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Old 06-02-2011, 06:54 PM   #21 (permalink)
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The wake of Magellan --- Savatage --- 1997 (Atlantic)

Savatage started life as a standard metal band, but after vocalist Jon Oliva saw “The Phantom of the Opera” he decided to change the band's direction towards a more progressive feel, and albums like “Gutter ballet” and “Streets: A Rock Opera” reflect this. Recorded in 1997, “The wake of Magellan” turned out to be their penultimate album, as a few years previous they had formed the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, which has proved so popular and successful that they are now concentrating on that project, and no new Savatage albums have been released since 2001's “Poets and madmen”.

A concept album, TWoM is based on two real-life events, and basically follows the journey of a Spanish sailor who has decided to end his life by sailing out to sea and sinking his ship. On the way though he encounters a man adrift in the ocean, this being apparently a reference to the three castaways thrown overboard by the captain of the Maersk Dubai in 1996. Doing his utmost to save the man and take him back to shore, the sailor is left with a new appreciation for life. The album also loosely includes the tragic story of Irish journalist Veronica Guerin, who battled to expose the criminal drug lords in Irish society and was killed by them as a consequence, but whose work opened the floodgates for these people to be brought to justice and properly tackled by the authorities.

Opening with a piano instrumental, “The ocean”, the power soon kicks in as the band launch into “Welcome”, virtually a second intro in its own right, with its almost “Pinball Wizard”-esque intro, guitars crashing like breakers on the shore as the song takes wing. It's a short song, just over two minutes, and thunders into “Turns to me”, which starts slowly but builds into a monster of a track, six minutes long and the first “epic” on the album. The vocal power of Zachary Stevens, who would leave the band after this album, are given full vent on this song, and the keyboards of Jon Oliva squeal and keep pace while the pounding drums of Jeff Plate paint a background against which the song gallops along. The central theme of the album surfaces in “Turns to me”, and will return in other tracks, subtly altered, giving the true “concept album” feel. The track goes through changes itself, moving from power rocker to introspective passages, through guitar solos and back into power mode as it thunders towards its conclusion. The solo by Chris Caffrey/ Al Pitrelli on axe duties takes the song to its end, as it fades and “Morning sun” begins.

This too is a song shaped by changes, as it begins easily, with acoustic guitar and a calm vocal suddenly grabbed by the throat as Plate's drums hammer out the beat and the guitars rev up and Stevens growls “I can't wait for the morning sun/ As I stand with the sea/ And the ocean she understands/ Just the man I could be.” This is another long song, just short of six minutes, with again another great guitar solo halfway through, and something of an axe duel between the two guitarists; indeed it ends on a guitar solo, kicking into “Another way”, recalling Metallica at their best, as Jon Oliva takes over lead vocals, on perhaps one of the heaviest tracks on the album, heavy in a Led Zep/Dio way: crunching, grinding, Oliva growling the vocals in sharp contrast to the more melodic voice of Stevens. Definite echoes of Jimmy Page's “Come with me” in part of the melody.

Things continue heavy, and turn sort of Thin Lizzy-ish (circa “Thunder and lightning”) for “Blackjack Guillotine”, before Oliva again takes over on vocals for one of the standout tracks, “Paragons of innocence”, which begins with a “Tubular Bells” intro on the piano, which keeps up behind the grinding guitars and thumping drums, with Oliva singing “Paragons of innocence/ Questioning of your intent/ Never quite sure what you meant/ From the other side / Moments on the carousel/ Must admit we ride it well/ And the horses never tell/ That no-one leaves alive.” Apparently the new Pendragon album features (gasp!) a rap, but here Savatage do it so much better, and almost 15 years earlier as Oliva rattles off without taking a breath: “There always comes a time/ When you do what you want to do/ You know you shouldn't do it/ But you do it anyway/ And when he had that time/ When he knew what he wanted to/Hequickly placed his order/ Though he never thought he'd pay/ But the lines turned to lies/ And the lies turned to tangles/ And you're pale as a cadaver/ Though you think it doesn't show/ So you live with the lies/ And the friends that it gathers /But somewhere in your heart you know you/ Got to let it /Got to let it go.”

The instrumental “Underture” recalls the central theme of the album begun on “Welcome” and “Turns to me”, with at times Queen-esque guitar, while the last instrumental passage, “The Storm”, is quite amazing in its versatility, but it's the title track that steals pride of place on the album, another six-minute monster, tracing the evolution of the theme of the album, essentially covering the whole journey of the central character in one track, as Stevens cries “I believe what the prophets said/ That the oceans hold their dead/ But at night when the waves are near/ They whisper and I hear.”

The longest track on the album is also the last. Clocking in at a massive eight minutes and five seconds, it brings everything back full circle as the sailor, having rescued the drowning stowaway, leaves his ship and walks along the shoreline, contemplating life and no longer thinking of suicide. He recalls his journey: “The wind touched the sail/ And the ship moved the ocean/ The wind from the storm set the course she would take/ From a journey to nowhere towards a soul on the ocean/ From the wake of Magellan/ To Magellan's wake.” --- to his sudden realisation that he wants to live: MUST live, in order to save this man, and his desperate plea to God --- “Could you keep our lives together/ Safely back onto the shore/ Could you grant this last ilusion/ Only this and nothing more?” --- till he is safely back on land with his rescued friend --- and so to the closing lines of the song, and the album, and the resolution of the story.

“Standing once more by a boat on the river/ He pushes it off while he stays on the land/ And seeing the hourglass now so much clearer/ Which someone had refilled by hand/ And somewhere that boat's now adrift on the ocean/ The mast at full sail and there's no-one on board/ The hourglass no longer sits by the ocean/ Only his footprints all alone on the shore/ And soon they're no more.”

It's a rare and difficult thing for an established heavy metal band to make the transition to progressive metal, or rock, though some claim the quintessential metal band, Iron Maiden, are doing just that. However, here I believe Savatage got it just right. The album is still heavy, with great melodies, vocal harmonies and screeching guitar solos, yet deep, thoughtful lyrics and contemplative piano work which all goes together to make this a truly excellent effort, and well worth listening to. At some point, I'll review an album by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, to compare the two as it were incarnations of the band, but for now, this stands as a testament to their expertise.

TRACKLISTING

1. The ocean
2. Welcome
3. Turns to me
4. Morning sun
5. Another way
6. Blackjack guillotine
7. Paragons of innocence
8. Complaint in the system (Veronica Guerin)
9. Underture
10. The wake of Magellan
11. Anymore
12. The storm
13. The hourglass
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Old 06-02-2011, 10:32 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Very awesome write up Trollheart. The only Savatage album I have is "Dead Winter Dead", which honestly didn't really grab my attention. But your excitement over "The Wake of Magellan" and the vids you posted got me hoping this one will be a bit more enthralling. The idea that the entire album tells a shorty is pretty interesting too. Downloaded and will be listened to very soon!

I love Trans-Siberian Orchestra, so I look forward to your future review of one of their albums.
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Old 06-03-2011, 12:42 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Hey nsw, thanks a buncheroonie for commenting! Very much appreciated. I can see from the views that people are at least reading what I write, but it's nice when people comment (you hear that, all you people out in Music Banter Land? Comment! Come on! Let me know what you think!), the moreso of course when it's positive.

I have all of Savatage's albums but to date have only listened to the Wake of Magellan: the rest are on the list (like about a thousand million other albums yet to be listened to --- curse this intenet! ), but I would definitely recommend listening to TWoM if you like good rock and prog rock. Great album.

By the way, LOVE your avatar! Poor Jason!

Thanks and don't be a stranger...
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Old 06-03-2011, 02:35 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Mind bomb --- The The --- 1989 (Epic)



If there's one man who knows his politics, and isn't afraid to show it in his music, it's Matt Johnson. The driving force behind uncatagorisable band The The, Johnson scored a massive (and largely unexpected, one would assume) hit with his previous album, the million-selling “Infected”, which spawned four chart singles and made being into The The “cool”. This fad was soon dropped of course, as fads always are, and the glitterati moved on, to pursue the Next Big Thing. But Johnson's work stands as a testament not only to the man's vision and prowess as a songwriter and musician, but to his dogged refusal to shy away from the more controversial subjects in his music. In short, if Johnson felt strongly about something, he wrote and sang about it, and to hell with airplay,

“Mind bomb” was The The's third official album (Johnson had released a debut in 1981 called “Blue burning soul”, but it is generally not regarded as an offical The The album), and after the garish and even nightmarish artwork on previous opus “Infected”, the sleeve of this album was blank, a white canvas with the title in red underneath a simple black and white photograph of Matt's head, he looking every inch the nasty skinhead, a contemptuous smirk on his lips, proving once and for all that you cannot judge a book by its cover.

In many ways, “Mind bomb” carries on the themes explored on “Infected” --- alienation, despair, desperation and contempt, along with a healthy dose of savage sarcasm and satirical wit --- but in a different vein to the rather dancy previous album. The opener, “Good morning beautiful”, starts with what sounds to be an Islamic chant --- you know the sort, the ones they call from the minarets for prayers (apologies to any practicing muslims if it isn't, but I don't know too much about Islam. Enlighten me through these pages if you wish), before a solitary piano takes up the rather mournful tune, joined shortly afterwards by a saxophone, and Johnson's voice, dripping with anger and barely-restrained violence, snarls “I know that God lives in everybody's soul/ And the only devil in your world/ Lives in the human heart.” Okay, “Love me do” it's not gonna be!

The song is slow-paced, like a fuse slowly burning down, and you know that when it reaches the end there's going to be one hell of an explosion! As the track progresses, drumbeat keeping steady rhythm like the drum on a slave ship, Matt's voice gets more and more angry, as if he's losing patience with someone who just will not see, can't understand what he's talking about, what he's trying to tell them. “Who is it?” he asks, “that can turn your blood into spirit/ And your spirit into blood?/ Who is it who can reach down from above/ And set your souls ablaze with love?/ Or fill you with the insanity of violence/ And its brother, lust?” The basic melody remains the same through the entire song, which is no mean feat, considering it's over seven minutes long! Eventually he gives up, snarling in contempt “Oh children, you still got a lot to ****ing learn/ The only path to Heaven is via Hell!” The song ends on a very ominous bass piano note, and my own personal belief is that Matt is playing God, literally, in this song: he is looking down on the world from Heaven (or, according to Homer Simpson, his palace on the moon!) and wondering when mankind will grow up and realise its potential: or will it just destroy itself? Powerful stuff, and a great opener to the album.

Matt shows his playful side next, with the frankly hilariously dark intro to “Armageddon days are here (again)”, recalling the Sweet from the intro to “Ballroom Blitz”, as he asks “Are you ready Jesus? Buddha? Mohammed? Well alright fellas, let's go!” Even the drumbeat recalls the Sweet's classic, as Johnson launches into a tale of the state the world is in, an ominous hum behind him like the Welsh Male Voice Choir is coming up from the rear. “Armageddon” carries some fantastic lines, including incredible foresight in lyrics like “Islam is rising, the Christians mobilising/ The world is on its elbows and knees” --- and remember, this is 1989, 12 years before nine-eleven! Johnson digs at Thatcher too, recalling the Falklands War with “You watch the ships sail out of the harbour/ And the bodies come floating back.”

But the best line in the song is about halfway through, when he snaps “If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today/ He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA .../ But God didn't build himself that throne/ God doesn't live in Israel or Rome/ God doesn't belong to the Yankee Dollar/ God doesn't plant the bombs for Hezz'bollah/ God doesn't even go to church!” The tempo of the track is about mid-paced, a toe-tapper apart from the lyrical material, with strings section adding to the eastern flavour of the song, and taking it to its frenetic conclusion.

And with a backdrop of rolling thunder, and an evangelical voice shouting “As long as God gives us everything we want, we love Him!” we're into one of the sharpest of the tracks on the album, “The violence of truth”, with organ and harmonica (organ and mouth-organ?) introducing a tough, again mid-paced track focussing on the evils in the world. The unmistakable guitar of ex-Smiths Johnny Marr take the track into its second minute before Johnson opens his mouth, and asks “While the ******s of this world are starving/ With their mouths wide open/ What is it that turns the coins we throw at them/ Into worthless little tokens?” The album is a good rocker, and if you ignore the lyrics, you can dance to it, if you want to, but it's as a political statement that “Mind bomb” really comes into its own. Hey, if this guy ran for election, I'd vote for him! Course, I'm Irish, but it's the thought that counts!

I'm no big Sinead O'Connor fan, but she puts in a star turn in this duet with Matt on “Kingdom of rain”, the ultimate anti-love song. Carried on a wave of guitar and piano, with a throbbing bass keeping time with an almost mocking organ, this is the song which possibly prompted Jon Bon Jovi to write “This ain't a love song”. If you've ever had a bad break-up (and who hasn't?) this is the song for you. More a revenge/told-you-so song than a ballad, lines like “You were the girl I wanted to cry with/ You were the girl I wanted to die with/ You were the boy who turned into a man/ Broke my heart and let go of my hand” show the sentiments behind this song. This is love in all its nasty glory, when the hearts and flowers have faded, when the kisses are no longer warm, when the sparkle in the eyes has dimmed, when, in effect, the honeymoon is over. Sinead sings “I just wanted someone to caress/ This damsel in distress,” while Matt moans “But as silent as the car lights/ Move across the room/ As cold as our bodies/ Silhouetted by the moon/ And I would lie awake and wonder/ Is it just me?/ Or is this the way that love is supposed to be?” But the end result is unavoidable: “Our bed is empty, the fire is out/ And all the love we've got to give/ Has all squirted out.” Do NOT listen to with your new girl or boyfriend, you have been warned!

The next track up could be sung by the Beautiful South, it's just that boppy and poppy, and was in fact a hit single from the album, but don't be fooled. Look deeper, listen to the lyric, and you'll see it's just “Heartland” from “Infected” dressed up. It's another song about poverty, destitution and an uncaring government. “The Beat(en) Generation” is absolutely the most danceable and catchy tune on the album, but even here Johnson does not take a break from his urgent preaching about the state of the world. I had a workmate once who, when this was in the charts, would go around humming the tagline, but knew nothing further of the lyric, much less what the song was about. A danger always in catching the attention of the record-buying public, who can tend to ignore the deeper message in a song in favour of its beat, but then, Matt has to eat, so we'll have to let him have that one!

Sadly, the remaining three tracks do not live up to the incredible standard set by the five that went before, and I find them somewhat unremarkable, especially the closer, “Beyond love”, which really is something of an attempt I think to reduce the dark, desperate, almost suicidal tone of the album, and which for me does not work. Ah well, it's a rare album that has no flaws, eh?

There's no doubting that the musicians on this album are accomplished (who would deny it of Johnny Marr?), but there are no mad guitar solos, no long keyboard intros, and in fact in many ways the music is only there of necessity, to form a backdrop to the lyrics, the ideas and the thoughts of the album's creator. It would not be a stretch to say this could in fact be spoken as poetry, which is not to take away from the music or the players, but the heart of “Mind bomb” IS the lyrics, and if you were to somehow strip out the vocals and listen to it karaoke-style, you would probably think it's an okay album, but it's not the juggernaut that I write of here without the deep and meaningful, and intensely personal lyrics that Johnson uses, like Doctor Frankenstein using electricty, to bring his project to life. It really is an album that has to be listened to, and not just in an offhand way, You'll get so much more from it it you immerse yourself in it totally, and yes, as the title suggests, if you sit back and allow it to, this album will blow your mind!

TRACKLISTING

1. Good morning beautiful
2. Armageddon days are here (again)
3. The violence of truth
4. Kingdom of rain
5. The beat(en) generation
6. August and September
7. Gravitate to me
8. Beyond love



Suggested further listening: "Soul mining", "Infected", "Dusk"
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Old 06-04-2011, 02:13 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Raingods with zippos --- Fish --- 2003 (Roadrunner)

I truly believe Fish will never equal, let alone transcend, his debut solo album, 1990's “Vigil in a wilderness of mirrors”, perhaps not only because it's a cracker of an album, but also because it was his decision to leave Marillion that alienated many of his former fans, and they perhaps wanted to see him fall flat on his face, which he totally failed to do. But if there's a second-greatest (so far) Fish album, it's this one. It also features Steven Wilson on guitar --- how cool is that?

The album is essentially divided into two parts, the first being made up of 6 original songs and one cover version, with part two being devoted to a single composition, broken into six parts, and clocking in at a Grendel-busting (in-joke for Marillion fans there!) twenty-four minutes. It's this latter that truly defines the album. Without the epic, “Raingods with zippos” would be a good album, but not overly brilliant, and although there are excellent songs making up the “first half” of the album, it really only comes into its own, and becomes a true masterpiece of progressive rock, with the addition of “Plague of ghosts”. But more of that later.

The album kicks off extremely gently, with a lilting piano intro to “Tumbledown”, the opening track, lulling the listener into perhaps a false sense of security as they settle down for what is expected to be a nice ballad to introduce the album. However, soon this belief is shattered, and the track kicks into gear, with thumping drums, churning guitars and stabbing keyboards. It bops along at a decent pace for most of the time, only slowing again as it comes to an end, leaving as it came, on a gentle piano outro. Although there is no actual title track, the phrase is revisited a few times on the album, and here for the first time as Fish sings [i]“Raingods with zippos/ A tin man's bleeding heart/ An end with no beginning/ It's just a race without a start.”[/] Don't ask me what the song is about: Fish writes great lyrics, but half the time I haven't got a clue what he's on about!

“Mission statement” keeps the pace going, bopping along at a nice lick. It's okay but nothing special, sort of reminds me of Lizzy's “Leave this town”, and it's followed by a truly beautiful ballad. The bittersweet story of a love affair coming to an end, “Incomplete” features a duet between Fish and a lady called Elizabeth Antwi, about whom I know nothing, but she has a very luxuriant voice which complements Fish's well, as he sings “We got a hundred and forty stations on satellite/Beaming them down to our home/ But I'm watching you” and Elizabeth replies “I got a half a billion bills to pay/ You never hear a word I say.” It's the classic tale of a breakdown in communication in a marriage or affair, and harks back to Fish's early days with Marillion, where he penned on “Punch and Judy” the lines “What ever happened to pillow fights?/ What ever happened to jeans so tight, Friday night?/ What ever happened to Lovers' Lane?/ What ever happened to passion games?/ Sunday walks in the pouring rain?” In the same way here, each of the protagonists are trying to figure out where it has all gone wrong.

[i]“If we could only bring those days back”[/], sings Fish wistfully, “When there were never wounds to heal/ When everything was perfect/ And the dreams we had were real.” It's a familiar story, and the song is carried on acoustic guitar, with heartfelt mandolin played by Bruce Watson (Big Country) and the stunning string arrangements of Davey Crichton laying a heartbreaking backdrop to this tale of love gone bad. It's followed by “Tilted cross”, almost a ballad in its own right, but this is a song about memories and markers we leave along the road of our lives. It's a gentle, again almost acoustic song with some great harmonies from Nicola and Tony King (are they related? I don't know) as Fish sings “I left my love in a grave and I marked it/ With a cross that stands so straight and true/ It's not alone in the shade of the valley/ They're what remains of the ones we once knew.” The song keeps the same basic melody throughout, and the tempo doesn't lift above the leisurely; it's a relaxing song, half-ballad I guess.

I've always been a firm believer that if a songwriter is accomplished enough he or she should have no truck with cover versions. Okay, maybe live, or on a greatest hits package, but come on! I buy Fish albums for Fish songs, not covers! So it will come as no surprise that I will be glossing over the inclusion of the Alex Haley standard “Faith healer” here. It's not to say it's a bad version, but I just feel it unfairly takes the place of another original composition that could have been included on the album.

The “first part” of the album then comes to a gentle end with “Rites of passage”, another ballad, with some great lines --- Fish is one of the masters of sharp satire and sarcasm, so lines like “Living with you is like being parked/ On double yellow lines/ Waiting to be towed away/ I'll pay the fine/ And I'll be back” fit in really well to this gentle but acid ballad. He sings “You knew that it was wrong/ And you think that saying sorry/ Is gonna make it seem all right,” A truly mournful violin carries the chorus side of the song, joined halfway through by sad keyboards that manage to convey the slow breaking of a heart. The song fades out on an absolutely gorgeous piano outro, lasting almost two and a half minutes out of the over seven-minute track. It also serves as something of an intro to what is to come.

Sprawling over a massive 24 minutes and 26 seconds, Fish's magnum opus, “Plague of ghosts”, has to be heard to be believed. Starting with “Old haunts”, swirling keys and synths set the scene as Fish wails “I found a home in the darkness”. This is the introduction to the song proper, and as such only lasts just over three minutes before the percussion kicks in to take us to part II, “Digging deep”, a funky, down-in-the-dirt rocker, with Steven Wilson's guitar taking charge and the vocal split between singing and a spoken, almost poetic declamation by Fish, with lines like “We watched an insect stray to the edge of its world/ A lily pad stretched over a green mirror/ In which the ghost carp swirl/ Like clouds before the storm/ This is the season of the rains/ This is incoming.”

The whole structure of PoG gives me the idea of a man who has become fed up with his life, and gone into the jungle to try and find himself. Immersing himself in the wildlife there, he finds it much easier to stay there: things are simpler, and he realises he really doesn't want to go back. This is definitely a follow-on from the conversation and break-up in “Rites of passage”, so much so that that song could almost be included in the whole “Plague of ghosts”, though it is cited as a separate song. Hey, I guess “Incomplete” could be part of that story, too. And “Tilted cross”, come to think of it...

Part III is called “Chocolate frogs” (don't ask!) and is split into two parts, the first a narrative, Attenborough-like, of the wildlife, while the synths and keyboards keep a muted hum, almost like they're waiting, waiting for something. Then Fish sings what sounds like an old Scottish nursery rhyme: “A heid (sic) full of chocolate frogs/ A pocketful of rush/ A skinful of shrapnel/ And a skinful of bush/ An eyeful of the future/ And a bellyful of the past/ Beautiful the present/ When you know it cannae (sic) last”.

This then powers into the denouement of the piece, part IV, “Waving at stars”, where the man thinks hard about the choices he has made, and wonders if perhaps this is not the way to go? Piano takes the tune directly into its core, its identity if you will, part V, “Raingods dancing”. The theme turns somewhat ominous for a moment, before the piano tinkles out and Fish muses “Empty playgrounds, empty bars/ I can't remember how it was before the flood/ When all I really had to do was recognise/ The love that's trapped inside.” He seems to be contemplating suicide, as the music swirls around him like mad dervishes, urging him on, and he doesn't know where to. “Raingods with zippos” he sings sadly, “A tin man rusts away/ And slowly falls apart/ Raingods with zippos/ And all he leaves behind/ A bleeding, broken heart.”

Finally, Part VI concludes the opus, as “Wake up call (Make it happen)” brings hope into the man's life, as he wakes (has he dreamed all of this?) beside his sleeping wife, and decides/hopes to give their relationship another try. The piano is brighter, happier, and the ensemble band carry the song to its hopeful conclusion as Fish sings”I can make it happen if I want to/ Make it happen if I try/ Forgive, forget. Forever/ Never means as much as it does today.” He does however realise there are no easy answers, as he asks his sleeping wife “When I wake up/ Will you be there?/ It can never be the same/ If we can take our lives slowly/ Step be step, we can be dancing in the rain.”

So in the end it's a journey, from anger and remorse and heartache, through self-doubt, self-absorption and indulgence to realisation and in the end catharsis and rebirth. Or not. Maybe it's just a hell of a good album. Either way, I'd be very surprised if anyone who listened to this recording did not enjoy it. Definitely one of the fishy one's finest.
TRACKLISTING

1. Tumbledown
2. Mission statement
3. Incomplete
4. Tilted cross
5. Faith healer
6. Rites of passage
7. PLAGUE OF GHOSTS (I) Old haunts (ii) Digging deep (iii) Chocolate frogs (iv)Waving at stars (v) Raingods dancing (vi) Wake up call (Make it happen)


Suggested further listening: "Vigil in a wilderness of mirrors", "Internal exile", "Sunsets on empire", "Field of crows"
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Old 06-05-2011, 11:35 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Default Still to come, later in the programme...

As mentioned already, I will be introducing some new elements into my journal, of which “Spinning the Wheel” and "Taking Centre Stage" will be two, but I will also be starting “Random Track of the Day”, in which I pick a track at random from my collection and tell you about it and upload it --- could be good, could be great, could be bad, could be something I haven't even listened to yet! Also I'll be taking some of my favourite tracks and mixing them together so that they all flow one into the other, and uploading that to the site, while also explaining what's in it and how the tracks merge together. That will be called Ten from Trollheart, as I'll be mixing (you guessed it!) ten tracks in each file.

As ever, comment and discussion is invited. If you like/hate any of these new sections, do please let me know. More sections and features will be added as they come to me in feverish drug-induced dreams, providing the King of the Potato People lets me....
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Old 06-05-2011, 06:06 PM   #27 (permalink)
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I've heard the classic Springsteen albums but I like the 1975-85 live set more, somehow it comes alive more when live.
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Old 06-11-2011, 07:54 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Oh there's no doubt Springsteen is at his best when live. I too have the boxset and though I don't get to listen to it very often (it's on vinyl and my record player took a header off my shelf last year, never replaced it!) it is a joy to experience.

The whole "live vs studio" thing will actually be covered by me in some depth in an upcoming entry, watch out for it....
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Old 06-12-2011, 07:41 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Default A note to whoever....

Anyone who has read my previous reviews will note, from here on in, a marked difference in those that come after. As I am not really qualified to properly critique musical performances, and as I have never been totally comfortable passing judgement upon someone for doing something I can't, my reviews will from now on concentrate more on the lyrics, themes and concepts of the albums, trying to get inside the writers' heads and explain what the albums are about, or at least, what they seem to me to be about.

I will of course still refer to the playing --- you couldn't review an album without some sort of reference to the instruments and how they're used --- but to a much lesser extent. After all, if you want to hear what the album is like, you can click the Youtube selections, or indeed, download the album for yourself. I should also point out that although in some cases I will review an album track-by-track, if I feel it merits such treatment, there will be albums which I will deal with differently, perhaps only picking out a few sample tracks, perhaps reviewing most tracks but not all, perhaps only omitting one or two tracks. This doesn't necessarily mean that I consider them bad tracks, though it can be more or less taken as read that if they're passed over, it's due to other tracks being more worthy of review. In general, instrumentals will not be reviewed in any real depth, though of course on a purely instrumental album that rule would not apply.

Basically, I'll be reviewing as much or as little of the album as I feel is needed, but that's purely based on my own opinion, and should not be taken as representative of anything else. Hopefully the reviews will be better for this new format, if not do as usual please let me know.
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Old 06-12-2011, 07:52 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Default Keeping the Faith or just Crushed? --- an examination of the later work of Bon Jovi

I'd like to depart from the usual format of reviewing one album at a time, and in this entry I want to look at three* of the later Bon Jovi releases, to perhaps counter the somewhat widely-held belief that the boys from New Jersey are no longer a force to be reckoned with, which I hotly dispute. Sure, the glory days of “Slippery when wet” and “New Jersey” are long gone, but the band are older (like all of us), wiser (can't claim that in MY case!) and know their audience has grown older with them, and I would hypothesise are changing to meet the requirements and tastes of those who used to rock out to “You give love a bad name” and don their stetsons for “Wanted”, or who jumped up and down at the gigs when “Born to be my baby” was played, and swayed to “I'll be there for you.”

(* Note: due to the length of this entry exceeding apparently the maximum allowed for one post, I have to split it into two, so the review for "The Circle" will be in a separate entry, posted next)

Bon Jovi are, I'm sure, reaching new fans with their music, both old and new, but it is the ones who bought “Slippery” in their millions that put them where they are, and these I would imagine the boys are still writing, and changing for. Change is generally good, as long as it's productive change, and to be honest I have yet to come across a bad Bon Jovi album. So here I present three offerings from their “later period”, as my contention that Jon and the boys still rock with the best of them.
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