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Reviews Written by
Daniel Margrain "hairy marx" (London)
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Compliance [DVD] [2013]
Compliance [DVD] [2013]
Dvd ~ Ann Dowd
Price: £6.00

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars are brilliantly directed and acted, 10 Dec. 2014
This review is from: Compliance [DVD] [2013] (DVD)
This is a chilling film laden with tension and full of memorable, if at times excruciatingly uncomfortable scenes that will linger long after the credits have ended.

The themes of subservience to authority, exploitation, misplaced loyalty, consumerist alienation and the fallibility of human nature that the film explores embodied in films such as The Secretary, In The Company Of Men, Phone Booth, Supersize Me and Fast Food Nation, are brilliantly directed and acted.

The premise of the film appears on the surface to be unbelievable, except the film is closely linked to a series of real life events that mirrored those of a deranged sociopath.

Compliance is an extremely powerful and insightful film that works on a number of levels. At it's heart, it is a very subtle and carefully balance portrait of how good people can be manipulated into doing utterly unspeakable things.


Psychedelic Pill
Psychedelic Pill
Price: £10.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed bag, 4 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Psychedelic Pill (Audio CD)
The legacy of Neil Young's prolific and often distinguished output can be defined in terms of its unpredictability and variable quality. It's the idiosyncratic approach Young has to his art in which he feels compelled to follow his muse, that endears the man to many of his die-hard fans. Young's work, which is in equal parts brilliant and indifferent - frequently within the same album - would suggest that Neil Young is not a man who will compromise his art to anybody. The double album 'Psychedelic Pill' is no exception.

With the catchy self-referential up-tempo country-rock and hoe-down boogie 'Born In Ontario' Young returns to the territory of 1977's 'American Stars 'N' Bars'.

'Driftin' Back' is a 27 minute epic. Here Young references the solemnity and redemptive themes of arguably his supreme masterpiece, 'Tonight's The Night' while musically it resembles the underrated 'Broken Arrow'. But here - both thematically and musically - he is far less convincing. From the kind of acoustic and vocal harmony refrains that typified his work with Crosby, Stills and Nash, the song melts into the kind of distinctive electric guitar jam style of riff and harmony counterpoint that Young built much of his career on.

Young appears to be cynically using the song as a vehicle for the promotion of his recently published biography. He alludes to the lamenting of the passing of an era of pre-modernity before art had become commodified (Young used to 'dig Picasso' before the multinationals 'turned him into wallpaper'). With his reference to MP3s and hip-hop haircuts, Young's contradictory attitude nevertheless underlies a characteristic humour.

The track is let down by some heavy plodding drum work, unambitious chord progression and muddled production. But this is partly redeemed by the quieter and more subtle acid-rock passages that recall the greatness of the Grateful Dead.

One of the albums key stand-out tracks is another where Young returns to personal themes. The introspective 18 minute epic 'Ramada Inn', is a meditative tour de force which focuses on the trials and tribulations of life as seen through the lens of the onset of old age and alcoholism. Young's allegorical evocation of the rising of the sun is indicative of an optimistic future set against a nostalgic backdrop imbued by regret, joy and love.

With the country-rock of 'Twisted Road', Young name-checks Roy Orbison, Hank Williams, The Grateful Dead and Dylan's 'Like A Rolling Stone', but the track lacks inspiration. The sugar-coated lullaby of 'For The Love Of Man' recalls the mood of 'Sleeps With Angels' but lacks the latter's memorable melodies and emotional punch.

'She's Always Dancing' which resembles the tone of the classic 'Zuma', marks a magnificent return to form. Young's repeated refrain 'she likes to burn' is vocally delivered with increasing levels of intensity and pitch, his voice crackling with emotion.

The title track is a major disappointment, almost a rehash in terms of chord progression of 'Cinnamon Girl'. Pretentious and derivative, the song's heavy reverb is strangely reminiscent of a cross between Hawkwind's 'Silver Machine' and Status Quo's 'Pictures Of Matchstick Men'.

The album's masterpiece is the monumental 'Walk Like A Giant'. Capturing a mystical sense of the ordinary through the prism of metaphor, Young combines his trademark evocative, yet obscure lyricism, and fractured distorted guitar sound with Bad Seeds-style sledgehammer pounding drums and Weld-era noise collages. In echoing the classic 'Powderfinger', the song represents the essence of Young at his very best.

Overall, Psychedelic Pill is a 'mixed bag'. Only occasionally does Young's trademark transcendental-style guitar work and melodious song craft convincingly and emotionally engage. Had Young omitted the padding by producing a single album, Psychedelic Pill would have ranked alongside his other distinguished works and masterpieces - 'Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere', 'After The Goldrush', 'Harvest', 'Tonight's The Night', 'On The Beach', 'Zuma', 'Rust Never Sleeps' and 'Sleeps With Angels. As it is, the album feels slightly rushed and incomplete.
Comment Comments (9) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 14, 2014 5:15 PM BST


The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars
The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £7.99

1 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bowie, the superficial showman., 5 July 2011
This is one of the most overrated albums of all-time by one of rock's all-time overrated artists. Bowie's exaggerated melodramatic and melodic vocal style harks back to the crooners of old. The kitschy arrangements of his disposable anthemic music is staged and choreograped to the enth degree to the point that it sounds like a cariacture of Scott Walker, Jacques Brel and Anthony Newley.

For me, this album sums up all that was wrong with what became the glam-rock genre of the decade in which it was released and for which Bowie was the catalyst. Bowie cynically diluted Lou Reed's genuinelly anarchic decadence on the one hand, and turned on its head Andy Warhol's radical critique of consumerism on the other. What emerged was a shallow, calculating self-publicist and an inventor of artificial stances and attitudes - a superficial showman whose compositions are facile and cliched and for whom "image" is everything.

It is surely no coincidence that a generation of successive artists who followed the trajectory trod by Bowie were also to produce equally lightweight and facile music, perhaps most notably Morrissey. For something much more substantial and interesting from that era and that genre, I recommend Roxy Music's debut classic album.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 28, 2014 1:39 AM BST


The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady
The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady
Price: £6.00

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hauntingly sublime, 5 July 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The music on this emotionally intense and haunting jazz masterpiece is a kind of running narrative on the US black experience from the days of slavery to the modern city. This is depicted by the use of instruments clearly simulating human voices, whether the joyful singing of sax or the sorrowful murmur of trumpet and trombone or the ghostly howls of tuba and baritone sax. The sounds are a magical combination of orchestral - reminiscent of Duke Ellington, rich melody, hard bop, classical music and flamenco. Arguably the greatest ever jazz album.(see [...])
Comment Comments (30) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 6, 2015 9:26 AM BST


Disappeared
Disappeared
Offered by Smaller World Future
Price: £42.17

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind-blowing, 5 July 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Disappeared (Audio CD)
The Spring Heel Jack project was launched in 1994 by the duo of John Coxon, ex guitarist for Spiritualized and Ashley Wales, ex collaborator of Shock Headed Peters. The first track on this amazing album, 'Rachel Point', opens with pounding drums, Miles Davis-style trumpet licks and looping keyboard wails.

The mind-blowing 'Galina', is characterized by tribal pow-pow beats, heavy basslines, organ drones and minimilist piano patterns set against a symphonic backdrop. The sound is sonically extreme and thrilling. But this isn't the entire story. The duo also emphasize the romantic in the epic trumpet crescendo of 'Trouble And Luck' and the Bacharach-tinged orchestral aria of the reggaefied 'To Die A Little'.

Coxon and Wales rank amongst the greatest musicians and composers of their generation, and this is groundbreaking and challenging music of the highest calibre.


Hidden
Hidden
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £14.96

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bleak and intricate puzzle, 5 July 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Hidden (Audio CD)
This ambitious merging of frenzied tribal African rhythms and rituals, syncopated 'dub' beats, neoclassical elements, chamber music, heavy-metal riffs and church-operatic choirs, could be described as a merging of Public Image Limited's 'Flowers Of Romance' and Canterbury-style prog rock. But that description in itself does not do this brilliant work justice. Much of the album is dominated by the superb drumming of George Barnett and the counterpoint of keyboardist Sophie Sleigh-Johnson.

Rather like the musical equivalent of a Stanley Kubrick film, this album works as an intricate, albeit slightly bleak and heartless puzzle. The icy and detached aesthetics of the music amount to a genre that is yet to be given a name.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 26, 2013 12:17 AM BST


More Songs About Buildings And Food
More Songs About Buildings And Food
Price: £5.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fresh and innovative, 5 July 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
With this, the second of Talking Heads trilogy of opening masterpieces, the rhythm takes centre stage. Eno's meticulous production translates into a more aggressive sound allied with the use of subtle arrangements, emphatic vocals and a variety of musical styles with the emphasis increasingly on 'funk'. Talking Heads were the most innovative and inventive of bands of the new wave. This album sounds as fresh today as the day it was released.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 13, 2014 3:35 PM BST


Faust IV
Faust IV
Offered by positivenoise
Price: £29.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rich and textured musical tapestry, 5 July 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Faust IV (Audio CD)
Trippy kosmische musik convulsions combine with Barret-esque whimsy. The result is a somewhat of a radical, yet more focused (albeit less experimental) departure from their groundbreaking debut. This record grows on you with each listen as increasingly its complexities and subtleties are revealed. I rank this as one of the 50 greatest albums of all-time.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 21, 2014 4:23 PM BST


After Bathing At Baxter's
After Bathing At Baxter's
Price: £5.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful., 5 July 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
One of the seminal psychedelic masterpieces of the sixties, this is reflective and beautiful music of the mind for the mind. The instrumental track 'Spare Chaynge' takes one on a flight of fancy to the deep recesses of the soul.


Burnt Weeny Sandwich
Burnt Weeny Sandwich

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Arguably THE Zappa masterwork, 5 July 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Burnt Weeny Sandwich (Audio CD)
This, the last of the original Mothers' albums, is a long instrumental ride through the lands of fantasy that does not attempt a definitive system, but finds instead spontaneity and grace of true genius. The centerpiece of the album is the twenty-two minutes of 'Little House I Used to Live In' featuring some stunning violin playing from Don Sugarcane Harris. 'Burnt Weeny' is a tour de force of four great soloists (Harris, Preston, Underwood, Zappa) and the rhythm section (the dual battery and Tripp Black). This album is a stylistic masterpiece and ranks as one of Zappas's greatest achievements. This ought to be included in the all-time top 50 albums lists of all those that consider themselves genuine music fans.


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