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Wooltonian (Liverpool)

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Garmin Nuvi 55LMT 5 inch Sat Nav with UK and Western Europe Maps and Traffic - Black
Garmin Nuvi 55LMT 5 inch Sat Nav with UK and Western Europe Maps and Traffic - Black

4.0 out of 5 stars Good basic sat-nav -- disappointing traffic information, 26 Jan. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I purchased the Garmin Nuvi 55 LMT to replace my old Garmin model which I bought in 2012. The new model is significantly better in a number of respects:

- No irritating 'warm up' time required. As soon as you switch it on it's ready for use.
- Touch screen is more responsive and consistent
- Voice instructions are clearer and with better pronunciation
- It calculates routes far more quickly. Even long trips take a matter of a few seconds.

All in all, the 55 LMT is a solid, all-round package with good quality mapping and strong functionality.The only thing that lets it down is the erratic and variable quality of its traffic updates. Having done a number of long trips in heavy traffic, I have found it slow to warn you of congestion ahead. When it does alert you to problems the information is patchy and tends to chop and change. This is a shame, because with the correct information it can cleverly amend your ETA to allow for traffic delays and is very good at route recalculation. However, thusfar I have found the overhead display boards on motorways to be a more reliable source of information about trouble ahead!

Overall, though, and ignoring the odd traffic glitch (for which one star deducted!), a really good sat-nav...and a real bargain if you can get it for its current price of under £100.


Progeny: Highlights From Seventy-Two
Progeny: Highlights From Seventy-Two
Price: £14.00

13 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Oh my god.....this is terrible!!!, 28 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
First of all, let me state that I have been a massive Yes fan since 1977 and have seen them umpteen times in concert over the years. I have just sat through the first disc of the two-disc Progeny 'highlights' set and it is absolutely awful, dreadful.....words fail me! I just had to run upstairs and write this Amazon review to STOP people wasting their money on this release. The reason? The sound is horrible....absolutely rank. For starters it's really quiet, so you have to turn the volume up on your system in order not to listen to a pitiful whimper. Once you do this, you realise there are absolutely no dynamics, no balls, no edginess to the sound. It is just muddy, vanilla, bland and useless.

Even worse is knowing that the whole thing could be amazing, because the music is brilliant. But it isn't. Amazon reviewers, take those Yes-tinted glasses off and describe this product for what it is...a sonic mess and a complete waste of time that should have stayed as a bunch of old tapes, shoved away in a box somewhere. I remember taping Yes at Wembley off the first Tommy Vance BBC Friday Rock Show back in 1978, and even on my old Toshiba music centre it sounded a million times better than this. This is a waste of time -- don't bother.
Comment Comments (39) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 18, 2016 5:06 PM GMT


QED Reference XT40 Award Winning Speaker Cable - per metre. Unterminated.
QED Reference XT40 Award Winning Speaker Cable - per metre. Unterminated.
Offered by A1 Sound Hi-fi and AV store
Price: £10.00

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good quality, well-balanced all-rounder..., 16 April 2015
I Bought the QED XT40 to replace my trusty old QED Silver Anniversary cable. The QED Silver Anniversary is a real 'box of tricks' -- very edgy, expressive and dynamic with a slightly lean, but taut bass. Its only real weak spot, and the reason I wanted a change, is that it has a tendency to over-emphasise certain treble frequencies, producing too much sibilance on vocals, with percussion sounds (cymbals, hi-hats etc.) often sounding too forward and sharp.

The QED XT40, by contrast, is a touch smoother, with a slightly flatter presentation, but is altogether better balanced. Bass is musical and has good weight and the treble is natural, consistent and less fatiguing than the Silver Anniversary. Overall, I think the XT40 gets the balance spot on, producing plenty of 'excitement' but without excessive brightness. I would definitely recommend this cable to anyone looking for an upgrade from an entry-level cable. Just remember, though, the XT40 needs time to 'burn in' and produce its best. I found the treble a bit variable during the first 30-40 hours and the bass keeps improving beyond that, so be patient!


Audioquest Tower 0.6m RCA Interconnects (Pair)
Audioquest Tower 0.6m RCA Interconnects (Pair)
Offered by AudioVisual Online
Price: £17.50

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good quality, entry-level interconnect -- recommended., 12 April 2015
Audioquest Tower is a good quality, inexpensive, entry-level interconnect, which I actually prefer to a couple of more expensive interconnects which I've recently tried out. The Tower provides a brighter, punchier sound and more controlled bass than the freebie interconnect that comes with your amplifier. However, it is a touch smoother than two 'What Hi-fi recommended' interconnects that I've tried (Atlas Element Intergra and Wireworld Luna 7) both of which are great for detail, but too bright and 'toppy' for my system. For me, Audioquest Tower gets the detail / tonal balance spot on and is the perfect match for my hi-fi set-up.


D'Addario EJ10 80/20 Bronze Extra Light  (.010-.047) Acoustic Guitar Strings
D'Addario EJ10 80/20 Bronze Extra Light (.010-.047) Acoustic Guitar Strings
Price: £5.90

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very light gague strings, but good sound..., 18 Sept. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I tend to go for light acoustic guitar strings and was worried that these D'Addarios might be just a little bit too light. Having fitted them and let them bed in for a couple of days, my concerns were unfounded. The strings play really nicely and have a good tone. Obviously they don't have the big, room-filling sound of heavier strings, but I think they are still a good compromise between ease of playing and tonal quality. Being D'Addario strings they are manufactured to a good standard and have a high-end feel. Will be buying the same again next time round. Recommended.


The Complete Columbia Albums Collection
The Complete Columbia Albums Collection
Price: £58.15

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great introduction to a formidable band..., 18 Nov. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have to admit, although I like my prog rock, I never really regarded myself as a Mahavishnu fan. I bought 'Inner mounting flame' some thirty years ago from a second-hand record shop in Bristol and enjoyed a couple of the more accessible tracks ('Dawn' and 'You know, you know') but didn't really bother with the rest of the album. I thought it was bit cold, technical and lacking in melody. However, somewhere at the back of my mind I always felt I never gave Mahavishnu a fair shake, so with an immeasurably better stereo system and our subsequent advance into the digital age, I thought I would give the band another try with this not-too-daunting limited box set from their classic 1971-73 line up. I'm really glad I made the effort.

Mahavishnu Orchestra's music is intense and demanding and is certainly an acquired taste. Their style is harsh, austere, angular, strident, bombastic and a bit bonkers. However, once your ears start to become attuned to the thunder and the fury you start to discern little ribbons of melody and clever rhythmic patterns running under the surface. Coherent tunes start to present themselves, albeit not in an obvious, orthodox fashion, and the whole piece slowly starts to come together. The three studio albums are formidable and compelling. The synergy and interplay between the musicians is spell-binding and the music has a visceral, exuberant quality. Your ear is constantly drawn to the stunning individual performances on offer...McGlaughlin's splenetic, freewheeling guitar, the torrent of noise from that insane violin, Hammer's moody, agile keyboard-work knitting everything together. Billy Cobham's drumming is stunning and worth the price of admission alone. It's not all bile and thunder, though. The light and shade in the performances, the quieter, reflective passages, the subtler, almost pretty interludes provide amazing contrast to the main barn-storming event. What a pity this line up only recorded three studio albums. I'm less convinced about the two live CDs. The recording is less pin-sharp and the performances are inevitably less concise and more drawn out and indulgent.

Just a quick word about the sound on these remasters. In a word, excellent. 'Birds of fire' and 'The lost Trident sessions' are mastered very slightly on the bright side, which I really like, given the denseness and complexity of the performances. 'Inner mounting flame' is slightly warmer with a bit less top-end, but the sound is still perfectly adequate.

All things considered, this is a great box set and at such a reasonable price my advice would be take a bit of a risk, be prepared to put in a bit of time and effort and you may well be rewarded.


Garmin nuvi 2440 5" Sat Nav with UK and Western Europe Maps
Garmin nuvi 2440 5" Sat Nav with UK and Western Europe Maps

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good basic sat-nav despite a few shortcomings..., 30 Mar. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Garmin 2440 is a well-made unit, using generally reliable (although not infallible) Garmin mapping. However, regular usage has revealed a few minor, but irritating, drawbacks.

Pros

Large, 5" screen with clear, up-to-date Garmin mapping
Great value-for-money for a large screen sat-nav
Purchase price includes latest mapping revision from Garmin's official website
Useful speed-limit display
Over time, it calculates the estimated time of arrival based on your usual driving speeds

Cons

The spoken route instructions are of variable quality. The sound is slightly garbled and some of the road and place-name mispronunciations are hilarious! Overall, it's not really worth having verbal instructions if they are so inaccurate.

The 'split screen' innovation, a feature which appears whenever you exit a major road or motorway, could be more useful and the idea really needs further development. At the moment it just shows a still, generic picture of an exit lane with a pink arrow showing that you should come off. Frustratingly, where there are two or more exit lanes which lead off in different directions it doesn't show you which lane you need to get into. Exit lane guidance is a good idea, but the feature needs more detail and preferably a moving picture of some sort rather than a rather nondescript still image.

There is an annoying variation in volume depending on whether the unit is plugged into the car battery or running off its own battery. When the internal battery runs down and you have to plug into the car battery the jump up in volume is deafening. You then have to fiddle with the volume control whilst driving in order to sort out the racket. My last Garmin suffered with a similar problem but to nowhere near the same extent. Surely Garmin should have fixed this anomaly by now!

For longer trips, the unit often takes up to two minutes to calculate the route. This is significantly longer than my previous Garmin. Route re-calculations take similarly longer.

Disappointing battery life. This is probably due to the larger screen requiring more power. Reducing the brightness of the screen mitigates this to some extent, but for normal use, battery life is rarely much better than between two and two-and-a-half hours.

The speed limit display is often wrong. Speed limit advice is a really useful feature, given the increasingly variable speed limits on Britain's roads. However, the speed limit information is not always correct, especially on old A-routes! There is a facility to insert the correct speed and save it to the database, but this needs to be done 'real time' and therefore requires inputting whilst driving, which is not always a great idea.

Overall, the Garmin 2440 is a bit of a mixed bag. The important basics (screen size, build quality, mapping and value for money) are spot on, but the unit is let down by some fairly minor, but annoying niggles. Hopefully, future versions will rectify these issues. In the meantime I would still recommend the 2440, especially if priced at under £100.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 17, 2013 1:24 PM BST


Tales from Topographic Oceans
Tales from Topographic Oceans
Price: £7.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Out into the deep, blue yonder..., 19 Aug. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
In releasing 'Tales from topographic oceans' as a lavish, sprawling, four track double album at the height of their popularity in 1973, Yes took a deliberate, calculated risk. Was releasing a double album of such scale and breadth really the next logical step in Yes' musical development? Would the Yes public accept such an epic, grandiose musical statement? In truth, the outcome was only partially successful and in its creation the album over-stretched the band's musical resources and drained group morale. 'Tales from topographic oceans' is, in fact, a bit of a mixed bag - wonderful passages of music and sublime melodies sit alongside more mundane, mediocre fare and half-baked experimental material. Overall, it isn't the flawless prog masterwork that some people claim, but neither is it the worthless folly that others portray.

A brief track-by track appraisal is probably the best way of conveying the album's overall strengths and weaknesses.

1. 'The revealing science of God': A fine opener and probably the album's strongest suit. The 2004 re-mastered version has inherited an entirely pointless two-minute introduction consisting of nondescript, ambient sound (ironic, since the album has often been criticised for having 'too much padding'), but no matter, the track itself is an impressive blend of melody, bombast, whimsy and emotion, produced and arranged with sublime skill. The tunes are great and the constant changes in mood and tempo fuse the twenty-minute piece into an uplifting, coherent whole. In truth, it follows the same basic template as the much-lauded title track from 'Close to the edge' and matches it more or less in all departments.

2. 'The Remembering': Hampered by a low-key and rather pedestrian opening half. It could be argued that after the intensity of the preceding track the change of pace is a necessary contrast, but the opening section of 'The Remembering' is lacklustre by Yes' standards and sounds rather laboured. By contrast, the final half of the track kicks into gear and builds to a rousing finale. Overall, not bad, if rather uneven.

3. 'The Ancient': An unsuccessful attempt at a more loose, experimental type of composition. The track lacks Yes' customary sense of melody and sounds 'thrown together' and contrived. Although an audacious failure, it nonetheless served as a blueprint for the far superior 'Sound chaser' from the following album, 'Relayer' (1974). 'The Ancient' closes with a nice classical guitar composition from Howe and a pleasant, folksy Anderson song, although what the connection of these short pieces is to the main bulk of the track is anybody's guess.

4. 'Ritual': Almost the reverse of 'The remembering', 'Ritual' starts strongly, propelled by Squire's bass and Howe's incisive guitar work, laying the ground for a couple of great Anderson songs. Unfortunately the track runs aground about two-thirds of the way through, making way for an entirely pointless percussion solo, which lasts a full three minutes. This may have gone down a blast in concert with a half-decent light show and some dry ice, but it destroys the continuity of the studio track, which never regains its momentum. A subsequent reprise of the side's main theme feels like a disconnected afterthought and the album's climax fails to match that of either of the first two tracks. A strange, slightly disappointing finale, which in the context of providing a satisfying conclusion to the album doesn't quite deliver.

I suppose how you come to regard 'Tales from topographic oceans' really depends upon whether you see it as the ultimate, iconic achievement of the progressive rock era and embrace its eccentricities and extravagances as part of that ideal, or whether you judge the album purely on its merits as just another Yes album. From the former perspective, 'Tales from topographic oceans' is an untouchable masterpiece and the definitive 'prog rock' statement - inspired, indulgent, technically brilliant and slightly bonkers. From the latter viewpoint, the album's unevenness in quality will always frustrate and tends to mark it down against other more coherent classic Yes albums, such as 'Close to the Edge', 'Fragile' and 'Relayer'.

'Tales from topographic oceans' was also a divisive album in terms of the band dynamic. Its 'concept' really amounts to a personal Jon Anderson manifesto, promoting his favourite themes of individual and communal spirituality, with Steve Howe acting as his main musical accomplice and foil. Rick Wakeman appears to have had little input into the creative process and many of his keyboard contributions appear perfunctory and incidental, often amounting to little more than sterile washes of synth and mellotron, or minor embellishments that add little to the overall sound. Having said that, Wakeman stuck to his task and put a commendable shift in during recording sessions that he clearly had little enthusiasm for. However, such lack of unity was to the detriment of the album and prevented the band really pulling together and delivering the cohesive, seminal work they were striving for.

Ultimately, it's not the religious or spiritual concept that really holds this album together, it's the music. Some of Anderson's melodies are sublime and his lyrics, love them or hate them, were never better. Howe's guitar work, although not his most exuberant, is immensely varied and technically brilliant. Squire's bass is unsurprisingly excellent, particularly prominent on the final track, and White's drumming adds much-needed energy and vigour to an album that occasionally struggles to maintain intensity and vitality. A double album was almost certainly a bridge too far, but recorded at the height of the band's creative powers and progressive ideals they almost....almost pulled it off.


Tormato
Tormato
Price: £3.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable despite its shortcomings..., 16 July 2012
This review is from: Tormato (Audio CD)
I have a huge soft spot for 'Tormato' (1978) and as a time-served fan of Yes, this is one of their albums that I still come back to on a fairly regular basis. However, it was recorded during a difficult period in the life of the band and reflects many of their internal problems and uncertainties at the time. The album received generally luke-warm reviews from critics and fans alike on its release and has come to be regarded as an inferior sequel to the previous year's much-lauded 'Going for the one'. The shadows were beginning to lengthen over Yes' classic seventies line-up, but they still had just enough inspiration and unity of purpose to make 'Tormato' an interesting and, for the most part, enjoyable album.

First of all, lets get all the bad stuff about 'Tormato' out of the way:

- The sleeve is a disaster. One can only presume that designers, Hipgnosis, couldn't make head nor tail of the brief they were given by the band (i.e. design a cover incorporating an interesting rock formation!) and cooked up the lamest, most nondescript excuse for a sleeve design imaginable. The splattered tomato which adorns it is a failed attempt at a joke which really just compounds the error. An emergency phone call to Roger Dean (speciality: cosmic rock formations) was definitely in order.

- Anderson's lyrics on 'Tormato' are mostly terrible and occasionally cringe-inducing. Having simplified his style on 'Going for the one' to good effect, on 'Tormato' his muse inexplicably deserts him. When he's not indulging in toe-curling whimsy, ('Circus of heaven') he's regurgitating old ideas and catchphrases from previous albums, or trying desperately to be hip and 'with it' (the infamous 'Dig it, dig it' from 'Don't kill the whale' springs instantly to mind, although the album is littered with other examples).

- Wakeman's keyboards sound strangely tinny more or less throughout and lack variety. There is virtually no mellotron, piano or Hammond anywhere on 'Tormato'. When he does abandon the tinny synths it's only to use an equally tinny-sounding harpsichord ('Madrigal').

- Curiously, Howe's guitars often don't seem to fit together with the music. Unusually for the great maestro, many of his guitar parts sound like peripheral after-thoughts that skate around the music rather than bedding into the mix.

- The songs themselves are shorter and don't develop musically and thematically as they do on previous albums. What we have on 'Tormato' is more a collection of individually-written tracks and even the longer, collective band compositions lack the customary flair and creative swagger.

- One other factor, which hampers people's perception of this album is that it was the last release produced by the classic line-up for over two decades. What followed was years of squabbling, acrimony, numerous changes in personnel and attempts to re-invent the band. Seen in retrospect through this prism, it is easy to see 'Tormato' as the terminal, half-baked product of a band in decline - out of sorts with itself and out of step with the musical trends of the time.

In view of this lengthy list of shortcomings and deficiencies, why do I still like 'Tormato'? Basically, the album's one enduring strength is the band's undiminished sense of melody. One can spend a great amount of time picking holes in each of the individual songs, but the tunes are fine. The songs don't necessarily hold together as well as they should and the album lacks cohesion, direction and consistency, but somehow the tunes manage to surpass most of the individual shortcomings and just about bring the album together. In this sense, 'Tormato' very much has to be accepted on its own terms and taken 'with a pinch of salt'. However, there is much here to enjoy if you don't dwell too much on the negatives:

'Future times / rejoice' is a strong opener. Brisk, positive and melodic with a subtle contrast in feel between the track's two halves and some excellent shifting chord patterns in each closing section.

'Madrigal' is a straightforward three-minute song, based around an ornate Wakeman keyboard composition, boasting a simple, pretty melody with some nice classical guitar touches from Howe.

'Release / release' is an engaging rocker, only slightly diminished by corny lyrics and a somewhat contrived middle section containing a drum solo and fake crowd noise.

'Arriving UFO' is a passable attempt at something a bit different for the band. It contains a sci-fi storybook lyric with extra terrestrial sound effects gleefully provided by Wakeman and Howe and tongue-in-cheek alien noises presumably from Anderson. Don't take it too seriously - it's actually quite fun.

'Onward' is a classy and highly affecting ballad. A real high point on the album, it is beautifully arranged and performed by the band and a telling example of how 'short' doesn't necessarily mean 'bad'.

The most serious flaw evident on 'Tormato', and the single feature which the album truly lacks, is a great, epic album closer. In this respect 'On the silent wings of freedom' is the single most frustrating song in the entire Yes canon. True, it is good as it stands, but it could and should have been so much better. Despite a soaring, uplifting melody and a great central theme, somehow the band never realise the song's true potential. In previous years one suspects they would have relished developing the main structure of the song, providing it with a contrasting section and a fitting, climactic ending. However, in its released form it flits around for ideas before being wound up abruptly and coming to a shuddering, unedifying halt. I can't get away from the conclusion that a truly satisfying album closer would have made it easier for fans to accept the shorter, more insubstantial material on the album and appreciate all the songs for what they were. It would also have enabled the album's one true clunker, the abominable and utterly wretched 'Circus of heaven' to have been omitted from the running order and banished to a Jon Anderson solo album of his own choice.

'Tormato' is an album of many flaws and missed opportunites. By 1978, there were internal divisions within the band and the the presence of punk and new wave bore down heavily on morale and confidence. However, Yes' instinctive ability to produce memorable tunes was still intact and this alone is the album's salvation. Aside from this, the album has a heart, an almost child-like honesty and a simplicity that is easy to warm to. Although it lacks the quality, musical scope and invention of previous albums it is nonetheless straightforward and very accessible -- 'Yes-lite', if you will. Look at it in that context, forgive 'Tormato' its many sins and just enjoy it for what it is.


Sonik Kicks
Sonik Kicks
Offered by Squirrelsounds
Price: £8.49

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Listen without prejudice..., 24 Jun. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Sonik Kicks (Audio CD)
Originally, I was going to write a fairly lengthy list of negative things about 'Sonik kicks'. I was going to say how too many of the songs are distinctly average by Weller's standards, how most of the album is grossly over-produced with fussy and unecessary sonic (sorry, soniK) embellishments...tape loops, backwards guitars, voice distortion, jarring echo noise and random sound effects, and how unfocussed it all feels musically with too much dabbling in different styles veering from manic high-speed stomps through reggae-on-valium to mawkish ballads.

Here's the thing, though -- I quite like this album. All of the above reservations are true to a greater or lesser extent, but d'you know what? I don't care. The songs are delivered with such conviction and enjoyment and contain so many unexpected little twists, surprise codas, clever instrumental diversions and musical tangents that it keeps your interest piqued more or less from start to finish. It's not his greatest work and the song quality is uneven and noticeably improves in the middle section of the album, but the songs are interesting, engaging and never over-stay their welcome. Weller obviously had a blast recording it and I have enjoyed the last four weeks listening to it.

At some point I would love Weller to strip it all down again, just plug in his guitar and record something straightforward and direct, but in the meantime this will do very nicely. Put aside your expectations of what Weller should and shouldn't be doing (the one star reviews bear witness to this attitude) and just enjoy it for what it is.


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