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Product: Audio CD
Title: American Life [Remixes]
Label: Warner Brothers
Artist: Madonna
Rating: 4/5
Customer rating - 4 out of 5
Great Remixes Of American Life I Highly Recommend It!

First of all, I dont like the first remix thats why I gave it 4 stars. Missy Elliot and her stupid rapping and talking screws it up a lot. Remixes 2-6 are great. Peter Rauofer is great doing remixes. They are great to listen to and dance too. Die Another Day is a total different remix aside from the original DAD remix album. The video was pulled my Madonna because it was anti- American. I know she is against the war in Iraq and she was just trying to show it through the video. She has a right to express herself but the George Bush look a like and her throwing a grenade at him went a little too far. So it was probably a good idea to pull it. I again recommend these remixes I guarentee you wont be dissapointed!!!

Product: Audio CD
Title: Made in England
Label: Island
Artist: Elton John
Rating: 1/5
Customer rating - 1 out of 5

I've been an EJ fan since 1973. I pretty much gave up on him in the 80s - couldn't take the synthesizers drowning out him and his piano. When Made in England came out, I heard the first single "Believe", and said to myself, "Man, Elton is starting to be able to sing well again. But I just can't get into that adult contemporary sound he makes these days." I figured that he had decided that he was just an adult contemporary artist, not a rock and roller anymore. I think in many ways he had. Interviews in the early 90s have him talking about how rock is for young people, etc. Very different from the way he talks today!! Anyway, that attitude kept me from listening to him and I'm sorry now that I missed those years. But now, as I see it, he was beginning to grow out of the idea that all he could do was AC with this album. And I have grown to love it! He regressed a bit on The Big Picture in some ways, but then really committed to stop acting like an old geezer on Songs from the West Coast.
The album starts off with a couple of songs that are really pretty heavy on those AC production values (cheesy strings, overorchestration, etc.) and that can really put you off. Believe is not a bad song in many ways, but it was hard for me to get past the bombastic production of it at first. Then comes Made in England, which I love for the boyishly enthusiastic singing Elton does on it (his most spirited uptempo number since I'm Still Standing!) and the nice autobiographical touches in Bernie's lyrics. But production-wise it sounds a bit like a bad Billy Joel song, a la "We Didn't Start the Fire". Next is House, which has nice, evocative lyrics, and sweet Elton singing, but, again, schmaltzy, sweeping strings, etc.
But the second half of the album is not like that!! It nicely shows is how effortlessly Elton can shift from one style of pop music to another, and make it all sound good.
So here's what you do. You start the album with the song "Belfast". Skip the first four songs, for now. Yes, Belfast starts with strings. But they are not the cheesy strings of the AC sound. Instead they are sophisticated "cinematic" strings. When the string intro finishes, we are met very intimately by just Elton's piano and voice. Belfast has affecting, sophisticated lyrics, and very impressive, honest singing from Elton. I think they should have opened the album with this song, but Elton was banking on a big hit with Believe. Anyway, when he hits the chorus it sends shivers. The production is spare, with the seamless inclusion of native Irish instrumentation.
Then comes Latitude, which includes many nice images in Bernie's lyrics. The singing is honest and clear, the melody lilting and beautiful. The strings are there in the background, but upfront is just nice, simple strumming from Davey. And check out those nifty George Martin-arranged horns and strings in the later parts of the song! Really evocative of the Beatles sound.
Next comes a great unknown contemporary country classic, Please. Listen to this song and see if you can't hear a HUGE hit for one of those pop-country stars like Shania Twain or Clint Black or somebody like that. Even the lyrics have those funny turns of phrase and images that are country traditions. Again, notice how much more spare the production is. Pointing the way towards Songs From The West Coast!
'Man' comes next, a fantastic gospel-y number. Bernie's lyrics about the contradictions in man are intelligent and mature, and Elton's singing is the best on the record. Production starts off simple, percussion, organ and piano, but builds gradually to a triumphant sound like a full gospel choir and orchestra. Dig the cool call and response between Elton and the backup singers in the later choruses. Sweeping organ and strong percussion on the chorus closer "Have a little faith in man" and Davey's guitar work at the end are nice.
The next song, Lies, is about they way people lie to themselves and others. Bernie evokes a number of Tennessee Williams images, which is amusing because his plays are all about people who are living lies, right? Anyway, the close of the chorus
"I could be great like Tennessee Williamsif I could just hear something that sounds like the truth"
is just so funny to me. I think of it as another example of someone lying to himself - whatever his gifts as an artist, nothing is going to make Bernie great like Tennessee Williams and he must know it. What you REALLY have to listen for is Elton's piano solo in the middle. One of the most clever solos he's ever done. Listen to the way it skips lightly around the keyboard, eventually skipping right off the end. It actually SOUNDS like someone who's a liar, who can't be pinned down - it has a real "catch me if you can" sound to it. Cap'n Fantastic indeed!
The closer, Blessed, has a beautiful melody and affecting singing, but it's pretty much back to the AC sound production-wise. *sigh* Still, the singing is sweet!
When I listen to the album that way, and then go back to the beginning of it, Believe sounds different to me. It has less of that AC sound than I thought. Made in England just sounds like the bouncy, fun number it is - I can't hear Billy Joel anymore! House is moving (notice how the "strings" that just sounded schmaltzy before, now actually sound like a children's choir singing "ah, ah") Even "Pain", which seemed just plain silly at first, is bearable.

Product: Audio CD
Title: Too Late The Hero
Label: Repertoire
Artist: John Entwistle
Rating: 4/5
Customer rating - 4 out of 5
80s' Music that doesn't Suck

The 80s gave us more than its share of truely awful music. As this wave of crap started to wash over us, John Entwistle released Too Late the Hero. It is clearly a product of it's time, but unlike the rest of the music of the time, John's music snaps and pops with sharp lyrics and great playing. Joe Walsh handles guitars and shows why he is among the best in the business with tight, business like playing. An enjoyable treat is the bass/guitar duel in Dancin' Master. The title track again shows that John was a few steps ahead of his contemporaries. The song sounds as if Genesis should have recorded it, minus the Genesis suck factor. There's the sadly prophetic Love is a Heart Attack that has rif that Tool would proudly call their own. The album isn't a stand out like Smash Your Head Against a Wall or Whistle Rymes, but a good and throughly enjoyable listen.

Product: Audio CD
Title: William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet: Music From The Motion Picture, Volume 2 (1996 Version)
Label: Capitol
Artist: Various Artists, Craig Armstrong
Rating: 4/5
Customer rating - 4 out of 5
Captures The Feel of The Film

This is an exciting and beautifully composed music CD. Almost every track contains short pieces of dialogue from the movie, which I find to be one of its best features. This is definitely a soundtrack that lives up to the hip and modern attitude of the film it's from. I like this volume even better than the first. #2, #9, #11, and #21 really got my attention.