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A. Knibb "alexknibb" (Bristol, UK.)

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Ballet For Beginners
Ballet For Beginners
Price: £0.00

1.0 out of 5 stars unusable, 7 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Ballet For Beginners (App)
Rubbish. No real info, constant random diverts to other apps, just advertising of the worst kind. Save wear on your fingers, don't waste them clicking on this.

Fundamental [Special Edition]
Fundamental [Special Edition]
Price: £39.21

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Pet Shop Boys, Fundamentally., 9 Jun 2006
When the last Pet Shop Boys CD arrived on the scene, many music journalists hailed it as their "return to form". Now, where have we heard that before? And how many times have you agreed? It strikes me that music journalists can't face it that some bands will frankly never return to their heyday. A classic example was REM. Reveal was widely touted as their "return to form". Good album it may have been, but it was no Automatic For The People by a long shot. The same syndrome applied to Release by the Pet Shop Boys. The only problem is the critics were exactly one album too early. For critics to write off a band with a pedigree such as the Pet Shop Boys' to a below par album as "Release" being a Return To Form is insulting.

They could be forgiven. Who in their right minds could have predicted an album of such calibre as Fundamental to come along? How many bands can honestly say that after 18 years in the business, they can still produce an album to rival their very best? Very few. And in my honest opinion, not even the mighty REM. But the Pet Shop Boys have pulled it off. Big time.

Fundamental, as well as being an obvious pun on many of themes of the album, also sums up the musicality of this CD. This is the culmination of almost two decades' work. There's the gentle, confident melancholy of Behaviour, the gay electronic abandon of Very and melodic playfulness of Please. This album is Fundamentally the Pet Shop Boys more than any other they have produced.

Speaking of production, it's this album's key strength. The production on pretty much every album they've produced since Very has been its let down. Uneven production on Release massacred some fine work, turning in particular the likes of Home into a dirge of Death Valley level dryness. Let's not even mention Birthday Boy, eh? Pairing up with Trevor Horn again on the new album is nothing short of inspired. Every song sparkles and glistens with freshness without being overly 'showy' or cerebral.

The synth-laden opening of the fantastic The Sodom And Gomorrah Show and its insanely catchy chorus are reminiscent of Shameless and Yesterday, When I Was Mad, in other words; quintessentially PSB, but with a modern shine that makes your ears prick up and take notice. The thumping electric bassline of I'm With Stupid takes a song which maybe, in raw terms, isn't PSB's best and highlights all its best qualities so what we're left with is a classic. So, slightly different from the recent past when a great song had its life sucked out by bland production.

The slower songs are nothing short of breathtaking in places too. Luna Park glows like a twilight paradise. Here, the songwriting is undoubtedly one of PSB's finest. This, coupled with the exemplary production present on the whole tracklist and some wonderful harmonies, creates a song which shouldn't fail to send a tingle down the spine of any listener.

The additional CD is well worth the additional cost. Unlike most remix CDs, this plays like a definite Fundamental Part 2. The remixers' respect for the source material means that the remixed album material highlights the strength of the melodies, particularly on the two The Sodom And Gomorrah Show mixes, whereas the wonderfully camp duet with Elton John on the PSB-penned In Private (Remember Dusty anyone?) injects a fantastic element of fun into the proceedings.

What can I say? It's been a long time since I've been this excited by a CD, and even longer since it bore the name Pet Shop Boys, but all those journalists who touted Release as their 'return to form' should next time wait until it's actually true, rather than trying to get the jump on their peers by being first to say it. They were one album too early last time.

If I'm also one album too early, then I'm going to be even more delighted.

Tales of Symphonia (GameCube)
Tales of Symphonia (GameCube)

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Final Fantasy X was rubbish. Thankfully, this isn't., 5 July 2005
When I swapped my PS2 for a GameCube a couple of years ago, I mourned giving up Final Fantasies. The FF series were brilliant, and Final Fantasy VII had the same effect on me as the first time I played Civilization on the Amiga so many years ago. I just couldn't believe that a game like Final Fantasy VII could be SO expansive and SO enthralling. Final Fantasy VIII and IX followed, and I revelled in every glorious cutscene, even shedding a tear for the first time in a game during VIII. What a shame, then, when FFX turned out to be such a pile of brown poo. Suddenly the series became completely linear and a cliche of itself.
So, why am I prattling on about a completely different series of games? Well, because I think Tales Of Symphonia showed me that there IS life beyond and after Final Fantasy. Namco seem to have created a wonderful treat in a game which will have you grinning, laughing, gasping, gritting your teeth and not getting enough sleep to function at work properly.
The 3D backdrops and brilliantly polished cel-shaded characters give the game a fine crisp appeal. The music, while fairly standard fare in this style of game, is very accomplished and adds nicely to the atmosphere.
The battle system is a little different to most RPGs out there. Now, I'm ordinarily a fan of turn-based combat, and was wary of how well a real time system would work, but it adds a fresh excitement to the battles, and the bosses can be challenging and a lot of fun. It is all very complicated to get going, but I'm not that bright, so I'm sure an intelligent chap/chapess like you would have no problems.
There are a couple of areas the game could be improved in. The cut scenes, while gorgeous in their own right, are few and far between. I'd gladly have sacrificed all the voice work for a few more graphical carrots on sticks. Some have grumbled a little at the voice acting, but I think it was pretty natty, and anyone who's played Baten Kaitos will know what I mean when I say that things could be worse. A lot worse. Also, one of the 'dungeon' levels was so insanely boring, I'd rank Coldplay above it for excitement value. But this is just a minor quibble as a quick walkthrough on the internet got me rock'n'rolling again.
All in all, a cracking game. I'm sure many RPG fans would join me in imploring more Japanese companies to RPGs to our sunny shores... Erm, let's have a 'helpful vote' if you agree, eh? Hehehe.

Whatever And Ever Amen (Remastered Edition)
Whatever And Ever Amen (Remastered Edition)
Price: £7.15

18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remastered and completely refreshed. Ahhh..., 24 April 2005
Some albums benefit from a remaster. 'Graceland' by Paul Simon was one.
Some, however, don't. Chungking's ruining of their album "We Travel Fast" only a year after its first release was nothing short of scandalous.
"Whatever And Ever Amen" thankfully falls squarely in the former category I'm happy to say.
Before we get into this, I'm not going to talk about the extra tracks, I'm afraid. Mostly because I haven't listened to them properly yet. So why, I hear you ask, am I bothering at all? Well, the reason is this - I first bought this back in 2000, after a friend of mine played me "Fair" or - as she called it - the one where they sound like chickens. Let's just say it's had to compete with 1000+ CDs in my collection, and has rarely been back in the rack. It's taken me through every stage of my difficult early twenties since then, the sad times (especially "Evaporated"), the happy times ("One Angry Dwarf", "Fair") and the Go Away I Hate Everyone times ("Song For The Dumped").
So why, then, am I bothering to review an album I've already heard literally hundreds of times before? Well, the remastering and remixing (don't be alarmed - there's no Armand Van Helden here) of this album is so good, it's breathed completely new life into the recording. You'll have to trust me. Yes, I know it's hard to believe that new life could be breathed into a CD barely out of short trousers (it was originally released in '97, I think), but every instrument has been beautifully extracted, polished with a bit of Brasso and reassembled with such care that what we're left with is a CD which will take you back to the very moment you first heard it. Every hi hat on "Fair" splashes and sparkles, the piano on "Brick" resonates like never before and "Song For The Dumped" reveals more angry off-tempo notes than you ever thought possible in a single chorus. Yet none of this ever ruins the wonderful intimacy of this great album.
Check out the non-remastered version for loads of reviews on how fine the songs are, and hopefully others will write up the bonus tracks here, but I hope I've coerced the on-the-fence audiophile saddos like me into spending a few quid they won't regret.

Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £5.47

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Familiar Feeling?, 20 Mar 2004
This review is from: Statues (Audio CD)
Well well well. Moloko are the kind of band who make me worried every time I listen to them. Worried, that is, that they are going to split up any moment, and leave me scouring the second hand CD shops in search of something to fill the void...
Fortunately for the time being they appear to be going strong. After the hard-going but rewarding Things To Make And Do, Roisin et. al. decided to make an album of "songs". So here we are with ten full length tracks (minus the 8 bitty filler tracks that sometimes detracted from their earlier fine work).
The CD opens where The Time Is Now left off, a semi acoustic samba based number Familiar Feeling. A lifting soaring track that moves and shifts constantly. Later, Statues (probably the most melancholy Moloko tune ever) laments with the fantastic lyric "If all the statues in the world would turn to flesh with teeth of pearl, would they be kind enough to comfort me?". There are a few lower points, unhelpful votes at the ready chaps - we all know that's what you use them for - the fairly lacklustre Come On and Cannot Contain This, but the standout tracks more than make up for the lack of imagination elsewhere. Moloko are a band that command and earn forgiveness in droves.
Bless 'em. Please don't split up, cheers.

GameCube Wavebird Wireless Controller
GameCube Wavebird Wireless Controller

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate GameCube accessory, 7 Nov 2003
For only a tenner more than an official standard controller, you can buy yourself a slice of gaming heaven. This is THE ultimate accessory for the GameCube. Complete freedom of movement, no worries about pulling the GameCube over, knocking coffees over with the wires, etc. And no tangled wires!!! The signal is perfect, and the GameCube never misses a button press. The controller is just as comfortable as a standard one, perhaps even more so, as the slight increase in weight makes it feel a little sturdier.
The only problem is, I now want to replace all my controllers with Wavebirds. Grr..
You've made one fantastic decision by buying a GameCube (the true gamer's choice), now make the next. Get a Wavebird. And if you can afford it, get four.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (PS2)
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (PS2)
Offered by Factory Shop Deals
Price: £21.99

4 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Let's get some perspective here people..., 10 Jan 2003
Okay, I'm not going to write too much about what's so good about this game, but I'm going to write briefly about what's not so good to try and add some perspective.
The missions are intensely irritating. Even though it is clear what you have to do, something completely different will happen to thwart you each time. You'll be caning the bad guys left right and centre quite happily and suddenly a suicidal police man will throw himself in front of your gun, incurring the wrath of the VCPD. Or you'll be driving along with a strict time limit and a car you're overtaking will suddenly think it's a good idea to swerve randomly and push you into the sea. And once you're in the sea, don't think you'll be able to get out of the car and swim. Oh no, the child locks are on. Or you'll pick off the guys you saw last time you tried the mission only to find the fourth guy on the roof has suddenly become an excellent shot and the fifteen minutes you spent on the mission first time becomes one solitary minute this time as you end up in hospital. OR (the list is seeming endless) your car gets randomly stuck by a pole, or randomly flips on it's roof because you made the mistake of running over an ant, or the passenger in your car who didn't seem fit to leave the car when you hijacked it with an uzi suddenly gets out on a turning and whacks you one, causing the police to get you, failing the mission... AGAIN!!! Rnnngghhh!
And what happens when you do lose a mission? Well, you end up outside a hospital ten minutes away from the mission start with none of the body armour, samurai swords or rocket launchers you've spent an hour collecting and/or buying. So you have to collect them ALL again before even considering trying the blooming mission again. Or, you can load it from your previous save, but heaven help you if you've used up all the rockets which are crucial to that mission, because you'll only get them back if you SWITCH THE PLAYSTATION OFF and load the whole ****ing thing again.
Now why oh why oh why could they not put in a function for an instant retry to a mission??? Why all this bloomin' fuss and bother just to retry? All the pointless wandering around exploring and trying everything is great fun for the first few non-missioning hours, but gets exceedingly tiresome when you can't progress in the game itself and when you're forced into it every five minutes.
Words cannot describe how frustrating this game can be. I do enjoy playing it, but only in spite of these flaws...
It ain't perfect.

Blue For The Most
Blue For The Most
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £14.99

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All of the buildings are lit up like fireworks..., 18 Dec 2002
This review is from: Blue For The Most (Audio CD)
Phew, what a corker.
It's not often you get real 'growers' these days, but this is one and no mistake. I've had it in my car now for about three months straight, and I'm not getting bored of it yet.
There are three main stand out features of this album. Firstly, and perhaps obviously, the songwriting. Each of the songs are wonderfully subtle and are lyrically equivalent to something you'd expect from Moloko if they ever calmed down. Secondly, the production is second to none. The beats and clipped samples are appropriately used and seem to fit around Rachel's voice like the packaging around my last purchase. Finally, the diva's voice herself. It's sultry, smooth and wonderfully playful in places.
This CD is closest, AURALLY, to Dido, but to compare the two would be absurd and an insult to these guys. This is a million miles further down the road and, unlike Dido's offering, will stand repeated listening well.

Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of [CD 1] [CD 1]
Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of [CD 1] [CD 1]
Offered by Mattpuss
Price: £1.84

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars U2 and dance music. Fine bedfellows..., 19 April 2002
This CD is worth every penny. The first track is okay (you've heard it). The second track is run-of-the-mill (I've played in once). The third track is STUNNING!!! The Quincey & Sonance mix is the best dance tune I've ever heard. Really 'arms round your mates I Love You Man' kind of stuff. Soaring guitar riffs lifted from the original, respect for U2's style, a thumping beat and some original ideas. This is how remixing SHOULD be; respectful, musical and ultimately wonderful.
Best dance track EVER.

Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £4.99

5 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Self Indulgence Makes An Appearance..., 24 Dec 2001
This review is from: Portishead (Audio CD)
For a good few years I worshipped Portishead with a passion. For a good few of those good few years I awaited their second album with baited breath. When it came, well, it was good but...
The problem is the same problem all second albums can easily have. The first album received critical acclaim, and deservedly so. It seems from this second helping of Portishead that they were either holding back, else all the praise went straight to Mr Barrow's head.
In fine-tuning, their sound becomes less melodic and more atmospheric, but less listenable. Cowboys, Only You and Over all suffer from a Barrow overdose, and become less than their potential as a result. It's A Fire was excluded off UK cuts of Dummy for sounding 'too commercial', and Roads apparently almost met the same fate (thank heavens it didn't), which were two of the best tracks of their time. Should a band actually worry about sounding too commercial? I would warrant otherwise...
The more melodious tracks, most notably the final track (reminiscent of Theme From To Kill A Dead Man) are vintage Port, but one worries whether a third album will continue along these lines or will return to the Glory Days of Roads, Sour Times and Mysterons.
The latter, I hope. (Although bearing in mind it takes them close to half a decade to bring each one out, I'm not holding my breath this time!)
Still, it's all worth it for the best 'last 20 seconds of any album ever'- "I feel so cold, on hookers and gin... (cue trademark Portishead scratch)... this mess we're in...".

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