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Mr. N. E. Sheppard "MrNick" (Leeds, UK)

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The Final Frontier
The Final Frontier
Price: 7.94

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best offering since Powerslave, 30 Aug 2010
This review is from: The Final Frontier (Audio CD)
I was 12 when I first heard "Hallowed be thy Name" on a friend's cassette walk-man in 1986 and 14 when "Seventh Son" came out a couple of years later (the age which some **** at the Independent suggests you would need to be to appreciate Maiden). I actually had reservations about that album as it used keyboards which went against my adolescent Metal aesthetic - being 14 and everything - and don't necessarily hold it as Maiden's apotheosis as so many do. There is no doubt, however, that things deteriorated after "Seventh Son" and even as an avowed fan I knew "No Prayer..." was a bit rubbish. "Fear of the Dark" is memorable for me really only for the title track (preferably live) and then Bruce left and the Irons were pretty much left, rotting like Eddie, in the 80's with my acne-ridden-sexually-frustrated 14 year old self.

There was a flicker of interest when Dicko rejoined in 1999 and I even went to see them on the Brave New World tour - though didn't actually buy the album at the time - I have it now and it's pretty good, not as good as the 80s heyday and not as good as AMOLAD (solid but lacking punch somehow) but vastly better than the mediocre "Dance of Death" (even the art-work is second rate).

I've listened to all the post reunion albums very recently, since the frankly brilliant Flight 666 rekindled my fandom (both for the music and the documentary interest), so while there *may* be an element of nostalgia in my appreciation of "The Final Frontier" I have absolutely no reservations in declaring it the best thing the Arry and co have put out since my first 7 and a bit minutes of Maiden back in '86...I simply do not understand the complaints that the songs are too long and the second half is the stronger set for me with "Isle of Avalon" and "The Talisman" as stand-out tracks - those misguided souls complaining that there are no classic Maiden hooks should look no further - and the complex musical arrangements in these songs, "The Man Who Would be King" and in the oft-discussed final epic(TM) "When the Wild Wind Blows" are superb. The more standard fare is also excellent with the old-school swashbuckle of "The Final Frontier" sounding all the stronger juxtaposed with the industrially atmospheric "Satellite 15...", "The Alchemist", too, is pretty standard Maiden and does the job just fine, in my youth I might have baulked at "Coming Home" for not being heavy enough but I'm not 14 any more and it's a powerful track as are "Mother of Mercy" and "Starblind"

If I do skip anything (due to time constraints) it would be "Eldorado" but even that is an acceptable Maiden gallop...if I were to offer a criticism, perhaps, it would be that lyrically it's a little weak but then Maiden have been writing daft lyrics for over 30 years (with some notable exceptions of course - "Two Minutes to Midnight" and "Powerslave" are poetry next to some of the stuff here) and, anyway, like "Quest for Fire", the lyrics begin to sound OK if you play it often enough and loud enough.

So ignore the nay-sayers for "The Final Frontier", to coin a phrase, kicks "arse"...up the Irons!

Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
by John Gray
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Can we not think of the aim of life as being simply to see?, 23 Aug 2009
An impassioned polemic, Straw Dogs has been accused by other reviewers of overly bold assertion and it is true that Gray does perhaps declare a peculiarly personal philosophy rather than presenting cogently argued evidence. It is so well written, however, and represents an empiricism in the tradition of Nietzschean philosophy that burns through such undergraduate dogma like a Universal acid - though Nietzche himself is portrayed as an intellectual victim of Gray's central thesis; that the concept of human "progress" is an illusion that has no meaning beyond the technological and that modern secular humanism is imbued with a "faith" in progress that is merely a mutation of Christian thought and no less irrational.

Technology may be able to mitigate against, for example, the food shortages and environmental damage wreaked by the increasing billions of humanity that more than simply resembles an animal plague just like that of any other species and just like those plagues it will inevitably follow the same trajectory. Indeed, it is more likely that powerful technology, wielded by an irrational animal, will mitigate against the plague in an ever more dramatic manner - by war or environmental catastrophe.

In spite of - in fact because of - its sobering message, ultimately I found Straw Dogs curiously hopeful in the humility of a final question it poses to the reader: "Other animals do not need a purpose in life. A contradiction to itself, the human animal cannot do without one. Can we not think of the aim of life as being simply to see?"

Kind of Intimacy, A
Kind of Intimacy, A
by Jenn Ashworth
Edition: Paperback

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Like scrabbling towards a precipice, 26 April 2009
This review is from: Kind of Intimacy, A (Paperback)
I met the author yesterday. She was signing copies of her first novel in a well known bookshop and seemed friendly. Quite normal really. Though having read her book I think she may actually be a sociopath. After the first few chapters I began to feel dispirited. Not by the quality of the writing which is horribly compelling. It's unsettling, like scrabbling towards a precipice. The ending doesn't quite live up to its tortured gestation but maybe I was just disappointed it was over.

The Chemical Wedding
The Chemical Wedding
Price: 9.81

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something wicked this way comes, 28 Mar 2009
This review is from: The Chemical Wedding (Audio CD)
Can't believe I've only just discovered this more than a decade after it was released. A spotty adolescent Maiden fan in the 80's, never grew out of metal but both my staples, Maiden and Metallica, were rubbish in the 90's. Did try Tattooed Millionaire in 1990 but wasn't greatly impressed. Then Bruce came back to Maiden, their profile picked up in the noughties, Metallica delivered with Death Magnetic and my interest in the old guard led me back to Bruce's solo stuff and Chemical Wedding. Maiden evolved - better than anything the Irons have done since Powerslave. Heavier too. Tracks like Killing Floor, Book of Thel and Machine Men are sophisticated, imaginative metal, not sure about Jerusalem - admire the attempt to reclaim one of Blake's most famous poems from the Last Night of the proms and the Women's Institute but it's also one of my favourite hymns and this reinterpretation doesn't really work for me.

Death Magnetic
Death Magnetic
Offered by inandout-distribution
Price: 7.68

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ace, 29 Nov 2008
This review is from: Death Magnetic (Audio CD)
I'm not much given to hyperbole and "ace" is not a word I've used much since I was 14, twenty years ago, but then I haven't enjoyed an album this much since 1988 either. Certainly not one by Metallica. Death Magnetic, however, is just...ace.

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