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Brit Boy (England)

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Broken English : Strange Weather
Broken English : Strange Weather

5.0 out of 5 stars Two great albums - both very different, 19 Oct. 2016
Marianne Faithfull is my favourite female artist - period, she is responsible for some of the most important music of my life. This two disc combo features a pair of her best-loved albums, 'Broken English' (1979), and 'Strange Weather' (1987), both of which were recorded for the Island label, of which this CD is also on.

Faithfull has recorded a stack of excellent albums (and one or two of only slightly lesser quality) since the 1960s, but when she referred to her 'comeback' album 'Broken English' as ''the masterpiece'', I doubt that many people will disagree with her. If you only own one of her studio albums, you could do considerably worse than this.

Many music lovers had given up on Marianne long before 1979. She had been a hit-making folk-pop singer with beautiful good looks and an angelic singing voice, who had quickly become a wash-up junkie. All the years of heavy drinking, smoking and drug taking had taken their toll on her voice, but this was to come as a great advantage. Her voice was now very different, but it was far stronger, dirtier, worldlier, and she was now able to express words of anger so brilliantly in the songs of this remarkable album, which won her masses of critical acclaim, and a minor hit single in the UK.

The hit was 'The Ballad of Lucy Jordon', the story of a middle-aged woman's mental breakdown, and a cover of a country-isque song which Dr Hook had recorded first, and Marianne's version, very different, and more dramatic to Hook's gave the sad saga for Lucy the treatment it deserved, and is simply haunting. It has become one of her most famous songs, as indeed has the furious title track, and her sneering cover of John Lennon's anthem 'Working Class Hero', which is sang as though she lived through it personally. Every song here stands out in it's own right, because there are simply no fillers, and I've always adored the outrageous 'Why'd Ya Do It', which sees Marianne playing a bitter harpy who is delivering a fierce, graphic rant to her husband's infidelities, with lyrics far to rude for the radio.

People must have got one hell of shock when Marianne released this album, especially fans of her early 'clean' pop and folk influenced music, it was virtually like hearing the work of a completely different artist. This is not music you will want too listen to if you're feeling depressed, but if you're on your way up, or recovering after a row or something, play it loud. Marianne expressed all of her fury and rage on this, and the result is one very raw and edgy record.

With 'Strange Weather', once hailed by Blur's bass player Alex James as his favourite album, I personally regard it as the perfect record to listen to whilst you're stuck inside your house on a rainy day. If you're looking for music to make you feel happy and lift you're spirits, you might want to look past this one, although, surprisingly, I do tend to personally find that many of the tunes on here comfort and almost make me feel safe. Having said that, I can imagine some people finding this music very useful for one thing (and indeed, a critic once said this at the same), to slit their wrists to.

What we have here is a wonderfully dark album, influenced by blues and jazz, and filled with hauntingly beautiful, but largely very depressing songs, which is all the more part of it's appeal. This 1987 release is a fan favourite, and many consider it to be the legendary Marianne's finest work to date. The lady had given up drugs completely by the time this was released, and she was still under the influence of such when she recorded her comeback record 'Broken English' and onwards, so this was the first drug-free album from her in a very long time.

The Rolling Stones' penned 'As Tears Go By', Marianne's debut pop hit from 1964, is given a dramatic re-working here. If you are very familiar with the original recording, then you'll be amazed once you hear this perfect re-recording. This pop standard is given the full torch ballad treatment, with Marianne's voice now deliciously deep and cracked as a result of her addictions. To compare the two recordings would be like comparing night and day, but listening to this standout track like it sounds here, makes me believe that this is how these gem should have always been recorded all along. If you're looking for the definitive version, you've got it right here.

Other magic moments include the folksy 'Sign of Judgement', her exquisite studio rendition of the Al Dubin/Harry Warren written 'Boulevard Of Broken Dreams', the brilliant title track, and 'I'll Keep It With Mine', penned by a singer who Marianne has a long history of recording his songs, the great Bob Dylan.

Lushly produced by Hal Willner, who went into produce Marianne's 'Easy Come, Easy Go' (2009) covers album, and also worked as a co-producer on 'Before the Poison' (2005), 'Stormy Monday' was Marianne's last record of the 1980s, a decade which had been very good to her. Like I wrote earlier, I don't think this is an album for everyone, or indeed the common listener, so I'd advise that you try before you buy. Personally, I will never be parted from this dark, and engaging masterpiece.

Here then, we have two great albums full of powerful, meaningful songs, but both of them are very different in their styles. This might be a problem for some people, but to me, it just shows what a truly versatile lady she really is, and the one thing that remains the same on each of them, is the pain, the passion, and the sincerity which flows from that haunting voice.

Price: £10.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Before the Countdown - Europe were an overlooked heavy metal band, 18 Oct. 2016
This review is from: Europe (Audio CD)
Before Europe turned very commercial in the mid 1980s with pop/rock anthems like 'Rock The Night' and of course 'The Final Countdown', songs that would appeal to the general public, many of whom wouldn't usually buy a classic rock album, Swedish band Europe had already released two very under looked LPs. The self entitled debut was very different to the style that they would become so successful with, and was actually a half decent metal record. In fact, the only thing that 'Europe' has in common with 'Countdown', is the band's logo at the top and nice artwork.

I would say that it remains Europe's least produced album, and has become something of a lost classic, but that's not to say that you should ignore it. The album shows a young band with plenty of potential, there are no big power ballads or indeed songs that would go down a storm at parties, just pure, though perhaps in need of some tweaking, metal.

With great vocals from Joey Tempist, John Norum on top form with the guitar, and some of these more aggressive sounding tracks hold up remarkably well for an album released in 1983. The opening track 'In The Future To Come' is impressive, and 'The King Will Return' should have become their first anthem.

I really do rate this as a very strong debut, and their second album 'Wings Of Tomorrow' proved to be better still. It's a shame that Europe would somewhat ruin their reputation with the, well, undeniably cheesy 'The Final Countdown', as they were, and are so much more than that. On their latest releases they have returned to a harder sound, but nothing that comes close to their 'metal' routes. If your mates still ridicule the band and their almost frozen in time 1986/7 image, play this album, don't even name the artist, and I'm sure they'll be surprised.

Playlist: The Very Best of Europe
Playlist: The Very Best of Europe
Price: £9.64

5.0 out of 5 stars Captures the band's first highlights, 18 Oct. 2016
Europe, the heavy metal band from Sweden, have only fairly recently earned their much due respect since their 2004 comeback album 'Start from the Dark', and the many which have followed. However, they were often ridiculed for years by a lot of rock and metal fans for the played-to-death number one hit 'The Final Countdown', which remains their biggest hit. They had others of course, notably the emotional power-ballad 'Carrie', and the energetic, ever-so-cheesy 'Rock the Night', but that was all when they were at their most commercial peak in 1986. Predictably, it's those three songs which open up this 2009 compilation.

Prior to those hits, the band had actually released two less successful albums, which had a much harder sound. Their self-entitled 1983 debut included the tracks 'In The Future To Come' and 'Seven Doors Hotel', and second record had 'Stormwind', 'Open Your Heart' (which they later re-recorded), 'Scream of Anger', and the standout ballad 'Dreamer'. All six of these songs are included on this 14 track CD, with 'Cherokee', another highlight on 'The Final Countdown', and a fan favourite, 'Superstitious' and 'Let the Good Times Rock' from the successful, superior follow-up 'Out of This World', and the stunning title track and 'I'll Cry For You', from what would be the band's last album for over ten years, and my personal favourite, 1991's 'Prisoners in Paradise'.

This is a well chosen collection, and although all of these songs (and more) appear on a much earlier, official compilation: 1982-2000, this is still a neat package of the four-piece band's first highlights before their big comeback. It serves as a good introduction, and ike all the entries in the 'Playlist' series, it has the rather cute novelty factor of the eco-friendly cardboard packaging, made to look like a real playlist, the kind you can make yourself on iTunes, with the track's running times, the title of the original album in which the recording came from, and the order of the tracks. all presented on the back of it.

Track Listing

1. The Final Countdown
2. Rock The Night
3. Carrie
4. In The Future To Come
5. Seven Doors Hotel
6. Stormwind
7. Open Your Heart
8. Scream Of Anger
9. Dreamer
10. Cherokee
11. Superstitious
12. Let The Good Times Rock
13. I'll Cry For You
14. Prisoners In Paradise

Vagabond Ways/Kissin' Time
Vagabond Ways/Kissin' Time

5.0 out of 5 stars Marianne the amazing!, 16 Oct. 2016
This two CD combo packages together two of Marianne Faithfull's latter-day studio albums, 'Vagabond Ways' (1999), and the consecutively released Kissin' Time (2002).

I honestly can't understand how Marianne, with her iconic status can allude chart success in Britain time and time again. Perhaps it's because people in her homeland still associate her with her 'past' and problems, and maybe that has in some way overshadowed her expectational talents, but oh I hope not. Either way, she's worshipped in other parts of the world, and people in places who appreciate a legend when they see and hear one.

'Vagabond Ways' is a solid five release, a straight-forward rock album, and her final release of the nineties. Though it given grace the top 75 in the UK charts, A deeply emotional roller-coaster of a record, this is a masterpiece, and would serve a newbie well, as a good introduction to her music. Each song, each of which flows beautifully together, one after the other, is a gem, and all of them are wrapped up in the most lush production.

A melancholic and addictive record that has many moments which must be semi-autobiographical to Marianne. The overall tone of it all is very dark, which is a mood that she has always done so very well. The songs, five of which she co-wrote herself, are mostly very intriguing, delivered in that incredibly emotional, cracked, and expressive voice of hers.

Some of the tunes on here are reminiscent of those on her first real masterpiece 'Broken English' (1979), which she has been rarely able to better despite the stacks of great albums that have followed, like the stunning title track, 'File It Under Fun From The Past', 'Marathon Kiss' (which has Emmylou Harris on backup), and 'Incarceration of a Flower Child', a song written with by Pink Floyd's Roger Waters that tells the story of a poignant morning after.

Speaking of good song writing, Elton John and Bernie Taupin wrote the yearning 'For Wanting You', and Marianne delivers a superb rendition of the darkly humorous, Leonard Cohen penned 'Tower of Song'. The track here which I play the most out of the ten is 'Great Expectations', a simple song, but really quite beautiful and dreamlike. Marianne has said that it's "the story of my life", but it really is one that I can relate to very strongly myself.

In 2002, Marianne gave us another great album, her 16th solo effort, which will be particularly of interest to lovers of the Britpop generation. By enlisting the help of modern talents such as Beck, Blur, Pulp, and Jarvis Cocker (all regarded now as musical icons of the '90s), she was able to breathe new life into her music, whilst still maintaining a constant retro vibe. There was still is a lot of life in this grand dame, who was venturing into very unfamiliar territory here.

Electric rock music was quite unlike anything she had ever done before, and although I doubt that 'Kissin Time' will never be considered her finest hour (and if I'm honest, I personally don't think that it deserves to be), this is Marianne Faithfull we're talking about, and the woman just doesn't make bad records. This one is worthy of four stars for it's variety and 'funness' alone. It's probably the 'coolest', and easily assessable thing she's ever done as a whole.

I adore Damon Albarn, and the idea of my favourite band Blur and favourite female singer working together on a track was a dream, the result, 'Kissin Time' is a very 'Damon' song, and although their two unique voices blend together to make a perfect combination, it isn't the best track. The simplistic 'Like Being Born', featuring Beck and Jon Brion, is just the type of beautiful, story-telling tune she would have sang in her folky 1960s heyday, and another highpoint is 'I'm On Fire', a wonderfully laid-back pop song with a 1980s vibe which which was written by The Smashing Pumpkins' lead singer Billy Corrigan, who contributes on the backing vocals. Love & Money' is a very catchy tune, and is followed by the dramatic 'Nobody's Fault'.

I have to also single out the very autobiographical 'Sliding Through Life On Charm' which she wrote with Joe Cocker, and is loaded with irony, and some wonderfully amusing obscenities, reminiscent of 'Why'd Ya Do It', a highlight on 'Broken English', and also has a reference to her later song 'Falling From Grace'. I really like it.

Now, I should say that the single 'Sex With Strangers' is really rather edgy and 'hip', but with it's annoying beat and repetitive lyrics, it starts to grate after, oh, the first listening. This is one of the few songs of Marianne's, which she co-wrote with Beck, that I really don't care a great deal for, but I do adore the track's wonderful music video, which starred model Kate Moss, and has priceless cameo from Blur's bassist, and her close friend Alex James dressed in drag at the beginning. Now that is well worth seeing!

It still troubles me that the likes of young Britney Spears were storming the UK charts at the same time that this legend was being largely ignored, still enough know Marianne Faithfull's chart days in Britain were well behind her, she was still making amazing, critically-acclaimed rock music that would put the cheesy 'pop singers' to shame. She obviously had much more life experience, and boy does it shows in the music and world weary voice.

All that's left to say is thank you Marianne for being so open about your past, and turning heartbreak into singing/song writing success. These two albums really are wonderful, and I strongly recommend that you listen to them, especially if you think her career ended in the '60s.

Raging Fire
Raging Fire
Price: £0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars What a song!, 12 Oct. 2016
This review is from: Raging Fire (MP3 Download)
A very good friend (a fellow male) of mine recently introduced me to this guitar-driven track, which he said reminded him of myself. The person in question has helped me a great deal, and in return, I have tried to do the same. It is very rare for me to rate a single track five stars on Amazon, but with 'Raging Fire', I have got to make a rare exception.

Co-written, and performed entirely by Phillip LaDon Phillips Jr. who, in 2011, won the eleventh season of US TV's 'American Idol', 'Raging Fire' is an instantly catchy pop song with a folk-like flavour about the power of love. Just listening to it, makes me feel comforted, and think about my special friend. It isn't a mushy love record with the usual, done-to-death lyrics, but a track which really speaks volume about how powerful the love between two people, be it sexual (and in our case, it most certainly is not), or otherwise, and how much we can achieve and overcome with the other person there. For me, true friendship (love) never dies, and this track evokes those feelings. The man himself is a real talent, with a great country-rock voice.

'Raging Fire', the lead single from Philip Phillips' third studio album 'Behind the Light', released two years ago, will always be a special song for me for personal reasons, and it should have been a much bigger hit, both in the US, and Britain. If you're ever thought the world of somebody, then you'll able to really identify with these lyrics.

The Wraith Soundtrack (Digitally Remastered European Reissue) Bonus Track
The Wraith Soundtrack (Digitally Remastered European Reissue) Bonus Track

4.0 out of 5 stars Big hits from '80s rock stars, 9 Oct. 2016
I have yet to see the American 1986 film 'The Wraith', but it's soundtrack is an excellent listen for anyone who enjoys mainstream, radio-friendly rock music from the 1980s. The line-up is impressive, and I've learned that many of the songs which were used in the film was already big hits, but on this CD you'll find all the tracks that were recorded especially for the movie.

Particularly to my taste is the Bonnie Tyler song 'A Matter of the Heart', which would have made a good single, and Ozzy Osbourne's 'Secret Loser', which provided one of the highlights on his studio album released in that same year, 'The Ultimate Sin'.

Long since deleted, and now hard to find and pricey, 'The Wrath' is a great soundtrack made up of a variety of big talent.

Here's the track listing ...

1. Tim Feehan - Where's The Fire
2. Honeymoon Suite - Those Were The Days
3. Stan Bush - Hearts Vs. Heads
4. LaMarca - Hold On Blue Eyes
5. Jill Michaels - Young Love, Hot Love
6. Ozzy Osbourne - Secret Loser
7. Lion - Never Surrender
8. James House - Bad Mistake
9. Ian Hunter - Wake Up Call
10. Bonnie Tyler - Matter Of The Heart

Paolo Nutini 102 Success Facts - Everything You Need to Know about Paolo Nutini
Paolo Nutini 102 Success Facts - Everything You Need to Know about Paolo Nutini
by Cynthia Garrison
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.65

1.0 out of 5 stars Do not entertain buying this rubbish, 9 Oct. 2016
I am a big fan of Paolo Nutini, an excellent singer-songwriter and musician, but alas, this book (if you can call it that) is nothing more than just a quick money spinner and con.

Someone called Cynthia Garrison clearly thought it would be a nice idea to copy and paste useless facts from Wikipedia, splash a good picture of Paolo on it's front cover, pass it off until the subtitled of 'Everything you need to know about Paolo Nutini', and sell it at a ridiculously high price. Nice easy money if you get it, but don't be conned in purchasing the so-called '102 Success Facts', which was part of a series of worthless self-publishing scams, very similar to the 'The {Insert Name]' Handbook', where full Wikipedia pages were printed off and bound. Actors Ryan Gosling and Ewan McGregor, as well as a host of other high-profile celebrities, received this rubbish treatment a few years back.

It's not like the facts in this one are even remotely interesting or valuable, just stats of various festivals and events where Paolo has played over the years, listing off the other artists who were also involved. There's no editing, no new words from Garrison to carry it all together, and above all, there's no point to it. If this sounds like you're thing though, then by all means go for it.

My advice is to not be fooled into buying this rubbish, and purchase instead the first (and only) proper Paolo Nutini biography, Paolo Nutini:Coming Up Easy by Colin MacFarlan, where you'll learn so much more.

Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great fourth album, with plenty of variety, 9 Oct. 2016
This review is from: Trick (Audio CD)
After 2014's 'Carry On the Grudge', the third studio album from singer-songwriter Jamie Treays which I actually regarded as his best so far, I was left initially feeling a little underwhelmed by this year's fourth album, so held off on holding judgement with a review until I given it a fair trail and played it over a few times. I'm glad that I did, because 'Trick' really has grown on me.

There are elements on here from all of this hugely talented artist's past three records, and his homage to great British bands like Blur and The Clash are definitely in place, especially the latter (where comparisons were inevitable), but he continues to evolve, and each release offer something new. This one was co-produced by James Dring, who Mr. T has enlisted the help of since the start of his recording career, as well as working on more recent releases by the Gorillaz, and Blur.

The memorable, bombastic, and punk-flavoured 'Tinfoil Boy', which should excite fans of Jamie's first two albums, opens things up, and from there on, the listener is treated to a musical journey of an impressively diverse list of genres, from punk to rap to dance-pop and R&B, it's an ambitious project which works extremely well.

Other stand out tracks for myself include the engaging, radio friendly single 'Power Over Men', which sounds like a lost tune from the Arctic Monkey's 2013 'AM' album, the humorous and instantly endearing 'Tescoland', the darkly themed but very catchy 'Dragon Bones', and the brooding 'Solomon Eagle'. Whereas 'Carry On the Grudge' contained lots of beautiful story-tellers which showed this amazing artist at his most hurt and vulnerable, here we have an album which mostly carries the same loud, in-you-face tunes that made his early albums 'Panic Prevention' and 'Kings and Queens' so popular with the new generation of indie rockers. He's involved and progressed, but in many ways, he's back to his routes on here.

'Trick' is a showcase of a versatile young man's amble abilities, which feels like a much bigger comeback from Jamie Treays than the last record, even though 'Carry On the Grudge' still remains my favourite so far. The CD version of this release, which deservedly returned Jamie to the top 5 in the UK charts, contains a twelve paged full colour booklet.

Ballads Of The Broken Few
Ballads Of The Broken Few
Price: £9.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasing mix of Americana and classic folk balladry, 9 Oct. 2016
I've been a fan of this marvellous troubadour for a good few years, and was naturally happy to have yet another Seth Lakeman album in my collection. The Devon born singer-songwriter's recently released eighth studio record, 'Ballad of the Broken Few' is, in many ways a typical record for him, good, balladry songs with a traditional folk sound, but now with an added flavour of Americana, which makes the album sound rather Ryan Adams-isque in parts. The all-female group Wildwood Kin provide beautiful harmonies on all but two of the tracks on this well-produced work, which might possibly mark a new direction for Seth's music in the future. If it's just the one time though, both of these new additions go well in the album's favour.

'Ballads...' opens up with the brilliant and bluesy 'The Willow Tree', which I loved from the first play, and two more tracks in we find what might possibly be one of my all-time favourite Seth Lakeman songs to date, the beautiful 'Meet Me in the Twilight'. The man is in particularly good voice throughout, sounding strong, and deep, but soothing and sincere. It's these rich vocals which take centre stage in the last two, scarcely produced, almost acapella tracks. Although 'Ballads of the Broken Few' has, like all of his work, met with positive reviews, and a brief but high placing in the British charts, it will probably only go on to heard similarly by Seth's established fan base when, in reality, he should have a much more widespread appeal.

Some of the cuts on Seth Lakeman's latest record do, admittedly, sound rather samey, but there are no fillers, there all good, lyrically sophisticated and a genuine pleasure to listen to. 'Ballads of the Broken Few' is a fine collection of songs that will uplift, inspire, and make you reflect. Thanks for the new album Seth, and I look forward to the next one.

Freedom Fields / Kitty Jay
Freedom Fields / Kitty Jay
Price: £7.78

5.0 out of 5 stars Two great albums from a contemporary/traditional folk talent, 9 Oct. 2016
With EMI's double CD set, you are able get instant access to two of the very talented Seth Lakeman's brilliant studio albums: 'Freedom Feilds' and 'Kitty Jay'. Seth is a Devon born folk singer/songwriter, whose sound will appeal to people of all ages.

Freedom Fields (2006):
Staying true to his musical routes, the songs on Seth's third album deal with traditional folk stories and legends, in this case, from his West Country home, but the music itself leans towards a more contemporary feel with the modern rhythms. The heavy fiddle and guitar playing by Seth is great, but it's the passionate and distinctive voice which he has that really makes his music most enjoyable to listen to.

My personal favourite songs are the excellent opener 'Lady Of The Sea (Hear Her Calling)', 'The Charmer', 'Childe The Hunter' and the absolute beauty of 'The White Hare', which, when collected together, are catchy, up-lifting, mystical and spiritual. Freedom Fields' was my first Seth album, and it made me an instant fan. I'd recommend this record to anyone who wishes to 'test-the-water', and you can then decide whether you wish to hear more, I did, and I ended up with a full set of prized albums.

Kitty Jay (2004):
Two years earlier, following the release of Seth's second album 'Kitty Jay', it was deservedly short-listed for the Mercury Music Prize for 2005. This is traditional folk music with a contemporary edge, and his subsequent albums, in which he repeated the winning formula, have led, not only to critically acclaim, but real chart success.

Here, on his breakthrough record, Seth recorded tunes which dealt with the usual traditional folk themes, legends and stories which were inspired by his hometown of Dartmoor. This is something that he would repeat on the albums which were to follow, and such bittersweet tales are always interesting to hear, not to mention having the ability to evoke some wonderful pictures which will circulate inside you're head if you have the creativity to let them. My personal favourites are the title track, the tragic story of a betrayal, 'Joe Lomas', and 'The Ballad Of Josie', which deals with a woman who also fell (literally) victim to a betrayal, from her recent lover.

By relying almost only on his violin, acoustic guitar, and that excellent voice of his, this is music from a real musician who knows how to write good songs. Considering the tiny budget of 500 pounds which was made to record the 'Kitty Jay' album, it's quite remarkable to have such a confident, compelling folk record, and one which, like the rest of Seth Lakeman's, will endear this timeless musical genre to new generations.

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