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Live at Monterey
Live at Monterey
22 used & new from $1.03

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Glad To See It Back!, January 26, 2008
This review is from: Live at Monterey (Audio CD)
It's about time that Jimi's monumental show at the Monterey Pop Festival has been re-issued on audio CD. It's been out-of-print for many years now, and up until this point, the only way of acquiring an audio recording of this beauty, was to own the Monterey Pop boxed set (and even this is a bit hard to come by, nowadays.)

Well, it is back, my friends! Any major fan of Hendrix, and/or classic rock in general will - no doubt - know how legendary the night of June 18th, 1967 was for Hendrix, and his "experience" (Noel Redding on bass, Mitch Mitchell on drums), not to mention what we fans of rock were treated to. It was truly a miraculous night, and Hendrix and crew blazed through these cuts with a raging passion, only to top it all off with the infamous conclusion of "Wild Thing" (to spite Pete Townshend, to blow the minds of everyone who saw it, and for a good ol' healthy "release"--all three of these feats were accomplished, and them some!)

The re-issue itself has nice remastering, and the sound is amazing. However, the packaging is a little strange to me...particularly the liner notes. Of course, I realize this was released in conjunction with the DVD version of this concert, but this still needs to be said. First off, the CD comes in digi-pak format (as opposed to standard jewel case format), and the booklet is housed on the left side of the cardboard package. The booklet contains quite a few photos of the gang; some came from the show, while others are more rare shots taken from soundchecks. The liner notes strike me as strange, due to the fact that what's mentioned is more about the Monterey Pop Festival itself (e.g. how it came about), than it does about Hendrix and the Experience's performance that night (given this program is for Hendrix's spot during the show, and not about an overview of the entire 3-day show, and all the artists that appeared.) The liner notes that are included seem as if they would be more appropriate for the complete Monterey Pop Festival boxed set (if it ever resurfaces), than they would for a single artist featured from the concert; not one word was mentioned about Hendrix & The Experience's legendary performance that night (though I suppose many already know the gist about their performance that night, but that's not the point.)

All in all, this needs to be snatched up, if you're a diehard of Hendrix. You never know how long it'll be around, before it gets taken off the shelves...again.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 16, 2011 3:24 PM PDT

Price: $4.99
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prince's 2nd, January 20, 2008
This review is from: Prince (Audio CD)
Although some may be mislead into thinking that this is Prince's debut album, it is actually his second (1978's _For You_ being his first), and it benefits from being a bit more polished, and fleshed out in it's production and execution, than the aforementioned first album.

The tracks here, on this second offering, are more developed, more striking in gorgeous melodies, and the sensuality that drives Prince's music is upped quite significantly, which helps to create a stronger album than the first. Prince supposedly has said that on this particular album, he created it more to please the record companies, than he did for himself. No matter, it's an excellent album, and like the first, Prince is credited for playing all the instruments, and performing all vocals.

Things start off with the hit, "I Wanna Be Your Lover", with it's pulsating rhythms, and slick guitar melodies, which are fronted by Prince's sexy falsetto, and creamy harmonies. As mentioned elsewhere, the album version (contained here) features the extended jam, which is more hypnotic and mood-inducing, than it is dance-inducing. "Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad" is another hit from the album, and is one of my top-favorite Prince songs; the melodies themselves are highly sensual, and it's all topped off by a fantastic distortion-laden, Hendrix-like guitar solo at the end. One of the most orgasmic songs I've ever heard, and any time I listen to this album, I can't resist the urge to listen to this song multiple times, before resuming play for the rest of the album. "Sexy Dancer" is a funkified disco jam, and features a nice jazzy keyboard solo from Prince near the end. "When We're Dancing Close And Slow" is a beautiful ballad which stays on one or two main chords for the majority of it's 5-minute playing time, but the mood of the song draws you in to the point where you're not worried about it seeming too repetitive.

"With You" is a gorgeous ballad, if not somewhat generic-sounding. The orchestration is lovely, and the melodies are poignant. "Bambi" is pre-_Purple Rain_ metal crunch, with subject matter about a woman who prefers consummation with another woman, than with the male protagonist. "Still Waiting" almost makes me laugh in the fact that, musically, it sounds like something from James Taylor and/or a few others of the "singer/songwriter" pack from the early/mid 70s. You could easily confuse it for such, if it weren't for Prince's vocals and lyrics. "I Feel For You" was another hit for Prince, even though most remember the version that Chaka Khan did sometime after this version. Lovely dance track with great melodies, and the keyboards are nifty. "It's Gonna Be Lonely" is a gorgeous, somewhat downbeat, mid-tempo ballad, featuring excellent vocals, especially during the chorus.

Although things would generally get better from here, fans owe it to themselves to check out Prince's first two albums, since they are generally better than most people give them credit for.

For You
For You
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Price: $16.81
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Beginning is For You!, January 20, 2008
This review is from: For You (Audio CD)
Here is superstar Prince, and his first entry into the music world as a solo artist. Of course, his first steps aren't nearly as brilliant as the masterworks that would come later (e.g. _Purple Rain_), but what was produced here is quite interesting and enjoyable in it's own right.

On here, Prince is a one-man band, playing an assortment of instruments: electric & acoustic guitars, Orb bass, clavinet, Mini-Moog, Fender Rhodes piano, drums, and all lead and background vocals. The list of instruments go on. The album itself largely consists of late 70s-style dance, with disco flavors sprinkled throughout, so as a result, some of the songs on here may be seen as generic, especially considering that Prince came to be recognized for his more original style some years ahead.

The album starts off with the gorgeous and dreamy a cappella title track, which, in one sense, can be seen as Prince's declaration to his fans. "In Love" is a nice little mid-tempo dance number, if not particularly memorable. "Soft And Wet" was the lyrically-suggestive, minor hit from the album, and is a much stronger, more addictive number than the previous one, and is almost guaranteed to get you on the dancefloor. Check out Prince's keyboard solo in the middle of the track. "Crazy You" is a short, acoustic-based ballad, and features Prince using "water drums" for the percussion. "Just As Long As We're Together," is another one of the strongest tracks on here; a disco-tinged dance-fest, with an addictive jam near the end. "Baby" is a beautiful ballad, which, in all obviousness, is about unplanned pregnancy. Features lovely orchestration, and great vocal delivery. "My Love Is Forever" is another one of the highlights here. Gorgeous and melodic, with lovely harmonies, instrumentation, and addictive, upbeat rhythms. "So Blue" is similar to "Crazy You," in that it's an acoustic-based ballad; it almost has a lounge-jazz feel to it, even in the way he delivers some of his vocals. "I'm Yours" is an edgy rocker, perhaps foreshadowing the days of _Purple Rain_. On here, Prince shows us what he's made of during the long instrumental jam near the end; check out his killer bass and guitar solos.

Prince would move onto better things, but if you're a big fan of Prince (like me), and are curious to see where his star began, you owe it to yourself to check out his first couple of albums. They are highly impressive in their own right.

Play Along With the Video Classic Rock Band [VHS]
Play Along With the Video Classic Rock Band [VHS]
2 used & new from $1.51

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars (3.5 Stars) Good, But Know What You Are Buying!, December 30, 2005
First off, the title listed for the item on this page is for the "Classic Rock" band, but the photo ad is for the "Blues Rock" band. Having said this, there are at least three separate items in the _Play Along With The.._ series; one for the classic rock band, one for the blues band, and one for the country band. However, I will stick to writing about the "classic rock" band, since I believe this is what this page is for.

This is one in a long line of instructional videos to help you improve your playing skills, and on your instrument of choice. It is said that many agree on noting the best way to improve your instrumental skills is by intense practicing, but also, by playing with other musicians in a band. Hence, we have arrived at the title - and supposed purpose - of this video. Here you have four musicians; Cary Banks on keyboard, Gerald Jones on guitar, and two other guys (one on drums, and the other on bass--their names are not listed), who play 6 "classic" songs, and the viewer is instructed to play along with the band in the comfort of their own home. This is a valuable tool if the aspiring musician is already in a band, or has plans on joining/creating a band.

However, this video should come with a few notable warnings for the unsuspecting consumer.

Keyboardist Cary Banks says this video could be used for the beginning student, as well as the seasoned professional. I have many reservations about the former notion, and I will explain why:

(1). For starters, while there are some valuable instructions (including follow-along chord charts, mentions of certain scales commonly used), this video seems to be aimed for those who are beyond just the *beginners* level. While the guys take some time to offer you some quick tips about the certain scales (as mentioned above), and commonly-used licks, there is really no emphasis on technique: in other words, there is little in the way of how to finger chords properly, how to increase accuracy and proficiency in picking (I'm talking about the guitar here) short: if you are coming here expecting tips on how to increase skills in playing technique, you will be *sorely* disappointed.

(2). Equally important (if not moreso), this video seems to be aimed at those who *already* possess a certain degree of musical knowledge in the technical sense. For example, in "Dancing Nancy," Cary Banks takes the time to mention that the E chord used in the chord chart (and throughout the entire song), is not just a basic major chord, but instead, is an E7(#9) chord (a "7#9" chord is a type of chord which originally resonated in jazz music, but did work it's way into many subsequent rock compositions). However, when it comes to the other chords used in the song -- B (V) and A (IV) -- they are listed *solely* as B and A, when in fact, they are actually 9th chords. And to complicate matters, nowhere in this video is a mention of the various (and obvious) inversions of these chords used throughout the song - both on the keyboards, and the guitar. There's not even a mention on inversions; what they are, or how to create them (something *beginners* should know, if you ask me.) And the latter problem actually persists through multiple songs on this tape. Most likely, the only viewers who would be able to pick up on all of this, are musicians that have been playing, practicing, learning how to pick up on chords and other things by ear, and perhaps, studying some music theory, for a certain amount of time.

Cary Banks says that one way to use this tape is to try to follow along, and even, throw in your own ideas for solos, almost like improvisation. But, in reality, I suspect that it would be best to "play along" with the band, by playing the *exact* chords and melodies that the band are using. But, either way, when knowing this, we arrive at quite a few problems, specifically the ones mentioned above.

All in all, if you know what you are getting into, this can be quite a valuable tool to possibly increase your skills as a guitarist or keyboardist (and it must be said, these two instruments are the *central* focus of the tape, and in *that* order.) However, due to the serious inconsistencies listed in the above paragraphs, it gets no higher than a rating of 3 and 1/2 stars.

Pisces Iscariot
Pisces Iscariot
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Price: $10.07
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pumpkins' B-Sides?, March 24, 2005
This review is from: Pisces Iscariot (Audio CD)
The Smashing Pumpkins' music that made the actual studio albums were, for the most part, nothing short of enigmatic, yet positively beautiful, otherworldly, mood-inducing and cathartic. The songs that didn't make the albums, however, are just as stunning and deserving of the attention from any Pumpkin fan. In fact, some of these songs could surpass some of the ones that actually made the albums; further evidencing the need to own the B-sides.

_Pisces Iscariot_ is a collection of B-sides and outtakes deriving mostly from the _Siamese Dream_ sessions, while a couple derive from the _Gish_ sessions, and one track is taken from the (now) hard-to-find _Lull_ EP.

A reviewer below makes a great observation: _Pisces Iscariot_ doesn't feature the overall grandiose, bombastic consistency of mood found on _Siamese Dream_ and subsequent Pumpkins studio albums. Instead, there's more of an intimate, lo-fi and subtly nostalgic mood that permeates these recordings. But, regardless, the trademark Pumpkins' mix of soft, dreamy ambience, and overdriven sonic extremeties are here aplenty.

Some of my favorites: "Soothe" is a track recorded in Billy Corgan's bedroom. An intimate, low-key acoustic track featuring autumnal chords, which provide as the backdrop for Billy's equally intimate, breathy mannerisms. "Frail and Bedazzled" is a retro-sounding rocker with a tint of psychedelic mannerisms. The swirling guitars, the precise, yet seductively-rhythmic drumming from Jimmy Chamberlain (this guy was mind-blowing on the kit), and D'Arcy's bottom-heavy basslines coalesce to create this indescribably beautiful number.

"Whir" is simply one of the most preciously beautiful things this band ever did, and they have done many, to say the least. The dreamy melody, punctuated by the strumming of the seemingly-unplugged strings, the willowy, subtle line overdubs, and Billy's breathy vocals are some of the few things that help to create this monumental beauty. The minor-key ending was a nice way to round off this one. "Blew Away" is a dreamy number by James Iha. The first part starts off slow, only to end on a heavier note.

The next two songs are the Pumpkins at their explosive best: "Pissant" is almost punk-like in it's rhythm and lyrics, yet you would rarely find overdriven guitars as thick and heavy as this in most punk songs. "Hello Kitty Kat" is almost ambient in it's heaviness; the heaviness and overdriven sonics are so extreme, that it nearly crosses over into house & techno. The wall-of-sound is massive here, and Billy's soft voice is beautifully drowned in the explosive mix. It creates a wonderful effect, and the noise only gets more intense as the song progresses. What's more astounding? The noise is actually melodic and almost trance-inducing.

After those last two sonic powerhouses, we are brought back into the band's softer side. "Obscured" is a beautifully-meandering, mood-inducing number, which actually ends on an eerie, fuzzed-out note. "Landslide" is the Pumpkins' cover of the famous Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac track. Billy and gang actually did a nifty job on this performance. Billy claims that this song is quite an inspiration on him, and that he highly identifies with it. "Starla" is an 11-minute powerhouse. Starts off smoothly and melodically, with a few psychedelic-like backdrops. Then, later, it concludes with a swirling, drawn-out instrumental jam that you could easily lose yourself in.

Not much else needs to be said. If you're a Pumpkins fan, you won't want to be without it. Of course, if you really are a Pumpkins fan, you already do have it. But, by the subtle chance that you fall into the former, you've got my recommendation, to say the least.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 11, 2012 5:09 AM PDT

Look Sharp!
Look Sharp!
Offered by DVD-PC-GAMES
Price: $8.89
105 used & new from $0.01

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You Gotta Look Sharp!, March 18, 2005
This review is from: Look Sharp! (Audio CD)
It's easy for many -- especially music industry writers -- to dismiss Joe Jackson as a pop musician who possessed nothing more than delusions of grandeur, due to his forays into jazz and classical shortly after his first two smash albums. A pompous musician, or a true artist? Regardless of what side you're on, there's one thing you can't deny: Joe Jackson was/is one crafty, talented S.O.B., and I feel he's a force to be reckoned with.

_Look Sharp!_ is a smash album with ridiculously catchy tunes, infectious melodies, cynical and ambivalent lyrics, and snappy rhythms that'll be impossible *not* to bop your head to. There is literally not one boring, unlistenable tune to be found here: every track is jam-packed with energy, taste and charisma. While the lyrics are quite sarcastic (and hilarious in spots), the music is impossibly upbeat, and refrains from depressing wallowing: leave it to wisecracking Joe to turn something so self-deprecating and sarcastic into something peppy and upbeat -- it almost makes you wonder if Joe is celebrating his own dissatisfactions with love and life. Either way, infectiousness and intelligence are so rare to come by in one package. But Joe Jackson delivers big-time in this department. "One More Time" is a perfect example of how Joe makes something miserable sound so peppy and fun: listen to those ironic, almost masochistic lyrics. Yet the music is so driving, tasty and energetic. Of course, many already know "Is She Really Going Out With Him?" featuring those semi-hilarious, yet reflective lyrics, and the muted riff on the verses. "Throw It Away" is a fast-paced, energetic rocker, with Joe howling in certain parts of the track. The title track many may have heard as well: a snappy, tasty number exhibiting excellent musicianship. Listen to the sophisticated arrangement in the vocal harmonies during the closing parts of the chorus. "Fools In Love" is a reggae-rock number that pretty much speaks for itself, title-wise: the lyrics and Joe's vocal delivery crack me up hysterically. Hilarious stuff. And later, to close out the album, "Got The Time" is a fast-paced, energetic rocker in the style of "Throw It Away."

Want something ludicrously catchy and snappy? Want something subtly sarcastic and sneering, but at the same time, utterly reflective, moving and funny? Want some upbeat music good for cruising with your girlfriend, or otherwise? Pick this album up, along with _I'm The Man_. Both are essential Joe Jackson albums.

Offered by CAC Media
Price: $12.28
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not A Zero in Quality, Though, March 15, 2005
This review is from: Zero (Audio CD)
The Smashing Pumpkins always made quality music that made the final cut, in regards to their studio albums. But, what's more astounding is the quality of the music that never made the studio albums; you know, the tracks that either got tacked on as B-sides, or, were just not released at all. These B-sides to the _Zero_ single are *no* exception to this rule, as these are some of the best things The Smashing Pumpkins have ever made, and they have made *tons* of stunning stuff.

Like the other B-side-filled EP's deriving from the _Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness_ album, each start off with the track of the single, then are followed by the B-sides. "Zero" is a raging anthem. Likewise, the rest of the EP -- with the exception of the melodic alt-pop of "Pennies" -- shows off the Pumpkins' overdriven, distortion-filled rock. "God" is a perfect example of this; the verses are soft, while the chorus rages with an intense, overdriven madness that was the Pumpkins' niche. "Mouths of Babes" features a tasteful riff on the pentatonic (in descending mode) that opens the track, and eventually closes it off (and is repeated, but the key is changed in the final motif, before the track cuts off.) "Tribute to Johnny" is a fusionesque metal instrumental; a little bit of funk, a little bit of jazz, and loads of distortion. Perfectly shows just how talented and diverse these pumpkins were. It's tasteful and chewy as well, while "Marquis in Spades" is a more plodding, but equally heavy, well-distorted number. "Pennies" gives you a breather from all of the distortion of past, and leads into the very interesting (to say the least) "Pastichio Medley." This is a 23-minute smorgasbord of spliced-together riffs taken from dozens of Pumpkins' songs that were either unfinished, or just plain unreleased. The overdriven extremeties that were so common to The Pumpkins' niche are here, indeed, but there are also moments of quiet to be found, and the occasional vocal.

Case and point: if you are a diehard Pumpkinhead (like myself; The Pumpkins are my top favorite when it comes to the "alternative" bands from the '90s scene), you will *not* want to be without this single, or the others that came from the _Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness_ sessions. If you are lucky enough to own _The Aeroplane Flies High_ boxed set (the complete, _Mellon Collie_-derived singles/EP's in one boxed set, and with a booklet of complete lyrics, photos, etc.) then you will already own this single. Recommended indefinitely.

Music Of My Mind [Remastered]
Music Of My Mind [Remastered]
Price: $7.39
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stevie, The Wonder!, March 9, 2005
Stevie Wonder has been called a genius for many years now, and I seriously find it hard to disagree with this. The man is simply amazing, and his talent is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Brilliant songwriter, lyricist, musician and person in general, he deserves every single accolade he receives, and then some.

On this early-1972 effort, Stevie is pretty much a one-man band (as said in the liner notes): with the exception of a guitar solo in one track, and a trombone solo in another track, Stevie plays *all* of the instruments; drums, clavinet, bass, organ, piano, harmonica, clavichord, synthesizers -- he does it all, and what's also astonishing is how adept he is at assembling these instruments to create works so beautiful, moving and captivating. Oh, and he also does most of the producing as well.

Some of my favorites from this album:

"Love Having You Around" is a song possibly written for Stevie's wife at the time. A steady groove is punctuated by various synthesizer textures and vocal effects which lead to a triumphant (although brief) chorus. The track is over seven minutes long, but it never drags, and seems like it ends all too quickly, since it's as engrossing as it is.

"Superwoman" is pretty much divided into two distinct halves. The first half is comprised of the most beautiful, intimate R&B to be heard. The brilliant jazzy chords and progressions maximize the dreamy, floating feel, and Stevie's breathy vocals are the guide to this ethereal, yet earthy masterpiece; it's the equivalent of a reflective Summer day, with a cool, gentle breeze for good measure. Almost equal to that of the dreamy artwork. The second half is a post-psychedelic, trippy, yet atmospheric smorgasbord of synthesizer-drenched chords, impassioned vocals and some guitar solos. Excellent stuff, here.

"Sweet Little Girl" is one of Stevie's pleasantly goofy character impersonation-filled tracks. On the verses, Stevie sings in his natural, beautiful voice, which is backed by a funky soundscape of the clavinet, bass, drums, and some harmonica. Then, on the chorus (if it's technically a chorus), the tempo changes, and he goes into this goofy, drawl-filled dialogue about how his girl treats him bad. It's hilarious as all hell.

"Happier Than The Morning Sun" is Stevie on the clavinet (or the clavichord, or synthesizer), and produces a song which is almost Paul McCartneyesque in it's melodicism. A beautiful song, and Stevie's vocals are sweet and pleasantly sugary. The keys that Stevie is using seems to mimic arpeggiated guitar chords.

"Keep On Running" is jittery, rapid-fire funk, and in some ways, it's ominous; as if we feel and sense that something in the shadows is about to jump out and grab us, as the lyrics suggest. The pulsating rhythm which embeds the melody is utterly foreboding, and Stevie's vocals sound slightly hazy, but not lacking the passion that is always present. But, in the least, this fast thing will get that old rump of yours shaking.

"Evil" is the most heart-wrenching track on the album. It's one of the earliest examples in regard to Stevie's socially-conscious musings; here, he talks about the evils of life (e.g. hatred, poverty.) It's a dramatic track, in which things start off low-key, only to escalate in atmosphere and dynamics as time progresses. The keys and synthesizers plow along, eventually reaching powerful orchestral crescendos and choir-like effects, and all along, Stevie's vocals get more intense, dramatic and emotive. All of this breaks me down everytime I hear the track; the passion in the guy's voice, alone, is enough to send one to tears.

There really isn't much more that I can say. Stevie's a genius, and his music is recommended to anyone who is willing to be moved by greatness, regardless of musical preference. You will probably want to own this, and everything up to 1976's _Songs In The Key of Life_, as it represents the best of Stevie Wonder. This album in particular will hold a special place in the hearts of many, due to it's unique, intimate charm.

The Shape of Jazz to Come
The Shape of Jazz to Come
Price: $12.81
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Free Jazz?, March 9, 2005
The title of this review will probably scare the living daylights out of fans who can't stand a whole bunch of dissonant, skronking noise. But, fear not, because this landmark 1959 album by the great Ornette Coleman isn't all that noisy in the least; in fact, I think it's one of the most beautiful pieces of music to be experienced - jazz or otherwise.

Indeed, my guess is this: what lends the "free" title to this album is the notion of implied chords. You see, most jazz records feature instruments like the piano - instruments that are capable of -- and are often -- producing full chords (a "full" chord typically consists of at *least* three notes to be considered as such -- mainly the root, third and fifth.) On this album, there is not a single piano in site, nor is there any other instrument here that can produce a full chord, or at least not in the typical sense. So, instead, these "implied" chords are only hinted at, perhaps by some of the sequencing of notes coming from the lead instruments, and the solos they tend to produce.

But, through all of this, you would expect to hear a bunch of sloppy, nonsensical riff-raff. Not a chance. The way Ornette and the other players comprised of this quartet pull this technique off is nothing short of astounding. What's more amazing? Some of this stuff is absolutely gorgeous. The melodies are a bit unusual, yet somehow hypnotic and entrancing.

Ornette's later albums would become more extreme in the "free" category, and would be hard to approach for the casual fan. But, here, you can get a glimpse of what would be found in some of Ornette's later, more extreme efforts: The supercharged, free-flowing, rapid-fire, yet elegant dueling/soloing between Ornette (sax) and Don Cherry (trumpet) heard on "Eventually" echoes many of the musings found in a lot of his later work; this is the equivalent of Ornette's signature sound. Yet, on here, it doesn't get so extreme, as to become unbearable to sit through.

You'll probably want to add this to your collection alongside such other 1959 classics (e.g. Dave Brubeck's _Time Out_, John Coltrane's _Giant Steps_, Miles Davis' _Kind of Blue_, Charles Mingus' _Mingus Ah Um_.) It comes highly recommended - jazz novice or diehard fan.

A Hard Day's Night
A Hard Day's Night
Offered by IMS Distribution
Price: $12.81
186 used & new from $0.01

152 of 164 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Hard Album's Worth of Music..., March 7, 2005
This review is from: A Hard Day's Night (Audio CD)
Or something like that. Um... nevermind.

And here it is - the very first (and only) album comprised of *all* Lennon & McCartney material, and what an excellent album it is. The Beatles' third album, overall, the boys had already started out with some mightily impressive songwriting skills, chops, and infectious melodies with their first two albums, _Please Please Me_ and _With The Beatles_ (both from 1963.) However, unlike those two (which feature a mix of originals and covers), this album is comprised of *all* original material, and the songwriting is also a step up, overall, from their first two albums.

Something that seems to fly over the heads of many Beatles fans is the complexity involved in the majority of their music. Yes, their later material was not the only music to be complex. In fact, this aspect started from the beginning, actually, and this album is no exception: many of the chords, progressions and structures to the songs on this album are very advanced -- especially coming from a rock band who wrote their own material back in the early '60s, and what's a hell of a lot more impressive is how they seem to make it all sound so seemingly simple; the complexity of the musicianship doesn't overwhelm the music, but in actuality, it plays an important role in making their music as infectious and devouring as it was (and still is): the way they treat the melodies, and how they sequence and arrange them are so marvelous.

You know the title track, as it features that explosive, shot-in-the-dark strum of a chord (which is complex, by the way.) And from there, we are taken on an exciting ride. We get infectious rockers like the aforementioned title track, lovely, melodic-soaked ballads like "If I Fell," more infectious rockers like "Happy Just To Dance With You," which is sung by George Harrison, and features some stunning arrangements, but these arrangements make for some interesting, mysterious, yet infectious melodies, which lend the track a certain sexy, elegant and utterly classy quality. We also get Latin-infused numbers like Paul McCartney's "And I Love Her."

My favorite track on this excellent album is "Tell Me Why." Many people on this page seem to bash this track, which is fine. It was rumored that John Lennon himself didn't think the world of this track, and said that it was a song written without much effort, and that it was inspired by his love of the R&B "girl groups" from that time period. You can definitely hear the influence here (and in certain other Beatles songs), but the passionate, raucous, uninhibited, and alternately beautiful vocal harmonies, the sexy way in which they swing, and the jazzy basslines from McCartney are just a few of the things that contribute to the creation of something which is almost orgasmic to my ears.

Later, we get to see one of the earliest examples of The Beatles exploring their love of country-rockabilly in "I'll Cry Instead," while "Things We Said Today" is more of a melancholic-toned melody, which, ironically, features a fairly-fast tempo. "You Can't Do That" features some ominous lyrics to a lover, but yet the melody and the song in general sounds so up-tempo, jovial and celebratory. And, to close off the album, we have "I'll Be Back," one of the most understatedly beautiful songs on the album.

The Beatles didn't ever really put out an album that wasn't filled to the brim with infectiousness, and impressive musicianship. This 1964 juggernaut is no exception. Highly recommended.
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