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Profile for Michael Bara > Reviews


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Norpro Non Stick 4-Egg Poacher
Norpro Non Stick 4-Egg Poacher
Offered by Kitchen Outfitters Inc.
Price: $7.60
14 used & new from $7.60

5.0 out of 5 stars Exactly as advertised. Works perfectly., October 27, 2015
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Exactly as advertised. Works perfectly.

Dr. Amend's Pheromone Advantage - Unscented to Be Worn with Your Cologne or Perfume to Attract Women
Dr. Amend's Pheromone Advantage - Unscented to Be Worn with Your Cologne or Perfume to Attract Women
Offered by Microfiber-Products-Online
Price: $32.95
2 used & new from $32.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Works But Short Shelf Life, March 15, 2015
Excellent stuff. Works on most women. Must be used while "fresh." After a few applications it seems to lose it's effectiveness for some reason. I had a young girl up against a wall in a bar and I could see her nostrils flaring. She had no idea why she was so turned on. Also very effective on strippers and "actresses." You'll have to decide if it's worth the price but when I'm on the prowl, it certainly gives me an advantage, at least until the bottle is about 1/3rd gone.

Songs Of Innocence [2 CD][Deluxe Edition]
Songs Of Innocence [2 CD][Deluxe Edition]
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6 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing at its Best But Inconsistent, October 14, 2014
U2's 13th studio album, Songs of Innocence is a sonically compelling but ultimately inconsistent collection of leftovers from its predecessor No Line on the Horizon and the stillborn lost project Songs of Ascent, which will probably never see the light of day. Despite its tortured creation process, the album contains some beautiful melodies and moments but shows signs of the indecision that led to it taking 5 years to gestate. A lot of the songs don't really finish, they simply end, sometimes right in the middle of what sounds like a promising musical direction. Frankly, the album sounds like a collection of afterthoughts and incomplete musical ideas cobbled together to suit Apple's "free" album release date. That said, this hard copy CD release contains some additional songs and acoustic versions which make it well worth purchasing.

Evolving out of the 2010-2011 "Danger Mouse" sessions with producer Brian Burton, the album could have been strengthened considerably by the inclusion of standalone material from the last few years like "Invisible," "Ordinary Love" and even "Winter" from the Brother's soundtrack. While it has some great songs that would have been far above average album fillers on other U2 albums, it contains only one certifiable masterpiece, the powerful, melodic "Every Breaking Wave." "The Troubles" nearly rises to the same level, but falls short of epic ballads like No Line's "Moment of Surrender."

Once listeners get past the cringe inducing NAMBLA-esque cover art and get to the meat of the songs, there's actually quite a lot of good material to listen to here.

"The Miracle" - 3 stars. An up tempo tribute to the first time Bono heard Joey Ramone sing. A decent opener that's made much cooler because of the Apple commercial.

"Every Breaking Wave" - 5 stars. A soaring, classic, U2 sonic/lyrical masterpiece. A left over from Songs of Ascent, It evolved from a listless live version played during the 360 tour into a powerful, beautiful song that should stay in your U2 playlist forever.

"California (There is No End to Love)" - 4 stars. An up-tempo sing along that will lift you like a sunny California day. Gorgeous.

"Song for Someone" - 3 stars. Pleasant, listenable ballad.

"Iris (Hold Me Close) - 4 stars. Sonically interesting, lyrically devastating tome about Bono's mother, who died tragically when he was 14. He's written other songs about her (I Will Follow, Lemon) but this is the most personal and vulnerable he's ever been. He acknowledges that he would not be "Bono" if she had not died, but then seems to want forgiveness from her as well. "Iris playing on the strand, She buries the boy beneath the sand. Iris says that I will be, the death of her... It was not me..." Powerful stuff.

"Volcano" - 1 star. This is where the album begins to jump the shark. Built around a muscular bass line by Adam Clayton, it really doesn't have much else to offer. A filler song.

"Raised by Wolves" - 1 star. A weird, overlong instrumental/chanting introduction shows that this song is going nowhere fast. Again, just filler.

"Cedarwood Road" - 1 star. More filler.

"Sleep Like a Baby Tonight" - 4 stars. Dreamy, downbeat Duran Duran-ish song with a hypnotic rhythm and off-beat, LeBon-esque lyrics. Way outside of U2's normal comfort zone and totally fun to listen to.

"This is Where You Can Reach Me Now" - 1 star. Unlistenable.

"The Troubles" - 4 stars. A downbeat ender, but sonically and lyrically amazing. It might end up my favorite song in the long run.

The bonus tracks include "Lucifer's Hands" and the "The Crystal Ballroom," both of which are well worth the purchase and should have replaced some of the lamer album tracks. The acoustic versions are hit and miss, but the acoustic version of "Every Breaking Wave" is worth the price of the CD alone. The final song, a reworked version of "Sleep Like a Baby Tonight" includes a surprise bonus-- an alternate version of "Invisible" hidden at the end of the track.

Overall, Songs of Innocence has some amazing musical moments but is far from a classic and lacks consistency. In the liner notes Bono states they are already working on the next album, Songs of Experience, and this indicates to me that this was an experimental project that they needed to get off their chests rather than something they were super excited about. He's also questioned "whether the world needs another U2 album." Actually, that's exactly what we need, and I'd suggest you and the boys get back in the studio and make it for next year before some younger, hungrier band like The Chevin beats you to it.

Recent songs like "Invisible" and "Every Breaking Wave" prove that U2 can still create epic musical moments. Let's hope the next effort proves that point even more than Songs of Innocence does.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 15, 2014 6:47 PM PDT

Ancient Aliens on Mars
Ancient Aliens on Mars
by Mike Bara
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.65
35 used & new from $9.69

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars “Isn’t it peculiar what tricks of light and shadow can do?”, March 26, 2014
This review is from: Ancient Aliens on Mars (Paperback)
From Open Minds Magazine:

Reviewed by Sean Casteel

“Isn’t it peculiar what tricks of light and shadow can do?”
With those words, spoken in July 1976, Dr. Gerald Soffen, a scientist working for NASA on the Viking project, unleashed a firestorm of controversy that has lasted nearly 40 years and shows no signs of resolution even today. Soffen was of course speaking about the celebrated “Face On Mars,” which quickly caught the imagination of the public and the media before it was disappointingly and tirelessly debunked by the NASA public relations office over the ensuing years and throughout numerous follow-up reconnaissance missions to Mars.
At that same 1976 press conference, Soffen claimed that there were some “disconfirming” photos of the Face taken shortly after the initial flyover, but these alleged photos were never shown to the public and, as Mike Bara argues convincingly in his new book, “Ancient Aliens On Mars,” it is technically impossible that they ever existed at all.
While a large portion of “Ancient Aliens On Mars” concerns itself with delivering a blow-by-blow account of the often bitterly fought battles between NASA officialdom and a group Bara calls “the independent researchers” – a gathering of scientists most often led by Bara’s friend and sometimes co-author Richard C. Hoagland – Bara begins the book with a primer in the history of Mars as viewed by a progressively better-equipped series of astronomers and theorists.
The so-called “canals” on Mars were first promoted in the 19th century by the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli and later by Percival Lowell, who studied Mars from a massive observatory in Arizona. Around that same time, the revered inventor Nikola Tesla claimed to have received what he considered to be intelligent, measured radio signals from Mars on a device he had invented to detect and track storms from hundreds of miles away. In 1919, Guglielmo Marconi, credited, along with Tesla, with the invention of radio, also stated publicly that he made voice contact with Martians while sailing on his yacht, “which was a kind of floating super laboratory,” Bara writes.
In 1924, when Mars was due to make its closest approach to Earth since 1804, it was decided to conduct an experiment in making further contact with the Martians. The experiment was directed by an Amherst College astronomy professor, Dr. David Peck Todd, and made use of a device called a Jenkins Radio Camera, a “radio photo message continuous transmission machine” which could record any signals from Mars and convert them to a visual output.
What is so interesting about the experiment is how publicly it was conducted and how seriously it was taken by the U.S. defense establishment. The Navy formally requested that radio silence be maintained worldwide every hour on the hour for five minutes, in order to keep the airwaves clear for the sake of the hoped-for transmissions, and for astronomers everywhere to join in listening for the signals.
The results, as reported in “The New York Times” on August 28, 1924, were this: “The film disclosed in black and white a regular arrangement of dots and dashes along one side. On the other, at about evenly spaced intervals, are curiously jumbled groups, each taking the form of a crudely drawn face.”
Bara provides photos of the 1924 face, obtained from the Yale University Library. The dot-dash pattern is clearly visible, as he claims, as is the “creepy” face, which he shows in a side-by-side comparison with the face of “Voldemort,” the villain of the “Harry Potter” movies, as portrayed by actor Ralph Fiennes. The resemblance is striking and eerie in the extreme, with the same nose-less profile and deep, dark eye sockets. The more obvious comparison, however, might be with the standard gray alien, who typically also has no discernible nose, only a pair of small nostrils, and black, lidless eyes.
In any case, one is easily led to conclude that entities or a race with recognizably humanoid features is trying to send us a message, both in the 1924 experiment and with the Face on Mars itself, discovered over 50 years later.
But there is much more to the story than just the Face. In photographs of an area on Mars surrounding the Face called “Cydonia,” Bara and his fellow independent researchers say there is undeniable evidence of temples and pyramids and even a Martian city. There is also a precise mathematical order to how the various structures are arranged, one of many factors that argue that the entire Cydonia complex is artificially constructed and not just the result of natural rocks and crevices eroded by the Martian winds and the passage of time into random geometric “coincidental” patterns.
How those conclusions were reached by Hoagland and Bara and their compatriots, and then steadfastly denied by the space science establishment, is explained in some detail, although the astronomy, physics and mathematics involved may at times be a struggle for some lay readers. Still, one must acknowledge that Bara’s arguments are logical and based on sound, hard science and not merely the self-absorbed ravings of an amateur pseudo-expert.
But there is an overhanging darkness to the counter-machinations of NASA. Bara discusses how NASA deceptively tinted photos of the Martian surface in a dramatic but false red; the Martian sky is just as blue as Earth’s, according to Bara, and the landscape resembles the Arizona desert and even includes apparent lichen-coated rocks, proven in a section of color photos in the book.
Still, we are left to ask just who were these ancient occupants of Mars? What happened to cause them to abandon their home, leaving behind signs of a civilization that we are just beginning to perceive and make sense of? Bara wisely does not offer much in the way of speculation beyond noting that there is evidence of massive flooding on Mars eons ago, as well as large impact craters found mainly in the southern hemisphere, either of which could have wiped out a previous race of Martians or sent them scuttling into space to escape. What is crucial now, Bara tells us, is to analyze the remnants of whoever they were in spite of the stifling “plausible deniability” policies of NASA and mainstream science.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 16, 2015 10:02 AM PDT

Apocalypse According to Doris
Apocalypse According to Doris
Price: $1.99

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Independent Film, September 6, 2013
This is a great little movie. Director Victor Goss elicits virtuoso performances from the leads Jamie Gomez and especially Elise Robertson as Doris. Chris Meoli and Cynthia Dane are also excellent as Apperson and Marilee, respectively. The film asks some very interesting questions about the nature of faith and how we treat people with intuitive powers, and provides satisfactory and fulfilling answers to the questions it raises. Well worth the investment of time and money.

No Line On The Horizon
No Line On The Horizon
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11 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No Hits on the Horizon, March 4, 2009
This review is from: No Line On The Horizon (Audio CD)
I'm sorry to say it may be their worst album ever. The word tuneless comes to mind. It has snippets of good moments, but the songs have no structure or discipline and the album just drifts. I know they didn't want to do a conventional U2 trilogy of All that you can't leave behind, Atomic Bomb and this new record, but honestly the whole thing sounds aimless and self indulgent. Imagine the worst moments of Zooropa and Passengers, with a little October thrown in. I mean, the closest thing to a single is Get on your Boots, and that's just a dismal rip-off of "Pump it Up" by Elvis Costello.

Honestly, there is nothing here that's anywhere near as good as recent orphans Wave of Sorrow (from the re-mastered Joshua Tree), Window in the Skies (from 18 Singles) or even Mercy, the throw away track from the Atomic Bomb sessions that has never actually been released officialy. Do not expect the record to sound anything like those songs because it doesn't. I had a feeling we were headed for disaster when I heard they were recording in Morocco. The whole thing sounds like a series of incomplete musical thoughts. I'd rather listen to Pop any day.

Here's a track by track breakdown:

"No Line on the Horizon" - Starts with a decent mid-paced guitar riff, but quickly degenerates when Bono starts puking high-pitched yodeling all over it. The chorus is weak and listless. The best moment is at the 2 minute mark, when Bono finally gets to some signature oh-oh-oh moments. The opening riff and this part of the song are the only segments worth saving. Sound like a first take demo, frankly. Not a good start.

1 star *.

"Magnificent" - Isn't. A pointless 45 second intro (which has nothing to do with the rest of the song) leads into the real entrance, a haunting, echoey Edge riff. Everything is going along good until once again, Bono emits a dissonant "magnificent!" at the top of his lungs. The song soon gets killed by Bono's lame verse writing and singing. The haunting guitar makes a comeback at the beginning of the chorus, and Bono gets back in the game with his "only love" refrain, but then he kills the chorus at the backend with a weak close. This isn't really a chorus, it's half a chorus. Edge checks in with a nifty slide guitar solo at the 4 minute mark, complemented (for a change) by Bono's background hum-along. The last 30 seconds start okay, until Bono revisits the "magnificence" that isn't. Again, a good riff, half a chorus and a decent solo do not a complete musical thought make.

3 stars ***.

"Moment of Surrender" - The best song on album (which isn't saying much) starts with a 1 minute Eno intro that could be cut entirely. Bono starts off singing like he's got a prostate problem, a style which he thankfully eschews later on in favor of a more straight-up treatment. Lyrically, he starts to repeat himself here, referring to "begging bowls" yearning, etc. But later it becomes haunting:

"I was punching in the numbers, at the ATM machine, I could see in the reflection, a face staring back at me. At the moment of surrender, of vision over visibility, I did not notice the passers-by, and they did not notice me"

The chorus is beautifully crafted, spiritual, and emotionally gripping. Once again Edge chimes in with a dream-like slider solo, and the final minute of the song is rousing and haunting, with Bono once again finding his inner grief in a series of oh-oh-oh's which are really just a down tempo version of the fade out of "Stay (Faraway so close)" from Zooropa. Yes the song is derivative and over long, but it is a beautiful piece of music nonetheless.

4 stars ****. 1 star demerit for the useless intro.

"Unknown Caller" - Another absurdly long composition that starts promisingly. There is a delicate guitar piece which sounds very familiar (because it is, it's just the riff from "Walk on" from the All That You Can't Leave Behind album). Maybe this is intentional, since the lyrics contain a reference to "3:33" which famously graces the cover of that album. Bono then chimes in with a melodic "sunshine, sunshine" sequence which makes you think maybe something good is happening on this song. Then they butcher the whole thing with some weird chanting and absurd lyrics ("Force quit, and move to trash" - Huh?) the verse is very nice, and the solo is okay, but once again we have only half the components for a serviceable song.

2 stars **.

"I'll Go Crazy if I Don't Go Crazy Tonight" - Hmm, once again this one sounds seriously familiar. Oh yeah, that because the intro guitar riff is a straight up lift from "Faithfully" by Journey, and the acoustic lead-in is an exact rip-off of the riff from Pinball Wizard by The Who, only slowed down a bit. The Who is one thing, but you know that things are getting bad when they start sampling Journey. There's a nice little moment in the chorus when Bono finds his voice in the "it's not a hill, it's a mountain..." bit, but the rest of the lyric is terrible. "The right to be ridiculous is something I hold dear." Did you have to be so literal about that Bono?

There's a nice bit in the last minute, but it doesn't hold.

1 star *.

"Get on Your Boots" - What more can be said about this than the utter rejection by the buying public? This is supposed to be the manufactured single in the mode of "Vertigo" from the Atomic Bomb album, but it doesn't hold a candle to that song. Little more than a poor imitation of that song with a couple sections that are (again) a straight up rip-off of Elvis Costello's "Pump it Up." The only interesting moment is the "let me in the sound" bit at the 2:30 mark. The band has already basically abandoned the song, and good riddance.

1 star *.

"Stand Up Comedy" - U2 meets 70's rock. I can't decide if the guitar riff sounds more like Aerosmith or Foghat. Maybe Rick Derringer. Or Is it "Frankenstein" by Edgar Winter?

1 star *.

"Fez-Being Born" - Dopey title, long intro, weird ambient synths. One minute in it samples the keyboard from The Who's "Eminence Front." It kind of wanders aimlessly, with more weird chanting in the verses, before Bono pronounces he feels like he's "being born" again. Okay Bono, we get it. You've revisited this theme more times in the last few years than Kiss have rhymed the words "knees" and "Please" in their lyrics over their entire career. Don't you have anything new to say?

1 star *.

"White as Snow" - Slow, lyrical and boring. Nice horn bit in the middle. Maybe they should have used it on another song. Sounds like a children's sing along.

1 star *.

"Breathe" - Okay, THIS is the best song on the album. Pounding Larry Mullen drum intro, driving guitar, excellent piano offsetting a singable chorus and energetic delivery. The lyrics are weird "Coming from a long line of traveling sales people on my mother`s side, I wasn`t gonna buy just anyone`s cockatoo, so why would I invite a complete stranger into my home?...would you?" Huh? Once again he hits on the resurrection theme but we'll forgive him because this song is so engaging and vintage U2. And is that a cello I hear backing up the main riff?

5 stars *****.

"Cedars of Lebanon" - Another ponderously slow song. So bad it seems much longer than it actually is. Dopey spoken word lyric accented by some stupid Arabic chanting in the background. Just plain dismal.

1 star *.

Overall: 2 stars **. Just save your self the bother and download "Breathe," Moment of Surrender," and maybe "Magnificent" if you're in a generous mood. Let's hope to god they don't play any of the other songs on the upcoming tour. We should be so lucky.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 7, 2009 7:52 PM PST

Paul Stanley: One Live Kiss
Paul Stanley: One Live Kiss
DVD ~ Paul Stanley
Price: $13.79
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4.0 out of 5 stars Finally, Some of My Favorite Songs Live, December 16, 2008
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This review is from: Paul Stanley: One Live Kiss (DVD)
When it comes to KISS, I've always liked Paul Stanley's songs better than Gene's, and I loved his 1978 solo album. Over the years, Love Gun, Mr. Speed, Magic Touch, Sure Know Something and Psycho Circus have been some of my favs. I was lucky to catch PS at the Sunset Strip HOB when he toured in support of Live to Win 2006, and this DVD captures the show eloquently. I'm not as enamored of L2W as I was the 1978 solo effort, but it still has some really excellent tunes, especially the title track. Both solo albums are given good play in the setlist, and there is a sprinkling of rarely played KISS material like Hide Your Heart and the aforementioned Magic Touch. It's great to hear these songs live for the first time along with Tonight You Belong to Me and some of the other songs from the first solo album.

The direction is sharp and the set well paced. Like a lot of people, I would have preferred a 16:9 aspect ratio, but at least the director makes good use of the extra real estate. Such a choice would have worked better for a group concert film though, since Stanley is a solo act and we really don't care too much about the back-up band, as tight as they are.

As to the performance, Stanley is strong and energetic and in fine voice, if a little insecure. It kind of bugged me how he kept asking if the audience they liked the show. Uh, yeah, that's why we're cheering dude. His voice is as strong as ever, especially on I Still Love You and I Want You.

My only real quibble is with the set list. He left off two of my favorites from the 1978 solo album, Love in Chains and It's Alright. I would have much rather heard those than Move On or the umpteenth rendition of Detroit Rock City or Strutter. Oh well, it's his tour, I guess he can play what he wants.

There are no extras, and that's too bad because I would like to have heard an in depth interview or a seen a little bit of backstage stuff.

It's amazing to watch this now a couple years on, because I just saw KISS in Las Vegas last summer and if anything Stanley looked and performed even better than he did in '06. With some recent health problems behind him, he looks tanned and cut for the next big KISS tour next year.

Watching this again, I find myself wishing that he would tour solo more often during down times for KISS. His music may not be poetic or sophisticated, but it is catchy, danceable and Stanley possesses one of the great rock voices of all time. Here's to hoping we all get to hear these songs more often.

The X-Files: I Want to Believe (Three-Disc Special Edition)
The X-Files: I Want to Believe (Three-Disc Special Edition)
DVD ~ David Duchovny
24 used & new from $1.60

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice to Have You Back Kids, December 4, 2008
It's been 10 years since the first X-Files movie, The X-Files - Fight the Future came out and with the iconic show long since vanished from the airwaves, it came as quite a shock to hear last year that a follow-up had finally been green lighted. I was a big fan of the series and of Fight the Future, which I felt got short shrift from movie audiences at the time and should been more widely recognized for the quality production it was. But like most of us I was disappointed to hear that the new film, subtitled I Want to Believe, wouldn't focus on aliens or the global conspiracy to cover-up the presence of same but would instead be what the fans used to call a "Monster of the Week" episode. That is, a standalone piece that wouldn't advance the show's over-arching mythology.

Fox evidently was willing to take a shot at reviving the franchise as long as it could be made on a low budget. As a result, there are no city sized alien spacecraft, huge sets or dazzling special effects. This movie simply updates us on what's happened to Scully and Mulder in the six years since the show went off the air.

As a character study, the movie works well. Both main characters have long since abandoned the FBI and Mulder is in hiding, although it seems the FBI isn't trying very hard to find him. They're brought back into the FBI fold when a case with supernatural overtones has the investigating agents baffled. Scully at first encourages Mulder to jump back into the fight, seeing that he's wasting away hiding in her house. But she's soon reminded of all the reasons why it was so painful to work with him before; his obsessive belief in the paranormal, his still unresolved guilt over his sister's alien abduction and the darkness that inevitably descends upon their lives once he re-engages with his old mindset at the FBI.

Scully, now working as a medical doctor, herself struggles with her faith in god, evidently shaken by her experiences with Mulder and her time at the FBI. She is challenged by the case of a young boy with a fatal illness which can only be cured by a desperate and hellish experimental treatment. She is encouraged in this effort by Father Joe, a defrocked catholic priest who has psychic visions that Mulder believes can lead him to the serial killer the FBI seeks. It's very interesting to watch Mulder and Scully change roles and perspectives throughout the movie.

There are also some very nice scenes between Duchovny and Anderson, who know these characters so well that they actually do seem to be like a married couple. When Scully threatens to leave Mulder if he pursues the case and his relationship with Father Joe any further, we don't believe it and neither do the characters. It's clear in the performances that these two people have too much history together and too much left undone in their lives to leave each other. Mulder can't crack the case without Scully's scientific insights, and Sully can't save the young boy without Mulder's unyielding faith in her and in something greater than either of them. The final scenes are made up of the standard physical confrontation with evil, but for once it doesn't involve guns and a clichéd shootout.

The supporting cast in generally excellent, but Amanda Peet and rapper Xzibit play roles that are essentially clones of the Monica Reyes and John Doggett characters from the last few seasons of the show, so why not just use them? It's possible that Robert Patrick and Anabeth Gish were too expensive, but it would have been a nice tie-in nonetheless. Callum Keith Rennie, who plays the "Leoben" Cylon on Battlestar Galactica, is generally wasted in what could have been a very creepy role.

Overall the film has a very dark, Millennium-esque look and feel to it, and I can't help thinking that the production could have used a dose of Frank Black and a more paranormal angle to liven things up. Still, it was nice to catch up with Mulder and Scully after all these years, and I suspect that was the intention all along. The story was less important than what it put the characters through.

In the end, Mulder and Scully face the reality that they can't hide from who they are and what they do any longer, and it's clear that if the film makes money there will be another sequel.

But next time, let's get back to aliens, shall we?
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 5, 2008 9:45 PM PST

Show: A Night in the Life of Matchbox Twenty
Show: A Night in the Life of Matchbox Twenty
DVD ~ Matchbox Twenty
Offered by village_music_world
Price: $4.44
66 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent concert video, April 20, 2006
When I first saw that U2 concert director Hamish Hamilton had directed this MB-20 concert, I was a bit worried. Hamilton has a bad habit of jumping all over the place and using extreme close-ups (I think Bono needs a new filling on that #24 back molar) and never really giving the viewer a sense of the bigger show going on in the arena. Thankfully, Hamilton is far more restrained in his coverage of MB-20, using plenty of context shots to give the viewer a sense of the staging and light show. Maybe this is dictated by the fact that with the exception of front man Rob Thomas, Matchbox 20 are a real collection of dorks. Still, the music they make is more than fine, and this DVD is nice collection of tunes highlighting the strong catalog of radio hits the band has built since 1996. "Cold," "Real World" "Downfall" and "Push" are particularly good live, carried by Thomas' strong, resonant voice.

Visually, the show is far from exciting, as Thomas certainly isn't Bono in the charisma department, looking decidedly uncomfortable onstage. The sound and music mix are fine, as far as I'm concerned. The DVD looks great on the HD big screen, and is highly recomended if you are a fan.

How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
Offered by CAC Media
Price: $7.64
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Worth the Wait, November 23, 2004
Irish supergroupU2 ("rock's only remaining superpower," according to one reviewer) is back with their first new studio album in four years, and this solid but surprising effort has many elements that make it well worth the wait. 2002's "Electrical Storm" and 2003's "The Hands That Built America" gave no hint of the direction this album would take.

It may not be the instant classic of its advance notices, but How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb is a soaring, atmospheric journey and a worthy successor to 2000's brilliant "All That You Can't Leave Behind." In fact, in its best moments, Atomic Bomb sounds, if anything, like a direct continuation of that album's highest musical achievements. It's easy to hear some of the new songs falling in place right alongside ATYCLB's more memorable tunes. "Vertigo" seems a logical lead-in to "Elevation," "Walk On" a natural follow-up to "Yahweh," "Sometimes You Can't Make it on Your Own" is a spiritual stepson of ATYCLB's "Kite." That said, this album stands on its' own, and has a unique view of the world that incorporates the changes we have all endured in the years since ATYCLB's sunny, optimistic melodies soared out of our radios in late 2000.

Pre-billed by the band as a hard-edged, guitar driven record, HTDAAB is anything but. The opening song, Vertigo, certainly hits that preconception right on the money, but the rest of the album is a quiet, almost somber record that accepts the reality of today's challenging world while evoking more than a few memories of U2 songs past. Vertigo actually sounds contrived and forced, as if the band had it in mind to manufacture a "hit single." The end result of such efforts is invariably that the finished product sounds, well, manufactured. Bono's vocal style is ill suited to the demands that such a silly rave-up makes on him, and while the song has grown on me, the band sounds uncomfortable executing it.

It's possible that the band started out to make an up tempo rock and roll record, then discovered when they got into the studio that their hearts just weren't in it. This certainly seems supported by the surprising transition into "Miracle Drug," the album's second tune. MD is a soulful, deeply emotional song about a paralyzed schoolmate of the bands' who was helped by a new drug therapy. The song is full of wonder at the miracles of science, and takes an opposing view from traditional Christian perspectives on experimentation and "playing the hand you're dealt." Maybe it is an ode to stem cell research, but regardless it is a wondrously executed melody driven by Bono's heartfelt vocals. Layers of background vocals soften the overall feel of the song and offset Edges' driving guitar work, even as he pushes the song to a rising finish. It's a personal, memorable tune.

Miracle Drug transitions into a soft, almost crooner-ish intro to "Sometimes You Can't Make it on Your Own." Easily the albums best song, SYCMIOYO features Edge conjuring up the memory of early U2 songs with his metallic, echoing guitar work. Bono's vocal is phenomenal, and the lyric is uniquely personal and direct as he works through his relationship with his late father, who passed away in the middle of the Elevation tour in 2001. While ATYCLB's "Kite" took a philosophical perspective on his fathers' inevitable demise, this song is fully about a man in grief, and Bono throws himself into it with the passion and intensity of someone who really doubts he can get by without his moral compass. SYCMIOYO is almost like a personalized version of Pop's "Please," but this time focusing the pain and desperation inwardly at his own heart, instead of outwardly at the tragedy of world events. Both songs are brilliant, but SYCMIOYO will resonate long after the memories of Sarajevo have faded.

Other songs are almost as memorable. "City of Blinding Lights" walks a tightrope between sappy sentiment and a refined, glittering guitar riff that evokes fond memories of "In God's Country." "Original of the Species" and "Crumbs from Your Table" deftly walk the razors edge between the personal and political, never going too far and yet making their points with force and passion. "Yahweh," the album's closing hymn, is the group's most overtly religious song since October's "Gloria," and finishes the album on a humble yet rousing tone that leaves the listener on a musical mountaintop.

In the end, HTDAAB is work of greatness that while not necessarily extending U2's legend, at the very least confirms it.

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