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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The cure for being stuck in your room during a rainstorm., February 6, 2003
This review is from: Disintegration (Audio CD)
If you've ever been in that kind of mood where absolutely nothing is going right in your life and you just feel like crawling into a hole to die somewhere, this is a band that you could find potential solace in. The Cure (aka tormented lead vocalist and guitarist Robert Smith with rotating backing musicians over the years) are widely regarded as a major influence on the goth music scene, and that is pretty much true. Their gloom and doom soundscapes, often dirgey song arrangements and miserable lyrics of several of their numbers seemingly offer little hope from a bleak existence.
At this point in The Cure's history, Robert Smith seemed to be incorporating more and more uptempo pop tunes into the songwriting, but on this one, he seemed to have a serious change of mood. Apparently, he decided that instead of using the double length 70+ min. material for the kind of stuff that was so prominent on Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, he just felt like stretching the songs out to long lengths (several of them hit the 7 to 9 minute range), and an absolutely miserable mood throughout. Pornography might beat out this one in being the bleaker album overall, but this one speaks to me a lot more. It is crammed with well-developed melodies and a majestically beautiful tone to the bleak guitar lines and keyboards.
The most notable thing about this album, though, is that these instrumental parts are, at their best, amazing. Occasionally, the listener might think that a particular band has hit upon the perfect instrumental part that appears to be so simple, yet seems to timelessly come out of nowhere to rise the song to new heights in such a way they might wish the song could go on forever. Well, this is exactly the impression I get during several of the songs here, and it could be used to perfectly assess the keyboard and guitar majesty of the opening "Plainsong," as it has unique textures. And the steady rhythm, keyboard tones, guitar line and the gloomy lyrics come to form a melancholy minor masterpiece like "Last Dance," maybe one of the quintessential songs in defining the album's impact.
"Pictures Of You," meanwhile, is essentially a 7-minute groove that, in its repetitive guitar and bass parts, doesn't really have any build to it at all, but then why is it so gorgeous and addictive? It's instrumentally majestic, and it's more proof of Smith's terrific songwriting skills. This otherworldly sound even helps a song that might have sounded like filler otherwise ("Closedown") absolutely come to life. When they attempt a more hard-edged sound, like on "Fascination Street," the effect is breathtaking enough for me to call this song, among a few others on this album, one of the ultimate exercises in minimalism - there's nothing remotely complex about that bassline or guitar part at all, but the way it builds together in its simplicity with that magical tone, the overall energy, and that atmosphere...let's just say that the lyrics and vocals really add to that once they come in.
Sometimes, though, the minimalism of this album takes getting used to - the first time I heard the title track, for instance, I was horribly bored by it. All it consists of is a simple, plodding dance groove with the same rhythm and guitar part over and over with occasional choir-like backing vocals for 8 minutes, but be patient with this one - it grows on you. Somehow, this one is thoroughly addictive in all its plodding tendencies. The melody is insanely catchy, and the pace gradually seems to rise all the time by way of the lyrics (which are some of Smith's best ever - pure poetry). And unfortunately, on occasions the epic tendency gets out of hand. "The Same Deep Water As You" is a really slow 9-minute exercise in melody-less despairing boredom. It doesn't go anywhere or captivate at all. I could say the same thing about "Homesick" which has very nice piano work, but really not much of a melody, and it drags at 7 minutes. "Lovesong" is an excellent track and I won't diss it, but the radio-friendly 3-min. time and poppy sound makes it feel a little out of place here.
Wow, somehow I've gone reviewing this whole really lengthy album (12 tracks, 72 minutes) without mentioning "Lullaby," a scary little tune that I love. Everything about the music is just extremely ominous and creepy, from the violin-like keyboards to the haunting guitar parts, with Smith singing in a quiet and calm voice to further add to the terror, and of course, the lyrics about how the "spiderman is having me for dinner tonight" work about as great as they possibly can. This song, like everything else on the album, should be played loud in the dark. This album is great, with only a few overlong and boring moments keeping it from classic status. The best material here is just astonishing work and makes it my favorite Cure disc, and as a whole, it ranks as The Cure's darker side at its most quintessential.

Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables
Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables
Offered by Supply Chain Direct
Price: $16.09
23 used & new from $0.33

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Looking forward to death, February 6, 2003
One of the most important, influential hardcore punk albums of all time, it's not hard to see why this album is as widely regarded as it is. First of all, the innovation is unignorable. This is pretty much the first hardcore record ever made (though there are some similar bands that came out around the same time, so that's debatable), and the sound is uniformly harsh and aggressive. While this could grate on some people, it's all done so well throughout that I have no complaints. Quite simply, there are no bad songs on the record. Even if one or two of the songs aren't quite as good as the others, there are no low points. Secondly, this record set the tone for punk politics for decades to come. Punk has always been very angry at authority, but the Kennedys were the first band to get explicitly political on nearly every track. Lead singer Jello Biafra doesn't like the right wing very much, and he doesn't hesitate to let you know it in the most impolite, direct, sarcastic way possible. His lyrics really do add punch to tracks like "Kill The Poor" and "California Uber Alles," as Jello's rants are typically very, very funny. His voice, an odd, nearly cartoonish yell, fits the words and the music perfectly, which keeps the album interesting.
Finally, this leaves the music itself. Well, folks, it's excellent. No kidding. Straight through. Every song kicks .... There's no other way to put it. The songs all have killer riffs and awesome grooves, and they all know exactly how long they can stick around. So basically, every song rushes in, knocks you out, and ends while it is ahead before plowing into yet another awesome tune. As I've said, just about every song here rules, but a few tracks in particular really stand out here. "Let's Lynch The Landlord" has a killer riff and one of the most memorable choruses I've ever heard ("We caaaaaaaan, you know we CAAAAAAAAN... let's lynch the landlord, let's lynch the landlord, let's lynch the landlord, man!").
The two most well-known songs here, "California Uber Alles" and "Holiday In Cambodia," fully deserve to be famous. Great riffs, great lyrics. An example: "The Nazis won't come back you say/Mellow out or you will pay!" Or how about the opening "Kill The Poor" with its multiple sections and fantastic energy? (This is one of the most energetic albums ever made.) And...well, I could go on at great length about most of these songs. "I Kill Children" has particularly bitter lyrics ("Ever wanted to die? Of course you have/But I won't till I get my revenge/I've been butt-fxcked one too many ways/I don't want to see people anymore") and an absolutely vicious mid-section (which contains the preceding lyrics). Awesome stuff.
This is absolutely essential punk, every bit as essential to your punk rock collection as the Pistols or the Ramones. A couple of awesome singles from this era weren't included on Fresh Fruit for some reason, but they're all available on the Give Me Convenience Or Give Me Death compilation. Either way, this is an album you need in your collection if you have any interest in punk at all.

Price: $6.52
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I want to be much more than more while I watch you", February 6, 2003
This review is from: Adrenaline (Audio CD)
A hardcore-sounding metal-punk-hip hop hybrid, I can't fathom why the Deftones were initially lumped together with bands like Korn (who call them their "brother band") - the 'tones are far more intense and original. And they are anything but generic trend-hopping rap-metal. The band has been doing this since 1989! I don't see why any fan of hardcore music would dislike the Deftones, especially Adrenaline. It's a hard-edged, raw, and just plain insane piece of music. Rage comes crashing through the speakers for the entire 40+ minutes of the disc. It doesn't sound fake or forced at all. You may not be able to understand exactly what Chino is screaming about, but you can tell he's pissed off. This is the kind of stuff metal lovers dream about. There is some subtlety here, however. The band does several softer, more haunting sections in the songs to contrast with the aggression. The Deftones have a truly terrifying vocalist in Chino Moreno, who goes from unsettling whispers to horrifying screams. (Dear God, does he scream. One of these days he's going to wake up with his lungs on the pillow next to him.) Guitarist Stephen Carpenter offers simple, but direct and scathing riffs, that perfectly match this style.
The brutal songs on Adrenaline are more than the best example of their style. It shoves pure rage into your face with its obnoxious and sometimes unintelligible lyrics and attitude, and is one of the most positively convincing 90s metal albums. After the first couple of listens, it sounded to me like extremely unvaried guitar riffing, weak melody and talentless screaming. But after awhile, Adrenaline opens up and reveals its strengths as a very heavy, direct, and emotionally powerful offering. Stephen Carpenter creates somehow unique-sounding riffs like the chugging opener "Bored," where the power of the band's chemistry comes together in a forceful mix, produced well by Terry Date. "Nosebleed" is a very harsh tune with truly angry and scathing, explicitly profane lyrics and hardcore energy in the music that somehow doesn't come off as merely juvenile, but as a genuine threat, and it's contrasted by a slower middle section that builds up again to the heavier verse part, all with the band remaining tight. "Minus Blindfold" is also a strong track, and an indicator that Chino is one to watch out for (or stay the hell away from, depending on your point of view). "Root," meanwhile, hints that the band is capable of expanding its creativity before this direct material could become stale in the future, featuring the most complex riff on the album and tremendous energy.
The quieter moments, "One Weak" (with nice bass work and frantic vocals), the closer "Fireal" (featuring a dark and desperate atmosphere before building up to a gripping ending), and "Birthmark" are also good songs. "7 Words" is an amazing wake up call that starts off quietly with the controlled vocals in the verses (helped out by an awesome bassline) before again going into unparalleled heavy viciousness. "Engine No. 9" shows a bit of a hip hop influence in the lyrics, which makes the attitude and the screaming chorus even more effective and noticeably psycho.
Of course, this IS a debut, and it shows. It often sounds underdeveloped, the production is quite raw, and the band is not as mature-sounding as they would be on later releases. Yet that's part of the fun. The reckless intensity displayed here is something they haven't captured again since (not that they're trying to). Not to mention that this record has incredible staying power. The Deftones aren't considered a band of great melody-writing power, but listen to the excellent riff of "Bored" or the haunting vocals of "One Weak" and tell me that stuff won't stick in your head for a long time to come. So is it a masterpiece? Not by a long shot, but it's essential nonetheless. Try to forget those new-metal biases, and you'll have a hell of a time. Adrenaline isn't for everyone because there is quite a bit of an obnoxious feel to it that may turn a few listeners off, and the songwriting doesn't quite sound developed to its full potential. But for classic aggression, this is an excellent record.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 23, 2012 6:13 AM PST

The Doors
The Doors
Offered by Customer Direct
Price: $6.72
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The men don't know but the little girls understand, February 6, 2003
This review is from: The Doors (Audio CD)
It's hard to find a better example of a band that defines the phrase "unique" than The Doors. They never quite fit squarely in the pigeonholes of psychedelic, blues, hard rock or pop, but they epitomized all of those attitudes and musical sensibilities at the same time, relying on the flamboyant vocal, poetic theatrics and undeniable songwriting talents of Jim Morrison. Jim, who joined the "27 Club" with his death at that age in 1971, is a hugely imitated personality - people make a point to say how the band's sound was never imitated as a whole, but this is one aspect of it that surely was. Listen to modern rock singers like Eddie Vedder, Michael Hutchence and Scott Weiland and tell me you can't hear a large Jim influence in their lyrical and vocal approach. I've always loved his provocative, interesting poetry and lyrics, and I don't think he was overrated at all as a frontman.
Undoubtedly most responsible for the band's unique approach, Ray Manzarek had a carnival-esque and technically impressive sound to his playing, and it very much took on an eerie-sounding tone that added a majestic horror to the music. His playing is distinctive to the point where it's possible to recognize a Doors song strictly from this style. I should also mention that since the band never employed a bass player (using session musicians on their albums instead), he often had to fill in that void with keyboard bass in a live setting, which probably made the sound even more distinctive. And as for the rest of the lineup, Robbie Krieger had an inventive, bluesy style that was helped by his non-use of a guitar pick, and quite a few of his songwriting contributions are easily among the best songs the band ever did. John Densmore was a really efficient jazz-styled drummer who provided a steady backbeat for the sound.
This is unquestionably the album that defined The Doors sound as everyone knows them, the strikingly original style of the band breaks through immediately throughout these 11 tracks, with the mysterious organ sound in full force that gives the album its timeless atmosphere. Of course, the presence of Jim Morrison doesn't really hurt either - on his technical ability, he doesn't have much range, but his charisma and overall mystique gives the songs something they would have lacked otherwise. And these songs hold up today, showcasing nearly everything that made the band special. From catchy pop tunes, entertaining organ-led rockers, atmospheric ballads, raving epics, and even blues and 20's style interpretations, it's all covered here.
Everything begins explosively with the driving and intense "Break On Through," which has incredible energy, a fantastically catchy melody, and a distinct main organ part. The following "Soul Kitchen" is a great pop-oriented groove, and its pace is among the more lighthearted moments of the album. That uncertainty is allowed to break through a bit for the first time in the majestic ballad "The Crystal Ship," a dreamy mini-epic that sounds peaceful and calm, but it does have an edge to it. I dig the piano break there.
Like I hinted at before, though, the sound isn't just limited to renditions of the band's own material. There are also two cover versions performed here, and passing through the minds of musicians that had a real desire to achieve something different, they take on the Doors stamp, even when they're on completely different ends of the musical landscape. The 20's style musical number "Alabama Song" is entertaining as hell, with that cool organ groove leading an irresistible singalong. "Back Door Man" is actually an old blues from the Willie Dixon archives, and Jim plays that part well over the main organ riff and bluesy guitar, with the screams of "I'm your back door man!" and tone of his singing on "the men don't know but the little girls understand..." really working.
The ultimate highlight, though, is "Light My Fire." In one of the few coincidences of this sort, it was also their hugest hit single. One of two lengthy showcases on here, "Light My Fire" was the first song Robbie Krieger ever wrote for the band, and it begins on a simple, catchy melody. The catchiness of the tune alone, however, isn't what really makes the song. It is the stunning middle jam, with solos by Manzarek and Krieger respectively, and the effect of how they both seem to play off each other's parts and Densmore's rhythm with the effortlessly flowing, memorable structure of their showcases is exceptional, and the transition into the song's final verse is a perfect way of capping it off, with the vocal yell of "TRY TO SET THE NIGHT ON FIRE!"
The other extended track is the notorious 11-1/2 minute closer "The End," which gives insight into Jim's poetic dark side. The musical backing is quite eerie and hypnotizing, with the organ over haunting guitar lines. The whole thing might be somewhat overlong, but the lyrics are incredible (with disturbing bits such as the part where the killer murders his family, and that rave about the insane children) and the mood is interesting enough to justify its length. The way it crashes at the end is so powerful, too. It's built in like one chord sequence, but it still works well. "Take It As It Comes" is a minor pop classic on here, with breathtaking speedy organ. I hear people complaining about "I Looked At You," but damned if I know why - I love that song. Simplistic, but it's a very sweet little ditty. The clever "Twentieth Century Fox" is fun and catchy, and the haunting "End Of The Night" features more gloomy organ. This is my favorite Doors album and it is definitely the place to start as your introductory journey to the thrilling sound of The Doors.

Surfin' Safari / Surfin' USA
Surfin' Safari / Surfin' USA
Offered by megahitrecords
Price: $11.25
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Let's go surfing now, February 6, 2003
As is typical for albums released about this time, their souls were owned by the record company. They had little creative control, and wouldn't for a few albums. So the results of this debut album are predictably sketchy. The album was rushed out REALLY fast, recorded very quickly with whatever songs the group happened to have lying around in their songbooks, plus a single or two. As you could imagine, the album is thus really inconsistent, with just a few indicators of their genius for singing and crafting melodies. As you would expect, the singles are the best songs here. And one of them is totally classic. The opening "Surfin' Safari" is the ultimate surfing ode, loaded with great vocal hooks. Sure, it's naive, but it's fun! Another big single, "409," is also a fun, catchy, hook-filled song, this time about cars instead of surfing, and it's pretty good. The Boys' vocals on these tunes aren't as excellent as they got later, and most songs really don't even have vocal harmonies of any merit, but that's to be expected. Brian was still learning, and this album was slapped out quickly.
The other 9 songs that make up this album are mostly goofy novelty numbers. They all last about 2 minutes, have dumb lyrics, and sound pretty much the same. They aren't horrible, but they really don't have any reason to exist now that 1962 is long gone. Dated in the extreme. The highlight of this section is easily "Moon Dawg," which is a fun surf instrumental, and I've got a thing for fun surf instrumentals. I like "The Shift" too, which is a fun rock number. Elsewhere, though, mediocrity abounds. Songs like "County Fair" (with a stupid voice over section), "Heads You Win, Tails I Lose," "Chug A Lug," and "Little Girl (You're My Miss America)" are okay, but really now, is there any reason to pull out this album and listen to them? Not really. And even the highlights don't hit me THAT hard - let's face it, as cool as "Surfin' Safari" and "409" are, neither is exactly that great.
The Surfin' USA LP was a huge improvement over its predecessor. "Surfin' USA" was tearing up the airwaves as people listened in awe, completely unaware that the song was stolen note for note from Chuck Berry's "Sweet Little Sixteen." Ripoff or not, the song is undeniably catchy, and, in my opinion, is a lot better than the Berry original. The song featured use of vocal overdubs and lots of backup vocals, which were soon to become a Beach Boys/Brian Wilson mainstay. If there was ever a track that announced that the Beach Boys were here to stay, that was the one.
Huge hits aside, though, what is it about this album that makes it better than the last one? Well, there's lots of stuff. For one, the band had more money this time, so the production is a little fuller sounding. The vocals are also much better than before - the leads are more in tune and gorgeous (as on the fantastic dark ballad "Lonely Sea"). Plus, as I mentioned, due to overdubbing, the background vocals have elevated to an important part of the music. The songwriting is better, too. The songs don't seem like novelties anymore, for the most part (well, the album closing "Finders Keepers" certainly reminds me lyrically of "Head You Win, Tails I Lose"). Plus, the arrangements are light years ahead of the ones on the last album. Brain was learning fast, and though he was far from the peak of his abilities here, you could tell he was evolving quickly.
Now, as for the actual songs - they actually sound sort of like the ones on the last album, only with more precise instrumentation and better production. There are no real embarrassments here, though. Plus, there are a handful of really good songs. The highlight is the haunting ballad "Lonely Sea," which presages some of their best later work. "Farmer's Daughter," another ballad, has a great vocal arrangement. And there's the song here everyone knows - "Shut Down," a thrilling rocker about drag racing. Out of the bonus tracks, "Cindy Oh Cindy" is my favorite.
Of course, this was still pretty rushed out and corporally controlled. Plus, the boys weren't at the peak of their skills yet, so the album is far from being great. The album is short (about 24 minutes), and much of it is taken up by instrumentals, one of which is great ("Miserlou") and the other four of which are just okay - the band just didn't have the precise attack to make these numbers come to life, which is a shame, because had they recorded these a couple of years later, they would have been amazing. And some of the songs are a bit generic. Still, this is a very fun record, with some very good material and no truly bad material. Worth picking up if you're into the early surf rock sound, though the band was improving rapidly, and this is still too early to really be one of their best efforts. It shows tons of potential though, which Safari showed in very few places. You don't really need Safari at all, but picking it up as a two-fer along with Surfin' USA is a good deal, as the latter is far more superior. All Beach Boys albums are available as two-fers now, so pretty much any of them make a decent buy.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 4, 2012 12:40 AM PDT

Pet Sounds
Pet Sounds
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Holy jeez this is good!, February 6, 2003
This review is from: Pet Sounds (Audio CD)
Brian Wilson was so blown away after hearing Rubber Soul by The Beatles that he felt the need to compete with them, so he immediately went to work on a new album in the first few months of 1966. What he came up with goes even further than the amazing Rubber Soul in melody and harmony development. Brian had a genius ear when it came to crafting melodies, so he was at the height of his powers here. He went to work at this while his fellow Beach Boys were on tour and developed a dozen sophisticated songs that expressed how he was feeling inside. This was totally new in rock music at the time so it is a landmark recording. To open up the album we have "Wouldn't It Be Nice," which is a sweet song with a phenomenal bridge. "You Still Believe In Me" is a minor melody ballad that is really beautiful. The song is very emotional with moving progressions and is most striking at the part where he sings "I wanna cry" over a feast of notes.
"That's Not Me" is sung by Mike Love and is another highlight with its key changes. Then comes "Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)," another emotional ballad that comes to a climax in the middle when Brian tells us to "listen" with the sad violins coming directly afterwards. "I'm Waiting For The Day" is faster and neat, but then comes "Let's Go Away For Awhile" which is a very moving instrumental full of violins, Hawaiian-styled guitar, and strings. "Sloop John B" is said to be the least striking on the album, but it's actually really good and it has a beautiful a capella section in the middle. "God Only Knows" has been called by Paul McCartney the best song ever written; so many excellent songs have been written but it does have excellent harmony vocals and it's another highlight.
Then comes the wonderful "I Know There's An Answer," and after that is "Here Today" which is the most ambitious of all the songs. Although it appears quaint with its production, it has some neat key and tempo changes within its fairly sparse minor-key melody. Next is "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times" which is sung from the heart and is another minor ballad like the rest. Near the end we get the title track, the second instrumental of the album, which uses two coke bottles for percussion and more Hawaiian guitar. Finally "Caroline No" ends the album on a graceful and sad note and shows that this is a truly genius piece of work. It's hard to express the utter perfection and beauty on this record (even though the bonus track "Hang On To Your Ego" is nothing special). You'd really just have to hear it. Buy it, you fool!

Bitches Brew
Bitches Brew
Price: $13.40
156 used & new from $4.44

6 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars All those b!tches in my brew, February 1, 2003
This review is from: Bitches Brew (Audio CD)
I hate discussing music theory in reviews, so if you want detailed examinations of the usage of the diminished Am pedal mixolydian or whatnot, look elsewhere. I may make up some fancy music term though. Just to make me feel special. At any rate, if you haven't at least heard of this one, you probably haven't done much looking into the history of rock or of jazz, as this really is a monumental recording. Miles was one of the first to try and combine modern jazz music (as opposed to older, more traditional jazz like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington and Count Basie and so on) with rock rhythms and instrumentation. Instead of just acoustic pianos and brass and saxes and such, we've got electric piano, electric bass, electric guitar, and all sorts of other neat things on top of Miles and his trumpet, as well as some sax and even a bass clarinet. This is one of the first jazz fusion recordings and the best I've heard, and for that it does certainly garner some respect from me.
I first heard this record when I was 12, and by then I was already a huge Coltrane fan and listening to lots of different music. But I initially couldn't get into the sound. It's almost mind-bogglingly odd at first. Honestly, I thought it sounded like a bunch of people got trashed and starting playing instruments in a studio. There was no predictability, no easily recognizable melody or riffs, and certainly no pop hooks. But that has changed some with listening. At first, I really disliked the first two cuts, which together go on for 45 minutes and take up an entire disc. Those are some long compositions, to be sure. Especially when you're convinced that someone had spiked their coffee in a "Grace Slick visits the White House" manner. Thus, I couldn't even sit through them the first time around. So, I switched to the second disc. Then stuff started to click. Maybe there's just something about the first cut on it that grabbed me. At any rate, it did grab me. Viciously, too. It kicked my 12-year-old butt, threw my poppier CDs out the window, tied me into a chair, and forced me to marvel at its jazzy glory.
Not really. However, B!tches Brew is certainly fascinating. I have finally come around to the first disc, and both discs are truly masterpieces. The individual pieces seem to be almost mood landscapes, but very dark ones. The electric pianos give a spacey feel to the music, while the bass clarinet really adds some residual creepiness to the mix. The exotic rhythm gives a taste of Africa or the West Indies. John McLaughlin's awesome guitar playing certainly is an emotional ingredient to the brew, whether it be smooth, jazzy explorations, or more gutsy and raw rock licks. One very interesting aspect is the presence of both acoustic and electric bass at the same time. That gives a real feel of depth to the music, almost like an ocean trench. Then of course, Miles is "runnin' the voodoo down" on his trumpet. The sound is night-oriented in as much as it has a very after-dark feel to it. I get images of dark beaches on remote islands when I listen to it.
Each song really conjures up a mysterious and majestic world of its own. Since there are but a few notice I've said cuts instead of songs? That's intentional. To me, song implies a definite, recognizable structure. The musical comparison to a stricter poetic set, like a sonnet. Fairly defined rules, but lots of flexibility on some counts, and unlimited creativity within the frame. This music is very much outside the box. Long, stretched-out grooves that have some planning, but are often very improvisational and moody. So, here are some images that come to mind, both serious and not. Why? Because I'm killing time. On second thought, why break this up cut-by-cut? I'll just throw words at you. Shoehorn, duck, tan, fingernails...oh yeah, these words are supposed to be related to B!tches Brew. Okay, Martha Stewart, Courtney Love, Tipper Gore, George W. Bush...okay, I'll be serious this time. Night, beaches, tropics, primitive life, rhythm, spontaneity, wildness, sinister, unpredictability, encroaching darkness, hot deserts, searing yet cooling....get the picture?
Basically, repeated listenings of B!tches Brew really sucked me into another world this album creates like no other. It's beyond stunning and emotionally amazing. It created a whole new genre by combining two existing ones. It's rock, but it's jazz. It's unique. It also influenced me to look into more stuff like it, and since it was my first Miles Davis record, I think it helped introduce me into jazz (along with Geri Allen's The Gathering), since Coltrane was the only jazz I listened to prior to this. However, there is a flaw in all of this unique greatness. IT'S TOO LONG! At least for one sitting. At least an hour and a half's worth of fusion on two discs....ay chihuahua! Also, while certainly unique, it's also somewhat repetitive. Similar rhythms, similar instrumentation, and let's face it, improvisation is by no means limitless. But this is ideal for jazz fans, as it sends you on a far-out trip. Whee!

Back in Black
Back in Black
Offered by cdgiveaways
Price: $16.02
107 used & new from $0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you're going to get an AC/DC record, this should be it, January 23, 2003
This review is from: Back in Black (Audio CD)
Widely regarded as the best hard rock album of the '80s, and one of the finest the style has to offer. I don't even really like AC/DC that much - all of the albums sound the same, and I'm not just being dense. Angus Young even jokes about how they never change their style. It can be a good thing, since they've never embarrassed themselves by flirting with dance or rockabilly, but this band seriously gets really old. With that being said, listening to Back In Black made me fully understand the hype over these guys. The groove they set up in quite a few cases is awesome, and the signature guitar interplay between brothers Angus and Malcolm Young is some of the best around. Their rhythm section is solid and tight. Back In Black, to me, epitomizes everything that's good about the band.
The whole tone of the album is exciting and upbeat in being constructed as a tribute to Bon, and almost every damn track is a classic. The only one I really don't like is the closing "Rock And Roll Ain't Noise Pollution," not that it's bad, just nothing to get excited about and it pales in comparison to the other songs here. The album starts off perfectly with "Hells Bells," featuring an ominous tolling bell at the beginning and an effective dark, cartoonish vibe to its catchy chorus. "Shoot To Thrill" has an exciting and really loose, gloriously violent feel to it that makes it pretty good. The sleazy nonsense of "What Do You Do For The Money Honey" is justified by the catchy guitar playing. Have I mentioned yet what a fabulous rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young is? Absolutely fabulous. My favorite songs on this album, however, are all in a row on the second side of the album. "Back In Black" has one of the best power grooves ever committed to tape. It's extremely simplistic, but still an incredible song. "You Shook Me All Night Long" is a big radio staple, and it's easy to see why. The song is a perfectly executed groove and has a solid, memorable anthemic chorus, so you definitely won�t hear me knocking it. Then there's the obvious tribute to Bon in the extremely fun party-like "Have A Drink On Me." Another really catchy chorus on this one, well-done irony throughout and a fantastic opening riff.
The Zep/Stones influence on this album is obvious, but these boys never overreach: they're not trying to show off how many music lessons they've taken, they're not trying to be hip or intellectual, they're not paying tribute to the old blues masters, they're not trying to save the world - they're just playing rock and roll.

The Marshall Mathers LP
The Marshall Mathers LP
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7 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Why are little kids listening to this?, January 23, 2003
This review is from: The Marshall Mathers LP (Audio CD)
Yes. I finally am getting around to reviewing Eminem. This is a hard album to review, and you most likely know why. I won't be quoting too many of the lyrics in this review for obvious reasons. [There is a lot of profanity], and there's all of those violent lyrics all over the place. ...
The opening is weak, and not just the pointless "Public Service Announcement 2000." "Kill You" starts out very promising, but soon just drags on and on toward the end, and turns into one of the most obnoxious songs I�ve ever had the dubious pleasure of hearing. Eminem has some guest stars in "... Please II," and even then they can't save the song from being one of the worst entries on the whole album. I can tolerate sick jokes and stuff, but not "Ken Kaniff" or "Kim." Other lesser entries also include "Amityville" (with some awful rhymes opening it up and being repeated on the chorus) and "Drug Ballad," (which suffers from a weak beat and an annoying piano in the background). Not to mention the whole thing is too long. Hardly any of the music here is worth it, leaving a hell of a lot of ... and filler, most of which I have already mentioned.
"I'm Back," "The Way I Am," and "The Real Slim Shady" are a bit better, but they still annoy me. And although I know it�s not saying a lot, "Stan" is the best song on this album. For those of you who don't know the story, it's got four verses connected by a catchy female vocal section. The first verse is a man named Stan writing to Eminem in a friendly way, giving the "biggest fan" sort of letter, saying how he can releate to the lyrics and wants to be like Slim, and also how he's been waiting for a letter back. The second verse is Stan's letter describing his feelings of hatred, frustration, and rejection because he thinks Shady is ignoring him. He mentions how he cuts himself to be like what Eminem makes himself out to be in his songs, and the way he can relate to everything that Slim says, and stating "everything you say is real."
In the third verse Stan has gone completely nuts and begins to record a tape for Shady, and gets drunk, drives ninety with his girlfriend in the trunk. He feels that he deserves a response and notes that they could have been something together. He now says that he's not like his idol, makes some more angry remarks into the tape recorder and drives off the bridge. Eminem starts out the final verse unaware of what Stan has done, responding with a friendly letter, giving an autograph and encouraging Stan to get counseling after hearing that Stan likes to cut his wrists, saying that he was only joking in his songs. He apologizes for missing out on meeting Stan and taking so long to reply. Finally he encourages Stan to keep his relationship with his girlfriend going well, and hopes that the letter reaches Stan before he does something crazy, like this guy he saw on TV who was drunk and drove over a bridge, "come to think of it his name" What a great song. Certainly not the best lyrics ever, but an interesting story acccompanied by a catchy beat, and those are the two good things hip-hop has to offer done at their best.
Eminem has talent as a rapper, but it feels like he wastes his talent on the unnecessarily extreme level of profanity which gets really boring after a while, and the violence and sex just ruins the entertainment of some songs. .... Pass.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Are you happy? I am, man., January 23, 2003
This review is from: Dirt (Audio CD)
The band's second record is heavy, dark, and disturbing and earned its "ultimate drug album of the 90s" title. It's also one of my personal favorites, because it makes me cry sometimes with the way I can relate to it. The reason why becomes very obvious after taking a journey through the cryptic yet violent and hopeless lyrics, gloomy musical atmosphere, and brutal riffage that make up this album. From the sudden screams and grinding riff of the opener "Them Bones," quite the ultimate wake-up song, the listener is immediately in for a ride.
The main focus on this album is Layne Staley's increasing drug problem, first hinted in "Sickman," a song that features an opening tribal drum beat that leads into Staley's menacing yells of the possessed and cryptic lyrics, and its unpredictable, offbeat changes to a slower section is a highlight. "Angry Chair" is also built on a driving, aggressive drum track, with an atmospheric guitar riff, and an intruiging, indecipherable rhyming pattern that hints of pain and confusion. The melody and overall structure of the song also helps it to become probably the album's best. The slower "Junkhead" deals with the outside world's non-understanding and disgust with his problems, while "God Smack" is a convincing and menacing track with a scary chorus (and a song that inspired a rip-off band of the same name).
Jerry Cantrell, meanwhile, continues to showcase his knack for writing memorable riffs and eerily melodic songs. "Dam That River" has more of that aggressive and direct riffing with a musical vibe that very much conveys a polluted river with a red sky hanging over it (nice guitar solo here too). "Down In A Hole" is a very personal tune, with surreal Cantrell and Staley harmonies that has such a haunting atmosphere, no wonder it's a major fan favorite. The lengthy war story set to music in "Rooster" finds Staley singing the lyrics in the point of view of Cantrell's father, whose Vietnam War experiences inspired the song. And, of course, the album couldn't be complete without the closing "Would?" which is one of the band's biggest hit singles featuring a distinctive bassline, echoey vocals from Cantrell in the verses, a memorable chorus and solo, and an ending, aggressive performance from Staley (R.I.P.). Oh, and that creepy cover art is just badass.

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