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Innuendo
Innuendo
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £13.97

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strong finish to a remarkable career., 26 Jan 2007
This review is from: Innuendo (Audio CD)
Innuendo is a strong album and is worthy of the special spot it occupies as the last Queen album completed during Freddie Mercury's life.

It isn't a truly great album, but it is better overall -- with a more complete identity-- than quite a few of its predecessors.

It also has an adventurous, almost questing, quality that is all the more remarkable when put in the context of Freddie's grave illness and the near-sure knowledge that this would be the band's last effort. The band try out much that is new and diverse idioms are introduced, such as the flamenco influences in Innuendo or the Noel Coward-frippery of I'm Going Slightly Mad.

The lyrics are also startlingly focussed. It is almost impossible now to disassociate the album from the unusual circumstances in which it was created, but there is an incredible poignance and steadfastness to the sentiments conveyed in The Show Must Go On and These Are The Days Of Our Lives. At times -- with the benefit of hindsight -- it is almost heart-breaking to listen to some of these songs.

Finally, this an outstanding testament to the vocal prowess of --for this reviewer anyway -- the single greatest rock singer we have ever seen. Brian May has spoken in the past about how at this stage Freddie was so ill that he barely had the strength to stand. And somehow, from that quagmire of terminal illness and despair, he was able to sing with such power, with such admirable optimism and courage that it is, frankly, unbelievable. There is something deeply riveting and moving about great strength being greatly tested, and there is no finer example than Freddie's superhuman effort here. In doing so, in railing against an inevitable destiny, in refusing to give in to self-pity or pain or negativity, Fred showed himself to be more than simply a great showman. To be blunt, he was nothing short of heroic.

The finest song on the record is The Show Must Go On, which succeeds on every level. It has a wonderful, memorable melody and stirring and exquisitely-crafted lyrics. As Fred's passionate vocal soars to stunning heights, it is impossible to resist your spirits being elevated also. As such it is a fitting memorial to a remarkable life and a remarkable man.


Munich
Munich
Offered by RevivalMedia
Price: £12.52

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A prayer for peace, 2 Feb 2006
This review is from: Munich (Audio CD)
I've often thought that John Williams' scores perfectly reflect Steven Spielberg's films.

If Spielberg delivers a great film, Williams delivers a great score (Jaws, Raiders, ET, Schindler); if the film's unmemorable, the score is unmemorable, but still worth a look (Always, Hook); ditto underrated but entertaining (Catch Me If You Can), operating on auto-pilot (Temple of Doom, Last Crusade), hugely popular (Jurassic Park) or dull but worthy (Amistad).

Once again, this is the case with Munich: the film and music alike are at once moving, compelling, dark and complex.

The stand-out tracks are:
Hatikvah (The Hope) -- lush strings drawl out an aching theme of deep sadness; wind instruments join in to flesh out this beautiful, elegant Israeli melody.

Remember Munich -- female vocals over strings. This track packs an emotional punch, with the voice almost wailing with anguish.

Avner's Theme -- the main leitmotif of the film, repeated in several places throughout the film. Here it is elegantly picked out on solo classical guitar. A stately melody with a a hint of dissonance in the repeated two-chord refrain, that reflects the moral confusion of the film's protagonist.

Avner and Daphna -- an oboe high and clear intones the same melody from 'Remember Munich' which develops middle-eastern nuances, before full strings take over along more dynamic and complex lines.

End Credits -- a knockout reprise of the Avner theme. A doleful solo cello leads into a short version of the theme for full strings and then a heart-breaking rendition for solo piano, before the strings return to join the piano. Simply beautiful, the music delivers the equivalent of an emotional body-blow.

There is also a minimalist recurring cue with a repeated steady and implacable beat implying much: the tension of impending tragedy, the inevitability of escalating violent reprisals and the pulsing of blood as passions flare and reason diminishes.

This is not quite John Williams at the top of his game, but it's not far off it. Like the film, the music is the work of a true talent delivering a vital and daring piece of art.


Mozart: Così fan tutte
Mozart: Così fan tutte
Price: £7.25

17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some extra details Amazon don't tell you, 26 Jan 2006
This review is from: Mozart: Così fan tutte (Audio CD)
More than a review, I just wanted to add some extra pieces of information that Amazon don't provide, but might be of use if you're considering buying this 2-disk set.
First, this performance was recorded in 1951.
Second, as a consequence of when it was recorded, it is not a digital recording. It is 'ADD': recorded using analogue equipment but transferred to CD format using a digital transferring process.
Further to these points of fact, my own subjective views:
I found the recording of the orchestra to be slightly tinny. The orchestra does sound very much like an opera/chamber orchestra, smallish in sound, and is primarily a backdrop to the singing (as opposed to the lush symphony/philharmonic sound that you seem to find more often than not on opera recordings these days). Which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
The singing on this recording is sublime: the voices are reproduced with warmth and clarity and the performances themselves are joyful yet elegant, much like the music itself.


Amistad: Original Soundtrack
Amistad: Original Soundtrack
Offered by rbmbooks
Price: £9.86

3.0 out of 5 stars Strong but underrated score from a living legend, 15 Sep 2005
Worth buying for 'Dry Your Tears, Afrika' alone, which stands up to comparison with anything that John Williams has written before or since. 'The Long Road To Justice' is moving, poised and beautiful; it conjures images of a rustic time long removed, with its gorgeous solo trumpet soaring pure and true above delicate yet yearning strings, before ending on the refrain of the opening track. 'Mr Adams Takes The Case' and 'Adams' Summation' perform a similar trick, inducing a sense of pastoral, yet martial, Americana, before wandering into more plaintif territories, then finally returning to a brass-trio stately reprising several leitmotifs of the score. In between these tracks are a number of rhythmic and moody cues, some more effective than others, before the album finishes off as it began with a reprise of 'Dry Your Tears, Afrika'.
A solid piece of work, this score has some outstanding moments, but is recommended rather than essential.


Apple iPod Photo 30GB [M9829B/A]
Apple iPod Photo 30GB [M9829B/A]

52 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice bit of kit, 22 April 2005
I've never owned any kind of MP3 player before, and thought long and hard before shelling out my hard-earned readies. Initially I was attracted to the slimmer and IMHO more attractive i-pod minis. However, after some soul-searching I decided that I really needed a bigger hard-drive as my music collection is pretty expansive.
I'm very happy with my i-pod photo; it's easy to use, sounds great to me and the photos look pretty good on the screen.
I've only got USB 1.1, but it actually works OK. I imagine USB 2.0 or firewire must work like a dream.
Pros: As already said, it's very intuitive to use and it reproduces music well. The colour screen is fantastic and you can fit literally hundreds and hundreds of cd's onto the hard-drive. When viewing pictures you flick through them incredibly quickly with the click wheel.
Cons: cost -- the extras really start to add up. Once you've outlayed for your iskin, your docking station, av cables etc you can quite comfortably add £100 to the already inflated asking price. The battery life doesn't appear to be anywhere near the 15 hours that Apple claims. With only limited use of backlight, and playing no games or other battery-unfriendly operations, I've found it to last around 8 hours. When first viewing a photo it takes a good few seconds for the photo to appear on the screen, almost as if the ipod is freezing. Once that appears it's fast to scroll on to the next ones, but the initial delay is annoying.
Overall: haven't regretted spending my money on this for a second.


Elton John: Dream Ticket [DVD] [2004]
Elton John: Dream Ticket [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Elton John
Price: £29.99

8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't do what it says on the tin, 17 Jan 2005
This DVD collection purports to be a comprehensive review of Elton's live career (especially the fourth disk). But unfortunately it's a massive disapointment. Something like 90% of the footage is post 1990's. Many of the performances on the fourth disk are not even live, instead having Elton mime. There's something like 5 minutes worth of footage of live performance from the seventies (and I'm being literal here). Even worse, despite the claims on the pack, there are few rarities on display. It's mainly bog-standard live sets consisting mainly of the well-known hits (played out in a strangely simple plinkety-plonk manner that Elton seems to have devolved to in the last decade).
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 18, 2009 10:19 PM BST


Watchmen
Watchmen
by Alan Moore
Edition: Paperback

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Comic Ever -- 'nuff said., 2 July 2004
This review is from: Watchmen (Paperback)
Face front, true believer, and behold the tightest-plotted, most lovingly rendered comic-book tale ever to hit the printed page! Even umpteen years after its first publication the labyrinthine plot still boggles the mind, the characterisation is as rich and memorable as ever, and the artwork crisp and finely stylised (ditto the distinctive colouring work). Excelsior!


Goldfinger (James Bond 007)
Goldfinger (James Bond 007)
by Ian Fleming
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A book of two halves, 2 July 2004
The first half of this book is as fine as any that Fleming wrote: Auric Goldfinger is the paradigm of the classic Bond villian; memorable, ingenious and with a soupçon of depravity. The cat-eating Oddjob, the blueprint for the many indestuctible sidekicks that the Bond movies seem to love, is unforgettable and fascinating. All the illustrious features of the film-version are present and correct, in fact: the gadget-filled Aston Martin; the razor-rimmed bowler hat; the testosterone-fuelled one-upmanship in the celebrated golf game; a gold-painted Jill Masterton; Pussy Galore. The plot-device that introduces Goldfinger, the game of two-handed Canasta, is a delight and the aforementioned game of golf is very much an extended version of the brilliant card-game scene from Moonraker, and very enjoyable for it.
Much is different from the film, of course, mainly the second half of the story, and this is where the book does actually suffer in comparison to the celluloid version. The book's plot features a much more prosaic (and strangely less believable)attempt to steal the gold from Fort Knox, rather than the ingenious idea to irradiate the bullion. Pussy Galore is a lesbian, and is subject to rather un-PC treatment by Fleming. In fact, this book is where Bond starts to become rather eyebrow-raisingly chauvinistic and occassionally racist (towards Koreans mainly).
One of the other reviewers on this site stated that there is a startling revelation towards the end of the book that Goldinger works for SMERSH; in actuality, this is strongly hinted at throughout the book, and it is Bond's suspicions regarding this matter that motivate many of his actions throughout the story.
So, to summarise, it could have been brilliant, but a slack and not vey plausible second-half lets the side down to the extent that all in all it's a bit of a mixed bag, but enjoyable nontheless.


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