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Mike London "MAC" (Oxford, UK)

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Sesame Street: Elmopalooza
Sesame Street: Elmopalooza
by Abbey Home Media Group Ltd
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £5.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant, but be forewarned: this is about Sesame Street, NOT Elmo!, 11 Sept. 2013
Elmopalooza is a 1998 TV/CD special celebrating the legacy of Sesame Street. The name, referencing Lolopalooza, references the then newest rising star in the Sesame Street pantheon, Elmo! The DVD is basically a musical video, and the album contains the audio performances from the TV special. Like so many other preschool projected headed by Sesamee Street, the producers enlisted famed musicians to help bring some versatility to the project and also to appeal to adults as well as children (which they succeed, thankfully).

Once concern about the album/TV special, however, is its lack of Elmo. [As far as Elmo fans go, however, pretty much get the shaft.] For a TV special/soundtrack celebrating Sesame Street with a seeming focus on Elmo and even titled Elmapoloza, there is VERY LITTLE Elmo on the record or the video that was released in conjuction with the soundtrack. He only appears as a major contributor to on three of the eleven songs. The project was actually a 30 year celebration of Sesame Street, and not really focused on Elmo at all, which is quite misleading, to say the least. In the late 1990s is when Elmo first rose to prominence, and the title feels more like a marketing ploy to lure people and also reference Lolopalooza (then a popular musical festive) in that an actual focus on Elmo himself, although to be fair I don't know what else you would call it and still attract the same amount of attention.

It is because of my status as a Parrothead that I even know about this record. In my quest to hear all the commercially available Jimmy Buffett, I discovered this little curio of an album. This is actually the second time Buffett has "collaborated" with The Muppetts (the firest being the Gonzo/Ritzo the Rat "Hey Mr. Space Man" song from 1995 "Kermit Unplugged" record). Sadly this song was not used on "Muppets from Space", where it would have fit in perfectly.

Like so many other famous musicians/one off projects, the album features several current (at least, in 1998 anyway) acts doing material that you would never otherwise hear on any of their own mainstream releases.

Appropriately enough, obviously, the material on the album will obviously be mostly for preschoolers, but will also appeal to parents and care-givers, etc, largely due to the musicians selected. The album is fairly uneven in tone. The album can get quite raucous at times, especially the hilarious Steve Tyler rendition of "I Love Trash", and then other times go in a more mellow direction. The album is also very short, at just over 31 minutes in length.

The album featuers Gloria Estefan, En Vogue (famous for their early 1990s hits), The Mighty Mighty Bosstones (another act whose principal success was in the 1990s), The Fugees, Rosie O'Donnell (!), Jimmy Buffett, Celione Dion, and Kenny Logins. Notably, only The Fugees wrote their contribution.

For fans of these respective musicians, the compilation is only really worth seeking out for Buffett and Steve Tyler/Aerosmith. The other material will hold little interested to any but the most dedicated of each respective musical act, with the possible exception of Gloria Estefan, who is quite exuberant in her opening "Mambo I, I, I" recording.

However, with Buffett and Steve Tyler, listening to their songs are definitely worth seeking out if you're a fan. "Carribean Amphibian", Buffett's duet with Kermit the Frog, sounds tailor-made for Buffett, with that perfect Island steel-drum sound and flare that has made Buffett millions. I'm rather surprised he didn't write the song actually. The track is not that far off from his own novelty/silly tunes that he does on his own mainstreams releases (which range from the obviously not pre-school friendly 1970s "Why Don't We Get Drunk and Screw" to again adult themed "Simply Complicated" and ridiculous "Math Sux").

Likewise, Tyler's cover of "I Love Trash" will be a delight to the Aerosmith fan who wants to see the more playful side of the famed lead singer. I can imagine if such a title appeared on an actual Aerosmith album, the lyrics would be MUCH MORE adult oriented.

Unless you are a fan of Buffett/Aerosmith/Sesamee Street in general (and possibly Kenny Logins, whose contribution is pretty good too), I'd give this a pass as now the record is probably out of print.

1. "Mambo I, I, I" 2:37
Sesame Street feat: Gloria Estefan
Written by Fernando M. Rivas / Nancy Sans

2. "I Want a Monster to Be My Friend" 3:59
Sesame Street feat: En Vogue
Written by Robert Pierce / Sam Pottle

3. "Zig Zag Dance" 1:40
Sesame Street feat: The Mighty Mighty Bosstones / The Count / Jerry Nelson
Written by Christopher Cerf / Luis Santerio

4. "Nearly Missed" 2:35
Sesame Street feat: Clifford Kevin Clash / Elmo / Rosie O'Donnell
Written by Joe Raposo

5. "Just Happy to Be Me" 2:31
Sesame Street feat: Fugees
Written by Fugees / Gail King / Sky King

6. "I Don't Want to Live on the Moon" 2:24
Sesame Street feat: Shawn Colvin / Ernie / Steve Whitmire
Written by Jeffrey Moss

7. "I Love Trash" 3:34
Sesame Street feat: Steven Tyler
Written by Jeffrey Moss

8. "Caribbean Amphibian" 2:45
Sesame Street feat: Kermit the Frog & the All-Amphibian Band / The All-Amphibian Band / Jimmy Buffett / Kevin Clash / Stephanie D'Abruzzo / Kermit the Frog / Noel MacNeal / Joey Mazzarino / Steve Whitmire
Written by Mark Salzman

9. "Happy to Meet You" 2:34
Sesame Street feat: Big Bird / Clifford Kevin Clash / Celine Dion / Elmo / Herry Monster / Jerry Nelson / Carroll Spinney
Written by Jeffrey Moss

10. "One Small Voice" 3:29
Sesame Street feat: The Kids / Kenny Loggins
Written by Jeffrey Moss

11 "Songs" 3:15
Sesame Street feat: Elmo / The Kids
Written by Dennis Scott

Koran  Portraits
Koran Portraits
Price: £0.99

1.0 out of 5 stars C. Scanlon's review pretty much sums it up, 11 Sept. 2013
This review is from: Koran Portraits (Kindle Edition)
Don't have a lot to add to C. Scanlon's review. The book is obviously self-published (for all the good and bad that implies). For what is supposedly "one of the most provocative books ever written about war and religion," the book is only fifty five pages, including copyright, table of content, frontis, etc, etc. To say there's not much to this book is putting it lightly.

In terms of content, the writing is as overblown as the tremendously pretentious blurb. As Scanlon points out, the blurb suggests that no one reader well come away with the same meanings.

There's a simple reason for that. This "book" is filled with claptrap intellectual abstract BS that means nothing outside this deluded author's small, small world. Don't even bother with this crap.

Feels Like Home
Feels Like Home
Offered by mrtopseller
Price: £4.95

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very solid "country" album, and not that far from what Crow was doing in the first place, 11 Sept. 2013
This review is from: Feels Like Home (Audio CD)
"Feels Like Home" is Sheryl Crow "going country". Going country for a pop/rock artist can mean one of two things. Either the artist's career is sagging and wants to tap into a new audience, or the country direction is simply enough facet of the artist in question. Unlike Bon Jovi (who is about as country as Motley Crue), with Sheryl Crow, she clearly demonstrates the later. Sheryl enlisted some big Nashville guns for this project as collaborators: Chris DuBois, Luke Laird, Shane McAnally, Brad Paisley. Her music as always is well-polished.

If you believe her title (and I believe you should), she feels quite at home in her country trappings, as well she should. Of all the major female artists of the 1990s, Sheryl Crow is the closest to country-rock. Her debut, Tuesday Night Music Club, could just as easily have been labelled as country-rock. (Listen to "Nobody Said It Would Be Easy" and don't tell me that that song could easily have been recorded for a country project.) Liz Phair, with "Exile in Guyville", would be the closest contender to a country-rock artist of the 1990s, although her subsequent albums give the feeling that "Exile" was more of an anomaly in her catalogue than anything else.

While "Feels Like Home" may have some great, killer hooks, there is a lot of substance behind that flashy production. Crow manages to tap into the emotionally charged, honesty-driven story-telling that vast amounts of people can relate to on a very real level which always distinguishes the best of country music, all the while retaining her pop sensibilities that made her such a star in the first place.

That's not to say "Feels Like Home" is perfect. The only time the album really gets off kilter is when Crow comes off as trying too hard to be country. Thankfully, this is few an far between. Her twang sounds affected on "Crazy Ain't Original" and "We Oughtta Be Drinkin". Also, the later song, along with the lead single "Easy", appear to be little more than heavy-handed bids for radioplay. A couple of the tracks also get rather heavy handed in terms of social commentary.

"Homecoming Queen" perfectly encapsultates modern country music all the while retaining Crow's musical identity and sense of style. The great confessional "Homesick" would have been at home on any of her early records, and sounds akin to "The Difficult Kind". "Nobody's Business" and "Best of Times" could easily have been placed on any of her records and no one would be any the wiser.

Another track, "Waterproof Mascara", goes further back into country's roots that most contemporary country does, and would have been at home on an early Loretta Lynn or Dolly Parton record. Lines like ""Thank God they make waterproof mascara/'Cause it won't run like his Daddy did," is much more akin to classic country from the 1960s-1980s then anything Nashville is producing now. Unlike "Crazy", "Easy," and "We Oughtta Be Drinkin'", Crow makes "Waterproof Mascara" her own, even though it's the biggest example of Crow turning in her pop-star cred for a cowboy hat and boots. She really gets into the emotional center of that song. "Waterproof Mascara" could easily have been just another caricature of a typical country song; as it stands, that song is one of the album's highlights.

Other times, though, she taps into some relatable, blue-collar cliches that come off as rather condescending. Unlike Bruce Springsteen, who could really nail the trials and tribulations of the working class and sound deeply authentic, when you hear Crow sing about being a poor, white trash country girl, you have a hard time believing that. These moments represent the album's biggest stumbling blocks. Sheryl Crow has always had an air of the cosmopolitan about her, which in the country market is closest akin to The Dixie Chicks. They ditched their original lead singer, drafted Natalie, renamed themselves The Dixie Chicks from the Dixie Chickens, and the rest is history. Their type of audience is much more likely to be coffee-house types than the deeply redneck, shot-gun toting stereotypical white trash. Likewise, Sheryl's music feels more at home on a high class café with a hundred different wines and cheeses than a country bar with the Confederate Flag on prominent display.

Despite the sometimes effected twang and occasional self-conscious "Look at Me, I'm doig Country!" song , "Feels Like Home" could just as have easily been a followup to "The Globe Sessions" or "C'Mon, C'Mon".

Crow has always had a lot of similarities with the country genre, even with her pop sensibilities. Unlike "100 Miles to Memphis" and its emphasis on soul, "Feels Like Home" never feels simply like a genre experiment. Too her immense credit, "Feels Like Home" sounds like a natural extension of who Sheryl is as an artist and only seldomly feels forced.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 1, 2014 5:52 PM GMT

Made In California
Made In California
Price: £100.38

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A worthy successor to "Good Vibration" and great (but not perfect) capstone to 50th Anniversary!, 10 Sept. 2013
This review is from: Made In California (Audio CD)
"Made in California" is , a gorgeous, six CD set, 473 minutes of audio and a massiave 174 tracks. The box set also features 60 previously unreleased tracks (including 17 live tracks) The box self is a follow up to the 1993 career spanning boxset set of "Good Vibrations". The box set also contains a 1959 essay by Brian Wilson entitled "My Philosophy". Like "Good Vibrations", "Made in California" follows the band's career chronologically with the exception of the very last "From the Vaults" disk.

A major draw of any such archival project as this are the unreleased tracks. Of the 60 rare tracks, there are several, legitimately rare, unreleased recordings, with the key tracks being "Goin' To The Beach," "California Feelin'," "Soul Searchin'," "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling," and "You're Still A Mystery". However, the majority of the tracks comprise of instrumental tracks, alternate mixes, vocal sessions, radio spots, and a lot of live recordings.

None of the unreleased material is quite as important or on the same par as the unreleased material from "Good Vibrations" (which was largely due to the thirty minutes of "SMiLE" from Disk 2), but collectors will find some worthwhile stuff here. While the SMiLE recordings were always essential to the narrative of The Beach Boys, none of the unreleased songs here really change or add anything to their musical canon on the same scale. Also, given the cornucopia of music and sheer wealth of material we got on "The Smile Sessions", perhaps we had been a little spoiled.

But these concerns are largely nitpicking. More Beach Boys music is great, and while maybe not as stunning as the unreleased material from "Good Vibrations" or nearly as essential, the unreleased music of "Made in California" is pretty great stuff (even if some of the live stuff is iffy at times).

Of the 114 remaining tracks, you have a lot of the essential Beach Boy tracks, although for such an expansive collection, there are some key tracks missing, including "She Knows Me Too Well," "Getting Hungry," "Funky Pretty," and "You Need a Mess of Help to Stand Alone". Just be aware that even though this is key set there are still some rather inextricable omissions (which there always seems to be for whatever band)

Also, "Made in America" shows just how many times The Beach Boys' discography has been remastered over the years, with various tracks being remastered at various times, which can create an aural inconsistency over such a large set as this. There are mixes from 2003, 2007, 2009, 2012, and 2013.

For example, "Salt Lake City" is a 2001 Stereo mix, "Let Him Run Wild" is a 2007 stero mix and "Graduation Day " is a 2007 stereo mix (Disk 2, tracks 5-8). "Barbara Ann" is a 2012 stereo mix. Five songs from "Pet Sounds" include four 1996 stereo mixes (an album which was famously mixed in mon) as well as one 2001 stereo mix. Although the set is arranged chronologically, we are getting mixes that range from the original releases to mixes (of which there are several) done as late as 2012! Oddly enough, there is also a stereo mix of "Heroes and Villians" and "Wonderful" from the 1967 "Smiley Smile" album that are 2012. Given the massive "The Smile Sessions" of 2011, not sure why they were still mixing in 2012.

In terms of The Beach Boys' career, since 2011, Beach Boy fans have been in something of a Paradise, a full on celebration of the Wilson brothers, cousins, and everyone's favorite surfer dudes. 2011 saw the release of the infamous "The SMiLE Sessions" with "finished version" of the album (well, as finished as SMiLE can be, given how incomplete several of the recordings are). In 2012, the band marked their 50th anniversary with a new (and fantastic) album (!!!) called "That's Why God Made the Radio", along with a great live summer tour.

"That's Why God Made the Radio" marks the first time Brian Wilson recorded with the 1988 "Still Cruisin'" project that produced "Kokomo". However, "Still Cruisin'" featured several re-recordings of their 1960s material along with a few new tracks. It was also the first original studio album by the band since the critically panned "Summer In Paradise" from 1992 (twenty years previously), where they sounded little more than a parody of themselves and even had John Stamos in his Full House Uncle Jesse personae singing lead on the 1969 classic "Forever". They also did a country covers album where they are little more than a backing band to various current country acts on the 1996 "Stars and Stripes Forever Vol 1". While better than "Summer in Paradise", the last side about "Stars and Stripes" the better. Thankfully they had the good sense not to issue a Vol 2.

All that being said, for Beach Boy fans, they had precious little in terms of new material from the band for over two decades. Thankfully, though, the 50th anniversary really united the band and gave them a common drive, which is good, given how dysfunctional they have been throughout the entirety of their career (keeping up with who was suing who in the Beach Boys camp was like trying to predict the on any given day who Van Halen's lead singer was going to be). Closing out the celebrations is "Made in California"

For those wanting to really get into The Beach Boys, you may be better served by going with "Pet Sounds" first or "SMiLE", as this set represents a significant investment. The unreleased stuff will largely appeal only to collectors (with a few key exceptions). However, for those wanting to pick up a bunch of Beach Boys in a very nice set that is career-spanning, this is a better choice than "Good Vibrations", especially since the main draw of "Good Vibrations" (the "SMiLE" recordings) has been completely negated with "The SMiLE Sessions.

Overall, even given the somewhat inconsequential nature of some of the outtakes and omissions of some key tracks, "Made in California" is a great way to end the 50th Anniversary celebration of the Wilson family's legacy.

CD 1 (1961-1965)
Home Recordings / "Surfin'" Rehearsal Highlights (2012 Edit - Mono) (Brian Wilson, Mike Love)
"Surfin'" (with Session Intro - Mono) (B. Wilson, Love)
"Their Hearts Were Full of Spring" (Demo - Mono) (Bobby Troup)
"Surfin' Safari" (Original Mono Long Version) (B. Wilson, Love)
"409" (Original Mono Long Version) (B. Wilson, Love, Gary Usher)
"Lonely Sea" (Original Mono Mix) (B. Wilson, Usher)
"Surfin' U.S.A." (B. Wilson, Chuck Berry)
"Shut Down" (2003 Stereo Mix) (B. Wilson, Love, Roger Christian)
"Surfer Girl" (B. Wilson)
"Little Deuce Coupe" (B. Wilson, Christian)
"Catch a Wave" (B. Wilson, Love)
"Our Car Club" (B. Wilson, Love)
"Surfers Rule" (with Session Intro) (B. Wilson, Love)
"In My Room" (B. Wilson, Usher)
"Back Home" (B. Wilson, Bob Norberg)
"Be True to Your School" (Mono Single Version) (B. Wilson, Love)
"Ballad of Ole' Betsy" (B. Wilson, Christian)
"Little Saint Nick" (Stereo Single Version) (B. Wilson, Love)
"Fun, Fun, Fun" (New Stereo Mix) (B. Wilson, Love)
"Little Honda" (B. Wilson, Love)
"Don't Worry Baby" (2009 Stereo Mix) (B. Wilson, Christian)
"Why Do Fools Fall in Love" (2009 Stereo Mix) (Morris Levy, Frankie Lymon)
"The Warmth of the Sun" (B. Wilson, Love)
"I Get Around" (with Session Intro - Mono) (B. Wilson, Love)
"Wendy" (2007 Stereo Mix) (B. Wilson, Love)
"All Summer Long" (2007 Stereo Mix) (B. Wilson, Love)
"Girls on the Beach" (B. Wilson, Love)
"Don't Back Down" (B. Wilson, Love)
"When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)" (2012 Stereo Mix) (B. Wilson, Love)
"All Dressed Up for School" (Mono) (B. Wilson)
"Please Let Me Wonder" (2007 Stereo Mix) (B. Wilson, Love)
"Kiss Me, Baby" (2000 Stereo Mix) (B. Wilson, Love)
"In the Back of My Mind" (2012 Stereo Mix) (B. Wilson, Love)
"Dance, Dance, Dance" (2003 Stereo Mix) (B. Wilson, Love, Carl Wilson)

CD 2 (1965-1967)
"Do You Wanna Dance" (2012 Stereo Mix) (Bobby Freeman)
"Help Me, Rhonda" (Mono Single Version) (B. Wilson, Love)
"California Girls" (2002 Stereo Mix) (B. Wilson, Love)
"Amusement Parks USA" (Early Version) (B. Wilson, Love)
"Salt Lake City" (2001 Stereo Mix) (B. Wilson, Love)
"Let Him Run Wild" (2007 Stereo Mix) (B. Wilson, Love)
"Graduation Day" (Session Excerpt and Master Take, 2012 Mix) (Joe Sherman, Noel Sherman)
"The Little Girl I Once Knew" (Mono) (B. Wilson)
"There's No Other (Like My Baby)" (2012 "Unplugged" Mix with Party Session Intro) (Phil Spector, Leroy Bates)
"Barbara Ann" (2012 Stereo Mix) (Fred Fassert)
Radio Spot "Wonderful KYA" (Mono)
"Sloop John B" (1996 Stereo Mix) (trad arr. B. Wilson, Al Jardine)
"Wouldn't It Be Nice" (2001 Stereo Mix) (B. Wilson, Love, Tony Asher)
"God Only Knows" (1996 Stereo Mix) (B. Wilson, Asher)
"I Just Wasn't Made for These Times" (1996 Stereo Mix) (B. Wilson, Asher)
"Caroline, No" (1996 Stereo Mix) (B. Wilson, Asher)
"Good Vibrations" (Mono) (B. Wilson, Love)
"Our Prayer" (2012 The Smile Sessions Stereo Mix) (B. Wilson)
"Heroes and Villains: Part 1" (The Smile Sessions Mix - Mono) (B. Wilson, Van Dyke Parks)
"Heroes and Villains: Part 2" (The Smile Sessions Mix - Mono) (B. Wilson)
"Vega-Tables" (The Smile Sessions Stereo Mix) (B. Wilson, Parks)
"Wind Chimes" (The Smile Sessions Stereo Mix) (B. Wilson)
"The Elements: Fire (Mrs. O'Leary's Cow)" (The Smile Sessions Mix - Mono) (B. Wilson)
"Cabin Essence" (The Smile Sessions Mix - Mono) (B. Wilson, Parks)
"Heroes and Villains" (2012 Stereo Mix) (B. Wilson, Parks)
"Wonderful" (2012 Stereo Mix) (B. Wilson, Parks)
"Country Air" (2012 Stereo Mix) (B. Wilson, Love)
"Wild Honey" (2012 Stereo Mix) (B. Wilson, Love)

CD 3 (1967-1971)
"Darlin'" (2012 Stereo Mix) (B. Wilson, Love)
"Let the Wind Blow" (2001 Stereo Mix) (B. Wilson, Love)
"Meant for You" (Alternate Version) (B. Wilson, Love)
"Friends" (B. Wilson, C. Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Jardine)
"Little Bird" (D. Wilson, Steve Kalinich)
"Busy Doin' Nothin'" (B. Wilson)
"Sail Plane Song" (2012 Stereo Mix) (B. Wilson)
"We're Together Again" (2012 Stereo Mix) (Ron Wilson)
Radio Spot "Murray the K" (Mono)
"Do It Again" (2012 Stereo Mix) (B. Wilson, Love)
"Ol' Man River" (Vocal Section) (Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein II)
"Be with Me" (D. Wilson)
"I Can Hear Music" (Spector/Jeff Barry/Ellie Greenwich)
"Time to Get Alone" (B. Wilson)
"I Went to Sleep" (B. Wilson)
"Can't Wait Too Long" (A Cappella) (B. Wilson)
"Break Away" (Alternate Version) (B. Wilson, Murry Wilson)
"Celebrate the News" (D. Wilson)
"Cotton Fields (The Cotton Song)" (Single Version, 2001 Stereo Mix) (Huddie Ledbetter)
"Susie Cincinnati" (2012 Mix) (Jardine)
"Good Time" (B. Wilson, Jardine)
"Slip on Through" (D. Wilson)
"Add Some Music to Your Day" (B. Wilson, Love, Joe Knott)
"This Whole World" (B. Wilson)
"Forever" (D. Wilson, Gregg Jakobson)
"It's About Time" (D. Wilson, C. Wilson, Jardine, Bob Burchman)
"Soulful Old Man Sunshine" (B. Wilson, Rick Henn)
"Fallin' in Love" (2009 Stereo Mix) (D. Wilson)
"Sound of Free" (Mono Single Version) (D. Wilson, Love)
"'Til I Die" (B. Wilson)
"Surf's Up" (1971 album version) (B. Wilson, Parks)

CD 4 (1971-1979)
"Don't Go Near the Water" (Love, Jardine)
"Disney Girls (1957)" (Bruce Johnston)
"Feel Flows" (C. Wilson, Jack Rieley)
"(Wouldn't It Be Nice To) Live Again" (D. Wilson, Stan Shapiro)
"Marcella" (B. Wilson, Rieley, Tandyn Almer)
"All This Is That" (Jardine, C. Wilson, Love)
"Sail On, Sailor" (B. Wilson, Parks, Rieley, Almer, Ray Kennedy)
"The Trader" (C. Wilson, Rieley)
"California Saga: California" (single version) (Jardine)
"Rock and Roll Music" (2012 Mix w/Extra Verse)(Berry)
"It's OK" (Alternate Mix) (B. Wilson, Love)
"Had to Phone Ya" (B. Wilson, Love)
"Let Us Go on This Way" (B. Wilson, Love)
"I'll Bet He's Nice" (B. Wilson)
"Solar System" (B. Wilson)
"The Night Was So Young" (B. Wilson)
"It's Over Now" (Alternate Mix) (B. Wilson)
"Come Go with Me" (Clarence Quick)
"California Feelin'" (B. Wilson, Kalinich)
"Brian's Back" (Alternate Mix) (Love)
"Good Timin'" (B. Wilson, C. Wilson)
"Angel Come Home" (C. Wilson, Geoffrey Cushing-Murray)
"Baby Blue" (D. Wilson, Jakobson, Karen Lamm)
"It's a Beautiful Day" (Single Edit) (2012 Mix) (Jardine, Love)
"Goin' to the Beach" (Love)

CD 5 (1980-2012)
"Goin' On" (B. Wilson, Love)
"Why Don't They Let Us Fall In Love" (Spector, Barry, Greenwich)
"Da Doo Ron Ron" (Spector, Barry, Greenwich)
"Getcha Back" (Love, Terry Melcher)
"California Dreamin'" (John Phillips, Michelle Phillips)
"Kokomo" (Love, Phillips, Melcher, Scott McKenzie)
"Soul Searchin'" (B. Wilson, Andy Paley)
"You're Still a Mystery" (B. Wilson, Paley)
"That's Why God Made The Radio" (B. Wilson, Joe Thomas, Larry Millas, Jim Peterik)
"Isn't It Time (Single Version) (B. Wilson, Love, Thomas, Millas, Peterik)
The Beach Boys Live[edit source | editbeta]
"Runaway" (Chicago 1965, with Concert Promo Intro - Mono) (Del Shannon, Max Crook)
"You're So Good to Me" (Paris 1966 - Mono) (B. Wilson, Love)
"The Letter" (Hawaii Rehearsal 1967) (Wayne Carson Thompson)
"Friends" (Chicago 1968 - Mono) (B. Wilson, C. Wilson, D. Wilson, Jardine)
"Little Bird" (Chicago 1968 - Mono) (D. Wilson, Kalinich)
"All I Want to Do" (London 1968) (D. Wilson, Kalinich)
"Help Me, Rhonda" (New Jersey 1972) (B. Wilson, Love)
"Wild Honey" (New Jersey 1972) (B. Wilson, Love)
"Only with You" (New York 1972) (D. Wilson, Love)
"It's About Time" (Chicago 1973) (D. Wilson, C. Wilson, Jardine, Burchman)
"I Can Hear Music" (Maryland 1975) (Spector, Barry, Greenwich)
"Vegetables" (New York 1993) (B. Wilson, Parks)
"Wonderful" (New York 1993) (B. Wilson, Parks)
"Sail On, Sailor" (Louisville 1995) (B. Wilson, Parks, Rieley, Almer, Kennedy)
"Summer in Paradise" (London 1993) (Love, Melcher, Craig Fall)

CD 6 (From the Vaults)
Radio Spot (1966 -- Mono)
"Slip on Through" (A Cappella Mix) (D. Wilson)
"Don't Worry Baby" (Stereo Session Outtake w/ Alternate Lead Vocal) (B. Wilson, Christian)
"Pom Pom Play Girl" (Vocal Session Highlight) (B. Wilson, Usher)
"Guess I'm Dumb" (Instrumental Track w/Background Vocals) (B. Wilson, Russ Titelman)
"Sherry She Needs Me" (1965 Track w/1976 Vocal) (B. Wilson)
"Mona Kana" (Instrumental Track) (D. Wilson)
"This Whole World" (A Cappella) (B. Wilson)
"Where Is She" (B. Wilson)
"Had to Phone Ya" (Instrumental Track) (B. Wilson)
"SMiLE Backing Vocals Montage" (from The Smile Sessions) (B. Wilson)
"Good Vibrations" (Stereo Track Sections) (B. Wilson)
"Be with Me" (Demo) (D. Wilson)
"I Believe in Miracles" (Vocal Section)
"Why" (Instrumental Track) (B. Wilson)
"Barnyard Blues" (D. Wilson)
"Don't Go Near the Water" (Instrumental Track) (Love, Jardine)
"You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" (Spector, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil)
"Transcendental Meditation" (Instrumental Track) (B. Wilson, Jardine)
"Our Sweet Love" (Vocals w/Strings) (B. Wilson, C. Wilson, Jardine)
"Back Home" (1970 Version) (B. Wilson, Norberg)
"California Feelin'" (Original Demo) (B. Wilson, Kalinich)
"California Girls" ("Lei'd In Hawaii" Studio Version) (B. Wilson, Love)
"Help You, Rhonda" ("Lei'd In Hawaii" Studio Version) (B. Wilson, Love)
"Surf's Up" (1967 Version, 2012 The Smile Sessions Mix) (B. Wilson, Parks)
"My Love Lives On" (D. Wilson)
Radio Spot (1964 - Mono)
"Wendy" (BBC -- Live in the Studio 1964 - Mono) (B. Wilson, Love)
"When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)" (BBC -- Live in the Studio 1964 - Mono) (B. Wilson, Love)
"Hushabye" (BBC -- Live in the Studio 1964 - Mono) (B. Wilson, Love)
Carl Wilson: Coda (2013 Edit)

Songs From St Somewhere
Songs From St Somewhere
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £10.47

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A strong album from St. Jimmy, better than 2009's "Buffett Hotel", 10 Sept. 2013
This review is from: Songs From St Somewhere (Audio CD)
"Songs From St. Somehwere" is Jimmy Buffett's 29th studio album. Recorded over a period four years, this is Jimmy's first album since the 2009 "Buffett Hotel", with nearly a four year time gap between the two records. The only other gap between Buffett albums which is longer is the five years intervening between the 1989 "Off to See the Lizard" and 1994 "Fruit Cakes". The album is a fine (but not perfect), later day Buffett LP. For those who have been criticizing his vocals, honestly I don't have any complaints; they sound pretty good to me.

I was talking with a friend the other day and told him I was listening to Buffet's new one. He made the comment that Buffett is cliche by this point, and I said he may be "cliche", but he's damned good cliche, to which my friend agreed. By this point, just like new music from Sammy Hagar and Kiss, you know what you are going to get with a new Jimmy Buffett album. I've always maintained that there is a lot more to Buffett than his detractors allow for, and while admittedly there is a lot of chaff among the wheat, Buffett is far richer musically than the critics typically want to acknowledge. He's a first rate singer-songwriter, and while often times his more iffy material is written expressely for his fans (not that there is anything wrong with that), he has a lot of great songs those who only know him for "Margarativille" an "Cheeseburger in Paradise" would never even dream of.

"Songs From St. Somewhere" is just such an example. He is boistrous and boozy, but beneath the typical "cliche" Buffett personae, Buffett shows his skills. There are enough odd detours in "Songs From St. Somewhere" to keep the album from being just another by-the-numbers Buffett album. This particular album throws a few more curve balls than is Jimmy's wont, compared to the last few albums from everyone's favorite parrothead.

"Songs from St. Somewhere" sports story songs ("Earl's Dead - Cadillac for Sale"), a topical track ("I'm No Russian", which about Pussy Riot), ballads ("I Wave Bye Bye", "Soulfully", "Colour of the Sun"), and party tracks ("I'm Too Drunk to Karaoke", a duet with Toby Keith). There is also the latest addition to Jimmy's nautical-themed canon, the superb "Tides", a song which stands proudly with the best of his 1970s' material. He gets memorably weird on "Einstien Was a Surfer" and "I'm No Russian". Jimmy, whose first surf song was written for the late career 2009 "Buffett Hotel" (!!!), appears to be making up for lost time, referencing surfing in several tracks, and explores circus/carnival themes that he first introduced in his work with the "Big Top" track. He writes a superb surfer songs, and it is rather puzzling, given Jimmy's penchant for the Island, Margarativille lifestyle that he is so late in the game in regards to surfer tunes.

We also see Buffett showing his more mellow, contemplative side. Overall, with only one exception (the Toby Keith duet), the music is by and large much more mellow than I was expecting, given the 2009 "Buffett Hotel" and the 2006 "Take the Weather With You". Of the fifteen tracks, eight tracks are firmly rooted in that low-key, more ballad-driven songwriting style. Even the faster, more up-tempo songs have a stripped down sound to them.

Buffett deals with his mortality they way only he can in the last song, "Oldest Surfer on the Beach". I was very surprised to see that Mark Knopfler wrote this song and not Buffett. As Buffett says in the song, he's stopped looking for perfection, and the only thing that matters is the here and now, with time being much more precious to him than in previous years in his life. The song ends with the waters crashing upon the surf. If Jimmy passed without ever releasing another record, this song would be the perfect ending to his career.

For sixty six, Buffett's vocal prowess is largely unchanged in the last twenty years, and personally I enjoyed his singing on this one, although I know some have complained on this particular effort. He does talk through some of the tracks, but honestly I don't really see much difference between this and any of the other albums he's done since 1994.

There is a naturally dividing line in Jimmy's career, marked by the five year gap between "Off to See the Lizard" and "Fruit Cakes" and the appearance of the 1992 boxset "Boats, Beaches, Bars, and Ballads". The records post "B, B, B, B", like the string of Dylan records starting with "Time Out of Mind" and continuing with "Love and Theft", "Modern Times", "Together Through Life", and "Tempest", sound aurally [as] that they share a lot more songwriting DNA with each other than Buffett's albums from 1973-1989. "Songs From St. Somewhere" fits in nicely with "Banana Wind" and "Barometer Soup", and reminds me most of those two records than anything else from Jimmy's output. Even the cover art is reminiscent of that era. If you like those two mid 1990s LPs, you should really enjoy this one.

For this Parrothead, I personally find "Songs From St. Somewhere" quite the satisfying listen, and another solid addition to his post 1989 catalogue. While Jimmy's records can be uneven at times, Buffett has had a very strong run of albums from 1994-2013, and "Songs from St. Somewhere" stands proudly with his best work from this period, despite the obnoxious, out-of-place duet with ol' Toby. And for my money, overall I find this a much more satisfying listen than the 2009 "Buffett Hotel". Things keep looking up on Jimmy's island!

1. "Somethin' 'Bout A Boat" (written by Django Walker, Dave Berg, Patrick Davis, Jedd Hughes, James Otto, Eric Paslay - 2:44): a simple ditty, sounds tailor made for Jimmy. Thematically works well for Jimmy's type of music, but not one of my personal favorites.

2. "Einstein Was A Surfer" (Jimmy Buffett, Mac McAnally, 4:41): Probably my personal favorite off the album. Love the melody and the instrumentation on this one. Despite the rather ludicrous sounding title, lyrically Jimmy and Mac McAnally are at the top of their game here. The song acts as a meditation about Einstein's genius and relating said genius to surfing/sailing.

3. "Earl's Dead - Cadillac For Sale" (Buffett, 5:41) - a story-song about a circus carnie and his love affair with his woman, as well as the titular Cadillac. Reminds me of such songs as "Frank an Lola" from "Last Mango in Paris", "Ballad of Skip Wiley" from the 1995 "Barometer Soup", and "Jamaica Mistaica" from "Bannana Wind". "Earl's Dead' ties in nicely to Jimmy's story-telling approach that would garner him some best selling fiction.

4. "Too Drunk To Karaoke" (with Toby Keith) (Shawn Camp, Pat McLaughin, Buffett, McAnally, 4:02): the duet with Toby Keith. In 2003, Jimmy Buffett scored a massive hit with Alan Jackson on the song "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere"*, and has been mining CMT territory ever since, with this song simply being the latest offering. He even did an entire album aimed squarely at the country market (the 2003 "License to Chill"). Like "Ignoreland" on R.E.M.'s album "Automatic for the People", "Too Drunk to Karaoke" represents a vast failure in tone in comparison to the rest of the material on "Songs from St. Somewhere". Loud, drunk, with a bland melody and poorly "sung" by both Toby and Jimmy, this song was clearly added to sell unites, and is VERY incongrouous with the other songs here. While certainly cringe-worthy, this song is nowhere NEAR as embarrassing as "Math Sux" from the 1999 "Beach House on the Moon". "I'm A Piece of Work", Jimmy's duet with Toby from "License to Chill" is better, but overall "Too Drunk" would have worked better on a similiar project or followup to that album than "Songs from St. Somewhere", where it sticks out like a sore thumb and disrupts the flow of the album. Still, I understand why Jimmy is tapping into that market and will make a good concert addition to his setlist. Jimmy proves he has been able to mine that type of modern country sound much more successfully with songs like "Bama Breeze" from "Take the Weather With You" and "Nobody From Nowhere" from "Buffett Hotel", so overall you just have to write this off as one of Jimmy's novelty tunes he is so fond of doing.

5. "Serpentine" (Buffett, McAnallym 4:43) is a great ballad, and gets back into circus territory, though with much less colourful flair than "Earl's Dead".

6. "Useless But Important Information" (Buffett, McAnally 4:12): Jimmy's take on the information overload we all live through these days. There are some groan moments (rhyming Twitter with "s***ter"). The track is little more than an unofficial sequel to "Everybody's on the Phone" from "Take the Weather With You".

7. "I Want To Go Back To Cartagena" (Buffett, Peter Mayer, Roger Guth, Will Kimbrough 3:15) has a Spanish flair and captures Buffett's escapist songwriting at its peak. Buffett has said ""I sell escapism." This track is another in a long line of Buffett songs about escaping your life and disappearing into that Carribean sunset. Great song.

8. "Soulfully" (Kimbrough, 3:16), which has the same melody as "Louisana", invokes (appropriately enough) that soul-music genre. This is the most bland track here (barring only "Something `Bout a Boat"), but still pretty decent.

9. "Rue De La Guitare" (Buffett, 3:23) a great accoustic song which is an ode to Jimmy's guitar, as well as homage to Paris. Reminds me of the similiarly themed ""Tonight I Just Need My Guitar" from the 2002 "Far Side of the World", married with the fantastic French song "Chanson pour les petits enfants" from the 1979 "Volcano".

10. "I'm No Russian" (Buffett, 6:40), along with "Too Durnk to Karaoke", appears to be one of the tracks most singled out for criticism. Although I understand the objections to the former, "I'm No Russian" is rather memorable. Although somewhat topical, the song strongly reminds me of "Autour de Rocher" 8:05 ("Far Side of the World"), "Wheel Inside the Wheel" (Mary Gauthier) 7:01, and the title cut to "Buffet Hotel" (6:00). All of the tracks find Jimmy in some unchartered territory. As far as topical songs go, this is SO MUCH BETTER than "A Lot To Drink About" from "Buffett Hotel", which is as dated as Neil Young's "Living With War".

11. "Tides" (Buffett, Guth, 4:12): Brilliant. Honestly, if this song was unearthed as an unreleased outtake to one of his classic 1970s or early 1980s LPs, I wouldn't be surprised in the least. For the fans of his older material, this will undoubtedly be a highlight.

12. "The Rocket That Grandpa Rode" (Buffett, McAnally, Kimbrough, Mayer, Guth, 4:02)**: Jimmy's tribute to Neil Armstrong, NASA, and the Apollo moon landing. On July 8, 2011, Jimmy was among those invited to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the final launch of the space shuttle program. While traveling to the VIP viewing site by bus, Jimmy overheard Rick Armstrong, Neil's son, tell his children that the Vehicle Assembly Building was "that's where the rocket that grandpa rode was put together." Overhearing this, Buffett turned around, introduced himself, and said that statement sounded like a great idea for a song. Buffett also played a private concert for the NASA shuttle crews and personnel that day. Flying has always been important too Jimmy, and this is a great tribute to Armstrong. We also know clearly what side Jimmy falls into as far as the whole "moonlanding was faked" conspiracy theory. Jimmy does rather date himself, however, when he says that they let the kids out of school that day and includes himself by saying "we" in that tally. In 1969, Jimmy was twenty two, so not sure what school he was going out of. Probably bar-tending training.

13. "I Wave Bye Bye" (Jesse Winchester, 3:19) is a rendition of a Jesse Winchester lost at sea love song. Don't particularly care for this one honestly.

14. "Colour Of The Sun" (Buffett, McAnally, Mayer, Guth, 3:48): "Even the worst of beaches will never let you down." Pretty much sums this ballad up. Think "Barefoot Children". A highlight, like "Tides".

15. "The Oldest Surfer On The Beach" (Mark Knopfler 4:17): a surfer's look at old age. We now have a pirate's look at forty and a surfer's look at the geriatric stage of life.

16. "I Want To Go Back To Cartagena" (Spanish Version, 3:12): a bonus track, with "Cartegena" reworked with more Spanish and featuring Fanny Lu. Pretty much identitical with the first version with the only significance differences being the addition of Fanny Lu

*Jimmy's first duet with Alan Jackson is actually Alan's cover of "Margarativille" for th 1999 Jackon record, "Under the Influence".

**Jimmy Buffett also paid homage to Armstrong on his August 25, 2012 concert, the day Neil died. Jimmy told those in attendance: "We lost a great flyer in America today. Neil Armstrong passed away, the man on the moon. As you know, flying has been an inspiration in my life the whole time, so I'd like to send this off to Neil Armstrong's family tonight. It's a little thing called 'Oysters and Pearls' and he certainly was a pearl." He added a special stanza to the song that night: ""Neil Armstrong walked upon the moon, and now he has gone to heaven."

New Super Luigi U (Nintendo Wii U)
New Super Luigi U (Nintendo Wii U)

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great, if atypical, addition to Mario platformers, 2 Sept. 2013
"New Super Luigi U" is downloadable content for "New Super Mario Bros. U", staring Luigi rather than Mario. Two months after its first appearance in the Nintendo eShop, priced at $19.99, Nintendo has released the game as a retail boxed version at $29.99, ten dollars more. The DLC version requires you to have the "New Super Mario Bros. U" disk in the Wii U to play this extra content. Obviously, the boxed version can be played as a stand-alone title.

Please note: Mario does not appear at all as a playable character. After beating the game, you can play as Luigi using the standard physics of his brother.

To put it kindly, the Wii U has had a rough first year. The sales have simply not been there, and Nintendo is fighting tooth and nail to get the install base up for their new machine. One of the key factors has been lack of software titles. Nintendo skipped the full blown dog and pony show of E3, instead issuing a Nintendo Direct (an online presentation of the new software titles that the company was launching). In April 2013, we first learned about "New Super Luigi U", a full blown game starring Luigi. To say we were surprised due to "New Super Mario Bros. U" had jut launched November 2012 is putting it lightly.

However, this isn't the whole story. "New Super Luigi U" straddles the fence between a "brand new game" and an extensive "downloadable content" addition to an already existing game. I personally believe we have gotten a retail version of "NSLU" for a two fold purpose: this DLC is long enough to merit a stand-alone release, and, much more importantly, acts as a stop-gap release in preparation for the all important Christmas season for the admittedly very slim library of Wii U games that have been available in its first year.

While Nintendo has first issued DLC for the 3DS "New Super Mario Bros. 2" title, this content was largely confined to brief level packs. With "New Super Luigi U", which has been available as a digital download since July, is completely unprecedented in Nintendo's (admittedly very brief) history of DLC: far from being brief level editions, this game is a whole new compaign staring Luigi, perfectly in key for Nintendo's Year of Luigi which is what they have dubbed 2013.

For new purchasers, let's define what this game is specifically.

WHAT IT IS: A four player game, starring Luigi, two Toads, and Nabbit. Nabbit is invincible and impervious too any damage and cannot take power ups. The game features the exact same world map as "New Super Mario Bros U"; however, all the levels have been reworked and almost all of them start with only 99 seconds. Luigi's physics have been reworked, making him floaty in terms of his jumping and very loose, slippy traction. Due to the time limit, you have to move quickly through the levels. While four players, the levels here are claustraphobic in nature with more than two players, because of how quickly you must beat them (especially for levels where ground is at a premium). While four player mode has been chaotic in the Wii and Wii U "New Super Mario Bros." games, it is even more frustratingly difficult in "NSLU" due to short level times and the deeply increased challenge of the levels in comparison to the other two Mario games.

WHAT IT IS NOT: a full-fledged, brand new game staring Luigi.. People are comparing this too "Super Mario Bros 2: The Lost Levels" and the original "Super Mario Bros.". This analogy simply does not hold water. While "The Lost Levels" was little more than a mission pack sequel to the original; this title does not feel or play like a true sequel to "New Super Mario Bros. U", largely due to the brief running times of the levels (99 seconds) and the fact that, although the game has been released as a stand-alone title, this is first and foremost DLC (granted, very expansive DLC, the likes of which we have never seen from Nintendo). Also, given the identical world map, the game plays simply like a reimagined campaign mode for the first game. What also should be noted is this game, unlike "NSMBU", contains no extra modes and features only the 82 levels of the world map as playable content.

Likewise, the price point of this first party Wii U game (29.99 instead of the usual 50-60 dollar range) tells us "New Super Luigi U" is not on the same playing field as Nintendo's other first-party titles. Mario games are famous for keeping their MRSP (or close too it) for years after their initial release, especially Mario titles. "Super Mario Galaxy" and "The Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess" did not become noticeably cheaper until the red-cased "Nintendo Choice" games of 2011-2013, four to five years after the release of these games.

Another thing to be noted is challenge. The game's difficulty ramps up from the very beginning, and it is clear even in the opening levels that the developers are designing this content for more experienced players. Such unrelenting difficulty (spread throughout the entire duration of the game's playing time) has not been seen since "Super Mario Bros. 2: The Lost Levels". Mario, obviously, is Nintendo's bread and butter, and while the Mario games can be challenging, over all they are widely accessible to players of all skill levels. Such skill level required, consistently maintained at such a high mark throughout the entire duration of the game's worlds, would simply never be considered by Nintendo on a mainstream Mario game, as that would drive away many potential customers and would somewhat hamper the impeccable Mairo brand.

Like Greenland as the largest island in the world (but not a continent), "New Super Luigi U." blurs that perhaps hard to define level between new game and simple DLC. For reasons already outlined, Nintendo has released this has a stand-alone title, but buyers should be aware that this game will not have the same amount of hours as its parent title, due to the intentionally brief, speed running design of the levels.

For those expecting a full-fledged sequel to "New Super Mario Bros U." will find this disappointing to some degree. For those who go into the game expecting a brief, fun excursion as an extra campaign mode to an already existing title, they will find a lot to enjoy about the game. Just be aware the game is extremely challenging, and due to that increased challenge, the first "New Super Mario Bros U" game will be better if you are looking for four person multiplayer, or, better yet, wait for "Super Mario 3D World", which will feature four person multiplayer in a 3D Mario game for the first time ever!

Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin
Offered by SmokeCDs
Price: £39.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Necessary Companion to the first box set, 30 Aug. 2013
This review is from: Led Zeppelin (Audio CD)
[Throughout the years, I have written a number of reviews that have never been published online on Amazon. These writings comprise two types of reviews: unfinished reviews, abandoned during various stages of composition, and completed reviews that for life reasons were never posted. Of the later type, I wrote a review of Led Zeppelin's second box set. Now for the first time ever, over a decade after it was initially written, I am publishing that review, written in September 2001. Mike London 8-30-2013]

How essential is this set? It depends really. If you're content with the Box Set, then you should just stick with that. But let me warn you, throughout this 32 song set there are some real gems that make it mandatory as far as I am concerned. Some of these I'll include on the following list.

On Disc I we have the opener, Good Times Bad Times, which stands as one of my favorite Zeppelin songs, as well as Night Flight, That's the Way, Bron-Yr-Aur, and Black Mountain Slide, whilst on Disc II we have Black Country Woman, How Many More Times, The Rover, Four Sticks, Living Loving Maid, and Tea For One.

These songs are the ones played the most from this set on my stereo. The rest are rather hit and miss. Although I like the blues and I openly acknowledge the debt that much of rock'n'roll has to this genre, its never been my favorite. Songs like "You Shook Me" and "I Can't Quit You" require me to be in a certain mood to really want to listen to them. Its not something I'll just turn on, although, strangely enough, songs like "In My Time of Dying" and other bluesly material to me stands out. Page wisely left out Bonzo's Montreau and Moby Dick out of the previous set altogether, and instead combined them into just one. Although drummers deserve credit for their contribution (especially John Bonhom), drum solos don't do much for me (save the one in Iron Butterfly's one and only memorable song -- you know the one).

Tea for One, if it went on any longer, it would completly burn up your stereo wires, there's such an intensity of playing, and for me stands as one of the single best Zeppelin tracks out of their catalogue.

Donkey Kong (Nes Classics GBA)
Donkey Kong (Nes Classics GBA)

3.0 out of 5 stars STAY AWAY!, 30 Aug. 2013
By this point, most gamers have tried the original "Donkey Kong". While not quite as iconic as Pac-Man, "Donkey Kong" was effectively what put Nintendo on the map in the gaming industry, and the debut of a certain "Jump Man", who would later be renamed Mario. You may have heard of him. He went on to have a pretty successful career after this game.

So what is "Donkey Kong"? A giant ape who kidnaps Pauline (not Princess Peach), who Mario . . . er, Jump Man must rescue. Donkey Kong throws barrels at Jump Man. Jump Man must avoid the barrels, jump over other obstacles, climb ladders, etc, to get to the top of the screen and save the princess from the throes of Bowser . . . er . . . Donkey Kong!

What is notable about this game and other early pre-Famicom/NES titles was Nintendo was actually a third party. Once upon a time, in the early 1980s they licensed their IPs to other platforms at the very start of their foray into video games. Given the troubled fortunes of the Wii U during its initial launch cycle, and Nintendo President Saturo Iwata's adamant refusal to license out its IPs to tablet/smart phone devices, playing Mario and Donkey Kong on anything other than Nintendo hardware just seems bizarre, and that's because no one has played their Ips on non-Nintendo hardware (at least, legally), in decades.

One of my first experiences with Nintendo games was playing Donkey Kong and Mario Bros on the Atari 2600. In 1983 Nintendo and Atari were trying to broker a deal and when that fell thru they brought out the Famicom that year and the Pal/US equivalent (NES) in 1985. Before that though they did publish their games on the Atari and some other hardware.

The Gameboy Advance title in the Classic NES series is, appropriately enough, the NES version of Donkey Kong. The problem with the NES port is that it's only three levels, and is missing the fourth level that was exclusive to the arcade (which is the pie level).

By now, years after its release and the Gameboy Advance long superceded by Nintendo's subsequent handhelds, there is very little appeal in picking up this edition of "Donkey Kong". First, it's only three levels long and can literally be beaten in ten to twenty minutes, with the only appeal being to go for high scores (which was appropriate to the market in the early 1980s . . . but even by the late 1980s, people just didn't care about high scores).

Overall, the Classic NES series was fairly disappointing. With few exeptions (such as "The Legend of Zelda", "Zelda II: The Adventure of Link", and "Super Mario Bros."), Nintendo released (in America, anyway), mostly very short gameplay experiences. The Japanese "Famicom Mini" series had a much stronger lineup than the games we got in the West.

In terms of Donkey Kong, I would pick it up on the Virtual Console if you really want to play it. Do not waste your money on the Gameboy Advance version.

The Best of Van Halen, Vol.1
The Best of Van Halen, Vol.1
Price: £3.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Imperfect, but very influential in my own life!, 30 Aug. 2013
"Best of - Vol 1" is Van Halen's first compilation, featuring 17 tracks. There are eight Roth-era recordings (seven songs featuring his lead vocals and the guitar instrumental "Eruption"), six Hagar recordings, then three new recordings not found on their respective records ("Humans Being" from the 1995 "Twister" soundtrack, and two 1996 songs with Roth entitled "Can't Get This Stuff No More" and "Me Wise Magic". The initial pressings of this album is also notable for containing an alternate version of "Runnin' With the Devil" which features a different order of the verses, chorus and solos. Roth's little talk occurs a little before two minutes in, rather than toward the end of the song, which makes the first pressings of this compliation something of a rarity. Later pressings would have the correct form of the song.

Throughout my early life, there were certain pop-cultural artefacts that really shaped my interests, beliefs, memories, and how I would view the world. While that seems to be a pretty heavy statement on something as trivial as a Van Halen compilation, "Best of Vol 1" is deeply nostalagic to me, and was one of the starting points of my journey into music that extended far beyond my own initial generation, a journey that I am still delightfully on.

What is life, but what we experience? From a pop-cultural standpoint, video games such as "Super Mario World" and "Super Mario 64", music like Pearl Jam's "Ten", The Smashing Pumpkins' "Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness", books like Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit", all deeply coloured my growing up years, and so have that finely tuned aura of nostalgia which makes them so attractive to me today (besides the merits of the individual work).

My relationship with Van Halen waxed and waned over the years. I really got into them back in the late 1990s, and then found much of their music morally reprehensible (a view I still hold to some extent), but over the last few years they have risen again in my estimation, perhaps due to nostalgia to some extent. This was one of the first albums that really got me into the band, and I always thought they would issue "Vol 2" after they released the new album with Gary Cherone, which would certainly feature tracks from "Mach 3" (the rumoured name for what eventually became 1998's "Van Halen 3"). Unfortunately, they never released a "Vol 2".

My own personal history with this album goes back all the way to its initial release in 1996. That summer, my best friend had a copy of "5150" that he got from a CD club for two bucks. I remember sitting in the convenience store with him that his family owned, pouring over the lyrics and listening to that album. I thought they were a great band, and a total change of pace from the grunge/alternative that was dominating the radio waves at that time. It was the first time that I really looked at the lyrical content of an album, and I examined closely each of the nine tracks and then fully explained their meaning to my friend. Given the lyrical light-weight nature of Van Halen (and most rock bands for that matter), the fact that 5150 first turned me onto poetry now seems quite hilarious to me. This spark would then transform into full-blown obsession in 1997, when I first heard "The Doors", Jim Morrison & company's first album.

Then, shortly after my first encounter with "5150", my brother, who was in college at the time, got the record and let me listen too it. I was blown away and quickly delved head-long into their entire discography. I came from a strict Christian upbringing, and I was troubled by "Runnin' with the Devil." After all, why would anyone want to run with the devil when they can have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and spend eternity in heaven! On top of that, Roth breaks on of the Ten Commandments by taking the Lord's name in vain on the same track. We were supposed to stay away from all that "evil, secular rock and roll music". Not only that, one of their records, "Fair Warning", had a song glorifying the evils of pornography (Dirty Movies)!

Ironically enough, Van Halen became a "trinity" of hard rock bands that I really got into back in the 1990s, with the other two being Def Leppard and Journey. However, it was only Van Halen that I bought every single one of their albums, whereas my knowledge of the other two bands' discography contained massive gapes. In the intervening years I have heard all three band's complete studio oveure.

Not having the now legendary status often associated with "Eruption", I also remember being disappointed that they would waste space with a simple guitar solo instead of a full-fledged song. Chalk that up to youthful naivety. "Eruption" is anything BUT simple, and must be present on anyone Van Halen best of worth its salt. Obviously since 1996 I have learned of just how well renowned "Eruption" truly is, how perfectly it encapsulates Eddie's innovative style, and how influential that solo has been on the rock and roll industry and musicians.

Whatever initial reservations I had from a religious standpoint about the band, I was overcome by the power of their playing an their rock and roll charisma. Although memories fade, by the (very) late 1990s I know for certain that I had purchased all ten studio albums by the band, and I remember gazing at all the different albums listed in "Best. Of Vol 1", immensely curious about what wonders each new record would hold. Although I've forgotten the order, I'm pretty certain I had them all by the time "Van Halen III" came out in February 1998 (which I bought both the collector's tin edition which had a guitar pick and a metal case, the CD and even the cassette version).

I will always have a deeply sentimental attachment to this compilation. Looking back now [at this compliation] though, with personal history lain aside, I can tell there are some flaws, which didn't really register with me back in 1996 simply because back then I was just thrilled to experience the band for the first time.

There are numerous songs missing, and no songs from "Diver Down' (which Eddie always hated). Originally meant to be a two disk compliation, the band's management instead decided to go with a single disk, "Vol 1" approach and divide equal time among Hagar and Roth. Both singers would have been far better served had they gotten their own respective disk.

In 2004 the band did "Best of Both Worlds' with three new Hagar songs which where pretty good except for the dreadful "Up for Breakfast". However, this record was flawed due to the idiotic decision to alternate Roth and Hagar songs rather than give each their own disk, resulting in a VERY disjointed, jarring listening experience. On top of that, in what appeared to be a spite to Roth, they closed out that compilation with Hagar singing three Roth songs live. That album had a very petty feel to it, with the only pictures of Roth were the album covers, while Hagar was featured prominently.

Although some critics, noticably Stephen Erlwine, hated "Humans Being" though I for one always thought it was a great song. The "Twister" soundtrack also features an instrumental called "Respect the Wind", credited to Eddie and Alex Van Halen. The two "new" Roth songs showed the band still had their chops, and were released as promotional singles to attract attention to the new compliation. Ultimately, these songs would become a source of contention for much of the fanbase, after hearing "Van Halen 3". My brother loved both songs, and, being extremly disappointed in "Van Halen 3", kept saying they should get back with Roth based solely on the strength of these two tracks.

Both compilations exemply just how dysfunctional Van Halen truly is, and how bad the Van Halen brothers are at interpersonal relationships. 1996 found Eddie jetisoning Hagar as lead singer in March (Hagar got the news that he was fired holding his newly born daughter, Kama, in a Hawaii hospital; if you ask Eddie, Hagar left of his own volition). Hagar wanted to do a new record and wasn't happy with a greatest hits compilation in the first place, nor was he happy with "Humans Being" and "Respect the Wind" appearing on the "Twister" soundtrack. Then Roth appeared with Van Halen at the MTV awards and did these two new songs (which Hagar didn't know about), before he got axed himself. Then afterward the band was going to use singer Mitch Malloy (who was their official lead singer for all of two weeks, though recording, reportedly of Roth songs, have never surfaced) before settling on Cherone. We all know how that worked out. They even recorded a second album with Cherone, which remains completely unknown to this day. All of this, along with "Best of Both Worlds" and other reports, shows just what an ass Eddie Van Halen can be.

While not perfect, for those looking to really get into the band, I would argue that this is a better introduction than "Best of Both Worlds", mostly because of the bone-headed sequencing. From a sentimental, nostalgic standpoint, this will always be one of my favorites. I even wrote a several page poem called "The Journey", all about all the wondrous new music I was experience back in the late 1990s, of which [the album] Van Halen's work featured heavily, largely thanks to this very project.

1. "Eruption" - 1:42 (Michael Anthony, David Lee Roth, Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen)
(from Van Halen, 1978)
2. "Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love" - 3:47 (Anthony, Roth, Van Halen, Van Halen)
(from Van Halen, 1978)
3. "Runnin' with the Devil" - 3:32 (Anthony, Roth, Van Halen, Van Halen)
(from Van Halen, 1978)
4. "Dance the Night Away" - 3:04 (Anthony, Roth, Van Halen, Van Halen)
(from Van Halen II, 1979)
5. "And the Cradle Will Rock..." - 3:31 (Anthony, Roth, Van Halen, Van Halen)
(from Women and Children First, 1980)
6. "Unchained" - 3:27 (Anthony, Roth, Van Halen, Van Halen)
(from Fair Warning, 1981)
7. "Jump" - 4:04 (Anthony, Roth, Van Halen, Van Halen)
(from 1984, 1984)
8. "Panama" - 3:31 (Anthony, Roth, Van Halen, Van Halen)
(from 1984, 1984)
9. "Why Can't This Be Love" - 3:45 (Anthony, Sammy Hagar, Van Halen, Van Halen)
(from 5150, 1986)
10. "Dreams" - 4:54 (Anthony, Hagar, Van Halen, Van Halen)
(from 5150, 1986)
11. "When It's Love" - 5:36 (Anthony, Hagar, Van Halen, Van Halen)
(from OU812, 1988)
12. "Poundcake" - 5:22 (Anthony, Hagar, Van Halen, Van Halen)
(from For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, 1991)
13. "Right Now" - 5:21 (Anthony, Hagar, Van Halen, Van Halen)
(from For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, 1991)
14. "Can't Stop Lovin' You" - 4:08 (Anthony, Hagar, Van Halen, Van Halen)
(from Balance, 1995)
15. "Humans Being" - 5:14 (Anthony, Hagar, Van Halen, Van Halen)
(from Twister movie soundtrack, 1996)
16. "Can't Get This Stuff No More" - 5:16 (Anthony, Roth, Van Halen, Van Halen)
(new song, 1996)
17. "Me Wise Magic" - 6:09 (Anthony, Roth, Van Halen, Van Halen)
(new song, 1996)

Another Self Portrait (1969-1971): The Bootleg Series Vol. 10
Another Self Portrait (1969-1971): The Bootleg Series Vol. 10
Price: £44.99

9 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dylan shows just how important Americana music is to his own identity!, 28 Aug. 2013
[NOTICE: It has come to my attention there is an audible glitch on the 4th disk of the Deluxe version (which is the actual "Self Portrait" album remastered). 48 seconds into "Copper Kettle" (the best song on the original album, ironically enough) the track skips. This glitch has been present on other releases as well, notably the 1980s reissues. Apparently someone wrote in to Amazon to explain the glitch, and their answer was just mention it in their review so other people don't get stuck with the glitch! Mike London - 8-30-2013]

"Self Portrait" has always been one of Dylan's most inscrutable albums, which is saying a lot, as Dylan is notoriouslu difficult to pin-down to any one pre-defined image that his rapid fans (of which I happily count myself as one of them) or his famously troubled relationship with the rock press. Released in 1970, "Self Portrait" follows the very brief 1969 LP "Nashville Skyline", itself something of a head-scratcher for Dylan followers in the late 1960s. And make no mistake, the famed opening salvo of Greil Marcus's famous "Rolling Stone" review "What is this s--?" was by far the general consensus of "Self Portrait", with some going so far as to suggest that the breakup of The Beatles was the end of the 1960s, and Self Portrait was the end of Bob Dylan, effectively ending the two most potent musical forces in the 1960s counterculture.

The release itself is in two forms: a two disk set with 35 tracks, and a four disk set with the complete Isle of Wight on a third disk and a remastered version of the original album on the fourth disk. The four disk set is, like "The Bootleg Series Vol 8", cost prohibitive to own. The record comprises of "Nashville Skyline" outtakes, "New Morning" Outtakes, the long known but uncirculating "Only a Hobo" from the "Greatest Hits Vol III" sessions, and obviously "Self Portrait", with the lion share's going to SP. Despite its title, there is a Basement Tapes recording of "Minstrel Boy" from 1967 included, which from a recording sessions perspective is the single biggest revelation yet unveiled in "The Bootleg Series" - NO ONE knew that "Minstrel Boy" originated during the Basement Tapes era, let alone that a BT recording even existed! One disappointing fact is that some of the Isle of Wight performances appear on both Disk 2 and Disk 3 (if you get the deluxe version of this set) which creates unnecessary duplication of material.

Hyperbole aside, So what does "Another Self Portrait" tell us about the original "Self Portrait"? Simple. "Self Portrait" should have been far richer than its detractors will allow for, that it has a sever identity crisis, and that, of all Dylan's albums, it is a key to understanding and "unlocking" the "enigma" of who Dylan actually is (the answer - a musical chamaeleon, a cultural transmitter of pre-rock American musical forms who inputs little to none of his own identity in his work, only excepting his vast encyclopedic love of pre-rock traditions).

So, what is that identity crisis? Answer: "Self Portrait" falls somewhere in between a legitimate follow-up to "Nashville Skyline", a slight country album, and a wilfully perverse screw-you to his fans. This tension between a legitimate artistic statement and a "Leave me alone attitude!" makes the original release so fascinating. Listening to "Another Self Portrait" is revelatory - it's obvious that, listening to these outtakes, had the album been sequenced properly, we could have had a fantastic, cohesive Dylan album that, while radically from his 1960s' work, would have shown just how masterfully he was at interperting other people's work. "Another Self Portrait" also shows that, at least originally, the project began as a serious album, and not a red herring to throw off his followers.

As is typical with so much of Dylan's output, the outtakes say as much (and in the case of Self Portrait, MORE) about a particular album as the songs that actually make the final product. There is simply no reasonable explanation as to why songs like "Thirsty Boots", the stunning "Pretty Saro", "Annie's Going to Sing Her Song", and "Railroad Bill" did not make the final cut. Dylan's vocals are fantastic throughout; nuanced, compelling, hard-hitting.

Compare these tracks to what DID make the album: two versions of "Alberta" (itself a good song, but the takes aren't really that different to merit the inclusion of both), two different versions of "In Search of Little Sadie" (though with quite different arrangements), a double tracked version of Dylan dueting with himself on Paul Simon's "The Boxer", which is so bad it almost sounds like Dylan's doing a sendup of Simon, and four badly mixed, badly sounding Isle of Wight performances. Indeed, the live rendition of "Like a Rolling Stone" sounds like a parady of the masterful original, a gross reminder of just how far removed Dylan wanted to be from his adoring fan base. Songs like "Copper Kettle" and "Days of `49" show encouraging signs of what Dylan was up too.

"Another Self Portrait" also reveals that "Nashville Skyline", "Self Portrait", and "New Morning" (released a mere FOUR months after "Self Portrait") is much more homogenous artistically than the critics would lead you to believe. The commonly accepted narrative in rock criticism is that Dylan quickly recorded "New Morning" after the disastrous reception to "Self Portrait". "Another Self Portrait" reveals a different narrative however; there is little to differentiate the "New Morning" sessions from the "Self Portrait" sessions in either style or content, with the only main difference being Dylan began writing more original material during the latter sessions (much like he did with "The Basement Tapes"). However, it's notable that seven of the nine covers from the 1973 "Dylan" album (which Dylan has disowned, and was released without his input as revenge by Columbia when he left for David Geffen's newly formed Asylum Records) hail from the "New Morning" sessions, proving Dylan was just as interested as interpreting and playing other people's music as he was performing his own.

So what makes "Self Portrait" so inscurtable? Well, first off, it's discerning Dylan's intent. What was he trying to do, or accomplish, with this double LP?

If you read Dylan's various statements throughout the years, you will get conflicting reports. The most commonly accepted explanation (and one advocated by Greil Marcus in the liner notes) is Dylan was trying to "shed" his audience. Dylan himself said as much in a Rolling Stone interview from 1984.

" I wish these people would just forget about me. I wanna do something they can't possibly like, they can't relate to. They'll see it, and they'll listen, and they'll say, 'Well, let's get on to the next person. He ain't sayin' it no more. He ain't given' us what we want,' you know? They'll go on to somebody else. But the whole idea backfired. Because the album went out there, and the people said, 'This ain't what we want,' and they got more resentful. And then I did this portrait for the cover. I mean, there was no title for that album. I knew somebody who had some paints and a square canvas, and I did the cover up in about five minutes. And I said, 'Well, I'm gonna call this album Self Portrait.'"

While it is impossible to speak to another person's motivations fully and with equal authority to that person himself, I personally believe that this explanation is reducing the truth about "Self Portrait" to a much more limited capacity than it really was, at least in 1970. Looking back throughout the years, Dylan may have analyzed himself more and more and come up with the explanation he was trying to deal with his frustrations with his vampire fanbase (who he described in the same interview as "sucking the blood" from him), and that may very well be part of his motivation for recording of "Self Portrait".

However, there was always some evidence (on both the album itself and contemporary interviews circa 1970) against that being the only reason why Dylan put out "Self Portrait", and with "The Bootleg Series 10: Another Self Portrait", that evidence has only grown exponentially. Despite what Dylan would later say, interviews given around 1970 carries far more weight, as Dylan himself was closer to the actual event. Like everyone else, as the years go back memories fade and we often forget what we were really thinking, or come up with alternate explanations. In a 1971 interview with notorious A. J. Weberman, who knew more about Dylan's (literal) trash than Dylan' probably did, Dylan defended the album, angrily blasting Greil Marcus. Robert Shelton asked Dylan in 1986 about Self Portrait, and, notably, he differed from his official reason of audience shedding: he said that songs like "Blue Moon" were an expression, and had someone like Elvis Presley or the Isley Brothers had released that album, then the response would have been much different.

Allen Ginsberg, who had known Dylan since the early 1960s, went on tour with him in 1975. A relevant quote from Bill Morgan's biography of Ginsberg is one of the keys to unlocking the mystery of "Self Portrait". "The more Allen thought about Dylan, the more he realised that he didn't really know him at all, and he commented that he thought it was possible there was no "him" to know. He was beginning to think Dylan didn't have a "self" at all".

This concept of Dylan not having a "self", albeit rather abstract and perhaps hard to define in a practical sense, to me brings intense illumination on not only this era of Dylan's recording career (1969-1971), but to the entirety of his career in general. If you accept Ginsberg's assertation that Dylan has no self, the title of "Self Portrait", a double album of then contemporary covers and reimaginings of old folk songs, no longer has the smug ironical tone that some reviewers have mistakenly assigned to the project, but rather a deep truth about Dylan himself that has only been born out in subsequent years. And what is that truth?

Ginsberg was famous for recording his life in great detail, and reading through his works you get a real sense of his life, his personality, and who he was as a person and what he stood for and was concerned with. In contrast, Ezra Pound's first major book of poetry was entitled "Personae", where you never hear Pound's own true voice, but rather a kaleidoscope of different voices and different masks. Even in "The Cantos", other than Pound's economic theories, you will learn far more about Pound's sense of history than about his character and soul.

Likewise, Dylan has always been more a conglomeration of differing traditions than an original force, unique unto himself. The title "Self Portrait" was not meant to be ironic; Dylan finds his identity through his own synthesis of traditional, Americana music. While that may be a very broad claim to make, I am able to provide a good deal of evidence for such an assertation. While not one solitary piece of evidence can conclusively prove one way or the other that Dylan's identity is not his own, the growing amount of evidence can be used in conjunction with each other that, quite convincingly, Dylan's real identity is traditional music, and, with one notable exception, we have never been very close to who Dylan "really is", because he really isn't anyone.

Now, any hypothesis worth its salt should be able to accurately account for various, otherwise inscrutable facts and phenomena. The idea that Dylan doesn't have a "self", or, at least, use his music to express himself (far removed from "confessional" poets like Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, and Anne Sexton, and much more in tune with Pound and T. S. Eliot's historical mode of thought) is quite a suitable framework to explain several otherwise odd facets of Dylan. It also explains his disdain for politics; Dylan was never political, despite what his followers wanted.

Before we examine the evidence, let's first examine the one sore spot in the theory, and the closest Dylan has ever came to his own personal life: "Blood on the Tracks", his 1975 album. Triggered by the disolution of his marriage to Sara Lowndes, the record is a heart-breaking divorce album. Yet even here, Dylan throws some curve balls. "Tangled Up In Blue" is far from a straight cry of pain, and is a jarring narrative that moves all over both time and space. Secondly, "Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts" is a complex, lyrically demanding story straight out of the American west. However, excepting those two songs, the rest is an unusually straight reading of the pain that Dylan was going through. Jakob Dylan has said that album documented the dissolution of his parent's divorce and failing marriage. The album was wrought in pain, and when an interviewer once asked Dylan about the album's popularity, he said he did not understand why people enjoyed that much pain in their life.

What is more revealing, however, is what happened AFTER "Blood on the Tracks". He recorded "Desire", a deeply detached album emotionally (with the only exception being the last song, "Sara") that delves into strong, lyrical story telling, especially coming off the heels of such an emotionally naked album like "BOTT". Equally interesting, after "BOTT", Dylan wrote several songs that were as emotionally intense as its predecessor but would not record them, electing instead to go with "Desire". "BOTT" is far more an anomaly in Dylan's career than anything else he has put out, with the closest equivilant being "Time Out of Mind", another emotionally charged, deeply painful album. (I always felt TOOM was BOTT aged twenty two years).

First off is examining Dylan's career in its entirety. The early 1960s has Dylan going through his troubadour, Woody Guthrie phase and political protesting; the mid 1960s' moving through surreal lyrical work which is heavily indebted to Beat literature and French symbolists; the late 1960s tapping into that "Old Weird America" as evidenced on "The Basement Tapes" (which, notably, the majority of which is still commercially unavailable), and then turning out a brief country album with the opening track being a rather off-kilter duet with Johnny Cash. Even "John Wesley Harding" sounds much more an aural history of the United States post Civil-War, taping into the vast mythos of the American West, than ever revealing a single thing about who Dylan is as a person.

Post "Self Portrait" (which for reasons of space I won't elaborate too greatly), we have the travelogue album of "Desire" and the incredibly strange, wilfuly obtuse "Street-Legal". In the 1980s, he went through a career crisis, with several listless albums, often blocking release of superior songs on these admittedly drab albums (with the most famous example being "Blind Willie McTell" from "Infidels", itself one of the stronger albums released during this period). According to "Chronicles", in 1988, after a disastrous tour with the Grateful Dead, he realised he was not connecting with his music anymore, and had a personal revelation on how he needed to play and commenced with the Never Ending Tour, which proved to be a true turning point.

In the 1990s, after two folk albums, he released "Time Out of Mind", which Dylan described as a deliberate attempt to make an old-time folky record, like the songs he would listen too back in the 1950s. Every subsequent album (2001's "Love and Theft", 2006's "Modern Times", 2009's "Together Through Life", and 2012's "Tempest"), Dylan plays with pre-rock, old timey musical forms, each deeply rooted in the American musical body of work from the late 19th/early 20th century. Listening to his work, never once do you feel like you're are truly getting to know Dylan intimately as a person (except fro TOOM, the emotional successor to BOTT); however, you do come away with a much deeper understanding of the cultural heritage of Americana music.

We also have the Christian trilogy, which may very well be the closest we get to Dylan as an actual person; religious themes have always ran deeply through his work, far more deeply and important to him than being a mere superficial synthesis of his traditional interpretations of pre-rock music.

In 1997, Dylan even said the following: "Here's the thing with me and the religious thing. This is the flat-out truth: I find the religiosity and philosophy in the music. I don't find it anywhere else. Songs like "Let Me Rest on a Peaceful Mountain" or "I Saw the Light"--that's my religion. I don't adhere to rabbis, preachers, evangelists, all of that. I've learned more from the songs than I've learned from any of this kind of entity. The songs are my lexicon. I believe the songs." In promotion for the 2009 "Christmas in the Heart" LP, he told interviewer Bill Flannagan he was a true believer when talking about "O Little Town of Bethlehem."

I think that, stepping out further from just religious concerns, this quote, in context with everything else, shows us just how important the music of "The Bootleg Series 10" truly is to Dylan. In an outtake version of "Political World" from 1989's "Oh Mercy", Dylan sings the lines (deleted in the final released version) that there are woman, wine, and songs, but without the songs you won't get far in this world, which is one of the most revealing lines he ever wrote. Likewise, the title of his panned movie "Masked and Anonymous", accurately describes Dylan himself, moving through life, inscurtable, unknowable.

Marcus said "I once said I'd buy an album of Dylan breathing heavily. I still would. But not an album of Dylan breathing softly. Ginsberg said in Scorcess's documentary "No Direction Home": "He had become at one with, or became identical with, his breath. Dylan had become a column of air so to speak, where his total physical and mental focus was this single breath coming out of his body. He had found a way in public to be almost like a shaman with all of his intelligence and consciousness focused on his breath." If anything, "Self Portrait" shows Dylan mastering the art of the Buddhist breath.

I always thought, upon hearing Dylan was releasing a bootleg installment on "Self Portrait", that it was an incredibly strange choice, given how much everyone always hated the record (especiallt with the rumoured super-fan dream choice of a "Blonde on Blonde" installment). Listening now, though, I understand.

So, what does this all admittedly long discussion of Dylan's career and music (hard to succinctly compress for an Amazon review) mean for "Another Self Portrait"? Simply this: "Another Self Portrait", appropriately enough, is probably the single most revealing release Dylan has issued, which is quite appropriate given its title.

Decades ago, Dylan gave us the key to who he was as an artist, and we resented him. Now, so many years later, we find Dylan was right after all - he is a mirror of Americana Music. As a critic once said, Dylan has "vanished into a folk tradition by his own making". Vanish, though, is not the right word. The correct term would be "Homecoming".
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