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Profile for Brian D. Rubendall > Reviews


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Reviews Written by
Brian D. Rubendall RSS Feed (Oakton, VA)

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4 used & new from $17.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Bit Overlong--But Still Strong, April 9, 2003
This review is from: Cuba (Audio CD)
Originally released in 1987, "Cuba" was the album that put country rockers The Silos on the map, predating the emergence of Uncle Tupelo and the alt-country movement by a good three years. Back then the band was led by Bob Rupe in addition to Walter Salas-Humara, though the partnership was dominated by the latter from the beginning (Rupe left after the band's ill fated 1990 major label foray and ended up joining David Lowery in Cracker).
"Cuba" starts out strong with the rocking "Tennesee Fire," before moving on to the Rupe sung "She Lives Up the Street." These are followed by two sweet Salas-Humara ballads, "For Always" and "Maragret." Other highlights include the rocking "Just This Morning" and another beautiful ballad "Going Round." On the downside, the album loses steam in the second half, but not so much so that it isn't ultimately a winner. The newly released version adds a couple of live track that were not on the original album.
Overall, an excellent debut from an often overlooked band.

Hasta La Victoria
Hasta La Victoria
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strong Country Rock Album, April 9, 2003
This review is from: Hasta La Victoria (Audio CD)
Guess The Silos just weren't suited to be on a major label. The band's previous self-titled album (also their best) was released by RCA in 1990, and promptly disappeared from sight despite a batch of excellently crafted songs (sadly, it also remains the band's only unavailable album). Simply put, The Silos don't write hit singles, and that's why they returned to the indies with "Hasta La Victoria." Along the way they also lost co-leader Bob Rupe (late of Cracker), and became the Walter Salas-Humara show.
Though not quite as strong as the self-titled album, "Victoria" still contains many fine moments. The slowly unfolding opener, "Miles Away," is one of the band's best songs. It is followed by a decent rocker in "All I Know is Your Name." Other highlights include the driving love affair of "My Big Car," the sweet "Nobody but You," "All Night," with backing vocals by Victoria Williams (the Victoria of the title) and the closing "Find a Way." Not every song is a winner, but enough of them are to make this an album well worth owning.
Overall, a fine album from a band that successfully turned its back on the major labels.

Painted Lady (A James P. Dandy Elderhostel Mystery)
Painted Lady (A James P. Dandy Elderhostel Mystery)
by Peter E. Abresch
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $24.95
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He's a Jim Dandy!, April 9, 2003
Let me start off by saying that I love it when I actually learn something while being entertained by a good book. For instance, being a couple of decades short of retirment age, I had never heard of an Elderhostel before I read Peter Abresch's superb "Painted Lady." For those not familiar, an Elderhostel is a tour-like learning experience for folks who want to get the most out of their Golden Years. Author Abresch is an enthusiastic Elderhostel participant, so much so that he uses his experiences as the basis for his fine James P. Dandy amateur sleuth mystery series.
The book starts out with a bang as Jim witnesses a woman plunge from the roof of a building during a mystery conference he's attending to be supportive of his artist girlfriend Dodee. Suicide or murder? That's the question that unfolds in the aftermath, and it continues to plague Dandy while he's trying to enjoy his bus trip though the West with a colorful collection of fellow Elderhostel travelers. Things start to get really strange when the image of the woman, an American Indian, turns up mysteriously in one of Dodee's paintings. The hardheaded Jim resists the idea that anything supernatural is going on. Meanwhile, he and the others are being followed by a man who may or may not have some connection to the woman's death.
Though "Painted Lady" tends toward the cozy end of the mystery genre, there is enough sarcastic humor and suspense to satisfy those who like a little harder edge to their fiction. Abresch is a master of little touches, such as giving minor characters memorably humorous names like Harriet Callahan and Martin Martin (not to mention Jim Dandy himself). Though mature, his characters are plently lively with their witty banter. As a backdrop to the story, Abresch recounts the history of the Sante Fe Trail so well that by the end you'll think you attended the Elderhostel with Jim and his companions. It all leads to a conclusion that is both sharp and satisfying.
Overall, a spirited mystery novel from the kind of good natured author you'd like to sit and have a drink with.

Legend: The Best Of Bob Marley And The Wailers (New Packaging)
Legend: The Best Of Bob Marley And The Wailers (New Packaging)
Price: $10.36
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78 of 90 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Legendary Anthology, April 9, 2003
The Bob Marley collection "Legend" does indeed make its case for Marley as a regge legend. More than any other artist, he helped bring regge music to mainstream audiences with his excellent songwriting and musicianship. He could be political without sounding preachy, and also wrote some of the sweetest love songs of any musical genre. Marley was popularized in America, of course, when Eric Clapton remade his "I Shot the Sheriff." Clapton's version is outstanding, but Marley's is equally so and is the one were the song's subtle political message is more overt.
Other outstanding tracks on the collection include the sweet "Three Little Birds," the ace peace and love song "One Love/People Get Ready," the straight up love songs "Is This Love" and "Stir It Up," the political rant of "Buffalo Soldier," the call to arms "Get Up Stand Up" and the rave-up "Jamming." Even among the lesser well known songs there is not a clunker or misstep in the mix.
Overall, a superior single disc anthology that establishes Bob Marley as one of the most important musicians of his era.

Price: $8.99
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78 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Well Chosen Anthology, April 9, 2003
This review is from: Hits (Audio CD)
As single discs Best Of albums go, Joni Mitchell's "Hits" is very well done, collecting 15 of the best and most well known songs of Mitchell's long career. Mitchell is primarily known as a folk singer, but she's always had a rock and roll heart as she shows most particularly on "Big Yellow Taxi" (recently remade to excellent effect by The Counting Crows), the tropical paradise evoking "Carey" and the sweet love song "Help Me" that was one of her biggest hits.
On the folkier side of things, there is the standard "Both Sides Now," which for my money is more tuneful and superior to Judy Collins's hit version of the song. "Woodstock" is a postcard from another era, while the childhood memory-evoking "The Circle Game" is as poigniant as it is sweet. The collection gets a bonus star for including Mitchell's 1991 "comeback" tune "Come in from the Cold," which evokes the strain of being a flower child at heart growing up in the McCarthy-ite 1950s. The CD booklet is also excellent, containing a full lyrics sheet.
Overall, an outstanding single disc anthology album from an important American popular music artist.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 11, 2012 6:02 PM PDT

Alexander Hamilton: A Life
Alexander Hamilton: A Life
by Willard Sterne Randall
Edition: Hardcover
87 used & new from $3.56

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Original American Success Story, April 9, 2003
Willard Sterne Randall's biography of Alexander Hamilton joins the recent glut of books covering America's colonial period that have either focused on Hamilton or featured him prominently. Randall's highly readable account of Hamilton's life brings into sharp focus the man who was Thomas Jefferson's ideological counterpoint in the two competeing governing philosopys that emerged from the American Revolution. Ironically, while the aristocratic Jefferson became the champion of the "common man," it was the "commoner" Hamilton who came to favor a strong central government at the expense of individual (and state's) rights.
Hamilton's rise from the illegitimate son of a West Indies merchant to the very heights of power at a time when such avenues were normally reserved for nobility make him America's first great self-made man. Most of the other founding fathers were from either the aristocrat or merchantile classes. Hamilton, whose family's entire modest estate was confiscated at the time of his mother's death when he was a boy, was possessed of the unique ambition of an insecure man who spent his life trying to overcome his humble origins. As Randall demonstrates, Hamilton's close relationship with George Washington, who recognized his junior's incredible organizational and intellectual gifts, was of key importance to the latter's success.
The text of the book is quite sympathetic its subject, perhaps overly so at times. Though Randall does not ignore the less noble aspects of Hamilton's character, he strives whenever possible to show him in the best possible light. Thus Aaron Burr, who actually made his own important contributions to the nation, comes off mostly as a despicable villian. Burr will always be infamous for firing the bullet that ended Hamilton's life, but Hamilton was equally at fault for the feud that ended so tragically.
Oveall, Randall's book is an enjoyable and enlightening work that will most appeal to history buffs.

Weird Tales
Weird Tales
Offered by jerseys4thewin
Price: $34.99
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Golden Collaboration, April 9, 2003
This review is from: Weird Tales (Audio CD)
Rock and Roll "supergroups" rarely live up to the sum of their parts. Usually the egos involved sabotage the seemless musicianship needed to make good music (for proof, I direct you to most of Emmerson, Lake and Palmer's dreary output). Not so with Golden Smog's superb "Weird Tales." The two heavy hitters among the the Smog's lineup are Wilco's Jeff Tweedy and The Jayhawks' Gary Louris, and it is to them that many of the best moments on the album can be attributed.
Tweedy's contributions include the very Wilco-like "Lost Love" and "I Can't Keep From Talking," as well as the traditional folk number "Please Tell My Brother," that is one of the best things he's ever written. For his part, Louris answers with the very Jayhawks-esque "Until You Came Along" and "Jane" as well as the surprisingly rocking closing track "Jennifer Save Me," that is the CD's best song. Other highlights include onetime Jayhawk Kraig Johnson's "Looking Forward to Seeing You" and the Johnson/Louris collaboration "If I Only Had a Car."
Overall, an excellent collaboration that greatly exceeds its side project expectations.

A New Day at Midnight
A New Day at Midnight
Offered by Supply Chain Direct
Price: $3.96
235 used & new from $0.01

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "New Day" Dawning, April 9, 2003
This review is from: A New Day at Midnight (Audio CD)
Midtempo rock albums often get lost in the shuffle these days amid the chart dominance of rappers, Pearl Jam clones and teenyboppers. Consequently, navigating the middle of the road takes a heap of songwriting talent, which fortunately for David Gray, he has plenty to burn. Gray's voice and his melancholy vocals combine with his surperb musicianship to cast a spell that is simultaneuosly sobering and uplifting.
The ace single, "Be Mine" is one of the best things to appear on rock radio so far in 2003, but it is far from the only hightlight on "New Day at Midnight." The album starts out particularly strong with the haunting "Dead in the Water," followed by the unrequited love of "Caroline." "Long Distance Call" and "Freedom" then continue the winning streak. After that things get a little spottier, but other standout tracks include "Real Love," "Knowhere," and death obssessed finale "Meet Me on the Other Side." The production is crisp and clean, while the CD booklet contains a full lyrics sheet.
Overall, a strong mid-tempo album that establishes a somber mood from the start and then rarely wavers.

Rumor And Sigh
Rumor And Sigh
Price: $7.45
130 used & new from $0.34

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thompson's Most Popular Album, April 7, 2003
This review is from: Rumor And Sigh (Audio CD)
Richard Thompson's "Rumor and Sigh," powered by the hit single "I Feel So Good," is the one album in his long career that managed to break through to some kind of mainstream success. And though it does contain a few clunkers, it is still well worth owning. In addition to the hit, the other highlights include the opener "Read About Love," "Mystery Wind," the rollicking "Don't Sit on My Jimmy Shands" and the traditional sounding folk tune "God Loves a Drunk." On the downside is the experiemental mess "Psycho Street" that should have been trimmed from the playlist. Nevertheless, Thompson's engaging style and sharp wit making for a winning combination.
Overall, a commercial breakthrough that, whlie it may not be Richard Thompson's best album, is still engaging.

Shoot Out the Lights
Shoot Out the Lights
Price: $9.99
140 used & new from $2.05

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking, April 7, 2003
This review is from: Shoot Out the Lights (Audio CD)
Even if you didn't know that Richard and Linda Thompson's marriage was dissolving while they were recording "Shoot Out the Lights," you would know that all was not happy in paradise. This is folk music at its most honest and rawly emotional. Richard starts things off by saying to his wife "Don't Renege on Our Love," which sets the tome perfectly. The duet "Walking on a Wire," that follows points things in an even darker direction. By the time "Just the Motion" arrives at track number 4, the lyrics have become as bleak as "Blown by a hundred winds/Knocked down a hundred times/Rescued and carried along/Beaten and half-dead and gone/And its only the pain/That's keeping you sane."
Overall, a brutally honest folk record that is not for the faint of heart.

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