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Christmas of Love
Christmas of Love
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars That Keith Sweat style, but all about the Christmas mood, November 21, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Christmas of Love (Audio CD)
I've been a fan of Keith Sweat's since 1987 and, despite the occassional slight departure from his bass-heavy, keyboard-driven R&B style, his style has pretty much stayed the same, and that's a good thing. He has a tried and true style that's as entertaining and good as it was back in the late 1980s.
And that style is here on his Christmas album -- the sound's the same, but the topics are all about the holiday.
Some may not like that he doesn't perform such classics as "The Christmas Song" the traditional way, but given the familiarity of the old classic performances of such a song, it's good to hear that Keith Sweat just sang it in his style, rather than changing to mimic what we've already heard before and know full well.

Rescue Dawn
Rescue Dawn
DVD ~ Christian Bale
Offered by Media Favorites
Price: $6.19
208 used & new from $0.01

6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars OK movie, worth watching, November 20, 2007
This review is from: Rescue Dawn (DVD)
I saw this movie mainly because Christian Bale plays the lead, and it was worth watching, but it's solid entertainment, but not great, and doesn't warrant repeated viewings. It's more simple and straightforward than it could have been and feels like it was made for the laid-back moviegoer, not fans of war movies and/or serious filmmaking.
At times, some scenes felt as if they were straight out of a made-for-TV movie. There's no doubt that the POWs were in a stressful situation, but the film's direction doesn't make us feel it. It feels like actors playing the roles of soldiers in a POW camp -- you won't find much here along the lines of a "Platoon" or "Saving Private Ryan." In fact, you'll find some shades of "Top Gun," namely because Bale's character comes off as an overly easygoing, happy-go-lucky, almost goofy guy. Now, perhaps the real-life person he's playing was like that in real life (I have not seen the documentary by the same director), but it just doesn't feel right. I was reminded of Tom Cruise playing Tom Cruise the Actor.
So, it is worth renting, but not worth buying.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 21, 2007 8:14 PM PST

As I Am
As I Am
Offered by Big_Box_Bargains
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good, but Alicia Keys can do much better, November 17, 2007
This review is from: As I Am (Audio CD)
Alicia Keys still shows flashes of greatness, but three albums in, she's still just on the precipice of being great.
Now, compared to other current artists who are filed under R&B, Keys is great, and her albums are by far superior to the glut of CDs that have one catchy single designed to be a ringtone and an assortment of commercial filler tracks.
We know Keys can play the piano, we know she has talent (perhaps even overflowing), but that skill only shows itself in flashes on her studio CDs. If she weren't Keys, or if this were her first, then perhaps it would receive a 3 or 4 star.
For while it feels as if "As I Am" has more strong tracks than her previous two albums, listening to her new set of songs, it's hard to shake the nagging feeling that Keys can do better, much better.
Every song could be a winner -- and there are a number of winners here, including "No One," "Like You'll Never See Me Again," and "Lesson Learned."
But, whether it's her musical choice, or that of her producers and/or label, Keys makes commercial concession that keep the remaining songs from being in that same winning arena.
Like Keys herself, songs such as "The Thing About Love" are on the edge of greatness, looking up, but instead they slide down slowly, away from the top.
"Love" shows some old-school roots, starting out as what may sound like an interesting foray into music's past, but, in a society which still has "American Idol" when she tries to get powerful, it's hard not to think of the overbloated, overemoting contestants who come from the Whitney Houston school of singing, who seem to think that singing high and loud and hitting high notes is substitution for passion.
That's not to say that Keys is like that, but Keys is so talented that she shouldn't be dwelling anywhere near such a comparison.
The intro, unfortunately, shows exactly where Keys and her new album is at.
All you first hear is her playing just the piano, then a rather generic sounding hip-hop beat comes in, and it sounds like she was playing piano when sounds from the next studio snuck their way onto her recording.
As long as Keys feels stuck with, or is forced to use, hip-hop beats with her classic R&B style, she's not going to get to the next level.
Perhaps, ironically, she should take some tips from Kanye West, who uses rap as his foundation but is always trying to push the genre further and yet does it with great vision and without alienating rap fans, not the most easy thing to do, given Keys' struggles to make that one, great album.

Offered by mirmedia_movies_and_music
Price: $5.66
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7 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars More consistent than Seal IV, but lacks emotion of first three releases, November 15, 2007
This review is from: System (Audio CD)
When I heard that Seal was going back to the dance style of his debut, I was a little more excited than usual, especially after the Motown-like departure that was his previous album.
And while his latest album isn't bad, it's doesn't have the emotional depth that his first three albums rode on.
There are no songs that touch the heart or mind here, and perhaps that's due to the fact that the music buying public has changed drastically, that one's goal seems to be to make songs that can become ringtones, rather than making quality music, and also that this is his first album not overseen by longtime producer Trevor Horn.
If it weren't Seal, this maybe a good, solid dance album, but this is Seal, who could move listeners with acoustic or even a cappella songs by just opening his mouth to sing.
A lot of the songs here sound similar, too similar, as if he and his new producer made all the backing tracks in one continuous session, and then later, they wrote lyrics and just sang them over the tracks.
Sometimes Seal has bordered on sentimentality, but never has he been so shallow and downright shallow as on "Wedding Day." It's long been the case that when an artist gets married, the music suffers, not because of his/her time being taken up, but because, unfortunately for the artist, happiness often doesn't translate into moving music.
The second big problem with this album, after its glaring lack of SEAL heart and emotion, is that the tracks are almost all interchangeable. You could switch the vocal tracks from music track to track and we probably wouldn't know the difference.
The tracks are repetitive to the point of lacking any sort of soul, and are just, sadly for a Seal album, very shallow.
Even though it's trying to be like a sequel to his first album, the tracks on his debut, even with thumping dance sounds and electronic flourishes, there was no denying Seal's passion and ability to move with the seemingly most simple of phrases, bridges or breaks. There was drama within those songs, and that ability to dramatize and emote carried him through those first three albums.
But, as at least one other person mentioned, once his great album "Human Beings" didn't sell as well as the others, Seal went commercial.
Human Beings is his crowning achievement, but the flavor-of-the-month masses didn't get it. Many of the songs on it are hypnotic, the sounds bordering on an underwater dub style, and the insights deep, and the sounds as intriguing as the cover shot of Seal either lurking and creeping or cowering in a defensive stance.
It was quiet, subdued, patient and artistic, but the masses wanted more power-type ballads from Seal, but instead they received an artistic response with depth and the same Seal emotion and they didn't accept it.
So here we are, after a more commercial offering and a change in producers and even with his voice on "System," it's hard to say, but almost anyone could have sang these new songs, and the same reaction would be reached.
Seal will hopefully find his way back to heart-and-mind tugging music....
Maybe, one late night, he'll play "Human Beings" and come home.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 16, 2007 10:04 AM PST

Price: $14.99
39 used & new from $8.36

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Feelings, September 30, 2007
This review is from: Radio (Audio CD)
While Kymani has shown himself, on his two previous albums and this one as well, to be the most vocally talented Marley kid, here he taps once again into the hip-hop/R&B meets reggae style on "The Journey." On his second album, "Many More Roads," he tapped more into roots reggae and dancehall.
Here, on "Radio," it seems he's focusing on hip-hop radio. "Play I on the R&B, want for my people to see...." his father Bob Marley once sang.
Kymani seems to be singing a very similar line on his latest CD.
And it's all solid, and despite opening heavily with hip-hop production and using it throughout the CD (think a more mature, confident version of the sounds on "The Journey"), his roots do still come through, most notably in his voice, which, like most of the Marley sons, sounds like Bob Marley's.
So, while it's commendable for Kymani to branch out musically and not rest on his father's laurels, it still sounds like a Marley son singing, but just over other beats and rhythms.
And that's not a knock, but rather stating it simply, all the Marley sons in music (although except Damian Marley) can't help but sound like Bob.
And if you haven't heard Kymani do Bob Marley covers, he seems to sound the most like Bob.
Yet, having said that, if anyone Marley kid could capably sing over different styles of music, it's Kymani, as he's shown he can handle singing, dancehall toasting and love songs all equally well. He even raps, but that Marley voice is so distinctive, it sounds like he's talking.
And it's probably when he starts to rap that the album falls from the sky, because it sounds like he's merely mimicking the glut of tough-guy thug/hustler types that still fills the rap CD shelves and downloads.
And, for seemingly the first time, a Marley kid is regularly using a well-known four-letter curse word throughout some songs.
And the first time it's heard from his mouth, the effect is almost shocking and a letdown in that it just sounds like Kymani is taking on the persona that got the likes of Tupac, Biggie, Jam-Master Jay and other rap artists killed.
And in that vein, "Ghetto Soldier" and "One Time" sound like the bloody curse-word filled bookends to the same story that one's heard on many a CD.
And, unfortunately, the tales of gun-toting, gun-shooting and violence sound like fairy tales coming from Kymani's mouth. Perhaps he's just taking on the persona of the character he played in the movie "Shottas," but isn't that the road that Tupac chose, following the path of his character Bishop in "Juice"? Perhaps if Kymani chose this way back in the 90s (which he did a little back on The Journey) it wouldn't be as disconcerting and disappointing, but in a seeming upward rebound to more socially conscious themes in rap and more positive messages, Kymani's new thug persona brings a frown to my face.
Yes, the problems are the same, and maybe getting worse in some cities, but Kymani's gun-toting tales aren't salves.
That point aside, Kymani shows he's still the strongest love song singer of the Marley kids.
Bottomline, if you liked "The Journey," then you'll like "Radio," but, if not, and you're more a fan of "Many More Roads," then this is not a must-purchase. There are still a couple spiritual songs here (most notably "I Pray") that the Marley faithful will enjoy, but you'll do a lot of skipping over the thug portrayals and R&B-fueled love songs.

Lucky You
Lucky You
DVD ~ Drew Barrymore
Price: $4.13
255 used & new from $0.01

8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I'm all in for "Lucky You," which got bad hand from moviegoers, July 23, 2007
This review is from: Lucky You (DVD)
"Lucky You" received a bad hand from the studio, many critics and the moviegoing audience. On the shelf for about two years, and opened (or, to be honest, "dumped") the same weekend as "Spider-Man 3," it was rather given up on by the studio, but "Lucky You," a poker movie that could have benefitted from being released when poker's popularity was at its apex, is unlike most movies based on current trend in that it is a good, little movie.
While the romantic angle (between Eric Bana and Drew Barrymore) might not set off many fireworks, the story of a poker player (played by Bana) whose "job" is playing poker and who, as his father says, plays poker as he should lead his life, and leads his life as he should play poker, pulls one in (especially if they enjoy poker).
In a time when most movies are sequels or remakes of TV shows or older movies, "Lucky You" is an original that focuses on the relationships between son and estranged father, and even though the son (Bana) can't forgive his father (played by Robert Duvall) for using and abandoning his mother, he commits the same things in his own relationships with women.
He's emotional and more freewheeling in his poker playing, and yet he holds things close to the chest and is exploitative and even cold in his person-to-person relationships.
That may sound boring to those moviegoers weaned on a diet of CGI, action and dramatic sequences merely as the thin thread between action cinematography, but something about it had me go to the theaters three times to see it.
Perhaps the protagonist is much like us, the common people -- he's not perfect, we see that the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree, and by story's end, he makes a change, but only by degrees.... he's not a changed person, but a slightly smarter one, who learns to cut loose some emotional baggage that he'd been lugging around with him, hampering both his poker playing and his relationships.
At times, the movie feels like a small brochure for Vegas, (and that's NOT a bad thing) as Bana rides about on his motorcycle on the Strip at night, and we see a diner here, a Chinese restaurant there, a small nightclub over here, and a number of hotel-casinos, but it's all entertaining, as we see him go from hotel to hotel, and even a golf course, all in his journey to get a seat at the World Series of Poker, of which, his father is a two-time winner.
Much of the drama takes place at the poker table (whether it's on green felt, or across a pharmacy diner table), and it's played realistically (no multiples of great hands during one deal).
It may not have the polish of Curtis Hanson's other movies, but it didn't deserve to be shelved either and thrown in a cage with Spider-Man, but it has an emotional pull (and some light funny moments that will bring a smile to your face).
It's better than the sum of its parts and has the right blend of drama and atmosphere that will have me going back to the table for another deal.
When other movies choose to play things big and loud, Lucky You plays things small and close to the heart, and is a winning hand because of it.

Price: $13.13
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48 of 65 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Came looking for the score....., July 9, 2007
This review is from: Transformers (Audio CD)
Like many others here, I came looking for the "Transformers" score, only to find one in a line of yet another so-called "soundtrack" that is basically a sampler put out by a company to package well-known, established groups with lesser or unknown ones.
Very few soundtracks these days even have songs that fit thematically, musically or lyrically into the film. I can only think of one recent soundtrack that does have songs that work as much as orchestral tracks (and that is "Miami Vice," the Michael Mann movie). But back to "Transformers," the score reminded me very much of the "Batman Begins" score composed by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard, but with a little bit more punch. It sounded so mch like some of the "Batman Begins" tracks, that I thought Zimmer and/or Newton Howard were behind it.
I wonder if the score will be released later on, as does happen.
But, no, I'm not going to buy the latest record-company sampler, I prefer music that actually fits the name of the movie it resides under.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 7, 2011 12:21 PM PST

Many More Roads
Many More Roads
Offered by newbury_comics
Price: $10.99
24 used & new from $0.01

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not the most well-known Marley, but Ky-mani's the most skilled vocalist, March 25, 2007
This review is from: Many More Roads (Audio CD)
In terms of popularity, Ky-mani Marley may be far behind the likes of eldest brother Ziggy, Stephen and even little brother Damian, but he's the best vocalist of the singing Marley kids. Ziggy and Stephen, as talented as they are, seem to lean far too heavily on the Bob Marley-isms, especially Stephen. And Damian, while seemingly the most popular Marley nowadays, is arguably the least talented -- putting out albums with solid music backing thanks to brother Stephen, but his vocal delivery is OK at best.

Now, with Ky-mani, while not as prolific as Ziggy, I can envision him as being a singer in his own right, Marley name or not. I can't say the same of the others.

The Marley kids have their strengths.

Ziggy writes strong songs, but his voice is so much like his father's that it's hard to discern his own voice, and it just doesn't seem he has ever found a sound of his own, and maybe that's through no fault of his own -- as he has been branching out musically lately.

And Stephen, as good as his production chops are, he's nowhere near as good a lyrics-writer, and his vocals seem all over the place, imitating Bob Marley more than Ziggy ever did.

And Damian leans on dancehall toasting, at which he's OK, but I still wonder if he'd have the opportunity if, first, he didn't have the Marley name, and didn't have Stephen's production backing.

*(Julian, unfortunately to say, seems to be mostly an imitation of both Bob and Ziggy, and you'd see him if you couldn't catch Ziggy, Stephen or Ky-mani performing)

But Ky-mani, to use Jamaican parlance, has the "sweetest" vocals of the Marley brood. His voice, while still reminiscent of father Bob's, has a timber to it and subtle vibrancy to it, like it's a cloth made of finer threads.

Whereas Ziggy and Stephen's vocals still seem rough, and even flat at times, Ky-mani brings true melody, musicality and dexterity with his singing.

I saw him performing live recently, and his on-stage performance was right up there with the best two or three reggae concerts I've seen.

And he can play funky, play roots, play dancehall and sing lovers rock, going from each style with ease (and sometimes back and forth between two styles within the same song, check out "Hailie I" on this CD), whereas Ziggy is good with the straightforward voice of indignation and conscience, but rather lacking when it comes to the love-themed songs. And Stephen is better at the love songs than Ziggy, and also good at indignation, but he's lacking when it comes to the social-conscience songs, stumbling while trying to deliver strong messages.

But with Ky-mani, just hear how he goes from the rooted indignation of

"Who We Are" to the roots of title-track "Many More Roads," and to the lovers-rock style of "Love In The Morning," all equally convincing. And when I saw him perform live, I learned he can handle dancehall booming vocals more convincingly than Damian, for whom dancehall toasting is his bread and butter. (Check out "In A De Dance" on this CD, where he delivers a gruff vocal style, reminiscent of Buju Banton, but with Ky-mani's vocal ability)

It's truly a shame that more people don't know about Ky-mani, but I guess that makes it easier for us, his fans, to see him play. ;)

Ziggy has the elder brother status and voice of wisdom, Stephen the production know-how, Julian the Ziggy-like and Bob-like mannerisms and affectations, and Damian the toasting bravado, but Ky-mani's got the vocal dexterity and skill, something the others can't claim. With a new album due out sometime soon, hopefully Ky-mani will gain recognition for being much more than just "another Marley son."

Mind Control
Mind Control
Price: $6.99
79 used & new from $1.95

0 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Solid, mostly no-frills reggae, with but one weakness, March 21, 2007
This review is from: Mind Control (Audio CD)
Stephen Marley finally releases his first solo album, after years of largely playing the background to elder brother Ziggy, the primary songwriter during their time in Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers.

Stephen kept on growing musically, taking on more lead vocal duties, and showing stronger writing on the Melody Maker albums.

And for the past few years, after Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers "broke up," Stephen delved more into production, namely pushing Damian Marley (arguably the least talented Marley kid) into the spotlight -- if it weren't for Stephen's production skills, Damian would just be a lacking m.c., trying to toast over weak beats.

I've been waiting for Stephen's solo album (once called Got Music? and with a different number of songs), and it's solid, but its primary weakness is that the lyrics are very straightforward, with little nuance or artistry. They almost seem rushed, or half-hearted, reminiscent, in a way, of when Bob Marley laid down "Rastaman Vibration," which has many songs with overly simple verses... but Bob's excuse was that he was very busy on many fronts, including politics.

And Stephen, while he can mimic Bob Marley's singing style very well, has yet to find his own voice. But perhaps that will come with time. Given it's his first solo album, it's a strong first effort, and gives him room to grow now that his first one is out of the way.

He needs to bolster his lyrics, as he has his musical chops.

Ziggy has long shown writing skill, even on the early albums on EMI, and on the Melody Makers' commercial breakthrough album, "Conscious Party," he was already showing a skill nearly on level with his father, although lacking the first-person perspective his father had with issues of poverty, racism, inequality, etc.

So, as much as Stephen sings like his father did, he has yet to find his own voice and his own lyrical style. Now in the spotlight, and away from the shelter of Ziggy's frontman status, he needs to step out from both his father's shadow, and Ziggy's shadow and find himself, as Ziggy did before him. And hopefully, Stephen will.

Hot One
Hot One
31 used & new from $0.01

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars OK, fun rock CD with message, but could use Emm Gryner lead vocals, December 30, 2006
This review is from: Hot One (Audio CD)
When I first heard that Emm Gryner was part of this CD, I thought about getting it. It seems hard to find at stores, but that gave me more time to listen to the samples here, and as much as I wanted to like a CD that Gryner's a part of, I just couldn't get myself to buy it. I eventually found it at a book store, and considered buying it, but I decided to listen to the samples one more time, and the songs are only OK, and Nathan Larson sings lead on every single track. His voice isn't bad per se, but it just isn't all too good, not good enough for all the tracks anyway. I grew tired of his vocal delivery about halfway through, wanting to hear Emm Gryner handle lead on at least half of the tracks... her voice is nothing to sneeze at, and arguably better than Larson's. I could better imagine Gryner putting on a better rock snarl than Larson.

Larson, perhaps, should have put his ego aside, and Gryner should have stepped up to the mike. Otherwise, her vocals are wasted as background flavor. What a misstep, having her on lead would have given this CD another angle, another sound, but instead, it's a Nathan Larson show. He's better suited to his low-key songs on his solo albums. Gryner has shown she can rock harder.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 22, 2008 1:20 PM PDT

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