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Torben Madsen (Copenhagen, Denmark)

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Price: £6.47

4.0 out of 5 stars Afterglow, 15 April 2013
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This review is from: Afterglow (Audio CD)
With albums like 'Fumbling Towards Ecstacy' and 'Surfacing' already under her belt, the bar is naturally raised high for Sarah McLachlan, perhaps especially for 'Afterglow', released after an extended break from recording.

So does it deliver? Well, yes. While this is hardly an album that will convert the masses to McLachlan's music, her fans will probably like it more or less instantly. It's laid back, kind of introvert and while the same could be said about her earlier work, this album does feel more mature than its predecessors.

Gifted with an exceptional voice and a songwriting talent to match, there are plenty of good tracks on 'Afterglow'. One of the best is the first track, 'Fallen', a great song that easily matches her best work on previous albums. 'Stupid', 'Train Wreck' and 'Perfect Girl' are also high points.

Unlike 'Fumbling Towards Ecstacy' and 'Surfacing', I do feel that 'Afterglow' never really takes off, though. At times, I find that it's a bit too pleasant and lacks some challenges for the listener. In other words, my perception of Sarah McLachlan remains unchanged after hearing this album. In some ways that is good, because it does nothing to detract from that perception. But on the other hand, there is very little progression to be found here.

For the fans: you will already have bought it (and you should). For the rest: this is not at all a bad starting point for those interested in great music, good songwriting and distinctive vocal work.

Offered by Side Two
Price: £14.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A most welcome return, 15 April 2013
This review is from: Aerial (Audio CD)
Few artists would release a double album after 12 years of silence. Even fewer would be successful in doing so. Kate Bush did both: 'Aerial' is an ambitious piece of work and following 'The Red Shoes' (a comparably lacklustre affair in my view) it takes her - almost - back to the heights of 'Hounds Of Love'.

'Aerial' is more or less two albums in one, the first disc being a collection of songs; the second being a suite as was 'The Ninth Wave' on 'Hounds of Love'.

Bush's voice has naturally changed over time, but it retains all of its charm. And a Kate Bush with a more limited range is still infinitely more exciting than most other vocalists.

When it works best, it's up there with her best work. There are no really weak tracks on the album, but some do work better than others and there are a few tracks that while not bad do have some filler to them. So not a 5-star album, but most definitely worth 4 stars.

Interestingly enough, 'Aerial' has had a profound impact on quite a few friends who never really listened to Kate Bush before. As such it might not be a bad place to start for people who want to explore her musical world.

Apart from David Bowie's comeback in 2013, this - Kate Bush's comeback in 2005 - for me remains the most welcome return by an artist. She was sorely missed.

After Hours
After Hours
Price: £6.66

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Still got the (lesser) blues, 15 April 2013
This review is from: After Hours (Audio CD)
Gary Moore's playing style and signature sound was not to everyone's taste. But his skills on the guitar were never in question. Here he showcased these skills on 'After Hours', another blues/rock-album.

While this album is not as strong as some of his earlier work and overall is less daring, fans of Moore should be pleased. For more casual listeners of the genre, the result is pleasing, but a bit workmanlike.

Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £8.54

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Loses direction, 15 April 2013
This review is from: Adore (Audio CD)
This is really a prime example of how an album could have been so much better, brilliant even, if it had been shortened considerably. As a result, it's a frustrating experience.

There are high points indeed and the albums gets off to a strong start with 'Song For Martha', 'Ava Adore' and 'Perfect'. 'Ava Adore' is especially exquisite with Corgan's voice changing from vulnerable to out right aggressive.

In comparison, large parts of the remainder of the album seem directionless, and even if it still manages to stay somewhat intrigueing, fatigue does set in eventually.

Nice to sample from, not to listen to in its entirety.

Price: £4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good, actually, 10 April 2013
This review is from: Actually (Audio CD)
While some of the songs on this album sound dated ('Shopping' and 'Hit Music'), this, Pet Shop Boys' second album, is still a great testament to just how great songsmiths Lowe and Tennant had become by the time of its release.

From 'One More Chance', the superbly produced opening track, to hit singles 'It's A Sin' and 'What Have I Done To Deserve This' (featuring Dusty Springfield), the album sounds the part of a late Eighties hit album. While these tracks could in some way be described as quintessential Pet Shop Boys, the two marvellous ballads included on the album ('It Couldn't Happen Here' and 'King's Cross') show that there is much more than mere brilliant pop to this duo.

The two duds still detract from the overall feeling of the album, but then again very few albums don't have weak tracks on them. For those interested in Eighties music or intelligent pop music regardsless of the release date, 'Actually' will not disappoint. It remains not only one of the Pet Shop Boys' best album, but indeed one of the best late-Eighites pop albums.

Offered by Dirty Deals UK
Price: £7.88

4.0 out of 5 stars Tremendous first half, 8 April 2013
This review is from: Zooropa (Audio CD)
Issued after 'Achtung Baby', 'Zooropa' had something to live up to. It doesn't quite do that, bur that's not to say that it's a bad album.

In fact, the first half is as good as anything, U2 ever did. The title track, 'Numb' (with The Edge on vocals), Lemon and Stay (Faraway, So Close) all stand out.

Unfortunately, the second half loses momentum, although it has some interesting elements such as the collaboration with Johnny Cash on 'The Wanderer'. But as a whole, it is still a worthy addition to the catalogue and a more adventurous and interesting album than most of the band's post-'Zooropa' output.

Achtung Baby 20th Anniversary Super Deluxe Box Set
Achtung Baby 20th Anniversary Super Deluxe Box Set
Offered by FastMedia "Ships From USA"
Price: £103.54

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars U2 at their very best, 8 April 2013
After the incoherent, self-indulgent, fake americana mess that was 'Rattle and Hum', the release of 1991's 'Achtung Baby' came as a very welcome surprise.

A reinvented U2? Perhaps. A revigorised U2, it certainly is. 'Zoo Station' starts the preceedings with its crunchy, stuttering beginning and distorted vocals while the delicate and atmospheric 'Love is Blindness' provides the perfect ending. In between there is a lot to love. Among the gems are of course 'The Fly', 'Mysterious Ways' and the anthemic 'One', all singles at the time. But the album cuts are really just as good. Special mention must go to 'Ultraviolet (Light My Way) and 'Acrobat'. If anything, 'Achtung Baby' sounds like a mix of the more adventurous parts of 'The Unforgettable Fire' and the great songwriting of 'The Joshua Tree', the result being greater than just the sum of the parts.

Contained within this Deluxe Edition are remixes, b-sides and an particularly interesting disc featuring earlier mixes and versions of the tracks that ended up on the album. The follow-up album 'Zooropa' is also included. Whether or not these extras are worth the additional expense is up to the individual, but as a whole it does form a more or less complete picture of the 'Achtung Baby' era; a stunning album that U2 - in my book anyway - never equalled neither before or after its release.

Go get one of the editions. It's a modern classic.

Accident Of Birth
Accident Of Birth
Price: £7.02

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars His best solo effort at the time, 8 April 2013
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This review is from: Accident Of Birth (Audio CD)
It's hard not to compare Dickinson's solo albums with his work in Iron Maiden, although given their legendary status, any such comparison is more than a little unfair.

Suffice to say then, that I find that 'Accident of Birth' can hold its own against most of Maiden's output in the 90's.

There are no truly weak tracks on the album, but it actually works best when Dickinson is in more uncommon territory such as the power ballad(!) 'Man of Sorrows', 'Omega' and 'Taking the Queen'. Of less interest are the more straightforward tracks like 'Road to Hell' or 'Welcome to the Pit', but as I said, none of these tracks miss the mark.

It would however have been an even better album if it had been shortened by a few tracks. 12 is too many and if the second half hadn't been as good as it is, fatigue would have set in.

Nevertheless, this is definitely recommended.

Accelerate [Int'L Jewelcase]
Accelerate [Int'L Jewelcase]
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.70

4.0 out of 5 stars One of their best late efforts, 6 April 2013
'Accelerate' (2008) is a gritty and relatively short album with a sense of urgency to it. This - along with a fine collection of songs - is probably why it's so good, certainly one of their best latter-day efforts.

Album opener, 'Living Well Is The Best Revenge' is a good example of this urgency: guitars to the fore, frantic vocals and a rather unpolished mix. This is R.E.M. doing what they do best. Other highlights (and there are quite a few) are the brilliant lead single 'Supernatural Superstitious', 'Houston' and the title track. There is almost no fat on this album, although things admittedly become slightly more pedestrian in the last third and the final track 'I'm Gonna DJ' does verge on being the only real dud on the record.

A lot has been said about the production and mastering qualities of 'Accelerate', but don't let that scare you off. I'm all for fighting the Loudness War, but in this case I actually feel that the production serves the material well. It was, I think, meant to be both loud and dirty.

Absolutely Free
Absolutely Free
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Price: £9.38

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The mother of invention, 6 April 2013
This review is from: Absolutely Free (Audio CD)
Approaching Frank Zappa's catalogue is a daunting task, not so much because of its sheer size - and it is huge - but because it has an extreme width in terms of musical styles and genres. Daunting, yes. But infinitely interesting.

Interesting is also what this, his second album is. Not so much to my taste as his work in the mid to late Seventies, it quite well represents what I find both good and not so good about Zappa.

Zappa sometries tries too hard and I find that parts of the album suffer from this, especially the first five tracks. From 'Invocation and Ritual Dance of the Young Pumpkin' (featuring a great guitar solo) and onwards, I find the album to be much more cohesive and 'at ease', musically. Highlight for me is 'Brown Shoes Don't Make It', which is both fun and more than slightly disturbing. Zappa at his best.

This album as well as its predecessor is sometimes compared to The Beatles' 'Sgt. Pepper' which is understandable. But while 'Sgt. Pepper' is a collection of songs, 'Absolutely Free' is more of a collage: more confusing, but never boring. It is a complex piece which showcases the extraordinary abilities of the musicians involved as well as their diverse sources of inspiration.

I would have liked to give this 3,5. Not Zappa's best, I think, but one that will ultimately reward the patient listener.

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