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Profile for Mr. I. Stephen > Reviews

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Reviews Written by
Mr. I. Stephen "dj_dadrock"

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John Stevens' Away/Somewhere In Between/Mazin Ennit
John Stevens' Away/Somewhere In Between/Mazin Ennit
Price: £12.97

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mazin' ennit ? Well yes, absolutely !, 16 Jan. 2016
I was agog with excitement on seeing that this had finally seen the light of day on CD - but as another reviewer mentioned, felt a twinge of disappointment on discovering that the master tapes ( presumably ) have been damaged or gone awol. Admittedly, it DOES say 'remastered' on the packaging, but NOT 'remastered from the original tapes'. Sure enough, during quieter passages, there's the unmistakeable sound of a 40 year old slab of plastic sitting on top of a humming motor, being dragged around under a sharp pointy thing with the help of a rubber band and a metal plate ... Ah well ! Right - gripes over, on to the music ... IMHO, this is a band that got better with time and with each subsequent album and so if quality British Jazz-Rock is your bag and you don't own a vinyl copy of 'Mazin Ennit' then you need to shell out a tenner or so pronto ! Curiously, no other reviewers on here seem that excited by it and even the geezer writing the sleeve notes adopts a slightly apologetic 'we've done this to get the first two albums out, the last one was on the same record label we might as well shove it on the end' attitude. I trust that afficionados of this type of music will understand when I say that I've rated this album every little bit as highly over the last 40 years as the first Back Door album. It's THAT good ? Press those buttons and find out for yourselves !!

Price: £14.75

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Digitally Remastered ?, 4 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Assagai (Audio CD)
OK - buyer beware on this one ... I have no qualms with the music itself ( performances here are perhaps a little more careful and tentative than you get on the great full-blooded 2nd LP 'Zimbabwe' - but anything with Dudu Pukwana blowing your socks off is usually worth the admission price )
This would appear to have been taken off a vinyl copy rather than the original master tapes, and a rather worn vinyl copy at that - chunks of it are so bad that it sounds as if there's fluff collecting under the stylus. We've been rather short changed with this band of late, with the issue of the 2nd album ( put out by a different company to this one ) having some strange mix on it that makes poor old Mongezi Feza sound like he was playing in a locked toilet down the corridor. Looks like I'll be hanging on to my Contour 'Afrorock' vinyl album a little longer. Such a shame !

Bodies Swirling Like Lemon Topped Variety Chainbrace
Bodies Swirling Like Lemon Topped Variety Chainbrace
by Peter Bennett
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Pound o bananas for twenn-tehhh, 5 April 2012
Eh oop me duck, ow yer goin' on ? I've read some books in my time - and this is definitely one of them.

Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £12.03

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Premier League Noodling, 20 Jun. 2011
This review is from: Illusion (Audio CD)
This band made three fine albums - I love the restrained urgency of the first album and the spacier sounding 'proto Brand-X' affair that was the third one, but it's this album 'Illusion' that always did it for me. The band members gel perfectly, whether cooking up a storm as on the opening track, or in more contemplative frame of mind such as on 'Spanish Sun'. This is the one album of the three that features Hugh Hopper on bass and the tracks benefit greatly from his fantastic timing and imaginative use of 'devices', so as to not just give rhythmic support to the band, but to create some mood and drama where required too.
I was holding my breath waiting to hear how the remastering had gone on this, as those responsible have let a few 'Remaster Disasters' slip through recently but am happy to say that it's retained it's atmosphere. Drum sound is perhaps a little thin, but the real bonus is the clarity of separation of instruments in the louder, busier sections - greatly appreciated as there's an awful lot going on in there sometimes !
Finally, the writer of the liner notes makes reference, quite rightly to the fact that there still exists a rather sniffy attitude to British Jazz-Rock. In my view, much of the work of this band, as well as Soft Machine and Brand X stands solidly up against the music of a similar vein being made 'across the pond'. Speaking of Soft Machine, and bearing in mind the time that 'Illusion' came out - one does wonder if Karl Jenkins et al were so impressed by this album that they decided to bring a guitarist into the band for the first time shortly afterwards ?
Anyone with a passing interest in melodic, exciting and imaginative prog and jazz music who hasn't heard this album yet should do so without any further hesitation !

Early Doors: Series 1 & 2 [DVD] [2003/2004]
Early Doors: Series 1 & 2 [DVD] [2003/2004]
Dvd ~ John Henshaw
Price: £7.00

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do you like circuses, Ken ?, 26 May 2011
The missus and I have just watched the whole lot through for about the 6th time in as many years and it still warms the cockles and has the one liners bringing a wheezing tear to the eye. It also really leaves you wondering why it never quite caught the imagination of the public in the same way as Phoenix Nights, Royle Family etc ... it's every little bit as good.
In fact, is this the most underrated British TV comedy ever made ?
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 21, 2012 9:30 AM GMT

Aerie Faerie Nonsense
Aerie Faerie Nonsense
Offered by musea
Price: £15.38

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Holy Grail !, 10 Sept. 2010
This review is from: Aerie Faerie Nonsense (Audio CD)
First of all I should concur with the other reviews left here - this is indeed the band's finest hour, and perhaps the very best example of that particular niche of English prog rock that wrestled with symphonic ideas and structures. One likes to think that it did indeed work so successfully here because, rather than adopting the approach of a rock band rather ham-fistedly knocking out some classical tunes with amplified instruments, it was carefully pieced together by a man with an authentic understanding of the way 'classical' music is composed, and what different moods and emotions it can conjur up. Mr Robert John Godfrey - hats off to you, sir !
Of course, it's not simply the fact that the original tapes have been made available that has got fans of the band all a-tremble with excitement. It's also that they have been mastered on to CD with such splendid results. This is of course also a testament to the original engineers and the way the arrangements were drawn up, especially when you consider the relatively primitive synthesisers and recording desks being used. To now hear all the little intricacies revealed in the quiet passages ( the guitar playing is exquisite ! ) as well as the furniture-shaking bits at full pelt without the compressed distortion is a joy to behold. In short, we are now hearing the music 33 years after it was made, exactly the way it was always meant to be heard.
Encountering this album again has been like bumping in to a long-lost good friend, and finding them in fine fettle, happier, wiser and pleased to see you. Such was the emotional impact on first listen that, I don't mind telling you it brought a grin to my soul and a tear to my tired old eye ...
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 21, 2013 8:02 AM GMT

Motivation Radio
Motivation Radio
Offered by jim-exselecky
Price: £5.99

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great music, fudgy remaster ..., 12 July 2010
This review is from: Motivation Radio (Audio CD)
I've been furrowing my brow whilst listening to two recent remasters issued by Esoteric Records over the last month or so, trying to put my finger on why they don't sound quite right ... so when I got hold of this Hillage issue the other week and experienced the same thing, I was starting to wonder if it was my ears, or my hi-fi - or my memory ?? I dutifully checked the credits and lo and behold the same team of people that worked on this Hillage remaster also did the Jade Warrior and PFM ones I'm referring to above. Hmmmm ...
Only one thing to do - to go back to the vinyl in all three cases for comparison and yes, although it's nice to hear the music without a single shred of surface noise on CD there's definitely something been lost along the way. Reggie's bass is barely audible in places, Blocker's drums have lost a top layer of 'snap' and the whole album just sounds a little less dynamic. A good example is Malcolm Cecil's Tangerine Dream-like opening to 'Searching for the spark', which on vinyl really comes out into the room at you, but sounds relatively flat on this remaster.
I'm not one of those 'Everything always sounds better on vinyl / all CD's stink' merchants, by the way - far from it. Some great examples of recent remastering on prog albums, by comparison are the 'Refugee' album, Triumvirat's 'Double Dimples' or the 2009 Alucard issue of Gentle Giant's 'Glass House'. Compared to these, I get the impression some old tapes nowadays are simply being put on the 'Remaster Conveyor Belt' by major companies, without proper consultation wherever possible with the original artists or engineers / producers.
Sorry to Steve Hillage and associates for using what should be a review of this magnificent album as a platform for a rant, but better out than in - as they say !
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 4, 2011 3:30 PM BST

Music From The Penguin Cafe
Music From The Penguin Cafe
Price: £6.35

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remastered ... reappraised ?, 4 Jun. 2010
The 5 stars are undoubtedly for the musical content, but also to hopefully draw attention to all 4 of the first Penguin Caff albums, all of which have proved to be a renewed delight recently in their superbly remastered form - a very fine job has been carried out here.
I ought however to mention this album in particular, as I imagine that it gets a little overlooked compared to the later '80's ones, when the public ( and makers of adverts and TV programmes ! ) finally picked up on the group.
This album has a particular place in my affections I guess, as it's the one that introduced me to the band back in '78 but listening to it again it is definitely the blueprint for all that came after. There are very faint whiffs of prog rock in there ( Caravan ? Hatfields ? Henry Cow ? ) but it's essentially a most fine album in it's own right and well worth a flutter.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 17, 2015 12:53 PM BST

Gateway 2
Gateway 2
Price: £10.93

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A genuine ECM classic, 28 May 2010
This review is from: Gateway 2 (Audio CD)
ECM records hit a bit of a purple patch in the mid to late '70's, putting out an embarrassment of riches that other companies could only stand and gawp at in wonder.
This album is a shining example among them and a perfect reflection of what the label was about. Is it Jazz ? Is it Chamber Music ? Is it improvised Electric Rock ? The whole point was surely, that it was all of these things and none of them at once.
There's a good contrast of moods and tempos on this album, from the long opening track that sneaks up behind you and builds with fantastic momentum to the track with Jack de Johnette at the piano trading the gentlest of motifs with Abercrombie's lilting guitar. All points between feature beautifully phrased playing from Dave Holland and De Johnette's drumming is ceaselessly inventive.
All immaculately recorded, naturlich !

Soldiers Of Rock: The Anthology
Soldiers Of Rock: The Anthology
Offered by johnny8640
Price: £39.75

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard Rock Treats, 28 May 2010
I picked up on their first album just last year and was so blown away by it that I got hold of this to check out the next two ( this double CD gives you most/all ? of the three albums ).
The usual guarded expectations were at work, wondering if this band's stuff was going to diminish in quality as it went on - first album a real blinder, second album a bit of a pale imitation of the first one, third one under record company pressure for a 'hit', smoothed out production values etc... you know the story !
Well - no such tale here, as the quality of material on all three is of a consistently high standard. Any fans of early '70's Hard Rock with a melodic, inventive edge who haven't heard these albums are gonna love 'em !

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