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Merry Terry

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Magic Time
Magic Time

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars See you through the window (if you haven't left after track 3...), 18 Jun. 2010
This review is from: Magic Time (Audio CD)
Herein lies the problem. If you can open an album with 2 of the finest tracks you have put out for a long time, tracks of such quality and class and then follow it up with "Keep Mediocrity At Bay" (which incidentally invites mediocrity in with an affirmative handshake), you have a quality control issue.

"Stranded" is a sublime peice of balladry where Van the Man delivers a vocal of such command and soul and the musical chops are there to back it up. It sounds like 1957 and being stranded has never sounded so sweet. It's follow up - "Celtic New Year" - is a career standout. It hangs around for a bit, but its quite welcome to and manages that tricky balance of romantic, soulful and classy at the same time. It beats the saccharine "Have I told you lately" hands down.

OK - lets keep with the positive. "The Lion This Time" is a decent folk-flavoured tune and the title track is wistful and works rather pleasantly. "They Sold Me Out" (Van doesn't have any sense of victimhood honestly) despite robbing the opening hook of "People Get Ready" also does ok. "Just Like Greta" is also a song of substance and class.

Now we run into some difficulty. Because with Van it's about the songs. "Keep Mediocrity At Bay" is poor and "Carry On Regardless" is a bit embarrassing.
A few standard covers and we're virtually there.

There's substantial class on this long player, but it's not across it's 13 tracks.

Wake Up The Nation (2 Disc Deluxe Edition)
Wake Up The Nation (2 Disc Deluxe Edition)
Offered by Great Price Media EU
Price: £35.48

4.0 out of 5 stars There's 12 steps to Edward Cochran baby..., 14 Jun. 2010
It's about time he got restless and shifted out of that wholegrain but worthy mod-rock avenue that became a cul-de-sac by "As Is Now."
And here we have it and it's in parts a bit bewildering and in some places half-finished. However it's got more fire and skill on it than it has the right to have.
It's not a genius album and it's not across the 16 tracks a career best but it's a roar of price and reminder that Paul Weller is at his best an artist and songwriter to cherish.

"Moonshine" is Jerry Lee on crack and sounds nervous and edgy and is all the better for it. The title track is classic Weller. Sharp and on the money, with a bit of ranting that sounds a bit like a taxi driver having a go about things "these days" but the music is vibrant so it carries. "No Tears To Cry" is a fine soulful tune with Simon Dine providing a crystal clear backdrop.
I can live without "Andromeda" and "She Speaks" to be honest.
The standouts here are "Trees" - a bewildering but actually rather good track that is so unusual and brave that it's shifting directions become charming. "7 & 3" is incendiary and the most exciting thing Weller has done for years. Bruce Foxton's cameo on "Fast Car/Slow Traffic" makes for a sharp 120 seconds or so. "Up The Dosage" could be David Bowie at certain moments. That suggests how much of a move the man has made away from his comfort zone.

Some of the songs suffer for their half-finished nature. And lyrically the man himself has confessed to it all being a bit random. "Two Fat Ladies" is mindless but sounds alright.

Overall, it's a very good album. Sorry Mr Weller - it's a step in the right direction - it's the not THE album that you could still make. But it suggests a restlessness that a masterpeice could be on its way. Forward movements always.

The Cross Eyed Rambler (Digi Packaging)
The Cross Eyed Rambler (Digi Packaging)

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Salt and vinegar, 10 July 2008
Biscuit Boy's back. Well he's not as such and nor's Crackerman. He's just Heaton Paul.

Nice work in the main. Lead off single "Mermaids & Slaves" is catchy and sharp, remeniscent of the Housemartins.
"The Pub" is Heaton as his incisive best and for once the music is sharp enough to match it.
"God Bless Texas" is a blast at the Lone Star state with some slightly clumsy posturing in the lyrics.
"Little Red Rooster" is a charming country-esque breeze.

"Everything Is Everything" is a grumpy but thought-provoking closer which works save for the sound of Heaton swearing like a trooper and sounding like a Geography teacher trying to impress his sixth form class with "bad words."

Welcome back Mr Heaton. Nice to have you with us with all your idiosyncratic charm. The songwriting arena would be a poorerp lace without you and we look forward to your next one.

22 Dreams
22 Dreams
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.84

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blimey...., 3 Jun. 2008
This review is from: 22 Dreams (Audio CD)
He has gone and done it. Made the most interesting album of his solo career that is. "22 Dreams" arrives against trends, against expectations and against those who want more of the same.

Thankfully this is not more of the same. "As Is Now" was decent but lazy in the main. Not since 2000's "Heliocentric" has Weller tried some colour out to see if it would help. This album is a brave, bold and fascinating step forward.

There is stuff here that could have been on another very good Paul Weller album. The title track is a breeze of energy with Little Barrie bringing some zest. "All I Wanna Do" is the kind of soulful-rock that the man does very well, and this is done rather well. "Have You Made Up Your Mind" is classy and Simon Dine adds some sweet 60s kitsch to the production. "Push It Along" is excellent and memorable and vital. "Why Walk When You Can Run" almost collapses in bombast from the outset but is saved by a poignancy that makes the track a winner on repeated listens. "Invisible" is Weller being vulnerable at the piano but is completely charming and up there with "Changing Of The Guard" as one of his finest ballads.

Where things take a jump are on "Light Nights" which is folk but rather arresting. "Song For Alice" is freeform jazz with Robert Wyatt adding some sweet class, as he always does. "Lullaby Fur Kinder" is a mini-classical peice that somehow works and charms you. "Echoes Round The Sun" is an excellent blast of psychadelic rock that is irresistable and the strongest thing the man has put out on single since "Into Tomorrow". If Noel Gallagher can keep this up the new Oasis one could be interesting. "Where'er Ye Go" is a plaintive song that pushes the boundaries by its sheer straightforwardness for Weller. "Empty Ring" is a sweet peice of soul that Curtis Mayfield might have put out if he ever ran into Simon Dine. "Cold Moments" is a nice soul-jazz tune that has a lightness of touch that has been missing for a few albums now. "The Dark Pages Of September" is a blissed-out 50 seconds or so that Brian Wilson would have nodded at. "Black River" charms you in a quirky kind of way taking a stop at an Eastend pub piano. "Night Lights" is a strange but beautiful conclusion to this sprawling collection.

What holds this album back a little is a few slightly unsure steps that don't cut it. "God" is incoherent and whilst experimentation is welcome this does not cut the mustard in any convincing way at all. Weller needs to sort his nonsense out. Where God and spirituality are concerned he remains incoherent. This demonstates why Gospel music resonates, and where unsure "spiritual-type" themes in music don't cut it. What would you rather listen to? The Swan Silvertones or "God" or "All Good Books" off "Illumination"?
"One Bright Star" is a forgettable lightweight foray into tango. And "111" is a tedious few minutes for its listeners. No two ways about it.

However these are small gripes. This is a fine collection and Weller displays what his fans always knew - that he is a pioneer when he wants to be and he is at his best when he's exploring. Another album of the same would have been a setback. This is a brave exciting step forward. It deserves your time and attention.

Have You Made Up Your Mind/Echoes Round The Sun
Have You Made Up Your Mind/Echoes Round The Sun
Offered by musik-markt
Price: £2.88

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sup up your beer and collect your fags..., 27 May 2008
Polish your loafers because Weller's back on form.

The blue-eyed soul cut of "Have You Made Up Your Mind" is breezy and bright and Weller's throaty soulful vocals carry things with class.
So far so safe.

Where things shift from good to very good is the murky, irresistable "Echoes Round The Sun." It sounds strange and vital and re-energised.

A promising double-lead off for a very promising double album.

By the way - "Rise & Fall" is the kind of track that in weaker moments Weller might put on an album or even put out as a single. It's not unpleasant but it's a bit lazy and a bit stodgy and pales in comparison to the other 2 tracks. Forgive him this one, stick it on a pub jukebox and somebody might think it was a throwaway Rod Stewart album track from 1975 albeit with a good band behind him.

Price: £11.46

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Muted class, 15 May 2008
This review is from: HERE IS WHAT IS (Audio CD)
From "Yellow Moon" to "Time Out Of Mind", Daniel Lanois as a producer has added swampy (as in New Orleans not hairy eco-protestor) class. Here on his recent solo effort we have bags of class, and strong songwriting. Sadly these songs are interpresed with words of towering pretention which is a shame.
2003's "Shine" was wonderful. And this could have been too without the chat.
"Where Will I Be" is shimmery and sweet and profound. "This Could Be The Last Time" is punchy Gospel.
The sweet pedal steel work on here is virtuoso. No doubt about that.
But hearing Brian Eno talk about a chest of drawers is not my cup of Red Label to be honest.

But Lanois' solo work is startlingly good in places and as a virtuoso producer, the sound on here is amazing.
4 without the chat. 3 with.

How Come
How Come
Price: £6.33

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars He's the keeper of the lantern, 11 April 2008
This review is from: How Come (Audio CD)
The son of Stanley Lane is one of Britain's overlooked treasures. A BBC4 documentary in recent years went some way to re-address this but the best way to deal with this to get into the man's music.

Ronnie Lane's solo material is full of charm. The charm on this album is that the band sound like they are having fun.

Lets be honest. Ocean Colour Scene have spent the best part of their career trying to re-write "The Poacher". This track is a thing of beauty and is an overlooked classic.
"Tell Everyone" and "Done This Before" are folky and rustic but not twee in any way. "Kuschty Rye" is another standout on here.

Lane's solo material is better than the great Steve Marriot's in my humble opinion and this shows on the Magic Mijits. "How Come" is worth picking up and enjoying.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 3, 2011 2:03 AM BST

Mr Love And Justice
Mr Love And Justice
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £11.64

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars From Barking to Dorset, 9 April 2008
This review is from: Mr Love And Justice (Audio CD)
Mr Bragg has previously been accused of trying to set Clause Four to music. And maybe he has at times with varying success. There should, however, be little contention about his towering songwriting abilities. Beauties such as "St Swithin's Day", the eternal "New England", the magnificent "Waiting For The Great Leap Forwards" and even some of the album tracks off the last 2 albums ("Sugar Daddy", "He'll Go Down") have showed some bite where mellowness may have set in.

"Mr Love & Justice" starts off rather well. "I Keep Faith" is not particularly arresting for anything on initial appearance but it does eventually charm you with a soulful lightness of touch and the sweet sound of Robert Wyatt's backing vocals. This stands up there with some of his finest.
Elsewhere highlights are "Sing Their Souls Back Home" which by rights could make you cringe but it somehow doesn't. "The Johnny Carcinogenic Show" works rather well tackling the calorific golden arches. "O Freedom" is Bragg at his most incisive.
However elsewhere things are either a little bland or have a wall of ugly guitar over them. The Blokes as a backing band seem to have lost their deftness and seem to clunk about like a drunk Crazy Horse.
"I Almost Killed You" passes by forgettably. The title track sounds like we've been here before. "Farm Boy" doesn't do much one way or the other.

The solo take on the songs does bring out more interest and some of the bear up well under this treatment.

Perhaps it's all a bit unfair. Life does change and you couldn't maybe expect a "Levi Stubbs Tears".
But there is a bit of blandness knocking around in the over. So whither Billy Bragg? This is not an overly arresting album but it is not without its charm. Bragg remains one of the most human and moving songwriters of the last 25 or so years. And this shows up in a handful of places on this album.

Maybe next time, when he gets round to it, he can get some fire back.

The News
The News
Offered by Hausmusik
Price: £20.23

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And the weather's good..., 8 April 2008
This review is from: The News (Audio CD)
If this was by a backstreet new band coming up from East London or something this would get the NME tripping over it's tight denim.

It's Mick Jones' outfit with Tony James and "The News" is based on an ABC riff that is so straightforward yet so insistent it will embed itself in your brain.
Lyrically optimistic, this is the kind of music that should make you smile and even play a bit of inaccurate air guitar.

Our Mick always had a way with a tune and he hasn't lost it.

The sound of sunshine. Merry Terry is pleased with the work of this young man and his popular beat combo. Mr Jones will go far.

The Future Is Unwritten
The Future Is Unwritten
Price: £15.02

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strummer-shaped vacuum..., 26 Oct. 2007
This review is from: The Future Is Unwritten (Audio CD)
It would be hard to knock a compilation with MC5, Tim Hardin, Elvis Presley, U-Roy, Ernest Ranglin and Nina Simone on.
When in tribute to the late Joe Strummer and accompanying the excellent Julian Temple film, this soundtrack is irresitable.
With intriguing excerpts from Strummer's eclectic "World Service" show and tributes to the man as well as words from the man himself, this collates a wonderful soundtrack. A fitting tribute to a flawed giant.

Hard to not be moved by the man speaking so sincerely. Hard not to be touched by this segueing into the beautiful "Willesden To Cricklewood."

The searing MC5's "Kick Out The Jams" serves to demonstrate the seeds of punk. U-Roy's infectious "Natty Rebel" serves up the Jamaican influences.

The wonderful "Trash City" is a welcome reminder that the lost years served up some good stuff.

Go and buy it and keep listening to it. Some great tunes. Some interesting words and a fitting soundtrack to a great film about one of the most important figures in British music of the last 30 or so years.

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