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Dr. Joseph Lee (Toronto, Canada)
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The Legend of Hercules [Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray] (Bilingual)
The Legend of Hercules [Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray] (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Kellan Lutz
Price: CDN$ 21.98
11 used & new from CDN$ 14.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Legend Of Hercules 3D: Beware! Both 3D & 2D in one single BD-50 disc! Fortunately, video & audio are top-notched; poor script!, May 18 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
In buying 3D blu-ray movies, one has to be careful. Sometimes, it only comes with 3D blu-ray, with no 2D blu-ray. It is wise to read the top of the front cover carefully. In the past, 3D and 2D are housed in their separate BD-50 discs. Now with the latest releases by Entertainment One: I Frankenstein, The Legend Of Hercules and Pompeii, on the top of the front cover is clearly stated 3D blu-ray + blu-ray. To my surprise, both 3D and 2D are in ONE single disc!!! No wonder the price is relatively a little cheaper (about $20 vs $29). I hope this is not a new trend, compressing two HD movies into one disc! If you have 3D blu-ray player & TV, a menu will show up allowing you to choose 3D vs 2D. But if you do not have 3D TV, this menu will not show up. It is automatic default to 2D.

VIDEO (3D):

Shot natively in 3D using a combination of the Red Epic and the 3Ality Technica 3D rig, Hercules flexes his might and brute force on blu-ray with a fantastic and oft-amazing MPEG-4 MVC 1080p 2.40:1 encode. This transfer comes with crisp, brilliant contrast and pitch-perfect brightness. Definition and clarity are top-notch with distinct, fine lines in the costumes and surrounding foliage. Wide and long shots are particularly impressive, displaying large, expansive views that show a clear separation between the background and foreground information. This creates a realistic sense of distance and spatial difference from one object to the next, which penetrate deep into the screen, providing viewers with a sometimes overwhelming and immersive feel of depth. (4.5/5)

VIDEO (2D):

The Legend Of Hercules arrives on blu-ray with MPEG-4 AVC 1080p 2.40:1 encode. Similar to the 3D version, this transfer is also crisp with brilliant contrast and pitch-perfect brightness. Compared to the 3D version, the picture is less immersive, especially in the action sequence. Blacks are still inky. There is also tremendous details and clarity. (4/5)

AUDIO:

The Legend of Hercules comes with a thunderous DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio track. Right from the start, the movie opens with a sweeping, immensely wide soundstage as King Amphitryon invades and conquers yet another kingdom by force. There is a great scene early in the film where Alcmene goes into labor and we see Amphitryon in his huge court, where Alcmene's painful cries of delivery echo around and through the surround channels. Dialogue is very cleanly presented and frequently nicely directional. This is a very well done reference soundtrack. (5/5)

MOVIE:

This movie is a love story between the son of Zeus and the mortal princess of Crete, who was promised to his older brother despite her love for Hercules. This is supposedly the origin story of the Greek mythological hero, Heracles, or as the Romans and all of western civilization now known him, Hercules. Yet, much of the script, which took four writers, one of which also serves as this disastrous failure's director, to finally realize, largely feels like an amalgamation of other epic sword-and-sandal flicks, like Gradiator, Braveheart and Samson and Delilah. (2/5)

FINAL THOUGHTS:

The Legend of Hercules will go down as another legendary failure from director Renny Harlin, in large part because it borrows heavily from other movies for a one of the oldest stories ever told. Fortunately, both the video, especially 3D, and the audio are top-notched. Further, I hope that this is not a new trend – to put both 3D and 2D blu-ray on ONE disc. For current high definition movies, this is not acceptable. I wonder if the quality would have improved further if they were on separately discs, and not compressed together. I bought this when it was on sale for $19.99, but now the price has gone up to $21.99. For 3D blu ray, it is still relatively cheap.

The Complete US & UK Singles A's  & B's 1955-62 (3CD)
The Complete US & UK Singles A's & B's 1955-62 (3CD)
Price: CDN$ 21.48
28 used & new from CDN$ 14.03

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Connie Francis: Complete US & UK Singles: One Of A Kind Complete Singles Collection, US & UK, a & b-sides, charted & uncharted!, May 14 2014
CONTENT:

Acrobat label is a reputable UK reissue label whose anthology or singles collection is superb and indeed complete. This is the first time that a Complete Singles Collection is done for Connie Francis, containing every a and b-sides from US and UK, charted and uncharted, from 1955 to 1962. There are 85 songs in 3 CDs. The songs are arranged chronologically. Using the two Bear Family box sets, I set up a Complete Singles Collection on Connie Francis, but only for US. Now with the help of a detailed discography in the booklet with label, number & chart position, year, I am successful in enlarging the Complete Singles Collection to both US and UK.

There are many interesting facts arising from this discography:
1 There are 35 songs that only appeared in US, not in UK.
2 There are 19 songs that only appeared in UK, not US: From the essay in the booklet, one tried to understand the thinking of the MGM brass in UK, in deciding some odd songs for UK releases only: I’ll Get By (UK b-side to Fallin’), You Always Hurt The One You Love (UK 19/1958), In The Valley Of Love (b-side), It Would Be Worth It (1960), Valentino (UK b-side, UK 27/1960)(one example of b-side became the charted side), Robot Man (UK b-side to Teddy, UK 2/1960), Baby Roo (UK b-side to Where The Boys Are, UK 5/1961), Baby’s First Christmas (UK 30/1961), I’m Falling In Love With You Tonight (b-side), Don’t Cry On My Shoulder (UK uncharted, 1962), Mister Twister (b-side), Ain’t That Better Baby (UK b-side to Don’t Break The Heart That Loves You, 1962), It’s Gonna Take Some Time (UK b-side to Vacation, 1962), Playing Games (UK b-side to I Was Such A Fool, 1962), and Pretty Little Baby (UK b-side to I’m Gonna Be Warm This Winter, 1962).

POSITIVE POINTS:
1 This is the most complete singles collection on Connie Francis so far, covering both a and b-sides, charted and uncharted, US and UK, with a total of 85 songs, arranged chronologically. Take my word…I have done the Complete Singles Discography, and Acrobat did not miss a song. As the matter of fact, there are many rare gems too, like Swanee and Atashi No (Where The Boys Are)(b-side).
2 The sound is also very well remastered, clean, vibrant with no hiss. Great job!
3 The 16-page booklet is priceless, containing detailed information on discography, label, number, year, chart position, composers, orchestra. Thanks to these details, I managed to update my own Complete Singles Discography on Connie Francis. The essay by Paul Watts was first class, giving us the details about the story behind each song.
4 All the songs are original versions, no re-recorded versions.

NEGATIVE POINTS:
1 This collection is only up to 1962. From 1963 to 1973, there are 89 more songs. I am still missing 26 songs. Acrobat, would you be so kind to release the rest of her music? Why only up to 1962, I think the reason is Public Domain. Therefore, I am not holding my breath in the release of the remaining songs.
2 The price is a little expensive. I bought mine from UK for £7.27, and my set was released in UK on March 10, 2014. In North America, the release date is 2 months later. But with the low Canadian $ plus shipping, choose wisely.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

I love Connie Francis. I have 95 CDs and 25 LPs. But my collection is far from complete. A lot of the materials after 1962 are still missing. I hope Acrobat or Bear Family will release more materials on Connie Francis in the future. The same request also applies to Pat Boone in the sixties. This 3 CD set is a first class release. If you are interested in her singles releases, this set is very highly recommended.

Gayle Mccormick
Gayle Mccormick
Price: CDN$ 21.02
25 used & new from CDN$ 8.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gayle McCormick: totally enjoyable CD with soulful voice and fresh interpretation of golden greats by Gayle McCormick!, May 6 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Gayle Mccormick (Audio CD)
INTRODUCTION:

Gayle McCormick (born November 26, 1948) is an American singer. She attended Pattonville High School in Maryland Heights, Missouri near St. Louis and sang high soprano with the Suburb Choir, a 150-voice unit that performed annually with the St. Louis Symphony. Her recording and performing career stretched from 1965 to 1976. McCormick started her career singing songs by Tina Turner and Etta James before becoming the lead singer of Smith. After the group disbanded, McCormick went on to record three solo albums, Gayle McCormick in 1971, Flesh And Blood in 1972 and One More Hour in 1974. In 1973 Gayle married and relocated to Hawaii. She now lives in suburban Saint Louis.

CONTENT:

From my recent review on Smith, I reacquainted with the soaring soulful singing of Gayle McCormick. Of her 3 albums, only the current one is available on CD, which I just purchased. Although Amazon.ca already has the song listing, I have added the extra chart positions and year, plus label & number:

GAYLE MCCORMICK (Original label: Dunhill/ABC 50109)(US 198/1971):
01 It’s A Crying Shame (44/1971)
02 Superstar
03 C’est La Vie (b-side to You Really Got A Hold On Me, 1972)
04 Natural Woman
05 You Really Got A Hold On Me (98/1972)
06 Rescue Me
07 If Only You Believe (b-side to It’s A Crying Shame, 1971)
08 Save Me (b-side to Gonna Be Alright Now, 1971)
09 Everything Has Got To Be Free
10 Gonna Be Alright Now (84/1971)

POSITIVE POINTS:
1 Listening to the entire CD is a real blast and absolutely totally enjoyable. With Gayle’s soulful voice together with the magic of Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter, Gayle absolutely made all the those old favourites her own, giving them her own fresh interpretation.
2 Her charted hits are not readily available. This is a good and cheap way to collect those songs.
3 This CD is very well remastered at Rev-Ola from UK, giving these oldies from the 70s a new fresh sound. Good job!
4 There is a nice 8-page booklet with a detailed essay by Joe Foster, with a very touching last sentence: “And Gayle, if you read this, do please get in touch.” There are also rare pictures and posters.
5 The price is reasonable, especially from sellers.

NEGATIVE POINT:
1 Too bad that Gayle’s other 2 albums were not included.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

I reacquainted myself with Gayle McCormick when I listened to the recent release, A Group Called Smith. (my review elsewhere). I am very glad that I bought this CD. The entire CD is totally enjoyable. The sound is very good. The price is reasonable. If you like music of the 70s, this set is highly recommended.

Real Bill Withers
Real Bill Withers
Offered by nagiry
Price: CDN$ 5.21
18 used & new from CDN$ 5.21

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bill Withers: Real Bill Withers (3CDs): 53 songs with most of a-sides; good sound; choose sellers carefully: big $ difference!, May 6 2014
This review is from: Real Bill Withers (Audio CD)
INTRODUCTION:

William Harrison "Bill" Withers, Jr. (born July 4, 1938) is an American singer-songwriter and musician who performed and recorded from 1970 until 1985. His two major labels are Sussex (1971 to 1974) and Columbia (1975 to 1985). There are 24 entries on R&B chart and 14 entries on Billboard Hot 100. He recorded a number of major hits including Lean on Me (1(3)/1972), Ain't No Sunshine (3/1971), Use Me (2/1972), Just the Two of Us (2/1981), Lovely Day (30/1978), and Grandma's Hands (42/1972).

CONTENT:

This 3 CD set is Columbia Records’ recent “The Real…” series of compilation, covering artists from Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash to Johnny Mathis. In this case, there are 53 songs.

POSITIVE POINTS:

1 The Greatest Hits of Bill Withers available now are pretty low in contents. This 3 CD set is the best way to get most of Bill Wither’s charted hits. For a-sides (on Sussex and Columbia), only one song is missing (U.S.A., 83/1982). There are 9 b-sides available.
2 The sound is very well remastered, clean vocal with good bass.
3 Good value! I bought mine from Amazon.co.uk for £7.44. But now I notice one seller here sells for $5.34 (dirty cheap). But beware, for the same item in a different area, a different seller sells for $27.00. So be careful with your choice of sellers. With the low Canadian $ and shipping cost, I personally have to rethink my own purchasing strategy for future UK releases.

NEGATIVE POINTS:

1 There is no booklet. The song listing is printed on the paper behind the transparent CD case, making it difficult to read especially around the middle spindle.
2 His duets are missing: Just The Two Of Us (With Grover Washington, Elektra label, R&B 3/1981), It’s All Over Now (With Bobby Womack, United Artists label, R&B 68/1975) and In The Name Of Love (With Ralph MacDonald, Polydor label, R&B 13/1984).
3 Live versions were used for 2 songs: Let Us Love and Friends Of Mine. I personally prefer the studio versions first. Put the “live” versions in only when you have extra space.
4 There are 13 b-sides missing.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Even with the negative points stated above, overall, I am still very happy with this purchase. There are many a and b-sides that were not available before in my own two Greatest Hits CDs. But to have a more complete collection, one can consider the 9 CD box set called The Complete Sussex and Columbia Albums. Here, the price is expensive. Further, 1 a-side and 4-b-sides are still missing. To have a really Complete Singles Collection on Bill Withers, I guess we need Real Gone Music or Acrobat to release a complete coverage collection. In the meantime, the music on these 3 CD is totally enjoyable. I can listen to Ain’t No Sunshine and Lean On Me repeatedly without getting tired of these golden greats. This set is highly recommended.

Imperial Singles
Imperial Singles
Price: CDN$ 22.62
14 used & new from CDN$ 10.13

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fats Domino: Imperial Singles (1950-1962): 122 songs; Complete Singles Output from 1950 to 1962; good sound! slightly expensive!, May 6 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Imperial Singles (Audio CD)
INTRODUCTION:

Fats Domino was born Antoine Domino on February 26, 1928 in New Orleans, Louisiana. He is a legendary R&B singer/songwriter/pianist, heavily influenced by Fats Waller and Albert Ammons. He joined the Dave Bartholomew band in the mid-1940s. He was signed to Imperial record label in 1949. His charting career started from 1950 to 1968, with 61 entries on the R&B chart and 77 entries on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. During his career, he was signed to two major labels: Imperial (1950 to 1963) and ABC-Paramount (1963 – 1964). He has one charted hit on Reprise (Lady Madonna, 100/1968, his last charted song). He also starred a few movies: Shake, Rattle And Rock!, Jamboree!, The Big Beat and The Girl Can’t Help It. He teamed with co-writer Dave Bartholomew on majority of his hits. One major recent news was that people thought he was dead when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. He did not evacuate because of his wife’s poor health. Later he was found to be alive, his house rebuilt, his medals and gold records replaced. He is still alive at age 86 living in New Orleans.

CONTENT:

This 4 CD set contains 122 songs, covering his entire singles career from 1950 to 1962.

POSITIVE POINTS:
1 This is the first time that the “Complete” singles output on the Imperial label (a and b-sides, charted and uncharted) is in one set, arranged chronologically, from 1950 to 1962.
2 Good value! Imperial Singles by Fats Domino were released by Ace Records in UK , but occupying 5 volumes. The accumulated cost of these 5 CDs are much higher than this single set.
3 The sound is very well remastered with no hiss.
4 All the songs are original versions. No re-recorded versions.

NEGATIVE POINTS:
1 There is no booklet. There are no details on label & number, chart position. In the Ace releases, the label & number, plus chart position for US and UK are clearly stated, plus picture sleeves. (I already bought Volumes 1 & 3 with no regret)
2 Because of the limitation of only up to 1962 (probably because of the Public Domain law), his Imperial output in 1963 and 1964 was thus left out. The remedy is Volume 5 of Ace’s Imperial Singles by Fats Domino. I just made a purchase, to complete his Imperial output.
3 Price: Even it is of great value when compared to the Ace’s set, the price is still relatively expensive (even by seller’s standards). Usually those simple Classic Albums series prices would have dropped to $8 through sellers, in this case, the price remained high. I bought through seller for $16.75, and now the current price is $24.55!

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Even though the price is not cheap, this set with 122 songs, covering his entire career from 1950 to 1962, is still of good value. The sound is good. With this set, I have “Found My Thrills” and very happy with the purchase. This set is highly recommended.

50th Anniversary: The Singles Collection 1964-1972 (3 CD)
50th Anniversary: The Singles Collection 1964-1972 (3 CD)
Price: CDN$ 44.98
19 used & new from CDN$ 44.89

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Four Tops Singles Collection: wonderful packaging with a book & most complete singles collection so far! Only from 1964 to 1972!, May 5 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
INTRODUCTION:

Four Tops is the legendary R&B vocal group from Detroit, Michigan, consisting of Levi Stubbs, Renaldo “Obie” Benson, Lawrence Payton and Abdul “Duke” Fakr. They first recorded for Chess in 1956, then Red Top and Columbia, before signing with Motown in 1963, lasting until 1972. Then they switched label to Dunhill/ABC from 1972 to 1976. They charted on Billboard Hot 100 from 1964 to 1988, with a total of 47 charted hits, two of them being No. 1 (I Can’t Help Myself, 1(2)/1965 and Reach Out I’ll Be There, 1(2)/1966). On the R&B chart, from 1964 to 1988, they amassed 52 charted hits. They also won Grammy’s Lifetime Achievement Award plus inducted into R&R Hall Of Fame in 1990. Payton died of cancer in 1997 (age 59). Benson died of cancer in 2005 (age 68). Stubbs died in 2008 (age 72).

CONTENTS:

This 3 CD set contains 78 songs (finally all the a- and b-sides arranged chronologically, charted and uncharted). Unfortunately, this Singles Collection only covers from 1964-1972, the Motown era.

POSITIVE POINTS:
01 This is the most complete Singles Collection of the Four Tops with Motown to date, including many rare b-sides, not available before and making their CD debut! This set simply bested the two previous Greatest Hits releases: Anthology (2 CDs)(1986) and 19 Greatest Hits (1984, Japan).
02 In Disc 3, 14 UK-only singles (a and b-sides) plus 3 Italian Singles are included.
03 The packaging is wonderful. Instead of the usual thick CD cases, we have a 60-page book, measuring 8.1 x 7.25”, with many wonderful pictures of the group, picture sleeve covers, and detailed discography essays. This really reminded me of the Bear Family box sets, except this is a smaller size. Well done.
04 The sound is good, with no hiss.
05 Two versions of their most popular songs (I Can’t Help Myself and It’s The Same Old Song) were included.

NEGATIVE POINTS:
01 For a 3 CD set, the price is rather expensive. But the high price is balanced by the wonderful packaging plus many rare b-sides making their CD debut! Buying from seller definitely will lessen the pain!
02 Since the releasing label is Motown, naturally only the Motown era was covered (1964 to 1972). From 1972 to 1988, there are 16 charted hits, not included here. But most of them are found in their 50th Anniversary Anthology (2CDs, Hipo, 2004) and Keepers Of The Castle: Their Best 1972 – 1978 (MCA, 1997). But a lot of b-sides are still missing.
03 In 1965, Ain’t That Love/Lonely Summer on Columbia label charted (93/1965), but not included in this current set.

HIP-O RECORDS:

Hip-O Records, together with Motown, has released Singles Collection box sets with a great book on 4 major artists: Diana Ross & The Supremes, the Temptations (my two reviews elsewhere), Four Tops (currently being reviewed), and Martha & The Vandellas (which I have recently purchased when the price finally dropped to an acceptable level, and will be reviewed when I receive that set).

FINAL THOUGHTS:

This is the most complete comprehensive collection of the Singles output by the Four Tops when they were with Motown, with wonderful packaging in the form of a book, many rare b-sides finally available for the first time, with many beautiful rare picture sleeves and pictures of the group, plus good discography, thus justifying the high price. I am very happy with this set, not perfect, but it does satisfy collectors like myself. This set is highly recommended.

I Believe
I Believe
Offered by HSR Mailorder
Price: CDN$ 139.94
2 used & new from CDN$ 139.94

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frankie Laine (I Believe): 163 songs (1951 to 1955), many hits plus duets; great sound; fantastic book; detailed discography!, May 4 2014
This review is from: I Believe (Audio CD)
INTRODUCTION:

Frankie Laine was born Francesco Paolo LoVecchio on March 30, 1913 in Chicago, Illinois. Frankie’s swirling musical melodramas made him one of the top singing stars of the decade after World War II. Frankie Laine first started recording in 1945 under labels like Goldseal, Beltone and Atlas. But most people will start his singing career when he joined Mercury label in 1946. The Mercury period lasted from 1946 to 1950. His major output was on Columbia label (from 1951 to 1962). The third period was when he was with Capitol (1963, one album) and ABC (1963 – 1969). Often billed as America's Number One Song Stylist, his other nicknames include Mr. Rhythm, Old Leather Lungs, and Mr. Steel Tonsils. He was a successful singer, songwriter and actor, whose career spanned 75 years, from his first concerts in 1930 with a marathon dance company to his final performance of That's My Desire on PBS Special in 2005 at age 91, despite a recent stroke. He received a standing ovation. It proved to be his swan song to the world of popular music. Frankie died of heart failure on February 6, 2007 (age 93).

Bear Family from Germany has released 3 box sets on Frankie Laine:
(1) That Lucky Old Sun (1944 to 1951) 6 CDs (2000)
(2) I Believe (1951 to 1955) 6 CDs (2001)
(3) Rawhide (1956 to 1964) 9 CDs (2002)

The above box sets only covered his period until Columbia. His singles output on ABC can be found in The Very Best Of (ABC Years) on Taragon (1996). I hope that Bear Family Records will eventually do a box set on his ABC Years, like they did for other major artists: Doris Day, Everly Brothers, Nat King Cole and Ricky Nelson.

CONTENT:

This gigantic box set contains 6 CDs with a total of 163 songs, covering the period from 1951 to 1955.

POSITIVE POINTS:
1 As noted above, there are 165 songs, covering the period from 1951 to 1955. All the singles (charted and uncharted, a and b-sides) are all here. All the album tracks are also included, plus the 6th CD devoted to songs direct from movies (movie versions) or TV Theme (not pop version). Complete is an understatement. The major hits, like Jezebel, Rose, Rose I Love You, Jealousy (Jalousie), High Noon, I Believe, plus all the duets with Jo Stafford (Hey Good Lookin’, In The Cool, Cool, Cool Of The Evening, Way Down Yonder In New Orleans), with Doris Day (Sugarbush) and with Jimmy Boyd (the novelty song: Tell Me A Story), are included.
2 There is a huge hard-cover table-size book, 12” x 12”, with great essay and pictures. To me, the real treasure is the detailed discography, with dates of recordings, personnel, and most important of all, label & number are included. A detailed Complete Singles Discography is not available on the internet. Through this book, I managed to do a Complete Singles Discography on Frankie Laine, (charted and uncharted, label & number, year and chart position). Thank you, Bear Family.
3 Another treasure from this book is the inclusion of picture sleeves, album covers, label covers. These pictures are not readily available.
4 The sound is superb as per high standard at Bear Family. Great job in remastering.
5 All the songs are original versions. No re-recorded versions.

NEGATIVE POINT:
1 The price! This is an expensive box sets. I have bought over 40 Bear Family box sets, and despite of the high cost and being a collector, I still find it is worthwhile. Further, buy these box sets while the artists are still alive. Once they passed away, the price would inevitably go up, like Frankie Laine’s box sets. Also buy them before they are out of print. Also watch out for high import duty charged at customs.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Frankie Laine is an iconic figure with his distinctive vocal style. He has 55 charted hits from 1945 to 1954, and 17 charted hits from 1955 to 1969. His hits are too numerous to list. He was also the first artist to use a Chinese song and make it his own, using English lyrics. The song is Rose, Rose, I Love You, originally sung by Yao Li in China. Despite of high cost, I am glad to have purchased this box set (plus the other two: my reviews elsewhere). If you own these 3 box sets, you will have “everything” that Frankie Laine released from 1944 to 1964. Being a collector, this is a dream come true. This set is definitely for collectors.

Singles As And Bs
Singles As And Bs
Price: CDN$ 25.32
24 used & new from CDN$ 9.97

5.0 out of 5 stars Unit 4 + 2: Singles As & Bs: 30 songs (Complete Singles Output, a & b-sides, charted & uncharted, UK & US; great sound!, May 3 2014
This review is from: Singles As And Bs (Audio CD)
INTRODUCTION:

Unit 4 + 2 is a pop rock band from Hertfordshire, England. The group had its origins in an instrumental outfit called the Hunters, featuring guitarist Brian Parker. Brian Parker recruited Thomas Moeller (main vocalist, guitar, keyboards), Peter Moules (vocals, autoharp, guitar and banjo), David Meikle (vocals, guitar), and Hugh Halliday (drums). Brian Parker had to leave due to ill health. Howard Lubin replaced him on guitar and vocals. Peter Moules was replaced by Rod Gardwood on bass guitar on their 2nd album. Unit 4 + 2 was initially signed to Decca, later to Fontana, and released 14 singles. They had 2 albums and 4 EPs. Their biggest hit was Concrete and Clay (UK 1/1965; US 28/1965).

CONTENT:

True to the title of this album, this set by Repertoire Records from Germany contains all the singles by the group (a and b-sides, charted and uncharted) in both UK and US.

POSITIVE POINTS:
1 This is the first CD with the Complete Singles Discography on Unit 4 + 2. All the a and b-sides, charted and uncharted, on both Decca and Fontana labels (UK) and London (US), are included.
2 There are 2 bonus tracks: Oo Momma Do and Railroad Man, the single a and b-sides by Parker-Moeller Reunion.
3 All the tracks are in mono, except bonus tracks. They are very well remastered with good vibrancy and no hiss.
4 All the songs are original versions. No re-recorded versions.
5 There is a 12-page booklet with a detailed essay about the group by Chris Welch, plus many beautiful coloured picture sleeves.
6 The information about label & number is included.

NEGATIVE POINTS:
1 This set only contains their singles output. However, Repertoire Records had released a CD containing the 2 original albums, with bonus tracks on EPs (1993). Deram label also released a CD Concrete and Clay with 25 songs, including all the EP tracks (1993). I notice on the Amazon.ca website that RPM, another reputable reissue label, is releasing a 2 CD set called Complete Recordings 1964 to 1969, by Unit 4 + 2, to be released on May 6, 2014. Maybe the album and EP tracks are included?
2 There is no chart position.
3 The price is a little expensive. But with sellers, the price is certainly reasonable. I bought my set from UK for £7.3. In restrospect, with the low Canadian $ plus shipping cost, buying from local seller is very attractive idea. I have to rethink my purchasing strategy on UK releases in the future.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

1965 was a wonderful year for melodic pop, like It’s Not Unusual (Tom Jones), Mr. Tambourine Man (the Byrds), Go Now (the Moody Blues) and Make It Easy On Yourself (the Walker Brothers). Certainly, the bossa nova beat and pleasant acoustic guitar playing on Concrete and Clay was refreshing and once heard, the tune seemed to stay in the mind for all eternity. If you are a collector, this set is a good collection of their complete singles output with good sound and 2 bonus tracks. This set is recommended, but mainly for collectors.

Vol. 87-Now That's What I Call Music!
Vol. 87-Now That's What I Call Music!
Price: CDN$ 34.06
23 used & new from CDN$ 19.67

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Now That’s What I Call Music! 87 (UK)(2CDs): 46 charted pop songs mainly from UK with perfect sound!, May 3 2014
HISTORY:

Now That's What I Call Music! (1983–present) (often shortened to Now!) is a series of various artists compilation albums released in the United Kingdom and Ireland by EMI. Spinoff series were later introduced in South Africa (1984) and many other countries worldwide, including the United States in 1998, and Israel in 1999. Since its launch in the UK in 1983, the series has amassed over 100 million album sales worldwide, and each volume always debut at Number 1 on the UK album chart.

CONTENT:

Now That’s What I Call Music 87 was released in UK on April 7, 2014, and debut at Number 1 on the UK album compilation chart, still No. 1 after 3 weeks. Although a song listing is included on Amazon.ca, I have compiled a more detailed listing (with chart position in US & UK, with personal comments), which is as follows:

Disc 1:
01 Happy – Pharrell Williams (US 1(10 & counting)/2014; AC 1/2014; ADULT POP: 1/2014; UK 1(3)/2014)*although Let It Go from Frozen earned the Oscar for Best Original Song, Happy definitely earns the hearts of pop music lovers; it is also an intermediate line dance, titled Clap Happy! A real workout!
02 My Love – Route 94, featuring Jess Glynne (UK 1/2014; SCOTLAND 1/2014)*non-album single, a rare treat here!
03 I’m A Freak – Enrique Iglesisas, featuring Pitbull (UK 4/2014)*his latest hit, El Perdidor is No. 1 on US Latin chart; the Bachata mix is a great line dance tune.
04 Hey Brother – Avicii (US 16/2013; UK 4/2013; SWEDEN 1/2013)*great follow-up to Wake Me Up!
05 Dark Horse – Katy Perry (US 1(4)/2014; UK 4/2014)*2nd No. 1 hit from her Prism album
06 Money On My Mind – Sam Smith (UK 1/2014)
07 Word Up! – Little Mix (UK 6/2014)
08 She Looks So Perfect – 8 Seconds Of Summer (US 47/2014; UK 1/2014; AUSTRALIA 1/2014)*their album She Looks So Perfect (US 2/2014; CANADA 1/2014)
09 Wrecking Ball – Miley Cyrus (US 1(3)/2014; UK 1/2014; CANADA 1/2014)
10 Nasty – Pixie Lott (UK 9/2014)
11 Story Of My Life – One Direction (US 6/2014; UK 2/2014)
12 Let Me Go – Gary Barlow (UK 2/2013; SCOTLAND 1/2013)
13 If I Lose Myself – OneRepublic vs Alesso)(US 74/2013; UK 8/2013)*the hit just before their biggest hit Counting Stars, still one of my favourite.
14 Ready For Your Love – Gorgon City, Featuring MNEK (UK 4/2014; UK DANCE 2/2014)* English electronic music production duo, consisting of two North London producers Kye "Foamo" Gibbon and Matt "RackNRuin" Robson-Scott.
15 The Vamps – Wild Heart (UK 3/2014)
16 Do What U Want – Lady Gaga, featuring R. Kelly (US 13/2013; UK 9/2013)
17 Do It All Over Again – Elyar Fox (UK 5/2014)
18 Crying For No Reason – Katy B (UK 5/2014)*her album Little Red debut at No. 1.
19 All Of Me – John Legend (US 2/2014; UK 2/2014)*beautiful ballad, stuck at No. 2 because of Happy…but the battle is not finished yet!
20 Say Something – A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera (US 4/2013; UK 4/2013; CANADA 1/2013)
21 How Long Will I Love You – Ellie Goulding (UK 3/2014)*follow up to her smash Burn.
22 Skyscrapper – Sam Bailey (UK 1/2014; IRELAND 1/2014; SCOTLAND 1/2014)*2013 X-Factor winner in UK; her CD The Power of Love debut at No. 1 in UK & sounds fantastic (my review elsewhere)

Disc 2:
01 #SELFIE – The Chainsmokers (US 16/2014; UK 11/2014)* The Chainsmokers are a New York City-based disc jockey/producer/songwriter duo consisting of members Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall.
02 Timber – Pitbull, featuring Ke$ha (US 1(3)/2014; UK 1/2014)*big hit also used as a line dance song.
03 Tsunami (Jump) – DVBBS & Borgeous, featuringTinie Tempah (UK 1/2014)*debut at No. 1.
04 Under Control – Calvin Harris & Alesso, featuring Hurts (UK 1/2014)*debut at No. 1.
05 Wizard – Martin Garrix & Jay Hardway (UK 7/2013)*follow up to his giant hit Animals.
06 Red Lights – Tiesto (UK 6/2013; UK DANCE 2/2013)* Dutch trance DJ/producer.
07 I Got U – Duke Dumont, featuring Jax Jones (UK 1/2014)*debut at No. 1.
08 Of The Night – Bastille (UK 2/2013)
09 Kids Again – Example (UK 13/2014)
10 Move – Little Mix (UK 3/2014)
11 Braveheart – Neon Jungle (UK 4/2014)*British 4 piece girl group.
12 Dibby Dibby Sound – DJ Fresh vs Jay Fay, featuring Ms. Dynamite (UK 3/2014; UK DANCE 2/2014)
13 Dr. Who! – Tujamo & Plastik Funk, featuring Sheakbo (UK 21/2014)
14 Thank You – Busta Rhymes, featuring Q-Tip, Kanye West & Lil Wayne (UK 13/2013)
15 Million Pound Girl (Badder Than Bad) – Fuse ODG (UK 5/2013)
16 Out Of My Head (Club Edit) – John Newman (UK 94/2014)*follow up to his No. 1 hit Love Me Again.
17 Turn Back Time – Sub Focus (UK 10/2013)
18 Control – Matrix & Futurebound, featuring Max Marshall (UK 7/2013; UK DANCE 2/2013)
19 Let Go For Tonight – Foxes (UK 7/2014)*English singer
20 Can’t Rely On You – Paloma Faith (UK 10/2014)
21 Dance With Me – Le Youth, featuring Dominique Young Unique (UK 11/2014)* an American electronic musician, DJ, and producer; real name: Wes James.
22 Hey Now – London Grammar (UK 37/2014)
23 Riptide – Vance Joy (UK 10/2014; AUSTRALIA 6/2014)* an Australian singer-songwriter; real name: James Keogh.
24 Best Day Of My Life – American Authors (US 11/2013; US ADULT 1/2013; UK 17/2013)

POSITIVE POINTS:
1 This is a great collection of hit songs, especially many rare ones from UK. There are 10 No. 1 hits. Some of the hits are non-album singles. Getting 46 songs in one collection is simply great.
2 The remastered audio from this set is simply PERFECT! I wish other producers will take note and take the same care in presenting their music.
3 There is a nice 12-page booklet, containing album covers of all the artists.

NEGATIVE POINTS:
1 This 2 CD set is rather expensive. I bought this from UK for £10. But with the low Canadian $ plus shipping, I have to reconsider my strategy to purchase UK releases in the future.
2 There is no detailed chart position.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

I personally keep an eye on the weekly US charts (Billboard Hot 100, AC and C&W) and UK charts. I am quite familiar with most of the songs in this set. Many songs are popular only in UK and are difficult or expensive to find over here in Canada as imports. Now series presents a good way to collect these UK gems. The sound of the entire set is perfect, vibrant and clean. If you like modern pop music, the UK Now series is the best of all: 2 CDs with 46 songs, while Now 49 (US) has only 20 song. This set is highly recommended.

Provocative Piano I & II
Provocative Piano I & II
Price: CDN$ 20.37
19 used & new from CDN$ 7.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dick Hyman & Orchestra: Provocative Piano Vol. 1 & 2: 2 rare wonderful albums on Command label, making their CD debut!, May 3 2014
INTRODUCTION:

Richard “Dick" Hyman was born on March 8, 1927 in Manhattan, New York. He was a famous pianist, composer, conductor and arranger. He toured Europe with Benny Goodman in 1950. He was music director of Arthur Godfrey And His Friends from 1958 – 1962. In the 1960s, Hyman recorded several innovative pop albums on Enoch Light's Command Records. At first, he used the Lowrey organ, later replaced by Moog synthesizer. His most famous single, however, was Moritat (A Theme From The Three Penny Opera)(8/1956) The Minotaur, by Dick Hyman & His Electric Eclectics, also made the Top 40 (38/1969).

CONTENT:

This CD from Sepia Records contains two complete albums with 24 songs by Dick Hyman & His Orchestra: Provocative Piano Volume I (Command 811)(1960) and Provocative Piano Volume II (Command 824)(1961).

Since Amazon.ca did not provide a song listing, I have compiled the song listing which is as follows:

PROVOCATIVE PIANO VOLUME I (Command 811)(1960):
01 CUMANA
02 NEAR YOU
03 POLONAISE (IN A-FLAT MAJOR)
04 AUTUMN LEAVES
05 TCHAIKOVSKY: PIANO CONCERTO NO. 1
06 CANADIAN SUNSET
07 WARSAW CONCERTO
08 SUNRISE SERENADE
09 MISERLOU
10 CHOPIN: NOCTURNE IN E-FLAT
11 NOLA
12 AUTUMN NOCTURNE
PROVOCATIVE PIANO VOLUME II (Command 824)(1961):
13 VOODOO MOON
14 MOONGLOW/THEME FROM PICNIC
15 KITTEN ON THE KEYS
16 SNOWFALL
17 THE SABRE DANCE
18 DEEP PURPLE
19 BOOGIE WOOGIE
20 SOFT SUMMER BREEZE
21 HEART AND SOUL
22 LIEBESTRAUM
23 THEME FROM THE APARTMENT
24 MACK THE KNIFE

POSITIVE POINTS:
1 Dick Hyman’s albums are hard to come by, especially CDs. These two albums with many familiar songs are indeed a rare treat, making their CD debut!
2 Sepia Records uses Cedar 24 bit Mastering. As per their high standard, the remastered sound is clean and vibrant, simply top of the line.
3 There is a 8-page booklet containing the original LP liner notes. The two front album covers are featured each on an entire page.
4 The price is certainly reasonable, especially from sellers. I bought mine from Amazon.co.uk for £5.31. But with the low Canadian $ plus shipping, I would rethink my strategy to wait and buy from sellers in the future.

NEGATIVE POINTS:
1 There is no chart information on the booklet.
2 One page of the booklet was devoted to their advertisement. I would have preferred to have the back covers of the albums included too, one for each page.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

I hope reissue labels, like Real Gone Music, Jasmine Records and Sepia Records will release more Dick Hyman albums in the future. The best will be the type by Real Gone Music: 8 Classics Albums on 4 CDs. I personally like to collect as many albums on Command label as possible, like Enoch Light, Tony Mottola and Ray Charles Singers (their latest CD release Something Wonderful: my review elsewhere). If you like crisp piano style, Dick Hyman is definitely up your alley. The sound is remastered exceedingly well. With the rarity of his albums, the price is certainly reasonable (from sellers). This CD is highly recommended.

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