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Reviews Written by
Joerg Colberg (Northampton, MA USA)

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Sonic Nurse
Sonic Nurse
Price: CDN$ 12.09
37 used & new from CDN$ 1.56

5.0 out of 5 stars Maybe one of their best albums ever, June 9 2004
This review is from: Sonic Nurse (Audio CD)
This might be one of their best albums ever. It's an almost perfect mix of 'Daydream Nation' and 'Murray Street': Take the amazing song writing from 'Daydream Nation' and add the very controlled cool sound of 'Murray Street'. For me, they really can't get any better, and I'm particularly glad that they got back to more focussed song writing after some of their more aimless, almost uninspired stuff (like on "A Thousand Leaves').

Margerine Eclipse
Margerine Eclipse
Offered by Polar Bear Store
Price: CDN$ 14.53
24 used & new from CDN$ 7.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Check it out - Stereolab are back!, Jan. 28 2004
This review is from: Margerine Eclipse (Audio CD)
Over the past five years or so we've seen a string of abysmal albums by a group that had many people's hopes up so high. Sure, it couldn't really get any better than "Emperor Tomato Ketchup" but did it really have to be as bad as "Sound Dust"? It almost seemed as if they were trying so hard to be really hip that they just didn't realize how to make enjoyable music any longer. And so, with the help of some people from the Chicago Tortoise environment, they created utterly boring stuff that you wouldn't even want to listen to in an elevator.
"Margerine Eclipse" sounds like a logical continuation of "Emperor Tomato Ketchup". Instead of the endlessly repetitive and boring doobedoobedoo's, that made later LPs so gruesome, here they're doing what they always did best: Write beautiful songs and play them in a beautiful way. Every song actually goes somewhere. The instrumentation is very nice - clearly, they've evolved. Overall, the whole album sounds very light and relaxed but not forcibly so. It's a bit sad to hear Laetitia doing backup vocals herself - Mary Hansen is sorely missed - but it sounds very nice.
So if you're a fan of "Emperor Tomato Ketchup" and the earlier stuff and if you're hesitant to buy this one after what you've been subjected to over the past five years get this album - you'll like it. And if you're a die-hard fan who likes everything anyway well... you know what to do anyway.

Origins Of The Crash
Origins Of The Crash
by Roger Lowenstein
Edition: Hardcover
39 used & new from CDN$ 2.61

5.0 out of 5 stars The bigger picture of the 1990's technology bubble, Jan. 22 2004
This review is from: Origins Of The Crash (Hardcover)
In retrospect, it is always easy to be right. Of course, now we all know that the Dow Jones is not going to reach 36,000 any time soon and we know that most of those dot.coms were hopeless cases. Back then it was a different story. Back then - that was about a decade ago.
Lots of books have been written about the bubble, many from the "told you so" perspective that not always is too justified (those told-us-sos were amazingly quiet back then - maybe they were also too busy trying to get rich beyond all imagination). Many other books merely describe what happened, often focusing on the dot.coms. Lowenstein's book is a welcome alternative to these two approaches. He traces back some of the seeds of the bubble to the days when stocks were depressed - back in the 1970s and 80s - and when people were wondering how to make them rise. Tying CEO's incomes to stock prices - by giving them generous stock options - seemed like a good idea. Lowenstein shows how this eventually led to the big stock market bubble where stock prices were made to rise at all costs so that CEO's could reap in their fortunes. It's the age old story of greed, hubris and, in the end, disaster and, like in his book about Long Term Capital Management, Lowenstein tells it elegantly.
In retrospect, many of the actors remind us of old acquaintances and many of the stories - which is not to mean all the details - are only too familiar. Enron - the most "popular" disaster. Lowenstein also discusses WorldCom, a bigger disaster in terms of actual numbers. And the list goes on and on and on. Lowenstein shows that the telecoms bubble was actually worse than the bubble. Those internet startups pretty much all disappeared. But the industry is still struggling with the results of the telecoms bubble.
There is one aspect of this whole story that might not make this book too popular. All this would not have happened if there had been more and better oversight at Wall Street. Deregulation is one of the culprits here. For example, tearing down the barrier between commercial and investment banking - set up as a result of the crash in 1929 - directly led to a series of amazing and entirely predictable disasters. Those same actors who now claim they want to sort out the mess back then were treating everybody who was asking for more regulation like an employee of the devil. Deregulation still is very popular and the Free Market is still treated as if it was some benevolent mythical creature, as if there was no greed that can create monsters like Enron and WorldCom. Have we really learned enough from the bubble? Lowenstein does not delve too deeply into these issues. But there are some pretty interesting comments about a certain best friend of Ken Lay, the head of Enron, or about that Senator from Connecticut who now wants to make us believe he was always in favour of stricter controls.
All in all, this is a very good book about how it all started and you can make it the only book to read about the big 1990's crash.

The Middle Mind: Why Americans Don't Think for Themselves
The Middle Mind: Why Americans Don't Think for Themselves
by Curtis White
Edition: Hardcover
33 used & new from CDN$ 0.30

5.0 out of 5 stars Forget Reviews - Read It Yourself, Sept. 6 2003
Those reviews they got up here so far show exactly what Curtis White is criticizing. In that sense they are pretty much useless. Curtis White's position is neither liberal not conservative. Anybody who claims that White is liberal or conservative has simply missed the main point of the book. White is attacking NPR and Dinesh D'Souza, Cultural Studies and Steven Spielberg. The real point of the book is how one can possibly go beyond the stifling lack of imagination - which manifests itself so clearly in those almost petrified structures you run across every day - including the reviews here. If you're willing to throw some of those convictions you got over board and try to see things not from left or right but from somewhere else go and read the book. If you're caught in the liberal-right wing scheme and you prefer to read somebody you can agree with save your money.

2003 Tour De France (4 Mixes)
2003 Tour De France (4 Mixes)
Offered by thebookcommunity_ca
Price: CDN$ 54.79
5 used & new from CDN$ 7.57

2.0 out of 5 stars Nice but not great, July 31 2003
The crucial thing about whether you're going to like the single or not is whether you like Kraftwerk's old stuff or not. By "old stuff" I mean the music pre-1991, that is before they did "The Mix". If you're a fan of the older stuff it's quite likely you won't be too thrilled with this. You'll probably know the original version of "Tour de France" (which hails from 1983) and the new versions are nothing like it. They more or less abandoned a lot of what made people like them so much in the past - those beautiful melodies and the almost robot-like singing. That's too bad. On the other side, this stuff is quite a bit better than a lot of the other stuff you're being subject to these days so that's two stars. If you don't know Kraftwerk's older stuff "Tour de France 2003" sounds almost like your run-of-the-mill electronica. You're getting four versions of the same song which are pretty much all the same - give or take some slight variations. It's better to get the actual album (which also has a few versions of this very same song).

Yanqui U.X.O.
Yanqui U.X.O.
Price: CDN$ 17.84
37 used & new from CDN$ 9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Very amazing, Nov. 22 2002
This review is from: Yanqui U.X.O. (Audio CD)
If you have followed the past releases of GSY!BE you might have some idea of what to expect from this CD. Actually, your idea of what to expect from it is pretty close to what you get. In a sense, this CD is about any other CD they made minus the vocal samples. Which isn't a bad thing because all their previous releases were pretty impressive. I personally don't mind those vocals/vocal samples missing because usually I don't care too much about lyrics. And the fact that the vocals are missing allows you to focus more on the actual music. The music is intense, very intense, as always. It is dense, it is dynamic, it is a typical GSY!BE experience. If you've never listened to this before it might be a bit hard to describe. Imagine a contemporary classical music suite played by a rock band with strings. Well, of course, it is not classical music but there is a lot of variation in terms of the dynamics and there are themes which are being repeated and played with. And you want to listen to this so *really* loud. Nuff said.

Wisdom of the Zen Masters
Wisdom of the Zen Masters
by Tsai Chih Chung
Edition: Paperback
14 used & new from CDN$ 29.93

2.0 out of 5 stars Not sure this one works, May 10 2002
I have several of the boks from this series and I do like most of them - apart from this one. This book contains the more idiosyncratic Zen stories. The main problem is that if you haven't understood those stories before you might not really understand them after having read this book. This is mainly due to the stories' nature and, of course, not due to the way the artist presents them. I did know some but not all of the stories before I read this book. I found that the ones I knew were presented in a nice way but I had doubts the comics made them clear. So if you want to learn more about Zen you might want to get the "Shouts of Nothingness" book from the same series and another book, maybe one by Suzuki. Zen is a hard topic to talk/write about in the first place and putting the hardest bits into a format like this doesn't really seem to work.
PS: If you understand the stories why would you want to read any book about them anyway?

Mystery Science Theater 3000:  Bloodlust [Import]
Mystery Science Theater 3000: Bloodlust [Import]

4.0 out of 5 stars Big fun, May 10 2002
First of all, the short before the main movie is worth the price of this set. An "educational" movie about the summer of two kids from the big city on their uncle's dairy farm - which, ironically enough, these days would be an "organic" farm - is ripped apart in the usual MST fashion.
The main movie, Bloodlust, is one of the more coherent ones. If you've seen Manos you know what I am talking about. There was a script behind the movie and even though the whole idea is somewhat stupid don't expect any inconsistencies whatsoever here. That in itself makes it somewhat harder for the crew to comment and they have to pull the jokes from the movie's ridiculous plot. And they succeed. It's quite funny.

Blood Money
Blood Money
Price: CDN$ 15.00
24 used & new from CDN$ 8.73

5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting and beautiful, May 9 2002
This review is from: Blood Money (Audio CD)
I'm assuming that everybody will be required to say whether she/he prefers this album over "Alice" (released on the very same day) or vice versa. My personal choice is clear: I like this album much better.
Apparently, both albums are collections of songs done for theater performances in Europe quite some time ago. And indeed, both albums sound differ from Waits' last album "Mule Variations". They sound more like the stuff he did in the mid 1980s. If you like albums like "Frank's Wild Years" for instance (one of my all-time favourites) you have to get this one.
Describing what this CD sounds like is pretty hard - as is usually the case for Tom Waits albums. You might get some idea if you imagine they're like those old Brecht/Weill songs from the "Three Penny Opera", sung by somebody whose voice sounds as if it had been subjected to a lot of life (or alcohol for that matter). "Blood Money" has a lot of haunting and beautiful moments. Its lyrics are mainly bleak but hey! Isn't life bleak itself? And even the bleakest moments contain their occasional moment of beauty - like "Lullaby" or the romping "Coney Island Baby". To me, this album is a masterpiece. If you're a Tom Waits fan you'll love it.

Waltz For Koop
Waltz For Koop
Offered by North American Books
Price: CDN$ 14.44
14 used & new from CDN$ 1.78

4.0 out of 5 stars For the relaxed moments of life, Jan. 26 2002
This review is from: Waltz For Koop (Audio CD)
I don't know whether anybody will be able to get anything out of that... description up there with its name-droppings which are, as so very often, pretty irrelevant. This record has nothing to do with Miles Davis. The other names mentioned are somewhat more relevant. If you're into either of those people, Kruder & Dorfmeister, say, then chances are that you will like this album.
Koop basically took *very* lush jazz samples and put dance music on top. They have a few musicians which play bass and bongos plus a set of singers, and the resulting music is a very relaxed downtempo affair. For those moments in life when you just feel like chillin out. The whole album gets a tiny little bit boring at the end but there are a few real gems on it. What's more, those gems are not overextended to last for seven or eight minutes - means they don't get boring as do too many other downtempo songs.

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