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Thomas H. Moody "Music Enthusiast" (Nobleboro, ME United States)

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Dreamchild [The Cult Movie Collection] [DVD]
Dreamchild [The Cult Movie Collection] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ian Holm
Price: £12.79

5.0 out of 5 stars "Dreamchild" fell into my Top 10 favorite movies upon its initial US release, 8 Mar. 2015
"Dreamchild" fell into my Top 10 favorite movies upon its initial US release. (I saw it at the much beloved Nickolodean Theatres in Boston, Mass.back when art-house movie theatres were in vogue. Sadly, they now seem to have gone the way of the dinosaur.) The film has remained within my top 10 favs still to this day. The reason why I still adore it is as much for what it says in its multi-layered story, both beautifully acted out and filmed, and as much for what it doesn't say. The films that I find are lasting are the films that leave one haunted by what they have seen and emotionally experienced. I'm sure not everyone who saw "Dreamchild" found that it haunted them - or possibly even spoke to them on any level. However, there were many who did (and still do) find the film profound and thought provoking. I remember leaving the theatre after seeing "Dreamchild" and feeling sort of speechless, in a dumbstruck kind of way. Yes, I was haunted - jut like the elderly Alice was in the film.

Since its release the film has sadly fallen into obscurity, more or less. That fact is a shame. I was happy to have gotten the MGM US DVD release even though its a CD-R product. Better that than nothing - which until then was the case in terms of a DVD release. Now I see that this new UK release by 101 Films also seems to be a DVD-R. I was hoping that it would be an embedded version of the film. I will probably grab a copy of this release as well although its probably not much different than the MGM release, although I see that it is in widescreen. (Multi-region DVD players are quite easy to come by and not at all expensive. I've always gotten mine on eBay.)

If anyone has any remarks on this new UK release I'd like to hear about them in the comments to my post. And now....if only SOMEONE would release on DVD the wonderful UK film "After The Fair." It was broadcast in the US on Masterpiece Theatre. I've found a very rudimentary copy of the film on YouTube, but would like to see a nice release of it. Hello, BBC? Hello, PBS?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 25, 2015 10:51 AM BST

Won't Be Long Now
Won't Be Long Now
Price: £13.63

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars With Her Plaintive, Yet Formidible Voice, Linda Thompson Delivers a Firm & Very Fine Recording, 17 Dec. 2013
This review is from: Won't Be Long Now (Audio CD)
In her written notes for "Won't Be Long Now" Linda Thompson writes that when Martin Scorsese heard that she was contributing a track to his Film "Gangs Of New York" he responded by saying that he thought she was dead. Well, her fans have known that she is very much alive ever since she reappeared back on the music scene (after a seventeen year hiatus) with the critically acclaimed recording "Fashionably Late" in 2002. The fact that she has struggled with a vocal condition known as dysphonia since 1985 made that comeback all the more special. It wouldn't be for another 5 years (2007) before Thompson released another full recording, 2007's "Versatile Heart." Now after another 6 years, comes "Won't Be Long Now," which this "critic" finds is probably her finest solo effort.

What has always set Linda Thompson apart from many other singers is her ability to convey emotion with her stark, blunt and mostly unadorned voice. There is no histrionic singing here- there doesn't have to be. With any song sung by Linda Thompson, one doesn't usually "get "the emotional power of her singing upfront. Listening to her is a kind of organic process that has to sink in. Often the impact of her delivery or interpretation of a song isn't fully realized until the piece has concluded. Then the full power of what's been heard sort of hits one up-side the head in a rather profound way. One is left with an understanding of what gravitas is. That's not to say that Thompson's singing is disengaging by any means, because quite the opposite is true. One always senses full engagement in a Linda Thompson performance. I don't think she's capable of singing something that she isn't fully involved with - emotionally or vocally.

"Won't Be Long Now" is a more sparse recording instrumentally than her previous solo albums and there's more of a return to a traditional British atmosphere. Yet ,with only a couple of exceptions, the songs here are all newly written. The less background accompaniment seems to give Thompson more freedom in her singing. It's nowhere more obvious than in the opening track "Love's For Babies And Fools" where she's simply joined by her ex, Richard Thompson on acoustic guitar. (It's also one of the best tracks in my humble opinion.) And there's a live unaccompanied performance of "Blue Bleezin' Blind Drunk" which may leave one a bit shocked for its graphic description of spousal abuse.

Besides RT, there's plenty of other musical royalty here - both British and American. British stalwarts such as Martin Carthy, his daughter Eliza Carthy, Susan McKeown, Dave Swarbrick and John Doyle join the fray. Meanwhile the names from the American shores are a crop of younger musicians, some who who have received their musical chops from their legendary parents, such as Amy Helm (daughter of Levon Helm) and Jenni Muldaur (daughter of Geoff and Maria Muldaur.) There's contribution from the talented Sam Amidon, Tony Trischka and Glen Patscha. And the most important participants are Linda's own children Teddy, Kami and Muna Thompson and grandson Zak Hobbs. Linda's family is the foundation that she's built her "comeback" career on.

The order of songs is well paced. Just before things seem too dire, we get a jaunty version of Anna McGarrigle and Chaim Tannenbaum's "Fast As My Little Feet" sung by the whole Thompson family. Later we're lifted up by the jolly "Mr. Tams." The two longest songs, "If I were a Bluebird" (co-written with Ron Sexsmith) with lovely harmony from Amy Helm and "Never The Bride" are the songs which anchor the recording, while Teddy Thompson's "It Won't Be Long Now" is a rather swift closing. The song lyrically leaves one to come to their own conclusion as to what "won`t be long now."

While Scorsese may have thought Linda Thompson had gone to the great beyond, this recording tells us that she indeed has not! Rather, she's delivered one of the best recordings of the year.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 2, 2014 10:28 AM GMT

Lorraine at Emmanuel: Bach Cantatas / Handel Arias
Lorraine at Emmanuel: Bach Cantatas / Handel Arias
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £12.22

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Their Artistry Is Their Legacy, 7 Sept. 2008
As a Boston resident from 1985-1994, I attended numerous Emmanuel Music events ranging from the Sellars production of Handel's "Giulio Cesare" (brought to Boston by Sarah Caldwell & the Opera Company of Boston) to several of the weekly Bach Cantatas that they performed Sundays at the Emmanuel Church services. I even returned to Boston once to specifically hear the ensemble's performance of Handel's "Solomon."

Emmanuel Music, under the directorship of its founder Craig Smith, never made much of a misstep in any of its performances. Undoubtedly the people who played and sang for Smith did so out of a love for the ensemble and a high respect, admiration of and love for him. The performances were outstanding because the performers were driven to perform for the experience and the musical involvement Smith provided them with, not for great sums of money.

Craig Smith was not a flashy showman kind of conductor (in fact he was quite the opposite) and one always suspected that he might be a bit eccentric in an endearing sort of way. However, what he was was a musician/conductor searching for truth in music and in character. And it's in that regard that he singularly stood out - not just in Boston, but also internationally. He always paid great attention to the finest of details in the music he conducted and he knew how to get refined, genuine and transcendent performances from those working with him. He was, in some regards, one of the musical world's best kept secrets.

I first heard Lorraine Hunt (later Lorraine Hunt Lieberson) in her phenomenal performance of Sesto in the Sellars' "Giulio Cesare" in Boston. I heard her on several other occasions as well, including a commanding performance of Cleopatra in Handel's oratorio "Alexander Balus" with Emmanuel Music under Smith's direction.

It could be argued that no one knew how to conduct Hunt Lieberson better than Smith. Likewise it could be said that Hunt Lieberson excelled in her singing for Smith, who had played such a crucial role in the rise of her vocal career, because they were musically on "the same page." She had evolved out of Smith's brand of musicality while individually searching for and finding command of her own voice and interpretative skills.

This recording is taken from the archives of Emmanuel Music (I wonder what else they have sitting around waiting for the world to hear) and is a tribute to both Smith and Hunt Lieberson. As expected from both of these artists, the performances here are more than "lovely", "pretty" or "splendid". What they are is music at its elemental truth - a representation of the finest of these two artists. These performances take the listener to the place in music where truth and art are whispered to them - not shouted. Here, both musicians understand that less is more when one knows how to strip away the gimmicks that music sometimes has thrust on it by conductors and/or performers.

The orchestra has a bit of a hollow sound to it, but the sound is quite true to what the performances at the Emmanuel Church sanctuary sounded like. Emmanuel's main sanctuary is quite large and Smith generally had a very small orchestra.If one likes recorded performances miked close, then the orchestral sound may be a bit of a disappointment. However, don't think that the "hollow" sound detracts any from the detail or articulation of the performances. Furthermore, these are live performances that were probably never intended to be internationally released. (But maybe any other recorded performances should be. The "Alexander Balus"?)

For those of us who heard Emmanuel Music so often, the recording is bittersweet. Somehow one thought Craig Smith and the ensemble would go on forever. It was simply expected. The same can be said for Hunt Lieberson. Who thought such a glorious voice would ever be silenced. But they both have passed on now. However Emmanuel Music still thrives - and I expect will continue to do so even though it may have to mourn for awhile. But I have no doubt that they will prosper because of Smith's dedication and love of them and because of their dedication and love of him.

If you have ever wondered what all the fuss was about regarding Emmanuel Music, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson or Craig Smith, this recording should stop that wondering. One rarely hears such refined and soulful performances. The Bach is sublime and Dejanira's arias from "Hercules" are, to this listener, without peer in their execution, depth, and character. The "Mad Scene" is stunning! This release will likely make many "best of " lists for 2008.

Although I never met or knew any of the members of Emmanuel Music, I will forever remember and treasure their gifts to me.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 12, 2012 6:06 PM BST

Holy Heathens And The Old Green Man
Holy Heathens And The Old Green Man
Price: £9.89

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Gem From Waterson:Carthy, 5 Dec. 2006
always look forward to a new Waterson:Carthy recording because I love the genre of music they choose to record and I `m a big fan of their interpretive styles, skills and sound.

Their latest release, "Holy Heathens and The Old Green Man", is obviously a "Christmas' recording, but I use the word "Christmas" here with hesitation because the overall impression left by the work is much more expansive than the singlular idea of Christmas day. In the world of Waterson:Carthy, this time of year is time to have some merriment, some spiritual reflection, a look at one's moral compass, and to partake in some darn good music!

The choice of material is (as usual for this gang) truly inspired and it's hard to pick favorites. Martin Cathy's take on the unusual "Christ Made A Trance" and Eliza Carthy's reading of her uncle Mike Waterson's "Jack Frost" are two tracks that leave big impressions. Also Norma's leading of the troupe in the opening "Residue" makes for a grand entrance.

Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson have always appeared to be generous to those younger musicians following in their footsteps and it's never shown more clearly than here. Tim Van Eycken, who has been part of their group for the last few years, makes his farewell performance with them here. (He released a wonderful solo album just a few months ago.) His performance of "On Christmas Day It Happened So" is another high point of the recording. Van Eyken delivers this bleak, blunt song in a manner reminiscent of June Tabor's approach to this kind of piece - placing sentimentality in back of the notion of letting the story and song speak for itself.

Waterson:Carthy also introduce the trio The Devil's Interval into their fold for this recording. (The Devil's Trio didn't just appeared out of nowhere. They've recorded some well-done group and solo projects.) Their added voices give a new heft to the ensemble singing and they're given some prominence in some numbers as well. (Keep your eyes - and ears - on Jim Causley. He may have a nice career ahead of him in this early repertoire if he chooses.) They particularly leave a mark on the lovely "The Falling Tear" (or, as its more often called, "When Jesus Wept") by the late 18th century American hymnist/composer William Billings of Boston. This is certainly one of Billings more beautiful melodies (along with his "Africa") and the group does a fine job with it. (Boston, and New England in general, was a hotbed of the early American hymn in the late 18th century. This group of composers was the forerunners of the Sacred Harp school. Some may argue that assertion, but....)

Here one will also find some "Christmas songs" that they think they know, such as "While Shepherds Watched" and "The Cherry Tree Carol", but will find them much transfigured and exposed as to how they were probably tossed about in the old days. There's also a great performance of "Diadem" here that strips the piece of its "churchiness" and gives it back it earthy quality. It gave me goose bumps when I heard it!

Another American hymnist is tapped into for the closing. Ira D. Sankey's "Gloryland, led by Eliza, is not simply lovely, it's downright inspirational in its directness. Sankey, who could compose some lovely hymns (as well as his share of maudlin ones), is at his best here. "Gloryland" is not a well-known composition of his, but after hearing Waterson:Carthy's take on it, I imagine there will be people searching it out.

Anyway, if you love good music without pretense, schmaltz, or over production, then treat yourself this season to "Holy Heathens and The Old Green Man."

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