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Feels So Good
Feels So Good
Offered by UKMusicFiendz
Price: £15.08

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good, 14 Mar. 2008
This review is from: Feels So Good (Audio CD)
If, like me, you find grover Washington Jr a bit far up the cheese spectrum, this and Mister Magic are the only albums really worth having. I'd say that this is the better one- it's still cheesy stuff, but some of it is pretty cool. For me, the best track is Sea-lion, a brilliant, distorted and unsettling, dreamy sort of funk ride.

In my opinion, without the Sea-lion, Feels so Good would be a below average cheese-fest. The other pick of the bunch is Moonstreams, a nice ballad with great instrumentation. The playing on the album isn't bad, but it seems like the biggest contribution comes from keyboardist Bob James (composer of the Sea-lion) with his instrumentation skills, which are superb.

In short, I could live without this album, it's all a bit loungey. But if you like your jazz-funk served smooth, then you should check this out.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 29, 2010 7:20 PM BST

Stravinsky / Debussy / Boulez - Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Stravinsky / Debussy / Boulez - Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £15.95

8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An agressive but taut Rite and a hard-edged, quicksilver La Mer, 31 Jan. 2008
If you are bored of hearing The Rite of Spring played swiftly and cleanly, but were a tad overwhelmed by Valery Gergiev's brutal 1999 recording with the Kirov, then this could be the Rite for you. Barenboim and the Chicago SO are menacingly paced and extremely agressive, but there is also a tight, compacted sound to the orchestra. As for La Mer, this interpretation is a real grower. Barenboim races through it, but it never sounds rushed. It's a harder hearted recording than most others, but that suits La Mer very well- it gives it a elusive, mercurial tone rather than a static, contemplative one. The Boulez is also a nice bonus which reflects niceley the feel of the two main works on offer.

To have captured so well the diverse canvasses of Le Sacre and La Mer is to the credit of the teldec recording quality on this great CD.

P.S To save confusion, I should point out that Pierre Boulez does not conduct at all here- it's Daniel Barenboim.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 20, 2011 6:12 PM GMT

2001: A Space Odyssey [1968] [DVD]
2001: A Space Odyssey [1968] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Keir Dullea
Price: £5.00

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute work of art- 2001 works on any level you want it to, 7 Nov. 2006
Has there ever been a film that has divided people so much as 2001? Some believe it to be the most important artistic achievement in history, and see it as an essential study of evolution, man's complex relationship with technology, and what the future holds for us. Some like it just for its stunning visuals and mind-bending ending. Others see it as a just a complete bore, and an excersise in pretension.

Truth is, 2001 is justifiably all of the above, and different people take away different things from a viewing of Kubrick's masterpiece. Firstly, there are the things we can't debate. On DVD, this film looks, and sounds INCREDIBLE. If you only have it on VHS, I must insist that you upgrade. Even in today's world of CGI, visually, 2001 has never been surpassed.

The film itself (adapted from Arthur. C. Clarke's novel) concerns a series of mysterious artefacts stumbled upon by mankind through the ages. It opens with man's prehistoric beginnings,and then skips forward to expeditions in space. There, men on a mission to Jupiter fight for their lives against rogue control computer H.A.L.

BUT, the plot of this film is not key to its magic. 2001's genius is its asking questions of its audience. It looks at evolution (Why do we evolve?) It looks at technology and creation; at which point does it become more (is H.A.L just a machine?). But most importantly it hints at the question of what the future holds for mankind.

If you've never seen this film before, that must all seem really heavy. But the beauty of 2001 is that it is all put together with a cinematic magic (of which only Stanley Kubrick was capable) that anyone will love. Seriously, even those who don't understand what's going on will be hyptnotised by the Haunting introduction (completley black), the Blue Danube Waltz section (an original score was rejected), or THAT ending.

To sum up, whether you are a 6-year old kid (you'll love the spaceships), a clueless film virgin, or a member of mensa, sit back, and take in as much or as little as you like.

Price: £4.93

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insanely hardcore, a total mind-job, powerful, intense- I could go on, 26 Oct. 2006
This review is from: Sextant (Audio CD)
The period that Herbie Hancock had between his 60s Blue Note work and his funk stuff (Head Hunters ownwards) is often criminally overlooked. His Mwandishi band recorded some of the most awesome, mind-blowingly messed up music that I have ever heard, and Sextant is probably the most challenging album of all. I guess you could call it the paranoid, insomniac brother of Crossings (their previous album). Where Crossings had a real organic, earthy feel to it, Sextant moves even further into uncharted territory. If you like, Bitches Brew was electric, but this is electronic.

This is most noticeable on Rain Dance. It's probably the only electrosiren-swing tune you're likely to hear. Buster Williams inparticular shines on the upright bass. Hidden Shadows is in 19/4 (!) Yet it's not one of these indulgent excuses to write in a wierd time signature- it really flows, and Herbie plays what I'm tempted to call one of the most brilliant piano solos I've ever heard. Hornets is more of an organically instrumental groove- fast-and-furious- but with the kind of organisation and structure you'd never hear on Bitches Brew.

There's not enough Bennie Maupin on this album and he doesn't shine like he does on Crossings, but listen out for Eddie Henderson on the trumpet and flugel, who steals the show. Buster Williams is out of sight, as is Herbie himself. Overall, this album doesn't quite beat Crossings (for me nothing can; buy that before you buy this) but it is the most rewarding long term listen around. If nothing else, pretend you like it just to impress your friends.

A Tribute To Jack Johnson
A Tribute To Jack Johnson
Price: £7.55

14 of 37 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Some dazzling displays of virtuosity, but overall lacks focus, 22 Oct. 2006
There is no doubt that the threading guitar of John McLaughlin, followed by the rocking trumpet solo to kick-start Right Off, gets the average (Open-minded) Miles Davis fan excited. What's not to be excited about? Miles Rockin' it up! McLaughlin's guitar! Hancock on keys! Cobham on drums! etc, etc.

A Tribute to Jack Johnson was by far the furthest Miles Davis had strayed from his jazz background. While Water Babies, Miles in the Sky, and Bitches Brew had threaded his original style with a fresh, new electric sound, JJ was an all out rock assault, set to be a triumphant musical backdrop to the film documentary about the titular boxer.

What I feel is right with this album is, first and foremost, Miles' playing. He completley owns proceedings throughout. There are also catchy riffs aplenty, and exuberant energy and style oozing from the drummer. However, JJ is swarming with problems.

In the 70s, Miles Davis became increasingly guilty of making tunes in the editing room. He gets away with this on Bitches Brew's opener, Pharaoh's Dance, but both tracks on offer here are pieced together so unlovingly, it's almost insulting to the listener. There is also the style of music being explored. Miles' fusion albums generally only work when actually fused with jazz. The straight rock of this album (along with the straight funk of Pangaea, or the straight pop of his 80s period) proves beyond him and his band. If people want to listen to rock music, they should listen to Hendrix or Zeppelin- both of which easily eclipse this effort. In turn, the tracks do not go in any real direction, and the album as a whole criminally wastes its considerable musical talent.

For me (a huge Miles fan), A Tribute To Jack Johnson represents a considerable dip in Miles Davis' form, a loveless collage against other people's handcrafted originals. It has more than a few good moments, but I consider my purchasing of this CD a minor waste of money.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 25, 2013 6:42 AM GMT

Music Of My Mind
Music Of My Mind
Price: £7.15

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rugged, messy, charming- overflowing with sex appeal, 22 Oct. 2006
This review is from: Music Of My Mind (Audio CD)
It is fascinating to look at Stevie Wonder's music evolve throughout the 70s (his only decade in my opinion). By the end of the decade, he had produced Hotter Than July, which boasted more great songwriting, great musicianship, and a great new "tidy" sound. However, those people who felt it was missing something should turn to Music of My Mind- which is worlds away from the trimmed, poppy sound of HTJ.

Right from the start, it is clear that we are in for something different with Love Havin' You Around, a +7 minute funk jam years ahead of its time. Stevie is never afraid to change mood quickly- after the roughly stylish, and downright sexy opener, we move to Superwoman, which is moving, captivating, hypnotic, and simply beautiful.

I Love Everything Little Thing About You, and Seems So Long also seem to be where the album peaks, but you would do well to find much here that you don't like. The ridiciulously enjoyable Sweet Little Girl, the cool Girl Blue, and the genuinely moving Evil will entertain for sure, and it is an absolute delight to hear an uncompromised Stevie Wonder do his thing.

It is true that you might not fall in love with this album straight away (I recieved it along with Hotter Than July as a gift, and initially preferred HTJ before succumbing to MOMM's inescapable charm), but once you get to know the songs, it is a guaranteed grower. It seems like this album is neglected amidst all the praise of Songs in the Key, Talking Book, and Innervisions- But I honestly consider it superior to the formers, and only just inferior to the latter. Respect.

Price: £6.24

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A slightly flawed, but overall very good funk album, 21 Oct. 2006
This review is from: Man-Child (Audio CD)
It seems like criticism to say that in the 1970s, each one of Herbie Hancock's albums was inferior to the previous one. However, it is more of a testament to the 1973 classic, Head Hunters than a judgement of the great man's career, and it is not to say that the albums that succeeded it weren't of considerable quality themselves. That brings us to 1975's Man-child; which followed the spaced-out grooves of Thrust. On that 1974 album, Herbie had changed his sound significantly from his previous effort, and in '75, hot off of Thrust's success, he had altered his style once again.

Man-child opens brilliantly with Hang Up Your Hang-ups, a funk-pop creation that could make the dead tap their feet. As well as snappy guitars, and blazing horns, this album-opener finishes with a cool break-down and an unexpected piano solo. It may sound like Herbie has sold out, but beneath the pop rhythms lie clever instrumentations and great solos from the sax and the keys.

It's a slight shame that the next few tracks can't quite keep up the high standard set by the first. Admittedly, Sun Touch is quite enjoyable(even if it is a poor man's Shaft), and there's masses of fun to be had in the fantastic Steppin' In It (with a great solo from Stevie Wonder on harmonica!); but the standard is somewhat lowered by the slightly repetitive Trailor, and the distinctly average Bubbles.

However, Man-child ends up being dominated by its closing track, the devilishly twisty and frenetically brilliant Heartbeat. Reminiscent of Riot (Speak Like A Child, Blue Note 1967) in its muted ferocity, Herbie bashes out a brilliant solo to close out the album with style. The funk phase of Hancock's career isn't my personal favourite, but Heartbeat is one of my favourite ever Herbie tunes.

And on that exceptionally high note, the album ends and it is easy to forget about its imperfections. Such as: By using so many different musicians, Man-child struggles to find a tone in which to settle, unlike the cool Head Hunters, or the trippy Thrust. Also, some of the tracks go on for too long without any real direction.

Next up in Hancock's funk odyssey was the quite good Secrets, followed by the not-very-good Mr. Hands, meaning that Man-child should perhaps be treasured as Herbie Hancock's last great album for quite a while. Recommended.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 1, 2013 11:47 PM GMT

Price: £10.23

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Different, but brilliant, 12 Oct. 2006
This review is from: Thrust (Audio CD)
Herbie Hancock is a clever man. In 1974, recording his third album on Columbia, after the huge success of Head Hunters, he knew exactly what kind of sound he wanted for his follow-up. The end result, Thrust, is a dizzying cocktail of fast-and-furious funk, and trippy grooves. While it never quite reaches the giddy heights of Head Hunters, it gets damn close, and Hancock deserves credit for taking his sound in dazzling new directions.

If it ain't broke, Herbie will fix it; in '74, he fiddled with a line-up that recorded the second most successful jazz album of all time. By replacing the brilliant Harvey Mason with newboy Mike Clark on drums, Hancock changed the sound of his whole group- giving the music more of a straight funk feel rather than the earthy jazz-funk sound witnessed on Head Hunters.

From the outset, Mike Clark makes his presence felt on Palm Grease. A straight-up funk intro which defies his jazz roots is followed by catchy riffs, awesome percussion, and a far-out, cosmic ending. The incredibly tricky Actual Proof showcases brilliant technical ability all round, with a great solo from Hancock, reminding us that this is still his album.

Track 3, Butterfly follows- spellbinding, awesome, cool, mind-blowing. Simply brilliant. Hancock takes a "simple" fm11-am9 riff, and turns it into something majestic. But, we are given no time to rest because the final track, the hideously named Spank-a-lee, combines awesome playing with.....well, just awesome playing. Hancock seems to take a back-seat in this funk-romp, rightly letting Bennie Maupin and Mike Clark steal the last few minutes through the latter's brilliant filling, with the former's maniacal soloing.

And that's Thrust. Thrust is as much an awesome album as it is a showcase of Herbie Hancock's honourable standings in the music world. Where many people would have stuck to the same formula of their previous ludicrously successful album, Herbie continued to creativley push himself, and came up with a mini-masterpiece.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 30, 2013 8:16 AM BST

Head Hunters
Head Hunters
Price: £6.37

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The coolest album....ever., 12 Oct. 2006
This review is from: Head Hunters (Audio CD)
If there was ever an introduction that embodied the complete essence of its album, it must be the famous bass line that begins Chameleon. From the opening note, a sense of cool is established that never lets up but for the furious solos on Sly.

Where do you start with Chameleon? It is a staple of funk music, a tune that is known to people who have never listened to jazz in their life, arguably the most famous genre crossover piece in history. BUT, bizarrely, it's perhaps the weakest track on Head Hunters, simply because of the quality of the tunes that follow.

Watermelon Man, funked up from Hancock's Takin' Off (Blue Note, 1963) standard, is given a lazy, half time feel, and easily eclipses the original. Sly, is where the cool feel of the album is briefly broken for insanely energetic solos by Bennie Maupin and then Herbie. The album is finished off with Vein Melter- a deeply chilled out effort that recalls Crossings' (Warner Bros, 1971) Water Torture, and returns the album's tone back into the blue.

Head Hunters is not a perfect album(witness the drums and the bass disagreeing over tempo after the electric piano solo on Chameleon, or Vein Melter's dodgy synth strings), but I like to think that no other jazz-funk album, Hancock's or anyone elses, has ever surpassed it. It remains one of my favourite albums, and a great introduction to Herbie Hancock's funk music.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 20, 2014 11:12 PM GMT

A Love Supreme
A Love Supreme
Price: £9.99

39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and moving- one of the greatest achievements in music history, 5 Oct. 2006
This review is from: A Love Supreme (Audio CD)
This album is often coupled with Miles Davis' Kind of Blue as one of the greatest undertakings in jazz history. The two albums have been jostling for superiority ever since they were rightly recognised as classics. While Kind of Blue has a understated elegance years beyond its time, it misses something that Coltrane's masterwork has in abundance- love.

My overriding experience of Kind of Blue is that it is probably the biggest "grower-onner" in music history; an album that just gets better and better and better. A Love Supreme however, captivated me from the outset. The bold opening tells us we are in for something special and it doesn't lie. The album just continues to soar, never letting up, never dropping.

Coltrane's suite was made with so much love that it if you don't fall for it straight away, there is probably something wrong with your CD player. I put it up there with Michaelagelo's sistine chapel, Wagner's Ring, and Kubrick's 2001 as one of the greatest artistic achievements in history.

So, when you feel like there is no love in the world, just stick this on nice and loud- awesome.

Man, I take music way too seriously.....
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 11, 2009 5:56 PM BST

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