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D. Barnes "" (UK)

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Breathe Out Breathe In
Breathe Out Breathe In
Price: £12.28

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathe Out Breathe In reviews, 15 May 2011
This review is from: Breathe Out Breathe In (Audio CD)
If you're already a long-time fan of The Zombies then you've probably already got this CD or it's on order.

If you are familiar with some or all of their previous work or have stumbled on The Zombies and are wondering whether or not to buy this CD, my answer would be definitely.

There's a lot of rubbish talked by reviewers about how bands either stick too closeley with a predictable formula or, alternatively, disappoint by not adhering to familiar production values!

This album is at one and the same time a very new, surprising and different Zombies album yet totally a Zombies album in the traditional sense.

The fact is that The Zombies are a contemporary band in 2011 who retain two of the original founding line-up from 50 years ago (Argent/Blunstone) and who also include three other equally-talented and experienced musicians to complete their line-up. Jim Rodford, the bass player, actually inspired Rod Argent to start a group in the first place in 1961. The Zombies celebrate their past but are very much in the now.

The reliability, uniqueness, familiarity and excellence of Rod Argent's keyboards and Colin Blunstone's vocals are a given on this album and the two Rodfords, drummer Steve and dad Jim and guitarist Tom Toomey, as I said, play much more than a supporting role to the 'two originals'.

What is surprising and exciting about this album is that there's a bigger variety of styles and tempos over the course of the ten tracks than I was expecting.
What binds all ten tracks together is the standard of musicanship and production. All are clearly identifiable as Zombies numbers, with some familiar references and sounds, but each as distinct, fresh and different as the last.
I have already recognised several tracks as future favourites on my iPod.

But don't just take my word for it. With the sound-bites on Amazon and some of the tracks available to see and hear on Youtube and The Zombies' website, there's no reason not to try before you buy.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 25, 2011 12:59 AM BST

The Singer's Singer: The Life and Music of Matt Monro
The Singer's Singer: The Life and Music of Matt Monro
by Michele Monro
Edition: Hardcover

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Matt Monro - The Singer's Singer by Michele Monro - review by, 2 Feb. 2010
Matt Monro is Britain's biggest selling solo male performer of all time and shares this honour with our biggest solo female performer Petula Clark. Both singers have huge international reputations and fan bases. Matt's daughter, Michele, has just published her biography on her dad's life and career and here Digger reviews this new book.

A lot of people, me included, have been looking forward to this book for a long time. Matt's daughter Michele and his family and friends (and he has many) have, over the years, been resolute and highly active in their determination to keep reminding us of what a huge talent Matt Monro was and what a great musical legacy he left us. Nobody is better qualified, or more strongly driven, to write a book about Matt's life and career than his devoted daughter Michele.

The life story of Matt Monro covers a spectrum of fashions, fads, major cultural changes and musical developments. When he started his singing career, solo balladeers such as Matt wore a sharp suit and tie and Brylcreemed their hair. Britain was emerging from a devastating war and was desperate for some light relief. The British music business was dominated by stuffy old men in suits and British music predominantly imitated the American scene or relied on American imports. When Matt came along he proved that a British singer could sing as well as the major Americans - don't take my word for it - `rivals' such as Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis and Tony Bennett gave him the thumbs up. What's more, Matt was singing songs, many written by British songwriters, in a very British way. Matt interpreted these songs, the melody and the lyrics, with a timing, diction and phrasing and with an ability to hit and hold any note that made this diminutive man stand head and shoulders above others. He seemed to do this effortlessly and in relaxed fashion. Here also was a true entertainer in that audiences loved him and he loved to share a joke and banter with them.

Matt had to cope with some bad luck along the way. An inauspicious start in London's poor East End. Having to compete head-on with the birth of Rock 'n Roll to establish himself and then with Beatlemania when he had achieved stardom. His career had its share of ups and downs due to changes in musical tastes. Like many others in showbusiness, Matt had to sometimes negotiate a safe path through the shady manouverings of greedy managers, promoters and agents. If homesickness is an illness then Matt had an acute form which seriously marred his career's progress in America. And ultimately Matt was to face cancer and a premature death.

But in his life and career Matt also had a lot of good luck to go with this raw talent and cheerful temperament. To be partnered with EMI's Parlophone label and genius producer/arranger/A&R man George Martin and Johnnie Spence his musical director. To have the support of people like manager and songwriter Don Black. To be blessed with a loving family and his lifelong love Mickie - the wife who knew the music business and was able to manage his business affairs. And, because Matt's personality warmed him to his contemporaries in the business as much as to admiring fans around the world, he had a lot of friends. I have yet to hear a bad word about him. Matt knew everybody there is in showbusiness and they all loved him.

To reinforce this, there is an impressive section in the book with comments from his peers. The big names and their comments bear proof to his legacy and popularity. This is not an over-sentimental book but it is emotional because it is written by Matt's daughter with contributions from many of his friends. This book is not written from Michele's perspective as such but is clearly based on an impressive amount of detailed research, fact-finding and interviewing of his contemporaries. It is rich in information, quotes, anecdotes and events and gets to the heart of the man so that you feel as if you know him - surely a good result if not the main purpose of a biography? The care and attention which has gone into this project is clear.

This book contains more than the norm of photos and these are liberally sprinkled throughout the book rather than in a block of photo pages which, although this may sound trivial, is a good format because it helps the reader to digest the information and to 'contextualise' with reference to relevant images. There are also a number of hilarious and endearing quotes from Matt himself which show just how grounded and self-effacing he was. In my experience the biggest stars are always the nicest people.

When Matt's career ended in the mid-80s, it had spanned post-war austerity, Teddy boys, Rock 'n Roll, Merseybeat, Mod, Flower Power and Psychedelia, Progressive Rock, Punk, New Wave and Electropop, not to mention a huge cultural and social revolution. Matt had prevailed. Matt had convinced us, by virtue of his unique talent, personality and his output, that he was special. It's true that we in Britain tend to undervalue, or at least take for granted, our stars and this was certainly true with Matt as much as anyone else. But at the time of his death, both with the public and with his contemporaries in the business on both sides of the Atlantic and indeed around the world, he was recognised as a truly great international star.

This book lets Matt's accomplishments and music and the comments of others speak for him. Michele has every reason to be proud of her dad and of this definitive, enjoyable, informative and reliable testament to his talent, fame, legacy and continued popularity and esteem.

Wonderful Today: The Autobiography of Pattie Boyd
Wonderful Today: The Autobiography of Pattie Boyd
by Pattie Boyd
Edition: Hardcover

41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Today - Pattie Boyd with Penny Junor, 22 Sept. 2007
In this long-awaited autobiography of Pattie Boyd's life, including her two legendary ten-years-or-so marriages to two of rock's biggest names, Eric Clapton and George Harrison, co-author Penny Junor has managed to coax a great many interesting revelations and stories from a very private, somewhat reluctant and reticent Pattie. And so she is to be commended.

The book starts with a fairly unremarkable middle-class upbringing - even though she spends some of her early youth in Kenya, her father is disfigured in the war and her parents ultimately split up and she has to come to terms with a new 'wicked' stepfather, it all nevertheless seems very British and reserved.

Certainly, Pattie doesn't excel academically. But Pattie's rare beauty leads her into the modelling world which is the springboard to her encounters with the rich and famous, including George Harrison, where her looks and attractive personality immediately win him over. Even at the first meeting she is betrayed by her decent upbringing - she turns down a date with 'THE FAMOUS BEATLE' George Harrison because she already has a boyfriend. Not many young girls at the time would have given it a second thought. We also discover that Pattie had not even heard a Beatles album until then, so she shares something in common with Yoko Ono who also claimed to be totally unfamiliar with their work when she first 'bumped into' John.

We learn a great deal about her early cosy relationship with George and her dealings within the Beatles 'inner circle' and how the couple just drifted apart, Pattie feeling neglected. The surreal existence that was being a Beatles wife is made manifest, and it was enough to test the strongest of relationships. It's ironic that Pattie introduced George and The Beatles to the Maharishi and to meditation and chanting and it was this road, as well as 'experimentation' with drugs, that led to George and she becoming isolated and distant from each other. Pattie says that some relationships just have a natural time-span and this was one of them - they remained good friends.

The relationship with Clapton is much darker and tougher to fathom. He clearly loved her, but It's actually hard to read about some of the drink and drug-induced abuse and Pattie is to be congratulated on exorcising these particular demons. Clapton's unfaithfulness is probably par for the course for rock stars, but he would have retrieved some credibility and dignity if he had been seen to have done the decent thing financially when they eventually split up. There was no doubt that he could afford it and there's no doubting who has the moral high ground now.

It's odd that such an apparently ordinary and straight-laced girl, albeit of incredible beauty, should have appealed to these two very musical men and created such a fervour and passion, and to have inspired some of the greatest popular songs ever written.

Pattie claims that her 'failed' marriages and experience have made her a better person, and perhaps that's true. I like to think that people can take something from adversity and that it can have a positive 'purpose'. She now lives alone, although definitely not a lonely figure, and makes a living from photography (and now from writing.) Having seen and heard her recently at a publicity event, she certainly comes across as a grounded, decent, positive and happy person with no bitterness and a zest for life.

Not bad for a rock chick.

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