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

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Panasonic ALL1 Network Audio Connector
Panasonic ALL1 Network Audio Connector
Price: £199.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Works well but rather expensive for just an interface, 23 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Panasonic ALL1 Network Audio Connector is the cheapest in a range of Panasonic AllPlay products, this being just an interface while the others comprise both an interface as well as actual speakers. You therefore have to connect this device to you existing hi-fi system. I was quickly able to install the Panasonic Music Streaming App on my iPad and from the quick set-up guide again I was fairly quickly able to configure it to my home wi-fi network but it then needed to update and had to be turned off for 15 minutes?!? The box is compact and seems solid and well made, it connects to your stereo via the supplied standard RCA phono connectors or via an optical digital cable (not supplied) and it also has a connection for an ethernet cable. When it had updated I was then able to play music from my iPad via the Panasonic App (which is fairly straight-forward and user friendly) through the stereo and the quality is surprisingly very good.

However, the majority of my music is on my iMac computer and my iPod, not on my iPad, and unfortunately there is no way to link the ALL1 to either the iMac or the iPod therefore £200 just to play the limited collection of music on my iPad through my stereo seems a tad expensive. Also, although the ALL1 supports Spotify I couldn't use the device to access Spotify and play my playlists etc. - possibly because I use the 'Spotify Free'?

I think that if you use a smartphone (I don't) and an iPad to store music you'll find this device very useful and I was certainly impressed with the sound quality. However, it does seem rather expensive for what is just an interface.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 25, 2015 10:55 PM GMT


Muddy Wolf At Red Rocks (2cd)
Muddy Wolf At Red Rocks (2cd)
Price: £11.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You will be satisfied..., 23 Mar. 2015
For me Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf were the two zeniths of Chicago blues both great front men and leaders but what made their records so good was great ensemble playing from their ever changing bands and great songs from the likes of Willie Dixon. I was interested to see how Joe Bonamassa would approach this tribute to the two Chicago legends filmed at Denver’s famed Red Rocks venue. He’s backed by a band including second guitarist Kirk Fletcher, Reese Wynans on keyboards, Michael Rhodes on bass, Anton Fig on drums and a brass section of Lee Thornburg on trumpet, Ron Dziubla on sax, Nick Lane on trombone and finally Mike Henderson on harmonica. They cover various songs from both bluesmen’s repertoires and towards the end throw in some of Joe’s own popular songs such as “The Ballad Of John Henry” and “Slow Gin”.

Joe doesn’t try to recreate the singing of either Muddy or Wolf or indeed the sound of either man’s band and his heavily-featured guitar solos are typically fast and frantic and will no doubt delight his many fans. I particularly liked his biting slide playing on “My home is in the delta” and “I can’t be satisfied” and the funky takes on “Hidden Charms” and “Killing Floor”. The band is very good and support him perfectly and for a live recording the sound is also excellent. I love all these songs and as someone who was brought up on the originals I am always going to prefer those but I can appreciate these modern takes on these classics and you can clearly hear Joe’s own love and his respect for these blues heroes.

(After a quick look at the DVD I felt that the Muddy Waters songs recorded when it was still light didn’t look as good as the Wolf songs recorded later under the house lights and feeling much more atmospheric.)


Duets: Re-Working The Catalogue
Duets: Re-Working The Catalogue
Price: £9.99

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Re-working his back catalogue, with a little help from some friends..., 16 Mar. 2015
I can't say I'm a huge Van Morrison fan but I think that this record really provides something different from his recent releases - variety - both in the guest voices (some of whom such as Mark Knopfler and Taj Mahal also play their instruments) and in the mixture of styles on offer. We go from the very moving gospel of "if I Ever Needed Someone" with Mavis Staples, to the bluesy "Streets of Arklow" with Mick Hucknall and to the swinging jazz of "The Eternal Kansas City" with Gregory Porter. Every guest vocalist seems very well-matched to the songs they sing - Porter blasts away on "Kansas City" along with Van and Clare Teal is tender and vulnerable on "Carrying a Torch" and of course P.J. Proby (sounding surprisingly good) was born to sing on "Whatever Happened to P. J. Proby". The band also sound really good and the production is first class.

Most of the guests swap verses with Van on these songs from across his career from 'His Band and the Street Choir' in 1970 to his recent 'No Plan B' but his old band-mate Georgie Fame doubles up on the vocals with Van on "Get on with the Show" from 'What's wrong with this picture'. There are some outstanding British and International voices on show here - Chris Farlowe, Bobby Womack, Steve Winwood - but Van matches them all and I came out realising just how good and under-rated a vocalist Van really is - very distinctive but also very versatile. Similarly, the songs here are also diverse displaying Van's many influences - jazz and blues, rock and roll and R&B, as well as his Celtic folk heritage - sometimes all in the same song! - such as "Irish Heartbeat" with Mark Knopfler, at this early stage probably my favourite track, although this is a very consistent record and you know that your favourite track is going change from week-to-week.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 17, 2015 11:44 AM GMT


Airmax Anti Snoring Nasal Dilator
Airmax Anti Snoring Nasal Dilator
Price: £9.28

4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant device, 14 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
After a cold over Christmas I've been left with a blocked nose for the last month or so but only overnight - I don't have a problem during the day - and it means I usually wake up very early in the morning because my nose is blocked. So I thought I'd give this a go, although to be honest I didn't have much faith that it would work. Also I have a big nose and when I saw the little piece of rubber that has to be inserted into the nostrils again I couldn't believe that it would be big enough and that it would work. However, I thought I'd give it go and from the first night it worked brilliantly, it kept my nostrils opened and enabled me to sleep soundly. Also, even from the first night, it was perfectly comfortable and I wasn't really aware I had it in place. It also comes with a useful little box to keep it in during the day.


In The Mix
In The Mix
Price: £10.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Modern take on the blues, 10 Mar. 2015
This review is from: In The Mix (Audio CD)
I was really surprised by this record that manages to keep its blues sensibility but also to sound modern and in addition to include a number of different styles to present a pleasing variety. We start with "Five Long Years" (not the Eddie Boyd blues) a Stones-style rocker, then the funky "Call Me Momma", followed by "Move from the Hood" that mixes a jazzy sax and organ with down home slide guitar. "Lust for You" is a long, restrained track with nice swampy guitar and "I Had It All The Time" and "Set Me Free" are two great blues with Albert King-style lead guitar from Bernard. Finally "Moving On Up" is another great song written by his father Luther, indeed there isn't a bad track or even a moderate track here this is a very good, very consistent record. As good as Bernard is on guitar and vocals, the band of George Moye on bass, Mario Dawson on drums, Bruce McCabe on keys and Jose Ned James on sax also play their part in making this a really good album. Recommended.


Long Way
Long Way
Price: £10.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well sung and played but not enough memorable songs, 9 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Long Way (Audio CD)
This album is classed as 'jazz' by Amazon, it isn’t really jazz but what it is isn’t really clear either - it’s a bit rock, a bit blues, a bit country (it was recorded in Nashville) and OK it does have a kind of jazz sensibility – a little bit like Cassandra Wilson, or maybe a bit like Otis Taylor. It carries on from Chastity’s previous record ‘Back Road Highways’ with a similar laid-back, restrained sound – all swelling organ, slide guitar and haunting background vocals.

I liked the first track “Long Way” which has a slightly tougher edge than all the other tracks although “Sweet Honey” is probably the most uptempo and most ‘cheerful’ track. Other tracks took a number of listens before they began to hit home with me and although everything is very well sung and played, as well as sounding really good, I’m afraid that I thought that overall there weren’t enough memorable songs. Three and a half stars.


Lady Sings The Blues
Lady Sings The Blues
Price: £7.99

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rebecca goes Jazz, 9 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Lady Sings The Blues (Audio CD)
When Rebecca was on X-Factor people who should have known better were saying to me “Oh she’s just like Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone…” I’d have to interrupt them and say “Err, no she’s not, she’s a young woman just starting out, they were the outstanding voices of their generations”. When I saw that her third album was a collection of Billie Holiday songs I can’t say that I was particularly looking forward to it.

The opening track and the first single from the album “Get Happy” surprised me, the band really swing and have a tough edge – this isn’t the usual bland crossover jazz. And Rebecca swings right along with them, with her voice sounding really strong and individual – this isn’t an impersonation of Ms. Holiday. The album was recorded in Capitol’s Studios in Los Angeles with young producer Troy Miller and the sound and arrangements are really good. This isn’t a recreation of Billie’s album of the same name (although it does contain some songs from that album but they have wisely not included ‘Strange Fruit’) rather a collection of jazz songs of the same vintage in a similar style.

I thought that most songs worked very well, on a few others (such as “Blue Moon”) I thought that Rebecca was just a bit out of her depth but I think that over all she has done amazingly well in tackling these jazz standards. I wasn’t as keen on the softer songs with strings – such as “Embraceable You” and “I’ll Never Smile Again” but they do provide a nice vulnerability and contrast with the tougher brass-led songs. After the great start with “Get Happy” and the equally good “Fine and Mellow” I thought that the arrangements did go a bit safer and blander before finally signing off with a rocking “My Man” – where Rebecca sounds like a young Eartha Kitt. However, on the whole this was a lot better than I thought it was going to be and I will be very interested to see what Rebecca does next. Three and a half stars.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 9, 2015 2:35 PM GMT


Country Songs, Blues Singers
Country Songs, Blues Singers
Price: £7.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Blues versions of country songs!, 5 Mar. 2015
This is a a really nice record that features various current blues acts singing country songs - not as unique as that may first sound, there has been overlap for years, in the 60s B.B. King recorded Willie Nelson's song "Night Life" (done here by Tab Benoit) and acts like Clarence 'Gatemouth' Brown and the Holmes Brothers have always included country songs in their sets. Most of these performances work brilliantly, I loved the Holmes Brothers version of Gillian Welch's "Everything is free" ditto their cover of Jim Reeves' "He'll have to go" and in fact all their other songs. Junior Wells turns in a dramatic, brooding version of J. D. Loudermilk's "Tobacco Road" and Javina Magness's take on Buddy Miller's "Dirty Water" is equally moody. Surprisingly Lil Ed and the Blues Imperials do a great restrained job on Billy Joe Shaver's "Tramp on your Street" and Cephas and Wiggins' cover of Merle Travis' "Nine Pound Hammer" sounds just like one of their own country blues (with marvellous harmonica from Phil Wiggins) - perfectly illustrating the success of this very entertaining record.


Philips HX6732/45 Healthy White Rechargeable Toothbrush
Philips HX6732/45 Healthy White Rechargeable Toothbrush
Price: £72.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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: £11.32

2 of 3 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


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