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The Shawshank Redemption (Blu-ray + DVD Steelbook) [1994]
The Shawshank Redemption (Blu-ray + DVD Steelbook) [1994]
Dvd ~ Tim Robbins
Offered by Its_a_Steel
Price: £49.75

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie, great set, 30 Oct. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
If you're reading this review, you probably know that The Shawshank Redemption is a great film. (It's probably my all-time favourite). You might be interested to hear exactly what you get in this set, though.

Despite the product image saying "2 discs", this is actually a 4-disc set. One barebones Blu-Ray disc, with just the movie; three DVDs. The three DVDs appear to be identical to the three released in the Special Edition DVD set back in 2004, so if you've got that set and are unsure whether to sell it off and upgrade, fear not: you can.

The transfer is superb. The steelbook is nice. There are no foreign language audio options or subtitles but there are English HOH subtitles on both the Blu-Ray and the DVD.

All In Good Time
All In Good Time
Price: £11.26

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Their first LP without Page: still on top-form, 3 April 2010
This review is from: All In Good Time (Audio CD)
From their very beginnings in the late 1980s, the Barenaked Ladies' songwriting and vocal duties have primarily been shared between co-founding members Steve Page and Ed Robertson. So, when Page left the band to pursue other interests in 2008 (first and foremost, creating solo material), a considerable gap hole left in the heart of the band. The guy behind many of the Ladies' most important, emotionally complex songs - "Break Your Heart", "What A Good Boy", "Everything Old Is New Again" - was no longer there.

Overcoming this tremendous loss was, naturally, quite a challenge for the band; it's no surprise, then, that a) despite strong material, his absence is still conspicuous to longtime fans; and that, b), much of the material deals with the ensuing emotional aftermath of his departure. But Robertson and co. do an admirable job of getting over this unfortunate hurdle, and deliver an LP of 14 songs that continue to straddle that same line between maturity and childlike playfulness that they have done so effortlessly for the past two decades.

Given Page's absence, it's no surprise that Robertson takes the majority of lead vocal roles; Opening track, and first single, "You Run Away", is no exception. It's one of the strongest rock ballads of the band's career. Building from a slight, calm, piano-driven opening to a climax that layers vocals, piano and guitar to deliver an explosively powerful message (it's no stretch to suggest the lyrics - "you run away, you could turn and stay, but you run away from me [..] I did my best, but it wasn't enough" is a reference to the strained relationship between Robertson and Page and their failure to hold the band together), it captures your attention immediately, and is their strongest single in years.

"Summertime" is an upbeat, catchy, pop-rock number; sounds like the perfect June single. "Four Seconds" is the track that runs closest to novelty - blending folk, Robertson's trademark hip-hop, alternative rock, and a delightfully meta Tyler-sung chorus of "one Mississippi! two Mississippi! three Mississippi! four!"

"Ordinary" is one of the strongest cuts on the album. Harmonised vocals, an obscenely catchy-yet-simple chorus ("it's come undone, done") and a brilliantly memorable folky melody. "I Have Learned" sees the band go a bit Foo Fighters, with a heavy guitar-driven chorus; while "Every Subway Car", second single from the album, is a brilliant mid-tempo rocker. Previously named "Graffiti Love", it's in the tradition of BNL songs about unlikely subjects - "When I Fall", "I Live With It Every Day" - on this occasion, a guy who demonstrates his love through street art on train cars.

"How Long" is a disappointingly generic rocker, but the brilliant catchy "Golden Boy" more than makes up for it - it recalls the finest moments of BLAM, with its driving chorus and wonderfully catchy vocal melodies. The lyrics may strike some as bitter about the Page situation - "just hang your hat at somebody's else's house" - but such emotion is natural in the aftermath of a split, and it'd be churlish to detract points for heartfelt emotion. "The Love We're In", Robertson's final contribution, is a sweet, slow, near-acoustic ballad whose simple, sweet chorus ("Why aren't we making the love we're in?") is gracefully backed by verses that deliver the amusing takes of traditional turns-of-phrase BNL are known for ("you crash the party, I'll crash the plane").

Robertson isn't the only guy to take on lead vocal duty, however: BNL remain a democracy. As such, "Another Heartbreak", track three, sees Kevin Hearn take the lead, on a strong tune that juxtaposes a calm chorus with angry verses. Hearn also shows up on "Jerome", the album's weakest track - a plodding, eerie tune about the "ghost town" in Arizona; his final contribution, the subdued, nighttime ballad "Watching The Northern Lights", is far stronger, and the perfect album closer. Regardless of the varied quality of his contributions, while some fans don't enjoy his particular vocal stylings - they're surprisingly calm and sweet - they add texture and diversity to the album.

Jim Creeggan's contributed just two songs, meanwhile, but both are stellar: the moody "On the Lookout", with its soulful chorus; and album standout "I Saw It", a marvellous, harmony-laden ballad, with ambiguous lyrics that can be read in both light-hearted and disturbingly heartbreaking ways. It's the unexpected standout on an surprisingly strong album.

Barenaked Ladies fanatics will pick this album up without question, and rightfully so; to those relatively unacquainted with the band, I'd advise checking out earlier recordings that featured Page material too, but this is a solid starting point, and those who only know the Ladies for "One Week" or "Brian Wilson" will probably be pleasantly surprised by the diversity of material on offer here.

(The album is available with various bonus tracks from various sources: "Moonstone", "All in Good Time", "She Turned Away", "Let There Be Light". All are solid, but acquiring them all is quite a task - you'll have to make multiple downloads and do some importing - and the band say the songs will be available as a separate digital EP at some point later this year, so you'd do as well to wait.)

Grade: A-

Working On a Dream (Special Edition)
Working On a Dream (Special Edition)
Offered by jim-exselecky
Price: £6.99

28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Working On A Dream - Bruce Springsteen, 27 Jan. 2009
Optimism and Springsteen haven't gelled well in the past. "Human Touch" and "Lucky Town", the 1992 two-fer that saw Bruce waxing truly optimistic for the first time in his career, rate among the least memorable efforts of his career; they weren't bad, per se, but they lacked a certain something. (The songs were recorded without the E Street Band, which was undoubtedly a contributing factor; but above and beyond that, the arrangements and lyrics suffered from a certain sameiness and genericism that left the majority of the tracks unmemorable.)

Fans will be pleased to know that, while "Working On A Dream" (Columbia, 2009) sees Bruce once again venture into the realm of the positive, he's both a) with E Street this time and b) kept his songwriting skills on top form.

The first thing longtime Springsteen fans will notice about this album is that the focus here is firmly on the music. The album is bookended by two of his more narrative-driven songs - eight-minute epic Western "Outlaw Pete" and Golden Globe-winning movie theme "The Wrestler" - but elsewhere, it's all about the sonic experimentation, rather than storytelling. The songs here hop across a veritable plethora of genres and styles: "My Lucky Day" is a foot-stomping rocker that sounds like it was written in the "River" sessions. "Tomorrow Never Knows" is a beautiful easy-listening tune that sounds more like the '50s than anything Bruce has ever written. "Working On A Dream" is an Orbison-esque plush pop tune. "Good Eye" is what can only be described as electronic rockabilly.

This variety makes the album one of the most enjoyable listens in Bruce's history. On first listen, you've no idea what will come next: harmony-laden "This Life" segues into the cacophonous "Good Eye"; the relentless joyful "Surprise, Surprise" - possibly the Boss' poppiest tune ever - fades into the melancholy, calliope-backed "The Last Carnival", a touching track clearly dedicated to dear departed ESB member Danny Federici.

"Kingdom of Days" is one of Bruce's finest ballads of all-time: the guy from "Born to Run" is all grown up now; no longer desperate to get out of this place, he's happy to lay on "the wet grass, as autumn breeze drifts through the trees", and "count the wrinkles and the grays" of his lover beneath the covers. Bruce's maturity pervades the album: reflecting on past lovers who were "life itself, rushing over [him]"; coming to recognise that "where the river flows, tomorrow never knows".

Not everyone will enjoy every track. Many have criticised the "trite sentiment" of "Queen of the Supermarket", and the "lyrical simplicity" of "Surprise, Surprise". These may be valid criticisms, but they did not hamper my enjoyment of the album even slightly.

The deluxe version of the album comes with a 40-minute DVD that includes some footage from the studio sessions creating the album, as well as the video for "A Night With the Jersey Devil", a Halloween song Bruce released for free via his website last year.

Arthur - Complete Series One [DVD]
Arthur - Complete Series One [DVD]
Dvd ~ Arthur
Price: £9.45

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Does the job, but you might have hoped for more, 12 Sept. 2008
It's good to finally see "Arthur" in complete season sets on R2 DVD. The actual episodes are as good as I remember them being when I used to watch them on BBC2 back in the late 1990s.

This set contains the complete first season of the show, which originally aired in 1996, spread over three discs. The three DVDs are packaged in a single-width keepcase held within a cardboard slipcover. Each disc contains twenty stories (though as each episode contained two stories, that's actually ten episodes per disc) for a total of sixty stories. A good deal for the low RRP, right?

Well, yes and no. Unfortunately, packing four hours and five minutes of material onto each DVD has side effects, and they are most evident in the compressed video. Arthur never looked amazing, but here it looks pretty poor, as compression artifacts are disappointingly common. It's not a picture that you'll be using to show off your plasma TV.. indeed, it's really at the lower end of "passable".

Unsurprisingly, given the amount of disc space the episodes take up, there's no room for extras. Something of a shame, but I guess I'm happy to take just the episodes (plus a nice sticker sheet for the young 'uns inside the case, though I'd imagine the single-disc releases would be the more likely market for kids - complete seasons are for collectors, surely?) for now. Here's hoping Delta Media Group release season 2 in a slightly less compressed format, though - maybe eight episodes (16 stories) a disc, instead of ten (20 stories).

King of the Hill - Season 5 [DVD]
King of the Hill - Season 5 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Mike Judge
Price: £11.09

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A darn good season, I tell you what, 15 Feb. 2007
While not quite reaching the lofty heights of seasons prior, season five of "King of the Hill" still has far more than its fair share of laughs.

Season opener "The Perils of Polling" is a brilliant political satire, and one of the finest politically themed episode of any American sitcom around. "Ho Yeah!" sees Hank get involved in the shenanigans of a prostitute and her pimp, in typically oblivious fashion. "Chasing Bobby" is a fine example of the Hank-Bobby relationship at its very best; while for an example of out-and-out comedy, one needs look no further than the excellent "Hank's Back Story". The show's trademark subtle humour combined with a realistic, almost dramedy-like tone remains present throughout.

Episode list (there isn't currently one amongst the product detail):

The Perils of Polling

The Buck Stops Here

I Don't Want to Wait For Our Lives To Be Over...

Spin the Choice

Peggy Makes the Big Leagues

When Cotton Comes Marching Home

What Makes Bobby Run?

'Twas the Nut Before Christmas

Chasing Bobby

Yankee Hankie

Hank and the Great Glass Elevator

Now Who's the Dummy?

Ho Yeah!

The Exterminator

Luanne Virgin 2.0

Hank's Choice

It's Not Easy Being Green

The Trouble with Gribbles

Hank's Back Story

Kidney Boy and Hamster Girl: A Love Story

No use preaching to the converted, though - if you're a fan of KOTH, you'll already have added this to your virtual basket. If you've never seen the show (which would be no surprise, given the near-nonexistance of it on mainstream TV channels in a decent timeslot), season 1 would be a better place to start.

Barenaked Ladies Are Men
Barenaked Ladies Are Men
Offered by 5records
Price: £15.99

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stellar companion to "Are Me", 15 Feb. 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The second part of what is essentially a double-album, "Barenaked Ladies Are Men" thankfully does not disappoint. Those concerned about it being comprised of the rejects from "..Are Me", don't be concerned - if anything, this has the edge on the former in terms of sheer listenability.

The album covers all the ground you'd expect: from the emotional ballad ("Half a Heart", "The New Sad") to the rock'n'roll roller-coaster ("Something You'll Never Find", "Quality"), not forgetting their trademark witty, literate pop ("Angry People", "Running Out Of Ink"). It's a cliche, but there's something here for everyone.

On the whole, it's more upbeat than its predecessor, but there's no shortage of emotional balladry. "The New Sad" is up there with "War on Drugs" and "The Wrong Man Was Convicted" in terms of pure, gut-wrenching impact; while the semi-acoustic "Half a Heart" and "I Can, I Will, I Do" add to the atmopshere without slowing down the album's oft-frenetic pace. Opener "Serendipity" is vaguely reminiscent of "Are Me"'s opener "Adrift" in tone.

As good as the more downbeat tracks are, however, the real draw of this album are the catchy pop-rock tracks most of us love the Ladies for. The frantic pace of "Something You'll Never Find" and "Running Out of Ink" is reminiscent of the best of They Might Be Giants, and BNL's own "Gordon". "Quality" has one of the finest choruses of any BNL song, while "Angry People" is vaguely reminiscent of a poppier E2E's "Shopping" - but it's far superior, in every sense. Think Beach Boys crossed with "It's All Been Done", and you get the vague idea.

"Down to Earth" and "Maybe Not" are strong, rocky and catchy songs that can hold their own with anything from "Stunt" and "Maroon", the mid-tempo "Another Spin" is a beautiful fusion of jazz, pop and rock, while the closing double complement each other nicely and are superior to "Are Me"'s already-solid closer, "Wind it Up".

Lyrically, BNL remain at the top of their game here, wit, wordplay and sarcasm all present and correct - but I would suggest that the political sentiment of "Fun & Games" is a little too overbearing. I'm not sure whether they're being semi-sarcastic and self-deprecating in their anti war rant, but if they're not it'd probably be a good plan to keep their politics distinct from their music in future. Their hearts are in the right place, no doubt, but it's a little jarring when such a catchy, upbeat song is filled with such harsh and explicit sentiment.

But that is just a very minor criticism of what is honestly a brilliant album. There are no truly 'weak' tracks, and there are plenty of standouts. If you're already a BNL fan, I'm preaching to the converted; if you're not, this is as good a starting point as any.

And I Feel Fine ... The Best Of The I.R.S. Years 1982-1987
And I Feel Fine ... The Best Of The I.R.S. Years 1982-1987
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £13.82

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-chosen compilation, 3 Aug. 2006
Compiling the very best of R.E.M.'s IRS years was never going to be an easy task, with at least half of each album from the era (Murmur, Reckoning, Fables of the Reconstruction, Lifes Rich Pageant and Document) worthy of consideration for inclusion. It's been attempted in the past - Eponymous, Singles Collected, The Best of R.E.M. - but never to as great an extent as this, which combines fan favourites and hit singles from the era very well, missing very few key tracks. Personally, I'd argue "Fall On Me", "Rockville" and "Perfect Circle" are the best of the best on disc 1, but I'm sure many fans have their own personal favourites.

The real meat of the 2-CD set for the hardcore fans is, of course, however, disc 2. Live versions, Hib-Tone/single versions, remixes and obscurities sit alongside each of the the R.E.M. boys' favourite IRS track that didn't make the cut for CD1. It could be argued that the set is worth the money for this disc alone to those who already know and love the band; while disc 1 is likely to appeal to newer R.E.M. fans whose experience with the band is limited to "In Time: The Best of 1988-2003".

While I haven't heard some of the disc 2 tracks yet (those previously unreleased), I have no qualms giving this set 5 stars. While every fan will miss a favourite (personally, I wish Harborcoat had been included), the sheer quality of the material can't be denied. Highly recommended.

Queen, The DVD Collection: Greatest Video Hits 1 [DVD]
Queen, The DVD Collection: Greatest Video Hits 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Queen
Offered by WorldCinema
Price: £38.89

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect way to remember the perfect band, 3 Jun. 2004
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This two-disc set includes 17 videos from the band's extensive catalogue, including many of their most popular hits - Bohemian Rhapsody, We Are The Champions, Killer Queen, Don't Stop Me Now, et al. These masterpieces, along with the great sound quality, would justify the price tag alone, but those nice DVD folk have given this set even more bang for its buck by adding an entire disc of bonus features, including many rarely-seen videos, anda complete breakdown of Bohemian Rhapsody, from its origins, through to its video, and its worldwide recognition today.
Definitely a worthy purchase for any Queen fan.

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