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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 24 July 2003
The 3rd solo album from Tery Hall is released on Damon Albarn's Honest John label,who released Albarn's world music album 'Mali Music' last year. Long time friend Albarn encouraged Hall to make another solo album and it was Hall�s own growing interest in Jewish and Arabic music that led him to produce this multicultural diverse album that is very different to his previous solo albums,although not a million miles away from the sound of 'The Specials'. He probably did not have enough expertise in this area of music to produce the album himself,and so he eventually teamed up with former Fun-Da-Mental star Mushtaq, and brought in many Arabic, Jewish and Gypsy musicians to create a dazzling work in which Hall takes a back seat for much of the album, in much the same way Albarn did on Mali Music.His whispering Marc Almond-esque voice suits the hypnotic Middle Eastern sounds perfectly, and while Hall is obvious on the record it is almost perfect.The only times the quality drops is when Hall is absent,as the Arabic sounds and wailing become repetitive without Hall's fine voice present. It�s great to have one of Britain�s most distinctive singers back on what is his best work for many years.Lets all hope he can produce an official website as it is very difficult to find out what Hall is up to.
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My musical christening was granted to me by Terry Hall as the deadpan singer in The Specials and although it took some time for me to forgive him for breaking up the band the second Fun Boy Three album and first Colourfield album convinced me to put my trust in Terry and allow him to take me on whatever musical journey he saw fit. The second Colourfield LP shock my resolve but `Ultra Modern Nursery Rhymes' and `Vegas' steadied the ship and after `Home' and the fantastic `Laugh' I would have followed him anywhere.

This collaboration with Mushtaq on Damon Albarn's Honest Jon's world music record label seemed like a very interesting place to visit and after reading a number of favourable reviews I jumped on board. I hate to admit it but it seems my taste is more conservative than I thought and the traditional Jewish, Arabic and Gypsy musicians jar against my sensibilities and I do find it difficult to listen to this album. Although a very interesting place to visit I would hate to live here. Sorry.
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on 28 January 2004
Utter tosh?? Not at all. This CD needs to be viewed seperately to any Terry Hall release. It is simply music of the world played with no pretense & a lot of fun & gusto. Every song captures the smiles I'm sure the musicians had while recording them. My only quibble would be that the beat programming is a little limited & reminds me a little of The Gorillaz, who I didn't really want to hear in this recording. But, apart from that a wonderful feel-good piece of musical unity.
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on 3 October 2005
This album is the best thing I have listened to all year. It has been a long time since I felt as moved by music as I did by listening to this collection. The range of instuments is fascinating, the quality of the vocals is magnificent and the flow of tracks makes you feel you are on a musical tour. The more I listen to it the more I get from it - a truly spiritual and uplifting event. All I can say is - buy this CD - you won't be disappointed.
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on 22 July 2003
We all knew he could do it and here is the proof! Terry Hall has used all his talent and ingenuity (with a help from former Fun-da-Mental member Mushtaq and others) to produce an album that has everything. It's got the trademark Hall lyrics together with a mixture of some very interesting instrumental styles that make this album 'pop music' for a new generation. It's not World Music but music for the world. Buy it and see where it takes you.
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on 2 August 2003
Terry Hall and Mushtaq have created an anguished, haunting and yet spirited and uplifting response to the September 11th atrocities and the ensuing "war on terror". The songs are a sinuous blend of Arab and North African rhythms and Jewish melodies over laid with plaintive singing, rap,hip-hop beats, and ululations plus thought provoking lyrics delivered in
Hall's distinctive dead-pan vocal style.
Listening to the CD and thinking about the events that prompted it reminded me that, at the end of the day, whether you are American, Afghan, Iraqi,Iranian, British, whatever, what we want most from life is to bring our children up in safety and security with food on the table and a roof over our heads. Why does that seem like it is asking too much?
If music really could heal the world these songs would be one hell of an elastoplast!
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on 5 November 2006
This is such a fantastic album it HAS to be listened to. Be prepared for something a little different, open your ears and experience a totally new sound. Never mind the reviews complaining that it doesn't sound like Terry Hall blah blah... I came to this album with no preconceived ideas and it has barely been out of my cd player in months.
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on 12 January 2008
This is a beautiful, sophisticated and intelligent collaboration. Terry Hall's trademark understated style blends effortlessly with the talents of Mushtaq, and those of musicians who would probably be classified under the 'World Music' genre, which of course does not do justice to the wealth of talent and diversity of music that exists outside the mainstream west or within this album.

It has an undeniably Middle Eastern, North African and eastern European flavour, and yet it is totally contemporary in every way. It is without doubt one of the most successful crossover albums I've heard. Its sophistication remains uncontrived and the fusion of styles doesn't compromise the integrity of the diverse artists or styles of music involved.

It's quite simply a wonderful collaboration that should have received more publicity when it was released, and in the ongoing political climate, its subtle and humane message remains as poignant as ever.

The album art is as clever and understated as the production (a reminder of the inherent injustice at the heart of western foreign policy and the so-called 'war on terror') and the use of Arabic text in the lyrics section reflects the integrity and multicultural nature of this quite exceptional album.
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I took a chance on this album, not having been particularly moved by anything since The Specials utterly seminal Ghost Town. You'll either get it or not, love it or loathe it. Thank goodness Damon Albarn's 'Honest Jons' label made this available. I love it.
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on 12 November 2009
This album is very special, it's one of the finest things I've heard in the last five years or so, and is one of my all-time favourite lps. My knowledge of Terry Hall's discography is admittedly a little patchy, I eagerly followed the exploits of Fun Boy Three back in the day, but my collection contains only best-ofs of The Specials, Fun Boy Three and Terry solo, so I can't really say with any qualification that this is his finest hour, but I suspect that none of his other albums would top this one for me.

The Hour Of Two Lights is simply bristling with imagery, encounters and sensations. It's gritty and passionate and alive, it's audacious, and ambitious in its intentions. Terry Hall, in concert with the considerable talents of Mushtaq, and vibrant East European, North African and Middle Eastern musicians, has acheived something truly triumphant.

I'm no stranger to east meets west fusions, but this album has to be one of the most satisfying that I have heard. Certainly an element of the appeal comes from the echoes in this music of Terry Hall's days in the Specials and, more distinctly, in Fun Boy Three. The Lunatics (Have Taken Over The Asylum) was one of my favourite 80's singles, and I could see an update of it fitting in very comfortably here. Meanwhile, Stand Together sounds appealingly reminiscent of Massive Attack, and Ten Eleven, featuring an Algerian rapper and a morose Damon Albarn over an addictive hybrid bouncy East-European-folk/Middle-Eastern-pop-ish backdrop, is simply delicious.

There is something unholy and yet at the same time passionately celebratory of our common humanity in these songs, to me that's an element as key to the success of the album as the individual contributions of the musicians. Some Terry Hall fans apparently find this album too far out and they aren't going to gobble this up as eagerly as I do, but I have to say that whilst he appears to take a back seat on some tracks, and vocals come from a variety of singers, his vision for this project is an essential element never far from the surface.

Every track here is a delight, the massed musicians evoking sacred space, buoyant mayhem, and human robustness in the face of adversity. When he sings, Terry's dead-pan voice adds dimensions simply through its juxtaposition to all the swirls of strings, rattling percussion, woodwinds, accordians and all, something familiar and black and white amidst the startling colours from the real world beyond.
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