Profile for Samson Briggs > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Samson Briggs
Top Reviewer Ranking: 221,216
Helpful Votes: 94

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Samson Briggs (Cattleprod)

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2
pixel
The Beatles and their Revolutionary Bass Player
The Beatles and their Revolutionary Bass Player
by Dennis Alstrand
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.13

5.0 out of 5 stars Just when you thought there were no new ways to approach a Beatles book....., 24 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
An alternative take on The Beatles story, I'd highly recommend this. It's essentially an American (bass playing) music lover's thoughts on the music they created and what he noticed it did to to the music scene he was growing up with, with particular reference to the way that the oft under-appreciated bass playing of Paul McCartney drove that sound and influenced so many players that came after him. His legacy is so huge in song writing terms, not to mention chart success in various forms and being the front man so much of the time, it's nice to have a little focus given to the bass.
The book itself it very personal reflection, written in a chatty, rather than scholarly style, as if you were sitting in the pub with the author. As such it's an easy read, throwing up all sorts of thought provoking nuggets - some from the author and some from various 'vox pops' employed throughout the book.
To be absolutely balanced, there are moments that could have perhaps done with slightly more stringent editing, but this is a minor quibble as the style of the approach virtually negates such thoughts. I found that once I started it I picked it up every spare moment to continue with it, and it had me doing something I almost never do any more - going and listening to Beatles songs yet again, despite the fact that I can recall them all in their entirety in a moment.
I particularly liked the sparing of plenty of thought for the frightening number of pre-Beatles artists whose chart career in the states simply stalled when they arrived. The recent BBC4 documentary on Neil Sedaka featured the fact that he had to spend the latter part of the 60's touring working men's clubs in the UK as a solo act, with his wife as agent / manager, and there were many similar cases. Also the sections on the early years when Paul's bass is less clear in the mix, are well balanced with such albums where it's prominent such as Abbey Road and Revolver.
Of perhaps particular fascination for the UK reader is the twist given to the Beatles story by the Capitol mashing up of Beatles albums - rendering Rubber Soul a sort of pastoral folk rock record and Revolver as largely a Paul McCartney and George Harrison album. The author is well aware of the UK releases and this ensures that the UK reader is given a US perspective on being a teenager at the time without spitting nails. Finally there is a lovely touch to the end of the book, with a little story about the author and his brothers visiting the shrine that is the zebra crossing at Abbey Road. I hope he writes a follow up on the Wings years now.


Tempest
Tempest
Price: £5.53

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A couple of epics too far., 28 Sep 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Tempest (Audio CD)
This album seems to have divided people to say the least. Better than 'Love and Theft'? As 'Good as Time Out Of Mind'? So, I've given it a while to bed in before reviewing it and for me, the list of post 'World Gone Wrong' albums of original material goes:

1. Love and Theft
2. Modern Times
3. Tempest
4. Time Out Of Mind
5. Together Through Life

The reasons being largely that whilst 'Love and Theft' only has perhaps one or two songs that could be considered close to major works, all the tracks are excellent. 'Modern Times' has at least one major work (WMB No. 2), but some of the tracks are a little too throw-away. 'Time out of Mind' has 4 great major works (TTGTH, SIAD, NDY & H), one good track (LS) and the rest is massively over-rated. 'Together Through Life' is just about all disposable.

So to 'Tempest'. The best of it is of a piece with Love and Theft. Eight marvellous songs, perhaps no major works, although that's debatable, but all utterly enjoyable. To run as briefly as possible through them, 'Duqesne Whistle' is the first truly decent song Dylan has written with Robert Hunter. Everything about it jumps and whirls beautifully. 'Soon After Midnight' is as good as any similar tune on 'Love and Theft' and better than the 'Modern Times' equivalent but its darker edge renders it far more compelling. 'Narrow Way' has come in for some criticism but I have to say I love it. It has balls and grit, something completely lacking since 'Honest With Me' on L&T. 'Long and Wasted Years' is such a surprise and a pleasure. The first such recording for many years, the delivery so effortlessly arch that it's easy to miss the brilliance. I don't think anyone other than Dylan can deliver the spoken word with such deftness. 'Pay In Blood' is one of the two nearest things to a major work here. It's atmosphere instantly places me somewhere between 'Mississippi' and 'She Belongs To Me'. A great song, the only complaint being that one wishes Bob had had a good cough before singing it. Something he seems to have done before singing 'Scarlet Town', on which his reportedly ruined voice seems in fine fettle, sounding more pliable than it has in a long time. This is the other major track here and is possibly my favourite on the album. Again, I've read criticisms of this, regarding Gillian Welch's 'Scarlet Town', but having listened to that track, I can't see any foundation to them. Two very good, very different songs. Likewise, 'Early Roman Kings' has been knocked for appropriating a Muddy Waters riff, but listen to what Dylan does with it! Like cut scenes from Bronx gang war movie, it flashes before you with a strange and compelling intensity.... and then it all goes wrong.

The two songs which would appear in the face of it to be the backbone of the album, the longest, most involved tracks, simply fall flat. 'Tin Angel' is no more than 'The Gypsy Laddie' / 'The Raggle Taggle Gypsy' / Black Jack Davy' with the 'Matty Groves' ending, plus an added twist. It's unoriginal, unnecessary and inexplicably stretched over 9 minutes with almost no real melody and no variation whatsoever. It has some good lines, but overall it really is a clunker of a song and takes all the dark yet somehow joyous sting out of all that has gone before. Many of the older versions of the story are more effective, being leaner and more vibrant both in melody and lyric. There is also the incredibly rare occurrence of Dylan's delivery failing him. This happens on 'Tempest' (track) too. In both songs, lines that don't quite fit, but which he would normally stretch or shoehorn in with ease sound clumsy in several places. If you're not familiar with the tracks the story is taken from (apologies if you are), have a listen. The Waterboys did a fine version of The Raggle Taggle Gypsy, Fairport's Matty Groves is pretty definitive and of course Dylan himself has done Black Jack Davey. I find it odd, given that fact in particular, that he offered up this take on it. The vocal melody, such as it is, is almost identical and the same goes for rhythm and meter, but on Tin Angel the life is sucked out of it so that by the end I have to say I don't care what the lovers do as long as they do it quickly. 'Tempest' is little better. It has a tune at least, as well as some good lines, but again it drags on with little really to recommend it. After much perseverance, these two have grown on me slightly, but ultimately they spoil the album and will in future be skipped. And then it all comes right...

I read somewhere that 'Roll On John' isn't a song about a friend, but rather a song about a legend. I have to say I agree. There has been an awful lot of guff written about Dylan's song for his lost musical brother but, as far as can be ascertained, they barely knew each other. Beyond Dylan realising the potential of the Beatles' sound on 'I Wanna Hold Your Hand' when he heard it and later noting with amusement how much Lennon was influenced by him (4th Time Around), it wouldn't appear that Dylan gave Lennon much thought. He had no need to. By contrast, Lennon apparently rather obsessed over Dylan for years. Much as I love John Lennon and for all the great things he has been responsible for, for me he never scaled Dylan's heights and his 70's pastiche 'Serve Yourself' should have been beneath him. It strikes me that this song was written more as an affectionate tribute to a contemporary who, due to tragic circumstance, has become a legend and whose life has taken on an almost mythical status even before his contemporaries have passed away. As such, he is akin to Hattie Carroll, Davey Moore, George Jackson and Lenny Bruce, Bruce, Lennon and Dylan of course being the only ones who shared taxis. The song is affectionate and one can only put that down to their shared experiences and occasional acquaintance, but ultimately it's the acceptance and acknowledgement of a man becoming a myth in what should have been his own lifetime. It's beautiful and closes the album at least as well as almost anything Dylan has closed an album with outside of the obvious.

In short, had this been an 8 track, 45 minute album, leaving 'Tin Angel' and 'Tempest' in the vault (never to be released on a future Bootleg Series - let's face it, neither is up there with 'Cross the Green Mountain') this would have been a 5 star album for being, perhaps even more than 'Love and Theft' a pithy, provocative, lyrically and melodically engaging and ultimately enjoyable piece of work. It could still have been called 'Tempest', but 'Tempest' shouldn't be on it. Thus edited, it's a genuine triumph.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 5, 2012 10:05 AM BST


Adventures Of A Waterboy
Adventures Of A Waterboy
Price: £8.04

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing to add., 8 Sep 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I can't add anything to Dolphin's review as that pretty much covers it. The feeling of candour and delight in each episode's retelling makes a way better autobiography than most.


An Appointment with Mr Yeats
An Appointment with Mr Yeats
Price: £12.97

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Updated - I feel I may have underated!, 7 Sep 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
"I find so many of these reviews puzzling. I loved The Waterboys during their purple patch but have been underwhelmed by all the newly written output since Mike Scott's first solo album. The magic flash seemed to dim. The music was ok, that was all. What I like about this is that it is a different thing and should perhaps not be judged by the same criteria. It is a heartfelt attempt to do justice to another man's words and it is almost entirely successful. Engaging, emotional, stately without getting dull, beautifully artful in many places, done with absolute skill and integrity, and it seems to me to be faithful to the poetry, which is surely the point? It's often unfair to expect the magic that spewed from the intensity of mad youth from an older artist, so I'm happy to treasure 'The Big Music' and the Ireland period for what they were and accept that they are part of history, but for me The Waterboys are very welcome to make music this engaging around such interesting subject matter until the cows come home."

That was my original 4 -star review after about 5 listens. I think I should have shut up until I'd given it the time it deserves. Since then I haven't had it off the stereo. The new Dylan album's been out 3 days and I haven't actually played it yet as I haven't stopped wanting to hear this. I have to concluded that the fact that it hasn't sold 10 million copies can only be because the Waterboys aren't famous enough and sadly too many people will either want to read Yeats or hear U2 or Rhianna, leaving this project somewhat between two stools. As it were. As for the ludicrous and nasty one-star review on here, the man is obviously either in some way impaired or Mike Scott once slept with his girlfriend.

To the music again - I enjoyed it all first few listens, but somehow after a a few more, the songs somehow knitted together anew and the tunes began to reveal their substance. I've only broken from it to go back over 'Universal Hall' and the solo outings to check I hadn't missed something. I have to confess that bar the odd track, those albums still don't grab me, so if you're a one-time Waterboys fan who gave up during the 90's, I would urge you with every ounce of urginess to buy this. Once you're buried in it, out of the marvellous words and the striking and quirky musical phrasing and the beautiful mistiness of some of the tunes come galloping some strident Waterboys tunes which would sit comfortably on any of the first 3 or 4 albums. I might even go so far as to say that some of Scott's best ever melodies are on here. Overall, the inclusion of horns, electric guitars, flutes and fiddles makes the album sound like a greatest hits of Waterboys noises '84-'89, minus any boomy 80's production. The production by the way is excellent. I know this is now a gushing review. I'm knocking it out quickly as I have to go to work and see if I can make myself put Tempest on instead on the way, but if anybody who's ever liked a Waterboys track reads this, give it a go. If you spend a week with it, I think it'll will end up as something you'll treasure. It's sad that to sell something like this it's necessary to stick it on the internet, lumped in with so much that is cheap and temporary.


One Day I'm Going to Soar
One Day I'm Going to Soar
Price: £4.99

11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nearly perfect return., 7 Jun 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I remember walking across the concourse at Victoria station one morning in 1985. I seem to remember it was warm and sunny and I had just purchased a cassette copy of 'Don't Stand Me Down'. I was 15. It had been out a week or two and I hadn't even realised, much as I adored both its predecessors. I put the cassette in my walkman and, erm, walked and listened. I'd never known a feeling quite like it. For all the music I loved, for the absolutely obsessive number of times I had listened to SFTYSR and Too Rye Ay, nothing prepared me for an album quite like this. On the face of it, it sounded so straight, so traditional and yet it was like nothing else. That was 27 years ago and I'm very happy to say that, whilst no album since has affected me so strongly, 'One Day I'm Going To Soar' brings all those memories and reactions swimming back into view. It's not the same as DSMD and only time will tell how it ranks against it for enduring quality, but it is absolutely exhilerating and captivating. I'm not sure it's fair to ask more than that of anything.

it's certainly my album of the year so far. In fact, probably my favourite new listen since 2006. Just for the sake of balance, I'll dare to say that I would have liked the drums a little quieter on a few of the tracks - they can intrude a bit - and equally some of the other instruments sound like they could be a little more forthright in the mix as the impact of some guitar licks and horn stabs sounds slightly hamstrung by the volume knob. Also, I think a couple of tracks could have been a key or three higher as that voice always gets me most when it starts to reach up, even if it can't go as high as it used to.

All that said, these are small niggles. As well as being packed with splendid songs (I'm Always Going To Love You, Nowhere Is Home and She Got A Wiggle particularly standing out at for me the moment, but the overall quality across the album is so high it's hard to choose really), it is thankfully the most natural sounding of any album I've heard for some time. Not a hint of the heavy handed use of compression so common these days, the album is allowed for the most part to breathe as if played live in front of you. One Day I'm Going To Soar can sit comfortably beside the other 3 Dexys albums on my 'Favourite Records' shelf. Not many things are worth waiting 27 years for, but this actually was.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 23, 2012 1:36 AM BST


Kisses On The Bottom (Deluxe Edition Digipack)
Kisses On The Bottom (Deluxe Edition Digipack)
Price: £16.92

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Nice...., 18 Feb 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I blow hot and cold with Macca - I thought Memory Almost Full was his best for years, loved RAM, loved Tug Of War, very much enjoyed much of his stuff and wish he would play more of if at concerts instead of the Beatles ones we've all heard a million times in their latest form. However, for every Tug of War there is a Biker Like an Icon and any McCartney album has to be approached with caution in case one of those inexplicable cases of cackness has raised it's ugly head.

Very happy to say though, no such problems here. I can't imagine why there are 1 and 2 star reviews for this on here. The songs are all excellent choices, the two new McCartney compositions are up amongst his loveliest work, and the band are, as you would expect, simply splendid. The fairly faithful arrangements are beautiful and very touch of every instrument sounds exquisite. PM's voice may not quite have the guts for a Little Richard song that it used to, but it's maturity suits these songs well and again, I struggle to understand the criticisms levelled elsewhere.

The album is what it is - if you don't like this era of music, don't buy it, but as someone who very much does enjoy this era and wasn't too keen on Rod Stewart's foray into it, I find myself pleasantly surprised. I'm on my 5th play now and can only register firm approval. The one star off is simply because an album has to melt my head to get 5 stars, something which is beyond the remit of this type of record. Try John Grant for that.


Thomas The Tank Engine Bath Writers Bath Crayon art set
Thomas The Tank Engine Bath Writers Bath Crayon art set

2.0 out of 5 stars Erm - it's soap., 9 Nov 2011
= Durability:3.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:1.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Thomas The Tank Engine Bath Writers Bath Crayon art set
This is not bath paint - it's coloured soap. The picture, showing kids drawing with them is totally misleading. It's simply gel which makes the bath very soapy and causes sensistive skin to dry and itch. My daughter briefly loved squeezing out the different colours, but as there is literally nothing else you can do with these, the interest palled very quickly. Definitely wouldn't recommend.


Keith Richards: The Unauthorised Biography
Keith Richards: The Unauthorised Biography
by Victor Bockris
Edition: Paperback

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An irritating read, 7 Dec 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The subject matter is fascinating and, whilst I have no idea as to it's accuracy, the book is packed with information and hence worth reading. However, when compared with Keef's autobiography, in which he comes across as largely very genuine and only very occasionally and forgivably believing too much in his own myth, this book seems more exaggerated, often phrased rather so it reads as if serialised in The Sun or some other toilet paper. Furthermore, Bokris utilises the testimony of a handwriting analyst regarding Keith's character, when it has been shown in extensive testing that there is absolutely no scientific basis to the discipline. He also quotes, more than once, from Albert Goldman of all people, one of the most discredited biographers of all time. One can't but take the whole book with a large pinch of salt as a result. This all creates a constant irritation and Keith's own book is a far better experience.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 24, 2013 7:06 PM BST


Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Price: £9.34

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Silly extremes, 9 Nov 2010
A lot of angry revisionists on a mission have given this one star. I think they should be more objective and less 'knee-jerk'. Assuming that Kylie or U2 would achieve at least 1 star, that being the lowest you can get, and in a general acceptance of the fact that, even if you hate the hype and believe it to be over-rated, Sgt Pepper simply isn't just 'rubbish'. It does feature interesting, accomplished, valid and enjoyable moments, so to give it 1 star is a bit teenage and hysterical isn't it? Oh that's crap! Bah! etc.... To award it 3 is understandable, but to give it 1 is to make a mockery of the reviewing system.

Oh - with regard to the album itself, I think it's largely a joy - I love the often unpopular 'Within Without You', one of my favourite tracks, and the cute ditties with sound affects swirling round them, I love the thought of the Beatles taking the time to go to the extremes it would have taken to put this together when they were only working with 4 track machines. It is an achievement, although it has dated badly, unlike most of the Beatles' output. My only serious complaint would be this: why, given all the time spent on the album, did McCartney get Mike Leander to do that awful syrupy string arrangement on 'She's Leaving Home'? The story goes that he decided he couldn't wait a few days for George Martin (who was apparently busy on another project at the moment She's Leaving Home was ready), but if there's one song on the album that needed pulling back from the syrup lake, it was that one, and Leander tied it's hands behind it's back and pushed it in. It would have been sooo much better with a George Martin arrangement and shows emphatically why, great as they were, the Beatles would not have been quite the same without his presence.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 12, 2010 10:24 AM GMT


Trout Mask Replica
Trout Mask Replica
Offered by sellerfellauk
Price: £39.94

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't see the fuss..., 8 Nov 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Trout Mask Replica (Audio CD)
Firstly, with regard to all the people who say you need to listen to Trout Mask Replica ten times before you get it, you don't. It's very clear, musically, on first listen. I've listened to it many times in the last few weeks, but I remain puzzled by the regular claim from other reviewers that you can somehow be thrown or confused by music being dischordant or having strange time signatures. It's all just music. If you pick up an instrument, you can hit it in any way that you want, and given that everyone isn't the same, the Shakespeare / monkey / typewriter theory could equally apply to Trout Mask Replica or Singin' In The Rain. It doesn't matter that TMR fuses styles and all the other misleading old cods that everyone bangs on about before awarding 5 stars. It doesn't make it hard to listen to or follow - it's just music. The only question is whether or not it really works for you. For me, some of it does, some of it doesn't.
It has a free attitude towards form and arrangement. Its quite intriguing, sometimes funny, clever in places, steadfastly treads it's own path, although sadly sometimes to its detriment, it's certainly interesting and I would recommend it without hesitation.
However, it sounds clever because of it's approach, rather than it's composition. The writing is a feat of perseverance rather than inspiration and is not, in terms of core substance, anything particularly special.
I kept being reminded of the marvellous Viv Stanshall and wondered if he and Beefheart were mutually influenced, but whilst Trout Mask Replica was certainly an achievement, it now sounds very much of it's time and has dated no better than Sgt. Pepper.
Outside of it's undoubtable intentions, it's very good, but it's not great.

P.S. Have just read that CB and Viv Stanshall were indeed mates, so there you go. Personally I prefer Viv - maybe he appeals to my Englishness more....
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 2, 2014 10:33 PM BST


Page: 1 | 2