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Andrew Lewsey (Brussels)
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I Will Always Love You
I Will Always Love You
Offered by rsc-media
Price: £3.97

3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A smack in the face from a vocal wet haddock, 11 July 2007
This review is from: I Will Always Love You (Audio CD)
Every single ounce of the sentiment contained in Dolly Parton's original and vastly superior version has been airbrushed out of this bellowing, soulless mess. Check Dolly out for the real deal, especially when her voice cracks with emotion. Don't worry, sweetheart, we're here for you!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 17, 2009 9:51 PM BST


Dare
Dare
Price: £6.65

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Things That Dreams Are Made Of, 24 April 2007
This review is from: Dare (Audio CD)
I have said in my review of Kate Bush's "The Hounds of Love" that that is the best album of the 1980s. This one comes a very close second.

It is very rare for a pop album to be as original, ground-breaking and perfect as this one. It is a thrilling blend of stark-sounding early Human League and the newer, warmer sound they forged with the addition of the two girls. It is packed full of gorgeous tunes, any one of which could have been a hit (and 4 were).

"Things That Dreams Are Made Of"

For a 12 year-old boy in 1980s suburban England, this was an exciting glimpse into the glamourous world of travel as Oakey sang about driving across the Golden Gate Bridge and march march marching across Red Square, while also name-checking Norman Wisdom and ice-cream. A few of his favourite things. Wouldn't catch Julie Andrews singing about them, though, and certainly not in that gorgeous baritone!

"Open Your Heart"

My favourite Human League song and one of the best pop songs ever written. It is such a strong song that the verses sound like choruses with their uplifting hooklines. Play it to a friend who is depressed. If it doesn't cheer them up then they must be dead.

"Sound of the Crowd"

To anyone tarting themselves up ready for a night out, get ready to this song. That's it, lard on the slap, nice and glam now!

"Darkness"

When I first heard this song, I was genuinely scared. It is Stephen King set to music. Oakey's apocalyptic (I like that word) vocals and the church-organ-like synths, plus the desperate lyrics make a potent combination.

"Do or Die"

I still don't know what this song is about but who cares? I just love the rasping synth sound and tribal drum patterns.

"Get Carter"

The album's only instrumental and inspired by the Michael Caine film of the same name.

"I Am The Law"

Inspired by Judge Dredd, this song is most reminiscent of early Human League - minimalist, stern and dominated by Oakey's vocal. I love the way he prolongs the last word "law" as the song slides down into the next one, which then lifts you up again. Great juxtaposition.

"Seconds"

Considering its subject matter - the assassination of President Kennedy - this song is surprisingly poppy. Probably one of the first ever songs to be written about stalking.

"Love Action (I Believe In Love)"

I always used to think that the beginning of this song sounded like a cat going "miaow, miaow, miaow"... Great tune when it gets going though, and apparently a bit of a confessional.

"Don't You Want Me"

What can I say? This track consistently turns up on the "100 Greatest Songs"-type programmes and deservedly so. It charts the story of a cocktail waitress plucked from obscurity and made into a star by a man she no longer loves. The man is simultaneously threatening and pleading, the woman defiant and the song, gorgeous. Avoid Snap's remix, though, if you ever come across it.

A perfect synthpop album which has stood the test of time with not a duff tune in sight.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 9, 2011 9:25 PM BST


Air Babylon
Air Babylon
by Imogen Edwards-Jones
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I wish she'd written it as a woman, 16 April 2007
This review is from: Air Babylon (Paperback)
While well-narrated and entertaining due to the sheer number of incidents the author manages to pack in, I have two issues with this book. The first is that many of the incidents just aren't believable enough and have clearly been exaggerated or made up to shock readers. The second is the fact that the author tries to narrate as a man. I agree with Jason's comments below - this just doesn't work. You will enjoy it more if you ignore the times s/he says "mate" and the awkward sexual tension at the end and pretend that the narrator is the character Tamsin Outhwaite plays in Hotel Babylon.


Doctor Who - The Hand of Fear [DVD] [1976]
Doctor Who - The Hand of Fear [DVD] [1976]
Dvd ~ Tom Baker
Price: £5.70

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eldrad MUST live!, 20 Mar 2007
Back in the mid 1970's when I was just a nipper, I would skip gaily home from the newsagents in my little shorts with some penny chews and a lurid red string of liquorice packed with E numbers to watch Saturday's instalment of Doctor Who. I count myself lucky to have experienced the Baker/Sladen partnership first time round. It is the best ensemble acting the show has ever produced. Week in week out, I would be enthralled by the brave, kind and just a little bit unsettling Doctor and the pretty, spunky Sarah-Jane as they battled Daleks, Sontarans, Cybermen and Zygons in a crazed-out monsterfest which was compulsory viewing for any child in Great Britain who grew up in that magical era. Then it all came to an end with the Hand of Fear and I wrote a rude letter to the BBC (which my Mum helped me to write), which they never replied to.

The story is not outstanding, but contains a popular template still retained by the series, namely setting the initial story on Earth in recognisable surroundings (yes, it's THAT quarry again), before shifting the action to outer space. One interesting fact is that Sarah is given a chance to be mean as she is possessed by the power of Eldrad's ring. The highlight is of course her leaving scene, made all the more poignant by being underplayed by both actors.

Elisabeth Sladen is the best actor or actress ever to have played the Doctor's companion, and struck just the right degree of balance between vulnerability and independence, while all the while creating a likeable and entirely believable character. There has not been a companion like her since (although I have to say I was very impressed with Billie Piper). This was her swansong.

Happy days.


Fundamental
Fundamental
Offered by MediaMerchants
Price: £3.83

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Return to Form, 11 Jan 2007
This review is from: Fundamental (Audio CD)
"Psychological"

Gratifyingly electronic and a tad menacing with a spooky little synth refrain just before the word "Psychological"

"The Sodom and Gomorrah Show"

This song has a fantastic chorus, reminiscent of "It's a Sin" or "Shameless" - the kind of singalonga camp that the PSBs do better than anyone else.

"I Made My Excuses and Left"

This illustrates that the Boys can produce really quite moving, slow tempo songs just as well as the disco-based foot-stompers. Like "Your Funny Uncle", it is a perfectly crafted, melancholic mini-opera. Its more minimal production allows the message of the song, along with the wistful vocals, to take centre stage.

"Minimal"

Continues with the Kraftwerk-like vein of the first track. Good, `cos I like Kraftwerk. It sounds both retro and futuristic.

"Numb"

The only PSB album track not written or co-written by Neil or Chris since "It's Alright", I believe, so unusual in that respect. Having said that, it's a very good song (otherwise it would not have passed their quality control). I can see why they chose it as a single.

"God Willing"

Interesting if a bit cheeky of them to list it as a separate track. It consists of a minute of city noise which I'm sure adds to the feel of the album but it's not really a separate song but then again as it's them they're forgiven.

"Luna Park"

A bit REM-ish but that's not a bad thing. Spectral lyrics and an almost Pink Floyd-ish atmosphere.

"I'm with Stupid"

I don't like this very much for the same reasons I didn't like "Heart". Not a bad song per se, just a little meandering. Full marks for attacking Blair and Bush, though. Bet Neil won't get invited back to No. 10 for champers like he was when Tony came to power!

"Casanova in Hell"

The melody is wonderfully tuneful and quite sweet, developing into a pleasingly orchestral, almost melodramatic chorus. They're very good at chord changes, are the Boys.

"Twentieth Century"

I like the rhythm in this one, which sounds gentler than it actually is because of the relative lightness of the music.

"Indefinite Leave to Remain"

Clever title, given the thematic history of their sometimes ambivalent love songs. Seems to be they have a habit of rounding off their albums with a nice little love ditty (think "Footsteps" on "Nightlife"). Nowt wrong with that, except there's one more track!

"Integral"

PSBs do CCTV. The mood and vocal delivery suggests a police state where we are all watched "now we've got the mandate". That's it: DEFINITELY no more champagne at No. 10.

Pet Shop Boys are one of the very, very few artists who have never written a bad song. I don't like absolutely every single thing they've written but not particularly liking a song does not make it a bad song. The longevity of their career is testament to that. I know I sound like an old duffer (I'm not), but I've always liked the fact you can hear what Neil is singing. No semi-literate gabbling shouty youngsters here!


The Rattle Bag: An Anthology of Poetry
The Rattle Bag: An Anthology of Poetry
by Ted Hughes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.89

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An ideal introduction to poetry, 22 Nov 2006
This anthology - along with my S-Level English teacher - first introduced me to poetry. I would recommend it to anyone interested in poetry or the history of poetry or anyone looking to introduce someone to poetry. The selection is a wise one, for most of the poems are short and therefore digestible and accessible (particularly to children). The scope of the selection also covers several centuries for those with an interest in how poetry has evolved and encompasses many poems from the non-English-speaking world (all translated into English). The sheer number of poems ensure a multiplicity of styles and in this respect it is particularly good for dipping into.


Forrest Gump (2 Disc Special Collector's Edition) [1994] [DVD]
Forrest Gump (2 Disc Special Collector's Edition) [1994] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tom Hanks
Offered by gowingsstoreltd
Price: £2.75

11 of 100 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Forrest Chump, 22 Nov 2006
Forrest is a boy and a bit dim and has a crush on a girl. Forrest grows up (physically at least) and runs across America while still having crush on aforementioned girl and still being dim. Oh, and REALLY annoying. Why?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 19, 2013 10:37 PM BST


Hounds Of Love
Hounds Of Love

149 of 152 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'd give it 6 stars if I could, 13 Nov 2006
This review is from: Hounds Of Love (Audio CD)
No note, no word, no sound and no song is out of place on this, the greatest album of the 1980s. It is a work of epic mastery, startling originality and monumental solo achievement. No-one should compare Kate Bush to any other female singer/songwriter and this is why.

In the days when albums had sides, the first five songs would have been side one. Four out of five of them were hit singles and the whole side oozes celebration.

"Running up that Hill" is a haunting, atmospheric song about swapping places with someone to share their pain. Its rhythm is urgent and driven by almost warlike drums.

"Hounds of Love" is a wonderfully celebratory song about how helpless love makes you. It too has an urgent rhythm which underpins the song's theme.

"The Big Sky" is Kate at her trippiest best, looking up at the sky and giggling at clouds that look like Ireland, a fact subtly complemented by the folk-like refrain chanted in the background. The video is great too.

"Mother Stands for Comfort". One of the oddest songs she had written by that stage, but odd in a good way. Its relaxed rhythm mirrors the almost nursery rhyme-like quality of its lyrics: being warmly comforted by a mother even when you've done something wrong. There is no "tune" in the traditional sense but that does not stop the song being melodic. She uses drums, piano, bass and even breaking glass to great effect.

"Cloudbusting". This song has often been described as "majestic" and rightly so. It is a sweeping paean to a lost parent and is based on the story of a boy whose father was taken away because he had invented a machine which made it rain. Its chugging rhythm, beautifully arranged strings and even the use of a steam engine perfectly capture the almost menacing feel of clouds gathering portentously and scudding across the sky. The video - starring the intense Donald Sutherland - did what music videos should do: it told the story of the song, thus adding an extra visual dimension and helping us to enjoy this great piece of songwriting even more.

Where the album passes from the sublime to the otherwordly is in the cycle of seven songs "The Ninth Wave", the title of which is taken from Tennyson's poem "The Coming of Arthur" at a point in the poem where the sea gives birth to Uther's heir at Merlin's feet.

"And Dream of Sheep" is the first song and follows the descent into unconsciousness of its drowning subject fighting to stay awake as the freezing sea slowly drags her into its opiate blackness. A soporific mood is deftly created by sparse use of the piano and Kate's vocals interspersed with gentle sounds of the sea.

Things become more sinister in the second song, "Under Ice", which presents an interestingly schizophrenic picture of the woman skating on top of the ice while simultaneously realising she is trapped beneath it. This realisation becomes more urgent as the song progresses and culminates in a keening wail of despair.

The next song, "Waking the Witch" is the most frightening of all seven. It begins in a dreamlike state as its hallucinating subject hears a kaleidoscope of voices bringing her awake, some nice and others menacing, foreshadowing what is about to happen to her. The last voice is sweet and gentle, lulling its listener into a false sense of security before the song explodes into a nightmarish, babbling soundscape of blind terror as she is drowned, her panic overlaid by apocalyptic church bells and the witchfinder's evil, rapacious growl (are you scared yet? You should be). Frantic begging on the part of the witch does not save her as she is repeatedly plunged into the water against a refrain of dark chants and snatches of Latin.

"Watching You Without Me" sees her return to her lover in the form of a ghost and is a very touching song, whose trippy mood and light musicality sit just right with its subject matter. Its gentleness is cleverly interrupted by the panicked babbling of the witch from the previous song to remind us of how she died. Apparently, she sings something backwards but in twenty years I've never managed to work out what it is.

"Jig of Life" is a nod to her Irish roots and celebrates the wisdom of an old gypsy lady, perhaps a reincarnation of the drowning girl or the witch from the past or the future. It is a stomping folk song with a fantastic set of string and drum arrangements.

"Hello Earth" sees her as an astronaut sleepily looking down on a stormy, wet planet Earth and lulls us deliberately to sleep with its Nosferatu-like chants and dragging cello before we awaken joyfully for the last song.

"Morning Fog" sees her reborn into the arms of her family and is a very upbeat celebratory love song which never once becomes mawkish. A very satisfying and uplifting conclusion to an awesome piece of work.

Sheep, little lights, seagulls, snowscapes, babbling witches, ghosts, wise old women, astronauts, storms and newborn babies - it's all there.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 2, 2014 7:46 AM BST


The War of the Worlds
The War of the Worlds
by H. G. Wells
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not the book they made the film of, 26 Oct 2006
This review is from: The War of the Worlds (Paperback)
What is it about the Americans' consistent compulsion to ruin great literature? I refer of course to the recent film with Tom Cruise. Why has nobody ever made a film of this book as it was actually written? It is cracking yarn, fast-paced and expertly told. It vividly captures the atmosphere of Victorian Britain at the height of its colonial might, demonstrating that Great Britain was not as invincible as she thought she was. The Martians and what they do to people are genuinely the stuff of nightmares. Like most of Wells' work, it is also an instructive lesson in social history. Its greatest achievement, however, is the juxtaposition of the mundane and the fantastical, rendering the invasion of a parochial England by glittering extraterrestrial warlords utterly believable. It is a vital and seminal contribution to the canon of science fiction and someone should make a decent film of it.


Doctor Who: Series 2 - Volume 2 [DVD] [2005]
Doctor Who: Series 2 - Volume 2 [DVD] [2005]
Dvd ~ David Tennant
Price: £3.47

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sarah's Back!, 20 Oct 2006
Sarah-Jane Smith is back! Only the best Doctor Who assistant ever. If there are any nippers reading this ask yer dads!


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