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4.8 out of 5 stars27
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 26 November 2013
As a first hour EBTG fan , i have everything they released so far : The regular albums , the vinyl , the CD Singles , the US releases , the japanese ones and every compilation with one or two tracks from the cherry red period i didn't have already . Of course all of Tracey and Ben's solo work , and every song , Tracey lends her beautiful voice to ( Massive Attack , Tiefschwarz , Adam F, Tevo Howard , etc ....) .
I have at the start thought that the Deluxe Reissue versions of EBTG's back catalogue with some extra tracks and B-Sides was only an attempt of Warner trying to milk the old and true fans . I lately realised Tracey and Ben were involved in the process and not only had their words to say but were choosing songs , adding pictures , set lists and very personal stories to the new compilations .
I have already gone for the Deluxe version of The Language Of Life and wrote a review about it . I was expecting very much the release of Amplified Heart as i think this is the most mature and honest work they did so far . I was wondering if there would be any tracks i didn't have already . And yes ! Richard Says and Back At Square One were those tracks to make me decide to go for it . But i'm missing their lyrics . And of course the live tracks ( not those from the Missing Live EP ) which are my favourites and always show what a great live band EBTG is and their live performances are brilliant , especially the acoustic ones . They need no more than a guitar and a mike to take you to musical heaven .
Amplified Heart is not a common album . It was released after an illness that almost killed Ben and welded the relationship between Tracey and Ben . It was a turning point in their career as they were able to make music without pressure from their record company as they felt they had nothing to prove anymore . And the result is outstanding .
AMPLIFIED HEART has all what you expect from a mature pop album . Brillant songs. Moving lyrics , great melodies , beautiful singing , and a pristine sound . From an audiophile point view , this album is EBTGs best .
And on this Deluxe Edition , you won't be disappointed a single moment .
The demo versions are absolutely world class . Recorded at home to basic means , not produced or whatever , it's talent as it's raw state . Rollercoaster brought to me tears . So beautiful and so moving . Put the lights off and hear this track loud enough . You will know what i mean . So pure . So poignant . Two Star is an underrated gem and i rediscovered it anew . Troubled Mind is simply wondrous .
I was amazed by the sound quality of the live tracks . I look forward playing those tracks in Munich at the international audio fair in may next year ( ICA ) . The repeat button playing Walking To You and 25th December to death .
Just to make it exhaustive , there are also 4 different remixes of Missing , the worldwide hit which as we all know brought everything to roll again for Ben and Tracey . The Chris & James Full on club Mix is closer to Yazoo than to EBTG . I remain the acoustic fan and won't judge on the rest .
Well , to cut a long story short : This is absolutely stunning music at its best . I am very happy with it . I have rediscovered this album again and would recommend it to everyone wanting to dive into pure, unpretentious awesome renditions . Music with a heart that beats and a soul that lives . I have only become aware of a sad truth : Tracey and Ben have tons of live material they recorded during the acoustic concerts to DAT and cassettes between 93 and 96 . So much they even didn't label it ( so it reads unknown venue in the credits ) . I wonder if this musical treasure will ever see the light of day . Especially the gig in Toronto from which Walking To You and 25th december originated from . I remember attending the concert they gave in Cologne on the 1st may 1996 and the first song "Better things " sent a shiver upon my spine . This is a moment i will never forget . Will i ever get to hear it again ? A wonder might happen someday ... I will firmly believe in . And i will be patient .
Don't miss it .
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on 15 January 2003
This is the third Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn (Everything but the Girl) CD I have reviewed. It is quieter, more reflective, and so personal it's as if we are listening in on conversations between these two gifted artists. I find myself popping this one in late at night a lot.
Every fan of this eclectic British duo were happy to receive another EBTG album as Ben Watt had spent months in the hospital, a rare intestinal disorder ravaging his body and nearly killing him. His final recovery left Ben a shell of his former self, with a continuing life long battle to maintain his weight and health, only three feet of intestine left. It is little wonder that this is a quiet and reflective effort.
Every song is something special on this one. From the opening song "Rollercoaster" to the short and poignant "Disenchanted" there is just one elegantly produced and intellectually engaging pop song after another. When the lusciously smooth vocals of Tracey Thorn are added to the mix what you have is magic. The only way I can think of to describe her vocals is maybe if you took Annie Lennox's wonderful voice, took the edge off, and replaced it with a smoother tone.....?
"Two Star" and "I Don't Understand Anything" are particular highlights in a CD full of them. Oddly enough, "Missing," the dance floor sensation which finally got them noticed in America, is the only song out of place here. But it's a great song to listen to so just enjoy it as well. If you pick this up and just listen to the first three cuts, you'll be hooked.
Want to listen in to Tracey Thorn talking to Ben Watt in a sweetly arranged song? Here are some words to 'Disenchanted':
"Look at you now, your disenchanted, can't believe how things can change. How much can you withstand? The wasted time, the money spent, a sign that reads 'For sale or Rent.' You know your not the only one to wait so long. I wonder can you try again? Are you that strong?"
If you think pop music can't be well produced, catchy, and still be about something, then give this one a try...
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VINE VOICEon 22 January 2011
This is stripped back, relaxed album from EBTG on the whole.

Mostly guitar and drums gently providing a backdrop for, mostly, Tracey's lovely voice (although Ben gets in on the act now and then).

Less self indulgent and more commercial than Eden, it's still a million miles away from their later dance oriented stuff (which I also like).

As always some of the lyrics cut like a knife and Tracey Thorn's delivery adds to their poigniancy.

I'm on a bit of an EBTG rediscovery at the moment and this is my favourite album at the moment.

Shockingly I'd never heard the album version of Missing before (always the Todd Terry remix - which is here too as a bonus track) and it's like rediscovering a lost love is even more beautiful and warm than you remember.

Best couple of quid I've spent in a long, long time.
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on 19 January 2002
If you're a fan of 'bedsit' music then you can do no better than Everything But The Girl to give you a taste of life in the not so fast lane. Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn's world is one of loneliness, misunderstanding, confusion, emotional turmoil, and insecurity. This is probably why they have built up such a loyal fan base. They manage to connect with so many people by tackling taboo subjects such as these and the ultimate fragility of the human heart. They're sensitive souls, these two.
They are also incredibly talented, in a refreshing and delightfully understated way. 'Amplified Heart' just served to reinforce this view, which is one that I have held of them for years. Tracey Thorn has got a lovely voice, there's no other way to describe it, and she sings in such a soulful and emotional way, it is hard not to get totally absorbed in the songs she sings here. The opening track 'Rollercoaster' illustrates the world I have described previously and sets the standard for the rest of the recording. 'I still haven't got over it even now, I want to spend huge amounts of time on my own', is the opening line, and then later on she sings, 'I want to spend huge amounts of time in my room'. Everything But The Girl are the only band in history who can make wallowing in self pity sound simply wonderful. You get more of the same on the next track, 'Troubled Mind', which is a slightly faster pace than the preceeding track. The best thing about EBTG is that they make such great use of instrumentation to convey feeling. The instrumental breaks on 'Rollercoaster' sound like whining, but Tracey Thorn can get away with whining. Not many people can.
On the next track, 'I Don't Understand Anything', she is really crying out to be understood. Help her Ben, help her! 'Walking to You' follows, and Ben is heard on joint lead vocals with Tracey. Ben isn't the greatest singer, but because he is such a creative genius, he is forgiven. In any case, Ben and Tracey harmonise so well together it ends up sounding fantastic anyway. You then get more inner turmoil on the next track 'Get Me' on which Tracey pleads, 'Do you really get me?'. I think we do Tracey, I think we do.
Things cheer up a bit towards the end, with the excellent 'We Walk The Same Line' and the positive '25th December'.
The best tracks are probably 'Walking To You' (excellent harmonies), and two tracks solely written by Tracey: 'I Don't Understand Anything' and 'We Walk The Same Line', which demonstrate what a great songwriter she is as well as a vocalist.
If you live in a bedsit already you'll love it. If you don't, try to imagine what it's like with the help of this album. Or better still just enjoy the album for being 11 tracks of excellent, thought provoking music, from what are surely a still very underrated pair.
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on 11 January 2014
You know the album, so just to say that in this particular case it is definitely worth the 'upgrade' to the deluxe version. The extra songs and versions are excellent. Particularly like the songs ' Richard Says' (who is this Richard? Same guy in Last Time I Saw Richard?) and Back at Square One. Nice Home Demo of Troubled Mind. If you like Tracey's voice - and don't we all - the Home Demo's are always worth hearing to catch that soulful singing in an earlier, more raw form. And some great live versions here too. Great album, super extras.
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on 11 December 2013
Most reissues put a bunch of crap that should have never seen the light of day onto an old cd and call it a deluxe cd. This is an exception. There are different versions and demos of songs from Amplified Heart that enhance the experience. I especially like the live versions since there isn't that much out there of EBTG live.
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on 26 December 2013
Another great reissue of EBTG, includes home demos , live recording and bsides - also remixes of the classic Missing
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on 20 December 2013
one more gem from the band that never made a bad record
the reissue is like a box of candy
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on 6 December 2013
This is a review of the Nov 2013 "deluxe" re-release of Amplified Heart with the additional CD, gatefold packaging and notes. Let me start by saying I'm a long time fan. All the time in fact, so I'm coming at this from the perspective of offering an opinion on whether this is a worthwhile purchase if you already have a copy of Amplified Heart. It is. Why? It's packed with goodies. B-sides from from the single releases, a 5-track live session from the mid 90's, 4 of the club remixes of Missing, plus 8 of the album tracks in Demo format. That's a lot of stuff. The notes are insightful, the packaging's great, sturdy and substantial...and of course there's the added bonus of Amplified Heart, which if you haven't got already, well, you should. It's a brilliant piece of work. Read Tracey Thorn's autobiography "Bedsit Disco Queen," for the full story of what drove this album and the circumstances that make it the honest, heartfelt, tuneful, endlessly listen-able classic that it is. 5 stars.
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on 22 November 2013
Over recent years music fans have seen their favorite albums repackaged in so many formats that it gets confusing to keep up to date.In many cases these repackaged CDs don't really hit the spot of what the fan is actually wanting especially in most cases they will be bought by the hardcore fan and not the casual listener. The key reason for this is simply that the artist has not got involved and handed over control to the record company- what a mistake and fortunately EBTG did not allow this. This is a band that not only cares about how it's backlist is represented but most importantly the fan. I have been so satisfied with every release- so a huge thank you to Ben & Tracey for simply caring. Your backlist has been in my life for many years and it is a joy for me that these new editions add a new dimension to a really diverse and beautiful list. Lastly all the extras are truly appreciated! So if you are reading this do not hesitate in buying these releases while they are available!
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