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Hasief Ardiasyah (Jakarta, Indonesia)

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Live - The 50th Anniversary Tour
Live - The 50th Anniversary Tour
Price: £7.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost too good to be true...and it was, 15 July 2013
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Considering the Beach Boys' well-documented acrimony and personal problems over the years, the 50th anniversary was one of those proverbial hell freezes over events. But the surviving core members managed to bury their hatchets for a while, for a tour that was almost too good to be true that it was somewhat inevitable that it would come to a horrible end.

This double live album is a snapshot of that tour. Yes, it's not as complete as their epic setlists, especially towards the tour's end. But 41 songs is still pretty good, and representative of the best aspects of the reunion. On one hand you get the cars, girls and surfing songs favoured by Mike Love and Bruce Johnston's Beach Boys, and on the other you've got Brian Wilson and his deep cuts that remind us of this band's artistic credibility. In the middle there's Al Jardine, whose vocals are now the strongest of the core members; and David Marks, who was involved in a spot of musical chair with Jardine during the early years of the band but has returned to bring his own spin and some authentic flavour to the surf guitar lead parts originally played by the late, great Carl Wilson.

But I'd say the unsung heroes on this tour - and by extension, this album - were Brian's longtime backing band, who comprise all but two of the additional musicians here. They helped a man who at one time would rather eat his way to oblivion rather than tour regain much of the critical acclaim that he'd lost over the years, and they're a big part of what made this reunion much better than it had any right to be. The Beach Boys have used touring musicians since the late '60s to flesh out the live sound, but I have to say that compared to their previous live albums, I have to say that this is the best at faithfully recreating the sound of the original recordings, mostly because they had enough personnel to skilfully handle the complex vocal and musical arrangements, down to the various sound effects on "Heroes and Villains". They did most of the heavy lifting that allowed the core Beach Boys to concentrate on lead vocals and those mesmerizing harmonies, though special mention needs to go to Jeff Foskett, who took on the high vocal parts that Brian and Carl can no longer sing. To get an idea of how big their contribution was, just look up videos of Mike and Bruce's Beach Boys on YouTube, before and after the reunion tour. Still a fun show, but just not as musically-rich.

The only thing that would've made the reunion perfect would be if Carl and Dennis Wilson were still around, but they're here in spirit and technology through their original recorded vocals on "God Only Knows" and "Forever", with the live band backing them up seamlessly. I was fortunate enough to catch their concert in Singapore, where for some reason the production was more stripped down and we didn't get the Carl and Dennis show. We did get 49 songs though, and I have a complete bootleg recording that I still listen to fondly. But I can also enjoy this live album, because of the clearer sound and the inclusion of songs that they didn't play in Singapore ("Marcella" and "The Little Girl I Once Knew", yeah! "Be True to Your School", not so much!). And I'm not going to argue against assertions by other reviews here that there's been some post-production tinkering on the vocals, but I will say that - based on the show I attended - for the most part the Beach Boys' voices are still that good. Especially Al, but even Brian. And a bonus for me is that the photos for the album sleeve were taken entirely from the Singapore show by Eddie Sung, a photographer I got to know there. Another friend of mine is on the front cover in the striped shirt on the cover, standing in front of Mike. I'm somewhere in the back, under the O and above the Y's tail on the band logo.

So it's not a perfect live album. But it's about as perfect as you could hope for, given the circumstances. And this album is a great reminder of how special it was and how lucky you are if you managed to see the tour, because it's uncertain if hell will freeze over again, or if all the Beach Boys will still be there if it does.


Red Hot Chili Peppers: An Oral/Visual History
Red Hot Chili Peppers: An Oral/Visual History
by Red Hot Chili Peppers
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars Nice, if disconnected, 27 Sept. 2011
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First off let me say that I'm a fan of these coffee-table band autobiographies, ever since The Beatles Anthology set the bar for me. You don't read these books expecting the authors to reveal too many harsh truths, but the first-hand tales and historical artifacts compensate for that. In those terms, 'An Oral/Visual History of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' certainly delivers, with tales by longtime members Anthony Kiedis, Flea, Chad Smith and John Frusciante plus various associates starting from childhood right until John Frusciante's most recent departure from the band, and lots of rare photos in between. On the surface, that seems more than enough.

However, my main gripe is with the way they executed things. Co-author Brendan Mullen passed away sometime during the making of this book, so it's unclear how much of an impact that had on the finished product. What's certain is that, even at 256 pages, it's a quick read given the small amount of text per page. I managed to finish the book in less than a day, even with lengthy breaks in between. The narrative structure is all over the place, starting off with the band's origins straight through to recent history, then going back and forth to various topics, seemingly at random. It gets confusing at times, especially since the photos don't necessarily correspond to what they're talking about. Since Smith and Frusciante are principle players in this book, it's understandable if it isn't laid out in a strictly chronogical fashion, but you still get the feeling that the brief yet significant period prior to their joining gets short shrift. Even if you don't feel that way, you'll probably be perplexed by the context-and-caption-free photo placement.

Overall, it's a good buy if you're a casual fan who doesn't mind looking at nice pictures with a minimum sense of context. Fans of the recently much-derided 'One Hot Minute' album will find many kind words said about it here. But if you want some in-depth dirt from the horse's mouth, you're better off with Kiedis' Scar Tissue: The Autobiography.


Callin' All
Callin' All

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You don't have to own everything by The La's (but it sure doesn't hurt), 17 Jun. 2010
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This review is from: Callin' All (Audio CD)
Callin' All is definitely not for casual novice looking to find out what the whole La's fuss was about. Even if you do have the The La's (now reissued with a bonus disc of unreleased recording sessions for your pleasure) and The La's - BBC In Session (which apparently gives you a better idea of the sound the band were really looking for in all those aborted studio sessions), this box set is hardly necessary if you're already content with the previous releases I just mentioned. At a glance, all that's in this set is more or less the same old songs in different versions, none of which are too radically different from what you already know.

But for me, this box set is a lot of fun as a complement to the debut and BBC In Session. It doesn't necessarily expose all the flaws that apparently only frontman Lee Mavers could hear, leading to a rotating cast of guitarists, drummers and producers. But with the help of iTunes and the previous releases, it can serve as a fascinating journey. I've made a playlist that arranges the tracks on all three releases according to recording chronological order, so I can follow the band's evolution as they chop and change and stun. From there, I can pick and choose from the multiple versions of each song and create my own ultimate version of the La's debut.

And that's just from the studio sessions on the first two discs. Discs 3 and 4 contain two full-length gigs with two different line-ups that showcase the La's formidable stage prowess. I prefer Disc 3 with the mighty Chris Sharrock, who went on to play with Lightning Seeds, Robbie Williams and Oasis (check out his drumming on "Timeless Melody", "Callin' All" and "Looking Glass"), though Disc 4 is notable for the inclusion of "Alright", penned by bassist John Power and already similar to how it would sound a few years later as performed by Cast, Power's post-La's band.

I admit that the whole La's myth is a big part of why I bought this box set. Maybe in a few weeks I'll wonder why I've been listening to different versions of the same songs over and over again. But right now, I still can't get enough of Callin' All - a testament to the quality of the La's music, it would seem.


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