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Shark Sandwich (Folkestone, UK)

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Offered by Squirrelsounds
Price: £12.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High quality Art..., 3 Nov. 2009
This review is from: Breakeaway (Audio CD)
A fantastic album, steeped from beginning to end in top-notch session musicianship, high-quality "L.A." production and great songs. The only vaguely duff track is the slightly whiney "Looking For the Right One", but all the others are perfectly tailored to suit Art's effortless, angelic tenor.

Standout tracks - a brilliant cover of the Beach Boys' hymn to a remembered 1950s youthful American ideal "Disney Girls", a quite breathtaking vocal performance on the old classic "I Only Have Eyes for You" (if the finale doesn't bring a lump to your throat, you're probably made of wood) and "My Little Town", which gives the listener a clue as to what Simon and Garfunkel might have produced had they stayed together.

Very, very highly recommended.

Play Your Cards Right - Interactive DVD Game [Interactive DVD]
Play Your Cards Right - Interactive DVD Game [Interactive DVD]
Dvd ~ Play Your Cards Right

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Rubbish, 24 Dec. 2008
I think the phrase I'm after rhymes with "butter clap". Snail-paced, stupid audience questions, antediluvian graphics, and no sense of competition or excitement whatsoever. The only thing that saved it from an instant trip to the bin was the brief amusement value of taking turns to do Bruce Forsyth impressions during the "higher" / "lower" bits.

The Miracle
The Miracle
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £10.25

3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Patchy at best..., 4 Nov. 2008
This review is from: The Miracle (Audio CD)
God love Queen, they were absolutely fantastic and deservedly still one of the most-loved bands in the world - despite having dunked their legacy in a bucket of manure with the 5ive song and the Ben Elton abomination.

But this isn't one of their better albums. I've recently listened to it again after a fairly long gap, and the first thing that struck me is how tinny the production sounds; WAY too treble-heavy and tinkly. I know that this was the age of Stock Aitken and Waterman, but still...

Bad first - "The Party" / "Khashoggi's Ship" and "The Miracle" both sound like composites of different band members' ideas which have been clumsily woven together for the sake of getting the release out, and "Breakthru" and "The Invisible Man" are horribly poppy by Queen single standards. However, "I Want It All", "Scandal" and "Was It All Worth It" (a proto- "Show Must Go On") are all strong tunes, albeit still marred by the production. Funnily enough, the two "filler" / "comedy" songs ("Rain Must Fall" and "My Baby Does Me") have aged better than most of the others.

All in all, a rather generous 6.5/10 - but of course, we do have to bear Freddie's circumstances in mind.

Planet Dagenham: Cars in Film, TV, Music and Sport
Planet Dagenham: Cars in Film, TV, Music and Sport
by Jeremy Clarkson
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A different Jeremy Clarkson, 2 Nov. 2008
Jeremy Clarkson, and Top Gear, have changed massively in the 11 years since this book was written. Reading it, you get the feeling that he was still massively seduced by the whole glamour / wealth / birds vibe of owning an expensive car; nowadays, he's seen it all and has developed a healthy sense of detatchment from the grubbier consumerist aspects. Although he still obviously loves driving powerful cars, he's much more concerned with the infinitely more rewarding pursuit of goofing about with his mates. His output these days is sweetened with a big dose of irony and self-mockery, and he's a million times funnier as a result. He's always been a good writer, though, and this book has its moments.

Once Around the World
Once Around the World
Offered by positivenoise
Price: £19.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bitten!, 28 Aug. 2008
This review is from: Once Around the World (Audio CD)
It Bites were, in retrospect, a band around at the wrong time. It's not as if they didn't have a fair crack at the whip; Virgin spent a LOT of money trying to promote them, but the PWL-loving public of the late '80s were obviously a bit befuddled and wanted something more easily accessible.

"Once Around the World" is a unique album; none of prog's "time signature merchants", from King Crimson to Tool to Muse, have ever come up with something so completely distinctive as this in the studio. OK, admittedly most of Steve Hillage-produced side 1 is pop-influenced; but these were the days in which singles had to be sold...

Every track is a gem in its way, but the stand-outs are surely "Yellow Christian", "Old Man and the Angel" (horribly butchered to make a 4-minute single), and the title track. All three are utterly exhilirating, and utterly different to anything you've ever heard by anyone else. Ever, and evermore.

People talk about the album as a "last hurrah for prog"; it's that, but it's a lot more besides. It's the last time that a (perhaps commercially naive) expression of pure musical ability, divorced from the demands of teen cool, was given free rein by a major music label.

It Bites were a very noteworthy band hampered by internal in-fighting and a terrible group name. "The Big Lad in the Windmill" and "Eat Me In St Louis" were interesting, but nowhere near as good as "Once Around the World, which really is a very, very special album.

Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £4.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Find your way home..., 27 May 2008
This review is from: K (Audio CD)
Let's get one thing out of the way - it shouldn't matter whether Crispian Mills is the son of an actress or a comprehensive school dropout who's been on benefits all his life; judge the music on its own merits and leave the inverse snobbery out of it.

"K" is an excellent album, full of feelgood classics. "Hey Dude", "Govinda", "Grateful / Jerry" and "303" are particularly good tracks. OK, there's nothing innovative here, but since when does good music have to be innovative (eg Oasis)? It takes its cues from all the right sounds and melds them into something quite distinctive. A soupcon of early '70s Floyd, a dash of Doors, a bit of early Purple and of course the much-mentioned "eastern mysticism" (which, apart from on "Govinda", doesn't really add much, and in fact threatens to become a bit of a musical albatross at times). The musicianship and production are excellent throughout - especially the trademark swooping bass. And Crispian Mills proves that, just because you're someone famous's son, it doesn't stop you from being a great writer and a great singer.

Highly recommended - a great summer album for anyone who likes classic rock. One criticism is completely justified though - it's probably one of the worst examples of cover art EVER....

Price: £8.53

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A missed opportunity, 14 April 2008
This review is from: Legend (Audio CD)
"Legend" might well be the best soundtrack accompaniment to any TV or film feature EVER. Anyone complaining that Clannad "aren't using traditional instruments" is barking up the wrong tree; the ultra-tight, synthesised sound achieved by the group on the album fits the new-age influenced mystical / spiritual side of "Robin of Sherwood" absolutely perfectly.

I'll freely concede that you need to be into "Robin of Sherwood" to really get "Legend", but - hey! - it's a soundtrack. And with that proviso, there just isn't a duff track; it's flawless from beginning to end. The range of emotions achieved with such understatement beggars belief; this is a band at the absolute peak of their powers. (Album producer Tony Clarke deserves huge credit, which he never appears to get.)

So "Legend" itself is five stars all the way - my one complaint with this reissue is that, as an "extra", we get a throwaway rubbishy dub-and-bass-techno-ambient-jungle-hardcore remix of one of the tracks which my nephew could have done in 5 minutes on any PC. There remain 10 or 12 fantastic Clannad "Legend"-era tracks which were used in "Robin", but which didn't make the original album, lying dormant somewhere. Why didn't THESE make the reissue?

A clue to the hidden (lost?) bounty is to be found right at the end of "Scarlet Inside", where the band shake off the "quick hit" requirements of a TV soundtrack, and drums, synth and bass start improvising to fantastic effect. It sounds like it would have been worth listening to for another 10 minutes at least - but of course, it gets faded after about 30 seconds.

Clannad, if you're reading - whilst writing and recording "Legend", you were out of this world; why can't we have more of it?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 13, 2010 1:05 AM GMT

Midnight Run [DVD]
Midnight Run [DVD]
Dvd ~ Robert De Niro
Price: £4.00

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just an astoundingly good film, 7 Feb. 2008
This review is from: Midnight Run [DVD] (DVD)
This was a lost classic at the time, and judging by the fact that (at the time of me writing this) only 8 people have reviewed the DVD (all giving 5 stars), it remains in the realms of "cult".

It has everything - hundreds of classic one-liners, at least 7 truly great comedy characters (Walsh, Mardukas, Moscone, Dorfler, Moseley and the two Mafia goons), a fantastic intricate plot, danger / suspense (I defy anyone not to be on the edge of their seats in the airport scene at the end), and plenty of gentler emotion too. Maybe it just ticked too many boxes for critics at the time.

OK, it has NEARLY everything - thankfully, there's no romance. In fact, this isn't one for the girls at all; there's only one significant female character in the whole piece (Walsh's ex-wife), and she's a pain in the arse.

Everything you've heard about "Midnight Run" is true - it's a stunning piece of work, and arguably De Niro's best film ever. You cannot fail to love this movie.

The Producers [DVD]
The Producers [DVD]
Dvd ~ Zero Mostel
Offered by Quality Media Supplies Ltd.
Price: £10.00

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Passable - just as long as you haven't seen the original film, 30 July 2007
This review is from: The Producers [DVD] (DVD)
The film version of the musical version of "The Producers" has had a fairly rough time from critics - justifiably - but let's be clear: if the original film hadn't existed, this would qualify as great fun, and would have garnered considerably more plaudits than it did.

However, the original film DOES exist. Why the need to pad it out? Why the need to substantially change the characters of Ulla and (most radically) Bloom? Why write out the hippy Hitler? Why succumb to the hateful modern trend to make the heroes win in the end? (The original film ends, correctly, with them in prison. Sorry for the spoiler).

Acting wise - Nathan Lane is excellent, but no Zero Mostel (who could be?). Matthew Broderick is passable, but no Gene Wilder (who could be?) - and Uma Thurman is just rubbish.

The "musical" aspect of The Producers is quite good; reasonably entertaining, good camp songs, and very professionally put together. But compare this incarnation, as you must inevitably do, with the breakneck anarchy and surrealism of Mel Brooks's 1968 debut, and the musical version comes up WAY short. It's longer, flabbier, and almost deliberately "toned down" so everyone can "get" it.

If you've never seen the Producers at all, do yourself a MASSIVE favour and watch the original film. If you've only seen the stage play - do yourself a MASSIVE favour and watch the original film.

Tom Jones [DVD] [1963]
Tom Jones [DVD] [1963]
Dvd ~ Albert Finney

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shame no-one's come up with a half-decent review yet, 23 July 2007
This review is from: Tom Jones [DVD] [1963] (DVD)
Tom Jones is a SEMINAL British film. It deservedly won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1963, and was arguably instrumental in helping to set the tone for London's "Swinging Sixties" - it was bawdy, comical, fast-moving and licentious like very little before. It's fairly long, but makes a stunningly good job of condensing Fielding's enormous novel into a manageable format.

As is often said, the film is great fun and very sexy, but also on occasion beautifully romantic - the montage when Tom and Sophia are courting after Tom breaks his arm really tugs at the heart-strings. Some fantastic character acting, especially from Hugh Griffith as Squire Western, and brilliant direction / production from Tony Richardson - the "live" feel of some of the scenes, especially the hunt, are very advanced for their time. The music is also a work of genius.

All told, a true classic - a ground-breaking and hugely entertaining piece of cinema. Oh, and FAR better than the recent rubbishy BBC adaptation.

PS - with all due respect to previous "Top 50" reviewer Andy Millward, you weren't watching the film very closely, were you? The famous "meal" scene is NOTHING to do with Susannah York, and in fact Tom and Sophia don't get married throughout the whole film! (The actress concerned is Joyce Redman, playing Mrs Waters).

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