Valid XHTML 1.0!

Valid CSS!

Product: Audio CD
Title: Aja
Label: Mobile Fidelity
Artist: Steely Dan
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
Impressive


The absolute pinnacle of recorded music, this is the CD to take along on a trek through the Himalayas, to any deserted island, to your great great grandmothers' birthday, to the toilet, in your car... anywhere. At the end of the Millennium all sorts of lists appeared with best 100 this and best 100 that... Aja got overlooked and for the life of me I don't understand why. Never has so immaculate a set of songs been recorded in such an inimitable way. Top notch playing, singing, song writing, recording, producing, wrapped in a mysterious sleeve. Get this one, or better still... get two.



Product: Audio CD
Title: Encore [Decca]
Label: Decca
Artist:
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
We can't smile without Russell


Could it be magic? Undoubtedly, Russell Watson's collection of the songs will leave you alternately teary-eyed, smiling sadly, and pure joy.
From the romantic "You Are So Beautiful" to the exciting "Che gelida manina", it's no surprise that Watson is fast attracting devotees of music to buy this compilation of his second exciting album. When he sings "Is Nothing Sacred", it's easy to understand his long-lasting appeal.
Simply, when Watson sings he makes the whole world sing. So pick this one up and listen to the soundtrack of your life---from "Volare" to "Ave Maria" to my personal favorite "Somewhere".
No wonder we can't smile without you, Russell!



Product: Audio CD
Title: American Life
Label: Warner Brothers
Artist: Madonna
Rating: 2/5
Customer rating - 2 out of 5
"Life" less


News flash: Madonna's past life was weird and empty, but now everything is straightened out and life is good. Or so is the message of "American Life," Madonna's first bona fide flop. Don't expect to be shocked -- it's mere a slapdash collection of lackluster pop songs.
The opening title track is an aimless spattering of electronica, laced with Madonna informing us that she lives the American dream (in England, no less). Then it's the forgettable electronica ode to "Hollywood," a sneer at the world and herself in "I'm So Stupid," the embarrassing "Love Profusion," and the pretty but horribly self-indulgent "Easy Ride." The sole saving grace is "Die Another Day," a catchy dance-pop tune.
Don't be fooled by her faux-Che Guevera cover, the posing with a machine gun, the controversial music video, or a handful of throwaway four-letter words. Despite claiming to have an "extreme point of view," Madonna is resolutely tame in this outing. And tame doesn't suit her -- when she raps "I drive my Mini Cooper/And I'm feeling super-duper!" it's hard not to wince.
Madonna's voice has never been that good, and she can't cover up the lyrical shortcomings of "American Life." Her songs are trite at best, preaching against materialism and containing lyrics like "They couldn't take my loneliness/I couldn't take their phoniness." Perhaps worst of all is Madonna's juvenile rap, boasting about her three nannies, yoga, kabbalah, butler, jet, and ogling the "hotties" at her workouts. "I'm drinking a soy latte/I get a double shot-tay/it goes through my body/And you know I'm satisfied!" she raps happily. Really? After hearing that, I'm not.
And the musicianship of this album is, in a word, sloppy. The electronica is hasty-sounding, often random beeps and blips pasted together over the acoustic music. The guitar riffs aren't bad, but they definitely aren't good. In songs like "X-Static Process," it's hard to even pay attention to the generic, meandering melody.
Despite her abandoned "American Life" music video (would they have included the soy lattes?), Madonna's latest is a tame, hasty collection of half-baked, forgettable pop songs. Only the mismatched Bond theme is worth your time.



Product: Audio CD
Title: Ray of Light
Label: Warner Brothers
Artist: Madonna
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
Ray Of Light-Madonna


There really is something about Madonna. Shes still here after all these years, and while her music hasnt always hit high notes, her magnetic personality remains as powerful, overwhelming, and irresistable. Ray Of Light, her best since Like A Prayer, casts a shadow over Madonna, the exhibitionist, the diva, and most importantly, the material girl. If theres any label Madonna hates its that one. On Ray Of light, Madonna spins yarns of celebrity turmoil, motherhood, emotionally frozen men, and death. Doesnt sound like previous Madonna albums. Her last full studio album Bedtime Stories was a strong statement of redemption for 1992's sex- soaked Erotica, but both albums fell short of Like Prayer's revolution; despite a handful of memorable songs like "Rain" and "Secret". Ray Of Light's main focus is newfound spirituality; and whether it be a genuine message or the latest trend (Creed, Alanis Morrisette),the words and their accompanying production shine bright. opening with "Drowned World (substitute for love)", Ray's take on Madonna being in the spotlight is long overdue. We believe she does have issues with it. "Drowned"'s mix of Everything But The Girl-ish ambience and guitar make for one hell of a Madonna ballad. "Frozen" is utterly beautiful in its quiet digital love. This is Madonna, so theres plenty to dance to. The title track is good, but hardcore ravers may still snub their noses. Madonna knows a thing or too about dance culture, probably more than producer William Orbit, but shes no club kid with a pacifer in mouth and water bottle in hand. Ray's music holds special effects and houses borderline techno, but this is just a pop record. Period. "Nothing Really Matters" grabs for every dance formula there is, and while its no "Into The Groove", its quite accessible and catchy. This is Madonna at her best, spilling her guts on the ode to Lourdes song "Little Star" (baby's first electro-lullaby) the poetic Bjork-ish "Mer Girl" where she confronts her dead mother. Really the only other personal Madonna record, this is a must have for any fan who walked away from Erotica and Bedtime Stories saying "Is This It?"Ray Of Light sheds a new light on the human rollercoaster that is Madonna. Thanks for the ride.