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Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars he can at least earn his cut of my outlay and treat himself to something nice. I loved his work when I was a ..., 3 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Fragile (Audio CD)
Every 1st January I scan the newspapers and the net hoping to read of Midge finally receiving his long-overdue knighthood. As ever, there was no luck this year; it's simply scandalous, really. However, instead of coming away cursing Blighty for its usual short-sightedness and lack of meritocracy, I was fortified to read that Midge had actually brought out an album of new work a few months previously. Hence I decided to fork out a few quid for it; if he can't have a knighthood, I reasoned, he can at least earn his cut of my outlay and treat himself to something nice.
I loved his work when I was a nipper, but will be honest and say that his solo work at the turn of the century left me cold. Moreover the Ultravox reunion album, 'Brilliant', was a little disappointing - I'm guessing that you can't call an album 'Lukewarm' or 'Tepid'. Hence I was a tad cautious here. But on the whole it's very much a return to form. For such an articulate man, he remains a pretty awful lyricist, prone to quasi-spiritual bluster with little insight. Chris Martin disease, in effect. But he's a wonderful musician with an ear for a hook, and this is showcased on many of the tracks here. For me, the standout track is the instrumental 'Wire and Wood', a gorgeous 7 minute slice of ambient electro-pop. The first single, 'Become', is also a corker.
So well worth an investment; tasteful, melodic and really rather lovely.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 25, 2015 9:03 PM BST

The Common Linnets
The Common Linnets
Price: £9.97

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't know whether to laugh, cry or applaud ... so I'll do a bit of each, 30 May 2014
This review is from: The Common Linnets (Audio CD)
'Calm after the storm' is wonderful and, like many reviewers, what drew me to this album.
I'm no huge Country aficionado (either 'classic' or 'modern'), but I like a good bit of pedal guitar, a clever spot of harmonising and a generally well-crafted song. So this album as a whole ticks all those boxes; beautifully sung (particularly by De Lange - she's a major talent), tuneful and thoughtful, it's very easy on the ear throughout. Aside from the obvious Eurovision entry, there are 3-4 top songs on here; Give me a Reason, When love was king and Hungry Hands all sound like radio-friendly tunes to me.
The only thing I'm finding it hard to get past is that they are Dutch! You wouldn't, of course, realise this from their flawless vocals ('Calm after the schtorm', this ain't). But somehow references to 'Tennessee plains' and the like do sound a little out of place, though I'm aware that windmills and reclaimed land have less of an authentic C&W ring to them. I appreciate that this may mark me out as a daft old Englishman, but in my defence, I also find it odd when I hear artists from our little island affecting American accents and quite clearly pretending to be from The Bronx when they are actually from Surrey. Still, music is a unifying thing; many years ago I was in Singapore and was both bowled over and in stitches watching a veritable army of locals line-dancing in the street to a Ronan Keating country-lite ditty. So, in the spirit of hoedowners from the Far East and Stockbroker belt rappers, I doff my cap (or should that be 10 gallon hat) to the Nashville Netherlanders!

The Take Off And Landing Of Everything
The Take Off And Landing Of Everything
Offered by mrtopseller
Price: £3.95

21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely...just lovely, 15 Mar. 2014
In amongst all the talk of this album being cohesive, consistent and other repeatable C-words, its key strength is being missed: melody. I don't mean this in a pop-song sensibility way or even in the way that it's particularly hummable, but rather in the fact that, where Build a Rocket (in particular) lacked melody to the extent that the vocal line and key piano/ guitar line actually followed one another like 7 year-olds having a kickabout for much of the album, this collection is more finished and polished. Garvey's voice is also improving; at times he sounds like a Northern Mark Hollis (Talk Talk), a compliment that I suspect he'd be delighted with.
At the centre of all this loveliness is 'My Sad Captains', a song that moved me to tears on its first listen. It wasn't the sentimental and beautiful lyrics. It wasn't the brass band, as wondrous as it is. It wasn't the familiar, yearning chord progression (Elbow are nowhere near obtuse enough musically - thank the stars - to be considered a proper prog act). It was the song as a unit, how all the pieces are carefully woven together.
A beautiful, considered and intelligent album.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 19, 2014 6:44 AM GMT

Lower Reaches
Lower Reaches
Price: £11.73

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Let it echo round the hall..., 19 Aug. 2013
This review is from: Lower Reaches (Audio CD)
Despite the long-overdue and much-enjoyed publicity splurge for this record - Justin appears more tolerant of banal local radio DJs (and Wogan) these days - the album title is clearly prescient from a chart perspective. This is a shame as 'Lower Reaches' is his most interesting set of songs to date.
Thematically, the shadow of middle age creeps into many of the songs though, as ever, Currie deals with the subject indirectly and with his usual articulacy. Worryingly, he clearly was a bit poorly during the writing of much of the material; 'Bend to my Will' hints at the horrors of sickness and surgery and could almost have been called 'Blood in my Stool', whilst 'Into a Pearl', one of the real standouts on the album, contains couplets that suggest his carousing days may have taken their toll on his health. Whiskey Remorse, anyone?
Musically, the production of Mike McCarthy is a bit of a curate's egg. Having heard songs like 'Little Stars' and 'Priscilla' in the raw at concerts, I was intrigued to hear how an experienced producer would deal with them and I'm not sure of the results - the click track/ drum machine lends an intrusively homemade feel to both songs which rather detracts from the gorgeous melodies at their heart. Elsewhere, though, the production is more successful, whether it be in the barn-dance that is 'On My Conscience', the pop of 'Every Song's the Same' or the splendour of 'Falsetto', the true highlight of the album and the most moving song Currie's ever written. Expletives in songs are usually unnecessary and childish, but the payoff curse here is truly apposite and spine-chilling.
So, a really good body of work. Good man, Sir.

Build A Rocket Boys!
Build A Rocket Boys!
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £4.25

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Uneven - but nonetheless enjoyable, 8 May 2011
This review is from: Build A Rocket Boys! (Audio CD)
In true English version, I'll start with the negatives and then move onto the positives!

1) The album title needs a comma (Build a Rocket, Boys)
2) Unimaginative melody construction on several songs, wherein the melody Guy sings is mirrored by a keyboard or guitar line. This works better on some songs than others, but the overall effect is of laziness and a lack of ideas. This makes me sound like a muso, I suspect. But it's as a muso that I was first drawn to 'Newborn'.
3) A few obvious bits of plagiarism: 'Dear Friends' is breathtakingly similar to 'New Grass' from Talk Talk's final album, 'Laughing Stock', the 'Everyone is here' motif of Open Arms has been used by The Finn Brothers (indeed, it's what they called their last album!) and the central keyboard solo of 'The Birds' is pure Gabriel. However, in their defense, if you're going to pilfer, then pilfering from Hollis, Finn and Gabriel is no bad thing.

Elsewhere, though, there is much to be lauded. 'The Birds', in particular, is an absolute belter of a song. Several others (notably 'Lippy Kids', 'The Night will always win' and 'Open Arms') should be at the forefront of any retrospective 'Best Of' collections, too. And, on the whole, it's beautifully played, produced and sung - three qualities that are desperately in short supply in this day and age.

It isn't their best work. But, fortunately, I suspect their best work is to come.

The Great War
The Great War
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £12.49

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars His most consistent work in years - perhaps ever?, 3 Jun. 2010
This review is from: The Great War (Audio CD)
I've read a handful of reviews for this below-the-radar album both here on Amazon and elsewhere on the Internet. It's slightly perverse that, whilst Justin's sales barely register these days, his critical stock has probably never been higher. And I'll have to supply another pat on the back - this is a cracking album, a thought-provoking and melodic work from start to finish. Not sure about the artwork (though there's clearly an ageing picture in Mr Currie's attic - he's doing well for a man in his mid 40s, lucky sod). That said, as I stopped taking an interest in art when Tony Hart introduced Chas to Morph (the Scrappy Doo of plasticine), I'm maybe not best qualified to pass judgement.
Song by song, then:
1) A Man with Nothing To Do: proof that Currie writes catchier verses and middle eights than choruses, this opens the album in fine style. Not sure I'd have made it the first - and probably only - single (instead, see 5 and 8), but nonetheless a portent of good things and a fair representation of his reasonably chipper mood.
2) Anywhere I'm Away from You: probably my least favourite song on the album. That's not to say it's bad, and musically it's a step in a different direction, but nothing grabs me aside from the 'ba-da' backing vocals in the final verse.
3) At Home Inside of Me: devilishly catchy with lyrics darker than an empty cinema.
4) You'll Always Walk Alone: great title, but he labours it rather. It's a fine song and one that seems to have caught the imagination of the professional critics, but to these amateur ears it's a little too redolent of his first solo album (which I call 'Justin does knees-up')
5) Can't Let Go of Her Now: I just saw the fantastic Pony Club vid of this on YouTube (the dancing bit made me chuckle) and it's what inspired me to write this review. 10-15 years ago, this would have got the Dels in the top 10 and it's his best poppy song since 'Not where it's at'. Deserves a wider audience.
6) The Fight to be Human: does anyone else own the song 'Sea Man' by Don McLean? Mid-late 1970s album track? Melodic neighbours I'd say, but sentimentally very different as whilst McLean (a man ahead of his time) is getting all green and trying to save the world, Currie (a man of straw - no need for any chronology) is trying to save himself. It's powerful stuff and the rightful centrepiece of the album - though not, by a long shot, its best tune
7) Ready To Be: good, solid rock/ pop song akin to something from the Change Everything era. And that's a good thing
8) The Way That It Falls: it's very rare that Currie does songs in a minor key, but this is a gorgeous, haunting ballad. First heard on YouTube a couple of years back, the album version is beautifully arranged and enhances his piano version. You know, I think this might just be the best song he's written. Only in my humble opinion, of course.
9) As Long As You Don't Come Back: a song with a wink in its eye, this is another tune that's been around for a while. Fortunately, it is a welcome lingerer: the whiff of an old flame's perfume rather than the stale wind they've broken into your settee over the years. The Germans call songs like these an 'Ohrwurm', apparently - how appropriate. Good grief, that's three senses in one song review: sight, smell and hearing. Is that a record? (Cue: 'no, what you're reviewing is...get on with it')
10) Everyone I Love: I'm guessing Justin's family and friends know him well enough by now to know that he's exercising his creativity and not venting his spleen, for this is truly a nasty piece of work. Either that or he puts emoticons on his lyric sheets to avoid misinterpretation.
11) Baby, You Survived: continues his traditon of having a comma in the last song of an album. It's a lovely, sweeping ballad with his best middle eight in ages. For his next album, am hoping the last tune will be called 'Reykjavik, Iceland' as a way of continuing the punctuation theme and simultaneously paying homage to 80s comedy. Justin, on the off-chance you're reading this, surely a comma-song competition would be a belting idea for your web site?

So there you go. Assuming you're still awake, highly recommended you buy this.

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