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5.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal
This is the best Spiritualized album since Lazer Guided Melodies and Pure Phase. And it is worlds better than the overproduced an artifical feeling Let It Come Down. I even feel it is better than Ladies and Gentleman... J. Spaceman has once again connected to the raw spirit and energy manifesting from within himself that defined those two earlier works. He has once...
Published on Sept. 15 2003

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3.0 out of 5 stars Hmmmm....
I honestly still don't know what to think about this yet. I've been listening to it non-stop since it hit the shelves and while trying not to compare it to past Spiritualized releases, I still can't grasp some of this. On one hand, there are phenominal songs on here ("Hold On", "Oh Baby", and "Lord Let it Rain on Me"), but then there's tracks...
Published on Jan. 14 2004 by mike


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4.0 out of 5 stars A noisy blast, and, hopefully, a hint of new directions, July 1 2004
This review is from: Amazing Grace (Audio CD)
Just looking at the cover of this album - what I assume is Jason Pierce's arm, free of track marks - shows that some attempt is being made to escape past demons here. Not entirely successfully, I'd say. But the sound of this album is, to be sure, quite a break from the direction of Spiritualized's prior two offerings. Stripped down, raucus, noisy - this sounds closer to Pierce's old Spacemen 3 days than anything I've heard from him in a while.
Does it work? Sort of. As I said, Pierce can't quite let go of the demons. Perhaps because he suspects that, without herion and heartbreak, he wouldn't have anything to write about. (Which I hope is not the case). Whatever the case, the first half of the album is, while enjoyable and noisy (and yes, the second track has quite a clever name indeed), nothing all that new. It's almost as though, by stripping down, Pierce is revealing that he's been playing around with the same few song structures that he's been using for years.
Then, following the obligatory free-jazz joint 'The Power & The Glory,' things start to get more interesting. 'Lord Let it Rain on Me' uses the familiar gospel sound that Pierce has empoyed before, but weds it to a somewhat more conventional structure, resulting in another surprisingly successful flirtation with a pop song. 'The Ballad of Richie Lee' is unlike anything I've yet heard from Pierce - throbbing bass, atonal strings, semi-rhythmic distorted guitar, the usual anguished murmurs - it's quite good indeed.
And the rest of the album seems to follow in this vein, loosening up, and starting to branch out a bit. It's a weird, almost disjointed listen. I enjoy it, but it's not a masterpiece. What it is, I hope, is the taste of Spiritualized's future - a little more mature, a little looser, a little more thoughtful. Maybe Pierce just needed to one last blast at the demons. This gives me hope for the future and for coming albums.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Um What?, Jan. 22 2004
This review is from: Amazing Grace (Audio CD)
I have heard a lot about Spiritualized for several years, but never took the plunge and bought a CD. I bought Amazing Grace right before Christmas 2003. Now - I'm an open minded kinda guy. I think distortion a-la Richie Hawtin is cool. I like Sugar/Bob Mould. I'm down with Sounds of Blackness. So, I popped in Amazing Grace and hit play.
Discordant and unrelenting, this album plugs through over 10 songs of complete crap. The single good track, "Lord Let It Rain On Me" provides a brief period of respite, but the overwhelming desire I felt during most of my listening experience was to rend my cd player open, grab the album, and toss it out my window while screaming.
I suppose that this qualifies as "experimental." No doubt someone will find meaning in the sheer chaos that this album exudes. It's not me. Moby beat Spiritualized at its own game with Play (which, despite its licensing appeal, was a good album). If you want chillout, buy a Hanou or Madlib album. If you want gospel, buy Sounds of Blackness. For gods sake, don't buy this.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Hmmmm...., Jan. 14 2004
By 
mike (Philadelphia, PA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Amazing Grace (Audio CD)
I honestly still don't know what to think about this yet. I've been listening to it non-stop since it hit the shelves and while trying not to compare it to past Spiritualized releases, I still can't grasp some of this. On one hand, there are phenominal songs on here ("Hold On", "Oh Baby", and "Lord Let it Rain on Me"), but then there's tracks where they hit the distortion pedal and try to emulate the sound they seemed to have abandoned since their previous efforts. I really don't know if the record fits right as a whole. It all just seems like a square peg trying to get jammed into a round hole sometimes. Don't get me wrong, I love everything J. Spaceman has given me, and I'm almost positive that in due time this record will settle and become yet another favorite of mine, but be warned, both loyal Spaceman fans and new listeners, this album is more of an acquired taste than a quick fix of ear candy. This is still probably better most of the horse dung that got released in 2003.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Ahhhh.........., Jan. 11 2004
By 
J. Rossi (Downers Grove, IL) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Amazing Grace (Audio CD)
I endured the release of "Let it Come Down" with a thick skin and the knowledge that things couldn't get much worse. I was surprised that the usually mercurious J. Spaceman put a new album out merely two years after the last one, but after letting this one spin in the CD player for a while I was glad he didn't hesitate in releasing this.
"Amazing Grace" is nearly not a Spiritualized album. The songs are short, the production is stripped and the music is simplistic for J. Spaceman.
Openers `This Little Life of Mine' and `She Kissed Me (It Felt Like a Hit)' harken back to the days of `Electricity' from "Ladies and Gentlemen..." but that's not a bad thing. It seems that Mr. Pierce absorbed some cues from BRMC when they toured: These songs are simply noisy rock n roll songs that don't give an F about anything but the song.
`Hold On' and `Oh Baby' return to the expected Spaceman sound but not in some tired or stale way. On any previous Spiritualized albums these songs would have been two separate seven minute masterpieces; as it is they barely ecplipse seven minutes combined. `Hold On' is nearly a country-western Christian ballad, but in the hands of the capable Spaceman it accomplshes something more. `Oh Baby' is another ballad, this time a whisper soft whisp of ambient hum and gospel choir that sounds like what I imagine the ascension to Heaven to feel like. It is also pure beauty committed to tape that is best appreciated with a full soul.
`Never Goin' Back' brings back the stripped down rock sound again before `The Power and the Glory' soothes you with its bluesy intstrumental crawl. `Lord Let it Rain on Me' is a plaintive cry to an indifferent deity that is simply too good to pass up.
I didn't think much of `The Ballad of Richie Lee' at first, but successve listens reveal its lyrical density. If I could ever write a song or poem this complex about a lost loved one/friend, I would consider it my greatest achivement. `Cheapster' is another raw rocker, but at this point on the album it feels out of place, and `Rated x' is basically a `Richie Lee' reprise. If I ever burn this CD `Rated X' stays and `Richie Lee' is gone, mostly because of the former's orchestral beauty. `Lay it Down Slow' sounds like how you think it might, and it is the perfect closer for the album.
I like the fact the J. Spaceman is re-discovering his love for rock and roll again, but most of the upbeat tunes on this album sound too similar, that's why I don't give it the full five stars. However, after the disappointment of the previous album these 11 songs are exactly what a long time fan such as myself needed, and having seen the tour behind this album only helped my appreciation grow. If you see this album buy it, and if the Spaceman ever comes to your town see him. It can only do you good.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal, Sept. 15 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Amazing Grace (Audio CD)
This is the best Spiritualized album since Lazer Guided Melodies and Pure Phase. And it is worlds better than the overproduced an artifical feeling Let It Come Down. I even feel it is better than Ladies and Gentleman... J. Spaceman has once again connected to the raw spirit and energy manifesting from within himself that defined those two earlier works. He has once again personified for me and given musical expression to the existential malaise, the eternal transcendental longing for truth, which is bound always to be frustrated, and the disgust with hypocrisy and the evils of entrenched and dogmatic institutions (i.e., organized religion and societal structures) which I myself feel so strongly and that could not otherwise be expressed with such powerful subtelty. He offers no clear-cut redemption, but the beautiful expression of the music and his soulful lyrics allows one to participate with him in this cathartic endeavour of unburdening the soul of negativity and disgust with everything, indeed with life itself, and both the listener, and I suspect Pierce as well, come out the other side transformed. For me, this album is nothing less than a metaphorical confession. I am simply spent after one full listening. But just as in the real confession in Christianity (which one can feel with palpable urgency has shaped Pierce's background and outlook -- even if only to afflict him with these unanswered doubts as if he were Job himself from the Book of Job), I continually need to come back for more. Preach on Brother Pierce, preach on! We need your medicine!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Scaled-back Majesty, Sept. 14 2003
This review is from: Amazing Grace (Audio CD)
With the drama surrounding Spiritualized's new album, Amazing Grace, and their subsequent drop from major label Arista and signing on with Sanctuary, people had a right to be doubting how good the album would be, if it was ever to see the light of day at all. Well, rest assured people, this is still Spiritualized as we know them (well, him - J Spaceman) with only a slight difference from Let It Come Down, their last release. Gone are the hundred-plus musicians augmenting Spaceman, the huge gospel choirs, the brass section, etc. In their place are tigher song structures, more rock-focused melodies, and an overall emphasis on the base elements of Spiritualized's unique sound.
As the rumors go, Arista had a fallout with them over the more raw, garage-ish sound and they were dropped, to be picked up by small label Sanctuary. This may or may not be true, but the album as a whole sounds in no way like Spacemen 3's (Spaceman's previous band) droning, trance-garage crunchy sound. The first song, "This little life of mine" is a modern, crunchy, rocky play on the "this little light of mine, i'm gonna let it shine" gospel song, and sounds exactly like you'd think: they gave the pastor an electric guitar, loads of feedback, and a drop of acid. The next song, first single "She kissed me (it felt like a hit)" sounds like classic early Spiritualized, with overt drug analogies and a catchy chorus, which then fades into the slow burner "Hold on," the first work of beauty on this disc. The song offers the simple advice of holding on to the ones you love, but as always, sounds sincere and almost deep coming from this band. Other slow ballads on the album, including "oh baby" and "ballad of Richie Lee" offer the familiar warm, endearing quality of songs like "Broken Heart" or "Stop your crying" but without the overblown, theatrical sound that some found annoying or pretentious.
In fact, that statement describes this album pretty well: it sounds like modern, non-electronically augmented Spiritualized, but without the pretentiousness apparent after the Pure Phase album. (Not that pretentiousness is necesarilly bad: "Ladies and Gentlemen..." is still my favorite Spiritualized album). Lightly augmenting the mix are horns, a few strings here and there, but none of the full-blown orchestrations of old. This sounds like the album Spaceman may have wanted to make all along: taut, gripping, resourceful, affecting, yet rip-roaring rocking when it wants to be.
If a bigger suprise happens this year in rock music, it'll have to be a damn good one because the fact is, Spiritualized are back and just as good, if not better, than ever. I can see this album making Arista come crawling back to its senses and Spaceman's doorstep, begging forgiveness. Luckily Spiritualized didn't need them to make yet another fantastic album - this is my second highest recommendation this year, behind the mighty "Hail to the Thief" by Radiohead - good praise indeed.
Here's a nice quote from "Hold on" one of my early favorites:
"Cause death cannot part us if life already has, hold on to those you hold dear." I'll take this bit of simple advice to heart, and you should too. Like much of his lyrics, this has a simple, pure beauty to it, and so does "Amazing Grace."
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3.0 out of 5 stars In this case, less is not more, Sept. 12 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Amazing Grace (Audio CD)
A much more stripped down sounding album by one of the best bands in the last twenty years. In Spaceman's case, this isn't necessarily a good thing. It's not a bad album by any means, but if you have ever heard Spiritualized and were expecting something like "Ladies and Gentlemen We are Floating in Space" or 2001's "Let it Come Down" you will be sadly disappointed. This album has a lot more songs more in the vein of tracks like "electricity", but without the emotion. It turns out that the things Jason Pierce does well are droning, drug-inspired, well layered, and over-produced sweeping epic sounds- all of which he abandoned on this album - and it shows. What we're left with is an eleven track album of seemingly demos and throw-aways. There are a few good moments on the album (Lord, Let it Rain Down on Me makes you realize how much you miss the "Spiritualized" sound), but for the most part it's an uncohesive disappointment. These tracks could be good live tracks, but on an album just fall short. If "Ladies and Gentlemen We are Floating in Space" is "The Godfather" then "Amazing Grace" is "Problem Child".
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5.0 out of 5 stars Jason Pierce does it again., Jan. 29 2004
This review is from: Amazing Grace (Audio CD)
Spiritualized continue the terrific trend of not making an album deserving of less than a 9/10. Amazing Grace is an amalgam of all the finest points of previous albums - so if it's not quite as good as, say, Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space, it's still a worthy substitute. There's a steady stream of garage rock roar throughout, as though Spaceman has returned to declare that this crazy BRMC peddled rawk'n'roll which pervades the music scene lately was really of his creation - and he's right. "Hold On" and "Lord Let It Rain On Me" are the high points though, two desolate ballads mixing languid folk and gospel. There are also, like most Spiritualized records, a few exciting jazz experiments, particularly on "The Power and the Glory."
So Spiritualized have once more escaped straitjacket and made another record radically different from its predecessor. And it's damn good.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Grace may not be amazing, but still good, Sept. 15 2003
This review is from: Amazing Grace (Audio CD)
Comparing this CD with Spiritualized's more stellar releases will always fall short of expectations, but looking at 'Amazing Grace' as a seperate and distinct album is the point here. Their current effort combines the sonic jams of 'Ladies And Gentleman We're Floating And Space' and the gospel epiphanies of 'Let It Come Down'. In Jason Pierce's quest to find some divine enlightenment, Spiritualized seems to combine elements of their last 3 releases, blissed rockouts, heavenly choirs, and moodier introspective pieces. 'Amazing Grace' is more balanced than their last CD, generally a little more hardedged than spiritual catharsis, less overproduced with more direction. Some might find Pierce's search to find spiritual meaning in his music a tad formulaic and predictable. But instead of drawing inspiration from The Almighty with the last CD, perhaps the rock gods might be smiling this time around.
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4.0 out of 5 stars I like it quite a bit., Sept. 14 2003
By 
Benjamin J. Mihovk (Omaha, NE) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Amazing Grace (Audio CD)
As a record store employee, I hear many different complaints about many different albums. My least favorite complaint is "I liked their _____ album better." (whether it be first, last, or what have you). I don't see what there is not to like on "Amazing Grace". It's pure Spiritualized. Is it as good as "Ladies and Gentlemen...", of "Let It Come Down"? I don't think so. But what does that matter? I like "Dark Side of the Moon" better than I like "Animals", but that doesn't mean that I wouldn't recomend "Animals" to anyone. "Amazing Grace" may not be as good as previous efforts, but there is enough good on the album to help it stand on its own. Spiritualized was 3/3 before I bought "Amazing Grace." Based on that, I took a chance, and now the Spaceman is 4/4.
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