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Peter Durward Harris "Pete the music fan" (Leicester England)

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The Sixties Album
The Sixties Album
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great compilation, 4 Mar. 2015
This review is from: The Sixties Album (Audio CD)
Over the years, I've acquired a number of compilations of this type, but this is an interesting one. Focusing mainly on the second half of the decade but with some earlier, it includes tracks by Trini Lopez, PP Arnold, Desmond Dekker and The Aces, Buffalo Springfield, Amen Corner and Fontella Bass along with plenty of more obvious names. The compiler of this collection is obviously a fan of Gerry and the Pacemakers, having included three tracks of theirs while omitting plenty of big names altogether, but of course those omitted are well represented elsewhere.

This is a great compilation of its type.

A Beautiful Collection - Best Of Carole King
A Beautiful Collection - Best Of Carole King
Price: £7.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice sampling of Carole's early seventies music, 4 Mar. 2015
The release of this compilation reminded me that in all these years collecting music to listen to, the only album of Carole's own recordings that I ever got around to buying was her Christmas album. Shame on me, but I've bought this now and will buy more later. Listening to this shows some of what I've been missing out on through all these years.

The tracks here were all originally recorded in the seventies, although Carole had already established herself as a hugely successful songwriter before then, particularly co-writing with her then-husband Gerry Goffin. Following their divorce, Carole established herself as a singer of her own songs. This compilation appears to be the British response to a Broadway musical about her. The Americans released a soundtrack using the musical's cast, but I haven't heard that. I might buy it eventually, but not before I buy more of Carole's own recordings.

The big hit for Carole during the early seventies (and the only one in the UK during that period) was the double-sided single It's too late / I feel the earth move. Her other seventies hits in America are also featured here, but Carole at that time was better known for her albums and if the rest of the tracks on those albums are even close to what is here, they are certainly worth a listen. They include her own versions of songs that were hits for others including Will you love me tomorrow (Shirelles), You've got a friend (James Taylor) and Natural woman (Aretha Franklin).

This is fine collection of Carole's music, but I'll buy more of it eventually.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 6, 2015 12:43 PM GMT

First Ladies Of Country
First Ladies Of Country
Price: £9.00

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great selection of female country music, 2 Mar. 2015
This review is from: First Ladies Of Country (Audio CD)
Not for the first time, a multi-artist double CD of country music has one side featuring mostly older music while the other mostly focuses on more recent music, rather than mixing them up. Perhaps the compilers acknowledge that many fans have a distinct preference for one or the other. I prefer the older music, but I buy compilations like this to see how the music is progressing. As such, I would not mind if the older and newer music were all jumbled up, but if most fans prefer segregation, fair enough.

The first CD mostly features the older artists, several of whom are no longer with us (Tammy, Patsy, June, Dottie and Billie Jo) but at least their music lives on. Among those, I was particularly pleased to find Dottie here. She doesn't turn up on these UK compilations as much as I'd like to see, perhaps because she never had a UK hit single, but she has long been one of my favurites. I discovered her music initially via her duets with Kenny Rogers and immediately set about hunting for her own music, particularly from her time at RCA. Country sunshine is a good example of her RCA music. Several of the other tracks on the first CD have been released countless times, and Stand by your man also appears on a 70s pop compilation released the sane day (country music fans usually know that it was a sixties recording, but it only made the UK charts in 1975 when it went all the way to number one).

The less obvious tracks on the first CD come near the end. I was a little surprised at the inclusion of Fancy (Reba McEntire), but this was a cover of one of Bobbie Gentry's songs and that may be why it was chosen; Bobbie Gentry herself is not featured. I actually have albums by several of the newer artists, but there are three that are new to me (Wonderland, Maddie and Tae, First Aid Kit). Like the other 21st century recordings here. they have a generally smoother sound than the older tracks. but that's the way that Nashville has moved in recent years.

The future of country music in America is uncertain, with the emergence of "Americana", which is not represented here. It has a different sound from modern Nashville recordings but isn't like 20th century Nashville recordings either. It seems to have elements of country rock. As things continue evolving, it will be interesting to see where the music goes.

This is a fascinating compilation combining old and new. I'll give it the benefit of the doubt and 5 stars for its mix of old and new, with plenty of classic oldies, some enjoyable newer tracks and nothing that would cause me to reach for the skip button. but is this what the British (or any other) public wants?

The Nation's Favourite 70s Number Ones
The Nation's Favourite 70s Number Ones
Price: £9.99

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Overall, an outstanding selection of seventies music, 2 Mar. 2015
With 68 tracks, most of which I thoroughly enjoy listening to, I had to buy this album as soon as I looked to see what new releases were in the shops. It was a particularly good day for me as I also bought three other new releases, so I've got a busy period of reviewing this week.

Many of these tracks will be familiar to fans of 70s pop music, and not just in Britain where this compilation was released. Mainstream pop, rock, soul and disco music inevitably dominate, reflecting the tastes of record buyers at the time. I only started collecting records in 1977, but I listened to a lot of pop radio before then so I became very familiar with these songs. Along the way I had forgotten some, but in most cases I'm pleased to be reminded of them. Even so, my favourites tend to be among the tracks I've bought on albums or compilations by the individual artists, which is well over half of them. I like compilations of this type because the give me a different listening experience, plus there's always the chance that I remember I must buy a collection by an artist who I hadn't got round to buying but meant to. It's too early to say whether this particular compilation will prompt me in that way, but it's happened plenty of times before.

Meanwhile, I'll nominate a selection of my favourite tracks that are included here. Among them are Wuthering heights, I'm not in love, I hear you knocking, Spirit in the sky, Dancing queen, Don't go breaking my heart, Rock your baby, I love to love, Yes sir I can boogie, You to me are everything, So you win again, Three times a lady, Without you, If you leave me now, Don't give up on us, Vincent, Annie's song, Seasons in the sun, Stand by your man (country music fans usually know that it was a sixties recording, but it only made the UK charts in 1975 when it went all the way to number one, hence its presence here), The wonder of you, December 1963, Love grows where my Rosemary goes, Yellow river, Chanson d'amour, Tie a yellow ribbon and Amazing grace.

It is worth noting that this compilation involves two of the three major labels now existing - Sony and Warner. The other, Universal, is not involved, so if your favourite is missing, it may be owned by Universal. Also, each artist is represented by only one track, and this may be the reason for the absence of Bridge over troubled water, because Art Garfunkel is here with I only have eyes for you. I would also have preferred Boney M to be represented by Rivers of Babylon, but of course I have those missing tracks elsewhere in my collection.

This is a fantastic collection, whether you have a lot of these tracks already or not.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 19, 2015 2:19 PM GMT

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden: A Short Guide to Modern Politics, the Coalition and the General Election
I Never Promised You a Rose Garden: A Short Guide to Modern Politics, the Coalition and the General Election
by John Crace
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cameron, Clegg, DevoMax, the Ed Millie Band and more, 1 Mar. 2015
I rarely vote in political elections these days, having become very disillusioned with all the parties, although I did vote against the proposed change to the way we vote in the referendum. It happened during Britain's first coalition government in my lifetime and subsequent evidence suggests that, while coalitions may work in some countries, they don't seem to work in Britain. However, I've lived through single-party governments too and most of them haven't been much better.

The author therefore didn't need to convince me that British politicians are a mediocre bunch, but while reminding me of the scandals and the crises that the politicians have faced, he did so in a very entertaining way.

The author covers most of the big issues that arose between 2010 and 2014, mentioning all the key players including Boris Johnson,who has been London's mayor since 2008. He is likely to return to Parliament on May 7th, although he intends to continue as mayor until 2016. So if Cameron doesn't win the election, Boris will likely be a leadership contender. Whether he would be a good leader is an open question, but the alternatives don't appeal to me. DevoMax seems to have swung the vote England's way this time.

One issue discussed is the Scottish referendum, the result of which was closer than had once been expected, but not close enough to overturn the Act of Union, 1707. As it seems that younger people were keener on independence than older people, it may be that a future referendum will produce a different outcome, but I don't expect there to be another referendum in my lifetime In any case. English politicians got quite a scare in 2014 and might think it wise to treat the Scots with more respect in future.

Elsewhere, UKIP gets its share of coverage, but I remember that Robert Kilroy Silk (who I had quite liked when he was a TV presenter) stood for them in the European elections for the East Midlands. I voted against him, but those who voted for probably wish they hadn't, as he went AWOL after being elected. Any respect I had for him as a TV presenter vanished at that point, along with any chance that I would ever be converted to the UKIP cause.

Of course, most of the book is about Cameron, Clegg and the Ed Millie Band. I don't like any of them and the author reminded me why. Nevertheless, I found this to be a hugely entertaining book.

Price: £11.59

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent music, 16 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Mono (Audio CD)
I first came across the Mavericks via "Music for all occasions", which was their latest release at the time. It was not their most successful commercially, but it was their first album to make the UK album charts and remains my favorite. However, they have recorded several other excellent albums and I have nearly all the music that they've recorded as a group. This one is well up to the quality standard that I expect from them, but is far removed from the album that first impressed me all those years ago.

Featuring instrumentation using (among others) marimba, tuba, trumpets and saxophones, the Mavericks have recorded a very distinctive album that is impossible to classify, but provides very enjoyable listening. All the songs were written or co-written by their lead singer, Raul Malo, except the final track, which is a cover of Doug Sahm's Nitty Gritty. Most of the songs are upbeat but there is a great ballad, Let it Rain (on me) that provides a nice contrast.

This is an excellent album for what it is - a long way from their early music, but I don't mind when the music is this good. Fantastic.

Price: £9.99

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Melancholy music featuring duet with Jimmy LaFave, 9 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Blackbirds (Audio CD)
Sad songs abound on this fine album, with the tempo being mellow throughout, only picking up slightly here and there. Though classified as country, this feels more like soft folk / rock that such artists as Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and others did so well. I enjoy their music too so I don't mind.

Among the songs is The House On Auburn Street, in which the house burns down. there's more to the song than that, and maybe a hidden meaning that I haven't worked out, but that just gives me an excuse to play the album again and again,

The duet with Jimmy LaFave, When you comin' home, is great but I wonder if it might have been even better if the two singers had actually recorded it together in the same studio. He recorded his parts in Austin while she recorded hers in Nashville. That's not how Porter and Dolly did it, but it works quite well despite that.

There are many other wonderful songs including the title track, but those looking for some easy listening, mainstream country or party music should ignore this. On the other hand, if you want sad, reflective music then you should give this one serious consideration.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 19, 2015 8:16 PM GMT

Offered by MediaMine
Price: £11.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mostly easy listening covers of pop classics, 2 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Wallflower (Audio CD)
I enjoy Diana's early jazz albums, but at least for the time being, she has chosen to go for the easy listening market. The only jazz track is a duet with Georgie Fame on a cover of Yeh yeh, which is not on the standard CD but is a bonus track on the deluxe edition. Although described as an Amazon deluxe edition, it is not exclusive to Amazon. I am familiar with most of the other tracks via the original versions and / or earlier covers.

Apart from Yeh yeh, I think the best track here is Alone again (Naturally), a duet with Michael Bublé. Originally a Gilbert O'Sullivan solo recording, it takes on a whole new perspective as a duet.

The title track is a hitherto obscure Bob Dylan song. It seems that his version has only been released so far on bootleg compilations, while not many cover versions have been recorded. Maybe Diana's cover will give the song wider attention.

Two Eagles covers are featured, Desperado probably being the better known, but I can't tell you why (from The long run) is certainly no obscurity.

I find this to be a very enjoyable album to listen to. It's certainly not a jazz album apart from one of the bonus tracks, but I enjoy easy listening music as well as other genres.

From Motown With Love
From Motown With Love
Price: £6.00

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another fine Motown compilation, 2 Feb. 2015
This review is from: From Motown With Love (Audio CD)
The packaging is very basic, as the triple CD is housed in a digipak with no booklet. There is a track listing on the back cover, repeated for each CD inside (under each CD) with the addition of publishing details. Still, it's the music that counts, and this time each CD has a theme, respectively Love songs, Duets and Best of Motown. The tracks are mostly from the sixties and seventies with a few later including tracks by Rick James (Super freak), Shanice (I love your smile) and Smokey Robinson (Being with you, Just to see her).

I've got most but not all of these tracks already either on other multi-artist compilations, or on CDs featuring the individual artists, but I enjoy listening to compilations like this. I was particularly pleased to find the original version of Do you love me (Contours), which is sometimes overlooked as Brian Poole and the Tremeloes had a UK #1 hit with the song, while the Dave Clark Five and others have also covered the song - but the Contours version is arguably still the best.

Many classic tracks are here but plenty are missing. Those here include Reach out I'll be there, Baby love, My girl, Dancing in the Street, Three times a lady, My guy, Please Mr Postman and I heard it through the grapevine. If you're new to Motown, this would be a great starter compilation, but even if you have some already, you may find this to be a useful addition to your collection.

Black Caviar Illustrated
Black Caviar Illustrated
by Gerard Whateley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.40

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Take it to the limit one more time, 6 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book covers Black Caviar's career in detail, but also discusses the syndicate of owners, the trainer, aspects of Black Caviar's breeding and various aspects of Australian racing. I saw one 2-star review by somebody upset about the discussion of various people, but I found it all fascinating. We must, in any case, remember that this book was written for Black Caviar's fans who (it seems) include the entire Australian nation, some of whom are not even sports fans, let alone horse racing fans. So Black Caviar may have added some people to the ranks of horse racing fans, just as I suppose Red Rum and Desert Orchid did in Britain, and Secretariat did in America, but all these new fans, along with those who always accepted that Black Caviar was a one-off, knew nothing about horse racing before Black Caviar came along. By catering for such people, it also provides a great starting point for horse racing fans the world over who want to learn a bit about Australian racing.

An Eagles classic song just up sums up the attitude that Black Caviar showed whenever she had a problem during a race. She won 25 of the 25 races in which she competed, thereby remaining unbeaten, but that is a very deceptive statistic. She should have lost her fourth race, in which she fell at the start, but she actually fell into another horse (who also completed the race), righted herself and ended up winning the race. She wasn't really in a fit state to run at Royal Ascot when she did, although she seemed fine on arrival. She did a nice warm-up gallop, but that turned out to be one gallop too many, as the trainer realized before the actual race day. The trainer remembered her bravery and, with heavy heart, let her run. Again she won, but those of us who watched the race (in my case, in a betting shop) did not see a scintillating performance.

On Black Caviar's breeding, I am not familiar with Australian bloodlines, but I noted with interest the presence of British stallions Hotfoot and Lunchtime among her ancestors, while her paternal grandsire is Royal Academy; Lester Piggott came out of retirement to win the 1990 Breeders' Cup Mile on him.

There are a lot of things that make Australian racing different. Australians have handicaps at Group 1, and Black Caviar ran in one of those and carried top weight to victory; she also made her debut in a handicap rather than a maiden race. These and other aspects of Australian racing intrigue me, but I need to read other books.

Meanwhile this is an outstanding book, lavishly and superbly illustrated, about one of the bravest and best racehorses who ever lived. Only if she had served the military in war could she have shown greater bravery.

Now retired from racing, Black Caviar no longer has to take it to the limit.

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