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Product: Audio CD
Title: Halcyon Days
Label: Sony
Artist: Bruce Hornsby
Rating: 3/5
Customer rating - 3 out of 5
Decent, albeit frustrating, album

Halcyon Days will be frustrating to Hornsby's younger demographic due to the artist's partially returning to some of his earlier AOR melodies and arrangements. Two tracks in particular, Gonna Be Some Changes Made and Mirror on the Wall, approach awfulness; Changes Made shamelessly repeats the near-exact piano hook of "The Way It Is," albeit aided by some lame Clapton porn-music noodling, while Mirror on the Wall contains a melody and vocal arrangement fit for mindless dentist office radio. Obviously Hornsby wants another hit or two, but it probably ain't gonna happen: while both of those tracks are designed for radioplay, and surely will get some, they lack any semblance of unique melody and subtlety. Changes Made contains what is surely a Dylan impression in the spoken verses, but it comes out more like Tom Petty, with some really lifeless lyrics ("Can't keep on doing what I've been doing these days") and awkwardly mixed back-up vocals. Both songs sound like Hornsby to order.
On a more positive note, however, the rest of the disc ranges (no pun intended) from good to excellent, and includes some of Hornsby's best ever songs. "Candy Mountain Run" is really awesome, with a infectious groove, excellent piano playing, and a genuine soulfulness, though it runs a bit long. That song should have been the opening track of the album.
Dreamland, which should definately be taken as a single over Mirror and Changes Made, could have been a whole lot more maudlin then it ends up. The melody is a bit syrupy, and Hornsby let Elton John take a verse, usually a major risk, but the knight actually fits quite well in this context. The production on this track is simply wonderful, with immaculate vocal harmonies and a campfire sing-along feeling. Again, another white soul number (Hornsby should just do a full-out soul album).
Circus on the Moon isn't much of a song in that it sounds exactly like all the other mid-tempo Hornsby album tracks, but the second half includes a great jam with some of Hornby's best playing ever recorded.
Halcyon Days is another gorgeous song, one of Hornsby's most beautiful, and the chorus has a bit of a reggae vibe. Also repeats the Americana vibes of Spirit Trail. When Hornsby strips down the arragement and stays tasteful, his ballads sound great. All we get here is piano, organ chords, subtle bass, simple percussion, and Band-inspired guitar. We don't need little voices coming out of every crevice exclaiming, "Gonna Be Some Changes Made."
The next part of the album is definately the most interesting thing to be found. Three tracks in a row, all direct Randy Newman pastiches. What the Hell Happened to Me totally fails lyrically, coming off like a bad Newman imitation (Hornsby is way too forward-"I got a big-ass nose"). It doesn't really matter though. The piano playing and swinging instrumental section are amazing, the horns are great, the track is one of the best Hornsby ever cut.
Hooray for Tom directly lifts the melody from Newman's "The World Isn't Fair," which isn't a bad thing, and the arrangement is so sparse and understated, with Hornsby's piano allowed tons of breathing room, you start to wonder why two songs later we get Mirror on the Wall.
Heir Gordon is a re-write of the Davy Crockett theme song (sort of) and is by far my favorite piano performance on the whole album. Hornsby goes all out with the Newman strut, and the horns compliment the piano playing wonderfully. HE NEEDS TO DO AN ENTIRE ALBUM OF THESE KINDS OF SONGS!!!!!!!!
After Mirror on the Wall, Hornsby throws in another little piano instrumental, Song F, this one significantly less melody-driven than the previous ones on Spirit Trail. It's actually a bit atonal and washes right over me.
The last track, Lost in the Snow, is another generic Hornsby soul number, saved by a nice catchy chorus and interesting piano groove.

Overall, this is a decent effort, but as a big fan of Hornsby's eclectic side (I think Big Swing Face and Spirit Trail are his best albums), I was disappointed in the inconsistancy and dull AOR additions. The middle section (title track through Heir Gordon) is probably the best stretch of any Hornsby album, however, and all fans should find something to love on this.

Product: Audio CD
Title: Bedrock
Label: Ultra Records
Artist: John Digweed
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
nice one John

Diggers comes up trumps with a mix that'll soothe you, groove you and then will blow the roof off your house. Thoroughly recommended.

Product: Audio CD
Title: Now That's What I Call Music! 16
Label: Utv Records
Artist: Various Artists
Rating: 1/5
Customer rating - 1 out of 5
That's What We Call Music?

I'm afraid this album actually does represent the state of what is commercially driven "popular" music in this country these days. It reveals how little meaning is to be found in most of what is released under the auspices of creative effort. It would behoove us to try to remove ourselves from the hype and improve our tastes or the rest of the world will eventually leave us behind in our money-driven mediocrity.

Product: Audio CD
Title: The Hard Way
Label: No Brakes Records
Artist: John Waite
Rating: 2/5
Customer rating - 2 out of 5
Good new songs but....

Look, I love John waite. I see him in concert when ever he is nearby in Jersey. I went to see him at Great Adventure in the pouring rain when there were only FIVE people there, and when he toured with Journey. I love his music.

But this album is a dissapointment. Not the music mind you, the album. The new/cover/remake songs are great,wonderful, can't say enough about them. But what's up with the 5 songs from Figure in a Landscape?!!? I don't get it. There is absolutely no need for these songs here. Those that are going to buy this album, I am sure, already own Landscape.

I would have prefered John stay in the studio, even if it took another year or so, and produce a FULL album of all new songs. Or at the very least, release the new songs on a small album at a lesser price.