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Mr. W. J. Griffiths "greenjim" (UK)
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Made In The Dark
Made In The Dark
Offered by iAlpha Technologies
Price: £5.61

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Aren't We Cool, 20 Mar 2011
This review is from: Made In The Dark (Audio CD)
To my ears Hot Chip just sound a bit pleased with themselves. The tunes are all big and bouncy and the technology is impressive, but the over-riding impression is of bunch of slightly smug, preening indie-dance merchants who know they are hot property and are willing to do whatever it takes to remain so - all boxes nicely ticked.


Band On The Run
Band On The Run
Price: £18.11

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great album -but where's Denny?, 13 Feb 2011
This review is from: Band On The Run (Audio CD)
I've nothing to add to what's already been said about this album quality-wise. It's a great piece of work, very much of its time but still relevant today.

What's becoming harder and harder to stomach as the years go by is McCartney's steadfast refusal to involve Denny Laine in his re-issue/relentless self-promotion campaign. He was all but ignored on Wingspan and now we have another product in which his input is played down to the point of being completely erased.

Band On The Run's success owes a lot to Denny -his harmonies are all over the album like a rash, he sings lead vocals on one track, and wrote another song (No Words - one of the strongest tracks on the record) himself. He's as integral a part of the story as Linda, and yet unlike Linda he is alive and able to contribute. It's about time Macca buried the hatchet and stopped being so bloody petty.


Bill Bruford: The Autobiography: Yes, King Crimson, Earthworks and More
Bill Bruford: The Autobiography: Yes, King Crimson, Earthworks and More
by Bill Bruford
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.97

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's Only Rock'n'Roll (and Jazz), Bill, 2 Dec 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a very interesting and enjoyable book, although it could probably have done with a bit of editing. Some of it is a little bogged down in grafted-on cultural theory taken from such (undoubtedly fascinating) authors as Simon Frith. The result is something that hovers a little awkwardly between personal biography and extended academic essay, but fortunately Bill is a fine writer and the prose itself is always accomplished.

What is notable about this book is the insight it gives you into how musicians of a certain creative bent can end up barking up some slightly unhealthy trees when it comes to their career. Rather than seeing his music making as an intrinsically enjoyable thing, which existed to bring pleasure to audiences the world over, it seems that Bill Bruford's main priority was to involve himself in a forty year struggle to gain entry into an exclusive fraternity of drum virtuosi, and to be perceived by his immediate peers as having significantly evolved the art of jazz percussion. While such high and mighty ideals are undoubtedly laudable, it seems odd to me that such an ambition could become so compelling and obsessive that a musician would end up racked with career-crippling self-doubt, and in fact end up taking early retirement.

Bill seemed to spend most of his working life worrying about how and to what extent he would come to be perceived as a virtuoso and an innovator, while presumably still being aware that 99% of the world's music loving population actually don't give two hoots about that and just want to hear some music that will move them or brighten up their evening.

He did indeed create some wonderful music and did some great drumming over the years, but in many ways it's a pity that he had to take it (and himself) so damn seriously. There are lots of musicians and drummers out there who are less focussed on themselves and mastery of their instrument, more focussed on simply enjoying being part of a band. Consequently they are still happy, working musicians, whereas, sad to say, Bill is not. If taking the route that he chose to take - the pursuit of obsessive instrumental prowess, the endless self-defeating quest to remain innovative and cutting edge- was only destined to lead him to throw his sticks away in despair, you have to ask yourself the question, "What is all worth it?"

A highly interesting and significant autobiography.


Syd Barrett: A Very Irregular Head
Syd Barrett: A Very Irregular Head
by Rob Chapman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vastly impressive, yet puzzling, 30 Jun 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
If you're going to read any biography of Syd Barrett, this is the one to go for. The author treates his subject with immense compassion and sensitivity, something which has been somewhat lacking in previous Barrett books which tended to be very speculative and sensationalist.

The book does throw up some questions however; it's obvious that Chapman interviewed Syd's sister Rosemary for her memories of the brother, and this makes for some truly fascinating and poignant passages, particularly her description of Syd's somewhat distressed and "hectic" return to Cambridge, on foot, in 1982.

The impression given is that Syd lived a life of near-enough complete solitude in London from 1974 until 1982, before hitting some kind of emotional brick wall and finally returning to his mother's house. However, this does not square with several other accounts I've read of Syd's life, in which he actually returned to Cambridge for a spell in 1978, and then again in 1981. In fact, there are photographs of him taken there in both years (you can see both pics in Mike Watkinson and Pete Anderson's book 'Syd Barrett and the Dawn of Pink Floyd').

An interesting inconsistency then - obviously Rosemary must know the truth of the matter better than anyone, and yet there is photographic evidence of her brother's two prior returns to his home town and the Barrett family nest before the final '82 homecoming.

I guess it's all just part and parcel of the unfathomable mystery of Syd.


Doctor Who - Series 5, Volume 1 [DVD]
Doctor Who - Series 5, Volume 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Matt Smith
Offered by produXa UK
Price: £3.58

9 of 53 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointed, 11 April 2010
I'm reviewing this season purely on the strength of the first 2 episodes; if things pick up for episode 3 then stay consistent, I'll check back in and delete this review.

Put simply, I am very disappointed. I've never been a fan of the BBC Wales series, but it was clear that Moffat was the best writer on the show, and I was looking forward to seeing how the programme developed with him as show-runner.

To all those people who are already lavishing 5 star reviews on the episodes that have been broadcast so far, I can only conclude that they are incapable of any degree of objectivity. The series has been completely castrated on a dramatic level - there is no threat, no suspense, no raising of stakes, just relentless, contrived, story-less mulch. Matt Smith is doing his best (I prefer him to Tennant, but then Tennant was my least favourite Doctor ever so that's not saying much), but he's been poorly served so far.

At the moment I am showing my five year old son season 13 of the old show. He watches most of it from behind the sofa and it's firing his imagination incredibly. He sat staring blankly at the first two episodes of this new season and kept asking me when it was going to get scary. AFter a while it dawned on me that it wasn't going to, so I stopped telling him to wait and see.

Seriously folks, go and dig out your old VHS of Seeds of Doom, watch it then come back to this drivel. Hopefully your vision will snap into focus and you'll get a better handle on reality.
Comment Comments (24) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 14, 2010 10:28 PM GMT


Acolyte
Acolyte
Offered by mrtopseller
Price: £3.00

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars watery white common-room electronica, 5 Feb 2010
This review is from: Acolyte (Audio CD)
I've been listening to a lot of very blistering music recently (Husker Du, Outkast mainly) so coming to this album was a bit like eating a cold egg and tomato salad after a week tucking into a succession of hot, flavoursome dishes.

It's all quite competently done; in fact, the synth arrangements are really quite clever in places. But the vocalist (I won't say singer) has one of those annoyingly weedy indie voices which sounds like it should be discussing homework over the telephone with a friend. There are no proper bass-lines to speak of, and lap-top drums clatter harmlessly along as the largely forgettable songs do their best to billow and bluster.
How anyone can compare this to New Order is beyond me; it's middling indie-pop fare with a slick producer/engineer at the controls.
To anyone thinking of shelling out on the strength of the various 4 and 5 star reviews on this site, do yourself a favour and Spotify it first as I've just done. If you still fancy a bit of tomato and cold egg after that, fair enough, place your one-click order. Myself, I'll do what the chorus of the final song 'Remain' advises and "wait for something better."


East Side Story
East Side Story
Price: £9.10

5.0 out of 5 stars Criminally overlooked, 3 Feb 2010
This review is from: East Side Story (Audio CD)
For my money Chris Difford is one of the best, if not the best pop/rock lyricist of all time. Better than Ray Davies. Better than Bob Dylan. You can read his lyrics off the page the way you can a Philip Larkin poem. Why is he so overlooked when people compile their lists of great songwriters?

East Side Story contains some of his most priceless couplets, my favourite being from the song 'Heaven': "The beer mats are wading in a table of froth; the bar girl is serving with a checked drying cloth."
I mean, come on how brilliant is that - a bar girl serving with a checked drying cloth! Can't you just see her in your mind immediately? That's what I call genius.
The other immortal lyric is the opening to Tempted, in which we're given the image of "the church and the steeple, the laundry on the hill." The laundry on the hill! He's done it again! I bow down to you sir.

Of course, the melodies are sublime as well, courtesy of the ever fertile and inventive Glenn Tilbrook.

This album is one of the most accomplished and perfectly realised albums of the 1980's and belongs in the collection of anyone who loves quirky, quality British songwriting in the great Kinks-ian tradition.


Two Dancers
Two Dancers
Price: £7.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very pretty, where to next?, 5 Jan 2010
This review is from: Two Dancers (Audio CD)
I thought Limbo Panto was a highly promising debut, albeit one that was slightly marred by its attempt to be self-consciously different and "out there". My feeling was the band needed possibly to tone down some of its natural flamboyance and bombast if they were to achieve more widespread appeal; listening to this, their second album, it strikes me that this is precisely what they have done. The only thing is, I'm not at all sure it's done them the world of good artistically. Seems I'm never happy.

Don't get me wrong, this is a finely crafted, beautiful sounding album, full of chiming guitars (more and and more Edge-like as the album progresses), swooping vocals and attractive melodies. The lyrics border on the frustratingly oqaque, being in the main impressionistic cut-ups rather than any serious attempt at narrative story-telling. It's all very nice and pleasant........but I'm left wondering if perhaps that's ALL it is. The Beasts are still very much ploughing their own furrow but sonically they don't seem that keen to make too many waves in your afternoon - do those chiming guitars sometimes get a bit monotonous, I ask myself? Is there a slightly regrettable absence of more abrasive textures, of the odd jarring moment or two, of the occasional cathartic onslaught?

This year I put this album on while decorating my Christmas tree. Normally I go for something like Sinatra, or maybe early Beatles. Something quite safe and cosy, something familiar. I found that Two Dancers hit the spot just perfectly - slipped down very nicely with a sweet glass of Baileys and a mince pie.

A musical Aladdin's cave full of pretty fairy lights - is this all Wild Beasts are aspiring to be, or come third album, will they pull a new trick out of their bags and introduce a little danger into our living rooms? I'd be intrigued to see how they would soundtrack my Halloween.
Guess we'll have to wait and see.


Hombre Lobo
Hombre Lobo
Price: £7.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars great songs, where's the band?, 5 Jan 2010
This review is from: Hombre Lobo (Audio CD)
Bit of a frustrating one this. The songs are as up to the usual Eels standard, and I like the way the slow, ruminative tracks alternate with the harder, rockier numbers.
The thing that holds the record back though is the (apparent) absence of a live band, particulary on the heavier songs. It seems that E has succumbed to the same temptation that has, in the past, preyed on other genius auteur singer-songwriters (think Paddy McAloon on Prefab Sprout's latest, or even Jeff Lynne on the faux ELO album 'Zoom') - that is he's suddenly decided that he can do it all himself and still have it come out as good. Unfortunately, that's not the case

Previous Eels records have always had a live band ambience at their core, and this proved particularly successful on the harder rocking entries in their catalogue (eg Souljacker). E has clearly underestimated the power and feel that a live drummer can bring to the table, and many of the songs on this new opus sound like they've been layered on top of quantised drum-loops. It robs them of their earthiness.

The previews of the new, up and coming Eels record suggest that we should expect more of the same, which I for one am sorry about. Let's hope E shakes off his solitary mood soon and gets rocking with the boys again.


Doctor Who - Winter Specials 2009 - Waters of Mars and The End of Time [DVD]
Doctor Who - Winter Specials 2009 - Waters of Mars and The End of Time [DVD]
Dvd ~ David Tennant
Price: £14.76

26 of 79 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What? What?! WHAT?!?!, 4 Jan 2010
I am dumbfounded at the number of 4 and 5 star reviews for this final travesty of an episode. Words fail me. Even if you happened to enjoy the bombastic (as ever) music, the long-drawn out, Hollywood style ending (I'm not sure what was more flogged to death this festive season, the final episode of Celebrity Come Dancing or Doctor Who) or the shouty techno-babble used to explain why the Time Lords were (surprise surprise) not dead after all, the list of ludicrous inconsistencies in this story would surely only go unnoticed by people who had willingly left their brains at the door.

For example: How is is that the Doctor was able to fall from the sky, through a glass roof and land on a marble floor without being slightly injured? Is he Superman now? Given that we had been told a million times that Donna's mind would melt if she ever remembered her time with the Doctor, why (oh why) did this conspicuously fail to happen when she did? How is it that the planet Gallifrey is able to virtually brush cheeks with Earth without the Earth experiencing cataclysmic damage? Possibly for the same reason that in another RTD 'special', The TARDIS dragged the Earth halfway across the universe while somehow the moon managed to stay in its orbit?
I mean, I could go on but to be honest I'm not really sure I can be bothered.

As usual in a Davies episode, internal logic, story and plot development and genuine drama were all forgotten about in order to create sheer banal spectacle. But he really surpassed himself this time, winding up the episode proper way early in order to drag out a tedious, threatless, hugely sentimental epilogue that reduced the concept of regeneration to just another item on the Doctor's list of 'things to do'. Additionally, Davies totally messed up and destroyed the whole concept of regeneration by stressing over and over again that the Doctor actually dies and comes back as a completely different person (with the memories of the old person). We've all seen regeneration happen enough times to know this simply isn't true - the Doctor changes his appearance and certain aspects of his personality during regeneration, but he's STILL THE SAME PERSON. Why else was Tennant able to talk to Saran Jane in 'School Reunion' about HIS reasons for dumping her after Hand Of Fear?

I have never been a fan of RTD's version of Who (although one or two episodes, written by other writers have been OK. In the past I've just shrugged and accepted that this show is no longer, in the main, being written for a discerning and intelligent sci-fi/fantasy/adventure audience but for a nation of soap and game show-addled cretins. But this final installment was genuinely shocking in its sheer torrential, all-encompassing AWFULNESS.

Come ON, people, what are you on??
Comment Comments (17) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 19, 2010 4:48 PM GMT


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