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Steve Ramm "Steve Ramm - Anything Phonographic" RSS Feed (Phila, PA USA)
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Sabatier Predictive Oven Probe Thermometer, Black
Sabatier Predictive Oven Probe Thermometer, Black
Price: $36.81

5.0 out of 5 stars Like a mind reader, this thing really predicts when your meat is done, September 28, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I generally review entertainment products on Amazon but when Amazon offered this product in exchange for an objective review as part of its “Vine Reviewer” program (where they send the products to selected reviewers), I requested one since I do cook a lot!
For my whole life I’ve used two kinds of meat thermometers: The kind you leave in the meat and then check after the time the cookbook says and the “instant kind” that you insert after taking the meat out of the oven.

This unique one – which apparently has been around for years combines both and then “predicts” when the meat will be to your desired doneness.

I didn’t expect it to work but it does! At least after two tries. I’m a happy camper! The other reviews here go into more detail so I won’t repeat those comments.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”


Pioneers of African American Cinema (5 Discs) [Blu-ray]
Pioneers of African American Cinema (5 Discs) [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Paul Robeson
Price: $63.29
13 used & new from $54.29

5.0 out of 5 stars Almost 24 hours of rare material and a 78-page colorful book of notes make this history of early black filmmakers essential view, September 16, 2016
I’ve had this amazing boxed set for almost a month now and I’m still working my way through it. There is over 21 hours (!!) worth of material here and finding the time has been difficult but it’s worth it, and I’m sure I’ll be revisiting the set again and again. It reminds me a lot of a wonderful DVD set released by Kino (one of the top quality reissue companies for classic films) back in 2005 (before Bluray) titled “Edison: The Invention of the Movies”, which was a four-disc set with ultra-rare silent films with new music scores and bonus “featurettes” with commentary by film expert Charles Musser.

This set is five Blu-rays (more packed in on each disc and higher resolution” with full (or as full as is known to exist) of both silent and sound feature films made by African- American filmmakers – primarily Oscar Micheaux and Spencer Williams. They combed large collections around the world and the Museum of Modern Art to provide the best copies. And the musical sound tracks for the silent films is provided by solo piano, and orchestra as well as one by jazz drummer Max Roach and a few “remixes” from DJ Spooky. The bonuses include featurettes on restoration and commentary by the aforementioned Prof. Musser and Jacqueline Najuma Stewart. There are no “feature musicals” per se but these filmmakers almost always found a way to include a nightclub scene with jazz and blues performances to offset the (often) religious messages.

I want to also point out that this is not just a DVD or BD set. The box comes with a gorgeously illustrated 78-page booklet of essays and notes on each film. This is really a film course in a box on an overlooked part of the American movie culture.

Yes, it’s not an inexpensive set but there is so much here you will go back to it often and the production quality is superb.

I noted one reviewer (before me) lamented the inclusion of a film that was advertised by Kino to be included. I don’t know the reason it’s not here (maybe space, maybe quality of available print) but that’s certainly no reason to skip acquiring it. After all you have a FULL-days’ worth of material here (not to mention the book of notes”.

It’s been 11 years since the Edison set and I can hardly wait to see what in-depth collection Kino will come up with next.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”


Winter: The Complete Series
Winter: The Complete Series
DVD ~ Rebecca Gibney
Price: $32.49

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review of the DVD Version – NO SPOILERS HERE! – just useful info (I hope), September 16, 2016
This review is from: Winter: The Complete Series (DVD)
If you’ve read my other reviews of DVDs on Amazon, you will know that I hate “spoilers” – especially when it comes to mystery series, which I love. Way too many reviewers spoil the enjoyment by providing way too much info after THEY, themselves have enjoyed being surprised. You won’t find those in my reviews. At least I try.

The DVD will not be released until October 4,, 2016 . I was provided with an advance screener in exchange for an objective review.
Ironically this is the second DVD from Acorn which involves the disappearance ofa young woman (The other is the superior British series “The Disappearance”, which I really enjoyed

Winter is the last name of the female Detective Sergeant Eve Winter in this Australian TV crime series for the commercial Australian Broadcasting Company. (Hence the episodes of the “series” run from 42 to 47 minutes (allowing for commercial breaks.)

The pilot for the show was broadcast as one film “The Killing Field” and is the one about “missing girls”. This lead to the production of an eight-episode “series” following one new case which seems connected to an older “:cold case”. It all ties up in the end – so no “cliffhangers” – but the series wasn’t renewed. So you get both the pilot and the “first” season.

I liked the story and was trying to figure out (like the detectives here) “who committed the murder that starts the series. There are a lot of dead ends. The real killer is revealed at the end, but the way the script is written none of the clues you need come until at least the 7th (of 8) episodes and this , for me was a bit of a letdown). So I can’t give this DVD five stars but I did like the acting and, though the character of Winter (another blonde detective, like Helen Mirren’s character in “Prime Suspect”) seems to have her own internal demons (which are not revealed, I did like it.

None of the actors were folks I’ve seen before and this made it even better. \

There are the now-requisite sex scenes (under covers) but I don’t remember an nudity. There are graphically violent scenes and the periodic use of the graphic “S” word. The DVD is “not rated”.

Though the language is English and generally easy to hear, I found the option of easy-to-read English subtitles, helpful to me.

Before each episode plays there is a synopsis of what will happen. As with that kind of summary which some reviewers love to post, I suggest you ignore them. Each episode begins with a brief “recap” which will help, though the series is more enjoyable if you “binge” a few episodes at a time.
The DVD has no “special features”; just the pilot and the 8 episodes.

So that’s all I’m telling you about the show. As I said, if you like the other multi-episode mysteries from Acorn or on PBS Mystery, I think you’ll enjoy this one. It’s not as good as “The Disappearance”, but I’m glad I spent time with it. And thankful that there are no “loose ends” at the conclusion.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 28, 2016 9:46 AM PDT


The Disappearance
The Disappearance
DVD ~ François-Xavier Demaison
Price: $32.27
11 used & new from $27.77

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of the DVD Version of this French TV mystery – NO SPOILERS HERE! – just useful info (I hope), September 13, 2016
This review is from: The Disappearance (DVD)
If you’ve read my other reviews of DVDs on Amazon, you will know that I hate “spoilers” – especially when it comes to mystery series, which I love. Way too many reviewers spoil the enjoyment by providing way too much info after THEY, themselves have enjoyed being surprised. You won’t find those in my reviews. At least I try.

The DVD will not be released until September 2t, 2016 . I was provided with an advance screener in exchange for an objective review.
This mystery is not a repeating series – at least it’s not planned to be. It is, however, divided into 8 episodes which run from 42 to 55 minutes each. It was made for French/Belgian TV where the need to fill 20 minutes of commercials in each hour is not required. It is one long police case of the search for a pretty teenage girl who goes missing in a small town in France. It’s the kind of story where EVERY character has something to hide. No I’m not going to even tell you of the police (led by a new male detective and his female partner) find the girl. Even that info would affect how you experience the story.

If you’ve seen the British series, Broadchurch (which has been released in 2 seasons), you have an idea of the TYPE of story this is. I actually think it’s better. It is, however, in French but has easy to read English subtitles. The story moves slowly but for the better. There is a scene in Episode 5 where the characters are emotional but they don’t reveal the emotion in words, just in body language, breathing and the looks on their faces.
None of the actors were folks I’ve seen before and this made it even better.

The DVD has just one bonus feature: A Photo Gallery (a “bonus” I never quite understand why it’s there).

There is ONCE occurance of an expletive (the "S" word) in Frenbch and one brief (30 second) scene with a female topless and a shot of a male's naked "butt". There are grapgic violent images too.

So that’s all I’m telling you about the show. As I said, if you like the other multi-episode mysteries from Acorn or on PBS Mystery, I think you’ll enjoy this one. I certainly did!

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”


Motown: The Sound of Young America
Motown: The Sound of Young America
by Adam White
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $40.18
57 used & new from $32.13

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heavyweight (five pound!) volume is loaded with photos, covers and labels. But layout is as not “user-friendly” as it could be, September 13, 2016
Though Motown is an American company, this Huge (and heavy, at five pounds in weight) book was written and published in the UK (so expect some English spelling of words).

There was a lot of research done for it – and any real fan of Motown will want it – but it does have a few “issues” that bothered me, and may bother you. Nearly all of these revolve around the graphic design and layout of the book. The volume is large (and, as I siid, heavy), You will not find yourself sitting in an easy chair reading through the 400 pages. It needs to sit on a table.

As an “art book”, it is filled with “over 1,000 illustrations” in color and black and white. These run the gamut for two-page spreads to small 3x3 inch photos. And, I’m not sure how the publishers counted the “1,000” but there are many pages showing a dozen 45rpm record labels (in gorgeous color but whose titles are difficult to read without a magnifying glass.).

The photos all have caption but, in many cases they provided a few pages before, or, after the photo. You have to look for them. And the captions are (again) small. You’ll want to have a magnifying glass handy as you go through the book.

This is not just a picture book – there is a lot of text in it and I found it both cumbersome to try to read the text (which is in a hard to read font and not really dark enough to read easily).

Rather than being filled with company ephemera (contacts, catalogs, and things the consumer would not get to see, the illustrations are mostly artist photos (some for publicity, some taken by in house photographers) and color reproductions of album covers and 45 rpm records (not just the labels, but the whole 45. This forms a collector’s scrapbook.

So, I do like the book – hence 4 stars – and would recommend it for the Motown fan –but it would have been more user friendly. Yes, you can spend a few hours just looking at the “over 1,000 illustrations” (presumably with a stack of Motown CDs in, or by, your player) and, if you read the text, you’ll learn a lot about the company’s history ( with breaks to let your eyes get accustomed to the print), but be prepared for some heavy lifting.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”


TP-LINK AC1200 Wireless Wi-Fi Range Extender (RE350K)
TP-LINK AC1200 Wireless Wi-Fi Range Extender (RE350K)
Offered by ROSE deals
Price: $75.00
71 used & new from $59.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to set up (even for tech dummies) and excellent US tech support – at least for me. And the price is right, September 13, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I generally review entertainment products on Amazon but when Amazon offered this product in exchange for an objective review as part of its “Vine Reviewer” program (where they send the products to selected reviewers), I requested one since I do use a PC and have a Roku 3 floors down from my PC.

Last year Amazon sent me a similar TP-Link range extender (The RE450 K) and I have used it ever since to be able to watch TV shows on my Roku streaming device which is 3 floors below my PC and router in my house. It worked well and was fast.

This unit is one step below the 450 and so will be slower (and it is cheaper) but it is about half the size of the 450 and so doesn’t stand out as much. It also doesn’t have a large flashing red/blue light. This may matter to you depending on where your outlets are located.

And, in my case it made no real difference. (Note, I do not have a laptop or smart phone so I only needed the wifi for the Roku.

I am NOT a tekkie (that’s for sure) so I did use the easy set up instructions and was up in under 5 minutes. I did have some questions about comparing the two units so I called the toll free help line. It was answered quickly and I got Arlen in the US. He was very patient with me and answered my questions. We determined that either unit would work for me though – if I did not have an issue with the size or the large flashing light on the 450 model, that would be faster. (Of course it also costs more).

So my advice is to get this and try it. If you have questions you can call the toll-free number. If it still isn’t solving your problem you can always return to Amazon (if you bought directly from them) and get a faster model.
I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”


Lewis N Clark Travelsentry Indicator 3-Dial Combination Luggage Locks, Black
Lewis N Clark Travelsentry Indicator 3-Dial Combination Luggage Locks, Black
Price: $12.49

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent choice for a luggage combo lock (with a few MINOR differences from similar locks), September 13, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I generally review entertainment products on Amazon but when Amazon offered this product in exchange for an objective review as part of its “Vine Reviewer” program (where they send the products to selected reviewers), I requested one since I do travel a lot and use on luggage for my flights.
I’ve been using this type of combo lock for years and have a few different brands. This model is all metal (others have some plasic” and will last for a while – though I’m not 100% that it is rust resistant.

If you are considering this model I wanted to point out a few differences between this and others.
1. Because it is all metal it is heavier than other I have by almost ½ an ounce. This weighs in at 2.10 ounces.
2. It is a three digit combo. There are other ones I have that use four digits, which make it harder to crack the code
3. The is a special feature to let you know if the TSA (which has a tool to open such TSA approved locks) has opened the lock.

But these are minor. It still gets five-star rating from me.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”


Pele: Birth of a Legend
Pele: Birth of a Legend
DVD ~ Kevin de Paula
Price: $19.99
19 used & new from $14.40

5.0 out of 5 stars Review of the DVD version of this 2015 film on the amazingly brilliant Brazilian football (soccer star), September 12, 2016
This review is from: Pele: Birth of a Legend (DVD)
As I go to post this review I see there are over 300 reviews posted, most of which are based on the theatrical release or the streaming version. This is a review of the DVD version which will be released on September 20, 2016 by IFC Films. I was provided an advance copy in exchange for an objective review.

Let me start off by saying that I’m old enough to remember being a child when Pele won the World Cup for Brazil when he was only 17. And I’ve heard his name much of my life – but I learned a lot here. The film was produced by Ron Howard’s producing partner Brian Grazer for his Imagine Films company. Pele, himself, is an Executive Producer for the film.

The camerawork and editing is wonderful too. They used both actors and real athletes to perform the footwork needed to be a soccer player. The film was written and co-directed by two brothers and is completely in English. I did find that I was losing some of the words with the actors accents and so I found the “easy to read” English subtitles helpful.

The Music is by Indian composer AR Rahman whose native rhythms really mesh well with action of a ball being kicked swiftly.

The DVD adds a few bonuses to the 115 minute film. There is – in addition to the trailer – two “featurettes” One is titled “Behind the Scenes”, the other “The Making of…”. But both cover the same territory and together they don’t run more than five minutes. This was sort of a let down. I wanted to see more “behind the scenes” footage.

As others here have said, it’s hard to believe that the bio is just being made. This is a bio-pic, not a documentary. But I really enjoyed it.
I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”


3 Classic Albums Plus (Joan Baez / Joan Baez Vol 2 / In Concert - Part 1)
3 Classic Albums Plus (Joan Baez / Joan Baez Vol 2 / In Concert - Part 1)
5 used & new from $7.75

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 ½ hours of music from Baez’s first four albums at a bargain price., September 11, 2016
This double-CD collection consists on 3 ½ albums from folksinger Joan Baez. I say “3 ½” because the first disc includes six songs by Baez (which were he first recordings, before signing with Vanguard) on an album titled “Folksingers ‘Round Harvard Square”. The other two singers were Bill Wood and Ted Alevizos (where are THEY now?). The complete version of her self-titled debut for Vanguard, its follow-up “Vol. 2” and her “In Concert – Part 1” album fill out disc one and all of disc 2. There are 46 tracks with over 144 minutes (almost 2 ½ hours!) of music here. The sound is quite good.

Nearly all of the songs are “Public Domain” songs. It’s just Baez, her voice and her guitar on most tracks, with the recently-departed Fred Hellerman (original member of The Weavers) adding a second guitar on 8 tracks and The Greenbriar Boys adding vocals on two

Because of British copyright laws recordings to 1962 are no longer under copyright and can be released by independent labels. Baez’s “In Con Concert – Part 1” was released just before that cut-off date, allowing AVID to give the consumer an amazing amount of music for a budget price.

The 8-page booklet insert contains the track info in easy to read typeface. The remaining pages provide a scan of the back of the original 12-in vinyl Lps. As such – shrinking the size down from 12 inches square to 5 inches square, only the first album’s notes are readable without a magnifying glass. (I which Avid would provide the text and increase the insert pages. But – again – that adds to the cost.)

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”


Pet Sounds Classic Album [Blu-ray]
Pet Sounds Classic Album [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Beach Boys
Price: $17.99
17 used & new from $13.39

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful brand new 2016 BBC documentary on the Beach Boys classic – with a bonus section on “Good Vibrations”, September 10, 2016
This is one of TWO different music documentaries on Bluray that I got this week released by Eagle Vision.. (The other is “The Everly Brothers- Harmonies in Heaven”). (See separate review for that one).

Both documentaries were produced by the BBC (and aired on BBC4 in the UK). So, even though the Beach Boys are “An American Band”, all the interviews of those not directly involved in the recording of the original album (at eight different studios in California) – such as the living members of the BBS (and archival footage of Dennis speaking), musicians from “The Wrecking Crew” (Hal Blaine, Don Randi, the audio engineer, and co-lyricist to Brian Wilson, Peter Asher – the others are UK authors or critics. We even hear from (and see) 60s British pop star Helen Shapiro (remember her one US hit, “Walkin’ Back To Happiness”? I always loved it), who was on the concert bill with BBs in the 1960s.

The BD is part of an ongoing series titled “Classic Albums” that was produced by Isis Entertainment in the UK in the Early 70s (and which aired on the BBC and on VH1 in the 1970s and 80s. Eagle Vision released on DVD in the US). Each took a landmark album and covered it “track by track”! Most were an hour in length. I’m not certain, but I don’t think there has been a “Classic Albums: documentary in the last 25 years until this new 2016 one, created to acknowledge the 50th anniversary of “Pet Sounds”.

I learned a lot – and got to hear some great stories here and will now listen to the album with new insight.

For the US BD release Eagle Vision has added 32 minutes of additional bonuses. The first 10 minutes consist of a section which would not have been appropriate to include in the “Pet Sounds” doc. It’s a deconstruction of the recording of what may be the most creative record Brian Wilson ever produced – the single “Good Vibrations”. This sing was NOT on the “Pet Sounds” album so – until Eagle Vision starts a “Classic Singles” series, this is the way to get it out there. You’ll be amazed to hear how detailed that track is! The balance consists of two sound engineers (the original “Pet Sounds” guy and Mark Linett, who has been remastering the BB recordings, sitting at a console playing with the individual sounds to show how a record is made. This part will be a bit to tekkie for most folks. It was for me.

This BD (or DVD) is a must for any BB or Wilson fan and anyone who has ever considered “Pet Sounds” to be the landmark album it is.

Now it’s time for Eagle Vision and the BBC to give the “Classic Albums” treatment to albums from the 1980s onward.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful. (Note that it will be released on September 23, 2016. I received am advance screener in exchange for an objective review).

Steve Ramm
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 27, 2016 2:57 PM PDT


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