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Kevin Clarke "kevin17566" (Birmingham UK)

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The Best Of Eddie Cochran
The Best Of Eddie Cochran
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £4.41

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent rock'n'roll, 14 Feb. 2007
Killed in a car crash in 1960, aged just 21, Eddie Cochran had the talent to conceivably have adapted and flourished in a post-Beatles world. You can hear echoes of the Cochran sound in the music of The Everly Brothers and The Beach Boys.

The other major rock 'n' roll figure who Cochran bears most comparison with is Chuck Berry. Both wrote 'story' songs with witty lyrics chronicling the eternal concerns of teenage life - cars, girls, parties and pesky parents on your back. But the main difference was that Berry, already 30, could only write as a wry observer whereas Eddie was living the life he described in his songs.

Berry's songs are unimaginable without his trademark electric guitar licks but Cochran would often give acoustic guitars equal billing. His simple, yet effective, riffs on songs such as 'Summertime Blues', 'C'mon Everybody' and 'Something Else' have stood the test of time. These last two, incidentally, were covered by the Sex Pistols, showing the classic rock 'n' roll lineage that punk was part of.

The lyrics for 'Summertime Blues' are way above the standard rock 'n' roll ones e.g. "Well I called my Congressman and he said (quote) 'I'd like to help you son but you're too young to vote.'" Sophisticated stuff for 1957.

Some of the lesser known songs are mighty fine too. 'Skinny Jim' has the narrator drolly noting "I went to a party with Skinny Jim/My baby came with me but she left with him" and 'Twenty Flight Rock', 'Nervous Beakdown' and 'Jeanie, Jeanie, Jeanie' are all splendid rockers.

Not everything is ace though. Some tracks are just a little too lightweight and coy to really rock and Eddie's experiments with strings aren't as successful as Buddy Holly's. This is a minor quibble though. There are at least six songs here that are important in the development of rock 'n' roll, pointing the way towards the bands of the '60s who wrote their own material.

Offered by westworld-
Price: £6.98

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dive right in, 8 Feb. 2007
This review is from: Cousteau (Audio CD)
Suave, classy chamber-pop from a sharp-suited band fronted by a singer with the voice of Scott Walker and the rugged good looks of Daniel Craig. What more could you want?

Cousteau plough a similar furrow to bands like Jack and Tindersticks, but with a bit more of a jazzy feel in the songs' arrangements. Lead singer Liam McKahey's lugubrious baritone lends weight and mystery to these sexy love songs.

The band play to their strengths and push McKahey's croon way up in the mix while the music plucks and sways behind him. A lot of bands trying to pull off this sort of stuff come on too heavy with the strings - not so Cousteau; they use them to EXpress rather than IMpress.

'The Last Good Day Of The Year' is superb, a 'The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore' for the Noughties - yes, it's THAT good. It's a crime that this song wasn't a huge hit despite being championed by, of all people, Terry Wogan on Radio 2.

Almost as good are 'Wish You Were Her'(one of the few upbeat numbers) and 'She Don't Hear Your Prayer.' Amongst the moodier, slower tracks, 'Your Day Will Come' and 'Ruinous Blue' are the pick. The album ends with 'Of This Goodbye', not, as this reviewer thought on first hearing, a song about a lover leaving, but actually written about the death of a relative. In less capable hands this could have come out as mawkish but Cousteau strike the right note of dignity in a moving tribute.


17 of 59 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Look Dad, no tunes!, 8 Feb. 2007
This review is from: Loveless (Audio CD)
Half Man Half Biscuit once wrote a song called 'Look Dad, No Tunes' taking the rip out of feedback-obsessed, white 'indie' boys who'd listened to too many Velvet Underground and Sonic Youth records. Mmm, I wonder if My Bloody Valentine were one of the bands they had in mind?

'Loveless' is one of those albums that is taken very seriously indeed by the critical cogniscenti. And sure, I can appreciate shimmering, diaphonous guitar sounds as much as the next indie chancer with his foot on the effects pedal, but is it too much to ask for a decipherable lyric now and again? Or a chorus? Or a tune? If you're going to neglect those fundamentals of songwriting then at least take a leaf out of the Cocteau Twins' book and make the music itself astonishing and have a lead singer with a voice as beautiful and powerful as Liz Frazer's, not the weedy vocals on display here.

Even the slowed down, woozy guitars, startling on first encounter, grate with repetition.

The Pixies and The Jesus & Mary Chain managed to weld noise AND melody: MBV forgot the second part of the equation.

And for all the self-conscious hipsters who have awarded this album five stars - come on, admit it, you'd rather be bopping around to The Undertones or The Supremes or Pulp or New Order wouldn't you? Wouldn't you?!
Comment Comments (13) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 23, 2012 6:21 AM BST

Open Season
Open Season
Offered by mrtopseller
Price: £4.55

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A band for all seasons, 8 Feb. 2007
This review is from: Open Season (Audio CD)
With their wildly imaginative songs about God, longshore drift and Polar explorers, British Sea Power are the anti-Embrace and for that we should, well, embrace them.

In their eccentricity and quirkiness they're the spiritual heirs of the early Bunnymen, a fact further borne out by tracks like 'Please Stand Up' and 'It Ended On An Oily Stage' which feature guitars lifted straight off 'Ocean Rain.' BSP even have a similar fascination with the elements; wind, snow and ice percolate and swirl through their songs.

Amongst many fine tracks, the album's centrepiece is 'Oh Larsen B' which is powered along by a ferocious bassline.

Musically, one or two of the songs veer a little close to MOR but even when they do there's always something fascinating going on in the lyrics.

Lead singer Yan has one of those 'brave' voices which may not be technically accomplished but transmits a childlike wonder at the world. Live, he has a mesmeric intensity - kind of Ian Curtis crossed with Howard Devoto.

British Sea Power are a bulwark against the mediocrity and lack of adventure that characterises too much of what passes for 'indie' music these days.

Workers Playtime
Workers Playtime
Offered by Great Price Media EU
Price: £7.60

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mixing pop and politics? This is what the use is!, 2 Feb. 2007
This review is from: Workers Playtime (Audio CD)
11 songs, only 3 about politics and a whopping great 8 about love. It isn't hard to guess what was going on in Billy's life around the time of this album. He even names the culprit in 'The Short Answer' - "Between Marx and marzipan in the dictionary, there was Mary."

Billy articulates the whole range of feelings we experience when involved in a passionate love affair, from initial infatuation ('She's Got A New Spell') to ardent declarations ('Must I Paint You A Picture?') and on through wounded defiance ('The Price I Pay') and sad resignation ('Valentine's Day Is Over'). After all the anguish, though, he still can't help but state that you're 'The Only One.'

The political songs seem almost incidental by comparison but very fine they are too. 'Tender Comrade', a moving song about 2 male soldiers falling in love, is sung a capella by Bragg. 'Rotting On Remand' is a plea for more humane treatment of prisoners. And 'The Great Leap Forwards', an unusually structured song that gathers in pace and volume, is acutely aware of the dilemmas of the singer-songwriter with its self-deprecating line, "Mixing pop and politics, he asks me what the use is/ I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses."

Another 'leap forwards' for the bard of Barking.

Are You Lonesome Tonight?
Are You Lonesome Tonight?
Offered by cdrarities speedy uk dispatch
Price: £17.40

3.0 out of 5 stars Turn the lights out, 2 Feb. 2007
The success or otherwise of 'Are You Lonesome Tonight?' depends very much on the mood of the listener at the time. Catch you on a good day and its sentiments can sound hokey and melodramatic. But if you're feeling blue, Elvis's tenderness and burning sincerity will eat you up inside.

To get fully into the mood Elvis had all the lights turned out in the studio when he was laying down the vocal.

He carries off the spoken bridge (which even paraphrases Shakespeare!) remarkably well - or at least I thought he did until a friend rather unkindly pointed out that it sounds like a speech by William Shatner in Star Trek, with some emphases in the wrong places. But no matter - 'Lonesome' is still one of The King's signature pieces.

From Nashville to Memphis: the Essential 1960's Masters Vol.1
From Nashville to Memphis: the Essential 1960's Masters Vol.1

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag, 12 Jan. 2007
It's fascinating to hear the evolution of Elvis's voice across these 5 CDs, spanning the decade 1960-1969, from the chocolatey-brown smoothness of 'It's Now Or Never' to the mature power of 'Suspicious Minds'.

The 130 tracks also illustrate Presley's unique ability to 'inhabit' a song. He can be slyly sensual ('Fever'), defiantly wounded ('It Hurts Me'), rugged and manly ('Inherit The Wind'), cheeky and playful ('Stuck On You')......any number of moods, in fact.

Everyone knows the million-sellers on the first disc, 'It's Now Or Never' and 'Are You Lonesome Tonight' but there are plenty of minor classics here too - 'A Mess Of Blues', 'The Girl Of My Best Friend', 'Like A Baby', 'I Feel So Bad' and so on.

They are all overshadowed, though, by 'Reconsider Baby.' Robert Matthew-Walker, in his excellent book, 'Elvis Presley: A Study In Music', says of this song - "It is a classic blues performance; timeless and awe-inspiring in its power and emotion. This track is a refutation of those who do not recognise what a phenomenal artist Elvis Presley was."

Disc 2 is not nearly as satisfying. The spirit of adventure, of trying out different musical styles, that characterises his first batch of post-Army recordings, is conspicuously absent by now. In their place we find formulaic pop songs and an over-reliance on sentimental ballads. There ARE some gems here - 'His Latest Flame', 'Little Sister' and 'Devil In Disguise' are all stylish cuts - but there's also feeble guff like 'Easy Question' and 'Echoes Of Love.'

Even Elvis's singing, though technically superb throughout, lacks passion and commitment on occasion; he doesn't believe in some of the material. Two exquisite ballads are notable exceptions though - 'Anything That's Part Of You' and 'That's Someone You Never Forget.'

Disc 3 is marginally better, if only due to the inclusion of the brilliant 'Guitar Man' and 'Big Boss Man.' 'It Hurts Me', 'Indescribably Blue' and 'Love Letters' are also love songs of considerable power and beauty.

But the real revelation here is Elvis's version of Bob Dylan's 'Tomorrow Is A Long Time.' Apparently, Elvis was haunted by the lyrics, especially the verse "I can't see my reflection in the water/I can't speak the sounds that show no pain/I can't hear the echo of my footsteps/I can't remember the sound of my own name", which seemed to sum up how he'd lost his way artistically in the mid-60s. Elvis delivers a mesmerising performance, one that sheds a whole new light on him as an artist.

Discs 4 and 5 comprise the legendary Memphis '69 sessions. 'Suspicious Minds' and 'In The Ghetto' both receive towering performances but there are several other songs of similar stature - 'Stranger In My Own Home Town', 'Wearin' That Loved On Look', 'Long Black Limousine', 'Any Day Now', 'Power Of My Love' etc. Elvis also revels in the tougher, more adult dilemmas of 'You'll Think Of Me', 'Kentucky Rain' and 'This Is The Story'. Even lesser tracks like 'After Loving You' and 'True Love Travels On A Gravel Road' are elevated above the ordinary by Elvis's fiery vocal.

You can hear Elvis rediscovering his love of singing on the Memphis recordings. In its gravelly authority, his voice really is a thing of wonder on these songs. He would never sound so impassioned or soulful again.

Honey's Dead [Remastered Re-issue]
Honey's Dead [Remastered Re-issue]
Price: £6.93

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Honey hits the money, 11 Jan. 2007
The previous year's 'Rollercoaster' EP had been a letdown. Baggy and grunge had transformed the musical landscape since JAMC's last album, the relatively disappointing 'Automatic.' Could the Mary Chain still cut the musical mustard in 1992? 4 tracks in we had our answer: the Reid brothers were back to their inspired best.

The trick lay in deftly incorporating fashionable innovations like 'shuffling beats' into their music while still maintaining the essence of the Mary Chain sound. That's why 'Honey's Dead' still sounds fresh and exciting whereas an album like, say, 'Spartacus' by The Farm, also from 1992, sounds horribly dated.

The album kicks off with one of their finest singles, 'Reverence.' "I wanna die just like JFK/I wanna die in the USA........" snarls Jim Reid nihilistically. The cover shot of the single featured a photograph of the mourning party, led by Jackie Onassis, at John F. Kennedy's funeral.

Next up is the salacious throb of 'Teenage Lust', one of those sleazy tales that Jim's vocals are so well suited to. By way of contrast, 'Almost Gold' shows an unexpectedly romantic side to the band. Sandwiched in-between these two gems is a sparkling single, 'Far Gone And Out'. Other top tracks include the cacophonous 'Catchfire' and 'Sugar Ray'.

The quality does dip a little towards the end. To my mind, 'Rollercoaster' is the only weak single they ever released, and 'Tumbledown' and 'I Can't Get Enough' are Mary Chain-by-numbers.

However, when listened to as a whole, 'Honey's Dead' was another intelligent step forward for a band who it was feared would always live in the shadow of their seminal debut album, 'Psychocandy.'
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 15, 2017 11:05 PM GMT

The Concretes In Colour
The Concretes In Colour
Price: £8.00

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Better in black and white, 9 April 2006
This review is from: The Concretes In Colour (Audio CD)
An album for people who find Belle & Sebastian a bit boisterous, 'The Concretes In Colour' is an unashamed bid for the mainstream: nothing wrong with that of course, but it lacks the shaky charm and melancholy mood of their eponymous debut album. There's nothing here as spritely as 'You Can't Hurry Love' or as poignant as 'New Friend' on that first record. In fact, it all feels terribly English in spirit - polite, reserved, self-effacing.
That said, 'In Colour' does have its moments. Opener 'On The Radio' rides on a plinky-plonky Madness piano very effectively. 'Chosen One' is a jaunty pop song, perfect for summer.
Lisa Mellberg takes over vocal duties for a duet with Romeo Stodart from The Magic Numbers on the ballad ,'Your Call.' Her voice is stronger and more expressive than the blank Nicoesque stylings of usual lead vocalist, Victoria Bergsman: she should sing more often.
Elswehere, we find a Gospel 'church revival' sound on 'As Four' and some classy country pickings on 'Grey Days.' Too much of the rest, though, is merely pleasant or, worse still, innocuous.
That The Concretes have talent is beyond doubt. I just wish they had the confidence to swagger a bit more.

Head Over Heels
Head Over Heels
Price: £7.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Head over heels? Five ten fiftyfold!, 20 Oct. 2005
This review is from: Head Over Heels (Audio CD)
The Smiths, the Bunnymen, New Order - these 80s' indie heroes are frequently cited as influences by today's bands, but the Cocteau Twins? No one ever mentions 'em. There is a reason for this of course. Liz Frazer's astonishing vocals and Robin Guthrie's miraculous guitar sounds are far harder to replicate.
Many Cocteaus' fans view 'Treasure' as their creative high-water mark, but I always preferred this harder, rockier record. What I particularly love about this album is that it showed that it was possible to make BIG music without it getting all stadium-y and Simple Minds. Who would've thought that drum machines could've BOOMED so.
The opening track, 'When Mama Was Moth', plunges you immediately into the Cocteaus' strange and eerie netherworld, with its huge swashes of sound and unfathomable lyrics. 'Sugar Hiccup' is especially fine, showcasing Frazer's vocals and Guthrie's expansive guitar work.
Elsewhere we have the frantic stomp of 'Glass Candle Grenades', the irresistible drive of 'In Our Angelhood' and the album's closer, 'Musette And Drums,' which is one of those songs that just makes you want to lie back and HOWL!! In the words of massive fan, John Peel, truly "one that will change yer life." One critic at the time described the guitars on 'Musette...' as "sounding like a giant crying inside a mausoleum." Hyperbole, perhaps, but if you've never heard it before, it's a track to make you fall 'head over heels' in love with them.

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