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So8os Presents Alphaville (Curated By Blank & Jones)
So8os Presents Alphaville (Curated By Blank & Jones)
Price: £26.76

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extremely well done compilation of some of the best music of the 1980’s, 8 Nov. 2014
To describe this collection as a dream come true would be an understatement. I have been waiting for all of these tracks to be reissued on CD for so many years, and I cannot speak highly enough about the package on every level. I had feared that modern day mastering techniques could be a problem and the sound would be turned so loud that it would “brickwall’ the original dynamic range. No such thing happened with this masterpiece. The sound retains full dynamic range and offers extremely clear, rich and full transfers of the original studio master tapes. A lot of time and care went into this release by all involved, and it shows from every aspect. Thankfully, the CD is presented in a jewel case, as opposed to an easily worn out digipak. The booklet is so thick, containing full page reproductions of all of the original single sleeves, which I love. There are comments on each song and rare photos. I’m so pleased with this product, and it’s been my most satisfying purchase on 2014.

If you only know ‘Big in Japan’ or ‘Forever Young’ by Alphaville, you are missing out on so much more. While their 3 original albums from the 1980’s are all worth owning, some of their absolute best material was hidden away on their single B sides. For the first time ever, all of them have been collected here (on CD 2) in crystal clear glory. I got my first Alphaville single ‘Big in Japan’ in 1984. Always being curious about single B sides, even at that age, I was ecstatic when I flipped the 45 over to hear what is probably my favorite Alphaville song, ‘Seeds’. The chorus of this classic was instantly catchy and I couldn’t stop playing it. 30 years on I still play the song on a regular basis. It truly is a perfect song that displays Marian Gold’s amazing vocal range. He shouts the chorus with such power that it gives me chills. At the other end of the spectrum, ‘Welcome to the Sun’ is a beautiful mellow song that consists of keyboards and Marian’s very smooth and soothing vocals. ‘The Nelson Highrise, Sector 2 – The Mirror’ has been an absolute favorite since I first heard it in 1986, and is probably my 2nd favorite B side. I like how they reference in the lyrics how it’s a B side to the Empire Remix of their single ‘Dance with Me’: “This is the national anthem from the flipside of the empire”. I remember when I first heard the B side ‘Next Generation’ I ended up playing it much more than the single A side. None of Alphaville’s B sides were throwaway tracks, and some could have easily been A sides. ‘Vingt Mille Lieus Sous Les Mers’ is subtitled ‘The Nelson Highrise, Sector 3 – The Garage’, and is similar to ‘Welcome to the Sun’ in that it’s based around keyboards and a beautiful vocal performance, though does have some distant guitar in there as well. The 1989 B side ‘Headlines’ is another very catchy track that will get you off the couch.

CD 1 contains all of the band’s original 12” mixes, many of which are excellent alternatives to the single or album versions. ‘Forever Young’ is completely re-recorded (at the time) with a dance beat that completely transforms the song. ‘Jet Set’ is re-recorded as well but does not stray too far from the original album version. This extended mix is great. ‘Dance with Me’ is one of my favorites in its original form but this 12” mix makes great use of the music to extend the piece. ‘Sensations’ was released as a single only in France and became a very rare and hard to find 12” single. The 12” mix is another amazing version of this very catchy song. ‘Romeos’ extends to over 8 minutes but never gets boring. ‘Summer Rain’ offers an extended intro but is otherwise very similar to the album version. There are a couple of dub mixes and a pretty forgettable previously unreleased modern remix of ‘Big in Japan’ tacked on to the end of CD 2 to help round things out. Both CD’s in this set clock in at over 85 minutes. I know, I didn’t think it was possible either but they’ve done it.

Make no mistake, if you like anything about Alphaville or 80’s electronic music, you must own this stellar collection. It wasn’t tossed together by a record company looking to make a few bucks, it was a several year project with complete involvement from the band all the way. The care and effort they put into this should be commended, and should be a benchmark for all other artists to achieve.


The Rapture
The Rapture
Offered by jim-exselecky
Price: £3.70

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful return to form, and fitting farewell..., 4 Nov. 2014
This review is from: The Rapture (Audio CD)
The Rapture was the Banshees' return to form, after going a bit mainstream with Peepshow and a bit glossy with Superstition. We were now back rougher production and focus on a more traditional Banshees sound. Two singles were released from The Rapture; the bland background music of 'O Baby', (which is the Banshees' worst music video), and the wonderfully catchy New Wave of 'Stargazer'. I credited the Banshees for releasing a very 1982 sounding single in the mid-90's, when New Wave was considered an embarrassment to those who now immersed themselves in the vile Grunge scene. Unfortunately for it, Stargazer achieved the lowest chart position of any Banshees single, and signaled the end of the most amazing career in music history.

Some low points certainly exist on The Rapture. 'The Lonely One' has to the worst Banshees song ever. 'The Double Life' and 'Falling Down' are not much better. On the up side, 'Forever' and 'The Rapture' are the album highlights. 'Forever' is a gorgeous tear jerker, while 'The Rapture' is an 11 minute epic with three distinctive breathtaking parts. As long as the song is it's never tedious for a second, and just as daring and stunning all these years later.

The distance Siouxsie and Budgie lived, as well as long time in-fighting (and most likely diminishing sales) resulted in The Banshees calling it quits after The Rapture. Some fights seemed to revolve around Budgie's occasional stabs at lyric writing and Severin's disapproval of them. As a result, one of the better songs from the sessions, 'Hang Me High' (lyrics by Budgie), was relegated to a B side.

After the Banshees split, Siouxsie and Budgie continued on as The Creatures, releasing the terribly trendy and bland Anima Animus, followed by the dull and forgettable Hai. The Banshees briefly reunited in 2002 for the release of their Best Of CD, as well as a series of live shows. The shows concentrated heavily on the first few albums, and also showed that Siouxsie's voice no longer fit the material. She had lost much of her upper register, which resulted in her signing being way off key. Most of it was painful to listen to, but I don't understand how a person who makes her living as a vocalist didn't realize that she would have to stop smoking if she wanted to retain her pipes. Now they're gone forever. Once Budgie and Siouxsie divorced, Siouxie released her first solo album. After hearing sound samples of the album, I opted not to purchase it. If the Banshees reunited, I have no doubt that they would deliver another amazing album. As talented as Siouxsie and Budgie are, if Severin's not there then neither is the magic.

2014 REMASTER UPDATE:
The Rapture was reissued in a "remastered" form in October 2014, along with 3 of the band's other albums. The remastering here is all over the place. Though the remastered CD has loud and brickwalled volume, the original CD did as well. And being that it was released in 1995 it was likely one of the first victims of the loudness war. But unlike much of my opinion on the other remasters in the Banshees catalog, this one actually has some minor improvements in spots. 'Tearing Apart' and 'Love Out Me' both have a fuller sound with more punch than the original CD, though do cut back a little on the high end (as has everything in this remaster series). But other songs don't fare so well. The song 'The Rapture' has a considerably duller, muted and muddy sound compared to the original CD. The delicate details are blurred into the background. 'Stargazer' has been replaced on this CD with one of the remixes of the song, which first appeared on one of the CD singles back in 1995, then again on the Best Of CD released in 2002. A couple fans asked Steven Severin about this on the band's Facebook page, though he didn't comment.

The bonus tracks here are the best of the batch. 'FGM' is a demo with a great rocking sound. The intended lyrics are included under the CD tray but the demo lyrics are little more than Siouxsie mumbling what was to have been the structure of the song had they gone forward with it. A number of months ago 'FGM' showed up on YouTube. Severin replied in offense that someone had been able to obtain a copy of 'FGM', and insisted that it was incomplete, sub-standard and never meant to be heard, and would certainly not be included on any release. Then a couple of months ago he apparently had a change of heart and put a message on the Facebook page asking for the person who had the recording to contact him. So now lucky for us we have 'FGM' included as a bonus track. 'New Skin' is a thunderous song originally included in the unintentional camp classic film Showgirls, though this version is nearly 3 minutes longer and is excellent. There was other material that could have been included as bonus tracks. The song 'Dizzy', from the same timeframe as The Rapture, appeared on the 2002 Best Of CD, though had been re-edited from its original form. The original version (which I do have) was available on a 1 track CD for a limited time. It would have fit in nicely with the rest of the album.


Peepshow
Peepshow
Price: £8.95

4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the Banshees least enduring albums still earns 4 stars - The remaster earns 2 stars, 3 Nov. 2014
This review is from: Peepshow (Audio CD)
This "remastered" reissue of the 1988 album Peepshow by Siouxsie and the Banshees definitely has some faults. There is a surprising mastering glitch that was not detected until a fan posted it on Facebook. A corrected CD is being pressed and is said to be available by mid/late November 2014. Any stock purchased prior to that date, and likely a bit after that, will have the mastering fault. And now you, the lucky buyer, has to contact the place you purchased it from, explain the situation and hope the replacement they send you will in fact be the repaired copy. Or you can do what a number of Banshees cyberdrones have stated on the Facebook page: "Just keep the defective CD as a collector's item and buy another copy to support the band!" Sure, everyone should send a message that not only are blatant mastering faults acceptable, but that the record label will actually profit. More attention should have definitely been paid prior to the CD master being approved. The problem is as follows: Track 8 'Rawhead and Bloodybones' ends as it should, but then the next song 'The Last Beat of My Heart' starts for a few seconds, then stops. This is followed by nearly 10 seconds of dead air before the CD actually changes to track 9. But wait, it gets better. About a second into track 9 you hear the "engineer" switch on the tape machine (indicated by the slow to fast whir) playing the last 7 seconds of track 8 again before 'The Last Beat of My Heart' actually starts. This is not a "minor" glitch (as Severin has stated in the official announcement regarding the issue), but an error of about 20 seconds in length stretched across 2 different songs that should have been spotted a mile away. It seems that perhaps no one actually listened to the actual CD remaster before Universal sent it to be pressed. Steven Severin advertises that he oversees all of the Banshees products from start to finish, so he definitely should have caught this prior to production.

As for other problems with the CD mastering, they have all been remastered by Kevin Metcalfe, as with the last batch 5 years ago, so they all have what I feel are similar shortcomings. All have had the volume brickwalled to some degree, squashing out a good portion of the original dynamic range. The majority of the tracks across all CD's have somewhat of a muddy sound to them due to lower fidelity than the original CD's, while the middle section has been beefed up a bit. Regarding the skimpy bonus tracks, Severin states that Siouxsie preferred to have the 12" mix of 'The Killing Jar' rather than 'Peek-A-Boo', and they both wanted to include the live version of 'The Last Beat of My Heart', even though both tracks are readily available. When one fan asked about why these were included in favor of unavailable mixes, Severin stated those releases will be out of print someday and this ensures those versions stay in print. That doesn't really answer the question. Not to mention that this CD clocks in at 62 minutes so that leaves at least 18 minutes of unused space. Severin alludes to a possible future release that may include some of the currently unavailable mixes, though with this obviously costly repress of Peepshow, I wouldn't doubt that could possibly put future releases in jeopardy.

Peepshow is a good album but has the unfortunate problem of being the Banshees' most dated sounding album. It screams late 1980's production, whether it's the way the drums were mixed or some of the sorely dated keyboard sounds, namely the quivery electric piano in the song 'Scarecrow' or the pre-programmed percussive sounds in 'Ornaments of Gold'. Peepshow was the first Banshees album released after I first got into the band in 1987 and I purchased it on the day of release in 1988. I already had the 'Peek-A-Boo' 12" single because I really liked the band, though I just didn't like this song at all. Try as I might, I just thought it was a terrible hodgepodge which had no sort of hook to it. All these years later, it's one of the band's few songs that makes me cringe. 'The Killing Jar' was released as the second single and was much better, though still fairly mediocre. The song received no promotion in the U.S. and Geffen did not provide the music video to MTV for promotion. I just saw the 12" single new in the shops one day and bought it. The single remix of the song was a vast improvement, and the 12" mix is nice as well. The album version is more subtle. 'Scarecrow' was my favorite song at the time and I still like it, though perhaps not as much. I thought it had a great hook at the chorus. But the song that has been a long time standout is the eerie 'Carousel', with its keyboard and vocal based structure before Budgie comes in to give it a strong finale. 'Burn Up' is nothing you would have ever expected from the Banshees. It's a Country song with a hoe-down stomp and harmonica. I really liked it at the time but it's not aged so well.

Peepshow didn't seem to have much in the way of potential singles on it, though one that comes close is the pleasantly adequate 'Ornaments of Gold'. 'Turn to Stone' is a song that I never liked and I still can't tolerate it. 'Rawhead and Bloodybones' is like a very brief twisted fairy tale built around some bizarre circus-like keyboard sounds. 'The Last Beat of My Heart' is a very pleasant ballad with little more than a very sweet vocal performance and some delicate drumming and keyboards steadily intensifying until the song ends. It's a very nice song but I can understand why if failed as a single. The album highlight is by far the epic 'Rhapsody'. It starts very soft and subtle and builds to an explosive climax. Siouxsie hits some startling operatic highs in this, the album's masterpiece.

So while Peepshow is still a good album with some essential tracks, it has not stood the test to time all that well and is in my personal bottom tier of Banshees albums. The band does not return until 1991 with their album Superstition; an album that a lot of fans think has dated poorly, though I don't think quite as much as Peepshow.


Through The Looking Glass
Through The Looking Glass
Offered by jim-exselecky
Price: £4.39

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good covers album – a mediocre remaster, 30 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Rather than end my review with my thoughts on the remastering and packaging, I will start with it. Simply put, I feel the remastering is lacking. The fidelity has been dulled down and the volume has been increased to heavy compression levels. By lowering the high end it makes many of the nuances in the music blur into the background. Just give a simple comparison to the original CD (compensating the volume for accuracy). The “remastered” CD sounds dull by comparison. Though the original album tracks have definitely been compressed, the two 12” mixes have been destroyed. I had hoped Severin would have found a nice middle ground because he’s well aware that I’m not the only one who has had issues with the past remasters, but no such luck. I’m also not a fan of the packaging at all. The single fold digipaks looks cheap and flimsy. Even some of the Banshees CD singles had more elaborate packaging. The glossy finish from the last batch of remasters was deemed an “error” so this batch is back to the matte finish similar to the first batch of remasters when they were available as digipaks. I would much prefer a standard and protective jewel case, though Severin has stated his distaste for them.

Through the Looking Glass was one of the first records I bought by Siouxsie and the Banshees when I started getting into their music in 1987. I didn’t really want to start with a covers album but it was the only LP I could find at my local store at the time. The album opens with the Sparks cover of their huge 1974 hit ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us’. I really liked this right away and it became a favorite of mine, though I had not heard the original at that point. When I did finally hear the original several years later I was surprised how much better it was than the Banshees version. The drums in the original were excellent and had a stop/start excitement to them. The Banshees version was built around a repetitive bass drum. It’s good but could have been much better. The next cover is Kraftwerk’s ‘Hall of Mirrors”, and it’s the best song on this album. The original song, like much of Kraftwerk’s music, is very repetitious. Siouxsie makes the very smart call of saving the chorus of the song until after 2 verses, not 1 like the Kraftwerk version. The music is very dark and catchy with pounding drums and throbbing bass, and has a definite late 80’s Gothic feel to it. ‘This Wheel’s on Fire’ was written by Bob Dylan and became a big hit for the Banshees. It’s not half bad but certainly not one of my favorites. The video for it is very classy. I’ve recently learned to love the cover of ‘Strange Fruit’. The strings are glorious and Siouxsie sings it just beautifully. ‘The Passenger’ was released as the second single and sounded like it could have been a big hit. It was very poppy and catchy, though it didn’t set the charts on fire. ‘Sea Breezes’ is a very competent cover of Roxy Music.

Of the bonus tracks, I think the one most fans have been waiting for is the wonderful but neglected 1987 single (which followed ‘The Passenger’) called ‘Song from the Edge of the World’. The song is very energizing, showcasing Siouxsie’s vocal strength at the time. However, the single was the lowest charting of their career at the time and was disregarded when it came to the band’s 1992 singles collection Twice Upon a Time – The Singles. The band claimed it was left off because of bad memories working with the producer on the single at the time which allegedly caused what they viewed as shortcomings on the finished product, though I don’t doubt for one second that the vanity of its chart placing had a big part in its absence. But fans have been telling Severin for years online that the song is absolutely brilliant and should be re-released on CD for the first time in its original single version. Well, here it is… and it sounds remarkably dull and muddy when comparing it to the original Geffen records 12” single, which contained both the long and short versions of the song. But for most people, this inclusion will be a relief. The two 12” mixes of the album singles are both enjoyable alternate versions. Severin had been posting his dislike of most of the band’s extended versions so there was concern they may not be included. It’s unfortunate that the volume on these mixes have been brickwalled to the extreme. The attached screenshot is of 'The Passenger' 12" mix to illustrate this.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 9, 2015 2:31 PM BST


Drumming The Beating Heart
Drumming The Beating Heart
Price: £16.56

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two sides of an extremely individual and unique band, 21 Oct. 2014
I first discovered Eyeless in Gaza after reading about them in the early 90’s. I had become very discontent with the direction of music at this time so I started researching lesser known artists of the 80’s, and the description of the band intrigued me. My first exposure was purchasing a sealed LP of their 1982 release Drumming the Beating Heart.

This was a good album to start with. The opening track, ‘Transience Blues’, seems to be a quintessential track to represent what the duo were doing at the time. The song is built around solid layers of long keyboard notes mixed with bass guitar and Martyn Bates’ very distinctive vocals. Ending with this album, Martyn Bates sang in an extremely expressive manner, which included shouting, growling, and all sorts of vocal acrobatics. On first listen it seems a little shocking at times, but adds to the tension of the music. ‘Ill-Wind Blows’ has a sort of church-like keyboard with some improvised percussive sounds in the background. ‘One By One’ is a huge favorite of mine, containing another Eyeless trademark of one-handed snare and sticks played by Pete Becker, who often multi-tasked his instruments. Eyeless in Gaza can often have a very comforting melancholy to their music, and this song is one of their best. ‘Picture the Day’ takes the vocals to the extreme. The song is less than two minutes long but when it ends it feels like someone kicked you in the face, though in the best possible way. You have to wonder how Martyn Bates appeared in the studio when recording a song with such… anger?? I could see him walking out of the room and flipping a table after each take.

What was side 2 of the LP opens with a more upbeat song called ‘Two’, which is the closest to a pop song Eyeless would come at this time. The single and video from the album, ‘Veil Like Calm’, is fairly brief, revolving around an ominous bass keyboard and other layers of sound mixed with a repetitive echoed drum. The lyrics of Eyeless can often come across as deeply poetic, and maybe even a bit pretentious. I find myself often singing along with words strung together in a way that makes no sense to me, though I still enjoy it. ‘Throw a Shadow’ sounds like some sort of demented stop/start circus music with sticks, while ‘Pencil Sketch’ is another upbeat number that puts Martyn Bates’ guitar work in the forefront.

The CD releases of Drumming the Beating Heart append the band’s album Pale Hands I Loved So Well, though not necessarily to its benefit. Pale Hands is a largely improvisational instrumental album, and I never really cared for this side of Eyeless’ music. It often sounds like a bunch of aimless clanging around which at best can be listenable. A couple of exceptions to this format exist on the album, and the beautiful ‘Light Sliding’ has a full set of lyrics and a wonderful vocal performance. The brief ‘To Ellen’ is a brilliantly haunting keyboard and voice piece that’s heart-wrenching and stunning.

The original 2 on 1 CD released in the mid-90’s was a terrible disappointment. It was poorly remastered from a vinyl LP and was painful to listen to. Plus, one track had been prematurely faded out. Thankfully, I worked with Cherry Red Records in 2008 and remastered several of the band’s albums, and even one of Martyn Bates’ solo albums. The band was very pleased with the upgrade in sound and the reinstatement in full of the previously edited album track, ‘Before You Go’. Cherry Red recently re-released the early Eyeless albums yet again in a box set format, though through some oversight used the poor quality original CD mastering. So if you are looking to enjoy Drumming The Beating Heart as it was meant to be heard, be sure you purchase the one advertised on the packaging as the “Remastered 2008”.

As of 2014, Eyeless in Gaza continue to release albums. Each is a combination of their unique approach to song writing, both in traditional songs or improvised pieces. Though each album still has some great material, mixing in the improvised songs makes each album sound a bit disjointed.


The Fine Art of Surfacing
The Fine Art of Surfacing
Price: £7.56

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Rats' best album - Some of the worst remastering in history, seriously, 21 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is likely The Rats’ best known album, at least here in the U.S., and it is actually their best album. The Boomtown Rats started as more or less a pretty standard rock band on their first album, then got touches of Punk and New Wave with their second, along with horrific traces of Bruce Springsteen. By this, their 1979 third album, they seemed to fully embrace New Wave. The one thing consistent about all of the Rats albums is that the least appealing aspect is Geldof’s voice. He sounds comparable to Elvis Costello, whose voice has always been grating to me. But the thing that partially redeems The Boomtown Rats is the music on some of the better albums.

The Fine Art of Surfacing contains The Rats’ best known song, ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’, which is a strangely catchy piano-based song about a young girl who goes on a shooting spree. It took decades for the song to grow on me, but I can now appreciate it. The follow up single, ‘Diamond Smiles’, was not as much of a hit, despite being a more traditional song, musically, though was another with dark lyrics, this time about a suicide. The next single, ‘Someone’s Looking at You’, was a bigger hit and more of a catchy New Wave song. Some of the better album tracks get pretty quirky, which is part of their lasting appeal. Songs such as ‘Wind Chill Factor (Minus Zero)’, ‘Nothing Happened Today’ and ‘Having My Picture Taken’ are among my favorites of the band.

The bonus tracks on the entire reissues series, originally released in 2005, are very selectively chosen and far from complete. This reissue disregards the worthy B side of Mondays, which is titled ‘It’s All The Rage’, and instead includes a B side from their previous album as well as a non-essential live track. The sound quality on the entire reissue series is TERRIBLE!! All of the albums are among the worst remastering I’ve ever heard. All have been blown so loud that virtually all of the original dynamic range has been destroyed, resulting in an album that’s basically screaming at your from start to finish, which produces what’s known as “ear fatigue”, and can often cause a splitting headache. Nearly 10 years on, I have found only a few other reissues that approach this sort of head-splittingly loud and painful remastering. Though it says that Geldof oversaw the reissue, I can only assume he was oblivious to the destruction that had been done to his music or he condoned the massive volume out of sheer ignorance. Personally, I have stuck with the original CD’s of all of the albums, minus the two that hadn’t been on CD before. For those, I find the vinyl a much more enjoyable listening experience. The entire catalog should be revisited and remastered, rather than repackaging the same poorly remastered songs for endlessly redundant compilation albums.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 27, 2016 7:47 PM GMT


Whammy!
Whammy!
Offered by trec002
Price: £6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Come here you little Butterbean, you., 17 Sept. 2014
This review is from: Whammy! (Audio CD)
Whammy! moves The B-52's more into the electronic sound that started with Mesopotamia, though now goes further with the use of a drum machine rather than Keith's live drums. The classic B-52's sound remains, though the material seems to run low by the end of the album. `Legal Tender' was a great single, and the band's first real music video. Very fun and catchy with the girls singing together. `Whammy Kiss' is one of Fred's shining moments with the girls providing some great background to this frantic classic. `Song for a Future Generation' was a great music video featuring vocals from all 5 band members. The only drawback is that the end of the song goes on a bit too long. And the crown of the B-52's recorded catalog has to be the Fred Schneider showcase that is `Butterbean'. Only the B-52's wrote zany songs about food, and this one has a tremendous synthesized hook. I can't express how much I love this crazy song! "Everybody likes butterbean!" The second half of the album starts to lose momentum. Though `Trism' and `Big Bird' are good songs, `Queen of Las Vegas' goes nowhere and the quirky `Work That Skirt' is instrumental. The original vinyl version of the LP had a Yoko Ono cover called `Don't Worry', though I guess Yoko had a problem with it and it was removed from subsequent pressings. I had the vinyl and I can say that you aren't missing anything. It was little more than the title repeated over and over in quirky ways. The song was replaced with the single B side `Moon 83'. This is more or less an electronic instrumental with some lyrics from `There's A Moon in the Sky' from their first album.

Whammy! may come across as a little rushed and perhaps incomplete, but it is still an essential album. There are far too many great songs in the first half of the album to really complain about it. I would love to see a new CD remaster of this album because I bought my copy in 1989, and some of the tracks that have appeared on compilations sound noticeably improved. In fact, I think it's time for a full scale reissue program.


Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Price: £9.13

5.0 out of 5 stars Hey, you know what I feel like doing? I feel like making a cake., 16 Sept. 2014
This review is from: Mesopotamia (Audio CD)
I guess Mesopotamia can be referred to and a mini LP or and EP since it only has 6 songs. I guess some people found the transition to a more electronic sound a bit off-putting, though I think it works perfectly and I love all 6 songs. `Loveland' is a great Cindy Wilson song that's loads of fun with Cindy's zany vocalizations. `Deep Sleep' is definitely a new sound for the band, moody with an almost Middle Eastern feel sung beautifully by Kate Pierson. The title track is classic B-52's featuring all 3 vocalist with a dance floor ready sound and some fun funky guitar work that was still very definitively Ricky Wilson. Probably one of my all-time favorite songs is `Cake'. This one is hilarious and loads of fun. It's literally was you would expect by the title, the girls singing about making a cake, including a middle section in which they ponder to each other about what cake to make: Pineapple upside down cake, Chocolate devil's food cake, or "how about a Angel cake. Mmm, mmm. You got some Cinnamon? Yeah, sure. Sugar? Yeah, uh-huh, I swear." This would have been the greatest music video ever! `Throw That Beat in the Garbage Can' is all about Fred. I guess the band actually performed this song on a soap opera at the time. Anyone got it on video? The album closes with the fun Cindy song `Nip it in the Bud'.

It's rumored that the recording sessions for Mesopotamia were wrought with conflict, though you could never tell from the results. There were a few outtakes from the recording sessions, though only one has turned up on an official compilation. I would love to hear the others, especially the original version of `Butterbean', an all-time favorite of mine. Mesopotamia has also been released in a variety of different versions. The U.S. vinyl version had all of the original mixes, though a UK vinyl pressing had very remixed and extended versions of 3 of the songs. The original 6 tracks were remixed in 1990 and released on CD as a 2 on 1 with their 1981 Party Mix album, which contained 6 songs remixed from the first two albums. Though some scoffed at the idea of the remixing for CD, I'm actually fonder of the remix because it adds more punch to the songs and makes the originally released recording, which is on this standalone CD, almost sound like an early rough mix. But whatever version you get, you will have a great collection of classic and definitive B-52's music.


Séance
Séance
Price: £16.23

5.0 out of 5 stars Psychedelic and Gothic, the best album by The Church., 13 Sept. 2014
This review is from: Séance (Audio CD)
Séance is my favorite album by The Church, though I guess some fans find it difficult. There’s a definite lack of the Pop side the band had shown on their first two albums, and it’s been replaced with a more Gothic tone, though still definitively The Church. They increased their use of keyboards but didn’t sacrifice excellent guitar work. The single ‘Electric Lash’ is among my all-time favorites. It has enough of a catchy chorus that it did make an impact in some countries. Although, the single ‘It’s No Reason’ is just a little too bland. ‘One Day’ is another personal top of the list, and perhaps the closest to an upbeat Pop song on the album with some excellent New Wave drumming. ‘Travel By Thought’ is a tremendous nightmare of schizophrenic drumming and eerie vocal echoes, and I love it. ‘Electric’ is the closest thing to one of the epic tracks The Church love to do, though this one stays pretty consistent throughout.

The CD contains two bonus tracks, which were single B sides. Both ‘Someone Special’ and ‘Autumn Soon’ are just as good as the best songs on the album, and are welcome additions. The CD remastering was sourced from the over-loud 2002 remasters from Australia, so this is little more than a single CD repackaging minus the videos, which are not easy to play anymore anyway because the technology is long out of date.


The Blurred Crusade
The Blurred Crusade

4.0 out of 5 stars A typical 2nd album, not as good as the first., 13 Sept. 2014
This review is from: The Blurred Crusade (Audio CD)
The 2nd album by The Church is very good, though not as memorable as their debut album, Of Skins and Heart. It does open with two excellent singles though. ‘Almost with you’ contains what was a very signature sound for the band around this time; a wash of very melodic guitar work and a catchy, almost Pop chorus. The song had “Hit” written all over it but remained more of a cult treasure. The follow up single, ‘When You Were Mine’, was equally as good, though more of a Rock than Pop song. But starting with track 3 the memorable hooks start becoming less. There are some highly melodic numbers such as ‘An Interlude’ and ‘Secret Corners’ but they almost become background music. Things pick up briefly for the excellent ‘A Fire Burns’ before another lull. Thankfully, we get another of the epic length, multi-part classics in the form of ‘You Took’ before closing with the pleasant enough ‘Don’t Look Back’.

The CD contains two bonus tracks, which are the B sides of the album’s singles. ‘Life Speeds Up’ is yet another of the multi-part epic length songs, and one of my favorites. ‘The Golden Dawn’ is pretty forgettable. The remastering on the CD is sourced from the 2002 Australian reissue, so it’s very loud and compressed. It would be great if someone could afford to go back to the original tapes and do it correctly.


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