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Kasey G (Toronto, ON)
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Exposure
Exposure

5.0 out of 5 stars Best Girl-Group Album of the '80s, Aug. 11 2012
This review is from: Exposure (Audio CD)
While Gioia Bruno-Carmen, Ann Curless and Jeannette Jurado may not be household names, collectively as Expose with the guidance of producer Lewis Martinee, they turned out what is IMO the best girl-group album of the '80s. Their debut album "Exposure" spawned four Top-Ten singles in 1987-88 including a Billboard No. 1.

By meshing the hyponotic beats of Freestyle with a pop-gloss sensibility, "Exposure" was able to score big in the Pop, R&B and Dance markets, and for every hit single here there's an album cut that's even better. The songwriting here is impeccable, with every track boasting a great hook, bridge and chorus. The girls harmonies are spot-on and they rotate on lead vocal, with each member bringing her own strength to every song--whether it's Gioia's passionate wails, Ann's cool, detached delivery or Jeannette's smooth and soft one, there's not a bad apple in the bunch.

The powder-keg opener "Come Go With Me" is bested by the frenetic hip-hop beats of "I Know You Know" (check out that cool hype-edit just before the final chorus); the chart-topping ballad "Seasons Change" is great but the mournful "December" can only be described as epic. Among the rest there's the slinky "Let Me Be the One", bouncy "Point of No Return", slightly gloomy "Love Is Our Destiny" and jubilant "Extra Extra".

These girls definitely were among the best of the '80s girl groups and stood miles ahead of their competitors such as Sweet Sensation, the Cover Girls, etc. Expose's lyrics and vocals aren't as saccharine as Sweet Sensation (no pun intended) and they brought more personality to the material.

If you like your '80s dance music with more substance than the faceless club artists such as Connie, Debbie Deb and Trinere, this is the album you want.

FIVE STARS and still sounds terrific after all these years.

Come Go With Me 5/5
Let Me Be the One 5/5
Exposed to Love 5/5
Seasons Change 5/5
Extra Extra 5/5
Point of No Return 5/5
Love Is Our Destiny 5/5
I Know You Know 5/5
You're The One I Need 4/5
December 5/5

Charlie's Angels: The Complete Series (1976)
Charlie's Angels: The Complete Series (1976)
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 683.97
7 used & new from CDN$ 231.00

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth Double-Dipping For Season 5, July 31 2012
I predict there will be an Amazon assault on this product from angry Angel fans writing in to express their displeasure at the fact that they must re-buy Seasons 1, 2, 3 and 4 in order to get the long-awaited Season 5 on DVD. I too was initially miffed when I saw the announcement of a Complete Series set, but then I realized that I would have been willing to spend even more than Amazon's $46 pre-order price for Season 5 on its own as a MOD release. In this case, we are getting pressed discs and the price is more than reasonable for a Complete Series set, regardless if we already own the previous seasons or not. Shoot--Amazon is selling the 2011 remake (which I didn't watch) on here for $35 and contains, what...8 episodes???.

So, yes SONY could have marketed this better for the loyal fans who supported the other releases, but it's been so long in coming, that I will not complain about it. There are no new bonus features included which is a shame, only the "Angels Forever" featurette that originally appeared on the Season 1 set that came out way back in 2003.

We kick off the final season with a two-parter that forgoes the exotic location shooting of season-openers past and brings us instead a standard case of murder and corruption within the modeling industry, introducing us to scrappy, tough-talking final Angel Julie Rogers (the stunning, statuesque Tanya Roberts).

Due to an actors' strike in 1980, the fifth season was truncated and only 16 episodes produced. The team spirit that was missing from Season 4 is re-established here even if the scripts are hit-and-miss. Some of the series' worst episodes show up in Season 5--from the boring "Mr. Galaxy" and "He Married an Angel" to the cringe-worthy "Moonshinin' Angels" and "Chorus Line Angels".

Some of the best episodes of Season 5 include "Angel on the Line" which features Kelly squaring off against a deranged transvestite in the one of the series' (unintentionally) funniest scenes; "Hula Angels" has a terrific turn from guest villainess Joanna Cassidy; while "Island Angels" boasts a guest-star roster including Carol Lynley, Lyle Waggoner, Randolph Mantooth, Barbi Benton and more.

Yes, it would have been nice to get Season 5 as a stand-alone release, but for the price I will not complain about having to "double-dip" on this one. The box is attractive and will look great on display.

Hunter (W/1 Bonus Track)
Hunter (W/1 Bonus Track)
Price: CDN$ 15.47
29 used & new from CDN$ 6.87

4.0 out of 5 stars Unfairly Maligned, July 29 2012
Coming off a hit streak of four Number One singles and three platinum albums, Blondie were in the top-tier of rock hierarchy by 1982. So it must have come as a great disappointment when their sixth studio album "The Hunter" bombed dismally. Revisiting it today, it's apparent that this project was ahead of its time as many of the sounds here were heard on Top 40 radio a few years later by way of groups such as Duran Duran, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Talk Talk and even No Doubt (Gwen Stefani must have studied Deb's performance here on "Little Caesar"). Most notable about this effort are the horns and extra percussion added to give many of the tracks a more "primal" sound befitting the album's title. Three extra percussionists are added here to support Clem Burke, who's fantastic in his own right but could not have given the album a sound this full and powerful on his own.

"The Hunter" has aged well, opening strong with the terrificly atmospheric "Orchid Club", full of tribal drums and screaming monkeys. The success of "The Tide is High" must have had the label thinking lightning would strike twice with the Calypso-flavored "Island of Lost Souls", which was released as the first single--and also bombed. Despite a memorable line ("Buccaneer, can you help me get my truck in gear") and uplifting arrangement, "Island" was not the best choice to plug the album, though there's not much here that's really single material.

Aside from "Orchid Club", the best moments are the bass-driven Euro-flavored "Dragonfly"; frantic horn-heavy "War Child" which plays like "Atomic"-on-steroids; an old Smokey Robinson-penned tune "The Hunter Gets Captured By the Game" which is wonderfully sparse with it's flute-and-bass arrangement.

The rest of the album consists of a rejected James Bond theme "For Your Eyes Only" (quite unremarkable; the producers made the right choice going with the Sheena Easton version) which is the closest thing to 1970s Blondie we get here; on "The Beast" Debbie puts the rap skills she perfected on "Autoamerican" and "KooKoo" to good use; the two '60s numbers "Danceway" and "(Can I) Find The Right Words (To Say)" sound more nostalgic like old girl groups performing their vintage hits in the '80s as opposed to when Blondie was reworking the genre into their own style back in 1976 with fare like "X Offender" and "Little Girl Lies". Debbie sounds unusually restrained on "Words" as well as the mournful, introspective "English Boys" and the change is refreshing.

Unfairly maligned in its time, "The Hunter" is really no worse than "Eat to the Beat" or "Autoamerican" and is a welcome addition to any Blondie fan's library. The Bonus Tracks are extended versions of "Island of Lost Souls" and "War Child" (which is worth it for a terrific extended percussion sequence).

FOUR STARS.

Shes So Unusual
Shes So Unusual
Price: CDN$ 5.00
25 used & new from CDN$ 3.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Non-Hits Are Worth Rediscovering, July 16 2012
This review is from: Shes So Unusual (Audio CD)
After 25+ years of ignoring this album (I originally bought it back in 1984, gave it a few spins, then never bothered to touch it again) I recently got the CD and was pleasantly surprised how well "She" holds up.

The intriguing thing about rediscovering Cyndi's debut effort, is that it's the lesser-known tracks that appeal to me more this time around. That may be because Adult Contemporary radio and the muzak system at work have played "Time After Time" and especially "All Through the Night" so many times they seem ubiquitous as the National Anthem.

"Girls Just Want to Have Fun" suffers from almost the same overexposure, being a staple of retro '80s radio ever since that decade's renaissance began in the early 2000's. Of all the hits here, "She Bop" is the most pleasant to revisit because it's sort of been hiding away for awhile.

The underappreciated "Money Changes Everything" kicks off the album and Cyn delivers perfect resignation as she tells her old lover "there's one thing we weren't thinkin' of--and that's money". The Ska-flavored "Witness" is another winner as well as schizophrenic-sounding "I'll Kiss You" and Prince-penned "When You Were Mine".

The production is all totally-awesome-80s to be sure, but unlike the terrible filler on Madonna's "True Blue", Cyn's album cuts here are still well-written little gems even if they do sound terribly dated. Most important, Lauper lives up to her mantra here as she really does sound like she's having fun throughout this collection.

FOUR STARS and worth dusting off again.

Dangerous Acquaintances
Dangerous Acquaintances
Price: CDN$ 26.00
25 used & new from CDN$ 4.23

5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Follow-Up to "Broken English", July 16 2012
This review is from: Dangerous Acquaintances (Audio CD)
Boasting the same production values and sound as her landmark album "Broken English", Marianne Faithfull was worthy of commercial success in 1981 with the equally stellar but more radio-friendly "Dangerous Acquaintances". Seriously, the upbeat numbers on this album are so chock full of killer hooks, if they had been recorded by a more conventional female vocalist, we'd still be hearing them on radio today. But Marianne is anything but a sell-out and I'm glad these remain hidden gems.

The punk-reggae sound that worked so well on "Why'd Ya Do It" gets some variations on the terrific opener "Sweetheart", which sets the tone for whole album. When Marianne cries "My freedom means too much to give up now" she sounds more apologetic than threatening. This album is not as acidic and nasty and pessimistic as "Broken English" but it's not Sheena Easton either.

Horns and sax contrast the weary, depressed vocals on "Intrigue"; there's a Motown vibe that comes through with all the tambourines and handclaps on "Tenderness"; the simmering "Easy in the City" is easily the most infectious number; while the sinister guitars of "Eye Communication" contribute to the stalkerish feel. The funky '70s "Brother Louie"/"You're No Good" sound works well on "Strange One" which finds Ms. Faithfull's lover with a boyfriend of his own; she's at her most plaintive and introspective on "So Sad" and "Truth, Bitter Truth".

I tend to think of this album as "Broken English"-lite. It's a more upbeat Marianne and a terrific follow-up to her masterpiece.

FIVE STARS.

Love It to Death
Love It to Death
Offered by samurai_media_JPN4CA
Price: CDN$ 81.20
16 used & new from CDN$ 77.26

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Will Love This Album 'Til Death, June 4 2012
This review is from: Love It to Death (Audio CD)
I already wrote a detailed review of why LITD is one of my Top 5 albums ever so I will make this one rather short. If you already own the first two releases on CD (the 1990 one and the 2009 Gold Edition), this one blows them both away sonically with sharpness and clarity I never thought possible on a 40+ year-old recording.

At first I didn't notice that much of a difference until I got to "Black Juju" and then the sound quality really jumps out at you. Things only get better from there on "Is It My Body". When they reprise the first verse after the guitar break, you can actually hear Bob Ezrin on piano--the first time I've noticed this after hearing this album over 100 times.

This Japanese version allows the listener to experience all the nuances as if you were back in the studio with the band in 1970.

Well worth the upgrade!

FIVE STARS.

Diana Ross: Live in Central Park
Diana Ross: Live in Central Park
DVD ~ Diana Ross
Price: CDN$ 21.99
25 used & new from CDN$ 12.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Video Quality Is Terrific, May 26 2012
Although I don't have a home theatre system I found nothing wrong with the video quality on the DVD aside from two very minor glitches that were obviously on the master tape. Other than that I was thrilled to finally have this legendary concert in such great quality.

What's not so thrilling are Diana's constant attempts to have the audience sing the chorus for her on song after song. It's as though she was getting them to do her job for her for nearly HALF the numbers in the set list. In past performances (think "Aquarius/"Let the Sunshine In" from the Supremes farewell concert) it was cute and endearing, but here it just becomes frustrating and annoying and ruined what probably would have been my favorite moment of the show ("Upside Down"). As it stands, I think "It's My House" came off best here, and I think Diana had the audience in the palm of her hand with the upbeat numbers such as this and "Mirror Mirror". You could tell they were getting restless during the Billie Holliday song and she even chastised them for it!

Despite the complaints, for Dianaphiles this is a no-brainer as a MUST-SEE!

FOUR STARS.

Happily Divorced: Season One [Import]
Happily Divorced: Season One [Import]
Price: CDN$ 29.03
22 used & new from CDN$ 15.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars She's Baaaaack!, May 26 2012
After the overnight success of "Hot In Cleveland" in 2010, TV Land tried to score another hit by putting a proven sitcom favorite into a new vehicle: in this case Fran Drescher. In the ultimate example of art imitating life, they took Fran's real-life experience of having her long-time husband come out as gay and turn it into sitcom fodder. Even though all the writers of "The Nanny" were drafted, it lacks the warmth and heart of Fran's previous series. Even the opening credits reflect this, whereas "The Nanny" featured a colorful montage of animated Fran getting kicked out "on her fanny" etc. here all we have are a couple of stick figures, which is all too-telling. In today's sitcom world, where most shows only run 20 minutes if that, there's very little time for character development as all the dialogue is usually scripted to propel the plot. So "Happily Divorced" ends up being a series of jokes and sight gags. That's not to say it's bad--it has a lot of cute moments, but (like "Hot In Cleveland IMO) it's still missing that certain "something".

There are several fun references to "The Nanny" and both Renee Taylor and Charles Shaughnessy guest star (Shaughnessy's episode as a bisexual writer is perhaps the season's best). Lou Diamond Phillips ("La Bamba") shows up looking smoking hot and Jennifer Holliday ("Dreamgirls") has a fun cameo.

Fran is as appealing as ever and for a 54-year-old woman she looks AMAZING in this. Yes, she's gained weight since "The Nanny" but she looks REAL, not plastic or anorexic and botoxed like many of her contemporaries (Demi Moore eat your heart out). I actually think she looks better now with a voluptuous Marilyn Monroe figure than she did in the '90s. Fans of Fran will still find her as endearing and entertaining as ever, but for the sad state of current sitcoms, this is as good as it gets I suppose.

FOUR STARS.

Vegas: The Third Season, Volume 2
Vegas: The Third Season, Volume 2
DVD ~ Robert Urich
Price: CDN$ 31.93
20 used & new from CDN$ 21.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Finally...Vega$ is Complete on DVD!, May 23 2012
Although it would have been nice to have full-season sets, at least CBS came through and brings us closure with this, the final volume of the 1978-81 ABC series.

The final 11 episodes included are:

Heist - Feb 25, 1981
No Way to Treat a Victim - Mar 4, 1981
Time Bomb - Mar 11, 1981
Out of Sight - Mar 18, 1981
Set Up - Mar 25, 1981
The Killing - Apr 15, 1981
Seek and Destroy - Apr 22, 1981
Dead Ringer - Apr 29, 1981
French Twist - May 6, 1981
Nightmare Come True - June 3, 1981
Judgement Pronounced - June 10, 1981

The guest-star roster is not as impressive for this go-round: Wayne Newton, Cristina Ferrare, Louis Jourdan, Randolph Mantooth, Richard Lynch, Edd Byrnes, Broderick Crawford, Victor Buono, Pamela Franklin, Paul Burke, Sybil Danning, Ed Nelson, Michael Constantine, Michael Cole and James MacArthur. Not the series' best bunch of episodes, but so great to finally have every episode of Robert Urich's signature series finally on DVD.

The Comeback (HBO) (Sous-titres franais) (Sous-titres français)
The Comeback (HBO) (Sous-titres franais) (Sous-titres français)
DVD ~ Lisa Kudrow
8 used & new from CDN$ 12.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I Don't Need to See That!", May 22 2012
I went into "The Comeback" with somewhat of a reverse bias since I found "Friends" to be the most overrated sitcom in TV history and blame reality shows for the moral decay of modern society and totally despise them. But "The Comeback" skewers reality shows as well as giving viewers a delicious satire on behind-the-scenes Hollywood.

Lisa Kudrow plays Valerie Cherish, trying to make her big "comeback" on a new reality show that documents the early '90s sitcom star's struggle to land a new gig in a show called "Room and Bored".

Along for the ride are Val's put-upon businessman husband she affectionately calls Marky-Mark (Damian Young); her queeny hairdresser/best friend Mickey (Robert Michael Morris); and sweet, bubbly new young co-star Juna (Malin Akerman). Kellan Lutz ("Twilight") appears in one of his first acting jobs.

Though Valerie is over-the-top in her quest for fame and constantly over-estimates her own importance, Kudrow gives the character subtle shadings so that you really do care about her, and as a result develop a loathing for the despicable slob writer Paulie G. (Lance Barber) who constantly treats her like a sub-human.

Since Kudrow's been in the business long enough to know, I suspect that the line between satire and Hollywood reality became blurred and you have to wonder how much of this actually happens in real life.

A fun show that deserved a longer run and enjoyable even for non-Kudrow, non-reality fans. FOUR STARS.

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