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Gizzark Henry "dynamitekid156" (Notts)
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Bruce Springsteen - The Collection, 1973 -1984
Bruce Springsteen - The Collection, 1973 -1984
Offered by FLASH
Price: £20.43

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A perfect introduction to The Boss., 27 Feb. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Ever since the first day I saw 'Born In The USA' on my TV screen I have relentlessly avoided The Boss. Until, that is, I heard Rage Against The Machine's cover of 'The Ghost Of Tom Joad' and my curiosity was piqued. After hearing Born To Run, which is staggering, I had to get more.

Then late last year this box set emerged and as the review title says, it's the perfect introduction to The Boss. For someone who's a rookie in Springsteen's catalogue, his first seven albums in one astoundingly cheap box is a great way of learning.

On that basis, if you love The Boss, this box is a five-star - each album comes in a tiny replica of its vinyl sleeve, beautifully presented, weighty and with reproductions of the liners notes. Honestly this is as aesthetically pleasing as it is musically.

But let's get down to the music from a new fan in his early twenties - what would a new listener think of Bruce's first decade now?

The first album, Greetings From Asbury Park N.J., is an odd one. A lot of lyrics were finished by Springsteen with a rhyming dictionary rather than with any sense - 'interstellar mongrel nymphs' anyone? - and it seems heavily indebted to Dylan. But it's warm, low-key and passionate, with a number of great songs, my personal favourite being the seething 'Lost In The Flood.'

Released only months later, The Wild, The Innocent And The E-Street Shuffle is a huge leap forward and is simply stunning. Springsteen's band are passionate and straining at the edges of its cheap production, the songs are lengthy, elegaic and beautiful, with The Boss really starting to find his own sound. Plus it ends with the ten perfect minutes of 'New York City Serenade.' I'm not sure he's ever recorded a finer song. If his career had ended there, he'd have cemented his legacy with this album alone.

1975's Born To Run is simply one of the greatest albums ever made, certainly in the top ten. Springsteen has never bettered it and probably never will. It's astonishing.

1978's Darkness On The Edge Of Town isn't as good - but it's still brilliant, with a much darker, angrier edge to it. It's the sour comedown from its predecessor and is all the better for it.

1980's The River is a schizophrenic double-disc split between airless, heartbroken ballads and bizarre commercial pop songs. This means its running order makes absolutely no sense and it's difficult to love. Give it a lot of time, though, and it is worth it - there's plenty of great material on it, but the production is quintessentially 1980s and it's dated very badly.

1982's Nebraska was unlike anything Bruce had recorded to that point. Made up only of four-track recordings in Bruce's home, it's an album of stark, brutal acoustic songs from the perspective of serial killers, drifters and criminals. It's the closest he's come to bettering E Street Shuffle and Born To Run. It's the conoisseur's choice.

1984's Born In The USA, the massively misunderstood protest album that first turned me off, has dated even worse than The River, but its songs are actually better. It's defiantly stadium pop, but songs like 'Cover Me' show an anger he hadn't summoned properly since Darkness On The Edge Of Town.

Basically, Springsteen has a far from perfect catalogue, but it contains some of rock's greatest albums, and it is definitely worth exploring - and this box set is an amazing way of getting into it.


Sex and the City 2 (Two-Disc Special Edition) [DVD] [2010]
Sex and the City 2 (Two-Disc Special Edition) [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ Sarah Jessica Parker
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.16

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A slap in the face to any fan of the series., 7 Feb. 2011
I have no problem admitting that I'm a male who enjoys the Sex and the City TV series. It was ahead of its time, sharp, witty and insightful - with a whole bunch of genuine male role models like Harry Goldenblatt who unfortunately couldn't help shake the show's the reputation as being about shoes.

The first Sex and the City film was no masterpiece - it was far too long, a touch amateurish in its production and lacked a lot of the sparkling dialogue that the series did so well. But it was the ending the show needed and maybe even deserved.

Sex and the City 2, however, is a horrorshow that spits on the grave of the show that created it.

Characters sell out their actual traits for the purposes of the plot, from Samantha herself up to Aidan. The film's morals are terribly skewed. And although as the husband of a Muslim I wasn't majorly offended by much of what takes place when the film adjourns to Abu Dhabi, it was certainly near enough to the knuckle to offend enough people.

Everything that made the original show great is gone, and in its place are... shoes. A lot of shoes, and pretty dresses. Basically everything people thought the show was about and as such can now point to as proof that it was always terrible.

The well-rounded male characters like Harry and Steve are reduced in this film to having about eight lines each, I'm amazed they even earned a co-star's pay cheque.

As a sop to the males undoubtedly dragged along to watch it, a busty nanny character who tends to go braless is introduced, although that pandering is still less insulting than the marginalising of every key male character outside of Mr. Big.

The few moments which try to recapture the series' form tend to fail - a conversation between Carrie and Stanford in the movie's opening sequence might have seen witty and natural on the small screen, but in cinema it's just curiously stilted.

Stanford is another character who got outright assassinated, starting in the previous film where he for some reason was paired up with Anthony despite the two characters' hatred of each other throughout the series. Here they end up getting married, still with no explanation as to how that hate turned to love.

This film is a travesty, and any fan would be insulted by it.


In And Out Of Consciousness: Greatest Hits 1990 - 2010
In And Out Of Consciousness: Greatest Hits 1990 - 2010
Price: £7.24

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A worthwhile retrospective., 12 Jan. 2011
As good as some of Robbie Williams' albums are, and as much as he tries to strain against his 'ex-boyband' label, he is a pop star. Pop star legacies, post death or retirement, end up living or dying on the strength of their hits collection. Robbie's 2004 Greatest Hits was a sleek, crafted affair but didn't really show the full picture, and the full picture is undoubtedly what you get with In And Out Of Consciousness.

Taking in literally every single he's released in his solo career, plus his sole Take That co-write before quitting the band in the 1990s, you can't really complain about what's included. The sequencing, in an act of either madness or genius, plays in reverse, starting with Gary Barlow collaboration 'Shame' and ending with 'Everything Changes.' This means that unlike virtually any other hits collection, it peaks early on the second disc, with the more erratic material being on disc one.

Disc one, which covers the tail end of Swing When You're Winning up to the present day, is by turns wondrous and embarassing. In 2002 when he reached his high water mark, Williams started doing more or less anything he wanted however ill-advised, which led to his worst song ever ('Rudebox,' appreciable only as a joke), total gibberish over an astounding production (2009's 'Bodies') and diversions into whatever he feels like (the barking but brilliant 'Radio').

It's fitting that the singles are as patchy as the albums from whence they came. 2005's Intensive Care has disappeared from collective memory, producing the utterly disposable 'Sin Sin Sin' but also wondrous power ballad 'Advertising Space' and one of Williams' most self-deprecating lyrics on 'Make Me Pure.' There's also the last lingering threads of key collaborator Guy Chambers' influence on 'Feel,' the last truly classic song Williams ever recorded.

The second disc is where the real money is though, featuring as it does all the vintage pop singles from his first three albums. Each one churned out countless evergreen choruses. 1997's debut Life Thru A Lens featured 'Angels,' the song which made him a star and will still be on the radio long after he's gone; 1998's I've Been Expecting You was the smarter, more evolved album, boasting the cynical 'Millenium,' acerbic 'No Regrets,' heartbreaking cover 'She's The One' and this writer's personal favourite, the emotional rush of 'Strong.' 2000's Sing When You're Winning was clearly the Williams/Chambers purple patch, writing no less than five hits including 'Rock DJ' and Kylie collaboration 'Kids,' not to mention the stunning non-album single 'Eternity.'

If you only buy one Robbie Williams release, it'd be idiotic to get anything other than this one. For hardcore Robbie fans several songs here are unavailable anywhere else, including the only-collectors-need-apply first single 'Freedom.' There may be no artistic unity whatsoever - certainly not on the ragged first disc - but a lot of the finest pop music of the past twenty years is here.


Saw 1-6 Box Set [DVD]
Saw 1-6 Box Set [DVD]
Dvd ~ Karen Cliche
Offered by freedom247
Price: £32.99

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's for fans only. Obviously. SPOILER WARNINGS, 28 Nov. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Saw 1-6 Box Set [DVD] (DVD)
Let me get this out the way. The Saw films are, for the most part unadulterated torture porn and if you've seen and disliked any of the films, this box is not for you. But then you should probably know that. Were I to rate this on the public perception of 'genuine' horror films, of which I am also a fan, we're talking probably two stars out of five.

However, as a fan of the sheer relentless gore this series boasts, I give it a rating of four stars as a fan of the series, and that's what it should get from anyone who IS a fan. I'll talk about each film individually, with a spoiler warning where necessary.

The original Saw is probably the only film here that is really worth a non-fan seeing. Despite being heavily influenced by the superior film Seven, Saw I is an interesting, clever horror-thriller. It also has a brace of genuinely funny lines, a sense of humour which the series lost until around Saw VI. It's fair to say that of the six films contained herein, it's the best and the most original. - ****o

Saw II, however, runs it close. Starring Mark Wahlberg's less famous brother, in Saw II for the first time the camera is pointed directly at the series' real star, Tobin Bell. Playing the Jigsaw Killer/John Kramer, he is what holds the series together after the impressive first outing, oozing a dangerous, heroic charisma. The second best film in the series. - ***oo

(SPOILER WARNING) Saw III is where the franchise began to lose its way a bit, easily one of the more boring films in the series. As Kramer's terminal illness worsens, he is reduced from the man you couldn't look away from to a near-vegetable in a bed. All around one of the weakest. - *oooo

(SPOILER WARNING) Saw IV is a major step up from its predecessor, as the absence of Kramer makes the plot take a curious turn. Who is aiding the Jigsaw killer, and are they going to manage to stay one step ahead of the police? Plus with the FBI involved, where will the games go from here? Centring on the trials of one riot police officer, this film has easily the best ending in the series. - ***oo

Saw V is one of the weakest in the series, as despite the quality of the games the ending you can see coming for miles and miles, even before it's confirmed. It's opening trap is one of the better ones, however. - ***oo

(SPOILER WARNING) Saw VI turned everything around by redeeming itself over the three prior entries. Despite an unwelcome preachy health-care overtone the traps are some of the best so far. Also, two closing scenes find Jigsaw's replacement asserting himself is a brilliant scene establishing him as a lethal, dangerous presence. - ***oo

Where the series flourishes is in the solidity of its casting and writing. Despite being incredibly implausible, it's not exactly impossible. Plus, actors who starred in previous films often return to shoot new footage for mere cameo appearances. Loose ends are tied up, returns are made, twists are usually insane but entertaining - it all mounts up to make for a quality box set. It even has a slot for you to put the Saw VII DVD when that comes out.

Where the series falls down slightly is in lacking the bonus features of the original DVDs. This basically amounts to the first disc and included extras of all the other Saw editions, meaning a number of great extras - like the puppet shows on the first edition's DVD - go missing. But extras aren't for everyone and if all you're after is nine hours of disgusting gore, this is the box for you.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 4, 2011 5:36 PM GMT


Around The Sun (Int'l Jewelcase)
Around The Sun (Int'l Jewelcase)
Price: £8.48

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Oh dear., 25 Oct. 2010
Adrift in a mediocre wilderness since the departure of founding member Bill Berry, REM had already churned out the fussy, experimental but underrated Up and the even more overlooked but far superior Reveal. Then in 2004 came their nadir - Around The Sun, the absolute worst REM have ever been.

Up had its moments but didn't sound remotely like the band they used to be. Reveal, by comparison, had more of a 'classic' REM sound, recalling Automatic For The People but with more synthesisers. Around The Sun, unfortunately, takes a step back from both of those. It's not experimental, it's not attempting to make a name for them post-Berry, and it's not augmenting their classic sound. It's just ripping themselves off.

Things start well enough with the wonderful 'Leaving New York.' A glorious, heart-wrenching ballad with the immortal mantra 'it's easier to leave than to be left behind,' it could easily have slotted in on Automatic or its predecessor Out Of Time. But from there we have rehash after rehash of those two albums, including a guest rap by Q-Tip which may as well have been called 'Radio Song Part II.'

The songs here are simply anonymous, acoustic grumbles that suffer from the same wheel-spinning structures that occasionally marred Reveal. There are two notable moments where things pick up - the baffling 'Wanderlust' on which REM turn into a major-key piano pop band to remarkably convincing effect, and the closing title track which is nowhere near as good as 'Leaving New York' but is at least worth listening to.

The joy of a band with as rich a catalogue as REM is finding the diamonds in the rough - this is definitely the roughest they ever were, with the fewest diamonds. But those diamonds still shine, and we all know that their next step was the brilliant album Accelerate - so we forgive you for now, guys.


The Who By Numbers
The Who By Numbers
Price: £5.75

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of their forgotten good ones, 24 Sept. 2010
This review is from: The Who By Numbers (Audio CD)
The Who's classic albums are so skycraping in their spectacle that it's often easy to forget the other peaks in their catalogue, of which The Who By Numbers is one.

The Who By Numbers is not perfect, not a classic, not as good as Tommy - there are so many things it isn't, but what it is is unique in The Who's catalogue. Drunk, tired, lonely and confused, Pete Townshend wrote his most personal songs to date and then handed them to three of rock's all-time greats to try and make a Who record out of them.

In truth, they didn't really manage - the trademark Who sound is not too much in evidence here and some of the songs sound like something else entirely. For fans who just want the hits, you have the bluesy 'Squeeze Box,' easily the most boring song here, or 'However Much I Booze,' which is just as easily the most interesting and personal to Townshend. With typical clattering drums from Keith Moon thrown in, you have an all-time classic Who song. Also good is 'Dreaming From The Waist,' seemingly constructed from different elements of their previous three albums all rolled into one tune.

The darker recesses of the album hold some truly fascinating work, however. 'Success Story' is a dark, narcotic John Entwistle composition about the less glamorous side of fame. 'They Are All In Love,' a very early homage to what would eventualy be the burgeoning punk scene, is a waltz-time piano ballad that is unique in their catalogue. Perhaps most out of character of all is the Townshend-sung 'Blue, Red, And Gray,' a truly lovely, wistful ukulele tune with only Entwistle's horns for comfort.

With Roger Daltrey largely pushed into the background as the album is dominated by Townshend's personality and problems, the album is not really a Who record in the traditional sense. But take it for what it is and there is a great deal to admire and plenty to love too.


Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
Offered by b68solutions
Price: £4.69

5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary., 13 Sept. 2010
By 2003, Outkast had already produced a handful of hip-hop's greatest albums, with predecessor Stankonia also taking their fame and sales global. But rumours of disarray dogged them, and the follow-up eventually emerged not as one cohesive album but as a bizarre concept - a solo album from each member of the duo, released collectively under the Outkast name.

The solo albums couldn't be more different from each other, possibly explaining the innovation of their collaborative music. The first disc is Big Boi's Speakerboxxx, and it is one of the most extraordinary hip-hop albums of our time. Big Boi throws his tricksy rhymes on top of any music he can get his hands on, but never once does his reach exceed his grasp. Witness the clattering skank of 'Knowing' or the emotional piano arpeggios of 'Flip-Flop Rock.' The album has a big hit single in the form of the comparatively generic 'The Way You Move,' but tellingly, the album peaks early. Opener 'Ghettomusick' is one of the few where both members collaborate - it's a stop-start, psychedelic epic that is simply unlike anything else in the world of hip-hop; truly a staggering piece of work.

Andre 3000's The Love Below is the inferior of the two discs. Boasting the world-conquering 'Hey Ya,' Andre spends too much time indulging his Prince fantasies on songs which stretch on far too long. 'Roses,' another of the handful of collaborations between the duo, is one of their worst ever songs by far. Andre only really succeeds when he staples his ideas to a hip-hop beat or when he completely throws the rulebook out. In the latter category, you have 'Love Hater,' one part squealing Hendrix guitar, one part jazz falsetto - it's utterly insane. In the former, you have songs like the fantastic 'Happy Valentine's Day,' a two-step beat that erupts into bubbling synth midway through. Almost as good is the chilled R'n'B of 'Prototype.'

Both discs are far overpopulated with skits, as any Outkast (or rap in general) album is, and that five-star score isn't unwarranted. But the problem is the opportunity missed. When the two of them reach critical mass on 'Ghettomusick' they create something astonishing - and if you took the best songs from each disc, you'd not only have the greatest hip-hop album ever made, but you'd have one of the top ten albums ever made in any genre.


Up (U.S. Version)
Up (U.S. Version)
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £3.49

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The best that could be expected., 5 Aug. 2010
This review is from: Up (U.S. Version) (Audio CD)
After the departure of founding drummer Bill Berry, many predicted the end for REM. Instead they bounced back as a 'three legged dog' in Michael Stipe's words, releasing the album Up in 1998.

The album has a bad reputation as the start of REM's inevitable career decline, and it has a lot of problems in truth. It's massively overlong at over an hour, there's a distinct lack of memorable tunes, and it's self-consciously experimental to the point of obsession. Too many times an idea is seized upon and simply dragged out well beyond reason.

Of the slow-burning soundscapes, the best is the ebbing, flowing 'Suspicion.' The charming 'Daysleeper' recalls 1991's Out Of Time in its acoustic waltz, a gentle character sketch and really quite lovely. The fast-paced 'Lotus,' opening with Stipe's hilarious 'hey, hey!' is powered along by electric piano and almost rocks. Best of all is the constantly looping 'Hurt,' a seeming stream-of-consciousness which lacks the classic REM trick of taking the song somewhere else with the bridge, instead removing the bridge entirely. It's not at all classic REM, but it's fascinating all the same.

Up is nowhere near a masterpiece and nowhere near a good REM album. But with a band like REM, ill-served by compilations due to their wealth of great songs, the joy in an album like Up is to dig in and find the diamonds in the rough, of which there are a few.


IOWA
IOWA
Price: £5.99

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Their weakest, but still impressive., 30 Jun. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: IOWA (Audio CD)
Slipknot's first album had an immediate impact on the nu-metal community at the turn of the century, but no band can live forever on its debut and the time came for a follow-up. Made with the band's relations at an all-time-low, Iowa was that album, and of their four proper albums it's definitely the weakest.

Iowa expands on the band's self-titled debut in some ways. It adds a slightly poppier edge to some songs and a more bizarre space-rock texture in places, but it lacks the sheer shock and awe of its predecessor as well as the thrill of the new. It's a bruising ride but one that leaves you far less fulfilled.

Iowa is not short of quality moments. Big single 'Left Behind' makes great use of the band's abundant percussion and Resident Evil theme 'My Plague' (though inferior to its single-release remix) is very powerful. The progressive structure of the seven-minute 'Skin Ticket' is another brutal highlight.

Elsewhere the album isn't lacking in inspiration, but is in form. The title track clocks in at a quarter hour, and is a fascinating listen exactly once - after the interest is gone it doesn't really stand up on its own as a song. Notably, and unlike the band's debut, much of Iowa has a tendency to blend together and become anonymous.

Iowa is by no means a bad album but simply can't stand up next to what came before or what followed. Well worth hearing for fans or otherwise, yes, but low on the buyers' list.


Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy [DVD] [2004]
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Will Ferrell
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £0.99

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pure comedy., 8 May 2010
Let me get something out of the way right now - I despise Will Ferrell's work. I don't think he's funny, and I find him annoying. But this film trasncended my dislike for him and made me laugh from front to back.

For some time now, pure comedies have been dead. The last film made in which literally everything was played for laughs, right down to the romance, was Naked Gun 33 1/3. Anchorman is another of those films, just wall-to-wall laughs, ignoring any continuity or reality and just heading straight for the ridiculous.

The ensemble cast is magnificent, focusing in on Will Ferrell and Steve Carell, as well as Fred Willard as the wonderfully exasperated news editor.

This comedy is most definitely not for everyone. Sophomoric and frequently ironically sexist, as well as at times preposterously stupid, the film heavily relies on what kind of a sense of humour you have.

But if you take your brain out and just let the dumb humour wash over you - particularly in the insane and riotous news anchor gang war in the middle of the film - then you will find much to love in the underrated Anchorman.

This is a film for comedy fans, not for critics.


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