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J B Hutchinson

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Tribute to Big Star
Tribute to Big Star

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A decent tribute to an incredible band, 3 Mar. 2005
This review is from: Tribute to Big Star (Audio CD)
Big Star were one of the finest bands of the '70s who unfortunately didn't achieve the success they deserved. This album compiles cover versions of Big Star/ Chris Bell material by a bunch of fairly obscure bands. As with most tribute albums, especially one as full of material as this, the quality of the performances inevitably varies. Instead of just complaining about how The Cogs' version of 'For You' sounds a bit like Avril Lavigne trying too hard to be 'punk', I'd rather just discuss the highlights of the album.
Nada Surf - 'Blue Moon'. A truly stunning version. I can imagine the Big Star version sounding like this if they'd had the chance to flesh it out a bit more in the studio. Strange choice to start the album with though.
Longwave - 'Holocaust'. A pretty decent interpretation. I'm not sure if the full-on rock solo really suits such a starkly written song, but a good effort nontheless.
Susan & Brandee with Giftshop - 'Give Me Another Chance'. Nice to hear female vocals on a Big Star song. Good, solid, rock performance.
Mike Daly - 'You and Your Sister'. Another strong performance; Mike Daly's voice actually sounds a lot like Chris Bell's. None of the Chilton-sung harmony part is performed here, but this is a good no-frills cover.
Probe - 'Big Black Car'. Very well done. This reading, featuring an interesting use of effects, is almost as eerily chilling as the original version.
The Scooters' version of 'The Ballad of El Goodo' is great, but it's pretty much a note-for-note remake of the original, and this highlights one of the problems with this tribute album: too many of the bands sound like they're just trying to replicate the Big Star performances. One notable exception is Tony Zajkowski's innovative electro reading of 'I am the Cosmos', but I'm not sure that the 'Kid A' approach really suits the song. Nothing here is really bad; a lot of the tracks sound a bit too 'college rock' for my liking, and it would've been nice to hear the Posies' incredible version of 'I am the Cosmos' alongside some of the other great Big Star covers (such as This Mortal Coil's version of 'You and Your Sister', for example). However, I'd say that if you're a fan of the band, you should get this anyway because there are some great takes on the Big Star material - it's worth the price for the Nada Surf, Scooters, Longwave and Probe tracks alone. I intend to look up some of those bands now.

Government Commissions
Government Commissions
Offered by westworld-
Price: £12.39

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superheroes of BBC, 1 Mar. 2005
This review is from: Government Commissions (Audio CD)
Although it doesn't really seem like it, Mogwai have been around a few years now, and instead of releasing a stock-taking 'best of' have chosen to assemble this compilation of BBC session recordings.
The album is culled from a variety of different sessions recorded between 1996 and 2003, although it flows somewhat like a live album, albeit minus any on-stage banter or any real audience noise. The band's performances are tight and impressive, and the live takes on 'Hunted By A Freak' and 'Cody' are pretty faithful to the original album versions. 'Kappa' seems to lack some of the power of the original, but the affecting hum of 'Superheroes of BMX' and the full-on 18 minute version of 'Like Herod' make up for it. The highlights, however, are the two parts of 'New Paths to Helicon' which buzz and stutter joyfully all over the place.
This album isn't quite as good as seeing Mogwai live in the flesh (which I strongly recommend), but fans of the band are sure to be happy with this set and it may serve as a good introduction for any newcomers.

Cant Read
Cant Read
Offered by Smaller World Future
Price: £106.61

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Glacial, beautiful; one of Bowie's finest peformances, 15 Feb. 2005
This review is from: Cant Read (Audio CD)
While recording the 'Earthling' album, David Bowie decided to rerecord 'I Can't Read', a song that originated from the much derided 'Tin Machine' project of the late '80s. While the original featured squealing 'Lodger'-style electric guitar, this version is performed on acoustic guitar with subtle synth strings (the song was apparently left off 'Earthling' because it didn't fit in stlyistically). The lyrics are also slightly different, changed to fit the mood of Ang Lee's film 'The Ice Storm' (the song is also available on the film soundtrack and plays during the end credits).
The only other thing you need to know is that, if you like David Bowie, then you need this single. It's undoubtedly among his finest performances of the '90s, the decade in which he chose to redefine himself artistically. Alongside the full, unedited version of the track, this CD also includes his fine '80s single 'This is Not America' (also not an album track).


9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars adventures in the ambient garden, 23 Jun. 2004
This review is from: Spinner (Audio CD)
Although this project began life as a soundtrack, there's no reason why it shouldn't be viewed as a major Eno release, this time featuring bassist Jah Wobble. According to Eno's liner notes, he began work on most of these tracks alone and then sent them off to Wobble, who either left them as they were or added bass lines and sonic shrapnel to the mix.
The result? One of Eno's most interesting works of the 90's. Styles range from the peaceful ambiance of 'Garden Recalled' and 'Space Diary' to the stuttering chaos of 'Steam' and the unbelievably funky 'Unusual Balance'. Tracks segue from into the other, giving this work more of a thematic structure . As with most of Eno's works, the more you listen, the more you're drawn in. Recommended for fans of either artist, you won't be disappointed.

Empire Of The Sun :
Empire Of The Sun :
by J.G. Ballard
Edition: Paperback

35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A breathtaking masterpiece, 22 Jan. 2004
This review is from: Empire Of The Sun : (Paperback)
Although everything I have read by Ballard is excellent, I would recommend this book as a starting point. The author weaves autobiography with fiction in a compelling way; in some places the novel hints at the dream-like sequences that he has deployed in other works, but the story is firmly grounded in reality. The most apparent theme is that of survival, but I don't think Ballard wrote this with any kind of agenda; perhaps that's what's so refreshing about it.
One of his greatest talents as a writer is finding moments of beauty in what, for lesser writers, would be mires of ugliness. Ballard's voice is thoroughly modern throughout, despite the book's retrospective narrative: you can instantly tell this is the author of 'The Concrete Island' or 'High Rise', despite how remote those novels are from the second world war.
Those who have seen Spielberg's film will be thoroughly shocked: there is little sentimentality here, and the story is quite different in its later stages. Not that the film is a poor adaptation - rather, it's a seperate entity. Always read the book first!
It's wonderful that an author can use his past as a starting point for fiction, rather than being either grounded in it or evading it. It's hard to tell what is fact from what isn't, and surely that's a good thing.
Finally, I must stress that this is a book which not only survives several repeated reads but seems to require it.

Brian Eno: His Music And The Vertical Color Of Sound
Brian Eno: His Music And The Vertical Color Of Sound
by Eric Tamm
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read, 11 Jan. 2004
I chose to read this book both as a fan of Brian Eno's music and as a musician myself, and found it quite fascinating. Tamm writes with great clarity and provides some good insights into music from all stages of Eno's career. The musician will surely find inspiration, either musically or in terms of production, and the Eno fan will be delighted. It must be said, however, that this book is not a light-hearted read: Tamm is writing from an intellectual perspective, and some may find this daunting. But assuming you are a fan of Brian Eno (and other associated artists), there is much to be gained by getting hold of a copy of this.

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