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Reviews Written by
S. Simmons "record_righter" (Oxon, UK)
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Sunburst Finish
Sunburst Finish

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime Finish, 14 Mar 2006
This review is from: Sunburst Finish (Audio CD)
How? How on earth did this album not figure in Q Magazine's February rating of the Top 100 albums of all time? Some tunes pop into your head and won't go away for a few days or even weeks. This year is the 30th anniversary since Ships In the Night has been running around mine and Blazing Apostles with it. Hence my decision to buy the remastered album. What an amazing memory trip! The way in which the music demolishes anything in today's charts by comparison is fantastic. Its at times theatrical, whymsical, uplifting, shimmering, astonishing. Whether you consider Sunburst Finish, Axe Victim or Modern Music to be Be-Bop's finest, this is the album that broke into the US for them and gave them their first and only TOTP appearance. The music features fabulously varied, intricate guitar work from Bill with some really good moods created. As with any album that deserves 5 stars, there isn't a single track that doesn't stand up as something special and memorable in its own right. Bears comparison with Queen's finest only cooler rather than camp or kitsch.


Dance the Devil
Dance the Devil
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 11.48

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wanna be Irish, 21 Jan 2006
This review is from: Dance the Devil (Audio CD)
Let me first ask a couple of questions - do you like Damien Rice? Yes? Well you'll have been a little frustrated then that there's precious little else like him around or from him. Apart from the Frames that is. Secondly, when was the last time you bought an album that you found yourself singing along to the second song of an album,on the first time that you heard it, at the top of your voice, or shouted 'yes!!' to a lyric??
Its been a while since the last review on this album and time has set it in context. Always destined to be Ireland's second best band?? This album simply makes you want to be Irish. Its a magnificently engaging intimate but uplifting effort that draws you in, in turns euphoric, then melancholic and then hard rocking. But this is not posturing stadium rock a la latter day U2, but the very essence of small to medium venue alt/country Irish rock, updated and delivered with real bite and passion. This album whispers and shouts to you. It sounds fresher now than 5 years ago.
Who should buy this? Anyone who thinks Gary Lightbody can do no wrong, fans of Damien Rice/Juniper/Bell X1 (who? you better go find out - see Flock!) I'd been downloading every Frames track I could find off Kazaa since the moment I found them till I worked out the best 3 albums then bought all 3 together. When was the last time you bought 3 albums by one band? My advice? Don't blag it, don't download it BUY THIS ALBUM with confidence. 5 stars means 'I will always treasure this album and remember what I was doing when I bought it'. This IS a 5 star album. Highlights abound- 'star star' because I have a live cover by Damien Rice of U2's Still Haven't found..in which he breaks into the Frames' star star half way through, pavement tune because they wrote it about me, hollocaine, stars are underground, perfect opening line, dance the devil..all stand on their own merits as great tracks. This album is the antidote to the 'new miserablist' movement of detached Coldplay/Doves clone bands and will remind you of how great music really sounds. If they are live this year I have to see them. Did I mention my mother's maiden name was O'Flanagan?


All Maps Welcome
All Maps Welcome
Offered by positivenoise
Price: 3.73

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars McRae the master of spine-tingle, 15 Sep 2005
This review is from: All Maps Welcome (Audio CD)
Spinetingling - Some artistes achieve it on only one song in their whole career, such as BB King on The Thrill is gone - that elusive alchemy of raw intimacy, timing and atmosphere that delivers a true tingle down the spine. Mcrae has an illegal still of the stuff bubbling away that he dips into even more so on this album than his previous sublime offerings. As always a man as much in control of the listener's emotions as he is analytical of his own, McRae wears his heart on a skewer rather than a sleeve. All Maps Welcome is a triumph out of the disaster of a broken relationship - a swirling atmospherically charged affair that romances the listener in one instant only to quickly dash hopes of any lasting happiness, such as on The Girl Who Falls Downstairs, possibly the most exquisitely beautiful song of 2005.
Never formulaic, there are, nevertheless, several tracks which follow the slow builder format of 'in with a whisper, out with a roar' but the initial impression of overdone quiet understatement at the start of the album is quickly dispelled by the power of the songs. This is an album that you can dip into, to a degree, unlike his previous two outings which gripped from start to finish. But rather than being the weaker for it, this is a strong collection of standouts with an overall theme, that can still immerse if you want it to.
Less intensely charged than Just Like Blood or the eponymous first album, All Map shows a more involving and open McRae with none of the dark brooding that he's occasionally shown. Those already in possession of Tom's previous two albums will expect there to be at least one truly powerful belter of a track a la Karaoke Soul and A and b song - this album does not disappoint with Silent Boulevard continuing that tradition. Vocal pyrotechnics to rival Buckley are in more limited supply this time around as Tom has gone for a more intimately melancholic atmosphere, but Silent Boulevard lets rip as McRae truly can. Tracks that absorb and stun you with their vocals that could etch cut glass are Vampire Heart, Packing For The Crash and Strangest Land.
This is an companion album for a long late night drive, or a gift for a trusted lover - think of Songs of..by Leonard Cohen and you'll understand something of the mood. The only negative is the slightly 'Mike Sammes singers' start to Strangest Land but that soon dissipates as the rest of the song comes through strongly.
Better than Buckley, more richly rewarding in the listening than Damien Rice, Stephen Fretwell or the truly excellent Ben Chistophers, McRae remains, quite simply, the best singer-songwriter in the British Isles and therefore, by definition, on the planet.


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