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Price: 8.48

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Electronic Bliss!, 9 April 2002
This review is from: Darkdancer (Audio CD)
To describe Les Rythmes last offering Darkdancer as a simple retro step back to the early eighties is a huge mistake. Serious musicians and critics often rubbish this period despite the fact that it produced some of the most memorable pop songs ever recorded. Lu Cont's desire was to pay homage to the melodic electro of this period and adapt it to the modern night clubs of Europe. The key to this albums stunning success is the use of classic analogue keyboards which result in Darkdancer's rich and warm texture. It's incredibly catchy in places and superbly produced and you will be hard pushed to pick a favourate track. Darkdancer is a perfect summer album and it will never fail to get you in the mood for a night out clubbing. 80's diva Shannon makes a welcome return on a track that must have been written with her in mind called Takes a Little Time and it really cries out for a single release. Former 80's teen hero Nik Kershaw also comes out of exile and provides the vocal honours on Sometimes aided by a classic analogue bassline. It's the best thing he has ever done! I was fortunte enough to see Les Rythmes perform live in the dance tent at Reading Festival last summer, and the crowd went absolutely manic to the catchy rifts of Darkdancer. If you own a copy of the Human League's Dare or any of Depeche Mode's Vince Clark singles, you will adore this album!

This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours
This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours
Offered by Giant Entertainment
Price: 3.52

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 1998's Best Album...and that's no lie!, 9 April 2002
Most guitar driven "rock" often fails because when you delve beyond the distortion and energy, you rarely come across a half decent tune. Luckily for the Manic's, they know a thing or two about basic song structure and anthem inspiring melodies. There are no less than 13 finely crafted tracks on this album. The power and intelligence of previous albums is still in evidence on this release, but here it combines with some thoughtful orchestral arrangements, providing the tracks with a more varied feel to them. Some die-hard fans have dismissed Truth which catches the Manic's in a more thoughtful mode, but this is the album that propelled the Welsh Wonders into music's Premier League. Truth doesn't quite embrace the "horror" of commercial meltdown as many have suggested. It simply lacks the pointless guitar thrashing that some fans expect from this particular genre of music. The good news is that the Manic's have matured. Whilst this album is more melody centred than your average guitar band offering, Truth still manages to retain a dark theme of deep meloncholy that is irresistible. Four memorable singles are on offer here, including the superb Tsunami. Most of the album tracks would have performed well as single releases. You're Tender and You're Tired is one of the best tracks that the Manic's have ever recorded, easily beating the best of Welsh competitors Stereophonics. This is My Truth...will be a tough album to follow.

This Is Hardcore
This Is Hardcore
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: 4.38

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reality Bites Back!, 9 April 2002
This review is from: This Is Hardcore (Audio CD)
How do you follow the multi-platinum selling, perfect pop of Different Class? Well, you can wave bye bye to that gold disc and release your darkest collection of songs to date. That's exactly what Pulp did with This is Hardcore. It may have been considered a commercial "flop" by some insiders, but their loss was very much our gain. This is Hardcore is undoubtedly Pulp's finest collection of songs. It's depressing, funny, sad, despondent and uncomfortable to listen to if you are approaching that difficult age of 33. This is a moody, almost sleazy album in places and it's all the better for it. Different Class had an instant appeal to it, but I quickly lost interest.Two years on, Hardcore is still essential listening. That's the biggest compliment you can give to any album, if you still play and treasure it months after the hype has faded. It took a few listens for me to fully appreciate this album, but it soons hit you. Practically every listener will identify with the opening track The Fear. A tale of missed opportunities and panic attacks when everything goes horribly wrong. It all rings so true, and Jarvis knows it. Helped of course by the fine melody, the album touches on many fears but you sort of laff because Jarvis delivers his lyrics like some stand-up comedian. Other highlights include Helped The Aged and the title track which is aided along the way by strings Diva Anne Dudley. Hypnotic and seductive and quite simply brilliant. The track Dishes will make you chuckle whilst TV Movie and A Little Soul will scare you slightly. I never thought that Pulp would release a finer album than His N Hers, but Hardcore is in a class of it's own

A Secret Wish
A Secret Wish

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Electro-Perfecto!, 9 April 2002
This review is from: A Secret Wish (Audio CD)
Here's a much forgotten secret from the mid eighties, Propaganda's Secret Wish is one of the best albums from this period of golden pop. The album was produced by one of the UK's best known and most successful producer's Trevor Horn, who was also the driving force behind the trend setting debuts of ABC and Frankie Goes To Hollywood. Horn's love of complex string arrangements are used to good effect giving Propaganda's well constructed songs an added dimension that starker electronic albums could sometimes lack. Propaganda proved they were on equal terms with fellow German innovators Kraftwerk by releasing an album where every track is a gem. Clever use of synth sequencing and analogue layers give many of the tracks a definite edge, and the album still sounds superb by today's techno standards some 15 years after it was released. This sort of music is always helped by a strong vocalist, and the enigmatic Claudia Brucken with her distinctive German voice is as important to the success of this album as Alison Moyet was to Yazoo. Brucken's vocals easily generate pure emotion against the harsh, industrial sequencing of some of the tracks. On Jewel she provides a manic performance that I really haven't heard from any female vocalist since. It's very difficult to pick highlight tracks as favourites, because they are all so good, but Duel remains as one of the best pop songs from this period. It's a perfect mix of classical interludes and melodic synths, something Horn was to revisit on the PSB classic Left To My Own Devices from 1988. Heaven 17's Glenn Gregory helps out on the vocals for the single P-Machinery, a song that has one of the catchiest synth leads I have ever heard. Japan's David Sylvian also provided the bleeps in the intro. Sorry For Laughing is a touching change of pace and something of a classic. Huge heaps of melancholy and another memorable pop tune. If I'm pushed, I'd say that Dr Mabuse is the highlight purely for it's complexity and change of pace halfway through into a pure killer of a bassline (I bet Adamski liked this one before recording his track Killer!). A dramatic song like most of the album and it was no surprise to hear tracks from this album used for endless UK TV theme tunes and car adverts. Secret Wish easily makes my own personal top ten along with the Human League's Dare and Depeche Mode's Black Celebration. Sadly, I own the original 1985 CD release of this album so I don't have the extra tracks, but I can recommend the remix album Wishful Thinking. Buy Secret Wish and you'll love it. Trust me.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 8, 2009 11:05 PM GMT

Upstairs At Eric's
Upstairs At Eric's

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vince Clarke's Answer To Dare, 9 April 2002
This review is from: Upstairs At Eric's (Audio CD)
Vince Clarke has had a prolific and successful career that many artists would envy but for me this album still remains as his best work to date. It contains all the Clark tradmarks of toe-tapping melodies that always leave a lasting mark on the listener but it is also his darkest work to date. Powerful vocals from the blues inspired Alison Moyet helped make Yazoo a class act. It was a clever mix of passionate vocals against the backdrop of Clarke's masterful synth rifts, that make this album such a must own classic. Like many of the acclaimed electro 80's albums, it benefits greatly from the warm sounds that were provided by the old classic analogue synths (Clarke now has the biggest collection of analogue synths in the UK). The depth and lyrical contents of the songs has also helped this album outlive the throwaway New Romantic tag, and it still sound crisp and emotional. For me, this collection represents the definitive Vince Clarke. The follow-up album was a bit patchy in places and Erasure often strayed into camp with the exception of The Innocents which was their finest album. But I still listen to Upstairs At Eric's with as much enthusiasm as I had when I first heard it. Such a shame that they disbanded so soon, but the second album could never match the brilliance of this debut. Everyone knows the tracks Don't Go, Situation and Only You, but the album tracks are every bit as good as those classic singles. Too Pieces and Midnight are wonderful examples of Clarke and Moyet at their collective, creative best. Soulful electro. Moyet's self-penned Winter Kills is one of the album's highlights, a haunting piano led ballad full of atmosphere and emotion. Upstairs At Eric's is one of my Top 10 CD's of all time alongside the Human League's Dare, Depeche Mode's Black Celebration and Propaganda's Secret Wish. Every lover of electronica should own a copy of Upstairs At Eric's.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 3, 2012 11:30 PM BST

Black Celebration
Black Celebration

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the sweetest perfections, 9 April 2002
This review is from: Black Celebration (Audio CD)
I remember with maximum clarity when I slipped Black Celebration into the Walkman on the day of it's release way back in early 1986. I had rushed to town during my lunch break from a dead end, soul destroying job, and from the opening refrain of the opening title track, I knew I would love this album. 14 years on and I'm still playing it. It's tough to pick the definitive Mode album, but Black Celebration is on equal terms with later classics Violator and Songs of Faith. As many have said before me, this is the album that defined Depeche and showed them the path forward. It's darker and heavier than the "goth" label given to it. The album also reaps of sexual tension and the banality of normality voiced so clearly on the classic opening track. When I first saw the track listing, I was somewhat alarmed to see the inclusion of Fly on The Windscreen, the superior B-side to the likable It's Called A Heart. My fears however were swiftly laid to rest with a remix that managed to darken the mood of the much loved original even further. Then came the eerie mix into the atmospheric and touching Question of Lust. I kept playing the opening three tracks over and over. I was really convinced that the single Lust would shoot straight in at number 1 (it amazingly faltered at 26 in the UK charts!). A Question of Time sounded a little harsh on that first listen but I soon grew to adore it. The energy and power of the lead synth's on this track is a credit to the pioneering recording techniques used by Daniel Miller and Gareth Jones. Never had Depeche sounded so good. Here Is The House was another fine electro tune with a superb bassline. Mode always seem to find the perfect synth sounds without ever relying on the built in pre-sets that so many artist's fall back on. The group and producers spent many hours wandering around abondoned industrial sites, sampling anything they could hit. All this extra invention and effort in creating sounds was well worth the man hours. Black Celebration still sounds fantastic on headphones. World Full Of Nothing and Dressed In Black would be highlights on any album. So rich in texture, dark and unsettling. All Mode albums finish with a hidden ace and Black Celebration provides New Dress with it's unforgettable drum pattern and great melody. The CD comes with some bonus tracks that were unlisted on the UK release that includes the oddly cheerful But Not Tonight that was more suited to A Broken Frame. It is however an essential Mode track. Shame that Flood's excellent Highland Mix of Stripped wasn't included instead. That aside, Black Celebration easily reaches my own personal top ten along with Propaganda's Secret Wish, Human League's Dare & NIN's Pretty Hate Machine. And it's true...women look so good in black!

The Very Best Of
The Very Best Of
Price: 10.25

11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Definitive Synth Pop Duo, 2 April 2002
This review is from: The Very Best Of (Audio CD)
Respect is definitely due for this often overlooked synth act who together with the Human League, were very much ahead of the game.
On the surface, this may look like another thoughtless compilation with memories of 1991's cash in on Marc Almond's successful solo career, but a lot of love and attention has gone into this new release.
The sound quality is crisp and delightful. Tainted Love still sounds years ahead of the pretenders whilst the perennial classic 'Say Hello, Wave Goodbye' still has that ability to send shivers down the neck. Almond's vocal delivery ranks along side Phil Oakey, Matt Johnson (The The) and Neil Tennant who all manage to convey masses of high emotion and wit (something that lacks from 'technically gifted' Pop Idol moppets that now litter the UK charts).
Almond has always sang from the heart bringing an extra dimension to the more sleazy tracks such as the irresistible Sex Dwarf included here in full glory.
Dave Ball's unique ability at pushing the electronics to their limits whilst never forgetting the importance of toe-tapping, melodic brilliance - should also be worshipped here after listening to this compilation. It simply hasn't dated.
Other gems include the new mixes of Numbers whilst two long awaited new tracks have been included. Dead Souls and Somebody, Somewhere, Sometime are worthy to stand along side the old classic, proving that Soft Cell have rediscovered their electro heights of yesterday. Both tracks are impressive (with superb production from Ball) and they leave a mark raising hopes that the new album will be one to watch out for.
Praise must also go to the new mixes of Tainted Love and Say Hello Wave Goodbye - both updated here but never straying from the original appeal of these classics.
Ironic how this was released on the same day as the PSB's new but somewhat lacklustre album, but if you have to make a choice, this Soft Cell compilation will remain in your CD player for longer. Shame they couldn't add a new mix of Secret Life (it still deserves a single release after 20 years!) but the track listing here is near enough perfect.
The definitive synth 'pop' duo are back!

Goodnight Lovers
Goodnight Lovers

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One to remember them by..., 17 Feb 2002
This review is from: Goodnight Lovers (Audio CD)
Depeche's final Exciter single Goodnight Lovers sounds like a beautiful, gospel prayer where Gahan provides one of his finest vocal performances.
Sometimes, remixes can miss the mark but the trend of top quality Exciter mixes (bar the commercial Freelove efforts) continues on what could almost be described as an EP. The isan Falling Leaf Mix has a minimalist feel with extra analogue synth layers. It is destined to be included on endless Chill Out compilations and it enhances the spiritual feel of the original track.
When The Body Speaks has been stripped bare here with a haunting acoustic mix (a lesson to the Pet Shop Boys who have tried and failed with their new acoustic sound). Extra cello arrangements are added to the mix, and again the emphasis is on the emotion in Dave's voice.
The biggest surprise on the CD single is the delightful Electronicat remix of The Dead of Night. A new deep and dirty sounding analogue bass line has been added drawing comparisons with the Human League's cover of Rock 'n' Roll, giving the track a Glam Rock appeal. Its a huge improvement on the original version and the studio wizardry applied to give a menacing effect to Dave's voice is inspired.
Mixes of quality & distinction only serve to prove how much thought and effort has gone into this CD single, and if this is the last Mode release for three years, then it is a fine one to remember them by.

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