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Reviews Written by
A. Miller "allanm" (Cumbria)

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Lizard (30th Anniversary Edition)
Lizard (30th Anniversary Edition)
Price: £8.49

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars finest half hour, 17 Nov. 2006
A band to admire in all their incarnations, although not always easy to like, this album - or rather Side 2 - is my favourite Crimson piece (beating off stiff competition from the 1st 2 albums, Larks Tongues I and II, Sleepless, Starless, Fracture and many more).

The title cut, taking up the whole of "side two", is very unlike anything they did before or since, but superbly written and played. Jon Anderson's vocal paints a Lord of the Rings-y picture, before a jazz bolero takes us into a series of moods. The guitar and fuzztoned wibbling take a back seat to a modern jazz lineup until near the end when a fantastic weaving solo, pre-echoing No Pussyfooting (and Blondie's Fade Away and Radiate), builds over an irregular bass thump. The Man.

Not sure where this sits in Fripp's view of things - for the Great Deceiver box set he replaced Gordon Haskell's vocal and bass on Cadence and Cascade with Belew and Levin, so I wondered if he might have some revisionist approach to the whole Haskell era. But a desirable replacement for worn-out vinyl for me.

Crossing the Styles: The Transatlantic Anthology
Crossing the Styles: The Transatlantic Anthology
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £43.95

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth a listen, 14 Nov. 2006
I'm pretty sure I first espied Gryphon on Jim'll Fix It of all things - God knows why. But I was tempted into giving Midnight Mushrumps a go, and a highly rewarding piece of music it proved to be. If you like Tubular Bells, you should like this, a largely acoustic (+ electric bass) extended piece building from slow beginnings via some lovely themes, nice riffs, multitracked recorder outro. I like it a lot.

But they were a quirky proposition too. Their first album was a hotch-potch of dreadful Pythonesque humour (Three Jolly Butchers) and Early Music outings, leavened by Juniper Suite, a hint of things to come, and the rather lovely Unquiet Grave, sung by drummer David Oberle (also responsible for the sole song on Midnight Mushrumps: the Ploughboy's Lament).

They camped themselves firmly in Progressive Rock territory on Red Queen to Gryphon Three with 4 extended instrumentals, all represented on this collection, adding synthesisers, electric guitars and kit drums to the recorder-bassoon-and-acoustic instrumental lineup. A pretty successful set of tunes.

For fourth album Raindance they went back to a mix of songs (they are pretty dire) and Prog instrumentals. Then came the diabolical Treason, not represented here (may not have been on Transatlantic).

The tracks are presented in no obvious order, which juxtaposition of medieval dance and synth-led prog rock may occasionally jar.

Having said all that, there is much to admire, particularly in their refusal to make any two albums even remotely alike! A very definite career arc, peaking with albums two and three. This collection contains 29 of the 30 tracks on their first 4 albums (omitting, I think, Touch and Go, a rather pleasant acoustic solo if memory serves, and greatly to be preferred to some of the ooh-aar vocal tracks!).

Oranges & Lemons
Oranges & Lemons
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £12.52

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Swindon's finest, 8 Nov. 2006
This review is from: Oranges & Lemons (Audio CD)
The heart seems to be worn (literally) on the sleeve with this one - psychedelia. Garden of Earthly Delights kicks off with Eastern promise, but The Mayor of Simpleton is McCartney pop, one of Partridge's best songs with its infectious cascading bridge/chorus. King for a Day is a nice Moulding contribution. Next up is the only weak song, the dreadful Here Comes President Kill - its sledgehammer message and leaden arrangement have me reaching for `skip' every time. The rest is a varied garden of delights, via the bizarre Pink Thing (I thought it was a single entendre, but I've just got the joke - it could be about a baby), culminating in the dreamy and lovely Chalkhills and Children, about rockstars and roots - "I'm getting higher - lifted up by fame's fickle fire till the chalkhills and children anchor my feet".

Without the Beatles, this album would probably not exist (true of much else besides), and I yield to none in my admiration of that band - but they never put together a collection as on-the-money as this. Punk threw up a lot of quality music when the noise died down, but nothing to be cherished so much as XTC.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 16, 2014 11:16 PM GMT

Thick As A Brick
Thick As A Brick
Price: £7.89

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't miss this, 5 Nov. 2006
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Thick As A Brick (Audio CD)
A distaste for prog-rock pomp has blinded many a soul to the quality tunes and playing which lie at the heart of this record. By Anderson's own admission, simply a set of songs glued together (in often clunky style) but with sufficient recapitulation and thematic cohesiveness to justify the effort. The production is excellent (after the rather dodgy Aqualung) and the instruments shine through even today. A lovely subtle beginning, too. Just acoustic guitar, "really don't mind if you sit this one out", a tootle of flute. A very nice song in its own right.

Close To The Edge
Close To The Edge
Price: £5.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Close to spot on, 3 Nov. 2006
This review is from: Close To The Edge (Audio CD)
The definitive Prog-rock epic. Who could imagine its like today, especially one with such huge mainstream appeal?

Completely nuts at the beginning, the plinky guitar and keyboard motifs skipping over grumbling bass and clattering percussion, interspersed with dead-stop "aaah"s, before a more lyrical theme enters, and things start to make sense. What many miss about Yes is their ability to rock; the sheer solidity of the bass and drum interplay giving an excellent platform for the powerful vocal and musical meanderings - fey they were not (generally). And Siberian Khatru - one of the best intros and riffs in rock, pounding along like a steam train.

Something in the melodies makes the daftest words make sense - "not right away; not right away...." "I get up... I get down" "hold down the window... hold out the morning that comes into view... ". With familiarity, it is hard to imagine anything more appropriate lyrically, rearranged livers, solid mental grace and all - melody, harmony, rhythm and meter matter more than overt meaning in this context.

This was the album that made me fall in love with the possibilities of popular music - head, heart and feet. Then along came punk, and we were supposed to be embarrassed about musicality. Never mind the Bo11ocks, here's Yes.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 13, 2013 1:02 PM GMT

The Hissing Of Summer Lawns
The Hissing Of Summer Lawns
Price: £5.99

29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ah, Joni!, 2 Nov. 2006
This was Melody Maker's album of the year in 1975 or thereabouts, so I bought it, played it twice and put it aside as rather uninteresting. Oh foolish youth, I fortunately did not take it down the local student-fund-raising second-hand store, but listened again and became gradually entranced by the melodic and lyrical flair contained therein. Barely a poor moment (the Jungle Line - sorry! - the Centrepiece interlude and Shadows and Light don't sit well with the rest, just to be picky) - the good stuff just keeps on coming. In France they Kiss... followed by [er...OK, where's that skip button!] then Edith ... Don't Interrupt ... Shades of Scarlett ... Hissing ... Boho Dance ... Harry's House... Sweet Bird.... The rest are perfectly fine, but those 8 are sublime, 30+ years on.

I have failed in my attempts to get friends to love this, but I sometimes sit after everyone has gone to bed with a glass of wine, and wallow in the combination of current appreciation and nostalgic association which old favourites engender. Sigh!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 17, 2011 3:33 AM BST

Crest Of A Knave
Crest Of A Knave
Offered by NextDayEntertainment
Price: £5.74

12 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Resurgence, 8 Feb. 2006
This review is from: Crest Of A Knave (Audio CD)
Perhaps my favourite Tull album after Thick as a Brick, this marked a great return to form. The 'rural' albums were the last to really grab the attention, the poor "A" and patchy Stormwatch had meant that new albums by Tull were much less the automatic purchases they once were.
Much of the quality resides in Martin Barre’s guitar work, and its interplay with the flute. The production is superb (recorded ‘at home’!), and allows the instruments to shine through. There is just a nod to the mid-80’s electronic past on Steel Monkey, shot through with shafts of glacial guitar, before Farm on the Freeway demonstrates the resurgence of Anderson’s gift for the haunting melody. The extended track – Budapest – and Said She was a Dancer invite surprising but unavoidable comparisons with Dire Straits. Mountain Men, after a somewhat tacked-on intro, settles into a fine piece with some lovely guitar and flute interjections.
The extra track – Part of the Machine – was originally released on the 20th anniversary box set, but finds a home here with this set of contemporaneous songs, and closes things out nicely.

Secret Of Life
Secret Of Life
Offered by the_record_factory
Price: £14.95

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars sheer delight, 23 Jun. 2005
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Secret Of Life (Audio CD)
Gretchen lives and works in Nashville - that may be a plus or a minus depending on your take on that town's associations - but she transcends genres with songwriting of high class and a beautiful, aching voice. "On a Bus to St Cloud" is one of the most affecting songs I've ever heard, wistful, poetic, beautifully played, arranged and sung. And many more delights besides - When you are Old, Circus Girl, Independence Day, Over Africa. A number of these songs get a reworking on the live Trio set, available only from her website, the quality of the material showing through in a pared-down voice, piano and guitar setting.

Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £1.26

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sumptuous, 16 Jan. 2005
This review is from: Dialogue (Audio CD)
I live in constant fear of quality music passing me by. I happened upon this while scouring the racks at the local store, thought the cover suggested something of interest, so asked them to put it on for me. Bingo! At least that one didn't get away! The boy-girl vocals and strong sense of melody and rhythm put me in mind of Prefab Sprout at their best - high praise - and I had the same broad grin as when I first got their 'Jordan' home, bought in similar manner. Lots of variety, very little filler, the find of the year. (OK, its only January!)

Jordan: The Comeback
Jordan: The Comeback
Price: £4.63

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars top drawer, 14 Oct. 2004
This review is from: Jordan: The Comeback (Audio CD)
A work of the highest quality from a writer, band and producer at the top of their game, this stands head and shoulders above anything by the Sprouts or anyone else in terms of ambition allied to sheer pop nous. Instantly grabbing attention with Looking for Atlantis, Thomas Dolby's kitchen sink production enhances but never swamps the songs. Machine Gun Ibiza is sly wah-wah soul, Moondog a lyrically dazzling celebration of Elvis & Americana. Elvis lives - on the moon! ("....guess who's on the moon? Up there a flag will fly - yes, sir! - for mom and apple pie"). We Let The Stars Go awash with harps, strings and yearning, The Ice Maiden stuffed full of hooks, and containing the best pause in pop ("..... welcome to the glow"). The gospel-ish One of the Broken even drags a tear from an infidel like me. Drummer Neil Conti deserves special mention, playing with taste and drive as required, particularly on the opener and Scarlet Nights. And Wendy adds that feminine touch - she was missed on the last UK tour, havin' a baby.

It's no accident that their most artistically successful albums - this and Steve McQueen - had Neil and Thomas - and Wendy - on board. It's the unit that works; the songs are great, but the performance is the thing. There are rumours afoot that they may yet work together again.

In the years following its release it figured in all-time top lists for a while, but inexplicably faded from popular consciousness, and rarely gets a mention, while lesser fare is lauded to the heights.

This is one of the best albums ever made. Love it, or else!

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