Amazon Vehicles Up to 80 Percent Off Textbooks Amazon Fashion Learn more Discover it $5 Albums Fire TV Stick Health, Household and Grocery Back to School Totes Amazon Cash Back Offer conj2 conj2 conj2  Amazon Echo  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Amazon Echo Starting at $49.99 All-New Kindle Oasis Kiss Rocks Vegas Shop Now STEM
Profile for Steve Ramm > Reviews

Browse

Steve Ramm's Profile

Customer Reviews: 2472
Top Reviewer Ranking: 56
Helpful Votes: 20795


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
Within the Whirlwind
Within the Whirlwind
DVD ~ Emily Watson
Price: $16.78
22 used & new from $10.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Polish/German “indie” by an Oscar winning director features Emily Watson is a much different role than in the past., August 28, 2016
This review is from: Within the Whirlwind (DVD)
The front of the package for this Polish/German co-production touts the fact this it is directed by Marleen Gorris, who is responsible for the Oscar –winning film “Antonia’s Line”. And maybe that will draw folks to it. (It certainly did me.). When I saw the cast list – the only name that I knew was British actress Emily Watson. All the rest were Polish Actors. Since the film takes place in the 1930s in the former Soviet Union under Lenin – I somehow expected it to be in a language other than English. But it’s not. The only time there are subtitles is to translate signs which are in Russian.
This is a true story – based on the letters – of the character played by Watson in an amazingly understated performance. Eugenia Ginzburg is a Jewish university professor in literature, and a member of the Communist Party when a fellow teacher tells the government that she is a “traitor”. What follows is many years of suffering and yet still trying to keep her sanity. It’s a powerful story.

The film was made in 2008 and – apparently – was released in Europe in 2016. It was released in US- NTSC format in 6 by Corinth Films (a company that I only recently discovered) in April 2016. It has a new distributor (Film Movement) and I discovered it from the trailer on another Corinth DVD>

I don’t like spoilers and – if you are reading this, you obviously haven’t seen the film – I won’t spoil your discovery and “enjoyment” (not quite the right wodc for this powerful story of survival in a political regime change) by telling you more than the minimum.
The film is NOT RATED but there is some very graphic visuals and there is some sex but not nudity.
That’s really all you need to know. If like “independent” films with superb acting by actors you’ve never seen before (except Watson) , I urge you to check out this 110-minute film

There are no special features on the DVD except some trailers for other Corinth films.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”


Magic Fire
Magic Fire
Price: $12.99
32 used & new from $8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For this new CD, the trio has added a drummer (and a new producer) and the sound changed., August 27, 2016
This review is from: Magic Fire (Audio CD)
I’ve been a big fan of the (originally from Lancaster County, PA – now mostly Nashville-based) trio since I first saw and heard then at the Philadelphia Folk Festival and, later at a “showcase” at the Americana Music Conference in Nashville in 2013. I’ve loved their previous CD and EP too.

Now they are on a MAJOR label (Yep Roc) and getting more exposure. And they are maturing in their songwriting and performance (I saw them just a week ago on the Main Stage at the 2016 Philly Folk Fest. And, this time round, they have Larry Campbell (producer for Levon Helm and David Bromberg and an artist in his own right with his wife Teresa Williams).

While I loved the Helms and Bromberg records, after listening to this SB albums a few times, I find myself wishing for less instrumentation and more vocalizing. The SBs are no longer officially a trio. They are now a quartet with the addition of Shane Leonard on drums, percussion and “programming”. I don’t mind drums added to some songs – they work great on the song “Sabrina”, a co-write by the core three members with a Cajun beat, as well as a nod to the local Pennsylvania brew, Yuengling – but there isn’t one track without Leonard’s steady beat. On “Where You Come From” Charlie’s vocals on his self-penned song are overpowered (at least for me) by the drums. And we know that Campbell loves the organ and keyboard so we have two different organ/keyboard plays here too. I love Levon Helm and The Band, but I wanted to hear the Stray Birds I loved from the previous trio recordings (voices blending together and Maya de Vitry’s great fiddle.

There are some cool tracks here, besides “Sabrina” “Hands of Man” reminded me of what I loved about them and “Third Day In A Row” is catchy (but, again, that constant drum beat gets in the way.) “Somehow” a co-write with Oliver and Maya has them harmonizing like the Everly Brothers and it’s wonderful.

So, if you loved the SBs previous work, sample some of the tracks here. Yes, it could, just be me (listening is subjective), but this album is different and I miss some of what I heard before.

The CD version come in a tri-fold digipak which also hold a 16-page booklet with all the lyrics and song writing credits (there is no notation of who is playing on each song). I’m not sure who the graphic designer was here but IMHO they got way too “creative” by using “script” for the type font and made the size so small that a magnifying glass may be helpful to read them. (This is not the only recent CD I’ve reviewed with lyrics in really-hard-to read typeface. At least it is white print on a black background.

So, in summary, I love the Strange Birds, and I’ll continue to support them and see them live. But I’m not sure I’ll be playing this CD all the way through a lot. But I will play selected tracks. It’s all about “the drums”

By the way, there is no song on the album with the title “Magic Fire” (the title of the album.
I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”


Pure & Simple
Pure & Simple
Price: $9.63
31 used & new from $6.10

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of the CD version - 100% Dolly from composition, arrangement, production and packaging – and, of course, performance!, August 27, 2016
This review is from: Pure & Simple (Audio CD)
No one can every say that Dolly Parton doesn’t “do it all”. This latest release is – as the package says –“ Written, Arranged and Produced by” her! She is the sole composer for all 10 songs here (2 of which go back to 1969 and 1971 – that’s 47 years ago!) and she not only sings with any duet partners, but she provides “backing vocals” to herself (!) on many of the tracks.

This is the “love and fun” Dolly, with some simple arrangements (yes, a banjo pops up but it’s not bluegrass) and, as nearly always. Some self-deprecating humor (“I’m Sixteen”). She ends the all-too- brief 33 minute album (perfect for a vinyl Lp though) backed by – of all things – a string quartet!

I’m not sure this is an album that will bring her a new audience of fans, but her legions are already darn big and she’s giving the fans what she wants – and doing it (pardon me Messrrs. Anka and Sinatra) “Her Way”

I’m also impressed by the packaging (which I’m sure was Dolly’s idea. There is a 12-page booklet with her photo on front and back containing ALL the lyrics to ALL the songs on the album in type size and font you can read easily (getting rarer these days!)

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”


What Happened, Miss Simone? [Blu-ray]
What Happened, Miss Simone? [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Nina Simone
Price: $26.98

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A deluxe COMBO pack (BD and audio CD) tells this music legends story in words, video and MUSIC!, August 27, 2016
This film was commissioned by Netflix in 2014 and played in theaters before hitting the streaming site. It was nominated for an Academy Award and is currently up for an Emmy Award in the “long form documentary” category. The firm was directed by Liz Garbus and Executive Directed by the daughter subject – music icon Nina Simone – Lisa Simone Kelly. With Kelly’s involvement Garbus was able to get some great interview footage with Simone’s former husband, her niece , two close fiends and Al Schackman( (a dead-ringer for actor Jerry Stiller), Simone’s lifelong guitar player. These five individuals (including Kelly) provide some great stories which complement the running audio taken from interviews with Simone telling the story of her own life.

To borrow the phrase from Duke Ellington, Simone’s music was “beyond category”. She started playing piano at age 4, was trained as a classical pianist and – when rejected by the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia because she was an African American – headed in to jazz accompanying herself on piano. She became involved in the civil rights movement, was physically abused by her husband, and suffered mental issues too. (I won’t detail those. That’s what the film will reveal and I don’t want to spoil it.)

The 116-minute film includes lots music – some full performances, some edited – with pop (her take on Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put A Spell on You” is much different than his but topped the charts) to the “American Songbook” to protest songs (her “Mississippi Goddam” from a 1964 New York performance).
The BD version of the film in this package includes 14-minutes of additional interview clips which are well worth seeing.
The package includes a 15-track CD titled “Music from and Inspired By What Happened, Miss Simone?). That’s exactly what it is. The first nine tracks are from the film’s soundtrack; the remaining six – both studio and “live” recordings – are not from the film so show more of Simone’s repertoire

For any lover of good music – and especially for fans of Simone (who died in 2003) – this set is a must have!

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

The combo package will be released on September 2, 2016. I was provided an advance copy in exchange for an objective review.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”


Masterpiece Mystery!: Inspector Lewis 8 (Full UK-Length Edition) (Blu-ray)
Masterpiece Mystery!: Inspector Lewis 8 (Full UK-Length Edition) (Blu-ray)
DVD ~ Kevin Whatley
Price: $20.44
16 used & new from $19.51

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NO SPOILERS in this review – just helpful (I hope) info. This series wraps up nicely., August 27, 2016
If you’ve read my other reviews on Amazon you will know that I’m a huge fan of British (or Irish or Scottish) crime and mystery series produced by the BBC or ITV , which air on US TV on either BBC America or PBS. I really prefer the home video versions because nearly every one of this shows has been edited (for either language or extreme violence – often both – and maybe even brief nudity). I prefer the original.

I’m a big proponent of not providing episode plot summaries (as some do) because IMHO it spoils the enjoyment. And I most certainly don’t like “spoilers”, so you rarely – if ever – will find one in my reviews. After all, these are called “mysteries” for a reason.

Since this is the EIGTH n the “series”, I will make the assumption that those reading this review will have seen Seasons 1 through 7 and know the know the main characters and that the crime/mystery series takes place in Oxford, England. There are THREE “episodes” – each lasting from 93 to 97 minutes (The running time listed includes 90 second “sponsorship “advertisements) . Since PBS always includes “promo ads” at beginning and end of their broadcasts, I know that some scenes were edited for US TV (but I can’t tell you which). There is no nudity but there are a few expletives (the “S### word” for one) so it is probably more for some violent scenes that were cut. The BD version is marked as “the full UK version”. The show aired in the UK on the commercial ITV networks, not the BBC.

As other reviewers have pointed out there is a major flaw in the BD (and probably the DVD) that you should be aware of – but it’s correctible. The First episode in this series – “One For Sorrow” appears SECOND on the playlist. You need to watch that first. I didn’t catch this and wondered why some of the “life at the police station” events seemed confusing. Speaking of that, there is a running story about the personal lives of the two leads, but each episode mostly hinges on a murder.

It’s not a spoiler IMHO to say that this is the last of this wonderful series. But I’m happy to say that there are really no loose ends at the end – as some “suddenly cancelled” PBS series have had.

As I watched the three episodes I was drawn into the mysteries and was enjoying the acting. The writer does not give the viewer ALL the clues needed to solve the crime until near the end, so you – along with the detectives, are still kept “in the dark”, so to speak.

The BD of this season has NO “special features” – not even a short “behind the scene” one that most DVDs have.
The BD and DVD do have an option for English subtitles and these did prove helpful to me . The accents of some of the characters – and the speed of their voices – on this series made me want to use the subtitles so I could “see” words that were not familiar to me. I’m happy to say that the subtitles are in bright yellow (unlike the white that some shows use) which makes them stand out. But these subtitles move! Yes, move! First it will be in the bottom left of the screen and the next one is in the bottom right and, sometimes, it will be in the bottom middle. Since the show is presented wide-screen, it means that your eyes must move to find the words before they disappear. I’m not sure who at PBS decided to present them this way but I hope they stop.

As I post this review I see a few others posted before this which are long and the reviewer chose to provide so much plot detail that it really, IMHO, spoils the enjoyment for a person who has not already watched the episodes. And, there is a lot of discussion comparing the series with “Endeavour” (which is the “prequel” to “Lewis”; there is no “Inspector” in the on-screen title). I’ll leave reading those other reviews up to you, but you might want to read them AFTER you’ve seen this series.

I do hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”


Galiva Men's Cotton Lightweight Fashion Dress Socks, Large, Black, 3 Pairs
Galiva Men's Cotton Lightweight Fashion Dress Socks, Large, Black, 3 Pairs
Offered by Galiva Direct
Price: $16.99

3.0 out of 5 stars These are made in China; the box is a higher quality than the product; and at least one pair had loose thread, August 27, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
These are made in China; the box is a higher quality than the product; and at least one pair had loose threadI 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 as I am a man and I do wear socks!

They offered me size Large in Black. I thought it was interesting that the description on Amazon gave the size as “Large” without size numbers. I assumed that they would fit size 10-13. My feet are big and can fit in 10-13 but I prefer 13-15. (More on size in a minute)

The three pair of socks come in a nice sturdy “gift box” but that certainly adds to the cost and doesn’t serve any real purpose. The box states that they are made in China and the “Care Instructions” say to “Tumble Dry Medium. DO NOT IRON”. (Seemed odd to me.)

Anyway I tried on a pair today. They went on easily and fit me perfectly – so they are probably 12-15. I’m guessing they will shrink a little though. But they are somewhat thin and, before putting them on, I noticed that at least one thread near the top was dangling. Amazon does offer “free returns” so I guess if the ones you get have loose threads, you can return them – but you’d probably have to return the box of three. At $5.00 pair I don’t see them as being good value.

I am glad that the Large will fit a person like me with a size 13 shoe, but I’m not sure I’d buy these as a customer.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”


All Things Must Pass
All Things Must Pass
DVD ~ Elton John
Price: $19.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you bought Vinyl Lps from 1960-2000 you’ll want to see this DVD, August 25, 2016
This review is from: All Things Must Pass (DVD)
I see that there are already 171 reviews posted here, most of which were based on the theatrical version (or steaming one). The BluRay version seems to have been released earlier than the DVD (which won’t be available until September 13, 2016). I was sent an advance copy of the DVD version, so that is what this review is based on.

Director Colin Hanks (yes, Tom Hanks son by his first wife) is making his feature film debut as a Director. (He had many roles in some of “dad’s films”. Though he centers on the life of Russ Solomon who founded Tower Records in Sacramento in 1960, and follows the company to it’s closing their last company-owned store on 2006, this is also a story of the “record business”. Most of the management at Tower started at the beginning and are interviewed here. Sometimes the same story of drinking and doing drugs in the back room get repetitive and about 15 minutes of these could have been deleted. But it’s still a fascinating story.

The DVD version has no bonus features (there are deleted and extended scenes on the Bluray).

If you ever spent time in a record store going through the stacks, you’ll definitely want to see this film.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”


Barbie Holiday Doll
Barbie Holiday Doll
Price: $39.73
28 used & new from $27.56

3.0 out of 5 stars Made to be “collectible”, this made-in-Indonesia doll has an odd look on her face, August 25, 2016
This review is from: Barbie Holiday Doll (Toy)
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 as I thought it would make a nice gift for my 3 year old grandniece.

It arrived well packed by Amazon so that the display box would not be damaged. Realistically you could leave the doll in the box and it would look nice. The semi-hard clear plastic cover (the package refers to it as a snow globe) shows the doll against a background of stars. Barbie has long blonde hair. There is stand for the times the child is not playing with the doll. The product is made by Mattel and was made in Indonesia. I do have to say that the expression on Barbie’s face is a bit odd. She’s not really smiling and – at least to me – shows NO emotion. Maybe my grandniece will think different. (I’m putting it away for Christmas)

The package say “for ages 6 and up” but I certainly don’t think girls need to be that old. This is a doll that a much younger child can enjoy seeing on her shelf. Sure, she won’t hold up to a lot physical playing, but my grandniece should be content seeing her and having her mother hold it. There is a “collectability” aspect to this doll as it is dated Holiday 2016 and I’m sure some folks will buy it and never take it out of the package and hope that its value escalates.

I have no children of my own – and I’m a guy. But I think this might be a good gift for a child (especially one with other Barbies.
I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”


Lila Lila
Lila Lila
DVD ~ Daniel Brühl
Price: $24.95
11 used & new from $13.93

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This German “indie” romantic comedy pokes fun at celebrity authors. In German with easy to read subtitles. No spoilers here, August 19, 2016
This review is from: Lila Lila (DVD)
This German “indie” romantic comedy pokes fun at celebrity authors. In German with easy to read subtitles. No spoilers here

I don’t ever remember seeing this “romantic comedy of errors” play in Philadelphia, where I live and came upon it, when I discovered the trailer.
I don’t like spoilers and – if you are reading this, you obviously haven’t seen the film – I won’t spoil your discovery and enjoyment by telling you more than the minimum. This 2010 German produced film (with really easy to read English subtitles), is a “Pinocchio”- like story of a waiter who spies a girl he wants to meet and – because she loves to read books – he tells here one “little white lie”, saying he wrote a book (the title of which - "Lila Lila" is the title of the film ) . She takes it to a publisher (all this in the first 5 minutes of the fil) and from there on he is caught in his own web. What happens next, and whether he gets the girl, is something I’ll leave you to discover.
The film is “Not Rated” but there are is no nudity or graphic violence.
That’s really all you need to know. If like “independent” films with acting by actors you’ve never seen before I think you’ll like it. I did. It pokes fun at celebrity authors who do reading s to sell-out crowds.

The 105-minute film was made in 2010 but it has a new distributor (Film Movement) and is getting new distribution. The only "bonus" on the DVD is the theatrical trailer.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”


Miles Ahead
Miles Ahead
DVD ~ Michael Stuhlbarg
Price: $16.96
25 used & new from $10.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Important things to know BEFORE watching this film or DVD – if you know who Miles Dais was, August 18, 2016
This review is from: Miles Ahead (DVD)
After I saw this film in the theaters, I came out saying “there are way too many errors in Miles Davs’ life”. I also thought of it as a “vanity” project for Don Cheadle, who, not only co-wrote the script, co-produced the film, directed the film and cast himself in the leading role. But, now that I’ve watched DVD and seen the two special bonus features – I have a new view on the film and I actually like it better.

If you’ve read my other Amazon reviews you would know that I absolutely hate “spoilers” in a review (particularly with mysteries). But this is the rare case where you need to know things revealed in the bonus features before you watch the film. No, I don’t encourage you to WATCH them. There are scenes included that would destroy your enjoyment. These are the things you DO need to know:

As Cheadle says in the 20 minute “making of” featurette”:
1. “This is NOT a Biopic”
2. “I wanted to make a heist film starring Miles Davis”
3. “We were so tight on our budget that we only shot 110 minutes of film and the final edited film runs 100 minutes”

The film focuses on the five years that Davis did NOT touch his trumpet and what MIGHT have happened. The film is co-produced by both Davis’ son and nephew. Both – as well as co-star Ewan McGregor (who also self-directed his own 2016 film), and other cast members are in the “making of bonus”. Four of them re-appear in the Q&A session from the screening at Sundance. This runs 20 minutes (though the first three – which should have been deleted – have Cheadle thanking many backers and his agent).

And, if you STILL want to hear more from Cheadle, there is the full-length commentary (which I have not listened to).

Cheadle does a more than creditable job in the role and gets Davis’ mannerisms and unique voice down pat. If you have an interest in Davis and know his music, I think you’ll like the film (knowing full-well that it’s written as fiction). If you don’t know Davis’ music (I’ll then assume you are under 40), the sounds you hear may encourage you to seek out his recordings.

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