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ratmonkey (Hardy Country)

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Falling Into Place
Falling Into Place
Offered by OUT OF PRINT
Price: £14.50

4.0 out of 5 stars Waiting, 8 Feb. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Falling Into Place (Audio CD)
The first 2 tracks on here are on their debut album and are both very good/classic. 'Waiting' was also surprisingly good, despite its ommission from elsewhere. It could have fit very well on their debut. 'New Kid' is longer and slower but has a thoughtful tone and is still a very good song.

Not a first thought as it only has 2 tracks previously unreleased, but a standard first EP for a band.


Caress Of Steel
Caress Of Steel
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £6.50

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Touch and Go, 8 Feb. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Caress Of Steel (Audio CD)
Not an overal winner but a worthy attempt and one of their first real forays into elongated song structures of the prog-rock persuasion. Very much sounds of its time but there is a bit to enjoy, albeit not a great deal.

'Bastille Day' is the best track here. Almost single-worthy it is catchy and digestible. 'I Think I'm Going Bald' is a little rough around the edges and is one of the reasons the album is dated, but it is ok, especially as it is one of Rush's shorter tracks. 'Lakeside Park' is more gentle but is still ok, just no better than that. 'Necromancer' is more of a 10 minute jam session than a song. Ok I suppose if you like jazz and are into prog in a big way but it does not have any real hook or lasting effect. 'The Fountain of Lamneth' though is great. As a whole it is almost 20 mins long but is broken up into very tuneful, bitesize chunks. The first 10 mins consists of basically 2 tracks segued by another track, 'Didacts and Narpets', which is an elongated drum solo. The last 10 mins is split into 3 3 and a half minute tracks. All are quite acoustic, gentle and well-written. This was a surprise for me as a lot of Rush's longer tracks can be slightly numbing, but this and 2112 are up there with the best.

On the whole though this is another good effort but not one to bowl you over. A couple of good tracks withstanding, this is a middling affair.


A Farewell To Kings
A Farewell To Kings
Price: £5.99

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sunless sea, 8 Feb. 2012
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This review is from: A Farewell To Kings (Audio CD)
Coming straight after the tour de force of 2112, A Farewell to Kings seems somewhat of a lacklustre affair. On its own merits it is very good but there are a few holes, notably the beginning chapter of the Cygnus opus. I have never been a big fan of these suites, for no other reason that they seem a bit sprawling and tuneless in places. The 20 minute follow up on Hemispheres was more of an issue than the first part here but it still feels a little redundant when compared with the excellence of 'Xanadu'.

The title track is one of those Rush songs that are neither here nor there. It is proggy, tuneful and intricate but has no hook. It is ok but no better. 'Xanadu' is probably the best track here. A great song with clear sections and an impressive beginning and end - similar to '2112'. 'Closer to the Heart' is almost a coda to the title track but it is actually far better. Introspective, gentle and thoughtful, it is a great song. 'Cinderella Man' is fine. It is not particularly groundbreaking but is an ok track. 'Madrigal' is another slight entry and is nice without being genuinely brilliant. And 'Cygnus X-1' is too long and uninteresting to fully enjoy (I except that most others' views will differ greatly to mine).

In context however it is difficult to critique as the global musical scene was decidedly different from todays (2012). Now this album sounds a little dated and old-fashioned. Prog has made a comeback of sorts but not a complete regression. At the time, though, I'm sure this was an astounding effort. But if I were to choose, 2112 is the clear winner.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 18, 2014 5:40 PM BST


Spaced - Definitive Collectors' Edition [DVD]
Spaced - Definitive Collectors' Edition [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jessica Stevenson
Offered by Shop4World
Price: £6.61

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Issues, 1 Feb. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is the epitome of the late 90s, early millenium comedy. The Office was just around the corner and the sitcom had evolved, via Black Books by way of I'm Alan Partridge, into a self-effacing, postmodern, self-referential medium of pretension and cheeky asides. But it was, at heart, still the same beast as Fawlty Towers, Only Fools and Horses and Porridge (all the decent sitcoms)just brushed off a bit for a modern audience. Ironically these days (2012 at time of writing) Spaced itself seems a little dated for the same reasons. But it's still one of the best comedies ever created.

As with all the (British)greats it is slight yet full of talent. I won't go into every episode as they are all both excellent and throwaway. But its the homages to cinema (Tarantino, Romero, Warchowski Bros etc) that stick in the mind most. Frost and Pegg may have come from humble beginnings but it's no wonder they are where they are now on this evidence. And Jessica Stevenson is just a magnificent actress.

Could watch it over and over and over and...


2112
2112
Offered by A2Z Entertains
Price: £5.94

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 2012, 26 Jan. 2012
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This review is from: 2112 (Audio CD)
As with most pre-Permanent Waves Rush albums, this takes many listens to truly appreciate. Yes the old adage is that anything will sound good if you play it long enough, but it is not the case here. 2112 is layered and thoughtful, demanding the listener's attention. Ok, it's not for everyone (especially prog rock haters) and it has dated as it is very of its time, but if you are looking for something a bit left of commercial then this 1970s classic is more than worthy.

The title track is a whopper. Unlike their later Cygnus suites, 2112 is a lot easier to digest as it is in bitesize sections. The opening is all fanfare and riffs and is sufficiently rousing. The middle section where the protagonist finds the guitar in the narrative is beautiful with some excellent lyrics. The end does take its time and is less interesting than the first 2 thirds but when it is over it leaves you wondering whether you have heard something very special or simply an overindulgence. But it makes you return for another listen anyway.

The rest are unrelated 3-4 minute tracks of equal quality, none surpassing the mighty titular epic. The pick would be 'Passage to Bangkok', 'Tears' and 'Something for Nothing'. Again these tracks are very layered and not immediate which may put off some as we are more used to the quick-fix nature of pop in today's musical climate (as of 2012).

Not something to cherish as I have only just discovered this but it is definitely worthy of high praise and further examination.


Heartbreak Station
Heartbreak Station
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £6.47

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The More things Change..., 18 Jan. 2012
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This review is from: Heartbreak Station (Audio CD)
An anomaly of an album. It has some utterly sublime moments but others of such backward-thinking inanity that you wonder who was making the decisions. As you may be able to tell, this is not as consistent as their previous 2 releases, but there are a handful of great songs to enjoy. It also shows the band turning almost solely to the blues and/or blue grass sound that they hinted at on Long Cold Winter. And this is also where it voth fails and triumphs.

Opener 'The More Things Change' is a very good song. It's not life-changing, just a great, catchy track that mixes blues and rock together effectively to produce a single-worthy release. 'Love's Got Me Doin Time' however is a blues riff too far. This has genre cliche written all over it. It's got trumpets and slide guitar and a chirpy, faux-blues riff that smacks of pub band. Very MOR and very average. 'Shelter' is better but still not perfect. The gospel chorus is actually a plus and it does grow on you. The title track is possibly the best track on the album. It is unashamedly cheesy and has an element of the blues without being overwhelmed by it. In essence it is a good old-fashioned rock stadium ballad. And it is brilliant. 'Sick For The Cure' is not a bad follow up either. It's intricate, technical and catchy, as well as fun.

'One For Rock and Roll' and 'Dead Man's Road' are head scratchers. These are by no means bad songs at all but they somehow do not belong on this album. Both are almost acoustic, very stripped bare ballads of the country-blues variety. 'One for Rock N Roll' is the better track. It's thoughtful and well structured and well played. 'Dead Man's Road' is a little too long and relies too heavily on slide guitar showing off. But it's ok. 'Make Your Own Way' and 'Electric Love' are a bit boring and could have been excluded a la track 2. 'Love Gone Bad' is a passable rock song with a good chorus. And the closing ballad is decent enough, just not enough to get excited about any further releases.

Some great tracks, a lot of ok ones, some bad ones. If you would like to start listening to Cinderella, I would suggest Long Cold Winter and then Night Songs as these are indicative of their sound, whereas this album feels more of an experiment.


Say Hello To Sunshine
Say Hello To Sunshine
Offered by Music Soup
Price: £2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Meaty, 18 Jan. 2012
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This review is from: Say Hello To Sunshine (Audio CD)
Quite dissimilar to their major label debut, Finch's 2nd and final (at time of writing 2012) album shows a tendency to forge a different path than the commercial, air-waves consuming, single-birthing first. The guitars are angular and gritty, the melodies are less accessible and off key and the screaming is more. This unfortunately means that some of the tracks are slightly incoherent, experimental messes but others are triumphs of a mixture of choas and calm.

The best tracks are the ones that add melody to the squawking instrumentation and these are, 'Insomniatic Meat', 'Piece of Mind', 'Ink'and 'Fireflies'. But the rest are all pretty good and interesting to listen to. It just seems like a different band now and those who enjoyed What it is to Burn may not be overwhelmed by what's on offer here.


Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
Price: £7.79

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Problem Children, 18 Jan. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Even though this was essentially the band's 3rd album, to all non-Australians this was their follow-up to the near classic High Voltage (again itself a frankenstein of the band's first 2 australian albums, High Voltage and TNT). What it lacks in quality it makes up for in rock n roll attitude. AC/DC were never revered for their technical abilities, although Angus and co have always played very profficiently, but their 'go to hell', party ethos was the hook that drew in the millions of fans worldwide. That and the trademark licks and riffs of course. Unfortunately, this is the album that has the least of the those.

The title track is a great little rock song that sounds as dirty as the content. It is no classic but is infectious and will stay with you for a good while. 'Love at First Feel' is a bit throwaway. It's not awful but smacks of attitude over tune. 'Big Balls' is a bit of a divider. You'll either love it or hate it, in my opinion. I'm afraid I do not like it. I'm all for a bit of tongue in cheek fun but it's always best left to Kevin Bloody Wilson or Weird Al Yankovic, or even Mark and Lard. Either droll or dull. 'Rocker' though is a bit of a saving grace after a couple of stinkers. It's fast, full of attitude and rocks just like it says it does. Invigorating. 'Problem Child' is the true classic here. It does go off on a bit of a self-indulgently noodly tangent toards the end but it has energetic riffs and a great, chantable chorus.

'There's gonna be some rockin' is ok. It rocks, albeit in a mid-paced fashion, but it is no better than good. 'Aint no Fun' is another middling one. It's better than the previous track but goes on far too long with the quality of material given. 'Ride On' is the last reason to get this. A sublime paean to rockin and bikin, that rolls with the melancholy of life on the road. Great stuff. It's just a shame Squealor' had to end it all. Another throwaway track that is neither here nor there.

So really only 4 tracks worthy of revisiting here: The title track, 'Rocker', 'Problem Child' and 'Ride On.' Although it would seem that the band had an idea that this was not the golden egg they needed to break the mainstream and pilfered 'Problem Child' for the follow-up, and mainstream-breaking, Let There Be Rock.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 3, 2017 7:06 PM BST


X-Men: First Class (DVD + Digital Copy)
X-Men: First Class (DVD + Digital Copy)
Dvd ~ James McAvoy
Offered by Shop4World
Price: £1.80

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's the business, 12 Jan. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As good as any of the 'best' X-Men films, easily as good as the 2nd. The story is well structured and written, the characters meaty and flawed, as all good characters should be, and the set pieces are very well staged and directed, creating great tension and peril, despite the fact that we know a lot of these characters will survive.

Kevin Bacon is excellent, although he was even more so in his first scene as a Nazi at Auschwitz showing real acting greatness. There are some nice touches such as where Magneto got his helmet, how Charles lost the use of his legs and how the Beast became the Beast.

Lots of fun and acted and directed with pure class.


North
North
Price: £15.42

4.0 out of 5 stars Due North, 12 Jan. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: North (Audio CD)
Not as complete a success as their debut but a worthy end to their short stint as a band. At once soft and serene but also loud and snotty-nosed, North creates singles and then pushes them inbetween tender songs of more merit. However some erred on the wrong side of saccharine.

Best tracks are 'As You Sleep', 'Space' and 'Only Ashes', the latter being my oick from the album. The rest vary in quality but are mainly softer songs. Which makes this something of an ending with a whimper as opposed to a bang, but nevertheless ending well. The main triumph is that the sound is consistent throughout making it a very pleasurable listening experience.


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