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brunella (Scotland,UK)

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Red Carpet Massacre
Red Carpet Massacre
Price: CDN$ 7.69
36 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars They never lose their competitive edge., Nov. 13 2007
This review is from: Red Carpet Massacre (Audio CD)
For an outfit whose classic work captures everything that was acceptable in the 1980s - bombastic tunes, pin-up poses, heavy eyeliner - Duran Duran have stood the test of time remarkably well.
Who would have thought this bunch of flibbertigibbets would have lasted for nearly 30 years?
In the Eighties, they seemed to inhabit a world composed entirely of girls and yachts and self-conscious swagger. Somehow, Duran Duran have hung in there, paddling happily in the shallow end of life, being, as Simon LeBon says, all about "sex, seduction and glamour".
What makes them genuine pop icons isn't just the fact that they've attained the international fame many younger British rockers would die for.
It's also because they're on splendid form in 2007, thanks to their punchy 13th album "Red Carpet Massacre", produced by Nate 'Danja' Hills and Timbaland.
Featuring the collaboration with Timbaland and Justin Timberlake, Duran Duran's new album is an exciting cultural clash between old pop royalty and the new chart order.
Sometimes, the experiment is compelling.
The selection of dance pop is enlivened by some funky help from Justin and Timbaland but it still strives for the epic chorus and often threatens to break into heavy metal.
Sleek and honed, it doesn't sound much like Duran, but it sounds really good.
It's an enjoyable update of Duran Duran's distinctive new wave sound, including the moody latest single "Falling Down" (featuring Justin Timberlake), the thrusting rhythms of the title track, the heady electro-funk of "Nite-Runner" and "Tempted", while "Box Full O'Honey" shows these unlikely lads still know what's what on the A-list.
"The original idea was to make a very hard-edged album. "But Red Carpet Massacre" isn't fluff; it has bite to it", says Le Bon.
They have often been accused of favouring style over substance - a charge countered by their solid back catalogue.
They're unruffled by such gripes, and they've always seemed cool in grandiose settings.
Last summer, they played Wembley Stadium twice: by royal appointment at Princess Diana's tribute concert, then at Live Earth the following week, where their 1980 smash "Planet Earth" sounded strangely prescient.
Whatever else Duran Duran are, they're certainly not predictable.
Initially intended to consist of Killers-style guitar rock, their 12th album ended up as a collaboration with the hitmakers Timbaland and Justin Timberlake (who loved "Ordinary World" , their 1993 comeback single, as a child - how old will that make some fans feel?).
This was a smart move, even if it resulted in Andy Taylor deserting the band (again); they sound re-energised.
Where some later Duran albums tended to mix moments of pop brilliance with excruciatingly naff posturing ("Liberty" and "Thank You" spring to mind), "Red Carpet Massacre" is focused, flab-free and consistent.
Some critics will sniff, the way they always sniff at Duran Duran, but for a group once derided as a decadent boy band to be not only still around but easily mistaken for a band 30 years younger is an enviable feat. The forever frothy Duran Duran were never likely to mature into a weighty rock band.
This is the next best thing, and far more dignified than you might expect.
The album's highlights : "Nite-Runner", "Falling Down", "Box Full O'Honey", "Tempted" and "Skin Divers".

Afriki
Afriki
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 29.99
17 used & new from CDN$ 12.17

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Laidback and enjoyable., Oct. 7 2007
This review is from: Afriki (Audio CD)
Koité is without a doubt one of Mali's biggest international artists and is one of Africa's biggest-selling acts having sold more than 250,000 albums around the globe.
In the US, one of his most successful territories, he has collaborated with Bonnie Raitt, appeared on the Dave Letterman show, has been called "Mali's biggest pop star" by Rolling Stone, been featured in a 2-page photo spread in Vanity Fair and has received rave reviews in People, Entertainment Weekly and the New York Times ("His reputation as a guitar player has become almost mythical"). And how about this for a mainstream achievement: two tracks from his first album "Muso Ko" were included with Microsoft Windows Vista, meaning that his music will be installed on many millions of PCs.
It's been six years since his beautuful last release "Baro".
Listening to his new album "Afriki" is like having an old friend coming to visit, full of great tales and smiles.
Only a few minutes into this music and you almost forget that it hasn't always been part of your record collection. It brims with all those comforting things that set the experimental griot Koité apart from most of his contemporaries.
The husky voice, catchy choruses, trickling guitar patterns and clever jigsaw of Mali's myriad musical traditions - all are there. Even the quality of the mix reflects his earlier works. Koité was one of the first artists to break the mould of the thunder-voiced song and ancient repertoire associated with the Mande griots, Mali's traditional praise singers.
He preferred to search the length and breadth of his home country, collecting ideas and inspiration from a huge variety of traditional sounds. Others have since followed in his footsteps, yet Koité's musical universe remains entirely his own.
The main theme looks at developing Africa's strengths and getting Africans themselves to see that what they have can be worth a lot and is worth championing. The familiar range of Malian styles is adapted on the track "Afriki" by some nifty Pee Wee Ellis horn arrangements.
On "Afriki", almost every corner of the country is nodded to in the intricate guitar and percussion patterns that carry all of his songs. There are touches of desert blues, of the griot's ngoni (lute), and even an eerie chorus of hunters' antelope horns that softly caresses the clever arrangement of "Nta Dima" and lifts it to a rare level of musical beauty.
He has also a gloriously easy-going vocal style.
This set is a dash too laidback, though. As ever, he mixes influences from across Mali, but all are given the same gently sophisticated treatment.
The introduction of different instrumentation brings some variety, but when the string arrangements appear on "N'teri", it seems as if he is aiming for the easy-listening mass market.
All in all, it's a very enjoyable listening experience.

Breakfast On The Morning Tram
Breakfast On The Morning Tram
Price: CDN$ 20.33
16 used & new from CDN$ 5.91

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars She delivers with elegance., Oct. 7 2007
She may be not as popular as in U.K (where they consider her a British... "possession" ), but the American-born singer always delivers with style.
A recent addition to the Blue Note roster of recording artists, now Stacey Kent boasts in U.K. six best-selling albums, a string of awards, including the 2001 British Jazz Award and 2002 BBC Jazz Award "Best Vocalist", the 2004 Backstage Bistro Award and the 2006 Album of the Year for "The Lyric" as well as a fan base that enables her to sell out concert halls around the world.
Her latest album "Breakfast On a Morning Tram" includes a mixture of classic standards as well as new songs written and produced by her husband and saxophonist, Jim Tomlinson, and has on her team a surprise star writer (award-winning novelist) Kazuo Ishiguro, who supplies four angular lyrics on her Blue Note debut.
"She conveys the sense of a person talking to herself". Ishiguro wrote, "the faltering hesitancies, the exuberant rushes of inner thought".
It probably would have been easy for the expat American to continue ploughing a comfortable swing-revivalist furrow.
For the past 10 years, she has been mainly singing numbers form the great American Songbooks. However, on this CD, she sings lesser known beautiful songs (a folksily soulful "Landslide" - from Fleetwood Mac's Stevie Nicks), a couple of Serge Gainsbourg romances delivered in French ( "Ces petits riens" and "La saison des Pluies"') , another pearl of a song, the elegant bossa nova "Samba Savarah", also delicately sung in French and three numbers from the Songbook, a bluesily swinging "Hard Hearted Hannah", "Never let me go" and and an account of "What a Wonderful World" as a wondering whisper.
She did sing Bacharach, Paul Simon and Carole Kind in her previous wonderful album "The Boy Next Door", but this CD has a fresher approach.
Full marks to her, then, for having the courage to take this new departure, a collection of songs that occasionally tilts in the direction of Norah Jones, another artist who has made the most of a narrow vocal range.
Kent's light, girlish voice and avoidance of dynamic or emotional extremes is applied here to a wider range of material than the Broadway standards that made her name.
Kent can get a hard time from the cognoscenti for her dinner-jazzy Latin shuffles and faintly coy delivery, and there are certainly times on her albums where you wish John Zorn might crash in.
But the shift from dark, low sounds to edgier ascending pleas is genuinely affecting on "Never Let Me Go"; John Parricelli's guitar is a delight, and Jim Tomlinson's soft sax is as supportive as ever; and Kent's timing and care with lyrics shows how much she cares about this fragile world of almost-jazz.
Stacey sounds understandably self-conscious on some of the modern material, but the lissom guitar-based arrangements leave you eager to hear where the next step will take her.
"Her voice is sometimes a whisper, sometimes a confiding murmur, sometimes an exhilarated exclamation; but whatever the idiom or the mood, individual listeners frequently feel that Stacey's music was intended for their ears only". - John Fordham, Guardian Jazz Critic.

River - The Joni Letters
River - The Joni Letters
Price: CDN$ 15.89
40 used & new from CDN$ 7.76

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is not jazz ! This is great jazzy POP!, Oct. 3 2007
Keyboardist Herbie Hancock is an adventurous jazz player who has crossed the genre barrier to play pop, funk and rock.
Distinguished as a member of Miles Davis' classic quintet of the late '60s and applauded for his own melodious straight-ahead jazz, Hancock also composed and recorded for the "Fat Albert" cartoon series and hit the pop charts with "Rockit" and "Cantaloupe Island".
Hancock doesn't have a history with singers, but on "River: The Joni Letters", he moves gently into interpreting the idiosyncratic compositions of Joni Mitchell.
The featured vocalists are closer to the singer/songwriter than the jazz pianist.
Hancock and R&B queen Tina Turner come together for a surprising and wonderful "Edith and the Kingpin." Turner is natural, and her voice elastic in the jazz milieu.
Corinnne Bailey Rae has more smooth sophistication on "River" than on her own recordings.
Perfection is Brazilian jazz singer Luciana Sousa's "Amelia." Her voice becomes an instrument flowing into Wayne Shorter's saxophone and arising out of or accompanying Hancock's piano.
Mitchell sings her own "Tea Leaf Prophesy" without adornment. Leonard Cohen's spoken-word take on "The Jungle Line" is deep noir.
Though it may generate the most CD sales, Norah Jones' contribution, "Court and Spark" is the only disappointment.
The band swings, but Jones misses the groove.
Hancock diverts from Mitchell material for a moving, mesmerizing version of Shorter's "Nefertiti" reminding us of his roots and the many times he and the saxophonist have worked together successfully.
The tune has a sense of freedom that Joni Mitchell would certainly appreciate.

Songs Of Mass Destruction
Songs Of Mass Destruction
Price: CDN$ 9.49
26 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The iconic diva returns with a mixed bag., Oct. 3 2007
Annie has come up with a real cracker, a collection of songs which, while steeped in the bleak lyrical outlook of their creator, a woman who seems destined to yearn, weep and howl at the moon, is nevertheless beautiful and rich and stirring.
There's a whole lifetime of experience crammed into this thing, and Lennox's voice has never sounded better - in the lower registers it's like seasoned teak, then it soars into an icy stratosphere.
"For her fourth solo outing, Annie Lennox has ditched her usual producer, Stephen Lipson, in favour of Glen Ballard, the American best known for inflicting Alanis Morissette upon the world. While there's no denying the power and command of Lennox's vocals throughout, it's not a particularly fruitful alliance, Ballard's bland sound denuding the songs of impact. Alarm bells really start ringing two-thirds of the way through, when one realises that "Coloured Bedspread" is just about the most enjoyable thing here, precisely because its understated Eighties electro-funk so closely resembles her work in Eurythmics. The rest of the album vacillates between sludgy power ballads, such as "Smithereens" and "Lost", and Elton-esque MOR rockers, such as "Love is Blind". The Aids-benefit anthem "Sing" struggles to make much impression despite a choir comprised of virtually every popular female singer in the Western world, and a few from beyond.
Lennox's greatest failing throughout "Songs of Mass Destruction" is her too-eager recourse to lyrical cliché, a parade of banalities every bit as clunky as that title".Andy Gill.
She, it's easy to forget, is one of the greatest singers that Britain has ever produced. She can purr softly, reach high notes that only the uber-divas of the nineties (Celine Dion, Regina Belle, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey) normally attempt.
"Dark Road", the first single from "Songs of Mass Destruction" - only her third album of original material in a decade and a half - is a timely reminder of the Scottish songstress' awesome vocal chops.
Over portentous, melancholy piano chords, Lennox croons world-weary, slightly ambiguous lyrics - "Maybe I'm still searchin' but I don't know what it means, all the fires of destruction are still burnin' in my dreams" - with tenderness and restraint. Its melody grows in stature with every spin, while its tumultuous, strutting middle eight feels like the smashing vase that ends the bitter sulk of a domestic dispute.
The album is Lennox at her haunting best, with the sort of velvet vocals your average female singer would mud-wrestle her granny for.
Lennox demonstrates yet again, if proof was still needed, she's one of the most iconic divas of our time, someone to be treasured and revered. No matter what new path she treads in her career, she turns it into her own and proceeds to dazzle even the most hardened of critics.
Highlights : "Coloured Bedspread", "Dark Road",and "Smithereenes".

White Chalk
White Chalk
Price: CDN$ 16.17
14 used & new from CDN$ 4.82

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A provocative album of lonely beauty., Oct. 3 2007
This review is from: White Chalk (Audio CD)
PJ Harvey has never been shy of deconstruction or experimentation with her sound - seemingly exempt from any commercial pressure, Harvey has been allowed a journey (perhaps by her label) that many of her contemporaries would truly envy.
"White Chalk" continues with evolution of the artistry - down a darker corridor and off the beaten track into a wilderness less supported by six string and rhythm - replaced by the desolate sound of piano, falsetto vocal and ballad as the main components.
In shifting direction with vocal, P J has replaced the rock-and-roll harlot personae once heard circa "Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea" and "Uh Huh Her" with an angelic and at times haunting Chanteuse - a storytelling vocal that creates the album's ethereal charm: part Victorian séance and part Bronte's "Wuthering Heights".
The mood of the album is mournful and more than a little spooky. (The opening track, built on a piano-and-shakers girl-group riff that's not a million miles from Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black", is a winsome ditty entitled "The Devil").
The landscape is the chalk hills of Harvey's native Dorset, a setting for her Kate-Bush-esque themes of loss, death, family, memory. Singing in an eerily girlish soprano register, Polly longs for her late grandmother; asks "Mummy" to "teach me to grow"; grieves an unborn child who "disappears in the ether/One world to the next". The penultimate "Before Departure" is all but a suicide note.
Some of the eleven songs - "Grow Grow Grow", "Broken Harp", "To Talk To You" - are more uncomfortable rides than others, recalling the murkier moments (e.g. "Electric Light") on 1998's unjustly overlooked "Is This Desire?"
Immediate winners and stand out moments include the creepily intimate "Dear Darkness", arranged in slow waltz-time; "The Silence", all pulsing piano and brushed-snare sixteenths; and "When Under Ether" with its metronomic rhythm similar to "Down By The Water" provide the albums stand out moments.
For those new to PJ Harvey this may not be the most accessible album. For those who have followed this far on the journey, "White Chalk" is another wonderfull moment - a provocative offering. An album of lonely beauty and piercing sorrow, "White Chalk" is P.J. Harvey back at the peak of her considerable powers.
Give it a chance and you'll come to realise that "White Chalk" is every bit as impressive as PJ's earlier record, but in a more grown-up and mature way.

Scene Of The Crime
Scene Of The Crime
Price: CDN$ 16.99
17 used & new from CDN$ 11.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blistering soul., Oct. 3 2007
This review is from: Scene Of The Crime (Audio CD)
Though LaVette began her career 40 years ago, her career never took off as it should, despite her being the only artist to record for Motown and Atlantic.
She didn't get major attention (and touring dates) until three years ago when she was rediscovered by the edgy Anti Records.
The company had the divine idea to match LaVette's vintage vocals to contemporary songs written entirely by smart women, from Joan Armatrading to Sinead O'Connor.
The resulting album, "I've Got My Own Hell to Raise" struck a perfect balance between historic depth and modern audacity.
Now she returns with "The Scene of the Crime", an almost autobiographical look back at the long hard road she has traveled, and for her more than worthy followup CD, Ms.LaVette covers songs entirely by men (except for one she co-wrote). Yet it gains a juicier theme, and backstory, from the place it was recorded in: Muscle Shoals Studio.
Her voice has matured to a crackling growl, rich in colour and fierce emotion. It's particularly effective on a heartrending cover of Elton John's "Talking Old Soldiers", and on the country lament "Choices".
Not all her song selections are this astute: much as the self-righteous, take-me-as-I-am lyric suits her, it's a road she screeches down too often.
Still, its magnetic moments make you glad she didn't just give up and get a day job.
She teams up with latter-day country-funk combo Drive-By Truckers, whose leader Patterson Hood is the son of the great Muscle Shoals sideman David Hood. The Truckers put LaVette in just the right stripped and sinewy setting. Hard guitars, dark bass and striking drums surround her.
Her vocals come from so deep in the gut. Yet Ms.LaVette's rip-roaring instrument also remains beauteous to behold.
The album also features Bettye's first songwriting credit, a cowrite with the Truckers' own Patterson Hood titled '"Before the Money Came (The Battle of Bettye LaVette)", a hard rocking tune that chronicles her struggles in a pointed, take-no-prisoners style, an autobiographical account of the many obstacles she has faced in her 40-plus years of trying to make it in the music biz.
The album was recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, a city known for its legendary soul and pop recordings. It is also the town where Bettye recorded a masterpiece titled "Child of the Seventies" back in 1972. For some reason, Atlantic Records shelved it. The CD didn't surface until nearly 30 years later - and only in France.
For Bettye, going back to Muscle Shoals to record was like returning to the scene of a crime; thus the album title, and the intense, personal music within that will make this a soul album for the ages'.
The album highlights: "I Still Want to be Your Baby", '"The Last Time" and "Jealousy".

Funk This
Funk This
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 14.98
7 used & new from CDN$ 11.85

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars WOW ! She is too funky !, Sept. 28 2007
This review is from: Funk This (Audio CD)
Chaka makes her best and funkiest album for over two decades, and her powerful voice shines throughout.
The mid tempo dancer "Back In The Day" has that Rufus sound to it, and that is also evident in the covers of two Rufus classics "Pack'd My Bags/You Got The love" featuring Tony Maiden.
The funky mid tempo dancers "Superlife" , "Sign Of The Times" and "Hail To The Wrong" keep up the pace, whilst the melodic mid tempo floater "One For All Time" is also classy.
The beat ballads "Angel" and "Ladies Man" and the raunchy version of "Foolish Fool" are also good.
"Funk This" is a mixture of originals and covers of some of the best Rhythm and Blues, Funk, Blues, and Soul music from the past thirty to forty years.
One of the songs to show off her delicacy of touch is her cover of the Jimi Hendrix's "Castles Made Of Sand". A mid-tempo song about the impermanence of dreams and the dangers of living in a fantasy world, where Ms. Khan utilizes her voice to help generate a mood appropriate to the song.
This song is also a good example of her ability to put the song ahead of her ego instead of making it about her and her talents. While younger, less mature singers will look for any excuse to unload pyrotechnics and show off their abilities, Chaka is content to let the mood of the song dictate her performance. Listening to her duet with up- and-coming powerhouse singer Mary J. Blige on the song "Disrespectful" that difference is made perfectly clear.
Also amazing is Chaka's versatility as a singer as demonstrated by the range of material that "Funk This" has to offer : from the full throttle Funk of the opening track "Back In The Day" to the ballad "Angel".
She shows that slowing the pace down does nothing to detract from her sincerity as a singer.
Too often people with strong voices become stentorian when faced with a ballad and equate emotion with loudness and straining for the upper regions of the scale.
Music icons like Chaka Khan are often stifled by the pressures of delivering a successful album to their fans.
"Funk This" is an album for all skeptics.
Through the preparation for this album, Chaka has admitted that she has "been on a little journey in the last few years".
Sometimes the path to re-discovery leads us back to where originally we began. Chaka Khan's "Funk This" reminds us why we fell in love with her over 30 years ago.
The reason is because she's FUNKY !

Graduation
Graduation
Price: CDN$ 8.00
32 used & new from CDN$ 3.68

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's hard to resisist : Kanye is way ahead of the pack., Sept. 11 2007
This review is from: Graduation (Audio CD)
Even if you're hopelessly alienated from American rap and hip-hop, Kanye West is extremely hard to resist if there is a musical bone in your body.
On this excellent record, he duets with Coldplay's Chris Martin on "Homecoming" and teams up with the young Grammy-winning blues guitarist John Mayer on "Bittersweet Poetry".
What makes these collaborations so good is that Kanye West is obviously not looking for crossover acceptance, rather he is demonstrating how he can excel in such distinguished company.
There's deft sampling of anyone who serves the cause, from Steely Dan and Elton John to reggae lion U-Roy and Daft Punk, and a new found maturity that ensures the swaggering but warm "Graduation": is that rarest of things: a keyboards-led hip hop album. It's tip top.
It's mature, adventurous, addictive.
With "Graduation", Kanye West proves once again that he is way ahead of the hip-hop pack.
Album's highlights: "Drunk and Hot Girls", "Can't Tell Me Nothing", "I Wonder" and "Stronger".
I'm loving it!

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