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chris meesey Food Czar (The Colony, TX United States)

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S.t.p.: A Journey Through America With The Rolling Stones
S.t.p.: A Journey Through America With The Rolling Stones
by Robert Greenfield
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.60
25 used & new from CDN$ 10.30

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stones Use STP In Their Tanks To Tour America!!!, July 3 2004
Why would anyone want to read a book about a tour that took place more than 30 years ago, in support of what is arguably the Rolling Stones most overrated album?? (Yes, Exile on Main Street does have some very good material, and excellent performances, but the "bathroom" (read: poor) sound quality, heralded by too many critics as being "influential" does not hold up well after all these years. Some of us would like to understand the lyrics, please!) Because the book is very well written by a good, observant, refreshingly unbiased journalist, and because like Jim Bouton's baseball classic Ball Four, S.T.P. was one of the first books that spawned an entire genre of rock books about specific bands. Many of the episodes still hold interest today, particularly the Playboy Mansion scenes in Chicago, and the details of the bands arrest and subsequent release (arranged by then-Mayor of Boston Kevin White to prevent a riot) from a Rhode Island jail: the Stones were supposed to be playing a concert at the very moment they were incarcerated. Many interesting characters stand out as well, particularly Truman Capote, Princess Lee Radziwill, and Jagger himself. One thing I feel must be noted: If you are younger than fortysomething, you may be surprised at the sheer amount of ANGER felt by many of the kids, who were just itching to clash with police. In many ways, that was typical of the times, and thankfully, for the most part, such behavior would not be tolerated today. In sum, if you are a Stones fan, or a fan of great rock writing, get S.T.P. ASAP. Trust me, like the namesake gas treatment, it'll put a tiger in your tank!!!

My Life with Noel Coward: Hardcover Book
My Life with Noel Coward: Hardcover Book
by Graham Payn
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 17.46
16 used & new from CDN$ 1.56

5.0 out of 5 stars What A Life, Indeed!!!, June 16 2004
Over the course of forty years, South-African-born actor Graham Payn shared the life, love, companionship, and generous wit of that "playboy of the West End world," Noel Coward. This book is a loving and often frank tribute to this great man, who made so many people laugh for so many years, and who, in life as well as on stage, was the very epitome of the word "style". Payn begins with his first audition for Noel and the play Words and Music in the thirties, takes us through the war years, to the decidedly unforgiving (to Noel) fifties, when the critics turned against him en masse, to the triumphant sixties and "Dad's Renaissance" to an adoring public, through Noel's death and the demise of Noel's personal assistant (and fellow biographer) Cole Lesley, up to the present (1993) and the unveiling of a special tribute stone for Coward in Westminster Abbey by no less a person than the Queen Mother. If this book ended after Graham's 250-page-or-so lovely memoir, it would still be worth five stars, but there is more. Much more. In the roughly hundred pages that follow, Payn provides us with the complete Coward writings on theatre, many of which first appeared in the Sunday Times (and which, for my money, prove conclusively that Noel Coward knew more about theatre than any other person who lived in the Twentieth Century). There are also interviews with actresses Judy Garland and Judith Campbell, brief but penetrating portraits on some of the many important figures in Coward's life (including Rex Harrison, the Lunts, and Sir Winston Churchill), and much more. My one caveat that goes with my otherwise-unqualified recommendation is this: please read The Noel Coward Diaries first, so that you get a clear understanding not only of how Noel saw himself, but how he viewed many of the key figures in this book. (Author Payn plays, not surprisingly, a significant part in the diaries.) With these two books by your bedside, you'll have the best and most delicious kind of reading entertainment for many nights to come, and you'll say of Graham Payn's life with Noel Coward: "What a life, indeed!!!"

Skin N Bones
Skin N Bones
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 52.95
4 used & new from CDN$ 47.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Brown Bones!!!, June 11 2004
This review is from: Skin N Bones (Audio CD)
Alas! The year was 1976, Savoy Brown had recently released two of their more lackluster albums in Boogie Brothers and Wire Fire, and head SB shaman Kim Simmonds was still in the midst of a creative dry spell that would haunt him at least until the start of the next decade. What to do? For Simmonds, the answer was business as usual; give the fans the very best you possibly can, and try to work through the tough times until the Muse and better days return sometime in future. Of the first four numbers on Skin N Bone, only "This Day Is Gonna Be Our Last" is really any good, a slow 3AM blues with fine singing and playing. Luckily, things pick up at the very end with two numbers built from tried-and-true Simmonds techniques: the studio jam and the live boogie jam. The title track is seven and a half minutes of impassioned mid-tempo rock, with Simmonds and keyboard master Paul Raymond turning in some wonderful soloing, while rhythm section Ian Ellis on bass and Tommy Farnell on drums keep the time impressively. Finally, Savoy Brown has always been a most formidable live act, and "Walkin' and Talkin'" is more than thirteen minutes of delightful blues strut before a very appreciative audience. Kim and Paul share vocals on this number, proof that in lean times, the band continued to make excellent music live. (See Live at the Record Plant, the band's outstanding live offering from 1975, as furthur proof of this.) The resulting album is a laudible effort, while Kim continued his search for the elusive muse, which would return with a vengence with the 1981 neo-hairband classic Rock 'N Roll Warriors.

Wire Fire
Wire Fire
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 58.95
3 used & new from CDN$ 37.96

3.0 out of 5 stars Be A Wire Fire Buyer!!, June 4 2004
This review is from: Wire Fire (Audio CD)
Wire Fire is one of the best titles ever used for a Savoy Brown album, and since it comes from guitarist Kim Simmonds admitted dry period (in other words, his Muse was not amused), one of the hardest to find at a decent price. Nevertheless, although it will never compare to such classics as Raw Sienna or even Jack The Toad, it is still a very good effort. "Put Your Hands Together" is a fine soul raveup in the mode of Marvin Gaye's classic "Can I Get A Witness," while "Deep Water" features first-rate drumming (not specified, but most likely by Tommy Farnell, as Dave Bidwell departed the sessions early, plagued by the drug-induced problems which would soon take his life.) The albums two highlights are the two numbers also featured on Live at the Record Plant, recorded the same year: "Hero To Zero," an excellent joint effort between Simmonds and keyboard wiz Paul Raymond, and "Born Into Pain," a Simmonds-solo composition featuring an outstanding opening keyboard riff. Throughout, Kim and Paul display their almost telepathic understanding and sympathy for each other's play, and their vocals, while never shining, prove more than adequate for the material at hand. In sum, not a classic, but an excellent addition to your by-now overflowing Savoy Brown collection.

Angels & Demons
Angels & Demons
by Dan Brown
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 11.99
442 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A Nonstop Action Work of FICTION!!!, May 12 2004
World renowned Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is laying in his bed early one morning when his world is shattered at 5:18 AM by a phone call from a mysterious Maximilian Kohler, head of an ultrasecret Swiss science organization who needs his services ASAP! And when we mean right away, we mean RIGHT AWAY; Kohler is sending his private jet, which will bring Langdon to Switzerland to start the longest day and the most intense journey of his life. You see, a scientist working on a project to discover the secrets of antimatter has been Murdered, apparently by an ancient cult called The Illuminati, who seared their special brand into the dead man's forehead. Langdon soon learns that the killer or killers intend to revive the longstanding quest of this secret society by placing this antimatter bomb somewhere in the Vatican; their goal is nothing less than the destruction of the entire Catholic church!! Along the way, he encounters Vittoria, the ultrasexy, ultrasmart daughter of the dead scientist, and her aide is enlisted in the quest. Symbols, symbols abound, ancient scripts, cryptic messages, all of which must be solved by our intrepid duo before midnight when the Vatican goes Kaboom! Oh, and have I mentioned that there is a conclave of cardinals (not the birds, silly!) esconced in the Vatican, preparing to elect a new Pope? How remiss of me! Well, it seems that the killers also intend to gruesomely dispatch one of the cardinals per hour, and there is nothing Langdon, Vittoria, and the entire Swiss Guard can do about it, is there? Wrong! Enter the camerlingo, the Pope's personal chamberlain, whose services are also enlisted in the quest. All in all, it's a madcap romp through 500+ pages and the longest day of everyone's life. Part James Bond and/or Indiana Jones adventure, part Umberto Eco symbology quest, all spellbinding, all guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat, all FUN!! However, a few cautions. First, if you are overly squeamish and cannot handle gruesome and macabre deaths graphically depicted, you might want to stay away from this book. Also if you are an overly critical type and love to look for all the factual flaws and inaccuracies of a work of FICTION (Isn't that a contradiction?? Think about it!), this book may not be for you as well. Still, if nonstop action and literary puzzles are what really grab your attention, then I would suggest grabbing a copy of this book right away and be prepared for the ride of your life. Quick before it's too late! The clock is ticking!!!

Stand Up
Stand Up
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 11.97
37 used & new from CDN$ 5.55

5.0 out of 5 stars It's An Old Album Now- - -But It's Still Great!!!, May 5 2004
This review is from: Stand Up (Audio CD)
Stand Up is one of Jethro Tull's finest albums---Aqualung is the other---where frontman Ian Anderson writes great material supported by great playing, and unlike some of his later work, is not overly long and self indulgent. (Luckily, his muse would return to sharp focus in the Nineties with the fabulous ballad to a changing world, "Farm on the Freeway".) "A New Day Yesterday" kicks off the disc in fabulous order, in a blues tempo topped off by period fuzztone, and is the album's only real rocker. Guitarist Martin Barre, in Anderson's shadow for the entirety of his career, does his usual fabulous job on this one. "Bouree" is a beautiful bit of Bach featuring Anderson on the flute. Nice! "Back to the Family" is a hilarious comic number spotlighting the poor singer's dilemma: Is life truly better with the family or away from it? Great! "Look Into the Sun" is one of the albums highlights, glorious Barre figures and Anderson at his most philosophical. Fantastic! "Nothing Is Easy" is e'en more Ian philosophy, very thought provoking. "We Used to Know" shows unusual maturity in its themes of Life and Aging (unusual only because Anderson was a rather youngish bounder at the time), "Reason for Waiting" is simply gorgeous, and "For a Thousand Mothers" is hilarious and frustrating at the same time (Many of us have had parents like these that are "supportive" of our artistic endeavors.) Finally, the bonus tracks add little to an already outstanding album, save for "Living In the Past," propelled by an absolutely hypnotic bassline from Glen Cornick. Wonderful!! So, get Stand Up right away, for while it was a new album yesterday, it's an old album now---but who cares??? It's still GREAT!!!

Legends & Myths of Hawaii
Legends & Myths of Hawaii
by David Kala King
Edition: Paperback
26 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fact , Fiction, Past , Present, All The Same To His Majesty!, April 28 2004
The Legends and Myths of Hawaii is one of the finest books you will ever read concerning that magical fleet of islands anchored in the Pacific, not to mention one of the very best mythology books you will find anywhere. Written with great gusto by David Kalakaua, His Hawaiian Majesty who was also somewhat of a Renaissance Man, these fabulous tales mix fact with fiction, historical figures with gods and goddesses, past and present into a rich stew of oral myth/history, certain to captivate even the most jaded reader. Indeed, the most striking feature of these wonderful tales is how the author accepts as gospel truth many suppositions that scientists and cultural anthopologists are still debating more than a century after his death. For example, most "scholarly" references to Ancient Hawaii mention the Menehunes, that proto-Hawaiian, pre-Polynesian race of people that supposedly inhabited the islands until the turn of the last millenium, but most sources still conjecture whether this band of early settlers existed in actual fact or only in myth and legend. His Majesty not only acknowledges that Menehunes lived and thrived, but actually may have survived the later "Polynesian invasion" which was supposed to have wiped them out; he cites a recent census where 65 inhabitants of a remote valley actually identified themselves as "Menehune"!!! It seems that many of our esteemed present-day scholars should in fact examine these tales more closely, the better to clear up ancient factual mysteries. (Halfway around the world, Hellenistic scholars, those concerned with ancient Greece, used Homer in their quest to unearth their legendary rival city of Troy in present-day Turkey. The bards of old truly knew what they were talking about!!) Fans of Greek and other mythologies, as well as The Bible, will no doubt discover similarities between several of these stories and the legends of other cultures, most notably in the tale of "Hina, the Helen of Hawaii," that leads off this collection. Still, even if you could care a hill of taro for the factual content or scholarly discussions of Ancient Hawaii, do yourself a favor and buy this book anyway. Kalakaua, is first and foremost, a great storyteller, and all those who love a great story will be thrilled for hours. It's hard to pick out personal favorites because all are so good, but "Hina," "Umi, the Peasant Prince of Hawaii," and any story starring Pele, the often beautiful, always dangerous volcano goddess, are all standouts. So, if you love the myth and magic that is Hawaii, buy this most wonderful book today. The words of His Majesty await your endless pleasure!

Peter, Paul & Mary: Ten Years Together
Peter, Paul & Mary: Ten Years Together
Price: CDN$ 15.03
26 used & new from CDN$ 6.26

4.0 out of 5 stars Don't Think Twice- - -It's Alright To Buy This CD!!!, April 21 2004
The Folk Era of the early '60's is long behind us, most suitable these days for parody (such as the recent Christopher Guest movie A Mighty Wind), or for good old fashioned reminiscing. It's easy to see that the (relatively) few folk artists that have stood the test of time had real talent, whether lyrically (Bob Dylan, of course), musically (Joan Baez) or both (The Kingston Trio). After almost fifty years, the music of Peter, Paul and Mary still sounds to these old jaded ears as fresh as, well, a new breeze blowin in the wind. This trio of course had loads of talent, both lyrically and musically, and helped not a few songwriters along the way (John Denver, Gordon Lightfoot, and the aforementioned Mr Dylan). On furthur reflection (having enjoyed this album in LP form for many years), it seems to me that the songs that have best stood the rigors of time are those sung by Paul Stookey. "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright", "I Dig Rock and Roll Music" (featuring hilarious parodies of Donovan and the Beatles, and especially, the Mamas and the Papas. Mary does a perfect Cass impression!), and most glorious of all, "Early Morning Rain," with Paul's lowdown and dirty (yet smooth) delivery making the most of Gordon Lightfoot's lyrics. Outasite!!! Mary Travers is limited to just two lead vocals, but both are outstanding: the lyric, whistful "Leaving on a Jet Plane," and the achingly beautiful "500 Miles" (later covered splendidly by Bobby Bare). Peter Yarrow's songs are not as strong, with the exception of "For Lovin' Me" and that most fabulous stirring ballad about "Stewball," the racehorse worthy of a king. Brilliant! However, "Puff, the Magic Dragon" is quite charming, but not great, and "Day Is Done" is almost forgettable. Luckily, all three members of the trio take the lead on several songs: the rousing "If I Had A Hammer," "The Lemon Tree" (OK, well maybe just Paul and Peter sing lead on that one), "Too Much of Nothing," and the unforgettable classic that started it all for Mr. Bob Dylan, "Blowin' In The Wind", still utterly moving after all these years. Fabulous!!! So, get Best of Peter, Paul, and Mary right away- - - and don't think twice about it!!!

Collectors Series
Collectors Series
7 used & new from CDN$ 3.36

4.0 out of 5 stars Grand Fun Music!!, April 11 2004
This review is from: Collectors Series (Audio CD)
Okay, let's get one thing straight. Grand Funk Railroad, that bunch of garage band bashers from the idyllic berg of Flint, Michigan, should never be confused with Cream, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Traffic, etc, etc, etc. In other words, they were not Prog Rock, Punk Rock, Message Rock or any other kind of rock designed to appeal to the critics. In fact, let's say it loud and proud: GRAND FUNK RAILROAD WAS A PARTY BAND!!!!That's party, party! spelled P-A-R-T-E-E-E-E-E-EOWWWWW!!! In other words, music the critics didn't like because they don't always know how to have a good time. Really, the band should be known as GRAND FUN, because they were all about getting loose and having a good time. Which did not stop them, by the way, from performing excellent covers of message songs, like, say the Rolling Stones "Gimme Shelter" or the Animals/Ledbelly classic, "Inside Looking Out". (Both are which are represented on this excellent collection; the extended version of "Inside" is particularly fine, with first rate vocals by guitarist Mark Farner.) Most of the collection holds up very well to this day, with "Heartbreaker," "I'm Your Captain/Closer to Home" (a particular favorite of drummer Don Brewer and represented here in glorious fullness without radio edits.) and Dave Mason's much-covered "Feelin' Alright" emerging as the best cuts from the early albums, and "Loco-Motion," "Rock and Roll Soul," and "Bad Time" proving to be the best tracks from their later, more commercial albums. (Some fans may not like these commercial, obviously R-and-B-influenced tracks; these people should read a recent interview by Brewer on the Grand Funk website in which he admits that R-and-B and Motown, not blues, was the band's primary influence.) Note: If you are trying to decide whether to buy this collection or the one entitled Classic Masters, please note that each compilation has just one track that the other doesn't have, and therefore, the question comes down to this: Do you prefer "Take Me" (Classic Masters) or "Inside Looking Out" (Capitol Collectors Series)? (You will have to answer this question yourself, of course, but just let me remind you of one thing: That glorious cover of "Inside" is awfully fine!!) Farner, of course, sings most of the lead vocals, but fine drummer Brewer is also well represented here, with "Shinin' On," "Gimme Shelter," and that most wonderful party anthem "We're An American Band." Meanwhile, bassist Mel Schacher was creating the fabulous, droning bass lines on "Shelter," and late addition (but former Pack mate) Craig Frost was adding the fun and funky organ work that added extra soul to "Footstompin' Music". OUTASITE!!! So, if you want some hard-rockin tunes to liven up your next party, Grab Capitol Collectors Series today! Trust me: It puts the Fun in Grand Funk bigtime!!!

Me and Mr. Johnson
Me and Mr. Johnson
Price: CDN$ 8.00
40 used & new from CDN$ 3.38

3.0 out of 5 stars Johnson's Tamales Are Red Hot, This Is Lukewarm!!, April 4 2004
This review is from: Me and Mr. Johnson (Audio CD)
Many music listeners today don't realize that back in Robert Johnson's day (1930's), a musician played a lot of parties as his primary gigs, and whatever the partygoers wanted to hear, he was expected to know how to play (that is, if he wanted to be paid well and keep working!) A tune such as "They're Red Hot", a blistering swing/ragtime/cakewalk number more reminiscent of Louis Armstrongs Hot Fives & Sevens rather than the repetoir of a legendary blues Delta slide player like Johnson, might be featured along side more typical Johnson fare like "Come On In My Kitchen" or "Hellhound". Surprise, Surprise! "Red Hot" is far and away the best number on this mostly disappointing disc, as Eric and band quit sounding as reverential as church, and sprint thru the number with gusto. Billy Preston's tinkling piano and Jerry Portnoy's wonderful harp provide the musical highpoints. "32-20 Blues," "If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day," and "Me and The Devil Blues" are just about the only other good interpretations offered here. Most of the other songs are saddled with sludgy, over-reverential takes that lack soul and life. What happened to the great live-in-the-studio feel of From The Cradle, another all-blues masterpiece recorded just ten years ago to much better effect? Sounds like Mr. Clapton was in his Safe Eric mode, offering exact reproductions without fire, combustion or chemistry. (He drops into this mode from time to time; he practically lived in this mode the entire decade of the seventies.) For example, compare Eric's lame take of "When You've Got A Good Friend," with Savoy Brown's excellent version from their 1999 album Blues Keep Me Holding On. No contest: Guitarist Kim Simmonds and his famous Gibson Flying V fly circles around Eric's rendition. And the remake of "Hellhound on My Trail," Johnson's signature tune?? What a disappointment!! For this take, Eric should have sent the band home and played the entire song with acoustic and slide. Sounds more like a rabid poodle on his trail rather than a hellhound!! In closing, what can I say? The album does have several good offerings, mostly on the uptempo numbers, but Eric should now go back to square one and get in touch with his inner Johnson. Please???

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