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Legion of Super-Heroes - Archives, Vol 10 (DC Archive Editions)
Legion of Super-Heroes - Archives, Vol 10 (DC Archive Editions)
by Cary Bates
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars Rebirth!, 9 April 2009
In volume 10 of DC's 12 volume run charting the Silver and early Bronze Age adventures of the Legion of Superheroes, we find the Legion spluttering back to life in the early 1970s after a brief period of inactivity following the ignominy of being moved from `Adventure' to the back up feature in `Action' comics (as documented in Vol 9) and then cancelled.

No longer under their own title, but appearing sporadically in `Superboy' the Legion was slowly resuscitated by veteran writer E Nelson Bridwell and young gun, Cary Bates with art by Nick Cardy and Dave Cockrum. Cockrum was largely responsible for redefining the look of the Legion by redesigning many of the Legionnaires' costumes and whilst the majority were an improvement, I'll never forgive him for what he did to Phantom Girl - the legacy of her bell-bottoms lives to this day!

This period in the Legion's history where the Silver Age crosses over to the Bronze Age is a bit patchy. It seems that the writers were torn between remaining faithful to the earlier continuity of the 1960s `Adventure' series and re-introducing the re-styled team to new readers after the enforced break. Inevitably the stories suffer a lack of direction although they do include the first Legion wedding.

Nevertheless, for Legion followers this is a crucial period where the team, having been resurrected by public demand from a premature demise, takes on new and popular member in Wildfire and reasserts itself again in the DC universe.

Marks/Mountain Queen
Marks/Mountain Queen

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Double Dutch!, 17 Oct. 2008
This review is from: Marks/Mountain Queen (Audio CD)
I first saw Dutch prog-rockers, Alquin when they had a TV guest slot on that holy of holies, `The Old Grey Whistle Test' doing a cut down version of `The Dance' in 1973 and decided that I would take a chance on them. After an age of trekking around all the local record stores in the district I finally secured a copy. Thankfully, they didn't disappoint and my slightly warped vinyl copy has been a constant companion until I finally managed to get hold of this twofer CD copy.

This CD twins the albums `Marks' and `The Mountain Queen' and in my opinion presents them at their best.

The later `Mountain Queen' will always merit a place in my heart (music division) because a) it was a bugger to find in the first place - and that fact alone gives it a sort of rarity mystique and b) it contains some of the finest instrumental rock outside of Focus despite the band looking like a bunch of hippy rejects. As with most card-carrying prog albums it contains two lengthy pieces clocking in at around 13 minutes each surrounded by a smattering of shorter fillers. There are some vocal moments, sung in a hushed whispery voice but generally it is the instrumental sections that really shine.

Being a 6 piece band, Alquin had variety of sound as a major asset. It means that the two long pieces, the title track and `The Dance' are constructed of a number of sections of differing moods including not just the usual guitar based rock but softer parts making use of flute, saxophones and keyboards. As is usual for bands of that era, the playing is fabulous and the musical dynamic carefully built throughout the length of the piece. This is why I like it - it is the mixture of great musicianship and the constructional understanding which prevents it from being a boring extended jam.

`Marks' is a sort of embryonic `Mountain Queen' comprising one longer piece with a greater selection of shorter tracks, all of which demonstrate the same musical dexterity but with less prog and a more esoteric style. Frankly you'd be hard pushed to find a better twinned CD than this if you like 1970s solid musicianship with progressive overtones.

Price: £60.31

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lush's Finest Moment, 12 Mar. 2008
This review is from: Split (Audio CD)
Split is Lush's crowning moment. It melds the swirling aural soundscapes of their shoegazing past with the hook-laden pop sensibility they would bring to the fore on their subsequent album, `Lovelife'. Add in Mike Hedges' glacial production to the mix and what you have is an album of sparkling, yet delicately brittle guitar driven songs of varying tempo and intensity.

The combination of `Light from a Dead Star' followed by `Kiss Chase' is probably one of the finest starts to an album anywhere. In fact the first half, mainly written by Miki Berenyi is almost relentlessly upbeat and contains arguably one of her best ever songs, the bile spitting `Hypocrite'. The second half comprises Emma Anderson's more laid back musical architecture, including the deliriously languid `Desire Lines' and spine-tingly melancholic closer, `When I Die'. This half lets you down gently after the rush of the first half and gives the whole project a shape and sense of purpose.

Hedges, brought in to replace Robin Guthrie after the criticism aimed at previous album, `Spooky', draws on his early 1980s work and pitches his production somewhere between the sparseness of the Cure's `Seventeen Seconds' and the raw energy of the Banshees `A Kiss in the Dreamhouse'. It gives the album an almost glassily clear sound that draws you into its unfathomable depths.

Altogether a much underrated album. Who said the 1990s didn't produce anything of note?

All Over The Place (Bonus Track) [Us Import]
All Over The Place (Bonus Track) [Us Import]
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £15.95

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Early Promise, 20 Feb. 2008
As a longstanding Bangles fan, I bought this album soon after its release in 1984 and it still remains a favourite because it captures them in their early stages, belting out their trademark garage rock with psychedelic overtones.

After this release their career took a more polished road towards mainstream stardom, eventual implosion and later reincarnation, but at this stage, their first full length album, they were rough, ready and compelling.

The first batch of five songs (side 1 on the original vinyl) is as upbeat as they have ever been, starting with the sing-a-long `Hero Takes a Fall' and ending with the shimmering `Dover Beach' where their steely guitars clash and grind against a stately rhythm. I remember seeing them live around this time and they played this song twice to rapturous applause.

The remainder is more mellow and includes Kimberley Rew's `Going Down to Liverpool' (the video of which featured Leonard Nimoy), but the energy levels never drop.

The recognisable hits `Manic Monday' and `Eternal Flame' would follow but this album showcases a young and hungry Bangles and highlights their mature songwriting and more than competent playing at a time when they had little recognition. A must for all Bangles fans and anyone else who like their rock a bit rough around the edges.

Dusty Springfield: Live At The BBC [DVD] [2007]
Dusty Springfield: Live At The BBC [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Dusty Springfield
Offered by jim-exselecky
Price: £12.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Brilliant!, 3 Jan. 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
In the 1960s, in an effort to ride on the coattails of the burgeoning new-fangled pop music wave, television companies snapped up the more presentable performers and gave them their own TV shows.

It became apparent that Dusty was head and shoulders the best singer, but perhaps not the best host, so her show played to her strength and comprised little more than a succession of songs sung against a cheap backdrop, with a guest spot or two to break it up. This BBC DVD release of several surviving archive tapes of these programmes shows the format and is sensational.

These are programmes from an era when material was recorded `Live' and then broadcast (and then generally wiped!) so what the viewer is seeing is effectively a live concert of 6 or so songs. No miming, no edits. What strikes you when watching these shows is not how primitive they look, but what a stunningly good singer, Dusty was. She takes on every style and musical genre with consummate ease without the need for dance troupes or tele-visual effects. The songs include showtunes, standard ballads, gospel, folk, blues, and most important of all, R&B. Nothing seems to be beyond her canon and it is captivating. How many singers do you know today who could sing live on television and cross all these boundaries in 30 minutes?

Most interesting of all is the undercurrent of subversion. Here was a white, seemingly middleclass woman appearing on the bastion of middle England; the BBC, but singing a great wodge of black American music and one wonders how this went down with the establishment of the day?

These early tapes show her at her best, just singing and entertaining us as she did so. The slow descent into relative obscurity and eventual death through cancer seems so far away at this point it makes you want to cry.

White Chalk
White Chalk
Price: £4.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Real Progress, 3 Jan. 2008
This review is from: White Chalk (Audio CD)
I have had a conditional relationship with Polly Jean, dipping in and out of her career as the urge took me whilst she ploughed her lonely and eclectic furrow over the last 15 years or so. Whilst I admire her greatly and like a great deal of her work, I find her albums difficult to listen to in their entirety (all except `Stories from the City...' anyway). But `White Chalk' is something else - brittle, haunting and utterly captivating.

By all accounts, she decided to discard her trusty jagged guitar and learn to play the piano. All the songs on this CD are piano based and this probably explains why they are so different to her usual fare. John Lennon, as a guitarist, once said that he preferred writing at the piano as it was a lesser-known instrument and he didn't fall into the trap of following well-known chord sequences. I suspect the same applies to PJ and it has produced a magical album, full of ghostly melodies and unusual atonal chord structures.

In the early 1990s, the music magazine `Q' decided that the future of females in music was represented by PJ Harvey, Björk and Tori Amos and to be fair they were not far wrong. The interesting point is that all these years later `White Chalk' sounds very close to what you would expect a collaboration between the other two sides of the `Q' triangle, Björk and Tori Amos might sound like! It marries Amos's kooky piano to Björk's melodic invention but and then sprinkles it with the lyrical directness that makes it a PJ album without doubt.

This is progress and possibly her best album to date.

Return to Bangleonia: Live in Concert [DVD] [2007] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Return to Bangleonia: Live in Concert [DVD] [2007] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Price: £7.74

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Welcome Back!, 16 Nov. 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
In 2000, after over a decade apart being mums and doing other musical projects, The Bangles re-grouped and played a hometown gig at the House of Blues in LA. This, their first live concert DVD is the result and what a welcome release it is.

I remember seeing them live in the UK on several occasions in the 1980s and they were always an act worth the admission price. It seems nothing much has changed only now they have a much broader set list to pick from. All the hits are here (although I could live without hearing `Manic Monday' and `Walk Like an Egyptian' ever again) interspersed with old album tracks and new material that would eventually form part of `Doll Revolution' released a couple of years later. Tellingly, the new material sits more than comfortably amongst the older songs.

Their instrumental prowess is still more than competent but it is their vocal harmony singing that really impresses. Time has not dimmed those voices and all four of them sing beautifully either together or individually. Who said Susanna Hoffs was the only singer in the band?

Sure they seem a bit rusty at first, there are a few bum notes and a broken string wrong-foots one of Vicki Peterson's solos but it is the `warts and all' presentation that endears you to this performance. No overdubs or later tampering here, just an honest and engaging concert from a band that sets out to have fun and doesn't take itself too seriously.

Still well worth the admission price.

Chicago V
Chicago V
Offered by marvelio-uk
Price: £8.78

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Early peak for Chicago, 12 Nov. 2007
This review is from: Chicago V (Audio CD)
When Chicago's albums were first issued on vinyl, this was number five in the series, but it was their first-ever single album, following three doubles and a live quadruple! And it is arguably their best. Despite a career stretching out over twenty plus albums and thirty odd years, this is probably the apex of a creative trajectory that started high, remained high but peaked here before the slow descent into MOR.

All the characteristics of their earlier works are here, the complex brass arrangements, the political statements and extended instrumental interludes but in the context of this album, they are distilled into a more concentrated whole where there is virtually not a dull moment. The only aspect really missing from the previous sprawling double albums is Terry Kath's rampaging guitar, which has no room to stretch out. Instead we are treated to some tight rhythm work and flashes of those liquid runs as a tantalising taster.

More than anything, this is songwriter Robert Lamm's finest hour. Eight of the ten songs are his and what an exemplary lot they are from the jazz of `A Hit by Varese' and `Goodbye' to the funk of `State of the Union' and the pop of `Saturday in the Park'. James Pankow's brass arrangements are fabulously rumbustous and atonal to suit and Peter Cetera shows once again what a massively talented bass player he is - a fact most people ignore in the glare of his later period balladeering.

The sound quality is brilliant - brass recordings on vinyl tend to end up a screechy mess as the grooves deteriorate but this digital re-mastered version reinstates the proper sound balance. Frankly, I'm not a fan of bonus tracks as they tend to detract from the original running order but they are here for completists only.

In summary, this is an album where the undoubted dexterity of the playing from all quarters meets a bunch of quality songs and produces a result that satisfies both the head and the heart.

Chicago III
Chicago III
Price: £8.62

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Last Great Double, 20 July 2007
This review is from: Chicago III (Audio CD)
This is the album that got me through my `O' Levels (remember them?) and was accordingly played to death, so it is great to hear it again in pristine condition.

Chicago III is the last great double album in a trilogy of doubles that kick-started Chicago's career way back in the early 1970s. After this came the slow descent into MOR and 1980s balladeering, but it is the first three albums that contain the spirit of Chicago and should be how they are remembered.

What really becomes apparent listening to this album today is the sheer breadth of style and diversity contained within it, something today's bands seem to struggle to produce, almost without exception. In loose terms the four sides of the original vinyl album can be labelled, `Rock', `Jazz', `Folk/Blues' and `Film Soundtrack'. Within these categories we are treated to complex instrumentals, simple acoustic songs, full-blown rock `n' roll with Terry Kath's rampant guitar to the fore and delicate `chamber' music using combinations of brass and woodwind instruments in addition to the usual rock fare.

In addition to the variety and quality of the writing and arrangements, the standard of playing is exceptional. Make no mistake these are talented individuals. Anyone looking for some energetic jazz rock in a variety of forms, look no further than this album and its two predecessors. Those used to `If You Leave Me Now' may be in for a shock!
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 29, 2013 1:31 PM BST

Shoot The Moon
Shoot The Moon
Offered by BestSellerRecordshop
Price: £6.52

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Judie Shoots High, 20 July 2007
This review is from: Shoot The Moon (Audio CD)
In the early 1980s Judie Tzuke was in her heyday. The atmospheric `Stay With Me Till Dawn' had first propelled her into the public eye some years earlier but it is this album in particular, released in 1982 that showcases her talent at its best.

Having left Elton John's Rocket Records after the lacklustre `I Am the Phoenix', this, her first album for new label Chrysalis is a cracker, filled with ballsy rockers and plaintive ballads. Whilst there is a diversity of tempo and style on show in the 12 or so songs, there is a binding factor at work and it is melody. Judie's albums are always rich in melody but this album contains some real beauties.

Of particular note is the heartfelt `Late Again', one of her best songs and the swirling, hypnotic `Liggers at Your Funeral' (written, I believe, to express her disgust at the behaviour on show at Peter Seller's funeral). There is hardly a weak track on the album which serves to highlight both her exhilarating soprano and her songwriting ability in partnership with Mike Paxman.

Unfortunately, the promise of this album was dissipated by the less than great content of subsequent release, `Ritmo' and more label hopping, but there is no doubt that `Shoot the Moon' is a very fine album indeed. First timers would do no worse than to start here.

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