Album Reviews: November 2004

 

The Kinison – What Are You Listening To? (La Salle/Atlantic)

Formed around five years ago in sunny Illinois, The Kinison have spent much of the past year playing tiny shows around the Los Angeles area before sealing a deal with La Salle Records, and this is the end result of their hard work, having taken just fifteen days to complete!

Listening through the album, it’s pretty ecident that some of the key elements have been affectionately stolen from the best bits of their favourite bands. I would be surprised, for instance, if I scanned these guys’ record collections and didn’t find Hell Is For Heroes, Funeral For a Friend, the Gang of Four or the Lostprophets lurking amongst them.

The band obviously have an ear for a good tune and in their most poppy mood (“Oh Boy That Girl Can Move”) they actually deliver hooks as strong as last year’s press darlings Hot Hot Heat.

It’s definitely an album that improves with each listen. The Kinison have presented us with a worthy debut that I imagine will almost certainly pave the way for chart success. 7/10

Tone E

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Genesis - The Platinum Collection & The Video Show (EMI/Virgin)

The sights and sounds of undoubtedly one of the most successful rock bands born out of the prog-rock era in the early seventies. These two collections are probably the best document examining the bands long and worthy career, short of their entire back catalogue. 3 CD's on which you will find what is essentially 3 greatest hits albums, from a group who have launched successful solo careers of their earliest two vocalists (Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins).

This album has been compiled by the group themselves and is chock full of nostalgia. Where did you first discover Genesis? Mine was early eighties where Collins had served an apprenticeship longer than the groups first vocalist. I remember the stories of a group auditioning for a drummer in the early 70's following the departure of their then 'sticks' man, John Mayhew. Those auditions had apparently taken place at Gabriel's family home, where Collins had spent most of the time lazing by the swimming pool! Now how close to the truth this story is after the passage of 25 years I cannot be sure, but illustrates how close I felt toward the band at this time and I'm sure there are those before and after me who may have similar stories to recount.

This band are a group whose sound developed from their birth during a time when 'progressive rock' was the catch word and tracks featured on the 3rd CD illustrate this none more so than the 22 minutes 52 seconds of 'The Musical Box' - featuring a heady brew of musical indulgence lead by vocalist Peter Gabriel, through to the later section of the second disc, where Collins had his feet firmly under the table, or should that be drum kit? But seriously, the sleeve notes explain the reason behind this collection in a way that speaks louder than words. "Even among die-hard Genesis fans you won't find many that will have every track on this first-ever comprehensive collection..." and the reason for this is perfectly clear as this band morphed from prog-rock champions, to dark symphonic geniuses, ending up as the group my dad championed and how 'cool' is that? (He was neither hippy or rock-head).

The collection of sounds that feature on the set, will find fans listening to out of interest at first and then finding their level favorites and perhaps examining Gabriel's prog lyricism a little too intently, while rarely visiting 'Calling All Stations' where new member Ray Wilson can be found offering his vocal prowess. The reason for this is clear, the band I recognise as Genesis is not the group that they have become, Gabriel and Collin's vocal seat comfortably as one from another, but when it comes to songs where Winston plays front man, even Rutherford visits the school of 'rock axe' to create something that is only held onto 'Genesis' in the symphony that Tony Banks offers.

It's a similar story when we get to the Video Collection, where 32 videos are held together by a slick video interface available to the viewer, where each song features an information page with photos and sleeves. But it's the sights we're here to see and these offer up some of the most memorable music video's available to the MTV generation. Scripts where Collins shows off his natural ability in front of the camera and in the case of 'Land Of Confusion', all three member's show off just how spitting image's puppet master saw the aging rockers. Again if anything I'm levitating toward early and mid Genesis, when both music and video was perhaps a little rougher and more enjoyable, certainly taking itself less seriously, but as I've said before, everyone will find their natural gauge and this is not something that is wrong, U2 sound nothing like they did 25 years ago and given another 5 years I'm sure the difference will be even more pronounced.

This whole collection is one of the best and for a group recollecting such a passage of time is genius. Even for the casual observer, you'll find none better. A set that is both engaging, absorbing and in the case of most of the videos - 'side-splitting'. 8/10 for the DVD and 9/10 for the CD. (A collection whose weight should stand as testament for those groups who come after, that 'a greatest hits' does not come easily).

Nick James

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Hot Snakes – Audit In Progress (One Little Indian)

The bizarre thing about this album is that when I first played it, I thought “It’s Ok I suppose”, but decided to give it several more listens in an effort to make it grow on me further.

Sadly, it had the adverse effect!

Now, the first two tracks are stunners – no question about it – as “Braintrust” and “Hi-Lites” are bursting with energy and are enormously exciting. After this, however, the album tends to fall down a little; “Retrofit” still maintains the intensity, as do most of the following tracks, but the whole thing just gets a bit bogged down and samey the deeper you jump in.

I must confess though, I liked the “Surfer Rosa” feel of “Think About Carbs” and the New Wave of the title track, but really it’s rather a mish-mash of tremendously invigorating stuff and, at other times, excruciatingly boring in its familiarity.

A “both thumbs sideways” kind of album.

6/10

Tone E

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Three Days Grace – Three Days Grace (Jive)

It’s an album of two halves Gary, for this re-released album sounds 50 per cent like the Foo Fighters and the rest of it sounds like Pearl Jam.

Well ok, admittedly the references don’t stop there – you could add a modern day Metallica, Puddle of Mudd (especially on the album’s weaker tracks) and, rather nauseatingly, Nickelback. Perversely, the one track I had singled out as being the biggest culprit in the naff stakes (“I Hate Everything About You”) stayed on the Active Rock airplay charts in the US for almost an entire year!

Anyway, it’s not a bad album, but when they try to sound serious they just sound so pompous that you can’t actually TAKE them seriously! Cruel maybe, but trust me, it’s true…

6/10

Tone E

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Rocky Votolato – Suicide Medicine (Eat Sleep)

An album that first saw light of day in October 2003 through 'Second Nature' recordings, is now being re-promoted on the 'Eat Sleep' label. This version includes the track 'The Rain Will Come', which is in addition to the original release.

Although Rocky Votolato cites Johnny Cash, Elvis Costello and Bruce Springsteen as his major influences, there is little evidence of any of these artists as “The Light and Sound” kicks off. Indeed, it is more akin to the Eels performing with Ryan Adams, whilst Corrigan drop in for tea and biscuits. Incidentally - and here’s a wild off kilter reference – this reminds me of Roxy Music’s “More Than This”!

Title track “Suicide Medicine” has an underlying feel of the Hidden Cameras and also possesses an indisputable Everclear vibe. Consequently, this rather naked tune is my favourite moment on the album.

Rocky’s Country roots finally come in to prominence on the bittersweet ballad that is “I’ll Catch You” and “Automatic Rifle” harks back to Nirvana’s “Unplugged” album; then the gloom is lifted – albeit half heartedly – in the most uptempo number, “Every Red Cent”.

“Montana” is your typical late-night-around-a-camp-fire fare, whilst everyone around you shares a super strong spliff. The jangly “Alabaster” soon follows and is just poppy enough to evoke fond memories of The Lemonheads. Probably my second favourite track, in fact.

“The City Is Calling” seems to last about half an hour, despite being only four minutes long. It was all going so well up to now, but maybe this track seems so long because it’s about as exciting as the front seat at a fly-fishing tournament.

Ok, I admit, maybe I went a little OTT with that last comparison, but I must say that although the first half of “Suicide Medicine” plays with very few disappointing blemishes, there are several less inspiring moments towards the album’s end.

The brilliant “Prison Is a Private Place” is an exception to the rule though, and contains some of the best lyrics you’re likely to hear all year.

“Death-Right” reminds me rather too much of Sting’s solo output, and after a while these slow, sentimental numbers become a little too frequent to have a great deal of impact.

I think I could sum it up by saying you could probably choose practically any track from this album and play it as a standalone, and be blown away every time. I find that playing the album in its entirety though makes my mind wander too much when the music becomes all too familiar.

Pretty good, but superb in small doses. 7/10

Tone E

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DFA – Compilation #2 (DFA/EMI)

Three cds, 30 tracks and some serious attitude and you have one of the best compilation releases I’ve heard for a while. The first two cds are standard listed tracks, the third cd a mixed blend of the two.

To describe the fell of the release I would punk funk electronica, but even that pathetic attempt doesn’t give it justice. It is a superb collection of releases spanning the last few years. These cds give flesh to the skeleton of punk infused, dance-oriented tracks that have slowly been creeping into the light.

And what a glorious antidote to the commercial pap that is filling the record shelves of late. All the tracks are raw, tough tracks with attitude and dare I use the word ‘spunk’!!
All the main tracks are high energy with a few more artistic constructions in there to test your metal. Key tracks from CD one are ‘Casual Friday’ – Black Leotard Print, ‘Alabama Sunshine’ – The Rapture and ‘Getup/saywhat’ – Pixeltan.

CD two tracks of note are ‘Yeah (Crass version)’ – lcd Soundsystem, ‘Sunplus’ – J.O.Y and ‘Sister Saviour’ – the Rapture.

Seriously go buy this compilation now! You will thank me for it!!! 10/10

Nic Caesar

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Dan Bern and the IJBC – My Country II – Music To Beat Bush By (Cooking Vinyl)

The CD most gracing my car stereo at present, this is an intelligent, politically astute album, injected with just the right amount of humour to prevent it from turning into a party political broadcast.

The Dylan inspired “President” opens proceedings, and Dan fantasizes about becoming the leader of the United States to hilarious effect throughout this seven and a half minute classic. A taster of the wonderful lyrics: “Third day I told Detroit ‘start making cars that don’t use gas’/ then I gave everybody a big rebate and they started selling fast/ We’ll stop burning up the air we breathe and making the planet boil/ then we won’t have to kiss the ass of whoever’s got the oil”. Pure genius.

“Sammy’s Bat” is more Jools Holland than Bob Dylan, but the lyrical content is no less incisive: “Mohammed still had one chance to try to help save us/ but just as he was a-comin’, they blew up Mohammed’s bus”.

“Tyranny” brings Bern’s obvious Costello influence to the forefront, and yet again the music compliments his observations perfectly. In fact the Dylan and Costello references are ones that run consistently throughout the album.

There aren’t really any “weak” moments on this CD, but if I had to pinpoint one that’s not quite as strong as the others it would have to be “Ostrich Town”, which sounds like one of They Might Be Giants’ less inspiring tunes. I can’t fault the words or the underlying message though.

The next track, “After the Parade” is the standout moment for me, where all the humour is temporarily torn away from us and the most poignant and devastating assault is made on our eardrums. It’s the tale of an heroic soldier returning from a pointless war a decorated man, but one whose active life has been all but ended by losing the use of his legs. The lament “But who do you think will push my chair after the parade is over?” brought tears to my eyes…especially when, at the end of the song, we learn that it will more than likely be his mother who lands the task.

Title track “My Country II” is a more rocky number that put me in mind of Elvis Costello again – particularly around the time of his incredible “Armed Forces” album, and, in line with the rest of the album, is a scathing attack on the blinkered Republican government and its supporters.

“The Torn Flag” is an acoustic protest song where Bern sets the little known Pete Seeger poem to music – all about a dream the writer had and how ashamed he has become of his own country.

“Final track “Bush Must Be Defeated” is rather too simplistic in both musical and lyrical content, but hey, the message is loud and clear and it probably NEEDED to be simple.

Sadly though, a large proportion of the American people have now proved how simple THEY are by voting a certain G.W. Bush back into power.

An absolute gem of an album all the same. 9/10

Tone E

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French Kicks – The Trial of the Century (Eat Sleep)

It’s quite an oddity this album really. After all, not many records can make you keep the same mood you’re already in, but enhance that feeling even further.
What I mean, if you read between the lines of the absolute gibberish I’ve just spouted, is that if you’re already feeling good, “The Trial of the Century” can make you feel even better; if you’re feeling down, it’ll make you feel even sadder; if you’re feeling relaxed, it makes you feel as though you’re in a flotation tank!

As far as musical references go, Joy Division leapt out at me (although a far brighter version, and not like them vocally), as did The Smiths, Aztec Camera, Nick Heyward and in fact, all manner of respected eighties artists are in evidence, yet Frecmch Kicks still manage to sound totally up to date.

It’s actually quite easy to describe this album without mentioning any bands at all. They are like gentle rain upon your bedroom window; a magical monsoon; the refreshing light drizzle on your face after a particularly humid day. There is little sunshine in French Kicks’ world, but everyone is relatively happy with this, and they go about their business with a lovely warm butterfly effect inside their stomachs.

Back in the real world, this is a great album from a band with bright prospects for the future. 8/10

Tone E

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Detroit Cobras - Baby (Rough Trade)

Thirteen tracks that clock in at just over 30 minutes long, but is it value for money?

N: The DCs were a group I immediately took a shine to on hearing their last release - the "Cha Cha Twist" single. Last on the album, this is preceded by 12 other similarly spirited numbers with echoes of the wild west, Kill Bill, the 'beehive' and B52-esque tunes. Get those puff skirts out and polish those stilettoes - we're going dancing tonight girls.

T: It sounds to me like Patti Smith doing Motown! The legendary songstress taking a trip on the Tamla Interstate. But yes, she HAS almost certainly done her hair in a beehive! Very listenable all the same. 8/10

 
 

 

Iron Maiden - The Early Days DVD (EMI)

Iron Maiden once again delve into their vast body of work to produce this compilation of archive material, featuring no less than four live appearances including pre-Dickinson work as well as documentaries dating as far back as 1980, TOTP appearances and promo videos. What are our thoughts?

T: My thoughts are the same as they always are when I hear Iron Maiden - me being a thirteen year old boy with acne who loved "Number of the Beast", masturbated a lot and wondered why nice girls didn't like me. Pretty much like now...except my musical horizons have broadened somewhat since then. Anyway, this is an interesting and well packaged product with enough to keep ardent fans happy enough at least, It's probably not a bad introduction to any new followers too. It's quite fascinating watching the Paul Di Anno fronted gig too, as I never had any idea over the last 25 years what he actually looked like.

N: Ghastly! But the pity about the copy that we've got is that I can't seem to find the Ruskin Arms show that it says is featured.

T: Eggs.

N: No, I haven't farted.

T: No I mean Eggs - those special features that are accessed by pressing the DVD at a certain stage - maybe it's one of those...

N: Nope, still can't find it. You'll have to look on the band's website.

T: Are you actually going to SAY anything about this DVD?

N: I can't - I'm thirteen again! I'm too embarrassed - the Biactol isn't working! No, but seriously I'm stunned at the compilation of work available here, from photographs to vidoes to the live footage. Some of it just blows me away. 9/10

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Ooops!: One's that we've (almost) missed

 

The Donnas – Gold Medal (Atlantic)

The Donnas’ second album, and I have to say, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a band (particularly a female one) sound so much like AC/DC!
Not vocally of course, but the guitar work would indicate that the Aussie rockers have been a prime influence. Having said that, I’d rather see THIS band in a school uniform than dear old Angus…

Anyway, “Gold Medal” is full to the brim with catchy pop-rock tunes that, whilst lyrically are only adequate at best, musically are full-on “shake your head on the dancefloor” stuff and the girls have set their stall out straight away with what they’re all about.

The ghosts of all the classic rock bands of the golden era (i.e. the seventies) can be heard fleetingly throughout this record, and as a result this is a very sexy album indeed. In fact it makes me want to have five in a bed sex with the band. I mean, I admit I don’t have a huge amount of stamina, but hey, girls, I’m up for it if you are! 8/10

Tone E

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Elliott Smith - From a Basement on the Hill (Domino)

There is often a tendency within the music industry to become remarkably sycophantic following the death of an artist. Glowing reviews generally follow, regardless of whether the performer in question was previously in favour or not. Will we at AD fall into the same trap?

T: Speaking for myself, yes. Not really though - this is a magical, spine tingling record worthy of an abundance of praise. It could well even be the best album I've heard this year. I need to hear a lot more of it before I can confirm this, but it's looking promising anyway. My only criticism is this: what a waste of talent. Do you agree, or AM I being a sycophant?

N: Not at all. While Elliott always wrote songs of an extremely personal nature, this album's content is almost as if it were the intended final chapter of a troubled life. His sixth album, it's a shame that such a strong body of work may be remembered for all the wrong reasons. But when a musician produces an album that comes across, to this one writer at least, as such an unclouded document, any post mortem should pale in comparison. A fitting legacy.

T: In short, stunning. 10/10

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Frank Black – frankblackfrancis (Cooking Vinyl)

A curious listen for an ardent Pixies fan such as myself, this is a 2 CD set comprising on disc one some pre-album demos of Black Francis playing the classic band’s tunes on an acoustic guitar, and, on disc two, some very well known tracks reinterpreted by the great man himself.

Personally, I’d like to give producer Gary Smith a great deal of credit for realising the potential of these fantastic songs way back in 1987, for I must ashamedly admit that if it had been me listening to this demo tape, I probably would have smirked and sent the guy away with a flea in his ear! So there you go – I could have been responsible for the non-existence of that arguably turned out to be the greatest of all time – it’s a damn good job I never worked in A&R!
Anyway, as a result, I can only give the first disc a fairly low score, though something tells me it ought to be higher, since I know what classic tunes these rough sketches became.

The second CD is a different kettle of fish altogether – how will I react to some totally new versions of tracks that we Pixies fans all know and love in their original form? – “messing with the gospel” as the legendary frontman puts it himself.

Thankfully, disc two turns out to be an absolute treat. “Caribou” is given a satisfying, almost orchestral arrangement, and “Wher Is My Mind?” has a dreamlike quality to it along the lines of Fellini’s film “8 and a half”.
Even the most well know tunes are given a new hairstyle, including “Monkey Gone To Heaven” – once a brooding, heavy, alternative rock tune, and now a sweeping, hallucinogetic thing of fucked up beauty – and “Planet of Sound” which abandons its original thrash mentality to become something bearing more resemblance to an “Unplugged” album by The Fall.

Anyway, I’m going to have to mark both discs separately:
CD 1 is more fascinating than listenable, so it gets 6/10
CD2 is full of exquisite adaptations of fabulous songs, so it gets 9/10

Tone E

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NFD - No Love Lost (Jungle Records)

Key members of the legendary Darkwave band Fields of the Nephilim have teamed up behind Peter "Bob" White (singer, guitarist, songwriter), and formed NFD. And Darkwave just got a whole lot darker. Hunting for our torch, we give our thoughts on this new dawn.

T: I think I'll let you go first on this one, seeing as there is absolutely NO doubt whatsoever that you'll like it more than me...

N: I can see why you say that, and maybe ten years ago I might have embraced this more than I am feeling now. The whole album just gets darker from the onset of "Omen", where Peter strikes up "Black, black in my heart...". My feelings are that this is a road down which i wish not to travel.

T: Actually I said it because it sounds like a puke sodden tramp being beaten to death in an amusement arcade (probably one of those old "Dungeons and Dragons" ones) - not something I'd particularly want to watch, and neither is it something I'd want to listen to again. In fact, I'd rather have bogey soup for a week than have to hear it again.

N: I wouldn't necessarily go that far.

T: Tough. Your soup's on the table. 1/10

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Camper Van Beethoven - New Roman Times (Cooking Vinyl)

A rather warped rock opera about a drug addict - basically "Tommy" meets "Trainspotting" with the slightest dose of "Hair" thrown in for good measure.

This record works on many levels, but it's really the bleak underbelly of the band's output that has the most impact. "That Gum You Like Is Back In Style" is a prime example, with its ever so slightly deranged violin led melody, as is the track that follows it, the Madness-in-their-dark-period-meets-The-Clash ska/funk of "Might Makes Right".

There are so many gems on this album that it's hard to pick a standout. In fact, there's little else I can say except that listening to "New Roman Times" is like watching black comedy at its best. A truly underrated band worth your time and effort. 8/10

Tone E

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Death In Vegas - Satan's Circus (Drone Records)

Should some mad fool ever try to remake Dziga Vertov's cinematic silent masterpiece "Man With a Movie Camera", they need look no further for the soundtrack to their film than Death In Vegas's latest offering.

Maybe it's because the imagery is still fresh in my mind after my first viewing of said masterpiece, but I don't make this suggestion lightly. Consider the following:

For a start, Vertov's movie revolves around a normal working day in 1920s Russia - particularly Moscow - where the only characters in the film are these real people themselves. The sequences are at once both apparitional and fantasial; the mundane and the ordinary turned into extraordinary events by the lens of a camera. This is how I feel you could best utilise "Satan's Circus" - a title which could (and probably does) describe perfectly the current state of the world (espacially the Western world!)

Replace typewriters with laptops, post offices with e-mail, worldwide news broadcasts with dumbed down reality shows and hopscotch with the latest PS2 game, and you could easily drop this refreshing - at times dark and disturbing - soundtrack over the top for a perfect summation of todays society.

Having said that, if I listen to any more of it, I think my ears will explode! 7/10

Tone E

 
 

 

Chungking - The Hungry Years (Gut Records)

Well, I'm sorry to say that I was less than bowled over by this band's "Making Music" single, and whilst I'm happy to report that I now realise they had erroneously released the weakest track on the entire album, "The Hungry Years" still doesn't fill me with excitement.

Opening gambit "Come With Me" is a bit like being at a schmaltzy Academy Awards type of event, while "Voodoo" is like being trapped in a lift with a very sweaty Donna Summer. That might not sound too bad, but come on, she's fifty odd now!

There ARE moments of genius on this album however, notably when singer Jessie Banks becomes startlingly resemblant of Shirley Bassey. I'm not so sure about the Teddy Pendergrass like "Full On" though! Having said that, don't be surprised if Moby samples it for any future material!

So, I guess what I'm trying to say is this: The album is a lot better than I was expecting, but not one that's likely to make a dent in my end of year festive 50 (hey, SOMEONE'S got to fly the flag now Peelie's no longer with us!) 7/10

Tone E

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Minnie Driver - Everything I've Got In My Pocket (EMI)

It's not unusual for an actress of Minnie's stature to release an album at some stage of their career. What IS rather different from the norm though is that Ms. Driver has actually written 10 of the 11 tracks laid down here. Whether that will gain the respect of our writers remains to be seen...

T: Actually, this fairly breezy album - a la Dido meets Nelly Furtado - is really a lot better than I was expecting. In fact, I'm hoping that you totally disagree with me, so that I can blag the album from you...

N: "Musician" is not a career I would associate with Driver, but her recording contract was in fact signed BEFORE her big screen breakthrough. You're right, this knowledge, and the fact that the bulk of this work was written by her own fair hand DOES tend to offer a credibility to this release. BUT that said, it may not be to my taste, and although not a bitter or sweet tasting medicine, was one I found difficult to swallow.

T: How about this then? You mark it, and I keep it

N: You're welcome to it, but we'll mark it together. 6/10

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Cake - Pressure Chief (EMI)

Formed in 1992, this band were often kniown for their sometime quirky and contrary music. Formed out of Sacramento - this marks the band's (fourth) album - they can lay claim to having played shows with the Flaming Lips, Modest Mouse, Charlie Louvin and De La Soul. Ok, so you're getting the picture that this is a band of some renown. But this album?

T: I'll always respect this band for making me not quite hate "I Will Survive" as much as I used to. This new offering seems relatively pleasant, sprinkled with Beckness and perhaps, musically, later Talking Heads.

N: On first play of the album, I found this an extremely easy experience, and was also very agreeable not only to digest, but to live with as well. I might be inclined to say that this has no bells and whistles, just a very good album.

T: Pretty good, if not overly exciting. 7/10

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Deep Purple - Burn - 30th Anniversary Edition (EMI)

According to the blurb here, "the remastering and bonus remixes put new life into the studio tracks and demonstrate the sheer strength of the third Deep Purple line up". Do we agree?

T: I have to be honest, no. In fact, the ultra smooth production has taken a lot of the edge off this album. I was very much a fan of rock and heavy metal in my younger days, and Deep Purple were right up near the top. Having said that, I preferred the Ian Gillan led set up myself, but Coverdale certainly brought something different to the band. No, I'm sorry, this just sounds a lot weedier than it did before.

N: I'd love to hear the original version of which you speak, and the faint hum of engine oil may just overwhelm, but I can understand to what you're referring. I don't imagine for a moment that the earlier version was anywhere near as clean as this. This obviously hasn't done it justice...at least to your ears.

T: I don't know, maybe DP will always sound better as a vinyl band rather than a CD one. I'd willingly give the warts and all version 8/10 but we've got to mark the updated one I guess. To be fair though, the less guitar driven tracks on the album aren't as badly damaged as the heavier ones. 6/10

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The Hacker – Reves Mechaniques (PIAS)

Generally, I really like this album, its raw and fresh but with a retro edge too. A bit darker and industrial in places, which is not really my bag but overall it has a quite funky techno/prog techno style.

The album flows well too, with all the tracks giving variety and ‘texture’ to the album as a singular commodity. From the first track ‘Flesh and Bone’ you get tough, funky beats and synths that set you up for the rest of the album. I also like the inclusion of the vocal tracks. Here they are not diluting the overall effect but adding another ingredient that weaves its way in, seamlessly, but sometimes dramatically.

‘Sequenced life’ for me is a real gem. The intro is tempting and hooks you in, then the beats drop and you get a real rhythmic bass/synth flow, which would work very well on a dance floor. But that’s not all. You get a deep, haunting, intermittent bass knitted together by watery synth phrases and well-structured drops and rebuilds. A diamond in the rough!!!

Then you’re dragged into ‘Masterplan’ featuring vocals from Miss Kitten. This track is a all round pleasure, although the vocal treatment at times is a bit tough to swallow if you’re not into this sort of thing. I think it has a cinematic quality to it. ‘Village of the damned’ again sounds like the soundtrack to over FX-ed ‘Matrix’ scene. Very driven rolling beats and bass with a canvass of haunting synths layered over the top. Then a massive bass hook is dropped in just to sweeten the deal!! Great production, although this does create a rather dark tone to the track.

I promised myself that I would only pick out the best tracks to highlight to our AD readers but I find it difficult not to say something about each of the tracks. There is light yet absorbing relief in ‘Electronic Snowflakes’, very cinematic again. ‘Traces’ is another great track full of character and substance but I will suggest you discover this one for yourself, great vocals, a classic in the making!

The remaining tracks really do follow the previous in the same vein. Overall, a darker feel to it than I am used to. Dance music as a whole is uplifting and positive in its treatment, but I feel this album is a qualified exception to the rule. I am sure Michel Amato aka The Hacker would not want to be lumped in with the rest of the dance music world and I think he has created an album that will ensure that does not happen!! 9/10

Nic Caesar

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The Geezers of Nazareth – Songs on the Radio (Bored)

I could not get my head round this at all. I just could not work out whether I liked it or despised it at the same time. I think it has elements that I can tune in to but the general tone and quality for me was poor.

I hate the vocals and the lyrical content!! Honestly, I tried listening to it several times in the vain hope that it would grow on me. Musically there is a lot I like but the vocals and the arrangements, I don’t!

For example, in ‘Car song’ the opening line is ‘ I’m only sleepin cos I’m lying down, I’m only dreaming cos my eyes are closed’!!! All the depth and meaning of a Gerry Haliwell effort!!!

I’m sorry, I can’t go on listening to this trying to make sense of it, it just does not compute!!!! 4/10

Nic Caesar

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Etienne De Crecy - Super Discount II 10” (PIAS Recordings)

Two track sampler released in anticipation of the full release of the album on the 20th September. My view on this is slightly bias as a massive fan of French dance music as a whole. To my delight, I get both Etienne de Crecy and Alex Gopher in one package on ‘Fast Track’. Superb production and massive in clubland for a while now. The flip side is ‘Grokster’ which is mellower but is just sonically superb!!!! There are rumoured to be 4 different 10” releases available as Limited editions, I suggest you get there before I do!!!!!! 10/10

Nic Caesar

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Grant Lee Phillips - Ladies' Love Oracle (Cooking Vinyl)

He's made some marvellous records in his time has Mr.Phillips, both with Grant Lee Buffalo and on his own. "Virginia Creeper" indeed was a splendid album.

This latest offering though, while pleasant enough in places, does give you the impression that the man is simply trying too hard to put his emotions across at times.

Highlights come in the shape of the outstanding "Flamin' Shoe", which is like a cross between John Cougar Mellencamp, Ian McCulloch and Lloyd Cole. A mixture like that is a guaranteed surefire hit with me, and a further standout comes later on when "Nothin' Is For Sure" comes on like an early Queen track in all its theatrical glory.

Apart from that though, I can only describe "Ladies' Love Oracle" as a "quite nice" record. No bad tracks, but not many brilliant ones either. 6/10

Tone E

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