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The Free
The Free
by Willy Vlautin
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Maybe people just get worn out. I never thought that was true, but now I think it's true. Maybe people can only take so much", 27 Mar 2014
This review is from: The Free (Paperback)
You will not read a more life-affirming, unsentimental contemporary novel this year- by turns heartbreaking, inspiring and just plain well observed, Willy Vlautin's fourth novel is a poignant and moving portrait of three ordinary people and their friends and families trying to make their way through the harsh realities of a post 9/11 world.

If this book doesn't leave you feeling elated by the small mercies shown to the characters, each trying to find a way to love as best they can in a loveless place, then you're beyond help- you've lost something indefinable and precious.

Or perhaps you're already one of The Free.


The Anti-Death League (Penguin Modern Classics)
The Anti-Death League (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Kingsley Amis
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.19

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of his best, despite what Amazon reviewers may say..., 27 Mar 2014
'The Anti-Death League' marked something of a watershed period for Kingsley Amis, not only upon his writing style, but also his personal life. The collapse of his marriage with Hilly & the beginning of his relationship with Elizabeth Jane Howard had a profound effect upon Amis' psyche, which resulted in him asking himself (& the reader) the bigger questions regarding life, love & death, something which was soon reflected in his prose which he himself saw as a new "experimental" technique: not in a Bloomsbury, 'stream of consciousness' approach, but a more rounded, serious view on the world whilst combining different genres, a style he would continue to experiment with during the rest of the 60s & 70s.

In this case, we have the combination of a 'spy/secret weapon' plot (coming off the back of his work on 'The James Bond Dossier' this is hardly a surprise) with the existential fears that potentially apocalyptic ordnance inspires, along with the principal characters' love affairs of various hues, approaches to life (& death) & sexuality. Set on a British army base & its surrounding environs somewhere in Southern England, this is by far the most interesting & most questioning novel Amis had until that point written &, I would hazard to say, one of his greatest.

If you're expecting rib-tickling giggles or belly laughs by the bucketful a la 'Lucky Jim', then this isn't for you: have a bash at 'I Want It Now' or his other mid-period masterpiece, 'Girl, 20'. 'The Anti-Death League' is a quietly amusing, brave attempt at tackling a number of serious concerns, with a blending of genre techniques familiar to most readers of the time.

Indeed, Amis himself remarked that a contemporary reviewer badgered him into a personal interview where the uncomfortable hack eventually plucked up the courage to ask Amis if he was being "serious" with this novel - Amis confirmed that he was, which seemed to assuage the journalist who then went on to give him a good review.


No Title Available

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Rubbish, 19 Oct 2012
I bought a pair of these brogues on 31st August- today (19th October) they have a hole in the right sole. Don't waste your money on these shoddy "quality" shoes.


Kingsley Amis: A Biography
Kingsley Amis: A Biography
by Eric Jacobs
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars Broad brushstrokes, 14 Jun 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Not a bad biography per se, but not exactly essential. If you're at all
interested in Amis, go for Zachary Leader's book instead- it's much more
interesting.


Futebol De Bar
Futebol De Bar
Price: 0.79

5.0 out of 5 stars Instant Sunshine, 11 April 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Futebol De Bar (MP3 Download)
I first heard 'Futebol de Bar' on a compilation tape back in 1995 (alas with no tracklisting) & it's taken me years to find this song again but my God, was it worth it. As soon as it starts, the sun comes out. Fantastic Latin piano that keeps you on the edge of your seat until right before the end when the usual percussion/samba patterns kick in...for a mere 30 seconds! Absolute genius.


Talahomi Way
Talahomi Way
Price: 12.89

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars O'Hagan leads the way...again, 18 Jun 2011
This review is from: Talahomi Way (Audio CD)
Poor old Sean O'Hagan- with almost every record he & his High Llamas release, the first comparison most people tend to reach for is Brian Wilson & his Californian Beach bums, which says more about critics than it does about O'Hagan & his individual style of writing. Sure, he's as familiar with 'Pet Sounds' as the next consumate songwriter, but his palate draws on much wider influences whilst making the music he creates wholly his own. Van Dyke Parks, Shuggy Otis, Edward Elgar & Jorge Ben are all star players in his dream team & this is no more apparent than on new LP 'Talahomi Way'.

'Berry Adams' is a blueprint in how to engage the listener, with its arrangement's gentle twists & turns that constantly surprise & delight the ears. The tastiest track on the album by far is the superb 'Take My Hand', a sing-along sea breeze of a shanty which leads us down to a warm, sun-kissed beachfront, far away from the hustle & bustle of South London; a deceptively powerful & catchy as all hell chorus invites us to run our fingers through the warm sand & turn our backs upon the daily grind so many of us endure. It could be any beach, Rio, Venice or even Southwold- the point here is a lyrical & melodic escapism which is surely what all the best music strives to supply.

O'Hagan's string quartet experiments from 2003's magnificent 'Beet, Maize & Corn' are showcased here in the moving instrumental 'Wander Jack, Wander' (as English as marmalade & a cup of Earl Grey), alongside the subtle wind instrument arrangements used to such great effect in the longing of 'Fly Baby Fly'.

There's always been a natural jauntiness to O'Hagan's writing, no more so than in the gentle melodicism of 'To The Abbey', probably the only time you're going to hear a harp on any new releases this year. He makes it sounds so easy.

Of course, there are the odd moments of California dreaming ('Talahomi Way' & it's Western harmonica springs to mind), but they seem to appear less & less in O'Hagan's work these days...which means all those critics are going to have reach for something other than their usual, knee-jerk West-Coast allusions. Sorry, boys...


'Round About Midnight
'Round About Midnight
Price: 10.06

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spine-chilling & Evocative, 15 Dec 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: 'Round About Midnight (Audio CD)
From Red Garland's opening piano chord, 'Round Midnight' unravels like a rain-slick stroll around the listener, taking them from the comfort of their own home to a damp, drizzly night in NYC; the power of that one chord, combined with Coltrane's sax & Davis' trumpet is nothing short of spellbinding, an evocation as powerful as anything John Dee ever mumbled over in Mortlake. So steeped in a specific time/place, this surely ranks as one of the greatest openings to any Jazz track ever recorded. The quintet's playing on Monk's standard is nothing short of mythical, the depth of tone achieved unsurpassed, a sense of total conviction pervades & informs the listener just exactly what the witching hour sounds like. Paul Chambers' bass thrumbs like a broken heart whilst Philly Joe Jones rolls around the kit with the frightful power of shadows across moonlit walls. As soon as Coltrane's solo begins however, the music forces the listener to take a deep breath, pushing them further into the night, into the spaces between lost lovers & the frailties of human expression. This is music carved from the hollow darkness of abandonment, weaving its profound spell over the listener no matter how many times heard, no matter how many years later. Quite simply, this IS the music of the spheres.


Apathy for the Devil
Apathy for the Devil
by Nick Kent
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.06

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Street Writing Man, 15 Mar 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Apathy for the Devil (Paperback)
Nick Kent's second book, a memoir rather than the 'straight' (yeah, right) articles of his earlier tome 'Dark Stuff', is a fascinating, on-the-spot overview of the seventies; a decade of despair & devil's dandruff, punk rock & writer's block for our NME-endorsed, self-styled 'gunslinger' with a fetish for James Joyce. Kent takes us by the hand & leads us from his middle-class drop-out beginnings of 1970 to his mid-decade highs & his very own 'winter of discontent'; the truth behind Keith Richard's real 'breakfast of champions', mind-expanding beanos to Brighton with Captain Beefheart, hexadelic flights to America in the company of Iggy Pop & the NY Dolls, sulphate-midwiffery of the nascent punk scene & his inevitable scapegoat fall from grace at both the hands of his IPC editors & a callous gang of petty crooks from Shepherds Bush & Finsbury Park better known as the Sex Pistols. All are recalled with a shudder & a smile by our worthy scribe, who miraculously survived close-quarter encounters with both Sid Vicious amphetamine-powered bike-chain & John Bonham's coke-addled hippie-headbanded ire. As a skinny rat from Manchester once said, "Notebooks out, plagiarists"...Kent is the 'real' street writing man.


Fabulous Fowey: The Visitor's Guide to Fowey and District
Fabulous Fowey: The Visitor's Guide to Fowey and District
by Phil Billington
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.54

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Schoolboy error?, 8 Mar 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The book looks like a handy little guide to Fowey, which I'm sure I'll enjoy & find most enlightening. But there's one thing that disappointed this junior cartographer- where's the street map? Schoolboy error, surely?


A Few Minutes In the Absolute Elsewhere
A Few Minutes In the Absolute Elsewhere
Price: 7.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine slice of the New English Psychedelia - bring a sugar lump..., 6 Jan 2010
Like a recurring bad dream, of Arrowe Hill are back on the racks with new album 'A Few Minutes in the Absolute Elsewhere', their third for the most haunted label in England, Ouija Board Records. As devoted to Beefheart & Riviera-era Stones, Rimbaud & 'La Nouvelle Vague' as they are to Syd Barrett & Stephen King, Can & Crazy Horse, this witchy baker's dozen of brand-new songs cements their peerless reputation as England's most hexadelic Acid Expressionists & will plague your subconscious for years to come.

Available as an unlimited download from all the (un)usual suspects & as a strictly limited 12" LP, occulted within a hand-stamped brown card mailer, lyric insert, four exclusive postcards & available in two different covers, 'A Few Minutes in the Absolute Elsewhere' is indubitably their finest collection of land-lubbing sea shanties, slide-guitar fodderstompfs, understated psyche-volk requiems & death disco freak-outs to date.

But please...don't have nightmares.


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