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Thread: Trollheart's Album Review Thread

  1. #1
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
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    Aug 2019
    Where the sour turns to sweet

    Trollheart's Album Review Thread

    I'm just going to keep all my album reviews here. I enjoy a pretty diverse taste in music, so expect to see just about anything here. Feel free to comment on or discuss any of the albums I post here, and if there's an album you'd like my opinion on, let me know and I'll see what I can do.

    Note: As I'm running other threads in which I will be also posting album reviews, I'm going to include links for them here in the main index. Just be aware that if you click on an album by, say, Iron Maiden or Tom Waits you will be taken into that thread.

    Disclaimer: all the reviews here, all the sentiments expressed and all the opinions advanced are my own personal ones, and may not tally with yours. These are subjective reviews, not objective, as music is rarely, if ever, objective. No insult or offence is intended to anyone whose music may receive a negative review here, but at all times, as always, I will endeavour to present every review respectfully and fairly.

    I have a lot of albums to post, so I'll be keeping an index here, so anyone who wishes can search it and jump directly to the album they're interested in.


    The Adventures - The Sea of Love
    a-ha - Analogue

    a-ha - Scoundrel Days
    Alesana - A Place Where the Sun is Silent

    Amon Duul II - Phallus Dei
    Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe - Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe
    Angel Witch - Angel Witch
    Angel Witch - Frontal Assault

    Asia - Aura

    Asia - Rare
    Axxis - Paradise in Flames
    Balance of Power - Perfect Balance
    The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
    The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
    The Beatles - Abbey Road
    Big Country - No Place Like Home
    The Black Atlantic - Darkling, I Listen
    Blue Sky Riders - Finally Home
    Bon Iver - Bon Iver
    Bowie, David - Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)
    Brainbox - Brainbox
    Laura Branigan - Branigan
    Break My Fucking Sky - Final Breath
    Brown, Sam - Stop!
    The Byrds - Fifth Dimension
    Captain Beefheart - Safe as Milk
    Captain Beefheart - Trout Mask Replica
    Caravan - Caravan
    Cash, Rosanne - The River and the Thread
    Cave, Nick - The Good Son
    Tracy Chapman - Tracy Chapman
    China Crisis - Flaunt the Imperfection
    Clannad - Lore
    Cloven Hoof - Cloven Hoof
    Cloven Hoof - Dominator
    Cloven Hoof - A Sultan's Ransom
    Cloven Hoof - Eye of the Sun

    The Coronas - Closer To You
    Decker, Jessie James - Gold
    Del Amitri - Waking Hours
    The Divine Comedy - Casanova
    Dixie Chicks - Taking the Long Way
    Dragonforce - Inhuman Rampage
    Eagles - Desperado
    Earle, Justin Townes - Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now
    Earle, Steve - Copperhead Road
    Eden Shadow - Hail
    Edison's Children - In the Last Waking Moments
    Edwards, Kathleen - Voyageur
    Electric Light Orchestra - Face the Music
    Embrace - Out of Nothing
    Evership - Evership
    Fagen, Donald - The Nightfly
    Fairport Convention - Liege and Lief
    Family - Music in a Doll's House
    Filkins, Sean - War and Peace and Other Short Stories
    Genesis - From Genesis to Revelation
    Giles, Giles and Fripp - The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles and Fripp
    Gray, David - White Ladder
    Griffith, Nanci - Lone Star State of Mind
    Groban, Josh - Closer
    Hall, Daryl - Three Hearts In the Happy Ending Machine
    Hawkwind - Onward
    Hill, Faith - Cry
    Holst, Gustav - The Planets Suite
    Hughes, Gary - Once and Future King, Part 1
    Hughes, Gary - Once and Future King, Part 2
    Illusive Mind - Alternating Scenes
    Iron Maiden - Iron Maiden
    Iron Maiden - Killers
    Iron Maiden - The Number of the Beast
    It's a Beautiful Day - It's a Beautiful Day
    Jarre, Jean Michel - Oxygene
    Jethro Tull _ This Was
    Journey - Escape
    Journey - Arrival
    King, Carole - Tapestry
    King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King
    Lane, Lana - Lady Macbeth
    The Maccabees - Given to the Wild
    Martin, Marilyn - This Is Serious
    McKee, Maria - Maria McKee
    Millenium - Ego
    The Moody Blues - Days of Future Passed
    The Moody Blues - In Search of the Lost Chord
    The Moody Blues - On the Threshold of a Dream
    The Moody Blues - To Our Children's Children's Children
    Moore, Christy - Ordinary Man
    Mostly Autumn - Storms Over Still Water
    The Mothers of Invention - Freak Out!
    The Mothers of Invention - We're Only in It for the Money
    The Mothers of Invention - Uncle Meat
    Muse - Black Holes and Revelations
    Mystery - One Among the Living
    The Nice - The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack
    The Nice - Ars Longa, Vita Brevis
    Night Ranger - Dawn Patrol
    Nine Stones Close - One Eye On the Sunrise
    Nolan, Clive with Wakeman, Oliver - The Hound of the Baskervilles
    Pandora's Box - Original Sin -
    Pink Floyd - The Dark Side of the Moon
    Pink Floyd - The Endless River
    Pink Floyd - The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
    Pink Floyd - A Saucerful of Secrets
    Pink Floyd - Ummagumma
    Pistol Annies - Hell on Heels
    Praying Mantis - Time Tells No Lies
    Praying Mantis - Predator in Disguise

    The Pretty Things - S.F. Sorrow
    Procol Harum - Procol Harum
    Procol Harum _ Shine on Brightly
    Quatro, Suzi - Quatro
    Rafferty, Gerry - Snakes and Ladders
    Rainbow - Rising
    Raven - Rock Until You Drop
    Raven - All for One

    Rea, Chris - Dancing Down the Stony Road
    Redemption - This Mortal Coil
    Renaissance - Renaissance
    Ribeiro, Catherine - Catherine Ribeiro + 2 BIS
    Savatage - The Wake of Magellan
    The Script - Science and Faith
    Seger, Bob - Like a Rock
    Sexton, Charlie - Pictures for Pleasure
    Shatner, William - Has Been
    SKY - SKY 2
    Soft Machine - The Soft Machine
    Soft Machine - Volume Two
    Spears, Britney - Britney Jean
    Springsteen, Bruce - Nebraska
    Stewart, Al - Time Passages
    Stewart, Rod - Time
    Supertramp - Supertramp
    Supertramp - Some Things Never Change
    The Ten Tenors - Here's to the Heroes
    The The - Mind Bomb
    Thin Lizzy - Thunder and Lightning
    Thin Lizzy - Shades of a Blue Orphanage
    Turner, Tina - Break Every Rule
    The United States of America - The United States of America
    The Vampires of Dartmoore - Dracula's Music Cabinet
    Van der Graaf Generator - The Aerosol Grey Machine
    Vangelis - L'Apocalypse des Animaux
    Vangelis - Oceanic
    Various Artists - "Cobra" OST
    Various Artists - "Little Shop of Horrors" OST
    Various Artists - "Top Gun" OST
    The Velvet Underground and Nico - The Velvet Underground and Nico
    Venom - Welcome to Hell
    Venom - Black Metal
    Venom - At War with Satan
    Venom - Cast in Stone

    Visage - Hearts and Knives
    Waits, Tom - Closing Time
    Waits, Tom - The Heart of Saturday Night
    Waits, Tom - Nighthawks at the Diner
    Waits, Tom - Small Change
    Waits, Tom - Foreign Affairs
    Waits, Tom - Blue Valentine
    Waits, Tom - Heartattack and Vine
    Waits, Tom with Crystal Gayle - One from the Heart OST
    Waits, Tom - Swordfishtrombones
    Waits, Tom - Rain Dogs
    Waits, Tom - Frank's Wild Years
    Waits, Tom - Night on Earth OST
    Waits, Tom - Bone Machine
    Waits, Tom - The Early Years, Volume 1
    Waits, Tom - The Early Years, Volume 2
    Waits, Tom - The Black Rider
    Waits, Tom - Mule Variations
    Wayne, Jeff - Musical Version of "The War of the Worlds"
    When Bitter Spring Sleeps - Coven of the Wolves
    Williams, Robbie - Take the Crown
    Willowglass- The Dream Harbour
    Wilson, Steven - Grace for Drowning
    Winwood, Steve - Arc of a Diver
    Yes - Union
    Yes - Yes
    Yoakam, Dwight - Buenos Noches from a Lonely Room
    Young, Neil - Harvest
    Zappa, Frank - Hot Rats
    Last edited by Trollheart; October 20th, 2019 at 08:09 PM.
    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989

    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

  2. #2
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
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    Aug 2019
    Where the sour turns to sweet

    Last edited by Trollheart; October 7th, 2019 at 09:16 PM.
    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989

    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

  3. #3
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Where the sour turns to sweet
    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989

    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

  4. #4
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Where the sour turns to sweet
    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989

    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

  5. #5
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Where the sour turns to sweet
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    The Planets suite, Op. 32 --- Gustav Holst --- 1926 (Decca)

    Note: the disc I have of this symphony is of course not from the twenties, or anywhere near it; not least due to their being no compact discs at that time, barely vinyl! But I've gone for this date because it appears to be the first time the suite was committed to any sort of actual proper recording for the mass market, and the work itself actually dates back to about 1917.

    This is the first time I have ever attempted to review a classical album. Some purists might say, and they may be right, that classical music stands outside the norm, beyond review; that it cannot be compared to anything that exists today and therefore it should not be subject to any sort of attempt at criticism. This may very well be true, but it won't stop me trying this from time to time. If I had pick out a favourite from my classical albums, this would be it, closely followed by Rachmaninov's "Piano Concerto No. 1". Many classical recordings, while truly brilliant, can I find suffer from some tedious passages, some boring bits where maybe an extended piece of chamber music wanders on for so many minutes you lose interest, or a horn concerto just won't shut up, and you begin to think about skipping forward.

    That's probably why for most people, collections of classical music are the best thing to listen to, and why series like “The Great Composers” sell so well; people in general want to hear the classical music they like, and are familiar with - those tunes that have made their way into everyday life through the media of advertisements, film soundtracks or even those that have been sampled for pop songs (we all remember William Orbit's version of Samuel Barber's mournful “Adagio For Strings”, and even if we aren't familiar with that, we probably know the piece from its use in the movie Platoon) - and are reluctant, loath even, to listen to classical music they don't know.

    But this is one of the rare classical albums where everything slots perfectly into place, even for a non-classical fan, if you're one of those. It's not overlong, it keeps the interest and it has a recurring theme running right through it. It is, in essence, a classical concept album, of which there are probably more than you would think, but this is possibly the most famous, or at least the most popular and well-known.

    It deals, of course, with the planets in our solar system, but not in an astronomical way. The suite is more based on astrology, which was a subject Gustav Holst (1874-1934) was very much interested in. Although the opener ties in with the Roman mythology surrounding that planet, it seems that in astrology too, Mars is identified with war and combat. From what I read, Holst was none too enamoured of the perhaps unexpected fame his Planets suite gained, complaining that it overshadowed his other works, and to be fair, I know of none other of his material, though there is a large body of work left behind by him. But he will, for better or for worse, always be known and remembered for this suite of music.

    Even if you're not in the slightest bit interested in classical music, you will almost certainly have heard the opening movement, “Mars, The Bringer Of War.” If you've watched a sci-fi movie wherein there is a space battle, if you've watched a war movie or any other sort of drama where powerful, ominous music swells into a cacophony of pulsating, thumping drums and strings, you've heard this. If you're a fan of Diamond Head, it's used in the intro to “Am I evil?”, and in fact many metal bands will have used it as introductory music as they come out on stage. It's also used when there is an important football match, rugby match or indeed any sport where the stakes are high and two well-matched opponents face off against each other. It is the epitome of power and tension, and as an opener there couldn't be a better one.

    I'm not that familiar with all the instruments used in an orchestra, so I may get some wrong, guess at some, but I'll do my best. There's definitely a low organ sound as the piece gets moving, introducing the first movement which soon builds up with heavy percussion, strings and woodwinds until the whole thing is in danger of blowing out your speakers. For such a heavy piece, it starts deceptively low, so if you don't know it and are playing it for the first time, take my advice: don't turn up the speakers because you can't hear it at first. You will, as it goes on, believe me. A real fanfare of trumpets and horns brings the thing to a hammerpunch ending, almost, as the drums crash behind it and everything fades away for a moment, before violins and cellos rise again behind the organ and the drums finally thunder in to take the first movement to its almost apocalyptic conclusion (this is where you'll regret having turned up your amp so loud, and will rush to decrease the volume). “Mars,The Bringer Of War” certainly gives that flavour, the idea of an army marching to battle, the scent of blood in men's nostrils, the banners held aloft in the morning sun, or indeed a fleet of ships traversing the sea on the way to engage the enemy. Tanks rolling across muddy flats, helicopters zooming in over jungle fortresses - take your pick: “Mars, The Bringer Of War” anthropomorphises combat and leaves you in no doubt that the very God of War himself is in attendance.

    As it punches to its end, the drums rolling out the cataclysmic ending, we slip into “Venus, The Bringer Of Peace”. The absolute antithesis to the previous track, this opens with soft viola and cello, sweetly humming organ and no percussion (or very little), flutes piccolos and oboes carrying the tune until a lovely laid back violin section drifts in, and indeed you may have heard this too, as it has been used in various films - or at least parts of it - usually in some sort of idyllic scene, which is exactly the image it conjures up. The horns get a little louder, the tiniest bit more forceful before the soft violin returns, accompanied by some beautiful brass and what sounds like a celesta.

    The delicate notes of a harp pick their way through the melody as the piece reaches its halfway point, fading away almost as soon as they make their presence known, the violins now joined by cello and viola as the string section takes charge, and you can't help but relax in the luxuriant atmosphere created by this piece of music. The harp returns, the celesta chimes along and the violin as ever carries the tune. Some lovely little tinkling bells accompany the strings as the piece fades to its conclusion, taking in the shortest track of only seven on the album.

    Upbeat, bright strings carry “Mercury, The Winged Messenger” in on indeed feather-light feet, the woodwinds coming up a little in the background, harp strings adding to the tune before solo piccolo (or maybe just a flute) takes the melody, then the strings come in very heavily as the piece gets louder and more insistent, before everything fades out back to the somewhat playful intro we heard, the kind of music that might remind the older among us of those Hanna-Barbera cartoons. There's a flurry of violins then, some xylophone and some bells before the track sort of fades out, like one of those will-o-the-wisps dancing over the marshes and disappearing into the fog.

    Coming in very strongly then with powerful percussion and heavy violin and woodwind, certainly the most uptempo and powerful movement since “Mars”, “Jupiter, The Bringer Of Jollity” is another one you may have heard. In some ways it is similar to parts of Holst's countryman Elgar's “Enigma Variations”, particularly "Nimrod". There's a real sense of fiesta and joy about this piece, with its almost dancy rhythm (for the time), the sense of going around and around in a circle until heavy trumpets and trombones combine with solid drums to take the piece towards a more restrained, piccolo-led part and then into a stately, almost grave largo, harp and cello keeping counterpoint while the violins and brass carry the main tune.

    It all breaks down then into another playful flute run with attendant viola before the trumpets and horns pull the movement towards its powerful, triumphant conclusion, a real fanfare that draws back in the stately march from earlier in the piece, more happy flutes and violins and then almost silence before the brass fanfares bring us back into the original rhythmic dance from near the beginning, which gets faster and faster, like someone spinning around until they get dizzy. A final fanfare and the drums break in heavily, leaving the trumpets to blare out the triumphant ending.

    Holst's own favourite, such as that he had one, in the suite was reported to be “Saturn, The Bringer Of Old Age”. It opens on low, ominous organ and bells, like the very approach of advancing age itself, with solo violin and then cello, a celesta keeping the slow heartbeat rhythm going, lower, more bassy cello then slowly approaching violins giving way to walking trumpets and trombone, then the strings soaring in a quite beautiful but grave way. This is in fact the longest of the compositions, coming in at just over eight and a half minutes. There's a very ominous feel about this piece, much more even than in the first movement. There at least, in war, one has a chance to survive if they can, but who can stand against the rigours of old age?

    Swirling, frenetic violins are drawn in by heavy timpani and bass drums, and a sense of panic pervades the piece, then it all drops back to a slow and stately walk by the violins and clarinets too, with a glockenspiel and harp taking the tune as it gets much softer, sweet violins adding in to the mood, before it all goes dark and bassy again as the music swells against tubular bells, pealing out like those of a church or in a graveyard, ending on gorgeous, rising strings which fade away, almost as if ascending to the very heavens themselves, the tolling bell giving one last peal before it too dies away.

    “Uranus, The Magician” comes in on powerful horns and thundering drums, then stops as flutes and violins reminiscent of those in “Saturn” fly in, making the piece a little more whimsical, some glockenspiel and xylophone adding in to the percussive elements, before it all swells back up again in a powerful crescendo, riding along like a wave on the ocean, then crashing back down again and leaving the piccolos and flutes to carry things until heavy percussion and horns again come in, leading another heavy charge with a very militaristic theme. Definitely a sense of something going on, a sense of purpose. Brass plays a fairly strong part in this movement, as does the xylophone, if only heard in the background, but clearly, and adding a strong flavour to the piece.

    It ends on a powerful explosion of brass woodwind and percussion, then in the fourth minute of its almost six goes quiet, with soft flutes and violin, until the horns again power in, along with the drums, one more time, making their point before the piece is left to finish on a fade out of celesta and flutes. And this takes us into the last movement, the closer, and the hardest of them all to review.

    “Neptune, The Mystic” has been described as the closest to abstract painting that music can offer, and indeed it's very atmospheric, with no percussion, low trumpets and harp carrying the movement in an almost ethereal way, the very forerunner of ambient music, more than forty years before anyone would attempt such a thing. Spacey, eerie harp and celesta takes over mostly from the second minute of the piece, with some low violin coming in as it heads towards minute four, then the only vocal parts on the suite come in, a female choral vocal, otherworldly and ghostly, almost merging with the music. And these are human voices: synthesisers had not been even thought of, never mind invented, in Holst's time. From about the fifth minute then, of the total seven and a half, the movement begins fading down, borne on the lightest of touches on the harp, the violin and the slowly fading voices of the female chorus. Eventually, all we're left with is the celesta, swirling and tinkling its way to the end like some sort of early signal being sent into, or from, deepest space.

    It's hard to write a footnote to something as seminal as this. There are albums I like, albums I love and albums I rate as being essential to listen to. But if you never listen to any classical albums in your life, you should really listen to this. As I say, unlike many others I've listened to, the interest never drops; it's not overlong, nor too short. Each piece meshes perfectly with the next and the one that preceded it, and each movement gives you a unique picture of each of the planets, astrologically speaking. Why is Earth not included, you ask? Apparently because, seen as it was as the “base” from which Holst was writing, in astrological terms it has no value, and so he did not write a movement for it. As for Pluto, well, that would not be discovered until four years after his death. Of course, this century it would be “decomissioned”, as it were, no longer recognised as a true planet.

    So all those years ago, almost a century now in fact, Holst had it right with just the eight planets, seven if you exclude Earth, which he did. But seven, eight or nine, The Planets suite remains one of the most remarkable, cohesive, ambitious and enduring classical compositions ever attempted. Even now, as we pass the centenary of its birth, it's as popular as it has ever been.


    1. Mars, The Bringer Of War
    2. Venus, The Bringer Of Peace
    3. Mercury, The Winged Messenger
    4. Jupiter, The Bringer Of Jollity
    5. Saturn, The Bringer Of Old Age
    6. Uranus, The Magician
    7. Neptune, The Mystic
    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989

    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

  6. #6
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
    Join Date
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    Where the sour turns to sweet
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    Inhuman Rampage
    --- Dragonforce --- 2006 (Roadrunner)

    Okay, out with it! Why do so many people - metal fans particularly - despise this band? I don't understand it. Is it their reliance on sword-and-sorcery style lyrics? The fact that they augment their guitar sound with electronics? Do they appeal too much to young metalheads, and are they then seen as not a “real” metal band, or even a real band?

    Formed in 1999, Dragonforce began life as Dragonheart, but after finding out that another band existed with this name already - and a metal one, to boot - they changed their name to Dragonforce. They have had, to date, seven albums, with their eighth to be released at the end of this month. They have gone through some lineup changes, with the vocalist on this, their third album, no longer with them.

    The album kicks off with one of their biggest hit singles, “Through The Fire And The Flames”, with quite frankly incredibly fast guitar shredding by founder member Herman Li ably matched by some prog-tastic keyboard work from Vadim Pruzhanov, thunderous and steam-locomotive-fast drumming from Dave Mackintosh in a dramatic, powerpunch track that rocks along, unstoppable and as powerful as a thundering avalanche sliding down a mountain, taking everything in its path. Vocalist ZP Theart's voice is strong and clear, not growly or raspy, and though this is very definitely power metal it verges very strongly on the side of thrash metal. Very melodic though: you never get the feeling Dragonforce are just being fast because they can't play, which has happened with other bands on occasion. Each one here seems to be an expert on, or at least fluent with, his chosen instrument.

    They also seem to engage in longer songs that your average power metal band, with two of the tracks nearing the eight minute mark, and one crossing it. Indeed, “Through The Fire And The Flames” is a very respectable seven and a half minutes itself. There's no letup for “Revolution Deathsquad”, and you can start to hear those electronic effects which do indeed give the idea of video games being played, but they don't really detract from the music to my mind. They don't add to it either, but they don't ruin it, not for me. I like their fantasy themed lyrics, and yes, on occasion the electronic fiddly bits get a little distracting, but Dragonforce balance this out by playing some of the fastest and hardest metal I've heard for quite a long time. Okay, at times they give you the sense of kids playing around, but hell, if my kids could play like that (if I had kids) I would not be complaining!

    The twin guitar attack of Li and his bandmate Sam Totman works really well, giving Dragonforce a very full sound, and the inevitable comparisons to the masters of the twin axe attack, Iron Maiden, but they temper this with some truly exceptional keyboard work from Pruzhanov. Probably the fastest track yet - and that's saying something! - “Storm The Burning Fields” continues the battleground imagery of the first two tracks, with some smoking solos from Herman Li backed by the incessant assault of Mackintosh's nuclear drumkit. Even against this powerful cacophony of carefully orchestrated sound, Theart's voice rises strongly like an avenging angel, never needing to strain, just naturally strong and vibrant, magnetic even.

    This is the first song so far to feature a solo on the keys from Pruzhanov, and may I say it has been worth waiting for! More electronic game-style bleeps sort of begin to get a bit annoying, but I really do think you can forgive Dragonforce that little hiccup, since they play so well, so cohesively as a unit and so effectively. Just a little bit slower, less frenetic is “Operation Ground And Pound” - with a title like that you'd expect it to be a real... oh, it just sped up. Okay, then, another hammerfest on the drums, screaming guitars going twice the speed of sound, strong vocals. Still can't see anything wrong with this. Perhaps a little samey. I wonder if they'll tackle a ballad at any time on the album? Would be interesting to see that side of them.

    For all that, this comes across as their most melodic and, dare I say it, commercial offering so far, even given that the opener was their big single. The vocal harmonies on this song are almost reminiscent of the AOR greats like Journey, Night Ranger and Asia, though with a lot more kick behind them of course. Oh, looking at the Wiki entry I see this was released as a single, but failed to chart! Well, there's no accounting for taste, is there? Seems “Through The Fire And The Flames” also only barely made it into the top forty, at least in the USA. There's no pause for breath as we charge headlong into “Body Breakdown”, with vocals this time taken by Lindsay Dawson, changing the dynamic somewhat, as his voice is a little rougher and more raw than Theart's. Still very effective vocal harmonies though, and even with the shredding toned down a little on this track, it's nevertheless heavy as hell.

    A pretty amazing keyboard solo here, a break for a powerful vocal harmony and the drums slow for just a moment before they kick back into gear again, and we explode into “Cry For Eternity”, with a big, majestic keyboard intro, galloping drums and the twin guitar assault that takes the song over a minute in before Theart's vocals come in. There are definitely elements of Thin Lizzy in the guitar work and Queen in the vocals, hints of the likes of Fairyland and Epica in the lyrics and style, and yet Dragonforce are very much their own band. Couldn't see anyone accusing them of ripping off or copying anyone. Certainly not an album you could fall asleep listening to, this. Lots to keep you interested, great musicianship and somehow it never seems to deteriorate into technical wankery, almost as if the guys know how well they can play but are shrugging and saying, so what? There's not a sense of “look at me, how fast I can play”, more an idea of “listen to the music we make”. I'm listening. I'm liking.

    Things continue to blast along on rocket rails for “The Flame Of Youth”, and you have to wonder if stagehands are standing by when Dragonforce play live, fire extinguishers at the ready! Those fingers must burn! A spacey, ethereal keyboard intro and piano opens “Trail Of Broken Hearts”, and it seems like this may be that hoped-for ballad. Yep, it is. Nice to hear the boys scale back the shredding for once to show that they can play “normal” guitar, and play it well. Even Dave Mackintosh has had his batteries removed and is just thumping the drums slowly and in a measured way, and it really works, with more great vocal harmonies. Possibly could have been a good choice for a single too; certainly one to get the old cigarette lighters out for! Wonder if they still allow that at gig now, with this obsession on health and safety, not to mention Homeland Security?

    Lovely solo from Herman Li, great to hear something different on the album for a change, critics answered I think. Excellent piano from Pruzhanov, and fine interchange between Li and Totman make this song really something to remember, and quite brilliant as a closer to an album I have to say really hits the spot. I definitely don't get all the hate, but then, people will always find reasons, reasons they feel are valid, to tear something down. I personally would not be the biggest fan of Dragonforce, but I would never dream of putting them down. They play well, they write well, and they sell well.

    And I think they represent power metal very well indeed. Now, when is that new album due again?


    Through The Fire And The Flames
    Revolution Deathsquad
    Storming The Burning Fields
    Operation Ground And Pound
    Body Breakdown
    Cry For Eternity
    The Flame Of Youth
    Trail Of Broken Hearts

    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989

    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

  7. #7
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
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    Science And Faith
    --- The Script --- 2010 (RCA)

    The future of Irish rock? Or pop, take your pick; but is the label deserved? Are these guys as good as everyone seems to think they are? Or is it just more hype, built on the success of one or two hit singles? Is there an album worth listening to there, or is it all just surface gloss? The Script have been around since 2005 as an actual unit, though Danny O'Donoghue and Mark Sheeran have known each other since the late nineties. Recruiting Glen Power into the band, they released their debut, self-titled album in 2008 and have already had their music featured in videogames and popular (cough!) TV shows like Eastenders, The Vampire Diaries and Made in Chelsea, with Danny well known as one of the judges on the talent show The Voice.

    Tragedy dogged their early years in the band, with the death of Mark's mother followed by the loss of Danny's father, but though these were trying times they helped the guys grow musically as well as emotionally, and Mark has stated that through all the darkness it was music that kept him going. Their music has been well-received, giving them a top twenty single before the debut album was even released, with their next one, “The Man Who Can't Be Moved” hitting the number two spot. Time spent recording in the US and Canada, as well as a slot supporting the giant U2, has prepared them well for the big time, and it seems that's where they're headed.

    This is their second album, as successful this side of the pond as their debut, coming in at number one, but much better received in the US, where it hit the number three spot on release, the previous album only getting into the sixty-fourth slot. It looks to be the first time the Script have used a full orchestra on their recordings.

    It opens on “You Won't Feel A Thing”, with some nice guitar work, slightly reminiscent of the work of the Edge, with some strong vocals from Danny O'Donoghue and some nice backing vocals too, good keyboard work from Andrew Frampton, though I think perhaps one of the guys also plays keys: hard to say, as the album credits all guitars and keyboards just to “The Script”. Anyway, it's a boppy, uptempo opening and slides into a much more downbeat track in “For The First Time”, with a slight hint of slow rap in it, acoustic guitar and piano carrying the song until the electric punches in and the backing vocals come back in again; seems these may be a signature of this band.

    It's pretty much an everyman song, kind of in the vein of Springsteen or Earle lyrically, as Danny sings ”I lost my job/ But I didn't lose my pride”, and the downbeat theme has taken something of an upturn, almost like someone trying to see the good in a bad situation, keeping hope alive in what could be seen as desperation. This was the first single from the album, and hit the number one spot on release. Well, if I'm honest, this is good yes, but I don't see it as number one single material. But then, what do I know about the charts?

    Another slightly downbeat track in “Nothing”, where Danny sings ”They say a few drinks/ Will help me to forget her” and then it kicks into a more uptempo song as the Script explore a position that just about everyone has been in at one time or another, wondering why they've been dumped. Some pretty fine drumming from Glen Power here, and a pretty emotional little song. I like this. The title track has a lot of Big Country in the guitar, a big punchy chorus, then things go a little more restrained for “If You Ever Come Back”, some nice vocal harmonies and chiming guitar with some touching lyrics: ”I'll leave the door on the latch/ If you ever come back/ There'll be a light in the porch/ And a key under the mat/ A smile on my face/ And the kettle on/ It'll be like you were never gone”. Have to praise that sort of realistic songwriting.

    A lot, if not indeed all, of the songs on this album seem to deal with love, and what's more, love lost, and “Long Gone And Moved On” is another example, as Danny sings ”I'm getting used to saying/ Me instead of us”. Another good pop/rock song with a very catchy chorus and some fine guitar work from Mark Sheehan, then “Dead Man Walking” is a good uptempo break-up song, but I think perhaps in some ways that's the Achilles' heel of this album: it seems every song has to do with love affairs, and broken ones at that. If that's a concept then okay, and the sleeve does feature two hands grasping one another, which could be taken to symbolise two lovers: it certainly looks to be a male and a female hand. But it's not made clear enough to make that assumption, and if that's not the case then I think some different subjects would have fleshed out the album more.

    Surprisingly, then, “This=Love” seems to concentrate more on the reasons why we do the things we do, that it makes all the sacrifices we make worthwhile. This song doesn't seem to centre on any one single affair, any couple, any particular heartbreak, instead encompassing the entire world, for which courage and ambition you have to applaud the guys. This reminds me of a slightly toned-down Aslan, it's that good. Might indeed be the standout. I could probably live without the rap right at the end, but even that's not enough to ruin the song for me. It's followed by some lovely piano work on “Walk Away”, the song that most betrays the Script's love of rhythm and blues, but it does return to the recurring theme of broken love affairs that's so prevalent throughout the album it's almost saturation coverage. It also sounds a little too boyband-like for me, and I'd class it as the album's weakest track, personally.

    I have to say, I haven't heard much to indicate there's an orchestra on this album, but perhaps the closer will change that. Well, “Exit Wounds” opens on acoustic guitar and piano, a pretty desperate vocal from Danny, yearning and urgent, with electric guitar breaking in but no sign of any strings that I can hear. Great lyrical imagery though: ”Can anyone help me/ With these exit wounds? / I don't know how much more love/ This heart can lose/ And I'm dying from/ These exit wounds.” Excellent songwriting, without question. And a very good and powerful closer.

    I am impressed by this album, there's no doubt. It's a good rock/pop record, with some truly exceptional songwriting, and I can see why The Script have been tipped for the top, why they're doing so well. Absolutely the album you would play to get you through a difficult breakup, a real mixture of comfort and pain, and certainly speaks to just about every one of us, for who has never been in love, whether it was requited or not? I just would have preferred a slightly more varied lyrical theme in some of the songs, but for what they are, these songs are pretty damn near perfect.

    Buy this album, and even if you don't listen to it, keep it handy for that next big breakup that could be looming on the horizon. Could save your sanity.


    You Won't Feel A Thing
    For The First Time
    Science And Faith
    If You Ever Come Back
    Long Gone And Moved On
    Dead Man Walking
    Walk Away
    Exit Wounds

    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989

    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

  8. #8
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
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    Where the sour turns to sweet
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    Waking Hours --- Del Amitri --- 1989 (A&M)

    Surprisingly, this Scottish band had six albums released before they split up in 2002, and most of those did reasonably well in the UK, less well in the States, where they hardly bothered the charts there. I had expected a lot on the basis of the single, but once the album got going I knew that it was quite likely that particular song was going to be the highlight of a rather disappointing album. It wasn't, not quite, but there's an awful lot of filler on “Waking hours”, and it doesn't encourage you to check out any of their further material. Maybe that's my loss, but after listening to this I knew that I had heard about as much of Del Amitri as I wanted to.

    By all accounts, if you ask the band members what the name means, “expect violence”. They have long tired of explaining that it apparently means nothing, was just made up, and though several ideas of what it could mean exist, they say they are all wrong. As for the album, it opens well with “Kiss This Thing Goodbye”, good jangly guitar and harmonica, the latter from guest Julian Dawson. Del Amitri employed three guitarists, one of whom was the lead singer and founder, Justin Currie. Great sounds of what must be a banjo in there too, though it's not credited. A very happy, uptempo song which starts what is generally a pretty bleak album in terms of lyrical themes.

    Del Amitri used some traditional instrumentation like accordion and harmonica, and surely banjo (?) as well as more classical ones like violin and cello to create a different sound that had something of the Hooters in it, but was individual enough to always be seen as their sound. Currie is a good singer, in addition to his other talents, and the songwriting itself is of quite high quality. There's more a sense of soul to “Opposite View”, more rock than fusion; good guitar work from Iain Harvie and Mick Slaven with some warbling organ from Andy Alston on another generally uptempo song, then “Move Away Jimmy Blue” is a slower, more restrained song, though not quite a ballad with again Alston's heavy organ work helping to characterise the melody. It's a song of warning, as the lead character is warned ”Move away Jimmy Blue/ Before your small small town/ Turns around and swallows you” and contains a really nice guitar solo, though who is responsible I can't tell you.
    <span id="docs-internal-guid-b5a0b47f-7fff-bee2-4b55-48de17bffe55">
    Low keyboard intro to “Stone Cold Sober” with a nice bass line and some solid drumming, a sort of mid-paced song with a nice line in lyrics: ”Stone cold sober/ Looking for bottles of love.” I personally find this song quite reminiscent of Australian band Icehouse, then “You're Gone” is another uptempo rocker with a downbeat theme that hardly needs to be explained. Nice bit of slide guitar from - well, take your pick of three guitarists! - and very lively drumming from Paul Tyagi. Great bit of violin work from Robert Cairns, too. “When I Want You” is as close to indie pop that Del Amitri come, very boppy and happy with some jangly guitar and a catchy if simple chorus.

    Things start to get a lot better as the album approaches its end. “This Side Of The Morning” is definitely one of the standouts, with its simple guitar line joined by cello and accordion to paint the bleak image of a man lying awake and mulling over the decisions in his life, and perhaps regretting them. A great line in the song is ”Trying to decide what you want/ Is like trying to divide ice from snow.” The celtic fusion feel is definitely back for this song, with Currie's vocal almost at once passionate and uncaring, quite a feat to pull off. “Empty” is another bleak song with a harsh message: ”At least a house when it's empty stays clean.”

    The album finishes strongly on “Hatful Of Rain”, a boppy, uptempo song driven on sharp guitar, more indie pop/rock, and then the closer is the very reason I bought this album originally, the highly politically-aware “Nothing Ever Happens”, riding on an acoustic guitar melody with a lyric that rails against the injustices in society, and the way we all turn our heads: ”They'll burn down the synagogues at six o'clock/ And we'll all go along like before” as well as the huge disparity in wealth and priorities ”While American businessmen snap up Van Goghs/ For the price of a hospital wing.” Great accordion and harmonica adds to the sense of the surreal in this track, with a truly soulful little violin solo halfway through, added to by mandolin for that extra touch.

    It's a great song, a great closer and was Del Amitri's most successful single, but it brings to an end an album that, while not bad at all, fails to live up mostly to the promise of this remarkable song. There are a few that are as good as it, perhaps one better, but sadly there are all too many that fail to measure up, leaving the album lacking in many respects.


    Kiss This Thing Goodbye
    Opposite View
    Move Away Jimmy Blue
    Stone Cold Sober
    You're Gone
    When I Want You
    This Side Of The Morning
    Hatful Of Rain
    Nothing Ever Happens

    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989

    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

  9. #9
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
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    Where the sour turns to sweet
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    Snakes and Ladders --- Gerry Rafferty --- 1980 (United Artists)

    Following the phenomenal success of his first two albums, the first of which had yielded the now-classic “Baker Street”, and the second giving him another top ten single, this was supposed to capitalise on the popularity of Night Owl and City to City, but didn't do as well as its predecessors. For all that though, it's a great album. Gerry would in fact have no more chart success after Night Owl, and would forever be identified with “Baker Street”, leading many to conclude he was a “one-hit wonder”, which is not miles from the truth, but he released some sterling albums in his time, even if they passed the mainstream charts by.

    It opens in celtic style, with the excellent “The Royal Mile”, one of Gerry's many songs that reminisce about people and places, often from his own life. It bops along nicely, with jangly guitar, whistle from Richard Harvey and organ from Pete Wingfield, and is a nice uptempo start to the album. Guitar drives the next track, “I Was a Boy Scout”, more in the rock vein with some cool slide guitar from Bryn Haworth and horns from two legends, Raphael Ravenscroft and Mel Collins. There's a very annoying American accent voicing the intro to “Welcome to Hollywood”, but it soon fades away and the song rides along on a sort of Mexican influenced melody, with horns and gentle percussion, nice piano and restrained guitar, Gerry presumably singing about his experiences in Tinseltown. There's a great sense of fiesta about this, with a soaraway guitar solo from, I think, Jerry Donahue. That annoying American (or someone parodying an American accent) is back for the fadeout, which is a little off-putting: why do people always say (as the voice does here) “You're gonna love it!”? How do they know? You might hate it, whatever it is...
    <span id="docs-internal-guid-c339f86b-7fff-8490-9812-451fda77c1ad">
    Good, down and honest rock and roll for “Wastin' Away”, elements of “Get It Right Next Time” in the song, with some great piano runs, then the shortest track at just over two minutes is “Look at the Moon”, driven on acoustic piano and synthesiser strings and giving us the first ballad on the album, with an almost filmic score feel, and no sooner has it got going than it's over and we're into the standout on the album, and a song that, although not released as a single, nevertheless went on to become one of Gerry's most famous songs. “Bring It All Home” has a real blues/jazz rhythm, with fine performances from the two sax players and real blues piano from Billy Livsey. There's a real feeling of enjoyment and fun about this track, with a great instrumental jam at the end, and it's not surprising it caught on as it did.

    Another ballad then in “The Garden of England”, slow, measured and stately, with some nice strings and keyboards, a melody and arrangement not a million miles removed from ELO, then there's more of an Alan Parsons Project feel to “Johnny's Song”, as the tempo kicks up again with some powerful guitar that really rocks along. “Didn't I” is a nice boogie blues number with some more fine guitar and a kind of campfire feeling about it, while “Syncopatin' Sandy” is driven on jazz piano but again betrays a certain sense of the APP in its melody.

    Not surprisingly with a title like “Cafe Le Cabotin”, there's a French flavour to this song, with some rocking guitar and what sounds like accordion, a nice boppy tune. I wouldn't call it one of the strongest on the album, but it's not that bad. Kind of unremarkable, although it has a nice instrumental ending. The album finishes on “Don't Close the Door”, one final ballad to send us on our way, this one with a very country feel, what sounds like steel pedal and slide guitar, honky-tonk piano and some cool miramba-like percussion.

    It's hard to see, with albums of this quality, why Gerry Rafferty more or less faded from the public eye. Perhaps it was that old curse, the “big hit single syndrome”; people expected him to better or equal “Baker Street”, and he never did. For all that, he released a total of nine albums during his career, right up to 2000 when his last album, Another World was released. In 2009 he did put together an odd sort of compilation of older work, with some new material and apparently some hymns and carols (!) on it, but his last major studio release was the aforementioned Another World.

    Gerry was dogged by alcoholism which overshadowed the last decade of his life, and during 2009 he seems to have spent time moving from place to place, having “incidents” along the way, meeting his new wife and being happy for a time before finally succumbing to multi-organ failure brought on by his alcohol dependence. A sad end, and a great loss, but I prefer to remember him by the music he left us, and I'm sure this is how he would want to be remembered.


    The Royal Mile
    I Was a Boy Scout
    Welcome to Hollywood
    Wastin' Away
    Look at the Moon
    Bring It All Home
    The Garden of England
    Johnny's Song
    Didn't I
    Syncopatin' Sandy
    Cafe Le Cabotin
    Don't Close the Door

    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989

    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

  10. #10
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
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    Where the sour turns to sweet
    I'm not, and never have been, much of a fan of Tina Turner, and I couldn't tell you what possessed me to buy this album, but I was very glad I did in the end, as it's truly excellent. Given that it's her sixth album it's perhaps not that surprising, since Tina had had at this point over ten years to have perfected her sound. However, she only really came back into the limelight and to prominence as a solo artist in 1984, having left Ike in the mid-seventies and struck out on her own with very little success. Private Dancer was the album that thrust her firmly back into the spotlight, and into the charts, and during the latter half of the eighties she was one of the hottest properties in music, and could do no wrong.
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    Break every rule --- Tina Turner --- 1986 (Capitol)

    After the phenomenal success of the previous album, and the virtual rebirth of Tina Turner as a saleable commodity, this album was really seen as the “second album syndrome”, the one which would prove once and for all whether Private Dancer was a fluke, an aberration, a fad, or whether Tina was really back to stay. Like expensive wine discovered in an old cellar and consumed with gusto, was this album going to be the hangover that would have everyone wondering what the hell they had been drinking, and with the clear light of day and the cold reality of sobriety, consign Break Every Rule to the trash-heap of music history?

    The album proved more than a match for its millions-selling predecessor, and also showed that Tina could call in some big guns when required, with people like Bowie, Adams and Knopfler all contributing, whether playing on, writing or producing the album. It's a storming statement that the Queen was back. But it very definitely is, to borrow an old footballing cliché, a game of two halves. It opens, it has to be said, rather disappointingly with the stolid, flat “Typical Male”, a sub-disco/dance number that was, unaccountably, the first single from the album, which makes me wonder even more why I bought the album, as I certainly don't rate this. There's nothing special about it; anyone could have written it and anyone could sing it, and yet her name was so big at this point that it went to number two. Well, I would say it is number two, but there you go...

    Luckily enough it soon settles down, and “What You Get Is What You See” is far rockier fare, rather odd in a way, as it, and the next three, are all written by the same team that penned the godawful opener, Terry Britten and one half of Gallagher and Lyle, Graham Lyle. The guitar sound on this is classic Mark Knopfler, and though the album notes don't say so, he has to be playing geetar on this! It's just his sound, through and through, and he is on the album somewhere. It's a good boppy rocker, and soon banishes the memories of “Typical Male”, with a sort of “Twisting By the Pool”/”Walk of Life” melody and rhythm, then we're into “Two People”, a ballad with more than a touch of “What's Love Got To Do With It” from the previous album about it. Decent song though, with some very nice keyboards from either Billy Livsey or Nick Glennie-Smith, not sure which. The song also retains influences of Champaign's “How 'Bout Us”, and is light and breezy, not quite throwaway, but a bit of a letdown after the powerful track that preceded it. Not much in the way of guitar here, very synthy.

    Things stay more or less light with the disco-like “Till the Right Man Comes Along”, and really up to this point I'm sure I was shaking my head and wondering what the hell I had been thinking, buying this pile of cr--- but wait. Once we get beyond the Britten/Lyle machine things start to get a whole lot better, I definitely remember that. The whole timbre, style and most importantly quality of the album changes. Which is not to say the guys can't write a good tune - they did, after all, pen “What You Get Is What You See” - but the majority of what they contribute here to what would have been basically the first side of the album is very weak and generic, and had it not been for Tina pulling in the writing power of people like Bryan Adams and Mark Knopfler, this album could have been a real turkey.

    Their last contribution, thank god, is “Afterglow”, another dancy, bass-ridden throwaway, with a nice bit of funky guitar it has to be said, and a certain sense of Judie Tzuke circa Ritmo (whaddya mean, who? Philistines!) and then we're into the real songs. It's almost like two different albums in one. The powerful, dramatic, almost ominous “Girls”, penned by the Thin White Duke himself, shows what Tina can do when given proper material to work with. Haunting keyboard strains keep up a counterpoint behind her as the song picks up a little speed, and the intensity builds as she sings of basically how hard it is to be a woman, but without any cliché (would you expect less of Bowie?). The song powers up to a strong, passionate climax (sorry; well, it does!), with Phil Collins firmly ensconced on the drumseat, and all of a sudden you're in a totally different land, almost having to check the album cover to make sure you're still listening to the same one!

    And it just gets better from there on. With the mark of Bowie's class firmly imprinted on it, what could have been a second-rate failure becomes a true winner, a donkey suddenly becomes a thoroughbred, an ugly duckling turns into... well, you get what I'm trying to say. The album improves, is basically the thing, so much so that it really is amazing. Bryan Adams' “Back Where You Started” delivers another well-needed kick up this album's backside and also sets fire to it for good measure. With opening organ chords then crashing guitar you know this album has finally arrived.

    Okay, so in fairness, it sounds like a Bryan Adams song: you can hear him singing it in your head, and she almost imitates his scratchy croak, but man is it a powerful song! The sense of relief I remember washing over me, starting with “Girls” and continuing to the end of the album almost without pause, is again a fantastic feeling. To think I believed I had wasted my money! Just proves you need to stick in there right to the end, just to make sure. The man is on piano, guitar and backing vox, and his old mate Jim Vallance (who of course wrote the song with him) is on percussion, with Tommy Mandel going crazy on the keys, and it's a revitalisation of the album: we're well on our way!

    The title track just keeps the new quality of this album going, with a great uptempo rocker featuring some superb keyboard work from Rupert Hine, who also helps out on producing and co-writes this song. It's just infectiously catchy, if that's not an oxymoron: this sort of hook could land a Great White shark, I kid you not! You try sitting still when you listen to it, and the production is totally faultless. Perfect backing vocals just add to the layers of quality on this track, and it's Mark Knopfler who steps in next to add his writing expertise to the album, and though in fairness “Overnight Sensation” is something of the weakest of the “side 2” tracks - basically a Dire Straits song - it's still miles better than the bulk of side one.

    But the album ends powerfully and strongly, on two perfect ballads. The first, penned by Irish star Paul Brady, “Paradise Is Here”, is a lovely mid-paced, almost uptempo ballad with some gorgeous sax from the great Branford Marsalis, and then the album finishes strongly and dramatically, on “I'll Be Thunder”, a real power ballad co-written again by Rupert Hine, with almost Steinmanesque phrasing, allowing Tina to really show off her powerful vocal chords, with strong, insightful piano, lovely guitar which is at once laid back and then fierce, and an emotive string section fleshing the song out to give it its full potential, and finishing the album with a dramatic flair and a real touch of class.

    It's totally amazing, as I say, how different the two sides of this album are, and if I listened to it again, for purposes other than review, I'd elect more than likely to only listen to the second side, as the first is mostly just better forgotten. I got Foreign Affair after this, and recall it not being a patch on Break Every Rule, so maybe I came in at just the right place, for me, within Tina Turner's discography. I doubt I'll listen to another of her albums again, but this was a hell of a surprise, and a very pleasant one, though I had to persevere to get to the good stuff.

    Just shows you though: persistence pays off.


    Typical Male
    What You Get Is What You See
    Two People
    Till the Right Man Comes Along
    Back Where You Started
    Break Every Rule
    Overnight Sensation
    Paradise is Here
    I'll Be Thunder

    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989

    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

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