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Reviews Written by
S. C. Trump "stevect" (Upminster, Essex)

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Offered by MediaMerchants
Price: £9.08

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Kind of Magic, 5 Dec. 2009
This review is from: 40/40 (Audio CD)
I agree with the other reviewer in that with a double cd compilation of the best of the Carpenters it defies logic that 'A Kind of Hush' is not included. The Carpenters version was every bit as good as Herman's Hermits original. Just who does decide what tracks to include and what to leave out ?

Saying that, this is an excellent value double cd of (most) of the greatest recordings of Karen and Richard Carpenter and a much better proposition that the near facsimile of 'Gold' released a few years ago.

Those well known tracks are all here (except 'hush') interspersed with some lesser known and even a welcome inclusion of some more obscure Carpenters tracks.

So, what is hidden here that the casual listener may not be familiar with ? 'Ordinary fool' is Blousie's torch song from 'Bugsy Malone' and a recent school production I saw reminded me that the Carpenters version laid tucked away on 'Voice of the Heart'. Nice to see it included here; a lovely song beautifully sung by Karen. 'Crystal Lullaby' (and 'Road Ode' not included here) sat on what was side two of the wonderful 'A Song for You' album and provided some of the high points of that album. 'Crystal' (written by Richard and John Bettis) features Richards understated vocals and is a delicate arrangement of rare beauty that only the Carpenters could create. Rod Stewart recorded a classic version of Tim Hardins 'Reason to believe' but hearing the Carpenters version, it certainly stands up well to the scottish gravel voiced star's definitive cut. If you have the Beatles 'Please please me' album you will be familiar with 'Baby it's you' and here from the 'Close to you' album is the Carpenters take on that song. More smoochy than the fab fours effort, this is a welcome inclusion as is the similarly titled 'Maybe it's you' from the same original album. Finally, the last of the obscure tracks I will showcase here is 'One more time', another delicate ballad from 'A Kind of Hush' (the album of the same name!).

So what would I have included in place of a couple of cuts that were included? One of my favourite Carpenters tracks has never been on any of their many compilations; 'I can't make music' from 'Now and Then' in place of 'Those good old dreams', the aforementioned 'A Kind of Hush' in place of 'Bless the beasts and the children' and finally 'Look to your dreams' from 'Voice of the heart' in place of 'When it's gone' to close off the set.

Personal choice I guess, but in summary a worthy compilation to have handy if you haven't got most of these timeless songs already.

Air Supply
Air Supply

5.0 out of 5 stars Short Supply, 28 Nov. 2009
This review is from: Air Supply (Audio CD)
Goodness me, this album is selling for sky high prices these days and anyone who hasn't got a copy is really missing out. Surely a more mainstream release is due with the original cover featuring Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock and not those darned sailing boats!?

Released in the mid 80s, this album contained six Air Supply classics as follows:-

1) The Power of Love. You've heard Jennifer Rush's original, Celine Dion's big hit cover but I'll bet not many people have heard this version and that's a shame as it's a great production. Russell sings "you are my lady, and I am your man" which doesn't detract from the tune at all, unlike where some songs 'jar' if they are reverse-gendered. Every bit as good as the original and better than the Celine Dion version.

2) I can't let go. Just a wonderful Graham Russell/Billy Steinberg ballad with a soaring chorus and Russell reaching those high notes with perfection.

3) When the time is right. A song that should be titled 'Jane, take me to your room again'. Written by the unknown (to me) Gerald Milne a song with contrasting verses and chorus.

4) Great Pioneer. A slightly whimsical, mid-tempo song with a flute-like riff to it. Another great production.

5) Sunset. The most simplistic song on the album. Just Russell and the guitar accompany this song on the first of two verses with the lush orchestration entering on the second verse. A peaceful, soothing song, again written by Graham Russell which must have been great to sing live and serves to whet the appetite for the final track....

6) Never fade away. The final track and surely Graham Russell's most underrated composition. The song is a slow burner with Graham himself singing the verses whilst Russell takes over for the stonking chorus. At the refrain, the pitch incredibly goes up with Russell again shining on the high notes. Why is this song not better known?

So that's the six outstanding tracks, but what of the rest of the album? The opening track 'Just as I am' was the first single and it's a mid tempo ballad written by Rod Hegel and Dick Wagner (who?) that packs some nice guitar licks. 'After All' is standard Air Supply fare written by Seth Swirsky (who again). 'I wanna hold you tonight' and 'Make it right' are two tracks co-written by Graham Russell that are the albums weak points for me. 'Sandy' is a cover of the 1973 Bruce Springsteen track from 'The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle' which is a surprise addition. Finally 'Black and Blue' (another Graham Russell co-written song) has a great 80s feel intro but is let down by a fairly innocuous tune.

Definitely a mixed bag album in totality but warrants five stars for the quality of the six tracks I have highlighted. My favourite Air Supply original album, and one that comes out of the cabinet time and time again.

A Curious Feeling (CD+DVD)
A Curious Feeling (CD+DVD)

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A glorious revealing, 15 Nov. 2009
Unlike most of the other reviews, I had never actually got into this album despite being a Genesis fan and having bought everything they released (at this time) other than this. Never sure why as everyone else said it was a great album and I dismissed it after one half-hearted listen. So, other than the single 'For a while' and its two B sides (I have both versions of the single) 'From the Undertow' and ' A Curious Feeling' this was all new to me.

I have to say that it's a slow burner of an album; rewarding once you have given it several listens. Not as accessible as Tony's following album 'The Fugitive'. The vocals are handled by Kim Beacon who sang latterly with String Driven Thing and, as the extensive notes mention, sadly passed away so was not able to contribute anything to this reissue. The sound is crisp and bright and although I have not got 5.1 to appreciate its full scope, sounds wonderful in stereo. It's hard to pick out the best tracks as there are some memorable bits in all the songs (three of which are gorgeous keyboard instrumentals). I'll have to concur with Tony's own view and say that the album is best appreciated when played right through.

All in all, a worthwhile and successful reissue with extensive sleeve notes, and I am glad I bothered to purchase and give it a proper listen.

p.s. One thing that did strike me as 'curious' is that this release is not on EMI (who purchased the Charisma/Virgin catalogue) but on the obscure Esoteric Recordings, part of Cherry Red Records although the original label and catalogue number is referred to on the sleeve.

Testing Times: In Pursuit of the Ashes
Testing Times: In Pursuit of the Ashes
by Andrew Strauss
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Andrew's Ashes, 12 Nov. 2009
I'm somewhat surprised that on-one has reviewed this book as there were a shedload of people queuing up for Andrew to sign copies when I bought mine in early October. Anyway, reading Andrew Strauss's second book immediately after tackling `Coming back to me' by Marcus Trescothick was probably slightly unfair as the Trescothick book has won awards and is more than just a cricket book.

The book charts Andrew's cricket career from the period just after he regained his form in the final knock against New Zealand following his omission from the Test Squad to Sri Lanka. It's an honest and modest summary of both his and the team's achievements culminating in the fantastic Ashes victory in the summer of 2009. It's interesting to read an inside view of how the team responded to the humiliating defeat in the 4th Test at Headingley and then bounced back in the Oval with Stuart Broad's match winning spell of bowling. Andrew showers much praise on Freddie Flintoff emphasising that his contribution to the team is much more than statistics reflect. Otherwise, there is little insight into other characters in the England team and (as you would expect), no outright criticism of them such as we have seen from ex-players who have released their autobiographies after retiring from the game or international duty.

The one aspect regarding the Ashes win which does not receive comment from Andrew is the fact that the series was unavailable on free view television; something which for me made the series less absorbing than the 2005 series had been. How the players feel about their lesser exposure is not explored and it would be interesting to have learnt some inside views on this controversial topic.

So, in summary this is an interesting if not particularly absorbing read and I might be tempted to read an alternative book on the Ashes series written by someone who has more freedom of speech.

Refugees: An Anthology Of The Famous Charisma Label 1969-1978
Refugees: An Anthology Of The Famous Charisma Label 1969-1978

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Charismatic, 24 Oct. 2009
As a collector of Charisma records since I bought my very first record; '...and then there were three...' by Genesis in 1978, I feel quite well placed to comment on this package.

Following the 'Charisma Box' released some years ago now (where have those years gone?) comes this new three disc set capturing the cream of the label in the years 1969 to 1978; some would say the heyday for the label. It's a very mixed bunch with prog, folk, AOR and even comedy from the Pythons. Something for everyone, and a tribute to the talent spotting of label founder, the late Tony Stratton-Smith. But despite the diversity, it's all good!

The set itself has been lovingly produced with a thick booklet packed with facts about the artists featured and many photos. The design and effort that has gone into this is superb; even down to the 'pink scroll' designs on the three discs. Each track has info about its original release and the track included by Bell+Arc makes its first appearance on CD.

Individual tracks that for me stand out are 'Refugees' by VDGG, 'Twilight Alehouse' the rare Genesis B-side from the 'I know what I like' single, 'City Song' by Lindisfarne from the 'Fog on the Tyne' album (containing some wonderful production by Bob Johnston, especially on the echoing harmonies), Clifford T Ward's timeless 'Gaye' and Peter Gabriel's finest solo hour in 'Solsbury Hill'. There's hardly a duff track on here really.

A few minor quibbles I do have which would have resulted in 4.5 stars if that had been possible (I rounded up to 5). There is duplication of artists and an exclusion of other contenders from the Charisma stable in this period. Gary Shearston's 'I get a kick out of you' is a major omission. I would also have liked to have seen included a track by Pacific Eardrum (one of the few Charisma bands featuring a female band member); Levinsky/Sinclair whose soaring 'Only feel this way' should have been a big hit; The Blue Max with 'Dream Machine' and finally Chris White whose Beach Boys style rendered a minor hit in 1976 with 'Spanish Wine'.

One final thought; Charisma shared catalogue numbers with B&C (Beat and Commercial)records until mid 1972. The two labels released a similar eclectic range of music and some B&C songs would not have been out of place on this set. Perhaps a collection of B&C recordings is due?

...and also, since this set covers 1969 - 1978, perhaps a second set from 1979 - 1984 should follow?

Someone's Watching Me [DVD] [1978] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Someone's Watching Me [DVD] [1978] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by afternoon-matinee
Price: £17.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good to see this again after so many years, 16 Oct. 2009
I saw this film a number of times in the late 70s and early 80s as it was shown on the TV quite often. However, I don't think it has been shown now for many years. At the time, I thought it was a great creepy film which kept the tension up throughout. Just who is watching the heroine and why?

Without revealing the ending, I'll just say that for me the film certainly did live up to my sometimes dodgy memory. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing it again. The thing that did strike me however, is the 70s outfits that the heroine and her friends are sporting throughout and the sheer number of scenes showing almost all the characters smoking! I don't think this type of thriller would depict this now.

Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead, 2009 Easter Special   [DVD]
Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead, 2009 Easter Special [DVD]
Dvd ~ David Tennant
Price: £3.99

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Four past midnight, 9 Jun. 2009
I enjoyed this story even if some of the ideas reminded me of the excellent Stephen King story 'The Langoliers' from the book 'Four Past Midnight'. I loved Michelle Ryan as the Doctor's sidekick (compare that accent to that she used for Zoe Slater - miles better !) even though she seemingly will be only involved for this one episode. I say seemingly as you can never tell with long term Doctor Who plots. I recommend this as a very enjoyable yet not essential Doctor Who story. Oh, and by the way, the Bus used is somewhat anachronistic and would have never seen service on the streets of London (Cardiff) let alone the fictitious route 200.

Blake's 7: The Keeper/Star One [VHS] [1978]
Blake's 7: The Keeper/Star One [VHS] [1978]
Offered by londonstorehouse
Price: £14.99

3.0 out of 5 stars The good and the bad, 23 May 2009
The Keeper was to my mind, utter rubbish. Typical of Blakes 7. You never knew what you were going to get. For every Star One there was The Keeper, for every great episode, there was a less than great counterpart. Star One was terrific and a great end to the season. So skip the first 50 minutes of this tape (i.e. The Keeper) and enjoy Star One.

Gibsons Sweet Memories of the 1970's jigsaw puzzle. (1000 pieces)
Gibsons Sweet Memories of the 1970's jigsaw puzzle. (1000 pieces)

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sweet memories of the school tuck shop, 20 May 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Anyone at school in the 70s as I was will probably recognise the sweets on this puzzle; some are still available today like the ever present 'Mars', 'Kitkat' and Cadbury's Roses. But who remembers the short lived 'Laughs' or 'Monster Bars' (both Cadbury's)or even 'Amazin Raisin'? This puzzle showcases genuine sweet wrappers from that era which seems sooo not long ago. If you want a difficult puzzle, then this is not for you but if you enjoy knocking off a 'thousand piecer' in an afternoon and wallowing in sticky nostalgia, then I defy any puzzler not to achieve that goal. Great quality pieces too.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 4, 2010 6:23 PM GMT

Strange Affair
Strange Affair

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The most uneven Wishbone Ash album ever, 10 May 2009
This review is from: Strange Affair (Audio CD)
Make no mistake, this album contains some absolute classic songs from Wishbone Ash. 'Wings of desire' and 'Standing in the rain' fall into that category. The former being one of the best songs ever written by Andy Powell never to be a hit single and the latter being a classic piece of Ash rock written by Ted Turner.

Elsewhere the album contains good songs such as the title track, 'Some conversation' and 'Hard times'.

The rest ? well the less said about some of them the better with Martin Turner's 'You' being the worst offender.

A very uneven album but one which should not be overlooked for the quality of the best tracks.

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