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August 29 2005

Review of James Marsters' Civilized Man. A very complimentary review of James's album.

There are a few typos, but I did like how they mentioned what it was they liked about each song. Probably would have felt more well rounded/balanced if they'd mentioned the weaknesses as well as the strengths though. This is in no way a knock on the reviewer, just things I personally tend to look for in reviews.

ETA: I forgot to add I enjoyed the album. In my opinion it's a much stronger effort than with GOTR. (It's $20.00 U.S. PLUS shipping so it comes out to about $25.00 I think, which is a bit pricey)

I love this album and listen to it often. Like the reviewer, I don't have anything bad to say. The songs are great and so is the sound. My only problem with it is that I had to buy it off James Marsters website and it was kind of expensive, but still worth it. I wish it could be mass-marketed so more people could enjoy it.
How much does it cost? I'm a huge JM fan but haven't given in to pay too much yet. I bought the GOTR cd for 30 and well, that's a lot of money for 12 songs.
It's $20, plus shipping. The album definately has some weaknesses, but its a respectable effort and there are songs that I really enjoy. In Toronto he said he plans to study music theory and learn the piano. He said he's been playing by ear and that he needs to really study music more in order to continue to improve. So he's aware of his limitations. I think he has potential and he certainly knows how to command the stage and work the crowd.
I've got the CD and it is very good. If you have the GOTR CD just know that it is a different style of music. Incredibly varied actually. Katie is quite popish, as is Patricia a little bit, Bad, No Promises are rocky, This Town, Smile, Long Time and Poor Robyn are ballads, Everyman is a little bit country, and For What I Need and Civilised Man are bluesy which he does extremely well.

His voice is a lot stronger than with GOTR, in fact if you've seen the concert on the Halloween DVD his voice has improved a whole lot since then even. His range is better and his voice suits the songs he's singing, which often wasn't the case previously.

There are weaknesses as I think the instrumentation is too strong on Long Time and This Town in parts, which drowns out his voice. My favourites on the album are Smile and Civilised Man not just because they are great songs, but also because there is minimal accompaniment, a piano on the first and guitar on the second.

But to fully appreciate his music you need to see him live. The CD is good, very good and more techincally perfect than a live performance. But his passion and energy comes through so much more live. He gives the music more soul live than on the CD. But the CD is a very good second place. I'd recommend it.

[ edited by lynnie on 2005-08-30 02:07 ]
So how does it really spund. Can someone compare it to any well established bands. From what I understand we are talking about very basic rock with blues vibes....right.

For some reason I can see JM sining stuff a la The Killers or Interpool...but I SERIOUSLY doubt it.
I put up some more photos from Toronto up at flickr.
Nice pics, RavenU. So it's official, James owns one shirt...
Ha Ha Ha! Oh, sorry, burst out laughing there, RS.

RavenU, your pics are glorious as always. I especially love the one where he's cracking up, and the one where he's rolling his eyes. Such a Spike thing to do. Caption these, girl! Tell us what he's saying or if he's responding to a dorky fan question or what.

Just a suggestion...but you are always so right up there with them. Us not-so-luckies with our inquiring minds want to know! ;)
I got the album a couple of months back without much preconception of what to expect, and I was pleasantly surprised.

I did a mini review of it in my blog. :)

Edit: Erm ... does that count as a self-link?

[ edited by NickSeng on 2005-08-30 06:30 ]
NickSeng (and others - this question comes up far too often): read the Rules - "Linking to your own stuff in the comments is acceptable, if relevant to the discussion."

Seriously, though. It's all in the Rules.

Hey, what can I say? I love rules. :)
Right, thanks.

Still getting used to the sites, newbie like me. :)
Newbie? 8 links? Over 100 comments? Nah, you've clocked more field time than a lot of other members combined. :)

Sorry about that - we now return you to the regularly scheduled James Marsters programming . . .
I've clocked field time :D

That's like Riley-speak.

[ edited by NickSeng on 2005-08-30 08:41 ]
I got the CD in Toronto this weekend and haven't listened to it yet but was agreeably surprised with how strong his singing and guitar work was at the concerts. He is clearly working on it. On the other hand, on Saturday night when he switched to "rock guitar" and the sound was awful, he didn't care. Not the sign of a good musician.
I heard that it was a technical hiccup that wasn't his fault and that he soldiered on as best he could. Reports said that his voice more than made up for it.
I'd have to go along with lynnie. A good musician would keep the show going and the audience comfortable rather than show impatience or anger or make the audience uncomfortable with useless apologies for something that couldn't be corrected at the time. Just a thought on that aspect of things.
Nope. The sound guy offered to work on it and James said not to bother. It bothered the sound guy so much he finally told James to correct something with his guitar and that helped. Still a good concert but I think that James knew that most of the audience was there to see him not neccessarily to listen to him.
(And sound guy is a rather glorified description.)
I'm going to have to disagree with this review.... I love James Marsters, he's totally awesome, but this album is not the greatest. His musical talents are great, and his voice is excellent, but the only songs worth my time are Civilized Man (the best!), Every Man Thinks God is On My Side, Smile, This Town, and For What I Need. All of the other songs are okay, but kind of dull. Except for Katie. I think Katie is just plain bad..I love ya, James, but what were you thinking?? Also, I think that Long Time is a beautiful song, with excellent lyrics and it would definitely be on my playlist more it some of the background music didn't sound like something for Zelda.

[ edited by Pmacca01 on 2005-08-30 19:40 ]
One of these days I'm going to write my own review. Way too many people think "For What I Need" is a good song and need to reassess their opinion. LOL! I'm a huge fan of James - absolutely love the man, but I'm not going to tell you his music is awesome. He's got some great potential and there are a few good songs on the CD, but anyone who tells you the CD is excellent either knows nothing about music or is so blinded by their devotion to James that they can't be objective.
"anyone who tells you the CD is excellent either knows nothing about music or is so blinded by their devotion to James that they can't be objective."

I believe that to be a fairly extreme view. While I agree there are those that are completely devoted to the point of blindness, you should also remember that "likes" and "dislikes" are subjective and are different for everyone (not going to go into what is considered technically correct, that's a whole different issue). Opinions are just that opinions, not fact, not right, not wrong. I personally like "For What I Need" and consider myself to know a little about music (ok, maybe a VERY little!), BUT am NOT blindly devoted. I've seen him perform live and had the misfortune to see him at possibly his worst. His performance was poor enough to make me question whether I would buy this album, but I'm glad I did. Overall, I enjoyed it. Much like any CD I buy, I like most of the songs, but think there are at least a few songs that fall on the weak side.

Maybe I shouldn't compare this album to GOTR since it's such a different beast, but I can't help myself and consider it a much better effort, more cohesive. Mad Brilliant had SUCH a mix of opinions/ideas/styles built into it, I felt like it was all over the place. This album feels more solid to me in that way, so it seems natural that I like it better overall.

I do agree he has potential as a musician and from all reports those moments do come through in his performances just as his imperfections come through. To apply this to the article this thread was about, I think the reviewer was a tad one sided (and possibly a little extra devoted as you mentioned! :) ). Much like anybody out there with an album, it has it's strengths and weaknesses of which I think the reviewer could have covered a little more fairly.

[ edited by Grace on 2005-08-31 00:13 ]
One of these days I'm going to write my own review. Way too many people think "For What I Need" is a good song and need to reassess their opinion... but anyone who tells you the CD is excellent either knows nothing about music or is so blinded by their devotion to James that they can't be objective.


I am a huge fan of music, and I know quite a bit, and I'll be the first to tell you that some of the songs on James' album aren't very good...some of them (Katie) are just plain bad. However, For What I Need is one of my favorite songs on the album. I love that song, and think it has a great blues sound to it. I also love the harmonica riffs. His voice sounds great for the song, since it's low, and sexy. It's meant to be a sexy kinda song.
My opinion would be extreme if I was being completely serious, but the "LOL" should have been an indicator that my comments were intended to be taken lightly. Also, I notice neither of you called the CD excellent. *giggle*

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