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Marchespie (UK)

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God's Own Medicine
God's Own Medicine
Price: £5.95

24 of 43 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Oh Come On!, 14 Jan. 2010
This review is from: God's Own Medicine (Audio CD)
Look, sorry mish fans, I'm only writing this in the interest of balance. I was very much into the Mission at the time, but to see the 4 and 5-star reviews of this album in 2010 is just nonsense! When the mighty Sisters Of Mercy split up, many of us had big hopes for the Mission. As for me, I got as far as buying all of their EP's, 12-inches and albums up to and including "Children" before I realised.... oh dear. They are actually a bit embarrassing really. I still have all my records from the 80's and I think the Mission are unique in being the only band that I used to like that have not made it onto my iPod. I'm not trying to be cool or trendy - I'm still happy to admit to loving all sorts of rum music from the 80's, but let's face it the Mission barely had an original idea to their name. Even the best song on the album, "Wasteland", has a riff that is almost identical to he one Hussey wrote for the far better "Marian" by the Sisters. And that of course had Andrew Eldritch singing - a man who above all knew EXACTLY what he was doing. A man who had his tongue firmly embedded in his cheek and whose risks with taste always paid off. Hussey's big problem was that he appeared to take himself seriously! Whilst drinking Blue Nun and wearing Andrew's hat. Hmm...

As to the album - well it's not all bad. Behind the flimsy production, turgid lyrics and the drums that sound like exploding crisp packets, there are a couple of good moments, particularly "Garden of Delights" and "Severina". Overall, however, it's very much a work of its time. And Wayne's singing is truly awful.

Cue lots of people finding this review unhelpful...
Comment Comments (11) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 14, 2015 10:02 AM BST

Head Over Heels
Head Over Heels
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bowled Over, 2 Nov. 2009
This review is from: Head Over Heels (Audio CD)
This was the first Cocteaus album I bought, albeit a couple of years after it was released. Every now and then (not all that often), John Peel would play a piece of music that I immediately liked and felt compelled to buy as soon as possible - and Musette and Drums sounded like nothing I had ever heard before. I had been vaguely aware of their existence prior to this through hearing (with bafflement) Pearly Dewdrops' Drops on the radio when it was a minor hit (peaking at 29, their biggest hit so my Guinness book sez). The cover art is gorgeous (so much more so in full-sized vinyl) and the plastic within did not disappoint. Few of their albums are as consistent as this from start to finish.

Opening track When Mother Was Moth sets the tone, with a slow drum machine drenched in improbable amounts of reverberation and Liz Frazer cooing strange nothings over the top. The effect is either magical (if you're a fan) or possibly very dated indeed if you're hearing it for the first time in 2009. In between this and the closing Musette and Drums is a sequence of often brilliant tunes. Some, like the single Sugar Hiccup are sedate and almost poppy, whilst the fabulously titled Glass Candle Grenades and Tinderbox of a Heart are of the more swirly and adventurous variety. There is not one duff track on the whole LP, and it all culminates in the simply incredible Musette and Drums. A looping, dramatic guitar phrase underpins one of Liz Frazer's strongest vocal performances on a killer melody. Robin Guthrie tops even this with a rare screaming guitar solo that sounds like nothing else I've ever heard before or since - barely a recognisably melodic note in it, yet full of intense drama, angst and melancholy. It still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

Where the album loses a star (and only by comparison with their other work) is in the production, which sounds thin and harsh in places. Recording as a duo, they had yet to completely find their sound - it took the arrival of Simon Raymonde on bass to round it out. The drum machine is also occasionally plodding and metallic, though it might be churlish to say so given that it was 1983 - but to 21st century ears it will certainly sound dated. Probably not the best album for someone new to the band - but one that is very rewarding after a few listens. Get it maybe third or fourth (I'm aiming to write a review of all of them, oh yes).... But definitely get it.

Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Their best? Maybe you had to be there in the 80's..., 31 Oct. 2009
This review is from: Treasure (Audio CD)
My personal favourite of the Cocteaus' albums. I was surprised to find that they didn't rate it that highly themselves, as it's a very coherent collection of songs. What elevates this one above the others for me is the stronger sense of drama and melancholy in so many of the songs, and the (almost) lack of filler. My views are certainly influenced by the fact that I bought this soon after it came out as a student in mid-80's Leeds, living in cold and draughty accommodation in a bleak part of the city. Much of the music in the pop charts at the time was so desperately bad, and most of the better music was often on independent labels. The melodrama and romanticism of this music was the perfect escape from this environment and from the sound of Born In The USA blaring from my flatmate's room next door.

The single-word names that form the track titles leave little clue as to their meaning, and Liz Fraser was still at this stage singing largely unintelligible lyrics, allowing the listener to make his or her own interpretation of the music. The opening "Ivo" builds from a simple strummed acoustic intro to a wall of noise electric guitar solo finish. The chiming "Lorelei" follows, featuring surely one their best intros. "Beatrix" is a thing of delicate, skeletal beauty. Robin Guthrie's guitar sounds almost harpsichord-like as the double-tracked vocal spirals around it. The tension builds until the heavily reverbed drums enter for the final third of the track, taking the melody in a new direction. "Persephone" follows, one of the weaker tracks for me. From a 2009 perspective, the album suffers from over-use of the John Bonham drum sample (from When The Levee Breaks). This sounded great in 1984, but now sounds rather hackneyed, and occasionally intrusive - this harsh and percussive song is the worst culprit. Things get back on track for "Pandora", perhaps the highlight of the album. A steady rhythm develops over simple guitar arpeggios, leaving Liz Fraser to layer several interweaving vocal lines over the top. She uses all her different singing styles here, to mesmerising effect. This is one of those tracks that could go on for much longer. When it has finished, it is like the end of a long and blissful soak in a hot bath.

In the old days, we now had to flip over for side two. Not as strong as the first perhaps, but bracketed by the stunning "Amelia" and "Donimo". Few Cocteaus tracks are quite as melodramatic as these, Donimo in particular - it spends a couple of minutes without percussion building up the tension, before it is released in a tremendous burst of pounding melody. If you're already a fan, you will understand it and love it. For those (poor unfortunates) who don't see the light, this track will probably confirm for them all they dislike about Cocteau Twins.

It's fascinating that Cocteau Twins' music so divides opinion, even among those (like me) who have a deep love for it. Their songs seem to hit the spot or miss it - and every listener seems to have a different opinion. Another fan of their music could read this review and disagree with everything I've said, and yet still genuinely love the band and their music. There is not one of their albums that I would listen to now without the skip button handy, and Treasure is no exception. However, this album has more and better highlights than any other for me and this makes it their most satisfying.

Old Valentine
Old Valentine
Offered by CDandVinyl
Price: £3.96

4.0 out of 5 stars Both original and derivative!, 27 Oct. 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Old Valentine (Audio CD)
I head the lead single "The Musician" on Radio 2 (well, I can't get 6 Music in the car!) and was instantly hooked. Right up until the end of the song, I would have bet money it was a bizarre move into the mainstream from Antony Hegarty (gender-reassignment obsessive leader of the Johnsons). Nic Daswon Kelly's distinctive vocal mannerisms are nearly identical to Hegarty's on this track, but the backing is more reminiscent of early T-Rex - sparse, jangly and energetic. The rest of the album is varied, and the vocal style does change from track to track, but it's always rather mannered and overwrought. This will either work for you or it won't - I really like it, but I can easily see how others could find it annoying. Arrangements are tasteful bass, guitar, piano and drums, with some very Dylan harmonica work. Recording quality is excellent, with lots of space in the mix. Overall, the album sounds like lots of other people, but he manages to fuse all the influences into something quite original. Highly recommended, as long as you preview a few tracks on the download version first.

Heavy Cross
Heavy Cross
Price: £4.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funky, fast and full of soul, 28 Jun. 2009
This review is from: Heavy Cross (Audio CD)
What a fantastic single! Forget any preconceptions you may have about The Gossip - they are clearly not a novelty act, they can really play, and Beth Ditto can absoutely BELT it out. The guitar playing on this is superb, tightly controlled, rhythmic, aggressive but never showing off - the central focus is always the rip-roaring vocal. Yes, you can take them seriously - this is produced by Rick Rubin, who once upon a time even made The Cult sound cool... Recommended without hesitation.

Ringworld Throne
Ringworld Throne
by Larry Niven
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Incomprehensible, 22 Jun. 2009
This review is from: Ringworld Throne (Paperback)
Let me start by saying that Larry Niven is one of my favourite SF authors and that Ringworld is in my opinion his best work and one of the best pure SF books out there. I enjoyed the whole Known Space sequence hugely, with its wild inventiveness combining wilful implausibility with inarguable possibility. Niven always seemed to say, "wouldn't it be interesting if THIS existed???" - the more odd the better, as long as there was a grain of scientific plausibility to it. Mount Lookitthat, The planet of Jinx, the Puppeteers and the Ringworld itself are all good examples. His early work seemed full of energy, of the joy of possibilities.

So why is this book SO bad? So VERY bad? It's a total pointless mess from start to finish. Ringworld was ten out of ten, the sequel a solid eight - this book not only fails to live up to that high standard, it's a sad stain on their brilliance. I read it with a feeling of mounting frustration, neither understanding not caring what the hell was going on. I reached the end and goggled in disbelief. What happened?? I don't know and I didn't really care - I was just glad it was over for me. some of the other reviews of this book are far too polite and loyal to the Author. He's great. This is NOT! Avoid at all costs.

Polar F6 Heart Rate Monitor - Black Diamond
Polar F6 Heart Rate Monitor - Black Diamond

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a mess, 12 April 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've owned a Polar HRM for years. The F6 replaced my old M-series, which had been a really good bit of kit, and had lasted me 8 years. The F6 does everything the old one did, and costs considerably less - so why only a 3-star review? It's due to the number of silly and ill-considered design flaws. Firstly, the strap - surely a simple thing to get right? The buckle is too small and fiddly, and I would bet that the strap won't last long due to the amount you have to bend it to do the thing up. Secondly, you can't see the time when you're in an exercise session - which seems to negate the point of having an HRM that also doubles as a watch. Thirdly, the user interface is unnecessarily complex, and the manual is hopeless- there are clear differences between the menu options described and what actually happens in the F6's menus. I would guess the manual relates to a different version of the F6's firmware? Polar have taken a backward step with this unit.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 19, 2010 8:40 AM BST

Jetlag Dreams
Jetlag Dreams
Offered by Smaller World Future
Price: £40.15

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, atmospheric and real - but a bit boring, 17 Mar. 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Jetlag Dreams (Audio CD)
A really lovely CD, with mainly acoustic instruments simply and unpretentiously recorded. There is a real sense of place and time in the natural recording. The music is instrumental and melodic and consists of simple, repetitive motifs that evolve slowly over the tracks' durations. If you're listening intently, it does get a bit frustrating after a while, though - there's just not enough variety, too much repetition and many of the tracks are crying out for a middle eight of some sort to break the monotony. Music with such a strong melodic element as this becomes too tiring if the melody is not varied. Despite this, it still makes good relaxing background music.

Parcel Safe - Green (Old Version)
Parcel Safe - Green (Old Version)

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good idea, but..., 17 Mar. 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
What a good idea - it's a wonder that nobody has thought of it before. I've just fitted it and would have the following comments, which I hope the manufacturers read and take note of:

The package inspires confidence, as they appear to have thought of everything - even the drill is supplied, plus a drilling template and useful stickers to help delivery people use it. Such was the confidence that this inspired in me, that I didn't think to check that the drill was the right size for the rawlplugs.

So, four holes in my rendered walls later, I was able to pull the box off the wall with a light tug from two fingers. I had to drill new holes with a drill a full millimetre smaller in diameter than the one supplied in order to get a solid fixing. My wall now looks a mess. Thanks, parcel safe! It would have been much better to not supply a drill at all than to supply one two whole sizes too big. What a stupid, annnoying mistake.

Other small issues were that the hasp of the lock had very sharp edges and needed filing smooth to prevent possible injury; the rubber edging around the top of the box was loose and apparently not held on by anything and the plastic spacers that are intended to keep the box clear enough from the wall to open the lid were not big enough, so I had to add thick washers to increase the spacing so I could open the lid.

So, a really good idea, rather spoilt by a lack of attention to detail. Having said all that, it's very reasonably priced, and good value for money. I would just have rather spent a few pounds more and have done without the silly problems.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 14, 2009 5:12 PM BST

Big Blue Ball
Big Blue Ball
Price: £10.70

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly coherent mish-mash, 28 Oct. 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Big Blue Ball (Audio CD)
A surprise release from Peter Gabriel, and an unexpected pleasure. Some of Gabriel's output over recent years has been patchy at best (like Ovo and the Rabbit Proof Fence soundtrack) and it seemed too much to hope that this collective effort could be as good as his most recent studio album Up. Ok, it's not as good as Up, and it's not a Gabriel solo effort, featuring a great many musicians and composers, but this compares very well with the music on Gabriel's Passion and Us.

It opens with Gabriel's Whole Thing, which begins relatively modestly and gently builds to a crescendo of layered vocals and percussion - worthy of inclusion on a PG solo album and in my opinion at least, better than anything on Us. The album abruptly changes tone with the eastern-influenced Habibe, which could have been taken from Anne Dudley and Jaz Coleman's excellent Minarets and Memories album. The album continues in a variety of world music styles, veering from Papa Wemba's fast-paced African pop to the Celtic flavour of Sinead O'Connor's Everything comes From You. Gabriel pops up all over the place, leading the vocal of the original version of Burn You Up, Burn You Down - a far looser and more entertaining take on the dancey one that was omitted from the UK release of Up. The album closes with Karl Wallinger's lovely title track - whatever happened to him after World Party?

Despite the huge variety of performers, singers, styles and compositions on the album (and sometimes within the same song), it actually works very well as a coherent album that can listened to from end to end. The production is also excellent. The only question it begs is why on earth has it taken 13 years to mix and master the material? Come on, PG, get your skates on, you'll be 70 before you release again at this rate!

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