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Kelvin J. Dickinson (Leeds, England)
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Golden Cleaners
Golden Cleaners
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: 37.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars UNDER THE RADAR, 11 Jun 2009
This review is from: Golden Cleaners (Audio CD)
If you think you know your sounds from the 80s, then the above may come as a bit of a surprise. Flying under my radar, I only found out about them three months ago (or twenty+ years too late) after reading LOST IN MUSIC by GILES SMITH. Smith was the co-founder, and it was he, alongside MARTIN NEWELL, who eventually became THE CLEANERS FROM VENUS.

Produced by XTC's Andy Partridge, there's an element of psychedelic quirkiness to the pop sound (though not entirely unexpected, given Partridge and the brilliant ENGLISH SETTLEMENT). Lyrically clever, with a knowing, almost cheeky edge reminiscent of early SQUEEZE (Newell's sleeve notes are particularly amusing), the overall effect is pleasant to the point of charming.

So it's hard to describe exactly what I hoped I might discover; something just a bit more unusual or different from the era, perhaps? Not the missing chord exactly, but something I hadn't heard before, or at least not often. GOLDEN CLEANERS, a compilation of their best material, partly succeeds in that The Cleaners From Venus are distinctive enough not to be easily mistaken for anybody else, but the weight of expectation (however brief) ended up leaving me feeling slightly disappointed. Despite that - and nearly two-and-a-half decades on - there's still something original and interesting on offer here, so I'm happy to suggest giving Colchester's most overlooked band a try.

MY CHOICE OF BEST TRACKS:
Julie Profumo, Living With Victoria Grey, Girl on a Swing, Sunday Afternoons, In Kingdoms of the Cool, Mad March Hare.

RECOMMENDED

And Finally...LOST IN MUSIC by GILES SMITH
An excellent and beautifully written book. Amongst the many often very funny episodes in Smith's life, it describes how the Cleaners came and then ceased to be. And I can relate to much of his take on the music scene of the late-seventies to mid-eighties, so a 5-Star review will appear at some point.


Under Siege 2: Dark Territory [DVD] [1995]
Under Siege 2: Dark Territory [DVD] [1995]
Dvd ~ Steven Seagal
Offered by WorldCinema
Price: 7.44

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars TUNNEL VISION, 9 Jun 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The ex-Navy SEAL with the singular expression, wispy voice and one-dimensional thinking is back: CASEY RYBACK. And he's ready to do it all over again. Never has so much hairspray (Schwarzkopf, Extra Firm Hold, natch) been put on standby.

Actually, I like this film. I like it because it's impossible to take seriously, despite STEVEN SEAGAL's best efforts to convince us that he's right up there with the gurning-means-gravitas Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone. No, this is strictly B-Movie territory, albeit with a decent budget and plenty of action. Even if you allow for the lame dialogue, Seagal still can't act his way out of a paper cup, BUT - and this is crucial to his popularity - He Can Move. (Looking at his post-millennium work, however, the sad fact is that the big guy loses even that plus to the unavoidable effects of age and an ever-expanding waistline. Not his fault, but it's where the untinentional laughs start to creep in and render every movie following EXIT WOUNDS pretty much a waste of time. The ORANGE cinema ad - the one where he's chasing the CEO asking for more comedy roles - is probably as close to the truth as it gets. Ouch.)

UNDER SEIGE 2: DARK TERRITORY is big, loud and full of dumb spectacle. A bullet-type train is hijacked by terrorists intent on using it as a platform to control military satellites capable of destroying any target on Earth. Thus it's Ryback's 'job' to take out the bad guys, one of whom is the brains behind the scheme, a vengeful computer nerd with an ego problem and a psychotic finger on the button (by-the-numbers in almost every other respect, ERIC BOGOSIAN'S Rod Serling/Twilight Zone impression is a very funny moment, however). It doesn't help matters that our hero's teenage niece is onboard the train as well; a contrivance that provides a few cute moments of exposition and peril, but they're almost completely overshadowed by all the violence and bloodshed - the one thing Seagal does best. Snapping necks, wrists and legs, he's a great choreographer and knows how to get the most from his well-practised moves. The climactic fight between him and the lead terrorist is pure and sustained brutality, back-breaking you might even say (but you'll have to import the US version to see it all, as the UK print has been heavily cut, so beware).

Good model effects of the train exploding and substantial set-pieces using real pyrotechnics create an unusually large sense of scale for an otherwise ridiculous but entertaining 100+ minutes.

And that's why I like this film. It can't ever disappoint on the grounds that it's best appreciated in one way only: by switching off the brain.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


Adiemus: Songs of Sanctuary
Adiemus: Songs of Sanctuary
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: 5.73

5.0 out of 5 stars CALMING INFLUENCES, 9 Jun 2009
Not sure how I first came across the ADIEMUS/KARL JENKINS project, though I suspect it was probably through hearing the title track on Radio 2. Part choral, part African-tribal, SONGS OF SANCTUARY is the definitive Adiemus album, an inspired fusion of musical styles and a strikingly original debut.

The rich, multi-layered vocals provided by MIRIAM STOCKLEY, virtually unaided, combine English cathedral with Serengeti plain to spectacular effect, and by devising lyrics (if you can call them that) in pseudo-latin style, composer Karl Jenkins has created a universality to the listening experience quite unlike anything else. He clearly knows about structuring chords in ways that exert calming influences whilst remaining faithful to the concept of 'sanctuary' as a place where one can feel safe and unafraid.

Yes, it is just possible to see why there may be accusations of pretention and self-indulgence. However, such quibbles are to ignore the fact that this is genuinely classy stuff, too focused and sophisticated to be labelled as lightweight or inconsequential. Sadly, a good but less sophisticated friend of mine once described SONGS OF SANCTUARY rather unkindly as "Whale Song". So, not only did he miss the point by a mile, but by a considerable number of fathoms as well. His loss, but not ours.

Standout tracks include ADIEMUS, TINTINNABULUM, CANTUS ITERATUS, AMATE ADEA and KAYAMA.

VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


Star Trek: The Original Series - Season 2 [DVD]
Star Trek: The Original Series - Season 2 [DVD]
Dvd ~ William Shatner
Price: 13.28

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars STRANGE NEW WORLDS, 4 May 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Excellent remastering of the original STAR TREK SEASON 2 source material. The new CGI Enterprise, planets and stars are seamlessly integrated and the 35mm episodes are given a vivid makeover. Those Starfleet 'red-shirts' have never looked more gloriously doomed (see a bunch of them drop like flies after being attacked by a sweet-smelling alien gas cloud in episode 13: OBSESSION). Fantastic stuff, and there's no doubt that the visual impact on display here would have been just what the creators had in mind over forty years ago, despite lacking the technology and the budget to make it a reality at the time. Has it been worth the wait, then? Absolutely...and yet, in the cutting-edge 21st century, there's still a tiny part of me that can't quite let go of the old 15ft long starship model (complete with rubbish matte lines) in orbit above the same old alien world - Alpha 177 - every other week. Nostalgia can be a double-edged sword.

However, there are many great episodes in Season 2 which really benefit from the CGI treatment, including: AMOK TIME, THE DOOMSDAY MACHINE, THE IMMUNITY SYNDROME, JOURNEY TO BABEL and THE ULTIMATE COMPUTER.

.........................

SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF: A FEW CHOICE MOMENTS REQUIRING THAT EXTRA BIT OF CONCENTRATION...

Episode 3: THE CHANGELING
Uhura's had her mind wiped by a metre-tall space probe called Nomad. Fortunately, the Enterprise has the facilities to retrain and re-educate her. But surely that could take years? Not to mention dealing with the deep psychological trauma associated with such an incident. Apparently not. All you need in the 23rd century, it seems, is Nurse Chapel and a small library-computer screen. Soon be opening those hailing frequencies again, dear.
VERDICT: Utterly Amazing.

Episode 10: JOURNEY TO BABEL
The Tellarite Ambassador, Gav, is an alien with anger-management issues. Hardly surprising given his badly-fitting mask, although it probably lent authenticity to the actor's performance. Clearly someone in the make-up department paying scant attention when that particular episode went before the cameras. Where's Roddenberry when you need him? (Given his penchant for the fairer sex in all their, er, IDIC, probably best not to ask.)
VERDICT: Painfully Obvious. And Obviously Painful.

Episode 4: MIRROR MIRROR
This Parallel-Universe thing...no matter what your start point is, the simple action of stepping on a butterfly, so the theory goes, will cause events to change in the future. Paths that may have run along similar lines to begin with will eventually diverge. Given those circumstances, would the landing party and their evil counterparts REALLY be dealing with the Halkan Council at precisely the same moment in time to allow for a switch? Come on, what are the odds?
VERDICT: Somewhat Unlikely, I'd Say.

EPISODE 26: ASSIGNMENT EARTH
Blatant attempt by Roddenberry to get an entirely different series off the ground. How can you tell? Easy, because Kirk and spock are given very little to do in the third act. And That Is Just Not On. I'd have called my agent long before the focus shifted towards the block of wood masquerading as Gary Seven and his annoyingly dopey 'assistant', Miss Roberta Lincoln. Bad call.
VERDICT: See How You Like Friday Nights At Ten, Buster.

Episode 12: THE DEADLY YEARS
Typical Shatner, too vain to let Kirk suffer natural baldness during the story's rapid ageing mystery. We knew he wore a hairpiece even then but it's been bluff and denial ever since. Mind you, anyone who can emerge unscathed from a Comedy Central 'Roasting' has my everlasting respect.
VERDICT: If The Glue Sticks...

Episode 4 (again!): MIRROR MIRROR
This moment doesn't strictly belong here, but being so unexpectedly cool I reckon it merits inclusion on any terms. Okay, here we go...as Kirk exits the turbolift on the 'mirror' Enterprise, the flat hand (not a fist, a hand) of an assassin thumps him on the face dead centre. A split second later the hand pulls away to reveal a bloodied lip and a disoriented Captain. Yes, there's a rather more cliched fight to follow, but that initial burst of violence certainly comes as a jolt and is excitingly choreographed.
VERDICT: Totally unpredictable and therefore one to cherish.

.........................

So, if you love STAR TREK and can ignore the occasional nagging voice of the inner purist, this is an essential purchase.

VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 5, 2010 4:00 PM GMT


Saw 3  [2006]:Extreme Edition [Blu-ray]
Saw 3 [2006]:Extreme Edition [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Tobin Bell
Price: 10.22

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars MORE THAN A SORE HEAD, 30 April 2009
There is no doubt that SAW III sails pretty close to my tolerance levels in the gore department. Fortunately, it remains an effective and solid continuation of the horror franchise. Hardly mitigation, but clearly some effort has been put into the story of JIGSAW (played superbly by TOBIN BELL), a psychopath who punishes people for wasting their lives in petty or screwed up ways. Having discovered he's terminally ill, he has nothing to lose - and therefore nothing to fear - so, as you might expect, every ounce of his certifiable perspective is invested in ever more complex death-trap puzzles. (A pause here to reflect on the fact that the series hasn't so far descended into utter schlock, as it could so easily have done given the outrageous premise - something, at least, which is to the producers' credit.) One thing is for sure, however: people continue to die. And they do it horribly.

I don't normally like to close my eyes during a film but the snapping of bone and ripping of tendon sets off an automatic response. It's the one weakness in an otherwise blemish-free ability to be strong of stomach in the face of gut-wrenching viscera. I'm not proud of the fact but it does allow me on the other hand to appreciate decent, albeit strong, horror films, including ICHI THE KILLER, THE DEVIL'S REJECTS and the remake of THE HILLS HAVE EYES to name just three (the vile and meritless HOSTEL series, however, belongs entirely in the sewer and has no place even here).

The Blu-Ray experience on SAW III is, whether you like it or not, highly immersive and the screen is often filled with unsettling green hues, lifeless greys and decaying yellows, completely in keeping with Jigsaw's twisted environment. Visible grain is a deliberate and essential part of the atmosphere and the sound is no less grim: beneath the dialogue, there's a pounding, funereal soundtrack kept low in the mix but always around to add extra weight to the scenes of torture and blood-letting.

Not an easy viewing experience and nor should it be, I suppose, but one that nevertheless succeeds by providing entertainment on a base-emotional level - sometimes you just have to go there to realise how good things are elsewhere which, by virtue of it's own crazy logic, ought to make anyone who watches I-V feel glad to be alive(!) Jigsaw would probably have approved of that fortune-cookie philosophy. Me, I'm just trying to keep the lasagne down.

MOST APPALLING SCENE: The head, hands and feet of a drunk driver (who accidentally killed a young boy) tearing then snapping completely after being twisted 360 degrees in opposing directions. Ugh.

RECOMMENDED


Star Trek: The Original Series - Season 3 [DVD]
Star Trek: The Original Series - Season 3 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Lee Bergere
Price: 12.00

42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ENHANCED ENTERPRISE, 29 April 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Excellent remastering of the original STAR TREK SEASON 3 source material. The new CGI Enterprise, planets and stars are seamlessly integrated and the 35mm episodes are given a vivid makeover. It all looks and sounds fantastic and there's no doubt that the visual impact on display here would have been just what the creators had in mind over forty years ago (despite lacking the technology and the budget to make it a reality at the time). Has it been worth the wait, then?

Absolutely...and yet, in the cutting-edge 21st century, there's still a tiny part of me that can't quite let go of the old 15ft long starship model (complete with rubbish matte lines) in orbit above the same old alien world - Alpha 177 - every other week. Nostalgia can be a double-edged sword.

..................

BEST USE OF CGI DEMONSTRATING
What The Format Stands For: Episode 9 THE THOLIAN WEB

LEAST WELL EXTRAPOLATED
Sounds Of The Future: Episode 20 THE WAY TO EDEN

MOST ALARMING ARGUMENT FOR
The Torture Of Innocents: Episode 12 THE EMPATH

OUCH! WORST CASE EVER OF
Stereotype Reinforcement: Episode 1 SPOCK'S BRAIN

FLIMSIEST-LOOKING SOLUTION TO END A WAR BETWEEN
The Ground And Sky Dwellers Of A Mineral Rich Planet: Episode 21 THE CLOUD MINDERS

LEAST FORGIVING CLOSE-UPS OF A NASTY COLDSORE ON
The Lower Lip Of A Female Guest Artist: Episode 18 THE LIGHTS OF ZETAR

COOLEST EXAMPLE OF SHATNER/KIRK FISTICUFFS DURING
An Alien-Enforced Shootout At The OK Corral: Episode 6 SPECTRE OF THE GUN

MOST UNINTENTIONAL LAUGHS ARISING FROM
The Cliched Depiction Of Mental Instability: Episode 14 WHOM GODS DESTROY

..................

Despite being hampered by budget cuts - resulting in a bit less action and a bit more standing around explaining things - Season Three is STILL nowhere near as bad as you may have been led to believe. Great fun throughout, in fact. The original STAR TREK remains the best sci-fi series of them all.

VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 10, 2011 9:27 PM BST


Off With Their Heads
Off With Their Heads
Offered by b68solutions
Price: 3.89

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars TREADING WATER, 28 April 2009
This review is from: Off With Their Heads (Audio CD)
The third album in any band's career is usually an important milestone, sort of a pointer to the future, having taken stock of the past. Not so here. This is simply the KAISER CHIEFS treading water with no real indication of forward musical progression. Which makes OFF WITH THEIR HEADS no worse, yet no better, than either EMPLOYMENT or YOURS TRULY, ANGRY MOB. Why that should matter, given the disposeable nature of pop music, I'm not exactly sure...probably because I've yet to become indifferent towards the band, although I hope that never happens.

However, the production is clean and uncluttered and sounds good played loud. And it's a largely enjoyable, upbeat listen too. Standout tracks include NEVER MISS A BEAT, LIKE IT TOO MUCH, CAN'T SAY WHAT I MEAN and the 'Odd Couple' theme-reminiscent TOMATO IN THE RAIN. Standing out for all the wrong reasons, GOOD DAYS BAD DAYS sounds like The Skids on an even worse day and should really have been left off the album.

The sing-along choruses remain intact (always thinking about the live gigs) but one nice touch which won't be reproduced too easily on stage is the ELO-ish string section on LIKE IT TOO MUCH. It works and it's the only real indication of something different going on. The fact that it's a firmly retro touch doesn't surprise but one thought which occurs, and which I haven't been able to shake, is that this album would not have seemed out of place in 1980; 12" vinyl in a small record shop, in the section marked 'New Wave'.

Ricky Wilson, Nick Hodgson, Simon Rix, Nick Baines and Andrew White have other ideas in mind, however: they all want to be The Beatles - and Wilson even said in an interview that they were looking to make their own 'Abbey Road' - well, not here and not now, Ricky, not with this much reliance on the auto-pilot. And since you go on about school so much, 'must try harder' seems highly appropriate.

In the end, though, the Kaisers are about fun; they make you smile, their songs are infectious with great vocal harmonies, and they come from Leeds - not too bad a standpoint for when the next album beckons. I'll look out for the zebra crossing.

RECOMMENDED


Off With Their Heads
Off With Their Heads
Offered by jim-exselecky
Price: 6.83

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars AUTO-PILOT OVER-RELIANCE, 28 April 2009
This review is from: Off With Their Heads (Audio CD)
The third album in any band's career is usually an important milestone, sort of a pointer to the future, having taken stock of the past. Not so here. OFF WITH THEIR HEADS is simply the KAISER CHIEFS treading water with no significant evidence of musical progression. Why should that matter? I'm not exactly sure...probably because I've yet to become indifferent towards the band, although I hope that never happens.

However, the production is clean and uncluttered and sounds good played loud. And it's a largely enjoyable, upbeat listen too. Standout tracks include NEVER MISS A BEAT, LIKE IT TOO MUCH, CAN'T SAY WHAT I MEAN and 'The Odd Couple' theme-reminiscent TOMATO IN THE RAIN. Standing out for all the wrong reasons, GOOD DAYS BAD DAYS sounds like The Skids on an even worse day and should really have been left off the album. Perhaps there was a shortage of alternatives.

The sing-along choruses remain intact (always thinking about the live gigs) but one nice touch which won't be reproduced too easily on stage is the ELO-ish string section on LIKE IT TOO MUCH. It works and it's the only real indication of something different going on. The fact that it's a firmly retro touch doesn't surprise but one thought which occurs, and which I haven't been able to shake, is that this album would not have seemed out of place in 1980; 12" vinyl in a small independent record shop, in the section marked 'New Wave'.

Ricky Wilson, Nick Hodgson, Simon Rix, Nick Baines and Andrew White have other ideas in mind, however: they all want to be The Beatles - and Wilson even said in an interview that they were looking to make their own 'Abbey Road' - well, not here and not now, Ricky, not with this much reliance on the auto-pilot. And since you go on about school so much, 'must try harder' seems highly appropriate.

In the end, though, the Kaisers are about fun; they make you smile, their songs are infectious with great vocal harmonies. And they come from Leeds. Fine with me and not too bad a place to be at when the fourth album beckons.

RECOMMENDED


Re-Animator (2 Disc Collector's Edition) [1985] [DVD]
Re-Animator (2 Disc Collector's Edition) [1985] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Bruce Abbott
Offered by Films and Figures
Price: 19.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MAD DOCS AND GLORY, 5 Feb 2009
Say hello to HERBERT WEST, re-animator of dead, previously living, tissue. He's a doctor. He's also certifiable...but don't worry, the day-glo green liquid in his syringe is completely harmless. Unless you're a corpse.

This wildly funny and extremely gory film - a classic example of comedy and horror combining to shred the usual expectations - still does the business today, a mere 24 years(!) after it first eviscerated onto our cinema screens. A remarkable achievement by any standards. I just adore the 'teaser', followed by the animated titles sequence with their wonderful orchestral nod to Hitchcock's PSYCHO and yes, absolutely, the remaining 80-plus minutes. If you're in the right mood, there's not a single wrong-footed moment to spoil this show.

And what a show. Watch in slack-jawed amazement Herbert West's obsessive experiments to bring back to life that which has expired, including a distinctly pissed off cat. Stare in wide-eyed disbelief as a severed head plumbs depths hitherto unexplored by your average movie severed head. Pray in silent torment that the final re-animation of a central character justifies the whole catalogue of horror that has preceded this moment.

So why doesn't all this excess leave a nasty taste in the mouth? Because there's a directorial tongue firmly planted in everyone's cheek, that's why. Thank you STUART GORDON and BRIAN YUZNA. Oh, and if you're still not sure, just check out JEFFREY COMBS'/HERBERT WEST'S eye-popping delivery of the classic line: "Of course he's dead, the dosage was too large". On that bombshell, I rest my surgical case.

Boasting a pristine picture and sound transfer, it's easy to say I wish there were more films like RE-ANIMATOR, but something inside is glad it's a one-off - despite the sequels - although you might want to cast a glance at FROM BEYOND.

Having recently been passed uncut, you should consider buying it now - and appreciate a film of barking mad brilliance from a decade of considerable dross.

VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 8, 2011 11:28 AM GMT


From a to B
From a to B
Price: 7.52

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PERFECT SONGS, PERFECTLY FORMED, 5 Feb 2009
This review is from: From a to B (Audio CD)
NEW MUSIK'S first and best album. Ten perfect songs plus b-sides.

A regrettably short then-lifespan for a band - three albums over not-quite four years - but the modest splash they made and the resulting ripples were almost always perfectly formed. And most of the success was due to one man, TONY MANSFIELD, who crafted a new wave electronic sound that was both unique and unmistakably no-one else's. As part of the burgeoning synth movement that sound enabled them to stand out. Conversely, their image (Maplins sales counter assistant/drab boiler suit chic) rendered New Musik almost invisible. That's showbusiness for you.

However, the singles STRAIGHT LINES, THIS WORLD OF WATER and LIVING BY NUMBERS were light, swirly, infectious gems. Populated throughout by regular bass, drums or drum machine, precise electric/accoustic guitars and layers of sharp synths (over which Mansfield sung deceptively simple lyrics) this became the template for the New Musik sound.

The album cover (all grey walls with a folorn daffodil stuck in a glass of water looking for the sunlight) is in stark contrast to the music within. No respite on the inner sleeve either as storm clouds and rough seas threaten to engulf the expressions of our four bemused and windswept day trippers. Note: the magic of owning the original 12" vinyl LP, of course, meant that sizewise you could stare at the content for hours trying to read in some kind of cosmic significance (that's the kind of thing you did when you were eighteen) even if it was simply another routine photoshoot in Margate for everyone else concerned.

A truly original album, full of memorable music. It's as contemporary now as it was in 1980, but it remains special to me because I was there, ready to be swept away right from the start. Happy times.

VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 20, 2010 7:47 PM BST


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