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Flashbackcaruso (London, UK)

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Mountains of the Moon [DVD] [1989] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Mountains of the Moon [DVD] [1989] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Price: £5.07

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice widescreen transfer, 4 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As a fan of director Bob Rafelson I was quite keen to see this movie, and was prepared to make do a with a pan-and-scan 4:3 version, as this Region 1 DVD was the only release available and was nice and cheap. Very pleased to discover that the movie is actually presented in a widescreen ratio (1.85 to 1, I think) despite what it says on Amazon and on the back of the DVD cover itself. Definitely worth buying.

Madman Across The Water
Madman Across The Water
Price: £5.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is the nightmare black or are the windows painted?, 27 Nov. 2008
This review is from: Madman Across The Water (Audio CD)
1969-71 was a prolific period for Elton John as an albums artist - in just 3 years he produced 4 studio albums, plus a film soundtrack and a live album, while managing just one hit single, the ubiquitous 'Your Song'. The tone of these early albums was often downbeat, but 'Madman Across The Water' shows Elton's music at its darkest, and makes a fitting end to the first phase of his career. Originally housed in a deluxe gatefold sleeve with booklet, it provides a good snapshot of the directions rock music was taking in 1971 - Elton at this point coming across as an introspective singer-songwriter with leanings towards progressive rock. As with 'Tumbleweed Connection' no UK singles were taken from the album, although the first two songs, 'Tiny Dancer' and 'Levon', were both released as 45s in the US. 'Tiny Dancer' has gradually become one of Elton's best known songs, thanks to its inclusion in the film 'Almost Famous', and it makes for a superb opening track, with a soaring chorus, sweeping strings from Paul Buckmaster, and gorgeous pedal steel from B.J. Cole. The latter is just one of an impressive array of session musicians featured on `Madman', including Rick Wakeman, Chris Spedding, Herbie Flowers and Terry Cox. Robert Kirby, best known for his string arrangements for Nick Drake, directs the Cantores in Ecclesia Choir. Two epic songs make up the centre of the album: the title track is an intense exploration of paranoia, with Wakeman on organ, Diana Lewis on buzzing A.R.P. synthesizer, and Buckmaster providing dark swirling strings. Bernie Taupin's lyrics are cryptic and intriguing. 'Indian Sunset' is a vocal tour-de-force, sung from the point of view of a native American, again benefitting from a dramatic orchestral arrangement. Some lines from this song bizarrely ended up being sampled on a Tupac single (`Ghetto Gospel') which removed much of the impact of the lyrics (particularly closing line `Peace to this young warrior comes with a bullet hole') by cutting and re-ordering them. Elton's gospel influences are put through the blender on `Levon' and `Rotten Peaches', both of which have a faintly sacreligious twist to the lyrics. `All The Nasties' is a bitter response to criticism, with the Cantores in Ecclesia Choir providing strangely unsettling background vocals. The lightest moment is provided by the country/folk flavoured `Holiday Inn', with a delightful mandolin coda from Magna Carta's Davey Johnson, soon to become a permanent member of Elton's band. After eight lengthy, heavily arranged songs comes `Goodbye', a brief and haunting closing track which provides a perfect conclusion to the album itself as well as Elton's pre-glam era. The lack of bonus tracks means that the desolate mood left by the repeated final lyric `I'll waste away...' remains unspoiled. Next up was `Rocket Man' and `Honky Cat' and the start of a spectacular run of hits in both the albums and singles charts. This single disc version presents an excellent remaster of a dark but rewarding album, with its original booklet reproduced in full. It may be worth waiting, however, for the 2-disc deluxe edition which will hopefully be with us soon.

Tumbleweed Connection Deluxe Edition
Tumbleweed Connection Deluxe Edition
Offered by Great Price Media EU
Price: £25.13

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There Goes A Well-Known Gun, 15 Nov. 2008
This was Elton John's third LP and stakes a good claim to being his very best. It certainly represents his peak as an albums artist, being a concept album with no singles. The songs are mostly based around themes of the American West, an obsession of lyricist Bernie Taupin at the time, and Elton rose to the occasion with a consistently strong collection of tunes with a predominantly country flavour, citing The Band as a major influence. The American inflections he has always brought to his vocal style have never sounded more convincing or appropriate, and arranger Paul Buckmaster again comes up trumps with sympathetic settings for the songs. The strings are used more sparingly than on Elton's eponymous previous album, with brass more to the fore this time round, although the two are integrated brilliantly on the magnificent 'My Father's Gun'. This song is also one of several which benefit from an impressive choir of backing vocalists which includes Dusty Springfield. The album on the whole is a grittier affair than its delicate predecessor ('Son Of Your Father' and 'Amoreena' feature Elton's voice at its most raucous), although there is the occasional bucolic moment, notably the gorgeous 'Come Down In Time' and Lesley Duncan's haunting 'Love Song', the only cover Elton included on any of his studio albums. 'Where To Now St Peter?' is darkly psychedelic and 'Talking Old Soldiers' is a stark monologue in which a war veteran mourns his dead comrades. Epic closing track 'Burn Down The Mission' has remained a staple of Elton's live set ever since. As with the deluxe version of the same year's `Elton John', this reissue is beautifully packaged and re-mastered, and adds some superb tracks from the archives, the off-cuts being as strong as the material that made it onto the album. The searing 9-minute version of 'Madman Across The Water' (featuring Mick Ronson on guitar) and 'Into The Old Man's Shoes' (released as the b-side of 'Your Song' for its belated single release) were also included on `Tumbleweed Connection's last CD issue, but the previously unreleased material and excellent packaging make for an essential upgrade. A completely different version of 'Ballad Of A Well Known Gun' kicks off disc 2 very nicely, and the smattering of demos prove how strong the songs are in their basic form. There is also one previously unknown song, 'Sisters Of The Cross', but oddly the much bootlegged 'Rolling Western Union' hasn't been included. As before, the addition of BBC session tracks isn't as definitive as it could have been. Great to see some of them at last get an official release, but there are omissions (notably 'Country Comfort') and again some of the information seems to be incorrect - for example, contrary to what it claims on the sleeve, the BBC version of 'Ballad Of A Well-Known Gun' has previously been released, albeit in a slightly edited form, on the compilation Before The Fall and comes from a John Peel Concert (tx 5 April 1970) rather than the DLT session mentioned in the notes. Also, the version of `My Father's Gun' is not the version previously released on '21 Years Of Alternative Radio One' as claimed in the sleevenotes. It too comes from the Peel Concert and is therefore previously unreleased. But these are minor quibbles when such a classic album comes so beautifully presented.

Elton John Deluxe Edition
Elton John Deluxe Edition
Offered by Great Price Media EU
Price: £11.16

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic second album given deluxe treatment, 1 Nov. 2008
This was the album where Elton John found his voice. Gone were the psychedelic leanings and world-weary vocal stylings of failed debut 'Empty Sky', to be replaced by a dark romanticism with which the cover photo of Elton peering moodily out of the shadows was perfectly in keeping. Crucial to the success of Elton's 70s work was his teaming up with producer Gus Dudgeon and arranger Paul Buckmaster who had already proved their artistic and commercial chops on David Bowie's 'Space Oddity' single. Considering its eventual ubiquity it's incredible to think that opening track 'Your Song' wasn't originally considered for single release, only becoming Elton's first chart hit the following year, by which time he had already released his next album. On songs such as the delicate `I Need You To Turn To', the romantic `First Episode At Hienton' and the pessimistic `Sixty Years On' Bernie Taupin's poetic lyrics are perfectly matched by Elton's melodic flair, and the album is constantly saved from becoming too precious by Paul Buckmaster's rich and unsentimental string arrangements which are as essential to these songs as Robert Kirby's were for Nick Drake. The reflective mood is occasionally broken by more boisterous tunes such as the cryptic `Take Me To The Pilot', the Stonesy `No Shoestrings On Louise' and gospel shouter `The Cage' which has a splendid moog solo. In those days Elton's voice had a remarkable flexibility and range, best demonstrated on dramatic closing track `The King Is Dead'. This welcome deluxe reissue adds an amazing quantity of previously unheard demos, including 3 otherwise unrecorded songs which prove to be disappointingly uninspiring. All of the original album tracks are also represented in demo form bar 'Border Song' and 'First Episode At Hienton'. The first of these is included as a BBC session; the second was also previously recorded for the John Peel show back in 1968, but presumably this tape no longer survives. Also included are the non-album tracks recorded during the same sessions: the single 'Rock And Roll Madonna' and two b-sides, 'Bad Side Of The Moon' and 'Grey Seal', which are easily as good as anything on the album. The oddest bonus track is a BBC version of 'Your Song', which is merely an alternate mix of the standard version, making it more likely a 'network session' than a specially recorded rendition. This is the area where these deluxe reissues fail to totally satisfy. Room could have easily been made for more than just three BBC session tracks, and the source information for these seems to be somewhat inaccurate. But, all in all, a pivotal album, beautifully repackaged and excellently priced.

Empty Sky
Empty Sky
Price: £5.75

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating false start, 26 Oct. 2008
This review is from: Empty Sky (Audio CD)
This album was a disconcerting discovery when I found it in the record racks in the early 80s. I was convinced that Elton John's career began with 'Your Song' and the eponymous 1970 album with which it opened. But here was an LP from 1969, one which turned out to show quite a different side to Reg Dwight. The start of the record is anything but comforting - an ominous conga pattern plays solo for a few bars before being joined by a few desolate piano chords. The piano soon picks up a rhythm before a heavy 4/4 drum beat and Caleb Quaye's gravelly electric guitar get in on the groove. Elton's voice then makes its first appearance, wailing 'I'M NOT A RAT TO BE SPAT ON...' - a startling beginning to his very first album. This title track lasts a full eight and a half minutes, taking in a psychedelic backward guitar solo and a breakdown in the middle. It's a stunning track, performed with a conviction that makes up for the rather trite 'high/sky/fly' rhyming scheme of the chorus. The whole album is very much of its time, with strong hints of Procol Harum, Traffic and The Incredible String Band, but has an identity all of its own. Bernie Taupin's lyrics are often oblique bordering on pretentious, not least on the strangely endearing 'Hymn 2000' which manages to be jaunty and miserable at the same time, Elton intoning drearily while a revivalist tambourine shakes spiritedly away. Aside from the instant classic 'Skyline Pigeon', I'd easily rate 'Val-Halla', 'Sails' and 'Gulliver' (a moving ode to a deceased dog) as among my all-time favourite Elton John tracks. As mentioned elsewhere, this last song cuts very abruptly and jarringly into a jazzy instrumental which itself segues into a slightly clumsy montage of extracts from all the songs on the album, making the end of `Empty Sky' as disconcerting as the start. Hopefully this album isn't going to be overlooked when it comes to the deluxe treatment already afforded to its immediate successors, as there are radio sessions and demos aplenty with which to fill out a second disc. But the current edition very handily tags on two contemporary singles and their b-sides, making this the definitive compilation of Elton's semi-psychedelic early phase.

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