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Reviews Written by
P. A. Murphy "Paulie" (London)

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Soviet Army Chorus And Band - Traditional Songs
Soviet Army Chorus And Band - Traditional Songs

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best of a (thankfully) bygone era, 1 Mar. 2002
I first heard this music from an old, second-hand 7" record featuring excerpts from the album. It must have been at least 40 years old. Through the crackling vinyl, something magical was happening as the choir ebbed and surged through "Kalinka". Listening to this recording now, the cobwebs of time, memory and vinyl have been erased - but the magic remains. Buy this CD - if you like Russian music it's essential, if you just want to hear cracking songs from a culture that no longer truly exists, recorded at the height of the Cold War, it's a fascinating document. But simply, it's good stuff.

Crazy Diamond: Syd Barrett and the Dawn of "Pink Floyd"
Crazy Diamond: Syd Barrett and the Dawn of "Pink Floyd"
by Mike Watkinson
Edition: Paperback

30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as it's going to get�, 10 Jan. 2002
There are to date, to my mind, two biographies on Syd available (not counting "Random Precision" or the first few chapters of any Floyd bios). Info on him is always second-hand as the man himself remains elusive, and probably always will. This book uses the limited resources available well, collating every known anecdote on Barrett (yes, the Mandrax/face incident, the green fridge, the alleged howling in cellars) - apocryphal or otherwise - and as such is the last word on him. Neither glamourising, nor entirely wagging a finger at Barrett's acid-fried antics, and clearly besotted with Our Hero's Good Stuff (his music, his charm and his subversive sense of humour) the authors have delivered a worthy book on Syd. The best there is.

The Ghost Orchid
The Ghost Orchid

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spooky? Uplifting? Random? Fake?, 5 Dec. 2001
This review is from: The Ghost Orchid (Audio CD)
Electronic Voice Phenomena - whether it is truly the voices of the dead, telepathic transmissions from the living, aliens or charlatanerie - is certainly intriguing and beguiling. A certain, small amount of the material on this CD will be familiar to many British readers of publications of paranormal phenomena as the flexi-disc given away free with the supreme "The Unexplained" magazine in the early 80s, which was how my interest was piqued in this bizarre branch of acoustic science. Gathered here are short samples of recordings made by emiment and respectable people, working diligently and with little recognition (wasted time indeed if they had been faking all along!), that they claim to be made by entities hitherto not present in the room, or indeed incommunicado by other means: the dead, the distant, the alien. I'm not here to make a pronouncement on what I think these recordings represent: the case for their existence is set out clearly and rationally and the sounds themselves make for engrossing (and unsettling!) listening. So, listen, absorb... and then believe, or have fun running it down - but please do enjoy!

Benjamin Britten: A Biography
Benjamin Britten: A Biography
by Humphrey Carpenter
Edition: Paperback
Price: £20.00

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive, 16 Nov. 2001
Humphrey Carpenter, ably assisted by the Britten Estate, has produced a thorough, readable and balanced account of Britten's eventful life. There is no deification of the man here, nor does Carpenter lose sight of the fascinating, attractive and genial qualities of the 20th Century's finest composer. There is little more to be said: there are many fine books on Britten, but any real study of the man's life and motivations begins here and ends here. Splendid!

The Bones Of All Men
The Bones Of All Men

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Competent crossover curio., 12 Nov. 2001
This review is from: The Bones Of All Men (Audio CD)
So many so-called "folk rock" crossover albums end up merely being folk tunes transposed bodily from acoustic to electric instruments (an ok idea, but unimaginative) or are simply folk tunes with a dreary four-to-the-floor backbeat behind them (shoot the drummer!).
This is neither. This is great: the classical background and virtuosity of Mr & Mrs Pickett, with the eminent Mr Thompson's vintage folk-rock pedigree, backed by the considerable rhythm section of three of the finest musicians ever to be in Fairport Convention. Slick without being saccharine, the combination of folk-rock and medieval sensibilities combine to create something that is not too far removed from either, which presumably proves Messrs Pickett and Thompson's point, one form leavening the other. Track two in particular stands out as a fine example of belligerent, biting and smart medieval pop/rock. The title alone sums it up: here on this disc can be found the same motherlode that makes some people appreciate classical and others rock. Just enjoy it all.

Party Hard
Party Hard
Offered by thegreatergoods
Price: £3.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars YAYER!! The Thrashening!, 12 Nov. 2001
This review is from: Party Hard (Audio CD)
Andrew WK's "Party Hard" RULES. It does not SERVE in the slightest, with huge Riffage and Berserker-metal thrashing madness. We've been waiting ten years for rock to receive another wake-up call since Kurt Cobain gave us "...Teen Spirit". Here it is, laying the smackdown on y'all. I... LIKE IT!!!

Black Moon
Black Moon
Offered by I-Deal Media
Price: £19.98

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as loony, but still loony enough!, 19 Oct. 2001
This review is from: Black Moon (Audio CD)
When this album came out back in '92 I was disappointed by how far removed from the classic early 70s ELP sound it had gone. Likeable, but...safe, more AOR-based. Then they released In The Hot Seat two years later which made this album seem like crazy, off-the-wall jazz-metal-folk-trip-hop fusion by comparison. Nearly ten years on, Black Moon has aged very well indeed. In fact, compared to the albums released around the same time by their prog rock 1970s peers (ie Yes's Union, Genesis's We Can't Dance) this album is truer to the original 'classic' endearingly nutty ELP that you either love or enjoy hating than the anodyne, MOR AOR pap their contemporaries were producing. This was a surprisingly valid and vibrant album from three guys written off post-punk as 'dinosaurs' and it still is today. Crowd pleasing stadium stompers like Black Moon nestle in among grooves like Paper Blood and widdly prog keyboard workouts like Changing States and it all still manages to hang together. Producer Mark Mancina's Burning Bridges is ten times better than any of the outside contributors' nonsense recorded for In The Hot Seat and Greg Lake provides another decent addition to his ballad songbook. Enjoy this album, but if you haven't yet, check out the earlier, better known ones first.

Warlock: Orchestral Works
Warlock: Orchestral Works

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr Heseltine's Fancy, 10 Oct. 2001
Anyone familiar with the name Warlock will be aware of the inevitable baggage that comes with it in conversation: the usual derogatory charges of his drunkenness, irresponsibility and the wrong kind of confrontationalism in his dealings with the musical establishment are frequently levelled. None of this of course is present on this beautiful CD that compiles a good portion of the scant amounts of purely orchestral music that Warlock wrote in his tragically short (but incandescent) life. Capriol, the best known Warlock piece is played with gusto and panache by Pople and his orchestra - even if the tempi tend to waver here and there, the overall performances are crisply rendered and recorded still yet crispier. Martyn Hill, that supremely competent English tenor invests the Curlew (the most famous Warlock song piece, which rounds out this collection) with conviction and the orchestra play in suitably creepy fashion throughout. But for me, it's the tiny dance pieces that make this CD special: Warlock has managed to capture the quality of Renaissance dance music with his own Edwardian warmth and efficiency and produces magical miniatures as he goes. Drunk, maybe. Iconoclastic, frequently (if he was any good!) - but this contradiction between Warlock the man and Warlock the composer is half the fascination.
This is a budget price CD, too - Warlock completists will find it agreeable, then, as well as initiates into his work who need to hear him at his best. Between this and EMI's Warlock Centenary CD, a good place to start.

Mael Intuition / Best Of Sparks 1974-76
Mael Intuition / Best Of Sparks 1974-76
Price: £5.99

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An explosion in a bubble-glam firework factory!, 5 Oct. 2001
Covering the first three albums Sparks recorded for Island (ie the ones that broke them in this country, between '74- '76), the brothers Mael (you know, the curly haired one and the stiff one behind the keyboard with THAT moustache) never let up for one second on any of the tracks featured here to bring you hard-hitting, quirky shards of catchy, brilliant, witty, eccentric pop music. When people tell you pop ain't as good as it used to be, they're referring to stuff like this. Be warned: if you buy this, you'll just end up buying the albums the tracks were lifted from anyway. Beautiful, grotesque, funny and scary all at the same time!

The Complete Blackadder - All Four Series [DVD]
The Complete Blackadder - All Four Series [DVD]
Dvd ~ Rowan Atkinson
Offered by HalfpriceDVDS_FBA
Price: £23.10

20 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More excellent than something that's really excellent., 1 Oct. 2001
What more needs to be said about these legendary British dynastic historical comedies? Most people agree the first and fourth to be the weakest; many people argue the superiority of the second over the third - or not. Whatever. No matter: here are four of the most commanding, intelligent and - let's not forget - funny comedies to come out of that most fertile of decades for comedy series, the 1980s. Outstanding, overall.

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