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S Jones (Liverpool, UK)

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How Can You Find Someone to Love / Bridges
How Can You Find Someone to Love / Bridges
Price: £2.37

5.0 out of 5 stars Reminder of the days when the 7" single was king, 21 Jun. 2016
Pedal Steel was recently listed on the BBC website as one of the most annoying sounds in pop music. Whoever compiled that list clearly hadn't heard "How Can You Find Someone To Love", which successfully combines elements of country rock, soul and disco to create a great pop record. I can't be alone in that view, as it's also getting some national BBC airplay. B side "Bridges" is worth a listen too, while the extended disco mix gives it a danceable edge. In a perfect world, where talent alone was enough to secure pop success, this would be "taken from the forthcoming album" - but as it isn't, make the most of a rare release from Citizen Helene


Celestron 130EQ Astromaster Reflector Telescope
Celestron 130EQ Astromaster Reflector Telescope
Price: £133.41

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Beginner's Telescope, but ditch the tripod as soon as you can afford to!, 26 Mar. 2016
If you're new to astronomy, this is an excellent quality and good value scope that will give you some great views - particularly of the moon and planets (a word of caution though - don't expect huge and detailed views of the planets - with the right eyepiece you can make out the bands and great spot on Jupiter, but it will still only be a small object; similarly you will be able to make out Saturn's rings but not in any great detail). The price is particularly good given the overall quality of the telescope you're buying.
However, when you assemble it you will realise that the great price comes at a cost - the tripod. This is cheap and flimsy and not especially stable. Buy this for the telescope and, if you get the bug, budget for a superior and more robust tripod/mount in the next 18 months. If you want a price comparison, a local astronomy centre sells a decent quality Celestron mount/tripod for £249, where as the mount/tripod for this is available for £39.95. You definitely get what you pay for!


Look Who's Back
Look Who's Back
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Guilty Pleasure?, 9 Jan. 2016
This review is from: Look Who's Back (Kindle Edition)
As other reviews have said, this is a funny - at times very funny - satire of modern celebrity and media culture. And credit is due to the author for developing some sympathetic characters, including Hitler himself. In fact, the amount of sympathy that the reader can feel for the Hitler character can make you feel guilty at times - he sometimes comes across like the Peter Sellers character in Being There, simply bemused by technology and modern Germany.

For non-German readers, there's a really helpful translators note at the end which explains many of the references both to figures of the Nazi era and contemporary Germany - which for example makes the otherwise incomprehensible scene in the dry cleaners extremely funny.


Head of State: The Bestselling Brexit Thriller
Head of State: The Bestselling Brexit Thriller
Price: £4.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I suppose if you are part of the Westminster bubble you may have some fun trying to work out who the fictional characters are .., 9 Jan. 2016
Andrew Marr is a respected journalist and his non-fiction is worth a read. However, based on this debut, fiction is not his forte. The plot is ridiculous, characters are just stereotypes and the "twist" at the end can be spotted miles off. His much vaunted "insider political knowledge" seems to consist of an ability to describe the inside of Downing Street accurately - since anyone who has read House of Cards or ever seen Yes Minister could produce something with as much knowledge of political chicanery as this book. I suppose if you are part of the Westminster bubble you may have some fun trying to work out who the fictional characters are based on but they are so clichéd that most people probably wouldn't care. On the positive side, if you want a quick undemanding beach read you may enjoy it


The Gap of Time: The Winter's Tale Retold (Hogarth Shakespeare)
The Gap of Time: The Winter's Tale Retold (Hogarth Shakespeare)
by Jeanette Winterson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.13

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb retelling by a great author, 17 Nov. 2015
The Winter's Tale was one of the plays I studied for A Level and as anyone familiar with the play will know, it is full of plot holes and improbable coincidence (as other reviews have pointed out, if you don't know the play there is a synopsis at the start of this book). So I was intrigued what one of my favourite contemporary authors would do with it. The answer - it's fantastic (in more than one sense of the word)

Firstly, she takes head on one of the main plot failings - there is absolutely no explanation as to why Leontes suddenly suspects Hermione is having an affair with Polixenes, his best friend. Jeanette Winterson starts off with an interesting "back story" for Leo and Xeno which not only provides a rationale but also sets up an intriguing dynamic for the rest of the novel.

We also get much more character development generally - in particular Shep and Clo, the father and son who rescue Perdita, who become not only more prominent but also arguably the most likeable characters in the novel.

I don't think Jeanette Winterson gets enough credit for her comic writing, but there's plenty of dry humour at various points throughout this book, as well as some atrocious puns (and since Shakespeare was also known for his puns, that's entirely fitting) - Autolycus as a dodgy second hand car dealer at "Autos Like Us" for example

Overall - a great book, by one of Britain's best writers, that's well worth reading. And it could make a pretty decent movie too, if any filmmaker is looking to snap up the film rights!


Nowhere Is Home - Live at Duke Of York's Theatre [3CD]
Nowhere Is Home - Live at Duke Of York's Theatre [3CD]
Offered by mrtopseller
Price: £10.73

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spoilt for Choice, 9 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
First important point - if you're looking at this as some "Live Greatest Hits" package or expecting the Dexys that everyone remembers from the 1980s you'll be disappointed. Since Amazon have combined reviews on some of the different versions, this review is based on the 3CD set.

CD 1 is the live performance of the "One Day I'm Going To Soar" album that came out in 2012. It's a superb album that was clearly made to be performed live as it's a great piece of cabaret/musical theatre (I hate to use the phrase concept album). It tells a story of the life and loves of a singer(let's call him Kevin) and his gradual acceptance that his life is going to be without love (possibly). There are moments of anger, passion, desire and ultimately reflection, but what I love about the album is its humour - it's impossible not to smile when Kevin and the excellent Madeleine Hyland are going at it hammer and tongs in "I'm Always Going To Love You" and "Incapable of Love"

CD 2 is the second half of the concert, a run through some favourites which emphatically isn't a greatest hits; only "Geno" appears in a great Latin reworking. But if you want to hear some reinterpreted less well known album tracks like "The Waltz" or "Tell Me When My Light Turns Green" then it's well worth a listen. And if, like me, you think "This Is What She's Like" is too short at 13 minutes you'll love the 21 minute version here.

CD 3 features a couple of alternative versions of the live recordings together with the radio edits of two other "One Day..." tracks. Since none are significantly different, it's a nice to have rather than an essential part of the package.

So why the title of this review? Well, if you haven't seen the show then you won't understand the sudden bursts of applause as something happens on stage, so maybe you should buy the DVD. But then again what happens if you want to listen in the car? And as it's clearly marketed as a Collectors Item perhaps the vinyl edition? Or maybe the complete set including the remastered One Day I'm Going To Soar album too? Whatever you go for, it's a nice dilemma to have.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 20, 2016 1:59 PM BST


Dare Me
Dare Me
Price: £4.74

4.0 out of 5 stars Stick With It - It's Worth It!, 5 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Dare Me (Kindle Edition)
Had I not been in a Wifi free zone with no way to download a new book, I might not have persevered with this - but I'm very glad I did!

If you're not American or with a knowledge of cheerleading then the opening chapters are as alien as if the author were writing about the customs and habits of a remote African tribe. And there are hints that the book is going to go down a rather cliched line (which it doesn't).

Once you get into it however, a lack of cheerleading knowledge doesn't matter - it becomes an absorbing psychological thriller as Addy, the narrator, is torn between the new coach and her best friend Beth. The novel twists and turns with Addy's internal conflict, revealing as it does the emotions under the surface, as dark events take place. In fact, it reminds me strongly of David Lynch's work, notably Blue Velvet.

Addy is a very "unreliable narrator" - but what isn't clear is whether this is due simply to being a 16 year old who is growing up and rapidly gaining experience of the adult world.

Like Joseph Conrad, Megan Abbott seems interested in the consequences of action and events on the characters, rather than the actions themselves. (She's nothing like Conrad in any other respect!). So it becomes more of a "whydunnit" rather than a "whodunnit". And the finale - which isn't the reveal of the mystery, but the final "what happened after" - casts a whole new slant on the story.

Definitely recommended if you like dark and subtle novels - though with the caveat that the early chapters are hard going


Urge For Offal
Urge For Offal
Price: £9.99

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Elegy written in a Wirral Churchyard, 13 Nov. 2014
This review is from: Urge For Offal (Audio CD)
After playing this a lot, I'm finding it a curious entry in the HMHB canon. While superficially it's an album that offers just what we've come to expect from HMHB - pop culture, football and literary references, modern folk tales, hilarious non-sequiturs (my favourite "For you I'd lose my self-esteem, for Crewe I'd use Junction 16") and some suspiciously similar sounding tunes - there's an underlying sadness and sense of finality in a lot of the songs that even the humour can't erase. "This One's for Now", "My Outstretched Arms" and "Old Age Killed My Teenage Bride" are all essentially songs of unhappiness and loss, while the title track is a melancholic ode to a lost youth - instead of attacking the pretension of 'Future Doom', 'Curry Night' or the particularly glib 'TBA', it's a fond look back to the reasons teenagers form bands and the usually dashed hopes they carry with them. Last track "Mileage Chart" sounds like a swansong - the narrator finding a peculiar comfort in never having done much or sought to achieve much, a sort of twenty first century Prufrock.

Nigel's continued interest with mental health issues - a lyrical theme that's featured on several of the last few albums - is found in "The Unfortunate Gwatkin" - which also features the album's surprise moment (don't play the sing-along chorus in front of the children!)

Not everything is downbeat however - "Stuck Up a Hornbeam" is an excellent Status Quo parody, while "Adam Boyle has cast lad rock aside" is a wonderful mixture of the sinister sound of The Wicker Man with a sarcastic tale of a former rocker who has discovered folk music. There's a fan theory that Adam Boyle is Blur's cheese making bassist Alex James.

So overall, it's very good - but rather than being a humorous album with the odd reflective moment, it's a melancholic album with flashes of humour


Soused
Soused
Price: £9.99

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Move along, nothing new to see here, 3 Nov. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Soused (Audio CD)
2012's "Bish Bosch" was supposed to mark the end of a trilogy which began with 1995's "Tilt". So, even though it's been less than 2 years since Scott's last album, I was looking forward to hearing something new. And despite not having heard much by Sunn O))) - and what I had heard I wasn't keen on - I was intrigued when I learnt of this collaboration.

So it's disappointing to have to record that it's all a bit samey. Each of these pieces is okay and any one would individually fit in to the previous three Scott albums. Scott even teases the listener at the start of opening track "Brando" by singing a little. But unlike the previous albums there's no musical variety to keep you going through the sometimes impenetrable lyrics. Instead of the dramatic sounds of the Methodist Central Hall organ, the infamous punching of meat, the bouncy yet odd sound of the tubax - or even reverting to simple acoustic guitar on pieces like "Rosary" or "A Lover Loves" - the inclusion of Sunn O))) gives each track a droney, repetitive quality. Now that may be the effect Scott is looking to create but personally I don't think it adds anything. At one point during "Bull" I was convinced I was listening to Black Sabbath's "War Pigs".

I've listened to Soused solidly for a fortnight, wanting to like it more than I do. But much as I'd love to hear Scott take a new radical direction (though what on earth that could be I can't begin to speculate) this album isn't it, nor is it a patch on its predecessors.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 8, 2015 9:30 PM BST


The Lion, The Unicorn and Me
The Lion, The Unicorn and Me
by Jeanette Winterson
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Christmas Book, 19 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a wonderful retelling of the Christmas story, ideal for primary school age children (as a bedtime read for younger ones, or a book they can read themselves for older. What I particularly liked about it was, for those familiar with Jeanette Winterson's grown up novels, it contains all the same elements. There is the magic to the story, events being seen through the Donkey's eyes and given a sense of wonder. There is the playfulness and joy of words, some lovely descriptive passages. And there are elements of comedy too. All in all, whether you are religious or not, this is a "must-buy"


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