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Open Heart Zoo
Open Heart Zoo
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £9.28

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A reason to be thankful for ad breaks, 25 July 2002
This review is from: Open Heart Zoo (Audio CD)
As with most people, my only experience of the music on this album was the 30 second or so snippet from the Lexus ad which everyone seems to have been raving about. In true fashion though, there's no sign of it being released as a single so I stumped up the cash for the whole album prepared for the fact that I might hate the rest of it. I was pleased then to discover that contrary to fears I didn't. By a long way.
The already much-bandied around Radiohead/Muse comparisons are, it has to be said, fully justified. Grech's vocal stylings are very much from the Thom Yorke/Matt Bellamy school. However, providing you're willing to look past the influences he wears on his sleeve, Open Heart Zoo is an astonishing piece of work and easily destined to be one of the rock records of the year.
Musically, much of the work sits somewhere between The Bends and OK Computer, sharing the melodic strength of the former and the space-age prog stylings of the latter. However, I don't think I'd be alone in saying that Grech's voice and arrangements have somewhat more warmth than Yorke's, leading the sparser and more ambient moments to sound comforting rather than desolate.
The first time I played this album it was with the intention of listening to the title track and leaving the rest till morning, what with it being 1am and all. An hour later when the CD stopped I was still wide awake and contemplating whether to forego another hour's sleep to play it again, it's that good! OK, so maybe that's a bit of a excitable recommendation, but for someone who's been waiting in vain for what Radiohead were promising before they headed off on a journey up their own backsides, I think this is the closest anyone's got yet. Fortunately though, Grech has both the talent and the scope of vision to avoid being branded a mere copyist.
Given that he's only 19, we can hope that Martin Grech has much much more yet to offer, just pray he doesn't get lumbered with ball and chain that is being heralded the saviour of British music and is left to carry on writing music of this depth and quality.


A New Day Has Come
A New Day Has Come
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £3.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To quote the lady herself....At last!, 2 April 2002
This review is from: A New Day Has Come (Audio CD)
Considering her last two albums sold roughly 5 squillion copies each, you could forgive Celine Dion for resting on her laurels. It's lucky then, that her first English album proper for four years shows little evidence of this. One small gripe I have always had is that Celine's albums tend too much towards the big power ballads, with a token couple of heavy handed dance/R&B numbers. While there's no doubting that the huge emotional numbers are her forte, fifteen or so back to back can get a bit draining.
This problem has been largely avoided on 'A New Day Has Come' thanks to a clutch of bouncy mid-tempo songs in the same vein as 'That's The Way It Is' (from 'A Decade Of Song'), which add a great deal of sonic variety and successfully extinguish any accusations of blandness. On 'Right In Front Of You' Celine gives a mature take on Britney-esque pop, while 'Ten Days' positively rocks in way quite reminiscent of Jewel's latest work. Meanwhile, she takes on Cher and wins hands-down with huge floor-filler 'Sorry For Love'. When in the middle of the song she hits a note and holds it for what seems like years, you can't help but have your breath taken away.
Along with these are a slew of considered ballads, which suggest far greater emphasis being put on quality of song and performance than mere vocal acrobatics. Tracks like 'Nature Boy', and the incredibly delicate first single and title track contrast well with traditional tours-de-force such as 'Have You Ever Been In Love'. This is not to say that the incredible voice she is famous for has been tamed and hushed - hear it let rip in the enormous 'I Surrender', her most fantastically over-the-top number since 'It's All Coming Back To Me Now'. In fact the only track I can fault is 'Aun Existe Amor', which is rather poorly translated from the original French version (on 'Dion Chante Plamondon'), however to complain about lyrics not scanning well on one song is pretty churlish when the overall quality of this package is so high.
Another noticeable difference with this album is that the overwhelming majority of songs are positive in message: being in love, living life to the full and new beginnings - just look at the song titles! While the topics may not necessarily be new, you really can hear the difference recent events in her life have made to the emotion she puts into her singing, which is on a completely different level to any she's done before.
This album is a welcome return by one of the biggest stars of the 90s and succeeds in updating her sound to follow current trends in the pop world without alienating her huge fanbase or denying them of the songs they love her for. Highly recommended!


The Collector's Series Vol.1
The Collector's Series Vol.1
Offered by Fast Fulfilment
Price: £4.99

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Warning! Pointless Marketing Exercise, 29 July 2001
I'm bemused that some people think this has been released "by Celine" to please the fans. It absolutely reeks of a cheap money-grabbing exercise.
Precisely 3 of these 16 tracks are not readily available elsewhere. The Power Of The Dream (from the '96 Olympics) is the only *proper* rare song, the others being a Japanese version of Be The Man and a Spanish version of All By Myself (whoopee! I don't think). No thought has been given to the tracklisting or ordering, consequently it runs like someone's home-compiled favourites tape, in fact it probably is!
There's nothing wrong with the songs themselves, in fact some of them are among my favourite Celine tracks and for quality of music this album deserves probably 4 stars.
If you're a fan of Celine, give this a wide berth and buy all her true studio albums (her official website lists them all). You'll get almost all these songs and the three you don't really aren't worth crying over. For this to truly be a "Collectors" album, it ought to have a lot more rare/unreleased material.


Sunshine: The Cool Sound of a Hot Summer
Sunshine: The Cool Sound of a Hot Summer
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £12.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Now THIS is what I call a summer album!, 29 July 2001
Wary of the latest "Mega Summer Hits" compilation? Fed up with "Chillout Bonanza Vol 55"? This is an album which encapsulates both the sound of summer and pure relaxation in one glorious set of songs. In short, 32 tracks mixing latin, jazz and easy listening; the familiar and the unfamiliar, along with a clutch of great (in some cases legendary) vocalists. I'm not a fan, generally, of any of these musical styles but this compilation is as accessible as they come and I can't believe anyone would not enjoy it (unless you think Slipknot are a bit easy on the ears!) Even if most of the songs are unfamiliar, you'll find you recognise more than you expect. Recall the opening credits to the first Austin Powers film? Now listen to Quincy Jones' "Soul Bossa Nova" and try not to think of people dancing through 60s London!
Imagine yourself under a sunshade, by the pool, on the beach or even in the back garden. Imagine a long cool drink in your hand. Imagine the music that's playing...it's this album.


A Day Without Rain
A Day Without Rain
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £6.98

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect, once again!, 29 July 2001
This review is from: A Day Without Rain (Audio CD)
Most artists, having taken five years (not counting the stop-gap Best Of) to make an album that's less than 40 minutes long, could be justly criticised a little - not so Enya! It's all about quality over quantity, and A Day Without Rain is certainly that. One pointer: to the uninitiated, one Enya album (or even song) sounds pretty similar to the last. Give yourself some time to get into the music - she hasn't sold 40 million through musical innovation but consistency. If you're already familiar, expect more of the same. There are moments of familiarity, but if you're someone who's bought every previous album and not tired of the format, this album is a definite must.
A Day Without Rain has a fuller, richer sound than early works like Watermark but otherwise follows the established pattern. If you're new to Enya you may want to investigate The Best Of first, although such is the homogeneity of her albums there's really no need.
Suffice to say everything is present and correct: stirring mid-tempo tracks, achingly slow and beautiful ballads, lush instrumentals. The only wrong step taken here is the ubiquitous latin chant. They seem to slip onto every album in one form or another, fine considered alone but a bit of a mood spoiler shuffled between Only Time and Deora Ar Mo Chroi. However, forget this momentary blip and try not to be moved by the rest of the album, particularly the heartbreaking Fallen Embers or thunderous The First Of Autumn.
What tends to be forgotten is that, with few exceptions, every sound you here is made by Enya herself. All the voices and instruments - every single track is individually recorded, up to 100 of them forming each song. In that light, taking several years to create an aural soundscape of such beauty and depth seems forgivable after all! I have no hesitation in recommending this album to anyone. Perfect for chilling out, background music while working or meditation. In fact, perfect full stop.


Timbre (Bonus CD)
Timbre (Bonus CD)

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jaw-droppingly beautiful, 25 Jun 2001
This review is from: Timbre (Bonus CD) (Audio CD)
Due to record company wrangles, Sophie has only released 3 albums in the past 9 years. Luckily for her fans, each one is a triumph of intelligent lyrics and gorgeous melodies sung by that unique voice..combining rawness, power, and husky sensuality. See other people's reviews of the original version of Timbre (or indeed Whaler or Tongues and Tails - all five star albums in my opinion) to discover how good people think she is.
My main reason for writing this however, is to point out for information purposes the differences between this version of Timbre and the previous one. The first disc is the original album, unchanged except for the retitling of the first track from Strange Thing to Walking In My Blue Jeans (for reasons unknown).
The second disc contains two brand new songs, in demo form. You Turn Me On is an upbeat number full of joie-de-vivre, while Travelling Light is a slow-burning ballad reminiscent both lyrically and melodically of I Walk Alone. Both are damn fine pieces of music, which I specifically bought this version of Timbre for. I wasn't disappointed! However if you already have the original version of Timbre you may want to wait until the next album is released to hear these songs rather than shell out a second time.
As for the rest of the 'Bonus Disc', the demo versions of I Walk Alone and No Connection sound just as lovely, if not as polished (obviously) as the finished ones. Finally there are three new mixes, which are a waste of time really. The radio edit of Walking In My Blue Jeans is pointless and massacres the song, the Bounce remix of Lose Your Way isn't overly different to the original and the Spanish version is, unsurprisingly, identical but sung (mostly) in Spanish. Unfortunately it's a direct translation, which means Sophie's vocals sound a bit clunky in places.
The disc also has a multimedia section with four videos. A short video biography, which has Sophie talking about some of the songs on Timbre, promos for No Connection and (in demo form) The One You Have Not Seen and finally the trailer for Gigi Gaston's film about Sophie, The Cream Will Rise.
Altogether this 2CD set is well worth the money if you don't already own Timbre. And if you're a hardcore fan then the new songs and videos on the second disc are likely to be enough to persuade you! Roll on album no. 4...


Room Service
Room Service
Price: £11.30

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great return to form!, 10 April 2001
This review is from: Room Service (Audio CD)
After the slight quality control wobble of '98s "Have A Nice Day", Roxette have returned with an album of the type that made them big in the first place. To get an idea of the sound, think "Crash! Boom! Bang!" songs with "...Nice Day" production.
Opener "Real Sugar" is a great guitars-out rocker a la "Joyride" which sets the scene perfectly. By the time it's over you just KNOW the next 40 minutes are going to be good. Then "The Centre Of The Heart" shamelessly pilfers the intro to Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" but ends up coming over like a slower "Crush On You". Interestingly, Marie handles the verses and Per the chorus on this one. The opening triptych ends with "Milk And Toast And Honey", the first ballad and a huge tearjerking one it is too! Marie whispering "Didn't he blow my mind?" heading into the chorus is just beautiful, one of those moments you find yourself waiting for.
A Roxette album wouldn't be the same without one duff lyric though and here it's "Jefferson" that delivers, with "Jefferson got hit by a westbound truck/I guess that didn't make him look like a million bucks". Hmmm, profound. Luckily it's a momentary blip and "Little Girl" which follows (a rare Marie composition) is absolutely lovely.
The rest of the album continues in the same vein, bouncy upbeat numbers interspersed with plaintive slow ones. The usual Roxette devices appear one by one - like the compulsory 'ice-cream-and-balloons' number "Make My Head Go Pop" - and by the end you'll be scrabbling to find all the old albums, because once you've played one Roxette album there's nothing you can really follow it with except another!
By the way, the only reason this doesn't have five stars is because I'm extremely picky, but it's not often you get an album which sounds so bright and happy the whole way through. If you like anything Roxette have ever done, then "Room Service" is highly recommended!


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