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loce_the_wizard "loce_the_wizard" (Lilburn, GA USA)

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Free Mars
Free Mars
8 used & new from CDN$ 11.97

4.0 out of 5 stars Sonic Sundae, July 15 2004
This review is from: Free Mars (Audio CD)
Listening to "Free Mars" by Lusk takes a bit of work and, but the payoff is worth the investment for those willing to make more than a casual effort. The sound is a sonic sundae, infused with psychedelic elements, layers of swirling sounds, and processed vocals that conjure up memories of early Brian Eno ("Here Come the Warm Jets," "Taking Tiger Mountain") but that sound modern, crisp, and well-thought out.
Harps, cellos, odd percussion, and horns round out the core sound built around guitars, keyboards, and electronic treatments. It's clear that there was quite a bit of studio time involved in getting these tracks in present form, and one can only wonder at what was edited in the process. (It would not have been a great loss if some of the studio banter had been also been chopped out.)
It's hard to pick a favorite track---I keep changing my mind---and the hidden bonus track called Blair's Spiders is hilarious (though not something that merits repeated listening, which makes it the perfect bonus track).
On another note, the packaging and design of "Free Mars" merit close inspection and reflect some inspired thinking.

Price: CDN$ 20.00
41 used & new from CDN$ 3.39

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still retains enough of the edginess and eccentricity, July 7 2004
This review is from: Benefit (Audio CD)
"Benefit" remains my favorite Jethro Tull recording, likely for all the wrong reasons. First, this was the first session where Ian Anderson and his band mates embraced folk music over the blues-tinged sound of their earlier work. Next, Martin Barre sounds engaged, determined, and focused on guitar, and his strong effort here keeps the music well grounded (something that is a failing on some Tull recordings in my opinion). Third, John Evan's returns to the fold and adds some stellar work on keyboards that greatly enrichs the sound. Fourth, I liked Glen Cornick's bass lines better than those by any other Tull bass player. Fifth, Ian Anderson crafted some of his best lyrics for "Benefit," avoiding the ornate and tiring style on both his later and subsequent Jethro Tull recordings. Sixth, Mr. Anderson plays some inspired flute and contributes some excellent acoustic guitar that meshes wonderfully with Mr. Barre's amped up electric guitar.
This recording still retains enough of the edginess and eccentricity that caused Jethro Tull to stand out during the band's early years and that caught my ear way back when. I would recommend getting the remastered CD more for the improved sound quality than the bonus tracks (which aren't bad though).

by Edward Allen
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
3 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Very "old school" and precise, June 21 2004
"How to Write and Speak Effective English" does not carry the same cachet as "The Elements of Style" or weigh of say "Hodges' Harbrace College Handbook." In some ways, though, it's a useful precursor to some of the more recent books on English usage such as Joseph Williams' excellent "Style" or the rather staid "Elements of Grammar."
The layout and design of this book work against it: small type, tight margins, and unimaginative design. But you might want a copy for your reference shelf if you are starting to gain experience as a writer, if you instruct others about writing, or if you wish to challenge yourself to improve your prose.
The author, Edward F. Allen, referring to Abraham Lincoln, contends that "If an unschooled railsplitter could learn to write effective English, you can." Mr. Allen takes the reader through a number of exercises intended to sharpen one's skills and expand one's knowledge of English. In essence, this book is a six-part course in the art of writing, common errors, pitfalls in usage, spelling, pronunciation, and punctuation and capitalization.
It's all very "old school" and precise---as one would expect from a primer first copyrighted in 1938. Clearly, a number of causes for which Mr. Allen waves the battle have been lost for years, but many have not, and his historical perspective offers value for those who feel that writing and speaking proper English is a skill worth developing.

Bryter Layer
Bryter Layer
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5.0 out of 5 stars Pulls one along with a gentle tension, June 21 2004
This review is from: Bryter Layer (Audio CD)
"Bryter Layter" superbly pulls one along with a gentle tension: the music is arranged in a largely upbeat manner. Yet Nick Drake often sings about detachment as though it offers stability. It's as though he is the catalyst, melding jazzy riffs and structures with his lyrics that conjure up images of what was, what should have been, what could have been.
Even the instrumental tracks evoke a longing, a need for completion, a yin-yang that does not quite fit.
How anyone could quibble about the significance of this session escapes me: pairing Nick Drake with peers such as Thompson, Dave Pegg and Dave Mattacks from Fairport Convention; John Cale; and Chris McGregor who contributes some excellent piano on Poor Boy is like a folk-rock dream team.
Mr. Drake's delicate vocals and the deft arrangements are the gossamer that binds this session, and "Bryter Layter" should ultimately be remembered for its myriad strengths instead of a foil for the rest of Mr. Drake's work or as a prescient-laden testimony to Mr. Drake's subsequent depression and death.

The Writer's Art
The Writer's Art
by James J. Kilpatrick
Edition: Hardcover
24 used & new from CDN$ 0.45

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading for Serious Writers, June 3 2004
This review is from: The Writer's Art (Hardcover)
In his introduction to The Writer's Art, James J. Kilpatrick states "My purpose in this book is primarily to venture a few suggestions, based upon a lifetime as a writer, on how good writers can bet to be better writers." To that end, Mr. Kilpatrick applies knowledge, wit, and wisdom in distinguishing levels of writing and offers advice and examples that will help any serious writer hone his or her skills.
He supports the idea that "English composition does indeed have standards of excellence and levels of quality." It's hard not to despair, however, the current state of the language: language arts teachers rarely include writing as part of the curriculum; rap and hip-hop "artists" make butchering the language a sport; officials crank out numbing reports full o jargon and passive voice construction; few politicians have the backbone to decree English our official language much less communicate precisely.
Still, those who wish to write well should have this book close at hand. Mr. Kilpatrick spends equal effort telling us what we ought not to do and what we ought to be doing to improve our writing. The breadth of examples he cites to make his points should cause most readers to wince at some point. Yet I find this book inspiring and even uplifting.
It's true some sections are dated now. The chapter called "The Tools We Live By" mentions a number of books and references that have since been updated or sadly gone out of print. Yet, these are still relevant, useful texts.
After a whimsical explanation as to why he titled the seventh chapter "My Crochets and Your Crochets," Mr. Kilpatrick covers a myriad of usage issues: the distinction between such pairs as appraise and apprise, blatant and flagrant, and prescribe and proscribe; the use and misuse of words such as impact, only, and verdict; and the proper usage of words such as hopefully and impact.
The time spent with The Writer's Art, whether perusing for favorite topics or pursuing his broader themes, is time well spent.

Elements of Grammar
Elements of Grammar
by Margaret Shertzer
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.75
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Stiff, Lifeless, Taciturn Overview, June 1 2004
This review is from: Elements of Grammar (Paperback)
"The Elements of Grammar," intended as a companion for the excellent "The Elements of Style," suffers from a stiff, lifeless presentation that detracts mightily from the grammatical advice. The format of the book itself hinders the reader: the type is too small and relentlessly the same; the examples that follow the rules are set in even smaller type; no visual guides or aids link paired columns of text, making one's eyes climb up and down; and the chapters lack any internal navigational devices to help the reader find his or her way.
The author's explanations lack the authority required for this book to find a spot on my desk. For instance, we are told that a comma may be used to separate the month from the year when the date is omitted, but that current usage permits writing the month and year without a comma between them. I prefer the definitive advice in "The Chicago Manual of Style," which indicates no comma is needed when a month and year appear without the date.
In discussing the use of colons to introduce a list, the author allows a colon to follow a verb, bringing the sentence to a dead stop and interrupting the connection of verb and object or complement.
References to the Government Printing Office Style Manual do not help her case. That style manual is hopelessly outdated and insular
In fairness, Ms. Shertzer delivers a no-frills, somewhat taciturn overview to grammar and usage and one could do much worse than to follow most of the advice here. But this book is not the first choice for a novice editor or young writer unless already thoroughly steeped in the rules and practice of grammar. And in that case, this book's usefulness would be minimal. Seasoned editors and writers would not find this book that useful and many no doubt have nearly new, little used copies of this book wedged into their reference shelves.

Another Round (Live)
Another Round (Live)
Offered by importcds__
Price: CDN$ 17.60
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4.0 out of 5 stars Spirited and Spunky Live Set, May 25 2004
This review is from: Another Round (Live) (Audio CD)
"Another Round---Live" captures a spirited set by Stewart & Winfield (the ampersand is part of the name) that covers songs from all of their studio albums. There is plenty to like here for any fan of country rock, southern rock, or even just good harmonies.
The band uses this live set to stretch out a bit, lengthening the songs and playing with quite a bit of spunk. Stewart and Winfield craft a comfortable web of sound strumming their acoustic guitars and singing up a storm.
I don't like to do play by play accounts of the songs, but I would call out Head and Heart a real rocker that lets everyone in the band gets his chance to be front and center and We're in Trouble Now which features a great "conversation" between Jason Fuller's electric piano and Nick Worley's electric guitar.
Throw this one in the CD player and head out for the back roads for an aimless drive or to the backyard for horseshoes and cold beers.

Fresh Evidence
Fresh Evidence
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An honest rendering of blues-infused rock, May 21 2004
This review is from: Fresh Evidence (Audio CD)
It's hard to understate just how much Rory Gallagher's honest rendering of blues-infused rock are missed. Unlike many of his contemporaries, such as Eric Clapton, who softened their stance or others who embraced showboating over substance, Rory was always a denim and flannel poster child who drained every ounce of emotion from his guitar.
His final studio session, "Fresh Evidence," again shows Rory to be on a mission to put his stamp on every style of blues. He succeeds better than one might imagine, in part to his skills, in part to his understanding of the music he loved, and in part to have a crack band surrounding him.
It's hard to pick favorites among such diverse tracks as Kid Gloves, Heaven's Gate, The Loop, and Slumming Angel, but I might have to go with the ironically titled Ghost Blues because Rory, his long-time bassist Gerry McAvoy, and drummer Brendan O'Neil create a wall of sound so tight it might repel water.
A few stumbles, notably The King of Zydeco, do not detract greatly from another excellent effort, and despite 20 plus years of mining the blues, Rory still found a way to keep things fresh and lively.

Family: Live
Family: Live
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Price: CDN$ 57.38
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4.0 out of 5 stars Brisk, Robust Performances, May 17 2004
This review is from: Family: Live (Audio CD)
The somewhat startling but much-welcomed appearance of this official "Family Live" CD is a relief of die-hard fans of Family but at the same time raises some possible "good news, bad news" issues.
"Family Live" captures the band on stage during the all too brief tenure of the lineup that recorded the classic albums "Fearless" and "Bandstand." The sound quality here is much better than the "BBC Live" CD (and miles ahead of anything available on the numerous live bootlegs), and the band sounds more focused and robust here than on the live tracks that compliment the studio tracks on "Anyway."
Family's blistering live sessions are something of legend, and supposedly Jimi Hendrix made sure he never had to follow Family after once being upstaged by their performance. Whether that story is true or not, some of that same energy pulses through these tracks, four of which were drawn from "Fearless" and the balance from earlier Family recordings. This is creative, smart rock, nothing pretentious or outlandish.
As a long-time fan, the music in this live set is worth five stars to me. But I was disappointed by the relative shortness of the CD---it is just under 57 minutes---and many live tracks, including additional numbers as well as some of these, are showing up as "bonus" tracks on the latest round of Family remasters. I would much rather have had a double CD of all this live material and hope that the remaining live material will be issued together instead of piecemeal. The artwork, photos, and liner notes should have been better for a CD this important. There is plenty of history to draw from. (Compare the quality of what's here with Streetwalkers live and you will see what I mean.)
One has to also wonder where this music has been languishing all these years. If "Family Live" had been released in 1972 could it have been the breakthrough album Family never had?
Roger Chapman sounds great, brimming with power, and showing his playful, madcap side perhaps more fully than on Family's studio sessions. Charlie Whitney as always, comes across as the consummate guitarist, conjuring up riffs and solos that rank among the best of the day. Rob Townsend's drumming keeps things in order here, moving matters along briskly and crisply. John Wetton punctuates the sound on bass and chimes in on some vocals. Poli Palmer brings a freshness on keyboards; his forays into vibes, flute, and synthesizer alternate from being a needed flourish to sounding harsh and out of place.
All things considered, hearing Family captured live during their heyday makes me fervently wish I could roll back the years or time travel to hear some of the greatest rock of any time.

Offered by thebookcommunity_ca
Price: CDN$ 111.23
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4.0 out of 5 stars A bluesy, gritty, and sometimes blistering last testament, May 11 2004
This review is from: Live (Audio CD)
"Streetwalker's Live" provides a fitting last testament to the tenure of Streetwalkers as one of rock's most underappreciated bands. The sound you hear may not be technically perfect by today's standards, but this remastered session captures the energy and passion of real musicians laying it all out there instead of relying on technology from studio dubs or feathered costumes and makeup to deflect attention from their shortcomings.
It took me many years to appreciate Streetwalkers, for I fell into a trap of comparing this bluesy, gritty band with the more progressive Family. (Roger Chapman and Charlie Whitney were the principal songwriters in both bands---hence, one might naturally have expected more common ground between the music of the two groups.) Some have claimed that this last release from Streetwalkers---originally as a double LP in 1977---was torpedoed by the emergence of punk, but truth be told, neither Streetwalkers or Family ever hit it big in the USA, and in the updated liner notes to the CD, Charlie Whitney notes that Streetwalkers gritty sound was not really the type of "dinosaur rock" that the more nimble punk shoved aside.
If you like sizzling, live, music, music that seems as though it might levitate the speaker banks on the stage, I would recommend you check out this collection of tunes culled from the various Streetwalkers studio recordings. It's not without a touch of irony that this music finally made it to a digital format, for the roughness of the sound somehow seems to more naturally fit the sprawling format of a double LP than a single CD.
Those who have supported Roger Chapman's place as arguably the best male vocalist in rock will find plenty to bolster their case here. Chappo growls, wails, shouts, implores, and banters as only he can. Twin guitarists Charlie Whitney and Bob Tench rarely dual but instead compliment each other, layering riffs and conjuring solos that support instead of undermine the songs. Whitney often seems content to let Tench have the spotlight, but when you really listen to Whitney's work on slide and double-necked guitar, it's clear that he was one of rock's now forgotten guitar masters, a player who knew what he didn't play was sometimes as important as what he did play. Tench gets to stretch his vocal chords more than on the studio sets, showing that in any other line up (sans Chapman) he might be the lead vocalist. The supporting cast-Mickey Feat on bass, David Dowle on drums, and Brian Johnston on keyboards-are steady if not flashy. The keyboards do contribute to a fuller sound, though not as much energy as the guitars.
There are some great songs here: Crazy Charade, Run for Cover, and Can't Come In are nearly enough to justify this purchase. The band is clearly pumped on Crazy Charade and Run for Cover. Diceman, at nearly 12 minutes, is the longest track in the Streetwalker's catalog, and Whitney and Tench have some electrifying moments here but in spots this one does drag a bit ( I think the epic live version of Burn It Down on "BBC Radio 1 in Concert" is Streetwalkers finest live moment).
This is the first decent sounding live version of Chilli Con Carne that I have heard, and Walking on Waters is good, but I also prefer the live version on Streetwalkers' "BBC Radio 1 in Concert." Toenail Draggin' comes across with more soul than its studio counterpart, and Me An' Me Horse An' Me Rum is perhaps even more fun here. Mama Was Mad will appall feminists from any era (well, so will about half the stuff here). The two Family covers are interesting, and of the two, the reworking of My Friend the Sun is my favorite. Burlesque seems almost perfunctory here, but it's still a great song.
I've listened to a number of live recordings by Family and two by Streetwalkers, and the quality of the sound on these is never quite as good as on other recordings from this era. But if you listen to the music for what it is, an aural snapshot of a very fine band blistering the stage, then you have to wonder why "Frampton Comes Alive" became the greatest selling live album ever while "Streetwalkers Live" languishes in relative obscurity.

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