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Industrial Zen
Industrial Zen
Price: $16.48
34 used & new from $2.42

4.0 out of 5 stars just so only more so, March 23, 2014
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This review is from: Industrial Zen (Audio CD)
most of this album is excellent, but there are one or two down moments. the overall sound of this disc harkens back to the '80s, McLaughlin's band mahavishnu. McLaughlin spends most of his time on the guitar-synth and he even brought sax man bill evans back from the original '80s mahavishnu line-up. still, john gives us some exalted moments with solos on a straight-out electric guitar....and of course, it's classic McLaughlin! spectacular! with song titles like "for jaco" and "Wayne's way", the influence of the old '70s fusion group weather report is obvious. and there is a certain homage paid to weather report. it's undeniable but not overpowering. with the guitar-synth sound resembling electric keyboards and evens' sax work, mclaughlin tips his hat to his old friends from his miles davis days, zawinul & wayne shorter. still, McLaughlin's style is unique, original and will not fit into anyone else's mold. nobody writes like McLaughlin and nobody plays like him! McLaughlin is a brilliant maniac. his unique writing and brilliant guitar work dominate this disc just like you hope it would! even with the WR influence, this is heavy with the genius that is the man we know as mahavishnu! for instance, he prefers indian percussion over the latin percussion WR favored. the indian percussion adds both similarities and differences between this album and WR. and it was a worthy choice.
the down side was the vocals that occurred on 2 songs. on one song, an indian vocalist just adds ambiance in the beginning of the tune with that sort of off-key vocal fashion that is probably in style in india. john probably felt it was good and maybe even charming to do this to that one song....and he probably could've gotten away with doing that to just the one song. but when he had the same vocalist sing actual lyrics on the last song in that same off-key manner, it lost its charm. the lyrics went all through the last song and almost sounded as if it had been written in Hindi and then translated poorly into English. it didn't work. it was totally out of place in what was otherwise a fantastic instrumental fusion album and really dragged this disc down. McLaughlin should just avoid vocals at all costs and stick with the instrumental genius that made us fall in love with his music in the beginning. luckily, only that last tune is so heavily tainted. most of the album is the brilliant instrumental work you want from jm. if you skip the last tune, there is over 50 minutes of great fusion by john.....guitar-synth and sax that pays homage to weather report but still has the absurd genius and originality of McLaughlin.....even some great straight-on electric guitar. despite the scant mistake of adding vocals in one or two spots, this is a worthy updated jazz fusion piece by one of my favorite musicians!


Nouveau Calls
Nouveau Calls
17 used & new from $14.24

4.0 out of 5 stars where are the jams???, March 22, 2014
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This review is from: Nouveau Calls (Audio CD)
overall, this is a pleasant instrumental rock album. however, I was a bit shocked at the lack of guitar jams in this work. when I first heard i.r.s. was looking to do a series of instrumental rock albums in the late '80s to celebrate the days when music (& musicianship) were as important as vocals, I was intrigued. and when I heard they commissioned wishbone ash for this project, I was real happy. WA was one of those 'underground underdog classic' prog rock groups....they had a following, not as big as they could've been, but they knew how to jam and knew how to showcase their musicianship. then came this album: compositionally, pretty good....a bit pop, but reasonably impressive.....pleasant to the ears........but where are the jams??? for a group like this, a commissioned instrumental album should've been an excuse to let loose with the guitars jams. but sadly, there are very few.....and the one or two that do appear are way too short. so, the album is pleasant overall. compositions are rockin' in spots, sometimes a little pop. it's definitely enjoyable, but the shortage of jams is disappointing.


It's A Jungle
It's A Jungle
7 used & new from $12.90

5.0 out of 5 stars I hear you call it civilization...it's a jungle out there!, January 27, 2014
This review is from: It's A Jungle (Vinyl)
the true story is that passport records would only dish out enough money for an EP when 3dn fished around for sponsors of this work. five 3-minute tunes is all they would pay for. then, passport refused to promote it or push for radio play, so it's a jungle hit the bargain bins about a month after its release.....and it's a damn shame because it's a SURPRISINGLY GOOD piece of music from this group....especially when compared to the last two albums they did before their turbulent break-up in '76. 'coming down your way' and 'American pastime' were both desperate attempts to rekindle their floundering popularity...and both albums failed miserably because they were bad. this 1983 comeback attempt was a much better work that was never given a fair chance to succeed. 3dn tried to maintain some of their classic sound while updating to stay current....and they accomplished the goal admirably. cory wells sings the title tune with a bit of a reggae feel, and it's a great song! danny hutton sings a nice tune called 'shot in the dark', cory sings 'I can't help it' & chuck Negron sings 'somebody's gonna get hurt'....all 3 songs are good rocking tunes that balance a 3dn sound with the contemporary rock of the time.....trying to get a bit of a feel of groups like foreigner and journey. then, there's the lighter pop, almost 'lounge singer' tune, 'living it up'.....my least favorite song on the disc, but it curiously works well with the rest of the EP, led by chuck's strong, fantastic voice. the supporting band includes their original keyboardist jimmy greenspoon, (and as I recall, they had) their original drummer Floyd sneed. then, they had a keyboardist who joined them in '74, skip conte.....and members of their final, closing band in the mid-70s, just before they folded up......guitarist Al Ciner and dennis belfield on bass. Al even kicks out some impressive early-80s guitar and even a few good solos. this really is a surprisingly good and surprisingly rocking EP! as a fan of 3dn's more rocking side, I admit I was intrigued by their ability to blend their classic sound with '80s rock! it's a great comeback attempt that just wasn't given a fair chance!
I would still love to see this come out on cd, but under the circumstances, I doubt it will happen.


Blue Matter
Blue Matter
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4.0 out of 5 stars train to nowhere, December 21, 2013
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This review is from: Blue Matter (Audio CD)
this is a fascinating album. released in '69, this is a fine early effort from an impressive british-invasion era blues/rock band. side 1 is a studio side featuring their original singer/pianist, chis youlden. he's another intriguing example of a white british guy trying really hard to sound like an African-American....and although he falls way short of his intended goal, the result is a voice that's a great compliment to this hard-hitting, gritty rocking blues. SB's approach to blues/rock is youthful, intelligent, melancholy and harsh. the ugly fullness of sound that was popular in the '60s (but disappeared too quickly and easily in the '70s) rings true in this music with raspy, gritty, powerful lead guitar work by kim Simmonds and strong support by lonesome dave peverett on guitar, tone stevens on bass and roger earl on drums. (those last 3 men would take a slow ride in a glam-rock group together with a popular album called 'fool for the city' a few years later) this cd includes an extra short bluesy number called 'grits ain't groceries' which was not on the original album. it's a fun addition to this cd. 'Vicksburg blues' kind of drags a bit....trying too hard to sound traditional, but just droning on in a lackluster rut. but the rest of album is a quite pleasant and rockin' 4-star disc. side 2 was comprised of 3 songs recorded live in California in January '69. chris was sick and missed this concert. so lonesome dave filled in on vocals while bob hall covered the piano. this was lonesome dave's first shot at vocals.....which was a great warm-up for their next album 'looking in' and a few years later when he sang 'fool for the city' with a different band. of course, the live side is the best.....with lots of great guitar jams. it's a shame chris missed the concert though, because he never recorded with the group again. his heroine habit took him from us in '69. perhaps that's why they filled side 2 with those live tunes.......maybe chris died before SB finished recording this album. either way, the half-studio-half-live format of this album made for wonderful listening! this is a great, hard-hitting rocking blues album that entertains in a way that only '60s rock & roll can!


Looking in
Looking in
Price: $7.35
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5.0 out of 5 stars look out for looking in!!, December 15, 2013
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This review is from: Looking in (Audio CD)
released in 1970, this is savoy brown's best album! there were only 4 original members still left in the group when they recorded this album. the original pianist/vocalist chris youlden died in '69 at the hand of his heroine addiction. one or two other band members had drifted away.....and only 4 men were left to record 'looking in'. and after this album, 3 of those men, guitarist/vocalist lonesome dave peverett, bassist tone stevens and drummer roger earl would leave SB to start a glam-rock group who shall remain nameless (although in '73 they would hit it big with an album called 'fool for the city' & a hit tune 'slow ride')....leaving only lead guitarist kim Simmonds to carry on the name of savoy brown. SB came to this country in the british invasion with their debut album 'raw sienna' in '67. it was a beautifully ugly 'british blues rock' album....hard, gritty and rocking. looking in continues that tradition in fine style. this was back in the day when rock was not afraid to look and sound ugly. as much as I like 'fool for the city', i'm sorry dave, tone and roger left the ugly edge of '60s rock behind to pursue the more 'pretty but shallow' world of glam-rock right after this album. looking in possesses a gritty harshness (in both dave's vocals and kim's lead guitar work) that disappeared all too quickly in the '70s. and this disc also maintained a love of musicianship that vanished too easily in the '70s as well. sure, the compositions on this album are all very basic and blues-based....but the time spent on instrumentals and guitar solos on this album is impressive.....and it's a shame that trend faded in the '70s as well. the album begins and ends with the same short instrumental....just one guitar with a simple riff.....a very effective opening and ending. I don't know why they gave the song a different name at the end than in the beginning, but it worked well, whatever the reasoning. the 12-bar blues based instrumental 'Saturday night' is an album highlight. the rest of the album is a simple, gritty, hard-hitting rock album with a strong blues influence and a lot of time devoted to kim's powerful bluesy lead guitar work. this is a great '60s-style blues rock & roll album.....and a piece of work that would be matched by few.....before or since. even SB would have a hard time matching the magic of this disc again no matter how many times they tried......


What If
What If
Price: $7.31
59 used & new from $1.77

5.0 out of 5 stars what if ice cakes were little kids?!, December 15, 2013
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This review is from: What If (Audio CD)
i admit I don't know much about this band or its members, but I've heard a few of their albums...and this is my favorite! i'm glad I finally got this on cd. I love instrumental rock and jazz fusion. and this band does a wonderful job of dancing between both styles with a fine mastery of progressive rock and the added spice of southern rock and country (which is the prerogative of a band from Dixie). southern rock/country is not a common element in jazz fusion, so the influence used by this band is welcome and refreshing. the musicians are all gifted, inspired and creative. I've seen reviews claiming guitarist steve morse has won all sorts of awards and polls for being the greatest guitarist in the world. although I've heard nothing from this group that would support that claim, morse is a man of impressive and admirable talent in both writing and playing. violinist allen sloan is well versed in classical, rock, jazz and prog-rock...and as a big jean-luc ponty fan, I can admit i'm very impressed. the compositions and performances of all band members throughout this entire album are unique and remarkable. i'm very glad to give this wonderful album a deserved five-star rating. and any fan of instrumental rock, jazz fusion and prog-rock should add this disc to their collection.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 9, 2014 1:10 PM PDT


Harmony
Harmony
Price: $7.81
60 used & new from $2.16

4.0 out of 5 stars i've never been to spain (or england or oklahoma), September 22, 2013
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This review is from: Harmony (Audio CD)
unlike most of their albums, their big hit which opened the album really was the best song on the disc. the late hoyt axton handed 'never been to spain' to 3dn about a year after he handed them 'joy to the world'. 3dn originally rejected JTTW a year earlier, but finally recorded it as a way of thumbing their noses at record execs who said their 4th album 'naturally' wasn't long enough. everyone was shocked when JTTW was a monstrously big hit! in '71 nearly a year later as 3dn was recording their 5th studio album, they once again ran into hoyt by accident in the recording studio. when he offered them this new tune, they gladly accepted it, even if they didn't see the point of doing a tune about having never been to spain. once again, hoyt's offering left 3dn with another huge hit! (axton also wrote a hit for Steppenwolf called 'the pusher'.) and 'never been to spain' really is the best tune on the album (wonderfully done by lead singer cory wells). the next tune was a great pop tune with a strong rocking edge and great rocking guitar solo & sung beautifully by danny hutton (a tune called my impersonal life). next was the huge pop hit sung by chuck Negron called 'an old fashioned love song'. that tune as well as the 3rd big hit on the album, 'the family of man' was penned by paul Williams. they're both nice pop tunes. i'm not sure why they followed 'old fashioned' with the stevie wonder tune 'never dreamed you'd leave in summer'. I know 3dn liked doing songs from unknown writers to help give writers a break, but stevie was not exactly unknown at the time. 'never dreamed' is a good song and it was sung admirably by chuck, but they didn't need another mellow pop song or a stevie song at this point on the album.....i'm at a loss. next was a song called 'jam'. jam got its start early in 3dn's career during a concert when they had run out of encores. the excited crowd didn't want 3dn to leave and they improvised jam as an encore piece. this shows 3dn's talent as a band, and the live version of the tune (which can only now be heard on their live album 'around the world with 3dn') is spectacular!!...upbeat, ambitious, harmonica and guitar solos worthy of a concert encore. but this studio version of jam doesn't stand up....it's a bit slower, lackluster with no jams (which especially hurts on an album that doesn't have enough jams). jam is a great live piece and could've been better as a studio piece. side 2 begins with a strong pop tune with a rocking edge, 'you' sung by chuck....an album high spot. the next tune, 'night in the city' was written by joni Mitchell. again, this was an odd choice. joni did not need any help with her career and 3dn could not disguise the fact that this song was meant to be sung by a girl. by 3dn, this tune was a mistake.....but the next song, 'murder in my heart for the judge' sung by cory was a hard rock album high spot....although it suffered from the lack of a guitar solo that it sorely needed. still, it was a great tune! after 'the family of man', the album closes with a mellow song called 'peace of mind' which opens with chuck reading a compelling poem written by his wife at the time, paula. a nice idea that would've worked better on an album that had a heavier rock mood throughout. it is a nice tune, but the overall mood of this album was a bit too mellow to end like this. of course, the rest of the original band, Michael allsup on guitars, jimmy greenspoon on keyboards, joe schermie on bass & Floyd sneed on drums all performed wonderfully. I just wish they were given a chance to stand out a bit more. harmony was a tremendously popular album at the time which gave 3dn 3 huge hits. it's not their strongest effort and it wouldn't be the first album I would buy from them if you wanted to hear them at their best. however, it does have a lot of great moments, even if it's a bit spotty.....and if you're a 3dn fan and you want to have all their great moments, this is a worthwhile album to have. there are some great moments here. this is historically an important album for fans and it's fun to have. overall, i'm glad I have it!


Cyan & Hard Labor
Cyan & Hard Labor
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4.0 out of 5 stars the show must go on, September 17, 2013
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This review is from: Cyan & Hard Labor (Audio CD)
their 7th and 8th studio albums (excluding greatest hits albums), the last 2 albums that went gold (or made any real money), and the last 2 albums that were worth owning....these albums were good, but not as stellar as most of their earlier works. the endless demands of the music biz and seriously mounting drug problems were taking a heavy toll on this once fabulous group. despite the liner notes' claim, their 7th album 'cyan' was the first album without their original bassist joe schermie. his drug problems led to the band's decision to replace him with jack ryland. cyan was a decent 4-star album, overall. not as strong as most of their earlier albums, but still worthwhile. 3 songs were written by the group's guitarist, Michael allsup: the opening pop-with-a-rocking edge tune, 'happy song' tells of Michael's joy at how life was going...'storybook feeling' is the mellow love song and it's pretty good, with keyboardist jimmy greenspoon playing with synths moreso than he had in the past...and the closing tune, 'in my life' was sort of a mellow tune with a gospel bent and a theme of 'I been partying too much, I lost my way & gotta get the lord back in my life'. all 3 of allsup's tunes had chuck Negron as lead singer & none of them had a guitar solo, which I found odd. in fact, the insufficient number of guitar solos was one of the drag factors of this album. Michael's tunes were okay, but not the highlight of the disc. cory wells sang the 2 big pop hits 'shambala' and 'let me serenade you', both great pop songs, as well as 'play children play', a strong rock anthum that also features the 3 singers' strong harmonizing talents. cory also sings lead on the album's best tune, 'riding thumb', a song about hitchhiking that features a decent guitar solo in the middle and an unusually long instrumental passage to close the tune which makes it a strong heavy rock song. chuck also sings lead on the alluring pop tune 'singer man' which features spacy lead guitar work that adds a haunting quality to the tune. singer danny hutton's best moment is singing lead on the funky rock tune 'lay me down easy', which has some nice lead guitar and flaunts danny's strong, impressive rock voice. again, 'cyan' was a decent 4-star album from 3dn. but it was not as popular as their last few albums, and the group began to panic. with mounting drug problems, personnel conflicts and pressure from record execs to boost sales, their 8th album 'hard labor' was something they needed to succeed. I like how they tried to make it an 'album rock' album by opening with the short instrumental 'prologue', which opened the album with knocking on a door, the squeaky door opening, and a short stint with the circus music....this led to the album closing with the album's big hit, 'the show must go on', featuring chuck's vocals and the circus music at the end growing slower and slower and slower until the album ends with the squeaky closing door. that concept and the way it was carried out was brilliant! even the occasional faint circus music between tunes was commendable. but the desperation of the group was apparent. their overall song selection was not nearly as ideal as it had once been. the minor hits sung by cory, 'sure as i'm sitting here' and rocking/bluesy 'play something sweet (brickyard blues)' were both good, strong selections. and danny's version of jimmy cliff's 'sitting in limbo' was an album highlight. but the rest of the tunes were a bit weaker than you'd expect from 3dn. none of the songs were really bad, but they should have been pickier. the addition of a second keyboardist, skip konte did not make up for the fact that hard labor had no guitar solos at all! no guitar solos was a tragic mistake on an okay album that could've been better. there were good songs and great moments on hard labor....but their obvious desperation left this as only a 3-star album. this was their last gold album and the disappointing album sales were deserved....and they spiraled downward after this album to a nasty crash 2 years later in 1976. still, cyan and hard labor together on one disc is a great 4-star cd that I find thoroughly fun and pleasant to have.....and a sweet disc to listen to. i'm glad I have it and i'm sure I will enjoy listening to (most of it, anyway).
also, i'm glad we get to see the full cover of 'hard labor' now. in '74, censors found the cover to be a bit risqué. they made 3dn throw a Band-Aid over part of the front cover in the name of 'decency'. i'm glad we don't have to deal with that now. it's nice to see the whole picture. still, I bought this cd knowing there were moments on both albums I needed to have! like the great hit song says, 'the show must go on.'


Eat a Peach
Eat a Peach
Price: $8.39
106 used & new from $3.50

5.0 out of 5 stars peach without the pits, July 23, 2013
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This review is from: Eat a Peach (Audio CD)
this is truly one of the all-time greatest American rock classics! of course, it's well remembered for its sad historical significance. it's the album they were recording when duane allman died in a motorcycle accident. but the widely held rumor that the album got its name because duane collided with a freight truck carrying peaches is untrue. duane's bike ran into a lumber truck. but the album title was meant to be a tribute to duane because it was a quote from his last interview with the press in '71. when asked what he was doing for the revolution, duane replied, "there is no revolution. it's an evolution...and every time i'm in Georgia, I eat a peach for peace." that is how this album was named in tribute to duane. I don't want to over-talk this album, because i'm sure it's been done many times by people who can discuss the music better than I, but this is a great work that deserves its classic status! I believe the inclusion of the live tracks from the recently recorded live at fillmore east sessions was an afterthought because the album was incomplete when they lost duane, and they weren't ready to leave him behind. that includes the elmore james cover & big radio hit 'one way out', the muddy waters cover 'trouble no more' and the 33-minute instrumental album highlight called 'mountain jam'. and one of the sweet things of the cd age is that we finally get to hear mountain jam uninterrupted. in the vinyl age, the tune had to be divided between 2 album sides. I love having this tune all in one piece!
blues-driven southern rock, instrumental jazz/rock fusion, a touch of country in dickey betts' tune 'blue sky' and the short acoustic guitar instrumental named 'little martha', which is the last tune duane wrote and recorded before his passing....and a nice way to end the album. i'm sorry duane had to leave us, but this album was a great way to go out! again, this is still one of the all-time greatest American rock classics......and the allman brothers band certain earned their title as the godfathers of southern rock with this spectacular album!


Love Over Gold
Love Over Gold
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars actually, it rains often enough around here, May 20, 2013
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This review is from: Love Over Gold (Audio CD)
originally released in 1982, this is unquestionably DS's best album! with the rest of the world turning away from '70s progressive rock, mark knoffler finally felt the urge to visit the genre in his own unique way. he said he was inspired to write 'telegraph road' after seeing a road sign in the u.s. apparently, it was a real street name, and just the street sign led his mind to picture the entire history of the town....from the first trailblazer exploring the uncharted forest to a town's growing in prosperity to a town's erosion into 'has-been urban squalor'....it's all spelled out in sparse but brilliant lyrics spread across forlorn music that opens the album with mellow synth, piano with bass and guitar coming in just in time to produce ambiance. the sparse lyrics are sprinkled between great instrumental breaks featuring piano and electric guitar, maintaining a melancholy mood and splashing the right mix of hard-hitting rock in the mix....and the 4.5-minute guitar solo at the end of the song (which builds in intensity) helps to make this a dire straits masterpiece! 'private investigations' features a melancholy acoustic guitar and brings mike mainieri from jazz group steps ahead into the mix on vibes. again, sparse but brilliant lyrics evoke a mood of sadness at a situation (possibly an unpleasant love affair) that needs to be worked out......and the song's extended instrumental passage at the end, built on what knoffler calls 'a heartbeat rhythm'...simple backround with inventive overlays of electric guitar, piano, vibes strewn about in a brilliant fashion that continues the sad mood while accenting the band's ability to experiment in the progressive genre. I think the term 'industrial disease' was becoming en vogue at the time, and mark wanted to toy playfully with the concept in lyrics. the result was a wonderful light-hearted song. sure, this is the least impressive song on the album, which is why it was the only radio hit. still, the lyrics are clever....but being spoken over a simple 4/4 beat gave the tune a 'bad rap' because rap was just starting its popularity at the time....and though any believer in music as an art form hates rap (as I do), this tune got a 'bum rap' by critics because of its spoken lyrics. sure, the song doesn't really stand alone as a hit-worthy tune....but when kept in the context as being part of this great album, it fits quite well. the title tune has an acoustic-guitar-and-vibes sad & melancholy mood, with the sparse lyrics a depressing revelation of a girl the singer loves (a girl with issues that occur in too many girls nowadays). the acoustic guitar and mainieri's vibes as solo leads add to the mood and excellence of the album. the closing tune 'it never rains' seems to continue the same theme of the same troubled girl...and it maintains that forlorn mood with well-thought-out, caring and very telling lyrics and it ends with a long, gorgeous, hard-hitting, rocking electric guitar solo that show's knoffler's impressive guitar prowess. it is a fantastic way to end a great album! music, lyrics, and the experimenting with prog-rock made for an exquisite listening experience! simply put, if you're only going to own one dire straits album in your life, this should be the one!


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