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Hermes Love "Part-time Scarecrow (AND Kindle Author!)"

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KitSound PocketBoom Universal Rechargeable Bluetooth Portable Speaker with Hands-Free Functionality Compatible with iPhone 3/3G/3GS/4/4S/5/5S/5C, iPad 2/3/4/Mini/Air, iPod Touch 5th Generation, Samsung Galaxy S2/S3/S4, Galaxy Tab 2/3 and Nexus 7 - Black
KitSound PocketBoom Universal Rechargeable Bluetooth Portable Speaker with Hands-Free Functionality Compatible with iPhone 3/3G/3GS/4/4S/5/5S/5C, iPad 2/3/4/Mini/Air, iPod Touch 5th Generation, Samsung Galaxy S2/S3/S4, Galaxy Tab 2/3 and Nexus 7 - Black
Offered by thaw001
Price: 14.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you, Mr Speaker!, 24 July 2014
I was given one of these recently by my 3G service provider as a 'free gift'. Which, thinking about it now, probably means I am being right royally ripped off there, if they can afford to send one of these in my direction for no apparent reason.

All I knew about 'Bluetooth' prior to its arrival was that my Galaxy Tab 3 already knew a heck of a lot more about 'Bluetooth' than I did. Ordinarily, gadgets don't seem to like wanting to share their expertise with me - at least, not without putting up a fight (them) or having a massive hissy fit (me). However, having unwrapped this, fairly nondescript-looking piece of equipment, I felt compelled to go cap in hand to my tablet, so as to discover enough about 'The Secret of Bluetooth' to make my little Kitsound Portable Speaker feel wanted.

Using the words 'nondescript-looking' and 'little' might seem like I am being insulting - indeed, my ex-wife frequently used to use very similar terms when she caught sight of me naked, and she was certainly not being complimentary - but I meant it in a good way. The gadget measures about 5cm by 5.5cm and is cylindrical in shape. That's little, by anyone's standards. Well, except mine I suppose. Maybe my ex-wife was right?

As for 'nondescript-looking', this gizmo is very minimalist in design. Its heaviness betrays the technology that is obviously lurking inside but, from the outside, it really doesn't look like it could put any sort of noteworthy shift in at all. Which just goes to show that you really can't judge a book by its cover, because this is actually a rather impressive piece of kit indeed, and the sound that comes out of it is surprisingly crisp and clear. It holds its charge very well although there seems to be no way of measuring just how charged up it is at any one time.

'Bluetooth' technology turned out to be embarrassingly easy to get to grips with. Having charged the speaker up via the mini USB port, I turned the speaker on and my tablet 'found' it. The loudness of the sound is dictated by whatever is set up on the device you are playing through it, since there is no volume control on the actual gadget. It can channel the power of the musical internet in a usefully mobile way, offering endless possibilities for a man to listen to Bananarama in some style - albeit, in one or two places where Bananarama themselves would probably much rather not be.

Let's just say, that the acoustic design of the average bathroom lends this speaker an extra audio dimension and leave it there, shall we?

Answering calls is a doddle; you simply press the little blue 'telephone' on the top of the speaker and Bob's your uncle. The speaker will even pause your music for you so that, when you've finished gossiping, a press of the little button again will let you carry on listening from where you left off.

It's a much more user-friendly way of answering video calls too, especially in the bathroom...

Worzel Gummidge: Libretto (Acting Edition)
Worzel Gummidge: Libretto (Acting Edition)
by Denis King
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The farm's NOT alive, with the sound of music..., 20 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As liberating as a spot of naked sunbathing can be, I'm wondering if I might have done a bit of damage to my thinking 'ead during this most recent hot spell. Nothing else can explain my sudden purchase of 'Worzel Gummidge: A Musical', a script that Jon Pertwee was intimately acquainted with during his appearances as Worzel on the stage in the early nineteen eighties.

Ah... except maybe a foolish plan to try to take on the role of our eponymous scarecrow hero myself and to perform one or two choice snippets from this script while standing (misty-eyed, wide-eyed and, presumably, pie-eyed) upon my ex-wife's doorstep. This is a lady who is certainly one of Mr Pertwee's biggest fans (if that does not, in any way, suggest that she is fat) although she sure as heck can't stand me. Given the obvious parallels between our relationship and that of Worzel and Aunt Sally, I can see why I might have concluded that that sort of thing might have been ever so slightly 'romantic'. Not to mention, thoroughly dangerous: there's a scene on pages 24 and 25, for instance, involving cross-dressing and a barrage of mutual insults, which might just as easily have come from a transcript of our marriage in the first place.

Like I said, I think the Crowman might have to fashion me a new and improved thinking 'ead. And perhaps he can make a few favourable adjustments to one or two of my other 'eads as well while he's about it...

Basically, this play seems to be a combination of a number of bits and pieces from different episodes of the television series (most notably 'Worzel's Washing Day', 'Aunt Sally', 'A Cup o' Tea and a Slice o' Cake' and 'The Trial of Worzel Gummidge') plus a few lyrics which, when taken together, produces an entertaining (if sometimes slightly sinister) self-contained musical comedy work. This flagrant pilfering is no bad thing at all, of course, given the brilliant original writing of Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall.

The important thing to note about this libretto - and why I feel obliged to only give it four stars - is that there is no clue as to how the music that accompanies the lyrics ought to go; the only exceptions to that being three songs that have been lifted straight out of the Christmas TV episode of 'Worzel Gummidge' from 1980. I think there might be the odd LP of the cast recording floating around but, since I haven't yet sent for it, that must mean that it's either incredibly expensive or as rare as hen's teeth. Presumably the latter, since I am obviously no stranger to throwing money around like a madman when the mood takes me.

All the regular characters from the series are there, as well the delightfully named 'Scabby Tater Blight' and 'Hessian Tatersack'. I think it comes to 12 male characters and 5 ladies although, in these enlightened times, I suppose the 'Vicar' could be played by pretty much anybody. It's a two-act piece with fifteen scenes, most of which are agricultural in nature, although it does strike me as being the sort of theatrical production that could cope very nicely indeed with only minimum staging, should the circumstances dictate that. I'm not too sure that that extends to a spot of semi-impromptu mummery on the doorstep of a woman who makes Una Stubbs' wooden-hearted Aunt Sally look warm and cuddly mind you, so I think that particular plan will have to go on the compost heap until further notice.

There must be more effective (not to mention safer) ways of impressing her than THAT anyway.

The play originally ran at Birmingam Rep in late 1980 before reappearing a year later for a West End run at the Cambridge Theatre. That London run is the version upon which this Acting Edition is based. Although Michael Ripper, the original 'Mr Shepherd', appeared in the Birmingham production I think, given a choice, that I would rather have caught Frank Marlborough's version of the role in London. That would be the actor who gave us 'Dafthead', a thoroughly brilliant character who, sadly, had not yet appeared on-screen when this musical was first put together, otherwise Messrs Hall and Waterhouse would surely have included him in the cast. I would have loved to have seen Bill Pertwee giving us his 'Sergeant Beetroot' at the Cambridge too.

The stage directions show how physical the role of Worzel is and it's incredible to think that Jon Pertwee was more than 60 years old when he did this. Swinging on ropes? I don't think I could manage that at my relatively young age, never mind his. Worzel's part is written just as Mr Pertwee himself would have spake it, making it very easy for would-be pretenders to his scarecrow pole (especially those of us with no common sense whatsoever) to think we could do adequate justice to the part. I take my hat off and do a fancy bow before anyone who can take this script and give a performance which does not feature, at least a little of, the former Third Doctor: because it's impossible not to imagine him enthusiastically reading these words. It's incredible just how poignant such an experience can be, drawing attention as it does to the immense energy he put into every aspect of 'Worzel Gummidge' and to the shoddy way his creation was treated in TV-land over the years.

I can only hope that he got a standing ovation every night for 'Worzel Gummidge: A Musical'.

The Finest 'Arvest Of The Wurzels Featuring Adge Cutler
The Finest 'Arvest Of The Wurzels Featuring Adge Cutler
Price: 4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I really DON'T hate you, Cutler!, 18 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As an Essex Man myself (and an Essex Man, moreover, with a top drawer full of top-drawer ladies' size 18 tops AND drawers at my disposal), I really should know better than to subscribe to any stereotypes whatsoever. All the same, after just a short time spent in the company of this compilation, it's almost impossible not to imagine the average Somerset resident as being anything other than a cider-supping, pitchfork-carrying, smock-modelling, grass-chewing, combine-harvesting, haystack-cavorting, lusty, dusty, dung-spreader.

And that's just the ladies.

No? Oh well, that must just be me then.

I hasten to add, that the ease with which such an image gets into the head of someone like me (where in my case, let's face it, it's probably going to find itself being run over pretty sharpish by a tumbleweed) is down to the creativity and good humour of 'The Wurzels' and their founder, Adge Cutler.

This 25-track CD (and accompanying MP3 download) is a highly entertaining listening experience and the sleeve notes that grace this particular collection do a sterling job of providing just the right amount of background knowledge on Adge and his band to set the musical scene for those - like me - who are not already up to speed on the subject of 'Scrumpy & Western'.

It looks like I accidentally lucked out with my purchase of this compilation over any other, since it does feature the work of the late, great, Mr Cutler: a man without whom there would evidently be no 'Wurzels' today. True, the only 'Wurzels' songs I had previously encountered were all recorded after his death, but there is something about his presence, especially on those tracks that were recorded live (and, presumably, while everyone on the premises was under the influence of a fair few flagons of cider) that really does bring an extra little touch of Somerset spirit.

'Twice Daily', for instance, is a delightfully clever song which formed the B-side to 'Drink Up Thy Zider' in 1966 and was subsequently banned by the BBC for being 'too naughty for its listeners' delicate ears' (this is the same BBC, remember, that hired Jimmy Savile as a DJ two years later: heavens, if ever an organisation had its prudish priorities seriously skewiff, the BBC have to be it). As is usually the case with risque humour though, the 'naughtiness' is entirely in the listener's own head.

Speaking personally, I can't believe that any man would willingly want to go where Adge Cutler's, somewhat hastily married, character claims to still cheerfully go 'twice daily': I was married for twelve and a half years myself and, these days, anything less than once in every other pink and blue moon would do me.

I have tried listening to this disc all the way through in one sitting but I've not come anywhere close to managing such a feat yet. I blame 'All Over Mendip', which is always there in 9th spot, waiting for me, and which is so incredibly catchy that I invariably find myself just listening to that one over and over again.

Still, even the briefest of exposures to Adge and 'The Wurzels' can leave me giving it the 'ooh aar, ooh aars' like a Mendip native. At least, I assume that's what they all sound like down there: although, of course, I might well be talking out of my own 'ooh aar, ooh aars' on that score, having never been to the county before in my life.

Ah, but all that's about to change: because friends of mine (well, they certainly used to be friends of mine: it's fair to say though, that they might not be any more) are off to Somerset for their holidays next week and I have managed to wangle an invitation to go along and join them. It wasn't easy, by any means... indeed, lesser men might well have given up, especially when their friends started using phrases like 'over my dead body' swiftly followed by, the significantly more sinister, 'alright, over YOUR dead body then'. Luckily for me though, I'm the thick-skinned sort ('thick' in most ways, apparently... at least, according to my ex-wife), and I managed to ensure their complete, if grudging, surrender by not taking 'no' for any kind of acceptable answer.

My former wife taught me everything I know about THAT approach, believe me.

I tell you what - it's a funny thing - she used to live in Rayleigh; and she hates me loads 'cause there are NO roads that would see me THERE again 'Twice Daily'...

Haunted Somerset
Haunted Somerset
by Ian Addicoat
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.25

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Devil went down to Watchet... wherever the hell THAT is., 17 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Haunted Somerset (Paperback)
I've got quite a collection of books from this series now: although I think each and every one of them has managed to drive me half-crackers with its refusal to include at least a map to assist any foreign ghost-hunting visitors to its particular locality. This one, unfortunately, is no exception. In addition to which, there is no index either. I've said it before, and it looks like I'm going to have to say it again - HOW can you have a work of local and historical interest, which shows every sign of having been methodically researched and thoughtfully put together in every other respect, without at least a diagram to show you where the places are that are being spoken of?! And surely a reader would be able to get so much more out of this book were they able to cross-reference the fascinating facts contained within it instantly, with the help of a fully paid up index?

No? Oh well, that must just be me then.

I suppose all that might just beg the question of why I continue to buy these books. The truth of the matter is, they are pretty reliable, as far as it goes. Despite the fact that they all appear to be written by different authors, most of them seem to share the same, general, format: lots of quality black and white photos, a number of first-hand spectral sightings, a touch or two of local legend and myth and an engaging writing style. It's just unfortunate that that also tends to mean no index, and certainly no map.

John Garland does manage to make his contribution to the fold especially noteworthy, by touching on the more philosophical nature of ghostly phenomena and skilfully introducing a great deal of original source material into his work. The latter is just the sort of thing that really DOES give you a feel for the Somerset area, a place I have never knowingly visited before in my life but somewhere I shall be spending a week at the end of this month, courtesy of some generous benefactors (who had sorted out a holiday down there for themselves and who weren't quite quick enough to stop me from inviting myself along with them). I intend to earn my passage though by relating, in a series of different voices (with Dame Margaret Rutherford's being something of a speciality), whatever interesting facts and figures about Somerset that I can amass before then, courtesy of books such as this one.

There is an awful lot of stuff in 'Haunted Somerset' for me to entertain them all with of an evening while I'm shining a torch under my chin in an otherwise darkened room - that is, if I can even find the book under those conditions. My favourite entry, 'Spirits of Sedgemoor', will prove even more valuable than that I think, since I am planning a trip to the battlefield in its company (that is, if I can find that either... hint, hint) to see whether or not there really is an 'overpowering sense of foreboding that pervades this bleakly inhospitable area'. That sounds a bit like my former marriage actually...

I'm not sure I shall be venturing out very far at night though, not if 'Mind the Road' is anything to go by. I don't know precisely where 'the road to Bridgewater from Watchet' might be, of course (hint, hint!), but copping a load of 'the Devil in full gallop, leading a pack of baying hounds' is an experience I can well do without, thank you very much. Actually, THAT sounds a bit like my former marriage too.

All things considered, this is a very interesting work, even reading it from several counties away like I have been. I can't wait to actually put it to good use in Somerset, where I reckon I can quite easily keep people up all night screaming as a result of my efforts.

Which sounds nothing whatsoever like my former marriage...

Countrypolitan Piano
Countrypolitan Piano
Price: 10.89

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars With an extra half-a-star for that sweater vest..., 16 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Countrypolitan Piano (Audio CD)
It's funny, I would always have proclaimed myself to have been a fan of Floyd Cramer's vast back-catalogue of music... until I took possession of (and then, somewhat laboriously, ploughed my way through) this double disc collection of his earliest work.

I mean, a fan of Floyd Cramer's music would be able to listen to each and every one of these 48 tracks with equal enthusiasm, right?

They wouldn't feel obliged to perpetually skip the first twelve tracks on the first of these discs, which amounts to the whole of the 'Hello Blues' album, on the grounds that the music offers absolutely nothing spectacular whatsoever, now would they?

They wouldn't regularly find themselves joining proceedings at 'Last Date', listening to that for a few bars, and then fast forwarding to the last four tracks from the 'Last Date' album in search of something a little more up-tempo and 'different', surely?

They wouldn't be sitting here now perusing this product's sleeve notes, desperately wrestling with the personal dilemma of whether or not Mr Cramer's natty sweater vest is entitled to one whole Amazon star, all of its own, just to drag the overall score up to something more befitting a veritable giant of the ivories, don't you think?

I would hate to use the term 'nondescript' when talking about a piano-playing legend but, well, I'm afraid that is the word that most readily comes to mind when I think about the early portion of this particular Floydian offering. Unfortunately, it does seem that my appreciation of Floyd Cramer's music begins and ends with the sort of numbers that will get my toes tapping: the sort of numbers that are, generally speaking, somewhat under-represented amongst these 48 tunes. The fact of the matter is that, to my ears, most of the stuff on here sounds pretty similar to everything else. In fact, if you blindfolded me, spun me around three times, and then played me a random snippet from any one of about thirty of them, I wouldn't be able to even hazard a guess as to their true identity (no, I'm not sure why I mentioned a blindfold either... weird). Huh - some fan I am, eh?

The sleeve notes provide a well-written potted history of Floyd Cramer's life, career and his 'slipnote sound'. And, of course, purchasing 'Countrypolitan Piano' in its physical form does unlock the door to additionally possessing it in its MP3 form... but, for me, that just means that those thirty-odd tracks are clogging up my digital music collection as well.

I'm really NOT a fan of his at all, am I?

Ah, but wait a minute - maybe there IS still some hope for me! Because from Track 20 onwards (that's 'Mumble Jumble' and the great sax playing of what, on the balance of probabilities, must be the phenomenal Boots Randolph), a number of the tunes on here and I are very much on the same wavelength. Catchy and completely unique little numbers, the majority of which warrant severe abuse of the repeat-play button, for a variety of very good reasons.

'Rumpus', for instance; which pairs some pretty splendid piano playing with just an incredibly cheerful tune. 'Heart and Soul', something I always took to be rather a dull tune but which is utterly addictive here thanks in no small part to a truly beautiful strings arrangement. 'San Antonio Rose', the Bob Wills classic, given a beautiful run-out here. And I won't have a word said against 'On The Rebound', a fabulous tune that was written by Floyd Cramer and which, quite deservedly, reached number one in the UK charts in 1961.

'Hang On' and 'Rejoice' though are, for me, the greatest couple of pieces on here. In fact, they are often the only two tunes I go looking for when this compilation and I meet up every so often for an hour or two. It looks like my friend with the natty sweater vest penned both of them as well, which comes as no surprise to either my tapping toes or my drumming fingers. I seem to remember buying 'Countrypolitan Piano' in the first place on the strength of those two numbers alone, so I perhaps ought not to be quite so damning when it comes to the rest of the contents. I don't know though... I think I just assumed that, since I was such a fan of Floyd Cramer's music, the rest of them would just 'grab' me somehow. And, that simply never happened.

I think I'm going to have to reclassify myself as a fan of the very BEST of Mr Cramer's music. In which case, this collection really is only worthy of three stars.

With maybe a half a star, just between you and me, for that sweater vest... .

Offered by Action shop
Price: 2.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It takes two to Tango, 16 July 2014
This review is from: TANGO HAND WASH CHERRY - BY TANGO
Because I was obviously a right git of a person in some previous life, this incarnation finds me shouldering the entire burden of trying to help a friend of mine get shot of his poky little bachelor-flat flea-pile. The place has been on the market for yonks, with no real interest from any potential buyers. Clearly, Barnum was NOT right about suckers being born every minute: at least, not around here. More's the pity.

I am constantly on the look out for snazzy bathroom products that might, somehow, help to give the impression that the place is being offered to the market by a vendor with at least a passing interest in his personal hygiene. It's not true by any means, but I thought it might be prudent to at least try to give that impression. That's how a bottle of 'Tango Fierce Hand Soap - Cherry' came into our lives, having been found - sitting rather enticingly - on the shelf of an unnamed shop I'd gone into to see how many humane mousetraps I could buy for a Pound...

It smells lovely, although, to my nose, it is more 'blackcurrant cordial' than 'cherry'. There are warnings on the back of it to remind purchasers that 'This product is not a drink' which, although glaringly obvious to the likes of you and me, is a handy thing to have around in my friend's case: I mean to say, who knows WHAT might otherwise have transpired when he was alone in a bathroom with it while under the influence of fifteen pints of lager.

Aloe vera would appear to be one of the ingredients of this handwash (alongside a pretty intimidating list of its 'Made in China' colleagues), although I would be lying if I said I had noticed any effect on my own hands after using it. I do detect a rather lovely residual smell of blackcurrant cordial (sorry, 'Cherry'!) on them though.

It can leave some fairly obvious red marks behind on a white hand-towel as well, although that does at least enable someone like me to be able to say whether or not someone like my friend ever uses this hand soap in any kind of conventional way. That, when taken with the fact that the blurb makes no mention of this product being intimately acquainted with the secret of eternal life, leads me to surmise that he actually doesn't.

Crikey, is it any wonder no-one wants to buy his flat?!

Delux Classic Black Wayfarer Sunglasses Dark Tint lens Qwin Eyeware UV400 Unisex
Delux Classic Black Wayfarer Sunglasses Dark Tint lens Qwin Eyeware UV400 Unisex
Offered by FT-Deal.
Price: 0.60

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Open up and say 'Ahh!', Mr Gift Horse..., 15 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
You know the old adage that says if a thing seems too good to be true then it probably is? Yes - of course you do: I imagine that you too, in your time, have bought a cheap pair of tights to wear under your work-suit, only to ladder them far too easily the first time you needed to visit the gents', right?

No? Oh well, that must just be me then.

In the case of these glasses though, I have no evidence to suggest that that particular saying might be relevant in any way whatsoever. Indeed, as far as old adages go, I think we can dispense with the one about a fool becoming effortlessly estranged from his money as well: because, while these glasses are absurdly cheap (to the point where you really do have to ask questions as to whether or not George Osborne really does know what he is doing, and whether or not the pound really IS performing that well against whatever currency these glasses cost in their native Hong Kong), from my experiences with them so far, they are also ridiculously good value.

Mind you, you'll need to be patient; mine took ten days to meet and greet me, and that would appear to be the very minimum wait that any purchaser may face. But they are very well-equipped for their journey, wrapped in the capable embrace of two bubble-wrap bags AND an envelope lined with yet more bubble-wrap. To be perfectly honest with you, once I saw all that, I temporarily forgot all about the glasses!

Other reviewers have mentioned that their lenses were scratched when their glasses arrived but, I have to say, mine were completely unscathed. In terms of design, those lenses are uniformly black and the arms are secured to the frame with the sort of teeny tiny screws that only someone like a shoemaker's elf would be able to get to grips with. Thankfully, the person who screwed me originally did a darn fine job of it, with the result that nothing has yet fallen off.

Which, when all is said and done, is really all that a man of my age can hope for.

As for whether or not these things do indeed filter out ultraviolet light, I have but two pieces of evidence at my disposal; first, the little removable label that they sport when they first emerge from all that bubble-wrap... and, second, the fact that I wore them for four hours straight at the Duxford air show on Sunday in, what I thought were, rather overcast conditions. More fool me - by the end of it my face was completely sunburnt: EXCEPT for my eyes.

Not that looking like a Warhol-esque negative of a giant panda could ever be a good thing for me personally, but at least it gives some weight to the usefulness and authenticity of these sunglasses.

These are comfortable to wear and, if you are anything at all like me (heaven help you if you are, that's all), will keep you occupied for hours as you try desperately to figure out what the 'catch' might be.

Don't ask me what it is - because I STILL don't know!

#3 (Expanded Edition)
#3 (Expanded Edition)
Price: 12.46

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 3? That's a magic number!, 12 July 2014
This review is from: #3 (Expanded Edition) (Audio CD)
I am currently in the middle of setting the sort of personal record that dear old Roy Castle probably wouldn't have been very interested in, but which might well turn out to be the very pinnacle of my own life's achievements: namely, just how many times can I play the utterly amazing 'I Can Drive' at stupendously loud volume before either becoming bored of it (which is highly unlikely) or being dragged down to the cop shop to be charged with a breach of the peace...?

I'm up to twenty three in the count at the moment but, given how utterly amazing that track is, I am confident that I can probably double that number before being offered a cup of sweet tea down the nick by the custody sergeant. The irony is, I should have been watching Bananarama's Sara and Keren singing at an 80s concert down in Southampton today - but my car refused to start and so 'I CAN'T Drive'. I thought I'd be heartbroken about it but, quite clearly, I am not.

It's true, God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform.

He must have a much more reliable form of transport than I've got then, that's all I can say...

The album '#3' has had a very torrid time of things over the years, the poor love. Marcella Detroit left the band in 1993, and work progressed on the original, single disc version, from then until 1996. Siobhan was still married to Dave Stewart then (and I was still cursing him on a regular basis for his infuriatingly jammy piece of good fortune) and he had a lot to do with the production of '#3': which makes it all the more baffling that it was effectively sent into artistic exile for the next nine years. A bit of internet research reveals the gobsmacking fact that 'I Can Drive', a song so good you just have to play it 31 times in one day (and still counting!), was the last single released before 'Shakespears Sister' were dropped by their record label; as a result of which, '#3' was seemingly held hostage, an innocent and creatively brilliant pawn in, what appears to have been, a game of spite and petty-mindedness on the part of London Records.

Thankfully though, the album finally got its (albeit limited) release in 2005, followed by the ultimate honour of the 2CD 'whistles and bells' version that can be found here. There is some evidence that London Records may have deemed '#3' in its original form to be, not to put too fine a point on it, not in keeping with the sort of image they felt 'Shakespears Sister' (in other words, Siobhan Fahey) ought to have had.

If that's true then it would seem to have been very narrow-minded of them. As an artist - and as, I think, her work her can attest to - this lady is completely unique. They were worried about her being too 'alternative'?! That's what she DOES, for heaven's sake!

I know some reviewers think Marcella Detroit's presence would have somehow added 'something' to this music that, in their opinion, is severely lacking but, I have to say, I don't agree with that at all. She was superb on the two albums prior to this one, of course she was... but she had already departed from the scene before work had even started on '#3', so trying to imagine how things would have turned out had she been involved is like wondering what Bananarama would have sounded like had Siobhan not left. In other words, it's all a little bit pointless. And there is NOTHING lacking in this product whatsoever. Well, not on the first disc of it anyway.

'I Can Drive' (currently on its 38th playing!) is obviously the highlight for me. But (with one definite exception) there are no duff tracks to be found around here at all. As usual with Ms Fahey's work, to try to describe any of it in relation to anybody else's style or genre would be doing it, and her, a great disservice. You have to listen to it, really.

Anyone who has already invested in the equally brilliant The MGA Sessions will recognise 'What's it Like to Be So Wonderful?', 'After All', 'The Older Sister', 'Suddenly' and 'The Attic Song'. The original edition of '#3' stops at 'I Never Could Sing Anyway', so there is enough extra material on the 2012 version for it to be worth buying this one as well. 'The Poison Tree' alone, which features Ms Fahey reading words to a spooky-sounding backing tune in a huskily sultry manner, is worth any amount of money in my book. Such a shame that it only goes on for just over a minute. Oh, but WHAT a minute!

It's fair to say though, that CD2 has a lot less going for it than its companion. While I am a great lover of Siobhan Fahey's (Blimey Charlie, where's a genie with a lamp and two OTHER wishes when you need him?), I am not a great fan of endless remixes of the same songs. Especially where, in the case of 'I Can Drive', the original version is so much better. I also feel duty bound to use three-little-letters-plus-suitable-punctuation (as in 'WTF?!') with regard to this double disc's parting Shakespearean shot, 'So Cold'. The lady is fantastic but, as a diligent Amazon reviewer, I really must be honest and say that listening to that song is a right old ordeal for the average lugholes.

Sort of like listening to 'I Can Drive' 44 times in one day might prove to be, I suppose...

Spectacular Sound Effects 2
Spectacular Sound Effects 2

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Let your (naked?) imagination run wild!, 9 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I know Amazon were very keen to test out the clairvoyance skills of potential purchasers of this disc but, what the heck, I've uploaded some pictures of the track list anyway. They look a bit fuzzy to me, but I am hoping that is down to some sort of go-slow on the part of my tablet and nothing to do with all those warnings years ago about one particular solitary teenage activity someday playing havoc with my eyesight.

The '86' sound effects mentioned on the sleeve somewhat mysteriously become only 85 sound effects when played on my computer. The discrepancy can be traced to number 29 in our sound effect hit parade, which seems to have become rather intimate with number 30, thus making the title of each sound after that one place out from where it should be.

Apart from that, the sounds are exactly what they claim to be, pretty much without exception; and they are in stereo too. My original purchase of this product was made almost entirely on the strength of the two 'Shipping' sound effects, since I had planned to use them to bring my novel to life when I sat down, recorded myself reading it and, in due course, put the sleeping pill industry right out of business. Unfortunately though, the wheels came off the entire plan very early doors when it transpired that my posh reading voice makes me sound uncannily like Dame Margaret Rutherford.

I'm not sure that the world is quite ready for a 43 year old man with that sort of dubious talent.

In any event, it did look for a while as though 'Spectacular Sound Effects 2' would go down as something of a waste of money. That is, until I put my thinking cap on and came up with some really great ideas for its gainful employment. For instance, you wouldn't believe the reaction I get when I play one or two of these sounds loudly through an open window for the benefit of the people at the bus stop just outside. Ever wanted to see an entire bus queue dive for cover simultaneously...? Well then, why not try a little something from the 'Gun & Pistol Shots' department!

Noisy neighbours getting right on your nerves? Why not get up extra early next Sunday morning and give them a retaliatory blast of 'Workmen Hammering?'. Or how about waiting for your next-door neighbour to wash his new car, turning up the volume of 'Wood Pigeon' or 'Seagulls', grabbing a bag of crisps and enjoying a few laughs!

My own favourite sound effect, and one I listen to quite regularly indeed, is 'Girls Screaming & Applauding'. It's fair to say, I am usually naked at the time: but you wouldn't believe what a boost to your self-esteem a sound like that can give you while in that state. Especially in combination with 'Concert Hall Audience Applauding With Shouts of Encore'. Taking your bows can be a bit draughty though, so do be careful, won't you?

Oh yes, and don't forget what I said about the dodgy numbering of the tracks; dialling up '44' expecting shouts of 'Encore!' only to hear 'Continuous Laughter' is NOT so good for a person's morale and can, in fact, dredge up all sorts of unpleasant memories of traumatic situations involving nakedness, confusion and hysterical laughter from your past. Like your wedding night, for instance.

No? Oh well, that must just be me then!

I-Spy Minerals, Rocks and Fossils (Michelin I-Spy Guides)
I-Spy Minerals, Rocks and Fossils (Michelin I-Spy Guides)
by Michelin Tyre PLC
Edition: Paperback
Price: 2.25

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Alright in principle but, in practice...? Dear me, no!, 9 July 2014
This book is a classic example of how my head can be turned by the apparent cheapness of an item, irrespective of how useful it might prove to be to anyone in the long run. After all, it looks interesting from the outside, right? Just perfect for two little relatives of mine, aged 6 and 9... right?

Wrong, I'm afraid. Quite wrong.

They might be a bit young to be able to fully appreciate it, I suppose. As far as being any sort of 'perfect travel companion' is concerned though, well, I'm 43 and I would hate to find myself sat next to it on any kind of long journey. I do know a very small amount about geology, which is what sealed the deal that saw me buying this for them in the first place, but everything about it just screams 'Look, I'm educational!'. In all honesty, I can't for the life of me figure out where the 'fun' aspect to the book might be. Now, what kid would willingly be seen out in public with something like that?

On the positive side, the book is packed full of beautiful colour photos of minerals, rocks and fossils. That is certainly its most redeeming feature. Along with the pretty mugshot, each one also gets the honour of a brief description. If it's a mineral, you are told about its natural form, its hardness and its colour, together with where it can be found and what its ultimate uses might be. Rocks are described in terms of their grain size, their colour, where they are found and what they too might be used for while, fossil-wise, we are advised as to age, where they are found, what form they are found in and a rough idea as to their size.

Each photograph has a reward associated with it, to the tune of anything up to 50 'I-Spy points'. Once you've put your bounty-hunting skills to good use in amassing 1000 of these points or more, you can send off for an I-Spy certificate and badge. Thereby letting that great big creepy Michelin Man know your name and address so you have to live in fear of him paying you a visit for the rest of your days.

No? Oh well, that must just be me then.

It is my considered opinion, having recently looked through this book a bit more thoroughly, that collecting 1000 points in here - at least, the honest way - could be rather difficult. Taking pages 30 and 31 as a random example of what I'm talking about, we find four types of igneous rock, none of which occur naturally in my little friends' neck of the woods. The following two pages tell a similar story. Either the recipient of this book is going to have to do a heck of a lot of travelling in order to accumulate those 1000 points - at least, the honest way - or they're going to need a geological museum practically on their doorstep.

On the plus side, everything that appears in the book can apparently be found in the British Isles somewhere. So that's alright then.

In addition to which, you're unlikely to encounter the vast majority of the minerals featured in here in the form in which they are presented anyway, unless you're good friends with a white witch who's got a bagful of them. Something calling itself 'orpiment', for instance, which is yellow and apparently contains arsenic, is not readily found, to my knowledge, anywhere near here. If it were, I imagine my ex-wife would have made good use of it while cooking for me when we were married.

Unlike other I-Spy books I have seen, this one doesn't seem to have been designed to hold its readers interest for any sustained period. It strikes me as the sort of thing that spends its entire life on a bookshelf, waiting to be flicked through upon its owner's return from some exciting and far-flung places, but far too intimidating to ever have an invite out of the house itself.

Certainly not one of my wiser purchases.

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