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"bispro" (France)

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Dragonfly Summer
Dragonfly Summer
Price: CDN$ 10.42
9 used & new from CDN$ 3.23

5.0 out of 5 stars BRILLIANT ALBUM TO START WITH !, Dec 30 2003
This review is from: Dragonfly Summer (Audio CD)
I discovered that album one day in a store and was hooked right away. I used to have older albums by Franks, which I loved, but this was incredible because Franks had managed so brilliantly to adapt to a more modern sound.
This remained my favorite Michael Franks album until 'Abandoned Garden' came out. I'd say it's the perfect album to get started on his music, as it displays a variety of uptempo and slow songs, jazz numbers and pop tunes, funny and nostalgic lyrics. There's something for everyone in this album, but the genius of Michael Franks is to make it all sound like a coherent piece of work.
Great album which will provide hours upon hours of exciting listening.

NEW Michael Franks - Abandoned Garden (CD)
NEW Michael Franks - Abandoned Garden (CD)
Offered by thebookcommunity_ca
Price: CDN$ 33.38
10 used & new from CDN$ 4.69

5.0 out of 5 stars MICHAEL FRANKS' BEST ALBUM, Dec 30 2003
Full of delicate melodies, intricate lyrics, mellow singing and nostalgia, this album is a must. Being a Michael Franks fan for many years, I haven't heard any of his other projects that satisfies me more than this.
Unlike the usual blend of uptempo stuff and slower, more relaxed tracks (of which 'Dragonfly Summer' is certainly the best example), this collection of songs displays a rare unity of sound and purpose, with the ghost of Antonio Carlos ("Tom") Jobim (his recently-lost friend to whom he dedicated the opus), haunting the whole album.
Don't get me wrong though, this album is everything but sad and morbid; just like bossa, I'd describe it as 'joyous sadness'. Michael and Tom's co-penned song "Cinema" is an instant classic; "Hourglass" is a beautiful personification of time as a woman, while "Abandoned Garden", the closing tribute song to the friend and master, will easily bring tears to your eyes if you let yourself be touched by its words and atmosphere.
I often regret that some of my prefered artists are not very well known by the general public, but in the case of Michael Franks, I'm glad, because he can go on enchanting us by just being himself: the coolest poet of jazz.

Classic Singles (Rm)
Classic Singles (Rm)
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 52.48
5 used & new from CDN$ 52.48

3.0 out of 5 stars WHAT A DISAPPOINTMENT..., Dec 30 2003
This review is from: Classic Singles (Rm) (Audio CD)
Nat King Cole was one of the top performers of the 20th century, but it seems like only Capitol fails to realise that. They are the guardians of his musical legacy, the ones that have the responsibility of making his music live on well into the 21st century, and what do they give us? Compilation after compilation of previously released material (when hundreds of unreleased tracks still lay dormant in their vaults),and when they finally come up with an interesting project, they mess it up with average sound quality!
I wouldn't quite agree with the notion, expressed by another reviewer, that Capitol should leave the Nat Cole material solely in the hands of their Capitol Jazz label... Capitol Jazz has excellent releases, liner notes, packaging, etc. (The 'Billy May sessions' 2-CD set, for instance, is brilliant), but it doesn't mean that plain Capitol isn't capable of equaling that quality, even surpassing it, given the right budget and an able team of archivists and reviewers (the 'Complete Capitol Singles' by Sinatra is a case in point). Only problem is, Sinatra sells more than Cole, and so they refuse to invest the same amount of money on an artist that is not so "cost-efficient"...
What a disgrace that they forgot where they come from... Capitol Tower, the symbol in their logo and headquarters for more than half a century, was described at its creation as "the house that Nat Cole built", referring to the huge popularity of his Trio recordings that gave the label its biggest revenue in the 1940s.
The Nat King Cole catalog on Capitol has been artificially divided between the two labels. Why not leave the Trio era recordings to Capitol Jazz and the later, solo recordings to the main label? After all, they are exactly in the same vein as the Sinatra recordings of the same period!
As for this here collection, I still dream of two separate singles sets: 'the Trio years'containing all Trio single sides, and 'the Solo years', covering the second half of his career. Stereo recordings whenever possible, all the sides (there were quite a few, but real fans would agree to pay a little more for it). Not only Nat deserves this, but his fans do, too... and the 21st century music listeners deserve to discover the legacy of one of the most extraordinary vocalists and pianists of all time.

High Society
High Society
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 45.95
3 used & new from CDN$ 11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A MILESTONE !, Dec 29 2003
This review is from: High Society (Audio CD)
When it came out in 1956, the 'High Society' soundtrack was remarkable in not only being recorded specifically with LP release in mind, but also because it was both released in mono and stereo formats (a rare treat at the time). It also boasted Cole Porter's first new songs for a movie in more than 10 years!
Brilliant performances by Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong and of course Frank Sinatra make up one of the most highly exhilarating soundtracks of that era. Sinatra's duets "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" and "Well Did You Evah?" are outrageously funny, even more so when you watch the movie, and his two solo efforts are remarkable.
Armstrong is in top shape too, and even Kelly, though not a singer, does well on her duet with Crosby. "Now You has Jazz" is a great testimony to the memory of the Louis Armstrong band, and though Crosby is not too convincing in the shoes of a jazzman, the way he explains in only a few bars that rock 'n' roll is merely a derivative of jazz is brilliant! I know this is a soundtrack I can play several times on end and never get bored with.
My only regret? That there were not more songs to this soundtrack from the beginning (though the film contains a couple of unreleased instrumental numbers by Armstrong and his band). Let us hope that Capitol-EMI will soon have the brilliant idea of reissuing this quintessential soundtrack, along with 'Pal Joey' and Can-Can', so that the more recent Sinatraphiles can finally fill these important gaps in their collections.
These may not be Cole Porter's most memorable songs, but they're still very high grade(most of the 'Can-Can' songs are pretty dull in comparison). If you like the 1950s Capitol jazz sound and quality, and/or if you're a fan of any of the performers on this record, this album is a must! And though the film's merits may be more questionable despite some good moments, the record is a milestone that you will cherish for years to come!

Conspiracy
Conspiracy
Price: CDN$ 20.06
17 used & new from CDN$ 0.77

5.0 out of 5 stars SIMPLY BRILLIANT, Dec 29 2003
This review is from: Conspiracy (Audio CD)
One of the best kept secrets of the British neo-soul scene must have been this combo, whose sole 1994 album was simply incredible. I just love it as much today as I did then. Great playing (real instruments is what really turns me on in acid-jazz and similar kinds of music), catchy danceable songs and a fantastic singer to top it all, who could ask for more?
If you like Incognito, Lisa Stansfield, and the likes, you can buy this with confidence, you won't be disappointed!

Blood On The Dance Floor Hist
Blood On The Dance Floor Hist
Price: CDN$ 9.06
19 used & new from CDN$ 0.71

3.0 out of 5 stars A JEKYLL AND HYDE PROJECT, Dec 29 2003
At a time when Michael Jackson comes across as the most schizophrenic personality ever in showbiz, it isn't so surprising to find the same tendancy in his albums.
'Blood On The Dance Floor' is as hybrid as a record can ever be: not really a new album (but containing no less than 5 new tracks), not really a compilation (but featuring most of his latest hits in remixed versions), not really a soundtrack (though featuring two songs from his short movie 'Ghosts'), it's hard to figure out exactly what to do with this album.
The new material stands out as some of his best ever stuff ("Morphine" and "Superfly Sister", for instance, are pure funk-rock jewels, and the other three are equally good) while the remix material features what is (to me at least) some of the worst crap ever officially released under MJJ's name!
I can't really say: go for that record, nor can I discourage you from buying it. It's for you to decide. But if you do, chances are you will prefer one half to the other one and program only a handful of songs.

Bad
Bad
Price: CDN$ 9.49
38 used & new from CDN$ 4.84

4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely worth your money, Dec 29 2003
This review is from: Bad (Audio CD)
As opposed to the Special Edition of 'Thriller' (whose bonus tracks were edited) and that of 'Dangerous', which is something of a rip-off, the special edition of 'Bad' presents three full-length bonus tracks : the Spanish version of "I Just Can't Stop Lovin' You" (released only on the Latin American market at the time -- thank God, the inept French version was shelved!), "Streetwalker" (great song, but which kind of duplicates the atmosphere of "The Way You Make Me Feel" and even fits the video clip better) and "Fly Away", one of MJJ's best ever ballads, which is presented here in its short version (the long version soon served as a basis for sister Rebbie Jackson's version, who unfortunately spoiled it with her mediocre singing).
Quincy Jones' personal insight and anecdotes (sometimes barely audible), are nice additions, though they kind of spoil the album's listening pleasure and ought to have been featured on a separate bonus CD instead.
Now I can't help thinking it wouldn't have cost Epic/Sony and Jackson a great deal more to add more unreleased tracks, or at the very least the extended versions of "Bad", "The Way...", "Smooth Criminal" and "Leave Me Alone". Disney's "We Are Here To Change The World" would also have made a nice addition, considering the fact that "Another Part Of Me" was already on the album, and that Captain EO is no longer featured at any Disney center in the world... But let's not spoil our pleasure, 'Bad' is Michael Jackson's most coherent and timeless opus, and this new edition is worth your money.

Banded Together
Banded Together
Offered by Music House Canada
Price: CDN$ 17.99
5 used & new from CDN$ 11.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Lee's most TERRIBLE album!, Dec 29 2003
This review is from: Banded Together (Audio CD)
I'm afraid I have to feel a lot differently about this album than the reviewer below. For fans of pop music, there are hundreds of albums better than this one from the same time period, and for jazz fans or Lee Ritenour fans, this sticks out as the worst album project he ever did! The presence of good musicians, and even Phil Collins on a couple of tracks (who was then doing a superb job for Philip Bailey) doesn't even help.
Now something needs to be said about smooth jazz in the 80's: apart from the GRP productions, which still retained a certain upstandard quality, a great deal of the music produced during the years 1983 to 1985 is hopeless, drooling with ever-present synthesizer sounds that literally smother the music and would make a whole retirement house seem young by comparison!
If you want the best quality jazz-fusion albums by Ritenour, they are undoubtedly the ones he did in Japan from 1977 to 1979 under the name "Lee Ritenour & His Gentle Thoughts", but they are rare now (3 albums + one with Sadao Watanabe). However, his solo Japanese album "Rio", released in 1979 (and finally released in the US on GRP in 1985) is excellent (it also features a very young and talented Marcus Miller on several tracks).
Ritenour's US albums are varied and well-produced, but not necessarily as interesting... At any rate, you'd be better-off leaving out the years 1980-1985, anyway. Good picks? 'Festival' with its blend of jazz and latin music... and if you like straightahead jazz, then 'Wes Bound' will have your preference. The duet album 'Larry & Lee', with long-time rival (and now successor in the band Fourplay) also makes for nice listening, but if you really want a cross between pop and jazz, go for his recent "Tribute" albums (Jobim, Marley, etc.) which are extremely satisfying.

Dangerous
Dangerous
Price: CDN$ 8.00
46 used & new from CDN$ 3.06

3.0 out of 5 stars A DISAPPOINTING REISSUE, Dec 29 2003
This review is from: Dangerous (Audio CD)
When you know that Michael Jackson actually recorded 35 songs for Dangerous before he took it down to 15, you can only wonder what he and Sony had in mind when they released this so-called "Special Edition" that has nothing special to it apart from a "remastering" that will only satisfy those fans with very expensive stereo systems and a well-enough-trained ear to tell the difference... Come on, this was Bruce Swedien at the helms, Michael had the best technology available anywhere on the planet for mixing and mastering, what can you do to make it sound any better?
Early announcements stated that this was to feature three bonus songs... As it is, there is none, not even a single interview or rare demo. So I'd call this a rip-off, and you would do well to stick to your initial copy of the record if you already have it!
Additional songs to this album (many circulated among fans) included "(2 Much) Monkey Business" (a fantastic mid-tempo classic), "For All Time" (a ballad), "If You Don't Love Me" (an unpleasant 1960s-sounding number that even Michael disliked), "Serious Effect" (great song including rap by LL Cool J), "Earth Song" (later included in 'HIStory') and "Someone Put Your Hand Out" (which was later used for Pepsi's promotion on the radio).
Until Sony gives us the Special Edition we deserve that has at least three of the above, let's not bother! Besides, this is far from being MJJ's best release. Overproduced and often pretentious, it lacks the magic and innocence of the Quincy Jones years.

Thriller
Thriller
Price: CDN$ 4.99
44 used & new from CDN$ 4.23

4.0 out of 5 stars OUTSTANDING ALBUM, DISAPPOINTING BONUSES, Dec 29 2003
This review is from: Thriller (Audio CD)
If E.T. actually existed and if he came down to Earth and asked for a sample of Earth music, what albums would you pick? Undoubtedly, 'Thriller' would be part of the list, and not just because it was the biggest selling album of all time, with 46 million copies sold worldwide (more now with this Special Edition). Quite simply, 'Thriller' is quintessential because it combines perfect singing, perfect production, perfect songwriting, perfect dance music and perfect ballads.
This doesn't mean that Michael Jackson's best work is there, far from it (though I believe "Billie Jean" to be one of the best songs of the century), and you'll find better dance numbers on 1979's 'Off The Wall' for instance. No, it's just that 'Thriller' is the perfect combination, a summary of what quality in music should be.
Sure, the style is a bit dated in places ("Baby Be Mine" or "P.Y.T" and even "The Girl Is Mine" sound old!) but face it, this record will get you dancing, loving, smiling, just the way a record should. The impeccable lineup of musicians (prominently the band Toto and the Brothers Johnson) doesn't hurt either...
Releasing a Special Edition should have been any fan's dream, but as it turned out, I felt a little cheated by this. First of all, there are only three bonus tracks, the rest being interview clips with Quincy Jones. Though I do not deny the value of such testimony and insight as his, it will come as no surprise to anyone if I say that there is nothing more annoying than having to skip the talking when you listen to an album. This is certainly not the kind of stuff you want to hear everytime you listen to a record! It would have been wiser to feature a bonus CD with the interview, and leave the main CD for music, if only for the sake of continuous play.
Moreover, apart form the voice-over session to "Thriller" by MJJ and Vincent Price (a rare treat, which even includes a left-out verse), the other two bonus songs are incomplete: Not only "Someone In The Dark" (from the E.T. project) is just the opening version, but Quincy's voice overlaps the music's intro, and therefore the song is useless by itself; as to "Carousel" (previously known to fans as "Circus Girl"), it is a two-and-a-half minute edit version (the original recording is more than THREE-and-a-half minutes long)!
Besides, the official fanclub announcement in France stated that this edition would also include the song "Starlight" (the first version of "Thriller", with different lyrics and no monsters), but this just never happened... With all the great extra songs left out from "Thriller" in 1982, such as "Nightline", "Trouble", "Can't Get Outta The Rain", "Hot Street" and even the McCartney produced, early solo version of "The Girl Is Mine", there was plenty of material for a better release than that. Or is Sony waiting for Michael's demise to capitalize on his unreleased work, of which they have tons?

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