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Ben (UK)

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Minutemen - We Jam Econo [2005] [DVD] [2006]
Minutemen - We Jam Econo [2005] [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Joe Baiza

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fitting DVD release for an amazing band..., 8 Jan 2007
In this excellent film "We Jam Econo", it's perhaps a testament to the brilliant Minutemen that such an impressive list of fellow musicians put themselves forward to talk about this incredibly gifted and inspiring group.

Told without a narrative voice over, instead the story is propelled along principally by the rather passionate bassist Mike Watt (whilst driving his van through an old sight seeing tour of hometown San Pedro) and is interspersed with numerous clips from an impressive anyone-who's-anyone list of I-was-there musicians including Thurston Moore, Ian MacKaye, Richard Hell, Henry Rollins and Flea.

Any fan of the band should really consider getting this DVD, but if you're sitting on the fence then perhaps I can persuade you to invest in this great package. The two discs are split between the documentary on one (with extra scenes and rare music videos) and a collection of live gigs recorded during the 1980s on the second.

The film itself is overall a rather gentle but interesting one, and it fortunately stands up to repeat viewing. If there's a criticism, I'd concede that the story, and so the film itself, is ultimately a slightly a sedate one. By this I mean it lacks the fireworks and anguish found in "Dig!" or perhaps "End Of The Century", but then, this was never what the band were about. It should also be acknowledged that the terribly tragic death of D Boon is not delivered in any emotional or hand wringing way. So the directors have chosen, quite nobly, not to emphasise this aspect of the band's history to reach for any greater emotional impact, as it's simply not required.

So rather than being a story about the usual band-in-turmoil or any such rock cliches, this is more a story about a rather unlikely group of young men, and how they went about creating such impressive and clearly influential music, and their overriding love of the punk scene.

I've read elsewhere that the live gigs on the second disc are the real draw here, and I'd agree they're an impressive addition. Granted, there is some pretty basic camera work on display, but the sonic quality is very impressive - so overall the passion and intensity is clear to see. The 9:30 gig, recorded in 1985, is particularly impressive, with the band on astounding form. But then, would you expect anything less from such a brilliant group?

Blues Bass: A Guide to the Essential Styles and Techniques (Hal Leonard Bass Method)
Blues Bass: A Guide to the Essential Styles and Techniques (Hal Leonard Bass Method)
by Ed Friedland
Edition: Sheet music
Price: 6.97

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Do you want to learn blues bass?, 3 Nov 2006
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
If you're relatively new to the bass guitar, and are keen to learn more blues licks and classic songs, then I would strongly recommend you investigate this book. It's a pretty solid introduction to what is a great, and very enjoyable genre of music to play.

The tablature here covers various traditional blues patterns that can be used in multiple songs and during jam sessions. It then goes on to detail different types of intros, ending and fills you can learn to spice up your repertoire. Finally, at the end it provides good transcripts of some killer blues tunes such as "Hideaway", "Pride and Joy" and "Hoochie Coochie Man" (amongst others).

The presentation is clear throughout and the accompanying CD is also good fun to play along too.

All in all, a great little package.

News And Tributes (Standard Cd)
News And Tributes (Standard Cd)
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: 2.96

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A different approach to their debut release..., 3 Nov 2006
This year I've had a reoccurring argument with a friend over "News & Tributes". On the one hand, I say it's a more mature work than their debut. Whilst lacking an immediate cracking single such as the glorious "Decent Days and Nights", it's a more rounded, emotionally engaging and consistent record. It's also the sound of a band recording in one studio with one producer, whereas I found "The Futureheads" more of a 'ragbag' - and I think it lost a little ground as a result.

My friend, on the other hand, is more scathing. He says it lacks all of their earlier records vim, excitement and experimentation. It is an album by young men who took an energetic approach to their earlier records, but are now sounding rather tired, grown up and writing more traditional, and therefore increasingly boring, rock/pop songs.

It's a difficult one. For as much as I enjoy this record, I can't help but admit he's partly right. "News..." does sound like a Mature Rock Record. It is therefore not a 'very Futureheads' sounding record. The "Area" single that preceded it now sounds like a final closet clearing exercise - abandoning the final bit of the "old style" in time for this more mature approach. Mojo magazine even compared them to The Police. Playing the debut by The Young Knives, for example, and I can't help but wonder to myself that this is what the new Futurehead's album should really have sounded like.

But then I listen again and I think how well crafted "Skip To The End" sounds. What a great rush the chorus to "Yes/No" is, and how much I like singing along (rather badly) to the great pop of "Back To The Sea" and especially "Worry About It Later". What I find especially impressive are the arrangements in this record, the greatly improved harmonies (how other bands must be envious!), and how - when seeing this band live - these new songs probably do contrast rather nicely with their debut. "News & Tributes" is therefore the sound of a band progressing. Maturing, but without sounding ridiculously earnest and overwrought.

Modern Times
Modern Times
Offered by Dirty Deals UK
Price: 6.79

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another impressive work from the Grand Master!, 29 Sep 2006
This review is from: Modern Times (Audio CD)
Talent doesn't wither with age, but perhaps it just gets stodgy and a little complacent.

Since we've new laws in place, is it 'ageist' to express surprise that Dylan is continuing to write great songs now that he's in his 60s? Probably. Then again, given the dross some of his musical counterparts are peddling I think few music fans really expect that much from their old time rock heros.

However "Modern Times" is another blunt reminder from Dylan to other musicans of the 1960s and 70s to pull their socks up and start putting some decent records out again. Actually, in "Modern Times" Dylan lays down a challenge to pratically everyone picking up a guitar in 2006, regardless of how old they are.

Once again Dylan has put together a challenging but enjoyable collection of tunes that should, and probably will, be loved by a group wider than music critics. Those who liked "Time Out Of Mind" and "Love And Theft" will be happy with what is played here. However, this is a record short on songs but long on length; which means a casual listen is often incredibly tricky. The six minute mark is surpassed on a couple of occasions, which means Dylan has a fair bit to say - so from the first bar of this album you need to settle in, as you're in for the long haul.

Fortunately there's plenty around to ease the journey. Dylan's still mixing great couplets with splashes of humour and several "did he say that?" moments. The music here is more rooted in the blues than before, and whilst a number of music magazines are keenly pointing out the frequent "steals" Dylan makes from the old Blues masters, "Modern Times" remains a success on its own terms. Beautifully played and produced, it's an impressive 'sounding' record.

Highly recommended.

People Gonna Talk
People Gonna Talk
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 12.78

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extremely Impressive, 6 Sep 2006
This review is from: People Gonna Talk (Audio CD)
Just as Richard Hawley creates albums that seem beamed in directly from some time during the 1950s, James Hunter equally pulls off the trick of rekindling the vibe of some long forgotten soul album, without appearing cliched, ironic or cabaret.

I think "People Gonna Talk" is an exceptionally impressive record. The ingredients for a strong album are all there; it's brilliantly played by an understanding team of musicians and recorded wonderfully, and sympathetically, by Liam Watson in Toe Rag Studios (this being the man the White Stripes favour for his love and admiration of vintage recording equipment, which fits the music here perfectly).

Perhaps Hunter's strongest achievement is his restraint. Despite a hefty quota of great songs this is a record that consciously avoids flashy tricks or throwing in any obviously commercial "hit" songs. The band, and music, keep things reined in - only letting go at just the right moment. For example, Hunter's razor sharp guitar work, employed only on occasional numbers, appears in rather fleeting, exciting bursts. The real punch though is kept for his vocals, where his smooth but smoky phrasing fits the musical era he's trying to conjure. Hunter might remind you of Sam Cooke, but he doesn't imitate him.

By avoiding any obvious 'showing off', or using corny lyrical sentiments, Hunter and his band have crafted an impressive, enjoyable and extremely cool record.

Kicking Television, Live In Chicago
Kicking Television, Live In Chicago
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 10.26

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great Wilco album, and a great live album too, 28 July 2006
The Live Album - whether viewed as an album pushed out to fulfil a final contractual obligation, or to act as a quick stop gap until a band's next proper record is out, these discs are usually unofficially marked "For The Fans Only", and in reality are probably only of interest to those more fanatical devotees of a band.

In truth, I own only a handful of live albums and play the majority of those fairly infrequently. The conundrum is always the same - the songs either don't match the superior polish of the album version, or the quality of the recording fails to match, or convey, the excitement of an actual live performance. Therefore - why play them? Of course, there are notable exceptions, but how many great live albums have there been in the last ten years?

That Wilco have released a great live album, and in doing so have also put out one of their best and most enjoyable records, is really quite a feat - especially when you consider the impressive quality of the rest of their albums.

So, in putting "Kicking Television" up there with "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" and "Being There" this is my indication to you of how good I consider this double set to be.

From what I can understand, Jeff Tweedy appears to have been searching for the ultimate Wilco "band" for quite some time. So many members have come and gone, and only a few staple musicians have remained in the mix for more than two albums on the trot. It's the guitarists who are mostly shown the door, and one can't help but suspect that this latest version of Wilco is perhaps the closest Tweedy has probably got to the band he hears in his head.

"Kicking Television" further promotes the image of Wilco as the band that manages to successfully bind together skewered pop tunes to their frequent leanings towards more abstract, weird and wacky guitar noodling. A number of songs begin before eventually spinning off in to Guitar Solo Nirvana, and their admiration for "jamming" doesn't make me instantly reach for the skip button. Wilco know how to avoid the pitfalls and tedium this approach can often bring, and armed with so many excellent songs and Tweedy's excellent hooks and melodies the record hangs together really well.

This is a great Wilco record and a quite brilliant live album. Definitely one to check out.

Mr Paradise
Mr Paradise
by Elmore Leonard
Edition: Paperback
Price: 13.82

4.0 out of 5 stars One of Leonard's stronger novels!, 18 April 2006
This review is from: Mr Paradise (Paperback)
I was very surprised to read the negative reviews here for "Mr Paradise". Judging this novel against his other recent works I found it one of the more interesting stories. If there are any doubts of his talents this novel puts him back on track - high on atmospherics and the usual killer dialogue, it also had a great range of varied characters and enough 'cool' to almost match "Get Shorty".

I highly recommend this book!

Price: 5.46

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps not a review for the fans..., 17 May 2002
This review is from: Californication (Audio CD)
In the past the Peppers have never failed to make my stomach turn. Seemingly the band-of-choice for a few ex-girlfriends of mine their laughable rock/funk style has always struck me as idiotic and embarrassing - and whilst you can argue that it's not important, this band couldn't be less cool if they tried. A rock band it's very hard to take seriously.
Okay, so that's hardly a winning introduction and I'm sure I've offended a few fans - but please, stick with me here...
Californication, whilst STILL not encouraging me to investigate BloodSexSugarMagic and their other (ahem) 'delights', is an absolutely blinding album. It doesn't happen very often, but sometimes bands just collectively hit a certain place and release a record that rocks when it wants to, is then tender and delicate when it feels like it, and can then give you an emotional going over just for the hell of it.
Californation is a pretty good example of that.
Around The World and Parellel Universe pretty much explode out of the speakers at 100mph and happily nail you to the wall before they unleash the utterly beautiful Scar Tissue. Following that with such amazing songs as Otherside, Get On Top, Californication, Saviour, Road Trippin' and Easily and you can't help but be impressed - and whilst I haven't much of a clue as to what Kiedis is singing about half the time the band take you on a pretty good journey. Whilst I'm wildly speculating here I would put much of this album down to the reappearence of John Fruciante. I get the feeling he brought the emotional depth back to the band to finally help make them a great band rather than a bit of a joke.
Whilst I would agree that there are the fillers (I Like Dirt and Emit Remmus - which sounds too much like their old stuff) there is still so much here to impress that you'd be daft not to pick up a copy.
Hopefully their next album will be a worthy follow up to this great record. I keep my fingers crossed.

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