Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Amazon Music Unlimited for Family Learn more Fitbit
Profile for Robert Knowles > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Robert Knowles
Top Reviewer Ranking: 435,885
Helpful Votes: 184

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Robert Knowles "109Rob" (Cardiff, Wales, UK)
(REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5
pixel
Gipsy Lady
Gipsy Lady
Offered by jim-exselecky
Price: £4.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So? Lenny Henry Played Othello Didn't He?, 3 Sept. 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Gipsy Lady (Audio CD)
Gary Barden and Michael Voss reworking Michael Schenker's "Thank You 4" is, admittedly, a little like the idea of Lenny Henry playing Othello, or William Shatner playing Henry V (both of which actually happened). But so what? Both Henry and Shatner remain indispensable. In an analogous way, Barden and Voss completely transform Thank You 4 into something else - but the result is just as enjoyable, even if it is 'pop' rather than 'classic rock'.

The relationship between Gipsy Lady tracks and Thank You 4 tracks is as follows: Lost (TY4-1), Dance Lady Gipsy (TY4-8), All of My Life (TY4-11), Fight for Freedom (TY4-10), El Grande (TY4-5), Starting Over (TY4-4), Can't Live On Love Alone (TY4-13), Another Melody (TY4-7), Travelled So Far (TY4-3), Hungry (TY4-6), Night of the Stare (TY4-14), The Journey (TY4-12). Only TY4-2 and TY4-9 are omitted.

It would be misleading to think that vocals and other parts have simply been 'added' to TY4 tracks however. In some cases, the original TY4 tracks are actually hard to identify, such is the level of reworking. What Gipsy Lady achieves over and above TY4 is an injection of more obvious variety. It is not that the TY4 material is lacking in quality. Indeed, when making compilations of Schenker's music, slotting in his acoustic numbers here and there between electric tracks both isolates and highlights the greatness of virtually all of Schenker's acoustic compositions in their own right. This very point, though, means that when too many of Michael's straight acoustic tracks are placed in succession, one is left wanting injections of his electric material for the sake of diversity. What Gipsy Lady achieves is a similar kind of needed diversity - not by injecting electric material between acoustic tracks, but by creating a succession of very catchy pop-songs. Admittedly, Barden is not above lyrical "ham" at times - but it is the essential kind of ham we're talking about - the William Shatner kind without which the world - even the Shakespearean world - would be lacking something!


What a woman shouldn't do
What a woman shouldn't do
Price: £12.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Debut from Julie McKee, 7 July 2008
London-based singer/song-writer Julie McKee has really come up trumps with this new release from the aptly-named, Shrewd Records, label. Julie combines an experienced performing background with jazz and classical training - and adds to these a shedload of raw talent and originality - to produce a delightful, catchy, and professionally produced album, a genre-crossover between pop, blues, and jazz. Critically hailed with five-stars as 'one of the finest collections of jazz imbued pop you'll hear' (Wildy's World), What a Woman Shouldn't Do, is likely to remain in your CD player for some time.

The band line-up says a lot - including Julie McKee (vocals, Wurlitzer, piano, Fender Rhodes), Nigel Price of the James Taylor Quartet (guitar), Simon Little of Divine Comedy (bass, double bass), Rob Gentry (Hammond Organ), Mark Fletcher (drums, percussion), Sam Chaplin (trumpet, flugel horn), Joe Leach (Fender Rhodes, synthesisers), Kat Arney (harp), and Nicki Hutchins (clarinet, bass clarinet). Just assume in what follows that the musicianship is superb throughout!

Nobody's Farm provides an initially low-key start to the album, combining strong melody, a catchy feel, great lyrics, and Julie's amazing vocal range and stylistic techniques. All About You retains the groove and, along with the first track, provides us with great verse and chorus melodies. Track 3, Eric Marlow, remainds me of The Beetles - and such comparisons are really not out of place here - so special is the quality of Julie's song-writing. Not to mention great guitar-work from Nigel Price (James Taylor Quartet). Carousel begins with lovely bluesy vocals. There are so many musical dynamics present in this album that are simply absent from the average pop or rock record - it's a delight to see so much above-the-stave action and feeling. It Just So Happens is a soulful number in which Julie's vocal parts are foregrounded against Nigel Price's fret-work. All five tracks so far could be 'greatest hits' material. The Experts could easily be a song from a musical - a great combination of piano and Zorro-esque trumpet towards the end, with hints of Kate Bush's livelier tracks in the song-writing perhaps. Summer Weather In My Heart, with its lovely several-octave intervals on the piano and soulful bluesy lyrics has more of a nostalgic feel. By now, the listener is well into their own imaginative journey through memories of Summer excursions. Nine Years Old continues the magic - again I'm slightly reminded of Kate Bush, but this time of Aerial. This is a wonderfully sending track, with beautiful melodies - my favorite so far. Excellent trumpet work - backgrounded as though Finding Forrester were happening somewhere in the distance. Mount Vesuvius rocks things up again (which is what Aerial could have done with more of!) - great to hear Nigel Price's wonderfully restrained bluesy deep-south guitar-touches. Angel Song is very original conceptually - speculating on the heightened way one would notice the world if one knew it was the eve of one's passing. To give you an idea of the stylistic diversity going on here, I am reminded of Sufjan Stevens on this track. The title-track concludes the album - not unlike the James Taylor Quartet's Don't Mess With Mr. T - except that something very different to JTQ is hapenning here, something decidedly Eastern in flavour, as though to imply that chauvenist attitudes smack of mediaeval religions - which shall remain nameless!


Past And Present
Past And Present

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is Truly Excellent - Essential for Schenker/Barden Fans!!, 5 Jun. 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Past And Present (Audio CD)
I was very pleasently surprised when I first heard this. At first I thought it was just a compilation of past releases. However, when I heard it was a complete re-writing and re-arrangement of Gary and Michael's earlier work, I was intrigued. Then, when I played it, I was extremely impressed. Gary, of course, has got one of the greatest set of pipes in rock vocals, and if anything has improved over the years. Michael Voss on guitar is superb! He doesn't simply 'shred' his way through the tracks (which would ruin them). Rather, he plays with very Schenker-like restraint and feel, and with plenty of allusion to the actual guitar-parts Michael Schenker originally played - and yet without simple imitation. The result is spectacular - as close to the early Michael Schenker as I suspect any mere mortal could get. I'm now a Michael Voss fan! A word must also be said about the arrangements themselves. Dare I say it - they are in the same league as the originals - just as good, and yet completely different. The use of acoustic work in the arrangements is very impressive - a very refreshing change. This too is reminiscent of Schenker in more recent works such as Be Aware of Scorpions and Adventures of the Imagination. Other musicians include Marco Minnemann (drums, percussion), Christoph Wegmann (lead guitar fills on Red Sky, outro solo on Ready to Rock), Jochen Mayer (backing vocals), Angel Schleifer (slide guitar and lead guitar on Ready to Rock - breaks one and two (very tasty!)), and Dirk Hoewische (Hammond B3). In short: get this brilliant album - without it your MSG collection is simply not complete!!


Victory for the Comic Muse
Victory for the Comic Muse
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Victory for The Divine Comedy... and for Julie McKee?!, 4 Jun. 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a great album. We start of with To Die a Virgin, which is humorously described as the worst possible fate. A comical mixture of happy-musical vehicle and morbid theme. Next it's the more accessible, Mother Dear, about first realising that one's mother 'is a person in her own right'. The song moves on to the 'being adopted' theme - deconstructing heavy issues by presenting them with mock seriousness and hill-billy banjo's in the background! Diva Lady opens with a superb rhythm/bass/piano groove - and you just know what the subject matter is going to be like: yes, it's a kind of David Bowie style commentary on a Diva's 'special needs'. Excellent chorus - 'she's got 30 people in her entourage just in case her ego needs a massage'. Superb track! Makes you wonder what we're going to get with A Lady of a Certain Age. This track is about the rich-trappings and imprisonments - and hence melancholy and nostalgias - of being a higher-class lady - 'to keep your sanity a nanny was employed'. 'That's what they they did in those days' suggests some kind of period-piece like Suzan Howatch's Penmaric. The Light of Day is about melancholic reflection upon a past relationship through finding an old photo. This is vaguely reminiscent of The Smiths - except with better musicianship. Threesome is a very short track - the instrumental nature of which both leaves the listener to their imagination and sounds like the music to a silent Charlie Chaplin film. Party Fears Two has an odd military-drum and brass um-pah sound - which forms the backing to what seems to be an absurd description of pre-party fears based on how the booze might trash one's manners and etiquette. Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World draws parallels between the said BBC programme and the narrator's woman friend. Other parallels include the woman in the 80s who was allergic to everything, the Baltic Sea, the expanding universe, uncharted territory, and so on - the point being to liken his woman to all that is completely baffling. Yet, at least she is 'lovely as could be'. Next up it's a Russian-sounding track called The Plough - about a farmer's boy going to the city. He starts as an office-boy, but rises through the firm - only to discover company corruption, which he rejects to 'plough his own furrow'. This includes listening to the local preacher's message of hell-fire, which he finds morally unacceptable as well. Guess he'll have to plough his own furrow! Count Grassi's Passage Over Piedmont is like a drug-induced account of an ethereal trip through a European Summertime by balloon - possibly the most intellectual track yet and a favorite of mine. Snowball in Negative concludes the album with a truly melancholic comparison between life slowly ebbing away, a snowball in negative (i.e. rolling on but getting smaller instead of bigger (if only!)), and failing to give up smoking, where the way the cigarette burns down also forms a parallel.

I suppose there's something of Monty-Python in The Divine Comedy. At one level it's excellent, correctly identifying the absurdities of life with a certain intellectual rigour. However, one wonders whether the attempt to find meaning in life is prematurely shelved in the Morrisey-like indulgence of self-pitiousness - which of course is also mocked and so can't be that bad can it? It's so true of the British that when it comes to the truly 'deep' thought that one needs to dig oneself out of nihilism - whether melancholic, humorous, or both - we just leave it to the Europeans and have another Pims. Afterall - to sacrifice one's world-weariness - well, it just isn't done my dear boy.

On a musical note, electric and double-bass player Simon Little has recently appeared on an altogether more hopeful and just as musically brilliant project with new senstation, Julie McKee - alongside Nigel Price from the James Taylor Quartet. The album in question is called, 'What a Woman Shouldn't Do' - which I prefer even to 'Victory for the Comic Muse'!


What a woman shouldn't do
What a woman shouldn't do
Price: £12.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Debut Album from Julie McKee, 29 May 2008
London-based singer/song-writer Julie McKee has really come up trumps with this new release from the aptly-named, Shrewd Records, label. Julie combines an experienced performing background with jazz and classical training - and adds to these a shedload of raw talent and originality - to produce a delightful, catchy, and professionally produced album, a genre-crossover between pop, blues, and jazz. Critically hailed with five-stars as 'one of the finest collections of jazz imbued pop you'll hear' (Wildy's World), What a Woman Shouldn't Do, is likely to remain in your CD player for some time.

The band line-up says a lot - including Julie McKee (vocals, Wurlitzer, piano, Fender Rhodes), Nigel Price of the James Taylor Quartet (guitar), Simon Little of Divine Comedy (bass, double bass), Rob Gentry (Hammond Organ), Mark Fletcher (drums, percussion), Sam Chaplin (trumpet, flugel horn), Joe Leach (Fender Rhodes, synthesisers), Kat Arney (harp), and Nicki Hutchins (clarinet, bass clarinet). Just assume in what follows that the musicianship is superb throughout!

Nobody's Farm provides an initially low-key start to the album, combining strong melody, a catchy feel, great lyrics, and Julie's amazing vocal range and stylistic techniques. All About You retains the groove and, along with the first track, provides us with great verse and chorus melodies. Track 3, Eric Marlow, remainds me of The Beetles - and such comparisons are really not out of place here - so special is the quality of Julie's song-writing. Not to mention great guitar-work from Nigel Price (James Taylor Quartet). Carousel begins with lovely bluesy vocals. There are so many musical dynamics present in this album that are simply absent from the average pop or rock record - it's a delight to see so much above-the-stave action and feeling. It Just So Happens is a soulful number in which Julie's vocal parts are foregrounded against Nigel Price's fret-work. All five tracks so far could be 'greatest hits' material. The Experts could easily be a song from a musical - a great combination of piano and Zorro-esque trumpet towards the end, with hints of Kate Bush's livelier tracks in the song-writing perhaps. Summer Weather In My Heart, with its lovely several-octave intervals on the piano and soulful bluesy lyrics has more of a nostalgic feel. By now, the listener is well into their own imaginative journey through memories of Summer excursions. Nine Years Old continues the magic - again I'm slightly reminded of Kate Bush, but this time of Aerial. This is a wonderfully sending track, with beautiful melodies - my favorite so far. Excellent trumpet work - backgrounded as though Finding Forrester were happening somewhere in the distance. Mount Vesuvius rocks things up again (which is what Aerial could have done with more of!) - great to hear Nigel Price's wonderfully restrained bluesy deep-south guitar-touches. Angel Song is very original conceptually - speculating on the heightened way one would notice the world if one knew it was the eve of one's passing. To give you an idea of the stylistic diversity going on here, I am reminded of Sufjan Stevens on this track. The title-track concludes the album - not unlike the James Taylor Quartet's Don't Mess With Mr. T - except that something very different to JTQ is hapenning here, something decidedly Eastern in flavour, as though to imply that chauvenist attitudes smack of mediaeval religions - which shall remain nameless!


Don't Mess with Mr. T
Don't Mess with Mr. T
Price: £13.12

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Release by JTQ - almost as superb as Julie McKee's!!, 29 May 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Don't Mess with Mr. T (Audio CD)
Nigel Price's superb guitar-work on this album is evident from track one onwards. One of Nigel's strengths is to show proper musical restraint - very much serving the song rather than vanity. Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than in Nigel's appearance on Julie McKee's superb debut release (about to come out - see amazon.co.uk) entitled, What A Woman Shouldn't Do, a must for anyone interested not only in Nigel Price but in genre-redefining new projects generally.

Anyway, back to Don't Mess with Mr. T! There's no doubt about it, James Taylor is a master of his craft. Nobody could call this an album of covers since it so thoroughly reinterprets the tracks in question. Money (that's what I want) is a superb upbeat number with solos from James himself, from Nigel Price, and from Jamie Anderson on sax. This really is a tight performance - sound production is excellent too. Next up it's Got to Give it Up, a more laid-back number with a truly magical groove. just try not getting up to dance to this one! James' Hammond organ is the most prominant on this track - except for the rhythm section that is. The next track is Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours). Another brilliant performance with an amazing pace-increase towards the end. Next it's Function at the Junction - impossible not to dance to this. Here, Nigel Price really shines in an extended solo - style prefiguring that of his later appearance on Julie McKee's album. The next track is a complete change - slowing things down considerably. More of a smoocher this - aptly entitled After the Dance, and featuring Omar. Jimmy Mack ups the pace once again - this and the previous track are more 'vocals' orientated. Next, Nigel opens for us again on Machine Gun. Absolutely superb this - brilliant rhythm section. You could remake the entire series of Shaft with guest appearances from Huggie Bear to this. Come See About Me, featuring Donna Gardier, is a great punchy vocals-focussed number. Nigel Price again opens for us on Cleo's Mood - though it is the sax that really shines here and throughout the track. You Beat me to the Punch, featuring Hil St Soul slows things down again. A lovely sing-a-long track this. Vocals centred. You're All I Need to Get By, only slightly up's the pace. Superb Summer-drive laid-back number - again featuring Nigel Price's superb blues-jazz licks against the background of James' Hammond. Another smoocher, Don't Mess With Mr. T, the title-track, is a remarkably laid-back, mildly melancholic Marvin Gaye number. Great mid-track solo from James Taylor but - if anything it's Nigel Price who shines yet again - hence my mild disagreement with the other reviewer.

Overall, a superb effort - almost as good as Julie McKee...! In fact, the two albums Don't Mess with Mr. T and What a Woman Shouldn't Do well accompany one-another - the one excelling within a genre (JTQ), the other redefining a genre (McKee). Just imagine a gig with these two bands head-lining together - and with the added benefit of getting Nigel Price twice!!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 7, 2008 1:58 AM BST


The Plot
The Plot
Offered by jim-exselecky
Price: £5.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth Five Stars for the Solos, 13 April 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Plot (Audio CD)
At first I confess that the bawdiness of the song-writing put me off this album. But then I went to Guitar9.com which provides clips with just the solos on them. They are superb. Any Schenker fan has to get this album for the solos. I will be the first to admit that the songs are below par - but the solos, the SOLOS....... it was like being reconfigured existentially.


Alien Relations
Alien Relations
Price: £11.62

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Michael Schenker appears on just one track (from The Plot), 24 Nov. 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Alien Relations (Audio CD)
Attempting to get all the way through this album, I made it to track 9. The album opens with Too Hot to Handle, with Pete Way on Vocals (Pete Way Solo Project) . Next, it's The Wild, the Willing and the Innocent, executed by Waysted. Then it's a truly surreal version of Lights Out by the Paul Raymond Project. After that, it's Need Her Bad from the Schenker/Way collaboration called The Plot. Schenker's guitar-work sounds god-like compared to what has come before on this album. Next, it's Joe Public by John Sloman (played keyboards with UFO). I actually quite liked this track as well - very mellow, as was Paradise by Pete Way (Pete Way Solo Project)- an accoustic number. Next comes Hold On by Snowblind - but don't believe the blurb about Andy Simmons (played on a Paul Raymond project) sounding like Schenker. In fact, compare Need Her Bad to Hold On and you'll see what I mean. Next it's Crazy by Pete Way (Solo Project), followed by She's On a Roll by the Paul Raymond Project. Tracks 10-12 are Heaven Tonight by Waysted, SOS by Alaska (Bernie Marsden's band), and Dreams by Waysted.

In other words, this is a compilation album containing tracks from different projects by musicians associated with UFO band members. Thus, depending on what your tastes are, it is likely to be hit and miss. Being a Schenker-Head myself, it simply confirmed to me my own view that Schenker was responsible for much of UFO's magic. When Schenker exits the frame, it's always hit and miss with this bunch. The sleeve blurb is correct, however, about You Are Here being an excellent album.


BBC Radio 1 Live
BBC Radio 1 Live

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Early 80s Live Schenker, 20 Nov. 2007
This review is from: BBC Radio 1 Live (Audio CD)
I saw that another reviewer had given this album only three stars and could not help but reply. The problem is that One Night at Budokan and Rock Will Never Die get all the press when, actually, BBC Radio 1 Live is the best early 80s live Schenker recording in my view. I admit that the band as a whole is rather rough and ready on this record. But Schenker's playing is absolutely astounding throughout. Armed and Ready, Cry for the Nations, Attack of the Mad Axeman, But I Want More, and Rock You to the Ground are great performances. But it is on Bijou Pleasurette, Let Sleeping Dogs Lie, Lost Horizons, and Doctor Doctor that Schenker lets rip. In fact, this album is unique in relation to Schenker 'letting it rip'. Being a restrained musician much of the time, Schenker actually hates 'showing off', since it is a rather cheap frame of mind to indulge musically. However, as though finally giving in to popular demand, Schenker ignites a blistering detonation of firework soloing towards the end of this recording. Easily worth the measly price of £32 requested for this rare gem. I know it's blasphemy to say anything matches One Night at Budokan, but BBC Radio 1 Live should be the real bestseller. Certainly, it is better than Rock Will Never Die, Back to Attack, or Reactivate Live.


The Fool
The Fool
Price: £25.48

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fair all round - but marginalises Schenker's talent, 21 Sept. 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Fool (Audio CD)
The following is more a reaction to the other review of The Fool rather than a review itself. Nevertheless, Jeff Martin is to be commended for this project. He rightly acknowledges his Creator in the back of the album sleeve, and with great humility states that he is his own worst enemy (aren't we all?). This is very much a rock album in which Jeff and the band seem to be wrestling with their demons. It is dark, avant garde, heavy, original, skilfull, and thoughtful. Whilst this sub-genre is not my particular cup of tea, one cannot but admire the effort that has gone into this project.

My only gripe is that the material marginalises Michael Schenker's talent, where Michael seems to get lost in the mix on the three tracks on which he plays. Jeff Martin is well aware of Schenker's abilities, as he plays drums on Michael's latest outstanding studio effort, Tales of Rock 'n' Roll. Indeed, I feel sure that Jeff would depart from the clumsy comment made by the other reviewer of 'The Fool' who writes, "Mr Gilbert performs considerably better than the once legendary Schenker, whose downwards trajectory always seems to have a new rock bottom". There is a half-truth to this comment and yet, at the same time, it is grossly misleading.

The half-truth is that Gilbert - the main lead guitarist on The Fool - does indeed seem to play 'considerably better' than Schenker on the album. The problem, though, is not Schenker's abilities, but the way in which his parts are only marginal, and mixed into the background. It is as though the very aim of the recording was to show Michael in a bad light - though I am sure that this was not actually the case. As for Schenker's supposed 'downwards trajectory', then anybody who knows Schenker's material from across the 36 years or so of his recording career (I have all of it) knows that he has actually produced even more world-beating guitar-work in his last 12 years than in his first 12 years.

I would concede that - in live settings - Schenker has certainly had his problems. Yet, in terms of studio output, Schenker's last 12 years have produced solo work and compositional work that even Mr. Gilbert - great though he undoubtedly is - would have to concede was genius. To prove this, I have composed lists of Schenker's greatest solos and top 40 albums - both at Amazon.co.uk and at Amazon.com - to try to dispel once and for all the ludicrously tired and empirically false rumour that Schenker has "lost it". This is drivel. About 60% of Schenker's best material is RECENT!

And I think that what will most annoy the reviewer from Edinburgh is that Jeff Martin knows that rumours of Schenker's supposed 'loss of abilities' are drivel as well - which is most probably why he gladly worked with Michael on Tales of Rock 'n' Roll, and most probably why he invited Michael to play on The Fool. Nobody was dishing out 'charity' to anybody - I feel sure that the truth is probably that the two musicians simply have mutual respect for one another.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5