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Eminem - 2010
The first thing that struck me about this new album from the great white hope (in rap terms at least) is that there are no 'skits', hurrah, about time he grew up a bit and left the skits behind. They were fine on his earliest albums, but to be honest, have grown somewhat tiresome.
The 2nd thing that struck me is there are 16 tracks on this album, good value if you buy the whole album from iTunes at £7.99 (better than .99p per track anyways).
Of course, it is only good value if all the tracks, or at least the majority are worthy of buying. Judging by track one, 'Cold Wind Blows', this may not be the case; it aint good folks, it is still Em' trying to be 20 and angry, threatening to 'hang up the mic and telling us all how bad it all is....well, ya know what Em', you are rich and famous, give up this stuff and move on a bit!!
I'm not going to review every track here in detail here, simply reference them and highlight some of the better ones, and that does not include track 2 'Talkin' 2 Myself'. The truth is that by the end of track 2 I thought to myself 'déjà vu, heard it all before, even some of the same phrases' and ended up wondering if I should bother with all the tracks at all. Nonetheless I did persevere and track 3 is marginally better, at least it is more lyrical and melodic, but it still aint no winner!
I liked early Eminem, full of anger, full of doubt, arrogant and vulnerable in equal measures, misogynistic and homophobic trying desperately to be black, in short, f****d up, but that was a long time ago, before all his threats and insinuations to quit and his tiresome, 'no one understands poor little rich me' rants.
Track 5 'Won't Back Down' features Pink, and here we actually start to see a spark of something that really works for Eminem. Firstly we have a collaboration with a female singer as we do later with Rihanna; We have Eminem rapping with a 'metal' backing. Remember what a classic 'Mosh' was? I like this, I like the rawness, I like the urgency, I like the minor chords in the backing track that give it a sinister feel, I like Pink giving a nice edginess to the track, bit like a dark carnival (no reference to ICP intended).
Unfortunately track 6 (W.T.P) is just disjointed and really does nothing for me, track 7 is okay, nothing more, nothing less, another solemn rap about hard done by he is and how he hates to see his daughter seeing him like this...yawn.
Track 8 'Not Afraid' is one of the chart hits from this album and in truth it deserved to be. His rapping is crisp and understandable and it absolutely hits the rhythm word for note, very nice. I like the chorus that weaves in and out of the rapping. He is back to being what we expect of him, similar enough to all his other stuff to be instantly recognisable, yet different enough to make it stand out as a memorable track.
Track 9, 'Seduction' starts quite strongly it is Em at his arrogant best and 'dissing' everyone whilst bigging himself up. Quite interesting use of sexual imagery and lyrics to slag off his competition, one line for instance '7 CD changer in you're her car and I'm in every slot'. He carries on the sexual theme, easily mixing it with violent images, OMG don't let Germaine Greer hear this. This is a good song in it's originality, good.
Track 10, just boring, sorry Em'.
Track 11. 'Cinderella Man' The drum beat in the background sounds like 'We will rock you' Queen....that is the only interesting thing about this repetitive 'I was down but now I'm back' bore!
Track 12. '25 - Life'. I have no idea what the hell this song is trying to do, it's not a song, it's not a rap, it has no real start, no real ending...yuk.
Track 13, 'So Bad' is quite fun, very Dre influenced and gets back to earlier times when he raps about his family, his upbringing, his influences. Great bassline cutting through it all, nice key changes and little interjections of different instruments. I like this song a lot, a fair bit of self depreciation and comedic referencing. Love all the Slim Shady stuff he includes here.
By the time I got to 'Almost Famous', track 14, my hopes were raised that the last few tracks would make the album worthy of his previous releases. So when the first 20 seconds of the track started with just 'noise' I was somewhat disappointed; luckily by the time Em' starts, my attention had been held by the female vocal that led into Em'. Not bad at all, quite dark backing again, this does work and by now I was really looking forward to the next track, one I had heard many times and is without doubt the best track on the album.
'Love the way you lie' (Track 14). An incredibly powerful track for so many reasons. Lyrically this is Eminem at his very best, lines like 'I apologise even though I know it's lies', are very poignant. The fact that Rihanna is collaborating on a song about domestic violence makes it powerful. Her vocals, in their soulful clarity against Eminem's raw anger as he spits this rap are a fabulously delicious mix. I know I am not reviewing the music video here but you really do have to watch it, excellent and involving. Top song, destined to be as iconic to Eminem as 'Stan' was.
Track 15 'You're never over' is never going to be able to follow the last track, but if I'm being truthful, it wouldn't follow much. Confusing use of instrumentation that sounds like the sound system is mucked up and his lyrics are very passé.
The final track is titled 'untitled', clever so and so. The fairground style backing track works quite well and his rap is very much influenced by nursery rhymes; he has done this before (Mocking bird) and it works. It builds and builds until I am absolutely enthralled; nice finish Mr. Mathers, very showman like.
Not by any measure his best album. It lacks originality, and yet there are a couple of tracks that really are exceptional and for that it is worth buying. I suspect some of the weaker tracks will grow on me too. Worthy of £7.99? Just about!
Karcher K 2.65m
Mrs H works in wondrous ways; she knows just what will make me happy, and manages somehow to get her own way whilst thinking I am oblivious to her plans. She came home telling "I've bought you a present" and proudly showed me this pressure washer. Of course, after a customary glance at the manual I was in the garden attaching the hose and away I went. Oops, lets start at the beginning.
~~~What is it?~~~
As it states in the title, it is a pressure washer, not just any washer, but a Karcher washer. It cost a paltry £99 from B&Q, reduced from £159 I'm told, so an absolute bargain according to Mrs H. It is basically a bright yellow plastic machine, quite light, on wheels, with a hose attachment and a plug on a cord. It has a place to put detergent tabs too.
It comes with a hose and adapter, of course, and a variety of attachments:
*A circular patio/pavement cleaner, not as good as I thought it would be, mind you, our patio back and front is filthy so it was never going to make a spectacular difference.
*A Washing Brush for the car....haven't tried it, I like to wash the car by hand.
*Some detergent tabs....don't bother.
*A cleaning lance, very good, does the trick well, cleans reasonably well, especially windows and doors.
*A super high power cleaning lance....I'll come on to this later.
~~~Ease of use and effectiveness~~~
Really, this could not be much easier. Plug it in, attach the hose, turn the water on, turn the machine on (just one switch), allow pressure to build and away we go.
Now, I must tell you about the high power cleaning lance. I started on the back flagging stones, which were, I thought grey, dirty and grey. From the first spray I was hooked.
The powerful jet of water cut straight through the years of accumulated muck and I saw....yellow, and cream, and grey, and white. Our flags are Yorkshire stone and I had forgotten.
At this point, in my amazement, I 'wrote' with the power hose, on the dirty patioo, "I Love Mrs H" and called her to the upstairs window to look down on it...brownie points indeed.
After the flags I went onto the back block paving, again, amazing results; what were dingy, off red bricks, turned out to have a pattern, some were pink, some red, some grey.
From the block paving I went onto the side path, same results.
Three hours later, with vibration white finger I returned to the house, a conquering hero, a valiant cleaner, a man of pride. I also returned covered from head to foot in muck. Block paving cracks throw up all the dirt everywhere.
Later that day....oh no, I couldn't let it lie, the alloy wheels came off the cars and got a good blasting, fantastic.
Unfortunately, the power was a little much on the conservatory and I accidentally cracked a brick...or two.
This is a fabulous piece of kit, and the 'K' series is apparently entry level. I have used the detergent facility and to be honest it does not make that much difference, and is a little cumbersome to load up and check constantly. The water function alone is sufficient.
I have found that after the initial blast with the power hose, the circular paving cleaner does the trick nicely in keeping things clean and tidy every couple of months and has a lot less vibration on the hand.
The big question is, is it worth around £100?
Okay, my head says it is a tad expensive, but having the patio, flags, block paving all professionally cleaned would be more expensive. My heart says, hell yeah! This is absolutely fabulous, I can play, I mean clean, for hours, everyone is happy and I can use it again and again. It is sturdy and looks like it will stay the course.
I thoroughly recommend that any wife out there, boyfriend, husband, civil partner, whatever buy one for your partner if she/he is a big kid and moans about the state of the flags/paving/patio, whatever. Only dow point, too many attachements that will rarely get used.
For the tech heads I have attached the details straight from the Karcher site, below:
20 - max. 110/2 - max. 11
Water flow rate (l/h) max. 360
Max. water feed temperature (°C) (Not sure why this is there as I only use clod water from the outside tap and it is blank on web page)
Connected load (dunno what this is either)
Weight without access. (kg) 4.95
Dimensions (L x W x H) (mm) 301 x 365 x 553
Detergent tank (Yep, there is one)
Okay, we have a 'best of' album, but not just 12 songs, 15, or even 20, but a staggering 49 songs at a paltry iTunes price of £11.99. You can even get this for under a tenner on some websites. Though the various websites disagree on a release date for this set of CD's (if bought as a box set), I have plumped for 2005 as this is the release date that iTunes give.
Let's start with that price. How iTunes can justify 99p per track, or a staggering £48.51 when these tunes are bought individually I will never know. Granted, there are some tracks that I would not call 'best of' but at 24p per track, when bought together, why wouldn't you??
Of course I am not going to review every track, Plipplop would have a coronary and most sensible readers would switch off before I got half way through, though to be honest I would only want to review about half anyway, plenty of fillers here. Why oh why has this not been reviewed before on Dooyoo?
For those that don't know, The Jam were: Paul Weller, Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler and were active from 1977 (In the City) until their last two aptly titled singles in 1982; 'The bitterest pill' and 'Beat Surrender'. In that short 5 years (though they played before then and Foxton and Buckler have played since, they had no less than 19 chart singles and released 8 or 9 albums (including live ones). They ranged from punk & Mod influenced early songs such as 'In the City', and 'Strange Town', right through to much more lyrical and philosophical numbers such as 'Butterfly collector' and 'Saturdays kids'.
This collection sees the whole of their development through anger to musings to sheer readiness to quit. Personally I loved their 'journey'.
Their early numbers were raw and three chord punk without a doubt. 'Strange Town' started to show the World that we had a bit of master lyricist in Mr Weller and along with the single shortly before that 'Down in the Tube Station at Midnight' we saw that spark of originality in music that make the band still well listened to today. Who can forget the drum beat on 'Tube Station' that was so in time with the sound of the tube train, fantastic. As for the lyrics:
"The last thing that I saw, as I lay there on the floor was, 'Jesus saves' painted by some atheist nutter"...sublime.
'That's Entertainment' for me was probably The Jam's masterpiece, the lyrics like an Alan Bennet play, working class through and through with an affinity that so many could align to.
'Start' was a strange song at the time that marked a real departure in style and was quirky enough to split many fans at the time, great to hear it here along with a pretty snappy version of 'I got you, (I feel good'), clever and brave.
Didn't I say I would not review them all? Well I'm not really, just some highlights, the lowlights come next. The point is, for me, that these songs all sound pretty fresh still.
I love the version of 'Smithers-Jones' in this collection. It is very contextual, it was yuppie time, traditional working men were going, money was above loyalty and this song was so spot on with this, looking back it was not only sadly prophetic, but like a snapshot of history. The instrumental backing on this version is superb.
Okay, the lowlights: 'Pretty Green', limp and almost a parody, 'Tales from the Riverbank', just sad and too 'cockney, cheeky chappie for me. 'Carnation' and 'Ghosts', why?, just awful.
Nope, sorry I cannot leave this review on that note. I will leave you with the majestic 'Going underground'.....and the feet all pound for tomorrow........should you buy this collection? Absolutely....
I overheard two lads recently 15 or 16 in the place where I work (Youth Development and Support Service) saying words to the effect that Green Day were alright, but you have to love The Jam, coz' 'They did it first'...they were going on to talk about getting some Jam on vinyl.....oh happy days!
Track List DISC 1
* In The City
* Away From The Numbers
* The Modern World
* David Watts
* Down In The Tube Station At Midnight
* Its Too Bad
* To Be Someone
* Mr. Clean
* English Rose
* The Butterfly Collector
* The Eton Rifles
* Private Hell
* Thick As Thieves
* Smithers-Jones [orchestral version]
* Saturdays Kids
* Going Underground
* Liza Radley
* Pretty Green
* Boy About Town
* Thats Entertainment
* Tales From The Riverbank
* Town Called Malice
* Beat Surrender
Track List DISC 2
* The Dreams Of Children
* News Of The World
* Strange Town
* When Youre Young
* Funeral Pyre
* Absolute Beginners
* Move On Up
* Pop Art Poem
* A Solid Bond In Your Heart
* No One In The World
* And Your Bird Can Sing
* Burning Sky
* Get Yourself Together
* The Great Depression
* Stoned Out Of My Mind
* Pity Poor Alfie/Fever
* But Im Different Now
* I Got You
* Hey Mister
* Weve Only Started
* So Sad About Us
Yonex Armortec 600
Few would argue that Yonex are the leading brand name when it comes to badminton in terms of equipment, clothing and even sponsorship and tournaments.
Yonex have a whole range of racquets (not rackets) from a £10 basic model, which is actually quite adequate for a beginner; made with a steel frame.
Their current range consists of; six racquets in the basic range, seven racquets in the Armortec range, twelve racquets in the Nanospeed range and seven racquets in the ArcSaber range.
Now admittedly, having a choice of 32 racquets might leave the non badminton addict thinking....why? and how on Earth do you choose the right racquet? Okay...very short lesson coming up....believe me, I could write thousands of words on this topic alone, before I even start the specific racquet review.
Racquets are made of different materials; steel, aluminium, graphite, carbon fibre and so on, these affect the weight and strength of the racquets, as well as their flexibility and two key things that are 'hold' and 'repulsion', terms associated with the level of energy stored and 'spring' if you like...confused yet?
In addition different designs of racquet affect the flow through the air, different string tensions affect the type of power needed for certain shots and finally the point of balance from being 'head heavy' (good for smashes) to being 'head light' (good for control). These attributes are all to be taken into consideration when making an investment in a decent racquet.....and I won't even start on grip type, colour and so on.
I had used a Nanospeed racquet for a while which I found a little too 'bouncy' and a lot too 'light' in use for my liking. I then bought an Armortec 250 (not made any more) which was much too 'head heavy' though I still use it in some matches when I know the opponents are less likely to be good smash returners.
At Christmas (or thereabouts) I went looking for a new racquet and tried out the Armortec 600. It felt nice and light to hold and had a slight 'head heavy' feel but not so much that it gravitates to smashes all the time.
In fact it is the most balanced, both in terms of head weight and in terms of repulsion versus hold in the Armortec range. It also has the most flexible shaft which for me means that I can play the widest variety of shots without relying to heavily on either smashes, clears or net shots.
I will not go into endless technical details as they are easy to find on the Yonex website and will bore most readers. I will say that the overall weight is very light, around 80-83 gms (one of the lightest racquets in the entire Yonex range) though feels lighter due to the good balance. To give you some idea, 28gms is an ounce, so it is around three ounces in all, very light. It is made of Ultra H.M. Graphite and has various other trademarked compounds and design properties including a built in 'T Joint' which attaches the head to the shaft for greater strength.
I know, I know, I am starting to sound very geeky.....did you know that badminton (doubles) is the fastest court sport in the World and that smashes can exceed 400kph (not my ones though).
****So, how does the racquet play?
OMG it is gorgeous, it is light and responsive, it makes the sweetest 'swish' sound on a clear or smash and is no problem to use in an extended clear or lunge as there is no weight to it at all. The strings are tight enough so that there is no effort needed at all on a smash return or dead drop net shot. The grip is thin enough to enable, even with a good quality synthetic grip, all the grips from bevel to backhand.
It is truly an all round racquet and there are no shots that seem difficult or that need a different racquet. Not only that, in white and light blue, it is a thing of beauty. A racquet for good club players and even, I would argue county players (not that I'll ever be that good). A good racquet will improve your game, but at an RRP of £110, you had better be into badders to get your monies worth. In truth, this can be picked up now for around £70 - £80 as it is being phased out in favour of the Armortec Tour. I like this racquet so much I have just bought another two (so I know have three), which should last a good few years. Mind you, I do play 5 times per week.
Some of you will be aware that I play saxophone. I am often asked to play at friends parties, I also play at small gigs, either with other musicians, or on my own, using backing tracks from CD's or iPod.
Before buying this, what is, essentially a mini amplifier I did a fair bit of internet research and whilst this seemed the way to go, I insisted on listening to it in Maplins before I buying, I suggest you do the same.
? What is it ?
As said it is essentially a mini amplifier, weighing in at around 10kg (according to my scales), it is 45.7 cm X 35.6 cm X 45.7 cm so fits well into a sturdy canvas shopping bag.
It can be used with a mains power cord (supplied) or, after charging (6-8 hours first time, much less after that) it can be used for between 8 and 12 hours dependent on how loud you have it (I have only used it for 4 at a time) to knock out a good 16w of sound.
There are 3 green illuminated lights on the back as well as a red light which indicates how much battery life is left, and according to the instruction booklet, the battery should be run down to 20% at least once a month before recharging, bit like a mobile phone, to prolong battery life.
***Versatility and ease of use***
Versatility really is the big selling point of this product, from its portability, to its ability to be used in a multitude of ways.
The Tailgater comes with a microphone, I am not a singer but have used it to speak at a conference, and an iPod docking station, which charges the iPod as it plays (don't forget the charging switch on the back). It also has and instrument input point, as well as points to attach this to other speakers or Tailgaters (Link Input). So in theory you could play a backing track, with an instrument whilst singing at the same time! Oh, you can also connect headphones and or another audio device such as CD player (cables not included.
There is a master volume control as well as a specific iPod volume control. This is quite handy as it takes a little experimentation to get the optimum sound. An added bonus is that the iPod EQ (graphic Equaliser) can be used to be more specific with sound.
I should add that the instruction booklet is simple and quick to read and the set up of the tailgater is as simple as plugging it in and away you go. There really is nothing at all complicated about using this piece of kit, which is a joy for anyone that has used temperamental amp's before.
***The Sound quality***
Initially I was not that impressed as it seemed a bit 'tinny' and 'big' if that makes sense. I never bought it to replace my sound system however so figured that the quality was plenty good enough for use with backing tracks.
However I got a pleasant surprise after using it a few times when the sound seemed to get better and better. Apparently this is quite normal as there is a 'break-in' period. It now sounds remarkably crisp and 'steady'. To be honest it is better with instrumental sounds than vocal which is great for the purposes I bought it. There is no background 'hum' which sometimes comes with cheap amps.
This will never reach the quality of an expensive sound system, especially at full volume, but at mid volume or lower it is perfectly adequate for taking to the beach, picnics, BBQ's etc. In truth, I am being picky, I have a Bose system indoors and it does not fall far short of that.
***Looks and cost***
I love this, it is chunky, black, nice chrome corner guards and the controls look and feel very sturdy and professional. It certainly looks more expensive than it is. I bought it for £145 from Maplins, though it can be bought on Amazon for £120 or thereabouts. There is a 12 month warranty as standard, though I get the feeling from its 'sturdiness' it will last a lot longer.
This really does bridge the gap between personal and/or home sound systems and professional amplifiers. It is relatively cheap, decent sound quality, portable and very versatile. I have a fair few friends who busk for a living and this is quickly becoming their choice of accessory.
I have used this at a BBQ, at a party and in a bar to play along to, as well as using the microphone and tailgater at a conference.
It is not something that you are likely to take on a plane to distant shores but is an absolute essential for car holidays in my opinion, here or in Europe as there is the ability to change (on the back) the mains power input from 220 -240 volts to 100 - 120 volts.
Gets my vote, absolute winner.
Back in Memphis
Elvis Presley - 1970
Recently, when reviewing albums I have been 'highlighting tracks'. This has been for two reasons; firstly, most of the albums tend to have at least 12 tracks or more and I do not want to do an in depth review of each track that means my review is a dissertation, and secondly, because I have not found much ne (or old) music worthy of in depth reviews. This is different.
Elvis of course needs little introduction, this album does. Even the album title starts to tell the story. A kind of homecoming; where he feels safe to sing what he wants, how he wants.
Think Elvis comeback, think Vietnam, think late 60's early 70's. Elvis needed to do little in 1970 to 'prove' himself, he did not need money, he was a hit on the Vegas circuit and yet he released this album, which, truth be known, did not do that well.
This album was, and is however, in my opinion one of his most powerful, and this from a listener that is not a huge Elvis fan. Powerful; not in the sense that the songs are well known. Powerful in the sense that it seems to hint at a singer that was in his prime, able to go with the zeitgeist and experiment, leaving his rock n roll safety net behind.
1. Inherit the Wind:
Very soulful, in fact I believe that this has been sung by Bobby Womack. A big ballad that opens the album with a clear flag to the listener that this is very much an album about Elvis' vocals. That and the fact that this song feels like he believes it when he sings it. Good opener, worthy 7/10.
2. This is the Story:
OMG. We get another soulful rendition, this time full of 'flats' which make this sound like a very minor, almost sinister key. A big vocal again and we get the sense that he is visiting his gospel roots whilst paying homage to both country (twanging guitar riffs) and soul, with nice big, building phrases. 7/10 again.
3. Stranger in my home town:
Much more up tempo soul. Great, funky, long intro. We certainly also see in this track some early Elvis vocals, reminiscent of Delta blues and early rock n roll, but the funk influence from 70's black music is pretty much in your face the whole way through. This is a stage song and listening to it one cannot help but imagine Elvis in black leather giving it some...or is that just me? 8/10.
4. A Little bit of Green:
Interesting opening, very 'easy listening'. In truth, the vocal starts that way too. Bit rumba, bit Latin, bit cheesy really. Could see Tom Jones singing this. 6/10.
5. And the grass wont pay no mind:
This is a Neil Diamond composed piece and it is quite easy to tell from the phrasing. Not the best song, but very interesting and one cannot help but listen to it intensely as somehow it drags you in. 5/10.
6. Do you know who I am:
Now this is interesting. Fancy starting a song with such a strap line. It is not a journey into ego, far from it. It is a tender insight into his feelings of loneliness and angst. As angst ridden ballads it just about peeps over the cheesy wall and gets into that 'classic' arena. There is is a wonderful key change half way through where he also raises his vocals and we really, really feel that he is singing from his heart. Brilliantly stirring, wonderfully honest and almost prophetically tragic. 10/10.
7. From a Jack to a King:
Get in, early Elvis style; great track, think Heartbreak Hotel or songs like that, good strong 4/4 beat, deep vocals and hip thrusting no doubt, classic Elvis. 8/10.
8. The Fair is moving on:
Slightly strange whispering vocal start, telling a story, painting a picture in an almost nursery rhyme style. I had to listen to this 2 or 3 times to decide if I liked it or not. You know what? I'm still not sure. Without the vocal it sounds like 'Old Shep', but it isn't. I'll give it 7/10 because I am really not sure, but it is kinda catchy as big, patriotic type ballads are.
9. You'll think of me:
Another song that is very definitely of it's time. It is Elvis's mood and influenced by soulful guitar work and gospel backing. Never heard of this song before this album and now I find that after a couple of listens it is in my head. Not the best but none the less one of those songs that I could imagine a modern R & B singer singing with a less 'rocky' backing and a bit more soul. Very nice, 8/10.
10. Without Love (there is nothing)
This song starts really quite controlled from Elvis, with a nice blues guitar riff going on in the background. It feels like an epitaph song. Very powerful and from a quiet start we hear him launch, without much build up into a crescendo of voice, then, he just drops it down again. His vocal is pretty much at it's deepest here. What I really like about this song is that as a music fan I can see where the roots of Celtic, blues, soul, rock and gospel all merge and I love that. I love the fact that this man can make a song come alive. 10/10.
This is a stirring album, which I doubt many non Elvis fans will have heard of. It is a late night or Sunday afternoon listen. For £7 from iTunes you get to hear a side of Elvis rarely heard. Sincerity, singing for the vocals not for the popular audience and feeling.
I make no bones about putting myself out there and saying that I love this album. I love Rap, punk, and all sorts of genres I am a music fan first and foremost and this is mighty music, by a mighty man, at his peak. If you think you know Elvis, think again after listening to this.
The Movie Songbook
Sharleen Spiteri - 2010
Having recently reviewed Spiteri's album Melody, I was not expecting too much from this latest release. I have to say, I am extremely disappointed about the route she is now taking with her music. I used to think she was super cool and super sexy, now I feel she is fast reaching her sell by date. No matter, open minded I began to listen.
Well, apparently she chose the songs for the album herself.
Why would anyone choose Xanadu? I never liked the original and her screechy, teenage imitation vocal her is truly awful. I should have stopped there, really I should, this was a portent of things to come.
As for the next song, no one, absolutely no one should ever try and imitate this disco classic, again, awful.
God Bless the Child is one of my all time favourite songs and when Billie Holliday sang it hairs stood on the end of my hairs, beautiful, haunting, unforgettable, so it was with some trepidation that I dared to play Spiteri. It isn't bad per se, and the piano playing is quite fabulous, but she aint Holliday. She tries, I'll give her that, but it is more lounge than angst, okay, but no cigar, though if she smoked one maybe her voice would have a bit more of Holliday's gravel!!
I will not review every song, because to be honest, they are not worth it for the main part.
'What's new Pussycat actually made me feel physically sick, it is probably worse than many karaoke renditions on a Saturday night in Barnsley, what has possessed this woman?
The album fishes with a bizarre, upbeat version of 'Take my Breath Away' and leaves me absolutely cursing the fact that I listened to this garbage, luckily I (legally) did not have to pay for any of it, because if I had I might be pursuing legal avenues for my money back.
When you listen to 'I don't want a lover' now (Texas) it is hard to imagine the same woman singing this album. I actually saw her perform at Gay Pride back in the late 90's and thought she was a goddess, I now think she is very, very sad.
What she has done with this album is essentially try and mimic the voice and style of the original artistes whilst trying (in vain) to bring the songs up to date a bit. I don't even know what her real voice sounds like after this.
There are few albums, even by singers or artistes I dislike that I have been left so disappointed by after a listen, this is not good, do not waste your money folks. There are no saving graces. Okay, maybe one, the musicians are competent!
Full Track Listing:
2. If I Can't Have You
3. God Bless the Child
4. Between the Bars
5. The Sound of Silence
6. What's New Pussycat?
7. The Windmills of Your Mind
8. Take Me with You)
9. Cat People (Putting Out Fire)
10. Many Rivers to Cross
11. Oh, Pretty Woman)
12. This One's from the Heart
13. Take My Breath Away
PS: Why do I have to give any stars at all DooYoo?
Melody - Sharleen Spiteri
My first review for a while, it just had to be music!
So, Sharleen Spiteri, Glaswegian rock chick, ex Texas, singing 60's covers, and some originals that sound like 60's covers; it has disaster written all over it. However, on it's release it stayed in the UK top 10 for 5 weeks, though admittedly, getting to a high spot of number 3 does not take too much these days; a fan base of Facebook lesbians, which she has probably boosted the chart placing substantially.
I am going to start by saying that 'All the Times I Cried' absolutely blew me away. It is nothing short of fantastic. Brilliantly clear and sexy vocals, a kind of cross between Marianne Faithfull and Amy Winehouse, a very, very catchy backing instrumental and a booming baritone sax', a la Ms Winehouse. How this never made the charts (highly) as a single I just do not know.
Unfortunately this song is very much a high point, and along with 'I wonder' stands as the only worthwhile track(s) to download.
Okay, maybe I am being a bit harsh. This is a major departure for Ms Spiteri and quite brave, so in the words of Chris Moyle when refusing to slag off an artist 'You have to respect her for what she is doing'. Actually, I really do, and there are moments in the album when you forget that she used to front Texas and feel that she is another in a zeitgeist line that has produced Duffy, Winehouse, Adele etc. Only she isn't. She has been around the music scene, having considerable success for years, so I am not quite sure why now, why this.
If you are a Duffy fan, or an early Motown fan, this album might, just might appeal. However, it lacks the raw energy of early Motown and is too 'polished'. It also lacks the quirkiness and individuality of Duffy. It is little wonder that it is selling as a complete album on iTunes for under a fiver. Yet strangely each individual track is selling for 99p.
My advice, buy track 2 and be happy with that. There is some irony in the title of track 8, Sorry Sharleen, go back to being rock chick.
Full Track Listing:
1. It Was You
2. All the Times I Cried
3. Stop, I Don't Love You Anymore
5. I Wonder
6. I'm Going to Haunt You
7. Don't Keep Me Waiting
8. You Let Me Down
9. Where Did It Go Wrong"
10. Day Tripping
I do not often write reviews like this but as my dad has been really ill recently I have been thinking about him a lot.
He is 79 years old, has diabetes, failing kidneys and a failing heart, in fact he has now had 8 heart attacks and triple bypass surgery. He was in hospital from mid December until last week and has now been sent home to either get strong enough for another operation, or to live out what time he has left, comfortably at home. He has also gone quite deaf in the last few weeks and refuses to wear a hearing aid so we have to comically shout at him, which is quite hilarious and feels like I am in a sitcom!
My mum and dad split when I was only 7 years old, it was traumatic and as a young boy I was asked to choose who I lived with, I chose my mum but maintained a relationship (of sorts) with my dad which has always been 'okay' but not close, he is not an emotionally demonstrative man. Though in the last few years our joint love of jazz music has brought us a lot closer and when I played 'Summertime' to him last year on my saxophone, I saw a tear in his eye for the first time in my life, and I am 47 years old.
He was in the Royal Navy when my mum and he met, submarines, he als played drums part time, including some quite prestiguous 'gig' around London.
He left the Royal Navy and was in the Merchant Navy for a few years, leaving to be a security guard on the Victoria and Albert docks in London, when it was a busy port. Some of my earliest memories of him were him teaching me to recognise the funnel markings of various shipping lines, mainly so we would know what ships were in dock and could scrounge goods, we never went short of bananas as kids.
He then became an ambulanceman, so for most of his working life he was in uniform, and when, at 53 he had his first major illness, followed by a heart attack, he retired.
He was a big drinker, a big smoker and a big scrapper, never really big on being a family man. My brother and sister never kept in touch with him after his divorce from my mum, but something kept me in touch, I suppose I craved that father/son relationship, though in truth we have never had the sort of realtionship that my sons and I have.
He has never hugged me, told me he loved me or told me he is proud of me, though did say a few years ago, "Youv'e done alright for yourself Paul".
His wife of 35 years and him live a pretty ordinary life in London's East End and he keeps busy in his small garden shed and they both seem quite content, that in turn makes me happy.
I know he won't be around for that much longer and I am surprised at how sad that makes me feel, especially in light of the fact that we only see each other half a dozen times a year and are 200 miles apart.
I suppose I see more of him in me as I get older and that's not so bad, but I could never settle, like he has, for a garden shed. He seemed to have given up on any more after his first bout of illnesses and this more than anything esle makes me sad. I am growing old disgracefully, wringing every bit out of life that I can, this is a generational difference in outlook of that I'm sure.
15 years ago, I was summonsed to the hospital to say goodbye to him, I did, and told him that I loved him, not that he was aware. he pulled through. When he went into hospital in December, we never expected him to come out, he did. he is a tough old bugger and if I have that from him, good enough.
Love you dad.
Michael Buble (2009)
Now I like jazz, I like swing, I like the old crooners and Mr Buble is a bit of a modern day incarnation of them all. Coupled with the fact I liked his 'Call me Irresponsible' album, and the fact I got lots of iTunes vouchers for crimbo, I decided to download Mr Buble's latest in it's entirety.
Mikey boy sets the tone of this album with the opener, a big band, full on version of the old classic 'cry me a river'. In truth I don't much care for this version, which has a touch of the James Bond theme to it. I didn't much like Justin Trouser snake's version either. To me this should be angst ridden, forced, slow, bare, this aint.
We go on to a couple of other 'standards'. 'All of me', which retains some of the Sintraesque charm, but is a little smooth for me. 'Georgia on my mind', his next offering is much truer to the original though we have this 'Bond' like intro again, why? In fact, his voice is ultra mellow on this track and it really is quite good, a definite keeper on the iPod, nice pianist too.
After these standards he goes on to the title track which is much more contemporary, reminds me a lot of Jason Mraz, that is actually quite a complement as he has gone away from his comfort zone with song and it really sets his vocal range to work, very nice, maybe the best song on the album, as it should be for a title track.
Track 5 is perhaps the most popular track off the album and is, I believe actually in the charts. Along with a 'pop' video in the supermarket he is clearly trying to 'reach out' to a wider audience. It is a 'nice song', a 'nice' video, I hate it.
We then get a departure to a 50's do wop style song mixed with jazz for track 6, oh gosh no, please, what is happening here, it's all going a bit wrong. Can he redeem himself with track 7? No, a Christmas song that is so schmaltzy I nearly vomited.
Track 8 is back to probably what he does/did best, a big band swing number, though it does have more than a hint of rock n roll about it, well it would as the original was much more rock n roll and much less swing. I don't like this either, oh dear It is not going well.
Then he pulls it back by singing a standard again, great vocal, great timing, no Dinah Washington though, better than average, much better than last few songs.
Track 10 is another attempt at being 'popular', he duets here with Sharon Jones (The Dap Kings). In truth, she is a better vocalist than him, on this track at least, she certainly has more 'soul' than he does. I happen to like this tyrack quite a lot, there is a revival in the do wop kinda beat at the mo and this is on that button.
Track 11 starts like a gospel number, could easily be an Elvis intro, he then comes in with a nice soulful vocal, much higher than his normal vocal. This is a big number, a diva number, great song, great music and he pulls it off. Excellent.
Track 12. 'Stardust'. Not for me, a little too pretentious and Crosby like.
Tracks 13 and 14 are 'bonus' tracks, are they a bonus being here? Well, we get a fair dollop of Bossa Nova beat on track 13, so if you like your music smooth, to a Latin beat with a chest full of hair and medallions, this is for you, not for me.
'Some Kind of Wonderful' really isn't, it's some kind of okay, in that 60's do wop way again. The best bit about it is the backing provided by a baritone saxophone.
I think Buble has lost his way a bit with this album; he is neither the crooner he was on previous albums, nor the populist he is trying to be to fit into that niche currently occupied by people like Jason Mraz.
He needs to decide on 'a' direction for his next album, not a mish mash. He is talented, a great vocalist, get back to that MB.
1. Cry Me a River
2. All of Me
3. Georgia on My Mind
4. Crazy Love
5. Haven't Met You Yet
6. All I Do Is Dream of You
7. Hold On
8. Heartache Tonight
9. You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You
10. Baby (You've Got What It Takes)
11. At This Moment
13. Whatever It Takes
14. Some Kind of Wonderful
X Men Origins
Before I wrote this review, in fact, before I watched the film I was determined not to read any other reviews on the film....not least because on a couple of occasions lately I have watched films that have been 'recommended' only to find out they were really not all that.
So, having really enjoyed the X Men films, I sat down with my 15 year old lad and Mrs H to watch the film on Virgin Media.
Okay, we know Hugh Jackman is the star and wolverine is the focus, in fact, though there are, of course other characters/actor in the film, they are barely worth mentioning, though it was cool to see Will I Am in a big feature.
At nearly two hours the film seems to move along much quicker and really does have some quite dramatic moments in it that keep the viewer interested. In terms of plot, the title kind of gives it away, it is about how Wolverine became Wolverine, his origins, and no doubt it is the first of many big X Men spin off feature films.
Young James (Wolverine) and his brother (yep, he has a wolvey brother) Victor played by Live Schreiber start the film as children in the time of the American Civil war and therefore we know from the start of the film that they can regenerate, not get old or die...though one has to question how and why they stopped at the age that they did.
In essence, these two children have some special mutant powers and abilities which we see honed much later.
Anyways, we follow them through the ages to now where they have been working with the government in one of those top secret, black ops type groups, flying around the World doing the dirty on the baddies.
That is where I am going to leave the plot, because this is really where the plot real begins to unfold and we see how Wolverine combines his 'natural' abilities with technology, how he gets the name Wolverine and much more.
That being said, don't go to see the film expecting a cerebral plot, it aint hard to work out, and in truth, if you aint worked it out half way through you are a mutant yourself, of the dumb kind.
~~The good bits~~
Without a doubt the CGI and special effects rock, they make the film. We have explosions, body parts that mutate, chases, and a wonderful Victor running and jumping wolf like all over the film.
Victor makes a good foil for Wolverine and that for me makes the film quite fun, I won't say how, you'll have to watch.
The fact that it is X Men is good in itself.
~~Not so good~~
Ultra predictable is all I can say. The acting is quite poor in places, yep, Jackman does his broody bit well but after that he does not have much to offer, and Victor apart (in some bits) there is not another piece of acting worthy of mention.
This is not one of my longest reviews, because, in truth, there is not too much to say; see the title, you get the film. It is okay in an action packed, Hollywood sequel kind of way, but for me there is so much more that could have been done with the film.
It could have been darker, they could have explored the brother relationship more, they could have had a less predictable plot and ending.
It was/is a bit like a Chinese meal.....I was right looking forward to it, enjoyed most of it whilst it was there, even though I already knew what I was getting, and a few minutes afterwards I wondered why I had bothered, wanted more and wished it had been a bit different.
Let's hope the other 'Origins' films have a bit more to them.
I am a Spurs fan, I have been now for 41 years.
Let me explain. I was born in West Ham, went to a school in East Ham and got bombarded with West Ham songs, stories, players coming to local events, by, the time I was six I was fed up with them. Now Spurs had won the FA Cup the year before (1967) so I thought, they must be the team for me.
Over the years I have endured some serious heartache I can tell you, and since I have been supporting them we have never won the Premiership, or indeed the old first division. Our last title was in 1961.
We have won the league a total of 2 times and boy do I want to win the Premiership whilst I am still alive.
We have a fair old cup run however, having won the FA Cup some 8 times, last time being 1991, League Cup (or whatever it is called these days) 4 times, Charity Shield 7 times, UEFA Cup twice and the old Cup Winners Cup once.
Any Spurs fan has to admit however we do live in the past a bit and the glory days of White Hart Lane are often fantasised about at the beginning of each season, only to be dashed by christmas. As I write this, we suffered a shocking home loss to Wolves of all clubs, at our beloved home, and started the slide down the table from our previous dizzy heights of 3rd.
Yep, so far this has been our best seasons start for years, yep we have some real talent in the club now, yep we have a decent manager, so why, oh why do I sense deja vu and that inevitable end of season dissapointment coming.
In terms of our squad now there is no doubt there is talent in abundance; Luka Modric, Jermain Defoe, Robbie Keane, Dawson, Palacios, Lennon, match winners all, but when the going gets tough these days (and for many years) we seem to cave in.
We need to break into the top four to be considered a good club, a club that European and World stars will want to play for. We managed two 5th places under Martin Jol, then the mad directors got rid of him and we had a right mess under Juande Ramos....to te extent where we had, last season, 2 points from the first 8 games and were seriously looking at relegation.
Up pops Mr football eyes (one at home, one away) Redknapp and we all hailed the latest saviour of the club. We (well i did) rushed out and bought my latest shirt and predicted that this year, yes this season, 09/10, Spurs would break into the top four. My friends laughed, I took bets.....oh well, a long way to go i tell myself, anything could happen.
Our motto is (translated) 'To Dare is to Do', very similar to the SAS, yet SAS in our terms often means Sod All Saturday.
Our ground (hopefully soon to be rebuilt) reflects our ambitions, it has one of the smaller capacities, and compared to Man U, Arsenal (spit as I say it) and other 'big' clubs it is paltry.
We are amongst the top 20 richest clubs in the World believe it or not and Harry has been told he has to sell in teh transfer window to buy new players in....I have no idea who we will buy, but we could certainly do with a few defenders.
And still I support the Spurs, because next year, well next year will be different, we'll be up there from the start and finish in the top 4, actually if we finish in the top 6, as long as it is above Arsenal I would be happy.
To win the Premiership before I die, now that is a dream.
1 GK Heurelho Gomes ~ Decent enough Shot stopper, liable to serious lapses of concentration when hassled
2 DF Alan Hutton ~ No idea how good this big man is as he never plays and is fast becoming a new Darren Anderton (sick note)
3 DF Gareth Bale ~ Not fulfilled his early promise as an attacking wing back
5 MF David Bentley ~ Ego bigger than his talent, occasional flashes of brilliance
6 MF Tom Huddlestone ~ A serious contender for player of the year for Spurs in my opinion, just gets on with it, plays central defender if he has to, holding midfield, gragter, big lad, occasional goal and/or assist
7 MF Aaron Lennon ~ Incredibly talented, fast, dribbles past people like they were statues, but a bit predicatble in his movement and not always the best finishing passes...could get to be a top player though
8 MF Jermaine Jenas ~ Fast, decent passer, occasional goal, inconsistent
9 FW Roman Pavlyuchenko ~ Groaner, expensive, never lived up to his hype, can't cut it in the Premiership
10 FW Robbie Keane (team captain) ~ My favourite Spurs player, Irelands top goal scorer, had more clubs than hot dinners, great reader of the game
12 MF Wilson Palacios ~ Not a bad buy at all, tackles, passes, assists, job done
14 MF Luka Modric ~ Absolute class. With him playing at the beginning of the season we had a real playmaker forcing the team forward, since he has been out, we lack creativity, glad he is back
15 FW Peter Crouch ~ Cannot fault his goal scoring record at International level, not really done it for Spurs yet, could come good
16 DF Kyle Naughton ~ Meant to be special, so why aint he playing?
17 MF Giovani dos Santos ~ Hype and no substance
18 FW Jermain Defoe ~ Possibly te best finisher in thePremiership, currently one of top two scorers, 'nuff said
19 DF Sebastion Bassong ~ Another good buy, solid at the back, can move up
20 DF Michael Dawson ~ Inconsistent but when on his game, great defender
21 MF Niko Kranjcar ~ great passer, grabs the odd goal too, good free kick man
22 DF Vedran Corluka ~ Solid
26 DF Ledley King (club captain) ~ One of the best central defenders in teh country, if only he had kness that worked for a run of more than two games
32 DF Benoit Assou-Ekotto ~ Okay, nothing more, nothing less
39 DF Jonathan Woodgate ~ Another injury prone defender.
Two central defenders, under 28, who are injury free and proven.
A natural left midfielder who can step in for Kranjcar if needed
A creative midfielder who can tackle to back up Modric
Then we might get somewhere.
Florence & The Machine
It is hard to know where to start with this singer/group and the album. For a start the genre is listed on iTunes as 'alternative', which is what Apple always do when they cannot place a singer/group in a neat little box. Though in fairness on this occasion, Florence is not easy to categorise. On first listen to the album we get a kind of hippy meets Kate Bush feel to her vocals, and I'll be honest, I skimmed most tracks and could not be bothered. A work colleague went to see Florence live and said that she was, quote "F***ing amazing", so to please my colleague and not be a music snob, I borrowed her CD and played the album for two days in the car.
Then a strange thing happened, I started to like a few of the songs, well, in truth, three of the songs. You've got the Love, a Candi Staton original, which I liked first time round as a disco classic gets a new lease of life from Florence. She actually gives a disco song and edge and makes it very different from the original, and I would argue, better.
I am not overly impressed by the chart songs on the album but there are two over songs which really stand out for me.
Firstly, 'Kiss with a Fist'. This is a fantastically dark song about mutual domestic violence, it has a rockabilly feel to it and sounds musically quite jolly, yet the lyrics are very dark, let me give you an example:
You hit me once, I hit you back
You gave a kick, I gave a slap
You smashed a plate over my head
I set fire to our bed
She goes on to sing 'A kiss with a fist is better than none'.
One would expect a song like this to be sung in an angst ridden slow beat, none of it, it is frenetic and full of screaming lead guitar and drums. This is so different from the rest of the album, it could be classed as a demon child of melodic punk and rockabilly, brilliant.
The other song that stands out is 'Girl with one eye', another dark song with some extremely graphic lyrics and double entendres, her vocal is reminiscent of Siouxsie from the Banshees, which in itself makes it worthy of listening to. Deliciously dark, one feels quite voyeuristic listening to the lyrics, love it. There is also a hint of Skunk Anansie in her angst which again, is no bad thing.
Florence sings in a very high register but somehow makes it sound quite guttural in places, she has some lungs no doubt and I can see where my colleague is coming from, live, I bet she is quite a talent to watch, yet somehow that does not really translate to a recording.
Unfortunately, apart from the three tracks discussed, in my opinion, the rest is decidedly ordinary; Kate Bush meets Enya for some camomile tea. Awards won or not, if I was her I would stick to the dark and edgy songs which are great. So I am going to give the album 3 stars, it is competent, average and will appeal to many, with the three songs I have reviewed, it becomes a good album
She has a future, of that I'm sure. I recently reviewed 'La Roux' and there are a lot of reasonably new female vocalists out there that will not 'make it', I reckon Florence will, just keep singing punk inspired songs rather than hippy inspired ones.
~~Full Track Listing~~
1. Dog Days Are Over
2. Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)
3. I'm Not Calling You a Liar
5. Kiss with a Fist
6. Girl with One Eye
7. Drumming Song
8. Between Two Lungs
9. Cosmic Love
10. My Boy Builds Coffins
11. Hurricane Drunk
13. You've Got the Love
Closer (The Best of Sarah McLachlan)
Let me start by saying that if you like McLachlan then this album, on iTunes is an absolute bargain at £5.99 for 17 songs.
Let me also say that this is by no means a lengthy review, I decided not to review every single song as, my new rule is, over 12 songs and it gets a bit boring for some folk when individually reviewed.
A classically trained singer and musician (you can tell), McLachlan is Canadian, was married to a Canadian Asian drummer, was responsible for promoting female vocalists and musicians and these are just some of the glorious parts that make her what she is, which is; incredibly talented, eclectic and emotional in her songs.
Her range of songs on this album go from Celtic folk like offerings (think Enya without the whining) such as the opening track 'Vox', through soft rock (Building a Mystery) and emotional power ballads like Angel and 'Hold On'.
Not content with that range she dabbles in trancy electronic offerings like track 3, 'Into The Fire', not my favourite by a long shot though interesting. Again, the final track (offered on iTunes) is almost a dance/club number (there you go Plipplop, one for you), yet unlike most 'clubby' tunes, it has a great vocal (and a good lack of thump, thump bassline)
I am going to backtrack a bit before I go on. 'Angel', not to be confused with Robbie Williams' 'Angels' is perhaps one of the most emotional songs that I know. Her vocal is like crystal, perfectly clear; it rises and ebbs like a tide, it tells a story.
The story is all about the pianist/keyboard player for Smashing Pumpkins, Jonathan Melvoin, who died of a heroin overdose. I also love this song as it is a song that I play on saxophone with probably more feeling than any other tune. There is something about it that just gets in my bones.
Back to the album as a whole. This is, in some ways a very strong album, in other ways very weak....let me explain. 'Angel' is one of the best songs of the last 20 years in my opinion, it will grace any album and will go on (if it isn't already) to be a timeless classic.
Against this one song alone, everything else on the album pales in comparison. However, if this album were released without Angel ever having been penned, it would be a very good album in its own right.
It will never set the World on fire yet it is one of those albums where you hear it a few times, get bored, listen again a few weeks/months later and realise that you actually really like it.
Vocally McLachlan is quite stunning and that in itself, in my view is recommendation enough to own this, if no other of her albums.
~~~Full Track Listing~~~
2. "The Path of Thorns (Terms)"
3. "Into the Fire"
5. "Hold On"
6. "Good Enough"
7. "Building a Mystery"
8. "Sweet Surrender"
11. "I Will Remember You" (Live)
13. "World on Fire"
15. "Don't give up on Us"
16. "U Want Me 2"
17. "Silence" (Niels Van Gogh Vs. Thomas Dold Remix Radio Edit)
Dennis Quaid stars in this thriller and for me that was enough reason to watch it. An underrated actor who has been incredibly prolific in his career yet has never really been 'up there' with the big stars. He acts in a similar way, in my opinion to Harrison Ford, and looks a bit like him too.
The director of the film is one Jonas Akerlund, never heard of him? Me neither, he has a long list of credits for directing rock/indie/ metal videos; Mettalica, Prodigy, Blink 182, but this seems to be his first foray into 'films'.
****Okay, the plot****
I always wonder in this part of reviews how much to give away to entice the reader to watch the film (if it is worth watching) without spoiling things, in this case, not too much at all needs to be given as the plot is quite evident and easy to get, it is the twists and turns and sub plots which make the film.
Quaid plays a stereotypical detective (Aiden Breslin), all crumpled coat and grumpiness, which, let's face it, if you are shooting a film in the frozen backwaters of Canada where it is so cold your breath comes out in huge steam clouds, you would need a coat, and be grumpy!
Breslin, again stereotypically is overworked, trying to bring up two sons (young and teenage) whilst grieving the loss of their mum, his wife due to cancer.
One crisp morning he gets a call to go to a crime scene particularly as he has an interest in dental forensics. On arriving at a frozen lake he finds a serving tray on a tripod in the middle of the lake, the trees surrounding the lake painted with the words 'Come and see'. He lifts the tray to be confronted with a complete set of extracted teeth, laying in blood.
This is just the start of a killing spree which he realises has links to the bible, in particular, the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
That is it for the plot from me. What I will say is that we get lot's of sub plots involving torture, the bible, the internet and they are all pretty well woven in.
****What is good about the film****
I like the 'moodiness' of the film. Quaids character is clearly a tortured soul and whilst this is a bit of a cliché it works. He stomps around the film with a sidekick who despairs of him, he makes connections that he goes off on that shows his skills and he seems to do 'awkward' incredibly well. He reminds me a bit of Colombo but in a nicer way.
The sub plot, where he is so immersed in his work that he neglects his kids, leaving them 20 dollar bills to get there tea etc. is heart wrenching, as a dad I came close to tears at a number of places...for instance his kids get all dressed up to go to a match (hockey I think), painting their face red etc, only to hear his mobile phone ring, take off their scarves and retreat to their rooms silently, knowing he will let them down, again.
The character Kristen is creepy and weird as she should be for who she plays.
The directing is sombre and cold, as is the subject matter and the geographical area. In fact, the fact that we see very few hints of brightness, ether in the script, or literally, as in a distinct lack of bright colours throughout is actually very well thought out.
The story was interesting if not a little predictable at times and I liked the fact that there was little Hollywood glamour, it was quite gritty in an immature way. The ending has a fair twist which I liked, even if I 'guessed' it earlier.
****What is not so good****
As mentioned, there were a lot of stereotypes and the plot was somewhat predictable at points.
There seemed to quite a few 'leaps' in deduction without clear process; we are expected to believe that these ideas just come to Breslin.
There also seems to be a complete lack of procedure where Breslin goes off investigating dangerous situations without much back up or without letting folk know what he is up to.
'Tuck' the coroner is truly hammy, his acting is poor, his dialogue worse, he is totally unbelievable and for me, the worst part of the whole film. Well, that and maybe the moustache and wig worn by Stingray, Breslins's sidekick.
Finally, there seems to be a lack of 'depth' in parts, for instance, part of the torture rituals we see are associated with tattoo, piercing and scarification cultures, we get a brief recognition of this without any real understanding. As with a certain internet based group, I was left wanting more in these areas.
I watched this on the Virgin Media interactive channel, and at an hour and a half it was a pleasant enough distraction from doing the work I should have been doing. It is certainly watchable, no classic, Quaid is okay, the plot is alright (if not quite déjà vu in parts) and it passes the time.
Not one to rush out an buy on DVD, but by no means the worst film I have seen lately.
There are some mildly gory bits but not too gross, there is some swearing but not too much. I'll give it three stars, but really, it is a two and a half star film.
* Dennis Quaid as Aidan Breslin, a widower detective trying to solve the "Horsemen" case
* Zhang Ziyi as Kristen
* Barry Shabaka Henley as 'Tuck
* Clifton Collins, Jr. as Stingray
* Peter Stormare as Mr. Spitz
* Eric Balfour as Taylor
* Patrick Fugit as Cory
* Chelcie Ross as Krupa
* Lou Taylor Pucci as Alex Breslin
* Liam James as Sean Breslin
* Deborah Odell as Ms. Bradshaw
* David Dastmalchian as Terrence