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D. Evans "davewright29"
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At The Apollo [2008] [DVD]
At The Apollo [2008] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Arctic Monkeys

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars They don't make 'em like this any more!, 6 Nov 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: At The Apollo [2008] [DVD] (DVD)
This is a concert DVD like almost no other released today.
The camera doesn't jump about all over the place or cut from one image to another with such lightning speed it sends the viewer dizzy. Nor is there constant cutting to the audience, showing people jumping up and down and exhaustively clapping with their hands above their heads, as it seems audiences feel obliged to do these days to show they are 'having a good time!' Indeed the audience aren't featured at all. The only time you can see them is from the backstage camera when they are viewed in the distance and individuals can't be picked out. The jumping up and down and clapping actually looks even sillier in microcosm.
No, this is a concert film that could have been made forty years ago in that the camera often lingers on the musicians long enough for the viewer to take in what's going on. Even the split screen technique is straight out of 1970 Woodstock, and rather than gimmicky seems quaintly old fashioned these days, certainly when compared with the lightning intercutting of most modern music DVD's
All this is actually quite refreshing and makes for a pleasant change. However the DVD isn't perfect.
The stage is often rather dark, again this is how concerts used to be and it takes a bit of getting used to after the frequently brightly lit modern concert films.
Although the number of songs is generous, featuring all the well known numbers a few of my favourites such as 'Mardy Bum', 'Riot Van' and the ep tracks 'Despair in The Departure Lounge' and 'Who The F Are the Arctic Monkeys?' are missing; and the extras which are supposed to be worth 'over an hour of extras' don't actually amount to that much. Why the two tracks featured in the extras 'Balaclava' and 'Bad Woman' aren't just included in the main feature I don't know. Apart from these and some more split screen and different mix stuff there is nothing else - no interviews or videos for example.
Although a refreshing change from most modern concert videos, the whole concert has rather an odd feel at times. With the lack of reference to the audience it almost feel sometimes like the band are playing in the studio or appearing on the Old Grey Whistle Test! Although I don't like lots of shots of the audience, I think a few are okay just to show the atmosphere. Similarly, although Alex Turner does talk to the audience, at times he seems rather self conscious and certainly self effacing, and the band sometimes give off an endearing amatuerism. There is certainly no rock star posing. Indeed what comes over mostly is their very ordinariness, especially when Alex starts talking about whether to take his jumper off or not. Most rock stars don't even wear jumpers!
All in all, this is an interesting and different concert DVD in that it's essentially old fashioned style makes it seem unusual when compared with virtually every other music DVD released in the past ten years.
However, I can't help feeling that the Arctic Monkeys perhaps have a better DVD release in them at some time in the future.


Anthology: From Jersey It Came [Us Import]
Anthology: From Jersey It Came [Us Import]
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: 28.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 'power pop' band, 6 Aug 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I'd never heard of the Smithereens until I purchased the Nuggets box sets Left of The Dial and Children of Nuggets, which were both eightes indie rock compilations. The Smithereens have three tracks included on those two box sets and I thought they were one of the best of the bands I'd previously never heard of on these collections.
In all honesty those three tracks - Beauty and Sadness, Strangers When We Meet and especially the brilliant Behind the Wall of Sleep - are probably the cream of what's on here, but if you have heard the Nuggets compilations and like those tracks you won't be disappointed with much of the rest of this excellent and well annotated collection as it compiles pretty much all the band's essential material.
The second disc of album tracks, B sides and outakes is certainly much weaker than the first disc which contains their best songs, and it could be argued that a one disc collection might have been preferable for the newcomer as it is quite an expensive purchase.
However if you like melodic power pop you can't go wrong with the Smithereens!


All Creatures Great & Small - Series 3 [1979] [DVD]
All Creatures Great & Small - Series 3 [1979] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Christopher Timothy
Price: 10.00

39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the best series?, 6 Aug 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Series three of this heartwarming, amusing and brilliantly acted series was perhaps the best of the lot. Certainly the first three series which were the ones actually based on the books, were superior to the later series set after the war.
There are the usual cute animals, eccentric humans and arguments between the Farnon brothers with James often in the middle. What a powerful actor Robert Hardy was, and his Siegfried Farnon is one of television's truly great characters. This was also the last series to feature Carol Drinkwater as James's wife. When the series returned several years later Lynda Bellingham played the character, and there wasn't quite the same spark between the characters. Of course Drinkwater and Cristopher Timothy actually had a relationship off screen.
There are funny moments in every All Creatures series, but this one features perhaps the best appearance of another great character Granville Bennett who appears once in every series and each time gets James legless. After a while it might get repetitive, but this one is the most hilarious of these storylines.
This series also ended poignantly with James and Siegfried going off to war. Of course at the time no one knew the series would return and it was planned as the last All Creatures series ever.
Highly recommended as an example of British television at its finest.


Tupelo Honey
Tupelo Honey
Offered by direct-2-u
Price: 18.18

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It sounds no different!, 6 July 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Tupelo Honey (Audio CD)
It has long been my suspicion that when record companies re-sell us what we already have under the guise of 'remastered' or improved sound, there is actually very little difference, if any at all.
As I still had the older version of this cd I was able to test my theory. I'm no audiophile but to my ears at least there was no difference between the two. If I had to choose I'd say the earlier version is actually slightly better!
I must have now re-bought dozens of albums with 'updated' sound, and the only ones that I can tell have significantly improved are the King Crimson re-issues; the album Islands for example was originally badly recorded.
As far as this Van Morrison release is concerned however I can hear no difference. I have also purchased Veedon Fleece, but not having the earlier version can't compare. I also can't see how a much more recent album like Back On Top can have a significant improvement in the sound anyway. There is a similar recent album, Down The Road to come. This is ironic when Van's first three albums Astral Weeks, Moondance and His Band and the Street Choir aren't included in the reissues.
As far as I'm concerned the only difference between this and the earlier release are the two bonus tracks, one just an alternative version of an already included track, and the lyrics are included. If you feel these additions are worthwhile then buy it - it's a fine album anyway - but if you already have the older version, there isn't really a compelling reason to upgrade, unless you're desperate for a couple of bonus tracks and the lyrics.


You Cross My Path
You Cross My Path
Offered by jim-exselecky
Price: 8.99

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Their best for years!, 3 Jun 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: You Cross My Path (Audio CD)
As is often acknowledged The Charlatans have, throughout their now lengthy existence, always seem to have been also rans to more famous/successful bands. First they were somewhat eclipsed by The Stone Roses, who they vocally at least, somewhat resembled. Then it was Oasis, and as we entered the new millenium a whole host of new indie bands emerged to outsell and eclipse them. Like the Bluetones, a similar worthy but not massively successful band, the Charlatans just kept plodding on releasing an album regularly every two years. Incredible as it seems The 'Charlies' actually preceded Britpop and are now nearly twenty years old and have outlasted almost all their contemporaries. James, another long lasting and middlingly successful band who emerged around the same time, have recently reformed after a lengthy sabbatical, but the Charlies have never been away. Furthermore, they've had very few line up changes; this in itself is a real achievement.
After discovering the Roses only after their demise and quickly acquiring their limited catalogue I was eagerly looking for similar bands; consequently I retrospectively purchased all the Charlatans albums up to and including Us And Us Only, which was the first of their albums actually released after I'd discovered them. However, after listening to them closely I concluded that, although good, there was something slightly lacking in the band. Although the lightweight vocals resemble the Stone Roses, musically they aren't that similar, and I would say the Charlatans never actually made anything so memorable as the Roses classic first album. I think their problem was that they were often more about the sound and the groove rather than the songs; for example they did feature a number of instrumentals, often a sign that a band are having some difficulty producing enough actual good songs; consequently many of their albums although pretty decent, were often just not quite strong enough, and I would argue they never really made a real classic. I actually sold their second album 'Between 10 and 11th', however I always retained an interest in their releases.
I'm afraid I viewed Wonderland, their next release after Us And Us Only, in the same way as most of the critics who described it as their worst yet. I was so relieved at the improvment of Up At The Lake that I bought it. However, after several very careful listens I concluded that this too was a rather patchy effort, although it does contain one of my very favourite Charlatans tracks, As I Watch You In Disbelief', so I sold that too. Again I loved the single Blackened Blue Eyes from their last album, Simpatico, but the rest of the album was nowhere near the same standard and was actually another pretty weak effort.
So we come to Cross My Path, their latest. I've never totally given up on the band and I would say that this album is just about as good as anything they've ever done, perhaps surpassed only by The Charlatans and Telling Stories. After several listens it has to be said that it's still not perfect however; the songs are slightly masked by the production and the vocals are as ever lightweight and slightly buried. The singles Oh Vanity and The Misbegotten are strong tracks, although the other single, the title track is a little too frenetic for me. I also like Missing Beats (Of A Generation), Bird and This Is The End. One problem the band have always suffered from though is there isn't much light and shade, with nearly everything being played at the same tempo. They don't really do ballads and the only slow song, My Name Is Despair is a real dirge and the worst thing on the album. The release is also quite short, even if one adds the two bonus tracks on the limited edition 2 disc version, one of which is an instrumental, whilst the other Acid In The Tea is quite a strong number.
Not perfect then, but certainly their best album of the 00's and probably as good as they're ever going to get again.
If only Blackened Blue Eyes and As I Watch You In Disbelief had been released on this album!


To Be Continued
To Be Continued

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nearly all you could want., 7 April 2008
This review is from: To Be Continued (Audio CD)
When I was growing up - a period which coincided with Elton's rise to stardom - I wasn't a great fan of his. I liked Honkey Cat, which was nearly the first single I bought, until my mate talked me out of it because Elton wasn't cool, so I bought Take Me Bak Ome by Slade instead! That was essentialy what we felt was wrong with Elton at the time - he wasn't really a rocker. Crocodile Rock and Saturday Night's All Right For Fighting (which always sounded a bit silly when sung by someone patently not tough like Elton! Bit more appropriate when the Who did it, as Roger Daltrey was a fighter!) weren't really rock in the sense that Led Zep or Deep Purple were, whilst there were also too many soppy ballads for teenage boys.
However when I became an adult I bought a greatest hits album and started collecting the early 70's classics when they were remastered in the 90's. It was only after I began playing them again a couple of years ago that I realised actually how good and varied Elton's music was. I was then inspired to investigate his later material, which apart from the obvious hits had always passed me by. So it is from this perspective that I come to this box set.

The first thing that strikes the listener about Elton John is how incredibly prolific he was. Probably only Dylan, Van Morrison and Neil Young have produced as much music and they have all been recording longer. This inevitably means that there is a good deal of inconsistency. And there is little doubt that, like Bowie at the time, he produced some poor albums in the 80's. However there were exceptions. Too Low For Zero in 83, Made In England in 95 and the 00's albums Songs From the West Coast and The Captain and The Kid are as strong as anything he's done. But for every one of these there is a dreadful Victim of Love or a Leather Jackets. I also found Peachtree Road, the acclaimed follow up to the excellent Songs From The West Coast, just boring. So quite often a strong album is followed by a poor one.

This box set contains all the hits, although a couple of them: Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me and the massively well known Candle In The Wind are not in their original versions, but are inferior live versions when Elton was struggling with his voice in the mid 80's. Therefore this box isn't suitable for people who only want all the hits as they know them. Part Time Love is also missing completely. This is a bit annoying when the awful Act Of War with Millie Jackson is included. The excellent The Club At The End Of The Street has also been left off in favour of its B side, a dreadful version of Give Peace a Chance (not a brilliant song melody wise in the first place), which is a ridiculous decision. You do get other singles which weren't hits though, such as the brilliant tribute to John Lennon, Empty Garden, (Hey Hey Johnny). This was one of John/Taupin's very best songs, but because it unnaccountably wasn't a hit is usually left off compilations. There is also another excellent flop Feel Like A Bullet in the Gun of Robert Ford, albeit again in a live version, but this time a good one. There are also four new songs to tempt fans specially recorded for the box; unfortunately none are really memorable and could have been omitted to include better songs such as Part Time Love, The Club At The End Of The Street and Burn Down The Mission.
The booklet contains a lot of excellent photos and an interview with Elton and Bernie. There is also a commentary on his career, but because he has been so prolific it isn't as comprehensive and thorough as it could have been. For example there is no real insight into all the individual songs as you get on some box sets.

It could actually be argued that the box is now somewhat redundant as most of the unreleased songs have subsequently been issued as bonus tracks on the remastered albums. Record companies seem to have a habit of doing this now: issuing a box set full of rarities then issuing those rarities on re-released albums.
I think for someone just getting into Elton or exploring his work in the 80's you might be better buying the remastered albums, as this box set is expensive and not easy to obtain now. But for someone who wants a cross section of Elton's career up to 1990 (remember he's produced tons of music since!) and would like more than just the big hits, it is a very worthwhile purchase.


The Charles Dickens BBC Collection [DVD] [1977]
The Charles Dickens BBC Collection [DVD] [1977]
Dvd ~ Ioan Gruffudd
Offered by Mega-Deals
Price: 39.99

39 of 59 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Incomplete!, 29 Jan 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Although I have only just bought this and haven't even seen one programme yet I can remember some of the adaptations.
Martin Cuzzzlewit and Our Mutual Friend were good but the David Copperfield is far too short. I can remember the version from the 1970's featuring the brilliant Arthur Lowe as a memorable Micawber - a part he was born to play. Surely this more comprehensively faithful version should have been featured rather than the abridged more recent one? Also why not include Nicholas Nickleby and Bleak House, two of Dicken's major novels which are unaccountably omitted. I realise this collection came out too early to feature the recent excellent adaptation of Bleak House, but surely they could have included the fine version from the 1980's. It would have also have been nice to have The Old Curiosity Shop; there was another excellent 70's versions featuring Trevor Peacock as a superb Quilp.
To reduce the collection slightly they could actually have left out Christmas Carol, which after all isn't actually a novel, and has been adapted to death!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 1, 2011 5:01 PM GMT


Oh, by the Way (Mini LP Replica)
Oh, by the Way (Mini LP Replica)
Price: 251.20

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Missed opportunity, 19 Jan 2008
Pink Floyd were of course a major band who produced some great music, but let's be honest they really only made three classic albums: Dark Side of The Moon (still brilliant despite its over familarity), Piper At The Gates Of Dawn and Wish You Were Here; the rest were pretty patchy to say the least.

After Barrett's decline they undoubtedly lost their way for a time as is now generally accepted. Their lack of direction is evident on Saucerful of Secrets, Atom Heart Mother, Meddle and both film sountracks (although Obscured By Clouds is perhaps slighly underrated even now) and reaches its apex on the studio disc of Ummagumma which is pretty much self indulgent rubbish (although the live disc is excellent). They did of course produce some excellent stuff on these albums, most notably Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun on Saucerful, Echoes on Meddle, and I've always rated the other epic track from this era, the title track of Atom Heart Mother; but while ever these were juxtaposed with rubbish such as Seamus (a dog howling over a blues dirge) and Alan's Psychedlic Breakfast, one can hardly call them consistently 'classic' albums. After Wish You Were Here I think Floyd became similarly inconsistent again. For example, I could never really 'get' The Wall, and still can't. It might be an impressive achievement with SOME decent music (Comfortably Numb of course), but it's a very difficult album to gain simple listening enjoyment from, as is the Final Cut. Whilst Animals I could take or leave. The last two albums, whether one regards them as true PF albums or not, are also similarly very patchy, although I'd say Divsion Bell is much stronger than Momentary Lapse of Reason.

So much for the music but I'm afraid this package itself is also as inconsistent. The box itself is neat and nice and certainly saves space. I bought it because I didn't have all the albums and wanted to save space, but I'm afraid the vinyl replicas, whilst sounding like a nice idea, for me don't work. CD's aren't vinyl and the original art work wasn't always better. By replacing my cd reissues with these it means I've lost most of the lyrics and the ones that have been retained are too small to read comfortably. It also means that you lose the excellent photos too. The early albums were basic in their packaging and I think the cd reissues were actually far better. Apart from Piper the discs are the same as the 1994 remasters, so nothing of value there in terms of upgrading the sound, although the new remaster of Piper is brilliant and you can really hear the difference. For example, there were sounds at the beginning of Astronomy Domine I never knew existed. I could never understand why the following album, SOS, wsn't produced anywhere near as well, even though it was the same producer.
But what really irks me about this package is why oh why didn't they include the early singles, or at least Relics and a decent booklet, as befitting a box set, instead of bloody silly coasters and a poster?

Ridiculous!

How can you have a complete set of Pink Floyd without See Emily Play and Arnold Layne, even if you don't include the other less successful singles?

All in all a disappointing package, especially considering the price. Under a hundred quid then it would be a bargain; at the price it is and considering that it's incomplete musically, lacking a booklet, readable lyrics and any decent photos, then you are much better sticking with the individual albums!


The Brit Box
The Brit Box
Offered by sellerfellauk
Price: 123.99

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shows why some succeed and some don't!, 9 Dec 2007
This review is from: The Brit Box (Audio CD)
Following on from their various Nuggets releases covering the 60's and 70's, their 70's punk box, No Thanks and their alternative 80's box, Left Of The Dial, Rhino release a 4 disc box covering the British alternative/indie music scene which succeeded the scene explored on their Left Of The Dial Box.

As the Brit Box begins with the Smiths 1984 release How Soon Is Now (one of their very best songs!), several artists are represented on both this and Left Of The Dial: the Smiths, Cocteau Twins, The Cure (who seem to be on every compilation ever released that covers their lifetime!), Echo and the Bunnymen, Jesus and Mary Chain, Happy Mondays and the Stone Roses - in the latter's case with even the same song, She Bangs the Drums - feature on both sets. What makes this different however from both the 80's and 70's alternative boxes, which featured half American and half UK acts, is that as you'd expect from the title, it is 100% British.

Rhino are an American company and their releases are primarily aimed at the US market, sometimes only being available as expensive imports; therefore the liner notes, extensive and excellent as Rhino's always are, sometimes read oddly from a UK listener's viewpoint. More significantly perhaps is the fact that sometimes songs are featured because they were better known in the US to the exclusion of the more obvious choices.

I was a big music fan in the early 70's when I was in my early teens, but although I was about 18 at the height of punk, I was never into that music at the time, and again at the time, the early 80's New Romantic scene did little for me, so I actually lost interest in listening to new music almost totally and for years shut my ears to everything but the 60's and 70's greats. Probably the only band I really gave much of a chance to at the time were the Bunnymen themselves, and that was only probably because they sounded like The Doors! I therefore missed out entirely on the Madchester and Shoegazing movements during their lifetimes. It was only probably midway through the Brit Pop scene when hearing bands like Oasis and Supergrass' catchy Alright (which seemed to be everywhere at the time) on pub jukeboxes, that my interest in contemporary music was revived. I remember both Oasis's first two classic albums had been released before I actually caught up with them and the rest of the current scene. I then retrospectively began to get into music once again with a vengeance, buying dozens of cd's per month for years. (I'd originally held out against buying a cd player for years!) The Stone Roses, who I missed out on at their height, have since become one of my all time favourite bands.
Although I am now into middle age I now still keep in touch with what's happening and my interest in music is as great as it was when I was 14. I can't understand why I spent most of my 20's and 30's ignorant of modern music - maybe the 80's has a lot to answer for!
So it is from this perspective I come to this box set.

Some of the artists on discs 3 and 4 are responsible for reviving my interest in music, whilst the ones on disc 1 I discovered retrospectively. Most of the bands on disc 2 were still unknown to me, or only vaguely known as names and no more. So bands such as The Pale Saints, Mighty Lemon Drops, Trash Can Sinatras, Curve and Chapterhouse I was hearing for the first time, having vaguely heard OF them but little more. A good many of the artists on these discs I hadn't even heard of at all even now. Amongst the obscurities and one hit wonders there are of course many of the 80's and 90's best known indie/alternative names from the Bunnymen and Smiths of the 80's to the Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and Charlatans from a few years later, to Suede, Oasis, Blur, Pulp of the Britpop years. Most of these bands are represented by well known songs which have already turned up on countless compilations: Live Forever, Common People, The Only One I Know, etc. The major exception to this is Blur, who instead of Parklife or Girls and Boys get Tracy Jacks, an album track, which seems odd. Maybe it's something to do with the American focus of the set? I'm quite glad though that the Boo Radleys, New Order and James are represented by something other than Wake Up Boo, Blue Monday and Sit Down respectively as those three songs seem to turn up everywhere. I'm also glad the Inspiral Carpets brilliant This Is How It Feels is included.

Although this is a massively comprehensive compilation covering nearly every band you've heard of, and many you haven't who were recording during these 15 years, there are a few notable omissions owing to either licensing or space restrictions. Easily the most important band not featured are Radiohead, but there is also no sign of the Stereophonics (who I personally don't care much for anyway), or the House of Love, who were a decent and relatively unsuccessful band from that odd period which preceded Britpop at the turn of the 90's. Most of the bands from this period - Ride, Lush, My Bloody Valentine were commercially unsuccessful. Even the Stone Roses themselves, as important and influential as they were, didn't have that many big hits.
The other main movement from this period apart from the Roses/Happy Mondays Madchester scene was Shoegazing and many of the bands who embraced this movement take up disc 2. To be truthful Shoegazing wasn't commercially successful simply because it mostly wasn't very good. The endless dreaming droning which often obscured any melody becomes quite hard going after about five minutes; and Ride, a band who I thought had some potential if they hadn't have buried their vocals and melodies under layers of droning guitars, epitomise this. They are represented by Vapour Trail, one of their better songs however.
It could be argued that this box set tries to do too much, as the Shoegazers actually had very little in common with the much more catchy and commercially successful Britop bands who succeded them so soon afterwards. The only group who really straddled the two movements were Lush, who became much more pop orientated towards the end of their career and by then could be classed as Britpop, although they are represented here by For Love, one of their earlier Shoegazing type efforts.

Ultimately this is a worthwhile and interesting box set covering 15 years (half the 80's and all the 90's), which in pop music terms is more than a generation; it is therefore unsurprising that we have such a variety of styles.
However I think what it really illustrates, and I think this is true of any era, is that most artists are commercially successful because they are good and record memorable tunes, and the ones who aren't successful mostly quite simply aren't very good. This is as true in the 80's and 90's and today as it was in the 60's and 70's. Other than the Velvet Underground, who truly were 'ahead of their time' I can't think of many bands and artists who were really good and totally unsuccessful.
There are of course a number of artists who were successful despite not being very good! One only has to think of the Spice Girls for an obvious example!


Soup
Soup
Price: 3.00

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Another pointless release!, 17 Nov 2007
This review is from: Soup (Audio CD)
I'm a big fan of the Beautiful South, but like the recent Rolling Stones and Led Zepp compilations this is another unneccessary release. Apart from the fact that I own everything on it as I have all the albums, even for the less committed there are already three BS compilations available and one excellent Housemartins compilation which covers their career much more comprehensively than does this release. Just to try and tempt people to shell out yet again for what they've already bought they've thrown in a DVD edition as well, but it won't be tempting me!
Once again 5 stars for the music and 2 for the album itself.


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