Sherlock Holmes CD Review

Sherlock Holmes Specials

Many thanks to Random House who have sent me this boxset of four feature-length Sherlock Holmes audio dramas, originally broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Clive Merrison star as Holmes and the late Michael Williams stars as Dr. Watson. I’d heard about these dramas, but had never listened to them before.

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Story number 1 is ‘A Study in Scarlet’, from 1989. This is where Holmes meets Watson, and they end up finding accommodation together at the infamous 221B Baker Street. I love the scene where Holmes displays his skills to Watson, by describing Watson through and through, just by looking at him.
Story number 2 is ‘The Sign of the Four’ featuring a fantastic guest appearance from Brian Blessed. Merrison really comes into the role during this story – there’s also a love interest for Dr Watson during this two part adventure. At the start of the story we also hear Dr Watson warning Holmes about the use of cocaine, a powerful scene – showing Holmes’s character when he didn’t have a case to solve.

 

Story number 3 is ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ which features appearances from Judi Dench as Mrs Hudson and also the late, great Donald Sinden too.  Great cast, brilliantly dramatised, and I was hooked throughout.  I believe this was the last Merrison/Williams production – Merrison went on to work with Andrew Sachs in further adventures after Williams’s death, but this production made sure all of Conan Doyle’s novels and stories had been created.

 

Story number 4 is ‘The Valley of Fear’, again a great production – brilliant story, which interlinked events on both sides of the Atlantic.  It’s left me wanting to hear more!  Now, I’ll have to track down the shorter stories which were dramatised and are also available to purchase on CD too.
The production values are excellent, and performances from both Merrison and Williams are superb.  The Conan Doyle works are treated with real respect here.

 

All of Conan Doyle’s stories were recreated for BBC Radio 4 by Merrison and Williams between 1989 and 1998. My favourite portrayal of Holmes has always been Jeremy Brett in the Granada Television adaptation, but the Radio 4 version adds a whole new light to the characters.
8 CD’s in this boxset, hours of entertainment and I’ve been enjoying them thoroughly during my commutes to work.  A must have.  Chris

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Graham Nash – This Path Tonight Review

Graham Nash – This Path Tonight
Graham Nash is now 75… formerly a member of The Hollies and Crosby, Stills and Nash. A member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Nash has just released his first studio album in fourteen years (his last album was in 2002 with ‘Songs for Survivors’).

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I came across Graham Nash recently on Freeview channel Vintage TV. He was a guest on Vintage TV’s ‘The Friday Night Rock Show’ and was promoting his new album ‘This Path Tonight’, with an interview as well as some very impressive acoustic performances too – it left me wanting to hear the album in full.
Ten tracks in total – starting off with the title track ‘This Path Tonight’ which is a brilliant start to the record. The album is 42 minutes in total. Another favourite of mine is ‘Myself at Last’, with amazing lyrics and a brilliant acoustic sound. ‘Cracks in the City’ is another gem on this record.

Great to hear Nash come back into the limelight to record this.  The songs sound meaningful – Nash clearly still has something to say.  I hope we will get to get another work in the near future.  Chris

Tracks:
This Path Tonight
Myself at Last
Cracks in the City
Beneath The Waves
Fire Down Below
Another Broken Heart
Target
Golden Days
Back Home
Encore

Epic Events – Join In Now!

Epic Events host many outdoor events – lots happening this year… I asked Epic Events directly what we can expect, and how you can sign up…  To find out more, and to register for an event visit http://www.epicevents.co.uk
Chris:
Tell us more about Epic Events – how long has the company been running events?

Epic:
Epic Events has been around for over 10 years, starting with some small duathlons and sportives before expanding into trail races, aquathons, open water swims and then eventually the triathlons that everyone knows about today. Epic Events is the brainchild of Marc Laithwaite, owner of The Endurance Store and experienced triathlete. The ethos of the company has never changed despite the growth and popularity of the events. The aim is and always has been to make everyone feel welcome whether they be novice or elite competitiors and to maintain a friendly atmosphere and personal approach whether there be 1 competitior or 1000.

Chris:
What events can we look forward to this year, and how can people take part?

Epic:
There are 16 different events on the Epic Events calendar (more if you include the trail runs on the nightrunner and trail 26 websites). The events are varied with duathlons, triathlons, sportives and open water swims. Our newest event to the calendar this year is the EpicMan, a middle distance triathlon based from Halton Training Camp in Lancaster which we are looking forward to organising in June. It is a bargain at £60 and we hope it will end up being as popular as all our other events.

All the information for our events can be found on our website http://www.epicevents.co.uk as well as the links to enter which are found at the bottom of each event page.

Chris:
You have events all in different locations, which is the most popular in the Epic Events calendar?

Epic:
We have some real classics in the calendar that have been going for years. The likes of the Parbold Duathlon is a really fun and competitive opener to the season and sells out quickly every year. Horwich Triathlon is also a real favourite with everyone, even if the weather always seems to be cold and damp despite it being in May. The sportives are also extremely popular with the Cumbrian Cracker and the Eden Valley Epic being the key events that people seem to love. Ullswater swim seems to be a favourite with our open water swimmers. The freedom of being in Ullswater and having the backdrop of the mountains and Glenridding is fantastic.

Chris:
How can readers contact yourselves if they have any questions before signing up?

Epic:
Most of the answers to the more common questions can be found on the individual event pages on our website http://www.epicevents.co.uk. We can also be found on facebook under @epiceventsmanagement and twitter under @epiceventsltd. We have facebook event pages for all of our events where people can post up questions to us and other competitors. We update the event pages regularly with race information from t-shirt designs to special offers. We can also be contacted via email, events@epicevents.co.uk.

Sign up today!  Many thanks to Epic Events for this interview.  Chris

Pele Album Review

By Paul-Coates Black

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Pele – Fireworks (25th Anniversary Edition)
Extended CD
Gatefold LP
Available from: https://amsterdam-music.com/fireworks-album-25th-anniversary-edition/ or via Ian Prowse Facebook page.

Back in 1992 the chart was dominated by artists like Shakespears Sister, Boyz II Men, Right said Fred, Whitney Houston and The Shamen. This was the world that Pele were signed into and released this their debut album, during the course of its promotion they released four singles over an eleven month period. Fair Blows the Wind For France was the highest to chart in the UK (No 62 in June 1992), however another UK single, Megalomania, fared slightly better on release abroad reaching No 1 in South Africa. Initial promotion (I discovered them on ITV’s The Chart Show) and continuous touring between 1991 and 1995 saw Pele gain a large and loyal student following. Those young enough to remember this period will recall the popularity of band T-shirts from artists like James, Inspiral Carpets, Stone Roses etc. Pele were no different, whilst the front always featured the band logo (as seen on the album cover in the four primary colours), the back featured a lyric from one of the songs, leading the band to (sadly) joke that due to a lack of record company promotion they sold more t-shirts than they did records!

Whilst touring the UK and Europe they played alongside amongst others The Pogues and Del Amitri, in many cases outshining the performance of the now long forgotten headline act. Playing live really brought the music to life and was where they excelled, this is not to take anything away from the studio recordings, but the charisma of Ian Prowse, their front man and singer/songwriter alongside the melody and power of the tunes, never failed to get an audience jumping up and down & singing along. Pele as previously mentioned toured until 1995, when following the release of another studio album & a live album, the label felt guitar music was dead and they were dropped by the record label, just as Britpop exploded & it was all over…. for now.

In the twenty years that have followed Ian formed a new band Amsterdam and continued to gain influential fans of his music and song writing style – John Peel, Janice Long, Elvis Costello and Christy Moore amongst others. To date this has seen five additional albums including a Best of compilation and of course the continuation of the endless touring. A Pele reunion in 2009 gave them the opportunity to sell the ‘lost’ third album as well as start reissuing the back catalogue that they now had the rights to following the closure of Pele’s record label. To support the 25th Anniversary of ‘Fireworks’ original release, Ian & Amsterdam head out on the road on 11th March for a mini tour of the UK as well as re-releasing the LP with a gatefold cover and CD with additional B-sides and demos. You probably by now get that I love it, but what does it sound like. The Fireworks album has twelve (to fourteen) tracks, depending on which format purchased, and in all honesty, all of these could have been singles, they’re that powerful. The music has a Celtic influence spanning from The Waterboys, The Pogues and Dexy’s Midnight Runners; with the lyrics being of a political nature like The Clash and Bruce Springsteen. The band consists of the traditional line up, guitar and vocals, bass guitar, drums, in addition to which to give them the Pele sound you have an organ (not keyboard!) and violin.
During the course of the album songs range from singing about relationships, anti-monarchy, the atomic bomb, the Holocaust and religion. Now whilst this instantly sounds like depressing subject matter throw in pop violin solos, organ solos, thumping guitar and drum beats and mix it all up with the Celtic influence and you have an album that is far from depressing. After its original release, it was suggested by the record label it was too ‘Poppy’, hence the follow up featured some slower numbers.

If you like the mainstream artists I’ve previously mentioned, give it a try, you won’t be disappointed and I can guarantee you’ll be looking to discover more. Ian Prowse is a musician that once heard, you’ll be forever wondering how, with the quality of his music he has not become a mainstream artist. Equally if you get the chance to catch the tour in March, I can’t recommend it highly enough. My wife saw Amsterdam for the first time just before Christmas and loved it, and now can’t wait for the two gigs we’ll be going to this year.

Love in Recovery CD Review

I’ve been enjoying my commutes to work over the last week – away from the sounds of Chris Evans on Radio 2, and any other channel.  The reason?  I’ve had five CD’s to go through, from Radio 4 comedy drama ‘Love in Recovery’.

Published by Penguin Random House, Series 1 and 2 are now available in a 5 CD box set, and if you haven’t heard the show before, there’s almost five hours to enjoy.

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The show has an outstanding cast (Sue Johnston, John Hannah, Eddie Marsan, Rebecca Front, Paul Kaye and Julia Deakin) – and the chemistry is there from the start.  Each episode is set during a weekly Alcoholic Anonymous meeting.  We hear their stories, we hear their highs… we hear their lows.  We hear them laugh, and sometimes cry.

 

Eddie Marsan is Andy, the “self-appointed” group leader who you can always rely on to bring the biscuits.

Sue Johnston is Julie, who’s been known to have the odd relapse here and there, and everywhere, but had a husband who relied on drink – and one day, she decided to do just the same…

John Hannah is Simon, a snide journalist with a big secret.

Rebecca Front is the snobby and guarded Fiona, who used to be a banker who had it all, and then lost the lot.

Paul Kaye is Danno, a dodgy geezer with no front teeth, but a lot of heart.

I was fortunate enough to be able to ask writer Pete Jackson some questions about the show…

 

Chris:

Love in Recovery has an outstanding cast – how easy was it to assemble the cast for the show?

 

Pete:

The cast really are our dream cast and we were amazed and very very grateful when they all said yes. And they’ve been wonderful. They find layers in the scripts that aren’t always there in the writing (but which I always take credit for). And they’re all utterly lovely too! Infuriating isn’t it? I can’t act, and I’m a dick!

Chris:  

Series 1 consists of 6 x 15 minute episodes, with the first five all focusing on a different main character.  From the Christmas Special onwards, the episodes increase in length to 30 minutes, what brought on the change in duration?

 

Pete:

We increased the duration because we felt like we’d proved the show works and wanted an opportunity to tell more complex stories. In the first series, we covered how each of the characters had arrived in the room- and so for series two we wanted to focus on things happening in the present as well as the past- and link two, sometimes three stories in the same episode.

Chris:

What has been your favourite episode so far?  (Mine so far has to be the Christmas Special, which I listened to on the way to the office this morning, excellent).

 

Pete:

My favourite episode so far has to be episode six of series 2, ‘The Wake’ because it was a story that’s quite personal to me, and I also managed to rope my whole family into singing at the end. And I gave my mum and my uncle Bill a line each- which they delivered with aplomb.

Chris:

Are there plans for a third series?

 

Pete:

I’m writing the third series as we speak (hence my rapid answers to these questions- they’ve been a very welcome distraction from trying to plot an episode). We’ll record later this year I think.

 

I’ve also been lucky enough to interview actor John Hannah (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Marley’s Ghosts and Sliding Doors).

 

Chris:

You play Simon in the series.  How did you start preparing to play Simon when you first got the role?

 

John:

I’ve had my share of issues over the years but the writing spoke of so much more than single issue problems. Putting oneself in that skin was, unfortunately all too familiar.

 

Chris:

I used to attend GA meetings and the show has really managed to capture the sometimes claustrophobic atmosphere in those meetings.  Is each show recorded in exactly the same way?

 

John:

The show is recorded exactly like the meetings…  In a church room. Maybe the biscuits are a bit better!

 

Chris:

Apart from Simon, who is your favourite character in the show?

 

Simon:

It may be a cliche but every character is so beautifully drawn and played. I love and feel for each one. As you know in every group there’s always a dick. I’m just happy they let me play with them- being the dick.

 

Chris:

What has been your favourite episode to date of the series?

 

Simon:

I honestly felt each story each episode took us on a journey of such beautiful discovery We really felt like we walked a mile in their shoes. I hope you enjoy the 2nd series. Pete and Ben managed to top their 1st series and I think that’s no mean feat.

 

‘Love in Recovery’ Series 1 and 2 is out now on CD from all good stockists.  Buy it.  You will not be disappointed.  It will leave you wanting more.  Chris

The Cocktail Hour! (Part 1)

Hello all, back with another review of Aldi’s finest.  Over three articles, I’ll be giving you a taster of some cocktails you can make, using products available throughout their stores.  I’m also recording a video during the process – look out for it on You Tube soon!

Tonight, I’m enjoying the Welsh Open Snooker on Eurosport, whilst having a ‘Nolan’.  (Not one of the singers from ‘I’m in the Mood for Dancing’, just to clarify!).

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You may have heard of Gin and Orange… but try it with a dash of Rum!  Follow the instructions below, and give it a try yourself, let me know how you get on, comment below!

 

What do you need to make a Nolan Cocktail?

30ml Oliver Cromwell London Dry Gin (available from Aldi stores)

15ml Old Hopking White Rum (available from Aldi stores)

Orange Juice

That’s it.  Three ingredients – all going into a tall glass.  I used a measuring jug to be precise with the measurements, but be as generous with the gin and rum as you wish!  Gin and rum in, and fill the glass with nicely chilled fresh orange juice.  Easy drink – happy days 🙂

Verdict on the Nolan Cocktail…

It really is refreshing, a fruity drink, with a delicate kick to it!  And before you know, your glass is empty!  And both the gin and the rum are available to buy at just less than £10 each, compare that the prices of other leading brands (e.g Havana Club Rum Anejo 3 Year Old is almost twice the price as of Feb 13th 2017!).

I’m not a gin drinker, but this was a great way to try it – and I’d certainly make myself one of these cocktails again.  Remember that this was the Aldi gin that two years ago, was award winning!  The Oliver Cromwell Dry Gin was voted top drink by judges at the International Spirits Challenge – even beating a premium bottle of Beefeater Burrough’s Reserve Gin for £70!

My advice would be to make a large jug for parties – it would go down superbly.  I give it a good 8 out of 10, and our friend Sarah who has tried the Nolan cocktail with me tonight, gave it an outstanding 9 out of 10!

 

Look out for Part 2 – coming soon!  Right here on http://www.sportonfreeviewuk.wordpress.com – the Oliver Cromwell London Dry Gin and Old Hopking White Rum were complimentary but all views are my own.

Snooker Welsh Open on Freeview

The Home Nations Snooker concludes this week with tournament number four… The Welsh Open.  Quest showed live coverage of the English Open, Scottish Open and Northern Irish Open… and BBC has rights to the final tournament.

 

Here’s a day by day guide to where you can find the coverage – bookmark this page, hopefully it will come in handy during the week!

Monday

13:00-16:20

BBC Wales starts its coverage of the Welsh Open, full coverage available on the BBC Sport App and Website.  BBC Red Button viewers on Freeview Channel 601 will have to wait until 13:25 for coverage to start.

19:00-20:00

An hour of the evening session live – then the only way to see live coverage is on Eurosport.

23:15-00:05

Evening highlights from BBC Two Wales – unfortunately these aren’t being shown on the Red Button, but will be available to watch on the BBC Iplayer.

 

Tuesday

13:00-16:15

BBC Red Button and BBC Two Wales have the same broadcast times today.

19:00-20:00

Once again, an hour of the evening session live.

23:15-00:05

Evening highlights from BBC Two Wales – available on BBC Iplayer.

 

Wednesday

13:00-16:25

BBC Red Button and BBC Two Wales have the same broadcast times today.

 

19:00-20:00

Once again, an hour of the evening session live.

 

23:15-00:05

Evening highlights from BBC Two Wales – available on BBC Iplayer.

 

 

Thursday

13:00-16:25

BBC Red Button viewers on Freeview will have to wait until 13:55 to start watching today’s action, due to live skiing.  For full coverage from 13:00 you will have to watch via the BBC Sports App or website.

19:00-20:00

Once again, an hour of the evening session live.

23:15-00:05

Evening highlights from BBC Two Wales – available on BBC Iplayer.

 

Friday

13:00-16:25

BBC Red Button viewers on Freeview will have to wait until 14:00 to start watching today’s action, due to live skiing.  For full coverage from 13:00 you will have to watch via the BBC Sports App or website.

 

19:00-19:30

Half an hour of Red Button and BBC Two Wales coverage before the Pro 12 Rugby.

 

21:30 – 22:00

Another half hour of snooker on the Red Button after the rugby.

 

23:35-00:25

Evening highlights from BBC Two Wales – available on BBC Iplayer.

 

Saturday

13:00-16:30

First semi final, not available on BBC Red Button due to ‘Final Score’ coverage.  You will be able to watch via the BBC Sports App and website.

 

19:00-21:50

Second semi final on BBC Red Button Freeview Channel 601.

 

Sunday

13:00-16:30

First session of the final, available on BBC Red Button Freeview 601.

 

19:00-22:00

First session of the final, available on BBC Red Button Freeview 601.

Aldi – Winter Advocaat Reviewed!

Hello all, time for another drinks review courtesy of Aldi, and it’s new territory for me…  Thanks for all of your positive feedback regarding my extra reviews alongside the sport, the good news is there is more to come!  More album reviews, more audiobooks, and some more drinks too!

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Lindsey Davies Comedian Profile

Time now to profile a comedian who is based not far away from where I grew up – I saw an article or two about Lindsey Davies in my Mum and Dad’s local papers (incidentally I did school work experience at the Leigh Reporter back in 1997, happy days!).  One such article is here, from the Manchester Evening News of all places.  Read it here – http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/business/business-news/having-laugh-mum-who-sells-12262286

So, I thought it would be nice to interview Lindsey for the blog here…  we start by asking Lindsey more information about ‘Mr Wrong’, her first novel which was published a couple of years ago.

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Picture Courtesy of Lindsey Davies

 

Chris:

So Lindsey, how long did it take you to write your first book?

 

Lindsey:

The first book was intermittent. Started it after a break-up in 2007 and left it for five years. When I picked it up again it was written in three months.

 

Chris:

Ok… do you have any tips for budding authors?

 

Lindsey:

Tips for budding authors? Well, I’d say put it on paper and see where it takes you. All you need is an idea, characters, beginning middle and end. Of course, spell-check is essential. Oh, and patience. Definitely patience. I find a glass of wine/gin helps deal with the stress of writer’s block.

 

Chris:

Like the sound of wine to go with writing – must try that!  Next… what can readers expect to see when they are you at a stand up gig?

 

Lindsey:

My stand up gigs are definitely adult only and my set is generally based around where I live, my mother, children and my terrible dating record. It’s a mixture of gags, crass comments and observational, sometimes alternative humour.

 

Chris:

Sounds good.  Who makes you laugh?

 

Lindsey:

Ok, growing up I was heavily influenced by Rik Mayall and my favourite comedians today are Ricky Gervais and Stewart Lee. There are also acts on the circuit who make me cry with laughter, such as Steve Harris and Sam Harland. Also too many to mention.

 

Chris:

Rik Mayall was a legend – sorely missed.  Me and my family would laugh our heads off hysterically at ‘Bottom’ every single week, over and over again.  So where can people are you perform stand up over the coming weeks and months?

 

Lindsey:

I’ve got a big gig coming up at the Laurel and Hardy museum in Ulverston and hosted a comedy night in Dec at The Albion in Warrington. Just finished an amazing gig on the P&O Ferry to Amsterdam – my favourite weekend thus far.
You can see Lindsey perform live at the Hot Water Comedy Club in Liverpool on February 27th – check out here for more information, well worth a look https://www.hotwatercomedy.co.uk/event/314/#event

And, you can purchase Lindsey’s first book, ‘Mr Wrong’ right here from Amazon – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mr-Wrong-Lindsey-Davies/dp/1908586516/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1486390878&sr=8-1&keywords=lindsey+davies+mr+wrong

Chris

 

 

Vinyl Review – Average White Band

Time now for another vinyl review courtesy of Demon Records.  This time, we’re looking at Average White Band – and their ‘Access All Areas’ vinyl release.

From Demon: The Average White Band, a group of Scotsmen playing American soul and funk music, came together in the late Sixties and topped the US chart in 1974. A version of the band led by bassist Alan Gorrie tours to this day while guitarist Hamish Stewart went on to be Paul McCartney’s musical right hand man. This hour-long TV showcase from the Rockstage series, filmed by Central Television at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal in 1980, catches the classic AWB line-up in their prime. It includes that years UK Number 12 dance smash ‘Let’s Go Round Again’, album title track ‘Atlantic Avenue’, transatlantic hit ‘Queen Of My Soul’ and much more.

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Chris: Was it really 1980 when ‘Let’s Go Round Again’ got to number 12 in the UK charts?  It sure was.  And right here, on this record, you can hear that classic, as well as more from the band’s back catalogue.  Seven tracks in total on this vinyl release (on the CD release there is nine tracks, so two tracks edited out for the vinyl release… you can see the full nine tracks at the You Tube link above).  ‘Our Time Has Come’ and ‘I’m The One’are the two tracks missing here sadly.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve not heard the band’s back catalogue before, it’s really ‘easy listening’.  Plenty of great, upbeat numbers, on hearing them, it’s surprising the band never achieved much chart success in this country.  The audio quality of this 1980 concert is good for its age.  Check it out today – a great little addition to your vinyl collection.

Track Listing:

  1. Atlantic Avenue
  2. When Will You Be Mine
  3. Cloudy
  4. Kiss Me
  5. Queen Of My Soul (which reached 23 in the UK charts in 1976)
  6. For You, For Love
  7. Let’s Go Round Again