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Profile for H. A. Davis > Reviews

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Reviews Written by
H. A. Davis (Huddersfield, Oooop North)

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Black Light
Black Light
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £9.03

5.0 out of 5 stars Derivative, mmm...maybe. Fantastic...definitely!!!, 10 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Black Light (Audio CD)
I bought this pretty much when it came out, but with a certain amount of trepidation. After all, GA have a back catalogue almost as patchy as Basement Jaxx, but the album title & cover won me over. An album called Black Light with a cool cover can't be bad, right? What I wasn't expecting was something this right.

There's a familiarity running through the songs, not of GA's past, but of a time before! The time is the eighties, but don't expect an eighties colour by numbers nostalgia trip. It's retro, but is also informed by more contemporary music & production values, which stops it from sounding irrelevant. I generally don't like dissecting albums track by track, unless it's terribly inconsistent, and there's no reason to pull this one apart. Press play and do nothing else 'til the music ends, it's that good.

If you want a big slab of electro cake with some guitars, then get this. You even get Will Young in 'Smalltown Boy' mode on the aptly named History (it's even got loads of reverb!)

Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Offered by 247dvd
Price: £4.06

5.0 out of 5 stars Don't you own this yet?, 20 Nov. 2011
This review is from: Blood Sugar Sex Magik (Audio CD)
You know when you keep going back to an album, despite all the wonderful new(er) music you have? Well this is one of those albums. From the first few bars, you never want to press stop 'til the very end. This is remarkable considering it weighs in at a hefty 74 minutes. For me, this is the high water mark in their career. I'm not saying they can't surpass it, but they haven't so far, Stadium Arcadium is the best offering since.

So why do I like it so much? In a word, ENERGY. This album is full of it. It's punchy, muscular & uncompromising, the perfect alignment of band and producer. With regards to the mix & mastering, this is rock album perfection, working with the music, not against it like the death by loudness mastering we endure today. I'm not sure this album would captivate as it does had it suffered the same nosebleed mastering as By The Way & Californication.

Whilst possibly being overshadowed by Nevermind, this is the best album of 1991 and beyond, no question!

Static Kingdom
Static Kingdom
Price: £4.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sonic Bliss, 6 Sept. 2011
This review is from: Static Kingdom (Audio CD)
Brooding, shimmering...some songs float, some have a building tension, none disappoint. Whilst you can identify the musical styles & references, it's hard to pin down. Is it folk? A track like 'Dead Flame Rising' certainly has this feel about it, although this lazy label gets applied to anything with an acoustic guitar, then a track like 'Stay in Silence' or 'Golden' will defy this label. So what else do I have in my collection to reference this against to tempt you in to its sonic delights? Well, sometimes a bit Goldfrappy but earthier. The All About Eve comparison in another review isn't wholly unfair, but only if AAE hadn't strayed into MOR. I can't think of anything else, but I'm listening to this right now & damn it's good, Jayn Hanna's vocals are just perfect! Listen to samples, find them on my space, just listen to them, as this the only way to 'get' them. These are also genuine indepedent musicians on a tiny label based near to where I live, so if you find you like them please buy it, don't 'acquire' it! Get this and get blissed out!

Laughing Stock
Laughing Stock
Price: £4.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow, 22 May 2011
This review is from: Laughing Stock (Audio CD)
Just finished listening to this album, not for the first time, and in the spirit of the albums' minimalism all I can say is -


The other 5 star reviews will tell everything else you need to know!

Director's Cut
Director's Cut
Offered by HitsvilleUK & more
Price: £18.35

74 of 92 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some Moments of Pleasure..., 20 May 2011
This review is from: Director's Cut (Audio CD)
Really glad I gave this another go, because my original review title was 'Not Many Moments of Pleasure' Given the nature of this album, it really has to be taken on a track by track basis, which is something I don't normally like doing. I must point out that The Red Shoes was never my favourite album. However reading KB's comments about the original digital mastering, I think that has had something to do with my dislike of the album. It always had an unlistenable quality about it, pity I didn't get the box set of this then!

Anyway, here goes

1. Flower of the Mountain - Musically softer & less vital but not radically different, lyrically the original has it.
2. The Song of Solomon - An improvement over the original for me, but Wop, Bam, Boom?
3. Lily - Pretty much the same as above, without the Wop, Bam, Boom bit
4. Deeper Understanding - Erm, Er, The original has it. Auto Tune, really?
5. The Red Shoes - Again I prefer this version, a more 'played' organic feel to it.
6. This Woman's Work - This was always the one that would struggle to win me over, and it hasn't. I'm not saying this new arrangement is awful, it's perfectly fine, but it isn't the same song that can move me to tears. And I don't think it ever would have, had this been the original version. Original wins!
7. Moments of Pleasure - Benefits from the stripped back production & calmer feel compared to the original. I do like the original, but this new arrangement is beautiful.
8. Never be Mine - As others have said nothing much different here, just a softer feel again. A pleasant reworking, that's all.
9. Top of the City - Never really liked the original, this is better..just.
10. And So is Love - Great song, this version does nothing to change that fact.
11. Rubberband Girl - Oh well, she sounds like she enjoyed herself. Something I'll never do listening to the original or this version unfortunately.

So overall, an album of softer, less produced versions of the songs. Did we need this? Probably not, but she's done it and it'll keep her in biscuits or tofu or whatever.

Finally, quite a bit has been said about the perceived poor sound quality of this album. Unfortunately this has more to do with the overly LOUD poor quality mastering we have suffered for the last 15 years, than any problem with this album. Yes, the vocals could do with a bit more 'space' and top end and the bass end is intentionally soft, but think we've all forgotten what voices & instruments really sound like. And as for the album being quiet, that's because the mastering engineer has done his job properly and given this album dynamic range. Quiet things are quiet, and loud things are loud, it's not all at one fatiguing, clipped level and it retains the emotional impact of the music. The engineer has allowed you to determine how loud the music is, you are in charge of the volume control. One day all albums will have a dynamic range, just like they used to!
Comment Comments (9) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 12, 2014 4:04 PM BST

New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)
New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)
Offered by jim-exselecky
Price: £4.92

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You don't have to be a fan, 10 April 2011
OK, I'll come clean, I'm not really a big Simple Minds fan. Growing up in the eighties though, you couldn't avoid them and they certainly produced some memorable songs, the most memorable being mainly in the chest thumping stadium rock vein.

However, a forum post on here gave this album glowing praise, and as I remember 'Promised You a Miracle' found favour with me back in the day, when I taped it off the Top 40 on a Sunday evening! So I thought I'd give it a go.

I'm glad I did, because whilst I'm yet to be convinced by much of their output, this is a fantastic album. In fact, much to my shame, I'd say it was one the best albums of eighties that I completely missed. The production is spot on, to the point you don't notice it, everything just hangs together perfectly, and that surely is the sign of good production? One small niggle is the mix on this, the remastered version ( I can't vouch for the original mix) Vocals are muddy, indistinct and swamped in reverb, the top end has no bite, in fact it's just not punchy & clear enough at all. Except for the kick drum on most tracks, which tends to dominate. However not even dodgy mixing can diminish the strength of the song writing on this album. I just wish I'd been listening to it for the last 29 years or whatever!

Build A Rocket Boys!
Build A Rocket Boys!
Price: £3.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not what I was expecting..., 11 Mar. 2011
This review is from: Build A Rocket Boys! (Audio CD)
...which given this is pure Elbow, may sound a little strange. But that's because I was expecting to be uninspired by this album. As good as TSSK is, it is now my least listened to Elbow album and I wasn't looking for merely a repeat of it.

Well this is no repeat, it's a brilliant collection of songs that just sit well along side each other. Nothing is trying too hard to grab your attention, something TSSK could stray in to, but perhaps that was the intention of that album! It certainly grabbed my attention...I gave it it 5 stars at the time! I'd probably give it 4 now, but the 5 given to BARB will stay.

Anyone who suggests this album is a dirge or drags just isn't listening. If they were they'd hear a set of subtly complex & beautifully crafted songs. However, producing an album of a subtle nature has its problems, the 30 second clips can't give you a good feel for this album, so you'll just have to buy it!

One last point, why no Flac? Arcade Fire managed it, Radiohead even gave us WAV files. So come on, sort it out, we've all got acres of cheap storage & ADSL and we can make our own MP3 files as required.

The Seldom Seen Kid
The Seldom Seen Kid
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £4.03

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Often Heard Album, 2 May 2008
This review is from: The Seldom Seen Kid (Audio CD)
Sorry for the review title, it's a good job Elbow do better songs than I do titles!

In light of the other reviews, do you really need another verbose offering? No. But this album needs another 5 stars, because it's a wonderful, wistful, melancholic, optimistic & occasionally ballsy ride. Put it this way, I now have 4 great Elbow albums in my collection, instead of just the 3!

And if you get a chance to see them live, do, they will blow you away!

Favourite Worst Nightmare
Favourite Worst Nightmare
Offered by SBSUK
Price: £13.03

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They've pulled it off, 8 Jun. 2007
I initially avoided the Arctic Monkeys, too much hype, Yorkshire accent sounded a little contrived. However a friend loaned me their debut album a couple of months after its release. The CD finished, and within seconds I was sat at my PC ordering it!! The big test was this, the second album, could they pull it off? Too right they have!! This is a fantastic follow up album, succeeding where so many have failed. They have just judged it right. In moving their music on a little, whilst keeping their fundamental sound, they have produced an album which doesn't just repeat the first album, but doesn't alienate their audience either.

Packed from beginning to end with great songs, this album is HIGHLY recommended, buy it today!

Mind Bomb
Mind Bomb
Price: £5.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless Brilliance, 2 Feb. 2007
This review is from: Mind Bomb (Audio CD)
I've had this in my collection for nigh on 18 years, and I've never tired of it. It conveys some serious messages, without being preachy, and cleverly couples this with sublime tunes, that bear repeated listening. I love the album prior to this, Infected, but have to be in the right mood for it, and that's the genius of this album, it's very accessible, with no compromise in Johnson's words. Like another reviewer, I am both a fan of The Smiths and The The, so this was like a wet dream, especially after Mozza's post Smiths output. Marr's guitar playing is the work of the genius he is, and this coupled Johnson's lyrics & songcraft, the playing of the other musicians and production, which fits the music perfectly, make this a must have. In summary, BUY THIS ALBUM, even you already own it(I own three copies), as the remaster is worthwhile update, in fact it sounds almost as good as the vinyl!

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