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Perfect Circle: The Story of REM
Perfect Circle: The Story of REM
by Tony Fletcher
Edition: Paperback
Price: 12.79

3.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Circle, 28 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
After the band had gone their separate ways, this book merited an article on the band's official website, and on purchasing, the author in the introduction also suggests that his book should be viewed as an unofficial, but endorsed by the band all the same, autobiography. So it should be the perfect overview of the career of Athens' finest, and now as it's new title suggests, also be a story with a beginning, middle, and end.

Actually, it reads well enough to keep the attention, despite the overall story arc being likely well known to anyone interested enough in the band to read the book.

So why three stars? Somehow, the work is let down by the editing or fact checking - it is clear the author is a fan of the band, and has made some effort to pull all this together, so would be expected to be something of an authority on the topic. It's therefore disappointing that there are several obvious small errors dotted throughout the book that would have been easy to check, which casts doubt on the quality of everything else.

A few examples: there is no song on Accelerate (Standard Version) called Supernatural Superstitious. Everybody Hurts (Album Version) was not the second REM song over 5 minutes long after Camera, Oddfellows Local 151 on Document (R.E.M. No. 5) was also over 5 minutes long. Revolution did not see it's only release on Perfect Square [DVD] [2003], it was also on a Batman soundtrack - Revolution. All of which is clearly nitpicking, but if someone whose REM knowledge came from a CD collection and magazine interviews can pick these up, who knows how many more there are in the text.

But then, for a band who prided themselves on their mystery, perhaps this is as it ought to be. Approached in this way it makes for a good read, though the band is not one to turn to if you are after tales of rock star debauchery (as the author makes plain as he tells the air rage story). But not as definitive as might be hoped for a book touted on the band's website.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 19, 2013 7:51 PM BST


Document (25th Anniversary Edition)
Document (25th Anniversary Edition)
Price: 12.06

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars REM No. 5, 7 Oct 2012
The topic of "What is REM's best album" is exactly the sort of topic that is designed to set internet forums alight, and it is one that has been dissected many ways, it's one of the great things about the band that there's so many different sides to their albums.

For me though, this is one of the big ones. As described in the essay in the new accompanying booklet, it's a muscular album, the production is clear and clean, and most of all it is a consistent set of strong songs. Fireplace perhaps feels a little out of place on the album, a b-side that accidentally made the big time, but even that isn't a really bad track. And then there's 'The One I Love", "It's The End Of The World As We Know It", and "Finest Worksong", three different singles but all very memorable. This album is very much the sound of REM as a rock band, the songs are often uptempo, the guitars often crunchy. The remaster sounds good, but it's the underlying album that's excellent and a 5 star effort - though really if you just want Document, you can buy Document (Remastered) which is an older reissue that actually contains bonus tracks not in this version.

So for your extra cash, what do you get here? A large cardboard box (in line with the last couple of REM reissues) filled with extra paper (postcards and a poster, which will likely stay in the box and are all a bit pointless, even more so for a band with REM's green credentials). A new booklet with an essay on the album which doesn't really have much to add. And then a second CD with a live show from the same era, featuring most of the album's songs and several older tracks as well. This is the real draw for the extra expense and it's an interesting listen. Most of the songs sound a little rawer and looser, as you'd expect from a live recording, most notably Lightnin' Hopkins without the studio bass sounds over the drum pattern. And The One I Love kicks off in a low key fashion before turning into the album version. Is it essential? No. But as a document of REM in 1987 it'll do.

So 4 stars, mainly from a value for money perspective, because although the album itself is great, unless you really want to hear the live performance you may as well go for a single CD version.


Live! - More Than You'll Ever Need [Explicit]
Live! - More Than You'll Ever Need [Explicit]
Price: 7.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More than you'll ever need?, 8 Sep 2012
Another Silver Sun product slips onto the world's digital shelves, this time a compliation of live recordings from the band's first two albums, Silver Sun and Neo Wave.

It's a good selection of the harmonious punk pop fun that is Silver Sun. And whilst naturally the live recordings are not as pristine and immaculate as the studio versions, they showcase a band that is playing tightly together.

And there's a song that isn't on other releases too, the mid tempo Forgot To Mention. Which is a good addition to the band's catalogue and well worth a listen. Two original tracks, if you count the blast of the 'Intro Song'.

And if you like your music digital, it doesn't look the Neo Wave album is available as a downlaod yet, so this is a good way to get hold of versions of the tracks from there.

But is it more than you'll ever need? No... after this, there's Disappear Here and Dad's Weird Dream to enjoy... and who knows, maybe one day another album will sneak out into the wild. We can but hope.


Under The Westway
Under The Westway

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A coda to the story of Blur?, 7 Sep 2012
This review is from: Under The Westway (Audio CD)
Earlier this year, at the Shepherd's Bush Empire, Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon of Blur were performing a short acoustic set as part of a charity show. They played 3 songs, of which the real surprise of the night was the unveiling of Under The Westway, the first new Blur song since the Record Store Day single Fool's Day a few years ago. Much excitement ensued and the performance was all over youtube from various cameraphones around the venue - would there, at long last, be a new Blur album?

No.

But a plethora of Blur releases have hit the shelves, re-releases of all the albums, the mega box set Blur 21: The Box [Bonus Three DVD's and One 7" LP Record] that contains nearly every Blur song ever released, a live recording of the summer Hyde Park concert, and this single.

Under The Westway is the headline track, and is a delicate piano led ballad, another in the Blur canon to reference London's Westway. It's a strong song and grows on repeat listens. It feels a grown up song - a world away from the Blur that threw out anthemic choruses, but none the worse for it.

And the flipside is The Puritan. This has nanana bits in for singalong purposes, and is more up tempo and electric, there's a lot going on behind the vocals to the extent it becomes a bit of a skittish wall of sound. It's fun, but Under The Westway is probably the song you'll return to more often.

Also on the CD single is an acoustic rendition of Under The Westway, which goes back to that original Shepherds Bush performance and mainly shows that adding extra instrumentation and bells (but not whistles) in this case really helps make the track, and instrumental versions of Under The Westway and The Puritan which are largely filler unless you have a karaoke urge for one of these tracks.

So two new Blur songs, that can only be good thing. But worth buying the CD single? Only if you like your music in physical form. If not, the MP3 release will do just fine, the extra tracks really are completists only fare.


Jaggy Splinters
Jaggy Splinters
Price: 1.99

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jaggy Splinters, 8 Jun 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Jaggy Splinters (Kindle Edition)
Chris Brookmyre, as his book jackets now proclaim him, here releases onto the Kindle a short set of short stories more in keeping with the "Christopher" era - Jack Parlabane can be found in these e-pages, most entertainingly in a story where he squares up against the homeopathy industry and brings all his journalistic methods to bear.

In fact, most of the stories included are good fun, though the final section recalling playgound football is less a of story and more of an amusing magazine article - and less of a good read for it.

However, at the time of writing, the majority of the content included in this collection is available on the author's website for free. So, if you are going somewhere with a Kindle but no internet, and need some new Brookmyre, then this will do nicely. Or, for the pre-mentioned homeopathy story, which isn't on the site and is worth a read. So, 5 stars for the content but 3 for value for (admittedly not much) money - an average of 4.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 1, 2013 2:47 PM BST


Pour Some Sugar On Me (2012)
Pour Some Sugar On Me (2012)
Price: 0.69

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two lumps please..., 5 Jun 2012
Both this and the Rock Of Ages (2012) downloads are re-recordings of classic Def Leppard tracks available as digital downloads for the first time. These two tracks presumably chosen as they will link in with the new Rock Of Ages movie that is soon to be released.

How does this differ to the original version on Hysteria? Well, it doesn't start with the "Step inside, walk this way..." bit. Otherwise, it's pretty much identical, the guitars perhaps mixed differently and you can imagine that after years of playing the song live it didn't take so long to record this time as in Hysteria.

Still, 5 stars as it's a great party song, the orignal recording was great, and this sounds like it! Value for money wise, both this and Rock of Ages feature on the Greatest Hits compilation Vault which is a good place to start a journey into the music of Def Leppard and will be cheaper on a per song basis - but isn't available digitally.


Rock Of Ages (2012)
Rock Of Ages (2012)
Price: 0.89

5.0 out of 5 stars Better to burn out? Or fade away?, 5 Jun 2012
This review is from: Rock Of Ages (2012) (MP3 Download)
Def Leppard have released re-recordings of two back catalog songs, this and Pour Some Sugar On Me (2012), presumably so that they have digital product on the virtual shelves as the new Rock Of Ages movie is released.

How does this compare to the original on Pyromania? If you played them next to each other, you may not guess which was the original and which was the re-recording, they are similar enough. Perhaps the new version is mixed slightly brighter, but not in a way that either detracts or adds to the song.

Which is a good thing - if this is the way to get Def Leppard available digitally, then having the song sound as good as it ever, a fists in the air rock anthem, is the way to go. And that's the reason for the 5 stars: this MP3 represents 4 minutes of fun.

However, if you are not wedded to having the music delivered digitally, and want some Def Leppard for your collection, then the Vault Greatest Hits CD may be the place to start.

And hopefully in future the band will be able to get their back catalogue up digitally, and use their studio time to produce more new music - they haven't burnt out or faded away yet.


Rock Of Ages (2012)
Rock Of Ages (2012)
Price: 0.89

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better to burn out? Or fade away?, 4 Jun 2012
This review is from: Rock Of Ages (2012) (MP3 Download)
Def Leppard have released re-recordings of two back catalog songs, this and Pour Some Sugar On Me (2012), presumably so that they have digital product on the virtual shelves as the new Rock Of Ages movie is released.

How does this compare to the original on Pyromania? If you played them next to each other, you may not guess which was the original and which was the re-recording, they are similar enough. Perhaps the new version is mixed slightly brighter, but not in a way that either detracts or adds to the song.

Which is a good thing - if this is the way to get Def Leppard available digitally, then having the song sound as good as it ever, a fists in the air rock anthem, is the way to go. And that's the reason for the 5 stars: this MP3 represents 4 minutes of fun.

However, if you are not wedded to having the music delivered digitally, and want some Def Leppard for your collection, then the Vault Greatest Hits CD may be the place to start.

And hopefully in future the band will be able to get their back catalogue up digitally, and use their studio time to produce more new music - they haven't burnt out or faded away yet.


Pour Some Sugar On Me (2012)
Pour Some Sugar On Me (2012)
Price: 0.69

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two lumps please..., 4 Jun 2012
Both this and the Rock Of Ages (2012) downloads are re-recordings of classic Def Leppard tracks available as digital downloads for the first time. These two tracks presumably chosen as they will link in with the new Rock Of Ages movie that is soon to be released.

How does this differ to the original version on Hysteria? Well, it doesn't start with the "Step inside, walk this way..." bit. Otherwise, it's pretty much identical, the guitars perhaps mixed differently and you can imagine that after years of playing the song live it didn't take so long to record this time as in Hysteria.

Still, 5 stars as it's a great party song, the orignal recording was great, and this sounds like it! Value for money wise, both this and Rock of Ages feature on the Greatest Hits compilation Vault which is a good place to start a journey into the music of Def Leppard and will be cheaper on a per song basis - but isn't available digitally.


Ultimate Guitar Play-Along R.E.M.: Authentic Guitar TAB (Book & CD) (Ultimate Play-Along)
Ultimate Guitar Play-Along R.E.M.: Authentic Guitar TAB (Book & CD) (Ultimate Play-Along)
by R. E. M.
Edition: Sheet music
Price: 11.93

4.0 out of 5 stars Paying Along with "R.E.M.", 2 Jun 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This CD and book combination is good fun to play around with - personally, I quite enjoy these stripped out backing tracks to play along instead of the original recordings simply because your guitar then becomes the main focus - you might not want to perform like that, particularly with REM where the guitar is more of a rhythm instrument than a lead one in many cases, but it's good fun as a practice tool. It also means you are not playing off vocal or guitar cues in the song, also good practice for playing in a real band.

The backing tracks on this CD are all pretty good - although the solo section of What's The Frequency Kenneth is filled with a representation of the original backwards solo (and that isn't tabbed here, though if you wanted it, it's in R.E.M. Guitar Tab Anthology (Authentic Guitar-Tab Editions)) and I think there may be a small error in the verse chords from The One I Love.

The tab itself seems to contain enough information to play the songs, which is what you need. Certainly enough to take as a springboard to go and work out decent versions of each of the songs included in this set.

Basically, if you like the songs, you're likely to enjoy playing them!


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