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Reviews Written by
J. Smith "Jeremy Smith" (Oxford, England)

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Beat Street [DVD]
Beat Street [DVD]
Dvd ~ Rae Dawn Chong
Offered by HalfpriceDVDS_FBA
Price: £19.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 3 stars for the song and dance routines alone, 7 Jun. 2004
This review is from: Beat Street [DVD] (DVD)
Jumping on the breakdance gravy train, Beat Street is part-cheesy Hollywood romance,part-musical. Unlike Wildstyle (released the previous year) this filmmakers employ "real" actors- they probably shouldn't have bothered as the performances are so wooden.This is only worth buying because of the breakers and rappers. Rocksteady Crew battling the New York City Breakers at the Roxy is the standout scene but there are other memorable moments. The US girls (Sha-Rock, Lisa Lee and Debbie Dee) display more talent in two minutes than the lead actors did in their deservedly short-lived careers whilst Treacherous Three's "Christmas Rap" has all the virtuosity and humour that the actors lack. By the end of the movie the greatest of the old-school MC's, Melle Mel takes over from the lip-synching leading man to show him how it should be done. If only that could have happened from the beginning.

A Bit More Fry and Laurie
A Bit More Fry and Laurie
by Stephen Fry
Edition: Paperback

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mr. Dalliard, I've gone peculiar...., 25 May 2004
Fry and Laurie were always the connoiseur's comedians- travelling a less obvious path to laughter than their more popular contemporaries and their absurdist brand of comedy has aged well. "A bit more Fry and Laurie" was published in 1991 but is probably more to this generation's taste because of its surreal, often dark overtones that have influenced the likes of "The league of gentlemen", among others. Having said that, it won't be everybody's cup of tea and some sketches can drag a little, but search through and you'll find some comedic gems hidden here.

Love All the People: The Essential Bill Hicks: Letters, Lyrics, Routines
Love All the People: The Essential Bill Hicks: Letters, Lyrics, Routines
by Bill Hicks
Edition: Paperback

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What might have been, 8 Mar. 2004
Bill Hicks was the most influencial and significant comedian of his generation. Virtually ignored in America during his lifetime his sudden demise to cancer was all the more tragic as he was on the cusp of the success he had long sought for. "Love all the people" has attempted to bring together all his material in one volume, providing a reference point for long time lovers of his work as well as a starting point for newly acquainted fans.
Unfortunately, it fails on both counts due to the repetitive nature of the material printed here. Bill Hicks left such a small body of recorded work that ideas which sound inspired and hilarious the first time you read them quickly become trite by the fourth or fifth time you see them in print. This is particularly true for Hicks admirers who have already bought the live albums as they are verbatim the same routines!
Through no fault of the comedian the stand-out moments are not the standup material but the letters and interviews which reveal Hicks as a imaginative thinker and deeply concerned person. It's interesting to see how he appeared to be nearing the end of his standup life and exploring new avenues (not all comic ones). In his lifetime however, Bill Hicks was first and foremost a comedian and although "Love all the people" gives a better sense of Hick's mission than Cynthia True's "American Scream" it is limited by its narrow approach (as well as by some downright sloppy editing) Those waiting for the definitive book on Bill Hicks will have to wait a little longer.

Yes Yes Y'all: The Experience Music Project Oral History of Hip-hop - The First Decade
Yes Yes Y'all: The Experience Music Project Oral History of Hip-hop - The First Decade
by Jim Fricke
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Straight from the horses mouth, 1 Mar. 2004
Yes, Yes, Y'all" manages to avoid many of the half-truths and myths of similar books on the early hip hop scene by heading straight for the horses mouth and interviewing the various characters who contributed to its development.
"Yes,Yes, Y'all" takes us to the Bronx and the start of a scene that would later become a multi-million pound industry. It begins before "hip hop"- with the warring street gangs protecting their individual territories who would eventually mutate into the crews that formed the nascent subculture.
The numerous violent incidents that are recounted help dispell the frequently espoused notion that the early hip hop years were peaceful ones. The idea that hip hop was a unified rallying cry against "evil" disco music is also knocked on the head by many of the dj's interviewed, who openly admit that they played the popular dance music of the day alongside the harder-edged funk breaks that pioneered hip hop.
The lack of any single narrator might have been a problem if the interviews were lacking in detail but thankfully Jim Fricke and Charlie Ahearn have picked a wide range of hip hop's early practitioners who tell their tales in all their glory. For the first time minor(but significant)characters such as the L Brothers are given a voice alongside the established legends Kool Herc, Afrika Bambataa and Grandmaster Flash and help fill out the sketchy past of America's most popular culture.
"Yes, Yes, Y'all" is the perfect accompaniment to docu-dramas "Style Wars" and "Wildstyle" and should be read by anyone with a passing interest in hip hop history.

Bringing It All Back Home
Bringing It All Back Home
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.99

16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dylan's peak, 30 Jan. 2003
Few musicians in popular music have reached the creative zenith that Bob Dylan did in the mid-sixties. His musical imagination at that point was astonishing.
Even the most cursory listen today to "Bringing it all back home" is delightful. The wordplay and comic juxtapositions on the likes of "Subterranean Homesick Blues" demand to be analyzed, but in someways, examining it further misses the
surreal point.
His distinctive vocal style- simultaneously sad, joyous and anguished is something few artists have been capable of capturing. "It's Alright Ma" is perhaps the greatest of all his lyrical masterpieces, a pointed attack at our technically modern, yet spiritually undeveloped society, that needs nothing more than his guitar and harminica to accompany it. This is the first of the two albums he made in 1965 ("Highway 61 Revisited", the other)and ideally both should be listened to back to back to appreciate them in their full glory.

Whut? The Album
Whut? The Album
Price: £3.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Redman, Eric and the mothership, 29 Jan. 2003
This review is from: Whut? The Album (Audio CD)
In 1992, Eric Sermon once again dusted off the mothership and set off on a funk journey with his partner-in-rhyme(freshly released from the psycho ward) and took the listener hostage on a mission marked "extreme danger" into the inner-psyche of Reggie Noble a.k.a The Funkadelic a.k.a Redman. Few thought they'd survive or that we'd end up thanking them afterwards.
Such is the experience of listening to Redman's debut. Heavily-layered funk samples form the backing to Redman's raw and often hysterical delivery leaving you not sure whether to laugh or back away in disgust. Starting as a mental patient, then an HIV carrier, he eventually morphs into "Superman Lover" (his blunt-smoking, cat-saving and overly-sexed alter ego) and the identity crisis is complete. Not for the faint-hearted (or the politically correct) "Whut!Thee Album" has its tongue firmly planted in its cheek and shows Redman/Reggie (or whoever he chooses to be) a rapper of unique imagination and humour.

Follow the Leader
Follow the Leader
Offered by westworld-
Price: £13.44

4 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hip hop was great in '88?, 29 Jan. 2003
This review is from: Follow the Leader (Audio CD)
1988. Rap's golden year. LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Boogie Down Productions, Ultramagnetic Mc's and of course, Eric B. and Rakim ruled the roost. The music was better, the emcees had more style and a great record was seemingly released every week etc. etc.
Nostalgia is a wonderful thing but when examined up close and personal, "Follow the Leader" doesn't quite cut the musical mustard. There are some great individual tracks here ("Put your hands together", "The R")and it is a more complete record than its predecessor, but its a bit like an old girlfriend that you haven't seen a photo of for a while and when you dig it out, you realize that she wasn't quite as beautiful as you'd thought she was. Hip hop was still finding its feet back in 1988 and the best was yet to come, but "Follow the Leader" wasn't quite it.

De La Soul Is Dead
De La Soul Is Dead
Offered by westworld-
Price: £12.98

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flawed masterpiece, 29 Jan. 2003
This review is from: De La Soul Is Dead (Audio CD)
Finding it impossible to follow up on their instant classic "3 Feet High and Rising" and sick of the misinterpretations of their "hippie" message De La Soul released this album as a pre-emptive strike on the critics and fanbase they had aquired over the previous 18 months. "De La Soul is dead" is everything that their debut wasn't; cynical("Ring ring ring"),angry(My brother's a basehead")and full of black humour ("Mollie pulled a pistol on Santa").Everything that is, except brilliant and imaginative. One of the few concept albums in rap that bears repeated listening, even the most obnoxious sentiments on the album ("Bitties in the BK Lounge") are laced with that distinctive De La sense of humour, although at times the joke seems to have worn itself out ("Not over till the fat lady plays the demo")Bold, brash and brilliant, this is a flawed masterpiece.

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