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Wayne Klein "If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.-Albert Einstein" RSS Feed (My Little Blue Window, USA)

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Army Of Darkness [Collector's Edition] [Blu-ray]
Army Of Darkness [Collector's Edition] [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Bruce Campbell
Price: $29.94

5.0 out of 5 stars Groovy. This 3 disc version includes 4 versions of the film with special features., October 11, 2015
Groovy. Ash found life at "S" Mart a little more challenging than he originally would have thought. That's assuming, of course, that Ash HAD a thought.

We get four different versions of the film on three discs with a variety of special features. Three of the four look from exceptional to very good and the last looks at least decent (but is presented in SD). You can pick which version appeals to you.

The third part of the "Evil Dead trilogy" gets the ultimate Blu-ray edition. This three disc set includes ALL the cuts of the film. Disc One includes the theatrical version of the film.

Image and Sound Quality: The transfer here is quite nice. The compression issues that have marred some Shout Factory releases aren't as apparent here. There are occasional bits of crush but, on the whole, this looks quite in for all three versions of the movie with the high def transfers. The theatrical version looks like it could use the same transfer as the Universal no frills Blu-ray. I haven't had a chance to compare both of them head to hea for the entire movie but I did note that they look quite similar in the scenes that I sampled.

As with all the other versions the image quality varies quite a bit depending on whether or not there post production visual effects.

The fourth version (the TV cut) is in SD and looks like it was sourced from videotape. Again, not awful but it can't possibly compare to the other three versions. Of the three, the "International Cut" looks the best here.

Sound is quite nice for all three with the fourth the SD TV version trailing far behind the first three versions.

Extras on this disc include current interviews with Bruce Campbell, Patricia Tallman (who did many of the female stunts in the film), Ted Raimi, Bill Moseley and others. We also get the original opening and ending for the film, deleted scenes, promos, U.S. theatrical trailer and TV spots.

Disc two is an unrated director's cut. It's a little bit longer and just a tiny bit softer looking in high def. The aspect ratio is also different--the original film is in 1.85:1 while this one is 1.78:1. Colors look better than previous versions.

This features an audio commentary with Campbell, director Sam Raimi and his brother co-writer Ivan. We also get the"Creating The Deadites" featurette, extended vintage interview clips, behind the scenes footage from KNB Effects.and a vintage featurette on the film.

The third disc featurets the international cut of the film from a new 4K scan. in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The TV version is also included as an extra here. (in 1.33:1). The TV version is in SD. The international theatrical trailer and still galleries.

So there's four versions of the film and you can choose the one you first saw.

As usual, Shout provides a two side cover--one which features the image from the original theatrical trailer and a new one specially commissioned for this set.

This is the best it could possibly get for fans of the film. Recommended.

Albums Collection
Albums Collection
Offered by Fulfillment Express US
Price: $66.06
41 used & new from $55.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential albums but the mastering is on the loud side, October 11, 2015
This review is from: Albums Collection (Audio CD)
Edsel gathers eight essential albums by T. Rex in this boxed set. The albums "T. Rex", "Electric Warrior", "The Slider", "Tanx", "Zinc Alloy And The Hidden Riders of Tomorrow", "Bolan's Zip Gun", "Futuristic Dragon" and "Dandy In The Underworld". Most of these are remastered by Phil Kincade but a trio of them feature the mastering from the deluxe editions by Tony Visconti and Ted Jensen ("The Slider", "Tanx" and "Zinc Alloy").

This set also includes two discs of b-sides and rarities some of which showed up on the deluxe editions.

Now that we know the contents lets talk about the mastering. It's louder than usually like but It's not unlistenable to me but it is compressed with peak limiting applied.

The packaging is fairly simple with cardboard holders with the original artwork for each album although those that originally received gatefold covers sleeves are not replicated here.

The set does come with a small booklet that includes the original credits for each album is included but nothing else.

As a budget set of these essential eight albums (plus two CDs of bonus material), this isn't a bad way to get the albums but the mastering leaves a bit to be desired.

Studio Albums 1968 - 1979
Studio Albums 1968 - 1979
Price: $39.10
85 used & new from $26.94

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice boxed set of Mitchell's first 10 studio albums--a mix of masters, nice cardboard sleeves not perfect but nice., October 10, 2015
First I have to admit I'm a bit of a neophyte when it comes to Joni Mitchell. I had "Blue", "Court and Spark" and "The Hissing of Summer Lawns" but was a bit too busy and caught up with whatever obscure band or artist I could or bands I had overlooked in the past.

So this set seemed a natural for me as I had always intended to dig into Joni's music more in depth.

It's a really good set. I don't love every album on this set but, then didn't expect to love all of them. Each, however, have their charms.

As to the mastering, I don't have much to compare them to except for the DCC releases of "Blue" "Court and Spark" and the earlier CD of "Hissing". There was some slight ticking noises on "Court and Spark" on one track noticeable on headphones (but not on my stereo) but the rest of these sound pretty good. Some of them are obviously older masters and some them also seem to be HDCD clones of what came before on CD (my HDCD light went on when I played them).

This set sounds pretty good to my ears. Could they have been remastered? Sure. It would have been. Ice particularly for fans who owned earlier remasters. My experience with most of these Rhino sets is that they take whatever masters are available (even if they are, in some cases ones prepared before but unreleased), create a replica of the original vintage label, create cardboard sleeves (not sturdy but certainly better than the cardboard sleeves that come with the "Original Album Series" releases but not up to the Japanese replica or Mobile Fidelity releases. Nice artwork replica on the sleeves and they use gatefolds where they were originally used).

My only other disappointment is that there isnt a booklet detailing the making of each album. Heck, they could have used reviews from the time as well and printed them in a booklet or just put the credits in a booklet like the recent Faces mini-boxed set. That, however, would have cut imto the bottom line or added to e cost of the set. I would,have been willing to,pay just a little extra but it might not have moved enough units.

Still, for the cost, this is a really good set of classic albums. The weakest in my opinion are her first, "Don Juan's Reckless Daughter" but most of them have grown on me.

I'm glad I got a chance to enjoy these and recommend them to casual fans as well and those looking to expand their experience.

The Velvet Underground & Nico 45th Anniversary [Super Deluxe] by The Velvet Underground Box set edition (2012) Audio CD
The Velvet Underground & Nico 45th Anniversary [Super Deluxe] by The Velvet Underground Box set edition (2012) Audio CD

5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for hardcore Velvet's fans--1)remastered original stereo and mono album 2)Nico's first solo album 3)alternate/live, October 9, 2015
Hardly anyone bought it when it first came out and now it's considered a musical and cultural touchstone for Punk, New Wave and the Indie sound. The saying was that everyone who bought this when it came out (credited to Brian Eno) started a band. If that's the case, than the reach of the album when it comes to influence is not indicated by its lowly chart placings at the time.

Although Andy Warhol is credited as producer that was largely a marketing move--I suppose you could call Andy the "spiritual producer" as the band themselves would probably say he influenced what they did early on --Tom Wilson is crdited as the producer on the album. Warhol and Paul Morrissey were essential in creating a buzz for the band. For example when the band was replaced by The Young Rascals at a fairly important club, Morrissey quickly found another where they created the Exploding Plastic Inevitable a roadshow that propelled them to the frontlines of important bands (one of the first true audio/visual experiences something that other bands such as Pink Floyd would use in their concerts--use of footage projected behind the musicians as they played, etc.)

When Columbia reportedly heard the demos the band cut, they thought the music was interesting but had no commercial potential (something also said about their Verve label mate Frank Zappa at one point as well).

It certainly was out there with Cale's sometimes atonal and screechy violin playing. Nico's dead pan vocal style and Reed's blunt descriptions of the seedy side of life in New York.

So to the album itself--this set features new mastering by Kevin Reeves of the original stereo and mono versions of the album (as I recall the mono received a dedicated mono mix which differs ever so slightly from the stereo), demos, alternate versions of a handful of tracks, live recordings of the band and Nico's solo album which should be considered another Velvet's album IMHO because the band appears on it (for the most pard) and half of it was written by Lou and John.

Is some of this redundant? Sure. The mastering by Reeves is decent by modern standards--there is some peak limiting on the studio albums. It isn't brickwalled and the original album was surely no sonic marvel on vinyl to begin with. If you like Reeves' style, you'll like the sound. It's nice to have all of these at least sound somewhat uniform.

We also get the Scepter Studios sessions as well with some interesting variations on the original album tracks.

The oversize book makes this a storage issue for some folks but it also makes a handsome coffee table book that features excellent essays and quotes from all the band members about the making of the album.

Disc 1:
The original stereo album
European Son (Album Version (Stereo))
All Tomorrow's Parties (Alternate Single Voice Version)
European Son (Alternate Version)
Heroin (Alternate Version)
All Tomorrow's Parties (Alternate Instrumental Mix)
I'll Be Your Mirror (Alternate Mix)

Disc 2:
The original mono mix
All Tomorrow's Parties (Mono Single)
I'll Be Your Mirror (Mono Single - Alternate Ending)
Sunday Morning (Mono Single - Alternate Mix)
Femme Fatale (Mono Single)

Disc 3:
"Chelsea Girl--Nico
(Note: a young Jackson Browne contributed songs to the album in addition to an, at the time, unreleased Dylan tune (which eventually showed up on the 1985 "Biograph" release, and Reed/Cale songs). Nico disliked the finished album as she wanted it to be fairly simple with guitars and drums and she felt that the label and producers buried the songs under too much orchestration).

Disc 4: (Scepter Studios sessions )
1."European Son" (Alternate version) – 9:02
2."The Black Angel's Death Song" (Alternate mix) – 3:16
3."All Tomorrow's Parties" (Alternate version) – 5:53
4."I'll Be Your Mirror" (Alternate mix) – 2:11
5."Heroin" (Alternate version) – 6:16
6."Femme Fatale" (Alternate mix) – 2:36
7."Venus in Furs" (Alternate version) – 4:29
8."I'm Waiting for the Man" (Alternate version, here titled "Waiting for the Man") – 4:10
9."Run Run Run" (Alternate mix) – 4:23
10."Walk Alone" – 3:27
11."Crackin' Up/Venus in Furs" – 3:52
12."Miss Joanie Lee" – 11:49
13."Heroin" – 6:14
14."There She Goes Again" (with Nico) – 2:09
15."There She Goes Again" – 2:56

Disc 5:
"Melody Laughter" (Instrumental jam) - runs 28:28
"Femme Fatale
"Venus in Furs"
"The Black Angel's Death Song
"All Tomorrow's Parties

Disc 6: Live at Valleydale Ballroom, Columbus, Ohio, November 4, 1966
"I'm Waiting for the Man"
"Run Run Run"
"The Nothing Song" (Instrumental jam)

Is this worth it? If you are a hardcore Velvets fan these use the best tapes available creating a uniform sound for them and with a great, handsome coffee table booklet that would fit well next to your artbooks on the shelf (assuming you have some).

Black Beauty
Black Beauty
Price: $21.99
31 used & new from $17.48

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars High Moon does a great job at saving a album obscurity from Love mastermind Arthur Lee in deluxe release of lost album., October 2, 2015
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This review is from: Black Beauty (Audio CD)
John Lennon once said "genius is pain". What he didn't say is the pain of creating one's brilliant work early and how that comes back to haunt one's entire career. You keep trying to top it even equal it and everyone throws that masterpiece in your face. Arthur Lee's masterpiece was "Forever Changes" and we held it against him. Instead, we should have said "thank you and thanks for anything in ADDITION to that".

Thank you Arthur.

Everyone will compare the previously unreleased "Black Beauty" and find it wanting. I say we should find it a nice addition. If it's not "Forever Changes", "Da Capo" or "Love", that's OK because it's something else from Arthur Lee a man who was unappreciated for the most part during his time with us.

The strong parts include "Young and Able" and "Midnight Sun" which rip through our expectations with the energy of punk. The not so good, a Reggae tune "Beep Beep" that chugs away without purpose.

The mastering on this by Dan Hersch is nothing short of a miracle. Hersch had an acetate--a fragile record that doesn't stand up well to playing or the wear and tear of the passage of time--to work with and what he does here is nothing short of miraculous. The sound is very good. Is it as pristine as a mastertape? Nope. The fact that it even exists has prevented the loss of another album to the passage of time.

There are a number of bonus live tracks and also the theme song from a forgotten film "Thomasine & Bushrod". There's a also a 20 minute excerpt from an interview conducted for Rolling Stome from 1974. All of the six bonus tracks along with the entire album has never been released before.

High Moon a Records does an exceptional job with this release (much as they did for the Gene Clark reissue they put together) and this clearly was a labor of love. The Digipak is a hardcover not the squishy cardboard covers you usually see out there. A 62 page booklet with plenty of information on the making of the album, the salvage operation to save it and comments from Arthur's wife Diane. It's a class act much like Arthur's music and the man himself.

We always hope for the best but make do with what we get. Arthur Lee knew that and build masterpieces with his compatriots in Love. Ho's career wasn't an easy road filled with plenty of rubble and pot holes but he managed to create smooth sounding music avoiding the We couldn't ask for more and they wouldn't do any less. RIP Arthur and Bryan.

Thanks for Love and the music.

Cass County [Deluxe Edition]
Cass County [Deluxe Edition]
Price: $11.88
61 used & new from $6.97

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don Henley digs back into his roots and discovers gold, September 26, 2015
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I was surprised by this album. At first, I was a bit disappointed that Henley had returned to his country roots (he is describing this more as "Americana") but, after giving this a handful of listens, lyrically and musically this has some of the best material that Henley has written in years. He's engaged as a songwriter and performer again. Given how far he is in his career, that's a bit of a rare thing. The bulk of the material that Henley also co-wrote for the last Eagles release is the best on that album as well.

The long list of guest performers on this album from Vince Gill to Miranda Lambert, Dolly Parton and Mick Jagger only enhance the material although Henley could have made the album without their help and it would have been as strong. Most of the material was co-written with Stan Lynch the former drummer with Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers.

The covers are interesting as well--"She Sang Hymns Out of Tune" that I knew from a Harry Nilsson album--is engaging as well. The only reason that I didn't give this five stars is that some of the bonus material for the deluxe edition causes the album to sag a bit towards the end but it does finish with a strong final turn from Henley and Lynch.

This release combined the two solo releases that Henley had planned into one.

The Velvet Underground - 45th Anniversary [6 CD][Super Deluxe Edition]
The Velvet Underground - 45th Anniversary [6 CD][Super Deluxe Edition]
Price: $80.92
44 used & new from $67.65

5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for hardcore fans, this release includes 3 versions of the album, Matrix remixed (& unreleased), VU, AV remixed, September 24, 2015
A classic album receives a very nice upgrade, "The Velvet Underground marked a change for the band both in terms of Reed's approach (less darkness here, a bit of hope as well) and in terms of the players (Doug Yule replaced John Cale when Reed pushed to have Cale kicked out of the band--Morrison and Tucker were not in favor of Cale being sacked). New player Doug Yule brings a more melodic approach to the material here (although one could imagine Cale doing much the same).

This deluxe edition goes further than the previous deluxe--we get both the original mix done by Lou Reed and the Valentin mix done for later pressings with a distinctly different sound for each mix. We also get the various outtakes that made up the "VU" album and "Another View" which, depending on who you believe, may or may not have been for an unreleased 4th album at the time. These have been remixed where there were no original surviving 1969 mixes that either survived or if they weren't mixed at all. The result presents the tracks in a bit more of the raw sound of the original unfinished tapes. Also included here is a mono mix that was only released as a promotional item for radio.

The Matrix Tapes received a previous LP and CD release. These tracks have all been remastered from the original 4 track multi-tracks and sound superior to the previous release. There's also 11 previously unreleased tracks from the Matrix show and for those tracks that were released on the Quinne Tapes release or the original "1969 The Velvet Underground Live" release have also been remixed from the original multi-track tapes as well.

The six CD set is presented in a handsome coffee table styled book filled with both color and black & white pictures from various perfomances and the album cover sessions. We also get a very good essay by Rock Critic David Fricke (who seems everywhere these days) who uses vintage, his own interviews with all four members throughout the years (only Yule and Tucker survive from this version of the VU).

I'm not a fan of oversized releases like this but there is an advantage allowing for longer essays, bigger pictures and easier handling. Nevertheless, they are a bit of a pain for me to store so I'm not a fan of them from that perspective. This edition is slighly larger than The Allman Brothers "Fillmore Concerts East" release from last year.

The pros--a nice set with 11 previously unreleased live tracks with all of the live tracks from remixed tapes. We also get a mono mix that was released only to radio stations. The "VU" and "Another View" tracks benefit from vintage 1969 mixes as well as 2014 remixes although the material is in ore of a raw state honest to the unfinished nature of the unfinished fourth album. Top all of this off with great photos, a very good essay and you get an essential set for hardcore VU fans.

The cons-the size of the book is a bit awkward for storage on the shelf although you could put it with oversized art books (at last its not the size of the Talking Heads anthology CD release from over a decade ago which brought new meaning to oversized and awkward).

Break of Hearts
Break of Hearts
Price: $19.99
40 used & new from $1.34

3.0 out of 5 stars Not a great album but has its moments. "Break of Hearts" won't win any new fans but long time fans will enjoy it., September 22, 2015
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This review is from: Break of Hearts (Audio CD)
After a stellar breakthrough with their U.S. debut (that album was a remake of their second release in Canada), Katrina and The Waves struggled to recapture that magic of that album.

"Break of Hearts" isn't going to convert any new fans but long tim fans will enjoy the album even if none of the material is up to the band's highest standard. The band's best songwriter Kimberly Rew is hampered by the democratic approach of the songwriting on the album with most of it credited to the entire band. Rew's few solo songs are the best compostion songs on the album.

The production for the album is of its time. That's not necessarily a bad thing if the material was stronger but it isn't. Rew's solo albums put this album to shame in terms of quality. It's a pity that the album isn't better but it is still entertaining even if there are no songs as strong as their debut.

Underwater Moonlight
Underwater Moonlight
Price: $12.99
37 used & new from $6.94

4.0 out of 5 stars Cheap reissue with bonus tracks as download only, --buy the previous reissue used not this., September 22, 2015
This review is from: Underwater Moonlight (Audio CD)
A classic abum from The Soft Boys, this reissue from Yeproc is dinged a star for lousy extras. Those extras you may ask, what are they? There are bonus tracks for the original album here--just as the previous CD had them--but they are ALL lossy downloads.

This reissue along with "A Can of Bees is everything the Yeproc reissues of Robyn's first six solo albums are not--
cheap giving little value to fans. There's no booklet (at least my edition came without it) and the previous editions of this album, like Robyn's solo albums on Yep Roc, had bonus tracks on the bloody CD.

A couple of reasons Yeproc did this (a label I normally respect but not any longer)
1) They are cheap and the bonus tracks would cut into the profit margin. Not everyone will download the bonus tracks saving them having to pay additional royalities to Robyn and the band.
2) Yep Roc are now run by a bunch of idiots who believe that fans that buy a CD would prefer to download everything else for it (we don't).
3) Their brains were eaten by a bizarre creature out of one of Robyn's songs and they are now possessed by alien lifeforms devoted to pushing the CD to extinction.
4) They are part of a new corporate conspiracy to give buyers less for their money rather than more.

The mastering is OK here. If you have the previous set, you don't need to rebuy this. If you don't, find it used. I would hate to deprive Robyn and the band of royalities but, honestly, they are depriving fans of music that they have released previously without apparent explanation.

The original album is a five star classic. This reissue, not so much. Docked a star for cheapness on Yep Roc's behalf.

Complete Columbia Albums Collection
Complete Columbia Albums Collection
Price: $105.49
46 used & new from $65.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent collection that covers Taj Mahal's stint at Columbia Records--only one disc has three previous unreleased tracks, September 22, 2015
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We have a culture afflicted with Alzheimer's disease. Forgetting our past is akin to losing an important part of who we are and the tendency of popular music to shed the past like out of date clothing is probably the most disturbing aspect of popular culture.

Taj Mahal is largely forgotten by fans that briefly embraced him in the 1960's and that's rather tragic--his discography is superb and, as I witnessed when I saw him open for John Hiatt recently, he counties to be a powerful voice for the blues well into his 70's.

This superb set is designed to remind us of that legacy and, even when he stumbled, there was worth while thought, passion and always excellence in execution as well. Capturing Taj Mahal's Fire in this 15 disc set, Sony has given fans and those recently turned on to his music the opportunity to reassess enjoy a man's who's sales often didn't measure his impact on popular music.

This set suggesting that Sony had thought to reissue an expanded series of albums but, like others caught in the diminishing sales of catalog releases, stopped (in this case just as they were starting unlike the Blue Oyster Cult or Cheap Trick sets) before completing the task. Remastering here by Vic Anesini and Mark Wilder is exceptional. A couple of things to note on this set that fans or those rediscovering Taj Mahal's discography will want to note.

We get a very good booklet with informstion on the recording of each album. Each album is a mini-LP sleeve replicating the original as close as possible. "Giant Steps/Ole Folks" is restored to its two album configuration. There's also a two CD set "Treasures" that covers unreleased material and a vintage concert. "The Real Thing" has been returned to its two disc set (the original release was on CD was, as I recall, a single disc). "The Natch'l Blues" has been expanded (indicating that Sony had plans to do so for many of the other titles in this set much as they did for the previously mentioned boxed sets) with three additional tracks. The early Tah Majal release "The Rising Sons" gathers the 22 tracks that Tah Mahal relessed with Ry Cooder in his band. As others have mentioned in their reviews, it's an interesting hodge podge of British invasion influenced Rock 'n' Roll mixed with more blues based compositions.

Is this set perfect? No as there are some albums thst are better than others but the five stars is for the overall impact of the music. The box is handsomely packaged in a clamshell boxed with nice cardboard mini-LP versions of the original albums.

What is this set missing? A huge amount of essential music by Taj Mahal which will hopefully push newbies or those who have rediscovered Taj into digging through his extensive discography beyond this set since it leaves out a large amount of his work.

I saw this set on sale at the vendor table at the Hiatt/Mahal show in San Francisco recently. It made me wonder why John Hoatt's music has t received a similiar release as, with the mergers, most of John's music belongs to one company (the MCA/Geffen/A&M/Vanguard releases). The fact that Sony put out such a nice set only wets the appetite for all the unreleased material that might still be in the vault.

While this set comprises much of what many fans will have, it's an opportunity to buy it for someone else who might like the blues but never discovered the music of Taj Mahal and thinks that blues is limited to Keb' Mo' and Robert Cray. It will also open a world of previously undiscovered gems prior to Taj Mahal that might otherwise be forgotten. Taj Mahal is more than a link to Delta Blues and the combined elelemnts of other music forms be brought to the table. He was a master of many styles something rare and beautiful in a world interested in five minutes of fame and over blown ballads.

Highly recommended.

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