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JS "JS" (Essex)

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Zeitgeist [German Edition]
Zeitgeist [German Edition]
Offered by Giant Entertainment
Price: 6.03

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As good as ever..., 11 July 2007
Zeitgiest has come in for some fairly hefty criticism from certain quarters, but much of it is unfair. The new look Smashing Pumpkins may be missing James Iha and Darcy Wretzky, but the fact remains (with respect to the distinctive guitar work of the former) that it was always Corgan and Chamberlin who were the key members of the band. This being the case, it would be fairer to dismiss the excellent Adore as 'not a Pumpkins album' than Zeitgeist, seeing as Chamberlin was absent for its recording.

Other reviews seem to focus their criticism on the fact that Corgan is said to be an 'egomaniac'. So what if he is? We're listening to the music not indulging in a character assasination of its creator...

But I digress... Zeitgiest is good. It doesn't reach the dizzy heights of Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness, but it compares extremely favourably when placed against what else is on offer in 2007. Recognisably a Pumpkins record, but not a blatant attempt to rehash former glories, it combines the powerful guitars of Mellon Collie with some of the more pop-y sensibilities of Zwan and touches of the electronica and style exhibited on 2005's, The Future Embrace.

The musicanship of Corgan and Chamberlin are as impressive as ever - the latter's drumming particularly helps elevate Zeitgeist way above run-of-the-mill rock/emo offerings with its sheer power. Corgan's lyrics largely cover familiar territory, although he does touch upon political themes at times. Zeitgeist is by no means a political album though and Corgan's strength remains more personal and emotional topics.

Starting loudly with Doomsday Clock, a classic Pumpkins track, and finishing softly with Pomp and Circumstances, a personal favourite and one of the offerings taking its cues from The Future Embrace, the quality rarely lets up throughout the 12-track album. At near 10 minutes, United States is perhaps too long (or not interesting enough to justify its length), but the remainder of the songs ensure things move along at a fast pace.

Zeitgeist is not only what many long-term Pumpkins fans will have been hoping for, but also a good introduction to the band's music for new listeners. Hopefully, it's just the first chapter in this second incarnation and there's more to come from Corgan and co...


Zeitgeist
Zeitgeist
Offered by Dirty Deals UK
Price: 6.00

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As good as ever..., 11 July 2007
This review is from: Zeitgeist (Audio CD)
Zeitgiest has come in for some fairly hefty criticism from certain quarters, but much of it is unfair. The new look Smashing Pumpkins may be missing James Iha and Darcy Wretzky, but the fact remains (with respect to the distinctive guitar work of the former) that it was always Corgan and Chamberlin who were the key members of the band. This being the case, it would be fairer to dismiss the excellent Adore as 'not a Pumpkins album' than Zeitgeist, seeing as Chamberlin was absent for its recording.

Other reviews seem to focus their criticism on the fact that Corgan is said to be an 'egomaniac'. So what if he is? We're listening to the music not indulging in a character assasination of its creator...

But I digress... Zeitgiest is good. It doesn't reach the dizzy heights of Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness, but it compares extremely favourably when placed against what else is on offer in 2007. Recognisably a Pumpkins record, but not a blatant attempt to rehash former glories, it combines the powerful guitars of Mellon Collie with some of the more pop-y sensibilities of Zwan and touches of the electronica and style exhibited on 2005's, The Future Embrace.

The musicanship of Corgan and Chamberlin are as impressive as ever - the latter's drumming particularly helps elevate Zeitgeist way above run-of-the-mill rock/emo offerings with its sheer power. Corgan's lyrics largely cover familiar territory, although he does touch upon political themes at times. Zeitgeist is by no means a political album though and Corgan's strength remains more personal and emotional topics.

Starting loudly with Doomsday Clock, a classic Pumpkins track, and finishing softly with Pomp and Circumstances, a personal favourite and one of the offerings taking its cues from The Future Embrace, the quality rarely lets up throughout the 12-track album. At near 10 minutes, United States is perhaps too long (or not interesting enough to justify its length), but the remainder of the songs ensure things move along at a fast pace.

Zeitgeist is not only what many long-term Pumpkins fans will have been hoping for, but also a good introduction to the band's music for new listeners. Hopefully, it's just the first chapter in this second incarnation and there's more to come from Corgan and co...


Maid Marian And Her Merry Men: The Complete Series 1 [DVD] [1989]
Maid Marian And Her Merry Men: The Complete Series 1 [DVD] [1989]
Dvd ~ Kate Lonergan

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The next archer, from the village of Ambridge...., 22 Feb 2007
I've reached the ripe old age of 25 years old, but since discovering a minute ago that every episode of the brilliant Maid Marion and Her Merry Men is finally available on DVD, I'm as excited as a small child on Christmas Eve.

Having taped virtually every episode back in the day and watched them to the point of the tapes wearing out, I thought they would be lost forever, but thankfully whoever owned the rights has seen sense.

This may be a children's programme, but there is much in it to entertain adults. Tony Robinson's humour, as has been mentioned elsewhere, has more than a hint of Blackadder about it (you'll find yourself laughing out loud frequently); the numerous songs are hilarious; and the cast are excellent to a person, throughout.

You owe it to yourself to buy all 4 series of this excellent show right now - I just have :)


Mobile Home
Mobile Home
Offered by RAREWAVES
Price: 12.79

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best British albums around, 18 Mar 2005
This review is from: Mobile Home (Audio CD)
The Longpigs' debut album, The Sun is Often Out, was an album that showcased brit-pop at it's very best; Mobile Home not only matched its predecessor, but surpassed it in every way. Whilst it might not be as immediately accessible, musically and lyrically it is clearly the work of a band and songwriter at the top of their game.
Crispin Hunt's vocals are superb, soaring above the delicate guitar lines and subtle percussion, songs like Gangsters and Free Toy showing just what a talent he was (and, I'm sure, continues to be). It's difficult to overstate the emotional impact of his lyrics: 'To lick your wound, and crack through the morphine sweet darkness, bloodies your eyes and fouls your kiss, it's you I can't forget...' and 'So let's rush up to the ridge, all the lights go out, stole away my heart, quiet as the fin of a tiger shark...' are just two examples. Elsewhere, clever/humorous wordplay like 'The screw that nailed the final whore...', 'The campaign and the camp pain...' and 'I'll come running to you child, like Lassie's final mile...' help inject a darkly comic atmosphere to proceedings.
Musicians Richard Hawley (be sure to check out his subsequent solo work) and Simon Stafford do a great job of complementing the vocals, employing a minimalist approach that differs from the first album. Stafford even provides trumpet for Speech Bubble, in a moment off from his bass and piano duties.
Mobile Home's seedy side, created by tracks like Keep the Light Alight, The Frank Sonata and Loud and Clear (amongst others) often comes through, but it's tempered to a degree by tracks such as Miss Believer, Dog is Dead and the radio-friendly Blue Skies. Overall, however, the album has a unified feel that makes it rewarding to enjoy as a single body of work.
From my point of view, this is a flawless album that never got the credit it deserved. Sadly it was also the Longpigs' swansong, but two studio albums (and a double album's-worth of b-sides, which come highly recommended if you can find them) are enough to place the Longpigs up alongside the likes of Radiohead as one of the UK's finest alternative bands.


Around The Sun (Int'l Jewelcase)
Around The Sun (Int'l Jewelcase)
Price: 10.88

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I'm still waiting for a bad REM album..., 26 Feb 2005
Critically, in the UK at least, Around the Sun seems to have taken a bit of a beating - seemingly from journalists that expect REM to regurgitate their past material; to continue sounding like the public think REM should sound. This state of affairs may not be surprising, but the criticism of the group's latest album deserves a reply.
Around the Sun certainly sounds different to past REM albums: Peter Buck's guitar is often close to absent, leaving piano and synth parts to fill in the spaces and the summery cheerfulness of Reveal has been replaced with a low-key melancholy. Some things remain constant - Michael Stipe's vocal performance is as good as ever and, personally, I believe, better than on Reveal.
The album opens memorably with Leaving New York, the most REM-y sounding track included, followed by the relatively upbeat Electron Blue. For me, however it is The Ascent of Man and High Speed Train that standout. The former is a touching comment on unrequited love, with a catchy chorus, that culminates in a beautiful (but unsung!) line "'Cause in my mind I called you back". The latter, which sounds vaguely Up-like, employs clever percussion parts and an effective chorus backing vocal to support another powerful love song.
Other highlights include The Worst Joke Ever and The Outsiders, whose Q-Tip outro recalls Radio Song and grows on you with every listen. The album also finishes strongly with the title track.
Which is not to say Around the Sun is flawless. It never quite achieves the dark, brooding, but starkly beautiful, ambience of the criminally underrated Up and in places seems a little to 'produced'. Metronomic and occasionally uninspired drumming leaves proceedings a tad to clinical for my taste.
The point is, however, that REM have made the decision yet again to do what they want to do. With such a vast back catalogue they could never please all of their fans equally with each album. They've changed musically and lyrically, reflecting how they as individuals have matured since playing that disused church in Athens, Georgia all those years ago.
And, when you hold their current output up against recent offerings from super-group rivals U2 (whose much-celebrated How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb fails to match Around the Sun in any area - especially lyrically) and other alt-rock acts such as Coldplay, it's clear that REM remains a vital and important contributor to the music world and have few serious rivals in their genre.


The Queen Is Dead
The Queen Is Dead
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: 5.01

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I didn't realise they wrote such bloody brilliant poetry..., 25 Feb 2005
This review is from: The Queen Is Dead (Audio CD)
There's something to be said for an album that can consistently convey heartfelt despair and still have enough left over to make you laugh. The Queen is Dead does both of these things over the course of ten near-faultless tracks, thanks to the brilliant lyrics and distinctive vocal style of Morrissey and the inventive guitar playing of Johnny Marr.
From opening title track to closer, Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others, The Smiths are on top form. Having only recently discovered the band, I came to the album with a completely objective standpoint but write now as an avowed fan.
There's not enough space here to comment on each song individually, but it is enough to say that I Know It's Over and There Is A Light That Never Goes Out are as good as any songs ever written. The aforementioned humour crops up throughout, noteably in Vicar In A Tutu and Frankly, Mr Shankly, which always make me smile whilst sitting at work bored out of my skull, wishing I was at home playing guitar.
Elsewhere, Cemetery Gates proves beyond all doubt that intellectual rock stars can exist. Now all we need to do is find some more...
Of The Smiths four studio albums, The Queen is Dead stands out as the work of a band at the very top of their game. Critically acclaimed and rightly so, it remains as vital and important a record as it was when released in 1986.


Hopes and Fears
Hopes and Fears
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: 3.50

11 of 31 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Music for the middle class dinner party..., 25 Feb 2005
This review is from: Hopes and Fears (Audio CD)
I saw Keane perform at the Tsunami benefit concert on television recently and, whilst their participation itself is to be commendeded, their performance was not far short of embarrassing. Struggling to fill the stage, the only enthusiasm communicated in the renditions of their handful of popular radio friendly tracks came from a pianist who seemed unable to sit still whilst playing his chords.
The problem is simply the bland nature of the songs to be found on Hopes and Fears. If the hopes and fears communicated here were the exremes of human emotion, the world would be a very sad place indeed.
It's not that they're offensive in the vein of Robbie Williams or McFly; they simply fail to communicate anything beyond lethargy. Music should knock you over; leave you struggling to stand or set your heart leaping and there's nothing to do that here.
The lack of a guitarist and bassist hurts their cause significantly, of course, and there is little musical invention to be enjoyed anywhere. Mediocre, perhaps best sums up their debut, placing them in the camp populated by a disturbingly large number of recent groups, including Snow Patrol, Embrace and Coldplay. (It's been said, but it should be repeated, Keane cannot be compared to Radiohead in any way. Searching for similarities between Beethoven and S Club Juniors would be more fruitful).
Hopes and Fears is ideal, then, to cue up behind Dido's current dirge when you're 'entertaining' your more boring friends, but hopeless if you're searching for something to make you think or feel outside the masses.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 19, 2010 1:01 PM BST


Around The Sun [Digipak]
Around The Sun [Digipak]
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 6.63

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I'm still waiting for a bad REM album..., 25 Feb 2005
Critically, in the UK at least, Around the Sun seems to have taken a bit of a beating - seemingly from journalists that expect REM to regurgitate their past material; to continue sounding like the public think REM should sound. This state of affairs may not be surprising, but the criticism of the group's latest album deserves a reply.
Around the Sun certainly sounds different to past REM albums: Peter Buck's guitar is often close to absent, leaving piano and synth parts to fill in the spaces and the summery cheerfulness of Reveal has been replaced with a low-key melancholy. Some things remain constant - Michael Stipe's vocal performance is as good as ever and, personally, I believe, better than on Reveal.
The album opens memorably with Leaving New York, the most REM-y sounding track included, followed by the relatively upbeat Electron Blue. For me, however it is The Ascent of Man and High Speed Train that standout. The former is a touching comment on unrequited love, with a catchy chorus, that culminates in a beautiful (but unsung!) line "'Cause in my mind I called you back". The latter, which sounds vaguely Up-like, employs clever percussion parts and an effective chorus backing vocal to support another powerful love song.
Other highlights include The Worst Joke Ever and The Outsiders, whose Q-Tip outro recalls Radio Song and grows on you with every listen. The album also finishes strongly with the title track.
Which is not to say Around the Sun is flawless. It never quite achieves the dark, brooding, but starkly beautiful, ambience of the criminally underrated UP and in places seems a little to 'produced'. Metronomic and occasionally uninspired drumming leaves proceedings a tad to clinical for my taste.
The point is, however, that REM have made the decision yet again to do what they want to do. With such a vast back catalogue they could never please all of their fans equally with each album. They've changed musically and lyrically, reflecting how they as individuals have matured since playing that disused church in Athens, Georgia all those years ago.
And, when you hold their current output up against recent offerings from super-group rivals U2 (whose much-celebrated How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb fails to match Around the Sun in any area - especially lyrically) and other alt-rock acts such as Coldplay, it's clear that REM remains a vital and important contributor to the music world and have few serious rivals in their genre.


Adore
Adore
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: 8.87

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sheer poetry, 3 Mar 2004
This review is from: Adore (Audio CD)
I'll admit that I wasn't sure about Adore at first. It was the second Pumpkins album I bought (after Mellon Collie) and I was expecting more of Billy Corgan's own brand of heavy metal. What I got, and what I soon learned to appreciate, is an album of rare beauty. Some of the lyrics (most to be honest) are as good as the work of any conventional poet - "I faced the fathoms in your deep, withstood the suitors' quiet siege, tore downs the heavens just to please you, to hold the flower I can't keep" is a perfect example.
The songs range from the almost sinister Ava Adore (watch with the video for full impact), to the dark, grief stricken Tear and Blank Page - one of the most haunting songs I've ever heard. Songs such as Perfect and Appels + Oranjes add just enough catchy pop to what is a lengthy, though not overly so, album. Other highlights include Behold! The Night Mare (see lyrics above) and the reverb drenched and downright scary Shame.
As a whole, Adore is a mixture of electronica and subtle acoustic tracks, with occasional moments of angry distortion. Jimmy Chamberlain's absence is noticable, but not necessarily detrimental (though he is one of the greatest drummers around!) and Billy Corgan's voice is noticeably better in comparison to earlier albums. It was always going to be hard to follow Mellon Collie, but Adore succeeds, both in sounding nothing like its predecessor, but also attaining the same heights. One of the best, and most underrated, alternative rock albums of the 90s, any fan of the genre should own Adore.


Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness
Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness
Price: 11.03

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as alternative rock gets..., 3 Mar 2004
The genius of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is its sheer scope. It establishes the Pumpkins as a genre in their own right and, thus is like no other album. The name of the album and tracks and the sleeve artwork set the tone for what I've always considered a melodrama in musical form. The songs deal with love, despair and anger in equal measures, whilst there are enough life-affirming moments ("you're not same you're different tonight/and you can make it last forever") to ensure that not everything is doom and gloom.
By and large however, Mellon Collie is a dark album - either it breaks your heart - e.g. the beautiful Stumbleine or desparate In the Arms of Sleep; or it tears it out in a maelstrom of raging distortion (this album is at times the sonic representation of the brutality of warfare) - e.g. Tales of a Scorched Earth or XYU - sometimes it does both at the same time - e.g. Bodies.
The lyrics are some of the greatest ever to have been written, proof of that fact evident in the evocative 1979, Muzzle and Thirty three - there's even some dark humour in the quirky Lily (my one and only) Incidentally, I've read a lot of reviews that regard the first disc to be superior to the second. In my opinion this is not the case - Bodies, Thirty-three, Arms of sleep, 1979 - and I could go on - combined with the subtle Beautiful and delicate Farewell and Goodnight make Twighlight to Starlight a superb album in its own right.
If you like intelligent, skillfully performed rock, Mellon Collie is for you. It is music for the soul, an album that transports you to its own world and sets you adrift in a sea of raw emotion. Buy it now, avail yourself of everything else the Pumpkins have produced, and keep an eye out for Billy Corgan's new solo album in the hopefully not too distant future.


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