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Brit Boy (England)
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Summer Day Reflection Songs
Summer Day Reflection Songs

5.0 out of 5 stars The complete Pye recordings, 18 Feb. 2017
Sanctuary's excellent two-disc set, which originally appeared in 2000, collected together (for the most time) all of Donovan's studio recordings on the Pye recording label from 1965. This makes for a real collector's package, and a very pleasant listen, but it was deleted fairly quickly, as was the 2008 re-issue (Summer Day Reflection Songs), and is now priced rather expensively. To mark the influential troubadour's fifty years in the business, the same record label released in 2014 1965, which carries the identical track listing, at a more (for the time being) affordable price.

What you get on both 'Summer Day Reflection Songs' and '1965' are Donovan's first two studio albums 'What's Bin Din' (which peaked at no.3 in the UK, and no.30 in the US), and 'Fairytale' (no.20 in UK) , along with additional material such as tracks from his 'Universal Solider' EP, single remakes, and cuts from the US versions of these albums. All the tracks, 34 in total, have been digitally remastered, and sound superb. Early classics include the timeless beauty of the gentle, relaxing 'Catch the Wind', his debut single 'Catch the Wind', and it's follow-up 'Colours' (both of which peaked at no.3 in British charts), as well as a wealth of lesser heard gems, poetic profession like 'Turquoise' for example, and the yearning 'Josie'. The social commentary of another of my favourite songs from this period, 'Goldwatch Blues' is very accurate, and will still speak to many people today.

The year 1965 was a great one for music, with the most amazing talent like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Byrds, The Who, Bob Dylan and Marianne Faithfull all making their mark around that same time, but it was also the year which introduced the world to this master troubadour who would become 'The King of Flower Power'.

Here on this nicely packaged two-disc anthology, we have the early Donovan, a new and exciting recording artist on Pye Records, in it's complete entirety. This is the sound which first made British television audiences of the popular 'Ready Steady Go' music show go crazy for Donovan -- pure traditional, story-telling folk music. Of course. this was all before before his successful association with legendary producer Mickie Most had begun. This fruitful period would see the elfin faced Scot have a hit after hit after hit, but if you're seriously considering starting a collection of his excellent records, then this definitive set of 'the beginning' is probably the best place for you to start with.


The Lodger [DVD]
The Lodger [DVD]
Dvd ~ Alexa PenaVega
Offered by FREETIME
Price: £5.98

3.0 out of 5 stars A genuine surprise, 17 Feb. 2017
This review is from: The Lodger [DVD] (DVD)
I have to say that I walked into 'The Lodger', aka 'Roomate Wanted' with pretty low expectations. This 2015 straight-to-DVD thriller was something I picked up purely through desperation for something to watch. I have to say that I surprised, and enjoyed every minute for it.

The film centres around two seemingly very different blonde-haired room-mates, Janie (Alexa PenaVega) and Dee (Spencer Grammer). The former is a reserved, ambitious student, dreaming of a better life, and considers herself up a step or two in comparison to the latter, a much looser woman who enjoys drinking, taking drugs, and sleeping with lots of men. When Janie is offered a great opportunity of work, Dee becomes jealous, and sets out to cause problems for her. In the space of day these ladies make the other one's life hell, leading up to a blood bath, and a shock ending which I didn't see coming.

The initial bitching between these two girls, both of whom are well portrayed, is wonderful, and the petty things that they do each other made me chuckle. Anyone who has ever had a lodger, or even just a work colleague or fellow student that they forced to bond with be able to relate to the hatred that they have for each other. The great thing about 'The Lodger' is that things then things gradually turn around, and we realise that these girls aren't so black and white after all, and nor are the reasons for their feud.

With steady character development, deliciously bitchy antics, and a little bit of violence, I found it all very entertaining, and a genuine surprise. This isn't just one for the ladies, and makes a good popcorn film with a few drinks. It's not as scary as the DVD's cover would suggest, but things do get rather tense.

The DVD contains no special features, or the option of subtitles for the hard of hearing.


Theatre of Fear [DVD]
Theatre of Fear [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jared Morgan
Offered by Homebays
Price: £1.79

3.0 out of 5 stars A family of circus freaks who kill, 17 Feb. 2017
This review is from: Theatre of Fear [DVD] (DVD)
Okay, I realise that I am in the minority here, because although this direct-to-DVD horror has received mostly negative reviews, I for one actually enjoyed it. True, 2014's 'Theatre of Fear', aka 'The Midnight Horror Show', isn't the five star flick that 'Scream' magazine rated, but it isn't, in my opinion, a bad movie at all.

'Theatre of Fear' centres around a very strange family who travel around the UK with a sinister variety show for unsuspecting audiences. Once on the stage, the participant meets a grisly end away from the eyes of the public. They go to far when murdering one young woman, and the father of the missing girl hires a vengeful pursuer to take justice in his own hands. One can't help but wonder how no one had reported that their loved ones had mysteriously disappeared without trace after seeing the horror show to the police who surely would have gone there to investigate, but I'll let that one slide.

Although the obvious budget restrictions are in place, the movie benefits from some good acting, a real step-up from some horror players, and the back stories which are given to some of the characters, even though they are undeniably unlikeable, helps us understand them. By devoting the time to explain why they are as they are, makes us realise that they aren't all the same, but different in their own ways, and 'damaged' for different reasons. I would say this was more of a character study than what it is a horror, but there is some suspense throughout, and a little bit of humour which wasn't too over-the-top. It held my interest from start to finish, and I would watch it again. These characters intrigued me, and I did find myself quickly becoming engaged when discovering about them.

The ending leaves things wide upon for a sequel, but given the fact that 'Theatre of Fear' wasn't warmly received, and was made available to buy in the pound shop in less than a year of it's release, the chances are very slim. Having said that, as they did do a sequel for a truly awful recent straight-to-DVD horror, 'The Bunnyman Massacre', anything is possible. A genuine 3.5/5 star rating from me.

The DVD contains no special features, or subtitles for the hard of hearing.


Cruel Summer [DVD]
Cruel Summer [DVD]
Dvd ~ Danny Miller
Price: £7.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Hard hitting, and important, 16 Feb. 2017
This review is from: Cruel Summer [DVD] (DVD)
When it comes to making gritty and hard hitting movies, I really do believe that us Brits do it the best. The recent 'Cruel Summer' is one such film. Starring Danny Miller, a fine new actor who made his name through 'Emmerdale', this British horror is an important piece, in that it brilliantly demonstrates the damage of what telling lies on someone else's back can lead to, as well as documenting when people make one decision, how they then decide to follow it through, right or wrongly.

Miller is menacingly convincing as Nicholas, a man left feeling bitter and vengeful when his mean-spirited, envious friend Julia (Natalie Martins) wrongly informs him that his former love interest has slept with another young man, Danny (Richard Pawulski). Danny is a teenager with autism, who plans to enjoy an escape from life in the inner city, and spend some time in the countryside, as part of his Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme. The pair come up with more nasty lies together, and joined by another mate, Calvin (Reece Doylas), the three of them set out to find Danny, and carry out their revenge.

With strong language, bloody violence, and threatening behaviour, 'Cruel Summer', reminiscent of 'Evil Lake' in it's theme, is not for the faint hearted viewer, but a rewarding, teaching experience. All of the characters are identifiable and most of us have encountered bullies such as these (albeit perhaps not as badly), but the great performances, especially from Miller and Paeulski, make us believe in them even more. This is a movie which draws you in, and carries a lot of tension. It's not always pleasant to watch, nothing is sugar coated, but it's true to life, and indeed, was inspired by real-life events, making it feel even more shocking.

'Cruel Summer' is beautifully shot, very well acted, and very emotional to have to watch, but an important film, and one which will stay with you. I'm only surprised that it only got a 15 on it's DVD release, instead of an 18.


Stay On These Roads
Stay On These Roads
Price: £4.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent and stirring pop music, 15 Feb. 2017
This review is from: Stay On These Roads (Audio CD)
A-Ha released their final studio album of the Eighties in 1988 with 'Stay On These Roads', which a lot of people seem to dismiss as something of a weak effort, but I really enjoy it. I do agree that it isn't quite on par with it's predecessors as a whole work, and that it isn't as good as some of the mostly acoustic in style masterpieces which would follow. However, the amount of enjoyable tracks on the record, merits a four star release overall, as opposed to three. There are some weak cuts (a few songs which do drag on in length and become boring after a while), but it's still a fine album with lots to write home about.

These internationally successful Swedish men were never just another pop band, and they have given the world some excellent music over the many years they have been together, building up a very rich and diverse back catalogue. On here, things open up most beautifully with 'Stay On These Roads', a very atmospheric song which sets the tone of the entire album.

That was one of five hit singles, along with The Living Daylights', which was used in the film of the same name, and is one of the best James Bond theme songs, and 'The Blood That Moves the Body', a very stylish track. The others, 'Touchy!', and 'You Are the One' are mediocre pop songs, but still provide some good fun amidst the more serious, and stirring balladry. Among the album-only tracks, 'There's Never A Forever Thing', and 'You'll End Up Crying' particularly stand out as highlights.

I'd say that 'Stay On These Roads' provided more 'depth' to A-Ha's music than their previous two, and there are some excellent tracks among the simply average. As usual, Morten Harket's vocals are magical, and this was a change in direction for the band slightly, in that there are more slower tracks than their then trademark uptempo. Intelligent pop music is what these men were all about.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 22, 2017 9:57 PM GMT


Close
Close
Price: £7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars An album that has just about everything -- apart from memorable non-singles, 15 Feb. 2017
This review is from: Close (Audio CD)
I won't beat around the bush, 'Close' might well be a favourite Kim Wilde album for many a listener, but it isn't mine. I think that's largely due to the many musical styles this hit 1988 release has (compared to many of her releases which tend to focus on just the one more or less), which showcases her versatility certainly, but not every song is my cup of tea.

The poppy and rather soulful opener 'Hey Mister Heartache' was the first single, and it might be catchy, but it isn't my bag at all, just give me haunting story-teller Kim on such great early treasure as 'View From the Bridge' and 'Child Come Away' any day. There's dance, there's rock and there's ballads, but this is ultimately a mainstream pop album, with more maturity and sophisticated that a lot of the contemporary releases of the time.

It contains some of her biggest hits, 'You Came', an irresistibly infectious singalong tune with a hard to resist chorus, and the fast-paced power-pop number 'Never Trust A Stranger', which provided her with yet another top 10 hit, and is my pick of the pop tunes. 'Four Letter Word', a nice enough soft ballad, and 'Love in the Natural Way', the fifth and final single is another ballad. and despite being the least successful. is my favourite of the five.

Alas, aside from those four singles mentioned in the previous paragraph, there is very little in the way of further highlights for me. The songs which weren't issued as singles, especially 'You'll Be the One Who'll Lose', 'Lucky Guy', written by Todd Rundgren, and 'Stone', are either just so uninspiring or instantly forgettable. 'European Soul', which has nice music arrangements but mediocre lyrics is probably the best of the rest.

By Kim's usual standards, I don't think there are enough high points to merit four stars for the standard release of 'Close' (which is the version I have). There's plenty of familiar hits here, and it's still better than many pop albums out there, but I don't think it was Kim's finest hour by a long chalk, and this is coming from a great fan. Buy it if you're a completist, but if you just want it on the strength of the singles, then nothing else comes close (no pun intended) to them.


We're In Love With The World Of Janie Jones!: The Sex, The Scandals The Singles Collection!!
We're In Love With The World Of Janie Jones!: The Sex, The Scandals The Singles Collection!!
Offered by encorerecords
Price: £28.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A strangely addictive curiosity, 14 Feb. 2017
If it hadn't been for her connection with moors murderer Myra Hindley, the name Janie Jones would probably have escaped my notice forever. I read her trashy book ('The Devil and Miss Jones), where she spoke of how the child killer befriended and duped her, as well as her 'showbiz' career. In the Sixties she was a little known cabaret singer who performed in some of London's top clubs, rubbing shoulders with real celebrities. She cut a single, 'Witches Brew', which was a surprise minor hit, peaking at no.46 in the UK. For a time, she was a 'name', appearing on various TV shows, including 'Top of the Pops', and recording more singles, none of which were to trouble the charts.

Alas, it's not really for music that Janie is best remembered for, but for scandal. She had been sent to Holloway prison in 1973 after being found guilty of controlling prostitute, and previously encountered the law after her involvement in the BBC Radio One 'sex for airplay' payola scandal, of which she was cleared of. Prior to this, she had briefly been in the news for wearing a topless dress at a film premier.

When reading her book, I couldn't warm to Janie, but my curiosity in her recording career was there. I picked up this rare compilation fully intending to be appalled by it's contents, but maybe I'd get a few laughs at least. To my surprise, it's not half bad. True, most of the songs are pretty naff, but wonderfully so, and are strangely addictive. I'd describe this as a novelty record, and an well imagine her going down a treat in cabaret, her material was good fun.

The 'hit' 'Witches' Brew' is actually one of the weakest links, it has Janie cackling away to the lyrics in between her singing, and although catchy on first hearing, soon begins to tire. The follow-up single, 'Gunning For You' is great fun, and so catchy. She was given a more serious song with it's excellent B side 'Go Go Away From Me', but most of the A sides were comedy songs, demonstrated further with the likes of the hilarious 'Tickle Me Tootsie Wootsies'. Other gems can be found in the shape of 'High & Dry', the cheery pop song 'Back On My Feet', and 'Cross On The Wall In Nashville', a considerable attempt at country and western. Two more B sides, 'Nobody's Perfect' and 'I've Never Met A Boy Like You', both had a serious chances of becoming hits I think. The second from last track, 'Letter to Joe' is a surprise in that it's actually a very touching little song, deeply personal, and autobiographical.

Ultimately, I found this to be a most appealing treasure trove of some quality Sixties tunes, along with excellent novelty numbers, and yes, a little bit of dross thrown in. Janie's vocal talents are limited, but she sang with passion and with a sincerity. 'We're In Love With The World Of Janie Jones!' is well worth a listen as far as I'm concerned, and I'd welcome another compilation from this once infamous woman in order to make her music more widely available again at a reasonable price. There's 22 tracks on here, five of which had been unreleased until it's 1999 appearance as well as an informative fold-out booklet. I'll hit humble pie Janie, you weren't bad at all!


Back From The Edge
Back From The Edge
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A great album!, 14 Feb. 2017
This review is from: Back From The Edge (Audio CD)
2012 'X Factor' winner James Arthur has delivered an excellent second album which greatly surpasses his self-entitled debut, which I thought was very good, but was clearly just a warm-up. Although the press have tended to concentrate on his personal life and problems, that does not in anyway demean his talents as a singer and songwriter, and should never be allowed to overshadow it.

The 'Back From The Edge' album sounds like a man who has returned victorious after recovering from a bad patch, and it's songs will both lift you up and inspire you. The soulful number one hit 'Say Won't Let You Go' sees James longing for reassurance from the person he loves that they will remain with him, and is a touching love song, sung with much conviction. The most recent single, 'Safe Inside' is even more heart-warming, and whilst these two tracks are among the best on the record, there is so much more to enjoy.

The opening title track is catchy, positive, and highly confessional in it's lyrics, when listening to 'Back From the Edge', you can't help but route for James and hope that he will stay on this right track. 'Prisoner' is a great light rocker, where the artist once again sings of his battles with demons, and intimately shares his thoughts and feelings. In fact, the entire album, a musical combination of R+B and pop, with a twist of folk as evidenced on another stand out track, 'Can I Be Him', feels like one big confession, but James has turned his heartbreak into song writing success. Because he's lived the words of these songs himself, he is able to perform them with the utmost sincerity, and he does have a powerful voice.

I haven't watched 'The X Factor' in years, just because I think it's long since had it's day (the last time I followed it was when Shanye Ward and Journey South were competing together) but I have to say that the most talented winner of this programme is James Arthur, who has delivered a five star album, which even the hardest of hearts can't fail to be touched by. Listening to 'Back From the Edge', you'll feel as though you know this guy personally.


Chapter And Verse
Chapter And Verse
Offered by mrtopseller
Price: £7.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Companion to the book, 14 Feb. 2017
This review is from: Chapter And Verse (Audio CD)
It should be made perfectly clear that this is NOT a greatest hits package or a new studio album, it's the soundtrack to Bruce Springsteen's long-awaited autobiography Born to Run. All of these songs were hand picked by The Boss himself, so are obviously very personal and important to him. As 'Chapter And Verse' contains material spanning his entire career from 1966 to 2012, you can rightly call it a retrospective at least.

Avid fans will be pleased to learn that five of these eighteen tracks are previously unreleased, making them the primary audience for buying this album. These rarities make up the first five songs, opening up with 'Baby I', the first song he ever recorded as a teenager with The Castiles, and the subsequent follow-up 'You Can't Judge A Book By It's Cover', a cover of the old Bo Diddley track, 'He’s Guilty (The Judge Song)', 'Ballad of Jesse James', with the Bruce Springsteen band, and 'Henry Boy'. These old recordings do sound very raw and unpolished, but none more so than that of your standard bootleg release, and they are entertaining enough, though only completists are likely to really want them.

All of the songs, just like the chapters of an autobiography are presented in chronological order, which is a great way to hear how his talent has developed and evolved over time. Along this musical journey, you will find some of Springsteen's biggest hits, including 'Born to Run', 'The River', and 'Born in the USA', as well as quality, studio-album only cuts like the personal 'My Father's House', and 'Living Proof', from the albums 'Nebraska' and 'Lucky Town' respectively. As with any collection that has Bruce Springsteen's name on it, 'Chapter and Verse' makes for an excellent listen from one of the world's truly gifted singer, songwriter and musicians.

Like I said at the start of my review, this is not a greatest hits package, but there are no shortage of those available. If you're only for a single CD then I suggest you buy Greatest Hits, or for a more in-depth look at his work, try The Essential Bruce Springsteen.


Top 40 - Indie
Top 40 - Indie
Price: £4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars More 'indie' than most, 14 Feb. 2017
This review is from: Top 40 - Indie (Audio CD)
This two disc set from the budget label Crimson in 2014 is one of the more appealing compilations of 'indie' music in recent years. This is because it doesn't include many of the obvious choices, staying clear of the obvious choices, as good as they are, which appear on countless other albums. This alone makes it look more like an 'indie' playlist, and not major corporation's understanding of it.

There are several well-known names, but at least these bands are represented on here with hits which aren't so regularly featured on such compilations. In the case of The Farm, we have 'Groovy Train' as opposed to 'All Together Now', 'Hit' by The Wannadies when 'Me and You Song' usually takes priority, 'Why Won't You Give Me Your Love?' instead of The Zutons' 'Valerie', and 'Trash' by Suede as opposed to 'Beautiful Ones' or 'Animal Nitrate'.

Lots of lesser-known bands, both new and old are heavily represented throughout these two albums, including Senseless Things, The Wedding Present, and Scottish group Glasvegas. This certainly isn't your run-of-the-mill indie compilation, and for that, 'Top 40 Indie' deserves credit. With original 40 tracks, all which saw chart action, good value is assured, as well as the chance to discover something new.


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