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Reviews Written by
jnd@leeke54.freeserve.co.uk (Felixstowe!)

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Argus
Argus
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 5.69

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hauntingly melodic and otherworldly, 20 Mar 2002
This review is from: Argus (Audio CD)
Putting this on the stereo is like welcoming an old friend into your home. The remastering has meant that the guitars sound better then ever - crystal clear. You can hear little phrases in the mix that add a depth to the sound that, certainly if you only have it on vinyl, you were unaware of. The sheer beauty of the acoustic guitars on the opener, "Time Was" lends a dreamy quality to the whole experience. And it is an experience. The narrative that grew up around the album came from the band's interests and reading matter of the time, such as von Daniken's "Chariots of the Gods" and The Bible. The community feel of living close to each other to allow the members of the band to nip round to each other's houses with ideas meant that the album grew organically. There is an otherworldy quality to this album, which the celebrated cover shot enhances. Overall the songs are hauntingly melodic and spacey and the whole listening experience takes you off world. It's always reminded me of "The Trigon Empire" stories from "The Eagle" (there that shows my age). A film waiting to happen (though god forbid!).
"Leaf and Stream" is my personal favourite - Andy Powell always said that he used to listen to Fairport Convention in those days - there's nothing wrong with letting your influences show.
Personally, while the Memphis stuff is okay and comes from a similar time, I would have preferred perhaps the acoustic "Blowing Free" rather than this live stuff which I find detracts from the flow of the album. Actually, it's so good you don't need extras.


The End Of The Rainbow: An Introduction to Richard and Linda Thompson
The End Of The Rainbow: An Introduction to Richard and Linda Thompson
Price: 5.93

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent retrospective of the Island Years., 30 Aug 2000
As near as a "Best Of" that we'll probably get for Richard and Linda's output for Island Records. This is a well-deserved retrospective of their '70s output - I can't fault the choice of songs at all - other than the fact it says "Dargai" is included but isn't. "Dimming of the Day" just doesn't seem right without it! Island make up for it though by including the "Guitar Vocal" version of "A Heart Needs A Home" which has always seemed to me to be a more successful version with Thompson's guitar gently weeping alongside Linda's plaintive vocals. The live "Calvary Cross" is still an astonishing tour de force with Thompson ringing every last note out of his battered Strat. From the opening clusters of notes through the long torturous climb to Golgotha and the last few hanging harmonics, this was always more than just a song to his muse.
As I have said, the selection is excellent and because the track selection is in chronological order you can trace Thompson's development as a singer, songwriter and musician through those exciting years. I can't not mention Linda's voice which was always a superb foil for Richard's songwriting. It has been a great loss to British music that she has all but retired form the music business.
One last gripe - there's always one - the liner notes by Clinton Heylin contain his usual mistakes and lack of depth of knowledge - his chronological knowledge is out of order. Still, it doesn't mar the album - which has an excellent cover, too. Well done Island, you got this one right. Now I only need take this CD with me on holiday instead of wondering how to fit them all in.


Pleasures of the Street
Pleasures of the Street
Offered by shakedownrecords
Price: 19.97

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Finally, an official and welcome release in England!, 30 Aug 2000
This review is from: Pleasures of the Street (Audio CD)
It's been a long time coming. This was an album available on vinyl only on import and is a very welcome addition to the growing Chapman collection - we're still waiting for his mid- to late-1970s albums, but this will do fine for now.
The album was made under difficult circumstances, as the liner notes indicate, but it is a fine example of Michael Chapman live both solo and with a band recorded in the '70s. From the opening medley of "Party Pieces" and "Rock'n'Roll Jigley" performed on solo acoustic to the great chugging full band version of "Shuffleboat River" this is Michael Chapman doing what he does best - performing his hard as brass, no-nonsense songs live and playing electric guitar.
The sound quality seems to be much improved on than my old vinyl copy, which always sounded "thin". However, if I have any gripes, then it's over the bonus tracks. Hearing "Sea of Wine" and "Hero Returns" really is a bonus, but do we really need two versions of three of the songs? I'm sure there were other songs from the two nights worth hearing. If not, the liner notes could have mentioned why? Oh well, just a thought. I'm not complaining, it is worth buying as a document of Michael Chapman working with a band. Now perhaps someone will get round to releasing all those other great albums from the '70s - "Deal Gone Down" for instance!


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