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Fergal Woods (Leitrim, Ireland)

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Maria Gadú multishow ao vivo (blu-ray)
Maria Gadú multishow ao vivo (blu-ray)

5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Brazilian Talent since Pele !, 9 Mar. 2012
This is a rather special concert performance and a rather amazing achievement for an artist who had only one studio album to her credit when she recorded it. This smokey voiced girl is still only in her mid 20's but she already possesses the finely-honed skills of the classic singer-songwriters and looks like she was born with a guitar in her hands. She also looks totally at home on stage and has a quite remarkable rapport with her audience.

Firstly the technicalities - the camera work is excellent (and a vast improvement on other Brazilian DVDs in my collection) and the picture clarity is demonstration class. Sound is also superb and there are a variety of extras, with bonus tracks recorded in studios and an informative interview with Maria. The English subtitles are unfortunately quite poor. I used them once just to get a flavour of her lyrics, and have no real need of them again.

The music is superb. Gadu is a wonderful songwriter with very catchy choruses that I fell for without having any understanding of the language (almost exclusively Portuguese). Her band are used for about half the tracks and are fine musicians perfectly tuned into Gadu's style. Keyboards and electric guitar are especially impressive without playing a note more than is necessary. Some of the remaining tracks use a string quartet and Gadu also does a number of duets with only acoustic guitar(s). 2 of these are with Luiz Mura and Leandro Leo who have dueted with her on studio recordings previously. The look on her face while listening to her musical partners, whether players or singers, shows her love of music and performing, and this also rubs off on her audience who sing along with every note.

I've already reviewed the CD release of this concert and docked a star for the level of audience participation left on the audio tracks. I've no such complaint here. One really feels part of the whole experience and I can now appreciate why the crowd roars it's approval at regular intervals. The musical highlights come thick and fast and are too numerous to mention. Gadu writes music that's universal in it's appeal and basically avoids samba and bossa nova. I can't really think of a comparable singer-songwriter but her voice does remind me of a softer version of Tracey Chapman.

My own favourite songs are "Shimbalaie", "Historia de Lilly Braun" , the gorgeous "Dona Cila" and Jacque Brel's "Ne Me Quitte Pas". There are 30 or so songs between the concert and the extras and this release scores top marks on every level. You might have guessed but I think this lady is rather wonderful, and this is currently my most played Blue Ray. Her self-titled debut solo CD has also hardly left my player. She's streets ahead of all the well-known Brazilian "divas" and is most definitely worthy of your attention


Maria Gadú Multishow - Extras
Maria Gadú Multishow - Extras

4.0 out of 5 stars Charismatic Concert Performance, 2 Mar. 2012
I've already given her self-titled "debut" a 5 - star award and this live CD has a couple of dozen tracks which feature practically that whole album plus another 5 of her songs from earlier recordings. The "extras" referred to here are a number of duets and an ensemble Maria performs with some of her favourite musical partners who made guest appearances at the concert, in particular, Leandro Leo. What these performances, and the CD in general, show is that Gadu simply loves making music, and whether it is collectively or on her own doesn't seem to matter!

The concert was recorded in 2010 to a wildly enthusiastic audience. I'm afraid their enthusiasm is what's preventing my giving another maximum score. The engineers have left in too much of the audience participation and unfortunately this distracts from my enjoyment. I don't blame the crowd for singing along and would have done so myself if I were lucky enough to have been present at the recording. Careful editing could have reduced this problem. which is a shame because these performances and the material is immaculate and the CD contains almost 80 mins of music.

Gadu's first official solo album from the previous year was largely acoustic guitar driven. Here however she uses her band - and an exceptionally fine unit they are too - so energy levels are up, grooves are funkier and the songs bristle with vitality. Gadu shows up more established Brazilian "Divas" by singing in perfect pitch and with great expression. She possesses a most attractive "smokey" voice and writes very catchy melodies. It doesn't matter whether you understand Portuguese or not as these melodies are international and I would also suggest timeless !

Amazingly, considering her studio album was less than a year old when this concert took place, the audience sings along with every word. Also pretty amazingly Miss Gadu already has enough outstanding material (after only her second studio release) to fill a generous sized compilation CD. Her best known track "Shimbalaie" is of course featured here and the audience singing along with "Dona Cila" (dedicated to Gadu's grandmother) is very moving. I'm hoping that the Multishow DVD will someday appear at a reasonable price as I would find that preferable to this audio version.

The band feel on this CD was carried over into the January 2012 release "Mais uma Pagina" which is another remarkable achievement, and I can't see any limits to this singer's potential - MAJOR MAJOR STAR in the making !!


Field Of Stars: A Story Of The Road To Santiago
Field Of Stars: A Story Of The Road To Santiago
by Susie Tarver
Edition: Paperback

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Camino Trails and Trials, 6 Feb. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Having completed 5 Caminos I've got to say this brought back many memories, even though I've not done the route Susie describes, and in such an easy and winning style. There are several tips about alberges I'll try to use/avoid on future Caminos. I found her closing chapters brilliant at describing the anti climax and the sense of loss when leaving someone you've walked with for a long period. This feeling goes hand in hand with the enormous sense of achievement and Susie articulates this paradox quite beautifully.

It may be a good idea to start this book before setting out on a Camino but to postpone finishing it until after you return. Some of the descriptions about the hostels may put some people off altogether, and the author is to be congratulated for her common sense "warts and all" descriptions of her Spanish soujourn.

It's a very worthwhile read but I must correct a number of factual mistakes - Susie claims early on that a village called Montsegur near Bordeaux was where the Cathars put up a final resistance during the Albigensian Crusade - that Montsegur is hundreds of kilometers away and south of Carcassone!! She claims the "English Way" and the "Northern" or "Coastal Way" are one and the same - not so ! The English Way is south from a Galician port (traditionally Ferrol, or often Corunna) while the other is west from the Pyrenees along the Cantabrian coast. One other glaring mistake was the claim that it wasn't Cortez who brought chocolate back from the New World but in fact "Columbus nearly 2 centuries earlier" They were actually near contemporaries and it was closer to 2 decades than 2 centuries !

These are minor quibbles but overall this is an eminently readable and humourous account and is a worthy companion for anyone who has done, or is thinking of taking, the pilgrim trail to Compostela.


Gadu, Maria - Multishow Ao Vivo - CD
Gadu, Maria - Multishow Ao Vivo - CD
Offered by Smaller World Future
Price: £33.83

4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Show, 3 Feb. 2012
I've already given her self-titled "debut" a 5 - star award and this live CD features practically that whole album plus another 5 songs from earlier recordings. The concert was recorded in 2010 to a wildly enthusiastic audience. I'm afraid their enthusiasm is what's preventing my giving another maximum score. The engineers have left in too much of the audience participation and unfortunately this distracts from my enjoyment. Careful editing could have reduced this problem. which is a shame because these performances and the material is immaculate !!

Gadu's first album from the previous year was largely acoustic guitar driven. Here however she uses her band - and an exceptionally fine unit they are too - so energy levels are up, grooves are funkier and the songs bristle with vitality. Gadu shows up more established singers like Maria Rita in particular by singing in perfect pitch and with great expression. MR and indeed several other Brazilian "divas" have problems staying in tune !

Amazingly, considering her studio album was less than a year old when this concert took place, the audience sings along with every word. Also pretty amazingly Miss Gadu already has enough outstanding material (after only her second studio release) to fill a generous sized compilation CD. Her best known track "Shimbalaie" is of course featured here and the audience singing along with "Dona Cila" (dedicated to Gadu's grandmother) is very moving. I'm hoping that the Multishow DVD will someday appear at a reasonable price as I would find that preferable to this audio version.

The band feel on this CD was carried over into the January 2012 release "Mais uma Pagina" which is another remarkable achievement, and I can't see any limits to this singer's potential - MAJOR MAJOR STAR in the making !!


Meu Canto
Meu Canto
Price: £17.15

4.0 out of 5 stars Getting better with age., 2 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Meu Canto (Audio CD)
Uxia is a highly accomplished Galician singer songwriter. She possesses a lovely voice and can sing across a range of styles from the Celtic folk of her homeland to pop, light jazz or world music. Her warm tones are utterly sympathetic and make her one of Spain's leading vocalists. She performs mainly in her native tongue - Galego, though I suspect some of these songs are in Portuguese.

This, her most recent, album was recorded in Rio de Janeiro and is perhaps her finest release to date. Musical backing is very spare with mostly just 2 acoustic guitars for company. This gives a lovely relaxed and intimate setting which complements her voice. The material becomes a bit more eclectic towards the end of the program where cello and flute change the overall mood of the album. Accordion also appears and gives a nice subtle jazz effect in places.

The first 3 tracks are particularly fine with the 3rd song "Os Teus Ollos" being as beautiful a duet as you are ever likely to hear! It's a most popular Galician songs and this is my favourite of 5 versions I've got. The remaining songs are not quite up to that standard but are very easy on the ear and are quite beautiful when Uxia doubles up on her own vocals. The album finishes with "Alala de Marinas" which is a track she recorded before. It's a very beautiful song and the Brazilian acoustic guitars add a new dimension to conclude a really lovely collection.

As I don't understand the language I cannot comment on the lyrics so I may even be unfair in not going for 5 stars but this is really attractive music, and deserves as wide an audience as possible.


Let It Roll
Let It Roll

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Feat !!, 31 Jan. 2012
This review is from: Let It Roll (Audio CD)
This album should not be this good! After the sad passing of main inspiration Lowell George, it appeared that we'd seen the last of this band. CDs after "Sailin' Shoes" / "Dixie Chicken" / "Feats don't fail me now" had won less praise from the music press. For most bands that would have been the end of the line. Luckily for us that didn't happen in this case. Newcomer Craig Fuller along with the "old reliables" came to the studio with a collection of excellent material and produced the finest and most consistent recording of their entire career.

Fuller turned out to be an excellent choice with a voice super smooth or powerfully rugged as required, and he was aided and abetted in the vocal department by the equally inspired choice of Bonnie Raitt and Linda Ronstadt who contributed ideal backing vocals. Musically the band was as good as ever with great chugging rhythms, glorious funky spaces and a superb variety of styles.

This is one of my most listened to CDs (from nearly 4,000 albums) and the title track is my favourite piece of rock and roll (in it's original sense) ever with it's magnificent brass stabs and off-beats. "One Clear Moment" has a chorus you remember after first hearing and "Hanging on to the Good Times" is Fuller at his very best with a superb vocal performance."Listen to your Heart" has a depth of musicality that few groups even aspire to, let alone achieve ! If these are the high points then there are no real lows and this is a release to savour. Sadly the follow-up never reached the same height but ALL Feat fans should acquire this without any hesitation - and everyone else who loves rock music with a special touch of class. Absolute winner !


Maria Gadu
Maria Gadu
Price: £14.73

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Recording, 30 Jan. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Maria Gadu (Audio CD)
I've been dabbling in Brazilian music over the past 18 months or so and having come across this lady's name a couple of times I decided to download 2 of her albums after hearing some brief samples and checking out her Youtube offerings. She has a lovely expressive voice. The first time I listened seriously to this album I played it through twice. It's that good ! I've since been playing it every day looking for a reason not to award it 5 stars and you know what ? - I can't find any !!

The reason for my reluctance is Maria is only in her 20's, this is her first major label recording, and if you start with 5 stars what happens if she goes on to produce even better music? The songs are almost exclusively in Portuguese but apart from a couple of obvious Latino rhythms she's not another samba or bossa nova merchant. She veers more towards a combination of Marisa Monte's pop and the Mexican Lila Down's adventure. And she writes most of the material here (8 tracks of the 13 are her own originals) and like the classic songwriters many of these songs end before you want them to! Hardly any of the tracks extend much past 4 minutes and there is NO padding!

The first few songs feature delightful chord changes - guitar seems to be her favourite instrument - which is fine by me. She uses both acoustic and (understated) electric guitars as backing and the arrangements are never cluttered. Gadu writes in (and beautifully handles) a variety of styles from old fashioned singer - songwriter to Latin flavour to funk and she also casually throws in a bluesy jazz number. Wit is even added to this heady mix when she finished the above jazzer with the Pink Panther theme. She is also equally at home on her own with her guitar or in a band setting. This bodes very well for her future that she won't be pigeon - holed and Gadu has the voice and naturally relaxed but powerful singing style to become a major international star.

She sings a French song "Ne me quitte pas" composed by Jacques Brel which works brilliantly in her musical setting. She does a couple of excellent songs in English on her follow up - (which doesn't yet show on Amazon's inventory) and her original material without exception is flawless. Like I said I've been trying not to give 5 stars but I read in my research a comment on Miss Gadu by no less than Caetano Veloso who tipped her as one of the most exciting talents EVER produced by Brazil so I will now add my humble voice to endorse that most eminent opinion. This album is guaranteed musical pleasure


Elo
Elo
Price: £13.31

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not likely to add to her Grammys with this offering, 26 Jan. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Elo (Audio CD)
Elo is a disappointing recording from this highly-regarded Brazilian singer. Her first 2 albums were excellent releases that featured a small group setting playing a jazzy type of pop which was a most pleasing alternative to the samba and bossa nova styles and to modern Bralian pop.They also were awarded Latin Jazz record of the year at the Grammys. Almost inexplicably MR did an about turn (record company influence perhaps) and delivered a more populist samba selection that was certainly less inspiring than her previous releases and when viewed on her "Samba Meu Live" DVD came across as singalong, dancealong karaoke. The concert DVD also highlighted some of her vocal deficiencies, and raised issues over her song selection.

Elo unfortunately confirms the above concerns. Her voice cannot be described as beautiful (compared to the likes of Ceu, Bebel Gilberto, Roberta Sa, Marisa Monte and Sabrina Malheiros of her contemporaries) and has lost it's earlier sweetness. She appears to have a small range and constantly sounds like she's in too low a key with her lowest notes being barely audible (especially on her DVDs). She has tuning problems which, combined with a certain degree of "hardness" in her voice, tend to induce fatigue on extended listening. Whereas these could be countered or made bearable by excellent material this is certainly not the case here. Maria Rita is now producing herself and in my opinion needs somebody else at the helm to ensure greater quality control PLUS the use of an auto-tuner and some reverb to soften her vocals. Brazilian music is noted for its languid ease and grace but to my ears Maria Rita makes singing sound like hard work !

You will not read a review like this on Amazon.com where it appears U.S. reviewers can't get enough of her, and she is exceedingly beautiful and has a very well-documented pedigree but I am baffled by the number of 5 star reviews she's picked up there. In support of my claim I would urge listeners to compare the "Historia de Lilly Braun" on "Elo" with the version recorded by Maria Gadu (definitely one to watch) on her self-titled debut CD and you'll quickly hear which is the more talented performer. Rita plods while Gadu swings! MR does not add colour to her voice and consequently needs to be extremely careful with song selection to avoid exposing her apparent (to me at any rate) vocal limitations.

The sub-40 minute playing time actually feels like a lot more. There are too many slow to medium tempo numbers and nice intros (like track 4) fizzle out quite quickly when the singing takes over. Maria does not convey the same intensity here that marked out her first 2 albums as something special.

Backing is exemplary and contributes the most musical moments on this release, but "Elo" is only for confirmed fans. Others should sample her other studio albums and the "Segundo live" DVD but you should give this and her last DVD as wide a berth as possible !! 2.8 stars at best.


Within Temptation - Black Symphony (Blu-ray und DVD) [Region Free]
Within Temptation - Black Symphony (Blu-ray und DVD) [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Within Temptation
Price: £15.62

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Symphonic Rock Masterpiece, 21 Jan. 2012
The Black Symphony may well turn out to be the high point of live Symphonic rock, and is mightily impressive. The spectacular performance is bound to confirm the bands status and broaden their appeal away from the cult Goth Rock following who have been their main fan base.

All the group's best tracks appear here with the bulk of them coming from their 2 preceeding (and best) albums "The Silent Force" and "The Heart of Everything", and some have been slightly rearranged and orchestrated. Sharon den Adel is mesmerising and steals the show. The Metropole Orchestra and choir is magnificent and contributes greatly to the overall power of the performance. Best numbers are the orchestral and choral "Overture"(without the Withins!), "The Howling", "Stand My Ground" and the magnificent duet "Somewhere". The concert is so entertaining that anything less than 5 stars would be unfair.

I do have a number of reservations about the group that few other reviewers have articulated. The musicians are very average - take away the orchestra and their limitations would soon become obvious. There are about 2 minutes of very ordinary guitar instrumental work in a 2 hour performance, none of the group can even sing harmony, and the set-piece acoustic set smacks of posing to be taken as "serious musicians". In other words take Sharon away and these guys are nothing.

That said I still love the concert but fear Within Temptation may well be unable to deliver a credible follow-up. Overall this is really an essential buy as this genre (basically ignored by British and US acts) is well worth exploring.


Black And Grey Durable Nylon Camera Case For Canon EOS 1100D / Kiss X50 / Rebel T3i, Rebel T4i / EOS 550D, EOS 70D, EOS 650D / Rebel T3, Tebel T4 / EOS 60D, EOS 7D By DURAGADGET
Black And Grey Durable Nylon Camera Case For Canon EOS 1100D / Kiss X50 / Rebel T3i, Rebel T4i / EOS 550D, EOS 70D, EOS 650D / Rebel T3, Tebel T4 / EOS 60D, EOS 7D By DURAGADGET
Offered by DURAGADGET LIMITED
Price: £19.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid design with great space and access, 26 Nov. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
If you're looking for an SLR camera bag that's large without being bulky then look no further. This Duragadget carrier is extremely well-constructed, and as I write is very competitively priced. The pointed shape means you can leave your lens on the camera ready to go and still have room for a zoom and any number of other accessories in it's ample compartment. Shoulder strap and the bag offer the confidence of a much more expensive product and I look forward to getting years of use from mine.

In correspondence with the company over a delivery problem they were extremely courteous and customer-friendly so I have no hesitation in giving this camera case my strongest possible endorsement


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