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Reviews Written by
J Lee Harshbarger (Ypsilanti, MI United States)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest album of all time!, Aug. 5 2003
This review is from: Storm (Audio CD)
I am a major music fan. I have tons of CDs and have heard tons more. So when I say that "Storm" by Vanessa Mae is the greatest album of all time, it's not from a lack of knowledge of what's available in the music world.
I bought this album in 1998 in Taiwan, about a year before it was released in the USA. I listened to it regularly for nearly two years before listenings became infrequent. Most CDs, even ones I really like, become listened to infrequently within a couple months, which shows how spectacular this CD is that it would last so long.
I don't know how to limit my acclaim for this album within the maximum number of words allows. To do so will require leaving out vast amounts of what I have to say about this album. So mostly all I can do is summarize.
This album is powerful emotionally: it has a range of emotions from peaceful to frenetic, from grandiose to dramatic. The sources of music vary, from classical compositions by Bach and Vivaldi to folk music to Donna Summer's "I Feel Love," to songs that are probably original compositions for the album. Though the styles vary considerably, the album does not at all feel disjointed; it is a dynamic, complete, emotional journey.
I have other albums by Vanessa Mae. My first album of hers was "The Violin Player." I really liked the opening Bach track on that, but the rest was more like background music. Her third crossover album, "Subject To Change," is better than "The Violin Player," still rather background but not as much. But this second album, "Storm," is FOREGROUND music all the way! The recording, the playing are all up front! And speaking of the playing, her violin playing on this album is intense! The other two albums seem so dull in comparison. Speaking of comparisons, "Storm" whips Bond's album "Born" too (I haven't heard Bond's new one). That album is lively but lacks creativity or variety. "Storm" is far, far superior to these other albums.
My favorite tracks: "Storm," which is fast, furious, and powerful! -- Vivaldi like it was meant to be!! "Bach Street Prelude" is bouncy and energetic, also the best performance by far I've ever heard of this song. "I Feel Love" has beautiful vocals and killer violin jamming. There are more songs I like too, but space is so limited.
I could go on and on about this album; I've barely scratched the surface. If you like Vanessa Mae, Bond, or other crossover classical, you ABSOLUTELY MUST get this album!!! And even if you're not into crossover classical (my main musical interests are rap, dance, World Beat, and alternative rock), but love a variety of music, you will certainly find this album astounding.
Hunt for this album--it will be well worth the hunt.

Four Wall Blackmail
Four Wall Blackmail
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3.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for wild mood swings, Aug. 2 2003
This review is from: Four Wall Blackmail (Audio CD)
On this alternative rock album (hardcore?), the male vocalist is at one point singing very beautifully, and the next instant he's growling or screaming, then he suddenly goes back to his beautiful singing. Refreshing, unique.

Give Us Barabbas
Give Us Barabbas
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3.0 out of 5 stars Intense, Aug. 2 2003
This review is from: Give Us Barabbas (Audio CD)
Intense heavy guitars, and the vocals are mostly yelled. Not just a single singer like hardcore; the whole bunch of them yell together. At times dark, but at other times almost jubilant sounding, but still yelling. Awesome stuff for when you're in a mood for intense, in-your-face sound.

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3.0 out of 5 stars Energetic crossover classical, Aug. 2 2003
This review is from: Born (Audio CD)
The first time I ever heard this group was in a truck stop restroom in Ohio. I knew immediately that this was one CD that I just had to have. I have become very interested in classical music spruced up by modern beats. I first got into this through the recordings of violinist Vanessa Mae. I used to play a string instrument, but I was a cello player, not a violin player; what makes Bond special to me is that this is a group of four string players, one of whom plays cello! The others play violin and viola.
The album is energetic, taking various classical pieces and putting a mostly driving beat behind them. Nothing close to the masterpiece album "Storm" (by Vanessa Mae), but more exciting than Vanessa Mae's follow-up "Subject To Change."

Space Love And Bullfighting
Space Love And Bullfighting
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, Aug. 2 2003
The easiest way to describe this unique sounding album is to think of all those elements in the title mixed together musically. It's like space lounge music mixed with bullfighting and other Latin music elements.
The lyrics are sometimes entertaining. My favorite is the song about Pluto: "Not quite a planet and not quite steam, Pluto's somewhere inbetween." And the final track, the "Space, Love and Bullfighting Suite," I find to be a work of art.

Global Frequencies: Tokyo
Global Frequencies: Tokyo
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good dance music, Aug. 2 2003
This is a sequenced dance music album, in other words, a non-stop mix that you could just put in your CD player and have a dance party. Like much of modern dance music, it's almost entirely instrumental, and some beats are of styles I hear commonly in dance music but find difficult to dance to, but other songs on this album I really enjoy dancing to.
My favorite by far on this CD is track #2, an instrumental full of thundering electronics. This track represents the power possible in dance music--the heavy, churning bass line, the sustained electronic sound that swoops up gradually, taking you to a higher and higher feeling...even though I'm at home, I can picture all the fabulous club lights around me and the crowds going crazy as I listen to this one.
If the whole album was this good, I'd rate it 5 stars, but the rest, while enjoyable, I didn't find particularly exciting. One dance album that's totally exciting all the way through is Andy Hunter's "Exodus." Now THAT'S an album that pulls me to my feet and keeps me dancing with excitement all the way through.

Take Two
Take Two
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3.0 out of 5 stars Laid back in the desert sun, Aug. 2 2003
This review is from: Take Two (Audio CD)
A low-key, laid back rap album with typically up-front Christian messages in the raps. The dominant musical instrument is acoustic guitar, sometimes done with a reverb to give one type of flavor, other times done in Spanish guitar flavor. The song "San Jose" even has a bossa nova feel to it. Overall, the album's flavor reminds me of Southern California or elsewhere in the Southwest. One song whose message I particularly like, "Mr. Chris T. Ian," is a strong statement against hypocrisy among Christians.

Ryukyu Underground
Ryukyu Underground
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3.0 out of 5 stars Okinawan music goes trance-dance, Aug. 2 2003
This review is from: Ryukyu Underground (Audio CD)
This album creates a unique sound by taking samples of music from the Okinawa area of Japan and mixing them with dance beats...of sorts. It's a style of beat I hear often on cable radio dance stations, but I can't figure out how you dance to it. At any rate, it's cool to hear this mixture of Okinawan island sounds with western beat.

Putumayo Presents: Arabic Groove
Putumayo Presents: Arabic Groove
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4.0 out of 5 stars It really takes you there, Aug. 2 2003
I really like this album. There are songs on here from different countries--Algeria, Morocco, Lebanon, Egypt, and Libya, and they are totally cool songs too. Completely Arabic in sound, with a great dance beat. The album is almost a non-stop dance mix, although at times it just suddenly goes from one song into the next rather than intermixing them.
My favorite song is "Kidda" by Natacha Atlas. After already falling in love with this song, I learned that she was the singer in Transglobal Underground for awhile, during the height of their career (their album "Psychic Karaoke" was on my Favorite CDs of the Year list in 1998). The beat in "Kidda" doesn't sound Western at all yet it is as totally danceable as a strong Western dance beat.
A great collection!

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4.0 out of 5 stars When you need to clear your mind & have a good time, Aug. 2 2003
This review is from: Hindsight (Audio CD)
John Reuben's first album, "Are We There Yet?" was in the top ten on my list of Favorite CDs of 2000. This is John Reuben's second album, which also is on my list of Favorite CDs of 2002, but it didn't make the top ten.
This album is a lot of fun and has some interesting sounds, but the lyrics are fluff. His first album had much more in the way of challenging and interesting lyrics. On the other hand, there is a place for fluff--if you've just gotten finished with final exams and papers in school, or have just finished a heavily stressful, hard week of concentrating at work, you may need something with no lyrical depth; you need to just put on something to shake out all that tension from your brain and have a good time. This album is perfect for such times. Definitely party music.

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