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dynamitekid156 "dynamitekid156" (Notts)
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Green
Green
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £4.76

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A mis-step, but not without merit., 8 Feb 2010
This review is from: Green (Audio CD)
With 1987's Document album taking them into arenas rather than high school gyms, REM left IRS records and signed a major label deal with Warners, after resisting the courtship of major labels since before their debut album.

But the following year's Green seems to be exactly the kind of record they were afraid to make. As if painfully aware that they weren't on an indie label any more, REM crafted an oddball stadium-pop sound and made their most fanatically politicised record to date.

At times, this politicised nature and the gleaming production go well together. 'Pop Song '89' is a fabulously ironic, anti-pop opener with a riff that at first annoys, and then delights. 'World Leader Pretend' is a vintage REM song, a mid-tempo manifesto and their first song with printed lyrics. 'Turn You Inside Out' echoes 'Finest Worksong' but soon becomes something entirely of its own as it progresses. And 'Orange Crush,' despite sounding like REM doing an impression of U2, is a perfectly serviceable stadium rock song.

But elsewhere the album is stuffed full of failed experiments like the untitled closing track or simply underwhelming material like 'I Remember California'. On 'Stand', meanwhile, ironic intent or not, the band are just embarassingly bad.

Green was REM's first genuine transitional album, and they had one more left in them before they made what was truly their masterpiece. But Green is still worth buying for its shining moments.


Document
Document
Offered by Giant Entertainment
Price: £3.32

5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece, 24 Jan 2010
This review is from: Document (Audio CD)
REM were already critically acclaimed and fairly successful by the time they came to record fifth album Document. They were also already growing tired of the poor distribution by label IRS Records and the album that followed showed a group straining at the edges of their modest commercial success.

The songs on Document are timeless classics laden with universal appeal, while still carrying the REM personality and hallmarks that made them alt-rock's greatest band.

The two obvious standout songs are its huge singles, 'The One I Love' and 'It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)'. Both of them are so well-written about that if you haven't heard them they're all the reason you need to buy this album by themselves.

Not only are they not the only reasons to buy the album, they're not even the BEST reasons to buy the album. The album tracks are if anything even better than their famous brothers.

Opener 'Finest Worksong' is staggering, a swirling beast that rocks harder than REM ever had to that point. Stipe's oblique political viewpoints are more obvious than ever on the likes of the searing 'Exhuming McCarthy.' 'Disturbance At The Heron House' soars on a nagging, hooky riff. And while virtually everything on the album is accessible to an extent, 'Fireplace' is still beguilingly strange.

The only song remotely close to being out of place is 'Odfellows Local 151', which feels like an unfinished experiment and belongs on a different album. That aside the album is virtually flawless and a contender for REM's best ever. The album is essential to your collection and if you're new to REM, a great place to start.


Accelerate [Int'L Jewelcase]
Accelerate [Int'L Jewelcase]
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.70

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Their strongest album since Bill quit., 18 Jan 2010
Ever since drummer Bill Berry quit and even before then, R.E.M. have been occasionally inspired but for the most part, directionless. Much of their musical exploration has led to dead ends, reaching its nadir with the critical drubbing handed out to 2004's Around The Sun.

Accelerate, their first album since then, is heralded as having a 'back to basics' approach; this is often the sign of an artist with nothing left to do or say to remain relevant, but here R.E.M. have stuck gold. Accelerate is easily the strongest album they've made since 1991.

Accelerate is a brief, punchy, metallic masterpiece of a record. Peter Buck's jangling guitar is back with a vengeance, rocking harder than ever. Michael Stipe's voice is more mature and gravelly than its 1980s prime, but he is still back on form. And Mike Mills' melodic basslines are sounding better than they have in some time.

There are simply no bad songs on Accelerate. The cryptic lyrics of old have returned, as dictated by song titles like 'Man-Sized Wreath'. But the album as a whole is an adrenaline rush. The visceral riff of opener 'Living Well Is The Best Revenge' sets the scene perfectly, burning through other rockers like the title track and 'Supernatural Superserious.'

But the album isn't a one-note piece. The intriguing 'Hollow Man' switches between piano balladry and a soaring chorus without missing a step, while the slower, more ballad-like songs on the album are simply beautiful, like the countrified 'Sing For The Submarine'.

Accelerate isn't big, it isn't clever, it's just R.E.M. back to their best. What their next move will be will be undoubtedly fascinating.


GP
GP

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Country perfection., 8 Jan 2010
This review is from: GP (Audio CD)
The late great Gram Parsons was well known for seizing control of whatever bands he happened to drift into, be it the Byrds or the Flying Burrito Brothers, so those that knew him - and his few fans - will have been unsurprised at his eventual solo career. Finding a worthwhile collaborator in Emmylou Harris, his two solo albums are virtually flawless.

GP, his solo debut, is simply a perfect country album. Of its eleven tracks there isn't a bad one. The production is Nashville-rich yet unfussy, the lyrics are vintage country without being cliched, and Parsons and Harris swoon and sigh together wonderfully.

Opener 'Still Feeling Blue' sets the scene, with its scraping fiddle and driving rhythm. 'Streets Of Baltimore,' meanwhile, may be as close to the perfect country song on the perfect country album as you can get.

Somewhat amusingly, the debt that Ryan Adams owes to this album is blatantly obvious, particularly in Parsons' vocal delivery, which is passionate and emotional.

This album may sound fairly trite now, but at the time it was innovative and helped invent country-rock and alt-country. What's more, you can't improve on the best really, and as such if you're starting alt-country you needn't go for Wilco, Ryan Adams or even Uncle Tupelo - this album is where it's at.


Journal for Plague Lovers
Journal for Plague Lovers
Offered by b68solutions
Price: £4.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It may be a rehash, but it's very well done., 26 Oct 2009
Before he went missing, fourth Manic Richey Edwards gave Nicky Wire a folder full of half-written and completed lyrics and poems. Some of it would make up what became Everything Must Go but most of it was put aside. With Richey recently declared dead by his family, it would appear that Wire finally felt it was time to exorcise the demons and use those lyrics; for the first time the lyrics fo the entire album are written just by Edwards (with some minor tweaking by Wire).

What Journal For Plague Lovers really amounts to is The Holy Bible Part II. To that extent there's not a great deal of originality, so hardcore fans may be disappointed by what kind of amounts to a rehash. But it's a rehash that's so flawlessly executed that you can't help but admire it.

The songs here are the strongest the Manics have had in a decade, continuing the renaissance they've been experiencing since 2007's Send Away The Tigers. The band sounds revitalised, with harder, sharper material, with particularly James Dean Bradfield's vocals sounding better than ever.

Where the album differs from The Holy Bible is its atmosphere, which is one of release and almost of joy at finally having made this album. 'Jackie Collins Existential Question Time' has a lyric as blackly hilarious and brilliant as its title, set to melodic punk that recalls a calmer 'Judge Yr'self.' The stop-start dynamics of 'Me And Stephen Hawking' are captivating and the title track is one of the band's best songs ever.

All in all, while not an album bursting with new ideas, it doesn't need to be - the strength of the songs and the power of the band's performances make it one of the albums of the year.


George Carlin - It's Bad For Ya [DVD] [2008]
George Carlin - It's Bad For Ya [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ George Carlin
Price: £6.50

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He died at a peak., 20 Oct 2009
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Legendary comedian George Carlin sadly died last year, but the one consolation we have is that he kept knocking out stand-up specials for pretty much his entire life. The 14th, and as it turned out last, special was It's Bad For Ya, with Carlin at the ripe old age of 70. And boy, is it a good one.

Carlin is one of the funniest old men you'll ever see, and his pitch-black humour meshes perfectly with old age. The first 20 minutes of this DVD especially, are among the best material he's ever had. His body, hairline and voice all ravaged by age, it just adds an extra layer of hilarity to his vitriolic delivery. Death, phone calls, kids, and just being old are all covered in the course of these 69 minutes (and the irony of that running time will be apparent to you after you watch the DVD).

Carlin has a lot of different DVDs and most of them are great, some of them less so - but Carlin went out close to the very top of his game and this DVD is as worthwhile a purchase as his infamous Seven Words You Can't Say On TV.


When Harry Met Sally [DVD] [1989]
When Harry Met Sally [DVD] [1989]
Dvd ~ Billy Crystal
Price: £3.00

5.0 out of 5 stars The romantic comedy to end all romantic comedies., 7 May 2009
Romantic comedies are now limp, inevitable, soppy nonsense which honeymoon couples watch so they snuggle up in bed and Eskimo kiss each other into oblivion. It makes it easy to forget that things weren't always that way. When Harry Met Sally, directed by Rob Reiner (of Spinal Tap fame, if you needed any convincing that this film would be smart), is the rom-com to end all rom-coms. After seeing this, you will never need to see another.

The film is a perfect balance. Its storyline unfolds like real life without seeming thin or dissatisfying, and the viewer never loses interest. Both Billy Crystal as Harry and Meg Ryan as Sally are perfect; in 1989, the former was still funny, the latter was still charming, and both of them were still young. The chemistry between them is flawless.

But this would be nothing without the dialogue. The film's razor-sharp, conversational dialogue is the true selling point. Witty, realistic and above all hilarious, it's what makes the film the classic it is. Making legitimate observations about relationships, combined with some laugh-out-loud moments (the white-man overbite, for example), the film draws you in, makes you laugh and then, at the risk of sounding cliched, makes you think.

This film is the be-all and end-all of rom-coms, and probably of Meg Ryan films too. Watch it, single or married, straight or gay.


Superman: Doomsday [DVD]
Superman: Doomsday [DVD]
Dvd ~ Lauren Montgomery
Price: £7.28

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing., 7 May 2009
This review is from: Superman: Doomsday [DVD] (DVD)
The DC Animated Universe has produced a fantastic amount of quality since the early nineties, hundreds of episodes of various different shows - big arcs, one-shots, animated features. For some unfathomable reason, a series of straight-to-DVD features based on DC characters are planned; none of which are in the DCAU. This means that for many of us, the people who truly ARE those characters - Tim Daly or George Newbern as Superman; Kevin Conroy as Batman; Michael Rosenbaum as The Flash; Mark Hamill as The Joker - are absent here and so no-one could truly measure up.

Superman: Doomsday is a film that gets almost everything wrong, right down to the title. However, let's start with what they get right. Firstly, they don't pull any punches. If there's one thing the DCAU couldn't do, it was show a necessary level violence at certain key times. This film being the rating that it is means that language and violence are all amped up. Superman at one point vomits blood from a punch to the gut, characters swear naturally and realistically and Doomsday graphically kills a lot of people onscreen (and at one point what can only be considered as genocide takes place). Furthermore, I could never fault the voice talents of John DiMaggio as a totally revised Toyman, even if I prefer the DCAU version, nor can I fault whoever it is that plays Lex Luthor whose name escapes me at this point. Indeed, the Luthor character who simultaneously admires and despises Superman, who beats him up with kryptonite gloves for kicks, is probably the best part of the film.

However, what the film gets wrong is substantial. The Death Of Superman storyline in comics was a powerful, influential one that shook the foundations of the DC universe. This film subtracts a great deal of what made it interesting - the multiple pretenders to Superman's throne like Eradicator and Steel, for example - to compress it into this film. Occasional plotholes are covered with little thought - Lois Lane apparently infiltrated Lexcorp, one of the most advanced companies on Earth, with little to no effort, explaining it away as being 'what I do.'

But even without this artistic freedom, Bruce Timm's series of programs from the nineties and noughties made more complex, smarter storylines in the space of often a single 22-minute episode, and this film simply doesn't measure up.


Blur
Blur
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.74

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary., 17 April 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Blur (Audio CD)
The Britpop bubble was about to burst by 1997. Blur's previous album, The Great Escape, was a slightly watered-down but still impressive rehash of their previous two; the bona-fide classics Modern Life Is Rubbish and Parklife (the latter their best album in this writer's opinion). Times were changing and it was time for a change of direction for all the Britpop bands.

With Damon Albarn finally listening to Graham Coxon's advice for once, the album is an experimental, eclectic, fascinating torrent of inspiration. Despite lasting all of 57 minutes, the album seems to breeze by in an instant as the band hops from one style to another.

Coxon's love of hardcore punk comes through on the band's big hit, 'Song 2.' His experimentation on the guitar crackles through 'Movin' On' and 'Country Sad Ballad Man,' while he is even allowed a lead vocal on the quite lovely 'You're So Great.' Albarn, meanwhile, is equally on top of his game, writing the sarcastic Britpop 'classic' 'Look Inside America' with ease as well the wonderfully sinister 'Death Of A Party,' addressing the incoming Britpop comedown.

Whilst not their weirdest work, and not quite their best, Blur's self-titled album is an extraordinary piece of work that any self-respecting music fan should investigate.

Unless you prefer Oasis.


Notorious
Notorious
Price: £8.25

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than it has any right to be., 3 April 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Notorious (Audio CD)
Ah, the movie soundtrack. Inevitably a cash-in but just occasionally magnificent, they are far from a noble genre. So you wouldn't expect the official soundtrack to a mediocre film (about possibly the greatest ever rapper)to be worth more than a glance. You'd be wrong.

One of the big problems with being a completist when you're a fan of a rapper is that so many of them feature on other people's records, release standalone 12" singles and put out mixtapes that if you're a latecomer, sometimes these are impossible to find.

And it's for this reason that far from just being a movie soundtrack, Notorious is a worthy addition to your CD collection. As well as housing a good number of Biggie's greatest songs, it also features a number of rarer recordings. The three demos closing out the compilation are listenable, but not essential (although they show how fully formed Biggie's skill was so early on). However, the inclusion of the magnificent early single 'Party and Bulls**t', as well as the Stay With Me remix of 'One More Chance,' mean this compilation is for more than just the completists and fans for the movie.


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