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Revolution Of The Mind
Revolution Of The Mind

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed Excellence, 9 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Revolution Of The Mind (Audio CD)
Revolution Of The Mind features a selection of live performances recorded at shows spanning a 3 day period at the Apollo Theater in New York during July 1971, presented on the album as a single concert.

A re-ordering of the setlist is a little obvious at the start with Brown's voice sounding hoarse and worn out for the opening track, It's A New Day, before switching to fresh-throated full power with the second track, Bewildered. That aside, the rest of the CD flows so well that it's not obvious it's a patchwork selection. It sounds like one performance, with the band and James Brown on fire throughout.

The mastering of the disc is good. This title has never been remastered since its original CD release so has managed to avoid any "loudness war" issues. You can crank up the volume with pleasure.

To digress slightly, 1971 was clearly a peak for Brown as a live performer so a comparison with the Love Power Peace CD recorded the same year is unavoidable. It really is a toss-up as to which release is superior. Revolution Of The Mind has more of a high-octane tracklist, whereas Love Power Peace is permeated with ballads. Both shows are on fire when the Funk hits but Love Power Peace has the benefit of a decent mix giving a full punch to all the instruments, whereas Revolution Of The MInd serves more to showcase Brown's vocals at the expense of the band. I would argue that given a remix to equal the sound of Love Power Peace, Revolution Of The Mind would be THE killer James Brown live CD.

So to sum up, I'll give Revolution Of The Mind a solid 4 star rating, held back from a 5 only by the mix.

AC/DC: Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be
AC/DC: Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be
by Mick Wall
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.41

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be, 20 Dec. 2014
It concerns me a little that the author, Mick Wall, seems to think the cover of the live album If You Want Blood shows Angus Young being "decapitated".

It concerns me a little less that Wall believes The Isle of Man (off the coast of Ireland) and the island of Jersey (off the coast of France) are "neighbouring" islands.

And not of concern but more of frustration is how Wall mentions the record company insisted the Powerage album be improved by the addition of a more obviously commercial track (leading to the inclusion of Rock and Roll Damnation), yet he appears completely oblivious to the much bigger story of the record company forcing the original mix of the album to be hastily withdrawn from the stores so it could instead be sweetened up with a remix.

Those matters aside, this is a very readable and informative book. Wall has taken the time to gain fresh insight from old associates of the band, so it's not simply a retread of the same old story you may have read elsewhere before.

The downside for some readers will be the manner in which the book rockets through the post-Back In Black era. I don't have the book next to me right now so can't be exact, but the first 320 pages or so cover the Bon Scott period, and the remaining 75 or so cover everything after Back in Black up to Stiff Upper Lip.

One thing I would take issue with are the claims made by some reviewers that Wall appears to hold a personal grudge against Malcolm Young. Young certainly comes across in the book as having little tolerance or respect for America's record company men-in-suits, but given the disinterest and disdain shown during the band's ascent by a number of company-men, Malcolm's attitude is perfectly understandable.

Even when later in the book Malcolm is reported as treating band or crew members badly, that needs to be viewed within the context of him suffering an alcohol problem so serious that it ultimately saw him leave the band for a period. The drinking is certainly no excuse for actions, but it probably does to a large extent explain them. If people are coming away from this book feeling Wall is simply for personal reasons targeting Malcolm Young, I'd suggest they go back and read it again.

To sum up, Hell Ain't Bad Place To Be is a good place to start your AC/DC book collection. It's not too heavy, not light, and it's good to see new opinions from old band associates. The book may not be not particular in-depth after the Back In Black period, but that can be forgiven because the most interesting part of the AC/DC story is the rise to that peak anyway.

4 Stars.

The Very Best Strange Brew
The Very Best Strange Brew
Offered by westworld-
Price: £10.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strange Brew - The Very Best Of Cream, 5 Dec. 2014
The original Cream "best of" on CD, Strange Brew still provides an excellent overview of the band, perfect for the beginner. If you've only ever heard the well known hits such as Sunshine Of Your Love or White Room you'll find a lot more of the same here, the sole exception being the acoustic Anyone For Tennis.

Although more recently compiled alternatives such as The Very Best Of Cream or Gold have more expansive tracklistings, their wider focus serves also to showcase the band's quieter or quirkier moments, thus they lack the cohesive Rock impact of this collection, and as a consequence at times sound more obviously dated.

From a mastering perspective, there's no nasty compression or digital fiddling to be found here. This is a CD which each time I play I feel the urge to crank up louder and louder, which is always a good sign. I'd guess it was a straight transfer from the tapes used for the original LP release.

So. To sum up;

Strange Brew is the perfect Cream compilation. It's that simple.

5 stars.

Chuck Berry's Golden Hits
Chuck Berry's Golden Hits
Price: £5.67

2.0 out of 5 stars Not The Original Hit Recordings, 3 Dec. 2014
As other reviewers have forewarned, be aware these are not Chuck Berry's original hit recordings. Even the packaging fails to inform the potential buyer that these are re-recordings made by Berry at the tail-end of the 1960s.

This album could have been a good exercise in Berry revisiting his classic hits and presenting them with a fresher and alternative colouring, but ultimately the vibe sits uncomfortably somewhere between a softened version of Berry's own brand of Rock & Roll and a stripped down and less professional variation of Elvis Presley's Vegas cabaret sound.

The tunes are functional enough. The stereo production leaves them polished in comparison to the originals, but the guitar is very thin and Berry's vocals are sometimes swathed in reverb. There are a number of cringe-inducing moments where the bass or electric piano lose direction and go out of tune - as does Berry himself occasionally.

The saving grace is the final track, Club Nitty Gritty (newly written at the time, and the album's only Mono recording). Returning to the 70's Elvis comparison, this is the best song Elvis never recorded during his Vegas period. With a funky pulsating R&B rhythm punctuated by a slammed double-chord hit, it's tailor-made for jump-suited air-punching karate-posed moves....and as such sounds out of place on this album of Rock & Roll re-treads.

So how would I rate Golden Hits?

For a Chuck Berry beginner it's certainly one to avoid. Stay away. Instead buy one of the multitude of compilations which feature the original recordings of his hits.

I can only see this album being of interest to Chuck Berry completists. These reinterpretations of his classic material just don't manage to stand up particularly well on their own merits, the irony being that if Berry had taken them deeper into the realms of a "Vegas" sound they may instead today have made for a more worthwhile and rewarding listening experience.

This is Chuck-lite. Cabaret Berry for the small hours. Background music when you can't sleep but just want to lie there trying.

It's OK for what it is.

Two stars

TV Special 1972
TV Special 1972

4.0 out of 5 stars High Voltage Rock & Roll, 23 Nov. 2014
This review is from: TV Special 1972 (Audio CD)
This may be a budget release in price and appearance, but certainly not in quality.

It's a live show, professionally recorded for a TV special by the BBC in 1972. Occasional crackles and pops suggest the CD to be sourced from the old vinyl bootleg "Six Two Five", and it's mono, but don't let that put you off. It sounds fantastic.

Musically the performance is interesting for showcasing Berry with a harder edge to his guitar work than was to be found on the original studio recordings. His playing is closer to something Keith Richards may have done when covering Berry tunes with the Stones during the late 60's. It's a real shame Berry didn't build upon this style/sound to remain more relevant within the contemporary Rock world.

The performance itself is top-notch. The band power along with just a couple of brief slower moments before amping things back to full throttle. It's the best live Chuck Berry CD I've ever come across, a damned fine slice of Rock & Roll which grooves along with a real passion and soul....and a more muscular sound than one may expect.

Live from the Atlantic Studios
Live from the Atlantic Studios

3.0 out of 5 stars A Quick One With AC/DC, 18 Nov. 2014
This album offers exactly what it says on the label; AC/DC recorded live at the studios of Atlantic Records. This 1977 session was professionally recorded in New York in front of a small invited audience, the show subsequently being pressed to vinyl as a strictly limited edition for promotional purposes only.

It was not officially released to the public until 1997 as part of the "Bonfire" CD box set. Until that point it had only been available on bootleg, with all of the unofficial LP's and CD's being sourced either from the original 1977 promotional LP pressing or copies thereof.

If you have a serious interest in the fidelty of this album it's important to note how the first official release saw a big change in sonic presentation. In 1997 the band went back to the original multi-tracks and completely remixed the performance, creating a "modern" sounding mastering with the guitars pushed right up in the mix and a whole load of compression unleashed on the volume. In comparison to the original 1977 mix the end result is VERY loud with severely crushed dynamics.

That issue aside, the performance is classic AC/DC. Taking place between the release of Let There Be Rock and the recording of Powerage it caught the band on top form.

To digress briefly, Live From The Atlantic Studios also offers a more accurate representation of how the band sounded on stage during this period than their first official live release, If You Want Blood, recorded a mere 5 months later. The latter was taken from more than one show and suffered various after-the-fact tampering, including the use of a studio backing track for one song (I won't ruin it for you by saying which!), whereas this album is simply a straightfoward recording of exactly what AC/DC performed for 45 minutes in a New York studio in December 1977.

To sum up, Live From The Atlantic Studios is an essential slice of Bon Scott era AC/DC. If you're a fan of those early albums, you need this.

The only caveat would be in which version you choose. Personally I would have to recommend seeking out an unofficial release which uses the original 1977 mix, the compression on the 1997 remix kills the album for me. However, if you're not bothered by loud masterings the latter will probably do just fine.

This is a 5 star album, no question, but because I'm grading the offical release I have to drop my rating somewhat as a direct consequence of the mastering.

3 stars

Tracklist; Live Wire, Problem Child, High Voltage, Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be, Dog Eat Dog, The Jack, Whole Lotta Rosie, Rocker.

The Who Collection
The Who Collection
Offered by rbmbooks
Price: £28.52

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Who Collection - Volume One, 11 Nov. 2014
This review is from: The Who Collection (Audio CD)
The Who Collection was released in 1985 as a double-CD set and as two single CDs. This review is for "Volume One" of the latter (Polydor/Impression Records IMCD 4/1).

Spanning the years 1965 to 1975, this compilation features 16 of The Who's UK singles plus Boris The Spider and Love Reign O'er Me.

Unique to this CD, the full length version of Won't Get Fooled Again is a remix featuring a prominent acoustic rhythm guitar part.

The early singles, originally recorded in mono (I Can't Explain, Anyway Anyhow Anywhere, My Generation), are presented with a very slight fake stereo effect. So slight that it can't really be noticed unless you compare it directly against a mono mastering. Often fake stereo destroys the integrity of the sound quite obviously, and usually it's something I hate, but here the effect really is marginal and probably wouldn't be of bother to anyone but a hardcore audiophile. Also, I've read these few tracks are the same mastering as used on the 1996 compilation My Generation: The Very Best of the Who, and having compared the two I'd agree. The difference here is a lack of digital compression.

Speaking of mastering, it's worth mentioning that unfortunately Happy Jack on this compilation is missing its first couple of notes. On the positive side, the later singles (Let's See Action, Join Together, Relay etc.) sound better than I've heard anywhere else on CD.

So, as Who compilations go this is a decent collection of material from the first decade of the band's career. It's a real shame the final couple of tracks let the flow down with a combination of the maudlin and the throwaway. If only the album had instead concluded with the double-whammy of Who Are You and Long Live Rock (the openers from "Volume Two"), it would certainly have been one of the stronger of The Who's multitude of compilations.


I I Can't Explain
2 Anyway Anyhow Anywhere
3 My Generation
4 Substitute
5 A Legal Matter
6 The Kids Are Alright
7 I'm A Boy
8 Happy Jack
9 Boris The Spider
10 Pictures Of Lily
11 I Can See For Miles
12 Won't Get Fooled Again
13 The Seeker
14 Let's See Action
15 Join Together
16 Relay
17 Love Reign O'er Me
18 Squeeze Box

Rock 'N' Roll
Rock 'N' Roll
Price: £14.26

3.0 out of 5 stars Rock And Roll, 9 Oct. 2014
This review is from: Rock 'N' Roll (Audio CD)
This review is for the CD release of Rock 'N' Roll on Metal-Is (Cat. No. 06076 85217-2).

The first thing worthy of mention with this disc is the mastering. Very surprisingly for a modern Motorhead CD remaster this release hasn't been too dynamically squashed or crushed. It has a Dynamic Range Database rating of 10, placing it firmly in the "transition" category. Usually Motorhead CD remasters after the mid-1990's fall somewhere between 6 and 8 on the Dynamic Range Database, in the "Bad" category.

As for the album itself, it's an OK selection of songs let down by its production. With Motorhead and Guy Bidmead at the helm I get the impression it suffered the same fate as that team's No Sleep at All, an album which Lemmy has since admitted was screwed up in the mix due to the Bidmead being "too nice" and constantly bending to the band's demands. When one band member insists on being louder in the mix than the next, who in turn insists on being louder than the other, with another member insisting on being louder than the pair of them, the law of diminishing returns comes into play and the balance of the sound as a whole suffers.

The mix of the album is raw but in a not-very-good way. At times it's more like a test mix. There are portions where due to the guitars being cranked into an almost ill-defined sludge of noise its not immediately apparent that two guitarists are playing.The bass verges on being inaudible for the most of the album, whilst Lemmy's vocals tend to protrude foward of everything else. It's not a mix which shows the band as a unit in the best light.

As regards the music, this remaster is kicked up a serious notch by the inclusion of two singles B-side bonus tracks, Cradle To The Grave (centering on a supercharged recycling of a Stooges riff), and Just 'Cos You Got The Power (a bluesy guitar-solo tour de force). Both of these tracks are far superior to some of the material which made the original album tracklist.

Rock and Roll is neither Motorhead's best or worst material, but I would say it's an album for established fans rather than beginners. So, from me 3/5.

John Lee Hooker
John Lee Hooker
Offered by mrtopseller
Price: £3.00

1.0 out of 5 stars Better elsewhere., 7 Sept. 2014
This review is from: John Lee Hooker (Audio CD)
This is a compilation of Hooker's early work, just the man and his guitar, largely recorded under various false names for contractual reasons. The material is some of Hooker's most menacing, visceral and raw.

These tracks have appeared on a wide variety of budget-priced releases, and due to the lack of any high-quality source existing always tend to be a bit on the rough side when it comes to fidelity. However, this release is one of the worst I've come across in that respect by virtue of suffering some kind of extra digital processing or noise reduction treatment, presumably in an attempt to "clean up" the sound. The end result is somewhat counter-productive, leaving the material sounding sometimes muffled or "warbly" in comparison to the same on other CDs.

Unless someone uncovers a stack of mint condition 78's of this material you'll never hear it in pristine quality, but you can find other equally low-priced CD releases which present it in a more untampered and superior state than that found here.

Sho Is Funky Down Here [Vinilo] [VINYL]
Sho Is Funky Down Here [Vinilo] [VINYL]

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars James Brown Attempts To Fly His Freak Flag, 22 May 2014
Despite the claim on this instrumental album's rear sleeve of it featuring "the big band sound" of James Brown with a "Jazz influence" dominant against "funky Afro rhythm patterns", Sho Is Funky Down Here was essentially an attempt by Brown to dabble in Acid-Rock.

Although consisting entirely of newly composed material, it's vaguely similar in style to the Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters releases from a couple of years previously, where Cadet Records convinced the ageing Bluesmen to update their older songs to attract the younger Psychedelic crowd. The result here isn't anywhere near as radical, but with a fuzzed-up and wah-wah'd guitar taking centre-stage throughout, the fan used to James Brown's soulful or horn-driven workouts may well consider it to be freaky to the extreme.

All of the tracks are co-credited to "James Brown-David Matthews". With his previous instrumental productions for The J.B.'s, James Browns' spirit was always tangible throughout, even when his audible input was zero. Here that spirit is conspicious by its absence, leaving one with the feeling that Brown may have simply laid down the basic framework and left the acid-psych coating to Matthews.

Sho Is Funky Down Here is an interesting side-step by Brown, but at its core comes across as a somewhat perfunctory foray into the Psychedelic-Rock genre. I doubt amongst fans of the man it'd be of serious interest to any but the hardcore. It'll more likely be attractive to fans of the aforementioned Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters "freak out" albums.....but even as a "freak out" album judged soley upon those merits, it's a relatively one-dimensional offering.

Consider it as James-Brown-Does-Psychedelic-Elevator-Muzac and you probably won't be disappointed.

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