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M. T. J. ANDERTON "Believe What you Want To Believe" (UK)
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The Morning After
The Morning After
Price: £8.46

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unexpectedly poignant mini album from James, 5 Sept. 2010
This review is from: The Morning After (Audio CD)
James fans have been pretty lucky this year, plenty of dates across the UK, Europe, Festivals and an upcoming tour of North America and Mexico and of course two mini-albums the 2nd of which is what is being reviewed.

The first album "The Night Before" took over from where Hey Ma - the first reunion album left off. It was a very enjoyable mainly uptempo record with some of James' best work, particularly the likes of Porcupine and Dr Hellier. It was well documented at the time of the release of that record in May that the follow-up "The Morning After" would be a more low-key affair. As it turns out this is true in the main. Tim Booth has spoke in some detail about how when they record there are a number of slower songs that always get left out as many of their albums aside from Laid are mainly uptempo affairs. The rough plan was to have an album of these slower, more thoughtful songs.

Opener 'Got The Shakes' gets us off to an interesting start with quite a rough vocal from Tim imagining he's an alcoholic who has just beaten his wife and begging forgiveness. The song sounds almost like a headache you may have after a heavy night on "too much gravy" as Tim sings. It ends in quite an experimental manner with Tim shouting "Don't mess with the thunder" and a backing mantra that is hard really to put into words.

'Dust Motes' is familiar to those who saw some recent live shows as they have been playing this regularly in sets, even during festivals. The first half is mainly Tim, a sombre piano and a Laid-era slide guitar. The song seems to be about the bitterness that sets in when one has been left by a partner "I'll forgive you...if you die". The second half of the song picks up the pace and the drums kick in as the bitterness turns to anger. Like many James songs the lyrics feel very personal and quite introspective in this instance. This will probably go down as one of their better slower numbers and is quite a current fan favourite.

'Tell Her I Said So' is different to the first few songs and builds to a mantra "here's to a long life" that is also chanted by a children's choir which is an interesting and unexpected touch. Musically, it feels a little like St Etienne or a 1980s revivalist and actually feels like trance music without it actually being trance! Lyrically it is a highly personal lament from Tim about watching his mother die in some god forsaken old persons home "the staff are cold, the rules are rules - how can children be so cruel". Touching stuff.

'Kaleidoscope' details a paranoid guy who wonders why his wife is always on the phone thinking it's to a lover when really something much more sinister is at play, which we only find out in the twist at the end of the song which is quite clever. It has almost a country-blues feel with tremelo guitars and fluid slide playing from Larry Gott. "I can't afford to divorce" is a line that made me chuckle a little but the song is very affecting as the guy is clearly still in love with his wife which is exacerbating the paranoia. It turns out at the end his wife actually has the cancer and was on the phone to the doctor. Unsettling to say the least but clever.

'Rabbit Hole' is typical James fare really with a really catchy guitar line played throughout and is one of my favourites on the record despite the lyrical content maybe not as being as powerful as what has gone on before. however the song is maybe stronger musically to what has gone on before so I guess it balances itself out "always come prepared whatever the weather" as Tim states. The last song that mentioned the weatehr was that Crowded House classic. Though this is different I can imagine this working well live.

'Make For This City' lyrically about wishing for a better place/world to live as our current world is dull with people not making eye contact. There are mentions of "District Line" so presumably it's about London and a world that lacks compassion and empathy - a theme Tim last explored in "Bring A Gun" some years back. Musically I find it a little dull and unrewarding although there are some lovely keyboard touches. It dares to be boring and ultimately is unfortunately.It reminds me a lot musically of U2's last album actually - please don't shoot me for that! It sounds like something that Eno would approve of.

I absolutely love "Look Away" and in my opinion should be up there with the James classics we all know and love and if it was released in there heyday wouldve been a big single. It has that Jamesian soaring quality but never gets bombastic and has a great use of orchestral sounds curtosy no doubt to Mark's keyboard. It makes you wait until the end of a song for something that semblances a chorus but when it arrives you can't stop chanting "All mirrors. shatter, all plastic clowns, all that really matters is that you weren't in the building when the walls came crashing down". A total classic.

I have mentioned Eno once already and the closer "Fear" is musically much like Eno's best work in the 1980s a la "Apollo" with a fragile, falsetto vocal from Tim in most of the song. It is definitely a cousin to the wonderful "Alaskan Pipeline" from the Pleased To Meet You album. It feels somewhat haunted with icy keyboards and guitars chiming and really has the hallmarks of Eno all over it. Not the most powerful lyrically but an enjoyable ending to a decent mini-album.

I'll be honest and say that I do prefer James in a more "pop" sense which is why I prefer the likes of Rabbit Hole and Lookaway than the more slower numbers, though I greatly appreciate their value too. Ironically I think this album may go down as a classic with fans who have been longing for a Laid follow up. This may be just what you have been looking for. Nevertheless this is still a lot better than any other record I've heard this year and has a nice experimentation to it taking a leaf out of both Laid and Wah Wah but being a good album in it's own right.

Very enjoyable but I hope James go pop next time.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 9, 2010 7:34 PM BST


The Night Before
The Night Before
Price: £8.40

9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The reformed James just keep getting better, 17 April 2010
This review is from: The Night Before (Audio CD)
When I listened back to the two "new" tracks on "fresh as a daisy" the recent singles compilation of James single back catalogue I had no idea that just three years down the line they would be making music that not only is on a par with past album releases but in all probability BETTERS them. I don't say this lightly given the fact I have followed the band for nearly 20 years. Hey Ma was a fantastic return to form after a couple of patchy albums and this was in no small part attributed that the reformed James was the "definitive" line up in my eyes, particularly Larry Gott's return to the band as he was such an immense part of the songwriting contribution prior to his departure in 1996. No offence to the two ex members that tried replacing Larry but it didn't really work - it was akin to Fleetwood Mac being without Lindsay Buckingham or U2 without the Edge, and no mickey-taking meant but James did lose their edge after Larry left. What followed were two albums where James really lost their way and by 2001 it wasn't a great surprise to see them call it a day. I was most pleased to see them return in 2001 with their best line-up and this boded well for future James material...

So Hey Ma came along exactly two years ago and was splendid record, worthy of a place in anyone's record collection and contained a handful of their best-ever songs. The album was very uptempo and bright musically despite some dark and melancholic music. The songs had room to breath and grow. I found out about this new concept of a mini-album in an interview last year that Jim Glennie let slip the band would release two mini-albums in 2010. The band used an innovative way of working via an FTP server which allowed members to communicate musically from wherever they live in the world; USA, Portugal, Scotland, England it didn't matter -the results are spectacular. Lee Baker, the producer has really understood how to get the best out of the band but in a different way to Eno. His spectre hangs over the band in a very positive way, they have channelled his "off-the-wall" methods to great and in fact wondrous effect.

I am disappointed that this is not a full length-album as the quality of the songs are simply stunning and is an expertly produced record that sounds fresh, dark, brooding, uptempo, sexy and slightly claustrophic. But yet somehow the band have remained true to their roots, none more so than Ten Below - a dark barnstorming affair lyrically about singer Tim Booth's horrible time in boarding school where he spent his formative years. This is magically coupled with James ability in the 90s to write hit after hit after hit. The keyboard and guitar motifs work very well in tandem and Tim delivers an energetic vocal delivery that is passionate, moving and affecting.

I am jumping around a bit in this review, It's hot, the opener is a very sexy affair in sound and in lyrics where Tim is illustrating verbally the intricacies of conception. It reminds me for some reason of Crash from the 1999 album 'Millionaires'. They both have a pulsating bassline, I think on It's Hot delivered by an electronic bass instrument rather than a bass guitar. Either way it's fantastic. The phrase "whooaaaa a lep of faith" is chanted several times and the song kicks into a crescendo of a repeated "it's hot inside the chrysalis, our cell create a dreamy bliss...a leap of faith and out of it a floating kiss that loves to exist - magic stuff.

Crazy was chosen to be the "Focus" track or "single" by the band and I suppose it is the closest tune on the album that comes close to the type of single James produced in the 1990s - those with The Best Of will probably understand this. It's quite direct and another autobiographical lyric about Tim's fight with Liver disease in his teens/twenties and how he would have hallucinations that made him think he was 'Crazy' and how he thoguht he might have been committed. Thankfully for himself and us all he recovered. The song is reminiscent of The Triffids "Bury Me Deep in Love" and bears a similarity to Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark". Some fans have even compared it to a Wham track! It is quite a derivative affair and nothing new here but it is extremely memorably and catchy - a bit like Whiteboy was on Hey Ma - some might see it as a bit throwaway - it sits just over the edge of being a valid and enjoyable James single.

Porcupine is a very dark but enjoyable affair with a thrilling chorus - a review suggested it doesn't have a chorus, maybe they were mixing up the tracks but Pocupine has a stunning chorus and althoguh I referenced the Edge earlier the guitar playing on the track reminds me U2's "Joshua Tree" days in the late 80s. I think it's about being guarded and not letting people in emotionally. It ends disappointingly as at the live shows in 2008 where it was originally premiered it had a fantastic Saul Davies violin outro. I'm annoyed this hasn't been included as it was utterly fantastic live and would have been a great way to end the track.

At the recent 2010 live shows the song Shine was really uninspired, a mess and generally one of the poorest songs I had heard by James live. However on record it is a barnstormer! It has a few different sections which can make it appear disjointed on first listen, but it really is an old-school James track. I love the way the guitar follows the vocal in places and the opening riff and end to the track is simply awesome. If you like Seven, Gold Mother and Laid era of James this will really delight you.

Dr Hellier was one of the best tracks on the preview and really is unlike anything I've heard James do before - perhaps save on Wah Wah with a very faint resemblance to Jam J but nothing more. 70s era Rolling Stones guitar sounds meet Pixies/Bowie/Rocks-era Primal Scream in terms of the sound of the song which is quite racous and bluesey in sound with quite a heavy duty rock riff running through the song. Lyrically this is about one of Tim's favourte subjects; war. We have heard several tracks in the past along these lines; Government Walls, Hey Ma, Mother, 72 etc but the lyrics are clever in this song and perhaps in places remind me of Richey Edwards, particularly in how unobtrusive they are - dvery difficult to decipher who Tim is referring to. Thematically we are set in the Iraq/Afghanistan conflict bu the song appears to be about someone along the lines of Dr David Kelly - not sure on this one! The song has a refrain of "on and on and on...." and then builds up to a crescendo at the end forming the outtro of the song which is basically a blast of guitars curtosy of Larry messing with the whammy bar on his guitar and really "going for it" in a way James sometimes should but don't on record.

Final track Hero is a real oddity this is basically a mangled anthem that is extremely experimental with a discordant vocal performance over strange keyboards with Tim telling you 'you have to change'. Very hard to describe what this sounds like, Tim sounds very different to how he sounds on other tracks and is a bizarre way to close the album. It sounds like a track that had something going for it but wasn't quite strong enough for inclusion on the album then they mashed it up a bit and then though "this will do". Very strange, hard to get into and apart from the Porcupine ending the only song where they put a foot wrong. Out of seven tracks that is quite remarkable.

This is a James record for James fans all over the world. It will hardly win over any new fans but should please the loyal fanbase. It is a mixture of the familiar, unfamiliar, the new and the old, a return to their roots in places, more expressive in others, more subtle in places, more extreme than ever before in others. For me it is a groundbreaking James record. It has the songs of Gold Mother married with the experimentalism of Whiplash and Wah Wah with the kind of production values you would find on the Seven record just updated to 2010. If you liked Hey Ma it is very different, James occupy a lot of space sonically and is darker, denser and perhaps less accesible than Hey Ma. But with a few listens all becomes clear and there are areas of light such as Crazy. This is a fantastic record. A band 29 years old by rights should not be making their best music of their career. It just shows you how very special James are. I treasure them, I hope you will too.

Score: 9/10
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 8, 2010 11:23 AM BST


Heligoland
Heligoland
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £11.97

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good, solid return but no Blue Lines or Mezzanine, 5 Feb. 2010
This review is from: Heligoland (Audio CD)
Having enjoyed all of Massive Attack's last four albums and 'Live With Me' to certain extents I was looking forward to hearing some new material. Conversely to a lot of fans I actually quite enjoyed 100th Window which I felt took Mezzanine vibes to some extremes on the wonderful 'Antistar' and 'Butterfly Caught'. What let the album down really was a poor vocal performance by Sinead O'Conner on the three tracks she performed on. The album had a dark ambient electronic feel which lost a lot of the guitar-based, almost gothic paranoia of Mezzanine. 3D's vocals were somewhat different and the loss of Daddy G was felt too. Nevertheless it was fairly enjoyable without being exactly groundbreaking.

The same could be said for this belated follow up. It's not groundbreaking, and on the last track 'Atlas Air' I afforded myself a wry smile as the track sounds like something I myself have produced!! Maybe they were listening! The album is almost a lo-fi Mezzanine and feels more accessible than 100th Window throughout. A good range of guest vocalists such as Martina Topley-Bird help bring a good diversity to the tracks. I particularly enjoyed 'Girl I Love You' which turns into a somewhat dark, brooding, semi-industrial affair and the aforementioned 'Atlas Air' which has a killer keyboard riff and a 3D "on form" vocal which just absolutely builds into a swirling synth monster slightly reminiscent of "Group Four" from Mezzanine but carrying it's own identity. 'Pray For Rain' has it's moments despite the fairly downbeat tone and the inclusion of a Hope Sandoval vocal a masterful trick as 'Paradise Circus' really lulls you into it's lushness. The Damon Albarn track 'Saturday Come Slow' quite honestly passed me by as well as the Guy Garvey vocal 'Flat of the Blade' but 'Psyche' and 'Babel' by Topley-Bird make up for these fillers.

As I listened to Atlas Air a few times I certainly feel as other reviewers have said that it slightly saves the album as it's a towering achievement and a genius of a track that really floats my boat as it's in an area of music that really interests me. The improvements over 100th Window aren't profound but are measurable. A wide diversity of vocalists makes for interesting listening and a close production of the tracks make them sound like they came from the same stable unlike albums like 'Protection' that widely varied in track quality and sound. The genre is hard to describe it's fairly downbeat but feels more lo-fi, hip-hop influenced than dark ambient electronica. I also hear the influences of IDM artists as well as some semi-industrial artists like Nine Inch Nails for example. As ever with these things you have to listen to make up your own mind. My conclusion is that this is a good listen and a good, solid record but it will quickly disappear from your stereo and does not have the longevity of a 'Blue Lines' or 'Mezzanine' unfortunately but I did enjoy it more than 'Protection' or '100th Window'.


Hey Ma
Hey Ma
Price: £7.99

48 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A mighty comeback album, 7 April 2008
This review is from: Hey Ma (Audio CD)
Wow what a comeback album this is, I encourage all James fans, old and new to investigate....

Bubbles

One of the best James songs ever written. The starting of the song is very similar to the like of Laid album/The Lake stylistics but explodes into a very beautiful passionate song which seems to be about a new born life with a great future. Just a brilliant opening track. transferred from live performance to record seamlessly. You will be singing 'I'm alive' for months. Uplifting stuff! 10/10

Hey Ma

It may be 16 years on but the song Mother is still a haunting track and Hey Ma is no different lyrically, but it is a very uplifting song musically which contrasts so well with the deep lyrics being sung about 9/11, Iraq and Afghanistan and particularly about consequences of your actions. This sort of shows the best and worst of Tim's voice, there is a point where he sings 'coming home' in a kind of a strained way yet somehow im transported back in time to the early 90s in other places. Strange, but great, pointed lyrics. 9/10

Waterfall

This could probably the succesor to Say Something, my feeling on this song is that it is wonderful but at times the production is too heavy and almost sags under its own weight like the latest Manics album does. There are parts I love to this song such as the lovely verse guitars and backing vocals in the chorus and the chanted verse is particularly wonderful. The 'Im so cynical bit' is the part I think goes over the top perhaps for me. Again the underlying feeling of Laid but production values of Seven 8.5/10

Oh My Heart

Very anthemic in a Booth and The Bad Angel meets Seven kind of way, I read a review which says an 'old-school' James anthem. I can hear U2 in the guitar as well which puts me back to the Seven album. There is something about it that doesn't win me over in the same way the previous songs did, but the fact that I'm giving the first four tracks at least 8/10 bodes very well for the rest of the album. The fact that there is loads of guitar in this track is great and is as far away from Pleased To Meet You as my bloody football team winning the title! This could really soar live as well a real out-there number. 8/10

Boom Boom

A song which at first didn't really grab me and thought was not fantastic. However it started getting ingrained in my head and for days I had the melody in my head. It has a dominant trumpet line. This is a song similar to Were Going To Miss You lyrically in terms of hitting back at the critics of the band who had written them off. It is quite a dark melancholic song with an orchestral ending. 7/10

Semaphore

A very beautiful slow number about a man who has hit a woman realising what he's done. 'But its too late for sorry' Fantastic echoey guitar and bass with some fantastic lyrics. The slowest song on the album which allows pause for reflection for what we've heard already. 8/10

Upside

First aired at least a year ago at some of the gigs last year. It is the one song I'm truly disappointed with, it doesn't really do anything for me. It's about immigrants being away from their loved ones. For some reason it doesn't work for me, I think it is in the arrangement somewhere and the chorus also doesn't work for me. Not what I was expecting. A bit of a mess. 5/10.

Whiteboy

I love this track, it's the most fun and uplifting track since laid. This really is the 'old-school' James track I had been looking for, a mile away from the poor 'What Is It Good For' et al the whole song is what sums James up for me; fun, slightly goofy, uplifting, estoric, catch as fcuk particularly love the way the 2nd verse explodes into the 'Wanna talk to me Whiteboy' 2nd chorus just whisks you away! 9/10

72

A song about religion and brings up strong imagery of suicide bombers. The darkest song on the record although ironically a little funky with a dark electronic backdrop and rythmn section. The chorus of WAR will be ingrained in your head immediately. 7.5/10

Of Monsters Heroes and Men

This song is based on an extended poem full of imagery. This was played love at the September Hoxton shows. It's an interesting song that builds up to a kind-of mantra at the end with Andy's trumpet kind of taking over the song. Again it doesn't have much of an effect of me compared to what has gone before. 6/10

I Wanna Go Home

This is brilliant. A wonderful yearning song, although a bit too short. It is about a guy in a bar full of remorse, dying of a remorse. A fantastic closing track with effects coming in and out and builds to a crescendo of 'I wanna go home right now', awe-inspiring and I can personally identify with the lyrics as well. I just wish it could have gone on longer. 10/10

Child To Burn (Itunes Deluxe track)

This is an extremely beautiful Wah Wah/Laid style track with slide guitar, and Tim in falsetto most of the time. Extremely atmospheric. 9/10

Overall

A totally fantastic album overall, miles better than the last two albums. It sounds totally 'together' and everything hangs together well. Apart from one or two flawed songs, mainly in terms of arrangements this contains some of the best James songs ever written. Yes it possibly lacks anthems in a 'singles' way, however it is closer to Laid in spirit in terms of lyrics and some of the music. There are moments of a bigger sound, with A Seven-esque production value namely Oh My Heart and Waterfall. This is now my 3rd favourite James album, and only Laid and Whiplash better this one. In terms of a comeback album this is so much more than I and James fans could have hoped for. Ignore those stupid reviews that give this 1 and 2 stars they obviously can't hear the beauty within. Dream Thrum score. 8/10 - a mighty album.


U.F.Orb
U.F.Orb

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, watershed album, 12 Jan. 2008
This review is from: U.F.Orb (Audio CD)
This is an amazing, fantastic album but I'd like to disagree with an earlier reviewer - The Orb didn't implode at ALL! They made some terrific albums such as Orbus Terrarum and Orblivion to name two, the former was the antithesis to UF Orb it used the Earth as it's foundation rather than Space and the being's in it.

Just to make people aware The Orb have a new album out called The Dream which is similar to UForb which might interest the other reviewers and it really is a return to form and certainly the best Orb material as a whole for a decade.

Back to the record at hand; Blue Room and Towers of Dub imparticular are mighty, fantastic lengthy pieces which are worthy of buying this album for alone. I also like OOBE and Close Encounters - these were the days before The Orb discovered vocals on 3 out of their 4 last albums which gave UFOrb a floaty, ambient feel. The Uforb - ambient mix is beautiful as well.

Go Buy The Dream!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 8, 2008 5:31 PM GMT


The Dream
The Dream

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great return to form, 7 Jan. 2008
This review is from: The Dream (Audio CD)
This is almost the antithesis of Okie Dokie, what was sparse minimal and ambient but an empty feel to the music is now a rich beautiful landscape of electronica, ambient, dub, raggae, world and ethnic influences sometimes all at once blended into a track - samples, guitar lines and vocals come in and out of view - one or two tracks are just jaw-dropping especially; The Dream, Codes, Katskills and Orbisonia. The track Vuja De is the closest thing they've done to a single since the days of Once More.

Yet again they've discovered a new area, a new sound - the closest I can approximate this album to in sound is parts of Bicycles and Tricycles but it feels more complete an ambition fulfilled. I have one or two gripes, on occassion the female 'soul' vocals seem out of place such as the track 'Mother Nature' and 'A Beautiful Day' and the raggae vocals get annoying sometimes. i like the cheesy pads on 'A Beautiful Day' very porn-film esque. I like the dripping textures. The beats are not dub but there is a feel of dub about some of the tracks. Codes reminded me of 'A mile long lump of lard' updated.

A magnificent effort Alex, you have veered away from The Orb's slightly dated past few works. This has brought everything up to date. I still feel they could have done with Thomas Fehlmann's efforts on co-production but I hope they keep this form up into the next album and use Thomas as well!


Casino Twilight Dogs [Us Import]
Casino Twilight Dogs [Us Import]
Price: £21.77

5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Album from Youth Group, 23 July 2007
I've just picked this fantastic album up and it's blown me away. Why these guys aren't bigger has totally dumbfounded me, either that or people simply can't hear good music when its right in front of them.

I've only been a fan of Youth Group for two years, but have totally fell in love with them. This is probably because of the resemblence to my favourite band James in terms of Toby Martin's vocals and word intonation plus some of the music. Other similarities I would say are with Crowded House, Ash and The Charlatans.

This album slightly differs from the previous in that it seems slightly more restrained with more concentration on musical depth, this gives the album a more consistent even feel. I particularly like Sorry (very very Jamesian here) with its Larry Gott-esque guitar sound (check out early James material for this), Catching and Killing, Under The Underpass and the wonderful (i)piece de resitance(i) Start Today Tomorrow. Again like James they handle songs at low-tempi extraordinarily well and are extremely beautiful in composition and sound. Also included is their cover of Forever Young that appeared on the O.C (apparantly popular over here in the UK)

I'd go as far as saying they are one of the best bands that have come out of this decade and deserve to be massive. I hope they can come over and play live in the UK soon. I urge anyone reading this to give them a try and you will soon fall in love with this brilliant band.


Orbsessions Vol.2
Orbsessions Vol.2
Price: £12.79

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A decent collection of 'rareities', 22 July 2007
This review is from: Orbsessions Vol.2 (Audio CD)
I bought this new collection of Orb rareities this weekend and have enjoyed listening to these decent outtakes and different sounding tracks. I had already heard Ralph's Cupboard in it's Ralf guise and Ba'albeck in it's Freely Wheely guise, not sure why the name change but shouldn't let it detract from the music.

In total three tracks from this collection were destined for the album Cydonia, but it was put on hold and Alex Paterson and co created some new tracks which were deemed more up to date than the three tracks here so they were cast aside in the final version of Cydonia which came out in 2001. If the album had come out in 1999 it would have looked and sounded radically different, Cydonia became a mismatch of different sounds sort of a 1997-1999 Orb sound and a 2000-2001 Orb sound.

Any way I digress these three tunes are excellent if not ground-breaking and I suppose Alex Paterson felt ultimately they sounded dated for when Cydonia eventually came out and wanted to give the album a contemporary feel.

I have enjoyed this collection very much and as a big fan of The Orb I enjoy the majority of their material and I too am looking forward to next album 'The Dream'.


Send Away The Tigers
Send Away The Tigers
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £4.40

1 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very average, 12 Jun. 2007
This review is from: Send Away The Tigers (Audio CD)
I think I prefer Lifeblood to this album, which seems to be an attempt at dragging Generation Terrorists sound to 2007 which just fails. The single 'Your love alone..' is very good but none of the other songs are as memorable or anywhere near as good as earlier works. Perhaps I've moved on from the Manics but Autumnsong has a great riff which is far too short and leads into a dull stadium rock song. Underdogs is another attempt at Found Your Soul rock-punk which is unmemorable. Send Away The Tigers is good but not a patch on say 1985 which was truly spine-shivering and anthemic or Yes.

It's an album that passes you by without really affecting you in a good or bad way - it's true it runs smoothly without much variation - unlike the last three albums which makes all the songs blend into one long track. Not my thing I'm afraid, this shows the Manics back to basics but equally shows a lack of experimentation which is a major failing of this album.

Only one for the die-hards.


Fresh As A Daisy - The Singles
Fresh As A Daisy - The Singles
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £16.55

71 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 25 Years of Brilliance, 9 April 2007
I have been a James fan for the last 16 years ever since the Sit Down days. The last time James released a Best of was in 1998 and prior to this they had released 6 conventional studio albums, 1 excellent live album and an album of jams called 'Wah Wah' (released in September 1994). They had previously notched a very respectable 14 Top 75 singles including 6 Top 20 hits - the most well-known of these being 'She's A Star' and the #2 hit 'Sit Down'

The last best of similarly to this singles collection contained two great new tracks 'Destiny Calling' and 'Runaground' which were thought at the time to represent James new direction. The Best of James flew to #1 in the UK Album charts and sold nearly a million copies in the UK - a remarkable achievement. The following year the album 'Millionaires' was released and whilst critically it got almost resoundingly excellent views it was given a mixed reception by James fans who viewed it as slightly conventional and commercially focussed compared to previous offerings. The album did well and got to #2 but slid out of the charts fairly quickly not achieving the sales levels originally predicted. The three singles from this album are on this new collection. Whilst all are excellent songs they don't quite capture the true James spirit for me and are highly polished songs.

James then in 2000 instead of releasing more songs from Millionaires started writing their new album 'Pleased to Meet You' which tried to go back to how the originally wrote material through a series of jamming session. The finished album - produced by Brian Eno was released in July 2001 to overall disappointing reviews and again mixed reception from fans. Only one single was released 'Getting Away With It (All messed up)' - which is contained in this new collection which had an edgier, rawer feel than any of the Millionaires singles. However the album was a mixture of familiar sounds blending previous albums Whiplash, Laid and Millionaires with a new more laidback sound.

Following the release of the album which peaked at only #11 (the worst album performance on their record label at the time - Mercury Records)two critical decisions were made; Mercury had decided not to renew James contract and Tim Booth (Vocalist for 19 years at the time) decided to leave James at the end of their short Arena tour at the end of 2001.

With fans in shock and mourning James effectively split up at the end of the tour and went their seperate ways. Tim Booth released a solo album 'Bone' in 2004 which got critical praise from fans and music critics alike. Since that time time Tim Booth appeared in Batman Begins in 2005 with a small role and in 2006 as Judas in the Manchester Passion play.

In January 2007 it was announced that James would be re-forming with original guitarist Larry Gott and the rest of James (minus Adrian Oxaal - replacement guitarist for Larry Gott and Michael Kulas (guitar/backing vocals)and they announced an April 2007 tour, the Fresh as a Daisy singles and a brand new album - slated for November 2007.

So Fresh as a Daisy - double singles CD has every single created by James (minus Sit Down 98) including their earliest material on Factory records the majority of which has not graced a CD until now.

Why is this collection so brilliant - every single crackles with inspiration and great ideas. Their are anthems (Sit Down/Laid/She's A Star/Desting Calling/Come Homes), their are slowburners (Sound/Who Are You/Runaground/Getting Away With It), singalongs (We're Going To miss you/How Was it For you?/Tomorrow) and their are some mid-paced classics (Say Something/Lose Control/Folklore).

The two new tracks like the previous 'new' tracks on 'The Best of James' are original and show another different face of James 'Who Are You' is one of the greatest songs James have ever made and contains a brilliant outtro 'Warning Coming Down' and 'Chameleon' is totally different to other James track with a true rock n'roll feel.

Those who have bought the Best of - buy the double album it has 16 songs that weren't on the previous best of - for those casual fans buy the single CD you get the new songs as well as hearing what James are about.

For those who haven't heard James before they make music like no other band; not rock but not quite pop, estoric, very emotional, romantic, passionate, catchy, edgy and magnificent.

so 25 Years of Brilliance in one CD...go discover what you've never heard, find out those songs you've missed or buy for the brilliant new tracks. James are back - music is back!

Tom


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