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Are You Passionate?
Are You Passionate?
Price: £6.74

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars One of Young's weakest albums, 9 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Are You Passionate? (Audio CD)
I suppose when you have an artist with such a multitude of albums as Neil Young does, you're obviously going to have some misfires along the way. And this is one of them.

This album is mainly composed of soft electric guitar intermingled with a distant bluesy influence. The result is a flat, lifeless sound indicative of The Drifters having a bad day at work.

"Quit (Don't Say You Love Me)", "When I Hold You In My Arms" and "She's a Healer" are as shallow as their titles depict, while "You're My Girl", is just too corny - it just doesn't feel like Neil Young. For an album that's largely based on family and friends, "Let's Roll" (which presumably was inspired by the aftermath of 9/11 back then) is incongruent at best. Its lyrics wage war without the political intrigue, to put it mildly. "We got to get inside there / Before they kill some more / You've got to turn on evil / When it's coming after you / We're going after Satan / On the wings of a dove". "Goin' Home" is the only possible saving grace on the record, where Young attempts to make a statement similar in style to "Rockin' In The Free World", but that falls flat too as it's under-produced and sung with no conviction.

This album sounds experimental, but unfortunately an experimental failure. Throughout, Young sounds uncharacteristically hollow, while the record constantly plods along with a similar acoustic ring and tempo for each track, making it a bore to listen to.

For all the challenge its title throws up, Passion is in conspicuously short supply.


Mercury
Mercury
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £1.26

3.0 out of 5 stars Good effort, but Run of the Mill album, 9 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Mercury (Audio CD)
This is an album that could have reached so many but in the end, reached so few.

No doubt its tunes are infectious & carries distinctly genuine aura about them but its problems are mostly lyrical shortcomings. For instance, 'Can't Explain' begins with "You know what they say / At the end of the day / But days fade away". It's difficult to imagine song-writing more threadbare than this so please, the last thing Brit-rock needs is more Oasis-esque lyrics. Even some of the titles on the sleeve are cringe worthy; 'Falling Without You' immediately succeeds 'Falling For You', songs about boy meets girl, boy falls in love, boy ends up with broken heart, etc. Such song titles are best left to the boy/girl band genre.

Thankfully a broad range of infectious guitar and piano tunes rescues the album. 'Further' was an obvious choice for the single (back then when singles existed that is) with a doubled up vocal and a surging string arrangement backs up the chorus with magnificent effect. 'Only When You Sleep' injects pure energy into proceedings while 'Nowhere' uses another doubled-up vocal and a searing guitar solo that produces a sound similar to that of Idlewild. Another orchestral arrangement is also very apt in the pacey 'Will You Wait Here' and it marks a highlight. On more reserved parts of the album, 'If You Asked' uses a simple but effective piano tune and a sweet female hum in the background significantly boosts the song's merit. The moody 'I Would' is not without its charm as lead singer Rob McVey sings a longing vocal against a soaring guitar solo, and it's enough to overshadow the song's rather shallow lyrics.

Like so many albums from so many bands back then, it never hit the big time and arguably didn't deserve to, but it's a genuine effort all the same.


2012 [DVD] [2010]
2012 [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ John Cusack
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £2.71

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Good Movie to Look At, Just Not a Good Movie to Watch, 9 Jan. 2012
This review is from: 2012 [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
Not content with destroying Earth's major cities in Independence Day, thrashing New York in Godzilla, turning the northern hemisphere into an ice cube in The Day After Tomorrow, Roland Emmerich goes whole-hog and levels the entire bloody planet in 2012.

The premise for the movie is based on the commonly known but generally disregarded Mayan Calendar prophecy that the world will end on December 21st 2012 (12-21-12). Scientifically, this occurs as solar flares from the sun slowly heats up the earth's core by exposure to mutated neutrinos. Or something.

Point is, the Earth's core is melting causing the tectonic plates to dramatically shift position & the Earth's surface completely destabilises and with that comes devastating earthquakes, super-volcano eruptions & mega-tsunamis. Visually, the scenes of destruction are amazing with top notch CGI & you can't take your eyes off it particularly as the Washington monument, the White House, Christ the Redeemer, the Sistine Chapel to name but a few are destroyed, not to mention California itself.

Where this movie falls down is the barely existent plot & complete lack of conviction in its characters. John Cusack stars as a limo driver & failed science fiction writer who upon learning of the oncoming disaster gathers his estranged family & flees to find modern day Noah's arks that will take survivors to a safe location on the newly formed Earth. They manage to stay just about 1 step ahead of every earthquake, tsunami, volcanic eruption & ash cloud as millions die around them & it gets a bit ridiculous.

Danny Glover stars as President Wilson who has little to do but bemoan the eventual destruction with Oliver Platt as a crooked sidekick politician watching out for the rich & powerful while Woody Harrelson stars as a somewhat deranged hippy & DJ who somehow knows all about the 2012 phenomenon. But the truth is for such a prolific cast of actors, their talents are sadly wasted as the movie over emphasises special effects over substance. Therefore, it simply doesn't reach you.

Still, the special effects are second to none but if you want to see a disaster movie with heart & soul involved let alone plot, watch Deep Impact instead.

Deep Impact - Special Edition [DVD]


Post Electric Blues
Post Electric Blues
Offered by Assai-uk
Price: £8.25

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Idlewild vs Roddy Woomble, 12 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Post Electric Blues (Audio CD)
One could be forgiven for thinking that this latest offering portrays Idlewild growing old gracefully, but realistically this is the sound of a band who are trying to reinvent themselves. It doesn't come close to the indie rock genius of the "The Remote Part" and the happy-go-lucky "Make Another World", or the intrigue of the confused "Warnings/Promises", but rather depends on several different influences to produce a fresh sound. Does it work? Yes, but only just.

As the album opens with "Younger Than America", you instantly notice this is truly & recognisably Idlewild, a vicariously riffed tune, and one that will once again accuse them of being, albeit in a good way, influenced by REM circa the Document era. Add to that, an effective backing vocal by Heidi Talbot (who aided and abetted Roddy Woomble's 2006 solo country-ish effort "Secret Of My Silence" to magnificent effect, more on that later).

More of the same on "City Hall", classic Idlewild. Bearing in mind this is their 6th album, it still works in so far as the song exudes their undying zest for what they do. "Dreams of Nothing" echoes sentiments of "Century After Century" from the "The Remote Part", picking on what made them underground greats while avoiding overdependence on it.

Nevertheless, the album is not without its pitfalls, "Readers & Writers" is chart-popped up to an ultimately ineffective extent with oversold bombast on its chorus; it's only the album's second track and in early listens, you worry that Idlewild may be trying to become commercial - which just isn't them. The same could be said of the late-on "All Over the Town". It would sound great live but forces little effect elsewhere. Another poppy effect on "Circles in Stars" features a distorted doubled up vocal that asks "why, why, why?" Woomble's vocals have always been charismatic enough without having to resort to this sort of thing.

Perhaps the most disconcerting aspect of this album is the alt-country influences evident from Woomble's solo effort that are breaking & entering their way through here - it doesn't work on "(The Night Will) Bring You Back to Life"; it's lyrically weak and the music doesn't sounds like anything like the Idlewild we've come to know and love. It improves on the album's outro though as "Take Me Back in Time" features jangly guitar and a hum-drum backing vocal that possibly betrays the album as a whole but nonetheless remains a pleasing ending.

While the album's blessing is that "Take Me Back To The Islands" is undoubtedly one of the best tracks on offer, the fact that it sounds like it was hand-picked from "Secret Of My Silence" is also a distant curse - you can't help but wonder if these contrasting influences are pulling the sound of this band and its lead singer in opposite directions.

All in all, there's enough here to satisfy dedicated fans and a lot of experimentation and credit to them for that; after all, bands who don't reinvent themselves inevitably fade into the background or fade away altogether (just ask any Strokes or Garbage fan).

Definitely Idlewild's weakest offering since the Remote Part, but a satisfying listen at the end of the day.


Delta Force 2 [DVD]
Delta Force 2 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Chuck Norris
Price: £4.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Leave your brains out of it.....Chuck will only blow them out anyway, 11 Nov. 2011
This review is from: Delta Force 2 [DVD] (DVD)
People will look at this movie and think - 'Oh God it's another one of those ridiculous action movies from the 80s/90s where the bad guy kills the good guy's best friend or wife, so the good guy goes on the rampage and single handedly wipes out an entire army in revenge....'

Unfortunately, they would be correct.

Chuck's back as Scott McCoy and this time he's gunning for Ramon Coda played by Billy Drago, one of the world's biggest drug lords in the fictional country of San Carlos. Coda's pumping tonnes of cocaine into the good ol' US of A, as if no one in America wanted it, and after capturing him in mid air as you do, Coda gets off on a bureaucratic technicality. But Coda takes a step too far when he murders McCoy's partner and his family in revenge.

All hail the wrath of Chucky, as he heads off to San Carlos to take out Coda and most of his cronies, throw in a few DEA agents that need rescuing and bring on parachute jumps, car chases, punching everyone's lights out, explosions galore and about a billion rounds of ammunition and you've got your run of the mill Chuck Norris movie.

You have to admire the simplicity of these old action movies so Pleeeeeeaaaasse, don't take it seriously and you'll enjoy it


Collapse Into Now [VINYL]
Collapse Into Now [VINYL]
Price: £28.11

3.0 out of 5 stars A pleasing Outro, 28 Oct. 2011
This review is from: Collapse Into Now [VINYL] (Vinyl)
Many question whether or not this is a return-to-form for REM yet also declared that upon the release of Accelerate. But even when REM were supposedly off-form following the departure of Bill Berry, there is still the troubled intrigue of `Up' to treasure, while others were absorbed by the breezy cheeriness of `Reveal'.

That the release of an REM album inspires such debate is in itself is a testament to their long-standing sense of invention. Now that the dust has settled on REM as a band, it's time to view the album objectively as form, on or off, counts no more.

`Discoverer' opens matters with a searing guitar riff with a bombastic echoed vocal from Stipe with a sincere intent of welcoming you to the party (not a dissimilar sentiment to `The Lifting' on Reveal). `All the Best' is a pretty run of the mill rock tune that revels in its own simplicity. You could be forgiven for thinking that while they're acknowledging their age, good old fashioned rock n' roll deserves its place amongst the masses as Stipe sings `It's just like me to overstay my welcome man' while wanting to `Show the kids how to do it fine', perhaps waving the finger in the direction of commercialism they never aimed to achieve.

Uberlin is an unquestionable highlight with a jangly guitar riff from Buck (think `Drive' with a bit more zest) and an airy vocal from Stipe even if he is singing almost nonsensical lyrics, but is followed by the album's biggest pitfall `Oh My Heart'. Stipe commits an uncharacteristic but cardinal sin in re-hashing lyrics with `The storm didn't kill me, the Government changed' (as opposed to `If the storm doesn't kill me, the Government will' on Houston on the last album) and that song also plods along with a similar tempo to Houston, making it feel like a really bad sequel of sorts.

`It Happened Today, Walk It Back' & `Me Marlon Brandon and I' are breezy efforts that wouldn't sound out of place on Reveal and the album takes a sharp turn as it launches into the frenetically paced `Mine Smell Like Honey', Alligator, Aviator.... & That Someone Is You', reminiscent of Life's Rich Pageant's sillier moments. Dare we say it, are they just having fun? Possibly, as again the songs are lyrically weak; it's difficult to know what direction Stipe is heading in singing about Al Pacino & Scarface.

You could be cynical & dismiss the moody `Blue' (ably accompanied by Patti Smith) as `E-bow the Letter & Country Feedback' thrown in a blender but what avid REM fan dislikes those songs? It's an intriguing exit.

Overall, this album sounds like an amalgamation of post-Berry REM as a keen listener can hear Reveal, Around the Sun & Accelerate in here. We all know that never matched REM prior to Berry's departure (with the possible exception of `Up' but that was an accidental piece of genius) and to accuse REM of relying on former glories is pointless - no band releases 15 albums over 31 years without retreading old ground somewhere along the way.

Collapse Into Now has its moments, including welcome changes of pace along the way (which Around the Sun & Accelerate did not) albeit with lyrical shortcomings & a bit of a throw-away attitude, making it a pleasing endeavour that will grow on you with repeated listens but remains an inessential one.

Still, REM's best days were long behind them anyway but they remain rock's most inventive superpower with a musical legacy that will long be remembered.

Nothing left to say but thank you REM for all the great music & inspiration through all the years.

You will be missed.


Death Proof [DVD]
Death Proof [DVD]
Dvd ~ Kurt Russell
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £3.74

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fast Cars, Slow movie, 28 Oct. 2011
This review is from: Death Proof [DVD] (DVD)
A disappointing effort from Tarantino here.

This movie doesn't really have a plot, it's really 2 movies rolled into 1 where the first half features a bunch of babes who just talk, talk, talk-talk-talk-talk and their dialogue has neither the intrigue nor wit you'd normally associate with QT's work. In the background, a psychotic ex-stuntman played by Kurt Russell slowly imprints his presence upon matters, although not as much as when he deliberately crashes his stunt car which is so fortified, it is impossible for the driver to be killed in any crash, hence the title 'Death Proof'.

The second half of the movie is pretty much the same, albeit with a different bunch of babes & a different outcome. And so, the movie simply plods along the same ground at a tedious pace with your only reward being about 5 minutes of actual motorised mayhem per 45 minutes of smart-mouth or jive talk.

The movie has a gritty print, with even dots & lines appearing on screen in an obvious homage to 70s movie production, probably for Tarantino's own personal amusement but it fails to charm. Still one of Tarantino's ever reliables is the soundtrack, particularly if you're a fan of the 60s/70s rock genre as it includes T-Rex, The Coasters, and Eddie Floyd amongst others.

And as I write, I realise I've just concluded a movie review pertaining its soundtrack to be better than the movie itself, so that tells its own story.

Tarantino once said in an interview that this was his worst movie and he wasn't wrong.

Shame a movie about fast cars could be so slow.


Tango And Cash [DVD] [1989]
Tango And Cash [DVD] [1989]
Dvd ~ Sylvester Stallone
Price: £4.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tango & Cashing In!, 19 Oct. 2011
This review is from: Tango And Cash [DVD] [1989] (DVD)
Tango & Cash is a quintessentially dumb action movie from the late 80s that shamelessly piggy-backs on the buddy cop routine brought about by the first 2 phenomenally successful Lethal Weapon movies.

An overacting Jack Palance plays a crime boss who frames 2 cops (Stallone & Russell) who initially hate each other & predictably team up to take their revenge upon their escape from prison. Cue lots of gunfire where the bad guys couldn't hit a barn door, lots of explosions, cringe worthy dialogue (Fubar? Is that the best they could do?), idiotic cops who can't spot Kurt Russell in drag and a young Teri Hatcher as your token babe.

There are plenty of memorable actioners from the 80s to be had, but this isn't one of them.

Best watched while drunk and forgotten about when hungover.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 27, 2013 7:33 AM BST


The Simpsons Movie [DVD] [2007]
The Simpsons Movie [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Dan Castellaneta
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £2.07

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too little, too late. D'oh......, 6 Oct. 2011
The TV show started to seriously dip in quality by around Season 14 but by the time of this movie's release in 2007, it was up to Season 18 where the memorable hilarity was truly gone, so to expect a memorable classic movie is simply naive.

The first 15-20 minutes are full of funny gaffes & slapstick gags, albeit covering old ground - a classic Itchy & Scratchy sketch, Homer digging himself in the eye with a hammer (atypical Homer DIY incident), Wiggum almost shooting himself while eating a doughnut, Krusty spitting out one of his own burgers to name but a few.

But after that, the laughs are few and far between. The plot of the movie involves the Simpsons going on the run after Homer causes an environmental disaster & Springfield is quarantined. It almost becomes a drama than a comedy then as Homer & Marge have a marriage crisis but it's all been done before with none of the wit that was so consistent in early episodes, a good example say, 'The Last Temptation of Homer' where Homer battles his urge to cheat on Marge with a co-worker named Mindy with hilarious one-liners & general schlock.

Eventually, the Simpsons return to Springfield to put everything right in a dramatic finale, but again funny moments are rare & scattershot, Martin Prince finally getting a bit of payback for example albeit planked in the middle of a very inopportune moment.

Truthfully, this movie feels like 2 or 3 of the latter episodes of lesser quality banged together purely for the big screen.

By the time the credits roll, you can't help thinking this movie's only purpose was to inject a massive cash flow back into a franchise that has been waning for some time, and that hasn't improved now that we're in Season 24.

D'oh....


The Dark Knight (Two Disc Special Edition) [DVD] [2008]
The Dark Knight (Two Disc Special Edition) [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Christian Bale
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £2.78

4.0 out of 5 stars Batman Continues.....Triumphantly, 3 Oct. 2011
Batman's back but completely upstaged by The Joker portrayed with supreme aplomb by the late Heath Ledger.

Batman & the Gotham Police Department are making headway against the crime bosses of the city, that is until a psychotic maniac in the form of the Joker (hinted at the end of the first movie), robs a bank full of money laundered by the mob and then begins to take over the criminal underworld. The Joker in this movie is anything but cartoon-ish as previous Batman comics/films have done, moreover he is extremely intelligent, but a sociopath with homicidal tendencies, to put it mildly.

So, rather than blandly describing this as a Superhero movie, this is more a tense, violent psychological thriller, where the Joker always seems to be one step ahead of Batman forcing him to make tough decisions with devastating consequence and no happy ending in sight. The script is ballsy, unafraid to kill off main characters at a whim, there is a sense of stiff Greek tragedy in the impeccable Harvey Dent degenerating into the deranged Harvey Two-Face, and with a finale the good guys seemingly can't win, you realise this is the Joker's story, not Batman's.

Heath Ledger is disturbingly good as the freakishly sadistic Joker but Aaron Eckhart is under-rated in this movie; people tend to forget the virtuosity of his performance in the shadow of Ledger in how he transforms from the unbreakable Dent to the vengeful lunatic of Two-Face. Michael Caine & Gary Oldman make a welcome return as Alfred & Gordon, Maggie Gyllenhall replaces Katie Holmes as Rachel (thankfully) but while Christian Bale portrays Bruce Wayne with style, he completely overacts in the role of the Dark Knight himself, his OTT rasp soiling almost every scene he's in. He got it right in Batman Begins, so what happened here?

Wisely or unwisely, they've pimped the Batsuit and a few gadgets such as the sonar lenses may seem a touch much to some and when the trailer/promotional posters for the movie showed Batman on a motorcycle, it was worth wondering if the franchise was going to degenerate into cheesiness such as the Bat-bike, Bat-phone, Bat-whatever-gadget but the introduction of the Batpod is a classic.

Nonetheless, this movie is somewhat over-rated. It's great but it's not THAT great. The film seems to be remembered for Ledger's performance rather than the unfolding of the story itself. It's really quite cold to say it, but Ledger's untimely passing prior to its release probably had as much or at least a significant role in promoting or hyping the movie as his performance did. That such a stirring performance was his last in many people's minds (it wasn't by the way, he went on to appear in 'The Imaginarium of Doctor Paranassus) may well have cemented the film onto an undeserved pedestal. But history can decide that.

The Special Features disc is very disappointing, there is little in the way of interviews with cast & crew and no off-set footage of Ledger/Bale at all, but mostly some featurettes showing how they constructed the new batsuit & batpod and a chance to re-watch the scenes shot in IMAX, which seems pointless as they are most effective in the movie itself.

Still, it beat the sequel trap and is an excellent film in its own right. That it leaves many questions unanswered at the end makes you salivate for the next instalment.

Bring on the Dark Knight Rises.


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