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Andrew Rossiter (Halesowen, England)

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Rare Rock 'n' Roll Rampage (4CD)
Rare Rock 'n' Roll Rampage (4CD)
Price: £15.98

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely first class!, 25 Aug. 2010
To be honest, I mostly bought this album due to it's name. Who doesn't want an album entitled "Rare Rock 'n' Roll Rampage" in their collection!?! Another factor though was the fact that I only had 1 out of the 100 songs already (the magnificent "At The Hop"), which is becoming unusual. Being a lover of Rock 'n' Roll music I knew I wasn't taking much of a chance on this 4CD set, and I was proved right in sublime fashion!

The CD is part of the "properbox" collection, which means not only do you get 4CDs, but a book with possibly some of the best liner notes around. Not only do they give you a very detailed history of each artist but also a "discography" detailing all the information you need to know about each records release. The CDs are individually encased in flimsy cardboard only but the box as a whole is quite robust.

The recordings themselves are brilliant. Ranging from about 1951-57 these songs are pure Rock 'n' Roll. At The Hop is the stand out track that most Rock 'n' Roll fans will know; also included in this cd is it's B side "Sometimes When Im All Alone" a beautifully haunting Rock 'n' Roll ballad. It's hard to pick out songs as so many are just so good, but an obvious one is the hilarious song "Bald Head" about dating/marrying women who are bald. There is no way the Treniers would be able to get away with it now, but still a great concept for a song!

There are quite a few songs that are famous but by artists that aren't associated with them. e.g. "Blue Suede Shoes" by Boyd Bennett & His Rockets; Freddie Bell & The Bellboys with two versions of "Hound Dog" (Elvis recorded his version in immitation of Freddie Bell when he saw him perform it in Vegas) and Rock-A-Beatin' Boogie by the Treniers (although written for them by Bill Haley due to his later success his version is more well known) These fresh "new" versions of these songs I knew were brilliant to hear as they all carry the same sort of punch that the well known versions do. (Quick note: Poison Ivy is not the same song as the coatsers/paramounts more famous song, it is completely different)

The sound quality of these recordings is fine. I have other Rock 'n' Roll cds that sound "cleaner" which makes me think that these tracks aren't digitally remastered. But what you lose in perfect clarity you gain in authenticity; they sound like you've got the songs blaring out from your record player which adds to feel of songs. As there isn't a huge variety of artists on the cds - about 16-17 across the 4CDs - the detailed liner notes help you get a real feel for the artists you are listening to frequently and after a few listens (and reads of the book) you can start picking out which artist is which quite easily.

It's hard to describe just how good this box set is without being able to play you snippets from the songs. So you'll just have to trust me that pretty much all 100 songs are superb pieces of Rock 'n' Roll history.

Just About As Good As It Gets!: Great Rockabilly Vol.4
Just About As Good As It Gets!: Great Rockabilly Vol.4
Price: £17.78

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than the first!, 14 Feb. 2010
Well as the title of this review suggests, I've enjoyed this volume even more than I enjoyed the first. (As of yet I haven't got vol. 2 + 3) I've found it seems to have a slightly more rock 'n' roll feel. The recordings seem to be that little more accomplished with a little bit more RnB in them than the first volume. This, for me, makes it slightly easier to listen to all the way through as there is slightly more variation. Either that or I just prefer the slightly more accomplished sound! Strangely enough even the quality of music (not the recording) sounds better even though there are less big names on here, which may explain why tracks seem superior to the less well known ones on vol 1.

As with the first volume I doubt there are many artists or songs that anybody other than a die hard rockabilly fan will know. But it really does give that sense of hearing "new" music. Also, now that I own two volumes, I'm starting to be able to pick out particular artists like Skeets McDonald, George "Thumper" Jones and Mac Curtis. Also on here though are artists not on volume 1 (though unsure about 2+3) like Larry Donn; whose Honey Bun opens the second disc and the likes of Johnny Cash, Eddie Cochran and Buddy Holly's brilliant songs still don't beat it. Both discs are so good that when you listen to them you forget why you preferred the other disc when you last listened to it.

Just in case you've stumbled across this cd without having seen or heard volumes 1,2 and 3 Rockabilly was a genre of music that grew in the American South and was a early form of Rock 'n' Roll that took more influence from the country "hillbilly" music than the r'n'b or blues music. This means that it is mostly guitar driven music with sometimes country 'n' western sounding voices (especially Janis Martin). The vast majority of the songs, however, are closer to what would be classed as Rock 'n' Roll rather than country, with a fair bit of slap bass being a main factor in the difference between the two.

If you already own some of the "Great Rockabilly: Just about as good as it gets" cds don't think that the genre is all used up and these records must much poorer because although most of them either never got released or never hit the charts, they are every bit as good as the songs already featured. With 35 songs on each disc (70 in total) it provides absolute value for money. It is a great addition to the rest of the collection and if number 5 is as good as this one, I can't wait 'til they decide to make it and bring it out!

The Arabian Nights: Tales of 1,001 Nights: Volume 1 (Penguin Classics)
The Arabian Nights: Tales of 1,001 Nights: Volume 1 (Penguin Classics)
by Robert Irwin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £17.60

120 of 121 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Both a resource and direct read, 6 Feb. 2010
This translation of the 1001 Arabian Nights is excellent. It makes it so much more accessible than the Richard Burton ones from the 1800's. I'm sure there will be many purists out there who don't like the translation "for taking too many liberties with the original text" as penguin are being accused of time and again. However, for those who can't read it in it's original language it brings the stories right into your comfy armchair.

I have already found myself cross referencing the stories I've read in this volume with the mentions in the works of Alexandre Dumas. I've also found myself answering cross-word questions I couldn't have dreamed of before. But it not only works from a snobby literature "I've read the Arabian Nights" perspective but gives a brilliant insight into Medieval Arabia and is highly engaging. It also has many parts that leave you laughing aloud. It's brilliant to end on the story of Al Baba and the forty theives as well, as it is one of the most well known of the stories.

I know this review hasn't done such a large collection of Stories much justice but as I'm about start the second volume I haven't got the time to write a better one! I can't wait to get properly stuck into the second volume and the third is still waiting patiently on my shelf! A great collection to have, whether you want to read the stories right the way through or read the odd story whilst trying to decide what book to read next.

As a slight after note, and only after realising Amazon doesnt supply the info, I have decided it may be beneficial to let potential buyers know what stories are contained in this volume. There are main stories and then these are often split into smaller stories. I shall just supply the titles of the main stories as, if a story will be recognised, it will be from that:

Intro (the story of the King and his bride)
Night 1-3 - The Merchant and the jinni
" 3-9 - The Fisherman and the 'ifrit
" 9-19 - The Porter and the three ladies
" 19-24 - Harun al-Rashid and the fisherman's chest
" 24-34 - The Hunchback
" 34-38 - Nur al-Din 'Ali and Anis al-Jalis
" 38-45 - Ghanim ibn Ayyub, the slave of love
" 45-145 - King 'Umar ibn al-Nu'man and his family
146-147 - The peahen, the duck and the gazelle
147-148 - The pious shepherd
148 - The water fowl and the tortoise
148-150 - The wolf and the fox
150 - The weasel and the mouse - The crow and the cat
150-152 - The fox and the crow
152 - The Hedgehog and the doves - The theif with the monkey - The sparrow and the peacock
153-169 - 'Ali ibn Bakkar and Shams al-Nahar
170-249 - The story of King Shahriman and his son, Qamar al-Zaman
249-270 - 'Ala' al-Din Abu'l-Shamat
270-271 - Hatim of Tayy
271-272 - Ma'n ibn Za'ida
272-273 - The city of Labtit
273 - Hisham ibn 'Abd al-Malik and the young Bedouin
273-276 - Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi
276-279 - 'Abd Allah ibn Abi Qilaba and Iram, City of the columns
279-282 - Ishaq ibn al-Mausili
282-285 - The slaughterhouse cleaner and the lady
285-294 - Harun al-Rashid and 'the second caliph'
294 - 'Ali the Persia - The story of Ali Baba and the forty theives killed by a slave girl.

This list may not be of huge use to many people but for those who either want to, or need to, know what stories are in what volume, I hope this helps.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 15, 2011 6:43 PM BST

Daydream Believer - The Collection Vol 1
Daydream Believer - The Collection Vol 1
Price: £3.54

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars but ..., 17 May 2009
Definiately five stars for this Monkees collection. I came to this album only knowing I'm a believer and daydream believer and small bits of theme from the mokees, and i was very impressed with rest of the tracks on this album. Agreeably some may be considered slightly cheesy, but tehre is a lot of good quality songs on this album which I never knew existed. As someone who was born in the 80's I do not know how many of the other songs on this album would be well known. But my advice is, whether you know them or not, give this album a try!

However, the but is that Last Train To Clarksville does not feature on this album. That song was one of the Monkees most well known songs and will probbly disappoint a fair few people that it is not on here. Also "Stepping Stone", possibly not as famous as Last Train but still very good, does not feature. To remedy the situation I would advise to get The Monkees Platinum Collection Vol. 2, alongside this album. Although the title is different it is effectively the second volume to this album. As galling as it is to be induced by a money making scheme of splitting up the most well known songs, it has made me appreciate more of the Monkees music than I previously would have done.

By getting both albums it covers pretty much everything of the Monkees you could wish to own. Although the Definitive Monkees has more tracks it still works out as more expensive and some of the additional tracks are really rather peripheral work, as even a couple of tracks on the platinum vol 2 cd start to waver in quality compared to the rest.

Great Rockabilly 1955-1956
Great Rockabilly 1955-1956
Price: £9.80

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure Rockabilly, 8 May 2009
What a fantastic cd this is! I got this cd knowing a little about Rockabilly music from other rock 'n' roll compilation albums and desided to go for this cd to expand my knowledge on rockabilly. I am so glad i did!
Most people I would imagine know very few of the songs on this album, and a couple they do know may be done other artists than those they expected. However this feeling of listening to "unknown" artists gives you the sense dicovering new artists that most people my age (21) get the feeling when they hear brand new bands just breaking onto the new music scenes of today.

As much as I love this album and thoroughly recommend it, for those who have never heard anything remotely like rockabilly, a lot of it does sound very similar as many of the influences were the same. If like me you have the philisophy of "if it isn't broken, don't fix it" then this won't bother you, however if you have to have huge variety on an album this may not be for you.

For those who don't know what Rockabilly was/is, it is a music form that came about during the mid-late 1950's fusing together country and R&B music creating a rock 'n' roll sound that was more heavily influenced in country than others like Fats Domino who came more exclusively from the R&B side. Elvis was the leading early Rockabilly artist those this sound was mostly lost when he moved to RCA from Sun Records. This means that post Heartbreak Hotel, the Rockabilly sound isn't really there any more.

Sun Records, based in Memphis, was the leading exponent of Rockabilly, with most of the artists on these 2 cds from Sun. This record label was responsible for the discovery of the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Elvis. The later three all feature on this album.

All the recordings on this album are the original ones, meaning no annoying re-recordings with artists when they are past it like some albums do. This helps to give the album a very authentic feel as though you're listening to these songs on a record player, even though the quality of the recordings are superb.

I think this album is well worth an investment for people with a limited knowledge of Rockabilly and even those who know and love the genre may find quite a few tracks on here that they don't know or don't own. Thoroughly recommended, and can't wait 'til i get volumes 2+3!!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 14, 2010 12:43 PM GMT

Leaders Of The Pack: The Very Best Of
Leaders Of The Pack: The Very Best Of
Price: £10.48

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great CD, 2 Jan. 2009
I knew only the first two tracks on this album by the Shangri-las before I decided I wanted to research them and see if a best of would be worth while. As soon as I started listening to other tracks of theirs I suddenly realised how underated the rest of their material is. Being born in 1988 means that I obviously wasn't around when the were recording but on the various 60's compilation albums I own, it is always Leaders of the Pack or Remember that make the grade as they were the groups biggest hits.

If either you knew the Shangri Las when they were recording or like me you've got into them knowing the odd few songs, this album is well worth a look at. From the extensive research I did looking at various Shangri-Las albums the two that I narrowed it down to was this one and "the best of" which contains the same songs bar the last four of the best of album and the last 7 or so of this album.

Deciding which one to get isn't easy! I had a listen to all the songs I would miss getting either album and decided that my love for the song "Twist and Shout" pulled me towards this album. The four songs featured on the best of are all very good songs whereas the songs towards the end of this album are a bit hit and miss. Though the live version of Twist and Shout made me get this CD and I would recommend it to anyone for that reason, if your not a huge fan of the song, the best of may be the one for you.

In recommending the best of album I am not taking anything away from this album. I stand by a five star rating as from the 29 songs featured their are only a couple of let downs; the last song probably being the biggest. But so many of these songs should have done so much better in the charts than they did. The style of some of the songs is very similar as it contains talking to set the scene of the story but if you like it in leaders of the pack and Remember then it shouldn't annoy you on the other tracks, though for those who like a lot of different styles there are only a few songs that move away from the Shangri-Las defining sound.

The liner notes are very interesting and give a nice background to the songs on the album and well as to the group themselves. Thoroughly enjoyable CD whether your discovering them for the first time as I was or going back over the songs you knew when you were younger.

Ain't Got No Home: The Best of Clarence "Frogman" Henry
Ain't Got No Home: The Best of Clarence "Frogman" Henry
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £5.56

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars But I Do!, 2 Jan. 2009
Having had this album for Christmas it was every bit as good as I hoped. Although not a completely definitive "Frogman" album it does contain his two most well known songs: The bizarre yet brilliant "Ain't got no home" and a superb song that features on the Forrest Gump soundtrack "But I Do". The only other song I know well which isn't featured here is "Sea Cruise" and although a great song is no major loss.

For those who may have heard Ain't got no home and been put off by the singing like a girl and a frog ... this is the only track on the album that features him singing this way, the occasion slip into a deeper tone sounds similar to his frog voice but all the rest of the songs feature him singing in a style very similar to Fats Domino (Henry's inspiration)

This album is well worth the money though people may want to have a brief listen to some of the songs to make sure its to their taste. A great album of the work of a little known quality singer.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 11, 2013 9:53 PM BST

Hannibal: Pride Of Carthage
Hannibal: Pride Of Carthage
by David Anthony Durham
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant read - (and some answers to a few criticisms), 12 Dec. 2008
This book is a fantastic read for anyone; whether with prior knowledge of the second punic war or not. The characters are brilliantly portrayed with an engaging plot line sensitive to the original works of the ancient authors themselves. The battle scenes are described in much detail. Due to the descriptions of the battles and the odd sex scene, be wary of what age person you buy this book for.

Although some events may have been slightly changed and peoples personal motives are given when no historian can ever truly know the intentions of someone living 2,000+ years ago. This is where the fiction part comes in. To get the reader to know the people involved in events the author has to make decisions as to which motive serves the book best and I felt Mr. Durham did that exceptionally well. What impressed me most, however, was the sense that the author was on one side or the other. The objectivity of the book is a breath of fresh air in historical fiction, with neither side being portrayed as a "baddy" or "goody".

I am not a huge fan of interference of fictional charcters into main plot lines so was glad when the fictional charcters of Imco and Aradna did not alter events by their own actions. i found the story between the two of them very moving and felt it was a worthwhile addition to the book.

I cannot praise the fluency of the author enough. Although a mammoth length, at no point does it get over bearing. Concidering even Livy (one of the main sources) was pretty much writing historcal fiction when he wrote his works on the war, i felt as though Mr. Durham handled his sources very delicately and did them great justice in a great novel.

I feel that one of the neagative reviews seems to not ultimately be about the book at all but about some of the views of Mr. Durham. The genocide of the third punic war is irrelovant to the book. I felt no political hidden agenda of the author in the slightest and was very impressed with the historical accuracy of the book. Also although predominantly a mercanary army, Hannibals crack troops were his Carthaginians which had also fought in spain with him.

I felt that the battles included were of importance to the story of the book. The title is Hannibal, therefore most of the action should be directly related to the title character. The battles of Scipio Africanus in Spain are of importance as they chart the rise of the man who would eventually defeat Hannibal. Whereas Syracuse, although a brilliant piece of commandership from Marcllus, does not directly effect Hannibal apart from the loss of a major city on Sicily.

I am glad the author stopped the book where he did. Although I love the conversation recorded in the Periochae of Livy between Scipio and Hannibal ... the likelihood of it actually taking place are so remote and would take away from the book.

This is a fantastic book, and would thoroughly recommend it. Don't be put off by the odd negative review; whether Hannibal was black or not is of very little consequence ... the story is very well told and was engaging from start to finish. Superb.

A Brief History of Rock 'n' Roll: The Spirit of 1956!
A Brief History of Rock 'n' Roll: The Spirit of 1956!
by Nick Johnstone
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, 12 Dec. 2008
Being a lover of the rock 'n' roll music of the 1950's and yet being born in 1988, this book was really enlightening for me as it gave me a real insight into the culture that brought about rock 'n' roll music. I found the first chapter slightly hard going for two reasons. It was talking about the history of all other musical genres that brought about rock 'n' roll and although once I progressed beyond the first chapter I was glad it was included, at the time it felt non-essential. The second reason was that the author continued to write similar to the introduction which is written like a newspaper article.

After this first chapter, however, he settles into a better style of writing whilst you realise how essential it was to learn about the origins of the "black music" and country that influenced the 50's music scene.

All of the main artists are included in the book, Elvis, Bill Haley, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, and oh so many more! Luckily the book doesn't read as a name-dropper, including people for the sake of it, but rather charts the rise of pure rock 'n' roll then the influence popular culture had on it and how the musical revolution inspired later generations.

Although it does help to have at least a small knowledge of the artists involved and the music they made it can be a great starting block to rediscover a generation of music discover "new" artists that you didn't know or songs that you didn't realise certain artists sang. A great read (even with the minor flaws of a couple of misplaced facts) and an engaging way to learn about the people behind the music and lives that they led.

The Michael Caine Collection - Alfie / The Italian Job / Zulu [VHS] [1969]
The Michael Caine Collection - Alfie / The Italian Job / Zulu [VHS] [1969]

5.0 out of 5 stars Absolute genius, 5 Dec. 2008
What three films could be better placed together than these three? Michael Caine looks swish and stylish in all three. In Zulu, his first major motion picture, it is astounding how easily he pulls of the arrogance that he does. A superb film, Zulu is an epic film about an epic battle. Modelled very closely on the actual events that took place at Rorke's Drift unlike lots of Hollywood epics, there are a few minor alterations to the real story but they by no means take anything away from the film. Unlike the blurb above says, this battle actually took place during the 19th century in 1879. A brilliant film.

In Alfie Michael Caine plays an rougish antihero. As he is the narrator and the film is all about him, Alfie starts off seeming like a loveable sort of guy, but the more you learn about him, the more you realise that he should be thoroughly unlikeable. A great plot line with great acting, presents an image of the "everyday person" living in the sixties. With humour throughout, this film really is a must see.

Italian Job. Brilliant. Such a happy-go-lucky film. Although (in essence) dealing with organised crime, it a really light hearted caper with Michael Caine and Noel Coward both in excellent form. As with Alfie it has touches of the sixties about it that could not happen in a high budget remake (as happened for both films). For example in Italian Job Benny Hill plays a professor who likes really big women, and in Alfie his women aren't all the "perfect" looking women that you get in modern films.

All three films are worthy of the title classics, and will always remain so.

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