Learn more Shop now Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Fitbit
Profile for ssl2003 > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by ssl2003
Top Reviewer Ranking: 9,620,047
Helpful Votes: 359

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
ssl2003 (UK)

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3
pixel
Evita 2006 London Cast Recording
Evita 2006 London Cast Recording
Price: £6.95

19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost as good as being in the audience!, 1 Sept. 2006
Unfortunately, most peoples experience of Evita is the rubbish 1996 film version starring Madonna and Antonio Banderas, so the less said about that debacle the better. Evita is simply something that MUST be enjoyed in its natural environment - the theatre, but this cast recording of the new London production is the next best thing to actually being there, and is leagues ahead of the film version that came before it.

The thing that instantly hits you about this disc is the astounding quality of the music, which is crisp and rich. Also, the score has been radically overhauled and updated from the original London and Broadway productions - most notably on "Requiem for Evita" and "Buenos Aires". It is more dynamic and expressive than ever before, and is also more authentically Latin-American. Musically, this is an aural treat.

While the music is fantastic throughout, the cast is more of a mixed bag. There is little to say that hasn't already been said by other reviewers. Elena Roger's voice is totally unique, and she makes an extremely charismatic Eva. It's not what I would call a classic voice, but it has a raw, yet rich quality. In one sentence it will be silky smooth, yet in the very next it will jar through you like an electric drill. In a role like Evita this is no bad thing, and she is equal parts singer and actress, bringing real pathos to the role. However, for me, the definitive Eva is Elaine Paige (check out the Original London Cast Recording).

When I saw Evita at the Adelphi in June, to be honest I was not too impressed with Matt Rawle as Che. However, on this recording he is far more confident in the role, and brings more emotion into what he is singing. Philip Quast has a good voice, but his stage performance doesn't shine through on this recording, and he seems a bit too tame. Lorna Want is fantastic as the mistress though, and Gary Milner makes quite a good Magaldi, but he isn't as sleazy as in previous incarnations.

As everyone else has noted, this is only a highlights CD. As such, many of the songs have been cut or shortened, although there are some bemusing song choices, with songs like "Montage" being included. I would have personally taken out this song and included "Peron's Latest Flame" and "Dice Are Rolling/Eva's Sonnet", which is one of the more important numbers from the show. I would have also perhaps reinstated "A New Argentina" to its full length. That said, you do get most of the story here, which is not too hard to follow. As a highlights CD, it is brilliant, but you are left wanting more - I miss the little end bit in "Rainbow Tour" where Eva has a hissy fit, and the full version of "She Is a Diamond" where Che and the generals openly criticize Eva and Peron. Thankfully though, "Oh What a Circus" is included in its full length.

Unfortunately, the only full-length recording of the stage show in its entirety is the Premiere American Recording (which features the Original Broadway Cast), but this is expensive and hard to get hold of in the UK.

There are too many good songs to mention, and this is really something that has to be listened to from start to finish. Evita is Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's finest hour, and this new production is fantastic. Finally, the CD is very nicely packaged with a booklet containing the libretto, and another smaller booklet containing cast photos from the new production, making it that little but more special.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 10, 2012 6:20 AM BST


Back To Basics
Back To Basics
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £3.97

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Back to Basics? Hardly basic and actually quite brilliant in places!, 17 Aug. 2006
This review is from: Back To Basics (Audio CD)
Well, I've had this for a while now and have been listening to it practically non-stop. It is a 'sort-of-concept' album paying tribute to the jazz and R&B greats she idolises, and is spread over two discs.

Disc one is very contemporary, featuring pulsing and vibrant R&B with a rough hip-hop edge. However, you can very much hear the blues and soul influences Aguilera sings about in "Back In the Day". There is clever use of song samples, and the tracks are reminiscent of artists such as Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, B.B. King and even Candi Staton and Minnie Riperton. On the other hand you can hear 90's hip-hop, as well as elements of funk, Latin jazz and even jazz-fusion.
The best songs on disc one create an interesting mix of old and new, resulting in something fresh and totally different to everything else in 2006. Musically it is so-o much better than "Stripped", and practically every other recent pop album!
When I first listened to it I was disappointed, but it has really, really grown on me. There is something for everyone to enjoy. Apart from some filler ("On Our Way") and some crud ("Thank You", "F.U.S.S."), it is full of great tunes. At the moment I really like "Back In the Day", "Slow Down Baby", "Still Dirrty" and "Here to Stay", and "Understand" and "Without You" have particularly grown on me. I would have been perfectly happy if disc one had been released on its own!

Disc 2 is billed as a high concept jazz album, but feels stylistically confused. The problem is that it has been labelled as a throwback to the 20's, 30's and 40's, which, apart from a handful of songs, it isn't.
However, the naughty yet witty "Candyman", the even naughtier "Nasty Naughty Boy" and authentic blues of "I Got Trouble" do fit the throwback style Aguilera says she was after. You can hear the influences - The Andrews Sisters "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" is an obvious reference point. We then move to a suite of 4 ballads. The acoustic "Save Me From Myself", with its bare, stripped down and quiet vocals, is the most understated, and unexpected, song in the entire collection. Her voice is so pretty in this song I don't know why she doesn't sing like it more often! The other ballads showcase her huge vocals, but it feels like there are too many big songs too close together, taking us to maudlin extremes. However, "Hurt" deserves mention for its fantastic vocal performance.

Disc 1 is probably the better of the two. The second disc really doesn't gel that much with me, but it is still good. However, at two discs and 80 minutes `Back to Basics' is too long, and is really let down by its weak material. With some judicious editing into a single disc, B2B could have been absolutely fantastic and I would have given it 5 stars for sure! That said, it is still a musical highlight of the year and I definitely recommend it!


Sony PS2 Slimline Console (Black) (PS2)
Sony PS2 Slimline Console (Black) (PS2)

126 of 138 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PS2 is still going strong, 13 Aug. 2006
I got my PS2 late in its lifespan, and decided to buy it instead of an Xbox 360. In fact, I got the PS2, a memory card and 7 games and still spent £100 less than I would have done if I'd bought the X360 on its own!

So what convinced me to buy the aged console (aside from the price) when there are more technologically advanced options available? It boils down to the games. No, the graphics are not as good as on the newer consoles (but still quite impressive), but that doesn't matter. Late in its lifespan we are finally seeing some real AAA titles for the console, and with lots more to come well into 2007. Add to that an already well established library of games, and there is something for everyone to enjoy, from family friendly party games to more adult-orientated action games. As everyone knows its also plays DVDs and CDs, which saves a lot of space as I no longer have to have a separate DVD player.

The slimline PS2 is incredibly tiny, but it still does everything its bulkier predeccessor does (and it even includes a network card for online play, but I have never used this feature). Because of its size it fits quite well next to my TV and is not too intrusive. Aesthetically, you cannot fault it. It is also extremely quiet as there is no fan buzzing away, but mine has never overheated even after having it turned on for prolonged periods of time. Another bonus of the redesign is that discs are no longer tray loading, and so the lens is easier to clean, and you also don't have to worry about it coming dislodged, or the tray itself breaking.

The slimline PS2 is cheap but cheerful and has many great games available, so rather than procrastinating over whether or not to buy an X360, buy a PS2 instead!


Seinfeld: Seasons 1 - 3 [DVD] [1993]
Seinfeld: Seasons 1 - 3 [DVD] [1993]
Dvd ~ Jerry Seinfeld

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best comedy series?, 21 May 2006
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have only recently got into Seinfeld, being too young to watch it when it was first produced in the early `90's (I wouldn't have understood it, and it was shown in a graveyard slot on BBC2).

The great thing about Seinfeld, and as many, many people have noted, is it is a show about nothing, except everyday life. Rather than devising ridiculously elaborate situations and forcing the humour, as most comedies seem to do (and unfortunately rarely get right), Seinfeld instead focuses on the humour that can be found in everyday, seemingly mundane situations. Looking at the episodes here, who can't relate to the predicaments our protagonists find themselves in?

The characters are wonderfully formed. Jerry himself seems to actually take a back seat much of the time to the antics of the other characters, and is more of a commentator. George is an exaggerated neurotic, Elaine is Jerry's pushy ex-girlfriend and Kramer, his deranged neighbour. The actors all play their characters very well, and you really can't fault their comic acting skills.

Season one of the show is really only an introduction to the show, featuring only five episodes. Things only really begin to kick off in the latter half of series 2. By then, the writers are really on a roll, and this carries through to the third season, which comprises the second half of this box set.

Although Seinfeld didn't get a huge commercial following until its fourth season, the first 3 series are still extremely funny. Even today it is still leagues ahead of most comedy series, and doesn't rely on cheap devices or obscenities to be successful.

With a great variety of DVD extras, this box set is a must-buy not only for fans of Seinfeld, but for any comedy fan.


Songs for the New Depression
Songs for the New Depression

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting listen, 21 May 2006
Bette Midler produced a series of quirky albums throughout the 1970's. The strangest of those albums is undoubtedly "Songs for the New Depression", which received mixed reviews when it was released in 1976. I think the main reason it was so controversial when it was released was it was quite unlike anything else released, and was certainly a radical departure from Midler's previous 2 albums. In many ways a novelty record, yet in others, a serious musical experimentation, the album is undeniably charming. On the other hand, the contemporary production that was used threatens to overshadow Midler herself.

It is hard to pick `best songs' from the album. My favourite is "Tragedy", followed by the excellent "Shiver Me Timbers" and "Old Cape Cod". Even the disco interpretation of "Strangers in the Night" works musically. There is also a new version of "Buckets of Rain", which even features Bob Dylan. There is no one predominant style on the album, but as an earlier reviewer has noted, it is full of torch songs. Ultimately though, it does not really belong to any sort of genre, and so can be said to lack any sort of real direction.

My only major gripe with the album is the sometimes muddy production, which could have been remedied with better re-mastering. As such, the vocals seem very subdued on a few of the songs. Whilst not as bad as on "Broken Blossom", it does detract from the overall experience.

The interesting production and variety of musical styles mean that SFTND is almost a musical curio. While ultimately misjudged, it is a fun listen.


Resident Evil 4: Limited Edition (PS2)
Resident Evil 4: Limited Edition (PS2)

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must buy, 21 May 2006
I do not normally enjoy this type of game, but owing to the glittering reviews Resident Evil 4 received, I felt I would give it a go. Resident Evil 4 turns everything about the series on its head and vastly improves every aspect of it - from the graphics and sound to fundamental gameplay mechanics.

Resident Evil 4 is a BIG game. Not particularly in its length, which, at roughly 20 hours clocked time (but much longer when you take into account how often you die and have to re-start an area!) isn't too shabby, but in this scope and ambition. This is near cinematic-quality, and is certainly the most involving and thrilling game I have ever played. The games graphics are perhaps its strongest selling point, and to the untrained eye, mine included, could possibly appear to be even so -called `next-gen' in quality. The amount of detail is astounding, and everything is made up of pixels, with not a pre-rendered background in sight. Atmosphere is everything, from the dark and dingy surroundings, with fog and damp you can almost touch, to the eerie soundtrack and sound effects, including gentle breezes, harsh downpours, and even the firing of the weapon you are using. The animation is fantastic, and everything feels like it could just be real, which makes it all the more unsettling. The three main environments in Resident Evil 4 range from a village, a huge castle, and island fortress, although it is surprisingly well-varied, incorporating laboratories, mines, sewers, lakes and even lava pits.

The story is not particularly complex, but is very neatly executed, and leaves the door to a sequel wide open. Basically, you play as Leon S. Kennedy, an ex-cop and now government agent, and must rescue the President's kidnapped daughter from a church in a creepy Spanish mountain village, where the inhabitants have a murderous, possessed glint in their eye... What unfolds is a conspiracy where an evil cult lord and his insane aristocratic lackey attempt to take over the world.

The everyday enemies in RE4 are amazing, particularly the insane chain-saw wielding villagers (who favour decapitation), but the bosses are out of this world. The first boss you come across is an enormous monster living inside a lake. You must dispose of it by throwing harpoons at it before it devours you. As I said earlier, the animation is second to none. When you shoot a villager in the shins, they fall to the ground and start dragging them selves toward you. If they are carrying a weapon, and you shoot them in the hand, they will drop it. The action is fast and furious, although there are quieter areas where you can save your progress and purchase or upgrade weapons, which range from a handgun to a rocket launcher. Ammo is generally plentiful, and now you can save wherever you see a typewriter, which is a vast improvement over earlier games in the series

RE4 is essentially an action game, combining elements of FPS, stealth and puzzles, with a satisfying difficulty level. The camera is focused behind the playable character, allowing for a good range of vision, and you become rooted to the spot when you aim at an enemy, with a handy laser. This works very well, and allows for effective and accurate aiming.

Resident Evil 4 is an amazing and engrossing game with tons of replayability (I completed it three times in the space of a month!), and four difficulty levels. It is a must buy. That said, it is extremely violent, and some of it is disturbing. Definitely NOT for younger gamers.


Resident Evil 4 (PS2)
Resident Evil 4 (PS2)
Offered by SelectGames
Price: £12.79

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must buy, 21 May 2006
This review is from: Resident Evil 4 (PS2) (Video Game)
I do not normally enjoy this type of game, but owing to the glittering reviews Resident Evil 4 received, I felt I would give it a go. Resident Evil 4 turns everything about the series on its head and vastly improves every aspect of it - from the graphics and sound to fundamental gameplay mechanics.

Resident Evil 4 is a BIG game. Not particularly in its length, which, at roughly 20 hours clocked time (but much longer when you take into account how often you die and have to re-start an area!) isn't too shabby, but in this scope and ambition. This is near cinematic-quality, and is certainly the most involving and thrilling game I have ever played. The games graphics are perhaps its strongest selling point, and to the untrained eye, mine included, could possibly appear to be even so -called `next-gen' in quality. The amount of detail is astounding, and everything is made up of pixels, with not a pre-rendered background in sight. Atmosphere is everything, from the dark and dingy surroundings, with fog and damp you can almost touch, to the eerie soundtrack and sound effects, including gentle breezes, harsh downpours, and even the firing of the weapon you are using. The animation is fantastic, and everything feels like it could just be real, which makes it all the more unsettling. The three main environments in Resident Evil 4 range from a village, a huge castle, and island fortress, although it is surprisingly well-varied, incorporating laboratories, mines, sewers, lakes and even lava pits.

The story is not particularly complex, but is very neatly executed, and leaves the door to a sequel wide open. Basically, you play as Leon S. Kennedy, an ex-cop and now government agent, and must rescue the President's kidnapped daughter from a church in a creepy Spanish mountain village, where the inhabitants have a murderous, possessed glint in their eye... What unfolds is a conspiracy where an evil cult lord and his insane aristocratic lackey attempt to take over the world.

The everyday enemies in RE4 are amazing, particularly the insane chain-saw wielding villagers (who favour decapitation), but the bosses are out of this world. The first boss you come across is an enormous monster living inside a lake. You must dispose of it by throwing harpoons at it before it devours you. As I said earlier, the animation is second to none. When you shoot a villager in the shins, they fall to the ground and start dragging them selves toward you. If they are carrying a weapon, and you shoot them in the hand, they will drop it. The action is fast and furious, although there are quieter areas where you can save your progress and purchase or upgrade weapons, which range from a handgun to a rocket launcher. Ammo is generally plentiful, and now you can save wherever you see a typewriter, which is a vast improvement over earlier games in the series

RE4 is essentially an action game, combining elements of FPS, stealth and puzzles, with a satisfying difficulty level. The camera is focused behind the playable character, allowing for a good range of vision, and you become rooted to the spot when you aim at an enemy, with a handy laser. This works very well, and allows for effective and accurate aiming.

Resident Evil 4 is an amazing and engrossing game with tons of replayability (I completed it three times in the space of a month!), and four difficulty levels. It is a must buy. That said, it is extremely violent, and some of it is disturbing. Definitely NOT for younger gamers.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 16, 2009 10:08 PM GMT


Yoshi Touch & Go (Nintendo DS)
Yoshi Touch & Go (Nintendo DS)
Offered by WorldGame
Price: £36.99

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Yoshi's Touch and Go, 21 May 2006
Yoshi's Touch and Go is not really designed to be a traditional platform game, and is more like an old-fashioned arcade game. The aim of the game is to get the highest score, and the main game is basically divided into two stages. In the first stage you must guide baby Mario through the clouds to Yoshi, who is waiting on the ground. The more points you manage to gain in this stage will affect what colour Yoshi is waiting for you, which will then impact on how many points you are able to get in the second stage. In the second stage, you have to guide Yoshi across the terrain to the finish point. It is as simple as that. The twist is that Yoshi (or baby Mario) is controlled exclusively using the stylus. You can draw protective bubbles around enemies to stop them hurting you, and can also draw clouds. If you tap Yoshi, he will jump, and if you hold the stylus down, he will jump higher. If you tap the screen elsewhere, Yoshi will fire an egg. A nice touch is that if you make a mistake drawing a cloud, you can erase it by blowing into the microphone. There is quite a lot of skill involved, and the gameplay is surprisingly deep, although as with any good arcade style game, you can just pick up and play when you want without having to spend hours progressing through the game.

There are several modes, including a marathon, where you are challenged to travel as far as possible without dying, and time attack. There is also a basic multiplayer. That said, the game is essentially quite short, and there is little to keep you interested once you have gained the highest scores.


Aerial
Aerial
Offered by positivenoise
Price: £17.77

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kate Bush’s first album in twelve years, but is it any good?, 27 Feb. 2006
This review is from: Aerial (Audio CD)
In answer to the above question, yes and no… In many ways “aerial” is a success, a kick in the gut for the music industry and all the hideous manufactured acts it has launched on us throughout the past twelve years. Some of the album strikes me as being utterly brilliant, yet some of it will leave me utterly bemused, and leave me thinking ‘why?’ Can an album about mathematical formulae, washing machines and twittering birds ever make a real impact?
Many have commented on the subtlety of “Aerial”, and how it seems to lack any real punch – where is this album’s “Running up that Hill”? However, on the contrary, it is an expansive and experimental work in two parts. The first disc, “A Sea of Honey” is a broad collection of songs, ranging from the single “King of the Mountain” with its cool electronica and guitar and lush vocals, to the strange “Pi” and “Mrs. Bartolozzi”. “Pi” has perhaps received most attention - perhaps it is a little self-indulgent to recite half of the famous formula, but musically it works, telling the story of an obsessive mathematician. “Bertie” professes Bush’s love for her son, and while it is a little sickly, it is a nice song, which again, musically works, with its ‘renaissance’ style.
“Mrs. Bartolozzi”, focuses on the life of a bored housewife, and the now infamous washing machine. It has been criticized as being boring, but is that not the point? Moreover, only Kate Bush could make clothes in a washing machine seem sensual! The excellent “How to be Invisible”, which reads like a spell, really is the first discs high point, if not the best song in the collection, and can be seen as an extension of the housewife narrative. In my mind, this song has two interpretations – is the housewife invisible from her family and society, or is Bush ‘invisible’ because she chose to raise a family instead of live in the public eye like so many of our other musical artistes? This range of interpretations is what makes “Aerial” special, as it has the potential to yield surprises for years to come. Next up, “Joanni”, works as a musical extension of “How to be Invisible”, and is an interesting listen. The only song on the first disc I really could not get into was “A Coral Room” with its cries of ‘ho- ho-ho’ and ‘hee-hee-hee’.
The second disc, "A Sky of Honey", is where things really begin to kick off from a musical perspective, and is a concept piece focusing on the course of the day, from sunrise (“Prologue”) and the daylight that follows (“An Architects Dream”), to twilight (the aptly named “Sunset”) and dusk (“Somewhere in Between”), and then finally night (“Nocturne”). Here Bush is more lyrically and vocally expressive than ever before, and also musically daring in the same way as in “The Ninth Wave” side of “Hounds of Love”. Disc two really works as a whole, but is a difficult listen. You must to be in the right frame of mind to listen to and fully appreciate it. The twittering of birds and Rolf Harris may annoy some, but if you are prepared to stick with it, it is well worth it.
Finally, the packaging is very nicely presented, if not a little flimsy, with interesting artwork. However, it is difficult to get the discs and booklet out of the cardboard sleeve! I would recommend keeping the discs in CD jewel cases to avoid getting them scratched.
Overall, for all its shortcomings, “Aerial” sees the return of one of our most gifted singer-songwriters, and is well worth buying if you are looking for something different.


Bette
Bette

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bette, 27 Feb. 2006
This review is from: Bette (Audio CD)
2000’s “Bette” came hot on the heels of Bette Midler’s ill-fated (and rather poor) sitcom of the same name, although this album is not doomed to suffer the same misfortune. This album was released to general acclaim and finds Midler in more restrained, less brassy territory than her persona would suggest. As such, those drawn to this side of Midler may well be disappointed.
“Bette” is far more consistent than Midler’s previous album, “Bathhouse Betty”, which darted all over the musical landscape. Instead, “Bette” is in a stable R&B territory that could probably be classed as easy listening. The R&B elements of the album definitely hark back to her earliest albums – The “Divine Miss M” and “Bette Midler”, but without the excesses. “Bette” opens with a strong cover of “That’s How Heartaches Are Made”, which pretty much sets the tone for the whole record. The emotional centrepiece of the album, however, is the Bacharach/Costello penned “God Give Me Strength”, which showcases Midler’s impressively throaty and expressive vocals. Midler’s vocals are harsher than before – maybe this is down to age or smoking, but it does the album no harm, and can probably be said to add a further dimension to her interpretation of the songs.
“Bette” sees few diversions into more daring territory, yet is definitely not boring. It does include a fun version of “In These Shoes”, and “Moses”, as well as an upbeat “Nobody Else But You”, which was penned by Midler for her TV show.
The only real stinker on this album is the disco themed “Bless You Child”, which breaks the album up unnecessarily, but can be skipped.
Overall, a worthwhile and unchallenging listen.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3