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TCH (Cambs, UK.)
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Truths and Rights
Truths and Rights

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A wasted opportunity......., 6 Sep 2008
This review is from: Truths and Rights (Audio CD)
Straight off the bat I have to say Johnny Osbourne's "Truth and Rights" is without doubt in the top 10 reggae albums ever but this 'expanded' CD reissue really doesn't do it justice. To quote Honest Jon's Records on the subject, "Talk about an open goal, with so much great Johnny Osbourne at Brentford Road still un-revived, this comp is a miserably wasted opportunity. Honestly, pretty pathetic -- but still, a few extras and (dodgy) extendeds...". Couldn't put it better myself but it gets worse on track 4; 'Jah Promise' one of the best tracks on the album there is an audible tape glitch 1:18 minutes into the song (sounding like the source tape momentarily being rewound). This is utterly disgraceful in a CD that claims to be "remastered from the original tapes" with no caveat emptor about sound quality (sound restoration has come such a long way that such glitches can easily be eliminated) and marketed at a full price. Honestly Heartbeat Records really needs to tighten up their act since their last Studio One compilation "The Gladiators: The Studio One Singles" had an incorrect tracklisting (which I believe has now finally been corrected). It is a real shame with the supremely rich Studio One catalogue to choose from that Heartbeat are so hit-and-miss with some of their stuff being admittedly brilliant (eg. the "When Rhythm Was King" compilation) but other stuff so slip-shod (eg. the "Six The Hard Way" compilation, a real dog's dinner that one) and doubly a pity now it seem that the UK based Soul Jazz label appears to have given up issuing Studio One product perhaps thinking the well is dry (in which case they'd be wrong).

Best Of Dr. John, The: The Night Tripper
Best Of Dr. John, The: The Night Tripper
Price: 7.45

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant compilation of the Doctor's '68-74 purple patch......, 6 July 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a quite brilliant 2CD compilation at an astounding price. This compilation covers the Doctor's years on Atlantic records ATCO subsidary from the swampy voodoo of 'Gris Gris' to the second-line New Orleans funk of 'Desitively Bonaroo'. The sound is pin-sharp sounding remastered to me which is a boon since some of the original CD issues of the albums covered by this compilation date from the early '90s and as a result sound a bit 'thin' in comparison. Regarding the music the most significant observation is that the 1st CD contains the ENTIRETY (!) of Dr. John's '68 masterpiece, 'Gris Gris' which suffice to say is some of the eeriest yet accessible music ever made. In addition the 1st CD contains other choice tracks from the Doctor's late 60's / early 70's "voodoo" phase taking songs from 'Babylon' and 'Sun, Moon & Herbs' (in the latter instance the whole album split over CD1 & CD2) though curiously nothing from 'Remedies' (and therefore sadly does not include one of my favorites the joyous "Mardi Gras Day"). The selections are pretty solid though obviously you can nit-pick about the exact picks, for example I'd like to have seen space for "Glowin'" which is my favorite track from 'Babylon' but space limitations and the fact that all of 'Gris Gris' and 'Sun, Moon & Herbs' are here here makes omissions such as these forgiveable. The second CD is pure gold containing the balance of 'Sun, Moon & Herbs' and an intelligent selection of tracks from Dr. John's New Orleans roots excavation "Gumbo" (6 tracks) and the Doctor's two New Orleans funk classics; "In The Right Place" (6 tracks) and "Desitively Bonaroo" (6 tracks). No complaints about any of the selections here and the latter half of CD2 contains some of the funkiest music ever laid down in the 1970's (he was being produced by Allen Toussaint and backed up by the Meters at the time which should be recommendation enough!). Therefore in conclusion 2+ hours of some of the best (and original) music of the late '60s / early '70s for under a fiver you'd be a fool to pass on this one.

The Blue God
The Blue God
Price: 12.52

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superfine collaboration between Topley-Bird and producer du jour Dangermouse......, 14 May 2008
This review is from: The Blue God (Audio CD)
This sophomore album from Topley-Bird a full five years after her solo debut with the intermittently excellent 'Quixotic' is simply superb and a great deal of the reason for this is the choice of producer, Dangermouse, who really has been on a roll recently. The songwriting is mostly very solid but is greatly enhanced by the magnificent production which in the main sounds like a more spare "Gnarls Barkley" with the exception of the last track, 'Yesterday' where DM really digs deep into his bags of tricks for an OTT finale (with an absolute killer bassline by the way). Topley-Bird's singing is predictably excellent with that seductive low-key, woozy, slurry, narcotic feel that is all her own and refreshingly different to that despressing litany of bombastic Amy Whitehouse wannabees that are cluttering up the airwaves at the moment. This album has mystifyingly accrued some flak from critics for being too "pop" but in my opinion that is just critical snobbery, this album has a consistency of tone missing from Topley-Bird's debut, her singing is great, the production is stellar and the songs are mostly strong, what more do they want? So the music has a lighter tone than her debut; I for one like that aspect since I'm getting sick of the angsty self-absorbed music that's doing the rounds at the moment since that way lies the abomination of Amy Whitehouse's appalling "Rehab" (and its ilk), probably the most wretchedly self-mythologising, self-indulgent song of all time (which remember the critics loved by the way!).

Attack and Release
Attack and Release
Offered by Venture Online
Price: 7.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blues Rock with a progressive tinge......., 29 April 2008
This review is from: Attack and Release (Audio CD)
This album has been universally praised by the critics and has somewhat divided the fans, my opinion lies somewhere inbetween the two. Apparently so legend goes this album is the result of some songs the Keys wrote for Ike Turner to be included on an album produced by Dangermouse. However when Turner died Dangermouse and the Keys decided to collaborate directly and record the songs intended for Turner themselves. This may be why songs of the songs on the album aren't quite from the top drawer compared to the Keys previous illustrious standards, notably the opener "All You Ever Wanted" which is just a bit dull and the diptych of "Remember When (sides A & B)" at the album's heart which just isn't that great a song to merit two versions (or even one!). However there ARE some great tracks here, notably "Same Old Thing" (a knowing wink being offered here judging from the title), "Lies" and "Things Ain't Like They Used To Be" amongst others. They've definitely broadened their sound to incorporate other influences, notably 60's soul and psychedelia, but without diluting their core essence. How much this is down to Dangermouse I don't know but it must be said that DM's production IS fantastic, tasteful without overwhelming the Keys natural sound and sometimes mindblowing as in the Roland Rashaan Kirk styled flute on the intro to "Same Old Thing", I'd definitely like to hear more of that sort of thing in the future..... I'm hoping that DM and the Keys will hook up again in the future since they seem a natural, if not obvious, match and with a more consistent batch of songs matching the best on this set then a genuine classic could emerge. So nearly but not quite a home-run but still a very fine album from without doubt the best contemporary band out there at the moment.

The La's
The La's
Price: 15.64

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good reissue but could have been better......, 13 April 2008
This review is from: The La's (Audio CD)
This album has had a lukewarm review from John Harris in MOJO and I was expecting the worst especially with respect to sound quality of the Mike Hedges sessions which were apparently sourced from an old cassette tape. Well I pleased to report that the sound isn't nearly as bad as I was expecting sounding basically like a good quality demo tape which in a way these sessions were since this is the way Mavers wanted the album recorded in a "rough and ready" fashion just like his idols from the '60s who'd knock out an album in less than a week (or 1 day for the Beatles debut!). That said I can't help feeling a little disappointed with this reissue if not the music within which is of course brilliant, one of the few truly "classic" albums from the 1990s despite a couple of slightly subpar tracks on side B. My main reservation is that the two CDs are hardly filled to the brim with music (50 and 60 mins respectively) and the audience to whom a "deluxe" reissue like this is aimed at would be more than happy to see as much put on as possible despite the inevitable repetition this would entail for a band with such a slim legacy as The La's. Specifically the (excellent) liner notes include a full sessionography, why couldn't the spare room on the two CDs have been filled with some of the unreleased versions detailed there including such illustrious producers as John Porter and John Leckie. A few limited examples are included as "bonus material" but nowhere near enough considering how much room is left free on each CD. If nothing else it would give listeners an opportunity to see if Mavers had a point with his dissatisfaction with the recording process or whether he was just be an obdurate so-and-so (I suspect the latter). There are also a few stray B-sides and early single versions flying around, collating those too would've been expedient but of course this is likely a cynical record company ploy and in a few years there'll be another reissue with the "John Leckie version" or "Jeremy Allom version" of the album but I think the returns for the record company will be ever diminishing and it is unlikely the original fanbase will be inclined to pick up the next version and the version after than, especially if (like me) they are slightly dubious of the whole manoeuvre. Disgust with this sort of finagling might of course be why Mavers gave the whole game up going on for 20 years ago. In a way I hope so despite the overwhelming sense of wasted potential since the alternative is far less sympathetic simply that he's party to rampant self-mythologising and trying be a 90's version of Skip Spence or Brian Wilson or something. I suspect we'll never know which it is since I don't expect him to lay down another note of music in his life and apparently he is very content living off his royalties and playing the occasional informal gig. To be honest I hope he doesn't record any more since pop music is a young man's game, even if as listeners we can enjoy it for life, and there is no chance he could repeat that youthful brio and passion now he's approaching his 50's.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 7, 2009 10:09 AM BST

New Amerykah Part One (4th World War) - UK Edition
New Amerykah Part One (4th World War) - UK Edition
Price: 22.53

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Willfully self-indulgent but interesting........, 12 Mar 2008
Badu's latest opus after eight (!) years (unless you count the "EP" Worldwide Underground) is an intriguing but undoubtedly self-indulgent piece of work. Much has been made of the hip-hop direction she has adopted on this album which does lead to the use of repetitive loops and meandering, rambling song structures with few real hooks. Still her vocals are so compelling that in the majority of cases you don't mind with perhaps the exception of "Twinkle" and "Master Teacher" which result in a definite mid-album dip. Unfortunately there are a preponderance of semi-skits after a number of songs that are sadly not indexed separately from their accompanying main tracks so you can't program them out after the first listen (which you'll really want to do, believe me), another example of self-indulgence together with the fact that some of these "skits" last 2-3 minutes! It is best not to dwell on her lyrics too deeply especially in "Me" where she puts a shout out to the odious Louis Farrakhan (the leader of the Nation of Islam who has some pretty loathesome views including some directed at a significant proportion of Ms. Badu's audience). Apart from the "bonus" track; the single 'Honey' only two tracks have real vocal hooks, 'Amerykahn Promise' and 'My People' both alas lifted off songs by other artists (who is she "Oasis"!), the former off 'American Promise' by RAMP and the latter off 'My People... Hold On' by Eddie Kendricks. This is a pity since Ms. Badu has previously exhibited great compositional ability and experimental doesn't necessarily have to mean tuneless. Despite its manifest flaws I do rather like this album (although a bit of record company discipline just for once might've come in handy) since it displays an admirable degree of ambition and there is no doubt Ms. Badu is a charismatic and compelling artist which is why she still commands a sizeable cult audience even after an absence of five years. However it is ultimately an album to admire rather than love unconditionally and in that regard it rather reminds me of Bjork's recent "Volta", some intriguing ideas but a little more audience consideration would've been appreciated as well (if only to remove those damned skits or at least index them separately from the proper songs!).

Rockstone: Native's Adventures With Lee Perry at the Black Ark Late September 1977
Rockstone: Native's Adventures With Lee Perry at the Black Ark Late September 1977
Price: 11.90

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sorry to disagree with the first reviewer but this is lousy......, 24 Feb 2008
Right off the bat I am a huge admirer of the usually peerless "Pressure Sounds" reggae reissue label and possess most of their catalogue but without doubt this is by a long, long way the worst release they have ever put their name to. Please do not be fooled by the "carrot" of the produced by Lee Perry tagline, these sessions were unreleased for 30 years and on listening to them it is not hard to see why. Basically Scratch was doing it for the money, taking it off a very misguided, rich "Trustifarian" fool who was as delusional as those Pop Idol contestants that clog up our TV screens on Saturday nights. The first three tracks are marginally listenable but after that it is crapola all the way. I don't blame Scratch for taking the money, who wouldn't (?) but for Pressure Sounds to release this drivel 30 years after the fact, I'm frankly mystified. This stuff is so much worse than Pressure Sounds second worst issue, "Black Black Minds" by The Travellers which coincidently was also sourced from 30 year old unreleased sessions (Prince Jammy that time) - I think there is a lesson here somewhere, if its unreleased there is probably a simple explanation.... it is duff! Pressure Sounds please take notice.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 22, 2012 6:17 PM GMT

Life of Contradiction
Life of Contradiction
Price: 16.04

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Greatest reggae album of all time? I think so......., 24 Feb 2008
This review is from: Life of Contradiction (Audio CD)
This seminal album has already had a great write-up in MOJO and rightly so it is in my opinion the greatest reggae album (as opposed to compilation) of all time. Joe Higgs was one of the few under-recorded artists in reggae, more is the pity if this is the quality of work he was capable of. This CD is packaged beautifully by the supreme "Pressure Sounds" reggae reissue label sensibly using the same evocative album cover as the original 1975 issue. The sound quality is good, infinitely better than the early 90's semi-legitimate Micron issue and the liner notes are fantastic providing the full fascinating history of the genesis of this masterpiece (it was actually recorded in 1972 for Island Records but Chris Blackwell thought there would be no market for it {!} and it took 3 years for Joe to reclaim the mastertapes and release them). The songs themselves are uniformly beautiful with Joe's dusky, wise, richly soulful vocals riding the rhythms in stunning fashion, great lyrics too portraying valuable lessons from a hard life. The album is pretty short running just over 30 minutes and the running time is padded out with two bonus tracks "Let Us Do Something" (brilliant) and its instrumental rhythm. The one possible slight criticism is that the running time could have been padded out slightly more with some of the (apparently stunning) tracks mentioned in the liner notes such as "Wave Of War", "World Upside Down" and the monumental "More Slavery" (Higgs' own take on Burning Spear's "Slavery Days" but with his own [better] lyrics, this can be found on the 'Simply Reggae' compilation by Union Square and it is worth it for this one track alone!). Perhaps licensing issues prevented this from happening but it is a shame and perhaps an opportunity missed though it is churlish to complain considering what IS here. In conclusion this is a must for anyone with even a peripheral interest in reggae, you'll not regret it!

Model Shop [Us Import]
Model Shop [Us Import]
Offered by thebookcommunity
Price: 27.27

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant soundtrack album to a terrible film........., 23 Feb 2008
This review is from: Model Shop [Us Import] (Audio CD)
Spirit are in my opinion without doubt the most underrated rock band of all time. In their '67-'71 prime they oozed inventiveness and pure class at a level that makes the efforts of the vast majority of contemporary bands look laughable. They had it all a brilliant rhythm section (including a 40-something bald jazz drummer), a guitar prodigy (the sadly late Randy California, the son-in-law of the aforementioned jazz drummer!) who pioneered a distinctive and very innovative sustain-based droning guitar sound, a fantastic keyboardist (John Locke) entirely comfortable in both rock and jazz modes of play, and a capable expressive vocalist (Jay Ferguson). Their sound was a completely unique (and remains so to this day) combination of rock, psychedelia and jazz that is also extremely accessible and tuneful to the last. I think their problem has always been that the classic line-up broke-up in 1971 but Randy California and Ed Cassidy (the drummer) maintained the bands name through a series of inferior line-ups and albums over many years (into the '90s!) a mistake which unfortunately tainted the original band's legacy, a misjudgement which means that much superior music is now left neglected. This album is in the "buried treasure" category consisting of the 're-constructed' soundtrack to a long forgotten film by Jacques Demys (famous for directing the French musical classic, "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg") which by all accounts (including the liner notes) is an absolute stinker. The soundtrack album is largely excellent however, being mostly instrumental with Spirit wearing their jazzy, improvisational hat to great effect. Randy California peels off reams of jazzy Wes Montgomery-like licks in a "cool-jazz vein" ably backed up by John Locke on an array of keyboards including piano, organ and best of all warm mellow electric piano. The rhythm section do their thing ably but without indulgence (even the bass-solo on the haunting "Song For Lola" is performed tastefully and in the service of the song or more accurately the 'mood'). There are two vocals, the brilliant "Now or Anywhere" which nicely demonstrates all that was great about this band and "Green Gorilla" which really only has some vocalese on it as an additional texture - still pretty good though. The album has one bonus track tacked on, an unreleased demo of "Aren't You Glad" one of the stand-out tracks from their sophomore album, "The Family Who Plays Together" which positively smokes in this raw form with some truly burning sustain-led lead guitar from Randy California, a worthwhile addition. So in conclusion, a minor entry perhaps in the '67-'71 Spirit catalogue and thus probably only one for the fans but anyone with an open mind would likely appreciate this classy piece of work from this massively unappreciated band who are easily a match for any of the '60s 'greats'.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 7, 2010 7:45 PM GMT

Unforgettable: A Tribute to Dinah Washington/Runnin' Out of Fools
Unforgettable: A Tribute to Dinah Washington/Runnin' Out of Fools

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid twofer of Franklin's much maligned Columbia work......, 16 Feb 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This CD contains two albums from Aretha Franklin's Columbia period which has been maligned both rightly and wrongly for the last 40+ years. Usually this period has been criticised for poor song selection (eg. Broadway standards and overfamiliar jazz tunes) and the imposition of inappropriate productions and arrangements on Aretha. However these two albums are generally considered the best of a patchy bunch. Unforgettable is a tribute to one of Aretha's more notable vocal influences the R&B/Jazz great Dinah Washington and may've been cut after Washington's premature death in late 1963 which might explain why Aretha seems to be putting a bit more feeling into this material than alot of her Columbia sides of the time. Runnin' Out Of Fools rounds up alot of Aretha's more soul orientated sides from this period though it has a much more "uptown" soul sound than would be apparent on her titanic Atlantic sides from 1967 onwards. Since all of the songs on "Fools" are covers of recent soul hits and arguably none surpasses the original it is definitely one for the fans though it is facinating to hear Aretha tackle Dionne Warwick's immortal "Walk On By" in a nearly identical arrangement. There are occasional signs on "Fool's" of Aretha's trademark soaring, hollering, strongly gospel inflected vocal technique which she would perfect in later years but mostly things are still a little too 'polite' for those who love her classic Atlantic material, it is still a case of a 'work in progress' (though one that will be much appreciated by fans). Edsel also tack on three bonus tracks, two of which are nothing to write home about but one, "One Step Ahead", holds some extra interest for being sampled to chilling effect on Mos Def's classic "Ms. Fat Booty" (in fact I prefer Mos Def's use of the sample to the original tune (!) which never really quite gets going and one that accurately sums up so much of Aretha's Columbia work). In conclusion at this price if you are a fan you be a fool to pass on this opportunity to hear some of the strongest formative Aretha well packaged and with excellent sound quality.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 16, 2009 3:36 PM BST

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