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chief07john

chief07john
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Member since: 18.04.2010

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    • Direct Sight / Online Shopping Misc / 23 Readings / 21 Ratings
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      19.08.2011 16:06
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      Ideal online retailer if you're looking for guaranteed genuine designer or prescription frames

      For anyone who hasn't come across them before, Direct Sight are on online retailer selling prescription glasses, designer sunglasses and other non-designer frames (plus driving glasses, reading glasses, etc).

      I was originally attracted to Direct Sight by their prices; they have a claim on the front page of their website which states they're up to 80% cheaper than high street alternatives (probably down to the fact that they don't have shop overheads, etc).

      So I bought my first pair of frames from them a little while ago - a pair of Ray Ban Wayfarers - and I was really impressed. The price was the best one I could find online (and I spent a while searching) and the customer services were great. I was sent a confirmation as soon as the payment was sent, and they let me know when the frames were dispatched. The sunglasses arrived very quickly, and they were exactly what I was hoping for - genuine, brand new and in absolutely perfect condition.

      I immediately left them a positive review on TrustPilot, and proceeded to buy myself a second pair (aviators), and got the exact same experience. I'm really impressed that the levels of customer service are so high considering the prices, and will buy all my frames from them in the future.

      Highly recommended - you can visit them at www.directsight.co.uk

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      24.03.2011 15:57
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      A beautiful, well looked hotel and a great place to stay

      I stayed at The Claremont during a weekend break with my girlfriend earlier this year, after it was recommended to us by a friend at work. Overall I was extremely happy with The Claremont and would certainly recommend it to others, and for those that want a little more detail, here's my review which (as usual) is broken up into relevant sections:

      LOCATION
      The hotel is located in Hove, right next to the seafront on a peaceful, leafy street. You're around a ten minute walk from the centre of Brighton, although there are plenty of shops, restaurants, supermarkets and everything else you might want in Hove, which is only a few minutes walk.

      BUILDING
      The Claremont really is beautiful both inside an out - an old Victorian building, it's beautiful to look at and even nicer to stay inside. Absolutely no issues with this element!

      STAFF
      All of the staff at the hotel were extremely friendly and happy throughout our stay and I couldn't of asked any more of them to be honest. They always had time for us and were welcoming when we arrived and polite and helpful right up until the moment we left.

      ROOM
      We went for a superior double room, which was superb. I can't speak for any room other than the one we stayed in, but if ours was anything to go by you can expect a spacious, lovingly looked after and immaculate room which is very, very comfortable.

      PRICE
      The Claremont certainly isn't the cheapest hotel in Brighton, but then again you're not going to get a 5 star hotel (which The Claremont is) for less than a certain price. With that said, it was actually less than we were expecting to pay after seeing photos of the hotel and reading reviews of their service and staff. We were more than happy with the price we paid after leaving and would have no problem saying that we felt it provided good value for money.

      Overall I would certainly recommend The Claremont to anyone looking for a luxurious, boutique hotel in Brighton or Hove.

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      08.05.2010 01:01
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      A quality Microsoft product

      The Xbox 360 Wireless Networking Adapter allows you to play on Xbox Live, stream music or videos and allows you access to DLC (download content) - without having to connect your Xbox 360 with messy Ethernet cables.
      It works over 802.11b, 802.11a or 802.11g (basically meaning it will work with most wireless routers).

      I bought an Xbox 360 Wireless Adapter a couple of months after purchasing the console itself, and i'm very glad that I did. It's an extremely useful piece of kit and well worth the investment. As usual i'll split my review into sections as i think this is the most helpful format:

      DESIGN

      The design of the wireless adapter is fairly good and indicative of most Microsoft products; it's robust and clearly very well made, it has a grey and white colour scheme (which fits in nicely with the Xbox 360 colour scheme) and features a moveable antenna for wireless connection.
      The adapter connects via USB -the 360 has an extra USB port on the back specifically designed for the wireless adapter (it has two more on the front for pads and external storage devices) and is held in place on the back of the Xbox using a 'clicking' system - basically the adapter locks into grooves on the back of the console.

      FUNCTION AND RELIABILITY

      As already stated, the adapter connects via USB and is extremely easy to use - as soon as you plug it in it's recognised by the console, all you need to do then is go to 'system settings' via the Xbox 360 dashboard and configure your network settings (basically picking the wireless network and inputting any applicable passcodes).
      The adapter works incredibly well - it never seems to have any problem connecting and can hold the connection perfectly at high speeds - i often watch Sky (through Sky Player on the Xbox 360) or play online via Xbox Live using the wireless adapter and never have any problems. It's also extremely reliable - i've had mine for nearly two years now and it's never malfunctioned or ceased to work inexplicably.

      PRICE

      As with a lot of Microsoft products this is the only real issue - you can get an Xbox for around £80 now and the wireless adapter cost around £50, well over half of the cost of the console. This said it does work extremely well and is exceptionally reliable, so is probably worth the cost.

      Overall this is a quality Microsoft product and worth getting if you use the Xbox 360 online a lot and want to reduce clutter around the console.

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        08.05.2010 00:34
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        One of Brighton's top venues

        I'm lucky enough to live in Brighton, and i've done a lot of work in the music industry, so i've been to the Concorde2 several times.

        I have to be honest i much prefer working with the venue as a promoter than visiting as an audience member, but that's only down to the prices! The Concorde2 is an excellent venue however; as usual i'll split my review into sections and hopefully give you a good idea of why i consider it to be a good venue.

        LOCATION
        The Concorde2 is situated on Madeira Drive, on the seafront. It's a beautiful setting for a venue and has no other venue or building close to it (just a small cafe and volleyball complex).
        Although the location is undoubtedly beautiful, it is a little out of the way and a good 5-10 minute walk from kemp town, or 10-12 minutes from the centre of town. It's very easy to find though and is very easy to get a taxi to.
        For bands it's also very good as it's easy to find and has plenty of room for vans, coaches and for loading in equipment through the back door.

        VENUE
        The venue itself is essentially made up of two connected rooms; the entrance leads to the first, and smaller of the two rooms, which houses the bar and the cloakroom. The first room has great views of the sea and has a long bar, which means you don't have to queue four or five people back. The second room, which is the main venue is very impressive - it houses the stage, another smaller bar, the sound desk, toilets and the dance floor. The stage is incredible, it's around 1M high and is a good 8-10 feet deep, and around 20 feet wide. It has a fantastic lighting rig, which is very impressive, and the sound is excellent - particularly for rock bands. The main room has a ballroom feel to it and is really impressive; holding approx 500 people.

        EVENTS

        Concorde2 is pretty much exclusively a live music venue, and usually has an excellent range of top and mid-range touring bands. Over the last 12 months their listings have included a secret sell-out Foo Fighter show, and just in the next few weeks they have The Bluetones, The Fall, The Great Escape, Wolf Parade and The Damned.
        You can basically guarantee they'll be at least a handful of top bands worth paying to see every single month without fail. It's this level of touring bands which means the venue has to have such top-notch sound, lighting and staging.

        PRICES

        This is the only real issue with the venue, it is expensive - tickets usually range from around £7.50 to £25.00 depending on the band and drinks at the venue really aren't cheap; usually around £3 for a can of Red Stripe. It has to be said however that Brighton isn't a particularly cheap place to live and Concorde2's prices are fairly indicative of the City as a whole.

        Overall the Concorde2 is an excellent venue and if you're planning on visiting Brighton and you're a fan of live music, check out their listings before you go - you might well find something you'll like.

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      • Apple iPod Earphones / Headphones / 20 Readings / 18 Ratings
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        01.05.2010 13:51
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        Another decent product from Apple

        I got some Apple Earphones with my iPhone 3GS; so they're technically iPhone earphones but they're exactly the same, the only major difference being the microphone that's built into them.

        As usual i'll split my review into sections:

        DESIGN
        As with pretty much any Apple product, the design is sleek and well thought out; the earphones have a white and gray colour scheme and feature a small rectangular block one third of the way down the right earphone, which acts as both a volume control and a microphone for phone calls.
        The earphones are a good length and although i got mine with my iPhone, i have seen them packaged in the box and they look great packaged up.
        Apple really are kings of design and they haven't dropped the ball with their basic iPhone / iPod headphones.

        COMFORT
        The earphones are very comfortable when you first put them in and fit very nicely; i much prefer these headphones to the 'in ear' variety as i always feel like the 'in ear' ones are going to fall out. These headphones however offer a far more snug fit and are extremely comfortable for the first 60-90 minutes of use.
        If you keep the headphones in your ear for prolonged periods of time however, which i often do, they do begin to make your ear ache fairly drastically - this can only be resolved by removing the earphones.
        So they are comfortable but i wouldn't recommend using them for more than an hour and a half.

        FEATURES
        The earphones feature excellent sound quality; the maximum volume is excellent and doesn't allow for any clipping or distortion at the upper volume limits. The earphones also allow for panning, meaning you hear songs as they were designed to be heard. (Panning generally refers to whether you hear a part equally through both speakers, or just through the left, just through the right or any combination of them - i.e. 30% L and 70% R
        The microphone is excellent and i've never had a problem with people being able to hear me when using the earphones to make or receive phonecalls. It's extremely useful to have a volume control on the earphones, so you don't have to get the phone out of your pocket - i've also recently discovered it has an answer / end call button, meaning you don't even have to get your phone out when it rings. The only thing i can think it's missing is a skip forward button, as i still have to get my phone out if i want to skip a track on the iPhone.

        RELIABILITY
        To be honest this is probably the main issue with the headphones - they are reliable for the first couple of months, assuming you take REALLY good care of them, but i'm on my fourth pair now (in 18 months). After a while, or if they're not carefully looked after, the wires to tend to split or come apart and usually one of the earphones stop working (with mine it's always been the left earphone but i don't know if this is indicative of all earphones).
        If you do look after them though they will continue to work for a good few months, and you can get them so cheap online that's it's not too much of an issue (you can get them for around 1p plus P&P on Amazon).

        Overall this is another well designed, quality product from Apple. Could do with being a little more reliable and robust and could also do with a skip forward button, but apart from that i'd highly recommend them.

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          01.05.2010 03:11
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          Another quality cadbury product

          I'm a fan of biscuits overall and the chocolate digestive in particular; I normally go for the McVities Chocolate Digestives but while in Sainbury's recently i saw Cadbury's Digestives on offer so decided to give them a go.

          As usual I'll split my review into sections:

          PRICE
          The digestives were on offer - £1 for a 300g pack. I think they usually retail somewhere around the £1.20 mark, so on average are about the same as the McVities Digestives.
          This is fairly expensive when you compare it to the supermarket brand digestives, particularly the value packs, but there is a noticable difference in taste so i think it's worth the extra money.

          PACKAGING
          The packaging is typical of a Cadbury's product, the buscuits come in a purple/blue packet (very similar in colour to the Dairy Milk wrappers, which immediately puts you in mind of quality chocolate). The packet has an easy to open 'pull here' tab, and the packet has a large Cadbury's logo imprinted on it. Each individual biscuit is imprinted with the Cadbury's logo on the back, which is a nice touch.

          TASTE
          The biscuits are half covered with Cadbury's milk chocolate and the buscuit has a very pleasant sweet taste and a good consistency. They taste really good and noticeably different from cheaper brands; a word of warning though they are incredibly moreish and extremely hard to stop eating. I've eaten a whole pack of these in a day more than once since i started buying them ... i really need to stop buying them!

          NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION
          Each biscuit contains:
          CALORIES: 85 (4.2%)
          SUGARS: 4.7g (5.2%)
          FAT: 4.1g (5.9%)
          SATURATES: 2.1g (10.5%)
          SALT: 0.22g (3.7%)
          The % corresponds to your RDA (recommended daily amount)
          The most important things to note here are the calorie, fat and sugar content, all of which are fairly high for a single biscuit. Not a good combination when they're hard to stop eating! Definitely something to be eaten in moderation, as they're not particularly healthy and constitute what people often refer to as 'empty calories'.

          Overall this is another quality product from Cadbury - a nice change from my usual digestive biscuit. I'm not sure if i'll make a permanent switch from McVities, i think i'll just go with whichever one's on offer.

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            01.05.2010 02:56
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            Another great flavour from Walkers

            Walkers are one of the most popular and most prominent crisp manufacturers in the UK, as well as, i imagine, in the US and Europe. They produce several different flavours and brands, including Quaver, Squares, Wotsits, Doritos and many more.

            I'm a fan of crisps in general, although i have to admit my favourite brands, when i can find either of them (which is rare), are Roysters and Seabrook. I do however often go for Walkers as their constant flavours are great (Salt and Vinegar, Ready Salted, Cheese and Onion, Roast Chicken, Smoky Bacon, Steak and Onion and a few others) and they're also constantly producing limited edition flavours, often relating to a specific event. At the moment Walkers have released flavours based on countries playing in this summers' World Cup.

            So, on to the Roast Chicken, as usual I'll split the review up into sections:

            PACKAGING
            As with all Walkers crisps the crisps come in an air-tight, sealed foil bag. The Roast Chicken bag is a brown colour and they say Roast Chicken flavour potato crisps on the front.
            The key nutrional information is displayed in the bottom left hand corner and the reverse of the bag features other nutrional information, ingredients and details of the flavour and company.

            TASTE
            I really like the Roast Chicken crisps, i used to have them even back in primary school and they've always been a personal favourite. Strangely a lot of people i know don't like them, which is fine with my as they don't get stolen! They've done a really good job with the flavour capture with this one, they really do taste of chicken and they've got the strength of the flavouring just right. Far too easy to eat several bags of these!


            NUTRIONAL INFORMATION
            The key nutritional information is as follows:
            CALORIES: 131 (7%)
            SUGAR: 1g(1%)
            FAT: 8.2g (12%)
            SATURATES: 0.6% (3%)
            SALT: 0.31g (6%)
            The % corresponds to your RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance)
            This isn't too bad on the whole - the calorie content is around the same as a chocolate bar - there is a fairly high amount of fat in these crisps though, 8.2g of fat in a 25g bag of crisps is a little higher than i would like. I therefore certainly wouldn't recommend eating too many packets of these in one day - everything in moderation!

            Overall Roast Chicken is another great flavour from Walkers; although i'd highly recommend them they seem to be one of those flavours that people either love or hate, so go and try them for yourselves!

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              30.04.2010 22:12
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              Really nice crisps

              Walkers are one of the most popular and most prominent crisp manufacturers in the UK, as well as, i imagine, in the US and Europe. They produce several different flavours and brands, including Quaver, Squares, Wotsits, Doritos and many more.

              I'm a fan of crisps in general, although i have to admit my favourite brands, when i can find either of them (which is rare), are Roysters and Seabrook. I do however often go for Walkers as their constant flavours are great (Salt and Vinegar, Ready Salted, Cheese and Onion, Roast Chicken, Smoky Bacon, Steak and Onion and a few others) and they're also constantly producing limited edition flavours, often relating to a specific event. At the moment Walkers have released flavours based on countries playing in this summers' World Cup.

              So, on to the Steak and Onion, as usual I'll split the review up into sections:

              PACKAGING
              As with all Walkers crisps the crisps come in an air-tight, sealed foil bag. The Steak and Onion bag is a brown colour and they say Steak and Onion flavour potato crisps on the front.
              The key nutrional information is displayed in the bottom left hand corner and the reverse of the bag features other nutrional information, ingredients and details of the flavour and company.

              TASTE
              These are one of preferred flavours of Walkers crisps; they're a really nice flavour and extremely moreish. They've done a really good job with the flavour capture with this one, you really can taste both steak and onion and they've got the strength of the flavouring just right. Far too easy to eat several bags of these!
              My only real issue with this flavour is that they're very hard to find in individual bags in shops, everywhere just seems to go for the standard Ready Salted, Salt and Vinegar and Cheese and Onion flavours - i only ever see Steak and Onion in multibags.

              NUTRIONAL INFORMATION
              The key nutritional information is as follows:
              CALORIES: 131 (7%)
              SUGAR: 0.5(1%)
              FAT: 8.3g (12%)
              SATURATES: 0.6% (3%)
              SALT: 0.35g (6%)
              The % corresponds to your RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance)
              This isn't too bad on the whole - the calorie content is around the same as a chocolate bar - there is a fairly high amount of fat in these crisps though, 8.3g of fat in a 25g bag of crisps is a little higher than i would like. I therefore certainly wouldn't recommend eating too many packets of these in one day - everything in moderation!

              Overall Steak and Onion is another great flavour from Walkers; really nice and extremely moreish.

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              30.04.2010 22:00
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              Another decent flavour

              Walkers are one of the most popular and most prominent crisp manufacturers in the UK, as well as, i imagine, in the US and Europe. They produce several different flavours and brands, including Quaver, Squares, Wotsits, Doritos and many more.

              I'm a fan of crisps in general, although i have to admit my favourite brands, when i can find either of them (which is rare), are Roysters and Seabrook. I do however often go for Walkers as their constant flavours are great (Salt and Vinegar, Ready Salted, Cheese and Onion, Roast Chicken, Smoky Bacon, Steak and Onion and a few others) and they're also constantly producing limited edition flavours, often relating to a specific event. At the moment Walkers have released flavours based on countries playing in this summers' World Cup.

              So, on to the Smoky Bacon, as usual I'll split the review up into sections:

              PACKAGING
              As with all Walkers crisps the crisps come in an air-tight, sealed foil bag. The Smoky Bacon bag is a dark red / maroon colour (they can look a lot like the Prawn Cocktail bags in low light) and they say Smoky Bacon on the front.
              The key nutrional information is displayed in the bottom left hand corner and the reverse of the bag features other nutrional information, ingredients and details of the flavour and company.

              TASTE
              To be honest these are by no means my favourite flavour of Walkers crisps, nor are they even my favourite in the 'meaty' range (Smoky Bacon, Barbeque, Roast Chicken, Steak and Onion). The taste isn't bad, it's actually quite nice but they could do with being a little less smoky and with a stronger flavour. They're not amazingly moreish in comparison to something like the Barbeque flavour, which is far superior. They do roughly taste like bacon, although as i said i think they've put a little too much emphasis on the 'smoky' part of the flavour.

              NUTRIONAL INFORMATION
              The key nutritional information is as follows:
              CALORIES: 131 (7%)
              SUGAR: 1.1g (1%)
              FAT: 8.2g (12%)
              SATURATES: 0.6% (3%)
              SALT: 0.34g (6%)
              The % corresponds to your RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance)
              This isn't too bad on the whole - the calorie content is around the same as a chocolate bar - there is a fairly high amount of fat in these crisps though, 8.2g of fat in a 25g bag of crisps is a little higher than i would like. I therefore certainly wouldn't recommend eating too many packets of these in one day - everything in moderation!

              Overall Smoky Bacon is another decent flavour from Walkers, but certainly not one of their best.

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            • Volvic Plain Still / Soft Drink / 15 Readings / 15 Ratings
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              30.04.2010 17:51
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              A lovely, crisp mineral water

              I do drink a lot of bottled water, mainly because i live in Brighton and the water in this area from the tap is genuinely horrible (i think it's the proximity to London), i used to live in Hereford (West of England) and the water there taste much nicer.
              So anyway, I normally buy one of the major supermarket (usually Tesco or Sainsbury's) own brand bottles of water, because they are much cheaper on the whole.

              As usual with my reviews, i find it easier and more useful to split the review into sections:

              PRICE
              On a recent trip to Sainsbury's i saw Volvic 50cl bottles in packs of six, priced at £1.98 and on a buy-one-get-one-free offer. So it effectively worked out to 12 bottles for £1.98 - I normally buy Sainsbury's own brand water which is priced at 6 bottles for £1.48. So for once the brand name actually worked out cheaper per 50cl bottle. The Volvic bottles actually work out to around just under 17p per bottle.
              Admittedly this is almost certainly a Sainbury's offer rather than a Volvic RRP, but it's still a really really good price for brand name bottled water and it's the price that i bought them for.

              PACKAGING
              Volvic's packaging is not notably different from the many other bottled waters on the market (also i keep referring to it as bottled water, when it's technically mineral water, there's a difference in terms of marketing). It's in a basic plastic bottle which i assume is 100% recyclable, although it doesn't actually state this anywhere on the bottle or the label.
              The graphics on the label are fairly simple but well done, it has a dark blue, light blue and green colour scheme and the side of the label features a small diagram showing the 6 layer of volcanic rock that the water is filtered through.

              TASTE
              There's a fair amount of argument regarding the taste difference between mineral water and tap water but as i said, for me living in Brighton there seems to be a distinct difference. The mineral water is clear and crisp, it tastes far far better chilled than it does at room temperature though so i'd definitely recommend refrigerating it before consumption.

              NUTRITIONAL INFO
              For those that are interested in this kind of information (admittedly it seems a little redundant for water but here it is none the less)
              Typical Analysis (mg/litre)
              CHLORIDES: 13.5
              CALCIUM: 11.5
              NITRATES: 6.3
              MAGNESIUM: 8.0
              SULPHATES: 8.1
              SODIUM: 11.6
              BICARBONATES: 71.0
              POTASSIUM: 6.2
              SILICA: 31.7
              Volvic water is also suitable for a low sodium diet.

              Volvic also have a 14 day challenge, whereby they claim you'll feel noticeably better after drinking 1.5L of their water per day for 14 days. You can find more info about this at:
              www.volvic14daychallenge.com
              To be honest whilst i think this is almost certainly true, it's by no means specific to their brand, it would be the same if you drank that amount of any mineral water (or probably tap water for that matter), but it's a good marketing idea to pick up on.

              CONTACT VOLVIC
              You can contact Volvic for any reason at:
              Danone Waters Ltd
              PO Box 4361
              Trowbridge
              BA14 4DR
              UK Helpline: 0800 279 8882
              If calling from ROI: 1 800 556 543

              Overall i'd say this is a lovely, crisp mineral water that is well priced and responsibly packaged, tastes much better refrigerated and is definitely worth buying, particularly when out and about.

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              28.04.2010 22:09
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              Decent bottled water

              I drink a huge amount of mineral water - although i know tap water is perfectly fine to drink I live on the South coast near London and the tap water here is horrible. So i end up drinking a lot of bottled water mainly as it tastes nicer and i know drinking 1.5 litres (and upwards) a day is really good for you.

              Normally i buy own brand mineral water from Tesco or Sainsbury's (mainly because it's much cheaper, around £1.49 for 6 500ml bottles) but i will often buy a single bottle or two when i'm out and about.

              Highland Spring is my usual bottled water of choice if it's available, it's notably cheaper than a lot of competitors, for example:

              Evian (500ml) = 60 - 75p
              Highland Spring (500ml) = 47 - 49p

              The design of the bottle is pretty standard; it's plastic and has no notable design features (such as the designed bottle for Isklar). It simply features the Highland Spring logo with a small amount of information on the water, which you may or may not be interested in:

              STILL SPRING WATER - Our natural water is drawn from the Ochil Hills, Perthshire, from land certified organic by the Soil Association.

              All of the packaging for the water - the lid, bottle and label are 100% recycable, which is important for me as I drink a lot, and the Highland Spring company are also a Good Shopping Guide Ethical Company, meaning they make a sustained effort to lower their Carbon Footprint.

              The water tastes great, no real difference from any of the other major mineral water companies but markedly nicer than the tap water in my area. It tastes FAR nice when it's cold, so i'd go for a bottle that's been refridgerated and then it's cold, crisp and refreshing.

              Overall it's great, not the cheapest bottled water in the world but it tastes good and is a good choice if you're out and about. If you're buying bottled water for the home, go for one of the supermarket own brands.

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              • Apple Keyboard / Keyboard / 12 Readings / 11 Ratings
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                28.04.2010 20:49
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                Great design, great keyboard

                The Apple Keyboard usually comes as standard with most iMacs along with a wired Apple Mighty Mouse.

                This keyboard is the standard, although it's worth noting that Apple also now produce a Wireless Keyboard. The wireless version is markedly different in both design and usability so this review will concentrate solely on the standard wired Apple Keyboard.

                As standard with my reviews, i'll break it down into sections:

                DESIGN

                The keyboard has a sleek and elegant design, very typical of an Apple product. It's a nice silver with white keys and the keys are spaced perfectly for ease of use.
                The first thing i noticed with the keyboard is how thin it is - it's the equivalent of most 'ultra slim' keyboards and the keys are extremely shallow; meaning there's no great depression when you hit the keys. I really like this element of it and it now feels notably different and slightly alien to use more standard keyboads.
                The back of the keyboard has a curved protrusion at the top, acting perfectly as a stand so the keyboard sits at a slight angle (towards you), making it easier to type and giving the keyboard a more ergonomic design. Cleverly, at either end of this protrusion are USB ports, which are extremely useful, although they're not powered, so won't run anything which requires power from the computer.

                CONNECTIVITY AND EASE OF USE

                The Apple Keyboard connects via USB and is extremely easy to use - it's literally plug and play; you don't require a driver and the keyboard isn't Apple specific, i bought another one for my laptop and it works perfectly. On any operating system you just plug it in and a few seconds later the keyboard is recognised and working; you couldn't really want any more withouth it being wireless.

                The keyboard is extremely easy to use and has several added functions apart from the extra USB ports (although most of these are Mac specific):
                One button screen lighten or darken
                Enter Screens
                Enter Dashboard
                Rewind
                Pause/Play
                Fast Forward
                One button volume up or down
                Eject
                The keyboard also has 9 buttons that can be assigned to any shortcut you wish (F5, F6, F13, F14, F15, F16, F17, F18, F19) which is a nice touch.

                PRICE

                Obviously this changes and although i bought mine new (£29.99) i would recommend getting one off eBay - they're extremely reliable and you can get one much cheaper on there. Yes it's a very nice keyboard with some great functions and design touches but £30 is expensive for any keyboard.

                Overall i'd recommend this keyboard thoroughly if you've got a Mac laptop, or are looking for a new keyboard for your PC (changes are if you've bought an iMac you'll have got one in the box).

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              • The Doors - The Doors / Music Album / 17 Readings / 12 Ratings
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                26.04.2010 21:57
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                A phenomenal and culturally significant album

                In order to effectively examine a work of this kind one must take into account several key factors; the album's musicality and lyrics; the image of Jim Morrison; the influences on his music; and most pertinently the contextualization of the album within the social, political and economic climate of the time.

                Before looking in depth at the album's musical content, I will first give an overview of both the album and the social and political western climate in which it was released; allowing a firmer understanding of the background of this work, which in turn aids one's consideration of The Doors as a culturally important release.
                The Doors is the debut release by the band of the same name; it was recorded in September 1966, released on January 4th 1967 by Elektra and was produced by Paul A. Rothchild (The Doors, CD inlay sleeve).
                In order to fully comprehend the albums impact one must consider the cultural climate into which it was placed; in this case mid sixties America. The 1960's is generally seen as the birth of freedom, love and peace in western civilization; the year of The Doors release is remembered as the first 'summer of love' and the decade being seen as the one in which people forgot the oppressive and restrictive attitudes of the 1950's. In contrast to these fondly remembered connotations however is the reality of a national fear of nuclear war and violent representations of war on the television; while the 60's represented a time of change it is apparent that its revolutionary potential embraced both an overt sexuality and an underlying violence (Whiteley, Literature and the rise of the Rock Rebel, p.4). The early 60's were characterized in the main part by the Cold War, the Cuba crisis and the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion (Clarke, New Times and Old Enemies, p.6) and the whole world, particularly the Americans were heading towards a potential third world war and fear of this was rife in western society. One could consider the peak of this national climate of fear to be between 1964 and the turn of the seventies; between the assassination of President Kennedy and Neil Armstrong's landing on the moon in 1969. During this period the biggest inflammation of the new underlying culture of violence occurred in the shape of the outbreak of the Vietnam War; what was notably different about this war (in comparison to the previous two world wars) was the fact that the vast majority of the American public could watch the conflict on television. This was a totally new experience for the US people and allowed for a far more media controlled public opinion and strengthened the notion of social conformity; the television played such a large part in the propaganda and opinion of the national people on the Vietnam War that it was referred to as 'the living room war' (Curtis, Interpretations of Music and Society, p.110). What increased this impact of the television was the fact that its introduction became part of the ideological creed of what was considered to be Americanism; owning a television (and thus seeing the impressive war footage) became part of the social fabric of life, and conforming to these ideologies became one of the primary conditions of good citizenship (Sheperd, Music as Social Text, p.11).

                The American people were in need of a strong rebellious figure which could unite the disenfranchised youth of the mid 60's; Jim Morrison was the perfect candidate for this position:

                "A man who knew no bounds, acknowledged no restraints, no laws, no rules"
                (Manzarek, Light My Fire: My Life with The Doors, p.129)

                Morrison was a revolutionary individual; obsessed with expanding the boundaries of his perception and understanding through the use of hallucinatory drugs; he looked, spoke and acted like no musician before him. The Doors represented a cultural turning point in American rock mythology and Jim Morrison's image as a rebellious, sexually liberated poet was the driving element behind this milestone in American musicology. Morrison reviled in the celebration of the phallus as an object of desire, a vast removal from the less explicatory nature of his predecessors; Jim utilized sexual metaphors in reference to the phallic symbol and in his guise as the 'Lizard King':

                'Ride the snake, ride the snake'

                Appearing in 'The End'; the climactic track of The Doors debut album, which I will look at in more detail later on in this examination.
                Jim's image was integral to the success of The Doors album; the main audience for the work was alienated college students and the majority of the nations' youth - in a political climate that threatened to spin out of control at any time, teenagers wanted performers that threatened to lose control also (Schmid, The Doors - A Legend in American Rock Music, p.2), Morrison was the ideal embodiment of such a performer.
                Jim led a lifestyle that was driven by excess; he pursued drugs, alcohol and women and considered it integral to what he considered to be his intellectual growth as an individual. (Manzarek, p.44). The bands name came from a reference to a William Blake poem cited in Aldous Huxley's book on mescaline entitled The Doors of Perception, which inspired Jim not only to name his band The Doors but to embark upon a way of life which embraced any physiological or neurological intoxicants. This attitude made Jim an intensely unpredictable and unorthodox character in all aspects of his life, and this was epitomized by his live performance and captured perfectly in The Doors album; it also increased Jim's growing appeal to the masses. This unpredictability in his live performance served to get Jim in trouble with authorities but endeared him indefinitely to the American public; his actions onstage earned him an infamousness which preceded him wherever he went. One might argue that it was this precedent that put pressure on Jim to continually live his live to excess and live up to the legend that he had created, eventually killing him; either way it is certain that Jim Morrison was the epitome of what the American youth was looking for in a front-man for a contemporary rock band; young, good looking, talented and intensely rebellious. Through Jim's excessiveness in performance and the bands musicianship The Doors can be considered the first of the new era of Rock 'n' Roll to bring a theatrical quality to music; understanding the power of entertainment and representing a merging of the contemporary popular culture with what was considered to be 'high' culture (Schmid, p.4).
                What was notably different about Jim Morrison, apart from his excessiveness was his longing to be accepted as a serious artist; more specifically, a poet (Ibid, p.10). Jim saw music as a way to channel his poetry and when coupled with a theatrical element project it to mass audiences; this fusion of contemporary rock music and poetry can be likened to the unison of jazz and poetry attempted by the beatniks in the 1950's and represents a strong cultural milestone in western rock mythology.

                The Doors was an incredibly successful album; reaching number 2 in the US in its first year of release and since Morrison's death in 1971 has gone triple platinum. Countless people have commented (both critically and academically) on the musicality and lyrics of the album; such a wealth of examinations on one album is usually constituent of what most would consider to be a culturally significant work.
                Jim Morrison's lyrics in The Doors and the band's other works consistently reflect his desire to be considered a poet, particularly when coupled with the music in tracks like The End. Jim's lyrical content also reflects the social and cultural tensions of the time, notably the anti-war movement, sexual liberation and the increasingly widespread drug culture. Morrison's lyrical content can be considered a notable inclusion in a musical commentary of the climate in which it were released; another important element of a culturally important album.

                The opening track of The Doors album is Break On Through (to the other side); this was actually the first single released from the album, but was relatively unsuccessful and it was the second single Light My Fire which launched the band to commercial success. The song however is now exceptionally popular with Doors fans and is typically remembered as one of the more famous and popular Doors songs. Musically the song is characteristic of The Doors upbeat and psycadelic form of contemporary rock; fast paced throughout and with a unrelenting bass line the song transitions between Morrison's vocals with disjointed guitar and organ solo's (particularly in the introduction) which are peppered with somewhat intentional wrong notes, adding to the psycadelic nature of the track (Manzarek, p.127). The lyrics, in typical Doors fashion, caused some discomfort for the label which produced it; preferring Jim to edit out words like 'high' in order to lessen the opacity of the songs references to the contemporary drug culture. Although the label succeeded in editing the recording, the original line

                'She gets high ... she gets high'

                Can be heard in several of the bands live performances; an action typical of Jim Morrison and central to his popularity, he could not, and would not be edited onstage, and the fans loved him for it (Densmore, Riders on the Storm, p.80).

                The next notable track on the album is Light My Fire; this was the signature track of the album and the track that launched the band (and the album) into the living rooms of mass audiences. The track was actually written mainly by the bands guitarist Robbie Kreiger, and this coupled with the tracks popularity led Jim Morrison to despise the track (Ibid, p.88) as it became more recognizable to fans that what he considered to be his more serious works. With its lyrical references to the contemporary drug culture, musical hooks such as the organ intro and indulgent guitar solos, vocal performance and metaphorical depth the song took the band from the LA underground scene and thrust them into the mainstream. Again the track suffered from their peers within the entertainment industry wanting to edit their lyrical content; the track is about two people indulging in extended drug use, featuring the line

                'Girl we couldn't get much higher'

                The band were asked not to perform this line on an episode of The Ed Sullivan Show in the US, but as they were live on air Jim decided to sing it anyway and The Doors were never re-invited to perform on the show; typical of Morrison's attitude and the stories of him that increased his popularity in mainstream America (Schmid, p.54). The song also suffered musical editing from radio stations that refused to play the jazz-like seven minute version; although they did play an unusually long 4.40 version on the radio the single was cut down even more to a more conventional 3.07. This did nothing to dissuade people from the song however and it became so popular that it has since been covered by a wealth of international recording artists including:
                Jose Feliciano
                Will Young
                Nancy Sinatra
                Massive Attack
                UB40
                Shirley Bassey
                Stevie Wonder
                Al Green
                And a host of others; such impersonation of a band and of a particular track is demonstrative of a song that other musicians consider to be important and is a strong case for the acceptance of The Doors as a culturally significant album.

                The album also contains two covers; The Alabama Song and Back Door Man. The former was written by Bertolt Brecht, playwright, and Kurt Weill, a musician and formed a part of their Rise and Fall of the City of Mahogany musical, again presenting not only Morrison's cultural knowledge but providing a fusing of popular and high culture. The latter is a Howlin' Wolf cover, although the song was originally written by Willie Dixon; Morrison chose to cover this track as it represents one of his cultural and musical influences and the lyrical content fits in perfectly with the kind of things Jim Morrison liked to sing about. The song is about a man who sleeps with married women, and therefore ends up entering and leaving through the back door; however when Jim singed the song he preferred to think of it as a less metaphorical reference to anal sex, something which Jim was widely reported to have been interested in, and the song has since acquired such connotations (Densmore, p.95).

                The climax of the album comes in the form of the rather aptly named The End; a track that the band would use to finish their live sets during their formative early years (Manzarak, p.199) and one that has had a massive amount of critical and scholarly commentary; a characteristic of a culturally significant work.
                Lyrically the song deals with issues such as insanity and incest; the spoken word section of the song containing the lyric

                'Father ... I want to kill you ... mother ... I want to ... fuck you'

                Which is a direct literary reference to Oedipus; the Sophocles character that suffered from such thoughts; again this is a clear example of a merging of popular and high culture, a feat accomplished by only the most culturally significant of works. Morrison gave his own translation of this lyric; stating that it was a metaphor for casting off fear, hatred or anything that is alien to you and embracing love, peace and the earth (Ibid. p.200)
                The song also contains lyric references to the expanding experimentation of the drug culture, singing the line

                'The blue bus is calling us ... take me to the blue bus ... driver where you taking us'

                Which is a reference to an opium substitute available as a recreational narcotic in the mid 60's (Densmore, p.66)
                Musically the track has had a huge amount of analysis and commentary; the droning Indian-inspired DADGAD guitar; the tribal-esque drumming of John Densmore; Ray Manzarek's organ parts and the crescendo's that exist beneath Morrison's half sung, half spoken vocals; the song is a musical journey through Jim's mind, rebelliousness, search for an expansion of his mind, his influences and his teetering on the brink of insanity.
                The somewhat melodic sequences of the song reach a huge psychedelic climax after the Oedipus inspired lines; leading to 'a frenzy of volume, drums, organ, guitar ... the sounds of chaos, of hell, of an orgy or madness ...' (Manzarek, 200)
                The song ends with the (in hindsight) significant lines

                'It hurts to set you free ... but you'll never follow me ... the end of laughter and soft lies ...the end of nights we tried to die'

                The End is the quintessential Doors track and represents, musically, lyrically and metaphorically what the band represented and why they became so popular; the song has appeared in several films, most notably Apocalypse Now (1979) and is still today a cultural musical reference point for rock historians.

                Overall I would assert the notion that Jim Morrison is a culturally important figure in rock mythology based on the interpretation and subsequent popularity of his image, his attitude and ideologies coupled with their introduction into a society that faced social and political tensions on many levels, his lyrical and metaphorical prowess and this coupled with his unpredictability, rebelliousness and magnetism in his live performances.
                Jim Morrison must be considered a culturally important artist; he created music which transcended normal cultural boundaries; that drew on influences from all areas of the social and cultural spectrum and fused high and popular culture.
                The Doors therefore is a culturally significant album because it is the introduction of Jim Morrison and The Doors into the mainstream; with the inclusion of The Alabama Song and Back Door Man it highlights perfectly Jim Morrison's appreciation of musical history and high culture whilst still demonstrating his own unique form of rebelliousness through track like The End and Break on Through.
                The album is most culturally significant, as with any work, when considered in direct correlation to the social and political climate in which it was released and the subsequent effect it had on that climate. The Doors gave the disenfranchised youths of America a representative of their (on the whole) anti-war leanings and their yearning for what they perceived to be an ideological and cultural freedom.
                The Doors can also be measured in its cultural significance via the volume of public, critical and scholarly analysis that it has received; a characteristic of any culturally important work.
                The Doors and Jim Morrison have inspired thousands of musicians, poets, filmmakers and idealists and continues to spark debate and discussion amongst academics, critics and rock historians alike; both can with some considerable confidence be described as culturally significant entries in social, political and musical mythology.






                Bibliography

                Clarke, John: New Times and Old Enemies (1991) London: Harper Collins Academic

                Curtis, Jim: Interpretations of Music and Society (1987) Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press

                Densmore, John: Riders on the Storm (1990) London: Pan Macmillan

                Manzarek, Ray: Light My Fire: My Life with The Doors (1999) London: Arrow Books

                Schmid, Sebastian: The Doors: A Legend in American Rock Music (2002) Scholarly paper: Uni Konstanz, North America

                Shepherd, John: Music as Social Text (1991) Cambridge: Policy Press

                Whiteley, Sheila: Literature and the Rise of the Rock Rebel (2004) London: Routledge

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                • More +
                  26.04.2010 21:40
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                  A phenomenal and culturally significant album

                  Fleetwood Mac's second studio album 'Rumours' is generally considered to be one of the most remarkable and culturally important albums ever recorded (see Murrells or Easlea for example), selling 13 million copies upon its release (Murrells, 1978:387) and receiving worldwide critical acclaim. In this review I will look at what I consider to be the main elements in the consideration of 'Rumours' as a culturally significant work; examining the album in relation to the cultural and social framework of the time in which it was released and subsequently exploring the dynamic relationship between popular music and social change.

                  Despite Fleetwood Mac having their origins in the UK, my analysis will focus on the bands reception in America and examine the album in relation to the socio-political landscape in the US at the time. I have made this decision for several key reasons; 'Rumours' was recorded in the United States, the addition of American couple Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks greatly improved the bands commercial appeal (and could be considered a primary factor in their subsequent success) and the band's major breakthrough in terms of both commercial and critical reception happened primarily in America. I therefore feel it most relevant to examine the characterisation of the era in the United States rather than in the UK.

                  'Rumours' was released in the early half of 1977 to an America that was experiencing a profound shift in their cultural, social and political landscape. As many previous academics have demonstrated (see Berkowitz or Friedman for example) the seventies era witnessed a series of events that reconceptualised the implicit contact between citizens and their government, that forced a new consciousness of individual and group rights, and that ushered in a new era of popular culture (Friedman 2006:7).
                  Politically, the decade was dominated by two major events; the end of America's participation in the Vietnam War (1973-1975) and the Watergate scandal and subsequent resignation of President Richard Nixon (1974). Considering these significant blows to two of America's biggest symbols of their strength and power and its subsequent effect on the cultural climate, it is little wonder why the decade is characterised by a pervasive sense of insecurity spread broadly across the American landscape (Friedman 2006:8). By 1976 confidence in government officials in the US had dropped to 22 percent, from a previous 61 percent in 1964 (Slocum-Shaffer, cited in Friedman 2006:8) and nearly 70 percent agreed with the phrase "over the last ten years, the country's leaders have consistently lied to the people" (1975 National Survey, cited in Berkowitz 2000:6).
                  These two major events strongly challenged fundamental American beliefs and cultural identities; Watergate led to the alienation of the public from the politicians they elected to represent them and reconceptualised the role of the press in America (Friedman 2006:9) whilst the death toll (58,022 US soldiers), cost (approx. $140 billion) and total military and diplomatic failure of the Vietnam War (Berkowitz 2000:50) taught the United States people that their military power was not unlimited - a notion that did not sit well with most American citizens' cultural and national identities.

                  It is this contextualisation of 'Rumours' within this US socio-political setting that leads us to a pertinent element in the consideration of the album as a culturally significant release. Many consider the album to be an 'antidote' to the era (Easlea 2007:1); a sonic removal from what was happening in the US at the time (Davis/Fleetwood 1990:86). Whereas (particularly contemporary) artists may have dealt with similar socio-political issues in a more linear, direct and/or aggressive way (take John Lennon or Rage Against the Machine for pertinent examples), Fleetwood Mac chose not to address the situation in their music at all; instead writing an album of songs that dealt with the personal relationships within the band (although this will be discussed more later). This resulted in a collection of songs that are musically and lyrically a complete removal from the troubling socio-political context in which they were produced, whilst still remaining in touch with the sense of loss and hope engrained in the emerging US national identity. This idea is epitomised in the track 'Songbird', which Stevie Nicks eloquently and somewhat pertinently described as "a little anthem for all of us" (cited in Davis/Fleetwood 1990:134).
                  This idea of the album being considered an 'antidote' of the era is further strengthened by examining the production of the album through a similar theoretical framework; there is so much space and freedom, so much left out in the production and sparse instrumentation that it allows a similar 'sonic removal' from the difficulties of the era. If the 70's could be considered to be characterised by redundant excess, you are extremely hard pushed to find a similar notion in the production or instrumentation of 'Rumours' (Easlea 2006:1). Excellent examples of this minimal production are 'Dreams' and 'Don't Stop', both of which benefit immensely from Ken Callait, Richard Dashut and Fleetwood Mac's ('Rumours' CD liner notes 1977) incredibly sparse instrumentation and production.

                  The 1970's saw the majority of what is described as the 'second wave' of the feminist movement, despite this however throughout the 70's there were very few established female solo artists or front-women of rock'n'roll bands. The few exceptions there were (Carole King, Joni Mitchell for example) consistently had to confront the issues of gender; finding themselves constrained by popular audience's conceptions of women (Thompson 2000:3). Academics have suggested that masculine values (particularly in reference to American culture) consistently define what is considered important in the national culture and as a result of this the songs by women that have survived or reached a 'classic' status are those which fit the male-determined stereotype (Butruille/Taylor 1983:183). Women then are often seen to have to fit in to pre-determined roles in the music industry, particularly in the seventies. An example of this presence of gender-specific stereotypes would be the career of Janis Joplin, who struggled with confronting the male dominated world of music whilst still attempting to maintain her own sense of identity (O'Brien 1995). Despite Joplin being an individual, dynamic and sometimes forceful artist she was generally considered to have an aura of powerlessness rather than being a powerful artist or woman (Ibid 1995:271). Her heart wrenching and emotional style was met generally by the public with pity, giving the artist a sense of vulnerability and fitting her into the classic male-determined female stereotype of a victim (Butruille/Taylor 1983). Endres furthers this idea, suggesting that coming across a mature, intelligent woman who is consistently portrayed and considered in that way in the music industry is a rare occurrence (Endres 1984:17), particularly in the 70's era.
                  I would suggest that Stevie Nicks deals with this issue of gender extremely well and is one of the few artists to present herself consistently as a strong, intelligent powerful woman, whilst still fitting in to a certain male-defined stereotype of women as vulnerable. The track 'Dreams' from the 'Rumours' album epitomises this idea; the song is about a woman who has been broken up with - rather than the female perspective eliciting pity from the listener Nicks manages to present herself as vulnerable and strong at the same time (Thompson 2000:4). There is a certain wisdom in her lyrics that moves away from the more usual vengeful, lost or helpless feeling portrayed by other female artists covering a similar subject matter, examples of this are:

                  Players only love you when they're playing / women they will come and they will go / when the rain washes you clean you'll know

                  Here I go again / I see the crystal visions / I keep the visions to myself

                  The lines 'players only love you when they're playing' and 'women they will come and they will go' suggest a real wisdom and strength and 'when the rain washes you clean you'll know' highlights a lack of malice or need for vengeance; she is suggesting time will heal her wounds as well as bringing a 'karmic realignment' in relation to her ex-lover. Nicks manages to present the feeling of vulnerability through the fact that she is the one that has been broken up with; subsequently there is a sense of loss and sadness about the song that is balanced out by the attitude, vocal delivery and lyrical content. The track ends up portraying Nicks in an intelligent and strong way without alienating her from the dominant male-defined stereotypes of the era.
                  As a result of this Stevie Nicks managed to portray herself in a way that was unobtainable to so many other female artists around her, she dealt with the gender boundaries that existed in a way that was unique at the time. It is worthy of note that Stevie Nicks's inclusion in Fleetwood Mac prior to the recording of 'Rumours' was a primary contributing factor in the bands' commercial and critical success ('Dreams' was the bands' only number one single) and her unique way of surmounting gender issues was a critical element of this. This approach to the issues of gender and its subsequent positive causal effects on the commercial success of the album is a pertinent note in the consideration of 'Rumours' as a culturally significant release.

                  Quite apart from the cultural and political context in which the album was recorded and released, the intense personal relationships between the band members had a huge effect on the individuals themselves, the band, the music, the lyrics and the album as a whole. In the months leading up to the recording of 'Rumours', Lindsey Buckingham separated from Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood separated from his wife and John and Christine McVie also split (Classic Albums: Rumours 2004), although all five members remained in the band. It is also suggested that Christine McVie had an affair with the groups lighting director (Davis/Fleetwood 1990). Both Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood commented on the difficulties of the band members having to spend long hours with each other when really they didn't want to be in each others lives at that time (Ibid 1990). The band members who were breaking up had no real separation from each other and were forced to deal with the emotions of recording an album at the same time as dealing with the issues in their personal lives. It is worthy of note that Christine McVie pertinently commented on the writing of the album, stating that they "were all writing about each other", and this is the likely cause of the title of the album (Classic Albums: Rumours 2004).
                  Given this extremely sensitive context in which the album was recorded, the individual tracks take on a far greater weight of meaning. The previously mentioned affair between Christine McVie and Fleetwood Mac's lighting director is reportedly the subject for 'You Make Loving Fun'; both 'Go Your Own Way' and 'Dreams' refer to the break up of Nicks and Buckingham; 'Gold Dust Woman' is a reference to Nicks' addiction to drugs; 'Don't Stop' refers to the divorce of Christine and John McVie and 'Songbird' is a soft anthem laced with a sense of hope that seems infinitely more touching given the context in which it was written (Davis/Fleetwood 1990 and Classic Albums: Rumours 2004).
                  The album has a far greater impact on the listener when they are aware of the context of the recording - the intensely personal nature of the album's subject matter gives it an extremely sensitive and delicate feel when listening to it. In this respect it is comparable to John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band (1970); both albums deal with extremely personal issues; both albums elicit an emotional response from the listener that could be compared to reading someone's diary or eavesdropping on an emotional conversation and both albums utilize minimal instrumentation and production in order to heighten the emotional resonance of the tracks (although they do so in slightly different ways). Where 'Rumours' sets itself apart is the optimism and wisdom that permeates the albums lyrics and feel. Whereas Lennon's work demonstrates a huge amount of pain, disillusionment, bitterness and anger whilst dealing directly with both personal and socio-political issues, Fleetwood Mac's album carries the same kind of emotional weight and resonance without losing the upbeat, optimistic outlook that clearly permeated into the music itself and allowed the band such commercial viability. Ultimately, 'Rumours' portrays such emotional angst and a real resonance with the listener without depressing them; it displays a bright, wise and optimistic outlook on life which easily could have acted as a musical anecdote for the cultural and political issues that permeated everyday society. The album's ability to do this is an extremely pertinent element in the consideration of 'Rumours' as a culturally important recording.

                  There can be no denying 'Rumours' was an extremely successful commercial and critical album, both during the era of its release and decades afterwards; in 1978 it received a Grammy Award for Album of the Year 1977; in 2001 VH1 placed it at no.16 in the greatest albums of all time; in 2003 it was ranked no.25 in Rolling Stones Magazines' 500 greatest albums of all time and it has now been re-issued in both the US and the UK, selling over 33 million copies worldwide (Eslea 2006:1).
                  These figures alone suggest an element of cultural significance to the recording (although admittedly in a very linear way) purely as the album has graced the homes of so many different people over the last 30 years, making it a part of the social fabric of millions of lives and inextricably part of American popular culture.
                  The amount of academic examination the work has received also points to a definite cultural significance - The sheer study of 'Rumours' places it firmly in both the spheres of high art and contemporary popular culture; suggesting that culturally significant conclusions can be drawn from the academic examination and analysis of the album.
                  Overall, given its consideration as an 'antidote' to the era whilst still keeping firmly in the bounds of generic conventions and in step with its times (Ibid 2006:1), Nicks' surmounting of gender issues and the album's ability to present such personal issues in such a positive light 'Rumours' can certainly be considered a culturally important album. It exists not only as an extremely enjoyable recording but also as a shining example of what can be produced in the face of such personal, cultural and political turmoil; a microcosm of the human condition and its conceptual and cultural links with hope, emotion and loss. Invariably then, 'Rumours' is a work of significant cultural importance and one that will exist in the fabric of popular culture, in both the US and the UK, for generations to come.







                  References

                  Butruille, S. and Taylor, A. (1987) Women in American Popular Song (p. 170-190) Norwood, NJ: Ablex

                  Classic Albums: Rumours (2004) [DVD] Eaglevision

                  Davis, S. and Fleetwood, M. (1990) Fleetwood: My Life and Adventures in Fleetwood Mac (p 80-150) New York: William Morrow

                  Easlea, D. (2006) BBC Online 'Rumours' Album Review (accessed 06/05/08)
                  URL: http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/release/r563/

                  Endres, K. (1984) Sex Role Standards in Popular Music: Journal of Popular Culture (18: p. 9-20)

                  Fleetwood Mac (1977) Rumours [record] Warner Bros Inc

                  Friedman, L. (2006) American Cinema of the 1970's: Themes and Variations (p. 5-20) NJ: Rutgers University Press

                  John Lennon (1970) The Plastic Ono Band [record] Apple/EMI

                  O'Brien, L. (1995) She Bop: The Definitive History of Women in Rock, Pop and Soul (p. 271) New York: Penguin

                  Thompson, C. (2000) Changing Gender Images in Rock and Roll (p. 2-8) Arkansas: University Press

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                  • More +
                    26.04.2010 21:20
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                    An excellent portable storage solution

                    I bought a Sony Micro Vault Mini USB flash drive (8GB) from Maplin in Brighton a while ago for £49.99.

                    I've had some bad experiences with external hard drives (I've had two Seagate 320GB EHD's and both have broken and resulted in not being able to retrieve my data) and wanted to buy a solid state USB pen that would allow me to back up just the most important of the data on my computer, as well as being able to easily transfer data.

                    Given my previous bad experience with external hard drives i wanted to go with a name brand as the most important thing to me was reliability - i didn't want losing my data to be any sort of risk. To this end i bought a Sony product as i've had nothing but good experiences with their electronic and computer products in the past.
                    On this front the Sony Micro Vault has been brilliant - i've been using it constantly for around 6 months now and i've never suffered any kind of loss of data or problems with performance. It's exceptionally reliable and at 8GB can hold a lot of data, including media like films, etc. (It holds around 8 feature length films for example).

                    The performance is excellent - it pops up pretty much as soon as it's plugged it (I've tried it on both Mac and PC) and the transfer speed is excellent, as long as you're using a USB 2.0 slot.

                    The design of the stick is also really nice, it features a retractable USB connector (using a slide mechanism on the bottom, you can see the slide button in the picture) which prevents the risk of bending or breaking the connector. I like this design and it just helps to add that little bit of piece of mind, knowing you're not going to damage your USB stick in transit.

                    Overall i'd say it's a well designed and perfectly functioning product - if you're looking for an affordable and portable USB storage device and don't need anything more than 8GB, look no further than the Sony Micro Vault Ultra Mini.

                    Model ID: USM8GJUM

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