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Poor Napoleon (TX United States)

Page: 1
Price: £5.99

9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars PSB's most straightforward pop record in years..., 15 Mar. 2009
This review is from: Yes (Audio CD)
...and that's neither a compliment or criticism. It's just a fact. PSB's been releasing great tracks for years. Neil's always been modest about the lyrics on the albums, often wanting to create a good dance record. Yet, for years, they've been composing some of the smartest pop records out there. So "Yes" is a departure from the social commentary of Fundamental, their "rock" album Release, or the theatrics of Nightlife. No, Yes is purely a pop album. It's easy on the ears and unlike other PSB works, you won't scratch your head over some of Neil's cryptic lyrics or feel any of the production is too grandiose.

Topically, Yes feels like a pop record. "Love, etc." is PSB's version of "All You Need Is Love," which is straight laced dance pop to a seemingly sinister beat (and a kooky video to boot.) "All Over the World" is classic PSB, and is as grand as they get on this album. Easily the next single, it's a mix of classical and dance, and is seemingly joyous and optimistic. "Intergral," it isn't.

The rest of the album doesn't scream classic, but is rather fun. My other favorite on the album is "Pandemonium," which sounds like Dr. Who in the beginning, but quickly turns into a classic PSB dance track. It's a fun upbeat ecstatic love song.

While "More than A Dream" isn't quite as catchy, the chorus features a soulful vocal from Neil. The performance is probably more spirited than the track. "Vulnerable" is one of the more downer tracks on the album and feels a tad underwritten.

"Building A Wall" is the oddest track on the album, and for that, might be the most memorable. It might be topical, but could be using the wall as a metaphor for relations of sorts. The standout on this track is use of spoken vocals from Neil and Chris (briefly). Something about it feels retro, and like the production on the album, feels very retro.

In the end, the production's the saving grace on the album, even when some tunes don't feel like they'll linger in your mind for very long. It invites repeated listens for its pure pop sensibility. The writing is not as sharp as their prior efforts, but it doesn't feel as if it's meant to. Pet Shop Boys are great artists, but sometimes I like to hear them do a pure pop record without all the irony or the politics.

Hey Ma
Hey Ma
Price: £5.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best comeback album ever, 30 Jun. 2008
This review is from: Hey Ma (Audio CD)
When I first heard James was reuniting, my heart was being tugged on in two directions. I would love to hear James again, but I was expecting a half hearted attempt at rekindling the magic that made James such a good band in the first place. "Hey Ma" proves my doubts wrong, and then some.

"Bubbles" begins the album with a song about new life, describing Tim Booth's joy as a father. This song is reminiscent of Laid era work - uplifting, but atmospheric. While Eno isn't here to produce this album, his presence is still felt.

But the sound quickly shifts to jam-based anthemic rock that James successfully mastered with "Gold Mother" and "Laid." "Hey Ma" might be described as an optimistic protest song. Tunefully, it's a classic. In the chorus, Tim Booth loudly proclaims "Hey ma, your boys in bodybags coming home in pieces." It's very poetic, and there's really no reading between the lines.

Elsewhere on the album, there's a theme of age and growing older. "Waterfalls" deals with materialism while the single "Whiteboy" sounds autobiographical with the wonderful line "My mom says I look like Yul Brenner/Too old for Hamlet and Too young for Lear."

Still, one of my favorite gems on this album is "Oh My Heart," a song where the singer asks to have his heart broken. It's anthemic and once again features James taking bleak moments and making them somehow uplifting. The lyrics are simple, but the breadth of feeling in this and the other offerings on this album make it a winner.

What makes Hey Ma so great though is that it feels like James of many many years ago. While jamming and experimentation did prevail on the last two albums, there seemed to be more rigid structure and thus rigid performances. Conversely, Hey Ma feels loose, fun and raw, but not without the ideas from the Eno years. It's rare that a band that has been around for 25 years can come back and sound this fresh and energetic. I have read many reviews that compare James to U2. Yet I feel U2 stopped making relevant albums (musically) sometime ago, lurking into more adult contemparary fare. James thrusts back onto the scene that could give some of the younger bands a run for their money. If you're still doubtful, check out recent live performances. As Tim Booth proclaims on "Bubbles," 'I'm Alive.' As I listen to this album, I believe it.

Flickering Flame - The Solo Years Volume 1
Flickering Flame - The Solo Years Volume 1
Offered by Great Price Media EU
Price: £6.21

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Uneven album for an uneven solo career, 27 Jun. 2008
I'm really not sure who this album is geared at. Roger Waters fans might be delighted by the rarities here. Though the title track "Flickering Flame" sounds like Waters emulating Dylan - badly. He has better luck with "Knocking on Heaven's Door." Then there's the demo of "Lost Boys Calling," where Waters makes a poor attempt at a higher octave than his voice can handle for an otherwise good song. There is some work culled from other compilations, including the excellent "Towers of Faith" from When the Wind Blows (though no Folded Flags) and of course from Waters' solo albums.

This isn't a "hits" or "singles" album though. Note the absent of the heavily dated "Radio Waves" or "What God Wants." Instead, focus is put on album tracks, which despite Waters' deeply interlaced concept material, works on its own. "Perfect Sense" is a favorite. A live version is included here. Even a track from "Pro's and Con's of Hitchiking" (an album that really works ONLY as a whole) works upon it's inclusion.

But still, it's a weird cd. While they do some nice seguing to keep it interesting, Waters just isn't compilation material. Not to mention, the varying production of his material doesn't function well side by side, especially given Waters first two somewhat uneven solo albums. That being said, this CD really won't catch new Waters fans and fans will want it for the rarities, which aren't that exciting. Then you have the bother of trying to load these on your IPOD. Don't bother as this CD, as stated, will not play on your computer.

Exotic Creatures Of The Deep
Exotic Creatures Of The Deep
Price: £12.00

9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bands of this age should be on life support, not adrenaline, 21 May 2008
For stars like David Bowie, Elton John, or the Rolling Stones, critics usually give favorable reviews out of kindness and use euphemisms like "noble effort" to illustrate the deteriorating quality that often comes with age. For Sparks, the opposite is true. Since "Lil' Beethoven," the brothers Mael have taken their 30+ year career and started another exciting chapter, crafting pop music like no other. "Exotic Creatures of the Deep" continues their successful combination of wit, layered operatic vocals, and a unique sound that can only be created by Sparks.

While the single "Good Morning" has garnered attention, it's only a slither of what this album has to offer. "Lighten Up Morrissey," another surefire single, features Mael griping about a girl who won't go out with him because he's not like Morrissey, so he offers some advice to the big M to give him a chance. The sound is a departure for Sparks here, as it features some heavy guitar and drums, but Russel trademark vocal is still in tact.

Elsewhere are other fine crafted tunes, like "Strange Animal," featuring some of those great multilayered vocal effects Russel's known for, or "The Director Never Yelled Cut" which sounds like it was culled from a Danny Elfman score. My favorite has to be "Photoshop" featuring something many of us have thought of, where the narrator wants to photoshop someone out of their lives.

This is an album that continues the successful track record of the brothers Mael. It's genius. They have a formula that continues to work and not run out of steam. The sound is continually fresh. Like the previous entries though, take the album as a whole - you will enjoy it more.

Run, Fat Boy, Run [DVD]
Run, Fat Boy, Run [DVD]
Dvd ~ Simon Pegg
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £1.22

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Actors rise above the material, 21 April 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Run, Fat Boy, Run [DVD] (DVD)
Run Fatboy Run is a funny movie, but it's predictable. It's a low brow romantic comedy that has two of the funniest comics working in showbiz today. While Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz are riddled with intuitive humor and cultural gags, Run Fatboy Run hits the low road with slapstick humor. That's not a bad thing - not always anyway.

Simon Pegg plays a man who we see leave his bride to be at the altar - pregnant. Years later, the out of shape Pegg is working as a security guard, sharing visits of his son with his ex, played by Thandie Newton. Pegg finds that his ex is seeing Hank Azaria, a high achieving American who runs marathons. To prove he can rise to the challenge, Pegg tries out for the marathon.

Run Fatboy Run is a fairly formulaic comedy yarn. Most of the comedy in the film comes from interactiong between Pegg and Dylan Moran, who plays Pegg's down and out friend. Moran tries to prep Pegg for the marathon. There is often a lot of physical slapstick humor, such as the now infamous blister gag. It's not as sharp witted as were used to seeing from Pegg. The reason it often works is because of the comedic timing of the two talented comedians' delivery.

Not to be outdone is Hank Azaria, of Simpsons fame. He has fun with his role, especially as he starts to drill into Pegg's character, trying to disgrace him. He's fun to watch, especially as he gets a little physical with Pegg.

The highlight of the film maybe the marathon itself. Having endured Pegg's trials throughout the film, you can't help but root him on. This is the core of the film, even if it some of it seems predictable. I felt somewhat unfulfilled at the end, maybe because of my expectations for Pegg. Take it for what it is, though. It's fun and cute. The characters aren't nearly as interesting as they could be and the humor's on the low side, but Run Fatboy Run is definitely worth at least one watch, but don't expect the returns you get from Hot Fuzz or Shaun of the Dead.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 3, 2009 12:16 PM BST

Pet Shop Boys: It Couldn't Happen Here [VHS] [1987]
Pet Shop Boys: It Couldn't Happen Here [VHS] [1987]

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Occaisonally amusing, always bizarre misfire, 31 Jan. 2008
It's not as bad Cool as Ice or Spice World, but It Couldn't Happen Here will not make it to the history books anytime soon as a great cinematic achievement. The Pet Shop Boys can't act. Neil's passable, but Chris is uneasy on screen, apparent in the diner scene.

It Couldn't Happen Here seems to have a loose narrative involving a murderous priest, an existentialist dummy, and an odd pilot. Some of the plot circles around a fictional childhood of the boys. Most of it features Neil and Chris walking around while they are either performing their songs, or their songs play in the background. In this sense, it plays like a long form music video. Some of the imagery is neat, but most of it grows tiresome.

But something about this movie, besides my favorite musicians, has me revisit it. It's not your typical long form music film. There are scenes that are just bizarre and seem to lack any proper context except in and of themselves. Notable are the conversations with the priest and the boys where he muses about weapons, salvador dali, and being a "bilingual illeterate." Oddly, these are jokes from comedian Stephen Wright. How they ended up here is an oddity...

More fun and strange though is when Neil and Chris are in a diner and Gareth Hunt brings in a dummy that starts providing a strange philosophy of time. It's probably lifted from somewhere, but it sounds at home here, once you accept that bizarre seems to be the apt word for this film.

There's lots of other memorable images: a man on fire, men painted like zebras, and people quoting John Milton. It's a strange film. It's not good or great by any means. The mere fact it has the Pet Shop Boys makes it an interest for fans. If you're in the mood to watch some curious, bizarre cinema, however, you might also find something you like.

Hot Fuzz (2 Disc Special Edition) [2007] [DVD]
Hot Fuzz (2 Disc Special Edition) [2007] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Simon Pegg
Price: £1.48

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's No Shaun, but this is pure fun, 26 Aug. 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Hot Fuzz is an excellent film. I have yet to be dissapointed with this team's work. Hot Fuzz continues the trend of Shaun of the Dead where it pays homage to a genre while creating and developing its own characters and story.

In Hot Fuzz, Simon Pegg is a good London cop - so good he is promoted to seargant in a small town where he is supposedly useless because nothing ever happens. His partner is the inept Danny, played by Nick Frost - who is just as funny and a bit more useful than he was in Shaun of the Dead (well, he doesn't screw up as much). Cameos read like a who's who of british comedy with Steve Coogan, Martin Freeman, and Bill Bailey making appearances.

A lot of reviewers have stated that this just isn't funny. It's funny, but Pegg and Wright, in penning the script have gone for some big in jokes, carefully inserted that to the regular movie goer, may go over their head. There's also a type of humour here that not every film goer will get. Part of Simon Pegg's success as a comedian is his dry, deadpan delivery. In many ways he reminds me of a young Bill Murray.

This film doesn't seem as successful because the action genre is just not as much in our current mindset as the horror genre. So one liners and fun dialogue exchangers are replaced by a lot of visual gags. Unfortunately, this means the characters aren't quite as developed as they are in Shaun of the Dead. This isn't a big deal - it's an action movie after all - but it was one of the charms of both Spaced and Shaun.

The finale of the film (possible spoiler) however, features a pitch perfect action scene. Here, the filmakers show their range by creating a brilliant action sequence that also has many of their trademark hilarious moments. It's not Shaun funny, but it still shows these guys have a lot more up there sleeves. So what's next - sci fi? western?

When The Wind Blows [DVD] [1986]
When The Wind Blows [DVD] [1986]
Dvd ~ Peggy Ashcroft
Price: £4.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful cautionary tale of war, 21 Aug. 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
20 years on, When the Wind Blows may seem a little dated. At first glance, it's about cold war paranoia and perhaps how ludicrous some of it seems. Look closer though, and one will find that Briggs was writing about the inevitable outcome of war and satarizing the "preparedness" one takes to dodge a bomb.

I don't live in England and don't know about the prepareness pamphlets alluded to in the story, though they are said to be real. I guess it can't be anything worse than are color coded terror alerts that flash across some of the national news networks here in the states. The point is clear though: if there is a war and if there is a strike, the outcome will be fatal and like Jim and Hilda, we are only delaying the inevitable.

When the Wind Blows ranks right up there with another animated film The Grave of the Fireflies in their very human reactions to war. While the latter is a far more dramatic take, both paint the vicious reality of how innocent victims deal with the horrors of war. Many people have pointed to When the Wind Blows' attack on government, pointing to Jim Bloggs' blind following of government guidelines. At its core, however, is a more broad anti-war film pointing at the hope and humanity of its central characters. This is overlooked gem and yet another example of Briggs as a master storyteller.

Fundamental [Special Edition]
Fundamental [Special Edition]

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars World weary synth duo spins another yarn of fantastic art pop, 19 May 2006
Fundamental could have easily been called Political as it contains some of the most overt politically charged songs of the Pet Shop Boys career. But while the obvious political allusions have been much discussed by the boys themselves, this album delves much further into age, world weariness, and fantastic elctro-pop.

The mood starts somber and rarely breaks. Psychological is a mid tempo number that lacks the anthemic over the top fare that usually thrusts listerners in. The lyrics describe simple observations of paranoia in a subtle low key affair, completely at home in an album that doesn't seem at all happy with the world it inhabits.

And this is the case in other low key tracks like I Made My Excuses And Left, a tale of regret, Twentieth Century, and Indefinite Leave to Remain, which could be the best metaphor I've ever heard in a love song. Even the Diane Warren penned track Numb, lamenting on the burdens of the world, is at home here.

The politics come into play be it in a subtle way in many of the aforementions songs, or more overtly in the album's lead single I'm With Stupid, a humorous take on Prime Minister Tony Blair's 'love affair' with U.S. President Bush, and the show stopping up tempo album closer, Integral, where Neil asserts his opinion about ID Cards through a Big Brother-esque lyrical rant.

The boys find time for humor, especially in Casanova in Hell, where a much older Casanova finds it harder to woo young women and has to be the only song that can rhyme the word erection in a tasteful, comedica way. The Sodom and Gomorah show, another up-tempo number, seems laced with typical PSB irony inviting listners to take part in a show that has everything the namesake cities offer.

The album only falters on two of its tracks - Luna Park, a close cousin to PSB's own Calm Before the Storm, the song never takes off and lacks any definable melody or lyrics that make PSB songs so memorable. Similarly, Twentieth Century, another world weary song, tries to imitate PSB of years gone by, sounding like a second rate Behaviour track. Not bad, but not very original. The album, as a whole, compensates for a couple clunkers. PSB prove they can still spin of the most sophisticated dance-pop around.

Spaced - Definitive Collectors' Edition [DVD]
Spaced - Definitive Collectors' Edition [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jessica Stevenson
Price: £7.99

22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clever boys..., 6 May 2006
I finally sought out Spaced after hearing how wonderful it was in reviews for Shaun of the Dead. I'm so glad I picked it up. It is by far one of the best britcoms you won't see stateside. Spaced works on so many levels. It is chock full of cult and pop culture references, catering to the slacker twenty-somethings the show represents.

I love the show because as outrageous as it is at times, the characters are genuine. Instead of US show ala Friends, or Seinfeld (love the latter, hate the former), the characters here aren't residing in NYC with successful careers, milking up a seemingly picture perfect high life, while canned laughter roars in the background. Instead, we are garnered with characters who just struggle to keep work, spend time making cult references, playing paintball, and languishing over an artistic career that may not come to be. In other words, a show about much of us.

In between the lovable characters are the numerous references. Movies like Star Wars, the Shining, and Manhattan are spoofed while a number of british shows that I have not had the pleasure to watch are also referenceced. That you don't get every gag is OK. The series has so much original wit and likeable characters (and Twist), that there is much for everyone.

The actors in this show are hilarious, namely for their spot on deadpan delivery. Again, despite the hilarity of the situations, Simon Pegg and co have a dry kind of humor about them. The writing is very direct in-your-face humor mixed with plenty of subtle nuances that make you have to watch the show at least twice to catch every single little gag.

The side players are great too. My favorite would have to be Mark Heap, as the kind of freakish artist type. He is a holdover with Simon Pegg from Big Train and does a wonderful job here. The album is also chock full of guests like comedian Bill Bailey and the Office's Ricky Gervais also make appearances. It's a must see that I hope also gets its way to the US!

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