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Simon Harper (Aldershot UK)

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An English Folk Christmas
An English Folk Christmas
Price: £7.27

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A missed opportunity, 15 Jan. 2010
This is a worthy effort to fill a huge and important gap in the market. For those who are looking for English Christmas music this should have been the answer and in some ways it is. John Spiers, Ian Giles, Giles Lewin and Jon Bowden are fine musicians but the arrangements here are uninspiring. The instrumentation is dull and dominated by Ian Giles's rather self consciously folky voice which begins to grate after a while. More vaiety in the vocals, more harmonies and a bit more of the instruments would have made this a great record.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 3, 2011 5:13 PM GMT

Christus natus est | An Early English Christmas (The Sixteen, Harry Christophers) (Coro)
Christus natus est | An Early English Christmas (The Sixteen, Harry Christophers) (Coro)
Price: £9.81

67 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A perfect atmosphere for Christmas, 15 Jan. 2010
This is a very special record indeed. I'd been looking for some music to play over Christmas which was more English than the usual Christmas carol CDs and more traditional than the Slade/Wizard stuff. This fits the bill perfectly. A collection of early English Christmas songs and carols arranged and sung to perfection accompanied by traditional instruments. Some are choral and some are sung solo but the overall effect is to create a marvellous English Christmas atmosphere in the room. You can listen to it on many levels. It is a beautiful piece of atmospheric Christmas backgound music but it also stands up as a glorious collection of early English songs.Sometimes joyful, always moving, this should appeal to those like ambient and folk music as well as those looking for a more classical Christmas.
Buy it!

Days Without Number
Days Without Number
by Robert Goddard
Edition: Paperback

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A tale of two genres, 20 Feb. 2008
This review is from: Days Without Number (Paperback)
For the first 350 pages of what should probably have been a 370 page novel (rather than 450), I really thought that this was the best novel that Robert Goddard have ever written. As usual the characters were well drawn, the locations fascinating and the plot, while utterly compelling, was real enough to make the main character believable as an ordinary bloke. Then just as it approached the climax, the action moved from Cornwall to Venice and the whole genre of the book changed from a believable mystery into a James Bond story. We were greeted by a suave baddie with a gold Rolex and a speed boat. The main characters were captured, and tied up but were they killed?. Oh no. They were taken to the baddie's high-tech lair and tied up while he kindly told them all about his fiendish intentions. This totally implausible section of the story was tied in with a lot of unnecessary plot twists which just served to spin out the story for about 100 pages more than was necessary.
It is still a good story and will still keep Goddard fans turning the pages but is rather spoiled by the final section.

Play To The End
Play To The End
by Robert Goddard
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not among his best, 1 Nov. 2007
This review is from: Play To The End (Paperback)
I am an avid Goddard reader and his best books are among the best and most compelling crime novels currently being written. He does however lack consistency and Play to the End is not one of his best, simply because it lacks credibility. The main character, Toby Flood is a middle-aged jobbing actor whose wife is divorcing him. In an attempt to win her back, this distinctly unheroic character tackles villains and attempts solves mysteries that would deter Indiana Jones and Sherlock Homes combined. The villain of the piece is a ruthless, powerful and highly intelligent local businessman who outwits our hero at every turn, but in order to give Toby a fighting chance, Goddard ensures that the baddy makes a couple of very unlikely schoolboy errors every few chapters just to even things up.
By Goddard's highest standards the plotting is a bit lazy and the characters just don't match up to their actions. Having said that, this book still had the ability to keep me enthralled and I belted through it as I belt through all of Goddard's books so it's probably still worth a read, but if you are reading Goddard for the first time, don't read this one. Read Sight Unseen, Take no Farewell or Closed Circle instead.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 31, 2011 3:01 AM BST

by Kate Mosse
Edition: Paperback

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perfect blend of history and escapism, 25 Sept. 2007
This review is from: Labyrinth (Paperback)
Some reviewers have been rather harsh on this but I thoroughly enjoyed it on two levels. Firstly it is a compelling read, a real page turner which (even at 700 pages) never loses tension. Secondly, it covers a very interesting period in French history. Not very accurately I'll grant you but for someone who knew nothing of 13th century French history, I found this fictional reading of those times fascinating. The historic story is intertwined with a parallel contemporary story which is equally engaging and makes you want to spend your next holiday in the French Pyrenees. OK there are a couple of very clumsy and unlikely devices to move the plot along and get the characters into the right positions. OK. the baddies do tend to be a bit one dimensional (hence only 4 stars) but this is a splendid read, particularly recommended to anyone who has read The Historian, which is good but overlong and not as good as this.

Agents Of Fortune
Agents Of Fortune
Price: £3.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beginning of the slide, 24 Sept. 2007
This review is from: Agents Of Fortune (Audio CD)
This album will always be remembered for "Don't fear the reaper" the track which immortalised Blue Oyster Cult. Had the rest of the album lived up to the promise of its three predecessors then BOC would have been propelled into the kind of megastardom achieved by the likes of Deep Purple and Black Sabbath.
As it is, most of the tracks on this album are pretty average with only "Don't fear the reaper" and "The revenge of Vera Gemeni"(featuring guest vocals from Patti Smith) reaching the standard of previous albums. After this album BOC slid into HM cliche and AOR and would never really get near to realising their potential
Buy the first three albums (BOC, Secret Treaties and Tyranny and Mutation). Buy the first two live albums (On your feet or on your knees and Some Enchanted Evening). They are all you need and (with the exception of the studio version of "Don't fear the reaper" contain all of BOC's great songs.

Pink Floyd - Live at Pompeii [DVD] [2003]
Pink Floyd - Live at Pompeii [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ David Gilmour
Offered by LuvFilmLuvMusic
Price: £4.06

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A unique piece of early 70s culture, 10 Sept. 2007
Looking at this film thirty years after it was made, the first thing that hits you is how much bolder film makers and musicians were then. Even with all the technical advances that have taken place since 1972, no-one would dare to make a film like this now, even if they could get the financial backing.

The original version of the film (which features as an extra on this DVD) is superb. The rather dated cinematography only adds to the period atmosphere and the audacious concept of playing a live concert in the empty amphitheatre at Pompeii with just the film crew there is just perfect for early Pink Floyd music and makes most other "performance" films seem pretty tame by comparison.

The director's cut is a disappointment. The newly created footage is incongruous and irrelevant. The clips of the Abbey Road studios during the recording of Dark Side of the Moon are interesting but only serve to break the flow of the Pompeii performance. They should be available separately.

Other extras are OK but it is the original film that makes this a crucial purchace for all Pink Floyd fans and fans of rock cinema.

'Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!': The Rolling Stones In Concert
'Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!': The Rolling Stones In Concert
Price: £5.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stones at the peak of their form, 23 Feb. 2007
This album was recorded during two glorious nights at Madison Square garden in New York at a time when they truly were "The greatest rock and roll band in the World." The performances are note perfect but at the same time full of verve and energy in a way that has never come across in any of their subsequent live recordings. The choice of tracks (Jumpin Jack Flash, Sympathy for the Devil, Street Fightin Man plus the best from Let it Bleed) is fantastic, which is not surprising as this album came in the middle of that glorious period when they recorded Beggar's Banquet, Let it Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main Street. Never before or since have they come close equalling the quality of those recordings and neither have they come close to producing a live album of the quality of "Get yer ya yas out."
Two Chuck Berry songs (Carol and Little Queenie) really show off the band's live delivery with gutsy guitar driven by a rhythm section that has never sounded so driven. Love in Vain is a perfectly performed blues song and despite the decidedly dodgy lyrics, Stray cat Blues is probably my favourite track on the album, showing off the new guitar skills that Mick Taylor had recently brought to the band.
I have on occasion seen odd clips of film of this concert so I presume that somewhere out there is a DVD waiting to be issued. The sooner the better.

Ramshackle Beauty
Ramshackle Beauty
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £4.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nearly brilliant, 5 Feb. 2007
This review is from: Ramshackle Beauty (Audio CD)
This is a very good album full of the jangly guitars and perfect harmonies that fans of bands from the Byrds to Teenage Fanclub via REM will love. Daniel Wylie is a very good songwriter and this album is certainly the equal of Enjoy the Melodic Sunshine but with a rather more contemporary feel. What it loses by rejecting some of the psychadelic feel of ETMS, it gains by more consistent quality and a merciful lack of falsetto. To listen to this album is like lying in a field on a hot day. There are no bad songs and about 6 potential singles and I feel that Daniel Wylie could well be headed for greatness.
So why 4 stars rather than 5? Well, he is clearly a very good songwriter and the arrangements are spot on but, pleasant though they are, the songs are relentlessly lightweight, both lyrically and musically. This may be OK for a lot of people but I can't help thinking that Daniel Wylie has an Eight Miles High or even a Wooden Ships in him somewhere and I'd love to see how he tackles something with a bit more depth. So nearly brilliant but not quite.

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