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Ash's full length debut album and follow-up to the promising mini-lp Trailer was released at the height of Britpop in the Spring of 1996. The album went on to top the UK albums chart and became their first platinum record. The title 1977 was chosen for several reasons, first it was the year that two of the band members were born. Secondly it was the year in which many seminal punk records were released, of which Ash were heavily inspired by. Thirdly it was the year Star Wars was released, the band being big fans as can be seen by the closing track Darkside Lightside (as well as the slightly more obscure reference of the sound of a TIE fighter opening the album).
1977, whilst being influenced by classic punk bands such as The Buzzcocks and The Undertones, takes a slightly more expanded approach with all the songs breaching the three minute mark, bar one. The one exception is the thrilling Kung Fu which pays tribute to Jackie Chan in its lyrics. Girl From Mars is probably the best known song here, a regular staple of indie discos and with good reason. It was the song that really brought Ash to a wider audience and helped the album to number one in the UK album chart.
Other standouts include Angel Interceptor, another high tempo rocker with an excellent guitar solo from Tim Wheeler. The bittersweet love song Oh Yeah and Ash's biggest chart hit Goldfinger, which features some of Wheeler's strongest lyrics to date. Also worth mentioning is the strong opener Lose Control, a great way to kick off the album and features another great solo.
There are a couple of forgettable tracks such as I'd Give You Anything and the Mark Hamilton penned Innocent Smile but the good heavily outweighs the bad overall.
The thee members of Ash; Tim Wheeler, Mark Hamilton and Rick McMurray were still studying in school when Trailer (their debut mini album) was released. This makes the record all the more impressive considering their young age. It is an album that is rather in debt to their influences, punk shot through with the quiet/loud dynamics of Dinosaur Jr and Nirvana.
Compare to their later full length releases and Trailer has a much more rough and ready sound, far less polished than they would go onto record. Along with this lo-fi quality is a breathlessness to their playing which drives the material along, Petrol is a good example of this with the propulsive rhythm section of McMurray and Hamilton driving the song at a breakneck pace. Elsewhere the catchy single "Jack Names The Planets" is another early Ash favourite and would continue to be a staple of their live for years to come. Uncle Pat also stands out with its excellent bass line, the track was also featured on a Henieken advert and would was included on Intergalactic Sonic 7s, Ash's greatest hits album.
They didn't have it all figured out in their teenage years however, Get Out is a fairly obnoxious throwaway that can easily be skipped and Obscure Thing is an unfocused way to end things. Ash would go on to make superior music with the follow-up 1977 that saw them really come into their own and achieve success.
When it comes to fizzy orange soft drinks Tango has always been king for me. Ever since I was a young boy I would choose it over alternatives such as Fanta and Orangina. Compared to these, orange Tango has a sweeter, zestier quality to it which to my taste buds makes it a superior beverage. It may surprise you to learn that orange Tango is also an extremely versatile drink, I've found that it is the perfect accompaniment to a variety of different cuisines over the years, usually of the take-away kind.
Of course, as with most fizzy soft drinks there is a downside. The high sugar levels and high calorific count mean that you should not consume orange Tango in high quantities if possible, lest you find your teeth and your belly be affected.
I would recommend Orange Tango to anyone who likes to indulge in soft drinks of the fizzy sort, if you want to get the best experience I would advise the Tango is suitably refrigerated before quenching your thirst.
In my school days, many years ago I would look forward all morning to the arrival at lunch time of the "The Scab Van". What was essentially an ice cream van, rather than selling the cold stuff, The Scab Van sold all the best chocolate and sweets a young boy could dream of. There were mars bars, twixs, gobstoppers, Irn-Bru Bars and of course the mighty Wham Bar!
This delicious sweet comes encased in a plastic wrapper that can be tricky to navigate, especially young sweaty hands eager to taste the deliciousness within. Once you do get this long thin slab of sticky loveliness between your lips it is a veritable taste sensation! I find it incredibly difficult to put into words just how amazing these things are, if you haven't tried a Wham Bar I suggest you find your nearest sweet emporium and make haste for this is not something you need to miss out on any longer. You may thank me later.
I've become somewhat disillusioned with standard coke over the years and have ventured onto other soft drinks as my fizzy drink of choice. Coke still has it's place in my heart but I've probably had too much in my lifetime and it's become too predictable and boring. Vanilla Coke is a very good option for those who enjoy the classic coke taste but want something new, something different.
The addition of vanilla to the famous coke flavour works incredibly well and gives a very pleasant smooth tasting drink. It would be nice if vanilla coke was on sale in more establishments as an alternative to the ever present standard coke/pepsi option.
On the downside, like original coke and many other fizzy drinks there are negative health effects if you overindulge. The high sugar and calorie levels in this drink will have an adverse effect on teeth and weight if you drink too much of the stuff.
I'll try and keep this as unbiased as I can but I just love this stuff! Dr Pepper has always been my preferred fizzy drink when the option is there, its unique flavour stands head and shoulders above the Cokes and Tangos of this world. I understand that taste is subjective, so your mileage may vary with the good doctor. Personally I only wish that Dr Pepper was available on tap to the same extent you will find Coke or Pepsi in food establishments.
There's usually a downside with something that tastes so good and with 'Ol Doc it's the obvious health issues associated with consuming a drink so high in sugar and calories. I would recommend that overindulgence is to be avoided, too much of this sweet nectar and your teeth will start rotting and you will become as round as a pepper, a stuffed pepper!
I would recommend a visit from the doctor, it's good for what ails you!
The HTC Desire is my first venture into the world of smartphones and it mostly achieves everything I could ask of it. Compared to the iPhone it may not have quite the ease of use that offers, the iPhone offers an extremely intuitive user interface with all apps in one place. The Desire by contrast is slightly trickier to navigate.
The display is of a high quality and more than adequate for playing the many games available on the android store and using the many apps available. The sound quality from the speaker is fairly decent, although my phone has recently developed a fault where I can only hear the person I'm calling/calling me on speakerphone.
The biggest negative I've found with this phone is that the battery life is rather short, the Desire does need to be charged daily if used a fair amount. Also I have had mine crash a few times in the 18 months I've owned it, a simple reset was required to resolve this.
Overall I would recommend this phone as a good, more reasonably priced alternative to Apple's iPhone.
Art Brut may have been written off by many as a novelty one hit wonder off the back of the brilliant debut single Formed A Band, which would be a massive shame. Formed A Band introduced the world to the fiercely tongue in cheek approach of Eddie Argos "Yes this is my real singing voice, it's not irony and it's not rock and roll..." well, it was both and for many it was too much to take. More fool them as this is one of the most fun albums you will ever hear, how can you not appreciate such lyrical gems as "I wanna be the boy, the man who writes the song that makes Israel and Palestine get along" or during the pean to his first love Emily Kane "I hope this song finds you fame, I want schoolkids on buses singing your name". Argos then goes on to list the amount of time that's passed since he last saw her, down to the nearest second!
As you may have gathered the primary appeal of this record is the ingenious lyrics of Eddie Argos, his singing/speaking voice most reminiscent of Mark E Smith of The Fall and his use of humour Mike Skinner. As for the music it's rock & roll as the title suggests, the band provide a rough and ready backing with plenty of memorable riffs and melodies that race along with an abundance of energy. It doesn't try to be anything more than it is, fun.
Lost Souls is Doves' debut album and still their finest hour. It is bursting with gorgeous melancholic songs that evoke their Manchester forebears with an element of shoegaze. This is present during the ebb and flow of Sea Song, a clear standout along with the gorgeous, heartbreaking The Cedar Room which builds to give the album a rousing finale. To be honest it's hard to pick out anything here which doesn't deserve its place in the tracklisting, especially when you consider how much care and attention has been given to ensure the seamless flow. This is an album in the truest sense of the word and more than a collection of songs.
Lost Souls' extensive use of chiming guitars and shimmering reverb give it a truly ethereal sound, which along with the mournful lyrics made it stand out among the many bands attempting to fill the post Britpop vacuum at the turn of the last century. Doves would go on to achieve more success with the follow-up The Last Broadcast but they have yet to artistically better their first effort.
This Samsung LED TV has an excellent HD picture and is an incredibly stylish piece of kit which draws attention in a room without being overbearing. I've used this with HD TV and a PS3 and on both it delivers a crystal clear image with excellent colour levels. There have been issues on some sets with clouding, I only noticed this on my set when a very dark image is on the screen and only when I was actively looking for it.
The extremely thin bezel on this model makes the set a touch smaller than most 40" LCD TVs and for those with space limitations it is something to consider, it also gives this model a stylish look. The remote is easy to use and has all the functions you could require. The sound (as is the norm for LCD TVs) is far from perfect but there are a few different settings that help improve the bass which is so often lacking in such thin televisions. Although for audiophiles it may be worth investing in a standalone speaker system.
As this is a 3D TV I'll have to mention the quality of the 3D this set is capable of. Like all 3D TVs it depends on the quality of the source material but I have found that even on the highest quality there is at least a small amount of crosstalk which is dissapointing. The set uses active 3D technology which can cause eye strain when using the battery operated active 3D glasses supplie. I've found that using the 3D has given me the odd headache which is something you wouldn't expect with a passive 3D set.
Honestly the HD picture is so strong on this set that I tend not to bother with 3D and don't feel that I'm missing out on anything at all. The blacks are deep, the colours rich and motion good (although watching sports does result in some tearing of the image, usually only a problem on standard definition channels).
There are four HDMI slots on the back, three USB slots, component, PC, AV, SCART, LAN scoket and a headphone socket which is more than ample. One of the USB slots is compatible with an external hard drive, I've used this extensively and can say that it is one of my favourite features on this TV. The set is capable of playing virtually any video format thrown at it, including the popular high def format MKV, which the XBox360 and PS3 are unable to deal with.
As with most modern LCD/LED TVs in the mid budget range, this TV comes with internet connectivity and Smart TV functionality. I haven't spent a huge amount of time exploring this but what I have seems very well laid out, the free 3D programmes/films available are a nice touch and a good way to show of the 3D capabilities of the TV.
Overall this is a very impressive television and I would highly recommend the purchase, you may get more use out of the 3D than I have as I'm not the most avid fan of active 3D technology.
At the age of 30 I had my first ever Fray Bentos pie last week. I'd always dismisssed those cheap tinned pies because, well, it's a pie in a tin and how could that possibly be any good? Right? Wrong! Upon opening the tin lid I was surprised to find that the batter on top was uncooked and when placed into an oven for approx 30 minutes this batter would rise into a wonderful crusty pie top!
The chicken and gravy underneath the glorious pie crust was equally tasty, I found myself thoroughly satisfied with my first venture into the world of Fray Bentos! The only negative I could find was that there was no base to the pie so I had to make do with just the top crust. I would also recommend that you wait a few minutes before attempting to devour the pie goodliness as the initial temperature out of the oven is hotter than the sun.
After leaving The Stone Roses following the underrated Second Coming album, John Squire formed a new four-piece band with bassist Stuart Fletcher, singer Chris Helme and drummer Andy Watts who became The Seahorses. Their debut album and at present their only officially released album (there is a second album that was recorded but remains unreleased, if you look hard enough online you may be able to find it) was something of a disappointment when compared to the work of Squire's previous band.
DIY did have the excellent single "Blinded By The Sun" which is the clear standout on the album, elsewhere the co-written with Liam Gallagher, "Love Me And Leave Me" is a pretty decent tune along with The Seahorses biggest hit "Love Is The Law". What lets things down are some outright embarrassing lyrics on tracks such as Suicide Drive and Happiness Is Eggshaped, the pedestrian trad-rock sound of a lot of the songs does nothing to inspire repeat listens too.
Overall I can't recommend this album but I would definitely advise you to at least have a listen to Blinded By The Sun which is something of a lost classic from the latter days of Britpop.