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M. B. Wilson "crushtrash" (Bristol)
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Never Enough (Remixes)
Never Enough (Remixes)
Price: £4.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Remixes/dubs lose some of the energy, and most of the feel, of the original. Very mixed bag., 24 Feb 2014
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This review is for the 7-track Remixes EP. "Never Enough" is the 3rd single from "Hearts and Knives", and is a great track, certainly in its original form. This is also the only single to get a second remix EP release (the vinyl 12" has yet to surface, but was intended to include the first 5 tracks on the MP3 EP). What was so good about the previous 2 singles was that they included a true extended version, an instrumental and a few remixes. This meant the singles were heads-and-shoulders above recent Depeche singles, for instance, where the remixes were often very patchy and had absolutely nothing to do with the tune of the original (or much of the vocal either, in many cases). Unfortunately this Visage Remix EP is also a mixed blessing, and much as I'd love to, I am struggling to give it more than 3 stars ("ok").

The opening Young Parisians remix is the only new full vocal mix (as Bottin Vocal already released in edit form). It is very good but is 100% electronic, so out go Rob's guitars and in come slightly repetitive synth loops. It is a mix that purists should like, which is less likely with tracks 2-4! Jon Pleased Wimmin mix does have some elements of the original later on, but is really a dub, albeit a cleverly constructed one for the clubs. The following 2 dubs are slow, and whilst the Baarregaard/Coast Dub has an earthy appeal of its own, they remove all of the energy completely, and I can't imagine these being classed as dance-floor mixes! The plodding Bottin Dub is in fact an instrumental, with only very minor differences from the backing track of the Extended Vocal - disappointing.

We then get a glimpse of the original in radio edit form, which is nice to have, and then the 2 MP3 EP extras. The John Bryan Widescreen Instrumental is the other highlight of this EP, as its the closest to an extended instrumental, and you get a better feel for the skill of both the Orchestra and Rob's guitar licks. John has done a great job with this, and the vocal on the CD released Dec 2013.

The Bottin Extended Vocal is ok, if not exciting, and does seem to work better in this extended form.

This release was delayed by around a month, so I was awaiting it with increased expectation. Maybe that's why I am rather disappointed, and definitely won't be hunting out the vinyl 12" on the strength of just the Young Parisians remix.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 26, 2014 6:35 PM GMT


Drinking Gasoline [CD+DVD] (Remastered)
Drinking Gasoline [CD+DVD] (Remastered)
Price: £11.32

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice packaging but still a bit 'thin' sounding, 24 Jan 2014
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Originally had Drinking Gasoline on dble 12" with some pressing flaws ('pips' seemed to be quite common on Virgin Cabs vinyl around that time), which had a real punch to it. Then got the CD reissue, which sounded like all the life, and most of the bass, had been sucked out of it. It was crisp but unbelievably tinny sounding! This remastered reissue does go some way to improve on this, but disappointingly not as much as it arguably should have. "Sleepwalking" and "Ghost Talk" sound the most improved, slightly beefed up with some extra background elements far clearer in the mix. However "Kino", and to a lesser degree the excellent "Big Funk", are only slightly improved and still sound thin. A lot of this is down to the way these 4 tracks were produced, the original deep-grooved vinyl compensating, but this new CD doesn't quite deliver as much as it could have.

Its great to have Gasoline In Your Eye minus any vhs tracking issues, and constant stereo sound, and the imagery does seem to have been cleaned up quite a lot in transfer (even if the promo 12" edit of "I Want You" has some pixcellation at times). However the audio/visual tracking does seem to slip in vocal tracks such as "Crackdown", when Mal's lips are definitely well behind the soundtrack in places - more so than I recall on the vhs. The soundtrack is not remastered to the same degree as the audio releases, though it is pretty clean, and there is a rather nasty, albeit brief, pitch-shift in "Sleepwalking".

Nice photo-booklet and fold-out digipack sleeve - though the DVD is a bit difficult to access.

Overall this is definitely worth having for the DVD, for those who didn't really want to fork out for the box-set, even if it is now region-free NTSC (the originl vhs was PAL). I love Peter's work with these guys, and there are some quite accessible belters here!


The Crackdown (Remastered)
The Crackdown (Remastered)
Price: £12.72

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great transitional album - remaster adds only a little, 7 Jan 2014
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Having decided the 8 disc box-set price was just too much, as I had all 4 albums/EPs on original CD and a playable "Gasoline in Your Eye" vhs tape, it was good to see Mute releasing the 3 core albums individually too. I opted for Crackdown as it is the murkiest on original CD, in part due to it being such a transitional album - you get bright fairlight style handclaps in one dance track, and then evil-sounding guitars and ethnic tinged percussion in the next.

I am slightly under-awed by the remastering, but maybe there wasn't a great deal you could improve. Certainly some of the more organic tracks, "In The Shadows", "Over and Over" and "Haiti", plus the bonus EP 4-tracks at the end, do reveal elements I hadn't really noticed before, which is interesting, but the more synth-based tracks don't sound much crisper. I loved the opener "24-24", but comparing it to the original CD there's not much to tell the masters apart.

However the overall mastering of album and EP are very consistent, and not too loud/compressed, which is a real relief and shows the engineer wanted to remaster sensitively. It's just to my ears it doesn't sound as different as I'd hoped/expected.

As these single album releases are in the same packaging as the ones in the box, they are digi-packs with a slim booklet giving credits and a few treated versions of the cover shots. Interestingly they have chosen to replicate pretty much the vinyl album sleeve, rather than the original CD artwork, which is a nice touch.

It's a great album, and whilst the remaster is not jaw-dropping, it does reveal some percussive/bass extras on some tracks, whilst retaining a good listenable EQ.

The Cabs produced a slightly more commercial set in "Microphonies", before dropping any producer and releasing Gasoline/Covenant. "Crackdown" is the only CD that retains its full tracklisting, as the extras on the 2 later releases are featured elsewhere in the box set...except "Blue Heat" Tokes' 12" mix, which appears to have disappeared completely!


Gaudete - Christmas Card Edition
Gaudete - Christmas Card Edition
Price: £8.61

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some good mixes - including great MAPS remix "Sleep Quietly", 15 Dec 2013
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"Gaudete" is an interesting collision of tradional and electro-stomp, and the club remixes here do work quite well, apart for the R&G Instrumental, which seems a little pointless. For those who are not so keen on 4:4 the Storks remix is rather different, and the Alternative Version by Erasure strips out most of the heavy percussion, creating a far more intricate arrangement which fits in more with the other traditinal songs they did on the rather good "Snow Globe".

There is one other song remixed here, to over 7mins. MAPS have done a really good laid-back/ambient full vocal extension, with the original production very high in the mix. Their remix of Mode's "Should Be Higher" was one of my faves of that track (most of the mixes were too far removed...or dated club), and they do not disappoint with their take on this Erasure track either. Worth the price for that alone!

Shame there weren't a couple of other songs remixed here, but maybe there will be a second non-festive single in 2014 (here's hoping). The artwork is quirky, which adds to its charm.

The MP3 version includes a bonus club remix by Dave Aude, which sounded quite good from the sample - so if you're a completist you may want to buy that mix too!


The Luxury Gap [2CD+DVD]
The Luxury Gap [2CD+DVD]
Price: £18.23

4.0 out of 5 stars Great album and music - but not proper 12" mix of We Live So Fast, 9 Dec 2013
The 2006 remaster of the album really beefed up the sound, as was also true for "P&P" and "HMA", with some new liner notes and a few bonuses. Unfortunately one of the bonus mixes was incorrectly named (not the rare US only Dub, but the standard 12"), but other than that it was a tasty enough item. Following on from the great box-set of "P&P" what do we get with this 3rd CD issue of "Luxury Gap" that makes it worth a re-release?

- really nice packaging with cards of the single sleeves and a poster.
- the 12" versions (more on that later) all sitting on one disc, so fans of the album proper can listen as and when they want
- instrumental of Let Me Go, which I've not located on CD before
- bonus Dvd of the promos relating to the album, plus some unseen live versions
- great sound quality throughout (and not too loud), the album is from the 2006 remaster, some 12" are later remasters

However a few minor issues do slightly mar the experience, and these relate mainly to the Remixes disc.

- Temptation appears to have lost the choral gasp that certainly opened it on "Endless", and I recall also on my old 12" vinyl (maybe it didn't appear on the mini-CD). Whilst this was a shock to the system it would have been nice to have kept the mix in tact, as the fade-in note here does seem to indicate they may have cut this intro off!
- We Live So Fast is yet again taken straight from "Endless", so we get the slower Sanny-X Megamix outro beats speeding up and overlaying the proper of the original 12" version. This was the case on So80's H17 collection, and it may be the original 12" is not available in suitable quality, but it did appear in true form on the mini-CD single of the original 12", so no real excuses for such a blatant tampering with the original!! Very disappointing.
- golden opportunity missed to correct the error on the 2006 issue, and actually add the US Dub of Who'll Stop The Rain (which is around 6:50). Again maybe problems locating original tapes, but this is the rare 12" mix that many have not heard.
- No Lets All Make A Bomb/Song With No Name re-recordings (where else could they go?) from CLWMe 12". Bit of a shame.
- no demos (not even Temptation) or alternative takes/instrumentals
- rather brief and bland liner notes from Martyn

So a great album, and good remaster, but whilst CD2 is really nice to have, it could have been so much better put together. If you've not got the 2006 release then I would definitely recommend you get this box set, but if you have the earlier remaster then this is really only for completists (who don't mind a few gaps still present in their collection of 12" mixes).


Greatest Hits Of New Romantic
Greatest Hits Of New Romantic

3.0 out of 5 stars A lot of album versions rather than the hit singles!, 23 Nov 2013
Whilst this box-set does include some braver tracks/artists than several in this compilation genre it is a shame that the versions are not listed (although you can deduce from the MP download version). Whilst its nice to have "Sensoria" 12" here, the album versions of "Crushed By The Wheels" and at least 1 Simple Minds/Spandau Ballet track don't have the same energy as the "original hit" version. "Neon Lights" is also the long album version, though, as per "Sensoria", I'm really happy to see it on a mainstream market CD set.

Also the compiler has accidentally put the instrumental/dub "Love & Dancing" mix of Human League's "Love Action" on here, instead of the vocal version...hmmmm.

As with v/a compilations relative volumes are not levelled properly during compilation, although this was particularly only evident on a few tracks here (a very quiet "Karma Chameleon" opens proceedings, and a very loud "Wild Boys" on CD3 as examples).

Insert booklet is very simple, just track-listing/credits and some advert cover-shots of other EMI Best Ofs.

It is a pretty good set, mixing the usual suspects with a few more unusual, even if it omits anything by Depeche or Eurythmics!
However at full price there are plenty of other, and arguably better thought-out, 80's compilations, and even some stronger budget ones. Oddly the digital download version excludes all 3 Kraftwerk tracks (as well as re-ordering some of the others).


Rhapsody
Rhapsody
Price: £11.81

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting less-treated arrangements of varied tracks, 7 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Rhapsody (Audio CD)
This version of The Maths is the live line-up, with Hannah on Violin and guitarists augmenting a still majorly electronic group. Having seen them focus on Johns' harder material supporting OMD recently, which was a bit too intense after 45 minutes, this set is far more eclectic, and hence more enjoyable. The added guitars, although occasional, do lift the dynamics a bit.

There are still a few staples here, with John's vocals rawer and added real instruments, so something to please most of his fans.

Unfortunately the label forgot to credit the contributors in the actual artwork, so there is a sticker on the pvc sleeve, but I couldn't peel this off so once you've unwrapped the item their contribution is 'lost' forever!


Organisation/Omd/Architecture & Morality
Organisation/Omd/Architecture & Morality
Offered by rbmbooks
Price: £50.10

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice box packaging - standard 3 original CDs, 7 Nov 2013
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This is quite a nice item for OMD completists, but whilst these un-remastered original CDs sound 'ok' for "OMD" and "Architecture & Morality", "Organisation" seems quite boomy and hence murky if played at lower levels. The CDs are made in Austria for this release, and are special picture discs, whilst the artwork used is the original standard release (made in UK).

Worth having if you prefer quiter mastering on your CDs, although I would also recommend considering the more recent remasters, as they do sound crisper.


The Best Of Propaganda
The Best Of Propaganda
Price: £7.36

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great 2-cd selection - do not miss it (and new pressings are corrected!), 26 Oct 2013
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This review is from: The Best Of Propaganda (Audio CD)
Whilst there is nothing unreleased here, it does seem justified to have a 2-cd compilation. This is quite a good companion release to Noise & Girls (which included some unreleased versions) despite a few overlaps, and also brings together versions of all tracks on Secret Wish and most of Wishful Thinking! These are from the remastered ZTT/Salvo releases so the sound is great throughout, and the alternative track-listing makes this a worthwhile addition to any fan's collection. Initial pressings were mispressed so CD2 played the same 14 tracks as CD1, although the label and matrix were different - but the copy I have recently purchased on Amazon is fine, as the Record Company did a re-press early October.

The dubs/instrumentals and extended versions are often quite challenging, so CD1 is closer to a traditional best of, but CD2 is just as worthwhile. You get some new liner notes (Thein unfortunately passed away earlier this year) and a small foldout poster of the cover too! I would recommend this rather low-key budget release to anyone who had a passing interest in the band, purely based on the radio-played singles of the time, as well as ardent fans. Unusually for a compilation that itself compiles from recently released compilations/expanded versions, this 'Best Of' is arguably better than its recent predecessors - a rare quality!


Exhibition-Best of
Exhibition-Best of
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £23.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Definitive eraly compilation, and in nice phat box too!, 26 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Exhibition-Best of (Audio CD)
I originally had this on double LP, which didn't have as many tracks and although the artwork was great, the pressing quality wasn't (quite a lot of surface noise in quiet tracks - and it was brand new). Due to the track order not being chronological I have only just plumped for the CD version, having found one here at a reasonable price.

Features quite a lot of the punkier early material, as well as all the singles you'd expect and some key album tracks/b-sides. The running order still seems a little odd, but at least on CD you can program the tracks if you wish. Comes with nice inserts.


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