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Long John Silver
Long John Silver
Price: 6.05

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A criminally underrated album, 26 Nov 2003
This review is from: Long John Silver (Audio CD)
'Long John Silver' by Jefferson Airplane has long been neglected. It was the last studio album by the original line-up (inasmuch as there was an original line-up), it does not have a pristine studio sound, and it wasn't 'Surrealistic Pillow' (the band's benchmarking 2nd album). However, I think that this JA snobbishness has gone on long enough and it's about time LJS was rehabilitated.
If you take the time to listen to this album, far from hearing a bunch of individuals pulling in different directions, undermining the 'purity' of the JA sound, you'll actually hear a bunch of very exceptional people making some superb 1970's music. Let's not forget that SP was very much a product of the mid-1960's, which as anyone will tell you, was musically light-years away from the world of early 1970's rock. SP was still essentially pre-hippie folk rock, LJS was rock 'n' roll, with a hard edge. Let's just forget those comparisons, they have absolutely no validity. And, while we're at it, let's just lay the myth of SP to rest. It's a great album, but to my ears (and I'm as big a JA fan as anyone) it is nowhere near their best. That award must go to 'After Bathing at Baxter's' or 'Crown of Creation'. The thing is, if you listen to SP now it does sound like a product of 1966, but none of the later JA albums do, and LJS is included in this list.
So, LJS does not have perfect hi-fi sound. What were the band playing at? Were they so stale that they couldn't be bothered to record and mix it right? Or maybe, just maybe, that's how they wanted it? It's raw, high powered rock. It sounds fantastic, like the band really wanted to rock out, and it works. On this site you'll find a couple of reviews of JA's 'Live at Monterey' CD in which the reviewers rubbish the CD for not being hi-fidelity - what is the matter with these people?! It's the music and the performance that counts. If you can pick up on the energy and the power and the emotion, then it was recorded right. And, believe me, LJS has plenty of energy, power and emotion.
And were the band falling apart? Sure, they all had developing interests, but this was nothing new. They worked together, they wrote songs together and they toured together. Are these signs of a bunch of people so sick of each other that they couldn't go on, or who had nothing more to contribute to JA? I don't think so. If the band had nothing left to give, then they wouldn't have given it. Could anyone imagine the Grace Slick of 1972 doing something because she felt she should, because RCA expected it? I don't think so!
So, in conclusion, this is a great album, certainly not their best, but infinitely better than people give it credit for. I love this album, and I love all JA albums, some more, some less, but this one, like 'Bark', really rocks and contains some of Grace's best material. Give it a listen and then go and search out some more JA. You won't regret it. This band was one of the most under-rated of all the bands of the 20th century. They really made a difference, and now their music continues to do so, and it really does sound as fresh now as it did when it was first recorded.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 11, 2008 11:50 PM BST


Ship of Fools
Ship of Fools
by Richard Paul Russo
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A breath of fresh air, 17 Sep 2003
What a fantastic book this is! I have always loved science fiction, but over the last 20 years or so have become increasingly disenchanted with the genre's obsession with fantasy and mega-hitech futures. This book is like a breath of fresh air, combining one of my favourite themes (the 'generation' ship) with traditional sci-fi.
Russo writes very well, and the book is a joy to read. I really didn't want to put it down and read it very quickly, which, as I have two young children and a full-time job, is the acid test for any book! The characters are well drawn and engagingly human. The horrors they witness on Antioch are also very moving, but a reminder of just what humanity can never escape from, although, ironically, this violence was inflicted by 'aliens'. The encounter with the alien ship is also wonderful, reminiscent of a cross between 'Alien' and 'The Cube', but much better.
The book's ending is well crafted, providing us with hope, but also the realisation that that hope could be dashed at any time. And, we wonder, what happened to Captain Nikos? We know really, but we hope that the Argonos may have survived!
If you love traditional sci-fi get a copy of this book, it's marvelous. I hope Russo writes something else like this.


Chronicles I & II
Chronicles I & II

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Chrome release?, 29 Aug 2003
This review is from: Chronicles I & II (Audio CD)
Fans of Chrome have much to be pleased about - two real cutting edge punk/industrial heroes in Helios Creed and Damon Edge, and some truly great and inspiring albums. They also have much to be less than pleased about - how hard it is to find these great albums, the dross put out by both Creed and Edge after the Chrome split in 1985. However, the good things far outweigh the bad, as a listen to this beautiful CD should prove!
Chrome fans will argue over which is their best album. Some will say 'Half Machine Lip Moves', others '3rd From the Sun'. For my money this is far and away the best release, although technically speaking it's actually 2 releases ('Chronicles I' and 'Chronicles II'). Technically speaking it's not an actual 'album' release either, compiling as it does stuff from singles, etc., and unreleased material. However, it would be churlish to dismiss it as anything other than a massive achievement. From their early Pink Floyd days ('The Visitation') through their redefining of SF punk ('Alien Soundtracks') and on through their defining of 'industrial' rock. Sure, much of the music has an '80's sound to it, but that doesn't detract in any way. This band were more than just vital, they were cool and utterly swimming against the flow. In Creed they had a guitar hero who did much more than just make his guitar scream - he turned out sounds that most of us could only dream of creating. And in Edge they had a synth master who was as creative with it as anyone I can think of. They were a breath of fresh air at a time when New Romantics and other horrors were rearing their ugly heads.
Creed and Edge worked together perfectly and if you listen to their music chronologically (get the 'Chrome Box' - ideal for a route into the band) you can clearly hear them developing and the sound refining. '3rd From the Sun' is superb, but 'Chronicles' is so much better, simply because they had developed even further. It is a tragedy that they split immediately after 'Chronicles', although we should really be thankful that they managed to hold themselves together for so long. The irony is that one of the reasons for the split was that Edge did not want to play live and Creed did - however, a glance at post-Creed Chrome albums reveals 2 live releases!
At the time 'Chronicles' was released on CD (1989) Edge had taken control of the entire Chrome cannon and was clearly resentful of having to give Creed any credit whatsoever, hence the renaming of all the tracks to reflect the 'Chronicles' theme, and also the division of 'Gehenna to Canaan' into 2 separate tracks. Edge also claimed to have written and produced the entire CD himself. Despite all this, it is a superb CD and easily amongst Chrome's best work. The CD is impossibly hard to find, and the best place to look is eBay. But it's worth persevering because in the absence of a re-release (which doesn't look likely for the near future, at least) this is the best chance to hear this great music in it's entirety. And, as a bonus, if you do get it, the CD contains 70 minutes of music - a rare treat!
In short, Chrome were one of the most influential bands of the 1970's and 1980's and this is one of their best albums. You owe it to yourself to track this down and give it a listen. In the meantime, treat yourself to '3rd From the Sun' (and don't listen to it after track 7 - the CD is coupled with the later Edge-Chrome album 'Into the Eyes of the Zombie King' - terrible!).


Solaris [2003] [DVD]
Solaris [2003] [DVD]
Dvd ~ George Clooney
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: 2.72

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Hollywood film for years!, 8 July 2003
This review is from: Solaris [2003] [DVD] (DVD)
Tarkovsky's 'Solaris' is my favourite film of all time. Don't ask me to explain why, it is just very beautiful, amazingly directed and an incredibly moving love story. So, when I first read that a new version of the film was underway, with the names Clooney, Soderbergh and Cameron involved, my heart sank, understandably. How dare these shallow Hollywood icons tackle my film? I was also afraid that the attendant media focus would trivialise Tarkovsky's film.
However, I needn't have worried, for two main reasons. Firstly, the film bombed - there was no attendant media focus! Secondly, the reason it bombed is because it is an amazing piece of cinema in its own right. If you pressed me I would still cite Tarkovsky's as superior, but that would not detract from this version. I began to suspect that this was a better film than I dared to imagine from a combination of outstanding viewer reviews and an almost total silence.
Soderbergh has crafted a film that keeps the love story and the human element at the very heart of the film, while also downplaying the hardware side of the things. This film is set in the future, on a spacestation orbiting another world, but it is not about outer space, but inner space. And, as with Tarkovsky's film, the most human person in 'Solaris' is Rheya, the woman made of neutrinos. She is wonderfully portrayed by Natasha McElhone, a truly moving performance. The film also benefits from it's small cast, there being only five performers. Jeremy Davies is suitably wacky as Snow (or is he?) and Viola Davies is superb in the role of Gordon, all repressed anger and anxiety. But special mention must be given to George Clooney, who apparently lobbied Soderbergh to land the role. As Chris Kelvin, the tormented husband of Rheya he is quite magnificent, and believe me, this is praise indeed, because I never thought I would utter those words (especially after having sat through junk like 'One Fine Day' and 'Ocean's 11'). He is fantastic, and I think it's fair to say that this role shows his ability in a way that Bruce Willis' role in '12 Monkeys' showed his talent in a whole new light.
The film itself is beautifully directed and filmed and is as much a visual treat as it is an emotional one. The space station seems sterile and lifeless, a nice comment on the impersonal nature of machinery and 'things' in general, given Hollywood's sell-out to effects laden epics. A great deal of thought and creative vision clearly went into the making of this film, and this is reflected in the fact that this film can stand side by side with Tarkovsky's masterpiece without either detracting or suffering from the comparison.
The ending is very different to Tarkovsky's, and is perhaps more easily comprehensible, although more sad than you can imagine if you take some time to think about it.
I would recommend this film to anyone who loves science fiction in its traditional form: films and stories about people rather than just space cowboys and ugly aliens. 'Solaris' is a film in the tradition of 'Blade Runner', 'Gattaca' and Tarkovsky's twin epics 'Solaris' and 'Stalker'. Films that are incredibly moving, that don't let effects dwarf the people and that leave you thinking about them for days, weeks, maybe years, on end. Don't let the lack of box office success put you off - that is really a testament to how great this film is. Watch it and have your faith in the US film industry reinvigorated. One thing this film tells us is that there is hope, even if not in the form that we expect it or can understand it.


Doctor Who - The Dalek Invasion Of Earth [DVD] [1964]
Doctor Who - The Dalek Invasion Of Earth [DVD] [1964]
Dvd ~ William Hartnell
Price: 6.25

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 1000 times better than the film and a great DVD too!, 18 Jun 2003
First shown on the BBC in 1964, the second story to feature the Daleks was later remade as the more famous film starring the worst Doctor Who of all time, Peter Cushing. That film was in colour and has been shown on television and released on video and DVD countless times, thus giving it a relatively high profile, whereas the original version is much less well known, principally because of the BBC's dislike for repeating black and white programmes and the fact that the video has been unavailable in the UK for many years.
Now the arrival of this DVD should change all that. The picture is perfect, the soundtrack clear and the 2 discs stuffed to bursting with extras. The story itself can be viewed with information subtitles, full of fascinating facts, and with new CGI effects replacing the old, very ropey effects. These new effects are actually very good, and don't detract from the feeling of the original - the new Dalek spaceships are modelled on the ones used in cartoon strips in the 1960's and are very very good. To be honest if you didn't know they were CGI you probably wouldn't even notice. And it retains the credibility, which the original wobbling ship totally lost!
Spread over 2 discs, the extras include interviews with cast and crew, a fascinating documentary on the locations used in filming, a Blue Peter guide to making dalek cakes (very useful if you've got a birthday coming up!), contemporary BBC trailers (which set the story in the year 2000!) and some fascinating (but double-exposed) film taken by Carole Ann Ford (Susan) of rehearsals.
All in all this is a superb package and is worthy of this classic story. The story itself is of undoubted quality and builds great levels of suspense throughout, a far cry from the laughable post-Davros Dalek stories. In this the Daleks are mean and uncompromising - they are the ultimate representation of faceless inflexible fascism, dare one say Nazism (maybe even New Labour?!). Maybe this is THE classic Dalek story - without 'The Dalek Masterplan' or 'Evil of the Daleks' we may never be able to say.
Treat yourself to this and wallow in the nostalgia of it all, and while you're at it ask yourself what exactly was that Dalek doing in the Thames at the end of episode 1?


Tough Guy Problem
Tough Guy Problem
Offered by horizons-usa
Price: 12.00

5.0 out of 5 stars A superb EP!, 5 Jun 2003
This review is from: Tough Guy Problem (Audio CD)
This EP was released in 1992, after 'Geek Lust' but before 'Islington Porno Tapes'. It is of particular interest but it was the first real indication of where the band were then going. 'Geek Lust' had hardened up the sound of their first album ('A Young Person's Guide to Dambuilding'), but it was this EP that revealed very vividly the dynamic and innovative path this band were travelling down.
For those who don't know, The Dambuilders were a US 'indie' group founded in Hawaii but later based in Boston, Mass. They consisted of Dave Derby (later of Brilliantine and with his own solo album due out this summer), Eric Masunaga (who now owns his own label 'Sealed Fate'), Kevin March (who has played with almost everyone in recent years, including Shudder to Think and Those Bastard Souls) and Joan Wasser (close friend of Jeff Buckley, member of Joanaspolicewoman, Those Bastard Souls and Black Beetle and session musician extraordinaire, including Sparklehorse, A Camp and The Grifters). They were an extraordinary band, more so because of their innovative use of violin in a rock context.
The EP contains five songs, all of which are superb. However, you should note that unless you are a Dambuilders obsessive like myself, it's not really worth buying this as all the tracks also appear on the album 'Islington Porno Tapes'. If you're interested, it makes better sense to get that CD and also find yourself listening to superb tracks like 'Smell' and 'Shrine'.


Young Person's Guide
Young Person's Guide

5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic start to a wonderful career!, 5 Jun 2003
This review is from: Young Person's Guide (Audio CD)
This was The Dambuilders' first album, and these tracks were all actually demos, never intended for actual release. However, they came to the attention of Cuacha Records in Berlin, who promptly offered them a deal and put the album out. As a matter of interest, this CD version contains five tracks not on the original vinyl release.
For those who don't know, The Dambuilders were a US 'indie' group founded in Hawaii but later based in Boston, Mass. They consisted of Dave Derby (later of Brilliantine and with his own solo album due out this summer), Eric Masunaga (who now owns his own label 'Sealed Fate'), Kevin March (who has played with almost everyone in recent years, including Shudder to Think and Those Bastard Souls) and Joan Wasser (close friend of Jeff Buckley, member of Joanaspolicewoman, Those Bastard Souls and Black Beetle and session musician extraordinaire, including Sparklehorse, A Camp and The Grifters). They were an extraordinary band, more so because of their innovative use of violin in a rock context. However, just to confuse things, this CD features the initial line-up of the band: Dave Derby, Eric Masunaga, Daniel Glass (now a famed jazz drummer) and Tryan George (now an equally famed video director and photographer). The band were also joined on a couple of tracks by Debbie Fox (later of the more infamous Virgin-Whore Complex).
This first release is quite different from the five albums that followed, being much softer and more precociously 'indie'. The album has been compared by some reviewers to early REM and it's easy to see why that comparison has been made, although it's not fair on either band. Despite their early posturings REM always had the trappings of commerciality about them, and they were easily sucked into the mass merchandising world of major label success. The Dambuilders, on the other hand, were always their own men (and women) and even when they signed to EastWest, they never lost sight of their roots and never gave into the lure of the dollar.
The songs on this CD are generally soft and less dynamic than those on later albums, but are none the worse for this. Stand-outs are 'Kevin Keegan' (how did they find out about him?!) and 'Rose Vitta'. And it's spooky that they wrote a song called 'Joan' long before Joan Wasser joined the band! This is great music, not as challenging and innovative as what followed, but just as worthy and certainly fascinating as a first step in a journey of musical discovery and genius.
If you don't have any Dambuilders CD's, then don't start with this, buy yourself 'Ruby Red' or 'Encendedor' or 'Islington Porno Tapes' and 'Against the Stars', but when those have won you over and you find yourself desperate for more, then buy this and 'Geek Lust'. Don't stop now, The Dambuilders are waiting for you!


Against the Stars
Against the Stars
Price: 16.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The last Dambuilders album, and maybe the best?, 5 Jun 2003
This review is from: Against the Stars (Audio CD)
This was The Dambuilders' 6th and final (to date) album release, following 'A Young Person's Guide to Dambuilding', 'Geek Lust', 'Encendedor' (their major label debut) and 'Ruby Red'. It was produced by guitarist Eric Masunaga and shows the band both visually and musically going off in a new direction, 'against the stars'.
For those who don't know, The Dambuilders were a US 'indie' group founded in Hawaii but later based in Boston, Mass. They consisted of Dave Derby (later of Brilliantine and with his own solo album due out this summer), Eric Masunaga (who now owns his own label 'Sealed Fate'), Kevin March (who has played with almost everyone in recent years, including Shudder to Think and Those Bastard Souls) and Joan Wasser (close friend of Jeff Buckley, member of Joanaspolicewoman, Those Bastard Souls and Black Beetle and session musician extraordinaire, including Sparklehorse, A Camp and The Grifters). They were an extraordinary band, more so because of their innovative use of violin in a rock context.
This album shows the band changing direction yet again, moving away from the noisy and often sonorous 'indie' rock of their last three releases and into a new musical avenue filled with softer and more elegiac sounds. Here the sound is denser, the instrumentation less sparse and it is none the worse for that. The intent is signalled on the cover, with the hi-tech almost 'Star Trek-ky' approach to the design. Gone is Joan's 'in-your-face' hair, replaced by a much softer look (dare one say 'Grace Slick'?!), and the whole band is subject to this make-over. It's a bold step and although it smacks of commercialisation, this clearly isn't the case. Unlike almost all of their contemporaries, The Dambuilders accepted the need and desire to change and this record represents that. It's not contrived or forced, it's as natural as everything that went before.
The music itself is awesome and quite overwhelming. The songs are all strong and Joan's two vocal efforts are not 'underwhelming'. On the contrary they are strong, particularly 'Luster', which is a stand-out track. Anyone who has heard the band's version of Bowie's 'Boys Keep Swinging', as well as Black Beetle, will know that her voice is actually very, very good and has developed amazingly, considering that she did not have the confidence to sing at all before this album was made. Anyway, the album is spot-on, from the dynamic opener 'Digitize' (apparently written minutes before it was first performed on WMBR, Boston, the previous year), through to the epic closer 'I Wished on the Wrong Star'. There's not a duff track in sight, and tracks like 'Break Up With Your Boyfriend' and 'You Might Want Me Around' will get into your head and stay there long after you stop listening to the CD.
This is great music and it's a tragedy that this was to be The Dambuilders last release. Buy it now, you won't be disappointed.


Ruby Red
Ruby Red
Offered by AbundaTrade
Price: 1.04

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best Dambuilders albums!, 5 Jun 2003
This review is from: Ruby Red (Audio CD)
This was The Dambuilders' 5th album release, following 'A Young Person's Guide to Dambuilding', 'Geek Lust', 'Islington Porno Tapes' and their major label debut 'Encendedor'. Significantly this was their only album that wasn't produced by their guitarist Eric Masunaga, Don Gehman taking the reins. However, he did a great job and this is at least as strong as the albums that preceded it.
For those who don't know, The Dambuilders were a US 'indie' group founded in Hawaii but later based in Boston, Mass. They consisted of Dave Derby (later of Brilliantine and with his own solo album due out this summer), Eric Masunaga (who now owns his own label 'Sealed Fate'), Kevin March (who has played with almost everyone in recent years, including Shudder to Think and Those B*****d Souls) and Joan Wasser (close friend of Jeff Buckley, member of Joanaspolicewoman, Those B*****d Souls and Black Beetle and session musician extraordinaire, including Sparklehorse, A Camp and The Grifters). They were an extraordinary band, more so because of their innovative use of violin in a rock context.
This album consolidated the success of 'Encendedor' and took their unique and visionary brand of 'indie' rock to new heights. Songs such as 'Teenage L***r Anthem', 'Drive-by Kiss' and 'Smooth Control' were FM favourites in the US, although, strangely, the album never quite took off. It's a great record, and apart from the more moving quieter moments, such as 'Drive-by Kiss', there are some great noisy songs, like 'Lazy Eye'.
This is modern rock at it's best, driven by great vocals, great guitar and outstanding use of violin. If you want to see how dull rock is now, buy this. You won't be disappointed!


Islington Porn Tapes
Islington Porn Tapes

5.0 out of 5 stars Another great album from The Dambuilders, 5 Jun 2003
This review is from: Islington Porn Tapes (Audio CD)
This was The Dambuilders' 3rd album release, following 'A Young Person's Guide to Dambuilding' and 'Geek Lust'. Five of the tracks are taken from the EP 'Tough Guy Problem' released the previous year (1992). It's also worth noting that five of these tracks also found their way onto the group's first major label release 'Encendedor' (1994).
For those who don't know, The Dambuilders were a US 'indie' group founded in Hawaii but later based in Boston, Mass. They consisted of Dave Derby (later of Brilliantine and with his own solo album due out this summer), Eric Masunaga (who now owns his own label 'Sealed Fate'), Kevin March (who has played with almost everyone in recent years, including Shudder to Think) and Joan Wasser (close friend of Jeff Buckley, member of Joanaspolicewoman, Black Beetle and session musician extraordinaire, including Sparklehorse, A Camp and The Grifters). They were an extraordinary band, more so because of their innovative use of violin in a rock context.
This album really marked a change of direction for the band. Initially they were in an 'REM' style, but when Joan joined the band they began to get some hard edges (which are evident on 'Geek Lust'), but by the time of this release they had completed their change and were making their new territory definitively their own.
There are some great songs on this CD, particularly 'Louisiana', 'Smell' and 'Shrine'. However, there's not a duff track in sight and if you want to hear something fresh and inspiring, then this is for you. The Dambuilders split up in 1997, after their final (and very different album) 'Against The Stars', but their albums sound as fresh and invigorating as they did at the time, and if you want to see just how dull and plagiaristic most current bands are, then give this a listen. It's quality music played by quality musicians. Great stuff!


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