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Marchespie (UK)

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Radio Sputnik
Radio Sputnik
Price: £6.32

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly great electronic album - honest!, 21 April 2011
This review is from: Radio Sputnik (MP3 Download)
I can't believe nobody's reviewed this album yet! Someone needs to spread the word that this is an exceptional album of intelligent electronic music from two of its most accomplished exponents, Ian Boddy and Mark Shreeve. Whilst the instrumentation is principally a moog modular for the analogue sounds and many retro sounds from sampled mellotrons etc, the overall feel is thoroughly modern. I'm not kidding with the 5-star review - this isn't one of those sycophantic reviews from an anorak-wearing fanboy (OK, maybe just a little bit...). This album is up there with Tangerine Dream's 1974 classic "Ricochet".

Like most of the best electronic albums, this is a live album. Don't be put off by this - it adds a sparkle to the music that's missing from a lot of electronica (including Arc's own studio albums). The sound quality is breathtaking, with a really deep analogue bass throbbing beneath much of the music. The album kicks off with the driving pulse of "Steam", which is as good an example as any of the sound of the album - semi-improvised but also melodic and accessible. Strong and rhythmic tracks alternate with ambient interludes (Transmit 1 and Transmit 2), creating a very coherent and listenable sequence. If you want to try downloading just one track, go for the amazing "Arc-angel". If you don't like this, then you won't like the rest of the album! Radio Sputnik is treat from start to finish, and highly recommended.

Flock of Bleeps
Flock of Bleeps
Price: £16.72

4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth it, but sags a bit in the middle...., 10 April 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Flock of Bleeps (Audio CD)
This CD contains some fantastic music. Wholeheartedly recommended to anyone who likes intelligent and inventive dance music. The first four tracks, up to and including album highlight Crumblenaut is an uninterrupted sequence of pure delight, interweaving voices, real instrumentation and samples with brilliantly-produced backing tracks. It's almost worth getting this CD for the crisp snare sound on Crumblenaut alone. In common with Shpongle and OTT, the rhythms are dubby and loose and the tone is light and pure entertainment.

Things slip a little in the middle of the album. There's a complete change of pace and tone, with four four-to-the-floor tracks that are much more straight techno/trance and far less remarkable for it. Many danceheads will like these, but personally I've heard too much of this sort of thing before. Time to skip to the end of the CD, where two shorter tracks, Safety Zone and the lush and ambient Bedtime Story restore the tone of the opening quartet of tracks and bring the album to a decent close. I would have much preferred a shorter and more consistent album, but the good stuff on here is VERY good indeed, and definitely worth getting.

Offered by \/\/ WORLD WIDE MEDIA MARKET /\/\
Price: £28.44

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Raving and drooling, 26 Mar 2011
This review is from: Animals (Audio CD)
This album belongs very much alongside Wish You Were Here, as much of it was written and played live in 1974. Finally committed to tape three years later, this is yet another in Floyd's run of excellent 1970's albums. The melancholy of the preceding album is replaced here by bitterness and cynicism, reflecting what we now know what was going on in Roger Waters' mind at the time. Lyrically, the album uses various animals as extended metaphors for aspects of human nature and 20th century life that Waters finds abhorrent. The sound is relatively under-produced and stark, with rarely more than just the four members playing together. This was the last Floyd album to follow the pattern of being honed by touring it before release, so it was well-suited to playing live. Despite this, Waters' dominance of the band was becoming increasingly apparent, with only one co-writing credit for the rest of the band (Gilmour on Dogs). Whilst Rick Wright does not contribute any material himself, his inimitable playing still makes its characteristic mark throughout.

The album starts unassumingly, with simple acoustic ballad fragment Pigs On The Wing Part 1, which serves to set the scene with its spartan sound and desolate message. Things get going properly with the strummed intro to the 17-minute Dogs. Dogs is crammed with some of Gilmour's best ever guitar work, the emotion in his playing perfectly complementing Water's desolate and dark lyrics. The central section of the track, where it dissolves into an extended and uninteresting interlude of synth chords and sound effects, is less effective, followed by a largely unnecessary recapitulation of much of the first half - but the song redeems itself in the final two minutes with a rousing finale reminiscent of a harsh version of DSOTM's Eclipse. Dogs is a flawed gem, that could really have done with being 5 minutes shorter, but the first 8 minutes or so rank amongst the best things Floyd ever recorded.

Side 2 is more consistent and entertaining, and with a touch more levity than the bible-black Side 1. Pigs (Three Different Ones) has an enjoyable dig at busybodies, Mary Whitehouse and Margaret Thatcher apparently among them. The dry wit of lyrics like "Bus stop rat bag" and "you're hot stuff with a hat pin" are backed with some matching musical wit from Gilmour as he uses a talk box to make his guitar sound like pig squeals, and finishes with a pretty good solo. As good as Pigs is, it is bettered by the stunning Sheep. The most upbeat song on the album, with more graveyard humour as the sheep rise up to overcome their masters. Sheep ends with a stunning descending guitar figure from Gilmour, the highlight of the album. This fades into the second half of album opener Pigs on the Wing, with a lighter tone to the lyrics ending the album on a cautious note of optimism.

Animals is a fantastic album, not perhaps as perfect as its two predecessors, but a bleak, atmospheric and brilliantly-played piece. It's nothing like punk rock and yet, despite being written years before punk, seems more in tune with the tone of the times than some of the punk rock itself was. Oh, and let's not forget the cover - quite how a picture of a power station is relevant to the music escapes me, but the image is totally arresting and perfect - one of the most iconic record covers ever.

Wish You Were Here
Wish You Were Here
Offered by MUSIC4SURE
Price: £16.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How do you follow Dark Side of the Moon? Like this., 8 Mar 2011
This review is from: Wish You Were Here (Audio CD)
This one continually vies for top spot in the which-is-the-best-Floyd-album competition. If truth be told, I admire this one more than DSOTM but I play it far less, because it is so drenched in melancholy I have to be in a reasonably robust frame of mind before putting it on. Very different structurally to DSOTM, there are only really four songs on this, the epic 26-minute Shine On You Crazy Diamond plus four shorter and more conventional songs. Shine On is split into two to both open and close the album. It's a sombre, reflective and slow progression through many different stages, with only brief vocal sections. Shine On is a collaborative effort, containing Rick Wright's last contributions to the songwriting until his rehabilitation on The Division Bell nearly 20 years later, but it is Gilmour's guitar that holds centre stage. Dave Gilmour's playing is never flashy - never guilty of showing off, his playing is all about control, expression and emotional communication. His first few notes here, played high over shimmering sustained keyboard chords are a perfect example of his playing - relatively slow, economical and deceptively simple, but brimming with emotion. His technique is perfect, and I can't think of any other guitar player who comes close to delivering the same levels of musical involvement.

The first time I heard the start of the album (aged 14, bless) I was baffled by how little was going on and the way it was over 8 minutes of intro before anyone started singing. I missed the point of course - it's not an intro, it's the core of the song, and one of the most complete and perfect pieces of rock music ever recorded. This is still true today, and it's already 35 years old - will rock music ever better this? A few brief and heartfelt verses about Syd Barrett lead into a sax section, which then dissolves into Welcome To The Machine. This was for a long time one of my top Floyd tracks, a devastatingly effective marriage of a deep and primitive synth throb and crisp acoustic guitar. Waters' lyrics are desolate and effective and the song structurally very simple, topped by a looping synth solo from Wright - written by Waters, but with major musical contributions from Wright and Gilmour, this is another illustration of how collectively effective Floyd were at their peak.

Side 2 opens with Have a Cigar, perhaps the least strong song on the album (but only in the sense that after several hundred plays I often skip it now). The title track is up next, one of the first things any budding acoustic guitarist learns to play, a true classic. As the song fades down, Shine On begins to reassert itself, with bass stabs punctuating swirling wind effects. The second half is more energetic than the first, but in no way more cheerful - the air of melancholy is all-pervading. After a wailing, riff-driven segment, Water's vocals return for more musing on Syd, before Wright's elegiac keyboard takes us to a slow fade. WYWH remains one of the all-time best rock albums. It has barely dated a minute.

Dark Side of the Moon
Dark Side of the Moon

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best album ever?, 8 Mar 2011
This review is from: Dark Side of the Moon (Audio CD)
There was a period in Pink Floyd's career when it all came together perfectly. The post-Barrett Floyd were always a band which was greater than the sum of its parts. Solo albums by individual members have often sounded recognisably Floydian but have always fallen well short of the synergy that occurred when Floyd were at their best. If you imagine an arc from 1969 to 1983, it begins with the fragmented solo efforts of the studio Ummagumma and ends with The Final Cut, a Waters solo album in all but name. At either end of this period, Floyd were weaker for being dominated by individuals, but in the middle - 1973-75 - when Roger Water's vision and lyrics were peaking but tempered by the musical contributions of the rest of the band, Floyd made (in my not particularly humble opinion) The Best Rock Music Ever Made. Dark Side Of the Moon is the first of the brace of albums they released during this period, and is of course where they hit the commercial jackpot beyond their wildest dreams. There is so much going on here - the inspired songwriting from Wright, Waters and Gilmour, Water's direct, simple but effective lyrics, the theme running through the album, the snippets of spoken word peppered through the background, the amazing musicianship, the groundbreakingly good production and recording quality... even the album sleeve is one of the most recognisable ever. And I haven't mentioned the guitar solos yet... Listen to any other album from 1973 and nothing comes anywhere near the quality in depth of this album.

There is such a sense of a musical event to Dark Side Of The Moon. It begins with a bass drum heartbeat, a motif that crops up throughout the album. Soon after the first of many recorded voices is heard, and sound effects pan from speaker to speaker to introduce Breathe, the first song proper. Breathe is 70's soft rock, complete with pedal steel guitar and layered vocal harmonies. Breathe segues gently into On The Run, three minutes of rapid--fire VCS3 arpeggios and panning sound effects, and the most synthesiser-driven track the Floyd recorded. Time is the album's first stone-cold classic. The monumental introduction of stentorian chords and crisp roto-tom drumming leads to one of Waters' strongest-yet songs - and better is still to come with one of Gilmour's most gut-wrenchingly soaring guitar solos. Side 1 (of the old vinyl) ended with a complete change of pace in Wright's The Great Gig in the Sky ( now also known as The Music From that Painkiller Advert). Again the synergy between all the elements elevates this track into the extraordinary, as Wrights already-gorgeous piano chord progression is accompanied by session singer Clare Torry's now legendary improvised and inspired vocal wailing.

As good as Side 1 is, Side 2 is even better. Money begins with a tape loop of cash registers ringing and clanking, leading into a 7/4 bass guitar riff that works so well that I suspect that most listeners never realise that it's in a really unusual time signature (it took me years...). Waters' new direct lyrical style works brilliantly in a series of wry and witty couplets. The track switches effortlessly to a straight 4/4 beat for the middle eight and Gilmour's absolutely screaming guitar solo, surely the most exciting two minutes of electric guitar ever recorded? The band play as if their lives depend on it, with fire and conviction honed by the preceding 5 years of virtually non-stop touring. Mason's drumming is electrifying. Money is followed by Us and Them, based on another Wright chord sequence. This starts gently and serenely but builds into a huge production, complete with miraculously non-corny sax playing and massed female backing vocals. The brief instrumental interlude of Any Colour You Like leads neatly into the album's climax, the elegant Brain Damage and the massive one-long-chorus of Eclipse. We are left with the final chord ringing in our ears as the drum heartbeat fades and one final spoken voice tell us "there is no dark side of the moon, really - as a matter of fact, it's all dark". I must have listened to this album well over a thousand times and it still grips me from start to finish. An absolute masterpiece, and don't let the fact that it has sold by the million deter you.

Obscured By Clouds
Obscured By Clouds
Price: £15.10

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than you might think, 8 Mar 2011
This review is from: Obscured By Clouds (Audio CD)
Nestling between two much better-known albums (Meddle and Dark Side) came the short and sweet Obscured By Clouds, the soundtrack to the little-known film La Vallee. The nondescript cover, odd song titles and the fact that this is nominally a film soundtrack might be a little offputting, but there is lots to love about this album. Once past the opening brace of (excellent) instrumentals, it's much more a collection of songs than conventional soundtrack music, much in the vein of Side 1 of Meddle - but actually better in many respects.

Whilst there is nothing here to perhaps rival Echoes or most of Dark Side, the songs are consistent and the whole album is one of those that can be played from start to finish without a duff track. Two songs stand out for me - Gilmour's Wot's ...Uh The Deal?, a clunky title for a magical 4-minute acoustic ballad, and Waters' Free Four, it's dark and depressing lyrics entirely at odds with its big and upbeat arrangement. If this album is missing from your Floyd collection, it's time to plug that gap!

Offered by MUSIC4SURE
Price: £12.49

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Finding their feet at last, 8 Mar 2011
This review is from: Meddle (Audio CD)
This is where Pink Floyd's run of classic 1970's albums really begins. Meddle is very much a game of two halves - side 1 comprises a set of shorter numbers, whilst Side 2 is taken up entirely by Echoes. Side 1 opens with One Of These Days, and dense and dramatic instrumental based around a thudding Roger Waters Binson-echoed bass riff. A showcase for all the band, and co-written by them all, this is a great curtain-raiser and was a staple of the band's live set for the next few years. The rest of Side 1 is a progression of mainly gentle and relatively undemanding guitar-led soft rock. The jazzy, Bacharach-style San Tropez is not eveyone's cup of tea, but I really like it. Side one ends with the two-minute blues joke of Seamus, a contender for the worst Floyd track ever - but it's mercifully brief.

What makes Meddle such a great album is the presence of the mighty and sprawling Echoes, many fans favourite Floyd track. Echoes was assembled from various fragments and jams, and was developed during concerts, originally entitled Nothing and evolving into Return of the Son Of Nothing before being rechristened Echoes for the album. Beginning with Rick Wright's organ imitating a sonar "ping", the song's stately development takes us through and extended intro into a relatively short (and lovely) verse-chorus section. This is followed by the frankly fantastic Funky Bit, an extended jam over massive bass, jabbing organ and wailing guitar. In live form this section was an absolute BELTER. The jam dissolves into wind effects over which Gilmour's bird-effect guitar screeches for a few minutes before the band very, very gradually rises out of the chaos for a reprise of the verse-chorus and a big instrumental crescendo. The last three minutes fade away gently and effortlessly into more wind noise. Ahhh....

Atom Heart Mother
Atom Heart Mother
Offered by thebookcommunity
Price: £19.79

6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nice cover, shame about the album, 7 Mar 2011
This review is from: Atom Heart Mother (Audio CD)
Good things about Atom Heart Mother:
- The title (taken from a newspaper headline)
- The cover (absolutely inspired)
- The track titles
- The Funky Dung guitar solo in the title track
- Two great tracks - Fat Old Sun and Summer '68
- The first true flowering of Roger Water's lyrical ability in the superficially pleasant but really quite disturbing "If"

Bad things about Atom Heart Mother:
- The muffled, flat production
- The overlong and only partially successful title track
- The interminable one-joke Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast

This was Pink Floyd's first number one album, though a less likely number one is hard to imagine. Side 1 is pretty uncommercial, a single long instrumental track that is an unwieldy marriage of the band, a choir and a brass band. Bits of it work and bits of it don't, and I very rarely listen to it anymore. If you can track down a 1970/71 live version of it (without the brass band and choir), then you'll hear a very different and MUCH better piece.

Side 2 is better, with 3 decent songs and the rather two-dimensional instrumental jam (with cooking sounds) of Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast - this is too bland to offend but only bears one or two listens before the novelty wears off. Of the songs, the one that stands out for me is Rick Wright's polished Summer '68, which integrates the brass band very well and has a tremendous momentum. The fans' favourite is Gilmour's Fat Old Sun, featuring an early example of a soaring Gilmour guitar solo to round off the song. Overall, AHM has dated more than most of Floyd's early 70's work and is probably the weakest (or perhaps "least brilliant") of their 70's albums - but of course, this is all relative to some of the greatest rock music ever made, so in that context the album is still an essential purchase.

Price: £19.53

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Schizophrenic, 7 Mar 2011
This review is from: Ummagumma (Audio CD)
1969 Double album Ummagumma divides opinion but it is still an excellent snapshot of Pink Floyd at one of the most interesting times in their career - post-Barrett, but pre-Dark Side. These are the Space Rock years. They had yet to hit the commercial jackpot and still had no clear leader or frontman (or musical direction for that matter). Disc 1 is a 5-star album and Disc 2 a 3-star album (and that's generous!) - hence the overall 4-star rating.

The real reason to buy Ummagumma is Disc 1, the live album. A pristine (and very well-recorded for 1969) document of the band approaching their live peak, we get extended versions of Astronomy Domine, Set The Controls for the Heart of the Sun, Careful With That Axe, Eugene and A Saucerful of Secrets. This is just guitar, bass, drums and organ and yet it sounds genuinely cosmic. It's just a shame that the Floyd never released their many other epic live tracks from the 1969-1971 era - Embryo, the 10-minute version of Cymbaline, the 15-minute Fat old Sun, and the far superior live 4-piece version of Atom Heart Mother (the one without the brass band).

Disc 2 features half a side given over to each band member. It demonstrates very clearly that the band were always more than the sum of their parts, and they worked better when fully collaborating. Perhaps predictably, Gilmour's is the most musical, Mason's is (ahem) interesting but is basically a drum solo, Wright's is self-consciously arty and Water's contribution is lyrically the strongest - but none are entirely satisfying.

Gilmour's contribution is The Narrow Way, which is accessible, melodic and contains some good guitar work, but in a subtle and hard to identify way, it somehow falls short of the best of the band's output, much like Gilmour's solo albums (and the Gilmour-solo-album-in-all-but-name A Momentary Lapse of Reason). Wright's 12-minute Sysyphus begins well, with its dramatic deep organ melody and thumping tympani, but then degenerates into interminable piano improvisation. Mason's Grand Vizier's Garden Party is a track that only a drummer could love. Waters contributes both the delicate and evocative Grantchester Meadows, the studio album's highlight, and the frankly bonkers Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In a Cave and Grooving with a Pict, which entertains somewhat less than its title does.

Saucerful Of Secrets
Saucerful Of Secrets
Price: £16.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Seeds (and small green shoots) of a new greatness, 7 Mar 2011
This review is from: Saucerful Of Secrets (Audio CD)
A transitional album, with only one Barrett contribution, the slender and unsettling Jugband Blues. Saucerful is NOT one of the great Floyd albums, containing some rather wishy-washy Wright songs (by the way, Wright felt the same way about them...) and the rest of the band, including new recruit Dave Gilmour, very much feeling their way though unfamiliar territory without Barrett to guide them. Waters makes two contributions - Corporal Clegg is a strange and raucous track, though it is notable for being the first time his obsession with war (futility of) is expressed in song.

Whilst it's unsatisfying as a whole album, there are brilliant highlights - the real reasons to get Saucerful Of Secrets are the title track and Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, which is every bit as good as its wonderful title suggests it will be. One of the key Floyd space-rock tracks, present here in a brief five-and-a-half minutes, later live versions sprawled over as much as 13 minutes. It's worth seeking out the many live versions of this track out there to see how it evolved - look out for the Hollywood Bowl 1972 version. The album's title track begins with 8 minutes of often frenzied improvisation and ends with a measured and beautiful Wright organ chord progression over which a choir of multi-tracked male voices ahhhh wordlessly. Truly magical.

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