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Reviews Written by
William Whyte (Somerville, MA)
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A Grand Don't Come for Free
A Grand Don't Come for Free
Price: CDN$ 15.52
65 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars I think I'm going to fall over..., July 3 2004
This is a fun album, full of slapstick and self-deprecating wit, with the beats pulled jerkily to one side or another of their natural resting place. Surprisingly, for a second album following a successful debut, it's if anything less cocky and more vulnerable than Original Pirate Material. Life keeps dumping on Mike Skinner (or at least on the character he plays on the album)... but at least there's beer to go out and drink, and girls to look at in chip shops. Not quite as compelling as the first album, but pretty good nonetheless. And "Fit but you know it" still makes me smile. "I think I'm going to... oh, bloody hell."

Let's Put on a Musical!: "How to Choose the Right Show for Your School, Community, or Professional Theate r"
Let's Put on a Musical!: "How to Choose the Right Show for Your School, Community, or Professional Theate r"
by Watson-Guptill
Edition: Paperback
19 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable reference, June 15 2004
This useful book sets out to do for musicals what Theodore Shank's "500 Plays" does for the theater: provide plot synposes, production notes, and useful background for a wide variety of shows. It's aimed at theatre groups, but it's equally enjoyable as a reference guide to musicals for the general reader -- perhaps the best one of its type in existence.
For each show, the entry contains: the creators; background on its original run, including awards won; a plot outline; assets and liabilities; roles; dances; sets, costumes and props; instrumentation; marketing suggestions; production suggestions; resources (for example, videos of the show); and details of the rights.
The book was clearly a labour of love, and it shows sometimes in the inconsistent treatments of different shows. Some shows get a one-sentence plot summary, for others it runs to several paragraphs. However, by and large it's an excellent resource, with its crisp, no-nonsense assessments of assets and liabilities. It packs a lot of information into a very small space.

Digest of 500 Plays: Plot Outlines and Production Notes
Digest of 500 Plays: Plot Outlines and Production Notes
by T.J. Shank
Edition: Paperback
4 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensible, June 15 2004
This book does exactly what it says: it provides outlines of 500 significant plays, giving an overview of the play, basic staging requirements (number of male and female parts, appropriate sets), difficulties to be considered when staging it, and licensing details.
This is the ideal theatre reference book. Its capsule descriptions of plays are concise yet perceptive, touching not merely on the action points of the plot but on the themes and characters as well. For example, the outline of Macbeth starts "With full knowledge of the consequences, Macbeth murders King Duncan..." How much richer this is than simply "Macbeth murders King Duncan."
The only drawback is that the book came out in 1963, and so doesn't cover some significant playwrights -- David Mamet, Peter Shaffer, and Samuel Beckett are omitted. Nevertheless, it succeeds completely at the job it set out to do.

About a Boy [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]
About a Boy [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]
15 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely, June 14 2004
Badly Drawn Boy's gift is that he writes songs that end up stuck in your memory without you even realising it. Six months after listening to this album, I woke up with "River, Sea, Ocean" going round in my head and had to spend two days tracking it down. "Delta (Little Boy Blues)" was used as repeating incidental music on NPR recently and every time I heard it I went "I'm *sure* I know that song", and here it is too. You leave this album singing some songs, you leave it remembering all of them. His unique mixture of shyness and brashness is the perfect match for Hugh Grant and the movie. And he has Andy Rourke from the Smiths in his live band!

Middle Temple Murder
Middle Temple Murder
by Joseph Smith Fletcher
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable romp, June 12 2004
This review is from: Middle Temple Murder (Hardcover)
An immensely enjoyable detective romp, first published in 1919. The writing is sometimes a bit stiff and pompous, but the plot is satisfyingly dense, the mystery is intriguing, and the atmosphere and characterization (which are the point of the whole thing) are top-notch. My favourite was the old stamp dealer who exclaims, "You think and argue on modern lines -- which are, of course, highly superior."

You Are The Quarry
You Are The Quarry
8 used & new from CDN$ 11.94

4.0 out of 5 stars Halfway back -- three and a half stars, June 6 2004
This review is from: You Are The Quarry (Audio CD)
It's so nearly great. The guitars chug along, doing nothing we haven't heard guitars do before. Some of the songs are shapeless, more like rambles with a tune than actual songs. But some are almost perfect, and they all have moments that could only come from Morrissey. "America is not the world" starts off seeming like it'll be frankly embarrassing, a childish rant, and then twists round on itself to come out entirely different, a spurned lover's overreaction. "I have forgiven Jesus" seems to be a ripoff of the courtroom scene in Trainspotting, ironic and no more, and then with the line "I have forgiven Jesus/for all the love He placed in me" it assumes tragic proportions, steeped in original sin. "How can anybody possibly know how I feel?" obsessively repeats "because you wear a uniform", astonished at the arbitrariness of power and the easiness of brutality. Nothing here quite matches "Speedway" off Vauxhall and I, or "Every Day is Like Sunday" off Viva Hate -- none of the songs have quite the tightness of structure to deliver the punch full-force -- but he's certainly more than halfway back.

You Are The Quarry (Ltd.Ed)
You Are The Quarry (Ltd.Ed)
Offered by Aux 33 Tours
Price: CDN$ 5.99
11 used & new from CDN$ 5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Halfway back -- three and a half stars, June 6 2004
It's so nearly great. The guitars chug along, doing nothing we haven't heard guitars do before. Some of the songs are shapeless, more like rambles with a tune than actual songs. But some are almost perfect, and they all have moments that could only come from Morrissey. "America is not the world" starts off seeming like it'll be frankly embarrassing, a childish rant, and then twists round on itself to come out entirely different, a spurned lover's overreaction. "I have forgiven Jesus" seems to be a ripoff of the courtroom scene in Trainspotting, ironic and no more, and then with the line "I have forgiven Jesus/for all the love He placed in me" it assumes tragic proportions, steeped in original sin. "How can anybody possibly know how I feel?" obsessively repeats "because you wear a uniform", astonished at the arbitrariness of power and the easiness of brutality. Nothing here quite matches "Speedway" off Vauxhall and I, or "Every Day is Like Sunday" off Viva Hate -- none of the songs have quite the tightness of structure to deliver the punch full-force -- but he's certainly more than halfway back.

Doc At The Radar Station
Doc At The Radar Station
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 44.95
7 used & new from CDN$ 6.25

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the very best, June 5 2004
When you think Beefheart, you think fractured, challenging, jerky, hoarse. Doc at the Radar Station is all that, but it's also exhilarating, rhythmic, passionate, exciting, and accessible. There's an energy and focus here that no other Beefheart album quite comes up to. Odd instruments are used for flavour, not simply to throw the listener off balance -- check the way the mellotron in "Sue Egypt" takes over and seems to throw the entire song off, and yet the strong pulse of the song is still pulling it onwards underneath. Then there's the tribal stomp of "Run Paint Run Run", the petulant sneer of "Best Batch Yet", the infectious party rock of "Dirty Blue Gene". "Dirty Blue Gene", of course, also shows off Beefheart's love of puns and wordplay. There's the obvious pun in the title; there's also the wry observation that all of Beefheart's music is mutant blues, with its own dirty blue gene. It's just an example of the layers of meaning that make this album so worth coming back to. If only it was available in the US!

Murray Street
Murray Street
Price: CDN$ 9.87
38 used & new from CDN$ 2.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect melodic pop-rock, June 5 2004
This review is from: Murray Street (Audio CD)
Sonic Youth have left the noise behind and turned out an album of amazing, beautiful songs with echoes of all the bands you've ever loved. "The Empty Page" channels the Doors' "LA Woman", stripping it of the bombast and leaving the longing. "Disconnection Notice", the standout song, is Pavement without the edge of whimsy, Lou Reed or the Streets without the swagger, stripped down to just the emotion. And with duelling guitars! Every song is packed with ideas and texture. It's the sound of a band at the top of their game. Essential.

Lunatic Harness
Lunatic Harness
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 48.95
4 used & new from CDN$ 29.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Starts brilliant, ends weak, May 22 2004
This review is from: Lunatic Harness (Audio CD)
The first four or so tracks on this album are absolutely essential -- the spazzy xylophone and "ha!"-ing kung-fu girl on "Brace Yourself Jason", the churchy organ and demented drums of "Hasty Boom Alert", the off-kilter swagger of "Mushroom Compost", the almost-dancefloor-anthem of the title track. The first two tracks in particular are strongly reminiscent of an insanely breakbeaty take on In Sides-era Orbital, and that's high praise. Unfortunately, the inventiveness is too much to keep up for an entire album and the last few tracks are frankly dull. Still worth four stars for the quality of the start. Mind-expanding, infectious, enjoyable, and full of things to come back to.

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