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Steve Ramm "Steve Ramm "Anything Phonographic"" RSS Feed (Phila, PA USA)
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World Is Ablaze
World Is Ablaze
3 used & new from $12.55

4.0 out of 5 stars Mason follows up "Blue Buccaneer" album from 2011 with another trip to the "high seas", October 22, 2014
This review is from: World Is Ablaze (Audio CD)
Singer Songwriter Tom Mason lives in Nashville but - at least over the last few years - he's not been what you'd expect from most Nashville writers/performers. He's not country nor is he what's commonly known as "Americana". Mason is into what can best be described as "Pirate Sea Shanties". For his 2011 album "The Blue Buccaneer", he named is group - what else? - The Blue Buccaneers. And that same group is back for this newest 44-minute album which is basically a song-cycle about pirates and riding the high seas and looking for buried treasure. The accordion is prominent here and so is the violin. And there is a "Celtic" basis to much of the music.

Mason's always had great graphics for his packaging and the cover illustration here by Jeff Thorneycroft (he's a member of the band too and plays bass, bagpipes, banjo and does some backing vocals) is another fine example. Where the packaging falls a bit short this time is that there is no text on the four panels of the digipak except for a list of the song titles, the names of the musicians and a 23-word thank you to fans. I wish that Mason had included the lyrics or at least a summary of the "story" here to put it in perspective. Yes, I like the music - I've always liked Mason's songs (though I thought the Pirate theme was to be a theme for just one album. (I've seen him play with other Nashville musicians over the last few years and know he has a wider range of songs.)

So, if you liked the "Blue Buccaneer " album, you'll certainly like this. And, honestly, there is no one out there new writing "new" sea shanties.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ra,,
"Anything Phonographic"


Reasonable Amount of Trouble
Reasonable Amount of Trouble
Price: $14.82
29 used & new from $12.22

5.0 out of 5 stars 70s folk legend mixes pop nostalgia and new self-penned songs for his final album, October 21, 2014
It's been many years since I heard the name of singer/songwriter Jesse Winchester . He was a big among the folk scene in the 1970s with songs like "Brand New Tennessee Waltz" and "Yankee Lady", and I hadn't really kept up with his career much after the 1980s. But last April I read an obituary for him and this summer I heard that Jim Musselman's Appleseed label (home of David Bromberg's recent releases) was issuing Winchester's last album. The 12-track, 42-minute album came a few weeks ago and I've been playing it a lot. For someone who is sadly no longer with us to perform, this is a really "happy" album, if that is the right word.

Most - if not all of the songs are upbeat and two have an accordion to keep the beat while Winchester reminds us to "Don't Forget To Boogie" (we won't Jesse!) and even "Everyday I Have The Blues" is not so dour. More surprises come when you listen to the three "cover" songs here. These are songs you'd not expect on a "folk album". The Cascades' "Rhythm of the Rain", sung by a guy with a guitar? "Devil or Angel" as piece of Americana? And the doo wop song "Whispering Bells" - one of the first 45s I bought in the 1950s - on any album after the 1960s. It's a great mix.
If you remember Winchester from his early years. you'll want to see what he was singing and writing as he approached age 70. If you are new to him, check out some samples. An fine album.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"


Dick Cavett's Watergate
Dick Cavett's Watergate
DVD ~ .
Price: $22.98
9 used & new from $12.49

5.0 out of 5 stars WONDERFUL - reminder of how Dick Cavett was able to participate in reporting American History on his Late Night show, October 21, 2014
This review is from: Dick Cavett's Watergate (DVD)
In the "Late Night Talk Show" competitions in the 1970s and 80s one man stood out among the rest as being the guy who got the best celebrities and newsmakers. That was Dick Cavett. There are a few - not as many as I would like - DVD volumes of some of his interviews on the market. Though not a full volume of his ABC - and later PBS - talk show, this all-too-brief DVD shows how articulate Cavett was (and still is). He rarely had a guest who was promoting a new movie or selling something. They were there to talk - frankly and intelligently).

2014 marks the 40th Anniversary of the Watergate break-in and subsequent investigation and the resignation of Richard Nixon as President of the US. What this show - which aired on PBS but - thanks to PBS Home Video - can now be made available in schools and libraries (and it should) does in just 58 minutes is to present a summary of the events from beginning to end using clips from Cavett shows as well as include new recent comments from, not only Cavett himself, but from Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein -(who broke the story), John Dean and the former Director of the Nixon Library. Not only did folks like Sen. Ted Kennedy, President Gerald Ford, and author Gore Vidal appear on the Cavett show but he was able to take his show to the Senate investigation room to interview the Committee head, Senator Sam Ervin and others. This is all laid out in the order of the events and there is not a dull moment here.

This is a piece of American history that needs to be remembered and the program is at the right length for both classroom use and anyone who wants to see why Cavett's show was a must see in many homes - including mine.
There are no special bonuses but there is subtitle option.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"


OT:OUR TOWN. A Famous American Play in an Infamous American Town
OT:OUR TOWN. A Famous American Play in an Infamous American Town
DVD ~ Catherine Borek
Price: $11.50
44 used & new from $3.49

5.0 out of 5 stars A must see for those interested in Theatre Education - and anyone else who likes a good documentary, October 16, 2014
I'm JUST coming to this terrific film from 2005 which I found in the catalog of Film Movement - a company which "mines" the film festivals around the world and then releases them by both subscription and by individual titles. I see there are lots of accolades here already but I want to add my kudos as well.

Director Scott Hamilton Kennedy learned about the drama teacher in a Compton, California high school which hadn't mounted a play in 20 years. In just over one month she was able to find 21 kids in this poverty stricken single-parent (or no parent!) community and produce the unlikeliest of plays - Thornton Wilder's classic "Our Town" which takes place in 1902. Could the kids - and the audience relate to the story. I won't be giving a spoiler by saying that that can but it's the journey to get to opening night that fills the 77 minutes in this film. This is a film for anyone interested in theater, community theatre, education in impoverished communities and - well - anyone who wants to be enlightened and entertained.

Kennedy incorporates actual footage of the a 1977 production of Our Town staring Hal Holbrook, Barbara Bel Geddes, Robby Benson and other stage luminaries, as inserts in the film.

The film is in standard 4:3 aspect - not wide screen.

There are a bunch of bonuses on the DVD including the Director's commentary (which I have not listened to yet) plus deleted scenes and follow-up footage from successive productions at the school. One of the most fascinating bonuses is the section on updates of the students who were in the cast. Some of this will surprise you; they did me.

The DVD from Film Movement includes - like all their others - an award winning short film. This one is titled "Border" and incorporates the song "Imagine" by John Lennon. It's only 9 minutes - actually closer to seven with long end credits - and, honestly, didn't grab me. But, heck, it's a bonus.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"


Republic of Doyle, Season 2
Republic of Doyle, Season 2
DVD ~ Allan Hawco
Price: $21.99
11 used & new from $16.94

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of DVD- Great characters - sexy women - and gorgeous scenery make this Canadian mystery series fun - NO spoliers here, October 14, 2014
This review is from: Republic of Doyle, Season 2 (DVD)
If you've come to this review the right way - but searching for the title - you should already have seen Season One of this fun detective series produced for Canadian TV - and released on DVD by RLJ under their Acorn imprint. (If not, I highly suggest that you start with Season One.). So you know the Doyles and at least a few of the women in Jake Doyle (played by Allan Hawco, who is also the Executive Director). A few new women come into his life in the 13 episodes in this season.
I loved Season One a lot - see my review on Amazon - not because of the crimes being solved but the interaction of Jake and his dad and his brother - who gets more time this season. I also fell in love with the scenery. The show is filmed in St. John Newfoundland and often filmed right on the streets of the quaint Canadian Martime province. So much so, that I recently returned from a cruise which stopped in Newfoundland (but, unfortunately in Corner Brook, not in St. Johns)
Eaxch episode in this season has a new crime for the Doyles to solve and they always do. But the crimes are not important. It's the way you take Jake, his family - both blood and extended -into your hearts that matters. At the end of Season Two, some loose ends are tied up - but a few new ones will carry over to Season 3. (Yes, the series goes on - for a few more seasons, but there is no date set yet for the US release. I can wait, I know it's coming).

Each episode runs about 45 minutes because the commercials have been deleted. But - even though it aired on Canadian commercial TV - there is graphic violence (I'd call it moderate) as well as some explicatives (mostly the s-word).
The DVD has bonuses too. There are three - not very important - behind the scenes featurettes (8 minutes total) that show how they rig explosions and car crashes. There are also full length episode commentaries on three of the episodes. (I have not watched those yet).

So, if you've seen Season One and liked it, I highly recommend Season Two. And this is the kind of show that is even more fun when binge-watching 2-3 episodes at a time. A few do have cliff-hangers that will keep you going.
See, no real spoilers - they are no fun with a mystery series.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"


At The Ryman
At The Ryman
Price: $15.88
25 used & new from $10.32

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of the Deluxe DVD/CD combo package. Great show by great band! The bonuses are just okay, October 13, 2014
This review is from: At The Ryman (Audio CD)
With 43 NUMBER ONE single hits, multiple Grammys and CMA and other awards, the trio of Randy, Jeff and Teddy - best known as Alabama - are not only total entertainers, but they are still together as original members after 45 years! That's saying something. And to watch the trio (with backup musicians) on the DVD portion of this combo set is to see the joy they have found in all these years. You know their hits and many of them - well 17 of them - are here performed by the band and the next generation of country artists as guests on stage at the historic Ryman auditorium.

Eagle Rock has packaged the event in multiple formats. You can get the DVD, The double CD package, the "deluxe" combo with both (What I got) and even vinyl for those who want to go back to the "early days" . If I had to choose just one - because of price - I'd take the DVD but the combo pack makes it possible to listen when not near your DVD player.

The cool think about the three guys is that, not only can they sing, they all play amazingly. Whether guitar, bass or fiddle ("You gotta have a fiddle in the band", as the first song goes.

I enjoyed the guest artists reactions as they played with the band. They were not the stars; the band was. And, honestly, the DVD has better sight lines than if you were there at the Ryman ("the Mother Church of Country Music") because it appears that most of the audience there stood at their seats during the show. The camera work has great close-ups though - I guess it's personal opinion of mine - I thiought that there were way too many quick cuts with the camera.

The DVD features the 90-=minute conter plus some bonus features that total 28 minutes. These are interviews with the guest artists recorded the night of the concert. Most of them are accolades to the band and how they influenced them. After a while these become repetitive. And a few of the performers (Jason Aldean , in particular) use the phrase "you know" after nearly ever sentence! He's not alone, but is the worst offender. He can certainly sing and play but I would have appreciated it if the DVD's producer tried to edit out some of those. Carrie Underwood seems to have her conversation techniques under control Okay, fans of Aldean and Luke Bryan are probably not going to care. They are "fans". But, the supplemental material is something you'll only watch once.

So, yes, I've played the DVD and the CDs and love the set. I wonder who the band will have as their "Friends" for the 50th anniversary release in 2019. Should be interesting.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful!

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"


At The Ryman
At The Ryman
DVD ~ Alabama & Friends
Price: $13.48
29 used & new from $7.92

5.0 out of 5 stars Review of the Deluxe DVD/CD combo package. Great show by great band! The bonuses are just okay, October 13, 2014
This review is from: At The Ryman (DVD)
With 43 NUMBER ONE single hits, multiple Grammys and CMA and other awards, the trio of Randy, Jeff and Teddy - best known as Alabama - are not only total entertainers, but they are still together as original members after 45 years! That's saying something. And to watch the trio (with backup musicians) on the DVD portion of this combo set is to see the joy they have found in all these years. You know their hits and many of them - well 17 of them - are here performed by the band and the next generation of country artists as guests on stage at the historic Ryman auditorium.

Eagle Rock has packaged the event in multiple formats. You can get the DVD, The double CD package, the "deluxe" combo with both (What I got) and even vinyl for those who want to go back to the "early days" . If I had to choose just one - because of price - I'd take the DVD but the combo pack makes it possible to listen when not near your DVD player.

The cool think about the three guys is that, not only can they sing, they all play amazingly. Whether guitar, bass or fiddle ("You gotta have a fiddle in the band", as the first song goes.

I enjoyed the guest artists reactions as they played with the band. They were not the stars; the band was. And, honestly, the DVD has better sight lines than if you were there at the Ryman ("the Mother Church of Country Music") because it appears that most of the audience there stood at their seats during the show. The camera work has great close-ups though - I guess it's personal opinion of mine - I thiought that there were way too many quick cuts with the camera.

The DVD features the 90-=minute conter plus some bonus features that total 28 minutes. These are interviews with the guest artists recorded the night of the concert. Most of them are accolades to the band and how they influenced them. After a while these become repetitive. And a few of the performers (Jason Aldean , in particular) use the phrase "you know" after nearly ever sentence! He's not alone, but is the worst offender. He can certainly sing and play but I would have appreciated it if the DVD's producer tried to edit out some of those. Carrie Underwood seems to have her conversation techniques under control Okay, fans of Aldean and Luke Bryan are probably not going to care. They are "fans". But, the supplemental material is something you'll only watch once.
So, yes, I've played the DVD and the CDs and love the set. I wonder who the band will have as their "Friends" for the 50th anniversary release in 2019. Should be interesting.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful!

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"


Heidi
Heidi
DVD ~ Wally Cox
Price: $27.98
8 used & new from $21.78

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 59 years later this TV musical makes its DVD debut - Natalie Wood, Wally Cox, Marionettes and more. REAL family entertainment., October 13, 2014
This review is from: Heidi (DVD)
This is another gem from "TV's Golden Age" (the 1950s) thanks to the folks at VAI (and the Library of Congress, from which the print used for this release was sourced). Almost 55 years from the date that this TV musical aired on NBC - on "Max Liebman Presents" - it is now on DVD for the first time. (Honestly, I don't know that it was acer available on commercial home video in any form prior to now.)

The charming story of "Heidi" - based on the book by Johanna Spyri - is full of great credentials. The script was co-written by playwright Neil Simon (who was writing for Sid Ceasar's "Your Show of Shows" at the same time) though don't expect Simon's usual humor. This is not a comedy. The original songs (using the music of Robert Schumann as themes) has lyrics by Carolyn Leigh and music by Clay Warnick. The cast includes such veterans as Elsa Lanchester, Jo Van Fleet, Wally Cox (coming off of his hit TV series "Mister Peepers" - and actually dancing - AND doing a cartwheel!), and the young Natalie Wood, in a performance that occurred just weeks before her step to stardom in the film "Rebel Without a Cause" ! Wood doesn't have the biggest role here - nor does Cox - but both make the most of their screen time. The star - in the title role - Jeannie Carson went on to a long TV career, She (as well as Cox) seem a bit old for the characters they play but, hey, this is sort of a "fairy tale" anyway. And I don't wan to forget the comic interlude featuring the marionettes of Bill and Cora Baird; a nice bonus for those who remember them on TV in the 1950s (I do!).

The kinescope print (a film of the TV broadcast) is in really nice shape - no scratches and the only "lighting issues"- a few washed out spots were caused by the stage lighting in the production, not in the filming or preservation. It is - of course- in black and white in 4:3 standard screen aspect.

None of the songs ever went on to be "hits" so you've probably never heard any of them unless you saw the original TV airing. (An EP recording on a 45 RPM release was issued - a copy of the cover is shown on the 4 page insert in the package. ) Speaking of the inseert, VAI did a nice job with this too. 2 of the panels advertise other similar VAI releases, one side lists each of the 25 "chapters" on the disc- so you can skip to the musical numbers directly, and there is a VERY informative essay by George Dansker on the shows history and impact which fills the fourth panel.

When it aired - the show ran 90 minutes and was sponsored by Oldsmobile. There were only 3 commercial breaks. The commercials are excised here in the feature presentation but added as a bonus feature (approx 6 minutes). The first is actually the "Introduction" to the story.

I see this DVD has having multiple audiences. First, a memory for those who remember the production. Next, for music theatre fans. And, last, but not least, for families to watch with their young children (that's why it was originally created). The book is still read by young girls and the songs are well written. No, there's not the flash of Disney color and the spare set design of the Swiss Alps is no match for "The Sound of Music", but it's a good way for parents (actually grandparents) to explain to their grandchildren what TV was like when they were kids. Match this up with the release last year of "Babes In Toyland" from VAI and you have the makings of a great weekend of family entertainment for the whole family.

I'm not sure what's next from the Max Liebman archive at the Library of Congress, but I, for one, am waiting with anticipation!

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"


Good Road to Follow
Good Road to Follow
Price: $11.88
28 used & new from $7.10

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Three Roads - 3 EPS - Mix `em up - and take a new route with the "Oats" (Oates)in "Whole Oats", October 11, 2014
This review is from: Good Road to Follow (Audio CD)
I've loved hometown boy John Oates and his former partner Daryl Hall since their first LP album - simply titled "Whole Oats" (Local radio still plays the "Fall in Philadelphia" track every October/November!). I've probably followed Daryl's solo career more than John's but recently received this CD and was surprised - as many were - to see that there were THREE CDS in the package - each with 5 songs. This is a "concept"- and it works - to a point. If your CD player is on the other side of your listening room, it means having to get up every 17-20 minutes and put in the next CD to follow the "rood". I guess Oates could have just placed a "silent track" - say 30 seconds - between the "roads" but, that was his decision.

The track info on the trifold digipak does reveal that the tracks were recorded on different dates with different personnel. No lyrics are included nor is there an "artist's statement" as to the album's concept. That would have been helpful for those who don't want to dig deeper (It's probably on his web site).

Anyway, there is a lot of the Hall & Oates sound here and I'm enjoying the album. I dropped a star mainly because of the pain of having to get up and switch CDs. (this is probably not relevate for the MP3 version of the album. It should be noted that - even though there are three discs in the package the album is priced actually less than most current CDs with one disc.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"


ABBA: The Treasures
ABBA: The Treasures
by Ingmarie Halling
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $29.38
49 used & new from $17.19

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A "memory" box for ABBA fans - full of surprise envelopes with repro memorabilia, October 11, 2014
This review is from: ABBA: The Treasures (Hardcover)
Continuing there series of "Treasures" book - they did one on The Who and Pink Floyd in the past, Carlton Books has finally gotten to the fans of ABBA - who's music is still playing on Broadway in Mamma Mia. This is a "hands on" book for ABBA fans. Think of it as an extension of an ABBA paper doll book, but with higher quality binding and more text. Ayes, there is lots of text her by the authors - one the person responsible for all the band's costumes and the other considered the leading authority on the band.

The 12 x12 book is only 80 pages - but that is deceiving. Every few pages contain a "pocket" with repro documents and repro memorabilia. There's a Backstage Pass, a set list, and posters. The pockets (or envelopes) are not marked with their contents so the book becomes surprise packages for ABBA fans.

I'm not as big an ABBA fan as most who will get this book, but I can see how the true fan will want a copy. The only thing really missing here is a sound chip that would play as you move through the book - or maybe CD with some exclusive content, but heck, any ABBA fan has a pile of their CDS (Lps?) to use to make their own soundtrack.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"


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