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HeavenWord Daily
HeavenWord Daily
Price: $0.00

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Opinionated, January 16, 2014
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This review is from: HeavenWord Daily (Kindle Edition)
After about 16 days, I'm ready to look for another devotion book. The writer spends time every day finding fault with Christians with whom he disagrees. After reading his comments on Matthew 16, and seeing that he judges with absolute certainty that this or that is figurative, even though different Bible-believing denominations see it differently, I see an inherent unwillingness in the author to respect any view but his own. It is one thing to have a point of view. It's another to look down on others or to simply say that they are wrong with no further explanation. There is also a rather legalistic emphasis on works as part of salvation that could easily cause a believer in Jesus to doubt whether he or she is headed for heaven. I would not recommend this book, unless you like being put back under the Law that Jesus paid so dearly to save you from. I do like reading a chapter of the New Testament each day, though.


Yamaha RX-A700 7.1-Channel Audio/Video Receiver (OLD VERSION) (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Yamaha RX-A700 7.1-Channel Audio/Video Receiver (OLD VERSION) (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
5 used & new from $370.00

3 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not sure what I'm missing here, September 5, 2011
This receiver is probably fine for home theater applications. The variety of inputs is also very good; but for audio, I love the listening experience from a well-recorded, well-produced CD or a high-bit-rate download. I got this receiver to use as a preamp for a B&K ST-140 power amp with Paradigm 9se speakers. I used to use an old Denon receiver (and a pretty inexpensive one) as a preamp. When a drum was hit, you could hear the reverb and even the change of pitch as the sound of the drum decayed. It was as though the drum was in the room with you. When a sax was played, you could hear spit on the reed. When a piano was played, you could hear which brand the piano was, if you were familiar enough. I want the clear, punchy, present sound I got from THAT system, and frankly the same B&K amp and Paradigm speakers with this Yamaha as a preamp sounds like a transistor radio by comparison. It sounds distant, flat, not at all dynamic and very underwhelming. So, I tried bypassing the B&K power amp and just hooked the speakers up to the Yamaha. Result is still flat, distant and extremely underwhelming. I'm returning it. Anyone know where I can find a decent two-channel preamp that isn't a million friggin' dollars?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 27, 2011 12:15 AM PST


Luther on Music: Paradigms of Praise
Luther on Music: Paradigms of Praise
by Carl Schalk
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.00
19 used & new from $8.97

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good research, but with some opinion, August 31, 2010
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I was a little surprised how small this book is. It is almost a pamphlet. However, it is interesting how important music was to the 16th-century church reformer, Martin Luther. Being Lutheran myself, and a musician, it is good to know that the founder of the church body considered music of the greatest importance, second only to theology for the church.

I will say, however that in the last chapter, he uses Luther's opinions to try to craft an indictment against contemporary worship. Personally, I prefer traditional worship music, as does Schalk, but I call it what it is, an opinion. My taste needs not suit everyone. The common accusation of traditionalists is that contemporary worshipers want to be "entertained." Sorry, that's not true of most. Many of us traditionalists prefer classical music, but no one accuses us of seeking to be entertained for using music that we like. I have participated in contemporary worship services and the people are only looking for music that suits their culture and expresses worship with a sound and a style that they see themselves expressing naturally. No one condemns African missionaries for utilizing music from the African culture. No one condemns Brazilian worshipers for using a South-American music style. So why is there such a propensity to try to show Christian Contemporary music as "wrong"? Indeed, some contemporary music and lyrics are vapid, but not all; and if you think about it, the music of many traditional hymns isn't exactly ground breaking. As many readers of this review may suspect, this is a big issue among many in the church. I do agree with Schalk that there is good reason to honor the Liturgy and the traditions of past generations (though I do not think that we have to do so in every worship situation). As Schalk points out, utilizing the Liturgy and music of past generations does connect us with believers that have gone before us. In a sense, we all worship together, which is a great comfort to those with loved ones that have died.

I will say that the discussion of contemporary worship was a very small section of the book. Overall, the book has great information and scholarship. Schalk himself is a very fine musician, composer and arranger; and the primary function of the book is to illustrate Luther's high opinion of worship music during a time when some believed that music was detrimental to Christianity. The implication for today is that we take music seriously, too and use it as a valuable tool to honor God in worship.


Going Home
Going Home
Price: $10.99
42 used & new from $4.35

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable, August 2, 2009
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This review is from: Going Home (Audio CD)
This is some top-notch jazz. First of all, there is wonderful interplay between these three very creative instrumentalists. Secondly, the recording is very clean and natural. Turn it up to the appropriate volume level and it sounds like they're in the room! The only drawback is the vocal on Homebody. After all of the top-notch instrumental musicianship, the singing is a little mediocre. Nothing against vocals in general. As an instrumentalist myself, I have grown to respect greatly the art of singing well. It's not easy. That's why I usually leave it to the vocalists. But, this is Bill Mays singing. He's not terrible, but his piano playing is way better. The last song is the only one with vocals, so it doesn't hurt the quality of the music much.


Basie Swings Bennett Sings
Basie Swings Bennett Sings
39 used & new from $0.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Swingin' but brief, March 2, 2009
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This is a great CD for any swing lover. Tony Bennett's voice is at it's best and Basie's band (as usual) swings like crazy. The only drawback is that the recording is very short for a CD (just over 30 minutes). Perhaps some alternate takes would have been a good idea here.


Live
Live
Offered by Marks Ear Candy
Price: $17.98
27 used & new from $12.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Great Band, but Live Rock Can Fall Short, June 24, 2008
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This review is from: Live (Audio CD)
I see that other reviewers think that this CD is 5-Star excellent, but I enjoy the studio recording more. The band is great, even without Mike Portnoy (Although I feel sorry for any rock drummer who has to fill his shoes). The drawback is that the production is not as crisp as the studio versions of the songs. The sound is a bit boomy. Also, Neal's vocals are (like most rock vocalists) not as precise or in tune when live as in the studio. Because things are so loud onstage, rock vocalists (Neil included) often push too hard and sound out of breath. It is not a bad CD. The band executes the material very well and the compositions are marvelous, but rock recordings just sound better in the studio; and live rock is best when you are there and can feel the chemistry.


Black & Blue
Black & Blue
Price: $10.79
48 used & new from $3.98

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elegant, Soulful and Powerful, June 24, 2008
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This review is from: Black & Blue (Audio CD)
I was driving around downtown Milwaukee in the summer of 1991, accompanied by a good friend, trying to find an exit out of downtown Milwaukee, and we happened to pass a commercial looking CD store; but in the corner of the window was a neon sign that said "Jazz Cellar." Being big jazz fans, we parked the car to check it out. The Jazz Cellar was an all-jazz CD shop in the basement of a more commercial shop. In it was an African-American gentleman smoking a cigar and listening to jazz. My kind of person! My friend and I started looking through the selection of CDs, when we looked at each other in wonderment of what was being played over the sound system. It was some of the most killer Blues and Gospel infested jazz we had ever heard. The pianist was just a-stankin' it up! It was this CD, Gene Harris' Black and Blue. We both asked to buy a copy on the spot, but it hadn't been released to the public yet. Well, we bought some other CDs to patronize the business, but made a point, when we got back home to Illinois, to look for this CD. It is still a staple of my CD listening rotation, over 16 years after I purchased it. I have since collected all of Gene's CDs since his comeback in the 1980s. It is also worth it to check Gene out with the Ray Brown trio. This CD however, is my favorite example of Gene's work.

The song, "Another Star" was originally a disco-styled Stevie Wonder tune from "Songs in the Key of Life," but the way Gene plays it, you'd think it was a swingin' jazz standard. Other notable tunes on the CD are "Black and Blue," in which Gene builds an amazing blues solo at a slow tempo; "Blue Bossa," which is done in a swing feel (I don't think Gene can NOT swing); and the amazing piano solo in "Will You Still Be Mine." Gene's powerful, yet clear-as-a-bell tone can overshadow the rest of the group, but it is worth mentioning that the guitarist, Ron Eschete plays some very tasty stuff too. Drummer Harold Jones and Bassist Luther Hughes don't get many solos, but they lay down a great swing feel. Being a jazz pianist myself, I transcribed Gene's solo on "Will You Still Be Mine." It took months, but I am proud to say that Gene's playing has influenced my own playing in a profound way. Buy this CD. It's a bargain and you'll never get tired of it.


Hollow
Hollow
17 used & new from $5.43

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Psycho-good, March 2, 2008
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This review is from: Hollow (Audio CD)
Little Atlas may be the best band you never heard of. I call this CD psycho-good its songs represent 10 different psychological states. Musically, I love the fact that there are so many ideas in the songs; which is typical of all of Little Atlas' music. They don't utilize a great number of musical instruments, but they do a lot with the ones they use (the usual rock instruments: guitar, bass, drums and synth, with some sax thrown in occasionally). They also use unpredictable chord progressions, but without compromising the natural tension and release that pushes music forward. Melodies are innovative, yet accessible. As you would imagine from the subject matter, the music shifts through lots of moods: high energy, low energy, jazzy, hard rock, keyboardy... a great potpourri of ideas, dynamics and time signatures. I would also strongly recommend one of their earlier releases "Surface Serene," though the songs are more abrupt in their moods shifts, causing some to say that the songs aren't as mature as those of this recording. One disclaimer: If you've never heard the band before, Steve Katsikas' voice may take a little getting used to. It is not bad and is not at all out of tune, but it has a rough, edgy, kind of Axel Rose quality. That said, I highly recommend this CD.


Ascension
Ascension
42 used & new from $0.48

11 of 26 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Emperor's New Clothes, January 25, 2008
This review is from: Ascension (Audio CD)
If you would like the sound of a bunch of two-year olds pounding on pianos or mutilating band instruments for 79 minutes, this might interest you. Actually, this is a band of musicians, most of whom I usually like, but this is pointless. I don't see how a bunch of random squeeks and noises from a bunch of instruments can be considered any kind of expression. How is this daring, as some have said? Couldn't just anyone do this? It strikes me that the people who say they get something out of this are like the people who admired the Emperor's New Clothes. I regret ever purchasing this stupid pointless waste of a CD. I wish I could give this zero stars.
Comment Comments (12) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 29, 2012 3:48 AM PST


Snakes & Arrows
Snakes & Arrows
Price: $6.99
112 used & new from $1.58

55 of 65 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Forward Movement Needed, January 2, 2008
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This review is from: Snakes & Arrows (Audio CD)
There are many positives about this recording. As always, the playing is great. Rush is a band of creative, skilled musicians; something we need more of these days. I also appreciate the variety of textures in each song. With only three band members, it can be easy to have the same sound all the time. This is clearly not the case with this recording. Geddy's singing, while it is not the reason people buy Rush CDs, is pretty good as well.

I was always a fan of "the good old days" of 2112, Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures, but I have always been open to what creative direction the group takes. There are a couple of issues I have with this recording, however, which were even more evident on the previous CD, Vapor Trails. The problem is that the music lacks direction. The songs are just "there" and don't seem to take the listener anywhere. In my analysis, there are two causes of this. First, the chords are not normally progressing chords that facilitate the tension and release that push music forward. Therefore, to establish the key they are in, they seem to return too often to the chord of the key they are in. The main chord in a key is always heard as a point of arrival. Since there are too many arrivals, there are too many places where any phrase could have ended, so the musical phrases seem to go on and on like a run-on sentence.

The other factor that contributes to the lack of direction in the music is the fact that there are virtually no silences in the songs. The volume and intensity level rarely breathe. It's like there is a constant underlying drone of sound in every song. Silences are needed to better set up accents and hits. Think of how well such silences are used in songs like the Overture on 2112, or Freewill (think of the phrase "I will choose freewill"), or "Show, Don't Tell," or "Xanadu," or "Limelight." Think of the changes of intensity in songs like "Cut to the Chase," "Territories," or "Virtuality." These are important ingredients in pushing music forward. A lot of fine musicians forget that silence is sometimes just as important as notes in music. So, as much as I want to like the recording, I can only give it 3 stars.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 22, 2012 6:34 PM PST


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