Eagle Rock’s Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert Re-Issue An Amazing Way To Finish Off The Year

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Freddie Mercury, the late front man of the legendary rock band Queen, was in his time one of the single most charismatic vocalists in the music industry.  Many vocalists have tried to emulate the legendary singer’s energy and style.  Few if any have succeeded.  Sadly, Freddy Mercury was taken from the world in 1991, one of so many victims of the then emerging AIDS epidemic.  The music world paid tribute to his legacy and memory in 1992 with a special live tribute concert.  The concert, held at London’s Wembley Stadium has become one of the biggest and most  powerful live concert events of the Twentieth Century, even after more than two decades since it was originally held.  The only concert event that could compare to this event is Woodstock ’94.  And now thanks to Eagle Rock Entertainment, the legacy of Freddie Mercury lives on once again thanks to the Blu-ray release of The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert.  While this SD Blu-ray release of The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert is not the first time that the concert has been released to the masses, this release is the concert’s best yet.    There is so much to be said of this latest re-issue.  The best place to start is the overall audio and video presentation.  Those charged with resurrecting the original footage are to be commended as the concert is presented here in its full original glory.  Audiences get to see the show as it looked in its original recording.  The audio sounds just as good.  This is especially the case for those with home theater systems.  The cinematography is incredible to say the least.  The crowd shots and shots of the crowd from the stage are collectively the epitome of the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words.  And of course, there is also the show’s set list and list of performers.  Both by themselves and collectively, they make a bold statement that puts the finishing touch on this incredible latest re-issue from Eagle Rock Entertainment.

The first and most obvious factor to investigate in Eagle Rock’s new re-issue of The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert is the audio and video mix.  This concert was recorded almost twenty-two years ago.  April 20th, 2014 will mark the twenty-second anniversary of this landmark concert.  Being that high definition recording was still years away when this concert was recorded, it’s obvious that the quality of the footage would not be crystal clear in this presentation.  But Eagle Rock openly noted on the recording’s case that this presentation is a Standard Definition Blu-ray.  That means that Eagle Rock openly notes that the presentation contained therein is a standard definition recording.  Those expecting pure 1080 quality video have only misled themselves.  Eagle Rock Entertainment is not to blame here.  That the footage still looks as good as it does over two decades later is a testament to those charged with maintaining and resurrecting it.  And having the option to set one’s TV to “Cinema” to gain the full concert video experience only serves to make it even better.

The quality of the concert’s video footage is impressive to say the very least.  It is presented in its original 4:3 aspect ratio.  Though, with the advent of high definition televisions, most viewers can set their monitors to present the concert in full “Cinema” mode.  That mode shows better than any how well the footage has stood the test of time.  The audio mix is just as impressive as the video in terms of its quality.  Every riff, every beat, and every chorus from the crowd of thousands is enhanced on this re-issue.  In comparison to the concert’s previous releases, the audio mix has never sounded better.  It has been enhanced so much that at times, the echoes of Brian May’s voice as he talked will make audiences think they are actually there in person.  It has been mixed that well.  That is quite the testament to those charged with restoring this concert to its former glory.  And along with the footage, it is one part of a very strong cornerstone of this recording.

The video and audio mixes serve collectively as a solid base for The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert.  The concert’s cinematography adds an extra element of enjoyment to the recording, too.  Much as was the case with Eagle Rock’s release of The Rolling Stones’ Hyde Park Live this Fall, the camera shots obtained over the course of this concert are extraordinary.  There is something to be said about an entire stadium full of people singing in unison, arms high in the air, clapping in time. The visual effect both from the stage and from high above the sea of bodies is something that cannot be put into words.  It is something that must be seen to be fully appreciated.  Even seeing the shots in question from one’s own sofa, bed, etc. is awe inspiring.  They collectively go to show the love that so many people had for Freddie Mercury and for Queen.  While the concert’s audio and video mixes are the foundation on which the concert rests, the shots obtained by the camera crews give the show its shape.  And what a shape those crews give the concert.

As one should be able to tell from everything noted already, there is much to like about Eagle Rock Entertainment’s new re-issue of The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert on SD Blu-ray.  Much has already been examined with this latest release from the leader in live recordings.  But it would not be complete without making mention of the concert’s set list and its equally diverse lineup of performers.  The show itself is set up into two separate segments.  The first of those segments is the “Opening Acts” segment.  This segment allows some of the acts tapped to perform at the concert to perform their own music and warm up the crowd at the same time.  This segment runs the gamut to say the very least.  It opens with a trio of songs from Metallica and follows that up with a medley of Queen hits courtesy of Extreme.  Guns N’ Roses (the original Guns N’ Roses) closes out the opening acts segments.  Def Leppard is also one of the opening acts.  Their front man, Joe Elliot, joins Elton John, George Michael, David Bowie, Annie Lennox, and so many other acts from across the music industry for the “Main Show” segment of the recording.  Having such a wide array of artists covering the music of one band is a bold statement.  It shows the impact that Queen had on them as bands and artists.  It also goes to show the respect that those bands and artists had for Freddie Mercury.  It goes to show the kind of person he was and how important he was to so many around him.  Keeping that in mind while watching the incredible shots, and hearing the equally incredible song selections is sure to bring a smile and maybe even a tear to some viewers’ faces.  If it does one, the other, or both, then it has most certainly done its job.  It means that Eagle Rock is that much more justified in once again unearthing this important piece of music history.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other live recordings from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at http://www.eaglerockent.com and 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.

White Tie Affair frontman talks solo debut, Lady Gaga, more

Good Monday morning, everyone.  I hope your week is off to a great start.  I’ve got another brand new review on the way.  But before I get into it, I’ve got another special treat of those of you that follow my daily ramblings.  While you wait for this morning’s brand new review, I’ve got an interview with White Tie Affair frontman Chris Wallace.  I had the honor of interviewing Chris recently.  I asked him about his dreams of being a musician, touring with Lady Gaga, and his brand new upcoming solo release, among other topics.  That album is due out this Summer, by the way.  So while you wait for this morning’s new review, why not sit back, grab that cup of coffee, and check out my interview with Chris Wallace.

PP:  Your bio mentions that you didn’t want to follow in your family’s footsteps.  And when you told people about your decision to try your hand in the music business, people talked down to you and tried to discourage you.  What was the reaction of your parents?  

CW:  My parents were always supportive in everything i wanted to do, but they had no idea how much of a dreamer I really was. They just thought it was a hobby I would grow out of. As soon as I got my first guitar there hasn’t really been a plan b to playing and writing music. Ha there still isn’t, and will prolly never be. I’m definitely a lifer. It’s just way to much fun.
PP:  You mention in your bio about pumping Queen in your car when you were growing up.  I’m curious, Queen aside, what were some of your favorite bands to listen to when you were growing up?

CW: I was really obsessed with the killers. for a while. I love how they blended dance, rock, pop and great songwriting to make amazing albums. I also love third eye blind, taking back sunday, and U2 . I’ve always been obsessed with great melodies in music. So also pretty much every pop song I’ve ever heard ha. 

  
PP:  I want to get in to the White Tie Affair for a little bit.  For the fans that might not know, how did the White Tie Affair originally come together? 

CW:  The white tie affair originally was just me. I grew up playing in local rock bands. One day in fall of 06, a  good friend convinced me to finish this pop song I was jokingly working on called ‘Mr Right.’ I produced and wrote it myself. A few weeks after the song was finished, I made up a band name (white tie affair) and put the song on MySpace. Seriously no more that 3 weeks later, I had several major label deal offers. My life had literally changed overnight. All because of one song…I put the band together and wrote our first album. We got to travel the world, play over 1000 shows, and I had such a great time!  

 
PP:  The feeling from White Tie Affair’s Facebook page is that you all are on pretty good terms, despite you striking out on your own.  So for fans of White Tie Affair, what are the band’s plans on recording another album?  Do you just consider doing this a side project, or do you see it taking prominence over White Tie Affair?

CW:  I don’t see myself doing another  white tie album. It was such a different time in my life. In workin on my solo project I’ve finally figured out how to add my personality and raw energy into the songs. The white tie affair was not nearly as personal as my upcoming album ‘Push Rewind.’ We are definitely on great terms tho. 

 
PP:  Getting back to the your bio, it mentions your tour with Lady Gaga.  Can you expand on how taht tour came to be?  Did her people come to you, or was it the other way around?  What was your initial reaction to being included on her tour?

CW:  I was actually turned on to lady gaga’s ‘the fame’ record way before she became a household name. I met her randomly after her set at lalapalooza 07 and had been following her career. So when my manager told me she was looking for acts for her tour. I immediately agreed we should submit for it. And when the tour started 9 months later, Lady Gaga was on her third #1 single and had become the biggest thing in music. It was more luck and timing and relationships that got me on that tour.  My initial reaction was… Wow this could be fun, but as her fame grew and grew and grew, It became more and more surreal. Gaga is such a great person and I learned so much from hangin out with her on that tour.  

PP:  Your bio mentions how you watched Axl Rose warm up for his show.  Are there any other favorite or least favorite moments that you can share with readers about your tour?  Are there any artists/bands that are on your “MUST” list in terms of who you’d love to tour with?

CW:  My favorite moment on tour had to be singing onstage with cindi lauper. A few years ago I was the opening act for 2 dates on her true colors tour. During our set, I glanced over and saw cindi lauper and Rosie o’donnel watching me play. If that wasn’t surreal enough… Right after my set they cornered me and told me how great I did. Cindi asked if I would come out and sing the second verse  of true colors with her. I went in my dressing room and listened to that song at least 30 times to prepare. Sharing the stage with such a music icon was something I could only dream of.   

PP:  You were really shy when you were growing up.  So are you still shy today, as an adult when you’re not performing?  Or do you find yourself a lot more open as a result of being such a huge star?

CW: I’m not shy at all anymore. I think it was just a part of growing up and finding myself. Music really helped me figure out how to express myself and the be person I wanted to be. Once I go in touch with who I was, it was hard to get me to stop talking haha.  
PP:  One more question before I go.  Your debut solo release comes out soon. For fans who have never heard The White Tie Affair or your music, what can they expect from your new album?

CW: At the core ‘push rewind’ has very hard hitting pop rock songs like ‘remember when’ and ‘keep me crazy.’ ..but there are also a few slower songs  like ‘ready to fall’ that i wrote on piano with a string quartet. Overall you can expect a high energy pop rock dance album that is very honest and personal.

Fans can keep up with all the latest from Chris Wallace online at http://www.chriswallacemusic.com, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/chriswallacemusic, and on Twitter at @chriswallace101.

To keep up with all the latest entertainment news and reviews, go to http://www.facebook.com/PhilsPicks and “Like” it or its companion page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141. Fans can also keep up with all the latest by following Phil’s Picks at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Bringing Metal to The Children is one Wylde read

Zakk Wylde is known throughout the music world as one of the most prolific guitarists in modern music history.  His chops are unequalled.  That he’s been part of fellow legend Ozzy Osbourne’s camps only adds to his reputation.  Now, the man who heads up the Black Label Society worldwide can add one more title to his resume.  That title is author.  And his new book, Bringing Metal to The Children:  The Complete Berzerker’s Guide to World Tour Domination is an amazing look behind the scenes at life on the road for Wylde and his BLS bandmates.

Wylde opens the book fittingly with an introduction to the Black Label Society creed:  SDMF. Strength, Determination, Merciless, Forever.  SDMF isn’t just some random marketing scheme.  For both fans and members of BLS, it’s a way of life.  It’s a creed.  It’s a motto of self empowerment.  Wylde writes of Strength that it relates to mental, physical and spiritual strength.  For those who don’t know, he is a very devout Catholic, despite what  some may believe of him (or his friend and mentor Ozzy Osbourne.  He discusses this later in the book).  And his faith plays a very big role in his personal strength.  By looking at him, it’s obvious that Wylde walks the walk and talks the talk.  He writes about his physical conditioning.  He explains about his exercise and eating habits, especially now that he’s sober.  That combination of spiritual and physical strength leads to his explanation of DeterminationDetermination is self explanatory.  He writes of this part of the BLS creed to not give up, no matter how tough or bad the situation may be. Merciless is directly tied in to Determination.  To be merciless means to give every bit of what one has.  Forget giving 100% of what one has.  Regardless of the situation, to be merciless means giving 1,000% of oneself.  Simply put, it means to never give up.  Never Give Up.  Those are three little words.  But they’re the key to this part of the BLS creed.  Again, they tie right in to Determintaion.  It all also ties directly back to Strength.  If one embraces these three parts of the BLS creed means that one will find they’ll want to live by that creed Forever.  Understanding the Black Label Society creed is to be part of the Black Label Society worldwide Forever.  It means being the best one can be Forever

The thorough explanation of the Black Label Society creed is a perfectly fitting opening to this new book.  That’s because it serves to disspel the label that has been placed on Black Label Society and its fans.  If the in depth explanation of the band’s creed isn’t enough to prove just how vital BLS is to the music community, then the explanation of the “Three Black Label R’s” and the signifigance of the band’s patches will serve to show outsiders that Black Label Society isn’t just a band.  It collectively shows that Black Label Society is a community and a way of life.  It creates a whole new appreciation for Black Label Society, and for that which Black Label Society stands.

After explaining the Black Label creed, Zakk starts discussing his beginnings as a musician up to his trials and tribulations as a solo artist, dealing with record labels, and his time with Ozzy and the creation of his own home studio, known as the Black Vatican.  Along the way, readers are treated to stories of good times with other rockers, such as:  Fozzy, Crowbar, Damageplan, etc.  He also writes some stories about fellow guitar god, Dimebag Darrel (R.I.P.).  OF course, stories of life on the road aren’t all that Zakk imparts to his readers in his new book.  He also tackles Ozzy’s religious reputation.  He explains to readers that all the rumors of Ozzy being this and that are entirely wrong.  Rather, he writes, Ozzy’s quite religious.  As a matter of fact, he writes that the crucifixes that he and all the Black Label Society members wear were made by Ozzy’s dad.  He ties in to that story of how he [Zakk] bought some books to try to understand certain topics, and his wife’s reaction to it.  One can’t help but agree with Zakk’s argument that reading it doesn’t mean practicing it.  Learning that after his wife threw the books out of a hotel window, and someone took them will bring plenty of laughs.

Speaking of laughs, real Black Label fans will have more than their share of laughs throughout this books.  Zakk writes of his early days in a little band called Stonehenge, and its attempts to get its name out there.  The story of his experience playing at a person’s house is the stuff of legend.  It’s the type of story one might only expect to hear or see from a movie or sitcom.  There’s also the story of one infamous in-store appearance with Ozzy in which the store only carried a grand total of twelve (yes twelve) Ozzy albums.  Reactions from both Zakk himself and Ozzy’s wife, Sharon, are absolutely hilarious.  And then there are, of course, stories of BLS’ radio ventures at stations that didn’t know the first thing about him or his band.  Perhaps one of the book’s funniest moments doesn’t come from in store appearances or Zakk’s early days.  It comes as Zakk explains the dangers of using the bathroom on a tour bus.  If this story doesn’t get audiences laughing, then nothing in this book will. 

Bringing Metal to The Children offers readers so much great material.  Whether one is a new member of the Black Label Society Worldwide, or a lifelong Berzerker, this book is an absolutely wonderful read for any Society Dweller worldwide.  It’s one of those rare music memoirs that really shines in a sea of books that clog bookstore shelves and digital downloading pages.  For fans of the rock world, if there’s one book to check out in 2012, it’s Zakk Wylde’s new book, Bringing Metal to The Children.