series 3 wasn't planned, as the series was going to be cancelled and Marciano signed a contract with someone else, so when it was suddenly announced it was coming back they replaced the character in a very clever and ingenious way which I won't go into to avoid spoilers. Some complain that the duet of Fraser and the original Ray worked perfectly and shouldn't have been changed, but I think it makes the series that much better, fuller and more complete. As Paul Gross says on the documentary included in this box-set, it was sad that David left but Callum brought something completely refreshing and brilliant to the show in the same way that if the show had started with Callum and he left, it would be sad to see him go but now we've got this whole new quality in David's character - Callum's arrival reinvented the show, even though it wasn't as if the old partnership was tired and needed reinvigorating - but it added a new dimension to the overall series' story. Both partnerships are similar yet different. The relationship between Fraser and the self-assured, flamboyant and openly moaning Italian-American Ray Vecchio has a dynamic where Ray vocally expresses how he's so often out of his depth and his exasperation with Fraser, and it's very much Ray as the bigger brother to the fish-out-of-water Fraser. This flips then with Fraser and Ray Kowalski - Kowalski is still the tough, street-wise cop, but he's more of a scruffy renegade, more aggressive and more easily provoked to anger, but still a good person at heart. His bewilderment at Fraser's seemingly crazy ways is expressed with a quieter, less dramatic despair than Vecchio. His tenser attitude comes from the fact that he is a lot more insecure than Vecchio or indeed Fraser, and in this instance the dynamic flips, and I see Fraser very much as the bigger brother to Ray, with his classic 'Ray, Ray, Ray, Ray, Ray, Ray' until he gets Ray's attention which has been drawn by something else, or his frequent advice to Ray through inuit fables. In the end, when you put aside the quality stories, the musical and visual style, and the fish-out-of-water premise that works so well, it's a show about two guys (twice over) with a special and remarkable bond, and their adventures. To paraphrase a quote from the series - when they're on their own they're incomplete, but when they're together they're better than what they are alone.

I primarily decided to review this, though, to give a word on this repackaging, and it is worth it. I don't think it's physically possible to make it any more compact - they've managed to cram 18 discs into three standard-sized DVD cases (6 discs in each case). It's great to have such a brilliant series in such a neat and compact format.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 3, 2011 6:31 PM GMT

The Pink Panther Film And Cartoon Collection [DVD]
The Pink Panther Film And Cartoon Collection [DVD]
Dvd ~ Peter Sellers
Price: £26.49

102 of 108 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Complete Peter Sellers Collection, 8 Nov 2008
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People had been complaining about the 2004 release of 'The Pink Panther Film Collection' because it didn't contain Return of the Pink Panther and had to be bought seperately. Well, MGM have now released a box-set containing the essential Pink Panther material.

This boxset contains all 6 Peter Sellers films and all 124 cartoons (plus A Pink Christmas). However don't think that this is a complete re-packaging. All they've done is put the four previous releases together in one box(ie. The Film Collection, Return of the Pink Panther, A Pink Christmas & The Cartoon Collection). So if you already own these four releases then the only thing you gain by buying this release is a big box in which to put them all in - plus 'A Pink Christmas' thrown in with the Cartoon Collection ie. the disc is inside the Cartoon Collection box rather than in a seperate case. It's also perhaps worth mentioning that the box itself doesn't open sideways but opens up from the top and the spines are closed up which makes the box look better. In short, this box-set contains two box-sets (Film Collection and Cartoon Collection with Pink Christmas) and a single-case DVD (Return of the Pink Panther).

So for the Film & Cartoon Collection in one very good-looking box, buy this one! If you already own the film collection and cartoon collection, don't bother, and just buy Return and Pink Christmas separately
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 27, 2010 3:09 PM GMT

The Godfather - The Coppola Restoration [DVD] [1972]
The Godfather - The Coppola Restoration [DVD] [1972]
Dvd ~ Marlon Brando
Price: £18.41

154 of 165 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece, 22 Oct 2008
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Everyone seems to have reviewed the Steelbook Amazon Exclusive version of this. I actually prefer this version and it is the one I bought. For one thing I feel that cramming all the discs into one small case means that it gets lost on the shelf. A substatntial box means that it has more of a presence up there, and also it's not AS big as the original 2001 release due to the slimline individual cases, which I prefer than having all discs in one case because each story gets its own front image and synopsis on the back. The combination of shiny black outer-box with blood splattering gives a very stylish finish to the collection.
My only complaint would be that the box itself is probably the least durable out of the three (ie. this one, the 2001 release and the steelbook), but not if you take good care of it.

This is probably my number one film saga. Beautiful, dark, stylish. And not only that but compared to the 2001 release you are provided with the ultimate picture & sound quality and colour giving you the ultimate film-viewing experience. Truly the films could not have been more restored than they are here, and the Supplements Disc goes into detail on how this was achieved. Also Part II is on only one disc, which avoids the need to get up half-way through to switch discs, although it's worth noting that even though it's on one disc the word 'Intermission' appears for a brief moment in between where the the two dics would have to have been swapped. Presumably that's how it was shown in the cinema.

People always slate Part III but I think that when taking the three films as an entity it serves it purpose superbly. I love all three, and take them as one story - so trying to single one out is like saying I prefer the beginning or the middle or the end of the story. Parts I and II form the bulk of the Godfather story, and Part III serves as the epilogue. Part I begins with the introductions and then chronicles the end of Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) and the rise of Michael (Al Pacino) as the new Godfather, as well as his transformation from someone who wants nothing to do with his father's business, to being far more ruthless than his father ever was. Part II serves as prequel and sequel showing the beginnings of Vito (Robert De Niro) and how he arrived at the beginning of Part I, as well as Michael at the height of his powers, his continued descent deeper into corruption as he takes the path he began in Part I to its inevitable end. Part III then is all about the guilt, regret and pain Michael feels because of his past sins and the man he became. The 9-hour long epic that is "The Godfather" then culminates in one of the most powerful film endings ever.

The ultimate film trilogy and restoration, with 4 hours of special features, provide the ultimate DVD collection.
Comment Comments (9) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 17, 2013 10:24 AM BST

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