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What The Brothers Sang
What The Brothers Sang
Price: 11.61

4.0 out of 5 stars It's Everly Time with Billy and Dawn..., 7 Mar 2013
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This review is from: What The Brothers Sang (Audio CD)
After a few practise runs the Everly Brothers retired a few years ago, so it's great to see an album covering some of their songs on new release. Well, not exactly covers as such, since some are very different from the Everly originals, though somehow sounding both new and retro at the same time.The songs chosen include some of the brothers' lesser-known recordings, with a B-side or two, and some old album tracks of theirs that you'd be hard-pressed to find unless you have the Bear Family box sets.

Billy and Dawn are no great shakes as singers, but the do sing beautifully together with a certain charm, especially on the more gentle numbers, and are aided by a bunch of very capable, sympathetic and tasteful backing musicians.

Kristofferson's desolate Breakdown gets the album off to an assured start, similar to the Everlys' arrangement, followed by thoughtful readings of a folksy Empty Boxes, and a Simon & Garfunkel-like Milk Train. What Am I Living For, an R&B song covered by Don and Phil on their 1965 Beat 'n' Soul album, is given a slow, mournful fiddle intro, with a fine fiddle/electric guitar solo. The pounding Somebody Help Me is much like the Everlys' own cover on their Two Yanks In England album, though the song itself is perhaps more familiar to most as the theme to the TV series The Royal, recorded by the Spencer Davis Group with Stevie Winwood.

So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad) is probably the best-known Everly song on the album, the follow-up single to Cathy's Clown in 1960. In my view, Billy and Dawn's vocal limitations are exposed on this track in particular. But then nothing can quite match Don and Phil's exquisite harmonies. Omaha and It's All Over follow, perhaps two of Don's very best songs, and are given a wonderful treatment here, the latter a truly aching expression of sorrowful regret.

John Denver's Poems, Prayers And Promises again reveals vocal limitations, but it's a worthy inclusion. Just What I Was Looking For, with its '67-era trippy lyrics, is possibly the Everlys' hardest-to-find song of those included here, and is a fine version, before the album is rounded off with a gentle, understated arrangement of the wonderful Kentucky.

The backing musicians include Billy Contreras on fiddle, John Mock on mandolin, and the great Dan Dugmore on steel and electric guitars.. The album's running time is around 40 minutes.

For a long-time aficionado this is a most welcome release celebrating the music of the Everly Brothers, and who knows, maybe some of those younger music-lovers who get to hear this album will be encouraged to check out the brothers' own recordings.


Betjeman's Best British Churches
Betjeman's Best British Churches
by John Betjeman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 28.00

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Explore the best of Sir John's 'Nooks and Corners' with this sumptuous guide to our best churches, 29 July 2011
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Though of course best known for his poetry, the late Sir John Betjeman's great passion was for churches. This abiding fascination for Britain's wonderful heritage of parish churches, with their often delightful fusions of architectural style, led to the first edition in 1958 of the classic Collins Guide To English Parish Churches, containing brief descriptions of some 4,500 of the best of them. The guide has been revised several times over the years, this latest version rigorously updated by Richard Surman who also took many of the photographs. This new version - for the 21st century, 'the age of satellite navigation and precise mapping' - contains very precise locations for each of the churches featured.

The book has 3 radical departures from previous editions:
1. There is a significantly stronger pictorial element, with hundreds of full colour photographs, some of full- and two-page size;
2. This has necessitated a considerable reduction in the number of entries, using for selection primarily the simple star rating system that JB had introduced for the 1968 edition, but also including some churches for the first time, as well as a number of notable Roman Catholic churches, chosen for their 'outstanding historical, architectural or historical merit.';
2. There is a new section for Scotland's churches.

The layout of the guide is organised first by country, then alphabetically by county, with detailed maps showing the church locations at-a-glance. Also included is Betjeman's own Introduction, here running to some 66 pages incorporating some beautiful photographs.

Most of us will be familiar with some or many of the churches in this guide. For each church there is a short descriptive entry highlighting the main points of interest. These few extracts, about some of those I know myself, should give a flavour of those descriptive entries:

* Brompton Oratory RC: 'Unmistakable in Knightsbridge. Rome comes to London.The Baroque building by H. Gribble in 1880-96, was modelled on The Church of the Most Holy Name of Jesus in Rome, and is second only in size to Westminster Cathedral ...'
* Grasmere St Oswald: 'The rough, massive old church has a notable two-tier arcade ... The resulting jungle of black beams is an object lesson in elementary building, ingenious and almost indescribable except by Wordsworth, who had a shot at most things, and declared that the roof was upheld: 'By naked rafters intricately crossed / Like leafless underboughs, mid some thick grove / All withered by the depths of shade above ...'
Iona St Oran's Chapel: 'Of note is the early Norman doorway, with chunky dogtooth carving, and, inside, a well-carved 15th century wall recess. John Smith, a celebrated Scottish leader of the Labour Party is buried here; his epitaph reads 'An Honest Man's The Noblest Work Of God.' ...'
* Kingston-Upon-Hull Holy Trinity: 'Look up in the crossing, and there are good painted ceiling panels and lierne vaulting. At the W. is a fine 14th century marble carved font where William Wilberforce, leader of the anti-slave trade movement was baptised ...'
* Millport Cathedral of the Isles: 'A world away from the nearby coastal conurbations of the Firth Of Clyde is William Butterfield's 1851 church for George Boyle, 6th Earl of Glasgow ... The tall slender spire 123 feet high, gives the impression of a large building, but the church is in fact small, the nave being some 20 by 40 feet ...'
* Patrington St Patrick: 'The Queen of Holderness' is celebrated as a church of exceptional Decorated Gothic. The church is cruciform with double-sided transepts, the central tower being crowned by an open corona from which rises a lofty spire ... In the crossing are animated corbels depicting villagers, monks and animals ...'
* Whitby St Mary: 'Near the abbey ruins on a hill above the old town, St Mary's looks down on the harbour. The church was built to resist coastal storms, and looks like it, with a squat tower, heavy dark walls and an assembly of external stairs and extensions ... The great rectangular nave is filled with box pews and galleries rising almost to the roof, all centred on the high pulpit and reading desk, attached to which are two enormous ear trumpets for a Georgian incumbent's wife ...'

This beautifully produced breeze-block of a book - it is getting on for A4 size, contains 896 pages, including a helpful glossary and index, and weighs a hefty 2.25 kgs. or so - will not quite fit into most pockets, but will serve as a valuable and handy(ish) guide to many of our best 'hidden gems and national treasures'. And, guided by its contents, you really don't need to be an 'expert' on ecclesiastical architecture to appreciate what's all around us.

I can also recommend for those who don't already know of it Richard Taylor's book How To Read A Church, which will considerably enhance your enjoyment of church visits.


An American Trilogy (4xCD and Book)
An American Trilogy (4xCD and Book)

37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A trilogy of wonderful albums - and much more, 28 May 2011
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Mickey Newbury's music has been a big part of my life for almost 40 years. Like many others in the UK of my vintage, I first heard Mickey on the radio singing An American Trilogy back in 1971. I remember discussing the song one day with the late Joe Butler of Liverpool's Hillsiders, a good friend at that time. The Hillies were really enthusing about the song, and Joe told me they'd assumed at first that Mickey was black because he sang with so much impassioned soul. I picked up a copy of the 'Frisco Mabel Joy album the next day.

Some years later I had the good fortune to interview Mickey for a country music magazine at Wembley in 1977. Amongst other things, I remember him saying that although naturally he was pleased when Elvis covered An American Trilogy - it became his Vegas show-stopper - the patriotic, military drum sound had given a different feel to the song than he'd intended. Mickey had seen the Trilogy as a love song, his love song to the American people - the North, the South, the Native and African-American. Sadly, even then Mickey was not in the best of health, and the people with him cut short our interview so that he could rest. I still have the tape somewhere, on which the strains of Emmylou and her Hot Band, running through a sound-check in the main auditorium, can be heard in the background.

Of course, Mickey went out on stage later to give a masterly performance.

This 4-CD box set comprises 3 re-mastered original albums, along with an interesting album of demos and other tracks, as follows:

* CD1 - Looks Like Rain - 7 tracks - playing time approx 41:30 minutes
* CD2 - 'Frisco Mabel Joy - 11 tracks - playing time approx 38:53 minutes
* CD3 - Heaven Help The Child - 8 tracks - playing time approx 37:13 minutes
* CD4 - Better Days - (Demos, Rarities, Unreleased) - 15 tracks - playing time approx 44:47 minutes **
In addition:
* Newbury's America - a superb b&w map of the USA, bigger than A3 size unfolded, and printed on fine art paper, charting (with accompanying notes) some 22 reference points relating to Mickey's life, career and (some of his) songs - starting with Point no. 1: Houston, Texas, which reads: 'Born Milton Sims Newbury, May 19, 1940 etc ...', and on through to point no. 22: Reno, Nevada, citing a line from the song Why You Been Gone So Long. The lyrics to all the songs on CDs1-3 are printed on the reverse of the map.
* A beautifully laid-out, 96-page CD-size book containing a number of interesting quotations, articles and essays from, among others, Chris Campion, Ben Fong Torres, Kris Kristofferson, Kenny Rogers and Will Oldham (and John Milton and Henry David Thoreau), with numerous colour and b&w photos, many published here for the first time.

** The tracks on CD4, Better Days, are also available separately on a new vinyl album.

The tracks on CD4 (and therefore the vinyl album) are as follows:

1. If You Want Me To I'll Go (3:39) - publisher demo
2. Sunshine (3:03) - Mercury single 73036 - alternate mono version from the Looks Like Rain sessions
3. Sad Satin Rhyme - Mercury single 73036
4. Why You Been Gone So Long - publisher demo
5. I Don't Wanna Rock - publisher demo
6. Let Me Stay Awhile - publisher demo (note, for interest: this song was covered by Waylon on his Cedartown, Georgia album)
7. Flower Man - home demo, previously unreleased
8. Good Morning Dear - publisher demo
9. On Top Of Old Smokey - home demo
10. Interlude: How Many Times (Must The Piper Be Paid For His Song) - radio session +
11 .Better Days - radio session, previously unreleased +
12. How I Love Them Old Songs - radio session +
13. I Don't Wanna Rock - radio session +
14. I Don't Want Me No Big City Woman - radio session, previously unreleased +
15. You're Not My Same Sweet Baby Lady - radio session +

+ The Skip Weshner Show on KRHFM, Los Angeles, November 1970

These 3 stunning original albums were released during a very creative 4-year period between 1969 and 1973, and to me were something of a revelation in country music terms.

Looks Like Rain - truly a masterpiece, was released on Mercury Records in 1969, with liner notes by Kris Kristofferson (reproduced in the CD booklet). It included the first version of San Francisco Mabel Joy, She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye, a huge hit for Jerry Lee Lewis that same year, and 33rd Of August, covered the following year by Waylon Jennings. Mickey's experimental use of sound effects linking the tracks - thundery rain, a train whistling through the night, the wind chimes from his houseboat - brought a real sense of atmosphere to those wonderful songs, providing a mesmeric listening experience.

'Frisco Mabel Joy - followed in 1971, this time on the discerning Elektra label, contained 11 great songs, headed by An American Trilogy, though without the album title song, which was added as a bonus track when the album came out on CD many years later. For me, this album contains some of the finest (and saddest) songs I've ever heard. How Many Times (Must The Piper Be Paid For His Song), Frisco Depot, You're Not My Same Sweet Baby and Swiss Cottage Place are simply heartbreaking. I also love those memorable opening lines from The Future's Not What It Used To Be, and the album ends with the wry How I Love Them Old Songs. Priceless.

Heaven Help The Child - the follow-up album on Elektra in 1973 was also exceptional. The title track is a glorious, sweeping opus that ranges from '1912 in New York' to 'Paris in the '20s' through 'War is hell to live with' and ends by referencing Robert Burns's Auld Lang Syne. The album also includes the gorgeously poignant Sweet Memories, the bittersweet Sunshine, and another heartbreaker in Cortelia Clark, the story about a blind old street singer and a visit to the depot in Guthrie 'just to see the train' (Guthrie, Texas, is point no. 15 on the map). ('He was black and I was green'). A new, atmospheric version of San Francisco Mabel Joy rounded off the album.

Along with a handful of other creative writers such as Kris Kristofferson, Tom T. Hall and Townes Van Zandt, Mickey Newbury was instrumental in redefining and broadening the boundaries of country music in the late '60s and early '70s. These 3 early albums go some way to illustrate Mickey's important role in that development.

This wonderful CD box set really does Mickey and his music proud. Aficionados will have the 3 main albums of course, but all the tracks have been lovingly re-mastered, and CD4 would be a valuable addition to any Newbury collection. And the terrific Newbury's America map and lavish CD book are items to treasure.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 19, 2012 9:42 AM BST


The Very Best of Don Gibson
The Very Best of Don Gibson
Price: 11.85

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Best songs, maybe, but not best recordings., 24 Mar 2010
I first heard Don Gibson on Radio Luxembourg when I was a teenager in the late '50s. I really took to such self-penned numbers as Blue, Blue Day, Who Cares (For Me) and Don't Tell Me Your Troubles, but had no idea that this stuff was called country music. An ill-spent youth, perhaps.

The first time I saw Don Gibson was on stage at a pub in London, prior to his appearance at the second Wembley Festival, in 1970. He was reeling around the stage, and Country Fever's Jon Derek had to keep an eye on him so he didn't fall over. Don did manage somehow to put on a pretty good show, however.

And this collection of his very best? Well, hardly Don Gibson's very best, since most of these tracks (tracks 1-10) are actually re-recordings of songs that had been Billboard Top Ten hits for him on the RCA label during the 1958 - 1962 period, and made after he'd moved to Hickory Records. Tracks 11-15 were further Top Ten hits for Don on the Hickory and Hickory/MGM labels between 1971 and 1974. The last track, the sacred song I Need Thee Every Hour, is something of a curio; certainly not a hit for Don, and one I'd not heard before. Nor do I recall it being on any of the Bear Family collections (though of course, I could be wrong there).

Don is in good voice here, but just be aware of what you are buying. There are much better collections of Don's best recordings, which are mostly on RCA. The Bear Family collection A Legend In My Time, RCA Country Legends, the 2-CD Anthology - and not forgetting Don Rocks - are all excellent compilations, depending on which songs you really want.


Popcorn: Fifty Years of Rock 'n' Roll Movies
Popcorn: Fifty Years of Rock 'n' Roll Movies
by Garry Mulholland
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 13.96

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, critical look at 50 years of rock films that matter, 16 Mar 2010
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Last October I was trawling Amazon for a comprehensive book on rock 'n' roll films when I came across brief details of this one that was due for publication in March 2010. Sadly for me, this is not it - at least, not what I was looking for. There have been dozens if not hundreds of films, mostly duds, admittedly, featuring rock 'n' roll music to some extent or other, but there still doesn't seem to be a half-decent book that has attempted to include them all.

Don't get me wrong. Garry Mulholland's new book is very good for what it is, an attempt to write about what he considers are the 100 most important rock movies (not just rock 'n' roll movies, therefore) of the past 50 years still in existence (that is, available in the UK on DVD, or at least VHS); some classics, some turkeys, and some forgotten. These range from 1956's The Girl Can't Help It to 2009's Telstar: The Joe Meek Story. He refers to them as 'the most important', rather than 'the greatest' because in his view there aren't 100 great rock movies (though he does list his own 20 'Best Ever Made'). Furthermore, Garry concedes that at least half those chosen 'are either mediocre or enjoyably trashy - or just plain awful' (and who would disagree!). Not surprisingly, therefore, very few rock films are part of the movie pantheon.

He does mention and explain why a few otherwise notable films are missing from the book, in particular Rock Around The Clock, which is not available in the UK in any format. Neither is Blackboard Jungle included (though it is mentioned in the Amazon synopsis of the book), nor that glorious dud, Alan Freed's Rock, Rock, Rock.

The films are presented and reviewed chronologically, through the decades, and include:

The Fifties:The Girl Can't Help It, King Creole and Expresso Bongo;
The Sixties: Beat Girl, A Hard Day's Night and Easy Rider;
The Seventies: Performance, American Graffiti, The Last Waltz and Quadrophenia;
The Eighties: Babylon, The Blues Brothers and This Is Spinal Tap;
The Nineties: The Doors, The Commitments and Backbeat;
The Twenty-First Century: The Filth And The Fury, Walk The Line and Telstar.

In determining what merited inclusion, Garry maintains that all the films in his selection fall into seven basic categories: the pop star vehicle; the pop star biopic; 'digging the scene'; the rock musical; 'about the Biz'; the rockumentary; and the rock comedy. Of course, some films have more than one of these elements.

I haven't studied all the reviews, and indeed some of the films included are of no interest to me, frankly, but I found Garry's opinions on several films are similar to my own (not that it should matter). For example, I too have strong reservations about the entertaining but badly flawed Buddy Holly Story, and who could disagree about the overrated (but I love it) The Girl Can't Help It, which like many r 'n' r films is redeemed only by its cameos by the day's music icons? Then there's Telstar, well worth seeing for its portrayal of that deranged, oddball sound genius Joe Meek. This could only have been made over here. Like any real critic, Garry can be enlightening, annoying, forthright and strongly opinionated, surely what it's all about, even if you do see things differently.

For interest, there are two sets of eight glossy pages of colour and b/w stills and posters from the featured films.

The stated aim of this book is to get to the essence of the film and why it matters - or perhaps doesn't. Does Garry Mulholland succeed in this? Well, largely he does for me, but perhaps you should get hold of a copy and decide for yourself. I suppose I bought this book thinking it would serve a rather different purpose, but it has turned out to be a very welcome addition to my, er, library. One I will keep going back to.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 1, 2010 10:18 PM BST


Buck Owens Live from Austin Tx [1988] [DVD] [2008] [NTSC]
Buck Owens Live from Austin Tx [1988] [DVD] [2008] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Buck Owens
Price: 12.92

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Buck Owens live in concert in Austin Tx, 6 Mar 2010
This DVD, which runs to around 34 minutes, was recorded in October 1988 when Buck was 59 years old. He looks a little tubby, though he says later in the show that Dwight had been dragging him all over the United States on the road for the past 6 months! He's in good voice though, even if understandably, his phrasing isn't quite what it used to be when he was younger and in his heyday, along with the great Don Rich and the rest of The Buckaroos.

The DVD has a good selection of old hits, and some that were to appear on Hot Dog!, a new album of old songs that was to come out a week or two later (it included the songs on tracks 6-10 here, though as far as I recall, Dwight didn't duet with Buck on that album's version of Under Your Spell Again).

For interest, the DVD contains the following songs:

1. Act Naturally
2. Together Again
3. Love's Gonna Live Here
4. Crying Time
5. Tiger By The Tail
6. A-11
7. Hot Dog!
8. Put Another Quarter In The Jukebox
9. Memphis, Tennessee
10. Under Your Spell Again - duet with Dwight Yoakam
11. Johnny B. Goode

The musicians appearing are:

Buck Owens - electric guitar
Terry Christoffersen - electric and pedal steel guitars
Doyle Curtsinger - bass guitar and harmony vocals
Jim Shaw - electric piano
James P. McCarty - drums

Dwight Yoakam - acoustic guitar and duet vocal with Buck on Under Your Spell Again

Well, they may not be The Buckaroos, but this band are very good indeed. That great old steel-driven, honky-tonk sound lives on!

Buck is playing a sparkling silver version of the iconic Telecaster, the driving force behind the 'Bakersfield Sound', and takes guitar solos during Tiger By The Tail and Hot Dog!

The picture and sound quality are very good, and up the usual high standard of the Live From Austin Tx series.


Path Through the Forest
Path Through the Forest
Price: 61.55

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining anthology of CTW demos, rarities and other recordings from the Sixties., 26 Feb 2010
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This review is from: Path Through the Forest (Audio CD)
This 2-CD anthology may not be one for the casual buyer, but for CTW aficionados it's a must-buy.

Described in the CD booklet as 'a near-as-dammit complete guide to the secret world of Clifford T. Ward prior to the 'official' start of his career with Dandelion (Records) ...', it includes various demos, works-in-progress, pre-fame singles and other tracks featuring a young Cliff Ward from around 1964-1968. I've been collecting Cliff's music for many years, including various items made available by the Friends of Clifford T. Ward that are not otherwise to be found. Tracks on this new collection include unadorned versions of a number of songs that were later to appear on, for example, Hidden Treasures, The Ways Of Love, and indeed, on Cliff's first album Singer Songwriter, released in 1972. Though I knew about some of his earliest recordings, I'd not actually heard many of them, and certainly many of the tracks here were previously difficult (and expensive) to get hold of, if not impossible.

In his various incarnations, including Cliff Ward and the Cruisers (not to be confused with Dave Berry's Cruisers), Martin Raynor and the Secrets, and Simon's Secrets, Cliff's early studio work demonstrates he had rather more talent to offer than many who nevertheless went on to enjoy equal or greater success. Fortunately Cliff, with his various musical friends, had regular access to a 'makeshift' recording studio set up in his Kidderminster home by tape enthusiast Leon Tipler, in which they could try out and work on his songs.

Though many of these recordings are naturally of their time, there are clear signs of CTW the wonderful singer-songwriter he was to develop into in the early Seventies. From the start, CD1 tracks 1 and 3 contain examples of the quirky wordplay that became an essential feature of many future CTW songs. Updated versions of Coathanger and The Session Singer (here in demo form), and Sympathy (by Simon's Secrets) later found their way on to the Singer Songwriter album. I also enjoyed some of the 'beat group' tracks, including the credible version of Chuck Berry's No Money Down, the Holly-influenced All That Glitters Is Not Gold, and the off-the-wall anthology title track.

CD1 contains 29 tracks running to 78:37 minutes, and CD2 has 28 tracks that total 77:37. The recordings have been digitally remastered from the best available source material, so the overall sound is very good. The well-produced 16-page booklet, with notes by David Wells (as mentioned above), includes a brief but very interesting account of the CTW recording story prior to Singer Songwriter, and also lists the song credits and all recording details that were available. Additionally, several B & W photos and contemporary publicity items are incorporated in the text.


Very Best Of
Very Best Of

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best of Nat Stuckey's RCA recordings, 12 Feb 2010
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This review is from: Very Best Of (Audio CD)
Perhaps more accurately, this collection contains the best of Nat Stuckey's recordings from his years with RCA Records, as all 16 tracks reached the Billboard Top 40 Country charts between 1968 and 1973. (There were a few others that are not included here.)

Most of us familiar with Nat's recordings will recall his first big hit that kick-started his career, the novelty song Sweet Thang in 1966 on the independent Paula label, after having worked as a DJ in Shreveport for a number of years. Around that same time he found some songwriting success with songs for Ricky Nelson, Ray Price, Jim Ed Brown and Buck Owens. After a couple more hits on Paula Nat signed with RCA, with whom he enjoyed regular if not exactly spectacular chart success until the mid-'70s.

The best tracks in this collection are probably his bigger hits Plastic Saddle, Joe And Mabel's 12th Street Bar & Grill, and Sweet Thang And Cisco, whilst Don't Pay The Ransom has an imaginative if improbable excuse for being out on the tiles too long with a floozie. Tony Joe White's Old Man Willis, the Eddie Cochran B-side Cut Across Shorty, and Tab Hunter's chart-topper Young Love, a duet with lovely Connie Smith, are other decent tracks.

For what it's worth, tracks 5, 7, 9, 11 and 12 are up-tempo, tracks 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 13 and 15 are ballads, and tracks 1, 3 and 14 are, er, 'funky'. Then there's the mid-tempo duet on track 16, so there's a bit of variety.

Some of Nashville's top session men from the time provide the backings, with some nice pedal steel guitar from Hal Rugg and Lloyd Green, particularly on the ballads, with the Jordanaires on vocal accompaniment. I do like these ballads, which gave Nat much of his success, but they can seem just a bit, er, samey, all the same.

There is one thing that hadn't occurred to me all those years ago, (or if it did, I'd forgotten!) and that's just how much Nat sometimes sounds like a young Waylon Jennings. Take Time To Love Her and Got Leaving On Her Mind are good examples of this.

This is a very good collection of 16 tracks which run to just over 41 minutes. The 4-page booklet includes a brief summary of Nat's career, and details of the musicians, songwriter credits and recording dates.

Sadly, Nat died in 1988 aged just 54.


Runaway: The Very Best Of Del Shannon
Runaway: The Very Best Of Del Shannon

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good tribute collection of Del Shannon's hits and more..., 11 Feb 2010
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It's so good to see this collection of Del Shannon's best-known recordings released to coincide with the 20th anniversary of his tragic death on 8 February 1990.

Like Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison, and unlike Elvis and Ricky Nelson, Del came to Britain to tour whilst at the height of his popularity, deservedly gaining a long-term fanbase over here.

All of Del's 14 UK chart hits are included, six of which made the coveted Top 5, including his wonderful two-minutes-20 epic Runaway, which of course topped the charts in 1961. I well remember the impact this minor key all-time classic, with co-composer Max D Crook's ace musitron solo, had on my generation of music fans way back then. Del composed 7 of those hit songs himself, and co-wrote another 5 - not the norm back then. The other two hits were his 1964 revival of Jimmy Jones's Handy Man, and The Swiss Maid, written by a then-unknown Roger Miller.

Like Roy Orbison, Del had a very distinctive voice, though whereas The BIg O's voice could just soar up the register, Del would slip into falsetto to great effect on such memorable Sixties-era songs as Hats Off To Larry, Little Town Flirt and Two Kinds Of Teardrops.

We also have for interest his earlier (and it must be said, inferior) version of Doc Pomus/ Mort Shuman's His Latest Flame, later a huge hit for Elvis, and a credible cover of The Beatles' From Me To You (one of their first American covers). There's also a reworking of Del's own I Go To Pieces, which later provided Peter and Gordon with a worldwide hit, and his Stranger In Town which owes much to one Phil Spector for its arrangement. He had an ear for a good song as evidenced by other covers here, including The Zombies' Tell Her No, Bobby Freeman's hit Do You Wanna Dance?, Chris Farlowe's Out Of Time, and the great Phil Phillips classic Sea Of Love. Del's versions of the latter two, which were produced by Tom Petty, are different, even worthy, but in my view the originals are just untouchable. The Dave Edmunds-produced And The Music Played On is another track well worth its place.

Runaway '67 is an interesting reworking, recorded in London with Andrew Loog Oldham, and another excellent track is Walk Away, written by 'Wilburys' Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty. After the sudden death of Roy Orbison from a heart attack in December 1988, just 2 months after the release of The Traveling Wilburys Volume 1, a number of names, including in particular Del Shannon and Carl Perkins (a hero of George Harrison's), were rumoured as possible replacements, but I seem to recall from somewhere that the other Wilburys never seriously considered trying to fill the Big O's shoes. Well, how could they? But Del would have been the best possible choice.

In my view this is a very good collection of Del Shannon's very best material, and a worthy tribute to an exceptionally talented singer and songwriter. More is the tragedy that he was so troubled that he took his own life. There are many collections of Del's best-known songs, and perhaps it's the inclusion of the last 8 tracks that makes this one stand out from the rest.


Michael Rosen's A-Z: The best children's poetry from Agard to Zephaniah
Michael Rosen's A-Z: The best children's poetry from Agard to Zephaniah
by Michael Rosen
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poems to unpack, take out and enjoy., 24 Dec 2009
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I saw this book a few days ago and picked up a copy for my young grand-daughter who seems to just love the sound and rhythm of words that are put in the right order.

For his latest anthology Michael Rosen, our Children's Laureate from 2007-2009, has collected 127 poems for children from 61 poets that are 'rich with the many cultures, voices and sounds of the most exciting performance poets in Britain today.' In his short introduction, Michael encourages his readers to take a poem and 'see what it sounds like when you say it', or to ask someone else to say it, or to have a go at saying it together with others, or swaying to and fro to the rhythm of it - because poems don't just live in our brains, they live in our bodies.

Presented alphabetically, all except two poets contribute two poems each. There's just one from Allan Ahlberg - though it's 7 pages long!- and there are two from Michael, with a further six he's come up with for the letters of the alphabet for which he couldn't find a poet! One of them is for the reader to complete.

Several of these poets are new to me, though there are some well-known names too: Jenny Joseph, Roger McGough, Carol Ann Duffy, and Adrian Mitchell, who sadly died as the book was being collated, to name but a few.

Most of the poems are from the Noughties (sounds about right for some children, I know), with many of them being very new. On the other hand, some are over 20 years old, but there aren't any of those really familiar children's poems normally found in popular anthologies. The collection is diverse to say the least: funny, haunting, sad, serious and silly, and many other descriptions you might think of.

Here are just two examples. From Brian Moses's poem Spider-swallowing we learn that 'everyone swallows at least eight spiders in one lifetime!'. Well, there you go. Furthermore, Michael Rosen himself, in The Difference, reveals to the uninitiated amongst us that what a hotel in Glasgow knows as 'soap' is in fact known as a 'skincare bar' in Edinburgh. I'm not sure whether the respective tariffs reflect this mattter.

Go on, take a risk. Children will find it's a good read, and may say so, out loud.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 19, 2012 8:55 AM GMT


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