Profile for Steve Ramm > Reviews

Browse

Steve Ramm's Profile

Customer Reviews: 2006
Top Reviewer Ranking: 57
Helpful Votes: 15506




Community Features
Review Discussion Boards
Top Reviewers

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Steve Ramm "Steve Ramm "Anything Phonographic"" RSS Feed (Phila, PA USA)
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
Mr. Turner [Blu-ray]
Mr. Turner [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Timothy Spall
Price: $31.48

5.0 out of 5 stars Review of Bluray release – including bonus features., April 28, 2015
This review is from: Mr. Turner [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
As I post this review of the BLURAY version of this wonderful Mike Leigh film, I see that there are already 10 reviews posted here – though the BD and DVD release date is not until next week – May 5th. (I was provided a screener by the distributor in order to post an honest review.)That is because Amazon has a policy of grouping all reviews of all formats of a film (theaters, streaming, DVD and BD0 together and listing them on ALL the format listings. Since DVDs and BDs often have “Bonus Features” (This one does) that are not even on the “streaming” version, I always suggest that potential customers sort by “Newest First” (there is such an option) and then also look at the format that the reviewer is discussing. With that said, I’ll concentrate on the BD (with a comment on the DVD as well).

I saw the film – Mr. Turner – on a large screen during its theatrical run and loved it. The “recreation” of scenes from Turner’s paintings was made for the large screen. I was concerned it might not have the same impact on my 42-inch flat screen television at home. Now that I’ve had the opportunity to watch it on my TV, I can say I shouldn’t have been concerned. Many of Turner’s paintings were not huge (though many were!) and the quality of the BD image on my screen is high. And, I was able to hit the “pause” button at various points to marvel at the photography – something you can’t do in a theater. Also the film is long – at just under 2 ˝ hours – so you can watch in segments.

There are significant bonus features on both the DVD and BD. Both have a commentary by writer/director Mike Leigh, one deleted scene (just a minute long and of no real importance) and an excellent 31-minute featurette titled “The Many Colours of Mr. Turner” in which you will learn – among many other things – that the film was not “scripted” in advance of production. Leigh writes as “he goes” and writes the dialogue during rehearsals! You’ll also learn that CGI (to recreate the light and shadows of Turner’s paintings was rarely used. And, finally, the story is based – mostly – on fact, though the sexual relationship that Turner had with his housekeeper was fiction – added by Leigh.

The BD release adds one more bonus featurette on the Cinematography of the film. This is 16 minutes long and features comments from the cast, the producer, and costume and production designers plus the Director of Photography. It’s nice, but not essential. If you have an HD TV though, yiu ight want to go for the BD because of a higher resolution image. (After all this film is about an ARTIST!)

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”


Me Oh My
Me Oh My
Price: $15.98

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Country? Bluegrass? Americana? This group fills all those genres in an album I can’t stop playing, April 27, 2015
This review is from: Me Oh My (Audio CD)
I can’t, for the life of me, understand why I haven’t posted a review of this fabulous new CD from the Asheville, NC-based quintet, The Honeycutters, yet, here on Amazon. I’ve had it for over a month (I received an advance copy from their label) and I must play it a few times a week. It’s that good! But, I’ll rectify my oversight and get this review up now.

Like another favorite Americana/bluegrass/country band, The Hot Club of Cowtown, the Honeycutters are led by a woman who can write great songs. Guitarist Amanda Anne Platt – a founding member, wrote all 14 songs on this CD and sings lead vocal too. From the first track - “Jukebox” – to the closer (“A Life For You”) this is a perfect album of tunes that – in most cases will have you dancing around the room (or at least tapping yiur toes). There are songs here (“Hearts of Men”) that sound “familiar” (in a good sort of way) but which are newly composed. With pedal steel, dobro and bass, the group is based in country/bluegrass. But they embellish the music with guests playing organ, harmonica, and even trumpet, on some of the tracks.

This is their third album, though it’s the first I’ve heard. Based on this one, I’m gonna head back and check out their earlier catalog.\
The CD comes packed in a six-panel digipak. Though the musical performances are all five-star, the packaging was – at least for me – a big letdown, and could have been so much more useful. While the track list fills one panel and the band is shown on a front cover photo, one panel is fully devoted to “thank you’s” (this album was funded through Kickstarter) and another is just blank (not even a photo or graphic image). It would have been great to let buyers (other than fans who funded the album and know the band) know more about them – and, of course, the lyrics would be nice too. I’m not deducting any stars in my rating but encouraging the band to rethink their package design for the next album (which I’ll certainly be looking forward to).

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”


Sharon Isbin: Troubadour [Blu-ray]
Sharon Isbin: Troubadour [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Sharon Isbin
Price: $24.99
17 used & new from $18.65

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 53-minute Public TV documentary on the first female classical guitar player plus 30 minutes of full performances., April 23, 2015
This Bluray disc presents for home video a 53-minute documentary about "the first woman of the classical guitar" which was produced for American Public Television (not PBS) in 2014 that aired on regional public TV stations. The BD (and DVD) add a few bonus features and was probably offered as a "pledge premium" when it aired on TV.

Much of Isbin's story is told in her own words - though what appears to be a lengthy single interview. There are also comments from modern classical composers ( John Corigliano, Tan Dun, Joan Tower) as well musician/composers from the folk (Mark O'Connor), jazz (Stangley Clarke) and rock fields (Steve Vai). The story of her career (from childhood till the current day) is told chronologically and includes excerpts from performances. More time is spent on the years before 2000 but there are some recent events included.

Near the beginning there is a brief comment from the late pop singer Lesley Gore (who is only identified by name) as well as from singer/songwriter Janis Ian. I wondered why these two women were here. About 40 minutes into the documentary Isbin talks about her "coming out" as an openly gay woman and, suddenly the reasons for the inclusion of Gore and Ian made some sort of sense. Personally, I felt the need to discuss Isbin's sexual orientation were unnecessary. This certainly did not have any basis for her talent. (And, honestly, how much classical guitar music do you think Lesley Gore listened to?).

As I noted, only excerpts of Isbin compositions are included in the core program. The bonus features include five complete performances that were shown as excerpts as well as three additional interviews (film composer Howard Shore, conductor Leonard Slatkin and one more.) The performances total about 22 minutes and the interviews total eight minutes).

For those interested in knowing more about this talented woman who, not only created the Guitar Study Program at Julliard, but still heads it, this is a well photographed and compiled film. Another fine release from VAI Video.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"


Sonny & Cher - I Got You Babe
Sonny & Cher - I Got You Babe
DVD ~ Sonny & Cher
Price: $11.99
23 used & new from $9.88

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars IMPORTANT INFO - This is a Region 2 DVD (NTSC) and will not play on US DVD or BD players - See comment on contents, April 23, 2015
THis is more an INFORMATIONAL review than a "rated" review which I usually post on Amazon.
There seems to have been a problem with importing and packaging this DVD and the distributor has acknowledged it. Despite the listing and the package info this is a REGION 2 (PAL) DVd and will NOT play in US DVD or BD players. YES it WILL play in yiu PC's DVD drive.
Much of it is composed of music performances taken from S&C's TV series and these are supplemented by Black and white clips from other TV shows (not identified). The image and sound on the color "S&C Good Times" clips are fine and fun to watch. (Hence the 3 star rating). The B&W ones are not up to that quality.

The distributor (who sent me the review copy) informed me that they would let me know when the NTSC versions (Region 0) are available and I'll update this review. I n the meantime - if you are in the US- I'll suggest you hold off buying it. You'll only find yourself having to return it to Amazon. And be aware of this if purchasing from a third-party seller.

I hope you found this info helpful.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 23, 2015 2:02 PM PDT


Masterpiece: Mr. Selfridge - Season 3 [Blu-ray]
Masterpiece: Mr. Selfridge - Season 3 [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Jeremy Piven
Price: $27.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review of Bluray - NO SPOILERS (well one has an Alert) - Lots of tensions in the Post (WW I) Years, April 22, 2015
First off, as you may know if you read my other Amazon reviews - I hate reviews with spoilers - so you won't see any in this review. Just helpful comments, I hope. Next, you should be aware that Amazon groups ALL reviews of ALL formats (TV, Streaming, DVD and BD) together so you will see reviews of the TV version (which was slightly edited for PBS) and streaming versions (which do not include "Bonus Features"). I always suggest that potential customers sort the reviews by "Most Recent" (there is an option) and to see what format is being reviewed. Now on to Season 3.... This review is of the BD version - I received a copy in advance for review. It will be released on May 5, 2015

If you've come to this review, most likely you have seen Seasons One and Two of this series produced, not by the BBC, but by the British commercial network ITV, so you know that this is a fictional melodrama based on a factual book. Nearly all the characters were real people and most of the events are also. As Season Two ended, many of the men in London including Selfridge's staff were going off to war. Season Three jumps forward to 1918 and the end of the war. This is nearly 10 years later. While Mr. Selfridge's wife, Rose, had died, and their three children are now grown, most of the rest of the cast seems not to have aged - which is odd. Mr. Crabb, Mr. Edwards and Mr. Grove look just like they did in Season 2. Not a major drawback - just an observation.

This time a few new characters are added (in the first 15 minutes of Episode One, so telling you is not IMHO a "spoiler"). Daughter Rosalie is now married (to the son of a Russian czarina) and there may be a new female "love interest" for Harry. But Harry's nemesis Lord Luxley is back to make Harry's life miserable and the British Mafia (as well as the Police captain) are is forcing club owners split their profits. Yes, things go on in the store and there are some "surprise" departures, but there is more about the Selfridge "family" this time.

"Possible Spoiler" ALERT: Skip this paragraph if you have any concern. I spread out my viewing over 3 or 4 nights and was hoping that all ends would be tied up (well mostly) by the end of the 10 48 minute episodes. When I saw Season One, I never expected there to be a Season Two. And the writers left it so that Season One stood on its own. For Season Three, I guess they assumed there would be a Season Four. From what I've seen there are plans to have a Season 4 which would be the final season. As I said, I do not like "spoilers" but I do feel it an obligation to let you know there are quite a few "loose" ends as Season 3 ends. If it is important to you to have things all tied up, you should know that they won't be.

I like the many characters and so I concentrated on them and put aside the plot twists that make this a melodrama.

The Bluray includes one hefty "bonus feature". It is a 30 minute "behind the scenes" featurette which includes interviews with most of the key actors as well as the production team. There are some clips from the show but they are short and only add to the comments. I found this informative (though maybe a bit too much black slapping) and worth your time. But watch it AFTER you have seen the season.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"


No Pier Pressure
No Pier Pressure
Price: $11.49
55 used & new from $5.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of the "Standard Edition" - One of Wilson's best "solo" projects, April 22, 2015
This review is from: No Pier Pressure (Audio CD)
I've been a Beach Boys fan since the 1960s and make sure I get every Brian Wilson album when it is released. As other BB fans know, he can be inconsistent but is always worth at least a C+ rating. I felt his Disney and Gershwin tributes missed the mark because he was "interpreting" compositions of others; songs we were used to hearing. At least for me, Wilson's new compositions are what draw me in. The other weakness on Wilson's solo albums is that - honestly - his voice has long been damaged.

So, when I got this new release (I have the standard 13 track edition) I found that, by adding "guests" to join him on his new compositions, made this a delightful album. As others have pointed out here, there are two styles going on here. Some suggested two separate CDs should have been issued. But there is only 43 minutes of music here (is it a coincidence that this is right length to fit on a vinyl LP?) and so that wouldn't work.

As I write this review Spring has spring and Summer is coming soon. And listening to this CD - I've repeated it through three times already makes me feel the "warmth" as Wilson and the Beach Boys always did. It's all subjective, but, for me this is one of the better Brian Wilson solo (though it really isn't "solo") albums.

As a nice touch, the CD comes with a 16 page booklet with the lyrics to all the songs (there is one instrumental - with Mark Isham guesting).
I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"


John Wm. Macy's Sesame Gruyere CheeseCrisps, 4.5-Ounce Boxes  (Pack of 12)
John Wm. Macy's Sesame Gruyere CheeseCrisps, 4.5-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 12)
Price: $34.26
2 used & new from $23.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well balanced flavor, ALL NATURAL, and tasty too! - My favorite variety so far., April 21, 2015
I discovered this line of "Cheese Crisps" (in various varieties) while attending the New York Restaurant and Food Service Show in New York in March. There were many vendors there but, when I sampled a few of the crisps that Mr. Macy (yes, there is a John William Macy - and his photo is on the package) offered me to taste, I knew I wanted to try other varieties. He offered to send me some samples for an honest review here on Amazon and I accepted. I've tried a few of the samples (a number of them like cranberry cheddar - the only one I thought didn't "work" - are only available to restaurants) but this one - Sesame Gruyere - is sold in consumer boxes and is offered on Amazon. So far this is the best of those I've tasted (more will be reviewed here as I try them.). I like the fact that it's milder in cheese flavor and has a "natural taste". The package clearly states that there are no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. Inside the cardboard box is a foil sealed clear plastic tray with 45 "crisps". One serving consists of 10 crisps and has 130 calories and 6 gms of fat. But you don't need to eat 10 - I find 4 or 5 with a hot beverage is fine - so they are not that high in calories. And with REALL cheese yiu obviously get some fat. (but you also get 5 gm of protein and 8% of RDV of calcium). The crisps are sturdy enough not to break in the box - at least mine were all in whole crisps.

The package has a clearly marked (and easy to read) "Best if used by:" label.
So I give this a full five stars in both taste and transparency of ingredients. And, obviously, Mr. Macy trusts his product enough that he's willing to put his name (and face too!) on each box.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"


Carpenters - Legends In Concert
Carpenters - Legends In Concert
DVD ~ Carpenters
Price: $11.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Copied from TV in – maybe – 1976 – best part is Karen’s drum solo, April 21, 2015
Back in early 2012 I reviewed a Carpenters DVD titled “Carpenters - In Performance 1972”. It was 70 minutes long and apparently a concert from 1972 in Japan. It wasn’t an authorized release but still entertaining. The package said “The Broadcast Archives”.
Now – in 2015- comes this new DVD titled “Legends in Concert: Carpenters” and also says “The Broadcast Archives”. But this one is different. It runs about 50 minutes and – like the other one – has no beginning or end titles. You never see the audience so I can’t tell where the concert was held. It has the hits but also an interesting section I don’t remember seeing before (yes, the Carpenters experts will probably know more than me) with a scene recreated from the film “Grease”, a “Piano Picker Parody” with Richard and Karen doing a long drum solo. The images are dark in most places and the sound far from hi-fi.

What really surprised me was that about halfway through the screen image shows that this was recorded from a VCR. It even has the “Time” (12:00) and Date stamp (though not the year) and the counter number! It only lasts briefly but I’ve never seen this before on a commercial DVD. The short blub on the package says the performance is from 1976.

Normally I’d give this just 1 star but I raised it to two stars for the following reason: The Drum Medley is one I’d not seen before and I enjoyed watching Karen beat those drum. And there were one or two more “non hits” that I didn’t remember from other Carpenters DVDs. So I was entertained there. But, don’t expect high quality image or sound on this release. Know that going in. I’m guessing that completists may want it but, if this was recorded from a broadcast – which it obviously was – then there must be better copies out there (and without the VCR imprint.)

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”


The Record Store Book: Fifty Legendary and Iconic Places to Discover New and Used Vinyl
The Record Store Book: Fifty Legendary and Iconic Places to Discover New and Used Vinyl
by Mike Spitz
Edition: Paperback
Price: $21.74
36 used & new from $16.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A plethora (50 in total) Southern California record stores are captured in sharp color photos., April 18, 2015
I got this highly graphic 10x10 inch paperbound book, literally the day before this year’s Record Store Day. (Talk about timing!). The 223 pages – all in full color – document 450 different independent record store in Southern California. Photographer Mike Spitz started photographing these palaces of vinyl (yes, they sold CDs and cassettes and, probably, some old shellac 78s too) in 2011 and his collaborator, Rebecca Villaneda, interviewed the owners of each store for single page essays/introductions to each grouping of photos.
The book might have been more useful if Spitz had taken his camera a bit further out of his region (nearly all the store seem to have the “California Culture” imprint in their layouts. At each location Spitz captured, not just images of the store’s interior but images of the variety of Lp album covers and memorabilia on the walls. All the images are sharp and colorful and, I’m sure most record collectors (of which I am one of millions) will happily relate to the photos. I also think that, like me, they wish that their home town had as many of these stores as exist in SoCal.

One theme seems to resonate throughout the book. Nearly all these stores have, not only bines with records sorted by category, but unkempt piles of records waiting to be sifted through. But this is the fun of record collecting/hunting. It’s a search to find that one great title that all the other buyers who visit the shop have overlooked!

So, yes, I can recommend the book to vinyl collectors in general (4 stars) with an added star for those who know and have visited the stores. In a country where the “last record store standing” is now common, SoCal seems to have a plethora of them.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”


Leave Some Things Behind
Leave Some Things Behind
Price: $10.99
19 used & new from $5.48

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This bluegrass band from Virginia gets its lyrics from its leader but each member is a flawless musician., April 18, 2015
I’ve been a huge fan of the Steel Wheels since I first saw them (at that time - 2007 - they were called Trent Wagler and The Steel Wheels) at International Folk Alliance conference and wrote a glowing review of that CD. By the next year the changed the group’s name to just The Steel Wheels, though Wagler was still the chief songwriter and lead vocalist. They were back Folk Alliance this past February and were debuting songs from this new album. Okay, like any band, I’d prefer to see them play live (they wowed the crowd!) but with this Cd I can re-listen to the songs any time I want. The 49-minute album contains 14 tracks – two are instrumentals – and, with one exception, Wagler composed them all. Balancing out the instrumentals is the track, “Promised Land:, which the four guys sing a capella. And I love the harmonies on “Help Me”. I don’t know who programmed the album’s sequencing but “We’ve Got a Fire” is a great choice to lead off the CD.

The Wheels met when they were students at an Eastern Mennonite University in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Though there are some religious themes to some of the songs, they are universal in nature. These guys are, first and foremost, a bluegrass band.
The CD is packaged in a trifold digipak with the song and musician credits for each number on one panel, production credits and the inevitable “thanks” listings on another and a non-text graphic under the clear CD holder.

Sample a few tracks and see why I’m such a fan. Maybe you’ll become one too!

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20