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Reviews Written by
Timothy Hooper

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Through the Hill
Through the Hill
Offered by ThePolarBear
Price: £8.99

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rural Neolithic Jazz anyone?, 10 Feb. 2004
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Through the Hill (Audio CD)
The combination of ambient piano overlord Harold Budd and new-wave enfant terrible Andy Partridge might at first seem a strange, even incompatible coupling. However, Partridge has been mellowing for some time now and recent XTC releases have seen a strong development towards a more pastoral folkiness that suits his highly coloured song writing perfectly. Budd too is no stranger to unlikely pairings - his exquisite 'The Moon and The Melodies' CD with The Cocteau Twins now seems like the most obvious thing in the world, but at the time it caused ripples in the camps of both sets of fans.
So, here they are together and what does it sound like? Well, interestingly like neither of them but strangely familiar at the same time. Budd's expansive ocean of rippling piano notes is all in order and occasionally Partridge's guitar rears its experimental head.
Tracks such as 'Hand 20' hint at XTC work such as 'River Of Orchids' and 'Mantle of Peacock Bones' could sit comfortably on any Budd release. Added to this, Budd reads a number of Partridge's poems to great effect, 'Well For The Sweat Of The Moon' is particularly haunting.
Textures are rich and there is a pleasing jazz flavour to a number of the pieces ('The Place Of Odd Glances', 'Hand 19') overlaying an earthy almost Neolithic feel (the latter a strong Partridge signature ever since 1981's XTC release 'English Settlement').
If anything, this has far more in common with the likes of David Syvian's 'Gone To Earth' than an XTC or Harold Budd LP - and that is the highest recommendation I can think of. A rather lovely and unexpected meditation on archaeology, soil and history. Let's hope they do more together.

Wise After the Event
Wise After the Event
Offered by swankers3
Price: £44.44

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Phillips's stunning second solo, 5 Feb. 2004
This review is from: Wise After the Event (Audio CD)
Phillips' first solo album, the pastoral prog masterpiece 'The Geese And The Ghost' confimed to many that he was indeed the heart and soul of the first incarnation of Genesis. 'Wise After The Event', his second solo LP took him quite another direction. Out went the rambling 12 string guitar prettiness and in came a multicoloured melodic pop sensibility that produced nine beautifully crafted 'prog pop' classics.
Right from the soaring chorus of 'We're All As We Lie' through to the epic 'Now What', Phillips never lets up on the rich melodies, intricate arrangements and astonishing lyrics.
Every song is laden with hooks and musical turns of phrase that embed themselves in your memory after only a couple of listens.
'Greenhouse' has "lost hit single" written all over it, and 'Pulling Faces' is a cosmic rocket ride from start to finish. 'Moonshooter' and 'Regrets' are blessed with luxuriously romantic tunes and the stunning title track is simply one of the best things Phillips has ever done.
A must for all Phillips / Genesis fans.


37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Lost Classic Returns, 23 Jan. 2004
This review is from: Stormwatch (Audio CD)
This is the great ignored Tull LP. Released amidst the chilly winds of the punk fall-out in the late 1970's, 'Stormwatch' is one of the Tull's more coherent and pertinent statements, both lyrically and musically. The vague concept about renewable resources, global climate change and political intervention is as relevant today as it was back then (the LP was released just as the UK began benefitting from - and squandering - the income raised from the oil fields in the North Sea). Songs such as 'Dark Ages', 'North Sea Oil' and 'Something On The Move' are all highly melodic, strong pieces, mercifully lacking the Tull lack of focus that sometimes made their songs a bit unwieldy. Here the band were right on top of their craft and Ian Anderson hadn't sung this convincingly for many a year.

It's not all strident either, 'Dun Ringil' is as beautiful as anything on 'Songs From the Wood' and the closing instrumental piece 'Elegy' is simply delightful. Indeed, there are so many great songs here, long time fans will particularly enjoy 'Orion' and 'The Flying Dutchman'.

It's time to replace that old vinyl, or to get to know a lost Tull classic.

The Gunman And Other Stories
The Gunman And Other Stories
Price: £15.29

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More songs about cowboys and campfires, 12 Jan. 2004
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Far from being a country and western CD as the artwork and titles would lead you to believe, this is as strong a collection as the Sprouts have issued in many a year.
Lack of consistency has always been a Sprout failing, particularly with the rather flat and uninspiring 'Andromeda Heights'. On 'Gunman' Paddy MacAloon rediscovers his yearning but focused romantic sensibility and fires off a sure fire set of perfect love songs. Much stronger than anything since 'Langley Park' it avoids the sprawl of 'Jordan' and the sameiness of 'Andromeda'.
'Wild Card', 'The Gunman' and 'Cornfield Ablaze' are pure pop perfection, finding Paddy in fine voice and on 'Love will find someone for you' he has crafted his finest moment since 'Nightingales'.
The band is well served by some inspired players, particularly Carlos Alomar who's elegant presence lends a deeper dimension to the overall sound.
Well worth the price of admission and a must buy for all Sproutheads.

Cast of Thousands [Digipak]
Cast of Thousands [Digipak]
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.99

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tour de force of brusied romance, 12 Jan. 2004
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The view from the gutter has never been so beautifully soundtracked. This is far more consistant than their debut - and that was astonishing. Elbow have received every plaudit going for this CD and still they haven't lodged themselves in the public conscience. Why oh why?
If you're still doubting, here's a few reasons:
'Fallen Angel' - insistent throbbing pop. Taught and tense and a great lost single.
'Not A Job' - More pulsating pop with a bruised heart.
'Fugitive Motel' - beautifully poised loneliness that somehow manages to lift the soul.
'I've Got Your Number' - never has verbal violence sounded so sweet, dissolving into one of the filthiest Hammond organ solos ever recorded.
'Switching off' - simply the most beautiful and poignant song written in the last 5 years.
'Buttons and Zips' - rude and funky goings on in the garden shed.
'Grace Under Pressure' - it takes off like a Harrier jump jet and then brings in the whole of the audience at Glastonbury to push it even further up!
Oh look, what more do you want, just buy the bloody thing!

Price: £5.63

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The loneliness of the long distance songwriter, 12 Jan. 2004
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This review is from: Hejira (Audio CD)
At some point in her life Joni Mitchell went travelling, not only physically but away from her musical roots and out into a brave new territiory all her own.
'Hejira' is steeped in roads, big skies and movement. Alternately snowbound and desert dry, the songs are richly melodic, if at first a touch oblique.
It's Joni's finest set of lyrics too, creating striking images and capturing the bliss of independance and the loneliness of regret.
All this is highlighted by the mournful, swooping soulful fretless bass of that other great musical nomad, the very great and late lamented Jaco Pastorius. It was a musical marriage made in a wilderness.
One of those CDs that defines the word 'essential'.

Heaven Or Las Vegas
Heaven Or Las Vegas
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £8.47

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The big hit, 7 Jan. 2004
This review is from: Heaven Or Las Vegas (Audio CD)
The Cocteau Twins go pop! However, being the Cocteau Twins this is pop from a blissed out planet, somewhere in a milky universe not yet discovered by NASA. This is truly a great place to begin getting aquainted with Grangemouth's finest three piece twin set. 'Iceblink Luck' was the hit single, 'Road River & Rail' the tear jerker and 'Frou Frou Foxes in Midsummer Fires' the song with the most bizarre title ever.
A multicolour melodic feast. Probably the greatest Saturday morning CD ever released.

Blue-Bell Knoll
Blue-Bell Knoll
Offered by westworld-
Price: £12.76

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nearly their best, 7 Jan. 2004
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This review is from: Blue-Bell Knoll (Audio CD)
A much more focused set and all the better for it. Giving free reign to their inate pop sensibilities, the Twins produced their most glacial and luxurious music on 'Blue Bell Knoll'. You'll know 'Carolyn's Fingers' and 'Cico Buff' from TV adverts. The title track is a compact epic and 'For Phoebe' will simply melt your heart.
The sound of spring flowers pushing their way up through the ice and snow.

Alchemy - An Index Of Possibilities (Digipak)
Alchemy - An Index Of Possibilities (Digipak)
Offered by Smaller World Future
Price: £31.38

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inner World Music, 7 Jan. 2004
A head spinning drift through the gamelan jungle. Very cinematic, smoky and evocative (as all of Sylvian's work is). Not for casual listeners, but of a quality that puts it way above nearly all other so called ambient productions.
Highly recommended if you fancy a bit of armchair travel.

Gone to Earth: Remastered
Gone to Earth: Remastered
Price: £74.24

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A monumental work of extraordinary beauty, 7 Jan. 2004
This started off as an instrumental work (what was originally disc 2 on vinyl). Virgin wanted songs, so Sylvian gave 'em songs - and boy what songs they were. Surrounding himself with the very cream of the UK's avant garde (Nelson, Fripp et al) he conjoured up the single most evocative LP of the 1980's, even eclipsing 'Brilliant Trees'. Admittedly,there's a lot of material to wade through and some of it is initially challenging, but the rewards repay the effort.
A few standout tracks: 'Before the Bullfight', 'River Man', Laughter & Forgetting' and all of the instrumental tracks.
Beauty beyond comprehension.

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