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Cooley High
Cooley High
DVD ~ Glynn Turman
Offered by Brand New Rarities
Price: $31.97
30 used & new from $11.74

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sentimental Favorite; One of my all-time favorites, September 4, 2003
This review is from: Cooley High (DVD)
Never has a movie made me laugh so hard, as well as providing me with feelings of nostalgia and heartwarming sentiment. COOLEY HIGH (1975) features laugh-out-loud moments by the dozen, as well as containing many moments of reflective, poignant beauty.
The story here takes place in Chicago, 1964, and revolves around a poet named Preach (played by Glynn Turman), basketball player Cochise (played by Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs), their other buddies, and what goes on in the day-to-day lives of these teens in urban life. We witness the boys frequently cutting class, stealing food, hopping buses and trains, chasing after girls, shooting dice, getting into fights, and all other sorts of typical teen shenanigans. The aforementioned outline may sound a bit redundant for a film (or maybe it could be due to the poor description I've given), but the aforementioned aspects are integrated into a unified whole, and in a compelling way. So, in the end, things work very nicely. If there's one fault I can think of (though it doesn't bother me, but may bother others), is that the storyline moves a bit fast, and many may wish that some of the scenes (or certain aspects of the film) would have been fleshed out more.
Amidst all of the wildness, Preach meets a lovely girl named Brenda (played by Cynthia Davis), and develops a relationship with her. This is one of the few aspects of the film to soften up what otherwise may have been just a brash comedy.
While Preach, Cochise and the boys all took lighthearted pleasure in lying, cheating and stealing -- it all seemed to catch up with them in the end, as a result of one wild ride in a stolen car. And later, a simple misunderstanding leads up to the tragic finale.
Before I close this review, I'm going to list a few of my favorite funny scenes:
(1). Preach and gang visit the zoo after cutting class. One of the guys decides to defend - and get friendly with - a Gorilla, after the rest of the gang were teasing it. What happens next is pretty foul, so I won't mention it here, but let's just say it had me laughing like a maniac.
(2). Broke and unable to afford money for the boys to see a movie, Preach and Cochise decide to pretend to be undercover policemen, and hassle two female prostitutes - making them believe they're going to be arrested. The ladies beg to be let off the hook, but Cochise decides to take a bribe - for money, of course.
COOLEY HIGH is a fantastic film. It could provide many with dozens of belly-laughs, as well as a tear or two. It's a beautiful portrait of life (the ups and downs of it), love and friendship. Viewers in their middle ages will find this film to bring back fond memories of their youth. It can also make some viewers come to the realization that certain qualities in this film are sorely lacking in the vast majority of today's cinema. Features actor Garret Morris, and excellent backing music by classic R&B artists like The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, The Four Tops, Diana Ross & The Supremes and countless others.


News of the World
News of the World
Price: $10.99
60 used & new from $1.90

75 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Queen Rocks You!, September 1, 2003
This review is from: News of the World (Audio CD)
Come 1977, the rock music world took some drastic turns. We witnessed the glory days of progressive rock, which started around the late 60s, and the creativity exhibited in that period seemed to only blossom and intensify up until the mid-70s. Ambitions were the order of the day, and it seemed like many bands - more or less - were trying to outdo one another in terms of technical prowess, intelligent lyrics, orchestral ambition and/or originality. However, the hyper-ambitious, long-winded, intelligent (some would say pompous) art that was popular shortly before began to wear thin, as many music fans wanted things to return to it's raw, dirty (and simple) roots.

The punks seem to appear on the scene at the right time to bring rock back to it's dangerous and dirty roots. The Sex Pistols seemed to be the band who led the charge, and guys like Johnny Rotten (frontman of the Pistols) and Joey Ramone (The Ramones) have verbally attacked Yes, Pink Floyd, Queen, and several others of the art-rock ilk for their long-winded arrangements, grand ambitions and fantasy/cosmic/literary material. (One of the members of the Sex Pistols wore a t-shirt that read the words, "I hate Pink Floyd," while another member reportedly had a brief bit of words with Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, as a few reviews below state.)

1977 also saw genres like disco, and what many call "corporate" rock, running wild. While bands like Yes and Pink Floyd continued to release "long-winded" material, Queen took an entirely different approach. Making art-rock albums since their inception, their creativity culminated with the ambitious, diverse and operatic A NIGHT AT THE OPERA (1975), and it's stripped-down, but no less ambitious companion A DAY AT THE RACES (1976). So, on NEWS OF THE WORLD, Queen wisely chose to cut down on the sophisticated operatic arrangements, and focus their attention on a more straightforward, harder-edged album -- with attitude. They basically dropped the "art" rock, and made more "hard" rock this time out. Complex arrangements are still present, but are so subtle, some may not recognize them.

But Queen's well-known diversity still remains intact. You get Latin-infused, elegant numbers like "Who Needs You," bluesy workouts like Brian May's "Sleeping On the Sidewalk," in which he also performs the lead vocal, sophisticated piano-driven pop numbers like "All Dead, All Dead," a song written for Brian May's deceased cat I believe, and an elegant late-night jazz workout on Freddie Mercury's "My Melancholy Blues." The versatility of this band was simply awe-inspiring, and possibly the envy of many.

Now that all of that's out of the way, Queen ROCKS with the rest of the tracks. Everyone knows "We Will Rock You" and "We Are The Champions." The latter exhibits brilliant arrangements - not to mention the apparent 12/8 time (7+5?) - which may be obfuscated for it's overplaying time on the radio. "Sheer Heart Attack" (not to be confused with the album of the same name) is just a lethal super-heavy monster. A fast-paced, supercharged heavy-hitter which may be able to induce a heart attack if played too loudly. There may also be a biting jab made toward the punks in one of the lyrics ("I feel so in-ar, in-ar, in-ar...ticulate.") Written by drummer Roger Taylor, he shares the vocal with Freddie Mercury, as well as contributing bass and rhythm guitar parts, which give the track it's extra heaviness. The prog rock epic of the album, however, is "It's Late," a love tale written by Brian May, and written in three parts (or scenes), and features an explosive John Bonhamesque drum solo at the end. I'll be the first to mention that the comparisons some people (and critics) make between Queen and Led Zeppelin are atrociously ridiculous, inaccurate and shallow (Queen sounded like nobody but themselves to me), but this part of the song is the closest Queen ever got to resembling Zeppelin.

With this album, Queen would abandon their unique brand of art rock for good. Is it ironic that the cover art of this album shows a gigantic robot killing the members of Queen? Was it a symbol that the operatic, original "queen" was no more? Or, was it purely coincidental? They would not make music resembling their 70s material for years to come (even if the small resurgences were slightly transformed.) NEWS OF THE WORLD is 70s Queen at their most straightforward and heavy. Highly recommended.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 1, 2009 10:32 AM PST


Grand Illusion
Grand Illusion
Price: $5.99
158 used & new from $0.28

37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's Enjoyable Music; No Matter What, August 30, 2003
This review is from: Grand Illusion (Audio CD)
There are a number of artists who seem to suffer from the unfortunate fate of their creativity not aging well. Styx is such a band. Often ridiculed for their slickly produced *corporate* rock, as well as supposedly coming off as an anemic version of some notable British progressive rock artists, the guys had to feel some tremendous hurt from the constant harsh criticism - which still exists more than 25 years after their major success THE GRAND ILLUSION was released. To many, most of Styx's material is simply no more than a dated joke.
Under my assumption, the responses to Styx's material seem to fall into two major categories: (1). Music fans listen to it, and dismiss it as a cheesy, watered-down, pretentious mess. They would want nothing more to do with this. (2). Music fans listen to this, and love the catchy melodies, but will try their hardest to refrain from admitting so, for fear of losing their *hipness* credibility.
But other than everything listed in the above paragraph, the biggest fans of this music are the ones who grew up with it when it was released. The adults around that time knew the negative reputation bands like Styx were receiving, but some youngsters around that time period were more than likely oblivious to the artist-bashing, and nevertheless, enjoyed the music just fine. I consider the latter to be the most blessed, as the saying goes, "what they don't know won't hurt them."
But, all historical insights aside, I've always enjoyed Styx's music, and I was never bothered by the slick productions of their music, or anything else for that matter. I found it to be highly enjoyable, quality music created by talented musicians, and still do.
THE GRAND ILLUSION exhibits accessible hard rock with progressive rock flourishes integrated into the mix to create a highly compelling brand of rock. There seems to be a theme that runs throughout the entire album - a theme that states no matter how successful, or unsuccessful one is, no matter what kind of career one has, no matter what lifestyle one lives, no matter what one does or does not have, it doesn't make you any better, or worse than any other individual. Believing so is simply a "grand illusion."
I've seen and heard for the longest time Styx being knocked as a band trying *too* hard to be like Queen. I honestly never understood that, as Styx never seemed to exhibit enough *Britishness* in their sound to even come close to imitating Queen (even if those supposed accusations were true.) However, small traces of British progressive rock bands (e.g. Yes, Genesis, Jethro Tull) do come to mind when I listen to this music. Queen comes to mind as well, but - like the aforementioned Brtish progressive bands - in small traces. On the whole, I find Styx's music to be - more or less - unique.
The bombastic, anthemic, theatrical opening of the title track (which I absolutely love) brings resemblance to Genesis and Jethro Tull, and is possibly the closest thing to resemble *Britishness* on this disc. Meanwhile, the megalomaniacalesque, grand vocals on some of the verses resemble Yes and Queen to an extent. But overall, Styx's music seems so Americanized, it refrains from sounding like a largely derivative thing. Thematically speaking, this track features lead singer Dennis DeYoung stating the negative aspects that come with the package of being a "rock star." The lyrics seem to state that the lifestyle many ordinary blokes dream of living is not all it's cracked up to be. This is exemplified in the aforementioned title track the most. However, fame - the pros and (mostly) cons of it -- plays a big part of the thematic element that runs throughout the disc.
"Angry Young Man" seems like a message to the punks of the day. When reading these lyrics, it's easy to see that Styx were trying to send out a positive, optimistic message. Cynics (especially of this generation) will read these lyrics and scoff until they run out of breath. I'll be the first to admit that they do seem a little dated in their naivete, but the natural creativity, and the sincere, heartfelt optimism is hard not to be moved by, and, let's be honest - it's nice to be able to take a break from cynicism, as it gets old really fast.
"Superstars" is one of my favorite tracks. A mid-tempo rocker with some lovely, touching vocal harmonies which happen to share more in common with R&B/Soul than they do with rock. "Come Sail Away" has aged well to me. The haunting and achingly moving chorus has not left me one bit, and those lyrics I find to be absolutely poetic and beautiful. An all-around beautiful and moving track. Guitarist James Young writes and sings lead vocal for the sneering "Miss America," the edgiest, crunchiest tune on the album. James' snarling vocal burns with a white-hot passion ( and cracks me up hysterically.) A track which may please many cynics. Who would have thought? "Castle Walls" is the most *proggish* on the album - a track which starts off fairly low-key and melodic, before showcasing some lovely vocal harmonies. Then we are treated to a brief instrumental section of over-the-top theatrics which recall the many progressive rock giants of the early and mid-70s.
I love this music, regardless of the negative criticism surrounding it. Just try to enjoy the music for what it is - great music made by talented musicians - and forget about the *hipness* or lack of it. Enjoy.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 6, 2010 11:09 PM PDT


City
City
18 used & new from $4.86

22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hey There, Metal Brethren!, August 28, 2003
This review is from: City (Audio CD)
You've probably read many of the comments here - and in other places - regarding the brutal and extreme nature of the music found within this album. After hearing this album, it's hard to disagree.
So, what does the music sound like?
Try to imagine Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) and Al Jourgensen (Ministry) sharing their ideas during a studio session, while overindulging on ridiculously excessive amounts of fructose, caffeine, speed and any other chemical/stimulant you can think of. While they're at it, they decide to invite some musician friends over, who provide the speed and precision of thrash metal.
That's just another way of saying that mastermind Devin Townsend and company mix the outrageously noisy elements of industrial metal, with the thrashing guitars and pounding double bass drums of thrash metal -- while the "outrageously noisy" factor is pushed to the EXTREME. The music is loud and ultra-heavy, but probably not in the most organic sense, but in the sense (production-wise) that layers and layers of sound are piled together to create a dense, smothering, oceanic wall-of-sound. The occasional melody can be found buried underneath it's brittle surface.
While many metalheads love the excessive sonic violence of this disc, they should probably feel a little bit ashamed of themselves after they find out that this album - while loud, fierce and "heavy" - is pretty much spitting in the face of metal itself, while simultaneously laughing at it's many protagonists and followers (you've all been had!) Don't accept the noisy and ultra-aggressive factors of this disc at face value: these aspects - the blast beats, the (few) death growls, the incessant use of profanity, the aggression, and the apparent vitriolic nature -- are all metal clichés used to expose the genre for the silliness it is. I believe Devin Townsend is not above poking fun at himself as well, as he immerses himself in all of these metal trademarks. However, the album is so engrossingly fun, entertaining, silly, and yes, LOUD, these elements would seem to be obscured, unless serious attention is drawn toward finding this out.
The musicians are clearly talented, and at the end of the day, these elements will seem to be the most important to many listeners. Devin Townsend possesses an incredible vocal range, as well as being versatile. He can scream, while simultaneously being melodic, and drummer Gene Hoglan (Death) fires away on his drum kit with speed, power and precision. Witness the manic, slaughtering noise rockers of "All Hail The New Flesh," "Oh My F@#^%&g God" (the former being an uncharacteristically melodic noise-metal track), "Home Nucleonics" and "Underneath The Waves." I could care less for "Room 429," as it seems a bit out of context with the rest of the album.
Loud, suffocating, intense, fun, hilarious, ironic/sarcastic and clever. Fans of supercharged noise and aggression will eat this up. If this turns you off, well - you've been warned!


Emperor Tomato Ketchup
Emperor Tomato Ketchup
Offered by MEGA Media
Price: $18.12
79 used & new from $0.19

27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Odd-Timed Rhythms + Enigmatic Blend of Retro and Futurist, August 10, 2003
This review is from: Emperor Tomato Ketchup (Audio CD)
My oh my - how does one even begin to describe music like this? Complex yet accessible. Impenetrable yet engrossing. Avant-garde yet melodic and engaging. Stereolab are known for taking elements of the past and transmutating them into something fresh, futuristic and utterly indescribable. For starters, imagine hearing the Avant-funk of Can, the eerie keyboard textures of The Doors (and/or other 60s psychedelic bands), the baffling odd-timed rhythms of Gabriel-era Genesis, angelic and precious vocal harmonies that can smack of The Beach Boys, and while we're at it, how about we add in sprinkles of Chamber music, Dream pop, 20th Century classical, Jazz, Alternative rock, Baroque pop and primal amounts of synthesizer ambience floating around. And last but not least - a good dosage of catchy pop music. Throw all of these in one gigantic blender, and the result would come out to about only a teaspoonful of the enigmatic sonic beverage/shake known as Stereolab.

Just take a glance at some of the other reviews below, and you'll find countless other artists that this band seems to remind listeners of; it's a mysterious cornucopia that sounds so familiar, yet so fresh and new at the same time. The description in the above paragraph doesn't even seem to reach the half of it. This is music so vast and aurally intangible, sonically speaking, it'll probably take centuries for anyone to come up with a label in exactitude. What'll also get your head spinning is how accessible, infectious and engaging this music is, despite including musical elements that are clearly for the acquired, not to mention that you can find some ethereal, sensual female voices singing lyrics in French and English. It's a strange, enigmatic form of pop music that somehow works. Futuristic pop? Maybe.

This music is probably best listened to on headphones, or on a good stereo system, as there are layers and layers of sonic and textural complexity, which may be missed otherwise. "Metronomic Underground" and "Cybele's Reverie" are perfect examples of this. The former featuring a steady, repetitive (or more appropriate - ambient) groove reminiscent of Can (and you could swear you hear what sounds akin to Damo Suzuki's voice in the background on the chorus), while multiple synthesizer textures continually build and overlap one another until reaching an intense climax, while the latter features some understated synthesized vocal-bleeps fronted by tasty, sugar-coated female vocals sung in French. Hard to resist those sweet bilingual vocals created by Laetitia Sadier and Mary Hansen. "Percolater" grooves in what seems like a 5/8 rhythm, but you'll be wondering how it could be so funky, tasty and catchy, and "Les Yper-Sound" is so embarrassingly addicting (in a good way), you may just find yourself singing along to what seem like cheesy, child-like lyrics, simply because the voice(s) uttering these words are so sensual and seductive.

Elsewhere, "The Noise of Carpet" would nearly have you convinced that you were listening to Sonic Youth with those edgy guitars, while "Tomorrow Is Already Here" features an apparent 5/4 rhythm, which is catchy and infectious, and those vocals are oh-so sweet and innocent -- so much so that it hurts to listen to them at times. The lyrics are somewhat political in nature. The title track is just downright sexy, as it features the differing, but inexplicably harmonious union of Mary and Laetitia's vocals fronting a highly addictive and danceable groove. Skipping along, "Monstre Sacre" changes up the pace as a slow, Floydesque track, featuring atmospheric, sensual orchestrated sweeps, and closing out the album is "Anonymous Collective," a track that seems appropriate to play around Christmas time.

Sounds of the past, present and future indeed. Stereolab's music is just as confusing as it is accessible, and vice versa. Want to challenge your preconceptions of what pop music is? Do you have a taste for the unusual? Have a taste for painfully infectious, addicting ear candy? Start exploring the music of Stereolab.


The End of All Things to Come
The End of All Things to Come
76 used & new from $0.01

68 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent, Talented Musicians; More To Them Than Image, August 6, 2003
First off, I have to mention that my tastes in music are pretty varied, but my favorite music leans toward the ambitious, grand, whimsical, ethereal, refined/elegant, complex, original, intelligent, powerful, multi-faceted and in many cases, cerebral. Thus, I find one (to a maximum degree) or more of these qualities exemplified in progressive/psychedelic rock (mainly of the 60s and 70s), and classical music, which are my top preferences in music. As far as metal is concerned, I was never a die-hard fan, and still am not to this day, though my strongest interest in it was a decade ago, and has been nearly nonexistent since, as I found it to become tasteless, predictable and unoriginal.

However, on the discovery of some recent bands who seem to be pushing the envelope of metal (e.g. Meshuggah), I'm a bit more hopeful on the progress of "the hard stuff." Meshuggah plays "math-metal," a style which incorporates rhythmically complex features into metal. When I read that Mudvayne were also "mathematical" in their rhythms, I had to check these guys out -- and I am SO glad that I did. These guys have a LARGE amount of versatility and talent - so much so, that I'm not sure my feelings about the whole thing can be accurately expressed in words. The structures are indeed complex and mathematical, but the band does not shy away from melody and catchy heavy rock. It's a nice balance between accessibility and complexity (not unlike Permanent Waves-era Rush.) The lyrics are intelligent, which are at times serious, thought-provoking, and at other times humorous and/or sarcastic. There's even some metaphysical topics - like the lyrics to each song matching up with the psychological profile for each of the 12 astrological signs of the zodiac (if you're familiar with astrology, you'll EASILY be able to spot the correlations between each song and respective, highlighted sign.)

These guys are under the "nu-metal" label, but that's just a weak cop out from going into deeper analysis of the band's attributes, which may be difficult to do. Unfortunately, that's pretty much how the majority of "professional" critics are towards artists' contributions -- looking for the easiest comparative link, and failing to give artists' works fair, in-depth reviews (for lack of intelligence and laziness), and it's been that way for years and years. What's more sad is that many listeners follow these critical techniques, and rarely form solid opinions of their own.

Having said all of that, I'm not sure who to compare this band to, as they don't outright sound like anyone to me. The closest thing I can compare them to is Tool, but these guys seem a bit more loose, and groove-oriented in approach, but no less intelligent and intricate. And as far as the "nu-metal" label, it certainly does have that modern alternative metal sound, which unfortunately seems to overshadow the deeper (and more important) elements of their music, as well as scaring off potential fans. However, on the whole, I find it grossly unfair and inaccurate, as these guys possess more complexity, depth, versatility and originality than most artists found in popular music today. I call them something like progressive alternative metal (if it's all that important.)

Look deeper - there is MUCH more to Mudvayne than meets the surface. Beyond the campy image, the musicians are incredibly talented - particularly Chud, who is a hyper-versatile vocalist -- almost schizophrenically so. One minute he's doing these goofy growls, and the next, he showcases vocal characteristics of the most sincere balladeer. The rhythm section is tight, and drummer Spug plays some pretty complex rhythms on the kit, but not without displaying tasty grooves here and there. "Silenced" is an excellent way to open up the album, as a fast-paced, blistering rocker, while "Trapped In The Wake of A Dream" showcases some pretty odd rhythms (like 11/8 and 17/8, I think.) "Not Falling" is just excellent, as it balances the heavier moments, with mysteriously melodic vocals and soundscapes - not to mention a few curveballs in rhythm. "A World So Cold" is possibly my favorite track on here. Chud gets to show off his commanding, heartfelt, brooding vocals (which actually recall Greg Lake of ELP -- for me anyway), backed by the melancholy, atmospheric guitar arpeggios, which give way to harder-edged moments. There's also a section (I think the bridge) where Chud does this mesmerizing roadrunner-speed vocal technique, intermingled with growls, which are unbelievable -- a testament to his (and the band's) talent, while "The Patient Mental" seems to exhibit what is known as "revolving polymeter" (Meshuggah makes extensive use of this technique.)

Elsewhere, "Skrying" begins with what sounds like a 11/4 (4+4+3) rhythm, before turning into one of the strangest, most menacing choruses I've ever heard. The title track is probably the fastest on here. The lyrics are quite biting and sinister, but thought-provoking, which take on a nihilistic view of world politics. Even more powerful, they crack me up hysterically (at least in the way Chud delivers his vocal), and the topic is based on something that probably shouldn't be laughed at -- or should it? And "A Key To Nothing" is a melodic, heavy ballad to close out the album, in which Chud showcases his passionate vocal delivery.

Intelligence, melody, complexity, versatility, accessibility -- it's a 10. Mudvayne seem to possess all of the ingredients (and then some) which blend together nicely to create quality music. For those who are purist and label-conscious - try to open your mind, and look past the "nu-metal" aspects of this music. Only then will you be able to spot the genius that's embedded within Mudvayne's music.


Houses Of The Holy
Houses Of The Holy
126 used & new from $1.86

5.0 out of 5 stars The Beginning of Zeppelin's second stage, August 4, 2003
This review is from: Houses Of The Holy (Audio CD)
1973's _Houses of The Holy_ marked the beginning of Zeppelin's second stage in their career. While the first four albums had more or less hints of darkness, and a certain aura of ambiguity (sonically speaking), this one seemed to find the guys in a more confident, cheerful and self-assured mood.
The album is highly diverse, and also shows Zeppelin branching out into other areas that were not explored beforehand, such as funk and reggae. "The Song Remains The Same" gets things started as an elaborate, energetic rocker. Features impressive chord changes, textures and other such theatrics from Jimmy Page, and Robert Plant uses what seems like an intended feminine falsetto, while "The Rain Song" is a slow, melancholic ballad with elegant and authentic orchestration. "Over The Hills And Far Away" really doesn't need much comment, since it's been heard on the radio for decades now, and "The Crunge" is Zeppelin's take on funk. This track gets bashed quite a bit, although I've always loved it. Check out Bonham's funky, addictive 9/8 rhythm on the drum kit.
"Dancing Days" has the aura of someone (or people in general) enjoying a drive on a pleasant summer day full of ongoing festivities. While it's a steady rocker, some of the guitar parts remind me of country music. I could easily see this song arranged in country music-style. "D'yer Maker" (which I believe was originally called Jamaica) is a reggae-rock number, and shows Zeppelin at their artistic best (you just have to love Robert Plant's intuitive vocal improvisations on this one.) "No Quarter" is probably my personal favorite on here, as it's a long, atmospheric number featuring loads of John Paul Jones' keyboard textures. It reminds one of staring at the orange-brown nocturnal sky when experiencing some kind of snowstorm. Comparisons to Pink Floyd are mentioned in other reviews, and those would be valid, even if only on a superficial level. The keyboard textures and atmospherics certainly recall Floyd. Other than all of this, the track is fairly dark, haunting, otherworldly, oceanic and mysterious. Even Robert Plant's vocals sound a bit murky and smothered, which adds to the mysterious flavor of the track. "The Ocean" is dedicated to Led Zeppelin's fans. And the lyric "now I'm singing all my songs to the girl who won my heart/she is only three years old and it's a real fine way to start" was Robert Plant's creative way of saying that the birth of his daughter changed his life -- no pedophilia whatsoever here. The "oceanic" romp-like ending is my favorite part of the song.
Things would never be the same for Zeppelin after the release of this album, as a series of unfortunate events would follow, and hinder the band's future. This was arguably the last album in which Zeppelin were at their most inspired, consistent and self-assured. Absolutely essential.


Nothing
Nothing
Offered by ExpressMedia
Price: $4.47
21 used & new from $1.99

27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hyper-intelligent, hyper-complex metal, August 2, 2003
This review is from: Nothing (Audio CD)
Every now and then, a band comes along the scene that challenges, confuses, and to some extent, outrages many listeners with their controversial artistic output. When I say controversial, I don't necessarily mean offensive, but, to provoke very strong reactions: whether positive or negative. Meshuggah is a band that fits this description perfectly - at least in the metal community. Come to think of it, I may as well mean to outrage, as Meshuggah has seemed to garner some pretty strong reactions from listeners. The negatives would be along the lines of "this band has no talent, and just make noise like a bunch of children who don't know how to play their instruments," and the positives would be something like "these guys are geniuses."

I'll try to shed some light on Meshuggah's music, though many here have already done an excellent job on explaining what these guys are about. Meshuggah are a math-metal band, and what this means is that they make use of many odd time signatures, and use them in mathematical fashion, which will make the rhythms/tempos (or beats) sound really weird or "abnormal." Not only that, most of their music is atonal, or amelodic, which in sonic terms, seemingly eludes typical (and/or pleasant) melodies. This creates two strong possibilites: (1). Musicians will be the main people who will understand and appreciate this music. (2). Listeners who are only accustomed to standard rhythmic and tonal/melodic music will condemn this as pure "noise."

On 1995's _Destroy Erase Improve_, Meshuggah created a nice balance of standard, aggressive metal, intermingled with polymeters and odd-time signatures. That album was probably the most accessible of these. Their follow-up, 1998's _Chaosphere_ was a fast, monstrous, noisy, suffocating, ultra-heavy, ultra-complex mechanical cyber-grinder, with crazed use of polyrhythms and sonic extremities. So, what did the boys decide to do on 2002's _Nothing_?

Well, for starters, they slowed down the tempos considerably since _Chaosphere_, and the production on here seems much cleaner, as each instrument sounds up close and personal, as opposed to the chaotic, distant, machine-like production on the aforementioned disc. As a result, many of the subtleties are easier to detect, such as Tomas Haake's seemingly octopus-limbed, polymetric drumming. Also, there is use of an 8-string guitar, which produces a thick, beastly, darkly regal, searingly muscular tone full of white-hot passion, and seems like it's coming out of hell, but rising out of the ashes like a phoenix. All of this, combined with the odd rhythms, super-intelligent, enlightening lyrics give this album a strangely alluring, exotic, utter and inexplicable sensuality, which makes the thing not much short of a spiritual experience.

Technically speaking, the tempos on here are slower than usual, and the band uses mostly a 16-quarter beat cycle on the majority of these songs, which allow the band to squeeze in more odd, mathematical rhythms. Also, the band makes large use of what a friend of mine terms "revolving polymeter" (or revolving time signatures), which means that the band plays "time signatures within time signatures." It basically means that two (or more) different time signatures can be present at once, but they both have to "end" or "close" at the exact same time, which in the end (and on the surface), would appear as one time signature all by itself. For example, in the song "Spasm," the opening section seems to play two measures of 7/4, and one of 2/4 (e.g. 7+7+2 = 16 quarter notes/beats) -- or it could be four measures of 7/8, and one measure of 4/8 (7+7+7+7+4 = 32 eighths = 16 quarter notes) depending on how it's notated -- before the 4/4 crash cymbal of Tomas Haake appears. And all along, Tomas Haake is playing a steady 4/4 beat on his hi-hat (32 eighth beats, 4/4 crash on 33rd.) The majority of Tomas Haake's cymbals are in, and end in 4/4 for the duration of the album. This is pretty much how the entire album plays out: odd, mathematical rhythms run rampant throughout. This is pretty much what Meshuggah are about, musically speaking. They don't need to prove how many notes they can shred in five seconds, and they don't need to use blast beats to be brutal.

Elsewhere, "Strengah" is an addictive number with those one or two atonal notes blasting out a super-addictive monster crunch, while Haake, once again is using a 32-eighth beat pattern on the hi-hat, and employing mind-boggling things elsewhere. The ending of "Closed Eye Visuals" features vocalist Jens Kidman letting out what possibly may be his most enraged, ferocious, violent and intimidating growl thus far. And, if you want a slice of melody, check out that melancholic, ponderous, reflective and utterly poignant jazz-like guitar melody at the end of "Straws Pulled at Random."

I have basically lost interest in the majority of metal for the last decade or so, as I found it to become banal, unoriginal and stagnant. Now, that I've found Meshuggah (who are my favorite metal band), my outlook is a bit different. It's quite astonishing and exciting to find metal bands that push boundaries, and employ ideas into metal that others won't, or can't touch. Meshuggah's music is deep, hypnotic, esoteric, complex, cerebral, demanding, emotional and strangely transcendent. Not for everyone, but I highly recommend it to adventurous listeners. Also recommended: Tool and Mudvayne.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 7, 2014 4:05 PM PST


Dolores Claiborne
Dolores Claiborne
DVD ~ Kathy Bates
Price: $4.88
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Worthwhile; Intelligent writing and performances., July 27, 2003
This review is from: Dolores Claiborne (DVD)
Delores Claiborne (Kathy Bates) is a long-suffering (but still a strong, feisty) woman who is accused of murdering a woman she worked for in the past, and her estranged daughter, a reporter named Selena (Jennifer Jason Leigh) hears about the news, and as a result, is reunited with her mother to find out the truth. The reunion of the two causes both to reexamine past traumas that possibly should have been faced and expurgated ages ago, and as these painful memories are brought to the surface, things are never quite the same between the two -- especially for Selena, who seemed to have forgotten -- and/or wished she had forgotten certain experiences, which have caused her to become a somewhat closed-off, pill-popping woman who clearly seemed to have been suffering from some underlying psychologial issues.
While Delores is being accused of the current murder of her employer, a detective played by Christopher Plummer takes the case, and doggedly harasses Dolores, as he stubbornly adheres to the everlasting belief that she also murdered her husband in the past.
While based on a Stephen King novel, I'm strongly hesitant to tag this movie a horror flick as many others do in other places. Instead, I call this a mystery/suspense/drama. The dialogue is fairly complex, as many layers are uncovered regarding the psychological natures of Delores, Selena and other characters. As the scenes, dialogue and time progress, more and more things seem to unravel, up until the very end, when two disturbingly primal events are uncovered: one regarding Delores, and the other regarding Selena. From there, the story takes an unpredictable twist (which I will not reveal), but it's quite revelatory in how it all connects.
Kathy Bates shines here as the foul-mouthed, spunky woman who bears the least amount of shame with her personality, and it doesn't seem like much of a stretch for Kathy herself. Jennifer Jason Leigh excellently and convincingly portrays the beautiful, intriguing, yet troubled and vulnerable Selena. The scenes which take place in New England (as to be expected from S. King), maintain an atmospheric presence throughout the movie, as the events of the present feature landscapes shot in a beautifully melancholic, fog-like, autumnal blue shade, while the past events feature landscapes shot in a burnt orange color, which can only be comparable to that of a mid-autumn leaf. Pretty ironic, but it works quite well. Both aspects of this technique add an extra amount of depth and sincerity to the story. Also worth noting are what seem like New England accents, used by Kathy Bates (and selected others), which help to give the characters a homebred authenticity.
A film that possibly deserves more credit than it gets. Excellent story, excellent acting, excellent atmospherics and excellently written, I don't think I can name many (if any) flaws in this film. I highly enjoy this film. Recommended.


Meddle
Meddle
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pre-Dark Side Floyd; Most Refined of These, July 21, 2003
This review is from: Meddle (Audio CD)
I may be in a minority when I say: as good as "Dark Side of The Moon" and the other albums that followed were, it was the material that Floyd made before that major juggernaut of an album which rings the more special to me. I really think that when "Dark Side of The Moon" was made and released, Floyd gained something spectacular with it, particularly in their intelligent, profound lyrical concepts, and they obviously had won a larger following than they ever would have anticipated. However, I also believe that they lost something just as big, if not even bigger in the process. They seemed to lose their whimsical edge, as well as their uncompromising and superfluous ethereality. They just seemed to lose a bit of their natural 'flow' and intensity in their creativity, mostly found in their psychedelic and minimalist experiments, and as a result, I mostly view their creativity & progression on a musical (excluding lyrical) level as something which slipped down into drier areas. There are pros and cons with everything, and anytime you gain something in progress, more than likely something will be lost as a result of that - for better or for worse. But, other than that, I say all of this because I'm a bit worn out of DSOTM and it's other popular successors, and feel that everything from their '67-'72 period deserves a bit more recognition, especially when people (mostly of this generation) say they're Floyd fans, and the sum total of their knowledge of Floyd is no more than DSOTM, "Wish You Were Here" and/or "The Wall."
Which brings us to 1971's _Meddle_, the second to last album before the "big one" was released. This is the pre-DSOTM album which possibly shows Floyd at their most polished and refined in execution and production, and when hearing this album, and coming to that conclusion, you would think this was the very last album released before DSOTM. But, that isn't the case. Also, the refinement, the trimming of minimalist experiments, added with the fact that many of the tracks on here are not extended helps to make this arguably the most accessible album in the pre-DSOTM period. But, this isn't to say that _Meddle_ lacks any kind of surreal, psychedelic atmospheres, as those can clearly be found here as well, but in controlled proportions. "One of These Days" is a definite rocker: sort of the antithesis of the lengthy, drawn-out Floyd we all know. Roger Waters' driving basslines and Rick Wright's calling synth lines are the standouts, which are somewhat overshadowed later on by David Gilmour's screechy guitar lines, while Nick Mason keeps a steady, but no less menacing drum beat. "A Pillow of Winds" is definitely my personal favorite track on the album. An ethereal, wispy, breezy, mellow track, David Gilmour's calm, soothing voice, the gentle acoustic arpeggios, and other such subtleties help to create a dreamy, tranquil atmosphere of the mind and soul, which can be comparable to experiencing a gentle breeze on a summer morning, while calmly reflecting on pleasant memories or wishes.
Elsewhere, "Fearless" is a mid-tempo track featuring David Gilmour playing an ascending diatonic lick based in G major, which gives a slight symphonic atmosphere to an otherwise summery track, and "San Tropez" is a short, playful, elegant jazz-tinged track, with Roger Waters on lead vocals. It's quite interesting hearing Roger in a more playful mood, as opposed to the morbid tendencies found in the majority of his later writings. "Seamus" features dogs barking in the background to an otherwise bluesy track, and "Echoes" is the 23-minute head-trip of the album. Ethereal, melodic and airy in the beginning, until that long, creepy "echo" section comes in. Can't really explain it all - needs to be heard. The vocal rhythmics and rhythms in general call to mind "Breathe" and the ending of "Time" from the following album after the following album, DSOTM.
If you're reading this, and are a Pink Floyd fan, and you haven't heard anything before _Dark Side of The Moon_, please do yourself a favor and start exploring that era of the band. You'd really be doing yourself an injustice if you don't. _Meddle_ would be a great place to start.


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