The Bee Gees Sing & Play 14 Barry Gibb Songs (Album Review)

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The Bee Gees Sing & Play 14 Barry Gibb Songs (Album Review)

While Bee Gees’ 1st would be their international debut, The Bee Gees Sing & Play 14 Barry Gibb Songs is actually their first album, recorded in Australia before the harmonising trio relocated to London.

Released in 1965, the album is largely made up of singles that had been released in the years preceding this release. The success of this album was lacklustre and the Bee Gees would only really receive the recognition they deserved, in Australia, at a later stage in their career. Nevertheless, if one was to base their likes and dislikes on album sales, they would miss out on the richness of back catalogues.

The Bee Gees’ back catalogue is full of hidden gems, especially considering many readers would only be familiar with their chart-topping, re-invented, disco-styled music. Nevertheless, these early recordings are beautiful. You’ll hear the influence and similarities to The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and The Hollies amongst others. That isn’t to say that the Bee Gees lacked originality, for their harmonious interweaving vocals were as legendary then as they would be throughout the band's career.

Out of the 14 songs, five were new recordings with the lead song, I Was A Lover, A Leader Of Men being released as a single. While the single failed to gain any traction in the charts, the song is exceptional with a sonic signature that would be replicated, albeit with more success, on future albums.

I Don't Think It's Funny is a lovely acoustic-based song with Robin Gibb on lead vocals. His gritty, yet smooth, vocal delivery is absolutely captivating.

How Love Was True is another enjoyable track that is somewhat reminiscent, in my mind, of the harmonious Lennon/McCartney years.

To Be Or Not To Be is definitely inspired by early Beatles recordings. Think Please, Please Me/With The Beatles era. It isn't a bad tune but arguably doesn't suit the Bee Gees.

Timber is short and to the point. It is certainly reminiscent of the late 50s and early 60s. Timber was recorded and released as a single in 1963 and with a runtime of less than two minutes, one can only wonder how tedious playing that 45 would have been.

Claustrophobia is a great 60s pop tune. I love it!

Could It Be I’m In Love With You has an addictive rhythm that will have you toe tapping and head bopping uncontrollably.

And The Children Laughing is a song that reminds me of The Seekers. Unfortunately, it isn't to my taste and while it’s adequate, it’s a B-side.

Wine And Women would be the first Bee Gees single to achieve chart success, no doubt due to the band, their friends, and dedicated fans buying as many copies as possible in the hope radio disc jockeys would notice them. I don't know about you, dear reader, but surely they could have come up with a better song to release as a single. Okay, so it isn't that bad, but it certainly isn't the most compelling song.

Don't Say Goodbye is another B-side. Although, the choral harmonies are very nice.

Peace Of Mind is a great song with a killer guitar solo. Sensational!

Take Hold Of That Star is too slow for the Bee Gees. That said, it is a lovely song, I just don't feel it suits them.

You Wouldn't Know is a great pop/rock tune with an incredible rhythm.

Follow The Wind is a fantastic song to conclude the album with and ensures that I’ll to listen to the album again and stay within the Bee Gees pre-disco era catalogue.

Overall, The Bee Gees Sing & Play 14 Barry Gibb Songs is a superb collection of their early recordings. While it doesn't necessarily stand out, it certainly shows just how talented these three brothers were at such a young age.

Sonically, one must remember the era these songs were recorded in. However, the 2012 remaster, from TIDAL Hi-Fi, which this review is based upon, is likely the best quality these songs will ever be presented in. It doesn't happen often, but this remaster is lovely and worthy of inclusion in any Bee Gees collection.

The album cover is also exquisite. Yes, it’s reminiscent of the era and the style of music, but it also just works. I’d love to see this re-issued on vinyl. It would be a pre-order for sure! Until then, I will have to be satisfied with the edition available in CD-quality on TIDAL Hi-Fi as a CD release is also unavailable. Nevertheless, if you would like to own a copy of The Bee Gees Sing & Play 14 Barry Gibb Songs, the album is available on the TIDAL Store (16/44.1kHz FLAC) and iTunes.

If you prefer streaming, you can also listen to The Bee Gees Sing & Play 14 Barry Gibb Songs on Spotify and Apple Music.

Click here to read other Bee Gees reviews by Subjective Sounds.

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Elton John – Victim Of Love (Album Review)

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Elton John – Victim Of Love (Album Review)

Elton John is one of those exceptionally talented artists that have the capacity to reinvent themselves when the need arises. Well, in 1979 the Disco era was arguably at its peak following dance floor successes by the Bee Gees, Chic, and the Village People to name a few. No doubt, John probably felt if he couldn’t beat them, why not join them. Yes, dear reader, Elton John made his first, and only, disco album – Victim Of Love.

I don't know about you, but as I was born in 1979, I was probably conceived to the disco's boogie rhythm which I simply adore to this day. That said, I'm likely one of the few that feel Victim Of Love is an exceptionally brilliant Elton John release, even though he would write no songs, play no instruments, only contributing to lead and backing vocals. Nevertheless, this album wasn't just thrown together on a whim. It is a complete masterpiece, from start to finish, that has stood the test of time. With its seamless tracking, we disco-lovers have an endless piece of music to put on and dance to all night long (on repeat, of course).

An unconventional cover of Chuck Berry's Johnny B. Goode commences the album. I know it doesn’t sound like it would work but it absolutely does, setting the rhythm for the entire album. John's vocal delivery is also reminiscent of Berry's original which I feel is a lovely tribute to the master musician. Lenny Pickett’s saxophone solo takes the song to a new level, I could listen to him play indefinitely. John's Johnny B. Goode is truly exceptional, blending beautifully into Warm Love In A Cold World.

Warm Love In A Cold World is incredible. While the beat is predictable, a strength for disco, it is John's vocal delivery that I particularly enjoy, especially in the way he delivers the chorus. I love the drumming in particular and saw a familiar name providing the drum beats. Renowned for his production roles on Billy Idol’s exceptional debut and Rebel Yell albums as well as the Australian masterpiece, Icehouse’s Primitive Man, Keith Forsey is legendary.

Another seamless transition and we're dancing to Born Bad. I'm not kidding when I say just how challenging it is to write this review when your body is moving uncontrollably to the beat. Another stellar song, with a killer guitar solo!

Thunder In The Night doesn't offer quite as smooth a transition, most likely due to it being the first song on the second side of the vinyl release. Regardless, it isn't a jolt to the senses either and I class Thunder In The Night as the best song on the album. If only it was released two years earlier, it would have absolutely suited Saturday Night Fever. The rhythm is off-the-charts good! I'm head banging more than I would to any Metallica or AC/DC song. Exceptional!

Spotlight is a B-side and John's vocals come across a little whiny. It doesn't ruin the album, but it isn't as strong as the other songs.

Street Boogie doesn't flow well from Spotlight, but it is such an addictive pop/disco song that you can't help but bounce around as you sing the chorus. Thankfully, the remastered CD release contains the complete lyrics, thereby making karaoke-influenced disco nights all that more interactive.

Victim Of Love was largely unsuccessful when released as a single, but it would make it to John's career perspective, Diamonds. It deserves the inclusion, as does the entire album in John's diverse catalogue. Victim Of Love is the perfect way to close this disco-era album. It makes me want to play the album again and I'm not ashamed to say that I listen to this album on repeat for hours on end. It is that good and is extremely underrated! Perhaps it is too different to John's other albums for mainstream appeal, but all I know is it is a prized possession in my music collection. I will admit it initially takes a little getting used to, but once you’ve stopped comparing it to Goodbye Yellow Brick Road et al, it is exceptional!

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This review is based on listening to the 2003 remastered CD (cat: 077 116-2). While remastering is often considered a dirty word, in music appreciation circles, this remaster is as close to vinyl as the CD format can deliver. It has an incredible soundstage and simply sounds right. You can also pump the volume to dance club levels with no distortion or degradation of sound. Sonically, it is perfect, although I'd still love to see a vinyl reissue.

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The artwork and booklet are reproduced beautifully, with an accompanying reflection written by rock music journalist John Tobler. While Tobler is a little more critical of the album than I am, if you enjoy Elton John and the disco-era, then this is a must own.

Victim Of Love is an album that energises and rejuvenates my soul, reminding me exactly why I love music. Thank you, Elton!

Victim Of Love is available on CD and iTunes.

If you prefer streaming, you can also listen to Victim Of Love on Spotify and Apple Music.

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

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Meat Loaf – Hang Cool Teddy Bear (Album Review)

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Meat Loaf – Hang Cool Teddy Bear (Album Review)

For about the last 25 years, I’ve been a Meat Loaf fan. While my opinion of his musical prowess will never change, I find myself viewing his work in the categories of with and without legendary songwriter, Jim Steinman.

You may assume that I dislike his non-Steinman collaborated works, but that couldn’t be further from the truth as I class Meat Loaf's 1995 album, Welcome To The Neighbourhood to be amongst his greatest achievements as a musician. Granted, Steinman penned two tracks on that album, but for the most part, it was Meat Loaf selecting songs from a variety of songwriters.

While Hang Cool Teddy Bear is compiled with a who’s who of the recording industry, the album feels disjointed with a number of songs that are simply mismatched to Meat Loaf's vocal style. That isn't to say the album is bad, just that it fails to live up to expectations. Nevertheless, let's take a look at the songs, the album and how this release fits into Meat Loaf's career.

Peace On Earth is a terrible song to commence the album with. It is overproduced and the sonic introduction is largely pointless while the tempo is too upbeat for Meat Loaf. On this track, along with track 2, Living On The Outside, it sounds as though Meat Loaf was inspired to merge his lyrical style with that of Lou Reed and Johnny Cash. It simply doesn't work, although I do enjoy the chorus lines throughout Peace On Earth.

Living On The Outside isn't a bad rock song and would have been much better suited as the lead track. It’s catchy, with a solid rhythm, while not being as alien to Meat Loaf's style as Peace On Earth is.

Los Angeloser has an incredible beat and rhythm. You will be toe tapping and head bopping from the first minute. Thank you, James Michael, for writing yet another incredible song.

If I Can't Have You had potential but the mix is too muddy. It could have been another I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won‘t Do That), but the dynamics are so squashed that the backing vocals and Hugh Laurie's piano elements are barely discernible throughout much of the song.

Love Is Not Real/Next Time You Stab Me In The Back has a really enjoyable drum and guitar backbeat and the Brian May and Steve Vai intermingling guitar solo is out of this world. Despite being mastered too loud, this song, in particular, sounds superb thereby proving that all distortion and a squashed dynamic range does not always result in a negative outcome. Sometimes it suits the tone and style of the song perfectly. That doesn’t mean it is applicable to all songs. It should be added selectively, not as a standard in the mastering and mixing process.

Like A Rose is a great track. Jack Black really adds some vocal attitude to the song and overall it has an incredibly addictive rhythmic beat and a gorgeous, albeit concealed guitar track. Like A Rose is one of the best songs on Hang Cool Teddy Bear and is one of my all-time favourite Meat Loaf tracks.

Song Of Madness features Steve Vai for the second time. The entire song is excellent and worthy of inclusion in Meat Loaf's catalogue. Even Meat Leaf pushes his vocals beautifully in this song with his signature smooth highs and guttural lows. Turn this song up to 11, you'll thank me later.

Did You Ever Love Somebody slows the album down a little, although I'm not keen on Meat Loaf's vocal style in this song. While the song isn't a ballad, as such, Meat Loaf's ballad tones are generally more polished than they appear here as it sounds as though he didn't have his full range available to him during the recording of the song.

California Isn't Big Enough (Hey There Girl) is a mixed bag of musicality that I enjoy, but I find it confusing at the same time. It’s a rock song, with 80s synth elements, amongst a cascade of other styles. Think Tears For Fears meets Meat Loaf. It grows on you, but I wouldn’t call it a standout.

Running Away From Me is a classic B-side, but I like it!

Let's Be In Love isn't a bad song, but it’s made significantly better thanks to Patti Russo. Again, Meat Loaf's vocal presence feels lacklustre, especially in the quiet passages. In comparison, Russo's Vocal takes the song to another level. It’s disappointing that Russo doesn’t enter the song until around the midway point of the song.

If It Rains is a great song but I think I would like to hear it get the Kid Rock treatment as it lacks a little edge and the tempo could be a few beats faster. Regardless, I thoroughly enjoy this song.

Elvis In Vegas is adequate for a closing song. That said, as the song was penned by Jon Bon Jovi, Desmond Child, and Billy Falcon, I’d love to hear Bon Jovi record the song as it definitely has their sonic cues. Regardless, and despite the hot mastering, Elvis In Vegas compels me to listen to the album again and stay within Meat Loaf's catalogue.

Overall, Hang Cool Teddy Bear is a solid release but is far from classic Meat Leaf. That said, the album does grow on you the more you listen to it.

This review has been based off listening to the CD release (cat: 273 4097) of the album.

As mentioned throughout the review, Hang Cool Teddy Bear has been recorded, mixed, and mastered far too loudly. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I want to control my volume and I see absolutely no reason for the constant redlining of music. At no time do I feel enveloped by sound as the music is clearly coming from my speakers. The result is a lack of soundstage and true stereo separation.

The artwork is, as always with a Meat Loaf release, stunning. Although, that starts and ends with the cover art. The rear of the CD terribly laid out. Yes, the producer is important, but why is his name so prominent while the song titles are presented as if they were footnotes?

The liner notes booklet is similarly plain with a font too small to be easily read. I’d like to say the vinyl release would solve this problem, but I can't begin to tell you just how many vinyl releases also get typography wrong. No wonder I tend to ignore lyrical meaning!

While it is possible the vinyl release may improve on the harsh and limited dynamic range heard on the CD, Hang Cool Teddy Bear was only released on vinyl for a limited run, resulting in it now being out-of-print and costing far more on the secondhand market than it should.

While there is no news regarding a possible vinyl reissue/remaster, Hang Cool Teddy Bear is available on CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1 kHz FLAC), and iTunes.

If you prefer streaming, you can also listen to Hang Cool Teddy Bear on Spotify and Apple Music.

Click here to read other Meat Loaf reviews by Subjective Sounds. 

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Elton John – A Single Man (Album Review)

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Elton John – A Single Man (Album Review)

It could be suggested that A Single Man is a literal interpretation as this 1978 release, John's twelfth studio album, is the first without Bernie Taupin at the collaborative songwriting helm. While the 1998 Mercury reissue, which this review is based upon, features John/Taupin compositions, John's collaboration with Gary Osborne, on the original track listing of A Single Man, shouldn't be dismissed as there are some remarkable songs to be heard.

John's longtime producer, Gus Dudgeon, was also absent with Clive Franks co-producing alongside John. While some may lament these key changes, one has to remember that an artist’s artistry isn't always limited to their renowned style or collaborative partners.

A Single Man is exceptional, despite the key changes in collaborative partners. Yes, again, I am bucking the trend and I implore you to listen to the album more than once as it truly grows on you the more you hear it. In my opinion, that is a sign of a great album.

From the first piano note, Shine On Through is easily identified as a magical Elton John song. The simple composition works incredibly well as all John really needs is a piano and/or classical element in the background. Shine On Through is so good, I'm really surprised it has never made it to one of John’s career perspective albums. Although, if being included on The Complete Thom Bell Sessions counts, although I suggest it doesn't, then I stand corrected. Of course, the latter edition is a different mix with a runtime near doubling that which appears on A Single Man. So, which version do I like best? Well, both of them. The gospel-style backing version on The Complete Thom Bell Sessions suits the song perfectly, but wouldn't have worked with the other songs on A Single Man. Regardless of which version you listen to, Shine On Through is a stellar Elton John tune.

Return To Paradise is an interesting composition. While it works, and I tend to thoroughly enjoy the introduction, the Caribbean-styled elements, while pertinent to the song, seems to distract my attention upon each listen. Yes, Return To Paradise is a B-side, but A Single Man wouldn't be the same without it.

I Don't Care picks up the pace with an addictive beat that will get you toe-tapping and head-bopping in no time. It has a little bit of everything. A little rock, a little pop, a touch of disco, and along with that signature piano, gospel-style backing vocals that work beautifully with the song, although they do sound a little distant in the mix.

Big Dipper starts off slowly, but I absolutely love the jazzy-blues New Orleans-style sound and that addictive chorus.

It Ain't Gonna Be Easy is one of John's greatest recordings. Tim Renwick's guitar work is off-the-charts, as is the entire composition. While the length of this song ensured it wouldn’t be heard on radio, fans of John and music lovers alike missed out on one of the best songs of the 70s. It would, without doubt, make my top 100 if I had such a list. John doesn't get much better than this!

Part Time Love did, however, receive radio airplay as the first single released from A Single Man. It's a great song that is reminiscent of the era, but unlike It Ain't Gonna Be Easy, I don't feel as though it has aged well and subsequently, as much as I enjoy it, it does sound dated. Part Time Love also appeared on The Very Best Of Elton John.

Georgia is a solid B-side. Nothing to write home about, but reminiscent in parts of the style applied throughout Tumbleweed Connection. I also consider this song a precursor to You Gotta Love Someone.

Shooting Star is another B-side and sounds as though it’s still in the demo phase of the recording.

Madness is pure madness and I love it!

Reverie is a short musical interlude. It is just that and nothing more. Although, it does offer a good amount of breathing space between the upbeat Madness and the more reserved Song For Guy.

Song For Guy is intriguing when you consider it’s primarily an instrumental track, yet was released as the second single from A Single Man. I don't know about you, but that continuous drum beat is the perfect backbone on which to hang all other musical elements. It’s superb and is one of John's greatest recordings.

Ego was initially released as a single, but failing chart success was omitted from both Blue Moves and A Single Man. While John has professed his love for the song, perhaps based upon the ego of the rock star that was the focus of the song, I find it mildly entertaining but feel that whistle is incredibly irritating. Nevertheless, it is a solid B-side with an appealing rhythm.

Flintstone Boy is an excellent song. Yes, it is different to John's usual style, but it works extremely well.

I Cry At Night is a beautiful song. The composition is perfect and shows why the John/Taupin collaborations are so celebrated. It’s a shame that it was absent from the core album for two decades. At least, for the last couple of decades, we've been able to enjoy this hidden gem.

Lovesick, similarly, is a fantastic song. Yes, it sounds a little dated, but it’s still worthy of inclusion on A Single Man.

Strangers is a lovely song to close the reissue on and always encourages me to listen to A Single Man again and stay within John's catalogue.

A Single Man is sadly underrated and while it may not have reached the status of his earlier recordings, such as Goodbye Yellow Brick Road or Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy, it is fantastic nonetheless and should be in every respectable music collection, especially if you’re an Elton John fan.

The remastering is superb and sounds perfect from start to finish on TIDAL Hi-Fi. Disappointingly, however, A Single Man hasn't been reissued on vinyl. The cover art just begs to be displayed on the larger canvas. Let's hope a pending re-issue is on the horizon, sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, A Single Man is available on CD and iTunes.

If you prefer streaming, A Single Man is also available on Spotify and Apple Music.

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

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19-Twenty – Self-Titled (Album Review)

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19-Twenty – Self-Titled (Album Review)

Exceptional music isn’t just the domain of mainstream artists. Independent artists, such as 19-Twenty, are often just as talented, if not superior. Thanks to music streaming, finding these exceptional acts is easier than ever before.

19-Twenty is an Australian-based band with a sound that infuses soft rock, blues, roots, and folk music. I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I find this blending to be absolutely compelling and addictive to listen to.

The Tavern is a beautiful song, with sensational vocals and overall musicality. It sets the tone of the album and shows just how talented 19-Twenty were at the commencement of their recording career. The Tavern also has an addictive rhythm and the mix, soundstage, and mastering will blow your mind. Exceptional!

Kiama Town is simply stunning!

Lorne picks up the pace in a literal fast-plucking manner. I love it!

Louis Collins distorts and electrifies 19-Twenty's sound beautifully. It reminds me a little of early Rolling Stones and certainly Keith Richards' overall style on his latest solo release, Crosseyed Heart.

45 Degrees is an incredible song. This album just keeps getting better and better.

Wasn't For The Beat, with its frantic guitar strumming isn’t generally an element of acoustic music that I enjoy. Nevertheless, the song grows on you the more you listen to it.

Bucket Of Poison goes the grungy distortion route and interestingly reminds me of Adele’s Rumour Has It. That works for me. A solid 10/10!

1920'S Blues is a B-side and feels a little offbeat when compared to the rest of the album.

16 Hours has a simply stunning vocal presentation. Acoustic-based music doesn't get much better than this!

Slow It Down has a fantastic beat and rhythm that ensures I’ll listen to the album again and stay within 19-Twenty's growing catalogue.

As far as debut albums by Independent artists go, 19-Twenty is a pleasure to listen to from start to finish and the band has proven that a big recording contract, while likely desirable, does not dictate the quality of one's music.

While I would love to own this album on vinyl, I don't believe it was ever pressed to the format. The edition on TIDAL Hi-Fi is sonically perfect, but I’ll be tracking down a copy of the CD as it is certainly worth adding to my permanent physical music library.

19-Twenty can be purchased on CD and iTunes.

If you prefer streaming, 19-Twenty is also available on Spotify and Apple Music.

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Elton John – Blue Moves (Album Review)

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Elton John – Blue Moves (Album Review)

Blue Moves is a hidden gem, that is if you give it time to grow on you. Seriously, it wouldn't be far-fetched to claim that Blue Moves is one of John's most disliked albums. However, I'm going to buck the trend and declare it one of his greatest achievements. Sure, the tonality of the album is different from his earlier albums, but from a mere sonic perspective, it’s audible gold!

Volume 1:

Your Starter For... is a short, but pleasant, musical introduction to the album. It has a fantastic rhythm and it’s just a shame the song doesn't go longer, however, I also feel it is the perfect length.

Tonight is symphonically beautiful, with gorgeous piano work. I simply can't help but turn the volume up, in order to be enveloped in the incredible soundstage. Beautifully recorded, mixed, and mastered, this is one song you really need to listen to in a darkened room, with eyes closed, to fully enjoy the complex musicality. Tonight is one of John's greatest recordings!

One Horse Town is a great song with an incredible rhythm, but you have to wait for it as the introduction slowly builds from the more delicate Tonight to the upbeat pace of One Horse Town. I really enjoy John's vocal performance here, especially with those slightly higher notes as he takes his vocal right to the edge before backing off at the last moment. Pure perfection!

Chameleon is gorgeous!

Boogie Pilgrim is a B-side. It works well in the album format, but as an individual song, it’s largely forgettable. That is if you can get the catchy tune out of your mind.

Cage The Songbird returns the album to a style I feel is closer to the overall musicality of Blue Moves. It’s a lovely vocal-driven track. Beautiful!

Crazy Water is a bit of a mixed bag. From a composition standpoint, it works really, really well. I love John's vocal delivery but the musicality sounds a little dated and campy. Nevertheless, it manages to come together and ends up being one of my favourite tracks on the album.

Shoulder Holster is a solid song and a perfect addition to the album. The brass instrumentation certainly makes the song and I dare say without it, Shoulder Holster would be rather bland.

 

Volume 2

Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word is, as I've said before, absolutely magnificent!

Out Of The Blue is a musical jolt after the sonic brilliance of Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word. It isn't that it is a bad song, just the wrong choice to come after the aforementioned song. Once you get past the musical shift, the song really comes into its own with yet another addictive rhythm.

Between Seventeen And Twenty may sound a little offbeat, but I love it!

The Wide-Eyed And Laughing is quite a different Elton John song. I can understand why some would dislike it, but I find it captivating!

Someone's Final Song is superb. I even detect a little Freddie Mercury as I listen to John's vocal style on this song.

Where's The Shoorah? is lovely and perfectly suited to the album.

If There's A God In Heaven (What's He Waiting For?) is a B-side. Not bad, but certainly nothing to write home about.

Idol is beautiful, although George Michael mastered it on his stunning live album Symphonica.

Theme From A Non-Existent TV Series is another musical interlude that works well, despite the rhythmic shift from Idol. That said, Theme From A Non-Existent TV Series leads brilliantly into the final track.

Bite Your Lip (Get Up And Dance!) gets you moving, although I can't help but think Idol would have been the perfect song to conclude the album on. Nevertheless, Bite Your Lip (Get Up And Dance!) encourages me to play Blue Moves again and stay within John's catalogue.

Blue Moves is, without a doubt, one of the most overlooked albums of all time, I implore you to give it another listen as you will be amazed by just how good this album sounds. Sure, it isn't representative of John's chart hits, but it could be argued that this album was an attempt to do something more bold from an artistic standpoint. If that was the intent, then Blue Moves ticked all the boxes.

For this review, I listened to the album on TIDAL Hi-Fi. The mastering is perfect and while I'll likely pick up the 2017 vinyl reissue, I can't imagine Blue Moves sounding better than it does via TIDAL's CD-quality stream. It is nothing short of absolute perfection!

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

If you prefer streaming, Blue Moves can also be heard on Spotify and Apple Music.

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

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John Fogerty – Deja Vu All Over Again (Album Review)

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John Fogerty – Deja Vu All Over Again (Album Review)

It can be difficult to think of John Fogerty as a solo artist, for his songwriting, singing, and overall musicality has permanently been linked to Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR). However, if you think he did his best work in CCR, you'd be mistaken as Fogerty is nothing short of a living legend. While the solo albums may not sell as well as the CCR back catalogue, Deja Vu All Over Again is impeccably recorded and mastered, showing just how good the red book CD format can sound.

With a short runtime of just over half an hour, there isn't a single B-side to be found. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I love shorter runtimes as artists tend to focus on perfection, rather than filling the available capacity of the format.

It also helps to have a stellar band, including the prolific and exceptional drummer Kenny Aronoff. Mark Knopfler also makes a sonically spectacular appearance on Nobody's Here Anymore; Dire Straits fans will be thoroughly pleased, I know I am!

Fogerty himself arranged and produced the album and as you listen, you can hear the love and devotion that he placed into the entire album. Although, that could be said for all his records dating back to Bayou County in 1969 with CCR. Let's just say the magic of John Fogerty is not often matched.

This review is based on listening to the 2004 Geffen CD release: Cat: 9863468. Deja Vu All Over Again has only ever been released on CD, but that shouldn't be seen as a negative viewpoint as I can't imagine this recording sounding any better on vinyl or high-res digital, it is really that good!

Deja Vu (All Over Again) is the perfect song to commence the album with. The musicality will envelop you as Fogerty's vocal is so clear you feel he is in the room with you. Pure perfection!

Sugar-Sugar (In My Life) has an upbeat sound that reminds me of Hanson's MMMBop. Yes, dear reader, I’m starting to think I listen to too much music. Nevertheless, I love these odd connections. They are often comical and circumstantial, but can also, at times, reveal musical influences.

She's Got Baggage is your classic rock and roll song. It's fun and if your body isn't already moving, it will be by the end of this song. Although, it is borderline campy, but manages to stay clear of being too campy.

Radar sounds like the 60s was reimagined for a modern era. I love it!

Honey Do slows the album to a country-style, but the shift is perfect and not jarring to the listener. I don't know about you, but I always find myself singing along to this spectacular rockabilly song.

Nobody's Here Anymore is sonic gold. Not only is it the best song on the album, but it is up there as one of the best songs Fogerty has ever written and recorded. Lyrically, even though written in 2004, the other dimension Fogerty sings about is still relevant to our modern society. Yes, Knopfler's beautiful guitar work is the icing on the cake!

I Will Walk With You is a beautiful song, highlighting the rhythm of the bass guitar. It works so well and perfectly suits the album.

Rhubarb Pie is a fun little song with a killer slide guitar performance throughout.

Wicked Old Witch is blues/country rock 101. However, while I love this song, I find the introduction to be a mixed bag. I would have much preferred the song to commence with the bass drum beat, rather than the Banjo. That said, I do appreciate the intent, but I feel as though the Banjo is simply too distant and concealed in the soundstage, therefore making it a less than desirable addition.

In The Garden has an incredible drum track that is beautifully mixed with all other musical elements. In The Garden is the perfect way to close the album and it compels me to listen to this short, but perfect, album again.

Deja Vu All Over Again is superb from start to finish and reminds me that despite my admiration for CCR, I do find Fogerty's solo works to be more appealing and addictive. Either way, there can never be too much CCR or John Fogerty.

Deja Vu All Over Again is available on CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1 kHz FLAC), and iTunes.

If you prefer streaming, Deja Vu All Over Again is also available on Spotify and Apple Music.

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1927 – …ish (Vinyl Review)

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1927 – …ish (Vinyl Review)

Sometimes a debut album can become a smashing success that simply can’t be replicated. Selling in excess of 400,000 copies and winning the 1988 Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Awards for best debut single (That's When I Think of You) and album, 1927 effectively became a household name in Australia overnight. While international success eluded them, that shouldn’t reflect on the wonderful musical experience that is ...ish. Ian McFarlane, in his opus The Encyclopedia Of Australian Rock And Pop, put it perfectly when he wrote ...ish is brimful of stirring, stately pop rock anthems. Yes, dear reader, it is that good!

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SIDE A

To Love Me is a great opener that is truly representative of the Australian music scene during the 80s. It is recorded, mixed, and mastered beautifully, as is the entire album.

That’s When I Think Of You has a beat, vocal presentation, and guitar solo that are off the charts. There is no pretentious playing here, it is simply beautiful! This is what good music sounds like, you literally won't be able to stop your body moving to the rhythm. So good!

If I Could is rock ballad heaven. Listen to the song once and you’ll be singing it for the rest of the day. If I Could is simply stunning!

You'll Never Know picks up the tempo, but doesn't feel out of place in the tracking of the album. By this stage, if you haven't already turned the volume up, I suggest you do so. Get that air guitar out and warm up those vocal cords, you're going to need them.

Compulsory Hero is one of the greatest songs ever recorded, by anyone, anywhere in the world. It is an unofficial Australian anthem and not only does it bring me to tears, but it makes me proud to be an Australian. It’s a sonic masterpiece!

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SIDE B

All The People is a great pop/rock tune, but it was always going to be difficult for any song to follow Compulsory Hero. Thankfully, in the minute or so it takes to flip the record, the senses have a chance to reset. Regardless, All The People is a worthy addition to the album.

Nothing In The Universe is a lovely song. While not on par with some of the earlier songs, it is certainly no B-side.

Propaganda Machine has an interesting punk/pop feel to it. I love it!

Give The Kid A Break has a sensational beat and series of guitar riffs. I hope you didn't turn that volume knob down as this song deserves to be heard at ear bleeding levels. While a B-side, no one ever said a B-side couldn't be thoroughly enjoyable.

The Mess, unfortunately, doesn't follow the quality B-side that is Give The Kid A Break. The mess is, for lack of a better term, a mess and sounds like pure filler. That, however, doesn’t deter me from flipping back to Side A and enjoying this sensational album once more.

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...ish is not only one of the greatest albums ever recorded by an Australian band, it is sonically and musically on par with all the greatest bands of the era. In fact, the production quality here is world-class and it truly shows on the 2018 vinyl re-issue. Pressed at the world-renowned Pallas plant in Germany, I’ve never heard this album sound so good…ever! The record is pressed on audiophile quality eco-grade vinyl and is so silent you’ll hear the blood rushing through your veins before you hear any unwanted surface noise. The soundstage is immersive, with incredible depth that proves just how good vinyl can sound if diligence is taken in the mastering and pressing process. Yes, the remastered edition on TIDAL Hi-Fi is excellent, but it pales in comparison to the vinyl release.

I could honestly keep talking about how exceptional this album is, but I suggest you just order a copy and experience it for yourself.

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

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

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Elton John – Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy (Album Review)

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Elton John – Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy (Album Review)

The mid-1970's was a tsunami of creativity within the music industry. Leading the charge, along with many others, was Elton John with his larger-than-life persona and signature sound. Most impressively, John would release 12 albums during this decade alone. While the quality of the output varied, I feel the shift in recording styles, during this decade has had a longer-lasting impact on the music industry than even the preceding decade. No doubt someone will disagree with my elation of the 70's, but as much as I adore The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Who with their 60's sound, Elton John, the Eagles, and Aerosmith would further evolve this raw rock sound, creating sonic signatures that were equally unique and progressive. No, dear reader, I haven't forgotten about the Disco era or the impact of Motown's soul. I merely mention all this insofar as I feel Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy defines the era. Yes, that is a bold statement, but John and Taupin really blended all genres of music to create nothing less than an incredible body of work.

While I’ve always liked Alan Aldridge’s artwork, I do find the cover art to be a little too busy. That said, I’ve never owned this album on vinyl and I have no doubt the artwork would become more immersive on the larger canvas.

For this review, I'm listening to the 24/96kHz MQA edition on TIDAL Hi-Fi. It is exquisite, with a sonic signature that just sounds right. Trust me, I know how vague that sounds, but the soundstage is well presented and no musical elements are concealed, as they are with the 16/44.1kHz CD-quality FLAC edition from the mid-90's mastering sessions. That isn’t to say the standard CD edition is inferior, but you do get a greater sense of transparency with the MQA edition. The drum track, in particular on Curtains, comes alive to such an extent that you can visualise Nigel Olsson’s intensity as well as the tension on each drum. It is simply spectacular!

Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy may be an awesome name for an album, but sadly the song is lacklustre. It isn't necessarily bad, it just fails to live up to the Elton John hype and really shouldn’t have been used as the lead song.

Tower Of Babel is a song that grows on you the more you listen to it. I do recall initially disliking it, but as the years have passed, I find it to be an exceptional song that is worthy of more fanfare than I feel it has received over the years.

Bitter Fingers takes a minute or so to get going, but once it does there is no stopping the addictive rhythm. The chorus is off-the-charts and while it is not easy to sing-a-long to, I dare you to sit still while enjoying this song. My advice, turn the volume up when this song comes on.

Tell Me When The Whistle Blows has a Marvin Gaye feel to it. See, this is why I said this album encompasses the musical styles of the decade? While it isn't a bad song, I don't feel it is well-suited to John. That said, the album wouldn’t be the same without it!

Someone Saved My Life Tonight is spectacular! In my review of The Very Best Of Elton John, I said Someone Saved My Life Tonight is a lovely ballad with a perfect balance and overall composition. I certainly stand by that aforementioned statement.

(Gotta Get A) Meal Ticket is Elton John meets The Rolling Stones. Needless to say, I love it!

Better Off Dead isn't a bad song and interestingly reminds me of The Who’s music. That's a good thing!

Writing is a little too campy for me with that continuous twang. As I listen to it, I can't help but hear the guitar sound that Mark Knopfler would adapt as the signature Dire Straits sound.

We All Fall In Love Sometimes is beautiful!

Curtains follows on perfectly from We All Fall In Love Sometimes. It is so perfect that you would be forgiven for assuming the songs are not separate, but one exceptional masterpiece. As I mentioned earlier, I simply adore the drum track on this MQA version. In fact, all musical elements are perfectly presented with an impressively wide and immersive soundstage. It doesn’t get much better than this!

Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds is a Beatles classic, but just as John outperformed The Who on Pinball Wizard, he takes the Beatles tune, surpasses the original, and makes it his own.

One Day At A Time has an interesting panning effect between the left and right channels. I can't say I like it, but it pays homage to the psychedelic era. One Day At A Time is a B-side but remains a worthy addition to the album.

Philadelphia Freedom, along with the two previous songs, were not included in the album tracking until the 1995 remastering sessions. Such a shame considering how excellent the song is. Regardless, it is here now, unless you get the vinyl re-issue of the album that stays loyal to the original track listing. While Curtains is a fantastic track to close the album on, Philadelphia Freedom most certainly encourages me to listen to the album again and stay within John's catalogue.

Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy is another exceptional Elton John album. While a couple of the songs may not live up to John's reputation, the album as a body of work is perfect and should be a must-own for every fan.

Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy is available on Vinyl, SACD, CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1 kHz FLAC), and iTunes (Mastered for iTunes).

If you prefer streaming, Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy is also available on Spotify and Apple Music.

If you're so inclined, there is also a Deluxe Edition (featuring a live performance from 1975 at Wembley Stadium) available on double CD and iTunes. The Deluxe Edition is also available for streaming on TIDAL Hi-Fi, Spotify, and Apple Music.

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

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