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Ram
Ram
Offered by simak
Price: £15.50

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maybe Paul's Best Album, Ever, 24 April 2007
This review is from: Ram (Audio CD)
This joyful album has it all. Admiral Halsey is almost like a children tune, Long Haired Lady is pure romance and Ram On is Paul in an acoustic setting produced yet like he's in outer space. It is worthwhile listening to the opener, Too Many People, and study the "FCK the Beatles" picture on the sleeve. Paul was not only having fun but was also being extremely funny.

Unlike some of his other material, this album has aged remarkably well and sounds today fresh as ever. Recorded at his farm in Scotland, one can sense the organic nature of it. He went on making some really good music (also some really bad one too) but he never came close to captivating the originality, which is special since its structure is mostly simple, of what he did on Ram.

This is definitely among his best work, if not his best album ever.


Midge Ure: If I Was...: The Autobiography
Midge Ure: If I Was...: The Autobiography
by Midge Ure
Edition: Paperback

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Man of Two Worlds, 20 April 2007
This is among the most entertaining autobiographies I've recently read. Midge narrates with emotion, recalling his childhood up till his recent problems and small victories. He was for a while incredibly prolific and influential in creating what became the sound and vision of the eighties. Not only did he contribute via his work as a band member of Ultravox, but also via the leading force of Visage. Although Visage never became huge, despite being popular, the influence of their electronic and androgynous sound and accompanying videos set the stage for other electronic bands. On top of this all he became, of course, something of an operating manager of Band Aid and had for a while success going solo.

By and large, Ure is humble by his achievements and acknowledges other people's part in his success and yet points out that sometimes he didn't get the respect he deserved for his work; Visage is a case in point, most people actually didn't realize that he was the driving force of the band. He has been extremely generous to his parents, who were constantly unfortunate in moving into house that burned down to the ground, only to have Jim (Midge derived from his name pronounced backwards) step in to buy another house. Midge was actually very generous to himself and basically everyone around him, so generous that he eventually became more or less bankrupt. Despite some finger pointing, he realizes that the fault lies first and foremost in his own doings.

What struck me, though, was that among so much generosity and hospitality is his treatment to his former mates in Ultravox. He spends a great deal of the text describing how difficult it was working with them, their envy of his star persona (take a look at the videos, it's Midge all over the place) and how poor their contribution was as the group developed, as in the work they had done while he was on a sabbatical with his solo project. Heck, he didn't even bother inviting them to the Band Aid bonanza, making sure he would remain in the spotlight.

Ure split up the band, saying that they could have kept on, since there was an Ultravox before him joining the band. This is simply ridiculous as recent compilations of Midge Ure and Ultravox suggest; people view the band as Midge and the other guys (something like Culture Club without Boy George). Ultravox did continue in some fashion without him but nobody, understandably, bothered. He states that he leaves messages to his former band mates and is somewhat baffled why they don't return his polite greetings, stating that he may be ready re-uniting the band. Obviously what he needs to do is pick up the phone and say: I'm Sorry.

This is a touching reading of a man of two worlds, mostly sincere and likeable. I hope he manages to keep performing and steer away from alcohol. He would also do many a favor by contacting his former band mates in the same vein as he seems to treat his family and friends, with warmth and generosity.


I Trawl The Megahertz
I Trawl The Megahertz

2 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lethargic, 20 April 2007
This review is from: I Trawl The Megahertz (Audio CD)
The title of this review basically says it all about this release. I've been a Prefab Sprout fan for many years, even liked their unloved "Cowboy" record, but this is on the verge of being boring. Only for the hard core fans, like me, and that may be stretching it.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 31, 2013 7:25 PM GMT


Steve McQueen
Steve McQueen

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Sonic and Musical Masterpiece, 19 April 2007
This review is from: Steve McQueen (Audio CD)
Steve McQueen is an album I've been hoping to be re-mastered for years, along with Prefab's other great album, Jordan: The Comeback. Jordan was an incredible album packed with great songs diverse both musically and lyrically. SM was, however, more ethereal in its production with a sound that really has not been duplicated, ever. Most people who listened to their first record, Swoon, are aware that Thomas Dolby, the producer, had an enormous influence on the outcome of SM. Not only is the production different but the structure of the songs is better crafted. Having at first listened to SM as a record, I always felt that the CD version lacked depth. It must be added that the CD version I am used to is the American version of SM (called Two Wheels Good because the estate objected to the title). That version included a fantastic extended version of Faron Young, a great county cover of He'll Have To Go and one more track. When Love Breaks Down is also in an inferior state on Two Wheels Good, being slightly edited and mixed

Now, more than 20 years after its initial release the album has been re-released, re-mastered by Thomas Dolby himself. The extra tracks from Two Wheels Good are nowhere to be found. That is understandable since Dolby had nothing to do with that production and they were also not really part of the original Steve McQueen release. On a brighter note, the better version of When Love Breaks Down is intact.

Although some recent re-mastered versions have improved the sound quality significantly, often it is simply because the transfer to the CD was initially incredibly sloppy. Despite not being satisfied with the sound quality of Two Wheels Good, I cannot say that it was bad. Many CD releases in their early stages simply were substandard and TWG was actually above the average for that period sound quality wise. This makes the difference even more astonishing. It is as if the music was transferred into 3-D. Not only is there (much) added depth, the clarity and yet softness is way beyond what I am used to. I even suspect that Dolby may have done some subtle re-mixing to obtain this effect because this is better than most productions done even in today's standards. The only re-release that I can think of having been re-mastered closely as well is Fleetwood Mac's recent 2-CD edition of Rumours, but that version was initially transferred in an atrocious manner. This re-mastered version would be worth the price alone.

There is, however, an extra CD included in this release. Paddy McAloon decided to re-record acoustically 8 of the 11 songs from SM, as opposed to the usual demo/different versions/live versions/omitted tracks route. This is admirable both in regards of bothering to set so much effort in a re-release project (recording of the acoustic set took supposedly much longer than the initial one) and also taking the chance re-recording classics that probably are a hard act to follow. What surprised me is how complex the arrangements are. Instead of Paddy strumming through the tracks with a guitar in his hands, most of the songs are complex interactions of guitars woven together. Many of them are also re-arranged in a fashion that they are almost like different songs. This works well on most of the songs but it most be kept in mind that in general people listening to these tracks are biased, being used to the older versions, including me.

The standout track is, surprising, Desire As. The acoustic version is almost unrecognizable from the original one and, dare I say, better than the original one. Another track which falls into that category is When the Angels, a lovely version that brings the text more to life. The two tracks that I feel are lacking are Bonny and Goodbye Lucille #1. Bonny is my favorite Prefab Sprout track, period, so maybe that makes it simply almost impossible for me being unbiased, but the singing is way below Paddy's usual standards and the arrangement lacks cohesion. Goodbye Lucille #1 needed actually more re-arranging because the vocal interaction makes the song special but with only one voice it does not work out. Faron Young has a Western feel in this arrangement and becomes very addictive after a few listens. When Love Breaks Down, however, has a sweet feel, approaching the performance with a gentle approach once again but from a different angle. Trying to maintain an objective stance, I rate this version as a 4 star record.

This set, however, is a 5 star project, both sonically and musically and very worth purchasing, both for those who own it already and others who still lack one of the most ethereal and stunningly produced releases in the last few decades.


U218 Singles
U218 Singles
Offered by Music-Shop
Price: £17.44

25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Pride (& Vertigo) recycled One more time, 16 Nov. 2006
This review is from: U218 Singles (Audio CD)
After having released the 1980-1990 & 1990-2000 Best Of Compilations, it seemed logical that the next U2 compilation would be a 2000-2010 compilation. With 2-3 leftovers from All...Behind, 4-5 contenders from How...Atomic Bomb, and the new single with Green Day (eh hem), not much would have been needed to fill that quota. Apparently, U2 no longer have such patience and have delivered this single disk career overview just in time for Christmas.

This is a pattern that has increasingly been developing by U2, i.e. releasing recycled material of sorts between each new release. We've had this decade alone 3 concert DVD's (plus Zoo TV re-released) and the 1990-2000 CD & DVD compilation.

On the plus side, at least for the very casual fan, all the biggies are included on this set. For those who have been Following U2 for ages, it is highly unlikely that such fans will have any Desire listening to Pride One more time (included on each concert DVD). Granted, there are 2 new tracks included but the average price for each new song for those who own U2's previous material, probably in many shapes, is steep.

The song selection is, as a set for casual listeners, as close to perfect as possible. U2 have e.g. skipped all the songs from the Pop flop; as are Zooropa and the first two albums (I Will Follow is hidden though). 2 UK #1's, The Fly and Discothéque are also nowhere to be found here, indicating that the songs are chosen by their world wide success. There are obvious misses, such as City of Blinding Lights, Numb and Angel of Harlem, but which songs to replace them with would be a difficult task.

This edition includes a "bonus" concert DVD including a staggering 10 songs. Many U2 fans already own, however, the Vertigo DVD filmed during that same tour, making this more of a purchase to satisfy those who need to own everything officially released by U2, which is becoming proportionally ever more difficult in a similar degree as their declining rate of new material.

U2 fans (me included) probably will, with a slight grumble, purchase this set en masse. With the entire catalogue yet to be re-released, however, patience with their recycling efforts may begin wearing thin if this process continues.

I would give this set 5 stars for the songs themselves, they do stand the test of time (having heard many of them so often, I hardly will listen often to this set). There are, however, only a couple of stars given to the 18 release itself (in light of the baffling few songs on the DVD, that may be generous) , due to U2's abnormal recycling efforts, which should be concentrated more on earth's resources, not their back catalogue.


U218 Singles
U218 Singles
Price: £5.00

27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Pride recycled One more time, 13 Nov. 2006
This review is from: U218 Singles (Audio CD)
After having released the 1980-1990 & 1990-2000 Best Of Compilations, it seemed logical that the next U2 compilation would be a 2000-2010 compilation. Apparently, U2 no longer have such patience and have delivered this single disk career overview just in time for Christmas.

This is a pattern that has increasingly been developing by U2, i.e. releasing recycled material of sorts between each new release. We've had this decade alone 3 concert DVD's (plus Zoo TV re-released) and the 1990-2000 CD & DVD compilation.

On the plus side, at least for the very casual fan, all the biggies are included on this set. For those who have been Following U2 for ages, it is highly unlikely that such fans will have any Desire listening to Pride One more time (included on all of the concert DVD's). Granted, there are 2 new tracks included but the average price for each new song for those who own U2's previous material, probably in many shapes, is steep.

The song selection is, as a set for casual listeners, as close to perfect as possible. U2 have e.g. skipped all the songs from the Pop flop; as are Zooropa and the first two albums (one hidden track though Follows). 2 UK #1's, The Fly and Discothéque are also nowhere to be found here, indicating that the songs are chosen by their world wide success. There are obvious misses, such as City of Blinding Lights, Numb and Angel of Harlem, but which songs to replace them with would be a difficult task.

U2 fans probably will, with a slight grumble, purchase this set en masse. With the entire catalogue yet to be re-released, however, patience with their recycling efforts may begin wearing thin if this process continues.

I would give this set 5 stars for the songs themselves, they do stand the test of time (having heard many of them so often, I hardly will listen a whole lot to this set). There are, however, only a couple of stars given to the 18 release itself, due to U2's abnormal recycling efforts, which should be concentrated more on earth's resources, not their back catalogue.


U218 Singles [CD + DVD] [US Import]
U218 Singles [CD + DVD] [US Import]

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Pride recycled One more time, 6 Nov. 2006
After having released the 1980-1990 & 1990-2000 Best Of Compilations, it seemed logical that the next U2 compilation would be a 2000-2010 compilation. Apparently, U2 no longer have such patience and have delivered this single disk career overview just in time for Christmas.

This is a pattern that has increasingly been developing by U2, i.e. releasing recycled material of sorts between each new release. We've had this decade alone 3 concert DVD's (plus Zoo TV re-released) and the 1990-2000 CD & DVD compilation.

On the plus side, at least for the very casual fan, all the biggies are included on this set. For those who have been Following U2 for ages, it is highly unlikely that such fans will have any Desire listening to Pride One more time (included on all of the concert DVD's). Granted, there are 2 new tracks included but the average price for each new song for those who own U2's previous material, probably in many shapes, is steep.

The song selection is, as a set for casual listeners, as close to perfect as possible. U2 have e.g. skipped all the songs from the Pop flop; as are Zooropa and the first two albums. 2 UK #1's, The Fly and Discothéque are also nowhere to be found here, indicating that the songs are chosen by their world wide success. There are obvious misses, such as City of Blinding Lights, Numb and Angel of Harlem, but which songs to replace with would be a difficult task.

U2 fans probably will, with a slight grumble, purchase this set en masse. With the entire catalogue yet to be re-released, however, patience with their recycling efforts may begin wearing thin if this process continues.

I would give this set 5 stars for the songs themselves, they do stand the test of time (having heard many of them so often, I hardly will listen often to this set). There are, however, only a couple of stars given to the 18 release itself, due to U2's abnormal recycling efforts, which should be concentrated more on earth's resources, not their back catalogue.


Recurring Dream: The Very Best Of Crowded House
Recurring Dream: The Very Best Of Crowded House
Price: £8.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The compilation Crowded House fans should own, 24 Oct. 2006
There are at least 3 editions available of Crowded House's Recurring Dream compilation. One is the standard one with a single CD. Another one released initially (but is no longer widely available) during the same period includes this fantastic live CD. Songs such as There Goes God and Sister Madly showcase their drive that lacked on the studio versions. Mediocre songs from their debut like Love You `til the Day I Die and Hole in the River become fresh, as if they have been released from some kind of bounds. There is humor spread all over the set with the audience participating without ruining the songs. The fun and energy associated with Crowded House shines more on this live CD than any other studio recording of theirs (even including their masterpiece Together Alone) making it worthwhile for many to buy this edition, although it is rather expensive.

Recently another edition emerged with a greatest hits DVD included. The songs are still great but most of the videos have aged rather poorly. An exception is Weather with You (my son's favorite!) which is joyful and fun and Distant Sun, a dreamy video that tastefully complements one of their best songs. My son actually loves most of the songs post Weather with You but he may simply like the overuse of colors (huge Yellow Submarine fan) and simply great songs. Being a big fan myself, this is a must have for me but friends and family mostly laugh when they see most of these videos.

Recurring Dream is thus a great buy for most people. Any fan should add a few extra dollars and purchase this edition including the live set and only the hard core fans should also get the DVD version (that can be actually bought separately).
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 18, 2009 1:30 PM BST


Fundamental
Fundamental
Price: £5.99

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Too many slow songs & lack of production imagination, 21 Oct. 2006
This review is from: Fundamental (Audio CD)
I have been a PSB fan for many many years. Very is in my opinion one of the all times best pop albums ever made. Since that release (pun intended), their albums have tended to be OK but nothing more. I actually thought that Release had some fine moments but seem to be in a minority in that aspect. Their Disco 3 release was, however, very promising containing some songs that were fresher than most of what they have done in the past decade.

Learning that the incredible Trevor Horn was producing their latest set gave me high hopes. This was a combination that could hardly go wrong, right? Hearing I'm With Stupid before Fundamental's release, I, however, feared the worst. PSB are trying sooo hard being radio friendly on this song, one has the feeling they were forced to come up with something that reminded of the old days. Stupid just does not have the magic of such songs as Heart, One More Chance & Left To My Own Devices.

Having listened to Fundamental for half a year by now, I am somewhere in between the initial optimism and my worst fears following hearing Stupid. There are many good, even great, tracks on this set. The Sodom and Gomorrah Show is a rocker (PSB wise) and should be released as a single (omitting the silly beginning and end talk) & Minimal (PSB instant classic) are catchy upbeat tunes while Casanova in Hell and Luna Park are slower songs that sparkle warmth and beauty. There are other tracks also worth listening to but the album is, listened to as a whole, way too slow. Each time one feels that it is about to go into full gear, things slow down.

The main surprise, however, is the production. It lacks total imagination; gone are the days when Trevor Horn was the catalyst for innovative production skills. Luna Park shows some of his old magic (fantastic production in an etheral style) but other than that, one is left wondering what he contributed to the set. Also, on the final track, there is a set of strings that simply must have violated some copyright laws.

On the whole, Fundamental is not a huge let-down. Despite a few glowing moments and most songs being between good and decent, it does not, unfortunately, set my world on fire. It is worth listening to and I must say, it is a grower. Deleting a few tracks would have made it a much more solid set.


The Bends
The Bends
Price: £5.08

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Left High & Dry Years Ago, 19 Oct. 2006
This review is from: The Bends (Audio CD)
I went to a R.E.M. concert in Phoenix AZ circa 1994, waiting for ticket prices to go down just before the show while the warm up group played. That group had had one hit, Creep, but despite glowing reviews of their new album, I couldn't be bothered. A few weeks later Fake Plastic Trees arrived to me via a promo CD. I thought it was fantastic and decided to buy The Bends and check out the hype.

Suffice to say those few bucks I saved before the concert were not well worth it. The Bends turned out to be one of my all time favorites (OK Computer is good, but in my books nothing compared to The Bends, which has a more White Beatles Album feel as opposed to the Pink Floyd feel of Computer). Planet Telex was an immediate sign of the album's greatness. High & Dry actually became a minor hit in the States but is one of my least favorites on this splendid set. The range of songs, both texts and performance, is from rage to pure beauty, adding up to a set of pop melodies without a dull moment.

This album has aged remarkably well. Although I haven't been a fan of their recent work, I still would like to see Radiohead perform live to partially rectify my mistake years ago.


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