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Shotgun Method (NY... No, not *that* NY)

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Hot Rocks: 1964-1971
Hot Rocks: 1964-1971
Price: CDN$ 26.22
23 used & new from CDN$ 19.87

4.0 out of 5 stars As good as any Stones compiliation is likely to get., March 25 2003
This review is from: Hot Rocks: 1964-1971 (Audio CD)
If I was looking to point a casual fan toward a Rolling Stones retrospective, I'd completely pass on Forty Licks and tell them to go for Hot Rocks, without question.
Everybody knows that 1964-1971 were the golden years for the Stones, and this compilation, which deftly selected the hits from that era, is damn good stuff. All the landmark material is accounted for--Get Off Of My Cloud, Paint It Black, Let's Spend The Night Together, Gimme Shelter, Jumpin' Jack Flash, Street Fighting Man, Sympathy For The Devil, a live cut of Midnight Rambler, and of course, (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction. Although this will not satisfy diehard fans and I wish a few other songs were included (Stray Cat Blues, the Ya-Ya version of Carol, Sister Morphine, She's A Rainbow, 2000 Man) everything here is grade-A gritty blues rock. The second disc could very well stand alone, it's that good.
As far as the SACD remasters are concerned, they are a massive improvement over the original remasters in every conceivable way. And don't believe the naysayers who claim the new versions are not compatible with PCs--they are.
If you have this and Exile On Main Street, you're set as a casual fan. Completists will want the individual albums, but Hot Rocks does a damn good job of capturing the Stones at their finest before old age and drug abuse set in. Recommended.

Play
Play
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 32.95
46 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Dull, repetitive, and boring., March 20 2003
This review is from: Play (Audio CD)
For a while, I used to enjoy this album. Don't get me wrong, I still do enjoy some of it. Everloving is wonderful, South Side is poppy but a fun ride, Machete is a slice of energetic techno that feels woefully out of place here, and My Weakness still captivates me with that "underwater choir" sound.
But those are really the only "songs" on here.
The rest is excruciatingly boring nonsense that consists of one or two samples of gospel music, looped endlessly, with maybe a simple drum beat or some guitar thrown in. Calling it "minimalist" is a cop-out; this is just plain lazy. Hell, I could write "songs" like this without much trouble. If Moby is considered to be talented for putting out this dross, it speaks volumes for what pop music is today.
If you're looking for good techno/electronica, try Boards Of Canada, The Prodigy, Massive Attack, and maybe some Brian Eno. Looking for challenging music? My Bloody Valentine, Sigur Ros, the Cocteau Twins, and Godspeed You Black Emperor are good choices. Play is glorified elevator music, and little else.

Damned Damned Damned
Damned Damned Damned
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 62.95
3 used & new from CDN$ 37.94

4.0 out of 5 stars The first punk release in the UK., March 19 2003
This review is from: Damned Damned Damned (Audio CD)
Yep, this was the first punk album released in the UK, beating both Nevermind The Bullocks... and The Clash's debut to the punch by a few months. Damned Damned Damned was probably most directly influenced by the first two Ramones albums and the New York Dolls--it's goofy, poppy, and irreverent compared to the rage and radical politics of the Sex Pistols and The Clash.
Which is not to say that it doesn't rock HARD. Dave Vanian leads the assault with smooth yet aggressive vocals, Rat Scabies wails on his kit as if he were possessed by Keith Moon, and Captain Sensible plays some great basslines (the intro to Neat Neat Neat, for example). Everybody contributes vocals, and the result is an unhinged, joyous mess of energy. This album is filled with great tracks--Neat Neat Neat, Fan Club, Stab Your Back, New Rose, and many others. Only one track feels wanting, and that is I Feel Alright (the cover of the Stooges' 1970). I don't know why, but it's just missing something compared to the primal and raw original.
Although future Damned albums would evolve into a different sound and adopt a cheesy horror schtick, this is my favorite in all its unpolished garage rock glory. Don't pass this one up.

Born To Run
Born To Run
Price: CDN$ 8.00
44 used & new from CDN$ 4.96

4.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat overrated yet classic Bruce., March 17 2003
This review is from: Born To Run (Audio CD)
Like Bruce or not, there's a reason why Born To Run is frequently hailed as one of the best rock albums of all time. Although not my favorite Springsteen album Born To Run is great from top to bottom. A quasi-concept album about a young bunch of tramps disenchanted with small-town life, Born To Run reads like an initiation tale of small-town America. Unlike the more realistic Darkness, Born To Run rarely feels downbeat or cynical. It's a hopeful look at the freedom of the open road.
Truth be told, Born To Run doesn't resonate with me as much as his more spare and somber works (Nebraska, Darkness..) and Bruce himself gets a bit self-consciously operatic sometimes. His guitar has less of a role than I would like, but the rich, jazzy feel makes up for it.
There's no filler out of the 8 tracks here, although some are definitely better than others. She's The One and Night may be good, but they can't hold a candle to the title track, the jazzy Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, or the epic Jungleland.
This is just one of Bruce's three essential albums--the other two are Darkness.. and The E-Street Shuffle. After Darkness.., Bruce's catalog unfortunately starts declining into irrelevance, with Nebraska being his last great album. Born To Run marks the best place to get into Springsteen if you haven't already.

Death to the Pixies
Death to the Pixies
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 39.95
5 used & new from CDN$ 8.32

2.0 out of 5 stars NO. Just....no., March 17 2003
This review is from: Death to the Pixies (Audio CD)
I don't care what anybody says--this is NOT a good introduction to the Pixies. Buy the studio albums, starting with Surfer Rosa and Doolittle. Trust me, you'll be a lot more satisfied.
As for the first disc--no River Euphrates? No Hey? No Alec Eiffel? No No. 13 Baby? Come on! While I can't complain with what they did pick (simply because 99% of the Pixies' material is flawless anyway) they seem to have skewed their choices toward the loud, aggressive songs and almost completely ignore the quieter, yet equally masterful compositions. I could name 17 other tracks that are just as worthy of inclusion as the tracks selected here, which is a testament to just how good the Pixies were.
Now, onto the live disc, which was recorded pre-Trompe Le Monde. Definitely some gems, including a great performance of B-side Into The White and an amazing rendition of Where Is My Mind? (complete with audience singing!). However, the steep price tag of this set will deter all but completists who probably already have Pixies Live At The BBC anyway (which is far from comprehensive but has some very interesting selections). So...why don't they release a separate live CD? Damn cheapskates.
Only recommended for serious completists (for the live CD). For the uninitiated, start with Doolittle and Surfer Rosa and move through the catalog.

Electric Ladyland
Electric Ladyland
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 35.42
15 used & new from CDN$ 7.70

5.0 out of 5 stars Total guitar mastery., March 4 2003
This review is from: Electric Ladyland (Audio CD)
Jimi Hendrix was perhaps the greatest guitarist ever, and you won't find a better example of that fact than in the ambitious double LP Electric Ladyland. In my opinion, this is the best Hendrix studio album--it wasn't bound by commercial expectations like Are You Experienced?, and is more experimental and diverse than Axis: Bold As Love.
Jimi was finally given the opportunity to stretch out and experiment with his music, and the results are phenomenal. ..And The Gods Made Love is a weird and ominous bit of studio magic, just a prelude for things to come. Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland) is an electric-soul number, then comes the radio-friendly Crosstown Traffic which features a kazoo (!). Little Miss Strange is a throwaway Beatles-esque song with Redding on vocals. Gypsy Eyes and Burning Of The Midnight Lamp are two of Jimi's best songs. The next few songs are very psychedelic in nature, culminating with the long jam 1983 (A Merman I Should Turn To Be). House Burning Down is a civil rights protest song. The energetic All Along The Watchtower is the best Bob Dylan cover ever. In fact, it was so good that Bob later revised his arrangement of it to match Jimi's.
So now you're asking: Where's Voodoo Chile and Voodoo Child (Slight Return)? Well, I was saving the best for last. The former is the mother of all blues jams, coming in at a good 15 minutes and never boring, and the latter is perhaps my favorite Jimi song of all time (save for, perhaps, the Band Of Gypsys version of Machine Gun)--a soaring, metallic, and thundering rock jam that established the standards for heavy metal.
In summary, there is enough brilliance here to make any student of guitar salivate. I can't recommend this one highly enough. Run out and buy Electric Ladyland NOW.

The Doors
The Doors
Offered by Rainy Day Games
Price: CDN$ 10.99
21 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars The darker side of psychedelia., March 3 2003
This review is from: The Doors (Audio CD)
Few bands could claim to be as moody, dark, or sardonic as the Doors were in their heyday. Although the Doors are often mentioned in the same breath as the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and other 60's American psychedelic acts, it's pretty clear that Jim Morrison (vocals), Ray Manzarek (organ, bass), Robby Krieger (guitar) and John Densmore (drums) were tapping into a totally different source of inspiration.
No sitars, no peace and love, no A Day In The Life studio effects. The atmosphere of the debut is one of an almost darkly comic air. Although much of the lyrics consisted of the typical rock 'n' roll topics (women, blues, and beer) there was also philosophy and allusions to literature. For example, the 11-minute finale The End is almost a modern-day version of the Greek tragedy Oedipus, and was easily one of the most subversive songs of 1966 with its themes of murder and incest ("Mother, I want to...").
Manzarek was an organ legend (his 2-minute solo on Light My Fire is one of the coolest pieces of music ever) and Kreiger an underrated guitarist, but "The Lizard King" really established what the band was about. Morrison's ghostly voice, charisma, and sinister prescence established the blueprint for many future frontmen--Iggy Pop (Stooges) and Ian Curtis (Joy Division) were two of his most notable followers.
As for the Doors' first release, it's a classic. Only their sophomore release Strange Days would approach the consistency of this one. Highlights? The entire album. Favorites of mine include Soul Kitchen (a song about a restaurant in Venice), the eerily psychedelic Crystal Ship, and the two blues covers Alabama Song and Back Door Man. Buy this one, and also buy Strange Days. The rest of the catalog is far less consistent and recommended only for fans.

The Ramones
The Ramones
Price: CDN$ 8.73
43 used & new from CDN$ 4.93

5.0 out of 5 stars The original punk rockers., March 2 2003
This review is from: The Ramones (Audio CD)
I laugh at people who inform me that the Sex Pistols were "the first true punk band." They need to brush up on their history--without the Ramones in 1976 there would be no Sex Pistols, no Clash, and hell, no punk rock genre. Without the Ramones we would all still be listening to Yes and ELP. The Ramones began the revolution, and still outstrip most of their peers (including the aforementioned Sex Pistols).
These guys, though hardly possessing any knowledge of how to use their instruments, were the epitome of cool. With loud fast power chords from Johnny, lots of attitude, and seemingly goofball (actually ingenious) lyrics penned by Joey, the 1976 debut's songs rip off the starting line with Dee Dee's "1-2-3-4!" and end with a bang. 14 songs rip by in 26 minutes, and the rush never gets old. Who can't get Blitzkrieg Bop, Judy Is A Punk, and Beat On The Brat out of their heads?
The Ramones were both revitalists and innovators, taking the riffs and back-to-basics rock of Chuck Berry and Eddie Cochran, adding the humor and subversiveness of early Who recordings, and then playing the mix at hyperdrive. Nobody ever played rock like this before. Music execs at the time were baffled and radio stations wouldn't give them a lick of airplay. But a fanatical cadre of fans, along with critics who "got" it, turned these boys from NYC into stars.
You can't call yourself a "punk" until you possess a Ramones recording. In fact, if you don't love the Ramones you should write off rock music altogether and take up knitting. To call their debut "influential" would be like calling WWII a "police action." Buy your copy, and don't forget to check out the Damned's debut and The Clash's first album.

Veni Vidi Vicious
Veni Vidi Vicious
Price: CDN$ 14.16
25 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Swedes channeling the Stooges and the Ramones., March 1 2003
This review is from: Veni Vidi Vicious (Audio CD)
You know something weird is going on when an act from Sweden (!?) sounds like good ol' fashioned American punk. Although the Hives are not alone in this (the Hellacopters have a similar sound and also hail from Sweden), these guys have pulled off a decent effort with Veni Vidi Vicious.
Granted, it's not very original--think 3/4th Ramones, 1/8th Stooges, and 1/8th early Rolling Stones. However, it's fun, ballsy, and unpretentious and the lyrics are an unabashed slam on the 9-to-5 corporate life that most of us lead. What's not to like? Vocalist Howlin' Pelle Almqvist is loud, brash, and a little out of tune but that only adds to the charm. The rest of the band plays with intensity behind him, firing off 2-minute punk salvos that are instantly likeable, if a little repetitive.
Highlights include Die All Right!, A Get Together To Take It Apart, Main Offender, Knock Knock, and Supply And Demand. The weird departure Find Another Girl is the lowest point of this album, but it quickly picks up again.
Veni Vidi Vicious is not spectacular stuff, but it's refreshing elixir in a music industry consisting of boy bands, nu-metal, and substandard grunge copycats. If you like this, other good albums are the Strokes' Is This It and the White Stripes' De Stijl.

De Stijl
De Stijl
16 used & new from CDN$ 1.03

3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty damn good neo-garage rock., March 1 2003
This review is from: De Stijl (Audio CD)
Although White Blood Cells is Jack and Meg's commercial success, it is my opinion that De Stijl really captures what the White Stripes are about. It's much rawer than White Blood Cells, but more tuneful than the debut, and is a very solid attempt at bluesy garage rock.
Well, for one thing De Stijl sounds very, very garagey. The production is gritty and honest, with almost no studio gloss present. The minimalist approach works wonders here.
Jack White is an excellent guitarist, and very proficient at the open-A, slide guitar blues of this album. His overpowering, rich guitar totally eclipses the need for a base player. On De Stijl, his vocals sound like that of a young Robert Plant. Although Meg is not the most competent drummer out there, she merely functions to keep time while Jack rips away on his guitar. Lyrics are simple yet often profound, with no pretension or angst rife among nu-metal bands these days.
Highlights include You're Pretty Good Looking (For A Girl), Hello Operator (got to love that "solo" that Meg does), Apple Blossom, I'm Bound To Pack It Up, Death Letter (my favorite), Truth Doesn't Make A Noise, and the hard rockers Let's Build A Home and Jumble Jumble. If there's a throwaway track, it's probably the weak cover of Your Southern Can Is Mine--way too much country for my liking.
The White Stripes may eventually better this one (their new album Elephant looks promising) but this is their best so far. The Strokes have a stronger debut and the Hives' Veni Vidi Vicious is nothing to sneeze at, but De Stijl will definitely satisfy your neo-garage rock fix. Recommended.

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