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David Johnson "El Burrito" (Buenos Aires)

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Diary of An Afro Warrior
Diary of An Afro Warrior
Price: £10.86

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and ground-breaking, 7 April 2008
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Artists generally hate having their work buttonholed into media invented genres. Portishead hated the term "trip-hop" for the ground-breaking debut Dummy. So hear comes Benga, music press appointed flag -bearer for what is being referred to as "Dub-step." Call it what you like - it's brilliant.
The beats sound as clear as a whistle - structured and methodical, German sounding in precision and execution. But there is variety - like the soft intro on B4 the duel. Devastating rapier-like drums and crunchy base come in behind. It all adds up to a very interesting listen. Yes it's urban - tracks like Night and 26 basslines were made for the dance floor, but this record isn't at all cavalier. It wanders off in places you never expected to go - Someone 20 drifts you off into space, down a tunnel, marrying you into a celestial sound-scape. The effects across the record are so clever and original - is that a hand-clap on Crunked UP? Another favourite of mine is the neurotic, skipping beat of Emotions.
Should bring "Dub Step" out of the underground and to the masses.

Go Away White
Go Away White
Price: £11.12

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine send off, 17 Mar. 2008
This review is from: Go Away White (Audio CD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This record has surfaced in the wake of Bauhaus's recent split - a kind of going away present. Normally I don't expect too much from records like this - most veteran acts service up half-hearted disasters but I have to say that on this occaison I'm pleasantly surprised.
Whilst Go Away White retains elements of Bauhaus's earlier music, check out the melancholic, cerebral "Saved" - this is a largely accesible stripped down affair.
Too much 21st century is a gentle opener - elegant chorus, Bowie style vocal. The guitars get heavy and more industrial on Adrenalin - an excellent nuerotic chugging rock number.
"Undone" has an eighties, cotton-candy pop feel to it - then come into the characteristic synth effects - a Bauhaus hallmark.
"The dogs a vapour" is a little bit too dark and brooding for my taste - too much on the Goth side. The one lyric chant of Zakir chant serves as an emnigmatic end to the album.
This is an intersting record. It shows a band grappling with their past and a lighter feel - it almost certainly ended up breaking them.
A fascinating send off - the kind of recording that leaves you wondering what could have been, especially as so much of the music sounds fresh and full of ideas.

by Richard Kelly
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seminal work of recent British social history, 17 Mar. 2008
This review is from: Crusaders (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Richard T. Kelly's Crusaders tells the story of John Gore, a young Anglican priest returning to the North East to "plant a church" in a deprived area in the west of the city.
The narrative skips between Gore's youth, growing up in a 70's Labour heartland and the tangles he finds himself in a very different Newcastle - one suffering Britain's modern social ills.
He is be-friended by local muscleman Steve Coulson who he enlists to help him set up the new church. The plot unravels when Gore gets involved in a romantic tryst with Coulson's ex, down-and-out single mother Lindy Clark. Coulson's violent background is revealed and Gore sets out on a personal mission to save Clark - his actions having cataclysmic effects.
The Labour link is developed by Gore's run-ins with Labour MP Martin Pallister, Blairite modenriser - ironically an ex militant from their times at CND marches. Gore hates Pallister for sacrificing his principles - The Crusaders in large part reads like a critique of everything New Labour.
I personally think that Kelly's greatest achievement comes in his evocation of the North-East. As someone who lived there for three years this novel struck a chord with me, All of the characters in the book have some goodness in them, they simply have to grapple desperately with harsh modern realities. Coulson's persona is an observational triumph in terms of detail and dialogue. Despite his violent thuggery you end up feeling sorry for him. Pallister's character is used a fulcrum for the ideas - I like his progression from firebrand to sleazy, attention seeker.
Kelly has proved he is capable of writing some thoroughly adept prose (the written dialect is spot on) whilst handling a prolific, broad narrative.
This novel will surely go down as a stunning achievement in terms of ideas and scope. Make sure it's on your reading list.

Africa Funk
Africa Funk

5.0 out of 5 stars A lot more than just a Kuti track, 28 Feb. 2008
This review is from: Africa Funk (Audio CD)
Badly needs to come into print this. This cracking little compilation is replete with heavy bass and zipping trumpets. Killer tracks galore from the cool Ajo by Peter King, the James Brown-esque Talkin, Talkin from Matata and the pulse racing guitar solo on the transcendal Vechhio. Manu Dibango weighs in with a couple of foot tapping rhythms. Well compiled, every track a winner, get your hands on it if you can.

In Control
In Control

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Possible Eurovision winners, 10 Feb. 2008
This review is from: In Control (Audio CD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Think anthemic vocals, bursts of monotone guitar riffs and lashings of synthesiser - you've got Nemesea. This is typical Euro-rock dirge, lyrically infantile music likely to appeal to those for whom English is very much a second language. OK so "No more" is a reasonable opener, crisp riff, obvious but clear chorus line, and oh yes that all too predictable change of chord for the final verse. And it repeats itself over and over again only breaking for the painfully cheesy ballad "The way I feel" with stable mates Cubworld.
Nemsesea are a very poor mans Evanesence. Granted, this music is not my cup of tea, but I really do hate it - so please, thank me for my honesty. The type of album that collects dust with an old Westlife CD in the corner of a charity shop.

by Daniel Clay
Edition: Paperback

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clever family saga, 8 Feb. 2008
This review is from: Broken (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Who doesn't know a family like the Oswald's these days? Tatoo laden cider-guzzler Bob Oswald gets wind that one of his promiscuous daughters, Saskia has allegedly been assualted by the unassuming Rick Buckley from the across the street. Bam! Rick's head gets caved in. After suffering the ordeal of rumours about his sexual prowess and the humiliation of a police interrogation, "Broken," Buckley retreats into the confines of his bedroom. Has he disappeared for good? No. One day he will stir, to bring tradegy both to his own family and the others in the square.
Broken is told through the eyes of Skunk Cunningham, an innocent eleven year-old who is so often the victim of the Oswald sister's nastiness - the catalysts for the drama in this novel.
Daniel Clay has constructed a fine family saga, carefully weaving a plot between three normal/dysfunctional families. I particularly like his portrayal of the Oswalds and the way that their actions gnaw at others in the immediate vicinty. The ending is finely written and genuinely convincing. Clay's prose is simple yet perceptive and incisive. A fine first novel.

Rodrigo Y Gabriela
Rodrigo Y Gabriela
Price: £7.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is definitely not Flamenco!, 17 Jan. 2008
This review is from: Rodrigo Y Gabriela (Audio CD)
Rodrigo and Gabriela's self-titled album is lightening, sparky, edge-of-your- seat stuff from the first track to the very last.
Tamacum sets the tone of the album: building tracks from simple chords into multi-layered sprawling showpieces. No expense is spared in this tour de force of acoustic dexterity. Just read the inlay card - every song has a reason, a story.
Rodrigo and Gabriela, spited by rejection from Mexico's top music schools, are deeply influenced by heavy metal bands like Metallica - and it shows, but my favourite tracks on the album are the languid, poignant Saturi and Ixtapa (love the fiddles.)
There is indeed so much panache and spirit going through this - unlike so many acoustic albums there is never a dull moment - the winding intros are just a breath of fresh air but these two have some bite. As we are reminded on the back - We don't play Flamenco.

We Are The Night
We Are The Night
Offered by Bridge_Records
Price: £4.29

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chemical hypnosis, 16 Jan. 2008
This review is from: We Are The Night (Audio CD)
Ten years and still going strong The Chemical brothers might just have come up with their strongest album yet.
We are the night is surprisingly fresh and full of ideas. The drums are as ever snappy, the beats lithe and unpredictable.
My favourites are the oriental-flavoured Saturate, the minimal electro-pop of Das Speigal (aptly named,) and the ambient, driving beat of Burst Generator.
There is indeed something for everyone on this, from the familiar dancefloor mover Do it Again to the beatifully harmonic The Pills don't work, guest vocalist Midlake sounds very much like Neil Young.
This record serves as a fine revindication of The Chemical Brothers place at the top of the British dance tree. Buy it!

The Golden Age
The Golden Age
Offered by positivenoise
Price: £5.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine return to form, 6 Jan. 2008
This review is from: The Golden Age (Audio CD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The American Music club are back with a gloriously warming set of tunes. The Golden age is one of those records ideal for candid latenight listening.
This a bare stripped-down, downtempo affair, acoustic driven full of bare, wistful lyrics. I really like the dreamy strumming of the gentle opener, "All my love," - a mood setter for the rest of the album.
Another strong moment is the smooth, aching chorus of "The decibels and the little pills", this dovetails nicely with the gentle love song The "Sleeping beauty." "Who you are," gives yet more evidence of this group's ability to pen a smooth, languorious chorus.
This is a serene listen, one song marries sumptuosly into the other. I've always been something of a distant observer of this group's music, for my taste it lacks a little bit of bite but their ability as fine songsmiths cannot be doubted. A return to form

Mattel - Uno Spin
Mattel - Uno Spin

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Has you in a spin!, 6 Jan. 2008
This review is from: Mattel - Uno Spin (Toy)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
So coloured card connection game UNO is back! I was anxious to get my hands hands on this, the original was, after all so addictive.
Essential gameplay remains the same but the new version has undergone a facelift with the addition of a spinning wheel that comes into play when a player is faced with an opponents,"spin card." One of the chief problems of this game is distiguishing spin cards from normal cards, it's virtually impossible to spot the wavy lines on the numbers that mark them out. This apparent design fault didn't just cause problems for my ageing relatives! The wheel is divided into segments that leave the individual player (or group) with different tasks, such as passing your hand to the next player in a clockwise direction. This new feature can be both fun and infuriating. There's nothing worse than changing cards when you are so close to the finishing line, especially when you can be lumbered with your neighbour's fat wad of cards.
Some of the challenges are a bit naff and badly thought out. The punishment of showing your hand only works when the person in question is a few cards away from victory.
One other gripe would be the tackiness of the card holders on the board - cards keep falling out them whenever somebody spins the wheel.
A game of UNO Spin lasts longer than the original version but once players get used to the board it's a lot of fun - worth getting your hands on and ideal for whiling away those long winter evenings with the family.

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