13 August 2005
Here's what's new at Rambles.NET, your best source on the Internet for
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Go to http://www.rambles.net to access the new edition and much, much
more! (Our archives contain more than 8,000 reviews, interviews and
other bits of excitement.) See you there!
The Young Dubliners play to the Real World on this recording of lively
Celtic rock. "Their music is comparable to that of the Pogues or U2 --
it has a good, hard beat to it and it is meant to be played loud,"
Kaitlin Hahn explains. "If you're into rowdy, upbeat music, you will
probably enjoy it."
The depths of Scotland's traditions are plumbed in The Rough Guide to
Scottish Folk, another in a long line of global compilation discs from
the World Music Network. "This CD represents only a tiny dip in the
immense pool of Scottish music, but it definitely does do a wonderful
job showcasing the variety and unique sounds of a land where music
seems to be a vital if not essential part of life," Daniel Jolley
Rik Barron's CD The Quiet Faith of Man "is the kind of record that
uplifts the spirit and renews one's faith in simple independent
recordings," says Joy McKay. "A simple yet accomplished project, this
collection of mostly-traditional folk songs is enjoyable from start to
finish. Clocking in at just over 32 minutes for 12 songs, it never
overstays its welcome and leaves the listener wanting more."
Allen Ramsey "is a more muscular version of the 1970s
singer-songwriter, the sort of performer who chronicles mood swings and
relationship travails," Jerome Clark says, after spinning Ramsey's
self-titled CD debut. "His songs are solidly constructed, he has a good
melodic sense and he sings in an expressive yet unpretentious voice
that, even when announcing the latest heartbreak, seems never all that
far from a chuckle."
Richard Thorne is, in some ways, like Buddy Holly, Jerome insists.
"Thorne, a New York City singer-songwriter, is not Buddy Holly, of
course, but you don't have to be psychic to sense Holly's ghost all
over Amalgam," he says. "Holly might have sounded something like this
if he had migrated to the Village scene in the latter 1960s, as folk
music was transforming into folk-rock -- in other words into an
intelligent, inner-directed, generally acoustic pop."
Sonja Kristina sings Songs from the Acid Folk on this CD recapturing a
bygone age of music. "Sonja gives us a collection of songs that will
delight," Nicky Rossiter says. "There are up-tempo and slow ballads --
I must confess that I prefer the slower tracks as they allow us to
luxuriate in that voice."
Deryl Dodd provides Stronger Proof that he knows what good country
music needs. "It's fun, catchy, easily accessible and crafted with a
good bit of meaning and intention," says C. Nathan Coyle. "The title
track leads by example, providing a good whiskey-drinking song loaded
with double entendres."
Open Road is In the Life with this bluegrass CD. Paulette Isaacs says
the disc "is very similar in sound to some of the older and more
traditional groups, such as Flatt & Scruggs or Bill Monroe because of
its straight-on bluegrass style. It definitely cannot be labeled as
progressive or even modern bluegrass because of the intentional
traditional way in which the selections are played."
Little Milton "can rightly be called a musical pioneer," Gregg
Thurlbeck asserts. "Now the Blues Hall of Fame member makes his debut
on the Telarc label with the wide-ranging album Think of Me. ...
There's a breadth to the arrangements on Think of Me that keeps the
album feeling fresh from top to tail."
On a sad note: Blues great "Little" Milton Campbell, 71, passed away
Aug. 4 in Memphis, Tennessee, following a cerebral hemorrhage stemming
from a massive stroke suffered July 27. His label, Telarc
International, joins his wife, Pat Campbell, in expressing their
heartfelt thanks for the outpouring of support from well-wishers
throughout the blues community.
Brandur Jacobsen makes jazz on the Faroe Islands that, like others from
the Tutl label, is somewhat "more eclectic and varied sounding than
most American jazz," Dave Howell explains. A Wizard's Journey, he says,
"is not straight-ahead jazz; for example, it mixes in influences from
electronica and folk music. The title would make this seem like one of
those 'inspired by The Lord of the Rings' recordings, but there is too
much jazz for that."
Ta Kavourakia gets into the Greek tradition with this self-titled CD.
"I recommend this effort to all fans of Rembetika, and to any who would
like to experience the form for the first time," says Gilbert Head.
"Because it is self-produced, the digital sound is not overly
engineered, but the resultant music retains a certain freshness one
could easily associate with a Saturday night session at an (unusually
quiet) ouzo bar."
Nick Pynn supplies the unexpected on Afterplanesman. "Afterplanesman is
less an album than a tour of strange places, exotic landscapes grown
with sound and populated with voices on the edge of familiarity," says
Sarah Meador. "It's an enchanting trip, and won't use up your vacation
Dave Howell sifts through The Legend of Wild Man Fischer with the aid
of a graphic novel/music biography by Dennis P. Eichhorn and J.R.
Williams. "The authors have a genuine affection for Fischer," says Dave
Howell. "They accept him and his music without intellectual meandering.
It is unlikely that a scholarly biography will ever be produced, so
this short book may stand as the best-written work about this
remarkable individual. It is a worthy tribute."
Joseph A. Citro exposes the power of words in Cursed in New England:
Stories of Damned Yankees, a follow-up to his excellent collection of
New England ghost stories, Passing Strange. "Citro is a master of his
craft," Tom Knapp says. "I look forward to exploring New England
further with him. No one else, in my experience to date, does it
Arnold R. Brown attempts to lay to rest a famous mystery with Lizzie
Borden: The Legend, the Truth, the Final Chapter. "Brown's arguments
are really quite intriguing, and they are indeed credible -- to some
degree," Daniel Jolley decides. "His tale does fit many of the facts of
the case, yet in the end he has no real way to prove that he is
correct. This does not mean that he has not in fact cracked the case
wide open, but he has no incontrovertible proof to offer the reader to
support the theory he is convinced explains everything."
Parke Godwin continues the legend in Robin & the King. "Robin & the
King is less exciting than Sherwood in many respects, although it
breaks new ground by taking Hood far beyond the usual bounds of his
story and into the middle of events in the heart of Normandy," Tom
Knapp says. "The climax is exciting and unforgettable, a fitting
conclusion to Godwin's tale."
Robert Charles Wilson goes for a Spin in a story "that suddenly,
without preamble, cuts the Earth off from the rest of the universe."
Gregg Thurlbeck says Spin "is quite an exceptional novel. It contains
enough science to satisfy hard SF fans and, thanks to Wilson's
attention to characterization and his stylistic craftsmanship, it will
please readers looking for a more literary read. Wilson has put it all
together in one very neat and entertaining package."
Tamara Thorne sets her sights on Thunder Road, which Sarah Meador tells
us "is a busy place. There's a serial killer at work, and another may
be waiting on the curb. UFOs have been sighted, along with government
agents who may or may not be responsible for them. Livestock have gone
missing from the local shepherdess, and the town's real live cowboy is
rounding up and moving out religious fanatics intent on invading the
local theme park. It's a mad jumble of plots from westerns, thrillers
and sci-fi dystopias."
Daniel Jolley is back with more on the life and writings of Robert A.
Heinlein. "First published in 1942, Beyond This Horizon gives clear
evidence of the genius and writing power that Robert Heinlein possessed
-- but this early novel is definitely less than perfect," Dan says. "In
the process of churning it out for publication in Astounding Stories
(published under the pseudonym of Anson MacDonald), he privately
confessed to editor John W. Campbell Jr. that 'it stinks.'" Read on for
Dan's assessment -- and give Dan a hearty cheer for his 150th
Dennis O'Neil flopped when he tried to write a superhero tale focusing
on the lackluster Green Lantern in Hero's Quest, says T.E. (Bob)
O'Sullivan. "I'm not sure what O'Neil had in mind when he started this
book, but by the time it ends, you're lost -- just what happened and
why is a complete mystery."
Sarah Meador never shakes My Faith in Frankie with this favorable
review, despite some reservations about the coloring style. "Aside from
that minor visual issue, My Faith in Frankie has everything going for
it," Sarah says. "The art and story are original enough to surprise
even a jaded comics fan."
Daniel Jolley enjoys a taste of Sugar & Spice -- primarily in the guise
of Mena Suvari -- in this cheerleading flick designed primarily with
the male viewer in mind. "Mena aside, this is just a fun and
entertaining movie," Dan says. "There are some people who would call
this movie lame and silly, but who cares about those overly serious
people? All movies don't have to be dramatic passion plays that enrich
and inform our lives."
Dan taps into The Atomic Brain (a.k.a. Monstrosity). "Let's not beat
around the bush here: The Atomic Brain just isn't any good," he
confides. "From the title, you might expect to see some sort of
interesting, even intense, science-fiction thriller; what you get in
reality is a snooze fest that you're only too happy to forget once it's
Tom Knapp wrote up a review of Will Smith's I, Robot, not realizing
that William Kates had been there nearly a year before him. Still,
Tom's opinion is drastically different from William's; check out both
reviews for a comparison!
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