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The Power of Gems and Crystals: How They Can Transform Your Life
The Power of Gems and Crystals: How They Can Transform Your Life
by Soozi Holbeche
Edition: Paperback

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rat Poison, 14 April 2012
If you're in any doubt as to the veracity of Ms Holbeche's claims, may I suggest you pay a visit to YouTube and type "James Randi Tests Crystal Power" in the search box.

There you'll find that our beloved fount of wisdom and healing was, sadly, unable to differentiate between the healing powers of a crystal and several bags of rat poison. Apparently, this was because the crystal was in a small bag and so not as effective as it might have been.

Yes, despite being so powerful as to be able to alter mood, behaviour and physical strength, it seems crystals are unable to work effectively through a thin fabric bag. What a shame.

5 stars for the sheer nerve of it.

Keep up the good work!

McLintock [DVD] [1964]
McLintock [DVD] [1964]
Dvd ~ John Wayne
Price: £2.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Truly Dreadful, 2 Feb. 2012
This review is from: McLintock [DVD] [1964] (DVD)
I'm a big western fan, and always thought that I shared the same general outlook on the genre (give or take a few films) as other fans. But coming on here and seeing rave reviews for this joyless, tiresome, profoundly-unfunny film has me wondering if I've just finished watching a different movie altogether.

First off, how could anyone over the age of three find anything funny in the script? I mean, the jokes....well, they're not really jokes....just some kind of lame comments about a particularly 'firey' (and poorly acted/ scripted) female character; punctuated by sub-Benny Hill "oh lawks I've done it again!!??" slapstick.

(And I don't mean good slapstick/ farce - this is bottom of the barrel stuff)

This is one of the few films I've had to watch in THREE sittings because it was so irritating.

Perhaps the worst part is the last ten minutes, where somehow everything is made OK again by giving the tiresome redhead woman a good spanking. I don't object to this on any sexual politics basis (this is John Wayne for crying out loud), but only because it is such a BAD ending to any film.

Actually, scrap that. The worst part of the film is the mud-slide fight with the comedic "woosh" noise in the soundtrack as they fall down the hill. THIS SCENE LASTS FIFTEEN MINUTES.

Actually, scrap that. The worst part in the film is the seemingly endless 'comedy' fight between the young, boring guy and the fat old guy which truly does GO ON FOR EVER.

Actually, scrap that. The worst thing about this film was that, while watching it, I actually found myself questioning comedy westerns as a whole. Was Blazing Saddles REALLY that funny? Support Your Local Sheriff that good? Is it true that a genre seemingly adaptable to any artistic motive has always come up short when used as a vehicle for comedy?

Yes, this film really is that bad.

I don't give a monkeys about Andrew McLaglen's family connections: he was an absolutely DREADFUL director and Shenandoah (the only half-decent thing he made) is overrated.

Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 12, 2013 9:42 AM BST

McCormack & Yarde Duo - Places & Other Spaces
McCormack & Yarde Duo - Places & Other Spaces
Price: £11.41

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent piece of work, 4 Oct. 2011
I first heard Jason Yarde at a Hugh Masekela gig filmed for the BBC. He took a couple of solos and, for me, it was definitely one of those "who is THAT?!" moments. It was actually quite hard to find out who he was - the guy needs a better publicist - considering (if I remember correctly) he also worked on a lot of the arrangements.

A couple of years later, my brother and I were walking through the West End one evening and happened to see that he and McCormack were performing at Pizza Express that night. We decided to forget the last train home and go see them instead. It turned out to be one of the best nights we'd ever spent in a jazz club; McCormack's light, delicate playing providing the perfect cushion for Yarde's long spiraling lines that seemed to drift off into infinity. A really memorable, intimate gig.

This is their second album together. If you haven't got the first, then I highly recommend you do so. Like the first, I think it will appeal to a broad range of jazz fans, as well as fans of European chamber music. Perhaps the biggest difference between the two sets is that McCormack is really developing his own voice, both as soloist and composer. His accompaniment is (as it was that night in Pizza Express) varied, intelligent and often lovely.

As for Yarde's playing, I really run out of superlatives when I listen to him. First of all, his tone is really rich but delicate. Second, he isn't just a player who 'makes the changes'; he's a player who makes the changes work for him. Some of his lines are so pretty: think Atlantic-era Trane with a kind of European lilt.

I've only had the album two days, but some tracks stand out: D-Town has a chord progression that was just made to be played over; Dark Too Bright is spiky and Monk-ish; Flowers for Japan and Epilogue are nice reflective pieces; Hill Walking on the Tynerside is the sound of two musicians really gelling together.

I'm not one for nationalist jingoism, but we really are LUCKY to have these two making music in Britain at the moment. This music isn't insincere fake-Americana, nor is it ECM-lite; this is intelligent, sensitive, complex music played by two people who really do have something to say on their instruments. The only depressing thing to consider is how little exposure this will probably get, compared to the latest mid-atlantic-x-factor-nightmare songstress, or the gutless £100-haircut indie whiners who passes for much of our cultural life at the moment.

I don't know why I haven't given the album five stars - I tend to reserve that for all-time classics that I've known for years. Probably my mistake.

Buy this and go see them if you get a chance.

Goin' Down the Road Feelin' Ba
Goin' Down the Road Feelin' Ba
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £13.32

4.0 out of 5 stars Quality Stuff, 10 April 2011
Within the blues and its myriad of genres and sub-genres there is a small but felicitous tradition of harmonica and guitar duos. I don't know why, but there is something so totally RIGHT about a wailing harmonica line played over a steady guitar rhythm. To this listener, guitar and harmonica duos sound the way the blues should sound. The way it sounded when I first began to listen to this music.

The most popular of these duos and the standard by which later ones are judged is, of course, that of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. But Cepahs and Wiggins, to my mind, are (or were, as John Cephas has sadly passed) more than that duo's natural successor: they are its equals.

Cepahs has become something of a symbol for all that is good in the music: good natured, eager to share his knowledge and (in later years) an ambassador for piedmont blues all over the world.
But I think it's fair to say that the musical genius in the group (as perhaps with Sonny and Brownie) is the harmonica player. Wiggins' playing is simply ON FIRE on this record. Terry is clearly an influence, but the licks, lines and squawking motifs are amped up and taken to another place. I never thought I'd find myself playing air harmonica.

Is this one of greatest country blues records of all time? Perhaps not. But it IS country blues played to a very, very high standard (which is always something to celebrate) and is likely to be popping out of your shelves for many years to come. It is also the perfect accompaniment to summer afternoons with a liquid refreshment of your choice.
Sadly overlooked, but highly recommended.

Very Rare
Very Rare
Offered by mrtopseller
Price: £6.75

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Take care with this one, 10 April 2011
This review is from: Very Rare (Audio CD)
I'm a BIG T-Bone Walker fan and have pretty much all of his recordings from all periods in his career, but I have to say that this isn't one of his best. Now I don't mean any disrespect to the other reviewer, and maybe he/ she has found depths to this work that have just passed me by, but two things (I think) are pretty evident on this recording:

(i) T-bone's voice is absolutely shot to pieces. Years of alcoholism had really taken there toll by this point and at times it's painful listening.

(ii) There's hardly any of that signature, sublime guitar work on this record which (I'm guessing) will have drawn many of you to T-Bone's work in the first place.

The supporting cast? Yeah they're great, but few of them ever really get to shine in arrangements that mostly sound like a passable impression of some kind of bigband blues, rather than the real thing itself. If you've ever spent a night in one of those Blues Brothers revival shows (you know, the kind of things that tour provincial theatres and promise you a night of "Foot Stomping Boogie Woogie Blues" and cater for people who don't really listen to the blues - which ISN'T a dig at those people - just saying) then you'd get a fair idea of the music on this disc. I suppose you could call it 'coach-trip' blues. Again, that isn't a slur against those people but...well, you know what I mean.

If you're after good, late-era T-Bone then I'd recommend Good Feelin' instead. Better yet, pick up a copy of T-Bone Blues which has some of the finest guitar playing of the 'second half' of his career. Though, if you're new to him, I'd suggest starting with the Black & White and Imperial recordings.

I wasn't intending to write a review for this album, and I wouldn't have done so had I not read the other one, but I think you should know that this record really isn't a fair representation of the genius that is T-Bone Walker.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 27, 2012 7:44 AM GMT

Standing at the Crossroads
Standing at the Crossroads
Price: £13.03

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Country Blues as Art, 22 Nov. 2010
I've been listening to pre-war style country blues for the best part of twenty years now, so it was something of a bittersweet moment to find this album - one of perhaps five of the greatest country blues records ever made - only in the last year or so. Oh what I've been missing!

First, let me clarify. I generally consider pre-war blues to be a style rather than a period. I accept the term is inadequate, perhaps misleading, but over the years it's become my default way of describing blues which is usually played by a solo instrumentalist, usually on acoustic instruments, and which is often, though not always, characterised by that deep, down-home feeling which first drew me to the music as a teenager. To distinguish, say, between the pre-war and post-war output of Mississippi John Hurt would, I feel, be ridiculous: to me it's all pre-war blues.

Fans of this form of music regularly have to accept a frustrating trade-off between quality of music and quality of recording. Skip James' classic 1931 records, for example, were execrably recorded but clearly surpass his later 60's recordings in musical quality - as good as those late ones sometimes were. Happily, some artists kept their chops well into the modern recording era, giving us an artist at the peak of his powers beautifully recorded: Johnny Shines' Standing at the Crossroads is one of these records.

The key to this record is unity. Unity between guitar and voice, lyric and performance. There is also a unity between tracks: this doesn't feel like just a collection of songs, it feels like an `album'. But within this unity there is seemingly limitless variation: tempos and rhythm change at will (often within individual songs); licks, motifs and melodies are added and embellished with beautiful authority, all the while keeping the original `feeling' of the tune established in the first few bars. And all of it, no matter how baroque the embellishment, is underpinned by that deep, funky rhythmic thumb of his on the bass strings. Credit must also go to producer Pete Welding who managed to capture the depth of Shines' voice and guitar. And while not necessarily as good as this, I find that Testament Records' output in general is usually worth listening to.

It almost seems unfair to mention Shines' late friend and running partner Robert Johnson in any review of Shines' work, especially this one. Shines was clearly his own man with his own artistic agenda. And though I'm no anti-Johnson revisionist, I know which record I pull down most regularly from my shelves! Other of Shines' records seem to get more plaudits (Too Wet to Plough amongst them) but this, this, is the good stuff.

If you enjoyed this you might also like:

Slide Guitar Vol.1: Bottles, Knives & Steel
The Immortal Mississippi John Hurt
Blind Willie McTell
The Best of the Vee-Jay Years [Us Import]

Bill Evans: How My Heart Sings (Yale Nota Bene)
Bill Evans: How My Heart Sings (Yale Nota Bene)
by Peter Pettinger
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

23 of 30 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Please Don't Believe Them, 27 Sept. 2008
Well, all I can say about the other reviewers in this section is that they must have read a lot of lousy books in their time to make this hack job look half-way decent.
The story itself, once you peel under the book's assumption that this is the definitive study, moves along in little more than a "and then Bill did this" way that might serve as an example in how not to write an engaging biography. One never gets, at any point, a complete picture of the man and the forces which shaped him and his wonderful music.
But what I found so irritating in the reviews, indeed what irritated me so much about the book, was this air of assumed expertise and mutual congratulation: as if by being a concert pianist (though not a great one by any standards) the author had a hot-line to the Evans' creative soul. In fact, as a musician myself, I found the author's technical analysis of Evans' work woefully poor, and the study of Evans' extraordinary harmonic capacity almost non-existent.
I was expecting so much of this book, and it delivered so little; except in proving that crossing genres is not always a good thing and exposing what must be the rank gullibility of much of the jazz audience in falling for this sort of guff.
"Well, he was a classical pianist so we should be grateful he's bothering to spend his time with us jazz-heads at all!"
You would learn a whole lot more about Evans the man, let alone the musician, by just pouring yourself a large glass of wine and listening to one of his albums. No doubt no one will find this review useful because I dared to say that this is a distinct case of emperor's new clothes. A real missed opportunity & a lousy book.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 10, 2015 7:51 PM GMT

Lord Byron - The Major Works (Oxford World's Classics)
Lord Byron - The Major Works (Oxford World's Classics)
by Baron George Gordon Byron Byron
Edition: Paperback

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don Juan Fan Club, 22 Sept. 2008
A very nice selection of Byron's work that, while I initially bought it only for Don Juan, will furnish me with many more happy hours of reading than I had anticipated. The short introduction is really quite useful and well written; revealing more in a couple of paragraphs than many of the longer essays in the Cambridge Companion to Byron do in their entirety. Don Juan is still, at its best, a real delight to read. Recommended.

Intimacy Calling - Standard Time Vol. 2
Intimacy Calling - Standard Time Vol. 2
Price: £5.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Start Your Wynton Collection Here, 11 July 2008
Few jazz musicians, it seems, can divide opinion like Wynton Marsalis.
Like other listeners I have on occasion been underwhelmed by some Marsalis' playing. Technically always wonderful, of course, but sometimes a little lacking in feeling. Or worse, a flailing attempt to get to to a feeling and falling short.

That was until I heard this album! There's nothing earth-shattering here: a collection of ballads and some originals. But the playing is so refined (the pace just above a heartbeat) and the phrasing is so honest that it reminds you of why you love jazz in the first place. And Wynton is surrounded by some lovely players too.

Take a look around the Jazz message boards on the internet and you'll find lots of long-winded articles (mostly by people who can't play) on just why exactly they hate Wynton Marsalis. But all that really counts is what's on record - and this warm, intimate, beautiful record is a real gem.

Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid : The Movie & More (2 Disc Special Edition) [1973] [DVD]
Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid : The Movie & More (2 Disc Special Edition) [1973] [DVD]
Dvd ~ James Coburn
Offered by Quality Media Supplies Ltd.
Price: £12.57

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Watch the Turner Version, 25 Oct. 2007
Time and time again on "Greatest Western" polls Peckinpah's Wild Bunch and Ride the High Country are chosen as the summit of his achievement. But after many years of watching his films I do honestly believe that this (along with the seriously underrated Junior Bonner) is, in it's own way, the best film he ever made.
It's the type of film an ex-girlfriend of mine would have called "slow", which basically means it's beautifully paced and allows the story reveal itself through some fine camera work and wonderful performances - perhaps the best I've ever seen from Coburn? The balletic last twenty minutes of the film stands alongside Ford, Mann, Leone...anyone who ever did anything interesting with the Western. It also looks and feels great - ragged and worn like one of those Stones albums from the early seventies or indeed the soundtrack album itself.

All of the above applies to the version I grew up on which is included as disc two in the set. It does not apply to the disgraceful, offensive 2005 version - a final kick in the teeth from the studio. The crimes committed by these "Peckinpah experts" in the editing suite has been well documented elsewhere (perfectly good scenes deleted and weaker ones in their place etc), I would just like to add that the biggest insult is their attempt to make it more 'pacey' - that's what made the film so special in the first place!

Listen to the audio commentary and you'll soon see why they made such a hash of it: you remember those kids in school who used to work so doggedly but you knew underneath didn't have one decent imaginative or responsive thought in their minds? Guess what! They're doing commentaries for Peckinpah movies! Get ready as they "Analise" this "flawed" masterpiece using the kind of critical techniques you left behind at High School. Scene after beautiful scene passes beneath their noses while they pronounce them to be "flawed" or "flabby".

Surprisingly some of the other extras with cast & crew are actually quite good - and show the kind of loyalty Peckinpah could inspire despite his erratic behavior!

I would recommend this film to anyone interested in westerns, horses, sunsets and whiskey.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 4, 2016 7:37 AM BST

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