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Mr. J. M. White

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30 Years
30 Years
Offered by NextDayEntertainment
Price: £25.28

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 07/10. Some GREAT music, some bland music, average box set, slightly overblown price, 24 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: 30 Years (Audio CD)
THE MUSIC: First of all, The music contained within; there is good music on each of the seven studio albums here. There really is, even on the last two, which was rather surprising to me. However, that being said, it is really only the first 3 albums which could be considered consistent. The evolution of both quality songs and their style continues, I feel, all through their discography, but only the first 3 albums (Red Roses to If I should fall...)contain consistent greatness. The rest range from lots of highlights marred by intensely average (Peace and love), mostly pretty good, but not enough overall highlights (Hell's ditch, Pogues Mahone) to out and out, mind numbingly bland (Waiting for Herb). It was slightly disheartening coming across an album as out and out superb as If I should Fall From Grace With God and then having it followed by such inconsistency, but time having passed, it is easier to dig out highlights even from them, especially Peace and love, which I feel has some real Pogues classics on it, and a good evolution of sound, just slightly marred by some average, standard songs.

It suppose it would have been rather easy for the band even on the first three albums to fall victim to just putting out standard songs of their style played passionately as they are, but across those albums, there is a real talent for shaping what could be considered fairly typical, enjoyable Celtic melodies into very defined, memorable songs. This ability to shape and blend the folk and the Punk marvelously evolves throughout their first 3 albums, reaching a real peak with If I should fall..., which contains their most (to these ears) melodic songs up to that point, wherein they are more clearly defined than ever before, and consistently, thereafter. Peace and Love contains some evolution of the sound - a lot of song are more defined and disparate than ever before, and a couple seem to edge close to pop, even. However, the more typically pogue songs on it occasionally sound like more flatly played versions of leftovers from the previous album. Hell's Ditch has a very cool sound, and mostly all good songs, nothing I find intensely average like the occasional song on Peace and Love, and whilst there is a sort of Eastern, and sometime straighter folk rather than Celtic sound which keeps things interesting throughout, I find a lot of the songs to just edge on greatness rather than fulfilling their potential, as the performances I find to be a tad flatter than before, especially in terms of MacGowan's voice.

As for the last two, well there is not a great deal to say about them. They are basically more dully produced versions of what has gone before, with both vocals and instruments that seem like that of a Pogues tribute band desperately grappling to the real band's sound as strongly as possible. Not that there is not still highlights, there is, but not too many, and as I said before, a real dull, lifeless production for both, though I find Pogue Mahone to have a few more highlights than Waiting for Herb. Both these albums contain many songs that sound like more lifeless versions of previous tunes, but there is also a noticeably larger amount of poppier, more commercial songs in the vein of Lorelai from Peace and Love, which are often the stronger songs with these albums.

Brief Album Summaries and ratings:

Red Roses for Me - Whilst a slightly typical sound rears its head every now and again, even these slightly average songs are lifted by passionate, energetic playing and "singing". This feels like a lesser version of Rum, Sodomy... in many ways, but is mostly all still great, with loads of highlights, and a real raucous, rebellious nature. Best songs: Boys from the County Hell/Greenland Whale fisheries. Worst Songs: Dingle Regatta/Kitty - 08/10

Rum, Sodomy and the Lash - A real step forward for the band, taking everything that was good about their debut and expanding up and more clearly defining the individual songs. The Wild Cats of Kilkenny is possibly my favorite Pogues instrumental with a rollicking, energetic feel. A Pair of Brown Eyes is an expert, mournful folk ballad and the Band played Waltzing Matilda is as epic a folk song as you will ever need. Best songs: A pair of Brown eyes/sally MacLennane. Worst Songs: Navigator/Billy's Bones (not bad, just a bit more unremarkable than what goes before it). 09/10

If I should fall from Grace with God - Superb album. Just superb. Takes everything that was great about their sound, gives it a slightly more commercial sound in places, widens certain influences, and just groups together some basically superb songs. Highlights for me include the moment when the up tempo kicks into gear on Fiesta, the chorus on the title track, the chorus on Broad Majestic Shannon, and the entirety of Fairytale in New York, which really is just a majestic song. Best songs: Title track/Fairytale of new york/Fiesta/Broad Majestic Shannon. Worst songs: None that come to mind really. 10/10

Peace and Love - Undeniably disappointing follow up. Still contains great songs, just not consistently - it also contains some further evolution of their sound. Some of the more typical songs are slightly duller than whats came before, but there strong highlights. I find it hard not to get caught up in the atmosphere of Young Ned of the Hill, Lorelai is memorable venture into poppier territory, and I adore the melody to London you're a lady. Best songs: Young Ned of the Hill/London you're a Lady. Worst songs: Gartloney Rats/Boat Train. 07/10

Hell's Ditch - again, a leap below the first three, but slightly more consistent than peace - though I don't feel the high points reach quite as high as that album's. Less of an out and out Celtic feel, sort of a more eastern theme and sound in places I think. Best Songs: Ghost of a smile/Sunny side of the Street. Worst Songs: Hell's Ditch/Madrin Rain. 07/10

Waiting for Herb - Now I don't count myself as a particularly harsh judge of music - i find aspects to enjoy in most albums, and it takes something exceptionally mundane for me to give it less than a six (and conversely, it takes a lot to impress me enough to award a 10/10, but this album really is a bland thing. All the style of before now with added dull production and exceptionally mundane, MacGowan-like Karaoke style vocals. The opening track is a good Pogues-like borderline pop song (Tuesday morning), but everything else ranges from acceptable and average to out and out bad (big city, pachinko, my baby's gone) Best song: Tuesday Morning. Worst: Big city, Pachinko. 05/10

Pogue Mahone - I feel this is a definite improvement over Herb, but none the less a predominantly pretty pale imitation of what has came before. Livin in a world without her is a real fave of mine - a catchy, rollicking song, and Love you till the end is a nice little pop song, and I rather like the cover of When the Ship comes in. So yeah, only a few highlights still and little evolution in sound from that album, but a better sound and overall quality than herb. Best songs: Livin in a world without her/Love you till the end. Worst songs: Oretown/Tosspint. 06/10.

THE SET/PACKAGING; Pretty uninspired stuff really. No liner notes or separate booklet, which I would have expected from a celebratory set of the band. The lyrics printed within the individual cardboard album sleeves are nice, and generally strong quality print to these eyes. But yeah, pretty standard stuff really - cardboard box, cardboard sleeves, like a lot of these complete collections, but no accompanying booklet, so a bit of a dearth of information. Now I would accept this and not pay it much mind, but this seems to cost a fair amount (49.99 at time of writing, 45 at time of buying)for what it is. There are numerous other sets that contain much more music and albums for a much better price, WITH an accompanying booklet. So this is a relatively expensive, very bare bones set. If it had been a bit cheaper and not labeled as a "30 years" box set, I would have accepted it, but as good as the music can be, it's hard not to be a little disappointed in the actual set itself. still nice to have the albums in the one set mind - just wish more thought had been put into the package - it all smacks of a bit of a budget set, despite the price tag.

The Studio Albums 1968-1979
The Studio Albums 1968-1979
Offered by MediaMerchants
Price: £26.32

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An astounding collection of beautiful, ethereal music for the soul. Best box set you will ever purchase, bar none., 22 May 2013
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Sometimes music just connects with you - you can like a lot of bands, lot of artists, then an artist just comes along that REALLY gets to you, and, for lack of a less pretentious way of putting it, really stirs the emotions - Joni Mitchel makes music that you don't always simply enjoy, but music that you genuinely connect with as well, on some deeper, explainable level. Since the first time I listened to Bob Dylan, 3 years ago and Tim Buckley 2, music has had this effect on me, and naturally this happened with Joni Mitchell. She is an artist whose main period of brilliance contained in this set really does not need a strenuous introduction - Her folksy, melodic, sparse beginnings evolve into increasingly jazzy, increasingly wild and rebellious, mature pop music, starting from the rather underrated, folksy songs from to a seagull to the wonderful tribute to a legend that is Mingus, by this point taking her jazzy pop into full on, sparse vocal jazz music. Joni Mitchell's discography is one to really get into, to listen to chronologically, tracing the evolution of her sound as her albums roll out, experiencing not only brilliant songs, but also the really rather interesting and constantly quite exciting evolution of a fantastic songwriter and evocative, emotional lyricist. Great songs, evocative imagery and genuine emotional depth is what you get here, a very fulfilling experience, especially for such a fantastic price.

Now for the albums themselves - I will rate and give a small review for each of them;

SONG TO A SEAGULL - Not Mitchell's best set of songs, and the vocals have a less intimate, more grand and almost classical touch to them that I personally feel is not QUITE as effective as later work from her. However, this is still a great listen, featuring one of her most beautiful compositions in "CACTUS TREE", a strongly melancholy song where the lyric "While she's so busy being free" and its delivery will, guaranteed, make you cry like a baby. Other personal Highlights include "NIGHT IN THE CITY" with its unusual vocals, and "THE DAWNTREADER" with its "epic", sort of grandiose sound. 08/10

CLOUDS - a stunning second album, improved in every way from her debut, be it lyrically, musically, vocally. This is a stunningly good collection of songs f - a lovely selection of melodies and words filtered through a sparse, melancholy folk sound that goes straight to your heart and stays there. This is, in my opinion, the most "haunting" Mitchell album this side of Blue, perhaps the most expertly executed set of songs in her melancholy folksy style - Listen to the truly sad sounding melodies on ANY of the songs here and tell me they didn't stir your emotions/long buried heartache even just a single bit. Personal highlights for me would be, naturally "BOTH SIDES NOW", containing what has to be one of her finest melodies. Ditto "SONG ABOUT THE MIDWAY" AND "I DON'T KNOW WHERE I STAND", a song which I first listened to when mourning lost love and unsure of my place within the world. Let's just say it didn't make me feel any better - but you music is good when it affects you as deeply as this song did to me! a great little flipside is "CHELSEA MORNING", this albums version of a pop song - a lovely, more upbeat number - 10/10

LADIES OF THE CANYON - starting to experiment more here - sticking to her melancholy, folksy singer-songwriter sound, but greatly expanding it at the same time, with a somewhat more poppy sound on some songs, and a slightly more experimental Jazzy-pop sound on some that would be developed much further in future albums. I would say it is not quite as strong or confident in terms of overall sound as what came before or, especially, what would follow, but this is a masterpiece in its own right - song highlights include a fair few number; You get the sweet , catchy (and yes, still largely "sad" sounding) songs like "MORNING MORGANTOWN" and "BIG YELLOW TAXI" and the atmospheric "THE ARRANGEMENT", which sees Joni really beginning to pull away from the straight ahead melancholy folksy melodies and vocal stylings. My personal favorite track is "THE CIRCLE GAME", which begins as a typically lovely little folksy number and leads into a nursery-rhyme and impossibly sad sounding chorus. 10/10 (just)

BLUE - Brilliantly written, impossibly sad, lovelorn, desolate, and beautiful, lyrically, musically, vocally. In terms of vocals, this may be her finest moment; melodic like her previous folksy stuff, but more stretched, more flexible than before, a perfect combination of what came before and what came after. Also, quite simply, it is her finest collection of songs, although maybe that opinion is clouded due to my own personal predilection for this style, who knows. Highlights are effectively every song apart from the final, but my own personal favorites are, "ALL I REALLY WANT", this albums version of an upbeat pop song "CAREY", "CALAFORNIA", which I think adopts a less out and melodic vocal style from Mitchell, and proves she can convey wonderful, heartfelt melodies just as well when straying from her previous predominate style. my favorite has to be "THIS FLIGHT TONIGHT", for which I will offer up no explanation - just listen to it. STUNNING album, but the exact opposite of an album you would want to listen to after breaking up with someone. 10/10

FOR THE ROSES - Somewhat of a stylistic stop-gap that keeps some of blue's sparse, folksy nature yet furthers the jazz-pop she would come to expertly write and sing, For the Roses is never the less a fantastic statement from an ever growing song-writer even if it does not sound as solid as what would come later. Fantastic variety that mostly works in it's favor, with increasing use of the piano. Favorite songs for me here include "YOU TURN ME ON I'M THE RADIO", a relatively upbeat pop song with very effective backing vocals, "SEE YOU SOMETIME", maybe the most heartfelt and blue-esque song here, and a song that emanates the same quality of that album as well. There is also the unusual "COLD BLUE STEEL AND SWEET FIRE", which has a much different sound, with vocals angled more to the jazzy, esoteric and subtle than ever before. 09/10

COURT AND SPARK - Even though melancholy is still the order of the day here Court feels very much like the stylistic culmination of her ever evolving sound up to this point, fully applying the jazz-pop sound, ditching most of the remnants of her old folksy sound. There is an upbeat, piano driven sound going on here - with guitars that manage to be nice and bluesy, and a more suitably talkative style of vocals that still retain a wonderful talent of conveying her lovely melodies. Also probably her second best collection of songs - more poppy than the route she would take, there seems to be full effort here to make these songs some of her catchiest ever, including the wonderful "COURT AND SPARK", "FREE MAN IN PARIS", "PEOPLES PARTIES" and the blusier, almost funkier "CAR ON THE HILL" 10/10

THE HISSING OF SUMMER LAWNS - This is a much more experimental, more subtle, less out and out catchy album than it's predecessor. Once again furthering her ever increasing jazzy sound, to a wilder, deeper extent. Make no mistake though, the songs here, whilst not as accessible as her previous cuts, remain quite brilliant - a lot of songs taking on a sort of balladic jazzy tone, low key, slow, subtle music that creeps in through repeated listens. Song highlights for me would have to be "THE JUNGLE LINE", a song the like of which she would never write again, at least not that I have heard; a wild, tribal song with great, twisting vocals from Mitchel. on the flipside, there is the stunning, piano driven "SHADES OF SCARLET CONQUERING", in my top 5 Mitchell songs; a ballad with a sound so melancholy it stands alongside the best from Blue and Clouds in terms of sadness, and containing some of her finest melodies ever. Definitely this albums best song, containing an impossibly yearning tone. I also adore "HARRY'S HOUSE/CENTERPIECE", which starts off as a song typical of this album really, before evolving into a stunningly well done little blues/jazz number by the end. "SHADOWS AND LIGHT" is also a stark delight, mainly vocals, minimal instruments. 09/10

HEJIRA - VERY much continuing the sound of summer lawns, this disappointed me on first listen. the songs did not sound subtler, less obvious, they simply sounded more, well, boring, really. However, with a fair number of repeated listens this has become a real favorite of mine, containing two of my personal favorite Mitchell songs in the underrated masterpiece that is "AMELIA", which contains my favorite Mitchell vocal line/melody ever this side of This flight tonight and shades of scarlet, and has some excellent guitarwork that intertwines PERFECTLY with the vocals. The other is "BLACK CROW", a very different song from Amelia, a slightly more "tribal" number, and very typical of this albums basic style, I feel - once again great, distinctive guitarwork and a very fine central vocal refrain. So, yeah, jazzier, more experimental, and subtler sum this album in my opinion, and it may take some of you a few listens to sink in. It certainly did for me but it is well worth it - the songs and melodies here may not be as obvious as what has came before, but the best of it easily stands up to it. 09/10

DON JUAN'S RECKLESS DAUGHTER - This seems the least well thought of of Joni Mitchell's first ten albums, something that I understand. However, this contains much better songs than typical critical opinion wold have you believe. Sure, it doesn't quite reveal itself upon repeated listens in quite the same way as Hejira does, this very much sticks to the same style but once again in a more radical, less obvious style. So, AGAIN, great evolution of her sound, this time however, the songs aren't quite there in the same way as before. There are highlights here, though, including the wonderful "OTIS AND MARLENA", containing the most obvious melody of the album, and also by chance it's best. Wonderful central vocal refrain here. I'm also a fan of "DON JUANS RECKLESS DAUGHTER", as it is a fair representation of the basic style of the album and has some nice moments which emerge after a few listens. I feel I have to mention "THE TENTH WORLD", not as a highlight, but as a warning. Experimental music is not something I avoid (evidence; Starsailor by Tim Buckley is one of my top 5 albums of all time), BUT this is basically 6 minutes of tribal drumming and is both repetitive AND a little boring. 07/10

MINGUS - This may be where I get some disagreements. Very much like how I perceived Court to be the culmination of all the albums up to that point, this feels very much like the final chapter in the second half of the album selection here - very sparse, spacey, jazzy, and also quite possibly her subtlest album yet. Putting aside the little interludes and focusing on the songs, I really am a fan of the material on this album. I always appreciate and enjoy digging into the subtlety on Mitchell's post court and spark work, having the songs reveal themselves over time, and this may be the most rewarding in that aspect. Once you get used to/accept the style of the album, and once the songs reveal themselves to you fully, this is an album thats sound borders on the hypnotic, with quiet, unassuming power. "GOD MUST BE A BOOGIE MAN" is in my top 10 Mitchell songs and is a stark stunner. The refrain of god must be a boogie man and the chant that follows it is a spine-tingling moment for me. "THE WOLF THAT LIVES IN LINDSEY" has a more heartfelt tone to it in the vocals, a more delicate guitar tone in PLACES, and has a lovely subtle melody. 09/10

Like I said before, this is a set of albums to listen to chronologically - you go on a highly interesting journey, charting Mitchell's musical evolution, a very fulfilling and enjoyable journey containing some of the finest songs and music of all time. Music that really does go straight to your soul. And stays there.

Price: £13.15

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A favorite album of mine - A melancholy, haunting, country sound, 4 May 2013
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This review is from: Oar (Audio CD)
Some albums you get, some you don't - this stunner, I have found is a highly divisive one among those I have brought it to listen to - I am guessing this is because of it's very nature - insanely melancholy - a depressed, simply very sad sounding album recorded by a man in a simply very sad and unstable state of mind. There is no escaping the sound of despair within this album - especially considering how sad his life became even after it, how the poor lad ended up - it's a statement of extreme talent that was never much used again - a true tragedy, considering just how memorable all of this is - the "memorable" melancholy sound of the album is met with some stunning songs and, I feel I should add, some of the most haunting vocals ever put to modern recorded music.

This album, as pretentious as this may sound, for me, transcends basic genre, but if I simply had to describe it's sound, I would say it is distinctly, often very country-esque, in a highly doomy manner - a lot of songs carry a strong country sound and vibe, some have an experimental, borderline psychedelic nature. I shall leave you guys to decide which is which. Basically put, this is somewhat experimental country/americana sounding 60's singer/songwriter music.

Now for song highlights. Which is surprisingly difficult for me; there ain't a song that doesn't have some moment of extreme worth and brilliance. However, Cripple Creek takes the top title for me, sort of a dark doomy country vocal meets an almost jaunty little acoustic guitar line; the ultimate in melancholy country music. Margaret tiger-rug I also love; has an old fashioned feel to the instruments, and the vocal melody, both of which get progressively, and I think noticeably weirder and more offbeat and latterly melodic as the song goes on. All come to meet her has a borderline psychedelic sound to it - its an EXTREMELY haunting 60's pop song. Dixie beach promenade, I think, carries a similar style to cripple creek, and has a similarly wonderful, similarly country-depressing vocal melody.

Effectively, this album cannot be recommended highly enough - its a snapshot of various styles around at the time filtered through a genuinely unique, genuinely skilled songwriters' damaged mind. Sure, it carries an inescapable sadness, but I doubt I will ever hear vocals as effective as this in my lifetime - vocals that carry such broken promise and sadness - listen to this whenever you can, but not when you are in a state of self doubt or after someone has died. This aint an album for all occasions.

Price: £5.98

15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly enjoyable album - 07/10, 4 Jun. 2012
This review is from: Americana (Audio CD)
This is a sloppy album: you may expect this considering Crazy Horse's name is on the cover, but it really is very VERY much in the vein of their usual work: sloppy, crunchy guitarwork and I suppose you either like Young with them or you don't - I personally love their albums together: these "collaborative" albums do not always necessarily lend themselves to producing some of Young's more defined, melodic, overtly memorable songs, and this is somewhat the same: nothing is an instant classic here, but there is nothing you could consider awful: it is all sloppy, enjoyable, rockin stuff that anyone who dig's the band and Young together should get immediately - and after a couple of full listens now, it seems like a genuine grower as well.

The fact that these songs are all covers, mostly of old folk songs, is neither here nor there a large portion of the time: whilst some keep the basic sound, this is basically these songs done in a highly typical Crazy Horse style manner, and not all of em (understatement) escape with their original sounds in-tact fully, but that would be typical, really, wouldn't it - and who would ever want typical from Young (even if the albums playing and basic sound you could somewhat describe as typical horse!)?.

Im a big Crazy Horse fan, and love their albums together - I even really like Broken Arrow, consider it a highly enjoyable underrated album - and I can easily see why some may not like this - it AIN'T full of classic, memorable songs, but - as pretentious as this may sound - consistently classic songs is not what Young and Crazy horse together have been about for quite a while, and this is an insanely fun, enjoyable album that was clearly insanely fun and enjoyable to make.

08/10 for Horse fans, probably a 07/10 overall.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 4, 2012 7:51 PM BST

Carnegie Chapter Hall 1961
Carnegie Chapter Hall 1961

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic little snapshot of early Dylan, 30 May 2012
The sound quality wavers a bit, but was anyone truly expecting perfect sound quality here? I know I wasn't - what I was, however, was some warm, typical old folk from the time period, in a style keeping with a lot of the Witmark demo's, Dylan's first studio album, and the Folksingers choice radio broadcast I have also purchased. And I really do believe this is a great example of the style, of Dylan's early Guthrie worship - its warmly played folk music by a big fan of the genre - and an interesting piece in charting Dylan's evolution - you will not find any experimentation or even some of the more melodic sensibilities of his freewheelin album here, this is typical early folk covers, with some originals thrown in.

I get a huge kick from hearing the man play these songs, its so interesting to hear the simple, warm, intimate origins of the man who would go on to create such vital, revolutionary, experimental music - and he really does do the style well - even with the knowledge that he was... well, a wee bit of a spoiled brat, by all accounts, it does not really change the power and "authentic" feeling of the songs - such an imperfect voice, so whiny, as always it genuinely feels like you are being sung to by a Guthrie-esqu world-beaten Traveller - dylan sung the eclectic blues/folk hybrid work of 61/home/blonde amazingly, but he really REALLY suited this earlier style - a voice both very "real", very emotional and tender as well when it wanted to be.

Personal highlights from me would be 1913 massacre and A long time a growin - both really pretty beautifully sung little folk songs. Also dig the rendition of one of my own favourite dylan tracks - song to Woody - its played very similarly to its studio version here, but hearing the sheer volume of applause the man gets for playing it is quite heart-warming - it by far seems like the song that got the biggest applause. Also love the prolonged train whistle like vocal effects on Freight train blues - really amusing, gets a few laughs from the audience.

So yeah, probably rambled there, sorry - basically, buy if you like that early Dylan folk style - song selection ain't exactly perfect but its probably, in my opinion, the best example of his earlier sound out there - though the Witmark demoes and the live recording from Bonnie Beecher's apartment, recently released, are also highly recommended.

Love At The Bottom Of The Sea
Love At The Bottom Of The Sea
Offered by Great Price Media EU
Price: £6.99

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A tad disappointing, but still a fun, breezy little album- 07/10, 12 Mar. 2012
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Do not get me wrong, this is NOT a bad album - There are some damn fine, catchy, jaunty and funny songs on this album, but it is without a doubt their most uninspired album - though Realism had less good songs, it DID have a more identifiale, folky sound to set it apart. Love at the bottom of the sea, however, simply sounds like a "Magnetic fields" album - this is the band going back to basics, which is not necessarily a BAD thing, but it seems as if Merritt has forgot to write inspired, richly melodic pop songs as consistently as he has done in the past.

A fair few of the songs, whilst still quite enjoyable, feel VERY standard - in the past, even when some songs within the typical Mfields framework sounded similar, there was always some instrumental flourish or vocal melody to pick things up a bit and make it more identifiable, but on this album, a few too many, for me, sound simple very VERY "standard" - very uninspired, though due to the band's almost immediately recognisable, loveable sound, they do not exactly stray into "bad" territory - but if you are as big a fields fan as me, it is hard not to be slightly disappointed that so many of the songs lack that extra something to make them more memorable. HOWEVER, a fair few still do - Even if not quite as memorable as some of what has come before, a number of tracks are highly catchy and may soon find themselves in some best of playlist of the band soon (as they did with me).

Some of the highlights mentioned above are the single, Andrew in Drag, a highly fun, funny, cheeky song with a memorable sound - Infatuation (with your gyration) is something a bit different, but has a cool sound, and gets quite "dancy" in a very likeable way - The machine in your hand sounds quite standard, but, to me at least, has quite a memorable on going vocal melody and I find myself listening to it more and more - ditto with My husbands pied-a-terre; again nothing highly inspired, and not a classic, but VERY enjoyable, good old fields sound, just a good wee song. The last two tracks are my favourites: Quick and All she cares about is mariachi. Mariachi in particular has a very memorable style of vocal from Merritt.

So, whilst not anything approaching the band's best, most inspired album, there is a lot to enjoy from this bright, breezy, jaunty wee album - a fair few good songs, and no real BAD ones means that whilst it does not inspire much, it doesn't exactly leave you with feelings of major dissappointment either. Better than realism, but nothing approaching Distortion, songs, or highway strip - you are probably more likely to get something out of this quirky wee album if you are a major fan of the band's sound.

Wrecking Ball
Wrecking Ball
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £7.54

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not perfect, but still a very engrossing, interesting album - 08/10, 12 Mar. 2012
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This review is from: Wrecking Ball (Audio CD)
This is the exact opposite of Working on a dream, and to a slightly lesser extent, Magic - both of those albums has a u.s.a/born to run like bombastic, melodic pop sound - Springsteen at his most melodically rich and catchiest - this however, whilst still bombastic - the production and drum sound sees to that - it is possibly his least melodic album in a sense - I would compare it to Devils and dust, but that had a melodic, country like charm of its own - this, on the other hand, is a dark, dramatic, angry record (though the irish sound of death to my home town got my feet a-tappin').

I have heard some fans and reviewers express dissappointment that there are not more outright memorable songs - and to an extent I would agree - you can write dramatic, brooding music and still have a few more identifiable, and stronger melodies than this album admittedly has, the second half in particular, up until the last two, seems to consist of mid tempo brooding "ballads" that lack anything particularly memorable (though the brief rapping and female vocals on rocky ground are actually pretty neat)- do not get me wrong, these songs are not bad, just not especially memorable and also fall a little flat after the opening slew of songs, which contain numerous highlights.

Personal highlights for me here include, first of all, Jack of All Trades, a ballad, and a beautiful one at that - a very devils and dust like song to these ears, and whilst maybe a little "dull" to some, to me it is one damn beautiful, mournful song - lovely melody in there and some touching, tender vocals. We then have the Irish influenced Death to my hometown, a rousing, dramatic number which manages to be one of the catchiest on the album. Ditto Shackled and drawn, which is sort of a rocker, and another rousing anthem which manages to be catchy without the overtly poppy melodies of the past two albums. The single, we take care of our own, sounds a bit typical at first, but it grows over time, and has sort of become one of my favourite Springsteen rockers recently. I am not as much of a fan of Land of Hope and Dreams as some, but the instrumentation in particular is rousing and, using this word AGAIN, dramatic. The last song sounds like an out-take from the seeger sessions - lushly melodic, old fashioned and folky - great way to finish the album.

So, overall, a HIGHLY enjoyable album. It is very front loaded, and this depression, the title track, you've got it and , to a lesser extent, rocky ground are largely unmemorable and a little bland, but as always, there is nothing outright bad on offer, and every song offers some degree of enjoyment, and the rockier and rootiser tracks like shackled and drawn, hometown and the final track go surprisingly nicely alongside the big, drum driven "ballads" on offer elsewhere - its an album both rootsy & charming and brooding & bombastic - quite possibly his least melodic album overall, it may appear tuneless to some, and sure, maybe the boss could have tried a tad harder to come up with some memorable, identifiable melodies, but this is springsteen experimenting and throwing the fans a curveball - never a bad thing, in my opinion. A strong, dark, powerful, enjoyable album - not perfect, but if you are a real springsteen fan, I do not see how you can not at least get SOMETHING from this.

The Electric Light Orchestra
The Electric Light Orchestra
Price: £6.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic underrated Experimental pop album - 09/10, 10 Mar. 2012
I love this album, but can easily see why others do not: three full length instrumentals that one could describe as a tad plodding, and is not nearly as varied in sound as the move album it was recorded (if I remember correctly) alongside the fourth and final Move studio album - but there is just something about it, about it's lovely, sweeping classical nature that strikes a chord with me: it has a unique power which few more of their (admittedly still brilliant, just different) studio albums managed. The sound is basically similar to latter day Move in many ways - the vocal melodies in particular, obviously are akin to the stuff that the band were putting out with the last two albums with Jeff in particular: MAYBE not quite as melodic, or overtly poppy though, with instrumental interludes, orchestral/classical style permeating the compositions quite heavily: again, whilst others could see it as plodding, and maybe lacking in focus I see it as powerful, unique and sweeping: the album has a good, strong sound which whilst being reminiscent of The Move, is still its own creation really.

I do not dislike any of the songs: Battle of Marston Moor and Manhattan Rumble, two of the three instrumentals, do not particularly stand out for me and do in fact become a little plodding, the other instrumental, 1'st Movement, is a lovely one - a song I genuinely adore and that has a wonderful melody - other highlights include Look at me now, very move like in it's vocal melody, and queen of the hours - a lovely, sweeping melodic number. My favourite track is undoubtedly Nellie takes her bow - a fantastic song and truly one of the most underrated pop songs of all time - the chorus in particular is a thing of tragic, melancholy beauty - the vocal melody/singing at the "floodlights burning/band play on" gets me every time - I have no idea if this song is really considered one of the great ELO songs - if it isn't it should be!

So, this is a highly recommended album - do not think everyone will dig it, but it is something, definitely, a bit different - not especially similar (in any way really) to the elo sound that most people recognise. Buy if you like pop with a unique, creative difference.

Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 7, 2015 10:44 AM BST

A Dramatic Turn Of Events
A Dramatic Turn Of Events
Price: £6.99

9 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Really very average, 22 Sept. 2011
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This won't be a song focused review, will be more a short overview of the sound and general shortcomings/highlights. People seem down on Dream theatre when it comes to their last three albums before this: to an extent I agree, From Octavarium onwards, they have not had as cohesive a feel as they once did, but to me at least, the songwriting, whilst a bit all over the place, was actually more melodious, the individual songs generally a bit more enjoyable: the ballads in particular having a more catchy, melodic element in place: some of their older stuff, whilst still having fairly defined songs, often spared them for technical wankery: which never was a problem for me either, as said wankery was always extremely enjoyable and impressive. Going into this album genuinely curious, and reading so many fans positive reviews, I expected a lot, and none of it was really met.

Like I said, I prefered the more defined melodies of the past few albums and whilst I appreciate the fluidity of this work: it's possibly their most unified sounding album alltogether; it comes at the expense of memorable melodies, structures and songs: it is a VERY boring album: very few of the interesting twists and turns you would expect from the band, and very similar and often boring structures. Whilst having quite a melodic FEEL, the songs are not that melodic at all: in fact, they are highly unmemorable, often being either balladic or mid tempo style, and whilst there ARE twists and turns in there, there is nowhere near enough of them, and the album suffers, I feel, from repetition. Don't know what happened here; it seems like the band has churned out a album they think Dream Theater fans will enjoy, what they expect to hear, and it seems to have worked: lot of fans appear to be enjoying this, which is good, but I simply get nothing from it. Im rating it 05/10 because the skill on show is astounding as ever, and there ARE some neat wee parts here and there, but this is an album almost entirely devoid of great songs, a real lack of consistent quality, and a repetitious, samey nature that could potentially be offputing to some (like me), or warm and enjoyable for others (stronger fans of the band perhaps). To me, this is a soulless album; standard DT melodies and technical work all round, Nothing more, Nothing less, and weirdly both a step forwards AND backwards from the previous three albums.

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Age Of The Joker
Age Of The Joker
Price: £5.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great album - not brilliant, but a must for fans of the band!, 13 Sept. 2011
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This review is from: Age Of The Joker (Audio CD)
I liked Tinnitus Sanctus a lot more than some "fans" of the band, but I had one chief complaint: the guitar work was rather flat: despite the fact that I loved the vocal melodies and insanely catchy tunes heald within, the guitarwork was basic, only seeming to serve as a rather flat percussion: how Pleased I was to hear this latest one: the same variety, catchy, power meets hard rock sound of tinnitus, but with much more relevant, prominent guitarwork and bounce to it: it's obvious that the vocals and in some places the keyboards are the most important aspect to it all, but the guitarwork is good in places: to me it has a slightly mysteria like crunch in places, which to these ears sounds like a cool little callback to their earlier style on that album.

Further comparing to Tinnitus, this sounds SLIGHTLY staler in places, despite the heavier, bouncier sound: whilst each song on Tinnitus sounded different, and had a memorable quality or vocal, something recognisable to associate with it, Age of the Joker is in a sense, not quite as instantly memorable: it has a more unified sound and whilst good in a sense, some of the songs don't leave quite the same initial impression of classic Edguy, but seriously, let these songs bed in a wee bit: after a few more listens especially, they will start to reveal themselves properly: All that being said, this is still a great album, with a good deal of variety still in place, and a very catchy, bouncy overall sound, with Tobias's vocals as recognisable and effective as ever: so, if you are an edguy fan, obviously get this album, it has everything that has made the last couple of installments such succesfull melodic rock/metal opuses, and once the songs have bedded in, you may end up finding this to be the band's most consistent sounding one in a while. Unified, yes, but this album takes some very interestin twists and turns, sometimes in small segments, that also make it somewhat more interesting at the same time. AT times, like I said, it does feel a mite more typical than Tinnitus, despite the twists and turns it takes, maybe there ISNT as many stand out Edguy classics in the long run, but that never stops it from being a hugely enjoyable ride at any point. It could have been a classic if the songs had been more defined on occasion.

Robin Hood - 08/10 - Great epic opener - it does go on a bit longer than it should, and the melodies feel slightly like standard Edguy, but it IS undeniably a hugely enjoyable, bouncy way to start the album

Nobody's Hero - 09/10 - a very typical Edguy hard rockin mid-tempo stomper with an upbeat chorus, this is a cracker: a comfortable, familiar sound, that still manages to be massively enjoyable and catchy: punchy, dramatic chorus followed by a nice crunchy guitar.

Rock of Cashel - 10/10 - Love this song - begins with a really neat bit of melodic guitarwork that picks up pace: and whilst the vocal becomes quite typical at first, the bridge and chorus are fantastic: again quite mid paced leading into punchy and dramatic, but instantly memorable and likeable - also dig the medieval feel to the guitarwork sometimes - gives it a slightly proggy sound I feel - something that is heightened when the song breaks into a brief little proggy, keyboardy sort of section. one of my fave edguy songs, probably: just very catchy, with a memorable old fashioned feel to it: like Theater of salvation crossed with rocket ride.

Pandora's Box - 08/10 - begins with a cool, subtle bit of guitarwork, before picking up pace and turning into another mid-tempo number: but it is prevented from sounding like a typical number of that style by introducing a more hard rock vocal, and reintroducing the guitar style from the "intro", from the start of the song: if the first three songs were more melodic metal, this is more straight forward hard rock, with the more stylised vocals - this one also has a really neat chorus: maybe not a classic vocal/chorus overall, but some neat guitarwork, and some more interesting twists and turns in the sound - Edguys first country rock section (you know what bit I mean!) - still make it another cracker.

Breathe - 09/10 - beginning with a bouncy section, very catchy guitar and keyboard going hand in hand: what follows feels like a typical quasi ballad vocal that soon picks up pace along with the instrumentation, but once again, the band trumps expectations: what could have just been a typical, unmemorable number becomes as enjoyable as the rest, mainly down to a stand out chorus: highly melodic and catchy: emotional and dramatic, soon followed by that memorable little keyboard/guitar section: so not a classic verse, maybe, but the instrumentation and chorus make sure that is never really that obvious or bothersome.

Two out of Seven - 07/10 - Very similar in structure and sound to Breathe, albeit not quite as memorable: both the verse and chorus are not the greatest: not exactly something you will skip when its time comes, just standard: still enjoyable mind, with another catchy bit of keyboard action going on occasionally.

Faces in the Darkness - 08/10 - Opening with a slightly melancholy sounding balladic moment, it soon develops into a heavy, grooving monster: very anthemic, mid tempo stuff with a catchy rytmn going on - when the vocals first come, it continues that slightly sinister, darker, perhaps slightly melancholy tone: neither the verse nor chorus is the most memorable vocal melody the band has ever came up with, but the overall quality of it, and the sheer enjoyability makes up for it: a crackin song, then, just not one that's destined to be a classic.

The Arcane Guild - 08/10 - a more upbeat, melodic kind of song, reminded me of mandrake era stuff a bit, and like some of the other songs, the "standard" edguy sound is there: the song is very catchy, very well done and enjoyable at all times, but it aint a classic - it's not defined enough or stand alone enough to be considered a band classic. Must mention the guitarwork here, though: once again, the interplay with the keyboards makes for a really neat sound.

Fire on the Downline - 06/10 - slightly boring ballad: despite good vocal, the verse is pretty bog standard metal/rock ballad, and even when it picks up with a nice bouncy keyboard/guitar bit, it's all distinctly meh: not really much to say about this one: whislt still OKAY, its only that: its quite unmemorable.

Behind the gates to the midnight world - 10/10 - an epic that is truly epic - unlike a lot of other songs on this album, it transcends being a very good edguy song and manages to be just a very good song overall: picking up pace in a typical fashion, all leads to a magical, epic chorus and some genuinely cool, crunchy guitarwork and atmospheric moments: goes through numerous tempos, executes all of them sucesfully: great song, this.

Every night without you - 08/10 - not as strong a finish as midnight world might have been - in esscence a fairly standard, tacked on ballad, but like so many of the songs on this, it transcends what is mostly fairly typical execution and a feeling that it isn't as memorable as it could have been, and actually manages to be enjoyable and foot-tapping against the odds

So, yeah, sorry for the length: was bored. Very enjoyable album, especially if you are a massive edguy fan, id imagine: has absolutely everything you love about the band, especially lately, but with a heavier, more dynamic sound than Tinnitus, alhough it does not particulaly have the consistently memorable songs of that record - in fact, it does sometime suffer the sense of fatigue and less defined songs that I feel plagues the latest two avantasia albums. But whatever - just after an enjoyable hard rock/melodic metal album? dont hesitate, buy this.

Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 7, 2011 8:54 PM GMT

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