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mrvitaminpill

mrvitaminpill
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Member since: 28.11.2008

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      17.04.2009 19:43
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      Nice production, and some good songs

      After the rather low fi effort of debut album 'Generation Terrorists' The Manics headed to a luxury £2,000 a day studio, the Manics ditched the punky rock in favour of a more bombastic, stadium rawk sound. Drummer Shaun Moore used scores of microphones and set up his drums in a barn to achieve a really open sound. Despite being only 10 tracks long, 4 songs were released as singles, unfortunately, the rest of the album is lacking.

      The opening track, Sleepflower has a strong guitar riff, but a pretty weak chorus and an awful pompus middle section complete with synth and acoustic guitar, which just doesn't fit into the song at all. 'From Despair To Where' is another song with a strong riff, and a pretty nice string section.

      'Roses in the Hospital' is probably the stand out track on the album. Sounding more than suspiciously like David Bowie's 'Sound and Vision' (James Dean Bradfield once shouted 'David Bowie sue me' during a live performance of the song) it has probably Bradfield's most accomplished guitar solo, and a great outro featuring a really strong vocal performance. This is closely followed in terms of greatness by another single, La Tristesse Durera (Scream to a Sigh) which examines the treatment of old people and war heroes struggling un poverty; 'People send postcards, and they all hope I'm feeling well...I sold a medal, it paid a bill, it sells at market stallks, parades Milan catwalks' With another great solo and what James Dean Bradfield calls a 'baggy' guitar riff (although I don't really see the connection with baggy music here) it is a strong track.

      Tracks like 'Yourself' 'Symphony of Tourette' and 'Drug Drug Druggy' are fairly indistinctive and just merge into one to the casual listener. They also reveal the beginnings of lyricist Richie Edwards' downfall, 'You look at ads all day, everyone is perfect and you're so lame' The closing title track, has a nice upbeat riff, mixed with some pretty shocking lyrics about voting for the Conservatives, closing coal mines, and using Thai people as cleaners is an interesting listen, although not really much more than that.

      As an interesting aside, this is the only Manics album which features guitar playing from 'guitarist; Richie Edwards, who plays a G chord in the chorus of 'La Tristesse Durera', despite being around for the recording of three albums!

      In general, it is a good listen, with strong production, and at just ten tracks long, it will maintain your interest although it won't enthuse you constantly. This album suffers what I like to call 'Blur syndrome' where there are great singles, but they are backed up by some really poor album tracks. There are some great tracks here which deservedly sit on the Manics' Greatest Hits CD, but there are also a few songs which should be confined to history!

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      • Diagnosis Murder / TV Programme / 17 Readings / 17 Ratings
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        15.04.2009 17:48
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        A nice way to spend lunchtime

        This programme is the epitomy of the obsurdly ridiculously brilliant. Running for 8 seasons, with 5 TV movies thrown in for good measure, it never really grows tired, despite following the same forumula for every episode. There is a death at the beginning of each episode, which Steve Sloane (played by Barry Van Dyke) will investigate (usually not very well, even though some of the plots are painfully obvious) and is helped out by his on and off screen father, Dr Mark Sloane (Dick Van Dyke) who will often exceed his responsibilities as a citizen and most likely abuse his family access to police resources to snare the murderer, whilst simulataneously neglecting his duties as a doctor!

        The plots are fairly basic. There are a few twists with have been thrown in over the years to keep you on your toes, evil identical twins, faked deaths and a suicide made to look like a murder are some which I can think of off the top of my head. Then again I don't really think the show thinks of itself as a mystery show. There are a fair few (poorly executed) comedy routines in most episodes, which often raise a laugh.

        The latter episodes are better than the earlier ones in my opinion. The early episodes feature Bugsy Malone and Happy Days star Scott Baio as the bit of eye candy for the female and gay male fans, although to me it looks like a cat has died on his head and that he hasn't slept for 20 years. Fortunately he gets replaced after the first couple of years by Charlie Schlatter (who was first pick to voice Fry's character in Futurama fact fans!) who, aside from being better looking, has a far better character, who provides some nice comedy distractions from the hard hitting storylines!

        Ultimately, if you want to pick holes in something, don't watch this show. It would be too easy and you won't be able to enjpy yourself. For anyone else, it is a worthwhile experience. It isn't great, but, perhaps with the exception of Monk, it is far better than the other shows in this genre (Murder She Wrote, Father Dowling Mysteries etc). It is certainly more entertaining than Loose Women or Bargain Hunt.

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        • WH Smith / Media Store / 35 Readings / 33 Ratings
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          14.02.2009 23:56
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          Overpriced goods you would rather browse for in other shops...

          If I want a book, I will order one off Amazon, or nip into Waterstones or Borders. If I want a magazine or a newspaper, I will pick one up at the newsagent. If I want a CD, I will go to HMV or get myself on Play.com. If I need some stationary, I will buy some in the supermarket along with my weekly shop. If I want a birthday card...

          This is the problem with WHSmith. Instead of offering something different, they offer extremely poor selections of a range of items. And then they overcharge for them. My local WHSmith charges over 60p for a chocolate bar! I find that CDs are often full price, or so obscure or deridied that I am just not interested in them.

          Another key problem with WHSmith is that you can never be sure of what they are going to sell. It seems to vary from branch to branch. Some seem to have rows and rows of books, but no CDs, whilst others seem to have racks and racks of obscurely ridiculous magazines and no DVDs.

          Essentially, WHSmith is a slightly higher class Woolworths. But long term, I rather suspect WHSmith will go the same way as Woolies, with any luck.

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            15.01.2009 17:14
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            All in all, it is unlikely to appeal to new fans.

            Thom Yorke's solo offering is disappointing to say the least. It was promised before the release, that whilst the album would be electronic, it would contain real songs. Well, there are a few decently constructed songs on here, but a 9 track long album really can't afford to have too many stinkers. 'Atoms for Peace' is probably the worse offender. It's repetitive riff and poorly constructed vocal melody just marks this as no better than a below average Radiohead B Side. 'The Clock' is another weak track, and you wonder why Thom Yorke didn't just roll with the excellent acoustic version he played on the few promotional TV appearances he did. 'And It Rained All Night' is another poor track offering vary little in terms of variation, it has a catchy bassline, but is far too high in the mix to be pleasant or subtle enough to enjoy. 'Skip Divided' is another track which is particularly annoying, as Thom Yorke sings the lines 'I'm a dog/I'm a dog' you begin to wonder if the RSPCA will object if you take him into the garden and shoot him.

            'Analyse' is marginally better, but like 'The Clock', it is easily beaten by the live version which Yorke played at the Mercury Music Award ceremony. Still, the version on the album is pleasant enough, and the piano bubbles along nicely. 'The Eraser' (Chords by J. Greenwood, reversed by Yorke) doesn't exactly start of promisingly, with some rather fairly basic piano chords being played off beat. However, Yorkes vocal melody as he sings the lines 'The more you try to erase me/The more the more/ The more that I appear' really makes this song worth listening to. 'Black Swan' is another great song, apparently it had been kicking about in some form since 2000, and this certainly feels like the little brother of 'Optimistic' released that year. Repeating the same four chords, much like 'Optimistic' this song keeps a strong rhythm, albeit less punchy than the Kid A track.

            The album's closing two tracks, 'Harrowdown Hill' and 'Cymbal Rush' are both superb. Harrowdown Hill contains some great vocals and some brilliant synth. 'Cymbal Rush' has some delicate piano which becomes more prominent as the song progresses, as well as some trademark Radiohead effects, similar to that used in 'Where I End and You Begin' and 'How To Disappear Completely'

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            08.12.2008 15:10
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            Excellent album, subtley flamboyant.

            One wonders after the succession of banging tunes that 'Sam's Town' provided how on earth The Killers would be able to top it. The answer seems to lie in slightly tweaking their sound, as in evidence in this album. Indeed, Stuart Price, the producer of this album, was nominated for a Grammy for his remix of 'Mr Brightside'. This seems a clear indication of the bands desire to take a slightly different approach.

            Whilst the typical Killers synth and guitars are here, there seems to be a slightly different approach to song writing. Lead single 'Human' is a case in point. It is not the most immediately catchy song but it is indicative of trying to be more subtle, whilst still retaining some of that Killersesque flamboyance. 'Human' is a great song, my only gripe with it is that the drumbeat seems to suggest that this is trying to be a dance song, similar to Bloc Pary's 'Flux', but never really quite hits the tempo a dance song needs. It seems slightly embarassed, and the chorus 'Are we human? Or are we dancers?' would scan so much better if it was to a more pulsating beat. Nevertheless, it is a good song, after the 7th or 8th play.

            The opening track 'Losing Touch' is a great song with some really uplifting swing style instumentation, and possible the greatest vocal delievery that Brandon Flowers has ever come out with. 'Joy Ride' is another great song, complete with trumpets. The guitar sound is so Franz Ferdinand you would be forgiven for thinking that there some a mistake at the CD pressing factory and one of their songs got put on there by mistake. 'This Is Your Life' is a great song, the droning backing vocal intro is very similar to the song 'A Woman In Winter' by The Skids.

            Some songs let down the album, like the epic (in terms of length) 'Goodnight Travel Well' I do however think this album provides a strong collection of songs, and if, in 3 or 4 years time, I reach to put on a Killers album, it will be this one I play, rather than the others they have released.

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            • Rendition (DVD) / DVD / 34 Readings / 33 Ratings
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              05.12.2008 18:28
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              A very middle of the road film, which won't bore, but it won't excite either.

              Drawing in (or cashing in?) on general public horror at the practice of so called 'Extraordinary Rendition' this film, at least in terms of storyline does disappoint. It tells a fairly basic story of a man (the excellent Omar Metwally) being interregated over allegations of terrorism, under the watchful eye of the rookie CIA agent (Jake Gylenhaal) It is made abundently clear from the outset that the man is innocent, which kills the film. There is no attempt to weave in a storyline which may or may not suggest guilt. Of course this would have made no difference to the abhorrance as to the treatment of Metwally's character, but it would at least create a bit of intrigue.

              Visually, some of the cinematography is quite stunning, and the addition of subtitles to complement the Arabic speech, rather than just have the actors speak in dodgy Middle Eastern accents is a nice touch. This makes watching the film a pleasing visual and cultural experience, however the hole left by the lack of the story line is still abundant.

              I have read some reviews saying the torture scenes are rather difficult to sit through, but I must admit I wasn't too fussed by the scene, and I am ususally totally rubbish with violence! So I would be quite comfortable with someone under 15 years old (the films certificate) watching this film.

              Near the end of the movie, there is a slight twist regarding the narrative of the film. It is quite a neat addition, sadly the change in narrative doesn't answer any questions or queries raised earlier in the film (of which there are none) or make a twist in the storyline significant enough to alter the viewers take on the film.

              Much like another Jake Gyllenhaal film, 'The Day After Tomorrow', when the final credits roll up, you get an overwhelming realisation that there was no real storyline in the film you had just watched. This is quickly followed by a sense of disappointment, which leaves you feeling rather underwhelmed.

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                02.12.2008 14:29
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                A great listening experience.

                If you mention John Cale (who incidentally wrote the American Psycho soundtrack) to someone, chances are you will be greeted with four different responses; Number One: 'Who?' Number Two: 'Oh the guy from the Velvet Underground?' Number Three: 'Didn't he write Paris 1919?' and my favourite, 'Oh J.J Cale, yeah I like him.' Well his Velvet Underground and Paris 1919 days are well behind him now, and seeing as, several decades on, he is still producing quality albums such as Hobosapiens, I think he deserves a bit more recognition.

                Cale is a terrific musician, who can wield the viola and piano to great effect. His classical background means that he comes up with great arrangements, and is never afraid to try something new, (he once particpated in an 18 hour concert where the same piece of music was played 840 times, the audience even got money off the cost of their ticket for evey 20 minutes they sat through!) or experiment by working with different musicians, producers or instruments, and this is evident on this offering.

                I once read a review about John Cale that said something along the lines of 'Listening to a John Cale album is both engaging and extremely frustrating' I think this is a good assessment of this album. There are some tracks on here that really draw you in and that I find incredibly intriguing, whilst others seem to exclude me completely.

                The album opens with the marvellously hypnotic 'Zen' that swirls around your ears. 'Look Horizon' is another tremendous song, with some excellent beats, a few nice guitar lines thrown in, and some great synth. The song ends with a short instrumental, and almost sounds like a soundtrack to a film, similar to Barry Adamson's work. 'Caravan' and 'Margritte' are probably the highlights for me. Both songs contains a prominent drumbeats, interlaced with some lovely swirling effects, and some more brutal ones, with some great, yet subtle guitar work.

                In tone of tone, this album is perhaps slightly harder to categorise than other John Cale releases. This album has its fair share of gloominess, (They're cutting their heads off in the soccer field / Stretching their necks in the goal) is just one example. There is a slightly lighter feel in the track 'Bicycle' which comes complete with bicycle bell sounds! Meanwhile, the second track in the album, 'Reading My Mind' is distinctly upbeat and a real pleasant listening experience. Then again, most of Cale's work has a certain ambiguous nature, so its hard to make a judgement sometimes. His cryptic lyrics mean that some of his songs tone or subjects aren't immediately obvious. When he sings lines like 'Meet me on the staircase on your way down / We'll see if there's been a mistake / In zen and the art of algebra' I am reminded why I love this man so much!


                I would recommend this album and John Cale in general to people who like to listen to music that is intriguing, ambitious, varied, not instantly immediate and in some cases infuriating. If you like Barry Adamson, Robert Wyatt, Patrick Wolf, Jacques Brel or any other musican who experiments, or uses a range of instruments, and has an incredibly characteristic voice, then John Cale is a must.

                Useful link

                Youtube link to live performance of 'Caravan'
                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8SCVHu1qtI

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                  01.12.2008 22:20
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                  Very very disappointing. If it had some engaging characters, it might have been a half decent book.

                  OK, firstly I feel I should point out that this is the only Sebastian Faulks book I have ever read, so I'm not comparing this to the supposedly brilliant Birdsong. So when I say this book is bad, it is not because it isn't as good as Birdsong, it is because it is bad. But first let me give you a brief outline of the plot (no spoilers) before explaining why I don't like this book.

                  The book is set in fifties America, focusing in on a British couple who have emigrated. The husband, Charlie van der Linden is a hard working and even harder partying diplomat. It is at one of Charlie's parties that his wife, Mary draws the eye of an American journalist by the name of Frank Renzo. Mary, who becomes the central character, becomes torn between the two men, and her predicament is made even worse by the rapidly deteriorating health of her mother back in England, and Charlie van der Linden's alcohol driven self-destruction. Who will she choose?

                  In terms of tone, there is a lot of style. Technically speaking the writing is very good. I like descriptive writing, but it becomes pointless if the descriptions don't lead anywhere. Where I feel the book is lacking is in terms of substance. For example, we are told that there is a skeleton in Frank Renzo's closest, but when it comes out a few chapters later, you feel under whelmed and it has no impact on the story. Also, quite a few of the scenarios are repetitive. It seems every page seems to mention someone lighting up a cigarette, as if this is Faulk's only way of setting a historical context. Also, when the book moves location to Communist Russia, there is a half hearted attempt to convey the cloak and dagger nature of cold war politics, but this fall flat.

                  In terms of relating to the characters, I felt Frank Renzo was totally lacking in any type of charisma. Mary van der Linden came across rather spoilt and cold. Only Charlie van der Linden came across as an interesting character, but I didn't fell connected enough to him to feel sympathy as he cruised towards a breakdown. As a result, when the book reached its end (I hesitate to use the word climax) I found that I really couldn't care less if they all decided to embrace free love and live together in a commune or if they all died in a massive fireball. This is where the book fails. Love stories are often lacking in mystery, or adventure, so to keep them going you often have to, as a reader connect with the characters, and I found this really difficult.

                  With some books, you just wish there was another chapter, or a sequel, or that you could read it again for the first time. Sometimes you get a genuine sadness that you have run out of words to read. When I finished this book, much like getting your BCG done, or like a trip to the dentist, I was just relieved it was over.

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                  01.12.2008 19:02
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                  A Pleasing return to form.

                  Released in May 2007, this album comes at least, oohhh I don't know, approximately 8 years after they disappeared from the public conciousness? Since 1999 they have delivered one below par album 'Know Your Enemy' (2001) followed up by a good, if somwhat plain album 'Lifeblood' (2004) which failed to make the UK Top Ten and disappeared out of the Top 100 altogether after the first week. Failure to deliver with this album could have knocked the last bit of life out of a rock band reaching their 40s.

                  Described by bassist Nicky Wire as 'the White Album played by Guns N Roses' this album certainly rocks and rolls more than recent efforts, albeit not quite up to the standard the Wire's opinion suggests. Tracks like 'Your Love Alone Is Not Enough' and Autumnsong' easily outstrip their recent output in this millenium and stands shoulder to shoulder with anything they wrote in the 1990s.

                  There is event a hint of the militaristic elements of their album, 'The Holy Bible' through Sean Moore's agressive drumming in 'Rendition' whilst Bradfield's guitar soloing in 'Imperial Bodybags' could be easily inserted into any Holy Bible era track. 'I'm Just A Patsy' is another rocker, touching on lyrics which could fit on their third release 'I am just a patsy/A Self made conspiracy'.

                  As well as including the harsher, grungier elements of their back catalogue, there is also references to their poppier albums. Third single 'Indian Summer' is the little brother to the epic 'A Design For Life' complete with waltz time signature, strings and a proud chorus. Meanwhile, 'The Second Great Depression' could have easily come from number one album 'This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours' merging a massive chorus similar to 'If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next' or 'You Stole The Sun From My Heart' with a verse much in the vein of 'Be Natural'. Opening track 'Send Away The Tigers' is also a great song.

                  However, it is not all good news. 'Underdogs' is a fairly turgid track, with poor lyrics, poor production and poor music. Also, Winterlovers is fairly irritating, with James sing 'NA NA NA' in between every line. The hidden track, (found a few minutes after the closing song) a cover of John Lennon's 'Working Class Hero' is a fairly forgettable affair.

                  All in all, this is a good release. It seems to cover most of their previous eras, touching (albeit briefly) on their punk, rock and pop past. It is almost as if they have tried to create a 'best of' only using totally new songs.

                  Useful links:

                  Youtube Music Videos of the singles, from the record companies page,

                  'Your Love Alone is Not Enough' http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyrJJxGWQ5g

                  'Autumnsong' http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ih15FuArNc

                  'Indian Summer' http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zdCaEGWHU8

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                    30.11.2008 12:10
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                    A fairly good album, worth getting.

                    Let's face it, this is not Guns N Roses. Why Axl Rose fought so hard to keep the name is anyone's guess. Even a newborn puppy has heard of Axl Rose, and knows that he was the lead singer of Guns N Roses, so he could easily release this album under his name and not lose any notoriety. However, rather than launch the album as a solo album or for a new band with a new name, akin to Velvet Revolver, Rose has put together an impressive array of musicians - Bumblefoot, Buckethead and Brian May to name but three (although Brian May's guitar part on the record was removed from the final mix) and passed them off as Guns N Roses.

                    Or perhaps the line up is more Guns N Roses than it first appears. Paul Tobias, who contributes guitar to 10 songs on 'Chinese Democracy' co wrote the GNR songs 'Shadow of Your Love' and 'Back off Bitch.' But lets face it, Guns N Roses are a band with Slash on lead guitar, Izzy on the rhythm, Duff on bass and Axl impailing him self with the mike stand up front. It is only when you have seen these four perform in unison that you can actually claim to have seen Guns N Roses - not the mish mash of musicians which have turned out in recent years.

                    But enough of that, what is the quality of the record? Well...

                    TRACKLISTING

                    1. CHINESE DEMOCRACY - After a rather ominous intro, complete with ambient sounds with a Middle Eastern feel to it, the guitars kick in. The opening chords sound like a cross between 'I Believe in a Thing Called Love' by the Darkness and R.E.M's 'Supernatural Superserious' There is some nice xylophone in there, but the chorus is weak, and the guitar solo is more like generic speedy playing, rather than a characteristic solo. Considering that this is the title track and the opening song of an album over a decade in the making, you have a right to expect a lot. Sadly it doesn't really deliver 2/5

                    2. SHAKLER'S REVENGE - This song is more like it. Opening with what sound like metal style vocals, before descending into quite a catchy and rhythmical chorus, with some nice wah wah guitar. The guitar solo is rather discordant to say the least, but quite effective, it is quite reminiscent of Billy Corgan's guitar playing. All in all, this is a much better track than the opener. 4/5

                    3. BETTER - As Axl Rose delievers the pre chorus 'All that I wanted was' you would be forgiven for thinking you were listening to Linkin Park. It's uncanny! There are some nice backing vocals in this song, and are probably the highlight, in what is a rather drab affair. The jazzy guitar in the outro is pleasant, but really comes too late to make this any more than an average affair. 3/5

                    4. STREET OF DREAMS - Urrghh...the piano in this song is pretty awful. It clunks along in a honky tonk way, devoid of any atmosphere. The vocal is pretty poor in the verses but it picks up considerably in the chorus. The string section is quite nice, but the guitar solo doesn't really go anywhere, and adds nothing to the song. Like the playground bully, this song attempts to stronger than it is. 2/5

                    5. IF THE WORLD - Opening with a beat similar to Radiohead's 'Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors' before descending into cheesy synth and Spanish guitar which makes you wonder if there has been a mix up at the factory and the wrong song got pressed onto the CD, but no, there is Axl's voice. This song is quite understated, and quiet, and is very much a grower. 3/5

                    6. THERE WAS A TIME - Continuing the synth from the last song, this song flows nicely into the chorus, which is a slight let down. The song chugs along nicely, until the piano kicks in again. It just sounds cheap. On the plus side, this song contains a guitar solo with some real character to it, and you feel the song is better for its presence. A good song. 4/5

                    7. CATCHER IN THE RYE - The piano on this song is slightly better produced. The guitar and piano weaves in and out together well. The synth breaks on this song are great, the only regret is that is they just don't last long enough. However, as the lead guitar lines kick in, this is soon forgotten. If it lasted a minute less, then I think we would have a 5/5 on our hands, but sadly, this song slight outstays its welcome. 4/5

                    8. SCRAPED - This song is great. The intro and backing vocals really add power to the song. It almost feels as if Slash is in the studio. It has a certain feel of 'Welcome to the Jungle' about it. It is short, punchy and energising. 5/5

                    9. RIAD N' THE BEDOUINS - This song has a great intro, with a certain Brian Eno mellow like quality to it. Then the guitars come crunching in, and like the song before it, you ask 'Slash who?' The chords have a great feel to them. I have no clue what the name is about though? Anyway...another great song here. 5/5

                    10. SORRY - This song starts of with another mellow intro, and the next 30 seconds are a strange experience as you wait for the overdriven distorted guitars to kick in, but they don't come. Instead, some acoustic guitar and some lovely sound effects. Eventually, when the guitar comes in, it slightly betrays the feel of the song and the tone of the lyrics, and this lets the song down badly in my view, which is a shame, because the rest song is lovely. The guitar solo is worth a mention though, it is very atmospheric. But like 'Catcher in the Rye' this song lasts too long, and it weakens tit considerably. 3/5

                    11. I.R.S - Yet another mellow intro, followed by some distorted, although less heavy than the rest. The guitar solo is pretty awful though. For me, this goes down as the worst song on the album. 1/5

                    12. MADAGASCAR - With a sharp synth reminiscent of 'Ganster's Paradise' and a heavy organ sound, this song perhaps offers something different from what you would expect. Some familiar guitar comes in, but then we have a section samples from Martin Luthur King and Cool Hand Luke, which really add a new dimension to the song. 5/5

                    13. THIS I LOVE - Some gentle and well produced piano in this song, although it is slightly reminiscent of Spinal Tap's 'Lick My Love Pump' which gives this song a comedic value which I assume is unintended. This song is like a bad Coldplay B side featuring Rose on vocals. It tries to be epic, but it is just rubbish. Not too impressed with this one. 1/5

                    14. Prostitute - The opening riff slightly reminds me of 'Today' by the Smashing Pumpkins. The piano is nicely produced. And the short stabs of the synth are quite uplifting. The outro closes with a lovely synth, string and piano combination, which is just beautiful. All in all, a solid closing track. 4/5

                    CONCLUSION

                    You can't help but think that if this was a 'real' GNR album, it would be so much better for Slash's guitar solos and riffs. You certainly feel his absence. The string and synth arrangements are well executed. The production of the piano on this album is pretty poor in parts as well. As a record, it stands up well, although some of the songs are forgettable. A decent acquisition for the CD collection of any rock fan.

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                      29.11.2008 12:38
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                      Some of the songs may not stack up, but as an entity, this album is terrific.

                      In a backlash to the over produced predecessor, 'Gold Against The Soul' recorded in a £2,000 a day studio in the English countryside complete with gym and swimming pool, the Manics headed to a 50 pound a day studio based in the red light district in Cardiff to record this follow up. Musically, this is evident as the songs have a distinctly under-produced or demo feel to them. This is not to say the songs are lacking in quality. Head tunesmith James Dean Bradfield virtually lived in the studio, eating all his meals there, double tracking guitar parts and clocking up 14hr+ days on a regular basis. Indeed, 'Faster' is said to have been rewritten well over 20 times.

                      With songs about death, the holocaust, death, corruption, death, anorexia, death, prostitution and death, the album is not for the faint hearted. By bassist's Nicky Wire's admission, 'it is not a party record...but its comforting to know you have it in there nestling in your collection.' I would agree with this assessment. It isn't really something I would want to play to other people, indeed, it isn't really something I want to play to myself, but I still feel it is a great album.

                      'Yes' The song has an infectious guitar riff and a great vocal delivery of some rather disturbing lyrics. 4/5

                      'Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayitsworldwouldfallapart' Probably my favourite lyric in the whole album. This song has a great punk element to it, and would probably fit onto 'Generation Terrorists' 3/5

                      'Of Walking Abortion' With namechecks for Hitler, Mussolini and Horthy, there isn't much to suggest that the lyrics would make a great song, but its frankly amazing. It has a great guitar riff hidden low in the mix and a rasping bassline. The song also has an outro completely different to the rest of the song, which really adds a new dimension to the track. 5/5

                      'She Is Suffering' I don't really like this song, I think it is meant to be gentle and slow paced, but it is just rubbish! The guitar solo is a brief highlight, but musically and lyrically, this song fails. 1/5

                      'Archives of Pain' This song has a catchy Nirvana style bassline, which is later replicated by Bradfield's distortion guitar. The pre chorus offers a soft interlude to an absolutely mental chorus which mentions just about every serial killer ever to make the headlines, before closing with the longest guitar solo every recorded. Lyrically speaking, I think you would be hard pressed to find a song like this one. 4/5

                      'Revol' A fairly simple powerchord based song. The band aren't great fans of this track, and neither am I. The guitar solo is ok though. 3/5

                      '4st 7lbs' The song opens with a sample of a rather disturbing account from a real life anorexic about her experiences. The song then descends into a brutal relentless guitar riff, perforated by two discordant guitar breaks. The outro to the song is the highlight. Slowing in pace, the song becomes more mellow and Bradfield adapts his voice to have a degree of vulnerability not shown in any of the previous Manics' album, until the release of 'This is My Truth Tell Me Yours' 5/5

                      'Mausoleum' is one of the more forgettable tracks on the album. However Bradfield's delivery of a chorus which is just a constant stream of words without taking a breath really does rescue the song. It could probably do with a guitar solo though! 3/5

                      'Faster' Perhaps the best, and most accessible song on the album. The song has a genuinely catchy chorus of descending power chords, a great solo and brilliant verses. 5/5

                      'This Is Yesterday' succeeds where 'She Is Suffering' fails in being a slow paced break of the manic nature of the rest of the album. Like 'Small Black Flowers That Grow in the Sky' this song recorded in open G, and so contains the gentle warmth you would expect. A lovely intricate guitar riff, a great solo and great lyrics. Should have been released as a single in place of 'She is Suffering' 5/5

                      'The Intense Humming of Evil' opens with some rather disturbing, gothic mechanical percussion and a sample of what I assume is recorded from the Nuremburg Trials. Definitely the least accessible song on the album. There isn't much to remember in this song, but there isn't really anything you are likely to forget. I can't imagine there are many songs being written like this. 3/5

                      'PCP' is a song, similar in pace to the punky 'Revol' but executed with a lot more class. Probably the fastest song on an album of world class sprinters, it closes the album neatly. 4/5

                      I've read many people say there isn't a bad song on the album. I disagree, there are a few, but I think every song adds, rather than takes away from the listening experience. So whilst there aren't many 5/5 songs, as a collection, this album gets 5/5 In short, there are a few albums that I wish I could listen again to for the first time, and this is one of them. Highly recommended.

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                      • Farce Of The Penguins (DVD) / DVD / 14 Readings / 14 Ratings
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                        29.11.2008 10:10
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                        Simply the worst film I have ever seen

                        OK, I think I should strat off with a confession...I have never seen the film 'March of the Penguins' which this film is meant to parody. However, judging by the amount of fart jokes and knob gags in this film, I rather suspect that this film is mainly based on childish humour, rather than some attempt at a spoof.

                        After the first 20 minutes, it became abundantly clear that this film was going to be hard for me to finish. After half an hour, I discovered a firm determintation to finish it, just so I could confirm that this film was indeed the worst film that I had ever seen. And you know what? It was!

                        The film opens with what I persume was meant to be joke, but i actually found it quite offensive, not in an edgy humour kind of way, but in an 'oh my God that is offensive' kind of way. Essentially it was describing how male and female penguins can be fond in different areas of the Antarctic. It then went on the say that if you were one of those people who were neither male or female, you should be in Amsterdam. WHAT? So if you are intersex, you clearly are a sexual deviant it seems.

                        Samuel L Jackson's appearances in Barclays and Virgin Media adverts proves that he is not bothered about artistic integrity. His casting as narrator in this film proves to me that he is similar unbothered by artistic quality.

                        The writing on this film is terrible. Its often said that a room full of monkeys sitting at typewriters will eventually replicate the works of Shakespeare. Well, if you stick a couple of monkeys in a room with some laptops, I'm fairly sure their random trashing of the keys would produce a script better than 'Farce...' within a couple of hours!!! I think it may be largely improvised, and the result is like an episode of 'Whose Line is Is anyway' starring John Major and Rio Ferdinand.

                        I think this film has 2 gags which rouse a small laugh, the rest of them fall flat, causing your toes to curl. By the end of the film, its likely you will find them sticking out the bottom of you shoes.

                        This film is just awful. Both me and the friend I watched it with (we have seen our fair share of films) agreed that this film was the worst we had ever seen. Please don't bother with it.

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                        • Twix / Chocolate / 15 Readings / 14 Ratings
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                          29.11.2008 03:48
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                          Theres nothing else quite like it, probably for a reason

                          I'm not sure what it is I don't like about the Twix. It has all the components of a great chocolate bar. Its got biscuit, caramel, and of course, chocolate. Yet there is something about the Twix which I find distinctly underwhelming.

                          I think it is because it tastes too dry for my liking. I prefer my chocolate bars to have a certain element of moisture to them. All the great bars have them - Mars, Double Decker, Twirls. The Twix just doesn't have that! The only way I can think of negating the dryness of the Twix is by eating it with a cup of tea, which is all very nice and civilised, but its just not practical if you want to eat on the go, which is when I consume most of my chocolate bars.

                          I'm not really much of a fan of the packaging either. The colour doesn't really do anything for me. The shiny gold is pretty brash. It is just ugly when you compare it to other chocolate bars on the market.

                          The edeeming features of the Twix is that by being largely biscuit based it offers something different to the confectionary market, and it coming in two seperate fingers is a nice touch. Sadly they still taste awful!

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                          • Think Tank - Blur / Music Album / 11 Readings / 10 Ratings
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                            29.11.2008 01:19
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                            This album is let down by some truly poor tracks.

                            This album has its moments. The track opener, 'Ambulance' is superb, the drumming, bass line and guitar all create a beautiful sound which is only enhanced by Damon's stunning delievery of the lyrics 'cos I love you' The album continues its strong start with the fantastic 'Out of Time' which features great lyrics and a great guitar riff. The next track, 'Crazy Beat' is one of the many dirges this album offers, I get the impression that if an unknown band recorded this song and sent it to a record company as a demo, it would be thrown in the bin, so how this song was released as a single totally fails me! 'Good Song' lives up to its name, just about. It has a pleasant enough riff, and good vocal delivery, it is a good song, not a great song. 'One The Way to The Club' is a song worth little mention, it chugs along nicely, with a brilliant bass line from Alex, I can't help but feel the vocal performance was slightly rushed. The next track 'Brothers and Sisters' is just awful. probably the worst song Blur have ever written, just awful, it really drags the album down in my opinion. 'Caravan' is one of those songs which just bumbles around in the background, if you are doing something else whilst listening to the album, the liklihood is that you won't be able to recall listening to it. I think that is a good quality! Following on, 'We've Got A File On You' will wake you up. Weighing in at just over a minute long, its punky powerchords succeeds where 'Crazy Beat' failed. 'Moroccan People's Revolutionary Bowls Club' follows, an is another mildly annoying song, in the vein of 'Brothers and Sisters.' 'Sweet Song' is a lovely little song, 'Jets' doesn't really offer enough variation to justify being 6 minutes long, and the brass section is just awful. 'Gene By Gene' kicks off with what sounds like someone jumping on a mattress, but apart from that, I quickly lost interest in the song, and found the guitar riff rather dull. The album's closer, 'Battery In Your Leg' is the only song with input from Graham Coxon. It features a guitar riff similar to the one in 'Music Is My Radar' and contains some great, but simple piano chords. A really beautiful song.

                            In summary, if you could remove 'Jets' 'Brothers and Sisters' and 'Crazy Beat' and replace them with more songs like 'Out of Time' and 'Battery In your Leg' then Blur might have had a Brit Best Album Award Winner on their hands. They didn't, and so what they have is an average album.

                            Oh and in case you didn't know, there is a hidden track 'Me White Noise' which can be found by rewinding from the beginning of 'Ambulance.' It features Phil Daniels on vocals. Its interesting to say the least!

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                            • More +
                              29.11.2008 00:05
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                              The best cricket game available, on the basis there are no others available!

                              This game offers a few new features on its predecessor, for example, there is far more hidden trophies to unlock, and the fielding control has been greatly improved, meaning that it is now possible to run players out. Sadly, this game is not an unmitagated success. After half an hour of game play, chances are you would have heard the extent of the commentary vocab. Indeed, so often do you hear the words 'their in disarray' or 'theres been a mix up' you find that these terms enter your everyday usage down the pub! Some of the commentary has even been lifted from the old game, so chances are, you would have heard most of the commentary lines before you even break open the cellophane. Very disappointing.

                              Another issue is the fact that the wicketkeeper seems to whip the bails off the stumps with every run, even if the batsmen has been in his crease long enough to change his box. It gets incredibly annoying, a bit like watching Ian Healy play again!

                              Another gripe is that the game is just too easy. I am certain that the test level difficulty setting is alot easier than it was on the previous game....I even managed to score 650 not out with Andrew Strauss! Also, whilst you can play test leagues and exhibition matches, there is no option to set up a test series! Shocking!

                              On the plus side, the game offers you the chance to run players out, and includes a comprehensive selection of one day competitions, including the world cup. If you enjoy cricket games, then you will enjoy this, albeit with a slight hint of disappointment that this game could be so much better.

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