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S. J. Mulliner (MANCHESTER United Kingdom)

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The Essential
The Essential
Price: 6.70

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitve classics in best sound quality, 10 Mar 2012
This review is from: The Essential (Audio CD)
Dionne's output from the 1960s has been re-released many many times (partly I recall due to doubtful copyright), but I have not heard it in such splendid audio quality as this. I know these songs inside out and I was picking out instruments and background arrangementts that I had never heard before. All Music Club Deluxe issues that I have purchased have great sound, and at a real bargain price.

The 1960's tracks speak for themselves - these songs will live on for generations, and although other artists may have had the British hits with most of these songs, they were mainly written for Dionne and these are the definitve versions.

Nice to get a good selection of her hard to find 1970s output too on CD2 as well.

There is minimal overlap with the same label's "All The Love in the World: The Dionne Warwock Collection" which covers her later period. Buy both sets for less than a 10 and you really do have the best of Dionne.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 5, 2012 7:17 PM BST

Original Album Series
Original Album Series
Price: 10.94

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice box of their phase one albums, 16 Sep 2011
This review is from: Original Album Series (Audio CD)
This is another in the on-going 5 cd releases from Rhino, boxing old albums in nice but basic packaging with miniature album sleeves. Those who have purchased any of the series will know that they represent great value and are a good way to get an instant libary of an artists work, but they have not been especially re-mastered for these releases so the sound quality can vary. I found the sound on these discs to be good enough.

As for the music, these are A-ha's 5 albums recorded up to 1993 before they took a career gap. The first three albums are loaded with hits, but the album tracks are decent as well and overall are the albums are very consistent. Their fourth album was an attempt to get away from their synth pop and is softer and more guitar based than previously. The first half is very endearing, althouigh some weaker songs in the second half prevent the album from being a total success. Nevertheless, after listening to the bombasitc pop of the earlier albums, its a nice change. The final album here, "Memorial Beach", sees them moving towards U2 territory, again with mixed results. Overall, three solid albums, and two more which have their moments and are still worth having. If you only know A-ha from their singles, these albums are certainly worth checking out.

Offered by positivenoise
Price: 1.49

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It starts and ends like a TT album, but in the middle, wow..., 17 Nov 2010
This review is from: Progress (Audio CD)
To be honest, though I think Take That are a great singles band, their two comeback albums have had their boring bits. Not so Progress. This has so much more energy than usual. The lead off single The Flood and the last two tracks Eight Words and Flowerbed may take their lead from the previous albums, but in between is a fresh modern sound which rejuvenates the band. Kidz may be the next single, but Wait is one of the most gorgeous tunes they have done to date. Keep going lads. This is the right direction.

100 Essential Singer Songwriter Hits
100 Essential Singer Songwriter Hits
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 6.70

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great track listing, great sound, shoddy finish, 26 Aug 2010
When Sony belatedly entered into the already crowded 100 hits or more in one package market with their 100 Essential Tracks series last year, they should in theory have wiped the floor with their competitors. However, judging by the heavy discounting of some titles, they have not been as successful as the Demon Music Group's series, at least so far.

Despite attractive packaging and a superior sound quality not generally found in budget releases, too many of the titles have been let down by unimaginative track listings (heavily duplicating both the Demon series and each other), and by a shoddy finish.

This release however does stand out as having a terrific set of tracks, almost justifying the Essential title, and a fair number of these songs I have not found on other compilations. Broadly, there are two discs focussed on 90s/00s tracks, with the rest mainly representing the 70s and 80s. Even the more well known tracks are worth having again to hear in pristine sound. Best track? For my money its Jeff Buckley's Lover You Should Have Come Over (all 6 wonderful minutes) although its nice to hear Dan Fogelberg's Longer and Leader of the Band and Lesley Duncan's Love Song again after all these years.

I would have given this 5 stars, but unfortunately this release has not escaped the shoddy finish found across the series - CD5 Track 17 is not Carly Simon's Coming Around Again but rather Johnny Logan's Hold Me Now, and Simon & Garfunkel's Sound Of Silence seems to be a live version. Also CD3 Track 9 is attributed to the Indigo Girls but is (I think) Brian Kennedy.

I recommend this series because of the sound quality, but suggest you do not buy on the strength of one track alone as it may have been replaced by something else. Come on Sony - this is potentially a great series if you could just pay a little more attention. I look forward to future releases.

100 Hits Legends - Aretha Franklin
100 Hits Legends - Aretha Franklin
Price: 7.80

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An overwhelming joy!, 8 July 2010
This budget box set includes no less than 100 tracks from Aretha's golden tenure at Atlantic, and presents, in roughly chronlogical order, the bulk of her catalogue originally released between 1967 and 1976.

Such is the high quality control maintained by Aretha over this period, that the effect of listening to these 5 cds (more than 5 and half hours) is quite frankly (no pun intended) overwhelming. No track is less than very good, and many are a pure joy to listen to, helped for the most part by Jerry Wexler's inspired gutsy production, but not forgetting Curtis Mayfield's contributions from the Sparkle album, from which 5 tracks close this compilation.

Most buyers will already have around 20 of these songs, as all the famous singles are included, but don't let that put you off. The true pleasure is finding so many more tracks that measure up as well. It's pointless to mention highlights, but I was particularly struck by Prove It, I Wonder, Night Time is the Right Time, All The King's Horses and Something He Can Feel, none of which I previously knew. Even if you are a casual fan, this is heartily recommended.

I have to question the long term wisdom of releasing such a valuable catalogue at a bargain price, but for now I'm content to wallow in these amazing songs in the knowledge that my wallet has hardly been touched. Demon Music's best release so far.

If you also want to get an extended view of her career after this period, I can recommend another budget release on the Sony Camden Deluxe label - A Deeper Love, The Best Of Aretha Franklin which covers 1980-1997, with a further 32 tracks on 2 CDs. Buy both sets, and you will have almost everything you need from the queen of soul.

Hed Kandi - Beach House
Hed Kandi - Beach House
Offered by b68solutions
Price: 9.75

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Summer has arrived!, 5 Jun 2010
This review is from: Hed Kandi - Beach House (Audio CD)
For their 100th release, Hed Kandi take us back to the beach. Their early Beach House albums tended to be a bit bland but there is nothing here that you would describe as that. What you get is three quite distinct cds, although unlike HK's other three 3CD sets, only one of these is mixed.

First up, CD1 contains 13 full length house tracks, mainly but not all exclusively new (I have seen the Grant Nelson track on an earlier Disco Heaven album), starting with the soulful mid-tempo South Street Player and finishing with the ultra pop of Plage, with its ridiculously catchy synth line. In between, there is plenty of variety, from the latin-flavoured Sinfonia Della Notte to the straight ahead soul of I'll Shine. I particularly liked Without Warning which must surely have got it's inspiration from the Love Boat TV series theme. Overall, a solid CD with loads of good tunes.

CD2 is the mix CD which brings together some classic beach house, although quite a lot of the later tunes here are fresh to these ears. The CD starts with a lovely lazy tempoed instrumental called 8.08pm at the Beach, what the Human League might have done if they had had a soft side. The tempo then picks up for a run of fairly familiar tunes. The CD really kicks in however at track 8 with Myomi's The Sun In My eyes, and from then on it crackles and fizzes all the way to the end. An exciting mix, and the crescendo on Julian Jabre's Swimming Places is extraordinary. All in all, a great mix cd and worth the price of the set on its own.

Finally there is CD3 and I really do not know what to make of this, other than that on first listening there is almost nothing that I like here. The cd notes admit that Hed Kandi are going further than they have ever gone before on this one, but maybe this is a step too far into the future. There is very little house on this disc, not much beach and certainly not much that is tuneful or uplifting, most tracks relying on the beat and production to get them through. Not sure that this CD will appeal to the fans, though things do improve towards the end of the cd, and the final track, Blaze's We Are One is a real high and worth forwarding to if you get bored with the rest.

Overall, two great cds and one rather odd one. For the price I am not complaining.

Now That's What I Call Music! 75
Now That's What I Call Music! 75
Offered by MasterDVD
Price: 3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Now and then!, 2 April 2010
You can tell you are really too old to be buying the Now albums when you struggle to read the small print of the min-biographies in the booklet! However, after purchasing 75 editions it's a hard habit to break, and one I don't really want to, as the music selection is still worthwhile. This is as decent a selection as the compilers can do in light of the current/recent charts and is given an extra touch of class by two superb ballads from Pixie Lott and Alicia Keys. If a lot of the other stuff sounds like it could have come from the same band, it is still catchy.

As its volume 75, I am suprised that Now have not used this to mark some kind of anniversary, but there you go. Looking back to the beginning you can notice that not only has the music changed, but that tracks are on average shorter today, and that the vast majority of songs now have an ending whereas back in 1983 the majority of tracks just faded.

After 75 editions (why do I keep thinking of the poster advertising Rocky 33 in Airplane 2?), the only thing I am tired of is the art work and the print format. Now seem very reluctant to tamper with a winning formula, but surely these are due for an overhaul and could be done without jeopardising sales. Regardless, I will remain loyal.

Great value as always.

100 Hits Legends - Frank Sinatra
100 Hits Legends - Frank Sinatra
Price: 8.02

49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Swinging on a budget, 16 Nov 2009
Sinatra fans will know that 1953 was a watershed year for his recordings, when he signed with Capitol records. Teamed with the arranger Nelson Riddle and encouraged to sing in a lower register, Frank recorded superlative versions of many of the classic American Songbook entries which have not been bettered to this day.

64 of the tracks in the box set come from this era, and are pretty much all outstanding (although there are some glaring omissions like "All The Way" and "Chicago"). The remainder range from so-so to surprisingly good, covering the period 1946 to 1952, so in terms of content this box set can be recommended.

What lets this set down however is the uniformly disappointing sound quality. Listenable but quite poor. At a time when more and more of Frank's Capitol output is being released at a bargain price in excellent sound quality, it is a shame that these tracks sound like they have been taken from MP3s. At least the difference between the later and earlier tracks is not so noticable as they sound uniformly poor.

At 100 tracks for this price , you can't say this is a bad buy and if you are not concerned about sound quality, then this could be the one for you. If you are an audiophile, however, perhaps you should look elsewhere.

Tom Jones DVD Box Set - 119 Performances [2007]
Tom Jones DVD Box Set - 119 Performances [2007]
Dvd ~ Tom Jones

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars There ARE 119 performances, 5 Jun 2009
Contrary to another review, in this box set you do get 119 different performances. Over the six discs there are a lot of repeats, but totalling up the tracklistings I get 178. Take away the repeats and you get around the number tracks advertised. These discs were originally sold separately, hence the overlap, which is a bit of a nuisance if you don't want to watch tracks twice, but this set is certainly good value. Taken from a 1981 series that Tom made in Canada, the format is a bit repetitive but entertaining nevertheless, and it is a great opportunity to see some guest singers who rarely appear on DVD such as Dusty Springfield and Deniece Williams. Recommended at the price.

Young Hearts Run Free (US Internet Release)
Young Hearts Run Free (US Internet Release)
Price: 4.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic underated album, 2 Jan 2009
I felt compelled to comment as the two reviews attached to this are clearly from another Candi album. This is the original album released in 1976 alongside her classic single Young Hearts Run Free, and should be rated much higher than shown. If you like that single, check out Destiny and Run To Me, which are nigh on carbon copies, but if you create a classic song you cannot blame Candi and her producer/writer Dave Crawford for giving us more of the same, and they still sound great. Away from these tracks, the album slows right down, but there is a lot of variety, from slow grooves to gospel. My favourite track here is the sensuous Summertime With You, with Candi doing a breathy soft vocal a long way removed from the full blown approach to the title track. This was Candi's most successful release. It deserves a listen and a much better rating.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 19, 2009 1:02 PM GMT

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