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pikeyboy (carmarthen, uk)

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The Future
The Future
Price: £3.99

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HELL TO PAY WHEN THE MUSIC STOPS, 11 Aug. 2007
This review is from: The Future (Audio CD)
How do you top an album like I'M YOUR MAN? How on earth do you possibly begin to think in terms of eclipsing your very own modern masterpiece? When you're an artist of the calibre of Cohen (or Dylan, following BLOOD ON THE TRACKS with DESIRE), you simply have to think a little bigger. Yes! it's that easy...
THE FUTURE, really, is Cohen's Unfinished Symphony. It was during the making of it that his son was invoved in a serious motorbike crash, and recording had to be abandonded. It was then decided it should be released in its incomplete glory, with a couple of outtakes thrown in for good measure, and this is no bad thing. Any album containing songs of the calibre of DEMOCRACY, ANTHEM, WAITING FOR THE MIRACLE, CLOSING TIME, and LIGHT AS THE BREEZE, would find a place in any list of the greats. These are real BIG songs, for grown-ups, just as were the tracks on I'M YOUR MAN, such as TAKE THIS WALTZ, FIRST WE TAKE MANHATTAN and EVERYBODY KNOWS, containing lyrics with a rare and precise attention to detail you want to bow your head and kneel at the feet of Cohen's genius. As for the title track itself, it makes young pretenders like Nick Cave look posturing and almost laughable. I vaguely recall a review posted at the time of release with encapsulated what THE FUTURE was about, saying it was a flawed masterpiece, but "most albums don't aim this high." What's more, I absolutely treasure Cohen's reading of Irving Berlin's ALWAYS: its two short verses could just about sum up Cohen's whole philosophy, and as for the closer, the instrumental TACOMA TRAILER, it is a perfect piece of music and serves to remind that, with Leonard, it is not always just about the words, the man's a fabulous composer too....


Ten New Songs
Ten New Songs
Price: £3.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This Review Don't Make It Junk, 11 Aug. 2007
This review is from: Ten New Songs (Audio CD)
What I most like about this Leonard Cohen album is the fact that so many people coming fresh to the works of this great songwriter seem to love it wholeheartedly. For me, it never felt like an official Cohen release in the way, say, that DEAR HEATHER undoubtedly does. My feeling is that too many of the arrangements belong more to Sharon Robinson than dear old Lenny, and the album runs out of steam after ALEXANDRA LEAVING. LAND OF PLENTY, i.e., is perhaps the only track of Cohen's besides ON THAT DAY, from DEAR HEATHER, whose lyrics actually make me wince a little bit. And it makes me feel sad to say that about someone I consider the finest poet of the last fifty years, who has always cared far more about quality control than Bob Dylan, i.e. But, everyone has bum days, and the moments of brilliance in songs such as IN MY SECRET LIFE, A THOUSAND KISSES DEEP, LOVE ITSELF, BY THE RIVERS DARK, and the aforementioned majestic ALEXANDRA LEAVING, far outweigh the presence of any faults perceived, and it's not that I'm even saying there are any real duffers contained here. BOOGIE STREET sounds uncharacteristic, and would probably have been better served had it been recorded by Robinson herself, with Cohen guest- vocalising. THOUSAND KISSES dates back at least to the time of THE FUTURE as an idea for a song, and SECRET LIFE further back still - to an interview recorded during the release of I'M YOUR MAN. Not that that's anything new in relation to Cohen: on DEAR HEATHER's TO A TEACHER he serves up some backing to a poem contained in his '61 volume THE SPICE-BOX OF EARTH, a period that predates the writing of SUZANNE. It conveys an impression, to me, of a writer (a) either coming to terms with the past, or (b) running out of fresh ideas. Contrast this with the songs on I'M YOUR MAN and THE FUTURE and you'll get an idea of what I mean: a lot of the humour and self-deprecation we've come to know and love seems sadly absent here, barring the vintage of THAT DON'T MAKE IT JUNK. I get the same feeling from DEAR HEATHER also, which to me is an album of footnotes, but one nonetheless that points back towards the beat, down-at-heel, acoustic jew's-harpist we all know and some of us love. Lastly, I feel I have to make the point that this is the second Cohen album containing the word NEW in its title which again proves to be only partly true....


New Skin For The Old Ceremony
New Skin For The Old Ceremony
Price: £3.99

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why Don't You Try?, 9 Aug. 2007
I feel compelled to leap to the defence of New Skin. Though I can say absolutely without doubt that it is not his greatest album, it contains at least three of Cohen's greatest songs - those being Chelsea Hotel*2, Who By Fire?, and best of all, Field Commander - though the latter is much better served on the live album/tour of 1979 bearing that same title.
The first in a string of three John Lisseur-produced albums (a sequence interrupted only by the disappointing collaboration Death Of A Ladies' Man, with Phil Spector,) the songs contained here amount, really, to the first tentative steps towards the established, trademark sound of latterday Lenny. The opener - Is This What You Wanted? - to me is one of the scrappiest songs Cohen has ever made, but it does have a great uptempo chorus offset with such scathing lyrics, signalling some change of mood from the lush and unadulterated melancholy of his previous masterpiece, the evergreen and sometimes disturbing Songs Of Love And Hate.
Chelsea Hotel*2 follows. A stand-out, a classic and, live, always a crowd-pleaser, but on this album something of a throwback to an even-then-already-mighty back catalogue. Lover Lover Lover (again better-served on Field Commander Live) is the perfect funked-up antidote, however, to any backward-glancing. Lyrically, thematically, it is as chock-full of lines of self-loathing and calls for redemption as much of his greatest work, but it has a musical power that simply sweeps you along for the journey. Field Commander is a tour-de-force and songwriting taken to another level again. Muscular, biting, both tough and tender, it must have taken him years to complete every little nuance. In four minutes, Cohen tells more and says more than most novelists do in a lifetime. Musically, too, this song (aided by Lisseur's complimentary arrangements) is a giant step forward from what others might perceive as the more droning prior scapes of Love And Hate. Only four songs in, then, and already so many shifting perspectives it's almost breathtaking. Side One of the original vinyl closes with one of my very favourite of Leonard's lighter little ditties - Why Don't You Try? - a sort of nursery-rhyme for grown-ups.
Side Two (orig.) begins with another uptempo classic - There Is A War, followed by A Singer Must Die, another of his great lyrics, and like Chelsea Hotel*2, somewhat retrograde again. But of all LC's sometimes overlooked lesser songs, I feel I could write ten volumes of prose about I Tried To Leave You and never do justice to its sweet and understated bluesology, or defend to the death the case for the absolute necessity of its inclusion here. Who By Fire? points more towards the devotional Leonard of Various positions. Take This Longing, fine as it is, again seems to hark back to another style, and the closer - Leaving Greensleeves - bookends the album. Not my favourite track by any measure, but I wouldn't be without it.
New Skin For The Old Ceremony: the irony of the title more-or-less gives it away. Something Old and New, somewhere between the sixties Cohen and the old master of the last three decades. On Songs From A Room, Songs Of Love And Hate and Live Songs, the brilliant Bob Johnson managed to define a lasting blueprint of the Cohen legacy, but all great artists crave variety. This fine classic, along with the subsequent Lisseur-produced masterpieces that are Recent Songs and Various Positions placed together might convincingly lay claim to being the absolute pinnacles of Cohen's songwriting achievements: only time will tell...
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 14, 2010 6:30 AM GMT


The Drift
The Drift
Price: £14.88

22 of 34 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Mister Kurtz-He Dead, I Think!, 4 Aug. 2007
This review is from: The Drift (Audio CD)
Even diehard Scott fans, I fear, should shun this album. It lets in no light whatsoever. It is like a big black hole that will suck in every pre-conceived notion you have of Scott Engel and, indeed, of music and art in all forms, never to resurface again. On first and subsequent hearings (perhaps three or four in all) I felt like I could truly claim to have stared into the abyss and the abyss stared back. This album is like the seventh circle of hell, it is so bloody frightening. After hearing it, you are literally left shaking. Thematically, it is no great departure from the Scott of The Old Man's Back Again, or The Electrician, and certainly more akin musically to Tilt (which, in my book, is a classic), but whereas before the sumptuous strings and soaring baritone could render even the darkest subject-matter palatable, with The Drift there is no escape from the horror and every song seems to last forever. Just as Scott's 'torture-classic' - The Electrician - has chilling echoes of the tooth-drilling scene in Marathon Man, I'm reminded that even the most sadistic of dental practitioners allows you a rinse-out with that funny-tasting pink water at some point. Don't expect Scott to hand out free lollipops with every sale of this album: it would cause Hannibal Lecter a few sleepless nights. Buy it because you must buy everything this great original artist produces, but stack it darkly in a corner of your cd rack and on no account ever be tempted to listen to it. You've witnessed the vengeance of The Ring, i.e. the Japanese original. That was only toying around the edges of terror: this is the real deal. I write this alone in the dark and I hear it from its corner on the shelf, whispering, mocking, taunting me.... I'm going outside to take a walk....I don't know when I'll be back.....
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 21, 2010 2:44 PM GMT


Scott 4
Scott 4
Price: £5.99

41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pearls Before Swine, 4 Aug. 2007
This review is from: Scott 4 (Audio CD)
You have to appreciate an album like this in the context of the times in which it was made. In my humble opinion, Scott had already made his rare and beautiful masterpiece - Scott 3 - but he was unhappy that too much of that album had been conceived in 3/4 time and therefore there wasn't much differentiation between tracks. Such are the hang-ups with minutiae that great artists have, and who am I to argue that Scott was WRONG WRONG WRONG! Any album containing songs of the calibre of Big Louise, It's Raining Today, We Came Through, 30 Century Man, Two Ragged Soldiers, plus his inimitable take on Brel's Ne Me Quitte Pas (If You Go Away), deserves a place in any serious record collection. What you get on Scott 3 is pure unadulterated Scott to tug away at the heartstrings, but here's the rub: that was an album that charted, just like the previous two, though not as high up. Maybe it was too much of Scott for most tastes, but more likely that it was a finer distillation of his two previous outings (let's not forget the fine original classics both of those albums contain: Montague Terrace, Plastic Palace People, Such A Small Love, etc.) and what most people were looking for was The Walker Bros. mk II.
Without a trace of irony, then, Scott 4 was conceived in order to win back some of that audience that had drifted away. That it was intended for popular consumption at all seems almost astonishing to me. Songs like Seventh Seal, i.e., almost a transliteral commentary on the Bergman film of the same name (watch it, then listen to the song, and be amazed at its accuracy), the Mahler-like strings and spaciness of the classic Boychild, the Bo Diddley skank of Hero Of The War, the Dylanesque simplicity of Rhymes Of Goodbye, and the almost progressive rock-out of Get Behind Me. Something for everyone, you'll agree, but had it been made today, i.e., most people would never get to hear of it unless it was nominated for the Mercury awards or by chance surfing the net. There are certainly few media outlets for music of such quality today. Great as Scott 4 undoubtedly is, it's one of those adorable children who just can't find a place in the big world, destined to fade into obscurity, much like Scott's subsequent output: both paradox and enigma, that such craft and beauty and, above all, such a great voice must needs be buried under the weight of past expectations. The ultimate failure of this album was a real kick in the teeth for Scott (who never recovered). There are subsequent highs: No Regrets, Lines, Nite Flights, Sleepwalker's Woman, The Electrician, Farmer In The City, and at least Scott's content to plough his own random and sporadic furrow, but you cannot invest as much as he did in those late sixties records to reap such scant reward without it affecting your whole outlook, I'm certain. Still, had Scott not gone out on such a limb, or had he not tried to ensnare the reflection of the moon on the surface of the lake of popular song, we wouldn't have half of what we have today. Scott was and always will be that rarest of pop creatures: a true visionary. Long may he be content to drift.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 3, 2014 9:56 AM BST


Bryter Layter
Bryter Layter
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £7.20

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Weather Permitting......Drake's Finest Hour, 14 July 2007
This review is from: Bryter Layter (Audio CD)
I think some people misunderstand the greatness of 'Bryter Layter'. Personally, if I want to listen to Nick Drake, I am more likely to reach for 'Pink Moon' (not such a dark, oblique affair as others make out), and I'm quite in agreement that 'Five Leaves Left' contains many of his best songs: River Man, Fruit Tree, Way To Blue, Cello Song, i.e. However, I still feel that 'Five...' was put together in order to satisfy many different strands and tastes: Time Has Told Me, with its slightly west coast feel, whereas Three Hours has that jazzy-folky sixties thing going on - almost like The Velvet Underground lyrically and musically - but 'Made To Love Magic' holds the superior version (to my ears). Likewise, The Thoughts Of Mary Jane. As for Man In A Shed, it is the only Nick Drake song across the range of his three recorded masterpieces that I can take or leave (usually the latter). It sounds to me like it was written and recorded with a slight nod and wink to other musicians, and lacks depth because of that.
'Bryter Layter' is a far more cohesive and dynamic affair altogether. Lyrically, it shines throughout, on a scale only touched on by 'Pink Moon' in two songs: Things Behind The Sun and Parasite. What's more, you have Nick's beautiful arrangements underscored by a host of great musicians, including John Cale and Richard Thompson, and three of the greatest instrumentals ever set to record. What nails the argument for 'Bryter Layter' though, is its self-contained evocation of time and place. How others can argue that it sounds more dated than 'FLL' or 'PM' is beyond me. It is as timeless as the weather, and in fact, the weather never sounded more timeless: from the opening, sombre Introduction, on to the sunny morning brightness of Hazey Jane II, the lost afternoon and fall of evening in At The Chime Of A City Clock (lyrically, perhaps his finest song) on to the doomed romance of Hazey Jane I and Fly - a song that never fails to bring a tear to my eye - we already have gone through a vast range of moods, but then we're hit with Poor Boy and Northern Sky before the close of Sunday: two of his finest and most commercial efforts. To garner a better insight into the work of Nick Drake I recommend reading Patrick Humphries biography. We know that Drake liked to listen a lot to radio 4, the shipping forecast, Sailing By, and so on. You can feel all their influences subsumed on this, his shimmering timeless masterpiece, but if I could eclipse all that, I would have to argue that - great as they are - 'Five Leaves Left' and 'Pink Moon' would struggle to hold their own on a definitive list of the all-time greats. Not so 'Bryter Layter'. For me, it ranks up there with 'Astral Weeks' 'Forever Changes' 'Blood On The Tracks' and 'The Songs Of Leonard Cohen' and I really can't praise it any higher than that.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 7, 2012 8:50 AM BST


Grace
Grace
Price: £3.99

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE GREATEST, MOST REPLETE DEBUT OF ALL TIME, 7 July 2007
This review is from: Grace (Audio CD)
Of course, tastes differ widely. Maybe, just maybe, I would have preffered the inclusion of other self-penned tracks, such as 'I Woke Up In A Strange Place' and esp. 'What Will You Say' from 'Mystery White Boy' over 'Lilac Wine' and 'Corpus Christi Carol', and I'm one of those people who believes that 'Hallelujah' by Leonard Cohen can never be bettered than the man's own version, yet what absolute joys and pleasures I have unearthed on listening repeatedly to this album. This, also, from the world's biggest fan of his father's otherworldly and ethereal outpourings, fully ready to be once again disappointed by rock progeny. Jeff owed nothing to anyone: listen (with clean ears evil hippy) to his Coltrane-like rendering of Van Morrison's 'Young Lovers Do' from the 'Live At Sin-e' cd, and I'm afraid if you aren't completely blown away by the rich palette of colours emanating from one man and his guitar, I fear there's little hope for you: I'd almost feel sorry for you. Ignore the negative feedback from some quarters, listener: this is one album you will never regret tuning into.


Night Ride Home
Night Ride Home
Price: £5.49

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Return To Form For Joni, 7 July 2007
This review is from: Night Ride Home (Audio CD)
Perhaps I was biased towards this album by the birth of my son in 1991, but I used to sing these songs repeatedly to him in every effort to lull him towards sleep. For me, it's one of the top 5 album releases of that decade, the others being 'Time Out Of Mind' by Bob Dylan, 'The Future' by Leonard Cohen, 'Nevermind' by Nirvana (also to show I'm not just some old fart stuck in the past), and best of all the greatest, most complete debut of all time: the evergreen 'Grace' by Jeff Buckley. 'Night Ride Home' is chock-full of great songs: from the brilliant opener (the title track) to the fine fine single release 'Coming In From The Cold' it almost purports to be Joni's finest hour, but I feel, personally, that the album slopes off a bit there. Admittedly, I'm not the biggest fan of Mitchell's jazzier escapades, and I have listened to the bulk of her work in search of that greatness that others tell me is there in her earlier works, but 'Ladies Of The Canyon' just for instance leaves me cold. I much prefer the poppier efforts of 'Clouds' and parts of 'The Hissing Of Summer Lawns' (esp. 'The Jungle Line' and 'In France They Kiss On Main Street') so when I originally bought NRH I couldn't believe how bowled over I was. The arrangements are, for the most part, light, loose, and uncluttered: 'Passion Play' (or 'The Magdalene Laundries' as rechristened by The Chieftains) has to be one of the finest songs ever written, and 'Coming In From The Cold' her best ever single, though I wouldn't have imagined for one minute that it could have ever made a dent in the top 40 here or Stateside. Doubtless, more ardent admirers of Mitchell's music will disagree with me, but if I ever want or need to hear a Joni Mitchell album I would choose this one every time.


What's The Matter Boy?
What's The Matter Boy?

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How Long For Folklore?, 2 Jun. 2007
This review is from: What's The Matter Boy? (Audio CD)
I still own the original Oddball recording. I went to see The Buzzcocks in '78, on the 'Love Bites' tour, at the Liverpool Empire, and the Sect were supporting. I don't know what it was about them that so enthralled me, but I went out and bought 'Ambition/Different Story' (which i still possess) the next week, and since that day I never really looked back. Vic's music has appeared at almost every critical junction of my life, but when this album came out I loved it just from reading Dave McCullough's review in the Record Mirror (which is included in the sleeve notes). The song titles alone are genius: 'Empty Shell' 'Stool Pigeon' 'Watching The Devil' 'Enclave' - the list just goes on. In fact, there's nothing in DM's review I could improve on, except to say that although every track has a different angle, they are all equally brilliant, though if I was pressed to name a favourite I'd plump for 'Empty Shell', even though 'Make Me Sad' is possibly the most sumptuous and gorgeous melody Vic has written, apart from 'The Addison Brothers' which I taped from a Mark Lamarr session and which has oddly never appeared on any subsequent release. could someone please remedy this situation, and release Vic's take on the track 'The Long Decline' while they're at it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 29, 2008 12:50 AM BST


In Trouble Again
In Trouble Again

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars T.R.O.U.B.L.E. In Mind, 27 May 2007
This review is from: In Trouble Again (Audio CD)
The quality of Vic's songwriting always assured that, despite a somewhat tinny sound to the original album release, T.R.O.U.B.L.E. remained a diamond in the rough of that bargain-basement decade - the eighties - just crying out to be dusted and polished. This was Vic's third studio album, following, in full swing, the now seemingly lost 'Songs For Sale', the album was in many ways a retreading of the musical grounds and themes of Vic's true masterpiece: 'What's The Matter, Boy?' In fact, the chorus of 'The Devil's In League With You' asks its tortured protagonist the selfsame question. Elsewhere, the cocktail-lounge ivory-tinkling of the profound 'Chainsmoking' belies the songs previous life as a full-on punk belter on the collection of singles and session tracks that was the Subway Sect 'Retrospective' released just prior to this album. What's more, 'Out Of Touch/View', from the first album, is resurrected here as a proto-sixties beat instrumental, like John Barry producing The Tornadoes (perhaps he did!). There is also a bossa-nova update of 'Stop That Girl', which perfectly suits the flavour of the day, but neither adds nor subtracts anything new from the brilliant original. However, the absolutely essential tracks here are the two Vic originals 'Tidal Wave' and 'Ice On A Volcano' and his incomparable take on Noel Coward's 'Twentieth Century Blues'. Pure heaven and all the evidence you need to realise how undervalued Godard really is, and where his place in the starry pantheon really ought to be assured. Even the frothy, almost throwaway, tracks like 'Holiday Hymn' and 'Nice On The Ice' are delivered with great panache. And a big thank you to the engineers who have discovered a funky guitar bubbling beneath the prescient 'I'm Gonna Write A Musical'. A great, essential British maverick classic: own it!


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