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Reviews Written by
Peter Durward Harris "Pete the music fan" (Leicester England)
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Ultimate Collection
Ultimate Collection
Price: CDN$ 15.00
75 used & new from CDN$ 0.38

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great selection of Katherine's music for Decca, Nov. 2 2009
This review is from: Ultimate Collection (Audio CD)
Although Katherine Jenkins recorded six albums for Decca, this collection draws heavily on just three of them, these being Second Nature, Living A Dream and Serenade. It would be fair to say that these were the albums that really established Katherine's reputation following her promising debut album, which isn't represented here at all.

It's possible to argue what should have been included. The compilers had a hard job in selecting seventeen tracks that represent the best of Katherine's Decca music. No doubt the selection was influenced by the need to ensure that the album qualified for inclusion in the classical music charts, as all but one of her earlier albums did. This may explain the absence of Katherine's exquisite covers of We'll meet again, You'll never walk alone and Amazing grace, to name but three popular songs that I would like to have seen included. But I am pleased that Decca chose to include Don't cry for me Argentina. This was not included on Living A Dream , but it was included in a deluxe edition of the same album. I decided not to pay the premium price for just that track and one other. There's also a deluxe edition of this collection, Katherine Jenkins: The Ultimate Collection / Special Edition, containing a second CD featuring eight live tracks, but again I opted for the standard edition.

Whether this truly is the ultimate collection of her music, this compilation certainly provides a great introduction to the music of Katherine Jenkins.

Little Dreamer
Little Dreamer
Price: CDN$ 25.33
37 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant music with many influences, May 20 2008
This review is from: Little Dreamer (Audio CD)
Though born in Peru, Beth Rowley is of British stock and has lived in Britain since her parents returned home when she was two. Beth grew up listening to many different styles of music thanks to her parents' eclectic musical tastes and this is reflected in her music. As a singer-songwriter, Beth has co-written five of the songs here, often with the help of Ben Castle. Ben (son of Roy Castle) is a jazz saxophonist who has worked with Jamie Cullum. The other six songs are covers but Beth has chosen them well. I'd be very surprised if you've heard more than about four of them by other artists at the very most.

The set opens with a traditional song (Nobody's fault but mine). Beth's bluesy voice is perfectly matched to this bluesy song that sets a high standard for the rest of the album, which maintains that high standard throughout.

The next two tracks (Sweet hours, So sublime) are among the original songs, with the latter being the second single from the album, released just a week before the album itself. The release of the first single (Oh my life, which is track 7 here) preceded the album by a full three months but failed to chart.

The fourth track (I shall be released) might be the most familiar song that Beth covered for this album, it being one of Bob Dylan's classic songs. Beth opted to give it an upbeat reggae treatment that may be slightly at odds with the lyrics but nevertheless works well.

The next three tracks feature two more brilliant original songs (Only one cloud, Oh my life) sandwiching a cover of When the rains came, written and originally recorded by British blues singer Jim Crawford. I confess that I've never heard of him before but if all his songs are this good, one wonders why he isn't better known.

The next two tracks, both covers, are what attracted my attention when I first saw the album and looked at the track listing in my local store. I am familiar with a Willie Nelson song titled Angel flying too close to the ground. I really didn't believe that somebody could come up with a different song with that title. Seeing another familiar country song title (Almost persuaded) as the following title reinforced this belief. I did some research and confirmed that these songs were indeed covers of the songs that I was familiar with and after listening to some of the other songs (but not these two) on MySpace, I knew that I had to buy this album.

Beth chose to bring in guest vocalist Duke Special on Angel flying too close to the ground. It's a long way removed from Willie Nelson's original version, but if the great man hears it, I think he would approve. Almost persuaded (originally recorded by David Houston, who has long since faded into obscurity) has generated a variety of covers including very distinctive versions by Etta James and Hank Williams Junior. Both of those covers are very different from the original and from each other. Tammy Wynette is among those singers who recorded faithful covers of the song. Beth has stamped her own identity on the song so her version is different again from the others I've heard.

Next comes the last of the five excellent original songs here, You never even called me tonight. The final track (Beautiful tomorrow), like the opening track, is a traditional song, but this one is a gospel song that Beth may have learned from Mahalia Jackson's version.

Musically, this is hard to classify but it has elements of pop, jazz, blues and soul in it. Despite including two covers of country songs, I don't detect any country influences in the actual music. Not that I mind, because this is a truly brilliant debut album by a singer who will hopefully be around for a long time.

Grey Magic: The Enigma of the Grey Thoroughbred
Grey Magic: The Enigma of the Grey Thoroughbred
by Alan Yuill Walker
Edition: Hardcover
6 used & new from CDN$ 23.05

5.0 out of 5 stars British grey racehorses, Dec 1 2005
This is not the definitive history of grey horses as details on the first 200 years (prior to The Tetrarch) are somewhat skimpy except for the chapter on Master Robert (the most recent common ancestor of all modern grey racehorses). While the author acclaims Master Robert as the important ancestor of modern grey racehorses, the really important ancestor is the Alcock Arabian, the grey Arab horse imported to Britain 100 years or so earlier, but the author doesn't say much about him and I didn't learn anything that I didn't already know about that horse.
Furthermore, my American friends will be disappointed to note that this book, the first ever published about the history of grey racehorses, is limited to those that were trained on the UK or which won English classic races. Thus, horses such as Native Dancer, Dancer's Image, Cozzene, Spectacular Bid, Lady's Secret, Skip Away and Holy Bull are not featured although some get brief mentions as sires of featured horses. Important French horses such as Linamix and his son, Sagamix are also missing. Having also read American racing books, I am sure that if an American had written this book, very few European horses would have been featured.
If you accept the limitations already described, you will find this to be a fascinating book that presents a different perspective on the history of racing from the usual (by races, by racecourses, by male lines or by female lines). In particular, the book confirms that genetics work in mysterious ways.
All 20th Century English classic winners are included along with other popular horses together with an arbitrary selection of lesser horses. A few of these became important broodmares including Canton Silk (grand-dam of Barathea, the Breeders Cup winner) and Sunbittern (ancestress of several top European horses). I remember both those horses from their racing days but I didn't know they'd been so successful at stud. The book is up to date at the time of publication in 2005 - it includes Proclamation (winner at Glorious Goodwood) and Grey Swallow (winner of the Irish Derby and a member of Daylami's first crop of foals). Here is a list of the featured horses, each of which gets at least two pages with some getting more. English classic winners are starred.
Abelia, *Abermaid, Abernant, Absalom, *Airborne, Albanova, Alborada, Althrey Don, Alydaress, Anzio, Baron Blakeney, Birdbrook, *Bruni, *Caligula, Call Equiname, *Camaree, Canton Silk, Cassandra Go, Castle Moon, Caterina, Colonist II, Cry of Truth, Daylami, Desert Orchid, Dragonara Palace, Environment Friend, Erimo Hawk, Flying Wild, Further Flight, Grey Abbey, Grey Sovereign, Grey Swallow, Habat, *Hula Dancer, *Humble Duty, Indian Skimmer, Iris's Gift, Jojo, Kalaglow, Kribensis, *Mahmoud, Migoli, *Mr Jinks, Mumtaz Mahal, Myrobella, *Mystiko, Nicer, Nicolaus Silver, *Nocturnal Spree, One Man, Palariva, *Palestine, Pasty, Pelting, *Petite Etoile, Petong, Portlaw, Precipice Wood, Proclamation, Quorum, Raffingora, Right Boy, Roan Rocket, Rooster Booster, Royal Minstrel, Ruby Tiger, Runnymede, Saritamer, Secret Step, *Shadayid, Sharp Edge, Silken Glider, *Silver Patriarch, *Sleeping Partner, Sovereign Path, Stalbridge Colonist, *Sun Cup, Sunbittern, Suny Bay, Supreme Sovereign, *Tagalie, Tag End, *Taj Mah, Teeton Mill, Terimon, *Tetratema, The Callant, The Tertrarch, Town Crier, Vigo, Vilmorin, Warpath, What's up boys, Young Emperor ... and Master Robert.
This list brought back many memories for me. In some cases, I'd actually forgotten the horses were grey (easy to do if they are dark grey, therefore less conspicuous). Of the featured horses, I particularly enjoyed remembering Bruni, Canton Silk, Daylami, Desert Orchid, Dragonara Palace, Environment Friend, Erimo Hawk, Further Flight, Indian Skimmer, Kalaglow, One Man, Rooster Booster, Ruby Tiger, Sharp Edge, Sunbittern, Suny Bay and Teeton Mill, but your favourites may well differ from mine.
Despite the dominance of horses that raced in the last half-century, the biggest entries are for The Tertrarch (eight pages) and his daughter, Mumtaz Mahal (six pages). They played an important role in improving the quality of grey racehorses, who now seem to be more numerous and better than ever before. As the author acknowledges, without The Tetrarch, he could not have written this book. However, it may be in time that Native Dancer (the American horse) may be even more important to the survival of greys on the racecourse. His colour traces back via four mares to Roi Herode, sire of The Tetrarch.
Not all of my favourite greys are featured. The first grey that I became a big fan of was The Go-Between (a son of the featured horse Runnymede) who was a very fast two-year-old. My other favourites included Scallywag (a horse who had difficulty entering the stalls), King Midas (a Cambridgeshire winner), Grey Sombrero (a high-class long-distance steeplechaser) and Grey Mirage (whose own racing career was cut short by injury and who is now more famous as the sire of Desert Orchid). Some of these get mentioned briefly in the book. Another horse that only gets a brief mention is Flockton Grey (a son of the featured horse Dragonara Palace) who was involved in a ringer case in 1982, one of the biggest betting scandals in British racing in modern times, but that story has been told in detail in other books.
If you enjoy racing and have a soft spot for greys, you'll love this book especially if you are familiar with these horses. Perhaps this book will inspire an American writer to do a book about American grey horses.

There's a Hippo in My Tub
There's a Hippo in My Tub
Price: CDN$ 15.00
22 used & new from CDN$ 9.68

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding children's album, May 27 2005
Adults can enjoy this too for despite the cover picture and the album title, there are some really great songs here. Some are covers of songs that can be on standard albums yet they are not out of place here - these include Hi lili ho lo, You are my sunshine, Open up your heart, I can see clearly now and What a wonderful world. Teddy bears picnic can also be found on standard albums but really belongs here.

All those songs are great, but Anne has obviously put a lot of thought into her selection of songs aimed squarely at children. Why oh why is a great song that illustrates the problems that parents have in answering children's questions - nobody can predict what a child will ask. Another great song is Stars are the windows of heaven - this is one way of answering a particularly awkward question and it's very well done. Apart from Teddy bears picnic, there are two other animal songs (Animal crackers, Inch worm). The album title comes from the chorus of the opening track (Hey Daddy).

This is a magnificent children's album that can be enjoyed by adults too.

Price: CDN$ 15.00
15 used & new from CDN$ 8.86

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Anne's personal favorites, May 27 2005
This review is from: Annie (Audio CD)
Anne Murray has recorded many excellent albums but, whenever asked to pick out her favorites, always includes this high on her list. At first glance, this seems surprising. There are no big hits here (so it didn't do much to help Anne's career) and few if any of the songs will be familiar to most people. There are covers of songs by Carole King (Beautiful) and Paul Anka (Everything's been changed) but the other songwriters are relatively unknown. Yet this album has a charm of its own and I can understand why Anne likes it so much. Maybe I wouldn't put it as high up the list of Anne's best albums as Anne does, but I certainly rate it more highly than some of her more famous albums.
The style of the album is typical of Anne's music of the early seventies, when Brian Ahern was her producer - it is an easy-listening blend of folk, country and pop music. From the opening Robbie's song for Jesus to the closing Paul Anka cover, this album oozes quality. As originally released, the front cover showed the smiling face of Anne as a young woman. The 1997 re-mastered version relegates this picture to the inside, showing Anne as a child in a brightly colored outfit surrounded by equally bright flowers and butterflies, yet looking a little sad. The new cover is certainly striking.
Because the track listing contains no obvious classics or familiar songs, it would be easy to overlook this album (except for the cover). Anne's fans should not ignore this album - it is an overlooked classic.

Tausend kleine Winterfeuer
Tausend kleine Winterfeuer
Price: CDN$ 28.23
10 used & new from CDN$ 4.14

5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Christmas album, Feb. 14 2005
Kristina may be asthmatic but she has a lovely, expressive voice and was still able to record a truly magnificent Christmas album combining old classics and original songs.
Seven classics are combined in two medleys but Tausend kleine Winterfeuer (Hark the herald angels sing), Weihnacht zu Haus (O holy night), Stille nacht (Silent night) and Marias Lied (Ave Maria) are given the full treatment. Kristina sings them all superbly.
Kristina wrote or co-wrote the other eleven songs, which are very impressive. Some of them are upbeat like Single-bells (which has a couple of lines in English, the only track to do so) but there are also some ballads and mid-tempo songs. I love them all but my favorites are Liebe zundet Wunderkerzen (a superb ballad, full of dramatic images) and Old MacDonald (about Christmas in the Scottish highlands).
If you are looking for a mix of Christmas songs old and new sung by one of Germany's finest singers, this is for you.

Atlantic Gold: 75 Soul Classics from the Atlantic Vaults
Atlantic Gold: 75 Soul Classics from the Atlantic Vaults
Offered by langton_distribution
Price: CDN$ 121.49
22 used & new from CDN$ 5.18

5.0 out of 5 stars A treasure trove of R+B oldies, Nov. 3 2004
Atlantic was one of the main R+B labels of the twentieth century and this collection gathers together a selection of the label's finest music from the fifties, sixties and seventies. As a UK compilation, it is very ambitious because many of the early tracks are not famous in Britain. Nevertheless, serious music fans will appreciate this treasure trove while the casual Christmas buyers at whom this is primarily targeted will find enough familiar songs to be tempted.
The first CD features Ruth Brown, Clyde McPhatter, LaVern Baker and others that few Brits have ever heard so the compilers wisely included Ruth's original version of Lucky lips, a major UK hit for Cliff Richard. However, Brits will recognize Ray Charles, the Drifters and Ben E King although some of the songs may be unfamiliar.
The second and third CD's feature a high proportion of material that Brits are familiar with tracks by the Drifters, Otis Redding, Booker T and the MG's, Wilson Pickett, Sam and Dave, Percy Sledge, Aretha Franklin and the Detroit Spinners. Note - the Detroit Spinners are known simply as the Spinners in America, but there used to be a British traditional folk group called the Spinners, hence the name change for the UK only. Even on these two CD's there are plenty of less famous (to Brits) tracks for serious R+B fans to get excited about.
Thus, this compilation provides plenty of famous R+B tracks for the casual buyer while also providing less famous but equally brilliant tracks for committed fans. All types of buyer are likely to find something here that inspires them to explore R+B oldies further.

Roundabouts of Great Britain
Roundabouts of Great Britain
by Kevin Beresford
Edition: Hardcover
18 used & new from CDN$ 0.77

5.0 out of 5 stars An American invention developed in Britain, Nov. 3 2004
This book had its beginnings in a calendar. A small publishing house in Redditch (near Birmingham and Stratford-on-Avon) had a tradition of producing a calendar each year in small volumes. In 2002, they were so desperate for ideas that they decided (as a joke) to do a roundabouts calendar. With over forty in Redditch, they had plenty to choose from. Although some people laughed at the calendar, the ten they originally printed expanded to a few hundred, so the idea for this book was born.
We often hear about things invented in Britain but developed elsewhere, often America, so it is nice to know that occasionally events happen in reverse. The first roundabout was actually installed in New York in 1903 but, despite that, roundabouts have not become widespread in America. France came next but it is in Britain that roundabouts have really proliferated.
The first British roundabout was installed in Letchworth, north of London but within commuting distance. They are now so common in the UK that it would be difficult to do any kind of road journey, especially in well-populated areas, that avoiding them. What is clear from this book is that roundabouts are not as boring as they might seem. Most but not all are of a generally circular shape - the book shows roundabouts that look more like triangles and rectangles, albeit with rounded angles. Some are very small - mini-roundabouts just painted on the road. Others are very large with the spaces in the middle used for a variety of purposes including wildlife, landscape, monuments and electricity pylons. One roundabout was built where (it seems) an ordinary junction would have been sufficient for traffic purposes, but there was an old oak tree at the site. The roundabout was apparently built around the tree.
It is said that the contributors researched roundabouts the length and breadth of the UK but it is clear that some towns proved to be disproportionately interesting. I was disappointed by the absence of Basingstoke, which is famous for its roundabouts - one of them is mentioned in Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy. I would have thought that one would have got into the book simply for that reason, but it didn't. However, Swindon, Slough, Milton Keynes, Grimsby/Cleethorpes, Telford and (of course) Redditch are all well represented.
The star is, of course, the magic roundabout in Swindon (that really is the name by which it is known). It is actually one central roundabout with a series of roundabouts in a circle around it, which has to be seen to be believed - you can look at it and think that the traffic is sometimes going the wrong way. I lived in Swindon when it was built and no photograph (not even the one in this book) can do justice to it.
The book also describes a type of person whose existence I was unaware of - the roundabout spotter. These people have get-togethers and exchange ideas. Well, you can always learn something new. But although this book is interesting and I may never look at roundabouts in quite the same way again, I definitely will not be joining the ranks of roundabout spotters.
So, many roundabouts are very ordinary but this book shows that there is much more to roundabout design than you could ever imagine. America is really missing out on something.

V1/2 Julie Is Her Name
V1/2 Julie Is Her Name
Offered by thebookcommunity_ca
Price: CDN$ 26.92
15 used & new from CDN$ 13.28

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best torch singers, July 13 2004
This review is from: V1/2 Julie Is Her Name (Audio CD)
Julie was originally an actress, but the success of her first record, Cry me a river, ensured that she would forever be remembered as a singer. Some critics complain about her vocal limitations, but Julie knew about those and worked within them. Torch singing was her speciality, and she was certainly one of the best at it. On these albums, the musical backing is very sparse, in contrast to her sixties music which generally has a fuller orchestra. I love all her music, but I think sparse is best.
Cry me a river opens this set, which consists of her debut album, Julie is her name, from 1955 and another album from 1958, confusingly titled Julie is her name volume 2. I say confusingly, because there were other albums released between those two.
The songs to found on these two albums were mostly selected from the Great American Songbook, and were well chosen, mostly soft, seductive ballads. Even a more upbeat song like S'wonderful is done with restraint. No doubt included to provide a bit of variation, it works quite well but it's not really Julie's type of song.
Apart from the title track, there are many other excellent ballads, including I'm in the mood for love, It never entered my mind, No moon at all, Blue moon (very different from the versions by the Marcels or Elvis - delicious) and I got lost in his arms.
This twofer was released some years ago but is becoming increasingly hard to find as I write this - however, it is well worth seeking out.

Tell Me Why
Tell Me Why
Offered by USA_Seller_4_Canada
Price: CDN$ 122.70
9 used & new from CDN$ 23.82

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Traditional country at its finest, July 5 2004
This review is from: Tell Me Why (Audio CD)
This very upbeat album is the first of three Jann Browne albums that I know of, although I've not had the pleasure of hearing the third (most recent) one. Jann has always stuck to her roots in traditional country and that may explain why there have been so few album releases from her. The liner notes say that Jann's musical heroes are Wynn Stewart, Webb Pierce, Rose Maddox and George Jones. I'm sure all four would have approved of this album.
Jann's voice has similarities with Emmylou - no bad thing - and her taste in traditional country music also has similarities (though Emmylou likes other types of music too - a huge difference). To emphasize the link, Emmylou provides harmony vocal on Mexican mind. Other notable guests are Wanda jacking, who duets on I forgot more than you'll ever know (the Davis Sisters classic from the fifties), and Iris DeMent, who provides harmony vocal on Lovebird.
Till a tear becomes a rose is normally associated with Lorrie Morgan and Keith Whitley. I heard Jann's version before I heard theirs but I'm not sure who recorded it first. Another song that country fans may recognize from other recordings is The one you slip around with - a country hit in the sixties for Jan Howard. The other songs (which may or may not be originals) are all excellent particularly the title track, Mexican wind and You ain't down home.
In all the hundreds of traditional country albums I've heard, there are very few that I'd rate ahead of this - and then only marginally. If you enjoy traditional country, this is well worth the premium prices I see quoted.

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