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Mr. C. J. Iredale "juxtapose" (London Town)

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The Mike Leigh Film Collection [DVD]
The Mike Leigh Film Collection [DVD]
Dvd ~ Estelle Harris
Price: £49.94

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why??, 28 Jan. 2010
Why was this released for such a small period of time and now resided in the deleted list of his works? His box set at the BBC is still available. Why delete this? It goes without saying I whole heartedly agree with all the reviewers for this product; Mike Leigh is wonderful and original and he work should be readily available.

Callan - The Monochrome Years [DVD] [1976] [1967]
Callan - The Monochrome Years [DVD] [1976] [1967]
Dvd ~ Edward Woodward
Price: £11.90

60 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clammy, sweatly, angry and totally brilliant!, 13 Jan. 2010
Never have I seen so many sweaty top lips in one hour of television programming! This is however, quite outstanding writing and acting. The whole atmosphere is one of claustrophobia and bubbling anger, topped off with a big dollop of testosterone. Dear Edward Woodward is excellent as the lead role, a man who is really naffed off with his lot in life, the character of Lonely, a kind of cockney Gollum is also great and the whole thing hangs together beautifully. What we have here is what is left in the achieves of Callan made between 1967 and 1969 (some of the episodes have been wiped). Anthony Valentine also plays the psychotic Toby Meres with relish. A true high point of British television. If Network DVD could get their hands on the third and fourth series, that would be fabulous - they do such brilliant work at restoring classic television.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 7, 2011 12:55 PM BST

Full House
Full House
Price: £5.75

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chug-a-lug!, 8 Jan. 2010
This review is from: Full House (Audio CD)
I came upon this fantastic album about 20 years ago and still love it dearly. It was born out of a situation that was neither expected or desired; having just released the seminal Leige and Leif in December 1969, Fairport received another punch in the solar plexus (the band's van crashed on it's way back from a gig at Mother's in Birmingham near Scratchwood services on the M1 and their drummer Martin Lamble died, as did Richard Thompson's then girl friend Jeanie Franks) with the shock leaving of both founder member Ashley Hutchings (to form mark 1 of Steeleye Span) and the wonderful tones and writing skills of Sandy Denny (to go on and form Fotheringay). Down a singer and a bass player the band ran off to a dilapidated pub called The Angel and started writing and looking for a bass played. Despite worries that Dave Swarbrick's musical friends would be olde folkies, they auditioned one Dave Pegg, and a Fairport line up that would be much loved and much missed was created.

The music here is folk rock in the truest sense of the phrase. Walk a while remained in and out of their set ever since, Richard Thompson's song writing was becoming something that made the jaw drop, Mr Pegg's totally original and wonderful bass playing was immediately an unmissable part of their sound (check out Dirty Linen on this album and be amazed; very tricky stuff, but fits perfectly), and knitted well with the drumming of Dave Mattacks, and of course, Dave Swarbrick's fiddle playing is fantastic. No weak links here.

Of note is one of the album's best tracks `Poor Will and the Jolly Hangman', a song by Richard Thompson, which remained unreleased for years, as he was unhappy with his solo! It is a treat of a song and I remember hearing them playing it live and hairs standing on my neck! Wonderful evocative stuff and unmistakably Fairport.

The CD reissue of Full House also comes with a great written piece by Simon Nicol, this is an album you will savour and return to on a regular basis. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Oh, and fab recording and engineering by John Wood of Sound Techniques. One of their best; while the singing sounds unsure of itself on occasion, it is a gem of a record.

Misfits: Series 1 [DVD]
Misfits: Series 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Robert Sheehan
Offered by Amore DVD
Price: £1.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstandingly good!, 6 Jan. 2010
This review is from: Misfits: Series 1 [DVD] (DVD)
I had this suggested to me by a friend who's opinion I value, and with some Christmas money in by hands I bought this without ever seeing a single frame of it. What a fantastic purchase! This has to be one of the best, certainly the most original series I have seen in a long while. The premise has already been well explained (ASBO teenagers, struck by lightening resulting in strange other-worldly powers), but what I really loved about the series are two things.

Firstly, the actors are all completely fabulous; I have never seen any of them elsewhere, but every one is outstanding and to cram them all on to one screen is a major achievement. If I had to choose a favourite, I would say Lauren Socha who plays the chavvy `Kelly', who is understated when it would be all to easy to make this stereotype someone to laugh at. That said, Robert Sheehan has a wonderful creation of `Nathan' to play with and he does so wonderfully.

Secondly, it is a fairly original effort, even if it borrows from other ideas. It starts with humour, goes into fairly creepy territory, is dramatic consistently and wanders into surreal on occasions. A very satisfying mix of styles, and it pulls it off with confidence.

Finally, it finishes so wonderfully, and leads towards a second series with such an emotive edge, I found it fantastic. This was originally shown on E4, is to be shown on Channel 4 soon and will hopefully start the snowball down a hill popularity of the Peep Show. I strongly suggest you buy this, it is a hoot!

Doctor Who - Complete Specials (The Next Doctor/ Planet of the Dead/ Waters of Mars & Winter Specials) [DVD]
Doctor Who - Complete Specials (The Next Doctor/ Planet of the Dead/ Waters of Mars & Winter Specials) [DVD]
Dvd ~ David Tennant
Offered by Bella Salute
Price: £15.25

22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fabulous end to a wonderful Doctor..., 6 Jan. 2010
Opinion is strange; if one is to be open-minded, one should take on board everyone's opinion, no matter where one sits in an argument. That said, some will take a contrary view to anything, sometimes for valid reasons and sometimes to be different. Some works of art are recognised classics and standards, but some will still be in the 0.1% who will dislike for a variety of reasons. In it's own little way, current Doctor Who is a really nice example of this.

The BBC, in both a cost cutting exercise and a means to give the leads of the show (T. Davies, Tennant) more time for external pursuits, decided to not do a full season in 2009, but to do a series of one-offs, and these are presented here. They vary in quality, but are on the whole pretty good.

The Next Doctor (typical Russell T Davies appetite whetter of a name if ever I heard one) is an enjoyable romp with a wonderful performance by David Morrissey, a man who thinks he's the Doctor. But of course, he isn't. The Cybermen are back (not one of my faves, with their slow deliberate stomping) and a new off shoot, the Cybershades (who are frankly, a bit naff, wearing a shaggy black outfit for no adequately explained reason) a stereotypical pantomime villainess and a strange huge steam powered Cyberman towering over a Victorian Cardiff. Good fun non the less, and satisfying as a Christmas Special.

Planet of the Dead was next and was less amusing, due to it's contrived plot, poor casting of a very average actress indeed (putting her in a black cat suit is not making her performance any more credible either), and a bit of a waste of a foreign location. The best bit? The end, with the prophecy of the Doctor's impending doom.

The Waters of Mars was a very typical `Base under siege', not dissimilar to several Patrick Troughton stories in the late 60s. As usual, there was hype generated by Russell T. Davies along the lines of `this is the most frightening story ever, etc'. It wasn't. But it was very enjoyable and touched on areas of the Doctor's personality that had not been touched before; the power he has at his disposal and how he uses it. It tantalisingly lead us to the final two-parter.

The End of Time seems, as my original point suggests, to have got some peoples' knickers in a right old twist. I thought it mostly excellent; John Simm was his usual fabulous, Bernard Cribbins was touching, funny and showed what a great actor he is and it tied up all lose ends of the characters of the first 4 series (possibly too well?), thus leading the way for the future. A criticism would be that Russell T. Davies, when given more time (for this story, 135 mins), he doesn't involve sub-plots or do anything more than we would normally have. Planet of the Dead is a good example of this, and is a consideration for this tale. And hinting Timothy Dalton was in fact Rassilon was questionable, as he was supposed to be dead and gone eons before the Time War. Where did the Master go at the end? Why wasn't that addressed? Who was `The Woman'? To say the usual characters were all finally put to bed, there were some big gaps in the tale, but overall, fantastic stuff, worthy of the hype, and a fitting end to Tennant's Doctor.

There are those amongst us (stand up and be counted) who seem to absolutely hate it. Those strange, backward individuals that seem to think the original series (I omit to use the word classic, as that does a disservice to both the original series and the current one) was consistently fantastic and the current one is some sort of travesty and all involved removed immediately, due to some stories being poor. Isn't that exactly what the original series was? Ropey stories, ill-conceived plots, poor acting, dreadful production values? I'm sorry, but the current series is embraced by the masses, and for good reason. The original limping-dog of a series was removed for equally good reasons. And if you think the current series has some poorer stories and this is a reason for disliking it, take a look at the mid to late 80s out put! One is really on very shaky ground to come up with a coherent argument on why Russell T. Davies' efforts are worth of one star. I can accept you have an opinion, but I think this release worthy of great praise (while acknowledging it's faults), and I can look forward to Matt Smith's Doctor and Steven Moffat's time at the helm. A fitting end and a taster of the next beginning; long may it continue and long may it be as popular as it is.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 11, 2010 8:11 AM GMT

When Giants Walked the Earth: A Biography Of Led Zeppelin
When Giants Walked the Earth: A Biography Of Led Zeppelin
by Mick Wall
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.08

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars How many more times (is this story going to be told)?, 2 Jan. 2010
When this book is good it is great and when it's not, it is really toe curlingly bad. Shame, as if it was editored by someone who could stand up to the mightly Mick Wall, it could have been fantastic.

Where does it shine? It reads well, and covers the story in depth. It fails by assuming the story of Led Zeppelin was (in order of importance and interest) Jimmy Page, then Robert Plant, then John Bonham then some other bloke. Even Alistair Crowley gets a bigger single photo than poor John Paul Jones. He was treated badly by the band, by how the band is seen historically in this day and age and this book carries on the same thought process. Also, the bits of the book written in italics, written about the members and others involved are frankly dreadful.

It also slags off another book on Led Zeppelin, something that comes across as childish and very unprofessional.

Too many negatives? It is a good book, but it is slightly arrogant and one can tell it is the work of someone who has a standing as a rock boigrapher and who's name carries some clout. Perhaps were it by an unknown it would be slightly less sure of itself and be a more balaned read.

Bill Bruford: The Autobiography: Yes, King Crimson, Earthworks and More
Bill Bruford: The Autobiography: Yes, King Crimson, Earthworks and More
by Bill Bruford
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.95

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Far from Hum- drum..., 21 Dec. 2009
I have to say, having seen Bill interviewed on television a number of times, one gets a flavour of how he thinks; he is always a joy and both funny, dry and clear thinking. I was hoping this book would also project the same personality. I was not disappointed.

This book covers his career and goes in depth into his thoughts and emotions. At times very funny and quite cutting; he certainly does not suffer fools at all, but is also quite humble. He is aware who lucky he has been and is never shy of putting that point across. He describes the formation of Yes in a way I have not come across before, the development of the band and his reasons (brave that they were) for leaving to go to King Crimson. I was not aware of the emotional and financial cost this decision made, but as ever, Bill explains himself well and in a most entertaining way.

The book also covers his period in King Crimson, working with the unusual and occasionally difficult Bob Fripp, and his jazz work with his own band, Earthworks. All are very entertaining and as one review complains that this book hangs together as a series of essays rather than an autobiography (and they are right), this is a much easier book to dip into, and for me is a much more satisfactory affair. Not everyone's cup of tea, but if we were all the same the world would be a dull place.

If you have any interest in the man, or his music, this will be a treat for you. I liked it a lot. Nice work, Bill.

"Look-in": The Best of the Seventies
"Look-in": The Best of the Seventies
by Graham Kibble-White
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars La la la la la Look-innnnnnn, 16 Dec. 2009
Look-In, or the 'Junior TV Times' as it was dubbed when it first began it's career was a wonderful children's magazine, looking at the televisual output of ITV in (mainly) the 70s. It limped on through the 80s, and even into the 90s, but it is best remembered for riding the zeitgeist of the 70s, with iconic painted covers of the hip and fashionable of the time - TV programmes and pop culture of the day.

This tome includes articles and strips from 1971 to 1979, thus covering such luminaries as Catweazle, Timeslip, Ace of Wands, Magpie, The Bionic Man, Man about the House, The Bay City Rollers, ABBA, Dick Turpin, Worzel Gummidge, Sapphire and Steel etc. I remember some of the covers so very clearly, which is odd, as I haven't seen them in decades! As other reviewers have suggested, if a nice slice of deep fried nostalgia is your thing, and you grew up in flares on a chopper bike with a sherbert dip in your hand, then this book is for you; you'll love it.

Nursery Cryme (2008 Digital Remaster)
Nursery Cryme (2008 Digital Remaster)
Price: £7.99

40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Play me my song, here it comes again..., 16 Dec. 2009
How did this random situation occur? 3 chaps from Charterhouse Public School, a child actor and the ubiquitous quiet bearded one, get together and write and record a record of breathtaking imagery, originality and structure? I happened over this album by liberating it from a friend's record collection, it had such an affect on me and still does to this day. I can't think of another album (even from the Gabrielesque period of Genesis) that is like this. It sounds like one would imagine a rock band would had it been armed with electric instrumentation at the turn of the last century.

Ok, so the cover is very Victorian in style, the logo for Genesis for the period being taken from a cocoa tin from the period, but I think this has been produced to compliment the recordings and not the other way round. The first track `The Musical Box' was played right up to Gabriel leaving and was still occasionally played as a medley right up to the band's demise. The subject matter could be described as weird at best and is all the better for it. A dark and delicious seam of humour lay at the heart of Genesis from this period and it is apparent in spades on this album, from a child removing their peer's head with a croquet mallet and a man eating plant to a man who cut's off his own toes and serves them in a restaurant; if this sort of thing offends, stay away.

Nursery Cryme can also be acoustic and delicate (For Absence Friends, Collins and Hackett's first penned effort), loud and aggressive with big fat chords (The Return of the Giant Hogweed) or deal with myth and legend (The Fountain of Salmacis), it's range is wonderful, as is the use of the Mellotron they bought off King Crimson - an early string, flute and brass reproducing keyboard one once described as a `sampler in a drinks cabinet', it's icy and eerie sounds really add to this album. Also of not is Steve Hackett's wonderful guitar work, jumping effortlessly from nimble and deft picking to loud and dazzling, he is a very much under-rated played in this day and age. Mike Rutherford also does some wonderful re-tuned 12 string work, and starts his career with bass pedals played by one's feet and giving a warm rich tone (check out 'Seven Stones' for a good example of this). The real star on this album is Tony Banks, who really was the engine-room for Genesis throughout their career, seemingly effortlessly writing chordal progressions that as so his. Collins provides crisp and intelligent drumming (no brainless tub-thumping here) and Gabriel's slightly rasping vocals and wonderfully strange lyrics make for giving the album a strongly defined feel and flavour.

I return to this on album a regular basis and find it a wonderful and diverting piece of music. Those who write this sort of thing off as pretentious (a label given by ignorant journalists in the late 70s) are clearly missing some fantastic writing and very original music, and in an age where originality is mostly either totally missing, or an excuse for poor material. If you are unfamiliar with this record, I strongly suggest you snap up a copy.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 18, 2012 3:11 PM BST

Heavy Horses
Heavy Horses
Price: £5.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ode to an England long gone, 16 Dec. 2009
This review is from: Heavy Horses (Audio CD)
It's weird, I have owned a copy of `Heavy Horses' for probably about 23 years, on both vinyl and CD, and always thought it a weaker version of `Songs from the Wood'. It's not an album I listen to on a regular basis, and I am a bit of a Tull fan, owning all their albums, been to see them and collected lots of memorabilia. Why hasn't it engaged me? Absolutely no idea at all, but for all these years, until very recently, it passed me by.

I stumbled across it, bleary eyed one morning on my Ipod, popped it on and had a listen. What a fantastic piece of work! I am very familiar with the title track, but some other songs (Acres Wild and No Lullaby stand out) have really got under my skin and I have thus been listening and re-listening to them and think I have been somewhat myopic for not getting to grips with them earlier.

This was arguably one of Tull's stronger periods; there was some longevity in the line up, the dual keyboards, despite on paper sounding like a dreadful notion, was working, Martin Barre had yet to start sounding American in his playing and Barrie Barlow was at the height of his playing; a really fantastic and original drummer. Anderson's output was addressing a more rustic theme and the acknowledgement of changes in society and agriculture. As a body of work I find it of a very high standard and I can recommend it highly for anyone with a thirst for this sort of thing. A love of rock, prog, folk or a very English sound, and you will be lapping this up in spades. Can't think why it has taken me so long to `get it'.

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