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Barca 82 (UK)

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Magic
Magic
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 7.16

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Authentic, 6 Oct 2007
This review is from: Magic (Audio CD)
Well, Bruce is back and I have to admit I approached this with a little trepedation. The single Radio Nowhere did not impress me and I was worried we were about to see Bruce enetering late middle age prepared to settle for less and rehashing familiar themes in the same old way. I wasn't sure that making an album with the E-Streeters was a move in the right direction after the great solo stuff he has produced of late. How wrong I was. This man just never lets you down. These songs have an authenticity and a truth at their core that is undeniable. They say important things about the world we are living in. Things that too often go left unsaid by popular culture, or just as often become garbled in the hands of less experienced and less talented artists.

The album reminds me of The River in places and this I think is why the E-Street band work. There a freshness to songs like You'll be Comin' Down and Livin' in the Future that refuses to acknowledge the aging process that this group of old friends are going through. But its never tacky or trite. Its clear Bruce has not reassembled them for the sake of it or for another paycheck- he has something to say and the band were needed this time.

The key track is probably Magic- by turns a sinister and beguiling song that warns us about the threat posed in the modern age by truth and lies, morality and the spin of the media and politics. The music on this track is eerie and atmospheric and the spooky line "this is what will be" repeats itself like a twisted litany. I'll Work for Your Love is both heartfelt and defiant, with a character determined and resolute in the face of his own faults. Long Walk Home sounds like familiar homsepun Bruce - could almost be My Hometown, but listen closer- with Bruce you need to. Theres is strangeness and ambiguity here and the song is concerned with how reassuring appearances can mask the coldness and petty prejudices of small town life. The cynicism of "son, we're lucky in this town, its a beautiful place to be born, it just wraps its arms around you, nobody crowds you, nobody goes it alone" is no less clear or knowing for being set against the gentle singalong melody. The vocals in places are a real departure for Bruce, most notably on Your Own Worst Enemy where he is in fine melodramatic form, crooning away his regrets and missed chances - the backing vocals also work well on this.

We get Last to Die another post apolocapltic offering that must be a close relation to Roulette, less frantic and more reflective, but has that simmering anger at the dark doings of big government. Girls in Their Summer clothes evokes the familiar Jersey shorleline but seen through the eyes of an older, wiser character. Devil's Arcade is a typically tough, character driven song about the effect of loss on individuals in this case a widow of a soildier fighting America's battles in the Middle East. To top it off there is a tribute to his friend who died recently- the warmth, love and respect stamped on every line. As ever with Bruce, and this I think is why he strikes a chord with so many of us, its the individual that concerns him. The daily struggle set against circumstances and influences both small and global. Like Philip Roth the writer, he is documenting what it is to live in these times. I've grown up on his music and he has always been there, almost like a father. As bad as things get either personally or out there in what passes for this world, I'm thankful Bruce is there to try to help us make sense of it all.


Lunar Park
Lunar Park
by Bret Easton Ellis
Edition: Paperback

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, 2 Nov 2006
This review is from: Lunar Park (Paperback)
I have just finished this and it was the first time I'd read an Ellis novel. It was engaging and the writing is bright and sharp from the start despite initially exploring the cliched theme of 'how hard it can be to cope with fame, fortune, drugs sex and booze'. In Ellis' hands this is treated intelligently and as a result the main character (Ellis) is easy to empathise with.

Family reationships, particularly the ones Ellis has with his wife and son are expertly drawn. The themes of family, of loss and regret run through the book as Ellis struggles to eschew his formerly hedonistic lifestyle to make life with a family in suburbia work. There is also a supernatural angle to the book though we are kept guessing as to the weight that can be afforded to this from Ellis' state of mind. The story keeps you turning the pages with a killer apparently on the loose and boys going missing in the authors' neighbourhood. What starts out as a fairly cynical detached view of the world through Ellis' eyes gradually softens and the tale unfolds until in the latter part of the book you are drawn into the relationship of Ellis and his dead father. The ending is touching and poignant - an unforgettable sequence of memories where Ellis shows us brief glimpses from a life long since lost to him. The book is about the ties that bind families together, and the love and pain that we feel as a result.


Leviathan (FF Classics)
Leviathan (FF Classics)
by Paul Auster
Edition: Paperback

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Auster, 10 Sep 2006
I'm a big Auster fan and this is probably my favourite book of his. It grips from the start as the story of Ben Sachs told through the eyes of his friend Peter Aaron. Its a great story and the characters are well drawn. The terrorism theme is unusual for him, and has echoes of American Pastoral by Philip Roth- both books have friends and family struggling to come to terms with a radical acquaintance.
Auster uses the statue of liberty as a fitting allegory for the establishment and for the way people settle for less, in a world bereft of truth, meaning or ideology. Ben Sachs is an unforgettable character, but what lingers is the compromised muddied relationship between Aaron and Sachs, and the things left unsaid and undone.


The Historian
The Historian
by Elizabeth Kostova
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A let down, 3 Aug 2006
This review is from: The Historian (Paperback)
The premise is a good one and the book is well written but somehow this left me as cold as one of Vlads take away garlic breads. Despite the slow pace, characters are in 2D and their development is minimal. Having three people relate their tales can get confusing - the weak characterisation plays its part here- there is very little difference in the 'voices' of Paul and Rossi. There are some brilliant moments, the entombment of Rossi and Dracula is eerie, but the ending is abrupt and too clean - whatever happended to the librarian? and what did we ever learn about him? Its implausible in places, from the comings and goings through eastern block countries in the cold war to the Mills and Boon portrayal of Rossi and Helens' mother romance. On the plus side, the research has been good and the sense of place and history is nailed down. Still, though it didnt feel like the author was wholly convincing.


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