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Autonome (London United Kingdom)

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Miracles [CD 1]
Miracles [CD 1]
Offered by Sluagh62
Price: £3.73

4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing verses, but where was the chorus?, 9 May 2015
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This review is from: Miracles [CD 1] (Audio CD)
"Miracles" was the first of two singles that the Boys produced for their greatest hits album, PopArt (the second being "Flamboyant").
In incorporating two new songs in a greatest hits album, the Boys duplicated what they had done for their first "greatest hits" back in 1991, when "DJ Culture" and "Was it worth it?" were released as singles.
"Miracles" happens to be a good track, deservingly part of their greatest hits, but I am not sure it is exactly a five-star track. Yes the lyrics are superb, yes, the production is one of the most refined ever put together by the Boys and yes the verses are just sublime...
However, even if the verses are great , there is no chorus in that song - or more accurately, the chorus is clearly not at the level of those sublime verses ("Clouds drift away"...). So the song indeed starts phenomenally well, but it does not know exactly where to go, which is a shame considering how fantastic everything else is..so no quite five stars, but four for sure.
...all the more that the B-side is very efficient: "We're the Pet Shop Boys", the cover of a song by "My Robot Friend" is a more "realistic" take on the original song, more rhythmically accute, but not that different. Tennant and Lowe made the song more human...and more real, as it makes a lot of sense for Neil Tenannt to sing "we're the Pet Shop Boys".
Overall a very enthusiastic CD, great entry point for the "PopArt" compilation.


5.0 out of 5 stars Back to basics, 4 May 2015
This review is from: Lovelife (Audio CD)
In 2003, the Pet Shop Boys did everything they could to offset the mitigated commercial performance of "Release" (despite being one of the most obvious artistic triumphs of the band, IMHO) and switched the pendulum towards more dance (Disco 3), more cooperation with old glories (Ono), new fads (Atomizer) and using a lethal weapon unused since 1991: the greatest hits album.
In-between these rather incohesive (and more or less inconclusive) efforts, one pure gem: the hit "Love life" (an unpublished effort from the "Release" sessions) given by the Boys to the Swedish Eurodance band "Alcazar" (which album "Alcazarized" I reviewed for Amazon).
On top of being the best track on "Alcazarized", "Love life" was also the fourth single from the album. Considered as too unashamedly poppy by the Pet Shop Boys, the track is a breath of fresh air in this year 2003, which was too convoluted and too commercial for comfort.
Of all the PSB tracks out that year (with the notable exception of the greatest hits album), "love life" is dancey, fun, sincere, and alludes to summer through-and-through. The lyrics are simple but very cute and overall the track fits "Alcazarized" very well - all the more that this album was alltogether very good.
Youth, sun, beach: there are reasons to feel nostalgic hearing this song, the disco guitars and rhythms, Lundstedt's very youthful vocals: overall, this single CD is a triumph, all the more that the extended version is fun and that the FL Rebirth Club Mix takes a new angle on the song, without betraying its purpose.
Overall, a great, uplifting CD: interestingly, Neil and Chris would take it over again several years later.

Pet Shop Boys de A à Z
Pet Shop Boys de A à Z
by Vincent Laufer
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent analysis, 4 May 2015
Ten very long years after the last book published on the Pet Shop Boys (Chris Heath's absolutely remarkable "Pet Shop Boys versus America"), French pop-rock specialist Vincent Laufer published, in 2003, this extremely good and penetrating "A to Z" guide on the Boys.
Once one is past the small format, the horrid illustration and the abominable cover, the book (in French only unfortunately) is a goldmine of information and - more essentially, is very thorough. The musical analysis provided is very strong, particularly on each album (even if I thoroughly disagree with Laufer - in his view, PSBs only became class acts from "Very" onwards...). There are also some very good articles on Neil Tennant's lyrics, on the band's relationship with catholicism, on the main backing vocalists, on football and on classical music.
Overall, if I do not agree with Laufer's each and every opinion on PSBs, I must say he is well documented and essentially very interesting.
What makes this book endearing is the fact that it takes its subject matter very seriously, and after all this is the best tribute one can give to the music of the Pet Shop Boys so...I wish the book was updated and translated!

Cafe Mambo - Eivissa
Cafe Mambo - Eivissa

3.0 out of 5 stars Solid, if not exactly inspiring, 2 May 2015
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This review is from: Cafe Mambo - Eivissa (Audio CD)
Compared to some other horrible compilations that can be released by unethical record producers, this one can be listened to without feeling bored or seized with a headache.
The music lets itself heard quite nicely, Chris Lowe's composition for the "Blockhead" commercial is actually quite nice and overall there is good music in there.
However, the style of this music is exactly the same for more than two and a half hours, and this 2-CD set gets frankly repetitive after a while.
This CD can therefore only be recommended to Pet Shop Boys completists or Ibiza fans.
If you happen to be both, even better!


4.0 out of 5 stars Disco reconstructed, 2 May 2015
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This review is from: Alcazarized (Audio CD)
This CD is the first, original version of "Alcazarized", an album by Alcazar first released in 2003 which, in light of its success in Sweden, would be released internationally one year later through a shorter, slightly altered form.
What I review here is the original version of the album, a eurodance-eurodisco madness lasting for more than an hour with two hidden tracks (one before, one after the "public" tracks).
I must say that the "raw" version of "Alcazarized" is a lot of fun since the record itself is a giant, original tribute to the peak years of dance and disco. The band here (and I am not a specialist so you have to forgive me) pulls all the stops to deliver a product which is at the same time respectful, very genuine, and also quite original.
The beauty of it is that the godfathers of disco lent their talent to this album, from Chic (all over "Dancefloor docusoap" and "I go shopping" - both great with samples from "I want your love" and "What about me?" ) to the Pet Shop Boys (who wrote "Love Life", arguably the best song on the album) to Abba ("Funky feet", not the CD's best effort, written by Andersson and Ulvaeus).
Clearly, the CD can be a bit long at times ("Funky feet", already mentioned, "Not a sinner nor a Saint" - inexplicably chosen to be Sweden's contender for the Eurovision or "Ménage à trois" - which as a Frenchman I find a bit embarrassing) but anyway there are many many gems in this: "Celebrate the night" is a typical Abba anthem that Abba did not write, "Last Days of Disco", with its string accompaniment, is the fitting tribute that the song describes, "Singing to heaven", with beautiful backing vocals,"Here I am" is a beautiful ballad for an album that does not have a lot of downtempo songs. The two last songs stand among the best ones in the albums: "Someday" and the hidden track "Save my pride" are both very good and efficient. "Save my pride" in particular, with great female backing vocals, is another fitting tribute to Abba to close the album. I wouldn't say as many positive things on the first hidden track of the album ("Dance with the DJ") but overall with 10 great tracks, 4 listenable tracks and just two clinkers, this is quite a journey through eurodance music. A tighter version would indeed be welcome, but this first, raw effort can only be applauded!

Blood and Black Lace [Dual Format Blu-ray + DVD] [Region A & B]
Blood and Black Lace [Dual Format Blu-ray + DVD] [Region A & B]
Dvd ~ Cameron Mitchell
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £21.79

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal BluRay transfer, 19 April 2015
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This one will be short: if you read this, it is likely that you have seen B&BL several times, and that you view Mario Bava as a "grand maître" of world cinema.
But if you read this, it is also likely that you have always found available copies frustrating. Well, friends, fear not: Arrow, Tim Lucas and all that lot have produced an absolutely FANTASTIC transfer of this masterpiece. The sharpness, the colors, down to the skin problems of some actors - it is all there. The foggy quality of the piece at times is also well-rendered - although it is the first time I have noticed the small cut that makes the killer disappear in the antique shop (Nicole's murder). This is a drawback of having such a clear copy.
But - to give you an idea: the last time I felt like that in front of a BluRay transfer was when Lionsgate released the original Dracula with Christopher Lee. This transfer of B&BL is THAT good.
Extras: a lot of them and overall a good and eclectic effort, but not perfect.
For example, it is great to have the short film "Giallo" directed by Ryan Haysom & Jon Britt, a tribute to the genre even if far from ideal, due to a screenplay that tries to be too smart for its own good.
The new documentary on B&BL, "Psycho", is a bit too intellectual but will be revered for the interviews of Dario Argento and Lamberto Bava. Those two icons of Italian cinema are more present in the panel discussion organised at the cinema festival of Courmayeur.
The two best extras though are first the complete version of David Del Valle's "Sinister Image" show featuring Cameron Mitchell. This is a really good career interview - but the peak is reached with the phenomenal "Giallo and Gender", literally a PhD lecture on the relationship between genre and gender. The giallo is analysed through the lense of sociology and the demonstration is sublime. I watched it three times already...Let us not forget the original trailer (restored) and the alternative American titles.

Overall, this is the ultimate edition of a classic, that will keep you happy for years to come! Highly recommended.

The Reptile (Blu-ray + DVD) [1966]
The Reptile (Blu-ray + DVD) [1966]
Dvd ~ Noel Willman
Price: £18.54

1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring, static drama part deux..., 6 April 2015
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I wholeheartedly agree with one of the only negative reviews out here: "The Reptile" is unfortunately a bad film, much below the usually very high Hammer standards. I was rejoicing to see some of the actors of "Kiss of the Vampire" though: Jennifer Daniel and Noel Willman - and since "Kiss..." is one of my favourite Hammer films, I was expecting a good flick...
Alas, John Gilling is no Don Sharp and, this time, Anthony Hinds's script is atrociously dull and, eventually incomprehensible.
What we have are really some gruesome deaths and people going up and down a field to go from the cottage to the mansion to the pub, back to the cottage to the mansion to the pub etc...ad nauseam.
I feel sorry for the cast (Daniel and Willman mentioned) all the more that Hammer fav Michael Rippert is pretty much playing the leading man in this, and that Marne Maitland is one of the best British character actors. But nothing can save this "boring, static drama" in which absolutely NOTHING happens.
"The Reptile" is the last of four movies that Hammer made back-to-back at Bray to save on costs. The least one can say is that the experiment was artistically inconclusive: for one really great treat ("Rasputin the mad monk") and a very pleasant B-movie ("The Plague of the Zombies"), audiences had to cope with the horrible sequel to Dracula ("Dracula, Prince of Darkness") and this bad film...
Nothing to say on the BluRay quality and on the extras, but wasn't there a better or more important film to release on BluRay?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 24, 2015 10:52 AM BST

Rasputin The Mad Monk (Blu-ray + DVD) [1966]
Rasputin The Mad Monk (Blu-ray + DVD) [1966]
Dvd ~ Christopher Lee
Price: £18.12

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lavish and powerful Hammer effort, 4 April 2015
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"Rasputin the mad monk" is another glorious effort from Don Sharp, who in my view was carrying the torch left abandoned by Terry Fisher after "Phantom of the Opera". All the movies made by Sharp for Hammer were great artistic successes, starting with "Kiss of the Vampire", which rejuvenated the Hammer Horror genre, swiftly followed by "The Devil-Ship pirates", one of the best pirate movies of Hammer at the time, followed again by this "Rasputin", a grand-scale epic that is a thousand times better than the film it was shot back-to-back with: Dracula, Prince of Darkness.
The BluRay offers the opportunity of watching the unique 2:55:1 version of the film, and I would recommend watching it in this format to appreciate the scope of the effort, one of the most brilliant-looking Hammer films at the time.
Credit for the success of the film, apart from Sharp's precise direction (this would be his last effort for Hammer), have to go to two people: the first one is Bernard Robinson, legendary Hammer set designer. The sets on "Rasputin" are gob-smacking, lavish, ample and feel like they were much more expensive than they really were.
The second of course if Christopher Lee, making quite an incredible character study, and resurrecting Rasputin in front of our eyes.
To be fair the cast (largely similar to "Prince of Darkness") is much more exciting in this movie: Francis Matthews shows a neat evolution from loyalist to conspirator, Barbara Shelley is very erotically-charged, and Richard Pasco is simple genius.
Overall this is a great film, served by a very beautiful BluRay. I personally did not feel the sound was a problem. The documentaries are fascinating as always, while the commentary is still dominated by Lee but stays pleasant.
An absolute triumph.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 24, 2015 3:57 PM BST

Plague of the Zombies (Blu-ray + DVD) [1966]
Plague of the Zombies (Blu-ray + DVD) [1966]
Dvd ~ André Morell
Price: £15.62

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Zombies beat Dracula heads down..., 22 Mar. 2015
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Incredible to think that when "Dracula Prince of Darkness" was billed with "Plague of the Zombies", "Plague..." would end up being the much better movie, despite the fact that the top bill had Lee, Fisher, Shelley and Dracula Prince of Darkness himself to attract the crowds.
But in reality, "Plague..." ends up being the most inventive and fun of the two. This is due to several factors: the screenplay first: zombie meets voodoo meets Victoriana meets whodunnit: makes little sense but all this combined is very entertaining.
Then there are the set designs. Because "Plague" takes place in Cornwall, there is more of an innovative location than seeing Dracula's castle revamped for the upteenth time. Also I must say that the BluRay transfer is neater and more convincing for "Plague" than for "Prince of Darkness".
And then, it saddens me to say that at this stage of his career Terry Fisher is the shadow of his former self while Plague's director John Gilling gives his best Hammer effort here after poor showings in "Shadow of the cat" and "Pirates of Blood River" but a really good sense of drama in "Brigand of Kandahar". The film has good pace, memorable scenes (the nightmare scene, the decapitation of Jacqueline Pearce, the whole finale) and it looks really really well 50 years after having been made.

Lastly the cast: André Morell and John Carson are both phenomenal and carry the film on their shoulders. Michael Ripper remains a great character actor but neither Diane Clare or Brooke Williams are memorable, but it does not really matter. This is a really solid entry from Hammer, embarrassing its more prestigious "Dracula" entry.

The documentary on the film is very entertaining with Jacqueline Pearce bitching about Clare and Williams.
A must-have BluRay.

Hooked on radiation (Bad Boy Mix, incl. Pet Shop Boys Remix) / Vinyl Maxi Single [Vinyl 12'']
Hooked on radiation (Bad Boy Mix, incl. Pet Shop Boys Remix) / Vinyl Maxi Single [Vinyl 12'']

3.0 out of 5 stars Workmanlike, 7 Mar. 2015
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Each time (and this does not happen very often) that Pet Shop Boys experience a commercial failure (like in 1990 after "Behaviour." or in 2002 after "Release"), they feel they have to revert to type and deliver "what their fans expect", i.e. some mundane dance-like pop music. As a fan of PSBs, I usually do not expect anything or - more accurately, I expect everything from the Boys which, in other words, mean "surprise me". Even if I was never was a great fan of "Behaviour.", I must say that "Release" was a beautifully musical album that would have deserved much more than falling into oblivion in the Pet Shop Boys canon..
But the same way that in 1991, PSBs got out of jail commercially by releasing a greatest hits album and a shameful cover of U2's "Where the streets have no name", in 2003 PSBs released...herr.. a greatest hits album and four dance efforts that all proved to be at best workmanlike, in any case very commercial and overall pretty uninspired. The first release was "Disco 3" (that I have already reviewed), and then three remixes: "Walking on thin ice" for Yoko Ono (dull), "Love to love you" for Sam Taylor-Wood aka Kiki Kokova (a lot of fun that but horribly difficult to find) and the present "Hooked on Radiation" by Atomizer.
As for "Walking on thin ice", the original track is not very original, the remix is workmanlike, and the only thing I hope is that this effort contributed to reduce the losses on "Release" (a beautiful and still vastly underrated effort).
I am guess I am down to reviewing the next Greatest Hits album now, no?

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