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3 used & new from $22.79

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hypnotic Fusion: Live, December 19, 2003
This review is from: Live (Audio CD)
French band Magma - for better or worse - have quite a reputation in the progressive rock world. Lead by composer, drummer and lyricist/conceptualist Christian Vander, he sought to tell a story over several albums, dealing with people (known as Kobaians), and their respective behaviours and going-on's of their planet, Kobaia, as well as them traveling to Earth, and such. I don't know the story in full, so I'm tempted to leave the conceptual ideas alone for the rest of this review. But, perhaps, the most noticeable figure to many in Magma's output is the made-up language referred to as Kobaian. As far as I know, there are no translations available to decipher what any of the lyrics mean, but perhaps, it was never intended for us to decipher the meanings of the lyrics.

But, more importantly, Magma's sound is very distinctive, and hard to categorize. I simply refer to them as avant-progressive rock -- quite a lazy description on my part, but pretty accurate. Let me elaborate -- their music is usually operatically-inclined, but, saying Magma are *operatic* is almost like saying a green bean casserole is made up of only green beans. They've also specialized in blending rock with 20th Century classical attributes, fusion, funk, jazz, R&B and others, but once again, in a very distinctive fashion. It must be mentioned that they pioneered a genre which is referred to as *Zeuhl* -- a genre which is possibly an amalgamation of everything listed above, or simply, music that is Magmaesque in scope.

On this outing, entitled LIVE-KOHNTARK (though in other places, it's called "Live" or "Live/Hhai") (1975), Magma performs a few of their classics from earlier albums, as well as a few tracks that are not found on their studio albums. Studio albums like MEKANIK DESTRUKTIW KOMMANDOH (1973) and KOHNTARKOSZ (1974) are, more or less, dense and fully-textured in production -- whether it be the massive choral voices, or oceanic synthesizers highlighting this. However, on this live performance, the lavishness in production is nowhere to be found, and replaced, with a leaner, stripped-down, in-your-face exhibition. The massive Wagnerian choral mannerisms have evaporated, if not disappeared altogether, into the background of the fiery playing, but vocal harmonies are still present. Instead, we get Magma's own distinctive fusion performances in the vein of early Mahavishnu Orchestra, or '73-era King Crimson -- violin virtuosism included. But, Magma does not sound *like* Mahavishnu or King Crimson -- much stranger, to say the least.

These performances are full of fire, intensity and vigor -- I'm even inclined to say that these live versions of the studio cuts sound much livelier than the studio versions. The album starts off with a phenomenal version of the title track to KOHNTARKOSZ. Hypnotic repetitive rhythms, slithering vocal chants, and other things are in place. In the second half, the band lets loose with this intense jam, which replaces most of the vocals found on the studio version. It all ends with an R&B/funk-rock jam with improvised vocal chants, so high in authenticity, conviction, energy and taste, George Clinton and Earth, Wind & Fire would be impressed. The next track called "Emehnteht-Rë" (the title, in which bears part of the concept of the previous track) is a near-minimalist study in repetition. The majestic opening reminds me of some ancient people living in a tomb, gathering in line, walking slowly to a casket with a corpse, and mourning their loss, or something of the like. The repetitive bassline which follows makes me think that the person who wrote the score for 1990's fantasy/action film TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES was a Magma fan - the bassline heard in the opening section of the film sounds eerily similar to this. This repetitive bassline runs throughout the remainder of the track. Elsewhere, there's a stripped down version of MEKANIK DESTRUKTIW KOMMANDOH, which is quite excellent as well, and sits nicely with the studio version.

There are more tracks on here that I didn't mention, simply because the 1,000 word limit would be surpassed. This album is considered Magma's most accessible, but it's not necessarily the most accessible music in general. More importantly, if you have interest in this outing, *this* 2CD version is the one to get, as two tracks on here are not featured on the single-disc version.

Summer Breeze
Summer Breeze
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Soothing, Uplifting, Beautiful, December 6, 2003
This review is from: Summer Breeze (Audio CD)
It's quite a mystery to me why only two albums from Seals & Crofts are available on CD (at the current time of this writing): 1972's SUMMER BREEZE, and a greatest hits disc. They have made some wonderful music, and it's quite criminal that their other albums, are either out of print, or on different, hard-to-find formats, like vinyl or 8-track.
Seals & Crofts were a duo who specialized in a mix of soft rock and wistful folk. Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Jim Seals, who is the brother of Dan Seals of England Dan & John Ford Coley (remember them, with their lovely hit "I'd Really Love To See You Tonight"), and mandolinist/backing vocalist Dash Crofts, the duo, along with contemporaries such as James Taylor, America, Cat Stevens and others, created wonderful, soothing folk-rock to heal, soothe, and uplift during times of hardship.
SUMMER BREEZE (1972) is a beautiful collection of folk-rock tunes, with reflective, emotional and poignant lyrics - some of which feature spiritual overtones. In fact, a few of the tracks on here adopt small lyrical passages from the Baha'i scriptures. Not only that, the musicianship, arrangements -- it's all of high caliber, which seem to go unnoticed. Jim Seals also possessed one of the most beautiful voices I've ever heard. In fact, I always thought he had a voice of an Englishman -- he sounds very British.
"Hummingbird" features a gentle, wispy opening with Jim Seals' lovely voice, which reminds one of a mix between Cat Stevens and Phil Collins, backed by some lovely arpeggiated acoustic passages to create a floating aura, as if one were being 'lifted up' as the Baha'i lyric suggests. The rest of the song is a straightforward, mellow, nicely orchestrated track. Lovely vocal harmonies as well. "Funny Little Man" will remind some of Cat Stevens. Features impressive mandolin playing from Crofts. The title track is a mainstay for good reason. Highly enjoyable - even after more than thirty years after it's release.
"East of Ginger Trees" is a lovely, wispy, and breathtaking number, which nicely blends folk with Indian flavors. Features the tabla, tamboura and other instruments, which appear on the 7/4-ish chorus. The vocal harmonies are particularly touching and nostalgic. "Fiddle In The Sky," like the title implies, is a country-folk/rock song with lovely use of the fiddle. Unbelievably beautiful, and too good for words.
The rest of the album is splendid as well, but not necessarily easy to put into words, just like the aforementioned tracks weren't easy to describe as well.
If you're a fan of Cat Stevens, folk-rock, with touches of other elements, and the like, you should enjoy Seals & Crofts tremendously.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 21, 2012 2:05 PM PDT

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55 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely, Charming 70s Classic, December 6, 2003
This review is from: Eldorado (Audio CD)
Electric Light Orchestra were quite a phenomenon in, and throughout the 70s with their catchy, infectious harmonies blended with lush orchestral arrangements. However, not unlike their contemporaries, they were also the source of infamy for the many ambitions that typified that respective decade: mythological/fantasty-oriented lyrics, overblown orchestral arrangements, spectacles (including a live tour featuring members playing inside of a flying saucer) and other such things, but regardless, ELO have created some wonderful music that continues to be enjoyed by many.

Talented singer, guitarist and main songwriter Jeff Lynne set out to create a concept album about the "going's on in a dream world." Thus, ELDORADO: A SYMPHONY BY THE ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA (1974) was born. One thing that struck me about this album was the cover art featuring a girl with red shoes, and how it reminded me of Dorothy and her magical "ruby slippers" in THE WIZARD OF OZ.

To try and describe the music to someone who possibly hasn't heard this, or anything by ELO before without possibly sinking into lowest common denominator territory (in the pejorative sense), their music resembles The Beatles in slight traces, particularly in the vocals (Jeff Lynne's vocal mannerisms at times resemble John and Paul), while everything else seems quite unique and futuristic. This album in particular recalls some Beatle elements, while reminding one even more of The Moody Blues; particularly their DAYS OF FUTURE PASSED (1967) album, where a concept was consistent, and lush orchestration could be heard through many of the songs; as interludes, as segues, and as a backdrop to blend naturally into the atmosphere of each track. However, ELO don't necessarily sound *like* The Beatles and The Moody Blues, but elements of these two bands can be traced in some of their music.

"Eldorado Overture" starts this album off as an exciting orchestral instrumental, and in typical overture fashion, features snippets of songs that will appear later in the album. The beginning features a robotic voice, before slipping into some exciting orchestral passages. Then, comes the lovely hit "Can't Get It Out of My Head," which bears some small traces of The Beatles, with the switches from major to 7th modes, and the vocal mannerisms. "Boy Blue" is a sunny number with lovely vocal harmonies, and a breathtaking instrumental section with elegant piano, violin and strings to resemble some of the elegant works of Beethoven or Schubert. This track is probably one of the earliest examples of a *condensed* prog-rock track, along with the impressive contrasts, the complex arrangements, and the infectiousness of it all. Fabulous track.

To enhance my point on the chameleonic ability of Jeff Lynne's voice, "Laredo Tornado" features vocals that recall Todd Rundgren. The song doesn't sound too radically different in style to a Rundgren song either. A sophisticated pop track highlighted by Jeff's compelling falsetto on the chorus, as well as the orchestration underpinned by a funky drum beat.

Elsewhere, "Mr. Kingdom" is a beautiful, haunting, atmospheric number with lovely chord changes (the Bbmin6-ish chord is an excellent touch), orchestration, and vocals, while later tracks like "Illusions in G Major," are pure rock n' rollers -- with the orchestration. The title track is probably the most poignant lyrically, as it deals with the dreamer, and his wish to escape reality, and withdraw back into his dreamworld. The instrumentation is generally of a melancholic, minor tone, and Jeff Lynne's vocal mannerisms, and the piano tones bring some slight resemblance to Queen, and it's lead singer, Freddie Mercury.

The bonus tracks on this release feature an instrumental medley of many of the tracks on this disc, as well as a brief piece that showcases the formative beginnings of what would become "Laredo Tornado" (listed as "Dark City.")

I'm not sure who to recommend this to, as the music on here is multi-dimensional, and features more than the sum of it's parts would possibly indicate. Think of a futuristic Beatles, with more orchestral leanings. Think of the Moody Blues with more of a 70s flavor (as opposed to a 60s flavor.) Chances are if you like The Beatles, The Moody Blues, Todd Rundgren, Supertramp, or imaginative rock with ample orchestration and subtle amalgamations, you may like ELO.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 20, 2013 10:40 AM PST

The Power to Believe
The Power to Believe
32 used & new from $3.31

46 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Title Needed, November 14, 2003
This review is from: The Power to Believe (Audio CD)
It seems that the older each member of King Crimson becomes in age, the younger they become in spirit. You wouldn't believe that a bunch of 50-year-olds would be making music that sounds so heavy and so modern. If one were to listen to some of the tracks on this particular release, without any prior knowledge of this being the product of a musician who made "boring old fart" music in the late 60s and early 70s, they'd most likely be shocked, to say the least. Who am I talking about? That would be Robert Fripp, the driving force behind Crimson -- from '69 until now.
While Crimson were lumped with other classic progressive rock bands like Yes, Genesis, Jethro Tull, ELP and several others, Crimson possessed a darkness and a heaviness which set them apart from the rest. To make a personal hypothesis, symphonic-oriented bands like Tull and ELP seem to be generally more appreciated by the older crowd, while Crimson possessed more of a darker, heavier, sinister edge that many vituperative-loving youngsters -- whom otherwise wouldn't have much use for the sophisticated works of prog-rock -- felt they could latch onto. This definitely isn't "your daddy's prog-rock," but more like the prog-rock of kids who locked up their parents in a closet, threw away the key, and added their OWN twist on things, which would again, point to irony, given that the folks who created this music assumedly average a half-century in age. (Note: if by chance, you stumble upon this page and review, doubt that prog-rock could be heavy and "boring," and haven't heard a thing from Crimson, head straight to their 1974 release, RED.)
Robert Fripp (guitar), Adrian Belew (vocals/guitar), Pat Mastellotto (drums - though credited for traps and buttons, don't ask me what they're supposed to be) and Trey Gunn (Warr guitars -- guitars that mimic guitars, basses, and sometimes keyboards) continue on their strange and compelling musical journey. This album sees Crimson making complex, technical hard rock/metal, but this time out, they've trimmed things quite a bit to be more succinct and concise, and the results are very impressive. Within all the heaviness, there are moments of ethereal beauty that one probably wouldn't expect from Crimson -- not to mention that the album is addictive and utterly fun.
The album opens up with a theme that revolves around the title track, bringing some resemblance to the cyclical theme running through IN THE WAKE OF POSEIDON (1970). It features a processed a cappella vocal from Adrian Belew, which brings some atmospherical resemblance to Dire Straits, as well as some 80s new wave bands, before sliding into the heavy, menacing "Level Five." Opening with an ominous 7/4 crunch, the phrases teeter between ascending and descending, which eventually give way to a scrumptious climax: the climactic riff lifted straight out of "FraKctured," was used as this track's climax as well. Then, come around the 5:03 mark, the main song's riff is repeated, but altered in key, which sounds very similar to the ominous, cello-laden middle section of the title track to 1974's RED. "Eyes Wide Open" is an ethereal, ambient ballad with dreamy, oriental-like soundscapes. Crimson? Ethereal, poignant and dreamy? Who knew? A very beautiful number. "Elektrik" begins with some airy, woodwind-like soundscapes, which I'm guessing are spurted from Trey Gunn's Warr guitar, before kicking into one of the most addictive, grooving, head-bopping sections to be heard. The guitar passages seem to coil around one another like two or more snakes, which seem confusing, at least on the surface, while the soundscapes in general sound like perfect music for a video game. "Facts of Life" features some quirky, yet unusually thought-provoking lyrics, as we see Adrian taking on something of a Neil Peart role - philosophically!
The second part of the title track is an ambient number featuring a multitude of soundscapes. The first section can please many hydrophiles with those drip-drop sequences, while later there's a soothing section of chime-like beauty that can lull a baby to sleep. "Dangerous Curves" is an exercise in tension: the orchestration seems to mostly ascend in pattern throughout the song, which naturally links up with the steadily increasing dynamics before a creepy explosion closes out the song. "Happy With What You Have To Be Happy With" has been said to be a mockery of numetal bands, but, I think the members are generally poking fun at any musician who writes in standard, typical verse/chorus/verse format. The chorus is 11/8-ish, which isn't odd, given that 11 is the exact amount of syllables in the title (11 syllables = 11 eighth notes.) That sinister laugh heard somewhere near the end of the track shows the boys having some fun - even if it were on sinister accounts. That, to me seems like the real ending of the album, as the last two parts of the title track seem like bonus tracks tacked onto an otherwise excellent album. They're enjoyable on their own, but in context with the rest of the album, they seem like filler, and wasted space.
Not much more can be said from me. Robert Fripp and company continue to make interesting music. This album is intelligent, sinister, aggressive, poignant, fun and hilarious. Worth adding to your collection if you're a Crimson fan.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 17, 2012 2:16 PM PDT

Birds of Fire
Birds of Fire
56 used & new from $0.32

60 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mahavishnu Played Fusion, October 31, 2003
This review is from: Birds of Fire (Audio CD)
The Mahavishnu Orchestra are widely known for breaking new ground in the world of popular music. They (unsurprisingly) upset many jazz purists (one of them would be musician Wynton Marsalis), while conversely, offering new ways of looking at jazz. This band may have been responsible for helping listeners (particularly of the younger crowd) ease their way into works of "pure" (for lack of a better term) jazz, but saying that largely undermines the integrity and musical power that The Mahavishnu Orchestra possessed. So to be more specific, this band may have helped broaden the appreciation of jazz, especially to a younger audience, while also (and more importantly) blowing the minds of many with their own dazzling musicianship.

Led by guitar virtuoso John McLaughlin, the Mahavishnu Orchestra specialized in blending rock with elements of jazz, Eastern, R&B, classical, country and other elements to form an indescribable brand of music. Not only that, every musician in this band were virtuosos, so the band were not without exhibiting feverish flights of aggression and intensity. However, this band were one of the rare breed of virtuosos who displayed a sense of taste, passion and fluidity in their virtuosic displays, and could rarely be criticized for dryness, or exhibiting nothing more than virtuosic chops all by itself. Another gift this band seemed to possess was a certain accessibility to their music -- it was complex and technical, yet, it could be very addictive, and utterly inviting.

These tracks (which were all composed by John McLaughlin) all seem to be exercises in spirituality. Birds are creatures that fly - they seem to soar above everything. Fire = passion, inspiration, stamina, energy - a life-affirming source. This is transcendent, high-energy music played with soul, passion and purpose. The title track features a main lick, which gives off a slightly ominous, but penetratingly regal sound, while drummer Billy Cobham's crash cymbal seems to add a bit more atmospheric relevance to it's ever-present mystical aura. This main lick is in an astounding 18/8 time signature (but is really a set of 9/8, played twice), and features McLaughlin (guitar) and violinist Jerry Goodman dueling to the point where the two respective instruments sound indistinguishable--the two seem to become one. On a personal note: I've listened to this one track on repeat for two hours straight, and I could have easily kept it on repeat -- it was THAT addicting. Funky numbers like "Celestial Terrestrial Commuters" groove in 19/16, but still remain tasteful and addicting. The band softens things up with tracks like "Thousand Island Park" and "Hope." The former sounding like an unconventional cross between Indian classical and folk-country music (very hard to describe), which is very beautiful and soothing, though it isn't without some lightning-fast soloing. The latter sounding like a mix of Oriental, classical and instrumental ballad.

On "One Word," the band really lets loose with a forbidding and frightening fire that will send many running for cover. For the majority of the first half, the band seems to play in a straightforward R&B-rock jam: John uses the wah-wah (or what I call the 'wow-wow') pedal to tasty effect, and bassist Rick Laird lays down some solid grooves underneath it all, and later, the rest of the musicians trade licks with one another on their respective instruments. The second half is where it gets more intense, as tension is built from drummer Billy Cobham, as he gets a solo spot. Here, he exhibits his drumming skills, which start off smoothly, then escalate in speed and dynamics. Upon hearing this, you know to expect some sort of explosion ahead. Then, John McLaughlin (and band) kick in with a 13/8 meter, and for the rest of the song, this 13-rhythm continually increases in speed to reach a hair-raising climax. Within this 13-rhythm, closer inspection will reveal an almost mathematical technique in McLaughlin's guitar line: a 6-5-4-3-2; 6 strokes/notes on the first line, 5 on the second, 4 on the third, 3 on the fourth and 2 on the fifth. McLaughlin is basically blazing and zigzagging on a pentatonic minor scale, and you will find McLaughlin, Jerry Goodman (on the violin) and Jan Hammer (synth/keyboard)--not to mention Billy Cobham pounding out this 6-5-4-3-2 pattern on the snare--playing this exact motif in unison, while Rick Laird is anchoring this spiritually cathartic flame with an utterly tense bassline to produce something so beautiful, divine, searing, orgasmic and powerfully devastating: it is my absolute favorite moment out of the entire (original) Mahavishnu Orchestra catalog.

Much of the album is hard to describe in mere words, so this review is pretty much over. This album is recommended to all rock music fans, particularly if you're a fan of Hendrix or King Crimson. Prog-rock fans will probably love it, and they may find it to fall closer to that category, than it does pure jazz. If you're new to the Mahavishnu Orchestra, this is probably the best place to start, then pick up 1971's INNER MOUNTING FLAME.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 17, 2011 6:49 AM PDT

Adventures in Babysitting
Adventures in Babysitting
DVD ~ Elisabeth Shue
Price: $4.64
183 used & new from $0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Babysitting Is Dangerous!, October 18, 2003
This review is from: Adventures in Babysitting (DVD)
Chris Parker is in for one hell of a night!
A babysitter, Chris Parker (Elisabeth Shue) was looking forward to a date with her boyfriend, but he decides to cancel, and she's left feeling disappointed, of course. But, more importantly, she decides to keep an eye on kids Brad (Keith Coogan) and Sara (Maia Brewton) while their parents attend a gathering. However, Chris is suddenly faced with a challenge when her friend Brenda (Penelope Ann Miller) is scared to death, as she lands in a seedy downtown Chicago bus station, during her attempt to runaway from home. Chris has to make a choice: stay home with the kiddies, or go downtown to rescue her friend. Of course, she chooses the latter option, and takes the kids with her. Meanwhile, Brad's sex-obsessed best friend, Daryl (Anthony Rapp) happens to blackmail the gang into letting him come along for the ride. And from there, the action begins.
The kids bump into one misadventure after another in the mean streets of urban Chicago. From flat tire accidents, to auto theft, to gang fights, to secret criminal operation headquarter drop-ins, and then some -- somehow, no matter where they turn, these kids find themselves caught up in one catastrophe after another, so to speak. And, of course, their biggest challenge - other than making it through all the chaos in one piece - is to rescue Brenda, and make it back home before the parents arrive.
While the attributes of the film that were mentioned above sound pretty disturbing -- at least for a film aimed at the younger audience, there's very little that's dangerous in this film -- all of these elements are made to be kid - or rather - pre-adolescent-friendly. It's quite interesting and compelling how Chris Columbus made so many gritty elements appear fun and lighthearted, without sinking into sheer parody and silliness.
You can find guest appearances from many who would go onto more acclaimed projects. All in all, a lighthearted, fun, adventurous (pun excusable), charming and utterly poignant film. A guilty pleasure? Absolutely not - just a pleasure, as I have no shame in enjoying this film.

Life or Something Like It
Life or Something Like It
DVD ~ Angelina Jolie
Price: $5.88
190 used & new from $0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Charming Film With An Unexpected Role From Angelina Jolie, October 17, 2003
This review is from: Life or Something Like It (DVD)
Angelina Jolie takes on the role of a news reporter who seems to have it all, until a homeless prophet played by Tony Shalhoub tells her that she will die within one week. She was very skeptical about his prediction -- until quite a few of his other predictions became true.

From the minute Jolie's character is delivered the gruesome news about her "death," to the scene where she discovers the seer's earthquake prediction come true, we witness a vulnerability and frailty that is rarely seen in Angelina Jolie. It comes as something of a revelation, especially when seeing many of her other films.

From that moment, and on, she begins to undergo an evaluation of her life, and as a result, we see a vital transformation in her character throughout the rest of the movie. She also develops a poignant love connection with Edward Burns' character, which possibly may have been foreseen, as the two exhibited considerable sexual tension, along with the hilarious bickering swapped between them in the earlier parts of the film.

So, did Angelina Jolie's character die? Was the seer's prediction accurate? You'll just have to watch the film, as I refuse to give any of that away.

All in all, a light, poignant romantic comedy with considerable dramatic attributes. Once again, Angelina Jolie gives a rare performance, as there are many traces of vulnerability that are seldom seen in her other performances. Guest appearance from actress Stockard Channing.

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
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Price: $24.13
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What Else Can Be Said?, October 13, 2003
There isn't much that can be said from me that hasn't already been said thousands of times. The influence this album has had on popular music cannot be overstated. It remains accolade-filled even over 35 years since it's release.
Some of the ideas on this album were partially inspired by Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention's FREAK OUT! (1966) and The Beach Boys' PET SOUNDS (1966), so it's recommended that you explore those albums as well. These three albums pushed the envelope of popular music at the time, and it's probably safe to say that if these three albums (and artists for that matter) didn't exist, then bands like The Moody Blues, King Crimson, Pink Floyd and several other artists would not have likely been inspired to push the popular music envelope even further.
The album is intricate in detail, so it's best to listen to this album on headphones to catch many of the subtleties in production. However, this does not overwhelm the actual songs, but, rather they enhance the artistic integrity and originality of the music - which, by the way, still manage to be highly infectious, diverse, and freshly spellbinding. Regardless of it's massive encomiastic reception, the album is still very lovable. From the raucous title track, to the charming "With A Little Help From My Friends" (how can you not love Ringo's charming vocal?) to the psychedelic space-out of "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds," the album is a non-stop train of ear-catching harmonies and melodies. But, there's more.
"Getting Better" with it's infectious beat, tasteful vocal harmonies, will more than likely have you singing along. "Fixing A Hole" is a sophisticated pop track to say the least, featuring a brief guitar line at the end of each short chorus that seems to resemble some kind of brass instrument. "She's Leaving Home" is a slow, melodic ballad, featuring lovely vocals from Paul, gentle, hypnotically soothing backing vocals from John (at least that's who it sounds like), and not to mention, some lovely orchestral arrangements, which help to enhance the poignant atmosphere of the track immensely. Elsewhere, George Harrison's "Within You Without You" is an Indianesque number. The lyrics here are very introspective and somewhat spirituality-oriented, which would seem appropriate, given that George seemed to be the most spiritually-oriented of the four. The Indian Classical soundscapes are hypnotic, exotic, tasteful and entrancing. Seems very Ravi Shankar-influenced.
"When I'm Sixty-Four" is a vaudeville-infused ballad, which exudes a naked charm, especially in Paul's vocals. "Lovely Rita" does not fail to enchant either with those sunny vocal harmonies. While the closing track "A Day In The Life" sounds quite ambiguous: you can't really tell if John Lennon is in a state of lament, indifference, or disgust. The bridge with Paul McCartney's vocal adds a light, elegant, whimsical touch to the otherwise ambiguous track.
Once again, the influence of this band and album are quite immense. Not much else needs to be said.

Something / Anything
Something / Anything
Price: $11.88
69 used & new from $6.49

74 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Todd's Most Popular Album, September 26, 2003
This review is from: Something / Anything (Audio CD)
Todd Rundgren's double-album SOMETHING/ANYTHING? (1972) was a diverse juggernaut of catchy pop, R&B/Soul, hard rock, psychedelia, scatological humor, and other styles which may be difficult to classify. However, the album is fairly accessible throughout. It was this album that Todd received a huge slice of mainstream success. However, since many had perceived him *solely* as a soft rock/ballad writer, Todd chose to abandon mainstream rock for many years after this album - making some of the most experimental music this side of any notable experimental artist. The unfortunate misconceptions and the willful misrepresentation of an artist's creativity has been bestowed upon other artists as well (Queen comes to mind), which misleads listeners into thinking that an artist specializes in one particular style, and therefore, helps to blind fans from enjoying an artist's work to it's fullest when an album is bought, and listened to in it's entirety. Or perhaps, it's just simply that many listeners are staunch in their listening preferences, and wouldn't be able to tolerate hyper-diversity from the start.
Getting to this album. The album is divided into four distinct halves, and Todd plays all of the instruments, and provides all of the vocals for the first three halves of the album. The first half (Disc 1, Tracks 1-6) is called "A Bouquet of Ear-Catching Melodies," and is comprised of mostly catchy, melodic pop tunes. "I Saw The Light" has been compared to Carole King. While his vocals seem like Carole King, the music on this track is much more upbeat and energetic than any typical King song. "Wolfman Jack" makes me wonder if it was inspired by the television host of the same name throughout the 70s. A fun, catchy, 50s-like track. "Cold Morning Light" is probably my favorite from this half. A lovely, airy, melancholic R&B ballad featuring Todd performing some wispy, poignant vocals.
The second half (Disc 1, Tracks 7-13) is called "The Cerebral Side," and is comprised of cerebral, experimental and/or psychedelicesque tracks. The Intro is Todd giving the listener a tour on studio functions. Quite a fun and interesting listen, while "Breathless" is a indescribable instrumental blending psychedelic, symphonic, R&B and dance flavors filtered through electronics. "Song of The Viking" seems like a tribute to Gilbert & Sullivan, as it's a quirky, show tunes-rock track. Todd doesn't have a British accent, so it's interesting hearing his voice backed up by a mostly British style of music. Fans of Queen, Gentle Giant, Frank Zappa and selected others will be especially fond of this track. Listen to this track, as well as many others on this album, on a good pair of headphones to catch many of the subtleties that may otherwise be missed.
The third half (Disc 2, Tracks 1-5) is called "The Kid Gets Heavy" and shows a more rocking side to Todd Rundgren. "Black Maria" is a slow rocker, while "One More Day" is a tasteful, soulful number. "Couldn't I Just Tell You" is unbelievably tasty and infectious - so much so, it hurts to listen to this at times. It's that good. The vocals, guitar strumming - everything here is excellent, while "Little Red Lights" is a scorching rocker, featuring roaring distortion to resemble that of Jimi Hendrix. The fourth half (Disc 2, Tracks 6-12) is called "Baby Needs A New Pair of Snakeskin Boots," which is a live in-studio recording featuring a full band, and is supposed to be a rock operetta. Each track features silly, funny comments and shenanigans at the end and beginning of each track by band members, which are made to look like dialogue, and are reprinted as such in the sleeve. "Dust In The Wind" is a poignant ballad with some tasteful, R&B-esque guitar, sax and lovely vocals, while "Piss Aaron" is an hilarious song dealing with a person who has trouble with his bladder. "Hello It's Me" is the elegant Philly Soul/jazzy ballad that everyone probably knows Todd Rundgren by. However, when hearing this song in the context of the rest of the album, one will have the right perspective regarding Todd's musical personality, as the dialogue heard before and after the song ends was never heard on the radio. This offers an interesting perspective. "You Left Me Sore" is also somewhat hilarious, at least when hearing the dialogue. This song is something of a double-entendre: it can mean that the protagonist was left sore due to his love leaving him, or it could mean he was left sore - literally, after contracting a venereal disease. You decide. While "Slut" is a Rolling Stonesesque rocker to close out this juggernaut.
This album is definitely the recommended place to start as you get the essence - the closest you'll get to the FULL essence - of Todd Rundgren's creativity, and arguably at it's most accessible. The album is infectious, diverse, cerebral, intelligent and utterly moving. Don't believe the idea of Todd being just a ballad writer, as his styles run the gamut.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kansas Beginnings, September 26, 2003
This review is from: Kansas (Audio CD)
On Kansas' self-titled debut KANSAS (1974), we are already treated to their unique blend of heartland rock, boogie, country, and symphonic rock. Of course, they would refine their compositions on subsequent albums, but what they created on this debut here is highly impressive and enjoyable on it's own merits.
The band had already been playing together a few years before the release of this album (the band even stated that they had 50 combined years of musical experience in the sleeve), so this may contribute to the impressive gelling of ideas, and overall, accomplished musicianship exhibited here.
The first half of the album features more of the stripped-down tracks that Kansas seemed to exhibit from time to time, while the second half seems to be dedicated to the elaborate prog-rock epics. The album starts of with the fairly simple, but utterly addicting, violin-laced "Can I Tell You." Contrary to the opinion expressed by another reviewer, I don't find this, or any of the other tracks on this album, weak. Sure, it isn't a *prog* track in the Kansas tradition (if Kansas really ever had a tradition), but, different doesn't necessarily equal weak (opinions are subjective, not fact, folks.) However, while I enjoy this track immensely, I find the unissued demo version found on the KANSAS BOXED SET to be a more enjoyable version for me. "Bringing It Back" sounds like something you'd hear a bar-band performing. Reminds me of a slightly tame, underdeveloped prototype for the kind of thing you'd hear on SONG FOR AMERICA (1975) ("Down The Road" in particular comes to mind), but the underdevelopedness doesn't sink the track's tasteful edibility. I find it impressive how some bands (Queen, Rush, Kansas etc.) can make raw, underdeveloped music - that is, the music they make before reaching their peak in sound and/or composition - yet what they come up with on first shot seems to be much more impressive than what some artists produce in their entire catalogues.
"Lonely Wind" is a beautiful ballad penned by Steve Walsh. The vocal harmonies on this track are particularly moving, added with the melancholic piano, and soothing violin lines. The perfect song to be played for the bride & groom on their wedding day, while having a slow dance. On "Belexes," we are treated to the most energetic, rocking song on this set at this point. A definite rock-your-socks-off track, featuring some crunchy guitar lines, passionate, inspired vocals, and drumming that isn't too shabby.
"Journey From Mariabronn" starts off the second half as a classically-inspired number. This is probably the most compelling track on the album - compositionally speaking. The opening instrumental section, which lasts for 1 1/2 minute -- an energetic, mysterious section of band interplay leaving the listener in suspenseful anticipation, followed by an anthemic, soaring, worldly passage comprised of complex polyphony fronted by stately violin, which is then followed by a section in about 5/4 -- is one of the defining moments in Kansas' career. The song is all-around brilliant in my book. "The Pilgrimage" is a tasteful, fluid, mix of R&B and mild country influences. The melody, the lines and the vocal harmonies brings slight resemblance to Yes, particularly their track "I've Seen All Good People." A definite favorite of mine on this album. "Apercu" is another elaborate prog-rock epic, which even features a romp section which resembles that of the romp-like section in "Cheyenne Anthem" from LEFTOVERTURE (1976). The instrumental virtuosity and quirky elements displayed here are definite attributes which foreshadow things to be found in later albums. "Death of Mother Nature Suite" is a fine effort, but the unissued live version found on the KANSAS BOXED SET is much more enjoyable and fluid for me.
This probably isn't the album to start out with if you're new to Kansas. Start with LEFTOVERTURE (1976) and POINT OF KNOW RETURN (1977), then move onto their first three albums: this one, SONG FOR AMERICA (1975), and MASQUE (1975).

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