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Misplaced Childhood
Misplaced Childhood
Price: £8.19

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Misplaced Classic, 2 Feb. 2008
This review is from: Misplaced Childhood (Audio CD)
An album more famous for it's great single "Kayleigh" than as an album, which is a shame. A fine blend of stylised metal and progressive rock, Marrilion conjure up a sound which is unusual, but strangely listenable. Not as inaccessible as Yes, but a progressive milestone, none-the-less. This album, whilst dark, is incessantly uplifting - the melancholy themes and overtones dissolve into great, strident riffs and solos, and the album seems to regularly take-flight. A deeply creative 'concept' album which takes the listener on a journey of redemption and discovery - a mini-fairytale mixed with some real world emotional strife. I love the way the music evolves from track to track, and the way that the rhythm time-signature changes are achieved.

The album is in two halves (ie two long tracks, sub divided into songs) which at times feels slightly rushed (perhaps this should have been a double album?), and not as smooth as (say) Pink Floyd or Yes (who are the masters of two-track-albums), but does lend a feeling of coherency to the album and hangs the reciprocating themes together. Almost symphonic in structure, it does benefit to being listened to in one go, with no distractions - then the whole thing makes a lot more sense. The production is clear and taut, hiding the albums age (20yrs now!) extremely well.
If you like rock, but want to dabble in the murky waters of prog, this is a great place to start. If you're a fan of classic progressive rock, then you'll already have this anyway, because "classic" is where it belongs. A milestone from a great band, criminally overlooked.


Bad Love
Bad Love
Price: £6.53

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bad love, great album, 2 Feb. 2008
This review is from: Bad Love (Audio CD)
One of the most universally admired and critically acclaimed, multi-oscar-winning song-writers, this old-timer still has one hell of a lot to say. Randy Newman is one of those guys who writes songs straight from his cynical, sardonic, soleful heart with more than a hint of black-comedy. Laden with pathos and humour in equal measure, this album sounds like it was written by a 60 year-old with more than a life-time's worth of broken hearts and hate-mail, but lucky for us, he likes to sing about it.
Picking highlights from this excellent album is hard - the hillarious "Shame" and "I'm Dead But I Don't Know It"(about an ageing, out of date, singer-song writer who just won't shut up...) or the beautiful "Every Time It Rains" (possibly the sweetest lost-love song ever recorded -written and sung as only Newman knows how... ) and "I Miss You" (a candid account of a love affair that never happened... "It's a little bit late, twenty years or so" )...
When you're taking time out from listening to whatever you normally listen to, listen to a superbly crafted, subtle, album, with real songs, written with a life-time's real experience.


Bat Out Of Hell 3: The Monster is Loose
Bat Out Of Hell 3: The Monster is Loose
Price: £7.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Overblown pretentious nonsense. Huge, huge fun., 19 Dec. 2007
More rounded than Bat2, but with the same production values and self-mockery that made Bat1 & 2 fun, this is a surprisingly good album. Meat Loaf's long-time collaboration with Jim Steinman (30yrs or so) has to be one of the oddest partnerships going. Contractual wrangles and legal procedings finally laid to rest, they came up with this album as a follow-up to the hugely successful follow-up of the third biggest selling album of all time. So, no pressure then.

To be honest, I find the opening, and eponymous, opening track difficult to like - a bit overtly aggressive and energetic, for the "hell" of it, so to speak - so for me the album starts with "Blind As A Bat" which has an epic, anthemic quality to it which is just fantastic. All good Meat Loaf is great to drive to, and this is no exception. What you get in the next few tracks is a combination of several really good songs that blend well together and set the scene for the rest of this very under-rated album.

Whilst the album is not 100% written by Steinman or produced by him, it may as well have been. The songs follow the same formula we've heard before, and in that sense this is not a revolutionary album, but it presses all of the right buttons nevertheless, and you can trace its heritage directly back to 1977's classic. Steinman's songwriting (which is heavily present here, by way of covers and some limited new material) was always deceptively sophisticated - what sound like straightforward structures, and simple melodic themes are often complex, and generally incredibly catchy, and some passages simply make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. For something so simple and so effective, you wonder why it's never been copied. I dare say people have tried...

Each song here is a mini-epic - true the songs are long (many are 7minutes or longer) but they evolve throughout and you're often wondering if you're listening to the same track... right up until the moment when the opening riff, or main chorus returns in a glorious refrain but this time cranked all the way up to 11 - classic Steinman/Meat Loaf. Very effective, and harks back to Bat1, Bat2 and is the kind of musical experimentation that only sophisticated song-writers and musicians can pull off.

Surprisingly strong ballads "Cry over me" and "If god could talk" appear out of the middle album, almost out of no where, and are up there with the best of Steinman's work. Meat turns in a fantastic vocal performance on most of the tracks - great power, intimacy and fun, a real tour de force. He hams up the anguish and extracts every last ounce from the lyrics - and it all hangs together convincingly. "Alive" and "What About Love" are tracks that build and build, evolve in other directions then come slamming back, reaching great rock-out fist-in-the-air moments from quiet beginnings - truly theatrical in style, epic in scale and true to the Steinman formula.

The 'full Meat Loaf treatment' version of "Its All Coming Back To Me Now" far exceeds the almost unlistenable (by comparison) Celine Dion version. DO NOT BE PUT OFF BY SEEING THIS SONG ON THIS ALBUM - this is definitley not Nut Roast, this is full-blooded Meat Loaf, and is a fabulous power-ballad duet, leaning heavily towards "I would do anything for love" in style. Meat's version is more faithful to the original song, which is actually quite an old one - from one of Steinman's solo-albums. Lyrically it is different to the woeful Celine Dion version, and it somehow seems louder, more powerful and just "like it should have been, originally". I heard this track in the Hard Rock Cafe in Copenhagan, and I ordered the album the next day. It's just that kind of track.

True to Meat Loaf form, a truly excellent collection of musicians have been assembled for the recording of his album. Some of them are 'just' first-class session players, but look closer and you'll also find Todd Rundgren and Brian May, as well as Nikki Sixx. The female vocalists are all excellent too - adding fantastic balance to the 'big' duet-ballads - their voices are strong, soleful and measure up well against the power of Meat's lungs. Add in an orchestra, a gospel choir and a swathe of backing singers and you get the sense that this thing could make a tour of Broadway, not just your local arena. Desmond Child (in the role of producer) has done a great job keeping all this under control and maitaining the quality of what you get - and just as you'd expect for a producer with his pedigree and body of work. The production is certainly complex, and lush and indulgent, but it's balanced and controlled. The quality of the playing, mixing and recording is first class - even on the longer tracks (some are north of 9 minutes) the ear does not tire and your foot keeps tapping. The whole thing bounces along with pace, passion, power and a huge sense of fun.

Simply put, it's classic Meat Loaf. More relaxed, and more rounded than Bat1, less trying-so-hard-it-hurts than Bat2, but no less ridiculous, or over the top. It's an assured, confident performance from a group of musicians who are unashamedly doing it for fun, and because they can rather than they need to. Some people have referred to this album as 'bleak' or 'downbeat' - I fundamentally disagree - in my view this is a far more uplifting album than it's predecessors, and whilst you can't take anything away from Bat1 or Bat2, this is a worthy addition.

In short, this album does exactly what you expect, and very occasionally surprises you. Overlook it at your peril.


Flaming Pie
Flaming Pie
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £9.97

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars McCartney's best solo album., 18 Jun. 2007
This review is from: Flaming Pie (Audio CD)
The release of "memory almost gone" made me revisit my other McCartney albums, one of which is this total gem. Flaming Pie was written during Linda's (then private) tragic battle with cancer, and it's an album about all the things that are good in life: love, hope, reconciliation, friends and, indeed, partying.

that McCartney made such an intimate album as this, is quite amazing. his songs have never been more honest, and never more pointnant. this is an album which gently moves from one mood to the next, dealing with his wife's struggle with cancer not in a pessimistic way, but by making the most of every possible moment. there are some obvious tracks which are classic latter-day McCartney - the 60's rocker "Young Boy" and the almost-Lennon homage "Flaming Pie" with the near-nonsense-yet-strangely-meaningful lyrics and the classic McCartney piano-bashing. but it's the songs that are indirectly (or directly) about his family which are the most memorable. "Little Willow", "Heaven on A Sunday" and "Calico Skies" are tender, calm intimate portraits which are quite moving.

It feels like a family effort, indeed Linda provides some backing-vocals on one of the tracks, and McCartney's son, James provides some rather good guitar on a couple of them. Other guests invited round are steve miller and jeff lynne, but most special of all, to complete the old-boys reunion, ringo and george martin pop round for a bit of back-beat drumming and some fantastic orchestral arrangements. McCartney himself plays a lot of the instruments too - couple of tracks feature him playing nearly everything - there's a great sense of fun and 'just try it' attitude as if he felt the songs would work whatever. and they really do. He clearly enjoyed himself making this, despite the obvious adversity at home. A testament to his optimism and character if ever there was one.

you get a lot of 'up-close-and-personal' moments with just McCartney and his acoustic guitar - which are really rather effective. "Great Day" is a short little footnote after the superb "Beautiful Night" - a wind down to the latter's bombast and mayhem, and ends the album on a thoroughly optimistic tone. Can't resist a word on "Beautiful Night": It's one of those great tracks that starts off well and just improves. A really strong piano part leads into a gorgeous ballad which soars away and then back down to earth, and then - slam! - into a classic McCartney rock-out with a superb George Martin horn and string arrangement and some great guitar and general mayhem for good measure.

when I first bought this album 10yrs ago, "Beautiful Night" rapidly became one of my favourite songs. 10yrs on, nothing's changed - only now this album has become one of my all time favourites. Truly, an album that grows, and has lasted the test of time.


Contraband
Contraband
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £4.92

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What GNR should have become., 14 Jun. 2007
This review is from: Contraband (Audio CD)
due to the similarity between the members of VR and Guns & Roses, the comparison is inevitable. Standing along side Appetite for Destruction, this album does occasionally struggle, but what is surprising is how little GNR's masterpiece outshines VR's debut - and in some ways VR overshadow GNR.

Appetite's greatest asset was its raw aggression and the co-ordinated mayhem of a dysfunctional bunch of kids in a band who could just about hold it together long enough to finish the tracks. This chaos contributed to the near-perfection of that album, which no-one has bettered before or since. However, 'real' GNR are long gone.

Enter: Velvet Revolver from the wreckage of GNR and Stone Temple Pilots, and what you get is an inflammable mix of riffs, screaming, aggression and Slash-nesh which makes the jaw drop. This is not a tired bunch of 40yr-olds trying to re-live their glory days. This sounds like a new band. And, praise be. It's good. Very good.

This album is about as riff-filled as one could hope for. The tracks "Slither", "Set Me Free", "Superhuman" and "Suckertrain Blues" hit hard with vintage Slash riffs, and some cool solo-ing. Scott Weiland is a fantastic counterfoil to all the GNR-ness - his voice is snarly, angry, and screwed up for the loud bits, but clear end edgy when it needs to be for the quieter moments.

The GNR rhythm section is here, and they are as lean, tight and powerful as ever. Louder, certainly, and probably crisper too. There are some complex rhythms on here - and the guys make it sound easy. "Slither" is probably my favourite here - it slams in, and grinds into a totally infectious riff with a chorus that opens up into something quite special. GNR never sounded this good. Had a cool dungeon-based video if I remember too...

What also stands out is how VR manage to shift gear into 'power-ballad' mode, but still retaining their edge. the two 'ballads' here "Fall To Pieces", which was a single, and "Loving The Alien" are fabulous. FTP is a more traditional power-style ballad, but it's got that cool guitar 'complete' sound which sets it apart from lesser bands. LTA ,which is almost entirely acoustic is just simply beautiful - acoustic that is until Slash cranks up and comes in with a ridiculously good laid-back bluesy November-Rain style solo. Utterly stunning.

Production is fabulous - and detailing is wonderful. Across the album, the balance is right - Slash is clearly prominent (and playing out of his skin, rather than out of his head), and the interplay between his guitar and Scott's voice works amazingly well. Matt and duff drive the album forward with precision and grit - and the effect of all this is just awesome. Repeated listens reveal new riffs and licks that make this more special. The controlled chaos is in the detail - it's still there, but now it sounds properly screwed together.

Indeed however you describe them, Velvet Revolver show us what GNR should have become - and hopefully won't stop with this album.

Roll on Libertad, 2 July 2007.


The Black Parade
The Black Parade
Price: £4.99

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, 13 April 2007
This review is from: The Black Parade (Audio CD)
An impulse buy on a rainy Sunday afternoon, turned into one of my best CD purchases of the last couple of years. a fascinating mix of smashing pumpkins, pink floyd, seattle metal, early dream-theatre with strong nods to queen, green day and even aerosmith and.... something else. This album somehow doesn't sit well with the "EMO" label that seems to be applied to MCR. It is far more significant than that. Somehow the combination of melodic choruses, progressive structures, strong riffs, theatrics and gerard way's very unusual and versatile voice creates something that is fresh, dark and powerful; and despite the macabre appearance, wholly uplifting. There's a sense of scale and confidence about this album that is insistent and intoxicating.

The lyrics present a black, tortured reality which is often at odds with the uplifting power rock of the music - at odds to the extent that it is deliberate, and presents a strong sense of irony which is equally interesting. This is not a miserable down-beat record at all (like most EMO, for example) - it's a celebration of 'black'-ness, a glorification which is strangely uplifting and cathartic. A release; a requiem, even. Very unusual, which makes it more special, therefore.

It's a combination of a lot of the things I love about rock music, and I was totally surprised at how good this album is. from the magnificent opening combo of "the end."/"dead", the album does not let go or let up, apart from a few quieter more intimate, sinister moments later on.

"the black parade", which is the albums centre-piece and has to be one of the (admittedly many) highlights, is truly magnificent and demands to be remembered. this is a mini-epic, so image-laden it doesn't need the video, becomes a short film in your head as you listen, which brings a little piece of superb progressive metal to life. Listening to this once or twice out of context does not do this justice - listening to it embedded in the middle of the album it takes on a much larger persona. fabulous. Other stand-out tracks are the twisted-power-ballad "disenchanted" and the magnificent "famous last words", but to be honest, it's hard to pick out favourites.

I gave up on 'new' bands a while ago - Most modern bands are not 'new' - they are poor imitations of history riding on a brief burst of fashion. 'new' albums are often poorly constructed collections of 'filler' with one or two 'hits'. however MCR are a definite exception to this - taking some great building blocks, and finding a new combination that works. More importantly, its MCR's character that comes through the songs - every song on here is strong and that does not fade with repeated listens. There is a quality and maturity to the album that most other bands should aspire to and be ashamed of in equal measure. there is detail here which speaks volumes about the professionalism and effort that the band (and the production team) put into recording this, to get it right. Rob Cavallo's influence has been felt, and this is a properly crafted exciting album by a band who deserve greatness. If they do not go stratospheric with this album, the world really has gone crazy.


Tribute to Elton John & Billy
Tribute to Elton John & Billy
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £12.95

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars APPALLING. AVOID AT ALL COST., 24 Nov. 2006
THIS IS NOT ELTON JOHN & BILLY JOEL. THIS IS A TERRIBLE RECORDING, BADLY PLAYED AND BADLY RECORDED. THE SOUNDS ARE JUST WRONG IN PLACES (WRONG CHORDS/NOTES) AND THIS IS TRULY AWFUL TO LISTEN TO. THE CLOSEST METAPHOR IS THAT THIS IS 'BAD KARAOKE'. WOULD YOU PAY TO LISTEN TO THAT?

IF YOU LOVE THE MUSIC OF ELTON & BILLY, THEN BUY THE ORIGINAL ALBUMS BY ELTON & BILLY, NOT A COPY-ARTIST WHO SHOULD STICK TO PUB SINGING.

THIS IS A VERY CYNICAL WAY OF TAKING YOUR MONEY. LEGISLATION SHOULD EXIST TO PREVENT THIS HEINOUS ABUSE OF HONEST FAN'S GOOD WILL AND THEIR LOYALTY TO WELL-LOVED ARTISTS.

ZERO STARS.


The Soul Cages
The Soul Cages
Offered by ScreamingCd
Price: £6.02

5.0 out of 5 stars Sting's cathartic masterpiece, 2 Aug. 2005
This review is from: The Soul Cages (Audio CD)
Written at in the aftermath of great personal tragedy (the loss of his father) Sting's intensely moving autobiographical album is about as personal and intimate as you're likely to get from anybody, nevermind a major recording artist.
This album's reviews were always going to be fairly polarised. The combination of complex self-indulgent lyrics, self-referential melodies repeating through the tracks, and lush, expensive-sounding production was always going to be either hated or adored.
The opener - "Island of Souls" sets the scene beautifully, of windswept northern England, on the banks of the Tyne - you can almost see the mist on the North Sea rolling in to the shipyard, and the "workmen suspended like flies". the orchestration is distinctly English in a Vaugh Williams/Paul Buckmaster way, and the arrangements are fascinating throughout. The theme of northern England and water started with this song runs deep through the whole album, reaching its almost overwhelming climax during "Wild Wild Sea" (which has some of the horniest damn chords ever...).
Catharsis is achieved during the fantastic "Soul Cages" where the overtone becomes decidedly Faustian as the narrator fights for his soul with "the King Of The Ninth World, the twisted son of the fog-bell's toll. In each and every lobster cage, a tortured human soul". It is during this track that the emotions run highest and the despair becomes defiant anger at the injustice of life. The track "Soul Cages" is surprisingly savage, and certainly the most aggressive track Sting has ever put together - the opening guitar-riff is stunning, giving the track pace, power and vengeance. The subtle refrain from the opening track returns, adding an almost concerto-feel to the album, bringing the story together. Catharsis achieved, the closing track shows the narrator reaching reconciliation, with his loss, with his loss of faith in the world and his subsequent hope, and with the future. It's a haunting conclusion to the procedings. To lighten the whole thing up, Sting bids us "Goodnight" at the end - he knows we'll listen to it in the dark...
It's a difficult album to get to like; complex, introverted and dark. Even the more up-beat asides to the story have sinister overtones, and are not as simple as they seem... This is an album for Sting fans - you need to persevere to appreciate this - but, if you are a fan of his less commercial-sounding work, then this will not disappoint.


Keep The Faith
Keep The Faith
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £4.47

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bon Jovi at their career-best, 28 July 2005
This review is from: Keep The Faith (Audio CD)
Bon Jovi were on the verge of terminally languishing in the almost-great league at the end of the 80's, until this excellent record launched them into the rock-stratosphere.
Bon Jovi were never on the verge of threatening to innovate a new form of rock - they took the foundations laid down by others and turned them into superbly crafted, feel-good, uplifting songs that quite rightly made them phenomenally successful. As a band they very clearly grew up listening to Bruce Springsteen, Aerosmith, and the blues in all its guises, and these influences have equipped them well.
Softer than heavy metal, harder than most AOR, in 1990 Bon Jovi turned their very significant air-punching-rock skills (of "Living On A Prayer", "Bad Medecine" etc etc) to producing an album of powerful, mature and strong songs, from the building, driving opening combo of "I Believe" & "Keep The Faith" to the tender "Bed Of Roses". The mamoth "Dry County" (at ten minutes) is a classic which many thought Bon Jovi just couldn't make. The strength of the singles is enough to commend this album, but the album tracks shine too. There are layers of detail to the songs which demand repeat listens - piano scrawls, guitar punctuation, tremendous drumming and some fantastic basslines which really drive the songs forward.
Richie Sambora (responsible for some of the best air-guitar fodder) displays a new depth and soleful-ness to his playing, further evidenced on his solo albums. Tico Torres is more powerful than before, and with production that is a fine line between polish and grit, the sound is convincing. Alec Such on bass provides a fantastic musicality and movement to the songs and Dave Bryan's keyboard/piano work was never better - some great blues sections where he just tears it up, to tender ballad piano.
This is an album that is exactly that - an album. The opening four tracks leave you elevated, engaged and energized unlike any many albums, and the pacing is pretty good. this is a record that can just be put in the cd player, and left there until the end without hitting 'skip'. You might hit 'skip-back' a few times, but not 'skip-forward'. As an album there are only a couple of tracks that don't hit the highest Bon Jovi standard, and the album lacks the hunger and raw energy of "Slippery When Wet" or (the under-rated) "New Jersey", but it is a more complete album and is better equipped to withstand the test of time than it's predecessors. The freneticism of Slippery is tiring after a while, and only "Living on a Prayer" and "Dead or Alive" really last on the ear.
It is unlikely Bon Jovi will ever better this fantastic album, but let it not be forgotten that this is an excellent piece of work, and if they produce nothing else, the symphony of "Slippery", "New Jersey" and "Keep the Faith" surely justify their place in popular rock history.
14 years on from first release, it still sounds fresh. Under the "remastered" label, the album has been refreshed, repolished and repackaged. The production was taught, complex and crunchy before, but now has a new clarity and depth to the bass, crispness to the drums. An excellent example of updating and truly justifying the "remastered" moniker.


Team America: World Police [DVD]
Team America: World Police [DVD]
Dvd ~ Trey Parker
Offered by Qoolist
Price: £3.24

29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius. Silly, irreverent, childish. But absolute genius., 6 Jun. 2005
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Not for the faint-hearted nor easily offended, this incredibly silly, juvenile film is one of the funniest things I have ever seen. It is a brilliant piece of puerile, slap-stick, rude school-boy comedy, that somehow ends up as a very witty satire that pokes fun at just about everyone.
The plot is suitably silly, and sounds vaguely familiar: The world is threatened by a group of terrorists and Team America: World Police is on their trail to bring them to a very brutal conclusion. In the interests of "saving the world", World Police justify much mayhem and destruction, and in the pursuit of a particular group of terrorists, destroy Paris and Cairo in hilarious ways. Like a pubsescent-teenage-remake of Thunderbirds, somehow crossed with Muppet-mayhem and seemingly directed by Terence & Philip from SouthPark, it is riddled with swearing, gratuitous violence and bloodshed and, yes, even sex. The references to Ken & Barbie in this particular scene are not, I'm sure, entirely coincidental. The violence is gloriously overstated, with the puppets getting a thorough ketchup-producing mauling either from simulated gunfire, explosions or real kittens.
It is directed with a mock-solemnity that gives it a big-budget, event-movie quality that just makes the whole thing more preposterous - the fact that grown men actually made this film is refreshing and scary in equal measure. The back of the DVD is like a who's-who of action film production - and it shows. Yes, its puppets, but it looks and feels like it should.
I loved this film on so many levels - partly because it is just great comedy and a fantastic satire on the state of the world the way it is at the moment - to pinpoint one character here, Kim Jong-Il is a fabulous caricature and his speeches and singing are truly hysterical. The self-appointed sanctimonious attitude of Hollywood do-gooders is equally ridiculed.
I also love this film because it doesn't preach or take sides, other than to point out how silly everything is. It doesn't take itself seriously and it is made for fun, not as a political statement. It is blindingly funny, it has to be said.
Its also a treat for the film-buff as the number of deliberate references/homages to other films (from StarWars to Kill Bill, to any number of Jerry Bruckheimer films) is a joy to watch as one joke-ridden scene of mayhem, carnage and stupidity blends perfectly with another.
It is a fundamentally ridiculous, childish and stupid film that quite simply made me laugh so much I had to regularly hit PAUSE on the DVD so that I would not miss the next scene.
For me, this film hit a lot of the same buttons as "beavis & butthead do america" did. Team America: World Police, is probably as funny, but is cleverer, and a more keenly observed piece of satire. It also has that "repeat-viewing" feeling that makes it an essential DVD!
just please let there be a sequel...


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