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Live At The Mar Y Sol Festival '72
Live At The Mar Y Sol Festival '72
Price: $10.00
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Know Thyself ..., January 13, 2012
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The comments regarding audio quality are definitely something that needs to be considered before deciding to purchase this disc if you are a person that has a difficult time listening to anything with less than perfect quality. On the other hand, if you are able to adapt to the sonic conditions that you are presented with and hear the musical product you will be highly impressed by the wonderful performance captured from this event. I fall somewhere in between depending on my musical mood which is why I hope that this review will be helpful to those wondering how to analyze some of the information that has been posted.

The strong suits of this disc are as follows:

(+) ELP's unleashed a brilliant performance at the Mar Y Sol Festival in 1972. Hearing these versions of classic ELP tracks has been a very refreshing experience for me personally. This is the primary reason I have chosen to give this product a solid 4 star rating.

(+) I truly enjoy being able to hear parts of these familiar ELP tracks that are not as easily discerned on other versions. For example, on Hoedown Keith's left hand keyboard performance is much more pronounced and clearly separated from his right hand lead. This separation is less noticeable on the remaining tracks but there are other special treats of this nature tucked away here and there. During Tarkus we are treated to a very pronounced guitar piece on the Battlefield segment that is normally much more subdued.

(+) Greg's vocals are clear throughout and his bass work is isolated nicely.

(+) The information sleeve provides insightful quotes from Keith, Greg, and Carl regarding the Mar Y Sol Festival. It would have been nice to have an actual booklet with pictures from the event but the essential information is recorded on the gatefold sleeve along with a simple collage of some memorabilia from the event.

(-) The single shortcoming of this disc has already been noted. The audio deficiencies primarily affect Carl Palmer's performance as the crash is there but the thunder is mostly missing.

Know thyself, consider the information provided in this and other reviews, and then determine whether or not this product could add value to your musical experience. Live at the Mar Y Sol Festival '72 is a welcomed addition to my collection. It has revived my appetite for ELP's back catalog, much of which I have reintroduced into my musical rotation as a direct result of now owning this disc.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 13, 2013 6:42 AM PDT

Spirit of 76
Spirit of 76
Price: $17.16
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Get that feeling in time again ..., November 15, 2011
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This review is from: Spirit of 76 (Audio CD)
... if you were there and had this album in the mid-70's you know what I mean. Spirit with their various line-ups always seemed to be on the edge of something really special. Yet I often felt that they came up short in making a total connection in one aspect or another. "Spirit of '76" is an excellent example of this. This album is both sparse and lush at the same time making it a true paradox. Many of the songs have a dreamlike feel to them, very soothing and laid back with mesmerizing drumming provided by Ed Cassidy to quicken the pulse. There are select spots where Cassidy and California pick up the pace but this integrated work of sonic art relies heavily on the hypnotic effect created by moving from one tranquil tune to the next. This is especially true on disc two. Disc one is more uptempo. It rocks out at times but never loses touch with the laid back groove. Disc two is more surreal.

"Spirit of '76" pays homage to Jimi Hendrix at various points by featuring steamy guitar solos distorted and controlled to perfection to suit the piece much like Hendrix would do on the more mellow tracks that he released. "Hey Joe" is an obvious example where both Hendrix (Are You Experienced) and California (Spirit of '76) hit their marks. California takes Hendrix's bouncier version and creates a stoned somber mood that gradually becomes more manic as the solo kicks in and weaves magically to completion. "Hey Joe" is certainly a gem on "Spirit of '76" but the album generally lacks the edgier rock out tracks that Hendrix always made sure were packaged in ample portions on his releases. California and Cassidy missed out on a golden opportunity to include a few more manic rockers like "Veruska" and make "Spirit of '76" a more robust album. What they did include, however, is worthy of note and accomplishes their vision of the times. For this I give them high marks.

Based on some of the reviews posted here, anyone looking to sample Spirit for the first time or for those looking to add something from Randy California to their gallery of guitar gunslingers are going to end up being perplexed, perhaps even disappointed. "Spirit of '76" is a subtle offering that is meant to be digested as an integrated whole rather than a collection of independent tracks. The original vinyl allowed you to take this offering in four parts which worked well but I find that the two discs on the CD version are an even better division. Just like any album that you might already own, "Spirit of '76" is not something that is always suitable for the moment. It isn't a party album but rather is more of a personal escape experience for when you are looking to break loose from the confinement of your current circumstances.

USA Union
USA Union
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Where did his legs go, indeed ..., August 9, 2010
This review is from: USA Union (Audio CD)
Rating: 4.5 Stars
I am really pleased to see so many glowing reviews of this interesting and unique John Mayall album. USA Union has stood the test of time with me as I still periodically pull this one out and when I do it generally stays in the rotation for weeks. I enjoy the seamless and smooth flow of the tracks as they are propelled along by the steady and melodic bass lines of Larry Taylor. Harvey Mandel's guitar contributions are fluid and under control without being overly restrained. The same is true for Sugarcane Harris and his masterful work on the violin. As for the compositions themselves, you get a sample of Mayall's eco-hippie side (Nature's Disappearing), a peek into his domestic diary (Night Flyer, Off The Road, Possessive Emotions, Took The Car, My Pretty Girl, Deep Blue Sea), his fun and funny side (Where Did My Legs Go), and a pair of well constructed numbers that range from slow blues (Crying) to up-tempo boogie (You Must Be Crazy). In a word USA Union is "REFRESHING" and well worth giving a listen to.

The Cross and the Switchblade
The Cross and the Switchblade
DVD ~ Pat Boone
Price: $13.03
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wilkerson's blade proves to be the sharpest ..., June 24, 2009
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This is a Christian classic that has been transferred very well from the original 35mm negative to DVD. I recall seeing this movie as an adolescent when it first came out and can tell you that it made a huge impression on me. There is no sense comparing the technical production and general aesthetics of this film against the full budget films from that era. The big budget affairs are well known for their excessive resources and effects. "The Cross and the Switchblade" does compare very favorably with the revered cult classics of the day however.

There is probably a bit of nostalgic prejudice clouding my judgment but I do not think that this film could have been improved upon in any way when you take into account its intended purpose. A bigger budget would have allowed for more exciting special effects, visually stimulating scenery, and probably would have garnered "The Cross and the Switchblade" more technical praise. As a result of not having the extra budget, the characters and story line become more of a focal point making it a more intimate viewing experience.

As for the special bonus features, they are a worthwhile addition to the DVD product:

* Interview with Don Murray (Writer/Director) 20 minutes
This is a typical interview offering interesting insights into the behind the scenes events. Of particular note is the story of how gang members were actually recruited to play roles in the film which gave it a true sense of authenticity but also introduced special dangers to the project and to the crew. These gang members really hated each other and had to be managed carefully. Another interesting story touches on how a 21 year old African American girl won a part in the film that was originally written for a teenage Caucasian male: Bo.

* Interview with Associate Director Ken Curtis 20 minutes
This interview focuses on general facts and figures (i.e. setting box office records upon release in 40 cities; translated into 30 languages; etc). The discussion about the films origins and the financial challenges it faced takes on a very businesslike tone.

* Back to The Cross and the Switchblade 24 minutes
This feature begins by discussing the events that brought David Wilkerson to NYC to start his ministry among the gangs. Excerpts from the film are interspersed with real life footage of the people currently being ministered to by the programs that are an outgrowth of Mr. Wilkerson's ministry. The very real images of the people and places that are presented in this special feature create an impressive documentary that is well worth watching.

* Nicky Cruz in South Africa 32 minutes
This short feature is worth the price of the DVD alone. Nicky Cruz speaks very candidly about his experiences from his childhood being an unwanted child in a home filled with witchcraft up through his encounter with David Wilkerson. Fans of "The Princess Bride" will notice how much Nicky Cruz's command of the English language resembles that of Andre the Giant's.

* Biography Feature (general text information about the film personnel listed below)
Pat Boone
Erik Estrada
Don Murray

"The Cross and the Switchblade" rates five stars for the clean, clear transfer from film to DVD, for the special bonus features, for the film being faithful to the times and the culture in which the story took place, and for showing how the message is or is not received by the people involved in this real-life story.

When The Eagle Flies (Remastered)
When The Eagle Flies (Remastered)
Price: $7.39
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fritz bring your wigwam., June 3, 2009
All of Traffic's albums are essential listening in my opinion; all are first rate in their own special way. "When The Eagle Flies" may not be regarded as Traffic's best album but it is my favorite of their studio releases.

From the first cut, "Something New", you could tell that this was a different sounding Traffic. The song itself is a bright, pop styled tune and is a precursor to what Steve Winwood would later release on his solo albums. "Dream Gerrard" follows and is almost the complete opposite in all aspects. "Something New" is short and packed with lyrics about a troubled relationship; "Dream Gerrard" is an 11+ minute epic that has sparse but highly imaginative lyrics that are parsed out in an unusual manner that truly adds to the genius captured in this composition. "Graveyard People" is the third track and closed out side one on the original vinyl release. It starts off eerily and then turns into an up-tempo gem peppered with sonic bursts that literally jump out of your speakers (or headphones).

"Walking In The Wind" is classic Traffic both lyrically and musically. The lyrics alone are so engaging that they could carry any arrangement that they were set to. However, it is hard to imagine a more complementary arrangement than the one recorded here. "Memories Of A Rock'N'Rolla" and "Love" are both contemplative tracks. The first is a reflective ballad about a musicians experiences from young boy to old man that brightens musically when least expected; the second is a brief yet fully developed ode to love. I've always been partial to the tunes where Chris Wood's contributions on flute are featured and "Love" is a fine example.

The title track closes the proceedings with an exclamation point. The light, ethereal mood created in the preceding tune is quickly dashed by the cold reality of the subject matter in "When The Eagle Flies". The powerful lyrics were perfect for the times in which they were written and still ring true today. The aggressive manner in which they are presented brings this 1974 Traffic masterpiece to a definitive and somewhat unsettling conclusion.

Footnotes: For those who don't already know, the title of this review - "Fritz bring your wigwam" - comes from the lyrics of "Dream Gerrard". A special mention is also in order for Rosko Gee's bass contributions. He was a significant addition to Traffic and his laudable contributions are obvious.

McCartney II
McCartney II
29 used & new from $7.14

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars II toV, May 20, 2009
This review is from: McCartney II (Audio CD)
Well, maybe not a V but a solid IV at least.

Arguably this release probably does rate only 2 stars when compared with other McCartney/Beatles/Wings efforts but it could easily rate 4 stars if not held to such high standards. Hence, I've decided to give McCartney II a 3+ star rating overall. What does that signify? Simply that I do enjoy listening to the tracks on this release individually and as a package when the mood strikes.

1. Coming Up should be familiar enough to most McCartney fans as this is the studio version of the track that received radio airplay and had the amusing "multi-McCartney" video on MTV.
2. Temporary Secretary can be amusing or it can be annoying. I've had many people tell me that it is the latter but I consider it to be the former (in a Devo sort of way).
3. On The Way is the first track on McCartney II that would have fit well on a Wings album (any of them); one of my favorites.
4. Waterfalls is a nice mellow McCartney pop track and is well placed as the succeeding song to On The Way.
5. Nobody Knows is a Lo-Fi/Retro rocker that builds into quite a toe-tapper.
6. Front Parlour is an interesting keyboard/synthesizer instrumental; nice but non-essential.
7. Summer's Day Song is Beatlesque McCartney set to synths; very pleasant.
8. Frozen Jap is another keyboard instrumental that is quite catchy; reminiscent of similar upbeat Edgar Froese/Tangerine Dream compositions.
9. Bogey Music is psychedelic rockabilly and a lot of fun unless you are in a serious mood (which you probably won't be in at this point assuming that you have just finished listening to the preceding eight tracks).
10. Darkroom is in a word ODD; good in a quirky sort of way.
11. One Of These Days is a traditional McCartney acoustic ballad; another favorite.
12. Check My Machine defies description and I'm really not sure how I feel about this one. If I let the track get started then I'm hooked which is why I am ALWAYS tempted to press stop or skip first.
13. Secret Friend is a hypnotic closer that seems to go on forever ... 10 minutes plus!!!
14. Goodnight Tonight is superb and is a true bonus for those buying the updated McCartney II. I have the original 1987 (Capitol/MPL) McCartney II release so this one is missing from my copy.

If your initial listening experience is anything like mine then you will find yourself debating whether or not you like McCartney II track by track. If so, give it a few additional listenings until you are absolutely sure.

Running Like the Wind
Running Like the Wind
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Time sometime heals ..., March 26, 2009
This review is from: Running Like the Wind (Audio CD)
... and erases the youthful prejudices brought on by a sense of betrayal and loss. I vividly recall the times surrounding the release of "Running Like The Wind" and can now see that my rejection of this 1979 release was based more on those feelings than on the performances presented therein. Southern rock and Capricorn Records were facing an uphill battle during the disco era that was in full swing at this time. When MTB signed on with Warner Brothers my initial reaction was that they had sold out and had become part of the corporate music machine. My guess is that many others had the same thoughts as "Running Like The Wind" still could have been a monumental success had the original fan base simply given this release an unbiased listen.

There is much to like here as the songwriting and performances are mighty fine. Everyone is on their game including Doug Gray who consistently delivers top notch vocals on 6 of the 7 tracks. Tommy Caldwell steps up to the mic for the one remaining track, "Melody Ann", and delivers a warm, southern tribute to his special lady. This track has that "Where We All Belong" feel to it and would have fit in nicely on that album.

Harkening back to the formula used to kick off "A New Life", RLTW opens up with an extended, moody title track that clocks in at 9+ minutes and sets the bar high. "Last of the Singing Cowboys" comes next and is an outstanding story song that expands the boundaries of where MTB's western swing/jazz numbers had gone previously and would rarely reach again. No doubt Warner's input regarding the arrangement and production on this specific number transformed it into the big-time event it ends up becoming. Fortunately, Toy Caldwell punctuates the proceedings with his trademark licks leaving MTB's unmistakable brand permanently imbedded.

"Answer to Love" is the third track and features Doug Gray's vocals which are subtle and plaintive throughout until he delivers the powerful plea that concludes it. "Unto These Hills" comes next and is an extended workout where Toy shines and shares the spotlight with Jerry Eubanks. The aforementioned "Melody Ann" slides into to the fifth slot preceding another Warner influenced number, "My Best Friend". This high energy tune is given a full, west coast horn arrangement similar to what the Doobie Brothers had employed on their "Stampede" album (1975 WB). Toy really gets to cut loose on the tail end of this one. By contrast, the next track "Pass It On" is a return to basics and the more traditional MTB sound. This is another tune that would have fit well on any of the preceding Capricorn-era albums and closes the album out nicely.

I am certainly glad that I gave "Running Like The Wind" a fresh listen after all of these years. It showcases a different MTB sound that is very enjoyable and is a welcome addition to my music collection.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five for Ten ... a perfect score., March 26, 2009
This review is from: Tenth (Audio CD)
The ten tracks compiled on the 1980 release entitled "Tenth" compare favorably with any offering in the MTB catalog. My initial impression upon hearing "Tenth" was similar to what I felt after my first listen to the band's final Capricorn release "Together Forever" in 1978: Is this real or am I dreaming? Every track is so well written and is performed in that inimitable Marshall Tucker style that one can't help but be reminded of what a special and unique group of musicians the original Marshall Tucker Band was.

For fans of Toy Caldwell's tasty guitar licks, there are plenty of fine examples spread across the ten tracks in this collection. Toy even collaborates with George McCorkle on a short instrumental tribute to Jimi Hendrix appropriately entitled "Jimi" that is tastefully done. Yet, for me, the stand out artist on "Tenth" is Paul Riddle. Never one to go over the top to draw attention to his performance, Mr. Riddle's drumming truly shines through here. The steady intensity he displays on the standout cooker "Cattle Drive" is most impressive.

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid Southern Silver Lining ..., March 25, 2009
This review is from: Dedicated (Audio CD)
Recorded during a very difficult time for the band, "Dedicated" is generally a very upbeat affair.

Rumors Are Raging (4:04) - This tune literally jumps starts the album with a frenzied Toy Caldwell solo and a little Charlie Daniels fiddlin' tagged onto the end of the intro. The pace slows downs then speeds up a few times in this one before finally coming to an abrupt end. Top notch MTB.

Tonight's The Night (For Making Love) (3:52) - A bouncy, sing-along song written by George McCorkle; the first of several tunes "dedicated" to the subject matter referenced in the title.

Love Some (2:49) - Love song #2; a Spencer/Tarney tune that is similar to what the band would do later on their "Tuckerized" album. They put their stamp on it but it still isn't MTB. The strange thing is that I actually like it a lot.

Silverado (4:02) - In a word, "EXCEPTIONAL". This one smokes!!!

Something's Missing In My Life (3:28) - Swinging number with plenty of Jerry Eubanks on flute; a real toe-tapper.

This Time I Believe (3:15) - Jerry switches to sax for this, the third outright "love" song.

Tell The Blues To Take Off The Night (4:45) - A nice bluesy piece that is done with that special MTB touch and with lyrics which undeniably make this the fourth track "dedicated" to love.

Special Someone (3:55) - One of my favorite tracks on this disc. This up-tempo number has a very bright, positive feel to it. Norton Buffalo's harmonica contributions add a nice flavor to the fun.

The Time Has Come (2:40) - Norton Buffalo lets you know right away that he is still sitting in with the boys. Another bright, up-tempo number.

Ride In Peace (3:56) - A beautiful tribute written by Toy Caldwell to "Tim and Tommy Caldwell and to all lost loved ones".

Overall, this is a really solid product that I enjoy listening to frequently. It always seems to brighten my day. However, there are just too many outright love songs in the mix for me give this a full 5 star rating. I have nothing against love songs per se and especially not the ones presented here as these are all done well. I guess I'm just being picky ...

Dead Set
Dead Set
Offered by Fulfillment Express US
Price: $20.77
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disciplined Dead ..., January 30, 2009
This review is from: Dead Set (Audio CD)
While initially not one of my favorite live offerings from GD, this remastered with bonus tracks double disc selection is certainly one to own. With all of the live GD options to choose from you will find that everyone has their favorite based on set list, performance date, performance level (individually as well as collectively), production quality, and their own personal state of mind. So, not being someone else's favorite shouldn't be a big factor in considering whether or not this disc (or any other disc for that matter) is for you the reader.

"Dead Set" contains very high quality performances and an outstanding set list from the band back in the fall of 1980. My initial impression upon first listen of the original 2-album vinyl release (way back when) was that the performances were highly disciplined as opposed to being dangerously close to the edge of something special or something tragic. This impression hasn't changed. Nonetheless, there are plenty of creative moments here so I'm sure that this point could be argued to the contrary as well.

Production on this release is balanced and clean. Brent Mydland's presence on keyboards can be heard quite clearly and is very prominent throughout. I especially enjoy his contributions to Candyman and Brokedown Palace which are fabulous renderings of these American Beauty classics. The crowd noise at certain key points of these tracks lets you know that they concur. The "special" version of Friend of the Devil presented here features Brent on organ in support of a very blue Jerry Garcia.

The aforementioned Brokedown Palace closed out the original "Dead Set" release and is among my personal favorites. As the tune ended I couldn't help but feel that there had to be more. After all, it couldn't possibly end there, could it? It did then but it doesn't anymore and that is enough to boost what I would have rated a 4+ stars release up to the full five star max. The bonus tracks on disc two provide a more freewheeling example of the band during this era making the remastered "Dead Set" an even more valuable treasure to own ...

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