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P. B. Koeb (Aljezur, Portugal)

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From The Beginning
From The Beginning

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The kitchen sink treatment., 20 Jan. 2011
This review is from: From The Beginning (Audio CD)
Just acquired, from a shop in Bratislava...... lying there on a shelf. Brand new, for the quivalent of about forty-five quid. A magnificently lavish box set presentation of ELP's musical odyssey, which is worth the trouble of acquiring. (Even though i already have all the albums through to "Works Volume 2" in vinyl form, and compact disc to "Welcome Back My Friends.....".) Yes, there is an awful lot of duplication, but there are several live and slightly alternative versions which add to the interest.

The content is sensibly skewed towards the golden run of albums, until the group famously got completely lost in their own excess and hype. Disc one pleasingly draws in one excellent selection from each of the member's previous groups, before giving a huge part of the first album. Only the "Three Fates" is missing, whilst "The Barbarian" and "Knife Edge" are presented as live versions. A good, previously unreleased eighteen minute version of "Rondo" features, to add interest. This also demonstrates, however, where ELP sometimes went wrong. Thrilling keyboard work, either side of an overlong and over-indulgent percussion solo.

Disc two presents the whole of the great "Tarkus" suite, sensibly opening, plus a couple of tracks from that album's second side. Then the pretty "Oh, My Father" out-take comes before a big portion of the "Trilogy" album. Only "Living Sin" is missing, as such, as both "Hoedown" and "The Sheriff" feature as live versions. (The latter is combined with "Jeremy Bender" from the triple live LP.) First mixes of "Jerusalem" and "Still... You Turn Me On", plus the "When The Apple Blossoms" oddity, close things out.

Disc three opens with the full thirty minute "Karn Evil 9" opus, without having to turn the "Brain Salad Surgery" record over midway through the first impression. Dodgy lyrics aside, a great prog rock highlight. The aforementioned "Jeremy Bender/Sheriff" live track comes next, before early versions of Greg Lake's "C'est La Vie" and perennial "I Believe In Father Christmas". Then a bit more from "Works Volume One", including the somewhat pretenciously titled "Piano Concerto No 1" from Keith Emerson. (Actually very worthwhile.) That album's "Pirates" comes in a wayward live form, although i am not a huge fan of the original either.

Disc four presents another worthwhile moment from "Works Volume One", in the form of the well-known "Fanfare For The Common Man". Three tracks follow from the stop-gap "Works Volume Two" release, before moving on to a selection from the dreaded "later albums". My interest in ELP has effectively ended by then, but i shall add an updated impression of this material. Disc five will, likewise, be a new experience. This is the "Live At Mar Y Sol 1972" disc, featuring the "Tarkus" and "Pictures At An Exhibition" suites, plus other bits and pieces.

Five full-length discs for your listening pleasure and there is even a fifty-three minute dvd to savour, along with a colourful sixty page booklet. Enough to keep purchasers of this set occupied for many an hour. Seemingly not that easy to acquire, but i suggest that this box set is of definite value to fans of these "noise merchants".

PS. The fourth disc is a bit ho-hum, as it works its way through the latter period. Whilst the live disc is an interesting organic document, i found it a bit tedious. And, dare i say it, there are better live versions of its content to be found elsewhere.

Price: £8.74

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent re-issue., 20 Jan. 2011
This review is from: Blow-Up (Audio CD)
Quite possibly a definitive re-issue of, for me, the great soundtrack to Antonioni's cult sixties film. I am glad to get my hands on a compact disc copy, so as to preserve the precious grooves of my rather expensive vinyl issue. Most of the soundtrack was composed by Herbie Hancock, using a variety of styles which were in vogue. Frequently very "groovy" and in the "cool jazz" vein, sometimes very reflective. Then there was the rather curious presence of the fabulous "Stroll On", as performed in the film by The Yardbirds. The soundtrack's running order has been pleasingly revised, so as to put it in line with the film.

This re-issue adds quite a few bonus tracks, as compared with the original vinyl release. There are two "Loving Spoonful" songs and a worthwhile Herbie Hancock out-take. Of even greater interest, perhaps, are two extremely rare selections from the sixties psychedelic group Tomorrow. (Who were originally cast to appear in the film.) If "Am I Glad To See You" has real curiosity value, "Blow Up" is a rather naff attempt to give some lyrical insight to the film's narrative. (Let's just say that the song has not aged at all well.)

The whole comes with a really attractive booklet, which gives excellent insight to the soundtrack's conception. And we finally get to see that Herbie Hancock used some top-quality American jazz musicians to realise his vision. (Surprise, surprise.) This is one soundtrack which i can thoroughly recommend. Unreservedly. It is a true delight.

Shapes of Things: 60s Groups & Sessions
Shapes of Things: 60s Groups & Sessions

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A curate's egg!!!, 18 Jan. 2011
Just bought at a Bratislava outlet, as part of a liquidation sale, for about eight quid. Definitely worthwhile, at that price, because it is such a fascinating voyage through Jeff Beck's sixties output. Mixing some of his work with the Yardbirds, and as a solo artist, with some distinctly obscure and varied session work. For the sake of completeness, here is the track listing......

1. Dracula's Daughter (Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages)
2. Come Back Baby (SLS&TS)
3. I'm Not Running Away (The Fitz & Startz)
4. So Sweet (TF&S)
5. That's My Story (The Nightshift)
6. Stormy Monday Blues (The Nightshift)
7. Heart Full Of Soul (Yardbirds)
8. Evil Hearted You (Yardbirds)
9. Still I'm Sad (Yardbirds)
10.Shapes Of Things (Yardbirds)
11.Train Kept A-Rollin' (Yardbirds)
12.Jeff's Blues (Yardbirds)
13.Steelin' (Jeff Beck & Jimmy Page)
14.Chuckles (JB&JP)
15.But She's Mine (John's Children)
16.And The Sun Will Shine (Paul Jones)
17.The Dog Presides (Paul Jones)
18.Hi Ho Silver Lining (Jeff Beck)
19.Beck's Bolero (JB)
20.Rock My Plimsoul (JB)
21.Utterly Simple (The Smoke)
22.Barabajagal (Donovan with The Jeff Beck Group)
23.Bed With Me (DwTJBG)
24.The Eureka Springs Garbage Lady (Girls Together Outrageously aka The GTOs)
25.The Captain's Fat Theresa Shoes (The GTOs)
26.The Ghost Chained To The Past, Present, And Future (The GTOs)

For one or two of the selections, it is uncertain as to whether Jeff Beck actually participated. Possibly a couple of better Yardbirds guitar pyrotechnics tracks could have featured, like "Lost Woman" and "Happenings Ten Years' Time Ago". However, that does not detract from the overall enjoyment of this set's amazing curiosity value, so i won't deduct any stars. It comes with detailed liner notes and a nice slip case presentation. Just start Googling the artists involved, so as to find out more. (None more so than the Girls Together Outrageously, which was a Frank Zappa side project of which i had never heard.) Definitely of interest to fans of Jeff Beck's varied career.

The Last Valley [1970] [DVD]
The Last Valley [1970] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michael Caine
Price: £4.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Time for a remake of the final reel?, 15 Jan. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Last Valley [1970] [DVD] (DVD)
Finally! I get to see this film. Chanced upon it, late one evening, so many years ago. Watched only the opening few minutes, and then retired to the land of nod. Subsequently never had the opportunity on any television channel to satisfy my curiosity, until now. Was it worth the wait? Well, sort of. This is probably a three and a half star rating, if that were possible.

Overall, i have the feeling that there IS a potentially great film in there.... somewhere. There are many positives. Interesting storyline, regarding the Thirty Years War. Good acting from the principals, but some of the support cast are a bit stagey. Even, dare i say it, a little hammy. (Vladek Sheybal's odd cameo appearance, in particular, complete with a technicolour map!) My main concern, however, is that James Clavell's directing really does seem to give a bit of a strange feel to proceedings. (I believe that his career was subsequently restricted to television work, after the film's poor reception.) In another director's hands, we might well have gotten a far better result. If the first portion of the film is worthwhile, too much gets crammed into the final half hour. We get a pretty disappointing "battle sequence" which is very unconvincing, looking like it used ToyTown on fire. From a dramatic effect point of view, it doesn't quite cut it. Even John Barry's film score becomes a little uninspiring, in my opinion.

The dvd is fairly basic, as others have pointed out, and i am sure this film would look better on the big screen. This format is merely adequate. No sub-titles. Somehow, i feel that some insight from Michael Caine or Omar Sharif would definitely add to the interest. Anyhow, at least the price is reasonably right, and the curious can catch up with this curate's egg of a film without having to pay out a fortune.

Can't Get Enough
Can't Get Enough
Price: £5.87

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Big Bazzer's greatest achievement?, 10 Jan. 2011
This review is from: Can't Get Enough (Audio CD)
Yet again, i am surprised there is no review of this. Let's correct that anomaly, as Barry White's "Can't Get Enough" is a truly tremendous release. (Believe it or not.) Bookended by parts one and two of the instrumental "Mellow Mood", and never really putting a foot wrong. In between are the very familiar "You're The First, The Last, My Everything" and full-length "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe". (Although i prefer the "air conga" opportunity of the single mix.) But this album has so much more to offer than those two hits.

Purchasers may be a little disappointed that the running time is so short, and there is definitely better value to be had elsewhere. However, "CGE" features a few great moments which simply are not available on the plethora of Barry White compilations. There is the extended crooning of "I Can't Believe (That You Love Me"), whose ten plus minutes are too much for any standard compilation. "Oh Love, Well We Finally Made It" is possibly a bit more disposable, but definitely not at all bad. And there is also the lesser-known but lovely "I Love You More Than Anything, (In This World, Girl)", which does not feature on any of the regular compilations either.

All in all, "CGE" possibly represents Barry White's greatest album. His "What's Going On", dare i say it, even though many will find that statement to be sacrilegious. However, this is a very much better album than one might imagine, and definitely not worthy of anybody's contempt.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 14, 2012 2:24 PM GMT

Le Cinema De Serge Gain
Le Cinema De Serge Gain
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £27.63

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps only for the dedicated., 5 Jan. 2011
This review is from: Le Cinema De Serge Gain (Audio CD)
Just recently bought, at an upmarket Bratislava book/cd/dvd retailer, for an unbeatable 25 euros. Fabulous value, therefore, for a bit over 21 quid. Even rather a no-brainer of a purchase, quite frankly. Is it worth paying more to acquire this three-disc set? That would doubtless depend on one's interest in Serge Gainsbourg.

This represents the fourth Gainsbourg and related box set i have now bought. In spite of that, i can only have some twelve tracks of "Le Cinema De Serge Gainsbourg" elsewhere. So there is plenty of new stuff on offer, much of which comes from unavailable or desperately scarce sources. Overall, "LCDSG" represents a fascinating overview of Serge Gainsbourg's thirty year musical journey. There are a total of 72 selections, drawn from 36 films. Many of the films are of a distinctly obscure nature, as i remember few of them from my time in the French-speaking part of Switzerland.

The material is, unsurprisingly, very diverse. Listeners will encounter influences of jazz, sixties and seventies pop, folk, straight "film music", the lush orchestrations of the "Melody Nelson" era and even some vaguely psych/Indian selections. Marvel to a lovely, early instrumental version of "Je T'Aime... Moi Non Plus" from the 1966 "Les Coeurs Verts". My favourite disc would have to be the third, which mostly covers the seventies and eighties. Possibly because the songs are a bit more familiar, and possibly because there is more in the way of vocals.

Whilst probably too much for the casual fan, this box set is an excellent complement to other Serge retrospectives. One slight criticism, however, for the fact that there was room to include more. The first two discs run some 65 minutes, and the third about 70. This seems all the more of a shame as some soundtracks are a little under-represented. Hence my four star rating.

Price: £35.44

5.0 out of 5 stars Magnifique!, 22 Dec. 2010
This review is from: Quoi (Audio CD)
Whilst i am not especially appreciative of Jane Birkin's "talent", either as an actress or singer, i can wholeheartedly recommend this superb single disc retrospective. (Just shop around a little.) I feel that she was fortunate enough to become Serge Gainsbourg's principal muse, and interpreted many of his greatest songs. (Both as a solo artist and in duets with the great man.) Would she otherwise have succeeded, as a singer or actress, in her native language? Most unlikely, i think.

In spite of the relatively naff sleeve, with an RTL publicity spot in one corner, the musical content is utterly unimpeachable. No filler. Nothing duff. Only top-quality songs. Yet another compilation which is worth having, but more as an overall part of Serge Gainsbourg's career puzzle. There is also a Jane Birkin longbox retrospective, which is not particularly cheap, but this compilation is probably adequate for the casually curious listener.

De Serge Gainsbourg a Gainsbarre
De Serge Gainsbourg a Gainsbarre
Price: £48.04

5.0 out of 5 stars A good starting point., 21 Dec. 2010
A three disc retrospective of Serge Gainsbourg's eclectic career. Spanning a period of about thirty years, and drawing in sixty-six selections. This one represents a good starting point, should you wish to know more about this maverick genius. Or it may be enough for many casual fans. Better value, i think, than many of the single or double disc compilations, which simply skim the surface a little too much and are not necessarily very cheap. This one is a bit more expensive, and offers a fair bit more. It also features an informative booklet.

Mister Melody: Les Interpretes
Mister Melody: Les Interpretes
Price: £41.27

5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensable., 21 Dec. 2010
A very, very attractive four disc box set of artists' interpretations of some of Serge Gainsbourg's songs, which features an unbelievably eclectic range of choices. I am afraid that i do not currently have access to my copy, and cannot give any specific details of the content. This remains a magnificent box set, however, even if i do not like all the artists who feature. Covering something like a forty year period of, almost exclusively, French artists.

A fabulous historical document, which beautifully showcases Serge Gainsbourg's songwriting talent. Lovingly packaged, and featuring a deluxe booklet. A magnificent complement to any collection of Serge Gainsbourg's music.

Versions Femmes
Versions Femmes

5.0 out of 5 stars Pleasing compilation., 21 Dec. 2010
This review is from: Versions Femmes (Audio CD)
A very nice single disc regrouping of songs by many of Serge Gainsbourg's muses. Featuring an extremely eclectic range of female singers. Many will be well-known to potential purchsers, like Isabelle Adjani, Jane Birkin, Vanessa Paradis, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Francoise Hardy and, er, Petula Clark!? Others not so much. Whilst it is an extremely good compilation, its price is somewhat prohibitively expensive. Must be cheaper through the website. Alternatively, most of this disc's contents are available on the lovely "Mister Melody" four disc box set.

PS. Not cheap, even through the website. At least it is available for a more reasonable price.

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