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Tristan Dunn (UK)

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Electric Peace
Electric Peace
Price: £7.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice to finally get the full Peace album without having to buy a whole box set, 9 Sep 2013
This review is from: Electric Peace (Audio CD)
I was a big time Cult fan back in the day and, though I'd heard of them during the Love era, Electric is really what got me into them. I was aware of the aborted first stab at the third album through the Electric B sides (Zap City and Love Trooper). Though pretty good songs, I always felt that they sounded really rough. Based on that, it was always pretty apparent to me why Peace was rejected.

In the early 90s various EPs were released offering remixes, b sides and singles and 9 of the 11 Peace tracks became available on just two of them:
"The Manor Sessions" gave you songs that were kept and reworked (Love Removal Machine, Wild Flower, Electric Ocean, Outlaw and Bad Fun)
The "Love Removal Machine/Lil Devil" offering presented the tracks that were just abandoned (Conquistador, Groove Co,, Zap City and Love Trooper)

Though great to hear more of the session, it really confirms that starting over with Rick Rubin was the right decision. Now, I'm not bashing Steve Brown as a producer. You don't need to look any further than the Love album to see what a great job he can do (a crisp, tight, beautiful sounding album). By comparison, this is really loose and sloppy.

Of the tracks that were reworked, the difference in the arrangements is interesting to note. Wild Flower, Electric Ocean, Bad Fun and Outlaw changed quite substantially.

So, given that I had the majority of Peace and Electric already, did I buy this? Yes!! I really wanted to hear (and legally own) the missing tracks ("Peace Dog" and "Aphrodisiac Jacket"). Though those two tracks probably changed the least between the two sessions, I'm still glad I got it.

One niggle, as many people have said, is the Born to Be Wild cover on Electric. Astbury and Duffy are great composers and certainly don't need to rely on covers - especially on their third (arguably fourth) album. Of the tracks that weren't reworked, Zap City is by far the best and should have been re-done in place of said cover. Groove Co in place of Memphis Hip Shake wouldn't have hurt either!

Someone else here mentioned about the lack of information in the packaging about Peace. I also feel that the bare minimum presented here is a huge omission. Insights on progressing from Love to Peace and then why they shelved the whole thing would have been fascinating reading. As mentioned, it is pretty much 95% the "Electric" packaging shoved in a slip case with a pretty naff image of an aeroplane on it. When you look at what Iron Maiden and Megadeth have done with their re-release packaging, you really do feel a bit short-changed. Even more so when you put that in the context of an album that was aborted in its entirety. For that reason I'm only giving it 4 stars. Irrespective of that, it rocks. Buy it!!

LEGO Star Wars 3: The Clone Wars (PS3)
LEGO Star Wars 3: The Clone Wars (PS3)
Offered by 101Trading
Price: £13.50

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this game, 8 April 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Been a big fan of the Lego franchises. With the exception of Harry Potter (sorry, not a fan) I've played all of them across various platforms and they're all great (maybe except Indy2). Batman was probably my fave. Anyway, Lego Star Wars III doesn't disappoint. I'm now playing it on the PS3 and it looks beautiful. The previous games were designed for the previous generation of consoles so were just ported to the PS3. Being designed for this generation, it makes good use of the PS3's capabilities.

All the fun of the previous games is still present. Additional features haven been added. You can now throw your light sabre at things. There are times when you have to move a droid somewhere using the force, as the droid can't get there on its own. On the subject of the force, you have to guide the object(s) yourself. It takes a little more thought. You can also use your light sabre to cut through walls.

One of things I wasn't so keen on in the early Star Wars games, was the vehicle levels. I found them a little tedious and looked on them as a necessary evil. I preferred the character-based, "on foot" levels. Maybe I wasn't alone with that feeling. The only 2 space ship levels I've had, have also involved landing, and getting out and doing things on foot. Kinda like the forest moon of Endor level in Return of the Jedi (but better).

The central hub is the Jedi Command Ship. At the start of the game, you're on board the bridge. As you unlock content, more and more of the ship becomes unlocked for you to explore. You can even fly out of it and across to the enemy ship the Malevolence. I'm only about 5 levels on story mode into it, and I love it already. They've not changed the game for the sake of changing it. They've just expanded it well. If you liked the previous Star Wars/Indiana Jones/Batman games, you won't be disappointed.

Sony MEX-BT3800U Bluetooth Car Stereo with Usb and Front Aux Input (discontinued by manufacturer)
Sony MEX-BT3800U Bluetooth Car Stereo with Usb and Front Aux Input (discontinued by manufacturer)

7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Poor USB support has ruined a great product., 8 April 2011
This would have been a great product, were it not for the USB mode. Everything else is great. The reviews other people are writing certainly backs this up. However, Sony have some very bizarre thoughts on managing your music....

Firstly, the device does not sort all the files/folders alphabetically. It just accesses them in the order that they were written on to the disk. When you drag and drop them from your computer, it may not copy them alphabetically. Users from the days of MS DOS will appreciate what I'm talking about here. Files are written on to the disk in any random order. Your file manager sorts them for you. This is incredibly frustrating as, when you're listening to your tunes, it jumps all over the place. Being an IT geek, I've been able to write a script to copy my entire collection, file-by-file, in the order that I want them to appear. This worked fine. However, I've since added an album which has now been appended after Z. I'm now going to have to re-write the entire stick. Your average punter won't be able to do this and just be stuck with this ludicrous scenario.

The other issue is the number of folders. I bought a 32GB stick to hold all my tunes. No more CDs and one stick with everything on it. Unfortunately, not all of them were being detected by the system. It transpires that the unit can only see about 120 folders (in total). In the root of the stick I've got nearly 100 (one per artist). When you consider there's at least one sub folder in each of them (one per album) that already takes you over the limit. For a bands like AC/DC, Queen or Iron Maiden who've been around for decades and have loads of albums, that just rubs salt into the wound. Perversely, it can see around 500 files per folder. How many albums have 500 tracks?

To get round the problem, I've re-organised all of my files from /artist/album/song.mp3 to /artist/album_song.mp3. This solves the problem, but gives you loads of files per folder, making it fiddly to find the track/album you're after. Also, as you're scrolling through the tunes, you can only see the first x characters. In this case, the album name over and over again. You can't see the name of the song. You've got to guess.

From a technology giant like Sony, I'd have expected better than this. If you're only after a few tunes on a stick, this probably won't be an issue to you. Personally, it's bordering on useless for my requirements. I'm now thinking of abandoning the USB altogether, putting everything on my phone and playing it over bluetooth.

This, coupled with the farcical things they've done with the PlayStation 3, has made me seriously consider ever buying a Sony product again.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 15, 2012 1:10 PM GMT

Classic Connolly - Billy Bites Yer Bum Live/Hand Picked By Billy [DVD]
Classic Connolly - Billy Bites Yer Bum Live/Hand Picked By Billy [DVD]
Dvd ~ Billy Connolly
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £3.60

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Billy at his best, 18 Nov 2010
Been a fan of Billy for a good 25 years now. Having heard material from the mid 70s through 'til now, I feel that this was the end of him at his absolute best. In those early days he seems plugged into the mains compared to the mid 80s onwards. You can hear him starting to relax his language a little here, something I have absolutely no problem with, but I can't help but feel that it was brought in as a crutch, as the material was getting thinner. I appreciate that comedians have a rough time in that everything on a tour must be completely fresh, whereas when you go and see a band, you expect classics to be played. Given Connolly's longevity, you can sympathise with him. Someone here mentioned that they've heard some of this before. Well, yes you may have. The Organic Redistribution routine is the only thing I can recall (see "The Jobbie Weecha" on his early "Solo Concert" album). There's so much good stuff on here: the Country and Western song, American television commercials, the Cardinal visiting the Scottish primary school, ship-yard toilets, the school trip to the countryside, and as for the finale? Simply brilliant. I do agree that the second "Hand Picked by Billy" performance is the weaker of the two. That's not to say that it's bad. The Glasgow Sewage Worker routine is great, and his irate customer walk, going back to the sex shop with the duff inflatable woman still makes me cry with laughter. There's the previously mentioned Organic Redistribution routine which is still really funny.
On the subject of his 70s performances, try and get hold of his early albums: "Cop Yer Whack For This", "Get Right Intae Him", "Raw Meat for the Balcony", "Riotous Assembly" and "Atlantic Bridge". They've all been deleted for years so will be v hard to get hold of. The best bits were complied into "The Pick of Billy Connolly" which has probably also been deleted. These albums really show him at his best. This DVD is the closest thing you'll get to those days. Treat yourself. You won't be disappointed

Walls Of Jericho
Walls Of Jericho

5.0 out of 5 stars Helloween's best work, 26 Oct 2010
This review is from: Walls Of Jericho (Audio CD)
Their first release(s) with Kai Hansen singing. Tracks 1 through 5 (Starlight - Cry for Freedom) are the Mini LP released early in 85. Walls of Jericho (tracks 6 through 13) was released later on the same year. Not too sure on Judas. May have been 86 just before Kiske joined.

I bought Walls of Jericho after hearing the Live in the UK and Keepers Albums. I was initially put off by the heaviness of this, as it was really unexpected. However, I soon came round. It's got much more attitude and a looser, heavier sound than subsequent releases. Surprisingly, the production is a little better (cleaner and tighter) on the Mini LP than the full album.

It's is just a fantastic piece of work that they haven't come anywhere near to since. Great, beefy, in-yer-face speed metal. Yes, Hansen's singing isn't that clear (something he's improved on immeasurably since) but it really suits the material. The less said about Deris' attempt at singing these tunes, the better. As much as I love Kiske's voice and would argue that he's technically better than Hansen, he doesn't have the attitude for this. Hansen beats him hands down. Ralf Scheepers made a great job of singing Ride the Sky in his early Gamma Ray days. He actually helped Helloween finishing off the tour for this and was offered the gig, full time, but turned it down (he lived hundreds of Ks away and didn't want to relocate). It would have been really interesting to see what would have happened had he have taken up the invitation. Would they have continued in this vain, rather than taming things a smidge with Kiske for the Keepers albums?

Anyway, I digress. It's a whole chapter in the Helloween story on its own. Nothing like (and much better than) anything they've done since. Do yourself a favour and buy it.

One last thing. When I migrated from Vinyl to CD, this was the first CD I ever bought. Need I say any more?

Past In Different Ways
Past In Different Ways
Price: £10.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Michi takes back his tunes, 3 Jun 2008
This review is from: Past In Different Ways (Audio CD)
Great to hear these tunes again. His initial reluctance to have anything to do with them, and let's face it, Helloween aren't gonna play any of them, left them lost in the midst of time. Great that he has done this.

I bought "Instant Clarity" and "Kiske" a while back and love them both. Really want RTS to be re-released as well. Given where Michi is musically now, my only gripe with this release is that the tunes haven't been re-arranged more. I'd love to hear a string section doing the solo in We Got the Right rather than the leccy guitars simply being replaced with acoustic ones. Having said that, Kids of the Century has a different vibe and Going Home, although still at the same tempo, has lost it's main riff. Jury still out on that one.

The vocals throughout the are as amazing as they were back in the day. Amazing that he's still able to hit all those notes 20 years down the road.

It's such a shame that Michi is musically stuck. I'd love to see him tour with someone like Newton Faulkner, KT Tunstall or Sandi Thom. I think he'd go down a storm. Just need to brave music execs to take a gamble. If Johnny Cash can successfully work with Ruck Rubin and Trent Reznor, anything's possible. I still like Metal. I'm really into his friend Mr Kai Hansen's Gamma Ray. I don't have anything against what Michi is doing now. It's great. A lot of other people I know who like metal are into all sorts of music. I really don't think they'll think this is a travesty at all. They're good tunes, played, produced and sung brilliantly. End of story.

Please buy this album and spread the word. He needs to be back on tour and get the credit/praise he deserves

Somewhere Out in Space
Somewhere Out in Space

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant overlooked masterpiece, 12 July 2006
This review is from: Somewhere Out in Space (Audio CD)
This is what Helloween should be doing (gave up on them a while back). Anyway, Land of the Free and Powerplant constantly seem to be voted as the best Gamma Ray albums. While Land of the Free is certainly worthy of this mantle, I reckon Somewhere out in Space knocks the spots off Powerplant.

"Beyond the Black Hole" is probably my fave GR tune of all time. In a similar vein to Lust for Life back on the debut. The title track is just as brilliant as are, The Winged Horse, No Stranger and pretty much the rest of the album. Nice to hear Piet Sielk guesting on Watcher in the Sky.

Also, this is also the first outing for Dirk to show what an amazing bass player he is. Shame he and Jan never managed to switch instruments as planned. Still, people come and go, and Jan chose to go. Welcome to Henjo and Dan, cementing the most stable line-up of the band's history.

Just gotta say this, being a drummer myself, I obviously pay extra attention to the drums. Having listened to Dan playing live (Skeletons in the Closet) it really gave me goosebumps. He is amazing. Not to take anything away from Thomas, Uli and Matthias (his predecessors), but his presence is just right in-yer-face from start to finish. Good stuff.

In short, if you like the Helloween's early stuff (pre Kiske) and the Keepers I & II albums, buy this. It won't disappoint. Get yourself a copy of Land of the Free while you're at it!

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