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GlynLuke (York UK)
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More Jack Than God
More Jack Than God
Offered by jim-exselecky
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Jack feeling free again, 19 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: More Jack Than God (Audio CD)
One or two of the tracks on this fascinating 2003 album remind me of the rarefied musical landscape Robert Wyatt often inhabits - and Wyatt has sung with Bruce in the past.
Jack B never ceases to amaze, delight and inspire me. I have quite a few of his records now, including his work with the peerless Cream, and a happy collaboration with Robin Trower on the superb Seven Moons.
Vernon Reid, of the band Living Colour (and how tremendous they were live!) plays guitar, not for the first time on a JB album. Jack sure knows how to choose his collaborators.
There's a contemplative feel to some of these songs, not least his reworking of his old standby We're Going Wrong, with its slow, tortured crescendo until Reid lets rip with some splintery guitar.
Jack also revisits old Cream classics I Feel Free and, perhaps more profitably, Politician.
For the rest, there's plenty of his trademark succinct bass, eloquent piano, and that distinctive voice like no other.
There are few people I'd rather listen to these days, and this addition to the glittering Bruce canon is close to his best. For some it may not be quite up there with, say, Harmony Row or Shadows in the Air, but there's so much going on in these fourteen tracks that the Jack Bruce lover will be more than satisfied. It certainly doesn't sound like anything else.

Great title, terrific album.


Never Said Goodbye
Never Said Goodbye
Offered by mrtopseller
Price: £3.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Sweet Cerys kicks ass, 19 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Never Said Goodbye (Audio CD)
There are Kate Bush albums less interesting than this follow-up to the rather twee Cock-a-Hoop. I make the comparison since both have an inherent 'sweetness' to their voices which can turn harsher when necessary, for example on the raging track Oxygen, from this excellent set of eleven songs.
Cerys Matthews is what I'd call a Good Thing. She's well established now as a radio presenter, song collector, and general good egg. This sumptuously presented digipak with booklet that includes the lyrics is a selection of thoughtfully written songs by the Welsh chanteuse, all with arrangements which complement the varied musical styles on show.
Such are Cerys's many interests and activities we perhaps don't hear as much from her as we might like, so this often breathtakingly lovely album from 2006 was doubly welcome.
To me there are no actual highlights, merely 45 minutes of likable songs that I enjoy more each time I play them.
I love her enthusiasm, and her ability to 'sing out' if the song needs some welly. To labour the Kate Bush comparison again, to my ears this is a more memorable album than the latter's Aerial, released nine months earlier. It doesn't meander or drift, there's substance here, coherence too.
A fellow-reviewer has said this is clever and fun - I couldn't agree more. I like this album a lot. It has integrity and, in its own modest way, a sassy kind of class.
The final song Elen is sung in Welsh, and closes this rather special event with a gentle, caressing beauty.

Hyfryd, Cerys!


HARMONY ROW
HARMONY ROW
Price: £7.63

5.0 out of 5 stars Jack of all shades, 14 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: HARMONY ROW (Audio CD)
I love Jack Bruce.

I love this highly unusual, endlessly rewarding, beautifully remastered album.
I love the combination of the words by Pete Brown and Jack's music.
I love the sheer intelligence of all JB's music, over his many and diverse projects, both rock and jazz and all points between and beyond.
I love his unique, instantly recognisable, plaintive voice.
I love his sturdy, rounded, often heart-stopping bass playing.
I love his upliftingly energetic piano playing.
I love his willingness to take risks, his thrilling unpredictability.
I love the fact that Jack is still around making vital music.
I love Harmony Row, all that went before it, and most that came after.

I love Jack Bruce.


Somethin' Els
Somethin' Els
Price: £12.24

5.0 out of 5 stars Ships in the night, 14 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Somethin' Els (Audio CD)
Every record by Jack Bruce is different from the last. This one's very different, from almost anything else I've heard, by Jack or by anyone.
This magnificent musician never ceases to amaze, thrill and inspire me. He can sing tenderly, or like a soaring angel who just can't keep what he has to say to himself.
He can hit notes you wouldn't believe possible, and he can move you near to tears with a slow-burn ballad.
This 1993 album followed Automatic, on which he'd flirted with techno sounds. He'd also not personally been a very happy bunny, so it's doubly good to hear him so joyously abandoned on these varied songs, the first three with old compadre Eric Clapton guesting on guitar, to fine effect. In fact these three tracks are quite wonderful, Waiting on a Word & Ships in the Night being particularly memorable, as is the lovely Close Enough For Love.
From then on it's surprises all the way, with a couple of angular, wayward numbers that at first sound a bit of a trial to listen to, but in fact are all of a piece with JB's questing spirit.
The album proper ends with an affecting instrumental called FM, one of several tracks which prove what a superb pianist (and all-round stunning musician) Jack is.
The extra three tracks are astonishing, and would appear to be from another album altogether - Snake Music - made with Mark Nauseef and Miroslav Tadic, with David Torn on guitar. One of them is a version of old JB song Rope Ladder To The Moon, and another is a very slow, brooding cover of the old classic Hendrix hit The Wind Cries Mary - which you must hear!
Maggie Reilly sings with Jack on two songs, and the excellent Clem Clempson plays guitar on most tracks.
I love almost everything Jack Bruce does, and this is no exception. As singer or bass virtuoso, pianist or harmonica player (a good example of that here, too) this man is close to genius.

Somethin els? Somethin els again...!


I Feel Free - Ultimate Cream
I Feel Free - Ultimate Cream
Offered by westworld-
Price: £10.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Creamed, 12 Sep 2014
Along with Free, I think Cream were the best British band of the late sixties, and both still sound like two of the best bands ever to wield a guitar, thwack a drum or throw a mic in the air.
Not that Jack Bruce did much tossing of microphones, being lead singer as well as bass player. Nor did he need to, being as he was stupendous at both. I'll try not to make this a Bruce love-in, but I do love and admire the guy more than I can say, this stunning compilation one of the reasons why. Or rather, 23 of the reasons why.
I'm so glad (I'm glad, I'm glad...) the compilers haven't lumped all their hits together at the beginning, as it's good to encounter them as you go along, so Badge is track 21, Strange Brew track 6, etc.
It starts with Wrapping Paper, which at the time sounded a bit throwaway, but now takes its place in the Cream canon as their first single and a compelling song in its own right. In the light of later Jack Bruce compositions - and like so many here it is co-written by Pete Brown - it makes perfect musical sense. For some of us it was probably the first time we'd heard the unique Bruce voice: that high, generous, expressive tenor that seemed to be able to sing anything.
Clapton sings a few of these too, and I've always thought him an underrated singer as well as a superb guitarist. His contributions on these songs as singer, guitar wiz and songwriter are exceptional.
What can I say about Ginger Baker? While others (with justification) go on about Bonham, Moon, or Watts, here is the master of them all. I've never heard such crisply eloquent percussion from any rock drummer before or since. Listen to him on White Room or Strange Brew: impeccable. Like Bruce, he has a jazz background as much as a rock one, and that must have helped. Jack sings like a jazz vocalist as much as a rock singer, and Ginger's stick-work has very much a jazz-inflected sound.
There isn't a single track on this 80-minute selection that isn't worth hearing. Some of the songs sound as fresh as the day they were recorded - nearly fifty years ago in some cases!
Three brilliant musicians, who didn't always get on with each other, came together from 1966-68 and made some of the era's most thrilling, vital, original music. Here's are 23 fine examples of what they achieved.

Thunderously good.


Blind Faith
Blind Faith

5.0 out of 5 stars Wanton joy, 11 Sep 2014
This review is from: Blind Faith (Audio CD)
Although this may have started out as an Eric Clapton LP, with Steve Winwood on vocals, Ginger Baker filling the drum seat, and Rick Grech on bass, hearing it now it sounds like the presiding spirit is that of a freed-up Winwood, his voice a wayward, wanton wail on all these tracks, backed by Clapton in fine form and the expected dynamic brilliance of Baker, with Grech doing fine too.
What a time the sixties were for young, soulful-voiced singers - not only Winwood, but Van Morrison, Paul Rodgers, Steve Marriott, Jess Roden, etc. How did they manage to sound so full of wizened old-man soul?
Of them all, Winwood (and Van too) sounded the most drenched in a bluesy Ray Charles soulfulness belying their young years. On Blind Faith's sole album, he sounds as if he's singing exactly how and what he wants to. He wrote what are arguably the three best tracks: the terrific opener Had To Cry Today, the wonderful Can't Find My Way Home, and the appropriately titled Sea Of Joy.
There's also a rather stately version of Buddy Holly's Well All Right, which to these ears sounds better than it did back in 1969. The other songs are the powerful Presence Of The Lord by Clapton, and the fifteen-minute free-for-all Do What You Like - credited to Baker - which brings to a close this wanton, joyous one-off from a golden quartet of great musicians.
I liked Blind Faith 45 years ago when I was all of eighteen, but I love it now. It was mainly recorded in the spring of '69, but to me it's a summer record.
It's interesting that, when he's the only singer, and he's given his head, Winwood sings like a delirious banshee, or a genie freed from his bottle. It was true on Traffic's career-best LP John Barleycorn Must Die, and it's true here. This is his album as much if not more that the others', and he makes the most of it.

[NB. My review is of the original "Mastered for CD" issue from Polydor, with the original cover, and with no extra tracks (in fact no extra anything). The latter are not missed, and the mastering is perfectly fine.]

Uplifting music I just want to keep on hearing.


Shadows In The Air
Shadows In The Air

5.0 out of 5 stars Jack back in the white room, 10 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Shadows In The Air (Audio CD)
Each time I listen to an album by the unique Jack Bruce it sounds like the best thing I've heard since - well, since the last one.
This hour-plus of sheer magic features guest spots from Clapton - a new version of Sunshine of Your Love similar to the old one, and a complete re-imagining of White Room as a slow, Latin flavoured song; from the late Gary Moore on two tracks, where his sumptuous guitar sound pays dividends, and from Dr John (who's cropped up everywhere over the years) playing keyboards on two other songs.
Vernon Reid, of that exciting, underrated band Living Colour, plays guitar on six tracks, and various other musicians, including a violinist, percussionists and a brass section, add to the fun.
Fun? Oh yes! There are several quite contemplative songs on this wonderful record from 2001, but the overall feeling is one of uplifting music allied to the lyrics (for the most part) of old Bruce stalwart Pete Brown.
If you already like JB, hesitate no longer, and get hold of a copy. If like me you love the guy, and just about anything he's turned his hand to since the heady days of the mid-sixties and Cream, then this is essential stuff.
I don't know or care whether you'd call Jack a blues, jazz, rock, or even a soul singer, but there's plenty of his characteristic soulful, bluesy, jazz-inflected singing here, along with the expected nifty bass work.
The lengthy opener Out Into The Fields gives hints of what's to come. It's a truly superb song that builds to an impassioned climax over Reid's guitar and Alfredo Triff's violin. Things don't let up for a moment, and there really isn't one dud track. I get the feeling JB took infinite pains with this set of fifteen songs, such is the precision of the playing, the musical textures, and his own often understated singing.
There's such amazing variety on show too. Directions Home is "for Tony Williams and Larry Young", the two jazz musicians with whom he'd already collaborated, and is unlike anything else here.
It's so good to hear Jack & Eric playing a storm on Sunshine...and the brand new version of White Room (one of my favourite Cream songs) has to be heard to be believed. Beautiful.
It all comes with a booklet which includes all the song lyrics, plus photos of a flowing-haired Jack, along with the musicians.
I think Jack Bruce is one of Britain's most brilliant musicians, with a voice I never tire of hearing. This recording is so good I can only urge you to get a copy as soon as you can, and be seduced by this incredible music.

As I say: unique.


Out Of The Storm
Out Of The Storm
Price: £12.19

5.0 out of 5 stars Lights in the darkness, 8 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Out Of The Storm (Audio CD)
This is, to be unapologetically blatant about it, one of the most beautiful albums I have ever heard, at least in the realm of 'rock' music, though this has as little to do with conventional rock as the music of, say, Van Morrison or Eno.
The cover alone makes you want to hear the music inside - Jack barely visible in a woodland clearing at night, his jacket hung on a low branch of a nearby tree, against the bark of which an old bicycle leans. A ghostly light illumines the scene.
According to the notes in the excellent booklet, he and the photographer went out hoping for a storm, since the LP was going to be called Into the Storm, but not a drop fell. However, they did find a wood, went into the wood, and so...
The songs were composed by Jack B and his old writing companion Pete Brown - who should get an award of some kind - and each one is a gem. There are no actual 'highlights' though Brown's own favourite, the movingly lyrical Golden Days should be mentioned, as should the title track and the wonderful Timeslip. But really, the whole album is so very special that cherry-picking is pointless.
On all the songs, there is a feeling of a hesitant light making its presence felt through an encroaching darkness. It's haunting stuff - 'but beautiful' as the man said.
Over the years, Jack Bruce has become one of my favourite people in contemporary music, a stunning singer - whose every word can be understood, such is the bold, full-hearted generosity of his voice - as well as a remarkable bass player and, as if that weren't enough, multi-instrumentalist, not to mention a songwriter of a rare and distinctive originality.

This is one of Jack Bruce's finest recordings, and I happily recommend it without qualifications, and with all my heart.


Tatiana
Tatiana
by Martin Cruz Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

4.0 out of 5 stars "You're looking for the wrong boat", 8 Sep 2014
This review is from: Tatiana (Paperback)
For some reason I had never read any of Cruz Smith's books until I chanced on this latest one, but now I'm going to read them all.
I knew from the first page, indeed the first paragraph, that I would enjoy Tatiana (so to speak) as the author writes like a dream. That's the bottom line for me - is this book well-written or not? - and why I can't read, say, Archer or Dan Brown.
As I was reading I even noted down two lines that sprang out at me, something I will only do when the writing is this good:

He looked as if he had dressed from a stranger's clothesline.
One in the morning was a territory as much as a time.

There's a clipped, mordant strain running through the novel that I find irresistible and which kept me reading late into the night. Cruz Smith doesn't waste words, you seldom feel he's trying to impress, even at his most impressive.
The plot is fairly convoluted (though much less so than many crime thrillers) and, to be honest, does lose a little focus in the last third of the story, when the action has very much moved from Moscow to the feral, tattered Kaliningrad with its beachside denizens and monstrous Soviet-era buildings.
There's also a vital plot device concerning a notebook containing a string of inscrutable symbols, which perhaps outstays its welcome. But for the most part, this is a thrilling, vivid, engrossing read from a writer whose superb powers of description and characterisation keep one glued to the page.
The denouement is maybe a bit too neat, and the big scene aboard the "wrong boat" is mere grandstanding, though enjoyable.
I lived and worked for over two years in post-independence Kiev, and I recognised with both a thrill and a shiver the utilitarian blocks of flats, the derelict areas of land, the down-at-heel men and beautiful women living alongside seedy, sharp-dressed, unscrupulous mafia thugs, the idealism of the few battling against an inherently corrupt system, leading either to resigned acceptance or risk-taking questioning of said system. It's all too credible.
I am so glad to have found this novelist. The quality of his writing defies genre.
Back to the beginning for me, and those bodies in Gorky Park...

Despite minor reservations, highly recommended.


Mulholland Drive - Special Edition [DVD]
Mulholland Drive - Special Edition [DVD]
Dvd ~ Justin Theroux
Offered by gowingsstoreltd
Price: £11.94

5.0 out of 5 stars Friendly strangers, 7 Sep 2014
[NB. Since Amazon persist in grouping all reviews of a product under its various editions etc, it's important to say this I am reviewing the 2-disc Special Edition.]

Well, what does it all mean?
If you're someone who likes a clean beginning, middle and end to a film, play or book, you might not like this, but you'll be missing out on one of the most compelling films so far this century, and arguably David Lynch's masterpiece.
I don't for a moment think it "means" any more than a Rothko painting or a concerto by Maxwell Davies means something. The beauty of Mulholland Dr. - and I believe it to be, in its dreamlike way, a film of great beauty - is in the innate integrity of its storytelling, the commitment of the actors, the seamless appropriateness of Angelo Badalamenti's brooding score, the playfulness of its identity-swapping, the scarcity of its well-chosen moments of violence, its intelligently unsqueamish eroticism, and its intuitive casting. (There is a lot more about all these things in the excellent extras that come with this edition, including interviews with most of the main cast members, who quite obviously love and admire their director, who in turn comes across as a quietly passionate, likable gentleman.)
The story, as such, is a dream, a mystery, a sleep-walk in the dusk, an attack of morning blues, a Hollywood nightmare - complete with mafia men (one played with suave aplomb by Badalamenti; I love the way he says `napkin`!), starlets, bohemian landladies and, this being a Lynch movie, something nasty behind the wall of the diner...
The always resourceful Naomi Watts gives one of her best ever performances as the initially sweet, amiable Betty, and the much less well-known Laura Elena Harring, who ought to be much better-known, is equally superb, in a very different role as the enigmatic amnesiac "Rita". Their scenes together - including a genuinely arousing, even touching, but never sensationalised love scene - are played with an honesty and sense of the delicacy of the situations they find themselves in, that you can't help but be caught up in whatever mystery grips them.
Justin Theroux is brilliant as an impatient young film director who is harrassed by the Mob, and veteran Hollywood actress-dancer Ann Miller is well-cast as Betty's landlady. In fact, all the acting is spot-on. Even county singer turned actor Billy Ray Cyrus scores in a cameo as a young stud.
You have the feeling (especially after watching the extra features) that people love working on a Lynch film.
I simply love this movie, will happily watch it a couple of times a year till I die, and don't have too much patience with those pedantic nay-sayers over in the Single Star Saloon who complain that it's "arty" and impossible to follow. Me, I'd follow it anywhere, any time. And every time I do, this dark blue film takes me along different roads, down new blind alleys, into the heart of the small blue box with its tiny, tantalising blue key...

Unmissable.


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