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The Very Best Of
The Very Best Of
Price: £6.99

55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nicely flowing testemonial for a highly-underrated band, 12 Feb. 2001
This review is from: The Very Best Of (Audio CD)
Talk Talk were one of the seminal bands of the 1980s, always there just below the surface of the mainstream, quietly working away on imaginative and uplifting records while the rest of the music industry produced dross in large amounts.
The Very Best of Talk Talk (1997) is a worthy compilation of their finest moments, although their million-selling compilation Natural History had seemingly already filled the 'compilation gap' back in 1990 quite adequately. The Very Best Of brings us up to date following their minimalist 'Laughing Stock' album of 1991, which followed directly in the footsteps of their ground-breaking (yet commercially disastrous) Spirit Of Eden release in 1988.
How they never managed to accumulate a single UK Top 10 hit, one can only guess, because the tunes are certainly there (although they did have several big hits in Europe and a couple in the US). Mark Hollis and Co. just did'nt want the limelight and preferred playing to more intimate audiences rather than stadiums while TV appearances were almost nil, save a couple of TOTP performances. This compilation shows their vast array of work between 1982 and 1991. Ranging from the electro-synth pop of Today and Talk Talk from 1982's The Party's Over, through the more cohesive, classic mid-80's singles It's My Life, Dum Dum Girl, Such A Shame and Life's What You Make It up to the minimalist output from Spirit Of Eden and Laughing Stock (not actually intended as singles by the band), this shows a band that was steadily moving towards their true musical forte, in direct contradiction to their record company's requirements.
If not for anything else, this compilation is worth buying for the inclusion of their greatest moment, namely Living In Another World from 1986's The Colour Of Spring, their great lost single and one of the finest pop tracks of the 1980's.

Kate Bush: Live At The Hammersmith Odeon (Video plus CD) [VHS] [1979]
Kate Bush: Live At The Hammersmith Odeon (Video plus CD) [VHS] [1979]

43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kate Bush's fantastic 1979 stage-show is a must for all fans, 6 Feb. 2001
For those of use who woe not having seen Kate Bush live on stage (pretty impossible since 1979, when she stopped touring), this is perhaps the next best thing.
The songs covered are from her first two album releases, The Kick Inside and Lionheart, plus Violin, which would appear on 1980's Never For Ever. Each and every song is performed brilliantly in terms of dance, mime and spectacular visuals, each particular to the song in question.
Given the sheer amount of preparation required for each show (KB directed and choreographed all her concerts) and the physical element involved, it's perhaps not surprising that she quit touring after suffering from acute exhaustion and the level of expectation heaved upon her following her '79 tour. Subsequent to this, she preferred to express her music through videos as opposed to touring, making the odd TV appearance to promote her occasional singles.
Having said that, KB certainly appears to be enjoying herself during this Hammersmith performance, with the KT Bush Band giving excellent support to her ever-flourishing vocals, which are almost pitch-perfect throughout. In fact some of the live versions of her songs almost surpass the studio perfomances. The accompanying CD is in fact an exact audio rendition of the video, but is still a great addition anyone's KB collection.
All in all, this is the perfect document for an artist approaching the peak of her powers, and we can only ponder at what might have been if she had continued to tour in the years to come.

Rain Tree Crow
Rain Tree Crow
Price: £26.92

5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A tad pretencious from the ex-Japan crew, 1 Feb. 2001
This review is from: Rain Tree Crow (Audio CD)
Rain Tree Crow (or the reformed Japan under an assumed name... guess who thought 'that' name up ?) was essentially a largely improvised jamming album with David Sylvian's fluidic vocals layered over the top, occasionally giving rise to the odd tune. If you're intent on hearing the early-80's Japan all over again, you're in for a pretty big surprise.
Released in 1991, nine years after Japan's split, much of the offerings here are overly-pretencious, with the psychological battle of the differing musical styles of Messrs Sylvian, Karn, Jansen and Barbieri being almost audible, the very reason they split in the first place. RTC was to fold immediately after the recordings for the very same reasons, together with the fact that Sylvian wished to hold separate press conferences to the rest of the band, which must have been pretty annoying. Suffice to say, all involved vowed never to reform again after this episode, which is a pity.
However, RTC has left us with a couple of classic tracks in the gorgeous 'Blackwater' and the weird and wonderful 'Scratchings On The Bible Belt', which are perhaps worth the price of admission alone. If the rest of the album had subscribed to this kind of quality, then perhaps this could have been the lost cult album of the 1990's. Alas, it never was, and passed us by relatively unnoticed.

Everything & Nothing
Everything & Nothing
Price: £13.11

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A decent introduction to Mr S for the uninitiated, 1 Feb. 2001
This review is from: Everything & Nothing (Audio CD)
This is a pretty thorough, if imperfect, collection of some our Dave's finest moments. However, one cannot easily be forgiven for leaving out classics such as Red Guitar, Forbidden Colours and Taking The Veil.
Nevertheless, it's good to see that this compilation has focused primarily on his solo recordings, with just Ghosts and Blackwater included to represent his Japan/Rain Tree Crow days. This compilation flows well throughout and there is certainly an other-worldly atmosphere to his songs, while the omission of his more ambient recordings (which even die-hard fans began to eventually tire of), is perhaps a blessing. All in all, Everything & Nothing is a perfectly good introduction for the as yet uninitiated, but with a few of his major moments (including a couple of Top 20 singles) stranglely omitted.

Adolescent Sex
Adolescent Sex
Price: £23.00

4 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Outdated first outing for Sylvian and his cohorts, 1 Feb. 2001
This review is from: Adolescent Sex (Audio CD)
Those familiar with the later music of Japan, from 1979 to 1982, will be utterly bewildered by what they hear upon listening to their debut album, Adolescent Sex (AS), released in early 1978.
I bought 'AS' back in the mid-1980's, a short while after Japan's demise in late-1982, purely out of interest. What surprised me most was David Sylvian's strained, screeching vocals, when what I had been used to were his Bryan Ferry-esque croonings to the likes of Ghosts, Nightporter and Life In Tokyo.
The music itself is at best pretty average, dredging up a pretty dire cover of Don't Rain On My Parade, while the highly disjointed tracks such The Unconventional, Transmission and the sporadic closer Television (a 10 minute concept album-esque number about TV couch potatoes and 'quickies' on the carpet) are a throwback to the days of glam-rock, and as such were totally out of sync with 1978's New Wave, post-punk revolution.
However, there are a few moments where Japan's muscianship shines through, especially on the epic Suburban Love, the upbeat Performance and the post-punk sounding Communist China. Alas, these superior tracks are offset by the succinct lack of decent production, making the entire feel of the album sound somewhat stodgy and uncrisp. And of course Sylvian's squealing vocals don't help much.
Overall, 'AS' has dated pretty pooly, while many would argue that it was already dated back in 1978, but it is only just saved by a few decent tracks which proved that the band could actually play and be original, facets that would deservedly catapult them to a short-lived superstardom by the early-80's.

Obscure Alternatives
Obscure Alternatives
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £14.98

8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Things could only get better for the Japs, 1 Feb. 2001
This review is from: Obscure Alternatives (Audio CD)
Obscure Alternatives (OA) was released by Japan in late-1978, following the almost universal derision of their debut Adolescent Sex, released earlier that year.
Japan were still finding their feet with OA after their initial disappointment, although it has to be said that it proved to be only a slight improvement, with little indication of what was to come, except perhaps on closing track, The Tenant, a slow and moody piano number. However, their musical ability was certainly coming to the fore on a couple of the tracks here, notably on the excellent anti-apartheid track, Rhodesia, and the sublime Suburban Berlin. Some 'glam' elements remain onboard, notably on the quirky Sometimes I Feel So Low and Deviation, whilst the post-punk feel was reinforced on the opening Automatic Gun, Love Is Infectious (about STD's !) and the title track itself.
If it were not for Sylvian's overly-strained and screeching vocals and the audibly poor production applied, this could have been an excellent album, but alas, it is a generally patchy affair saved by a couple of great moments. However, a complete sea-change in their image and musical direction was thankfully already in the making and they released the classic Quiet Life album in 1979, one of the finest albums of the late-1970's which represented a hallmark by which much of 1980's music would follow.
However, OA is recommended for those interested in seeing how Japan transformed themselves from post-punk glamsters into silky-smooth synth n'bass advocates of everything Oriental, and one of the early-80's finest bands.

The Whole Story
The Whole Story
Price: £5.00

30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'As you'd expect' compilation of our Kate's singles releases, 30 Jan. 2001
This review is from: The Whole Story (Audio CD)
The Whole Story (1986) is a pretty standard and obvious collation of KB's singles releases between 1978 and 1986. It introduces the as yet uninitiated to 12 of her most popular songs, although perhaps the vastly overproduced 'new vocal' for Wuthering Heights was not the brightest of ideas.
The compulsory 'new' single (released for the compilation only), Experiment IV, is actually a fairly good track (a direct descendent from the Hounds Of Love album), but nothing to get overly excited about. The inclusion of The Dreaming (which only just made the Top 50) was perhaps another oversight, and could have been replaced with a classic 'non-single' song from Kate's expansive body of work, such as the excellent Them Heavy People, Suspended in Gaffa or Infant Kiss etc. Moreover, twelve tracks covering five albums is a tad tight-fisted considering the vast resevoir of work at the compiler's disposal.
However, with the likes of Babooshka, Breathing, Running Up That Hill, Army Dreamers and Wow all present and correct, The Whole Story is certainly enough to keep most punters thoroughly happy and will undoubtedly push many of them to investigate KB's unique talent a little deeper. Even by listening to this somewhat limited singles collection, you can still begin to explore a vast array of moods and textures, each of which is a small work of art in itself.
Die-hard fans willingly forked out over £90.00 for the This Woman's Work box-set compilation a few years later, so in comparison, The Whole Story is still quite good value for the non-completist. And no, I bought all the albums instead... it was actually cheaper !
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 6, 2011 2:34 PM BST

The Dreaming
The Dreaming
Offered by Qoolist
Price: £19.99

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Kate Bush's underrated 'experimental' phase, 30 Jan. 2001
This review is from: The Dreaming (Audio CD)
The Dreaming is another of Kate Bush's albums which, lets say, 'takes a bit of getting used to'. Contrary to popular belief, this is not an album full of our Kate constantly trying to destroy her own vocal chords, although she starts and finishes the album pretty 'loudly' with the excellent single Sat in Your Lap (a UK #11 hit) and the somewhat disjointed screamer, Get Out Of My House.
However, the undisputed highlight is the exceptional Suspended In Gaffa, the great KB single that never was, providing us with one of her greatest and most uplifting songs. This is worth the price of admission alone. Leave It Open is also a highly original song and a great follow-on track.
There are certainly some pretty weird moments here, especially on the aboriginal-esque title track (why was this chosen as a single ???) which apparantly featured Rolf Harris, while Kate entertains the guise of a heist thief on the quirky There Goes a Tenner (this could have almost been a Madness song !)
There are certainly hints of things to come (ie, on 1985's Hounds of Love) on the slower piano-driven numbers, the sublime Night of the Swallow and the moody All The Love, which provide the mellower moments on this topsy-turvy outing. If there are any gripes, then it is only because songs such as Houdini and Pull Out The Pin are just a too disjointed to be truly enjoyable (Houdini could have been a great song, but just has 'too' many ideas), but perhaps this is just being pedantic !
KB stated that this was her 'Mad Album', and in places it certainly makes pretty zany listening, but then again, that's all part of The Dreaming's enduring charm. It's perhaps true to say that this is'nt her best or most cohesive work to date, but it is perhaps her most experimental and intriguing, perhaps down to the fact that this was the first album she produced fully on her own and was only subject to her own creative input. Her obsessive attention to detail would finally pay-off handsomely on her classic Hounds of Love set three years later.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 27, 2014 2:14 PM BST

Falling Down [VHS]
Falling Down [VHS]
Offered by Discountdiscs-UK : Dispatched daily from the UK.
Price: £1.41

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars D-Fens enacts what most people think, 8 Jan. 2001
This review is from: Falling Down [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Michael Douglas was at the peak of his powers when he played the ex-missle engineer and contract worker, D-Fens, recently laid-off through his company's cynical programme of 'corporate rationalisation'. Whilst stuck trying to get home for his estranged daughter's birthday party, he gets stuck within a horrendous traffic-jam in sweltering heat. He finally snaps, leaving his car in the middle of the road and storming-off into LA's urban hinterland, briefcase in tow.
What follows makes for great, if generalistic, cinema. Each and every character he stumbles upon is either unwholesome, unfriendly or just plain rude. Thus, he treats these people in the way that we would all wish to treat them ourselves... if we only had the backbone and fear-nothing rage to do so.
Standing-up against the West's rip-off culture, xenophobia, homophobia, gangland violence and people's plain rudeness, Douglas brilliantly portrays the middle-class, rampaging vigilante with a social conscience, whilst oblivious to the carnage he himself is unwittingly manifesting around him. For the bulk of this movie, you find yourself on his side and find yourself agreeing with everything he says and does, whilst also feeling sad that society, for D-Fens in particular, has come to this.
It is true to say that director Joel Schumacher has portrayed an overly-stereotypical view of the LA ghetto-culture characters on display here, all of which are either unwholesome or just plain irritating. Is this just a cinematic attack on the US subculture/undeclass from white middle-class America ? Is that ever-growing subculture being created by the ever-growing and ever more prosperous American middle-class itself ?
However, Douglas plays his unhinged (not 'quite' mad) yet somehow sympathetic character with aplomb, whilst Robert Duvall is equally excellent, juxtaposing D-Fens as the calm, pen-pushing cop who pieces together what is unfolding in the suburbs, and has never had to shoot a suspect in his entire career.....
If it has any faults, it is perhaps that by generalising US culture in this way is to be terribly simplistic and overly-worthy (there are too many mini-speeches from Douglas which appear too-readily prepared), and it is perhaps a little too much 'in yer face' as opposed to having any real substance. The ending, while sad, is also somewhat rushed. Nevertheless, this is a still an engrossing film that you'll remember for sometime after viewing. Recommended.

Price: £51.60

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Matt & Marr's classic '93 cut, 11 Nov. 2000
This review is from: Dusk (Audio CD)
It was sheer relief to fans of The The in 1993 when Dusk was released, following their disappointingly stodgy and overproduced 'Mind Bomb' from 1989. Matt Johnson and Johnny Marr finally make their partnership come to full musical fruition on this sublime album which caters for an entire range of moods.
Standout tracks include the well-chosen singles Dogs of Lust, Love Is Stronger Than Death and of course the brilliant Slow Emotion Replay, The The's best piece of work since 'Heartland' in 1986, which has Marr's influence written all over it. Johnson also succeeds in making the closing track 'Lonely Planet' perhaps the only 'eco-song' in history a non-pretencious affair. Their is even a bit of funk here in the form of excellent 'Sodium Light Baby', which goes to show that the ever-despairing Johnson was actually enjoying himself whilst making this superb album.

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