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Rock Man (England)

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Price: £12.99

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 star Vintage Knopfler gives it you Strait!, 21 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Tracker (Audio CD)
Mark Knopflers music is like a Vintage Champagne or Bordeaux Rouge - it just gets better with age but thankfully without the price tag! The music on Tracker is complex, has great a variety of flavours,is smooth, has depth, crisp, goes down like silk on the tongue & the storytelling is as strong as ever.

This could be his best solo album yet and certainly the most Dire Straits influenced since the early albums Golden Heart & Sailing to Philadelphia. As much as I love his solo work my ears definitely pricked up when "Beryl" came on with a Sultans / Lady Writer flowing feel. "River Towns" reminds me of the style of "So Far Away" from "Brothers In Arms" but better and has some gorgeous saxophone. "Hot Dog","Long Cool Girl"and "Terminal of Tribute To" could all pass as Straits offerings.

Elsewhere there is a wonderful collection of all Knopflers various styles from Rock to Celtic to Country to Folk and trademark sweet jingling guitar ballads. The closing ballad (before 5 bonus tracks) "Wherever I Go" with Ruth Moody is up there with "If This is Goodbye" with Emmy Lou Harris and has another gorgeous saxophone ending to rival his masterpiece "In The Sky" from the Kill To Get Crimson album.

"Laughs and Smokes and Drinks and Jokes is a great opener with a bar room sing-along feel and there are songs that remind me of the feel of "Walking in the Wild West End" and "Wag The Dog" whilst still sounding original.

Mark is enjoying himself its clear and he can now do what he wants and so maybe just maybe there's one Dire Straits album left in him? Even if he calls it "Solo Strait" - he has still got it.

The bonus tracks are good enough to warrant buying the Deluxe version.

I gave "Privateering" 5 stars so that has left me a problem here - Amazon can I give it 6 stars please!

Chasing Yesterday
Chasing Yesterday
Price: £13.00

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'll Learn to work the Saxophone ......................., 3 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Chasing Yesterday (Audio CD)
And I'll play just what I feel!

The first HF Birds album was very good but this is even better and it would certainly be a "Masterplan" to buy the deluxe CD.

For those unfamiliar with the above lyric from Steely Dan's classic track "Deacon Blues" Dan were known as one of the kings of "fusion rock" which is rock mixed with a hint of jazz blues (sax, trumpet, keyboards etc) as shown on their classics like Deacon Blues, Do it Again, Aja, Black Cow & FM (no static at all). They were a big influence on Mark Knopfler who worked on their albums such as Gaucho (check out his solo on "time out of mind") and he subsequently introduced more fusion to Dire Straits sound especially the live albums and "Brothers In Arms".

The point - Noel adds another string to his bow here as he brings a hint of "fusion" into the mix which works well especially on a couple of great tracks "Riverman" and "Right Stuff".

The album starts off very well with "Riverman" which NG says could be his best song ever - maybe a bit of humour as it's another variation on the Wonderwall guitar! Great song though and "In the heat of the moment" then takes us into rocky Oasis territory as does track 4 "Lock All The Doors". "The Girl With X-ray eyes" is a quality pop song but is even bettered by "The Dying of the Light" which could well be one of his finest on first few hearings.

The good news is any fear the first half was front loaded with the best songs is not the case. We are deep in Dan territory with "The Right Stuff" which flows "Easy like a Sunday Morning" and could surely launch a 100 TV ad's? While the Song Remains the Same" is another superb offering that just flows along and will have you singing along. "The Mexican" is a good strong rocker with a good guitar solo as is "You Know you Can't Go back" which has a great sing-along chorus. "The Ballard of the Mighty I! Rounds things off nicely with a hooky repeat (overlap) chorus of "Yes I'll find you".

For once I can recommend the Deluxe edition as the 4 tracks are all what I would call early Oasis "B-side" standard (i.e.superb) though one is an alternate remix. "Do the Damage" is a good rocker whilst "Revolution Song" is a "Little by Little" style rocker with a similar big sing-along chorus.

Noel is still evolving whilst never forgetting what made Oasis popular in the first place. Several top quality songs and no bad ones makes for a great album.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 12, 2015 9:45 PM GMT

Ghost Stories
Ghost Stories
Price: £4.00

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Like a album of Fix U's without the great guitar solo!, 28 Jun. 2014
This review is from: Ghost Stories (Audio CD)
Positives - it's an improvement on the dreadfully overblown Mylo. A couple of songs such as "ink" and "o" bring memories of early Coldplay.

Negatives - still not a patch on their 1st, 2nd or 4th album and it's not just the bandana Mark Knopfler is missing here as the guitar is more like the dodo on this album.

I am surprised at the number of 5* reviews and maybe I am only a semi Coldplay fan then, but where are the really great tracks like Don't Panic, Trouble, Yellow, Clocks, Amsterdam, The Scientist, Viva, 42, etc?

Of course the songs seem to be reflecting real life situations reported in the press but in truth the lyrics and emotion here are not a patch on Ryan Adams classic "Heartbreaker" album. It's more like a album of "Fix U's" without the great guitar solo.

Still it has to be said I like many Coldplay songs and they do have quality production and have good song structure as ever so it's never a write off and as someone who found the overblown Mylo mainly unlistenable this is a small step back in the right direction. Strangely the one song that sounds like Mylo is the single "Sky Full Of Stars" which actually isn't bad and made for a rousing live performance.

Continue this direction and get the bandana out of retirement and they could make another album to match their earlier work. But 5 stars - never!
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 1, 2014 9:07 AM BST

On Air - Live At The BBC Vol 2
On Air - Live At The BBC Vol 2
Offered by Great Price Media EU
Price: £9.40

4.0 out of 5 stars John Lennon sums up the dilemma here perfectly!, 6 Dec. 2013
My "Go To" Beatles album of the last 15 years has been "Beatle Songs Live" by Paul McCartney & friends (now a double homemade 160 min CD). We of course can never have the Fab 4 live with the modern technological advances of the last 50 years so I have gone for the next best thing! "Beatle Songs Live" includes some special downloads such as the tribute Liverpool concert where George, Ringo and Paul played a 3 track tribute to John (Help, Strawberry Fields and Give Peace a Chance) but it is mainly made up of the 4 live Macca albums "Tripping the Live Fantastic", "Paul Is Live", "Back In The World" and "Good Evening New York City" which all have many great live versions of Beatle Songs plus a couple of songs each from "Wings Over America", "Macca Unplugged" and rare internet downloads. The result is song after song of magical tunes (including several of John's) and I would recommend it to any fellow Beatles Fanatic as there is no live concert in history to match it!

So to the problem of reviewing Vol 2 of "Live at the BBC" and John Lennon perhaps best sums it up on the live show here when he says" I find it amazing we are here in America but doing a live show on UK radio!" That is how much technology has moved on in 50 years especially with live recordings.

So this album is for the "Purists" in that it is 100% the Fab 4 live as they were on radio shows such as "Saturday Club", "From Us To You" and "Pop Go The Beatles" back in 1963 to early 1965. In truth many of the tracks here were included in Vol 1 but because they repeated the same songs on different shows there are alternate versions here. In all there are about 10 songs covered here worth having to put into a live mix of the two sets of BBC shows. "Words Of Love", Twist & Shout", "She Loves You", " And I Love Her", "If I Fell", "I Feel Fine", "I'll Follow The Sun", "Money", "Do You Want To Know A Secret" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand" being the must have gems not included on Vol 1. The technology and sound though is basic and you should buy aware of this. Studio work was far more polished back in those days. But regardless of this there is still much magic here.

So if your about to buy your first Beatles album then start with the studio albums or the double best off's "Red" and "Blue" album if you want the greatest hits. The "Live at the BBC" albums are like the Anthology series a bit of very pleasant nostalgia to add on at the very end of your Beatles tour! And definitely buy the live Macca albums above and do your own "Beatle Songs Live" mix as the advance in technology of live performance is massive. As a tester Download "Can't Buy Me Love" from the "Back In the World" album and "Sgt Pepper / Pepper Reprise" & "Fool On The Hill" from the "Tripping The Live Fantastic" album as they are really sensational.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 28, 2013 3:18 PM GMT

The Diving Board [Mint Pack]
The Diving Board [Mint Pack]
Offered by iAlpha Technologies
Price: £10.00

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Piano is simply outstanding on great songs, 22 Oct. 2013
The Piano on this album is simply sublime as track after track opens with some memorable piano tunes. Add good lyrics and decent songs and this ranks as one of EJ's and BT's finest moments.

I confess to being a "semi" Elton fan. For all his classic albums like Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Sleeping With The Past and Too Low For Zero (I'm Still Standing) there has often followed two or three frustrating albums perhaps memorable only for the odd single. So his greatest hits is the next best option! But after reading positive reviews in the media I decided to buy it and am glad I did.

This album ranks up there with his best work and along with Macca this week EJ is showing age is no barrier when you have supreme musical talent.

Its hard to single out specific tracks because the standard here is so consistent and is almost a greatest hits part 3 on its own. Just enjoy Piano man!

Price: £11.77

18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cut Him Some Slack!, 17 Oct. 2013
This review is from: New (Audio CD)
Update 30/01/14 - Macca has just won the "Rock Song of the Year 2013" award at the grammy's for "Cut Me Some Slack" which is performed with the ex Nivarna band members. It can be found on the "Sound City - Reel to Reel" album which is a mixture of artists writing songs and performing with the ex Nirvana band (Stevie Nicks is pretty good too!)

Cut Me Some Slack is one of his best "Magical" songs and fits nicely after Appreciate on a remix of this album. Since my first review I also have to admit that "Early Days" is a classic and has now joined the "Magical Tune" section. This is a very good album that warrants repeat plays and if you cheat (like me!) and add the grammy winner it upgrades the album to 4.5 stars and one of his best even if "On My Way To Work" is still frustrating the life out of me as it should also have been a classic!

Original review - This is a pleasant Macca album (Forget paying for the 3 bonus deluxe tracks though) and we should not compare everything to his many finest moments so cut him some slack!

But my Beatle influence theory takes a knock here. After working on the Beatles Anthology the superb Flaming Pie followed. Then many more Beatle tunes found their way into live concerts and the excellent Chaos & Creation, Memory Almost Full and Electric Arguments followed. So what has happened after Good Evening New York City!

The above albums were packed with those unique Beatle "Magical Tunes" and the reason a star is dropped here is simply the missing Magical Tunes. This is best summed up by "On My Way to Work" and "New". The former had the potential of "We Can Work It Out" but loses itself midway through and an annoying guitar blasts in which sounds out of place. "New" though a trademark catchy tune likewise just falls short of finding that extra spark.

The ballads "Early Days" and "Hosanna" have promise but fall just short of the quality of "Somedays", "End of The End", Heaven On A Sunday", or "Jenny Wren". Likewise there is nothing of the quality of "That Was Me", "Young Boy", "Dance Till We're High", "Only Mamma Knows ""Highway" or "Light From Your Lighthouse" etc.

Yet compared to other artists you have to admire the master craftsman at work here and an album that is still going to give much pleasure as he has the skill to make average songs good and dodgy songs into decent fillers. It does sound disjointed with the 4 producers and the album lacks a purpose and feel compared too much of his work. Save Us is a decent opening rocker and there are several catchy "7 out of 10" songs such as Alligator and Queenie Eye as well as the songs mentioned above. Fans will enjoy this but it is not a going to be considered a classic - just very good.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 23, 2013 10:03 AM BST

Price: £7.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars BE IT - An Oasis of Joy!, 6 Sept. 2013
This review is from: BE (Audio CD)
Nice surprise this - 3/4's of Oasis make a very good Oasis Album but without any Noel songs which is the surprise. More of the standard of the excellent Heathen Chemistry than brilliance of Morning Glory maybe but a couple of tracks here would have graced MG and I don't just mean replacing Hey Now!

I thought the first B.Eye album was poor with one great track "The Morning Son" and a couple of decent remixes in "Beatles & Stones" (Who's My Generation) & The Roller (Lennon's Instant Karma). Other than that it sounded boring old age rock with only a couple of decent fillers out of the rest.

But this is a major improvement and although it starts off a bit dodgy it then springs to life with some really enjoyable songs. By Track....

1) Flick of the Finger 6/10 - A decent opener that is spoilt by a naive and annoying 30 second Al Qaeda style rant at the end. "There's always a place for a angry young man with his fist in the air and his head in the sand"
2) Soul Love 4/10 - should have been short and sweet like "Songbird" and they might have got away with it but it drones on far to long.

Start The Party Now! .....

3) Face The Crowd 8/10 - This is more like it - Boom Boom - a quality Rolling rock number (think Meaning of Soul).
4) Second Bite of The Apple 9/10 - A classy rock number in a style that maybe we would not have expected from B.Eye. Lyrics are She's Electric part two!
5) Soon Come Tomorrow 10/10 - Track of the album with the sort of rousing chorus that makes you want to turn the tennis racket round and use it as a mic instead! (Think Champagne Supanova chorus)
6)Iz Rite - 10/10 Straight out of the Morning Glory songbook of "Roll With It" & "Some Might Say". Good verse, superb link, catchy chorus and roaring guitars - pure Oasis gold!
7) I'm Just Saying - 8/10 - Another feel good sing-along rock number.
8) Don't Brother Me - 7/10 - Not a bad song this though I can't see Noel rushing to pick up the phone after being told to "Grow up and be a man"
9) Shine a Light - 8/10 - Another good sing-along rock number. Noticeable they are finishing songs off well.
10) Ballroom Figured - 6/10 - Pleasant enough but has the filler feeling.
11) Start Anew 8/10 - nice sweet romantic love song which might win back his girl if she thought he could really "Grow up and be a man"!
12)Dreaming of some space - 6/10 - quirky short little number that is OK.
13)The World's Not Set in Stone - 9/10 - Liam & the Supremes! Seriously though its hard not to like this very catchy poppy song.
14) Back After The break - 6/10 - Again the feeling of a decent filler.
15) Off At The next Exit - 8/10 - Classy Ballard that revives memories of "Don't Go Away" or "Stop crying Your Heart Out"

All in All this is a very good pop /rock album with some decent tunes. A major improvement on their first effort so don't be put off by that. Think very good Oasis instead.

Sunken Condos
Sunken Condos
Price: £5.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hello Baton Rouge!, 3 Nov. 2012
This review is from: Sunken Condos (Audio CD)
Respect the 7 second delay we use, then enjoy 45 mins of pure pleasure!
If (like me) you loved the Nightfly album then this is what you have been waiting for. After several impressive plays I decided to play it back to back with the Nightfly album as it has that same quality and it was a seamless continuation of the brilliance and feel of his classic. The feel is that of a late night radio station broadcasting from the beach somewhere.
9 tracks that all rate 8 out of 10 upwards and there is simply not a dud track in sight. Indeed its hard to judge which track is a favourite and they are all packed with so many instruments and influences its just a joy to pick something new up with each listen.
Tracks - Slinky Thing, I'm Not The same Without You, Weather In My Head, The New breed, Out Of The Ghetto, Miss Marlene and Planet D'Rhonda are all tracks that see Don at the top of his game and being the perfectionist as ever squeezing ever ounce of music into a track with interesting lyrics. Even the initially annoying "Memorabilia" starts to grown on you after a few listens and "Good Stuff" lives up to its title.
Much better than his "average" last two solo albums and even better than Steely Dans "Two Against Nature" album which won International album of the year a few years back. Unique because no one else out there could make an album of this quality and style?

Price: £8.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mark forms his own "Sultans Of Swing"!, 20 Oct. 2012
This review is from: Privateering (Audio CD)
Two bits of good news -1) Knopfler is on top song writing form here hence the double album. 2) He really seems to be enjoying himself and that confidence comes through in the music.
How close he was to releasing a pure blues rock album (called Sultans of Swing of course!) we may never know but his guitar and keyboards are sublime on tracks like, Baby am I "Hot Or what", "I Used to Could", "Miss You Blues" and "Don't Forget Your Hat" etc and he is clearly having a lot of "Wag The Dog" style fun - could be saving it up for Friday Night! On reflection a blues rock track every one in three seems about right often following a slower number.

For us Straits fans who continue to follow his solo career the main delight here will be if you enjoyed tracks like "Walking In The Wild West End", Why Worry or Romeo & Juliet etc. His story telling remains as strong as ever with some nice gentle guitar on real quality tracks like "Redbud Tree", "Go, Love", "Seattle", "Miss You Blues", "Haul away", "Kingdom Of Gold", "Radio City Serenade" and the atmospheric "Dream Of The Drowned Submariner" He is even in danger of giving Paul McCartney some competition with two nice tunes about birds in "Yon Two Crows" and "Bluebird" although they are more real life hardship songs than Lovey Dovey!

The excellent title track Privateering is in the mold of "The Mans Too Strong" from BIA and there is Celtic influences as ever on "Haul Away" and "Radio City Serenade" which watchers of Sky Arts program "Guitar Stories" will now know is about a guitar sellers shop called Radio City where Knopfler bought one of his prized top 6 guitars. "Corned Beef City and "Gator Blood" are more Straits style rockers.

Unusually for Knopfler the Big Finale does not happen and the album ends on a disappointing note with "After The Beanstalk" but I suppose it is track 20 before the quality finally runs out so we can't complain.

The bonus live CD is just OK - not up to Alchemy / On the Night standards but nice to hear some more live songs after all these years.

So all in all a songwriter on top form showing how it should be done. Nothing left to prove now Mark other then whether you are still up to doing a new Straits album? Go on - give it a go - all the other old guys are and you must be dying to let rip a few solos / rifs you have stored up!

Out Of The Blue
Out Of The Blue
Price: £6.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Out Of This World More Like!, 16 Oct. 2012
This review is from: Out Of The Blue (Audio CD)
John Lennon and Paul McCartney no less referred to ELO as "Son Of Beatles" who had taken the infusion of classical strings into rock songs (with which the Beatles had shocked the rock world with the release of Sgt Pepper in 1967) to the ultimate level.
In the Late 70's Jeff Lynne was knocking out great songs for fun to such an extent that he released this double album "Out Of The Blue" and it is arguably the finest double album of brand new songs ever released (even the White Album had a couple of dodgy tracks!)
Side 3 entirely dedicated to the British Weather "Concerto For A Rainy Day" is one of the best sides of an album you will ever hear. "Mr Blue Sky" was the big world wide hit but any of the 4 tracks could have been big hits. The first track "Standing In The Rain" is the classical Rock equivalent of the intro to Meatloafs "Bat Out Of Hell" whilst "Summer & Lightning" with its Beatle quality catchy chorus and a big "Live" jamboree in the middle is my favorite ELO song of all.

Elsewhere the band were spoilt for choice for hit singles and all 4 singles released became worldwide hits (Mr Blue Sky, Sweet Talkin Woman, Wild West Hero, Turn To Stone) ensuring the album stayed in the charts for months on end. But the true test of how much fans enjoy an album comes when the follow up is released (just ask the Spice Girls!) and "Discovery" shot straight to the top of the charts for some 6 weeks breaking several records.

But the fact so many of the other songs (Summer & Lightning, Night In The City, Sweet Is The Night, Steppin Out, Across The Border, Big Wheels) could also have been hit singles shows the depth of quality here. And there was still room for the atmospheric instrumental "The Whale" and an animal dance in "Jungle" both of which ELO pull off to perfection.

One of my top 10 albums of all time and the best double album certainly.

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