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C. Quinn "totality denier" (County Louth, Eire)
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Bastards
Bastards
Offered by RareGroove
Price: £6.19

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The real Motorhead, 6 Jun. 2009
This review is from: Bastards (Audio CD)
'Bastards' was Motorhead's first release after the disappointing major label effort 'March or Die' and its title is significant: Bastards was Lemmy's original choice for the band's name, and it's easy to see this album not just as a return to form but as a reboot of the entire Motorhead project. Also significant is that Wurzel was drifting away at the time; his contribution to 'Bastards' is minimal, leaving the band as a three-piece again, finally.

They never put a foot wrong here. The first few tracks are as clinical and eloquent an expression of Lemmy's philosophy as you're ever likely to hear; midway through there is some surprisingly emotional and personal material in 'Don't Let Daddy Kiss Me,' 'Liar' and 'Lost in the Ozone'; and 'Bastards' closes with two stone-cold classics, 'We Bring the Shame' (possibly my favourite Motorhead song) and 'Devils'. These last two are peppered with psychedelic touches that seem to bring Lemmy full circle back to Hawkwind while losing none of the Motorhead crunch.

Everyone is on great form here -- Lemmy's never sung better and even reels off a bass solo, guitar solos are imaginative and never gratuitous, even the more routine tracks like 'Born to Raise Hell' and 'I'm the Man' are fizzing with energy and every performance is as tight and hard as can be.

'Overkill' will always loom large in the Motorhead catalogue and in the history of hard rock generally. But pick up that, 'Bastards' and 'Inferno' -- three albums spanning three decades -- and I think you've got the very best of Motorhead.


Doomsday [DVD]
Doomsday [DVD]
Dvd ~ Rhona Mitra
Offered by Telstar Entertainment
Price: £1.99

4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Just kill me now, 6 Mar. 2009
This review is from: Doomsday [DVD] (DVD)
I liked 'Dog Soldiers' and I loved 'The Descent', director Neil Marshall's first two movies. More to the point, I also like 'Mad Max', 'Escape from New York' and 'The Warriors', so when I saw trailers for 'Doomsday' I was pretty excited. Maybe you are too.

Don't be. Just don't. I'm not sure what combination of ego, money (or lack of it) and drugs (or lack of them) birthed this monstrosity, but it should never have seen the light of day.

Nothing wrong with reworking old, er, 'ideas'. Nothing at all. Nothing wrong with implausible situations and mindless violence (OK, that one's arguable). Everything wrong with re*hashing* instead of reworking; with lazy, unspeakable dialogue inevitably leading to, or exacerbating, rancid, uncontrolled performances; with 'directing' everything at the same dismally hysterical pace; with desperately lobbing in everything but the kitchen sink and still adding not a single stunt, wound, expletive or haircut to the genre lexicon.

Hey, Neil. Remember a little movie called 'The Descent'? It had old ideas, implausible situations and mindless violence. It also had an uncanny sense of pace and a mastery of something called constriction and release. And even without mohicans and Bugattis, it was a million times better than 'Doomsday'. Maybe you should watch it some time.


How NOT to Write a Novel: 200 Mistakes to avoid at All Costs if You Ever Want to Get Published
How NOT to Write a Novel: 200 Mistakes to avoid at All Costs if You Ever Want to Get Published
by Howard Mittelmark
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.49

69 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny and helpful, 5 Mar. 2009
This isn't a writing course -- it won't help you generate characters, overcome writer's block or find the inspiration to unleash the artist within. But it does contain some very good pointers towards the kinds of fault that will send your manuscript into the waste basket, and it's written by people who know.

I found it intermittently very funny, and usually helpful; some of the recommendations will be familiar to anyone who's read anything similar before, but it's mostly fresh and zippy enough. You'll get through it in a single sitting, but it would make a useful pre-flight checklist for any fiction manuscript.

Certain Amazon reviewers seem to have found this book personally offensive, and the examples of mistakes insulting to unpublished writers. On the other hand, one of those reviewers doesn't know that a 'straw man' is a deliberate misrepresentation of an opponent's position, designed to be easily refuted, and not a deliberate exaggeration designed to make a salient point clearer, which is what the parodic examples in this book are. I'd say they're made so comically awful partly in order to *avoid* offending or discouraging unpublished writers.

The implicit 201st piece of advice here is probably: if you're dreadful enough to find the examples insulting, and you can't see how bad you are even after it's pointed out to you, give up.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 20, 2009 10:39 AM GMT


Paralyzed
Paralyzed
Price: £11.97

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They're here..., 31 Jan. 2009
This review is from: Paralyzed (Audio CD)
Witch's self-titled first album was a sterling stab at traditional stoner-doom metal, but it stayed a little too close to the genre blueprint to sound like anything more than a fun side-project. "Paralyzed" is a different matter altogether, a spiky, punky set bristling with energy and spontaneity.

Mascis drums like he plays guitar -- loose, hard, and more concerned with apt phrasing and tone colour than with technical virtuosity. The rest of the band follows suit; there are bum notes and ham-fisted picking all over the place, but it all makes sense in context. That's not just because they're aiming for a strung-out, live feel; it's because the material is deceptively subtle. It might all pass by in a blur of cymbals and string-bending the first time or two, but songs like 'Gone' and 'Space God' are much more meticulously constructed than their carefree performances suggest.

This is a bold departure from the stoner template, with a large dose of early nineties hardcore in the twin-guitar stylings and tortured vocals (think Unsane or, especially, Surgery). There are even hints of Sonic Youth, and Pavement at their grittiest. But the doomy feel of the first album is preserved. The second half of 'Paralyzed' is superb, the twisted slow blues of 'Sweet Sue' relieved by the face-melting doom-punk of 'Psychotic Rock' and the hardcore blast of 'Mutated'. The album closer, 'Old Trap Line', is a funereal waltz defined by Mascis's cavernous drumming.

It sounds like Witch enjoyed their first outing so much they decided to make a serious rock record. I can't wait to hear where they go next.


Chaos Is My Name
Chaos Is My Name
Price: £13.38

5.0 out of 5 stars THIS is what you've been waiting for..., 24 Jan. 2009
This review is from: Chaos Is My Name (Audio CD)
...if you enjoyed any of these guys' other projects: Khanate, Thorr's Hammer, Lotus Eaters, Burning Witch, OLD, Plotkin's ambient works, etc etc.

Khlyst is an incredible crystallization of all that stuff, with a dash of improv thrown in. Great to hear Plotkin playing guitar like this again, and Runhild Gammelsaeter's vocals give the mix a dash of sensuality usually missing from this kind of music (although when she screams, she sounds uncannily like Alan Dubin). Tim Wyskida has spent a lot of his career holding it together for tectonically slow doom outfits, but here he gets to cut loose, and his percussion is awe-inspiring.

The tracks on 'Chaos Is My Name' are meant to be experienced as 'chapters' rather than separate pieces, so you need to hear it all in one interrupted sitting -- not a problem as there's less than 40 minutes of material here. But there's a lot of content in that short-ish space.

For me, this is one of James Plotkin's greatest achievements (which is saying plenty), and easily the best work of the other two. Pretty much all of Plotkin's range is covered here (except for gabba eletronics!), so if you're a particular fan of one part of his oeuvre you might find some of Khlyst a little taxing. But I'm guessing most of his fans are open-minded enough to enjoy all of it as much as I did.


The Marriage Of Cadmus And Harmony
The Marriage Of Cadmus And Harmony
by Roberto Calasso
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.68

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential, 4 Jan. 2009
Despite the familiar subject matter, one of the very few truly original books I've ever encountered: beautifully written, and ineffable as all great art should be. You'll feel your mind changing shape in ways you can't describe, and even if you never go back to the book, you'll never forget the experience.


Another Perfect Day
Another Perfect Day
Price: £7.99

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Motörhead classic, 23 Dec. 2008
This review is from: Another Perfect Day (Audio CD)
It may have divided opinion at the time, but these days most fans seem to agree that this is a great Motörhead album. There will be some who say 'It doesn't sound like Motörhead' -- well, what is a typical Motörhead record? 'Overkill'? 'Orgasmatron'? 'March or Die'? 'Sacrifice'? Their catalogue is a bit more diverse than they're generally given credit for (especially by people who don't really listen to them).

Whatever the problems between Lemmy and Brian Robertson, they seem to have arisen on the road rather than in the studio, because 'Another Perfect Day' is a slick, harmonious listen. Arguably Robertson's leads are a little intrusive at times -- he obviously saw this as a showcase for his considerable talents, and squeezed in licks where they shouldn't always have been -- but there's no doubt that the sound he honed with Thin Lizzy found its fullest expression here, and added something hugely valuable to the Motörhead sound, from the melodic riffing on 'Dancing on Your Grave' to the blues workout of 'One Track Mind'. And check out 'Rock It' if you think this is a less 'heavy' sound that what went before.

My (probably heretical) view is that Eddie Clarke was an excellent but limited guitarist who had done all he could with Motörhead, and whose production on 'Iron Fist' bordered on the egotistical and marred a very strong set of songs. 'Another Perfect Day' is a stronger set of songs from a more musical group and with better production. I doubt that this line-up could have survived long, but I'm glad it made this record.

And the cover is awesome.


Hairy Maclary Scattercat (Hairy Maclary and Friends)
Hairy Maclary Scattercat (Hairy Maclary and Friends)
by Lynley Dodd
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for even the smallest children, 4 Jun. 2007
Jude is 13 months old and this is his favourite book. He mightn't understand the words, but he knows the story -- and the credit for that goes to Lynley Dodd. Everything about this book is right: the rhythms and rhymes are beguiling; the pictures and words complement each other perfectly; there is plenty to point at and to laugh at; even parents with minimal acting skills will find it easy to dramatize. Above all, the pacing is perfect. Jude can't talk, but when we get to the crucial page, he turns around and looks me in the eye and says ... well, something. Something that tells me he knows what's going on.

Don't hesitate to pick up any of Lynley Dodd's delightful books; just be prepared to read them out loud two, three or four times in a row. At least you probably won't have to fetch them yourself: a simple "Where's Hairy McLary?" gets Jude scampering to the cupboard.


Nintendo DS Handheld Console (Silver)
Nintendo DS Handheld Console (Silver)

35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It ain't heavy..., 8 Sept. 2006
Everyone's Lite-happy these days, but the original DS is a great workhorse handheld and better value than ever. If you can cope with the bigger size and clunky looks, you'll find it has several advantages over its little brother.

First, it's clunky because it's well-made -- build quality is significantly higher than the Lite. Second, the bigger size allows a slightly but noticeably better sound/speaker system. Third, the size also means that if you play GBA games on your DS, the carts fit flush to the console, rather than sticking out as they do in the Lite. That mightn't sound like much, but it means you can leave a GBA cart in without worrying about it catching on something in your bag/pocket and damaging your DS.

Finally, some have complained about the D-pad on the DS Lite, claiming that it's harder to find the diagonal positions. I think that may be correct; but given that stylus control is likely to be the better option with most games that feature 8-way movement, it's unlikely to be a major issue.

It's not all good news, of course. Most importantly, the original screens look dingy compared to the Lite's stunning displays. Out-of-doors play is virtually impossible on the older console. The Lite's chubby stylus, side-mounted power switch and general aesthetic improvements also make it very desirable.

Still, you get a strap and spare stylus with the old DS, compared to no accessories whatsoever with the Lite. You also get to play exactly the same extraordinary games, on a console that will probably last longer than its sexier-looking sibling. The choice is yours -- just don't dismiss the original DS out of hand.


Nintendo DS Lite Handheld Console (Black)
Nintendo DS Lite Handheld Console (Black)

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Too beautiful?, 24 Jun. 2006
Nintendo have created one of the prettiest pieces of electronic hardware I've ever seen, with a 'wow' factor on a par with that of the first click-wheel iPods. It looks sleek, elegant, and above all professional: Nintendo seem increasingly to be targeting adults and non-gamers, and the design of the DS Lite is perfect evidence of that policy.

But my first reaction on opening my DS Lite was to gasp in wonder, then put it back in the box. I couldn't see myself using something as beautiful as this as a 'workhorse' console like my original DS, which is uglier but somehow more approachable. I'm sure I'll get over that -- although I may spend almost as much time wiping fingerprints off the oh-so-shiny outer casing as I do playing the games.

Fortunately the inner console cover is matte black, with a feel a bit like that of the N64 console casing. The buttons are well-sized and placed. I've heard some complaints about the D-pad; it seems harder to get diagonal movement out of than the original DS's. I think it might ease up with use, but I mostly use the stylus anyway. Sensibly, the microphone has been moved dead centre, between the two screens, and the power button to the side rather than the face of the console. The stylus slides in the side too, which is another improvement, as is its increased size.

Best of all are the new screens, which make the original DS screens look depressingly dull. There are four brightness settings, the lowest of which is equivalent to the old DS display. The highest should be able to cope with any ambient conditions. The colour on the new screens is also noticeably more saturated, with many games now looking positively psychedelic. The only slight disappointment is that you can only change brightness levels from the start-up screen, not during gameplay (as far as I can tell -- someone please correct me if I'm wrong). Other than that, the display is wonderful. The touch screen feels slightly springier, which takes a bit of getting used to but presumably means it's more durable and scratch-resistant.

As you probably know, the whole unit is smaller and lighter. There's a cover for the GBA slot to repel dust & dirt. Nintendo have been stingy with extras again; no wrist strap, no bag, no screen cloth. These are really small niggles with what is a clear improvement over the original model. I haven't talked about the DS software, which is mostly excellent; suffice to say that the DS was already probably the best handheld I've ever used, and it's now the best-looking too. If I were Nintendo, I'd keep making the original DS: the Lite is perfect for adults, but too pretty to be bashed about by kids!


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