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  • Ross Noble Goes Global, Okkervil River- Down the River of Golden Dreams
    by Okkervil at 12:00 on 22 October 2004

    Ross Noble Goes Global

    Michael Palin without the television, research, education value, or Michael Palin.
    Noble devotees and the uninitiated alike will love this offering- his trademark rambling, a kung-fu obsession and a helping of those rather tactless comments we all would make in a foreign country but for the fear that some of the locals speak English. 'Tis a glorious mix of badly-researched travelogue and excerpts from the live performances that the series follows Ross Noble perfomring across China, Singapore, Budapest, South Africa and Ireland. It bears listening to again and again and is not just for mature tastes- it'll eat up the miles on long family drives, or just have it on the background for this pleasant fellows Geordie accent. If y'like that sort of thing.
    In these days of the global village, when the romantic days of exploring the true unknown with Professor Challenger, Uncle Lidenbrock and the (less fictitious) Dr Livingstones and Shackletons, it might be argued that the magic has gone from traveling purely for the sake of it- but with comedians like Ross Noble, it's been given a new take- irreverent, fantastically funny and occasionally, quite bizarre.
    So buy it, and discover duck tongues, donkeys and how far taxis in China'll take ya. All from the comfort of your settee.

    Down The River Of Golden Dreams- Okkervil River

    To the dark melancholy of 'Don't Fall In Love...', Okkervil River's brand new offering 'Down The River of Golden Dreams' is a ray of sunshine. Well, dark sunshine. Sunshine behind a cloud... with rain. 'Down the River of Golden Dreams' is that sunshine between rain, then. With lovely wind noises.
    Decidedly more up-beat, this album drops the predominantly mandolin and thrashed acoustic guitar of it's predecessor in favour of Wurlitzer in a sleeker, more refined and mature sound- still irrevocably that 'Okkervil River' noise, with no small thanks to Sheff's bitter-sweet and immensely distinctive, soulful vocals.
    It is a glorious anthology of short stories, each one memorable, meaningful and double-edged- that is, an occasionally rusty, serrated edge- so if manufactured pop is your haunt, you have been warned. It dips and swells with a delicate precision, along the way displaying a talent for excellentsong titles- 'The Velocity of Saul at the Time of His Conversion,' astonishing lyrics 'And the words that some screenwriter counted and chose, and then set in their sequence and froze, unfreeze on his tongue as he speaks for all of us but one' and cataclysmic diapasons(try and listen to 'The War Criminal Rises And Speaks' without shivering, just a bit, which incidently, is here: listen to him speak!).
    Approach this with an open mind and you will be rewarded, enlightened and uplifted, for 'tis a beautiful creation, but fragile; so tip-toe towards it, lest it shatters.