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Kelvin J. Dickinson (Leeds, England)
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Love/Hate
Love/Hate
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £10.17

5.0 out of 5 stars THE GREAT DIVIDE, 12 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Love/Hate (Audio CD)
Well, at least if opinion is anything to go by. But make no mistake, 'Love/Hate' is a superb follow-up to 'Everything Is', it just requires a little longer to get used to, that's all. It is, of course, a given that bands evolve and their sound changes but the essence of what made NINE BLACK ALPS so damn adrenal in the first place is still very much in evidence.

'Bitter End' opens the album and, I have to say, at first I was a little concerned that the jagged edges so raw and exposed on their debut had been softened beyond rightful expectation. Common sense and logic soon prevailed, however; more a case of the band presenting a deliberately mainstream production with the emphasis on melody, and possibly a shot at the charts to boot. So I needn't have worried, it's still a good song. 'Burn Faster' and every track thereafter - with the sole exception of 'Future Wife' (can't pin it down, just plain bleurghh) - shows that they have not lost sight of their reason to exist at very high volumes. And as did 'Just Friends' previously, so did 'So In Love' once again evoke the ghost of Buzzcocks, circa 1978, easily recreating that initial nostalgic smile and a distant urge to, er, pogo (look it up). But the standouts this time around shine very brightly indeed and are the very apt 'Happiness And satisfaction' and 'Heavier Than water'.

Pop/rock/grunge/indie brilliance - love 'em or hate 'em, you really shouldn't ignore them.

VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


Education, Education, Education & War
Education, Education, Education & War
Price: £4.99

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FULL MARKS AND BANG ON, 3 April 2014
So, just imagine you're sitting an exam and this question comes up: Summarise in bullet points the KAISER CHIEFS' new album, EDUCATION, EDUCATION, EDUCATION & WAR. Yes, happy to do that, makes a pleasant change from Lord of the Flies. Okay, thirty minutes, shhh, here we go...

* Tony Blair probably won't appreciate the clever title, so that's a good start. In my opinion, of course.
* Unusual WW1 and beyond-style artwork for the insert but it does reinforce the working-class call to duty theme throughout. No pics of the boys this time around either, unless there's more to those line drawings than meets the eye. No offence, but if so then your guess is as good as mine (suggest no-one lets the artist stray into any high court proceedings as it could only end in confusion and disappointment).
* Ten songs, seven of which are simply excellent. The remaining three 'Coming Home', 'Meanwhile Up In Heaven' and 'Roses' are okay but lack that certain Kaiser something. The singles chart may disagree with two thirds of that analysis, however.
* Bill Nighy may be the new, er, Pete Best (the sixth Kaiser?), judging from his performance in 'Cannons'. Heavy and quite weird, Bill, was there a temptingly helium-filled balloon nearby? 'Cannons' is also the almost-title track, a major pulse-thumping epic. Note to all dwarf-druids: this could turn out to be the new 'Stonehenge', so don't knock it.
* Hard and driving pop music permeates the majority of this album and thank God the quirkiness is still there for all to hear (see directly above). It's what makes the Kaiser Chiefs special.
* A few catchy anthem sing-alongs are included for good measure, especially effective (and amusing) is the slightly creepy laughing chorus of 'Misery Company' and the Adam Ant-type vocal stretches in 'One More Last Song'. The superb 'Bows & Arrows' also has the bonus of a rousing chant, "...we the people/created equal..." Again, all smartly designed to lift us up.
* EEE&W is, on balance, even better than its immediate predecessor 'The Future is Medieval' and proves that maturity hasn't stunted either musical progression or creativity. Whatever the case, the Kaiser Chiefs always like to slip in a little politics and social commentary, but this time it's considerably more to the fore. Fortunately, the extended solos, pained expressions and strange posturing so beloved of the dreaded 'concept' album still seems some way off.
* There's a small but rather sad typo in the printed lyrics to 'The Factory Gates' which could only have been set by a younger member of the art department. Michael Palin may be no spring chicken but, please, it's Alan Whicker (not Wicker, fGs) and HE had his passport stamped first, tch.
* Every member of the Kaisers puts in a great performance and Ricky Wilson's voice is in particularly good shape. He remains an integral part of the band's overall personality and sound - that plus an amiable and well-adjusted transition to tv...I predict if not a riot, then at least an enhanced set of future career opportunities for the frontman (he won my vote just for saying 'records' when he really meant 'cds'). Now that's cool.
* There are times when the production gets very dense and the sound is a little murky as a result, as though every instrument in the studio cupboard - with the possible exception of the kazoo - just HAD to be used, sans restraint.
* There's a new drummer in town hammering on the skins but, yeah, he seems to have slotted in nicely. Let's hope he's from Yorkshire, or at least nearby.
* The songs that stand out most and resonate unconditionally with my musical tastebuds are: 'The Factory Gates', 'One More Last Song', 'Bows & Arrows' and 'Misery Company'. Total winners. And 'Ruffians on Parade' and 'Cannons' are themselves only a stone's throw from the top spot.
* This album will probably not feature on TB's wish list. His loss.
* Finally, and most importantly: five albums in and Leeds' finest are still at the top of their game. A few minor quibbles and concerns maybe (e.g. don't ever do a Coldplay and lose your unique personality), but a five-star product all the same. It will be played often and loud.

That's it, time's up, pens down, please try to file out in an orderly manner. Yes, not bad this education thing.

VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

POSTSCRIPT:
I saw the Kaiser's at their Doncaster Racecourse concert only a few days ago (28.06.14) and they were fantastic live. With the kind of back catalogue they possess you can imagine the set list delivered in spades. All the band gave it everything and Ricky Wilson showed yet again just why he is such a force of nature, bouncing all over the stage, belting out some great vocals and not disappointing with his trademark witty banter between numbers, as the following exchange demonstrates...

RW: "Put your hands up if you've seen us play live before"
(Quite a few of the audience do just that, cheers)
RW: "Okay, put your hands up if this is your first Kaiser Chiefs gig"
(Quite a few others of the audience, including me and my wife, duly oblige, further cheers)
RW: "Okay...now put your hands up if you've seen us more than ten times"
(A small but very vocal number of the audience proudly let themselves be known)
RW: (slight pause, wicked grin) "You sad b-ds!"

Ouch. Perfect comic timing.

An unqualified success amid some noisy (albeit enthusiastic) race punters and the ever-present drizzle. What a night.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 23, 2014 3:19 PM BST


Halycon Days and Cyanide Nights: Tranquillity Publishing Anthology 2014
Halycon Days and Cyanide Nights: Tranquillity Publishing Anthology 2014
Price: £1.86

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A CLASSIC COLLECTION, 3 Feb 2014
HALCYON DAYS AND CYANIDE NIGHTS is the perfect title for the second anthology from Tranquillity Publishing. Neatly summing up a distinctively high-calibre bunch of new short stories, I guarantee you'll be reading long into the short hours. Subjects covered are many and varied and there's an international flavour in both authorship and settings. Even the cover catches the imagination; I was particularly struck by faint echoes of those old Pan Books of Horror Stories and how they, especially as a child, tapped effortlessly into one's Seriously Primal Fears. It seems appropriate at this juncture therefore to sum up by quoting Stewart Lee, who said: 'I'll give it to you straight, like a pear cider that's made from 100% pears'...which means you'll also experience a glut of similarly heightened emotions with this fantastic selection. Boom!

A book which succeeds on every level, it's well worth staying up (very) late for. Buy it (and a few sleeping tablets) now.

STRONGLY RECOMMENDED
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 4, 2014 10:03 AM GMT


Everything Is
Everything Is
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars PEAK TIMES, 12 Dec 2013
This review is from: Everything Is (MP3 Download)
Yes, the major and most noticeable influence here is best represented on tracks 1 and 3, but also listen to tracks 5 and 9...Buzzcocks, anyone? Given NINE BLACK ALPS' geographical origins this seems to make some kind of cosmic sense to my mind and their debut album, which is both grungy and intelligent in equal measure, appears to bear this out with its rough-edged pop perfection. The quality of songwriting on display is simply outstanding; 'Unsatisfied' and 'Behind Your Eyes' are perhaps the twin pinnacles but the final number, 'Southern Cross', carries the weightiest production and ends the album in real style.

VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


Wondermints
Wondermints
Offered by jim-exselecky
Price: £8.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THE VIBES ARE GOOD, 7 Mar 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Wondermints (Audio CD)
The WONDERMINTS, yet another late discovery for me, this time over fifteen years late. Conversely, there's a timeless beauty to much of this album so maybe I'll forgive myself. But this is also as close to American pop perfection as it's likely to get: fine musicianship and meticulously crafted harmonies and melodies with just the right amount of edge - without which, I guarantee, I wouldn't otherwise have gone near. The Beach Boys are an important influence here and several tracks bear the style and intelligence only Brian Wilson would have brought to a song once upon a time, and the effect is powerful and evocative. Lyrically, there's a pleasing off-the-wall eccentricity to certain numbers in addition to one of the weirdest samples, taken from my favourite film of all time, 2001: a Space Odyssey. So, the vibes are good, there's a glut of unusual chords, and that suits the (musical) tastebuds just fine. There's even a reference to Lost in Space in the album's artwork(!?) You'll find all this and more.

STANDOUT TRACKS: Not an inferior one amongst them but PROTO PRETTY, GLOBAL VILLAGE IDIOT, PLAYTEX AVIARY and CARNIVAL OF SOULS are the best. Other interesting tracks you should check out on Youtube are AUSTIN POWERS, the (rejected) COORS AD song and a low-key but excellent version of Abba's KNOWING ME KNOWING YOU.

Oh, and yes I (now) know the Wondermints formed part of Brian Wilson's backing band when he played his complete Pet Sounds album live in London a few years ago. Life imitates art imitates life imitates...next stop, Bali.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


Tales of Tremendous Tragicide: Tranquillity Publishing Anthology 2013
Tales of Tremendous Tragicide: Tranquillity Publishing Anthology 2013
by J. Banks
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, 19 Feb 2013
There's no drama without conflict...simply doesn't work without it. Drama without conflict is like a pencil without lead: kind of pointless. It's fortunate then that this book has conflict in spades. Fifteen very different short stories, fourteen of which I can tell you right now are seriously worth your time. The remaining one, well, I couldn't possibly say, you'll just have to decide for yourself.

Q: How so?
A: Because I'm one of the contributing authors and I guess that's MY conflict of interest.

Now if you think such a revelation somehow compromises the following PLEASE don't read any further. But that would be a shame because, check me out, I've always been straight with my opinions. Anyway, it's up to you, not down to me, so here goes...

TALES OF TREMENDOUS TRAGICIDE is a bold and appealing anthology in which everyone and everything gets put through an emotional ringer of some kind. From the contemporary to the historical, we are presented with stories that span the globe: THE ENGLISH ROSE AND THE CAPOEIRISTA, ASIA WITH AMY, CAPITAL PUNISHMENT, CHINA DOLL; stories that require a taste for blood and a strong stomach: DIAS OF DISGRACE, LENNON PANG ONO; stories featuring unusual, sometimes comical, protaganists: FLIES, PLATE; stories where death is never straightforward: THE DEVIL'S LOST CHILD, NIGHT AT THE RIVER, THE WARD; and stories where love takes on many forms and faces: THE WEEPER, GIRL IN THE BLUE DRESS, A STORM AND A TEACUP. But what ties them all together is the process of change, a powerful, costly and, at times, terrible thing. Nothing ends where it began, no reset buttons are pushed and happy endings are only to be found in the sweet dreams of children. Actually, even they're not exempt...

Each author has their own unique style, demonstrating an abundance of invention and wit and it's what makes this anthology so rewarding. Look out for future developments from these guys.

As for the cover, a clever montage, it's yet another little pleasure trying to identify which element comes from which story. And who is that funny looking guy with the guitar?

Tales of Tremendous Tragicide, Volume One, a worthy effort from Tranquillity Publishing. Oh, and if you've been counting you may have noticed one story missing from the above, the one that falls under, you know, conflict of interest - shhh - the one I can't mention. But is it any good? Well, even if I whispered quietly that it most certainly was blah blah, etc etc, I would have to shoot you. Or me. And I couldn't do that. However, were you to come across my evil twin, a person with no moral standing WHATSOEVER, he'd probably say-

VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


Irwin Allen Television Productions, 1964-1970: A Critical History of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost in Space, the Time Tunnel and Land of the Giants
Irwin Allen Television Productions, 1964-1970: A Critical History of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost in Space, the Time Tunnel and Land of the Giants
by Jon Abbott
Edition: Paperback
Price: £30.64

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE FANTASTIC FOUR, 11 Oct 2012
IRWIN ALLEN's quartet of classic tv series - VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA, LOST IN SPACE, THE TIME TUNNEL and LAND OF THE GIANTS - never quite got the exposure they deserved on this side of the pond. Of course they were aired, and repeated, but over time seem to have been eclipsed in the British Public's memory largely by Gene Roddenberry's STAR TREK, the ultimate future behemoth of American network science-fiction.

I'm therefore very grateful that JON ABBOTT has written such an excellent critical appraisal of these particular shows. But this is no dry reference book. Far from it. It's clear from the outset that the author has a deep affection for Allen's output and he's not shy to admit it, but neither is he afraid to highlight the many inconsistencies and absurdities associated with a producer known primarily for being a showman. We're told that spectacle was the name of Irwin's game and sometimes logic could suffer as a result. So when you think of a combined total of 274 episodes over 6 short years, it's not overly surprising that assaults on coherence and the overuse of stock footage were common misdemeanours, but Abbott is also right to point out that our weekly trips via sea, space, time and outsized environments were seldom dull. And, more often than not, we were rewarded with a box of delights within the framework of, let's not forget this, some conceptually stunning ideas: a nuclear supersub, patrolling the oceans, battling Cold War enemies, natural disasters and alien invaders; a cowardly saboteur wrecking a space family's mission to colonise Earth's nearest habitable world; a top secret government time-travel project, on the verge of being closed down, losing two of its most dedicated scientists within the 'infinite corridors of time' in their attempts to prove it successful; a transatlantic space flight being sucked into a vortex and crashing on an Earth-type planet inhabited by giants. Pretty exciting stuff I'd say. Add to that a glut of likeable characters, great sets, convincing miniatures and outrageous special effects - ignoring those ghastly puffs of smoke masquerading as explosions - and there you have it: textbook Irwin Allen. Not heavy, not deep, just very entertaining.

And all this is brought superbly to life in the form of episode reviews and fascinating overviews, including substantial information about the regular casts, guest stars, directors and various production personnel. Especially interesting to me were details and comments about the relatively small group of writers Allen used across his four productions (some of whom performed cost-cutting miracles by recycling props, plots and stock footage to an almost surreal degree). In fact, there's so much to get your teeth into here that you'll find yourself revisiting this book many times over. I certainly have, and recently in conjunction with the UK DVD releases of Voyage and Time Tunnel. Okay, my one minor niggle is that it doesn't have a colour photo section - that would have been nice, especially given the asking price. Other than that...

I'd like to finish by saying that Jon Abbott has produced a very worthy and compelling read. His style is open and accessible, yet knowledgeable and authoritative. I like that, and having read the book, I certainly feel more empowered to discuss each show's respective merits with confidence and clarity. Not bad for a (confession time!) middle-aged Trekkie. And to top it all off, I was very happy to discover that Jon's a Brit like me!...icing on the cake as far as I'm concerned.

Don't forget, apart from being a highly enjoyable read in its own right, this book is also an invaluable companion piece to classic fantasy television from a bygone era - ideal for specific and casual genre fans alike.

VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

PS: My favourite shows in order: (1) Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. (2) The Time Tunnel. (=3) Lost in Space & Land of the Giants


Spaced Out - The Very Best of William Shatner & Leonard Nimoy
Spaced Out - The Very Best of William Shatner & Leonard Nimoy
Price: £4.92

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WHERE NO VOICE HAS GONE BEFORE/INSANELY LOGICAL, 5 Sep 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
So bad it's good. Really. Just keep telling yourself that as STAR TREK's WILLIAM SHATNER and LEONARD NIMOY (photon) torpedo their way through some truly incredible songs, including poems and Shakespearean dialogue. Both actors released albums in the late Sixties and early Seventies to capitalise on their onscreen personas and this is a 24 nugget joint compilation of their 'finest' moments. Nimoy, the guy with the ears, is clearly also the guy with the voice. It's not a thing of great beauty, but he can at least hold a few on-pitch notes together (the poptastically bizarre BALLAD OF BILBO BAGGINS, however, does seem a bit of a stretch, even for a Vulcan's vocal chords). Shatner, on the other hand, 'performs' his songs in a manner that suggests murder has always been legal and is likewise something to celebrate. Over and over again. There's a certain something about his delivery of LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS and IT WAS A VERY GOOD YEAR that does actually make you feel we're on an extended 'trip' through space - but, sadly, without the required spacesuit. And Nimoy's version of EVERYBODY'S TALKIN' only confirms (or compounds) this arguable felony. His A VISIT TO A SAD PLANET - narrated in Spock's deadpan logical tones - is hilarious, containing as it does one of the least surprising surprise endings EVER recorded; someone really must have believed at the time that such a 'reveal' would blow all who heard it away into a higher dimension of elevated thought. Well, if the physical manifestation of that is coughing one's much-needed drink back up and out one's nostrils then yes, result. Hmm, just as well that in space, as the strapline not-quite goes, no-one can hear you choke and splutter.

1. King Henry The Fifth - William Shatner
2. Elegy For The Brave - William Shatner
3. Highly Illogical
4. If I Had A Hammer (The Hammer Song)
5. Mr. Tambourine Man - William Shatner
6. Where Is Love
7. Music To Watch Space Girls By
8. It Was A Very Good Year - William Shatner
9. Ruby Don't Take Your Love To Town
10. Hamlet - William Shatner
11. A Visit To A Sad Planet
12. Abraham, Martin and John
13. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds - William Shatner
14. If I Was A Carpenter
15. How Insensitive - William Shatner
16. I'd Love Making Love To You
17. Put A Little Love In Your Heart
18. Sunny
19. Gentle On My Mind
20. I Walk The Line
21. Ballad Of Bilbo Baggins
22. Everybody's Talkin'
23. Both Sides Now
24. Spock Thoughts

SPACED OUT is an artefact of its time by two artefacts of their time, both shoehorned together for our entertainment. Maybe something to look at askance - with the dead weight of modern cynicism and disbelief a mere heartbeat to one side - because, in the final analysis, this coming together of two very different talents is also a heap of FUN.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


Sylvester and Friends [DVD] [2011]
Sylvester and Friends [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Various
Price: £3.30

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THE REAL McCOY, 29 Jun 2012
Yes, I know, in these supposedly enlightened times there's so much to find fault with here, from the lisp-deadly sufferin' succotash!, and similarly-speech-soaked-slobbering upwards - BUT the animation and vocal talent and the crazy storytelling knocks it all into perspective. No complications, just good vs bad vs very very stupid, with lots of comic slapstick violence inbetween. Best enjoyed in that frame of mind.

Classic post-war cartoons, massively successful, many of which continued through some pretty humourless times, including the McCarthy and Cold War eras. Try Sylvester, Tweety and all the other Warner Bros. animated characters, they're too good to (dis)miss.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


Wile E Coyote and Friends [DVD] [2011]
Wile E Coyote and Friends [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Various
Offered by Jasuli
Price: £5.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars WHACK ME, ACME, 28 Jun 2012
Yes, I know, in these so-called enlightened times there's so much non-pc stuff to find fault with here - BUT the animation and vocal talent and the crazy storytelling knocks all that into perspective. No complications, just good vs bad vs very very stupid, with lots of slapstick violence and falls from a great height inbetween. Best enjoyed in that frame of mind. First prize to Wile E Coyote for never, ever giving up on that damn Roadrunner.

Classic post-war cartoons, massively successful, many of which continued through some pretty humourless times, including the McCarthy and Cold War eras. Try this and all the other Warner Bros. animated characters, they're too good to (dis)miss.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


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