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prescient "retrospect" (London)

Page: 1 | 2
Price: £15.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'Let's talk it out now, let's name them one by one', 27 Mar. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Raintown (Audio CD)
‘Work, work, work; rain, rain, rain; home, home, home; again, again, again’. It’s not exactly the most upbeat and pithiest way to sell Glasgow and I doubt Ricky Ross was top of its tourism board’s Christmas card list but the ending of this eighties masterpiece captures the humdrum essence of life in a dreary unemployment-riddled Scottish city 30 years ago.  Town to Blame’s bleak, haunting keyboard introduction gives way to maniacal, near-crazed vocals from Ross and Lorraine McIntosh that resound of the sheer pointlessness and frustration of an existence with little or no hope. ‘Work, work, work’… Not that Raintown is a necessarily dark or gloomy album. Its creation was actually in the wake of celebration: CBS Records signed Ross and his hastily established ensemble earlier in ’86 and armed with a Big Fat Record Deal they headed south to AIR Studios on Oxford Circus that winter to cut their debut offering (the surrounds incidentally providing the inspiration for Circus Lights on the sophomore effort When the World Knows Your Name). This release includes the original album with added 21st Century remastering, b-sides, demos and live tracks from the era together with all the videos. One may retrospectively question three versions of Dignity, but I’m sure it made sense at the time… ‘Rain, rain, rain’… From the opening track, Born in a Storm, the elements loom large. The rain and the ‘tired eyes’, ‘tears’ and ‘frowns’ seem to stare out from every corner as Ross navigates his way through another Glaswegian day. He bears an unflattering resemblance to a ragman as he does and ably assisted by Jim Prime’s sweeping, soaring keyboard riff he finds himself in a small world but one in which he feels somehow content. Who wouldn’t do when you have a song like Loaded in your repertoire with its glee-like refrains and uplifting melodies? ‘Home, home, home’…  The singles Chocolate Girl and When Will You (Make my Telephone Ring)? are classic love songs of the era aided by sublime special guest appearances (from BJ Cole and the outrageously talented Jimmy Helms respectively) which really strengthen the core material. If there’s one Deacon Blue track anyone knows it’s the one about that ship called Dignity and it sets sail here in all its resplendent working man glory. The Deacon Blue appeal is large part rooted in the McIntosh/Ross vocal contrast – to appreciate this you need to listen to the demos sans Lorraine. Whilst not representing their commercial zenith, this is a time capsule of a moment in Scottish time with a timeless quality. ‘Again, again, again’...

Substance: Inside New Order
Substance: Inside New Order
by Peter Hook
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.59

42 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An engrossing and breathless romp through the life of one of Britain's best bands, 7 Oct. 2016
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It's a rock cliche that behind every great band lies a creative and conflicting duo - the band's viability resting on this often fragile axis. Lennon and McCartney, Page and Plant, Henley and Frey, Morrissey and Marr prove this cliche true. Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook doesn't trip off the tongue as readily perhaps but New Order undoubtedly deserve their place in the rock hall of fame and the relationship between Barney and Hooky defined the band. So two years after his childhood friend's memoirs - somewhat misleadingly titled 'Chapter and Verse' - we get Hooky's account. It begins with the first of several outrageous anecdotes - this one involving 80s super producer John Robie - that suggest a rollicking good read's in store. It is too if you're a die-hard New Order fan. This truly is 'chapter and verse' on arguably Manchester's best band albeit told from the perspective of its growling, bitter bass player. Whereas Barney's effort left out a lot of detail, Hooky gives warts and all. Neither approach is necessarily wrong. Since Sumner and Hook are far less well known than the band which defined them, you can understand the publisher who encourages a lighter reflection; equally, New Order have always had a highly devoted fan base who would happily devour the detail on offer here. Hooky does not spare any detail. If you want to know the story of Blue Monday it's here. The tortured Republic sessions and who played what on which track? Check. Heck there's even a timeline covering each year from 1980 onwards with additional Hooky commentary and anecdotes to boot. Hooky is quite fond of sticking the boot in too. It's Gillian who comes off the worst here, reduced to a virtual non-member who did no more than play Barney's keyboards (badly) at the gigs. His appraisal of her musicianship and overall contribution is, no pun intended, Brutal. The hopes of any reformation of the original line-up are truly ended thus. Steve largely escapes the excoriating criticism levelled at his other half but should rightly feel upset at the nasty words here. On the one hand you might say it's fair game, Barney was the creative genius and is largely responsible for the New Order sound but to completely dismiss Gillian's contribution lacks a certain amount of class. Hooky can be nice though. He lavishes praise on Barney's musicianship and rates Steve as arguably Manchester's best ever drummer. It's as far as it goes though. In particular, it's obvious that Hooky is obsessed with Barney. It stems from those immediate post-Joy Division days when Barney won the three-way Pop Idol contest for lead vocals and extends through the former's increasing exertion of influence and growing shadow over Hooky and the rest of New Order. It's a one-way rivalry that often comes across as petty and childish. The point in the book where you realise this is where Hooky notes with glee that he 'beat him' (Barney) with the release of Revenge's first single pre-dating Electronic's 'Getting Away With It' by a mere matter of days. When you consider the latter was a top 20 hit and hardly anyone's heard of Revenge it brings a certain degree of perspective. Crude, boreish and to be fair, often hilarious, behaviour abounds here. Some of it from a cartoon comic-strip of schoolday 'japes': banana skins on guitar pedals, buckets of water above doors and disgustingly overflowing toilets. Most of it involving copious consumption of drugs and prodigious promiscuity. Oh yes, Hooky Put it About a Bit and Hooky wants you to know he Put it About a Bit... I'm not sure a certain high-profile former MTV presenter will appreciate the insinuation that she was one of Hooky's conquests but the reader is left in little doubt. To be fair, it's a wonder that Hooky is still going in his early 60s when you reflect on the drug-fuelled excess recounted. You do get a vivid sense of certain personalities: New Order manager Rob Gretton comes across as a bummed-out bully, Johnny Rotten as a humourless control-freak, Keith Allen a riotous party animal - alright perhaps not a revelation but personality traits are well captured. For the general audience the biggest story in the book is the one the publishers leaked to the press in advance of its release: Hooky got beaten up by Mrs Merton. It's entirely believable and a good selling point but beyond this the truth is the length and breadth of the prose here will almost certainly deter the casual browser. For the New Order completist and any fan of popular music biography this is a firm buy. Hooky's legendary penchant for indiscretion is given free rein which makes for an engrossing and breathless romp through the life of one of Britain's best ever bands.

Interesting: My Autobiography
Interesting: My Autobiography
Price: £3.99

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Snooker loopy, nuts are we, 11 April 2015
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Steve Davis is one of Britain's most successful sportsmen. Six times a world snooker champion, he dominated the game in the 1980s and was duly recognised with royal honours and the BBC sports personality of the year accolade. His autobiography is therefore important and arguably somewhat overdue. It's timely in one sense however, this year is the 30th anniversary of Davis's most memorable match and probably the most popularised snooker event of all time: the 1985 'final black' world snooker championship final against Dennis Taylor.

Davis's story is textbook rags to riches. Growing up in a council house in south London, his snooker-obsessed father worked on the buses and instilled into the young Steve his fascination with the game. Davis was given his first quarter-size snooker table, sans balls, as a Christmas present as a child and never looked back. His teenage years seem largely to consist of potting balls in dark, smoke-filled working men's clubs. Hardly an advertisement for healthy living, it does at least explain the pale Davis complexion. Anyway, I digress. Clearly a natural, Davis's prowess grew as did his reputation.

The turning point in Davis's life was his coming to the attention of Barry Hearn. An Essex accountant turned snooker club proprietor and all round wheeler dealer, Hearn quickly grasped Davis's potential and the two formed a partnership which they have sustained to this day. The importance of Hearn to Davis, and vice versa, can really not be overstated. Without Hearn's commercial acumen, you get the impression that Davis would not have made quite so much money out of the game - especially in the early days. Without Davis's indomitable talent, Hearn would not have had the star power which he went on to build his Matchroom promotions empire on the back of.

Davis won his first world snooker championship as a 23 year old in 1981 and soon becomes the pre-eminent force in the game. The titles flow and Davis consistently puts to the sword the big names of the game: Higgins, White, Thorburn and Griffiths prove no match for 'The Nugget'. Davis painstakingly details each year of his decade of dominance here in a fashion which will delight snooker fans but most probably send the more general reader into a very deep sleep. Davis became known as 'Interesting' in the 80s - the public perception being of a dour, snooker obsessed machine with zero personality. This was a distortion that served Davis and the producers of ITV's Spitting Image well but the prose here really does little to dispel the perception.

By 1985 Davis was a three times world champion and seemingly invincible. His opponent in the final of that year's tournament was Northern Ireland's Dennis Taylor - a jobbing pro who the bookies wrote off as a lamb to the slaughter. When Davis takes an 8-0 lead in the first to 18 contest the title's destination looks to be Essex bound once again. Then he blobs on a straightforward pot on his way to making it nine-zip. Taylor duly wins the frame and gets into the game. The rest is snooker history but one gets the impression that Davis has had many more sleepless nights about the defeat than his latter day 'what a game to be involved in' mantra lets on.

A second final defeat in 1986 proves a mere blip and Davis reels off a further three consecutive titles to end the decade in an unassailable fashion. The 1989 annihilation of fellow BBC pundit John Parrott is recounted with glee and Davis's account makes no mention of the Liverpudlian's reported emotional state at the time (a reason the Evertonian always cites when accounting for his 18-3 defeat). Rightly so, Parrott had after all had little difficulty making it through the brutal path to the final - Davis quite simply proved too good for him. Little did Davis know when he lifted his sixth world title in such majesty that he would never again grace a final at the Crucible.

Davis briefly flirted with politics in the 80s, publicly backing Margaret Thatcher's re-election, and rather like Thatcher the 90s proved far less profitable for him. The emergence of Stephen Hendry as the number one star of snooker played a large part in this but Davis also got married and became a father during the decade - something he barely glosses over. Here lies the real weakness of the book: Davis gives very little away beyond the intense detail of his professional record. You get to know Steve the snooker player very well but Steve the man remains an enigma. This does little to suppress the impression of an intensely private man. There have been colourful events in Davis's private life and his marriage did not last but you will find no reference to this here. Bizarrely his recent appearance in I'm a Celebrity... receives only passing mention - although he does namecheck Joey Essex. Perhaps the closest we get to controversy is when he confesses he turned to drink during the Hendry era - but a short-lived experimentation with double whisky to steel the nerves before snooker matches doesn't exactly put this into Jimmy Whirlwind White territory...

This book is very good if you are a snooker nut who wants to re-live exactly how Steve Davis won the 1988 world snooker championship or absorb his agonising over a missed green from 30 years ago. If you wanted to know more about the man himself you will find this less than 'interesting'.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 6, 2016 1:00 AM GMT

Crazy World
Crazy World
Offered by MediaMerchants
Price: £7.38

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scorpions' best album, 11 April 2015
This review is from: Crazy World (Audio CD)
Scorpions are perhaps the paradigm of a band which got better with age. A progression which began with the enlisting of Matthias Jabs as lead guitarist led to 1984's breakthrough Love at First Sting, worldwide acclaim and the polish of Savage Amusement and the 1988 Monsters of Rock tour. By 1990 most of the band were in their 40s and should've been well past writing hit records by the standards of the rock playbook. Perhaps recognising this they terminated their successful long-term partnership with producer Dieter Dierks and brought in super producer Keith Olsen (Whitesnake) to give a new edge.

Well, it worked. What you have here is arguably one of the best rock albums of the era. Savage Amusement raised the bar but this breaks it. Olsen unleashes Jabs and Schenker, cranks up the distortion and showcases a blistering double guitar attack which is up there with the very best. The songwriting's not bad too. What Savage Amusement lacked, for all the brilliance of the likes of Passion Rules the Game and Every Minute Every Day, was the standout hit ballad. Everyone knew that was the sine qua non for a smash album and Wind of Change provided it. Criminally kept off the top spot here by Bryan Adams (!) the song chronicled the fall of the Iron Curtain and remains Germany's most popular song to this day. The danger of a huge hit is that you risk the stereotype of a one song album. If the crushing opening to Tease Me Please Me does not dispel this then the pace and energy of Lust or Love definitely will. Meine is at the top of his game as a vocalist and his lyrics resound of the excess and ecstasy of life in one of the world's biggest bands. The rhythm section plays its part too with some crunching bass lines (Restless Nights, Money and Fame) and pounding drum beats abound. There really isn't a weak track to be found. If there's a regret it's perhaps that Olsen didn't get hold of the band till they'd reached veteran status. This is a schooling in how to make melodic rock music. 25th anniversary deluxe edition anyone?

Up From The Ashes
Up From The Ashes
Price: £6.94

4.0 out of 5 stars Don shows there's life after Dokken, 13 Jan. 2014
This review is from: Up From The Ashes (Audio CD)
Dokken were one of those big US 80's rock bands that sold mega units in the States but went completely under the radar on these shores (see also Ratt, White Lion). Whilst arguably more musically gifted and certainly a better band than the likes of Motley Crue and Poison, they perhaps weren't deemed as marketable to a UK audience and so went largely unknown. Which is a shame as their back catalogue is strong and their career high Back for the Attack (1987) is one of the best albums in the genre. Anyway, not long after that was released the band imploded (due principally to irresolvable tensions between lead singer Don Dokken and guitarist George Lynch) and Dokken and Lynch both undertook solo projects. Dokken's reputation allowed him to assemble a top notch cast of musicians: John Norum (Europe) as one half of a stellar guitar duo, Accept's Peter Baltes on bass and a drummer (Mikkey Dee) who would go on to enjoy a lengthy career with Motorhead. They were joined by a comparatively unknown `kid' from Texas called Billy White who Dokken had heard some tapes of which had by all accounts `blown him away'. White completed the guitar line up.

There was a lot of competition between Dokken and Lynch back in the day and they would both have been eager to make the better record. Listening to the first two tracks here, you would say Lynch wins hands down (without even having listened to his effort) as they are instantly forgettable: none of the catchy melodies and sculpted production that you'd associate with a `Dokken' album. Then something happens, and that something is the third track When Some Nights. It's as if you're transported to a hot West Coast summer's day, driving along the interstate with the soft top down. It's White's guitar which grabs you, with its rich, melodic, controlled aggression and that nagging threat to take a life of its own. Whatever Lynch might've come up with, it can't match this. Then the album gets going and you have a string of tracks which would not look out of place in a Dokken `best of'. The singles Mirror, Mirror and Stay were canny picks and Forever and Living a Lie are epic album tracks. The sound of hearing the multi-millionaire Don Dokken's selfish, quasi anti-war cries on Give It Up was a little too much to bear but it's excused by the wonderfully overblown (and equally self-indulgent) When Love Finds A Fool. White and Norum produce the kind of guitar work here which you simply don't hear these days. There's a bit of filler at the end but all in all this is an impressive album. A must for any fan of 80s Dokken.

Live At Donington 1990
Live At Donington 1990

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars `More than a pleasure than I can ever describe to ya', 12 Jun. 2011
This review is from: Live At Donington 1990 (Audio CD)
So here it is. The 21st anniversary year of the 1990 Monsters of Rock show at Donington Park and we have the DC-approved cut of the Whitesnake set. Of course many `snake fans will already have the `on-the-fly' Radio One broadcast which has been widely available for quite a while, but now we have the proper packaging, the benefit of digital mastering and the video to boot. Given the number of line-up changes Whitesnake has been through in its 30+ years a good debate can be had about which can be considered the `best'. For the purists it's invariably Moody/Marsden. Up against them in 1990 we had Steve Vai, Adrian Vandenberg, Rudy Sarzo and Tommy Aldridge. To call this incarnation `stellar' would be an understatement. Vai is arguably the most technically-proficient and accomplished rock guitarist ever. Vandenberg a phenomenal blues-based player and composer. Sarzo a pure showman of a bass player. Aldridge the most thunderous octopus on drums you're ever likely to hear. Purists? Moody and Marsden? Pub players compared to this glossy, note-perfect, made-for-MTV lot.

Sonically this is a substantial improvement on the bootleg version. Just listen to the acoustic guitar at the opening to Judgement Day to appreciate the difference. Some questions were raised at the time about the quality of Coverdale's vocals here (there was a particularly disparaging Kerrang! interview the week after). Let them be dispelled. Whilst probably not at their peak (1987 was then), this mix shows the range and richness of those Saltburn-by-the-Sea pipes to more than satisfactory effect. There is an energy and intensity to the performance which really does grab you. And you can see how much fun is being had by all in the video (Vai in particular is clearly having a ball). Yes Vai dominates proceedings but why anyone would or should be surprised by that is a mystery. He was the band's ace and you place your ace where the ace belongs: right at the front of the mix. His solo spot shows off his talents exuberantly and the skill of his play is simply awe-inspiring on the Slip of the Tongue tracks that he recorded and in his interpretations on some of the Whitesnake staples. Always adding, never detracting. Vandenberg's ridiculously-titled solo pieces (Adagio for Strato; Flying Dutchman Boogie) are let off for the former's sheer emotion and the latter's all-out rockability. Aldridge really is an incessant, relentless rock drummer who truly was born to drum. It's only Sarzo who misses out a little here as Vai and Vandenberg take up so much sonic space there's little left for the bass. A nice touch too to credit Rick Seratte for his keyboard playing - he also helped out on the background vocals, which was badly needed given how wonderfully awful Vandenberg and Sarzo are in this regard; describing them as `drunken sailors' is being complimentary. (Note to whoever edited the booklet though: there are a couple of embarrassing typos.)

Hearing this in crystal clarity is unquestionably a real treat. Yet this is the DC-approved cut. So what you don't get (which the bootleg has) is the full banter with the crowd that this set is notorious for. It's sanitised so it's less fun. You pay your money and make your choice on the trade-off between the audio improvements here and the fuller representation available elsewhere.

On the DVD there's the full concert, a behind the scenes `documentary' and a slide show of the 1990 Liquor and Poker world tour. Excerpts from this show have been doing the rounds on YouTube for a number of years now. From the professionally-recorded Headbangers Ball clips to the bootlegged audience-recorded stuff. In terms of quality this lies somewhere between the two. To have had TV-quality footage of this show would have been delightful, but it seems MTV did not record and produce the whole show - only certain songs. That said, a whole 90 minutes of the badly edited `teasers' that were released as part of the Slip of the Tongue 20th Anniversary package would have been a major disappointment. Coverdale has spared us of that at least. So what you get is lo-fi but good enough to ensure a pleasurable viewing experience.

The most interesting part of the DVD is the `intimate, behind-the-scenes documentary'. What this actually consists of is clips from Coverdale's camcorder from the Slip of the Tongue era. So you get the jamming in Lake Tahoe, the recording sessions in Reno, the shooting of The Deeper the Love in San Pedro and poignantly the very end of this line-up's final show in Japan. It's interesting to hear some embryonic versions of the songs: Judgement Day was clearly a particular labour of love and if anyone doubted the indebtedness of Kitten's Got Claws to Led Zep's Rock and Roll doubt no longer after watching this. What's clear is that the band had more or less fully worked up versions of most of the songs (including Vandenberg's guitar parts) before Steve Vai got involved.

The official line on how Vai came to be involved was that Vandenberg suffered a mysterious hand/wrist (depending on whose story you believe) injury which prevented him from adding his guitar parts. Well that's odd because Vandenberg clearly had added his guitar parts! I've always thought this was a bunch of baloney and that the Whitesnake camp (probably led by John Kalodner) felt the need for a `big name' guitarist to help drive sales. Vai's condition for joining was full and exclusive control over the guitar parts and so Vandenberg was sat out. The hand/wrist injury story being deployed to save face. I could be wrong of course, and anyone in the loop at the time will always deny it, but the evidence here and the fact Vandenberg made a miraculous recovery that allowed him to be fooling around on his guitar seemingly unencumbered shortly after the album was finished (see Fool for your Loving video), and then embark on a year-long tour, points elsewhere. Coverdale's suggestion in his commentary that the demo tapes might get an airing might allow this aspect of the story to be cleared up. Or maybe it won't. Anyway, a bit of intrigue and mystery never goes amiss with these things...
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 7, 2015 5:31 PM BST

Dig Out Your Soul [CD + DVD]
Dig Out Your Soul [CD + DVD]
Price: £13.57

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It's the tunes that needed digging out..., 30 Nov. 2008
After the undoubted return to form that was Don't Believe The Truth, Oasis have taken a step backwards here. What made DBTT such a good record was that Noel had rediscovered his ability to make catchy pop songs and was rewarded with a couple of number one hits. The problem here is that, quite simply, there aren't any good tunes. Whereas Oasis are often criticised for being too derivative - and with good reason in some instances: Shakermaker/Coca-Cola song - here they are actually resorting to ripping off their own back catalogue. Shock Of The Lightning sounds like Rock 'N' Roll Star; I'm Outta Time is just Little James with better lyrics (and a frankly awful video). The terrible, whining singing on Get Off Your High Horse is awkward to listen to. The cringeworthy, brainwashed, disciple-like worship from Gem Archer on the DVD (does he ever say anything which doesn't include effusively praising the Gallagher brothers? Perhaps it's not in the contract...) indicative of a band so disconnected from the real world that it doesn't matter if what they produce is good or bad anymore; it's always going to be the greatest thing since (in their own minds) Sergeant Pepper.

1987: 20th Anniversary Collectors Edition (CD & DVD)
1987: 20th Anniversary Collectors Edition (CD & DVD)
Price: £9.99

44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars British Classic with Foreign Gloss, 25 May 2007
I was really excited when I heard David Coverdale and EMI were re-releasing the '87 album for its 20th anniversary year. Arguably the greatest British hard rock album, `Whitesnake 1987' spawned major US commercial success and provided the backdrop for Whitesnake's metamorphosis from a kind of Dad-rock British band into a MTV-polished, multi-national, `hair metal' band. Recorded by David Coverdale, John Sykes, Neil Murray and Aynsley Dunbar; sold by Coverdale, Adrian Vandenberg, Vivian Campbell, Rudy Sarzo and Tommy Aldridge, with Tawny Kitaen. Quite a contrast. The actual recorded work showcases some fabulous singing and musicianship. Coverdale's voice is at its peak, and John Sykes's blistering, powerful, majestic riffs and solos compliment perfectly. The rhythm section of Murray and Dunbar (then in his 40s and drafted in solely for laying down the drum parts after Cozy Powell's departure) is impeccable in its timing and execution. Songs like Still of the Night, Give Me All Your Love, Crying in the Rain and Here I Go Again 87 encapsulate and epitomise hard rock. This is more sophisticated lyric-wise than the American `hair metal' genre - but it's hallmarked by the same high quality musicianship. The recorded work is only half of the story though. 1987's marketing was integral to its success. Shortly before the album's release, Coverdale found himself without a band: Sykes couldn't stand him (the feeling no doubt mutual!), Murray had grown tired and Aynsley Dunbar had long gone. The changes in personnel transformed Whitesnake's image. On guitars, long-time friend of the band `the Flying Dutchman' Adrian Vandenberg and young Northern Irish riff-meister Vivian Campbell. On the bass, the `unbelievably sexy' Cuban, Rudy Sarzo. On drums, the stick-spinning Mississippian, Tommy Aldridge - a man Coverdale referred to as an 'octopus'. On stage, and in the videos, Vandenberg and Sarzo posed, strutted and pouted with all the arrogance of men who knew how. Undoubtedly the videos for Is This Love and Here I Go Again, starring Coverdale's then girlfriend Tawny Kitaen, made Whitesnake irresistible to MTV.

Why then did I use the past tense when referring to my excitement in this release? Well, let's have a look what's on offer: a remaster of the original album (although 1987 was DDD recorded anyway); additional live tracks; a DVD of the videos; live videos; some fancy packaging and sleeve notes. Ostensibly not bad. However, all of the live stuff has already been released in the past year or so as part of Live in the Still of the Night and Live in the Shadow of the Blues. As such, it's played by the latest incarnation of Whitesnake. Given the nature of the '87 album this matters less than it might, but most people who will be interested in this release will simply already have the live tracks/videos on offer here. That's disappointing. I'd have liked to have seen some live material from the 1987-88 era; perhaps a documentary on the phenomenon that was the '87 album; and some rarities such as demo tracks or alternative mixes. As it is, Coverdale and EMI are not offering much to the dedicated fan. So, unless you're a completist I'd suggest caution before shelling out for this. If you're new to the band or your original copy has worn out, this is a good buy. The videos are classics in the genre and the live material is high quality.

Prisoners in Paradise
Prisoners in Paradise
Price: £5.94

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Polished; neglected, 25 May 2007
This review is from: Prisoners in Paradise (Audio CD)
By the time this album was released in 1991, `the band Europe' were off the radar in UK chart terms. Out of This World, whilst containing some fantastic guitar playing from Kee Marcello and completely burying the notion that Europe were a one-song, one-album band, was never going to replicate the success of its predecessor. A song as big and successful as The Final Countdown paradoxically hurts the artist responsible in the long-run: it becomes too synonymous and too much of a straightjacket. Record executives aren't so rational in their analysis however. If you have a record which goes multi-platinum and then two years later one that yields comparatively low sales, by the same band, they see it as a failure. As such, Europe were forced to ditch the initial ideas for what became Prisoners in Paradise, and were sent down a more `commercially-friendly' path. The result is not as bad as it sounds it might be. The sound is definitely a notch further `Americanised' than on TFC or OOTW - bringing in Beau Hill (Ratt) as producer and collaborating with Desmond Child (Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Kiss) would have that effect. Opener All or Nothing is reminiscent of Bon Jovi, and Whitesnake's late 80s albums had clearly been absorbed by those concerned. The Bon Jovi influence is perhaps a little too evident on the title track with `Julie and Jimmy' being directly descended from Livin' On A Prayer's `Gina and Tommy'. That's what the execs wanted though... Overall, the sound is bigger and more epic than anything Europe had previously released. Kee Marcello's guitar playing shines through once again. His `euphoric' sound being evident throughout. Tracks like Halfway to Heaven, I'll Cry for You and Talk to Me really do showcase one of Europe's greatest guitar players - continent-wise that is. It's also good to hear John Leven's bass, always integral to Europe's sound, being given a little more prominence in the mix. Prisioners in Paradise is a polished record with plenty of high-points, not quite as consistent as the band's previous release, it definitely does not deserve to be interned in obscurity.

Be Here Now
Be Here Now
Price: £2.95

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Was There Then, 7 Jan. 2007
This review is from: Be Here Now (Audio CD)
2007 means the 10th anniversary year of Be Here Now. Of all the albums in Oasis's back catalogue, this divides opinion the most. Liam thinks it rocks; Noel can't stand it. The critics at the time of its release thought it met the hype; weeks later they were panning it. There are fans who were aghast at the tracklisting for Stop The Clocks (`where's D'You Know What I Mean and Stand By Me?'); others went along with the glib consensus that the first two albums saw Oasis's best work and much of what followed was of little consequence. Be Here Now is by far the heaviest Oasis recording; it's also excessive, overblown and unapologetic. Rightly so. It was the proper way to close the first chapter in the Oasis story. About crashing out of the Britpop party in style and flaunting the attributes which had made them top of the VIP list. It's not the perfect record (it's a little too long and the inclusion of a reprise of what became the longest number one in history is too much of a middle finger to the world), but it is an excellent record and Oasis didn't get it as right as this again till 2005's Don't Believe The Truth. The singles are era-defining. DYKWIM boasts the longest introduction to an Oasis track and, perhaps in a latent way, signified the anticipation which existed for the third offering from the Gallagher brothers and co. Stand By Me must be in any sensible person's top ten of greatest number twos in British chart history. The emotive lead from Noel; the trademark Liam vocals; Whitey's bustling drumming; the perfect video - epic is an over-used word but it doesn't really do this justice, truth be told. The fact that it didn't get to the top spot actually makes it more endearing. Noel, it should've been on the best of: along with Live Forever and Don't Look Back in Anger it's an `untouchable' in the collection. All Around the World is a track which can only be released once in a career and only if you're the biggest band in the country. The accompanying video was fittingly fulsome; and ironically, and maybe not altogether intentionally, `Scouse' in theme: the Beatles references are everywhere for sure, but did they really intend to mimic the infamous attire of the Liverpool `spice boys' from that anti-climactic '96 FA Cup Final? Either way, the rest here is no anti-climax. The drug-fuelled, loud, loud, I can multi-track more guitars than you, My Big Mouth is the closest Oasis ever got to heavy rock. The wistful Magic Pie and the `tender' (is it right to call an Oasis track `tender'?) Don't Go Away nuance the image of the Gallaghers as the epitome of 90's lad culture. The swagger and exuberance is still here in can loads though and is summed up by that anthem of youth I Hope, I Think, I Know. You had to `be there then' to appreciate the significance of this, but if any record deserves a fancy, multi-disc, multi-format 10th anniversary release, Be Here Now is the stand-out candidate.

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