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Profile for Mike J. Wheeler > Reviews

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Reviews Written by
Mike J. Wheeler (Kingswinford, England)
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Wish You Were Here
Wish You Were Here
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £11.88

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars rarely surpassed, 16 Sept. 2006
This review is from: Wish You Were Here (Audio CD)
This is simply a glorious album. Its very difficult to choose the best Floyd album but to me its between 'Dark Side of the Moon' and 'Wish You Were Here'.

Both the production quality and the musicianship of this album have rarely been surpassed by anyone. The album is of course dominated by "Shine on Crazy Diamond" which if it is really a tribute to Syd Barrett is one of the most moving and fitting tributes ever written. The music of 'Crazy Diamond' is just sublime - even though I've been playing this album for around 25 years I still never tire of it. I always get myself lost in this music no matter what time of day I play it.

Besides 'Crazy Diamond' the rest of the album is also up there with Floyd's best. 'Wish You Were Here' is one of the best acoustic songs ever written and poved that Floyd were more than just a bag of smart electronic effects and production. Both 'Have a Cigar' and 'Welcome to the Machine' show Floyd at their cynical best lyrically.

A must have album for anyone serious about music.


In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
Offered by Assai-uk
Price: £7.10

69 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful discovery, 16 Sept. 2006
I stumbled across this recently. I have to admit that like most people this one had completely passed me by. This is an exceptional album. Utterly exceptional. I can honestly say that this must be one of the best albums I've ever heard. Just such a shame that it has taken so long to get to hear it. How Jeff Mangum didn't make it big I don't know (maybe the bands name!?).

The album is ostensibly a collection of songs inspired by events in World War II and particularly about treatment of Jews and Anne Frank in particular. If this sounds a bit heavy don't worry - musically this work is superbly bright and inventive whilst lyrically it is both fantastically provocative and profound.

Whilst based around the acoustic guitar playing of Mangum, the music benefits from multilayered instumentation including some excellent brass. The pace varies from the slow but heartfelt "Communist Daughter" and "Oh Comely" to the fast rock of "King of Carrot Flowers, Pts 2 and 3" via jazzy interludes of "Holland, 1945". Standout tracks are "Two Headed Boy", "King of Carrot Flowers" and "In the Aeroplane Over The Sea". However all of the tracks here are excellent. Wherever you look on this album there is inventiveness and originality. You can see how this may have influenced later artists as varied as Arcade Fire and Sufjan Stevens.

A wonderful discovery. A definite buy for anyone who likes good music.

10/10. This is by a long way my favourite album. In the few years since I wrote this I really think it's discovery has in many ways affected me and the way I've lived my life. It awakened a passion for music I didn't really know was there. Truly a one off.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 20, 2016 11:25 AM BST


Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
by Jonathan Safran Foer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars witty, insightful and incredibly sad, 10 Sept. 2006
Having really enjoyed 'Everything is Illuminated' I approached this with caution. I was prepared to be disappointed by 'second book syndrome'. However, having read this it seems that Jonathan Safran Foer is a real talent and not a one book wonder. This is modern literature at its best. The book is witty, insightful and incredibly sad.

Like 'Everything is Illuminated' this is a book written from several viewpoints. We have the story of Oskar whose father was a victim of 9/11 searching New York a lock to fit a key he finds in a vase belonging to his father. This is probably the best part of the book and provides its meat. Oskar is 9 years old and has about every hang up you can imagine. In some ways this part of the book reminds me of 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime' though its never stated that the boy has Asperger's syndrome. Oskar is however obsessive and seems to veer strongly towards an autistic personality.

The second and third parts of the book are more in the magical realist style that Foer used for the story of the shtetl in 'Everything is Illuminated'. It follows the relationship between Oskar's Grandmother and Grandfather who is literally dumb and has to communicate by writing. The relationship begins in Dresden immediately prior to the bombing in 1945 and through this provides a sympathetic analogy to the loss of Oskar's father and of course his Grandmother's son in 9/11.

This is a huge achievement considering that 9/11 is still so fresh in everybody's mind. Brave writing that deserves to be read.


Western Digital 60GB Passport External USB 2.0 2.5" Hard Drive
Western Digital 60GB Passport External USB 2.0 2.5" Hard Drive

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worked like a dream first time with Windows XP, 8 Sept. 2006
Wanted this to back up my extensive music collection on the computer. Worked like a dream first time with Windows XP. Not a problem. The computer recognised it straight away. No instructions were necessary. It told you what to do when you connected it. Everything else was just obvious, even to a technophobe like me. Definitely recommend it.


Inside the "Wicker Man"
Inside the "Wicker Man"
by Allan Brown
Edition: Paperback

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars hugely entertaining, 3 Sept. 2006
This is a superb account of the making and subsequent rise to "cult status" of 'The Wicker Man'. It is highly readable throughout and unlike many books in 'The making of...' vein is hugely entertaining. Allan Brown obviously did extensive research for this book and it shows. It takes us through the squabbles and near disasters before the project even got off the ground to the attempts by various people in the film business to bury 'The Wicker Man' by not giving it proper release or publicity, cutting the movie to pieces and finally destroying some of the original film. It's the book this classic film deserves and depicts the British film industry of the early Seventies as a curious and rather quaint, poor cousin of Hollywood. However, the film that came out was a masterpiece and anyone interested in the original film in the wake of the Hollywood remake of 'The Wicker Man' should read this book.


Everything is Illuminated
Everything is Illuminated
by Jonathan Safran Foer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful story, 2 Sept. 2006
I picked this up last year and I must admit it took me two goes before I could get into it. Jonathan Safran Foer's writing style can be a bit intimidating at first but the message is persist, this book is definitely worth it. It's basically in three parts.

First there is the story of Jonathan Safran Foer travelling through the Ukraine to find out what happened to his family during the Nazi occupation - this narrative veers from the hilariously funny to the sublimely sad and is told through the eyes of Alex, Safran Foer's guide in a comedy Ukrainian's pidgin English. The turn of phrase is what I must admit put me off the first time I attempted to read this but actually once you realise what it's about it becomes extremely funny.

The second theme of the book is the tale of the Shtetl over a couple of hundred years to its destruction. This is written in magical realist style similar to Gabriel Garcia Marquez' 'One Hundred Years of Solitude'. This contains beautiful imagery and would be worth reading alone without the other strands.

Thirdly, the book takes on a correspondence between Alex and Safran Foer regarding the magical realist novel that Safran Foer is writing about the Shtetl - again this is at times very poignant but often hilariously funny.

Altogether the book is truly magical. At turns it is sad, depressingly sad and horrifying yet at the same time manages to get you in stitches laughing at the interaction between Alex, Safran Foer, Alex's grandad and a flatulent dog. A wonderful story.


Ghostwritten
Ghostwritten
by David Mitchell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece - as a first novel this shows genius, 2 Sept. 2006
This review is from: Ghostwritten (Paperback)
I came to this after reading 'Cloud Atlas' and 'Black Swan Green'. As I thought that both of those books were truly excellent I wasn't sure that 'Ghostwritten' would be able to match them, being Mitchell's first work. How wrong I was! This is magnificent.

Like 'Cloud Atlas' and to some extent 'Black Swan Green', Ghostwritten takes the form of interconnected short stories (9 of them here) in which the connections aren't just linear (one story leading to another) but network, so that a small piece of information, speech or feeling in one of the earlier stories suddenly takes on greater significance in a later story. But you cannot judge each story individually because the book itself is definitely more than just a sum of its parts. Some people criticise Mitchell's books for not being "novels". I think this is a misplaced criticism. Surely the best novels don't just have a linear narrative with a defined beginning, middle and end. There must be a place for novels that reflect the reality of ideas, people and places connecting via spidery, tenuous networks. If some feel disappointed that the stories seem to end without much happening then I'm sorry, I don't know what to say other than you are missing something in the reading. These are novels about ideas (love, death, birth, the spirit, greed) as much as actions. I couldn't concieve of reading either 'Cloud Atlas' or 'Ghostwritten' in any other way than as a novel. I don't think the book would make any sense if I dipped in and read the stories individually.

The writing itself is masterly. I find it difficult to see Mitchell's influences but for some reason I keep feeling Ray Bradbury about here somewhere - I can't figure why though. I disagree that the characters have no depth as they have no time to develop. I find Mitchell's characters have more depth than most traditional novels. Somehow they seem more human than most novelists achieve.

The stories as I say intertwine so I don't want to contradict what I've already talked about by splitting the stories up, but the high point of the novel for me was "Night Train" where the ideas developed in the preceding chapters really begin to unwind. This was extraordinarily chilling and really tied the book together beautifully.


Margrave Of The Marshes
Margrave Of The Marshes
by John Peel
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Witty, informative, sad and in places hilariously funny, 2 Sept. 2006
I remember John Peel from my adolescent years in the late seventies when listening to his show on Radio 1 gave me an appreciation for a huge variety of music. The man was a complete master in promoting bands and music that would otherwise have never got the airing they richly deserved. I regrettably drifted away from listening to him as I grew up and only in the last few years am I rediscovering the music I used to listen to then. I remember the day it was announced on the radio that he had died and I must admit I was really surprised by my reaction to the news. It really did feel that someone who was close to me or a part of me had died that day and I felt very, very sad. I chose to read this book as I began to realise there was so much more to John Peel than the few years I was a regular listener to his show.

I have to say this is a superb piece of work. It's witty, informative, sad and in places hilariously funny. The first half was written by John himself and takes us to the time when he started DJing in the US in the early to mid sixties. It is excellently written and conveys, in the same way as he always did on the radio, that John was really just an ordinary bloke, what you saw (heard) was the real man.

The second half of the book was written by his wife, Sheila with help from their kids and it perfectly blends and complements John's writing in the first half. It really is an excellent read and at the end so very, very sad.

I would recommend anybody to read this.


The Stranglers, The: Song by Song
The Stranglers, The: Song by Song
by Hugh Cornwell
Edition: Paperback

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read for Stranglers fans, 20 Aug. 2006
This is an excellent book for anybody interested in The Stranglers. They were (and are) truly an iconic group. Easily the most interesting band to come out of the "punk" explosion in the mid to late seventies (though they were never a punk band really). They were never really accepted either by their peers or the music press and their contribution to British rock music is very much underappreciated.

The book is written as a conversation between Hugh Cornwell and Jim Drury a long-time Stranglers fan. It contains Hugh's thoughts on the meanings of the lyrics of all songs written until he split from the band in 1990 and also who was responsible for writing the lyrics and the music. As such this is a great insight for long term fans of the group like myself. Its probably not for anyone who doesn't already know the music really well though. And I would point out that the views are just that of Hugh and not the rest of the band so perhaps somethings have to be taken with a pinch of salt. However for all of that it's a very entertaining read and I recommend any Stranglers fan who hasn't to read it.


F# A# Oo
F# A# Oo
Price: £13.34

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Persist, 16 Aug. 2006
This review is from: F# A# Oo (Audio CD)
I recently started listening to this again after a break of a few months. I feel compelled to write a review on this album. F#a#00 is truly an immense piece of work. It might not catch you first time you listen to it but persist - its worth it. Its a sprawling epic with some of the most beautifully atmospheric music I've ever heard. Better than any other Godspeed album, this is the one that you should buy if you want an introduction to this enigmatic group. It opens with "Dead Flag Blues" - probably the best piece of music they ever wrote - with its trademark voiceover at the beginning of the track. This guy sounds a spit for Lee Marvin. The music really fills you with the emptiness of the plains and a complete feeling of hopelessness.

(When I look back on this now, I read Cormac McCarthy's 'The Road' a while after I wrote this review - the desolation I feel when I listen to this si similar to that I felt when i read that book. Desolate but very, very moving. I'd really recommend this, and sorry this review wasn't as well written as the music deserves.)

Not one to listen to if you're feeling really down, but a piece of fantastic music nevertheless. Defintely 10/10. One of my all time favourite albums now.


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