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Gizzark Henry "dynamitekid156" (Notts)
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Around The Sun (Int'l Jewelcase)
Around The Sun (Int'l Jewelcase)
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £5.79

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Oh dear., 25 Oct. 2010
Adrift in a mediocre wilderness since the departure of founding member Bill Berry, REM had already churned out the fussy, experimental but underrated Up and the even more overlooked but far superior Reveal. Then in 2004 came their nadir - Around The Sun, the absolute worst REM have ever been.

Up had its moments but didn't sound remotely like the band they used to be. Reveal, by comparison, had more of a 'classic' REM sound, recalling Automatic For The People but with more synthesisers. Around The Sun, unfortunately, takes a step back from both of those. It's not experimental, it's not attempting to make a name for them post-Berry, and it's not augmenting their classic sound. It's just ripping themselves off.

Things start well enough with the wonderful 'Leaving New York.' A glorious, heart-wrenching ballad with the immortal mantra 'it's easier to leave than to be left behind,' it could easily have slotted in on Automatic or its predecessor Out Of Time. But from there we have rehash after rehash of those two albums, including a guest rap by Q-Tip which may as well have been called 'Radio Song Part II.'

The songs here are simply anonymous, acoustic grumbles that suffer from the same wheel-spinning structures that occasionally marred Reveal. There are two notable moments where things pick up - the baffling 'Wanderlust' on which REM turn into a major-key piano pop band to remarkably convincing effect, and the closing title track which is nowhere near as good as 'Leaving New York' but is at least worth listening to.

The joy of a band with as rich a catalogue as REM is finding the diamonds in the rough - this is definitely the roughest they ever were, with the fewest diamonds. But those diamonds still shine, and we all know that their next step was the brilliant album Accelerate - so we forgive you for now, guys.


The Who By Numbers
The Who By Numbers
Price: £5.49

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of their forgotten good ones, 24 Sept. 2010
This review is from: The Who By Numbers (Audio CD)
The Who's classic albums are so skycraping in their spectacle that it's often easy to forget the other peaks in their catalogue, of which The Who By Numbers is one.

The Who By Numbers is not perfect, not a classic, not as good as Tommy - there are so many things it isn't, but what it is is unique in The Who's catalogue. Drunk, tired, lonely and confused, Pete Townshend wrote his most personal songs to date and then handed them to three of rock's all-time greats to try and make a Who record out of them.

In truth, they didn't really manage - the trademark Who sound is not too much in evidence here and some of the songs sound like something else entirely. For fans who just want the hits, you have the bluesy 'Squeeze Box,' easily the most boring song here, or 'However Much I Booze,' which is just as easily the most interesting and personal to Townshend. With typical clattering drums from Keith Moon thrown in, you have an all-time classic Who song. Also good is 'Dreaming From The Waist,' seemingly constructed from different elements of their previous three albums all rolled into one tune.

The darker recesses of the album hold some truly fascinating work, however. 'Success Story' is a dark, narcotic John Entwistle composition about the less glamorous side of fame. 'They Are All In Love,' a very early homage to what would eventualy be the burgeoning punk scene, is a waltz-time piano ballad that is unique in their catalogue. Perhaps most out of character of all is the Townshend-sung 'Blue, Red, And Gray,' a truly lovely, wistful ukulele tune with only Entwistle's horns for comfort.

With Roger Daltrey largely pushed into the background as the album is dominated by Townshend's personality and problems, the album is not really a Who record in the traditional sense. But take it for what it is and there is a great deal to admire and plenty to love too.


Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
Offered by b68solutions
Price: £5.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary., 13 Sept. 2010
By 2003, Outkast had already produced a handful of hip-hop's greatest albums, with predecessor Stankonia also taking their fame and sales global. But rumours of disarray dogged them, and the follow-up eventually emerged not as one cohesive album but as a bizarre concept - a solo album from each member of the duo, released collectively under the Outkast name.

The solo albums couldn't be more different from each other, possibly explaining the innovation of their collaborative music. The first disc is Big Boi's Speakerboxxx, and it is one of the most extraordinary hip-hop albums of our time. Big Boi throws his tricksy rhymes on top of any music he can get his hands on, but never once does his reach exceed his grasp. Witness the clattering skank of 'Knowing' or the emotional piano arpeggios of 'Flip-Flop Rock.' The album has a big hit single in the form of the comparatively generic 'The Way You Move,' but tellingly, the album peaks early. Opener 'Ghettomusick' is one of the few where both members collaborate - it's a stop-start, psychedelic epic that is simply unlike anything else in the world of hip-hop; truly a staggering piece of work.

Andre 3000's The Love Below is the inferior of the two discs. Boasting the world-conquering 'Hey Ya,' Andre spends too much time indulging his Prince fantasies on songs which stretch on far too long. 'Roses,' another of the handful of collaborations between the duo, is one of their worst ever songs by far. Andre only really succeeds when he staples his ideas to a hip-hop beat or when he completely throws the rulebook out. In the latter category, you have 'Love Hater,' one part squealing Hendrix guitar, one part jazz falsetto - it's utterly insane. In the former, you have songs like the fantastic 'Happy Valentine's Day,' a two-step beat that erupts into bubbling synth midway through. Almost as good is the chilled R'n'B of 'Prototype.'

Both discs are far overpopulated with skits, as any Outkast (or rap in general) album is, and that five-star score isn't unwarranted. But the problem is the opportunity missed. When the two of them reach critical mass on 'Ghettomusick' they create something astonishing - and if you took the best songs from each disc, you'd not only have the greatest hip-hop album ever made, but you'd have one of the top ten albums ever made in any genre.


Up (U.S. Version)
Up (U.S. Version)
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £3.99

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The best that could be expected., 5 Aug. 2010
This review is from: Up (U.S. Version) (Audio CD)
After the departure of founding drummer Bill Berry, many predicted the end for REM. Instead they bounced back as a 'three legged dog' in Michael Stipe's words, releasing the album Up in 1998.

The album has a bad reputation as the start of REM's inevitable career decline, and it has a lot of problems in truth. It's massively overlong at over an hour, there's a distinct lack of memorable tunes, and it's self-consciously experimental to the point of obsession. Too many times an idea is seized upon and simply dragged out well beyond reason.

Of the slow-burning soundscapes, the best is the ebbing, flowing 'Suspicion.' The charming 'Daysleeper' recalls 1991's Out Of Time in its acoustic waltz, a gentle character sketch and really quite lovely. The fast-paced 'Lotus,' opening with Stipe's hilarious 'hey, hey!' is powered along by electric piano and almost rocks. Best of all is the constantly looping 'Hurt,' a seeming stream-of-consciousness which lacks the classic REM trick of taking the song somewhere else with the bridge, instead removing the bridge entirely. It's not at all classic REM, but it's fascinating all the same.

Up is nowhere near a masterpiece and nowhere near a good REM album. But with a band like REM, ill-served by compilations due to their wealth of great songs, the joy in an album like Up is to dig in and find the diamonds in the rough, of which there are a few.


IOWA
IOWA
Price: £5.34

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Their weakest, but still impressive., 30 Jun. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: IOWA (Audio CD)
Slipknot's first album had an immediate impact on the nu-metal community at the turn of the century, but no band can live forever on its debut and the time came for a follow-up. Made with the band's relations at an all-time-low, Iowa was that album, and of their four proper albums it's definitely the weakest.

Iowa expands on the band's self-titled debut in some ways. It adds a slightly poppier edge to some songs and a more bizarre space-rock texture in places, but it lacks the sheer shock and awe of its predecessor as well as the thrill of the new. It's a bruising ride but one that leaves you far less fulfilled.

Iowa is not short of quality moments. Big single 'Left Behind' makes great use of the band's abundant percussion and Resident Evil theme 'My Plague' (though inferior to its single-release remix) is very powerful. The progressive structure of the seven-minute 'Skin Ticket' is another brutal highlight.

Elsewhere the album isn't lacking in inspiration, but is in form. The title track clocks in at a quarter hour, and is a fascinating listen exactly once - after the interest is gone it doesn't really stand up on its own as a song. Notably, and unlike the band's debut, much of Iowa has a tendency to blend together and become anonymous.

Iowa is by no means a bad album but simply can't stand up next to what came before or what followed. Well worth hearing for fans or otherwise, yes, but low on the buyers' list.


Anchorman - The Legend Of Ron Burgundy [DVD]
Anchorman - The Legend Of Ron Burgundy [DVD]
Dvd ~ Will Ferrell
Offered by Shop4World
Price: £1.77

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pure comedy., 8 May 2010
Let me get something out of the way right now - I despise Will Ferrell's work. I don't think he's funny, and I find him annoying. But this film trasncended my dislike for him and made me laugh from front to back.

For some time now, pure comedies have been dead. The last film made in which literally everything was played for laughs, right down to the romance, was Naked Gun 33 1/3. Anchorman is another of those films, just wall-to-wall laughs, ignoring any continuity or reality and just heading straight for the ridiculous.

The ensemble cast is magnificent, focusing in on Will Ferrell and Steve Carell, as well as Fred Willard as the wonderfully exasperated news editor.

This comedy is most definitely not for everyone. Sophomoric and frequently ironically sexist, as well as at times preposterously stupid, the film heavily relies on what kind of a sense of humour you have.

But if you take your brain out and just let the dumb humour wash over you - particularly in the insane and riotous news anchor gang war in the middle of the film - then you will find much to love in the underrated Anchorman.

This is a film for comedy fans, not for critics.


Exile On Main Street [Remastered]
Exile On Main Street [Remastered]
Offered by produXa UK
Price: £7.33

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thrilling mess., 6 May 2010
With the Beatles two years gone and three consecutive classic albums behind them, the Rolling Stones were on top of the world. At the same time, though, they were at a low - heading to France to record their new album as a tax dodge and the band at their druggiest they'd ever been.

What would eventually become Exile On Main Street was recorded in fits and starts with session guys and random members of the group. It is in many ways, Keith Richards' album, right down to how low in the sound mix Mick Jagger's vocals are.

However what emerged is what many people consider to be the Stones' masterpiece. A thrilling double-vinyl mess, these eighteen songs are simply astonishing. It's also somewhat unusual in the pantheon of classic albums in that it doesn't open at its best; second song 'Rip This Joint' is probably the worst song on the album, next to 'Turd On The Run.'

But elsewhere is arguably the Stones' greatest work. Jagger's false Southern blues accent has never sounded so legitimate as on the masterful gospel numbers like 'Tumbling Dice,' 'Shine A Light' and 'Loving Cup,' probably the best song on the album.

There are also hard-driving rockers like the excellent Keith-sung 'Happy,' and a deliciously threatening, dark blues suite of 'Ventilator Blues' and 'I Just Want To See His Face.'

The sound mix is busy, murky, cluttered and dark, but the album as a whole is a masterpiece. An essential part of any music collection, Stones fan or not.


X-Men Origins: Wolverine [DVD] (2009)
X-Men Origins: Wolverine [DVD] (2009)
Dvd ~ Hugh Jackman
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £3.25

7 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Could not have got it more wrong., 22 Mar. 2010
I'm going to get something out the way early in this review just so that the one positive about it is out of the way - Hugh Jackman is scantily clad or naked in it a lot. So ladies, if Jackman is the man for you, then maybe you'll get a little more out of this film than someone looking for a real cinematic experience.

This film simply fails to achieve anything that a film of its nature should achieve. First of all, a film starring Wolverine should rack up a massive bodycount, similar to that Logan achieved in X2. Despite Jackman outright stating that he thought Wolverine was too soft in X3 and wanted him to be tough again, Wolverine is ridiculously sensitive this time around.

Any fan service is destroyed by how pathetic all the cameos are, not least Deadpool. Reimagining comic book characters for the purpose of a film is not necessarily a bad thing, as The Dark Knight illustrated that with some new mythology and originality you can make something truly great. But having Deadpool in the film, given what happens to him, is utterly, utterly pointless. Were he any other character it wouldn't necessarily be a problem, but it simply defeats the object of including him. Add him to the long tally of other characters included for no reason other than fan service which don't even manage to serve their fans, and you have a pretty bad film.

The film also doesn't fit into the X-Men continuity. The first three films may have had their flaws but they maintained between volumes the same feel and characterisation. Wolverine's continuity, from Wolverine's claws, to the adamantium procedure, to his relationship with Sabertooth to the inclusion of characters from other parts of the franchise, isn't just shaky, it's wrong. Better yet, the film's continuity within ITSELF is totally flawed.

But there are plenty of action films with terrible plots and continuity which still provide entertainment because of the stupid-cleverness of the action(see, Broken Arrow, Face/Off). But the special effects here are weak, the action makes no sense and is far too abundant, and so many sequences are ripped off from other films that it beggars belief.

This is a bad, bad, bad film. X-Men fans shouldn't want it. People who want to see Hugh Jackman naked should.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 14, 2011 3:39 PM GMT


Kings & Queens
Kings & Queens
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent second album., 17 Mar. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Kings & Queens (Audio CD)
Jamie T's 2007 debut was a hit and miss affair, with a whole bunch of great tunes and plenty of filler. Its genre-hopping and Jamie T's unique voice and lyricism made it a fascinating and often rewarding listen, but still nonetheless not a complete experience.

More than two years on, the follow-up album finally arrives and is everything a second album should be. Too many modern artists procrastinate following up their debut for so long that when it finally arrives, the band's sound has evolved beyond all recognition, usually more mainstream and commercialised. But while it's true Kings And Queens is poppier than its predecessor (although with songs like 'Sheila' and 'If You've Got The Money,' that was no slouch in the tune department) it retains Jamie T's individuality.

Where Panic Prevention was a collection of songs, Kings And Queens is a real album. Its swampy, late-night feel continues from start to finish, rarely picking up beyond a laid back tempo. Opener '368' sets the otherworldy scene with its off-kilter, pitchshifted chorus and staggering beat. 'Emily's Heart' meanwhile, is a downbeat acoustic ballad continuing where the last album's 'Back In The Game' left off. Best of all is 'Castro Dies,' a perfect storm of hooks, razor-sharp hip-hop, beats and bassline.

So many of the 21st Century's new artists simply give up by album two or forget what made them unique. Jamie T has built on his formula to make a second album far better than his first. His next move will doubtless be fascinating.


Who's Next
Who's Next
Offered by Side Two
Price: £3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Who's better? Nope, Who's best., 11 Mar. 2010
This review is from: Who's Next (Audio CD)
After the staggering success of Tommy, Pete Townshend was left emotionally and creatively drained. He attempted another grand overriding concept in the later fully realised Lifehouse story, but his creative block (and the fact that no-one other than him ever understood it) left The Who with a two year gap after Tommy. Though this was filled by arguably the greatest live album in history, it left fans champing at the bit.

In the end, what finally emerged wasn't another grand concept album; but it was simply The Who's greatest work. With the concept out the window, what was left was a series of outright brilliant songs which remain totally timeless.

Bizarrely, the album opens with a looping synthesiser for what seems like an eternity, followed by a piano playing a simple riff. In 1971 this must have seemed like a preposterous way to begin a Who record. But then come Keith Moon's drums and all is right with the world as you hear 'Baba O'Reilly' for the first time.

Aside from 'Baba O'Reilly,' there are two more epic anthems that are well known from the album. 'Behind Blue Eyes,' a sensitive ballad which may as well be about Townshend's experience following Tommy, was later destroyed by Limp Bizkit. Meanwhile the closing 'Won't Get Fooled Again' is one of the most perfect songs ever written. It boasts Roger Daltrey's greatest vocals, Keith Moon's greatest drums and probably Townshend's greatest guitar playing.

Them aside, there is simply not a bad song on this album. The band are at the top of their game and every song is a true anthem. Even John Entwistle's sole contribution, the utterly hilarious 'My Wife,' has a sense of musical power and grandeur to it. The other standout is 'Bargain,' boasting an impressive vocal from Daltrey, and the countrified 'Love Ain't For Keeping.'

This is quite simply one of the finest albums ever recorded. It's aged well, and it's The Who's best, so be you a Who fan or not you simply have to hear it.


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