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Reviews Written by
S. C. Trump "stevect" (Upminster, Essex)

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Offered by Media Hessen
Price: £16.83

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary album, 19 May 2008
This review is from: Phoenix (Audio CD)
In an age where the so called hip new singers are what everyone is listening to I find it strange and sad that this superb offering from the original 1982 line up of Asia will be ignored. The reason why we listen to any music is because the musicians make sounds pleasing to the ears and write tunes that hook your brain and play over and over and you feel all the better for having listened to it. Being skilled instrumentalists also helps as is certainly the case with messrs Wetton, Downes, Howe and Palmer. So is this album relevant to 2008 ? Most certainly yes and here are my track by track votes and thoughts.
1) Never again. An echo back to the debut album complete with a similar `Heat of the moment' intro. Very familiar Asia fare immediately tunes the listener back to the Asia sound. 8/10
2) Nothings forever. Catchy hook, light arrangement but a good no.2 track for the album. 7/10
3) Heroine. An absolute gem of a track with a soaring chorus and haunting instrumentation rounded off by Howes sympathetic guitar solo. A real highlight. 10/10
4) Sleeping Giant/No way back/reprise. A very progressive type of song with an insistent chorus. 9/10
5) Alibis. Up-tempo song full of sumptuous instrumentation. Downes's keyboards here remind me very much of Rick Wakemans style. 9/10
6) I will remember you. A slow burner of the song with Wettons aching vocals and another one of those glorious instrumental breaks. 9/10
7) Shadow of a doubt. Another up-tempo effort but not one of the stronger songs. 7/10
8) Parallel Worlds/Vortex/Deya. Eight minutes of pure joy. The slow verses of the main song give way to some frenzied instrumentation in Vortex with Palmer playing like a man possessed. Then it's the calm soothing acoustic guitar playing of Deya that reminds me very much of Rodrigos Guitar Concerto. 10/10
9) Wish I'd known all along. A Steve Howe song with the man himself on backing vocals Insistent chorus makes this one to remember. 9/10
10) Orchard of mines. Inspired cover with soaring vocals from John Wetton. Very evocative. 10/10
11) Over and over. The other Steve Howe song and for me the albums weak point. 5/10
12) An extraordinary life. Absolute classic song with a very catchy chorus and personal lyrics from John Wetton. I cannot fathom out why this brilliant song is not on the Radio 2 playlist or perhaps the people who decide these things haven't heard it. Again Howes guitar sweetens the sound sooo much. A great end to a great album. 10/10
There is also an acoustic bonus version of `An extraordinary life' but this does not do the song justice.
In summary, a great return from the band and worthy purchase for any listener of good, tuneful music; the sleeve and packaging have also had a lot of love lavished on them too.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 26, 2012 2:40 PM BST

Drama [Expanded & Remastered]
Drama [Expanded & Remastered]
Price: £5.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Let the Drama unfold..., 7 May 2008
Haha Yes with the Buggles ? "You cannot be serious !" most people said at the time of the release of Drama. Closer inspection reveals that far from being a ritual or a roundabout effort, it's really quite good. The opening track `Machine Messiah' is an extended workout. I still remember the trepidation waiting for the first burst of Trevors vocals to sound. I needn't have worried as although it wasn't Jon it wasn't too far off the Yes sound we know and love. The song has a middle section that goes all quiet and then it starts up again afresh. Some great instrumentation there with Squires bass much to the fore. The next track `White Car' is frankly a waste of time. Far too short and unremarkable. `Does it really happen' follows next and is quite striking with some Yes-like nonsensical lyrics. `Into the lens' is another extended song with very Buggles like lyrics about cameras and being "taken so easily". A pun no doubt. `Run through the Night's is a wonderful song but the final (original track) `Tempus Fugit' is the albums high point. Great riff, great bass and guitar and features the "Yes, Yes" refrain. It's still included in Squire and Whites instrumental `White Fish' piece.

So that's the album as was. What you get here are a mixed bag of extras. High points for me are the single remix of `Run through the Night' which is not just a dodgy edit of the original track unlike the single mix of `Into the Lens' (this should never have been a single anyway - why not `Tempus Fugit' ?). An instrumental outing entitled `Have we really got to go through this' is barnstorming. Lowpoints are `Song no. 4' which goes on a bit and the final four tracks are unremarkable, unfinished efforts from the abandoned Paris sessions with Roy Thomas Baker producing and Anderson and Wakeman still in the band but about to leave.

I guess you shouldn't moan about extra tracks as there are a lot here. The only gripe for me is why not include all the Paris session tracks (i.e. the ones that were on the `In a Word' box set) and why not include the Buggles version of `Into the Lens' (which was re-titled `I am a Camera') ? This makes much better listening than the single edit.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 12, 2009 2:55 PM BST

Now And Then
Now And Then
Price: £7.99

2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Irrelevant, 19 April 2008
This review is from: Now And Then (Audio CD)
After the poor sales of recent new albums from Chris it seems time once again to dust off the old favourites from the vaults and plonk them on yet another compilation. This is a trick recently carried out by Abba and the Carpenters and judging by the relative success of those revisits it's probably a good commercial decision. For the record, the last CdeB compilation `The Ultimate Collection' released in 2001 contained 17 tracks of which 12 are duplicated here (although this set features 20 tracks in total as opposed to 17). Previously in 1989 we had the 'Spark to a Flame' compilation for which the overlap is 11 tracks. Some of the best songs from CdeB are not featured however on any of these releases. I would have loved to see a compilation featuring `The best that love could be', `A celebration', `Up here in heaven', `Fire on the water' and dammit, my all time favourite track from Chris; `I'm not crying anymore' from the 'Beautiful Dreams' album. They could have still featured the classic CdeB staples such as `Borderline', `Don't pay the Ferryman' and (I guess) `The lady in Red' but instead reduced some of the unnecessary duplication such as `A Spaceman came travelling' (a track I always skip unless at Christmas), `This waiting heart', `Two sides to every story' and `Fatal hesitation'. There is one new track 'Live for the Day' featured which may persuade diehard fans to part with their money (it's an OK duet with a young lebanese singer named Tina Yamout but whether it's worth forking out the price of an album for is debatable)- other than that the album is yet more recycling from the record company.

Please note, the rating is for this release not for the music which is worth a good four stars.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 8, 2008 1:14 PM BST

Sleepless Nights
Sleepless Nights
Offered by muzicmadnezz
Price: £25.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seamless tights, 7 April 2008
This review is from: Sleepless Nights (Audio CD)
An album with a lot of fine tracks recorded in the early 80s by the popular Geordie band. The title track (sort of) `Nights' leads off and it's a strong mid-paced song about the good old times spent in coffee bars just watching life go by. Next up is the fine `Start again' sung with bravado by Ray Jackson. `Cruising to disaster' is one of the late Alan Hulls protest songs about President Reagan and the men in the Kremlin being custodians of all the worst weapons in the world. It features a childrens choir singing the anthem like chorus at the end. Hulls vocals throughout this song are both edgy and angst-ridden. Next up, `The same way down' is much, much lighter in tone and features those trademark Lindisfarne harmonies whilst `Winning the game' was always a live favourite and is penned by Jackson/Harcourt rather than Hull. Great song. Last up on what was side one of the original LP is the rather humorous `About you'.

Track seven started up side two and is a Rod Clements song about `Sunderland Boys' - one for the Baggies to sing on the terraces ? I think not. Fine song none the less. The trite `Love is a pain in the neck' is next and then follows `Do what I want' which is one of the slightly light-hearted Lindisfarne moments ending with a laughing toy. The best track on the album for me is the ballad `Never miss the water' featuring again those classic harmonies. I never heard this one live and mores the pity. `I must stop going to parties' is pure theatre and features a seemingly drunk Ray Jackson at the end and some suitable party whistle noises. This guy just can't stop going to parties you see and it's doing him in ! Last track is another Alan Hull rant; `Stormy weather' continues the cruise missile themes and again is a sung in a stroppy delivery. Played live this always went down well with the audience stomping to the "Stormy (thump thump) weather, (thump thump) etc.

In summary an album of much contrast that still gets played regularly 25 years later on my cd player. One of Lindisfarnes best.

Spectral Mornings
Spectral Mornings
Price: £6.27

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sceptical adornings..., 11 Feb. 2008
This review is from: Spectral Mornings (Audio CD)
Most of the reviews already submitted concentrate on the quality of the album and it must be said that it does contain some of Steves best songs, with only a couple of tracks not quite up to the mark.

Instead I wanted to showcase the bonus tracks on offer here as this remastered cd does offer quite a few; in fact it's very generous and brings the playing time to around 71 minutes. However, it's really a question of quantity above quality (and also the track timings listed on the sleeve are quite wrong). Best of the bunch for me is the extended version of the classic track 'Every Day' which extends the instrumental section until it fades more quietly than on the original cut. Next up, the wonderful 'The Virgin and the Gypsy' is also extended but only to repeat the instrumental middle passage over and over again. The alternative mix of 'Tiger Moth' features just the vocal section sung whistfully by Peter Hicks; not sure what the point of that is.'The Ballad of the Decomposing Man' is also an alternative mix but it sounds much the same. The single version of 'Clocks' follows next and chops the frenetic drum section sadly, so is vastly inferior to the standard cut. An excellent live 'Acoustic Set' is next up and this was the b-side of the 'Clocks' single; it features a lovely version of 'Horizons' from the Genesis album 'Foxtrot' with a very long round of applause. The other acoustic pieces are not quite as enthusistically received but do give a flavour of Steves live acoustic technique. A rare live cut of 'Tiger Moth' was featured on the 12" 'Clocks' single and is included here but strangely the music fades out before Peter Hicks' vocals start as it was on the 12" release - shame they could not have restored the full track here.

There is a slight trick in the tail if you pardon the pun, 'Tiger Moth (live)' is the last listed track and it duly fades but the clock keeps ticking (sorry, another pun !) and then a hidden track 16 starts up. What can I say about this piece of nonsense ? Someone with a very bad cough appears to be clearing up after the band and cursing about bands in general being "layabouts". This rambles on for about one and a half minutes and then stops when a door is slammed. Very strange.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 9, 2012 9:07 PM GMT

Rage In Eden
Rage In Eden
Price: £15.38

4 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite Vienna 2, 13 Jan. 2008
This review is from: Rage In Eden (Audio CD)
I guess it was always going to be difficult to follow up the mega album Vienna with something just as good and Midge and the boys probably had more than a nudge from the record company to get something out. What we have here is not bad but suffers a little on what was side 2 of the original record. Reviews at the time were largely unkind and focused on some of the silly typos on the lyric sheet (corrected here on the cd release) but all is not bad.

The first track is the second single 'The Voice' and it really should have been the first single as its a super song with a soaring chorus and is stretched here with an instrumental fade out not included on the 7" release. Next up 'We stand alone' is magnificent with Midges soaring vocals much to the fore. Track three is the title track and it's very hypnotically infectious and fades to the middle of the track and then disappears as if someone switched it off. The best track on the album for me is 'I remember (death in the afternoon)' with a wonderful instrumental section that then has Midges vocals fade in and then slowly disappear as if down a subway tunnel leaving just a tinkling piano at the end. Superb, largely unknown Ultravox brilliance with excellent production.

It all starts to go wrong on side 2 with the first single' The Thin Wall'. Anyone from the early 80s must know it but it really is not that great. The next track 'Stranger within' is very long and that is about all you can say about it. 'Ascent on youth' and its instrumental follow-up 'The Ascent' are reasonable Ultravox fare and constitute the highlights of side 2 and then the last track 'Your name has slipped my mind again' is a frankly awful dirge with a repetitive electronic drum beat that you keep waiting to hear being hit. zzzzzz.

The two b-sides 'I never wanted to begin' and 'Paths and Angles' are included here and actually finish the album on a strong note. Heaven knows why the band decided to leave these off of the album instead deferring to 'Stranger within' and 'Your name has slipped my mind again'. 'Paths and Angles' is very reminiscent of 'Mr X' from 'Vienna' although lacks the menace of that classic track.

All in all a patchy album where the best is presented first and then the overlooked make a belated appearance at the end.

Doctor Who - The Invasion (2 Disc Set) [DVD] [1968]
Doctor Who - The Invasion (2 Disc Set) [DVD] [1968]
Dvd ~ Patrick Troughton
Offered by rsdvd
Price: £5.85

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Groundbreaking, 18 Nov. 2007
How many Doctor Who stories can 'every day' people born in the 60s or earlier actually recall ? I would hazard a guess that 'The Invasion' will be remembered as the one with the Cybermen coming out of the sewers. Indeed, for my part three cliffhangers stick in the mind; the end of episode One where the Cyber Planner is revealed in Vaughns office, the crazed cyberman in the sewers at the end of episode five and of course the invasion itself at the end of episode six.

Make no mistake, this story is two episodes too long. There is far too much repetitive dialogue in Vaughns office and the stock footage of missiles is shown three times - each time is identical ! In contrast the death of one supporting character is extremely rushed. But the overall look and feel of the story with its contemporary feel (untypical at the time of broadcast) is very atmospheric accompanied by a very moody instrumental score. For that alone, the story is essential viewing for nostalgic 40 somethings (and above) and should be viewed by younger fans as an example of the late 60s production team getting everything right.

Now to the animation of the two missing episodes 1 & 4. A superb effort to marry up fans off-air audio recordings with some excellent black and white animation. Using a lot of source material from the surviving episodes and a certain degree of artistic licence (Isobels ascent up the rope ladder to the helicopter is certainly that !) the team have produced a seamless bridge to complete the story. The original video release in 1993 used Brigadier actor Nicholas Courtney giving a very hurried summary of the missing episodes (this is included here as an extra) but this treatment is vastly superior and infinitely more satisfying.

There are some excellent extras on the two discs also. A 50 minute documentary recalling the making of the story with many (surviving)participants providing recollections, a short documentary showing the making of the animation, a tribute to the fans who recorded off-air audios on cassette tapes (check out the groovy Boots C90 displayed !) and of course the obligatory commentaries that can be switched on if desired.

Excellent value release that justifies a full five stars. Now bring on a completed 'The Ice Warriors' with animated episodes 2 & 3 or maybe someone has those missing episodes tucked away in their cupboard ?!!

Dark Road (Single)
Dark Road (Single)
Offered by stevecaptainkirk
Price: £1.70

1 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Title says it all, 11 Sept. 2007
This review is from: Dark Road (Single) (Audio CD)
Starts off ok then goes somewhat off-key. Davinas record of the week when on R2. Not quite in the league of 'No more I love yous' etc.

Price: £9.62

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strange Phantoms, 7 Sept. 2007
This review is from: Phantoms (Audio CD)
What good value for money this long awaited cd release of Alan Hulls 1979 solo album originally recorded on Elton Johns Rocket label is. Also included are the extra tracks that were present on the Radiator album 'Isn't it strange' two years earlier. For those of you confused, let me explain. The albums original format was as the band Radiator and the album came out as 'Isn't it strange' by Radiator rather than by Alan Hull (Alan formed the band Radiator). Predictably the album sold poorly but undeterred it was reissued two years later as 'Phantoms' by Alan Hull except that four tracks were dropped and replaced by four other tracks. This cd release features the running order for 'Phantoms', the four dropped tracks that were on 'Isn't it strange' plus a bonus five demo tracks.

Now onto the music. If you like Hulls work you'll love this album. There are some love songs; 'Make me want to stay' (also featured on Lindisfarnes 'Back and Fourth' album) and 'Love is the answer', some jaunty songs 'Madmen and Loonies', one angry song 'Corporation Rock' and one Hull classic; the simple but beautiful 'Walk in the Sea'. The four Radiator tracks are OK with the bouncy 'Isn't it strange' featuring an amusing fade-out where Hull sings "Isn't it strange" and drops an octave unexpectedly on the word 'strange'. A single release this was but in the 1977 punk heyday stood no chance. Finally the demos. They're pretty good as demos go. One track 'Raw Bacon' was never released and so is unique to this release, 'Evening' appeared on Lindisfarnes album 'The News' (and was sung as a duet by Hull and Ray Jackson) and 'Walk in the Sea' is an interesting take which still sounds fine in demo form.

The packaging contains comprehensive notes, rare photos but sadly no lyrics.

All in all a great addition and an essential purchase for Alan Hull fans.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 26, 2008 2:46 PM BST

The Best Of The Stylistics [Reissue]
The Best Of The Stylistics [Reissue]
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £6.74

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes you feel brand new, 6 Aug. 2007
I'll be the first to admit that I am not a soul fan but this compilation contains a number of truly wonderful lush soul ballads. Like listening to a Carpenters compilation the hits just roll on and on. I would like to single out two cuts which for me epitomise the Sylistics sound and appeal and also bring back such great memories of the 70s.

I was rifling through some 7" records in a 2nd hand shop the other day when I came across 'You make me feel brand new'. On closer inspection I found that it actually was the B-side and the A-side was 'Only for the Children'. Yikes, how could the record company have arrived at that decision ? Thank goodness the DJs realised. 'You make me feel brand new' is quite simply one of the best ballads ever recorded and is actually a rare duet for the Stylistics. The first verse is sung with much passion by Aiirion Love and Russell Thopkins Jnr (who is THE voice of the Stylistics) cuts in on verse two ("Only you, were there when I needed a friend"). How could this classic not make no. 1 in the UK ? 'When will I see you again' by the Three Degrees, that's how.

The other classic track I'd like to single out did make no. 1 in the UK. 'Can't give you anything (but my love)' has a gorgeous intro of sweeping strings and brass and fits perfectly with its promo video shot on the top of a large building in the States. The camera pans and just at the end of the intro we see the band all ready to sing. A simple yet effective interpretation of a sweeping soundscape of a song with a great hook. It was the Sylistics only no. 1 and that's more the pity but hey, it's one more than groups such as the Temptations who the Stylistics are often compared to managed.

Buy this album for great songs, great arrangements and if you're over 40 great memories.

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