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ronster500 (Liverpool, England, UK)

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Best Of Bowie
Best Of Bowie
Price: £5.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Impossible to go wrong here, 31 Mar. 2013
This review is from: Best Of Bowie (Audio CD)
With the man having just resurfaced with his first studio album in a decade, it's a good time to revisit this 'best of' compilation spanning Bowie's recording career up to 2002. It is definitely aimed at the casual buyer; perhaps someone just discovering Bowie after hearing something of his on the radio or in an advertisement. The die-hard fans will have all of this already, so it is futile to debate what should and should not have made the cut; it wouldn't matter to them as the compilation is not aimed at them. With a back catalogue such as Bowie's, all those hits over so many years, collating this set must have been like shooting fish in a barrel.

The resulting compilation works a treat; these songs are part of the fabric of British rock and although he was known for his willingness to switch styles frequently, it still flows really well. Disc 2 does have some later songs that don't quite hit the mark as well as his best-loved songs from the 70s, but that's to be expected in a compilation aiming to span the man's recording career in 39 tracks over two discs.

For a mere five pounds, you really cannot go wrong here. It's all the Bowie the casual buyer would want, and probably enough to pique interest in his older albums too.

April Rain
April Rain
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Destined for the top - provided they hold on to their singer, 12 Aug. 2010
This review is from: April Rain (Audio CD)
'April Rain' has been on almost constant play in my stereo since around the time of their UK tour earlier this year. I was fortunate enough to catch them live and genuinely believe they - and in particular their singer Charlotte Wessels - are headed for the very top. I also bought this CD at the show, and it's almost worn through now!

It's the second album under the Delain moniker but is the first as an actual band; the debut 'Lucidity' was a studio-based project based around Martijn Westerholt and Charlotte Wessels, featuring many guests including his former Within Temptation colleague Sharon den Adel, and Nightwish bassist/vocalist Marco Hietala. This time around, although there are still guest appearances (notably, Marco Hietala returns to contribute vocals on one track) it is a more solid band line-up that cut this album. As a result it is a more coherent disc, with material that has enough heaviness to class as Metal, but strip away the loud guitars and you're left with accessible pop songs. It's almost as though ABBA had gone rock, I imagine this would be what they might sound like. In addition, despite the link between this band and Within Temptation, there is less emphasis on the symphonic samples; they're there, just not as prominent, allowing the singer to shine with her honey-coated vocals. It is the vocal style of Wessels that makes this band stand out; she has a softer singing style that is not normally associated with a heavy metal band, and yet it just works. Leading off with the title track, it opens with gently tinkling piano before the band weighs in with the heavy riffage, then they take a step back for the singer. When you hear her for the first time, it is mildly disarming to hear such a gently soothing voice instead of a loud roar that may have been expected. Once over the surprisingly soft style, you find yourself captivated by her voice. Although, as with other bands of this type, they do add occasional male growl vocal ('Virtue and Vice') provided by (now former) guitarist Ronald Landa, they also use clean vocal to complement the lead singer ('Invidia' and 'Control The Storm'). They don't bash the listener over the head with distorted guitar on every song either; 'On The Other Side' is a real highlight with cello - not sampled - actual cello backing Wessels with guitar only kicking in later. The digipak edition of this album includes my favourite song however; 'Come Closer' is a power ballad showcasing the singer's lower range and with a short but memorable vibrato-drenched guitar solo from Ronald Landa, I feel this song should have been featured on all editions of the album.

Although this record was released in Europe last year (2009) it only got an official UK release in 2010 after their tour dates. We Brits may be latecomers but judging by the reception the band got on their British dates, they seem set to repeat their domestic success here. If their next album has the strength and accessibility of this one, there'll be no stopping them. In fact, their only problem may be in holding on to that singer. I honestly believe Charlotte Wessels has the lot - she has the classical beauty of a movie star and a singing voice that is capable of melting the hardest heart. By rights in a year's time she will be known to many more people than she is currently - whether she gets to the summit with this band or if she does it by going solo, she is a superstar in the making. For now, however, get this album and at the reduced price it is currently, it really is a no-brainer.

10 from 6 - Best Of Bad Company
10 from 6 - Best Of Bad Company
Price: £5.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ideal starting point for newcomers, 24 Oct. 2009
This compilation of 1970s stadium rock band Bad Company's output is the ideal place to start if you're just discovering the band, or indeed the general work of legendary vocalist Paul Rodgers. The cover design is unmistakably 1980s (the album was released in 1985, three years after the band originally split) and, despite having no tracks from the 'Burning Sky' album, as just about everyone here has pointed out, the cover of that album has a strong influence on the cover design for this compilation.

Heavily weighted toward the early part of the band's career, with four tracks from the debut, two each from 'Straight Shooter' and 'Run With The Pack', and one each from the last two (even the critically panned 'Rough Diamonds' is represented here with 'Electric Land'), just about all the essential songs are here including 'Shooting Star', 'Run With The Pack', 'Feel Like Making Love' and of course, 'Can't Get Enough'.

This album was a great one to have on CD if you had the original LPs on vinyl, and is still a great choice today. The later Anthology double CD is worth having too, but for the price, this CD takes a lot of beating.

A short and snappy slice of 70s hard rock with great vocals and strong songs, you'll still enjoy it in years to come. Highly recommmended.

Mob Rules
Mob Rules
Price: £8.70

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best Metal album in the world..., 5 April 2007
This review is from: Mob Rules (Audio CD)
... in my humble opinion, of course!

This record, the second Sabbath album to feature Ronnie James Dio on lead vocals, brings out the best in both the singer and the band. The collaboration was a very controversial one at the time, with Ozzy having forged his own path with Blizzard of Ozz the fanbase polarised into pro and anti-Dio camps. The situation was not helped with the departure of original drummer Bill Ward, leaving just Iommi and Butler of the classic line-up. Vinnie Appice was recruited to fill the drum stool, and the band headed off to the studio, once again with Martin Birch in the producer's chair. Those who could not accept anyone other than Ozzy to front Sabbath however, missed out on this superb album.

As well as above-average regular Metal, as heard on the lead-off track 'Turn Up The Night', and 'The Mob Rules', there are more off-the-wall moments, such as the slow-burning 'Sign Of The Southern Cross', leading into the eerie synth-based intrumental 'E5150'. Side two (as it was on the vinyl) started on a lighter note, with 'Country Girl', more in the vein of the previous album 'Heaven and Hell', and is followed by 'Slipping Away', featuring excellent guitar/bass interplay from Iommi and Butler. Both tracks are built on superb riffs which was Iommi's stock in trade.

The album's real highpoint is 'Falling Off The Edge Of The World'. Once again it starts off quiet, and smoulders menacingly before the fast bit kicks in. They don't make them like this any more; a classic example of light and shade with Dio in top form, one minute singing softly, then roaring out the heavy part and all the while making it all seem so easy.

The final track is 'Over and Over', an old-fashioned Metal ballad with a searing Iommi solo to play us out. Little did we know it, but a live album apart, that would be it for this incarnation of the band for over a decade.

The contribution of keyboardist Geoff Nicholls should not be overlooked here; although not a full member of the band he plays a full part, his synth textures are dark, Gothic and he creates a suitably doomy atmosphere for Iommi to dredge up those immense riffs.

Following this album, the partnership did not see out 1982 - a dispute over mixing the live album 'Live Evil' resulted in Dio's departure, taking Vinnie Appice with him to form the band Dio (and create the classic 'Holy Diver' album). Iommi meanwhile soldiered on with a succession of line-ups, despite recruiting first Ian Gillan then Glenn Hughes, before settling on Dio soundalike Tony Martin, Sabbath's credibility ebbed away.

IF I were allowed to keep only two albums from all my LPs or CDs, this and AC/DC's 'Back In Black' would be the two I would choose. 25 years on, this is one of those that really does stand the test of time. With the current Heaven and Hell tour taking place which reunites the band who made this record, the time is right to give this excellent album a listen.

Robert Johnson's Tombstone
Robert Johnson's Tombstone

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Devilishly good, 12 Dec. 2006
Since Thunder reconvened in 2002, they have steadily been rebuilding their profile with extensive touring of the UK, Europe and Japan, alongside some prestigious festival appearances. 'Robert Johnson's Tombstone', Thunder's third album since their reunion and their eighth in all, sees the guys once again deliver a solid set of rockers and power ballads which (mostly) is exactly what their utterly devoted fans would expect.

This time around however, the band and specifically writer Luke Morley have tried a few new things out; the title track which leads this album off has a distinctly bluesier feel - appropriate, considering the subject of the song is celebrated bluesman Robert Johnson, around whose legend the album artwork is themed, with extrovert drummer Harry James suitably attired in 'devil' horns, suit and face paint.

Following the title track, 'Dirty Dream' keeps things bubbling; a mid-paced rocker typical of the band's style, and the lyrical theme concerns those fantasies people keep secret about those colleagues they see regularly. 'A Million Faces' comes next, a power ballad that treads a familiar 'light and shade' path; In the style of the début album's 'Love Walked In', Luke Morley's acoustic starts things off, before the band kick in all guns blazing for the second chorus. The band pull this trick off time and again thanks to the incredible vocals of singer Danny Bowes; he doesn't just sing these songs, he FEELS them and the effect never fails to startle the listener. 'Don't Wanna Talk About Love'; a rock track built on a Morley riff chunkier than an entire warehouse filled with Yorkie bars, follows before the track chosen as their single: 'The Devil Made Me Do It'. An upbeat track whose lyric is written from the viewpoint of an easily-tempted indvidual who blames 'the devil' for his misdeeds, this song has a particularly witty lyric from Morley. I was especially amused by the 'tissues and tension' line in the first verse!

This song has scraped into the UK charts thanks to a co-ordinated campaign by the band's loyal fans, and they were rewarded with a valuable piece of airplay on Radio One's chart show.

Things take a darker turn lyrically with 'Last Man Standing'; dealing with the 'war on terror' this song is a biting rebuke to Messrs Bush and Blair for the way they have handled the crisis (example line: 'How can you say... Shock And Awe will win the day?') Reminiscent of the more serious tone on much of the band's third album, 'Behind Closed Doors', it is a rare politically-inspired lyric but no less incisive.

'My Darkest Hour' is probably the biggest departure from the typical 'Thunder Sound' on the whole album. This song is a melancholy tune, just acoustic guitar, cello and vocal, once again delivered magnificently by Danny Bowes.

The lads get back to rocking out with 'Andy Warhol Said'; another witty lyric from Luke Morley lamenting the sudden rise of 'celebrities' with no discernable talent. As the song succinctly puts it: 'Everyone gets a shot, if you're any good or not!' 'What a Beautiful Day' is next, an uplifiting pop/rock track sung in the first-person; about a man so cheered up by the sight of an attractive girl, that he forgets the fact that the weather is in fact, awful! Contrasting this is 'It's all About You', a slower piano-led song where the person in the song is contemplating whether to end his relationship, as he has noticed her interest in him diminish markedly. Not a million miles away from 'Numb' from the 'Giving The Game Away' album, though this song is not quite as Beatle-esque.

Rounding the album off, another relationship song; 'Stubborn Kinda Love. A rousing rocker to end the album, this concerns a more love/hate type of relationship.

To conclude: another strong set of songs excellently played and produced, and yet again a stellar vocal performance from Danny Bowes. Although there are a few welcome variations this time around, it is nothing drastic and Thunder's fans will be very happy with this album.

Live In Munich 1977 [DVD] [2006]
Live In Munich 1977 [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Rainbow

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally the wait is over..., 8 Oct. 2006
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
For fans of Blackmore/Dio, this live DVD is the Holy Grail - the only complete concert filmed while Ronnie James Dio was in the band is this show, shot in Munich on 20 October 1977 for the German television show 'Rockpalast'. Bootlegs of the concert have circulated for many years (I had an extremely poor quality VHS copy of it myself) and, unless you had access to German satellite TV and were lucky enough to catch it when it was repeated, that was the only way to see it. Until now that is, with the complete show being issued on this DVD, at long last.

I've seen some disparaging comments elsewhere regarding the quality of the footage used; frankly that astounds me, given that the show is almost 30 years old. The technology then is understandably much more primitive than that available today, and you do see some 'microphony' effects in the picture (lines across the image when the sound gets loud). That is something that affected almost every live video however, until the advent of modern digital technology, so basically do not expect the picture to be as sharp as, say, the Dio 'Holy Diver Live' DVD. It is still perfectly acceptable, and even if you have this concert as a good quality VHS taped from television (I have), I would still say this DVD is a cleaner picture.

The show itself demonstrates Blackmore's band (this is the line-up which went on to record the album 'Long Live Rock 'n' Roll' with Bob Daisley on bass, David Stone on keyboards and the late Cozy Powell on drums) in full flow, with both the Man In Black and the Man on the Silver Mountain both at the height of their powers. Many songs took on extended forms, with plenty of room for Ritchie and co. to improvise freely. If nothing else, it proves the Punk ethos was not as all-pervasive in 1977 as the NME would have you believe!

You even get to see the much-vaunted 'electric rainbow' which dominated the stage set; lighting up in stages during 'Catch the Rainbow', this must have been extremely impressive for those in the audience. For good measure, the show concludes with a guitar smash-up; having seen Blackmore do that in 'California Jam' and on the later Rainbow video 'Live Between The Eyes, one might be forgiven for thinking he did that at every gig, not so - he only did it on rare occasions.

The bonus features include promo videos for 'Long Live Rock 'n' roll', 'Gates of Babylon' and 'LA Connection'. Ritchie Blackmore was known for his hatred of making videos, so these are crude at best (you see stray cameramen and sound mikes appear), but are of interest due to the re-recorded Dio vocals. In addition, Bob Daisley (bassist for Rainbow in 1977/78) and tour manager Colin Hart give exclusive interviews, plus there is a photo gallery and slide show included. Also provided is a faithful reproduction of the 1977 tour programme (although reduced in size to fit the DVD case), even including the adverts of the time.

All in all then, an essential item for Blackmore or Dio fans, and those recently discovering either guitarist or singer should investigate this also. At the price offered, it is a steal. Buy it today!

Holy Diver Live [DVD] [2006]
Holy Diver Live [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Dio
Price: £14.99

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No frills, just good old-fashioned ROCK, 3 Jun. 2006
This review is from: Holy Diver Live [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
Dio has, as Tenacious D point out, rocked for a long, long time but on the evidence of this live concert DVD, its going to be some time yet before he is ready to pass the torch.

This show, filmed at the London Astoria in October 2005 was built around the seminal 1983 album 'Holy Diver'. The prospect of seeing the whole of the album performed live drew in the punters wherever they played, and the Astoria was packed out to see Dio's current line-up take a step back in time. There was a late change to the squad however; regular guitarist Craig Goldy had withdrawn from the tour with a hand injury so former Dio six-stringer Doug Aldrich deputised at extremely short notice, having just completed a tour with Whitesnake.

Although the band were renowned at one time for their ever more elaborate stage sets, these days they stick to the basics, just five guys on stage, with lights, amps and a simple backdrop (of the 'Holy Diver' album cover art) - Denzil has long since been retired! The filming of the concert footage is similarly straightforward; plenty of camera angles offering many views of the band members rocking out, including one 'flying camera' over the crowd. Unlike the previous DVD: 'Evil or Divine', there is no grainy filter effect nor are there any sepia 'cut' shots - just straightforward live footage all the way.

With such a minimalist approach it falls to the guys on stage to deliver the goods, and alongside Ronnie James Dio is one of rock's real showmen in bassist Rudy Sarzo. He throws shapes many guitarists would balk at, while keeping perfect time and all with a huge grin on his face - he shows here why he has remained in demand among the premier league of hard rock. Doug Aldrich on the other side of the stage brings electrifying solos and equally dynamic stage presence to Dio. He and Sarzo are a perfect blend; the DVD is worth getting just to see these two at work. With Simon Wright driving the whole thing along with precision and Scott Warren adding the colour it is a formidable combo.

OF course the main focus is on the man who gives his name to the band: Ronnie James Dio demonstrates here just why he is held in such high regard by fans and fellow musicians alike. His voice remains strong and clear, if a little lower in pitch nowadays, and his ability to deliver his lines with such power while bounding about the stage is truly astonishing - others would need to stand and breathe deeply to do that, and to do it for two hours plus, night after night, beggars belief.

The DVD features the full set from the Astoria show, and the 'Holy Diver' segment is preceded by a short animation; an extended version of that was played each night but is edited down for this presentation. They have left in a scary moment when a stage intruder dared to invade during 'Heaven and Hell'; not the brightest thing that fan ever did but it was handled superbly by the singer, and it did not even throw him off his stride. Both drum and guitar solos are featured in full, and a nice moment is when the camera zooms out to reveal an audience member holding a digital camera up to take a picture of Doug Aldrich in full flight. At the end of the set, with the cheers of the crowd ringing in the band's ears the footage fades out.

The interview section is reasonably standard fare, interestingly however it is bassist Rudy Sarzo who is on screen first, all band members talk about how well things had gone on the tour. Particular mention was made of the band's trip to Russia prior to the UK dates; both RJD and drummer Simon Wright spoke at length about the enjoyable experience the band members had. Finally, the crew get to speak on camera too, and it is clear they too remain fans of the 'man on the silver mountain'.

All in all a worthwhile purchase, whether you were lucky enough to see this show last year or not. The band are once again on the road this year, with Craig Goldy having recovered from injury to reclaim his guitar role, and as intimated at the top of this review, Tenacious D will have a long wait before they can expect the torch!

Whitesnake-Live [DVD] [2006]
Whitesnake-Live [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Whitesnake
Price: £13.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's not 1980 any more, 3 May 2006
This review is from: Whitesnake-Live [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
After having read the earlier review I gather that the writer wishes that the band known today as 'Whitesnake' still comprised the personnel which recorded the 'Ready an' Willing' album. That era ended almost a quarter of a century ago, and the line-up changes of which he speaks have been well documented elsewhere, so I fail to understand why he even shelled out for this disc. Surely he knew what he was going to get when he ordered the DVD?

In any event, for those of you who do prefer the Moody/Marsden/Murray era, those guys are still playing and even have their own DVD out.

As for the here and now, in this reviewer's opinion the current Whitesnake line-up is as potent as anything DC has had since the glory days of the 1980s. This DVD, recorded at London's Hammersmith Apollo (or 'Odeon' as the singer insists on still calling it) in late 2004 may not feature any new material (the most recent song played dating from 1989) but the songs presented are delivered with fire and passion; each band member contributes fully to the live show - these are not mere backing musicians! The two guitarists (Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach) are highly accomplished players, equal to the task of replicating solos originally recorded by such greats as John Sykes and Steve Vai, and pay proper respect to the Marsden/Moody twin guitar sound (for example the twin lead in 'Ready an' Willing' is faithfully reproduced). The filming of the show is top-drawer; Coverdale went straight for the top man in director Hamish Hamilton and he has done a marvellous job of putting the viewer in the audience, it really does feel like you are in the front row watching the guys play. Although there are many cuts from singer to band and to audience, it is not overdone and the 'grainy' B/W shots add to the atmosphere, though I accept that this effect in the hands of lesser directors can be distracting. In my opinion the director has got it about right.

Returning to the personnel issue, the one change to the line-up since this DVD was filmed is the departure of bassist Marco Mendoza. He has tremendous stage presence as illustrated on the concert footage, and will be missed when the band return to the UK stage for the 2006 summer tour. However David Coverdale has finally stabilised the band, and the interaction between the guys and enjoyment of each other's playing is evident throughout the DVD.

To bring this to a close: this DVD is expertly filmed, superbly recorded, including a top-notch selection of songs, featuring first-rate musicians playing at their maximum, with an appreciative audience visibly enjoying the spectacle, and all fronted by one of the true legends of hard rock. Thoroughly recommended.

Everything In Moderation
Everything In Moderation

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic rock for the 'noughties', 11 Mar. 2006
Winterville are a three-piece band built around the precocious talent of lead guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Peter Shoulder; this native of Durham (North-East England) has a voice and a guitar sound which belies his tender years. He has been touring the UK with his band for the last two years, including presitgious support slots opening for Thunder and the revived, John Sykes-led Thin Lizzy. This album is the first full-length offering from the guys (there have been two EPs available at gigs) and showcases Shoulder's rich, bluesy voice over a powerful rock soundscape.
There are many highlights on this record; the most immediate track is 'My Angels', with a chorus that will have you singing along after just one spin, and another favourite of mine is 'Mock Halo'. The guys change tack for the acerbic 'Mr 3%', an acoustic number whose lyric retells the familiar tale of greedy managers and struggling artists, but the rest of the album is full-on rock, with more than a hint of grunge in the band's sound.
Although the focus of this band is inevitably Peter Shoulder's wonderfully rich singing voice, allied to his powerful guitar playing, mention must be made of the extremely tight rhythm section: bassist Joss Clapp is a very fluid bassist and drummer Mario Goosens drives things along with the minimum of fuss but maximum power.
The band continue to tour the United Kingdom extensively and their incendiary live sound is earning them quite a loyal following; they have succeeded in capturing the energy of their live performance on this album. For those elsewhere who hanker for a more traditional heavy rock band I recommend that you check out this exciting young band.

Queen II
Queen II
Price: £21.36

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nobody played synthesizer...again!, 29 Jan. 2005
This review is from: Queen II (Audio CD)
The album with the iconic Mick Rock cover shot, inspired by a Marlene Dietrich pose and famously recreated for the later 'Bohemian Rhapsody' video clip. Divided into a 'Side White' and a 'Side Black' on the original vinyl edition, the writing credits are divided between guitarist Brian May and singer Freddie Mercury, with the exception of one track from drummer Roger Taylor,.
Side White opens with 'Procession/Father to Son', where the unmistakable Brian May guitar sound starts to establish itself, as do the trademark vocal harmonies. Although a more straightforward side, 'White Queen' shows May can do 'epic' as well as Mercury.
The side closes with Taylor's 'Loser In The End', a cautionary tale to mothers who over protect their sons!
Side Black is where the fun really begins however, 'Ogre Battle' introduces those multi-layered guitar tracks married with outrageous shrieks, before Freddie brings us into the song with his quirky lyrical imagery. The tracks run into one another from this point on in a similar style to The Beatles' 'Abbey Road', all leading up to the awesome 'March of The Black Queen'. This track is a definite forerunner to the better known 'Bo Rhap' and possibly gave Freddie the impetus to try one of his epics as a single! Following straight on is the Beatles-esque 'Funny How Love Is', a lighter song that has the effect of bringing the listener down gently, before closing the album with the complete version of 'Seven Seas of Rhye'.
Listening to this album again, it is clear how much Freddie's voice changed over the years; he is singing in a noticeably higher register throughout this album than was the case by the 80s. In the credits, they stated proudly that 'nobody played synthesizer...again', a path they stuck to throughout the 1970s, and certainly something which endeared the band to the rock fans of the day.
More than 30 years on, 'Queen II' stands as a landmark album in a legendary band's career. Once again, possibly not the most accessible to newer listeners, but one that rewards repeated listens. Nailed-on five stars!

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