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Reviews Written by
M. Hunkin "stoogesfan29" (Birmingham)

Page: 1

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ethereal and breathtaking Scandinavian folk music, 26 Sept. 2007
This review is from: Adjagas (Audio CD)
The hype surrounding this record isn't at all unjustified - if anything, it demands wider exposure. The Sigur Ros comparisons are hard to fathom, for although both bands are excellent, the styles of music are very different. Adjagas specialise in haunting, stripped down acoustic melodies, interspersed with the occasional startling twang of banjo. The vocals on the record are unique, almost mantra-like - a form of Nordic chanting peculiar to the region, the songs forming parts of a coherent pastoral cycle. 'Siivu' is paricularly gorgeous, the male and female leads weaving gossamer threads around a skeletal musical backdrop of stark beauty. The lyrics are sung in the singers' native language, but fortunately they are translated in the sleevenotes for monolingual Brits like myself!

Its hard to find fault with an album that can conjure images of endless space and sun-drenched glaciers, as opposed to the musical offerings of the current crop of parochial Britpoppers, with their increasingly tiresome, oh-so-ironc tales of crap nightclubs and skirmishes with townies in taxi queues. With the lights dimmed and the right mood this album will take you on one helluva trip.

Fans of Joanna Newsom, Devendra Banhart and other quirky troubadours of the contemporary folk scene will find much to enjoy on this disc. A truly absorbing and magical journey.

Damned Damned Damned
Damned Damned Damned

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic demonic clatter, 24 Aug. 2006
This review is from: Damned Damned Damned (Audio CD)
In comparison with the politicised, rebel posturing of The Clash and the malevolent, nihilistic brand of anarchy championed by The Sex Pistols, The Damned's brand of anarchy took the form of an explosive, flailing racket both in the studio and on the stage. Producer Nick Lowe encouraged the band to just bash it out, which they pretty much did in an alcohol and amphetamine fuelled three day frenzy.

Lead guitarist and songwriter Brian James worshipped the Detroit proto-punk bands, and their influence is very much in evidence here, from the speedball cover of The Stooges' 1970 (I Feel Alright) to the razorwire riffing and slashing solos that characterise the two fantastic debut singles, Neat Neat Neat and New Rose. Other album cuts like Fish and Stab Your Back maintain the ragged, breakneck momentum nicely, with the Rat Scabies / Captain Sensible rhythm section kicking up a seething noise akin to a box of spanners being thrown down a metal fire escape. The odd slower track like Feel the Pain, meanwhile, hints towards the more atmospheric, gothic direction the band's eighties music would take, long after James had left the group, showcasing Dave Vanian's discordant, grave-digger croon very effectively.

Undoubtedly influencing many early American bands such as The Misfits and The Cramps who took their cue from the English punk explosion, this record is one of the finest and fastest recorded by the first wave of UK punk bands, and the perfect one to play before a frenetic night on the booze. The sheer speed and sense of fun-at-all-costs of the record makes a good case for anarchy as a liberating and enjoyable, as opposed to angry and cynical.

Listen to it at MAXIMUM VOLUME!!!

Price: £4.99

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A benchmark in bleakness, 11 Aug. 2006
This review is from: Faith (Audio CD)
Described in a recent NME article as one of the most miserable albums of all time (in a good way), Faith makes for an extremely bleak and unsettling listening experience, something akin to slivers of razor sharp ice gently piercing the head and ears.

Less atmospherically playful as earlier material such as Boys Don't Cry, Faith saw The Cure further developing the blueprint for goth, and whilst the music retains much of the compressed rythms and brittle, serated guitar sound of Robert Smith and cos earlier efforts, the overall atmosphere is much icier, sombre and echoey, like trudging through an empty graveyard in a snowstorm.

Where earlier tracks like 10:15 Saturday Night and A Forest burst forwards with a kind of skipping, if subdued, relentlessness, tracks like Holy Hour, All Cats are Grey and the stately, doom-laden masterpiece, The Funeral Party, take the form of slow and ponderous dirges, whilst remaining musically and lyrically expressive enough not to become tuneless, sluggish trash. By keeping the disc focused at a short eight tracks the album never wears even the most cheerful listener down, even at its blackest and most despairing.

All in all Faith ranks amongst The Cure's finest albums, if not THE finest (Pornography is the one). For those who enjoyed the Cure's more famous singles and want to move on to something heavier, for any fans of the dark stuff, and for those sickened by the doleful whining masquerading as poetic melancholy served up by privileged fakers such as Thom Yorke and the rest, this is well worth buying.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 6, 2011 11:04 PM BST

Stop Crying Your Heart Out
Stop Crying Your Heart Out
Offered by Musical Notes
Price: £8.67

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good single, great B-side, 7 Jun. 2006
Stop Crying Your Heart Out, the second and best single from the fifth Oasis album, Heathen Chemistry, marked something of a return to form. A heartfelt, anthemic, piano-led ballad, although not as good as Cast No Shadow, Slide Away or The Masterplan, it packed something of an emotional punch and is well worth a listen.

The first B-side is a fine, upbeat rock'n'roller, nothing to shout about but not bad, but the second flip track, Shout It Out Loud, is by far one of the finest and most underrated tunes Noel Gallagher has ever penned and sung, with a piercing, wailing guitar solo reminiscent of Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb.

With Oasis in 2002 back to making B-sides that are better than the singles they supported, you have to conclude that they found something of the old spirit again!

Offered by westworld-
Price: £9.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Promising debut, 16 May 2006
This review is from: Folly (Audio CD)
Engineers' debut mini-album combined the sounds of classic early 90s shoegazers such as My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive with psychedelic sixties pop and, on the sublime cover of If I Were A Carpenter, a side order of country and folk. This is not the most original album you'll hear, but a promising debut, and with most groups now retreading the angular, scratchy post-punk sound of the late seventies, this comes across remarkably fresh and out-there. The lilting, hazy propulsive melodies of Forgiveness and Coming Out of the Rain showcase the bands potential as craftsmen of exquisite experimental pop in the Cocteau Twins mould, whilst the epic closing track, Pictobug, meanders towards a wispy, etheral fifth dimension, and promised much in terms of the development of Engineers as an original creative force. The follow up, of course, is even better!


11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Uninspired by his standards, 11 May 2006
This review is from: Soldier (Audio CD)
Out of the three discs Iggy Pop cut for Arista Records during the period 1979-1981, this one is by far the worst. 1979's New Values was an energetic, polished and experimental new-wave rock album that was well received critically, and deserved a much wider audience. After hitting the road to play successful shows across Europe and the States, Pop decamped to Wales to record a follow-up. He assembled a punk-rock 'supergroup' of sorts, including Glen Matlock, formerly of the Sex Pistols, Steve New, guitarist in Matlock's post-Pistols outfit, Rich Kids, Barry Andrews, keyboardist with XTC, and Klaus Kruger, ex-Tangerine Dream. Pop even got his old Stooges cohort, James Williamson, back on production duties, having made such grand work of New Values. This album could, and perhaps should, have been excellent - unfortunately the album seriously lacks memorable songs, and is characterised in the main by goofy, blank-eyed lyrics and a tunelessness that The Stooges might have been able to get away with through sheer volume and raw power. For the most part, this album has neither, and just sounds tinny and flat.

Its not all hopeless, though. Loco Mosquito is a chirpy, XTC-influenced slab of new wave, featuring Barry Andrews contributing some deft, hyperactive chiming keyboard parts, whilst Pop refers to the good-old, bad-old days he spent in Berlin hanging around with David Bowie in drag bars. I Need More is the sort of straightforward, no-nonsense autobiographical song Pop perfected on New Values; with the onset of greed-is-good capitalism and Reaganism, Pop laments, or celebrates, the amount he needs to get by in the modern world. Pop's lifestyle at this time was a byword for excess, and whilst he had kicked heroin, bootlegs from the constant touring around the turn of seventies as well as biographies, attest that Iggy was becoming an egotistical, coke and booze fuelled monster, sacking band members as quickly as he hired them.

During Soldier's recording, Pop fired Williamson and New as a result of creative and personal differences, whilst Kruger left shortly after the album was finished. Such internal instability could have done nothing to promote creativity, and it shows here. I Snub You is a perfect example of a dearth of inspiration, tuneless and lyrically puerile, with some awful background vocals; the formula is repeated on tracks like Take Care of Me and Dog Food, an outtake from the early Stooges days, but shorn of any explosive energy the original might have had. Play it Safe, recorded with David Bowie and Simple Minds, is the most interesting track on the album, revisiting the echoey, motorik-rock of 1977's The Idiot, but it lacks the emotional depth and sheer numbing, paranoiac despair of the first Berlin album, simply plodding by in a shadowy haze. Other tracks like Ambition and I'm A Conservative are okay, but as more upbeat numbers they lack the punchy tunefulness of anything on the New Values album.

The most annoying thing about the album, lyrics and songwriting aside, is the sheer lack of guitar noise. This did not matter on records like The Idiot, but is obvious that Iggy intended to assemble a punk superband; somebody evidently forgot to plug the guitarist's axe in. What you get in effect are songs with a defiantly punk tempo being carried by an acoustic rhythm guitar in most places because Steve New's guitar was so drastically clipped. There's very little that leaps from the speakers and grabs you.

Overall, I would not recommend buying this album to anybody, Iggy fans or otherwise, unless you've listened to it first. I could certainly suggest getting hold one of those Iggy compilations which covers the years 1979-1981 if you want to get your hands on I Need More or Loco Mosquito, although to be fair, though, you're much better off getting New Values!

Four Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty Six Seconds: a Short Cut to Teenage Fanclub
Four Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty Six Seconds: a Short Cut to Teenage Fanclub
Price: £50.92

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 4766 seconds of aural pleasure, 10 Mar. 2006
Teenage Fanclub, despite critical acclaim and a strong cult following, never achieved the success they deserved, although it is probably fair to say that they deliberately shunned the spotlight in their own unassumingly eccentric way. Their masterpiece, Grand Prix, was released during the heady Britpop days back in 1995, the year of Blur's The Great Escape, and Creation labelmates Oasis' multi-platinum Britrock monster What's the Story? Superior to both records in every possible way, Grand Prix did well but not quite well enough, and these perhaps most quintessentially Britpop combinations of beautiful melodies and jagged noise remained criminally ignored by the majority of the record buying public.
A shame as this compilation emphasises the Fannies commitment to writing great songs (yes pop songs), life affirmingly great music that fuses the scuzzy, crunching guitar noise of alternative American noiseniks like Dinosaur Jr and their ilk with the vocal harmonies of the Beach Boys circa Pet Sounds and the beautiful, whimsical melodies of cult favourites Big Star and, of course, the Beatles. Teenage Fanclub are not musical mavericks in the vein of other acts signed to Creation in the early years; original pioneers like former labelmates My Bloody Valentine or ecclectic party monsters Primal Scream. Yet the songs are so good you don't care that they're no Radioheads (thank heavens), betraying how the bands three vocalists and songwriters, Norman Blake, Gerard Love and Raymond McGinley, superb craft in creating perfect power pop from the work of their musical heroes.
4766 Seconds is not arranged chronologically, mixing tracks that date from their debut, A Catholic Education, up to their year 2000 major label release, Howdy!, with a couple of new tracks thrown in for good measure. The 21 songs cover a lot of ground, although the concentration on singles means several gems from their best albums are overlooked, namely Alcoholiday from Bandwagonesque and the blitzkreig, Beach Boys bop of Discolite, a highlight from Grand Prix. Only one track appears from their charmingly underproduced debut, whilst two tracks have been culled from their only disappointing record, 1993's Thirteen.
What remains though is absolute class, and there are many highlights. Debut single Everything Flows is a fantastic wash of understated, off-kilter vocals and shrieking melodies seemingly trying to break free from knackered speakers, and could have easily been recorded by J Mascis in Dinosaur Jr's heydey. All the tunes from their 'breakthrough', Bandwagonesque, are excellent, from the lurching, almost Quo-like twelve bar chording of The Concept and What you do to Me, right through to the frenetic Star Sign (Beach Boys powering through Dinosaur Jr's Raisins!). From the Grand Prix album you can juxtapose the beautiful, plaintive acoustic ballad Mellow Doubt with the defiantly vibrant, blisteringly ecstatic Sparky's Dream, arguably one of the finest songs ever written, an unashamedly upbeat, loud slab of fuzztone rock and hyperactive vocal harmonies, which seems to contain three timeless melidies in as many minutes! By the time Songs from Northern Britain had been released the band were arguably mellowing out, and a more mature, acoustic sound began to develop, along with a merry Byrdsian guitar jangle. It's Not Enough, one of their biggest singles, exemplifies these West Coast influences very effectively, with I Don't Want Control of You sounding most like their earlier work - although even this begins with a hilarious banjo line which sounds like the theme from the Teletubbies! And then of course there's the emotive lovelorn ballad Your Love is the Place Where I Come From, a song the author Nick Hornby described as one of their finest...
...except for the fact that one of the three brilliant bonus tracks tops it. Did I Say, arguably amongst their finest tunes, distills everything great about the band, from the stark simplicity of the songwriting, the naggingly wonderful 12 string jangle, a stirring violin solo in the middle, and gorgeous vocal harmonies. This song still sends shivers down the spine three years after I bought this record. Why it was not released as a single, god knows!
Anyone who loves their indie served with simultaneous helpings of guitar noise and crystaline melody by Scots with a Seattle and Sixties fetish will find this album a revelation, if not in terms of originality, then certainly for sheer listening pleasure. As will lovers of great, timeless pop music in general. This is music to smile, jump in the air, drink beer and fall in (and out of) love to. Once you've listened to this I guarantee you will want to buy all the other Fannies albums.
Get yer credit card out!

The Beatles: 1
The Beatles: 1
Offered by Bridge_Records
Price: £8.46

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Number ones from start to finish, 2 Mar. 2006
This review is from: The Beatles: 1 (Audio CD)
No Beatles compilation can ever be perfect for the simple reason that they released so many great songs. As far as providing a succinct introduction to an artists work on one 80 minute CD is hard work for most bands of any merit, for the Beatles, nigh on impossible!
This record is, however, as great an introduction to the music of John, Paul, George and Ringo as any, bringing together all 27 (yes, 27) number ones together in chronological order. Even long time fans will no doubt still be surprised and delighted by the groups rapid progression from the raw, high energy rock'n'roll of the early years, through to the wilful experimentation that characterised the bands best work from 1965, taking in soul, psychedelia, and a couple of beautiful ballads, ending with stuff recorded around their swansongs, Let It Be and Abbey Road.
This is a record I can recommend to any first time listener. Of course there are plenty of tracks that should have gone on but didn't, but the Number One theme keeps the record focused. The music has also been digitally remastered, bringing home with clarity what a life-affirmingly brilliant band they were.
My only gripe with this album is Yellow Submarine, arguably their worst song, although that is just my opinion. Otherwise, a superb introduction to one of the most innovative and successful groups of their, and any, generation.
When you've listened to this you'll want to buy all their other albums, of which I can recommend Sergeant Pepper, Rubber Soul, Revolver or, best of all, Abbey Road.
Get listening!

Price: £9.92

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nuggets of undistilled, raw genius, 21 Feb. 2006
This review is from: Nuggets (Audio CD)
Nuggets culls numerous demos, studio sessions and blistering live tracks which were recorded over a twenty year period. They date from round about 1972 with the birth of the second incarnation of The Stooges up to the scathing punk-metal of 'Love Bone', recorded in Switzerland in 1991. Much of the recordings are of bootleg quality, but this shouldn't be an issue for Iggy fanatics who like their rock raw and untamed. Best of all the majority of the tracks did not appear on any of his studio albums, making this essential listening for any fanatic of the godfather of punk's music.
Stooges fans are no doubt familiar with 'I Got A Right' and 'Gimme Some Skin', outtakes from the Raw Power sessions, featuring some blistering guitar work courtesy of James Williamson. Arguably the highlights of a compilation full of highlights, age has not dimmed their ferocious primal power, and no serious proto-punk fan should be without them.
Also worth listening to are a couple of tracks recorded on the 1977 American tour in the aftermath of the release two of the Ig's critically lauded and successful solo albums, The Idiot and Lust for Life. 'Rock Action' rocks with a slow, pounding, menacing and sexually explicit groove, whilst in 'Modern Guy' he rails against the stupidity, shallowness and narcissism of seventies youth. Both tracks point to how Lust for Life might have sounded if Pop's lust for life had been replaced with cynical malevolence.
Iggy's hectic touring schedule towards the end of the 1970s and early 1980s is also well showcased, a time when diminishing sales and public indifference forced him to play in comparatively tiny clubs across the States and Europe. Despite this, the performances captured here are largely excellent, particularly the thrashing pop-punk of 'Puppet World' and 'Hassles', and a cover of 'One For My Baby', showcasing Iggy's Sinatra-like croon to a vocally abusive audience in Detroit! There are also some great covers, most notably The Kinks' 'You Really Got Me' (featuring The Damned's Brian James on lead guitar and Glen Matlock of the Pistols on bass) and a numbingly intense take on ? And The Mysterons' '96 Tears'.
There are a few duff tracks, though, but this is understandable given the extremely low quality of some of the recordings. 'Flesh and Blood', a rare, echoey electro-rock number that might have been recorded for The Idiot, sounds tinny and sloppy - it was recorded in 1980, a time when a coke and alcohol fuelled Pop was regularly hiring and firing musicians he worked with, and the band sound dreadful and unrehearsed. Likewise the early eighties demos recorded with Rik Ocasek and Steve Jones are nothing to shout about, although they do point to the more airbrushed, commercial sound that revitalised his career during that decade. Even these sessions contain the odd little gem, notably a cover of Sly Stone's 'Family Affair'.
All in all this is essential listening for Iggy Pop fanatics, as well as those who love great rock'n'roll stripped of fancy production values, sloppy, dangerous and from the heart. For the first time listener I would suggest the Fun House or Raw Power by the Stooges, or Iggy's two Berlin albums. If this collection was a bank vault, though, there are more than enough golden nuggets contained within to reward those who delve in for years to come. Enjoy!

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