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Product: Audio CD
Title: Jump Up!
Label: Universal Int'l
Artist: Elton John
Rating: 4/5
Customer rating - 4 out of 5
A Solid Summery Album

A year after 1981's somewhat tepid response to that year's majestic and stately album "The Fox" (see my review for that album), Elton John broke out of the gate with "Jump Up!". While "The Fox" was subdued and understated, "Jump Up!" came out rocking and fun. Recorded in Montsarrat, it feels like an album that was recorded at leisure while on holiday.
From the thundering opening drums of "Dear John", the album as a whole is upbeat. Only the two American Singles "Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)" and "Blue Eyes" were ballads. "Dear John" rocked harder and louder than anything he'd done since "Rock Of The Westies" (though not quite as hard as 1984's "Li'l Frigerator" from the "Breaking Hearts" album (see my review for that album)).
Like the "21 At 33" album (see my review for that album), the arrangements and production values were crisp and pointed. The piano in "Spiteful Child" has punch to it, the synth-solo in the Summer-y "Princess" (released as a single outside the United States) has a sense of urgency.
But every now and then, John surprises his listeners and records a "period piece". A track that highlights the musical flavourings of the moment without going overboard (NOTE TO JOHN: I'd love to hear an all instrumental album from you someday). Prime examples up to this point were disco (from the "Victim Of Love" album - DEFINETELY see my review of that album) and Philly-Soul from "The Thom Bell Sessions".
With "Jump Up!", the period piece is "I Am Your Robot". With elements of electronica and industrial along the lines of A Flock Of Seagulls' "I Ran", "I Am Your Robot" remains one of my favorite John tracks. Only John can give credibility to lyrics like "I am your robot, I'm programmed to love serial number is 4-4-3-5-7". Great stuff!
Like most of his 80's output, the album closes with a stately more solemn number. In this case, it's "All Quiet On The Western Front" (released as a single outside the United States). With hymn-like vocals front-and-center, the track mirrors the bleakness and despair of war. The arrangement builds throughout, with a church organ brining it to a soaring conclusion. My father (a Korean War veteran) loves this song.
Like the other 1979-1984 import remasterings, the only drawback is the lack of bonus tracks. There were some great b-sides available, such as "Lonely Boy" and "Take Me Down To The Ocean". In fact, "Ocean" is one of his best written and arranged b-sides, right up there with "Love Sick" (available as a bonus track on 1978's "A Single Man").
But with great packaging and liner notes, the remastering only enhances the sound, making this album a welcomed return to the spotlight in the John catalog. Those of you who prefer John's 70's output should take a closer look throughout the 80's. Though more of a "singles artist" during this time, there were some great records!

Product: Audio CD
Title: Tunnel of Love
Label: Sony
Artist: Bruce Springsteen
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
Number One

The difficulty in explaining to people that 'Tunnel Of Love' is your favourite album of all time is that most conjure up images of stadium rocker Bruce - of course this record is the antithesis of Born in the USA - it's also the closest I've found to a perfection in my oversize record collection. Sparsely beautiful melodies, lyrics that really hit home, and his best collection of songs to be found. Particularly lovely are 'Walk Like A Man' and 'One Step Up' both of which feature honest, direct lyrics and hauntingly beautiful arrangements - the kind to make a grown man get choked up over. I bought this album when I was about 16 but didn't really understand it back then, I've grown to understand it as the years have gone by sure enough.

Product: Audio CD
Title: Ricky Martin [1999]
Label: Sony
Artist: Ricky Martin
Rating: 4/5
Customer rating - 4 out of 5

I think ricky martin is hot but the cd wasnt as good as I thought it would be. But there is 3 very pretty slow songs on there. If the whole album was in english I would have given it 5.

Product: Audio CD
Title: Tonight [ECD]
Label: Virgin Records
Artist: David Bowie
Rating: 3/5
Customer rating - 3 out of 5
Not bad at all, as an album on it's own (3.5 stars)

It's interesting to see what rumours can do to an album. It's only a few years since I got in touch with Bowie, and have been a fan ever since, virtually running out the house to buy all the albums in his amazing, colorful and quite often brilliant discography. I heard them all, but in all those years, I kept ignoring 1984's "Tonight" (and I still haven't heard it's 1987 follow-up, "Never Let Me Down"). With only very few positive reviews to back this album up, yet a truckload of negative ones to break it down to pieces, I was expecting awful drivel, an album so incredibly bad you don't know how fast to run to your stereo to turn the damn thing off.
So I got "Tonight" and gave it a spin. The only song I knew was the title-track, and ok, I always hated it. But the rest really isn't bad at all. To be quite frank, there's not one 100% awful track on it, with the exception of the cheap, tacky cover of The Beach Boys "God Only Knows". Bowie knows his way with covers, always picking either obscure songs to give them an improved re-working, or better-known songs and respectfully cover them. In case of this song, it's just a big riddle what Bowie's intention was. It's bad, and it's cheap. And yes, a mistake.
Once we get past "God Only Knows", there's a lot of nice stuff to be found on "Tonight". Opening-track "Loving The Alien" is an atmospheric and dramatic track, that doesn't have anything remotely bad about it. "Don't Look Down" is lite-reggae, which isn't all too exhilerating, but fits well into the context of the album and is enjoyable. But from "Neighbourhood Threat" to the closer "Dancing With The Big Boys", there's no reason why this album shouldn't be a worthy follow-up to "Let's Dance". They're all catchy, decent tracks, which remain enjoyable after tons of listens.
Bowie has a serious catalog of great music AND a reputation of constantly changing his sound, and possibly break some ground too, please. What, do people expect him to keep that reputation up forever? "Tonight" was clearly conceived in a lesser-inspired period in Bowie's career, but to call the album absolutely worthless or even 'unlistenable' goes way too far and absolutely doesn't make any sense. It's really very eighties, even more eighties than "Let's Dance". And that's a sound you have to like. I personally love that sound; as it reminds me of a great time. Maybe it's just personal, but "Tonight" is very far from being a bad Bowie-album.
If you're considering to buy this to complete your Bowie-collection (it's not that good that it should be your introduction to Bowie or something) you really should track down the Rykodisk-edition which offers you three really good bonus-tracks, including "This Is Not America"; hands down one of his most beautiful singles ever.