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Stevie Dal "Cool Album Of The" (Denny, Scotland)

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Rock Springs
Rock Springs
by Richard Ford
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece........, 22 Jun 2011
This review is from: Rock Springs (Paperback)
Simply unbelievable . This is easily one of the best collection of short stories i've ever read , in fact i'll say it IS the best . It's certainly the one i return to most often . Ford has a unique ability , both here and in his classic novel "The Sportswriter" to capture the loneliness that lies at the heart of the human condition and it makes for compelling reading . Also , although all the stories are separate entities , it's a very cohesive collection , you can easily imagine that all the main characters here are the same person , albeit at different stages and situations in their life . I have no idea if this was the intention but , for me , that's how it comes across and it's no bad thing.
Since i'm here i shall take the chance to recommend some other great short story collections ;
Eleven Kinds Of Loneliness by Richard Yates
Beginners by Raymond Carver
Trailerpark by Russell Banks.
You can't really go wrong with that lot , all excellent.
But make sure you get "Rock Springs" first , a work of rare beauty..........

Infinite Arms
Infinite Arms
Price: £6.07

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Infinite Beauty....., 22 May 2011
This review is from: Infinite Arms (Audio CD)
Band Of Horses have come a long way in the last seven years or so. Formed circa 2004 in Seattle by South Carolina native Ben Bridwell and his friend Mat Brooke , early promise saw them land a deal with that fine city's most famous label Sub Pop.
Two albums, "Everything All The Time" and "Cease To Begin" followed fairly quickly (Brooke left after the former and formed his own band Grand Archives) and some amazing live shows helped cement their reputation. Along the way they also found time to gather up a pretty fanatical group of followers. I well remember my first introduction to the band when i saw them on TV performing live at the Glastonbury festival, it was an amazing show but what also caught my attention was the crowd, my jaw dropped when the BBC cameras panned 'round to reveal punters dancing along merrily with large papier-māché horses heads on ! It was a surreal sight and i've pretty much been hooked ever since.
There have been a good few changes since then and band mates have come and gone along the way, Ben Bridwell being the only remaining founder member. At the moment the current line-up seems pretty solid and they've also re-located operations back to South Carolina and signed to Columbia Records for their third album "Infinite Arms", an outstanding release which was not only a firm contender for 2010's Album Of The Year crown but was also Grammy nominated. It lost out to "Brothers" by The Black Keys, another fine album. But that's for another day, for now we concentrate on the matter at hand - "Infinite Arms".

On the first few plays, what leaps out at you are the influences. The band wear theirs proudly on their sleeves and there's nothing wrong with that whatsoever, especially when you take them and mould them into something fresh , new and exciting. What it all adds up to is a very modern take on what can really only be described as Americana, indeed it's as close as anyone has come to that mythical "Cosmic American Music'" as envisioned by Gram Parsons all those years ago. That's a weighty term but it's one which Band Of Horses bear with ease.
For me anyway, there are strong echoes here of the likes of The Band, The Beach Boys (Brother Records period) and Neil Young/Crazy Horse. Also, musically, there's a delicious cross-pollination of styles and indeed genres going on here : Rock, Folk, Power- Pop and, maybe best of all, a healthy dollop of Country on top. Sweet melodies, lush arrangements and love-lorn vocals abound, it all adds up to something special indeed.
Lyrically it's crafty as well, fragments, gentle-nudges in the direction of the tale for the most part. Often, the listener gets just an idea of what's happening and is left to piece it together, fill in the blanks on their own. This is a big part of what makes the record intriguing and keeps you coming back to it.

The overall excellence makes it hard to select highlights but i'm fond of these ones:
Bluebeard / exquisite harmonies and backing vocals are the making of this track, it's almost a tribute to "Sunflower" -era Beach Boys. The end section is flawless and makes a great song even better.
Evening Kitchen / A sparse folky number, gorgeous effort with a wonderful double vocal and an infectious guitar hook.
Laredo / This one's very much in Crazy Horse mode, it fairly struts along, catchy as hell and a real contender for best track on the album.
Older / This is a beauty. Written and sung by keyboard player Ryan Monroe, it's laid-back number, sounding somewhat like a mellow Flying Burritto Brothers if they had Carl Wilson making a cameo appearance on the mic ! Utterly sublime.
NW Apartment / ferocious, driving guitar on this, pounding drums and lyrical postcards from various locations.

Although the album is a real team effort by the band it would be remiss not to mention the immense input of Ben Bridwell, he's the lead singer and main songwriter and he turns in a superb showing on this one, he's getting better with each release and if that keeps up the next album will be mind-blowing.

It all sounds thoroughly modern and bang up to date due to the excellent production but also, firmly rooted in the past, there's a heart to this music that can mainly be found in ancient tradition, there's also timeless music, expansive and wide-reaching.
Americana in it's very best form.

Price: £5.10

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmeric., 19 April 2011
This review is from: Grace (Audio CD)
Make a list of the best debut albums of all-time and it won't be very long before you get to Grace. For, quite simply, Jeff Buckley and his band created a beautiful work, rich and varied in scope, tough but also tender.
As a performer in his own right, Buckley first came to the attention of the public (and most A&R men) when he took up a weekly residency at Sin-E, a small basement cafe in New York. Appearances there saw him hone his craft to perfection, crafting a rare beauty from his soaring vocal range, dazzling guitar skills and myriad influences, most notably Led Zeppelin, Nina Simone and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Indeed his very first release (Live At Sin-E) was a 4 track EP which really captures the sheer magic being conjured up at these intimate evenings. That EP is now available in a Deluxe version, expanded to a massive 34 tracks! It's well worth seeking out.
The debut album followed shortly thereafter and it doesn't disappoint.

Jeff's original songs more than cut the mustard." Mojo Pin "comes drifting in slowly, an abstract but effective beginning, not kicking in fully until its final 60 seconds. It sets things up nicely. "Last Goodbye" has a groove to it, and a swooping Zeppelin-esque guitar riff to die for. "I hate to see the love between us die, but it's over ", a gorgeous farewell with a lovely string motif for good measure.

"Lover, You Should've Come Over" is a slow burner, an aching lament, wrapped in misery.
There are also 3 cover versions here, for many the real heart of the album. "Lilac Wine", a song he was familiar with through his admiration for Nina Simone is given a definitive reading and "Corpus Christi Carol", although slightly overblown, can take your breath away in places.

And so we arrive, as we inevitably must, at "Hallelujah". One of the very best songs by one of the very best songwriters, Leonard Cohen's own version is, of course, wonderful in its own right. John Cale (ex- Velvet Underground) put a slight twist on it , recording a lovely live version in 1992 and it's the latter's take on it that provides the template for Buckley's interpretation.

Keeping the arrangement sparse he leaves plenty of room for that remarkable voice of his to become the main instrument and with good reason, he soars.

Without doubt it's one of the greatest cover versions ever recorded, a magnificent tour de force.

"Dream Brother", possibly the best original song here, is saved until last, a gentle, dreamy meditation on loss, it provides a haunting finale.

The Very Best Of
The Very Best Of
Price: £10.53

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars wee gem, 26 Mar 2011
This review is from: The Very Best Of (Audio CD)
This is a great Cd to play on a sunny Spring or Summer day , it's wonderfully played and sung , harmonies and melodies are sublime. Hard not to like it as it's so infectious. I would take a star off because , although i love the guy's singing , i think his lyrics can be a bit cliched and indeed ....naff . At times. I'd still recommend it if you love upbeat sunshine music though.....
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 21, 2012 8:16 AM BST

Fish Tank [DVD] [2009]
Fish Tank [DVD] [2009]
Dvd ~ Katie Jarvis
Price: £7.00

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's real., 27 Feb 2011
This review is from: Fish Tank [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
Fish Tank is a raw , gritty and realistic portrayal of a brief period in the life of a 15 year old girl , Mia. Superbly played by Katie Jarvis , an outstanding young talent.Some places in Britain aren't exactly great to live in but this film does a wonderful job of outlining that people who live in such places have hopes , dreams , ambitions just like anybody else . We know this of course but sometimes it needs restating.I think it's a fantastic film with a real heart and i look forward to more from this director (also responsible for the equally stunning Red Road i believe).
If you want make believe , fantasy or to be patronised look elsewhere , if you want real thought provoking work then you need to watch this film.

Love And Jealousy: The Deeper Side Of Southern Soul
Love And Jealousy: The Deeper Side Of Southern Soul
Price: £6.27

28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Compilation, 4 Feb 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is an absolutely wonderful compilation of Southern Soul , mostly featuring relatively unknown artists. There are some exceptions of course , notably Syl Johnson , Al Green , Ann Peebles and OV Wright , all of whom well represented by sterling efforts . However , i have to tell you that this CD is worth the money for one outstanding track , I Die A Little Each Day by Otis Clay . It is superb and one of the finest examples of the genre you could ever hope to hear . At a budget price you really should snap this one up . Incidentally , ALL the other tracks are of a very high standard and the packaging is half decent as well , totally worth the money .

From Acoustic to the Wall of Sound
From Acoustic to the Wall of Sound
Price: £18.38

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful !, 5 Jan 2011
Dion in the 70's......
It's a long long story is Dion's , from late 50's doowop star/teen idol , to blues singer with stops in between taking in acoustic folkie, Dylan interpreter, Phil Spector collaborater , Gospel , jeez , you name it , the guy's done it. And for the most part , done it very well.Musically speaking of course . The man's private life was another matter....
This little gem of a compilation focuses on my favourite part of his career (roughly 70 til 75) and does a fine job of uncovering just how superb and under-rated the man was in that time span.
His early 70's work was mainly in the acoustic vein , singer/songwriter stuff . Best album from then would be Sit Down Old Friend followed by Sanctuary , there was another two (You're Not Alone and Suite For late Summer) which were also damn good efforts. All four are worth tracking down in their own right but on here you get a generous selection from each , 10 tracks in all plus a couple of non album singles from the period. I'm amazed that these albums aren't better known but competition in this field was , it's fair to say , pretty tough in the early 70's and maybe the man didn't get a fair listen because of how he was perceived . If you like Neil Young , James Taylor et al , from the same period , i think you'd love these albums.
But it doesn't stop there . In 1975 Dion went into the studio with legendary producer Phil Spector and together they created "Born To Be With You' one of the all time superb albums , an utter masterpiece. This comp has no less than 5 tracks from it with the following years lovely single "Baby Let's Stick Together" ( a miracle that The Ramones or The Jesus and Mary Chain never got round to covering this one ! ).
Then , the following year , came Streetheart. In all honesty it's a very average effort , the mans worst in a decade , still , hearing the tracks on here , slotted in amongst all the other gems , a couple don't seem so bad .

So , all-in-all , a masterful overview of a much neglected period in Dion's career , well worth picking up and once you get addicted you'll simply have to go back and get all the original albums .
Oh , and while you're at it you may as well get "Wonder Where I'm Bound" as well , his 1969 classic !

Singles A's & B's Vol 1 1964-1966
Singles A's & B's Vol 1 1964-1966
Price: £12.58

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Class, 19 Dec 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is utterly superb . Joe Tex had a very distinctive voice , one of the very best soul singers there ever was and this collection is full of amazing performances . Unlike a lot of 60's soul the quality of the B sides here is most certainly not just filler , the material is very strong throughout , on random play it's hard to tell the A sides from the B's .
Buy with confidence because there's hardly a bad track here.

This Side of the Big River
This Side of the Big River
Price: £13.65

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Little gem, 10 Oct 2010
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This is just a mellow , laid - back little gem of an album . Singer -songwriter stuff with a Country slant , the easy style of Willie Nelson . The songs are of a consistantly high standard and it's a bit sad that this album isn't better known really . Chip has had a real career revival recently of course and newer fans could do a lot worse than check out his 70's output .
You may well be pleasantly surprised . All we need now is a lovely wee re-release of his "Last Chance" , i'd love to get my hands on that one !

The Guitar Song
The Guitar Song
Offered by MasterDVD
Price: £7.06

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Album Of The Year, 2 Oct 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Guitar Song (Audio CD)
I've been playing this double CD on constant rotation for the past 2 weeks and it still keeps me enthralled , the songs have so much subtlety and depth to them , far more than you normally would find on a "mainstream" Country album .
Stylistically , it's very much in the Waylon/Outlaw camp so if you like that kind of thing you will love this . Jamey is a new artist to me but i will be searching out his earlier stuff that's for sure . Utterly brilliant and it is my vote for Album Of The Year . If you love hard-boiled Country music with gritty lyrics then you can look no further , a new saviour has arrived !
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 17, 2012 7:40 PM GMT

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