Eagle Rock’s Reputation Holds True, Strong With Its New Deep Purple Archived Live Recording

Courtesy:   Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Eagle Rock Entertainment and Deep Purple are set to release the band’s latest live recording today.  Deep PurpleWith Orchestra Live in Verona is not the band’s first archived live recording released this year via Eagle Rock Entertainment.  It is however the best of the band’s live recordings released this year.  The performance, recorded three years ago, is highlighted by a set list that focuses largely on its older, more well-known songs.  The concert is also not the first time that Deep Purple has performed live with an orchestra.  The band also performed live with an orchestra when it performed at the famed Montreux Jazz Festival in 2011.  The two performances being recorded in the same year, were likely part of the same tour.  That fact is in itself another major positive to this brand new archived release.  As if these two factors are not enough for audiences, the audio and video mix collectively make the concert even more enjoyable for audiences.  Audiences will be hugely impressed at the camera work in this show and the balance of the band and its backing orchestra.  That factor along with everything already noted makes this latest live recording from Deep Purple even more enjoyable for audiences.  And that is not to discount the concert’s bonus liner notes, either.  The liner notes included in the recording add even more insight into the concert while noting all the parties involved.  Whether for its companion booklet, its outstanding audio and video mix, or even the set list included in this recording, all of the work that went into bringing this concert to audiences paid off.  That’s because it collectively makes Deep Purple: With Orchestra Live in Verona another example of why Eagle Rock Entertainment remains the leader in live recordings today.

Deep Purple: With Orchestra Live in Verona is a wonderful addition to the home collection of any Deep Purple fan.  It is another example of why Eagle Rock more than deservedly still maintains the label of the leader in live recordings.    The central reason for this is the concert’s set list.  Audiences will note that this concert, much as the band’s 2011 show in Montreux, focuses primarily on the band’s older material, going all the way back to its 1968 debut record Shades of Deep Purple.  The band’s landmark 1972 album Machine Head is very well represented in this recording, too.  Almost all of the songs from that album are included in this concert, including the rare b-side When A Blind Man CriesFireball is well represented as is Perfect Strangers and other.  The most recent work included in this performance is the band’s 2005 album Rapture of the Deep.  While not every one of the band’s albums are featured in this near two hour performance, the band does choose a relatively large swath of material for its audiences.  And it is that relatively wide array of songs from the band’s catalogue that sets the tone for this recording.  The tone in question is a positive one made even more positive when considering that this concert would appear to be one more from the band’s 2011 tour, which also included a recording of the band’s performance that year at the famed Montreux Jazz Festival.

The set list that makes up Deep Purple’s latest live recording is especially impressive as it covers largely the band’s older material instead of its more recent songs.  That set list is much the set list included in the band’s other 2011 Eagle Rock Entertainment recording from its performance at the famed Montreux Jazz Festival.  Simply put, audiences that don’t already own the recording of the band’s performance from that year’s Montreux Jazz Festival won’t be left out in this recording.  Odds are that this concert was part of the band’s larger tour that just so happened to include a show at Montreux.  This factor makes this recording even more a plus for any Deep Purple fans out there.  It shows that Eagle Rock Entertainment’s people were really thinking about the band’s fans.  It’s just one more way that Eagle Rock maintains the mantle of the industry’s leader in live recordings and one more reason that Deep Purple’s fans will appreciate this latest recording.

The set list included in Deep Purple’s new live recording goes a long way toward making this latest recording enjoyable for audiences.  The fact that it directly mirrors the band’s 2011 performance from Montreux, which was released that same year, is even more of a bonus for audiences.  As difficult as it may be to find the band’s Montreux performance, this recording can now take the place of that performance.  That makes this recording even more enjoyable and a bonus for fans in and of itself.  It still isn’t all that makes the recording such a great addition to any Deep Purple fan’s collection.  The audio and video mix that went into the recording is one more of so many positives that makes the recording enjoyable.  David Richards’ work balancing the levels throughout the show paid off in spades.  The orchestra—the Neue Philharmonie Frankfurt—blends right in with the band to the point that it sounds like the orchestra isn’t even there.  That is a true sign of expertise.  Richards and his crew compensated for the venue’s acoustics just as expertly.  Being a venue of its size, it had to have been a challenge for Richards and company to keep the band and orchestra from overpowering one another and to keep the sound from overpowering the group in whole, washing out everything.  The end result is a performance from all involved that proves once again why Eagle Rock is the leader in live recordings.  Eagle Rock releases nothing but the finest especially in terms of the concert’s most important elements (I.E. audio and video).  The audio in this case is no different.  The same can be said of director Chris Cowey, editor Kyle Smart’s work, and that of the entire camera crew responsible for capturing the concert on camera.  The camera angles used throughout the show take audiences right up on stage with the band and out into the audiences. There are wonderful sweeping pans that show the sheer immensity of the venue.  Kyle Smart’s post-production work reveals the expert work of Cowey and his camera crew just as well.  All involved make the final product just as enjoyable as if audiences were there in person.

The audio and video mixes that make up Deep Purple: With Orchestra Live in Verona were handled with the utmost expertise from all involved.  Together with the concert’s set list and the fact that it serves as a companion to the band’s 2011 performance at Montreux, all three factors together show why this recording is another wonderful addition to the home library of any Deep Purple fan.  Collectively, they show why Eagle Rock remains today the leader in live recordings.  It releases what are only the best possible recordings from one to the next, from the shows’ set lists to their production values.  Even something as minute as the recording’s companion booklet plays its own part in the overall presentation and its success.  The companion booklet included here adds even more enjoyment to the recordings as it offers extra insight into the concert from the vantage point of writer Malcom Dome.  Dome writes of the 12,000 people in attendance and how the band and orchestra worked so well together on its tour that year among much more.  While brief, it adds its own element of enjoyment to the whole; an element that along with the set list and production values makes Deep Purple: With Orchestra Live in Verona another hugely successful recording from Eagle Rock Entertainment.

Deep Purple: With Orchestra Live in Verona is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at:

Website: http://www.eagle-rock.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

A Haunting: The Television Series Is One Wonderfully Fright-Filled Box Set

Courtesy: Timeless Media Group/Shout! Factory/Discovery Channel/Discovery Communications/Destination America

Courtesy: Timeless Media Group/Shout! Factory/Discovery Channel/Discovery Communications/Destination America

Halloween is a little over a week away. Many stores have already stored away their Halloween decorations and have replaced them with their Christmas decorations. Others are even already pumping the annual stream of Christmas music over their speakers. It’s sad. But worry not Halloween lovers. Timeless Media and Shout! Factory have not fallen victim to that trend just yet. Timeless Media and Shout! Factory released A Haunting: The Television Series last Tuesday. This nine-disc box set is a good fit for any fan of the paranormal whether on Halloween or any other time of the year. The main reason for that is that it has compiled the series’ first six seasons into one complete set. The inclusion of the series’ first six seasons in one place is its own positive in that it means not having to hunt from box to box for one episode or another. It just means hunting through one full box. This is only one positive to this set. Another positive to the box in whole is that one box versus multiple boxes saves space on anyone’s DVD rack o in said persons’ cabinets (depending on which one a person uses). And last but hardly least of all worth noting of this set is the stories themselves. What examination of this set would be complete without a look at the stories that make up the set? They offer plenty of frights for audiences. This is the case both on Halloween and any time of the year. Together with the box’s packaging and its associated factors, the stories included in this set complete the box and make it one that anyone looking for a good scare will appreciate whether it be on Halloween or any other time of the year.

A Haunting is one of the more interesting paranormal series on television in recent years. Unlike its counterparts on Syfy, LMN, and Travel Channel, it never seemed to really fit in with the other programs on Discovery or even Destination America. Yet somehow it has continued to maintain a healthy fan base. It has gone on to see a number of episode compilations released throughout the years as well as stand-alone single season sets for said fan base. Now, fans have been rewarded for their loyalty to the series with this complete nine-disc set that encompasses the series’ first six seasons. Having all six previously released seasons put into one complete set is a reward as those single-season stand-alone sets and compilation discs are not easy to find. Now audiences won’t have to hunt for each one. They can have all six previously released seasons in a single box. Those that do have any of said previous releases will appreciate this set as having all six seasons in one set also means no more fumbling through their other boxes for one episode or another. They need only open the box and flip through the discs to find their favorite episodes. It’s a major positive and possibly the most important to the box set in terms of what does and doesn’t work about it.

Timeless Media and Shout! Factory’s newly released A Haunting: The Television Series succeeds so strongly primarily because of the inclusion of all six of the series’ previous seasons in one box. Their inclusion means no more hunting in stores, online and through DVD racks for one season or another. It’s all right there in one box set. Having everything in one single box set is a positive not just for the content but also for the matter of space, speaking of DVD racks. Any number of stand-alone compilation discs has been spawned from A Haunting. And each of the series’ previous seasons have been released as stand-alone sets, too. All of those compilation discs and stand-alone seas sets take up a lot of room on DVD racks. Now audiences can trade in all of those noted releases in favor of this ergonomically packaged nine-disc set. All nine discs that make up the series’ previous seasons are here. They have been packaged in exactly the same fashion as other releases from Timeless Media and Shout! Factory. That packaging means has become the standard seemingly across the board. However not every company out there utilizes that standard even today, believe it or not. It’s sad. Thankfully fans of A Haunting don’t have to worry about that. It’s one more reason that the partnership between Timeless Media and Shout! Factory has made both leaders in home releases of TV series and movies. And it’s one more reason that audiences will appreciate this latest release from their partnership.

The overall packaging of A Haunting: The Television Series and the inclusion of the series’ full six season run—prior to its now seventh season airing on Destination America—couple to make the box set even more enjoyable for audiences than it would have been in lacking one factor or the other. As important as those factors are, the stories that make up each season are just as important if not more so. Without interesting and gripping tales of terror, there would be nothing to watch. In “Hungry Ghosts,” audiences are taken to Japan where an American family is haunted by ancient spirits when the family moves into a posh new home upon the father accepting a high-ranking position in his company. “Nightmare Upstairs” sees an Arkansas family scared out of its house when it is revealed that it is haunted by demons and possibly evil incarnate itself. Viewers are also taken to Ireland for a heart wrenching story about a house haunted by the spirit of a murdered child in “A Haunting in Ireland.” These are just a few of the terror-filled tales that make up A Haunting’s six-season run in this set. There are far more tales from which viewers can choose their own favorite(s). Needless to say, having so many stories to take in, there are plenty of frights to be had. And after watching the stories that make up A Haunting: The Television Series, audiences might not be going to sleep anytime soon. Some might even find themselves checking under their beds and even turning on that night light when they go to bed. Who knows? There might…or might not….be something there….Or maybe they’re all just stories. Audiences can choose for themselves when they purchase A Haunting: The Television Series for themselves. It is available now on DVD and can be ordered direct via the Timeless Media website at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tentpoles/timeless-media-group. More information on this and other releases from Timeless Media is available online now at:

Website: https://www.shoutfactory.com/tentpoles/timeless-media-group

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Timeless-Media-Group/358391474233364

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

History Detectives Impresses Again With Its Special Investigations

Courtesy: PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS has proven time and again in recent years that it is the last bastion of truly worthwhile educational programming.  While History Channel, Discovery Channel, and others of their ilk have continued to fall victim to their heads’ lust for reality TV programming, PBS has held its guns and stood its ground, becoming the gold standard for educational programming.  One show that has helped to make PBS the gold standard is its fan favorite series History Detectives.  PBS recently released a new History Detectives special to DVD titled History Detectives: Special Investigations.  Not that PBS needs it at this point, but this DVD is more proof of why the series is such a fan favorite and why PBS continues to help make PBS the leader in quality educational programming.  Audiences, whether they be new to the series or are more familiar with it, will appreciate that the series delves into some of history’s greatest mysteries in this new special.  That’s a change from its normal format.  Those that are less familiar with History Detectives will appreciate that it uses a rather familiar format in investigating each of the special’s mysteries.  And last but hardly least of all, in none of the cases studied in this special does the team try to prove or disprove any theory set forth.  The team merely investigates the facts and leaves the rest up to viewers.  When audiences take into consideration all three of the factors noted here, they will agree that this DVD proves once more why History Detectives is one of the best series on television for educators and lovers of history, and why PBS remains today the gold standard in quality educational programming.

History Detectives is one of PBS’ best programs.  It is a favorite among educators and lovers of history.  The main reason for this is that it presents history at its purest.  It has never attempted to over-glorify history and make it sexy for the sake of eyeballs to put it bluntly.  It takes the road far less traveled today in comparison to programs on the likes of History, Discovery, Destination America and others under those corporate umbrellas.  This latest release from History Detectives proves why that approach has–and continues to–make it a fan favorite.  Normally, History Detectives focuses on the history behind items and documents owned by ordinary people.  This time though, it turns the focus to a pair of history’s greatest mysteries and a couple that while not as well-known are just as interesting.  The two more well-known of the mysteries presented here center on famed band leader Glenn Miller and Jimmy Hoffa.  The lesser known of the mysteries presented here focus on the river boat Sultana and on a group of servant girls from Texas.  The study on Glenn Miller is exactly what audiences expect.  It examines the possible fate of the famed band leader.  The findings from the study are pretty interesting to say the least.  That’s because they leave just as many questions as answers.  Unlike the study on Miller, the study on Hoffa isn’t what audiences might think.  Instead of focusing on his fate–as so many do–this episode focuses on who might have been responsible for his disappearance.  The findings here are just as eye opening as the theories concerning where he may be.  Some may be surprised to learn that apparently Hoffa even had a link to none other than President Richard Nixon.  That’s just one of many rather interesting facts that audiences will learn from this episode. As if this isn’t enough, the episode centering on the riverboat Sultana brings up thoughts of the Maine and its controversy.  It might event raise thoughts of the Titanic disaster.  And the story centering on the murders of the young Teas servant girls will engage audiences just as much.  As should be evident by now, these stories by themselves more than make History Detectives: Special Investigations worth the watch by any educator or history lover in general.

The stories that make up History Detectives: Special Investigations are by themselves more than enough reason for audiences to check out this new DVD.  The manner in which the team approaches each investigation is another reason that audiences will appreciate this special.  Whether or not they are familiar with this series, audiences will recognize the manner in which the team approaches each case.  It is a formula that was once used in Discovery’s Mythbusters before the team of Kari, Grant and Tory was let go.  The only difference is that unlike Mythbusters, the show’s heads and hosts don’t try to make the investigations sexy for the sake of eyeballs.  It’s a welcome breath of fresh air.  It proves that history doesn’t have to be sexy to be interesting.  It’s just one more way that this latest release from PBS and History Detectives prove the value of both collectively.

The cases presented here and the manner in which each one is investigated together make History Detectives: Special Investigations solid proof of why this series is so belived by fans and why it makes PBS so invaluable to audiences today.  While both of the factors noted here play their own important role to the enjoyment of this presentation, there is one more aspect of this DVD that makes it so enjoyable for audiences.  That last aspect is the fact that within the course of the investigations, at no point does the team of Wes Cowan, Kaiama Glover, and Tukufu Zuberi try to prove or disprove any of the theories around which each case centers.  Rather they merely investigate each case, presenting the facts as they find them.  The rest is left up to audiences to decide for themselves.  In the case of Glenn Miller’s disappearance, audiences are left with a strong probability in terms of what might have actually happened.  But because his body was never recovered, audiences are still left to decide for themselves if the facts gathered actually lead to anything solid.  And in the case of Hoffa’s disappearance, audiences are left just as much to decide for themselves if the mob actually played a role in his disappearance or if in fact Nixon himself might have played a role.  The team never tries to actually say yeah or nay in the end.  They just gather the information needed to make educated guesses in each case.  Such approach serves to make each case all the more enthralling that each already was to begin with.  The end result is a special that leaves audiences wanting History Detectives to investigate some of history’s other major mysteries between its regular investgations.

Next to PBS’ History Detectives, the only other history based series on television today that present any real value anymore are Travel Channel’s Mysteries at the Museum and History’s American Pickers.  While both series offer their own value to audiences, History Detectives still comes in first.  Special Investigations is more proof of that.  The cases and the team’s approach to each case more than make this series a joy for viewers.  The fact that it never really sets out to prove or disprove any theory, but rather simply investigates each one makes these episodes even more enthralling.  Altogether, all three factors together make this collection of investigations one that every educator and lover of history should have in their own personal collection.  It is available now on DVD and can be ordered direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=38349276&cp=&sr=1&kw=history+detectives+special+investigations&origkw=History+Detectives+Special+Investigations&parentPage=search.  More information on this release and all of the latest news from History Detectives is available online at:

Website: http://www.pbs.org/historydetectives

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/historydetectives

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

BTBAM’s New Live Release Deserves A Spot On Any Critic’s List Of 2014’s Best New Live Recordings

Courtesy:  Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Between the Buried and Me’s 2012 concept album The Parallax IIFuture Sequence is one of the band’s best albums to date.  The follow-up to the band’s 2011 album The ParallaxHypersleep Dialogues, it proved to also be one of the best new metal and hard rock albums of that year.  Earlier this year, the members of BTBAM went into a studio in the band’s home state of North Carolina to record a live in-studio performance of The Parallax IIFuture Sequence.  The end result was the band’s new live recording Future SequenceLive at the FidelitoriumFuture SequenceLive at the Fidelitorium is not the first live recording from BTBAM.  Regardless, it is still a great addition to the collection of any fan of this band.  The central reason for the success of this new release is the very fact that it is a live recording that is live without actually being live in the traditional sense.  Another reason for its success is the recording’s audio and video mix.  It doesn’t leave audiences feel like they are just watching a band record in a studio space.  And last but most definitely not least of all worth noting is the very fact that Metal Blade Records has presented this recording as a bundle pack with both Blu-ray disc and an audio portion only on separate CD.  Of course that isn’t to take away from the recording’s bonus interviews with the band and the “Behind-the-Scenes feature.  The interviews show just how much thought and planning went into the process of recording the presentation here.  The Behind-the-Scenes featurette that accompanies the bonus interviews lets audiences follow the process of recording the performance, from the initial planning process to the final rehearsals before the actual recording began.  These bonuses round out the whole thing, showing why this recording is a dark horse candidate for any critic’s year-end list of the year’s best new live recordings.

Future SequenceLive at the Fidelitorium is, as noted, a dark horse candidate for a spot on any critic’s year-end list of the best new live recordings.  The main reason for that is that the members of BTBAM have crafted in this recording a presentation that is live without being live in the traditional sense of the term.  It is a live in-studio recording rather than being a live recording in front of thousands of fans.  Bassist and founding member Dan Briggs explains in the bonus interview segments that the band consciously made the decision to take this route instead of the traditional live route as it would give a different feel.  He could not be more correct in that evaluation.  BTBAM isn’t the first band to ever record a live recording in studio verses at an actual live venue.  However, the number of music acts that put out releases in this format is not as large as some might think.  Keeping that in mind, it makes this performance all the more enjoyable.  Adding even more enjoyment to the performance is that fact that it also isn’t just some run-of-the-mill making of the album presentation.  It’s better than those all too often used featurettes used to sell records.  What audiences get in this recording is the band in studio performing its hit album in its entirety.  It is like seeing the band record the album without all of the constant stop-start process and useless banter.  Keeping that in mind, the recording itself is made that much more wonderful of an experience for viewers.  It shows even more why this recording stands out in this year’s crop of live recordings as a must see.

The performance recorded by BTBAM in Future SequenceLive at the Fidelitorium is central to the success of the recording’s presentation overall.  It isn’t just some run-of-the-mill in studio piece that documents the making of a band’s album.  It is actually a full performance of the band’s album The Parallax II.  The performance just happens to be held in a studio space rather than a live venue.  Being that the performance was recorded in a studio space, the initial thought pattern among audiences might be that the audio will be hollow and that the video might be recorded in somewhat guerilla style.  The reason for that is that so many in-studio documentaries end up presenting exactly such audio and video.  Luckily for viewers the audio and video mix in this recording are collectively and completely unlike those more raw presentations.  The audio in this recording sounds just as good as that of the originally released album.  And the quality of the recording’s video is just as laudable.  What’s really interesting about the recording’s video is that while presented on Blu-ray, it presents a certain grainy quality.   It’s obvious that said effect was used intentionally.  It adds a certain depth of emotion to the presentation especially when taken into consideration with the music itself.  That wise use of video effects and equally impressive audio mix works in combination with the rather creative format of the recording to make Future Sequence: Live at the Fidelitorium even more enjoyable for the band’s fans.

The format of Future Sequence: Live at the Fidelitorium along with its production values (its audio and video) both play pivotal roles in the success and enjoyment of the recording.  Having examined both of these factors, audiences are left with one more factor to examine in this recording.  That factor is the presentation’s packaging.  The recording is presented to fans both on Blu-ray and CD in one package.  Combining both the audio-only and the AV presentation together in one package presents audiences with a complete musical experience.  As noted previously, the audio portion of the performance is just as solid as that of the original album on which this performance is based.  So listening to the performance on CD whether in the car or at home will leave listeners feel like they are actually listening to the album in question.  The inclusion of the Blu-ray disc is the center of the experience.  It brings everything full circle.  It reminds audiences that they are taking in the album in full and that they are experiencing it in a setting that is rarely used by any musical act when releasing live recordings.  Together with the other previously noted aspects of the performance, it rounds out the recording proving once more just why this recording deserves to be not just a dark horse candidate but a viable candidate for any critic’s year-ender list of the best new live recordings.  It isn’t to discount the bonus material included on the Blu-ray, either.  The bonus interviews show the members of BTBAM as not just another group of metallers, but a group of talented musicians.  The companion bonus “Behind-the-Scenes” featurette  follows the band from pre-planning to final rehearsals before taking on the performance presented in the final product.  It runs just shy of the thirty-minute mark.  Throughout that time, audiences see that preparing for a live in-studio performance takes nearly as much work as prepping for a performance in a traditional live venue.  It makes for even more appreciation of this recording and proves to be the proverbial icing on the cake or the show.  Together with everything else noted, everything noted here collectively makes Future Sequence: Live at the Fidelitorium a must see by any member of the Metal Nation worldwide.

Future Sequence: Live at the Fidelitorium is available now on Blu-ray/CD combo pack in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct online via Metal Blade Records’ website at http://www.metalblade.com/us/releases/between-the-buried-and-me-fidelitorium/.  More information on this and other releases from BTBAM and all of the latest news from the band is available online at:

 

Website: http://betweentheburiedandme

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BTBAMofficial

Twitter: http://twitter.com/btbamofficial

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.   Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Live At The Rainbow ’74 Is A Must For Any Queen Fan

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Universal Music Group

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Universal Music Group

Eagle Rock Entertainment released the latest addition to its ongoing series of archived live Queen concerts last month.  Queen: Live at the Rainbow celebrates the 40th anniversary of the band’s 1974 performances at the famed Rainbow Theatre at London’s Finsbury Park.  The concert contained on the newly-released recording documents the band’s November 1974 performance at the theater.    There is a lot to like about this new recording beginning with the concert’s set list.  Unlike Eagle Rock’s previously released Queen concert recordings, this concert focuses on the band’s earlier days.  Another reason that this concert is so enjoyable is the quality of the recording from its original masters.  And last but most definitely not least of all worth mentioning is the band’s stage presence.  Even so early on, the band proved why it was a fan favorite.  That applies especially to legendary front man Freddie Mercury.  Each of the factors noted here are equally important to the overall enjoyment of Queen: Live at the Rainbow ’74.  Together, they make the concert yet another must for any classic rock fan and any fan of what is one of the greatest bands in rock and roll.

Eagle Rock Entertainment’s recently released archived Queen concert recording Live at the Rainbow ’74 is a must for any fan of the band and of classic rock in general.  It isn’t the first of the recordings from the band’s career that Eagle Rock has released.  However, most of the band’s recordings that Eagle Rock has released in recent years have focused largely on the band’s later years as is evident through the concerts’ set lists.  Live at the Rainbow ’74 presents the band in its earlier days.  The band had only released its first two albums prior to this concert.  That means that obviously it didn’t have a lot of hits yet.  The most well-known songs included in the band’s set here are the likes of: ‘Stone Cold Crazy,’ ‘Killer Queen,’ and ‘Seven Seas of Rhye.’  There are plenty of audiences out there that probably are familiar with the other songs included in this recording.  But for just as many, it could very well be the first introduction to the band’s older and lesser-known material.  That alone especially makes this recording a must.  Simply put it is a music history lesson in itself.  It is even more so a history lesson than previously released archived Queen concerts.  Being such a rarity of a history lesson, it becomes even more of a must have for fans of Queen and of classic rock in general.

The focus on Queen’s earlier days in Queen: Live at the Rainbow ’74 is key to the enjoyment and overall importance of this recording.  Many of the band’s current archived concert recordings focus on its later years.  So this latest release is a welcome new addition to the band’s history.  Thanks to the painstaking efforts of those behind this release, the concert looks and sounds just as good as it did when the band first performed at the Rainbow Theatre four decades ago.  Anyone that knows anything about Queen knows that Freddie Mercury is one of the most respected vocalists in the music industry even though he is no longer with us.  That is because of his vocal prowess.  And it balanced expertly with the talents of his band mates in this show.  The end result is a recording in which not one member overpowers the other at any point from start to finish in its near hour and a half run time.  The concert’s video quality is just as impressive as its audio quality.  Especially considering how far video recording technology has come since 1974, the quality of the original recording itself from the angles to the concert’s overall look makes for even more enjoyment.  Thanks to the efforts of those charged with restoring said footage, audiences can once again (or for the first time) see just how talented the concert’s original camera crew was.  It is one more reason that this latest recording will impress any Queen aficionado and any lover of classic rock in general.

The overall audio and video quality in Queen’s latest archived concert together with its set list makes it a must have for any fan of Queen and of classic rock in general.  It is one more example, too of why Eagle Rock Entertainment to this day retains the title of the leader in live recordings.  One more important factor worth noting in this concert’s enjoyment is the band’s stage presence.  It has already been noted that Freddie Mercury is to this day one of the greatest vocalists in rock history.  He is also one of the industry’s most prolific front men period.  As audiences will see and hear in this concert recording, that wasn’t something that happened over time.  It is something that was the case from early on.  He was just as charismatic here in the band’s early days as he was in his waning days with the band.  Brian May kept the audience just as happy with his solid guitar playing.  This includes his driving solos.  Much the same can be said of Taylor’s drumming and John Deacon’s bass work.  The four musicians together exhibit so much energy and enjoyment throughout the course of the concert.  The band’s audience feeds off of that energy and gives it back just as much.  It translates so well on screen that it leaves home viewers feeling just as excited watching the concert as those that were in attendance for the original performance.  The reason that that positive energy translates so well is the work of those charged with restoring the concert from its original masters.  Add in a set list full of largely lesser-known songs, and audiences get in Queen: Live at the Rainbow ’74 a concert that is just as enjoyable today as it was forty-years ago.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at:

Websitehttp://www.eagle-rock.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

 

Kruger, Wahlberg Give New Life To Paramount’s Transformers Franchise

Courtesy:  Paramount Studios

Courtesy: Paramount Studios

Paramount’s big screen Transformers franchise has been the center of a lot of discussion ever since the series kicked off seven years ago.  Ever since the series’ first installment was released in 2007, the reactions from fans and critics alike have been either hate or great.  There has been no gray area at all from audiences.  The reason for that clear division is that unlike other action flicks past and present, the Michael Bay-led series has ignored up to this point any real story and substance in favor of an overload of the action genre’s other standard elements.  Where those works fell, Transformers: Age of Extinction actually makes up for its predecessors if only slightly.  The reason that it works is the same reason that those movies didn’t work.  It doesn’t sacrifice story for standard action fare.  And perhaps the biggest reason of all for that is that writer Ehren Kruger had sole control of the movie’s script.  Kruger actually included some interesting elements to the story to balance out the standard action sequences and elements.   On the other hand, while Kruger’s writing actually made Transformers: Age of Extinction work better than the previous movies in the Transformers franchise, it also did just as much damage to the end product, too.  Making up for that is the surprisingly enjoyable acting on the part of lead actors Mark Wahlberg and Jack Reynor.  The duo’s back and forth makes for its own share of laughs as an occasional break from the more brainless elements of this flick.  If not for those more lighthearted moments Transformers: Age of Extinction might not have actually turned out to be as bearable as it did.  Thankfully though, that wasn’t the case.  It’s one more way in which Transformers: Age of Extinction outperforms its predecessors and proves to be worth at least one watch.

Transformers: Age of Extinction is an interesting work.  In comparison to both its own predecessors and all of the other prequels, sequels, and remakes that have been churned out this year, it surprises.  It actually proves to be a movie worth at least one watch.  The central reason for this is its writing.  Perhaps the biggest reason of all that the movie’s writing actually succeeds (even remotely) is the fact that only one person handled the movie’s script.  All three of the movies that came before this one in Paramount’s rather divisive franchise were developed by teams of writers, rather than one single person.  This time, Ehren Kruger, who also played a role in the franchise’s third film, was the sole individual handling the movie’s script.  The end result is a movie that has all of the trappings of the series’ previous installments, but also adds actual substance.  The story’s substance comes in the form of both Optimus’ and Cade’s own inner struggles.  Cade is struggling with having to let his daughter grow up and move on with life all while trying to keep from losing his family’s farm.  One the other side, Optimus must come to terms with his own feelings toward humans as a result of the events post Chicago (taken from the series’ third film).  While Yeager’s own personal struggles have no direct link to the movie’s central story, it serves as a nice diversion from all of the constant standard action flick elements.  The same can be said of Prime’s own struggles.  The only difference is that Prime’s personal struggles are directly linked to the story and do quite a bit to help him and the story evolve.

The addition of the inner struggles on the part of Cade and Optimus is one part of Kruger’s writing that makes this story work.  Another reason that the movie works as well as it does is that audiences aren’t made to feel like they have to have invested themselves in the series’ previous films.  Yes, it makes mention of the series’ third installment.  It also makes light reference to the events of the series’ first two films.  But thanks to Kruger’s writing, the movie actually standsjust as well on its own two proverbial feet as it does as part of the whole series.  This is something that every viewer will appreciate in this movie.  It also goes to show how right things can go when only one person has his or her hands in the pot.

Kruger did a lot right with the script for this latest installment in Paramount’s Transformers franchise.  For all of the positives to the movie’s script, there were also some blaring negatives, too.  the most obvious of the script’s negatives is the overt use of the standard action fare.  The nonstop chase scenes, fight scenes, and explosions are all there.  So is the standard damsel in distress figure.  This is the 21st Century.  America has come a long way since the days of women’s liberation.  So audiences should be offended (especially female viewers) that a female lead is once again shown as being helpless, cowering in fear, and in need of being saved while the men go out and save her and the universe.  Such writing does only a disservice to a story that otherwise is actually relatively enjoyable.  Hopefully if Micheal Bay and Paramount come to terms on another installment in the Transformers franchise, this is something that will be taken into account for said story.  If not, it would be no surprise if audiences take notice and start speaking up even more.

Paramount Studios and director Michael Bay giving full creative control of Transformers; Age of Extinction’s script was the best thing that could have happened for this movie and the franchise in whole.  Sure, the standard elements that weighed down the series’ previous movies are still present here.  But Kruger actually injects some real substance into this movie with the personal stories centering on Cade and Optimus.  Those stories add at least some depth to the movie.  Adding even more enjoyment to the movie’s enjoyment is the constant back and forth bickering between Cade and his daughter’s boyfriend Shane (Jack Reynor).  It adds a little bit of a buddy comedy element to the story to help lighten the story’s otherwise rather tense mood.  Those that have seen Wahlberg’s work alongside Will Ferrell in The Other Guys will see a little bit of that same chemistry with Reynor here.  Taking into consideration Wahlberg’s other overly serious roles, this rare comedic take is a welcome breath of fresh air from Wahlberg.  Even in the movie’s big fight scenes, the pair still find time to bicker between one another.  Those moments make for some rather interesting moments that believe it or not are entertaining in their own right.  Their acting along with Ehren Kruger’s writing more than make up for this movie’s biggest downfalls.  The end result is a movie that will leave audiences agreeing that should Paramount not take another chance on the Transformers, Age of Extinction makes up for the series’ previous films and is a good way for the franchise to go out.  If Paramount should take another chance on the franchise one can only hope that Paramount and Michael Bay will bring back Kruger and Wahlberg once more as the pair has given hope that there is still life left in this franchise.

Transformers: Age of Extinction is available now in stores and online.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

When Santa Fell To Earth Is A Holiday Tale Unlike Almost Every Other

Courtesy:  Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Anchor Bay Entertainment’s new Christmas-themed movie When Santa Fell To Earth is one of the best holiday-themed movies to come along in a very long time. The movie, which is based on author Cornelia Funke’s 1994 book by the same name, is actually surprisingly entertaining. This is the even with the movie being just another adaptation of a book. The main reason for the movie’s success is that despite being adapted from a book, its story actually stands out quite a bit from all of the other cookie cutter Christmas-themed movies. It follows the formula used by so many major studios lightly at best. Another reason for the movie’s success is its minimal use of special effects. And while it was originally done in German or another European language, the work of those responsible for dubbing the film made that dubbing nearly invisible. It may seem like a minor factor. But in the grand scheme of things, dubbing foreign films whether foreign to English or vice versa is very important. Good dubbing results in a movie such as this. Bad dubbing can make a movie into a third rate product not worth even finishing let alone watching. Luckily for this movie, that poor dubbing didn’t work. The end result is a movie that along with its somewhat original script and its minimal use of special effects proves to be as enjoyable as any other holiday-themed movie released each year.

The central reason for the success of When Santa Fell To Earth is its writing. More specifically, the script is to thank for its success. Given, it is based on a two-decades old book. But that book in question is not one that most would consider well-known. What’s more, while there are some alterations in the transfer from the printed page to small screen, they aren’t nearly as much as some adaptations of other more well-known literary works. The story itself also stands out from other holiday movies out there. Most Christmas-themed movies see an average person saving Christmas by filling in for Santa or getting others to realize the “true meaning of Christmas” through a series of events. Those are the most common plot lines in most Christmas-themed movies. This movie takes a road not just less taken but a road no one else saw, period. According to this story, there are actually multiple Santas. But they’ve all been frozen by an evil figure that wants to rule Christmas and turn it into a fully corporate holiday. Enter Nikklas Julebukk (pronounced YULE-uh-buck). Nikklas is the last Santa standing between the evil Gerald Geronimus Goblynch. It’s up to Nikklas to stop Gerald and his henchman, and save Christmas. Nikklas crashes to Earth in his flight from Gerald and his henchman, leading to his meeting Ben and Charlotte, who help him to stop Gerald. There are no big red sleighs. The only reindeer in the movie is one that audiences definitely won’t recognize. Its name is Twinklestar. And instead of the North Pole, Nikklas is trying to keep the story’s villain from taking over Yuleland. Some names and places have been changed in the transition from the printed page to the small screen. But by and large, the story has been kept the same. That and the fact that this story is unlike nearly any other out there within the Christmas-themed genre is more than enough reason to see this movie at least once.

The overall originality of this movie’s script even in its transition from the printed page to the small screen is the most important factor in the movie’s success. Another reason that audiences will enjoy this movie is its minimalist use of special effects. The only special effects come courtesy of some CG work to create a pair of “Christmas elves” and a pair of tiny angels who serve as Nikklas’ companions. The elves are entirely CG. The angels (yes, they actually incorporate angels alongside Santa—a very young Santa at that) are live actors. But their wings and flying effects were obviously created via CG and green screen. Even Gerald’s evil giant nutcracker “soldiers” looked like they had been crafted by hand. Other than that, everything else within this movie looks to be live action. Again, one can’t help but make a comparison to other holiday movies out there today. Set against most American holiday movies its balance of live action elements and special effects gives it a rare feel that audiences of all ages will appreciate. It’s one more way in which When Santa Fell To Earth stands out among the already overcrowded market of Christmas-themed movies currently on the market. And together with the its largely original adaptation from its literary companion, this foreign import becomes even more enjoyable.

The balance of live action elements and CG-based special effects in When Santa Fell To Earth and the largely original story adapted from the book of the same name are both important to the overall success of this straight-to-DVD feature. Rounding out the entire presentation is the movie’s dubbing. It would seem that the movie’s original presentation was German simply by observing the movie’s credits and its setting. That would make sense considering that the author of the book on which this movie is based is herself German.   Those charged with dubbing the movie into English are to be commended for taking such painstaking efforts to present a clean product. There are movies dubbed into English that don’t exactly translate very well. The end result is something that looks like the old school kung-fu flicks and Godzilla movies imported from Japan and China. That’s not a good thing. Luckily in this case that poor translation didn’t happen. Audiences almost can’t tell that what they are hearing is in fact American voices speaking over European actors. There are points here and there where audiences will be able to catch the dubbing. But it’s nowhere near as obvious as in those noted old school Asian imports. The end result is a movie well worth watching at least once this holiday season when taken into consideration along with the movie’s story and its balance of live action and CG elements.

The story presented in When Santa Fell To Earth is one of the most original holiday stories presented to audiences in a long time. Given, it is based on a book that was originally published two decades ago. But in comparison to all of the other holiday movies out there it still stands out. And for the most part, it actually stays largely true to its literary link. Only a few minor items were changed in the story’s small screen adaptation. The minimalist use of special effects makes the story even more worth the watch. In an age when even holiday movies seem to rely increasingly on special effects and CG elements, this movie’s balance of live action to special effects makes it all the more worth the watch. Rounding out the presentation is the dubbing process. It’s assumed that the movie, in its original 2011 release, was presented in German. Those charged with dubbing the movie into English for its release this year carried out their duties expertly. The end result of these factors together is a movie that every family should see at least once this holiday season. It will be available on DVD Tuesday, October 14th. It can be ordered direct online now via Anchor Bay Entertainment’s website at http://www.anchorbayentertainment.com/detail.aspx?projectID=bd0b8d9a-21f7-e311-a502-d4ae527c3b65. More information on this and other titles from Anchor Bay Entertainment is available online at:

Website: http://www.anchorbayentertainment.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AnchorBay

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Anchor_Bay

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.