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Eddie Konczal

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Duran Duran
Duran Duran
Price: CDN$ 14.57
73 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars The comeback kids, July 2 2004
This review is from: Duran Duran (Audio CD)
Duran Duran bombed quietly with 1990's "Liberty" and then disappeared for three years, leading many to think their careers ended with the Eighties. So everyone was shocked when in 1993 they stormed back to the top of the pop charts. Their comeback success was deserved: "The Wedding Album" is Duran Duran's most colourful, dynamic and diverse offering, and ranks with 1982's "Rio" as one of their best.
I can't quite describe my feelings upon hearing the dreamy, soaring ballad "Ordinary World" for the first time in early 1993. It was like an old friend had returned after an absence of many years. Over ten years later, this first single from "The Wedding Album" retains all its anthemic power.
And then a funny thing happened: the second single, "Come Undone," was just as good! For the first time in nearly ten years, Duran Duran had two hit singles from the same album. The comeback was complete.
Fortunately "The Wedding Album" is more than just a "singles" album. As they did with "Notorious" (1986) and "Big Thing" (1988), Duran Duran continues to break new musical ground. Standout tracks include the Latin-tinged Milton Nascimento collaboration, "Breath After Breath," the Prince-style funk of "U.M.F.," and the hip-hop/ambient fusion of "Come Undone" and "Love Voodoo." More than just experiments, these songs are thoughtful compositions that successfully synthesize diverse genres with Duran's inimitable melodic sensibilities.
A minor complaint about "The Wedding Album" is that the weakest tracks, "Drowning Man" and "Shotgun," appear early on, disrupting the record's consistency. But the album quickly recovers with "Come Undone" and never looks back. "The Wedding Album" ends with a bang: the incendiary "Sin of the City," an epic tune about the tragic Happyland dance club fire, is an angry and passionate statement about urban exploitation. It's a scathing social comment that dispels the notion of Duran Duran as self-absorbed pretty boys.
More than merely a commercial comeback, "The Wedding Album" reaffirms Duran Duran's place among the premier pop bands of their generation. The wait was worth it.

Liberty
Liberty
Price: CDN$ 19.06
37 used & new from CDN$ 0.77

2.0 out of 5 stars Mostly disposable pop with a few nuggets for hardcore fans, June 12 2004
This review is from: Liberty (Audio CD)
As a long time Duran Duran fan, I reluctantly give "Liberty" a negative review. Aside from 3 or 4 really good songs, most of "Liberty" is disposable disco music, with little of the New Romantic flair that set Duran apart from the other New Wave bands of the 1980s.
"Liberty" sounds like the work of three different bands: a trendy dance group, a party rock band, and a polished art-rock outfit. Unfortunately, the songs don't segue well from one to another, nor are the lines of demarcation drawn as well as on their previous effort, "Big Thing." The overall impression is more of confusion than of versatility. Duran flourished in the 80s by integrating diverse styles into a cohesive sound. On "Liberty," their signature style is subsumed in uninspired mimicry.
The first three tracks demonstrate the record's conflicting styles. Duran immediately breaks new ground with "Violence of Summer," a bouncy rock anthem. It's catchy and fun, but raises false expectations for the rest of the album. The title track features a hypnotic piano groove and atmospheric pre-chorus, but the chorus is anticlimactic and the outro drags on too long. "Hothead" symbolizes the band's cynical efforts to capitalize on dance music, and unfortunately typifies the majority of "Liberty's" material.
The rest of "Liberty" mainly consists of uninspired dance music, with three notable exceptions. "Serious" is a mature and well-crafted mid-tempo number, with a catchy chorus and dynamic instrumental break. "My Antarctica" is a moody, textured track that wouldn't sound out of place on a Bryan Ferry solo album. "First Impression" gives guitarist Warren Cuccurullo a chance to display his considerable chops. The guitar hero aesthetic of "First Impression" hasn't aged well, but "Serious" and "My Antarctica" qualify as genuine sleepers; they alone justify a place for "Liberty" in the Duranie's collection.
In a way, it's a blessing in disguise that "Liberty" gained little attention. It bombed quietly, allowing the band to regroup and build up anticipation for their 1993 comeback smash "Duran Duran (The Wedding Album)," by far their strongest effort since 1982's "Rio."
"Liberty" remains a curio in Duran Duran's discography, space filler in the five-year gap between "Big Thing" and "The Wedding Album." Most of it is forgettable, but a handful of songs make it worthwhile for the Duran fan.

We Are Lincoln Men: Abraham Lincoln and His Friends
We Are Lincoln Men: Abraham Lincoln and His Friends
by David Herbert Donald
Edition: Hardcover
27 used & new from CDN$ 0.51

4.0 out of 5 stars Happier tales from a life marked by tragedy, June 4 2004
So much of Abraham Lincoln's life was tragic that it's refreshing to read this relatively upbeat book about the close friendships he developed throughout his life. "We Are Lincoln Men" reads like an appendix to author David Herbert Donald's monumental biography, "Lincoln," apparently consisting of tales and anecdotes left over from his research. Fortunately, this book provides enough interesting glimpses of Lincoln to justify its addition to the voluminous literature on the 16th President of the United States.
"We Are Lincoln Men" chronicles Lincoln's relationships with roommate Joshua Speed, law partner William H. Herndon, Illinois Senator Orville Browning, Secretary of State William Seward, and private secretaries John Nicolay and John Hay. The friendships with Speed and Herndon were the most intimate, although both individuals drifted away from Lincoln after he became President. The inclusion of Browning seems the most controversial: as President, Lincoln passed Browning over three times for the Supreme Court, while Browning later associated with a Senate caucus hostile to Lincoln. Lincoln's friendship with Seward was forged in the crucible of his wartime Cabinet. Although they differed on many issues, Seward consistently suppressed his maverick tendencies to support his President.
Perhaps the most entertaining section is the chapter on Nicolay and Hay, whose youthful exuberance provides a vivid contrast to Lincoln's other friends. Though their age difference precluded a high degree of intimacy, the secretaries' loyalty to Lincoln was unmatched (a quote by Hay provides this book's title). Nicolay and Hay also provided Lincoln with an outlet for his legendary sense of humour.
Donald's unobtrusive yet distinctive prose is highly readable; this is a page-turner. The book's segmented format works well: it's a collection of tantalizing snapshots of Lincoln, rather than a detailed portrait. My main literary complaint is that the book ends rather abruptly, as if Donald simply ran out of things to say.
Though not quite a breakthrough historical document, "We Are Lincoln Men" should please the Lincoln buff, or anyone interested in learning more about the man whom many consider America's greatest President.

Love Beach
Love Beach
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 36.95
7 used & new from CDN$ 19.95

3.0 out of 5 stars It's not that bad., May 27 2004
This review is from: Love Beach (Audio CD)
Yes, the cover is cheesy. Yes, the title sucks. Yes, "Love Beach" is a blatant attempt at commercial pop, and it sticks out like a sore thumb in ELP's progressive-rock-meets-classical-music discography.
But I have news for everyone: "Love Beach" actually has good songs on it! Actually, over half of the record's running time contains solid material. It's no "Tarkus" or "Brain Salad Surgery," but it merits a place in any ELP fan's collection.
"All I Want Is You" and "Love Beach" are well-crafted, catchy, up-tempo pop songs - a welcome change of pace from balladeers Greg Lake and Peter Sinfield. "For You," despite its lounge music vibe, sports a cool intro and some nice dynamics. "Canario" is a turbo-charged rendering of Rodrigo's guitar composition in the tradition of ELP's Copland adaptation "Hoedown." "The Gambler" and "Taste of My Love" are admittedly filler, perhaps the only truly bad songs on the record.
"Memoirs of an Officer and a Gentleman," the twenty-minute epic that spans the erstwhile "side two," is a mixed bag. The lyrics, which describe the story of a World War II soldier, achieve a simplistic yet noble pathos of the "England Expects" variety. The instrumentation is perhaps a bit pedestrian to justify the running time, although the coda "Honourable Company" finds both Emerson and Palmer in majestic form.
"Love Beach" was an easy target for critics who claimed that progressive rock had "jumped the shark" by 1978. But it's far better than its reputation indicates. If you're a diehard ELP fan, give it a chance.

Love Beach
Love Beach
Offered by samurai_media_JPN4CA
Price: CDN$ 44.05
5 used & new from CDN$ 30.55

3.0 out of 5 stars It's not that bad., May 27 2004
This review is from: Love Beach (Audio CD)
Yes, the cover is cheesy. Yes, the title sucks. Yes, "Love Beach" is a blatant attempt at commercial pop, and it sticks out like a sore thumb in ELP's progressive-rock-meets-classical-music discography.
But I have news for everyone: "Love Beach" actually has good songs on it! Actually, over half of the record's running time contains solid material. It's no "Tarkus" or "Brain Salad Surgery," but it merits a place in any ELP fan's collection.
"All I Want Is You" and "Love Beach" are well-crafted, catchy, up-tempo pop songs - a welcome change of pace from balladeers Greg Lake and Peter Sinfield. "For You," despite its lounge music vibe, sports a cool intro and some nice dynamics. "Canario" is a turbo-charged rendering of Rodrigo's guitar composition in the tradition of ELP's Copland adaptation "Hoedown." "The Gambler" and "Taste of My Love" are admittedly filler, perhaps the only truly bad songs on the record.
"Memoirs of an Officer and a Gentleman," the twenty-minute epic that spans the erstwhile "side two," is a mixed bag. The lyrics, which describe the story of a World War II soldier, achieve a simplistic yet noble pathos of the "England Expects" variety. The instrumentation is perhaps a bit pedestrian to justify the running time, although the coda "Honourable Company" finds both Emerson and Palmer in majestic form.
"Love Beach" was an easy target for critics who claimed that progressive rock had "jumped the shark" by 1978. But it's far better than its reputation indicates. If you're a diehard ELP fan, give it a chance.

Love Beach
Love Beach
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 41.98
4 used & new from CDN$ 26.07

3.0 out of 5 stars It's not that bad., May 27 2004
This review is from: Love Beach (Audio CD)
Yes, the cover is cheesy. Yes, the title sucks. Yes, "Love Beach" is a blatant attempt at commercial pop, and it sticks out like a sore thumb in ELP's progressive-rock-meets-classical-music discography.
But I have news for everyone: "Love Beach" actually has good songs on it! Actually, over half of the record's running time contains solid material. It's no "Tarkus" or "Brain Salad Surgery," but it merits a place in any ELP fan's collection.
"All I Want Is You" and "Love Beach" are well-crafted, catchy, up-tempo pop songs - a welcome change of pace from balladeers Greg Lake and Peter Sinfield. "For You," despite its lounge music vibe, sports a cool intro and some nice dynamics. "Canario" is a turbo-charged rendering of Rodrigo's guitar composition in the tradition of ELP's Copland adaptation "Hoedown." "The Gambler" and "Taste of My Love" are admittedly filler, perhaps the only truly bad songs on the record.
"Memoirs of an Officer and a Gentleman," the twenty-minute epic that spans the erstwhile "side two," is a mixed bag. The lyrics, which describe the story of a World War II soldier, achieve a simplistic yet noble pathos of the "England Expects" variety. The instrumentation is perhaps a bit pedestrian to justify the running time, although the coda "Honourable Company" finds both Emerson and Palmer in majestic form.
"Love Beach" was an easy target for critics who claimed that progressive rock had "jumped the shark" by 1978. But it's far better than its reputation indicates. If you're a diehard ELP fan, give it a chance.

Seal IV
Seal IV
Offered by @ ALLBRIGHT SALES @
Price: CDN$ 21.62
25 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Music that fits the night like a glove, May 17 2004
This review is from: Seal IV (Audio CD)
OK, here's the situation: You're having your sweetheart over for a candlelight dinner and all your Bryan Ferry CD's are worn out. Not to fear: Seal is here!
This set of 12 sleek, suave, sensual songs finds Seal ready to assume the mantle of master purveyor of music to get lai - er, music to romance by. With his velvet voice and Trevor Horn's scintillating production, Seal continues to deliver music that fits the night like a glove.
Seal offers his trademark, genre-busting hybrid of R&B, dance, soft rock, and adult alternative. Though nothing here shines on the magnitude of "Crazy" or "Don't Cry", or even "Kiss from a Rose" or "Future Love Paradise," everything shimmers with quality. Highlights include the pulsating "My Vision," the atmospheric ballads "Love Divine" and "Touch," the reggae-flavored "Gold" and the funky "Let Me Roll." Seal's voice and Horn's production breathe life into some tracks that could have been filler on anyone else's record, such as the generic, Carole King-esque "Don't Make Me Wait". Inevitably (as with all Seal records) "Seal IV" eventually simmers down into adult contemporary territory; the last few songs are super-mellow. But by then, Seal's already done his job - the rest is up to you!

Empire
Empire
Offered by BestSellerRecordShop
Price: CDN$ 5.10
28 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Hasn't stood the test of time, May 17 2004
This review is from: Empire (Audio CD)
I liked this record a lot when it came out, but put it away in the early 90's and hadn't listened to it in ages. After recently hearing it again, I now know why. Queensryche's signature sound, though accomplished and distinct, simply doesn't wear well over the long haul. Dated sounds, borrowed riffs, Geoff Tate's operatic vocals, and production values that make Phil Spector look like a minimalist, all conspire to consign "Empire" to its rightful place in the cutout bin.
My main problem with Queensryche has always been Tate. Sure, he can hit the high notes, but does he actually sing? His range is astonishing and his delivery is unparalleled, but he manages to deliver every line with a minimum of emotion. He's clearly trying to impress, and consistently fails to inspire.
The one exception is "Silent Lucidity," which Tate delivers with taste, restraint, and feeling. The song - unfairly but accurately described as a Pink Floyd rip-off - remains a guilty pleasure of classic stature, as chill-inducing as it was back in 1990.
The rest of the record is a bit of the hodge-podge; there are more Floydian gestures ("Anybody Listening?"), nods towards groove rock ("Della Brown") and "Mindcrime"-style omens of doom (the title track). Individual moments impress, but almost every song contains a cringe-inducing hook or riff that instantly dates the material.
Nobody can question Queensryche's musicianship, but their effort to fuse progressive rock riffs with heavy metal sensibilities falls short of the standard established by bands like Rush. Fans of the band or of prog metal will still like it, but modern listeners should stick to the far superior "Operation Mindcrime" for their Queensryche fix.

Macbeth [Import]
Macbeth [Import]
5 used & new from CDN$ 15.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Returning were as tedious as go o'er.", April 30 2004
This review is from: Macbeth [Import] (VHS Tape)
The good news? For his last Hollywood film of the 1940s, Orson Welles delivered a low-budget, inventive, expressionist Shakespeare adaptation that served as a template for his experimental European films. The bad news? Welles perhaps captures the eerie mood of "The Scottish Play" all too well; the film is an unrelentingly dark and often uncomfortable experience. The lugubrious pacing and indifferent acting offer little respite from the play's fatalism.
A little background helps one better appreciate this film. After a string of box office failures (including "The Magnificent Ambersons" and "The Lady from Shanghai"), Welles signed on with Republic Pictures to do a low-budget "Macbeth," hoping that he could popularize Shakespeare on film as he had done on radio and in the theatre. His actors rehearsed the play on tour, and painstakingly pre-recorded their dialogue in Scottish brogues. Welles then shot the film in 23 days, some kind of record for him. Well, you can guess what happened: The studio hated it. They forced Welles to cut 20 minutes from the film, and made the actors re-dub their dialogue with "normal" accents - wasting all that time they spent in pre-production. The film bombed on release and Welles spent the next 10 years working in Europe.
Years later, the original prints were found and released as another "Lost Welles Classic." Unfortunately, time has devalued that label; "Macbeth" doesn't quite meet the standard set by "Othello" or "Touch of Evil," two other films that were restored after Welles' death. While the Scottish accents are a nice touch, the extra running time actually robs the film of some momentum. Welles did wonders with the cheap Republic sets; the film is a masterpiece of expressionist set design. The same can't be said of the costumes, which make Welles look like the Statue of Liberty at one point. Constrained by having to sync their movements to pre-recorded dialogue, the actors deliver wooden performances (only the soliloquies, delivered in voice-over, resonate). Fortunately, the last twenty minutes are visually captivating and offer enough Wellesian moments to make the viewing worthwhile.
If Welles fails to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear - as he would later do with "Othello" and "Chimes of Midnight" - he succeeds in developing an expressionist style that he would later perfect with his bizarro masterpiece "The Trial." "Macbeth" isn't exactly an enjoyable movie experience; indeed, "returning were as tedious as go o'er." But for the Welles aficionado, "Macbeth" provides an essential link between Welles' Hollywood years and the independent style of his European work.

Battle of the Nudes
Battle of the Nudes
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 22.95
6 used & new from CDN$ 5.23

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hip singer's solo effort is innovative but inconsistent, April 20 2004
This review is from: Battle of the Nudes (Audio CD)
Gordon Downie, lead singer of the Tragically Hip, offers a highly personal musical statement with his second solo album. Downie's songs are uncompromisingly innovative and experimental; his work with the Hip seems mainstream by comparison.
Downie courageously begins the album with the quiet "Into the Night," a moody and atmospheric tone poem. He revs up the tempo with the aggressive "Figment" and the infectious holiday number "Christmastime in Toronto." "Willow Logic" has a nice melody, though I find its spoken word sections contrived and annoying. "Pascal's Submarine" is a near work of genius, a colorful and upbeat track whose catchiness belies its grave subject matter, the sinking of the Russian submarine Kursk. (This song continues Downie's obsession with maritime tragedies, previously illustrated by The Hip's "Nautical Disaster," "50 Mission Cap" and "The Dire Wolf").
After the incendiary "11th Fret," the second half of the record downshifts into mellower territory, with mixed results. The stream-of-consciousness poetry of "Who by Rote" runs out of steam quickly, leaving the listener wandering in a wilderness of experimental tone color. "Steeplechase" features some impressive dynamics; I would have preferred further musical development to the hockey spiel that abruptly ends the track. The dissonant harmonies of "More Me Less You" walk a fine line between haunting and grating. The commentary of "Hardcore" works better in theory than in practice, while "Pillform" doesn't quite gel in either of its two different versions.
Downie takes pride in his poetry, and rightly so. However, his lyrics can't quite carry a song on their own (as they did for that other great Canadian singer-songwriter, Leonard Cohen). Though few, his excursions into spoken word are somewhat disappointing, since they deprive the listener of Downie's greatest talent, his inimitable and idiosyncratic vocal style.
Gordon Downie's experiments in poetry and sound assert his individuality as an artist and constitute a style independent of his work with The Tragically Hip. Some of it works and some of it doesn't, but he succeeds frequently enough to justify the time spent on his extracurricular activities.

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