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4 February 2006

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  • Tom Knapp
    Hello!! Here s what s new at Rambles.NET, your best source on the Internet for roots and traditional music, fiction, folklore and movie reviews! Go to
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 3, 2006

      Here's what's new at Rambles.NET, your best source on the Internet for
      roots and traditional music, fiction, folklore and movie reviews!

      Go to http://www.rambles.net to access the new edition and much, much
      more! (Our archives contain more than 8,700 reviews, interviews and
      other bits of excitement.) See you there!

      Jez Lowe & the Bad Pennies are back with Tenterhooks (The Art Edition).
      "Jez Lowe is one of the best singer-songwriters working on the scene
      today," says Nicky Rossiter. "His songs are many and varied but his
      roots are firmly in the coal-mining traditions of Great Britain -- and
      from that black gold comes this gem."

      Sam Steele recorded authentic English folk songs from 1959 to 1962.
      Now, the Veteran label has released those recordings on a CD titled
      Heel & Toe. "The sound quality, though not great, could have been a lot
      worse, given the portable recording technology available to the layman
      of the period," Jerome Clark says. "If not so crisp as the field
      tapings Alan Lomax was making at the same time, it is still entirely

      The Possum Trot Orchestra puts forth "an original sound that
      integrates, in proportions that vary from song to song, folk and pop
      approaches," Jerome says after spinning their self-titled CD. "As an
      effort to fashion a kind of creative roots sound for the early 21st
      century, this CD succeeds almost against expectations. There's enough
      depth to it to repay many listenings ... and it boasts a distinctive
      sound and a point of view that is appealingly its own."

      Crow Greenspun reveals his New York-based songs on Blood & Decision.
      "Despite the slightly jarring variety of genres on offer, I enjoyed
      this CD," Nicky Rossiter says. "The story-songs have a power that could
      produce some hits if they had a wider audience."

      Tom Mank and Sera Jane Smolen study the Souls of Birds on this album of
      voices, guitar and cello. "You may only get nine tracks here but you
      get more than a fair share of good music well played and lyrics well
      written," Nicky says. "Tom Mank and Sera Jane Smolen produce some
      beautiful sweet sounds together."

      Michael Jerome Browne & the Twin Rivers String Band prove themselves to
      be "a Canadian national treasure," although the music on this
      self-titled CD originates mostly from the southern United States, John
      Bird exclaims. "The album is clearly Browne's tour de force," John
      says. "All in all, this is one of my favourite CDs these days, in which
      Browne delivers the variety he promises in his definition of string
      band music."

      Belinda Underwood is Uncurling into a jazz artist of note. "Belinda
      Underwood's musical ability is beyond doubt; having taken lessons in
      violin and harp, she eventually settled on the upright bass as her
      favored musical companion," Nicky Rossiter says. "With more than a
      dozen tracks, many from her own pen, she displays a talent far beyond
      her years."

      Knút Háberg Eysturstein makes his debut with Havsglóð -- and just
      trying saying that sentence five times fast! "I'll take it on faith
      that he goes beyond the traditions of contemporary Faroese music, but I
      found that Eysturstein's music doesn't really sound all that different
      from a number of American singer-songwriters -- until one listens
      closely," says Robert Tilendis. "Quite aside from the fact that some
      songs are done in Faroese, there are contrasts, tonalities, rhythms
      that aren't quite what one expected. I'm sure the combination of
      electronics, synthesizers, acoustic instruments and vocals is not
      unique to Eysturstein..., but I've not heard anyone else who sounds
      like him."

      Julie Fowlis is staying true to her Hebridean roots, as is handily
      proven by her interview with Debbie Koritsas. "Julie Fowlis had an
      incredibly successful 2005," Debbie says. "It seems incredible to note
      that Julie has only been in the public eye for about 18 months." Read
      more in Debbie's complete review!

      William D. and Marilyn Carlson Webber detect A Rustle of Angels in
      modern society. "Along with Billy Graham's book on angels, this is
      probably the second best book I have read on the subject," says Daniel
      Jolley. "A Rustle of Angels is an honest, enlightening, ultimately
      inspirational book that should really have a place on the shelves of
      anyone interested in the subject."

      Michela Wrong is certain I Didn't Do It for You in this history of the
      African nation of Eritrea. "Wrong fills in all the blanks on this
      amazing story backed by solid research and many hours of interviews,"
      says David Cox. "It's a fascinating read about an obscure, but not
      unimportant, part of the globe."

      Donald B. Dewar offers a modern-day spin on a classic yarn with Jack's
      Dad & the Beanstalk. "Much of the stuff of legends is derived from
      actual facts, and it is interesting to see how the story of Jack & the
      Beanstalk could have developed, through exaggeration, from events that
      are easily explainable -- even Jack's climb up the beanstalk to the
      house of a giant with a magic harp and a goose that lays golden eggs,"
      Daniel Jolley says. "As interesting as it is entertaining, Jack's Dad &
      the Beanstalk is a novel that parents, teenagers and children can enjoy
      separately or together."

      David Rose begins his Viking Sagas with the tale of Godiva, the famous
      lady best known for riding bareback (and bare everything else) through
      Coventry. "Rose, in his first novel, plays fast and loose with the bare
      facts to create a Godiva who is wise, bold and selflessly charitable,"
      Tom Knapp says. "The story he tells, which is woven thoroughly into the
      story of Danish leader Canute's conquest and rule of England, is
      interesting -- it was, at times, hard to put down -- but it is not
      entirely satisfying."

      Al Sarrantonio carves up the pumpkins for a Hallows Eve celebration.
      "This novel stands alone, although I sense that a familiarity with the
      earlier books would have helped to understand certain aspects of the
      plot," Tom says. "Still, despite some minor hitches, Hallows Eve
      succeeds by providing a creepy location, sinister forces at work and a
      population of innocent and not-so-innocent characters to weave into the

      Aiden Beaverson uncovers The Hidden Arrow of Maether -- but Jennifer Mo
      says this YA fantasy is ordinary. "There's nothing seriously the matter
      with Arrow, and at the same time, nothing to make it stand out from
      dozens of similar fantasies," she says. "If you don't mind spending an
      hour on a predictable but certainly readable fantasy, by all means,
      read it."

      Harper Lee only did it once, but she did it well. "What do you do when
      you sit down to write a book and you get it absolutely perfect the
      first time? Unfortunately, you never write another one," Judy Lind
      explains. "How could Harper Lee have possibly followed this up?
      Anything she wrote after To Kill a Mockingbird would have been
      anticlimax. So on the strength of one book, Harper Lee will be forever
      remembered for writing one of the greatest novels of contemporary
      American literature."

      Matthew S. Field captures a poignant mood with Father Like a Tree, "a
      wonderfully told, beautifully illustrated book that grew from the most
      innocent of origins: a 'tell me a story, Daddy' moment," Daniel Jolley
      says. "Books like this encourage parent-child interaction and help
      instill a sense of the joy of reading in the little tykes."

      Tim Green seeks an Exact Revenge in this thrilling novel that owes at
      least a tip of the hat to The Count of Monte Cristo. "He writes decent
      thrillers," Wil Owen opines. "This one seems to be on par with his
      other novels, although the emotional drain is way more intense. If you
      don't mind that and a new twist on a previously told tale doesn't
      bother you, this is an audiobook to check out."

      Robin is A Hero Reborn in this miniseries providing a look at the early
      days of Tim Drake. "Writers Alan Grant and Chuck Dixon pull out all the
      stops, both doing some of the best writing of their careers," Mark
      Allen says. "Now, while the previous statement could be considered mere
      opinion, what has to be admitted as fact is that they established a
      strong character that continues to enjoy success and solid fan support
      in his own series to this day. That doesn't happen without strong

      Tom Knapp is Lost in Paradise with Gen 13. "For all that Gen 13 is more
      about cheesecake than champions, the writers generally tend to
      entertain, and Lost in Paradise is no exception," he says. "It's a
      pleasant romp in a tropical setting, and the storyline -- though
      certainly not breaking new ground -- is fun to read. And sometimes,
      that's all you really need to look for in a comic book, after all."

      Michael Vance has issues with The X-Files: Volume 1. "Almost everyone
      remembers The X-Files television show, of course. Its twisting plots
      and foreboding, dark atmosphere are still being imitated by other TV
      dramas today," Michael says. "Unlike you, the Topps artists in these
      issues forgot the dark, ominous setting. In fact, they forgot what
      Mulder and Scully looked like from panel to panel."

      Chris McCallister, one of the newest additions to the Rambles.NET team,
      got an early peek at Bambi II and shares his thoughts with the masses.
      "I expected to be disappointed, but really wasn't," he says. But, he
      asks, "does Bambi II match the original? It does not. Bambi is a moment
      of movie magic that still stands as some of the most beautiful
      animation ever done, with a powerful story."

      Daniel Jolley finds himself Bewitched by this recent remake of the
      classic TV sitcom. "Even though I'm still struggling with the concept
      of Will Ferrell getting the opportunity to romance Nicole Kidman
      onscreen -- and being paid buckets full of money, to boot -- I do have
      to say that I enjoyed Bewitched more than I thought I would," he says.
      "I'm not saying there is anything at all substantial to the film,
      though, because there isn't. It's complete fluff -- but it's funny

      Tom Knapp waves goodbye to Mary Martin and settles down with a Peter
      Pan he can believe in -- the 2003 remake that has everything going for
      it. "Peter Pan puts the magic back in the story, but it doesn't shy
      away from the sharp edges and dark corners of life, either," he says.
      "The movie is a celebration of joyful living, but it's a little sad,
      too -- it's not that Peter doesn't want to grow up, he doesn't want to
      want to grow up. And his inability to come to terms with his own inner
      desire for a home and parents is both tender and touching."

      That's all for another day here at Rambles.NET. Hurry back!
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