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D. A. England (west sussex)

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Skills In Pills
Skills In Pills
Offered by BestSellerRecordshop
Price: £6.08

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Large, loud, soild - no, not Till Lindemann, the album..., 23 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Skills In Pills (Audio CD)
It seems incredible that the last studio album from Rammstein was six years ago, so there was certainly a great deal of anticipation in hearing fresh material from Till Lindemann. And certainly there is no disappointment here... well, almost no disappointment.

The sound, musicianship, production, artwork - they are all gloriously polished and suitably aggressive, and the album has the overall feel of a Rammstein offering, except of course that Lindemann sings in English throughout the album. Not that this is entirely unknown (the cover of Depeche Mode's 'Stripped' and the English version of 'Du Hast' are two examples), but it is slightly odd. I don't think this distracts at all, it's purely a perspective from a Rammstein devotee. To be fair, the 'Lindemann' name is being proclaimed as a new supergroup, so of course this album should be viewed as something completely new. To recent converts, or those who stumble across this in the UK they will just perceive a vocalist who was born to sing heavy metal. So neither the music, nor the vocals are a disappointment, and you might be right in thinking that that's what buying an album is about. But there's something more than that.

With Rammstein, we have been spoiled with the most stunning imagery, both musically and lyrically. They have tackled subjects of great depth, of great emotion and of course, subjects that are taboo. And in Till Lindemann's mother tongue, they have had a poetic beauty that, when combined with his fearsome delivery, have given them their well-deserved lead over other 'metal' bands who sometimes just shout a lot and play loud guitars. My wife and I had 'Ohne Dich' played at out wedding service years ago - that wouldn't have been possible with Oomph! or Motorhead or Tool or....
No, the thing that's missing with this album is delicacy, which sounds obtuse when reviewing a thundering rock album. Lindemann's lyrics in English on this album are much, much more direct and to the point than they ever were in German. And also full of swearing by the way, which is not anathema to me, but it sure is going to limit airtime.

I think the thing that sums up the album best for me is the track 'Fat' which is about the preference of a man who likes the fuller figure. Double entendres don't come into it. If the Two Ronnies wrote heavy rock songs, this is what it would sound like. It made me chuckle listening to it, and I realised that I've never chuckled listening to heavy rock before. Smiled, yes. But not chuckled. We know Lindemann's sense of humour - that comes across in the endless artwork and videos that he's done - but it's a dark humour. Perhaps this is his light-hearted side; perhaps he wanted to define something outside of Rammstein. Perhaps I'm being over-critical because I have looked forward to this for some time.

The album is not bad by any stretch, not even mediocre. It is loud, aggressive, ballsy, wonderfully produced and exquisitely well put-together. It doesn't suffer from the slight misfiring that occasionally crept into the albums by Emigrate. If Rammstein is in your collection, then this should be too, without question. I'm just not overly sure it will stand the test of time so well, which is why I have only rated it four stars here, even though it pains me to do so.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 25, 2015 12:59 PM BST

Spirit Of Talk Talk
Spirit Of Talk Talk
Price: £13.12

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fitting tribute., 10 Sept. 2012
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This review is from: Spirit Of Talk Talk (Audio CD)
It is perhaps a shame that, in the UK at least, there was not the enthusiasm for Talk Talk in their heyday as there appears to be today. Belatedly, we have collectively looked back and realised how phenomenally important they were. Or perhaps it is because so much of today's music - as it was in the 80's, let's not forget - was hollow, vacuous nonsense and that songwriting and musicianship of this quality truly does stand out. Certainly, the seemingly endless remix/compilation albums available show the willingness of the record industry to cash in on their status, a fact that probably still gives Mark Hollis cold sweats at night.

And yet I think - I hope - that Hollis would approve of this album because it is poignant, fitting and exquisitely well done. True, not all the tracks work entirely, but there is such scope here that I believe everyone will find something that will press all the right buttons. For me, the outstanding track is The Black Ships' version of Renee, a particular favourite of mine anyway, but others are sure to engage you. The important thing is that the various artists here are not trying to be Talk Talk, moreover they are engaging with each track in their own way. Sometimes this is in a fairly obvious way, like The Lovetones' cover of The Party's Over (although this is no bad thing); but in the minimalist, low-fi version of Time It's Time by Lia Ices we see a beautiful rendition of the original.

I did feel that perhaps listening to this album would feel a little like cheating on a long-teerm partner, but that is not the case if you approach it with the correct attitude. Talk Talk were exquisite, of that there is no doubt, and we should be grateful for that. Their music will never, thankfully, descend into stadium-chanting tedium; but we should also embrace fitting, erudite and truthful renditions like those found on this album. If you are a fan (and why would you not be?) then enjoy this album for what it is. Gloss patiently over those tracks that don't particularly work for you, and revel instead in those that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, or even bring a tear to the eye - because if you enjoy good, well made music, then you will surely find something here that will please you immensely.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 24, 2012 8:01 PM GMT

50 Words for Snow
50 Words for Snow
Price: £7.99

9 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, gentle, rich and delightful., 21 Nov. 2011
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This review is from: 50 Words for Snow (Audio CD)
There can be few rock musicians who can take 12 years between releasing albums and yet still have that album received with such anticipation as Kate Bush. That we have only had six years between the delicious 'Aerial' and '50 Words for Snow' is a great relief to us. The wait for Aerial was worth every moment - the care with which it was recorded is quite apparent. And 50 Words for Snow is no different.

But this album is much more stripped down than Aerial. The track 'Bertie' from that album showed the unashamed joy of a new mother's son. The first track of 50 Words starts with the gentleman in question, as Bertie leads his mother in a gentle, piano piece. Very softly recorded, with Kate's vocals backed off quite considerably, it is an almost haunting track that continues in theme with the second track, 'Lake Tahoe'. The soft, sustained piano and low strings carry us into the third track 'Misty' where we are introduced to percussion. The track develops very gently, and you become aware of a more trade-mark style from Kate, both lyrically and vocally.

Track four, Wild Man (which I believe is the single release) steps up a little, and is a far more 'standard' Kate Bush track with esoteric lyrics, delivered with that beautiful 'breathy' style in the verses and then with a great multi-layered chorus. Track five, 'Snowed in at Wheeler Street', starts with a refrain reminiscent of the latter parts of Aerial's second disc. More gentle piano work against a soft keyboard background gives way to a 'call and response' type song with Elton John providing the second vocal. I admire Sir Elton's vocal style, but this is possibly his finest vocal; rich, deep and controlled. The subject matter of the song is wonderfully portrayed by the delivery of both vocals and is a classic example of the 'less is more' concept of a great song.

As I read through the sleeve notes whilst the album was playing, I got to the lyrics of the title track, track six '50 Words for Snow', and thought 'Oh dear'. As I read a list of, unsurprisingly I suppose, fifty words for snow, I was reminded of the track 'Pi' on Aerial which I believed was the weakest track on that particular album. My fears were quickly rendered baseless as this engaging piece is the most upbeat of the album. Again, the vocal delivery is at the heart of the track as it plays out against a complex percussion set and simple guitar riff.

The final track, 'Among Angels' returns us to the piano and Kate's vocal. It is, again, a very gentle, simple piece and in places one can hear the strain on Kate's voice as she delivers the lyrics as delicately as possible.

'50 words for Snow' is an incredibly idiosyncratic album and only someone with the talent and the eminence of Kate Bush could get away with it. It does not contain the sensual, soaring power that previous album's have had, nor even the variety of highs and lows. Virtually all the tracks are gentle, piano-based pieces but the strength in the recording, the delivery and the construction of the work pulls you in. For those who really appreciate fine musicians pulling out all the stops to make the very best music - of any genre - this is definitely one for the collection.

Tonight Josephine
Tonight Josephine
Price: £13.60

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous, fun and delicious., 25 Oct. 2011
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This review is from: Tonight Josephine (Audio CD)
Like other reviewers, I was brought to this album via Caro Emerald's excellent 'Deleted Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor'. The comparison is a good one, but as delightful as Caro Emerald's album is, this offering from Tape Five is quite simply stunning. The strength of the writing, both musically and lyrically, combined with exquisite production is a pure joy to listen to. This is, without doubt, one of the best albums I have heard in many years.

Each song stands out, with terrific little nods to swing music of bygone years, even down to vinyl 'scratches' and distortion on the vocals as though they were recorded on those great old microphones that looked like huge Victory V lozenges. Smooth brass, infectious percussion and 'hotel foyer' piano are overlaid with synth noises and sampled vocals; little reprises of some of the musical motifs provide a jaunty reminder, and the whole thing simply oozes sophistication in the production. In places the songs have their tongue firmly in their cheek, but at no time does any of the trickery start to wear thin - everything about the album is perfectly balanced. Having produced a variety of music in the past, I can appreciate the enormous effort that has gone into this album.

Like a fruit pastille (which we know can't be held in the mouth without chewing) I believe it's impossible to listen to Tape Five without a part of you, or indeed all of you, dancing. Whether you listen to swing or jazz or not, if you like good music this should be in your collection. Fabulous fun!

Talk Talk - Live At Montreux 1986 [DVD] [2008]
Talk Talk - Live At Montreux 1986 [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Talk Talk
Price: £14.99

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Masters at work, 3 Dec. 2008
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Of all the concerts I have been to, seeing Talk Talk live at the Duxford Aerodrome was the one I remember best. Talk Talk toured all over Europe, playing some of the largest stadia in the major cities, but when it came to the UK they played small, obscure venues (except the Hammersmith Odeon in London) and were supported by local bands wherever they went. At Duxford we had The Fall and President Reagan is Clever - whose 5-track vinyl EP, From This to That, I had to go and buy the next day. Great days for music.

For those who unfortunately never got to see Talk Talk live, this is a fantastic way to observe the passion with which they played their music. Lee Harris' utterly focussed drumming, Paul Webb's effortless bass playing and Mark Hollis' head-nodding singing style. His vocals appear to be torn from him, every nuance of the lyrics forced upon the microphone.

From the pretty-boy pop of The Party's Over (an image forced on them by their record company, and the start of a long, bitter association with Chrysalis) to the haunting, often disjointed refrains of Laughing Stock (and subsequently Missing Pieces), I can think of no other band who have shown such graceful transition in their career. The beautiful James Marsh artwork, the attrition with Chrysalis, the disbanding and solo projects (Rustin' Man, O'rang, Dave Allinson and Mark Hollis' self-titled album) all led to a rock 'n roll soap opera that leaves people like me wanting to soak up every moment of their seemingly all-too-brief and yet magnificent career.

Press the buy now button. Sit alone and watch. Revel in real musicians doing what they do best. For me, it's like being there again......
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 24, 2014 1:35 AM GMT

Denis Leary - No Cure For Cancer [1993] [DVD]
Denis Leary - No Cure For Cancer [1993] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ted Demme
Price: £7.88

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smoke 'em if you got 'em.........., 9 Mar. 2008
Curiously, for a long time I only knew Denis Leary as a stand-up comedian, yet most people only knew him as an actor. No Cure for Cancer is Leary at his definitive best. His comedy is centred around ripping the mad, politically correct world apart and forcing people to see the insanity in the society we have created. Among the focuses of his attention are: smoking, eating meat, death, disability, the French, the English, the Irish, environmentalism and manhood. His outbursts are ranting, pub-like, almost python-esque, but his delivery is controlled hysteria. He chain-smokes through the set, almost goading people to react. He speaks for the mass populace, who do not want to be controlled by the dainty thought-police who rule our lives.

During the middle of the set he goes into a long diatribe about his son, and how he was born prematurely. His voice softens and the audience is audibly moved by his account. You can almost hear them being wrapped in the schmultz. Then, in the blink of an eye, Leary explodes again with venom, turning his account on its head and launching into more expletive-driven ranting. It is absolutely first-class.

However, like the best comedians, he is capable of turning the joke on himself. For those who think Leary's humour is for smoking, drinking, meat-eating males of a certain age you are wrong. For even here he finds a reason to mock. This is real humour: laugh at everyone else, but laugh hardest at yourself.

If you like your humour with bite, instead of the sterile mass-produced variety so common today, then I would suggest there is nothing better put together than this. That Leary ended up in some typically gooey American films is, I find, particularly ironic. The greatest pity is that there is not more of his stand-up comedy available. To quote the man himself, 'smoke 'em if you got 'em, ra ra'

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