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G. E. Harrison (Cheltenham, UK)

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Philips HX6732/45 Healthy White Rechargeable Toothbrush
Philips HX6732/45 Healthy White Rechargeable Toothbrush
Price: £75.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Our favourite electric toothbrush, 4 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is our third Philips Sonicare electric toothbrush we really like them and prefer them to the Braun brushes that we used to use. The box claims "no.1 recommended sonic toothbrush brand by dental professionals" but when I recently asked my dental hygienist which was best Philips or Braun, she said that that they were both as good as each other and both better than manual brushing. This 'Heathy White' model comprises the brush itself, two brush heads - 1 standard and 1 Diamond Clean, (very handy for us as I prefer the standard and my wife had recently started using the Diamond Clean head) the "deluxe" charger and a functional white plastic travel case.

The brush has 3 different cleaning modes; 'Clean', 'Sensitive' and 'Clean & White' - the latter supposedly lightens teeth by "2 shades" in "only 2 weeks" - as well as the easy-start function where it increases power during the first 14 uses. It also has a 'smartimer' function which indicates 30 second intervals so you can accurately cover each section of your teeth (although to be honest I'm never aware of this) and switches off after two minutes (2.5 minutes in the 'Clean & White' mode).

It's too early to say if this model will whiten our teeth (I suspect that after too many years of smoking and drinking that it won't) but it is still an excellent electric toothbrush with just the right amount of features and modes to make it easy to use and functional. Although over the last nearly 10 years we have become very used to our Philips brushes, I can still remember when we got our first one we couldn't believe how clean and smooth our teeth felt and spent half the day running our tongues over our teeth!

Ooh Yea - The Betty Davis Songbook (Feat. Joe Bonamassa)
Ooh Yea - The Betty Davis Songbook (Feat. Joe Bonamassa)
Price: £13.69

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Funky rock-blues, with guest Joe Bonamassa, 24 Feb. 2015
I guess most people will be attracted to this record because of the involvement of Joe Bonamassa, which is a shame because Mahalia is a fine singer and her band the Soul Mates are a funky outfit. This is rock-blues with the accent very much on the rock and I felt that on the whole it was a bit short on good memorable songs. Joe contributes some nice guitar solos but in the main he's very much part of the band. My favourite song was "In the meantime" a nice subtle soul ballad (with a great Bonamassa solo) I also quite liked the more funky songs were the R-O-C-K was dropped back a notch, such as "Ooh Yea" and "Anti-Love Song".
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 24, 2015 10:58 PM GMT

The Complete History Of The Blues 1920-1962
The Complete History Of The Blues 1920-1962
Price: £14.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The PERFECT blues compilation - indispensable for both veterans and newbies, 23 Feb. 2015
This is a superb compilation of blues records that starts in 1920 with the first ever blues record "Crazy Blues" by Mamie Smith, together with songs from other classic blues singers like Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey before going on to the cream of country blues singers, including Blind Blake, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Charley Patton, Furry Lewis etc etc. As well as guitarists we also get piano players,, such as Albert Ammons, Little Brother Montgomery and Roosevelt Sykes and also the wonderful jug bands of Gus Cannon and the Mississippi Sheiks as we proceed in chronological order through the development of blues music. The cut off date of 1962 also means that we take in classic 50s Chicago blues from Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and Elmore James and also the electric guitar players including the Kings (BB, Albert and Freddie), Buddy Guy, Otis Rush etc.

However, it isn't just the inclusion of all these key names in blues history that makes this 4-CD set such a marvellous compilation that is invaluable as a one-stop-shop for blues veterans, as well as a great introduction for blues newbies. Every track is particularly well-chosen to represent both the artist and their influence, as well as rounding up particularly significant songs and performances - "Nobody's fault but mine" - Blind Willie Johnson, "Mama don't allow it" - Washboard Sam, "Junker Blues" - Champion Jack Dupree and on and on.

I've been listening to blues for 50 years and I've never seen a collection of tracks that represents the development of the blues so comprehensively and is so carefully compiled and presented - full marks to everybody involved. Now I'm off to listen again and to read the 28-page booklet (would be easier to read in a vinyl box-set).

The Vintage Collection - Blues
The Vintage Collection - Blues
Price: £6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Random Blues, 23 Feb. 2015
This is a very random compilation of blues tracks that contains everything from early Bessie Smith, through vintage John Lee Hooker and the Chicago blues of Elmore James to white acts like Alexis Korner and Dave Van Ronk. The order is also totally random - as though somebody just shovelled these tracks in from a wheelbarrow - we go from the 20s to the 50s, from the country to the city and from Charley Patton to Freddy King. For me it isn’t a pleasant listening experience.

However, that said, there are some fabulous tracks here, some real classics as well as lesser-known songs by undisputed giants of the blues, including Leadbelly, Blind Boy Fuller, Memphis Minnie, Big Bill Broonzy, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. Seventy five tracks for under a tenner is great value and you may (randomly) discover some real gems among this haul.

Ol' Glory [Digipack]
Ol' Glory [Digipack]
Price: £11.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Songs of the South..., 23 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Ol' Glory [Digipack] (Audio CD)
I thought that JJ and Mofro's last CD `This River' was really good and after listening to the first couple of tracks this sounded OK, very professional but not quite up to that high standard, then "Every Minute" came on - what an amazing track that builds throughout to a soulful climax and with great slide guitar from guest Derek Trucks. Again, as with "This River", this record combines all the music of the south - rock, blues, soul and country - and also the lyrics tell of both the history and the ecology of the region and of the band's love for the area. The band, including the brass section, are all integrated on nearly every track, including the more acoustic song "The Island" - which also features Luther Dickinson on dobro.

JJ Grey's voice is really good throughout, very strong and powerful but also capable of restraint, as on the acoustic "The Hurricane". His voice and the band combine to produce their own very distinctive sound, which they can deploy on Stax soul workouts like the title track and also on slower more melodic songs like "Light a Candle" and also the bluesy "Home in the Sky". The deluxe edition has the bonus of the additional track "Santa Claus, True Love and Freedom" a slowly-building soul ballad. I've got to say that at this early stage I still don't think that this is as immediate as "This River" but it may well grow on me.

So Delicious
So Delicious
Price: £10.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Finger lickin' good and blues, 23 Feb. 2015
This review is from: So Delicious (Audio CD)
The "Big Damn Band" is in fact just Reverend Peyton on mandolin/harmonica/guitar and vocals, his wife 'Breezy' Peyton on percussion/washboard/ background vocals and distant cousin Aaron "Cuz" Persinger on drums/percussion/bucket(?)/hollerin'(??) but they serve up a whole mess of old skool country blues brought uptown. It's very much in the spirit of Mississippi hill country blues, stripped down but built on hypnotic grooves and it chimes perfectly with modern acts like the Black Keys, White Stripes etc. When you thought that all the old blues riffs had been used up the Reverend seems to have found a whole new slew of them here and make no mistake this guy can play, listen to his beautiful plaintive slide guitar on "You're not rich" and "Scream at the night". Elsewhere he carves out rocking, infectious grooves on "Let's jump a train" and "Front porch trained", not to mention down and dirty blues like "Dirt" and "We live dangerous". After last year's "Gospel Album" this is back to the down home blues of "Between the ditches" and previous records and is possibly their best album to date.

Tainted Rose
Tainted Rose
Price: £12.37

3.0 out of 5 stars Versatile singer who covers all shades of blues, 16 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Tainted Rose (Audio CD)
I've never heard of Janet Lynn before and don't know anything about her. On first listen she has a good, very expressive voice and goes from the slightly country-inflected title track to the modern blues of "Crazy About You" to the soul blues of Dorothy Moore's "Misty Blue" (which I suspect is the genre she is most at home in). She also covers the Elmore James' classic "It Hurts Me Too" and Lazy Lester's "Sugar Coated Love", as well as the swinging jump blues of "Sweet Daddy" and the sophisticated jazzy blues of "Masquerade". She is therefore a very versatile and competent singer, however I felt that backing was just a bit routine and emotionless and that the producer didn't really get the best from Janet or the musicians.

Don't Lose This
Don't Lose This
Price: £13.77

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great reminder of Pops' distinctive guitar playing and vocals, 16 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Don't Lose This (Audio CD)
The tracks that form the basis of this album were recorded in 1999 the year before Pops Staples died. They were finished off by daughter Mavis and her producer Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, with Jeff playing guitar and bass, his 18-year-old son Spencer playing drums and Mavis adding her wonderful vocals. Pops may not be as lauded as blues guitarists like BB, Albert and Freddy King but his reverb and tremolo-laden guitar playing is just as distinctive and formed the backbone that all the Staple Singers' records were based on. His laid-back, restrained vocals are also very distinctive and on a song like Blind Willie Johnson's "Nobody's fault but mine" are perfect for displaying the close connections between blues and gospel - despite what some would have you believe. (Pops was born on the Dockery Plantation, which at one time or another was also home to bluesmen Charley Patton, Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Brown and Tommy Johnson.)

These songs and their arrangements are all fairly straight forward and stripped-down - and non the worse for that - with both traditional songs like "Will the circle be unbroken" and more modern songs like Bob Dylan's "Gotta serve somebody" being subjected to the same formula. "The Lady's Letter" features Pops, Mavis, Yvonne and the late Cleotha all on vocals and sounds like classic Staples Singers, while "Love on my side features just Mavis as lead singer. Other songs feature Pops as lead singer backed up by Mavis or the sisters, with the harmonies and understanding that only family groups can deploy. Pops' guitar sounds great throughout and I also really liked Spencer Tweedy's drumming, which powers the songs along without being too in your face or flashy. At this early stage my favourite track is "No news is good news", closely followed by "Somebody is watching" but this is a very consistent set of songs which follows on from Pops' 90s solo albums "Father Father" and "Peace in the Neighbourhood" and I think is even better than those records.

VAX C86-AW-Phe Air Silence Vacuum Cleaner, 800 W
VAX C86-AW-Phe Air Silence Vacuum Cleaner, 800 W
Price: £211.94

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Workmanlike vacuum cleaner with a few little niggles., 14 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
As my wife and have got older it's got harder to lug our upright vacuum cleaner up and downstairs so we got a small Dyson to keep upstairs which served us well until it recently broke and as it is now discontinued we couldn't get it repaired. This Vax cleaner looks very similar and so we got it to also use upstairs however, despite looking the same as the Dyson this is much bigger and much heavier. Although it is only 800 watts it does have very powerful suction and works really well on hard surfaces like our laminate bathroom floor and floorboards but less well on carpets and rugs, it got very clogged with rug fibres and didn't clean the carpet as well as the old Dyson. We also found it harder to manoeuvre the machine around (because of the extra weight and cumbersome wheels) and it's much more bulky than the Dyson to store and the attachments aren't kept on the cleaner but have to be stored separately.

In operation the cleaner is surprisingly quiet (possibly as a result of only being 800 watts) but again with the heavy weight and limited mobility it is difficult to use on the stairs. We've also found that the automatic cable rewind doesn't fully rewind the cable - not a deal breaker but a bit annoying. The cleaner does seem well-made with the plastics being of a similar high standard to Dyson cleaners - probably the reason for its heavy weight. It is easy to empty but beware that you don't pull the handle to release the dust container by mistake as I did - at least the cleaner was close at hand to suck the mess back up! All-in-all a workmanlike vacuum cleaner that has a few little niggles.

Tomorrow Is My Turn
Tomorrow Is My Turn
Price: £14.74

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A well-produced varied collection of songs showcasing Rhiannon's wonderful voice, 9 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Tomorrow Is My Turn (Audio CD)
I'm aware of Rhiannon Giddens from her work with the Carolina Chocolate Drops and her recent appearance on the 'New Basement Tapes - Lost on the River' CD and this her first solo record is also produced by T Bone Burnett, who produced that CD. Rhiannon is a beautiful woman with a beautiful voice and I thought that I knew what to expect from this record - the kind of backwoods, backward-looking folk music that she makes with the Chocolate Drops - but I was wrong this is a very varied collection of songs and styles, possibly reflecting the involvement of Burnett. However, it's Rhiannon's voice that stands out for me rather than Burnett's arrangements, she effortlessly flits from pure folk inflections bringing to mind Joan Baez and Sandy Denny to the gospel of Sister Rosetta Tharpe and also takes in country, R&B and pop, with the vocal style not necessarily matching the song on which it is deployed. Rhiannon is definitely the latest in the line of great black American song stylists that takes in, amongst others, Bessie Smith, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Billie Holliday, Mahalia Jackson, Nina Simone and Aretha Franklin.

The album begins with the bluesy "Last Kind Words" before veering slightly off piste with Dolly Parton's very poppy "Don't Let It Trouble Your Mind", then getting back on track with Odetta's dramatic work song 'Water Boy". "She's Got You" is the Patsy Cline country song that emerges here as a rock and roll-style soul ballad. Sister Rosetta Tharpe's "Up Above My Head" is delivered straight (with the addition of some nice rocking' fiddle from Gabe Witcher), as is the folk song "Oh love is teasing" and also Elizabeth Cotton's lovely "Shake Sugaree" (with nice slide guitar from Canadian guitarist Colin Linden). I wasn't convinced by the rocked up version of "Black Is the Colour" - dedicated to Mrs. Gidden's ginger Irish husband?! - which for me doesn't have the power of Nina Simone's mournful version but the traditional "Round About the Mountain" is a wonderfully sophisticated performance that somehow manages to combine all the previous genres together with jazz and show tunes in a peerless vocal tour de force. The album closes with Rhiannon's own song the understated "Angel City".

I really enjoyed this record and T Bone Burnett's production, which isn't as "in your face" as some of his work but is much more restrained and sympathetic, allowing the spotlight to fall on Rhiannon Giddens' wonderful voice. The album was recorded in Los Angeles and Nashville with Burnett assembling a cast of skilled session musicians including bassists Paul Kowert and Dennis Crouch, drummers Jay Bellerose and Jack Ashford and backing singer Tata Vega, as well as Rhiannon's Chocolate Drop band-mate Hubby Jenkins.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 10, 2015 9:11 AM GMT

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