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Profile for Mr. Philip Baird > Reviews

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Mr. Philip Baird (Isle of Man)
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Sad or High Kicking!
Sad or High Kicking!
Price: £7.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The second of Martin's early masterworks, 11 Aug. 2011
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This review is from: Sad or High Kicking! (Audio CD)
Martin's second album Grinning In Your Face was an absolute masterpiece and for him to follow it up with another set of songs and performances that at times seems to even deepen the feel and emotion of that record was some achievement. I can lose myself in these recordings such is Martin's ability to communicate and express a song through his playing and heartfelt vocal. His technique and facility on the guitar is stunning but it is entirely at the service of truth and expression, and he can attain an intensity of emotion and introspection, as for instance on the title track, that is incredibly moving. The only disappointment for me on the album is the cover of Lakes of Ponchartrain, and I'd have preferred a more searching exploration of this wonderful song. That said, I don't think he ever bettered these two albums and he richly deserves the success that he now enjoys with a long stream of great recordings to his name. I couldn't even get a ticket last time he was round my way !


Chronicles: The Very Best of Free
Chronicles: The Very Best of Free
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £25.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best blues band ever to come out of Britain, 10 Aug. 2011
Free took American blues and did something entirely their own with it, giving it a deep soul, space, and English wistfulness that no other band ever quite matched. In Paul Rodgers they had a vocalist who could sing a ballad that was, in his own way and in the rock idiom, just as good as Frank Sinatra, and with all the passion, soul, and restraint of Otis Redding. If you doubt it then just listen to his performance on Don't Say You Love Me before you make your mind up. On the same track Paul Kossoff shows how nobody could do more with less better than this much missed English guitarist and he played with a soul and feeling that is still so moving. Andy Fraser's bass lines seem to almost tell the story of the song like no other bass player I've ever heard and are so deep and melodic that it allows Kossoff to step back and only play where he feels. The relation and musical understanding between Kirke, Fraser, and Kossoff is perhaps the best in rock and the space, depth and feel they find in the music has arguably perhaps only been matched by Little Feat at their peak. The music is really allowed to breathe and there is never power or volume just for the sake of it. They wrote some truly wonderful songs too and it's a shame that All Right Now obscures the quality of their whole output. What a shame that Free lasted only such a short time but what they did in that time was absolutely magic, and you have most of that magic on this superb compilation. There'll never ever be another Free, and that's both a regret and a blessing.


Tumbleweed Connection (Remastered)
Tumbleweed Connection (Remastered)
Price: £5.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An old friend that just mellows with age, 13 May 2011
This is a complete one-off in the Elton John catalogue but easily the best thing he's ever done. Despite all the image and showmanship of the Elton we know, he has always had the talent to back it up and this album shows him and Bernie early in their career creating a near artwork before the arrival of superstardom and excess.

His earlier self-titled debut had shown great promise but suffered from overblown and bombastic arrangements. Everything was toned down for Tumbleweed and the more laid back approach allowed the melodies and lyrics to really shine through. On this record the orchestration underscores and lifts the music rather than drowning it. Whether it was originally wholly conceived as a suite of songs dedicated to the old West is doubtful but it is against that imaginative backdrop that the album works and allows each song to resonate with such haunting nostalgia and yearning. I think of it as a fond old scrapbook pulled down from a dusty attic, or a flickering reel of very early black and white film.

As suggested elsewhere, Elton is less the 'star' on this outing, and delivers a modest and nuanced reading of his own beautiful songs, aided by subtle and intelligent musicianship, and before he became bigger than the music. I don't think he's ever recorded anything more fragile and sensitive than Come Down in Time, or more evocative and stirring than My Father's Gun. Has he ever again captured the beautiful simplicity of Love Song with Lesley Duncan, or the yearning ache and loss of Amoreena ? The inclusion of Madman Across the Water on the CD releases of Tumbleweed suggest that it is the one that got away as it fits so well into the poetic landscape of the other material. Its drama and imagery, especially with the addition of Mick Ronson on this version conjures a mood, power and vision that Elton has only rarely matched and never again surpassed.

Why Tumbleweed Connection is never rated up there with Astral Weeks as one of the great picture-postcards of a time and place has always puzzled me and I wonder if it's because Elton chose a more commercial route (or it chose him) subsequent to this most personal and deeply affecting album of the boy from Pinner. He did rather well didn't he.


Glorious Fool
Glorious Fool
Price: £4.74

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of John Martyn's finest, 4 May 2011
This review is from: Glorious Fool (Audio CD)
Although John was past his artistic peak by the time of this release he would still go on to put out some very fine music, and this was the best of his post 70's output. It's actually as good as any of his key works but perhaps not so creative and vital as the essential Bless the Weather, Solid Air, One World etc releases of a few years earlier. It's one of the best albums of the 1980's by any artist and has some of John's finest compositions, particularly the definitive recording of Couldn't Love You More, and the sublime Hold On My Heart with a beautiful flugelhorn solo. The Phil Collins sound is all over it but actually adds to the dynamics and texture of the album for the better. It's a companion piece to Phil's own Face Value and came out around the same time. I always preferred the more introspective side of John's muse but the couple of harder edged pieces on here really work and set off the overall melancholy of the album. Even by his standards the emotion and feel achieved on this record is quite beautiful and it could perhaps be considered his most overlooked masterpiece. Go on and see for yourself.


Shane [DVD] [1953]
Shane [DVD] [1953]
Dvd ~ Alan Ladd
Price: £4.04

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Western and one of the great American movies, 29 April 2011
This review is from: Shane [DVD] [1953] (DVD)
What's not been said already about this masterpiece of American cinema and culture ? It is rightly revered as one of America's great popular artworks; addressing a nation's sense of itself, its history, its roots, and its sustaining myth and legend. It is an idealised and romantic vision, but has a nobility, dignity and grandeur that still endures; and survives intact the revisionist cinema and cultural self-doubt of the 1960s and 70s. Its iconography belongs on a Mount Rushmore of great American Westerns with the Duke and Gary Cooper, and it will always be so.

Alan Ladd, if not the greatest screen actor, is perfectly cast perhaps because he is the idealized hero, and his character contrasts beautifully with the more nuanced acting of Van Heflin and Jean Arthur, and the wonderful naturalism of the supporting cast. Both he and Jack Palance (no mean actor) represent the white and the black knight, as much tropes or types as they are characters, major pieces in a moral chess game between good and evil.

In its two hour length there is very little action, and an editor today would have cut the film to ribbons, but every scene counts as it slowly builds up the tension and suspense and the need for the final necessary act. Even the climactic shootout is quickly over and done with because everything has already been said in the expository scenes. Joey is a wonderful child narrator and like Pip in the early scenes from David Lean's masterly Great Expectations we see through his eyes. Even some of the later scenes when he follows Shane to the final showdown remind this viewer of the images of Pip running across the marshes.

The most beautiful and painterly scene in the film is the burial on Cemetery Hill with a lovely stillness as the light fades and the camera pans across the mourners. The composition and lighting make it one of the greatest in American cinema. The only slight criticism I can make of the film is that there are a few too many shots of the mountain backdrop that begin to look a bit postcard-like after the first couple of views.

In conclusion, there are a few other great Westerns that come close to Shane, but having seen this probably a dozen times since I was a kid, it still moves me like no other, because its sense of truth and moral purpose takes you with it every time. It renews and reinforces values that are, or certainly should be, part of who we are; and if not, then we're definitely in trouble.


Three Classic Albums Plus [The Jazz Couriers - In Concert / The Couriers Of Jazz / Tubby's Groove]
Three Classic Albums Plus [The Jazz Couriers - In Concert / The Couriers Of Jazz / Tubby's Groove]
Price: £5.43

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tubby and Ronnie at their absolute best, 13 April 2011
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Well thankfully this doesn't hang about and from the off Tubbs and Ronnie are out of the gate and blowing up a storm with a fantastic drummer Bill Eyden kicking hell out of the drums. They let up for the odd ballad or two but soon ride the wind again in some of the best British jazz you'll ever hear. There's bags of atmosphere too (and Ronnie's 'jokes' !) and I wish I'd have been there for the live recording. Tubby's solo on Tin Tin Deo is just magic and is even perhaps up there with Coltrane and Rollins such was the talent of the man - ideas just flow out of him. Sunny Monday is another highlight and quite beautiful. This country has produced some wonderful jazz musicians and composers but none better than the British king of the tenor, the late lamented Tubbs. I wish I could have met him. Don't hesitate to put this one in your basket.


Benefit
Benefit
Price: £5.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One for real Tull introspectives and many fans favourite, 15 Nov. 2010
This review is from: Benefit (Audio CD)
Hard to categorise this one and I suspect Ian Anderson probably doesn't rate it too highly. I think you have to be a real Jethro Tull fan of the early years to get the full depth of this, and it does have some serious weaknesses. But when I followed the band for the first half dozen or so early albums, this was probably my favourite. It's something to do with the sound world that Ian Anderson and the band created and somehow it's curiously at its most personal and affecting on Benefit. Ian's creativity in these early years was almost unmatched and I prefer his more straight ahead song writing of the period to the later concepts and conceits that were soon to follow. There was a real charm and whimsy to some of the writing that, unlike some of the later stuff, was unforced and effortless, an almost child-like innocence that seemed to echo the England of Lewis Carroll and Kenneth Grahame, cricket, cream teas, holidays in Blackpool and friends called Jeffrey. Anderson with his flute and acoustic guitar could sometimes charm things of great beauty and simplicity, and with the permanent addition of John Evan on piano ushering in the classic Tull line-up, the nursery was complete. It's an album of real rainy day introspection that leaves the American blues influences of This Was behind for a more English wistfulness and longing. Perhaps my favourite Jethro Tull track of all is the very minor and very Beatles influenced 'Inside', not a well known song in their catalogue but I find it very affecting. There was nobody quite like Jethro Tull back then and they hold a very special place in English rock music. If you can get into Benefit then its finest moments take you to the very heart of what they were about.


Vagabonds Of The Western World (Deluxe Edition) (2CD)
Vagabonds Of The Western World (Deluxe Edition) (2CD)
Price: £12.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great memories of a great band, 24 Oct. 2010
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My personal favourite of all the Lizzy recordings successfully blends Phil's early foray into folk myth and lyricism with Eric Bell's stinging stratocaster, Brian Downey's superb drumming (he's vastly under-rated) and of course Phil's playboy gypsy swagger and wonderful Rickenbacker tone and inventiveness. Their early promise was fulfilled on 'Vagabonds' before they went off in a new direction to mega stardom.

Although you can't help loving everything the great Phil Lynott did, I feel Thin Lizzy lost an essential element of their sound and appeal when they adopted the twin guitar line-up that took them to a wider audience. Perhaps Lynott couldn't afford to be so indulgent again; once he found the formula - he stuck to it, and you can't argue with that. I suspect too that he could exert more control over the band once Eric Bell left, as although he was and is a fabulous and inspired player, you always get the sense with Eric that he needed reining in. When he keeps his playing tight and concise, as he mostly does on this album, he is a beautifully gifted player with a touch and feel like Clapton's, and his contribution to the success of this record is as great as Lynott's.

Of the tracks on the original album, perhaps the opening Mama Nature Said sounds the most dated and it was always perhaps the weakest inclusion; but it's held up by what comes after. I always loved The Hero and the Madman, and although Tolkienesque wizardry and quest legend usually leave me cold; the inventive telling, playing and structure of the track really shines. There is some lovely bass playing and drumming and the outro solo by Eric is breathtaking in its attack and lyricism; perfectly complimenting and rounding out Lynott's wholly original composition. Slow Blues would be pretty standard blues noodling but Bell's touch and tone is unsurpassed here and every note counts in a masterclass of blues guitar. Enough has been said about the album's highlight and Thin Lizzy's finest moment, The Rocker; and on Little Girl In Bloom and Song For While I'm Away we have two of Lynott's most tender lovesongs. The latter is how I sometimes remember him by and it's a great Irish homecoming song.

The bonus tracks make the whole package a treasure-house for Thin Lizzy fans and a reminder of why John Peel and Kid Jensen loved these lads back when we were young.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 31, 2012 1:51 AM BST


Against The Grain
Against The Grain

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rory's last truly great album ?, 25 Sept. 2010
This review is from: Against The Grain (Audio CD)
I sense a much welcome reappraisal of the great man's work is taking place, and there are now some genuinely wonderful releases coming out that capture this lovable Irish bluesman at his best. Looking through the reviews I notice that this mid-70's album seems to be undervalued in amongst the better known recordings. I think that this arguably marks the end of his peak creative years and that although he continued to be an amazing live performer, his records never quite matched this quality again. Against the Grain has a real crackling electricity and vibrancy to it and the material is very strong from start to finish. There is also an accessibility and commercial spark to this album that should have broken him to a new and bigger audience, and if the BBC ever do release the OGWT concert that showcased these tracks then you'll see Rory at the very top of his game. He really pulled out all the stops on Against the Grain and captured a great sound from the studio. The keyboards of Lou Martin really gelled with Rory's guitar on this album and genuinely added to the palette of sounds and moods. There is a whiplash energy and urgency to the uptempo numbers and the soloing is concise and never outstays its welcome. Out on the Western Plain perfectly captures the myth and mystery of the old West and repeated listenings reveal depths to the song that can easily escape the casual listen. Perhaps the highlight of the album is All Around Man and Gallagher is all over the song in a real display of showmanship that captures the performative element of blues so often lacking in other white bluesmen. This album really is Gallagher off the leash in the studio and is a riot from its opening bars, to the closing plaintive cry and sincerity of At The Bottom, one of his most affecting songs and emotive vocals. No Gallagher fan should be without this.


Sometime World: An MCA Travelogue
Sometime World: An MCA Travelogue
Price: £9.99

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb compilation of a vastly under-rated band, 2 Sept. 2010
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I've always really liked Wishbone Ash but listening to this years later I'm struck by just how very classy they really were. This was intelligent, melodic, harmonic, thinking person's rock music, with a deep and significant English feel to the songs and lyrics and marvellous musicianship all round. There is some stinging guitar playing, full of invention and ideas and you can really hear Martin Turner's superb bass-work and Steve Upton's great drumming on these remasters. On disc one the writing and playing is nothing less than inspired, and lifts them higher than all but the very best of their era. This is great music in any genre and transcends the boundaries that we think of as rock. If disc two doesn't quite match the compositional originality and quality of disc one then the playing certainly does and not many bands can boast this sort of level of ability. You can also only imagine how many other bands that must have copied their style, and their influence on European rock in its most fertile and interesting years. Therefore it is one of rock history's great injustices that this band have been largely overlooked since their early seventies heyday, while lesser bands who never scaled these heights of creativity are accorded more respect and continued success for a thinner volume of work. I can think of a few huge name bands who never made music quite this good. Hopefully this wonderful compilation may go some way to remind us just what remarkable quality they were - and to some extent still are - and perhaps one day they'll be recognised for their magnificent contribution to English rock music.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 25, 2012 3:17 AM BST


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