Profile for Mark Barry > Reviews


Mark Barry's Profile

Customer Reviews: 820
Top Reviewer Ranking: 191
Helpful Votes: 7463

Community Features
Review Discussion Boards
Top Reviewers

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Mark Barry "Mark Barry" RSS Feed

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
Its Like You Never Left
Its Like You Never Left
Price: $23.99
25 used & new from $10.58

5.0 out of 5 stars "...Troubles To Mend..." - It's Like You Never Left by DAVE MASON (2014 Edsel CD Remaster), July 7, 2014
This review is from: Its Like You Never Left (Audio CD)
This is a smart reissue by Beat Goes On of the UK. Mason's 4th Solo album after Traffic has been languishing in digital Purgatory for years (with an early issue garnishing a hefty price tag). And second to his "Alone Together" album on Harvest in 1970 and the wonderful duet album with Mama Cass on Probe in 1971 - 1973's "It's Like You Never Left" has long been a fan favourite. Well they're going to love this beautifully handled remaster with its exceptional sound quality. Here are the cat-on-the-lap details...

UK released 9 June 2014 - Beat Goes On BGOCD 1153 (Barcode 501726211538) breaks down as follows (34:46 minutes):

Tracks 1 to 10 are the album "It's Like You Never Left" - originally released October 1973 on vinyl LP in the UK on CBS Records S 65258 and Columbia Records KC 31721 in the USA

The outer card wrap is a nice touch and gives all of these BGO reissues a classy look and feel. The 16-page booklet has superb liner notes by noted writer and music lover JOHN O'REGAN (before and after the album history) and comes complete with lyrics, photos of foreign 45s (Traffic included) and repro details of the inner gatefold sleeve of the original album. But it's the fabulous new 2014 ANDREW THOMPSON remaster that will thrill - it's gorgeous and reflects the staggeringly professional self Production job Mason did back in the day. Instruments are warm and clear and there's no compression to my ears - it's an album unleashed (bit of a lost class vibe going on too).

Three tracks on Side 1 feature the superb harmony vocals of Graham Nash adding real back-up punch - the opener "Baby...Please", then "Every Woman" and the excellent Side finisher "Head Keeper". A careful listen to the zippy "If You've Got Love" and you can quickly name-check the distinctive guitar playing style credited on the sleeve to `Son Of Harry' - it's George Harrison Of The Beatles using a pseudonym for contractual reasons.

But there's much better than that. The sheer melody and acoustic guitar playing on "Maybe" is more than impressive (lyrics from it title this review). The aching words could be a road map to Dave Mason's life - bad management - restrictive contracts - drug and alcohol abuse - relationship meltdowns. As a song - its extraordinarily pretty music - yet at its core is a strange darkness and pleading that I've always found moving (and haunting with phrases like "strangers until our dying day...").

Vocally too - Mason is also more confident than ever on this album - like he knows the material warrants his best - and the whole shebang is certainly helped by that thoroughly professional Production polish.

The two Side 2 openers are particular strong - "Misty Mountain Stranger" and the religious "Silent Partner" - both featuring blistering guitar work on Electric and Acoustic - sounding not unlike Emitt Rhodes at his Probe Records best. The funky "Side Tracked" has always been a soft touch for me - a sort of Peter Green/Fleetwood Mac instrumental Rock tune on a Soulful tip. With the rhythm section of Jim Keltner on Drums and Greg Reeves on Bass - it plays up a blinder.

"The Lonely One" features the distinctive Harmonica of Motown's legendary Stevie Wonder throughout and is easily the most commercial track on here. CBS Records issued it as a UK 45 in May 1974 on CBS S 2153 with "Misty Morning Stranger" as its B-side (delayed from April). It was a strong song-combo - but of course it went nowhere in Blighty at the time. Perhaps the "God's Eternal Son..." lyrics of peace and love were out of step with the changing Rock/Pop/Disco landscape.

So there you have it - a great album given a proper dust off and polish for 2014. Fans will need this and the curious should dig in and give it a lash.

There's a lot of quality songmanship and mature playing on Dave Mason's "It's Like You Never Left" - and its very sweetly presented too. Nice one...

Night Is Still Young/Golden Age of Rock N Roll
Night Is Still Young/Golden Age of Rock N Roll
Price: $29.47
25 used & new from $12.17

3.0 out of 5 stars "…It’s What You Do With What You Got…” by SHA NA NA (2014 2CD Remaster), July 2, 2014
Here in music mad Blighty - there is no mention of American Rock’n’Roll Revivalists band SHA NA NA in either the Record Collector Rare Record Price Guide 2014 or The Guinness Book Of Chart Hits. This is because this very US phenomenon meant precious little to people on this side of the pond. In fact even with the huge genre revival that took place in the early Seventies in England – SHA NA NA were not considered to be part of it – but cheesy Fifties copyists. And despite being so famous at home that they hosted their own TV Variety Show called “Sha Na Na” for five years and even appeared in the 1978 global mega-film “Grease” with John Travolta and Olivia Newton John - their albums would sit stubbornly in second hand racks up and down the UK – unloved and unappreciated.

Well here comes Britain’s Beat Goes On to brazenly change all of that – offering up for your delectation - two Double-CD reissues of their first 4 albums on Kama Sutra Records – remastered as always to perfection and presented with class and style. Here are the greasy hair and leather jacket details…

UK released 9 June 2014 – Beat Goes On BGOCD 1150 (Barcode 5017261211507) breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (36:31 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 13 are the album “The Night Is Still Young” – their 3rd LP released June 1972 in the USA on Kama Sutra Records KSBS 2050 and Kama Sutra 2319 019 in the UK

Disc 2 (77:16 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 29 are the Double Album “The Golden Age Of Rock’n’Roll” – their 4th set released April 1973 in the USA on Kama Sutra Records KSBS 2073-2

The outer card wrap is a nice touch and gives all of these BGO reissues a classy look and feel. The 16-page booklet has superb liner notes by noted writer and music lover JOHN TOBLER (before and after album history) and comes complete with recording info and period photos of the huge ensemble (12 plus members in the group). As ever the big news for fans is the 2014 ANDREW THOMPSON REMASTER – which is typically superlative (I’ve yet to hear a job done by this guy that hasn’t impressed).

Despite their reputation as a Rock’n’Roll act – their 3rd album “The Night Is Still Young” saw the group try to branch out on their songwriting-own (with limited success). It opens with the awful “Saturday Morning Radio” (“Glasses” is even worse) - but improves immediately with their raucous cover of Huey Smith’s “Sea Cruise” (made famous by Frankie Ford in 1959). Sha Na Na’s version was released as a UK 7” single on Kama Sutra 2013 045 in June 1972 with the Richard Nixon slag-off album track “The Vote Song” on its flip. The other UK 7” that made no impression was the chipper “Bounce In Your Buggy” with the rocking “Bless My Soul” on its B (Kama Sutra 2013 048 in September 1972). The original of “So Fine” by The Falcons featured Eddie Floyd and Wilson Pickett amongst their line-up – Sha Na Na decided to quicken its pace in keeping with their upbeat sound and stage shows. Many of the songs on the album were self-penned – and three of the best are “You Can Bet They Do”, “It Ain’t Love” and “It’s What You Do With What You Got” – gritty, Rock Funky and worthy of rediscovery. It ends on the more familiar territory of “In The Still Of The Night” – a cover of The Five Satins 1956 Vocal Group classic. It’s not a great album by any stretch of the imagination – but it has those cool moments.

“The Golden Age Of Rock’n’Roll” 2LP set was their biggest seller – reaching 38 on the US album charts and certified sales of half-a-million. With one studio album and one live – the huge set of 29 cover versions has it’s moments – but overall its dated badly – and makes for weary listening.

Sha Na Na will not be for everyone – but fans should dive in and enjoy the great sound and tasty presentation…

The Giant Mechanical Man
The Giant Mechanical Man
DVD ~ Jenna Fischer
Price: $13.49
42 used & new from $8.27

5.0 out of 5 stars “…Love And Hopeful Things…” – The Giant Mechanical Man (aka Love In Detroit/Darlek I Detroit) on DVD and 'BLU RAY'…, July 2, 2014
This review is from: The Giant Mechanical Man (DVD)
A few words about this overlooked nugget of a film that seems to have unwisely slipped everyone by.

Written and Directed by LEE KIRK in 2012 - its original title was "The Giant Mechanical Man" - which was quickly followed by its less difficult but more commercially feasible name - "Love In Detroit". To confuse matters even more - it appears to be only available to UK buyers as an import DVD or BLU RAY that goes under the name of "Karlek I Detroit" because it’s issued in SWEDEN.

I’m sensing that the sellers of this lovely movie bottled out of the quirky original title and opted for the horrid and cheesy "Love In Detroit" instead - also elevating the prettier Malin Akerman to the top of the cover (the blond) when she really only has a back part in the story (the original poster only includes the two principal leads at a bar).

Janice is a young slightly kooky temp (Jenna Fisher of the American TV series “The Office”) who can’t seem to hold down a job. One day on the train platform she spots a street mime artist that she somehow connects with. Tim is kind of hard not to miss - because he stands nearly ten feet tall and is painted head to toe in silver (Chris Messina of Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom” – he plays the character Reese Lansing who is Jane Fonda’s son in the TV show). Tim doesn’t engage with passers-by (except maybe a TV crew who spot an interesting morning segment). Feeling low – she engages in conversation with the still silver giant whom of course doesn’t flinch a muscle in keeping with his street art. But Tim has noticed Janice…

Tim’s pretty but ambitious girlfriend (Lucy Punch) has had enough of Tim’s art-for-the-people dreams – and leaves. Her brother is the same and gives poor Tim a pice of his mind (a fantastic speech by Bob Odenkirk – Let’s Call Saul in “Breaking Bad”). Tim now needs a job – so he gets one at a Zoo where he meets Janice. Without his make-up - they slowly and awkwardly edge towards each other (without her knowing of his alter ego). Thrown into the mix to tempt weak-kneed Janice is Topher Grace as a longhaired self-help book-selling twat. Will Janice be able to fend off her pushy sister’s interventions (Malin Akerman) in her hopeless love life? Will she stop dreaming of her teeth falling out? Will the two society misfits make it in a sometimes cold and meddlesome world?

The Region 1 DVD is "The Giant Mechanical Man" with the Blue Sleeve. But the BLU RAY is DANISH and uses their version/artwork of "Love In Detroit" as its title - "Karlek I Detroit". It has no region locking so will play on both B (UK and Europe) and A machines (USA). It's defaulted to 1:85 (16 x 9) Anamorphic which is FULL ASPECT - so there's no bars top or bottom. And more importantly - the picture quality is truly gorgeous – a beautifully filmed piece of work.

Subtitles are English, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish. I also think the "Love In Detroit" BLU RAY sleeve that is pictured on the Net and Amazon is a mock up that never appeared - it doesn't exist except with "Karlek I Detroit" on the sleeve.

A fabulous and genuinely touching film - “The Giant Mechanical Man” also uses locations in the presently much-maligned and bankrupt city of Detroit to amazing effect.

Give this gem a chance – I liked it so much – I had to buy it. I find hopeful and lovely things are like that…

Frost/Nixon [Blu-ray]
Frost/Nixon [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Frank Langella
Offered by newbury_comics
Price: $6.25
106 used & new from $1.74

5.0 out of 5 stars "...A Worthy Opponent..." - Frost/Nixon on BLU RAY, June 14, 2014
This review is from: Frost/Nixon [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
The first time I realized that Michael Sheen was going to be a great actor rather than a good one - was when I watched Ron Howard's superb 2008 film "Frost/Nixon" (nominated for 5 Oscars including Best Picture). Playing the late great Interviewer and Talk Show Host Sir David Frost - he was quite simply magnificent in the part - catching every nuance of the man's mannerisms and speech (the 68-year old Frost was actually on set during the making of the film). And Frank Langella as the wily disgraced ex American President Richard Milhous Nixon blew me away as well - reputedly immersing himself in the role for two years (even being referred to as "Mr. President" on set to keep in character and maintain the isolation of the most powerful man in the world).

And as if these two top leads weren't good enough - you also get Sam Rockwell as James Reston, Jr. (author and the conscience of the people), Kevin Bacon as Jack Brennan (Nixon's Chief Of Staff and right-hand man), Matthew MacFadyen as the London Weekend Television Director of Programs John Birt, Oliver Platt as ABC-News Producer Bob Zelnick and Rebecca Hall (of "Parade's End" fame) as Caroline Cushing - Frost's recently acquired sexy and stylish girlfriend. Other heavyweights include a brilliant Toby Jones as the hygiene-obsessed Irving "Swifty" Lazar (an agent who secured 2.3 million dollars for Nixon's Memoirs) and Andy Milder (of "Weeds") as Frank Gannon - a friend of chat-show queen Diane Sawyer.

This is a film about politics that needs a script smart enough to decipher its deceptive warrens for an audience - and screenplay writer Peter Morgan delivers again and again in powerhouse dialogues that both entertain and inform (adapted for screen from his own stage play). This is one of those rare films that has a moral centre and takes sides. Yet it also allows the thing to breath - for Nixon the human being to emerge - and gives you enough room to make up your own mind - hero or villain - or both.

I was 19 when these staggeringly intimate and loaded interviews happened in 1977 - and still remember their impact as they were broadcast around the world. Tricky Dicky had clearly thought that chat-show lightweight David Frost was simply going to be just anther easy manipulation. The 37th Commander In Chief also figured that he'd grab his $600,000 fee whilst simultaneously talking himself back into the nation's heart (as he'd done before the shame and blame of the Watergate break-ins and his resignation ahead of almost certain Presidential impeachment).

The attention to Seventies detail is truly fantastic - the archive footage of the Watergate Scandal, the Senate hearings that followed, the resignation of a sitting American President for the first time in 200 years on August 7th 1974, the garish clothes considered the height of style at the time, the reproduction of the Departure Area at Heathrow in 1977, the Beverley Hilton Hotel room where Frost and his people were encamped. Ron Howard even got two actual locations - 'La Casa Pacifica' - Nixon's mini White House home on the beaches of San Clemente and The Smith's home in Monarch Bay (also in California) where the 4 days and 28 hours of one-on-one no holes barred interviews were conducted.

Because Frost was a star at the time in both Australia and Britain and under pressure to deliver - the film smartly shows us that he had on occasion to be reminded by his aides of the worst crime of all - Nixon using the interviews as a way to exonerate himself with the electorate (and on his terms). But credit must go to the canny Frost who had other ideas - finally pushing the old Republican dog into admissions during their Titanic word spars. And of course that famous breakthrough television moment when Nixon finally offered up something of an 'apology' to the hurting American people - combined with what appeared to be a genuine tear of regret in his defensive bloodshot eyes. But even after it was all over and he was leaving The Smiths home like a beaten Gladiator - Nixon's media instinct kicked in. He walked over to a bystander to pet a Dachshund dog in her arms for all the cameras to see (some even saying that if there had been a mother and baby nearby - he'd have used them too). It spoke volumes of the man.

In the end was it all a way back in - a ploy - setting the ground for his next few decades of public works? Could you actually believe anything this consummate evader said? The relevancy of the film to today's political landscape couldn't be more apt - and acts as a warning - that we are governed by the 'truth tailored to suit' rather that just the 'truth'. To this day - the general consensus is that Richard Nixon did huge damage to American Politics while presiding over their most pointless and destructive war - Vietnam. And Gerald Ford's all-is-forgiven pardon in the next Presidency felt like a move and not a genuine exoneration.

The 2009 BLU RAY picture is properly gorgeous and the colours of the time beautifully rendered. You see so much detail - the flared trousers and plunging halter backs, afghan coats and velvet furnishings, bottle green chandeliers and orange Perspex signs. The EXTRAS are pleasingly long and informative too - over one hour of them including the Real Interviews (you really see how they captured the taste and feel of the room). AUDIO Set Up has three languages - English, Spanish Castellano and German; SUBTITLES are in English SDH, Spanish Castellano and German.

"Frost/Nixon" is a film that stays with you - a sort of historical reminder that accountability in public office must always remain transparent - lest the lies of our handlers and the hissing of snakes swallow us all...

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels [Blu-ray]
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Price: $9.99
44 used & new from $7.63

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "…Not The Royal Ring Your Highness!" – DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS on BLU RAY, June 14, 2014
I’ve a vivid memory of first watching "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" on DVD about 20 years ago. My wife Mary Anne was 8 months pregnant with our daughter Julia at the time – and there’s a scene where Michael Caine (as bogus Austrian Psychiatrist Dr. Emil Schauffhausyn) starts whacking the bare legs of a supposedly immobile Steve Martin with a bamboo cane from a nearby flower display (they’re both working a con). "Zer is no pain?" Caine gleefully enquires in a slightly Nazi voice as Steve Martin grimaces – trying to look dead from the waist down. My missus was screaming with laughter so loud – I thought she was actually going to drop the sprog on the living room couch as we watched. That sort of thing stays with you…

Like "Heartbreakers" (a woman’s caper movie with Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt), "Midnight Run" (with Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin) or "The Birdcage" (with Robin Williams and Nathan Lane) - "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" is viewed with huge affection in our house and I would contend is a bit of a comedic jewel. And now at last in 2013 its finally on BLU RAY – looking suited and booted and worthy of your Spondulicks.

Michael Caine plays Englishman Lawrence Jamieson – a world-class confidence man and charmer of the opposite sex living in villa luxury in Beaumont-Sur-Mer in the South of France. Lawrence drives around in an open-top Rolls Royce working rich socialites with a perfectly honed Royal Prince routine – giving them spiel about 'freedom-fighter subjects' who need cash as he strikes a Regal pose (hand in jacket) under the moonlight. "You've already risked too much in just talking to me…damn you’re attractive!"

Lawrence is ably aided in this well-breed playboy caper by Inspector Andre of the local Police (Anton Rodgers) and a savvy Butler Arthur (Ian McDiarmid – the Emperor in Star Wars) – both of whom get a cut in the takings. Lawrence is also smart enough to only prey on jewellery types who have enough money to lose. About to work his down-on-his-luck-widow speech on his next victim (dialogue above) - Andre whispers to Lawrence about Fanny Eubanks of Omaha who is sat in a lavish sequin dress at a casino roulette table nearby (Barbara Harris) - "She's extremely rich, very married, eminently corruptible and a willing infidel…" Lawrence grins and says, "Perfect", as he moves in for yet another Monarchy kill.

But one day on the train back from Zurich (where he’s deposited his latest earnings) – he overhears a two-bit American hustler Freddy Benson (Steve Martin) work a woman in the luxury dining carriage out of a $20 meal by giving her a sob story about his ill grandmother 'gram-gram'. Lawrence smirks knowingly but thinks no more of this rank amateur. But then the Yank barges into his first class cabin and Lawrence realizes to his horror that Freddy is headed for his Riviera 'patch' and will need to be dealt with. But various tricks to get this 'poacher who might scare away big game' out of town aren’t working and soon the street-savvy Freddy works out what’s going on and wants in on the action. The talented fraudsters become unwilling push-and-pull ego partners and Lawrence begins training Freddy in the skills of the big con. Meanwhile there’s talk in the newspaper of a new trickster on the block nicknamed "The Jackal" working his way across Europe – a man so good at his art – he may even outdo our cocky duo.

But then a naïve young American heiress from Cleveland called Janet Colgate (Glenne Headly) arrives into The Grand Hotel and a bet is set between the two men as to who can dupe her out of $50,000 first. But they soon realize that in their loser-must-leave-town wager – Janet isn’t one of those luridly wealthy marks but a woman with little funds and a lot to lose.

Part of the fun of Frank Oz’s 1988 film is the fabulous cons and great dialogue. Freddy is in jail for duping a Ferrari driving wealthy lady out of cash and being ‘with another woman’. Andre remarks, "To be with another woman – that is French. To be caught – that is American". When Lawrence is talking to Freddy about how he started and why the upstart should leave, he explains - "I had taste and style…but not talent. I knew my limitations. We all have our limitations Freddy. And you should know yours. You’re a moron…"

But the funniest stuff is kept until well into the movie - when Glenne Headly turns up and the con is on. Freddy dresses up as a wheelchair-bound Naval Officer who can no longer walk because he saw his girlfriend dance with the host of Dance USA – while Lawrence pretends to be the one psychiatrist in the world who can help him with walking (fees of $50,000) – Dr. Emil Schauffhausyn of the Lichtenstein Institute. Will avarice win the day – will Freddy ever be able to walk again without genital cuffs – or will The Jackal nip in at the last minute and dupe them all? And on it goes to someone somewhere being rightly and royally screwed…

Defaulted to 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio - the BLU RAY picture fills the entire screen and given its ‘shot entirely on location in Nice’ render - it looks fabulous. There are definitely moments when speckles appear on the negative and overall definition is not anything by today’s standards – but the bottom line is that it now looks properly cinematic and a lot better than the DVD I’ve had all these years.

EXTRAS include two Trailers, an Audio Commentary by Director Frank Oz, and a Behind-The-Scenes Featurette with all three lead actors, Director, Writer, Producer, Designer and Crew. AUDIO is English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Portuguese Mono, Spanish, French, Italian, German and Castellano Surround Dolby Digital 2.0. SUBTITLES are in English SDH, Portuguese, Italian, German SDH, Japanese, Mandarin, Danish, Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish, Spanish, French and Hebrew (much of this isn’t on the box).

"Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" is glorious escapist entertainment with actors thoroughly enjoying themselves – all guided by the huge experience of Muppets genius Frank Oz.

Janet says of Freddy after he’s had his legs repeatedly whacked by Dr. Schauffhausyn - "He's so happy…he’s crying!"

Buy this fab film on BLU RAY and you will be too…

Live at Last!/Sails of Silver
Live at Last!/Sails of Silver
Price: $26.47
21 used & new from $11.95

4.0 out of 5 stars "…Set My Sails For The Sun…" – Live At Last and Sails Of Silver by STEELEYE SPAN (2014 Beat Goes On Remasters), June 13, 2014
Steeleye Span fans are going to enjoy BGO’s remasters of these forgotten English Folk Rock albums from 1978 and 1980 – both CDs sporting top quality audio and classy presentation. Here are the bonnie wee details…

UK released 2 June 2014 – Beat Goes On BGOCD 1147 (Barcode 5017261211477) breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (49:39 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 7 are the album "Live At Last!" – originally released November 1978 in the UK on Chrysalis Records CHR 1199. It was their 11th album and first live set (recorded 8 March 1978 in Bournemouth) - issued shortly after the band had disbanded.

Disc 2 (37:32 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 10 are the album "Sails On Silver" – originally released November 1980 in the UK on Chrysalis CHR 1304. It was their 12th album and the first studio LP with the re-formed band.

Housed in a pretty card slipcase – the 16-page booklet is extensive and features new liner notes by noted writer John O’Regan. But the big news is the Andrew Thompson remasters which are superbly done – clarity and muscle – even if the cluttering instruments of “Sails” threaten to drown everything.

For an onstage album – the sound quality is incredible on "Live At Last!" – amazing clarity and presence. In fact at times it sounds like the record was recorded 'live' in a studio – every instrument beautifully reproduced and the vocals full of resonance and depth. The prelude chat to the crowd before "Bonnets So Blue" about fertility dances and things that go limp in the night is very witty and greeted with appreciative hoots. But at 14 minutes plus I find "Montrose" just too long for comfort. "Saucy Sailor" combines with the Brecht/Weill song "Black Freighter" and features Maddy Prior in great voice – convincingly switching between Folk Rock one moment and English lullaby the next.

The first studio album of the new decade moved away from purist Folk and into the Eighties penchant for multi-layered production and slick songs. I remember it was met with both praise and derision at the time. "Sails On Silver" opens up with the rocking title track (lyrics above) where the band sounds like Fairport Convention on a Prog Rock bender. The slick Gus Dudgeon production values continue on the sophisticated and lovely melody of "My Love" with its treated acoustic guitars and electric pianos. But neither "Barnet Fair" nor "Senior Service" has dated well – hustling to be singles at the time - but sounding utterly naff now.

Things pick up with the ballad "Gone To America" and Side 2 opens with the excellent "Where Are They Now" where the Rock and Folk traditions meet and work. "Let Her Go Down" is pretty too but "Longbone" has a poorly produced echo vocal that irritates. It ends on the violin melody of “Marigold/Harvest Home” and the acoustic builder "Tell Me Why" which is probably the best song on what I think is a patchy album.

Steeleye Span divide British Folk fans – they were neither here nor there – and on the evidence of what’s presented here – it’s easy to see why. When they were good – they were superb. But like so many acts in the Eighties – they seemed to lose track of everything that mattered – tunes and musical roots got replaced by technicality and polish and over-production.

Having said that – this is a quality reissue - superb presentation and great audio remasters. The faithful should dig in and enjoy...

Matthews Southern Comfort / Second Spring
Matthews Southern Comfort / Second Spring
Price: $17.78
34 used & new from $9.36

4.0 out of 5 stars "...Leave This Troubled World Behind..." - Matthews' Southern Comfort and Second Spring by MATTHEWS SOUTHERN COMFORT, June 12, 2014
Back in the mists of 2008 - I reviewed this British Folk Rock group's superb third album "Later That Same Year" (also on Beat Goes On). And I've been meaning to get to this first-two-LPs-on-one-CD reissue for some time now. Here goes...

UK released June 1996 on Beat Goes On BGO515 (reissued December 2008 with the same Catalogue No and Barcode 5017261203137) - it breaks down as follows (76:06 minutes):

Tracks 1 to 12 are their debut vinyl album "Matthews' Southern Comfort" - released January 1970 in the UK on Uni Records UNLS 108 and Decca DL 75191 in the USA (both in gatefold sleeves and with an insert)

Tracks 13 to 21 are their 2nd LP "Second Spring" - released June 1970 in the UK on Uni Records UNLS 112 and Decca DL 75242 in the USA (both with an insert)

The eagle-eyed collectors among you will notice that there are two non-album 7" single B-sides from the period that are missing. First is "The Struggle" - a B-side to "Colorado Springs Eternal" - the only single lifted off the debut album on Uni Records UNS 513 issued in January 1970. Second is "Parting" - a B-side to "Ballad Of Obray Ramsey" - the only 7" taken off the 2nd LP on Uni Records UNS 521 issued May 1970. Not to fear - they are both BONUS TRACKS on the "Later That Same Year" Beat Goes On CD remaster (BGOCD 807) along with both sides of their other non-album single - "Woodstock" b/w "Scion" (see separate review).

The 16-page booklet cleverly reproduces the gatefold inner of the debut LP on its inner spread while the lyric sheets that accompanied both original LPs have been reproduced also - but using the drawing face shots on the back sleeve of the 2nd LP in between text (its nicely done). The short but hugely informative liner notes are by noted Musicologist JOHN TOBLER.

The remaster was done back in 1996 at Sound Recording Technology in Cambridge (doesn't say who) and it's really sweet - especially on the far better recorded second LP.

The debut was meant to be an Ian Matthews solo album. In fact the band's name was a mistake - named after the last track on the second LP "Southern Comfort" (written by Sylvia Fricker). But Matthews Southern Comfort somehow stuck. In fact when Ian Matthews left - the group continued as "Southern Comfort" on Harvest Records. And yet despite its lavish gatefold sleeve and the inclusion of heavyweight Fairport Convention players like Gerry Conway, Ashley Hutchings, Richard Thompson and Simon Nichol - the debut LP in my eyes firmly defies flight. Weak songs are the culprits. Looking through the song credits you see the name Steve Barlby - which turns out to be a pseudonym for songwriters Ken Howard and Alan Blaikeley - who were his management team at the time. Part of the recording contract deal was that he had to use some of their songs - and bluntly they're not what the MSC sound was about. The other pseudonym on "Fly Pigeon Fly" is Hamwood - which turns out to be the duo of Albert Hammond and Mike Hazelwood. The organ on "Thoughts For A Friend" is clumsy - "The Castle Far" sounds like some dreadful madrigal - but "A Commercial Proposition" written by Richard Thompson is more like it.

"Second Spring" is everything the debut should have been - it's properly brilliant and has stood the test of time too. The presence of ace guitarist and melody strong Carl Barnwell makes his presence known with "Moses In The Sunshine" and "Even As" - which like "Woodstock" practically defines the mellow sound that people love them for. The Traditional "Blood Red Roses" is done Acapella and is gorgeous - as is the impossibly pretty Matthews original "Tale Of The Trial". I've always felt that their stunning cover of James Taylor's Apple debut song "Something In The Way She Moves" should have been the lead off single instead of the banjo plucking "Ballad Of Obray Ramsey" - it's a gem (lyrics from it title this review). It ends on the epic eight minute "Southern Comfort" which feels like Fairport in full flight meets MSC. Very tasty...

So there you have it - a debut that promises much but delivers little - and a follow up that nails it. Their third and last album "Later That Same Year" followed in November of 1970 and was just as strong as "Second Spring" (the CD remaster of "Later" also contains those four quality bonus tracks).

"Matthews' Southern Comfort / Second Spring" is a really lovely CD reissue by Beat Goes On of the UK - and brings back such fond memories...

Compleat Tom Paxton: Recorded Live
Compleat Tom Paxton: Recorded Live
Price: $19.28
23 used & new from $12.20

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "...To Love You Again..." - The Compleat Tom Paxton - Recorded Live by TOM PAXTON, June 12, 2014
The original vinyl double album "The Compleat Tom Paxton - Recorded Live" was taped across two nights in New York's famous Folk and Rock Venue "The Bitter End" in June 1970 and released in March 1971 on Elektra 7E-2003 in the USA and Elektra EKD 2003 in the UK (later reissued November 1975 as Elektra K 62004 in the UK). This superb 2CD reissue is a straightforward remaster (without bonuses) of his final set for Elektra Records (he then signed to Reprise after that). Here are the Folk Troubadour details...

UK released June 2014 on Beat Goes On BGOCD 1148 (Barcode 5017261211484) - Disc 1 is the first LP (13 tracks, 43:25 minutes) while Disc 2 is the 2nd (13 tracks, 43:05 minutes). [Note: there is a now deleted Rhino Handmade 2CD reissue from 2004 called "Even Compleater" which offers up more from the concerts - see separate entry and higher price].

As with all these Beat Goes On CD reissues nowadays - it comes in a tasty outer card slipcase and features a very detailed booklet (20 pages) with great liner notes by noted musicologist JOHN O'REGAN. But the big news as ever is the new 2014 gorgeous remaster by ANDREW THOMPSON - it's very clean and warm. There is hiss on some tracks but its neither dampened by noise reduction nor amplified to impress. The music is as it was - just better.

Already a near 10-year musical veteran by the time he made this recording - Tom Paxton was comfortable with his songs, his voice, his conscience and knew exactly how to perform to a literate audience. There's a fabulous intimacy about the gig - and his repartee with the enthralled crowd oozes out of every track (I'm reminded of Don McLean's gorgeous "Solo" double live set from 1976). A good example of this is the long spoken preamble to "Talking Vietnam Pot Luck Blues" called "Bayonet Rap" where its wordplay/political undercurrent is beautifully thought out. It's about pre-training in Kansas for young American men drafted into the US Army and features very funny and perceptive observations ("Crawl in the mud under barbed wire...stuff you can use..."). It also touches on the madness of the war once the naive college kids got there - scared G.I.s discovering 'grass' in Vietnam ("The whole platoon was flying high...chanting something about Hare Krishna..."). Disc 1 finishes on an aural double whammy-high - a stunning story song called "Jimmy Newman" and his popular Sixties hit "Outward Bound".

The ballads are especially pretty - "All Night Long" and the plaintive "Leaving London" - a tune about longing for a girl, returning to her and flying home (lyrics from it title this review). And both "Leaving London" and the lovely "Angie" benefit hugely from the beautifully complimentary piano playing of David Horowitz. Disc 2 continues with more of the same - "About The Children" and "The Last Thing On My Mind" mellow and impressive.

This is a quality reissue by BGO and a good reminder of the power of a man, a guitar and a sharp mind...

Tim Buckley
Tim Buckley
Offered by AVMerch
Price: $10.99
38 used & new from $8.89

5.0 out of 5 stars "...Old Love...New Love..." - Tim Buckley by TIM BUCKLEY (2011 Rhino Handmade 2CD Expanded Remaster), June 11, 2014
This review is from: Tim Buckley (Audio CD)
There are those who call Tim Buckley's music 'magical' whilst others dismiss his Jazz style arrangements and vocal gymnastics as 'grating' or even 'nonsense'. I'm firmly in the first category (he was a bona-fide genius and true innovator). And despite its reputation as a good 'beginning' or lesser work (even amongst rabid fans) - I'd argue that there's genuine beauty to be rediscovered on his 1966 self-titled debut album "Tim Buckley" - reissued here in grand style and with great respect by Rhino Handmade of the USA. Here are the aural highs and lows...

USA released October 2011 (November in the UK) - Rhino Handmade/Elektra RHM2 526087 breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (69:37 minutes)
Tracks 1 to 12 are the STEREO version of his debut album "Tim Buckley" - released October 1966 in the USA on Elektra Records EKS-74040. Tracks 13 to 24 are the MONO Mix on Elektra Records EK-4040

Disc 2 is PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED (53:01 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 12 are by THE BOHEMIANS (his first group) and are Demos recorded 8 November 1965 in Anaheim, California. The line up was: TIM BUCKLEY - Vocal and Rhythm Guitar, JIM FELDER - Bass, LARRY BECKET - Drums and BRIAN HARTZLER - Guitar.
Tracks 13 to 22 are ACOUSTIC DEMOS recorded during the summer of 1966 in Anaheim, California with Buckley on Vocals and Guitar. Larry Beckett provides Lead Vocals on two songs - "Found At The Scene Of A Rendezvous That Failed" and "Birth Day" while providing the Intro to "Song Slowly Song" (all other vocals Buckley).

The presentation is lovely. An over-sized outer card wrap (rustic cardboard effect) is held in place by a ribbon on the rear. Opening the three-way fold out card sleeve gives you a 5" card repro of the album artwork on the left with a mock-up Elektra Records "Previously Unreleased' sleeve in the centre and on the left - a 20-page oversized booklet with superbly informational liner notes by American Writer THANE TIERNEY (with the overall project handled by Mason Williams). But the big news for fans is the gorgeous sound and the new extras.

Remastered from original tapes by original Engineer BRUCE BOTNICK - both mixes of the album reveal lovely detail. There's hiss for sure but it's natural - Botnick has allowed the recordings to breath and the feeling of intimacy is so pronounced as to make you double take (no compression nor loudness). I also couldn't believe how good the straight-out-of-your-speakers Mono mix sounds - so punchy and full of power. "Strange Street Affair Under Blue" sounds so Doors in Mono - while the ethereal and trippy "Song Of The Magician" and "Song Slowly Song" both 'feel' better in Stereo.

After cutting his chops on stage - Tim Buckley was only 18 when he was contracted to Elektra Records (allegedly the same day they signed The Doors). The Doors connection continued by having Paul Rothchild and Bruce Botnick as Producer and Engineer respectively. Tracks like the jaunty "Song For Janie" and "I Can't See You" show a level of songwriting maturity that is spine tingling. The guitar phrases in "I Can't See You" even sound a little like Jeff Buckley's "Grace". But it's the pretty tunes like "Valentine Melody" and "Song Slowly Song" that move you - where his amazing octave range is given flight. The lovely "Wings" also benefits from the string-arrangements of JACK NITSCHE while "Aren't You The Girl" has VAN DYKE PARKS on various keyboard instruments.

The liner notes explain that the Demos on CD2 are just that - crudely cut demos (courtesy of The Bohemians). There are wobbles, dips and instruments buried way back in the mix of the November 1965 session - but historically it's extraordinary stuff to be hearing after all these decades. "I've Played That Game Before" is new but far prettier is "Here I Am". Thankfully the second batch of personal demos features a far warmer recording and therefore ups the intimacy. Over and over - his voice strikes you. "My Love Is For You" is ok - "Birth Day" is awful and "Long Time" is nice.

So there you have it - gorgeous remasters of the original album - with both mixes warranting inclusion - and some nice new songs on CD2.

He would go on to greatness with "Happy Sad" and especially "Blue Afternoon" followed by a cool and desirable "Starsailor". And on 17 Nov 1966 - Tim and his wife Mary would bring a son into the world called Jeffrey Scott Buckley who would also go on to musical greatness and life sadness. But this is where the Buckley legend begins.

My only wish is that Rhino Handmade makes good on the rumour that "Happy Sad" and "Blue Afternoon" will both follow in this lavish series. What a thought...

The Front Page
The Front Page
DVD ~ Jack Lemmon
Price: $9.32
52 used & new from $3.53

5.0 out of 5 stars "...May The Wind At Your Back Never Be Your Own..." - The Front Page on BLU RAY, June 11, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Front Page (DVD)
It's 6 June 1929 - and Walter Burns is pouring Bromide from one glass into another. Nice guy Editor of the not-so-quality broadsheet The Chicago Examiner - Walter's stomach isn't churning from the 95 cent special he eat that morning - nor the constant Lucky Strike cigarette hanging out of his expletive worn dentures - nor from hearing dire poetry written by a snooty opposition reporter from The Tribune about his 'silver-haired mother'. It's from the way his city is going to execute Earl Williams the following morning at seven a.m. (a naïve socialist whose been hysterically blown up in the media as a Commie threat because he supposedly murdered someone). Chicago has the barefaced gall to hang the be-speckled puny sap - and Walter knows you can't get a decent headline from a hanging. "Now if only it was the electric chair..." Walter enthuses. "EARL WIILIAMS - FRIES! EARL WILLIAMS - ROASTED ALIVE!"

As you can imagine "The Front Page" is old-fashioned funny. Based on the 1928 play by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur (itself filmed with Cary Grant as "His Girl Friday" in 1940) - the adapted screenplay by the legendary duo of Director Billy Wilder and Writer I.A.L. Diamond ("Some Like It Hot", "The Apartment" and "Avanti!") offers what you'd expect - rapid-fire dialogue that can only be described as comedic genius. Throw two of Wilder's favourite leading men into this hardboiled hijinx - Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon - and magic will happen more often than not. But despite its commercial success - critics disliked this retro film - calling it wildly out of place in the harsh reality-filled movie landscape of 1974. But I've always loved it.

The story goes something like this. On the eve of the Earl Williams hanging - Walter Burns' best reporter Hildebrand 'Hildy' Johnson (Lemmon) waltzes into his office whistling a love song. He announces that he's quitting the 'racket' and is heading off to Philadelphia on the midnight train to marry his new fiancé Peggy Grant (an early role for Susan Sarandon) - a pianist who plays a sing-a-long version of "Take Good Care Of Yourself" on the organ at the Balaban and Katz Theatre. Her uncle is in advertising. Burns is unimpressed. "Jesus Hildy! You're a newspaperman! You're gonna write poetry about brassieres and laxatives!"

But then a stroke of luck sees Earl Williams (Austin Pendleton) escape during a bungled psychiatric examination (to see if he's sane enough to hang) with a loony Austrian shrink (Martin Gabel) and Sherriff "Honest Pete" Hartmann (a manic and entirely dishonest Vincent Gardenia). The luckless condemned man ends up in the Press Room of the Cook County Community Court House hiding out in a desk bureau with a bullet in his arm and innocence in his heart. A hooker (Carol Burnett) who befriended him and has a soft spot for the sap takes a dive into the courtyard to distract the press hacks ("Shady lady leaps for love!"). Walter comes over to the Court House to find Hildy hiding Williams there and the two plot a way to get him out of the building and pull off a major Chicago Examiner exclusive (remove Williams and the writing bureau by crane). There's even a reprieve from the Governor for Williams if only he can get it in time. And on it goes...

Much of the humour comes from a series of brilliant lowlife dialogue pieces - Walter calls the bungling Sheriff "Stooge of Stalin or Simply Stupid!" - when highbrow reporter Bensinger from The Tribune (an effeminate David Wayne) calls in to his re-write team - a gutter press hack whose playing poker for nickels nearby listens in on his conversation to nick his ideas (so you get the quality versus the gutter). Bensinger - "The city is preparing for a general uprising of radicals at this time. Sheriff Hartmann has placed extra guards around the jail, the municipal buildings and railroad stations..." Murphy's version - "The Sheriff has just put 200 more relatives on the payroll to protect the city from the Red Army who are leaving Moscow in a couple of minutes..." When Burns tries to fool Peggy Grant into believing Hildy is a sex pervert by turning up as Otto Fishbine his Parole Officer (he nicked a star from a film poster outside to pretend it's a official badge) - he says - "He's not really a criminal! He's just sick!"

Of course you have to single out the fabulous Walter Matthau - who is custom made for this kind of wiseass role. His Burns is devious, ruthless and gloriously tacky - "We need some last words Hildy...if necessary make them up yourself!"

I've had the US DVD of this film for years and the print was always only OK - and nothing better. Unfortunately this Universal BLU RAY released in Germany as "Extrablatt" (Barcode 4250124342807) clearly uses those same elements. There's lots of natural grain and only a bit of clarity improvement. The EXTRAS are few - Biogs on the big three (Lemmon, Matthau and Wilder) with rare but interesting publicity cards from the German release - but nothing else about the movie. There's a German/English language choice on the opening menu and trailers to other old releases - but that's it. Cheap and cheerful I'm afraid - and a damn shame no restoration has been done.

Director Billy Wilder has gone on record as saying that he shouldn't have made a remake and thought "The Front Page" wasn't his best work. But even by his lofty standards - 50% of Billy Wilder is still funnier than 100% of what today's gross-out clowns pass off as 'hilarious'.

When Hildy Johnson drops in to have a final drink with his Press Room buddies - Murphy (Charles Durning) gives him a whiskey toast with the title to this review. "May the wind at your back never be your own..." Now that's funny.

"The Front Page" may not be genius in 2014 - but it's a tabloid I'll soil my backside with any day of the week...

PS: see also my reviews for other Billy Wilder classics - the BLU RAY of "The Apartment" and the DVD of "Avanti!"

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20