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Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
Offered by Bridge_Media
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding....And Still Her Best Effort To Date, January 18, 2005
Sarah McLachlan has, thus far, had a very interesting career. Born and raised in Nova Scotia, her recording career began with two highly acclaimed releases, "Solace" and "Touch". Partnering with producer Pierre Marchand, they created sounds, textures, lyrics and vocals that defied description. McLachlan's early work was experimental, giving her a cult following that labeled her as `alternative'. "Fumbling Towards Ecstasy" was really the benchmark for her alternative audience, most of whom were shell shocked at the AC, mature sounds of her next two studio efforts "Surfacing" and "Afterglow". Though McLachlan can be credited for contributing deeply affecting lyrics and subtle intense vocals to the `alt' sound, Marchand is really the orchestrator of the overall sound design that makes this effort a minor alternative masterpiece.

What makes this such a unique and alternative recording? It is alternative in that it breaks new ground in making simple instruments like the Hammond B-3 and percussion sound fresh and new. It is alternative in that McLachlan and Marchand focus on a single audience and never try to please everyone. It is alternative in that the lyrics are raw and open for all to see and the vocals interpret these lyrics in varying degrees of intensity. Thus it is no surprise that most of her early success came on the alternative and rock charts before her music gained a wider audience on the pop and AC charts.

This is a superb effort. The subtle but powerful opener "Possession" signals that the listener is in for a great ride of interpretive sounds. The hits "Good Enough" and "Hold On" though slow in their delivery, are understated gems. "Plenty" and "Mary" are great to listen to for their moving undertones of sadness and solitude. The key tracks here that make this CD stand out are "Possession" and the two final cuts - "Fear" and the title track, both of which are brilliantly written and produced, both cloaked in darkness that you can feel through the music - perfect. This remains McLachlan's best effort. Sure, she sold a ton of units with "Surfacing" and "Mirrorball" and gained a wider audience, but this is the recording that fans and followers always come back to - and they are right. It's raw, musically challenging, brilliantly produced and showcases McLachlan at her best.

In Loving Memory of
In Loving Memory of
Offered by megahitrecords
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4.0 out of 5 stars Hard Rock Blues Never Sounded As Good As This, January 17, 2005
This review is from: In Loving Memory of (Audio CD)
This Canadian-American coalition of musicians formed in New England, create a superlative set of hard rocking, bluesy songs on a solid debut recording. Led by Ian Thornley, it is quite apparent on this CD that he was going to out-grow the band and move on by himself. Another CD release in 2001 (largely ignored) confirmed that a major talent was headlining this band. The band unfortunately folded soon after. It took awhile but Ian Thornley formed the band Thornley and released an equally impressive set in 2004. With Thornley as lead vocalist, writer of the majority of the songs, recorded in Canada and their management (members who also manage The Tragically Hip) and base in Toronto, the group's debut was a great success.

This is quite a good recording. The musicianship is well above par and the first-class production and recording results in a polished hard rock sound. Though it leans (at times) perhaps a bit too far into the wall of crushing, over powering guitars(making them sound a bit like Creed but more like Soundgarden), the band is essentially more thoughtful in its lyrics and more restrained in its delivery. The thundering echoes of layered guitar riffs fit the band's overall image of sound quite well. The heart and soul of the band is the wonderfully talented Ian Thornley, whose lyrics show an understanding of a deeper meaning of thoughts and sights, missing in other hard rock groups. Well chosen as a lead singer, his vocals soar on harder songs and are more interpretive on slower material.

Of the set's 13 songs, the strongest are those that were released as singles - and did quite well. "The Oaf" (or "My Luck Is Wasted"), "That Song", "Blown Wide Open" and "Under The Lighthouse" show all the band's strong points. Great guitar work, strong vocals and superior craftsmanship highlight their talent. Though the first 3 singles showcased their raw, amplified hard rock sound, it was the 4th single "Under The Lighthouse" that slowed the pace down and allowed the band to show their versatility. Tracks also of note are "Between You And I" and "Waste". Though this was clearly an Ian Thornley showcase, it's a good first effort for the band. It's good to hear Ian Thornley back - he's a great talent, as exhibited here.

Trouble at the Henhouse
Trouble at the Henhouse
Offered by octojazz
Price: $8.99
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Hip Turn A Corner For Better And For Worse, January 9, 2005
This review is from: Trouble at the Henhouse (Audio CD)
Up until 1996, The Tragically Hip had been a cult (yet extremely successful) hard-rock band from Canada, seemingly played in every Canadian teen's-20s basement with wood paneled walls, shag carpet and a huge red maple leaf hung on the wall. Canadian through and through. As Canadian as maple syrup, mounties, beavers, Gordon Lightfoot, Anne Murray and Wayne Gretzky. Their music was called grungy, alternative and had a "cult" following. Lead singer Gord Downie was reknowned for his ad-lib, bizarre stage performances and the lyrics were some of the most complex, yet eerily strange compositions ever heard. Then 1996 happened and "Trouble At The Henhouse" arrived.

I consider this recording as the turning point for the band. Essentially, they grew up. Sure, the complex lyrics were still there but there was an "adult" acoustic sound that began to creep its way into their repetoire. The hard-driving guitars were mellowed in favour of a more kinder, inclusive sound that sought to bring in a wider audience. Exhibit A: The massive success of "Ahead By A Century", a song that crossed from AOR over to Contemporary Hit Radio. The result was a widening of their audience (something that mushroomed with their next CD "Phantom Power"). It was an acknowledgement that not only was the band getting older but their fan base was as well.

This is not to say that this CD was the beginning of the end of the band or that they "jumped the shark". It is one of those seminal recordings where you get the sense that, after years of doing the same type of sound, the creativity has been tweaked and the band has turned a corner that will result in change - good or bad. The acoustic wanderings on this CD are fitting for such a recording that has such an "earthy" feel to it. The sounds of lulls and high points in the music are typically dramatic for The Hip and they again work on this set. Every song is memorable for certain lyrics and a challenge to comprehend. The music is professional but not so polished as to make it redundant. This is a fine record and, with "Phantom Power", the peak of their commercial success - reward for years of "cult" Canadian fame.

The Best Of John Hiatt
The Best Of John Hiatt
Offered by skyvo-direct-usa
Price: $10.52
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine Collection From A Talented Artist, January 9, 2005
This review is from: The Best Of John Hiatt (Audio CD)
Casual fans of any artist really have a problem on their hands when their singer or group switches record labels like they wash their hair. Unlike Gordon Lightfoot who has been with Warner-Reprise for over 36 years, John Hiatt has had numerous falling-outs with various labels over the course of his career. That poses a problem when releasing a Greatest Hits collection - there can never be A release, it has to be several Hits releases. Or, if you own the rights to the songs, you can do what John Hiatt did for this release and re-record some of the songs to allow for a proper Hits package.

A CD of re-recordings of the original studio versions is always a hit or miss affair - mostly a miss. Take for example Lightfoot's re-recordings of his 1960s United Artist hits on his "Gord's Gold" album for Warner - not the best (but not as bad as his re-recordings for his 1988 "Gord's Gold Vol. II"). In a spat with A+M, Hiatt re-recorded some of his hits for a Hits recording for his new label Capitol. Some work, others do not.

Hiatt's growly low singing voice takes some getting use to. His pen is his greatest attribute. The lead-off "Have A Little Faith In Me" is good but sounds a bit laboured. "Angel Eyes" is horrible in that no one sounds involved in the song and all are struggling to get through it. Those aside, the rest of the CD is totally listenable. It is interesting to hear Hiatt's own versions of his songs that were hits to so many others. Although none are as good as the originals, it is neat to hear his take on his own work. "Thing Called Love" (Bonnie Raitt), "The Way We Make A Broken Heart" (Rosanne Cash), "Drive South" (Suzy Bogguss), "Angel Eyes" (Jeff Healy), "Memphis In The Meantime" (Trisha Yearwood), "Have A Little Faith In Me" (Joe Cocker) are all here. Standouts from Hiatt here are "Riding With The King", "Slow Turning", "Child Of The Wild Blue Yonder" and perhaps the best cut on the CD, "Cry Love" - his biggest solo hit of his career. This is by no means a great compilation. It is average at best, but the talent and artistic fortitude that Hiatt possesses is too good to dismiss this set as just another Hits collection. Superb singer-songwriter.

The Very Best Of Fleetwood Mac (2CD)
The Very Best Of Fleetwood Mac (2CD)
Price: $9.99
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 70s Supergroup Doesn't Disappoint....Too Much, January 8, 2005
This is a well-chosen lot of songs that surpasses the 1988 Greatest Hits collection by far, by including many lesser known but equally important songs. One of the best things about this CD is that it does not flow in chronological order - the song list is arranged to complement the previous and next song, giving the CD a more artsy feel and sound.

It is my estimation that no "Greatest Hits" or "Very Best Of" will please every listener - especially these days, no matter who the artist is. Since the advent of CDs in the mid to late 80s the concept of the "Greatest Hits" album has changed. Before that time, the Greatest Hits Of... was really a Greatest Hits album with no filler and no new tracks. Since then, record companies can release "Greatest Hits" after "Greatest Hits", leaving off certain chart hits and including others, forcing fans to buy all the semi-Greatest Hits releases to get all the hit songs. This set is a must though for casual fans.

Though all the hits seem to be here with Fleetwood Mac, there are a few glaring, unfortunate recordings that should not be here. Lindsay Buckingham's live "Go Insane" is just horrible. And I cringe when I hear "Skies The Limit", from their unfortunate early 90s AC effort "Behind The Mask", as they all sound old, tired and ready to retire. These cuts really do damage to the overall quality of the entire CD and without them, I would have given the CD 5 stars.

Those unfortunate songs excluded, this is a great CD. All their 70s work is classic and sounds superb. The songs that made them ("Don't Stop", "Go Your Own Way", "Dreams", "You Make Loving Fun") are fun to listen to, yet it is their lesser known album tracks included here that really make this listenable. Stevie Nicks is a superb songwriter and it shows with the haunting "Storms" that closes out disc one. Her "Gold Dust Woman" and "Gypsy" are finely crafted, equally attention grabbing songs. Christine McVie has a pretty voice that shines on "Songbird", "Over My Head" and "Little Lies". Also key on here are the rockers "Seven Wonders", "Second Hand News" and "Think About Me".

Fleetwood Mac is a classic example of a band's individuals with personal turmoil creating art out of their misery. Though their 90s output was far inferior to their introspective 70s and 80s recordings, they continue to endure. The classic #1 hits may have cemented their reputation as legends but their lesser known, interior-seeking, dark, exposed nerve-ending songs made their overwhelming success seem human and real to the rest of us mere mortals.

Eurythmics - Greatest Hits
Eurythmics - Greatest Hits
244 used & new from $0.01

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Collection Of Rhythmic Pop, October 13, 2003
First, there are a couple versions of this Greatest Hits collection out there. The US version that Amazon is selling has 14 songs (including the addition of "King And Queen Of America"). The original European and Canadian release has 18 songs including songs not on the US release: "Right By Your Side", "It's Alright (Baby's Coming Back)", "You Have Placed A Chill In My Heart", "Miracle Of Love" and "Sex Crime (1984)". Thus, your hits collection is not complete with the US Version.
This is quite the compliation though and it is rare that a compliation is this thorough to not have a record company constantly release hits after hits versions. This is the definitive release and that is why it has been so successful.
The group was an essential part of 80s music and as the decade grew out of its reliance on synth and drum machine based music, so did the group. The absence or minimal use of synth by the Eurythmics at the end of the 80s (and thus at the end of their career) moved the focus away from Dave Stewart's electronic musings to the group's lyrics and interior thoughts and feelings about the world around them. As the synth and electronica of the 80s made way for a return of more real instrumentation, the Eurythmics' music fell flat, and the group folded at that time. This was also the reason for the failure of the group's return album in 1999. It didn't have the spark or excitement that their earlier 80s work did.
From 1981 to 1987, the Eurythmics could do no wrong and all of their music in that time frame is simply a joy to listen to. Though some consider "Sweet Dreams" their seminal song, you also have to consider "Would I Lie To You?", the song that full established them as a rock act; "Missionary Man", which gave them a Grammy; and "It's Alright (Baby's Coming Back)" a nice little propulsive pop song that builds from a whisper to a crescendo. "Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves" also shows the great Aretha Franklin in fine form.
Annie Lennox always had and will always have a great voice. It's clear alto mixed with Dave Stewart's synth on their earlier work and with his guitar driven mid-80s rock groove is perfect. This was a stellar group with rock solid material. A fine addition to your collection.

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10 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Silly, Immature, Amateurish Garbage, October 13, 2003
This review is from: Up! (Audio CD)
It boggles the mind how gullible consumers are. Repackage a long, long list of songs that have been done over and over again and sell them as new, original recordings. Sorry, but I don't buy it.
There is not anything original (or good) about this CD. The notes, the music, the teenager-like, sweet-little-country-girl immature diary-like lyrics, the 'whoops', the 'uh-huhs', the 'yeah-yeahs', the 'baby babys'...enough already! We've heard this all before Twain.
Sex sells. If Twain looked like a wrinkled old curmudgeon, yet had the voice of an angel (which she doesn't), she wouldn't have sold half of what she has brainwashed people into buying so far.
This CD makes you want to give up completely on the music business. If someone can release something this banal, sell a ton of records and get away with it, something is seriously wrong in the world.
I refuse to be beat over the head with this woman's amateurish junk music anymore. I would like to thank the person who invented the off switch. It comes in handy whenever Twain appears on the radio and TV.
Whenever I think of all the money put into this 'thing' to make it and buy it, I think of how all that money would have instead gone to one of the world's problems like homelessness. Then I shake my head.

Lennie Gallant Live
Lennie Gallant Live

4.0 out of 5 stars Good Recording From A Major Talent, June 22, 2003
This review is from: Lennie Gallant Live (Audio CD)
First of all, this is not the best live recording you will ever hear. It is spotty, the sound is not superior and the musicianship is not up to par (which is a surprise, considering that that is one of the band's strong points). I really miss Janet Munson, who is usually Gallant's main fiddle player. She gave the band a cool, crisp, electric sound that is missed here. Her replacement, Chris Church, though trying to do an admirable job, just doesn't cut it. His notes are high and off the mark on many an occasion. The usually fun, foot-tapping "The Open Window" (heard here done as the french "La Valse des Vagues") is very rushed and unsatisfying. Those are the only complaints.
On the positive side, Lennie Gallant is, always has been and will always be a superior songwriter. His picture painting portraits of life, love, loss and social concern are by far the best of any of his peers. Lennie Gallant is also a wonderful live artist. His live interpretations of his material are a joy to listen to.
Highlights heard here are the familiar "Which Way Does The River Run", "Peter's Dream", and "Part Of Me" from the first part of the CD. Three songs from his "Lifeline" CD including "The Band's Still Playing" (a great rocker) are thankfully included.
"Pieces Of You", a new song, is just fabulous and would have been a big hit if it had been released as a single. It's gentle sound and wistful sentiment are note perfect.
Gallant's crowning achievement though is still "Man Of Steel" and it's saved as the last listed track. The defiant, angry social comment on a big business decision still remains relevant today as it was when he wrote it 15 years ago. It's definitely a crowd pleaser.
Though Gallant only had one major label recording ("The Open Window" - on Sony, who foolishly let go of him), he seems to thrive best when he is independently creative. For years, there have been many who have known about the talent of Lennie Gallant and here's hoping that many more will discover this gentle, proud, brilliantly talented performer.

The Visit
The Visit
Offered by insomniacsonline
Price: $5.99
137 used & new from $0.01

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Listen By A Classy Lady, May 19, 2003
This review is from: The Visit (Audio CD)
Without a doubt, Loreena McKennitt is one of the most superb performers ever to set upon the stage. Her classy demeanour and perfect voice complement each other so well that they have both worked to set her apart from others that do not even come close to matching her abilities as an artist.
This breakthrough recording from 1991 is timeless. Fueled by the radio play on Canadian public radio CBC, word of mouth of her incredible live performances and her own management of her career and record company, McKennitt rose to prominence with this fine recording. Her voice is achingly beautiful, the production in first-rate, the music is superb.
The opener "All Souls Night" is a masterpiece of capturing the mood of the matter. The crescendo of her voice and drum beats are note perfect. There is not one bad selection to be heard here. All are performed with heart and conviction. "Bonny Portmore", "The Old Ways" and "Cymbeline" are other perfect tracks that stretch the boundaries of Celtic music. Only McKennitt, with her talent, could be capable of providing such high quality sounds that justify her prominence.
Though she is no longer recording, this CD cemented her place in music. Music of this high a quality will become heard and will become successful - as it should be, for a lady of quality such as McKennitt.

No Exit
No Exit
Offered by Customer Direct
Price: $7.21
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing Return From The New Wave Pop Stars, May 19, 2003
This review is from: No Exit (Audio CD)
Debbie Harry has always had a great voice and on here she proves that once again. However, the group's attempt to recreate the magic that it once had in the late 70's and early 80's, fails on this disappointing all-over-the map recording.
The odd "Screaming Skin" opens this CD and signals that things are not quite right. The attempt at quirky pop falls flat here. Redemption arrives with the catchy "Forgive And Forget" with the echoy bells a nice touch. "Maria" is the centerpiece of the CD. Harry's vocals are superb, the arrangement is slick and the pace is perfect. From there, things go downhill with their attempt at a 21st century "Rapture" with the title track with rap by Coolio. It just doesn't have the same kind of appeal that their earlier work has. "Double Take" and "Nothing Is Real But The Girl" are listenable but are not memorable. The rest of the CD consists of mostly forgettable fluff, though "Happy Dog" is interesting for it's cool groove.
All in all, this is quite a disappointment. If you are a successful group going to come back after 17 years of not recording, you're going to have to have something called commercial appeal - and this CD just doesn't have it. With the exception of "Maria", the next closest appealing single on here is "Forgive And Forget" - and that is stretching it. "Maria" itself was a failure as a successful single, despite it's catchy hooks.
Though it was nice to hear them again, the material on here doesn't have nearly the amount of appeal that their earlier work has. Pick up their Greatest Hits CD which includes Maria and other lesser known earlier work - it's of very high quality. This is not.

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