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The London Sessions
The London Sessions
Price: £9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Another lesson learned, 26 Nov 2014
This review is from: The London Sessions (Audio CD)
In early 2014, Mary J. Blige recorded vocals for a remix version of "F for you", a song by British electronic garage-house duo Disclosure. The remix was re-recorded for release as a single and became a Top 10 hit on the UK Dance Chart. Inspired by its response, Blige moved to London where she spent a month recording in RAK studios, collaborating with a host of young British acts. These sessions resulted in a whole new album, one which is set to rejuvenate MJB's career; she is coming hard with it, totally reinventing her sound. From her urban hip-hop days next to P. Diddy to Disclosure's deep house, she has come a long way. Often accustomed to, but not worn out by personal hardship, MJB is synonymous with soul-baring honesty and a roller-coaster range of emotions. "The London sessions" is sheer proof of her evolution as an artist, a great example on how music has no boundaries. Personal favourite tracks include "Right now", mixing her deep, heartfelt vocals with Disclosure's smooth yet detached production (works a treat), and "Doubt", a pure, raw, anthemic ballad so real, it hurts (not since her "No more drama" days have I heard this much emotion from her). Shaping up to be one of her best albums, she did right taking a leap of faith. "I was never expected to do more, jump further, move the extra mile. But breaking boundaries happened for me... And I won't stop as long as I live.". Damn right.


Biophilia Live
Biophilia Live
Price: £21.48

5.0 out of 5 stars Bjorkphilia, 26 Nov 2014
This review is from: Biophilia Live (Audio CD)
The "Biophilia" project began as a planned 3D film with Bjork's longtime creative collaborator, Michel Gondry, eventually materialized by directors Nick Fenton and Peter Strickland. When "Biophilia" was released in October 2011, even by Bjork's increasingly esoteric standards, it was a hard album for fans to digest (3 years on, even avid Bjork fans, like myself, stand aloof towards it). Bjork had then talked about a multimedia project encompassing music, applications, the internet, installations and live shows, only enhancing the idea of her avant-guard nature. This exploration of the intersection of music, nature and technology, using a broad variety of digital and traditional instruments, is "Biophilia Live".

Recorded live at London's Alexandra Palace in September 2013, on the final night of a 2-year tour, this critically acclaimed film records the multi-dimensional concert centered on Bjork's homonymous studio album, exploring its human element. Watching the fascinating spectacle of this live performance, proves extremely enlightening as regards to understanding and appreciating the concept behind biophilia; it is only after witnessing these that it starts to make some - or full even - sense, to the extent of being hailed as an imaginative, captivating audio-visual project. Most certainly the stunning visuals employed in the show prove most vital, just like Bjork's presence, an inextricable component in the whole project.

Although her direct interaction with the audience is minimal, her emotional connection to the songs is compelling, with the directors marvelously framing her physicality and facial expressions, making the contact between the artist and the audience, stronger and deeper. Dressed in a futuristic bubble-wrap costume, wearing a frizzy, rainbow-coloured wig, shrieking and wailing - often simultaneously (!) -, the embodiment of boisterous tranquility, with her charming childlike enthusiasm and wonder, she provides some of the show's most sublime moments ("Isobel"'s haunting hymnlike performance has to be one of her all-time finest, and the disarming sensual intimacy of "Hidden place" - interestingly enough, both no "Biophilia" tracks).

One cannot help but be impressed by this revolutionary artistic creation, another triumph on Bjork's trajectory. Biophilia (a Greek word meaning "love of living") is a groundbreaking multimedia extravaganza of a project from a visionary artist who, 21 years into her solo career, remains unpredictable and magnetic. It could not have been conceived or executed by any other than Bjork. Even though the film cannot replicate the immersive experience of actually witnessing a concert, if some still find it impossible to enjoy "Biophilia", in her own words" "One day, it will happen. One day, it will all make sense.". Possibly. Maybe. To me this is 2014's best live package.

Tracklisting:

CD 1

01. Oskasteinn
02. Thunderbolt
03. Moon
04. Crystalline
05. Hollow
06. Dark matter
07. Hidden place
08. Virus
09. Possibly maybe
10. Mouth's cradle

CD 2

01. Isobel
02. Sonnets/Unrealities
03. Mutual core
04. Cosmogony
05. Solstice
06. One day
07. Nattura
08. Declare independence
09. Sacrifice
10. Bat sounds

Bluray

01. Oskasteinn
02. Thunderbolt
03. Moon
04. Crystalline
05. Hollow
06. Dark matter
07. Hidden place
08. Virus
09. Possibly maybe
10. Mouth's cradle
11. Isobel
12. Sonnets/Unrealities
13. Mutual core
14. Cosmogony
15. Solstice
16. One day
17. Nattura
18. Declare independence
19. Sacrifice
20. Bat sounds


Ghost Stories Live 2014
Ghost Stories Live 2014
Price: £16.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ghosts envisioned, 25 Nov 2014
This review is from: Ghost Stories Live 2014 (Blu-ray)
Documenting the band's unique performance of the "Ghost stories" album to an exclusive audience of fans in March 2014, "Ghost stories Live 2014" presents Coldplay's ground-breaking production, nominated for Best Live Coverage at this year's UK Music Video Awards. Shot in a custom-built amphitheatre at Sony Studios, in LA, and filmed by Grammy-nominated director Paul Dugdale, it is a most enjoyable spectacle, capturing this very special occasion. Frontman Chris Martin said that this sequenced film is basically the band's originally conceived idea: a visual representation of the "Ghost stories" album. Listening to these songs while watching the overhead imagery, actually feels much more satisfying than just listening to the immersive dreamlike soundscape of the album which, ever since its release, leaves me with the impression that is void of a certain something. After watching "Ghost stories Live", I may have found some missing element; this visual seems to be working as a great companion to it. The release also contains an exclusive live album, recorded between April and July 2014 at the band's shows in London, Sydney, Paris, Cologne, NY and LA. The package is completed by 8 music videos, including 2 films for B-Sides "All your friends" and "Ghost story", plus the extended director's cut of the "Magic" video. Beautiful, enjoyable, "Ghost stories Live" is Coldplay's finest moment.


Love Has Many Faces: A Quartet, A Ballet, Waiting To Be Danced
Love Has Many Faces: A Quartet, A Ballet, Waiting To Be Danced
Price: £31.99

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Generational Joni, 24 Nov 2014
Taking into account the fact that concision is not Joni Mitchell's forte, one can imagine how impossible a task it was condensing 40 years of recodings into a mere disc, as was originally intended. She was obviously expected to fail, while trying to distill her own back catalogue down to a single, ballet-themed disc. So, here is a 4-act ballet based on 53 songs that make up this stunning collection, organized into different thematic acts, with many sonic adjustments, presented in a glorious box set. The process, she says, was a lot like making a film. "I had forty years of footage to review. Then, suddenly, scenes began to hook up, ...themes began to develop. Moods sustained. I was getting there... When this long editorial process (two years) finally came to rest, I had four ballets or a four-act ballet - a quartet. I also had a box set.". We now have it, and it is nothing short of amazing.

Compiled, annotated, and designed by herself, the hardback book contains 53 songs spread on 4 discs, with their lyrics printed on the book's glossy pages, 6 new paintings, and an extensive autobiographical text, illuminating aspects of the recording process. Showcasing her wisdom and intelligence, through the soulful and jazz-inflected music created over the years, and with emphasis given on material from her overlooked albums (this is the only fault of this astonishing collection, ie "Cactus tree", "Big yellow taxi" and "Woodstock" are some glaring ommisions),"Love..." is a long overdue career-retrospective. It stands as a gorgeous potrait of this most idiosyncratic artist, whose legacy will not cease to amaze me, despite my age. "Love has many faces", indeed, but this particular album is a labour of love that has the face of an archetypal singer/songwriter stamped all over it. Joni genius.


Re-Classified
Re-Classified
Price: £10.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not first class but working on it, 24 Nov 2014
This review is from: Re-Classified (Audio CD)
The release of "Re-classified" is rather puzzling, as it is neither a new album, nor an EP. With 7 songs already featured on previous versions of "The new classic", the 5 brand new cuts ("We in this b*tch", "Beg for it", "Trouble", "Iggy SZN", "Heavy crown") could be the second disc on a repackaged version of Iggy's debut album. Anyway. More than half of the songs on Iggy's first album were about her experiences making it in music, and how cool she is. On here she is getting all materialistic, further bragging about her new-found success. No surprise then, since she certainly has strong energy and confidence to support this persona. However, she is also enjoyable, and even more relatable, when she becomes more introspective, showing that she has potential for making music that is equally substantial and impactful. For the time being she is offering delicious hits, which is fine. I just wish that her thematology becomes more varied in the future, and not just boast about superficial acquisitions. That is when she will become a real "class" act.


Listen
Listen
Price: £9.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Guetta listen to this!, 24 Nov 2014
This review is from: Listen (Audio CD)
For "Listen", his follow-up to 2011's smash "Nothing but the beat", David Guetta said that he changed his working methods, building tracks acoustically rather than adding vocals to a beat. Whatever the method, the result is as impressive as ever. As with any DG album, the list of collaborators is nothing short of stellar. Many of the tracks may utilise familiar formulas, but when they sound this good it is anything but negative. In fact, what I enjoy most about the new album is the creativity with which he pushes the musical envelope with some tracks and the artists that he chooses to collaborate with. Mixing dance, pop and electronica, fantastic beats, killer hooks and a sprinkling of powerful vocals, he has crafted a truly phenomenal dance album, filled with potential smash hits. Lead single "Dangerous" featuring Sam Martin is so out of left field that had me taken aback by its stunning brilliance. But it is "The whisperer", his new collaboration with Sia, that will really catch everyone off guard (unless anyone is expecting a piano ballad from him). He may be accused for producing formulaic EDM, but he sure is the golden goose churning out golden egg after golden egg. This might as well be a platinum one.


Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas
Offered by Japan-Select
Price: £50.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All I want for Christmas is this!, 23 Nov 2014
This review is from: Merry Christmas (Audio CD)
Ever since 1994, there is one Christmas album that I keep buying religiously every year for the seasonal gifts. That is Mariah Carey's "Merry Christmas". Cheerful, jolly, a little melancholic too, beautifully assembled inside-out, a perfect package. Although her second attempt with "Merry Christmas II you" failed to excite me as much, Mariah's poppy vibe is a guaranteed winner. There you have a wonderful collection of festive classics as well as some new cuts (that are 20 years old by now!), beautifully executed and presented in new old-fashioned style. Mariah's voice is a perfect instrument suitable for those trademark ballads she is best loved for, as well as for traditional numbers. Single "All I want for Christmas is you" is a true Christmas classic, only topped by the Wham's "Last Christmas", which is arguably the most Christmas associated festive song; but her version of "O Holy Night", is also spectacular, just like her fittingly subdued version of "Silent Night" and the melancholic, new-penned "Miss you most (At Christmas time)". Many artists have subsequently presented festive albums, however, Mariah's gorgeous collection of religious and secular songs remains unsurpassed.

(Loreena McKennitt's "A midwinter night's dream", and Tori Amos' "Midwinter graces" are both strongly recommended, those are more subtle affairs, ideal for those who enjoy quiet and introspective listenings. George Michael's "December song" is also a favourite.)

Right then, I'm off to order a few more copies! Merry Christmas, everyone, 'tis the season to be jolly!


Nothing Has Changed
Nothing Has Changed
Price: £13.00

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From zig-a-zig-ah to Ziggy, 17 Nov 2014
This review is from: Nothing Has Changed (Audio CD)
Up until a few years ago, the only "zig" I knew was the Spice Girls' "zig-a-zig-ah!" (teenage fixations are dangerous). Listening to these 59 tracks, cleverly presented in reverse chronological order, has made me realise that Bowie is an artist rather underrated, at least by my generation. Prolific is an adjective often used to describe him, and his songwriting, as well as his everchanging image, are proof for this. What impresses me more than anything is that, despite his later work which I am more familiar with, most of his early material sounds even more interesting. Unable to form an opinion since I am not a fan, still I find his shift from troubadour to glam rock king, and others changing roles in between, certainly admirable. Diversity and experimentation were obviously no strangers to him!

Special mention for the tasteful artwork and packaging. It is worth to spend a little extra in order to have the more comprehensive 3-disc package. I was delighted to open the gatefold cardboard case, revealing 4 images from different stages of DB looking in the mirror (it would have been an even nicer touch, if 5 images - one for each decade - were shown), plus there are 2 quite detailed booklets, a necessary accompaniment to retrospective releases, often omitted by many. As a casual listener of DB's music, it only made sense then that this career-spanning compilation seemed like the perfect album to purchase. It sure is. "Nothings has changed" is rather essential. Some things change, some do not. I am pleased that I finally got to get properly introduced to Ziggy Stardust!
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Depeche Mode Live In Berlin
Depeche Mode Live In Berlin
Price: £29.23

13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Full throttle, 17 Nov 2014
Depeche Mode are my favourite band. I simply like pretty much everything theirs / about them. They have my utmost respect, for they have not stopped progressing throughout the years, while maintaining their original trademark DM qualities. Mostly, though, I love them because they never fail to excite me with every release, ever since I became acquainted with the sublime Songs of Faith and Devotion (Remastered), which somehow shaped my music taste. And then there is Dave Gahan; the ultimate male singer/performer, the embodiment of a charismatic band leader. Here is DM presenting their 25 & 27-11-2013 live performances for the acclaimed "Delta machine" record, which saw them boasting their classic DM element while pushing their sound furthermore.

Filmed and recorded by their longtime creative collaborator, Anton Corbijn, "Live in Berlin" is a most-polished, mastefully assembled presentation, sheer proof of the band's energetic and timeless appeal. Spread over 2 CDs and 2 DVDs, the set list is nicely balanced, featuring new material and older hits. What is included are: the "Live in Berlin" full show audio across 2 CDs, a "Live in Berlin" DVD, a second DVD, entitled "Alive in Berlin", which includes the full live show, behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with the band and fans, and a 2-song acoustic session ("Condemnation" and "Judas", filmed at Salon Bel Ami, a brothel in Berlin). Finally, also included is the 17-track deluxe edition of 2013 "Delta machine" album 5.1 mix on Blu-ray.

All these come packaged in a stylish lift-off box, that includes 5 mini-jackets housing the aforementioned discs, plus a 16-page booklet, illustrated with tour photos. Despite the obvious non-HD picture quality (director's artistic choice, apparently), and the lack of extras, what is more important is the fact that this release captures DM in great form, unlike their previous tour package which was pristinely presented but showed the band in just good form. Good is not acceptable from them, only great will suffice. "Live in Berlin" is another testament that DM continue to produce exciting albums and compelling live shows right up to the present day.

The Devotional Tour was DM's most excessive, in all aspects, live experience; The Singles Tour, and the Exciter Tour, were a much needed step down; Touring the Angel found them coming right back to the top; Tour of the Universe was a hit-and-miss affair; and now the Delta Machine Tour, a creative high, musically and visually. With obvious care and thoughtfulness showcased in every aspect of their work, I strongly believe that they are the only band who succeeded in being consistently relevant, without sacrificing their artistic integrity. As I have said on another occasion, in a time where pretty much everything is "depeche", they most certainly are not.


It's The Girls
It's The Girls
Price: £9.00

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beloved Bette, 17 Nov 2014
This review is from: It's The Girls (Audio CD)
Now, this is an early Christmas treat! Always been a fan of the Divine Miss M.'s acting and musical work, she is such an accomplished all-rounder, always mixing up her repertoire, I can never tire of her (can anyone with good taste, really?). Having recorded throughout the years different styles such as ballads, rock 'n' roll, cabaret, boogie-woogie, this, her 25th solo album, pays tribute to girl groups from the past 7 decades. All the way from the irresistible swing of '30s trio The Boswell Sisters' album title track to '90s TLC's heartbreakingly gorgeous "Waterfalls", this marvellous collection is guaranteed to get feet tapping and throats singing along (a tear or two may also be expected from daydreamers). Any true fan would be a fool to miss out on this; casual listeners, too, will surely get carried away by its brilliance. Beautifully assembled in all aspects (song selection, production, artwork), and delivered with Bette's unmistakable trademark fervour (Miss M. sounds bigger and Bette-r than ever), "It's the girls" is a fantastic, fun record; bonny, bouncy, breezy ...ultimately, Bette!


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