Profile for gille liath > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by gille liath
Top Reviewer Ranking: 984
Helpful Votes: 772

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
gille liath (US of K)
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
The Ry Cooder Anthology: The Ufo Has Landed
The Ry Cooder Anthology: The Ufo Has Landed
Price: 15.95

3.0 out of 5 stars i'll tell you the record of things that he did, 12 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
If you judged by Paris, Texas, or Billy the Kid, you would have to think Ry Cooder was a genius and must have tons of great stuff in his back catalogue. But when you hear this compilaton you realise he isn't, and hasn't. Some of the tracks here - on a Best-Of which had his own involvement - can only be described as tripe. Cooder is, like Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton, an exceptional musician (I think I like his mandolin playing even more than the guitar) with little songwriting ability. Someone here says he can't sing - that's also true, yet somehow I prefer his own homespun vocals on some tracks to the people he gets in to sing for him on others.

I have a couple of early Cooder albums and like them a lot, but after this I won't be investigating any further.


The Fall of Carthage: The Punic Wars 265-146BC (CASSELL MILITARY PAPERBACKS)
The Fall of Carthage: The Punic Wars 265-146BC (CASSELL MILITARY PAPERBACKS)
by Adrian Keith Goldsworthy
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

3.0 out of 5 stars there go the elephants..., 11 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I recently read the Leonard Cottrell book, and wanted a slightly more scholarly treatment of the Punic Wars. This isn't it. It's essentially just another reworking of the ancient historians, mainly Polybius. True, in the absence of corroborating evidence Goldsworthy occasionally reminds us to take some of their assertions with a pinch of salt; but he doesn't have any alternative interpretation to offer.

It particularly bothers me when he repeats the claimed army sizes, which seem colossal for the ancient world. It's notorious amongst proper ancient and medieval historians that eye-witnesses always massively inflated the sizes of crowds they saw; so how reliable are these figures? There's no discussion of it. And since there are no surviving Carthaginian sources, this is as usual the story told from the Roman point of view.

So it's basically popular history, but Goldsworthy is not as good a storyteller as Cottrell.

It's a shame there isn't more detailed information extant about the heroic final siege and destruction of Carthage. It has the makings of as epic a tale as the fall of Constantinople; even as it is, told through sparse fact, it's pretty moving.

(Sorry if that spoils the ending for anyone...)


Geantrai [DVD] [2008]
Geantrai [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Various Artists
Price: 14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars they said it couldn't be filmed...and it can't., 11 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Geantrai [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
Where this differs from Transatlantic Sessions - besides focusing solely on Irish music - is that they went out into well-known traditional music pubs rather than the slightly clinical musicians-only environment. I guess that meant the musicians couldn't be surrounded by dozens of mikes, there wasn't opportunity for thorough sound checks, etc; anyway whatever the reason, the sound quality is bad. Is it compensated for by a gain in atmosphere? It's hard to say. It's early, people haven't got warmed up, a lot of the players have pints of *water* in front of them for God's sake! I think BBC Alba's Horo Gheallaidh is the show that has best succeeded in bringing the 'music bar' feel to TV. This one feels a little bit stiff and cold.

As soon as you decide to record, and especially film, a session, you destroy the spontaneity that is its essence. Still, it's a rare opportunity to see some of the music's greatest exponents in action: Joe Burke, Matt Molloy, Jackie Daly, Seamus Begley etc. The best set though, and the most atmospheric, is the last, played by a band of all-comers in Kinvara. Maybe it's because it hadn't been rehearsed; Mairtin O'Connor comments that the set was put together on the spur on the moment.


Stories for Tens and Over (Puffin Books)
Stories for Tens and Over (Puffin Books)
by Sara Corrin
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars welcome to the real world, kid..., 8 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I don't know why I'm bothering to review this, because it's almost impossible to find the page it's on. But perhaps someone else will, like me, have accumulated the earlier books and want to know what this - the last in the series - is like.

I have to agree with the other review though: this isn't as good as those other volumes. In fact, in what it says about both life and reading for my kids in the years ahead it's a little depressing. There are familiar grown-up names - Wodehouse, HG Wells, John Masefield, Rosemary Sutcliffe - and this is really full-blown adult literature, on realistic, mundane subjects: obesity, what the neighbours think, violence, death and romance (but not sex, we can't have that can we?).

The magic and charm of the tales for younger kids is not there. Originally published in 1976, most of the stories are much older; and because they are set in the real world (unlike the timeless world of fairy tales) they need some explanation of context to be understandable. Some, particularly the American ones, are hard going for me never mind my kids (why are 'classic' American writers so prone to over-writing?) and I wouldn't say any of them exactly put a spring in your step.

Is it all downhill from here? I hope this too-much-too-soon collection doesn't put them off finding out.


The Police
The Police
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: 8.27

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars sue lawley, sue lawley..., 8 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Police (Audio CD)
The Police combined massive chart success with a pretty 'out there' sound, to an extent only the Beatles have excelled. Sometimes they seem to be almost all rhythm section - many of the riffs are on bass only, Copeland's drums tap restlessly away, and Andy Summers' guitar skips so lightly over the top you could almost miss it. There's Sting's voice, so familiar that it's easy to lose the sense of how shrill - more alto than tenor - and strange it is. And then there are the lyrics: often just as gloomy as Morrissey's, and just as blisteringly personal, only without his wit.

With all that, the success really is a tribute to the deceptively simple songwriting and arranging. The secret with the lyrics, I think, is that the generally downbeat verses are allied to catchy refrains with simple, striking imagery; you can sing along with the chorus without quite knowing what the song is about (turns out, for example, their first single was not really about Sue Lawley). They also made good use of the old-fashioned middle eight, which in many songs lightens the mood. It's clever stuff; Sting, mate, what happened to you?

They're not obviously virtuosic but, if you listen closely, the playing is quality too. Few have shown such development in such a comparatively short time. At the start, with studded leathers and thrashing guitars, they seemed to be trying to hide their sophistication behind a punk image. But even then, they were never really able to lower themselves to that Luddite, remedial level of rock; I remember arranging Roxanne for guitar as a teenager, and being disconcerted to find it had about 8 chords. Five years later, with things like Synchronicity and Walking In Your Footsteps, they were definitely the thinking man's global superstars. They're not going to go down in history with the Beatles et al, but they were the best of their generation and much better than anything since.

As Best-Ofs go, this is one of the finest I've seen for any band. There's not much in the way of bumff and fanclub photos, but it gives you the hits and a selection of album tracks that's hard to argue with. For me, these days, it's exactly the amount of Police I want.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 2, 2014 10:29 AM GMT


Young Pipers Of Scotland
Young Pipers Of Scotland
Price: 6.38

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ceol more, 4 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This was released in 1997, so its 'young pipers' are now into their 30s and among the senior players. I heard Stuart Cassells on Pipeline only the other week, talking about judging competitions and about how much things have changed for young pipers starting out since his time. If an album like this was produced now, it would surely include some sets on bellows-blown pipes and perhaps some sets with other instruments - in a word, not conform so much to the competitive template.

Still, the playing is excellent - if there's any difference from a top senior standard I can't detect it, maybe just the occasional very slight slip. It's also nicely recorded, as you expect from Greentrax and as you would hope with Gordon Duncan as producer.

Anyone who knows anything about pipe music will quickly realise that there are not 39 tracks, as listed here. There are in fact 39 *tunes* grouped into 13 tracks: 12 ceol beg and 1 piobaireachd. As usual with Greentrax it's no longer than needs be - they could comfortably have accommodated another player - and, as usual, there are typos in the Gaelic titles.


Rango [DVD]
Rango [DVD]
Dvd ~ Johnny Depp
Price: 3.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a few lizards more, 30 Dec 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Rango [DVD] (DVD)
Beneath the superficial kookiness this is actually quite a conventional Support Your Local Sheriff-type Western, in which the characters just happen to be animated animals. The plot is as well-travelled as the Oregon Trail; genre fans will quickly twig what is happening, whilst it's far too long and slow for kids. It's very nicely made but, as one or two others have said, it's actually a little dull.


Marx Brothers Box Set [DVD]
Marx Brothers Box Set [DVD]
Dvd ~ The Marx Brothers
Price: 9.20

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars you can learn a lot from Lydia, 27 Dec 2013
This review is from: Marx Brothers Box Set [DVD] (DVD)
In a lot of ways the cleverness, cynicism and strangeness of the Marx Brothers suit modern tastes. Many people say they're their favourite pre-war film comedians - but I always suspect they are isolating individual moments and not watching the films in their entirety. Because as films, they are rubbish. They really fall between two stools - feeling obliged to provide some kind of tedious romantic plot, but not even attempting to integrate it with the comic routines. As a result these are as random and pointless as the slapstick skits in a pantomime. Groucho's wordplay, Chico's organ-grinder schtick, Harpo's general weirdness and Zeppo's...whatever he does*: they enter, they exit, on to the next unconnected bit of business. Then an arbour scene between the romantic leads, followed by some second rate cast 'number' and a dance routine.

Now, don't get me wrong: some of the Brothers' bits are very good, but it's not enough. The best films, like Duck Soup and Horse Feathers, do have a degree of coherence; but great comedy also needs meaning - not a message, but to have truth behind it - and it needs a heart. The Marxes, as characters, have no heart; they're like demons. Madness in their eyes, they prey mercilessly on everyone around them - until the denouement requires a bout of schmaltzy sentimentality to make sure the audience don't go off and have nightmares.

I don't know why this set doesn't include Day at the Races (my favourite) or Night at the Opera - but obviously without them it can't be seen as remotely definitive.

*To be fair, Zeppo was a pretty good singer; but that's not exactly what the act was most in need of.
Comment Comments (9) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 9, 2014 10:36 AM BST


The Two Ronnies : The Complete BBC Christmas Specials [DVD]
The Two Ronnies : The Complete BBC Christmas Specials [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ronnie Barker
Price: 5.00

3.0 out of 5 stars some day these days'll be known as the Good Old Days..., 18 Dec 2013
Nostalgia aside - and in our house they were far more a Christmas fixture than the Queen's speech - these specials rarely find the Two Ronoids at their best. There are some good routines and some funny gags, others that try your patience a little - and a few that, like leftover turkey, appear in more than one show. The 1974 special is really more of an old-fashioned variety programme and, unusually, mostly written by Barker (under a pseudonym).

The one no-question top-quality item is the 'Chas'n'Dave' song, which I'm sure the Rockney rebels would have been proud to come up with themselves. And that's the spirit to watch it in: yer can' ave everyfin, can yer?


Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World
Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World
by Simon Callow
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 6.80

3.0 out of 5 stars an actor's life, 18 Dec 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It was Simon Callow who first interested me in Dickens, with his funny performance as Micawber in the 1980s BBC David Copperfield. Since then, it would seem, his life has shadowed the author's more and more closely.

This shortish biography has hit on an interesting thesis: that the increasingly frantic public tours which he undertook in his last years, and which possibly killed him, were the result of his unhappy marriage. Callow hints pretty broadly that Dickens became a sexual tourist, and that the frustration of his physical needs and wish for a less unequal partnership with a woman could only be 'worked off' by the adrenaline of public performance. It sounds plausible but is bad biography, in the sense that it is entirely unsupported by evidence. It would also be better coming from someone else; as an actor with an irregular sex life Callow would say this, wouldn't he?

(Someone here says Callow is not unkind enough about Dickens' treatment of his wife - but, whoever's fault it was, there can be no question that both suffered from the marriage.)

I'm sure Dickens was no great actor (in spite of the stress Callow lays on his 'theatricals'), and Callow is no great writer; still, he's good enough for the job. He says so little about the books that you wonder how many of them he has actually read through. Describing Bleak House as Dickens' 'supreme masterpiece' not only calls his literary judgement into question, it recalls Chesterton's comment that those who prefer Dickens' later books - sensible though they may be - do not really like him as an author. They don't enjoy his powers and prefer to see them tamed. Even then I've never known anyone, writer or reader, to mention Bleak House even among his four or five best - although its popularity certainly had a fillip from the BBC TV series. Personally I think it's tedious.

You feel it is as a character, the character he has been playing for many years now, that the subject appeals to this biographer. Yet that's the problem with Dickens biographies: in the hands of these lesser mortals, he is always so much less vivid than his own characters. Maybe his own books are actually the best biography.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20