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Use Your Illusion II
Use Your Illusion II
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £6.05

4 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bloated musical buffoonery, 24 Jun. 2004
This review is from: Use Your Illusion II (Audio CD)
So here we have part two of Axl Rose's egotistical creation. And like its sister album, it has some fine moments - most notably You Could Be Mine, a track so fast and brilliant it could have slotted into their classic Appetite For Destruction, no bother. But this track is unrepresentative of the album as a whole, which sees the band straying dangerously into the kind of musical buffoonery that could only be blamed on too much cocaine.
It contains not one, two, but four genuine epics, and at least seven tracks over five minutes. Some work, some don't. Estranged, for example, is a brilliant sweeping ballad that shifts gracefully between its four distinct musical parts. Locomotive is a lengthy experiment with tempo and time signature that doesn't quite come off. However, So Fine is an excellent bluesy number that makes similar tempo changes look easy. Then there's the track Civil War, which has its heart in the right place but contains a truly dreadful lyric, rhyming the words "civil war" with "human grocery store." Unforgivable.
The GNR legend is so monumental and much of their music so good that I would never urge anyone not to buy one of their albums. However, as Use Your Illusion II and its sister album show, you have to be prepared to take the rough with the smooth.

Use Your Illusion I
Use Your Illusion I
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £5.69

6 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An ill-concieved concept, 24 Jun. 2004
This review is from: Use Your Illusion I (Audio CD)
You can just picture the scene at the record company as Axl explains his idea: "What we're gonna do is make two double albums and release them both at the same time." There follows a ripple of approving murmurs, such as: "Hey man, that's crazy enough to work!" But surely there must have been a voice of reason somewhere that said: "Now hang on a minute..." Well, clearly not.
The thing is, many of the tracks on Use Your Illusion I are pretty darn good. Indeed, a few of them - Don't Cry, November Rain, Don't Damn Me - are first rate. But releasing a volume of such diverse material as this over two double albums just didn't work. Full stop. Which is a shame because there was a really good follow-up to Appetite For Destruction in there somewhere, not to mention enough material left over for, say, an offbeat bluesy album - e.g. Dust N Bones, You Ain't The First.
But alas, twas not to be, and whilst there is much to enjoy on this album, it is ultimately far too patchy to be taken seriously. Still, secretly you have to admire their cheek.

More Hot Rocks (Big Hits & Fazed Cookies)
More Hot Rocks (Big Hits & Fazed Cookies)
Price: £65.05

16 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Give it a swerve, 24 Jun. 2004
So here we have Hot Rocks Part Two, or so the title would suggest. It certainly starts out in the same vein as its predecessor, building as it does from the Stones' early R&B repertoire - Not Fade Away, It's All Over Now - through their commercial pop phase - Lady Jane, Have You Seen Your Mother Baby? After this, we are treated to an interesting portion of the Stones psychedelic era, most notably the brilliant We Love You and Child Of The Moon. Then we're into the classic stuff, with the sublime country-blues of No Expectations and Let It Bleed.
Then, just as you think this collection is about to get really good, it's back to the early days and a load of rare and previously unreleased rubbish. I mean, Fortune Teller? Poison Ivy? Bye Bye Johnny? What the Hell is that all about? It's as if they got to Let It Bleed and ran out of good material, which I have since found out not to be the case. I mean where is Stray Cat Blues, or Love In Vain? Nowhere to be seen, that's where, and that is why you should not buy this CD. Instead, go straight for the studio albums Let It Bleed, Beggars Banquet, Exile On Main Street and Sticky Fingers, in that order. Or, if you prefer the Stones' early work, target The Singles Collection. Here, you get all of the good stuff from this collection, most of the good stuff from Hot Rocks, and none of the rubbish you'll find here.

Singles Collection: The London Years
Singles Collection: The London Years
Offered by Revival Books Ltd
Price: £129.89

91 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Expensive? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely., 24 Jun. 2004
With so many Rolling Stones compilations now on the market, it must be difficult to know where to start. Well, it all depends on what you are after. Allow me to illustrate. If you want a concise package of their best material from their best era, then go for Hot Rocks. If you're after an overview of their entire career, then it's Forty Licks all the way. However, if you want a comprehensive anthology of the Stones' evolution from blues wannabes to world superstars, then they don't come much better than this.
Strange as it seems in this day and age, the Stones were essentially a singles band up until around 1968. In those days, a-sides were how a band was defined. But the b-sides were important as well, and people used to actually listen to them, unlike now. Here, we get all of their early singles - a-sides and b-sides - gathered together back to back onto 3 discs. So, whilst we get all the usual suspects, like Not Fade Away, Satisfaction and Get Off My Cloud, we are also treated to such early gems as Little By Little, Off The Hook and The Spider And The Fly. Along with Paint It Black and Mother's Little Helper, we also get Long Long While and We Love You. Absolutely Superb!
The only place where this collection falters is, wait for it, around 1968, when the Stones - indeed the world - became less interested in singles and more into albums. Hence the album track Gimme Shelter does not qualify for a place here, whereas b-sides Surprise Surprise and Try A Little Harder do. Hmm, shame. Still, the compilers have used the opportunity to gather up some half decent loose material from that time, such as Jiving Sister Fanny and Mick Jagger's Memo From Turner, so bravo for doing that! All of which makes this an indispensable collection - five stars!

Hot Rocks 1964-1971
Hot Rocks 1964-1971

37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uncompromising rock n roll genius, 24 Jun. 2004
This review is from: Hot Rocks 1964-1971 (Audio CD)
The Rolling Stones spent much of the sixties in the shadow of the Beatles and, with regards to their respective albums, perhaps deservedly so. However, as this 2-disc retrospective proves, they were every bit as important as their clean-cut contemporaries.
To its credit, Hot Rocks is weighted very much in favour of their late sixties output, which was undoubtedly their best work. Of the early sixties singles, the inclusion of the likes of Time Is On My Side and Heart Of Stone seems a little strange, at the expense of more historically important cuts such as Not Fade Away or It's All Over Now. However, these tracks do lend to the overall mood of the album, so it's a small gripe.
From the opening riff of Satisfaction, we are taken on a breathtaking ride through the sixties according to the World's Greatest Rock N Roll Band. Paint It Black, Honky Tonk Women, Brown Sugar. Every track is pure gold. Sympathy For The Devil, Gimme Shelter, the huge, orchestral You Can't Always Get What You Want, and finally, the lovely country ballad, Wild Horses.
Quite simply put, this CD is brilliant, and I cannot praise it highly enough. It is easily the finest collection of popular rock songs ever gathered together onto one volume, and that includes the Beatles equivalent Red and Blue albums. The real question you are now facing, is whether you should buy it now or five minutes ago. So go on, what are you waiting for?

Goats Head Soup
Goats Head Soup
Price: £20.59

28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Misjudged and misunderstood, 17 Jun. 2004
This review is from: Goats Head Soup (Audio CD)
Coming, as it did, on the back of Exile On Main Street, arguably the Rolling Stones masterpiece, Goats Head Soup never really stood a chance. However, those that dismiss it are missing the point. To their credit, the Stones didn't try to recreate the dirty sound of Exile, but took a new approach entirely - a much more pensive, melancholic approach, showcased to full effect on the likes of Angie, 100 years ago, Coming Down Again, and the epic, sweeping ballad Winter.
If it's rockers you're after, you may feel a little short-changed here. Indeed, the only track that rocks convincingly is Heartbreaker, and even that's unconventional. However, the one-two punch of Silver Train and Hide Your Love represent the bluesier end of the Stones spectrum, and they do it well. In fact, the only tracks that aren't convincing are opener, Dancing With Mr D, and closer, Star Star. The latter is a very tame Chuck Berry wannabe, the lyrics of which seem rather contrived, as if intended to stir controversy, and as such come off looking merely foolish.
These two tracks ensure that Goats Head Soup is not a classic album. But to be fair, it's not far off. It's only real crime was that it came after a genuine classic against which it will always be judged. But judged unfairly. You'd do well to remember that.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 24, 2010 11:10 AM GMT

Between the Buttons [UK Version]
Between the Buttons [UK Version]
Offered by dutchtoni
Price: £31.74

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting, if patchy, time-capsule, 17 Jun. 2004
Possibly the most overlooked of the Stones' sixties output, the UK version of Between The Buttons contained no hit singles and hence it has become something of an enigma. On first listen it sounds similar to Aftermath, but even worse. Many of the tracks are instantly forgettable, while a couple of them - Yesterdays Papers, My Obsession - don't even sound musically legal!
On closer inspection however, some strong tracks start to emerge. In particular, we have the sublime, Dylan-esque Who's Been Sleeping Here? Then there's the hectic, rocking and rolling of Miss Amanda Jones, and the playful nod to the Kinks that is Cool, Calm, Collected. The two tracks exclusive to the UK version are Back Street Girl, a pleasing number typical of their early ballads, and Please Go Home, a shimmering descendant of the earlier Not Fade Away.
You can call this album patchy, even insignificant, and I'm not going to argue with you. However, it's still home to the odd gem, so please don't write it off - please don't do that!

Their Satanic Majesties Request
Their Satanic Majesties Request
Offered by srotceh66
Price: £44.99

37 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't believe the bad press, 17 Jun. 2004
Dismissed by many as a barefaced Sgt. Peppers rip-off, this album divides audiences and critics alike. It's rather like Marmite in that you either love it or you hate it. Me, I'm somewhere in the middle! While Their Satanic Majesties Request pales alongside the Stones' next album, Beggars Banquet, that doesn't mean to say it's bad. Indeed, in many ways it was the first real album they produced.
In keeping with the time, this record is a journey rather than a mere collection of songs. And the songs are not half bad, either. Sing This All Together, 2000 Man, She's a Rainbow and 2000 Light Years From Home are perfect slices of gothic psychedelia that sound nothing like anything The Beatles were doing at the time. The lengthy space-jam Sing This All Together (See What Happens) is like the more accomplished spiritual cousin of Aftermath's Goin' Home, the difference being that this track actually works. Then there is the closer, On With The Show, an hilarious piece of burlesque showmanship from Mick and the band.
Given the troubles the Stones were going through at the time - Mick and Keith's respective jail sentences, the deterioration of Brian Jones - it is a miracle this album was made at all. Given that it is such an interesting and unique piece in the Stones' puzzle, it should be celebrated for what it is, not condemned for what it isn't.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 27, 2010 11:59 PM GMT

Aftermath [UK Version]
Aftermath [UK Version]
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £39.97

13 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Stones according to Andrew Oldham, 17 Jun. 2004
This review is from: Aftermath [UK Version] (Audio CD)
Unlike their contemporaries, The Beatles, much of the Rolling Stones' early work was, let's face it. It wasn't really their fault. The Beatles had been writing and performing together for years before they shot to fame, whereas thanks to the marketing flair of their first manager, Andrew Oldham, the Stones were famous before they had written a song. It was also Oldham who first hustled Mick and Keith into writing their own material, and for this we should be eternally grateful. However it was pop, not blues, he wanted, and for a time he managed to steer the band away from its roots.
This was a significant album in that it was the first one containing no covers. For this very reason, it comes off sounding worse than their earlier albums. So after the undeniable classics Mother's Little Helper, Lady Jane and Under My Thumb, we're into the embarrassing stuff. Stupid Girl, Doncha Bother Me, Flight 505. It's the sound of two inexperienced songwriters clutching at straws. The lengthy jam tagged onto the end of Goin' Home is the sound of the same two songwriters trying desperately to keep up with The Beatles in the experimental stakes.
It is fair to say that the Stones cut their teeth on this album, and without it we may never have had Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, et al. But they only really came into their own when they stopped letting Andrew Oldham shoehorn them into a style that never suited them and rediscovered where they came from.

Sultans of Swing: The Very Best of Dire Straits
Sultans of Swing: The Very Best of Dire Straits
Price: £13.79

19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't be conned into buying it, 16 Jun. 2004
With most bands' back catalogues now available on CD, record companies are taking to reshuffling and repackaging the original Best Of compilations and flogging them again at full price to a completely new audience, or on the strength of a couple of new live tracks. Don't buy into it. The best work of the brilliant band that is Dire Straits has been on the market for years under the title Money For Nothing. And what's more, it's available for a mere half the price of this imposter.
This is not to say that the songs on here are not good - they are. In fact, many of them are the same. It is where the tracks differ that this issue comes off second best. In an attempt to bring it up to date, there are three songs from the forgettable On Every Street album. Which is fine, but to pave the way for these, they have ignored indispensable earlier tracks such as Telegraph Road. And then there are the three live tracks. Again, it's fine to include Your Latest Trick and Mark Knopfler's Local Hero/Wild Theme, but for God's sake have the decency to give us the original studio versions - the versions that are actually good!
My advice to anyone looking for an introduction to Dire Straits is simple. Avoid this one. Instead seek out the compilation album entitled Money For Nothing. Once you've bought and enjoyed it thoroughly, which I can assure you you will, target the six studio albums, starting with Brothers In Arms.

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