2020 Reading Challenge

In 2019 I undertook a challenge to read 40 works of fiction over the course of the year, the actual number I got to was in the low 80’s. So this year I decided to do something very ambitious and read 104 works of fiction, yes that’s right 2 works of fiction for every week of the year. This is on top of a great deal of non fiction and all the paperwork and reports that I have to wade through every week too. So here is the list I’m going to be working from for the rest of the year.

Coraline- Neil Gaiman

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The Graveyard Book- Neil Gaiman

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Alloy of Law- Brandon Sanderson

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Shadow of Self- Brandon Sanderson

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The Bands of Mourning- Brandon Sanderson

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The Crystal Shard- R.A. Salvatore

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Streams of Silver- R.A. Salvatore

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The Halflings Gem- R.A. Salvatore 

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Shadow of A Dark Queen- Raymond E Feist

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Rise of A Merchant Prince- Raymond E Feist

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Rage of A Demon King-Raymond E Feist

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Shards of A Broken Crown- Raymond E Feist

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Tarkin- James Luceno

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Thrawn- Timothy Zahn

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The Priestess of the White- Trudi Canavan

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Last of the Wilds- Trudi Canavan

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Voice of the Gods- Trudi Canavan

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Otherland Volume 1- Tad Williams

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Otherland Volume 2- Tad Williams

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Otherland Volume 3- Tad Williams

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Otherland Volume 4- Tad Williams

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Starship Titanic- Douglas Adams

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The Salmon of Doubt- Douglas Adams

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The Long Earth- Terry Pratchett

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The Long War – Terry Pratchett

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The Long Mars- Terry Pratchett

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The Long Utopia – Terry Pratchett

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The Long Cosmos – Terry Pratchett

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Thief’s Magic- Trudi Canavan

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Angel of Storms- Trudi Canavan

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The Successor’s Promise- Trudi Canavan

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Dune- Frank Herbert

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Earthsea- Ursula La Guin 

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Doctor Who: At Childhoods End- Sophie Aldred

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Dwarves 1: Markus Heitz 

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Dwarves 2: Markus Heitz

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Dwarves 3: Markus Heitz

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Dwarves 4: Markus Heitz

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Dwarves 5: Markus Heitz

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War of the Worlds- H.G Wells

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The Island of Doctor Moreau- H.G Wells

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Around The World In 80 Days- Jules Verne

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20,000 Leagues Under The Sea- Jules Verne 

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The Inimitable Jeeves- P.G Wodehouse 

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Carry On Jeeves – P.G Wodehouse

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Very Good Jeeves – P.G Wodehouse

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Ankh Morpork Archives- Terry Pratchett

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The Carpet People- Terry Pratchett

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Casion Royale- Ian Fleming

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Dracula -Bram Stoker

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Frankenstein- Mary Shelly

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Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde- Robert Louis Stevenson 

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The Phoenix on the Sword- Robert E Howard

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Paradise Lost- John Milton

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Lair of the White Worm- Bram Stoker 

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The Call of Cthulhu- H.P Lovecraft

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Baldur’s Gate-  Philip Athans

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Canticle- R.A Salvatore  

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In Sylvan Shadows- R.A Salvatore  

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Night Masks – R.A Salvatore  

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The Fallen Fortress – R.A Salvatore  

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The Chaos Curse – R.A Salvatore  

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Dodgers Guide To London – Terry Pratchett

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The World of Poo – Terry Pratchett

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War of the Spider Queen 1 – R.A Salvatore  

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War of the Spider Queen 2 – R.A Salvatore

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War of the Spider Queen 3 – R.A Salvatore

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War of the Spider Queen 4 – R.A Salvatore

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War of the Spider Queen 5 – R.A Salvatore

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War of the Spider Queen 6 – R.A Salvatore

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Omerta- Mario Puzo

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Odin’s Child- Tim Severin

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Sworn Brother- Tim Severin

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Kings Man- Tim Severin

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The Picture of Dorian Grey- Oscar Wilde

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Legend of Alfar Book 1- Markus Heitz 

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Legend of Alfar Book 2- Markus Heitz

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Legend of Alfar Book 3- Markus Heitz

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Legend of Alfar Book 4- Markus Heitz

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The Last Wish- Andrzej Sapkowski 

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Sword of Destiny – Andrzej Sapkowski 

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Blood of Elves- Andrzej Sapkowski 

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Time of Contempt- Andrzej Sapkowski 

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Baptism of Fire – Andrzej Sapkowski 

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The Tower of the Swallow – Andrzej Sapkowski 

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The Lady of the Lake – Andrzej Sapkowski 

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Faerie Tale- Raymond E Feist

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Doctor Who: The Missy Chronicles 

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Daughter of the Drow- Elaine Cunningham

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Tangled Webs-Elaine Cunningham

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Windwalker-  Elaine Cunningham

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Pool of Radiance- James Ward

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Pool of Darkness- James Ward, Anne Brown

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Pool of Twilight-James Ward, Anne Brown

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The Tell Tale Heart- Edgar Allan Poe

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Doctor Who: The Wheel of Ice- Stephen Baxter 

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Doctor Who: The Silent Stars Go By- Dan Abnett

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Father Christmas’s Fake Beard- Terry Pratchett

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Kull- Exile of Atlantis- Robert E Howard

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Solomon Kane: Skulls in the Stars- Robert E Howard

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El Borak: Sword of the Hills Robert E Howard

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Smith of Wootton Major- J.R.R Tolkien 

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Young Zaphod Plays It Safe- Douglas Adams 

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A Study in Scarlet- Arthur Conan Doyle

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Wonder how many I’ll get through I know 2 a week doesn’t sound like all that much, but who knows what outside influences will be effecting my free time.

2019 Year In Review: TV

I’ve been a bit better this year with TV shows than I have been with movies (as you can probably tell from looking at my 2019 review of films) but I haven’t been great, I still have almost all the stuff from the autumn season to catch up on and will be spending the next few weeks doing so, but what I have seen has been pretty good, so here are my top five TV shows from 2019.

The Witcher

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It was a late entry as I only saw it over the holiday period, but the Witcher is what I want from TV, and fantasy in general. Its dark and its gritty, with mythical, magical elements and with a catchy ballad thrown in, and this is one of those cases where I’ve already gone out and purchased the books just to find out what happens because I can’t wait for the next series.

Good Omens

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One of the best books I’ve ever read adapted faithfully and without fault for the small screen, with able performances from David Tennant and from Michael Sheen they really bring the apocalypse to life

The Boys

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I was dubious about The Boys being adapted for a TV series, and if I was expecting a complete rehash of the comic book I would have been sorely disappointed, but then there are some things that will never be allowed on TV.

The Mandalorian 

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Its a Star Wars space western that borrows heavily from stories like Lone Wolf and Cub, but is just full of little easter eggs for the true Star Wars fan, and also has a compelling enough story to keep newbies and novices alike enthralled too.

Lucifer (Season Four)

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Picking up where season 3 left off, we deal with the fallout of Chloe finally realising that Lucifer is actually the devil, and Lucifer resuming his relationship with Eve (yes that Eve) with a lot of references to the bible and few bits and pieces and like John Milton and some very tongue in cheek devilish moments to go along with the detective drama.

2019 Year In Review: Movies

2019 in many ways has been a pretty good year for me, but what it has not been, is a year full of spare time. So this has left me with major backlog of books, TV shows,  comic books, movies and video games to catch up on, (and look forward to doing so over the course of the year). But here are some of the best that I got around to experiencing in 2019.

So here are my top three films from 2019 (star wars would have been on it, but I didn’t see it until 2020).

Shaft

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I absolutely loved this film, I honestly thing that we all need to be a little more Shaft, in this wide a woke, post me too movement era, its nice to see a little bit of un PC humour coming back into movies, and this one was action packed and full of beautiful one liners and so many amazing coats that I wanted them all (and in fact actually purchased one). I also like that it  ties back to all the previous Shaft films of yesteryear an incorporates them without

Downton Abbey 

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It may surprise you to find that I am a huge fan of Downton Abbey (although if you could see the room I’m typing this in, maybe it wouldn’t be that much of a surprise), however I was very impressed with the show, and was rather disappointed when the show came to an end some years ago, but was delighted to learn of that a movie was in the works and this piece certainly holds up.

Aladdin 

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I wasn’t expecting much from this film, but I was pleasantly surprised, basically if you go in expecting Robin Williams, you will be disappointed, but Will Smith manages to take the role of Genie for his own, and really nails some of the musical numbers, the Fresh Prince certainly manages to keep things fresh.

Murder Mystery 

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I don’t know what it is, but lately I’ve really been enjoying the work of Adam Sandler, a great funny man, who in this instance teams up with Jennifer Aniston to bring yet another netflix original movie to a great deal of comic enjoyment.

As you can see its been a really slow year for me in terms of films I still haven’t even been to see Star Wars yet, which if you know me at all is shocking.  Looking forward to 2020 there are a few films that I’m looking forward to, most notably the New James Bond flick set for this year.

2020 Horoscope Chinese Zodiac

Yesterday I had a look at what 2020 would bring by way of my horoscope for the year, however, unsurprisingly,  I wasn’t left with a sense of purpose and direction for the coming 12 months. This probably has something to do with the fact that millennia old images of now long dead solar infernos have no possible way of determining a persons future, unless they are about to be engulfed in the supernova coming from the destruction of said solar inferno. But as I look for a few filler posts I thought I would give it a go.  And then I remembered the Chinese Zodiac and I thought I would have a look at what the future holds for me based on the position animals came in a race to have tea with the Buddha (or possibly the Jade Emperor depending on which version you happen to be fond of ). So based on my birth year, (1989) or the year of the Earth Snake, here is what 2020 has in store for me.

The year of the earth Pig may have seemed like a very long 365 days for Snakes, but there were some accomplishments. The first 25 days of January represent an interim point when you need to decide what you want to carry into 2020, the year of the metal Rat. What works well for you? What could you tweak to make better? Whether the projects are old or yet to be started, this year they can grow, as can you. This good news comes courtesy of the element metal. Blend this ingredient with your own natural fire and you will possess the awesome ability to plan your life on your terms. The element creates a spark that ignites a fire that won’t go out anytime soon.

Let’s talk about defining moments. First, the year of the Rat begins a new twelve-year cycle spanning January 25, 2020, to February 11, 2021. The Cancer-Capricorn eclipse pattern is another benchmark this year. Two are key: the January 10 lunar eclipse in Cancer and the June 20 solar eclipse in Cancer. Everything, including the new Chinese cycle, focuses on positivity, expansive thinking, and outside-the-box energy.

You are a bold and confident Snake this year, leaving what may be a comfort zone and ready to embrace unknown destinations. Not to worry. You’re accompanied by your keen perception. Make friends with it, because it only gets better when you’re in touch with what is going on around you, and there will be lots of activity going on around you. Remain coiled to strike, for there will also be opportunities.

Harness your excess energy to take advantage of golden opportunities in the Year of the Metal Rat.

I don’t know why but I have a soft spot for the Chinese zodiac, I think it might have something to do with it describing people born in the Year of the Snake as charming, gregarious, introverted, generous, and smart, which modesty forbids from confirming this as an accurate description of my character. Although I will admit that being both gregarious and introverted does have its drawbacks.

But again this can apply to many millions of people so is really open to interpretation, it seems to be advocating mindfulness and a degree of introspection but again this could apply to anyone, but oh well here’s The Year Of The Metal Rat.

2020 Horoscope

I don’t usually have much truck with star signs and what not, but a part from being a nice filler blog post at a time of year when I don’t really feel inclined to do much, it also gives me some sort of benchmark to work from (or to?). So here’s what those long dead balls of celestial gas had to say about my future:

Cancer (NB: Star Sign, not prediction)

Make yourself a top priority this year.

Your sign is linked with your roller coaster emotions, so it makes sense that your ruler is the emotional moon. Paying close attention to the moon’s movements will help you understand your moodiness a little better this year, starting with a full moon/lunar eclipse in your sign in the middle of January. You may feel lasting effects of this lunation as it is closely tied to family relationships, especially parent-child. Reunions and healing can take place now but be careful not to fall back into the same old unhealthy dynamics you’ve been trying to escape once the happiness subsides.

A new moon/solar eclipse in your sign at the end of June coincides with the start of your birthday month, giving you a chance to reboot and begin again (especially in areas that concern your priorities and the people who have come and gone from your life in the past year). This is a chance to figure out what’s been missing and what’s okay to let go of. Anything that’s outlived its use can be discarded now, Cancer. Let it go gently, but surely

The sun in your sign at the end of June until end of July is the perfect time to practice self-care and to protect your loved ones. You know that taking care of yourself is closely linked to your ability to take care of others, so if you haven’t been in a good position to do things for yourself, your familial bonds might be suffering as well. Take a spa day or weekend to recharge. Happy birthday caring, giving Cancer!

Now I hear you say that this is pretty vague, and you’d be right because it is horribly vague, I guess trying to interpret your future sounds a bit more impressive with the backing of some sort of cosmic celestial body as a witness.

What it really boils down to is how you interpret it, I mean what I’m getting from this is apparently I need to work on some family relationships, be less moody and that I need to take better care of myself, all of which could be true, in fact probably is true, but that being said it could be just as true for any of the other half a billion people with the same star sign as me. That being said I see no reason why I shouldn’t try being less moody and certainly see no reason why I shouldn’t try and take better care of my self. But I’m doing it because it makes sense to do it, not because some long dead clusters of burning gas that frankly look absolutely nothing like a crab, even when squiffy and squinting, told me to do so.

Happy New Year 2020

I cant believe I’ve lived to see 2020.  I’m back with a vengeance baby. I’ve taken some time away from the blog to deal with my hectic civic schedule, but this year I mean to get back into blogging in a big way. My resolutions for the year are to blog more, and blog better, read at least two books a week, and go to at least six concerts.

So Happy New Year to you all, and let the roaring 20’s commence.

My Favourite Live Albums

Until about 5 minutes before writing this I had no idea that it was #NationalAlbumDay however since I found out that metallica were doing a S & M 2 a few days ago, it got me thinking about what some of my favourite live albums were. So as I’ve done several posts along that sort of theme in the past. (as it turns out, yes I have, read 5 Favourite Albums here and the 20 albums that will grace my vinyl collection as soon as I get one here) So in order to put a new spin on an old classic (not a music related pun…I think) here is a list of my favourite live albums. 

 

Metallica: S & M

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What I love about this album is that it adds another layer of richness to songs that I already loved the addition of the San Francisco Orchestra opened my mind to a whole new concept of blending classical orchestral sounds with metal, and this proved to have a big influence on my musical taste in years to come.

Iron Maiden: Rock In Rio

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This was probably the first live album that I ever owned and I still own the DVD of this concert to date, and hearing the energy that Iron Maiden poured into the set list, it made even songs that I wasn’t that fond of kick ass.  

Rush: All the Worlds A Stage 

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This was my first introduction to Rush, someone mentioned them to me, and I found this live album tucked away amongst my parents CD collection, so I gave it a go. And was blown away. I especially love that the whole A Side from the 2112 album is included on the set list, as this would later go on to become my favourite Rush album.

Pink Floyd: Is There Anybody Out There

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Pink Floyd, to this day, remain one of my favourite bands, but I always find that listening to them in a darkened room really helps you visualise the music, and with this album you can really picture the elaborate sets that mark out twisted mindset behind Roger Waters The Wall.

The Rat Pack: Live and Dangerous 

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Frank, Deano and Sammy, on stage, having a laugh and a drink doing what they do best. listening to the album you would be excused from thinking that it was just a recording of a lads night out at a Karaoke bar, just from the sheer amount of banter and laughs going on between, and lets face it during, the songs.

Eric Clapton: Unpluuged

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I like a lot of songs by Clapton, whether that’s on his own, as Derek and The Domino’s, Cream…Whatever, but stripped back to the bone, you can really see the blues roots of Clapton and the influence that early blues must have had on the man.

Ozzy Osbourne: Tribute 

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 After the untimely death of guitarist Randy Rhodes, Ozzy Osbourne released these live recordings that really show Rhodes at his finest as a guitar player, the way he takes Osbourne’s songs and makes them heavier and faster really show that he was a live musician and was often rounded down on those early Ozzy Tracks. 

Nightwish: End of an Era 

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One of the main reasons I liked Nightwish was the soprano tones of Tarja Turunen it worked so well with that sort of metal and together they produced some great albums, and then Tarja was fired from the band, on stage, right after recording this album, as a huge fan I was gutted and the band have gotten pretty shit since she left, not that I’ve thought that much of her solo stuff either, but the concert was a great one, and it makes me sad that I’ll probably never get to see that combo live.