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Reviews Written by
GlynLuke (York UK)
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Late Night Final
Late Night Final
Offered by setshop
Price: £7.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Long black trains & lonely nights, 31 Aug. 2015
This review is from: Late Night Final (Audio CD)
Richard Hawley is one of the most treasurable of British singers. That he happens also to be a superb songwriter, creator of musical atmospheres second to none, and a true original is only further cause for mass hurrahs.
Combining the varied musical sensibilities of Roy Orbison, Duane Eddy, and even (as has been noted by others) Jim Reeves among others, Hawley mines a romantic, meditative seam that few others have troubled with. What sets him apart is that there's nothing remotely wishy-washy in his music - he's like the English equivalent of certain Americana artists, but without the overly enigmatic, mannered qualities so often found in such music (for example, the Handsome Family).
The music of Richard Hawley reeks of quality.
Late Night Final was his first full album, but it doesn't sound like a debut at all. Tracks like the lovely Lonely Night, the echo-laden Precious Sight, or the deliciously forlorn Long Black Train, are confident, both as songs and vocal performances.
To come were the glories of Lowedges, Cole's Corner, and the rest. I don't think he's ever made a poor album (though the much-praised Truelove's Gutter sounds a little like 'Hawley does Hawley' to my ears) and I can't wait to buy the new one, any day now...

Beautiful.


A Cock And Bull Story [DVD] [2006]
A Cock And Bull Story [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Steve Coogan
Price: £4.00

4.0 out of 5 stars To begin..., 31 Aug. 2015
...at the beginning? Not really.
Laurence Sterne long ago wrote an astonishingly innovative novel named Tristram Shandy, in which - sorry, you were saying?
I've scanned the one/two-star reviews, and am shocked though, sadly, not surprised that so many have misunderstood so entirely what director/adaptor Winterbottom has tried to do - and mostly succeeded in doing - with this outrageously original film of an unfilmable book. Unfilmable, so he hasn't exactly tried to film it, but rather found a cinematic way to 'represent' the novel Tristram Shandy.
It's a hugely entertaining film, with Coogan at its centre, giving a performance (within a performance?) of some subtlety, with his pal Rob Brydon as a constant voice in his ear, often little more than an irritant (Brydon at times seems surplus to requirements) and a winning cast of the great and good, from a rather wasted Gillian Anderson to Roger Allam, Shirley Henderson to Naomie Harris (both superb, especially Harris) with Keeley Hawes as Mrs Shandy and Jeremy Northam as the film-within-the-film's director.
The apparent randomness of it all reflects the book brilliantly, and I'd suggest this is one of the least predictable, least comfortable of recent British films, from a director who is always finding new ways of saying things on film. He isn't invariably successful - for example, Nine Songs has its longeurs and many moments of bathos - but he's never going to infest screens with a Mamma Mia or a Made In Dagenham, and for that we should be grateful.
It's post-modern-lite, it's got a terrific cast (with only the usually wonderful Dylan Moran seeming too subdued, miscast even) and it's endlessly fascinating, well worth watching more than once or twice.

And now - a blank page:


The Mussel Feast
The Mussel Feast
by Birgit Vanderbeke
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.10

4.0 out of 5 stars The absent father, 30 Aug. 2015
This review is from: The Mussel Feast (Paperback)
Ostensibly a monologue by the unloved, unappreciated, and stubborn daughter of a tyrannical father and his long-suffering wife, as they await his return from an important life-defining interview, this is a novella that becomes both more droll and more tense the longer you read it.
It's grimly, nervously funny in a distinctly Kafkaesque way, with repetition of key words and phrases deftly deployed by Vanderbeke as her fable-like tale becomes ever more incantatory, almost as if a wind-up doll is speaking.
The most vital, potent figure in the whole story, nasty piece of work though he obviously is, turns out to be the absent father, whose tirades, explosive temper, and violent punishments are described again and again by the mouthpiece of this strangely isolated family, which also includes a young son.
It is also of course a kind of allegory about East & West Germany and the lead-up to the fall of the Berlin Wall, though nothing is made too blatant. The final pages are chilling, haunting, and tentatively cathartic...
This would work well (perhaps condensed) as a radio monologue. An unusual book that I'm very glad to have found.


Venus on the Half-Shell (Grandmaster)
Venus on the Half-Shell (Grandmaster)
by Philip José Farmer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars An old Trout, 24 Aug. 2015
Once upon a time, famed American novelist and all-round literary stirrer and naughty boy Kurt Vonnegut wrote some uncategorisable books a few of which (eg. Mother Night, Slaughterhouse 5) mention a fictional SF writer named Kilgore Trout.
Upon a later time, famed American SF roustabout Philip Jose Farmer decided that the fictional Trout - reputed, after all, to have written several unlikely novels - should have at least one real novel to his name.
So, after eventually getting reluctant permission from Vonnegut himself (as we learn from the long introduction by Farmer to this spanking new edtion) he wrote one, and here it is again, with a superb cover (though no better than the cover of my old small format paperback) and under Farmer's name rather than, as before, Kilgore Trout's.
Confused? I would be too.
The rest is hardly history, but it makes for a damn fine scurrilous story, which I heartily recommend anyone who thinks they might be interested to read. It's pretty much exactly as you'd imagine a book by 'Kilgore Trout' to be like - so you have been warned.

Good to have you back, Mr Trout.


INTRODUCING RUBEN GONZALEZ
INTRODUCING RUBEN GONZALEZ
Price: £8.42

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Take me to Cuba!, 22 Aug. 2015
Pure unadulterated joy.
One of the most stunning, impeccable, musically glorious albums ever recorded.
Un grande gracias to all concerned.

Eternally, endlessly recommended.


Thickfreakness
Thickfreakness
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Blueslikehardrain, 22 Aug. 2015
This review is from: Thickfreakness (Audio CD)
TheBlackKeys: theirsecondrecord

Itis

rambunctiousheavyintensekeeningrelentlessgrowlyornerycolossalsweaty
bluesyashellpainedloudasyoulikegruffunignorablecantankeroustimeless

terrific


Her Smoke Rose Up Forever (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
Her Smoke Rose Up Forever (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
by James Tiptree
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars At last...!, 21 Aug. 2015
That this book exists at all is cause for dancing in the streets and spectacular celebrations aboard the spaceships.
Long ago I used to have a few of the old small-format American paperback editions of James Tiptree Jr (b. Alice Sheldon/aka Racoona Sheldon)'s books, but to now find this superb selection in Gollancz's fine SF Masterworks series caused me to utter audible yelps of joy and relief in a certain section of a well-known bookshop.
Descriptions of Tiptree's style or plot outlines are hardly necessary - this is one of the truly essential writers in the SF canon. Eighteen stories, some of them classics, over a generous 500 pages, with two introductions...
Tiptree (1915-87) must have been one hell of a woman, and she's without doubt one hell of a writer too, with plenty to say. Read her stories, and be amazed and beguiled.

A cause for yelping in public places. Buy this book.


One Fearful Yellow Eye
One Fearful Yellow Eye
by John D. MacDonald
Edition: Paperback

2.0 out of 5 stars The mighty fall, 21 Aug. 2015
This review is from: One Fearful Yellow Eye (Paperback)
John D MacDonald is one of America's best ever crime novelists, his brilliance attested to by Stephen King, Carl Hiaasen, Dean Koontz and many others - including me.
Every writer has an off day/week/month, and this was John D's.
It starts off fine, with our tanned Florida-based hero called to Chicago by an old flame who's been widowed by her rich doctor husband, and the relatives are closing in.
Unfortunately, the bulk of the rest of this 300-page novel is often laughably overwritten, stuffed with interminable talk about money - always a turn-off for me - along with a less than riveting plot which becomes almost incomprehensible at times, and the usual sardonic swipes at certain contemporary (mid-sixties in this case) types, though here done in a tired by-rote fashion that fails to convince. There is also at least one scene of sexual violence against women which, in one case (which takes place 'offstage' as it were) is so vile and, to be frank, unnecessary that the most readers by that time will recoil from its sheer nastiness, however implicit.
After its promising start, the book doesn't really pick up until around page 200, when things begin to gain pace, but by then I hardly cared. The denouement strains credulity (eg. those two guys just happening on the scene at exactly the right time...) as does McGee's courtly relationship with frigid Heidi, who naturally blossoms under his 'loving care'...
I will still keep reading this writer (I have dozens of books to go, since the man was absurdly prolific) because I know that at his best he just about was the best. But a warning/suggestion to new readers: please, oh please, don't begin with this below-par effort. You might never pick up another MacDonald, and that would be a shame. I'd recommend starting with either the first Travis McGee novel The Deep Blue Goodbye, or the superb Cape Fear (aka The Executioners) on which were based two films.
Avoid this distasteful, overblown, misogynistic effort.


Stand Up
Stand Up
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A new day yesterday, 20 Aug. 2015
This review is from: Stand Up (Audio CD)
The mighty Tull's second LP, after their excellent debut, is to my mind the finest of their early albums - with the glories of Songs From the Wood & Heavy Horses to come a few years later.
A New Day Yesterday fades in and proves a memorable opener, followed by one of Ian Anderson's superb Jeffrey songs.
Back to the Family is a standout track, though a highlight not only of this album but of Tull's career is the beautiful Look Into the Sun, a lovely slower song with well crafted lyrics by IA, no mean songwriter, as has been obvious from the beginning of Tull's long lifetime (47 years and counting).
The wonderful We Used to Know, the insinuating Fat Man, and the sweeping Reasons for Waiting (a great song) are superb tracks too, as are the four extras included on this typically excellent remastered edition - with the usual booklet notes by the ever hands-on IA - in particular two of their very best singles, the classic Living in the Past and the less famous but no less classic Sweet Dream, a song I loved back in 1969 and still do.
J Tull followed this exceptionally good rock LP with the equally exceptional Benefit - and the rest is history, accompanied by a dancing flautist with one leg cockily raised and a wicked gleam in his eye...

Sweet dreams.


Magic Potion
Magic Potion
Price: £6.49

5.0 out of 5 stars A little heat, 19 Aug. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Magic Potion (Audio CD)
This was the first Black Keys I'd heard (thanks, Micah) and it still sounds like one of the best contemporary blues-rock records, if not up there with the finest blues albums of the last fifty years. I'll go further: the best of its kind I've heard since the days of Free over forty years ago. There can be no higher praise.
Dan Auerbach, who sounds like a cross between Paul Rodgers and a latterday Howlin' Wolf - yes, he's that good - sings like the devil on these dirty, downhome tracks, with Patrick Carney a stunning, supportive and inventive drummer. Auerbach also plays a very mean guitar. Try track 5: Give Your Heart Away, or track 7: Modern Times, for a hellraising example of what these two can do all on their own.
It was recorded in the basement of Carney's home in Akron, Ohio. All I can say is, more albums ought to be recorded in cellars, lofts, alleyways and kitchens if this kind of grit is the result.
I love the Black Keys, they have enriched my life, and I only wish I'd heard them sooner.
This 2006 effort follows the equally superb, equally essential Rubber Factory. It's full of great things, nutritious in a way so few bands manage to be these days - let alone duos.

The dog's b------s!


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