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The top five....

And here's the top of the tops... again, from fifth to first this time....

5. Bowling For Soup, A Hangover You Don't Deserve

From the serious rock, to the seriously funny rock. I hadn't heard of these guys before one song you probably all know - and I'm darn mad I haven't. No imports of their earlier stuff either... Jaret and his boys mix good musical talent with uncanny lyrical ability to both make light of issues and take them seriously at the same time.

The first song's a beauty: "Almost" - a narrative style piece, with plenty of humour, and lots of use of the title word. The song that launched the band worldwide, however, is clearly "1985" - a year I'm fond of for important reasons - my birth, for one. The film clip is amongst the great ones of all time too. I suspect the Red Hot Chili Peppers got the idea for Dani California from it - parodies of everyone from Tommy Lee to George Michael, and lines like "Who's the other guy singing in Van Halen?" and "when did Ozzie become an actor?" just sell it so well. All the other songs are great both musically and comedically.

4. Franz Ferdinand, Franz Ferdinand

Franz Ferdinand, of 70s guitar riffs and 50s haircuts fame. They aren't paid to look pretty, and I'm guessing it's a joke being played on us. Interesting fact: Their fan groups are nicknamed "The Blackhands", after the terrorist group who assassinated... Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. Why a Scottish band are named after the guy who sparked WWI with his death is beyond me. Two albums so far - their latest, "You Could Have It So Much Better", an uneven effort - brilliance interspersed by maddening mediocrity, as some of their less rock songs actually work better... like 'Fade Together', a truly hauntingly beautiful song in my eyes at least; and their debut, self titled album.

"Jacqueline" starts it up with the formula that FF use so well - melodic introduction into crazy guitar intro, and fast pace rock middle and end. "Tell Her Tonight" on the other hand is almost 50's in comparison... and not a huge hit in my eyes. The killer track is undoubtedly "Take Me Out"; it's got to be one of the five most air-guitared songs in the world, surely. If you are looking for a modern "Smoke on the Water", this is it. "Dark of the Matinee" reveals some darker undertones to their songs, which following songs seem to flow on from. Also of note are "This Fire", again using guitars to good effect, and showing some destructive tendencies :), and "Michael" with its almost comically direct lyrics.


3. Powderfinger, Vulture Street

Okay, so Powderfinger aren't quite as well known as their rivals in the top three... but this is one hell of an album. It is a real pity that Bernard Fanning, their lead singer, has decided to become a country singer... it's a waste. "Vulture Street", named after the street and train station in South Brisbane (they renamed the station to South Brisbane later :( ) is again, a great album.

After warming up with Rockin' Rocks (perhaps a veiled reference to Rockhampton, Queensland - though how anyone could rock there is beyond me...) they launch into their best five. (Baby I've Got You) On My Mind is an excellent early rock style song - very upbeat and charming. "Since You've Been Gone" and "Love Your Way" are great ballads as well, but it's perhaps the next two that are the best. "Sunsets" is without a doubt their best and most popular song - and it shows. A well-orchestrated rock feel, and lyrics that evoke Queensland at it's best. (Okay, so I'm a little parochial, but this is a great album).

"Don't Panic" is as frantic as many of the others before it are laid back, and "Stumblin'" is another great track. It sounds weird for me to say it, but I'd compare it to David Bowie at his best - and this band are nothing like David Bowie. But damn, it works. The last four songs round out a truly wonderful album. I just wonder why I took so long to buy it.

2. U2, All That You Can't Leave Behind

If you haven't heard of U2, you haven't been on Earth for a long time. Breaking out as a band during Live Aid (a performance by Bono that simultaneously made them cool, and nearly broke the band up), they would release pop-rock hits in the 80s, experimentation with dance and electronica with varying success in the 90's, and then in this decade release two monster albums: "How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb" - with the excellent "Vertigo" track; and my personal favorite... "All That You Can't Leave Behind".

It just starts off this third era of U2 with such a bang. The first song is probably their most finely crafted song ever, "Beautiful Day". From there, you get "Stuck in A Moment You Can't Get Out Of", and probably don't want to. If that's not enough early stunners in the album for you, you still have "Elevation" and "Walk On" as the next two. The rest of the album is not quite as strong as these four, but there are no stinkers in the lot - and all are finely accomplished songs.

1. Pink Floyd, Dark Side of The Moon.

Pink Floyd, by any standards, were hit and miss. During the early years, it was just too plain weird to listen to. "A Collection of Small Furry Animals... (title shortened)" and "A Momentary Lapse of Reason" just weren't brilliant. Probably because the band was off their face when they made them. However, one album stands above all others (even the also sublime "The Wall" and "Wish You Were Here").... Dark Side of the Moon.

The ultimate in album masterpieces. Great individual songs in a completely immersive album. Oh, and if that isn't enough, go watch the Pulse concert, which does the entire album in sequence - the only way it can be done. From the segues that are so dramatic you forget you aren't actually listening to a song, to modern classics like "Time" and "Money", things no one ever seems to have enough of, this is an album no home is complete without.

My top ten albums... 10 to 6....

As inspired by the fishdalf... here's my personal ten favorite single albums. Any multiple disc album, to make it here, needs a single CD worthy of it in its own right. Any 'best of's are excluded. Any genre is eligible, and not just rock - though that does dominate my list.

Without any further ado... here's the first half, brought to you in Letterman Top Ten style.

10. Bond, Classified.

Makeup? Check. String instruments? Check. Hot girls with instruments? You betcha. But that's not why this instrumental album made it. It's because it's darned brilliant from top to tail. And if you are thinking - string quartet equals boring; think again. Synthesiser, unusual string instruments, drumming and backing vocals give this a very modern sound, yet one with inextricably classical origins.

The star of the show is "Explosive" - it even reappears at the end of the album to show how powerful it is. If anything, it reminds me a little of the Eagles - instead of four guitars, you get four classical stringed instruments - played with the same frenetic intensity as any of their stuff. Speaking of the Eagles... it sucked to cut them out of the ten. The Rasmus only just got them.

Most of the others are covers of classical pieces, but not as you know them. A Samba piece becomes Carnivale; "Midnight Garden" is entrancing, and even the "Flight of The Bumblebee" gets a remake.'

9. Green Day, American Idiot

Angst? Check. Lots of makeup? Check. Awful songs? In the past, yes. This album, NO. I hated Green Day until this album - I still hate their old stuff. But this 'concept album' and that's what it is - works. It's an album, like the number one album on my list, not a collection of songs.

The standalone songs are "American Idiot" and "Wake Me Up When September Ends". There's also the truly remarkable double whammy of "Holiday" and my favorite, "Boulevard of Broken Dreams". It won Grammys for a reason. Also within there are two epic five-part-tracks... which give the album bookends to fit within. Interestingly, the title track falls outside - and it is very much a loner in the system, and yet musically fits as well.


8. Rasmus, Dead Letters

Angst? Check. Lots of black and makeup? Check. Awful songs? Nope. I bought this for "In The Shadows", I ended up with ten quality songs. Norwegian outfit - and yet it's not weird Scandanavian stuff, or ABBA. Find.

Like I mentioned, "In The Shadows" is their greatest hit, and with good reason. Clever lyrics with guitar riffs (can't... resist.... guitar patterns... ) and booming bass. "First Day of My Life" is also great, and there are absolutely no weak spots - except perhaps with a bit too much dark overall. One stark happy song might have ruined it - or made it a classic.


A note before the next entry... the CD referred to here is effectively CD1 of a 2-CD release - it is nominated in its own right, and not with the help of it's companion.

7. Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stadium Arcadium: Jupiter

I'm somewhat of a newcomer to the RHCP party. I've always liked the odd song, but never truly gotten down with the band. This album was a gift from a friend - and I'm grateful to have got it. That said, I have to choose one CD, and that's a no-brainer. Jupiter whups Mars something shocking. Take "Tell Me Baby" and "Harder to Concentrate" out of Mars, and into Jupiter for some of its more marginal tracks, and you have a 14 song weapon of mass destruction. As 28 songs, it dilutes the quality a bit. It's not bad, but they could have been more callous - and kept some of the songs for a later release.

"Dani California" starts the album off great, but it's "Snow (Hey Oh)" that really steals the early thunder. As brash as Dani is, Snow is smooth. All 6 and a half minutes of it. Other standouts are "Stadium Arcadium", "Torture Me" and "Strip My Mind". Stuff like "Hump De Bump" could have been sent to Ares.

6. Coldplay, X and Y

Much maligned upper crust band, coupled with singer you either love or hate. I fall in to the former category. It's tough breaking the three albums (Parachutes, A Rush of Blood to the Head, and X&Y) apart, but greater musical mastery in the third tips it for mine - "Clocks" being a notable exception to the rule there.

Again, this is an album (barring the final song, which is truly rubbish) where the experience is greater than the sum of the tracks. "Square One", "Speed of Sound" and "Low" are the standouts for mine - but every Coldplay fan I know has different favorites on the album. If you could throw "Yellow", "Clocks", "Don't Panic" and "The Scientist" on here, it'd be unstoppable.

World Cup Fever - or just fever...

Well, I haven't been healthy for ages. In a few hours, I get to find out what a bunch of tests tell me I have (or don't). It's been bad enough that I've had to drop a subject at a late stage (and hope I get consideration for my illness) and struggled through the others.

Okay, enough about me. World Cup's on in a few days time. If you aren't going to watch it - shame on you. Australia will be the surprise packets (cause I said so, and we have the power of the Hiddink on our side). Hiddink's due a bit of luck in semifinals, so we should make it to the final, I think. If a 10 man Australia can hold off an 11 man Holland, Brazil's not a mission impossible - and Croatia and Japan become very vulnerable.

Anyways, time to leave you all again, for an extended period in blog writing.

Overdue entry 2

I'm scaling back my Gamespot appearances. Between commitments at university, the need to be able to wake up at 5 am to get there, work, and running a proboards site as head admin (yeah, since the last time I wrote, I joined that site, became a mod, became an admin, and then became head admin..... weird) I don't have much time.

That said, you can find me patrolling the DW5XL board, the Hattrick football board (where I dominate at tipping despite not actually seeing a lot of football these days), and the PS2/PS3 boards. Or online playing TOCA Pro Race Driver 3, WPT, or MGS3:S (whenever it makes it Down Under.)

Peace out - and any ROTK fans who do happen upon this, check that website I just mentioned out. Join my force.

rotkgame.proboards3.com

Overdue entry, and that's about it.

I'm getting lazy. Don't know if it's uni, work, PS2, PC, or the remnants of a social life that stop me coming here as often.

I mean, Guild Wars is my last entry? I don't even play that game at the moment.

Give me something to write about about me and I might do it.

p.s. tomorrow is the start of the Premier League season. Woohoo! This will be the Gunner's year (I hope).

Guild Wars

Blackjack the Great here.

Seriously like this game. Wouldn't have bought but for the no-subscription idea, but it's worth the money anyway. I may have to start recruiting from GS for a guild. (I won't do that yet).

The not-so-triumphant return after many months.

You may wonder where I disappeared to at the end of last year.

Let's keep it short; my sister's computer decided it wasn't going to let this one use the internet. Hence my disappearing act.

Hopefully I'll hang around for a while, now that a router has the control over the 'net.

Random expressions of happiness (and sorrow)

I made it past 1000 posts. Apparently I'm supposed to go w00t! or something. Whatever.

Seriously guys, try looking at a few of my reviews. I try to be fair and balanced, and avoid the spin that Fox News is so famous for (joking if the Murdochs see this).

Managed to finally get a few days off of nightshift work. Just as well, cause let me tell you, doing 9-11pm, 2-5 am and 7-9 am shifts in the one night will make you very sick and depressed very quickly. I now refuse to do more than one of these a night. Even when "bleeding-heart boss" rings.

Anyway, loving the latest Pro Evo Soccer. Finally players get old and retire! About time. Just means I can't build my uber-team and get bored in the end, which is good.

10 Reviews down.

^Topic.

A mix of the great, the good and the omg they are awful games. As I said in my review, don't even play Athens 2004 or Rugby 04. Not worth your money.

Most of the others are at least fun, if not mastered perfectly.

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