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Love Over Gold [Vinyl LP]
Love Over Gold [Vinyl LP]

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Stellar compositions., 3. November 2008
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Love Over Gold [Vinyl LP] (Vinyl)
Mark Knopfler obviously loves to write passacaglias -- pieces of music that start with a very basic theme, played by only one or very few instruments and, often over repeated crescendos and slow-downs, increasing in volume and instrumentation to a rousing finale, performed by either all instruments or the instrumental lead "voice;" in Knopfler's case of course his trademark Fender Strat. "Brothers in Arms" has elements of a passacaglia, and so does "Speedway to Nazareth" on his latest solo release, "Sailing to Philadelphia." His greatest achievement though, not only in this regard, has to be "Telegraph Road," the opening track of "Love Over Gold." In a little over 14 minutes, the song rises from a simple opening melody, evoking the loneliness of that man walking along a deserted track at the beginning of the song's story, to a final guitar solo which is among the most ambitious and evocative pieces of music written by anyone in recent decades, anywhere and in any musical category. In between, there are no less than two other guitar solos, each of them over a minute long; dramatic centerpieces in their own right in any song but this one. And like the song's instrumentation, its lyrics trace the story of civilization from that one man walking along a track to a modern city, with six lines of traffic (three lines moving slow), unemployment, desolation and anger; so apparent in Knopfler's coarse vocals in the final verse and echoed with even greater force in the instrumental finale.

"Telegraph Road" is followed by the sinister "Private Investigations," reminiscent of Alan Parsons's interpretation of the Poe classic "Tales of Mystery and Imagination" (listen to that steady beat underneath the instrumental part and tell me you don't hear the "Tell Tale Heart"), and as daring and elaborate in its composition as "Telegraph Road." Both pieces are made possible by the advent of Alan Clark and his skills as a pianist; and yet, here as there it is Knopfler's guitar play that takes front and center stage. Next is the wicked "Industrial Disease," followed by the album's title track, and last, "It Never Rains," Knopfler's bow to Bob Dylan, rendered in an interpretation so true to life that you inadvertently feel yourself transported back by a decade or more and expect him switch into "The Times They Are A-Changin'" any second. One may wonder why the record, given its mostly gloomy and cynical mood, was not named for one of the two equally stunning and dark first tracks. Perhaps, however, the answer lies in the title song's last verse: "It takes love over gold and mind over matter to do what you do that you must, when the things that you hold can fall and be shattered or run through your fingers like dust."

The album's cover rightly (although somewhat unnecessarily) describes "Love Over Gold" as "one of Dire Straits' most ambitiously conceived projects to date" and points out that it "reflects almost a year's worth of meticulous attention." Short of his film music (which he was not to start writing until a year later, with "Local Hero"), this album was the closest yet that Knopfler has come to classical composition; not just in the record's first two masterpieces but right down to little details like the xylophone air underneath the title track. It was a hard act to follow, even for a Mark Knopfler; and his virtually only choice was to take his music into other, and more diverse directions ("Brothers in Arms"). Listening to the remastered CD version of "Love Over Gold," you almost forget that unlike its mega-selling successor this recording was not "made for CD;" which in itself speaks volumes to the quality of the sound engineering and production and, more importantly, to the indeed "meticulous attention" given to every single instrumental and human voice of every single track on the album. In all of its 41+ minutes, and although it does not reflect as wide a range of musical styles as Knopfler's later work, "Love Over Gold" is one of the most complex pieces of recording he ever produced. It may have taken the release of "Brothers in Arms" to propel Dire Straits to worldwide fame forever. But it is impossible to listen to "Love Over Gold" and not recognize the unique talent of a man who, having found an initial foothold in the musical scene through the success of his band's first three albums, here made it clear once and for all just how much more the world had yet to expect from him.


Hotel California (Shm-CD)
Hotel California (Shm-CD)

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5.0 von 5 Sternen The album that forever changed my understanding of music., 3. November 2008
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Hotel California (Shm-CD) (Audio CD)
She'd taped a cool new song off the radio, a friend told me some 30 years ago; she'd play it for me when I'd come to her place after school.

The song was "Hotel California," and my perception of music changed then and there, once and for all. I didn't even really understand the lyrics -- I had barely begun to learn English, and apart from everything else I sure as hell didn't know what "colitas" meant. But understanding all the song's words wasn't necessary. From the first chords played by Felder and Walsh, this song was different from anything I had ever heard before. The layers of electric guitar riffs alternating with and ornamenting Don Henley's vocals, soaring in the chorus and culminating in a moving and evocative duet, touched a spot deep inside me that required no further explanation. Nor, really, did the other songs on this album which I instantaneously knew I had to have. I got the message conveyed in the raw edges of "Life in the Fast Lane," Joe Walsh's riffs throughout the song, the two guitar solos and Don Henley's sneering vocals, as well as I could hear the sense of loss in "Wasted Time," "The Last Resort" and "New Kid in Town."

This is not to say, of course, that the lyrics didn't matter to me once I was able to fully understand them. Rather, that understanding deepened my appreciation for the album; and yet another level of insight was added when I came to California for the first time in 1991. By that time I was an ardent fan, and although the Eagles didn't even exist as a band back then, their music has become an inseparable part of my memory of those months - particularly the album which bears the state's name and is so often called the quintessential California rock album (not only of the 1970s) that this description in itself is bordering on clich' now, true as it may once have been.

Since the release of their 1976 studio album, the Eagles have published several other versions of "Hotel California," and I love them all. (I even -- sometimes -- like the ska version Don Henley and his incredible tour band performed during their 2001 "Inside Job" tour.) But ultimately, it all comes back down for me to the duet of those two electric guitars which forever redefined the way I listen to music.


Sherlock Holmes - the Complete Collection [16dvd] [UK Import]
Sherlock Holmes - the Complete Collection [16dvd] [UK Import]
DVD ~ Sherlock Holmes

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5.0 von 5 Sternen London's Only "Consulting Detective.", 2. November 2008
In his foreword to Bantam's "Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels and Stories," Loren Estleman called the relationship between Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson literature's warmest, most symbiotic and most timeless: rightfully so. Not surprisingly, film history is littered with adaptations of Conan Doyle's tales and Holmes pastiches (using the protagonists but otherwise independent storylines). Yet - and I'm saying this with particular apologies to the fans of the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce canon - none of these prior incarnations can hold a candle to the ITV/Granada TV series produced between 1984 and 1994, starring Jeremy Brett as Holmes and first David Burke, then, beginning with the second ("Return of Sherlock Holmes") cycle and in near-seamless transition, Edward Hardwicke as a refreshingly sturdy, pragmatic, unbumbling Dr. Watson.

Jeremy Brett was the only actor who ever managed to perfectly portray Holmes's imperiousness, bitingly ironic sense of humor and apparently indestructible self-control without at the same time neglecting his genuine friendship towards Dr. Watson and the weaknesses hidden below a surface dominated by his overarching intellectual powers. The series takes the titles of its four cycles of shorter episodes - "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes," "The Return of Sherlock Holmes," "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes" and "The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes" - from four of the five short story collections featuring London's self-appointed only "consulting detective" (published 1892, 1905, 1894 and 1927, respectively); thus nominally omitting the 1917 collection "His Last Bow," which is, however - but for its title story - completely represented in individual episodes spread out over the other four cycles. While the grouping of instalments doesn't necessarily correspond with Conan Doyle's original story collections, and the series's premise - Holmes's and Watson's shared tenancy of rooms at 221B Baker Street - was no longer true even at the beginning of the "Adventures," this excellently produced series is a must-have for any mystery fan. This is particularly true for the first two cycles ("Adventures" and "Return") and the movie-length versions of the novels "The Hound of the Baskervilles" and "The Sign of the Four," which alone makes this set well worth the purchase; even if the movie-length dramatizations of the short stories "The Eligible Bachelor" (a/k/a "The Noble Bachelor") and "The Last Vampyre" (a/k/a "The Sussex Vampyre") are less than faithful to Conan Doyle's originals: in fact, their quality rests almost exclusively on an already ailing Jeremy Brett's shoulders (as well as in "Vampyre" on the extraordinary guest performance of Roy Marsden in the episode's title role), thus emphasizing even more the significance of Brett's achievement.

This set contains (in "volumes" or episodes grouped on discs as originally released):

THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
* A Scandal in Bohemia
* The Dancing Men (from "Return")
* The Naval Treaty (from "Memoirs")
* The Solitary Cyclist (from "Return")
* The Crooked Man (from "Memoirs")
* The Speckled Band
* The Blue Carbuncle
* The Copper Beeches
* The Greek Interpreter (from "Memoirs")
* The Norwood Builder (from "Return")
* The Resident Patient (from "Memoirs")
* The Red-Headed League
* The Final Problem (from "Memoirs")

THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
* The Empty House
* The Abbey Grange
* The Second Stain
* The Six Napoleons
* The Priory School
* Wisteria Lodge (from "Last Bow")
* The Devil's Foot (from "Last Bow")
* Silver Blaze (from "Memoirs")
* The Bruce-Partington Plans (from "Last Bow")
* The Musgrave Ritual (from "Memoirs")
* The Man With the Twisted Lip (from "Adventures")

THE CASEBOOK OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
* The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax (from "Last Bow")
* The Problem of Thor Bridge
* The Boscombe Valley Mystery (from "Adventures")
* The Illustrious Client
* Shouscombe Old Place
* The Creeping Man

THE MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
* The Three Gables (from "Casebook")
* The Dying Detective (from "Last Bow")
* The Golden Pince-Nez (from "Return")
* The Red Circle (from "Last Bow")
* The Mazarin Stone (from "Casebook")
* The Cardboard Box (from "Last Bow")

THE FEATURE FILMS
* The Sign of Four (adaptation of the 1890 novel)
* The Hound of the Baskervilles (adaptation of the 1901 novel)
* The Last Vampyre (adaptation of the short story "The Sussex Vampyre" from "Casebook")
* The Eligible Bachelor (adaptation of the short story "The Noble Bachelor" from "Adventures")
* The Master Blackmailer (adaptation of the short story "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton" from "Memoirs")

For completion's sake, this leaves only the first and last Holmes novels ("A Study In Scarlet," 1887, and "The Valley of Fear," 1915) as well as the following short stories unrepresented in this series:

From THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES:
* A Case of Identity
* The Five Orange Pips
* The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb
* The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet

From THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES:
* The Adventure of Black Peter
* The Adventure of the Three Students
* The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter

From THE CASEBOOK OF SHERLOCK HOLMES:
* The Blanched Soldier
* The Lion's Mane
* The Veiled Lodger
* The Retired Colourman

FROM THE MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES:
* The Yellow Face
* The Stock-broker's Clerk
* The "Gloria Scott"
* The Reigate Puzzle

From HIS LAST BOW:
* His Last Bow
Kommentar Kommentare (3) | Kommentar als Link | Neuester Kommentar: Mar 2, 2009 3:44 PM CET


Butch Cassidy und Sundance Kid [Limited Edition]
Butch Cassidy und Sundance Kid [Limited Edition]
DVD ~ Robert Redford

5.0 von 5 Sternen Legends., 2. November 2008
How do you ensure somebody's legacy as a hero? In the good old days, you wrote a book. Nowadays, you make a movie - and if you're lucky and it's really, really successful, you can retrospectively even make legends out of dangerous criminals. Not that that always works, of course. But with two great actors with instant chemistry (Paul Newman and Robert Redford), a script (by William Goldman) bursting with one-liners making the audience bowl over laughing every other minute, without once derailing into slapstick, a director's (George Roy Hill's) ingenious use of the occasion to turn a whole genre on its head, and some of the world's most beautiful locations, filmed by an exceptional cinematographer (Conrad Hall) ... you just may pull it off. Case in point: "Butch and Sundance."

While Butch Cassidy (Robert LeRoy Parker) was known as the Old West's Robin Hood for his charm, masterly planning, avoidance of bloodshed - he really did claim he'd never shot anyone - and his stance for settlers' rights vis-a-vis the wealthy cattle barons, Sundance (Henry Longbaugh) had the reputation of a loner; a fast draw repeatedly in and out of prison before even turning twenty-one. After several of their Wild Bunch/Hole in the Wall Gang associates had seen the short end of the stick in various encounters with the law, Butch and Sundance determined things were getting too hot in the West and, unlike the outlaws who not much earlier had stood it out until the end (Billy the Kid, the James Gang and the O.K. Corral gunfighters), decided to head for South America. With a woman named Etta Place, possibly a teacher as portrayed here or, perhaps more likely, a prostitute, they first spent several years farming in Argentina - both had done cattle work before turning to robbery, although in the form of rustling (stealing unbranded cattle) - but eventually reverted to their more profitable, preferred occupation. Most sources believe they died in a 1909 shootout with the Bolivian military in a town named San Vicente; others, however, claim either or both escaped alive, returned to the States under assumed names and died there (Sundance in Casper, WY in 1957 and Cassidy, according to his sister, in Spokane, WA, in 1937).

While their decision to leave the West instead of duking it out with the law and the mystery surrounding their deaths would already have made for a great movie, director Hill cleverly used the material for a 180-degree-turn on the Western genre. The opening credits roll next to sepia-tinged silent shots depicting a Hole in the Wall Gang train robbery, followed by the bold claim that "most of what follows is true" - which in itself couldn't be further from the truth. What does follow is a wild ride from the Outlaw Trail to Bolivia ... during which our heroes aren't getting rid of their pursuers, no Western music with guitars and harmonicas accompanies them but Burt Bacharach's multiple-award-winning, deliberately anachronistic, upbeat score (plus "Raindrops Are Falling on My Head" during the most romantic scene - raindrops???), a knife fight is settled by a kick in the groin, and a marshal trying to assemble a posse first meets with a lackluster population, neither willing to bring their own horses and guns nor clamoring to be supplied with such by him, and in short order sees his meeting usurped by a bicycle salesman. Add to that Oscar-winning cinematography, repeatedly using black-and-white lighting techniques even after the film's switch to color (e.g. in Sundance's first visit with Etta), reverse lighting to make daytime shots look like nighttime (during several scenes of the pursuit) and sepia-tinted shots for period feeling (besides the opening, also to sum up the trio's stay in New York), a Bolivian bank robbery with a crib sheet containing "specialized vocabulary" that Butch, contrary to initial claims, doesn't know in Spanish, and an immortalizing freeze-frame ending - and you have one heck of an entertaining movie, shot in some of the West's most spectacular settings and in Mexico (as Bolivia's stand-in).

"Butch and Sundance" turned Redford into a megastar - Hill lobbied hard for the then-perceived "playboy"'s casting, and his instincts proved so dead-on that Newman's entourage became worried the movie's expected primary star would be sidelined (a feeling never shared by Newman himself, though, who has been friends with Redford ever since). In a twist worthy of Goldman's Oscar-winning screenplay, fearsome loner Sundance became one of Redford's most popular roles, and his independent film festival's namesake. The movie renewed popular interest in the Outlaw Trail, which Redford himself traveled later, too (chronicled in a fascinating, alas out-of-print book). Its script is littered with memorable one-liners; from both heroes' "Who *are* those guys??" to Butch's comments on the small price to pay for beauty, on Sundance's gun-prowess ("like I've been telling you - over the hill"), on vision, bifocals and Bolivia, on Sundance's asking Etta (Katherine Ross) to accompany them, although if she'll ever "whine or make a nuisance," he'll be "dumping her flat" ("Don't sugarcoat it like that, Kid ... tell her straight!") and his downplaying the final shootout because their archenemy LaForce isn't there; Sundance's "You just keep thinking, Butch," his comments on the secret of his gambling success (prayer), on not being picky about women (followed by a litany of required attributes), on the excessive use of dynamite, and his one weakness ("I can't swim!!"); and finally Strother Martin/mine-owner Percy Garris's deadpan delivery of the Shanghai Rooster song, of "Morons ... I've got morons on my team" and his assertion not to be crazy but merely colorful. The famous freeze-frame ending has repeatedly been cited, both cinematographically (e.g. "Thelma and Louise") and in dialogue (e.g. 1998's "Negotiator"). And although initially almost uniformly panned by critics, the movie won quadruple Oscars and multiple other awards. In true Hollywood fashion, it has made two fearsome outlaws legends forever ... and in the process, also won legendary status itself.


Butch Cassidy und Sundance Kid (Cinema Premium Edition, 2 DVDs) [Special Edition]
Butch Cassidy und Sundance Kid (Cinema Premium Edition, 2 DVDs) [Special Edition]
DVD ~ Robert Redford

5.0 von 5 Sternen Legends., 2. November 2008
How do you ensure somebody's legacy as a hero? In the good old days, you wrote a book. Nowadays, you make a movie - and if you're lucky and it's really, really successful, you can retrospectively even make legends out of dangerous criminals. Not that that always works, of course. But with two great actors with instant chemistry (Paul Newman and Robert Redford), a script (by William Goldman) bursting with one-liners making the audience bowl over laughing every other minute, without once derailing into slapstick, a director's (George Roy Hill's) ingenious use of the occasion to turn a whole genre on its head, and some of the world's most beautiful locations, filmed by an exceptional cinematographer (Conrad Hall) ... you just may pull it off. Case in point: "Butch and Sundance."

While Butch Cassidy (Robert LeRoy Parker) was known as the Old West's Robin Hood for his charm, masterly planning, avoidance of bloodshed - he really did claim he'd never shot anyone - and his stance for settlers' rights vis-a-vis the wealthy cattle barons, Sundance (Henry Longbaugh) had the reputation of a loner; a fast draw repeatedly in and out of prison before even turning twenty-one. After several of their Wild Bunch/Hole in the Wall Gang associates had seen the short end of the stick in various encounters with the law, Butch and Sundance determined things were getting too hot in the West and, unlike the outlaws who not much earlier had stood it out until the end (Billy the Kid, the James Gang and the O.K. Corral gunfighters), decided to head for South America. With a woman named Etta Place, possibly a teacher as portrayed here or, perhaps more likely, a prostitute, they first spent several years farming in Argentina - both had done cattle work before turning to robbery, although in the form of rustling (stealing unbranded cattle) - but eventually reverted to their more profitable, preferred occupation. Most sources believe they died in a 1909 shootout with the Bolivian military in a town named San Vicente; others, however, claim either or both escaped alive, returned to the States under assumed names and died there (Sundance in Casper, WY in 1957 and Cassidy, according to his sister, in Spokane, WA, in 1937).

While their decision to leave the West instead of duking it out with the law and the mystery surrounding their deaths would already have made for a great movie, director Hill cleverly used the material for a 180-degree-turn on the Western genre. The opening credits roll next to sepia-tinged silent shots depicting a Hole in the Wall Gang train robbery, followed by the bold claim that "most of what follows is true" - which in itself couldn't be further from the truth. What does follow is a wild ride from the Outlaw Trail to Bolivia ... during which our heroes aren't getting rid of their pursuers, no Western music with guitars and harmonicas accompanies them but Burt Bacharach's multiple-award-winning, deliberately anachronistic, upbeat score (plus "Raindrops Are Falling on My Head" during the most romantic scene - raindrops???), a knife fight is settled by a kick in the groin, and a marshal trying to assemble a posse first meets with a lackluster population, neither willing to bring their own horses and guns nor clamoring to be supplied with such by him, and in short order sees his meeting usurped by a bicycle salesman. Add to that Oscar-winning cinematography, repeatedly using black-and-white lighting techniques even after the film's switch to color (e.g. in Sundance's first visit with Etta), reverse lighting to make daytime shots look like nighttime (during several scenes of the pursuit) and sepia-tinted shots for period feeling (besides the opening, also to sum up the trio's stay in New York), a Bolivian bank robbery with a crib sheet containing "specialized vocabulary" that Butch, contrary to initial claims, doesn't know in Spanish, and an immortalizing freeze-frame ending - and you have one heck of an entertaining movie, shot in some of the West's most spectacular settings and in Mexico (as Bolivia's stand-in).

"Butch and Sundance" turned Redford into a megastar - Hill lobbied hard for the then-perceived "playboy"'s casting, and his instincts proved so dead-on that Newman's entourage became worried the movie's expected primary star would be sidelined (a feeling never shared by Newman himself, though, who has been friends with Redford ever since). In a twist worthy of Goldman's Oscar-winning screenplay, fearsome loner Sundance became one of Redford's most popular roles, and his independent film festival's namesake. The movie renewed popular interest in the Outlaw Trail, which Redford himself traveled later, too (chronicled in a fascinating, alas out-of-print book). Its script is littered with memorable one-liners; from both heroes' "Who *are* those guys??" to Butch's comments on the small price to pay for beauty, on Sundance's gun-prowess ("like I've been telling you - over the hill"), on vision, bifocals and Bolivia, on Sundance's asking Etta (Katherine Ross) to accompany them, although if she'll ever "whine or make a nuisance," he'll be "dumping her flat" ("Don't sugarcoat it like that, Kid ... tell her straight!") and his downplaying the final shootout because their archenemy LaForce isn't there; Sundance's "You just keep thinking, Butch," his comments on the secret of his gambling success (prayer), on not being picky about women (followed by a litany of required attributes), on the excessive use of dynamite, and his one weakness ("I can't swim!!"); and finally Strother Martin/mine-owner Percy Garris's deadpan delivery of the Shanghai Rooster song, of "Morons ... I've got morons on my team" and his assertion not to be crazy but merely colorful. The famous freeze-frame ending has repeatedly been cited, both cinematographically (e.g. "Thelma and Louise") and in dialogue (e.g. 1998's "Negotiator"). And although initially almost uniformly panned by critics, the movie won quadruple Oscars and multiple other awards. In true Hollywood fashion, it has made two fearsome outlaws legends forever ... and in the process, also won legendary status itself.


Fundamental
Fundamental
Wird angeboten von samurai_media_JPN4DE
Preis: EUR 21,83

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Back to Basics., 2. November 2008
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Fundamental (Audio CD)
When Bonnie Raitt embarked on the production of her thirteenth studio album, 1998's "Fundamental," she had achieved almost everything that a musician can wish for: an exceptionally long career, the respect of her peers and the admiration of her fans, multiple Grammies, and particularly following her last three records, "Nick of Time" (1989), "Luck of the Draw" (1991) and "Longing in Their Hearts" (1994), even the widespread commercial success that her prior albums, despite all acclaim, had not brought her. But as the title track of this 1998 release makes clear, she then decided that it was time to take a step back and "get back to the Fundamental Things;" to "do the braindrain [and] leave it all behind."

And those fans who only had discovered Raitt as a result of the above-mentioned, vastly successful trio of albums were nothing less than shocked: Gone was Don Was's slick, stylish production which had driven the sound of those records. Gone, the pop/mainstream rock overtones. Back in full force was the blues; as raw and low-down as ever. Back in, the rootsy, down-to-earth feeling of Raitt's very first albums, released almost three decades earlier, now tempered by half a lifetime's worth of experience. In also the star production team of Mitchell Froom and Tchad Blake, who in the 1990s alone had successfully worked with artists like Los Lobos, Neil Finn and Randy Newman, and had helped advance the careers of such strong female singers as Cheryl Crow, Suzanne Vega, Vonda Shepard and the Indigo Girls.

True to its title, "Fundamental" is thus a barebones, stripped down recording which soon had the choir of Raitt's most recently acquired fans howl "underproduced" in utter disgust, while others reveled in rediscovering the singer who once, barely more than a teenager, had awed the music scene with her slide guitar skills, her feeling for the blues, and her energy and determination. The album's opening title track is perhaps the best expression of that feeling, with its relaxed, slightly uptempo blues rhythm, its slide guitar solos, the "live-in-the-studio" sound of its vocals, and its background horn arrangements (by Bonnie Raitt herself), subtly framing her voice without ever getting in the way. It is followed by the slow "Cure For Love," all grating blues guitars, written by Los Lobos' David Hidalgo and Louie Perez (Hidalgo also contributed his instrumental talents); succeeded in turn by veteran Chess blues men J.B. Lenoir and Willie Dixon's "Round and Round," and the first of Bonnie Raitt's five own compositions on the album, "Spit of Love;" from the first dark, edgy guitar riff to the lyrics' last line vintage Raitt, likening the destructive force of a dishonest relationship to a slowly consuming fire and to "a rage as old as Hades" (the sinister underworld of Greek mythology). And after she had covered the upbeat "Thing Called Love" on 1989's "Nick of Time," Raitt chose another John Hiatt tune as "Fundamental"'s fifth track, the melancholic "Lovers Will," describing the lengths to which lovers will go for "the thrill that only love can bring" and deploring that they will often throw themselves and their love away without even giving it another thought, only to realize what they've lost when it is too late. - Next is a trio of Raitt's own compositions, the energetic "Blue For No Reason" and "Meet Me Half Way," in turn pleading to restore a bit of spontaneity to our lives and arguing that an already stale relationship will fail entirely if both partners don't equally contribute to its revival; again, both as much classic Bonnie Raitt tunes as the then following calypso-ish "I'm on Your Side," the lyrics of which thematically resemble those of "Meet Me Half Way." The album is rounded out by the gentle country beats of Dillon O'Brian's "Fearless Love," Joey Spampinato's rocker "I Need Love," and the last track (co-)written by Raitt, the reflective "One Belief Away."

In addition to Los Lobos' David Hidalgo (guitars, bass and background vocals on "Cure For Love") and co-producer Mitch Froom (keyboards, bass on "Spit of Love" and accordion - "my mom's," Raitt reveals in the liner notes - on "Fearless Love") Bonnie Raitt could rely, as always, on a group of outstanding musicians, from Dillon O'Brian (background vocals on his own "Fearless Love") to veteran bassist "Hutch" Hutchinson without whom, for so many years now, no Bonnie Raitt record or live appearance has ever been complete. The album's warm earthy sounds are reflected in the subtle glow of the fall colors depicted in its booklet and front cover, delicately blending with Raitt's red hair. But don't let those brown, red and golden leaves deceive you, and don't be deterred by the mixed reactions "Fundamental" has received. Bonnie Raitt's career is far from over. On March 6, 2000, she was inducted into the Rock'n Roll Hall of Fame, as - in the words of Melissa Etheridge - "a woman in a man's world, breaking ground, [who] can play as well as any man and still be all-woman [and] burn up the strings with the best. Then," Etheridge continued, "there's that voice, that heartbreaking, soulful, sex-on-a-plate voice." And I think as long as Bonnie Raitt can bend the strings of a guitar, we still have much to expect from that voice. With 2002's "Silver Lining," she released her fourteenth studio album; followed by an eight-months-long tour, featuring triple visits to her native Southern California alone and interrupted barely long enough to allow her to catch her breath before going on the road again this spring. When I saw her towards the end of last year's tour in November, she still looked and sounded as great as if she was just getting into the swing of things. She may have gone back to basics with the release of "Fundamental" - but "basics" has nothing whatsoever to do with "stuck at base line" here. It's a reevaluation of her musical values; nothing more. And I am solidly in the camp of those who applaud her for doing so.


On the Night (US Import)
On the Night (US Import)

5.0 von 5 Sternen Dire Straits' last great live outing., 2. November 2008
Rezension bezieht sich auf: On the Night (US Import) (Audio CD)
There are voices, both human and instrumental, that you will always be able to pick out of a crowd of thousands. Mark Knopfler and his guitar are an example of that, and "On The Night" is one of the best albums ever released by Knopfler and friends. Recorded during their 1992 tour at two concerts in Nîmes and Amsterdam, the album shows that Dire Straits were a class act right to the end. While the band underwent multiple transformations in membership over the course of its existence, Mark Knopfler has always had the gift to surround himself with first rate musicians - this is true for the people who have joined him on his recent solo releases and the current tour, and it was likewise true with regard to Dire Straits, in whatever configuration they existed at any given time. And yet, the excellence of the people who join him on stage and in the studio only serves to enhance the brilliance of the guy whose middle name might, for all intents and purposes, be "Fender Strat," and whose laid back, understated, gruff vocals are as crucial and distinctive to the typical Dire Straits/Mark Knopfler sound as is his guitar play. Like all great musicians, he thrives on the live atmosphere, and not bound by the restraints of studio recording, he and the band delve into the songs, particularly their instrumental sections, with an energy and deep feeling for each piece that lesser musicians are far from achieving even at the height of their careers.

The record opens, as did the band's shows, with a powerful "Calling Elvis," and it is something like a live "best of Dire Straits" album (personally, I'd have wished they would also have included "Sultans of Swings" and "Telegraph Road;" which would of course have made it a "top 12" instead of the "top 10" song collection, though). Highlights include an incredibly soulful "Romeo and Juliet," one of the greatest love songs ever written in rock history, a very dark "Private Investigations," which goes from a slow, moody start to almost 5 minutes' worth of instrumental featuring a number of hard, edgy riffs, only to end on pensive notes again, and of course, "Brothers in Arms," to this day probably Dire Straits' greatest trade mark piece besides "Sultans of Swings," with a guitar solo which gives me goose bumps every time I listen to it.

"We need Dire Straits back," none other than Don Henley proclaimed during the last show of his own 2000-2001 "Inside Job" tour, "to counter all the crap that's playing on the radio now." "On the Night" more than proves his point. But as long as that's not going to happen, I'll at least take Knopfler solo, with whoever he chooses to play, and I hope he doesn't decide to stop touring any time soon.


Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs
Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs
Preis: EUR 36,47

5.0 von 5 Sternen Consummate blues, born out of the pain of unfulfilled love., 2. November 2008
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs (Audio CD)
"Have you ever loved a woman, so much you're tremblin' in pain, and all the time you know she bears another man's name - but you just love that woman so much, it's a shame and a sin ... and all the time you know she belongs to your very best friend!" If you'd never heard this album's title track, you would swear that "Have You Ever Loved A Woman" was the song that Eric Clapton wrote for Pattie Boyd Harrison; not only do the lyrics of Billy Myles' blues classic fit so perfectly, Clapton positively pours his heart out as he sings them, and his guitar screams with the pain of unrequited love. And even before get to this song, Clapton's own "Bell Bottom Blues" lays bare similar feelings and recalls his infamous heroin ultimatum to Pattie ("Either you come with me or I'll take that"): "Do you wanna see me crawl across the floor to you? Do you wanna hear me beg you to take me back?" And as the man pleads with her, so does his guitar, and you wonder what woman could possibly have resisted such an impassioned plea.

Until of course, almost at the end of the album, you hear "Layla," this record's motto more than a simple title track and, in many respects, its reason for being. Torn by personal insecurity, Clapton used the cover and seeming anonymity of yet another band, and the parable of a medieval Persian love story ("Layla and Majnun" - reportedly, "majnun," in Persian, means madman) to put into music what he couldn't put into words alone. From its opening riff to its last note the song is pure blues, Clapton audibly on the brink of the madness he sings about, and his guitar wailing, moaning and crying out all that was in his heart: "Layla ... you got me on my knees - Layla ... I'm begging darling, please - Layla ... won't you ease my worry now?" Sparks must have been flying in the studio while Eric Clapton and Duane Allman, recruited by manager Tom Dowd to add inspiration and take some of the lead guitar weight off Clapton's shoulders, drove each other to ever greater heights, simultaneously feeding off and to each other. Like most of the album, "Layla" was recorded live in the studio, and only a live recording could transmit this feverish outbreak of passion. Merely listening to the song is emotionally exhausting, and you can only imagine what must have gone on in the studio and inside Clapton during its recording. To hear the Allman Brothers' drummer Butch Trucks tell the story (in an interview for "Off the Record"), Duane Allman gave "Layla" its finishing touch when he added the five notes immediately following its signature riff. Yet, Allman is not credited as a writer (if that story is true, though, how much more than those five notes would it have taken I wonder?); only drummer Jim Gordon is, for having written the song's piano closing - which he had to be persuaded to allow to be used.

And while Eric Clapton continued to perform the song unaltered for years after its initial recording, he spontaneously decided to include it in the setlist of his MTV "Unplugged" appearance where, deprived of all its riffs, even its signature beginning toned down to a few simple notes, and Clapton's voice unexpectedly reflective, Layla assumed a different personality although not a word of the lyrics was altered. Yet, just as Eric Clapton's and Pattie Boyd's marriage was over by then, Layla was now less an object of burning desire than somebody the singer thought about - thought back to maybe, or sought a conversation with, possibly cautioning her about the consequences of her actions, or recalling his experiences with her: "What will you do when you get lonely, no one waiting by your side? You've been running, hiding much too long - you know it's just your foolish pride ..." And although Clapton has gone back to performing the song in its "plugged in" version during his more recent tours, he has confined himself to talking only about its musical values, such as commenting on the technical difficulties of playing riffs and chords that are virtually opposite to what you are singing in an interview for the "Reptile" tour's official program a few years ago.

Besides Eric Clapton and late addition Duane Allman, Derek And The Dominos consisted of the musicians "left over" by the breakup of Delaney and Bonnie, with whom Clapton had briefly found shelter after yet another supergroup of his (Blind Faith) had disintegrated way too quickly: Bobby Whitlock, Carl Radle and Jim Gordon. Like virtually all of Eric Clapton's albums, solo as well as with his various bands, this record combines material written by Clapton himself and covers of songs he liked; and of course, there is much more to it than "Layla," "Have You Ever Loved A Woman" and "Bell Bottom Blues." As always, Clapton makes his mark with every song alike, and as always, he needs and has found (or Tom Dowd found for him) a cast of outstanding musicians to work with. Segar/Bronzy's "Key to the Highway" becomes an extended blues jam session as there ever was one, and Jimmie Cox's "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" forecasts the feelings which, among other things, later compelled Clapton to establish the Crossroads foundation.

Eric Clapton has said about Derek And The Dominos in the interview for the "Reptile" tour program: "[That] was a band I really liked - and it's almost like I wasn't in that band. It's just a band that I'm a fan of. Sometimes, my own music can be like that. When it's served its purpose to being good music, I don't associate myself with it any more. It's like someone else. It's easy to do those songs then." Hearing the raging pain of "Layla"'s original recording, you wonder whether this is maybe also the only way for him to do it now ... at least "plugged in."


From the Cradle
From the Cradle
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Preis: EUR 28,13

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5.0 von 5 Sternen About retracing one's steps, one blue note at a time., 2. November 2008
Rezension bezieht sich auf: From the Cradle (Audio CD)
"All along this path I tread, my heart betrays my weary head; with nothing but my love to save, from the cradle to the grave ..." Summing up his thoughts on a recently failed relationship, Eric Clapton jotted down these words one night in early 1994, and they eventually made their way into the cover booklet of the album he released later that same year, the last line also providing the album's title. And "there's anger and love and fear on this record," Clapton told Billboard Magazine about the self-evaluation he was undergoing at the time, explaining that in recording this album, he had sought to once and for all break the - partially self-imposed - barriers and trappings of fame and fortune, girls and glamour, drugs and booze, in order to just "get out and ... say what I want to say, be what I want to be [and] love what I want to love."

What he had loved from his earliest years on, of course, was the blues; and a real blues album was thus what he had always wanted to record - ever since his days with the Yardbirds (which he left when they strayed towards more mainstream, commercial sounds) and with John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, the training ground for much of Britain's blues elite of the 1960s and 1970s. So in a major way, this album constitutes a return to Eric Clapton's roots.

At the same time, however, it is a marvelous tribute to the artists on whose influence Clapton builds to this day, and who first made the songs recorded here famous. Like any good blues album, "From the Cradle" was recorded live in the studio: with the exception of some dobro and drum overdub on "How Long Blues" and "Motherless Child" respectively, all vocals and instrumental parts are the pure, unadulterated product of the recording sessions involved. With or without extended solos, Clapton's guitar work is stellar as always, and his vocals are as raw and rough as hardly ever before. He may not actually outgrowl the great Chess and Delta Blues men - listen to his 2001 album "Riding With the King" with B.B. King or to Muddy Waters's 1977 version of "Hoochie Coochie Man" if you have any doubts - but this truly becomes apparent only in direct comparison with them, and it really says more about those other musicians than it does about Clapton himself. If it were not for the fact that many of the recordings on this album have long become classics in their own right and that Clapton's voice is not easily confused with that of any other artist in the first place, I'm almost certain that you could fool a fair number of people into believing that they were listening to an album recorded 40 years or even longer ago in Chicago or Memphis. This is the real thing, folks, no question about it; and it is performed with as much skill as soul by Eric Clapton and a tremendous group of musicians consisting of Dave Bronze (bass), Jim Keltner (drums), Andy Fairweather Low (guitar), Jerry Portnoy (harmonica), Chris Stainton (keyboards), Roddy Lorimer (trumpet) and Simon Clarke and Tim Sanders (saxophone) - many of the well-known to Clapton's live audiences the world over as well.

In selecting the songs for this album, Eric Clapton purposely chose the most intense blues songs he could think of, not even shying away from classics that he had heretofore considered "untouchable," like Muddy Waters's (or actually, Willie Dixon's) aforementioned "Hoochie Coochie Man." And in a not entirely surprising turn, they - and "Hoochie Coochie Man" in particular - soon became fixtures in his own live appearances as much as they had been fixtures in the appearances of the artists who had first made them famous, from Leroy Carr's "Blues Before Sunrise" and "How Long Blues" to Lowell Fulson's "Reconsider Baby" and "Sinner's Prayer," Eddie Boyd's "Five Long Years," James Lane's "Goin' Away Baby" and "Blues Leave Me Alone," Elmore James's "It Hurts Me Too," Freddie King's "Someday After a While," another famous Muddy Waters tune, "Standin' Round Crying," and the concluding, aptly titled "Groaning the Blues." And all colors of this blues kaleidoscope also represent shades and aspects of Eric Clapton's own life, because, as he told Billboard, all of them have had a certain meaning to him at some point or another. In that sense, the album is a very personal one - maybe not quite as much as the 1970 Derek and the Dominos recording "Layla and Other Assorted Lovesongs," one of the earliest and biggest highlights of Clapton's career, but certainly close; in expressing "the thing I've loved from day one, the most exciting and satisfying thing I've known."

Coming on the heels of 1989's "Journeyman" and 1992's hugely successful "Unplugged," which had redefined the standards by which acoustic recordings were measured and, in the process, had also given an unexpectedly new meaning to the title track of "Layla," "From the Cradle" was one of a trilogy of albums which injected new life into Clapton's career and ensured that his fans would be able to enjoy his immeasurable contributions to the world of music for - at least - another decade. In 1991, Clapton had also recorded the soundtrack for the movie "Rush," arguably yet another very personal project, and released a CD documenting his marathon 24 live appearances at Royal Albert Hall, appropriately named "24 Nights." And while any Eric Clapton album will to a certain extent be an expression of the point where he sees himself and his career at the time of the recording, it's all about the music again now, and about the joy of playing. Nothing shows this clearer than his dual 2001 releases "Reptile" and "Riding With the King." "From the Cradle" was an important stepping stone in getting to this point, and I am glad we have been allowed, yet again, to share in that experience. Thank you, Eric!


Gandhi [UK Import]
Gandhi [UK Import]

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5.0 von 5 Sternen A Great Soul's life., 2. November 2008
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Gandhi [UK Import] (DVD)
It all began simple enough - with the purchase of a first class train ticket by Mr. Mohandas Gandhi, Esq., recently arrived in South Africa, and unaware that as an Indian, he was required to travel third class and not entitled to such a ticket. Literally thrown off the train for his transgression, the young attorney, embodied to perfection by Ben Kingsley, spent a full night sitting on the platform, musing how best to respond to such discrimination. Shortly thereafter, and after consultations with established members of his community, he wrote his first treatises and organized his first demonstrations. And when participants of a protest assembly stood up and proclaimed their willingness to die in the fight against suppression, Gandhi once and for all formulated his doctrine of nonviolent protest: "They may torture my body, break my bones; even kill me. Then they will have my dead body - not my obedience."

Shot largely on four Indian locations, Richard Attenborough's nine-time Oscar-winning biography of Gandhi is a sweeping epic that takes the viewer back to Britain's colonial past, covering all major events of Gandhi's political career from its beginnings in South Africa to the March to the Sea and India's independence, and contrasting the luxurious lifestyle of the foreign rulers with the poverty of those they governed; that India which, as Gandhi soon realized, not only the British didn't understand, but whose population also could not have cared less about the activities of the Indian Congress Party, at the time little more than a group of well-to-do city dwellers mentally and socially almost as far removed from the rest of their country as the British. Twenty years in the making, the movie is clearly reverential of Gandhi's genius, and of the man whose symbolic growth was reverse parallel to his retreat into simplicity, and who for that very reason, and because of his unfaltering commitment to nonviolence on the one hand and India's independence on the other hand, accomplished what only few people would otherwise have thought possible: to convince the world's biggest colonial power to give up the crown jewel among its colonies; and to do so in a gesture of friendship and without civil war. The one aspect of Gandhi's life that falls a bit short here is the effect that his overbearing symbolic status had on his family life, which necessarily had to suffer as a result (unable to cope with his father's fame and chosen lifestyle, Gandhi's eldest son, for example, threw himself into a life of alcoholism and prostitution). But Gandhi is not depicted as a saint, and particularly during his early years, we learn about the struggle that went into the formation of the man who later earned the title "Great Soul" (Mahatma). Even anticipating that he might be killed by an assassin's bullet, Gandhi once said that he would only deserve that title if he could accept that bullet with Rama's (God's) name on his lips: fittingly, the movie begins with his assassination and comes full circle at the end, affirming that Gandhi truly was a Great Soul throughout.

Attenborough found his perfect Gandhi in Ben Kingsley, who not so much plays but truly is the Mahatma; from his appearance to the inflection of his voice, attitudes and gestures. Over the year-long struggles to finance the movie, Attenborough's first choices for the role had grown too old to convincingly play the young Gandhi in South Africa, but eventually Michael Attenborough pointed his father to Kingsley, then with the Royal Shakespeare Company, who reportedly won the role by meeting Attenborough in full Gandhi makeup at their first get-together, thus instantly convincing him that he had found his man. Yet, despite his gift for mimicry and his part-Indian heritage, Kingsley nevertheless turned to his Indian co-stars, particularly Rohini Hattangadi, who plays Gandhi's wife Kasturba, to fine-tune his portrayal; and he recalls in an interview for the movie's DVD release that the skill he found the most difficult to master was to spin and to talk at the same time. The use of the actual British newsreels covering Gandhi's visit to England adds to the movie's sense of authenticity - and emphasizes yet again Ben Kingsley's achievement in transforming himself into the Mahatma.

In fact, his awardwinning performance so overshadows every other actor in the movie that it would be easy to overlook the fine performances of his costars, all of whom contributed to the movie's unique quality - to name but a few, Sir John Gielgud, whom Kingsley praises as "a national treasure" (British viceroy Lord Irwin), Roshan Seth (Pandit Nehru), Martin Sheen (New York Times reporter Vincent Walker), Candice Bergen (People Magazine's Margaret Bourke-White), Ian Charleson (Gandhi's early friend and colaborator Reverend Andrews), Edward Fox (General Dyer, the man responsible for the massacre at Amritsar, who testified at his court-martial that his intention had been to "teach a lesson that would be heard throughout India"); and Trevor Howard as Judge Broomfield, who had to sentence Gandhi to prison for his outright admission that he was guilty of the charge of advocating sedition because of his belief "that non-cooperation with evil is a duty and British rule in India is evil," and who nevertheless rose at Gandhi's entrance into the courtroom instead of making the prisoner rise for him, and commented on the sentence he had to impose that "if ... his Majesty's government should, at some later date, see fit to reduce the term, no one will be better pleased than I."

The movie ends with Gandhi's affirmation that when he despaired, he remembered that "all through history, the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers; for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of this: Always." Such a belief may be difficult to hold on to, particularly for us who are so much more fallible than the Mahatma. Yet, this movie eloquently pleads that it is, at least, worth our very best effort.


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