Learn more Shop now Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Amazon Music Unlimited for Family Shop now Fitbit

  • Knife
  • Customer Reviews

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
Format: MP3 Download|Change

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

Knife - the proverbial difficult second album. The success of High Land, Hard Rain led a big budget from Warner Bros., so producers John Brand and Bernie Clarke were replaced by Dire Straits' Mark Knopfler, Eastbourne was replaced by New Orleans and the acoustic guitars largely replaced by electric; this resulted inAztec Camera's follow-up to their highly rated debut dividing critics and fans alike. I bought my first copy of this album just less than ten years ago, when I decided to complete my Roddy Frame album collection and it was one of the last Aztec Camera releases I owned, purely because I had been put off by some of the reviews, especially those which compared Knife with the debut album I loved so much. Unfortunately, comparisons are inevitable when an artist like Frame finds so much success with their first record, but when you stop comparing Knife with High Land, Hard Rain, that's when you can really appreciate his second offering. No, it really isn't as good as their first release and the polished production means that it seems to lose a little bit of the heart-on-his-sleeve honesty that made High Land, Hard Rain aim straight for the heart of the listener, but as a pop album with plenty of great lyrics, memorable tunes and Frame's winning delivery, Knife still has a lot to offer.

Knife's energy and positivity bursts into life on the first track, Still On Fire, which announces itself with a guitar riff similar to The Jackson Five's I Want You Back and David Ruffy giving an Oblivious-style performance on the drums. The shimmering soul-influenced pop of Just Like The USA is catchy enough, but misses a certain depth both in terms of music and lyrics to raise it above being just an average Frame album track. However, much better is Head Is Happy (Heart's Insane), a beautifully understated love song that features a winning chorus and excellent production; when, after the bridge, the piano arpeggio is chiming away and the brass section harmonising in the background, there is such an overwhelming warmth to the music, like a gentle breeze on a summer's day. Complete with a classic Roddy Frame chorus, full of melody and swelling emotions, The Back Door To Heaven is an immensely likeable love song and All I Need Is Everything, with its foot-tapping rhythmic guitars, steel drum/marimba style synths and the simple two line chorus, “I wish myself into your arms/To know that all I need is everything” is beautifully emotionally succinct.

Despite being perfectly pleasant and there being some nice instrumental performances on it, Backwards And Forwards struggles to shine, whereas the acoustic The Birth Of The True is possibly the only song on Knife that really could have comfortably been slotted onto High Land, Hard Rain; I just love the lines “I'd sack the world and make a second start/I'd sack my head until I found my heart”. The album finishes with the nine minute title track and, in all honesty, despite being very easy on the ears, it is more than a little self-indulgent and doesn't have enough ideas to fill that amount of time without boredom setting in. The bonus tracks on the edition of this album I own (the 2012 Rhino release) are largely good, especially the acoustic version of Van Halen's Jump and the live recordings taken from the Dominion Theatre in October 1984. Mattress Of Wire, Walk Out To Winter, The Bugle Sounds Again and The Birth Of The True are particular highlights from what sounds like it was a wonderful show and these bonus tracks, along with all the photographs, artwork and interesting essay by Terry Staunton, really add extra value to this single disc re-issue. The only fly in the ointment is the Simon Boswell remix of All I Need Is Everything, which contains the usual eighties excesses tagged onto these unnecessary exercises in tinkering around with something that isn't broken.

I'm going to go back and make one final comparison between Knife and High Land, Hard Rain, if I may, because I think this one actually matters. Many of Roddy's songs on his debut had a theme of bitterness, lost love and uncertain emotions, whereas Knife has all the hallmarks of being in love running through it. If the debut focussed on loss, Knife is full of love, lust and longing; even the music on Knife betrays a happier frame of mind. Who knows what kind of album Roddy may have written had his first album been ignored and his life not taken off with such an upward trajectory, but Knife is the resulting album from the life changes he experienced. I think it is, on the whole, a fine piece of work that is probably a lot easier to hear with the benefit of knowing Frame's entire catalogue up to this point and being able to have that kind of context and perspective. How I may have felt if I'd have waited to eagerly buy this in 1984 after adoring the first album so much, I can't tell you – it's entirely possible that I may have been disappointed with Knife. As it is, I think that, although it is possibly a lesser album in Roddy's repertoire, it is a more than enjoyable and worthy instalment in the Aztec Camera back catalogue.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 1 February 2014
Years later it still sounds like a work of genius. What a shame you morphed into a David Classify-like schmoozer in later life!
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 19 February 2016
Following the success of their lo-fi debut, High Land Hard Rain, East Kilbride's Aztec Camera took stock, and decided to recruit a big name producer for their sophomore effort.
Their choice of Dire Straits' frontman Mark Knopfler alienated many of the band's hardcore fans, as they saw him as the antithesis of their heroes.
Wasn't he a bit commercial, a bit corporate, a bit obvious?

They needn't have worried.
While Knife marks a definite change in the sound of Aztec Camera, the production is entirely appropriate for the material written by Roddy Frame.
This is a record packed with top pop thrills, from first track Still on Fire right through to The Birth of the True, a live favourite of Frame's to this day.

Closing the album is the title track Knife, a heavier, guitar overdub laden affair, with Frame displaying all his axe-wielding talents, without sacrificing his melodic sensibilities.

A winning combination.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 16 July 2001
Another classic album from Roddy Frame. I have just started replacing all my old vinyl copies with CDs and this is just as good as I remembered it. From the single "High Land Hard Rain" to the beautiful "Knife" this album is a must.
0Comment| 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 15 July 2010
Knife is the second album from British band Aztec Camera. Produced by Mark Knopfler (of Dire Straits fame) it is a cheery little pop album, filled with sweet tunes and catchy arrangements. The obviously 80s sound also gives it a nice, quaint feel. However don't expect High Land, Hard Rain part 2 here. It takes time to seep into your veins like a mature full bodied wined. Not always palatable but it becomes an acquired taste over time.

The debut was a little gem of a record for sure, "knife" on the other hand is the lesser record but hardly the disaster that many claimed . The record has mostly good songs, but perhaps knopflers tendency to add lots of keyboards to the groups sound makes Frames songs sound a little too chintzy rather than bringing atmosphere to proceedings.

Certainly the indie folk charm of the 1st album has been replaced by more electric guitars and funkier riffs. It is inevitably disappointing when an artist who has debuted with a precocious, distinctive, and fully-formed sound follows up with an album that is sub-par. Whereas High Land, Hard Rain, Aztec Camera's debut, was a breath of exceptionally fresh Scottish air, with Roddy Frame hitting on all cylinders, Knife is by comparison a lethargic, mediocre collection of songs. No where near a breezy and infectious as their previous offering. Perhaps its unfair to make so much comparison to their previous recorded but they set the benchmark high. As with most bands the sophomore record is an attempt to follow up on their debut and keep the momentum. But where as debuts are the result of years of unseen work follow ups are more of a contractual obligation. The only exception to this rule is Echo and the Bunnymen's Heaven Up Here

The first six tracks on Knife each sound like rejects from High Land, and Mark Knopfler's production only accentuates Frame's taste for rather saccharine arrangements and melodies. A year and a half passed and their delightful debut "High Land, Hard Rain". By now their valour had turned to thoughtful mood, the dashing jungle pop began to give his way to moderate folk ballad rock. Anyway their sound still reminds about the music of such romantic and sophisticated bands of that Prefab Sprout & Crowded House and not to dissimilar to Shack who were clearly influenced by Roddy and pals. But that is really not such a bad thing.

Knife is the kind of record you can keep on your shelf for many, many years, always confident that every time you get around to picking it up and putting it on it will always sound nice-rather than brilliant. That is a lot more than can be said for most music. Aztec Camera took big chances on Knife, embracing country and R&B while sugar coating the jangling guitars of High Land, Hard Rain with keyboards and horns adding to the group's formula.. All these songs are the work of lead singer Roddy Frame. Frame is one of those singer-songwriters who, for whatever reason, have an ear for melody. While some people will torture themselves to come up with a semblance of a melody, others just have a magical ability to produce them from nowhere. But like the Jam and Paul Weller it can also be their undoing. Bands need to be a cohesive unit, comrades where the sums of its parts are equal to the total value. All for one and one for all, but Frame like Weller have a tendency to be a bit a indulgent in places.

However we must remember this young prodigy was only 18 or so when High Land, Hard Rain was released and 20 or so when knife was released. Roddy Frame is Aztec Camera. A founding member of the band, he has been the one constant factor as quite a few musicians have come and gone since the debut record in 1983

Three Stars are awarded because its not imediatly acessable, But its one you won't condem to the boot sale
0Comment| 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 16 October 2014
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Need customer service? Click here

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)