Paul McCartney – Egypt Station (Album Review)

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Paul McCartney – Egypt Station (Album Review)

At this stage in his career, Paul McCartney owes the fans nothing. He’s a living legend and while every solo album hasn't been a home run, Egypt Station certainly is. I’d go as far as saying it’s the best album of 2018 and it is certainly one of McCartney's greatest releases, if not the greatest. I say this having listened to the album so many times that I’ve lost count. Seriously, I'm playing it daily and that generally doesn't happen unless it has that inexplicable special element.

Making it even more special is that exquisite cover art. Yes, dear reader, even in the age of streaming, killer artwork is essential. Without a doubt, the cover art alone demands a purchase on vinyl, especially the concertina sleeve edition. Sadly, a purchase will have to wait as I’m in the process of moving house and my beloved vinyl collection is already packed and ready to go. Being a lifelong renter, this isn’t my first move but my record collection is always the one thing that I ensure is packed before anything else. It has to be protected at all costs. I even move it myself, not trusting removalists to handle with care. Yes, I’m overprotective of my music collection, but if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you’ll likely understand why it is so important to me. I do hope, your music collection, be it physical or digital is equally important. I’d be lost without music and I owe my sanity to artists like McCartney.

Despite not being able to listen to this masterpiece on vinyl, I have been enjoying it via the 24/96kHz MQA edition and 16/44.1kHz FLAC edition, both streamed from TIDAL Hi-Fi. The MQA edition has a slightly greater soundstage and depth than the CD-quality FLAC counterpart, but both sound absolutely exquisite. Similarly, streaming the Mastered for iTunes edition from Apple Music presents the album in slightly less fidelity than the aforementioned editions, but the magic is still there and the album sounds fantastic via my main stereo setup as well as via AirPods. Let’s just say that when an album is recorded, mixed, and mastered this well, there is very little difference between versions. Although, I really, really, can’t wait to hear just how good Egypt Station sounds on vinyl.

Opening Station is an ambient sonic introduction that sets up the concept album perfectly. Admittedly, it’s a little left of the centre, but it works and flows beautifully into I Don't Know.

I Don't Know is simply stunning. The musical elements are crystal clear with a slow rhythm that is nothing short of hypnotic. There is so much depth to be explored by the aural senses and the soundstage is well-defined and broad. Exceptional!

Come On To Me shifts the pace a little with a song that is rock focused. It's a great tune, with a pleasing composition that has an eclectic feel. Although, I feel this song, in particular, has been mastered a little too hot. A reduction of a few decibels would have been perfect in my opinion. That said, I’ve no doubt Come On To Me will be a stadium-filling song.

Happy With You shifts the album again to a more acoustic-based style. Truth-be-told, the style shift isn't that noticeable, when listening non-critically, as all songs flow nicely into each other. Happy With You is thoroughly enjoyable and really highlights McCartney's vocal capabilities that are simply astonishing for a man of his years.

Who Cares is an awesome rock and roll song with a fantastic message. I wish I had a song like this during my teenage years. Nevertheless, my sensitive soul has it now. Who Cares has a killer rhythm and in places reminds me of Crowded House‘s sonic signature. I’m not exactly sure why that is, but I do enjoy the mystery behind subjective music correlations. 

Fuh You is the only song on the album that doesn’t grab my attention. It’s campy and is over-produced with a mix that makes the drums sound flat. A style, perhaps, but not one that compels me. Thankfully, Fuh You only goes for 3 min 23 seconds! Okay, perhaps I'm over exaggerating. It isn't that bad, but it isn't great either. Although, the musical interlude about two-thirds of the way through the song is thoroughly enjoyable.

Confidante is another acoustic-based song that is simply beautiful.

People Want Peace is short but meaningful. People Want Peace had the potential to be campy, but it isn't. It's an interesting composition that has classic McCartney cues throughout. As I listen, I can’t help but feel that People Want Peace would have been a killer song for The Beatles.

Hand In Hand is absolutely stunning! One of McCartney's greatest songs.

Dominoes is a complex composition, yet my mind knows just how to connect with the song, ensuring involuntary movements as one dances or head-bops and toe-taps throughout the entire song. As I listen to Dominoes, I can't help but hear Julian Lennon's vocal style that’s prominent on his album Photograph Smile. Isn’t it interesting how one song can remind you of another artist?

Back In Brazil is my daughter's favourite song off the album. She enjoys singing and dancing to the song. While I enjoy the track, I don't have the same connection with it as my daughter does, but I'm glad to see that McCartney’s music will appeal to all ages, for various subjective reasons. That said, she wasn’t a McCartney fan before hearing Egypt Station, so here’s hoping this will be the beginning of a lifelong admiration for everything McCartney. My son is already there as he loves The Beatles, but his musical tastes closely follow mine whereas my daughter is far more subjective with her likes and dislikes.

Do It Now is absolutely gorgeous. This is music at its very best. It blows me away every time, it is that good!

Caesar Rock has a really interesting introduction. It’s different, but it works really well. I guess that could be said about the entire song.

Despite Repeated Warnings is one of the longest tracks on the album, at close to 7 minutes, yet it never becomes tiresome as the song is so layered and diverse. Sensational!

Station II seems somewhat superfluous, especially at this late stage in the album, however, it sets up Hunt You Down / Naked / C- Link perfectly.

Hunt You Down / Naked / C-Link is hands down the best song on the album and one of the greatest songs McCartney has ever recorded. The cello tracking is amazing, ensuring the rhythm has the perfect backbeat to build itself on. Every time I listen to this last song, I feel compelled to listen to the album again. It’s a vicious cycle, but one that I’m glad to go through.

Egypt Station reminds me of the era when I used to collect cassettes and I would listen to them until they wore out. Listening to Egypt Station gives me that same level of satisfaction and perhaps it is a good thing that I don’t yet have the vinyl release for I would have worn that out too.

If my former self, the Mixtape Master, were in business today, he'd share this album with all his friends. It subsequently gives me great pleasure to share it with you and I truly hope you find as much pleasure with Egypt Station as I have. It’s an absolute masterpiece!

Egypt Station is available on Vinyl, CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1kHz FLAC), and iTunes (Mastered for iTunes).

If you prefer streaming, Egypt Station is also available on TIDAL (MQA or CD-Quality FLAC) and Spotify.

Click here to read other Paul McCartney reviews by Subjective Sounds.

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Elton John – The Fox (Album Review)

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Elton John – The Fox (Album Review)

Longtime readers would likely be aware of my admiration for Elton John's back catalogue, especially those albums that didn’t get the recognition they deserved. However, I also call a spade a spade and while a number of the songs featured on The Fox were from the recording sessions of the exceptional 21 At 33, sadly the sparkle of that album failed to make it to The Fox. That’s not to say that The Fox is categorically a bad album, but it is a collection of B-sides. Of course, a B-side for Elton John would be akin to a hit for many other artists, therefore, one shouldn’t be too harsh in their assessment of this album; even if the cover is uninspiring and obscure. Nevertheless, let’s listen to the music and see if there are any redeeming qualities that may appeal to listeners other than John’s diehard fans.

Breaking Down Barriers isn't a bad tune, the musicality is beautiful with an addictive beat, but it lacks the spit and polish often associated with John's recordings. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoy the mix and the depth of the soundstage.

Heart In The Right Place has a moody rhythm that I enjoy. It reminds me of some of John's earliest recordings and it's a great song with yet another excellent mix. It gets better the more you listen to it and in many ways, that’s a sign of a good song.

Just Like Belgium is a solid pop-rock tune. Nothing to write home about though. Although, as with many of the tracks on the album, the musicality and mix are excellent, making for a rather enjoyable listening experience.

Nobody Wins has a compelling beat that is stuck in the 80s, yet I love it as I lived through that era and the music expression of the time was certainly unique. Nobody Wins is one of the best songs on the album.

Fascist Faces is average at best. It just proves that despite the incredible collaboration efforts of John and Taupin, not every song they wrote together was a hit.

Carla / Etude / Fanfare / Chloe is a lovely song, or collection of songs, that is truly worthy of being a part of John's back catalogue. While much of The Fox is a missed opportunity, this recording, in particular, is a hit and deserves to be heard. Absolutely beautiful!

Heels Of The Wind is an enjoyable B-side that works well within the album format.

Elton's Song was rather controversial at the time of release. However, if the song was released today I dare say it wouldn't receive the same level of pushback and negative press. Actually, it would be interesting to see John reissue Elton's Song as a single as I feel it would be well received and finally receive the credit it deserves for not only its subject matter, but its simple, yet complex, composition. A lovely song!

The Fox follows Elton's Song nicely and is a fantastic song to close the album with ensuring I'll stay within John's catalogue, even if I don’t immediately listen to The Fox again. Although the album does grow on you the more you listen to it.

Overall, The Fox is a solid album but one can’t deny that it isn’t one of John’s greatest releases. It’s highly likely that The Fox will only ever appeal to his most dedicated fans. That said, I implore you to give it a listen as there are a couple of hidden gems to be heard and you may end up thoroughly enjoying the album.

The Fox is available on CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1kHz FLAC), and iTunes.

If you prefer streaming, The Fox is also available on TIDAL Hi-Fi and Spotify.

Click here to read other Elton John reviews by Subjective Sounds.

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Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

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Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

I recently visited the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for the third time. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, the Hall is an experience like no other for music fans.

Because my husband and I visited the Hall last year we didn’t go through every exhibit, and we still spent the entire day absorbing the displays and information presented. The best place to learn about what the Hall has to offer is their web site

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Of particular interest to us was the new exhibit, “Part of the Machine: Rock & Pinball.” Working pinball machines celebrate rock icons like KISS, Alice Cooper, The Rolling Stones, Metallica, and Elton John. We played pinball on almost a daily basis when we were in college, so playing on an old school pinball machine brought back a lot of wonderful memories.

Walk through the Hall and you’ll find John Lennon’s elementary school report card, hand written song lyrics by Bruce Springsteen and David Bowie, Michael Jackson’s sequined glove, drawings by Jimi Hendrix. You’ll learn the history of the Blues, how artists from the past have influenced today’s popular acts. Use interactive computers to discover “One Hit Wonders” and “Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.” Check out the Hall of Fame gallery and the many multimedia exhibits.

Most compelling this visit was the “Power of Rock Experience.” This amazing short movie, directed by the late acclaimed director Jonathan Demme, is a compilation of Hall of Fame induction ceremony performances. On the surface that sounds interesting, but nothing special. Quite the opposite. For music lovers, this film touches a place deep inside your soul. I was almost in tears watching this film, as were many people around me. The highlight was the extended clip from the 2004 Hall of Fame induction ceremony: Prince, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Steve Winwood, and Dhani Harrison performing George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” This performance is all the more poignant following the recent anniversary of Tom Petty’s passing. Prince’s guitar playing is nothing short of genius and mesmerizing, and, in my opinion, one of the greatest moments in Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony history.

Many people have negative feelings toward the Hall; the politics of a deserving artist not yet included, or the fact that the name is rock & roll hall of fame and other music genres are represented. Ignore all that. Appreciate it for what it is: a collection of musical memorabilia that speaks to us, makes us think, makes us happy or sad, brings back memories. Music is the soundtrack of our lives, and it’s celebrated at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

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Ed Sheeran – + (Album Review)

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Ed Sheeran – + (Album Review)

Nothing excites me more than an exceptional debut album. The debut has the capacity to make or break an artist and if done well, as in the case of Ed Sheeran's +, it becomes not only a benchmark for Sheeran's future works but a template for his contemporaries to aspire to.

The A Team was the first single from + and it’s simply superb. That guitar strum provides all the melody that is needed to back Sheeran's gorgeous vocal. The A Team, as well as the entire album, is well recorded, mixed, and mastered. Sensational!

Drunk is a great song, but what I enjoy most is hearing the rawness of Sheeran's vocal presentation. It sounds as if he’s singing directly into your ear, especially during the chorus. It's a special moment when the recording techniques and associated equipment get out of the way and allow the artist to connect directly with the listener. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it blows my mind and demands my attention, ensuring this song will be regularly placed on repeat.

U.N.I. is beautiful!

Grade 8 has a great beat, but the song is a little campy in places. Not bad, but nothing to write home about either.

Wake Me Up is an incredible composition. Simple, yet diverse. I love it!

Small Bump has a sensational rhythm. The entire song is off-the-charts and is one of the best songs on +.

This is yet another magnificent song.

The City is a B-side. Adequate, but less compelling than all previous songs. However, when listening in the album format, The City works well and the album wouldn't be the same without it.

Lego House is no B-side and one can understand why it was chosen as a single. That chorus is pure gold!

You Need Me, I Don't Need You has a great hook. Sheeran certainly has the chops to deliver fast-paced lyrics. Let’s hope he doesn't suffer from getting tongue twisted as Billy Joel has a handful of times when performing We Didn't Start The Fire.

Kiss Me is remarkably good. Such a smooth, yet layered vocal. No wonder Sheeran has had so much success. It is impossible not to be drawn into his music.

Give Me Love is a solid track to conclude the album with, but I tend to dislike hidden tracks as The Parting Class technically closes the album following 20 seconds of silence. I don't know about you, but I’d much prefer the hidden track to be listed and presented as a song on its own. I understand the appeal of hidden tracks, but as a fan of the album format, I find the extended silence between the final listed song and the hidden track to be infuriating. That said, The Parting Class is a nice addition to the album and it could be argued that it is an ideal closing to +. I’d likely agree with that sentiment if it were not for the aforementioned moments of silence and the inability to select and play The Parting Class unimpeded.

Overall, however, + is one of the greatest debut albums ever released. If you have an interest in Folk or Indie Pop music, you need to have this album in your collection. I can’t tell you the number of times I have picked up the vinyl release, only to put it back. I’ve honestly lost count. Regardless, next time I come across it, it will be an immediate purchase. It is simply that good!

+ is available on Vinyl, CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1kHz FLAC), and iTunes.

If you prefer streaming, + is also available on TIDAL Hi-Fi and Spotify.

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Elton John – 21 At 33 (Album Review)

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Elton John – 21 At 33 (Album Review)

We all know the classics, but it constantly amazes me how much exceptional music Elton John has recorded throughout his career, yet much of it has gone unnoticed, having never been played live or included on John’s various career perspective releases. 21 At 33 should be a classic, but most listeners would have only heard Little Jeannie. While Little Jeanie is exceptional in its own right, one shouldn't ignore 21 At 33 for there are numerous hidden gems to be heard on this release.

Unlike John's previous Disco-based release, Victim Of Love, 21 At 33 sees John return to his pop-rock roots. Although, if you listen closely, there are a couple of songs whereby the Disco-era rubbed off, resulting in a thoroughly enjoyable musical hybrid.

Chasing The Crown starts the album off with plenty of energy, but I don't feel Chasing The Crown is the ideal lead track. Personally, I would have made it the first song on Side B, if we were to consider 21 At 33 as a vinyl release.

Little Jeannie is a lovely ballad and would have been a better lead track for 21 At 33. Upon its release, it was a high-charting single in the United States. Although, it failed to set any records in the United Kingdom and subsequently has gone largely unplayed on John’s live setlist since the early 80s. At least it was included on his latest career perspective, Diamonds. Little Jeanie is certainly worthy of such recognition, but that could be said for so many of John’s songs.

Sartorial Eloquence was never going to be a song that fans could easily sing-a-long to, but I adore it! The chorus is superb and when I think of Elton John's style, this song certainly resonates. The vocal, piano, along with all backing elements are perfectly mixed, making for an even more captivating experience for the listener.

Two Rooms At The End Of The World is one of my all-time favourite Elton John songs. The rhythm is off-the-charts and it gets me toe-tapping and head-bopping every time. Sensational!

White Lady White Powder is a solid tune. Nothing to write home about, but if you’re an Eagles fan, as I am, you may be interested to know that Don Henley, Glenn Frey, and Timothy B. Schmit provided the backing vocals for this track. That said, the mix fails to amplify this fact and that's an incredible shame as John had three of the world's greatest vocalists backing him up, yet failed to capitalise on their collective musical talents. Perhaps more distressing is this was a Taupin/John collaboration. A missed opportunity? Definitely! Although, the album wouldn’t be the same without White Lady White Powder.

Dear God is another lovely ballad and reminds me somewhat of the sonic qualities John would later explore throughout the late 80s and 90s on songs such as Sacrifice.

Never Gonna Fall In Love Again is sensational from start to finish. It may be a B-side, but that doesn't mean it's substandard. It’s one of the best songs on the album.

Take Me Back is a country-pop song that John performs exceptionally well. It would have fit incredibly well on Tumbleweed Connection, but feels a little out-of-place on 21 At 33.

Give Me The Love is a perfect song to close the album with. The musical introduction is gorgeous and even though John sings with a slight southern (Elvis-inspired) style, it suits the song perfectly and encourages me to listen to the album again and stay within John’s catalogue.

Overall, 21 At 33 is an exceptional album that is severely underrated. Perhaps I just like backing the underdog, but John's catalogue is so full of exceptional music that it would be an impossible task to put a compilation together. Perhaps that is why so many of his career perspective releases feature the fan favourites and chart-topping hits. Regardless, you’d be well advised to further explore John’s back catalogue as the hits are only an introduction to an absolute legend with very few peers. 

While not Mastered for iTunes, the remastered edition on Apple Music is superb and 21 At 33 really comes alive, compelling me to keep an eye out for the CD or a possible vinyl reissue in the not too distant future.

21 At 33 is available on CD and iTunes.

If you prefer streaming, 21 At 33 is also available on Spotify.

Click here to read other Elton John reviews by Subjective Sounds.

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The Script – #3 (Album Review)

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The Script – #3 (Album Review)

Released in 2012, #3 is the third album from the Irish band, The Script. Most surprisingly, however, is that this album has been in my TIDAL Hi-Fi collection for years, yet I've never purchased a copy. I say surprisingly because even though The Script's style of music has a tendency to be somewhat campy, I thoroughly enjoy it. Nevertheless, I guess when you have CD-quality streaming, it isn't always necessary to have the physical counterpart.

Before we take a look at the songs, please note this review is based on the standard release of the album and while I’ve heard the Deluxe Edition, and enjoy the additional tracks, I feel they are superfluous to the album and are only truly necessary for dedicated fans and completists.

Good Ol' Days is a killer pop-rock song. It’s a sensational start to the album with a mix that is absolutely perfect. Although, I do feel this song, and the entire album, is mastered a little hot. It isn't necessarily detrimental to the enjoyment of the recording, but as I've said many times before, I know where the volume knob is.

Six Degrees Of Separation was the second single from #3 and has a beautiful introduction and vocal presentation. While it’s certainly single-ready, the composition is somewhat predictable. Despite that, I enjoy the constant reinterpretations of AC/DC’s trademark style, therefore I can tolerate and appreciate the safe approach The Script took with this song.

Hall Of Fame is the star of the album and was the obvious lead single from #3. It is inspirational, easy to sing-a-long to, and will.i.am's inclusion is essential to the song's success as a composition, in my opinion, despite him having minimal production input. Hall Of Fame should be in everyone's Inspirational Playlist.

If You Could See Me Now is a fantastic mix of pop-rock and hip-hop styling. It’s a head bopper and toe topper that is thoroughly enjoyable.

Glowing takes a while to get going. However, after the first minute, Glowing comes into its own and is one of the best songs on the album with an exceptional rhythm. Although, the loudness of the mix squashes the musicality of the song. It's still a great song, of course, but it could have been even better with an expanded dynamic range.

Give The Love Around is a B-side. Not a bad one as it certainly fits the overall style of the album, but it isn't as strong as the previous songs. There is also a little sibilance in the chorus that is rather distracting, especially when listening via headphones.

Broken Arrow has an interesting, and compelling, interweaving vocal. The mix is great, I love it!

Kaleidoscope is a stadium-filling song that reminds me, in styling, of U2.

No Words is a beautiful song that I could listen to for hours. However, there is some distortion in the harmonic elements that I find distracting. As usual, this is amplified when listening via headphones, but it is something to be aware of, especially given how much of our modern music listening is being done with headphones. I can, however, confirm that the distortion is still present on speakers, but it is less distracting.

Millionaires is a great song, with plenty of energy, to conclude the album with, ensuring I'll listen to #3 again and stay within The Script's catalogue.

Overall, #3 is an incredible album and one that should be in everyone's collection. Yes, there are some things I would have done differently, in relation to the mixing, mastering, and overall production of the album, but they are minor quibbles that would likely make the album different, not better.

#3 is available on Vinyl, CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1 kHz FLAC) and iTunes (Mastered for iTunes).

If you prefer streaming, #3 is also available on Apple Music.

A Deluxe Edition is also available on all aforementioned formats with the exception of the vinyl release which has the same tracking as the Standard Edition.

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(When The Sun Sets Over) Carlton – [Compilation Review]

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(When The Sun Sets Over) Carlton – [Compilation Review]

Few would argue about the influence of Melbourne's music scene in the 70s, for it was the mecca of the Australian Music Industry at the time. That said, I'm sure my Sydney neighbours would fervently disagree. While I’m Sydney born and bred, good music is good music and (When The Sun Sets Over) Carlton validates that point. With a runtime nearing three hours, this compilation is an extensive trip down memory lane, but will also excite those of us that missed out on experiencing this wonderfully vibrant music scene during its heyday.

SkyhooksCarlton (Lygon Street Limbo) is the perfect song to open this compilation. Not only were Skyhooks one of the most successful bands on the scene, at the time, but Carlton (Lygon Street Limbo) incorporates the energy and musicality of the 70s. A sensational song!

The SportsWho Listens To The Radio? (Original 7" Version) is one of my all-time favourite songs, having heard it repeatedly, ironically, on the radio. Yet, until listening to this compilation, I never knew who the artist was. Now I do and I have this compilation and streaming music to thank for bringing me back to one of the coolest songs from the era.

Jo Jo Zep & The FalconsSo Young is another sensational song and reminds me, in spirit, of Tom Petty. I love it!

The DotsLowdown is a little rough around the edges, but that adds to the character of the song. However, I’d argue that while Lowdown isn't a standout song, it is thoroughly enjoyable and the compilation wouldn't be the same without it.

StilettoMiddle Of The Bed is a sensational classic with a killer vocal, rhythm, and an intriguing guitar tune.

The Bleeding HeartsHit Single has a disjointed musical style that surprisingly works perfectly. Hit Single is dynamic and never dull. I don't know about you, dear reader, but it’s a hit from my perspective. It also has a slight Skyhooks influence; what's not to like?

Mighty KongHard Drugs (Are Bad For You) is another rhythmic monster. Seriously, you have to listen to this compilation, it is hit after hit. Incredible!

Mondo RockPrimal Park is a solid tune but it has a little too much pop-influence for my liking. However, there are certain elements, such as the chorus, that are spot on and thoroughly enjoyable.

Mark GillespieSuicide Sister is pure perfection!

High Rise BombersFaster Than Light is a great song. That brass section undoubtedly makes the song and I could happily listen to Faster Than Light on repeat for hours.

The ToadsEudil is addictive. Yes, even that interesting near-pop-based backing vocal grows on you; the song would be lost without it.

The Pelaco BrosMechanics In A Relaxed Manner isn't a bad blues-based tune, but I find the mix confuses my mind as the vocal presentation is too forward and slightly offbeat to the rhythm. In some respects, it is as though two songs have morphed into one.

The Relaxed MechanicsTruckin' Casanova is a campy tune, but I can't help but love it. An absolute classic and arguably a song that only an Australian band could have conjured up.

MillionairesGossip has a shifting tempo that takes a little getting used to. It isn't my favourite song from the compilation, but there was bound to be at least one of the tracks that didn't connect with me.

The KevinsOut At Night is a great song. Yes, another campy tongue-in-cheek song, but such is Australian humour.

Martin Armiger & Buzz LeesonNo Reason is a killer classic rock tune.

ParachuteThe Big Beat isn't anything to write home about, but the compilation wouldn't be the same without it.

Spare ChangeLet's Get Rich Together is one of those songs that takes repeat listens to truly enjoy. That said, once the connection is made, you'll be hypnotised by this exceptional song.

The Glory BoysThe Ballad Of Good & Evil is a fantastic song. The rhythm is amazing, but that vocal delivery is off-the-charts. So Good!

Eric Gradman Man And MachineCrime Of Passion is a solid song with an interesting vocal overlay. The sonic shift, mid-song, is also intriguing and while I'm unsure of how I really feel about Crime Of Passion, it suits the compilation perfectly.

Martin ArmigerI Love My Car is certainly reminiscent of the era, but I’d argue that it’s not quite worthy of this collection.

The Bleeding HeartsBoys (Greg Macainsh Demo Version) is a great track. It kinda makes me wonder what the non-demo version sounds like as this edition was already ready for prime-time in my opinion.

StilettoRozalyn is a killer song. The vocal delivery, in particular, is absolutely sensational, making for one of the best songs on the compilation. That said, there is a little sibilance in the vocal that can be distracting, especially when listening via headphones.

The DotsI See Red is rather rough around the edges, reminding me a little of the early Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan recordings. Overall, however, it isn't a bad song but it could have been great with a little more spit and polish.

Jo Jo Zep & The FalconsOnly The Lonely Hearted isn’t a song to write home about, but it's a solid addition to this compilation.

The SportsSuddenly is a great song that improves upon each listen. I love the vocal style and Suddenly is perfectly mixed.

Mondo RockTelephone Booth has a great rhythm that is full of energy. I dare say Telephone Booth would have been exceptional when played live.

Daddy CoolSaturday Night (GTK Live) is merely satisfactory as there are much better Daddy Cool songs that could have been selected for this compilation.

SkyhooksHey, What's The Matter? (Steve Hill Demo Version) is awesome! Although, the final master recording is even better. Regardless, it's Skyhooks, what is not to like?

Company CaineBuzzin’ With My Cousin is a little too left of the centre for me. That doesn't mean that you won't like it, but I just don’t connect with it.

Captain Matchbox Whoopee BandRoll That Reefer is different and feels out-of-place, but it’s certainly a compelling tune.

Stephen Cummings & Dave FlettThe Third Degree sounds too much like The Rolling Stones. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as the song is excellent, but I do value uniqueness.

Rock GraniteYou Got Me Where You Want Me is a toe-tapper and a head-bopper. Great tune!

Jo Jo Zep & The FalconsSomeday It's Gonna Come To You (1976 Demo Version) is far better than the demo tag would make you believe. A sensational song!

Mark GillespieComin' Back For More is thoroughly enjoyable.

AutodriftersLocked Out Of Love is not my type of song, but you may enjoy it; especially if you're a Hank Williams fan.

Fabulous NudesI'll Be A Dag For You, Baby is daggy! It isn't the greatest song and should have been omitted from the compilation.

The Pelaco BrosTruckdrivin' Guru is a solid song, but nothing to write home about and again we have a song that is somewhat influenced by The Rolling Stones. I guess imitation is really the sincerest form of flattery.

Peter Lillie & The LeisuremastersHangin' Round The House is brilliant! An Aussie Classic!

The SportsLive Work & Play (Nightmoves Live) isn't a bad song but I'm more interested in the polish that often accompanies studio recordings. That said, this is a strong live performance with plenty of energy.

High Rise BombersRadio Show is a great song and that jam session mid-song is superb.

Eric Gradman Man & MachineBright Boy has an addictive beat and is overall an exceptional song.

SkyhooksThis Is My City is a great way to close this compilation. It ensures that I'll listen again as Skyhooks can do no wrong in my opinion.

For those of you calculating the track listing, some will wonder why there are only 43 songs reviewed, rather than the 45 included on the album. Sadly, likely due to contractual permissions, Daddy Cool’s Boy You're Paranoid and The Indelible Murtceps' Blue Movies Made Me Cry are missing from streaming services. This discrepancy is yet another reason why owning the CD is a good idea as you're not limited to accessing the music you love by outside influences that are out of your control. Despite this, (When The Sun Sets Over) Carlton is an incredible compilation of Australian artists from the 70s and the reputable Melbourne music scene. While there are a couple of songs that don't connect with my soul, the compilation as a whole does. Subsequently, every song, regardless of my subjective viewpoint, is essential.

(When The Sun Sets Over) Carlton is available on CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1kHz FLAC), and iTunes. It’s important to note that the aforementioned absent songs are available if you purchase the album.

If the omission of those two songs doesn’t worry you, you can also stream (When The Sun Sets Over) Carlton on Spotify and Apple Music.

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Reverend And The Makers – @reverend_Makers (Album Review)

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Reverend And The Makers – @reverend_Makers (Album Review)

While considered to be an Independent Rock act, Reverend And The Makers are arguably closer aligned to the Electronica spectrum. Nevertheless, if you were to put @reverend_Makers on at any party, it would go down extremely well.

This review is not based on the @BonusDisk edition of the album. I find the core 30-minute runtime to be more than adequate as I don't tire of the record, wanting to listen to it over and over again. However, the @BonusDisk edition is just a little too long for my personal tastes and I do start to become distracted approximately three-quarters of the way through. However, that shouldn't deter you, dear reader, as you may subjectively enjoy the longer runtime. Regardless, I applaud the band for giving fans the option, thereby allowing the more casual listener, such as myself, the opportunity to be captivated by the music in a sample-sized portion.

Bassline opens the album boldly. Let the escapism begin! I do hope you're reading this on your smartphone as you listen to the album as you'll be on your feet and dancing around in no time. Bassline is a sensational track that is masterfully mixed and recorded. Although, that could be said about all the songs on @reverend_Makers.

Don't sit down because Out Of The Shadows continues with a rhythm worthy of any dance floor. Sensational, absolutely sensational!

Shine The Light is a great rock track that you can dance to. Yes, (Was) Not Was declared that White People Can't Dance, but this white dude is giving it his best effort. I love it!

Depth Charge is a solid, albeit, predictable tune that works well in the album format but arguably isn't a standout track.

Warts N All has a toe tapping and head bopping beat, but I'm not sold on the vocal presentation in the chorus. It isn’t bad but sounds a little repetitive and whiny. That acoustic shift, mid-song, is absolutely marvellous, however. Overall, a great song.

Yes You Do slows the album down a little, to a near-ballad pace, but I absolutely love Yes You Do and I feel it fits beautifully into the album tracking.

The Wrestler picks up the pace and is easily one of my favourite songs on the album.

1+0 isn't inherently bad, but it is a B-side. Of course, that contradicts my Instagram micro review of the album whereby I stated there is not a single B-side to be found. Well, that was almost a year ago and I don't know about you, but I like the fact that my subjectivity can shift over time, based on further reflection and comparison against other music. It would, after all, be a sad state of affairs if our music likes and dislikes remained stagnant.

Noisy Neighbour is a killer rhythmic rock song and a rather humorous one at that.

What Goes Around has a terrible beginning, but the song comes into its own after the first minute and is extremely addictive in the final minute, compelling me to listen to the album again and stay within Reverend And The Makers catalogue.

Sonically, the TIDAL Hi-Fi stream is beyond reproach, but I dare say a vinyl release would add a little something to an already extraordinary album. That said, @reverend_Makers has only been made available on CD from a physical media standpoint. Disappointing, but you never know when a re-issue will be forthcoming.

@reverend_Makers is currently available on CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1 kHz FLAC), and iTunes.

If you prefer streaming, @reverend_Makers is also available on Spotify and Apple Music.

Should you be interested in the @BonusDisk edition, simply look for the slightly varied album name: @Reverend_Makers.

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(Was) Not Was – (The Woodwork) Squeaks [Compilation Review]

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(Was) Not Was – (The Woodwork) Squeaks [Compilation Review]

Every now and then I'll browse the library of albums that I’ve saved to my TIDAL Hi-Fi collection. Amongst the thousands saved, I'll inevitably come across a few that make me wonder just how they got there. (The Woodwork) Squeaks by (Was) Not Was certainly falls into that category and upon the first listen, I'm still unsure as to why I saved it. However, upon subsequent listens, the compilation has grown on me, so much so that it leaves me feeling compelled to listen to the compilation again and again.

From my perspective, it is interesting that I saved a collection of remixes and B-sides, as (The Woodwork) Squeaks was the first (Was) Not Was album I ever listened to. Generally, I prefer the core studio releases as a starting point. Nevertheless, I'm thoroughly enjoying this compilation and I invite you to put on your boogie shoes for this review as I have a feeling you're going to need them.

Tell Me That I'm Dreaming (Traditional 12" Remix) has a compelling boogie groove that almost instantly gets you into the music, if only the first few seconds were more compelling. You'll notice throughout this review that I won't contrast a remix with the original song. This is done purposely as I’ve not heard the original recordings. In some ways, that can be a good thing as my subjective opinion isn't clouded. Regardless, Tell Me That I'm Dreaming (Traditional 12" Remix) is a great song to commence this compilation with.

Out Come The Freaks (Predominantly Funk Version) is a great, albeit it lengthy, funk-based song. Remixes do have the tendency to drag on but at no time do I feel this remix needs to be shortened. In fact, it's so good that I could listen to it on repeat for hours at a time.

Wheel Me Out (Classic 12" Version) has a sonically rough introduction that doesn't flow on well from Out Come The Freaks (Predominantly Funk Version). That said, there are some elements in this song that I enjoy, but I have to acknowledge, for the most part, that I find this track to be tedious.

(Return To The Valley Of) Out Come The Freaks (Extended Version) is a great song with a sensational tempo. I love it!

Hello Operator (Classic 12" Version) has a glorious horn section that is so pure it sounds as though you were in the studio while the song was being recorded. Hello Operator (Classic 12" Version), besides starting out slow, is a hell of a good song and I adore that lyrical delivery.

Dance Or Die (From Sweet Pea Atkinson Album) is a killer song. You won't be able to stay still while this track is playing, so you have my permission to take a break from reading this review. Get up and boogie, I’m sure you'll thoroughly enjoy the experience.

Tell Me That I’m Dreaming (Souped Up Version) / Out Come The Freaks (Dub Version) is a great track that reminds me of Grace Jones and her style on the Nightclubbing album. That said, the transition between Tell Me I’m Dreaming (Souped Up Version) and Out Come The Freaks (Dub Version) isn't entirely seamless and the songs could very well have remained separate. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoy this track.

Out Come The Freaks (Classic 12" Version) is a great addition to this compilation, but it arguably isn't the greatest version of Out Come The Freaks.

(Stuck Inside Of Detroit With) Out Come The Freaks (Again) has an incredible rhythm that you can really connect with.

As someone with two left feet, White People Can't Dance is certainly the song for me. Although, when no-one is watching, I have "the moves". I love this song and it compels me to listen to the album again and explore the entire (Was) Not Was catalogue.

Sonically, the stream from TIDAL Hi-Fi is beautiful, with every musical element positioned perfectly. It’s really all anyone would need. While (The Woodwork) Squeaks hasn’t been re-issued on any physical media, recently, I feel content with this album being part of my digital streaming collection as it is, subjectively, not quite to the standard where I feel willing to outlay additional cash to pick up a copy. That isn’t a negative reflection on the compilation, just an acknowledgement that I don’t have an endless supply of cash and one has to carefully choose albums, especially considering the often inflated prices of re-issued vinyl. This is, yet, another benefit of music streaming as it allows for exploration and enjoyment without commitment.

(The Woodwork) Squeaks can be purchased on the TIDAL Store (16/44.1kHz FLAC), and iTunes.

If you prefer streaming, (The Woodwork) Squeaks is also available on Spotify and Apple Music.

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HammerFall – (r)Evolution – [Album Review]

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HammerFall – (r)Evolution – [Album Review]

The Swedish are master musicians, but this is no ABBA. Nevertheless, this ABBA-loving metal head truly enjoys crossing the streams and HammerFall's exceptional (r)Evolution helps to achieve that goal.

HammerFall is pure power metal and while it’s possible to make linkages between them and Iron Maiden, I'd argue that HammerFall is more rhythmic in their musicality, resulting in an incredibly addictive sound with exceptionally clear lyrics.

Released in 2014, (r)Evolution is HammerFall’s 9th studio album, having formed in 1993. Amazingly, it has only been due to my adoption of music streaming services, in the last couple of years, that allowed me to explore (r)Evolution and HammerFall’s back catalogue. For all the negatives of streaming, specifically relating to artists getting paid, I’d argue that without streaming I’d never know of HammerFall as they arguably aren't as mainstream as other bands in the genre. That, however, is never an indication of quality.

On the topic of payments to artists, from streaming services, John Darko raises an interesting thought on his Darko.Audio podcast (Ep. 9) whereby he suggests that it’s time artists renegotiated their record contracts with streaming in mind, as it is their legacy contracts that are limiting them financially. There’s certainly logic to Darko's proposed thoughts but change doesn’t happen overnight.

That all said, and before I go completely off topic, let's check out (r)Evolution.

Hector's Hymn is a fantastic song to start the album on. Its tempo is perfect and that semi-acoustic intro is pure gold. Hector's Hymn sets the tone for the entire album and I suggest you turn that volume knob to the right, you'll thank me later, assuming, of course, you're not listening via headphones. Seriously, I also like immersive music, but taking care of our hearing is essential to our longtime appreciation of music.

(r)Evolution is incredible! Cans’ vocal delivery is off the charts. Metal doesn't get much better than this. This is stadium metal 101 and I'm in rhythmic heaven. You better get your air guitar out, you're gonna need it!

Bushido is chest-pumping power metal. I love it!

Live Life Loud shifts quickly following the intro, but that rhythm is out-of-this-world. Without a doubt, Live Life Loud would have to be a perfect song for performing live. It has room for audience interaction as well as sections where the band can jam beautifully, thereby creating a unique experience each time the song is performed.

Ex Inferis is my favourite song on the album. It’s a mix of Dio and Maiden, with a HammerFall twist. Sensational!

We Won't Back Down is a duet with co-producer James Michael. As a fan of Michael’s production work, along with his own band Sixx: A.M., this song is especially pleasing and works incredibly well. It was a smart move by HammerFall to record this duet as Michael's has an exceptional and complementary vocal presence. Pure perfection!

Winter Is Coming slows the album a little, but it's a beautiful song. That guitar solo would melt butter.

Origins is the song that casual listeners would most confuse with Iron Maiden. That isn't a suggestion that HammerFall has merely copied Maiden's style, but they certainly appear to pay homage to them in this anthem-based song.

Tainted Metal is a solid tune, but not necessarily one to write home about. Nevertheless, it works perfectly in the album format.

Evil Incarnate, much like Tainted Metal, is a solid B-side. That said, the vocal repetition as the song closes is incredible.

Wildfire has an interesting backing vocal style. I'm not sure I like it, but it is compellingly addictive. That said, Wildfire is thoroughly enjoyable, even if a little erratic with shifts in style.

The Way Of The Warrior is the final track on this edition of the album and it compels me to listen to the album again and stay within HammerFall’s catalogue. It’s a killer final track.

Overall, there isn't a bad song to be heard on (r)Evolution. It’s exceptional from start to finish and I'd go as far as saying it’s HamerFall's greatest album. Now all I have to do is order the vinyl release. Yes, the artwork demands a larger canvas but this is one album that is worthy of adding to a physical collection. The TIDAL Hi-Fi stream is flawless, but when you love a band and an album this much, you really need to support them as they sadly get peanuts from streaming.

(r)Evolution is available on Vinyl, CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1kHz FLAC) and iTunes.

If you prefer streaming, (r)Evolution is also available on Spotify and Apple Music.

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