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

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 results here aren't anywhere near as radical, but with a fuzzed-up and wah-wah'd guitar taking centre-stage throughout they may as well be for the average fan of James Brown band's usual horn-driven workouts.

All of the tracks are co-credited to James Brown-David Matthews. With Brown's previous instrumental productions for The J.B.'s the former's spirit was always tangible throughout, despite his audible input being almost 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 freaky 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.


James Brown's Funky People
James Brown's Funky People
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £6.81

5.0 out of 5 stars James Brown's Funky People, 21 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Back in the late 1980s when the "Funky People" series was released I didn't take much notice. I was a casual fan of James Brown and assumed a compilation featuring just his sidemen, backing musicians and label associates could only at best be a third-rate listening experience when compared to the work of the man himself.

More than two decades have passed since I made that assumption, and although I'm now much more well-versed in James Brown I've only just got around to checking out the "Funky People" series.

And how wrong my thoughts were all of those years ago.

This first volume of "James Brown's Funky People" is pretty much essential listening for any fan of Browns' work from the early 1970's. The instrumental recordings by The J.B.'s are cut from exactly the same cloth as Hot Pants or Blues and Pants. The Fred Wesley and The J.B.'s material is a heavier type of largely instrumental Funk which smoulders within the groove, giving off a darker Funky President type vibe. The few proper songs on the album feature female vocalist Lyn Collins, who exhibits an amazingly raw style of hollering the Funk; Had these tracks been recorded with James Brown on vocals, they are that much in keeping with his better work from the period that they would no doubt today be considered classics within his catalogue.

Although from a performance perspective James Brown is not directly evident upon this compilation (the odd scream or vocalisation aside), his presence is most certainly to be felt throughout the entirety of proceedings.

If you're a fan of the "Make It Funky" compilation or the "Hot Pants" album you'll probably equally enjoy this first edition of the "Funky People" collection. It's very much of the same sound, quality and style as those releases. You'd be a fool to yourself to overlook it......as I was for 20-something years!

As for the remaining two volumes of the series, they're distinctly more hit-and-miss affairs. Although featuring some stellar moments, they lack the consistancy of this volume, in comparison tending to sound like cobbled-together collections of material by people associated with Brown.

So 5 stars for the first CD in the "Funky People" collection, but 3 stars for Parts 2 and 3.


Super Bad
Super Bad

2.0 out of 5 stars Super Bad? Not Quite, 12 May 2014
This review is from: Super Bad (Audio CD)
Originally released in 1971, Super Bad is another "live" album by James Brown compiled in the style of the first half of the previous year's Sex Machine. In other words, it's a collection of studio tracks edited together with applause to give the impression of it being a live show.

It's an alright album for what it is, but it's worth bearing in mind that some of the material is easily available elsewhere in better quality - for example, the title track has added reverb, presumably with the intention of making it sound more live, but a clean version of exactly the same recording can be found on the more modern Funk Power compilation.

The CD is currently only available as an expensive Japanese release, so I'd say its probably only of interest to James Brown obsessives or completists.

I'll give Super Bad two stars. The music is good enough, it's just a shame it was edited into being a fake live performance.

Tracklist;

Super Bad
Let It Be Me
Sometime
A Man Has To Go back To The Crossroads
Giving Out Of Juice
By The Time I Get Back To Phoenix


Thunder Express
Thunder Express

3.0 out of 5 stars Thunder Express, 8 May 2014
This review is from: Thunder Express (Audio CD)
Recent years have seen a pile of semi-official MC5 product unleashed, most of which has generally been on the hit-or-miss side when it comes to quality of audio. Thunder Express is without doubt the best of these releases in terms of fidelity, but sadly its not without its flaws.

The album consists of two sections, the first a live concert recording from 1972 and the second a small collection of early singles A and B sides.

The big negative with the live concert is what seems to be tape damage, of varying intensity, across the first three tracks. The opening couple of tracks are so badly effected they almost sound like open-air audience recordings (alebit excellent ones) suffering the Doppler-effect of the wind. Track three sees a marked decrease in this "swooshing", but it's not until track four, the title track, that the sound quality notably leaps up a notch and the swooshing, muffling and throbbing anomalies prevalent across the previous tracks largely disappear. Once you reach the next track, Rama Lama Fa Fa Fa, the sound quality is near enough in the same league as a regular soundboard recording .....by which time, unfortunately, you're only one song away from the end of the performance.

As for the performance, it's ok, but this was the MC5 at the end of the road. It's a good enough show but lacks the band's usual instrumental intensity. In MC5 terms it's a pedestrian gig. If you doubt that, compare it with the live Beat Club performance from the same year (sadly only available on DVD at present), which completely kills this show in terms of energy and improvisation. Kick Out The Jams alone from that session wipes the floor with the entirety of this gig. If only somebody would licence that performance for CD release.

The latter half of Thunder Express consists of 4 studio recordings from 1966 -1968, showcasing the MC5's rather visceral "pre fame" garage band sound. A few crackles and pops here and there betray vinyl origins, and the third of these tracks, the single version of Looking At You, is quite badly distorted - although its such a powerful recording (making the "Back In The USA" version sound tame in comparison) the overlying fuzz almost sounds deliberate, as if the music is literally fizzing out of the grooves. The final track, Borderline, has the same distortion but coupled with a hugely overwhelming bass.

So to sum up, I'd say Thunder Express is more of interest to the already converted than those seeking enlightenment.

With better sound quality I probably would have rated the live half of this album with 4 stars and the studio half with 5. As things stand, I can only give it a 3.


Live At Brixton '87
Live At Brixton '87
Price: £4.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Live At Brixton '87, 20 April 2014
This review is from: Live At Brixton '87 (Audio CD)
I'm extremely surprised that every other review for this album so far claims it has "good" sound. To my ears the quality in that department is much closer to a bootleg than what one would normally expect from an official release.

The fidelity isn't even as good as No Sleep At All, which was recorded at roughly the same time with near enough the same tracklist, and which despite having a questionable mix does at least sound professionally recorded.

In comparison this CD at times almost sounds like an audience recording, very sludgy and ill-defined instrumentation with distant and echoey drums.

Were I forced to recommend in order of preference all of Motorhead's official live output, Live At Brixton '87 would definitely be bottom of the pile due to the sound quality alone.

I would advise anyone considering buying this album to instead give No Sleep At All a try. Aside from that, I'd say this is an album for serious collectors or hardcore fans only.


Peel Sessions
Peel Sessions
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £13.95

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Neat Neat Neat....Neat!, 20 April 2014
This review is from: Peel Sessions (Audio CD)
If you're a fan of "Damned Damned Damned" you'll probably enjoy this CD equally as much, or possibly more.

Released in 1987 (not 1991 as the Amazon entry incorrectly claims) it features two sessions recorded live-in-the-studio for the BBC's John Peel Show during December 1976 and May 1977, and throughout manages to maintain (and sometimes supersede) the energy level of the debut album.

The first half of the disc features material from "Damned Damned Damned", the second features tracks which would appear on the much maligned follow-up, "Music For Pleasure". Those two albums each have their own very distinctive sound and style, yet here all the songs sit perfectly well together. It's a very consistent listening experience throughout, the end result coming across almost as an alternative version of the debut album.

Speaking as a fan primarily of The Damned's Punk period I'd say this release is far superior to any other CD variant of the band's BBC recordings. The regular "Peel Sessions" CD has less than half the tracks, whilst the "Sessions Of The Damned" CD covers such a wide timespan the impact of the Punk energy is diluted.

With this CD you get nothing but 100% undiluted Punk from start to finish, easing off only with the slower tempo of the final track.....a pit-stop which after the white-knuckle ride of the previous eight tracks you may just need.

As for the mastering, being from 1987 this CD managed to completely avoid any damage from "the loudness wars", so is probably a pretty straight representation of how the actual BBC tapes sound. It's certainly a good one to crank up loud without worrying about your eardrums being scoured or scraped.

One final quick point which may be of interest to some technically-minded readers; the recordings here are in true stereo, but an old cassette I've heard of the actual radio broadcasts from the 1970s has them in mono. I don't know whether that is down to the cassette having been mixed or recorded to mono, or the BBC themselves using stereo fold-downs for broadcast - I can't imagine they would have gone to the effort of creating seperate mixes for mono and stereo for a short one-off session recording.

To conclude, I'll rate this album four stars. It is a relatively short compilation but it's a real blast from start to finish, with the band firing on all cylinders and performing with a tightly focused ferocity. Unfortunately one star has to be removed due to the artwork, which gives the utterly misleading appearance of this release being a low quality bootleg.

Tracklist;

Stab Your Back
Neat Neat Neat
New Rose
So Messed Up
I Fall
Sick Of Being Sick
Stretcher Case
Fan Club
Feel The Pain


The Best of Motörhead
The Best of Motörhead

3.0 out of 5 stars The Best Of, 19 April 2014
This review is from: The Best of Motörhead (Audio CD)
Taking its studio content from just two albums this CD is somewhat limited for a "best of" compilation, although the tracklisting isn't too bad.

The first half of the CD features a selection of material from the Orgasmatron and Rock and Roll albums. The second half is live, featuring tracks from The Birthday Party and No Sleep At All.

Fundamentally this compilation fails on two levels;

1) For casual listeners, at whom the "best of" is usually aimed, it has none of the band's hits in their studio versions. They only appear here as live recordings, which can often be a let down for the uninitiated who buy compilations expecting to hear the version common to TV or the radio etc.

2) Although the track selection is excellent as a "best of" for fans of Motorhead's 1986 - 1988 line-up, those people will probably already own the albums from which this material is taken. The only attraction will be the inclusion of two Rock and Roll era b-sides, but even those have since appeared as bonus tracks on the various Rock and Roll remasters.

So I'll rate this "Best Of" with 3 stars. It has a good track selection, but just to limited in scope.


Aftershock (Jewel Case)
Aftershock (Jewel Case)
Price: £6.85

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Aftershock, 18 April 2014
This review is from: Aftershock (Jewel Case) (Audio CD)
In one sentence; Aftershock is pretty much The World Is Yours Part 2.

It has the same Producer, the same style of mastering and on the whole the same style of songwriting. If you enjoyed The World Is Yours you won't find much, if anything, unappealing about Aftershock.

Aftershock's slight deviation from that template comes in the form of two very mellow Blues tracks, like nothing I can think of Motorhead doing before. These make for welcome diversions amid the wall-of-sound bluster of the rest of the album.

With the latter in mind its safe to say Aftershock doesn't stray far from the path of Motorhead's previous few releases. I would though certainly place it out of all of their albums from the past decade into the top two, but also think that with future albums the band really need to make an effort to escape the now somewhat generic sound of the comfort zone into which they've settled in recent years.

So, I'll give Aftershock 3 stars. It is a distinct step forward from The World Is Yours, Motorizer and Kiss Of Death, but not quite enough of a step forward to reach a 4 star rating.


Boogie Man: The Adventures of John Lee Hooker in the American Twentieth Century
Boogie Man: The Adventures of John Lee Hooker in the American Twentieth Century
by Charles Shaar Murray
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Boogie Man, 7 April 2014
Charles Sharr Murray's book on Jimi Hendrix, Crosstown Traffic, was a classic. Informative and enlightening on so many levels, even a longterm Hendrix fan would be hard-pressed not to view the music of Hendrix in a new light after reading it. The book also served as a gateway to the discovery of the music which influenced Hendrix, and the music of those whom Hendrix in turn influenced. It was a goldmine of a book for those who enjoy the explorational aspect of music.

With which in mind, I had high hopes for Boogie Man....but you know whenever someone uses the phrase "high hopes" within that context it's usually going to lead to an explanation of feeling let down.

Which unfortunately is the case here.

Put simply, I'm currently halfway through Boogie Man, and having come to it with a knowledge of Hooker gleaned almost entirely from CD sleevenotes or magazine articles, it hasn't left me feeling much the wiser. I certainly don't feel any closer to understanding the man himself. Most disappointingly, I don't feel particularly inspired to explore the music of Hooker any further than I already have, or to explore the music of other artistes who influenced or where influenced by the man.

Exactly what made the Hendrix book so inspiring, is exactly what is missing here.

To sum up; Boogie Man is a pleasant enough read if you don't come to it expecting to be given a deep inside glimpse of the man and his music.

Three stars.


The Best of the Damned
The Best of the Damned

3.0 out of 5 stars The Sleeve Remains The Same, 7 April 2014
This review is from: The Best of the Damned (Audio CD)
To be blunt, on CD this album is a mess. There is no digital release to mirror the perfectly succinct tracklist of the original vinyl LP of this title, which was a top-class mix of essential early-period Damned singles.

The American CD (on Roadrunner and Emergo) replaced the blistering single version of New Rose with a far inferior live take. It removed Neat Neat Neat, another essential Damned single, and added a cover of Jefferson Airplane's White Rabbit.

Yet even in that bastardised condition the US CD remained much closer to the original album than the UK CD. Much closer.

The UK CD (on Ace) cranked the desecration into overdrive. It removed Jet Boy Jet Girl (which some may consider no more than a curio anyway) and committed the unforgiveable sin of swapping the full length version of Smash It Up for the edited version, cutting the song in half.

The original tracklist was further destroyed by spattering an extra 10 tracks across the album. Some people may think "bigger is better", but the original LP worked so incredibly well because despite slight variations in style everything as a whole flowed very naturally. The track progression seemed perfectly logical. The final track aside, it was all fairly uptempo Punky stuff - in spirit if not literal style.

The newly added 10 tracks completely destroyed and diluted that flow. The styles and tempos leap all over the place, pushing this collection into the ranks of the many other Damned compilations which seem to want to be something for everyone whilst being nothing in particular for anybody specific.

I know the latter is a consequence of the band hopping from record company to record company with numerous line-up changes along the way, but the original tracklist managed to avoid that inconsistency. Therin lies the salient point.

The liner notes claim the extra tracks were added in order to convert the album into a singles collection of sorts. But you know what? That could have been achieved under a title of its own without screwing up the original compilation.

So, to conclude; The original vinyl release of this album was a 5 star experience. An almost perfect collection of tracks that flowed far better than any other Damned compilation - and arguably still does.

As for the CD, I can only give it a 3 star rating due to that perfection having been so extensively ravaged.

Still. At least the sleeve remains the same......

The various tracklists;

UK LP; New Rose, Neat Neat Neat, Love Song, I Just Can't Be Happy Today, Jet Boy Jet Girl, Hit Or Miss, There Ain't No Sanity Clause, Smash It Up (Parts 1&2), Plan 9 Channel 7, Rabid (Over You), Wait For The Blackout, The History Of The World.

US CD; New Rose (live), Love Song, Jet Boy Jet Girl, I Just Can't Be Happy Today, There Ain't No Sanity Clause, Hit Or Miss, White Rabbit, Smash It Up (Parts 1&2), Plan 9 Channel 7, Rabid (Over You), Wait For The Blackout, The History Of The World.

UK CD; New Rose, Neat Neat Neat, Don't Cry Wolf, Love Song, Smash It Up, I Just Can't Be Happy Today, White Rabbit, The History Of The World, Wait For The Blackout, Lively Arts, Looking At You (live), There Ain't No Sanity Clause, Disco Man, Billy Bad Breaks, Dozen Girls, Stranger On The Town, Generals, Thanks For The Night.


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