Category: "Audio"

Vitamin C - Vitamin C Audio CD Review

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This review was originally written on May 5, 2005
Two Minor Cuts, But Overall Very Enjoyable

Since Vitamin C's "Vitamin C" CD has been reviewed to death on Amazon (143 reviews as of this writing), I'll just make this short and simple, only adding what little information I can.

Two of the songs have minor cuts at the end.

Track 6 - "Do What You Want To Do" - cuts off at the end as the next track starts.

Track 10 - About Last Night" - end of song fades into track 11 "Fear of Flying."

There's a bonus song which isn't listed in the track listing on the back of the CD case. However, if you buy the CD factory-sealed, there should be an orange sticker on the front with white and yellow-orange text which reads: "Includes the anthem for all friends, for all times Graduation [Friends Forever] and the hits Me, Myself And I and Smile. Bonus Features! Graduation [Friends Forever] (The Student Interview Mix); video and interview footage for your CD-Rom (Enhanced CD)."

So, Track 13 is "Graduation [Friends Forever] (The Student Interview Mix)" (that's the official title).

The Enhanced CD video and interview footage mentioned on the label is for "Smile," though there is one brief clip of Vitamin C singing "Graduation" in a studio with the choir.

Vitamin C - More Audio CD Review

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This review was originally written on May 5, 2005
Great Music, Outdated & Crippled Enhanced CD Portion

Vitamin C's "More" was originally released in 2000 by Elektra Entertainment Group (a division of Warner Music Group). "The Itch" music video on the CD-ROM portion of the disc ("Enhanced CD") is crippled using HyperCD technology. (HyperCD is the brand name for a way of removing a small slice of meta-data from a digital file such that the file is made unreadable. This process is called "encrippling." Only when the "encrippled" file on a computer is linked with the piece of meta-data on a web site can the user view the content.) Unfortunately, the video will NEVER be playable because the website was taken down a long time ago.

HyperCD technology absolutely sucks and would have given me a good reason NOT to buy anymore CDs had the technology not already gone the way of the Dodo.

Let's see, where should I begin...

1. Running HYPERCD.EXE from the main/root directory of the CD installs files to C:\HYPERCD and puts an icon on my desktop without telling me it's doing this, and for no real reason anyway. This is the first instance of my hatred for HyperCD technology. Spyware does this kind of behavior. (I'll let it slide that this menu exe doesn't contain any real content, and is really pointless to have anyway.)

2. "The Itch" music video is located on the CD here: \content\Vc01.hlk. However the "content" directory is set to be hidden by Windows. There's no reason to hide the file like that. People who bought the CD don't have to be treated like pirates, though that's the basic premise for HyperCD technology when used in a manner like this.

3. The HyperCD browser plugin installer is located on the CD here: \SETUP\SETUP.EXE. However, the program runs in an endless loop on my computer. When it starts to run the second time, I quit it.

4. The plugin gets installed for IE (C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\PLUGINS\nphcd32.dll), but not for Mozilla. I had to manually copy/move the plugin to my Mozilla plugins directory. (The installer gives no indication of what the plugin is named or how many files it installs. The HyperCD.com website gave me the file name.)

5. Since I had to manually quit the install program, this of course means that my default browser (Mozilla - which the plugin was not automatically installed to) won't be launched, and I won't be taken to the site through which I can view the video. Thankfully, I found the URL of the website in this file \SETUP\HCDSETUP.INI on the CD. The website is: http://elektra.broadbridge.net/vitamin_c_001/index.html

6. If I try to go to that site, I get a "server not found" error message as that server, much less that page, was taken down long ago. This is why the internet should not be relied upon to provide exclusive content for a physical item. For example, the Jurassic Park DVDs gave you an exclusive "weblink" to online content on the making of the then in-production Jurassic Park 3. Needless to say, that "bonus feature" is non-existent now. Of course, that case is drastically different from this one. In the case of any CD using HyperCD technology, the content actually exists in the CD itself, but is crippled unless viewed from within an online webpage. It's one thing to have a link to content that can't be viewed, it's quite another to have the content itself but not be able to view/hear it.

7. Using the Internet Archive, I was able to get a copy of the files on that page: index.html, all images, and MOST IMPORTANTLY VitaminC_Vc01.hlq (which contains the missing portion of the video file already on the CD itself). Unfortunately, VitaminC_Vc01.hlq is set to *only* work if it's on the original web server (elektra.broadbridge.net). So even having an archived copy on another website or on my own computer won't work (Mozilla reports: "Error in server identifiers(008)").

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Thanks to HyperCD technology, it looks like I'm going to be forced to buy the DVD for the movie "Get Over It!" which contains "The Itch" music video as a bonus feature. I shouldn't be forced to buy an additional product, at a cost of $10 more, for something that was advertised as a "bonus feature" of a product I already bought. That is just plain wrong!

By the way, the other content on the Enhanced CD are outdated copies of Java Environment (JRE13I), Netscape 6 (N6SETUP, N6UNINST, SETUP), Real Player 8 (NSRP8), Direct-X 6 (\SETUP\ DXM6PTCH, DXMEDIA), Spinner internet radio service (\SETUP\INSTALL SPINNER FREE), WinAmp music player - with Vitamin C skin (SETUP\INSTALL WINAMP FREE), ICQ Plus 2.05 instant messenger (SETUP\IPLUS205), and AOL 5 (\SETUP\AOL\).

Rugrats Holiday Classics Audio CD Review

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This review was originally written on May 5, 2005
I Hate When Great Singers Are Forced To Sing Horribly

I like cartoons and I like novelty albums. Since I also like the Rugrats, I thought I would love Rugrats Holiday Classics. Boy was I wrong.

The background music isn't holiday music, but some lame hip-hop/dance beats that sound like they came from a Casio keyboard or a samples CD ("Tommy's Silent Night" is the only exception).

Some of the songs have religious themes which shouldn't be there. For example, "Toys For The Girls" degenerates from a toy song to a religious song. All of the songs should be about things babies and kids would think about around holiday time, but sung to the melodies of the classic holiday songs. If I wanted to hear the songs with religious themes, I'd listen to an album of the original versions.

Most of the songs have choruses that repeat too often. Although I like the Rugrats voices, listening to them repeat the same dumb verses to the same annoying music several times within a few minutes time, and repeat that twelve times, is too much for me to bear.

BEST SONGS - "Twelve Days of Rugrats" and "Rugrats Chanukah" (honorable mention goes to "Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer" because I love how Cree performs it as a sort-of rap).

WORST SONG - "Tommy's Silent Night" (hand down winner). You have Tommy singing in baby-speak about baby Jesus backed by the nice traditional "Silent Night" music, which makes this sounds offensive and sacrilegious. To add insult to injury, E.G. Daily is forced to sing off-key in character as Tommy. I know that she can sing this song beautifully if give the original lyrics and the opportunity.

If you want a great Rugrats music CD, get The Rugrats Movie soundtrack (and possibly the Rugrats In Paris soundtrack - I haven't heard it myself). STAY FAR AWAY FROM THIS ONE!

You can listen to two of the full tracks on Spook Central.

More Sun Splashin' Audio CD Review

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This review was originally written on May 5, 2005
Great Collection Of Songs, Too Bad Half Of Them Are Cut Off

First, the track list for the More Sun Splashin' audio CD.

1.  3:45  The Heat Is On -- Glenn Frey
2.  3:24  Listen To The Music -- The Doobie Brothers
3.  2:43  California Girls -- David Lee Roth
4.  2:53  La Bamba -- Los Lobos
5.  2:30  Groovin' -- The Rascals
6.  3:38  Follow Your Daughter Home -- The Guess Who
7.  4:00  Wild, Wild West -- The Escape Club
8.  2:34  The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) -- Harpers Bizarre
9.  2:38  Summer In The City -- The Lovin' Spoonful
10.  4:10  Freeway Of Love -- Aretha Franklin
11.  4:41  The Tide Is High -- Blondie
12.  3:48  Electric Avenue -- Eddy Grant
13.  3:13  Wonderful World, Beautiful People -- Jimmy Cliff
14.  3:37  Good Vibrations -- The Beach Boys
15.  3:15  Sugar Magnolia -- Grateful Dead
16.  4:03  Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now) -- C&C Music Factory
(total time - 54:52)

Sadly, eight of the sixteen songs are cut off at end. These songs are tracks 1, 2, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, and 15. I know this isn't limited to just my copy because I actually bought a second copy of the album and heard it on that one too. The first Sun Splashin' album wasn't like this (all songs were complete). It's really sad because this is a great collection of songs.

Lilian Garcia - Quiero Vivir! Audio CD Review

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This review was originally written on April 11, 2008
Good Music, But Beware Of The Restrictive Disclaimer - Can't Resell Or Give Away The CD You Bought

I bought the Lilian Garcia - Quiero Vivir! audio CD from Amazon in March 2008. Although I don't understand Spanish, I found it to be very enjoyable. Lilian has a great voice, and I wish that she had made a completely English version of this album. Thankfully two of the songs are English translations. Track 10 "Under In Love" is the English version of track 4 "Desenamorada", and track 11 "Where Did Love Go?" is the English version of track 3 "Adonde" (that's the duet with Jon Secada).

The one thing I dislike about the CD is one thing that I have *NEVER* seen on any CD that I've ever purchased. On the outer rim of the CD is this disclaimer: "This CD is the property of the record company and is licensed to the intended recipient for personal use only. Acceptance of this CD shall constitute an agreement to comply with the terms of the license. Resale or transfer of possession is not allowed and may be punishable under federal and state laws. This CD may be watermarked to identify the intended recipient."

It appears that Amazon is selling promo CDs, as this disclaimer pops up in articles about the current case of Universal Music Group (UMG) vs. Troy Augusto (do a Google search for "this CD is the property of the record company" to find more information about the case). Interestingly, Universal Music Latino is the distributor of the CD, though WWE owns the content. However, nothing on the packaging states that the copy Amazon sold me is a promo CD, so I have no idea why it appears on the disc.

Below is an image of the CD so you can see the disclaimer for yourself, and see that the disclaimer isn't presented to the customer until after the purchase has been made and the product has been opened - thus nullifying the "agreement to comply with the terms of the license" because you can't agree beforehand.

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I sincerely hope that this is an error and that Universal Music isn't serious with this disclaimer or they certainly will have killed their CD sales for good.