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Reviews Written by
Karl Miller "kemspeaks" RSS Feed (Phoenixville, PA United States)
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Thunderbird
Thunderbird
71 used & new from $0.84

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant stuff from America's greatest jazz singer, April 4, 2006
This review is from: Thunderbird (Audio CD)
This is such a shift in direction...not unexpected, and certainly not unwelcome, but Cassandra has gone to a different place with "Thunderbird". And its an experience that should be relished by any fan of hers.

The first thing you notice is the predominance of keyboards. Cassandra's work of late has been string based, and it is so welcome to hear that gorgeous voice singing with piano again.

Second, working with T-Bone Burnett has definitely sparked something. Cassandra's self-produced work (Belly Of The sun, in particular) while great, seemed to sometimes suffer from a lack of musical direction and discipline. That's not the case here.

You will fall in love immediately with "Going To Mexico" which is as funky as Cassandra has sounded since "Blue Lights Til Dawn". My personal favorite is a remake of the classic "Red River Valley", which she serves as a duet with Colin Linden.

As always, Cassandra works with some of the finest musicians around...Keb' Mo, Mike Elizando, Jim Keltner and Burnett himself are among those whose contributions really drive this project. But it's Cassandra's voice, taking possession of anything she sings, that shines from beginning to end.


Foul Lines: A Pro Basketball Novel
Foul Lines: A Pro Basketball Novel
by Jack McCallum
Edition: Paperback
Price: $18.89
83 used & new from $0.01

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Written, Funny and (Ultimately) Far Too True, January 20, 2006
Jon Wertheim (SI's finest talent) and Jack McCallum really nail the drama that is modern day sports. This book is both laugh-out-loud funny, and thought provoking. I kept thinking of Robert Altman's "Nashville" while reading it, as it takes a large arena (professional sports), a varied cast, and a compelling story, and manages to weave something very special. Definitely a must read for any NBA fans, but also highly recomended to anyone who enjoys a good tale of well defined characters making their way through extreme (though all-too-true) situations.


Alicia Keys - Mtv Unplugged
Alicia Keys - Mtv Unplugged
Offered by cdgiveaways
Price: $18.93
98 used & new from $0.01

15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bravo Alicia!, October 11, 2005
There's nothing like a soul singer who plays the piano, and like Aretha and Roberta before her, Alicia Keys knows how to take possession of keyboards and work her voice around her playing. This disc, while not "Unplugged" in the technical sense, gives Alicia a chance to shine, and her playing and singing are impeccable.

All the hits are here ("Falling" still sounds great, and "You Don't Know My Name" beats the original in this production), along with some clever covers - her version of "Every Little Bit Hurts" is right up there with Brenda Holloway's original, and while some Stones purists might balk, I really enjoyed the version of "Wild Horses" on this project. And the closing number "Welcome To Jamrock", a Damian Marley song that features he and Keys, along with Common and Mos Def is a perfect wrap for this show.

Truly great stuff, from a performer who is maturing into a true artist.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 4, 2008 6:45 AM PST


Catching Tales
Catching Tales
Price: $14.95
39 used & new from $0.86

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not "Twentysomething", October 11, 2005
This review is from: Catching Tales (Audio CD)
"Catching Tales", Jamie's follow up to the refreshing "Twentysomething" is hard to criticize, because it still ranks miles ahead of the new-wave jazz movement of the last few years. The piano playing remains exuberant, and the vocal stylings are both poignant and fun, but Jamie doesn't take things a step further as many had hoped he would.

There's no cover tunes here that demand attention (such as the brilliant take on Radiohead's "High and Dry"), and the originals sound derivative of many singing pianists (Elton, Billy Joel...). Again, its not that the material isn't good, because it almost always is (and even reaches great on "London Skies", the best song on the disc).

Still, this is an artist that you want to love, and play over and over. His leather persona, his gleeful singing, and his "I can do anything with my piano" approach to playing are all over this record, but they don't come together quite as well as they did on "Twentysomething".


Winter's Tale
Winter's Tale
by Robert Sabuda
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.40
136 used & new from $0.01

101 of 102 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Increidble!!!!!!!!1, October 6, 2005
This review is from: Winter's Tale (Hardcover)
The creativity that went into this work is undeniable...Sabuda's illustration and pop-ups are not only intricate, but dazzling. A perfect gift-giving book as we approach the holiday season.

This work, inspired by Sabuda's journeys through the snowy fields of Michigan as a child is awe-inspiring, and a delight for adults as well as children. Each turn of the page will dazzle you, but the highlight is a surprise pull that comes at the end of the book, and is truly a "how did he do that" moment. Beautiful nature scenes, incredible snowscapes, and simple yet elegant text.

This is worth buying two of...one to immediately enjoy, and one to tuck away as a gift to a future generation. AWESOME stuff.


Your Best Life Now Journal: A Guide to Reaching Your Full Potential
Your Best Life Now Journal: A Guide to Reaching Your Full Potential
by Joel Osteen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $8.99
471 used & new from $0.01

52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Practical Guide to Keeping on the Path, April 12, 2005
I am a huge fan of "Your Best Life Now", and find Joel Osteen's words and vision to be clear, practical and definitely true to the Spirit. But with all books of this nature, its tough to develop a personal action plan from sections of the book.

This guidebook breaks down, in a concise weekly format, the 7 steps Pastor Osteen reccomends to reach your best life. Simple to follow, easy to read, and includes great words of inspiration.

If you want to go from merely reading to action, this inexpensive, yet very insightful tool is a great investment.


King of Cons: Exposing the Dirty, Rotten Secrets of the Washington Elite and Hollywood Celebrities
King of Cons: Exposing the Dirty, Rotten Secrets of the Washington Elite and Hollywood Celebrities
by Aaron Tonken
Edition: Hardcover
125 used & new from $0.01

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dishy, Dirty..and great fun, December 20, 2004
Its always fun to read a beach book in December. Tonken's "King of Cons" is loaded with name-dropping, name-calling and page after page of dirty secrets of top political and entertainment personalities.

Under the guise of charity, Tonken made (and blew) millions setting up fundraisers and arranging for celebrity appearances at events. But, despite his wheeling-dealing, you can;t despise the guy because he is playing with and catering to some of the biggest names...Clinton (Bill and Hill), Cher, J-Lo,... and the "Stars" come off as vilier as Tonken.

Great fun, and a good gift for anyone who likes to read up on the side of Hollywood and Washington that isn't spin or publicist-created.


ClassiKhan
ClassiKhan
49 used & new from $0.10

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All Classics...All Chaka, October 5, 2004
This review is from: ClassiKhan (Audio CD)
Recipe for an incredibly sensual, joyous musical journey. Take the greatest living soul singer of our day, add a full symphony orchestra, along with instrumental contributions by Joe Sample and Sheila E., among others, and then turn the whole collective loose on some pop and jazz standards of our day. The result is perfect.

Go right to "To Sir With Love" - its a song Chaka has always loved, and the arrangements will make you forget how classic Lulu's original was. Chaka rips this song up, tossing in some trademark wails and sounding better than she has in ages. Then check out the Bond doubleheader, "Diamonds Are Forever" and "Goldfinger". Again, CK takes these tunes hostage. Recording with the strings of the London Symphony adds just the right touch, and makes you think that Clare Fisher (CK's string arranger for years) would be really proud.

"Hey Big Spender" is less lively, but more intimate than any version I ever heard before, and "Crazy" picks up the beat a degree or two. The only song that is less than perfect on this disc is the cover of Peggy Lee's "Is That All There Is" - Chaka has far too much emotion in her voice to ever capture the disaffected nature of the original.

There is even a CK original to close the disc - and "I Beleive" is right up there with other classic Khan jams.

The entire track listing, which isn't yet posted here at Amazon, is:

1. Hey Big Spender

2. Hazel's Hips

3. The Best Is Yet to Come

4. Crazy

5. I'm in the Mood for Love

6. Is That All There Is

7. Stormy Weather

8. Round Midnight

9. Teach Me Tonight

10. To Sir With Love

11. Diamonds Are Forever

12. Goldfinger

13. I Believe


Cold Mountain
Cold Mountain
Offered by Speedy CD
Price: $29.00
59 used & new from $0.74

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding!, December 16, 2003
This review is from: Cold Mountain (Audio CD)
If the soundtrack to "Cold Mountain" is an indication of what's to come in this highly anticipated movie, there is a huge winner in store for everyone. Part mountain music, part piano based, part gospel, the music on this soundtrack flows wonderfully, and can stand by itself as a listening pleasure.
Four key acts contribute to this project, and representing the biggest suprise, Jack White leaves behind his White Stripes mate and shows extreme talent in a more rootsier setting. His two original tracks, "Never Far Away" and "Christmas Time Will Soon Be Over" are gems, and his cover of Howlin' Wolf's "Sittin On Top Of The World" is an outstanding blues performance, and shows that there is a lot more to White than his affection for primary colors and his 3 minute rockers.
Alison Krause's two contributions, which include a new Elvis Costello number, are both gorgeous - after her performance on the "Oh Brother..." soundtrack last year, and this contribution, its clear that this girl's voice was made for the movies. Krause continues to rack up impressive performances on outside projects (don't miss her contribution to this year's Dolly Parton tribute), and has righteously earned the title of top true country singer in America today.
The Sacred Harp Singers, a group of vocalists I had never heard before, will blow away your ears with a style known as "shaped note" singing. Don't miss the spiritual "I'm Going Home", and you will hear vocals like you have never heard before.Also contributing a number of pieces to the soundtrack is the pianist Gabriel Yared - his style of soft, sweeping play is perfectly suited to the overall sound of this project.
This disc is enjoyable from beginnning to end, offering songs that quietly seep into your conciousness and subtly demand your attention. I was amazed by Jack White's contributions, completely surprised by the Sacred Harp Singers, and reminded how much I love Alison Krause's voice


Tasty
Tasty
Offered by creativemusicsf
Price: $9.49
116 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Phew..., December 9, 2003
This review is from: Tasty (Audio CD)
In a bid for the "hottest" record of the year, Kelis recovers from the misfire that was "Wanderland", and stakes out a unique spot in soul music with the turn-on project "Tasty". She seems to be aiming at becoming the Millie Jackson of the 2000s.
Starting the project with an "intro" that will leave you saying "Did she really say that"?, Kelis launches a project that is all over the music world - jazz riffs follow clear rock guitar work, soul blends with hip hop, and the music remains challenging from beginning to end. Kelis may not hit her mark with every song, but it is clear that she doesn't want to be confined (except, perhaps, on some of her lyrics).
By now, everyone has heard "Milkshake", which is clever, seductive and fun - and has all the boys lined up in the yard.
For some great funk, listen to Kelis's duet with Nas on "In Public", a rap meets funk tribute to outdoor shenanigans. Kelis also gets help from Andre3000 from Outkast on the uptempo "Millionaire", and Pharell joins in on the best song on the disc, "Protect MY Heart".
Kelis still has that intense "honey meets the streets" voice, and with some slightly stronger material, could produce an entire disc that rivals some of the best soul music in the market today. Unfortunately, nothing here is quite as strong as "Caught Out There" from her debut album. Still, this is a solid project, and the attention being garnered by "Milkshake" should drive some serious attention to Kelis's music.


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