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Album Reviews
Dream Theater - Astonishing ****
As musicians, prog metallers Dream Theater have never done anything by half, and so here they are again doing the double. Album that is: a two-hour, two-act, 34-track concept record.
While The Astonishing makes Iron Maiden's recent 92-minute The Book of Souls look like a Ramones record, it's great fun, refreshingly bonkers and filled with the risk-taking that's missing in so much music today.
It'll probably take until January 1 to make sense of half of it. You decide the year. Harry Guerin
Hank Williams Jr - It's About Time
It’s hard to resist the Southern swagger and charm of Hank Williams Jr, but he could have made a better album, with more care to the lyrics. Now 66, young Hank has enjoyed ten number one singles in his long career and his 21 albums have all attained at least gold status, so a nit-picky review is hardly gonna bother him. But he does tend to sing in one register most of the time. It's a kind of self-deprecating, insouciant snarl. And his lyrics are a bit rushed looking. Other than that, excellent band and you can't deny he's having fun. PK
Taste Live at the Isle of Wight
Few, if any of the 600,000 folks gathered on the Isle of Wight on that summer day in 1970 would have known Taste had already decided to split when Murray Lerner captured the band as they headed for the exit in a remarkably powerful performance. So, sit back and be wowed by those stirring opening chords to What’s Going On, which kicks off the Isle of Wight performance, now captured on this newly-released DVD. Sugar Mama, Morning Sun, Gambling Blues, Sinnerboy, Same Old Story and Catfish Blues - all cracking performances, alongside contributions from Brian May and Bob Geldof in the documentary element of what is a very fine, 163-minute film. P K
Larry Young in Paris
Organist Larry Young recorded with Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana, performed with Jack Bruce, and featured on Miles Davis’s seminal Bitches Brew album. These sparkling sessions, the ORTF Recordings, are drawn from his fruitful mid-1960s and mostly feature the musician, who died at 38, in 1978, as a member of the Nathan Davis Quartet. Excellent stuff. PK
David Bowie Blackstar
Blackstar, the 26th and final studio album – that we know of - from David Bowie is a characteristically baleful, but reflective record that packs one last punch in style.Blackstar is itself the title of the opening track, built around two core chords which are almost instantly identifiable with an Eastern, Arabic or Flamenco template. Through nine minutes 57 seconds it rumbles balefully on, a touch of Frippertronics in Ben Monder’s guitar, some wild flute here, a bit of sax there, a layered synth or keyboard bedding. There is too the merest echo of the spirit of Low on the first of these haunted corridors that are the tracks of Blackstar.In conclusion, Blackstar is not much about catchy melodies, as if the need for hit singles had gone at this stage. Ultimately, there will indeed be many who will listen attentively and many who will hang on every note and long for more from the Thin White Duke. A fine swansong. P K

Where can I get RTÉ Aertel Digital?

RTÉ Aertel Digital is an enhanced digital version of the RTÉ Aertel teletext service. It functions in the same way as the analogue service, offering current news, sport and weather updates but is now more agile and easier to use.

RTÉ Aertel Digital is available on Saorview, the new free digital TV service in Ireland.
Press TEXT button on your remote to launch Aertel from RTÉ One, RTÉ Two, RTÉ News Now.