New Documentary Shows Freddie Mercury In A New Light

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Queen fans all know Freddie Mercury as the front man of the iconic British rock band.  But how many people out there know that Mercury actually worked on projects outside of Queen?  Early this year, Eagle Rock Entertainment and Eagle Vision released a documentary titled, “Days of Our Lives.”  That documentary very briefly touched on Mercury’s time away from Queen.  Now, fans get a whole new look on Mercury’s other work with the new documentary, “Freddie Mercury:  The Great Pretender.”

“Freddie Mercury:  The Great Pretender” presents not just Freddie Mercury as a solo artist, but as a person.  Audiences will learn through archived interviews with Freddie, his band mates in Queen, and others who knew him, a side of Freddie that perhaps few audiences might have known.  One of the most interesting facts that audiences learn from this documentary is that Freddie originally had no intention of being a rock star.  He admits in an archived interview, that he originally was going to be a graphic artist.  Or as he called it, a graphic illustrator.  One only knows what would have become of Queen had that happened.  This is just the tip of the iceberg in this brand new release.  Something that audiences will really be in awe of is Freddie’s love of the cultural arts.

Interviews with Freddie and those who knew him reveal that Freddie became a big fan of opera during his life.  It’s fitting that he would.  His voice always came across in that very theateric and operatic style.  He was never really a rock singer.  So when he started singing with opera great Montserrat Caballe, the result was definitely a far cry from what audiences might have expected.  Surprisingly though, his work with Caballe was actually very impressive from the angle of studying opera.  As one of the individuals interviewed for this feature noted, if not for Freddie Mercury, the name of Monterrat Caballe would have been known only to audiences of opera.  It was Mercury that brought her to such popularity.  That alone says quite a bit about Freddie Mercury’s influence.

One other note that stands out in this documentaryis Freddie Mercury the on-stage persona versus Freddie Mercury the man.  The vocalist of any band is typically charged with the duty of being a larger than life personality in order to engage the band’s audience.  What makes this important is that while he noted in one breath how much he loved being in this position, Freddie was also quite the private person offstage.  He notes in his interviews that he stayed mostly to himself when he was offstage.  that juxtaposition of his two different personas is so intriguing.  It’s just one more piece of what makes this new documentary so enjoyable and enlightening for Queen’s fans.  “Freddie Mercury:  The Great Pretender” offers plenty more for audiences in its near ninety minute run tim.  There are also bonus interviews to add even more depth to who this icon really was.  “Freddie Mercury:  The Great Pretender”  is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online at http://www.eagle-rock.com.

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Won’t Back Down Shows The Power Of Hope

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox

Hope is a dangerous thing.  Who knows that line?  While it may have been used in an entirely different setting in 1994’s The Shawshank Redemption, that classic film line applies perfectly in 20th Century Fox’s new movie that’s at least one part Stand and Deliver.  The story presented in this new work focuses on two single mothers–played by Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal–who are fed up with the way in which the public school system in their city is handling their kids…or rather not handling them.  Fittingly, the movie is set against the backdrop of one of America’s most famed cities, Pittsburgh.  As much as people may dislike Pittsburgh’s sports teams, Jamie’s (Maggie Gyllenhaal) allegiance to the Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates is a statement in itself.  It all combines to make for a movie that while it may not be an Oscar contender, is a movie that will hopefully have other parents and teachers across the country taking notice and reacting.

The primary story of Won’t Back Down is much more real than people might want to believe.  Despite what other critic may believe, Won’t Back Down is not an attack on unions.  Rather, it’s an unbiased work that does take into account both the side of the teachers and parents, and that of the unions.  What so many audiences fail to understand with this work is that it attempts not to attack unions but to show that unions and many teachers within unions have lost sight of what’s really important.  That’s not to say that all teachers within unions are like this.  Do not take that wrongly.  But many teachers really have lost sight of what’s important.  So many have become just as jaded and focused more on seniority and tenure than on the kids because the system has crushed their hopes.  There’s that word again.  Hope.  Teachers have lost hope and given up, leading to the situation presented in this story.

It may come across as totally unnoticeable to some, but having the story set against the backdrop of Pittsburgh makes it that much more hard hitting.  Pittsburgh was built on the backs of hard working Americans.  But then something changed, destroying businesses and jobs in the city.  When that happened, the trickle down effect from that was pretty clear.  The state of that one school was a reflection of what had happened to the city.  What’s more, as much as people may want to deny it, Adams Elementary could be any school in the country.  So many cities have been decimated for economic reasons.  And the effect of that has trickled down to those cities’ schools.

Something else that viewers should take into account in watching Won’t Back Down is that it is not just some dream of Ron Clark.  However, it does show that what he created for his Ron Clark Academy can work in the public school system.  But to effect that change, parents and teachers have to take a stand for a change.  Otherwise they, along with their children and entire school systems will have no hope.

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Epicloud Is Another Successful Experiment From Rock’s Musical Mad Scientist

Courtesy: Inside Out Music USA/Century Media

The musical mad scientist himself, Devin Townsend, is back again with a brand new album.  Townsend wasted little time with this album, as it comes barely a year after the release of his previous two albums under the DTP moniker, “Deconstructed” and “Ghost.”  And just as those two albums (and the pair that preceded it) were amazingly original opuses, so is “Epicloud.”

Devin Townsend is hard rock’s answer to Dave Stewart.  Just as Stewart does, Townsend has re-invented himself on every one of his albums.  “Epicloud” is no exception to that rule.  The album’s opener, ‘Effervescent!’ is quite the interesting piece.  It’s a short choir style piece that clocks in at just under a minute long.  The “choir” that Townsend uses here also carries through a good portion of the album including a couple of the album’s best songs, ‘Lucky Animals’ and ‘Liberation.’  The subtle addition of a sax part in ‘Lucky Animals’ makes it that much more enjoyable.  The hard driving ‘Liberation’ is a great track in its own right.  In comparison to ‘Lucky Animals’ it’s still a good hard rock song.  But its style is different from that one.  And it’s just as different from ‘True North.’ 

The album’s first trio of actual full length songs is different from one another.  Each song is just as different from one another as the rest of this album’s songs are from each other, too.  What’s more, not only are they different from each other, they’re so entirely creative.  ‘Epicloud’ is such a creative work as it seems to have a touch of Euro-metal mixed in with speed metal, and Townsend’s own mad scientist mixture of ingredients.  Just as with every previous release from this musical genius, every track on this disc is a brand new experiment.  And every experiment is one that will keep listeners’ ears from start to finish.  It proves that just as from album to album, fans never know what to expect from one song to the next even on this brand new release.  It goes without saying that Townsend has impressed yet again with this new release.  He may very well have with this release, one of the year’s best hard rock/metal albums of 2012.

Devin Townsend will be touring across Europe this Fall and Winter in support of ‘Epicloud.’  He will kick off the European leg of his tour October 23rd at Northampton University in Newcastle, UK.  Fans can get a full list of tour dates and all the latest DTP news online at http://www.hevydevy.com.

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JEFF the Brotherhood Announces U.S. Tour Dates

Courtesy: Warner Brothers Records

Psychedelic rock act JEFF The Brotherhood has announced the latest slate of tour dates in support of its debut on Warner Brothers Records, “Hypnotic Nights.”  The Nashville, TN based band fronted by brothers Jake (vocals, guitars) and Jamin Orall (drums) will tour the U.S. in support of its new release beginning tomorrow at the Starry Nights Festival in Bowling Green, KY.  From there, the band will make its way to the West Coast by way of Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona.  Those tour dates will be next week.  While fans wait for JEFF The Brotherhood to make a stop in their city, they can check out a special interview with Jake and Jamin Orall right here, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mnB57SuXAo&feature=youtu.be.  The brothers discuss how the band formed, the album’s creation, and a whole lot more.  There are plenty of laughs to go around, too.

Courtesy: Jo McCaughey

 

Fans can also get the latest tour dates and news from JEFF The Brotherhood when they go online to http://www.facebook.com/JEFFtheBrotherhood, http://www.infinitycat.com, http://www.myspace.com/jeffthebrotherhood, http://www.jeffbrotherhood.com/blogspot.com, http://www.youtube.com/jakeandjamin, http://www.youtube.com/jeffthebrotherhood, and http://twitter.com/jeffbrotherhood.

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‘Twas A Dinosaur Is A “Roaring” Good Time For The Whole Family

Courtesy: Sinking Ship Entertainment/NCircle Entertainment

Nick Jr.’s favorite young paleontologist has a new DVD out that’s fun for the whole family.  “Dino Dan:  ‘Twas A Dinosaur” offers audiences five more episodes that will get young audiences out digging for fossils themselves.  In this latest DVD release, it’s winter time in Dan’s hometown.  And being Winter, Dan learns in the episode, “He Shoots, He Roars” that while some dinosaurs were warm blooded, others weren’t.  He learns this when a paleontologist named Jim and his dino puppet friend, “Denny” visit the class.  Jim teaches the class that the difference between warm and cold blooded dinosaurs was in their ability to move in cold weather.  Jim tells the class that warm blooded dinosaurs moved quickly in cold weather.  But cold blooded dinosaurs moved slowly in cold weather.  So Dan decides to test this with one of his dino buddies during recess.  Younger viewers can find out the reaction of that dino when their parents pick up this DVD.

Dan’s lesson about warm and cold blooded dinosaurs is just one of a handful taught in this new collection of episodes.  Dan (and viewers) learns about a theory that dino gas may have actually been to blame for the extinction of dinosaurs in the episode, “Gas-o-saurus.”  It should be noted again that this is merely a theory.  It’s also very similar to a current theory about methane gases released by cows being a cause for temperature changes in the earth’s atmosphere.  How Dan comes to learn about this theory will have both parents and kids alike laughing.  And how the story keeps having the word “fart” covered up throughout the episode (yes, I said fart) will have parents and their kids laughing, too.

Dan learns some great lessons about dinosaurs in this new DVD compilation.  Parents and kids alike will enjoy these lessons.  Even more though, they’ll enjoy the revamped take on the classic holiday poem, ‘Twas the Night before Christmas.  In the episode, “‘Twas a Dinosaur”, Dan offers his classmates a modern take on the classic starring his dino buddies instead of Old Saint Nick.  Audiences are given a visual of the poem as Dan reads it to his classmates.  It makes for a great, original take on a holiday classic that the whole family will love as the holidays get closer.

Whether it be a new take on a classic poem, or learning lessons about dinosaurs, “Dino Dan:  ‘Twas A Dinosaur” offers loads of enjoyment for the entire family.  There are even more lessons for families in the episodes, “Tooth or Consequences” and “A Winter Tail.”  And there’s even more fun thanks to Dino Dan’s Dino Field Guide in the bonus features.  Dan features the largest of the dinosaurs, the Brachiosaurus, in the field guide this time out, as well as the Stegosaurus.  Families can even get a free dino app for their tablet computers through this new release.  The DVD is available in stores and online now.  It can be ordered online direct via NCircle Entertainment’s website at http://www.NCircleEntertainment.com.

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Nonpoint Releases One Of Its Best Albums In Its New Self-Titled LP

Courtesy: Razor&Tie Records

Nonpoint has been through a lot of trials and tribulations since it broke through in the musical gold rush of 2000.  It’s seen changes in its label more than once.  It has also seen lineup changes.  A lesser band would have taken all of this and called it a career.  But that’s not the case with Nonpoint.  The members have collectively taken every punch thrown at the band and thrown those punches back with just as much force in every round.  And now on its seventh full length major label release, Nonpoint has shown once again that while it’s taken its punches, it’s far from being knocked out.

The band’s new self-titled LP is being released on Razor&Tie.  It was produced by famed producer, Johnny K (Disturbed, Finger Eleven, Staind, Megadeth, etc.).  The album opens with a blatant statement (yes that pun was intended, for all the long time fans) that it’s still here and standing tall in ‘Lights, Camera, Action.’  Front man and founding member Elias Soriano sings on this album, “Forget about the rumors that you heard/Cause they exaggerated every single word/And you forget you ever heard ‘em/When you hear about the struggles and the burdens/And all the tabloids cover all your bad boy antics…/I’m looking for a change or a chain reaction.”  There’s little room to guess what Soriano’s writing about here.  Add in the guitar work of new member Dave Lizzo on guitar and this song will make any long time fan glad the band is back again.

Soriano continues that same energy on ‘I Said It.’ His own words best describe this piece.  As he noted about the song in an interview, “It’s very aggressive and in-your-face.”  He couldn’t be more right.  He lets loose here singing, “I said it, I said it/I’m seeing that I said it/And I mean it/I don’t care, I don’t care and I don’t regret it…I’m not playing anymore/you started a war.”  He also noted of the song,  “We set the DNA of the record with that song.”  That being the case, it’s one heck of a way to set the tone for the rest of the album.  The energy from that song rings through every track on the album in its own way.  And thanks to the work of Johnny K, he was able to really harness that energy and help the band assemble an album that’s one of its best yet in its now fifteen year career.

The band is currently touring in support of its upcoming self-titled release. It will be performing at The Note in West Chester, PA tonight and will follow up that show with shows in Hartford, CT and Worcester, MA tomorrow and Saturday.  Fans can get a full tour lineup and all the latest news from the band online now at http://www.nonpoint.com, http://www.facebook.com/nonpointworld, http://twitter.com/nonpoint, http://www.youtube.com/nonpointworld, and http://www.myspace.com/nonpoint.

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Hunting The Elements Is An Excellent Tool For Teachers

Courtesy: PBS

NOVA’s recent special, “Hunting The Elements” is one of the show’s most enjoyable episodes yet.  This episode of PBS’ hit series isn’t just an episode of NOVA.  It mixes in elements of Discovery Channel’s hit series, “Dirty Jobs.”  And it’s a great tool for both high school and college level chemistry level chemistry courses.

“Hunting The Elements” is hosted by David Pogue.  It takes viewers on a journey across the entire periodic table of elements.  What really makes this episode of NOVA interesting is how it aims to simplify the table for viewers, rather than come across as a visual classroom.  In each segment, viewers see the periodic table light up somewhere close by Pogue.  It serves as a reminder for viewers throughout each segment of what element is being discussed.  One of the key pieces of the discussion in this episode is actually very brief.  But it’s equally important.  That key piece is the revelation that the symbol for each element on the table is actually based on each element’s Latin name.  This may come across as something that doesn’t really play much role.  But many younger chemistry students ask exactly what Pogue asked about that relationship between the two.  Teachers and students alike will also appreciate the segment showing the actual physical periodic table that comes complete with the physical elements contained therein for association.  This is a brilliant tool for teaching.

“Hunting The Elements” clocks in at roughly two hours in length. During that time it makes a valid attempt to cover as much of the periodic table as possible.  Being that it is two hours long, that still isn’t enough time to cover the entire table.  This isn’t an entirely bad thing, though.  Rather than try to cover everything and be a glorified classroom setting, the program really tries to simplify everything and entertain audiences at the same time.  This is a big bonus to the program.  It does manage to be entertaining and educational at the same time, making for a great program to which any teacher could refer throughout the course of an academic year.  Teachers wouldn’t have to rely on the entire program for one class.  Each element could be spread out throughout a school calendar as one part of a class each day.  PBS is to be commended for this.  “Hunting The Elements” is available now on blu-ray and DVD.  It can be ordered direct via PBS’ website, http://www.shoppbs.org.

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