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Gary Kasparov's on My Great Predecessors: Part 2
Gary Kasparov's on My Great Predecessors: Part 2
by Garry Kasparov
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £30.00

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could become the greatest chess book ever., 6 Oct. 2004
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I didn't know what to expect when ordering the first two books in this series, but being in awe of Kasparov, I had no choice but to buy the books. I was very satisfied when the books arrived to see that they are massive, averaging about 450 pages, and not that far off of A4 size. The pages are presented in dual columns as is typical in chess books, and everything is laid out very aesthetically. The writing is of a high standard and the book, (multi-volume book, though this is based mainly on the first book because that's the one I have been reading, though the layout is the same in both), contains fascinating information weaving a history of chess.
There is some ambiguity about the relative parts played by Kasparov and Plisetsky in the book's writing, and I think that the following quote from Kasparov on the official website for the book should clarify things somewhat:
"I look at the key games in a player's career, then analyze them, reach a first draft on the computer. Then I dictate my conclusions into a tape and send it to Plisetsky. He makes corrections on dates, facts, adds anecdotes, etc. and sends it back to me. It's a complex procedure... Fischer I did last year, more than 50 games. I did some work on this trip to the USA. I do it anywhere. I little analysis here and there. It's ongoing, you can't stop. It's always expanding. At some point I could see this on a DVD or online, so as not to be limited by book size."
Kasparov has been working on these books for about six years, so he has obviously been keeping the project quiet for a long time, and now we are suddenly inundated with an exciting publishing event that will itself be a part of chess history. The analysis in this book is deeper than in any other chess books that I have, meaning it takes me something like one hour to work through just one page if I aim to understand and absorb all of the analysis, though I'm certain to become a far stronger player as a result, and I think that working through this gigantic history of chess would make most players much stronger and also give them a deeper interest in the game. This is what Nigel Short said about the books: "It is probably the most enjoyable chess book I have ever read." That is saying something considering he is a super grandmaster. This book really is amazing.


Gary Kasparov's on My Great Predecessors: Part 1
Gary Kasparov's on My Great Predecessors: Part 1
by Garry Kasparov
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £30.00

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could become the greatest chess book ever., 6 Oct. 2004
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I didn't know what to expect when ordering the first two books in this series, but being in awe of Kasparov, I had no choice but to buy the books. I was very satisfied when the books arrived to see that they are massive, averaging about 450 pages, and not that far off of A4 size. The pages are presented in dual columns as is typical in chess books, and everything is laid out very aesthetically. The writing is of a high standard and the book, (multi-volume book, though this is based mainly on the first book because that's the one I have been reading, though the layout is the same in both), contains fascinating information weaving a history of chess.
There is some ambiguity about the relative parts played by Kasparov and Plisetsky in the book's writing, and I think that the following quote from Kasparov on the official website for the book should clarify things somewhat:
"I look at the key games in a player's career, then analyze them, reach a first draft on the computer. Then I dictate my conclusions into a tape and send it to Plisetsky. He makes corrections on dates, facts, adds anecdotes, etc. and sends it back to me. It's a complex procedure... Fischer I did last year, more than 50 games. I did some work on this trip to the USA. I do it anywhere. I little analysis here and there. It's ongoing, you can't stop. It's always expanding. At some point I could see this on a DVD or online, so as not to be limited by book size."
Kasparov has been working on these books for about six years, so he has obviously been keeping the project quiet for a long time, and now we are suddenly inundated with an exciting publishing event that will itself be a part of chess history. The analysis in this book is deeper than in any other chess books that I have, meaning it takes me something like one hour to work through just one page if I aim to understand and absorb all of the analysis, though I'm certain to become a far stronger player as a result, and I think that working through this gigantic history of chess would make most players much stronger and also give them a deeper interest in the game. This is what Nigel Short said about the books: "It is probably the most enjoyable chess book I have ever read."


Hellraiser Limited Edition Puzzle Box Set [DVD] (1987)
Hellraiser Limited Edition Puzzle Box Set [DVD] (1987)
Dvd ~ Andrew Robinson

57 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate Hellraiser set from Clive Barker., 1 Oct. 2004
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
In this box are enclosed 4 disks, containing the first three Hellraiser movies, (the only three that Clive Barker really had any part in the making of), and these are in my opinion all excellent films, and at least the first two are classics, (the third isn't really stylised in the right way to make it a classic like the first two, but it is still a great movie). The reason I bought this box was to have the audio commentary on all three movies, and having had these movies on video for years I recognize that the movies in this DVD set are totally uncut, (and in the commentary this is confirmed), with some particularly gory parts of scenes which were edited out in the [American I think] version of the movies that I have on VHS. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that there are two different commentaries for the first movie, (one with Barker, Ashley Lawrence, and the screenplay writer of the next two movies who adds eruditely to the discussion), and one solo one by Barker that I have yet to watch but that I'm looking forward to. There are two commentaries for Hellbound, and one entertaining commentary for hellraiser three with Doug Bradley and the director, (who seems like a really nice guy). I would have jumped at the chance of buying this box if each movie just had one commentary and no other extras. Not only do you get two commentaries for two movies and one for the other, but each of the three disks that I am discussing have an extras section which contains at least two documentaries, and one with Doug Bradley on all three disks, (as well as on-set interviews with the directors of the first two movies and an up to date interview with Clive Barker on the Hellraiser disk). So there are loads of commentaries and documentaries. Could this be augmented? Well yes, because there is yet another disk which contains the arty short movies made by Barker and his long term friends who were involved in the Hellraiser movies in some way (one of them wrote the scripts to the second and third Hellraiser movies). Both of these short films are introduced with interviews with Clive and the script writer, Pete Atkins, and also on the disk is another version of Hellraiser 3, (though I don't know what is different from the version on the third disk, but I haven't watched it yet and assume the difference must be substantial or it wouldn't be there).
This box set, (quite literally a box), gives Hellraiser fans like me everything they could ask for from the first three movies, including the totally uncut version if ever they were censored in any ways, (the amusing director to the third movie showed appreciation when a head exploded, as this was previous cut out of the video version; I must note that the goriest parts of the films are quite a bit more disturbing now that they are uncut.. particularly in the second movie, with at least two obviously uncut versions of scenes). Anything you could ever need to know about the first three movies, (let's face it, the only three that most Hellraiser fans could care less about), is all here, with ample commentary and interviews, and uncut movies. The box is also extremely good value for money, given that the first three disks at least are more/much more feature-packed than most other standalone dvd's are, and even for three great dvd's this would be excellent value for money, but then there is the fourth disk with even more stuff on it).
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 23, 2012 7:39 AM BST


Alchemy
Alchemy
Offered by rbmbooks
Price: £25.05

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Full neo-classical grandeur., 5 Aug. 2004
This review is from: Alchemy (Audio CD)
I will review this album by looking at each song, seeing as they are mostly brilliant:
1. Blitzkrieg: An insane instrumental; a showcase of Yngwie shredding.
2. Leonardo: Latin chanting leading to a story with vocals of a huge range. Incredible soloing as usual.
3. Playing with Fire: A dark and atmospheric song.
4. Diverging from neoclassical into rock, but in a minor theme still, and with blistering solos.
5. Wield My Sword: A choice for fans of high-spirited fantasy neoclassical.
6. Blue: Totally different from other songs on the album, this is a sentimental but incredible blues showcase.
7. Legion of the Damned: Another high-spirited style of neo-classical song but with a sad tinge.
8. Daemon Dance 7405926:
9. Hangar 18, Area 51: Great combination of the Alien/UFO subject of conspiracy and traditional neo-classical style.
10. Voodoo Nights: A semi-epic, slow-tempo, dark song. Contains the silliest lyrics that I have ever heard in one part:
"Obeying all the rules,
won't get you anywhere,
Obeying is for fools,
and fools are everywhere"
11. Asylum part I, Asylum: Incredible and pompous tour-de-force of speed classical work. (The bass is particularly interesting here.) Maybe my favourite instrumental song of Yngwie's, (only possibly matched by Blitkrieg, or Instrumental-Institution from War to End All Wars - Yngwie's following album).
12. Asylum part II, Sky Euporia: Maybe the most impressive modern acoustic work that I've heard.
13. Asylum part III, Quantum Leap: It sounds like Yngwie is escaping back through the time-portal at the top of the Asylum to return back to the every-day world.
Notable things about the album are that Mark Boals' singing is incredible and suits Yngwie's vision on this album absolutely perfectly. The album also contains Yngwie's greatest song: Asylum, and classic songs such as Leonardo and Voodoo Nights. This is the ultimate Yngwie album; it depicts the medievil world of Yngwie.


The Damnation Game
The Damnation Game
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £12.67

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique., 3 Aug. 2004
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Damnation Game (Audio CD)
Symphony X have a large number of good albums, (actually, EVERY album they have ever released is good), and I cannot decide which of their albums I like the most because I am torn between a number of them. The Damnation Game is one of the albums that I am torn between, (the others being V, Twilight In Olympus, The Divine Wings of Tragedy, and yes, Symphony X, their debut). The main strength of this album - the thing that can make it stand up to their other albums - it the unique style of it. It is the first album of Symphony X's that features the now permanent vocalist Russell Allen, and I think that the fact that Allen recorded the vocals in only a couple of days adds to the not over-worked style of them, and this - together with the sound of the keyboard/guitars combination of Pinnella/Romeo at the time - gives the album a unique feel. It is true that in terms of epic, the songs in their later albums are much stronger, and the latter are also stronger in terms of production and finish. Also, if you are looking for the least over-worked album, but which still has great songs, including a couple of epics, then Symphony X's debut is your album. If you are looking for the most coherant opus then V is one of the best albums you could get from any band. And if you are looking for the most catchy and varied songs then DWOT and TIO are for you, (the two are so similar in sound that they could be combined as a double album and it would be hard to tell which songs went with which album if you hadn't heard the original albums before). But although Damnation Game is a transition album in many respects, it works as a unique complete album in itself. Part of the attraction to Damnation Game is the early Symphony X neo-classical style, (which is totally exemplorized in the title song; possibly their most neo-classical song ever, though The Witching Hour from DWOT is almost as neo-classical). Whispers is a nice romantic song, and Savage Garden has to be a contender for best song on the album, (and most catchy chorus). A Winter's Dream is a beautiful semi-epic, (though only 'semi' by Symphony X's subsequent standards). The Edge of Forever is a long song as well and is a really good one from Symphony X. Finally, (and I've mentioned almost every song now), The Haunting is one of my all time favourite Symphony X songs, and is the perfect example of what is special about the band's sound in this album. I may as well mention the remaining song seeing as I've mentioned all of the others: Dressed to Kill is not the best song on the album but it's still good, and Allen's vocals are particularly catchy on this song.
Overall, any Symphony X fan should be ashamed if they don't have this album.
I bought the enhanced/special edition so I'll add a couple of notes about the features of this. The only difference with the album is that there is a video interview with Romeo and Allen which can be viewed on a PC. The video quality isn't high, but the interview is split up into two or three sections, and is quite substantial, (I think it's about fifteen minutes in total). This is really great to watch for any Symphony X fan; to hear Romeo (and Russell Allen) discuss the formation of the band, and also one or two other interesting topics. The interview apparently links up to other interviews in the enhanced editions of the other albums, (their first four). If you have money to burn then get all of the enhanced albums even if you have the originals just for the sake of the interviews.


The Odyssey
The Odyssey
Offered by hotshotrecordsgermany
Price: £9.32

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The worst Symphony X album of all six., 3 Aug. 2004
This review is from: The Odyssey (Audio CD)
Indeed this album is quite good, but it certainly isn't in most parts beautiful. Also, the songs are a great deal more linear - and without theme changes during the song - than most of their earlier work. Most peope think of "Symphony X" - i.e. the band's debut album - as the band's weakest, but I think it is stronger than The Odyssey, (please read my reviews of their other studio albums to get all of my ideas about Symphony X, [I would note that I gave all the other albums 5 stars]). There is no doubt that the band show great musicianship in The Odyssey, and that the songwriting is good, and that many choruses or verses are catchy, but it is also true that the vocals are too loud, the solos on guitar and keyboard seem to be much more sparse and also less original/not as good as on other albums. Romeo's solos in particular seem to be in a creative rut on this album.


The Divine Wings of Tragedy
The Divine Wings of Tragedy

10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Divine symphony., 2 Aug. 2004
The Divine Wing's of Tragedy is the third album of Symphony X's, and to many people it is their first really high quality album. I personally believe that the band's debut and also the second album, (The Damnation Game), are both masterpieces too, but there is certainly a higher quality of production and more imaginative realisation in TDWOT. The song writing was generally better when Thomas Miller - Symphony X's excellent bass player in their first four albums - was involved in the writing, and the album being reviewed has some well written lyrics in places, (not that I pay nearly as much attention to what is being sung as I do to the music, and particuarly the guitars seeing as I'm a guitarist). On initially hearing this album I thought that Romeo's guitar playing, and his solos in particular, were generally better than in V, though V is a more focussed album and is themed, whereas DWOT is one of Symphony X's albums where the imagination floodgates were thrown open, with a new concept for each song. Symphony X themselves are actually some of the main proponents of this album being their first 'true' album, as they opined this in more than one interview. It is true that by this album, Russell Allen had had a chance to settle into the band, though I admittedly think that his debut with the band, (The Damnation Game), was a great success in terms of his singing even though it was recorded in just a couple of days. This album is a real bestiary. There is a song with an egyptian theme, "Pharoah" (though I find this the weakest song on the album, and I think the band's "Egypt" on the album V is a lot better). There is a very neo-classical style song on the album: The Witching Hour, and this has a great atmosphere, and is surely a classic Symphony X creation. The other distinctly neo-classical song on this album is Out of the Ashes, which is another one of the weaked songs on the album alongside Pharoah, but would appeal to neo-classical fans. Of Sins and Shadows is the first song on the album and is a very catchy song with a chorus that might stay in your mind for some time. Sea of Lies and The Eyes of Medusa are heavier, though without doubt, the latter is the heaviest song on the album, (with the acception of sections of the title epic which I'll get to shortly), and is perhaps the best song on the first seven tracks of the album. The final two tracks of DWOT are important however. The first is the epic of the album, with the same name as the album, and at 20:41 it is Symphony X's longest epic song apart from 'The Odyssey' which is over 24 minutes long. I think that DWOT is the finest epic that Symphony X have ever produced though, and by a long margin. It's just an amazing song that has so many good sections in it that it's hard to recall the entire song. Even back in their debut album, Symphony X showed precocious promise with the excellent epic 'A Lesson Before Dying', but TDWOT is from a more developed band now that it is their third album, and the quality of the epic song is outstanding. It went to extremes in the next album in effect because the epic never saw the album, (Twilight in Olympus: the name of the album, and the name of the intended epic song), but actually turned into an entire album: V; and this could explain why V sounds like such a coherant opus: it all stemmed from a single epic song. So in 'only' having a 24 minute epic in their new album 'The Odyssey', Symphony X have in effect been quite conservative given their history of epics growing longer all the time. I think that there is more variety in TDWOT than in any other Symphony X epic though, including The Odyssey, (but excluding what became the album V). The album itself doesn't seem to cease being very listenable, and this song is the epitome of this really, (though the first minute or so of chanting sometimes finds itself being fast forwarded, not that it isn't worth listening to). As for the final track on the album - Canlelight Fantasia - this is one of the best emotive songs of Symphony X's, and the lyrics are excellently written by Thomas Miller, (I think though that Communion and the Oracle from V might have the edge over it however, but then again perhaps not). This album would be a good release without the final two songs, but WITH the final two songs it is a brilliant album. The band themselves tend to comment that TDWOT is their best ever album, apart from their later releases such as V and The Odyssey, which they are obviously going to say are their favourites. This is a progressive classic, and is an album in high-spirits and of great artwork.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 12, 2011 10:35 AM BST


The Odyssey
The Odyssey
Offered by hotshotrecordsgermany
Price: £9.32

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Paradoxically overrated., 30 July 2004
This review is from: The Odyssey (Audio CD)
Indeed this album is quite good, but it certainly isn't in most parts beautiful. Also, the songs are a great deal more linear - and without theme changes during the song - than most of their earlier work. Most peope think of "Symphony X" - i.e. the band's debut album - as the band's weakest, but I think it is stronger than The Odyssey, (please read my reviews of their other studio albums to get all of my ideas about Symphony X, [I would note that I gave all the other albums 5 stars]). There is no doubt that the band show great musicianship in The Odyssey, and that the songwriting is good, and that many choruses or verses are catchy, but it is also true that the vocals are too loud, the solos on guitar and keyboard seem to be much more sparse and also less original/not as good as on other albums. Romeo's solos in particular seem to be in a creative rut on this album.


The Divine Wings Of Tragedy
The Divine Wings Of Tragedy

5.0 out of 5 stars The Divine Wings of Symphony., 30 July 2004
The Divine Wing's of Tragedy is the third album of Symphony X's, and to many people it is their first really high quality album. I personally believe that the band's debut and also the second album, (The Damnation Game), are both masterpieces too, but there is certainly a higher quality of production and more imaginative realisation in TDWOT. The song writing was generally better when Thomas Miller - Symphony X's excellent bass player in their first four albums - was involved in the writing, and the album being reviewed has some well written lyrics in places, (not that I pay nearly as much attention to what is being sung as I do to the music, and particuarly the guitars seeing as I'm a guitarist). On initially hearing this album I thought that Romeo's guitar playing, and his solos in particular, were generally better than in V, though V is a more focussed album and is themed, whereas DWOT is one of Symphony X's albums where the imagination floodgates were thrown open, with a new concept for each song. Symphony X themselves are actually some of the main proponents of this album being their first 'true' album, as they opined this in more than one interview. It is true that by this album, Russell Allen had had a chance to settle into the band, though I admittedly think that his debut with the band, (The Damnation Game), was a great success in terms of his singing even though it was recorded in just a couple of days. This album is a real bestiary. There is a song with an egyptian theme, "Pharoah" (though I find this the weakest song on the album, and I think the band's "Egypt" on the album V is a lot better). There is a very neo-classical style song on the album: The Witching Hour, and this has a great atmosphere, and is surely a classic Symphony X creation. The other distinctly neo-classical song on this album is Out of the Ashes, which is another one of the weaked songs on the album alongside Pharoah, but would appeal to neo-classical fans. Of Sins and Shadows is the first song on the album and is a very catchy song with a chorus that might stay in your mind for some time. Sea of Lies and The Eyes of Medusa are heavier, though without doubt, the latter is the heaviest song on the album, (with the acception of sections of the title epic which I'll get to shortly), and is perhaps the best song on the first seven tracks of the album. The final two tracks of DWOT are important however. The first is the epic of the album, with the same name as the album, and at 20:41 it is Symphony X's longest epic song apart from 'The Odyssey' which is over 24 minutes long. I think that DWOT is the finest epic that Symphony X have ever produced though, and by a long margin. It's just an amazing song that has so many good sections in it that it's hard to recall the entire song. Even back in their debut album, Symphony X showed precocious promise with the excellent epic 'A Lesson Before Dying', but TDWOT is from a more developed band now that it is their third album, and the quality of the epic song is outstanding. It went to extremes in the next album in effect because the epic never saw the album, (Twilight in Olympus: the name of the album, and the name of the intended epic song), but actually turned into an entire album: V; and this could explain why V sounds like such a coherant opus: it all stemmed from a single epic song. So in 'only' having a 24 minute epic in their new album 'The Odyssey', Symphony X have in effect been quite conservative given their history of epics growing longer all the time. I think that there is more variety in TDWOT than in any other Symphony X epic though, including The Odyssey, (but excluding what became the album V). The album itself doesn't seem to cease being very listenable, and this song is the epitome of this really, (though the first minute or so of chanting sometimes finds itself being fast forwarded, not that it isn't worth listening to). As for the final track on the album - Canlelight Fantasia - this is one of the best emotive songs of Symphony X's, and the lyrics are excellently written by Thomas Miller, (I think though that Communion and the Oracle from V might have the edge over it however, but then again perhaps not). This album would be a good release without the final two songs, but WITH the final two songs it is a brilliant album. The band themselves tend to comment that TDWOT is their best ever album, apart from their later releases such as V and The Odyssey, which they are obviously going to say are their favourites. This is a progressive classic, and is an album in high-spirits and of great artwork.


Street Lethal
Street Lethal
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £14.86

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing., 27 July 2004
This review is from: Street Lethal (Audio CD)
This is the first of Racer X's albums and is a concept album. The style is totally distinctive and the quality doesn't really ever slip; all of the songs stick to the musical concept of the album. The first track, Frenzy, is an incredible melodic guitar solo by Gilbert, and probably stands as the most impressive solo ever at that time, (1986). The solo includes a large number of techniques and is thus a good thing for an ambitious guitarist to try and learn as a practice piece. I think that Jeff Martin's vocals are stylish even if they do sound quite cheesy; he fits the band's style perfectly. The only truly brilliant musician of the band seems to be Paul Gilbert, and here at the age of only about 18 he was showing himself to be a candidate for best guitar player on the planet. Other great songs on the album are the title track Street Lethal, Into The Night, Blowin Up the Radio, and the instrumental track Y.R.O. This is a classic album.


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