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M. B. Wilson "crushtrash" (Bristol)

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Love In The Age Of War
Love In The Age Of War
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 11.38

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good mix of synths and guitars - reliably MWH!, 18 Jun 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Love In The Age Of War (Audio CD)
Ivan and co come back after around 10 yrs to release this album, and it's very welcome. With a definite nod to the old synth-pop of "Rhythm of Youth" era, Dave Ogilvie has taken over the reins as producer, which gives the sound a slight, but not unwelcome, revamp.

They also make more use of the female vocals, this time Lou, so some tracks sound very different as a result. But the harmonies work well, and Ivan's brother Colin also contributes some backing vocals.

There are some really good tracks here, some being very immediate, others more subtle. Highlights for me at present are "Everybody Knows", "Your Beautiful Heart", "Live And Learn", "Close To The Sun" and "Love's Epiphany" - but there isn't a duff one on the album. The title track is arguably the weakest, a very odd mix of electro-buzzing synth and something almost akin to country'n'western guitar and vocal arrangements, but it does work.

Packaging for the worldwide Cobraside release (Canada had an earlier release) is standard digipack, with no booklet insert, but we do get a photo of the band with Ivan looking just a bit like Andrew Eldritch (Sisters of Mercy)!

Unfortunately brother Stefan (bass-player and producer on previous albums) has distanced himself from this project, but being just primarily Ivan does not invalidate this incarnation. There have been many line-ups over the years, and essentially MWH need Ivan's vocals. There is more than enough real MWH 'vibe' here to justify the band's name. Hopefully any differences will be sorted out though, and we may even get another album with all 3 brothers back on board (but not another 10 yr wait, please).

Suffice to say when the title track suddenly finished the first time I heard this CD I felt the album had been a bit too short, which is always a good sign! Check it out.

Price: 11.49

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some good tracks, some not so good - but worth a listen, 10 Jun 2012
This review is from: Brilliant (Audio CD)
Many 80s acts still do the rounds, and usually the key aspect is their vocalist - have they still got it? From my own 'usual suspects' list I find: Phil Oakey, Glenn Gregory, John Foxx - all pretty much sound the same as they did early 80s. Dave Gahan and Green Gartside both arguably sound better now than they did back then, with new vocal depth and feeling, whereas Debbie Harry still cuts it when she 'rocks out', but can sound rather frail (and a wee bit disappointing) on the slow softer vocal numbers. And Midge? For me he slips into the Debbie Harry category, so when the range is right, and it's an uptempo track, he sounds really good, but the slow close-up stuff can be a really uncomfortable listen (however many studio effects are added to create atmosphere).

A new Ultravox album after so long was always going to divide their fan-base - would they keep to the same formula or radically change their sound (like they did on U-Vox), and most importantly would Midge's voice have changed? Due to his original power and range it would not be fair to expect him to sound identical to their 80s heyday, but whilst some tracks on this album work really well, I'm afraid to say others fall short of the mark.

I put off buying this album after hearing the samples on Amazon, the first few tracks sounded good and then we got the frail sounding new vocals that were clearly Midge, but a much older Midge. This also allowed me to read the ever-growing list of reviews, as initially they all glowed before a few later buyers felt they must reset the balance (and that's what the review section is for).

However I'm glad I did plump for it in the end as there are some real corkers on here, akin closest to Quartet era pop-sensibility wise I think (Lament was much darker and brilliantly brooding, Rage was just in a class of its own). Even some of the slow tracks, where Midge's vocal limitations are most obvious, are growers, but I feel the problem is there are far too many of those on this album. I like the first 6 tracks as is, including Remembering (it's slow but Midge sounds assured and there's little vocal treatment), but then the pace and interest drops too much until we get to the brilliant Lie (which would work really well as the album closer). Before then we have One, which almost made me cringe, and the ok-ish Fall, saved primarily by it's industrial scraping noises and general brooding ambience. Following Lie we have Satellite, which is a little too pop to finish off proceedings, and finally we have Contact. For me this is the worst example of Midge's 'new voice', and along with One the production only seems to make matters worse. This track has little charm and no real emotional resonance, so all in all the album goes out on a whimper...

Ofcourse each listener will have their preferences, but I feel this album would've been tighter if 2 slow tracks had been dropped (Contact and One) and Satellite had moved in between Remembering (a real grower) and Hello, or after Hello.

My faves at present are Live, Flow, Brilliant, Change, Remembering and Lie (play that one loud), but I am already finding Fall is growing on me, so the others may over future listens. Give this album a few chances and you might be pleasantly surprised too!

When the guys get it right, including Steve Lipson, this album shines, but it was always going to be a difficult balancing act!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 25, 2012 5:18 PM BST

No Hats Beyond This Point
No Hats Beyond This Point
Price: 7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Quirky but catchy stuff (last album with original producer), 8 Jun 2012
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Short and quite sweet, this is MWH in new synth form, so we get production with some unusual sounds and greater intricacy.
However as a result it sounds a little sterile in places, as any guitar/strings are treated within an inch of their life. No real stand-outs, but it all runs smoothly and is an enjoyable (almost) return to form. This is the last album Stefan was involved in, and the new 2010 line-up (plus 2012 album) have divided the brothers, though Colin has contributed some backing vocals. Their 2012 album is much rougher sounding, and dare I say it, more energetic/enthusiastic and enjoyable.

This 2003 album is almost impossible to find on CD but the MP3s I purchased (pre Cloud/1-Click) were fine, and a reasonable price. Have since located a cheap CD and the artwork/lyrics really do make it a bit more special, as the artists intended!

Dare/Fascination! [Deluxe Edition]
Dare/Fascination! [Deluxe Edition]
Price: 9.00

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great album and bonus music - but some remastering/transfer issues, 8 Jun 2012
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Dare is unquestionably one of the pivotal albums of the early 80s, and I even have the original deluxe cassette version somewhere as it was the first album I bought! I also have the 2002 Anniversary issue on CD so any comparisons will be made with that later on. Most of the music here is great and pure 5-star territory, but the review is for the item you buy....

Another reissue, with only one unreleased track (the alternative/early mix of DYWM), is this really worth it? In one way, definitely yes, the box and inserts are very nicely done, and you get all the vinyl only/MP3 extras from Fascination/Mirror Man era (well, almost, Hard Times vocal doesn't get included, though the arguably better dub/instr mix does). On paper this looks great, and the box comes stickered with "2012 Remaster..." so we can assume it's going to have been done with the due care deserved, as this is surely the last re-release of this album we'll see!

I could not find the name of the remastering engineer anywhere, but as some fonts used are very small maybe someone else will. I also recall some recent listings stating the album itself is taken from the 2002 Remaster, but the sticker on the box implies a revamp for 2012, as did the inserts on the pre-release promo copies. For those who dread very loud remasters/transfers this is unlikely to be the reissue you were hoping for though:

1) Everything is very loud - however disc 2 and the album proper seem to survive ok (I listened through decent headphones)
2) The left-hand drop-out on the first line second verse Open Your Heart "And So You..." is still there, but seems to have been looked at. It's a lot less noticable than on my 2002 CD, so nice to see someone may have tried to clean it up a bit!
3) All tracks have been set to similar (albeit very loud) volume levels on both discs, so you don't have to keep adjusting when it comes to bonus material. The compilers have done a good job here.
4) Through headphones the intro beats, and breaks, in Sound Of The Crowd 12" sound awful! There are also some parts of the Instrumental of the same track that don't sound clean. Initially I thought it was a manufacturing fault on my copy, but as all the surrounding tracks, and the album version, are fine it appears this may be down to the source material used. At times the extra noises make it sound like these two tracks are taken from some mis-tracking 12" vinyl, or a degraded master. The beats on the RHS are accompanied by some rather nasty echoes, and to a lesser degree on the LHS, which for me spoilt the intro and other breaks totally. This seems inexcusable as they delayed this release so many times, and the sound on "Original Remixes" compilation, whilst not remastered, is far cleaner (though there is a bit of extra noise in the intro, but it's much quieter). The 12" version also appeared on an early 80s/12" compilation, so something odd appears to have happened on this release. However, once these tracks get going the sound is ok, as the beats are deep in the mix. It'll be interesting to see if any other reviewers have the same problem on their copies.

The track order on CD2 is a little unusual as it doesn't follow the vinyl EP, but tracks have been shuffled so you don't get two versions of the same song side by side, and it does include the great You Remind Me Of Gold instr/dub!

I found the liner notes a little disappointing, and the lyrics almost unreadable due to font size/colours, which seems a shame.

Sorry guys, I love this album, and nearly everything the various HL incarnations have done, but this reissue is not quite what it should've been. Still worth the entry price though.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 23, 2014 7:50 PM BST

Hollywood Cuts (The Remixes)
Hollywood Cuts (The Remixes)
Price: 7.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Great originals, strong remixes (and extra dubs than dble CD), 2 Jun 2012
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Having been very wary of buying the elusive 2-CD set after problems elsewhere I decided to plump for the MP3 version instead, even if there is no artwork or bonus photo-booklet. The MP3s I've played back so far all sound great, and you get the full remix album plus a further 8 tracks on the download version! Whilst most of these are dubs, generally the quality is still high (Doorly Dub of Candy Coated Crime being the exception, the pitchshifted vocal loop is just plain annoying and too loud). The Terranova remixes and Doorly Remix (vocal) of same track are all really good full vocal mixes, and the I'm Not Simone Chule "New Moon Can Dance Mix" is an interesting upgrade to their "New Moon Rising Mix" - again it is a full vocal.

I chose to split into 2 albums for listening, following the Hollywood Cuts CD listing for the first, and then rearranging the extra 8 tracks (to split up Candy Coated Crime with other tracks) on second, and am very happy with this remix project.

If you have the original album then initially focus on the vocal remixes in the download of Hollywood Cuts, but don't dismiss the dubs/extras, bar one previously mentioned (in my case!!).

Well done Billie and all the remixers for creating a varied remix set, with emphasis on club anthems ofcourse!

Greatest Hits
Greatest Hits
Price: 7.90

5.0 out of 5 stars Does what it says on the tin (and great mastering too), 4 May 2012
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This review is from: Greatest Hits (Audio CD)
For a 'budget' best of this packs a punch. Not only does it focus on the cream of Billy's ouput, but also includes a Simple Mind's cover version that was made for him (ie it sounds great). The real plus on this disc is the mastering, which is sympathetic yet crisp and punchy. I am a casual Idol fan to be honest, remembering the classics "Eyes Without A Face", "Rebel Yell" (both here is full length) and "White Wedding", but the rest of the stuff is good too.

Love And A Million Other Things
Love And A Million Other Things
Price: 19.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Strong album, but get the remaster (not the original CD), 4 May 2012
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Strong pop outing which showcased Claudia's vocals beautifully, but also alienated some of her early fans.

The copy I have is the original CD, and to be honest the vinyl sounds crisper! I haven't heard the remastered double set, but suspect it is worth the extra pounds if you want the best version to listen to.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 27, 2012 4:16 PM BST

Under The Iron Sea [Limited Edition] [CD+DVD]
Under The Iron Sea [Limited Edition] [CD+DVD]

3.0 out of 5 stars Good album but DVD not continuous-play, 4 May 2012
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The album is very good, but unlike the special edition of Hopes & Fears we get a DVD here that, due to the format of the tracks, cannot be played continuously. As such you can play audio tracks or video tracks (at leat on my player) so there was no flow, which would've been the case if the second disc had been an audio CD.

Packaging is nice though, and the extra tracks/video are interesting. Just found the DVD set-up a bit frustrating!

Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: 10.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Good back-to-basics collection with only a couple of oddities, 4 May 2012
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This review is from: Electronic (Audio CD)
The track-listing omits the usual top-level acts but does include some nice gems, including Godley & Creme's "Under Your Thumb",Fad Gadgets "Ricky's Hand", Bill Nelson's "Furniture Music" (a first for me) and tracks by Yazoo, Erasure, AFOS (borderline electronic arguably), New Musik, Japan (the slow funkier 12" of "Life In Tokyo", not the supercharged Moroder disco versions later released) et al. No Kraftwerk, Mode etc. Quite what Dio are doing in there is anyone's guess, as it sticks out like a very sore thumb, but bearing in mind this is a 4-CD set one or two oddities are to be expected.

Not everything is pure Electronic, but the vibe is very much there throughout and this is a strong set for the car or the stereo. Probably not mainstream enough for your 80s retro party tho!

Best of
Best of
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: 21.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Great tracklisting / mixes - mastering a bit shrill?, 4 May 2012
This review is from: Best of (Audio CD)
Comparing this to the CMC "Very Best Of" compilation, released the same year and licensed from Oglio (who had released 2-on-1 CD of first 2 albums in full), the "Collection" wins hats down on track-listing. Aside from the slightly iffy "Hey Men" this features single after single, through the first few albums, and then round things off with 3 extended versions - very nice indeed. Later compilations omit "I Got The Message" extended, which is a good reason to pick this one instead. It also features a real gem of a cover version, a spikey and humourous take on Roxy Music's "Editions Of You". I was worried about this until I heard it, it really works surprisingly well, and the weird 'sexy siren's wail' sound effect is hilarious!

The artwork is very informative (a booklet) and features lyrics as well as production details. This release is 'mastered' (no mention of remastering) and whilst it is very crisp/clean the bass is almost totally removed. Furthermore some of the treble elements (like the vocoder pitched-harmony effect on "Living In China") almost sound like they are distorting. Comparing this to the CMC compilation the latter wins hands down sound-wise, as it's really beefy. The volume on "Collection" is also quite low, which is not a bad thing, but does accentuate the 'shrillness' of the mastering when you turn it up. Hence 4 stars.

Despite the EQing, which happens to not be to my taste, this is a great compilation, and worth tracking down as long as the price is right! The CMC compilation is also great, although that is really a condensing of the first 2 albums into one disc.

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