My MUSIC review BLOG

Original BLOG started: March 6th 2005 - Total album reviews to date = 47 (25.01.06).

These are clickable links to
Archive 1 of past reviews
Archive 2 of past reviews

Among the artist you will find in this blog are:

I am unfortunately in my forties, however this does have some historic advantages. The primary one been that I grew up, went through my teenage and formative years, and then continued through my twenties and into my thirties when pop and rock music were still original, creative and exciting. At that time manufactured bands (who dance and pose) were relatively few, cover versions rare, and samples (that represented an entire disk) yet to see the light of day. At that time, long ago (or so it seems to me), music fans bought CD’s and records for the music, not the image or the video.

The music covered will be pop and rock in all its forms from the “Buggles” to “Def Leppard”, with most of the other genres in between.

Band : Stevie Nicks
Album : Bella Donna

Bella Donna is something that 18th and 19th century prostitues once put in their eyes to make them more appealing (it makes the pupils dilate), but it is also an album by SN.
Best known for her role in Fleetwood Mack, SN had a series of hit albums, but this is probably the biggest and best. It has both hits and classic tracks in the form of "Edge of seventeen" (USA 11), "Leather and lace" (USA 6), "Stop draggin'my heart around" (USA 3) and the title track. It's not an album I listen to a lot, but when I do it brings back memories of my first ever visit to the USA in 1982. That was a year after this album came out, but it was still getting blanket FM airplay none the less. SN has her usual distinctive vocals and if you like F. Mack in their "Rumours" period, this will be right up your street. My rating: 7/10
Posted 26.10.2005

Band : The Adventures
Album : The sea of love

This album came out in 1988 and had a big UK hit called " Broken land". Follow up singles including "Drowning in the sea of love" did not do so well and the Adventures disappeared without trace (in the UK at least).
Despite this, The sea of Love is a superb album and has the same moody and atmospheric sound running through it that "Talk Talk" and Tears for Fears had at their best. I saw the Adventures on British weekly music show "Top of the Pops" and knew then that they were destined for failure – their image, dress and lead singer simply missed all the vital "visual hot buttons" that regrettably determine success or failure in the music industry. This album will not however disappoint if you like the bands mentioned above, or the hint of Celtic music found in the likes of Gerry Rafferty and more recently the Corrs. My rating: 7/10 maybe even 8/10
Posted 26.10.2005

Band : Human League
Album : Dare

The Human League’s "Dare" is a truly iconic album, whether you like them or not. It features the world wide number one "Don’t you want me" plus the superb UK hits "Love action" (which miraculously bombed in the US) and "Open your heart" (a UK top 10). "The sound of the crowd" was also a UK hit, but the album as a whole has a great techno feel and defined what was happening in this new genre at the beginning of the 1980’s. I always liked rock music and during this time span I was listening to Journey, Foreigner, REO Speedwagon and Styx, but I still bought and enjoyed the synth driven "Dare". Today tacks like "don’t you want me" have become the staple diet of the advertising media and appear as backdrops to TV and radio advertising, but this just goes to prove their endearing longevity. My rating: 8/10
posted 11.11.2005

Band : Roxette
Album : Look Sharp

Roxette’s "Look sharp" was their big break through album with the massive hits, "the look", "dressed for success" and "listen to your heart". The rest of the album is pretty mediocre pop rock and in truth if you want to sample Roxette at their best, buy their greatest hits instead.

What happened to Roxette? I thought they released a great track called "almost unreal" (which was part of an animated movie soundtrack), but it failed in the US and they never got another chance. In Europe (although no the UK) they are still having hits and actually had a great song 2 or 3 years back with the words "coffee" or "black coffee" in the title. The female lead singer also overcame cancer in the 1990’s. I have seen Roxette in concert at Wembley (London) and they were pretty good, but their support act stole the show for me. I don't remember their name, but they had a US hit with a song called "Dont't forget me when I'm gone" My rating: 6/10
posted 11.11.2005

Artist : Del Shannon
Album : Rock on

Not the most inspiring title and not the most inspiring album. I got hold of this one because it had strong connections with Jeff Lyne and the Traveling Wilburys and I liked the first single "walk away". Unfortunately, it had neither the critical, or record buyer, acclaim of Lyne’s previous production projects (notably T.Petty and G.Harrison), and disappeared without trace. Even worse, Shannon committed suicide shortly after its release, he was a manic depressive and the albums failure obviously did not help. Other high points on the album! Well there are not really any to speak of, the whole thing is listen able, but that is really it. Sorry. My rating: 4/10
posted 16.11.2005

Artist : Cutting Crew
Album : Broadcast

Whatever happened to Cutting Crew? The name may have been stupid, but band and this album were awesome. Broadcast includes the UK hit and US number one " (I just) died in your arms", plus another big hit stateside in "I’ve been in love before", a ballad.
Personally I think the entire album is great as it jumps around the various rock genres and lead singer Eede has a distinctive and well suited voice. So what did happen to them? Well the first single from their follow up album bombed. As I recall it was called "between a rock and a hard place" and it was pretty good. It did however suffer from the worst of timings. The Rolling Stones released a similar titled single at the same time and in the US it got no real airplay. A great shame, Cutting Crew may just have been the next big thing. I may also be wrong, but I think British DJ, Tommy Vance (who died very recently) was the guy who broke them in the UK on his (then) late night show. My rating: 7/10
posted 16.11.2005

Artist : The Darkness
Album : One way ticket to hell and back

This is the follow up to the excellent "Permission to land" which was the 2nd biggest album of 2003 in the UK. I have read a few reviews about this sophomore effort and all give it a "reserved" thumbs up. Obviously these people have no idea what music or the Darkness are about, so I will give you a full review of this mind blowing album, that to my ears at least features Freddy Mercury vocals, stints from 1970’s glam rockers "The Sweet" and the best all new ELO track for over 20 years.

The album kicks off with the title track, initiated with pan pipes, and there are classical strings and sitars to come. This track, the UK single, has all but died, but it should have been No.1. The Queen come Sweet sound continues through 2 more amazing rockers with stunning guitar riffs and great vocal harmonies.

Song 4 is the Darkness doing Def Leppard "in Hysteria mode" with some added violins and cellos, but then its back to some heavier rockers, but still with strong melodies and a classic MOR sound. All are nothing short of brilliant! Track 8 is unmistakably ELO and the best pastiche of their sound you will ever hear with strings, a Mr Blue sky style solo and the catchiest chorus of the album. The final tracks, 9 and 10 (yes the one failing of this CD is the number and length of songs), are classic Queen from their early days with the fake operatic vocals in the chorus and Justin "Mercury" Hawkins doing the rest.

This is a stunning album and in my opinion one of the greatest recordings of all time and in all musical genres. If you buy it and are disappointed, I really don’t know what will satisfy you! My rating: 10/10
posted 3.12.2005

Artist : Daniel Powter
Album : Daniel Powter

This album features the superb "Bad day" which has now spent over 6 months in the UK top 40 and should turn out (in real terms) to be the biggest selling UK single of 2005. Other tracks, whilst not quite that good, are none the less worthy of becoming singles and opening cut "song6" and also "suspect" could be future releases. All told I think this album sounds a lot like a mid 1970's Elton John LP and that is when he was taking the world by storm, Well woth the £9.99 I paid for it and many of the somgs are still growing on me. My rating: 8/10
posted 14.01.2006

Artist : Gwen Stefani
Album : Love angel music baby

For me the best album of 2005 with every mix of music you can think of. The best acolade I can give this album is to say that the best tracks have probably still to be released as singles, although the 4th UK release "Cool" is probably my personal favourite. The album includes "What you waiting for", "Rich girl", "Hollaback girl" and the new US release "Luxurious". There are some lyrical differences between the singles and album cuts (which include some "bad" words), but if you can put up with that this album is red hot. I even like "rich girl" and I hate covers! If there is another UK single, I guess it will be "real thing", a ballady track with a catchy tune, but who knows. My rating: 9/10 (because I am in a mean mood today)
posted 14.01.2006

Artist : Heart
Album : Private Audition

I got into heart around 1986 when they had a self titled album out that re-launched their career with tracks like "Never" and "What about love", but through this and subsequent releases I started looking at their back catalogue. This album came out in 1982 and pretty much killed off their first commercial incarnation, but it does have some good and one amazing track on it. US hit "This man is mine" is a cover and a so so one at that, but opener, "City's burning" and a couple of other tracks are more than OK. The highlight though is the incredable "Perfect stranger", a big ballad with strings and Anne Wilson's melodic but powerful voice at its brilliant best. If you were a heart fan in the late eighties you should find something on this album you like - if that is you can get hold of a copy. My rating: 6/10 maybe 7/10
posted 24.01.2006

Artist : Debora Harry
Album : Deaf dumb and blonde

I got this album from the then ex Blondie lead singer for one track, the Thompson Twins written and produced "I want that man", its a great light weight rocker. That track aside this album is pretty weak and proved that Harry minus blondie equals something pretty insipid. All told, not one I would recommend you to hunt out. My rating: 4/10
posted 24.01.2006

Artist : Mammoth
Album : Mammoth

This is a great album by a bunch of "fatties" (that's how they marketed themselves) and it is melodic rock at its very best with vocalist, Nicky Moore, sounding like Steve Perry of Journey. In the UK "Fatman" was a minor hit single, but in truth is probably the weakest track on a superb album. From that point the album really gets going and tracks like the big ballad "Dark star" would have been monster sellers had a Journey or Foriegner released them. All told it is a tragedy that this band never made it and why? just because they were a on the portly side - what does that have to do with anyones ears. My rating: 8/10
posted 24.01.2006

Artist : Gerry Rafferty
Album : On a wing and a prayer (1992)

I am a really big GR fan and have the three albums from his days as an international superstar (city to city, Night owl and Snakes and ladders), plus a couple of others. This one however I have literally just got hold of and it is a gem. My main motivation for buying it is a perpetually played (on UK BBC radio 2 Wogan show) track called "Don't speak of my heart". This song really is unbelievable and just about on a par with the magnificent "Baker Street". The rest of the album also delivers and if you like Rafferty's unique voice (the key to all his music) this Cd will definately come up trumps. The other tacks are all crackers and he jumps from ballads to semi Celtic style rockers, all of which have a sound and feel that I love. I actually saw GR on the tour for this album back in 1992 and realised one of my musical ambitions by seeing him perform Baker Street live - magical! Incidently his backing voclist on that tour and this album was the brillinat Nicky Moore (of Mammoth above). My rating: 8/10
posted 02.02.2006

Artist : The Korgis
Album : The Korgis (greatest hits)

The Korgis came to a brief prominence at the very end of the 1970's with a massive world wide hit called "Everybody's got to learn sometime" and, in the UK at least, added a follow up hit "If I had you". The next album (now in the 1980's) saw a single "That was my big mistake" released which, although failing to make even the lower echelons of the UK chart, I thought was amazing. I bought this best of compilation a few years ago, but it really does contain some fantastic tracks and the Korgis, like "City Boy" and "Talk Talk" fall into the sad category of "should have been supergroups" but miraculously never were. If you remember either of the Korgis hits and liked them, then this (hard to get) CD is definately worth the money. Also look out for the ELOesque "Don't say that it's over" and the amusing "Rovers return". I wish music like this was still around today. My rating: 6/10
posted 24.01.2006

Artist : Gallager and Lyle
Album : Breakaway

From some time in the late 70's, this is a really great LP which I bought from a second hand LP/CD store a few years back (quite a few). It features 3 superb UK hit singles in the form of "Heart on my sleave", the brilliant "I wanna stay with you" and the equally good title track. Regretably this duo never repeated the success of this record and the Lyle half of the partnership died very young in his 40's or 50's. If you ever get a chance to get hold of this one take it, it really is a classic with great tunes a really good acoustic sound and for me great memories of still been a kid. It just surprises me that it was never a hit in the USA. My rating: 8/10
posted 23.02.2006

Artist : Honeymoon suite
Album : The big prize

The receptionist at a company I once worked for lent me this originally (both her and her husband had great taste in rock music and I got hold of a lot of stuff based on their suggestions) and I later purchased it myself. In truth the album is not that good, it has one decent track "Bad attitude", but also one amazing song called "To feel it again". The latter is the reason I bought this one and the song is an all time rock classic in the mould (with guitar riff) of Boston and "More than a feeling". I don’t think that H.S. had much success beyond this release, but they can still claim a rock master piece. If you really like your rock heavy there may well be a few other tracks you will warm to! My rating: 6/10
posted 23.02.2006

Artist : World Party
Album : Bang

In truth I bought this album because World Party had a single, All I gave, which had an ELO esque sound to it and a later follow-up single, Is it like today, sounded the same. The album is pretty good and this band had a run of 3 albums with single releases that were successful across pretty much all of the world. After that they seemed to disappear and I have never heard anything from them again. If you like catchy, primarily acoustic songs then World Party are worth getting into. Pehaps their image was the problem. My rating: 6/10
posted 05.05.2006

My first new review in 2 months, but now I am back I will start posting agian regularly

Artist : Keisha White
Album : Don’t mistake me (single)

This is my first new blog entry for a while and with a broken and dislocated finger it is also a painful one, but one that absolutely has to be made.

Keisha White, who I have never heard of up to this single (the first CD single I have ever been motivated to buy or review) has the best black soulful female voice I have ever heard and she combines it with what, at this moment in time, I think is the best song I have ever heard.

Don’t mistake me is nothing short of musical perfection, her vocals really do compare with Aretha Franklin and completely eclipse W.Houston and the awful C.Dion. The song has a catchy chorus, a vocal style that is in some ways reminiscent of Candy Staton (but more powerful and versatile) and a hook that is as good as any I have ever heard. It is receiving wall to wall airplay on BBC radio 2 (UK) and Wogan continually describes it as his favourite song of the moment. I just hope it is a big hit. Keisha White also looks just about as good as she sounds. I will get the album once it is out and review it here. Finally the single only costs £1.99 in the UK and it will be the best two pounds you will have ever spent. (for an extra pound you also get the addition of the even more amazing and longer album version.) Here is her website for further info keishawhite.co.uk My rating: 10/10
posted 30.06.2006

Artist : Carpenters
Album : Applies to pretty much any or all of them

If you read many of the reviews on this blog you will quickly realise that my musical heart is definitely in MOR, but I have just realised that my all time favourite vocalist, and the antipathy of that kind of music, has no mention here.

Recently I have been listening avidly to the brilliant album by the Feeling and noticed on their website their unabashed support of nearly all my favourite bands from Queen to ELO to 10cc, but additionally the CARPENTERS.

Karen Carpenter simply had the greatest voice ever and the melodies and arrangements (many by brother Richard) are second to none. For info about them see this great site, Carpenters, which offers biog, album and track listings, or better still buy one of their greatest hits compilations.

If, as is quite likely, you were born after the premature death of KC, I guarantee that you will still be familiar with almost every song on any Carpenters compilation album, and the silky smooth voice and double tracked harmonies of Karen will quickly convert you to fan status. Classic singles include, Close to you, Yesterday once more, Rainy days and Mondays, Goodbye to love, Only yesterday, and the list just goes on and on – from 1969 to the mid 1980’s. My rating: 10/10
posted 03.11.2006

Artist : Scissor Sisters
Album : Ta dah

My wife bough the first Scissor Sisters CD and we have listened to it relentlessly, usually in the car and also on holidays, ever since. It has a great variety of songs on it and it has gradually grown on me to become one of my most listened to albums over the last 2 years.

We were both eagerly looking forward to Ta Dah and, having seen (in the UK) the stunning reviews, were expecting a lot. First single, I don’t feel like dancing, had already been No.1 for 3 weeks and my expectations were high. In fact we pre-ordered the CD and managed to get tickets to see them in November (and no they are not for sale), so I start from the position of being a big fan. Review of the Scissor Sisters live at the Hallam stadium, Sheffield

On a first listen I found Ta Dah slightly disappointing, it is very dance orientated and a few tracks seemed slightly weak. Over the next couple of weeks I did however have cause to review my initial thoughts as song after song got into my head and I anticipated finishing work and putting the CD on for another listen.

In actual fact Ta Dah is a classic album with brilliant track after brilliant track and some great guitar playing. Anamatronic also gets lead vocal on one track, Kiss you off – a rocker, but the rest of the time Jake is lead vocalist.

Frankly I like every song, but this is an album born of the late seventies and early eighties with glimpses of Earth Wind and Fire (on Lights – for me the best track), Wham on a couple of others, Elton John (who co-write 3 tracks), the BeeGees and subtle touches of half a dozen more disco icons. The ballads are also there, as is some humour (just like early Queen records).

To be honest this is really an album for anyone over 30 or perhaps 35 and that may explain the massive UK sales of both the SS albums. It does of course have universal appeal and it will be interesting to see if they can overcome the resistance to their image and sexuality in the US music market. Personally, I love the OTT image, clothes and lack of taking themselves too seriously, I wish all bands were still like that.

I will not bother to review every track, but just say that they are all great songs and there are two ballads, two slightly different tacks (one a bit like the New Seekers), one rocker and the rest are dance. The mix is just about as good as it gets. I suspect I will still be listening to this one in another 2 years time.

My rating: 10/10
posted 24.10.2006

Artist : The Feeling
Album : Twelve stops and home

What has happened to the British music charts?

15 years of total crap in the form of posing boy and girl bands (someone please kill Girls Aloud – and slowly and painfully the way they have injured my ears), songs that are nothing more than rip-offs of the original with a drum machine backing track, Rap with sampled choruses (the only reason they sell) and suddenly ----- REAL MUSIC is back.

The British album and singles chart are full of real and fantastic music again – even David Hasselhoff is in the top ten (humour is also back to life!).

Right at the top, for me at least, are the brilliant Feeling. I thought I would never again hear a band like the Feeling – real music, catchy but not crass choruses, superb musical arrangements, soaring guitar solos, a distinctive lead vocalist and an image that is so un-cool that it is turns coolness on its head to make them the coolest band around – or is it hot, I lose touch.

This album is absolutely faultless and as close to perfection as it gets. Their claimed influences of everyone from the seventies including Queen (hear the Brian May like solos), ELO (just listen to, I love it when you call), and even Karen Carpenter (listen for the pronunciation of waitin’, it might bring a tear to your eye if you are old enough).

I really did listen to this CD for the first time in total disbelief, I had given up on ever hearing this kind of MOR (and that is not “middle of the road”) music ever again!

The big challenge for the record company must have been selecting singles. To me every track sounds like one and they just get better with each new hearing! I have had this CD for a couple of months now and I like it more all the time. It also has 3 top 10 singles and Fill my little world, a hit from last year, even re-entered the chart 3 weeks ago on downloads alone.

If you like anything from the Carpenters to Queen you will love the Feelings Twelve stops and home, it is the perfect combination of rock and pop – just like music used to be.

My rating: 10/10
posted 24.10.2006

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