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Christopher Wright

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Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
by Alan Sillitoe
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Does Alan Sillitoe have a chip on his shoulder?, 9 Nov. 2013
"Saturday Night, Sunday Morning" is an authentic portrait of fifties, Midlands working class life and that's all I really need to say about it. Also worth reading is the sequel, "Birthday", written years later.

My question for readers is, does Alan Sillitoe have a bit of a chip on his shoulder? I've read three of his books and his protagonists all have more than their fair share of aggression, or maybe it's bitterness. What do you think?

Scottish Gaelic in Twelve Weeks (plus audio CD)
Scottish Gaelic in Twelve Weeks (plus audio CD)
by Roibeard ” Maolalaigh
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.99

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I recommend this without reservation!, 23 Feb. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've always had a strong interest in languages. I'm an English speaker (from Newcastle-upon-Tyne) and learnt French and German in school, which I've mostly forgotten, and have since taught myself to speak pretty good Spanish.

I've been fascinated with Scottish Gaelic for years, mainly as a result of my many trips to Scotland. I've always been slightly frustrated by my inability to pronounce place-names ("Cnoc an Leothaid", "Stac Pollaidh" etc), which was possibly my main motivation to learn Gaelic. I also have some Scottish heritage and would love to discover that I'm a Cattach, or that my ancestors were from Caithness!

I've been using this book now for several months. I find it very comprehensive. Learning Gaelic is difficult but, if you're prepared to persevere, you'll make progress with this book. The CDs are invaluable, essential really, because pronunciation is difficult for a native English speaker. The content of the CDs is basically every Gaelic word in the book, read out in order which I think is a really good, straightforward idea. If I have any criticism, the book could do with more exercises but I truly think this could easily fill a supplementary volume (authors take note: there's another book in it for you!)

Also, to make any realistic progress, you'll need other resources. The best thing would be a Gaelic-speaking next-door neighbour but, failing that, there's loads of stuff on the internet: for example, search for "An Litir Bheag" which is good for beginners.

It still amazes me that it's possible to buy a book for about £15 or whatever and learn something completely new. It's almost miraculous. This book achieves this and, despite my minor criticisms, I can't give it fewer than five stars.

If you're at all interested in learning Scottish Gaelic, buy this book. It'll do you for life.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 9, 2013 10:17 PM GMT

Heart And Hand
Heart And Hand
Price: £3.16

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Songs with heart., 14 Feb. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Heart And Hand (MP3 Download)
I've been listening to Jed Grimes play guitar and sing for about thirty years and what a privilege it's been. Jed's guitar sound is a deep mixture of blues, country and folk and- it's no use, I can't avoid a cliche- he makes it talk. However, cliches are not something you'll hear Jed play- just good taste with a bit of filth thrown in.

Jed has a strong voice perfectly matched to the songs he sings- ballads in the true sense of the word, and his singing contributes to the storytelling.

Beautiful songs, beautifully recorded: what's not to love? Jed Grimes reminds us that so-called "folk" music is, or should be, relevant to all of us in the 21st century.

"Byker Hill" and "Farewell to Bon County"- two old songs sung simply. "The Bold Fisherman" in jaunty 5/4 (I think.) "Rain and Snow" with a Peter Gabriel-esque vocal.

Ye'd be daft not to.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 6, 2014 9:00 AM BST

Edexcel International GCSE Mathematics B Student Book
Edexcel International GCSE Mathematics B Student Book
by David Turner
Edition: Paperback
Price: £23.00

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent textbook for the very able 14-16 year old student., 8 Jan. 2012
I am teaching Edexcel's IGCSE Maths syllabus B (4MB0) to a couple of very able students, both of whom sat GCSE early and got A* grades.

4MB0 is an interesting syllabus and is appropriate for students who have natural mathematical ability and very strong algebra but whom you don't want to start A-level early. The syllabus contains topics such as polynomials and the factor theorem, differentiation (but not integration), matrices and sets amongst many other things.

The textbook is excellent and packed with hundreds of excellent exercises. Highly recommended. However: 4MB0 is not approved for use in state schools and I had to have special permission from my governors to do it.

P.S.: As 4MB0 is so new, you'll need to look to Edexcel's old O-level syllabus 7361 for past papers.

Anyway, as I said, excellent textbook!

The Great Concert Of Charles Mingus
The Great Concert Of Charles Mingus

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome in the true sense of the word., 3 Dec. 2010
There are a lot of recordings of the 1964 European tour and, having listened to most of them, I think this is the best.

I think the word "smokin'" could have been invented for this album. It contains solo after wonderful solo from all concerned and it's the amount of drive (or swing) which the band possesses which makes me use the word "awesome." I am in awe!

At this time, there was simply no-one to touch Mingus as a bass player (and never since, in my opinion.) Perhaps if Jimmy Blanton had lived it would have been different but I think Mingus's overall genius as a composer and bandleader will always give him the edge.

I've been listening to this album for about a quarter of a century and have never been bored with it.

Complete 1961-62 Birdland Broadcasts (3CD) Deluxe
Complete 1961-62 Birdland Broadcasts (3CD) Deluxe

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some unique Mingus here and excellent value for money, 3 Dec. 2010
This is a unique Mingus release.

The sound quality is like you're listening to it on the radio in 1962- which is good!

If you were being ultra-critical of the music on this 3-cd collection, you'd say some of it is repetitive, one or two weak tracks... however, if you were to select the best and squeeze them on to 1 disc then this would be in the top few Mingus albums for the follwing reasons:

- wonderful version(s) of Monk, Funk and Vice-Versa
- fantastic track based on "I Can't Get Started"
- A wonderful version of "Please Don't Come Back From the Moon"
- Lots of fun listening to "Eat That Chicken" half a dozen times
- Roland Kirk!
- a tuba!
- an unknown track sometimes listed as "Blue Cee" though actually a track I've never heard anywhere else

You've probably never heard the music on this CD before- If you love Mingus, you'll love it. If you're interested in 50s - 60s jazz, it's a great document at the very least.

Despite a few weaknesses, I have to give it five stars as I couldn't be without it.

Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original
Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original
by Robin D. G. Kelley
Edition: Hardcover

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Detailed and comprehensive account of Thelonious Monk's life., 4 Oct. 2010
I've read the Priestley and Santoro biographies of Charles Mingus and loved them both for their detail. I had tried in vain to find an equivalent biography of Thelonious Monk, then this book appeared.

No need to say much: this book tells the story of Thelonious's life beginning with his immediate ancestors. Everything's here and, if you want to know who he gigged with and when, or who he recorded with and when, this is the book for you. You'll also find a good account of his family life and enough anecdotes to give a rounded picture of Thelonious Monk as a person.

I would say this book is an unqualified success. If you love Thelonious Monk like I do, I don't think you'll be able to fault this book.

Well done the author!

Mingus Three
Mingus Three
Offered by groove_temple
Price: £20.33

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite, favourite, favourite albums ever, ever, ever., 21 July 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Mingus Three (Audio CD)
I am Charles Mingus's greatest UK fan.

This was the second Mingus album I ever bought so that must be at least 25 years ago and I've not stopped listening to it. Ask yourself honestly- how many albums do you have that you've listened to, with joy, for that long? I really, really love it. The whole thing is gorgeous and Mingus's bass solos are truly wonderful- I mean, really out of this world.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 5, 2015 12:22 PM BST

Thrice Upon A Theme
Thrice Upon A Theme
Price: £12.24

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of these CDs is brilliant!, 21 July 2010
This review is from: Thrice Upon A Theme (Audio CD)
I am Charles Mingus's biggest UK fan.

For me, Mingus reached maturity in February 1957 when he recorded "The Clown".

The first disc is before that time- about 1954 I think- and is interesting but possibly only to people who want to understand how Mingus developed. It does, however, have some blistering trumpet playing from Thad Jones on it.

The second disc, for me, is very different. It was recorded in July 1957 with Dannie Richmond on drums and a drug-addled Hampton Hawes on piano- you'd never know it, though, 'cos his playing is wonderful. This session is mentioned in passing in Hawes' autobiography, "Raise Up On Me," well worth a read if a bit sad.

Mingus Three

Because of the first disc, I can only give four stars. The second disc is easily available on its own, usually known as "Mingus Three." But, if you don't have either of them, buy them both here for Thad Jones's playing on the first disc then see if you agree with me about the second.

Brother of the More Famous Jack
Brother of the More Famous Jack
by Barbara Trapido
Edition: Paperback

3 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Fascinatingly bad, 1 Feb. 2009
One of the most unpleasant books I've ever read. So bad that I sometimes still leaf through it in amazement. Unpleasantly middle-class, full of cliches and plot devices which suggest the author got bored writing it and wanted to finish quickly. Funnily enough, it reminded me of "The World According to Garp" by John Irving, which I also wanted to throw out of the window.

I've read some of the other reviews and all I can say is, "It takes allsorts!"
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 11, 2012 2:09 PM GMT

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