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Burjiz (Schaffhausen, Switzerland)

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Me Against the Music
Me Against the Music
Offered by Record Exchange (USA)
Price: £9.49

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Silly and Boring, 12 Jun. 2004
This review is from: Me Against the Music (Audio CD)
On paper, the concept is pure genius: Madonna, pop tart of the 1980s, teaming up with Britney Spears, pop tart of the new millennium. The collaboration could have been as titillating as the lesploitation kiss they shared at the 2003 VMAs. Instead, we get a generic dance single that's silly, boring, and goes limp faster than Britney's marriage. "Me Against the Music" stiffed on the charts upon release, and you can credit that to the forced come-ons and lack of chemistry between the two singers. In fact, the duet sounds so impersonal, Madonna could have very well recorded her vocals on an Mp3 file before FedExing them to Spears. "Hey Britney," goes Madonna, "you say you wanna lose control?" Well, if both singers lost a little "control" and got a tighter groove, "Me Against the Music" would be the killer dance tune it could have--and SHOULD have--been.


Here I Am...
Here I Am...
Price: £10.87

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Together, 12 Jun. 2004
This review is from: Here I Am... (Audio CD)
Ronald Isley and Burt Bacharach--on the SAME record. Now, who'da thunk it? Few people would. But the idea does make perfect sense. Isley's voice bears a simple elegance versatile enough for killer ballads or street-smart jams written by R.Kelly. But when you pair him with the brilliant Bacharach on "Here I Am," you're going to wonder why these two haven't collaborated decades ago. On this CD, the veteran soul staple sheds out of his "Mr. Biggs" alter ego and gives interesting reworkings of classics written by Bacharach. This isn't a note-for-note replica of songs we've heard time and again; "Here I Am" is both a stellar covers album and a winning collaborative effort. Isley cruises through "Anyone Who Had a Heart" with as much pained conviction as the original by Dionne Warwick, while he gives "A House Without a Home" and "Alfie" his own personality and flavor. Productionwise, the album is near-flawless with tasteful orchestral arrangements and string touches that aren't overdone. But not everything here is a cover. Two new tracks surface: "Love's Still the Answer" and "Count On Me" (both co-penned by Tonio K.), and neither would sound out of place in 1967. Those who want to bear witness to the power of great songwriting and soulful singing should pick this disc up. As this record shows, Isley and Bacharach belong together like cream cheese on a bagel.


This Is The Remix [Us Import]
This Is The Remix [Us Import]
Offered by Amazin Deals!
Price: £7.12

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jessica Simpson - Remixed, 12 Jun. 2004
I don't consider myself a fan, or even a casual admirer, of Jessica Simpson. While she's clearly a decent singer with some potential, her music, often written by outsiders, has a wonder-bread blandness that has kept me from buying any of her studio albums. Her remixes, on the other hand, are a different story, as evidenced on this 7 track maxi single. "This is the Remix" is a collection of mostly hard-to-find tracks that are either unavailable commercially or appear only on vinyl. Some complain that it has only 7 tracks, but so what? Quantity isn't always quality. What DOES appear is, for the most part, pretty good. But I do not care for the Jermaine Dupri hip hop remix of "Irresistible" with Lil Bow Wow. It strikes me as both juvenile and predictable. Hex Hector's 8-plus-minute disco remix, however, works way better and is the surely one of the best tracks here. Soul Solution speed up the tempo of the ballad "I Wanna Love You Forever" and turn it into a decent club jam, and Chris "The Greek" & Guido's reworking of "A Little Bit" also stands out. When I first heard the original version of "I Think I'm In Love," I cringed at the sample of John Cougar's "Jack and Diane." It's got to be one of the worst songs I've heard in recent years. But DJ Peter Rauhofer comes to save the say with his club remix that literally transforms it from a dull and irritating single to a bonafide club anthem. There are obviously better remix albums out there, but I did find Jessica Simpson's "This is the Remix" a pleasant surprise. It hasn't converted me into a fan, but mainstream dance music lovers should give this a listen.


St Germain Des Pres Cafe 4
St Germain Des Pres Cafe 4
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £27.79

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Back for a Fourth Cup, 12 Jun. 2004
Brought to you by the same people who are responsible for the "Paris Lounge" and "Hotel Costes" compilations, along comes the fourth entry in the "Saint Germain Des Pres Cafe." Now, it's been said before, but it obviously bears repeating: this has nothing to do with the Saint Germain that released the "Tourist" album. This is a mix of French-inspired jazz with various touches of downtempo electronica and bossa nova. I was actually pretty surprised that they released a fourth album and I didn't even know it was out until I stumbled upon it at a local record shop I frequent. Those who already own the prior three collections will have no reason to be disappointed with this one. The 19 tracks here offer a rich sampling of cafe lounge that's as tasty and as lively as a double espresso. I really liked Koop's breezy "Fuoco Fauto" as well as Metropolitain Jazz Affair's "Yunowhathislifeez" and the percussion-heavy "Equal" by Lunar Chipmunk featuring Oscar. Other cuts of note are "Nattergalen" by Bobby Hughes Combination and "Swoundosophy" by Infracom, both of which are excellent. The only dud is "Suddenly" by Matthew Herbert, which doesn't fit into the CD's jazzy theme and sticks out like a sore thumb. This is otherwise a must-buy for those who already have the prior three volumes and want to add a new twist to their downtempo collection. Grade: B+.


Ultra Dance 03
Ultra Dance 03
Price: £15.24

2.0 out of 5 stars Ultra Bore, 12 Jun. 2004
This review is from: Ultra Dance 03 (Audio CD)
The magic seems to be fading at the house of Ultra. Each of their trance compilations is weaker than the one that preceded it, and the latest of the bunch is not only weak, but also disappointing given that it was mixed by Johnny Vicious. The first disc runs into problems for the simple fact that very little of it is actually trance. I had to do a double-take and re-read the title to make sure I wasn't listening to an "Ultra DANCE" compilation. Oh sure, there are some interesting moments such as the techno reworking of Kelis' radio hit "Milkshake" as well as the seductive "Smooth" by Iio. But the disc seems to lack cohesion, interesting grooves, and not much in the way of trance, which is the whole reason why anybody would bother with this collection in the first place. The second disc is somewhat of an improvement and actually does have trance, therefore living up to its name. I was never a big fan of Paul Van Dyk, but he does serve up an interesting number in "Time of Our Lives," and Armin van Buuren's "Burned With Desire" is just as good as the previous hit "Just Another Day." But after Ashiva's "Sunrise," it's a patchy ride through generic trance that's decent but offers little in the way of new kicks. "Ultra Trance 03" ain't a train wreck, but it comes close. There are better dance compilations both at Ultra and at other labels.


The Work Of Director Chris Cunningham [DVD]
The Work Of Director Chris Cunningham [DVD]
Dvd ~ Carl Antolin
Offered by GX-ENTERTAINMENT UK
Price: £29.99

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Collection from a Talented Video Director, 12 Jun. 2004
Video directors are a dime a dozen, and only few are able to distinguish themselves with any trace of personality. But Chris Cunningham is among the most talented and the most distinguished. His images are harsh, disturbing, yet elegant, and they wonderfully compliment the music these videos promote. This DVD is a collection of not only his videos, but it also has a collection of short films, commercials, and other clips. The picture quality is amazingly sharp, and the music is presented in a booming 2-channel stereo soundtrack. The highlights? Apex Twin's spooky "Come to Daddy" (banned on MTV) and the hilarious "Windowlicker" show Cunningham at the top of his game (the bleeped version of the latter video is also on this DVD, but make no mistake: my favorite is the original, cuss words and all). Drum-and-bass kings Squarepusher's "Come on My Selector" is an interesting clip set inside a Japanese psychiatric ward, and Leftfield's "Afrika Shok," which features a man who slowly dismembers himself, is quite bothersome yet well made. But one of my very favorite clips is the promo for the PlayStation video game "Mental Wealth." In this weird commercial, Cunningham features a Scottish girl whose face is eerily distorted to resemble a cross between Bjork and a space alien. It's bizarre and brilliant at the same time. Another standout is the clip "Flex" which is simply wonderful. Many complain that this isn't the full version, but I didn't care. All said, this is a hugely entertaining DVD collection for those who aren't fainthearted and have a taste for the alternative. You'll be shocked, amazed, and even disturbed, but one thing is for sure: you won't be bored.


Join The Dots: B-Sides and Rarities
Join The Dots: B-Sides and Rarities
Price: £28.29

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Finally!, 12 Jun. 2004
If you were a diehard fan of the Cure and wanted to listen to their b-sides and rare tracks, you had mainly two options: listen to the original vinyl/CD single or grab the "Standing on a Beach" cassette, which had a bonus selection of early b-side cuts. "Join the Dots" now makes things easier for the fan who's got to own every hard-to-find release by the Cure. On 4 CDs, the band covers their 23-year discography of rarities, and all the tracks are digitally remastered under the supervision of Robert Smith. The first disc is a virtual trip down memory lane and it's easily the best, featuring songs that trace back to the Cure's punk roots. Notable gems are "I'm Cold," "Another Journey by Train," the orchestral "A Few Hours After This," and "Throw Your Foot." The second disc covers 1987-92, and by this point, the band found a mainstream audience in America. Its twin peaks are the poppy "2 Late" and the dark and atmospheric "Fear of Ghosts," which stands as good a track as anything off their 1989 album "Disintegration." Another highlight is a respectable cover of the Doors' "Hello, I Love You," and three versions of this song are found. Disc 3 covers 1992-1996, with some good tracks ("Play" and "This Twilight Garden") and some notable misfires, such as a cover of Hendrix's "Purple Haze" and a not-bad-but-pointless cover of Bowie's "Young Americans." The fourth disc, which covers 1996-01 finds the group experimenting with electronica with varying degrees of success. It's not a bad disc, and much of the stuff on here is good, but it's my least favorite among the four. Tracks that make it worth the trip are the Palmer remix of "This is a Lie," the Oakenford remix of the "Bloodflowers" cut "Out of this World," an acoustic version of "Signal to Noise," and the beautiful "More Than This" (which, by the way, is NOT a cover of the Roxy Music classic). All in all, "Join the Dots" is a no-questions-asked must buy for Cure diehards like myself, but first-timers who are green to the band should start with their studio albums first. For those who have been longing to get these tracks on CD, this is more than a box set. It's also an answered prayer.


Stiff Upper Lip
Stiff Upper Lip
Offered by dutchtoni
Price: £47.44

4.0 out of 5 stars Still "Stiff" After All These Years, 12 Jun. 2004
This review is from: Stiff Upper Lip (Audio CD)
"You can't stop rock and roll," barks Brian Johnson on track number 7 off "Stiff Upper Lip." Apparently, you can't stop AC/DC either. In the thirty-odd years these guys have been around, they've bypassed every known musical trend (classic rock, disco, punk, new wave, techno, and elctronica) while leaving their sound virtually unchanged. And why should they bother? If it ain't broke, don't fix it, and on their umpteenth album, they've given more of the same head-banging rock to please old and new fans alike. Produced by George Young (the elder brother of guitarists Angus and Malcolm), we get killer guitar riffs, catchy choruses, and enough double-entendres to make Austin Powers proud. These guys have clearly aged and have somewhat mellowed a bit since the glory days of "Back in Black," but the energy is undeniably present. "Safe in New York City," "Hold Me Back," and "House of Jazz" deliver the goods as only AC/DC can deliver them. The album lacks one straight up classic in the vein of "You Shook Me All Night Long," "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" or "TNT," but even so, "Stiff Upper Lip" is a very solid record from "the thunder from down under."


Arena
Arena
Price: £7.87

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Back to the "Arena" 20 Years Later., 8 Jun. 2004
This review is from: Arena (Audio CD)
WHAT IS IT? The 20th anniversary reissue of Duran Duran's live CD, digitally remastered and with two bonus tracks: the live versions of "Girls on Film" and "Rio."
THE PROS: Thanks to the remastering, the sound quality is a huge improvement over the original 1984 recording. The bonus tracks, especially the dynamic live version of "Girls on Film," are so good that they're almost worth the price of this CD. It makes you wonder why they weren't included in the first place. And, of course, we have the Nile Rogers-produced "Wild Boys," a killer studio track that went to Number Two in the fall of 1984.
THE CONS: With a few exceptions, the audience is eliminated from the recording. As a result, you don't really feel a connection between the band and their fans. Also, the live versions are, for the most part, note-for-note replicas of the originals, although the kickass "Careless Memories" is a true standout.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Worth a purchase only for Duran Duran fans, even if they already have the original release. While its flaws remain, the remastering is top-notch, and the two extra tracks are worth checking out.


Get Born [EXTRA TRACK]
Get Born [EXTRA TRACK]
Offered by Leisurezone
Price: £4.21

1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shamelessly Unoriginal, but Still Fun, 8 Jun. 2004
This review is from: Get Born [EXTRA TRACK] (Audio CD)
Australia's Jet is a band that likes to wear its influences on BOTH its sleeves. Is it possible to forgive a rock band that rips off every other group from the Stones to AC/DC? Such naked theft can be pardoned only if the record is as good as "Get Born." While they have not one single original idea in their heads, the members (Nick and Chris Cester, Cam Muncey, and Mark Wilson) are clearly skilled musicans who know how to jam with a degree of conviction. The whole album seesaws back and forth from the 1960s to the 1970s with catchy rockers like "Last Chance" and "Are You Gonna Be My Girl," while "Cold Hard" recalls AC/DC of the Bon Scott era. But Jet loses altitude on most of the ballads, which bleed into each other without much distinction. They clearly are more effective when they kick up the tempo and rock. "Get Born" sounds like a valentine to the band's musical heroes, and there's nothing wrong with that. But while imitation is often the sincerest form of flattery, it wouldn't hurt Jet to get their creative juices flowing and strive for a bit of originality going forward.


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