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Reviews Written by
A. Hook "andrew17825"

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Price: £37.15

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What they do best: quirky, 23 Mar. 2012
This review is from: GIANTS (Audio CD)
I'm a Stranglers fan from way back so this review was always going to be a little biased. Then again, maybe not. The thing is, I want this album to be better than it is, and therefore am probably more critical than the average listener. For me, the last album - "Suite XVI" - was their best record since "In The Night" and is probably one of a handful of their records that I can play over and again and not get tired (as opposed to the theoretical 'return to form' which was "Norfolk Coast" which I have spun less than ten times). New(ish) singer, Baz Warnes, is the best thing to happen to the band in recent years and the Warnes/Burnel songwriting partnership is one of the most interesting. All their great songs have a quirkiness to them and an unwillingness to play it safe and this album is a good example. And those who think there was ever such a thing as a Stranglers sound should listen to the diversity apparent in No More Heroes, Thrown Away, Golden Brown, European Female and Summat Outanowt. There never was a definitive 'sound' - despite the growling bass and swirly keyboards. There was always more of a definite 'attitude'.

Much of 'Giants' has this attitude in spades, but after several spins it's clear the album is let down badly by the opening instrumental: "Another Camden Afternoon". The bluesy guitar invades and corrupts what is otherwise a very passable instrumental, but I just can't get to grips with it and probably will end up skipping the track in future plays (and that's nothing against intrumentals - I wouldn't skip "Turn, The Centuries Turn" for example - just that this sounds like four guys in a pub jamming). The real opener to the album is the next track, "Freedom Is Insane", which has proven to be a grower. JJ's vocals have rarely been bettered. Title track "Giants" is interestingly quirky and fits between Aural Sculpture and Dreamtime musically. "Lowlands" is a second disappointing song - musically it's fine, but lyrically there's no connection to the listener about the band singing about being on tour. After a shaky start, however, the albums rocks through the excellent and catchy "Boom Boom" (one of my favourites here), the quiet but deadly "My Fickle Resolve", the clunky but singable "Time Was Once On My Side", the superbly quirky "Mercury Rising", menacing "Adios", and the perfect closer "15 Steps".

What would have been five stars is let down by the instrumental and "Lowlands", and the patchy "Giants" and "Time Was Once On My Side" - but the other songs here are up with the best the Stranglers have ever offered.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 28, 2012 10:37 AM BST

Something For Everybody
Something For Everybody
Price: £11.54

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We're All Devo Now!, 14 July 2010
This review is from: Something For Everybody (Audio CD)
If I were to pick three bands that shaped my life then they would be: The Stranglers, Blondie, and DEVO. Each of them had an important impact on my formative years, and each of them are still producing music of the finest quality. We've had to wait awhile for a new DEVO album, but any spud out there who has heard this will know it was worth the wait. This is top quality DEVO - an album I would place stylistically between Freedom Of Choice and New Traditionalists, and equal to either of them.

Yes, many of the songs here sound very similar, and I prefer to play pieces individually rather than as an album as a whole; but then that's no different to their earlier albums. All the quirks, repetitive rhythms, catchy and jokey and pertinent lyrics, and their personal ethos run through these songs. Whilst they might not catch new fans with these, they will delight their loyal fans. It's a celebration of Devolution!

Favourite tracks would be What We Do, Please Baby Please, Sumthin', and the joyous March On! (A new anthem if ever I heard one). The only dud(ish) song here is Mind Games, which doesn't have the cool factor of the other songs.

In a decade where 'product' is now everything, here is Something For Everybody. If it feels familiar, it's because DEVO were right all along. Later Is Now.

The Language of Dying [hc]
The Language of Dying [hc]
by Sarah Pinborough
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A strong novella with a mature 'horror' voice, 28 Dec. 2009
This is an excellent novella, one which could easily be mainstream but which contains a tiny thread of the supernatural to contain it within that genre. The story is told by the middle child of a family of five - not quite in one camp and not quite in the other - who is nursing her father in the former family home through the last vestiges of lung cancer. Her thoughts, feelings, actions; indeed, those of all the characters; are crystal clear, real. There is no doubt in the reader's mind that the character has lived this story, which roots it in everyday consciousness. The prose is precise, breathtaking at times, without being over-intense. The conceit of having the dying father referred to without as "you" seems inspired. The reader is right in the 'action', and the 'action' is tiny and personal and heartbreaking.

The supernatural element (probably more of a metaphor than anything else), doesn't feel necessary to this tale. It doesn't spoil it, but it doesn't add much either. Yet, conversely, this is also the most subtle piece of horror that I'm likely to read this year.

Beautiful, powerful, magical.

Nick Of Time [DVD] [1996]
Nick Of Time [DVD] [1996]
Dvd ~ Johnny Depp
Offered by Jasuli
Price: £7.95

7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One of the worst movies I've ever seen, 13 Dec. 2009
This review is from: Nick Of Time [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
I rented this on the strength of Depp and Walken but words fail to describe how bad this movie is. It tries to be Hitchcockian but is just cock.

Edited in 'real time' (not filmed in 'real time' which is totally different) it attempts to be clever as the seconds pass away. Ninety minutes has never felt so long. So many people are in on the plot that the concept of 'persuading' Depp to kill the governor is high farce - at times it feels like he's the only one who doesn't know what's going down. Instead, he moves from one ridiculous scenario to another - even including a dream sequence which is patently ridiculous and riffs off "Vertigo" before Depp wakes up - constantly badgered by Walken who is so close to Depp at all times that he couldn't possibly disassociate himself if his 'plot' worked out.

Unbelieveable plot, poor acting, eighties dialogue (I actually wondered if it was set in the eigthies or a parody of the eighties, but this does actually imitate the decade that taste forgot), utterly nonsensical, and just badly written, edited, and directed, it must be avoided at all costs.

I don't often write reviews. Usually when I absolutely love something or absolutely hate something. And even with the latter I have to really hate it, but I'm so incensed it's just got to be done.

Don't insult your intelligence. Rent or buy something, anything, else!
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 8, 2014 11:34 PM BST

Diary Of The Dead - Single Disc Edition [DVD]
Diary Of The Dead - Single Disc Edition [DVD]
Dvd ~ Joshua Close
Price: £2.50

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I am a camera with my shutter open, 29 Oct. 2008
In Christopher Isherwood's "Goodbye to Berlin" we have a character looking down at events happening in the street below: "I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking." What "Diary of the Dead" does very well is to examine the relationship between the viewer, the voyeur, and the filmmaker. I think where the movie loses points from the teen market is because it's very much an auteur's movie. Romero knows where he wants to go with this and he does so, brilliantly; but the little kiddies out there will clamour for fast zombies and typical thrills because they can only lap up what they're force fed. Horror doesn't have to be scary, it has to be believeable in order to be relevant. Here, Romero is very relevant.

Romero, interestingly enough, takes the teenage kick penetrating modern horror flicks, but then doesn't do the obvious with it. And when he does tread the familiar it's very tongue in cheek (the opening scene, later repeated, with the ripped blouse for example). All of Romero's movies are flawed and that's what I like about them. He stamps his vision on the movie and we don't get some chocolate box wrapped up for the consumber market with toy and gaming products built in. What we get is skewed genuis, some occasional touches of brilliance (the deaf farmer is pure class), and a few flaws (no one suffers great emotional loss - but then if they did so all we would have is relentless sobbing: we have to suspend our disbelief to take the ride).

I'd rate this up there with "Night of the Living Dead". The final scene is chilling, because it's utterly believeable. The marriage of pure horror with real horror. Add to that the compulsion we have to contextualise ourselves, whether in film or in our heads, and you have a fun, thoughtful, entertaining, and genuine zombie movie experience.

Run, Fat Boy, Run [DVD]
Run, Fat Boy, Run [DVD]
Dvd ~ Simon Pegg
Price: £2.66

5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars dreadful, 25 May 2008
This review is from: Run, Fat Boy, Run [DVD] (DVD)
I really feel that quality actors and writers such as Pegg have a duty to the public to turn down roles in rubbish such as this. It's absolutely dreadful with no redeeming qualities. After a while I began to wonder whether it was deliberately parodying American/English comedies, but reluctantly realised that it didn't even have that depth. No one turns in a good performance, and the tree in the park had more charisma than Thandie Newton and was even less wooden. Utter utter rubbish and a waste of everyone's time.

Woman Is A Woman [DVD] [1960] [US Import]
Woman Is A Woman [DVD] [1960] [US Import]
Offered by Smaller World Future
Price: £59.68

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars it doesn't get any better than this, 25 Nov. 2006
Quite simply, this is my favourite film of all time. Wonderful, inspiring, intriguing, heartfelt, loveable, comic, and utterly utterly brilliant. Godard is incomparable as always, yet this is him at his most congenial. You have no excuse not to watch this movie!

Suite XVI
Suite XVI
Offered by mrtopseller
Price: £4.95

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 piece, 5 stars!, 6 Oct. 2006
This review is from: Suite XVI (Audio CD)
I was a huge Stranglers fan from the late 70s onwards but once Hugh left so did a spark of creativity, and whilst Paul did an admirable job ("In The Night" is one of my favourite albums), each subsequent album up to the truly dire "Coup De Grace" lost a little along the way. "Norfolk Coast" was a great return to form, although after a few plays I found I was choosing other stuff to listen to and haven't really touched it since. But now they're back as a four piece the music is much more exciting, tighter, and the vocals much much better. There are some excellent songs on here: "Relentless" being my favourite - totally brilliant! "See Me Coming" is easily the worst song and feels like it harks back to some of the 90s albums, but other than that this is The Stranglers again, as we truly know and love them!

Beyond Elysian Fields
Beyond Elysian Fields
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.99

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great return to form, 11 Oct. 2004
This review is from: Beyond Elysian Fields (Audio CD)
When you look at the most recent Stranglers album you realise just how little they've come since Hugh left the band in 1990. Whilst containing some good songs, "Norfolk Coast" travels the same road they've been on for the last ten years whereas Hugh's solo output, in contrast, has been more sporadic and not entirely successful, but the previous two albums to this one ("Guilty" and "Hi-Fi") promised a truly great album to follow, and yes: "Beyond Elysian Fields" is it.
The depth of muscianship and songwriting talent on this CD is superb, with each song an absolute delight for the ears. Favourites would have to include "Beauty on the Beach", "Cadiz" and "Henry Moore", but it's so hard to pick out a favourite because they all contain the illusive ingredient of "talent" so often lacking in post-punk solo albums. And in addition the rich production by Tony Visconti perfectly compliments the songs.
This isn't a retro-punk album (thank God), but a superlative showcase of an imaginative songwriter at his best. Buy it!

by Nicholas Royle
Edition: Paperback

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars what more do you want from a book?, 15 Jun. 2004
This review is from: Antwerp (Paperback)
Nicholas Royle has pulled off an enviable feat with "Antwerp", constructing an intelligent, richly-detailed slice of literature that works as a fast-paced, grimly-fiendish thriller whilst also engaging as a vibrant dissemination on life -v- art and the interconnections inbetween.
Royle's prose is elegant and flawless, his descriptions of the city are spot-on, and his handling of plot and tension is both intricate and gripping. Whilst readers of his previous books will note familiar threads (abandoned buildings, the surrealist artist Paul Delvaux, abducted girlfriends - and indeed, "Antwerp" is a loose sequel to "The Directors Cut"), all these familiarities engage in such a way that it feels the previous novels have been building blocks to this one. For previous Royle readers the shared experience creates a multi-layered book from a multi-layered author.
Unequivocably recommended.

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