Valid XHTML 1.0!

Valid CSS!

Product: Audio CD
Title: Jaws [Original Soundtrack]
Label: Decca
Artist: John Williams
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
The Greatest Ever! Period!

John Williams' monumental music for Steven Spielberg's "Jaws" is generally considered to be one of the most influential film scores of all time, and for good reason. It restored the place of the classical film score in modern film making, garnered Williams' first Academy Award for film scoring, and produced perhaps the single most recognizable musical motif in the history of film to identify the the Great White shark. The Anniversary Collector's Edition is long overdue, but quite welcome. It adds twenty minutes of music long missing from the original soundtrack recording, and a 24-bit digital mastering from the original soundtrack tapes is frosting on a wonderful cake. Decca's packaging is also worth mentioning. This is the way soundtrack albums should be presented (the booklet with notes and interviews is first rate). Numerous film score composers have dealt with the theme of man and the sea, but few have really made it work. Bernard Herrmann's "Beneath the Twelve Mile Reef," Williams' "Jaws," and James Horner's recent "The Perfect Storm" are clearly the best. The influence of Herrmann on a young Johnny Williams is well known (listen to Williams use of the harp in "The Shark Approaches" and compare it to the harps utilized by Herrmann in "Beneath the Twelve Mile Reef"), but it is interesting to note some similarities between the latter two scores. Both Williams and Horner include ominous music for the threats that emerge in each story, the shark in "Jaws" and the storm in "The Perfect Storm." But what makes both scores so effective are the various themes that both composers employed to depict man sailing out to sea (an element quite evident in Herrmann's soaring conclusion to "Beneath the Twelve Mile Reef"), Horner's seagoing and fishing theme in "Coming Home From the Sea" and "To the Flemish Cap," and Williams' sailers' themes in "Out to Sea," "Man against Beast" and especially "The Great Shark Chase" where his music simply takes off. In both scores the threatening themes are always just below the surface or just to the horizon, but the motifs that glorify man and the sea are critical to both scores, and to both films. Oddly enough, both films deal with the courage of simple men against the elements and the music created by Williams and Horner capture this feature in fitting fashions. John Williams brought back classical film scoring with "Jaws" setting the stage for later triumphs ("Star Wars" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"). But the Anniversary Edition reminds us just how substantial Williams' music for "Jaws" actually was. Spielberg admitted the near failure of his mechanical shark in the filming and that without Williams' main theme the whole premise would not have worked. But as vital as the shark theme was, and it was of enormous importance, it was part of a larger and very rich musical seascape that is now presented in a very deserving manner.

Product: Audio CD
Title: When It Falls
Label: Elektra
Artist: Zero 7
Rating: 4/5
Customer rating - 4 out of 5
Warm sound

I can't really say I liked Zero 7 when they first hit the downtempo scene. I didn't and still don't like "Destiny" so I didn't bother looking into their first album "Simple Things". Normally I love chill out music but I could not muster up a tolerance for "Destiny" which was overplayed too death on the majority of chill out albums a couple of years ago. I decided to give Zero 7 another chance. I got lucky when I found a promotional copy of the group's new album "When It Falls". Thankfully there wasn't one song on this album that sounded remotely like "Destiny". "When It Falls" is a lush, subdued album filled with intricate melodies and hypnotic vocals. There were moments when I was reminded of Olive, Hooverphonic, and Supreme Beings of Leisure. Although Zero 7 can't really compete with my beloved "Buddha Bar" series in the downtempo department, they definitely put out a really solid album with "When It Falls". I liked how acoustic guitars was incorporated with the music, giving the music a live, organic feel as opposed to a cold, mechanical feel that a lot of chill out albums project through their music.

Product: Audio CD
Title: Aida (2000 Original Broadway Cast)
Label: Disney
Artist: Elton John, Tim Rice
Rating: 1/5
Customer rating - 1 out of 5

This is truly one of the worst musical theatre scores in recent years. Elton John makes ALW sound like Sondheim. This is a dreadful show which has been a long time hit with tourists from Podunk.

Product: Audio CD
Title: Invincible
Label: Sony
Artist: Michael Jackson, Michael Jackson
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
The Wait Is Over!!

Say what you will about Mr. Jackson, he faces his critics down every time! "Invincible" is exactly what I call him. Despite the glut of teen-pop trash, tired R&B rehashes and rock n roll posers clogging up the airwaves these days, Michael has released one of the most groundbreaking, audacious LP's of this year. Forget the headlines, tabloid trash and infighting with his siblings, THE MUSIC is what really matters, and he's delivered big time. From the opening rhythmic stomper "Unbreakable" (try not to nod your head to this one) to the already classic sounding "Butterflies" (his best slow jam since '87's "Liberian Girl") Michael reclaims his throne and shows the rest of the wannabee's how it's DONE. A most welcome comeback. Don't Miss It.