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Pen "aph84"

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Pornocopia: Porn, Sex, Technology and Desire
Pornocopia: Porn, Sex, Technology and Desire
by Laurence O'Toole
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars A warning from recent history to Theresa May, 24 Jan. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
At the time of publication, the late 90s, this book was almost instantly dated, as the Internet soon after made porn available, and caused the British censors to essentially give up. Since then, the availability of porn can clearly be seen as the main reason the British society has collapsed into anarchy...or not.

In 2017, reading Pornocopia is interesting in terms of the history it tells us. It is a snapshot of a Britain decades out of step, determined to censor and control. Our Prime Minister is about to try and push us back there again, to ban porn again, this time by censoring the internet, and therefore putting us alongside China and North Korea. Is porn really worth banning that much? Will it work? This book suggests the answer will be no, but some will fall foul of the new law.

In this book, the author spends time following a court case against people selling porn, and notes how this takes up weeks of court time.
He also goes in search of porn, and finds it available, even if this time of almost complete censorship, but only by entering the kind of criminal underworld that is usually associated with drugs. Despite this, many people were buying porn at the time.

O'Toole (fnar fnar) notes that Britain is by far the most censorious democracy, obsessed with preventing adults watching what they want to. Another interesting book from this time is Tom Dewe Mathews Censored, which shows that it didn't stop with porn - lots of classic and mainstream films were banned too.


Complicated Game: Inside the Songs of Xtc
Complicated Game: Inside the Songs of Xtc
by Andy Partridge
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.91

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Distinctly average, 24 Oct. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This Is a collection of interviews, done over the course of many years. The interviewer is a musician, so is happy to discuss cymbal sounds, and similar stuff. But then, in one interview Partridge mentions his wife Marianne, and in the next chapter she is now his ex wife. No explanation. But there are loads of notes from the interviewer, to explain that Fireball XL5 was a puppet show, and who was in Bewitched. Stuff that is not relevant. But what happened with Partridge's marriage?

Worst of all, the interviewer repeats himself. In one interview he asks about punk, and Partridge says he didn't like the emphasis on not being able to play. A few chapters on, and years later, the interviewer asks it again, and gets the same answer. Annoying, can you not edit, mate?

The book is good on Partridge's experiences with Virgin records, and also interesting on the origins and thoughts behind the songs. But these are individual songs, chosen by the interviewer, because HE likes them, not because they mean the most to Partridge. So the results are hit and miss.

I really longed for a proper writer, rather than a musician, to be interviewing Partridge, as this is just disconnected snap shots of a career, plus some generally not very funny jokes and down the pub type comments, rather than an actual book, as I understand the term. The emphasis is on what chords were used, rather than what was happening in Partridge's life.


The Black Incal (The Incal)
The Black Incal (The Incal)
by Alexandro Jodorowsky
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars The Incal is a great science fiction series, 4 Nov. 2014
The Incal is a great science fiction series, wirtten by Jodorowsky, and illustrated by Moebius. After Jodorowsky failed to get his trippy film of Dune made, much of the ideas and imagery that we intended for that film ended up in the Incal instead. The story is rambling and flawed, but also often brilliant, while Moebius' art is stunningly great.

In France, the story is in six volumes, with each volume a hardback, in the manner of Tintin books. These French editions are still available, and are reasonably priced. They are pretty much the ideal size for the art, they were the format Moebius had in mind when he drew the art.

In the US, the Incal was originally published in Heavy Metal magazine, which has a small, more square format, which meant the art was much reduced. The translations were not great either. Then came the Epic series, which is foolscap size. More recently, we have the single volume hardback. This is also quite small, especially as again, the dimensions of the book are more square than the French editions, leading to large empty margins, and squashed artwork. The translations are still not ideal, and they also lose the way that Moebius would use different lettering styles to emphasize different parts of the story.

None of the English editions have been as good as the French volumes, and all have been too small, and the wrong dimensions for the art.

The ideal solution would be a reasonably priced English version fo the French editions, along the lines of the English versions of Tintin.

But no. Humanoids publishing now gives us this: a super mega sized edition of the original six volumes. It's so much better than any English version ever printed before. It's massive. It's too big, really, and it costs a lot as a result. But my goodness, it looks stunning. The lettering is still terrible, and the translation still not great. And it is so stupidly pricey, and now out of print too (while the other five volumes are still in print) But visually, this blows away every other version ever.


Hard Core: Power, Pleasure, and the "Frenzy of the Visible": Expanded Edition
Hard Core: Power, Pleasure, and the "Frenzy of the Visible": Expanded Edition
by Linda Williams
Edition: Paperback

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ground breaking look at Pornography, 28 Jun. 2011
Linda Williams's highly influential study of hard core pornography. She finds much porn to be sexist and formulaic, but proposes not censorship, but female-friendly porn.

At a time when the UK still banned films containing images of adults having sex, the publication of Hard Core showed how impoverished and prudish the British mindset was (and is), and of course, the middlebrow middle class still rail against the idea that any text can be studied at a high academic level.


Al Green - Greatest Hits
Al Green - Greatest Hits
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £9.96

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The UK edition is lacking, 15 Nov. 2010
Obviously, Al Green's Greatest Hits is one of the best albums ever.
The one star is becuase the UK edition not only loses 5 songs compared with the American version, but (weirdly) it is also badly mastered.

Where the American version sounds warm and gently soulful, this UK edition pushes the drums up far too loud, so they dominate, while the rest of the sound is brittle and tinny.


Criterion Collection: Fat Girl [DVD] [2001] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Criterion Collection: Fat Girl [DVD] [2001] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Catherine Breillat
Price: £13.72

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Breilliat's best film, uncut, 31 July 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Fat Girl (aka A Ma Soeur!) is French director Catherine Breilliat's caustic version of a teen film. It's about two young teenage sisters - Elena, who is pretty and sexy, and Anais, who is fat and ignored. On holiday, Elena is seduced by a handsome young Italian scoundrel. It's a modern classic.

The key scene in Fat Girl take place after dark in the girl's bedroom. The Italian suitor gets in, and has sex with Elena, while Anais is forced to listen in the next bed. This scene plays out in real time, and mercilessly reveals the craven behaviour of supposedly 'nice' young men who are desperate to have sex. This is the flip side of American Pie and its ilk, and is uncomfortable viewing, especially as Breilliat makes us share Anais's revulsion at it all.

The next day, the girls and their mother return home, but en route there is a very violent incident awaiting them. It may be Anais's embittered fantasy, it may not, but its inclusion is crucial to the good boy/bad boy debate the film is having. This scene is censor cut in the UK version, and there is an apology for this inside the box. By contrast, the US Criterion version is uncut, has superior picture quality, and is well worh picking up.


The Complete Motown No. 1's
The Complete Motown No. 1's

21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some great discs, some not so great, 20 April 2010
This box was released in 2008, for Motown's 50th Anniversary. It compiles all of Motown's number one hits from around the world, from the 1960's to 1990's. The sound quality is much superior to the tinny CD sets issued previously. It comes in a very nicely made replica of the original Motown studios.

This box should have been the ideal choice for the mid-range fan - the person who wants more than just a 2 or 3 CD set, but doesn't want to go the obsessive, expensive route of the Complete Singles box sets.

Sadly, it fails to satisfy, due to the Number Ones concept. This means that a vast number of hits we readily associate with Motown are not here. Instead, many of the discs here are devoted to music from the 80's and 90's.

So you won't find Nowhere to Run by Martha and the Vandellas, nor I Second that Emotion by Smokey Robinson, nor It's Growing by the Temptations, nor any other great Motown songs that weren't number ones. Instead, you will find 7 tracks by Boyz II Men, 4 by Johnny Gill, and 5 by DeBarge.

I'd break down the box like this:
1-2: the classic Motown sound, every track a winner.

3-6: the later years, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Ritchie, Jackson 5, disco, still lots of great tracks, although less distinctively 'Motown'.

7-10: frankly awful.

Disc seven is the worst of the lot, as it has a very small choice of newer artists, who get several tracks each. After the hits of Stevie and Lionel on disc 6, the fall off in quality on disc 7 is very clear and quite tragic.

This box would have been far better if it collected the biggest SELLING Motown hits of all time. That would have skewed the choice towards the high selling 60's and 70's and downplayed the 80's/90's, when sales were low.

But that would not be an option for the record company (Universal) which now owns Motown, becuase they are essentially selling an idea of Motown as a label which continued to stay on top, for decade after deacade (rather than one which was great until they bought it - unfair, but that would be the impression).

If, like me, you think Motown declined after the 70's, then you will find that you never listen to much of this set, and find yourself searching in vain for tracks that aren't here (Third Finger Left Hand, There's A Ghost in My House, Brick House, Bernadette, Cloud Nine etc etc etc).
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 19, 2013 11:26 AM BST


Girl Group Sounds: One...
Girl Group Sounds: One...
Offered by FastMedia "Ships From USA"
Price: £192.05

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great but a bit confused, 21 April 2009
Lots of great tracks on this set, but it somehow ends up being less than the sum of its parts.

One problem is that the track listing doesn't flow too well. There are lots of different styles within the 60's girl groups, and ideally a compilation should lead you on a kind of journey through them. These discs just throw songs and styles at you randomly, jumping from the more primitive early Sixties sound to the much glossier mid Sixties, from California to New York, from black to white. Following Tracey Dey's spooky, weird I Won't Tell with the very campy and silly Egyptian Samba by The Tammys serves neither song. A lot of these tracks simply don't sit right next to each other, and I find myself spending time programming tracks to my taste, which still doesn't work, as some ideal companions (The Pin Ups and the Shangri Las say) are on different discs. . .This in contrast to Rhino's Best of the Girl Groups discs, which move carefully from one style to another, and flow very well.

Another problem is that there are some of the more popular girl groups here, such as The Chiffons and The Shangri-Las, but having a few of their tracks isn't enough. There's still lots of good tracks missing. Neither are the tracks here the obscure ones.

Of the one and two hit wonders, there are still some classics missing (Please Don't Kiss Me Again by The Charmettes, or Sneaky Sue by Patty Lace and The Petticoats, for example). Additionally, many 'smaller' groups don't have their best tracks to represent them. We should have He's A Doll by the Honeys, Whenever a Teenager Cries by Repartra and the Delrons, I Can't Stay Mad at You by Skeeter Davies - as it is, if you love what's here, you're probably going to want to pick those tracks up as well - more expense.

This wouldn't be such a problem, but there are some inferior or non-girl group tracks included instead. Funnel of Love by Wanda Jackson is a great track, but NOT girl group - it's rock and roll. Dolly Parton's Don't Drop Out and Toni Basil's I'm 28 are interesting, but not at the expense of having that other great Honeys track, much less taking up space when there's not ANYTHING on this set by The Raindrops.

All the British tracks except Dusty Springfield sound badly out of place, too. Cilla and Lulu, Julie Driscoll, Petula Clark and Madeline Bell should at least be put together on one disc, becuase filleting them in amongst American groups does not work. Personally I'd keep them for a second comp, which could also add Brits not here like The Vernons Girls.

But of course, despite all that, a fan will still want this. There are lots of hard to find tracks, and the remastering is much better than that heard on other comps. Just a shame that it's not quite perfect.


DJ Shadow "Endtroducing" (33 1/3) (33 1/3)
DJ Shadow "Endtroducing" (33 1/3) (33 1/3)
by Eliot Wilder
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, not great, 11 Dec. 2007
The 33 1/3 books are small format paperbacks, which each take a classic album, and present an essay on it. This book differs becuase the author simply interviews the album's creator.

This strategy isn't a bad one, but we don't really find out anything very interesting. The interviewer doesn't follow up on anything Shadow says, nor does he ask him any hard questions.

From a UK perspective, Shadow is a key trip hop artist, an influence on Four Tet and other electronic/dance acts. However, Shadow sees himself as a 100 per cent hip hop act, and he talks the hip hop talk. This allows him a kind of macho lack of self-awareness (and avoidance of any real thought). The funniest example comes when white guy Shadow takes a black teacher to task for the teacher's lack of knowledge of black history. I was longing for the interviewer to challenge Shadow on this, and at many other moments. But he never does, and you can imagine him nodding along with Shadow.

That said, this is a lot better than some of the woeful books in this series.


Germ Free Adolescents
Germ Free Adolescents
Price: £8.91

15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Girl punk starts here, 17 Aug. 2007
This review is from: Germ Free Adolescents (Audio CD)
If you like Bikini Kill, Be Your Own Pet, yeah yeah yeahs, well, they wouldn't exist without this album. Much as the other reviewer don't like Polly Styrene's vocals, they've sure been influential, becoming the standard for girl punk yelping. The difference with the Spex is that they always let you know they were having fun, more than they were raging. See old clips of them, they're smiling, not spitting. The lyrics are funny, the kind of pop culture trash that the B-52s and early Blondie were also into. The difference is that X Ray Spex were British, and they were self aware enough to make fun of themselves as much as anyone else. forget clash, sex pistols, no one wants to sound like them today, the really influential punk groups were this lot, Ramones, Buzzcocks, Undertones and TV personalities - their influence is still widespread.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 15, 2009 10:14 PM BST


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