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Brian Davidson

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The Album
The Album
Price: £6.83

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect ABBA ?, 12 Jan. 2012
This review is from: The Album (Audio CD)
A near perfect album here from Abba that is possibly their very best !This album is well rounded with real musical depth and no really weak efforts are present to spoil the party .

The superb 'Eagle '( largely sang by Frida and Agnetha in unison)is the opening track and, in my opinion, is probably Abba's most under-rated song.Next is the classic 'Take a Chance on Me 'which ,of course, never disappoints .The third track is a hidden gem in the Abba catalogue called 'One Man, One Woman'which is followed by 'The Name of The Game'(featuring heartfelt vocals from Agnetha).This song will always be in my top three ,personal favourite, Abba songs.'Eagle' and 'Take A Chance On Me' are also in my top 10 Abba list (5th and 8th respectively).After this incredibly strong start comes 'Move On' ,another fine song (where Frida's vocals are warm and relaxed) that definitely deserves it's place amongst the group's lesser known,quality songs.'Hole in Your Soul' is not one of my favourite Abba songs, although it is catchy and proved to be a live favourite and many other fans love it.

Finally we come to a "mini musical" called 'The Girl With The Golden Hair' featuring Agnetha as it's focus.Here we have one of the best and most interesting songs/projects/experiments in the group's career.'The Girl With The Golden Hair' consists of three parts .The first of these is the wonderful 'Thank you For The Music'.The middle section is a contemplative song called 'I Wonder (Departure)and the third, and final, part is a dramatic and exciting ,yet strangely melancholic song entitled 'I'm A Marionette'.

If you are new to their music and you are wondering which Abba album to buy first then you cannot go wrong in choosing 'The Album' . And ,of course, every fan of the group will usually end up (as I have done)seeking out ,and purchasing, all of their brilliant work.


50 Words for Snow
50 Words for Snow
Price: £5.99

8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kate's Brilliantly Evocative Winter Delight !, 10 Jan. 2012
This review is from: 50 Words for Snow (Audio CD)
This is Kate's first album of original songs since Aerial.I must admit that I generally prefer her earlier work but this album is ,in my opinion ,definitely right up there with those early gems.

Of course it is different and unique in it's own right.In general the music here is in the same vein as 'A Coral Room'from Aerial in terms of feel and pace. I rate 50 Words' as better than Aerial.In fact,it sits comfortably alongside The Dreaming and The Hounds of Love without seeming to look inferior in the company of these two amazing albums.

It holds together extremely well as a rounded and cohesive musical statement sounding warm and intimate and rich in atmosphere .Some have criticised the contributions of Stephen Fry and Elton John but they both do a wonderful job here . Elton John produces the most committed and passionate vocals and they definitely do the song real justice.Stephen Fry appears on the title track where Kate's vocals sound fresh and exciting;bringing to my mind her vocals from the superb climatic section on Aerial's 'Nocturn';great stuff !

Many previous reviews have covered the album in terms of each individual song.I have deliberately avoided doing the same thing but I will finish by stating that my personal favourite song is Snowflake.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 20, 2012 12:58 PM BST


Hit Singles (Complete a & B Sides)
Hit Singles (Complete a & B Sides)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive ,Chronological Collection of Brian Connolly Era Sweet A and B side Singles Hits, 16 Jun. 2011
For me,the advent of the CD age in the late 80's meant that I could obtain pristine sounding versions of my old Sweet 45's that I had almost worn out through years of intensive play.Prior to this I was particularly concerned that their Zeppelin/Purple inspired ,hard rock B-sides may never be available to me again.I needn't have worried, because this 2xCD contains every hit from 'Funny Funny' (and it's B-side,their beautiful self-penned 'You're Not Wrong For Loving Me' ) to 'California Nights' , complete with each song's corresponding B-side,and all in perfect chronological order!

There are 40 songs in total (20 tracks per disc).

This collection demonstrates what a fine vocalist Brian Connolly was.He could sing sugary pop ,Glam and heavy rock with flare ,melody and perfect pitch.The only sad moment is that when Steve sings the lead vocals on 'California Nights' ,Brian by this time, was reduced to strumming a 12 string acoustic guitar in the background, as can be seen on Utube.This was due to Brian's demotation within the group's hierarchy because of the poor state of his health at the time.

There are ,however, many brilliant memories to lift the spirits.Who can forget when 'Blockbuster' stayed at number 1 in the British charts for 5 weeks( at the height of their Glam success working with Chinn/Chapman and producer Phil Wainman ) or when Brian would break his mic stands over his knee at the end of 'Teenage Rampage' on TV appearances ? Pure gold ! Mick Tucker was one of the most under-rated drummers around and Steve Priest was a great character and the perfect foil to Brian both on record and on stage.Mention must also go to Andy Scott's excellent guitar playing;check out his work on '( Own Up )Take A Look At Yourself' where he plays a terrific riff with a lovely warm,vintage,classic,over-driven tone .On 'Burning' Andy plays one of my favourite guitar solos ever .He also sang all the vocals on the choruses of 'Love is Like Oxygen' , with Brian singing the verses.

This CD pays Sweet the respect that they deserve ; it is no surprise since this CD set is of German origin (where Sweet were massive) . Few bands have ever managed to project the levels of energy,showmanship and excitement that Sweet gave to us, so enjoy these songs ;they are well worth a listen.PS This particular CD is ,at this time of writing,hard to locate and therefore usually expensive.I like it so much that my copy is definitely NOT FOR SALE!!!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 31, 2012 8:22 PM BST


Song To A Seagull
Song To A Seagull
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Joni's Landmark Debut, 12 Jun. 2011
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This review is from: Song To A Seagull (Audio CD)
What words best describe Joni Mitchell's (1968) debut album, Song To A Seagull?

Well... I would say melancholic,serious,atmospheric, beautiful ,unique,affecting ,bold and brilliant!This album remains for me (along with Blue) Joni Mitchell's best and most satisfying early work.Although subsequent albums contain many superb songs/ moments,I always seem to find myself skipping certain tracks.

On this album the only song that I am occasionally tempted to skip is the more up-tempo "Night In The City",that sounds slightly at odds with the rest of the songs here.The rest of the album holds together really well resulting in a cohesive collection where the songs,the musicianship,the words and Joni's voice leave a powerfull and lasting impression on the listener . The unpretenious production and clear,strong sound quality are also top notch .

Joni's voice is mature in it's depth,warmth,range and delivery.Her guitar playing is imaginative,technically excellent,never over-indulgent and always works for the greater good I.E ,the song itself.In fact,the acoustic guitar and Joni's voice dominate this recording to a greater extent than any of her others.The style that Joni uses to play her guitar here is usually finger-picking ; think "Scarborough Fair/ Canticle" ( the Simon and Garfunkel version) and you will be close to the mark.

Previous reveiwers have described the songs on this album in great depth so I will simply list a few of my personal favourites.The opener,"I Had A King" contains spine chilling vocals when Joni sings in her higher register.I have a great affection for "The Dawntreader" because it was this song that brought my attention to the album in the first place when it was played on Lyric FM's late night radio show,"The Blue of The Night".This song contains some of my favourite guitar playing.Finally I will include the title track, "Song To A Seagull",whose rich atmosphere epitomises the feel and character of the album .

If you enjoy music with the aforementioned qualities ,within a largely Folk oriented leaning,then do yourslf a big favour and give "Song To A Seagull" a listen;I believe you will be glad that you did!


Dire Straits Live at the BBC
Dire Straits Live at the BBC
Offered by rbmbooks
Price: £20.31

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Early Live Delight from Dire Straits, 29 May 2011
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This CD contains 8 live songs.The first 7 of these are from a live performance recorded in 1978 and consists of the whole of their debut album minus 'In The Gallery' , 'Southbound Again' and 'Setting Me Up' but with the interesting inclusion of 'What's The Matter Baby?' ,a song written by David Knopfler and Mark Knopfler.

The final track is a live version of 'Tunnel of Love' recorded in the early 1980's ( for The Old Grey Whistle Test ) which let's the CD down in my opinion! "Tunnel of Love" is a gem of a song but unfortunately this particular version sounds quite ponderous and Knopfler's guitar sounds slightly out of tune;it dosen't help that it lasts for over 11 minutes! I believe that it would have greatly improved matters if this track had been replaced by some of (or perhaps even all of) the three songs that weren't aired from their first album.

Thankfully the rest of the CD is excellent. My favourites are a much improved 'Six Blade Knife' and also 'Lions' as well as the aforementioned 'What's The Matter Baby?' which is lively ,tight and full of great guitar (in common with the two previously mentioned tracks).This CD manages to capture a much rawer,grittier sound and the essence of the songs jumps out of the speakers .

Mark really digs in on his old Strat to good effect. It also sounds to my ears that Mark is probably using one of his rosewood necked Fender Stratocasters as the guitar sound seems warmer and slightly darker than ,for example, the Strat tone on the aforementioned version of 'Tunnel of Love' (where he plays a maple necked Schecter Strat).

Listening to this recording has got me wondering wistfully what some of Dire Straits' studio recordings would have sounded like if they had not been so intensely produced.I have all of Dire Strait's albums but just recently I have found myself playing and enjoying 'Live at the BBC ' more than most of the others and so I therefore recommend it to any fan of the group!


Fighting
Fighting
Price: £2.99

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Lizzy in FIGHTING form!, 10 May 2011
This review is from: Fighting (Audio CD)
Coming after Nightlife(1974),Fighting(1975), is the second offering from the Gorham/Robertson line-up.

Although Lizzy's first album to feature the two aforementioned guitarists, Nightlife, had some great moments(including the birth of their own particular twin guitar attack on "It's Only Money"),Fighting proved to be a much more focused and rounded work that holds together brilliantly.

Bob Segar's "Rosalie" kicks the album off in style.This studio version is good and careful listening will reveal the distinctive voice of Family's Roger Chapman on backing vocals."For Those Who Love to Live"is one of several excellent , but lesser known ,Lizzy songs that feature on Fighting.It was a tribute to Phil's personal friend George Best.This song features flange and chorus effects and, in fact, these are more prevalent on Fighting than on most other Thin Lizzy albums." Suicide" is next up and is a superb rocker,featuring classic guitar dualing (Scott uses the WaH Wah),and fine story telling from Phil."Wild One" is next and is one of the quintessential Lizzy songs,combining a romanticised celtic subject matter with the distinctive twin guitar lyricism that represent the group on top form ;Brian Downey also sounds great on this track."Fighting My Way Back" is a lively ,fast paced song with a funk/rock feel;Scott plays a good solo here but I wish that it was louder within the mix."King's Vengeance",written by Gorham/Lynott, starts the second half and is wrongly titled "King's Revenge" on the CD!It is ,however, another vastly under-rated gem.It features a great celtic-rock riff and poetic lyrics..."Spring she comes and Spring she teases... brings Summer winds and Summer breezes...Blows through your hair 'til Autumn leave's us ...When Autumn leaves... oh how Winter freezes!".Another lesser mentioned Lizzy great follows in the form of" Spirit Slips Away".This atmospheric song is one of the most interesting ,experimental recordings from this line-up.It features guitar volume swells which create a haunting sonic over which Phil sings soulfully..."May the angels be watching over you that fateful day when your spirit slips away".Robbo plays a lovely ,bluesy solo on "Spirit'" and he uses a subtle feed-back to great effect on the next song- "Silver Dollar" which he also wrote.The penultimate song on the album is "Freedom Song" and was written by Gorham/Lynott.This song has an Allman Brothers guitar feel and Scott provides a fantastic ,flanged-up,melodic solo;it also finds Phil in story telling mode.The last track is " Ballad of the Hardman" (again wrongly called "Ballad of A Hardman"!).Scott Gorham penned this,the heaviest,track and it sounds like Robbo playing WAH WAH,while Phil tells us "No bad,black,back-scratching pussycat's gonna get her claws on me!".

Slash has stated that without Thin Lizzy there wouldn't have been G'n'Roses and I am sure that the combination of Les Paul/Overdrive/WAH WAH as is demonstrated here on "Ballad of the Hardman" and in future Lizzy songs such as" Warriors" and "Johnny" were influencial and inspiring to him.

Phil Lynott produced Fighting and I believe that he did a pretty good job.After this others would start to deliver a more commercial production but for me Fighting remains a recording of integrity in terms of the songs,the musicianship and some of the strongest lyrics written by Mr Lynott.I have been listening to Fighting for more than three decades and I still rate it as one of the very best.Highly reccomended!!!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 9, 2012 11:30 AM GMT


Thin Lizzy
Thin Lizzy
Price: £7.48

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Forgotten Thin Lizzy gem, 15 Dec. 2010
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This review is from: Thin Lizzy (Audio CD)
Prior to the classic Gorham/Robertson line-up ,Thin Lizzy were a three piece band and Belfast man Eric Bell was their sole electric guitarist.

Thin Lizzy's debut album was recorded between 4th and 9th January 1971 (poigniantly, Phil Lynott would die exactly 15years later on 4th January 1986).The album was produced by an American called Scott English who had previously written 'Hi Ho Silver Lining' for Jeff Beck.

I personally find this album to be one of Lizzy's most interesting and enthralling both musically and lyrically.Phil's vocals here are soulful,committed and impassioned for the most part,but also sensitive and mellow at other times.His bass playing is imaginitive and mainly unhindered throughout.Eric Bell shows a strong Hendrix influence at times but also a cleaner sound to good effect at others.Brian Downey demonstrates that he knows how to compliment a song,rather than simply bashing away on the drums in a cliched, bombastic manner like so many less intelligent drummers have so often tended to do.

What separates classic Lynott/T.Lizzy from other, lesser, rock groups is their wider range of musical styles and influences and their own unique charm.This collection has plenty of charm and several very interesting songs . Here are some of my favourites (in no particular order)1'Honesty is no Excuse'-some Van Morrison style vocal phrasings,2'Diddy Levine'-great story telling, lasting just under 7 minutes long;"Inheritance ,you see, runs through every family...Who is to say what is to be is any better?".3'Look What the Wind Blew In'-original and exciting with a clever play on the words gale/Gail ,"Then somewhere from the north,this Gail I knew just blew in";Gail was Phil's girlfriend!4'Eire'-sounds every inch the epic,even though it lasts just over 2mins duration ;"In the land of Eire there sat a High King ,faced with a problem...dreaded Vikings !'.5'Saga of the Ageing Orphan'-contains a strong autobiographical theme ,making mention of Phil's Uncle Peter and his Grandmother.6'Clifton Grange Hotel'-a song about Phil's Mother's hotel in Manchester.Also contained here are 4 bonus tracks from an E.P produced by Nick Tauber.My favourite of these 4 tracks is 'Dublin' with it's heartfelt lyrics and it's delicate,almost vulnerable sounding, vocals.

This may not be the Thin Lizzy that you already know but I believe that it is a Thin Lizzy that is also well worth discovering and getting to know.No big ,flashy production here, but honest and original,often heartfelt and personal, songs recorded in a relatively clear and straightforward fashion...a breath of fresh air!


Wired
Wired
Price: £5.04

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The superb follow-up to Blow By Blow..., 10 Dec. 2010
This review is from: Wired (Audio CD)
This 1976 jazz/rock instrumental album ,together with the previous year's release, 'Blow By Blow ' ,represents,in my opinion, the creative pinnacle of Jeff's career.

In 'Wired' we find music with an overall harder edge;there are no strings,for example,from George Martin and the music is deeper into the jazz/rock genre.

Jeff used his white,rosewood necked ,pre CBS Fender Stratocaster (given as a gift from fellow guitar great, John McLaughlin ) almost exclusively throughout 'Wired' .The guitar playing is precise,aggressive,savage and screaming one moment and then mellow,sensitive and gentle in the next instance;it is always expressive.

'Wired' is shorter in duration than 'Blow By Blow' ,lasting just over 37minutes ,but, just like 'Blow By Blow' , it holds together brilliantly as a complete musical statement.The original producer was George Martin but he left in the early stages .Jan Hammer then took over and he re-mixed all of the previous tracks as well as producing 'Blue Wind' (which he also wrote).Hammer is to be given credit (against the initial opinion of Jeff at the time)for leaving in the background hum of the amps etc (on occasions) which keeps the authentic realism of the recordings intact. Lovely stuff! Stalwart Max Middleton and another 'Blow By Blow' musician,Richard Bailey,return for some of the tracks here with Wilbur Bascomb being brought in on bass and Narada Michael Walden on drums. Walden wrote four of the eight songs and he also played piano on 'Love is Green' . The standout track here is Jeff's version of the Charles Mingus classic, 'Goodbye Pork Pie Hat' .Jeff's playing here encapsulates so much of what is great about a Strat when in the hands of a genius.This just may be THE best electric guitar instrumental performance EVER ! My other favourite tracks include 'Sophie' , 'Play With Me' and the aforementioned 'Love is Green' . On this latter song Jeff plays acoustic guitar and he also plays a sweet solo using the Strat."Blue Wind is another favourite whilst 'Led Boots' is one of the best known tracks. 'Come Dancing' contains subtle horns and 'Head For Backstage Pass' was co-written by (UPP drummer)Andy Clarke and it is a lively,heavy,funk number.

In common with 'Blow By Blow' , 'Wired' has it's own unique stamp of greatness I.E both are inspired and also inspiring!


Blow By Blow
Blow By Blow
Price: £3.99

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Genius Work of Jazz/Rock, 7 Dec. 2010
This review is from: Blow By Blow (Audio CD)
The spark of inspiration for this ground-breaking Jazz/Rock ,instrumental album ,came when Jeff had the idea of taking some of the more obscure guitar lines that John McLaughlin was employing with The Mahavishnu Orchestra and making them more accessible.

Of course ,Jeff has always had his own unique musical expression on the guitar and he had already demonstrated his talent for playing instrumentals prior to this on superb tracks such as "Definitely Maybe","I Can't Give Back The Love I Feel For You" and the atmospheric,"Max's Tune".

Max Middleton wrote the latter song and he makes a massive contribution here on 'Blow By Blow' , in terms of his piano playing as well as his strong writing.The brilliant George Martin produced the album and was also responsible for the wonderful orchestral arrangement.Jeff has described how working with George Martin felt like they were "really getting to the nuts and bolts of making music".

Of the nine songs contained here ,Jeff wrote one and co-wrote two others;there are other songs by Lennon/McCartney ( 'She's a Woman' ),Stevie Wonder ( 'Thelonius' )and 'Diamond Dust' , written by Bernie Holland .My favourite songs on the album are 'She's a Woman' ,which contains joyous,lyrical phrasing, 'Scatterbrain' containing a gloriously original,exciting and inventive lead break, 'Cause We've Ended as Lovers' with it's soulful, yearning , Roy Buchannan inspired, playing, and,in my opinion,the best track of all ... 'Diamond Dust' .Max Middleton plays commanding piano here, whilst Jeff executes some really poignant,profound lead guitar lines on this masterpiece .Also, George Martin's amazing string orchestration and the sympathetic drumming of Richard Bailey and the full sounding bass of Phil Chenn,work together really successfully on 'Diamond Dust' !

An ox-blood brown Les Paul was the main guitar used on 'Blow by Blow' .Jeff also played a Tele-Gib' guitar (created for him by Seymour Duncan,when he added humbucker pick-ups to replace the original single coils on a maple necked Fender Telecaster)on 'Cause We've Ended as Lovers' .The unmistakable sound of a Stratocaster is clearly evident on another great ,Middleton penned,track called 'Freeway Jam' .This guitar sound continued on JB's next album , 'Wired' .

If you are perhaps expecting a mainstream ,riff based , rock album then you may find 'Blow by Blow' to be slightly confusing. If ,however, you appreciate some of the very finest musically inspired and original lead guitar playing ever then give this fine album a fair listen .You may find that you need to give it several listens but I believe that you will be glad that you did...


Delius: Violin Sonatas
Delius: Violin Sonatas
Price: £7.51

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Musicianship Throughout, 5 Dec. 2010
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This review is from: Delius: Violin Sonatas (Audio CD)
This collection of Delius's complete violin sonatas lasts a total of 77 minutes approximately. The sound quality is clear and defined throughout.

The collection kicks off with 'Violin Sonata in B major' (1892) which comprises of 3 pieces and which lasts 26 minutes ,22 seconds.

Next we have Delius's Sonatas Nos 1-3 in chronological order .These pieces were written between 1905 and 1930 and they constitute the bulk of the whole cd .

The violin playing of Susanne Stanzeleit and the piano playing of Gusztav Fenyo sound ( to these ears at least) flawless in execution but at the same time they are never dry or merely academic . In fact these two fine musicians gel together brilliantly and bring out various sentiments and emotions throughout such as joy and melancholy etc whenever the music requires them.

My own personal favourite piece of music here would probably be 'Violin Sonata No. 2' (1923) .

Altogether this is a pleasing collection that possesses it's own particular character and charm.


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