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S Jones (Liverpool, UK)

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The Kinks Choral Collection By Ray Davies And The Crouch End Festival Chorus
The Kinks Choral Collection By Ray Davies And The Crouch End Festival Chorus
Price: £7.09

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Worth Hearing, 21 Sept. 2010
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Given the quality of the Kinks back catalogue, it's hardly surprising that this is overall an excellent album. The only real question is whether adding the choir to the songs improves them in any way; in at least 10 of the tracks I'd say it's true, while in the remainder it doesn't detract but seems a bit pointless. It's probably the less well known tracks, from the Village Green Preservation Society/Arthur period of the late 60s that gain most - "Shangri-la", "Village Green", "Picture Book" etc, although "See My Friends" is also a particular stand out. The new versions of "You Really got Me" and "All Day and All of the Night" both start well but end up very similar to the original versions. The new song, "Postcard from London" is also worth hearing.

My only real criticism is that when you've written the perfect pop song (Waterloo Sunset of course) there is really no point in sticking a choir on it - it's like deciding that the Mona Lisa needs glitter sprinkling on it to brighten it up.


An Unsuitable Attachment
An Unsuitable Attachment
by Barbara Pym
Edition: Paperback

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as her other work, 1 July 2010
This novel is famously the one which Barbara Pym's publishers refused to publish, leading to her disappearance from public view for almost 20 years. And while no-one can condone that decision, this is one of her weaker novels.

The famously Jane Austenesque dry humour is still there, but the characters are on the whole not very sympathetic - the heroine, Ianthe, is not well developed and John, the "unsuitable" attachment of the title, comes over more as pathetic than the "rough trade/toyboy" that is suggested by the other characters

Being a Barbara Pym novel, it is definitely worth reading, and is still a cut above many of its more revered contemporaries. But if you're new to her work, it's not the novel to start with.


Tropical Brainstorm
Tropical Brainstorm
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £4.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thank You for the Days..., 21 Jun. 2010
This review is from: Tropical Brainstorm (Audio CD)
Kirsty MacColl is up there, in my opinion, with the likes of Nick Lowe, Joe Jackson, Difford and Tilbrook etc as one of the great English pop songwriters of the late 20th century. This album shows the playful, fun side of her music - in fact if there's one overriding theme it's sex. We get coquettish Kirsty in "In These Shoes?", horny Kirsty in "Celestine", passionate Kirsty in "Autumngirlsoup" and wry Kirsty enjoying a bit of cyber-sex in "Here Comes That Man Again".

With most of the songs set to a Latin beat, it gives the album an overall fiesta feel, even in the more bitter songs like "England 2 Colombia 0".

There are a couple of weaker tracks here, but overall this is a really good, positive, life-affirming album that I'd highly recommend. In fact, its upbeat nature makes you wonder how much more we had to come from Kirsty had she not been killed just a few months after its release.


Lady Audley's Secret (Crime Classics)
Lady Audley's Secret (Crime Classics)
by M. E. Braddon
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Good Victorian Fun, with a bit of depth, 18 Jun. 2010
If you enjoy Victorian melodrama, or the works of Wilkie Collins, this is a highly enjoyable read. Yes, it's very predictable, in fact anyone who's read an Agatha Christie can pretty well work out the plot after only a few chapters, but where the novel scores highly is in its "feminist" subtext - well explored by Robert Giddings in the afterword to this particular edition. In fact, the most horrific thing about this novel is not the murder, intrigue or plotting which goes on but the fate of Lady Audley herself. Definitely worth reading on a long winter's evening when there's nothing on TV


Barbie As The Princess And The Pauper [DVD]
Barbie As The Princess And The Pauper [DVD]
Dvd ~ William Lau
Offered by Jasuli
Price: £5.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ripe for a PhD thesis, 23 April 2010
The Barbie movies are on the whole, good quality entertainment and - as other reviewers point out - not simply an excuse to sell merchandise. And if like me you are subject to repeated viewings then there is much to entertain you - for example you can play the "spot the character from one movie in the background of another" - where you may find that Prince Nalu from "Mermadia" is reduced to playing a member of the crowd, or see the best supporting actor figure who appears in several of the films. In this particular film, you can speculate on whether Preminger (the baddy) was marked for life by parents who apparently failed to give him a forename (check out the wedding scene), and whether calling him Preminger is a movie in-joke. You can also wonder at the class divisions in Barbie society (a theme repeated in several movies) which appears to allow massive exploitation of the underclass (Madame Carp's sweatshop) and also if the resemblance between the Queen in this movie and a younger version of our own queen is entirely coincidental.

Or perhaps you could just leave your little one to enjoy the story and songs and go and do the gardening instead...
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 5, 2011 9:33 PM BST


Selected Short Stories: Includes the novel 'The Rover' (Wordsworth Classics)
Selected Short Stories: Includes the novel 'The Rover' (Wordsworth Classics)
by Joseph Conrad
Edition: Paperback
Price: £2.50

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good selection for those new to Conrad, 1 Dec. 2009
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Conrad is a much neglected author these days. In part I suspect that it is because he is a very descriptive writer - settings and place are an essential part of the narrative and he takes time to get this right - and in part because he is not interested in action so much as the consequences and impact on people of action. That's not to say that there is no action in his stories - this selection covers shipwrecks, revolutions, prison break-outs and murder - but that these events are secondary to character.

Most of these stories, which cover Conrad's entire career, are relatively short and thus provide a good introduction to his writing without feeling that you have to get through an entire novel. They range from the black comedy of "An Outpost of Progress" to the tragic love story of "Amy Foster".

If you are looking for an undemanding, easy read, this is not for you. But if you would like to engage your brain, meet complex and interesting characters in exotic surroundings, and want to understand why some critics regard Conrad as one of the greatest authors ever, then this great value selection is well worth getting.


Telstar [DVD]
Telstar [DVD]
Dvd ~ Con O'Neill
Offered by MadeAgainGills Online Media - All New Items are Sealed !
Price: £16.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but flawed, 30 Nov. 2009
This review is from: Telstar [DVD] (DVD)
Trying to condense the complexities of Joe Meek's life into an hour and three quarters was always going to be difficult, but there are some outstanding performances here - Con O'Neill as Joe gets better throughout the film (although his accent occasional slips into Irish Gloucester!), Tom Burke as Geoff Goddard is superb and Kevin Spacey is always good value.

However there are faults even if you don't know the Joe Meek story. For example there is no inkling that Joe is gay until he meets Heinz, nor is there any sign of his mental illness until things start to go wrong (one minute he's happily recording and next he's completely paranoid). Most glaringly however is the total omission of women from his life (other than his landlady, well played by Pam Ferris). Glenda Collins may not have been the most successful of Joe's artists and is hardly a household name, but she was a key part of his life (he apparently considered a "lavender" marriage to her) and to omit her from the story does leave a narrative hole.

Overall though this is a well written drama, which moves well from the light hearted events of the early days into the descent into tragedy. It's not in itself substantially different from other stories of gay men in the early 60s (see particularly "Prick Up Your Ears", the film about Joe Orton, whose life has some striking parallels with Joe Meek's, and also the recent BBC films about Kenneth Williams and Frankie Howard), but it's good to see that British cinema can still produce very good films.


Raffles: The Amateur Cracksman (Penguin Classics)
Raffles: The Amateur Cracksman (Penguin Classics)
by E. W. Hornung
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Entertainment, 21 Nov. 2009
If you enjoy Sherlock Holmes stories and long for further trips to the Victorian London of hansom cabs, thick fog, gentlemens clubs and tales of mild danger, then this is the collection for you. Raffles and Bunny are very obviously modelled on Holmes and Watson (Hornung was Conan Doyle's brother in law), although unlike Holmes, Raffles is of course on the "wrong side" of the law. That said, as a Victorian gentleman, and cricketer, he applies his own moral code to his burglaries - his victims are usually coarse or ill-mannered, and where they are not he is to be found outwitting the "professors" - working class thieves who steal for a living. It is possible to critique these stories in the context of the Victorian class structure, but that's taking them far too seriously - just read them as well written, entertaining short stories which will pass a winter's evening.


My Ship Is Coming In: The Collection
My Ship Is Coming In: The Collection
Price: £5.99

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Value Introduction to the Walker Brothers, 19 Nov. 2009
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There are several hundred Walker Brothers compilations out there, so why choose this one? Simply the price. 36 songs for less than a fiver - whether you buy the CDs or the mp3s - is difficult to beat. All the big hits are there "Make it Easy on Yourself", "Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore", as are all the songs that hint at the darker side that Scott was to explore in his solo career: "Orpheus", "Mrs Murphy" and "Archangel". It doesn't cover the reformation in the 1970s, so there is no "No Regrets" or anything from the "Nite Flights" LP, but that's a minor quibble. If you are new to the world of the Walker Brothers and want a low risk introduction, or if you need to replace your scratched and worn out vinyl copies, this is definitely the compilation to go for.


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Trilogy Book 1)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Trilogy Book 1)
by Stieg Larsson
Edition: Paperback

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not awful, but not very good either, 18 Nov. 2009
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If this were a film (which I'm sure it will be soon) it would be a moderately entertaining, undemanding and ultimately forgettable thriller. While I might accept that in a film, I want more from a book. This novel however doesn't deliver anything more. It's entirely plot driven - I knew nothing more about the characters at the end of it than I did at the beginning. Salander, the titular girl, is simply a "super hero" who can assume virtually any role the plot requires to drive it forward (she has a photographic memory...she is an ace computer hacker...she is a mistress of disguise...etc)while Blomkvist, the investigative reporter, is so devoid of character that he might as well be invisible.

Parts of the book are incredibly badly written, and as other reviewers have pointed out, it is so much of an advert for Apple that I felt Steve Jobs should actually be paying for me to read it. I'm not sure if it's a Swedish thing but the author also seems obsessed with the square meterage of every property he describes.

That said, the mystery was intriguing enough to make me want to finish it and find out what happens, but not enough to make me want to read the other two books in the trilogy.


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