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R. Bingham (London)

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The White Lie
The White Lie
by Andrea Gillies
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars "The truth doesn't lie in what people don't tell each other", 21 April 2012
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This review is from: The White Lie (Paperback)
A beautifully written novel whose characters remain with you after you've put the book down for the final time.

Narrated by the spirit of a young man, this is the tale of how deceits, secrets, rumours and guilt relating to two young deaths affect four generations of a Scottish family. It's also an insightful, entertaining, moving and sometimes very funny meditation on the nature and the importance of truth.

Buy it, you won't regret it.

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Price: £4.07

10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yes, please, 21 Mar. 2009
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This review is from: Yes (Audio CD)
A good PSB album. Its closest sibling is probably NightlifeNightlife and many of these upbeat melodic songs would not have been out of place on that 1999 CD.

A synopsis:
The Way It Used To Be - the best track which thumps along nicely and has Neil's vocal taking the parts of two characters looking back on a past relationship.
Building A Wall - a real grower that really is about walls, and references the Berlin one, Hadrian's and probably the one in Neil's back garden.
All Over The World - almost a Domino Dancing and Tchaikowsky mashup. A pop song about pop music that should be heard all over the world.
Beautiful People - Johnny Marr's guitar brings a sixties flavour to proceedings. The character in the song is daydreaming that his/her boring life might be replaced by a glamorous celeb one; the anithesis to Love etc, the bouncy opening track, which says that money, fame and fast cars aren't what matter. It's love, silly.
Legacy - somewhat odd reflection on the loss of power of an ex-leader, probably Blair. Occasionally they do things like this - the mice, the film, The Sound of the Atom Splitting; we all make mistakes.
Pandemonium - starts off like the offspring of Blondie's Call Me and the theme from Doctor Who but never reaches those heights again (what could?).
More Than a Dream - Obama's presidential campaign to a disco beat.
Vulnerable - a typical PSB song that could have appeared on any PSB album in the last 25 years. That is not a criticism, by the way.
Did You See Me Coming - Johnny Marr's guitar introduces what sounds like a long lost track from Very.
The King of Rome - the only slow track here sees Neil looking for love and hoping for "your beautiful embrace" but we all know he's not going to get it.

So, all in all, what you'd expect. And if you were hoping for Margery Allingham, Napoleon's son, Jesus, the Man From Uncle, Captain Britain and Daphne du Maurier, you've struck gold. They are the best and we'll miss them when they've gone.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 30, 2009 1:45 AM BST

Concrete: in Concert at the Mermaid Theatre for Radio 2 with the BBC Concert Orchestra
Concrete: in Concert at the Mermaid Theatre for Radio 2 with the BBC Concert Orchestra
Price: £9.99

3 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What have we done to deserve this?, 25 Oct. 2006
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I've always hated "live" albums and I've always loved Pet Shop Boys. So when the two meet, what happens?

Actually, it's nothing to get excited about. An odd selection of songs, recorded in front of an invited audience with some guest vocalists. All the new songs are done better on the new album "Fundamental". Superior versions of the famous PSB songs are available on the greatest hits album "PopArt".

As for the guest vocalists, Robbie Williams fluffs the words, Rufus Wainwright is virtually incomprehensible and Frances Barber does a facsimile of her version of Friendly Fire on the Closer To Heaven soundtrack (well she would, she's a great actress).

The two stars in my review go to Neil Tennant's between songs chat.

You'd be better off buying "Fundamental" or going to see Pet Shop Boys in the flesh. As for my copy of "Concrete", it will sit on the shelf with my other CDs till it decays or gets nicked. It certainly won't get played again.

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Price: £5.98

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indefinite Leave To Remain, 31 May 2006
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This review is from: Fundamental (Audio CD)
This could be their best work; it's certainly right for 2006.

The slower songs reach dizzy heights not seen on a Pet Shop Boys record since Behaviour: Indefinite Leave To Remain and I Made My Excuses And Left explore the hope and sadness of love as well as Jealousy and To Face The Truth from their greatest album.

With Integral and I'm With Stupid, they strike at the heart of the New Labour they once championed in a way reminiscent of their ridicule of Thatcher's government of the eighties with Opportunities and Shopping. On Twentieth Century Neil Tennant recognises that he, along with many other well-intentioned people, was wrong about the Iraq War: "I bought a ticket to the revolution and cheered when the statues fell", but "Sometimes the solution is worse than the problem". Well, yes, that's what we were trying to tell you.

Other highlights are Minimal which is an epic younger sibling of New Order's True Faith and The Sodom and Gomorrah Show, an invitation to a fabulous party that would have Being Boring as its climax.

But the coup de grace is Numb. Yes, it is jarring to hear Neil Tennant sing the words "I don't wanna feel nothing"; he might have got the War wrong but he does know a thing or two about grammar. At first I was shocked to find myself keep going back to this song that wasn't written by the Pet Shop Boys and thinking "this is wonderful" - I thought I loved them because they were original. But then I thought of the songs they had recorded that they hadn't written - Always On My Mind, Go West, It's Alright. All classics, all improved by the Pet Shop Boys' treatment. I realised then why I really love the Pet Shop Boys: because they have taste and style and they recognise a great song and perform it the way it should be done.

They have indefinite leave to remain.

The Curse of Blondie
The Curse of Blondie

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect pop, 15 Oct. 2003
This review is from: The Curse of Blondie (Audio CD)
Blondie's last album No Exit was an odd bunch of songs with a few signs that the old spark was still there (Nothing Is Real But The Girl, Maria and Under The Gun). So I must admit I was expecting more of the same with The Curse of Blondie. I was wrong. It's fantastic.
Highlights, and there are loads, include the classic Blondie power pop of Undone and End To End - both of which could have made it onto Eat To The Beat. My favourite at the moment is End To End "We kissed on New Year's Eve, we changed the century". No-one ever mentions that Debbie Harry is one of pop's best lyricists, so I just have. Then there are the rockier tracks: Golden Rod, Last One In The World and the strangely moving Diamond Bridge. If you've ever enjoyed a Blondie album then these tracks alone should make it worthwhile for you to buy The Curse.
But this is a Blondie album, and there are unexpected musical diversions. So we get their Duran Duran impression (Good Boys), rap/urban (Shakedown), The Tide Is High revisited (Background Melody) and the indescribable The Tingler which could actually be the really big hit here.
And to finish there is a song like no other Blondie song. It's called Songs of Love. The first time I heard it I thought it must be a Jacques Brel composition that had passed me by. It's a truly beautiful song and will break a lot of hearts.
The Curse of Blondie is a perfect pop album by a band that keep surprising.

Evolution [Limited Edition]
Evolution [Limited Edition]
Offered by sdiscs.
Price: £62.95

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Never, ever make it with your own reflection, 19 May 2003
This should have been so good. All of Dead Or Alive's best records on CD at last. But instead of a collection of the 7" singles you mostly get the 12" remixes instead.
The original version of You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) that sold millions of copies on vinyl is not even here. It's replaced by the Murder Mix, the Alternative Metro Mix and Mark Moore's Mix but surely we all want the one we danced to a thousand times? Well I do.
Dead Or Alive made some of the best three minute pop songs of the 80s. Unfortunately, sometimes these were stretched into six or seven minute remixes and outstayed their welcome, such as the one of Brand New Lover here.
The same goes for a pedestrian My Heart Goes Bang and Hooked On Love. I thought I'd remembered it all wrong but then I got my seven inches out (!) and I was right. The single mixes were faster and better.
There's an unnecessary 2000 remix of a once perfect Something In My House but Turn Around And Count To Ten survives the 2003 remix and still shines.
Happily, In Too Deep is unblemished and intact but on the whole this is a CD spoilt by someone trying far too hard and I suspect it's not Pete Burns.
The CD itself is beautifully packaged with some wonderful photographs. It's just such a shame that this is not the best of Dead Or Alive that it should have been. The post-1990 stuff is not really worth including and many of the great songs are ruined by remixes. My heart goes OHHH!

The Hunter
The Hunter
Price: £5.75

9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Can I Find The Right Words To Say?, 10 Feb. 2003
This review is from: The Hunter (Audio CD)
Although this is probably Blondie's worst album I'm glad I own a copy.

The best song is the opening "Orchid Club" which is an awesome track featuring superb vocals from Debbie Harry over tribal drumming. Featuring some of Blondie's most obscure vocals ("Oh the boys' herb, vanilla, vanilla!") it hints at what they were trying to achieve with this album. Unfortunately it is also apparent that they soon gave up.

The two singles "Island of Lost Souls" and "War Child" sound better in 2003 than they did in 1982 but the rest of the album is a disappointment.

The nadir is "Dragonfly" which seems to be a commentary (as in David Coleman) of a spacecraft race. I defy anyone to listen to it twice.

"For Your Eyes Only" was commissioned as the theme to a James Bond film as someone else mentions here. Much better than the song that got the job (Sheena Easton's), it, like most of the album, sounds like it was recorded from the room next door to the studio. (Anoraks might be interested to find out that when Debbie Harry was asked about Sheena Easton's song she said she thought it was by Kate Bush).

"The Beast" is an attempt to re-create "Rapture" but like many of the songs here is just a scale progression of notes and not a tune - the worst offender being "Can I Find The Right Words To Say". I'm sad to say that the person responsible for this is Chris Stein who obviously can write songs because he's responsible for one of the golden moments in pop music as he also wrote "Sunday Girl".

"Little Caesar" is really, really terrible, "English Boys" is sweet but (unnecessarily) exposes the limitations of Harry's range, "Danceway" sounds unfinished and the beautiful "The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game" is a hint at what lies ahead for Debbie Harry as a singer with The Jazz Passengers.

I think The Hunter should be treated as an unfinished album by a troubled band. There are hints at what it could have been but it sounds like they gave up after two or three songs. Having said this, it's worth owning if just for "War Child".

Disco 3
Disco 3
Offered by Books-and-Sounds
Price: £7.94

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Debussy to a disco beat, 7 Feb. 2003
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This review is from: Disco 3 (Audio CD)
More like Introspective 2 than Disco 3.
A few superb new tracks and excellent, radical remixes of recent favourites.
At last they've released "Positive Role Model" which must mean that it will now never be a single - are they mad? For anyone who doesn't know, it's a sample of the best bit of the Barry White song "My First, My Last, My Everything" with some typical Tennant re-invent yourself lyrics; you might remember they performed it at Glastonbury a few years ago. It's fantastic.
The new versions of "Home and Dry", "London" and "Here" bear no resemblence to those on last year's "Release". They are reworked with a techno beat and are all the better for it.
But the highlights of Disco 3 are the new songs. "Try it (I'm in Love With A Married Man)" must be the best thing they've done since "Can You Forgive Her" while "Somebody Else's Business" and "If Looks Could Kill" are PSB songwriting at its best - gone is the maudlin and portentous atmosphere that has blighted some of their output since "Very" and it's been replaced by what we all loved in the first place - wry, understated and interesting lyrics to a disco beat.
The CD finishes with a second version of "London" the "Genuine Piano Mix". This was my favourite song from "Release" and is such a refreshing antidote to all the tabloid and politicians' rubbish about asylum seekers. "Tell it like it is" they say. They do, and it, like the rest of Disco 3 is a credit to the Pet Shop Boys. I can't recommend it highly enough.

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