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American V: A Hundred Highways
American V: A Hundred Highways
Price: £9.78

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Final Recordings., 4 July 2006
Well it certainly looks like a Johnny Cash cd.The same iconic black and white shot of the "gnarly headed" legend, his name emblazened bodly across the top, as much as a statement of intent as a title.It's only when we peer inside and find the notes not written by the man himself, but the wonderful Rick Rubin that we are sadly reminded that Johnny is no longer with us, at least in the flesh, for "A Hundred Highways" certainly gives us the spirit of the great man.It has all the elements of yet another classic American Recording.Cash sings songs of God, whether it be admitting his own weakness in the opener "Help Me", or the strength he found in "I Came To Believe", or telling the "ramblers, gamblers and backbiters" in the stomping "God's Gonna Cut You Down" that justice will visit.Cash sings songs about trains, in Hank William's mournful "On the Evening Train" or on his own "Like the 309" where he compares his struggle for breath with a wheezing train,"Asthma coming down like the 309" and show us that he still had the address of the "Home Of The Blues" tucked away in his back pocket right to the end.Cash even sings a prison song in "I'm Free From The Chain Gang Now", but it's placing at the end of (maybe) his last album suggests the chain gang is merely this mortal coil.And it is this subtext, the history behind these last recordings, Cash's own mortality and the death of his beloved wife that permeate this whole album.From the coffin being loaded onto the Evening Train whilst the child is crying, through the message of "I'll meet you further on up the road", to the obvious "Rose Of My Heart", and the sadness of "our good times are all gone" in "Four Strong Winds" these songs are dedicated to the passing of June.It's not an easy journey, as Johnny sings on the gorgeous reading of "If You Could Read My Mind" about the ending being too hard to take, but this is a truly beautiful and moving album where every song fills you full of joy or brings you to tears, or often both.I just hope there'a few more gems hiding in the vaults yet.All in good time.

Lucky Town
Lucky Town
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.98

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It takes a Leap of Faith., 16 May 2006
This review is from: Lucky Town (Audio CD)
If ever there was an underdog that need championing, then this album surely qualifies.Though not completely panned upon it's release, it was hardly held up to much critical acclaim either.Put out simultaneously with "Human Touch", that record in my eyes was the album the Boss felt he had to release, containing songs that he felt the public expected to hear, "Lucky Town" however feels and sounds like the album he wanted to make, or indeed maybe even needed to make.

In this respect "Lucky Town" is a very honest and personal record, detailing a specific ongoing portion of Springsteen's life, much like "Tunnel of Love" had done 5 years previously.Not only though is this (for the most part) a more upbeat, optimistic album , it also contain some of Bruce's best writing, the songs being full of memorable, meaningful couplets and verses.From the belting opening "Better Days", with lines line "I took a piss at fortune's sweet kiss, it's like eating caviar and dirt,it's a sad funny ending when you find yourself pretending, a rich man in a poor man's shirt", and the whole premise of "Local Hero", Springsteen is able to take a humble, almost self-mocking view of himself and his life up to that point.Both songs along with the title track, with it's opening lines of "House got too crowded, clothes got too tight,and i don't know just where i'm going tonight" suggest a man about to break loose, on the verge of something special.These feelings are encapsulated perfectly in the gorgeous closing song, where Springsteen sums up the prevailing mood, "Searching for My Beautiful Reward".

Inbetween we get glimpses that maybe the Boss has found what he has been looking for, "If i Should Fall Behind" is one of the most beautiful love songs ever written, and details the two seperate entities in any relationship trying to find the pace of the other.In "Living Proof" Bruce sings how "This boy sleepin' in our bed" is that "little piece of the Lord's undying light" he has been waiting to witness, and divine "Book of Dreams" should certainly be played at every wedding.

I think maybe you have to be a certain age to really connect with these songs, to have been down but crawled back up, or been hauled back up.Other Springsteen fans will rightly point to other albums as their favourites but "Lucky Town" works for me as a whole entity, each song compliments the others, they cannot be seperated or added to without messing up the structure.It is an album full of superb songs but also an album in which the finished article is greater than the sum of the individual parts.It is certainly worth a Leap of Faith to experience it.

American Recordings
American Recordings
Offered by Todays Great Deal
Price: £3.45

40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rebirth and Revelation., 8 May 2006
This review is from: American Recordings (Audio CD)
Perhaps the best analogy i can use to describe the impact these American Recordings had on Johnny Cash admirers, is to try and imagine how the disciples must have felt upon dicovering the stone had been rolled away and the tomb was empty.Sure we all knew what Johnny Cash stood for, what he sounded like and what he sung about, but even so these songs were and still are, a revelation.An artistic rebirth virtually without comparison.

Stripped down to only his guitar and that wonderful deep voice, Cash commands a presence so powerful and stirring these songs are carved in granite for witnesses to marvel at many, many years from now.

And the songs themselves, whether from his own pen, or from those of others, all now become Johnny Cash songs.It almost doesn't matter the talents behind such classics as "Why Me Lord" or "Bird On The Wire", the composers give way to the singer, because it's the way Johnny Cash gives a voice to the infatuated murderer in "Delia's Gone", or to the Vietnam veteran in "Drive On", or to his own deepest fears in "The Beast In Me", or to his own highest beliefs in "Redemption" or "Down There By The Train", or to his own long, troubled life in "Like A Soldier" or "Let The Train Blow The Whistle", that make this album a deeply honest journey into the artists own sucesses and failings.But one that connects to all those willing to listen for in doing so he speaks for all the little parts in whole of us that make up the whole, neither fully good or completely bad.Cash had the unique gift of being able to take you to the very gates of hell with one song, but always offer up the chance of redemption with the next.

So if you have any interest in Johnny Cash, in music, or just in what makes us who we are, then buy this album, buy the other American Recordings in the series, buy the "Unearthed" boxset, just so you can say you saw and heard the legendary Man in Black walk and talk it like only he could, for the very final time.

We Shall Overcome The Seeger Sessions [CD + DVD]
We Shall Overcome The Seeger Sessions [CD + DVD]

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "One of these nights 'bout 12 o'clock, this old world is gonna rock", 25 April 2006
WoW !13 slices of pure Americana.13 Rip-roaring, rollicking and righteous tales of heroes and villains, outlaws and slaves, seeking redemption or finding damnation.Old time Hooting hollering and hellraising, the ghosts of a hundred wandering minstrels playing in the background, the pounding of long gone work gangs, the footsteps of protest marchers, sunday morning spirituals seeping from churchs way down south, calling for freedom or the end of the world.It's all here.And then some.So scatter sawdust on the floor, crack open the bourbon, find a partner who dances as badly as you do, and just enjoy.Truly exhilarating stuff.

Lou Reed
Lou Reed
Price: £3.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Overlooked and Underrated., 20 April 2006
This review is from: Lou Reed (Audio CD)
Though now thought of as one of the most influential bands ever, it's easy to forget just how little commercial success the Velvet Underground saw before Lou Reed departed.Thus very few people took notice of this, his debut album.The fact that it was badly mastered and produced didn't endear the few who took the plunge.This remastered version pitched to the public 3 decades on is caught in the trap of falling between the heights both before and after that Lou scaled artistically, and in containing songs no longer new to anyone who has bought either V.U., or the 2 disc Velvet Underground Live.

To dismiss this album though would be sheer folly because it contains some pure gems.The cuts brought from the Velvet days, though bearing similar arrangements still shine.Given their evolution how could they fail."I Can't Stand It" rumbles ominously, "Walk And Talk It" struts proudly, "Ocean" is given a fine atmospheric reading, and the " why am i so shy ?" coda in "Lisa Says", must be one of the most sublime moments in music.The new songs are just as good too, "Going Down" is very pretty, the version of " Berlin" is far more affecting than the one on the later album to which it gave it's title, and "Wild Child" is a quintessential Lou Reed song, full of dodgy characters talking " of the rain" and begging for "some spare change".Should not be overlooked.
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Ringleader Of The Tormentors
Ringleader Of The Tormentors
Offered by Rikdev Media
Price: £4.23

7 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Big on titles, short on words., 6 April 2006
Given the strength of his previous album, "You are the quarry", and of the first single " You have killed me", and its excellent, intruiging b-sides such as "Human being" and "I knew i was next" i was really looking forward to Morrissey's latest c.d."Truly Disappointed" to quote a phrase.The problem lies not with the production or the musicians on offer but rather with the sheer laziness of the writing, the seeming lack of effort on Morrissey's part which throws up tired old cliches far too often.Only on the first track, with it's couplet of "If your God bestows protection on you and if the USA doesn't bomb you", and at the ending of "On the streets i ran" with its "take people from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - just spare me" is the listener taken aback with pleasant suprise.Elsewhere "Dear God please help me" is a poor cousin of " I have forgiven Jesus", titles such as "I'll never be anybody's hero now" are stretched out over the length of a track to cover the lack of substance, and even relatively good songs like "In the future when all's well" are spoiled by the painful " long, long sleep" refrain."It's the same old s.o.s." Moz starts off "Life is a pigsty", and following it with lines like "you can shoot me and you can throw me off a train" or "I'd give you my heart, that's if i had one" one can only agree.Yet it's on the penultimate track that the worst example arrives, "Lord these words i beg of you, as i kneel down at my bed, because soon i will be dead" sounds even worse than it reads.I can't help thinking that if some budding pubescent poet had come up with these lines then he or she would for their own good have been locked in a darkened room for several weeks listening to nothing but Smiths songs to show them how to achieve maudlin with wit and grace and style. That it comes from the self proclaimed "Ringleader of the tormentors" himself is unbearably sad.

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