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P. A. Murphy "Paulie" (London)

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Push Pinocchio
Push Pinocchio
Offered by Indigos UG
Price: £10.00

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bit of a rip-off, 16 July 2012
This review is from: Push Pinocchio (Toy)
Toy was actually a little smaller than it appeared in the photo. My son's disappointment was evident. What a waste of £1, 638.

Iron Sky (Blu-ray + Digital Copy)
Iron Sky (Blu-ray + Digital Copy)
Dvd ~ Julia Dietze
Offered by b68solutions
Price: £4.89

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nazi, but nothing nasty, 4 July 2012
Where do you begin?! There are times when the production betrays its `participatory cinema' origins and lurches crazily from one impressive set piece to another with only the merest wisp of cohesive plotting, but there's much to enjoy. It's a giddy, violent, Steampunk fever-dream of a film, with eye-sizzling visuals and imaginative direction. It also manages, mostly, to be funny in the right places, mocking everyone on all sides at any given moment and providing several knowing winks to other films.
Some nice performances help jolly the clunkier bits of dialogue along, with the four leading actors all playing their parts to the hilt: Julia Dietze's glamorous and plucky heroine, Christopher Kirby's perpetually put-upon black astronaut, Götz Otto's scenery-chewing wannabe Führer and Peta Sergeant playing a crazed spin doctor halfway between that chap in Downfall (the name escapes me; Adolf something-or-other) and Diana from the Eighties version of V.
Certainly there were a few points that didn't make any sense, even within the film's insane internal logic, but when you're dealing with a film about Nazi descendants leaving their secret Moon base in flying saucers to invade Earth in the year 2018, with a Wagnerian soundtrack by Laibach... you have to just hang your brain cells by the door and sit back for a couple of hours.

This Little Ziggy
This Little Ziggy
by Martin Newell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest rock'n'roll star you never knew..., 1 May 2012
This review is from: This Little Ziggy (Paperback)
I wrote this review ten years ago for the original pressing of This Little Ziggy and I'm putting it here now, with slight adjustment, as I stick by what I said!

Martin Newell's biography covers his childhood through to his early adulthood via passionately written and frequently hilarious tales of discovering the joys - and pitfalls - of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. Like a pop version of Zelig, Newell has been, if not actually present, then at least in the audience at the birth of some of the major developments in popular Brit culture. His enthusiasm for it now as much as then shows, with witty and consistently readable anecdotes thrown away at the drop of his Victorian top hat. Aficionados of his poetry and his music in bands such as The Cleaners From Venus and his own solo work will recognise their hero as he brings an adroit style to stories of drug abuse and violence, never glorifying or glamorising, yet always being entertaining and capable of deep feeling.

It all makes for a highly personal account of what it was like to grow up in the sixties and early seventies. This Little Ziggy has a tang of authenticity and honesty that makes it an essential read for any student of pop music in the last 50 years. Hopefully, it will bring his music into focus at the same time. And, sir, when's the next volume coming out?

Holy Flying Circus [DVD]
Holy Flying Circus [DVD]
Dvd ~ Darren Boyd
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £5.94

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Well, obviously it's not meant to be taken literally...", 21 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Holy Flying Circus [DVD] (DVD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
For several years now, BBC4 have been making dramatised accounts of the origins of classic entertainers and shows. Mostly, they've been straight, gravely serious reconstructions: Tony Hancock, Kenneth Williams, Frankie Howerd, Steptoe & Son and Hughie Green for example. After all, isn't the funniest comedy forged out of tragedy and hardship, and aren't comedians just the most insecure and self-loathing of all critics?

This show isn't like any of those. We start with a farting Christ gag, a comedy title crawl and a suitably Gilliamesque title sequence and from there on in we are dropped into the world according to Monty Python. It's a giddy, riotous, hilarious and frequently surreal ride concerning the events of November 1979, when Life Of Brian had been released to controversy and outrage from militant Christian groups, offended by what they perceived as the film's blasphemous imagery. At the centre of the piece is the famous interview between Malcolm Muggeridge with the Bishop of Southwark against Michael Palin and John Cleese in which the Pythons defended not only the film, but their right to make it.

The main attraction for me was seeing how well these household names, mostly still with us, are portrayed by younger men. Darren Boyd, Charles Edwards, Steve Punt, Rufus Jones, Tom Fisher and Phil Nicol (Cleese, Palin, Idle, Jones, Chapman and Gilliam respectively) put in performances that are each excellent in their own ways: Boyd's Cleese is unashamedly Fawltyesque, a fact the script acknowledges cheerily in one of many knowing nods that anticipate the audience's reaction to what they see. Steve Punt, born to play Idle, does it with authentic objectionability -- I mean this as a compliment! -- while Tom Fisher captures the thoughtful, quietly wicked Chapman behind the pipe. Nicol nails Gilliam's naughty transatlantic tone and Charles Edwards is just... eerily like Michael Palin. Rufus Jones's Jones is perhaps a little too wakish, sorry, rakish, but he does a splendid job of playing Terry Jones playing Michael Palin's wife. It's that kind of a show.

I enjoyed Holy Flying Circus very much. As an account of what happened, it's a bare-bones sort of affair. As an affectionate reflection of the madness going on in the life of Python in '79, I daresay it captures something of the time. If you're interested in Python, you'll want to see this as it's your heroes writ larger-than-life. As a lifelong Python-head, I can't say for certain how anyone outside of the Circus would find it, but as a piece of television, it's something of a tour-de-force. And it's funny when it wants to be - so that's that, really.

Doctor Who: The BBC Radio Episodes
Doctor Who: The BBC Radio Episodes
by Various
Edition: Audio CD

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Canonical? Maybe. Fun? Certainly!, 28 April 2011
There have been many radio shows on and around the subject - of Doctor Who but this box set gathers all the bespoke audio Doctor Who dramas made by the BBC specifically for radio for the first time, and throws in 'Doctor Who And The Pescatons' for good measure. Purists can argue this way and that about whether these stories fit into the established continuity of the tv series, but for the rest of us, there's a lot to enjoy, with authentic performances from established stars of the show.

Doctor Who And The Pescatons was a 1975 straight-to-LP release - how often does THAT happen?! - and features the then-Doctor Tom Baker and the late, greatly-lamented Elisabeth Sladen as his ever-reliable companion Sarah Jane Smith. With only one additional cast member it keeps the action descriptive and intimate, actually quite reminiscent of Tom Baker's later BBC audioplays Hornet's Nest and Demon Quest or recent years.

Slipback was a 1985 drama made with the incumbent Doctor, Colin Baker, with Nicola Bryant as his assistant Peri. Fans of the tv series will enjoy and recognise Valentine Dyall's satanic sibilance (albeit playing a different character).

The Paradise Of Death and The Ghosts Of N-Space were Nineties dramas set in the Jon Pertwee era, written by that era's producer Barry Letts and starring, alongside Jon Pertwee himself, Lis Sladen once more and the magical Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. It's terribly sad to note that all three stars - and indeed writer - are no longer with us. The addition of another companion, Jeremy, has divided fans with his over-the-top posho performance. But elsewhere there's able support from another Who guest artiste Peter Miles and the capricious Harold Innocent in TPoD and returning Who guest actor Stephen Thorne in TGoN-S.

Finally, there's Whatever Happened To Susan? - a 1994 drama with Jane Asher playing the Doctor's granddaughter Susan Foreman. I don't know why Carole Ann Ford, the tv actress who essayed the part, could not return, but Asher turns in a solid portrayal as if she had played the character in the past.

Like I said, you can take or leave these stories as canon, but it's all pieces of a much larger puzzle and the ride is entertaining!

Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: v. 4 (BBC Audio)
Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: v. 4 (BBC Audio)
by Bert Coules
Edition: Audio CD

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More than merely meretricious, 25 Nov. 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This set contains three masterful stories by Bert Coules, Radio 4's longtime Holmes dramatic adapter. Holmes, as followers of Radio 4 will know is played reliably as ever by the superb Clive Merrison, with Andrew Sachs ably stepping into the breach left by the late Michael Williams as Watson. In fact with all three of these original stories, it is Sach's urbane and sometimes cynical Watson that gets the most opportunity to shine, as indeed in The Remarkable Performance of Mr Frederick Merridew, the case - and the story - is largely told from Watson's viewpoint, with Holmes drafted in to piece the reported facts together. Sachs brings all the class and quality a voice actor of his considerable expertise can bear to this equally classy series of BBC productions

Merrison's Holmes, as fans of the series will already know, is quite a different kettle of fish from, say, Jeremy Brett's spiky, unpredictable Holmes, or indeed Benedict Cumberbatch's high-functioning sociopathic Sherlock, to cite but two televisual examples - in fact on first listen, I must confess to a certain resistance to his manner. And my concern was that his manner is engaging: Merrison's Holmes comes across as a brilliant, unique and incisive chap, to be sure, but also thoroughly likeable. It came as a shock after enjoying a series of ostensibly irascible, even supercilious portrayals, but after a while, and divorced from the sometimes distracting visual element, I finally `got' it: a radio Holmes needs to bring an element of warmth and likeability to a medium as intimate as only the broadcast of human voices can be, and Merrison delivers this in spades, with a sureness of touch that comes, like Sachs, from an impressive radio pedigree.

Coupled with distinctive, convincingly Conanesque dialogue and scenarios, typical of someone steeped in Holmes radio lore as Bert Coules, and you have several more-than-worthy additions to the Sherlock Holmes canon. Best listened to at night!

Fashion Fabulous London: The Top 200 Hottest Fashion Shops in London
Fashion Fabulous London: The Top 200 Hottest Fashion Shops in London
by Tracy Rose
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Handy to have in the big city, 7 May 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Indeed a fabulous must-have tome for any fashionista! A thorough and well laid out listing of London's fashion hotspots, from the tiniest boutique to the largest chainstore, this book will inform and delight you.

I found it extremely easy to use, starting as it does with Central London, before heading West then North, East then South. There are also sections concentrating on High Streets, Markets and Charity Shops, so finding the right place for you couldn't be simpler.

I'd highly recommend it to anyone interested in finding new places to browse, those lesser-known boutiques that offer a wonderful service and even a fantastic bargain!

Also handy is the Café & Restaurant listing so you can find the perfect place to rest your tired feet after a hard day's retail therapy - and for you die-hards, even a selection of Museums and Courses.

Egg ~ Remastered with Bonus Tracks
Egg ~ Remastered with Bonus Tracks
Price: £10.98

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mostly cracking, if a little bit curate's-y in places., 19 April 2010
I came to Egg via a friend who knew of my penchant for keyboard-based 70s prog bands, although he warned me it was mere `juvenilia' from 1970 , considering the impressive pedigree these three chaps would amass in the following years (Campbell moved into professional music education and recently made a delightful contribution to BBC4's Prog Britannia programme, Brooks joined Groundhogs and other top-flight rock bands and Stewart joined a million other respected bands and projects).

I can sort of see his point: it's certainly not as focused, confident and commanding as Egg's follow-up, The Polite Force, certainly is. Nor is it as tempo-terrifying as things got on The Civil Surface. It's as if the band were trying to find their sonic identity as they went along -- and there's an over-reliance on freak-out noise and the kind of studio effects that must have seemed fun to make, and fun to hear the first time, but nowadays, removed from the times they originated, seem just a little random and time-consuming.

But before I sound like I'm down on the album, I should say that it is excellent, with great highlights and at the very worst, a groovy, late Sixties feel.

In the spirit of a band trying to find their own voice, much of the good stuff on Egg sounds like someone else, but oh boy, these guys stole from the best that was around at the time. Consequently, I Will Be Absorbed reminds me of nothing if not Kevin Ayers Joy Of A Toy and Fugue In D Minor is exactly the sort of classical reworking one could find on a Nice album Ars Longa Vita Brevis. In fact, comparisons with The Nice (and ELP) are inevitable, what with the line-up consisting of bass/vocals, keyboards and drums, but there's none of the bombast that often accompanied both those bands: instead, things tend to stay more jazzy, poppy and gently ethereal in places (save for the single, see below!). There also seems to be a slight aura of Soft Machine Out-Bloody-Rageous - An Anthology 1967 -1973 hanging over the proceedings -- betraying their closeness to the Canterbury scenesters of the late Sixties/early Seventies -- and again, this is no bad thing.

Happily, for owners of the original album (and indeed the old CD pressing), this reissue restores the `missing' movement from Symphony No2 (removed for copyright reasons) and best of all, as with the old Decca CD issue, the debut Egg single Seven Is A Jolly Good Time b/w You Are All Princes (only in mono tho') is retained. The inclusion of the single tracks alone increase the magnificence of the album, as both cuts are excellent, tautly-played, fun tunes, clever without being smug and (particularly in the case of You Are All Princes) cocky, strutting Prog Pop.

If you like it, you'll be delighted with both The Polite Force (the follow-up) The Polite Force ~ Remastered and Arzachel (the band/album that preceded it, with Steve Hillage on guitar)Arzachel (Digipak) - although if you're reading this because you're wondering which Egg album to buy first, I'd still recommend The Polite Force. Then you'll want this.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 11, 2011 11:07 AM BST

It's Morecambe & Wise (Vintage Beeb)
It's Morecambe & Wise (Vintage Beeb)
by Eric Morecambe
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £8.95

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Oh Eric, what have you done...?!", 1 Mar. 2010
Reviewing comedy by established (and in this case classic) acts is an odd thing to do if one wants to do right by the subjects:

"Let the tears roll down your face with mirth and merriment as good `ol Eric & Ernie raise the roof one more time on a disc you and your whole family can enjoy again and again."


Nice? Maybe. Accurate? Arguably not. I'm not going to try and tell you what you should find funny (you know that already, of course), but instead talk around the product a little more. Hopefully you'll see what I'm trying to do. Oh, and if you've never heard of Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise, well, congratulations on reading thus far.
This is part of the BBC's ongoing campaign of re-releases of classic comedy albums on CD - the ones they used to advertise briefly at the end of the shows if you remember the 70s or 80s (`...available on BBC Records and Tapes.') that were culled from television shows and didn't have to rely on visual content. In the pre-video age it was probably the easiest way to recall and learn the dialogue to impress your schoolfriends (or more accurately, your chums in the workplace: somehow I never quite sawEric & Ernie as the sort of act imitated by kids in the same way as, say Monty Python was).
In a post-CD age, these albums come across as neither fish nor fowl in certain ways. I wonder exactly what sort of audience the BBC expects would buy these old chestnuts: on the one hand the packaging lovingly reproduces the original 12" sleeve artwork, making them appealing to people who perhaps owned them on vinyl and have played them to death, but apart from rendering the same info on the insert in modern type, we are offered no additional sleeve notes or retrospective information, as the CD consumer has come to expect these days. Similarly, the content, being straight transfers of material from the original records (albeit beautifully remastered of course) weighs in at a mere 40-odd minutes, making the whole affair seem a little slight and less likely to tempt the more demanding CD buyer. Moreover - and this is the clincher - you can get all this material on DVD, with the visuals and context uncut and intact. So there's an instant argument for the lack of need for this product to exist. But perhaps we are spoilt these days where these things are concerned. Shouldn't it really just be about the quality?
I'm glad to say that Eric & Ernie do not stint on the quality: despite being always a very visual act (the face-slapping, the breakfast `stripper' routine, Eric's paper bag trick, the glasses wiggling, the immense celebrity guest stars -- and all the corpsing, let's not forget the corpsing!) once bereft of the sight gags, this disc manages most effectively to make you concentrate on Eddie Braben's writing and dialogue -- and what funny material it is, in both senses of the word.
Firstly, funny-peculiar inasmuch that for a comedy double act there's very little actual joke-telling, or indeed comedy punchlines -- not so much a series of comedy sketches and routines as extended conversations between two colleagues who bicker like an old married couple, one of whom seems intent on confounding the other with increasingly surreal responses to anything put to him.
Secondly, it's hilarious: truly laugh-out-loud-in-places hilarious, like listening to a couple of your friends down the pub, riffing on an idea for comic effect, batting it back and forth.
It's entirely down to the delivery: Eric's manic, joyful and occasinally mock-outraged persona contrasting with Ernie's supposed voice of reason, tempered by ridiculous delusions of grandeur readily deflated by his bespectacled oppo. They riff very hard and fast on these personality clashes, making their dialogue zippy, chippy and thoroughly well-drilled -- so well, in fact that there's plenty of scope for confident, improvised asides that clearly delight the pair of them. Eddie writes `em, but Eric & Ernie sell `em.
Example: the second track on the CD "Eric Morecombe, you'll do anything for a laugh!" encapsulates this approach brilliantly, where the exchange between them (essentially, Eric's grown a moustache and Ernie, initially mocking Eric's ageing/balding insecurities, eventually wants to grow one for himself) grows ever more surreal and endearingly daft, making the ongoing dialogue funny and enjoyable without the need for a punchline or an obvious payoff.
So, you know you're not going to buy this for quick-fix gaggery, nor for Ernie's short fat hairy legs, or how you can't see the join on his wig, or Eric playing all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order -- and certainly no 'Bring Me Sunshine' -- but you may find it works rather nicely as something to luxuriate in for 40 minutes like you would an audiobook. But yes, this is a CD you and the family can enjoy again and again, with the tears running down your faces. Enjoy. There's no answer to that!!

That Mitchell & Webb Sound: The Complete Fourth Series
That Mitchell & Webb Sound: The Complete Fourth Series
by David Mitchell
Edition: Audio CD

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mitchell & Webb triumphant: where now, fellas?, 7 Dec. 2009
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Ok, before I start I'll warn you -- this is a dry and dusty critique! Sometimes, it's a useful thing.
This fourth radio series from Mitchell & Webb finds our heroes well and truly ensconced in the public's comic consciousness. Between Webb's film appearances, Mitchell's game panel supremo status, the radio and television versions of their sketch shows and oh, let's not forget that show they do on Channel 4 -- you know the one I mean -- they're second only to John Barrowman, perhaps, in the broadcasting ubiquity stakes. But isn't it said that familiarity breeds contempt?
Well, I'm pleased to say that Mitchell & Webb's fourth radio series is every bit as funny as the preceding three. Which is to say that five out of seven sketches hits the funny bone. But I don't mean that as a direct criticism -- it's the nature of sketch-based comedy shows to be a mixed bag, and the trick of it is simply to maintain a higher ratio of hits than misses and keep things varied and speedy: the chaps fulfil this consistently.
There are many stand-out sketches in this run, many of which have been touched on by other reviewers, with the recurring sketches in particular having a cumulative brilliance, especially when the series is listened to in one or two sittings: the Stargate sketches and the Old Ladies Job Interviews are worth mentioning here.
In fact, many of their comedy ideas are based on a simple, Blackadderish principle: take something extraordinary and place it within the mundane, or vice versa. I mention this because you will notice A LOT of this across the series. So, it turns out that having a wooden boy for a son is not only a bit creepy, but downright irritating if you're trying to impress a girl on a date, people who work near an interdimensional portal would indeed nip through it for a sneaky fag break and celebrities would undergo Dr Moreau-meets-Frankenstein-style surgery just to make it big on a reality game show. Actually that last one's not so implausible...
So, what I'm trying to say in a roundabout way is: if you've never heard any Mitchell & Webb (where've you been?!) this is an excellent and roaringly funny point to start. If you know their schtick well...well, you too will enjoy this as you did the previous others. If you don't like `em, don't even go here -- things haven't changed for you!

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