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Shane Brown

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The Christmas Throwaway
The Christmas Throwaway
by RJ Scott
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A book of two halves, 21 Dec. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Well, this is certainly an oddity. Most reviews would lead you to believe that this played out something like a gay version of a Hallmark channel film you might see on TV one afternoon. And, indeed it does for the most part. If any novel could be compared to one of those TV movies that is pleasant enough but pulls at the heartstrings a little too often, then this would probably be it. As others have said, it's sweet and charming. But I wonder how many reviews were written before they got to the final quarter of the book.

In an almost schizophrenic about-turn, the final section of the book moves away from charming romance that wouldn't even offend Mary Whitehouse to throwing four-letter words at us and giving us rather detailed sex scenes in lieu of a proper conclusion to the story. It's a very odd state of affairs, and rather a sad one too. Part of the appeal of the book's storyline and writing up until that point is that it was a gay-themed novel(la) that didn't rely on copious amounts of nudity and sex scenes for once.

It does appear that very few writers and film directors think that gay men are willing to watch or read any gay-themed work unless it contains moments that are, no doubt, intended to arouse the audience. With The Christmas Throwaway, I would argue that these elements come so far out of the blue that they are almost laughable - or that someone as a practical joke swapped the original final act for a sexy one without the author noticing. It's a shame, because this is sweet and charming up until that point, but the final chapters are silly, supposedly sexy, padding and nothing more.


North Sea Jazz..
North Sea Jazz..
Price: £18.32

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected CD + DVD of "new" concert, 17 Dec. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: North Sea Jazz.. (Audio CD)
This one has been kept really quiet. While PD issues of radio broadcasts of jazz concerts are quite common here in Europe, this escape is neither PD or taken from a radio broadcast. Instead, it finds Ella Fitzgerald in 1979 in The Hague giving an energetic set with a trio led by Paul Smith. Also, it not only features a fine sounding CD but comes with a DVD of the same show - something not mentioned in the Amazon listing. We already have Ella on DVD from 1979 with the Count Basie Orchestra, but this concert is much more intimate with just the trio setting. As always, her repertoire is varied, and we get the first official live airings on CD of There Will Never Be Another You, Dindi, Almost Like Being in Love - and a brand new Ella song in the theme from "Love Boat!". This was quite commonly performed by Ella at the time, but this is the first official release (she would perform the theme from "Neighbours" in concert a decade later!). Dindi is a lovely version - much better than from her Jobim songbook from a year later. Not only is Ella in good voice and spirits, she's also quite feisty, getting more annoyed with the press photographers as the performance progresses.

The liner noes by Jeroen de Valk are quite harsh. I much prefer Ella's voice during these "Pablo" years than during the Verve years. Sure, it's not as silky smooth, but the performances are alot jazzier in nature, even on the studio albums. And, like Sinatra, she used great imagination in overcoming any vocal shortcomings, making the performances more interesting. De Valk clearly doesn't agree, and I think is quite off the mark in his assessment of performances such as Satin Doll, which he says are more shouted than sung - which is simply not true. He seems more interested in what Ella can no longer do rather than what she can. This is a shame, as it takes the sheen off a lovely and most unexpected new Ella product - her 1984 performance at this festival is quite well known and done the rounds among collectors for years, but this one from 1979 is pretty much unknown.


Monster Pies [DVD]
Monster Pies [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tristan Barr
Offered by Gayfilmlover
Price: £7.29

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than most..., 23 Nov. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Monster Pies [DVD] (DVD)
Hurrah, I hear you cry! A gay-themed film that doesn't rely on naked men and plentiful sex scenes with which to attract an audience. And yes, that does make a very pleasant change. This is, for the most part, a Beautiful Thing-style teen gay romance and, for the most part, is sweet and charming.

But there are problems.

Some of the attitudes of the characters seem out of date. Now, the reason for this is that the film appears to be set a decade or two in the past. After all, the lead character works at a video (VHS) store, rather than a store than stocks DVDs and Blu-Rays. And, at the very beginning of the film, we see him slip a cassette into his Walkman. Sadly, we are not reminded enough throughout the film that this is a period piece. In fact, except for those two elements, there's little to tell us at all - the soundtrack is of classical music, so no reminder there. But we need to be reminded or the whole thing seems dated, and therefore clichéd.

The other problem is with the final fifteen minutes or so of the film. I'm not going to say much about it here as I don't want to give the ending away - and PLEASE don't read the small print beside the 15 classification symbol on the back cover as it does actually tell you the ending! But the final fifteen minutes or so do drag on for far too long. I'm not even sure the final act is right for the film anyway, but even so, it is handled quite badly, I think - and what starts off as a sweet romance ends up as something quite different, which is a shame for the sweet romance was actually rather, well, sweet.

This is worth watching though. The leads are great, the writing is, for the most part, rather good. Bu just switch off before the final act and you'll probably find it more enjoyable!


People's Guide to Opera, Vol.1
People's Guide to Opera, Vol.1

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great stuff, 11 Oct. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
There was a review here until a week or two back complaining that this set of 8 CDs contained no baroque opera and that, because it was a collection of highlights, it wasn't really opera. That's a fine viewpoint if you believe opera isn't for the masses and want to be snobbish about the artform as a whole and, sadly, there are far too many like that around.

In reality, this set brings together 8 hours or so of highlights from (mostly) classical and romantic era opera (volume 2 brings together another 8 hours of the same). Each CD is given a particular theme (normally based on nation or composer) to give the set some sense of order. Between the two sets (which you can pick up for a five between them at the moment) you are provided with a huge array of opera highlights. Yes, all the usual suspects are here, but there are also some surprises, particularly in volume 2.

The performances are mostly mined from EMI recordings of the late 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. This will suit some buyers and put off others. Sometimes the performances are a little too dramatic for their own good, and the vibrato on the sopranos in particular a little too wide, but this is simply a case of tastes changing in performing styles over the decades. Anna Moffo is a key culprit here and she features quite a bit in these sets - but there is still a vast amount of music here organised into sensible and enjoyable programmes at a cheap price (used) and so these comments are literally nit-picking. The booklets are thin but do contain full info on personnel. Info on the operas would be nice, but anyone really interested can nip over to wikipedia and find out pretty much what they need should they be interested beyond the music itself. All in all, the best opera highlight boxes out there.


Living Stereo 60 Cd Collection
Living Stereo 60 Cd Collection
Price: £74.96

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than you are Expecting!, 31 Aug. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The reviews for this set have been largely on the money, I think. This is great value, and contains great performances in great sound. Original liner notes are also included in a nicely put together CD sized book (an overview of this 60CD project would have been nice, but you can't have everything).

Trev-R's review already contains the official track listing, but you actually get much more than this on a dozen of the discs (sometimes another complete LP! Here are the CDs this effects with the additional tracks in brackets.

8 FIEDLER, ARTHUR Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue; Concerto in F; An American in Paris; Variations on "I Got Rhythm" (+ CUBAN OVERTURE)
9 REINER, FRITZ Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition (+ MARCHE MINIATURE, MARCHE SLAVE, NIGHT ON BALD MOUNTAIN, POLOVTSIAN MARCH, RUSSLAN AND LUDMILLA OVERTURE, CALAS BREUGNON OVERTURE)
19 REINER, FRITZ Dvorák: New World Symphony (+ BARTERED BRIDE OVERTURE, SCHWANDA POLKA AND FUGUE)
20 REINER, FRITZ Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade (+ STRAVINSKY'S SONG OF THE NIGHTINGALE)
22 FIEDLER, ARTHUR Offenbach: GaÔté parisienne (+ LA BOUTIQUE FANTASTIQUE)
24 FIEDLER, ARTHUR Hi-Fi Fiedler (ORIGINAL ALBUM + ESPANA, LISZT'S HUNGARIAN RHAPSODY NO 2, RAKOCSZY MARCH)
32 STOKOWSKI, LEOPOLD Rhapsodies (ORIGINAL ALBUM + LOHENGRIN PRELUDE TO ACT III, TANNHAUSER OVERTURE AND VENESBURG MUSIC)
36 REINER, FRITZ Vienna (ORIGINAL ALBUM + VIENNA BLOOD, ROSES FROM THE SOUTH, TREASURE WALTZ, THUNDER AND LIGHTNING POLKA)
38 FIEDLER, ARTHUR Pops Caviar (ORIGINAL ALBUM + GAYANE EXCERPTS, EUGENE ONEGIN POLONAISE, SLEEPING BEAUTY WALTZ, FLIGHT OF THE BUMBLEBEE, GALOP FROM MASQUERADE SUITE)
41 LANZA, MARIO Mario! Lanza At His Best; Vagabond King Highlights (+ FOUR UNRELEASED VAGABOND KING TRACKS)
42 FOX, VIRGIL Encores (ORIGINAL ALBUM + POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE MARCH)
53 HEIFETZ, JASCHA Bach: Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor (+ MOZART SINFONIA CONCERTANTE IN E FLAT, BRAHMS CONCERTO FOR VIOLIN AND CELLO)
55 PRICE, LEONTYNE Albeniz: Navarra, Iberia; Falla: El amor (+ THREE CORNERED HAT, LA VIDA BRAVE, INTERMEZZO FROM GOYESCAS)


Long Way Down
Long Way Down
Offered by Great Price Media EU
Price: £3.33

8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great stuff, 26 Jun. 2013
This review is from: Long Way Down (Audio CD)
I'm certainly not someone who buys much modern music, but do so only when something or someone gets my attention. I don't know much about Odell, but heard some of his material by accident a month or so ago and was rather taken by it. The album doesn't disappoint. It is well produced, performed and written, and Odell comes over as likeable. Yes, there is a lack of variety here, with this being a ballad-led set, but a first album isn't necessarily the right time to go out and take risks. We're not in the 1950s or 1960s when an artist would be given multiple chances to make his mark on the scene. Now, if your first album isn't a hit, you're dropped. Odell presents us with ten songs which concentrate on the style that brought his attention, and there's nothing wrong with that, especially when it's done well. The album IS short (very short, at not much over half an hour), but the deluxe edition adds an extra five tracks, including a wonderful cover of the Randy Newman classic I Think It's Going To Rain Today, which is worth the extra couple of pounds on its own.


To Be Loved
To Be Loved
Price: £4.25

7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 15 April 2013
This review is from: To Be Loved (Audio CD)
After the instant-classic status of the Christmas album and the brilliant Crazy Love, this is something of a step backwards for Buble. I have no problem with him recording Sinatra classics providing he does something original with them, but he doesn't manage that here. You Make Me Feel So Young, Young at Heart and Something Stupid all have very generic arrangements that add nothing to what has been done with the songs before. Buble sings them well, but it's almost a Sinatra karaoke night - Buble's voice over what are basically Sinatra's arrangements. The Buble originals just don't sound very original, following the same format as those on Crazy Love, but less classy.

There are some nice moments. The old country tune Have I Told You Lately That I Love You gets a nice swing workover, and You've Got A Friend In Me also exhibits some of the life that was in the last two albums, especially when the instrumental kicks in. Who's Lovin' You finds Buble biting off more than he can chew; he simply doesn't have the vocal chops to tackle a song of this type. Perhaps the best song is the title number, which is probably best known over in America as a Jackie Wilson hit, but in the UK as a hit for the now-forgotten 50s crooner Malcolm Vaughan. The arrangement here is modern and sassy and shows what this album could have been.

Overall, there is definitely something lacking here. It all seems a bit Buble-by-numbers, even a little bit fake. Perhaps it's just trying too hard to please fans, a bit like the horrendous, overly-photo-shopped image on the front cover.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 17, 2013 7:10 AM BST


The Complete Columbia Studio Albums Collection 1951-1958
The Complete Columbia Studio Albums Collection 1951-1958

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Bit More Info..., 20 Jan. 2013
I thought it would be worthwhile adding a few comments here. Unlike some of the other sets in this series, most of the CDs in this box are just a repackaging of the previous issues, with the bonus tracks being the same. In most cases this is fine, although as has been pointed out not good for Such Sweet Thunder. However, the few albums with new mastering here really do sound gorgeous. Drum Is A Woman is an album unlikely to hit my player very often, but sounds great, and it's lovely to hear Bal Masque without the fake applause. But the real beauty is Ellington Indigos. Remixed and remastered, it has a beautiful tone to it and what was previously a relatively bland entry in the Ellington cannon now has a depth of sound and a beauty that just weren't there before.

Let's hope a second set is released featuring the remaining studio Columbia albums: Festival Session, Anatomy of a Murder, Jazz Party, Nutracker Suite/Suite Thursday, Blues In Orbit, Piano in the Foreground, Piano in the Background, All American, Midnight In Paris


The Uninvited [1944] [DVD]
The Uninvited [1944] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ray Milland
Price: £14.44

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great film, but deserves a better release, 24 Dec. 2012
This review is from: The Uninvited [1944] [DVD] (DVD)
Yes, the film is great - we all know how wonderful the film is. But a quick word on the transfer. It's pretty abysmal in places. The opening scenes of the sea during Ray Milland's voice over is very blurred during the bottom of the picture - not quite sure what's going on there. As for the rest of the film, well the daylight scenes are OK I guess - seen better, seen worse - but the night-time scenes are enough to convince the viewer that there is somehow a blizzard within the haunted house. To call the picture "snowy" really isn't doing it justice. Something definitely went wrong somewhere in the transfer, for the print itself seems fine. Very disappointing, especially considering the long wait for an official release.
Comment Comments (10) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 26, 2012 7:09 PM GMT


SEASON 2
SEASON 2
Offered by RAREWAVES USA
Price: £14.47

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great stuff, but the cancellation was inevitable, 26 May 2012
This review is from: SEASON 2 (DVD)
While the second series of Kyle XY is great television, when watching it becomes clear just why viewing figures tailed off at the end of this series and during the next. The second series is fatally flawed by having a huge narrative arc coming to a conclusion at the end of episode 14. This meant that viewers didn't have to view the next episode to see what happened, most loose ends were already wrapped up. Those that did tune in over the following weeks saw a new story arc start, one which was sadly to similar to what they had already seen. series one had seen Kyle hunted by an evil company, series two had seen Kyle hunted by their parent company, and the end of season two and season three see Kyle hunted by yet another group. The formula was stale and the show becomes repetitive. It works better as a boxed set, but watching week by week would have seen audiences tail off. It's a shame because there was so many other places the show could have gone - such as Kyle learning to deal with the publicity of his exploits as he saves people or helps them etc. But instead of going down that route, it simply retreads old ground.

That said, there is much to enjoy here, even in the second half of this series - the storyline featuring Josh and his girlfriend is a delight, for example. And the programme as a whole is as heartwarming, unassuming and moving as the first series. And, while some of the acting leaves alot to be desired - Adam Baylin comes over as particularly wooden - it is the writing and lack of imagination with regards to story arcs that signalled the end for Kyle, long before the series got cancelled during season three.


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