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141. Action Packed: Best of the Capitol
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142. Past, Present And Future
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143. Central Reservation
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144. This Way
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145. Jerusalem
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146. Mona Bone Jakon
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147. Song for Juli
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148. Under Cold Blue Stars
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149. Become You
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150. Up All Night
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151. Made to Love Magic
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152. Desireless
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153. Matters of the Heart
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154. Unplugged
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155. Branch to Branch
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156. Greatest Hits
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157. "Love and Theft"
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158. The Mountain
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159. Various Positions
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160. Below the Salt

141. Action Packed: Best of the Capitol Years
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Asin: B00005A9KU
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 7347
Average Customer Review: 4.48 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan essential recording

EricClapton had better marketing. That's the only way to explain whyRichard Thompson isn't as famous as that other British guitar god. Abrilliant, albeit subtle, guitar genius, Thompson writes wonderfulsongs that are sometimes rockin', sometimes haunting, and sometimes alittle bit of both. And he presents them all in a voice that can onlybe called unique. Unlike most guitar heroes, Thompson is less based inthe blues than he is in folk--dating back to his early years with theseminal FairportConvention--but his has always been a folk music with bite andsoul, adding things to the folk lexicon like rockabilly and zydeco."Cooksferry Queen"--one of the 19 tracks on this compilation culledfrom the six albums Thompson released on Capitol between 1988 and1999--features a guitar solo that's downright punk. Tracks like the semihit"I Feel So Good," "Razor Dance," and "Bathsheba Smiles" remain asexhilarating as anything you're apt to hear. Longtime fans will need tohear the three tracks previously unreleased on CD, including a new duetwith son Teddy Thompson on"Persuasion" (co-written with Tim Finn) that is absolutely gorgeous.Ultimately, one longs for a box set that encompasses all eras (andlabels) of this master's career, but Action Packed proves thatthe recent last third of it has been topnotch. --Bill Holdship ... Read more

Reviews (21)

3-0 out of 5 stars Seems random...
I'm a huge Richard Thompson fan, I own all the albums and also the far better (out of print) collection, "Watching the Dark". I bought this to get the three "new" tracks, whick range from good to great, so I guess I got my money's worth.

I really must take issue with the track selection, though. For instance, it includes only 2 tracks from "Amnesia"... sure, "turning of the tide" and "waltzing's for dreamers" are great, but almost any other song on the original album is better (that's how good it is). I certainly would have liked more tracks from "You? Me? Us?", and less tracks from "Mock Tudor". It's not that I don't like "Mock Tudor", but (a) It's very recent and maybe doesn't need such heavy representation in a retrospective yet, and (b) is a semi-"concept" album that works much better as a whole.

The sound is audibly and obviously improved on tracks from "Amnesia" through "Mirror Blue" which is remarkable proof how much more engineers have been able to eek out of the old' 16-bit redbook CD format in recent years. On later tracks, the difference is either subtle or non-existent.

Maybe it seems that I'm being a bit hard on this CD, but, as the man said, you have to be cruel to be kind. I think RT is one of the great musical talents of the past 50 years, and he deserves better. Much better. Also, remember, Capitol dropped him from the label after "Mock Tudor", so "Action Packed" is a last-ditch, crass cash-in on the part of his old label. Of course, Capitol has let most of these albums go out of print, so newcomers may have no other recourse but to buy this set.

Another suggestion? RT sells wonderful "live" discs on his own label. Find these and buy them. "2 letter words", "Live at Crawley" and "Celtshmerz" will all give you a more complete picture of this brilliant guitarist.

5-0 out of 5 stars superb introduction to a genius
Despite the fact that I own almost all of Richard Thompson's solo material (much of which is sadly out of print), I am always happy to see a well made best of lp- and this lp qualifies.

For those not familiar with him, Richard Thompson is simply one of the most respected, gifted, and talented singer/songwriter/guitarists that you probably have little or no knowledge of. Lack of promotion could well by why Richard isn't a household name outside of guitarists and fans of folk music. this is a crime, for Thompson is among the top 2 greatest guitarists that Britain ever produced (with Peter Green, in my view..Clapton will be argued by others, but Clapton can't write a tune like Green or Thompson), and a intricate songwriter, as well. His unique voice leaves those who hear him spellbound. The songs tug at any number of emotions- fear, depression, anxiety, melancholy..occasionally joy and happiness.. Thompson can do it all, and do it better than most.

This collection takes on the last 10+ years of Richard's career, starting with his wonderful "Amnesia" lp (which spawned the wonderful "Turning of the Tide" and "Waltzing's for Dreamers" on this collection..sadly, the non-inclusion of "Pharoah" for me is a grave oversight), going through his latest offering, "Mock Tudor" (tracks 13-17 on this disc). The lps, including the amazing "You? Me? Us?," "Mirror Blue," "Rumor & Sigh," and "Invisible Means" (of which nothing is included, sadly), are all wonderful efforts and should be sought out to fully appreciate all of Richard's many talents, but this best of lp is a great primer to the world of Richard Thompson in the 1990's. Excellent stuff.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fine as a bee's wing
Some reviewers may niggle over the selection, but this is a solid collection for anybody who wants an economical survey of this phenomenal musician. I'd personally like to have "You Dream Too Much" on here too, but that doesnt make this collection any worse. The selections from You? Me? Us? are just right. Theres nothing wrong with the 3 new tracks either.

If you need some RT in your collection, this is an excellent way to start. Watching the Dark is also highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars PURE GENIUS
My taste usually runs more towards the virutoso guitar slinger. While RICHARD THOMPSON isn't in that vain, he is a most inventive guitarist who creates beautifull melodies and some of the best lyrics written in modern musik. Only UK SQUEEZE at their best could tell a story so well with so few words. This CD is always entertaining and despite the width of material, there are no fillers. From the folk flavoured tracks to out and out rockers, THOMPSON delivers in any style he chooses. If you don't have RICHARD THOMPSON in your collection, you are missing one of the best song writers of this century.

4-0 out of 5 stars A great recent "Thompson" collection.
I often wonder how this guy isn't twice as popular, then I decide I like being part of the secret. Thompson sets many a mood on here with his quick fingers. He can whip out the pop-rockers like "Turning of the Tide", "Feel So Good", and "Razor Dance", or he can slow the pace with songs like "Waltzing's for Dreamers", "Keep Your Distance", or the excellent "Beeswing". This also includes my favorite "Bathsheba Smiles", which is a great upbeat number, and the big fan favorite "1952 Vincent Black Lightning", probably one of the best "story" songs ever. I've seen him a few times, and he always seems to play that one. The only things I miss on here are "Read About Love" and "Crawl Back Under My Stone", otherwise this is the best place to start if your looking for your first, or only "Richard Thompson" cd. ... Read more

142. Past, Present And Future
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Asin: B0000032V0
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 5216
Average Customer Review: 4.74 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (27)

3-0 out of 5 stars 1/2 of a GREAT album....
FIVE STARS 4 the 2nd side -- "Roads to Moscow," "Terminal Eyes" & "Nostradamus" -- but the 1st side is a TOTAL BORE!
The 2nd side is Al at his absolute BEST -- words can't Xpress the feeling of loss & loneliness at the Nd of "Roads to Moscow." "Terminal Eyes" is a lot of fun -- like hearing "I Am the Walrus" in some alternate universe. & "Nostradamus" is simply brilliant -- cosmic, great lyrics, gorgeous fiery instrumentation .. but the opera singer who comes in at the very Nd may grate on yr nerves....
But I can't get thru the 1st side without falling asleep -- there's just nothing memorable there, & I own most of Al's albums. Buy this 4 the 2nd side....

5-0 out of 5 stars A True Songwriter
Possibly the best collection of lyrics on one cd. Old Admirals, Roads to Moscow, and Nostradamus. are masterpieces...The next best is on ,Famous Last Words in the song, Trains...Buy these cds put on some headphones turn out the lights and you'll be transported to many times and places. When a songwriter can do this he is truly special. Until I first heard Al Stewart I thought Bob Dylan was some writer, now I think Al tells a much better story and is more co-hesive.. Good brain food Dave

5-0 out of 5 stars "Riding the Wind Like a Bell" - 30 Years later! PP &F
I first heard this album on the Janus Label back in 1974. This was a time when it was considered "progressive rock" and was music for "people in the know". His music could not be played on traditional stations due to their length and frankly, the rest of the world had just not matured enough to hear it. It is one of the greatest albums ever recorded. Artisticly pure right down to the cover. Whether Janus, Arista, Rhino or an old Eight Track it is still artistically viable. Now, thirty years later it is still going strong and validates everything anyone has ever said about it. "Roads to Moscow" is legend. The other works are interesting and memorable. I strongly recommend this album for anyone uninitiated to any of Al Stewart's work. Most will respond "Year of the Cat" but this and "Modern Times" best implies the genius of the artist.

5-0 out of 5 stars An All-Time Favorite
I just got online and I'm stunned at how many people love this album. I thought I was the only one who even knew of it. I found it in an old box of tapes of my brother's, and I was just taken away by it. Since then, through twenty years, it's been my own private masterpiece, which I've foisted on writers, history enthusiasts, and guitarists alike.

So thanks to everyone for chiming in behind this album. I never get tired of it, and I rank Al Stewart among my other favorite songwriters: Dylan, Springsteen, Tom Waits, Joni Mitchell, and Leonard Cohen.

Those who wish to check out the history behind these and others of his songs can find great information at - just click on "History."

5-0 out of 5 stars History set to music.
To be honest, I don't know what exactly led to my buying this CD. I do know that I'd read a lot about Al and his music online, and that probably intrigued me enough to buy the CD. I was very certain that I'd like it but that turned out to be the understatement of the century. What a beautifully crafted work of music! The music is put together with all the nuances and attention to minute details normally found only in progressive rock (Yes, Kansas, Rush, etc) or classical, the lyrics are very evocative, and of course there's Al's unique voice. Make some quiet time for yourself, put the disc in and slip some headphones on, close your eyes and let yourself be immersed in the tapestries - you'll find yourself living the life of Admiral Sir John Fisher, or that of a carefree unnamed Frenchman or Briton in the early 1930s, or perhaps feel the despair (and determination) of a Russian private soldier falling back towards Moscow before the advance of the seemingly unstoppable Wehrmacht in the summer of 1941. ... Read more

143. Central Reservation
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Asin: B00000I73X
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 13194
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan's Best of 1999

There's no way to offer a shortcut description of what Beth Orton sounds like. There are so many musical styles pulsing through Central Reservation--jazz, folk, pop, rock, and dance--that the album could easily have ended up an empty exercise in genre-hopping.Instead, it's a bracing example of mongrel music at its best as Orton carves out a new musical vocabulary with deep roots in familiar sounds. --Keith Moerer ... Read more

Reviews (150)

4-0 out of 5 stars Haunting, revealing, compelling
I bought this CD having heard "Stars All Seem To Weep" on the "Back to Mine" release from Everything But The Girl. Ben Watt, an accomplished jazz guitarist, arranged and produced that track for Beth, hence its inclusion on the "Back to Mine" compilation.

I was entranced, to say the least. And knew I had to have "Central Reservation".

There's something about Orton's writing that is very compelling: visual, honest, visceral. The oft-quoted lyric from the title track "And I can still smell you on my fingers/and taste you on my breath" is gripping, graphic. But the soft understatement of "Sweetest Decline" ("She weaves secrets in her hair/her wispers are not hers to share/she's deep as a well") left me reeling. The swell of orchestration is an unexpected - and perfect - counterpoint to the bare bones structure of the tune. It's no exaggeration to say I was left with my head spinning.

There is much about the album that renders it a very personal experience for the listener, as much as it is obviously personal for Orton. No manufactured "Bye Bye Bye" schmaltz here. One gets a true sense of the songwriter here, which is very rare with today's typical overproduction.

This is one of those albums I keep for myself, for late nights, long drives, headphones. You may very well feel the same after connecting with "Central Reservation".

5-0 out of 5 stars Haunting, beautiful, mesmerizing
I was coming back from England and this CD was being previewed on the plane. Not wanting to leave England and come back to real life, her songs were a perfect accompaniment to my sorrow, especially "Central Reservation." I got back and I looked everywhere. All the on-line services took too long to wait for this melodic genius. Now that I have the whole CD.... WOW!!!!! This album is a great mix of vocals and lyrics. Her "Sweetest Decline" and "Stars All Seem to Weep" are exceptional. She is poetry, her music a versatile mix of blues, pop, folk. Her voice ranges from sultress to forlorn and love lost. Her voice is rich and deep-- a definite change from the high whine becoming popular among female musicians today. Not a diva-- something extraordinarily more beautiful. Her lyrics ask you to think as you follow their poetic journey. It is a pensive journey, but I find that I can fall asleep to the CD as well. I look forward to listening to Trailer Park. Beth Orton provides us with a beautiful musical opportunity. Since I just checked out the guidelines... I would say that the closest artist I can think of would be Tracy Chapman as far as artist voice quality.

5-0 out of 5 stars Stunning followup; worthy of full price purchase
Amazing. The first time I heard this album, it was like a cliche you might see in a movie. An incredibly long, lonely drive down a deserted two lane highway from Albuquerque, NM to Durango, CO. Moonless night, clear sky, hundreds of miles from any major light source, I was listening to this album, looking at the night sky. This album sunk its teeth in, a haunting, bittersweet group of songs perfect for reflection, comptemplation. This album succeedes on so many different levels to become, in this humble reviewer's opinion, an instant, timeless classic.
Listen to the emotional/thematic changes between 'Stolen Car' and 'Sweetest Decline'. The stunning, shimmering, phenomenal 'Pass in Time'. The duo between her and Terry Callier has made it into the ist of my favorite songs - people hear this one and ask me 'Who IS this? WHAT album is this?' Any album that elicits such an emotional, immediate response from so many different people MUST be doing something right.
Buy this album, you will NOT be disappointed.

5-0 out of 5 stars great CD
Wonder why more people don't know about her.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant relaxing music
I love this CD. My musical taste ranges from classical through the keyboards of Jean-Michel Jarre to the techno of The Chemical Brothers. When I put this album on, I relax.

It has shades of other works, for example "Pass in Time" reminds me of Carole King's "Tapestry" album when she duets with James Taylor.

Beth's voice has a vulnerable edge to it. She sounds as if she is singing from the heart and she is hurting from something. It adds an edge that makes me pay attention. ... Read more

144. This Way
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Asin: B00005QDVS
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 4178
Average Customer Review: 4.24 out of 5 stars
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It's easy to see that Jewel wants to lighten up. With two previous multimillion-selling albums (and a couple of much-scorned but popular books) filled with earnest, clueless revelations behind her, the singer-songwriter comes a little closer to ground with This Way. "Give it hell 'til the end," a former compatriot urges her on "Till We Run Out of Road," her version of Jackson Browne's "The Load Out." Could that be a hard-bitten road warrior deep inside the woman who makes a point of pronouncing the O's in the opening line ("Mirror, mirror") of this CD's "Serve the Ego"? Maybe. But despite her icky streak's spread to cutesy jokes ("Jesus Loves You"), Jewel hasn't quite abandoned her old judgmental ways (in "I Won't Walk Away," she spies a couple "resisting being one") and ambitions to, you know, really say something, as in the "Desolation Row"-lite "The New Wild West." Still, with some nice, if bland, arrangements set around her, This Way is the Jewel album most likely to appeal to Jewel non-fans. --Rickey Wright ... Read more

Reviews (301)

5-0 out of 5 stars a perfect Jewel
I've been a huge Jewel fan since her first single years ago, so it's no surprise I couldn't wait for the lastest release, This Way. I was concerned when so many people said she had changed and was country or abandoning her artistic ideals, but the CD proved all of this to be false. Jewel is talented and shows all of those talents on this 3rd album. I'm not caught up in labels and don't think she is either. Her music is growing and changing like all good art does. I love the wide range of the emotions and beats and words on this album, it takes you to all levels and never dissappoints. But I felt the same way about her other albums, Jewel's never been someone who fit easily into any catergory, perhaps that's why I like her so much.
Highlights from this 3rd album are everywhere, but to name a few of my favorites:
"Standing Still"- the first single is so amazing and I can easily relate to the emotions expressed
"Jesus Loves You"- provides what I think Jewel does best, express her political and social views through her music
"Serve the Ego"- this such an awesome song, very different and it has a cool international feel
"Love Me, Just Leave Me Alone"- this is my favorite song on the album it's got everything, awesome words and great music, it proves Jewel could be a hardcore rocker if she wanted
I highly recommend this album for all Jewel fans, you won't regret it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Finally, a solid release from Jewel!
Okay, I'll be honest. I am a Jewel fan, and would probably listen to her reading the Oxford dictionary. That said, her first two albums, Pieces of You and Spirit, were far from perfect. Pieces of You was understandly amateurish and rough-edged, while Spirit was too mellow and overproduced. Neither even compare with her excellent live repertoire, and they sadly gather dust in my CD collection.

...Which brings us to This Way. This album knocks my socks off! It's rougher-edged and more natural than Spirit; you can tell that Jewel is for the first time truly comfortable in the studio. Her vocal prowess is evident in many songs, especially "Love Me Just Leave Me Alone," in which she lets out a Janis Joplin-esque scream. No more restrained, play-it-safe stylings for our favorite folk singer.

If there's one thing Jewel consistently nails, it is the art of the love song. In "I Won't Walk Away," Jewel sings "Wrong or right / Be mine tonight / Harsh world be damned / We'll make a stand / Love can bind / But mine is blind / Others stray / But I won't walk away." Just hearing her beautiful lyrics combined with the rich tonal quality of her voice and the romance-tinged music is enough to set you into a dazed stupor.

Jewel also hasn't lost her sense of reality, leaving in a slight guitar screw-up at the beginning of live bonus track "Sometimes It Be That Way," which is evident throughout the whole album. Almost every track was recorded live with a band in the studio, unlike the numerous vocal layerings and smooth-over approaches of most recording artists. This gives an almost live atmosphere to the album.

Overall, This Way is an amazing album and is destined to be looked back as one of the highlights of Jewel's career.

4-0 out of 5 stars Boxful of Jewel
The multi-talented Jewel delivers on her third studio album Standing Still. The title track is one of the best from the CD. Her clear-as-an-Alaskan-stream vocals, though not absolutely extraordinary, sound better than ever, and her writing talents have improved a lot as well. Jewel is an artist to watch.

4-0 out of 5 stars THIS WAY, THE RIGHT WAY
This Way one of Jewels albums is a must-have. You would rarely find such alent now with all those big budget CDs with op sounds that all sound the same. Jewel's THIS WAY is great and is like a rock album mixed with rock. Excellent songs are THIS WAY, STANDING STILL(BEST ON THE ALBUM) and SERVE THE EGO which has many sounds those of country, percussion and rock. The lyrics in THIS WAY (mostly in SERVE THE EGO) actually make a statment and although some songs are about love she puts them in a way that you wont know what hit you. Must have for Jewel, country, folk or rock fans.

5-0 out of 5 stars Really good album
This is my favorite Jewel album. The lyrics aren't too meandering (or at all) and the music is just nice and reflective. The ballads are what work best here. The title track is one of my favorites, even though in the liner notes she said she hated singing it. "I Wont Walk Away" is a nice jazzy kind of ballad. A lot of people don't like "Cleveland" because it's "too country", but I love it. I'd actually like to see her do a true country album. "Till We Run Out Of Road" and "Do You Want To Play" are other great ballads. A lot of people love "Serve The Ego", but I could take it or leave it. "Love Me, Just Leave Me Alone" is EXCELLENT. "Break Me" and "Standing Still" were great singles too. Overall a solid collection of music. ... Read more

145. Jerusalem
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Asin: B00006GEX6
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 3859
Average Customer Review: 3.87 out of 5 stars
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On 1997's El Corazón, Steve Earle wished for the return of Woody Guthrie to a world sorely lacking voices of righteous dissent. Here, Earle stops pining for ghosts and gruffly makes his own claim to the agit-folk crown. The controversial "John Walker's Blues" drew attention to the album and the ire of many who misunderstood it, but it's only one of many topical tunes on a disc that issues a kind of call to arms: over the distorted guitars and garbage-pail drums of "Amerika v. 6.0" and in the spare and creepy satire "Conspiracy Theory," Earle rallies listeners to resist such corrosive cultural forces as consumerism, xenophobia, and apathy. And as Earle's songs often do, several cuts offer sympathetic portrayals of folks on the margins: a busted Mexican migrant writes a letter home as organ chirps and guitars blaze through "What's a Simple Man to Do?" and in "The Truth," Earle's fuzzed-out drawl depicts life behind bars. Though nearly every moment of this ambitious album is laden with meaning, there's room enough for simple beauty--like the velvet voice of Emmylou Harris on "I Remember You"--and, more importantly, hope. "I believe there'll come a day," Earle affirms in the closing track, "when the lion and the lamb will lie down in peace together in Jerusalem." --Anders Smith Lindall ... Read more

Reviews (97)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Great CD
Since 1995 when Steve Earle recorded Train-a Coming he has been the most prolific and talented songwriter in this seven year span.This album adds to his lustre.The range on this album is remarkable.Ashes to Ashes could(and should)be played on alt.rock stations and fit in perfectly.The cynicism on Amerika vs. 6.0 is scathing.Just love the chorus on Conspiracy Theory and the rest of the song is great as well.Anyone who listens to John Walker's Blues with an open mind will realize that this is not a glorification of this young man but rather a comment on the shallowness of American popular culture and one kid's search for a more meaningful existence who came to a bad end.

In 1986 Earle hit the country scene as a great new talent who almost wasted his career due to his excesses.His music now defies categorization.He plays anything from bluegrass to hard rock and and does them all superbly.He's the best songwriter working today.

5-0 out of 5 stars Other voices
I am not a Steve Earle fan and I know very little about his previous work. I have "The Essential Steve Earle" and don't care for it, but I am impressed by this CD. The lyrics are thought provoking, the Dylanesque songs are catchy, and the edgy production gives the album just the right sound.

I caught Steve on Conan O'Brien singing "Jerusalem", what a fantastic song. It is definitely the highlight of the CD, but, save for one song, the rest of the CD is very listenable. It's one of those CD's you can put in and listen all the way through without fast forwarding by a stinker.

John Walker's Blues is an intriguing song. I heard the talking heads bashing it on the morning talk shows, taking the lyrics out of context. The whole scene reminded me of the press' crucifixion of John Lennon after his infamous Jesus remark.

September 11th was a tragedy, but we don't all goose step to the drum beat of war. Eventually, other voices, those of peace and reason, will prevail. I pray that I am here "when the lion and the lamb will lie down in peace together in Jerusalem."

4-0 out of 5 stars Jerusalem is one amazing song!
I like everything Steve Earle does. So it comes as no surprise that I like this album too. But the one song that stands out above all others for me is "Jerusalem." If you have any interest whatsoever in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict this song plumbs it to the depths. Almost no singer-songwriters (except Israelis) have attempted to write about the conflict & I feel enormous gratitude to Earle for taking the subject on and doing it such justice.

5-0 out of 5 stars I love Steve Earl...
Words can not describe the greatness of this album. Wow! Simply breathtaking.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good album- what can you expect, its Steve Earle
It took a couple listenings to warm up to this one. The first 4 tracks are very 'heavy', probably why I was a little apprehensive about the cd's demeanor. "Ashes to Ashes" has some great harmonica accents, and the first 3 tracks lead into a very haunting 4'th track, "John Walker's Blues". Then when you are getting pretty seduced by the heavy songs, in comes track 5, "The Kind". I think this is a beautiful song. The lyrics and music is simple and pretty. The song underscores my feeling that Steve is a great poet. I love this song. After this the cd has some good cuts and some not so good, "Go Amanda" tends to be boring, "Shadowland" must be some song from his early days, and pretty boring. "Jerusalem" seems to use the music from "When I Fall" (a great tune). If you are a fan of Steve's, this is one you should add to your collection. ... Read more

146. Mona Bone Jakon
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Asin: B00004T9VT
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 6900
Average Customer Review: 4.68 out of 5 stars
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Mona Bone Jakon marked the beginning of the Cat Stevens we know and love, forming alongside Teaser & the Firecat and Tea for the Tillerman the creative heart of Stevens's oeuvre. Though previous releases showcased his sticky burr of a voice and flashes of his songwriting brilliance, it was on Mona Bone that Stevens became disillusioned enough with the music industry to write more deeply introspective and personal songs. It's interesting to note that his disavowal of the biz (wryly commented upon in the song "Pop Star") coincides with his increasing popularity. You can hear Stevens finding his distinctive voice and sound on the first few bars of "Lady D'Arbanville" in all its baroque, emotive glory. "I Think I See the Light" marks the beginning of Stevens's lyrical spiritual pursuits, and "Trouble" stands among the best tracks in his career. All in all, Mona Bone Jakon is a delight, and because it never achieved the Top 40 radio ubiquity of later albums, it sounds fresh and distinct. --Tod Nelson ... Read more

Reviews (25)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Terrific Early Album By A Pop Music Genius!
Whoops! Yeah, I know. How can anyone still favor the music from someone whose own recent public pronouncements belie the dreamy humanism and tolerance of the lyrics in these songs? Still, after thirty years of listening to this particular album as well as the other classic efforts by this timeless artist, it still puzzles me that anyone capable of creating such beautiful lyrics, enchanting melodies, and memorable arrangements could now be so rigid and intolerant of others. Go figure. Yet, I have to admit that the music remains, folks, a monument to late sixties-early seventies consciousness, a pillar to the edifice of the whole notion that we could change the world and make it a better, more tolerant, and more humane place to live in. All the music here is wonderful, and I can listen to the album without missing a lovely beat, from "Lady D'arbanville" to the magical "Maybe You're Right".

What's more, even the cover art by Cat himself is an enchanting reminder of the kind of soft pop sentimentalism that one expects from a gentle soul such as is portrayed here. My own personal favorites are "Pop Star" with its early indication all was not well in the world of super stardom that Cat suddenly found himself in (Stevens is an English-born son of Greek ethnic parents), the soft yet soaring "Trouble", a song I have never heard a harsh word against, and of course, "Mona Bone Jakon", another in a series of similar unforgettable Cat Steven's catchy musical confections. There is simply no getting around how uniquely talented he was. Like "Tea For The Tillerman" after it, this terrific album is a reminder that sometimes art rises above the level of its all too human creator. Enjoy!

5-0 out of 5 stars Great all the way through
My favorite Cat Stevens album, with songs you never hear on the radio, but many of which are his best. Some songs in movie Harold and Maude. Worth buying definitely.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of my Favorites
This is one my favorite Cat albums, probably because it was one of the first I ever listened to and because it contains the song Katmandu. I remember being around 6 or 7 and sneaking my sister LP and putting it on my turntable. Katmandu is probably my all time favorite song, it that it just takes me away. No matter where I am or what I'm doing, I hear the first notes of that song and I imagine myself overlooking the Himalayas from a snowy Tibetan monastery. It's freaky, I feel as though I'm literally transported there. It's a very powerful feeling coming from a hauntingly beautiful song, and it's been that way for 30 years.

There are the other standouts - Trouble, I Think I See The Light, and Lady d'Arbanville are my overall standouts (Funny thing about that last one - it was about Cat's girlfriend at the time. Apparently she was really excited that he wrote the song about her and she loved it until she really paid attention to the words. "Hey - I'm Dead!" Apparently she didn't take to kindly to being dead in the song...)

Anyway, I can see how some of the other songs can be dated. They are good, but I have never really been over impressed with them, especially with Lilywhite. However, Katmandu alone is worth the album, and since ever a mediocre Cat song is better than 99% of the garbage on the airways today, you really can't go wrong.

1-0 out of 5 stars Awful album
I really love Cat Stevens' early work such as Tea for the Tillerman and Catch Bull at Four. When I found a Mona Bone Jackson LP in a yard sale I thought I was in for a real treat. However when I listened to it for the first time I thought it was so bad that I immediately threw it into the garbage.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Beginning
Although he began his career earlier in Englad, this is the beginning of the Cat Stevens most American's knew. Well written lyrics and music. ... Read more

147. Song for Juli
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Asin: B00069YE7U
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Sales Rank: 34570
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148. Under Cold Blue Stars
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Asin: B00005UOWM
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 10202
Average Customer Review: 4.41 out of 5 stars
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Under Cold Blue Stars, the third album from native Nebraskan Josh Rouse, is full of elegant, melodic pop songs that are deftly understated but carry hooks as catchy as Coldplay's (whose music the opening song, "Twilight," uncannily evokes). This is music for folk in love with Americana and timeless pop; it's a gentle hinterland of melancholy and hope. The loose concept behind Under Cold Blue Stars is that of a fractious couple in the late 1950s, trying to come to terms with their lives and relationship. "Christmas with Jesus" is an unashamedly beautiful realization of their struggles, as is the upbeat title track, which touches on sources as diverse as Nils Lofgren, the Cure, and even Bruce Springsteen (albeit, a Springsteen shorn of all pride and aggrandizement). All this adds up to make Under Cold Blue Stars rather special. --Everett True ... Read more

Reviews (27)

4-0 out of 5 stars Sublime
Since his excellent debut "Dressed Up Like Nebraska", Josh Rouse has never disappointed. He knows how to make a song work. With this third album, the synthesizer is present over the first half of the album and though I'm not big on this sound, the quality of the music still wins. Josh has always been influenced by some new wave music, and that's what takes him a bit apart of the scene. In "Under Cold Blue Stars" you can have U2 in mind on some tracks, as well as Radiohead or R.E.M, bands I personally don't use to like so much, but with Josh Rouse it's different, probably because he's a solo artist with a more intimate approach. The second half of the disc is by far my favorite: from "Ugly Stories" to "The Whole Night Through", it's simply sublime. "Feeling No Pain" is a terrific single that recalls The Jesus & Mary Chain (remember the glorious "April Skies"?). The wonderful "Ears To The Ground" was not written by Josh, but Jason Phelan (from a band called The What Four). "Summer Kitchen Ballad" could make you weep by surprise. "Women & Men" must be one of the highlights of Josh shows. "The Whole Night Through" ends as a beautiful twilight.

All over, a space and solemn emotion in the music, that makes of "Under Cold Blue Stars" one of the records of the year.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Music of the 'Stars'
As a pop album with a soul, Josh Rouse's Under Cold Blue Stars confronts the beaten boundaries of pop music while comfortably remaining within their confines. Just as his sound is about to dissolve into predictability, Rouse delves confidently into unexplored musical terrain, delivering a collection of 11 songs that embrace a spectrum of musical moods. From the hauntingly spare "Summer Kitchen Ballad" to the jangling "Nothing Gives Me Pleasure" to the frenetic "Feeling No Pain," Rouse's sound is as challenging as it is charming.

Rouse does not necessarily accomplish anything really new here. Rather, he reconfigures standard pop devices, stripping the genre of its fluff and cutting to its bare bones. Thus, while Under Cold Blue Stars is not the work of an innovator, his attempt at acquainting pop music with honesty and substance is, for the most part, an encouraging success.

In a recent NPR [National Public Radio] interview, Rouse recalled the FM radio of his Nebraska childhood, saturated with Neil Young and Fleetwood Mac. Rouse knows his influences rather well, it seems, as Under Cold Blue Stars plays like a reconciliation between the dreamy levity of Fleetwood Mac's "Gypsy" with the dour minimalism of Neil Young's "Albuquerque." However, while Young, Fleetwood Mac and comparable contemporaries such as Radiohead nail themselves to a definitive sound -- Radiohead's unremitting gloom, for example -- Rouse frolics somewhat drastically from one temperament to the next, defying category at every turn.

Interestingly, this schizophrenic approach renders his triumphs just as visible as his failures, yielding a rather didactic statement on the dos and don'ts of pop songwriting. For a younger artist, Rouse often exhibits a notable restraint of his powers, while occasionally letting his abundant energy obfuscate his capacity for melody and pathos. A healthy dose of bleakly spare tracks instills the album with a memorable immediacy and poise, whereas other tracks, such as "Women and Men," embark towards the same kind of promise only to descend into the distasteful pop arrangements that Rouse spends much of his time eluding. Fortunately, such descents occur rarely on Under Cold Blue Stars and the power of other, simpler songs keeps the album confidently afloat.

Similarly, Rouse's lyrics are as manic-depressive as his music is restless. At once innocent and bitter, Rouse's narrative of love and loss leaves nothing unsaid, documenting the spectrum of the heart from glory to grief and back again. "Nothing gives me pleasure like you do, I've always been the one to follow you" he croons on his way to requited love, only to confess his broken heart just a few songs later, in the vulnerably tender "Ugly Stories:" "Farewell, bye bye, sad look in your eye doesn't mean a thing." Despite his subject, Rouse's language consistently avoids mawkishness and doggerel, articulating desire in words as blunt and raw as Bob Dylan's on his equally forlorn Time Out of Mind.

Rouse's best songs do not reveal themselves entirely in the first listen, settling into the consciousness like silt at the floor of still waters. "Christmas With Jesus," the album's best song, slowly peels and pierces the heart, while raw, folkish ballads such as "The Whole Night Through" or "Summer Kitchen Ballad" awaken the mind like sudden rushes of nostalgia. Undoubtedly, Under Cold Blue Stars is the work of an emerging artist, and if Rouse slips into an occasional burst of production overkill, it only serves as a more vivid illustration that a good song invites the listener to participate in its experience, rather than doing all the work itself.

Triumphs such as "Christmas With Jesus" and "Summer Kitchen Ballad" demonstrate a kind of courage and honesty that surface only on those rare achievements such as The Bends or Blood on the Tracks. Those masterpieces execute their power more consistently and stylishly than Rouse, but, in the end, the comparisons are not as lofty as they may seem.

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Album by an amazing performer...
This is one of the most hypnotic alternative albums of the decade! I love this cd. There really are no words to describe how great the music is. The songs are all beautifully performed and the melodies are all intoxicating and catchy. I'm not usually a fan of male vocals but I love this album. Definetly one of the best cds I have ever owned.

5-0 out of 5 stars No question, one of the best
If you like heartfelt acoustic rock, this is the album for you. Josh's laid back, matter of fact voice blends perfectly with the funk rhythm on Under the Cold Blue Stars (think almost Remy Shand) and the moving Nothing Gives Me Pleasure. I can shut my eyes and imagine myself walking through Manhattan late in a January evening with the wind nipping at my face. Despite that, no matter what my mood is, there is something on this album that speaks to me each time I play it and the complex layers always keep me coming back to this album, time and again. You won't go wrong with this album, there's not a weak song on it.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected
I first heard Josh Rousse on a Various Artists album, and this was the first Josh Rousse album I've purchased. I was dissipointed to find out that it wasn't much like the song of his that I heard (Laughter). The album itself is not bad, it has a easy-going, laid back feel, similar artists would be Jack Johnson and Duncan Sheik. The tracks mold together, giving it a somwhat bland feel to it, but overall worth the money. ... Read more

149. Become You
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Asin: B00006310B
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Sales Rank: 28573
Average Customer Review: 4.43 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (37)

3-0 out of 5 stars Mildly Disappointed
The IGs have returned to the relationship-heavy themes of their earlier albums. Gone are the dense, complex arrangements of Scooter Boys, Jonas & Ezikiel, and Gone Again; and gone are the harder-hitting songs like Sister, Compromise, and Go from the previous Come On Now Social. Not that there is anything wrong with the mellower side of the Girls; songs like Ghost, You and Me of 10,000 Wars, Galileo, and Prince of Darkness are masterpieces. I get the feeling, though, that Emily is writing the same song over and over again. I am getting a bit tired of her songs about turbulent relationships.

Musically, this album is pretty tame. Some may prefer this side of the Indigo Girls, but I prefer Amy's darker, denser arrangements; songs like Three Hits, Dead Man's Hill, Chicken Man, and the previously mentioned songs from Come On Now Social. These type of songs are lacking on Become You, with the exception of the title track and Starkville.

This album tends to put me to sleep and the last song, Nuevas Senoritas, makes me nod off all together.

4-0 out of 5 stars Different....but good
I think this album is good on its own merit. True, it can't be compared to such albums as Swamp Ophelia & Rites of Passage. So don't try. The songs are inspired and will move you if you let them - but if you try to compare them to the songs from your favorite IG album, you will be disappointed. It's like buying a new shirt and immediately expecting to love it as much as your favorite sweater. If you're a fan of the Indigo Girls, you will appreciate this collection of songs. They are a bit softer than usual, but retain the unique melodic quality that makes IG amazing.

5-0 out of 5 stars Another Pearl from the Indigos
The Indigo Girls have made another great album. The mood of this album is a bit more quiet than on most of their earlier albums. No rockers this time. But the songs are great as usual.

Amy Ray has really grown as a songwriter. Most of her contributions to this album are very strong. "Moment of Forgiveness", "Become You" and "Nuevas Senoritas" are among her greatest songs ever. "Starkville" is also a great song. Amy was the rawer half of the duo; she still is, but her songwriting has really matured with this album.

Emily Saliers' songs are top-notch as usual. 3 great ballads this time; "Deconstruction", "Hope Alone" ( in the same vein as "Southlands in the Springtime") and "Our Deliverance". Emily's 3 other songs are fine too, of course.

Great production by Peter Collins.

5-0 out of 5 stars Getting better all the time
I am an Indigo Girls fan and own several of the albums. I bought this one as soon as it hit the shelves and was not disappointed. My favorite songs are "Moments of Forgiveness," "Deconstruction," "Become You," and "Yield." I also like "Starkville," partly because I went to college there and I can just imagine the Homecoming Queen and her entourage coming riding into the Holiday Inn or Budget Inn or whatever. I haven't been able to figure out the meaning of "Starkville," but the others are beautiful, poignant, and insightful songs about relationships. "Yield" is about finding the balance between courage and learning to yield. Absolutely beautiful. These women are great songwriters as well as muscians.

5-0 out of 5 stars Become You ~ Indigo Girls
I'm so thrilled with this CD. It is the traditional IG I first fell in love with. I like the rockier stuff too, however, this is the way I like to hear them best.
They have added some additional instrumentation that I haven't heard before from them, and I love it, love it, love it!!! ... Read more

150. Up All Night
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Asin: B00008XEQQ
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 2331
Average Customer Review: 4.83 out of 5 stars
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The Waifs may hail from Australia, but their canny blend of acoustic blues, country, and folk wouldn’t sound out of place in the sort of hip Texas roadhouse that has Townes Van Zandt and Bob Dylan on the jukebox. The trio consists of sisters Vicki and Donna Simpson, who both play guitar and harmonize beautifully, and multi-instrumentalist Joshua Cunningham. All three are fine songwriters, and although they each have distinctly different styles, their compositions fit together like a musical mosaic. Cunningham’s moving, hopeful "Lighthouse" can be heard as a response to Donna’s bittersweet song of homesickness, "London Still," which in turn echoes in Vicki’s road ballad, "Three Down." The Waifs may play the same Dobros, mandolins, and guitars that any American folk or alt-country band play, but their Australian accents and outlook give them a refreshing take on the style. --Michael Simmons ... Read more

Reviews (12)

5-0 out of 5 stars Simply amazing
Since being exposed to The Waifs SINK OR SWIM on the local community folk radio program some months back, I purchased it straightaway and haven't regretted it for an instant. In fact, it seems like forever that I have awaited the release of UP ALL NIGHT. I was blessed to be able to witness the terrific talent and energy of Vikki & Donna Simpson, and Josh Cunningham (The Waifs) on May 3rd at Tropical Heatwave in Tampa. And afterwards, I purchased a copy of UP ALL NIGHT. What a musical treat this CD is from the opening cut throughout it's 48 minute length. With the beautiful vocals of Vikki and Donna and Josh's terrific guitar work, that would be enough in and of itself to offer a sumptuous feast for the soul. But then add Vikki's infectious harmonica-playing which infuses so much on Fisherman's Daughter, Lighthouse, 4th Floor. etc., and you have a CD that, for me, is the best musical purchase that I have made in 2003, by far. It is so very strong lyrically and beautiful musically that I cannot help but sing its praises. And as they are on tour currently, opening for Bob Dylan (when not performing alone), make every effort to see them if you are one to appreciate someone sharing their talents and loving doing it. Mark my words. Peace.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Aussie Triumph
'Up All Night' is, to put it simply, one of the best albums you could ever hope to hear. With vocals that go from soulful to searing, guitar that does the same, and songwriting that puts the Fred Dursts of the world to shame, The Waifs have put together something remarkable. It's not often you hear an independent release that sounds this good, and it is to the bands credit that they are achieving more exposure than ever. Donna (will you marry me?), Vikki and Josh combine brilliantly on every song. It is just so refreshing to hear music that shows clearly how much the artists enjoy making it. The standout tracks are London Still (an anthem for all Aussie expats), Fisherman's Daughter, and Fourth Floor, each different, but each brilliant in its own right. The Waifs style is hard to classify, but this pop/folk/country trio quite obviously have the magic touch, and it is a shame more people aren't aware of them. If you have a brain you will buy this album, and support independent music. Also, if you ever get a chance to see them live, do whatever it takes to get to the show.They are always amazing. This is music to put a smile on your face.

5-0 out of 5 stars Shades of Paul Kelly, Jewel, Bonnie Raitt, Joni Mitchell....
If you are into any of these artists, you will love "Up all Night". There are echoes of all these musical styles in this album. This covers them all.

Joshua Cunningham's vocals on 'Since I've Been Around' are reminiscent of Paul Kelly (another great Australian folk/blues singer), as are the catchy instumentals on 'Lighthouse'.

The songs on this album are composed of deceptively simple poetry, which reminded me of Jewel's songwriting. There is often a deeper meaning, as in 'Fourth Floor'. I even felt shades of Joni Mitchell in this one. And 'Three Down' is a country-bluesy song in the same vein as many Bonnie Raitt songs.

The Waifs are unique in the way they bring all these musical styles together. The great musicality, featuring the ever-present harmonica, and the harmonies of the Simpson sisters, are the connecting thread through this album. But there is enough variety for repeated listening. This is one of the best albums I have heard for some time.

4-0 out of 5 stars another stellar effort
although their 2nd album remains my favourite to date, this is another fantastic effort by the Aussie trio. Coming off a tour opening for Dylan, The Waifs are *this close* to becoming a name in the US. Have a listen, take a chance - you won't be disappointed!

5-0 out of 5 stars You'll be UP ALL NIGHT listening to this record
Call it American folk, call it, call it what you like, but if you heard this Aussie trio on CBS or NPR earlier this week, suffice to say their in a category all their own. Love that harmonica. Up All Night by the Waifs is appropriately titled. I'll be up all night listening to it! ... Read more

151. Made to Love Magic
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Asin: B0001XLVMW
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Sales Rank: 3610
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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All the world's a stage and folk legend Nick Drake--a frail, reclusive romantic whose music was sad but beautifully emancipating and who died young in 1974 in mysterious circumstances--was one of life's reluctant players. As epithets go, the lyrics to Made to Love Magic ("I was born to sail away into a land of never, not to be tied to an old stone grave") aptly convey how Nick Drake's legend continues to gather no moss, even some three decades after his lonely tranquilized farewell. Enthusiastic newcomers should start with any of Drake's three studio albums (Five Leaves Left, Bryter Layter, Pink Moon) and Patrick Humphries' definitive biography but Made to Love Magic is, nevertheless, essential. Consisting of rare and unheard tracks (many of which have even avoided the mucky paws of the keenest bootlegger) and compiled by those closest to him (sister Gabrielle, engineer John Wood, and fellow Cambridge University student and string-arranger Robert Kirby) the album is a labor of love. Lost amateur recordings of Nick Drake at University in Cambridge, outtakes from the Five Leaves Left album, Robert Kirby's unused string arrangements for "Magic" and "Time of No Reply" finally restored, an early rendition of "Three Hours" featuring Rebop Kwaku Baah (Traffic, Can) on percussion and remixed versions of those despairing final songs from July 1974, including the newly discovered "Tow the Line." This is surely the final word on Nick Drake; unless, of course, those Aix-en-Provences tapes and that mythical lost Peel session from August 1969 ever make themselves known. --Kevin Maidment ... Read more

Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Surprises from the Vault (and the potting shed)
When I first read about this album, before hearing it, I was disappointed to think that it was really a rehash of the Nick Drake material we've heard before. OK, I was wrong! One thing this album gives us in these gorgeous songs is an in-depth look at Nick's Guitar playing. We get to hear what River Man really sounds like, as well as Mayfair, a brand new song from the last session called Tow the Line, a great live studio take of Three Hours, the final session remastered -- as well as remastered editions of Joey and Clothes of Sand -- and more. Robert Kirby adds his original string arrangements to two songs, from a tape he had in his potting shed! Nick's guitar and his playing have a clarity here that is stronger than on Time of No Reply. What this album also does is help cast Nick's last session in a different light. When the Fruit Tree booklet notes were written two decades ago, the final four songs were supposedly sqeezed out of a depressed young man who was all out of songs. Listening to them now, they appear to be the first few songs of the fourth Nick Drake album, never completed due to his accidental death. Even Black Dog doesn't sound terrifying, as the Fruit Tree booklet notes then made it out to be. We tend to make up stories, particularly about artists who died young. Forget what you have heard and just LISTEN to Nick's songs, to their depth and beauty.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Return of Drake's Spirit
I must say that when I heard about the gathering of these recordings, I imagined it the work of vultures squeezing a few more pounds and dollars, out of material that might have been rejected earlier for good reasons.
I'm so glad to say that I was absolutely wrong!
Indeed, this album is comprised from outtakes, demos and alternate versions from his output -unfortunately limited by his suicide- yet the result is not the shameless hawking of sub par stuff. Quite in the contrary, it is more nectar from one of the most influential Folk singer-songwriters who ever lived.
Nick Drake's spirit is back in 13 gorgeous tunes -including even a new song, Tow The Line- reminding us of his keen talent for introspective moods, and tender melodies that could create an intimate moment even in a busy NYC subway trains.
After all, although Drake died so lamentably young at 26, he managed to influence several generations of young men and women who went on, in their own right to be distinct folk voices themselves. From Elliott Smith to Devendra Banhart, Damien Rice or Joanna Newsom, the sad and thoughtful touch of Nick Drake's universe has bore its influence.
I can only think of Tim Buckley, his graceful and doomed contemporary in the States as having etched a similar deep course in the new Folk scene.
If you haven't heard Drake before, this may not be the place to start -although I don't know how it could hurt- since those three albums, which he released while still alive, might offer you a better sense of what he was after and a beautiful example of the integrity and development of each of those song-cycles.
Gathered finally thirty years after his death, the songs included here, as different as they may be to the Drake-refined ear, still represent a stronger set than most contemporary Folk offerings.
Sadness well expressed, with the poetic depth found here, could never cease to speak to any age. Sadness turns beauty, when you are as talented as Nick Drake.
Enter this album expecting to be awed by its quiet marvel, and let your heart be educated by his timeless spirit.

5-0 out of 5 stars Magic, indeed.
We didn't think it would happen, but here it is - another new compilation of recordings by Nick Drake, that troubled and marvelously talented young man who in his short career nevertheless managed to produce three of the most heartbreakingly beautiful albums ever made. You can't go wrong with any of them, as the Amazon critic above says, but this disc is still no less essential. It's seemingly meant to replace Time of No Reply - which was the previous offering of gems-from-the-vault - and so there's still a little overlap here. Here's the breakdown for those wondering what's really 'new':

"Joey," "Clothes of Sand," "Thoughts of Mary Jane," "Rider on the Wheel," "Black-Eyed Dog" and "Voices" (aka Voice from the Mountain) are the same tracks from ToNR, remastered and spruced up as much as possible.

"Hanging on a Star," "Mayfair" and "River Man" are solo takes with just Nick and his guitar, previously unissued. "Three Hours" is also an alternate take from the studio, this time with congas and flute. The differences in those last two give a fresh new twist, especially "River Man" which had only been released with full strings.

(I Was Made to Love) "Magic" and "Time of No Reply" itself have had orchestral backings freshly recorded, working from the original charts made in the late 60s (and in the case of ToNR never used). Again, a wonderful new twist.

"Tow the Line" is apparently a new discovery and has never been released anywhere. It could have easily belonged on Pink Moon - it's another pretty solo song and shares the same not-really-fatalistic mood. On its own it's not exactly spectacular, but of course it's noteworthy as the only Drake song heretofore unknown. Well, as far as we know.

So there it is, although I'm probably not the only one who had to have it sight-unseen just because everything the man put to tape was stellar. I'm not sure why a couple of the ToNR tracks were still left off here; they could have easily been added to MTLM (which runs a little under 42 minutes as it is), and now there are a mere couple recordings that are unfairly fading into the realm of the out-of-print. But that can't be helped now, so all I can do is encourage anyone who hasn't discovered this wonderful artist yet to rectify the situation whenever possible. Nick's is a catalogue that's as fresh, vital and exquisitely beautiful today as it was 30 years ago, and Made to Love Magic stands as the (almost) perfect finish. Buy, marvel and wonder.

5-0 out of 5 stars Unreleased rarities, remixes and new arrangements
This album contains unreleased rarities, remixes and new arrangements of songs by the late Nick Drake, who died 30 years ago at age 26. The closing song ("Tow The Line") is believed to be the last song ever recorded by him. If you want to listen to a preview of it, go to NPR's web site, and check it out in the archives of "All Songs Considered" (Episode 64). You will be happy to hear his voice, which has become one of the most important re-discoveries of 2004. ... Read more

152. Desireless
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Asin: B000009D01
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 23324
Average Customer Review: 4.13 out of 5 stars
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The offspring of jazz-trumpet great Don Cherry and half-brother of both Neneh Cherry and Swedish pop diva Titiyo (who duets with her brother on "Worried Eyes"), Eagle-Eye proves that we are not who we're related to. He was born in Stockholm to Cherry and Swedish mixed-media artist Moki, and one might suppose a member of this clan to be as innovative as the rest of his brood, especially given such an idiosyncratic moniker. But it turns out that that's the only eccentric thing about this musician. Cherry offers up a low-key, melodic diary of tales of his misspent youth in New York. And despite the music's soft-focus part-Cat Stevens, part-Ben Harper leanings, occasionally you realize that Eagle-Eye must have pasted posters of Ozzy Osbourne and Jimi Hendrix on his bedroom wall. "Indecision" (supposedly a rejoinder to Stockholm neo-Nazi "White Noise" bands like Swastika) rides on a searing Richie Blackmore lick. "Save Tonight" is a bittersweet reworking of Peter, Paul and Mary's "Leaving on a Jet Plane" theme. The title song updates his late father's "Desireless," which is revitalized via sparse piano, a haunting trumpet, and Cherry's hypnotic, repetitive vocals. Here it's clear that, even though he is dabbling in the shoals of alt-folk-rock, Eagle-Eye can claim a limb on the family tree anytime he wants. --Jaan Uhelszki ... Read more

Reviews (87)

5-0 out of 5 stars A delightful surprise!
I loved the single "Save Tonight" on first listen, but I had no idea that I'd love the entire CD on first listen, very rare for me! Joins Lucinda Williams' "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road" as a CD sure to be on my top 10 of the year list. Eagle-Eye is hard to categorize, but he's great at it all... folk, rock, world music, soul, pop. Very well produced, lots of intriguing instrumentation but never feels busy... to the contrary, it almost feels stripped down. Great stuff! If you like "Save Tonight," you won't be disappointed.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, beautiful
I am a huge music fan (from the Dave Matthews Band to Metallica to Boyz II Men), so of course I bought this album the day after I heard Save Tonight on the radio. It's beautiful, and Eagle-Eye's (that's his REAL name; it's not a band! I researched this!:-)) voice is wonderful, as is his writing skills. I love the song Worried Eyes, with a great female singer (I beleive her name is Titiyo Jah, if that's the right name on the CD jacket) singing along with Eagle Eye. Such a beautiful song! I can also really relate to Falling In Love Again!

I'm looking for anything with Tityo Jah, as her voice is beautiful. Email me if you know of anything....

5-0 out of 5 stars 90s Hit!
"Save Tonight" was one of my brother and I's favorite songs in 1998. It's just so cool!

5-0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite CD's
I bought this out of curiosity because someone I knew owned it and it turned out to be one of my favorite CD's. Strong throughout but "When Mermaids Cry" is the clear winner. Haunting.

4-0 out of 5 stars Mellow rock
Eagle-Eye Cherry's platinum debut CD will be remembered primarily for the hit "Save Tonight" and his odd-sounding name, but it really is a terrific CD overall. It's the type of CD that I don't listen to often but impresses when I slip it into my stereo. Like "Save Tonight," most of the songs are mid-rock and mellow sounding, almost jazzy at times. None of the other songs really stand out as could-a-been hits because this CD is best listened to as a whole. The CD also ends beautifully with a cover of "Desireless," which was written by Eagle-Eye's father. Eagle-Eye wrote and co-produced most of the album, and he really is a major talent. Too bad Eagle-Eye's most recent CD didn't keep him in the spotlight, where he deserves to be. ... Read more

153. Matters of the Heart
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Sales Rank: 5349
Average Customer Review: 4.38 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (13)

4-0 out of 5 stars One Song
I love this album, and that is based on one song- "I Used To Be A Sailor". I'm not a sailor, and honestly there has been little in my life to cause the frustration this piece speaks about- but this song spoke to me. I enjoy the rest of the album, but when choosing a Tracy Chapman CD to travel with- I choose this one because of that one song.

5-0 out of 5 stars THE CHAPMAN CD TO HAVE
If you are a Chapman fan, take the time to get and listen to this maserpiece that unfortunately did not get the acclaim it deserved. The work on this CD is touching and will give you the same critically social meanings that we have come to know and love in Tracy's work. Get this for your collection.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of her best
Tracy Chapman is whitout doubt one of ours best songwriter and singer. The first time I played Tracy Chapman in my class, they all thought she was a man, because of her deep vocal but they liked her really much. This album takes you on a journey, to your soul you'll be touch by Bang bang bang, being cying over So, and being moved by I Used to be a sailor. While this album wasn't a big hit I was deep chocked over the way the media purchased this album. I still think this is one of her best albums to date.

4-0 out of 5 stars Escape to another place.
I first became aquainted with Tracy Chapman while listening to "New Beginnings". I was instantly captivated by her voice and the mood of the music. I have since bought every CD she's come out with including "Matters of the Heart". This CD is quite different from her earlier work but yet still very much Tracy Chapman. "Bang,Bang,Bang" takes your mind's eye to the hopelessness of a boy that had his opportunities taken from him due to our cultural fear and ignorance. One cannot listen to this song without being deeply touched. My favorite track on this CD is "I Used To Be A Sailor". The melody instantly transports the listener to a place outside the realms of this world. While not my favorite Tracy Chapman CD, it is certainly a "must have" for anyone who wants music that touches their heart and soul.

5-0 out of 5 stars An overlooked gem
Critics and fans tend to treat Matters of the Heart as a creative misstep, but the album is rewarding to the serious Chapman listener. This is a quiet, contemplative album free of songs with pop hooks for airplay. There is no artifice to songs like "I Used to Be a Sailor," where she captures the frustration of a sailor trapped on dry land. The rhythm of the song is like the waves of the sea; the structure of the song itself expresss why the sailor is seduced my motion. The listener's mind, like his, is on the sea.

The album ends with the thoughtful and literate title track and you realize that you've arrived at the end without the artist pandering to her audience for even a moment. This is a strong and brave album which deserves a second look from any serious Chapman fan, whether they prefer her earlier "Fast Car" days or her later "comeback" phase. ... Read more

154. Unplugged
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Average Customer Review: 4.89 out of 5 stars
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Based on past form ol' Neil should have been about ready to kiss off the sizeable audience he recaptured with Harvest Moon with an amp-shredding noisefest. Instead he aims to please here with vintage repertoire, the debut of a 1976 gem ("Stringman"), some tasty departures (the pump-organ "Like A Hurricane") and a heart-tugging "Helpless". The Unplugged backlash does not begin here. Jeff Bateman ... Read more

Reviews (27)

5-0 out of 5 stars Acoustic Young
Neil Young was unplugged before the MTV show become a phenomenon, so it was only natural that he make an appearance on the show. As usual, Mr. Young mixes up his set, playing new songs like "From Hank To Hendrix" and the sweet "Harvest Moon" to old chestnuts like the Buffalo Springfield's "Mr. Soul" and "The Old Laughing Lady" from his first solo album. While many of the songs like "The Needle & The Damage Done" & the brilliant "Pocahontas" were acoustic to begin with, there are songs that go under some radical transformations. "Like A Hurricane" was a fuzz guitar heavy, sonic blast, but here it is propelled by only Mr. Young's voice and an eerie pump organ. The results are outstanding. "Transformer Man" is from his electronic album, Trans, and the vocals were distorted by a vocoder. In it's acoustic form, it takes on a weird perspective with its futuristic lyrics. "Helpless" is absolutely gorgeous with lush harmonies led by old Crazy Horse member and current E Streeter, Nils Lofgren. Unplugged is one of the better album taken from the show and shows Neil Young's chameleon like ability to transform songs into different styles.

4-0 out of 5 stars Emphasizing the Mellow
Neil Young appeared on MTV's "Unplugged" series after the release of his "Harvest Moon" album. Like that album, "Unplugged" definitely puts firm emphasis on Neil's mellow side, which in this case yields beautiful results. The material spans the artist's whole career, from Buffalo Springfield (a haunting, stripped-down "Mr. Soul") to his early solo triumphs ("The Old Laughing Lady," "The Needle And The Damage Done"), from CSN&Y ("Helpless") to the mid-'70s "dark" period ("World On A String"), from the Crazy Horse guitar hero days (a radically reworked "Like A Hurricane") to the then-current "Harvest Moon" period (several tracks). My personal gripe is that there's no material from 1974's "On The Beach" (tell me "Ambulance Blues" wouldn't have made this a five-star disc), but the beautiful acoustic reading of the previously electronic "! Transformer Man," from the much-maligned "Trans" album, makes up for it: the performance casts a familiar song in a refreshingly new light, always a neat trick if you can pull it off. (The previously unreleased "Stringman" is also a nice bonus.) Neil is alone for part of the show, until he is joined by pals including Nils Lofgren, Ben Keith, Tim Drummond, Nicolette Larson, and Young's sister, Astrid Young. All do quite well, especially during a take of "Harvest Moon" that is actually more beautiful than the album version (which is saying a lot).

5-0 out of 5 stars Unique Artist..That's for Sure!
Neil doesn't disappoint. I would love to see him in concert and do the national anthem Hendrix-style. That would be interesting.
From "Mr. Soul" to "Hurricane" this is a great collection!

Alot of us in our 40's are still very fond of Neil.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Brilliance of Depression
This album is probably the best acoustic performance Neil has done in awhile. Everyone knows this is a great album. I just want to clarify that the version of "Mr. Soul" on this album is the way he ORIGINALLY wrote it. He did not remake this song...the Buffalo did that in the 60's. So there's a little more incentive for you to buy this record.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wasn't he unplugged already?
Given Neil Young's huge catalog and its inclusion of so much acoustic material, you might think that 'unplugging' him would just amount to his doing a show of his acoustic songs. Well, that certainly would have been the easy way. But if Neil took the easy way, he wouldn't be the Neil we've come to know and love.

In fact, although there is a generous helping of material on this CD that was originally released in 'acoustic' form, there are also a number of surprises. For this show, Neil took several highly non-'acoustic' songs and converted them.

One of my favorites is his bluesy, wailing version of 'Mr. Soul'. Originally a Buffalo Springfield tune, this time it's just Neil with his guitar and harmonica. I also like the stripped-down, countryfolkified performances of 'Old Laughing Lady' and 'World on a String'.

And wait until you hear what he's done with 'Transformer Man'. Even if you didn't like it before, you may like it now.

There's also 'Like a Hurricane', a blistering rocker originally released on _American Stars 'n' Bars_ (which, incidentally, is now available on CD at last!). Here Neil performs it solo, accompanying himself on pump organ.

This show took place not long after the release of the magnificent _Harvest Moon_, so there are a couple of selections from that album. And the rest is what you'd expect -- a set of solid performances of old and new favorites, some well-known and some obscure, from all stages of Neil's long career. "The Needle and the Damage Done', 'Look Out for My Love', 'Long May You Run' -- this stuff is never going to wear out its welcome.

One last highlight: Neil also does a fine tune called 'Stringman' (which I suspect is about Stephen Stills); I don't believe I'd ever heard it, or even heard _of_ it, before this release. ... Read more

155. Branch to Branch
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Sales Rank: 9573
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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5-0 out of 5 stars great old time music by a real martian
Leon Redbone is a true martian in the world of music.I even don't know about his age,although I listen to him for some 20 years.Every record by Leon is a gem,almost his early recordings in which he plays a lot of guitar; and when Leon plays guitar, he's truly amazing, somewhere between Blind Blake and Joseph Spence.There are great tunes in this record,a beautiful lullaby ("prairie lullaby"),tributes to Jelly Roll Morton ("Te-na-na" and the marvelous "why",to tunes recorded by Jelly Roll in his 1940 session,thelast he ever made),a tribute to Blind Blake too ("step it up and go"); let's say that Leon may be the guy that was the closer ever to Blind Blake;he can play outstanding things like Blind Blake did.Redbone's smoky voice is amazing in every tune.There is also a marvelous "extra blues",and a salute to the great Ukulele Ike,"when you wish upon a star".Backing Leon, you can listen to Dr John,Grady Tate,Bob Cranshaw and Ed Polcer.A great trip back to the pre-war years.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of a kind!
Leon is fabulous! Great musicians too. Jack Maheu makes it for me.

Check out the Salt City Six and Dukes of Dixieland if you don't believe me!

This, comming from a tuba player!

However, the recording engineer has no clue whatsoever! A VERY poor recording for contemporary standards. I would bet that even the master tape couldn't be cleaned up. Very shoddy work here! I could do beter with a dixie cup and a string to a scully lathe burning hot direct to platten.

If you are an audiophile, run away! If you have an unconditional love for jazz, go for it!

This could/should have been recorded better!

Greg Kalkhoff (

5-0 out of 5 stars Great.
Splendid work of listening pleasure

5-0 out of 5 stars I love this CD! I have it and it is my favorite.
I would like to ask where I can get the words to Prairie Lullaby so I can sing with Leon Redbone when I am rocking my grandchildren to sleep. ... Read more

156. Greatest Hits
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Sales Rank: 13732
Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (5)

4-0 out of 5 stars New "Tabby Cat" of Al Stewart's work.
This "greatest hits" album does not follow the usual toll of the bell that sounds the end of an artist's career. Rather it is a collection of tracks from early and obscure works combined with his most popular tunes. As a previous reviewer has stated there is nothing new here for any Al Stewart fan who is familiar with previous recordings. It is a great CD for people who have not followed Stewart closely and are unfamiliar with his work outside of "Year of the Cat" and "Time Passages". For almost 30 years now you can still hear those two tunes and perhaps "Songs on the Radio" being played in Supermarkets, Drug Stores, Doctor's Offices and Elevators. Al's work still gets public attention, but he is really an unrecognized genius whose best work lies in previous releases prior to "Cat". The new "Border" CD contains more serious displays but this should satisy the general public as a "generic" Al Album suitable for play anywhere. Includes the famous "Roads to Moscow"! (Thank God) Keep Al on the Air!

4-0 out of 5 stars Needless To Say: It's Great!
Trying to buy just one Al Stewart album can be a tricky thing. Though a variety of imports offer Al's output from 1966-1970 (tentative voice at work surrounded by precocious orchestrations), from his CBS-U.K. years (getting better) and from his Arista output (all the big hits but none of the great early tracks), nothing captures all of it in timely fashion and in a single setting. Rhino's 2004 Greatest Hits (R2-78064) comes awful close. Sandwiched between "Bedsitter Images" and "Last Days Of The Century" are the songs Al's become famous for: "Soho (Needless To Say)", "Roads To Moscow", "Carol", "Year Of The Cat", "On The Border", "Running Man" and more. Longtime fans have this stuff already and certainly, there's nothing here for them. But casual buyers will enjoy this compilation without feeling guilty or unsatisfied by missing content (though personally, I wish "Nostradamus" had been included: too long I guess). Al's notes are great reading, the sound is pristine and yes: it's the full length studio versions that appear (some of the imports occasionally serve up "live" tracks of the songs they can't license, so caveat emptor!). The end result is a great primer and...needless to say...a superb release that'll have you hitting "repeat play" every time.

4-0 out of 5 stars A good primer
A fine disc for the beginner, or casual fan. All the hits are the full-length album versions.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good overview
Evidently this CD has edited versions of some songs (based on another reviewer's comments). I have the Dutch import (The Very Best of Al Stewart) which contains all the hits and many of the same other tracks as this title. However, the Dutch import contains all full-length versions (and some live tracks) and seems a better value to me.

3-0 out of 5 stars Contains full studio versions?
Does anyone know if this new version of Al Stewart's Greatest Hits includes the FULL-LENGTH studio versions of "Year Of The Cat" "Time Passages" "Song On The Radio" and "On The Border"??? ... Read more

157. "Love and Theft"
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Average Customer Review: 4.58 out of 5 stars
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When we last left the ever-confounding saga that is Bob Dylan's now-superhuman recording career, he'd reunited with producer Daniel Lanois, with whom he cut 1997's Time Out of Mind, his most coherent and appealing collection in nearly a decade. Now the still-reigning prince of musical contrariety and potent wordplay is back with his most focused, well-played collection since 1989's Oh Mercy, another Lanois production. One listen to the fade-in of the opener "Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum" and it's clear that all Dylan's roadwork has shaped him and his band (including guitarist Charlie Sexton) into a mighty musical weapon. And while his craggy howl continues to resonate, it's the songs here that astonish. A sturdy midtempo melody makes "Mississippi" the equal of the best numbers on Time, which it was actually written for. He convincingly puts over the R&B swing (yes, swing) number "Summer Days." "Honest with Me" ("I'm not sorry for nuthin' I've done / I'm glad I fight, I only wished we'd won") is a driving rocker that packs a genuine punch. And the light, lounge-like "Bye and Bye" and the southland ramble "Floater (Too Much to Ask)" show extraordinary confidence. He's labeled these songs "blues-based," but in typical Dylan fashion what would promise to be the most overtly blues number here--"High Water (for Charlie Patton)"--sounds like a banjo-based gunfighter ballad. But then that's this artist's gift: confounding expectations. --Robert Baird ... Read more

Reviews (289)

5-0 out of 5 stars In a word: incredible
Unbelievably, nearly 40 years into his career, with 42 albums already to his credit, and at 60 years of age, Bob Dylan has given us yet another masterpiece. This is a total left turn from his last album, the deeply personal, grieving Time Out of Mind, with its burlesque nature and playful lyrics; much the way as Bob delivered the all-over-the-map Desire after the release of the personal, moving Blood On The Tracks. But Love and Theft is an entirely different animal. The music is indeed an expansion on the standard 12-bar blues theme, but a good portion of it sounds different, almost like early-century lounge music. Songs such as Summer Days and Bye and Bye prove that Dylan's recent cover of Dean Martin's Return To Me was no fluke. He evokes the mood and spirit of this type of music surprisingly well. Few would've thought him capable of it. But we should've learned by now not to underestimate Bob Dylan. Whereas Time Out of Mind was very bleak and world-weary-focusing mostly on mortality and broken love affairs-Love and Theft is more playfully witty, the lyrics evoking a sense of the sly and the sardonic, in a way that has not happened as magically on a Bob Dylan album, since, I dare say, Blonde On Blonde. You can tell that Dylan had fun making this album. And it is as fun to listen to. Tracks such as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, Lonesome Day Blues, and Floater (Too Much To Ask) showcase this playful side of Dylan. The aforementioned Summer Days and Bye and Bye, as well as Po' Boy showcase the easy-going, pseudo-lounge act side of Dylan. And then there are songs, such as Mississippi (in fact, an outtake from Time Out of Mind; which only shows how great that album was), and the biting closer Sugar Baby showcase the darker, mortality-obsessed side of Dylan that he wore so openly on his sleeve on his last album. This is another album that's destined to be a classic. One of the best albums of the year. A must-own.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fun - Bob Dylan Style
I took time out last night to listen to some of my favorite Bob Dylan albums, and the conclusion I came to last night was that Dylan is one of rock's great vocalists. He doesn't have a beautiful voice nor the range of other singers, but he's quite adept at phrasing a lyric. More than anything--the touring band, the musical arrangements, the bouncy lyrics--Dylan's newest effort, "Love and Theft," is a showcase for Dylan's voice.

"Mississippi," an exiled track from "Time Out of Mind," becomes a world-weary testament when sang by Dylan. Sheryl Crow cut a version of "Mississippi" in "The Globe Sessions," but it came off as a rushed, amiable rocker rather than the wise, soulful song that it is. Even in the pop arrangements for "Moonlight" and "Bye and Bye," Dylan's voice is a marvel of innuendo and desire. Perhaps the best song in the album is the closer, "Sugar Baby." When Dylan sings, "You went years without me/ You might as well keep going on," it resonates with heartbreak and resignation.

Dylan, now in his sixties, may have realized that he is no longer the agile man who could growl "How does it feel?" and intimidate the bejeezus out of you. He is now a man, late in life, who can moan and grumble about life and all its hardships yet still sound grateful. In many ways, Dylan was so much older then, and he's younger than that now.

Is "Love and Theft" one of Dylan's best albums? I'm not quite sure. I place it above "Time Out of Mind" but it doesn't match "Blood on the Tracks." In any case, I think it's Dylan's most delightful album. Dylan and fun, who would have thunk it?

5-0 out of 5 stars pure genioos
"Love & Theft" on da other hand be pure genioos... in my poofer onion... he plays wif his touring band, and mang that album is all da better for it, Bob sounds like he be having fun again for da first time in fooken years, all da songs flow but dey all sound individual as well joo kwon what I mean? There be some Jazzy snogs, some rocky songs, some folky songs, vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvs album imho. Yer. Out of da two I'd get dis one fer sure mang... hell I'd get a lot of other Dylan albums before I got Time Out Of Mind... yer.

5-0 out of 5 stars It doesn't get any better.
Had to write this after reading the negative reviews. This is a beautiful album, one of Dylan's best--as is Time Out of Mind. The critics are sometimes wrong--but not these two times. Mississippi and Po' Boy are my favorites on the former; Not Dark Yet, Standin' in the Doorway, and Tryin' to Get to Heaven on the latter. Listened to Time out of Mind the whole time I was writing my first book--helped get me through. There is no one better in popular music, and never has been.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wow
I can't believe Dylan topped Time Out of Mind. Never before has a 60-year old made such groovy stuff. If it had been released in 1967 instead of 'John Wesley Harding' Dylan would probably have been elected president whether he wanted to be or not. It definitely ranks alongside those albums. And it's funny.
If you can't tap your foot to 'Lonesome Day Blues' you're crazy. If only everyone could still make records sounding like this. This is rock and the 21st century!! Buy it and enjoy. ... Read more

158. The Mountain
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Average Customer Review: 4.78 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (78)

5-0 out of 5 stars Steve's big bluegrass adventure
Like a reviewer below, I'm a hopeless Steve Earle junkie. I've only recently become a fan, but I'm trying my best to catch up. So far I've got Guitar Town, Train A Comin', I Feel Alright, El Corazon & now The Mountain. I've listened to Exit 0 and Transcendental Blues but haven't got them yet. I also have a concert video from the TB tour that kicks butt.

The Mountain stands out from the crowd, for sure. First of all he's writing for a different style - not the country-folk-rock-alternative-bluegrass fusion that we're so used to, but pure bluegrass. We're used to the occasional foray into this idiom (I Still Carry You Around from El Corazon) but a whole album? I can easily see how some hard-core fans might be put off by it at first, I can admit that I was.

When I really started listening to it, however, and realized what a statement it makes about Steve's talent, reputation and guts, I found a new perspective. Who else could pull something like this off? "Gee, I think I'll learn bluegrass, and write a whole album of bluegrass songs, and recruit the most well-respected bluegrass band around to BACK ME UP." The real kicker is, Steve's good enough to pull it off, and Del and the boys are good enough to know he's good enough. 'Nuff said.

5-0 out of 5 stars "The Mountain" - Essential Steve Earle & Essential Bluegrass
I find some of Steve Earle's albums too diverse ("I Feel Alright", "El Corazon", "Transcendental Blues"& "Sidetracks" are all over the musical map) - but when he focuses on the Country side of things, I love his work.
"The Mountain" is a superb bluegrass album by Steve & the Del McCoury Band - an essential in my book.
Also recommended - "Train A Comin'" & "Guitar Town" by Steve Earle and "Blue Side Of Town", "Deeper Shade Of Blue", "Cold Hard Facts", "Family", & "Del And The Boys" by the Del McCoury Band - 5 Stars all 'round.

3-0 out of 5 stars Steve Earle should have left the singing to someone else.
This would be 5 stars from me if Steve Earle had left the singing to a real bluegrass vocalist. He has the best back-up band with Del McCoury, and the songs he composed for this production are fair enough. He needs to back off the "corn" accent in his singing because it sounds contrived. And leave out the "Mickey Mouse" intro. I'm glad I bought this second-hand. I hate to think of Steve getting royalty money from me for what I take to be a little joke he is pulling over on the bluegrass fans out here.

5-0 out of 5 stars Steve brings bluegrass to a wider audience
I was already familiar with bluegrass music when Steve recorded this album, but a lot of people who weren't also bought this album and most were pleasantly surprised at what they heard. To create an authentic bluegrass sound, Steve teamed up with the Del McCoury band, one of the finest bluegrass groups you're ever likely to hear. Steve wrote all the songs, declining the opportunity to include any covers of bluegrass standards. Given all the praise he gives Bill Monroe in the liner notes, it would have added a nice touch to hear him cover one of Bill's songs.

Steve covers a variety of topics on this album, delving into American history to find inspiration for such songs as Dixieland (about the civil war of the 1860's), Leroy's dustbowl blues (set in the 1930's) and Texas eagle (about a train that runs no more). As a contrast to all the songs inspired by history, the title track describes how a mountain is stripped of trees then mined for coal, leaving a trail of environmental devastation - truly a song for the times in which we live. Harlan man is another coalmining song.

There are love songs here too, including I'm still in love with you, a brilliant duet with the under-rated and under-recorded Iris DeMent. Another fine song is Carrie Brown, is about a jealous man who kills her lover and is sentenced to death for his crime. The album closes with the road song, Long lonesome highway blues, followed by the metaphorical road song, Pilgrim, which features a long guest list of harmony singers including Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch and Marty Stuart among others.

This is one of the most important albums in bluegrass history. Together with Dolly Parton's Grass is blue (also released in 1999), it helped bring bluegrass to a wider audience before the further boost provided by the O brother soundtrack. If you listen to this album, you'll understand why.

5-0 out of 5 stars Mine, Forever Blue
Personally, I have a deep connection to this album. I gave the cd to my dad to listen to on his way back to San Diego from LA. He called me about an hour after he left and told me that when he dies he wanted "Pilgrim" to be played at his funeral. He died suddenly in May and it was "Pilgrim" that was played at his funeral and reception afterward. The album has several other gems, as well, but this one will always live on in me. I will forever associate it with my dad's spirit. Other than that tune, the rest of the album is also excellent. The dueling banjos, the deft fiddle playing, the hearty mandolin picking all complement Earle's songwriting genius. Here's to Steve... ... Read more

159. Various Positions
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Average Customer Review: 4.73 out of 5 stars
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5-0 out of 5 stars TIMELESS MASTERPIECE
This 1984 album was the last of Cohen's folk masterpieces (with a touch of country) and shines in its rich variety of styles, poignant lyrics and lovely melodies. His gift for sexual and political metaphor is evident in songs like Dance Me To The End Of Love and The Night Comes On, while his familiar spiritual themes are further explored on The Law, Hallelujah and If It Be Your Will. My favorite however, is the impassioned Heart With No Companion:

"And I sing this for the captain
Whose ship has not been built
For the mother in confusion
Her cradle still unfilled
For the heart with no companion
For the soul without a king,"
lyrics which are somehow echoed on Cohen's new album Ten New Songs, in the song Land Of Plenty: "For the Christ who has not risen/From the caverns of the heart/For what's left of our religion/I lift my voice and pray/May the lights in the land of plenty/Shine on the truth some day."

Unfortunately Cohen's own rather flat delivery on Hallelujah does not do the song justice, and is vastly overshadowed by John Cale's soaring version on the tribute album I'm Your Fan. The true classics here that have stood the test of time include Dance Me ..., Coming Back To You, The Night Comes On, the lovely, country-tinged The Captain (which reminds me of The Old Revolution on Songs From A Room), and of course Heart With No Companion. Well, five or six classic songs on one album would do any artist proud, and that's what we get from Cohen here. Various Positions remains one of his timeless masterpieces.

5-0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece
This album wasn't released in the USA because of lack of interest in Cohen's work, but did very well in Europe. It's Cohen's most personal work about his longing for religious comfort and human warmth and reflects memories from his past. It took me a while to fully appreciate it because it can't be compared with his earlier stuff, but I do now agree with Cohen himself that this probably is one of his best albums. My favourite songs are "Night comes on" and "The law", but all the songs are good. "If it be you will" is an excellent prayer and to many people one of Cohen's most enchanting songs. Cohen did it again, a great album

5-0 out of 5 stars Powerful music from a talented writer
Leonard Cohen's songs are awesome to listen to. His talents as a musician and writer are apparent in any of his songs. In my opinion, there isn't a bad one in the bunch. I'm no musical expert, but I don't think there could have been an improvement on any of his songs. His music is not without religious influence, but I'm hard-pressed to determine what kind of religious message he's trying to convey.

I first heard Leonard Cohen's music on "Pump up the volume", a movie starring Christian Slater about a high-school student running a pirate radio station. In a couple of the scenes of the movie, Slater's character plays some of Leonard Cohen's songs, including "If it be your will."

His songs have also been used in popular movies like Shrek, which features "Hallelujah," sang by someone else.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wow! Lewis in pop-music!
Oh, my God, that's a great album! Here you will find essential Christianity presented popularly and in disguise of popular songs.
Can be compared with "John Weshley Harding" by Dylan and with books by Clyve Lewis.
It's a VERY good album.

5-0 out of 5 stars Dance Me To The End Of Love
In this album Leonard Cohen displays the full range of his genius.

It begins with the richly melodic 'Dance Me To The End Of Love', with it's distinct Mediterranean/Israeli style, which remind me of hot romantic summer nights, by the sea.
It also includes such magnificent works as the passionate and intense love ballad, 'Coming Back To You' and the fascinating mix of romantic and satirical 'Night Comes On', the biting satire of 'The Captain' and 'Heart With No Companion' which embodies a heartfelt and deep explanation of the terrible experience of loneliness and isolation.
The greatest track on this album however, is the majestic and spiritual 'Hallelujah':

"They say there was a sacred chord
That David played and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It went like this, the fourth, the fifth
The major and the minor lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah"

I also love Jennifer Warnes' rich, melodic, sensual voice, which particularly adds beauty to 'Dance Me to The End of Love' and 'Hallelujah'. ... Read more

160. Below the Salt
list price: $17.98
our price: $13.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B000000E75
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 5573
Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
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Like Fleetwood Mac would five years later, Steeleye Span had lost its most celebrated members, Fairport Convention alumnus Ashley Hutchings and guitarist Martin Carthy, when they reconvened in a comparatively anonymous lineup that proved to be their most successful. This 1972 album found vocalist Maddy Prior and guitarist Tim Hart (who'd worked as a duo prior to joining Steeleye) taking the reins, with violinist Peter Knight providing an instrumental foil for the then-drummerless quintet's electric and acoustic guitars. Prior's regal alto and a carefully chosen program of traditional songs (including a medieval Christmas hymn, "Gaudete," that's among the few rock songs extant boasting a Latin lyric) sustain the album's decidedly pre-industrial mood. Below the Salt stands as a British folk-rock classic. --Sam Sutherland ... Read more

Reviews (20)

2-0 out of 5 stars Might be a favorite to many, but unfortunately not me
Please be aware that this review is coming from someone who isn't particularly big on Steeleye Span. Certainly they can make some great music, but then I'm generally not a folk music enthusiast. I do like Please, to See the King and I think Fairport Convention's Liege & Lief is a masterpiece. But the problem I have with Below the Salt is I find some of the songs very cheesy. Take, for example, "John Barleycorn". I absolutely love the version that Traffic did, but the version Steeleye had done is simply unbearable to my ears. The only way you can tell this is "John Barleycorn" is the lyrics. I'm sure the way Steeleye Span did it is more true to the original, but Traffic simply did a much better version of it. There's a few other unbearable songs as well, like "Spotted Cow" and "Saucy Sailor". Below the Salt isn't a total washout. There's some great stuff here as well, like "Sheep Crook and Black Dog", "Royal Forrester", and the hit "Gaudete", but aside from that, I find the album rather overrated.

5-0 out of 5 stars A wonderful classic
This album is just one of the very finest albums of any kind I have ever heard. The songs are just utterly gorgeous, haunting, and beautiful - wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! From the irrestibly lovely "Spotted Cow" to the toe-tapping "Jigs" to the marvellous "Sheepcrook and Blackdog" - listen to the haunting lyrics. Theres the brilliant "Royal Forester" which sounds astoninshingly good for a song dating from the year 1293 - the live version (on the "Rare Collection" is even better), to the spine tingling "King Henry" and "Gaudete" and finishing with the delicious "Saucy Sailor!"

This album is something to be cherished forever, a glorious, timeless classic.

4-0 out of 5 stars One of the best Steeleye CDs
I enjoy this CD.
Has all the classic sound and songs you expect from the band.
Worth the money.

5-0 out of 5 stars Unclassifiable proto-gothic masterpiece - needs remastering
After the disappointing, over sparse "Ten Man Mop", Steeleye Span recorded perhaps their definitive statement with "Below The Salt" a year later. Taking their cues from the challenging, modernist rearrangements of traditional material that was began on their second album "Please To See The King", Steeleye developed a sound that was fiery and melodic, yet scarcely relied on the conventions of rock instrumentation in any serious manner.

Instead of a drummer, there were heavy, dark rhytmic pulse from the guitar and bass at long intervals that scarcely fitted in with the tempos of the songs. Nonetheless, they served clearly to show that Steeleye did not wish to conform with the ideal of simplicity treasured both in traditional folk and in rock.

The opener "Spotted Cow" is classic Steeleye folk and one of the most accessible songs here, whilst the band's clear nod to tradition is seen in the satirically rendered "John Barleycorn" and the instrumental medley "The Bride's Favourite"/"Tansey's Fancy". The closer "Saucy Sailor" harks back to the elemental, almost mysterious beauty of "Hark! The Village Wait" with telling effect.

However, the real uniquness of this record comes with the other tracks - the middle triad of "Sheep Crook And Black Dog", "The Royal Forester" and "King Henry" where the sparse beats and haunting, medieval fiddle melodies turn songs rendered in a modern manner right into the Middle Ages in feel. The effect really is amazing: even if little on these songs strikes one by itself, the parts blend together in such a unique manner. The Latin carol "Gaudete" has an effect even more striking because the voices are mixed so far back, yet the song jumps in and out of the background in a manner that is never seen in more contemporary music. Even the other a capella piece "Rosebud In June" is extraordinary in its ability to transport the listener to another world - another time even.

This record's influence can be heard in many sources in the modern world, both in rock and in international music (compare Margo Timmins' voice with Maddy Prior's, for instance - or see how "Bitter Sweet" and "Triptych" on Roxy Music's 1974 masterpiece "Country Life" owe a lot to "Gaudete" and "King Henry".

The only real quibble is the poor sound quality of the Shanachie CD: I have been thinking forever about how amazing a good-sounding CD would be.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of Their Two Best
With this album, Steeleye Span came to the fore of the British folk/rock movement and made serious headway with American listeners. Though it begins with the precious yet jaunty "Spotted Cow" followed by the forlorn "Rosebud In June" and then some snappy jigs, the songs become progressively complex thereafter. Tunes such as "Sheepcrook and Blackdog", "Royal Forester", the resplendent "King Henry", and a cappela "Gaudete" are haunting beyond belief. The interplay between voices, guitars, bass, and violin is unlike anything one will hear on record. The way these elements and the spirit of Olde England perfectly meld in a relatively "low-production" manner would later be replicated, with added drums and percussion, on the group's other best album Commoner's Crown. Their rendition of "John Barleycorn" breaks the serious mood just long enough to set the stage for the beautiful concluding tune "Saucy Sailor".
I have owned and listened to all the group's albums through Get In Line and must conclude that Below the Salt and Commoner's Crown are the essential albums to own while their other efforts would tend to sway toward more ancillary tastes. Try them for yourself and see. ... Read more

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