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Sony PlayStation 3 Console (60GB Premium Version)
Sony PlayStation 3 Console (60GB Premium Version)

20 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An unbiased review of PS3 (not from a Sony or Microsoft Fan Boy), 4 April 2007
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
The PlayStation 3 has finally hit the shelves in the UK and has had a successful launch. In the first weekend alone PS3 notched up an impressive 160,000 units sold; compare that 105,000 Wii and 70,000 Xbox 360 consoles on their relative launches. However, to put this into some context - there were a lot more PS3 units available and it didn't actually sell out at launch. Nintendo and Microsoft were only able to get a very limited number of stock on the shelves in time for launch and sold out almost immediately - so these figures possibly don't paint a full picture.

The nearest competitor to PS3 is undoubtedly Xbox 360, in terms of both marketing and technical specifications. Despite what some people may have told you (the 360 fan boys) PS3 is definitely more powerful than Xbox 360 - about twice as much so in fact, once all the number crunching is worked out. Plus PS3 games use the new Blu-Ray format with far bigger storage capacity (up to 50GB for a dual layer disc with a prototype 100GB quad layer disc in the works - compare that to DVD which has a maximum capacity of 8.5GB on a dual layer disc) whereas Xbox 360 still uses the tried and tested DVD-ROM format. The Xbox 360 can be upgraded to play HD-DVDs but so far this will only be for movies with no plans to release games on that format (thus dividing the Xbox 360 user-base, which would be unfair on a majority of Xbox 360 owners and not a good marketing ploy). To be honest, I can't see many games making full use of Blu-Ray's extra capacity (not for a few years anyway) and most games these days are multi-format releases so will not be developed with PS3 solely in mind. PS3 also has an upgradeable 60GB hard-drive as standard (compared to the current 20GB hard-drive on Xbox 360 Premium console, although I hear Microsoft are releasing an upgraded model with much larger hard-drive).

Comparing the online functionality of both machines they have a lot in common - the PlayStation Network has obviously taken a lot of inspiration from the excellent Xbox Live service (although I'm sure Sony would beg to differ, even though it's obvious). This is not a bad thing because Microsoft have turned online console gaming into a huge money-spinner and have made a stunning success of Xbox Live. So you have the marketplace like Xbox live but on PS3 it uses a genuine currency instead of a points system like Microsoft use. Expect downloadable content like added extras for existing games (at a charge), classic games (full versions) from previous platforms emulated ready for download, film trailers and game demos (most of which are free). Plus there will be clans and ways to chat/interact with other players as with Xbox Live. One slight downer is that Xbox live already has an established user-base which Sony cannot currently boast with PS3, although I'm sure this will soon change as more people purchase the console.

Enough of the comparisons - let's talk about how the PS3 performs on its own merits. It is a solid machine with great scope for functionality. The console can act as a full-blown media centre, storing images, music, video clips, game demos and of course those all-important game saves, with the menus being neat and user-friendly meaning it is easy to carry out a variety of tasks at will. The PS3 is fully compatible to play Blu-Ray movies and is actually the cheapest Blu-Ray device on the market, several hundred pounds cheaper than the expensive dedicated Blu-Ray players currently available. I've also heard that compared to a £1000 Samsung player, the PS3 actually out-performed it, which is very impressive. Now onto the launch games.....

Of the launch games, there are a handful of reasonable games but nothing which screams "must-have". Resistance: Fall Of Man seems like a solid enough shoot `em up but doesn't really break much new ground. It's set in an alternate version of WW2 and sees you squaring up to an alien adversary. Motor Storm is a dirt track racing game that sees you racing in a variety of vehicles performing wild stunts along the way - a fun premise that forms a surprisingly solid racing game.

Virtua Fighter 5 is a continuation of Sega's elite fighting series - I think the series has lost a lot of its edge but this is still one of the best fighting games money can buy. Sega have also released Virtua Tennis 3 which is a fun game and one of the best tennis games around but not a huge advance on the second game. Player likeness is good (as you would expect) and there are some crazy but fun mini-games. However, a major feature is missing from the PS3 version - the complete omission of an online mode. I cannot fathom why it has been removed for the PS3 version when it's present on Xbox 360. This detracts from an otherwise solid tennis game.

Other games released at launch include Genji: Days Of The Blade (which looks like a rubbish PS2 game let alone a PS3 title), Formula One Championship Edition (dull, dull, dull), Ridge Racer 7 (hardly original or ground-breaking but still fun for a while - it's more of an expansion on the Xbox 360 launch title, Ridge Racer 6, rather than a full-blown sequel) and Def Jam Icon (looks good but ultimately flawed).

Xbox 360 sales have been steady but far from awe-inspiring so there is definitely room for PS3 to take control of the market. Whether this will happen or not is another matter but Sony have an excellent track record and the console will sell on the PlayStation brand alone. It is by far the most expensive console on the market but that's what you get for such an advanced piece of technology. I think for what you get, the price isn't actually as steep as it first sounds - a full-spec Blu-Ray player (far cheaper than anything else on the market) and the most powerful console ever created, with the added bonus of the PlayStation brand (which, love it or hate it, has been a huge success for Sony). As a games console this is advanced as it gets and as an all-out entertainment centre this comes highly recommended.


16 Blocks [DVD] [2006]
16 Blocks [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Bruce Willis
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £2.47

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 3 April 2007
This review is from: 16 Blocks [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
I was eager to watch this film and hadn't read any Amazon reviews prior to seeing it so was very open-minded. One day I saw the DVD for only a few pounds in a local store so decided to grab myself a copy. With well-known director Richard Donner at the helm (who has plenty of past experience with the Lethal Weapon films) I was expecting a fast-paced well made action thriller. What I got was a strictly by-the-numbers affair that was very average at best.

The premise of 16 Blocks is appealing - Bruce Willis plays a burnt-out alocholic cop who has lost belief in most things and whose only enthusiasm seems to lie at the bottom of a bottle. He is asked to transport a petty criminal (Mos Def) from lock-up to court - he has 118 minutes to travel 16 blocks of the city. Sounds easy enough but he has more than just traffic to contend with. Mos Def is a character witness with damning information against six cops and if he testifies they all go to prison. So it's up to Willis to protect Mos Def from these corrupt police (who are out to have him killed) and get him to their destination on time.

I was really hoping for an enjoyable and tense thriller with plenty of action but all I got was extremely dull shoot-outs, no explosions whatsoever, and certainly no tension. A lot of the scenes simply revolved around Willis and Def wandering around in the streets looking a bit edgy (as you would if someone was out to kill you) but with not a lot happening besides. The various shoot-outs were extremely unimaginative and bordered on dull. The plot was not particularly enthralling after it's initial promise and the ending was simply appalling. I was hoping for a big action-packed ending but the film just fizzled out into nothing by the end and it was just plain dull.

The extras on the DVD are almost as non-existent as the ending - a trailer, commentary and "shocking" alternate ending (which is just as boring as the ending picked for the film).

I really wanted to like this film but having watched it once I don't think I will ever feel the need to watch it again. Possibly worth a rent if you've got a couple of hours spare but certainly not worth buying, no matter how cheap.

Actually, scrap that last bit - it's the best film ever. Now who wants to buy a copy of 16 Blocks from me?


The Wicker Man - Director's Cut [DVD]
The Wicker Man - Director's Cut [DVD]
Dvd ~ Nicolas Cage
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.97

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Wicker Man (2006), 3 April 2007
Do you want to know what happens in this film? If you don't then look away now.....

The film starts

Nothing happens

The end credits roll.

.......okay it's safe to look again now. Now that might sound like a joke but the truth is that's what this film is like - it is the biggest non-event of a film I have seen in a long time. As I watched it I kept thinking to myself, "okay something must happen in a minute". But I was forced to keep waiting until about the last 5 minutes when we have our big plot twist...... um...... hate to break it to the film-makers but it was about as shocking as an episode of Ground Force (sorry to all the Ground Force fans out there). The one thing that did surprise me about the ending, without wanting to spoil it for anyone, was how abruptly the end credits sprung up. But it wasn't a good thing because I was sat there thinking "Is that it?". And the answer was yes - I only rented this for a few pounds and yet I still felt short-changed by the film.


Deja Vu [DVD]
Deja Vu [DVD]
Dvd ~ Denzel Washington
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.97

8 of 24 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars DEJA VU - a film I wouldn't want to experience again, 29 Mar. 2007
This review is from: Deja Vu [DVD] (DVD)
I saw this at the cinema because I rate Denzel Washington as an actor but I don't know why he signed up to this film as it was very disappointing.

This is not a straight-faced action thriller type of film, as it has a strong sci-fi element to it. I found the premise to be too far-fetched as it strayed into sci-fi nonsense, which ruined the credibility of the whole film. Basically, a top secret technology has been invented that enables Denzel and FBI to see what happened 3 days ago, from any angle and on any person - put simply, the premise is a load of crap and typical of many disposable Hollywood films (the kind of film you watch but soon forget about, before moving onto the next like-minded film, of which there are many). It wouldn't be so bad if the film was based in the future but it's not. They use this technology to try and catch a mysterious bomber of a ferry that explodes at the start of the film.

Deja Vu is a bland film with little going for it. I didn't find the film to be tense or gripping, nor was the action particularly exciting. As I have repeatedly mentioned, the sci-fi premise was pure nonsense and ruined any sense of credibility this film could have offered. And being a Jerry Bruckheimer film, it's all done in his typical trademark over-the-top style that all his films are accustomed to. I simply didn't enjoy this film and cannot reccommend it.

And I just have to add a final comment about the reviewer who said the film was very gory and not for the squeamish - I would like to emphasise THIS IS NOT GORY IN THE SLIGHTEST, IT'S ONLY A 12.


300 (2 Disc Special Edition) [2007] [DVD]
300 (2 Disc Special Edition) [2007] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Gerard Butler
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £1.82

4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Impressive, 26 Mar. 2007
An impressive film with stunning visuals (filmed entirely in front of a green screen) and exciting battle scenes. The dialogue can be a bit two dimensional with little character development but the battle scenes really are extraordinary - some of the action is presented in slow motion, which may have been done in other films (like Matrix) but it is still very stylishly handled here.

There are elements of fantasy in 300 - creatures stemming purely from the imagination - but I feel this adds to the film. Please note this is a gory film with limbs and heads being sliced off almost at will so might not be for the most squeamish of viewers.

The best way to describe 300 is Troy meets Lord Of The Rings with a little bit of Sin City thrown in (it is based on a Frank Miller graphic novel after all). This is a much better film than Troy (which was disappointing) and one that I enjoyed very much - just a shame the battle scenes are interrupted by some unnecessary dialogue at times.

Overall - very good and definitely worth watching.


GoldenEye: Rogue Agent (Xbox)
GoldenEye: Rogue Agent (Xbox)

1.0 out of 5 stars The worst Bond game ever created - would give it no stars if I could!, 26 Mar. 2007
= Fun:1.0 out of 5 stars 
I realise this game is hardly new and most of the reviews on here are getting on for 2 years old but I felt compelled to write a review. This game is so shockingly poor it's beyond me how some people have posted postitive reviews for it.

The level design is awful - bland and void of any surprises or ingenuity.

The controls leave little to be desired - unresponsive and innacurate.

The graphics are poor - they lack the polish and detail found in superior games (Half-Life 2, Doom 3, Chronicles Of Riddick etc).

I'll admit some of the AI is reasonable and the enemies can present a challenge but they disappear as soon as they die. I don't even mean they drop to the floor and disappear gradually after a few seconds like in some games. They actually disappear right in front of you BEFORE they hit the floor - I find this a joke.

I regret to say I bought this game and I couldn't wait to get rid of it. And to the review that compares it to Halo - erm...... it's nothing like Halo - besides both being first person shooters the two games have absolutely nothing in common, and Rogue Agent certainly isn't even close to the kind of quality such games as Halo exude.

Please stay away from this dreadful game - it's the worst James Bond game I have ever played. I've nothing against EA (I own several of their games) but it's obvious they don't know how to make the Bond license work beyond a pretty presentation. This is a prime example - an atrocity of a game.

Harsh but true I'm afraid.


Motorola V3x Orange - 3G Pay As You Go Mobile Phone
Motorola V3x Orange - 3G Pay As You Go Mobile Phone

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars V3X Review, 23 Mar. 2007
Introduction

The Motorola V3X is a 3G video phone and a close relation of the Razr series. It maintains some of the style of previous Motorola Razr handsets but is much chunkier and heavier. I personally don't have a problem with the size of the phone because it is relatively compact for an early 3G phone and compares favourably to rivals. The layout of the phone is good - keys are a good size for my big fingers and keypad layout is neat, with the two cameras being suitably positioned.

There are two cameras for a simple reason - one on the outside for generic picture taking/ video filming and a camera underneath the flip cover, positioned just above the keypad, for video calls and self portrait photo/video opportunities. You can see what the camera sees using the main screen.

The main screen (on the underside of the flip cover) is of a nice large size, quite bright and very clear so no quibbles in that area. There is also a secondary screen on the outside, like many clam-shell flip phones past and present. Unlike my old Sharp GX20 it is not possible to pick a separate wallpaper for the secondary screen - the V3X defaults to the same wallpaper as used by the main screen and zooms in, cutting off most of the picture with no choice in repositioning the image (like I could with GX20). The secondary screen can be used as a picture viewer for when the camera is active and the phone is closed.

Digital Camera

The picture quality of the camera (which is 2MP) is adequate without being overly exceptional. However, like many other phones I have come across, it does struggle a bit at night. There isn't a flash as such - the phone contains a very bright light (that is blinding to the eye!) which can be turned on/off at will but it doesn't flash, it simply acts as a torch. When used for taking pictures at night I have found it has little effect (despite it being extremely bright). To get the best quality pictures at night it is best to change picture settings to "night mode". The camera has various picture taking modes for changeable lighting conditions, such as indoor (choice of home or office - although what difference it makes I cannot fathom), sunny, cloudy, night and automatic. The various modes have almost no effect on the overall picture quality - I only ever use "automatic" and occasionally "night" for taking pictures.

Video Camera

Video quality is also adequate with the camera being quite responsive - there are no real complaints in the quality of video this phone can produce although I'm sure there are newer phones which can record videos to a higher quality than V3X. When recording videos the image on the screen is reduced in sized - I was worried this scenario would be repeated when in playback but thankfully it is possible the watch videos full screen.

Digital Zoom

The camera offers digital zoom up to 8x for the digital camera (you have a choice of 1x (normal), 2x, 4x or 8x) and up to 2x for the video camera. I wouldn't recommend ever taking pictures over 4x zoom because the picture quality really suffers and it isn't possible to view photos taken with 8x zoom at full screen (they are tiny, almost thumbnail images). As a comparison, Nokia 6280 (a similar spec phone) has much better zoom (again up to 8x but with much clearer image at high zoom) and is much more flexible to use.

Memory Capacity

The V3X memory capacity is good - it has a basic integrated memory of 64MB out of the box but is fully upgradeable up to a potential of 2GB with the help of a Micro SD card. I recommend a 1GB card because the memory will last almost indefinitely on a card of that size, you probably won't need anything larger.

Battery Life

The battery life in V3X is poor - it is a common requirement to recharge the battery after just 24 hours, even when on standby for most of the day. If used a bit more frequently the phone can struggle to last even a couple of hours before the battery begins to die. To be fair, this is a common complaint with most 3G phones, although I suspect maybe newer models will boast a slightly stronger battery life than the first line of full spec 3G phones (of which Motorola V3X belongs). Fully charging the battery usually takes between 2 - 4 hours when the battery is very low or completely depleted.

MP3 Playback

The V3X has a secondary feature to offer MP3 playback (like almost every other half-decent phone on the market, so it's not really a major individual selling point anymore). The phone uses an integrated version of Windows Media Player to play music tracks and is fully compatible with MP3 and WAV formats. I've found some phones to be incompatible with WAV files but no such problem with V3X. It is possible to create play lists and sort music into categories (note: you can also set categories for stored pictures and videos to make searching for files supposedly quicker).

Speaker Quality

The speaker quality is adequate - it is relatively loud when at full volume and stored music is easily audible. However, I have noticed that at louder volumes the speaker can vibrate and the sound can become slightly muffled as a result. This problem usually only occurs with rock songs - quieter songs (like acoustic tracks), hip-hop and R 'n' B do not encounter the same problems when playing back at full volume. With it being a small speaker there is almost no bass - too much treble is only really a problem with rock songs. The speaker on V3X does its job and is certainly better than other phones I have come across. I think if most people want to use their phone to play music they will purchase some ear phones for it - please note that to use generic earphones (with standard 3.5mm jack connection) you will need an adaptor as the phone is only compatible with a USB connection. It's also worth noting that the phone includes a loud speaker option for during phone conversations.

Video Calls

Being a 3G phone, the V3X is able to make and receive video calls with other compatible handsets. However, with the technology still in its relative infancy in the mobile phone market, the picture quality during video calls is quite poor - often quite jerky with various glitches. I think at the moment video calling is more of a novelty feature than a necessity and I doubt many people will make much use of this feature after the initial novelty value wears off.

Bluetooth Connectivity

Like almost all modern phones, the Motorola V3X offers Bluetooth connectivity to other compatible handsets. However, it is a very strange set-up on V3X and I have found many posts on the internet from people complaining they can't get Bluetooth to work. It does work but in a very odd fashion, as I shall explain. For example, if you want to send a video clip via Bluetooth you select the video of choice and then click on the Options menu where there is an option called "Use Bluetooth". Sounds simple enough - click on that option and the phone searches for compatible devices..... Except it doesn't find anything (and it never will because Bluetooth doesn't work this way on V3X, which begs the question - why is that option even present if it refuses to work on ALL Motorola V3X handsets). Instead you need click on "Manage" then select either Copy or Move; then click Bluetooth as your chosen destination and the phone will search for devices and...... hey presto, it works! Very strange.....

The Problems

I have encountered several problems in the 8 months I have owned a V3X. Initial disappointments include the battery life and the relatively limited digital zoom. However, I have encountered more serious problems, most notably the handset freezing in the middle of composing a text message. More worryingly, I have found this to be a regular problem with my phone and it becomes incredibly frustrating. The screen freezes and nothing responds, leaving me with no option but to remove the battery temporarily. This could be a fault with just my handset but it has made me think I perhaps made the wrong choice in purchasing this phone. I don't think the phone is as hard-wearing as I initially thought when I opened the box for the first time. The hinge on the phone when opening and closing the handset is starting to show signs of wearing out after just 8 months. This could be due to over-use because my V3X does have to endure a lot of usage, although it is never abused - I think the phone should be holding up better than it currently is.

Another major annoyance is that my V3X has actually deleted files - pictures, videos and music - without any legitimate reason. It leaves a trace of the file on the phone which cannot ever be deleted and is extremely frustrating. This has happened over half a dozen times since acquiring the phone. Also, when taking pictures I have encountered a couple of annoying tendencies. The phone will sometimes save pictures without me instructing it to - it's easy to tell when this happens because immediately after taking a picture the image goes awry with colours rendering it redundant before a message comes up to say the picture has been saved. Another criticism is when taking a picture a snapshot of the image is displayed on the screen (as with any other camera phone) which lets you evaluate whether to keep or discard the said image. This is all very well, except occasionally when saving a picture the image will alter to a split second after what was initially shown on the screen which means the image shown isn't always a true representation of what will be saved.

The predictive text when composing a text message can be a bit of pain - it is sometimes unnecessarily awkward to use. The V3X is supposed to learn new words, which it does but to limited effect. It can remember words for a short while but soon forgets which can be both frustrating and time consuming with the constant need to manually input each letter individually on commonly used words.

There are also a number of criticisms when creating MMS messages. Firstly, the phone can become extremely slow when composing a message with more than one picture involved. Also, I have on occasion had the phone crash when trying to insert a picture - the screen turns off and the phone resets itself of its own accord. It is possible to record sound clips to insert into a message (but only a measly 20 seconds - compare that to Nokia 6280 letting you record whatever length you want, memory permitting), however if you want to save a sound clip to the phone you must first send the message. Why the V3X is unable to save a sound clip from a draft message is beyond me - even my old Sharp GX20 had that capability.

One final criticism is regarding the OS (Operating System) used by V3X - it is incredibly out-dated and is striking of a phone some 3 years previous this handset. It is almost identical to that of Motorola's preceding Razr phones and is starting to look rather dated when compared to other handsets on the market.

Overall

Not a bad phone - some good basic features but lacks the bite of more recent handsets. The main problem I have with this phone is that it is very unreliable. There are too many niggles with this phone to make me whole-heartedly recommend it. There are certainly worse phones on the market and the V3X will have most of the features you will need in a modern phone but it is beginning to look a bit tired and dated, particularly with the ageing OS it uses. Depending on the size of your budget, I would possibly advise looking elsewhere for a 3G mobile phone.


Metallica S&M Concert (2000)[DVD]
Metallica S&M Concert (2000)[DVD]
Dvd ~ Metallica (Featuring Michael Kamen Conducting The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra)
Price: £19.14

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars S&M - fantastic on DVD and CD..... So buy both!, 15 Mar. 2007
S&M is an incredible fusion of metal/rock ferocity blending seamlessly with orchestral elegance. Most of Metallica's biggest songs are present in the set list with Michael Kamen in charge of conducting the San Fransisco Symphony Orchestra (who you might know orchestrated the strings section for Nothing Else Matters way back when the Black Album came out). The orchestra really add an extra dimension to Metallica's songs and create a powerful experience. The quality of the DVD is also very good - 2 discs featuring the entire concert (with fantastic sound quality) and a moderately lengthy documentary. One interesting feature is the ability to choose to listen to either the band & orchestra (as normal) or just emphasise on the band/orchestra individually. Overall, an incredible concert on a very well produced DVD. Just make sure you buy the CD as well! Brilliant.


The All American Rejects
The All American Rejects
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £4.44

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Extremely disappointing, 9 Feb. 2007
I can vaguely remember Swing Swing when it was released as a single but I never really took to the song at the time. Fast forward a few years and I hear Dirty Little Secret from their excellent follow-up album, Move Along. Catchy song that made me buy the album, which I really enjoy. I decided I like Move Along so much I have to get my hands on their debut self-titled album. I read all the reviews posted on Amazon by other listeners, most of which are extremely favourable, and the omens look good.

Finally I get hold of the debut, and............

I am extremely disappointed with this album. The songs are bland, repetetive and lack the spark of their second release. Credit to the band for growing as artists and releasing a better follow-up album (which isn't always easy to do) but as a stand-alone album this is extremely poor. There's little variety and certainly no originality.... there's not really anything good about this album at all - it's full of music that's been done a million times before and a million times better by the likes of Blink 182 or Green Day.

If you want to buy an All-American rejects album, definitely get Move Along, which is everything this album isn't. I really like the second album a lot (and listen to it regularly) but I can't stress enough how bad this one is. My review might not please die-hard fans of the band but I do really like their stuff.... as long as it's not off this album!


A Weekend in the City [CD + DVD]
A Weekend in the City [CD + DVD]
Price: £10.93

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bloc Party return for A Weekend In The City, 6 Feb. 2007
Introduction:

A Weekend In The City is Bloc Party's long awaited and long overdue follow-up to Silent Alarm. It features 11 brand new tracks, including the current top 5 single "The Prayer". I have been looking forward to this album for quite some time but was put off slightly by the single, which I don't particularly like. Thankfully, the rest of the album is better than that one song suggests and includes a plethora of decent tracks.

Highlights include:

"Hunting For Witches" - a rather fitting title for the song because the main melody is somewhat haunting. This is perhaps the rockiest track on the album

"Uniform" - one of the longest tracks on the album at a little under 6 minutes. The opening 2 minutes are mellow but then suddenly the song increases in tempo courtesy of a bass line that's introduced and gradually develops into a glorious ending with decent guitar solo

"Kreuzberg" - a mellow track that is a delight to listen to and very emotive

"I Still Remember" - this will presumably be the second single because a music video has already been made, as shown on the bonus DVD (which I shall mention in a minute). I can fully understand why this would be released as a single because it's an infectious song and definitely one of the strongest on the album. It's a mid tempo track with some pop sensibilities about it

The album does feel quite morbid in places (especially the final track which is pretty depressing) but it's enthralling and insightful. It feels a lot more personal this time round and I get the impression Kele is singing about real-life experiences in most of the songs. The production values have improved from the previous album making it feel different to their debut. This is still recognisably Bloc Party in the style of music on offer but the edgy stripped-down sound that worked so well on the debut is less apparent on this release. That's not to say it makes this one weaker because I think on the whole this album is possibly more accessible.

There are currently two versions of A Weekend In The City on release. The standard no-frills version and also a limited 2 disc version with bonus DVD (which can be differentiated by the red case is comes in). The bonus DVD includes a behind the scenes look at the making of the album and two music videos.

On the bonus DVD:

Making of the album - a 20 minute behind the scenes feature, filmed during the recording process in summer 2006. It's not very insightful and hardly reveals anything about the making of the album, as the title would suggest. I've seen it once and don't think I will ever feel compelled to view it again. Most of the film features a montage of clips with their album tracks playing over the top but the camera angles and direction are so poor that it's hardly worth watching

Music videos - there are two music videos on offer, "The Prayer" and "I Still Remember". The latter is a very impressive video to a very impressive song and certainly worth watching. However, the video for "The Prayer", much like the song, is pretty forgettable

Summary:

Overall, A Weekend In The City is an impressive sophomore release for Bloc Party and I feel their fan base will continue to grow. Expect this album to enter the charts highly (early indications strongly suggest number 2) and deservedly so. How does it compare to the debut album? It's fairly similar in quality but I'm not sure if there are as many layers to explore in this album - I think there is less variation on the whole. So all in all, probably not quite as strong as their debut (but only marginally so), yet still a very good album and comes highly recommended to new and existing Bloc Party fans. I don't think too many people will be disappointed.


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