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Slave to the Wage
Slave to the Wage
Offered by SHOP@HOME
Price: $24.18
16 used & new from $5.98

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Decidedly Below-Par, September 14, 2002
This review is from: Slave to the Wage (Audio CD)
I wasn't too thrilled when Placebo traded their raw, punky energy for the predictable indie/metal dirge designed to appeal to The Average Goth. Without You I'm Nothing had it's high points, but t'was nothing compared to their fresh, non-pretentious debut. With this single however, Placebo appear to have lost the plot entirely. Taste in Men was decidedly average, and this continues the theme with its watered down minimalist approach.
These tracks sound shallow, lacking the density and power that make rock music great. Placebo sound as if they're disowning their roots to establish themselves as a unique band; but instead of creating something new and innovative, they trade their talent for a lack of melody, sloppy songwriting, and lyrics that make you cringe.
While Black Market Music exceeded (low) expectations, Slave to the Wage remains one of the weakest tracks on the album, and even earlier, pointless B-side remixes were better quality than the two dire songs featured here.

Wise Children
Wise Children
by Angela Carter
Edition: Paperback
87 used & new from $0.01

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious, Dramatic, Different, August 21, 2002
This review is from: Wise Children (Paperback)
Wise Children is a funny yet touching tale of the lives of a theatrical family. Narrated by one of the Chance twins, Dora, it charts the ups-and-downs of the twins' lives, as well as encounters with both loved and hated relatives; with almost every member of the vast family a theatrical performer.
I've read quite a few Angela Carter books, and (while Wise Children is still written in that unmistakable Carter style) it seems far more light-hearted than, for example: Love or The Magic Toyshop, and has a completely different vocabulary, as Carter adopts the voice of Dora Chance -- deliciously witty, with a strong feminist tone, relatively simple vocab, and an entirely unrelenting appetite for drama.
I was a little dubious about reading Wise Children, as the blurb implied a knowledge of Shakepeare would be beneficial when it came to understanding the book, and that the multiple sets of twins and family secrets would become highly confusing. While any subtle Shakepeare references (aside from the obvious) went right over my head, it seems that they played a minor part in the book, as it's full of raucous wit, bubbling personality, theatrical dramatics, and an inexhaustable thirst for life. As for the numerous characters and their relation to each other: Carter manages to evoke such a vivid picture and to bestow each character with such simplistic, unique features, that you become invovled in the Hazard/Chance story (therby avoiding any confusion.)
While the ending to this book seemed a little too good to be true, it fitted in with the unrealistic aspect of the book, and the dramatic nature of nearly every major character.
A great read (as with almost every Angela Carter book) I highly recommend Wise Children.

Paranoid & Sunburnt
Paranoid & Sunburnt
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Criminally Ignored, August 16, 2002
This review is from: Paranoid & Sunburnt (Audio CD)
There are various connotations that spring to mind when you hear the term "British Rock" but Skunk Anansie dare to break the mold. On this surprisingly strong and developed debut, they combine punk and metal to devastating effect, adding irresistably funky basslines and searing guitar riffs. Later in their career the band would add dark dance beats to their work, but this album is them at their rawest, heaviest and (in my opinion) best. Skunk Anansie manage to sound nothing like any of their peers, but the closest desciption that springs to mind would be a mixture of Rage Against the Machine's political rage, L7's bruising metal attack, early Red Hot Chili Peppers style funk and an attitude as powerful as the Sex Pistols' (but a lot more intellectual)
While not as commercial as Stoosh, I still believe this is accessible to any serious fan of rock and/or metal. Skunk Anansie also prove their sense of variety with slower, softer tracks like Weak and Charity. Little Baby Swastikkka is an inspired mixture of loud/soft dynamics, little girl whispers, malevolent riffs and sheer power.
Because of their nationality, they sometimes (wrongly) get lumped in with the British indie scene. Skunk Anansie should have made it in America, because (as well as being able to write great songs) they're blessed with a truly individualistic vocalist (Skin) who not only has one of the most beautiful and powerful female voices I've heard, but who puts her soul into the political lyrics and who actually has a clue about what she's singing.
Deliciously heavy, seething with rage, yet laden with catchy hooks and melodies: Paranoid and Sunburnt is a true gem.

Cat's Cradle: A Novel
Cat's Cradle: A Novel
by Kurt Vonnegut
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.81
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87 of 94 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, July 21, 2002
This review is from: Cat's Cradle: A Novel (Paperback)
I don't like sci-fi, but I loved this. This is the first Vonnegut I've read (I took a chance after reading so much praise for it) and it definitely won't be the last. It's one of those rare and wonderful books in the same vein as Animal Farm: simple prose, easy to read, yet with ironic tinges and thought-provoking depths; a novel that can be read and enjoyed at many different levels.
Cat's Cradle is narrated through Jonah, an author who aims to write a book on the single day the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. On investigating the atomic bomb's main founding father (and his three children) he is told about a *non-existant* substance with the capacity to provide all water on earth with a different molecular structure, turning it into Ice 9 (ie, a substance that could bring about the end of the world) A different assignment takes Jonah to the small island of San Lorenzo where he encounters Felix Hoenikker's three children and a society where the religion of choice (a religion that everyone knows is based on lies, yet still has utter faith in) is punishable by death, for the simple fact that it adds excitement to the dull lives of the inhabitants. I won't go any further...
The thing that delighted me most about this book was the way in which it was written. A lot of great and influential books are ones that (on the whole) you enjoy, but take a while to get into, and at times you feel like giving up on: you know the book in question is good literature, but the style and plot make finishing it seem a chore.
Similarly, a lot of fast-paced books hold little impact, don't challenge the mind and are forgotten the instant you read them.
Kurt Vonnegut has managed to write a powerful and memorable novel in a short, snappy style: this book has everything that makes a compelling, challenging read. Vonnegut lets you get a feel for the characters without going into lengthy descriptions, he manages to make sharp, subtle criticisms of religion, human nature and society without rambling or whining, his plot is exciting yet not unrealistic, he creates a hellish world that plays on everyone's fear of obliteration in precious few words. I thought the ending was too abrupt, but it fitted well with the rest of the story (and it would have been even more disappointing if he'd created a satisfying, everything-tied-up-nicely ending)
I found this impossible to put down, and highly recommend it to any fan of literature.

Jeremy / Footsteps / Yellow Ledbetter
Jeremy / Footsteps / Yellow Ledbetter
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flawless, July 20, 2002
I'm not a huge fan of singles: I prefer albums since they have a much longer running time and therefore let you get a better feel for the music. Singles are short, b-sides (not always, but sometimes) can be below-par, after the initial pleasure the same three tunes repeated tend to get old quick.
However, I consider this disc to be truly perfect, and the only single I listen to on frequent occasion.
Granted, the album version of Jeremy is longer (and IMHO better for it) but the cut takes away little of the impact of this incredible track. Jeremy was the song that introduced me to PJ (though its not my fave PJ song) and from the first strains of guitar I was hooked, by the time Eddie's voice kicked in it was apparant this was not a band I'd forget easily. Jeremy isnt just a classic of "grunge" nor is it merely a classic of the 90s. Its an alltime classic song that will no doubt stand the test of time.
Of course, thats not a reason to buy the CD, as the full version is featured on Ten.
But theres more....
Footsteps. Wow.
The third and final part of the Mamason trilogy (I wont explain the story since previous reviewers have already described it) its acoustic softness comes as a surprise after the guitar riffs in Alive and the troubled thunder of Once. But listening to it, you see its the same tortured character as appeared in those two songs: created and calling for help thru Eddie Vedder's hurt cry. I love Chris Cornell's voice, but the Temple of the Dog song Times of Trouble (same music as Footsteps, different vocals and vocal melody) holds little of the power Footsteps possesses, and the vocal melody uses the simple backing to soar, dip and tremble in a way the melody in ToT neglects to. Footsteps is the only PJ song thats brought tears to my eyes.... no, in fact the only song by anyone to do that.
Yellow Ledbetter is the reason I bought this CD. The (almost entirely) indistinguishable lyrics somehow contribute to the pain and sense of longing that resonates through this piece of utter perfection. I'd rate it among the top five Pearl Jam songs ever written.
Frustrating as it is, its impossible to describe the sheer bittersweet beauty of Yellow Ledbetter in words, you only have to listen to it to understand how affecting it is.
All three songs have the same nostalgic pain, they corrolate perfectly together in a way most singles neglect to do. You don't need to be a PJ fan to love this, you merely need to be a fan of music. Beauty and power are rarely as accesible as they are here.

American Thighs
American Thighs
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10 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Where's the fire?, July 7, 2002
This review is from: American Thighs (Audio CD)
I don't make a habit of writing bad reviews, but I don't see why everyone's so praiseworthy of this effort.
I love girl rock, and I bought this album after being impressed with Seether and Volcano Girls (the latter from a different record) I was discouraged when I realised almost every song on this album sounded like a 2nd rate Seether
I like the progressive slow chugging of 25, and the smouldering afore-mentioned Seether (and there are a couple more standout tracks that stick in your head) but as a whole I don't think this album stands up well at all. It lacks the fire that made Volcano Girls such a good tune, and to me the songs melt together into one slow, trudging mess of samey guitar-pop, every song with far too little to distinguish it from the one preceding.
I like a challenging listen but I've heard this loads and still don't see the attraction.
Too poppy to be a good indie album, not enough memorable tunes to be a good pop album; this was a big disappointment.

Choice Cuts (Greatest Hits)
Choice Cuts (Greatest Hits)
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic RocknRoll, June 23, 2002
What's to say about this collection?
Great hard rock that isn't afraid have songs laden with catchy hooks and melodies. So many metal bands today focus on heaviness and abandon the tunes.
From the enthusiastic We're an American Band, to the final energetic live recordings, this is an upbeat, getupandgo CD; though Jackyl show a darker, more mature side on songs like Secret of the Bottle, I Am the Walrus, and the melancholic Misery Loves Company. Surprisingly, they pull these slower, more thoughtful numbers off with ease and style.
Despite the fact that Jackyl appeared at the tail-end of the 80s hair metal breakthrough, they aren't popmetal. As they say themselves inside, they draw more influence from 70s hard rock, and their songs are strong and melodic enough not to have to resort to watered-down pop tunes or dire, pointless solos.
I don't know why many consider The Lumberjack to be Jackyl's greatest song. Granted, the chainsaw solos are original, but I'd say it was below the high standard of other tracks featured here.
My only complaints about this album are: the essay inside makes them sound pretty moronic (talking about alternative music: "we kicked the dawg!") Jesse James Dupree's voice can grate on the nerves after repeated listens, and Jackyl chose to release nothing in Britain. They could've reached a lot of people, don't they realise AC/DC are Scottish???
Those complaints don't overshadow the fact that this is a five star CD though: if you like good old-fashioned RocknRoll music then pick this up.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 30, 2008 9:49 AM PDT

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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Perfect Album, June 23, 2002
This review is from: Dust (Audio CD)
I've liked "grunge music" for quite a while, and when I eventually heard of the Screaming Trees, I downloaded the song Nearly Lost You. I liked it, but didn't think of it as anything special. After reading so much praise for Dust however, I decided to take a chance when I saw it second hand in a local record shop. I was blown away on the first listen.
Psychedelia and folk are genres I've never been drawn to, but the Screaming Trees have created such a unique, touching, folk/metal/psychedelia/grunge/genres-I-can't-quite-pinpoint hybrid it's impossible to resist.
Mark Lanegan shines: a husky, gorgeous voice that perfectly compliments the music, with moving and beautiful lyrics that match the quality of those of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden.
From the first frantic burst of Halo of Ashes to the final fading melancholy of Gospel Plow, every song is a winner.
I wouldn't class this as a grunge album, but I think it will appeal to open-minded fans of the genre. Criminally ignored and among my top five favourites, I consider Dust to be the most versatile (and perhaps one of the best) rock albums ever.

SCUM Manifesto
SCUM Manifesto
by Valerie Solanas
Edition: Paperback
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26 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An insult to feminism?, June 12, 2002
This review is from: SCUM Manifesto (Paperback)
Before you see the 4 stars and discard my review as another naive "Go Girl!" piece, understand that (although I liked the book) I strongly disagree with the author's theories.
When I think of feminism (and I know many will disagree) I think of strong women fighting for equality. EQUALITY, as in equal rights and no better gender. Solanas called herself a "superfeminist" (and is hailed by many as some sort of heroine) but her sexist attitudes and intolerant nature make her an insult to the cause.
This book is witty, bitter and an enjoyable read, but I view it in the same way as I'd view a racist, homophobic or xenophobic text - I realise that it's the product of a disturbed mind. Her life of prostitution and being abused by men explains her bitterness towards them, but it's no excuse for her violent hatred towards the entire male gender. As many reviewers have pointed out, if the roles had been reversed (a man writing about killing all women) it would never have been published, and would be considered extremely sexist: why should it be any different for a female author?
For the said supporters who seem to understand nothing of her politics: Sure, it's full of good quotes to use when your boyfriend's being an [jerk], but you can't seriously support her idea of a perfect world (devoid of all men) Not only are her theories blatantly discriminative, violent, intolerant and (what I consider to be) antifeministic; he idea of a perfect world just isn't practical.
Comment Comments (10) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 5, 2010 11:30 AM PDT

Fade (Laurel Leaf Books)
Fade (Laurel Leaf Books)
by Robert Cormier
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
93 used & new from $0.01

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, May 17, 2002
Robert Cormier's unique knack for capturing the turmoil of adolescence (and to a lesser extent adulthood) with a haunting sense of melancholy is displayed perfectly in this beautiful novel.
The book focuses on Paul, a boy who discovers he can "fade," or become invisible; a gift inherited from his uncle and passed on to Paul's future nephew. Paul sees it as a useful feature, but the things he sees while in the Fade shock and disturb him, alienating his from his friends, causing him to view the world in a different way. The bits narrated by Sally, the interlude by Paul's cousin, and the Olly section at the end are all well done and spice up the plot, but it's Paul's narration that I find most fascinating.
The author hasn't written a fantasy novel, he uses the fade to expand the idea of coming to terms with change and the pain suffered because of this supernatural ability. Just as Cormier exaggerated the search for identity in I Am The Cheese, he seems to use the fade as a metaphor for growing up. The initial delight, the confusion and disgust towards the things that corrupt innocent eyes, the weary character that emerges... all seem to link to the author's recurring theme of adolescence.
As usual, the characters conjured up are memorable and unique, and I love the way Paul's cousin casts them in different lights and adds a new dimension, challenging us to choose who we believe.
Aside from Paul, Olly is probably the boy that I remember most vividly; Paul's nephew who inherited the fade. Unwanted, he goes through life lonely and rejected, loved only by the nun that takes pity on him. When he discovers his ability to Fade, he sees it as a great tool and a secret only he knows, but soon becomes paranoid that people know about "his secret" and plan to conspire against him. His conscience wrestles with the voice inside his head, encouraging him to kill the few people who take an interest in his sorry life.
Haunting, gorgeous... All in all, a perfect book. Well worth your time and money.

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