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Product: Audio CD
Title: The Rising
Label: Sony
Artist: Bruce Springsteen
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
Bruce's Defining Moment

The Rising
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
I'm so blown away that I'm gonna throw away all my CD's - this one is the only one I am ever going to need.
Bruce is one of only a few artists who could pull off a collection of songs inspired by 9/11 - and do it without draping himself in an American flag and shouting "We're number one!" (Bono is another who comes to mind- at least he put the American flag inside his jacket.)
What we have here, plain and simple, is a masterpiece. A soulful, soul-filled opus, which may very well be the defining work of Mr. Springsteen's career. On one level, it sounds great. Pop this baby in the car CD player, roll the top down and you're cruisin' - just like a real like rock album is supposed to do.From the opening riffs of "Lonesome Day", to the Li Li Li's of "The Rising", the hip-hop beat of "The Fuse", and the exuberance of "Mary's Place", Bruce and his E-Streeters have re-created the lexicon of American rock music, paying homage to familiar sounds, while keeping it identifiably E Street.
I want to hear Van Morrison sing "My City in Ruins", and Smokey Robinson do "Let's be Friends" - these songs seem to be written for them. On the other hand, "Mary's Place" could have been found from the missing tapes of the "Born to Run" sessions. The gospel revival choir of "My City in Ruins", the Middle Eastern chants of "Worlds Apart", the twangs of "Into the Fire", - all rich chocolate candy for the ears. I wonder how much of the credit for this goes to Brendan O'Brien - a wise choice, Bruce.
And the lyrics, ohhh the lyrics. Bruce has masterfully found the delicate balance between standing face to face with the deep, desperate, ultimate despair that's still hanging in the air, and the hope that things can, and will, get better. "Things are bad," he is saying, "as bad as they have ever been." And he puts it right out there for us...
"Hell's brewin' dark sun's on the rise..."
"Sky falling, streaked with blood,"
"It's raining, but there ain't a cloud in the sky"
"Can't see nothin' in front of me, ... nothing coming up from behind..."
"Can hear the organ, but the congregation's gone"
What Bruce also does here, is get to the poignant specificity of personal poin loss...
"Coffee cups on the counter, jackets on the chairpaper's on the doorstep, but you're not there"
"I heard you calling me,then you disappeared into the dust"
"Without you,I'm workin' with the rain falling down"
Bruce is telling us it's OK to grieve, we have to grieve. He is helping wade through the darkness.
But there is hope. There is light. We will be alright...
"I'm gonna find my waythrough this lonesome day"
"Meet me at Mary's Place,We're gonna have a party"
"Let's take the good times as they goand I'll meet you further on up the road"
You can here him lifting us up on his back.."Come on up for the rising"
"Come on Rise up!Come on RISE UP!"
In classic Bruce lyrical style, recurrent themes appear throughout the songs, a la Nebraska. Seems fascinating to me, though, that the song that sums it most up succinctly, My City in Ruins, is the one was written before the tragic events that inspired the rest of the album. Not sure what that means - atestament to the genius of Bruce?
Hardly - just evidence that the themes that Bruce writes about are universal and iconic: Love, Hate, Despair, Fear, Grief, and Hope. But in the end, with a little Rock and Roll to help along the way, it's gonna be alright.

Product: Audio CD
Title: Return of the Jedi: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Special Edition)
Label: RCA
Artist: John Williams, London Symphony Orchestra
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5

Being a Star Wars fanatic I loved this movie but out of the four out so far I would rank this No, 4. I totally agree with a reviewer about the flaws in this movie. Yes, the Empire was not depicted well in this film despite the fact they were much better equipped and better prepared then the rebels. I can't buy the fact that the stormtroopers on Endor simply gave up; I mean come on; and what about the imperial fleet? Wouldn't they have fought to the finish even if the Death Star was destroyed? Also I agree that at least one good guy had to die. In the expanded universe I keep hoping that they will. How many times can Luke Leia and Han get into trouble and still come out alive? I thinbk that Luke should have died on the Death Star holding his father; it would have been a more realistic ending; Yes I guess that good has to prevail over evil but the lack of sacrifices on the part of the rebels was too hard to swallow. I really didn't mind the Ewoks as much; Lucas's point there was that you can still win no matter if your a pint size runt. "It was for the kids after all." The best part of the film of course is the drama which takes place in the Death Star's throne room between the Emperor, Vader, and Luke. At any rate overall this film was good and its Star Wars! Still, I don't think the bad guys got their fair share in this one.

Product: Audio CD
Title: Stripped
Label: RCA
Artist: Christina Aguilera
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
One of the best albums of the year...seriously

'Dirrty' (and the video) do not represent this album well, or at all. This is a very good, mature album for an older crowd...I don't expect teeny boppers to love it. Christina showcases her voice incredibly good without over doing it. Her songs touch various subjects, and the music is very well composed. Everything's right on point. Some are better than others, but in all seriousness, they all are good songs. Although its hard for some people to believe it, this is an incredibly good album. Christina has tremendously matured and it shows through.
If you're a music lover, give this album a chance, it won't dissapoint you.

Product: Audio CD
Title: Christmastime
Label: Reunion
Artist: Michael W. Smith
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
Really Brings the Joy of Christmas

All the songs are terrific but "Welcome To Our World" really spoke to the heart. It brought Christ's birth alive in such a touching way. It brings tears to my eyes. I listen to the CD over & over & probably will after the holidays. A terrific CD from a fabulous singer & entertainer! Michael, your music is the best.