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John Heaton

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Isabella of Angoulême
Isabella of Angoulême
by Erica Lainé
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Tangled Up In Blue, 19 April 2017
This review is from: Isabella of Angoulême (Paperback)
This book covers a not very well known chapter of English history (Magna Carta excepted) with fascinating period detail down to the clothes and culinary delights of the period. The characters of Isabella and John are fleshed out so the latter is not just the one dimensional bad king he is often portrayed as, rather a fundamentally bad king (and person) with a couple of small redeeming features! Isabella is a troubled and rather tragic soul, thrust into the limelight at a very tender age with not too much say in the matter. It makes for some pretty unsettling reading in places as this was centuries before any kind of emancipation for women (Isabella was just 12 when John married her for example). But she was still able to wield some influence, not least in the abundance of healthy children she produced. She also stuck up for the strategic importance of the Channel Islands in the wake of the loss of Normandy and death of the King, insisting that they should remain with the Crown. As they have to this day, thankfully.
All in all, this book is an enjoyable read and a timely reminder that the tensions within Europe are age old, for better or for worse. I'll settle for today's world any day however as we've come a long way from these barbaric, albeit fascinating, medieval times.

Gilbert And Sullivan: A Biography
Gilbert And Sullivan: A Biography
by Hesketh Pearson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ... the years and this is up there with the best. Written at a time when some of his ..., 24 Oct. 2016
I have read many books on G&S over the years and this is up there with the best. Written at a time when some of his sources were first hand, it has a definite authenticity. Not the longest book in the world but very well written and full of Pearson's wonderful dry humour. Particularly strong on the complicated (and rather) tormented character of Gilbert who seemed to be always finding a play on words even when he wasn't writing. My favourite is when an American lady asks him if Bach (she pronounced it 'Baitch') is still composing. "No madam" replied Gilbert. "I believe he is in the manner of DE-composing". Thouroughly recommended.

Doctor Who - Survival [DVD] [1989] [1963]
Doctor Who - Survival [DVD] [1989] [1963]
Dvd ~ Sylvester McCoy
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 28 Sept. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Great...everything as expected, thanks

Two Virgins
Two Virgins

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Annoying, 3 Sept. 2014
This review is from: Two Virgins (Audio CD)
In case any of you Beatles fans are tempted to fork out money for this piece of rubbish, don't bother. Yoko would produce far more accessible music in the 1970s on albums such as 'Approximately Infinite Universe' (1972) and 'Feeling The Space' (1973), not to mention her important contributions to 'Double Fantasy'. But here it is a joke. In my opinion, although John would surely disagree, this album is 95% Yoko and none the better for it. It is albums like this which encouraged people to think that she was behind the Beatles' break up. Which is complete bollocks of course. The band had run its full course by 1969 and the break up was entirely natural. OK so they made love at dawn after completing this garbage which may be of historical interest. But Lennon's contributions to The White Album (just before) and to Abbey Road and of course his erstwhile solo career (after) are in a completely different league to this. This is not music. It's not even avant garde of an acquired taste (which say McCartney 2 was). Dismissable.

If you want vintage Yoko then listen to 'Walking On Thin Ice' (1981) or 'Yang Yang' (1972) for example. Or 'Dog Town' (1981). This album is an embarrassment to all parties involved.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 9, 2015 12:38 PM GMT

The Beatles - All These Years: Volume One: Tune In
The Beatles - All These Years: Volume One: Tune In
by Mark Lewisohn
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £25.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive, 9 Mar. 2014
I have just finished this 840 page book which must be the longest I have ever read. It is definitive. Don't be put off that there are more than 600 pages before Pete Best leaves. Every page has a revelation. The book is written with humour, objectivity and an amazing attention to detail, plus a really impressive historical context. I will have to checkout the extended version, but even this 'shorter' version is extensive. Don't be put off by its length. This book is miles ahead of Philip Norman, Peter Brown or even Carr and Tyler, a personal favourite. A gripping read which finishes at the end of 1962, and it leaves you gasping for the years ahead. Just a little depressing that we have to wait years for the next two volumes. If you need a reason to stay alive another 5 to 10 years,then this is it :- )

Straight Up
Straight Up
Offered by marvelio-uk
Price: £12.87

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Badfinger's Sgt Pepper, 25 Feb. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Straight Up (Audio CD)
I know the band came to hate the Beatles comparisons. I didn't discover this album for more than ten years after its release (it was pretty much unavailable),but I can still stay that this is a glorious album with three great songwriters, which only The Beatles (1965 to 1970) and Fleetwood Mac (1975 to 1987) have achieved in my opinion. This album is notable for its crisp production, really showcasing the band's sound better than all their albums, 'Wish You Were Here' (1974) excepted.
This album sees the peak of Pete Ham's songwriting. 'Baby Blue' is just a perfect rocker, improving on the creditable 'No Matter What' from the previous album 'No Dice'. And how great was it to see it used at the climax of 'Breaking Bad', possibly the best TV series ever. Too bad Pete is not here to see this belated and great recognition. Never have understood why he did what he did,but that's another story. 'Take It All' is a moving opener, but even here he displays the lack of self confidence that would kill him in the end,along with Stan Polly's management that totally screwed them of course. Bastard. 'Day After Day' is an absolute classic. Say No More (good album from 1981, also another story :- ). 'The Name of The Game' is sublime but I'm not convinced that the George H produced version improves on the earlier acoustic driven version. Seems like he preferred the 'Isn't It A Pity' sound. Joey Molland contributes at least two classics: 'I'd Die Babe' (here George's production is superb) and the acoustic classic 'Sweet Tuesday Morning' which is perhaps his most affecting song ever. 'Suitcase' is also decent although a little too Georgified perhaps. The rest of the album is of a high standard,there is not a weak number among them, and thankfully Todd Rundgren's production is spot on. Tom Evans contributes 'Money' and 'Its Over' and both are inspired but one has to ask: why is Tom only contributing two solo songs (or less) per album from this album onwards (if not before). Unless you count outakes. Joey Molland was already becoming more of an equal songwriting partner to Pete. And Tom's lack of new material (or was it lack of interest or too many drugs? I doubt it was lack of talent) is to the detriment of all their albums post 'Magic Christian Music' (1970).
But this album survives that,and stands a glorious album from 1972 when the ex-Beatles' output was at their lowest ebb. I think all four of the Fab Four must have been secretly jealous, although they would never admit it :- )


2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Muddy Waters, 25 Feb. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Ass (Audio CD)
This is the version of 'Ass' to get but it remains a frustrating experience. The production,although improved upon, is still murky. The balance is skewed, five songs from Joey, versus two each from Pete and Tom and once from Mike. Let's review the contribution of each:
Pete: 'Apple Of My Eye' is a decent ballad marred by bad production (the drums are buried basically), and a somewhat melodramatic lyric. Interesting to note that the early version,here as a bonus track, is far superior. 'Timeless' tries hard to be epic and it has its moments (again the bonus version is superior). But let down by twee lyrics which are quite annoying if the truth be told. And that's it from Pete Ham on this album. The opener and the closer, and neither up to his usual high standards. Not what we'd come to expect (not that i was around to hear it at the time! :- )
Tom 'Blind Owl' is a good rocker but the production lacks punch (I can imagine what Todd R would have done with this one!) 'When I Say' has a nice melody but a weak overly sentimental lyric. Nice guitar solo.
Joey: Two 'Straight Up' rejects which are both decent but rejects none the less. Then we have 'Icicles' which is OK but again a bit weak lyrically. 'Constitution' is a heavy Cream-like rocker with some accomplished guitar work. But it's pretty generic and not much of a song really. 'Get Away' is probably the most listenable as it's fun and heartfelt. Production is lacking again, even on the remastered version. It's a bit controversial to say this but I think the bonus track 'Regular' is my favourite Joey track of this collection. Because it offers some much needed humour alongside most of its heavy cousins. 'Ass' is a heavy album and the band obviously dismissed this one as it wasn't heavy enough. Shame. 'Do You Mind' is another creditable Joey bonus track, no doubt rejected for the same reason.
Mike: Cowboy. This is the album's absolute highlight in my opinion. Which is a bit like choosing the Ringo track as your favourite on a Beatles record. Perverse maybe, but I'll stick by this song. It never fails to raise a smile with its hilarious carefree lyric and the guitar solo is sublime. The production for once is perfect.
So this is a curious album, full of promise and the odd bit of inspiration but overall the band seems bogged down in trying to create a heavy sound. Which may have worked live I don't know (not sure) but here the songwriting for the most part gives way to a manufactured sound which doesn't convince me. Thankfully they were to return to form two years later with the sublime 'Wish You Were Here'. This album sees the band trading water in the midst of a label change and all the trepidation that no doubt entailed. 3 stars not 4 because of the sloppy production and the lack of chestnuts. But it has its moments folks.

Man on the Run: Paul McCartney in the 1970s
Man on the Run: Paul McCartney in the 1970s
by Tom Doyle
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.99

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Authentic, 13 Jan. 2014
I have read many Beatles and Beatles solo books in the last 35 years and it takes something to teach me things I didn't know. This book taught me plenty,helped by his access to Paul and several Wings members. I love the bit where Doyle askes McCartney about hypothetical Beatles albums from the 1970s. I once compiled four Beatles double albums from the solo work in the 1970s. The last one,covering 1976-1980 made more difficult by the absence of Lennon material to choose from. Here it is only touched upon, but full marks to Tom Doyle for at least canvassing Paul's opinion (although Jet with Imagine and My Sweet Lord doesn't make sense chronologically. Rather Uncle Albert than Jet me thinks!) The book covers the 1975-6 period especially well and the London Town recording sessions. I personally would have like more assessment of the songs. I didn't agree with his favourites from Red Rose Speedway. I like One More Kiss and the medley the best,and Big Barn Bed mind you! And My Love of course. Seems like Paul has chosen to not even remember the medley. OK it's not Abbey Road but all the segments except Lazy Dynamite work for me. Hands of Love in particular. Get One The Right Thing is my least favourite. Horses for courses I guess. This book is very fair in its assessment of various rumours,unlike Guilliano's Blackbird which is just too sensationalist. I don't trust Jo Jo Laine/Petrie's memories too much. An opportunist if ever there was one. Thanks Tom for writing about 70s Paul,if not forgotten then surely underrated. I'm sure Lennon's comment about The Long And Winding Road being Paul's last gasp was only made comparing his 70s work to his unsurpassable contribution to The Beatles. Fascinating to wonder whether Lennon was watching Paul's interview with US TV on November 27 1980 less than two weeks before he was killed. I hadn't made that connection before. It seems strange that Paul was not asked about Double Fantasy (released 10 days earlier) in that interview,instead being asked about a Lennon derogatory remark. Typical of the press unfortunately. Good book,with a good ending. Denny Laine is given fair coverage but it's interesting that Paul hardly mentions Denny Laine in his interviews,which is a pity in my opinion as he contributed a great deal. Now that is one reunion I'd love to see :-)
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 13, 2014 10:31 PM GMT

Flaming Pie
Flaming Pie
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £11.99

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Back To Basics, 12 Nov. 2013
This review is from: Flaming Pie (Audio CD)
Coming after the Beatles' Anthology project, Paul produces some sublime music. If not as always uniformally. Here goes:
The Songs We Were Singing Nice wistful opener, but lacking a little variety (eg a middle eight) to make it truly memorable. 7/10
The World Tonight the second single and it has it moments. But as a song it's not too special 7/10
If You Wanna Pleasant but nothing special 6.5/10
Somedays McCartney classic,sublime 10/10
Young Boy Good first single,I really like this. Nice guitar solo. But the ending goes on too long (a bit like Back Seat Of My Car) 8.5/10
Calico Skies Very nice ballad, especially the melody 8.5/10
Flaming Pie Amusing lyric and good sound,if not much as an actual song 7/10
Heaven On A Sunday Nice but too derivative to be a classic 7/10
Used To Be Bad Pretty bad 5/10
Souvenir Lost little gem right here, nice production from J Lynne 8/10
Little Willow Classic, especially the middle section when the piano comes in 9.5/10
Really Love You featured Ringo but should have NOT have been released 3/10
Beautiful Night I love it,and Ringo's singing on the last chorus is a delight 9/10 :-)
Great Day Reflective closer 6.5/10

The best moments here lift this album above most of Paul's output post Wings for me.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 12, 2013 9:53 PM GMT

Flowers In The Dirt
Flowers In The Dirt
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £19.99

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Return To Form, 12 Nov. 2013
This review is from: Flowers In The Dirt (Audio CD)
After the questionable output from Paul post Tug Of War here was the long awaited return to form. And by no coincidence,in time for a huge world tour:
My Brave Face Written with Elvis Costello,this is simply a great single and a great opener. Wonderful bass line by the way 9/10
Roughride interesting work out which was played live on the tour 1989/90. Not bad 7/10
You Want Her Too Less successful Costello collaboration which some reviewer at the time compared to Rubber Soul for some reason. It's OK 6.5/10
Distractions Pleasant,a little better than Footprints (1986) from the same genre 7.5/10
We Got Married Remarkable, this song works well on all levels 9/10
Put It There Totally charming song, tribute to McCartney Senior. 10/10
Figure Of Eight Let down by the production,on the album version at least,but there is a melody in the middle eight so I like this overall 7/10
This One Catchy but too repetitive. Bit like the new single New (2013) 7/10
Don't Be Careless Love Not good, should not have made the cut 3/10
That Day Is Done Wonderful song,great production, great vocal 9/10
How Many People OK reggae song 6.5/10
Motor Of Love Has some nice moments but goes on too long 6.5/10
Ou Est The Soleil? OK Dance number 6/10

So as you can see this album,to use the vinyl analogy,is rather let down by Side 2.But for the first time since Tug Of War (1982) we could celebrate more than occasional magic at last.

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