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M. Boyle "Mark Boyle - Pick of The Bunch" (Scotland)

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Fury [DVD] [2014]
Fury [DVD] [2014]
Dvd ~ Brad Pitt
Offered by PurpleKactus
Price: £3.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hyper macho war-porn for meatheads and scheme goblins - an insult to anyone else's intelligence, 13 Aug. 2016
This review is from: Fury [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
How bad is this movie? As bad as a movie gets - war genre or otherwise.

From the ludicrous tracer fire which resembles Star Wars laser weaponry to the whole hyper-machismo from start to finish which has little to do with the realities of American soldiers in World War 2 (little more than taking the 'new realism' of Band Of Brothers to silly extremes), this is simply Brad Pitt exercising his inflated ego and midlife crisis in another Inglourious Basterds style load of twaddle, albeit with a veneer of slightly less deviation from fantasy.

The ludicrousness of 'Fury' is encapsulated by Pitt's character's name. 'Wardaddy' - the sort of name some basement dwelling Battlefield server player might dream up - but in World War 2 they'd be laughed at.

The only real surprise is the twist at the end with the 'good' Waffen SS soldier lying to his comrades so the last surviving tank crew member can survive as they move on. The rest of it is predictable pulp machismo, the pornography of meatheads and scheme goblins which would insult the intelligence of a five year old. In the scene within the two German girls homes they force themselves in, by the 'logic' of all that's gone before in the film's narrative, you are supposed to be impressed with Wardaddy's crew that they don't rape them - as insulting to the viewers sensibilities as it is offensive.

By the end of quite possibly the most over the top against-the-odds battle this side of an Audie Murphy flick, you're actually quite pleased they've all (bar one) been killed - none of the characters are remotely sympathetic or likeable. That is the most damning failure of all.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 20, 2017 1:34 PM GMT

Samsung 500GB 850 EVO M.2 SSD
Samsung 500GB 850 EVO M.2 SSD
Price: £158.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Very worth the price, 14 April 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Delivered with an hour to go to the deadline - works like a charm. Recommended highly.

Idle Gossip
Idle Gossip
Price: £15.10

5.0 out of 5 stars Dark times made for a darkly brilliant album - one of the Toy Dolls finest hours, 13 April 2016
This review is from: Idle Gossip (Audio CD)
The sky blue minimalist cover with what was the new Toy Dolls logo of the time (fan pressure brought the trademark building blocks one back however in the end) belies the material inside. This is as far removed from the previous cheer of "A Far Out Disc" as the gruesome threesome ever got.

Recorded in what sounds like a tunnel (in reality the strange underground Fairview studios favoured by bands wanting to make records sound the same as if playing "live"), with the Sisters of Mercy's engineer Roy Neave, the strange subtle echo to this befits what is undoubtedly the darkest of all Toy Dolls albums - written when Olga was going through the unhappiesst time of his life: his unrequited obsession with Kendra, plus first (and only) mild flirtation with alcohol abuse to mask his unhappiness with this and "Nellie The Elephant" proving a millstone around the band's neck. Even the band of Dean Robson and Graham Edmundson (who frequently appeared in the Toy Dolls history to save them in a crisis) dressed in all black at this time.

There's nothing like unhappiness however to make a great record, and the darkness and frantic time in Olga's life permeates the "Idle Gossip" album to produce one of their finest hours. No slick trying hard to please commercial style of "A Far Out Disc", there's a genuine rawness and power to the songs, and even the one joke number - "Harry Cross" - concerned the old curmudgeon from Channel 4's "Brookside" embittered by tragedies. You wonder did Olga see something of himself in Harry at that time.

Even one of the great moments of the album - the rollicking "You Won't Be Merry On A North Sea Ferry" about the less than 5-star service afforded to passengers (& contrary to the Kenneth Williams adverts of the time about "laughing all the way") complete with "Ahoy-Ahoy-Ahoy!"s - got the band into further bad blood with the media when months after release came the Zeebrugge ferry disaster (leading to it not being played in concert for two decades). Poor Olga couldn't catch a break with this one.

The thundering running pace set from the off with the title track, Olga's weaselly yikkering counterpointed by the football hooligan style backing of Dean and Teddy (which became the Toy Dolls standard chorus thereafter through all subsequent line ups) as they verbally lay into tittle tattles at a pace even Chas 'n' Dave would have sweated to match, although even that is little compared to the frantic guitar solo (another Toy Dolls trademark established by this album) which both here and especially the later "Keith's A Thief" would reduce the most hardened guitarist to tears trying to copy.

Aside from "North Sea Ferry", the other major highlight of the album - and indeed one of the all time best songs in the Toy Dolls canon - comes with the angry singalong "Peter Practice's Practice Place" (as it's more commonly known nowadays). Peter was none too amused at the time (not least of all after all the help he gave Olga & the band during the "Fisticuffs In Frederick Street" defamation debacle), but was mollified by a decade's long visitations from delighted foreign fans wanting their photos taken with him as it's their favourite Toy Dolls song - many from Japan.

For "Idle Gossip" was the album that deservedly broke the Toy Dolls in the one nation that eluded far bigger bands - and to this day one of the most popular football chants in Japanese domestic football is done to the tune of this album's "The Lambrusco Kid" (Lambrusco being abused in parts of the UK in much the same manner Thunderbird once was or Buckfast remains to this day).

As dark as a "Sandman" story, raw as throat catarrh, frantic as a rabbit trapped in a snare, it could be an exhausting ride for some, and is certainly not atypical Toy Dolls fare (although it set several of the band's trademark motifs on later recordings). The bonus tracks (all of which were recorded long before "Idle Gossip" are good for setting context. The single "James Bond Lives Down Our Street" that had some surprise success in Switzerland (despite the accusations of the British press that it was "another novelty record", it actually concerned a mentally ill man Olga had been told his late father had encountered during his morning commutes to work) had two flip tracks "Olga, I Cannot" and "Griefsville" concerning the painful Kendra episode which was to permeate the album to come (Aside from these and "Lambusco Kid", "PC Stoker" concerning Kendra's uncle and the disturbing "I'll Get Even With Steven" her boyfriend).

But it's fitting this reissue should end with the Japanese sung version of "Geordie's Gone To Jail". Japan and the Japanese gave Olga something better to obsess over instead of Kendra, the band refocused & continued, and three decades later remain with us having passed through many line ups and pace changes since then. But "Idle Gossip" was the album that helped more than any other to define that atypical Toy Dolls sound, albeit none were ever to possess that fretting, anxiety ridden quality that made "Idle Gossip" such a dark one off. Not a happy album, but by God a downright brilliant one.

The Boomtown Rats
The Boomtown Rats
Price: £0.99

1.0 out of 5 stars It may be called "The Boomtown Rats" but it sounds nothing like them, 28 Sept. 2013
This review is from: The Boomtown Rats (MP3 Download)
A truly dreadful waste of 5 minutes of your life, one of two "new" tracks plastered onto the new compilation to get the "completists" to buy the disc in the shops. It sounds like a "Sex, Age & Death" or "How To Write Popular Songs That Will Sell" reject & in all honesty probably was.

If ever there was proof that the Boomtown Rats were nothing without Johnnie Fingers & Gerry Cott - the two most accomplished musicians of the band - this is damning.

Back To Boomtown
Back To Boomtown
Price: £0.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Completely dreadful, 28 Sept. 2013
This review is from: Back To Boomtown (MP3 Download)
It sounds like something Geldof rejected for either "Sex, Age & Death" or "How To Write Popular Songs That Will Sell".

Back To Boomtown : Classic Rats Hits
Back To Boomtown : Classic Rats Hits
Offered by mrtopseller
Price: £4.99

4 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth buying merely to bankroll Crowe & Roberts' dotage, 26 Sept. 2013
So Bob the Billionaire & Patrick "Pete Briquette" Cusack get attacks of conscience over the only two of the six ex-Boomtown Rats members that didn't find fame & fortune after the post-Live Aid implosion (hello Simon Crowe & Garry Roberts), and in a cynical piece of attempting to shakedown the dwindling Rats fanbase one last time a "reformation" appears.

Bob & Pete, back with the two that have been touting an awful Boomtown Rats tribute act round dingy back clubs & pubs for years. You couldn't make it up. Jeez Bob, couldn't you simply have bunged the two a wad for their impending dotage & left us with our happy memories intact?

Had they stuck to that IOW festival appearence, this would be tolerable. But instead, they've issued yet another "best of" package when there remains easily available for purchase the fine "The Best of the Boomtown Rats" (the nineteen tracks for which were voted for by fans).

This new collection contains less original tracks (fourteen) & two simply awful "new" tracks (surprise, surprise, co-written with Roberts & Crowe, meaning more money for them that the previous compilation) - both of which Bob wouldn't even use as CD single fillers if he was honest with himself - and charging almost double what it will cost in the shops for the privilege.

Don't touch this compilation with a ten foot barge pole. Get the original compilation, & with the money saved start buying up the studio albums if you liked it.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 20, 2013 11:26 AM BST

The Album After The Last One
The Album After The Last One

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Curate's Egg, But Still Worth Getting For The Price, 11 April 2012
That this album has come out at all represents more a sigh of relief for Toy Dolls fans than anything else. The end of the previous "Our Final Album?" was punctured with Olga stopping the band and saying "Hang on, this isn't REALLY our last album?" much to the joy/relief of their fans, although this was punctured with much "will I won't I?" from Olga thereafter so that this record's come out at all represents a triumph of common sense over Olga feeling his age (despite the alarming fact the post 50 Michael Algar still sounds far younger than the rest of the current band line up!).

That said, the speed with which "Our Last Tour?" sold out may also have concentrated Olga's mind wonderfully, as the band that struggled to sell gigs for two decades filled halls previously only in the band's wildest dreams - amazing what having your own website can do for a band the pub bores will claim "nobody listens to" (although releasing one of the strongest albums in their history did help).

The Toy Dolls you see are something (at least in the UK) of a dirty little secret, punk's equivalent of cheese and toast: not fancy, but strangely comforting as well as satisfying, and something you're guaranteed you'll return to again and again long after others you've gone off others you thought you liked more. True, the yikkering weasel lead vocals backed with football hooligan chants might not be everyone's idea of singing, but few can turn out a catchy tune with such casual ease. All the mishaps and all the line-up changes later, the Toy Dolls remain a reliable en spec purchase.

So to the new album, which Olga wasn't impressed with as per usual. Unfortunately it does suffer from a terrible running order, starting off with the disposable "Credit Crunch Christmas" single and going further downhill with "Molly Was Immoral" (please Olga, can you drop the obligatory "Coronation Street" song per album) before "Sciatica Sucks" decends into that nice-song-let-down-by-godawful-chorus territory most Toy Dolls fans had hoped were never to be heard from again after "We're Mad".

However, this trough is followed by four tracks with the Toy Dolls at the top of their game, starting with the irrestistable singalong "B.E.E.R." before the best track of the album, the hilarious "Kev's Cotton Wool Kids" about a mate's over-protective parenting (to the extent they're not allowed to watch Blue Peter as it's "too violent"!). This is followed by a switch of vocals and style to drummer Mr Duncan for the excellent "Don't Drive Your Car Up Draycott Avenue" on the delights of London traffic congestion. The quartet is rounded off with an atypical piece of Toy Dolls fast fret madness with "Dirty Doreen" about an 84 year old nymphomaniac - a textbook lesson on how to be sideachingly funny without needing to swear or being crude to achieve it.

Alas, thereafter comes "Down At The Old 29", "Marty's Mam", "Gordon Brown Gets Me Down", which seem exercises in name-dropping without being remotely good, but the end is rescued before the as ever splendid theme song and bonus tracks by "Decca's Drinking Dilemma", complete with the funkiest bass there's been in a Toy Dolls song since the days of John "K-Cee" Casey.

Is it worth getting an album where only half the new material tracks are good? In this case "yes", because you'll still be playing them in five years time, and you know it. Olga perhaps has let his song writing skills get a touch rusty from underuse, but there's clearly still plenty of talent left in the old Mackam yet long after many of his contemporaries have become an embarrassment. The next album can't come quick enough.

New Blood
New Blood
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £10.19

4 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars If this is the best PG can do now, time for him to do a Phil Collins, 24 Nov. 2011
This review is from: New Blood (Audio CD)
So yet another album of rehashing old material, this time his own - going down the orchestral route his old band mate Steve Hackett went.

You know an artiste is up the creek the moment they decide remixes and remakes - what are meant to be duvet stuffers for single releases - are worthy of a record all to themselves, knowing it will fleece a few coppers out of the diehards that would buy anything they do "just because".

Doing "orchestral versions" is the 21st Century's "acoustic album" manner by which artistes can kid their own egos (and their fans can kid themselves in turn) they're not trying to screw over their own fans with cover versions of their own songs, and Gabriel ought to be ashamed of himself - this is the man after all that's denounced the original "Here Comes The Flood" as overproduced (wrongly) for nigh on 30 years, only to do two CDs worth of butchering his own back catalogue in a pastiche of those wretched "Symphonium" versions of contemporary artists the London Symphony Orchestra and James Last was so fond of inflicting on the masses every five minutes during the 70s and 80s.

Despite listening to this till I was blue in the face, there's not one remake on here that's even remotely as good as the original. At least "Scratch My Back" had "My Body Is A Cage" to provide one crumb of comfort. The rest is the sort of rubbish school orchestra's serve up to suffering parents on prize giving day because Miss Trim the Music Principal is determined to show she's still "hip".

Phil Collins chucked it last year because he knew he couldn't cut it anymore once the records started stiffing. At least he'd the grace to acknowledge it. Gabriel on the other hand, despite a wealth of contacts and friends in the musical industry, has done nothing original or entertaining for far too long. With the Genesis reunion failing after one song (a dreadful remake of "The Carpet Crawlers"), unless Gabriel can do something with his next album he may as well retire with at least some face left.

50 Words for Snow
50 Words for Snow
Price: £7.99

28 of 122 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A 65 Minute Long Mogodon, 21 Nov. 2011
This review is from: 50 Words for Snow (Audio CD)
It's a measure of Kate Bush's lack of self awareness that she should have chosen the sort of album title (yes, yes, the Eskimos - whoops, sorry "Inuits" - have 50 words for snow) those lampooning her may have chosen for her tendency towards tortuous pseudo-intellectualism, although the fact alternative luvvie Stephen Fry co-sings on the title track would leave anyone in little doubt about that anyway. Somehow it doesn't come as a surprise to learn she was the partial inspiration for the Harry Potter character Hermione Grainger, right down to the burst couch hairdo.

Solo artists and those whose "bands" are little more than backing bands are always in danger of the artiste disappearing up their own wotsit, but Kate Bush is of course the famous moral tale of where it gets you. Just a pity she never learned the lesson.

Kate Bush was a success purely and simply because her over the top stage & TV performances that would have relegated her to a cult artist with one novelty hit in "Wuthering Heights" instead were perfect for the New Wave/Punk zeitgeist of the late 1970s/early 1980s. Like Ian Dury, she was the right sort of oddball at the right time.

After a series of hit albums and riding the wave of pop culture feminism that saw her as high-brow (though as her competing sisterhood at that point consisted of the likes of the Nolan Sisters, it was hardly an epic battle of wits) and adopted by the whole alternative counter culture of the late 1970s/early 1980s right down to doing the coveted Amnesty International "Secret Policeman's Ball Slot" (although Not The Nine O'Clock News did lampoon her intellectual self-delusions with the "Them Heavy People" parody "England My Leotard"), Kate discovered her paying public had little interest in being culturally 'educated' by her as "The Dreaming" and its singles were monumental flops.

Taking a leaf from CBS's book in dealing with The Clash, EMI told her bluntly they'd not release another record until they could be sure it would be a hit: "Running Up That Hill", "Cloudbursting" and the album "Hounds Of Love" later, all seemed to be back on track - until "The Sensual World" proved she'd only done enough to keep her in contract before reverting back to unintented self-parody of her own ever-growing pretentiousness.

Meanwhile a certain Bjork waiting in the wings took on the mantle of music's eccentric genius, and Bush joined Cliff Richard and Paul McCartney in being one of those EMI hasbeens kept on more for the sake of back catalogue sales than any hope of any new material seizing the public's enthusiasm.

Not that she needs to worry much about alienating anyone: Bush's audience by then, as now, had been relegated to those ageing inverted snobs that turn their noses up at mainstream pop and classical music alike, sneering at the former's commercialism and - ironically - the latter's elitism. Show me today's Kate Bush fan, and I'll show you a Guardian reading weekend eco-warrior who never quite outgrew their undergraduate pretending-to-be-"into"-something-to-appear-cultured phase that boasts they have a black belt in Feng Shui.

So to "50 Words Of Snow", on the back of this year's flogging-a-dead-horse "remake" album (ever popular with aged musicians out of ideas wanting to use their remaining diehard but gullible fans as milch cows) that's already drawn predictable sycophantic praise from those that would hail as "genius" an album of Kate Bush farting through a kazoo.

Sure, if your familiarity with piano driven music doesn't go beyond Chas 'n' Dave you might think "50 Words For Snow" as being the Galaxy King Size of music, anyone else will note that every song is as good as the last because largely every song is the same as the last, tedious in its studied ponderousness or copying everything Peter Gabriel has been doing badly over the last decade.

Likely to be sucking your will to live over the speakers of every Cappuchino bar within a 500 mile radius for the next few months. Even the "completists" are best advised to wait for it to appear in the bargain buckets before buying.
Comment Comments (23) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 3, 2014 9:28 PM BST

One More Megabyte
One More Megabyte
Offered by KELINDO³
Price: £22.26

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much Underrated Triumphant Marriage Of Olga With The Daintees, 4 Nov. 2011
This review is from: One More Megabyte (Audio CD)
This album saw ex-Martin Stephenson and The Daintees members Martin Yule and Gary Dunn reunited, and together they added a noticeable lustre to proceedings.

The explosive 'She's A Leech' is a triumph of everything fabulous about the Toy Dolls, a breakneck speed song of four chord screaming guitar hooks, thundering drums and a football chant chorus.

Vying for top place as the outstanding track of the album - and a real surprise package - however is 'She'll Be Back With Keith Someday', for once a serious song about broken hearts from a trio best known for their levity. With any other line up possibly this wouldn't have worked, but Marty and Gary's note perfect harmonisation works perfectly with Olga's embittered shrill voice to create what could have become the band's second mainstream UK hit had it been given a chance.

The reason of the album is atypical Toy Dolls punk meets 70s glam meets classical or anything else that takes Olga's fancy, married to him poking fun at luvvy actors ('Fred Olivier'), swingers ('Bored Housewife'), computer nerds and Olga's ever permenant gripes about people getting married and turning promptly into domestic bores.

The cover of '500 Miles' wasn't one of their better ideas, but the cover of 'The Devil Went Down To Georgia' (with piano from Danny of The Wildhearts) is a knockout that rightly went viral on YouTube when married to a cartoon.

Toy Dolls head cheese Michael 'Olga' Algar doesn't think much of this album. He doesn't think much of most of his albums. Neither do the music media in the UK. Forever cursed with the 'Nellie The Elephant' tag, Olga's demented weasel vocals (think Norman Wisdom on Helium) also never enamoured him to the maschismo poseurs of the Joe Strummer and Watty end of the punk movement. Their loss, for there's few people quite able to crank out a catchy tune like our Olga - one of the reasons the Toy Dolls have been the surprise survivors of the old school punks to this day. You've either got it or you ain't: and the cultural snobbery that sees their humour derided as childish by the same people that will praise a Half Man Half Biscuit album at the drop of a hat for the same observational comedy is exactly the sort of absurdity Olga has lampooned with relish for the best part of three decades.

This album is worth getting alone for 'She's A Leech', 'She'll Be Back With Keith Someday' and 'The Devil Went Down To Scunthorpe (Georgia!)', but you won't be disappointed with most of the rest of it.

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