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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A joy to listen to
'A Brief History' has 19 tracks from the 4-CD set 'History', so it's a 'best of the best of...' album. The first track, Bean Fields, is guaranteed to have you tapping your foot or even dancing around the room or car.
You could say the odd track or two is a bit repetitive - for example, Telephone and Rubber Band lasts almost three minutes - but there's always quiet...
Published on 24 Jun 2004 by Stephen Smith

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting but odd
This album is only a brief extract of the band's long career, so it can only be a taster. It is by turns eccentric, charming and occasionally moving so I'm glad to have it, but it hasn't really settled into my affections as yet.
Published on 14 Dec 2012 by Mr. Pj Martin


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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A joy to listen to, 24 Jun 2004
This review is from: A Brief History (Audio CD)
'A Brief History' has 19 tracks from the 4-CD set 'History', so it's a 'best of the best of...' album. The first track, Bean Fields, is guaranteed to have you tapping your foot or even dancing around the room or car.
You could say the odd track or two is a bit repetitive - for example, Telephone and Rubber Band lasts almost three minutes - but there's always quiet music going on behind the scenes that you have to listen out for to appreciate the full tune. Any like this that you don't like are easily made up for by the others. Others are very tuneful, foot-stomping creations to delight the soul, body and mind. (I'm getting carried away now. Well, at least I should be.)
A delightful album I feel privileged to have in my collection. You'll be so glad you took the plunge.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars for the contents, 3 stars for the SACD, 9 Nov 2004
By 
Yovra (Driebergen, Holland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Brief History (Audio CD)
The Penguin Cafe Orchestra is one of these groups that always will have a smaller public. No on-stage pyrotechnics,no displays of instrumental virtuosity; just good, melodic compositions that sound fine in the background but equally deserve a closer listen.
There a great diversity; from African rythms to cod-classical sounds, from Marley to Brahms.
The SACD however adds little to other compilations. It isn't a multichannel or 5.1-remix, the the improvement in sounds is probably only audible when you're having a very expensive sound-system.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars up lifting stuff., 22 May 2005
This review is from: A Brief History (Audio CD)
what a fantasic album. i first heard of the penguin cafe orchestra on irelands classic radio whilst on holiday there. on my return home i bought a copy of "a brief history" and my ears have been truly treated. if you have heard anything by the pco but dont own any of their stuff, but like this sort of music then take the plunge you wont regret it and just like me treat your ears.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Supplement to History Box Set, 12 Dec 2008
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Wolf-Dieter Winkler "wolfdieterwales" (Hamburg, Germany) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Brief History (Audio CD)
Yes - it's true: it's a real joy to listen to. And it's not taken out of the Box Set. True - you will find the same titles in the Box Set, but all of them are in different versions. Here is what the Box Set says: "This 4 CD box set is supplemented by the single CD "A Brief History" with other versions and pieces not included on "A History"."
So, there you have it: 77 minutes of relaxing music by the one & only Penguin Café Orchestra for less than 5 Pounds. Treat yourself with this beautiful & nicely sequenced collection.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful album!, 26 Jun 2009
This review is from: A Brief History (Audio CD)
Within minutes of "A Brief History" arriving I and my two young children were happily twirling around to 'Beanfields' and the happy mood continued throughout this album. 'Music for a Found Harmonium' is surely one of the loveliest pieces of music ever written, staying with you long after you have finished listening. Buy this album - I wish I had bought it a long time ago!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never heard of the Penguin Cafe Orchestra?, 10 Jan 2012
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This review is from: A Brief History (Audio CD)
If you've never heard of the Penguin Cafe Orchestra, and enjoy classical/folk/jazz then this is the introductory album for you. There is a great mix of their more lively folky stuff, like the tracks "Music for a found harmonium" and "Giles Farnaby's dream", as well as more classical tunes like "Air a danser". In typical PCO style, there's also a few experimental, amusing tracks like "Telephone and rubber band" (yes, it is like it says in the title...my 5 year old son loves it!). Other tracks, such as "Perpetuum mobile" and "Organum" are the sort of tunes you could listen to, or just have in the background, for hours. In fact, once hooked, you will listen to this album again and again...and then search out their other albums for more (Union Cafe, Signs of Life, etc.). Sadly, the founding father of the PCO, the amazing musician Simon Jeffes, died in his prime, but fortunately his son continues his tradition and style so there'll be more in the future. You'll be giving everyone you know these albums for years to come.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very good!, 12 Oct 2003
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This review is from: A Brief History (Audio CD)
I heard this band first at a party a few weeks ago - very different from anything i've heard before. I was quite surprised to hear a few well known tracks (from TV adverts) - but even the ones i hadn't heard before were extremely interesting. This is a great band and this sort of greatest hits collection is just a really good listen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars history, 14 Oct 2011
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This review is from: A Brief History (Audio CD)
This is a beautiful compilation of instrumental music which lifts my heart every time I listen to it. I had "Perpetuum Mobile" as an MP3 version for years as one of my favourite songs, having downloaded it because I think it featured in a television ad, until I thought to see what else they had made. I couldn't decide which album to buy, there were sooo many! So I picked this one hoping it would give me a nice overview of all their albums. And it did!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars P-p-p-p-p-p-pick up a Penguin Cafe CD now!, 13 July 2009
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Gary Hanna (Leeds) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Brief History (Audio CD)
Some recognisable pieces of music that have been used in various advertising campaigns and some not so recognisable but equally as entertaining pieces, the perfect soundtrack to a glass (or bottle perhaps!) of Pimms. Easy listening for an easy life!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introductory collection, highly recommended, 18 Nov 2014
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H. Coverley (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Brief History (Audio CD)
Excellent introduction to one of the most interesting avant-garde neo-classical groups in existence.

If you're relatively new to PCO, I'd suggest buying this to begin with, and if you like what you hear, trade or gift this to someone else who is curious, and get started on the 'true' discography (as I intend to do).

I will give a warning though: you be shocked to realise how many TV ads PCO have inadvertently scored over the past fifteen years upon first listen, but you will eventually be able to appreciate the music for what it is without spectres of One2One top up deals popping into your head involuntarily.
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A Brief History
A Brief History by Penguin Cafe Orchestra (Audio CD - 2003)
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