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Reviews Written by
G. E. Harrison (Cheltenham, UK)
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

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Still
Still
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the high water marks of his career, 29 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Still (Audio CD)
This album is produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy at the Loft Studio in Chicago and some may wonder what he could possibly bring to Richard’s oeuvre but I think that he does a great job, freeing Richard to concentrate on his own songwriting and playing. For me this is Richard’s best album for years with great songs and great playing - it reminds me a bit of ‘Shoot Out the Lights’ - there is no real obvious American influence (apart from a general bluesiness) and Richard’s lyrics are still very much redolent of England.

From the first track “She Never Could Resist a Winding Road” you know this is a ‘good un’, – rocky but with the British folk roots clearly showing through. Sima Cunningham’s wonderful backing vocals underline Richard’s own voice and did bring back pleasant memories of Linda at times. There is wonderful guitar playing throughout, both acoustic and electric, with “Guitar Heroes” being Richard’s tribute to his influences, including Les Paul, Django Reinhardt, Chuck Berry and Hank Marvin. Richard’s rhythm section of Taras Prodaniuk on bass and Michael Jerome on drums support him perfectly and both Tweedy and Jim Elkington also add guitar.

For me the outstanding tracks were the aforementioned “She Never Could Resist a Winding Road”, “Beatnik Walking”, “All Buttoned Up”, “Pony in the Stable” (which reminded me of ‘Full House’-era Fairports) ditto “No Peace No End”. However, this is a very consistent album with all the other tracks not far behind and it also has a very pleasing mix of acoustic and electric, fast and slow, happy and sad and it must surely go down as one of the high water marks of his long and productive career.


Cryin' Mercy
Cryin' Mercy
Offered by nagiry
Price: £11.09

4.0 out of 5 stars Soulful rock-blues produced by Tom Hambridge, 24 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Cryin' Mercy (Audio CD)
The Milwaukee-based Altered Five Blues Band used to be just 'Altered Five' but nothing has really changed - they still play soulful rock-blues and this latest record is produced by Tom Hambridge (Buddy Guy, Susan Tedeschi, Joe Louis Walker etc) and he certainly adds to the band's appeal by giving their rocking sounds the perfect straight-ahead production. Their first record 2008's 'Bluesified' featured bluesy versions of covers including ZZ Top's "Tush", The Pretender's "Brass in Pocket" and Prince's "Kiss" but his record appears to be all original songs. Singer Jeff Taylor has an excellent, powerful voice and the band - guitarist Jeff Schroedl, Ray Tevich on keyboards, drummer Scott Schroedl and Mark Solveson on bass - provide him with an excellent very professional backing. My favourite song was the soul ballad "Find my Wings" but there is a lot here to like, including the slow blues "Move House" and "Stay Outta My Business" - which reminded me of Albert King.


Ten Years After
Ten Years After
Price: £11.45

4.0 out of 5 stars Ten Years After's first LP - which has worn surprisingly well, 22 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Ten Years After (Audio CD)
I saw Ten Years After at the 1967 Windsor Jazz and Blues Festival and was very impressed, this was a British blues band who rocked hard but also had a jazzy sophistication, in fact I was so impressed that I ordered this their first LP before it was released without even hearing it. I was slightly disappointed with the record at the time because I thought that it didn't capture the excitement of the band's live performance and to be honest I never played the record much. Listening to it again nearly fifty years later it sounds a lot better than I remember, it sounds surprisingly good - I think that it must be that jazzy sophistication of Alvin Lee's guitar and Chick Churchill's Hammond, together with Leo Lyons and Ric Lee's agile rhythm section that has worn very well.

My original vinyl LP had only the first 9 tracks but the 2002 CD release added 6 additional tracks, including a live version of the crowd pleasing 100-miles-an-hour instrumental Woody Herman's "Woodchoppers Ball". We also have two blues standards, Howling' Wolf's "Spoonful" and Sonny Boy Williamson's slowly building "Help Me" (the band's finale at the time, often driving the crowd to venue wrecking?!?). I think that the record starts off really well and then runs out of steam a bit but it has surprisingly varied sounds, with the country-ish rock of "Losing the Dogs" and the lovely acoustic blues of "Don't Want You Woman". The additional tracks include the singles "Portable People" (more country influence) and "The Sounds" (psychedelic hokum) as well as "Rock Me Baby" clone "Rock Me Mama" and the long slow blues "Spider in my Web".

With these additional tracks this record is much better value than the original release and I am amazed how much better it sounds now than when I first heard it, I'd probably go with the subtle jazzy "I Cant Keep From Crying" as my favourite track.


Holding Court
Holding Court
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £11.79

4.0 out of 5 stars Authentic Chicago blues from the Kings, 20 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Holding Court (Audio CD)
Another really solid album of authentic-sounding Chicago blues from this band fronted by vocalist Oscar Wilson and killer harp player Joe Nosek, with drummer Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith and guitarist Joel Paterson, and also featuring Billy Flynn on guitar, the excellent Barrelhouse Chuck on piano, Mark Haines on drums and Beau Sample on bass. The record features a mix of covers like Jimmy Rogers' "Out On The Road" and John Lee Hooker's "Hobo Blues" (with beautiful Hooker-style guitar from Paterson) and original material and as well as classic harp-led Chicago blues there is also rockin' old-style R&B like Willie Love's “Everybody’s Fishin’” and the doo-wop meets Jimmy Reed of "I Miss You Miss Anne". Joe Nosek is a top class harmonica player (he also sings) and Joel Paterson is a really good guitarist who can play in a number of styles and the whole band sound very authentic - although its not all backward-looking in "Download Blues" the guys sing about free music available on the net and not being being paid for their music - so you have been warned...


Reverend Tall Tree
Reverend Tall Tree
Price: £9.84

4.0 out of 5 stars Promising debut album of blues and soul, 20 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Reverend Tall Tree (Audio CD)
California-based Reverend Tall Tree (Chris Pierce) sings and plays harmonica and is backed by the Blackstrap Brothers (O.T. Parker on guitar, Dr. Cooper on double bass and Professor Lovejoy on drums. What do they sound like? a mixture of gutbucket blues and old skool R&B - with a modern twist, a bit like Vintage Trouble. The repertoire is a mixture of versions of old blues like Little Walter's "Mellow Down Easy", Amos Milburn's "Bad, Bad Whiskey" and Bo Diddley's "Pretty Thing" (the band also feature Bo's "I'm a Man" in their stage set) and original songs, plus they also tackle Dylan's "Everything is Broken". Pierce isn't the world's greatest harmonica player but he is a really soulful singer with a powerful voice and the band back him very well, with Parker's guitar being particularly good and covering a number of different styles.

I really liked the version of Bo Diddley's "Pretty Thing" which respects the original but gives it a slight twist, ditto "Mellow Down Easy", and opener "Light My Candle" is a nice laid-back bluesy stroll. "Railroad Line", "Boom Boom Baby" and "Tell me Mama" are all jumpin' rock and roll/rockabilly tracks, while "How Do I Get Over That" and "Everlasting Light" are both impassioned soul ballads, as is the final track the nine minute "Static Trampoline" with its added harmonica and slide guitar. This a really good debut record, with its basic, straight ahead production really showing what the band can do and demonstrating huge promise for the future - my only reservations were the sound of Chris's harp - way too much treble and I'm not sure if this was a production fault or the way he amplifies it.


Southside
Southside
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £14.71

3.0 out of 5 stars Sugaray's smooth soul blues, 17 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Southside (Audio CD)
Sugaray's 2013 CD 'Dangerous' was one of my records of that year, a really fine varied blues album with some great guest performances, so I was really looking forward to this new record. I'm afraid that on the first few listens I'm a bit disappointed, gone is the variety of the 2013 record and also missing are the guest artists (apart from harmonica player Bob Corritore on 'Take it to the Bank'), Sugaray's vocals are still very good but this is a much more one-dimensional recording concentrating on smoother, Bobby Bland-style soul blues. 'Southside of Town' seems like a low-key way to start the album but it sets the tone for the rest of the record, which features Sugaray singing over a very professional-sounding brass-led band featuring Gino Matteo's lead guitar.

In some ways it was brave of Sugaray to try something completely new after 'Dangerous' (and his day job in the Mannish Boys) but this is certainly a consistent record that holds together well and features all songs by Sugaray and his writing partner Ralph Carter. Only 'Take it to the Bank' departs from the soul-blues template with a more off-the-cuff, down-home, acoustic blues sound, while 'Texas Bluesman' adds some real blues bite, 'All I Think About' is 70s-style funk and my favourite track is probably 'Live to Love Again' which has that real Bobby 'Blue' Bland southern soul-blues sound.


Dylan, Cash, And The Nashville Cats: A New Music City
Dylan, Cash, And The Nashville Cats: A New Music City
Price: £12.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nashville Cats, 15 Jun. 2015
This 2-CD 'various artists' set celebrates Nashville musicians including Charlie McCoy, David Briggs, Kenneth Buttrey, Charlie Daniels, Pete Drake, Mac Gayden, Lloyd Green, Ben Keith, Grady Martin, Wayne Moss, Norbert Putnam etc etc who were known as "The Nashville Cats" and their work in the late 60s and early 70s. Before this Nashville was known as a very conservative town associated mainly with country music but following Dylan's decision to record 'Blonde on Blonde' there in 1966 many others followed him in recording there, including the Byrds, Leonard Cohen, Simon and Garfunkel and even three of the Beatles. It also includes a nod to Johnny Cash's 1969 TV show recorded in Nashville and featuring as guests Dylan and others of his generation, including Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Linda Ronstadt, Gordon Lightfoot, Eric Clapton etc. All these artists are featured on these records, as well as established country acts like Flatt and Scruggs who gained wider fame at this time.

There are some great classic records here including Neil Young's 'Heat of Gold', Cohen's 'Bird on a Wire', Steve Goodman's 'City of New Orleans' as well as some real surprises like the Monkees(!?!) 'Some of Shelly's Blues' and Ian and Sylvia's version of 'Wheel's on Fire'. You'll also get to hear the full version of the Old Grey Whistle Test's theme tune Area Code 615's 'Stone Fox Chase' and Dylan and Cash's duet on 'Girl from the North Country'. It's not just country music though - listen to Charlie McCoy and the Escorts down-home blues 'Harpoon Man' and Mac Gayden’s bluesy slide on J.J. Cale's 'Crazy Mama' - a trend that continues today with blues acts like Boz Scaggs, Bobby Rush and Robben Ford all recently recording in Nashville. This is a really nice collection of tracks featuring some classics, some lesser known songs and with just enough variety to add a bit of spice and interest.


AnySharp Plastic and Stainless Steel 3-in-1 Box Grater, Black
AnySharp Plastic and Stainless Steel 3-in-1 Box Grater, Black
Price: £7.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grate! (for parmesan), 12 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
We often use a grater to grate parmesan onto pasta, pizzas, baked potatoes etc and the slivers of cheese often go everywhere as well as onto the actual food. With this 'Any Sharp' grater you can grate a piece of parmesan and the grated cheese goes straight into the attached see-through plastic box, you can then empty it out onto your food with no mess. The grater and the box can then be easily cleaned. Sorted!

The device is well-made with stainless-steel graters in plastic frames and the see-through box and comes with three different graters, including a slicer, which all fit onto the box and cn be stored in the box. However, it is relatively small and I can't think I'd ever use it grate anything else except parmesan - (possibly spices like nutmeg) but certainly for parmesan it is ideal.


D'Addario EXP16 with NY Steel Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings, Coated, Light, 12-53
D'Addario EXP16 with NY Steel Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings, Coated, Light, 12-53
Price: £12.97

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars They sound great - and also last longer, 10 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These strings are over twice the price of ordinary acoustic strings but they are supposed to last for four times as long - so therefore they are actually better value! Do they last that long? I don't really know, I can never remember when I fitted them and how long they last. However, for me the real reason I use them is the sound - they just have that clear, bright sound with plenty of attack that I love and the 'new string' sound seems to last for ages - particularly if you give them a wipe down after playing. I wouldn't go back to ordinary strings after using these.


Braun Series 9 9040s Wet and Dry Electric Shaver
Braun Series 9 9040s Wet and Dry Electric Shaver
Price: £180.89

3.0 out of 5 stars High price doesn't necessarily produce a close shave, 9 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I hate shaving. It was an immense relief many years ago when my wife bought me my first electric razor as a present as this greatly reduced the time and fuss of wet shaving. That first razor was a Philips rotary shaver and by-and-large I've stayed with that brand ever since, although I'm aware that Braun have a good reputation and also have their adherents. I was very interested to try this razor which I assumed for this very high price would be state-of-the-art in terms of both close shaving and construction. However, when I first held it it seemed very 'plasticy' (although I guess most razors do nowadays), it did feel quite solid and looked OK with its mixture of shiny black plastic and rubber, with electric blue trim. The head contains four 'specialised cutting elements' and pivots forwards and backwards or can be locked in one of 5 positions. Unfortunately I was disappointed with my first dry shave - which wasn't at all close, leaving whiskers visible as well as not feeling smooth - not as good as my old Philips shaver and no where near as close as a wet shave. Maybe I just need to adapt to the action of the Braun as opposed to the rotary action of the Philips. It also has a pop-up facial hair trimmer which I found OK but not as good as the trimmers on Philips shavers - but again that's what I'm used to.

This razor can also be used wet and also with foam (although it has to be cleaned after each foam usage), it can also be used in the bath and can be cleaned by running under the tap.

Charging the razor takes a hour and the battery then lasts for 50 minutes, you can also do a quick charge in 5 minutes. The razor comes with the charging cord (with two-pin plug), a handy zipped soft carrying case and a small bottle of lubricant for the foils (for use if you regularly clean under water). The instruction booklet also covers the other six models in the Series 9 range, so many of the instructions (particularly concerning the 'Clean and charge station') don't apply to this model which is a bit annoying (although I notice that this razor does have "Shaver-to-station contacts"?!?)


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